2007-03-25

Poor Things

This is supposed to be a note on some of the other books that I've been reading, but I can't get my mind off 'A Man in Full' (see my last post). The problem with philosophies is that they never seem to be able to encompass everything. It's the equivalent of Godel's incompleteness theorem in maths. I think this is linked to the problem of heirarchies of knowledge. That's why I think Wikipedia has it right in not having a heirarchy of articles in its URL structure. All articles are at the same level. In the same way, David Deutsch says that theories such as quantum mechanics, epistemology, the theory of computation and the theory of evolution don't have a heirarchy, each one can be seen as emergent from the others.

Anyway, Alasdair Grey is another author I've been meaning to read for ages, ever since I heard about Janine. I was given Poor Things by a friend, and her judgement was excellent as it is a brilliantly written book. It also raised lots of philosophical questions, but don't get me started. I recommend the book.

My aunt gave me Vanilla by Tim Ecott. This book is clearly based on painstaking research, and gives an exhaustive history of vanilla. The history is leavened by anecdotes of his travels on the trail of the plant. In fact, if I was his publisher I'd suggest it would be really interesting to focus on the anecdote part of his writing for his next book.

The first Bridget Jones book was awesome. The title of the next book 'The Edge of Reason' led me to think that it might be about her losing her mind. It isn't. It is very funny. I remember Helen Fielding's photo from the first Bridget Jones book, and she looks completely different in the dust jacket photo on this book. Incidentally, the author photo of A Man in Full shows Tom Wolfe in a sort of southern gent outfit.

A man in full possession of his writing talent

A Man in Full is the first Tom Wolfe I've read. I've always intended to read The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test but never got round to it. Part of what happens in AMIF is that characters get into desparate situations and are then helped by the philosophy of the Stoics, in particular Epictetus.

Wolfe has the character Conrad explaining, 'Epictetus said that Zeus has given every person a spark from his own divinity, and no one can take that away from you, not even Zeus, and from that spark comes your character. Everything else is temporary and worthless in the long run, your body included'.

But surely we know that this isn't really how things work. A person's character arises from the particular configuration of the neurons in their brain. Okay, well let's say that Epictetus was using 'divine spark' to mean the human spirit (not a supernatural thing). The bit about nobody being able to take away the 'divine spark' just isn't true. Epictetus obviously hadn't seen One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

2007-03-04

Replacement for 50w halogen GU10 lamps

In the kitchen, bathroom and sitting room I've got 50w halogen lamps with a GU10 fitting. Btw, most people say 'bulb', but apparently in the trade they say 'lamp'. I think it's like in the Navy they never say 'boat'.

Anyway, I'm trying to find a low energy replacement. I've bought two lamps from:

http://www.yourwelcome.co.uk/acatalog/copy_of_GU10_Low_Energy.html

The first one is the 'GU10 5w Cold Cathode lamp' for 7.99 GBP. This works really well. It comes on straight away and is close to the brightness of the halogen ones. The two drawbacks are:

  • The quality of the light isn't as warm as the halogen (but still not too bad).

  • It's bigger than the halogens and so doesn't fit in some sockets, and those where it does fit, it sticks out.

The second one I tried is the 'Luxeon LED lamp' at 10.99 GBP. The good things are:

  • It looks really good.

  • It's exactly the same size and shape of the halogen lamps.

  • It only uses 1W (yes, 1W!)

The bad points are that it isn't very bright, and the quality of the light is slightly odd. My Dad called it 'ghostly'. It's very white with a very slight greenish tinge (to my eyes anyway).