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These slapdash "Buy books about whatever-you-searched-for at Amazon!" search-result pleadings are occasionally amusing, but rarely quite this sinister:-

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Cash and respite would be nice, I admit, but auctioning myself off seems a bit of an extreme way to do it. And I'd kind of assumed that I already had the top job in the industry...
Shades of Fahrenheit 451 in a piece of shameful foot-and-mouth news from the Eye:-
"The impression of agricultural crises as media show intensified when the police also told journalists that, although the corpses of livestock were ready for lighting at 3pm, MAFF would wait until dark to give a better photo opportunity."
American researchers suggest that we start napalming infected livestock, such an assault being far cheaper and quicker than the construction of hideous petrol-soaked pyres. [from Eperdu]
The excellent Dr Richard Wiseman comes out with another sceptical experiment; seeing who's best at predicting the stock-market - a financial analyst, a financial astrologer or a four-year-old child. Results - the astrologer lost 294, the analyst came out 178 worse off, and the child lost just 11. Hurrah.

And tangenting from The Trial, Dr Wiseman's also quoted elsewhere as saying, as part of an experiment to see if juries are more likely to find thuggish-looking defendants guilty, that "although scientists no longer accepted the 19th-century belief that offenders had certain facial characteristics, the public still believed in criminal stereotypes".

Following on from talking fag packets, a talking vodka bottle is patented. Amongst other things it "allows you to drink alone", although the thought of tinny sampled party laughter ringing around an empty bedsit seems more in the league of "mocks you for drinking alone". [via Blue Ruin]
Hm, the guess where Mir will crash game from the Brunching Shuttlecocks, circa 1999, doesn't seem to work any more. A pity they didn't dust it off for tomorrow's impact, really. (Looking for the link myself, I see that I forgot to actually provide one for that pretentious Cube analysis I mentioned the other day. Tsk tsk.)
A magnificent production of Kafka's The Trial at the Brighton Komedia last night; five actors in slapdash monochrome facepaint, a revolving corner-of-room set and a variety of white and grey costumes. Gripping stuff, with a superbly edgy K. giving occasional earnest spotlight soliloquies, against a memorably eclectic supporting cast and rather creepy usage of the audience as both court officials ("You're all wearing the badges!") and the waiting-room arrested. Must read the book again.

And browsing relevant bits of the Web, I've found a rather good paper that analyses the tale and puts it into legal and historical perspective. Interesting stuff.

"Britain Plans Pre-Emptive Cull, Doo-Dah, Doo-Dah." The Cube Dvorak deck, based upon Vincenzo Natali's film, is ready for consumption. It does contain a couple of spoilers, but I suspect the film's predictable enough for them not to impact that much, really.
Byliner is a far more useful conglomeration of writings, however - it scans a hefty collection of online magazines and newspapers and, if you give it the names of some columnists, will drop you a line whenever any of them publish anything. Handy for keeping up with your favourites, and also for finding obscure one-offs from random people. [via Interconnected] The Open Diary - a community of vapid online journals, sampled at random on the front page like a radio cruelly tuned to the brainwaves of passers-by too asinine or egotistical to tinfoil their thoughts. [via Hate the Stupid]
"My name is Quaid Loman. I don't know what the Game is or who is running it. I don't know where I am -- although it seems to be some isolated island resort -- and I don't know how I got here. There are nineteen total strangers here with me who appear to have no more idea than I do what is going on. We have discovered no means of communicating with the outside world, and no boat or plane with which to escape from here. Although we have no memory of it, all of us seem to have signed the following contract..."
And the contract is a basic Nomic ruleset, which the prisoners are allowed to modify by consensus, it being inferrable that those who deviate from the rules are killed by helicopter gunships or something. Written by a veteran Nomic player, The Omega Game seems an obvious next step from other mysterious social-psychological dramas, one of those story ideas you can't see why you haven't thought of yourself. I wonder if it ends with someone pulling off a clever ruleset scam to the annoyance (and/or death) of everyone else? Or with the shadowy overseers turning up and apologetically mumbling that, having moved house and started new jobs, they haven't really got time to run the game any more?
Struggling to tell a joke properly (I usually just summarise them with apologetic disinterest):-
"There's a particularly nasty throat infection going around at the moment, which causes people's tongues to retract and fold up at the backs of their mouths. Doctors say it's the worst epidemic of Futon Mouth they've seen in years."
Memetic mutation of a rather poor "Futon Mouse disease" joke a nameless entity told me yesterday. Although I wonder how many jokes are so irresistably obvious that they must evolve convergently all over the place.
"Finally, when the notion of the static ichnograph proves limited, she begins to understand the Cube in terms of a procedure, a movement governed by the tension Massumi calls 'paradox with precision', an idea that refers one back to the thesis on the machine's ability to re-order transgression as pseudo-transgression, the use of the desiring body as battery."
Horrific pseuds-corner philosopher-dropping over-analysis of the vaguely irritating but thought-provoking-afterwards psychological sci-fi film Cube.
Hm, after far too much starting of new books on long journeys (why bother taking along something half-read that you'll have finished by the time you change at Victoria?), I've finally shed bookmarks from a couple. Harry Thompson's biography of Peter Cook made for witty, insightful and ultimately tragic reading; although I already knew a good bit about the man and his work, I never really appreciated how it all fitted together, how much of his great material was written so early, and how so many of his career's later optimistic upswings fell miserably away. Thompson's fairly flat writing style keeps everything in perspective, whilst making the frequent quotations and anecdotes all the more striking and brilliant, and it paints a memorable picture of the greatness and sheer boredom that genius can bring.

As well as that, I wrapped up Iain Banks' The Business with rather too little interest. His habit of assuming the reader knows as much about the setting as he does is alright if you live in the right universe, but it was still a rather irritating book. Countless samey "meeting up with an eccentric person for plot-advancement conversation" segments, an odd, rather bad choice of main character, and an ominously interesting sub-plot that fizzled out in favour of the painfully-obvious other one. The atmosphere of the made-up Himalayan country of Thuhn was great, and Ferrindonald had some good material, but the rest of the book was a bit too grating for my brain. Passable journey fodder, but I wouldn't recommend it that highly.

"People of Earth, this will not take long. We only want to fribble your tweems." Feh; Catherine posts a link to UFO in Kushiro, a Murakami short story seemingly written specifically for New Yorker magazine, but the page in question was replaced first thing Monday, new content for a new week. Has anyone still got the previous in their cache?
More or less everything by Kevan Davis.
As Above is part of the Uncertain Organisation.