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The consumption of media

In the last few days I've been indulging what seems to have been a pent-up appetite for mainstream media.



In audiobooks, I've just re-listened to Steven Pinker's The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined. He treads tricky ground, claiming that violence in all measures, across all timescales over human history, has declined, and the 800 pages of supporting evidence for this counter-intuitive assertion are what make the book so shit-disturbing, so persuasive, and so powerful. It's not that we're evolving into less-violent animals, either: his whole point is that we're becoming less violent despite the redness of tooth and claw that's still very much in our genes.

Then there was Stephen King's 11-22-63, which I raced through during my vacation and reviewed a few days ago. I'm often disappointed by fiction (which is why I listen to so much non-fiction), but not this novel. I enjoyed every minute of it.

I also nommed on Death Comes to Pemberley, by P.D. James. Pure fanfic, of course. Rather well-written. In amongst the sly references to Jane Austen's other novels and characters, and a fairly intriguing murder mystery, there's an interesting look into the judicial system of early 19th century Britain. I liked the courtroom scenes.

Now I'm in the midst of Public Parts, journalist and blogger Jeff Jarvis's take on the internet privacy debate. Jarvis comes out strongly on the side of "publicness" and makes a good case for it, though, like all big-name bloggers and Twitterers with followers in the six digits, a lot of his pro-publicness stance seems based on the magic of being able to crowd-source ideas and information, a luxury not available to those of us whose online presence is on the radar of mere tens of people. But he's managed to make me reconsider my Facebook boycott. Eeep!

In a kind of odd juxtaposition to the publicness and the decline of violence, I've been mainlining episodes of Spooks, where coldblooded killing and invasion of privacy are the key plot elements. I'm most of the way through Series 4. It's good, but its combination of unnecessary brutality and formulaic plotting really becomes apparent when you watch lots of eps in quick succession. But I love Nicola Walker as Ruth Evershed. Love. Love-love-love. I'm waiting for the show to ruin her. (I suspect they called her Ruth because she's the only thing keeping the show from being entirely ruthless.)

I'm now up to date with Doctor Who, having chatwatched the Christmas special, almost in real time, last night. Thanks, [personal profile] vampirefan! That was fun!

And I tried to watch the Graham Norton Show that featured Matt Smith and Gillian Anderson, but I had to turn it off. Neither Matt Smith's real charm nor Gillian Anderson's fascinating acquisition of a perfect British accent could overcome my revulsion at her skin-crawling hatred of her fans.

And finally, I actually went to the movies this afternoon and saw Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. I think I liked it. I'm not sure. The acting was marvelous, and the economy of storytelling was amazing, but it was a bit too condensed, leaving me a bit unsure about what happened. It was not a total loss by any means, though: seeing Bendy in those lovely 70s three-piece suits made me more eager than I already was for new Sherlock episodes, which I understand are imminent.

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