Saturday, 16 August 2008

The God Delusion

Another of books from my birthday haul was The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. I have just finished reading the book and, whilst it is written in a pretty provocative style and hence won't be to everyone's taste, it is certainly very thought provoking.

The book is pretty clearly signposted as having been written from a scientific perspective and Mr Dawkins makes no secret of his own atheism. The book seeks to outline why the existence of a supernatural creator is highly improbable. He certainly manages to highlight many unsavory aspects of the main religions both historically and currently; however, whilst the beliefs of the author and the book's tone may alienate some readers I found it very interesting and it certainly made me re-examine my own views and beliefs.

Some people will probably dismiss this book out of hand but I think that would be a missed opportunity. Whether you approach the book from a theistic, agnostic or atheistic perspective it provides a whole series of challenges which are worth reading for the thought process it provokes and it is written in a pretty accessible style.

I would certainly recommend this book.

Saturday, 9 August 2008

The Dark Knight

I managed to get out and catch a showing of The Dark Knight a few days ago. As a Batman fan and having really enjoyed Batman Begins, I had high expectations for this movie, tempered only by my reservations regarding sequels. So how did it measure up?

Well, Heath Ledger is as good as everyone says as the Joker, the scenes with him are certainly amongst the best in the movie. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman are all good but rather under utilised, in my opinion. But Batman himself has become somewhat two dimensional in comparison with the first movie.

There are some excellent action sequences, some great lines and some lovely imagery but overall the movie feels too long and the story isn't either cohesive or coherent enough to carry the length. This isn't a bad movie by any means but it could have been so much better. I will add the DVD to my collection (but then as I already have the risible Batman and Robin movie that doesn't mean much) but I think it was a missed opportunity as with a few changes it could have been great.

Monday, 4 August 2008

Ones and 0s by Geoff Smith

Cali Lewis from Geekbrief showed this on Brief 401 and I liked it - thought you might too:

Ones and 0s by Geoff Smith from Cali Lewis on Vimeo.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

iTunes Pricing - What are they thinking?

Having just got another email tell me of more interesting TV shows now available on the UK iTunes store - I pulled it up to find more spectacular examples of crazy pricing. Why is it that they think I'm going to buy something for more than I can get it on DVD from Amazon? The iTunes content can only be played on my authorised devices - so I can't pop round to watch any of it on my friend's plasma TV for example and I don't get any of the DVD extras either (OK so some of them aren't very good but there are others which are really worth watching). In some cases the price for buying a whole TV series is the same as or only a few pence less than buying each episode individually.

Frankly these guys really don't get it! Price the stuff competitively and folks like me will buy it. I'm not even talking about deep discounting just keep it competitive with DVD and it would be attractive - until then don't expect me to be buying much...

Friday, 1 August 2008

Tipping Point

I've just finished reading The Tipping Point my Malcolm Gladwell. I've probably approached his books the opposite way round to most people having found Blink first.

The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference is another fascinating read. This time Malcolm Gladwell looks at the phenomenon of the social epidemic looking at such diverse examples as New York subway crime, Hush Puppies, Paul Revere and suicide in Micronesia. He attempts to construct explanations for the dramatic way in which such ideas, trends or behaviours seemingly reach a threshold and then spread like wildfire. Along the way he touches on some very interesting associated topics which go someway to explain phenomena I have experienced personally.

All in all a thought provoking read.