30/04/2013

Reading - April 2013


My Booky Wook by Russell Brand (2008)
I'd heard this was good but I abandoned it about three chapters in. Affected and boring if you're not actually interested in Russell Brand.
The Law Of Delay by C. Northcote Parkinson (1970)
Despite being published later than In-Laws And Outlaws, this collection of magazine pieces is much more dated. While occasionally offering valid points about bureaucracy (the Law Of Delay: "delay is the deadliest form of denial") it loses goodwill by postulating that working women are responsible for a lack of respect from youth. Dispensable.
In-Laws And Outlaws by C. Northcote Parkinson (1962)
What starts as a tongue-in-cheek but very out-dated manual for success in the world of business (the would-be executive is advised to determine his - always his - prospective employer's capability by the attractiveness of his secretary) becomes a surprisingly current comment on corporate behaviour. I could quote many passages but here's one towards the end of the book:
Executives are broadly of two kinds, those technically capable of starting something new and those merely able to administer the organisation that exists. Which is the more important - a new product or a smooth procedure? There is usually some lip-service to innovation and progress but the real scale of values is expressed in the salary cheques. Who matters more, the engineer or the accountant, the chemist or the clerk? [...] Where the highest value is placed on routine competence, the process of decay has begun.
This passage reminds me of something - I'll remember what soon, I'm sure ...
May Week Was In June by Clive James (1990)
For some reason this installation of the autobiography took two months. It's still fascinating and the writing is as immaculate as ever, but it becomes a bit breathless. I'm in awe of how much he managed to learn and read while at Cambridge though. It's also a salutary reminder of the benefits of going to Cambridge - he clearly met many, many future contacts there.
Casual Day Has Gone Too Far by Scott Adams (1997)
Funny and easy to read over breakfast.
Dogbert's Top Secret Management Handbook as told to Scott Adams (1998)
Amusing and too accurate satire of inept management. Contains my favourite Dilbert cartoon. "Did our core business change? Or are you saying that every reorg prior to this was a misdirected failure?"
The Effluent Society by Norman Thelwell (1971)
Interesting to see that many current ecological concerns were already in place forty years ago.
Belt Up by Norman Thelwell (1974)
A bit hit and miss, and reflective of its time, particularly so in the jokes about women drivers. Great pictures though. I used to love copying the cars.
Voodoo Histories by David Aaronovitch (2010)
An utterly fascinating and incredibly frustrating recounting and debunking of many of the prime conspiracy theories of our times. Fascinating because of the range of ludicrous notions entertained by idiots down the years; frustrating for exactly the same reason. That otherwise intelligent people are prepared to believe, and continue to believe such arrant nonsense makes me despair.

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