Doughnut Economics

This is an utterly profound book that I urge everyone to read. 

For a long time, a thought has been brewing in my head. Why is everyone obsessed with growth? Both sides of the political spectrum are falling over themselves to tell us all how they will grow our economy and make our lives better in the process. I found myself wondering whether I was mad to question this. Surely many of the problems we face in the modern age are linked to growth. Climate, resource limitation, land loss etc. 

The population of the planet reached 8 billion just last week. It seems barn door obvious that this cannot go on forever. (And don’t tell me it’s fine because population growth is slowing. That means it is still growing and I don’t know about anyone else but 8 billion is a tad too many in my books). It is blatant that there must be a limit at which we can build more and manufacture more, space and resources being two obvious limiters. The collateral effect on the climate is also something blindingly obvious but is something that many lunatics seem to still deny. Growth seems to be an infinite prospect that we all must apparently crave but the problem is we live on a planet that is very much a finite playground.

Well, a while back I stumbled across this TED talk by Kate Raworth about Doughnut economics and she verbalised pretty much everything I had been thinking about. And then some. Her book goes even further. 

It is an unmissable and undeniable classic that explains her ‘doughnut’ theory of economics, one which depicts a ring that represents the sweet spot of social pillars such as climate, equality, peace, land, ocean health, wealth etc. Within the ring are represented the things that we still need to grow and improve upon. But outside the ring is where we overshoot into a realm of profound unsustainability. Not surprisingly, we are not doing very well at staying within this ring. 

The book eloquently explains why this inexorable journey in growth at all costs is perhaps not a good idea and suggests ways in which this might be changed.  That it has to be explained is somewhat of a mystery to me, but then this world is a strange place. 

Take home message would be that if all countries in the world grew to the stage at which the US, Canada and Sweden do, we would need 4 Earths to sustain them. 

Maybe it’s the cynic in me, but the fact that there are such odd, politically selfish and shortsighted perspectives out there, particularly from those in the position to do something, that the measures required to change our path are never going to come to pass. 

But either way read the book. Everyone should be forced to do so imo. 

 

 

The Lies of Lock Lamora

I haven’t read what I would call a ‘fantasy’ book for quite some time. I have been thinking about doing so for a while and this is the one that caught my attention. Really enjoyed it. It follows a gang of thieves operating within a gothic, Mediterranean style fantasy city. They are sort of grifters so it resembles a sort of fantasy style Hustle. Good story, interesting characters, good twists and an easy read. You can’t go wrong with this if you like the genre I reckon. It’s the first in a series so I’ll be reading the rest, although not straight away!

Progress!

 
It’s been a busy couple of months for this project. Fortunately there is fruit to show from our labours. Like a mad man, I have decided to tackle two tracks almost simultaneously. If I’m honest, it just sort of happened like that but either way, it’s been an interesting juggling act. The two tracks in question are Nightdrive, the prog rock protagonist at the heart of my previous blog, and Kemosabe which is more of a classic rock song.
 
Since last time around, we have been into the studio for Nightdrive, under the steady gaze of a chap called Al – a producer whose own music I admire greatly. (Check out ‘From Sea to Sky’ by Heights.)
 
 
Such is the length and sheer mayhem of time signature variation involved, it took a whole day just to lay down the drums. Marcus, the man tasked with this hit those things all day and must have been exhausted, while Sanj and Tom bonded over their lack of anything to do.
 
 
 
We are due in to put the rest of the track down next week so watch this space.
 
Kemosabe meanwhile crept up in an entirely different way. While most of these tracks are going to involve new and previously unlinked musicians (hopefully) this track was always going to be an exception to that rule. Since I wrote this song, I have always had it in my head that it would be perfect for one of my uni bands, formerly named Iguazu and more recently a switch to the ridiculously named ‘Tempest Kings’. The issue with this is, as often happens with groups of friends, the members of said musical group have been torn asunder and cast in all sorts of directions. Al (another Al) now lives and plies his trade as a GP in North Wales, Jono is an all action A&E consultant in Bath and Ben is also a GP but rather than living in North Wales, he decided to run off to Australia. Problematic for a reunion one might think. So it was that when I heard that Ben would be gracing the UK with his presence for 3 weeks, I had to make it happen.
Cue some hasty doodlepolls and an online practice session over zoom and all of a sudden we were in the same studio that we had last used to record a whole album a few years back. This time, we would be calling upon the services of John David, an experienced rocker and producer who had just had Shakin Stevens into his studio a few days before and who plied his trade with the Dave Edmunds band back in the 70s. A nicer man you will struggle to meet.
 
Considering that was the first time we had all been in the same room for a few years (since Jono’s wedding in fact) and considering we had not really figured out how the track was going to go, that we got a serviceable song out of it at the end of the day is a bit of a miracle! I must admit, I had been anxious as to how it would all go but we got it done. The studio helped, walls replete with records John had written or produced from the likes of Mr Stevens, Robert Plant and Status Quo to name a few.
 
 
Racks of cool looking guitars created the backdrop for a productive day (Jono and Ben are both guitar geeks and got way more of a kick out of these than I) as did one of the best coffee machines I’ve yet to come across.
Inevitably, the song could not be completed and mixed all in one day so it needed a second one. Alas, Ben had returned down under and Al had returned to patients and children in North Wales by the time a second day could be arranged.
 
Jono was on hand however to help with the finishing touches which turned out to be more extensive than any of us had imagined. With that done though, the final track, needing some fairly extensive mixing still, was done!
 
 
 
Once Nightdrive is done too, I might provide the snippiest of snippets from each track on here but for the full ones, you’ll all have to wait until the remaining nine tracks are all done! If you follow the instagram and social medias links however, you never know, you might get a few extra bits and pieces here and there.
 
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The Story of Music

This is a fair old undertaking, so it’s impressive that this book is not as long as one might think. However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t manage to cram in a lot of interesting stuff. Shore is eloquent and learned in what he writes. There is an enormous breadth of material referenced by him in an assured display of knowledge of his trade. 

From my perspective, I found it enlightening in terms of the evolution seen by music. The enormous shifts within the early twentieth Century in particular in a way that things just made that little bit more sense afterwards. A bit like having looked at one’s location on a map and seeing it’s position in the context of everything else around. For anyone interested in music, this is a good shout. 

 

Try This At Home

I’ve not really listened to Frank Turner much. I’m aware of one or two of his more popular songs but I was going into this relatively blind, mainly as a curiosity from a songwriting angle (In the middle of my own music project at the moment so this was good background reading). Frank Turner is actually quite an accomplished writer. He makes a lot of sense in places and this honest account is quite biographical but also gives a lot of insight into his own songwriting techniques. I don’t really listen to lyrics but, with his work being lyric-centric, I did appreciate a lot of his, each chapter beginning with the lyrics to a particular song. 

For any music fan, this is a really decent read. 

A Fatal Crossing

Bought on a whim in an airport. Already had more books on me that I would read but I couldn’t resist this one. Perfect by-the-pool reading. Perhaps better for an autumn evening but nevertheless I thoroughly enjoyed this – what was essentially an intelligent, concisely written detective novel. The classic closed environment whodunnit, especially if maritime in nature is too much for me to resist. Refreshingly the story does not disappoint towards the end. Annoying that this guy is a decade younger than me and can produce something so accomplished as this! He’ll go far I suspect. 

The Power of Geography

Loved the first instalment. Loved this. More of the same incisive and intelligent analysis of our current geopolitical situation. Allows one the luxury of broadening their horizons in what has become a far too insular and inward looking world. Clever bloke. 

When We Cease to Understand the World

A nice short book so I picked it up as it wouldn’t be too much of an issue if it were a slog and also it has been endorsed by William Boyd which must be a plus. I do also note that Philip Pullman has stuck his oar in too and I have mentioned before how misled I’ve been from one of his endorsements. Happily, this book was brilliant and, as they say, is quite unlike any other I’ve read. Part history of science, part fiction, it takes one on a journey through various voyages of scientific discovery. Mathematics, Chemistry and physics all get his attention and ironically it gave me, if anything, a litter more understanding of the world. Recommended. 

Cryptonomicon

This is a door-stopper of a speculative fiction novel. I have mixed feelings about it. The two time frames, one during WW2 and one in the late 90s, were well imagined and quite cool. It is set around factual events but has a couple of random additions which I didn’t feel were necessary – the invention of two fake countries for example. The characters were well written and fleshed out well. One character seemed quite mysterious and although on the face of it presented quite a big plot hole, upon reflection I quite like this aspect. I particularly liked the mirroring of certain themes between the two time frames. 

The plot was good and centred on code breaking giving rise to modern computers and crypto currency. It does not seem to have been edited in any way however. Perhaps it is a testament to his writing that I didn’t struggle to get through it – it just took a long time because it’s so long – but I think it could have been easily trimmed to a sixth or seventh of its length without losing anything. Indeed this would have made it a bit easier to follow in places. I suspect his style is to write in a bit of a vague fashion with an underlying assumption the reader will infer what a character is doing or something that has happened off page without writing it. While it is his style, the book could have been more successful if he had written it in a more conventional way I think. He probably doesn’t care about that though.  

The spine of a cracker is there, it was just fleshed out to the nth degree, sometimes with rambling extraneous info and at other times random cryptography sections that would be better off in a text book. Overall, packed full of interest and action. A real epic.