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the corporation

March 13, 2005

Off-topic, but still… When I was back in the UK at Christmas, I picked up a copy of The Corporation by Joel Bakan. I read it last week, and I’d highly, highly recommend it. It’s an interesting, well-written, easy read (I thought), and it’s powerfully argued. The fact that its ultimately optimistic—ending with some very interesting, constructive thoughts about how we might go about protecting democracy and human rights from the profit motive—left me feeling, and hoping, that it might actually prove to be an important book.

While I’m on/off the subject, I also liked Francis Wheen’s How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World. I opened it with fairly low expectations, mainly due to the slightly fuddy-duddy sounding title, half-expecting a collection of spluttering essays on the ridiculousness of the things some people believe. In fact, he puts forward a pretty coherent argument that lots of apparently-unconnected modern trends (from free-market economics to deconstructionism to alternative medicine to the popularity of ‘management gurus’ and self-help books) reflect an underlying turn against the values of the Enlightenment, the implication being that if we’re not careful, we could find ourselves heading for a new Dark Age.

Further and further off-topic… this man’s experiments in information visualisation are the sort of thing that make doing a PhD seem seriously tempting… Following links from that site, I arrived (via here) at this utterly beautiful series of pictures, created through a hi-tech form of time-lapse photography.

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