A number of people (well, one is a number) have asked ridiculed my choice of name for this blog. This is really fair enough - calling things after vaguely obscure science fiction novels whose titles are inspired by poems which have footnotes is really a bit pretentious - but I feel that I should at least, in the spirit of my last post, make some kind of attempt to justify myself. Phlebas is referenced at least a couple of times in T.S Eliot's 'The Wasteland', by name in the fourth stanza, and by the clairvoyant on line 47. The fourth stanza seems to me to be in the spirit of Shelley's 'Ozymandias', which I like an awful lot - all the that quite proper disrespect for the pretensions of those who supposed that they have attained a position of authority and solidity, beyond the reach of historical contingency, so well expressed - quite apart from the poem itself, which while quite pretentious itself, is also rather good. The Iain Banks novel is, I suspect, named in this spirit, quite apart from also being rather good as well. It was also the first thing that came into my mind after another dual quotation was rejected - Interesting Times, which is both the title of Eric Hobsbawm's biography, which supports the keyboard for my laptop, and so is constantly in my line of sight when I sit at it, and the curse of a people obviously modelled on the Chinese after which a Terry Pratchett (a bit pulp, I know) novel is named - which I think would have also been pleasingly apposite.
I've also decided that I'm going to follow a general policy of linking to threads on other blogs which I have been commenting on, so, here is another Crooked Timber discussion about a piece of research which shows that the level of autonomy you have at work has a serious effect on your life expectancy. The reason for doing this is that I think the main virtue of the blogosphere is that you might, just might, persuade some people that they're wrong about things, and posting here isn't going to do that, because the chances of them just accidentally coming across my blog are fairly minimal, at least until I achieve a level of recognition appropriate to my immense wisdom. That said, I might say something about both England's magnificent test victory yesterday and about the implications of the things I said about reasons on Sunday tomorrow.