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I have a burning need to know stuff and I love asking awkward questions.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Just Finished Reading: Darkest Hour – How Churchill Brought Us Back from the Brink by Anthony McCarten (FP: 2017) [265pp] 

It is arguably the most important political transition in modern UK history – from Neville Chamberlain to Winston Churchill in May 1940. But how exactly did it happen and, more importantly, why Churchill? Like many people I was hugely impressed by Gary Oldman’s portrayal of Winston in the 2017 movie also written and co-produced by this author. Apart from humanising an iconic figure it also showed the sometimes-fraught events that led to Churchill becoming Prime Minister (as well as the newly created role of Minister of Defence) at just the moment he was needed. 

Even before the Germans advanced into the Low Countries on their way to France it was clear that Chamberlain’s appeasement policy had failed. With the crisis only deepening it wasn’t long before the Labour opposition was calling for his resignation. But who would replace him? The two options – neither of which seemed good at the time – were Lord Halifax or Winston Churchill, with Halifax being championed by the incumbent Conservative party and Churchill insisted on by Labour. Both men had their problems: Halifax stated time and again that he didn’t want the job of PM but would only serve if there was no good alternative. The other issue is that he was a Lord – so couldn’t sit in the House of Commons, which would be quite an impediment going forward! Churchill, meanwhile, was loathed and mistrusted by many. He had changed parties (twice!) before and was seen as fundamentally unreliable. He was seen as a maverick (true) and as a hot head (also true). But he had opposed the Appeasement policy from the outset and had consistently pointed out the dangers of Germany’s growing power and ambition. Over the space of several weeks both factions manoeuvred to get ‘their man’ into position with Churchill, as we know, getting the job in the nick of time. 

This was an interesting read. The author looked at those eventful days through the lens of 3 iconic speeches Churchill gave – to Parliament in two cases and to the public with one more – showing how they came to be, and the techniques Winston used (including trying out various phrasing on people to see what reaction they had to them). That was a nice touch. The other thing he focused on was the number of meetings – both before and after Churchill became PM – and how they shaped the arguments for and against each man taking up the top job. I did have some criticism here when the author speculated on what exactly was said BEFORE the minute taker arrived. I did think this was a step too far to be honest and soured my opinion of the book a bit (although only a bit). One important thing to remember is that the minutes of a meeting never fully reflect what was said during it. I’ve been in FAR too many meetings and had taken minutes in a few to understand that. The minutes are not, and are not intended to be, a verbatim report of what was said. If that was the case, they’d be far less coherent than they actually are! Minutes reflect what was meant to be said. The chair often directs the minute taker NOT to record something that is not wanted in the record. Once the minutes are taken and they typed up, they’re circulated around the participants and amended, before being re-typed and re-circulated for final approval. Only once they have been approved – in effect twice – are they finally released to a larger audience and become an official record. So, minutes might very well reflect what was said (in a general way) but they are ultimately designed for public consumption (and History) rather than a real-time account and this is why, by and large, tape records are not allowed in meetings – they record EXACTLY what happened! 

But anyway, I’m not completely convinced that Halifax had much of a chance of being PM (even if the King did indeed prefer him to Winston) or that Churchill was *such* an outsider that parliament would’ve turned him down – especially with such an existential crisis upon us. From what I know (more to come on THAT subject), the political drama in the movie was ramped up more than a little. Chamberlain clearly had to go – not least because he was dying of cancer as well as being WAY out of his depth as a wartime Prime Minister. Halifax *might* have been suitable if no one else was available. Luckily, for so many people, Churchill not only was available but seemed to be MADE for the role. It was a long time coming but he was the right person in the right role at exactly the right time. How different things could’ve been without him. Recommended (with a few caveats) and much more to come on this pivotal moment. Oh, and if you haven’t seen the movie... Do so. It’s EXCELLENT. 

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Monday, November 27, 2023

Just Finished Reading: They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? By Horace McCoy (FP: 1935) [121pp] 

1930’s California. On trial for his life, Robert Syverten looks back on the circumstances that got him here. An aspiring director still full of dreams and hopes despite everything else, he finds himself in the company of Gloria Beatty who has given up all hope of becoming an actress or of living a normal life. In the hopes of winning the main prize of $1,000 they decide to join forces and enter a local Dance Marathon. Having to dance, or at least move with only short breaks for as long as it takes isn’t so bad when you consider that they’ll feed you regularly and, if you’re lucky, you might even get sponsored by local businesses who’ll provide clothes and shoes. It’s a pretty sweet deal – IF you can stay on your feet. Robert has a few fans in the audience and even the possibility of a job offer, but Gloria has little interest in being approachable. As their relationship starts to sour an increasing harsh program of ‘elimination’ events start to cull the swaying couples. Can they both stay on their feet long enough to win the prize or will Gloria sabotage everything out of pure spite?

 I have vague memories of the 1969 movie adaptation of this strange little novel so knew something of what to expect. This was in many ways a brutal critique of the Great Depression and the crushing reality of what people will do to survive one more day. It’s also about the absolute loss of hope and what people will do to hasten the end and get it over with. The main characters are very well drawn, and I liked Robert even if he was rather naïve given the circumstances. He certainly wasn’t lucky, that’s for sure! Gloria is a NASTY piece of work whose main reason for living seems to be to ruin other people’s lives because her own is so apparently hopeless. Starting fights with other contestants is the least of her ‘talents’ and (just as we are supposed to) I really didn’t like her although she did elicit some pity which, no doubt, she would’ve thrown back in my face. The venue of the dance hall was very well done and even the organisers – despite making money from the horrible spectacle – seemed to be reasonable men. Overall, despite its very short length, I found this to be very affecting and thought provoking. It certainly offers an interesting perspective on the Depression era. Somewhat depressing (as you might imagine) but well worth a read. Recommended. 

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Thursday, November 23, 2023

Starting to get a bit cold for this sort of thing...

Just Finished Reading: Weaponized Lies – How to Think Critically in the Post-Truth Era by Daniel Levitin (FP: 2016) [263pp] 

One thing that my LONG educational journey – School, College and University – taught me well was how to create good arguments. Equally important was the ability to deconstruct arguments to see how they work or to show why they don’t work as well as they should. I was taught to spot assertions masquerading as facts and failures of logic. I actually enjoyed taking arguments apart, either in writing or verbally during a debate, and pointing out hidden assumptions, unstated beliefs, false equivalence and so much more. Debating was FUN. It also helped that, as far as I can tell, I’m a natural sceptic and I take some convincing about things I’m initially unsure about. It goes a long way to explain why I’ve been an Atheist from the moment I started thinking about the subject. But this isn’t about belief in gods. This is about the present we find ourselves in – were misinformation and disinformation are not only hyper-prevalent but weaponised to boot! 

Weaponised lies are nothing new. Such things have been around for as long as humanity has existed on this ball of dirt. What’s new is the speed, the power and the targeting of such lies – and they are lies not just debatable points – to influence people and, ultimately, get them to mistrust almost everything, even things (or maybe especially things) they see with their own eyes. So, can we do anything about it or are we destined to spend our lives liken frightened rabbits staring into the headlights of social media? Thinking *critically* is the key. When you’re presented with an argument or information the 5G towers spread Covid, or that the Earth is FLAT and not a globe, or that vaccinations make people magnetic or that we never landed on the Moon or that the world is secretly run by a cabal of alien lizards you can go... Hold on one second. How exactly is THAT supposed to work? Then you can start teasing the ‘argument’ apart and see if it stacks up to reality and exactly how it's all supposed to hold together. You might need to do some (proper!) research, you’ll probably need some basic knowledge of how things really work, and you might even need a passing acquaintance with mathematics but none of that is beyond most people – even those with busy lives. Red Flags are something that you should be aware of – like graphs without labelling of the axes or where they don’t explain why the scale changes as you move along one axis. A BIG red flag for me is FAST talking. If someone is bombarding you with ‘information’ and never pauses long enough for you to either think or interject it seems to me that they’ve got something to hide. Likewise, those who reject questions or requests for clarification. I particularly don’t trust people who get angry when you question what they’re saying. If they can’t put their argument over without shouting or attacking you (hopefully just verbally) then they’ve already LOST their argument in my view. 

Following on from his previous book ‘The Organized Mind – Thinking Straight in the Age of Information Overload’, this is a valuable read with a host of techniques anyone can use to check what they’re reading or hearing for validity or BS. Unfortunately, these days it seems that these are skills we need to have to hand at a moment's notice. But they’re nothing to be afraid of. Thinking critically can be learnt and can be utilised in a hundred different ways, from avoiding e-mail scams to working out if an offer in your local supermarket is really an offer or not. Most importantly it’s a skill that can be used to reduce anxiety and discover what’s really going on in the world rather than worrying about space lasers or pizza parlour paedophiles. Definitely recommended and more from this author to come.  

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Tuesday, November 21, 2023

I used to think that my headaches were, by and large, caused to my Coke/Pepsi addiction - and withdrawal symptoms thereof. I was wrong (most probably). Since retiring around 3 1/2 years ago now, I've barely had a headache worthy of its name. Now I'm certainly sleeping more (around 8 hours these days) than I used to, so I'm not always tired now, but I think the biggest factor must have been stress. I mean, I certainly drink no more than I used too, I wear my glasses actually *less* these days, so its not eye-strain related, and although my hair is generally more out of control now I still haven't managed to grow a ponytail... So, yes... Stress..... 

Monday, November 20, 2023

Just chillin'....

Just Finished Reading: The Necropolis Railway by Andrew Martin (FP: 2002) [231pp] 

London, 1903. It was young Jim Stringer’s dream – to be an engine driver on the railway. Not quite there yet but on his way, he has been transferred from his home company in Yorkshire to the London and Southwest Railway at Waterloo. The climb from a provincial porter to a cleaner in the Capital might not seem like much, but cleaners can progress to the footplate and then, given time, to driving the train itself. Trying desperately to fit in, Jim fails to impress the other men and it’s made that much worse when they discover that he has been hand-picked by a Senior Manager for his job. Suspicion that Jim is a spy, planted amongst them, grows along with his constant questioning regarding a series of accidents plaguing the station and the crews of the Necropolis Railway – the specialist trains delivering the great and the good to London’s largest cemetery. Jim himself is unsure of his role and when his sponsor dies in mysterious circumstances, he’s on his own. Surrounded by enemies, out of his depth and expecting the hammer to fall at any moment Jim is going to have to unravel quite a mystery to avoid an early arrival at a recently dug grave. 

It’s funny that I’ve been picking up two sets of railway detective stories recently – by this author and by Edward Marston. I’ve read one Marston so far (loved it) and this is my first by Andrew Martin. Although broadly similar – in that trains figure heavily in both (naturally) - they are very different, and not only because Martin’s books are deeply Victorian in tone whilst this series takes place in early Edwardian England. Jim Stringer is a young train enthusiast who, through circumstance alone, is drifting away from his intended path into that of a steam detective. He is, in every sense, an amateur. The detective in Martin’s books is not only fully mature – Jim stands out as VERY naïve and provincial – but is a fully profession detective with all the resources that implies. Jim is very much on his own, using only his natural wit and intelligence, plus both his practical and (mostly theoretical at this point) knowledge of the railways. 

Although I found this first novel in the series rather slow, I did enjoy both the character development as Jim became much more self-confident and mature by the end of the book than when his arrived in London only months before. Even more so I enjoyed the author’s world-building as we were exposed to aspects of Edwardian England, from the pervasive over-exaggerated adverts EVERYWHERE to the steam trains on the Underground (which must have been horrendous for those waiting on the platforms never mind those stuck in the long tunnels). I have the second novel scheduled for early(ish) next year and I’m looking forward to seeing Jim get involved in more crime solving and, maybe, becoming a professional detective. I’m also looking forward to seeing more of Edwardian England. Reasonable but with much promise. 

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Saturday, November 18, 2023

 Interesting, as always....

Ah, the 50's. Learning to LOVE the Bomb...

Ten Classics (I own) but haven’t read (yet). 

There’s been a few interesting posts recently elsewhere about unread authors/books, so I thought I’d jump in with my own variation. I’ve been making much more of an effort in the last 3-5 years to read more Classics and I’m always coming across more and more as I delve deeper into the genre. I think my plan for this year was to read 12 (which I should easily manage) and I’ll be increasing that next year to 15. One thing I did think of, as a challenge to myself as much as anything else, was to see if I could read 10 Classics in a row – interspersed with my usual non-fiction reads of course. Which led me to this list of 10 Classics I own but haven’t read – yet. No doubt you’ll be seeing reviews of the books listed below at some point in the first half of 2024. 

The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling (1884) 

As I’ve mentioned several times, I didn’t read much of anything as a child so missed out on all of the Children’s Classics. I’ve been picking them up as I come across them and have already read a few which I’ve generally enjoyed. More to come. 

Hard Times by Charles Dickens (1854) 

I picked up the entire Dickens output a few years ago for a very reasonable price and have planned to read all of them (except for his last unfinished book). So far, I’ve only managed two but have been very impressed. I’ll see if I can fit in this one and (hopefully) another in ‘24. 

Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad (1900) 

I’ve only read one Conrad to date and have been meaning to read more for a while now. This seemed like a good place to continue. 

On The Road by Jack Kerouac (1957) 

A book I think everyone has heard about and yet another modern American Classic I’ve been meaning to read for years.  

King Solomon’s Mines by H Rider Haggard (1885) 

Oddly my edition is labelled as a ‘Children’s Classic’, which isn’t something I would've associated with it. Saying that I found the movie interesting and look forward to start reading the classic Victorian adventure series. 

The 39 Steps by John Buchan (1915) 

I’ve really liked all three movie adaptations of this story – particularly the 1959 Kenneth Moore version – so I’m looking forward to finally reading the source material. If I like it, I’ll investigate more of his work.  

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde (1891) 

I’ve had a copy of this book for DECADES and have yet to read it. Wilde is one of my favourite Victorians and its more than about time I made a fuller acquaintance with his literary works. 

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (1883) 

Yet again, loving the movie adaptations it’s about HIGH time that I finally read the source material. These adventure stories have stood the test of time for a reason. 

The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (1908) 

Another Children’s Classic that passed me by. Time to catch up and see what all the mad-cap fuss was about. 

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (1868) 

I’ve had a lovely little hardback of this novel on my shelves for decades. Way past time for it be (finally) read. 

It might be a challenge reading SO many Classics in a row, but I also think it’d be quite an achievement (for ME at least!) and also a gratifying one. I’m looking forward to it. 

Friday, November 17, 2023

It actually came to me this morning (Saturday, 18th). I think I now understand why the 'radical Right' supports Donald Trump no matter what he says or does. It was something new House Speaker Mike Johnson is reported to have said recently - that America had become 'depraved'. It seems to me that many of the Right have come to see Trump as the embodiment of "God's wrath" who will 'cleanse' the country. That's why they support him no matter what. It's not that they agree on his policies and that his values align with theirs, its that they expect him to 'smite' the unbelievers and, by implication, leave them occupying the 'sunlit uplands'. That explains *so* much. Now at least some of the illogic starts to make sense....  

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Just Finished Reading: Napoleon and the Hundred Days by Stephen Coote (FP: 2004) [289pp] 

It’s sad to say that up till now most of my ‘knowledge’ of the Napoleonic Wars has been gleamed from Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe novels and the subsequent TV series. There’s been a few other books over the years – both fiction and non-fiction, but they’ve been both few and far between. To describe my understanding of the war(s) as ‘fractured’ or ‘incomplete’ would be a compliment. In order to close that gap, I finally picked up this excellent slim volume and now I feel much more enlightened. 

Starting near the end of things – with Napoleon in exile on the island of Elba and with the Congress of Vienna in full swing (or would that be full waltz) - the author gives a potted history of the events up to that point: the French Revolution and the wars/upheaval that followed, campaigning in Italy, the abortive mission to Egypt, the disaster of the Russian campaign and so on. Running to around 60 pages this is, of course, the briefest of overviews but is very useful indeed. Mixed in with this were highlights of the diplomatic situation in Europe, Napoleons relationship with his great love Josephine and the troubled relations with the rest of his family – again, great background which went a long way to explain some elements of Bonaparte’s character. His time on Elba is covered in some detail as well as the lax security which allowed him to escape and start the ‘meat’ of the story – his last 100 days. 

Starting with as little as 600 men, Napoleon was determined to overthrow the new (actually old Burbon) regime and re-install himself as Emperor and ‘saviour’ of France. To begin with it was touch and go. He did have his fanatical followers, but he also had his critics who were all too aware of what this man had cost the country in terms of both blood and gold. But after a few early victories and units sent against him changing sides and joining him it looked that the recently ended war was about to be reignited. Not, of course, if the Allies had anything to do with it. Most quickly off the mark were the Prussians and the British who quickly moved out of their positions to face the reinvigorated French forces. After some initial clashes the final battlefield was picked by Wellington, just outside a small historically insignificant village of Waterloo. The battle itself, covered in around 60 pages, was epic in proportions and the number of dead. Surprisingly, for someone thought to be THE military genius of war, Napoleon made some pretty fundamental mistakes and paid the price. My ‘knowledge’ of the war(s) ended with the battle itself, so it was highly instructive to read what happened next – both regarding the Allies and the new French government. 

I learnt a LOT from this excellent book, and it's given me even more incentive to deep deeper into the conflict. I certainly want to know more about the all-important Congress of Vienna as well as Napoleon’s time in Egypt and beyond. I already have a few books in these areas and will be trying to fill in some more of the blanks going forward. Definitely recommended to anyone interested in the era or for those who just want a quick, but detailed, overview of events. 

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Monday, November 13, 2023

Just Finished Reading: Three Miles by Robert Dinsdale (FP: 2011) [229pp] 

Leeds, 1940. It was Watchman Captain Abraham Matthews’ lucky night. He had finally caught up with Albie Crowe, a small-time thief and hoodlum with big ideas. Now came the hard part – taking him across the city to the Station House to deal with him. But that simple task was going to be anything but simple, especially tonight. The Station was three miles away. It might as well be three hundred. Handcuffed to Albie the Captain would need to navigate across a blacked out and ruined landscape, avoid the bombs being dropped by the Luftwaffe and evade Albie’s gang who were sure to try and free him. Those three miles were not just going to be tough going. It was going to be three miles through Hell itself. 

I had hopes for this one. On the face of it it’s a great idea. We have a compact area to traverse under extreme circumstances, we have a fraught ‘relationship’ between the two main characters, we have a time element and a chase. Tension would, I thought, be the watchword here. Plus, naturally, we have the element of random death and destruction from the air. Pretty good, yeah? Unfortunately, it just didn’t work for me. I should’ve got my first clue from the cover. Now I’m aware that covers are put together by the publishers who probably farm them out to a graphics company to do the work. So, I’m not exactly expecting them to accurately reflect the contents. Here though, they did – unfortunately. The keen eyed among you will notice an aircraft in the top right-hand corner along with the barrage balloons. It’s a JU-87 ‘Stuka’ dive-bomber designed primarily as a close air support light bomber for use in attacking entrenched positions and hard points which are preventing the ground forces (and especially tanks) from moving forward. It is NOT, generally, used for attacking cities. More specifically this is LEEDS we’re talking about. Now, true the Stuka was used (early on) to attack convoys in the English Chanel as well as ground installations on the English South coast (like the RADAR stations so important in the Battle of Britain) but these are SHORT range machines. The JU-87 had a range of around 220 miles. So, how exactly could they fly to LEEDS and back again to their home bases? They would either have to fly half way up England from bases in France or over the North Sea from bases in Norway – both of which are WAY outside their range. Plus, the JU-87 was withdrawn from attacks on the UK mainland in August 1940 after proving that they could not operate in contested skies. So... repeated mention of ‘Stukas’ in the text were both annoying, sloppy and broke the emersion in the story. [RANT Over!] 

But I think my bigger problem was with the ‘tone’ of the story which read (to me at least) more like a fable than actual historical fiction. I understand that both of the characters saw themselves in a ‘fantastic’ story-book mold as heroes in an epic struggle but I think the author took things too far and strayed much further from reality than (in MY opinion at least) he should have. A straight telling of the events of the evening – minus the Stuka bombers! - would’ve been much better. Needless to say, I spent much (too much) of my time consciously *reading* a story rather than being ‘inside’ the narrative. This was despite the fact that, overall, it wasn’t that badly written. It was, again for me, the fact that the tone seemed to repeatedly clash with the story itself. So, although the book was reasonable, I can’t honestly recommend it. 

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Saturday, November 11, 2023

Seems about right.... [grin]

Early reading, a Shotgun Approach! 

In my late teens and early 20’s my ‘butterfly mind’ was, it seems, on overdrive. I can remember popping down to my local library or hitting it on the way home from school/college and picking up a selection of books that had caught my eye that day or books on subjects that I had, momentarily, focused on as ‘interesting’. As you can see below my interests were varied to say the least. 

Notes to Myself by Hugh Prather (Non-Fiction)
The Food of the Gods by H G Wells
U-700 by James Follett
Rommel by Desmond Young (Non-Fiction)
Fighter Command 1936-1968 by Chaz Bowyer (Non-Fiction)
A Salute to British Genius by Gordon Rattray Taylor (Non-Fiction)
The Great Defenders by Judge Gerald Sparrow (Non-Fiction)
The History Man by Malcolm Bradbury
Animal Days by Desmond Morris (Non-Fiction)
Tropic of Ruislip by Leslie Thomas

As before there’s a random selection of non-fiction from History (generally military back then) to Biography (all over the place). My fiction reading was similarly ‘wide’ from classic SF, thrillers (political especially), original works from things I’d seen on TV and some things that passed themselves off as ‘comedy’. I guess in those days I still had no great idea what I really liked and didn’t really know where to look for the ‘answers’ that my adolescent/young brain demanded – so I looked EVERYWHERE! Over the years I’ve calmed down a bit but, as you know by now, my butterfly/scattergun approach is still very much alive and well. 

Thursday, November 09, 2023

Just Finished Reading: Dark and Magical Places – The Neuroscience of How We Navigate by Christopher Kemp (FP: 2022) [198pp] 

From what I’ve been told and what I remember I was a bit of a nightmare as a child. My problem was that I would wander off and get lost. I was probably the worst in large department stores. I’d get bored and look for where the toy section was then I’d just wander off to find it. If my parents or siblings hadn’t been paying attention, they would have no idea where I’d just disappeared to. Meanwhile I was in a world of my own looking at toys I knew I could never have. After 5-10 minutes I’d go back to where I thought my family would be and, naturally, they wouldn’t be there – either I couldn’t remember where they had been or, more likely, they’d gone looking for me. Nightmare. For the longest time I thought that I had no sense of direction or that my internal compass was in the wrong way – that if I needed to go right, I’d inevitably turn left. That was just the way I was. Not so. My ‘problem’ was that I just wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings. My sense of direction is actually fine. Once I know where I am (however rough that knowledge is) I can pretty much navigate anywhere. One of my proudest achievements was navigating from a holiday resort on the Algarve to Lisbon with a VERY sketchy map provided by the hotel. We did get lost initially, but as soon as I knew our exact location (after seeing a useful sign), we proceeded with confidence, got where we were going, had a great day, and got back in one piece. Likewise, my last job was based on a sprawling 54-acre business site, and I had few issues (bizarrely except in one particularly bit that always turned me around) getting around as I carried a detailed 3D map of the place entirely in my head, much to the amazement of my boss and new members of staff I was all too often tasked with showing around. But why am I telling you all this? 

It’s a simple fact that some people are good navigators (my older brother is very good) and some people get lost on the way back to their table from a McDonalds restroom. Why? It appears that around 84% of our navigational ability is genetic. If you have close members of your family who get lost in their own neighbourhood where they’ve lived their whole lives, there’s a very good chance that you get lost a lot too. But you can improve things. The comparatively recent addition of GPS (Global Position System) to cars and phones means that internal navigation skills are starting to atrophy. Driving into the ocean or off a cliff because our sat-nav's told us to has become the by-word for trusting technology way more than we should. It also means that when our tools fail us in some way, or we forget to bring them we’re MUCH more likely to get lost. Like most skills, if you don’t practice it enough you start to suck at it and if you’re hiking in the mountains and take a brief stroll off the path not being able to find it again could become a life and death situation. 

Using the very latest information from neurological studies across the globe this is a fascinating look at an ability most of us take completely for granted – finding our way from A to B. Explaining how the brain maps our environment, scopes for landmarks, imagines reverse routes and much else besides this will give you a very good idea of what’s going on (or NOT!) between your ears either when you land in a new town and need to find your hotel or why most of us don’t immediately forget where we live once we turn a corner. This is a MUST read for anyone interesting in how we find our way around an ever-changing world and why some of us get lost in our local supermarket. Highly recommended. One of the best Science books of the year (and my first book this year published in 2022).  

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