Might be worth a visit

This is just down the road from us.
Whispers in the maze
“Since May 6, visitors to the oldest maze in the world, Hampton Court Palace Maze can hear cymbals, a dog barking, a child laughing, the rustle of silk skirts, a tune from a music box, and the murmurs and sighs of three centuries of chatter at the palace. The sounds float around the maze so subtly that it is hard to distinguish them from real-life ones.”

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Neil Stephenson’s Baroque Cycle

I’ve just started in on The Confusion, the second part of the Baroque Cycle. This follows Quicksilver, the first part of the trilogy, which sweeps through the UK and the rest of Europe in the time of Newton, weaving a great historical novel with lessons in the origin of science, finance and politics. I’m really loving the books, and the feeling that I’m enjoying myself and learning at once. Plus, I love any novel that gives me a new picture of London in another time.

One thing that’s bothering me is how difficult it is to find these books. Neil Stephenson, who is based in Seattle, is well known for his science fiction, particularly the novel Snow Crash. But the Baroque Cycle is a historical novel, with not a whiff of Sci-fi. The cover of the books say they should be categorized in “Novel, science” and “Novel, hostoric”. Despite that, these three books are ALWAYS in the Science Fiction section. This bothers me because it makes it less likely that readers who only browse the “real” fiction, and avoid the sci-fi and fantasy corners like the plague, will get any exposure to these great books.

I griped about this to Books Etc, an English book seller, and they explained that their customers didn’t like to have one author in two different sections. Yeah. We’re really dumb that way.

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Strategy pinball

Another potential classic, quirky game coming to the GameCube. Nintendo does this stuff so well.
E3: Odama turns strategy on its head“The enemy troops are trying to push a marker down the screen and into your territory. You need to do everything you can to stop them. Use the flippers to roll the ball over them (but be careful of your own troops) or use your forces (at strategic times) to outfight the bad guys. You get a mic for the controller that allows you to bark orders like “March!” or “Stop!” and the troops will dutifully follow them.”

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A small “pied-a-terre”

Flat #2

We’ve just today (about 10 minutes ago) exchanged contracts on a tiny studio flat in Marylebone, London. It’s really central and will allow us to stay overnight whenever we want, instead of rushing home for the last train. Plus, it’s somewhere cool for visiting friends to stay occasionally
Exchanging is the first point in the English property system where there is ANYTHING legally binding about our ownership. And yet we had our offer accepted about 6 weeks ago. During that time our seller could have just walked away. It’s a painful, archaic, nerve-wracking way of doing things. Anyway, it’s our now.
Here’s a shot from the other end of the room. There. You’ve seen the whole thing.

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