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Literature and psephology

I bought a couple of books recently – The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana by Umbertor Eco, from Footsteps, a bookshop café in Whaley Bridge and I’ve just now got hold of Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. Neither, as I’m sure you know but I’ll point it out anyway, regardless of the comment’s redundancy, are of my favoured genre of fantasy – which is no bad thing. I read Foucault’s Pendulum last year in Korea and found it an intriguing novel. I’ve never read any Murakami, but he’s obviously a major writer, so I should at least check him out (I mean his work, not him personally).

I remember watching an edition of The South Bank Show (ITV’s token arts programme) about Sting, wherein he said that he originally got into jazz because he thought it would be good for him. That’s kind of how I feel about literary fiction – it’s not something I can claim to be enthusiastic about, but it seems important to read, to improve the breadth of my appreciation of literature.

There are a number of such authors that I’ve read and mean to read again, but, in the absence of the affection and, dare I say loyalty I have for and to fantasy, I’ve not got round to it (The Mysterious Flame could be the first). They include (but are not limited to) Paolo Coelho (I’ve already read The Alchemist), Milan Kundera (The Unbearable Lightness of Being), Orhan Pamuk (My Name is Red), (I’m consulting my book database, now) Martin Amis (The Rachel Papers and Einstein’s Monsters), A S Byatt (Angels and Insects), Will Self (How the Dead Live).

I’ve also been reading New Scientist. I saw it in Tesco last week – the cover story was about the future of English as a global language. That article was moderately interesting.

More so was the piece about the difficulties pollsters face in surveying voter intentions regarding Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Such polls are apparently complicated by the ‘Bradley effect’ and its partner, the ‘reverse Bradley effect’ (so-called because of a black Democrat who lost a gubernatorial election in the 80s, having had a substantial lead in the polls). The Bradley effect means that white voters may tell pollers that they’ll vote for Obama, but actually vote for Clinton (and vice versa for the reverse effect). Therefore, in many states with mainly white populations, Obama may have been ahead in the polls, but lost the primary or caucus, or his lead was reduced; while in states with large black populations Clinton did well in the polling, but less well in the vote. Clearly, if Obama wins the nomination this could have major implications for the presidential contest; and if Clinton wins, then a similar phenomenon regarding gender could also come into play.

Well, I found it interesting, anyway.

Categories: Current Events, Literature
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