Boundary Commission

Just finished a new page for the elections site about the boundary commission at – full of risky predictions which no doubt will be proved wrong…

Very tired baby on my knee yelling her head off as I write. Hopefuly she will succumb to fatigue soon. It was 33° today, probably the hottest day of her life.

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Up with Bridget in the middle of the night, as sometimes happens. Very hot and sticky day yesterday.

She seems to be subsiding at last after an hour or so awake. In which case I shall go back to bed.

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Two To Go

Giles: “I’d like to test that theory.”


Very hot day off, went for long bike ride with F via Korbeek-Dijle, Neerijse (stop for icecream) and St-Joris-Weert. Tired now.

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When did you last…

Copied from :

last cigarette: February 1998
last kiss: This evening
last good cry: last February
last library book checked out: book on melatonin from local library, over a year ago
last movie seen: in cinema – Harry Potter I; on TV – American Pie
last book read: Guilty of Literature (essays about Terry Pratchett); just rereading American Gods.
last cuss word uttered: Bother!
last beverage drank: glass of red wine
last food consumed: Trout with almond and cream sauce – not what I had ordered! followed by ice cream at home
last crush: Anne
last phone call: To my head of office in Kosovo
last tv show watched: Friends, The One Where Monica Sings
last time showered: This morning
last shoes worn: Bought in a shop in Rome last year
last cd played: Hildegard of Bingen
last item bought: Meal out with Anne
last downloaded: Opera 7
last annoyance: arguing with the waitress at De Troubadour
last disappointment: Dinner out this evening
last soda drank: Mineral water
last thing written: previous journal entry
last word spoken: Cup of tea?
last sleep: from 2150 last night to 0650 this morning
last im: never done it
last weird encounter: President of a small Balkan country greeting me with a warm embrace when I bumped into him at a conference on Saturday without stopping for conversation
last ice cream eaten: Nice chocolate, strawberry and vanilla to console us when we got home after a disappointing dinner out
last time amused: My boss telling our IT bloke not to extend his tenous knowledge of physics to gynaecology, pregnancy and childbirth this afternoon
last time wanting to die: equivalent to last hangover
last time in love: Now
last time hugged: This evening after ice cream and episode of Angel
last time scolded: The day Zoran Djindjic was shot
last chair sat in: the one in front of the computer.
last lipstick used: Not since my Rocky Horror days
last underwear worn: practical Y-fronts
last bra worn: a lacy black affair, in my Rocky Horror days
last shirt worn: Marks and Spencers white shirt
last time dancing: with Anne to some music that came on the TV
last poster looked at: “freedom of speech” poster advertising mobile phones
last show attended: A truly awful mute theatrical presentation of the Oresteia in Prijedor the week before Bridget was born, in 1997.
last webpage visited: LiveJournal.

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Not so Gaily the Troubadour

Anne and I tried dinner at De Troubadour. They brought us both the wrong main courses, and due to linguistic confusion (theirs) we couldn’t explain. The fact that both the meals they brought were more expensive than what we had ordered (and paid for) didn’t help.

Tomorrow is a day off in this great Catlick country. Looking forward to a lie in…

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Saw my first episode of Friends last night in years, The One Where Monica Sings. One of the running jokes is that Ross and Rachel are having difficulty Moving On from their past. That goes for the whole show. An extraordinary subplot – not even particularly funny – about Chandler plucking Joey’s eyebrows.

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Still tired

Lousy night’s sleep. But did my bit on the Kosovo report.

Also got a friendly note from a Northern Ireland MP about my website. Not that he’s someone I would ever vote for, but positive feedback is nice!

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Most unsuccessful Hugo nominations for Best Novel

David Bilek, on rec.arts.sf.written, asked if Robert Sawyer (who Bilek doesn’t like much) holds the record for the largest number of unsuccessful Hugo nominations for Best Novel.

Sawyer’s five unsuccessful nominations so far are The Terminal Experiment aka Hobson’s Choice (1996), Starplex (1997), Frameshift (1998), Factoring Humanity (1999) and Calculating God (2001). I’ve only read the last of these and was not impressed. Having read all of this year’s nominees I have to say it’s likely that Hominids will add to this total rather than lifting him off the list!

Curently level with Sawyer is Greg Bear, for Blood Music (novel version, 1986, as opposed to the novella), The Forge of God (1988), Queen of Angels (1991), Moving Mars (1994), and the execrable Nebula winner Darwin’s Radio (2000). Bear has of course won two Hugos for short fiction (both of which also won Nebulas).

His father in law Poul Anderson was nominated seven times for the Best Novel award and never got it, though he won four for his short fiction; the novels were The Enemy Stars (1959), The High Crusade (1961), Tau Zero (1971), the excellent There Will Be Time (1973), The People of the Wind (1974), Fire Time (1975), and The Boat of a Million Years (1990).

But surprisingly the real answer to the question is Robert Silverberg, who has won three Hugos for shorter fiction, but missed out on Best Novel no fewer than nine (possible ten) times. The Silverberg novels which were nominated but missed out were Thorns (1968), Up the Line (1970), Tower of Glass (1971), A Time of Changes (1972), tower-block novel The World Inside (withdrawn from the 1972 ballot so not sure if it counts), The Book of Skulls (1973), the excellent Dying Inside (also 1973), The Stochastic Man (1976), Shadrach in the Furnace (1977), and Lord Valentine’s Castle (1981).

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Been in Athens since Thursday at a World Economic Forum conference. I had to speak as “challenger” at the first lunch session yesterday, and managed to provoke a tetchy response from a senior official present. Then in the late afternoon I was chairing a session on organised crime and corruption, with three very good speakers which made it much easier. People seemed to like it.

After the conference finished at lunchtime I was able to look around the Parthenon, Acropolis, and the Agora. Athens is a bit of a mess right now but survivable. The Agora and the Acropolis do look pretty devastated though. Loads of tourists, but my guidebook was a bit impenetrable as to what all these ruined buildings had been, and much more detailed on the history of the restoration efforts (most of which seemed to date from the Venizelos regime).

Home tomorrow.

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SF and fantasy books

No idea where got this from, but it’s a good list:

SF books (45/58)
(with links to reviews on my site)

Dune, Frank Herbert
The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Robert A. Heinlein
The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin
The Foundation Trilogy, Isaac Asimov
Stranger in a Strange Land, Robert A. Heinlein

The Stars My Destination, Alfred Bester
A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter M. Miller Jr utterly fantastic
Childhood’s End, Arthur C. Clarke
Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
Hyperion, Dan Simmons
Gateway, Frederik Pohl
The Forever War, Joe Haldeman
More Than Human, Theodore Sturgeon
Lord of Light, Roger Zelazny
Neuromancer, William Gibson
Startide Rising, David Brin
The Time Machine, H.G. Wells
The Man in the High Castle, Philip K. Dick
The Dispossessed, Ursula K. Le Guin
Stand on Zanzibar, John Brunner
Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell

The Demolished Man, Alfred Bester
The Martian Chronicles, Ray Bradbury
Starship Troopers, Robert A. Heinlein

Downbelow Station, C.J. Cherryh
Ringworld, Larry Niven
2001: A Space Odyssey, Arthur C. Clarke
The War of the Worlds, H.G. Wells
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
The Mote in God’s Eye, Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle

Way Station, Clifford D. Simak
Star Maker, Olaf Stapledon
Dying Inside, Robert Silverberg
The City and the Stars, Arthur C. Clarke
Dhalgren, Samuel R. Delany
Rendezvous with Rama, Arthur C. Clarke

Mission of Gravity, Hal Clement – actually reading it for the first time this weekend
City, Clifford D. Simak
Cyteen, C.J. Cherryh
Flowers for Algernon, Daniel Keyes
Double Star, Robert A. Heinlein – have it with me on my palm pilot but haven’t got into it yet.
Earth Abides, George R. Stewart
The Door Into Summer, Robert A. Heinlein
Last and First Men, Olaf Stapledon
Ubik, Philip K. Dick
Norstrilia, Cordwainer Smith
The Witches of Karres, James H. Schmitz
Frankenstein, Mary Shelley
Have Space Suit Will Travel, Robert A.Heinlein
Time Enough for Love, Robert A. Heinlein
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick
The Gods Themselves, Isaac Asimov
“Riverworld” series, Philip Jose Farmer

and ‘s five extra:

The Player of Games – Iain M Banks
The Chrysalids – John Wyndham
Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson
Brave New World – Aldous Huxley

Dead Romance – Lawrence Miles

Fantasy novels (24/41):

The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien

The Book of the New Sun, Gene Wolfe
“Earthsea” series, Ursula K. Le Guin
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
“Gormenghast” series, Mervyn Peake
The Once and Future King, T.H. White

Little, Big, John Crowley
Nine Princes in Amber, Roger Zelazny
The First Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, Stephen R. Donaldson
Dragonflight, Anne McCaffrey
“The Belgariad”, David Eddings
The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis
The Anubis Gates, Tim Powers

“The Dying Earth” series, Jack Vance
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum
Dracula, Bram Stoker
The Last Unicorn, Peter S. Beagle
The Mists of Avalon, Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Stand, Stephen King
Watership Down, Richard Adams
The Riddle-Master of Hed, Patricia A. McKillip
The Worm Ouroboros, E.R. Eddison
Glory Road, Robert A. Heinlein
Mythago Wood, Robert Holdstock
“Alvin Maker” series, Orson Scott Card
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle

Witch World, Andre Norton
The Fionavar Tapestry, Guy Gavriel Kay
Deryni Rising, Katherine Kurtz
Discworld series, Terry Pratchett
“Elric” series, Michael Moorcock
Replay, Ken Grimwood
Something Wicked This Way Comes, Ray Bradbury
Fafhrd & Gray Mouser series, Fritz Leiber
The Incomplete Enchanter, Fletcher Pratt & L. Sprague de Camp

and ‘s five extra:

Elidor – Alan Garner
Boating for Beginners – Jeanette Winterson
American Gods – Neil Gaiman
The Nargun and the Stars – Patricia Wrightson
The Just So Stories – Rudyard Kipling

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Web site hits

I put a bunch of code from AddFreeStats on my website on Sunday, and have been rather stunned by the results so far. Much the most popular page is my review of “Flowers for Algernon“, not so very surprising as I understand that the short story is on every high school reading list in America. But a reasonably strong second is my fairly recent page on the Book of the Prophet Amos. There must surely be loads of other sources on Amos out there, and I can’t pretend that my analysis is particularly scholarly or even devout.

And today for some reason my review of “Bloodchild” has overtaken the Prohet Amos. It must have suddenly come up on some university course, I suppose, or maybe there was a programme about Octavia Butler last night.

Also the Curse of the Presidents seems to be a steady performer.

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New journal

Yesterday rocked. I managed to slip out of work mid-afternoon to the Tropisme bookshop in Galerie des Princes where Neil Gaiman was signing books. Unfortunately I was in such a rush in the morning that I couldn’t find my copy of American Gods, but I did have both Neverwhere and Don’t Panic! to hand. The author graciously signed both, commenting that I had the rather rare first editions, with covers by Dave McKean.

Then it was off to meet Zoran Zivkovic. Not the charming, short, bearded, English-speaking science fiction writer, but the firm, tall, cleanshaven Prime Minister of Serbia, courtesy of the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. He gave a damn good speech, though the translation was a bit dodgy, and gave me a direct answer when I challenged him on the interview in Der Spiegel (English) – basically that he had been misquoted. (I went to the lengths of buying Der Spiegel this morning, and found he was right.)

Lousy night’s sleep unfortunately, but luckily today has been mostly meetings, including some rather tired young politicians from Serbia and Montenegro this afternoon. Off to Greece tomorrow, back Sunday.

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