Monthly Archives: December 2009

Home again

Made it home from our three days in England, various family members suffering from various bugs. I think for once I may go to bed early. Have a good New Year, all.

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December Books

Non-fiction 4 Non-genre fiction 3 sf (non-Who) 2 Doctor Who etc (not comics) 5 Comics 2 ~4,300 pages 4 by women (van der Wal, Hodgson Burnett, Jenkins, Moore; but not ‘Tara Samms’); total of 68/341 (19.9%) for 2009 1 by … Continue reading

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Books unread

Help me decide what to read next year – I did this last year and the year before and found it very useful! (I will post a poll of the books I have read this year tomorrow, all being well; … Continue reading

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December Books 15) Geschiedenis van het Nederlands, by Marijke van der Wal and Cor van Bree

A very approachable introduction to the history of the Dutch language, aimed at undergraduates. It starts with Indo-European and Gothic and then follows the development of Dutch from the point where it is identifiable (700-1000 AD) to the present. One … Continue reading

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December Books 14) The Year’s Best Science Fiction, 22nd Annual Collection, edited by Gardner Dozois

This came out in 2005, the year of the Glasgow Worldcon, and I guess that because I felt I had thoroughly chewed over that year’s short fiction in the Hugo process I didn’t urgently need to read this. That was … Continue reading

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December Books 13) Don’t Mention the Wars: A Journey Through European Stereotypes, by Tony Connelly

A well-written account for an Irish audience of the characteristics of ten European countries – Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland. In each case Connelly has done some of the essential academic background … Continue reading

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Linkspam for 28-12-2009

FiveThirtyEight: Politics Done Right: The Odds of Airborne Terror How likely is it that your flight will be attacked? Roughly one chance in 10 million, according to Nate Silver. (tags: war) Sesame Street – Monsterpiece Theater: Waiting for Elmo (tags: … Continue reading

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25 books from 1910 and 1860

A few months back I did a poll on books published in 1959, 1909, 1859, 1809, 1759, 1609 and 1509. For the publications to be commemorated in 2010, I found the pickings much slimmer for the older set of anniversaries, … Continue reading

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50 books from (very nearly) 50 years ago

These 50 books were all published in 1960. (I have selected them by the scientific method of identifying the top 46 from that year on LibraryThing, plus another four that I happened to have read myself.) NB some of these … Continue reading

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Causes of the general backwardness in Religion in that Realm, and how the same may be remedied, &c.

A letter of 22 September 1590 from Adam Loftus, Archbishop of Dublin, to William Cecil, Lord Burghley, recommending fines and imprisonment as a method to force the Irish to accept the Reformed religion. Noted here because Sir Nicholas Whyte is … Continue reading

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December Books 12) Slow Decay, by Andy Lane

One of the early Torchwood books – set just before Cyberwoman, I think. Andy Lane has written some good Who novels and this too is excellent; good depictions of all the team (not much Ianto, but lots of Owen), and … Continue reading

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December Books 11) Wild Sweet Love, by Beverly Jenkins

Another dip into the sub-genre of African-American romance, as told by Beverly Jenkins, whose books are among the highest-rated on LibraryThing. If anything I enjoyed this slightly more than Jewel. Most of the action takes place in 1897 Philadelphia, with … Continue reading

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Gibbon Chapter XIV

Reading Gibbon’s "Decline and Fall" – Chapter XIV: The Rise of Constantine Diocletian’s system does not long survive his abdication. His four succesors squabble among themselves, and at one point there are six mutually recognised rulers of different bits of … Continue reading

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Doctor Who

Well, I enjoyed it. RTD tends to do much better with penultimate episodes and then fumble the climax, so I hope that doesn’t happen again this time. Particular comments below the cut, but if you want the collected wisdom of … Continue reading

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While I’m asking difficult questions…

…I could never get the missing line. Yes, I know what the canonical version is, but I don’t really believe it. What should it have been? (And I never understood why it was always listed as "Boss Cat" in the … Continue reading

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Baffling question, reposted

Young F got this jewel in his cracker yesterday: Q: What kind of relationship does coral have with algae? A: A symbiotic relationship. Now, this answer turns out to be perfectly sound biology (so I at least learned something) but … Continue reading

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December Books 10) Doctor Who: Through Time And Space

Yep, I have read the first of my Christmas presents: a nice half-dozen Tenth Doctor stories, originally published as separate comics and here as a single volume by IDW. I really bought it to read the first story, “The Whispering … Continue reading

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Linkspam for 25-12-2009

bugshaw: Merry Christmas the Dalek nativity (tags: doctorwho christmas)

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December Books 9) Slaughterhouse 5, by Kurt Vonnegut

Rereading this classic, which combines the horrors of the 1945 bombing of Dresden with the sfnal captivity of the hero by the aliens of Tralfamadore. Having first come to Vonnegut via Cat’s Cradle and The Sirens of Titan as a … Continue reading

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Ursula’s birthday concert

Ursula turned seven yesterday. She cannot talk, but is very musical, as I hope this spirited rendering of “Old MacDonald” will demonstrate. We have no idea what other tunes she is singing – songs she has heard at school or … Continue reading

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Christmas letter 2009

Nicholas: I continue to enjoy working as an Independent Diplomat. My office is in the shadow of the Berlaymont and I have been observing the EU’s development with considerable interest. As well as my ongoing work with the Turkish Cypriot … Continue reading

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Linkspam for 23-12-2009

David Tennant: It just feels scary – all the time | Television & radio | The Observer (tags: doctorwho)

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Email scam

I was surprised to receive this distressing message just now, ostensibly from one of my cousins: Hello Am in a hurry writing you this mail, I want to seek your help on something very important and  you are the only … Continue reading

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December Books 8) Mr Singh Has Disappeared: A Concussed Novel, by Horst Prillinger

This was pressed on me by the infamous quarsan, and his efforts have been duly rewarded; I really enjoyed it. It is a fairly short novel, told in fragmentary, disjointed style (150 chapters in 135 pages) about the narrator’s investigation … Continue reading

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The overnights meme

List the towns or cities where you spent at least a night away from home during 2009. Mark with a star if you had multiple non-consecutive stays. Newton, MA Washington DC New York, NY* Nicosia, Cyprus* Cluny, France* Podgorica, Montenegro … Continue reading

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I don’t have a vote in this one…

…but like a lot of people I’ll be watching with interest for the outcome of the selection process for the next Lib Dem candidate in Cambridge, now that David Howarth has announced his intention to return to his academic career … Continue reading

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December Books 7) Doctor Who and the Invasion from Space [by J.L. Morrissey]

I thought I was reasonably well-informed about the history of Doctor Who spinoff fiction, but was rather amazed to discover this 1966 46-page story, in the same format (and by the same publisher) as the Doctor Who annuals, in which … Continue reading

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ርሑስ በዓል ልደትን ሓድሽ ዓመትን

A friend of mine sent me this greeting: which apparently means “Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” in his native language. A special prize for the first person to identify that language! (And a very special prize for anyone who … Continue reading

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Gibbon, Chapter XIII

reading_gibbon: Chapter XIII: Diocletian Another very long chapter, but an excellent read, full of incident and character. Diocletian comes over as one of the best emperors so far – a slave from Illyria who rose to the top, managed it … Continue reading

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An Earthly Child – spoilers

I feel a bit mean posting this, because the other reviews I’ve seen so far of An Earthly Child are rather positive (without spoilers here and with spoilers here). I think Marc Platt’s scripts are a bit like Marmite – … Continue reading

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