Monthly Archives: May 2010

May Books 22) Ever Since Darwin, by Stephen Jay Gould

Another collection of Gould’s essays from Natural History Magazine, this time dating from the mid-1970s; as ever, nicely constructed and argued pieces, though it is something of a shock to realise that, say, continental drift had only recently become orthodox, … Continue reading

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Malcolm Hulke and reptiles

It hadn’t really struck me before, but what with New Who bringing back the Silurians, my son’s bedtime reading being Doctor Who and the Dinosaur Invasion, and also having just got onto the story after Spearhead from Space in my … Continue reading

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More on the burka ban

Two interesting articles that caught my eye on this during the week: The veil: a modesty slip for misogyny, by Laurie Penny over at the New Statesman: In seeking to restrict the free choice of women to dress as they … Continue reading

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Gibbon Chapter XXIII: Julian and his Apostasy

here.

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May Books 21) Het Aïda Protocol, by Yannick Laude, Marco Venanzi & Michel Pierret

The second in a series of graphic novels published by, I kid you not, the ALDE group in the European Parliament (ie the Liberal MEPs which include the British Lib Dems and, since last year, Fianna Fáil) and available in … Continue reading

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Eurovision wrap-up

Well, I was surprised by Germany’s win. A decent enough song, but of course we native anglophones will have been much more annoyed by Lena’s marvellous travelling accent than most voters were. Not at all surprised that Britain came last … Continue reading

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Eurovision

I must say that tonight I really enjoyed Twitter for the first time properly – I felt I was participating in a Europe-wide party of appreciation (or something) for the show, granted with a geographical spread of, er, from the … Continue reading

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Burka ban update

As mentioned last weekend, I emailed the lijsttrekkers of all the parties standing candidates either in the Leuven district (for the Chamber) or in Flanders (for the Senate), asking for their position on the burka ban, and got the following responses … Continue reading

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May Books 20) Transit, by Ben Aaronovitch

There was one pedantic point that really annoyed me about this book: Arcturus is spelt incorrectly throughout, missing the first ‘r’. A good defemce lawyer would plead that we are not talking about α Boötis but about some other celestial … Continue reading

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May Books 19) Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

An appalling read, in a way, about a large number of English schoolboys crashed on a tropical island, and how their initial attempts at organisation descend into atavism and savagery. The crucial moment is almost exactly halfway through, when Jack … Continue reading

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Unionist unity and Garden Centre Prods

I’ve been following with some interest, but not much engagement, the debate among Northern Ireland’s Unionists about the way forward for Unionism after this month’s election. (Actually, I have engaged a bit; I have chided the DUP and UCUNF for … Continue reading

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May Books 18) WWW: Wake, by Robert J. Sawyer

I don’t think I will ever much enjoy a Sawyer novel, but this one irritated me less than most of his books. The prose was not particularly awful, and the plot mostly makes sense; the story of the blind girl … Continue reading

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Linkspam for 25-5-2010

Denouement for the MMR scare: Dr Aust’s Spleen [Wakefield’s work] was published. People critiqued it. They looked carefully at the findings in the paper to see if they stood up. Other researchers tried to look for the relationship he suggested … Continue reading

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May Books 17) Apollo 23, by Justin Richards

Justin Richards has written more Doctor Who books than anyone except Terrance Dicks, and those I’ve read have included more hits than misses. However, this isn’t one of his more memorable contributions to the quasi-canon; at first it seems like … Continue reading

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May Books 16) Half-Life of a Zealot, by Swanee Hunt

The autobiography of the activist daughter of America’s richest man, and how she moved from the rabid right-wingery of her privileged background to using her unearned wealth for philanthropy, particularly supporting women in public policy, which brought her to a … Continue reading

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Belgium’s election, my vote

On June 13, Belgium will have its first federal level elections since I became a citizen, and as voting is compulsory, I have been giving some thought to politics here for a change. The election has been called a year … Continue reading

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Gibbon Chapter XXII

Chapter XXII: The Rise of Julian the Apostate Thrilling stuff. Julian, having made a good go of the West from Paris, is proclaimed emperor, possibly reluctantly, by his own troops; he marches east to confront Constantius, himself taking a devious … Continue reading

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May Books 15) Teach Yourself Irish, by Diarmuid Ó Sé and Joseph Shiels

I was brought up as a middle-class Belfast Catholic, and though trainee teachers would occasionally bring in a few Irish phrases as their special project in primary schools (a h-aon, a dó, a trí), by the time I had the … Continue reading

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May Books 13-14) two Nebula winners

It’s the time of year when I am working my way through the Hugo nominees, and occasionally find myself looking at the bookstack (or, in these enlightened days, the folder of PDFs) and wondering which to read next. Last weekend’s … Continue reading

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May Books 12) Rookwood, by William Harrison Ainsworth

This sprawling, verbose epic was written, according to the author, in 24 hours – NaNoWriMo-ers, eath your hearts out. It is a tale of family secrets, skullduggery and revenge, with added Dick Turpin, and the highlight is Turpin’s epic ride … Continue reading

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Faked CV

Seen in various places – the case of Adam Wheeler, here, here, here and here. I do wonder about the propriety, ethics and legality of The National Review actually posting the famous CV on their website; on the other hand, … Continue reading

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The post-election breakfast

The Morning After The Night Before from Northern Visions/NvTv on Vimeo. You don’t have to watch the whole thing – I’m on, talking very fast, from about 01:55 to 04:02.

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Sweet Dreams

Also here.

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May Books 11) Out, by Natsuo Kirino

A grim but compelling tale of tough Japanese women working in a sandwich factory; one of them strangles her errant husband, her colleagues help dispose of the corpse, and as a result they become entangled with the yakuza and also … Continue reading

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On being lobbied

An interesting reflection from Andrew Muir, the Alliance Party candidate in one of the less promising seats in this months election, on the failure of NGOs to influence his views during the campaign. To which one might add that NGOs … Continue reading

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May Books 10) Quidditch Through The Ages, by J.K. Rowling

I had a record of acquiring this book years ago, but have been unable to locate it, and spotted another copy going cheap when in Ireland so filled the gap. Not really worth bothering with, as it turns out; Quidditch … Continue reading

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May Books 9) The Pensionnat Revisited, by Eric Ruijssenaars

This is a follow-up volume to Ruijssenaars’ earlier Charlotte Brontë’s Promised Land, about the Pensionnat Heger where Charlotte and Emily Bronte lived briefly in the 1940s. Most of it is Ruijssenaars’ investigation of the demolition of the Pensionnat and the … Continue reading

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Nebula Awards

Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, Catherynne M. Valente The Ray Bradbury Award for Outstanding Dramatic Presentation District 9 Best Short Story “Spar,” Kij … Continue reading

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May Books 8) Boneshaker, by Cherie Priest

A steampunk novel, set in an alternate 1880 where Seattle has been devastated by a mysterious gas which turns people into zombies; the wife and son of the inventor who caused the catastrophe 16 years before venture into the walled-off … Continue reading

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More Northern Ireland election news

One of the administrative reforms rumbling around Northern Ireland for the last few years has been the proposed reduction of the number of local councils (26 unitary councils replaced the previous six counties etc structure back in 1972). This is … Continue reading

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