Five essential news items

How could you manage without knowing these, courtesy of the Daily Mail?

  1. Nigella Lawson has a platinum blonde wig. Where else to put this riveting news but page 3? And take up nearly the full page telling us about her penchant for wigs at Christmas parties. As an additional treat we get two photos of her a) with her hair in curlers and b) with Ms Lawson in the bath, where she is—shock, horror—in the words of the reporter ‘covered only by a frothy layer of bubbles’. Does the Daily Mail expect people to get in the bath with their clothes on?
  2. The shadow public health secretary wants to bring in legislation to stop people drinking more than a pint a day. Pint here, refers to strong lager, ie the recommended number of units of alcohol per day for men. I can see the brewing industry and publicans supporting that one. Winston Churchill and Alan Clark will be laughing in their graves. This is because we need to do what doctors say (not always what they do, mind). I trust she will also propose making the tobacco industry totally illegal, banning all junk food, fizzy drinks, sweets, processed food, and limiting everyone’s intake of animal-based protein on the same principle.
  3. Some slightly more serious stories amidst the celebrity news and boring drivel:

  4. A woman has been prosecuted for leaving her child alone at home for 45 minutes. A couple then spoke out about how they were prosecuted years ago when the father left his daughter in the car to go to the chemist’s to buy Calpol. Apparently there are calls for more nanny state interference to prevent this reprehensible behaviour. I am afraid I would have been abducted by social services a thousand times over. I always thought there was an age limit for not leaving kids alone. Apparently not. Merely that you shouldn’t leave them if they are placed at risk. Um. That’s beautifully vague and for the dull ones around, they probably will struggle with risk assessment anyway. Was I at risk in the car with a bag of crisps and a shandy listening to Radio Luxembourg? Who knows.
  5. Iran’s nuclear programme (purely for peaceful purposes) was consigned to a few pars in the middle of the newspaper.
  6. The Duchess of whatever (I’m not up on royalty), the Kate one, is buying a Labrador puppy for Christmas for her brother-in-law, Willy or Harry, ie whichever one she isn’t married to. ‘He’s so good with puppies’ or something similar, she said. That’s a great one royals.

    All the animal charities, trusts and rescue centres in the country advocate against NOT buying a puppy for Christmas and you do exactly that. I would respectfully suggest your royal highnesses visit Battersea Dogs Home, possibly while they are putting down dogs. Back in 2009, that included nearly 3,000 dogs killed. Or, one could possibly look at the Labradors available there for re-homing, in 2012, there were nearly 100 pure-bred Labs. Co-incidentally, my first adult dog was a rescue, pure-bred Lab pup. Or, when one is on one’s hunting trips in Spain, check out the local rubbish bins. One can also find pure-bred pups there too. One can find rare albino hunting puppies. Just the ticket, what?

    Granny might know something about Battersea. You might want to ask. After all, she is the patron.
Baby Snowy
Baby Snowy

Bonus item

But the best is yet to come. With superb timing, a columnist on the Mail on Sunday wrote an anti-feminist diatribe (the Mail is anti-feminist) rebuking women for complaining about the image of a bound and gagged woman projected onto the back of a pick-up truck by a PT instructor.

Pic of the ‘rapetruck‘.

It was humour and a joke. Of course.

Tell that to the parents of Lesley Whittle:

    ‘He had placed a hood over her head, left her naked, and tethered her to the side of the shaft by a wire noose.’

Kidnapped and killed by the Black Panther, Donald Neilson, in 1975.

Or maybe to the parents of the victims of Peter Sutcliffe who murdered 13 women, and attempted to kill seven others, or of Steve Wright, who murdered five women in Suffolk.

Showing images of women being bound and gagged and calling a vehicle a rapetruck, dismissing complaints by accusing people of lacking a sense of humour, continues to portray the message, that yes, it is ok to do what you want to women.

Back to our columnist. She thinks that women would be able to run away from a truck with such a vile image, although I would think it unlikely if they wear standard Daily Wail high heels and short skirts. But she is missing the bigger picture. That to even attempt to joke about abusing women this way, that it’s funny to gag, bind and kidnap them with the threat of rape, is nothing short of total misogyny and contributes to violent acts against women.

And the timing faux pas? Merely that it was the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women yesterday (25 November 2014).

    One in three women worldwide suffer physical or sexual violence. One in five is raped or is the victim of attempted rape. (Source UN).

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said:

    “Everyone has a responsibility to prevent and end violence against women and girls, starting by challenging the culture of discrimination that allows it to continue,” Ki-moon said at the start of the campaign.

I think challenging the ‘rapetruck’ imagery falls into that category.

Meanwhile, from the strange view of reality promoted by the Daily Wail to the more interesting world of fiction.

Death Logs In by EJ Simon

image

I put down one book and promptly picked up the sequel to Death Never Sleeps.

EJ Simon had created some good characters and an interesting and different plot with his first novel, so I was interested to see where he would take it from there.

Like the first novel, the second one continues in the same style, good pacing, lots of action, crisp dialogue and some sex, although not graphic.

While the same characters established in the first book reappear and are developed further, a couple of new—and dangerous—ones are introduced, and, we learn more about the tangled involvement of the Vatican.

The plot in this one is pretty simple, it’s about trying to kill the surviving Nicholas brother, Michael, whose brother Alex was killed approx a year ago.

So why does it take 350 pages to tell that story? And is it just more of the same?

Well, it’s not just about who wants him dead and why. At the same time that Michael is looking over his shoulder, he’s still involved in his corporate life, although he’s hanging on by the skin of his teeth. And he’s managed to increase the income and expand his brother’s gambling loan shark business at the same time.

Most books in a series are more of the same. Whether it is Enid Blyton’s Famous Five, C S Lewis’s Narnia books, Rowling and Harry Potter, Meyer’s Twilight, or Ian Fleming’s James Bond. Once an author has established credible characters and a good plot that keeps us interested, why would we not read more of the same?

The fascinating part in this series is the Hal component. Roughseas readers may remember I refer to my (Apple) computers as Hal, because they have an annoying habit of thinking for themselves and doing what they decide is best.

Nearly 50 years after Kubrick’s and Clarke’s creation of Hal in 2001, Simon has used artificial intelligence as an interesting and key part of this series.

To quote from the book:

    “You mean like HAL, the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey?” Michael remembered the movie—and the computer who fought back when the astronauts tried to disconnect him. It didn’t end well for the astronauts.

The crime and intrigue elements make the books worth a read in their own right, but the addition of artificial intelligence (ie Hal) turns both books into a good read with a difference.

I read the print version, and after my 99.9% rating on the copy editing/proofing of Death Never Sleeps, I was slightly disappointed to see more errors in this second book. Not loads, but a few. No idea if they have been taken out of the ebook. Anyway, for once, it still didn’t diminish from the reading of the story.

So, it’s another clear recommend if you like a taut mystery/suspense/thriller, and especially if you are interested in artificial intelligence, Hals, and all spicily peppered with a few meals out in varied locations.

And a welcome back to author EJ Simon to answer some more nosy questions. Please note, a couple of questions are slight spoilers if you are planning on reading this.

EJS
EJS

Q1. You describe yourself as a food enthusiast and in both books the characters are often found eating out, usually at traditional Italian trattorias , but also in sophisticated restaurants or having drinks in trendy bars. What’s your favourite apéritif, meal/s, and accompanying wine? 

    1) I’d start with foie gras for my first course, then beef bourguignon over noodles at Chez Dumonet in Paris. I’d finish with their Grand Marnier soufflé. I’d likely accompany it with a bottle of red burgundy.

    2) A gin martini – and then spaghetti and meatballs and sausage at Mario’s in Westport, Connecticut. I’d start with thinly pounded Yellowfin tuna, foie gras on a toasted baguette.

Q2. This book seems even tougher and harder as Michael, and his wife Samantha, are targeted by professional assassins. We’ve got the involvement of the Vatican, the peripheral involvement of the Greek Orthodox Church, and the supposedly legal world of corporate finance and Swiss banking all thrown into the pot. It seems like everyone has their price, whether to kill, carry out insider dealing, be unfaithful to their spouse, or just work illegally. Even the decent Connecticut cop compromises his morals. Are we all a victim of our circumstances or does it just make for a good story?

    I believe that our lives are – partly – a result of circumstances and chance encounters. Those encounters can be a fatal automobile accident, meeting an agent who turns your book into a published best-seller, or a chance encounter with the man or woman who turns out to be the love of your life. Some of it’s timing, some of it’s the luck of where you’re born. Certainly there’s a difference from the start of what your life will be like if you’re born in Somalia instead of Greenwich, Connecticut.

    All of this makes for a “good story” as you say – but that’s because it also happens to be the way real life works. Of course, no one would bother writing – or reading – a story about the routine aspects of our lives, you know, the parts without murders, kidnappings and intrigue. Actually, that might be called “literary fiction.”

Q3. In this book Michael refers to Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey. That was a great film but it was nearly 50 years ago (1968). What do you think the state of artificial intelligence was back then, and where do you truly think it is now? Do you see us being able to blur physical and virtual reality as Alex does? 

    Artificial intelligence – or thinking and artificial beings actually appear in Greek mythology. AI as we know it began in the mid 1950’s. 2001 Space Odyssey brought it to my attention in a way that I – obviously – could never get out of my mind. Now we have IBM’s Watson beating out the best contestants on Jeopardy, Siri is our private concierge and potential lover, emotion sensing, voice and facial recognition, and the countless everyday applications that we hardly even notice anymore. Affective Computing is recognizing, interpreting and predicting human behavior. We now have our military’s newest smart missiles that – independent of human guidance – seek out the military versus civilian targets, a tank instead of a school bus, for example – as they approach them. So AI has certainly advanced since 2001 Space Odyssey – after all, this is 2014.

    But now we approach the most difficult question: can a human brain be simulated? Many thinkers and computer scientists believe it can. John Harking and Steve Wozniak (co-founder of Apple) have recently been quoted as saying that soon, computers will even have a consciousness. Ray Kurzwell has long argued that it’s technologically feasible to copy the brain into computer hardware and software, creating an exact duplicate.

    In both of my novels – this is what happened for Alex Nicholas. He is actually doing better as he progresses in his virtual life because, although his mind has been duplicated – his bad habits have not followed him to cyberspace. He doesn’t drink or smoke and gets plenty of rest or down time – so his mind only gets sharper. It will be interesting to see if he gravitates towards religion.

Q4. Do you believe in any of these: a life after death, a life outside our physical bodies, life elsewhere in the universe?

    I struggle with things where there is no physical proof – yet I’ve seen people – psychics – who appear to have the ability to know things that baffle me. I believe that our minds play conveniently comfortable tricks on us. I believe in a lot of coincidences.

    Mostly, however, I believe that no one here on earth has these answers. There may or many not be anything after we die – but I don’t believe that any living human being has any inside information. This isn’t Wall Street.

    I do believe there is life on other planets – but only when we have sent astronauts there.

Q5 The big question about the novel. I’m intrigued to know what inspired you to write Alex’s life after death persona. It’s actually credible and totally fascinating. 

    I became aware of the fragility of life at too early an age. My uncle, who lived with us and was my constant companion had a massive heart attack and died one morning right after making me breakfast. I saw everything before my mother could get me into another room. I was five years old. I was told he went to heaven but, when I visited the cemetery months later with my parents, I was sure that he was underneath the ground in some subterranean apartment. Needless to say, I’ve been curious about what happens after we die. Recreating Alex through artificial intelligence is the vehicle that allows me to explore all my curiosities – and to ask all the questions – I’ve had since I was a kid. Unfortunately – or fortunately – I still don’t have any answers. Just the same questions.

Q6.You’ve got another book in the series due out next autumn (2015). How far do you see the series about the Nicholas brothers going? And can you give us a tiny idea about Death Logs Out?

    In the upcoming Death Logs Out, we will get deeper into the inner workings of the Vatican – as Michael tries to determine how high up the conspiracies and cover ups go. Sindy Steele will be as complex as ever. The Nazi element will resurface with a vengeance – and some of this will capture the attention of a larger entity. We will also get to try some new restaurants and some terrific meals.

    I believe there are several more books in this series. I think the concept of AI and the exploration of a virtual life after death has a lot of legs to it – particularly as the almost daily advances of the science catches up to the science fiction. The line between fiction and reality has never been finer.

Book provided by iRead Book Tours, it’s ongoing for another couple of weeks.

And for a different take on what happens when we die, if you haven’t read it, do try Almost Dead in Suburbia, by Douglas Pearce.

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61 comments on “Five essential news items

  1. Ah, you made me laugh with the Daily Wail news. I admit it, I hate it and yet cannot stop myself going on there most days, oh sorry, it’s awful but compulsive. Maybe I should get treatment? Or a platinum wig too?

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  2. But does she have the platinum eyebrows to match?
    Perhaps the shadow public health secretary would like to consider legislation to stop big players in the food supply world passing off adulterated food to the public….
    And social workers and police could perhaps turn their attention to the homes they do not wish to enter for fear of violence or accusations of racism…
    Suddenly we’re friends with Iran…..just like other regimes oppressive to women.
    Royals – even by marriage – don’t do second hand – unless it is jewellery in which case it is an heirloom.
    Yet another woman who thinks she is safe from male violence….

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    • You do accept total responsibility don’t you? Who was it told me the Mail would make a blog post? It would make one a day if I could read the whole thing.

      No, I don’t think she did.
      Too difficult. Although I’m surprised they’re contemplating taking on the brewing industry.
      So much easier to pick on the weak?
      I don’t know that we are, just that in the Mail (male?) view of the world, Iran’s nuclear power programme isn’t as important as keeping women in their place and making them look pretty (or tying and gagging them)
      Hey! My first rescue was not second hand. So there. He was actually born in the blue cross shelter because his mother had been taken in pregnant 😔 And the evil Podenco wasn’t really second-hand, just fostered. I could make a good royal yet. We won’t get into the other dogs, goodness knows how many hands Prince went through.

      *SHE* may well be. So therefore it doesn’t matter or doesn’t exist. One out of three women are subject to violence? Pff, who cares, it’s not me. She went off on the usual tack about how women don’t attract sexual attention if they don’t dress provocatively and don’t wear make-up, and they shouldn’t get drunk. That will explain recent cases of child rape (Afghanistan) and the rape of a 91-year-old woman (Scotland).

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      • Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa…..

        I was induced to look at the DM online and saw a lovely cat spat between some woman called Jack and the wife of the egregious Gove about Jack’s attack on Cameron for using the death of his handicapped son as a smokescreen for his aim to dismantle the NHS: wife of Gove suggested Jack did similar in promoting her poverty profile and the whole thing descended into a farce about women who suspected that they might be lesbians thinking twice before becoming pregnant and the PC brigade getting into a hissy fit…I was left wondering how Jack afforded her armpit to wrist tattoos and then saw the pic of her with her affluent girlfriend.

        I might try the DM again…it offers a wonderful suspension of belief in the rational…

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        • Ah, I read the Jack thing in print. A freelance blogger about cooking for some supermarket chain I seem to remember. Stains burns I think.

          It took two pages in print, all stemming from a 140 character tweet. I mean, dear me. Is there nothing else in the world to write about?

          And the coverage of the UKIP election victory and the Attorney General’s unwise tweet … (note, do not tweet. Ever).

          I am already regretting g this as both you and Wendy have now said you’ve gone online to look at it.

          There was one good piece, a Tottenham MP pointing out that Labour wasn’t just alienating white working class but black people too. It was worth a post in its own right for lots of reasons, so maybe later ehen time isn’t so pressing.

          The BBC online is poor. When I was researching for the Sutcliffe etc info, I noticed one report taking about his murders referred to ‘mostly prostitutes’. It left the implication hanging.

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          • I think I saw the Tottenham M.P.s statement in #the Independent….I rather thought that Labour had abandoned West Indian origin voters years ago in favour of the Pakistani origin voters whose hierarchical culture made them easier to manipulate.

            The BBC is beyond it, but it should be ashamed of the quality of its current output.

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          • I thought David Lammy’s statement was perfectly valid and reasonable. There are at least three generations of black British (I think his family was part Hispanic?) if not four, who consider Britain their home. His point wasn’t about appealing to race issues interestingly, but a class (working class) one. You would have thought by now that most people could see past skin colour and address real issues instead of segregating everything on a racial basis. FFS we had West Indians and Asians in my school nearly 50 years ago.

            Seems to me the UK has got itself tied in knots on racial issues.

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          • I think that the Labour Party have abandoned any idea of class struggle – or even of class recognition. You are entitled – and entitlement takes many forms – or you are not. The Party seems to regard a culture which has hierarchical structures as being entitled, i.e. recognised as privileged – while, being unable to control it, basic working class culture of whatever skin colour has no such recognition.

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          • Well it’s not good enough :( it’s also disgustingly patronising. ‘We’re rich educated and middle class, don’t worry little people, we know what’s best for you’. The old joke about ‘I’d vote Labour but I’m a Socialist’ was never more true than it is today. Politics in Gib is a shambles too though (Q. Where is it not?)

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          • And look at their dismantling of education…the one way for working class kids to thrive. No, education is dangerous…to our masters among whom the Labour Party elite number themselves.

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          • In my youth I remember having a discussion with my parents on the same lines.

            Quite honestly, I saw nothing wrong with the education system of their youth, grammar school, technical colleges, indentured apprenticeships etc. I’ll admit to being totally biased but I see nothing wrong with a good academic education on the one hand, and a good practical one as an alternative.

            Interestingly Partner had a pretty poor education (one of the most deprived areas, in fact most places outside the SE seem to qualify for that label) and yet, he got his City and Guilds and can bore for Britain about the chemistry of alkali resisting primers, epoxy, spray painting and thinners etc.

            Changing systems for the sake of it costs money. Are young people better educated than us?

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    • I’m not complaining about her. I’m complaining about the fact that she wears a platinum wig for parties taking up the best part of an early page in a so-called newspaper where the early pages *should* be for important news.

      And that doesn’t include Nigella’s hair. When I was a kid the Daily Mail used to be a broadsheet. Not that I read it.

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  3. You did well to comment on the Daily Mail offerings without going off onto even somewhat of a rant… I miss Clouds… There’s plenty of material to work with, not necessarily as reported simply content such as I read and found quite incredible on local media… http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/teen-killers-of-janine-balding-have-received-cruel-inhumane-and-degrading-punishment-un-20141121-11r5n3.html [for committing a cruel inhumane and degrading crime].
    No wonder I prefer reading blog posts, book reviews and interesting background about authors.

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    • I’ll see if I can fluff up some Clouds in the New Year. Ankle plus catching up has put the brakes (breaks?) on blogging.

      That story was amusing. Absolutely brutal. The UN ruling didn’t sound far short of ‘f you’ve been sexually abused as a kid’ you can go and kidnap, rape, and murder women ‘cos you had a rough childhood’.

      I note the NSW state government doesn’t have to implement the ruling.

      I prefer blog posts too. The ‘news’ is so utterly depressing. A mix of crazy political decisions, boring celebrity coverage, and a few excursions into the depravity and greed that constitutes our society.

      I have some notes for the author to do for a book review site, and another book to read and review for a book tour. Much more satisfying.

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  4. At this rate, just avoid the daily mail.
    Our newspapers are worse. Half the newspaper is about politicians, the other half is about other politicians and then sports. One can die from reading the newspapers daily.

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    • It’s free. I feel duty bound to glance through it, although I’m two days behind, apart from the word and number puzzles which I think are more intellectual rewarding.

      I missed out the political bits, although som were mildly interesting. Sport was ok as Brit Lewis Hamilton won the Grand Prix. Another Brit won the world scrabble championship. Wales lost against NZ at rugby so I got a good laugh there at (Welsh) Partner’s expense 😀

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  5. I think I manage quite well without reading any newspapers and don’t even watch the news. If there’s something important I should know, I will find out. :D

    I had to go and google the ‘news’ about Nigella and her blonde wig. LOL! I once watched her making food and wasn’t even hungry afterwards. She was forever licking her fingers and then touched the food. Yuck! :D

    As for the ‘rapetruck’. Stupid and silly and no joke for any woman on this planet for sure. I am glad he got what he deserved.

    I do love the cute photo of little Snowy. What a darling little pup he was and still is and I am so thankful you found him Kate. I don’t like the silly season at all and are totallly against the idea of people giving away pets as presents. I say if you want a pet, adopt one from one of your local shelters, but don’t give it as a present. People think if they give you something as a present, you’re not supposed to say ‘no’. They’ll get a no-no and a mouthful from me for sure. :D

    Great reviews as usual. Are they in movie format yet? LOL! I wish Douglas would wake up and have his book made into a movie. :D

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    • Of course you will, you have a wide blog circuit 😀 but to be serious, I have often learned of something via blogs. Saves me trawling through a load of boring news.

      Seriously who is interested in whether she wears a platinum wig or not? Are there really no more interesting things to write about? I could think of loads. But possibly not as fluffy :( apart from monkeys or dogs. I may have watched once years ago. But I’m not a fan of cookery programmes. They are too pretentious. I did watch some Spanish ones because mostly, they were much more basic, using seasonal produce, simple methods, and it helped to improve my Spanish.

      Well, he lost his (freelance) job. I wouldn’t wish that on most people, but I was quite sickened when I read a twitter transcript. Not just his cocky defensive attitude but his supporters who all thought it was funny.

      Such a tiny puppy, only a few days old when he was thrown out, I’ve got a couple of other pix from the woman who took him in, so I must find them and add them. He was about four or five weeks when she brought him to us, but this is obviously an early pic. Interesting pups can survive at an early age without mama, just like lambs and chickens. We’ve always taken dogs when we’ve feel it was the right time for another one. Not really a decision for someone else to take.

      His books would make good films, easy watching, action and interesting. I think Douglas may have cottoned onto your idea. I’m surprised you read his book!

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      • Great point there and I do prefer virtual travelling more than ‘bad’ news or gossip. It’s way more fun to visit someone’s blog and hear about their ‘news’ and see the beauty that surrounds them. Most news of today are depressing and all about scandal. I’m not interested. Some days I think I’m am depressed enough for the whole world and well, I think if I want to, I can create a scandal or two as well … and thinking of it, so can you. LOL!

        I totally agree with you. I’d much rather prefer seeing you in a blonde wig. That would be way more interesting. :D

        The only cooking videos I like to watch is Jamie Oliver. I just adore him and he has such great tips as well. :D

        Well, I don’t feel sorry for that guy and there was nothing funny about that post of his. I wonder what would have happened if the roles were turned around and a woman made a ‘joke’ like that about a man being raped and posed on a truck like that?

        Shame, I can’t for the life of me think how anyone can throw out any puppy or animals for that matter. That is why I don’t like people that abuse them. To me a person like that is not human at all. If they can do that to an animal, they can do it to a human being as well.

        They would indeed and I loved the storyline and characters, especially Hendrix, the cat, and the fact that the cat on the cover was one of his own cats, made the story just more special. I love that cover. :D

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        • I was about to write as usual we agree, but yay! I don’t like Jamie Oliver. I don’t hugely dislike him, but I don’t like him. I did use to find Gordon Ramsay funny though in an over-the-top sort of way. According to my source of essential news items he’s in a spot of financial bother via his father-n-law. Too tedious to go into and not interesting enough and not my business.

          I thought it was good that his freelance employers totally distanced themselves from him. I mean, he was a freelance trainer, I take it that meant he also had women clients? And he ‘joked’ that the image was his mum. I could go to town on that one, I tell you.

          How few animals pose harm to people rather than the other way round? And a defenceless days old puppy? Doesn’t bear thinking about.

          Yes, I think we should start casting. No Hollywood stars, please. It should be a rather cute British film, suitably low budget and very very dry and satirical. Not much money in it though 😃

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          • LOL! Good! We shouldn’t agree on everything. It’s boring. hahahahah!

            Never heard about him and thanks for mentioning. I searched on youtube and found this :

            Now all of us were watching this video and getting hungrier by the minute. hahahahah! He is a great chef for sure, but like I told hubby … what I like about Jamie is that he sometimes uses stuff that’s not so expensive. Gordon is a fancy chef and very, very good as well. But I still prefer Jamie. LOL!

            I think so too and as a freelance trainer he should have known best.

            I totally agree with you there. Some people just shouldn’t be allowed to live, I say.

            hahahahaha! We should yes and no please! I would love Johnny Depp in the lead role please. I am not crazy about British films or low budget films, but the very, very dry and satirical can go. LOL!

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          • Well yes, so we can disagree on films too. I love low budget films and Brit ones. I adore the understatement. With the exception of James Bond, I rarely watch blockbusters. I did a film review on roughseas a few years back. No idea how popular the film was but we enjoyed it. Mark Wahlberg and an empty cinema. Nice.

            Some of his chef progs were funny—if—-and only if, you don’t mind swearing. I like that vid though. I’ve got all those ingredients in all the time. In fact the pancakes even without the potatoes would be brill. Although … that’s not how my mother made pancake batter. Always needed to let it stand.

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    • PS I forgot to say, I read your taking a break post, hopefully not like my break. Can totally understand. Sometimes it’s nice to step away. Wanted to ask you a question about the lemon spider though. They seem to be a mix of good and bad as I noticed you said they ate pollinating insects, like bees? Is that to cut down excessive pollination or … what? Pretty though.

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      • Yeah, I wanted to take my break just before the awful silly season starts.

        I do have a few schedules posts lined up, but the comments will be closed and when I feel like it, I will visit my favourite blogs (follow my eyes) and come in for a chat. :D

        Great question and thanks for asking. I read up all about these cuties as much as I could and wanted to add the link to this .pdf that I found in my ‘googling’, but didn’t think anyone would be interested enough to read it. :D

        As for your question, here is the link to the .pdf file and I found it very interesting.

        http://www.mtnativeplants.org/filelib/93.pdf

        What I can also tell you is that experiments showed for the first time that when bees find themselves in these predator-infested environments they locate safe places to eat by joining other bees that are already safely feeding on flowers.

        So, it seems bees are clever as well, but all in all, spiders do not attack enough bees to disturb pollination in a garden. Bees normally spread themselves out among flowers to minimise competition, but when danger lurks they dine together to seek safety in numbers.

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        • Our (UK) silly season is August ie summer when Parliament is out and newspapers have nowt to write about, but suppose as this is your summer, your silliness starts soon.

          Well, then I shall hunt you down to ask any questions. I tend to read blogs more than once (as do others I know) before commenting, because I like to think and decide what to say rather than just the obligatory great photos (which yours always are). I would rather be a bit more original than that.

          You should know I always read your links and thanks for the PDF link, which is pretty much how you summarised it in this comment. I asked because I wasn’t aware that spiders were ‘bad’ predators so it struck me as interesting, but, it would therefore appear, as ever without our interference, nature finds it’s own balance. I thought it as a really interesting point, and I read through all the others to see if anyone else had mentioned it before I asked you. Now I had a grey headed bush shrike question too …

          Thanks for answering me 🐝

          Liked by 1 person

          • Yes, I can’t stand this ‘silliness’. Makes me depressed. Way too many people using it as an excuse to drink and drive, use fire crackers, leave their pets at home unattended and you see them running around in the streets, wondering where the people are that used to take care of them. In the meantime those folks are enjoying their ‘holidays’ without a care or thought for those pets.

            hahahaha! Hunt away! LOL!

            Yes, that I’ve noticed and I appreciate that so much. You are one of the best and greatest readers and commenters for sure. :D

            It sure is interesting and that was also my thought when I read that and I believe that nature knows what its doing. More than we do for sure. :D

            Ask away. If I can answer you, I surely will and thanks for all the interest Kate and you are very welcome. :D

            Like

          • Not too much Christmas rubbish here or Spain. Thundered and lightened last night, but dogs OK so that was good, we’ve had frightened dogs before in Mediterranean thunderstorms.

            There are more interesting things to read about than Nigella’s hair colour so it’s always good to learn something from your posts and links.

            I’ll hold you to it if I have a question and slant comment. The hunting Gibraltarian spider will be out for answers.

            Liked by 1 person

  6. I started to read this post a couple of days ago and we had a power failure, or ‘outage’ as our local Electricity Board call it. I thought I’d finished it, and written something, for some reason. Well I didn’t. Obviously.
    So here’s my belated comment.

    I only read the paper on Saturday – for the crossword and the gardening. The rest goes straight into the recycle bag.
    If I could get the bloke at the garage where we buy the damn paper just to sell us the Weekend Supplement I doubt I’d ever read ‘news’ .
    The prosecution story for leaving the kid in the car is a bit left field. Like you, I would sit in the car listening to the radio and reading a book while my mum or dad went to the shops.
    We once accidentally locked Ems in the car outside a salon I owned when she was still in the car seat.
    Only took a second, and there were the keys – in the ignition. Was mid summer and the temp in the 30’s.
    That was scary!

    We actually did buy our two kids a pet each for xmas one time! Was the beginning of the menagerie. ;)

    Nice reviews. Not my tasse de thé ( crime) any more. I’m getting worse in my ‘old age’.
    And thanks for the punt. I’ll blow you an X from Jo’burg, how’s that?

    A movie of Almost Dead? Now there’s a thought!

    Like

    • Averias we call them in Spain. Means a breakdown of water, power, vehicles, person, whatever. A useful all-purpose word.

      I used to read every paper seven days a week for press office work in London, and in the sticks, all the local ones, plus watching and listening to all news programmes. When you are working in media it matters. When you aren’t, it’s pretty irrelevant really.

      The Daily Wail has an interesting part pic part easy cryptic crossword. Couldn’t work it out to start with, but after a few goes, like any other, you work out the clues and it’s easy now. Still fun. Favourite UK crossword was the Observer. Apart from interesting crosswords, I like the elimination sort of puzzles like Sudoku, and the Wail does a word and number pattern one that I’ve cracked now. Beats reading the news eg What make-up Kate Moss wears for a night out …

      I used to listen to,Radio Luxembourg. Mine were in the pub, bit different I think? But still, I was happy, so no harm done. Then and now are different. Or maybe not, McCanns huh? You obviously got Ems out OK, or rather, got into the car.

      If you are responsible parents and accept that giving a child an animal for Christmas means the work will fall mainly on the parent, that’s your choice. But shelters are always full after Christmas with puppy gifts that have gone wrong. Puppy is in new household, loads of commotion, no time for puppy, blah blah.

      Bobbi and Bella are beauts. We went round a shelter once to add to the pack, and there was a sad boxer in a dark cell, aged nine, who had been there for ages and no-one wanted him. His image always stayed with me (having been brought up with boxers). As did the one of the cute GSD puppies that all the local kids were gooing over (Sunday afternoon entertainment in Newcastle to visit the local unwanted dogs), and I wondered how long it would be before those cute puppies would be dumped back at the shelter. When we took Prince (GSD) from the partner shelter, he’d already been in and out of there a couple of times.

      It’s a sad fact there are too many dumped dogs, and British royals buying a cute puppy for a relly for Christmas really doesn’t help.

      I like crime/thrillers etc, didn’t yours have an element in there as well of the surreal? Anyway these books are interesting because they are almost or not dead too. I didn’t dare forget it after the last reminder. I think it’s got lost in the wind and the rain. But thanks anyway.

      Don’t forget to credit me and Sonel. Make sure it’s a British film. Americans would make a hash of the satire. It needs understatement. A has been watching films on youtube recently and just loves the British ones. Totally different. Maybe not mindless blockbuster though.

      Like

  7. “If it bleeds, it leads,” has never ceased to be a watchword for the media. And, of course, if nothing’s bleeding then the next best thing is to trot out some quotes from the lunatics who occupy polar ends of any controversial topic. That’s why, every now and then, it’s so refreshing to be in the audience whenever the media decides to air someone who behaves reasonably. I had such an incident the other day while driving to work. The president of the school council’s association (in NL each school has its own advisory council) was brought in via telephone to a CBC morning show. I think the host expected him to adopt an extreme position–he often does–but, when he instead decided to speak reasonably to both sides of the issue (frankly I cannot recall right now just what was the topic) it was such a shock, such a surprise that I found my morning mood change decidedly for the better. Yes, I suppose that media depends on the extreme positions, else people won’t respond, phone, tweet or whatever, but I do wish that maybe our public conversations could be coaxed to adopt that reasonable, tolerant and above all realistic stance more often. Let;s face it – the things that need changing can only be altered over time if enough people decide it’s in their best interest and simply hearing people bicker and fight it out from extreme positions only tends to lead to stalemate. Witness US politics, something based on exactly that. For all the efforts, money and dirty-double-dealings that go into those extremely adversarial affairs the outcome of only ever barely more than 50:50 split with the so-called victor being pretty much too weak to pull off any of the items they were chasing after. In short, big noise, little action.
    But then again I suppose the “news” pieces that are about nothing much (celebrities and their tawdry lives) do give the bored and otherwise disengaged something to bite into.

    Like

    • Ha! Too funny given my header photo. There is a black humour in a newsroom though, believe me. Trouble is, it’s quite funny.

      I can do reasonable. Occasionally. The point is, when does reasonable become watering down and compromise? Conviction politics or consensus?

      As for what needs changing, perhaps if it ain’t broke? Many things aren’t actually broke, but endless amounts of public money are spent on political change for no good reason.

      A colleague worked on one particular project in the NHS (before this job, she was transferred, she told me they’d all turned up to work every day with nothing to do), after a couple of years, the work of her and a colleague were scrapped because of a change of government. To me, that is a serious waste of money. Because they weren’t on bad salaries either, plus their office staff.

      I don’t see why it is so difficult. Ensure decent housing, employment for people who can work, good health care, and look after people who are unable to look after themselves, for whatever reason. And stop interfering in other countries to safeguard energy supplies. And, and, and …

      Like

  8. Ok, I’ll work my way backwards: You only like and wrote about the book ’cause it mentions Hal… we all know it, don’t deny it. ;) Great review and follow up Qs

    Baby snowy… best part of the post… without this, I may not have bothered reading on. Can I get a copy of baby snowy? :D :D :D I won’t use it on my blog or anything… promise. I just love that pic… grabby grabby cuddledie!!!

    Forget the rest of you post… I don’t read the daily drivel anyway. :D

    Like

    • I don’t usually go for questions, but when I’ve read a couple of books and I’m thinking … ? Hmmm, now why did they write that, what made them think, it’s too good a nosy opportunity to miss. And, to be fair to EJ he did put some thought into his answers. I don’t think he’d like to come to dinner with me, don’t sound like a tofu and salad sort of person … 😉

      Baby Snowy ain’t my pic to yay or nay, hence ©RC on it. I nearly took twenty pix of him curled up under blankets today, definitely grabby cuddle, and, he actually lets you do it too. Awwwww. I’ve a couple of other pix of Baby Snowy that I must find and post, one where he’s smaller than a coke can.

      It’s reassuring to read that many people don’t meanwhile must dash, my latest copy of the daily whatever has been delivered. Soduko or is it sudoku? first though before I read about make up and hairstyles ..

      Liked by 1 person

        • Pull them across if you want, there are a few of tiny Snows on Pippa’s. The other two very baby ones are also from his foster mum, they are cute though.

          Stuffed up all my sudokus. Think my brain cells need recharging after completing Gib tax return :D

          Liked by 1 person

          • I think the UK go out of their way to make everything as difficult as possible for people so they can screw them every which way.

            Only the wealthy get away with things on taxes by paying a pro to find loopholes for them. It’s a rich person’s country is the UK. That’s what everything is geared towards.

            Like

          • Oddly while I thought I did As tax returns perfectly, they always gave me a rebate! Bloody Gib govt owes us a fortune in rebates … 😡

            Yup, it is. It’s great if you are well off, and I did ok,not rich, not poor. But now, social values are despised and greed and wealth are worshipped. But what would I know, I’m just an onlooker.

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Sorry Kate! Resuming the conversation over here. I didn’t see your second from last comment before I responded about the screen print. I do see what you mean, and am obviously still doing it wrong, but I don’t know if I care. As you say- my photos are usually big enough. Do I need people looking closely at the flaws :) :) M-R sent me a PDF with screen prints, but you know I can be pretty dense. Just don’t tell everybody :)
    I didn’t take in a single word of your post so I’d better go back to the beginning.

    Like

    • Probably better to have it over here, saves anyone getting put out. It’s your blog, I think it’s worthwhile responding to some comments about what people like/dislike, but we all have the choice to add like buttons, smilies, opt to enlarge photos, moderate comments, whatever. I find your blog perfectly readable, the photos are large enough, and I’m honestly not going to enlarge every single one to peer at the detail. Nor do I do that on anyone else’s blog. I do usually look at slide show/galleries and stop if one takes my interest. And I find uploading via media a pain.

      The question is, I suppose, why spend a load of time ensuring people can see bigger images when the existing ones are fine?

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Okey doke! I’ll put him on my book list.
    Nigella Lawson I can live without, but I’d let her cook for me :) Slightly confused by the side by side format, but it’s good to ring the changes. Is the foot pretty near heeled and good to dance yet?

    Like

    • I thought you didn’t like the same books as me?

      Not sure I’d let her cook for me, but Sonel’s Gordon Ramsay vid looks good, I think I’d let him make tasty pancakes for me.

      I didn’t realise it was double column until people pointed it out. Doesn’t show up on iPad. I had to look at lap top. I’ll try and find a single column one again but too busy to go through the brain numbing exercise of theme searching right now.

      No.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. I agree with you. Never give pets as gifts. That’s a bad idea. A very bad idea.

    Haven’t read anything by E.J. Simon yet, but they sound thrilling. How horrible about his uncle. Not sure how I would have reacted if I witnessed that at the age of five.

    Like

    • I suppose it is sort of not too bad if a family is getting an animal anyway and everyone is happy about that. But, I don’t buy into the ethos of animals as commodities, and surely everyone knows that shelters are heaving after Christmas with unwanted animals, and that Christmas is the worst time of year ever to introduce a new animal into a home? Noise, disruption, excitement, people, worst conditions imaginable.

      Depends if you like thriller types with a quirky twist. He provides a good read with decent characters and a fairly solid plot.

      Like

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