Tag Archives | Books

Vegetarian Stalinism Part 2: Ready the Gulags on the South Downs

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Last month I highlighted the bizarre suggestion by the Green Party that in response to the flooding all government ministers and advisors who were sceptical of climate change should be sacked. Memorably when given the opportunity to refine and tone down this suggestion the leader of the Green Party Natalie Bennett claimed that even those more…

A rolling First World War reviews thread.

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Given the day that is in it, and since there are only whatever number of shopping days until Christmas, this post is a rolling review of First World War literature, in its broadest sense to include personal accounts, historical fiction (and everything in between), histories, cinema, documentary, drama, theatre and the endless poetry. Next year, more…

“I loathe Ireland and the Irish.”

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In the Irish Times, Brian Cosgrove takes up temporary residence in An Irishman’s Diary in the hope that, with the lifting of European copyright restrictions on James Joyce’s major works, a greater familiarity with Joyce’s “sometimes ruthless realism” may change the nature of the “annual Edwardian charade” that is Bloomsday.  From the Irish Times The devastating cultural effects more…

The Written World

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Here’s something to keep you occupied over the weekend.  [Will there be a quiz? - Ed]  Possibly…  The BBC magazine has an short and interesting, but un-embeddable, audio slide-show of Melvyn Bragg’s Radio 4 five-parter, In Our Time: The Written World.  The British Library has more online information about the texts and technology featured in each more…

What have the Elizabethans ever done for us?

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If you still aren’t sure how to spend that Christmas book token, then AN Wilson’s “The Elizabethans” is a good candidate. This is a magisterial survey by the leading novelist, scholar and reviewer of the political literary and intellectual experience of a “glory age”, whose legacy in shaping modern Britain has only just come to an more…

Archimedes’ bellyache

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Having been subjected to X-ray fluorescence, and then some multispectral imaging, the 13th Century Archimedes Palimpsest may have finally revealed its last secret – “that Archimedes, working in the third century BC, considered the concept of actual infinity, something thought to have only been developed in the 19th century, and anticipated calculus.” The Palimpsest, constructed in more…

“it is a distant aspiration that fails to motivate anything other than occasional nostalgia”

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The News Letter reports some interesting quotes from former senior Provisional IRA member, now an organiser of the Independent Workers’ Union, Tommy McKearney’s new book – The Provisional IRA: From Insurrection to Parliament.  From the News Letter report The ardent socialist, who now organises the Independent Workers’ Union, says that Sinn Fein has become increasingly right more…

Another Bookish Thread

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We have not done a general thread about books for a very long time. I did one two years ago. I have just finished Kafka’s The Castle: I think I have now read most of his stuff. Metamorphosis was probably my favourite along with the In Penal Colony. Actually all Kafka is fairly heavy going: more…

A poem for (yester) day – Affshore

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In the early 90s I was living in Portmuck, Co Antrim, with a small child who thought the beach was where you lived, rain or shine, day or night. A gas pipeline was being laid between the Ayrshire and Antrim coasts, and the ‘supergun‘ scandal was in the news. Then the same news told us more…

A poem for the day – The Pipe-bomber

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This is another one from the late 90s, that I think is a response to or expression of a sense of depression at the low-level post-ceasefires violence from loyalist organisations that didn’t ‘get it’ or see anything in the ‘process’ for themselves or were just too plain sectarian to care (delete as applicable). Though I more…

A poem for the day… Bonfire Makers

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Mick has generously let me take up his offer to guest bloggers a while back, and the idea is that, a la Moochin Photoman, I’d post a poem a day for the month of August, with the odd book review or other more or less ‘cultural’ item thrown in. In deference to the appetites of more…

The Earl Bishop

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Interesting BBC article on an upcoming presentation and talk [Roe Valley Arts and Cultural Centre, 17 August] by lecturer and broadcaster Stephen Price on the subject of his new book – The Earl Bishop. The 18th Century “Earl Bishop” was Frederick Augustus Hervey, fourth Earl of Bristol and Church of Ireland Bishop of Derry.  Hervey was also elected more…

“It’s Bloomsday, or Christmas for intolerable Joyceans everywhere”

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Crooked Timber’s Kieran Healy performs “the sacred Bloomsday ritual of genuflecting solemnly before the Poster of Great Irish Writers.”  In the Irish Times, Joycean scholar Terence Killeen asks whether the lifting of copyright protection will apply to all categories of Joyce works.  And here’s that excellent video again.  It’s tradition!  Those of a sensitive disposition more…

Quote of the Week…

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From Gary Wills’ memoir Outside Looking in: Adventures of an Observer, reviewed by Michael McDonald: “Politicians live for contact with people. They lose the gift for contemplation, or research, or simple reading. Being alone with a book is a way to die for many of them.”

“All we’re doing is speaking very frankly and bluntly…”

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In The Guardian Decca Aitkenhead interviews the rational thinking AC Grayling on the publication of his latest book – “The Good Book: A Secular Bible“.  And he has this to say on atheists, and criticism from supernaturalists.  From the Guardian interview Atheists, according to Grayling, divide into three broad categories. There are those for whom this more…

John Laird for Christmas?

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John Laird (Lord Laird of Artigarvan) is unionism’s jester. His memoir A Struggle To Be Heard ” by a True Ulster Liberal”  (from Slugger’s shop on Amazon here) might serve more as a heavy stocking filler than anybody’s idea of a main present. In it he wears the masks of comedy and tragedy to turn the more…

The lost art of reading (or drowning in too much information)…

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Here’s a great review of a fascinating book (H/T reader Rory) on how the Internet is destroying our capacity for intelligent, focused and critical thought. It opens thus: …here is the news that Ulin brings in this slim, meandering book: that reading is “an act of contemplation”; that such an act becomes more difficult in more…

Belfast port celebrated as hopes rise for lower corporation tax

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The House of Lords was the suitably grand venue for the London launch of Alf McCreary’s magnificently illustrated tome Titanic Port, a history of Belfast Harbour. Before I got a chance to take a good look at my copy, my ears pricked up when the chairman of the harbour commissioners Len O’Hagan said hopes were high more…