Slugger O'Toole

Conversation, politics and stray insights

Books

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

Sat 15 March 2014, 10:34am

Tweet 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 […] more »

Well meaning though it may be, I’m against teaching history to promote a shared identity

Thu 7 March 2013, 5:21pm

Tweet The historian Tristram Hunt has given a cautious welcome in the Times to Michael Gove’s controversial plans for the history curriculum in England,  (£) a topic I raised last month. This is interesting because Hunt is also a Labour MP and pro-Labour reaction to the Gove proposals was generally hostile. Hunt writes: At the […] more »

A rolling First World War reviews thread.

Sun 11 November 2012, 11:11am

Tweet 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 […] more »

“I loathe Ireland and the Irish.”

Tue 10 January 2012, 3:10pm

Tweet 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 […] more »

The Written World

Fri 6 January 2012, 4:10pm

Tweet 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 […] more »

What have the Elizabethans ever done for us?

Mon 2 January 2012, 11:57am

Tweet 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 […] more »

Archimedes’ bellyache

Thu 27 October 2011, 3:13pm
Archimedes Palimpsest

Tweet 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 […] more »

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

Mon 15 August 2011, 4:28pm

Tweet 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 […] more »

Another Bookish Thread

Sun 14 August 2011, 6:35pm

Tweet 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 […] more »

A poem for (yester) day – Affshore

Tue 9 August 2011, 10:00am

Tweet 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 […] more »

A poem for the day – The Pipe-bomber

Wed 3 August 2011, 10:00am

Tweet 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 […] more »

A poem for the day… Bonfire Makers

Mon 1 August 2011, 10:00am

Tweet 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 […] more »

The Earl Bishop

Thu 23 June 2011, 6:46pm
The Earl-Bishop, Frederick Augustus Hervey

Tweet 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 […] more »

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

Thu 16 June 2011, 1:29pm

Tweet 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 […] more »

Quote of the Week…

Sat 4 June 2011, 2:55pm
Outside Looking In

Tweet 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.” more »

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

Mon 4 April 2011, 3:54pm

Tweet 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 […] more »

John Laird for Christmas?

Fri 17 December 2010, 12:45pm
A Struggle to be Heard

Tweet 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 […] more »

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

Mon 13 December 2010, 4:39pm
Lost Art of Reading

Tweet 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 […] more »

“The Provisionals must accept that this will happen to them, too.”

Wed 10 November 2010, 2:53pm

Tweet Liam Clarke was invited to speak at the launch of Richard O’Rawe’s second book on the disputed offer to end the hunger strike in the Maze - Afterlives: The Hunger Strike and the Secret Offer That Changed Irish History. In the News Letter he explains why and, in doing so, addresses a recent topic on Slugger. It […] more »

Belfast port celebrated as hopes rise for lower corporation tax

Tue 9 November 2010, 9:57pm

Tweet 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 […] more »

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