Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Next up on the reading list...

"Going Rogue".

As I have forsworn politics here, I guess I can't say anything more. ;-)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Tiger doesn't read?

Or rather, I don't read enough.

Silly way to put it -- I spend all my days reading. I do almost nothing but.

However... I have a bad habit. I have a whole stack of books I have bought this year and not read the whole way through.

Mainly they're political and historical, but some novels are in there, too...

Right now, I've got a book on foreign policy by Bush and Scowcroft, a biography of Cheney, and others just kicking around, collecting dust... The last book I read through was John Fleming's "The Anti-Communist Manifestos"...

So that's why I haven't been posting over the last while -- I felt guilty.

But I shall feel guilty no longer -- I shall make all the non-political posts I want, whatever their topic.

Even if none of them are about reading...

Google Stalker

Gmail is an amazing thing.

I love it -- I filter all my e-mail through my account there -- college alumni addresses, whatever.

But sometimes it scares me.

I made a throwaway reference to it being time for me to have lunch "on a lovely Sunday afternoon" in an e-mail to a friend (I'd already peppered her with short missives on a given topic that day, and was thus promising that I was done filling her inbox), and what did Google present me with?


It knows what I'm up to...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


This is interesting:
The Old English Bulldog is an extinct breed of dog.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Amazing maize mazes

Apparently corn mazes are a widespread cultural phenomenon.

Who knew?

(Reminds me of a crack one television version of Lois Lane made about "ritual crop worship" at the Smallville Corn Festival.)

[My shoes are just now recovering from the mud -- wore my Topsiders, on the assumption that it would get pretty gross. I was right. I'm wearing the winter boots next time I go to a corn maze after a heavy rain...]

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Old-fashioned mores and manners

I'm not very good at following the stuff mentioned in the title, but I was raised to it -- that is, I was sent to a school that emphasized them.

As a result, I have a weakness for books that stress them. What era covers that? The early twentieth century, really -- the Edwardian era.

Everything published before 1923 is in the public domain, so there's a treasure trove out there, if only you know what to look for. Project Gutenberg has done its most excellent work, but it's accessible only if you know the author or the book's name...

So I'm a fan of a little site called Arthur's Classic Novels. Someone (presumably "Arthur") has collected the bestsellers lists from the first two decades of the twentieth century and posted the e-texts of each of those novels (most of 'em, anyway) on his site.

There are some real potboilers among them, but there also are some gems.

And there are ones which are somewhere in between, which some may enjoy. For instance, I quite enjoyed Jeffrey Farnol's My Lady Caprice. And the Williamsons' The Princess Passes made for an interesting read, though I'm sure that many contemporary readers would read all sorts of subtexts into it that probably weren't intended...

On the other hand, there are some novels which are less fun -- Lady Baltimore is pleasant enough until it gets onto the issue of race. Then it horrifies.

Still, hits and misses are to be expected, and best of all is the price -- free. The best-liked novels of twenty years of a mass readership would have cost quite a bit, a century ago. Now we can just download them, read them, and decide whether they're worthy or not...

Update: I know I said I wouldn't get political, and I won't, but I thought of this because I had a thought in an e-mail I sent to a friend last night -- to what extent should the old-fashioned virtues like honour and integrity guide public policy.

It's come up lately in the foreign policy sphere, and there are differing views on the extent to which it should govern our actions.

Given that a sense of honour regarding Belgian neutrality arguably significantly helped pitch the British Empire into the First World War -- a calamity Britannia never recovered from -- it certainly once did have a strong pull.

Now... well, it's a tough call. We are all steely-eyed pragmatists, or at least pretend to have some of their mindset. (Not that it wasn't present back then -- raison d'etat and so on. "England has no eternal allies or foes, only eternal interests.")