Friday, February 26, 2010

Chocolate: food of the gods

Picture courtesy of NASA.
Slogan courtesy of fridge magnets everywhere.

Chocolate is of course the most precious substance known to humankind. I've had confirmation of this in the book I'm reading at the moment. It's Wizards at War by Diane Duane. Faced with mercenary soldiers who refuse to reveal their secrets, one of the characters holds up a slim black rectangle, golden at each end.
"I have here," she said, in very clear and New York-accented Speech, "a new bar of Valrhona Caraïbe Single-Estate Grand Cru."
Now there's a woman that knows her chocolate! And she uses it to bribe the alien race into giving her what she wants.

What I love about Duane's Young Wizard books is the gentle humour that runs all the way through. Even when the Wizards are saving the world they have time for a joke. It's pure escapism, which is what I like. That and a bar of chocolate.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Here is one I made earlier

I've found a word game for when you need to procrastinate. It works by word association and you can make your own levels, so I did. My level is here.

It's much easier making a level than it is playing one!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sex education in the 60s - allegedly

Click on picture to enlarge

I came across this alleged extract from a 1960s sex education text over at Our-Local. (They're a great bunch of people over there but don't visit if you're easily offended.) You'll have noticed that the explanatory text is part of the picture, so clearly this isn't the original page. But is the text genuine? Some people think that it is but I don't agree.

I was born in 1954 so I was young in the 60s and my memory of how people talked about sex then is that they didn't!

As I remember it, advice for young girls was mainly about periods. Oh, and washing your stockings every day. I don't remember any advice on marriage, except possibly "wait until you're married". No one said what you were meant to wait for, because that kind of thing wasn't talked about.

Human reproduction was covered in biology lessons and booklets. The two-dimensional diagrams of male and female reproductive organs didn't really explain how people had sexual intercourse (as it was called) let alone why they would want to do so. says in A Brief History of Sex Ed:
Anecdotal accounts of lessons on the reproductive systems of rabbits, or the pollination of flowering plants, suggest that much school sex education in the UK in the 1950s and ‘60s, was carried out through the descriptions, though not the observations, of the reproductive habits of plants and non-human animals.
At least we were told about humans.

The alleged text book article strikes a very different note. It just doesn't ring true to me and I actually find it much funnier to read it as the spoof it undoubtedly is.

Do you agree?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Another book competition

A vampire who is sent to assassinate Jesus? You must admit it's an unusual premise.

If you want a chance to win a signed copy of 33 AD then all you need to do is to comment over at Obfuscation of Reality. Good Luck!

Monday, February 15, 2010


If you're going to insist that your words be reproduced exactly as you wrote them, it helps to spell them correctly.

Full story here.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Avatar again

My Beloved and I went to see Avatar again yesterday. We first saw it on Christmas Eve. It was even better this time round; I could pick up on bits of the story that foreshadowed what would happen later and I could be more relaxed about following the plot. I felt just as involved and my Beloved was surprised at how much I startled at the scary moments.

I was thinking about how this relates to books. A really good book will not only bear re-reading but will be enjoyable on a second read because I know what's coming. There are two distinct experiences of a book or a film: when you first come to the story with no expectations and and when you return to it with a knowledge of what happens. I like it when I can enjoy both.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Interplanetary Be Who You Are Day

Kristin has renamed February 14th Interplanetary Be Who You Are Day.

Valentine's Day is great for greeting card manufacturers and couples who are in love but it can be a very painful time for people who aren't in a romantic relationship.

Kristen has a great list of people who might not be celebrating Valentine's Day, including
A person with a broken heart who is sobbing.
A person who is simply too tired to care about Valentine's Day because her twin toddlers are sticking macaroni up their noses AGAIN.

Here's to 14th February as Interplanetary Be Who You Are Day. Or maybe it could be Reach Out And Hug A Friend Day.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Free speech

We've got a bit of a problem in the UK in that our libel laws are the worst in Europe. As they stand a claimant usually wins; this means that publishers, journalists, and others are being muzzled. The cost of a defence can be over £1 million, which is 140 times what it costs elsewhere in Europe.

The government is soon going to reconsider these laws and I wonder if you'd be willing to sign a petition asking for reform.

It doesn't just affect the UK as we get people from other countries coming to make their claims here - it's called libel tourism. What a thing to be known for! I'd rather see us known for freedom of speech.

Edited to add: you can read more about it on Nicola Morgan's blog.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Rufus in love

Rufus has been guest blogging over at Whirlochre's blog.

Well, when I say guest blogging, I mean that Rufus provided a poem and a picture and Whirl worked his magic and turned them into a brilliantly funny post.

Or rather, his cat Geoff did. It may help to know that Whirl's cat Geoff is a female.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Light Relief

This is nothing to do with books, words, writing, nor even with cats. This comes under "whatever takes my fancy". It made me giggle.

As my boys would say, the ending is random. I love that use of the word.

Thanks to mynfel for the link.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Spot the mistake

In the book I'm reading the narrator discovers someone on the point of death:
The body... sucked in a shuddering breath... and then... exhaled it in a single word...

'Vale!' it said.
A little later the narrator looks the word up in the dictionary:
What was that word the stranger had breathed in my face? 'Vale!' That was it! it was: vale... It was pronounced val-eh...

Am I the only person to see something wrong here?

When someone says something to me I know how it is pronounced but not necessarily how it is spelt. In this story, the narrator knows how to spell a word she has heard but not how it sounds. How is that possible? It pulled me right out of the story.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Flash Fiction

I've been getting the Flash Fiction newsletter for a while now. Not all the stories are to my taste but I loved a recent one with the unpromising title Pêlos. It contrasts beautifully the modern and the archaic, and there is some amusing dialogue between a bright teenager and someone rather dimmer.

I see that they are accepting submissions. Just in case you have a story ready to go and need to keep the koala happy.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

When inspiration doesn't strike

What do you do when inspiration doesn't strike? There's an interesting post at The Stellar Café about just this. Peter Reynolds' suggestion is not to write anything but to paint or draw something instead.

I think I might give it a try. Doodling around with a pen seems much less demanding than actually writing something and who knows what it might lead to?

It's worth popping across to The Stellar Café to read the original post.

Picture Creative Commons License fairyhedgehog

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

The power of words

There's a lovely article over at Laughing Squid about the power of words - even rather random words. Last week Westboro Baptist Church turned up with their usual hate-filled signs outside Twitter's San Francisco office to find a larger group of people were already there carrying random signs. (I have no idea why the WBC was protesting against Twitter but maybe they don't need a reason.)

I'm not sure what was most effective in countering the hate attack: the gentle mockery of the signs or the cheerfulness of the counter-demonstrators. Either way, the self-styled Baptists left earlier than planned, cutting out a scheduled protest against Fiddler on the Roof.

The article and more pictures are here. Thanks to Pewari for the link.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Are we nearly there yet?

Imbolc Dawn, fabrics, 10x12 in by Jude Spacks

This has been one of the longest winters I've ever known. The heavy snow had me almost housebound and there have been too many days when the weather is simply grey and I begin to wonder if we will ever see the sun again.

But the days are getting longer and I was delighted to discover that today is officially Imbolc - the pagan festival that celebrates the beginning of spring.

Imbolc Dawn by Jude Spacks, detail

So, Happy Imbolc to everyone! Here's to more sun coming our way!

(Of course, if you live in the Southern Hemisphere it isn't Imbolc at all, but I send you my best wishes anyway.)
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