Flourishing romance noise and sex

28/06/2011

The headline isn’t supposed to make sense as a sentence, it’s the topics covered in my discussion with Jim Mora on Critical Mass today.

Umair Haque urges us to turn our back on oppulance and seek eudaemonia instead. He defines that as flourishing – the pursuit of fulfilment, inspiration, creation and accomplishment.

Romance novelists and readers defend romance fiction against the accusation that “women can become as dangerously unbalanced by these books’ .

On a related topic, the Guardian has taken a paragraph  from 10 books and asks if you can tell the sex of the author. I scored only 6/10 and that came with an accusation of sloppy thinking.

Maybe the sloppy thinking is the result of too much noise – Alan Schwarz writes in the New York Times about pumping up the volume for fans at sports games.


Dick Francis – a tribute

15/02/2010

The paperback had lost its front cover and the blurb on the back mentioned racing.

That almost put me off, but I was stuck in a cottage in rural Kent. Rain had stopped hop picking for the day, it was too wet to walk into the nearest village and there was nothing else to read.

The book was Flying Finish by Dick Francis and within a few paragraphs I was hooked.

I sought out his other books and have now read everything he’s written.

He was a champion jockey who went into journalism when he retired from the race track. That didn’t pay well, his wife suggested he write a novel and that was the start of his career as a thriller writer.

Horses and racing feature in all his books but his heroes usually have other strings to their bows. Through Dick Francis I learned more about photography, flying, the jewellery business and wine than I’d otherwise have thought I’d want to know. 

The meticulous detail which made his characters and their lives so real and believable was one of the factors which made his books so good.

He had an old-fashioned attitude to women, but  most of his books featured a strong woman and his heroes always treated them  with respect. They were also honest and upright and one of the themes in all his books was the triumph of good against evil.

His late wife, Mary did a lot of his research and some suggest she played a bigger role in the writing too. His last four books were co-authored with his son Francis.

Dick Francis’s website is here.

The Times’ obituary is here.

The Telegraph’s obituary is here.

The Guardian’s obituary is here.

Keeping Stock also pays tribute.

Update: Kismet Farma has posted her tribute too.


NZ a square peg in round ETS hole

24/11/2009

New Zealand’s problem is that we’re different.

Primary production and industries based on it are our bigeest export earners; almost all our forestry is from exotic species; we have relatively little heavy industry and the bulk of our power is already from renewable sources.

The Kyoto Protocol wasn’t designed for countries like us.

The heavy reliance on primary production is much more common in developing countries. But around half our emissions come from animals and there is little, short of reducing stock numbers, we can do to reduce them immediately. Research is being undertaken to reduce emissions from livestock but practical, affordable solutions may be years away.

The rules requiring new trees to be replanted where old ones were felled was aimed at protecting rain forests and indigenous species. It seems no-one considered that a clause aimed at protecting indigenous trees shouldn’t apply to exotic timber species in a country where they grow as well as they do here.

Our private vehicle ownership is high by world standards but that reflects our relatively small, widespread population which means that public transport is neither practical nor affordable in many places.

New Zealand is a square peg and we were ill served by the negotiators who tried to fit us into the round ETS hole.

I have a lot of confidence in Tim Groser who will be working on our behalf at the Copenhagen summit.

But I thought the whole thing was a dog’s breakfast from the start and my concerns are even greater now that there are questions over manipulation of climate change data.

Over at Sciblogs Aimee Witcroft raises the possibility the leaked emails have been doctored and points to a Guardian story  on the issue. It quotes Prof Bob Watson, the chief scientific advisor at Britain’s Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs who said,

“Evidence for climate change is irrefutable. The world’s leading scientists overwhelmingly agree what we’re experiencing is not down to natural variation.”

 Also at Sciblogs Gareth Renowden isn’t convinced by the leaked material.

For a contrary view see:  Ian Wishart,  Adolf at No Minister,  Roarprawn, Whaleoil,  Not PC, Poneke,  Mr Tips at NZ Conservative, Thoughts from 40 South, and Something Should Go Here  who says: 

I’ll say it a thousand times, climate change activism is about politics, not science.


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