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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Day out with Dad

I was out with Sir today. We went first to Sudbury and the heavens opened as we parked up. Now my father is not good with rain and there was no way he was walking around in it so we drove on parked up and read the paper and had a coffee.

Of course within half an hour the rain had gone and the was sun out......

We went for a stroll around Clare Country Park and the town/village.....

Resident meeter and greeter...












Sir in contemplative mood.



There were two families of Ducklings on the river.....








Tomorrow is a musical Sunday!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Trends

I am obviously getting out of touch because there are phenomenon going on that pass me by. I suspect that is because I seldom go into bookshops much these days (sorry blame Amazon!) and I know longer listen to the likes of BBC Radio 4 on the way to work, now adays my car radio is tuned permanently to BBC Radio 3 (classical music).

I was in Tesco's the other day and saw some paperbacks by some writer called E L James one of which was called 50 Shades of Grey. There seemed to be a trilogy and they were at the top of the paperback chart. I ignored it and carried on shopping.

Then on Facebook the other day lots of women went on about "Christian". Now you know how it is you think "What?". Eventually I found out he was a character from the 50 Shades of Grey Trilogy which was originally fan fiction based on the Twilight books and it was "Mummy Porn".

Now I'm not sure what "Mummy Porn" is but I was intrigued by an article on the bbc website .

The author of that article says that a year ago commentators and publishers thought that e-book sales would take 10 years to account for 50% of sales but it seems that for 50 Shades of Grey it is already selling 40-50% of sales are digital. The fear is that this (along with online stores like Amazon) will destroy the highstreet bookstore.

When I was in Hay-on-Wye recently there were signs saying no Kindles and there was a campaign to ban the Kindle from Hay. Of course the latter is impossible and given who had the Kindle signs up I had to chuckle.

Many of the anti e-book lobby state that there is something special about the tacttile quality of a book. I do agree with that to a degree but for a standard paperback fiction? No I'm not convinced. 

For the likes of guidebooks where you are constantly flipping all over the place I much prefer a book this may change and to be honest in years to come I suspect many books will be published electronically only, with physical books retaining a niche market.

I don't know that it will be the small independents that will struggle. I think they maybe they can offer a niche service, to me it's the chains that will really suffer.

And for those who object to the Kindle I've lost count of the number times when the exact book in a series I want is not in a bookshop. With the Kindle I log on and (assuming it's available as an e-book) and within seconds I'm reading.

If you go on holiday a kindle (other e-book readers are avaialble) means you have a lightweight way of transporting loads of books.

Curiously though when I go to Italy at the end of July my Kindle won't be going. I will be reading a Traveller in Italy by HV Morton in paperback. The book was written in 1964 and isn't available on the Kindle.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Ray Bradbury

June 5th 2012 marked the death of the American writer Ray Bradbury. Bradbury was often classified as a Science Fiction writer but in reality he was a fantasist who used some of the tropes of Science Fiction.

Bradbury started his career in the late 30's/early 40's. Virtually every Science Fiction writer of that period who amounted to anything was published by Astounding and its great editor John W Campbell Jr but with the exception of one or two stories Bradbury published in the minor leagues.

And yet as Isaac Asimov said once Bradbury was the non Campbell author who made it big. His books Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles are rightly famous. The Martian Chronicles about the colonization of Mars sounds perfect SF fodder but the Science was, even at the time, outdated and is poetic in comparison to the likes of Asimov, Clarke and Heinlein. Perhaps that is why Asimov described him as Science Fiction's apostle to the rest of the world.

Incidentally Bradbury disliked the internet and he had stopped his books appearing in e-book formats, curious to note that suddenly a slue of his books are about to appear for kindle.

I will admit to not having read a huge amount of Bradbury, I note that the two volume short fiction collection Stories is to be released for the kindle I may have to investigate further.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Youngsters

Where to today? Given the sun was shining and the forecast for tomorrow is not good I decided somewhere birdy.

I went to Amwell first. fairly quiet I thought many of the usual suspects.

This chap was trying to play the innocent...




Six Little Egrets sitting in a tree!

 
and so on that note off to Rye Meads. Again fairly quiet.



Lots of ducks and I saw some young Tufties and.....







As I strolled around to the Kingfisher hide there were 5 Kestrels sitting on the roof of the hide...




Although not playing ball camera wise a Garden Warbler gave decent views.

And ah!





Thursday, June 21, 2012

Alan Turing

This Saturday marks the 100th Anniversary of the birth of Dr Alan Turing.

For those who don't know Turing was a mathematician who was a pioneer in the development of Computer Science. Turing is perhaps, well not perhaps!, is best remembered for his work at Bletchley Park where he devised a number of techniques for the cracking of the German Enigma code.

The work done at Bletchley can not be underestimated it helped conveys safely across the North Atlantic , avoiding German U-Boats, contributed to several naval victories and according to General Claude Auchinleck without the work done at Bletchley Rommel would have reached Cairo.

Turing was, for a while head of Hut 8, responsible for analysing German Naval  intelligence so his role can not be understated. Indeed Winston Spencer Churchill said of Bletchley "it was the Goose that laid the Golden Egg but didn't cackle".

The man was, lets face it, a genius. Not only was in a leading pioneer in Computing, not only did he play a prominent role in the code breaking of German codes (saving thousands of lives) he also wrote a paper on the chemical basis of morphogenesis, and he predicted oscillating chemical reactions such as the Belousov–Zhabotinsky reaction, which were first observed in the 1960s.

Now you would think that Turing would have been a national hero? Well the work at Bletchley was kept secret so his war time role was not known to the general public to the 1970's I believe and Turing had a secret. Turing was a homosexual, and in 1952 homosexuality was illegal.

Now you MIGHT think that a grateful government might have said well look the bloke saved thousands of civilian and military lives (and some bloke called Winston Spencer Churchill reckons the work at Bletchley shorten the war by at least 2 if not 4 years) shall we just uhm ignore it? Did they hell, he was prosecuted.

Turing accepted treatment with female hormones (chemical castration) and in 1954, two weeks before his 42nd, he died of Cyanide poisoning.. An inquest ruled it as suicide although many believed it was an accident.

I don't hold with historic apolgees but something I think Gordon Brown got right was making a public apology on behalf of the British Government to how Turing was treated.

An internet poll in 2011 tried to get Turing a posthumous pardon, which was rejected by Lord McNally.


A posthumous pardon was not considered appropriate as Alan Turing was properly convicted of what at the time was a criminal offence. He would have known that his offence was against the law and that he would be prosecuted. It is tragic that Alan Turing was convicted of an offence which now seems both cruel and absurd—particularly poignant given his outstanding contribution to the war effort. However, the law at the time required a prosecution and, as such, long-standing policy has been to accept that such convictions took place and, rather than trying to alter the historical context and to put right what cannot be put right, ensure instead that we never again return to those times


I can sort of understand his point. But I'd hope that at the time that those in the know might have had a word.
If a grateful nation can give knighthoods to career civil servants, politicians, aging rock stars and lovey actors it would perhaps be a belated gesture to give one to a man who served his country, served it well and was shabbily treated.

These days every soldier is a hero, old soldiers wear their medals (rightly) with pride and a nation calls them heroes. I would hope that in 2012 this nation could recognise the impact of Turing, because many of us would not be here with out him.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Homeward Bound

Ah well all good things come to an end.

We set out at 8:30 enjoying the lovely scenery and watching it change as we moved out of  Snowdonia and then onto Shropshire.

Highlight was a Tawny Owl flying in front of the car!

Oh and you realise once you leave Shropshire how much traffic there is from then on!!

We stopped for lunch at Baddesley Clinton (the sandwich, Brie & Bacon was poor - bread was dry and the Brie ordinary - the cake, Iced Ginger, was quite nice though).

Didn't go into the house due to time but took a few photos outside.








Did this chap follow us from Wales?
















The adjacent church.