Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Radio Grumunkin

Those nice people at the Music Genome Project have allowed me to create Radio Grumunkin for your listening delecatation. Click on the link to hear streaming audio. This will be updated as the whim takes me...........

Hat tip to

About Pandora™
When was the last time you fell in love with a new artist or song?
At Pandora Media™ (formerly Savage Beast Technologies™), we have a single mission: To help you discover new music you'll love.
To understand just how we do this, and why we think we do it really, really well, you need to know about the
Music Genome Project™.
For almost six years now, we have been hard at work on the Music Genome Project. It's the most comprehensive analysis of music ever undertaken. Together our team of thirty musician-analysts have been listening to music, one song at a time, studying and collecting literally hundreds of musical details on every song. It takes 20-30 minutes per song to capture all of the little details that give each recording its magical sound - melody, harmony, instrumentation, rhythm, vocals, lyrics ... and more - close to 400 attributes! We continue this work every day to keep up with the incredible flow of great new music coming from studios, stadiums and garages around the country.
We've now created an interface to make this available to music lovers so they could use this musical 'connective-tissue' to discover new music based on songs or artists they already know.
Pandora™ is the doorway to this vast trove of musical information. With Pandora you can explore to your heart's content. Just drop the name of one of your favorite songs or artists into Pandora and let the Genome Project go. It will quickly scan its entire world of analyzed music, almost a century of popular recordings - new and old, well known and completely obscure - to find songs with interesting musical similarities to your choice. Then sit back and enjoy as it creates a listening experience full of current and soon-to-be favorite songs for you.
You can create as many "stations" as you want. And you can even refine them. If it's not quite right you can tell it more and it will get better for you.
The Music Genome Project was founded by musicians and music-lovers. We believe in the value of music and have a profound respect for those who create it. We like all kinds of music, from the most obtuse bebop, to the most tripped-out drum n bass, to the simplest catchy pop tune. Our mission is to help YOU connect with the music YOU like.
We hope you enjoy the experience!

The Music Genome Project

On January 6, 2000 a group of musicians and music-loving technologists came together with the idea of creating the most comprehensive analysis of music ever.
Together we set out to capture the essence of music at the most fundamental level. We ended up assembling literally hundreds of musical attributes or "genes" into a very large Music Genome. Taken together these genes capture the unique and magical musical identity of a song - everything from melody, harmony and rhythm, to instrumentation, orchestration, arrangement, lyrics, and of course the rich world of singing and vocal harmony. It's not about what a band looks like, or what genre they supposedly belong to, or about who buys their records - it's about what each individual song sounds like.
Over the past 5 years, we've carefully listened to the songs of over 10,000 different artists - ranging from popular to obscure - and analyzed the musical qualities of each song one attribute at a time. This work continues each and every day as we endeavor to include all the great new stuff coming out of studios, clubs and garages around the world.
It has been quite an adventure, you could say a little crazy - but now that we've created this extraordinary collection of music analysis, we think we can help be your guide as you explore your favorite parts of the music universe.
We hope you enjoy the journey.
Tim Westergren
The Music Genome Project

GG's latest antics

a corker from harry's place on George Galloway and an interview he gave to an Algerian Newspaper. Unbelieveable!

I quote:-

Galloway: MoToons "worse than the 11 September attacks in the US and the 7/7 incidents"

George Galloway has given a nice interview to El Khabar newspaper in Algeria. There is an English language extract from it here, but BBC Monitoring has produced a full translation of the article, which I've reproduced below.

If you can't be bothered to read all of it, here are the choice passages.

The MoToons:

Halimi: Mr Galloway! Let us deal with the core of the issue immediately. What is your personal position and that of your party towards the events and the demonstrations which have been taking place in the Muslim world against the publication of cartoons depicting the prophet?...

Galloway: Personally, I condemn these barbaric and evil acts. Today, the objective of the Western states is to control the oil of the Muslims whatever the price. In fact, the cartoons published in Denmark did not surprise me because the Western states have been waging fierce attacks against Islam for years. These began by humiliation, insults and then occupation. Today they reached the point of ridiculing the prophet. This incident is worse than the 11 September attacks in the US and the 7/7 incidents in London. Therefore, today it is the right of Muslims to express their anger and to defend their right and faith.

The future of RESPECT:

Halimi: Is it possible to tell us how the Respect party will perform in the next elections?

Galloway: [smiles and says in Arabic] Praise be to God. [Then in English] Our party will be very strong in these elections. The proof is the fact that I am an MP. In the near future, Respect will become one of the strongest political parties in Britain.

On his personal faith:
Halimi: Many people are wondering where you derive this strength with which you speak and defy the powerful. Is there a secret power behind you?

Galloway: [in Arabic] This strength comes from God.

Halimi: You constantly use nice Arabic words, in addition to your relations with Arabs and Muslims. Does that mean that you have converted to Islam but you cannot admit that publicly?

Galloway: [shaking his head] This issue is between me and God. This answer is directed at you, the Algerian journalist, and at everyone who asks me this question.

There is loads more larf-a-minute stuff in this vein from the Hero of 1.2 Billion Muslims in the full post.

Note From Mum

Dear reader,
Grumunkin won't be able to do his blogging this week, as he has a lot of revision to do for his GCSE Chemistry test on Friday. Please Excuse him from games .


Mrs Grumunkin (Snr.)

Monday, February 27, 2006

Wales slip to No. 7 in the World

Wales slipped to the 7th best rugby nation in the IRB World Rankings today, following our tupping by Ireland. Actually, it's pretty hard to disagree with these computer generated rankings, and it must make Scotland's win over The Old Enemy on Saturday even sweeter.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Adopt an egg

we have adopted an egg from pickle-green

Saturday, February 25, 2006

A play for voices

Kim, Hari and I, Went to see the West Glamorgan Youth Theatre perform Under Milk Wood at the taliesin arts centre tonight. I must admit that after a hesitant start, the show was a real hoot. Some of the scenes were fantastic and innovative, whilst others were just first rate.

Friday, February 24, 2006

That ain't no goat, that's my wife

thanks to the BBC for this story:-

Sudan man forced to 'marry' goat

A Sudanese man has been forced to take a goat as his "wife", after he was caught having sex with the animal.

The goat's owner, Mr Alifi, said he surprised the man with his goat and took him to a council of elders.
They ordered the man, Mr Tombe, to pay a dowry of 15,000 Sudanese dinars ($50) to Mr Alifi.
"We have given him the goat, and as far as we know they are still together," Mr Alifi said.

Mr Alifi, Hai Malakal in Upper Nile State, told the Juba Post newspaper that he heard a loud noise around midnight on 13 February and immediately rushed outside to find Mr Tombe with his goat.
"When I asked him: 'What are you doing there?', he fell off the back of the goat, so I captured and tied him up".

Mr Alifi then called elders to decide how to deal with the case.
"They said I should not take him to the police, but rather let him pay a dowry for my goat because he used it as his wife," Mr Alifi told the newspaper.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Cosmic piccies of Mexico City

I am a helicopter pilot and decided to share what I see from above, C.O. Ruiz

see more of these amazing photo's here

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Mumbles Lifeboat Station 4th Busiest in Wales

A news story on The BBC News Site today notes that our station is the 4th busiest in Wales! you can read more about the Mumbles Lifeboat here You can see some photo's I've taken of the boat, and the boathouse here

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


David H sent me a cool link yesterday, to postsecret. take a look.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Gareth Thomas goes from hero to zero........

Just in case you missed it, here is a link to the shameful display put on by our national rugby captain, on TV, this weekend.

Did Ruddock walk or was he pushed? You decide..............

(you will need real player, which you can download, free, to view the clip)

Sacred Band of Thebes

Q. Who were the hardest, toughest, meanest dudes in Ancient Greece?

A. 300 Gays from thebes. (according to Phil of Macedon, & his lad, Alex)

No jokes about hitting you with thier handbags, please, these guys really were the best.
read more

Memorial to the Sacred Band of Thebes at Chaeronea, marking the communal grave (πολυανδρειον / polyandreîon) in which they were buried. Philip II of Macedon erected the tribute to commemorate the bravery of the conquered batallion

Sunday, February 19, 2006

sharia bank

Google ad's has 'automatically context search added' an advert for Sharia Compliant loans to my site.
This opens up the fascinating factoid that devout muslims are forbidden to pay interest on loans.
How on earth can you manage without such a facility?

go to the Islamic Bank to find out.

this page demonstrates how it's done, by buying and selling 'commodities'.

interesting stuff.

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Who were the Shakers

I came across an interesting article in the New Yorker this week. Basically an explaination of how Shaker Art & Crafts developed, the article also investigates the fascinating story of how the Shakers began.

'The Shakers’ early inheritance is English, and began with a strange visionary figure, Ann Lee, born on Leap Day in 1736. She was a woman who, in her lifetime, travelled, so to speak, from the world of E. P. Thompson to the world of William James—from a povertystricken and embattled sectarian North of England millennial religion to the new world of American self-made faith'

read more

Friday, February 17, 2006

Gweilch Tawe-Nedd

Went to see The Ospreys tonight, at the new Liberty stadium, in Swansea, with Bill and Don. It was a first for all three of us.

I must admit that the venue is fantastic, if the quality of rugby was not.

In a game described as 'stodgy', by planet-rugby.com, the only thing to shine was the reflection of the floodlights on Gavin Henson's permatanned thighs.

Actually, our Gav did stand out head and shoulders above the other players, he seemed to create space and have time, in a crowded and frantic match.

I suppose I must be a henson groupie, now........

Thursday, February 16, 2006

The European and North American Expensive Sports Festival

Saw a good article in the Washington Post the other day, which kind of sums up my unease and disinterest in the winter olympics. Even as a keen Snowboarder in the past, I have often wondered why these games failed to spark up my enthusiasm.

Where the Rich and Elite Meet to Compete

By Paul Farhi

Sunday, February 5, 2006; Page B01
Never mind the usual puffery about what this month's Winter Olympics are all about. Sure, there's the beauty of sports, the spirit of friendly competition, the dedication of great athletes and all that. But the Winter Games are about a few other things as well: elitism, exclusion and the triumph of the world's sporting haves over its have nots.

What the Winter Games are not is a truly international sporting competition that brings the best of the world together to compete, as the promotional blather would have you believe. Unlike the widely attended Summer Olympics, the winter version is almost exclusively the preserve of a narrow, generally wealthy, predominantly Caucasian collection of athletes and nations. In fact, I'd suggest that the name of the Winter Games, which start Friday, be changed. They could be more accurately branded "The European and North American Expensive Sports Festival."

you can read on

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

What happened to Reginald Molehusband?

the BBC has reminded me of a classic public information film, which has unfortunately, gone missing. They describe it as:-

"A classic of its genre, and quoted even today by people who fondly remember it, it featured a character called Reginald Molehusband.
He was a driver in an Austin 1100 who could not park his car properly. His name became shorthand for anyone whose driving skills were not up-to-scratch "

Often, when our family witness a crap piece of reverse parking, or even a good bit, someone will exclaim "well done Reginald Molehusband!" either sarcastically, or as praise.
It's amazing how a phrase from a short PIF from the seventies (?) has entered into our family vocabulary. We even explained it to Dylan the other day, so perhaps it will live on for another generation at least.

The script went :-

"This is the story of Reginald Molehusband, married, two children, whose reverse parking was a public danger (brakes and gears crunching).
People came from miles just to see it.
Bets were laid on his performance.
What he managed to miss at the back, he was sure to make up for at the front.
Bus drivers and taxis changed their routes to avoid him.
Until the day that Reginald Molehusband did it right (sound of reversing).
Not too close, far enough forward... come on Reginald... and reverse in slowly, watching traffic... (applause from watching crowd) and park perfectly!
Well done! Reginald Molehusband, the safest parker in town. "

Well done Reginald molehusband!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Stuff and Nonsense makes page one of a google!

Woooo! more fame! (or infamy?):- Google Search. We are up there with BBC & CNN! Blogging is really changing the way news travels the globe. (page copy below just in case the link dies/changes)

Danish cartoons inflame islamic nations - Politics at ATS ...Discusion about Danish cartoons inflame islamic nations in the Above Top Secret... Islamic groups are also saying that now its Denmarks turn to feel 'the ...politics.abovetopsecret.com/thread193122/pg1 - 59k - Cached - Similar pages

Dispatch Online - Your premier Eastern Cape news siteMuslim groups threaten European offices, churches. Mohammed cartoons inflameMideast. THE rising tide of anger in the Middle East over the publication of ...www.dispatch.co.za/2006/02/03/Foreign/amusl.html - 11k - Cached - Similar pages

CNN.com - Cartoon row: Danish embassy ablaze - Feb 4, 2006A leader of the Islamic militant Hamas group, which recently swept Palestinianparliamentary elections, told an Italian ... Cartoon protests turn deadly ...www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/02/04/syria.cartoon.ap/ - 51k - Cached - Similar pages

Danish Imams Propose to End Cartoon Dispute The Brussels JournalSome cartoons in a Danish newspaper that showed Islam's founder Mohammed as a... Radical Muslim groups are turning up the heat in the cartoon war by using ...www.brusselsjournal.com/node/698 - 54k - Cached - Similar pages

Islamic Protests Over Muhammad Cartoons Create Uncertainty for ...Islamic Protests Over Muhammad Cartoons Create Uncertainty for Travelers. ...The current crisis has also served to inflame historic communal violence ...goasia.about.com/od/countriesaz/a/cartoons.htm - 30k - Cached - Similar pages

Leaders seek to calm Muslim fury - Europe - International Herald ...McClellan, the spokesman, urged people who criticize the cartoons to "speak out... may inflame relations between Christian, secular and Islamic Europeans. ...www.iht.com/articles/2006/02/06/news/islam.php - 37k - Cached - Similar pages

BBC NEWS World Europe Viewpoints: Cartoon rowSayeed Nadeem Kazmi, Al-Khoei Foundation, an Islamic charitable group in London... It can only inflame matters at this very crucial juncture of our mutual ...news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4676632.stm - 51k - Cached - Similar pages

IRIS BlogIslamic Group Posts Anti-Jew Cartoons ... Israel's pre-election excuse for notseriously retaliating was not wanting to inflame the elections. What now? ...www.iris.org.il/blog/ - 101k - Cached - Similar pages

stuff and nonsense!: Danes publish cartoons of MohammedHamas, the militant Islamic group which won Palestinian elections last week,urged Islamic ... You can view the cartoons here." Food for thought, eh? ...grumunkin.blogspot.com/2006/ 01/danes-publish-cartoons-of-mohammed.html - 19k - Cached - Similar pages

AsiaMedia :: NEW ZEALAND: Cartoon rage spreads to New Zealand"'It will inflame feelings among Muslims in Australia, and we don't want any ...The protest quickly degenerated into violence when groups of Islamic ...www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/ article-pacificislands.asp?parentid=38483 - 21k - Cached - Similar pages
Try your search again on
Google Book Search

The spread of Avian Flu H5N1 (2)

following the news that wild migratory birds have carried the virus to Greece & Bulgaria, I found this spread graphic on the BBC. there is also an in depth section here.

Monday, February 13, 2006

The spread of Avian Flu H5N1

Avian flu has now spread to Africa, and Azerbaijan.

From Wikipedia, (again)

"Officials in Azerbaijan say H5N1 virus has been identified in wild birds floating dead in the Caspian Sea near Baku [35]. "

"Four new farms in Nigeria are confirmed to have H5N1 outbreaks: two in Kano State, one in Plateau State and a second farm in Kaduna State. "

worrying stuff. On a positive note, there still seems to be no sign of migration to humans, and the death toll so far, whilst terrible, is still very small.

Cases:- 165
Deaths:- 88
Rate:- 53.3%
World Health Organization (WHO) :Communicable Disease Surveillance & Response (CSR).

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Patagonia & re-cycling

Some while ago, I read an article about how the clothing company, Patagonia, used fleece made from re-cycled poly bottles in its clothing.

"In 1993, we adopted fleece into our product line made from post consumer recycled plastic soda bottles. We were the first outdoor clothing manufacturer to do so. PCR® clothing was a positive step towards a more sustainable system – one that uses fewer resources, discards less and better protects people’s health. Today, we use PCR fleece in about 31 products, and we’ve saved some 86 million soda bottles from the trash heap. That’s enough oil to fill the 40-gallon gas tank of the diminutive Chevy Suburban 20,000 times. "

You can read more, on the patagonia site. Well done them!

But what can we do to help? According to Patagonia, :-

We encourage you to do your part to help the environment by buying only what is needed, wearing it out or passing it on to charities for redistribution.

Well done us, then!

New Tomb found in the Valley Of The Kings

from wiki:-

8 February 2006, the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities announced the discovery of a previously unknown and intact tomb in the Valley of the Kings. The tomb – which, following conventions, will receive the designation KV63 – is the first new tomb to be revealed in the Valley since the discovery of KV62, the tomb of Tutankhamun, by Howard Carter in 1922. "

this gives me the opportunity to blog a link to the fascinating
theban mapping project website, which was one of the first sites I discovered whilst exploring the internet for the first time on a modern computer and using a modern browser. Before this, the internet was a green & blak place, inhabited by geeks and newsgroups.

The stuff on KV5 is particularly fascinating.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Video of abu hamza on BBC website

There is a cracking video on today's BBC website, showing Abu Hamza in action. http://news.bbc.co.uk/ there is also a link to the BBC interview with tim sabastian for the programme, Hardtalk in 2003. you need to click on "BBC NEWS : VIDEO AND AUDIO", then click on Abu Hamza, to see all the video clips.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Abu Hamza al-Masri (أبو حمزة المصري)

The wikipedia entry for Abu_Hamza makes interesting reading, since his conviction hit the headlines last week. full title, Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Masri (أبو حمزة المصري)

In sentencing, Mr Justice Hughes said Hamza had "helped to create an atmosphere in which to kill has become regarded by some as not only a legitimate course but a moral and religious duty in pursuit of perceived justice".

some Quotes:-

Abu Hamza has claimed that the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster was a sign from God. He said:
"These missions would increase the number of satellites for military purposes. It would increase the slavery of governance of other countries by
America. It is a punishment from God. Muslims see it that way. It is a trinity of evil because it carried Americans, an Israeli and a Hindu, a trinity of evil against Islam. The fact that the motor of the craft fell on Palestine [a town in Texas] – all these are messages from God. It is a strong message, for the Israeli, to be taken up there to space and he spoke about the Holocaust, to try to make religious advancement from it and gain some moral high ground, hence you have seen this message over Palestine."

"Killing of the Kaffir for any reason you can say it is OK, even if there is no reason for it." He called on his followers to poison, ambush and kill non-believers and added: "You must have a stand with your heart, with your tongue, with your money, with your hand, with your sword, with your Kalashnikov. Don't ask shall I do this, just do it." [11].

Of licensors for alcohol sellers he said: "Make sure that the person who gave him the licence for that wine shop doesn't exist any more on the Earth. Finish him up. Give him dawa (inviting non-Muslims to accept the truth of Islam). If he doesn't respect dawa, kill him." [12]

He suggested people called it suicide to put others off it. "It is not called suicide - this is called shahada, martyring, because if the only way to hurt the enemies of Islam except by taking your life for that, then it is allowed.", adding "The person who hinders Allah's rule, this man must be eliminated"

In January 2006 while on trial, he accused the Jewish people of being "blasphemous, treacherous and dirty" and explained that this was "why Hitler was sent into the world". He also called for "a world dominated by a caliph, sitting in the White House" [13] . Whilst under cross-examination Hamza claimed the Jews control the Foreign Office, the media and the money supply in Britain and the USA.[14]

Thursday, February 09, 2006

We are all Danes now!

Whilst surfing t'internet, I came across this excellent article published by the Boston Globe.

It outlines what Chris and I have been thinking/feeling since this whole Mohammed carton debacle came about.

The editorial piece begins with a spoof news article about Hindus reacting badly to a Danish supermarket running a special on beef and veal. This quite clearly would never really happen - and why? Because Hindus, like Christians, Buddhists, Jews and almost every other religion you can name lean toward tolerance and moderation.

Up until now I have not been aware of exactly why the Danish paper, Jyllands-Posten, ran the cartoons in the first place:

"Jyllands Posten, Denmark's largest daily, commissioned the cartoons to make a point about freedom of speech. It was protesting the climate of intimidation that had made it impossible for a Danish author to find an illustrator for his children's book about Mohammed. No artist would agree to illustrate the book for fear of being harmed by Muslim extremists. Appalled by this self-censorship, Jyllands-Posten invited Danish artists to submit drawings of Mohammed, and published the 12 it received."

This kind of atmosphere must seriously worry more moderate Muslims, of which I sincerely hope there are many. At least some were brave enough to appeal for sense:

"Here and there, some brave Muslim voices have cried out against the book-burners. The Jordanian newspaper Shihan published three of the cartoons. ''Muslims of the world, be reasonable," implored Shihan's editor, Jihad al-Momani, in an editorial. ''What brings more prejudice against Islam -- these caricatures or pictures of a hostage-taker slashing the throat of his victim in front of the cameras?" But within hours Momani was out of a job, fired by the paper's owners after the Jordanian government threatened legal action."

I am struggling with the decision by the (usually so outspoken) British press to not publish any of the cartoons. On one hand doing something so flagrantly inflammatory as re-printing them would seem rather foolhardy - whilst the other, more democratic, part of me says 'publish and be dammed'!

I also agree with the sentiments of the author, Jeff Jacoby, that this will not go away. To coin a phrase - "I have a bad feeling about this........."

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

And the choice from the Wesh Born Icon Jury is.........

Nick's book club selection

eclectic as ever.....

and for a taste of what's to come, click

you can also buy the book from amazon, by clicking the button on the picture (& nick gets a percentage!)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

there ain't no such thing as a free lunch

I have great fun trying to hunt out the scam in those offers like "you've won £xxxx, a free holiday, a car or a caribou" this one, free ipods took a little more time than usual. It seems that YES, you can have a free ipod, if, and I quote from some deeply hidden small print :-

"After a user signs up with our website and successfully completes an offer, they must get 10 people to also sign up with our website and successfully complete an offer to get their free item."

Don't think I'll be doing that, then........

Monday, February 06, 2006

el grupo libros

Next set books are:-

rjm Brideshead Revisited - Evely Waugh
dsa The Discovery of Slowness - Sten Nadolny
cdh Birds without wings - Louis de Bernieres

I await nick's recommendation with eager anticipation.........

Sunday, February 05, 2006

In the interests of balance..........

Got sent a Google Video today, which neatly answers the question " how would we feel about someone poking fun at our religous icons?"

check it out.........

top films

the last few posts reminded me that rob suggested doing likewise with films. To my knowledge, I am the only one of the possie to compile a list of films yet. these are:-

here are my fave films, AND IN ORDER!
(smartarse that I am)
top 10
Apocalypse Now
the jerk
The Lord of the Rings
Star Wars
Shichinin no samurai
Pulp Fiction
Donnie Darko
The Sixth Sense
All Quiet on the Western Front

also rans

The Shawshank Redemption
The Graduate
Reservoir Dogs
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
Raiders of the Lost Ark
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Taxi Driver
buena vista social club
A Clockwork Orange
the life of brian
High Noon
Blade Runner
Das Boot
The Deer Hunter
Young Frankenstein
Kind Hearts and Coronets
This Is Spinal Tap

Saturday, February 04, 2006

top 10 books

Thinking back to the genesis of the grupo libros, I seem to remember it all started by us sharing our top ten books. these were:-



Lord of the rings - JRR Tolkien
Magician - guess who
pillars of the earth - Ken follett
captain corelli's mandolin - Louis de berniers
Fear & loathing in las vegas - Hunter s thompson
perfume - Patrick suskind
his dark materials trilogy - Phillip Pullman
the wasp factory - Iain Banks
the histories - Heroditus
breakfast of champions - Kurt Vonnegut Jnr.


at swim-two-birds
winnie The pooh
the ragged trousered philanthropists
the snow leopard
clan of the cave bear
lake wobegon days


the amazing adventures of cavalier & clay
the good soldier svejk
the metamorphosis & collected short stories
the hitchhikers guide to the galaxy
the grapes of wrath
the god of small things
on broadway
i claudius
Ali & nino
the life of Pi


Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas - still the single funniest book I have ever read
Wuthering Heights - Emily Bronte - favourite all time novel
Dubliners - James Joyce -sublime and haunting.
The Secret history - Donna Tart Unputdownable
The Great Gatsby -Scott Fitzgerald
Heart of Darkness - Conrad - second favourite novel
The Caine Mutiny -Herman Wouk - fabulous - I want to remake the film
Dune - Frank Herbert - Loved it - one of the best SciFi books ever. It has everything. Read it in Goa on miles of sand. Wow
The Naked and the Dead - Norman Mailor - Yup
Creation - Gore Vidal Not a book I would have picked off the shelf. Rather a direction from the Anthony Burgess top 100 novels
His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman - The first book is marvellous - the 3rd book less so but its still breathtaking. Should have won the BBc top novel. And No LOTR isn't here. I've read it 4 times but the film highlights the books flaws. It should be here but even I'm fed up with it winning everything
The French Leiutenats Woman - John Fowles - It was between this or the Maggot
Love & War in the Apenines Eric Newby - not strictly a novel but may as well be. Got it from Radio 4 a good read. Can't think I'd ever have picked it up otherwise
Hawksmoor - Peter Ackroyd - Like all the best books I've been back to reread it again and again.
The Stand - Stephen King - this could have been a biblically fantastic book. It is a fantastic book.
The Cornish Trilogy - Robertson Davies - 3 novels - I confess to not having read the third but I loved it. Unpreposessing
Woman in White - Wilkie Collins - There is just something about this book.
Artemis Fowl - A little to close to Terry Pratchet but an absolute romp. Come to think of it the first 5 Pratchett books were excellent
To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee Only read it last year. Its beautiful
New Confessions - William Boyd
Despatches - Michael Herr - God I love this book - not really a novel but my 3rd fave

And also rans...................

A Prayer for Owen Meany - John Irving
Bridehead Revisited - Evely Waugh
The Cruel Sea - Nicholas Monserrat "Snorkers Old Boy!"
Love in the time of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez - infuriating that it takes 150 pages to go anywhere but haunting and elegaic
Rendevous with Rama - Arthur C Clarke - David you'd hate this one. its SciFi - nothing happens but its wonderful
Diary of a Madman - Gogol
Diary of a country Doctor -Mikail Bulgakov


Crime and Punishment - Dostoevsky
The Iron Dream - Norman Spinrad
Kim - Kipling
The Happy Prince - Wilde
Paingod - Harlan Ellison
Neuromancer - William Gibson
White Teeth - Zadie Smith
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas - Hunter Thompson
Kitchen Confidential - Anthony Bourdain
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Conan Doyle
The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test - Tom Wolfe
Maus - Art Spiegelman
Schinder's Ark - Thomas Keneally
My Last Breath - Luis Bunuel
Alexander the Great - Robin Lane Fox
Into the Heart of Borneo - Redmond O'Hanlon
From the Holy Mountain - William Dalrymple
The Code of the Woosters - P G Wodehouse
My American Century - Studs Terkel
To Be or Not to Bop - Dizzy Gillespie


The great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
A secret History - Donna Tarte
Fugitive pieces - Ann Michaels. Not a cheerful book but beautifully written- Starting in Holocaust Poland and following on to life afterwards in Canada.
Gone with the wind - Margaret Mitchell - great story and great characters set against the American Civil war.
Anna Karenina - Tolstoy
Songlines - Bruce Chatwin. part story of the Aboriginal life and philosophy and part exploration into the nomadic nature of the human condition - sounds heavy and
it is in places but no the less fascinating.
Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
Moon and Sixpence - Somerset Maughan - Boy with slight disability and his journey through life. Not as depressing as it sounds
Wild Swans - Jung Chang
New confessions - William Boyd
Daniel Martin - John Fowles. I too was spoilt for choice with Fowles.
Lord of the rings - Tolkein - First time a film has nearly lived up to the book as well.
To kill a mocking bird - Harper Lee - only book that I have read twice.
Brother of the more famous Jack - Barbara Trapido - gentle observed humour. I must read it again to remind myself of how good it was.
Day in the life of Ivan Denisovich - Solgenitzen - I know the spelling is wrong but I couldn't find the book. As it says on the tin this is the life in a day of a man in a Soviet Gulag.
For whom the bell tolls - Hemmingway. Life though the Spanish civil war - I could also have chosen The old man and the sea but this one has more body to it.
Hotel New Hampshire - John Irving - Very funny and black at times. not as weird as he gets later so about at the limit of my tolerance for strange.
The Passion - Jeanette Winterson - Magical/strange tale set in Venice and I think in the 16th century.
The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists - Robert Tressel
Sons and Lovers - DH. Lawrence - Partly because I studied it for A level and partly because I liked Lawrence when I was more impressionable.
God - this was a hard thing to do as I sure I've forgotten loads and given others undo weight because of the impact they had on me - which is after all what is important.

Not quite making the cut were
The woman in white - Wilkie Collins
1984 - George Orwell.
Stone diaries - Carol Shields (her latest and last book is very good "unless")
Frankie and Stankie" by Barbara Trapido
"Astonishing splashes of colour" by Clare Morrall
oryx & crake by Margaret Atwood
eating wolves by Alexis Scott

Friday, February 03, 2006

El Groupo Libros

Tonight, I plan to meet Rob and Dave in the Dandy Lion, Bradford on Avon , for another of our books and beer evenings.

A while ago, we hit upon the idea of each choosing a book, and then the others reading it, and then discussing it in a pub when we next meet. Due to Rob being a tart, and practically unbookable, this meeting has been long in the planning, but we have eventually got there. Unfortunately, Nick can't make it, as he is moving home this weekend, (and there is the small matter of a
game of rugger being played on his turf on saturday, @ HQ).

The books for this session (?) are:-

Chris The Blind Man Of Seville
David The Road Less Travelled
Rob Northern Lights

Should be a good one.

books from previous meetings have been:-

rjm - servants of the people - andrew rawnsley
dsa The Curious Incident of the dog in night time
cdh no1 ladies detective agency

rjm Birthday Boys - beryl bainbridge
cdh clan of the cave bear - jean m auel
dsa Family Matters - Rhohinter Mistry

dsa 5 people you meet in heaven - mitch albom
cdh the da vinci code - dan browne
rjm master & commander - patrick o brian

Nick was inducted into the club late, and kindly bought copies of Deadwater, by his mate Shaun Burke for the rest of us.

Cartoons of Mohammed (5)

from Clive Davis again,

"The group blog 'Aqoul, which certainly has
no truck with Islamophobia, runs this response to the Danish affair:

"In Iraq, thousands denounced the caricatures during Friday prayers."

What an excellent use of Friday prayers. Obviously the disrespect of some Danish cheese merchants are the most burning question for your worshippers. Not, say, the looming civil war or their coreligionists blowing up other factions of the same. No, some silly drawings (which I grant were offensive, but they're bloody little cartoons with some stupid little Danish paper) done thousands of miles away, and months ago, are obviously of graver danger "

Cartoons of Mohammed (4)

Nice post re the cartoon furore today on civitas. I shall quote it verbatim & let you decide:-

Reflections, but Certainly Not Genuflections, On The Latest Desert Storm in a Turban
‘Muslims up in arms over all over the world at irreverent Danish newspaper cartoons of Mohammed’, ‘Death threats received by Danish and Norwegian newspapers for publishing cartoons of the Prophet', ’ ‘Middle eastern Muslim countries boycott Danish goods’, ‘Armed Fatah militia surround EU offices in Gaza after EU defends Danish Prime Minister for refusing to condemn or prosecute editor of Danish newspaper’ etc, etc, scream newspaper headlines around the world.

These headlines or words to their effect report the latest twists and turns in the long-running and still on-going saga of the widespread outrage to have been provoked within the Muslim world by the publication of irreverent cartoons of Mohammed in a Danish newspaper last September and since by other European newspapers.

Time was when I would have been appalled by how out of all proportion to the scale of its ostensible cause was this latest outburst of Muslim outrage and indignation. But if there is such a thing as jihad-fatigue, I am beginning to suffer from it.

By this I do not mean to imply that the death threats and boycott threats should not be taken seriously by those at whom they have been directed as well as by the authorities whose job it is to protect those who have received such threats. I mean that it has become all to sickeningly clear that the numerous Muslims throughout the world who have responded so disproportionately to this latest perceived failure by non-Muslims to extend to their religion the deference they consider it due are no longer worth being taken seriously, intellectually or morally.

The disproportion of their sound and furry to what they claim has been its cause reveals there is simply no other way in which to respond to them, save to say:

‘Look, brother! I don’t give a damn that you may claim to be feeling as outraged as if someone had issued the gravest personal insult about your parents. Mohammed was not your parent. Nor can the cartoons of him you claim to find so offensive be remotely be thought to be ‘dissing’ him. By showing an exploding bomb on his head, all the cartoon was alluding to was the fact that the religion he founded was particularly conducive, whether by accident or design, to militancy. This is something that your reaction of outrage to the cartoon of him rather confirms.

‘You claim it is offensive to Muslims even to depict the prophet. This is untrue or at least it is by no means true of all Muslims. Hundreds of drawings and paintings of the prophet have been made, copied ,and displayed in the Muslim world for centuries before without having triggered this reaction. Some are in Mecca to this day.

‘If it is not the representation of the prophet as such but the irreverence of the manner in which they depict him, all one can say is: you are over-reacting. To compare, as some of those who have reacted like you have done, the publication of these cartoons to a decision by that or another paper to fill a page with Swastikas, given what that was a symbol of during that ghastly recent period in European history, is to fail to distinguish between making a serious critical point about a religion, albeit in an intentionally humorous fashion, and incitement of hatred towards, and ultmately to the systematic murder of, an entire people on account of their race.’

But I fear that even to offer such a reply is already to dignify the Muslim outrage by extending to more respect than it deserves.

The clash of civilisations between the Muslim and non-Muslim world shows every sign of having intensified of late, what with the latest posturings and brinkmanship of the Iranian president, the victory of Hamas in the recent Palestinian elections, and now the flag stamping and other rantings of the zealots with which we have become sadly all too familiar of late.

Mercifully, by no means all Muslims are as petulantly intolerant as those of their brothers who have kicked up this latest storm in a turban. Mona Eltahawy has very sensible things to say about the subject as a Muslim in her comment 'For many Muslims, cartoonish excess', published in an issue last week of the Lebanese-based paper, ‘The Daily Star’.

Likewise, Hamid Karzai is reported as having responded to the cartoons with similar restraint and moderation. He is quoted as having said of their publication: ‘Prime Minister Rasmussen explained Denmark’s position on that which was very satisfactory to me as a Muslim’.

People who go throwing their weight about to demand respect from others are, typically, people deserving of very little of it. When Muslims are able to shrug their shoulders at the publication of irreverent cartoons of their prophet will be the day their publication will have ceased to serve any useful function … or to be funny. Until that day comes, they do and are.

Posted by David Conway at February 2, 2006 04:18 PM

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Danish cartoons (3)

I have been struggling with the rights & wrongs of the Danes publishing cartoons which they could have guessed would inflame moslem sensibilities, versus freedom of expression in the media. (you have probably noticed :D).

I have just had an email from
nick giving me a link to an article from tom gross media, which shows some recent cartoons published in the arab press. I have published the link in the interests of balance.

It seems to me that you cannot publish stuff like this at home, and then condemn publication of things you don't like in other countries. this is patently hypocritical.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

danish cartoons cont............

More on the danish cartoons. the BBC published the news that more european papers had printed these cartoons to "support" the principles of freedom of speech.

"Muhammad cartoon row intensifies

Some of the cartoons depict the Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist

Newspapers across Europe have reprinted caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to show support for a Danish paper whose cartoons have sparked Muslim outrage.
Seven publications in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain all carried some of the drawings. "

However, it seems that the editor of the french paper that published, has been sacked.
BBC again

"French editor fired over cartoons

The editor of a French newspaper that printed cartoons of Prophet Muhammad has been sacked for offending Muslims.

Jacques Lefranc was dismissed by the owner of France Soir, as his paper became embroiled in a developing row between Muslims and European press. "


I, for one, was delighted with the defeat of the Religious hatred law today. To me, it shows that we have a functioning democracy.

Any state where all laws are rubber stamped by the legislature as a matter of course, stinks. Please, lets have more commons defeats, more lords overturning. this has to be better for us, freedom and democracy.

I have always felt that a flaw in our political system is that we effectively have one party dictatorship, when one party has a majority, & can push through any legislation that it fancies. Nowhere was this more clear than when we had 18 years of tory/thatcherism.

what would seem better to me is if political parties were banned, and all MP's were free to vote for the good of thier constituents.

How we would then plan for a programme of legislation, or how we would know who to vote for woul have to be radically altered. Perhaps this would be a price worth paying. I'll try to articulate this better in the future....

in the style of..........

thought i'd send a post to GLC web, maggot's in the house just to see if I could do a parody of a parody. gess what, they published it! You knows it!
the text reads:-

You Knows it! Clart!
Ace news havin Maggot in da House!
Even tho we's from Swansea & are Jacks 'n that, we still think you are Safe as f*ck!
give it large, & wup their c list asses!

Swansea Glc supporters