“Over the hills and far away”

I’m sure many readers are familiar with Bernard Cornwell‘s ‘Sharpe‘ novels, and the TV series made from them. For the TV series, musician John Tams played the role of Daniel Hagman, one of Sharpe’s ‘Chosen Men‘.  He also adapted an old English folk tune into a Peninsular War-era soldier song, which was used as the theme song for the entire series.  I’m well schooled in English folk music, and I thought he did an excellent job.  Here he is singing it. (For details of the images used in the video, see its page on YouTube.) Peter

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A major change in the US employment model?

More and more businesses are reported to be adjusting the hours of work of their employees, converting as many as possible from full-time status (i.e. up to 40 hours or more of work per week) to part-time (i.e. less than 30 hours of work per week).  This is thanks to a provision of Obamacare that takes effect next year, which will require companies with 50 or more full-time employees to purchase medical insurance – or pay a fine for not doing so – for every one of them.  Needless to say, it’s a lot less expensive for companies to simply

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Saving money at the expense of security

Two high-profile cases have recently illustrated how many companies are implementing high-tech solutions to their operations without paying any attention to the security risks involved. It’s emerged that a single key controls access to most gas pumps across California (and probably the rest of the country as well).  If thieves can obtain a copy (as they already have), it allows them easy access to the machines to install ‘skimming’ devices to read customers’ credit card information. A major supplier of locks to the hotel industry has done little or nothing to prevent a widely publicized hacking device from being used

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Moral courage of a rare order

I was very impressed to read of the moral courage and generosity displayed by two rape victims in order to prevent a miscarriage of justice.  The Telegraph reports: It was a court scene unlike any other. As a 47-year-old painter and decorator accused of two separate and brutal rapes waited to face his alleged victims in a humid Barbados courtroom, he was anxious – but not for the obvious reason. A small crowd of local lawyers and observers had gathered at Holetown Magistrates Court in the parish of St James, a squat, one-storey building with peeling beige and white paintwork,

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Pictures of the day

One of the features I most enjoy about the Telegraph in London is its ‘Pictures Of The Day‘ section.  Each day it puts up a couple of dozen photographs submitted during the past 24 hours.  Some of them can be quite spectacular. Today’s edition is no exception.  Here are just three of the pictures included in it, to whet your appetite, along with the captions provided. A great white shark leaps out of the water clutching a decoy seal in its jaws. The picture of the shark hovering in mid-air above the water was taken by Dana Allen in False

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Music, memories and tears

Over supper tonight I mentioned casually to Miss D. that I’d been looking for years for a copy of Penny Croft’s song ‘Count The Red Cars’.  Her first (self-titled) album was released in 1977, and that song from it became something of a hit in South Africa. It was once a very important song to me, because it was a favorite of my friend Flynn.  I wrote about him a couple of years ago, and of his tragic death in combat.  I remember how he used to play a worn cassette tape of that song, over and over, singing along

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Doofus Of The Day #664

Today’s winner is from Lynn, Massachusetts. “The brakes to [Reynolds’] pickup truck failed on the decline of the roadway just before the entrance to Mack Park,” one of the responding officers wrote in the log. “As a result he opened his drivers door and put his left foot out trying to stop his truck.” When that didn’t work, Reynolds reportedly attempted to turn his truck up a hill to the right side of the road, but police say it caused him to fall out of his open door. The truck drove over his left leg, rolled further down the street

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Don’t tell Brigid about this!

I’m afraid if the author of Home On The Range (whose writing reveals a severe bacon addiction) finds out about this, who knows the lengths to which she might go? For $14.99, you can purchase a limited-edition can of what creator J&D’s Foods suggests “is best used after a hot shower or before an important date with someone you may want to spend the rest of your life with.” Still, covering your face in bacon-scented shaving cream does pose its share of risks. The self-described “Bacontrepreneurs” at J&D’s offer a fair warning to anyone using their new shaving cream: “Prepare

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Welcome to the worst of the Third World

I’ve frequently tried to describe to my American friends what it’s like to visit the really run-down, seedy parts of the Third World.  Many of them accuse me of making up my descriptions, because “nothing could be that bad!”  Others simply can’t visualize it, and admit that. I came across this article at Outback Medicine the other day, which gives ample warning to Americans visiting Haiti what they’re likely to find there.  I can attest from lengthy and bitter personal experience that precisely the same conditions (sometimes even worse) may also be found in other Third World hell-holes.  At any

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