Saturday Snippet: a fake nun in the Army in Northern Ireland

The late Australian author Russell Braddon was one of the most extraordinary writers to emerge from World War II.  His prolific output includes “The Naked Island“, his world-famous and best-selling account of his experiences as a prisoner of war under the Japanese;  “Cheshire VC“, a study of the wartime career and post-war conversion of one of the top bomber pilots during the war (who is currently being investigated, along with his wife, for possible canonization as a saint by the Catholic Church);  “Nancy Wake: World War Two’s Most Rebellious Spy“, a true account of an extraordinary woman and her exploits with the French Resistance; 

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Sunday morning music

A discussion with another writer brought today’s topic to mind.  She told me she selects background music with specific reference to the genre in which she’s writing.  For example, if she’s writing fantasy, she’ll play music from a movie in that genre, or general music that focuses on that sort of theme.  She’ll even tailor the music to suit the specific scene (so that, say, a battle scene will involve fairly martial, warrior-type music, perhaps from Scandinavian thrash metal groups).  I don’t take it that far, but I realized that I do pick music to write to so that the former “fits”

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If you’ve got more money than sense . .

and you enjoy the John Wick movie franchise, Big Daddy Unlimited has a deal for you.  It calls this “The Continental Safe BDU“, and it contains an example of what appears to be every gun used by the main character in those movies so far.  (Click the image for a larger view.) It even contains a hidden bar, if you’re inclined to mix alcohol and firearms (never a good idea!).  All this can be yours for a mere $100,000 . . . and, what’s more, they’re only planning to build ten of them (if they can find that many suckers who

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In Memoriam: Kirk Douglas

One of the giants of the cinema screen has left us.  Kirk Douglas died yesterday at the age of 103. If you don’t know much about him, you can read his potted biography on Wikipedia.  I highly recommend his first book and autobiography, “The Ragman’s Son“.  It’s from the 1980’s, and therefore leaves out the last three decades of his life (and was superseded by later accounts), but in my opinion it’s his best work. His movies were a source of enjoyment and inspiration to millions.  I’ll never forget such classics as “Spartacus“, “The Vikings” and other early works.  He towered above

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Should we treat pornography like an epidemic? A growing body of evidence suggests that’s what it is.

A very long and detailed article titled “A Science-Based Case for Ending the Porn Epidemic” examines what pornography has done to our society, particularly since the rise of the Internet.  It makes a strong case that pornography is a public health crisis, not just an issue of morality. I’ve included a few brief excerpts from the article here, but it’s far longer and more detailed than I can summarize in a blog article such as this.  I urge you to click through and read the whole thing for yourself.  I’m sure some of my readers will disagree with its conclusions; 

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One perfect day in Sarajevo

In the light of my comments earlier today about the Superbowl halftime show, and as a counterpoint to the blatantly in-your-face sexuality on display there, here’s one of my happiest fan memories.  It’s the finals of the Winter Olympics figure skating competition in Sarajevo in 1984.  British couple Jayne Torvill and Christopher Dean performed an absolutely spectacular routine that won perfect marks for artistic merit across the board, an unprecedented achievement in the Olympic Games.  It was a magical moment that enshrined them forever in the pantheon of ice skating heroes.  What’s more, they did so in a refined, gentlemanly and lady-like fashion, with

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Saturday Snippet: a fast Viking getaway

Here’s another excerpt from my Viking fantasy novel, a work in progress of which I’ve already published two excerpts in these pages (see here and here).  The background to this snippet is that Alvar, now in his mid-teens, has joined the crew of a trading ship that Olaf, his mentor, has taken to the upper reaches of the Baltic Sea to look for amber, a valuable commodity in Viking trading.  Olaf has taken a party of warriors inland on his quest, while Alvar and other younger men hold the trading vessel in readiness for a quick getaway – which is about to be

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Sunday morning music

Britain is to officially leave the European Union on January 31st, 2020.  It’ll continue to observe EU rules and regulations for the rest of the year while an agreement on future relations with that body is hammered out, and will become fully free of their encumbrance at the end of this year (at least, that’s the current plan). To honor Britain and its people as they regain some of their independence, and in the hope that the island nation may be restored to at least some of its former glory, here’s a quintessentially English anthem.  It’s “Jerusalem”, a poem by William Blake set to

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Everything you wanted to know about the Internet and sex toys (but were afraid to ask)

Fear not:  your curiosity has been satisfied.  CNET has published an analysis of the state of play (you should pardon the expression) in the “connected” sex toy market.  I’m not going to go into details here (for obvious reasons, on a family-friendly blog), but I must admit to being mind-boggled by some of the things out there.  Note, too, the names of some of the companies and Web sites involved.  Weird, yes, but funny too!  Not so funny is the news that such devices may be spying on you, and reporting back to their manufacturers on how, and how often, you use

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