August 26th, 2010


UUP leadership candidates

My thanks to Bobballs, who has posted links to the statements made so far in the UUP leadership campaign. I've gone through them - it didn't take long - and my big conclusion is that I wish I had also done this for the SDLP leadership election a few months back. My secondary conclusion is that neither candidate seems terribly strong on substance, and on the evidence so far, the UUP led by either of them can look forward to more years of the same. My fisking of the two below:

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If I were a voter in this election, I would support McCrea on the basis of these statements, purely because Collapse )

Finally, the other issue I want to pick up on is the question of Collapse )

Mysterious activity of early August

The relatively new stats feature on LJ rarely delivers much of interest, but I did notice something interesting around 3-4 August when traffic to my account doubled:

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I have to say that my posts on 3 and 4 August were not really sufficiently interesting to warrant that sort of attention, and my first thought was that perhaps a link to an old post - maybe, I flattered myself, the series on the Bloody Sunday report - had found their way onto some very populous but closed online community (a number of obvious possibilities occurred to me), and been widely shared around there, though with nobody leaving any comments.

But I do not think this is the case now, after checking the time distribution of hits over the two days in question:

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Looks to me like this must have been a bot of some kind, passing by three times in just over 24 hours. Some new search engine, gearing up for a launch, perhaps? Has anyone else noticed unusual activity of this kind around that time?

August Books 30) Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Life, by Bryan Lee O'Malley

Since I hardly ever go the cinema, I don't know when I'll see the movie, but I must say I liked the first volume: Scott and all his friends are well-drawn characters, and the sheer insanity of ending the book with the first of Ramona's evil ex-boyfriends duelling with the unfortunate Scott, video-game style, at the scene of an abortive gig is very engaging. I also liked the depiction of the Canadian background, hemmed by by snow to the north and the USA to the south. I wasn't sufficiently charmed to go on about it at great length here, but I was sufficiently charmed to buy another volume.

August Books 31) A Farewell To Arms, by Ernest Hemingway

Continuing my discovery of Hemingway, I started A Farewell to Arms with no knowledge of the content at all. I soon realised that it was about the Italian front in the first world war where Hemingway had served as a medic, which I was aware of from Haldeman's "The Hemingway Hoax", but then became rather delighted when I realised that I vaguely know the area in question, now the eastern part of Slovenia. (I once stumped a leading French intellectual over dinner in Ljubljana by asking him which nineteenth-century French ruler is buried in Slovenia. The answer is Charles X.)

It is, of course, a great, gritty, utterly unheroic depiction of war, with deaths, horrible injuries, and what some have called emergency sex. The Frederick Henry's struggle then shifts to his relationship with Catherine Barkley. You know that it is doomed from the start, because it's that kind of book, but I was still startled by the bleak suddenness of the ending. It's a sparse, clear picture of people thrown together by conflict, and how lives end in that situation, as ever told in Hemingway's crystal prose.

I am becoming a Hemingway addict, something I never quite expected.