Finally slogged my way to the end of The Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Penman, long, highly popular, historical novel depicting Richard III as the good guy, mentioned before.
Not too bad overall, but just a bit too much for me. Verges on the romance genre too much at times, with a lot of attention paid to the romance between Richard and Anne Neville, with a tearjerker as she dies.
Seems very thoroughly researched though, and you learn a lot about the period. For instance, she makes quite a big deal of the high infant mortality of the period and how it affects the female characters as they have to watch baby after baby die in infancy. Also doesn't downplay the way it was accepted for high-ranking males to have a string of affairs and a series of bastards, to which their wives have to turn a blind eye.
The plotting and scheming is done pretty well, and so are the battles, though they're a bit too few and far between for me.
Making Richard III a nice guy works as a novel, but is a bit far-fetched for history, though he wasn't the hideously deformed monster of legend and Shakespeare. Here the son of his elder brother really was illegitimate, due to a brief earlier marriage, and he's more or less forced to take the throne by plotting against him. The Duke of Buckingham is the one to kill the princes as part of an elaborate plot to bring the Tudors into play, and put the blame for the crime on Richard. But it's hard to seriously believe either: much more likely that both were devices for Richard to take personal power. And even by the standards of medieval monarchs, killing your own nephews, as children, without them mounting any kind of rebellion, went a bit beyond normal statecraft. Usually they kept even more distant and more adult potential troublemakers alive for longer.
Overall, not bad, but for the seriously committed only. From the content and the Amazon reviews, this book seems to appeal more to girls.
What I'm Not Watching
Read the summaries, and glad I decided not to get into Lost: even though some people liked it, I would have found it pretty infuriating that when you don't find out what the Dharma Project was for or why they had to keep pressing the button, but it doesn't matter because everybody hooks up with the right partner. Also sees to me that moralistic therapeutic deism is rearing its head again.
What I'm Watching
Saw the BBC EDL Documentary Young, British and Angry (1 hour, UK-only time-limited Iplayer link).
Not too bad. Managed some decent investigation, liked the way they pursued the BNP connection and weren't taken in by the crappy-playground sob story.
But I thought they were too willing to accept the idea that they're just a peaceful pressure group that happens to attract a load of violent extremists. In particular they didn't really investigate the alliance of the hooligan "firms" and the Casuals scene, which explains a bit better why the violence kicks off even when there's no "provocation". It seems to me that violence and intimidation are the main point, and they just happen to attract some non-violent people along with it.
Went to see the family at the weekend, and ended up watching the Andrew Marr show. (They're far more political than me, you guys don't know when you're lucky.)
Getting a bit annoyed with the ConDem honeymoon period. After all the savagery of the attacks on Labour and Gordon Brown in particular, they seem to reacting with simpering sycophancy to the ConDems.
As ever, Chris Dillow of Stumbling and Mumbling is good on pointing out the problems.
Clegg blandly claims that the problems in the Eurozone mean he's suddenly decided they need to cut six billion in spending like the Tories promised. This makes no sense. If the Eurozone is broke and not buying UK exports, then demand will be lower: that increases the risk of recession and strengthens the case for a Keynesian spending boost. The gilt markets have recovered in the crisis as the markets flee the Eurozone. So, the risks are worse and the benefits less. But Andrew Marr just nods along comfortingly as Nick Clegg spouts complete bullshit.
Back in March, Osborne promised that the six billion cuts would come from the waste that even the government now admits exist... not a single penny will come from the front line services that people depend on". Now it was always just a pleasant a tabloid fantasy that there's vast amounts of utterly worthless spending to cut without pain. But nobody seems bothered that even the easiest-of-the-easy tiny slice of early spending cuts, are still coming from education and local government, not five-a-day consultants.
The ConDems promised to decentralize power. But their Programme forces local government to freeze council tax, and now they're reducing subsidies to local government too. (For Americans, it's as if President Obama forced Tisbury, Martha's Vineyard and every other local government to stick to whatever taxes it levelled the previous year). Whether you think it's a good idea or not, taking control of local government spending isn't consistent with empowering it.
Overall, the media seem to be happily letting the ConDems get away with blatant lies, hypocrisy and deceit. Hopefully it's just a honeymoon period that will soon be over. But it may be that scrutiny is something the media give to oiks, not nice public-schoolboy Oxbridge chaps like them.
Random. Onion cover. Nick Griffin to Tour with Aswad. Fake Batman team-up covers. Human Centipede: The Game. Swinger makes every song swing. Get drunk not fat. The Sneaky Hate Spiral. XKCD Explained Explained Explained.
Articles. Alastair Reynolds on Optimism and Pessimism in SF. Sexism in ads. The People are not stupid, but by and large, they are wonderfully under-informed. Concern over Ventner synthetic-life patents. Why do women leave science and engineering?
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