Category Archives: Books

Book related items

And the big news today is Fructose – but it could be Saturated Fat, Carbs, Omega-6’s…

In amongst the traditional diet news in the papers today, a new small scale US study is being quoted in a number of newspapers, including the Daily Mail under the headline Sugar found in biscuits and ice cream fuels obesity by making us HUNGRIER:

A sugar used in biscuits, ice cream and other processed foods is fuelling obesity by increasing people’s appetites, scientists have warned.

A new study has shown fructose – which is used to sweeten soft drinks and junk food – is more harmful than other types of sugar.

Click here to view original web page at www.dailymail.co.uk

Although this isn’t exactly news – people such as Professor Robert Lustig whose video Sugar: The Bitter Truth has had over 3,000,000 views have been highlighting Fructose as a problem for a while – not without controversy – indeed just before Christmas he had an article with similar points published in Time magazine. A quick search of just one newspaper site and you can find how much has been written about just this one chemical in our diet.

But I could have picked any number of other chemicals, newspapers have been publishing articles on whether or not eating saturated fat is bad, for and against carbohydrates, the balance between Omega-6 and Omega-3 fats in the diet, there are plenty of articles about those around too. In fact there is now even an eating disorder Orthorexia Nervosa which is the obsession with healthy eating.

This brings me onto an excellent little book I’ve been reading recently called In Defence of Food, written by journalist Michael Pollan and is not so much a diet book, but a book about diet. He starts from the point that numerous different cultures across the world existed on a variety of diets some high carbohydrate and low fat, others almost exclusively fat, but all with no discernible level of the so called western diseases such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. Members of those cultures when they switched to a more western diet invariably started to develop those western diseases. He also cites some limited research where members of those cultures switched back to their more traditional diets and the indicators for those western diseases fell away. He also cites oddities such as France whose diet would suggest soar-away problems with heart disease, but doesn’t have such a problem. His suggestion is that it doesn’t much matter exactly what diet you choose to follow – although he favours a more vegetarian diet, but that we need to be looking back at what these older cultures are doing with food as our decades of healthy eating and nutrition advice really isn’t working if our sky-rocketing levels of obesity are anything to go by…

Predictive Text

A little story here for anybody who has ever struggled with the T9 predictive text facility on their mobile phone. Whereas some people struggle with it, an Italian commuter has, over the course of seventeen weeks of commuting used his Nokia 6630 to write a 384 page novel! The result of his labours is now available on Lulu.com – sadly only in Italian.

24 Hours of Flickr – London

So after a bit of discussion, we decided to head off into London to attend the 24 Hours of Flickr London event. Although it involved dashing home from work, and an hour on the train each way the prospect of seeing my picture hung on the wall, as the pictures had been at the Berlin and Paris events was just rather tempting.

Flickr Logo

I managed to make it home from work pretty promptly, and we headed straight down to Fleet station. Thanks to some early-bird commuters heading home we even managed to get a space just beyond the reserved parking in the car park. Unfortunately things didn’t go quite so well after that. There was one person in front of me in the queue, an old gentleman buying a ticket for tomorrow morning. The reason he was doing that was because they now will not sell the reduce priced tickets on the train. If you’re lucky they’ll sell you a full price ticket – if you’re unlucky they’ll give you a penalty fare. As a result, there is now a sizeable queue at the ticket office whenever a train arrives with people buying a ticket for tomorrow. Anyway, after grumbling about this for a bit, he was then told about the other new South-West Trains policy – super off-peak fares. In actual fact what they’ve done is hiked off-peak fares towards London by 20% and introduced a new super off-peak band that comes into force at lunchtime – anyway, that produced another grumble. With all that grumbling we got our tickets just as the next train to London pulled into the opposite platform, and typically the guard closed the doors and the train pulled out just as we made it to the stairs down off the bridge. We caught the next train, and made it to the event just before 8pm.

Flickr had taken over the foyer area inside the Manton Entrance of the gallery on Atterbury Street. The reason for the choice of venue being that for the first time Tate Britain was hosting an exhibition of photography – How We Are, with photographs stretching right from the dawn of photography – right up to a PC connected to Flickr itself as the final exhibit. Alongside a selection of Flickr freebies, they were also giving away copies of the book, plus a selection of nibbles and free drinks. All very nice. The only disappointment was that the only place that 24 Hours of Flickr pictures were being shown were on a plasma screen – they didn’t appear to have the big blown up versions of the book pages that they had shown at the other events. To be honest there was nowhere that they could have shown them, but it was still a bit disappointing.

Page 64

So in lieu of a gratuitous shot of me by my picture, I’ve got a shot of my picture in the book. It’s in amongst a selection of wedding pictures not surprisingly.

The rest of the book has a massive range of pictures, covering a broad spectrum of subjects. Unless you can get to the last of the events in Montreal, the book is available from blurb.com – my picture is on page 64. 😀

After a browse round the How We Are exhibit, we headed back to Waterloo and the train for home. A bit of a lightning visit – but enjoyable – even if I didn’t get to see my picture actually hung in the Tate…

Update: The posts on the event are starting to come in – check out technorati for a selection. Being a Flickr event, there are lots of pictures too, the most interesting of which includes the page with our picture on it as a result of two of the other wedding pictures being taken by different people at the same event – apparently not the only coincidence like that in the book!

Andy Piper also highlights that the guys from Moo who produce the cool little Moo MiniCards from pictures in your Flickr stream were in attendance. Beth has recently ordered a set using some of her pictures, and absolutely loves them. She actually came home with a few more, as amongst the freebies last night were a selection advertising Flickr

24 Hours of Flickr Published

The Waiting is Over

I’ve just ordered my copy of the 24 Hours of Flickr Book which was published this week via blurb.com one of a number of Print on Demand companies.

As I’ve mentioned before, I was really chuffed to have one of my pictures selected for the book, even more so when I discovered how many of the 7,477 pictures submitted actually made it to the final book – only 122! The picture, along with a much larger selection of those submitted will also be displayed at an event at Tate Britain in London on Monday, and in Montreal on Friday.

The Family of Blood

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Quite often with two part stories, the second part is by far the weakest, almost as if the writers had put everything into a spectacular cliff-hanger, and then don’t know what to do with part two. With Human Nature being such a great first part, coming to part two there was a definite question mark over whether The Family of Blood would live up to it. I’m glad to say therefore that part two more than lived up to it, indeed in ways it possibly even surpassed it giving a fantastic conclusion.

Ultimately, the episode turned into a character piece. The cliff-hanger was resolved not by a flash of the Doctor through the Doctor John Smith persona, but purely by Martha. Indeed at one point Nurse Redfern has to encourage a shocked and confused Doctor John Smith to even escape. In the course of the escape Martha even comments how hopeless he is as a human.

They return to the school where Doctor John Smith mobilises the boys, all of whom have been training to protect King and Country, and they mount a defence of the castle. However faced with the Family of Blood and the scarecrows they have little chance, and with the headmaster and another teacher vaporised the boys run. John Smith, Martha and Nurse Redfern end up hiding in an abandoned cottage, whilst the Family of Blood start bombarding the village. Reunited with the pocket watch that holds the essence of the Doctor, we have the heart of the episode, where Doctor John Smith has to choose between a normal life as a human, or to sacrifice himself to become the Doctor again and save humanity.

Essentially, the episode boils down to very much a character piece. When ultimately Doctor John Smith chooses to open the watch, and to return to being the Doctor, the actual defeat of the Family of Blood is very brief. You see almost snapshots of how the Doctor despatches each member of the family – giving them the eternal life they crave, but trapped for eternity in various ways.

Then the final few minutes finish off the story of Tim, the boy who has been hiding the pocket watch, and also continue the First World War theme. The Doctor gives him the watch for good luck, and thanks to his vision of the future seen in episode one he survives the war. The episode finishes with Tim, now an old man, sitting in a wheelchair at a Remembrance Day service, holding the pocket watch. As the priest says the familiar words of the service, the camera pans from a tearful Tim holding the watch across to the figures of the Doctor and Martha on the other side of the green.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

This in some ways very much pointed back at the often forgotten parallel aspect of the show to educate the children watching about history. In the early years this was through purely historical stories, but here the end of the episode is devoted to connecting the characters shown in the rest of the programme through the horrors of the First World War through to the reasons why we wear poppies, and the services at war memorials. Whilst I’m sure there will be some who will bemoan the time spent on these sequences against seeing The Doctor despatch the baddies, ultimately this was the heart of the story, the tragedy of many of the boys in the school being trained for war, a war from which they will never return and also the personal tragedy of Doctor John Smith and Nurse Redfern who thanks to the watch get shown a vision of their future, if
the Doctor is never brought back.

In both cases – Tim, and Doctor John Smith they realise that it is something that has to be done. As Nurse Redfern says to the Doctor when she refuses to come with him, Doctor John Smith was by far the braver man choosing to sacrifice himself, whereas all the Doctor did was hide, and in doing so caused the unnecessary deaths of the villagers who the Family of Blood had killed.

The two episodes had complex themes, themes that I’m sure will take time to explore. However they also turned in some fantastic performances.

Freema Agyeman again had a chance to shine as Martha, with David Tennant giving a great performance in the dual roles of Doctor John Smith and the Doctor. This was especially highlighted in moments when he first held the pocket watch where the two characters switched back and forth with a moment when he was clearly the Doctor, and then returning to an increasingly scared Doctor John Smith, having to choose what to do.

Perhaps the episode was so good because of it’s genesis as a book, although a number of elements of the book were changed for the TV story, however you can now see for yourself, as the BBC have replaced the eBook of the original novel so if you want to compare the two you can. To help you along, you’ve also got extensive authors notes about the original book, plus Paul Cornell’s own notes about adapting it for the screen.