Internet highlights – w/c 23rd July 2017

29 07 2017

Explaining pagers to today’s children

101 ways to cope with stress

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The Humans – by Matt Haig

23 07 2017

Last year I read Reasons to stay alive, and can confidently say it’s one of the best things I’ve ever read. That book was non-fiction, but Matt Haig has mostly written fiction, which is also raved about and so I asked for The Humans for my birthday this year.

I’ve tried to explain the premise to a few people, and haven’t done very well so here goes nothing: One day, Andrew Martin manages to prove the Riemann Hypothesis and some aliens on another planet, believing that this is a threat to the cosmos, send one of their kind down to earth to destroy this man and anyone else he might have told. Cheery so far, right? So this alien goes down, Andrew is destroyed and the alien takes on the form of Andrew Martin, and seeks to determine what his wife and son know, and who else Andrew might have told, with the intent of destroying all who are aware so that this never gets out.

But in a way, that’s not the point of the book. This is a creature experiencing humans for the first time. He’s learnt about them in theory, but in practice there seems to be a lot more to them, and he’s keen to spend a bit longer working this out before completing his mission. It’s a reflection on us as creatures, which in some places makes you think, and in others is downright hilarious!

As is often the case with this sort of book, I ended up folding down a lot of page corners, and so some of my favourite quotes are below:

  • “It was comforting to know that even in the most remote corner of the universe the laws of sound and light obeyed themselves, although it has to be said they seemed a little more lacklustre here.”
  • “They placed me inside a small room that was, in perfect accord with all human rooms, a shrine to the rectangle.”
  • “Indeed, it is mathematics itself which is the bedrock of civilisation.”
  • “If God exists then what is He but a mathematician?”
  • “A prime number is strong. It does not depend on others.”
  • “I don’t have a name. Names are a symptom of a species which values the individual self above the collective good.”
  • “It was then that I realised the one thing worse than having a dog hate you is having a dog love you.”
  • “Listening to music, I realised, was simply the pleasure of counting without realising you were counting.”
  • “I was still ‘recovering’, you see. Recover. The most human of words, the implication being that healthy normal life is covering something.”
  • “Our beautiful, warless world, where I could be entranced by the purest mathematics for all eternity.”
  • “Overall, the sensation I was feeling was one of conscious decay. In short, I felt human.”
  • “Mornings were hard on Earth. You woke up tireder than when you went to sleep.”
  • “She knew one day her husband would die and yet she still dared to love him. That was an amazing thing.”
  • “Crossing [the road] at an angle that tried to balance the concealment of fear with rapid avoidance – that angle being, as it was everywhere in the universe, 48 degrees away from the straight line on which we had been travelling.”
  • “Whatever it is, you’re becoming a man of honour. And that’s rare for mathematicians.”
  • “The ‘pub’ was an invention of humans living in England, designed as a compensation for the fact that they were humans living in England. I rather liked the place.”
  • I wanted to put the whole preface down but realised that might be bordering on copyright infringement so I’ll let you find that for yourselves in a shop or library!

    There is also a chapter called “Advice for a human”, but given that that contains 97 points I’ll again leave that for you to discover yourself!

    (If it wasn’t clear from the above – I thought this book was brilliant and already have a list of people I want to lend it to!)

Internet highlights – w/c 16th July 2017

20 07 2017

Royal dress code.

New Christian jargon.

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Internet highlights – w/c 9th July 2017

15 07 2017

Little brothers officially naughtier than their big sisters.

How to survive a Christian festival.

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PSHE – revised

13 07 2017

I blogged about this 5 years ago and yesterday evening it reared its ugly head again.

In the comments on my previous post there were discussions of politics and washing symbols, and last night, having looked up that post because I didn’t understand my pension documents I had to read for work, I also realised that I’d googled washing symbols earlier that day when putting my sleeping bag in the machine.

So I’ve put together what I hope is a better list of things that NEED to be taught at school. When we were at school the only PSHE we did was: don’t smoke, don’t do drugs, don’t get drunk, and I think we maybe had one sex education lesson. Here’s my list of what I wish I’d learnt at school. (as an aside: part of my 30 before 30 this year is to write letters to MPs and companies about ethical issues and I think to some degree this might become one of those letters)

  • Politics. (This should be completely non-biased, just a basic outline of what the main parties stand for, and maybe a bit of history.)
  • Pensions.
  • Budgeting/Finances.
  • Insurance.
  • How to read washing instruction symbols on clothes.
  • Basic household cleaning.
  • You know what? These are teenagers we’re talking about: Personal hygiene.
  • I considered putting mortgages… but with each year that passes it seems fewer and fewer will manage it! Mortgages and renting combined maybe.

I appreciate some of these technically get taught in other subjects, eg you technically do clothing care labels in textiles, but it’s something we all need to know, not sure if we’re sewing!

I’m sure there’s more that could go on this list, maybe I’ll do a longer version again in another 5 years…. what else would you include?

Eligible – by Curtis Sittenfeld

12 07 2017

If you saw this on the shelf in a bookshop/library/supermarket/etc you’d be forgiven for having no idea that it’s part of The Austen Project!

This is the first time one of the authors has changed the title of their book. I’m not entirely sure why they did it, but who am I to judge? I think I’ve enjoyed this one the most so far. Some of the previous books have just modernised by throwing in facebook and mobile phone references, but this one had a full blown revamp.

Liz is 38 and a writer for a magazine, Jane is 39 and a yoga instructor, and they live in New York, but have had to go back to the family home as Mr Bennet has a heart attack. Lydia, Kitty and Mary are in their 20s and still living at home and pretty much just living off of the family money. Chip Bingley and Fitzwilliam Darcy are Doctors/Surgeons, and Chip has recently become famous on a reality TV show called “Eligibe” which is essentially The Bachelor. The Collins subject is dealt with by changing him from a cousin (which was fine to marry in those days!) to a step-cousin (technically fine, but still a bit weird), which seemed like a really sensible change to make.

They don’t stick religiously to the plot either. I won’t ruin this with spoilers but there are two separate characters that take a story line each of Willoughby’s character from the original, there’s IVF, a LGBTQ subplot, and as already mentioned, reality TV – definitely a long way from Austenland, and yet, while you’re reading it, you don’t feel far off at all.

Mr Bennet is still the same wonderful man, and definitely one of my favourite characters with some of the best one liners.

“My dear,” said Mr Bennet, “if a sock puppet with a trust fund and a Harvard medical degree moved here, you’d think he was meant to marry one of our girls.”

“Plenty of men don’t want children.” Mr Bennet took a sip of coffee. “I’m still not sure that I do.”

Internet highlights – w/c 2nd July 2017

8 07 2017

Church service for introverts

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Internet highlights – w/c 25 June 2017

1 07 2017

Churches to trial contactless collection plates.

What Christians say and what they mean.

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