Welcome to Sunday Social

For those who are interested here is an opportunity to publicise your blog…

Rachel McKee~Illuminated Literation

Sunday Social is a place to mingle, collaborate, and share our blogs. Sunday Social is one more place where you can share a post that maybe didn’t get as much feedback as you were hoping for. Sunday Social is a place to meet new bloggers.

This weekly post is a “wild card” of sorts. There aren’t many rules but I do ask that you follow a few guidelines.

  • Give honest, constructive feedback, but always be courteous.
  • If someone takes the time to comment on your post, please return the favor and check out their endeavors too.

How do you participate?

It’s very easy.

  • Copy and paste the link to your blog or a specific blog post in the comment section below.
  • Give us a little blurb about your blog, the feedback you are looking for, or if you are just hoping to meet some new blogger buddies.

Voila! That’s it.

View original post 46 more words

Cricket, Photographs and Puzzles

Some thoughts about the early stages of the English Cricket Season, some photographs and some puzzles.

INTRODUCTION

The second round of County Championship matches in season 2018 are now on their second day. Additionally the fact that here in England we seem to have skipped spring, going dorectly from a long, unpleasant winter into summer means I have a particularly fine selection of photographs for you, and there will be puzzles. 

THE COUNTY CHAMPIONSHIP

Scoring is low everywhere. At Chester-le-Street it is looking a first innings tally of 169 will be sufficient for Kent to record an innings victory (Durham, shot out for 91 yesterday morning are 39-7 in their second innings, needing their last three wickets to double that paltry tally just to avoid the innings defeat). Essex and Lancashire are already into their third innings as well, Essex having scraped together 150 first up and Lancashire replying with 144. Essex are 39-0 in their second innings. Somerset, having actually claimed a batting bonus point by reaching 202 are poised for a handy first innings lead, Worcestershire being 153-8 in response. Surrey also topped 200 – making 211, and Hampshire are 79-6 in response. Yorkshire made 256 in their first innings, and Nottinghamshire are 110-6 in response. Derbyshire made 265, and Middlesex have also reached three figures, being 101-5 in response. Gloucestershire are 47-0 in response to Glamorgan’s 236. Northamptonshire were all out for 147 and Warwickshire are about to overhaul them, with wickets in hand. Finally, Sussex batting first are a comparatively monumental 304-7 (three batting bonus points, although they will not get a fourth as they have had 108.3 overs, and bonus points are only awarded in the first 110 overs of a team’s first innngs) against Leicestershire.

Every match is in progress, which beats last week, when Yorkshire failed to produce a playing surface on which the game could be played, resulting in their match against Essex being abandoned without a ball being bowled. 

The low scoring is a major problem – the batters will gave little confidence since they are not making runs, and as soon as they face conditions in which the ball does not get up to mischief most of the wicket-taking bowlers will revert to being their workaday selves (we saw, unforgettably for all the wrong reasons, over the winter how seamers who bowl accurately but not especially fast are cannon fodder for international class batsmen on good pitches). 

From the point of view of England possibles these two rounds of championship matches have been largely valueless – the 75 from James Vince on the opening day was the usual Vince fare – excellent while it lasted, but did not last long enough to be satisfactory and given the conditions no bowling figures can be taken with anything other than a substantial helping of salt.

PHOTOGRAPHS 1: AN ASPI.BLOG FIRST

The Muscovy ducks first saw a few months back are still in residence, and they have been joined by an unusual visitor, the second largest bird species I have seen in King’s Lynn – Canada Geese.

Muscovy ducks and Canada Geese
The white patch at the top front of the otherwise pure black neck (the head and bill are also pure black) is, along with the colossal size, the key identifier of these birds as Canada Geese.

Canada Goose and Muscovy ducksCGICGIICGIII

PUZZLE 1: MATCHSTICKS

My first offering from brilliant (the source of all of today’s puzzles – note also that all can be solved without even using pen and paper, never mind mechanical assistance – I did) is an exercise in visualization:

matchsticks

PHOTOGRAPHS 2: MUNTJAC

This muntjac was nibbling the grass on the playing field of the Lynn Academy, and I was taking pictures through a screen of plants:

Muntjac IMuntjac IIMuntjac IIIMuntjac IV

PUZZLE 2: CLEAR ICE

Clear Ice

PHOTOGRAPHS 3: SQUIRREL

I got two shots of this squirrel, one om the ground, and one as it swarmed up a tree trunk:

Squirrelsquirrel swarming up tree

PUZZLE 3: POLYOMINO

Another exercise in visualization (my own success with this one enabled me to celebrate what I call my brilliant.org Pi Day – 314 successive days on which I had solved at least one of their problems!):

Polyomino

PHOTOGRAPHS 4: SMALLER BIRDS

BlackbirdMoorhen on branchMagpieperching blackbird

PUZZLE 4: CONVERGENCE

Convergence

PHOTOGRAPHS 5: BUTTERFLIES

Small Tortoiseshell XIITwo Small TortoiseshellsTwo Small Tortoiseshells IISmall Tortoiseshell XIIITwo butterfliesSmall Tortoiseshell XIVPeacock Butterfly with closed wings

PUZZLE 5: CUBE

My own method for solving this one once again involved visualization, although other methods were also used.

Cube

In view of some of the moans that appeared on brilliant in relation to this problem please note the crucial words “by rotating” in the question – they are absolutely key.

PHOTOGRAPHS 6: THE REST

PollinatorSmall birdShy guinea pig

AFTERWORD

While I have been completing this post Durham have succeeded in making Kent bat again, though it is still massive odds against that game even making it onto the third of the scheduled four days.

 

Welcome to Sunday Social

A chance for people to share their blogs…

Rachel McKee~Illuminated Literation

Sunday Social is a place to mingle, collaborate, and share our blogs. Sunday Social is one more place where you can share a post that maybe didn’t get as much feedback as you were hoping for. Sunday Social is a place to meet new bloggers.

This weekly post is a “wild card” of sorts. There aren’t many rules but I do ask that you follow a few guidelines.

  • Give honest, constructive feedback, but always be courteous.
  • If someone takes the time to comment on your post, please return the favor and check out their endeavors too.

How do you participate?

It’s very easy.

  • Copy and paste the link to your blog or a specific blog post in the comment section below.
  • Give us a little blurb about your blog, the feedback you are looking for, or if you are just hoping to meet some new blogger buddies.

Voila! That’s it.

View original post 46 more words

Midweek Medley

A mixed bag of a post with nature, mathematics and photography all featuring prominently.

INTRODUCTION

This post features stuff from a variety of sources, and of course plenty of my photographs. I am going to start with the focus on…

NATURE

I start with some news from Germany, where in a bid to reduce congestion and air pollution a number of cities are trialling free public transport. The image below comes from the Guardian’s coverage of this story:

Regular visitors will recall that I mentioned something about London possibly becoming a National Park City in one of my earlier posts. I am now delighted to say that it will happen – London will become the world’s first National Park City. 

Finally moving on to a local level, the Borough Council of King’s Lynn and West Norfolk have produced a new pamphlet titled The Walks Tree Trail. Copies are in stock in the Custom House, which houses King’s Lynn’s tourist information office, and I have photographed every page of one of the pamphlets:

WTT I
A really good idea, and a we,lcome show of ‘treespect’. Thst the nearest entrance to The Walks is a mere few minutes walk from my flat is a bonus.

WTT IIWTT IIIWTT IVWTT VWTT VIWTT VIIWTT VIIIWTT IX

EDUCATION MINISTER REPEATS PREDECESSOR’S BLUNDER

A while back the then education minister Nicky Morgan was interviewed about some comments she had made regarding mathematical standards and during that interview was challenged to perform a very simple multiplication, which she balked at doing, bringing down on herself a storm of mockery. You might think that Nick Gibb would have learned from his predecessor’s embarrassment but you would be wrong. Interviewed on TV after announcing the launch of tougher maths tests for primary school children he was challenged to perform a very simple multiplication (8 x 9) and in a repeat of Ms Morgan’s performance he refused to do so. Nicky Morgan may not have known what she was bringing down on her head by ducking the question in her interview, but for Nick Gibb there is no excuse. In the event that I am ever interviewed on TV and challenged in this fashion I will give them the answer (72 if it is the same question that Mr Gibb shied away from answering) and then ask if they might care to set me a proper question. I have three takes on this story for you:

  • The Guardian’s version
  • The Evolve Politics website’s version
  • Mike Sivier of Vox Political’s version

This is a good preamble to my next section…

A MATHEMATICAL TEASER

I offer you a question from the mathematical website brilliant which I greatly enjoyed when I tackled it myself. I will give the answer to this little conundrum at the weekend.

777

PHOTOGRAPHS

These are from today, in and around King’s Lynn:

MoorhenCormorantMoorhen 2BlackbirdMute Swan CMjute Swan CIMute Swan CIIside by side by sideMute Swan CIIIMute Swan CIV3 Muscovies, 2 MallardsMute Swan CVMultiple species

 

Rachel Caine’s Great Library Novels

A review of Rachel Caine’s series of books featuring the Great Library.

INTRODUCTION

There are three novels under consideration in todays post, and they form a series. 

GLT

OVERVIEW

These books are an exercise in “Alternative History”. They are set in the 21st century in a world in which the Great Library of Alexandria did not get destroyed, but instead ended up as a global power, not merely a centre of learning. For some centuries a conflict has raged between the forces of the Library and rebels known as Burners. Also, since the Great Library have decreed that no books shall be privately owned there is a third group in the mix, the smugglers who for a price satsify the cravings of those who in defiance of the law still want to own books. 

BOOK 1: INK AND BONE

Ink and Bone

In the opening pages of this book we meet Jess Brightwell, then 10 years old, and already running contraband books as part of his father’s smuggling business. Jess performs a mission which leads him to an encounter with an ‘ink eater’ – a man who in this instance eats the pages of the only known copy of a book by Aristotle. The effect witnessing this has on Jess sets the scene for the subsequent story. We skip forward six years and Jess’s father has entered him (at vast expense) for the Great Library entrance exam, considering that it would be useful to have someone on the inside. Jess manages to pass and finds himself bound for Alexandria along with 30 or so other scholars. Among his fellows are Thomas Schreiber, a German with massive talents for engineering and inventing, Khalila Seif who has achieved the first ever perfect score in the entrance exam, Glain Wathen, a tough Welsh girl who has an eye on a place in the High Garda, the Library’s security force/ army and Dario Santiago, from a wealthy and influential Spanish family.

These and the other postulants find themselves being put through their paces by Scholar Christopher Wolfe, a very harsh judge. Twelve of the postulants have gone by the end of the first week, and their numbers continue to fall regularly. One new person arrives on the scene, Morgan Hault, who it turns out is an obscurist, and as such vital to future of the library. Her unwillingness to suffer the obscurist’s usual fate of being confined in the Iron Tower is one of the causes of conflict between these scholars and the Library. The other direct cause is Thomas Schreiber’s passion for inventing – he designs and creates a printing press which would enable the bulk production of books, not realising that various previous scholars have been harshly punished for the same invention, as the Library will tolerate nothing that might reduce its power. It further harms Thomas’ cause that Christopher Wolfe is one of those scholars who have previously been punished for this offence.

Before Thomas  Schreiber gets hauled over the coals there are major clues that all is not rosy in the garden. As a final exercise the postulants are sent to Oxford to retrieve some rare books gthat have come to light there, and the only way to get them there in time is to use a technique called ‘translation’, which is fraught with danger. One of them, Guillaume Danton, dies while being translated, which generates suspicion. Then, when they have barely escaped from Oxford with their lives and are being returned to Alexandria on the Archivist’s personal train they are ambushed by Burners who have somehow found out their whereabouts. 

This book ends with Morgan Hault confined in the Iron Tower, Thomas Schreiber in prison, with the others having been told that he is dead, and all the other main characters having been assigned various positions. 

BOOK 2: PAPER AND FIRE

Paper and Fire

This book follows on directly from the end of book one. It deals with the discovery that Thomas is not dead, merely in prison, and the subsequent quest to break him out and escape from the Library’s clutches. In the Iron Tower, above the levels occupied by the obscurists, the Black Archives are revealed to us for the first time. The Archivist (boss of the whole library) has ordered the Artifex Magnus to destroy them, but the rebel scholars get away with a quantity of the most important books and head for London, Jess Brightwell’s home town. They then find themselves betrayed and sent to the Burner city of Philadelphia. It is also in the course of this book that we see how the automata (I dropped a hint about these in this post)  that the Libfrary uses in addition to the High Garda can be switched off. Thomas, with the help of Morgan Hault the obscurist, manages to change one of the automata so that it works for them.

BOOK 3: ASH AND QUILL

Ash and Quill

Thomas Schreiber creates a version of his press from materials available in Philadelphia, which works sufficiently well to impress the Burners but not to end his usefulness. He also makes a weapon that will ultimately be used to make a hole in Philadelphia’s walls so that he and his band can escape. 

Meanwhile, having previously kept the city under siege for a hundred years, the Library having discovered that their rebel scholars are there have ordered the complete destruction of the city.

While the city is being destroyed, Thomas Schreiber’s weapon creates enough of a hole in the walls for the scholars to escape, and one of Jess’ smuggler acquaintances gets them back to Britain. London is now off bounds, having finally fallen to the Welsh forces who have been attacking it for some time, but Jess’ father owns a castle in the north of England.

While hiding there Thomas builds a sophisticated press which is immediately put to work churning out bulk copies of previously concealed works, and he also creates a better version of the weapon he used in Philadelphia to make a gap in the walls. The book ends with Jess, disguised as his brother, about to visit the Archivist. It is fairly clear that whatever happens in that meeting only one of those two will emerge alive (at most).

THE EPHEMERA

Interleaved with the story proper are regular sections titled Ephemera, which give as insights in to the history and development of the Library. We learn through these, and through discoveries in the Black Archives, that the first Archivist with a view to making the Library a military as well as an intellectual power base (“using the sword as well the pen”) was Zoran who saw in a conflict between the Roman emperor Aurelian and the eastern queen Zenobia the opportunity to bring this about, that the first scholar to suggest a printing press was a Chinese man in the year 868, and the scholar Gutenberg was punished for the same “crime” some six centuries later. Thus we can trace the corruption of the Library, and the view that its power counted above all else back at least to 868AD, almost 1,200 years before the action in these books takes place, and possibly all the way back to the scheming Archivist Zoran half a millennium before that.

FINAL THOUGHTS

These books are excellent, the story being thoroughly gripping. Although a couple of minor errors slipped in to the history (“Scholar Plato”, which reference is made during the story is incorrect, since he lived and died before the Great Library was created, and Archimedes of Syracuse lived a century and more earlier than Heron of Alexandria, not vice versa) they are not sufficient to detract from the overall quality of the work, which is excellent. I really enjoyed reading these books and hope that there are more to come. You can find out more about Rachel Caine from her website and on twitter. Also, shrewd observers will have noted that my pictures are of Library books, so I finish this long post about a library system that went badly wrong somewhere along the line by thanking a library system that is still working nicely, Norfolk Libraries, through whose good offices I gained access to these books.

Musical Keys and Birds

A brief account of Musical Keys and some bird pictures.

INTRODUCTION

Saturday was a music day, and I have plenty of pictures to share from recent days.

MUSICAL KEYS – THE KORG

These sessions are organised for the benefit of autistic people, so before I get into the meat of this section here is stimtheline’s magnificent Autistic Bill of Rights:

Autistic Bill of Rights.pub

The Korg is a very sophisticated machine (for classical music enthusiasts it looks a 21st century version of a clavichord, but it does so much more). I will let the photographs tell the story (I got most of these by playing with my left hand while using the camera with my right FYI):

Korg IKorg IIKorg IIIKorg IVKorg VKorg VIKorg VIIKorg VIIIKorg IXKorg X

BIRDS OF ALL SIZES

We start with the largest bird to be a regular feature of life in Britain – the mute swan:

MSXMSXIMSXIIMSXIIIMSXIVMSXVMSXVIMSXVIIMSXIXMSXXMSXXI

Next we come to a much smaller species, which I have not previously captured on camera, a little wader called a turnstone (I seem to recall that a few years back The Lynn News had a columnist who used Turnstone as a nom de plume):

Turnstone ITurnstone II

Further along the Great Ouse and on the side of the river were a few specimens of a larger bird that is not a regular sight in these parts – the greylag goose:

Greylag geese

We end with a couple of cormorant shots:

Cormorant CSwimming cormorant