Monday, May 26, 2008

Animal's People by Indra Sinha .

I have just finished reading Animal's People by Indra Sinha. I enjoyed this book very much and I can understand why it was shortlisted for the 2007 Man Booker Prize . It states in the front of this book that it is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. That is a legal statement written to avoid any legal claims because there was an industrial disaster that happened in Bhopal, India on the 3rd December 1984. This story is similar to the Bhopal disaster and is set in an actual city called Khaufpur . It concerns a character who has been nicknamed Animal because he was crippled when he inhaled a poisonous gas and now walks on all fours. This is his story about his experiences and the people he meets and shares his life amongst.

His tale is told very well and Indra tells it totally in the character of Animal. This novel raises disability awareness in the reader but Animal's tale is not one of self-pity. This is a tale of contemporary India, involving real life with all it's scams and politics. This book is full of local character and the reader can read this book on a daily basis and you feel as though you are living in Khaufpur, bumping into Animal each day. There is a good range of characters to support Animal's tale and the story has a good pace. There are no dull chapters to wade through.

This is a very human book and should appeal to both genders. It also has a happy ending and at the end I feel "Ah, bless him".

Sunday, May 25, 2008


I went on the internet from this computer on Wednesday night although I did not post on this blog. There were no problems with my broadband internet connection and my internet experience was as good as ever.

On Thursday night I was unable to get onto the internet. I tried to re-install the modem in case that was posing a problem but it failed to recognise the network. I was not worried because our friends who live 10 minutes walk away from us had their internet connection drop on Tuesday. It was a network problem that their ISP quickly resolved.

On Friday night I tried again and our broadband internet was still down. So again I tried to re-install the modem but it still would not recognise the network. I tried everything I could think of using the software packages on this computer. I clicked and read every tab I could use on the broadband software. I found that sync detection had also failed. My telephone had worked as normal all this time and I was finally at a loss of how to get my broadband connection working again. As a last resort I telephoned the broadband technical support number of my ISP. They talked me through things that I had already done with no success and I told them all I knew about my problem. Then the guy said that he thought he knew exactly what the problem was, please hold and he will find out from another department. A few minutes later he spoke to me and confirmed that it was what he thought. It was a faulty chip set in the telephone exchange and that it would be repaired within the next 48 hours.

True to his word our broadband internet connection has been restored and the gremlins have gone.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Windows XP Service Pack 3 .

I did the Windows Update on this computer yesterday and up pops Windows XP Service Pack 3. This was a very large update to download and install. I am not a fan of Windows but it does the job and once it has loaded it is a simple 2 clicks and away onto the internet.

What surprises me is the size of this operating system and the length of time you can hear the hard drive buzzing. Oh yes, it is user friendly but does it have to be so big and involved with this constant disc access and processing? Everybody moans about the time that modern computers take to boot up. Yet you can switch on a mobile telephone and it boots up really quickly. You surf the internet on a Windows PC and you can hear your hard disc buzzing away whilst the operating system is doing things in the background. I wonder whether all this processing activity is actually necessary. We all know about the secret files that Windows makes on your computer and all the other routines that it runs. There are other operating systems available and a version of Linux on the Asus Eee PC is claimed to boot up in 20 to 25 seconds. You can always use a Live CD that was given away free with a Linux computer magazine or download one of the many from the List of Live Distros on Wikipedia to insert into the CD drive of your desktop or laptop computer.

There is always a lot of bloated software about giving the user ease of use that is not always necessary. Remember, there are other ways of accessing the internet and mobile phones, radios and televisions do not take ages to boot up and then run loads of routines throughout your surfing session.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Revolving doors.

I am happy in my day job but there are other employees who constantly moan about the job, how they claim it is getting worse and that it is time for them to move on to a better job. Staff turnover is a big problem in my workplace. I tell them that they will not find better work nearby and that we are at the top of the tree. However, these employees will not listen to me and they believe that the grass is greener on the other side.

People come and go but some come back when they find out that they have jumped from the frying pan into the fire. Next Monday a former employee returns to my workplace and he used to moan big time. This is not the first time this guy has done a U turn, this will be the second time he has come back! There are other employees who have come back twice , so he is not the first to do a double U turn. Give him a fortnight and he will be back to his usual miserable self predicting future doom in our workplace.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Demise of al-Qa'eda in sight, US official says.

A senior United States counter-terrorism official has declared that the demise of al-Qa'eda is in sight, as the terrorist group's failure to adapt its violent ideology and tactics has provoked growing dissent across the Islamic world. The uprising by Sunni tribes against al-Qa'eda in Iraq, combined with protests in northern African countries against suicide bombings and dissent from clerics and former terrorists have put the group's leadership on the defensive as never before, said the official.

...Well, I think this guy is talking out of the back of his arse! The global situation changes daily and to talk up the small daily advances in the war against terror is naive. The Sunni al-Qa'eda militants in Iraq have changed sides only because the Americans are paying them wages to become security guards. The Sunni militants in Iraq still hate the Shia's and do not mind who is paying them. The highest bidder generally gets the support and manpower, everywhere in the world. In Afghanistan the Taliban simply buys in local support as and when it is required.

al-Qa-eda will always recruit people who are disillusioned in the same way that diet clubs recruit new members every week. The message and the motivations are similar, with their charismatic leaders preaching to their new recruits about how they have suffered in their struggle against fat or the infidels. Diet clubs have their quiet periods when membership drops but they also have their big surges, when the cause becomes popular again. The weather can change quickly, just like their support but they are never far away and somebody local to you will always show you how easy it is to join. That is the way people are, the world over - dieters or terrorists. Movements go in phases but are never forgotten. To claim that the demise of al-Qa'eda is in sight, is simply naive. Anybody with any knowledge of Islam will understand that this is just a quieter time in world history.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Seren Restaurant, a Turkish restaurant in Cardiff.

Gail and I enjoy eating out once a week. We both enjoy our food and we try lots of different pubs in the area. We wanted to try something a little different today so we tried the Seren Restaurant , 146, Cowbridge Rd East, Cardiff, CF11 9ND - Tel: 029 2022 6242

The Seren Restaurant is in the heart of Canton, a popular shopping area to the west of Cardiff city centre. We were attracted to it because it serves Turkish food and we have had 3 lovely holidays in Turkey. They do a set price 2 course lunch menu for £6.50 - all Turkish favourites. What a treat this was, forget being in Canton, you could imagine that you were back in Bodrum! The background music and the smells coming from the kitchen reminded us of our holidays.

The food is how I remember it from Turkey, it was not watered down for British tastes. Having grown accustomed to traditional British pub lunches this meal came like a bolt out of the blue! The range of tastes and flavours just hits your palette and you think WOW! I had a special yogurt as a starter with mint and dill. The Turks have a way of cooking Lamb with numerous herbs and spices that gives me such joy. This was washed down with my Turkish holiday favourite Efes lager beer.

We were very pleased with our lunch and will be pleased to go back there again. It was a good menu with plenty of choice of starter. The main courses were different preparations of chicken and lamb, plus a vegetarian option. What a lovely change from the usual boring British fayre.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Some people have no respect.

In the newspaper yesterday is the story of Keith Hirst, who is a 54-year-old plumber. Mr Hirst said he was tapped on the shoulder by a police community support officer as he walked to the chemist at lunchtime on April 21. The officer accused him of dropping the core – which Mr Hirst denied – and demanded his name and address.

"I told him I was on my way to the shops, but would be walking back that way if he wanted to speak to me later. He followed through the precinct to the chemist.

"When I came out there were five police officers surrounding me. I said I had done nothing wrong and so was not telling them who I was."

He was arrested and spent 18 hours in a police cell and had his DNA and fingerprints taken.

...Well, what a stupid and arrogant man he is. Police Community Support Officers are the budget choice of our government to provide cheaper policing. Yet Mr Hirst could not be bothered to respect this officer who was doing the job he is paid for. You hear of problems of young people not respecting others as they challenge authority but this guy is 54 years of age. You cannot ignore people doing their jobs like Mr Hirst has clearly done. The Police were correct to arrest and detain this arrogant little man. I have no sympathy for him at all - our laws apply to everyone and litter is an avoidable nuisance that should be stopped at source.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris .

I have just finished reading Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris. It was published in paperback in 2008 and was featured as one of the books in this year's Richard & Judy Book Club . The book is set in an advertising agency in Chicago around 2001. It details the office politics, banter, gossip and pranks that take place during a time when this advertising agency is laying off it's staff. The last chapter jumps forward to the year 2006 to describe how the characters have moved on in those 5 years.

I was disappointed by this book, I paid £8 for it, so I read it to the end. Had this book been passed on to me for free I would have abandoned it after just 15 minutes. I thought it was poor, very bland and it had no depth. The dialogue was very childish, done in the style of Vicky Pollard, one of the Little Britain characters . The plot was weak and shallow, told in a long winded and tedious fashion. This book is a lightweight. I was looking for a witty workplace drama along the lines of the excellent TV programme Moving Wallpaper but this book failed my hopes for an entertaining read, big time.

I would not recommend this book to anyone or read another book written by Joshua Ferris. This book should never have been chosen for the Richard & Judy Book Club.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Cripes! Boris takes London.

In a major coup which handed David Cameron a landmark double election victory, Mr Johnson won 1,168,738 votes (53 per cent) to Mr Livingstone's 1,028,966 (47 per cent) after the second preferences of people who backed the other eight candidates were redistributed to the two front-runners. Mr Johnson won 1,043,761 first-preference votes, Mr Livingstone 893,877. Brian Paddick, the Liberal Democrat candidate, trailed in third with 236,685. There was a record 45% voter turn out in the London election.

...Well the votes are in and have been verified. What a local government election shock it has been for me to witness. Labour has done badly, very badly indeed. Look at the results for the English Metropolitan Districts , English Non Metropolitan Districts, English Unitary Authorities and the Welsh Councils , giving the worst election results for Labour over the last 40 years.

Labour has lost a lot of ground here in Wales and I was very surprised that Boris Johnson has been elected Mayor of London. I am very disappointed by the voter apathy in these local elections. It was a record 45% voter turn out in London but this figure is a disgrace. We have virtually no say in how our government works in our country, all we get is the odd vote after a few years. Yet 55% of the population cannot be bothered to get off their backsides to record a token vote, one way or the other every few years. I am disgusted with this level of voter apathy. I suspect that in private our elected politicians are laughing at the population, knowing that unless something really drastic happens, their jobs are really safe and they are not accountable to their electorate. What is the point of a democracy if only 45% of the population can be bothered to vote every few years?

I think that 1,168,738 Londoners have made the wrong choice in voting for a clown as Mayor of London but at least they voted! When things in London get worse under the leadership of Boris, I will have no sympathy at all for the 55% of Londoners who did not bother to vote.

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