Clare O'Beara's Blog

January 20, 2019

The Old Blue Pickup Truck by Candice Ransom Wishing all my readers a good New Year! We spent Christmas in Wales and Somerset, a relaxing break away from work, computers and stress, catching up with family and friends (and with reading). When we arrived at Bristol Airport, the car hire firm had allocated all their cars, so we were handed the keys to a four-door, four-wheel-drive giant pickup truck.

Bristol Beyond the Bridge The Turbulent Story of Redcliffe, Temple and St.Thomas from the Middle Ages to Today by Michael Manson I was happy to accept the challenge, given that I drive a van normally and the pickup had good mirrors. As my husband commented though, many drivers would not have wanted to take on such a behemoth. We also had issues like the truck being half-automatic, keyless start, and unwilling to lock unless it was satisfied about every tiny detail. Great fun. The suspension bridge between Bristol and South Wales has finally been made toll-free so this made the drive all the sweeter.

Bartolomé Mitre Biografia (Historia Argentina) by Miguel Ángel De Marco Last month I started describing a lecture on the novel in Trinity College by visiting fellow Professor Barry McCrea (Notre Dame). We were told that drama was the foundation of the Irish literature tradition and the development of the novel here came about only after the overthrow of colonisation.
“The novel is the highest expression of a people’s civilisation”
according to Bartolome Mitre – Argentine politician, soldier, author and historian.

The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer Minor languages, meaning those surviving colonisation by people with a dominant language for instance, have many poets and few novels. Folk histories were oral traditions, then medieval collections of tales coagulated into novels. When I told my mother this she riposted “Chaucer”, but I said I’d thought of that, but The Canterbury Tales was actually a collection of short stories unified. Other examples that come to my mind would be The Decameron by Giovanni Boccaccio The Decameron, and The Odyssey, the Voyages of Sinbad, A Thousand and One Nights, the deeds of Finn and the Fianna, Robin Hood. Prof McCrae told us Ireland was headed that way until colonisation. Ireland produced many fine poets. Today, he said, Irish language poetry is being written by second-language speakers while native Gaelic speakers are writing novels.

Finnegans Wake by James Joyce A novel needs to be in a plausible language setting. He suggested the ‘encounter with a stranger’ key narrative tool. We would not hail a stranger in Irish as they might well not speak it. Finnegans Wake does this, using phonetic Irish which makes the dialogue read very oddly to those who take it as English and signifying an agenda. An example given was addressing someone with “Guinness thaw tool” for “Conas ata tu” meaning “how are you?” The Dirty Dust Cré na Cille by Máirtín Ó Cadhain In modern novels the vernacular words have shrunk and are not generally understood. The tale could be set in an alternate world in which the minor language is spoken. An example given was a graveyard in which the dead and buried speak as they did while alive: Cre na Cille, Graveyard Clay by Mairtin O’Cadhain.

An Béal Bocht by Myles na gCopaleen TV soaps can be created but dialects have to be mixed as actors come together. Geography is also part of language representation; An Beal Bocht, or The Poor Mouth, is a satire and anti-novel, which represents absurdity. This occurs through a fictional district in the west, linking places that are actually on the north, west and south of the island.

Great Expectations by Charles Dickens Social class is also represented through dialogue. In Great Expectations Pip spoke as a blacksmith’s son but by the end he was a gentleman with a new way of speaking. The German term bildung for social mobility gave novels their category of bildungromance. When lower class people are socially advanced, they gain the language to describe their former lives. I see this in many British social history novels. The Country Girls (The Country Girls Trilogy, #1) by Edna O'Brien The Country Girls also transitions from rural Gaelic to English. This was written by Edna O’Brien in 1960 and will be the One City One Book choice for Dublin during 2019.

L'amica geniale (L'amica geniale, #1) by Elena Ferrante An Italian novel by Elena Ferrante, L’amica Geniale or My Brilliant Friend, is located in Naples, where the rich spoke Italian in the 1950s but the poor spoke in local dialect. The novel is all written in Italian with “she said in dialect” added as needed.

Friends in High Places (Commissario Brunetti, #9) by Donna Leon Actually, I was told by a friend some time ago that prior to WW1 most Italians spoke their own dialect which had evolved at the time of warring nation-states, despite the Tuscan version of the language being declared official upon unification in 1861. (Tuscany being wealthy and fertile in the north and the southerly states having a lot more mountain.) During WW1 the generals discovered that troops from various areas could not understand orders or communicate with one another, so a determined effort had to be made to superimpose Italian, with older folks clinging to a dialect, as in Donna Leon’s books about modern Venice.

Ulysses by James Joyce Boomtime fiction explores economic advances while stagnation fiction shows no changes, as in Joyce (or Steinbeck) just exploring the day. A minor language may be left behind, like an immigrant needing to use the language of the new country. The ecosystem of this language shrinks and it no longer possesses rungs on the social ladder.

Rosemary and Rue (October Daye, #1) by Seanan McGuire During question time I mentioned that some fantasy novelists are drawing on Irish when they bring the hidden world of the Sidhe into contact with modern day, as it would be quite natural for the Sidhe to speak Gaelic still. I cited Seanan McGuire and Peadar O’Guilean. However, I said modern readers are not expected to read paragraphs in Irish and only a few phrases might be used, so Prof McCrae likened this to Tolkien’s use of Elvish. The Call (The Call #1) by Peadar Ó Guilín Another point was that a minority language can be spoken by the elite, like French being spoken at the Russian court or Catalan being the tongue of the mercantile class of Spaniards. This was a fascinating talk and a great opportunity for me to learn.

Next month I’ll tell you how I recently learned to make a podcast and a music video in my journalism degree course.

Murder at Irish Mensa (Mensa Mystery Series, #1) by Clare O'Beara Murder at Irish Mensa – which visits Trinity College – will be free to download from 24th – 26th January.

If you enjoy a book please leave a review, which helps other readers.
Visit my website:
for news, puzzles, books, reviews and events. I blog there on venues with good disability access. I am also adding book covers to Pinterest boards after I review the books, so feel free to find me on Pinterest.
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December 23, 2018

Dining Out On Planet Mercury by Clare O'Beara Season’s Greetings! And a gift of books! The last few months have flown as college work became faster paced and assignments like making podcasts and feature articles took my time. Next year promises to provide even more fun.

Murder at Irish Mensa (Mensa Mystery Series, #1) by Clare O'Beara I managed to squeeze in a lecture in Trinity College by visiting fellow Professor Barry McCrea (Notre Dame), who told us that the novel came about with the rise of middle classes, and chronicles upward mobility or gain of wealth, with occasional downward mobility shown too.

World Without End (Kingsbridge, #2) by Ken Follett Well, it makes sense that prior to end of feudalism, there were only royalty/ landowners and commoners, who didn’t trade places. When people had a chance to be upwardly mobile (other than joining religious orders) it was by marriage or treasure seeking, and they were not always accepted by society.

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens The middle classes of prosperous merchants and specialists became a way to rise acceptably, and people like Dickens showed us Oliver Twist to contrast the impoverished many with the more comfortable middle class they could hope to attain. We also heard about language in this social context of the novel and I will return to that discussion in January.

Grand Central Arena (Grand Central Arena, #1) by Ryk E. Spoor Recently on Sci Fi and Heroic Fantasy forum we have been recommending optimistic SF, and a member pointed out that most of the recent books are pessimistic. I came up with a few recent optimistic options: Ryk Spoor is recent, and Paul Bussard, and some authors who write lighter adventures, like James Austin McCormick.

Divergent (Divergent, #1) by Veronica Roth Many women, though, have turned to writing urban fantasy and shapeshifter romances (which may or may not be crime stories too) not involving tech. I have bemoaned the fact that most YA SF is now dystopian, like Divergent, sometimes horror as well like Maze Runner. Many men and some women are writing military SF. Dystopias and threat by AI feature largely in near future tales. I'm not even going to go as far as the zombie and flesh-eating bug stories, which I do not read.

Disaster Capitalism by Antony Loewenstein So I agree that a great deal of today's SF writing is bleak. The economic recession and impoverishment of middle classes, reducing prospects of social advancement, the natural disasters caused by climate change, and human depletion of biodiversity have a lot to do with this, in my view.

Ready Player One (Ready Player One, #1) by Ernest Cline SF has always been not just about exploring, but warning. What might the world be like with electronic surveillance? With wage slaves and climate change forcing poorer choices and lower standards of living? With no way to leave the planet in the face of humanity-killing disaster?

Beyond Hercules by Paul A. Bussard Bleak SF, like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? needs to be written and read. However, I don't need fiction for bleak reading. Factual reading about the environment gives me that. So lighter, enjoyable fiction can provide a break. One which helps us keep our sanity and gives us a reason to keep striving for better. Like this fun video on how to build a Dyson sphere.

Dining Out with the Ice Giants (Dining Out Around The Solar System, #2) by Clare O'Beara While my own books are set in a future which some readers call dystopian, I try to highlight the good points of life, like friendship, love, learning, helping others, enjoying literature, personal successes. I'm certainly not the only one.

A Christmas Gift for Rose by Tricia Goyer As a Christmas gift to my readers I am making Dining Out On Planet Mercury and winter themed Dining Out With The Ice Giants free to download on Kindle. If you don’t own a Kindle you can download a free Kindle app to your computer or phone.

Dining Out On Planet Mercury is only available on 26th December.
Dining Out With The Ice Giants is available 25th – 27th December.

If you enjoy a book please leave a review, which helps other readers.
Visit my website:
for news, puzzles, books, reviews and events. I am also adding book covers to Pinterest boards after I review the books, so feel free to find me on Pinterest.
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Published on December 23, 2018 06:27 • 10 views • Tags: dublin, dystopia, future, literature, middle-class, novel, prosperity, science-fiction, sf

November 11, 2018

Unseen Academicals (Discworld, #37; Rincewind #8) by Terry Pratchett Recently I attended a special Terry Pratchett talk as part of Culture Night in the Trinity College Long Room Hub. The Librarian, who enjoyed showing an orang-utan image, told us about Trinity’s enormous and varied Pratchett collection. The Legal Deposit requirement means that a copy of every edition of every work published in UK and Ireland has been presented to Trinity, adding up to 350 from this author.

I Shall Wear Midnight (Discworld, #38; Tiffany Aching, #4) by Terry Pratchett Further, Pratchett’s agent Colin Smythe, a former student at TCD, had gifted the library with 2000 works. They took a team six months to catalogue. The items included films in video and DVD, computer games, plays, as well as paper books. Trinity had conferred a degree on Pratchett, who fell in love with the Long Room Library and joined the Department of Industry.

Hogfather (Discworld, #20; Death, #4) by Terry Pratchett Records for the library included geography, illustrators, translators, editors. Josh Kirby was the most common artist. Some names were the same for two people and had to be separated. Colin Smythe had kept an Index for his agenting work which was a great resource. German was the most popular language, but no books appeared in Irish.
Scripts included non-Roman ones, like Georgian, with some odd fonts, and titles were changed to fit. For instance, Papa Puerco was Hogfather. Chinese and Japanese characters were also found.

Witches Abroad (Discworld, #12; Witches #3) by Terry Pratchett This is an ongoing Smythe donation, so every year there is another box arriving around Christmas. 1864 items included 1700 print books, 67 audio books, 12 DVDs and 9CDs. The metadata is enormous.

The Long Earth (The Long Earth, #1) by Terry Pratchett World Cat is a university and public library catalogue from all around the world. 2673 Pratchett works are listed in 73 languages and TCD now has more languages. Also, critical works are collected, and TCD now has 90% of all these known works. There is a Wikipedia workshop and a translation centre which can access the works at Trinity.

A Hat Full of Sky (Discworld, #32; Tiffany Aching, #2) by Terry Pratchett During questions, our librarian confirmed that Harry Potter appears in Irish but no Pratchett works. He has only had time to read a portion of the collection. As to digitising, videotapes can degrade over time so the team can digitise them to enhance access, but needs to preserve the original item.

Virtual Reality Specialist by Kelly Milner Halls We attended a Virtual Reality Meetup. This was my second time attending. We saw various entrepreneurs and graphics studios around Ireland presenting their work. Jonathan Swift wandering around the Long Room Library at Trinity College and answering questions, was one finished effort. Presumably Prince Harry and Meghan Markle saw Samuel Beckett by Anthony Cronin this during their visit. Samuel Beckett’s Play has been re-enacted for VR so the viewer can control which of the cast speaks their lines next. A group showed us a virtual person walking around their studios.

Road Safety by Christie Marlowe I tried out a road safety demo – I took the part of a young man who has a drink in the pub and then goes out to collect a friend in his car. Wham, the car is upside down, ambulance and police are helping him, next thing he is sitting in court. I was able to look up and down the courtroom while the judge spoke. Coasters 101 An Engineering Guide to Roller Coaster Design by Nick Weisenberger My husband tried a more entertaining experience and went on a virtual roller coaster ride. This was a really interesting and educational event.

October meant Octocon where I was on the crew both days and sitting on the panel about dragons. I can tell you the winner of the Golden Blasters Best of the Decade was short film Einstein-Rosen. I love it! We had a great time.

The Truth (Discworld, #25; Industrial Revolution, #2) by Terry Pratchett That was a busy month and we’re looking forward to Christmas. Another short film I recommend watching is this one made by Greenpeace, read by Emma Thompson, which the supermarket Iceland was going to run as its Christmas campaign - but it was banned for being too political. Who would think an orang-utan and a little girl would be banned?
Orang Utan's Playtime by Jessie Cohen

Rodeo Finn by Clare O'Beara Time for a horse book to be free. This month you can download Rodeo Finn from Amazon Kindle 16th – 19th November. Finn, a horse-mad teen girl from a dairy farm in Ireland, faces up to challenges in Ireland and in Arizona. If you download, please consider leaving a review.

Visit my website for news, puzzles, books, reviews and events; also my blog on places with good disability access. I am adding book covers to Pinterest boards after I review the books, so feel free to find me on Pinterest.
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Published on November 11, 2018 13:37 • 17 views • Tags: catalogue, culture-night, dublin, greenpeace, horse, librarian, library, octocon, orang-utan, palm-oil, sf, terry-pratchett, trinity-college, virtual-reality

October 6, 2018

A Natural History of Dragons (The Memoirs of Lady Trent, #1) by Marie BrennanEdit: free SF book! Octocon is the Irish National SF&F Convention and this year is the lead in to Dublin’s WorldCon in 2019. I’m a panel member of the Dragon Panel on Saturday 20th; from the draft schedule:
A Breath of Fire: Everything is Better with Dragons - Saturday 11am – 12pm.
Is there anything that can’t be made better with dragons? Our panellists discuss the popularity of dragons. Why do they feature in so many different mythologies, what are the best recent depictions, and how do they fly anyway?
Panellists: Diane Duane, Diane Duane Peter Morwood, Peter Morwood Catherine Sharp (moderator), Clare O'Beara, Clare O'Beara Gerry McEvoy.

I’m also representing Fresh Fiction, and below is my report for Fresh Fiction on the 2017 Octocon.

Recently I attended a special Terry Pratchett Terry Pratchett talk as part of Culture Night in the Trinity College Long Room Hub. The Librarian, who enjoyed showing an orang-utan image, told us about Trinity’s enormous and varied Pratchett collection; I’ll describe it next month.

Octocon 2017

The Irish National Science Fiction Convention was held at Camden Court Hotel in Dublin in October 2017. I attended to represent Fresh Fiction. Areas included a dealer room and panel rooms, signing and photo opportunities (with no fees), boardgames, RPGs and socialising. The theme was the Dune novels, so rooms were named after Dune (Dune Chronicles, #1) by Frank Herbert planets such as Arrakis or Caladan. In the dealer room I found fascinating arts and crafts, comics, books from independent authors and a stand from the sponsor Hodges Figgis. Chatting with the staff I learned that HF is the oldest bookstore in Ireland. That week they had a special window display to promote Octocon and its author guests.

You Are What You Wear What Your Clothes Reveal About You by Jennifer Baumgartner Octocon got off to a flying start with the panel on Future Fashions. Joint Guest Of Honour Nik Vincent-Abnett is a game writer and novelist from England. She asked for developments to make clothing useful, for instance interacting with home heating. Panellists agreed that clothes could be attuned to the needs of diabetics, or display in accordance with mood hormones and could have circuits embedded. Printed circuits may react with medical procedures such as an MRI scanner; but wearable tech is removable. Clothes could have inbuilt SPF to protect against sunburn. Must Love Chainmail (Must Love, #2) by Angela Quarles Nik asked for equal clothing rights in videogames. She complained that women characters get given chainmail bikinis while men are in full armour. She has worked in game devops and says it is all male oriented.

Chicks in Chainmail (Chicks in Chainmail, #1) by Esther M. Friesner Deirdre Thornton suggested three-d printed clothes could be on the way. Designers could make the designs available to be purchased. Other comments included that in books or film, clothing styles can be political or military and uniforms can be imposed.

Threads of Faith (Fabric of Time #2) by Andrea Boeshaar In a post-apocalyptic world, though, natural fibres would be needed. Nettles and flax were staple fibres of the Irish clothing industry, said Deirdre, who has a degree in history. Clothes makers would be highly valued and cloth might be rationed. Society passed making and mending skills from mother to daughter, so single men would be at a disadvantage. With today’s tendency to treat clothes as disposable and their manufacture harming the environment, mending skills are being lost. The panel agreed that people always want variety, and advertising on their clothes could go to extremes. I asked about RFIDs in clothing allowing marketers to follow the customers around. The panel agreed that privacy issues need to be revisited.

Monsters or Aliens was another panel I attended. Author Jo Zebedee Jo Zebedee has written about aliens invading Belfast and destroying a lot of the city. Allen Stroud has a PhD in monsters in F&SF. Inish Carraig by Jo Zebedee He said that the dragon is an apex predator, showing that we cannot domesticate everything. Urban fantasy challenges archetypes with new softer, sparklier vampires. The panel said that monsters which are close to humans are creepier than those which are animal forms. They also agreed that monsters won’t obliterate all life on the planet, since they live here too, but aliens might decide they wanted a different kind of atmosphere. Jo thought that aliens come down to archetypes of the big lizards or green men variety too often.

Abendau's Heir by Jo Zebedee Taking SF to other worlds allows writers a chance to create a relatable rationalised world which is different to our experience. We may also see our own world through an alien’s viewpoint. I asked about the alien as allegory, because that is what I am writing. Jo agreed that her writing allowed her to shine a new light on Northern Ireland. Allen felt that allegory can be very powerful and cited the TV series Alien Nation.

Another panel called The Robot Will See You Now looked at medicine. Oisin McGann YA author, wants to see smart devices added to wheelchairs, and chatbots to interact with people with dementia. Oisin McGann Carol Connolly, author, said robots had better not be like our phones, continually trying to sell her upgrades. Automation and old age are both expanding, but new tech requires constant upskilling and it would be harder for older users to adapt to frequent changes. Carol said while a robot to chat to a person with dementia is not ideal, it would give the person company and it would not get bored or annoyed. Robot diagnostics are constantly improving and don’t get tired or have biases. Oisín said a hospital diagnosis form he saw now includes ‘Have you been in space?’ as a valid query about bone density loss. Concerns were raised about hacking medical devices like a pacemaker or insulin pump. The Internet of Things has poor security.

How far can we travel? Was the subject of another panel. Peter Morwood explained that when we leave Earth we are towing all the resources we are going to have. Rules of Engagement by Peter Morwood So a sustainable human expedition needs a big caravan of supplies. We could capture an asteroid, hollow it and make it into a spaceship, cannibalising it for resources. The panel asked if we have the right to just take what we need, colonise or threaten others? The Outer Space Treaty was cited, which says that no nation can own a celestial body but it can go to a body and extract resources. The panel agreed that ethical arguments may be made but people will always justify their actions.

The Warlord's Domain (Book of Years, No 4) by Peter Morwood Spacefaring humans could outlive Planet Earth in multigenerational ships or colonies but due to the expansion of the universe, if two ships head off in opposite directions, eventually they will never be able to talk to each another again. The concept of space Mongol Hordes versus space Federations was discussed. Resettlement was seen as likely to occur in response to population pressure or need for workers.

I particularly enjoyed The New Heroes Superhuman (New Heroes/Quantum Prophecy, #3.5) by Michael Carroll Michael Carroll’s solo talk as a Comics Writer, for Judge Dredd and superheroes. Using a slideshow he explained the business of writing, which mainly consists of sitting down, cancelling distractions and getting on with it. Judge Dredd Year One The Cold Light of Day by Michael Carroll He said that 99% of the world’s writing money probably goes to 1% of writers. However, it’s a big market and has never been bigger. “People will forget what you told them, even what you did for them, but not how you made them feel,” he quoted.

Judge Dredd Year Two Omnibus (Judge Dredd The Early Years) by Michael Carroll Research, fascinating and necessary, is capable of slowing down the writer and stopping the forward motion of the story. For this reason, Michael advised getting the first draft down and coming back later to make the prose perfect and do the research. If you don’t know what kind of submarine to describe, use square brackets around [submarine] so later you can do a search for [ and find anything that needs data. He also advised that this can stop you getting stuck when the writer doesn’t know how the characters get out of a situation. Write [they get out of trap] and proceed.

The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, #2) by Rick Riordan The party on Saturday night was lively as ever with many comic-book characters as well as sparkly dancers. The décor and music of course were chosen to suit, and after Thriller (when I pretended to be scared by a bat hanging down from the ceiling) we enjoyed Thunderstruck which gave Thor a chance to show off his hammer.

Dan Abnett On Sunday I attended the Couples Who Write panel. Last year’s GOHs Diane Duane and Peter Morwood, who live in Wicklow, swapped experiences with this year’s GOHs Nik and Dan Abnett. Diane said their first collaboration was a Star Trek novel which they wrote on honeymoon because Diane had contracted for it and only had sixteen days to write it. The Romulan Way (Star Trek Rihannsu, #2) by Diane Duane The Romulan Way spent eight weeks on the NYT bestseller list.

Ghostmaker (Gaunt's Ghosts, #2) by Dan Abnett Dan said that writing is very solitary, but collaboration involves handing packets of work back and forth and discussing it. Getting into computer games means more human interaction as he visits game studios and sees the game developing. Working as a couple, you understand each other’s ideas and thought processes, but working with other people can slow you down. Both pairs found a director can take it for granted that the man is the senior partner, when it varies with individual experience. Both women take care of the business end of the process. They take joint responsibility for any criticism.

Doctor Who The Silent Stars Go By by Dan Abnett As freelancers, the Abnetts could not refuse work, part of why they collaborate. They have individually preferred areas. Dan wrote comics for ten years, including Doctor Who, before novels; comics are famously unagented. In comics, he said that reboots of characters happened every six years, because that is the lifetime of the new young comic reader. Now the couple are writing novelisations for Torchwood, a BBC series. Diane and Peter each write separate novel series.

Doctor Who The Story of Martha by Dan Abnett Dan and Nik recalled one year when they were so rushed, they had six days off including Christmas. They decided not to do that again. Dan learned seven years ago that he had epilepsy, meaning overwork and stress is out. They get out of the house and take breaks. Diane and Peter schedule breaks once a month for travel, cooking, website work and Cons. At Cons, they like to get out of the hotel and explore the city.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies The Graphic Novel by Seth Grahame-Smith I greatly enjoyed meeting old friends and making new ones. Some visitors brought short films they had produced to the international Golden Blasters Awards. The audience watched these films and voted for their favourite, and the panel of judges decided all the other awards. This year the winner on both accounts was a Spanish film called Einstein-Rosen, a charming story of a little boy who discovers a wormhole, to his brother’s astonishment. Other popular films included Dead Air about an Irish local radio station still broadcasting after the zombie apocalypse, and Made of Meat, about two aliens visiting Earth who can’t imagine how the natives communicate, given their obvious shortcomings. A special award was made to Dan Abnett for his creative achievements.

The supported charity was Seal Rescue Ireland so everyone had a chance to learn about risks to the seals around Irish coasts. With the WorldCon 2019 on its way to Dublin, the mood was very good and the hard working Octocon team deserve many thanks.
To celebrate Octocon, I have made a book free in my SF series.

Dining Out On Planet Mercury by Clare O'Beara
Dining Out On Planet Mercury
Free during Octocon! Grab it 19th - 22nd October.
And folks, I would really appreciate a review, even a couple of words.

When a girl from Mercury is suspected of murder, the police need Irish journalist and hacker Donal as interpreter.
Off-world workers are being exploited in more ways than one.
With a British Parliamentary election under way, the police need to keep fear and suspicion from getting out of hand.
At such times, not even London’s Eye reporters are safe. Can Donal and his Jafraican colleague Myron uncover the truth?
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Published on October 06, 2018 06:47 • 49 views • Tags: ai, alien, author, awards, clothing, comics, convention, dragons, dublin, fantasy, films, ireland, medical-robots, monster, octocon, panel, sf, space-travel, writer

September 22, 2018

Anu The Nomad Years by Shabnam Vasisht This month we attended the opening of a beautiful exhibition of mixed media art and poetry. Shabnam Vasisht author and artist, had produced a range of artwork collages of fabrics and materials like a peacock tail feather, which were matched by poetry from Irish poet and journalist Cathy Dillon. Their exhibition in a Bray art gallery was opened by Her Excellency Mrs Vijay Thakur Singh, the Ambassador of India. The two ladies also created a book.
ANU The Celtic Years by Shabnam Vasisht The Single Nest contains the poetry and colour photos of the collages. Some of the poems speak of life experience or festivals and others of major events, such as the Air India plane crash near Ireland. The Indian and Irish cultures are contrasted and complement each other.

Anu The Raj Years by Shabnam Vasisht
Shabnam has also written a five-book biography of her late mother Anu Vasisht, from student in India to Army wife, teacher, mother, school principal, world traveller, then retiree in Ireland. See my reviews.

Dewey The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron A recent Goodreads blog asked if we can manage a book-buying hiatus to catch up on the To Be Reads.
I'm in three libraries, one for college so I have to read from that one. On Net Galley I get e-ARCs for review. These vanish off the computer after a time so they need to get read. However there is usually a stack of them on the computer awaiting me. I try to have only books I actually own / have on the computer/ Kindle, on my Goodreads To Read list.

1001 Batty Books A Collision of Book Titles and Awful Authors by Derek Good So do I get time to read my owned TBRs? Not easy, given that I buy for myself and my husband and often want to read his books. I often buy secondhand because that way I get more books for the money. Specially wanted books are bought new. The main rule is not to buy hardbacks unless it's a very old book, and not to buy trade paperbacks very often, because these occupy too much room on the bookshelves. We recently built two bookcases (flat packs) to move books downstairs. I have not read all of the books yet. There are many more upstairs awaiting me.

The World's Strongest Librarian A Memoir of Tourette's, Faith, Strength, and the Power of Family by Josh Hanagarne When we are sure we are finished with a book, either I trade it for bookstore credit or it gets released into the wild for other readers. A college bookshelf or charity shop. Otherwise we would be buried under books by now. Recycle This Book by Dan Gutman The book buying hiatus is easy if I don't have much money; but that can drive me to the library again despite the fact that the books at home are miserable and feel unwanted....

Why Should I Recycle? by Jen Green Speaking of piles of stuff, I decluttered some old computer equipment that was lying around the house, prior to college starting again. The dodgy PC cleaned of files, old printer / scanner, and two CRT monitors went to recycling land. I had been keeping the monitors in case a screen in use broke, but we have one each and they are LED. The weight and bulk of the old equipment was amazing compared to the new items in use.

Recycled Home by Mark Bailey Our technology is constantly moving to be smaller, faster, lighter, smarter and to use less energy. If you are in doubt, ask yourself how often you would want to carry this old item up and down the stairs.

Recycling by Stephen Livingston With the big stuff on the way out, it was time to reduce the number of old keyboards, cables and mice too. As my husband pointed out, even the connections on these peripherals are too old now, and we are really not going to go back to something ancient and sticky. A Street Cat Named Bob How One Man and His Cat Found Hope on the Streets by James Bowen We did keep a couple of items. Just in case. We have cats, and cats jump on keyboards.

ReCycled by Richard SmithIf you are taking such items to the recycling depot, and you want to say goodbye to anything that served you well (writers are strange), do it as you load them. When you get to the depot a cheerful worker will whip them up as you unload them, and they will be just part of the great debris pile we all generate and recycle into recoverable resources.
The old computer could come back to you as a fitness watch. But it can’t have a new life until you let it go.

Murder At Wicklow Mensa (Mensa Mystery Series #5) by Clare O'Beara
As we have come to September, let’s make an end of summer book free to download. Murder At Wicklow Mensa will be free 27 - 30 September.

If you enjoy a book please leave a review, which helps other readers.
Visit my website for news, puzzles, books, reviews and events; also my blog on places with good disability access. I am adding book covers to Pinterest boards after I review the books, so feel free to find me on Pinterest.
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Published on September 22, 2018 09:42 • 64 views • Tags: art, artist, books, bookshelves, cat, collage, computer, declutter, fabric, india, ireland, library, recycle, wicklow

August 25, 2018

Dining Out with the Gas Giants (Dining Out Around The Solar System, #3) by Clare O'Beara Managing The Machine was the title of a talk by Dr Genevieve Bell from Australia at Trinity College. This highly interesting and entertaining lady told us how she studied Anthropology in Australia, then moved to Stanford in California to complete her PhD. Amusingly a chat with a guy in a bar led to her being phoned at home by Intel, who had rung around colleges asking for the contact details of a red-headed female Australian anthropologist.

Computer Science Illuminated by Nell B. Dale What Intel needed was social sciences, their female staff member explained during a meeting. They had computer engineers and most of them were male. They wanted help with two issues: women, and the rest of the world. This was 1998 and Intel (who specialised in semi-conductor manufacturing) were trying to work out how to sell computers to women. Rest of World was an odd term so Genevieve queried it. World turned out to mean America, so RoW meant everywhere else “and you’re from there.”

Silicon Valley by Eva de Valk At this point Genevieve was on college staff and had never thought of leaving education. But she realised that by working with Silicon Valley she had a unique chance to influence the future of society and help many more people. She worked with Intel for eighteen years so she now calls herself an anthropologist, technologist and futurist. She has returned to education as the Australian National University invited her back, saying it needed people who’d had outside careers for the Innovation Institute.

We are now in the fourth wave Industrial Revolution.
1 Mechanisation and steam power.
2 Mass production and assembly lines, electricity.
3 Computers and automation of many jobs.
4 Cyber physical systems and the Internet of Things.

Three Adventures Of The Scarlet Pimpernel by Emmuska Orczy The changes have occurred on different timescales in different countries. Often they accumulated and did not replace previous systems.
In France, within months of killing the King and decentring priesthood, the central education system changed from monasteries to polytechnics. The School of Engineering was established in 1794. The authority system had broken down so scientists were assembled and told that intellect must drive the nation forward. Switzerland and the US were next to set up similar science establishments. West Point’s Army Corps of Engineers was the first US engineering school, with all instructors from the Polytechnic in France. All engineers were apprentices. Australia needed engineers for mining in the 1850 – 60s. Turkey established the Sulieman School of Naval Engineering.

Principles of Economics by N. Gregory Mankiw Mass production was about managing capital and this occurred from the 1880s. The University of Philadelphia developed a method of thinking about business money – Gross Domestic Product, Union talks and so on at their School of Business, at the request of business.

The Cosmic Computer by H. Beam Piper From 1946 to the 1960s computers were just faster calculators. By the mid 1960s, IBM and Honeywell were the big computer firms. Languages came along to programme computers - Fortran was developed in 1956 by Honeywell and Cobol in 1960. The US Government therefore depended on two computer firms and their technicians. Stanford worked for two years at developing a general computer language and created Computer Science. In December 1968 the Association for Computer Science in San Francisco handed out a ten page curriculum. This is still standard and every course teaches it.

The Computer and the Brain by John von Neumann Today we need to manage cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things and Artificial intelligence. Autonomous vehicles and smart lifts in buildings, with no buttons, are part of this picture. We need a new applied science. is seeking to develop this science.
Autonomy, Agency, Assurance.
This seeks to frame the right questions rather than to go problem solving.

The Terminator (Terminator Movie Novelisation, #1) by Randall Frakes 1 Autonomy. Systems that don’t need reference to pre-written rules. But this word comes from philosophy and in Western culture is associated with Frankenstein’s monster, or the Terminator, rather than with safety and security. How do people live in this world? What do they like? Learner drivers are on the roads and are not so good as experienced drivers – autonomous cars would need to know. People dislike bots making phone calls.

Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley 2 Nature of agency. What are the limits of a robot or AI’s action? Who determines what it does and will a car crossing a border have to be updated for Brexit? Are the rules to be kept in the car or outside it? Can emergency vehicles override them? Do cars talk to traffic lights or are they on a separate system? We need also consider neo-colonialism as companies’ interests are not everyone’s.

Driverless Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead by Hod Lipson 3 Assurance. Safety and risk – are they left to the judgement of people or machines or both? The German government has a white paper that says the car must be safer for pedestrians than current ones but the maker is liable for damage. Roads would have to be well marked. All road users would use a common rule set. Meanwhile, machine learning users say they can’t really explain how an AI got to the answer.

The Black Box Society The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information by Frank Pasquale 4 Metrics. So far, we see data measuring gives an increase in efficiency and productivity. This does not account for environmental sustainability. Car companies will say it’s used for safety but others say it’s about data collection. “What you measure is what you make.” Computers are energy intensive, server farms now using 10% of the world’s power. What if energy efficient was a key metric? Native peoples may have different ideas about data collection to a foreign firm.

Super #1 Robot Japanese Robot Toys, 1972-1982 by Matt Alt 5 Relationships. Human /computer interactions are changing. An external interface like a keyboard or screen, may be something we wear in or on us. Human skills are enhanced, flying planes through bad weather for instance. We can also have nurturing robots. A robot could do a simulation of empathy to give social care and culture, for instance to the elderly. The Japanese have no expectation of empathy from robots but are fine with using them for elder care or child care. In Japan, Genevieve saw autonomous robots moving goods around and working; they were following tracks near the sidewalk, and a sign saying ‘Autonomous robots’ warned people to keep out of their way. The public don’t have a folk history of Frankenstein stories, so they are fine with this situation. “They’re being autonomous, yes, but it’s okay. The robots are our friends.”

The Woman Who Stopped Traffic by Daniel Pembrey A new discipline is to study this interaction. “She who asks the best questions gets the best conversations and can make a difference.” However, these are human-angled questions. Human priorities and object recognition are not on the computer decision making trees.

Platform Capitalism by Nick Srnicek The twentieth century brought discourses on Capitalism and Democracy. While Capitalism then needed Democracy, it is clear in the twenty-first century that Capitalism no longer needs Democracy. Governments are dismantling and under great financial pressure from firms, so what is the trusted centre? Genevieve says we need to build a better future rather than try to roll back. Technology often reinforces inequities, but more people are living better lives than ever, and to date women have fought to improve life for women, and this needs to continue.

Human Cybernetics (A & B Crime) by Steve King Other questions include what would it take to decolonise AI? Stories of western fiction would be removed. These are a western post-enlightenment construct. She also points out that using queer theory, objects are not one thing or another but can be both, using quantum entanglement. Pattern recognition however tends to be linear: A + B = C. We can allow supervised and unsupervised machine learning, but should insist on transparency of access to data. Cybernetics (how robots move and process problems) presently is being developed separately from AI around the world, including Chile, Russia and Japan. based in the Australian National University, is seeking to develop this applied computer science of the future and would be interested in your questions.
My immediate question is, what do computers want? Would they ask to move out of Australia to somewhere colder? Would they ask for faster connections? What do you think they would ask?

Many thanks to Dr Genevieve Bell and the Trinity College Long Room Hub for this excellent talk.

Die Hugo Awards 1985 - 2000 by Hardy Kettlitz My husband and I also attended an evening chat for volunteers who are helping with the 2019 Dublin WorldCon. The event was held in Hodges Figgis Bookshop on Dawson Street. We came away with posters and leaflets publicising the World Science Fiction Convention, which will be held in the Convention Centre on Dublin’s Docklands.
Murder at Dublin Mensa (Mensa Mystery Series #3) by Clare O'Beara Memberships are being taken now and the price rises in increments as the date approaches. The membership will also enable you to receive the pack of materials nominated for the Hugo Awards so you can vote on the awards.

And here is the just-released brilliant video showing you what to expect of an Irish WorldCon. Don’t be frightened, we promise to lock the dragons away before you arrive.

Dining Out Around The Solar System Part One by Clare O'Beara In keeping with my theme I am making an SF book free this month.
Dining Out Around The Solar System Part One. This a lengthy novella complete in itself, also contained within the full length book.

Donal, an Irish lad, and Myron, a Cockney-Jamaican mix, meet aged seventeen as book reviewers and trainee journalists with zine London's Eye. Before long they're onto the hottest stories in London.
In their future, Stansted Airport has been converted to a space shuttle base and Londoners are recruited to mine the asteroids.
While exploring the other planets, we found that they were all inhabited. Now those people are coming to Earth and looking for work. They're also opening ethnic restaurants in central London.
This first part of the story includes Donal and Myron's participation in the System Summit.

Free from August 30th to September 2nd.

If you enjoy a book please leave a review, which helps other readers.

Visit my website for news, puzzles, books, reviews and events; also my blog on places with good disability access. I am adding book covers to Pinterest boards after I review the books, so feel free to find me on Pinterest.
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Published on August 25, 2018 08:07 • 125 views • Tags: ai, artificial-intelligence, computer-science, computers, dublin, robots, science-fiction, worldcon

July 26, 2018

American Princess The Love Story of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry by Leslie Carroll One of the liveliest lectures I’ve been invited to attend was held in Trinity College this month. The talk on Artificial Intelligence coincided with the visit to Trinity by Prince Harry and his new wife Meghan Markle. The previous day the Trinity Long Room Hub organisers had mailed me explaining that a VIP would be visiting; I would need to arrive at one particular gate and bring photo ID. So I told my husband that someone well known was attending the talk on AI, maybe Elon Musk.
Prince Harry The Inside Story by Duncan Larcombe That evening we saw on the news that Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, and Meghan Markle were in Dublin, attending a reception at Glencairn, the British Ambassador’s residence near Kilternan. I used to keep horses near there but never got invited for tea. Then of course I knew who was coming to Trinity, but guessed the couple would not be attending the lecture, just doing touristy things.

Murder at Irish Mensa (Mensa Mystery Series, #1) by Clare O'Beara
So it proved. We arrived early next morning and were the first lecture attendees to show up at the gate, so the university security guards knew nothing of the AI talk and didn’t want to let us enter. We had ID (student and otherwise) but we were not Trinity staff or students.
“We’re not letting the public through, the Prince of Wales is coming today,” one man told us.
“We know, and he’s not the Prince of Wales,” I returned. “And Trinity invited us. They confirmed yesterday.”
Waiting For Prince Harry (Dallas Demons #1) by Aven Ellis Because we kept insisting politely, one guard went away, confirmed the lecture and found a list of attendees; our names were on it. We were admitted, thanking all the staff as we went, and had coffee in the Long Room Hub while we waited. Our early start proved wise as the lengthy queues I had foreseen soon formed, everyone having to use the same campus gate. The Gardai (police) had now arrived and set up a checkpoint inside the gate, where they examined the contents of everyone’s bags, watched by us out of the nearby window.
Meghan Markle American Royal by Elizabeth KrajnikThe lecture started late because so many attendees had been delayed, and we were assured that if we looked out of our high window and saw snipers on the roof, they were part of a security team.
Harry and Meghan arrived to a delighted crowd and enjoyed viewing the Book of Kells in the Long Room Library, just across the square from our lecture.
The Black Box Society The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information by Frank Pasquale Our talk was called Managing The Machine, given by Dr Genevieve Bell from Australia, who had worked for Intel in America for eighteen years after gaining a PhD from Stanford in Anthropology. Sounds unusual? I’ll describe her fantastic talk next month.

We also helped the Royal Dublin Society celebrate fifty years of their Craft Awards. The history of the exhibition was explained, and why different award categories were included, for instance student awards as well as for professional craftspeople. Traditional crafts and arts were kept alive and standards of excellence were maintained.
Limerick Lace A Social History and a Maker's Manual by Nellie O'Cleirigh Many of the beautiful items from the prizewinners were on display: Limerick lace christening garment, lace wedding veil, calligraphy on dramatic topics, clothes designed and made, basketwork, woodwork, silversmithing, ceramics, glasswork, rug making, saddlery. Photos and quotes from some of the crafters were also provided.

Decorative Glasswork by Michael Ball One lady remarked that at a press reception her six fine glasses were in a display cabinet which had a sheet of glass on top and the wineglasses for those present were placed on that. Late in the evening someone leant the wrong way on the cabinet, and it collapsed, smashing all the wineglasses – but her own glasses were undamaged. Unfortunately the press had all just departed.
This year’s crafts awards, along with this exhibition called The Maker’s Hand, will be available to view during the Dublin Horse Show in August.

Murder At Kildare Mensa (Mensa Mystery Series #4) by Clare O'Beara I’m making Murder At Kildare Mensa free to download from 28th July – 31st July. This is a crime story involving breeding Thoroughbred horses.

If you do not have a Kindle, you can download the free Kindle app from Amazon for your PC, tablet or phone. I have been told that the app will download to Apple gadgets but you can’t read from them, Apple competing with Amazon over iBooks.
If you enjoy a book please leave a review, which helps other readers.

Visit my website for news, puzzles, books, reviews and events; also my blog on places with good disability access. I am adding book covers to Pinterest boards after I review the books, so feel free to find me on Pinterest.
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Published on July 26, 2018 06:52 • 55 views • Tags: ai, craft-awards, dublin, glass, kildare, lecture, meghan-markle, prince-harry, royal-dublin-society, royal-visit, security, trinity-college

June 23, 2018

The Prisoner In The Tower Short Story & Big Cat Bones by Clare O'Beara I’ve just seen a vigorous discussion on audiobooks on the Goodreads blog – topic, prolific readers. I read more than 365 books every year (I do not watch a lot of TV) but I do not read by audiobook. So you might expect that I do not count audiobooks as books. Wrong!
Saying that audiobooks do not count, is removing visually impaired people from the category of readers. Do not try to impose such views as you do not know the circumstances of the other person.
Unseen Academicals (Discworld, #37) by Terry Pratchett If someone reads through Braille, does that count? They are touching the book, not viewing it. If they get a computer to read out the text, does that count? If they are unable to see but enjoy an audio version of a book, what is the difference?
And if the only time a person gets to read, through family and work responsibilities, is while driving, say, audiobooks are better than no books.
In my opinion, a book is a book, no matter how it is read.

14 Days to Exam Success by Lucinda Becker I’ve been invigilating summer exams and I give individual supervision to anyone with particular needs. As before I am in awe of students who take degrees and diplomas with reduced vision, dyslexia, Tourettes, ADHD, extreme nerves and other personal circumstances. I learn a lot from them and their achievements help me to become a better student.

Welsh Castles A Guide by Counties by Adrian Pettifer We took a short break in Wales which covered Milk Wood, Laugharne Castle, the imposing walled coastal town of Tenby and the Welsh Botanical Gardens. The Gardens have been built on the grounds of a stately home originally belonging to the Middleton family, the house having burnt down and the lakes having silted up. In a Welsh Country Garden by Yvonne Sarah Lewis Restoration works got under way and are still ongoing; you can see photos and schematics. For instance, the lakes were restored while dormouse and otter habitat had to be kept or improved. Honey's Farm by Iris Gower The stable block has been restored as gift shops. The Gardens now include the largest single-span greenhouse in the world, used to display a variety of Mediterranean / Californian environments. Rainwater captured from the roof is used to water plants and serve restrooms, while toilet water is filtered through reed beds.
Money Logging On the Trail of the Asian Timber Mafia by Lukas Straumann I found a sobering installation beside this greenhouse, of roots and stumps of giant rainforest trees, brought here after the trees had fallen or been logged, to make us aware of rainforest destruction.
Monkey Puzzle And Other Poems by Myra Cohn Livingston Countering this, the Gardens have planted acres with young trees from various parts of the world, including Chile and China. The monkey puzzles and other trees should thrive in the mild rainy locality and are endangered in their own countries.

Bats by Lily Wood I saw four bats and a badger one night at Milk Wood, home of Dylan Thomas. When a clubhouse building was being demolished and rebuilt by the holiday company where we stayed, they first had to build a new home for the bats, equally spacious and suitable. Driving through Wales I saw ten birds of prey – mainly buzzards and red-tailed kites. These The Life of Buzzards by Peter Dare are great at scavenging roadkill and the buzzards also grab mice and rats. They are large handsome birds which enliven a journey and speak of a healthy food chain. If the birds of prey are flourishing, you are probably safe to eat the locally produced meat and vegetables.

The Rowan Tree by Iris Gower Speaking of Welsh food, we ate very well and not too expensively, including meat pasties on a seaside bench in Tenby’s golden sunshine, and drank some lovely rich local ciders. I always scour second-hand bookshops and managed to pick up The Shipyard Girls The Shipyard Girls (Shipyard Girls, #1) by Nancy Revell about women doing shipyard work while men were at war. We hadn’t a lot of spare time on this trip, but another time I will take a horse ride onto the beautiful beaches. Some of the locations we visited will be placed on my blog about accessible sites to visit.

With castles in mind I am making The Prisoner In The Tower free to download this month. This is a short story and is paired with article Big Cat Bones which discusses findings of lion and lynx bones in England and Wales. Grab it 25 – 26 June.

If you do not have a Kindle, you can download the free Kindle app for your PC, tablet or phone. I have been told that the app will download to Apple gadgets but you can’t read from them, Apple competing with Amazon over iBooks.
If you enjoy a book please leave a review, which helps other readers.
Visit my website for news, puzzles, books, reviews and events. I am also adding book covers to Pinterest boards after I review the books, so feel free to find me on Pinterest.
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Published on June 23, 2018 05:29 • 68 views • Tags: accessible, audiobooks, bats, birds-of-prey, botanical-gardens, buzzard, castle, exams, local-food, student, wales

May 13, 2018

Murder at Irish Mensa (Mensa Mystery Series, #1) by Clare O'Beara As a crime author, I attended a talk on the future of policing in Trinity College. Dr Antonio Oftlie was a guest speaker from Harvard. He explained that the kind of records which are useful to the cop A Hell of a Dog (Rachel Alexander & Dash, #3) by Carol Lea Benjamin on the street, include whether someone keeps a pit bull at their home, adding, “You know what pit bulls are in Ireland, right?”
Dr Oftlie believed that AI learning, and problem solving computers, are going to be important. Machine learning, robotics, automation, internet data gathering and transfer are all converging and he finds this promising for crime fighting.

The Black Box Society The Secret Algorithms That Control Money and Information by Frank Pasquale Downsides are potential impacts on privacy, social organisation and civil liberties. Cameras can replace police patrols but the data is retrospective (showing a crime rather than preventing it) and there is no human interaction. Network analysis of connections between people, and context collapse – which means how our online and offline lives intermingle – are helping police track criminals. For example, gang activity in NYC is now tracked on line... not always correctly. A young man in Harlem was the brother of a gang member, and he went on line and liked a post, which was sufficient to get him charged as accessory to a murder; he was jailed in Riker’s Island for 19 months, 9 in solitary.

This Machine Kills Secrets How WikiLeakers, Hacktivists, and Cypherpunks Are Freeing the World's Information by Andy Greenberg Facial recognition and coming voice recognition are increasing convergence and machines may make policing decisions if we make them autonomous, Dr Oftlie warned. Adding these resources may drive crime down, but policing has to generate public trust. He asked how can police organisations leverage new tech and keep civil liberties? What form of governance and transparency should we create, if we are not to end up with algorithmic justice? How should efficiency and effectiveness be measured, in terms of results and public trust? I found the talk fascinating and felt privileged to benefit from the American viewpoint as well as the Irish speakers.

Tim Berners-Lee and the World Wide Web by Noah Rodwin Exams have just ended, for this year. Some of my journalism exams were done less formally, such as writing up interviews and stories from press releases. Others involved submission of research work and writing along with a Powerpoint presentation. The main formal exam was in Web Development, accompanied by the requirement to submit a website built from scratch. I made a site about horse photos. We had to manipulate images using an art program and add them, as a title image in my case, and we enjoyed every minute.

Murder At Scottish Mensa (Mensa Mystery series #2) by Clare O'Beara The sun finally broke through for a day at a time and I’ve been up a tree for the first time this year. Yesterday we had thunder and lightning. Looking forward to summer, I can recommend a visit to Scotland to see the natural beauty and wonderful historic sites. With this in mind I am making Murder At Scottish Mensa free.
Stirling Castle by Richard Fawcett The book is set in Stirling, including a visit to the Wallace Monument and a banquet at Stirling Castle. Grab your free download 18 – 20 May. If you enjoy the read, please leave a review to help other readers decide if it will suit them.

Visit my website for news, puzzles, books, reviews and events. I am also adding book covers to Pinterest boards after I review the books, so feel free to find me on Pinterest.
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Published on May 13, 2018 09:03 • 65 views • Tags: ai, computers, crime, exams, ireland, it, journalism, policing, scotland, stirling-castle, trinity-college, web-dev

April 14, 2018

Climate Change by Barnaby Newbolt Yesterday my husband and I attended a Meteorological Conference at the Royal Dublin Society. As well as Irish Met Office speakers we heard from Mike Brennan, from the US National Hurricane Center in Miami, and NOAA. Interested parties from around the world attended.

Forty Signs of Rain (Science in the Capital #1) by Kim Stanley Robinson We saw a lot of charts of the North Atlantic as tropical storms, sub-tropical storms and hurricanes were discussed, specifically the 2017 - 18 storms.

Eoin Moran, director of Met Eireann, said "Climate change and extreme weather is one of the greatest challenges facing our society. No one country, no one region, is alone capable of providing the forecasting we provide today."

When we got home we saw the conference had made the main evening news, with several minutes of coverage and interviews.

The Invasion (The Call #2) by Peadar Ó Guilín
Snow fell twice during March in Dublin, enough to cause postponement of a book launch at Easons bookshop – Peadar Ó Guilín’s new work The Invasion.
Heavy rainfall then added to the waterlogging of fields, a hot topic at the Royal Dublin Society’s annual Forestry and Farm Awards which I attended at the start of April. Peadar Ó Guilín The Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine addressed the audience and helped to present the prizes. He encouraged farmers to plant trees on marginal or difficult land, with the aim of contributing to Ireland’s tackling of climate change. An increased grant is given for broadleaves, and the department is aiming for 30% broadleaf cover with varying age forestry, as this increases biodiversity. Trees of Ireland Native and Naturalized by E. Charles Nelson Schemes such as Forestry to Fibre make use of native wood and thinnings as biofuel, and the schemes should enhance farm returns and reward good management.

Bernie Brennan, President of the RDS, continued the theme in her address, explaining that awards are given not just for good livestock management but for carbon footprint, high environmental standards and sustainability. Cattle in Ancient and Modern Ireland Farming Practices, Environment and Economy by Michael O'Connell Teagasc, the state agriculture advisory board, partners with the RDS. Today’s awards were for cattle, in Beef herd and Dairy herd divisions. All the extremely impressive cattle shown on screen were grazed outdoors. They were from the majority breeds in Ireland; Friesian, Limousin, Angus, Charolais and Hereford. I was delighted to see that farm families were involved in most cases, and a whole family of five might come up to the podium to receive their trophy and cheque. If young people can see a future on the land they are more likely to stay on the farm.

The Gruffalo by Julia Donaldson Woodturner Seamus Cassidy made the beautiful trophies for the Forestry section. In Community Woodlands, Ballyhaise College, Co. Cavan was second and Colin Glen, Co Down was the winner. This venue, complete with a Gruffalo trail, gets 1000 visitors a day and is on the edge of Belfast.

The Company of Trees A Year in a Lifetime's Quest by Thomas Pakenham In Multipurpose Forestry, second was Hilton Park in Co. Monaghan with mixed woodlands since 1752. This forest has sustainable income, diverse woodlands and natural regeneration. All best environmental guidelines have been exceeded for 200 years. First place was Curraghchase Forest Park in Co Limerick. Coillte, the state-owned commercial forester, is restoring native woodlands; and a man made lake on this former estate provides a haven for wildlife and activities for the public. The farm has been in the family for eight generations and is in production forestry.

Meetings with Remarkable Trees by Thomas Pakenham Teagasc favours the Farm Forest award as finding and praising excellence, both in climate change mitigation and as a sustainable and attractive enterprise for addition to farms. Thomas Duffy, second place, said “The trees give shelter to my livestock and it looks well in the countryside.” First-placed Andrew O’Carroll from Kilkenny said “Forestry gives long term income security for my family.” He explained that he had planted poor, higher ground and with a grant assured for twenty years, he rented better grazing land on a long-term lease, improving his dairy returns.

Wind Power by Peter Musgrove Older farmers I spoke to praised the rewarding of hard work and family dedication. Younger farmers were interested in the right kind of trees for wet land, which would be safe near livestock, to grow quickly for biofuel and combine with solar and wind power.

I’ve been enjoying my course in Journalism at Dublin Business School. We were asked to write a report on the changes in modern media, jointly. This was done using Google Drive which enabled us to share a document and each access it from our own locations. Three of us worked together and each researched different aspects, such as past and present media, global adoption and censorship, business usage. Finally, I searched for and inserted suitable photos and checked references.

The New New Journalism Conversations with America's Best Nonfiction Writers on Their Craft by Robert S. Boynton When we had submitted our report, we next needed to prepare a set of slides – like Powerpoint – and give the presentation in class. Again, we shared the document on Google Drive and contributed remotely. A team member provided a screenshot about buying Facebook ads for a site, and explained the resulting increased traffic. Advertisers can now speak directly to customers, targeting specific types, and do not need to go to a newspaper or television station for an expensive broadly spread ad. This has serious implications for the funding of journalism in the future. We learned a great deal about the contents of our report / presentation and the techniques involved.

Democracy's Detectives The Economics of Investigative Journalism by James T. Hamilton Being self-employed means I often miss out on aspects of modern life which office workers take for granted. Google and Microsoft appear to be chasing customers by simplifying and streamlining their products. There are plenty of added techniques, bells and whistles which can be used, but it’s possible to prepare presentable work with just the basics. If any mature person gets a chance to update their IT skills I believe they should take it, as the digital world is moving very fast.

This month I am making Dining Out with the Gas Giants (Dining Out Around The Solar System, #3) by Clare O'Beara Dining Out With The Gas Giants free to download on Kindle. This follows an Irish journalist exploring a London of the future, with a diversion to South America. Grab it from 19th – 22nd April, and if you enjoy the read, please leave a review to help other readers.

Visit my website for news, puzzles, books, reviews and events.
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Published on April 14, 2018 06:28 • 25 views • Tags: cattle, conference, farm, forestry, hurricane, ireland, journalism, noaa, rain, storm, trees, weather