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A list too long for twitter

The wikipedia page for Hugh Cook’s series Chronicles of an Age of Darkness currently includes the following extraordinary paragraph:

At different times, the novels portray or allude to murder, bestiality, female genital cutting, cannibalism, racism, sexism, speciesism, abortion, masturbation, mutation, incest, inbreeding, constipation, assassination, gambling, drunkenness, brawling, diarrhoea, capitalism, leprosy, castration, slavery, evolution, patricide, regicide, venereal disease, forgery, treason, dwarf tossing, torture, orgies, incontinence, suicide, disembowelment, capital and corporal punishment, drug use, religious fraud, bribery, blackmail, animal cruelty, disfigurement, infanticide, the caste system, democratic revolutionary movements, rape, theft, genocide, transvestitism, premature ejaculation, prostitution, piracy, and polygamy.1

I have too many amazed responses to this, and can’t decide which is funniest. It’s probably best if you just read it aloud to yourself, repeating each item in a tone of astonishment.


  1. Every element of the list is linked, except “religious fraud”. []

Lensmen: Space!

Among the many books my parents have been keeping for me (lo these ten years past) I rediscovered a Panther Science Fiction box set of E.E. “Doc” Smith’s 1930s/40s/50s space opera, the Lensman series.

Box set of E.E. "Doc" Smith's "Lensman" series, plus bonus two from his "Skylark" series.

“Lensman” and part of “Skylark”.

(This is not a review, except sidelong by implication.)

Manu’s lifetime record lifetime average speed

Today, after returning from New Zealand, Manu’s lifetime average speed is 6.5km/hr.

That’s likely the highest it will ever reach in his life, unless he’s lucky enough to get off-planet or unlucky enough to become an inter-continental commuter:1 a round trip from Greece to New Zealand is pretty nearly the furthest you can travel on Earth (without making extra loops), and one such trip per year is worth a bit over 4km/hr towards the L.A.S. His average speed is higher than that partly because that’s not the only trip he made this year, but mainly because he’s not even one year old yet.2

According to wikipedia, human walking speed is typically about 5km/hr. This is rather mind-boggling: if Manu had been walking since the day he was born, every hour of every day, he would only just have got to New Zealand and back,3 let alone the other trips inside Greece and to Sweden and The Netherlands that he’s made.

It’s even more impressive given that he only learned to crawl last month.


  1. I know a bloke who moved from New Zealand to England, with his family, among other reasons to follow a job prospect. He promptly got work… in Australia. []
  2. He’s travelled 49 thousand kilometres so far, of which 37 thousand are just getting to New Zealand and back. []
  3. Assuming he, rather pointlessly, took the same route from airport to airport that we did. Also assuming some kind of floatation device, I suppose. []

Prisoner’s tales: on the proper form of address

My wife’s parents, Giannis and Elli, are communists. They were imprisoned for their political beliefs during the Greek dictatorship: Giannis for five years, Elli for three. With their permission, I’m collecting here some of the stories they tell about those years. You can find them all filed under “Prisoner’s tales”.

(This one is about the proper form of address for political prisoners)

2013: Year in review

The biggest and best event of 2013

(No resolutions. Some plans.)

Prisoner’s tales

My wife’s parents, Giannis and Elli, are communists. They were imprisoned for their political beliefs during the Greek dictatorship: Giannis for five years, Elli for three. With their permission, I’m collecting here some of the stories they tell about those years.

(These ones are about books, and about pigs and radios)

Mac keyboard layouts

I’ve bitten the bullet and bought a Mac (Macbook Pro, a shiny shiny piece of shininess). The most annoying thing about setting it up as a workhorse was the keyboard layout: Mac standards for accessing characters with diacritics like éïòû are (with a few exceptions) pretty nuts. Here’s my solution (including a layout file for you to download), which I hope may be useful for others. (Please note: I’m trying for something that works comfortably for the languages I use myself. If your needs are different you’ll be able to apply the technique I describe here, but you may have to do more of the work yourself, if my layout doesn’t work for you.)


Christmas gift suggestions

Here’s a few nice things that people I internet-stalk have produced lately. (“Things”, haha, of course they’re all books.) No, these are not suggestions for getting me gifts. In fact, I’ve already got myself at least one item from this list, but I’m not telling you what, so you dursen’t gift me for fear of doubleups. So there.


Manu’s lifetime average speed

We’ve taken Manu a lot of places in his short life so far. Within Greece he’s been to Patras, to Pelion (twice), and back and forth between Katerini and Thessaloniki more times than we could reliably remember (we guesstimate it at 15). And we just got back from a wedding trip to Sweden, returning via Amsterdam. For a five-month-old he’s exceedingly well-travelled.

Which made me wonder: what’s his lifetime average speed?

If we add up all the distance he’s covered,1 and divide by the number of hours he’s been alive, we get (at time of writing) just under 2.4km/h. Average walking speed, according to wikipedia, is around 5km/h so he’s not making particularly good time; on the other hand, his pace is much more impressive when you consider that he hasn’t learned to crawl yet.2

I’ve added the calculations to a google doc, which (if I’ve made the right incantations) should update the time component of the calculation daily; as long as I remember to add new trips to the doc, you should see below an up-to-date record of his current average speed. 3


  1. Taking only the large trips, for simplicity’s sake. I skipped the beach trips, visiting the pediatrician, etc etc. I also didn’t try to estimate how many kilometers I’ve covered walking up and down the bedroom putting him to sleep. []
  2. Also, just you try keeping up an average walking pace for five months straight. On a milk diet and no solid foods. []
  3. I thought about including his carbon footprint, but someday he’ll be old enough to read this himself and it didn’t seem fair. []


Without me quite paying enough attention to catch it, sometime this month I passed my ten-year anniversary in Europe.

(Ten! Ten years! Ah ha ha! Let’s count more things in tens!)