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Bookshot #144: India Conquered

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A solid and well-researched history of British rule in India, Jon Wilson's India Conquered aims to provide a reassessment of a lot of the mythology of the British Raj and I think he more or less succeeds in his goals. The general notion that Wilson is exploring with this book is the idea that British rule in India was coherent and powerful- while the reality is that British rule was uneven and based on violence and the use of force- and left behind a piecemeal patchwork of economic development in their wake. I think you can challenge Wilson's argument on some points- some notes on the wiki-page for the book point out that his analysis of the period prior to the British is somewhat lacking and that there's a lot of hand-wavey generalizations that pop up over the course of the book. Nuance, naturally, would undermine a lot of Wilson's thesis- or at least if it didn't undermine it, it would certainly distract from it.  The point about the generalizations is true enoug

Serial Saturday #2.15: To The Jaipur Palace

Sarah followed the nuns out of the Enugu’s cargo bay and onto the docks. The two nuns both held up their hands and their party stopped. The docks of Samundra City were so different from the docks of New Toliara. Everything was gleaming white, shiny, new. People were shouting in dozens of different languages. A loud series of honks off to her left made her turn. The crowds parted to reveal three Tuk-Tuks, all bright blue which pulled up in front of them. “Sister Adelaide,” Abbess Hildegarde pointed to the Tuk-Tuk on the left. “You and Sister Michael will watch our backs. Sister Marguerite,” she now pointed to the Tuk-Tuk on the right. “You and Sister Agnes are on point. Sister Monica, you will ride with me and this young lady. Remember, keep your comms active, and rules of engagement are in place.” The nuns nodded and headed for their assigned Tuk-Tuks. The Abbess gestured for Sarah to precede her, still a little bemused at all the nuns that appeared to be armed to the teeth. Sarah sett

The Saga of the Deck

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It's done . It took over a year, but we managed to get it done- and got some extra- and needed- landscaping done as a bonus. How did it all begin?  Well, we needed a new deck. It had seen better days- and it had never been a focal point for the house even when I was growing up here. We hung out in the backyard and the deck out front was just kind of... there. A deck ignored is a deck that will, eventually, decay and it was in pretty bad shape when we pulled the trigger on getting it replaced. We figured we'd have someone check the supports to see how they looked and maybe we'll just replace some boards.  So, Contractor #1 came out. Gave us an estimate. Took a payment. Showed up for one day of demo and then... vanished. What should have been a three-day job turned into months of text messages and phone-tag which culminated in us threatening to file in small claims court just to get a refund. We got our money back and found Contractor #2. He seemed like a genial enough fellow

Serial Saturday #2.14: The Black Flag

Sarah raised her head from the toilet bowl and blinked sore eyes. Something's different? Then, she realized: the Enugu had stopped shaking. The turbulence was gone. The storm was over. She staggered to her feet, stepping over to the tiny sink to splash some water on her face. Most of the storm, she had spent hugging the toilet, hanging on, sliding across the floor. Once or twice, she briefly went into freefall as they hit air pockets. Still, unsteady on her feet, Sarah palmed the door to her cabin open, and, clutching the walls for support, made her way down to the bridge. "Alive, are you?" Osoko smiled. "Barely," Sarah croaked. Everyone laughed at that. Harcourt pointed at the viewscreen. "Congratulations, Ms. Hoavy. You made it to Samundra City." "It's... pretty," Sarah managed. It seemed an inadequate way to describe the glittering white palaces, domes, and spires filling the viewscreen. "It's all pretty and shiny on the surfa

Serial Saturday #2.13: Running

 A concussive rumble of what sounded like thunder brought Sarah back to consciousness. She blinked, trying to figure out where she was. Lights... everything is so bright. Another rumble and the world lurched sideways. Sarah tried to push herself upward when a firm hand pushed her back down. "Oh, there you are," The voice sounded like one of the Canadians, Scottie, she thought. "She's awake." His face swang into view above her, smiling. "How are you feeling?" Sarah tried to sit up again. "Gently now," Scottie eased her upright. "How's your head?" Another thunderclap, this time almost deafening and the ship lurched downward and began to pitch. "Hurts," Sarah said, grabbing the table to steady herself. "What's going on?" "We're running," Justin grinned. "What-" the ship lurched again. "-happened?" "After they snatched you, they had a hell of a time trying to find you,:

Not Quite Home

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  I think I knew it would end in penalties. That seems to be the fate of England- but for nearly two hours before that last kick, I had hope. England scored after about two minutes. It was unbelievable, a dream start for England and then well, then the nerves began. They made it through the first half and deep into the second half and it was just getting harder and harder and the Italians were probing more and more and the equalizer was perhaps, inevitable. It felt inevitable and once they got to extra time, it seemed like a thirty-minute stay of execution for the penalty shoot-out. I always used to enjoy watching that movie, Wimbledon . It's perhaps one of Paul Bettany's lesser-known works, but as a romantic comedy, it's surprisingly entertaining. I've never been that good at tennis or even really watched tennis- but I have memories of summers in the UK, where Wimbledon (or as my Grandad used to call it, Wingledon) was everywhere. If there was a rain delay- this was be

Random Song: In The House of Stone And Light

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Remember this song? I have no idea why it popped back into my brain, but it did-- it was released all the way back in 1994 and there was at least one summer when it was all over the airwaves of Q103 (pour one out for Q103). I think this song embedded into my brain when I was reading The Wheel of Time the first time out (when they were actually coming out in the bookstores- man, I'm old.) In Book 3, The Dragon Reborn , something about the cover , this song, and the supposedly impregnable fortress of The Stone of Tear just sort of connected in my young brain and it's what I always associate this song with now. But it gets crazier- if you dig into the lyrics a little bit you find references to Buddhism (Mount Kailas)- which in the Buddhist tradition it's located near the land of Shambhala- the actual mountain is located in Tibet and linked with the Hindu epic, the Ramayana.  Also: The House of Stone and Light is the Havasupai name for the Grand Canyon. So either this song