Tarantula Gigante

For three months I have searched the Amazon jungle in vain for the elusive theraphosa apophysis gigantus or Tarantula Gigante, the largest, most venomous spider in the world. This dinner plate-sized arachnid is an extremely shy creature – hence my difficulty in finding one – but when provoked it can attack with surprising speed. It has been known to kill a boa constrictor, such is the striking power of its fangs. I … Read more

The Stud

At the age of sixty-three, Etienne Duval fell deeply in love for the first time. Liliane was thirty years younger — a fact that flattered him no end — widowed, childless, adrift on a sea of melancholy until they met. Each evening, after closing his boucherie, he visited her at her tiny flat above Boulangerie-Patisserie Gregoire where she worked. He brought her pork cutlets, lamb shanks, or sweetbreads for her supper. She … Read more

How Life Was When I Was Young

I was born in 1941 in Nottingham, England. The first thing I can say is that life today is vastly different. It’s not just technology, science, medicine, though they have changed significantly, but customs, culture, society itself, so I’ll deal with this by subject area. Daily Life Back in the ’40s, my dad walked about three miles to work and back again each day. Like many men, he worked in a factory. … Read more

Chokepoint Capitalism: why we’ll all lose unless we stop Amazon, Spotify and other platforms squeezing cash from creators

In 2020, the independent authors and small publishers whose audiobooks reach their readers via Audible’s ACX platform smelled a rat. Audiobooks were booming, but sales of their own books – produced at great expense and well-reviewed – were plummeting. Some of their royalty statements reported negative sales, as readers returned more books than they bought. This was hard to make sense of, because Audible only reported net sales, refusing to reveal the … Read more

Meeting with an Axe Murderer

This is a tragic tale however you look at it. In 1966 I moved to Burnham in Buckinghamshire to work as a software engineer for Wyeth Pharmaceuticals. I lodged with a couple called Grace and Eddie. They treated me as their son. My immediate predecessor, a PhD graduate, suffered a nervous breakdown. I like to think my more stable personality was a pleasant change for them. However, another predecessor is the subject … Read more

Australia is the canary in the coalmine

The latest IPCC report on global warming was released this week. As expected, it showed that we are still not responding quickly enough to slow the onset of catastrophic deterioration to our climate. Australia is the canary in the coalmine. Woman trapped in Toowoomba floods. (takvera.blogspot.com) This week we have seen unprecedented flooding down the east coast. Lives have been lost, tens of thousands of homes are submerged under water, and there’s … Read more

Be Afraid, Be Very Afraid…

The following article is from The Conversation dated 29 October 2021 and is titled Facebook relaunches itself as ‘Meta’ in a clear bid to dominate the metaverse. It’s a disturbing read. Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg has announced the company will change its name to Meta, saying the move reflects the fact the company is now much broader than just the social media platform (which will still be called Facebook). The rebrand follows several … Read more

Climate Vandals

The one group that above all others is blocking serious action to remediate global warming is the fossil fuel industry. It comprises coal, gas, and oil companies desperate to protect their profits, regardless of the cost to future generations, our young and yet-to-be-born, who will bear the dreadful consequences of their selfish policies. They directly influence politicians and the media with large financial contributions, as well as spending huge sums on lobbyists, … Read more

The Death of Optimism

We need a catastrophic event to drive fear into our leaders, led by an angry public demand for action. The pandemic is not it, but the encroaching breakdown of climate integrity could well be. Daily, we see around us the consequences of our failure to act, and still our leaders refuse to face up to the crisis, preferring instead to make “commitments” that lack real substance. I was born in ’41 in … Read more

ANZAC Day 2021

If ever a song encapsulated the exploitation of patriotism and the horror of war it is Eric Bogle’s: And the Band Played Waltzing Matilda. My dad fought in the 14-18 war. He was invalided out after being wounded. He was lucky, as he completely recovered. Others of course didn’t fare so well, as I discovered when I started work. Being severely traumatised, they were treated with circumspection by their workmates. Even non-combatants … Read more