“Tanks, jeeps and other test vehicles litter the desert floor milliseconds before the force of the explosion destroys them. Just below the bottom of the fireball, a crescent-shaped shock wave has bounced off the desert floor and is merging into the expanding nuclear fire.” From the New York Timesslideshow, Capturing the Atom Bomb on Film. Image taken from Peter Kuran’s book, How to Photograph an Atomic Bomb.
Attend an organised public display instead of setting off fireworks yourself in your own backyard. Surely it’s better to contain the noise and pollution in one area than see it dispersed across a wider area?
This fairly innocuous suggestion leads Mr Hickman to more emphatic, and revealing, territory:
Quite why fireworks are not just restricted to organised public events has always been beyond me, given how dangerous they can be to children. Or maybe – as was fiercely debated on this site last year – fireworks should be banned altogether?
An earlier Guardian poll - Should Fireworks be Banned on Environmental Grounds? - was a close-run thing, with a narrow majority willing to permit an evening of explosive hedonism. The Guardian’s Felicity Carus suggested a possible compromise in the form of “green fireworks,” a quieter, less colourful, less explosive alternative made from sawdust and rice chaff.
As regulars will know, Mr Hickman and his colleague Lucy Siegle steer Guardianistas through the labyrinth of modern living with their Ask Leo & Lucy column - “your ethical dilemmas sorted.” Dilemmas that, for Guardian readers, include, Should I Employ a Cleaner? (“If you employ a cleaner, their pay should be fair. Buy some less toxic cleaning products or make them yourself using ingredients such as vinegar, lemon juice or vegetable-based soap.”) Among many other agonies of note are, What’s the Greenest Way to Wrap my Sandwiches?and What Should I Do with the Fur Coats I Inherited from my Mother? (Since you ask, suggestions range from the inventive – “donate them to an animal sanctuary that uses them as bedding for abandoned puppies” – to the slightly surreal - “Turn the central heating down and wear them indoors.” And, “Use them in the home, where everyone understands their history etc.”)
There are plenty of facts - Quaker Oats and Tropicana juices are both owned by George Bush-backing PepsiCo - and a selection of helpful letters, like the inspiring one from a woman who crochets her own dishcloths.
By the mid-1970s, Britain was widely regarded - choose your favourite cliché - as the Sick Man of Europe, an economic basket case, ungovernable... In  the year before Thatcher came to power, Britain, upon whose empire the sun never set, endured the Winter of Discontent. Labour unrest shut down public services, paralysing the nation for months on end… Rubbish was piled high on the streets of Britain that winter, and so, at one point, were human corpses. The Soviet trade minister told his British counterpart, “We don’t want to increase our trade with you. Your goods are unreliable, you’re always on strike, you never deliver.” This was what had become of the world’s greatest trading power.
From Claire Berlinski’s “There Is No Alternative”: Why Margaret Thatcher Matters, which I’m halfway through reading and enjoying quite a lot. It’s a brisk and witty reminder of what was at stake and how socialism can lead to extraordinary selfishness. It also has plenty of revealing incidental nuggets, as when Berlinski notes the feelings of some of Thatcher’s loftier enemies:
When asked why intellectuals loathed her so, the theatre producer Jonathan Miller replied that it was “self-evident” – they were nauseated by her “odious suburban gentility.” The philosopher Mary Warnock deplored Thatcher’s “neat, well-groomed clothes and hair, packaged together in a way that’s not exactly vulgar, just low,” embodying “the worst of the lower-middle class.” This filled Warnock with “a kind of rage.”
Claire Berlinksi is interviewed by National Review’s Peter Robinson, again in 5 parts:
Glenn Reynolds also interviews Berlinksi here. (Registration required.)
Related: Tory! Tory! Tory! An excellent 2006 miniseries tracing the history and context of Thatcherism, the miseries it involved and the much greater miseries it avoided. Well worth viewing in full. The three episodes are embedded below in six parts:
Escaping gas, high drama and The Great Symbolic Bench.
“The wind was so strong that the mission would have failed immediately, the bench would be blown off the iceberg in no time. Around 8 in the evening we gave up... I started to feel that my project was gaining a different, and maybe stronger, meaning... And maybe the bench was an excuse and didn’t need to be left out on the ice at all.”
James Bond is insufficiently emasculated, unlike Theo Hobson.
It seems to me that a huge part of Bond’s appeal, as a character and a franchise, is precisely the rejection of many PC assumptions and their petty, emasculating tenor. Unlike many Guardian writers, Bond isn’t prone to disabling fits of quasi-Marxist handwringing. And nor is his boss, ‘M’, played by a pleasingly firm Judy Dench - hardly a “flimsy thing who needs hard male mastery.”
On Bidisha’s Planet Diversity all science fiction will be made to conform.
The claim that the world of science fiction is inordinately populated by “homophobic white male straight writers” and “woman-hating racists” – none of whom are named - sits uneasily with the author’s admission that science fiction fandom is noted for its breadth and inclusivity and a propensity for discussing “sex, race, whatever.” Nor is it entirely consonant with her own extended list of suitably inclusive authors. Indeed, so extensive is this list, and so numerous are the writers and characters unfairly omitted from it, one might suppose the author of this article is intent on disproving her own premise.
Readers may recall Phil Wolstenholme’s ongoing digital photography project Wide Area Network, in which Sheffield’s surrounding countryside is writ large in a series of enormous, eerily detailed prints. Aesthetes among you may be interested in Wolstenholme’s first book of photographic work, Networks, published by Heavy Everywhere. 92 colour plates in a deluxe hardcover volume.
To promote their literary works at the Frankfurt Book Fair, publishing company Eichborn deployed 200 flies, each attached temporarily to an ultra-light banner.
The banners, measuring just a few centimetres across, seem to be causing the beleaguered flies a bit of piloting trouble. The weight keeps the flies at a lower altitude and forces them to rest more often, which is a stroke of genius on the part of the marketing creatives: the flies end up at about eye level, and whenever a fly is forced to land and recover, the banner is clearly visible.
Hm. A partial success, I think you’ll agree, but promising. Maybe if the project was scaled up dramatically. Say, with 100 million flies. Or maybe just one enormous mutant mega-fly, rumbling through the skies and casting its shadow across entire city blocks.
Between 1988 and 1991, Daniel Laine visited the African continent, photographing its various tribal monarchs and assorted royalty.
Left to right: Oba Joseph Adekola Ogunoye, Olowo of Owo, Nigeria. Isienwenro James Iyoha Inneh, Ekegbian of Benin, Nigeria. El Hadji Mamadou Kabir Usman, Emir of Katsina, Nigeria. Salomon Igbinoghodua, Oba Erediauwa of Benin, Nigeria.