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"If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying my friend, I hope I should have the guts to betray my country." - E.M. Forster, Two Cheers For Democracy.

Nommy cake

This is what you need -

For the non-Dutchies this means -

3 packs plain, unsugared tea biscuits (approx 750 gram)
100 gram extra dark chocolate sprinkles
200 millilitre teeth-chatteringly strong coffee
200 gram goldenbrown sugar
1 pack unsalted real butter (approx 250 gram)

Pour some of the coffee into an espresso cup and place in fridge. The rest must remain hot, but not so hot you burn your fingers.

Make sure the butter is room temperature. If not, microwave on highest setting for 20 seconds. Mix the butter and the sugar until creamy. Then add the coffee from the fridge and mix thoroughly. If the coffee is not cold enough, don't add it to the mixture, as this will cause the butter to curdle.

Dunk each biscuit into the hot coffee until completely submerged (pouring the coffee into a soup bowl beforehand works a treat) and place on baking tray until the entire tray is covered (6 x 5 biscuits seems to work best for me.)

Add a thin layer of the butter mixture and carefully spread over the top of the biscuits. Add biscuits on the layer of cream and keep going until all the biscuits are gone. Make sure to end with a layer of cream. If you want, you can spread the cream on the sides of the biscuit tower as well. Finish with a layer of chocolate sprinkles and place in fridge to set.

I'm going to make one now and ETA a picture of the finished product. :)


BAD Internet Laws Heading Your Way

Originally posted by write_light at BAD Internet Laws Heading Your Way

From the flist: 

Spread the word, even you're not a US citizen, it is important for everyone!! It easy to do and it can change everything. More info by clicking on the banner.

Website Blocking

The government can order service providers to block websites for infringing links posted by any users.

Risk of Jail for Ordinary Users

It becomes a felony with a potential 5 year sentence to stream a copyrighted work that would cost more than $2,500 to license, even if you are a totally noncommercial user, e.g. singing a pop song on Facebook.

Chaos for the Internet

Thousands of sites that are legal under the DMCA would face new legal threats. People trying to keep the internet more secure wouldn't be able to rely on the integrity of the DNS system.

Read this analysis from

Get on the phone and call your representative. Express your disapproval. Tell him or her exactly how you feel, and that you don't support this. Tell your friends to call their representatives, their Congressperson, and complain. Mention that you are a registered voter that takes your civic responsibility seriously and that you will use that vote to express your feelings about this.

“We support the bill’s stated goals — providing additional enforcement tools to combat foreign ‘rogue’ websites that are dedicated to copyright infringement or counterfeiting,” the Internet companies wrote in Tuesday’s letter. “Unfortunately, the bills as drafted would expose law-abiding U.S. Internet and technology companies to new uncertain liabilities, private rights of action and technology mandates that would require monitoring of websites.”  The chamber-led coalition in support of the bill includes Walmart, Eli Lilly & Co. and Netflix.

Google and other opponents of the legislation argue that restricting the Internet in the U.S. sets a bad international precedent and that the language defines infringing too broadly.

Writer's Block: Instant replay

If you could only listen to one song the rest of your life what would it be?

Amanda Coe is best known as a television writer. She wrote for Shameless and As If..., two of my favourite programmes. The first is about a working-class family who lie, steal and cheat their way through life; the second a gritty, urban soap opera about teenagers who basically do whatever they want, with not a parent in sight to tell them no.

Coe uses her experiences writing for both shows in her debut novel What They Do In The Dark. The setting is Yorkshire in the mid-1970s, a grim place in which to grow up, regardless of your background.

Gemma's family are comfortably middle class. She buys sweets and the Beano from the newsagent's with her pocket money. She does well in school. She takes tapdancing lessons. She has Enid Blyton-type adventures with her best friend Christina. Of course her mum slaps her sometimes. What mum doesn't? At least she takes care that no one ever really harms Gemma... Her life revolves around Lallie Paluza, a child star whose uncanny impersonations of anyone from Bob Hope to Greta Garbo earned her her own television show, It's Lallie! , in which she sings, dances and acts in humourous skits. Gemma idolizes Lallie and fantasizes about being her. One day, right before the summer holidays, it is announced that Lallie's new movie will be filmed at Gemma's school and that local children are needed in order to be extras.  

Pauline is from an infamous family. The Brights would be working class, if they could ever be bothered to work that is. Instead, their dole money is supplemented by petty theft, prostitution, fencing and drugs sales. The local PC Plod reckons he spends more time at the Brights' than at his own home. Nobody cares much for Pauline. She doesn't care much for them either. She cares for no one much, except for her mum who's away in Leeds. She certainly doesn't care two hoots for Lallie Bloody Paluza with her glitzy life and her perfect Hayley Mills looks and her stupid bloody programme on telly.

Lallie Paluza is living the dream. She gets to be on telly, make people laugh and earn her mum pots of money. What does it matter that life on a film set is anything but glamourous, that she never sees her dad or that her mum just brokered a deal for Lallie to star in a Hollywood movie, forcing her to leave everything she knows behind, without consulting her?

What They Do In The Dark is an astounding book. It closely examines the many ways in which adults betray and neglect the children that are left in their care. No one is blameless. Inept teachers, jaded casting directors, class-conscious parents, indifferent neighbours - every single one of them is culpable; every single one of them has a hand in the horrific event with which the novel concludes. It is a shock, and everyone will say they never saw this coming and how could this happen? But still... It had been in the making for generations. Adults were once children too; children whose parents, teachers and neighbours ignored them. So in turn they grow into people who cannot cope with their own lives, let alone that of a ten-year-old.

I cannot think of any book with which to compare it. Some parts reminded me of Jonathan Coe, who writes about the 1970s with verve and painful truthfulness. Some parts could have been written by Scarlett Thomas, who has the same knack as Amanda Coe for writing about terrible tragedies with a matter-of-factness that makes the horrors on the page all the more vivid and heart stopping. On the whole, however, comparisons to other novels are impossible. This is a truly original work. It's a bleak book, written in a detached style that carefully ensures that the children's narrative voices don't sound twee and annoying or are dripping with nudge nudge wink wink dramatic irony to make the grown ups feel all knowledgeable and clever.

I read this book in one single sitting, although I admit I had to stop reading sometimes and think happy thoughts before continuing. The bleakness and horror creep up on you without warning. Instances of terror are written of so lightly that I found myself not fully absorbing what I had read and having to rewind a few sentences to make sure I had understood it correctly.

Amanda Coe is a truly gifted writer. Her unsentimental approach to life's big and small triumphs and horrors is wonderful and, frankly, petrifying.


What They Do In The Dark
, by Amanda Coe

ISBN 9781844087068

Publication date: 7 July 2011




Android Karenina

I don't know about you, but I'm not a huge fan of Leo Tolstoy. Anna Karenina took me about a month to trawl through and I cursed myself throughout for ever having picked it up and for believing that it's one of those books one has to read since it's a masterpiece. For those of you not familiar with the plot: it's about society lady Anna Karenina who is married to Alexei Karenin, a government hotshot. She begins an affair with Count Vronsky and it all goes downhill from there - for Anna, Vronsky, the minor characters (who are all as dull as ditchwater) and ultimately the reader as well, on whom it slowly begins to dawn he should be reading something light and cheerful like The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire instead.

If there ever was a book in dire need of a Quirk Classics mash-up, Anna Karenina is it; this is one story where zombies, mummies, werewolves or vampires would stir things up a bit. As it happens, the responsibility falls to androids (I suspect purely because it sounds nice and punny in place of "Anna"). I am happy to report they do a terrific job.

In Android Karenina every human of standing owns an android for company. They braid your hair, comfort you when you're unhappy, make you endless cups of tea and save you from a Giant Eyeless Worm attack.  Where do these worms come from? They seem to be androids too, but who commissioned them and to what purpose? Could they be the work of UnConSciya, the Union of Concerned Scientists, whose members foresee a dystopia in which the government's relentless forays into Artificial Intelligence will go too far and robots ultimately usurp humans?

Amid the (human) characters'  struggles with infidelity, child rearing, wanting to be a part of Society, falling in and out of love and dark thoughts of suicide, the Worms and other koschei rear their ugly android heads ever more frequently. Also, is Konstantin Levin (the novel's only character with an infallible moral compass) seeing things or are the koschei getting bigger? Why, this last Cockroach was the size of an elephant! Levin is among the first to suspect that the rebellious UnConSciya may have been right all along and that the defenders of Mother Russia are not as protective of the people as they seem....

Whereas Anna Karenina cost me a month of my life I'll never get back, Android Karenina took a little less than a week to read. The story and characters are ultimately the same, but the hair-tearingly idiotic bores of the original are cleverly offset by Ben Winters' steam- and cyberpunk inventions. Like the zombies in Austen, they are not merely a lazy twist to draw the punters in. The original is actually enhanced by the robots and I'm not just saying that because I dislike it. The inclusion of robots cleverly shows the people's blind trust in the government in a way that is only apparent in Tolstoy if you know a little about nineteenth-century Russia. Moreover, people's personalities are explained not through their treatment of each other but through their treatment of the androids around them, who have been programmed according to the Iron Laws. One of these Laws is: an android must always obey a human even if the human commands it to harm itself.... What's that saying? Judge people on how they treat their inferiors?

Ben Winters strips the gloss right off these seemingly civilised Society ladies and gentlemen; Tolstoy takes aeons to do so. This alone makes Android Karenina a relief to read. I recommend this book to all fans of H.G. Wells, Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick. You won't be disappointed. Or bored to tears.

Android Karenina, Leo Tolstoy and Ben H. Winters
ISBN: 9781594744600
Quirk Classics, 2010

Patty. -xxx-

PS - Quirk are once again giving away prize packs to blog readers! The link isn't up yet (I think it's still the middle of the night in the US, but it's 8 June over here in Europe), but if you want to be in with a chance of winning some Android Karenina goodies, keep your eyes on for further instructions. Good luck!

ETA: Please click this link if you want to be in with a chance of winning some great Quirk Classics prizes!

May. 5th, 2010

Just out of curiosity: if you're in the UK, how are you voting tomorrow?

Poll #1560493 Elections
This poll is closed.

Will you be voting:

Lib Dem

Why are you voting for this party?


I bought the Millennium trilogy for my Summer reading. I thought, Ah, just read the prologue and maybe the first chapter and then leave it until it's lying-in-the-sun-with-a-cocktail time. Twenty pages in, however, I was hooked.

I'm now on page 330 of the first book and I cannot put it down. If you haven't read this book, DO SO NOW!

I cannot believe how brilliant The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is. I never ever read a crime novel quite like it and I can't recommend it enough.

It has all the best bits of John Grisham (one man against a fraudulent corporation); Minette Walters (social conscience); Agatha Christie (classic locked-room whodunnit) and Thomas Harris (eye-watering torture).

It's a masterpiece.