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This in the 18th or so John Rebus (and 3rd Malcolm Fox) book by Ian Rankin. It wasn't a bad read. Perhaps not the best Rebus book I've read (well definitely not, if I'm honest), but it was a good read all the same.

In this book, Rebus, who's wangled himself a job on Scotland's equivalent of New Tricks, accidentally (on purpose) backs himself into a multiple murder inquiry when a "Cold Case" he's working on is linked to a mass murderer stalking women of Scotland's A9 trunk road.

It wan't a bad read, it just stretched credibility on occasions when Rebus was dealing with Malcolm Fox (an Internal Affairs officer who had an unreasonably silly lock on Rebus) and certain members of the Edinburgh underworld. Overall, though it wasn't a bad read. Not the greatest book in the series, but still pretty good.

An interesting comment from a student

One of the things I've got to teach at the moment is DNA in my Senior Year class, and I had the students brainstorm what they knew about DNA. It was this that caused the interesting student comments.

First the students in China seem to think they are descended from Homo Erectus, which startled me when I heard it a couple of years ago. I'm not sure if the idea came from a particular bad teacher, or if it's general across Chinese students, but that idea is there.

This lead to an interesting digression into "reliability of evidence." They've been told the evidence is there by Historians (not necessarily the best explainers of biology), so we had a discussion about the reliability of evidence for a while.

The other thing that surprised me is that Chinese have no idea of their boarders. I was explaining that one route that early man might have gained access to China was through India. They were convinced that China shouldn't have a boarder with India. Not that the boarder is in the wrong place, but that if India ceded it's claim, they wouldn't have a boarder at all. I ended up having to pull up a map to prove them wrong,



No offence to the Chinese, but they can be weird sometimes.
This was a sort of depressing book. It was about the semi-religious "goings on" near the SAS camp in Herefordshire.

Rickman's main characters are Merrily Watkins (the diocesan exorcist), her 18 year old daughter, Jane, and their friends. In this book, Watkins Snr.'s approached over an issue by a colleague who's returned to the SAS as pastor (he'd been in the force, before joining the priesthood). In response to the meeting, she does some digging into the issues that the guy raises (as does her daughter), which leads them to investigate old school Roman religions, and their impacts on local people, leading to some grisly results.

It's a good book, just somewhat depress depressing. We find out who the murderer is, sure, but it's not exactly the happiest of endings, so if you were to read the series I wouldn't necessarily start here.

Shanghai taxi drivers aren't good either

I complained a while ago about Ningbo taxi drivers, saying they didn't know their ar** from a hole in the wall when it comes to finding where I live. Well I was up for training in Shanghai, and the taxi driver couldn't find a really big hotel just off the main tourist thoroughfare in Shanghai. Given that, maybe Shanghai taxi cabs aren't that competent either

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I hate.....

working in the run up to Christmas.

I know everyone outside teaching does it, that I'm still getting a day either side off, and that I'll get a good break in February, but it was one of the pluses of teaching.
are going grey. I might understand it happening to 1 or 2, but it happens to a lot more than that here. I guess it's stress related (the kids are put under so much parental expectation it's scary), but even so... And I'm not talking about the odd hair either, some have a goodly chunk of the stuff.

I finished "NW" by Zadie Smith

"NW", by Zadie Smith is about a group of friends who grew up on a council estate in North West London (hence the title). The core of the book focuses on 2 friends who got out. Some of their friends moved sideways. Others slipped into heavy duty drug up.

It wasn't a bad book. It's certainly well written. For example, she caught how they talk to each other pretty well. It's just a little depressing. No one, even the girls who got out, are particularly happy. I don't expect my books to necessarily end all rosy, but part of me hoped it'd end cheerier than this 1 did.

Ningbo taxi drivers suck.....

Trust me they really do. They beyond suck.

I returned from Shanghai last night (I was on a training session), and being a good little trouper I walked past all the guys trying to get you to use their illegal mini-cabs, and queued up for a proper taxi.

I gave him my card, pointed at the address and said "Zhenhai," to which I got a thumbs up and off we went. I got a distinct impression he hadn't got a bloody clue where Zhenhai was when he started calling people left and right as soon as we were round the corner.

This concerned me as Zhenhai isn't exactly small (250,000 people) and not exactly unknown to people (it's like an outer London borough in London). So I was somewhat shocked when we stopped after 30mins, and he told me to get out, that we'd arrived. There were 3 immediate problems with where we were (other than we weren't in Zhenhai).

First, he was trying to deposit me on an unpaved, unlit, side-walk next too a dual carriageway at 11:30pm. Why the hell would anyone ask to be deposited there?

Second, the card I gave him make it clear the address is for a school. Either side of the dual carriageway were field. I mean come on really?

Finally, I'm a white guy who's fairly smartly dressed, carrying a case, but no umbrella. What precisely do you think I would be doing there at that time? Yet there he was saying "Zhenhai.... Zhenhai" and waving his hands about madly.

The more I think about it, the more convinced I am that he didn't really fancy talking me to the fringes of the city.

Gosh darn it Barclaycard suck

They really do. Just trust me on that. I've used my card 3 times in the last 6 months (what can I say, I have a beyond phobic aversion to debt) and each time they've required me to call to clear payment.

I wouldn't mind so much, but for the fact that the 3 times I used it I was buying tickets from the same damn place each time. Apparently that's very much like "fraudulent activity."

In addition, across the 3 transactions I've spoken to maybe 10 people, and spent maybe 90mins on the phone for a card I rarely use. I mean come on Barclaycard, you really do blow.

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I made an innocuous comment about the Chinese making a land grab for the Spratly Island (which by anyone's definition aren't in Chinese territorial water) today and got told that China can do pretty much whatever it wanted to locally because they're really powerful now.

Now I know that I can be a "Little Britain" type who's irrationally proud of our imperial past. I know that I get irritated by people who say that we should be embarrassed by what we did (being honest I tend to think of the Monty Python sketch "What have the Romans ever done for us?" when they do), but not even I would go so fair as to claim what my colleague claimed.

I know we pretty much strip mined some places, but with the exception of China (let's face it us Brits and Frogs were the biggest drug dealers in the world -the population of China actually WENT DOWN because we got them so off their face), we gave back too.

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