This was mentioned in comments some time ago – military expert help needed

So, a sniper rifle that’s fully silenced. In he comments a story was mentioned about an SAS (?) bloke who’d used one in Iraq (?) to explode the head of a bomb making trainer. His recruits rather melted away.

Near entirely silent, subsonic bullet, sound of the action itself only apparently.

So, what’s the rifle called?

To elaborate a bit. In the story, as I recall it, range was only 400 metres. That fits i with what I want my character to have to do….

There’s an intense strangeness to this argument

The American Dream is that idea that in a free society you can indeed get ahead. Starting from near whatever point you can, by dint of work, application and that modicum of luck necessary in any human life gain a proper foothold on the economic ladder. Can, in fact, move up to the sort of riches and security which were nothing but a dream to earlier generations – and to distressingly large numbers of people out there in other countries.

So, here we’ve got a woman writing an acclaimed book telling us how hard this all is. How she worked as a maid and this proves the American Dream doesn’t work. Except, of course, having an acclaimed book published when one has been working as a hard pressed maid is a proof of that very American Dream, isn’t it?

I like this argument, it’s excellent

Why are we so obsessed with young, successful people like Sally Rooney?
Ammar Kalia
The author’s achievements are considerable – but it’s her talent that matters, not her age

Great. So, now we can reject all arguments that simply come from young people, can’t we? All that about being the inheritors so therefore their voice must be heard etc, rubbish, for it’s only talent that matters.

Good, glad that’s sorted.

Explains a lot about Dan Brown novels

4am starts and spinach smoothies: Da Vinci Code’s Dan Brown on how to write a bestseller

Hey, we’re in a market economy, don’t knock it too hard. But that the novels are written at sparrowfart through the miasma of a diet of liquidised spinach doesn’t exactly surprise, does it?

About Gulag Archipelago

Just a little observation.

When published in paperback it was in three volumes. The full one that is.

That first volume is really easy to find second hand. Used (some time ago to be sure) to clog up second hand and tat bookshops.

The second volume was harder to find, quite rare in fact.

The third volume, not sure I’ve even seen it on Amazon.

I assume that sales rather dropped off for the later volumes….

Basically, David Graeber has just invented the B Ark

Sean Illing
Give me some examples of bullshit jobs.

David Graeber
Corporate lawyers. Most corporate lawyers secretly believe that if there were no longer any corporate lawyers, the world would probably be a better place. The same is true of public relations consultants, telemarketers, brand managers, and countless administrative specialists who are paid to sit around, answer phones, and pretend to be useful.

A lot of bullshit jobs are just manufactured middle-management positions with no real utility in the world, but they exist anyway in order to justify the careers of the people performing them. But if they went away tomorrow, it would make no difference at all.

And that’s how you know a job is bullshit: If we suddenly eliminated teachers or garbage collectors or construction workers or law enforcement or whatever, it would really matter. We’d notice the absence. But if bullshit jobs go away, we’re no worse off.

And we could add anthropology professors to the list….

Fun bit

So, watching an old “Endeavour” (ie, “Young Morse Meets Oxford”) over the weekend and a little bit.

“Sgt Vimes of Cable St” taught Inspetor Thursday something or other about how to be a vicious copper but a just one.

Rather a nice Sir Pterry reference I thought….


Authors laid the blame for the decline at the feet of publishers, with the Society of Authors chief executive Nicola Solomon estimating that authors were paid just 3% of publishers’ turnover in 2016, based on their profits.

A reasonable guess is that the farmer receives, for his labour, less than 3% of the price of a loaf of bread. And?

This is a pity about Dan Davies

That’s the City type who used to write for The Guardian, Crooked Timber, Dan Davies. Not someone I like nor agree with – I have more than just a suspicion that the feeling is entirely mutual – but there has always been an enviable verve to his writing. Sure, some of the stylistic tricks* can become overdone but there’s none of us not guilty of that.

There there’s this extract from his book.

All that life and joy seems to have gone from the style. Might be the way The Guardian has extracted, might be the editor ironing it out for the book buying public. But a pity all the same.

**Footnotes to footnotes***
*** As with Gibbon, that’s where all the jokes are****.
**** Or the dirty bits at least.*****
***** In Latin

Sir Pterry wrote documentaries, not fiction

In one sense of course this is true as he did rather illustrate the human condition. But in another sense too:

Mayhem. There are 200 or more guys crushed together, a bit like a rugby scrum, which is known as “the sway”. The idea is that you try to move the “hood” – a leather cylinder about 2ft long – to whichever of the village pubs you favour. I’ve seen hedges go down and cars moved out of the road by the weight of this mass of humanity. The steam that comes off them is incredible. It’s rough.

Would fit rather nicely into Unseen Academicals, wouldn’t it?

For Tim Newman and similar

Something we’re going to try over at the other place:

We’re going to start a new section here at the Continental Telegraph. We will indeed be having a standard review section but why not slightly turn the idea upon its head? Have the readership here being the reviewers?

That means that we’re looking for extracts from books that you’ve published. There’s not exactly a great shortage of self-published e-books these days after all. Let us have your sample chapter say – the one you already allow people to read for free as a taster. Or if you’re pushing out a poem or two, or a review, or a part of a story, that’s fine. Let us publish, on an entirely non-exclusive basis, that bit you’re already allowing people to read for free.

We’ll publish a set of them each weekend. Our readers get a taste of you and your work. No doubt some will offer criticism of it – sometimes robust. Both sides here get something useful. Authors an exposure to the reading public, the public an exposure to authors and works they might not otherwise hear of.

Send an email to “” with the extract. Also, let us know where the complete, or perhaps other of your, works are for sale. We’ll see how it all works out.

An interesting example of inflation – or something

Looked at a book project listing. Write genre novels to our structure sorta thing. Crank out 80,000 words a month. Entirely achievable if that’s your sorta thing.

Payment, penny a word.

Which is about what people got for pulp novels back in the 1950s.

$800 a month was good money back then, not so much now. Today you’d only do it as training to do your own genre novels. But then, if you could crank them out like that already then you wouldn’t need the training.

Slightly odd here

A country manor house that inspired Thomas Hardy is at the centre of a planning row as the local council recommended 120 houses be built next door.

The development near Dorchester in Dorset would “ruin the environs” of Elizabethan Grade I listed Wolfeton House which the great novelist frequently visited, according to the Hardy Society.


Tony Fincham, of the Hardy Society, said: “This proposed development is within 200 yards of Wolfeton House and it will damage the environs of the 16th century house, which remains in appearance exactly as described by Hardy.”

He added: “It’s not good news for those concerned about preserving Thomas Hardy’s landscape, which is an integral part of his literary heritage.”

Not going to change Hardy’s heritage at all now, is it? Because, you know, he wrote the description down in a book ‘n’all?