Acceptable Risk – season 1

Acceptable Risk is an Irish television crime drama series …

… stars Elaine Cassidy as Dublin-based Sarah Manning, whose husband Lee is murdered whilst on a business trip in Montreal. Filmed between Ireland and Canada …

I’ll definitely be watching season 2.

This show has potential.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Rather Be the Devil by Ian Rankin

Rather Be the Devil (2016) is the 21st instalment in the Inspector Rebus series of crime novels.

I recall thinking that Exit Music (2007) was intended to be the Rebus exit.  Seemed Siobhan Clarke would be the successor.

In this book — as good as any of the previous ‘Big Ger’ Cafferty makes a comeback.

It’s almost believable how Rankin put together a plot to have Fox and Clarke and Rebus working together again.  Even though Rebus is sick and has to often run home to take care of his mutt.

It’s difficult for Rankin to permanently retire Rebus. They’re both from Cardenden, both live in the south side, both love vinyl, both drink in the Oxford Bar.

Big Ger Cafferty was living in Rankin’s current residence in Merchiston.

To write Rankin isolates himself in a remote peninsula called Black Isle.  No TV.  No phone network. 





Rise and Fall of the American Empire – Wade Davis

UPDATE – Deanna Kreisel posted a rebuttal to the Wade Davis article:

The Unraveling of “The Unraveling of America”

Wade Davis is a Colombian / Canadian professor of anthropology and the BC Leadership Chair in Cultures and Ecosystems at Risk at the University of British Columbia.

One brilliant man.

A recent article of his in Rolling Stone sums up how COVID-19 signals the end of the American era.

In a dark season of pestilence, COVID has reduced to tatters the illusion of American exceptionalism. …

No empire long endures, even if few anticipate their demise …

In 1940, with Europe already ablaze, the United States had a smaller army than either Portugal or Bulgaria. Within four years, 18 million men and women would serve in uniform, with millions more working double shifts in mines and factories that made America, as President Roosevelt promised, the arsenal of democracy.

When the Japanese within six weeks of Pearl Harbor took control of 90 percent of the world’s rubber supply, the U.S. dropped the speed limit to 35 mph to protect tires, and then, in three years, invented from scratch a synthetic-rubber industry that allowed Allied armies to roll over the Nazis. At its peak, Henry Ford’s Willow Run Plant produced a B-24 Liberator every two hours, around the clock. Shipyards in Long Beach and Sausalito spat out Liberty ships at a rate of two a day for four years; the record was a ship built in four days, 15 hours and 29 minutes. A single American factory, Chrysler’s Detroit Arsenal, built more tanks than the whole of the Third Reich. 

In the wake of the war, with Europe and Japan in ashes, the United States with but 6 percent of the world’s population accounted for half of the global economy, including the production of 93 percent of all automobiles. … 

COVID-19 didn’t lay America low; it simply revealed what had long been forsaken.

As the crisis unfolded, with another American dying every minute of every day, a country that once turned out fighter planes by the hour could not manage to produce the paper masks or cotton swabs essential for tracking the disease. The nation that defeated smallpox and polio, and led the world for generations in medical innovation and discovery, was reduced to a laughing stock as a buffoon of a president advocated the use of household disinfectants as a treatment for a disease that intellectually he could not begin to understand.

… With less than four percent of the global population, the U.S. soon accounted for more than a fifth of COVID deaths. … 

Odious as he may be, Trump is less the cause of America’s decline than a product of its descent. As they stare into the mirror and perceive only the myth of their exceptionalism, Americans remain almost bizarrely incapable of seeing what has actually become of their country.  …

The Unraveling of America


If Trump were gone tomorrow, the USA is still screwed because of FOX News and right wing media. And the GOP.

If a vaccine were available tomorrow, half of Americans would refuse to take it.

Wade Davis:

… even should Trump be resoundingly defeated, it’s not at all clear that such a profoundly polarized nation will be able to find a way forward. For better or for worse, America has had its time. …

BAYONNE, NJ – MAY 3: A wind blown American flag at the Tear Drop 9/11 Memorial flies over the skyline of New York City as the sun sets on May 3, 2020 in Bayonne, New Jersey. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)

The Cypress House by Michael Koryta

Arlen Wagner can tell when people face imminent death.  He’s a is a World War I veteran trying to get by during the Great Depression by working for one of the government coservation projects.

He’s traveling with 19-year-old Paul Brickhill, an interesting character.

They get unexpectedly stranded at the Cypress House–an isolated Gulf Coast boarding house run by the beautiful Rebecca Cady–directly in the path of an approaching hurricane.

I wouldn’t say this is Koryta’s best.  And it’s quite different.

Still, I enjoyed it. Koryta is one of the best writers working today.


The Wife Between Us (2018)

by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen.

The Wife Between Us worked for me.  I enjoyed it, surprised by the plot twists.

Not everyone agrees.  And it is a little complicated to follow.

Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners bought the film rights so you could wait for the movie.

Richard seems the attentive, concerned husband at the start.  This is the story of the women in his life.

The Splendid and the Vile by Erik Larson

Erik Larson is a non-fiction author.

I loved The Devil in the White City (2003), his book on the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago.

Larson’s 2020 book sounded interesting too.  So I borrowed Splendid and the Vile from the library.

It’s a new look at Churchill as war Prime Minister from the point of view of his family and friends.   His 18-year-old daughter, for example, partying in London during the Blitz.

About 43,000 civilians were killed in Nazi bombings.  But they stayed the course.  Not many in London wanted to surrender.

Interesting anecdotes are included.   Rudolf Hess flying to Scotland, for example.

I was intrigued by the story of Harry Hopkins, Roosevelt‘s closest advisor on foreign policy during World War II.

One of the architects of the New Deal, Hopkins also supervised the $50 billion Lend Lease program of military aid to the Allies.

In fact, you could argue that Hopkins was essential is starting to bring the USA into the war.

After Churchill himself, I enjoyed most stories of Lord Beaverbrook, William Maxwell Aitken, Churchill’s friend and frenemy.   What a life!

The Splendid and the Vile

A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz

On Winston Churchill’s first day as prime minister, Adolf Hitler invaded Holland and Belgium. …

For the next twelve months, Hitler would wage a relentless bombing campaign, killing 45,000 Britons. It was up to Churchill to hold his country together and persuade President Franklin Roosevelt that Britain was a worthy ally—and willing to fight to the end.

Churchill was not at all perfect. Yet he was the perfect choice for wartime Prime Minister facing impossible odds.

He would have been excellent, for example, at handling the COVID-19 pandemic.

Churchill taught the British people “the art of being fearless.”  His many eccentricities were an advantage.

Bikepacking South Korea

This sounds ideal to me.

The Four Rivers Trail, launched 2012, runs from the N.W. corner of South Korea to the S.E. corner spanning almost 600 km.  Some claim Korea has the most advanced bike-touring infrastructure on Earth.

You can start from either Incheon or Seoul.

It’s mostly a flat paved route dedicated to cycling.

Read a 2013 trip report.

There are many other excellent long distance cycling paths in South Korea, as well.

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett

Brit Bennett can write.

She studied at Stanford, University of Michigan, and Oxford.

The Vanishing Half was #1 on the New York Times best-seller list June 2020.

But I read it as recommended for privileged white people trying to better understand the African American experience.


Spanning nearly half a century, from the 1940s to the 1990s, the novel focuses on twin sisters, Desiree and Stella Vignes, who were raised in Mallard, Louisiana, a (fictional) small town conceived of by their great-great-great grandfather — after being freed by the father who once owned him — as an exclusive place for light-skinned blacks like him.

“In Mallard, nobody married dark,” Bennett writes starkly.

Over time, its prejudices deepened as its population became lighter and lighter, “like a cup of coffee steadily diluted with cream.” The twins, with their “creamy skin, hazel eyes, wavy hair,” would have delighted the town’s founder.

Yet fair skin did not save their father, whose vicious lynching by a gang of white men marks the girls irrevocably.

Nor did it save their mother from an impoverished existence cleaning for rich white people in a neighboring town, and it won’t save the twins from an equally constricted life if they stay in Mallard.

We learn in the first few pages that at 16, Desiree and Stella ran off to New Orleans, two hours away, but “after a year, the twins scattered, their lives splitting as evenly as their shared egg.

Stella became white and Desiree married the darkest man she could find.” …

‘The Vanishing Half’ Counts The Terrible Costs Of Bigotry And Secrecy

Dreaming of Senja, Norway

I loved my trip to Lofoten, Norway in 2018.

What’s next?

Senja, even further north of the Arctic Circle.

click for larger version

Norway’s second-largest island, rivals Lofoten and Vesterålen for natural beauty yet attracts a fraction of the visitors.

Norway is the most expensive place I’ve ever been.

So I’d fly in with a bike and camping gear.  Sleep most nights outdoors.  Norway has a freedom to roam law so you can tent almost anywhere for free.

The weather is frightful, of course.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Running Stairs

Just back from 17 days cycling Vancouver to Calgary, more cycling wasn’t going to do much more for my fitness.

I decided to run stairs, instead.

Over time I’ll …

    • Increase the number of climbs.
    • Decrease time for the same number.
    • Switch to 2 and then 3 steps at a time.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube. Stairs are UP ONLY due to COVID-19 distancing.


Click PLAY or see Glenmore Park on YouTube.

Related – Running stairs at the University of Florida stadium in Gainesville.