Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz

I am a big fan of the Millennium series of Swedish crime novels written by Stieg Larsson.

Punk super hacker Lisbeth Salander is one of the most compelling characters in modern fiction.

I actually like Mikael Blomkvist too.

Both the Swedish and America film versions were excellent as well.

Stieg Larsson died of a heart attack in 2004.  So The Girl in the Spider’s Web (original title in SwedishDet som inte dödar oss, literally “That which does not kill us”) is the fourth novel … written by David Lagercrantz.

Lagercrantz was given free rein by Larsson’s estate. Personally I think this book is better than the first three.

The plot is action packed: hackers, an autistic boy genius, Lisbeth’s twin sister.

Click PLAY or watch the trailer of the 2018 film version on YouTube. This film doesn’t seem to have much to do with the book, however.

And it lost money at the box office. AND it’s only 41% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’d still like to see it.





Antarctic cruises from Ushuaia

More and more people are keen to visit Antarctica.

I’m one of them.

Most cruises start out of Ushuaia, Argentina as it’s closest.

In the past some have found discount, last-minute cruises for as little as US$2500. More often it’s US$3,500 – 4,000.

I’ve talked to quite a few who did a cruise in 2019. They all paid much more. Sounds like the very lowest price this season was $5000.

Too much for me.

Welfare Ranching: Subsidized Destruction of the American West

I’m definitely going to eat less beef in future. Cows are TERRIBLE for the environment.

Ranchers on BLM (Bureau of Land Management) property have 94 percent of their grazing costs covered by taxpayers. …

Ranchers leasing BLM land cost taxpayers an estimated $500 million a year (and probably much more—some say a billion dollars).

According to Stephen Nash’s Grand Canyon for Sale, about 15,000 ranchers receive a $33,000 from the federal government annually.

This windfall of this bill comes in the form of radically reduced leasing fees (that some ranchers, such as Cliven Bundy, refuse to pay altogether). The cost of grazing cattle on privately owned land in the West is $21.60. BLM ranchers pay $1.41 per animal unit month (AUM), the amount of monthly forage eaten by a cow and her calf. In essence, ranchers on BLM land have 94 percent of their grazing costs covered by taxpayers. …

These subsidies apply to only 2.7 percent of livestock producers in the United States. Six percent of beneficiaries get 66 percent of the proceeds. So, rather than these subsidies leading to cheaper meat (which might, depending on one’s economic philosophy, justify them), the program tends to benefit corporate ranchers with names such as Koch, Walmart, and Hilton. …


Welfare Ranching: The Subsidized Destruction of the American West tells the story of a vast region, sparsely populated by people but tragically battered by an activity many of us have mistakenly believed is benign.

In fact, the production of livestock is incompatible with the ecological health of much of the lands in the West.

Aridity is chief among the factors limiting compatible uses of western landscapes. Over decades, the placement of exotic, water-hogging, ill-adapted livestock on western lands has changed diverse native plant communities …

The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles

I’d long wanted to read this book.

It’s on every list of TOP TRAVEL NOVELS.

And it gets great reviews.

I was disappointed. There are no appealing characters. No real plot. Nothing resolved.

It a Sommerset Maugham travel novel writ more poorly.

It’s as over-rated as In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin, another title frequently on those lists. (I did love Chatwin’s Songlines.)

The Sheltering Sky is a 1949 novel of alienation and existential despair by American writer and composer Paul Bowles. …

Port Moresby and his wife Kit, a married couple originally from New York, travel to the North African desert accompanied by their friend Tunner.

The journey, initially an attempt by Port and Kit to resolve their marital difficulties, is quickly fraught by the travelers’ ignorance of the dangers that surround them.

The novel was adapted by Bernardo Bertolucci into a 1990 film with the same title starring Debra Winger and John Malkovich …

Sounds like it should be great. But Rotten Tomatoes only has it at 50%.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Roger Ebert compared the film to “A Passage to India” and “Picnic at Hanging Rock” – both of them stories about conventional Europeans who find themselves lost in the overwhelming mystery of ancient continents.

Airman by Colfer (2008)

Colfer is the Artemis Fowl author. This book could be classified Young Adult.

Airman is an historical adventure novel set in the 19th century.

Connor Broekhart was born to fly. In fact he was born in a hot air balloon.

Wrongly imprisoned, he invents a (highly unlikely) way to escape a prison island. By flying.

This is a lightweight but creative novel. It did keep me going.

The villain, Bonvilain, is the most entertaining character.

1939 American NAZI rally New York

It’s an unlikely Oscar contender.

Marshall Curry’s “A Night at the Garden” has been nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary Short.

The film, entirely comprised of archival footage, shows a 1939 rally of American Nazis at New York City’s Madison Square Garden.

The rally drew 20,000 people on the eve of World War II.

“The lesson of the film,” Curry told, is that “we are vulnerable to leaders who will stir us up against each other.”

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

FOX News refused to air an advertisement for the documentary. Other networks did.

I believe FOX National News has a pro-Trump bias. They believe this rally is somewhat similar to Trump’s.

Like American NAZI’s, Trump uses the phrase ‘America First’.

Click PLAY or watch the entire film on YouTube.

Charles Darwin – Voyage of the Beagle


I read this book in advance of heading down to Tierra del Fuego (Land of Fire) and did find it interesting.

For the time Darwin was an enlightened man. Though he believed the British were doing good bringing civilization and Christianity to the savages, he did come up with the theory of evolution based on this trip. Today the FACT of evolution.

Darwin was open minded enough to believe what he saw with his own eyes.

I was surprised to realize that the Beagle voyage was very late in the takeover of South America by Europeans. Population of Montevideo, Uruguay was already 15,000 by the time Darwin got there.

Magellan got to Tierra del Fuego over 300 years earlier. Cook over 60 years earlier.

Darwin’s captain was Robert FitzRoy.

Mount Fitz Roy (ArgentinaChile) was named after him … though misspelled.


The Voyage of the Beagle is the title most commonly given to the book written by Charles Darwin and published in 1839 as his Journal and Remarks, bringing him considerable fame and respect. This was the third volume of The Narrative of the Voyages of H.M. Ships Adventure and Beagle, the other volumes of which were written or edited by the commanders of the ships. …

The Beagle sailed from Plymouth Sound on 27 December 1831 under the command of Captain Robert FitzRoy.  …

Darwin spent most of this time exploring on land (three years and three months on land; 18 months at sea). The book is a vivid travel memoir as well as a detailed scientific field journal covering biology, geology, and anthropology  …