Monday, 31 December 2007

Predictions for gold and silver for 2008

Throwing ball in the waves beyond Fort Lauderdale's Las Olas Beach reminded me of gold's action today - it's just treading water. My predictions for gold and silver in 2008 are as likely as anyone's to be right - or wrong. However, I'd be surprised if gold did not reach $1000 and silver $26 this year!

Happy New Year whether you are invested in the bull market in the precious metals or taking exams in the coming year. As a Chinese student wished me over Christmas - "Many luck with females!"

Now, where's that Hooters Bar?


Thursday, 27 December 2007

Gold like Florida is sunny today

Fort Lauderdale
Alligators from The Everglades

Coral Springs

Calling in from Coral Springs in Florida, USA where it's sunny and as unlike London as it possible to be!

Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Happy Christmas to all who arrive here!

A new link for studying Jane Austen

This is a very useful blogsite for reading essays on Austen's novels and for developing your understanding of the historical context in which Austen produced her novels (A.O. 5). There is a link for this blogsite just under "Jane Austen Links" near the image for Jane Austen in the links section on the right of this blog.

Saturday, 22 December 2007

Housing, US Dollars, Gold, PPI & Inflation - $10000 gold and 500 to $1000 silver!

Some commentators think that there will be one more frightening dip for gold investors. However, they then say that gold and silver with related equities will rise strongly. Fund manager and chart technician, Frank Barbara, is even more bullish for the prospects for gold and silver. He thinks that in the next few years we are on our way to $10000 gold and $500 to $1000 silver! These figures are at th higher end for commentators. Barabara sees we are heading towards some "very trying times".

Monday, 17 December 2007

Sunday, 16 December 2007

"So We'll Go No More A Roving" by Lord Byron

Katy Wehr has made a lovely, melodic interpretation of Lord Byron's lyrical poem.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Louise MacNiece's bleak poem "Prayer Before Birth"

W.B. Yeats's "The Second Coming"

Read in an expressive manner by Sam Waterston in the movie,"Nixon". (In a deleted scene?)

An animated version of "I am" by John Clare

Comments on Lord Byron's "So, We'll Go No More A Roving"

"So, We'll Go No More A Roving" by Lord Byron

Katy Wehr has made a lovely, melodic interpretation of Lord Byron's lyrical poem.

Here are a few interesting comments on the the origin of the poem and Byron's influences in writing it from the oddly named plagiarist poems website.

2002-10-28Added by: Maddy

In 1817 Byron was living in Venice, in the Palazzo Mocenigo. It was described by one of his friends as a cross between a brothel and a menagerie, since, as well as numerous prostitutes, Byron kept for company a number of peacocks and a monkey which were allowed to roam around the staircase to look ornamental (mind where you tread!). Downstairs he kept a wolf, a fox and other large beasties. He had grown fat and dressed in lavish clothing with many rings. Sometimes the other occupants of his palace disturbed his sleep with their squawking and quarrelling to the extent that he slept the night in his gondola on the lagoon.

It was during the famous Carnivale of Venice, when people roam the streets in masks and party for four days, that Byron wrote this charming poem.

It was immediately satirised with this shanty which is probably better known than the poem itself-

"A'rovin', a'rovin'!

Since rovin's been my ru-i-in,

I'll go no more a'rovin

with you, fair maid!

In Amsterdam there lived a maid,

mark well what I do say!

In Amsterdam there lived a maid,

and she was mistress of her trade,

I'll go no more 'arovin'

with you, fair maid!

I put my hand upon her waist

mark well what I do say!

I put my hand upon her waist

that was so trim and tightly lace

I'll go no more 'arovin'

with you, fair maid!

I put my hand upon her thigh

mark well what I do say!

I put my hand upon her thigh

She said "Young Sir, you're rather high!"

and so on.......

with you, fair maid!

2004-02-01Added by: KTGeorge Gordon

Lord Byron, wrote the poem So We’ll Go No More A-Roving when he was in his late twenties. The first line of the poem “So we’ll go no more a-roving” makes it seem unlikely that he was alone. Does it mean him and a woman or him and a friend? At the age of twenty-nine he wrote a letter to his friend Moore in which he included the poem. He wrote “Though I did not dissipate overmuch… yet I find “the sword wearing out the scabbard,” though I have but just turned the corner of twenty-nine.” So back to the first line of the poem. By “we”, does Lord Byron mean he and Moore? The weeks of dissipation he mentions are during the Venetian carnival.

The second stanza begins with the line “For the sword outwears its sheath.” He mentions this also in his letter to Moore. By sword, Byron means the soul, and by sheath, he means the body. Lord Byron is not at all old – he has just lived his life so wildly, so energetically, that he is already worn out. In fact, he dies at the young age of thirty-six. The second stanza:

For the sword outwears its sheath,
And the soul wears out the breast,
And the heart must pause to breathe,
And Love itself have rest.

Byron’s body cannot keep going at the pace he wants to. He is aware that he is wearing himself out. Byron was notorious for his extravagant way of life, for his love affairs and for his poetry. He was a handsome and wealthy young man, he seemed to have “a way with women.” He separated with from his wife soon after the birth of their daughter, and was rumoured to have had an incestuous relationship with his half-sister Augusta. He also had an affair with his friend’s half-sister, Claire Claremont during which she became pregnant. It seems that most of his time was taken up with women and loving. The third stanza begins:

Though the night was made for loving,

Does Byron think that that is all the night was made for? Not for sleeping? No wonder he is worn out. Now he realises that he has worn himself out, that he is paying the price for his wild youth. The poem is full of soft sounds, for example “sword,” “sheath” and “rest,” which portray Byron’s weariness. He uses long vowel sounds to emphasise the lethargy which he feels. He still loves, he still wants to love, but he realises that he is worn out and that they “will go no more a-roving / By the light of the moon.”

It seems a pity that such a great poet as Byron should waste away his life in this way.

Correction: Shanty preceded Byron's poem
2005-08-04Added by: Darcy Horrocks. Just to correct an error in Maddy's comment above:

The "shanty" is actually, or at least originally, "The Maid of Amsterdam" and it precedes Byron's poem by about 200 years, first appearing in 1608 in a London play by Robert Heywood called 'The Rape of Lucrece'.

"My Love Is Like A Red, Red Rose" by Robert Burns

"Ode To Autumn" by John Keats

"Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" by Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas's image reads his own poem - with the help of modern technology!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

AS Drama and Poetry Past Questions for Revision

Unit 1 Drama and Poetry

The Edexcel Poety Anthology (Section One: Post – 1770)

June 2001


(a) ‘Poetry allows poets to give form to experiences and feelings which are difficult to put into words’.

Do you agree with this view? You should base your answer on a detailed examination of two of the following: “Remember”; “All the Things You Are Not Yet”; an appropriate poem of your choice. Your two poems must cover two groups.


(b) From your reading of poems in this anthology do you agree that ‘a poem charts a developing thought’?

You should base your answer on a close examination of two or three poems, covering at least two groups.

TENNESSE WILLIAMS: A Streetcar Named Desire

(a) Using the opening stage directions of SCENE THREE as your starting point, explore the variety of Williams’s dramatic uses of colour and symbolism in the play as a whole.


(b) Stanley says to Stella in SCENE EIGHT ‘I am the king round here, so don’t forget it!’

Explore the ways in which Williams presents dramatically the relationships between men and women in the play as a whole. In your answer you should make detailed reference to at least two sequences from the play.

Unit 1 Drama and Poetry

January 2002

TENNESSE WILLIAMS: A streetcar named Desire


(a) It has been said that Williams deliberately sets up a patterns of tensions and conflicts in the play which culminate in the ending.

Do you agree? In your answer you should include a detailed examination of SCENE ELEVEN.


(b) ‘Blanche is. . . given to illusion, alcohol, dim lights and muted colours in the effort to make the harsh world bearable.’ (Elmer Andrews, 1996)

In the light of this comment, explore the varied means by which Williams presents the character, motivations and significance of Blanche. I your answer you should refer in detail to at least two scenes from the play.

The Edexcel Poety Anthology (Section One: Post – 1770)


(a) Do you agree that ‘a poet’s choice of form for their subject –matter can be surprising?

You should base your answer on a detailed examination of two of the following: ‘London’; ‘O What is That Sound’; an appropriate poem of your choice. Your two poems must cover two groups.


(b) Consider the various poetic means by which poets in this anthology explore the passage of time in their word.

You should base your answer on a detailed examination of two or three poems, covering at least two groups.

Unit 1 Drama and Poetry

June 2003

TENNESSE WILLIAMS: A streetcar named Desire


(a) Remind yourself of SCENE FIVE, from ‘BLANCHE: Ah me, ah, me, ah, me . . .’ to the end of the scene (pages 172-174 in the prescribed edition.)

‘Blanche deludes herself throughout the play’. Using an examination of the end of the SCENE FIVE as a starting point, explore Williams’s presentation of Blanche.


‘Death is my best theme, don’t you think?’ (Tennessee Williams)

Explore the varied dramatic uses Williams makes of death and dying in the play. In your answer you should refer to at least two extracts form the play.

The Edexcel Poety Anthology (Section One: Post – 1770)


(a) A poet claimed that he wrote poems, ‘to preserve things’ that he had seen, thought and felt.

Explore the things that poets in this anthology have preserved and the ways in which they have preserved them in their poetry. You should draw your appropriate material from at least two of the following: ‘Kubla Khan’; ‘An Arundel Tomb’; an appropriate poem of your own choice.

Your choice of poems must cover at least two groups.


(b) ‘Poetry is the best words in the best order.’

Explore at least two poems from the anthology where the poets’ choice of words and word order have made a particular impression on you as a reader or listener.

You choice of poems must cover at least two groups.

"Captain Corelli's Mandolin": AO1 Concept Map for Writing Essays

Press on the image to make it bigger.

The Fed cuts its main interest rate by 0.25% and the precious metals sector falls?

The Dow fell out of bed and the PM sector follows? Today was pure manipulation. TPTB could not afford to give the impression that gold and silver were about to move higher and the PM equities are still in lock step with the main market. Da Boyz who control the Dow and Nasdaq threw their toys out of their cots today because they were displeased with just a 0.25% cut in the base rate. As a result, the DOW fell almost 300 points!

Gold and silver and their related equities will climb in value despite today's shennanigans. The Fed cut rates and wanted to stop the impression that the Dollar would fall as a result. Temporary madness won out - but it cannot and will not last. In a few days, when Joe Sixpack is not looking the PM sector will do what it should have done today - and will do over the next few months!

Tuesday, 11 December 2007

The Western Banking System - "Made it Ma - Top of the World!"

Yesterday, UBS reported a further $10 billion in losses from sub prime/cdo fiasco. This was after reporting $1.5 billion dollars recently. The banking tsunami is still in its early phase. We've seen nothin' yet! In order to stay afloat UBS had sell a major chunk of their business to get vast sums from Singapore and the Middle East to make up for these losses.Time will whether these investments will make any difference to the survival of this bank and several others.

Meanwhile one wonders just what is "holding up" some of the western and asian banks. I'm reminded of the 1949 movie, "White Heat" in which the gangster, Cody Jarret (James Cagney) is shot by the FBI inside man, Edmond O'Brien. The latter shoots Cody several times and wonders "What's holding him up?" Cody shoots into the gas tanks below and bellows, "Made it Ma - top of the world!" before blowing himself to kingdom come. The banks finally made it to "The top of the world" only to risk implosion at the peak of their success!

Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Ideas for making creative presentations in class

It is probably better to focus on a chapter or small section of the text rather than dilute your effort on the novel or text as a whole. Of course, where appropriate, you should show how your chapter or section relates to other parts of the novel/text through characterisation, setting, themes, motifs, assessment objectives, etc.

You can work alone (if you prefer intrapersonal learning) or in pairs or groups of 3 or 4, if you prefer iterpersonal learning. If you do the latter just make sure that the others are not necessarily your friends. It will make you more objective.

You could use a past question from an exam paper as a prompt for planning your assignment. Answer the question by unravelling or/unpacking its key words and phrases.

Visual and spatial learners

  • Produce a mind-map on a crucial chapter or your author showing links to themes, characterisation, settings, motifs-imagery, themes, etc. Use images and colours to symbolise and evoke meaning. Try to cover responses by different readers over time or different interpretations of the same text. Watch out for ambiguities in the text.
  • A Power point on a chapter, author, important theme, character, the application of a critical reading/theory, historical and social context (of our time and/or the time when the novel is set. Are there any correspondences? What are the unresolved questions?)
  • Change the form of a chapter or extract to a scene for a drama or a television script. Think about interpretation, the audience, themes, characterisation, context, etc. – then act it out.

  • Create a collage on A2 on the authors, character(s), theme(s), motifs, critical reading(s), imagery, responses by different readers over time, using photographs, drawings or images from magazines, etc.

  • Produce a programme for a play or a poetry performance that encompasses themes, ideas, different critical responses, etc.
  • Create a blog with text, images and videos. You should also label your posts so you can organise your ideas around themes, characters, critical readings for different interpretations, narrative positioning, etc.

Visual linguistic learners

  • Write an essay using a former essay question for your text.
  • Write a letter from your Author, dramatist, poet in reply to criticism of the themes and ideas that are found in their novel, play or collection of poems. Place your reply within a historical context of the writer’s time.

Auditory learners

  • Give a talk with props and images on the historical background of the text. Talk about various critical responses to the text or author over time.

  • Role-play a scene from the text and discuss its significance for themes, motifs, imagery, characterisation, for the plot, themes, etc.
  • Adopt a character from a play, novel, etc., write a little dialogue that the character might use to get you going and then place the character in a "Big Brother"or "Blind Date" situation with other characters in which they meet for the first time, etc.

  • Write and perform a monologue in which you play one of the characters in role. Show your understanding of key themes and ideas, imagery, critical responses by readers over time, etc.

Kinaesthetic Learners

  • Select a chapter or extract from text and dramatise it. Explore characterisation, themes including motifs, historical background and ideas. Can you show different responses/interpretations by readers over time?
  • Create a number of freeze frames, either still or slow motion on important incidents, scenes, imagery, ideas, issues in your text. Can you show particular interpretations showing various viewpoints, etc…You can even digitally photograph your freeze-frames and present them with a voiceover or with background music using an electronic whiteboard

Revision study questions and essay topics for Jane Austen's "Emma"

Revision Study Questions and Essay Topics for Jane Austen’s Emma

Edexcel’s Assessment Objectives for this novel are broken down by marks awarded as follows:

10% 5i

You need to show understanding of the contexts in which literary texts are written and understood. (The literary context, position of women, pertinent themes, historical events, the importance of marriage, status, duty, folly, the big houses, theme of self knowledge, renewal of important families for political stability, etc.)

5% 1

Write in a manner that show knowledge, understanding and insight appropriate for literary study, using appropriate literary terms and accurate written expression.

5% 2i

Show that you can respond with knowledge and understanding to literary texts of different types and periods. ( Show that you can write about “Emma”.)

5% 3

Show detailed understanding of Austen’s use of form, structure and language and how this can shape meanings. (That is narrative stance, development of characterisation, contrasts between chapters, plot construction and the arrangement of events within the novel for emotional or artistic effects, the narrator’s use of irony, how chapters help develop chapters or themes, the use of “penetration”, climax or turning point, openings and endings, narration verses enactment, tone, etc.)

5% 4

Be prepared to give independent opinions and judgements, informed (influenced) by interpretations of the novel by other readings/readers of the novel. See my cards!)

Study Questions

1. Emma experiences several major revelations in the novel that fundamentally change her understanding of herself and those around her. Which revelation do you think is most important to Emma’s development, and why?

Remember that you would need brief, killer quotations to support your points so you can then make sustained comments on your evidence where appropriate.

Answer for Study Question #1

One way to answer this question would be to recognize that Emma undergoes her most decisive transformation when Mr. Elton proposes to her. At this point, she realises that she has been completely misguided in her interpretation of Elton’s behaviour, and she also realises that she herself is implicated in the courtship games that she believed she was manipulating from the sidelines. Another possible answer would focus on Emma’s revelation when Mr. Knightley reprimands her after she has insulted Miss Bates. At this moment, Emma understands that her vain pleasure in Frank’s flirtations and her sense of superiority to others in the community have been wrong. She also realises how much Knightley’s opinion means to her. One might also argue that Emma’s decisive transformation takes place when she realises that she loves Knightley, or when she agrees to marry him. A successful answer would consider the intensity of Austen’s language together with plot developments. For example, the episode in which Knightley reprimands Emma for insulting Miss Bates seems relatively unimportant in terms of the plot, but this scene includes some of the most emotional and dramatic language in the book.

2. In what ways, if at all, might Emma be considered a feminist novel?

Answer for Study Question #2
Emma may be considered a feminist novel because it focuses upon the struggles and development of a strong, intelligent woman. Though Emma’s activities—visits, parties, courtship, and marriage—are limited to the traditional sphere, the novel implicitly -critiques these limitations, and implies that Emma deserves a wider stage on which to exercise her powers. Furthermore, the novel -criticises the fact that women must be financially dependent by sympathetically depicting the vulnerability of Jane and Miss Bates.

Alternatively, the novel could be considered antifeminist because it seems to suggest that Emma reaches the pinnacle of her development when she accepts the corrections of a man, Mr. Knightley. Not only does Emma give up her former vow of celibate independence, but she marries an older man who is a father figure.

3. Frank Churchill and Mr. Knightley represent two different sets of values and two different understandings of manhood. Describe the values that each character represents, and explain how the novel judges these values.

Answer for Study Question #3
Frank Churchill is seen by many of the characters as an ideal man because of his good looks, warmth, and charm. He focuses most of his attention on determining what will please each person, and he makes his compliments with wit and style. However, the novel demonstrates that Frank is also flighty, unstable, and able to put his own wishes above social and moral propriety. Mr. Knightley, conversely, is Frank’s opposite in many ways. Though also polite and affectionate with those he cares for, Knightley is dignified and reserved. When he expresses an opinion, it is always the correct one and is stated with simplicity and firmness. The novel clearly values Knightley’s qualities above Frank’s. But the fact that Frank is forgiven at the end and rewarded with the love of a superior woman suggests that the book cannot entirely renounce its infatuation with Frank’s charms.

Suggested Essay Topics
1. To what extent does the narrator express approval of Emma, and to what extent does the narrator criticise her? Choose a passage from the novel and analyse the sympathy and/or ironic judgment the narrator expresses in relation to the protagonist.

2. Emma is filled with dialogue in which characters misunderstand each other. Choose a scene from the novel and describe the mixture of knowledge and ignorance that each character possesses, and how their situations influence the way they interpret each other’s statements. To what extent are we positioned to correct the misunderstanding, and to what extent do we share the misunderstanding until we have more information?

3. How does humour work in the novel? Select a speech made by Mr. Woodhouse, Miss Bates, or Mrs. Elton and describe the techniques Austen uses to make these characters look foolish. What contradictions, hypocrisies, or absurdities are put in their mouths? To what extent do we judge these characters negatively when we see that they are laughable?

4. Emma both questions and upholds traditional class distinctions. What message do you think the novel ultimately conveys about class?

5. Emma is clever but continually mistaken, kind-hearted but capable of callous behaviour. Austen commented that Emma is a heroine “no one but myself will much like.” Do you find Emma likable? Why or why not?

For more active exam practice
Try a timed answer or two using questions from past papers. You should also practice by unpacking questions' key words and phrases to get at their underlying assessment objectives and make brief essay plans.

(Take 10 minutes or so to compose a plan either as a spidergram or in bullet points. Either will help you impose a structure on your essay.)

Why not compose a question or two using the assessment criteria? If you revise with a friend you can set each other a question. This would be a very useful exercise and make you think about the text in an active manner. With luck you might even forecast the question that you will get in the Exam! There are only so many types of questions they can ask you.

Good luck – but I am sure that you can make your own!


Tuesday, 4 December 2007

A Head's Up Guide To "The Merchant's Tale" Part 2

This is a useful explanation of the second half of the Tale. It will help you understand the Tale as you read it in the original. It is by Dr. Dana Symons who has been credited below.

Heads up guide to the Merchant, part 2

Here's the interlinear translation and the Harvard page on the Merchant.
The first half of the Merchant's Tale generates sympathy for May through a detailed description of how January was rough in bed with her, including the narrator's comments that "The bryde was broght abedde as stille as stoon" (1818) and "God woot what that May thoughte in hir herte / Whan she hym saugh up sittynge in his sherte, / In his nyght-cappe, and with his nekke lene" (1851-53). We also don't have a very high opinion of January; he's gullible, but he's also overly concerned with his own desires. How does the narrative encourage us to respond to the characters in the second half? Is this a tale of a "wicked wife"?

How does Damian compare to other lovers we've seen? (Palamoun, Arcite, Nicholas, Absolom). Are we supposed to feel sympathy for him? And when January expresses concern over Damian's "sickness," does it make January seem more likable or sympathetic? Should we feel sorry for him? Or does it simply increase the irony of the situation? Later on, how should we interpret January's blindness? His jealousy?

Even more than in the first half of the tale, we get details about May's thoughts and feelings: though the narrator sometimes coyly says he can't say what she thought, on other occasions he gives us explicit details. What effect does this have? How does this treatment of a female character's desires and thoughts compare to the portrayal of other women in the Canterbury Tales? What does the fact that May reads Damian's letter in the privy, January's insistence on always having a hand on her once he's gone blind, and January's locked garden suggest about privacy in the tale?

Notice that line 1986, "Lo, pitee renneth soone in gentil herte!" is almost exactly the same as line 1761 of the Knight's Tale, "For pitee renneth soone in gentil herte." Why the echo? How should we interpret this?

When January and May are in the garden near the end of the tale, Pluto and Proserpina intervene. Pluto, like many other men in CT, rehearses a number of negative stereotypes about women gleened from various "auctoritees," but his wife Proserpina counters him by arguing that there are indeed many virtuous women too.

What does the debate of the gods here add to the tale's treatment of marriage and gender issues?

Finally, what was your reaction to the end of the tale?

by Dr. Dana Symons of Simon Fraser University

A Head's Up Guide To The "Merchant's Tale" Part 1

This is a useful explanation of the first half of the Tale. It will help you understand the Tale as you read it in the original. It is by Dr. Dana Symons who has been credited below.

Heads up guide to the Merchant

Here's the interlinear translation, though by this time you should really be reading on your own! See the Harvard page on the Merchant for a very brief summary and links to many analogues of the tale (our course text includes only one).

This poem is rife with irony, double meanings, and sly messing about with the reader. It's among Chaucer's best poetry, so don't be put off by what may seem intially a dry discourse of "authorities" on marriage - if you've been following what we've read so far, you'll begin to have an insider's understanding of what Chaucer is doing in this poem, and that insider's perspective should make these passages anything but dry. Get into the spirit of it if you can and wallow in Chaucer's clever manipulations of his materials. Here the Merchant openly gives voice to the marriage debate, which has been raging quietly (or perhaps not so quietly!) among the Canterbury pilgrims through their tales.

Notice first the Merchant's response to the Clerk's Tale (like the Host, he doesn't seem to get it - or maybe he does...). This tale takes us back to the fabliau genre but is written in a much more elevated style than the earlier fabliaux in CT. Like the Miller, the Merchant tells a tale of an older man (a knight) married to a very young woman, in this case with the names "January" and "May" to emphasize the mismatch in their ages. The tale is further complicated in the second half by the interference of the gods Pluto and Proserpine, who are a married couple themselves and take sides (more on that in the next "heads up guide"). Much of the first half of the tale is devoted to a debate on marriage, opened by the narrator's own discourse on marriage, perhaps drawing on the Clerk's Tale for some of the idealized notions about wives, and then conducted by January and his two brothers, Justinus and Placebo. January tells them he wishes a young wife because young wives are malleable, unlike older ones who have been schooled by clerks and are half clerks themselves (!). Placebo, a flatterer, agrees with everything January says, while Justinus argues against January taking a wife (even at one point citing the Wife of Bath!).

Much like the Wife of Bath's Prologue, the first section of the Merchant's Tale consists of quoting, paraphrasing, and glossing various authorities, in this case for or against marriage, so think about the arguments outlined in light of the other tales we've read; in particular, how does having read the Wife of Bath's Prologue and the Clerk's Tale affect your understanding of the many arguments that are made in the Merchant's Tale?

What does Justinus's citation of the Wife of Bath do to complicate further the multilayered Canterbury Tales narrative (that Chaucer can't let us forget for an instant who's in control of this reading experience, can he?).

Towards the end of the first section you are reading, January and May's wedding feast is held, which has some of the most elegant rhetorical flourishes in all of Chaucer's work. It's at the end of the feast that Damian, a young squire serving in January's household, is introduced as a rival for May's affections (you know what's coming now, don't you?). Both men are "ravished" by their desire for May, but the narrator leaves Damian to languish in lovesickness while he follows January and May into their nuptial bed. There, January's rough beard scratches May like sharkskin, his neck-skin shakes, and he talks to her in many a double entendre before lustily "playing" with her throughout the night. In the midst of this, the narrator says, "God knows what May thought in her heart."

Much food for thought here - I leave you to it. There will be a separate "heads up guide" for the second half of the tale.

by Dr. Dana Symons of Simon Fraser University

Monday, 3 December 2007

If The Dollar Falling Is Falling Like This . . .

Gold and silver equities should shortly do something like this:

Friday, 30 November 2007

Understanding a question's key words

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for writing an exam answer is simply understanding the question and its key words!
These words have featured in exam questions on Captain Corelli’s Mandolin and other Unit 4 novels over the last few years. Write brief definitions for these words. It is better that YOU do this rather than me – as you will remember YOUR definitions if you do. (It’s all about active learning!)






Fragmentation/fragmented narrative

Different points of view



Comedy and tragedy (find definitions from Aristotle for a deeper understanding. Wikipedia will be good enough, too.)

Treatment of social issues


Post modern nature of the text
(This needs to be defined, otherwise you will be using it as a cliché) Post modernism



Writing Exam Essays - preparation and structure

For Shakespeare/Emma/Poetry/Drama questions

In mixed ability groups of four
You need: a group leader to keep you all in line, a recorder to write down the group’s ideas and paragraphs and one or more spokespersons for feeding back the group’s essay work.

Choose a past question (Don’t waste too much time on this)
Analyse the question’s key words and phrases to get to the root of what is being asked of you.

Form the essay plan which will be composed of:

One main argument (the seat and support with four sub arguments –legs)

Write the introduction. This should contain your main argument. The sub arguments can wait until you reach them later.

Write one of the sub arguments up as a sustained paragraph. Remember to introduce with a topic sentence, give appropriate evidence, comment on your evidence and link it to the question’s key words or phrases or other aspects of the text and its arguments.

Explain your essay plans and read out your introductory paragraphs. Discuss all the group's essay plans and introductions in class so you can take into account other viewpoints and arguments.

Consider the relevance and richness of the evidence (quotations) that you intend to use in your essays. For instance, will you be able to sustain your points with them/or make links to other relevant parts/themes, etc. of the text?

Afterwards, write the essay for homework.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

"Captain Corelli's Mandolin": past exam questions from Edexcel

Captain Corelli’s Mandolin OLD Edexcel Exam Questions from the pre 2008 syllabus. NOTE that the assessment objectives have changed also in how they are numbered and in what they assess. Treat this page as useful but no longer applicable for the modern exam.

Answer one question in the exam

This unit (6394) targets Assessment Objectives AO1 and AO4 and also assesses AO3 and AO5ii.


Specimen Question Paper


(a) At the time of its first publication in 1994, reviewers of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin disagreed over the significance of some of it major characters.

Turn to Chapter 56 and to the paragraph that begins: ‘when the truck arrived at the pink walls of the brothel, Gunter Weber’s knees began to buckle’ (page 322 Minerva edition). Re-read to the end of the chapter.

Then turn to Chapter 73 and read the paragraph on p. 426 (Minerva edition) that begins ‘He wanted to do something to compensate’, and ends, ‘Or perhaps he’s a bishop.’

Using a careful consideration of these two extracts as your starting point, discuss the importance of Weber in this novel. Is he more significant to its plot and themes?


(b) By selecting and exploring three short examples of your own choice, consider the claim that the range of view points used in the novels conveys a world where the values and perspectives are constantly changing.



(a) ‘ . . . the spirit of Carlo Guercio shall live in the light as long as we have tongues to speak of him and tales to tell our friends.’

What contribution does de Bernieres’ portrayal of Carlo have on the total effect of the novel?


(b) Turn to Chapter 64, ‘Antonia’. About three and a half pages into the chapter, a paragraph begins: ‘The first great crisis of this life occurred in 1950 . . .’

Read from this point until the end of the chapter. What do you find of interest in this chapter, bearing in mind your knowledge of the whole novel?



(a) E.M. Forster once wrote: ‘I do not believe in Belief . . . Tolerance, good temper and sympathy – they are what matter really, and if the human race is not to collapse they must come to the front before long’.

How far, and in what ways does Captain Corelli’s Mandolin support the view that ‘tolerance, good temper and sympathy’ are more important than ‘Belief’ in a cause or ideology’?


(b) Turn to Chapter 31, ‘A Problem with Eyes’.

How does Captain Corelli’s character influence the developing relationship with Pelagia as it is revealed in this chapter?

De Bernieres: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin (Minerva or Vintage)


(a) ‘The ultimate truth is that history ought to consist only of the anecdotes of the little people who are caught up in it.’ (Carlo)

What is your response to de Bernieres’s presentation of history through the eyes of ‘little people’ in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin? You should include in your answer an examination of Carlo’s narrative in Chapter 6 (L’Omosessuale (2) ) and at least one other appropriate passage of your choice.


(b) ‘Greece lies on both a geographical and cultural fault-line that separates east from west; we are simultaneously a battleground and a site of cataclysmic earthquakes.’ (Dr Iannis)

Explore your response to de Bernieres’s presentation of the island of Cephallonia and its people in the light of this statement. You should refer to two or more appropriate passages from the novel in your answer.



(a) Look again at Chapter 35: A Pamphlet Distributed on the Island, Entitled with the Fascist Slogan ‘Believe, Fight and Obey’.

How far would you agree that in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin de Bernieres presents politics and politicians as objects of ridicule?

You should include in your answer an examination of this chapter and at least one other appropriate passage of your choice.


(b) He wasn’t just another hero, was he? He was more complicated. Poor Carlo.’

What is your response to the presentation of Carlo in the light of Pelagia’s final comment?

You should include an examination of two or more extracts from the novel.


(a) ‘The presentation of Pelagia in the early part of the novel is transformed by her growing independence as a single woman in post war Cephallonia’.

What is your response to de Bernieres overall presentation of Pelagia in the light of this comment? In your answer you should in include an examination of at least two appropriate passages.


(b) ‘Although Hector is presented to the reader as a caricature, he and his kind are seen as the real enemies of Greece.’

What is your response to de Bernieres’s presentation of Hector and the other Greek resistance fighters, in the light of this comment?

In your answer, you should include an examination of Chapter 34, ‘Liberating the Masses (3)’ and at least one other appropriate passage of our choice.



(a) History repeats itself, first as tragedy, and than again as tragedy’.

Explore the presentation by de Bernieres ‘Of the German occupation’, and its aftermath, in the light of this quotation.

You should include an examination pf Chapter 62, ‘Of the German Occupation’, and at least one other appropriate passage of your choice.


(b) Dr Iannis tells his daughter: ‘Technically the Captain is an enemy’.

Explore de Bernieres’ presentation’ of the war-time relationship between Pelagia and Corelli in the light of this remark.

You should refer to at least two appropriate passages of your choice in your answer.



(a) ‘History repeats itself, first as tragedy, and then again as tragedy.’

Explore the presentation by de Bernieres of the German occupation of Cephallonia, and its aftermath, in the light of this quotation.

You should include an examination of Chapter 62, ‘Of the German Occupation’ and at least one other appropriate passage of your choice.


(b) Dr Iannis tells his daughter: ‘Technically the Captain is an enemy.’

Explore de Bernieres’s presentation of the war-time relationship between Pelagia and Corelli in the light of this remark.

You should refer to at least two appropriate passages of your choice in your answer.

Summer 2007


(a) ‘One of the strengths of de Bernières’s writing in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is its ability to present catastrophes in terms of the fates of individuals.’

How far do you agree?

You should include in your answer an examination of Chapter 65 ‘1953’ and at least one other appropriate passage of your choice.


(b) ‘Dr Iannis’s political debates with his communist friends, Kokolios and Stamatis, are presented with humour, but, as the events of the novel reveal, politics is no laughing matter.’

In the light of this opinion, what is your response to the ways in which de Bernières presents political debate in the novel as a whole?

You should refer in your answer to at least two appropriate passages of your choice. Q1

Examiner’s Mark Scheme for these questions.

This Unit targets the following Assessment Objectives:
AO1 and AO4 and also assesses AO3 and AO5ii.

Answer ONE question.

1. de BERNIÈRES: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
(a) One of the strengths of de Bernières’s writing in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is its
ability to present catastrophes in terms of the fates of individuals.’

How far do you agree?

You should include an examination of Chapter 65 ‘1953’ and at least one other
appropriate passage of your choice.

AO1 Candidates should pick up the opposition provided in the proposition, its status as a value judgement and the key word ‘presents’. Lower band answers may be limited or rely on a narrative or descriptive approach and perhaps have a limited response to
‘writing’ in a literary way. Higher band answers should explore ‘writing’ in a more
literary way.
AO4 The ability to challenge or explore the terms or implications of the proposition are likely discriminators. Lower band answers may be limited in their ability to explore
or challenge and present at best an assertive or simple critical view. Higher band
answers will be likely to be exploratory and/or challenging in their approach and be
able to provide evidence of a more sophisticated critical response.
AO3 The ability to link the designated chapter to the novel as a whole may be a central discriminator. The key word in the proposition: ‘writing’ invites consideration of the ways in which the novel is written. Lower band answers may be limited in their
ability to deal with a wide range of reference or issues to do with language. Higher
band answers should be more confident in moving towards an overview, a sense of
structure and an ability to deal with language analytically.
AO5ii The chapter named in the question should suggest the historical context of a real event to candidates. Lower band answers may not provide detailed awareness of this and other appropriate contexts, but higher band answers should provide evidence of confident and detailed handling of the links between fiction and the real events on
which it is based.

1. de BERNIÈRES: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin
(b) ‘Dr Iannis’s political debates with his communist friends, Kokolios and Stamatis, arepresented with humour, but, as the events of the novel reveal, politics is no laughingmatter.’

In the light of this opinion, what is your response to the ways in which de Bernières
presents political debate in the novel as a whole?

You should refer in your answer to at least two appropriate passages of your choice.

AO1 It is important that candidates pick up the contrasts suggested in the proposition andexplore varied ways in which political debate is presented in the novel. Lower bandanswers may provide limited evidence for this, possibly approaching it in a narrativeor descriptive way, whereas higher band answers will be more exploratory andanalytical in the ways in which the proposition is treated.
AO4 It is possible to agree or disagree with the proposition but the candidates should
engage with the idea of ‘political’ critically. Lower band answers will be likely to be
less contentious, or be so in an assertive or purely illustrative way. Higher band
answers will provide evidence of a consistently argumentative and critical approach
and be aware of different critical responses to de Bernières’s controversial
presentation of politics in the novel.
AO3 The ways in which candidates select their passages and deal with them in the context of the whole novel, as appropriate to the terms of the question, will be the probable discriminators. Lower band answers may take episodes in isolation and provide little evidence of exploration of language. Higher band answers should take a whole text approach and seize on the oppositions suggested by the proposition to explore linguistic presentation of material.
AO5ii Political contexts are very central to this topic and there are many ways in which they can be approached. Awareness of critical responses to the novel may well be a relevant context for exploration. Lower band answers may show little evidence
beyond stating the kinds of political stances presented in the novel. Higher band
answers should provide evidence of a more sophisticated and detailed approach.

Examiner’s Report 2007
6394/02 Modern Prose
The most popular text remains Captain Corelli’s Mandolin with Alias Grace and Howards End almost tying for second place. The Bell remains the least popular text although it retains a not inconsiderable following with a good range of answers. This is the first summer session in which the scripts have been marked by epen and examiners have said that it is quicker to mark scripts in this way. Scripts not marked in this way have been either those typed by the student or an amanuensis, or the few which have proved to be illegible online.

Some features of lower band answers
Part of the AO1 literary awareness derives from being able to show how a novelist uses arange of narrative skills to achieve the effects desired, which are very different to the skills of s dramatist.

A good answer will deal with all aspects of the proposition and question in detail. The following approach takes this on at a very simple level:

De Bernières throughout Captain Corelli always shows the catastrophes through an
individual, this no were near as noticeable as in the early part of the book and the
trouble caused by the war. The idea of this allows us, as a reader to become closer
towards the character but also to give deeper sense of confusion and angst that an overall view wouldn’t allow.

There seems to be something quite helpful struggling through the very uncertain expression. This candidate goes on to deal with the Good Nazi (2) chapter which:

…places us into the character of Gunter Weber. De Bernières chose this to show us that not all Nazis were jackbooted thugs but it also shows the reader the corruption of power and also the disregard for the moralistic in war.

The rest of the paragraph comments on the presentation of an individual catastrophe and comments on the reader’s reaction to this. The remainder of the essay then dealt briefly, and on the same kind of level, with Chapter 65. There is a very simple literary awareness emerging which does rate the essay in band two.

Some features of higher band answers
Higher band answers are totally literary in their approach and even if terminology is not always used, the conventions of the novel are at the forefront of the discussion. This kind of sentence does exactly that:

Forster clearly communicates through his authorial voice that the Wilcox family has
values to be respected.

Then the writer continues:
A passage near the start of Chapter 12 demonstrates this. Margaret ponders the Wilcox values, her thoughts communicated by the narrator.

A detailed exploration ensues. The final paragraph begins to evaluate:

Overall, Forster is clearly not completely comfortable with the Wilcoxes, yet he has to concede that many values he respects less reservedly are dependant on the Wilcoxes…

This candidate has used the proposition to shape his answer.

Finally the ways in which contexts can be used are many and various. Examiners have
noted much confident knowledge incorporated into answers and one example will suffice:

Achebe wrote his novel in English for a reason and one of Achebe’s main motives in
writing this novel was to display to an English speaking people that Africa did have a rich and diverse culture.

These illustrations are from answers which were high in band five.

DE BERNIÈRES: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin

This was by far the most popular question on the paper. There was a very wide range in the quality of the responses. Some candidates had difficulty in interpreting the terms ‘catastrophe’ and ‘fates’ clearly and precisely. Where candidates did engage with these terms and responded clearly to ’how far do you agree?’ they were able to construct a reasonably analytical argument with a sense of the text as a construct. This literary approach with full engagement with all terms in proposition and question demonstrated the approachability of the question. We were occasionally disappointed by the limitations in discussing Chapter 65, the need to focus on character at the exclusion of everything else, and the often limited range of other passages used as illustration. Some candidates are determined to write about the ‘Good Nazi’ chapters at all costs, and some got there rather too quickly.

Good answers to this question were able to deal with the comic and tragic issues posed with confidence and a wide range of illustrations. Many candidates wrote about the Mussolini chapters well, often discussing chapter 35 as well chapter 2. They were able to deal with the idea of satire with understanding. We also noted confident and wellinformed references to Naziism, Fascism and Communism and the different levels at which they were dealt with in the text.

Weaker candidates were much less confident about doing anything other than describing the sections they chose for identification. They often recycled material from previous questions, provided character sketches of Dr Iannis or referred to the fates of the ‘little people’.


Monday, 26 November 2007

Coming soon - study notes for "Captain Corelli's Mandolin"

These have been taking me some time to get ready. There's more than a hundred pages of them and my students need them well before Christmas, in time for the January exam.

Conjuncts And Connectives To Help With Writing Essays

Press on the image to Dog

Saturday, 24 November 2007

We are at major inflexion point for the Dow and Gold

Greg Silberman's latest article suggests as much. With the fall in the Dow through the Dow Theory point of 12845 the other day, goldbugs need to make up their minds on whether they think their stocks will fall with the main market or rise with the inexhorable rise in the price of gold. I'm staking everything on the latter.

For Silberman's article
Press Here

Monday, 19 November 2007

HUI…wave ii support and wave iii price objectives (by Rambus)

Rambus is one of the best chartists and posters who posts at Goldtent. With gold and its PM stocks falling over the last few days this post is one worth posting here as I believe that it shows where the precious metals complex will go VERY SOON, UP - UP - UP! He advises goldbugs "to be strong and buy the pain". Great advice, Rambus. With the banks and the Dow on the ropes and seasonal strength ready again to renew the gold sector, it's a timely message. The current washout and the monthly falls in the main markets are similar to what happened last time the gold sector shot up over several months between 2001-2002 in what was then Wave I.

-> Posted by Rambus @ 13:40 pm on November 19, 2007
We have had a good run from the August 16th bottom at 285 to the November high at 463 for a grand total of 178 points in alittle over 10 weeks. What is becoming apparent at this point is, that rally phase was our wave i up and we are now in the middle to 2/3’s done already with our wave ii down. The chart below is how I am seeing things at this point in time as everything seems to be lining up quite nicely. I think we will see either a 38% or 50% retrace of wave i up and not a 62% retrace, as a 62% retrace would put us under the top rail of our big 16 month triangle consolidation. Click on the chart to enlarge it.

We are testing the 38% retrace as we speak at 395. The old high at 401 is also a good spot to look for support. There are several chart patterns that are suggesting a move to the 50% retrace of wave i may actually be in the cards at this point. Either way we are only talking about another 15 to 20 points lower where we can then launch our wave iii of 3 of III. I can’t believe I just typed out wave iii of 3 of III. This next wave up will be the exact center of this bull market and should be at least 288 points from whichever fib retrace we bounce off of. This should be a good place to pick your spot to get on board the gold train. The sweet spot of this bull market should be close at hand IMHO. Be strong and buy the pain.
Click on the chart to enlarge it.

All the best…Rambus

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Creative AS Anthology Poetry Presentations

I like the presentation given above as the meaning of the poem is clear through how Augustine declaims it. His enthusiasm for the poem is present too. (He does not let the passing aeroplane distract him either!)

You (my students who drop by here) can take a number of different, creative approaches to present your learning on your chosen poems.

You can:

Memorise,act out and declaim your poem in a dramatic manner as Augustine does above. A friend can film it. Find suitable background music that you can use whether you film your work or not.

Write an formal essay in which you analyse the poem and prepare a handout which deals appropriately with the poem's themes, form, imagery, language (key words and phrases) use of rhythm, tone, style of narration, and other poetic techniques such as assonance, alliteration, sibilance, etc. (See the class hand-out for this.)

Produce a collage of the poem's central ideas, words and images and then justify and explain your work.

Produce a series of photographs that higlight key words, ideas and images that are central to your chosen poem.

Produce with friends a series of freeze frames which help explain the narrative or key ideas/themes and images in a poem.

Annotate a poem on A2 and present and discuss your annotations.

Produce a Powerpoint presentation or Blog on the poem by breaking your presention into key analytical features of the poem. (For instance, themes form, narration, imagery, language, tone, features such as alliteration, assonance, etc. as appropriate.)

Find and present on the electronic whiteboard a paintings/music that can be associated with your poem. Explain how their imagery and thematic links and relationships can be linked with your poem.

A short film of your chosen poem that highlights its key ideas and features.

A storyboard of the poem in which film language helps depict the poem's key ideas, themes and images.

Your ideas. But do run them by me, first.

Good luck!

Monday, 12 November 2007

Talk of Worst Recession Since the 1930s

Gold and silver taking their haircut today was expected. It's all noise as they will rise together very shortly. As a matter of fact today's dips will allow the advance to continue in a healthy fashion. Meanwhile . . .

Talk of Worst Recession Since the 1930s
November 12, 2007

After what Los Angeles money manager Arnold Silver called "a brutal three days," the question is: What now for the market?

A Wall Street superstar this year who runs Balestra Capital Partners, Jim Melcher, says he's "worried about a recession. Not a normal one, but a very bad one. The worst since the 1930s. I expect we'll see clear signs of it in six months with a dramatic slowdown in the gross domestic product."

Press here for the article

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Ambrose -Pritchard Evans Discusses The Current Crises With Banks and CDOs


Copy and Paste into your address bar.

Ambrose reports stories that most British business journalists are either unaware or cannot. That makes him one of the most important journalists who reports business news. I read everything he writes - and I do not necessarily agree with everthing. Yet, I still rate his reporting as honest, factual, experienced and knowledgeable. He also does this for a living and I do not. In this five minute discussion he talks with a fellow Telegraph journalist Tom Stevenson about the current crises for US and British banks. The discussion also ranges over the economic state of the world, including Japan and China. Stevenson gives the expected arguments of "The Yellowbrick Road".

Friday, 9 November 2007

Minerva find gold nuggets up to 10mm in diameter at Tulu Kapi (Ethiopia) after heavy rains

I own some shares in Minerva Resources and I find it amusing that such large nuggets would be ready for anyone to pick up. It's like finding REAL money in the wild! The shares appreciated today by over 81% and are likely to do handstands on Monday too.

Here's the official announcement. If only this type of thing happened every few days or months!

Minerva Resources Operations Update

RNS Number:4055H
Minerva Resources PLC
09 November 2007

9 November 2007

Minerva Resources Plc (AIM:MVA)

("Minerva Resources" or "the Company")

Operations Update - Tulu Kapi Gold Project, Ethiopia


* Drilling intersects extensions of mineralised zones at Tulu Kapi
* Second drill rig arrives at Tulu Kapi
* Gold nuggets picked out of soil at Tulu Kapi after rains

Minerva Resources' recent drilling has intersected extensions of mineralised zones at Tulu Kapi. The Company is targeting a 500m section of a larger gold zone delineated by numerous mine workings and recent exploration activity.

A second Ethiopian Geological Survey (EGS) drill rig has started drilling at site. The first EGS drill rig has completed 644m of the 3,000m, Phase 2, drilling programme.

The EGS rigs are drilling holes 10 and 11 at Tulu Kapi. Samples from holes 8 and 9 have been submitted for analysis to the ALS Chemex Laboratory in South Africa and results are expected in early January 2008.

The drilling to date confirms that there are three broadly continuous sub-parallel zones of mineralisation, which dip to the southwest. Each of the three zones appears to be approximately 10m thick, with good strike and depth continuity. Most recently, hole 10 has intersected two mineralised zones, one of 20m from 17-37m downhole and one of 34m from 41-75m downhole. Hole 11 has intersected a similar 25m thick mineralised zone, from 12-37m downhole and is now at a depth of 45m.

The drilling to date has concentrated on a 500m long limb that strikes to the northwest, although indications of gold mineralisation extend beyond this central section both to the northeast and to the southwest. Minerva Resources is grid drilling this central resource with fence lines 80m apart and initially 3 holes 40m apart on each fence.

Minerva Resources has also entered into negotiations with private drilling companies to drill an additional 3,000m. In addition to further drilling at Tulu Kapi, drilling will also be undertaken at the nearby Guji prospect and a number of satellite prospects close to Tulu Kapi and Guji.

Finally, after seasonal heavy rains gold nuggets up to 10mm in diameter were picked from soil at Tulu Kapi. The gold nuggets are highly angular grains and aggregates indicative of a local source with little or no transport occurring.

Commenting today Terry Ward, Managing Director, said "We are delighted at the continued delineation of gold mineralisation at Tulu Kapi. The good core intersections, good strike and depth continuity to the mineralised zones, and presence of gold nuggets at surface all add to our confidence that Tulu Kapi is
shaping up to be an asset of merit."

For further information please contact:

Terry Ward
Minerva Resources plc
Tel: +44 (0)20 76294800/(0)7989571576

Jane Stacey/Ed Portman
Conduit PR
Tel: +44 (0)20 74296606/(0)7922923306

James Joyce / David Porter
W. H. Ireland
Tel: +44 (0)20 72201666

The information in this release which relates to exploration results is based on
information compiled by Chris Wilson, BSc(Hons), PhD, FAusIMM (CP), FSEQ. Dr. Wilson is a consultant to Minerva Resources plc and has provided Best Practice and QA/QC training resources to the Company's geologists in Ethiopia. He is auditing the current drill programme and is responsible for signing off exploration results for news releases to the market. Dr. Wilson is a Competent Person as defined in the Australasian Code for Reporting of Exploration Results, Mineral Resources and Ore Reserves and has reviewed and approved this release.

Note to Editor

Minerva Resources plc ('Minerva Resources' or 'the Company') is a UK based mineral exploration and development company quoted on London's Alternative Investment Market (AIM: MVA). The Company is intent on delivering shareholder value by increasing and developing its mineral resources in a socially and
environmentally responsible manner.

The main focus is resource development in Ethiopia where the Company has first-mover advantage on prospective ground on the Arabian-Nubian shield. Key projects include the gold resources at the Tulu Kapi and Guji prospects and the Yubdo Platinum Mine, located in western Ethiopia.

Drilling programmes are underway at the Tulu Kapi and Guji gold projects in western Ethiopia. The two projects are 7km apart, allowing significant sharing of logistics and infrastructure.

Tulu Kapi was mined in the 1930s by an Italian company. In the 1970s the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) mapped and drilled Tulu Kapi. Tan Range carried out soil sampling and further mapping and drilling in the 1990s. These two phases of work confirmed mineralisation extending over a strike length of 1.5km and the project is undergoing second phase drilling after encouraging early Minerva Resources drill results.

The Company also has a strong presence in Central Asia, operating a Technical Services Division undertaking contract geology and contract drilling work from the Kyrgyz Republic. In Sierra Leone the Company holds gold, platinum and diamond exploration licences which will for the most part continue to be developed by existing Joint Venture partners.

This information is provided by RNS

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Professor John Mullan's interview in early September 2007 with Louis de Bernieres on "Captain Corelli's Mandolin"

It's an informative interview that will be beneficial for students, particularly for AO4 ( that is, the reception of the text and students own and others'interpretation of the text) and AO5ii (The cultural and historical contexts). I learned a few things from this. It's well worth a listen.

Press here

Credit derivatives' volumes exceed $ 45 trillion: ISDA survey

The half-yearly credit derivatives data released by ISDA says that credit derivatives volumes, as of end June, 2007, have gone beyond $ 45 trillion, at about $ 45.46 trillion. This scales a growth of 32% from the $ 34 trillion data as of end 2006, and nearly 75% growth over the half year of 2006.

Credit derivatives have been growing at an annual rate of nearly 100% over the past 3-4 years.

During the tremendous credit squeeze that started in the wake of the subprime crisis, credit derivatives volumes are likely to be affected this year. There are several reasons for this - hedge funds who became primary players in credit derivatives in 2004 onwards are likely to stage a retreat, or at least slow their activity this year. CDO activity is completely moribund post July 2007. In general, the market has become risk averse.

Increased role of hedge funds has increased risk of correlated movements in credit markets: Fitch

Rating agency Fitch recently came up with a special report on the role of hedge funds in the credit markt [Hedge Funds: The Credit Market's New Paradigm, report dated 5 June 2007]. The report states something that anyone having an insight into the credit derivatives market might surely know, but what might look shocking to an outsider. The credit derivatives market is not where banks meet to swap each other's credit risks. It is fast becoming an arena for risk-takers and betters who take leveraged positions on credit risks. Hedge funds occupy nearly 60% of this market today.

Apart from the sheer volume of trade, "(T)he impact of hedge funds on the credit markets can not be measured simply by trading volumes, but also must consider hedge funds’ willingness to be risk takers by investing lower in the capital structure. By investing in instruments that are themselves levered, hedge funds are able to create a multiplier effect by
combining financial leverage with so-called economic leverage. The combination of the two can be thought of as the effective leverage", says Fitch.

There is ample evidence that hedge funds, in search for high returns, take subordinated positions in pools of credit. That apart, they are major players in equity tranches of the indices.

What does this highly leveraged position of hedge funds imply for the credit market? The downgrades for GM and Ford in May 2005 brought sharp MTM losses for several players because of the highly correlated moves by several hedge funds trying to unwind their positions due to their mandates or deleverage triggers. Fitch says that a similar result is almost inevitable. "Credit assets could behave in a more correlated, synchronous fashion if one or a number of hedge funds were forced to liquidate positions following some catalyst event in the markets. Investor redemptions and/or increased margin calls from prime broker banks could exacerbate a larger unwind of credit assets". Hedge funds are far more unstable investors than buy and hold investors of relationship banks.

Besides, hedge funds are typically short-term strategy based. Many of them have short horizons within which they either perform or must wind up. While hedge funds have continued to improve their risk management abilities, there is no way they can eliminate risks, and the next downturn in business cycle may really bring forth this critical situation.

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

It's a great day for PMs and associated stocks!

The Rally Monkey!

The big Kahuna is being landed! Rally Time is here! What follows is some consolidation before higher highs.

The banks are skating on very thin ice

To get a clue about just how deep banks may fall have a look at the links on the site with the link below. Banks are ready to sink under the weight of their CDOs. Jim Sinclair thinks that the credit default obligations will be the next big thing to hit the banks - and it looks like they already are.

Have a peak at this. It's the best argument I know for investing in gold and silver.

Press here

I'll be making several posts with notes on Captain Corelli's Mandolin over the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Will Helicopter Ben Drop Another Load Tomorrow?

I don't know whether Ben Bernanke and the FED will lower rates tomorrow and provide welfare for "suffering" millionaire Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers. But I do know that he will be dropping billions of dollars from his helicopter over the next few months to reflate the US economy and avoid deflation. Right on! Helicoper Ben!

Sunday, 28 October 2007

There's a panic in asset backed securities!

Investors use this market to hedge against these assets. It looks as if the underlying asset values are collapsing, particularly recently. It's a shocking chart.


This article helps explain that chart.


Is it any wonder that a number of banks in the US and around the world are having to write off huge chunks of their net worth. It looks as if they are only just beginning this process! Merrill Lynch had to admit to having to write off over $8 billion dollars the other day. Is that just the tip of the iceberg for this and other US and European banks?

Are these devices(derivatives) a clever way to disperse risk or are they as Warren Buffet has said, “financial weapons of mass destruction”,that are poorly understood and perilous boosters of credit? "The Economist" print edition 19/4 2007

Gold and silver will be the main beneficiaries here.

Friday, 26 October 2007

The Ecstasy of Gold from "The Good The Bad and the Ugly"

Aholebroke used the orchestral version of this on Gold Eagle's Gold Forum. However, on a day like today I don't mind stealing a good idea! Gold and silver are going great guns today. It's only a matter of time until the public wake up to the value present in PM stocks.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

"The Counterfeiters" : how the Germans tried to destroy the British and American economies by printing money during the World War II.

Money is being printed at an ever increasing rate in most countries in the world. It's around 14% in the UK and maybe more than 10% in the US. Of course, the public are not aware of this as they have been told that inflation is only linked the CPI (the Consumer Price Index). This is widely said to be around 2-3%. What a joke as the index is composed of items that mainly exclude inflation and items that do, food, oil, house-prices, are excluded. Geobels would be proud of how modern governments manipulate statistics. Perhaps that is why these governments are so proud of them. Statistics are used for measuring everthing. The problem is they set false goals therefore statistics are merely an illusion and not worth a damn! The modern obsession with "target setting" can be reduced to a modern mania for creating illusions for the public mind control.

The excellent, recent German film, "The Counterfeiters" is based on real events. The Germans tried to use a master forger and his team to destroy the currencies of the UK and USA by printing money worth several times more than each country's reserves. This German inspired effort also represents the last big attempt to flood Britain and the US with specially printed money! However, one could argue that each country has been doing this already since the Fed was founded in 1913! For inflation has reduced the value of each currency by around 98% since the First World War.

Counterfeiters - Trailer

Posted Sep 19, 2007

Towards the end of World War II, the National Socialists forged millions of British pounds in order to weaken the enemy's economy. A counterfeiting plant was set up with prisoners in the concentration camp in Sachsenhausen.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

German Team Damn UK Economic 'Miracle' As A Sham by The Telegraph's Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

The latest by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is an excellent piece on the sham economics of Britain over the last 15 years and well worth repeating here in full.

German team damn UK economic 'miracle' as a sham By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor

Britain's economic resurgence over the last fifteen years has been driven by record levels of household debt and a public spending spree that cannot continue, according a German-led team of economists.

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In a damning new report "More Mirage than Miracle" published by the free-market think tank Policy Exchange, the analysts said Britain was relapsing into high-tax and high-regulation sclerosis just as the rest of Europe begins to shake itself out of statist lethargy.

The country's underlying slippage has been masked by a housing boom that creates a false sense of wealth and encourages people to over-spend by drawing cash from their homes.

The British are resorting to a Faustian Pact that leaves many of them with an ever greater debt burden.

"From 2001 to 2006, a total of £256bn in equity was extracted from UK property values in this way. Dependent as it is on rising house prices, housing equity withdrawl cannot continue to prop up our consumer spending at its current level," said the report.

The dramatic change in attitudes to debt has caused the UK savings rate to plummet from 8.3pc of disposable income fifteen years ago to around zero. Personal debt has risen by 137pc since June 1993 to £1,343bn, greater that annual GDP for the first time.

"Just as private households have been living beyond their means, so has the state. The expansion of the public sector artificially inflates GDP growth data: it cannot continue much longer.

"Judging by the fiscal deficit trend, the UK is now in worse fiscal shape than almost any other major Western country. In the event of an economic downturn, the UK now has little leeway for stimulus," it said. The report was mostly written by two German economists: Holger Schmieding, chief Europe economist for Bank of America, and Policy Exchange's chief economists Oliver Hartwich.

"We're two Germans who came to Britain believing its was a free-market haven and we're disturbed by what we've found. This is the year when the state sector in the UK as a share of GDP rises above the level in Germany. It's shocking," said Dr Hartwich. "The rest of Europe has been cutting taxes and pushing through reforms, and what has Britain done? The economy has in effect been been 'bailed out' by housing inflation and debt," he said.

The report cited a World Bank study showing that Britain earned top score as a place to do business in just one respect; "the ease of getting credit". It came 54th in the category of dealing with licences, a sign that the regulatory arteries are furring up.

Separately, Barclays said it was downgrading its forecast for the UK economy and now expects the Bank of England to cut rates a quarter point in Feburary and again in May, rather than remaining on hold deep into next year.

Barclays said the debt markets have not yet returned to normal following the August credit crunch in America and the Northern Rock debacle in Britain. Households and firms are likely to face a "pronounced rise in the effective borrowing rate".

"We now think domestic demand will slow markedly in the next few quarters," said the bank's UK economist George Johns. Britain's heavy reliance on the City will also take its toll. Barclays expects growth to fall from 3.1pc this year to 2.2pc in 2008.

Bank of America is forecasting four rate cuts to 4.75pc by the end of next year as the chickens come home to roost in Britain, with sterling dropping from £2.03 to around to £1.84 against the dollar.

In a sign of changing perceptions in Europe, the Spanish financial group Coface said Britain faces a "dangerous cocktail of a real estate bubble and household indebtedeness".

The group also put Spain on negative watch, warning that the country would soon follow the US and the UK into trouble as the property dominoes topple.

Britain's household debt levels are the highest of any major economy in Europe or North America, but with rates at 5.75pc it has ample room to ease monetary policy to cushion a hard-landing.

Those southern Euro-zone countries facing deflating property booms may not be so lucky. Their interest rates are now set in Frankfurt, largely to meet the quite different needs of Germany and Northern Europe.

Tuesday, 16 October 2007

BBC Radio 4's recently dramatised version of "Captain Corelli's Mandolin"

BBC Radio 4's recent dramatised production of the de Berniere's "Captain Corelli's Mandolin" can be downloaded as a bittorent file from here. It's around 160 megabytes. It's a very good production and certainly worth listening to help understand the novel. It's a pity the same could not be said of the film.

About Me

I teach Film, Media and English Lit.