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Getting rid of Gutenberg ‘hard returns’ for the iLiad e-reader

Frustratingly, if you take plain text documents from the magnificent Gutenberg Project and use a word processor to convert them, they end up with ‘hard returns’ which break the lines and prevent them from wrapping properly. This makes for a very frustrating read.

The solution is to copy into a word processor file and remove all of the hard breaks while at the same time – important – making sure that the paragraph breaks remain.

  1. First step: in order to exempt all instances of two consecutive hard returns (those separate paragraphs and headings from the text) and replace them with a something unique – say FLESHISGRASS – which I will replace again with hard returns in step 3. This is to protect them from the second step.In MS Word, for example, I do this by Finding all instances of ^p^p (if you don’t know the code for a ‘Paragraph Mark’ as Word calls them, reveal all the Search Options and look for the menu of options for special – non alphanumeric – characters).

  2. The second step finds all hard returns. Deciding what to replace them with depends on what currently ends the lines of text in your book – whether it’s a space followed by the hard return, or just the hard return. Find this out by turning on the formatting, deleting a hard return and observing whether the words run together. It’s important to ascertain this, because if there is no space currently before the hard return, and I don’t insert one there during the Find/Replace, the result is that two words are run together.

  3. The third step finds all the unique codes of XXXXX we entered in the first pass and replace them with two Hard Returns, so restoring the line breaks between paragraphs and headings and text.

  4. Convert to a PDF file as normal

Trying to make sense of Gaza

Regarding the breakout from Gaza into Egypt, I have only a sense of bafflement.

The anti-Zionists have been hammering away for months that a Gazan genocide is imminent, that Gaza is like the Warsaw ghetto, that Gazans are starving. Although I knew that the population of Gaza was burgeoning, that Gazans have visits from the likes of Daniel Barenboim, and that while a humanitarian crisis, a blight on an entire economy, a postponement of prospects, a radicalising influence on an entire generation, and a great threat to the very young, very old and ill or disabled, that the blockade is not a genocide and Gazans are not starving – despite knowing this, I have read one too many Gaza – Warsaw Ghetto comparisons. When Hamas blew holes in the wall I was inordinately relieved.

But what happened was somewhat reminiscent of those anecdotes about German and British WW1 soldiers playing football in no-man’s land on Christmas day. 300, 000 Gazans made the trip out. Then we saw crowds of people Mubarak was describing as starving returning with carpets, donkeys, cigarettes, toilet roll, apparently ready to settle back into the siege again. Were the anti-Zionists shouting at the telly? Were they shouting “Run away, be free, live again! No! No! Don’t go back! What are you doing, Gazans? Save yourselves!!” Because seriously, they weren’t acting like a population that thinks it’s in mortal danger – from Israel or Hamas.

The border was open for days – based on the picture painted by the anti-Zionists, you’d have expected them to have gathered up their families and rushed to save their skins. But there didn’t seem to be much of that. People were calmly going about the business of what was repeatedly described by the BBC as ‘stocking up‘.

It might be family ties. Or jobs (though 60% of Gazans are now unemployed). It might be nationalism – a determination to stay on their land. It might be an assessment that life in Egypt as a Palestinian would be worse than life in Gaza. What it didn’t look like was a suicidal, Spartan defiance in the face of a genocide, even a slow one.

So it’s not a genocide. All is not well with Gaza. My only point is that the everyday appearance and behaviour of the Gazans who streamed through the gaps in the border didn’t fit with the exaggerated, destitute, piteous picture the anti-Zionists paint to make us hate, rather than just criticise, Israel.

Richard Littlejohn on 5 dead sex workers: emetic

Richard Littlejohn thinks that the sex workers who were murdered in Ipswich were merely vermin.

His Daily Mail piece is sick-making. That death for sex workers is the same as death for Hollywood stunt doubles – an occupational hazard. That they were never going to find a cure for cancer – on which basis we should probably give up on the African agrarians he mentions in the next breath – I mean, they probably can’t even read.

That the sex workers’ friends and families failed – but that society is blameless. That they were on the street because they were too disgusting to be accepted into a brothel.


Visceral moral disgust. It’s a funny old thing. I think it’s a dangerous thing.

Making ‘Zionist’ a dirty word

Why is this blogger, who is prepared to criticise the SWP for their unconditional support of resistance movements, so extravagantly but inexplicably disappointed that anybody left-wing would describe their opinions as Zionist?

“While reading down the different articles from the last few weeks and months, I came across one on Palestine. As one might expect, I did indeed groan – and was then aghast at someone left wing describing their opinions as Zionist.”

In the piece he refers to, the writer describes himself as a Zionist and then goes on to carefully explain what he means. Then, as well as criticising the SWP, he identifies the Left’s need for a positive project. He weighs in with some ideas for peace and unity between Palestinians and Israelis and between the British Left. It’s a thoughtful, responsible, qualified piece which avoids the dualistic pitfalls of Simple and a number on his blogroll.

In the world of anti-Zionists (those who believe in a single state between Jordan and the Mediterranean and the dissolution of Israel) if you identify as Zionist then you’re either not left or you’re wrong about yourself. Where does that leave progressive Zionist movements like Meretz-Yachad?

When are people like going to realise that Zionism – a complex of attitudes admittedly – is an entirely understandable response to past and present threats to Jews and threats to Israel?

But then, the title of the piece contains the phrase ‘correct Marxism’. Enough said.