Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Stephen Fry has a podcast.


Well, I've begun the process of dumping my old ISP and going to a new one. Even though I should be able to sign up with my new provider within 10 days and my subscription to my old takes 30 days notice to come into effect I am half-expecting to be stranded without broadband for a short while. I wouldn't be dumping them if their customer service was any good would I?

I signed up with Freeserve for their Broadband service and didn't have any problems. Then after a while they were bought out by Wanadoo. I still didn't have any problems. Then a year or two back they were bought out by Orange. Suddenly my modem wouldn't connect for hour long periods most days (to be fair that has subsided in the last six months), e-mails wouldn't be received from this account until days later in some cases, and e-mail lists that I'd been happily subscribed to for years were suddenly giving me bounce reports. And whenever I phoned Orange technical support I was flat out told that any problems I had were caused by the rest of the Internet, not them.

And when I visited my parents my Dad showed me the latest review of Broadband ISPs where Orange had slipped from a previous position of three quarters of the way down the list to the bottom in terms of quality of service, user satisfaction and quality of support. So that clinched it, Orange are a crap ISP and it's time to jump ship from this barely-floating rubbish heap.

So really I should have done this this time last year, although I was a little preoccupied with other stuff and didn't want the hassle. So I phoned Orange tonight and quit, tomorrow morning I will phone the ISP I have chosen and hopefully sign up with them and all will be well in the eternal land of milk and pixies.

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Monday, February 25, 2008

The Sun calls for the return of the death penalty. Or at least they claim that nearly 95 000 readers think it would be a good idea. So they write a nice, emotive article full of pictures and interviews with people who have lost someone to violent crime and found, surprisingly, that they would quite like revenge really. So, is this going to be the next big Sun campaign, for a return to capital punishment?

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Sunday, February 24, 2008

Ask Palpatine. Has a better storyline than Episodes 1 to 3.

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Friday, February 22, 2008

Israeli politician blames earthquakes on gays.

"Why do earthquakes happen? One of the reasons is the things to which the Knesset gives legitimacy, to sodomy," [Shlomo] Benizri said during a parliamentary debate on earthquake preparedness.

Stopping "passing legislation on how to encourage homosexual activity in the state of Israel, which anyway brings about earthquakes," would represent a cost-effective method of preventing future earthquakes, he continued.

..."God says you shake your genitals where you are not supposed to and I will shake my world in order to wake you up," he added.

Which, as a description of homosexual sex surely has to rate, for accuracy, below the various girl-on-girl depictions you normally get on late evening telly dramas. And there's no word yet from Benizri on how to stop tornadoes by outlawing lesbianism.

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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

After Shrubya's latest crass attempt to justify torture by invoking the 7th July London bombings one of the people caught up in that,
Rachel from north London responds.

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Monday, February 18, 2008

Bemoaning an America that values stupidity, though I think you could scrub out 'America' and replace it with 'Western society'.

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Sunday, February 17, 2008

Comics Are Shit... It's Official (Part One!)

You know how when you have a kitchen where the hob is next to the draining board and you think "Shall I put all this dry washing up back in the cupboard before I start making dinner?" and you're lazy and/or have testicles so decide you won't, and then you make something which spits a lot of oil everywhere so you end up not only washing up the dinner stuff but all of the stuff on the draining board which now has a lovely patina of grease? Mmm, yeah.

So, two things lead me to the conclusion that comics are shit. Neither are new. The first is One More Day, a clusterfuck of an 'event', what we old-timers used to call 'a bad story', that, in this case, ran through Marvel's Spiderman comics with all the care of Ian Brady in a children's ward with all the axes he can carry and a promise that the police won't be turning up until after they've had their breakfast. As with all things there's a bit of a back story to this. The universe began, the earth formed and then, a while later, Stan Lee and Jack Kirby made comics about superheroes that had issues and problems, except for the Fantastic Four who have always been teeth-grittingly anodyne and perfect it makes me want to vomit up the contents of both my, and several other people's stomachs. As time passed they started the speculator market by sticking an 'x' on any turd that came out of the office (The Astonishing X-Turd #1: 'If This be a Plumber!') until the turds left Marvel to set up Image comics and the company collapsed.

These day the company exists as a machine for letting Fox make really bad movies with the creating of comics as a license-fulfilling mad lady in the attic. Chief Mrs Bates these days is Joe Quesada who really should never have sought to become famous with hair like that (note to self: Destroy all photos of myself with long hair when I was under the misapprehension it made me look like Antonio Banderas in Interview With The Vampire and not a heavy metal fan who drank too much Diamond White). Joe spent his time as Chief Turd-Polisher by announcing that the turds had a much better consistency back when Peter Parker was single, he having got married so long ago that Mohammed supplied the booze for the bachelor party. After several years of going on about having Peter married to Mary-Jane Watson-Parker was a fucking sacrilege in a manner akin to your drunken uncle at family get-togethers never getting over the fact that his wife left him a decade previously and is now doing swimmingly with another man who knows how to give her orgasms, Joe finally issued a dictat that last year would be the year where the marriage was undone.

But it was complicated by reasons that Joe came up with in his brain. Despite the fact that the only people reading comics are overweight men in their mid-forties who still live in their parents basements (or in the UK loft-conversions) Joe harboured this strange delusion that the reason Spiderman comics are shit these days was not due to the writers but due to them having to write a married 'web-slinger' (ugh, I feel dirty). It seems that if there wasn't the frisson of the posibility of Spidey getting off with The Incredible Hulk then it really wasn't worth Joe coming to work in the morning. Joe thought kids of thirteen who read Spiderman wouldn't relate to a character who was married, although if the kids I know are anything to go by, his lack of a Wii, the fact that he never says 'fuck!' and doesn't shoot people he thinks are 'disrespectin' him blud' are probably bigger concerns. But he didn't want to have Peter and MJ divorce, because what child could possibly relate to two adults deciding that they lived different lives and no longer having anything in common?

So, due to the dictates of a company-wide storyline Spiderman revealed his identity to the 'imaginary world' that Marvel comics operate in. His Aunt gets shot a few issues later. While Peter Parker is a perpetual man-child aged in his mid-twenties his Aunt is about three hundred years old, showing that freaky genetics in the Parker family didn't start with his being bitten by a radioactive spider. So she's not doing well, and Peter isn't getting any help from the various superheroes he tries calling, sure they can travel through time and space but they can't help with his Aunt. And then Mephisto, the Marvel comics Satan-that-they-can't-call-Satan turns up and offers Spidey a deal. He'll save Aunt May's life, and he'll toss in making everyone forget that Peter is Spidey, but in return he gets to magically undo Peter and Mary-Jane's marriage, because that sort of thing gives him a massive hard-on for evil. The catch is that, deep in their souls, at a subconscious level, Peter and MJ will remember they were married, even if consciously they, and the rest of the Marvel Universe don't, and they'll feel a little bummed out and that will make Mephisto happy. Oh and to pad the story out Peter meets alternate versions of himself if he'd grown up without either super-powers or a wife (basically he turns out like the sort of man who reads Marvel comics) and 'the daughter that he and Mary-Jane will never have' who, due to some dodgy artwork looks like the sister of the butler from The Prisoner.

Anyway, I've momentarily run out of bile, so I shall return to this subject when I've refilled. Don't go away!

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Rubbing the Cloudy Bottle of the Audio Genie

Starship Sofa has had some fun bits of fiction recently. You can grab it from their audio page. I'd especially recommend The Second Coming of Jasmine Fitzgerald by Peter Watts in which a doctor is involved in the psychological evaluation of a woman accused of the bloody murder of her husband and, in the best fiction tradition, discovers there's more to the case than there first appears. I've just listened to We See Things Differently by Bruce Sterling. It's not really science-fiction, more the reportage/memoir of an Egyptian journalist in a near future where an Islamic caliphate has risen to replace both Russia and the United States as the global superpower. We travel with him to what remains of the States as he seeks an audience with a rock star who energises his audiences with songs reminding them of what they once were.

If you check out Episode 75 on L Sprague De Camp, even though it doesn't mention it anywhere, the last thirty minutes is an episode of one of those sci-fi radio dramas from the middle of the last century about big game hunters time travelling to bag some dinosaurs. It's pulp fun.

I'm a bit behind with the stuff over at Escape Pod.

The Color of a Brontosaurus by Paul E. Martens is also a story involving time-travel and dinosaurs, a somewhat clichéd story about a man looking desperately for time travellers so they can take him to the past to see dinosaurs. Some of the more interesting diversions are sadly ignored and the ending is fairly predictable but it's still a fun take on the old idea. Artifice and Intelligence by Tim Pratt is about whether the danger of self-aware machines is less Skynet and more just boredom and whether there's much of a difference. I enjoyed the way that what initially seemed like a number of unconnected vignettes came together, and there are some interesting characters, like the Indian A.I. and the techno-pagan who's more than happy to let power corrupt her. Friction by Will McIntosh is an odd story of an unnamed race on an unnamed planet at an unspecified time who live in fear of their bodies falling apart due to the friction of joint movement. A philosopher who has made it his purpose in life to read the works of his forebears, carved on to an impossibly long wall around the planet, must decide whether the risks he incurs in friction burns by engaging in an act of charity are outweighed by the benefits if he succeeds.

All well worth your time to have a listen.

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Saturday, February 16, 2008


Alan Moore Versus Death. Who wins?
The REAL Drake Equation. (Frank Drake on Wikipedia)
Weebl and Bob do Alien.

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Friday, February 15, 2008

"I know now why you cry, but it is something I can never do."

Grimly fascinating, A computer programmer teaches his computer about love.

Mmmmmm, Jaye Davidson.

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Thursday, February 14, 2008

A Song For Lovers

I don't particularly care, but today was apparently one of those Hallmark occasions for quite a few of you. Well done. The shops round my way are already advertising Easter Eggs for Krusty's sake...


In The Know: Is The Government Spying On Paranoid Schizophrenics Enough?



Bloggerheads, that crazy genius, has crossed the anti-SOCPA demonstrations with LOLCATS. Do you want a t-shirt?

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Sunday, February 10, 2008

Countering anti-feminism.

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What's Your Political Philosophy?
created with QuizFarm.com
You scored as Green

The Green Party believes in an America where decisions are made by the people and not by a few giant corporations. Their environmental goal is a sustainable world where nature and human society co-exist in harmony.

Old School Democrat




New Democrat




Foreign Policy Hawk


Pro Business Republican


Socially Conservative Republican


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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Camden market is burning down. What a shame, it looks like the bit the property developers hadn't got their hands on will be destroyed.

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Archbishop defends Sharia remarks. But can Rowan Williams survive The Sun's frothage?

Arch enemy: Bash the Bishop.

Nearly 15,000 Sun readers rang our You the Jury hotline urging him to go.

That phone number being 1111 1111111.

Meanwhile our phone lines and email queues were flooded by furious responses.

Brian Fuller, 46, of Luton, said: "This is the guy who leads our country’s religion and it sounds like he’s given up. He’ll soon be asking us all to face Mecca when we say our prayers."

That sounds like someone who has his finger on the pulse of current debate. Williams wants a discussion on letting Muslim courts decide things = Turning this country into an Islamic state.

Fiona Jones, 38, from Lincoln, said: "I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I thought we were a Christian country."

Wherever did you get that idea from? And if you'd like to believe it is, why are you reading The Sun, which surely breaks any number of the Christian God's laws?

The Sun bus visited the Archbishop’s Lambeth Palace residence in South London with Page 3 girls Mel and Peta — and blasted out Rule Britannia.

Again with the whole turning Britain into an Islamic state thing. And when will The Sun do a media stunt of which the main part of it doesn't involve their page three girls?

We got honks of support from drivers, but Dr Williams stayed firmly indoors.

I don't know, maybe he only wanted to talk to people who understood what he'd said the other day?

As it is, I think Williams is wrong, but I'm not standing with the mentally challenged halfwits whose idea of political debate begins with The Sun speak your brains phoneline and ends with the words of an ancient Australian put into the mouth of some girl who has taken her top off.

This is much the same as when Williams threw the Church of England behind the Catholic Church's attempts to get an opt-out for their homophobia from equality laws. Williams is playing the long game, he doesn't mind a religious plurality, he just wants more religion in the country. If we have Sharia courts dictating what Muslims do (and there are also Beth Din courts that work in a similar fashion in Jewish communities) then we can have the courts for the rest of us getting back to good old fashioned Christian values, abolishing gay marriage and gay rights, rolling back womens rights, abolishing divorce.

I'm not claiming that Rowan Williams wants society to go back five hundred years but I am rather dubious of the claims I've heard from some quarters that just because he looks like Great Uncle Bulgaria he's cuddly and friendly and would just love to let gays live openly in Anglicanism if only those horrid African bishops wouldn't cause a fuss.

I tend to think we could do with less religious jurisprudence rather than more, but then I'm the godless atheist so I would think that wouldn't I?

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Friday, February 08, 2008

What I want for my birthday, this week. But, which one?


Crude historical depictions of African Americans as ape-like may have disappeared from mainstream U.S. culture, but research presented in a new paper... reveals that many Americans subconsciously associate blacks with apes. Interesting, depressing and as yet inconclusive when it comes to people of other ethnic backgrounds.

Christians wrong about heaven, says Bishop. Yet again it's the people who are supposed to know The Good Book best who know the least about what it says inside.

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Alan Moore! Alan Moore! Standing in The Corner of the Store!

MJ Hibbett on the time he met The God of Comics.


[via Lying in the Gutters]

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Saturday, February 02, 2008

Mississippi is considering banning restaurants from serving fat people.

I called lead author, Rep[resentative W.T. Mayhall Junior], and asked if this was serious legislation or tongue-in-cheek to make a point. He kindly took a moment to answer my question while the legislature was in session. He said that while, regrettably, he doesn’t believe his bill will pass, this is serious.

[via Shapely Prose]

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Hi! You might have found me from such searches as: winsford the loonie hanging where I would seem to be number one. Yay me! What's odd is that the 85 results for that search all seem to be for different things, which makes me wonder what the person who originally did the search was actually looking for...


Friday, February 01, 2008

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Ensure equity of access to NHS treatment for gender dysphoria.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to amend the Gender Recognition Act 2004 to enable people whose gender identity is neither male or female to have the opportunity to assign their legal gender as 'other' or 'intersex' if they so wish.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to to investigate Scientology organisations operating in the UK to ensure the National Minimum Wage is being paid to their employees.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to stop the right of MP's to vote on their own pay awards. MP's pay award to be made in line with the lowest awarded to public servants.

I especially like how the name for this petition in the No. 10 database is 'leaches'.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to instruct the Foreign Secretary to urge the United Nations to include gender as an issue on which people can claim asylum due to fears of persecution.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Force Southfield School For Girls to allow us to retake our GCSE AQA Additonal Biology 2 paper, taken 15th January 2008.

After months of hard revision and rememebering
(sic) complex teories (sic) on proteins, amino acids, osmosis and genetic diseases, we were presented with an irrelevant paper for our GCSE AQA Additional Biology. The questions were ridiculous, and all of our careful revision was wasted. Our school is refusing to let us resit, whereas other local school are. We feel this is unfair and that the paper we took does not genuinely reflect our knowledge of the topic.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Stamp Out Anti Social Behaviour Using the Following 20 point plan:

There is a plan. It's worrying how much thought he's put into this.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to immediately acknowledge the plight of the palestinian's in Gaza and to do as much as is humanly possible to get food, clothing, medication and diesel to those who desperately need it.

We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Sever the links between the Church of Scientology and the Police, also to prevent further links similar to these.

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Found My Brand

Found My Brand
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers


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