Tag Archives: UK

Friday Photo Blogging: stupid bloody England

I have the same love/hate relationship with the country I live in as I have with Velcro City itself. On a day like today, with clear blues skies and a gentle breeze, I’m pleased to be sat here calmly, typing to the sound of traffic and birdsong with a long weekend approaching me; how could one find fault with England this afternoon?

Well, sometimes the bad things are literally too big to ignore:
Beneath the skin of every 'patriot' lies a fascist

Vermin and shysters; the BNP, only with better tailors and their mouths stuffed with plums. British-grown plums, of course. Wankers.

“Why worry about them,” people tell me. “No one takes them seriously.” Well, plenty of people take these seriously:

Broad and factually unfounded statements! Buy stuff! Hate difference! There's always someone to blame!

Graaaaaaaarrrrrgggghh.

Sorry, just needed to vent; it’s a common response to having left the building during the daytime. We now return you to our scheduled programmes.


Album of the week

One for the serious metal-heads this week: Daath are supposedly into Kabballah (the Hebrew mystical malarkey, rather than the wackadoo cult based upon it from which Madonna buys blessed mineral water) and all sorts of other stuff, but exactly how that affects their music I have no idea. Suffice to say that their new album The Concealers is that rarest of birds – a consistently powerful and heavy modern metal album with no filler and no gimmick-of-the-day. Go ahead, give your neck a workout.

Writing about books

The This is Not a Game review is half-written, as I managed to bash out one and a half thousand words on the train to London on Wednesday night. This is progress, not to mention the worst part of the process completed; now I just need to edit it up, supplement with quotes and digressions, polish and send. So, that’s an afternoon of the coming weekend taken care of…

Futurismic

Hey hey hey – it’s the first of May! Which is something to celebrate even if you disregard revitalised pagan festivals and political holidays spawned by a dying metanarrative, because it means there’s new fiction at Futurismic. This month I got to publish someone who lives little more than a stone’s throw away from me by comparison to our Stateside contributors; Stephen Gaskell’s “Under an Arctic Sky” is a geopolitical action-escape story done right, and you should go read it before leaving a comment to say what you thought of it. G’waaaaan.

PS Publishing

So, as most of you who’ll be interested will already know, I was up in the Big Smoke on Wednesday night, watching Ian R MacLeod take the 2009 Arthur C Clarke Award for Song of Time, a book published by PS Publishing, for whom I am contractor-publicist. It was quite a moment, and even more so for Pete and Nicky (and Ian, obviously) than myself. It’s a very prestigious title for a small press like PS to accrue, and for it to happen in the company’s tenth year of business seems fitting, somehow.

I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to work with people who care deeply about what they do. Seeing Pete’s face as the winner was read out has pretty much made my month. 🙂

Freelance

Work, work, work… there’s been a lot of catch-up this week as I recover from the setbacks of the beginning of April, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel, I think. My server is up and running, and I’ve pretty much sussed the essential basics of running the thing, so now I can start using it properly as both a hosting and development environment. Some minor projects and tasks have been cleared off; some larger ones have mutated (mostly for the better), and a few more are looming on the horizon like braking supertankers. LIVING THE DREAM, YO.

[high-grade-geekery]I’ve finally abandoned all hope of learning to do anything with Drupal before the next ice age happens (if even that soon), and am defecting my loyalties to MODx, as recommended by good buddy Adam at Mallmus Media. In a nutshell, MODx looks to be a CMS that does everything all the others can do, but actually makes it possible for you to find all of the relevant options in one place without referring to a degree in database architectural philosophy that you don’t have. Plus it has a moderately revolutionary approach to theming and templates that fits much better with my personal design methodologies for larger projects… or, in other words, it makes more intuitive sense to me than the others I’ve tried before, and I think I’m going to enjoy development jobs much more as a result. Yay![/high-grade-geekery]

Aeroplane Attack

People tell us that our first gig went pretty well, despite some sound issues. The problem in a nutshell: the girl running the sound desk has never encountered a band who request that they not bother mic’ing up the amplifiers and simply run the kick, snare and vocals through the PA. End result: we didn’t sound quite right, but we still put in a decent showing and had a lot of fun. In case you were wondering how we sound, well, here’s a video recorded on a mobile phone. Horrible sound quality, but you’ll get an idea of where we’re coming from (and how loud we play); the tune is called “Song for Joseph”.

See? We don’t use the Vulcan bomber as our logo for nothing. 🙂

The next show is Monday 11th, and the sound guy will be someone we know a little better, so those debut issues should be sorted. We’re really looking forward to it; if you’re in the area, come along. I have tickets, if you’d like to buy one at the super-cheap advance rate of £2…

Books and magazines seen

No time for sourcing images today, but there’s a fresh hardback copy of China Mieville‘s The City & The City sat on my sofa alongside a trade paperback of Sean Williams‘ latest Astropolis novel, The Grand Conjunction.

A more unusual score comes in the form of How to Build Your Own Spaceship, a pop-sci book by Piers Bizony about “the science of personal space travel”, which the publisher was nice enough to send me after I emailed them about it[1]. Nice Jetsons vibe to the cover art:

How to Build Your Own Spaceship by Piers BizonyLovely. Now all I need is the time to read it…

Coda

Well, there you have it – it’s been a busy few weeks, but then I always say that, don’t I? But hey, the weekend’s here, and that’s got to be a good thing. I think I’ll wrap this up, finish the Futurismic free fiction round-up and spend a few well-earned hours sat on my arse with my nose in a book… I hope you find something nice to do as well. Laters!


[ 1 – And many thanks to the man DT for the tip-off on that one, too. ]

Double-plus ungood

It’s a sad state of affairs when we need a Canadian ex-pat science fiction writer to say the things that our own press will do little more than tip-toe around:

To my friends, I say this: your Labour Party has taken my biometrics and will force me to carry the papers my grandparents destroyed when they fled the Soviet Union. In living memory, my family has been chased from its home by governments whose policies and justification the Labour Party has aped. Your Labour Party has made me afraid in Britain, and has made me seriously reconsider my settlement here. I am the father of a British citizen and the husband of a British citizen. I pay my tax. I am a natural-born citizen of the Commonwealth. The Labour Party ought not to treat me — nor any other migrant — in a way that violates our fundamental liberties. The Labour Party is unmaking Britain, turning it into the surveillance society that Britain’s foremost prophet of doom, George Orwell, warned against. Labour admits that we migrants are only the first step, and that every indignity that they visit upon us will be visited upon you, too. If you want to live and thrive in a free country, you must defend us too: we must all hang together, or we will surely hang separately.

Maybe it’s just because I’ve been reading a lot of German 20th Century history recently, but this stuff is scaring the crap out of me too. Insert boiling-a-frog metaphor here.


[ 1 – Actually, I can’t think of anyone better to say it. And yes, I know others have said similar things – within sf and without – but few have Doctorow’s audience. Kudos to the man. ]

A brief message from the Ministry Of Truth

Everyone thinks they have a novel in them. This storytelling urge apparently runs all the way into the Ministry of Defence, who’ve decided to rewrite a certain rather gory tale with no forseeable ending that’s set in the Middle East. After all, the truth – when unpalatable – is best covered up. Especially when the children might hear it.

Perhaps some children, encouraged by their parents or just simply contrarian by nature, will refute this fictionalisation of a massive financially-motivated war crime by any other name. At which point they will doubtless have their DNA sampled for a database that is just waiting to be hacked open like a decades-old pomegranate, under suspicion of having the potential to become a life-long offender – which, once stigmatised as such, they are most certainly more likely to become.

Sneaky little free-thinking scum-bags – they will be easily spotted, as they’ll be the ones who refuse to swear allegiance to a puppet monarchy.

[ The next person who tells me I should be more proud to be British is going to receive all the swearing that I just redacted from this post before publishing it, and then some.

The next person to blame the ills of the country on im’grunts or tur’rists will spend the next two days in casualty having my boot surgically removed from their arse. ]

Budget-day thoughts on UK public transport

Today I booked my round-trip train ticket to Heathrow for Eastercon weekend; I also looked up prices for a day-return journey to London Waterloo next Wednesday for a “Web2.0 in Libraries” course I’m attending.

The latter costs more than the former.

I’m not sure what the word for this particular brand of idiocy might be; I may be obliged to invent my own. But hey, that increase in petrol tax should encourage a higher take-up of … oh, wait. We have more to fear from grumpy truck drivers than global warming, according to Mr Darling.

Now, where did I put that silver lining?

UK Government loses personal data of 25 million people

“Alistair Darling told the House of Commons that the discs containing the highly sensitive information failed to arrive after they were sent in the ordinary internal mail between government departments.”

This is the same Government that assures us nothing could possibly go wrong with a national ID card scheme connected to a biometric database.

Please remember this next time you happen to be voting.

[tags]UK, politics, privacy, data, loss, government, ineptitude[/tags]