Tuesday, 18 April 2006

Online SF

by Edwin Hesselthwite

On a more informal note and recommendation from LMWNow:-

Personally, my favourite sites on the web are the databases you discover that are already loaded with content. When I discovered this site, I realised i'd hit a 6:-

http://escape.extraneous.org/

This is a podcast site of science fiction short stories, at the moment there are approaching 50 sitting on there, a vast potential for finding new fiction from the links. The SF here is first rate, not dodgy fan fiction or stuff more influenced by George Lucas than Alfred Bester. If SF is your taste, go take a look.

Tuesday, 11 April 2006

EU Screws Up

by Charles Pooter

I know that headline is somewhat like "Dog Barks". Anyway, the EURID registry has screwed up the landrush process for registration of .EU domains, according to Bob Parsons. In the process it looks like they will have made some US multi-millionaires even richer. Of course, as with many EU foul-ups, it's always possible that what we're seeing isn't incompetence but corruption.

Monday, 10 April 2006

SOCA vs. ThunderCats

by Charles Pooter

This BBC Online Magazine article by Denise Winterman unfavourably compares the logo of the UK's new super-hero crime-fighting Stasi to that of the ThunderCats:


ThunderCats logo

SOCA logo

I thought it would be worth putting SOCA head to head with the ThunderCats in other respects, to see who is really king of the jungle. Let the battle commence.
Round 1: Leadership
ThunderCats
Leader: Lion-O
SOCA
Leader: Sir. Stephen Lander-O
As the son of Claudus, Lion-O is the hereditary Lord of the ThunderCats. As wielder of the Sword of Omens and possessor of The Sight Beyond Sight, Lion-O can call upon his many powers to help lead the ThunderCats against The Mutants and Mumm-Ra. Lion-O is has shown himself to be a natural, albeit somewhat impulsive, leader time and time again.
Score: 8/10
Sir Stephen is a Cambridge-educated bureaucrat with a good pension plan. After obtaining a doctorate in History and working at the Institute of Historical Research, in 1975 he joined MI5. He became Director-General of the Security Service in 1996. His tenure was marked by embarrassing leaks by former agents and defectors. Former agent Annie Machon said he "lacked presence and charm and belittled officers' work". Unlike Lion-O, he has no mystical powers or weapons. This year he was made Chairman of SOCA.
Score: 5/10
Round 2: Enemies
ThunderCats
Enemies:Mumm-Ra and the Mutants
SOCA
Enemies:Anyone they damn well feel like
The Mutants, residents of Castle Plun-darr are of low intelligence but operate in an alliance with the powerful, evil Mumm-Ra. Mumm-Ra is the undead focus of the Ancient Spirits of Evil: four wicked demi-Gods with practically infinite power, but who can only effect the material world through him. These enemies show their fiendishness by the fact that the ThunderCats have never been able to completely destroy them, only repel their latest plan so that everything returns to the same state as at the beginning of the episode.
Score: 9/10
Unlike the ThunderCats, whose role fighting Mumm-Ra The Ever Living is clearly laid out in a Government white paper, SOCA's enemies haven't been defined. SOCA aren't an agency of the Home Office, they are merely sponsored by them. They are subject to none of the normal reporting procedures and are the first agency to be explicitly exempted from the Freedom Of Information Act. SOCA can decide for themselves who their enemies are. We won't even know who they've targeted, though we'll no doubt read about their successes in The Sun. Yay!
Score: 5/10
Round 3: Tactics
ThunderCats
Tactics:Shouting "Ho!" and charging at the enemy
SOCA
Tactics:Informants, recruiting ex-crooks as agents and plea bargains
[No further description required]
Score:2/10
SOCA have been given complete autonomy to offer plea bargains to serious criminals in exchange for information. They can also pay people large sums of money to become so-called "supergrasses". They also have the power to make pretty much anyone they like an agent of SOCA, including those with spent criminal convictions. They are also at liberty to shout "Ho!", though not at female suspects.
Score:6/10

So SOCA scores 16/30, but The ThunderCats score 19/30.

Recently recruited SOCA agents probably feel like the dog's bollocks, with all their new-fangled police-state powers. However, it is clearly Lion-O and crew who are the cat's whiskers. Did you see what I did there? Snarf!

Sunday, 9 April 2006

Falun Gong Protesters in Trafalgar Square

by Charles Pooter


There was a small demonstration yesterday near Trafalgar Square by members of the Falun Gong religion. They were handing out newsletters (online version) alleging that China's execution and organ harvesting regime has degenerated to the extent that the Chinese Government have built a concentration camp in Sujiatun, a suburb of Shenyang City in North East China. They claim that this death camp has processed over 6000 members of the Falun Gong religion for live organ harvesting and incineration. The newsletter also alleges the existence of 36 other camps around China.


Friday, 7 April 2006

Snakes on a Plane

by Charles Pooter

I can't wait! Snakes on a Plane starring Samuel L. Jackson is coming!


* Actual alleged quote from movie.

Monday, 3 April 2006

A Melancholy Haiku

by Charles Pooter

Guy Herbert, NO2ID boss and samizdatista (or whatever the hell they call themselves) writes about Britain's new secret police force. Depressing stuff, which for some unknown reason made me write this:

As day turns to night
England inexorably slides
Into tyranny

Saturday, 1 April 2006

BrianCast

by Charles Pooter

Brian has put up his first podcast. I've just had a listen. My verdict: an excellent start. The first episode consists of Brian talking to Alex Singleton of the Globalisation Institute about the technicalities and disruptive potential of podcasting as a medium. Alex and Brian both spoke clearly and eloquently and had many interesting things to say.

If they do another episode together I'd quite like to hear them talk about the work of the Globalisation Institute. For example I'd quite like to hear Alex's responses to the criticisms from people like Kevin Carson. Conflict can be interesting for the listener, although the conflict on Brian's podcast could obviously be a lot more nuanced than the boring, bogus, left vs. right conflict that Radio 4 always tries to engineer.