Saturday, 31 January 2009

Odd One Out

by Charles Pooter

Good news for TV viewers and British wildlife, bad news for his North London neighbours: the Oddie menace will be spending more time at home.

This is a clear victory for this publication and its random campaign of irrational hatred aimed at a minor televison celebrity.

Watch it Titchmarsh, you are next.

Friday, 30 January 2009

Payments for Failure

by Charles Pooter

The UK's Commuications Minister, Lord Carter of Barnes, has proposed that there should be a £20 per year broadband tax. He suggests that the revenue from this tax should pay for the upkeep of a quango who will act as enforcers for the music and film industries. The quango will act as a clearing house for infomation, coerced from UK internet service providers, about "illegal" downloaders.

The proposal is the latest attempt by the corporate state to prop up the failed business models of the traditional content monopolists. If the Governement takes up the proposal, as they almost certainly will, it will be a heavy barrage in what amounts to a war against the internet using public.

We should not fall for any rhetoric regarding creators' rights or so-called "intellectual property". This is about maintaining the ill-gotten profits of huge media corporations at the expense of our freedom and privacy.

Tuesday, 27 January 2009

A rather inane post

by Edwin Hesselthwite

I, Edwin Hesselthwite, haven't posted anything on this illustrious journal in fucking ages...

Today, I'd like to contribute this:


Saturday, 24 January 2009

Richard Blake News

by Charles Pooter

The Terror of Constantinople, the second historical thriller from promising author Richard Blake, will be available very soon. His first book, Conspiracies of Rome, is also out now in paperback.

Here's my review of the hardcover edition of Conspiracies from June 2008:

Conspiracies of Rome by Richard Blake

Review by Charles Pooter

Conspiracies of Rome is the debut novel of author Richard Blake. A historical thriller set in 609 AD, the book follows the adventures of Aelric, a lowly Saxon clerk, and his master Maximin the priest. Aelric is of noble extraction but has been deprived of his birthright by the local warlord and Maximin is a missionary priest from the Italian city of Ravenna who, with the help of Aelric and some Paul Daniels style trickery, has a knack for converting the local pagans to the Faith. On the run from the aforementioned warlord, the two head for Rome where they encounter murder and intrigue, all of which seems connected with the mysterious Column of Phocas.

The Rome of the 7th Century is no longer the glorious monument to Republic or Empire. It has gone well past decadent or decaying and is now decayed. The city is a nest of thieves, murderers and underground cults where the rump of the ancient aristocracy enjoy the remainder of their money in a wine-induced stupor. Power is divided between the local civil authorities, the Church and the distant Emporer. It is in this fascinating setting that the majority of the novel's action takes place.

Like all good historical novels, this book is didactic as well as entertaining. Obviously we get an insight into the geo-politics of the period as well as the tensions between the various civil and religious authorities, but besides this we get an education in such diverse subjects as book-binding and stock trading. I know more about futures markets now than I did before I read Conspiracies. It comes as no great surprise to learn from the dust jacket that Mr Blake is a lecturer as he imparts knowledge through the tale with enthusiasm and ease. But I wouldn't for a second want to suggest that this book is a staid, educational tome. It is in turns foul-mouthed, saucy and violent. Fans of literary sword-play and street fights will not be disappointed and the "anglo-saxon" makes it one to keep off a younger relative's Christmas list.

With the sad departure of George Macdonald Fraser, the time is ripe for a new author able to combine swashbuckling adventure, a cynical view of elites and their self-serving institutions, detailed historical research and—besides all this—an overrideing optimism about mankind. It is too early to tell if Blake will be the new Fraser, but Aelric certainly has the potential to be the new Flashman. In many ways Aelric is more interesting than Flashman: better educated, more canny and with a moral sense that more readily overrides his self-interest . This is not to say Aelric is a completely likeable hero: he is a sexual libertine (one who sleeps with people for personal gain), a ready profiteer and a willing killer. But I for one look forward to reading more tales of his shagging, fighting and looting - albeit as I learn something new about the Dark Ages at the same time.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Labour MP writes controversial truth in newspaper...

by Charles Pooter

...Armageddon must truly be upon us.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

You know you are old when...

by Charles Pooter

...Doctor Who is younger than you.