Monday, 31 December 2007

Ritual

We all have rituals, in all shapes and sizes (pilgrims to particular places each year, throwing salt over one's shoulder, watching a particular Christmas movie(*)). Tonight is one for me, and indeed I expect not to be the only one.

Tonight I'll be up to see in the New Year. Why? Um... just because really. I said around this time last year that is it an entirely arbitrary point to changing a count from a point people thought significant... but even I have to admit it is a compelling psychological point. (I did avoid seeing in 2000 just because I'm one of those that refuse to accept 2000 as the new millennium, and only cared about 2001.)

Unfortunately, in the olden days, there were big TV programs counting down the final minutes, but looking at the current TV schedule... it sucks! So, instead, although I have heard bad things, I'll be spending today slogging though 24 Season Six... which only takes 18 hours actually, when watching sans ads.

(*)Die Hard for me. And usually reread Hogfather as well. Haven't this year, though.

[END]

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Sunday, 30 December 2007

Spam Analysis

Am getting the latest barrage of spam emails. While I'm sure there are a number of well wishers towards me, somehow the title of "Happy New Year to [my email]" raises my suspicions flags. Getting them from random eddresses, and the body is:

Happy 2008 To You!
http://family postcards 2008 . com/

(spaces inserted to saw "screw you".)

Looking at the page (via Lynx, a text-based browser that doesn't automatically screw your computer), the page wants to download a piece of software "fck2008.exe" (or "fck2009.exe").

Definitely trying to fck my computer, but it looks like this is the latest Storm Worm virus.

At least this is a slight cut above "g3t BIGGER p 3 n 1 s nOw!"

[END]

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Friday, 28 December 2007

DW: Voyage of the Damned!

Hey, wait a minute, that didn't open with a zoom into London! Oh well, on to epic adventure!

Well, that intrusion into the TARDIS was easily resolved, wasn't it? With no explanation for why (different dimension!) nor any reaction from the crew that something weird happened before. Huh.

Anyways, ... what the hey? Yes, there is the obligatory explanation for what's going on, but it's still a paper thin reason for suddenly having a spaceship called Titanic turn up over earth, then threaten to plummet into it. Clearly, RTD wanted to do a disaster story, but I'm not thinking this was a good pick. Story took a definite backseat to the amazingness of the sets and the cast.

Yeah, let's talk about Kylie... was there any reason it that Kylie in particular was playing this role? It could have gone to any actress as far as I could see. The main point seemed to be to use her status as a shorthand for getting the audience to care about her so we would care when she tried to replicate the "get away from him you bitch" moment. Not to say she wasn't good in the role, just that Astrid wasn't much a part worth taking note of. (Yes, I wasn't moved at the big moment. I'm a hardhearted bastard.)

As for the other cast members, oh look, it's Geoffry "I'm a doctor, and I want my sausages" Palmer and Bernard "Sssppppoooooooonnnnsssss!!!!" Cribbins! And a bunch of others distinct enough so that we can remember them when they are a party moving through the ship (and note: the black guy died first!). Props all around, but Jimmy Vee stole the show. (And there was also some guy called Tennant around, but eh...)

As for the ship itself, the model looked gorgeous. Now there's a prop that needs to be sold! The sets were fine, with the BBC more than ready for the period costumes that the people wore (if anyone produced a period drama long running series, they'd need zero costume budget as that is all the BBC really seems to care about and stores everything period...). The Host... why? Does the planet Stow have the same mythological roots as the earth? Why angels with halos? (Or were they a deliberate rip from earth mythology... but again, why then and not, say, reindeer as something more appropriate.) There's no reason for them, honestly, and the heads were not the best feature of their outfits.

Overall, it was good, and the bit about London being evacuated was funny, but the show rocked from melodrama to farce in... well, a snap of the fingers. Not a failure by any means, but nothing special to me either.


Previews: Series Four - ooh, I recognise those beasties! Lots of stuff to come. Torchwood - eh... notice we see lots of the crew looking around, but nothing plot-wise (other than the presence of James Masters).

[END]

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Thursday, 27 December 2007

New comment whizzies

There is ever a war for popularity with any new whizzie gadgets: Betamax vs VHS, Microsoft vs DR Dos, Microsoft vs Apple, Microsoft vs intelligence... and on the net side of things, there is far too many competitors for blogging software, either install your own like Wordpress or Moveable Type, or sites like Blogger, Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, etc., etc., etc....

But it looks like there is also a fight for commenting functionality. The one that looks to be dominating everything is OpenID, an easy way to have a "single digital identity" on the internet. (Um, aren't people against being a number?)

However, it's not enough to have one identity, you can alternatively look the same, using Gravatars (globally recognised avatars)! Now you can have a little wee image that follows you around as you comment anywhere (or, for users of Wordpress, you can create distinctive Wavatars to make things look pretty).

All these things require users of the blogging software to make changes to activate this functionality (although it does look like software makers and blogging sites are taking away that choice), and so the popularity war is underway.

I don't have an OpenID Gravatar yet, but I'm sure it's the coming thing.

[END]

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Wednesday, 26 December 2007

The time has come...


[END]

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Tuesday, 25 December 2007

Celebrate the birthday!

On this day in history a great person was born, as we all know! I wanted to find some decent videos about him, but YouTube just turned up rubbish.

There was this musical tribute, but there is a reason filks are considered evil. I did find a rather... interesting look at his life. Here is some of his teachings, laid out in lego form! This is a rather surreal take on his time in the desert. But we all know he can't play poker.

Oh well, at least we can all appreciate the resulting works of Sir Isaac Newton, born 25 December 1642...according to Old Style dates, anyway.

[END]

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Monday, 24 December 2007

Ah, that song...

Because there is a single word they don't want you to hear.



[END]

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Sunday, 23 December 2007

It's the 12 days of Christmas!

Swear Bear style! (NSFW!)



[END]

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Saturday, 22 December 2007

Early Christmas Present

Here they are, the Four Horsemen of Atheism: Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens.

They gathered together for a two hour discussion ranging over all kinds of topics... and you can see the results!

You can either download Quicktime movs, or torrents, or just the audio files (which is fine), or you can buy it on DVD (with proceeds going to the Ayaan Hirsi Ali Security Trust).

Enjoy!

[END]

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Friday, 21 December 2007

20 candles for 75!

The other fanzine of the week is TSV #75, the one with the spectacular colour cover!

The first page bulk are reviews of Series 3, and an interesting collection of views they are. It was quite surprising that so many views agreed that the ones that split the reviews were a odd occurrence. Since every review got a rating out of five, we have boring statistics time again!

Smith and Jones get 3.4, The Shakespeare Code gets 3.2, Gridlock 3.8, Daleks in Manhatten 2.4, Evolution of the Daleks 2, The Lazarus Experiment 3.2, 42 3.2, Human Nature 4.8, Family of Blood 5, Blink 4.6, Utopia 4.2, The Sound of Drums 4.2, The Last of the Time Lords 3.2. Winner is Family of Blood, the loser is Evolution of the Daleks.

Reviewers wise, they all rated the series overall as 4, but how did they really do? Stuart Brown rates 3.8, Andrew Foxley 3.9, Jon Preddle 3.4, Paul Scoones 3.5, Izzy von Lichtan 3.6. So the most appreciative was Andrew, the least Jon. Overall, the series rates 3.6, so the 4 was about right.

Paul gives us a breakdown of the origins of TSV, including a very informative look at the pages of TSV #1. The continuing look at the PDAs continues to interest me. Singapore Who continues Jon's obsession with all things DW transit (Singapore? Really?).

Edwin gives a list of websites worth looking at, although I would also add in Fishpond (especially when they forget to adjust the price!) and Galaxy Books.

While all good, the best parts of this issue are the cartoons by Amy Mebberson. Spot on and very well done! Adam, you're not paying her enough!

[END]

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Thursday, 20 December 2007

Watch this!

Turn up to the movies at the listed time...and start watching ads! Why do we put up with that? It does give some leeway for turning up late, but it's still really annoying...

Anyway, the still ads go first, then the moving ads... and then the movie trailers start, usually for movies I don't care about but the cinema probably thinks we would like because we're trapped in the dark.

Speaking of, at the Reading theatres, have you seen that ad (and how could you not?) for the Reading Reel Club, with the fat guy eating chips? A book comes out from a bookcase (and take a look at those titles, that's some occult reading), hits him on the back of the head, and then doors open, and we are told: "Don't sit in the dark in your house, come and sit in the dark in our theatre!"

But after all that, it's time for the movie... only it's not! Many times recently, I'm still being hit with yet another movie trailer! Before it was AVP-R, and the other day it was National Treasure. Annoying me like this is enough to make me not want to see the movie!

(Although I probably will... sigh...)

Going to the movies is an experience in itself before we even get to the movie. And it's not a good one...

[END]

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Wednesday, 19 December 2007

25 Reversed Polarities!

RTP#25 is an issue of two halves (how could it not be?): one half done by Alex, the other half done by Peter.

Because it was easier to look at, I started off by reading the end of Cydonia. Which was big and epic and tied up all sorts of plot lines that had been building over the past issues. Well, I guess it did. At some point it might be an idea to go back and reread all the parts in one go (a special combined issue?), because, to be honest, I can't remember most of it. But at least, according to the commentary, it made him happy to wrap it up, so that's good.

Peter also interviews Kelly Buchanan about Doctor Who, politics and Faction Paradox. Interesting stuff, but there was more there that we couldn't find out about. (Shame, but there you go.)

The other main component of #25 was part three of the look at Saucer Who. Lots of interesting details there. Although Alex did miss a trick in not putting the picture on pages 18/19 in the centerfold of this issue! (I had forgotten I'd written something for this issue.)

Other random bits help fill out the diversity of the issue: Graham Muir's partial review of Series Three (or did extra pages with the rest of the review fall out?). David's view of Torchcould (although this and his letter both suffer from drop out. What happened at the end of column three in his article? and what sentence starts with 'chair'?). And the Doctor rues his alliance with the Daleks...

This issue is a tenth anniversary issue, but aside from the editorial there isn't anything special. Then again, the big look back was a few issues back.

[END]

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Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Bee-wolf

So I did get around to watching Beowulf (although not the 3D version - although I could tell where things were going to be thrusting into my face...).

Yeah, it's an animated movie all right (although I gather they don't like being considered "animated" like all the other movies out there), but it's nothing that impressive given the current state of technology. Frankly, Shrek could have done this. I saw photo-realistic stuff like this back in Final Fantasy 7. Most of the images are nice, but when their mouths move, it doesn't come across as quite right.

Story-wise, I think I should get around to reading the actual poem at some point, because I can see that this is a rather glossy retelling that undoubtedly takes many liberties with minor things like details and actual plot.

Ultimately, it was enjoyable, but not something that will be remembered throughout the ages...

[END]

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Monday, 17 December 2007

The "good" lie

Christmas Time... Mistletoe and Wine... and presents. Lots and lots of presents.

But only if you are good.

Yes, it's that time of the year again, when we celebrate the winter solstice... er, I mean the ever burning oil... no wait, the birth of a lamb! Which has what to do with giving people presents? (Actually, I do remember being taught a story of about how wise men stopped at houses and said "we're going to see the new baby, wanna give us something?" One woman said no, later regretted it, then went around giving everyone presents in the hope of getting in on the action. Yeah, that's what really happened.)

Anyways... in midst of all this reality (it's all those things and more!), we also have Saint Nicholas, who rewards good behaviour. This is clearly something kids respond to well, including issuing threats to the big guy.

Sooner or later the kids find out what's really going on, and some go on to question everything they are told. We comfort ourselves that this is all a good thing, but face facts. We are lying to children about a non-existent being at the North Pole(*), so they will do what we say, and incidentally helps them accpt other lies we tell them.

Good on us...

(*)Don't tell me "you had a cruddy Christmas as a kid and are taking it out on the rest of us." You don't know me, and that wasn't true. But I did come to the realisation that I'd rather get gifts from my parents that someone who didn't care about me (aside from my 'goodness').

[END]

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Sunday, 16 December 2007

3D is No-D

The big excitement over the wunderbar Beowulf movie is that, in some locations, it is playing in Dolby 3-D. Which thought meant really good sound, but is visual 3-D, ala those classic movies with lots of monsters reaching out to the audience.

Now, while this is a cool thing, it kinda bites for me. As I wear glasses, and 3-D glasses(*) need to go in front, I have trouble at the best of times trying to get the 3-D effect to work. Even still images are a problem!

So, no sword swinging in my face for me. :(

(*)Get them for "free" at the theatre as long as you hand them back. If you damage them... $80!!

[END]

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Saturday, 15 December 2007

I got mail!

Pity none of it's for me. In the past few days I have gotted:

Something for a woman who was the tenant before the tenant before me! And I've been here for a few years now! And this is by no means the first time.

The third of a group of items (about one a week) for someone who, it turns out, is the house next to me. From the Wellington Parking and Infringement Centre or something.

And a Christmas card for "Johnnie & Peter". Whoever they are. No return address or anything.

Usually I'm nice and "Return to Sender", but am getting really irritated and am at the point of just throwing these things out. It's not like the senders care, I send that Parking thing back as RtS twice and it still came!

I reckon people are just randomly giving out my address so they won't be bothered by mail from people they don't like.

(And this isn't counting the mail that is for another flat in my block of three, but ends up in my mailbox merely because I'm the first one...)

[END]

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Friday, 14 December 2007

Exploding Whale!

You've heard about it... here it is!



[END]

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Thursday, 13 December 2007

I did it... I actually did it...

Spent a wad of money and got me own domain name:

http://www.jamasenright.com

Clicking on it, you might notice a slight recursive nature... yeah, it points to here. I have another site I could point to, but this is the one I update far more frequently that any other. (Been a while since I updated elsewhere...)

Big excitement? Not really. But it is a lot easier to remember...

[END]

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Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Compass fracass

Hey, if I complain, can I get free tickets to the Golden Compass as well? Not that the Catholics over here have been making that much of a fuss, unlike the Americans who are screaming like someone dare suggested that Bush Jnr. is potentially not fully compos mentis.

The Golden Compass...blah blah...Phillip Pullman...blah blah...movie adapted from the book, it's so evil it's teaching little kiddies about atheism, how dare this happen before they can be brainwashed into accepting the true nature of life (ie there was nothing before Jesus). I know that human nature is such that generally we try for the easy path in life, to only look for things we already agree with, but there is only so far this can go on. (Is religion really that fragile that it can't bear even the slightest of challenges?)

Not that this movie looks to be that great. It was made safe for the viewing masses (ie, anything possibly anti-religious has been removed) that now it's all glitz and glamour without substance. Huh. Sounds perfect for the American market to me...

[END]

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Tuesday, 11 December 2007

53? What 53?

When I was proofreading TSV 53, I found an increasing sense of unfamiliarity. I'm not saying I remember every word in every issue, but nothing here was sparking any memories at all (well, except for one piece, see below). I'm thinking I never read this when it came out with #54. Weird.

Still, this does mean I get to appreciate A Question of Answers as a new reader. I get to be amazed by the vampires mentioned by James Grant. At last I understand what those teasing pictures for Dominion was all about. (And I also read a Karkus that makes a later Altos loves Yartec strip (in #69) seem like a rip-off.) It was a strange experience.

The one piece I did know was, of course, the story I wrote: Hotline. It was basically a piece that went directly for the humour, which is why I end up bashing the sixth Doctor so much. I also loved the idea that the Doctor got lost in the TARDIS and needed directions back to the console room. :) However, one thing that didn't work very well was that the Master was supposed to be one just one line and he was continually picked up, then put back on hold. I couldn't really find a nice way to express that. Still, it's still amusing.

As ever, check out more commentary by Alden and Paul.

[END]

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Monday, 10 December 2007

Thirteen to Centarus

Jeff pointed this out to me (and the rest of this text is cribbed from his email). This is a complete episode of the mostly-missing 60s/70s BBC Outer Limits knock-off, Out of the Unknown. The BBC threw out almost all of the colour ones, leaving the b&w seasons relatively intact. Odd, considering 'no-one wants to see b&w anymore'. They found a previously missing ep of OOTU in Europe 22-odd months ago.



[END]

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Sunday, 9 December 2007

That's amazing!

xkcd's latest strip is about how amazing it is to be in the 21st century. Allow me to present another thinker:

Here we are, evolved from by the process of natural selection and contingency, to become creatures that hit pieces of plastic that send electronic signals to bits of wire and silicone, that creates electrons on a piece of glass (or LCD) that enables us to think we can understand the world with computers(*).

What you're looking at right now...and even right now...doesn't exist as you think it does. It's just your brain interpreting light particles impacting on nerves to create a three-dimensional image of what you perceive as the world around you.

And, as Douglas Adams said:

The fact that we live at the bottom of a deep gravity well, on the surface of a gas covered planet going around a nuclear fireball 90 million miles away and think this to be normal is obviously some indication of how skewed our perspective tends to be.


(* Or watch porn. 'Amazing' means different things to different people.)

[END]

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Saturday, 8 December 2007

Bashing people for Christ

Now, whether or not the Anti-Smacking Law is a law we should have is indeed something of interest to discuss. [My own view is that there is a difference between smacking and full of physical abuse, but the law is hazy about grey areas.] And some people are going to do more than discuss it, they are going to be charged under it for hitting their children. Such as this man.

Why did he hit his kids? Because, and let me quote this: "I believe very strongly in smacking as a form of discipline. I'm a Christian, and believe it's what I've been commanded to do." That's right. The book of peace and love instructed him to hit his kid with a rod (or wooden spoon, as the case may be).

The actual passage is from Proverbs 13:24

13:24 He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.


Mmm...feel that peace and love... Now that is from the Old Testament. Which is an interesting point. So we have a Christian who is following the teachings from the entire bible. Well then, let me quote from Deuteronomy 21: 18-21
21:18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them:
21:19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place;
21:20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
21:21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.


Why beat when you can stone to death? As encouraged by the bible! (Ah, Deuteronomy, such crazy stuff...)

I'm sure he would be the first to say "that's going too far"...but it's in his bible. If he isn't following it, then he's picking which bits of the bible to follow (leading to what we call "supermarket religion"), but, more important, he has some criteria to decide which bits to pick. Clearly, that criteria has come from outside of the bible (as the bible says "take everything!"). And if there is something outside the bible that tells us what's good and what isn't...whyfore then do we need the bible?

[END]

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Friday, 7 December 2007

Coupling action!

When looking on YouTube for videos from Coupling for my previous post, I found lots of videos for train coupling.

Now, we all know about train spotters, but this was something I definitely wasn't expecting. How many videos of trains coupling do we need? (Quite a few Japanese ones for some reason.)

And, if you can handle it, there's decoupling action too!

As it has been said: it doesn't take all kinds, we just have all kinds...

[END]

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Thursday, 6 December 2007

Town character

No, not atmosphere, but the local... people who are so memorable to see.

Such as, here in Wellington, Blanket Man! Often seen on Cuba Street, looked at very strangely, largely ignored by the populace as these people mostly are. Yeah, even me. But I don't mind him around. He might be... intellectually different, but at least he's obviously so. It's the subtle ones you need to watch out for. But, he's harmless, and he's ours.

A more known figure is the Wizard down in Christchurch who just hit 75! Now there's someone who knows how to be strange and do good with it! Got onto television, and refuses to be in the Census by being offshore on a particular date every few years. He seems fun!

And as for Auckland... umm... is there anyone noticably weird up there? (I mean, moreso than the rest of you...)

[END]

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Wednesday, 5 December 2007

Coupling Steven Moffat

Based purely on his brilliant sci-fi scripts, I decided to pick up the entire series of Coupling (that it was available cheaply didn't hurt). Many people would immediately say "this is the British version of Friends", and I can't deny that charge, although Steven claims more influence from Seinfeld and the series is more of a form of ripped off autobiography of his life with now wife (and series producer) Sue Vertue.

Being from Moffat is it extremely funny, although watching it all in one go does make the later episodes feel like an effort to get through, and I starting skimming through the opening titles before the end of series one.

Would have to say that my favourite character is Jeff, the insecure one, who unfortunately didn't get into the fourth series. (He is replaced by Oliver, through whom Steven gets to make lots of sci-fi geek references, and throw in a lot of Doctor Who moments, including having Nicholas Briggs give a rather familiar vocal performance!) [And seeing Gina Bellman did cause some cognitive dissonance as I had seen her in Jekyll.]

There was an attempt to recreate it as a US series (to put on versus Friends), but seems like it fell over before it got through the first season because it was so terrible (as anyone who's seen US-adaptions of UK shows would have predicted).

[END]

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Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Affect of the Doctor

When it was announced that someone was writing Billie Piper's autobiography, we all thought "'ey up, she ain't done nuffin yet, that's a bit off, innit?" (although probably with less of an accent). But I've just been reading a sort of autobiography that was basically focusing on their teen years...and it was a fascinating read!

Of course, I have a slight bias in that this was a Doctor Who book, but not one by one of the more recognised stars. I'm talking about "The Doctor's Affect" by Steve Cambden, who's claim to Doctor Who fame was that he helped Nigel Brackley control K9. Woo!

This book is written extremely engagingly, proving that inserting personal observation onto the more dry facts of "this effect was done like this, and that effect was done like that" is an excellent narrative technique. How did he have do much trouble finding someone to publish this? (He eventually self-published.)

Steve grew up with Doctor Who and Tom Baker especially influenced him. Taking any opportunity he could get, Steve managed to get himself onto a Doctor Who set as a helping hand - at the tender age of 16! He was there during the later part of K9's role on the show and treats us to the ups and downs (or lack thereof) of K9's performance and of the show itself, pulling no punches (not that he has a lot of punches, not exactly in a position to get the real dirt on the happenings).

If you have any interest in the show, especially behind the scenes, I highly recommend this book, it's a compelling read. (Although it could have used an editor's eye...and page numbers!) Onto his next book: The Doctor's Effect.

[END]

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Monday, 3 December 2007

I like chicken!

But it looks like I should, as chicken is full of bugs. Damn that evolution!

The bacteria of two chickens tested resistant to apramycin. They also proved resistant to another two antibiotics from the same family - gentamicin and tobramycin - used for serious human infections.


Oh, that sounds bad... I guess. The article compares this finding with that of the Ribena scandal (was it big enough to call a scandal?), in which another schoolgirls did a scientific experiment that produced alarming results. I think this points to the conclusion that we should stop all school science experiments immediately! They are clearly getting in the way of business profits!

Still, at least we can spin this as not a problem:

"What Jane has done is taken a very small snapshot and it has shown a surprising observation," he said. "But it's a time-specific snapshot and it's not a good look."


Ah, so it's a matter of "yeah, that might have been true, like, yesterday, but it might not be the case today!" I get that, great excuse...

But since, if I was restricted to just one type of meat, I would choose chicken, I'm not giving up the habit just yet.

[END]

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Sunday, 2 December 2007

Phew, demons are Christians!

Exciting article on Saturday telling us all about exorcisms and how they exorcise real demons from people. Despite the fact that the church is often saying "we don't do that any more". And that lots of priests have said "we prefer to first go for psychiatric style investigation before assuming actual demonic impression because that's more responsible."

Nope, what we have here is Michael Hewat, ready to exorcise at the drop of a demonic curseword. 'Cos that's how you can tell people are possessed. They start growling, and cursing and glowing eyes and spewing blood... oh wait, those last two things don't happen, and it's not like anyone could do the first two unless they are possessed.

But the best point about exorcisms, which isn't mentioned in the article, is that they work! Never once has it been "hey, you can't exorcise me. I don't reocgnise your god, I was made by Zeus!" or "don't try that pansy crap on me, I am an aspect of Shiva!"

Which leads to four possibilities:
1. The demons really do follow the Christian religion.
2. Christian rituals evolved (evolved? never!) to deal with demons properly.
3. Doesn't matter what ritual, any works on demons.
4. DEMONS DON'T EXIST!

At least there's the token skeptic voice of David Riddell in there, talking about the power of suggestion.

[END]

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Saturday, 1 December 2007

Slow news day

Yeah, there was exciting stuff going on yesterday. It's hard to know where to look first.

There's the exciting news of a crane being finished! Woo! And Britney and Paris are bad role models! Well, I never! And then there's Beckhan Watch! Hold me bad!

If only there was real news to talk about. Like, say, the woman who was lashed for being raped. Or the woman who was jailed for letting children named a teddy bear after... one of the kids, actually. Or how one woman has to get others to help pay for security because governments aren't interested.

Whatever sells papers, I suppose...

[END]

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Friday, 30 November 2007

More addiction!

Found yet another game that eats away hours of time: Peggle! (You might need to sign up with YouPlay first, but it's free and there's a lot of fun games to play.)

This is one of those "clear the level" type games, ala breakout and the like, although in this case you shoot the ball from the top and it bounces around the place. When you fail, you can repeat the same level (rather than have to go back to the beginning), and it even remembered what I'd done, so didn't need to redo everything to get to the next set of puzzles! Fantastic!

...just one more go at that "get the score" level...



[END]

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Thursday, 29 November 2007

Pictures: the Penultimate!

Yep, coming up to the end. These are from pages 11, 17 and 30.





[END]

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Wednesday, 28 November 2007

JK okays fan fic!

Big story for JK Rowling fans:

Rowling's lawyers confirmed she is happy for spin-offs to be published online as long as the publications are not sold and it is made clear she was not involved in the stories.


Fan-fic is legal! Like that was going to stop anyone. Some guy was publishing stuff on his website and nearly got into trouble copyright-wise. Yeah, and if that had gone through, you can bet half the population of the planet would also be in trouble! Who hasn't written fanfic! (See my recent TSV post for example!) If she had gone ahead with the lawyering, she would have just looked like an idiot.

But there is a condition:

She also requested the follow-ups do not contain pornography or racism.


Um... if I may... TOO LATE! I don't even need to look to know there's more Harry Potter porn out there than I ever want to know about. If there is a popular series, there's porn dedicated to it.

Still, nice to know that if I wanted to go ahead and write a story and distribute it for no monetary profit, the author has kindly graced not to try and sue me. So kind of her.

[END]

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Tuesday, 27 November 2007

The game I won't be playing

I'm not a big computer gamer as I just have too much other media to deal with, but that doesn't mean I don't want to play them. I do have a few titles tucked away that I might get around to playing if I ever have the time, but I do tend to look at older titles so I know my computer can play them.

Oh, yeah, that's another thing, I play games on my PC. I don't have an X-Box, or Playstation or Wii or anything like that. (As I don't play a lot of games, I don't feel the need for any kind of dedicated game machine.)

This does raise one problem. I enjoy watching The Simpsons (although I haven't watched anything for a while as they jumped the shark some seasons ago), and I even have a computer game (basically a virtual tour of Springfield with some activities to do).

There's a new Simpsons game out which looks like fun, gets into the spirit of the show, lots of voices and stuff. I'd like to give it a go (although more than likely wait a while for the price to drop). Only problem: it isn't out on the PC, just the game machines. Fine, that might be where the money is, but it's out on every platform except the PC!

It might get released later, but this could just be a symptom of the death knell of PC gaming. Or I could be reading slightly too much into it.

[END]

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Monday, 26 November 2007

The riffing never ends!

MST3K became RiffTrax became The Film Crew, consisting of just Mike, Kevin and Bill. They have done four DVDs so far, but are obviously known in the business, as they were chosen to host Midnight Madness, a movie marathon of really bad movies, which they provide intros for! Enjoy the fun!



Links to actual film introductions are in the fold:
John Carpenter's The Thing
Night of the Living Dead
Starship Troopers 2
The Rocky Horror Picture Show
Pink Flamingos
The Harder They Come
The Puppet Masters
Predator
It! The Terror From Beyond Space
The Blob
Alien Intruder
[END]

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Sunday, 25 November 2007

Time? Who needs it?

Here's another one of them games to completely absorb every moment you have because YOU MUST COMPLETE IT! It's in the vein of The Incredible Machine, called Launchball. Just place one or two pieces and let physics take care of the rest. Got one or two pieces... it's so easy... oh, just the next level... just one more...



(Actually, I have placed all 30. And there's an annoying bit where sometimes you can't move the block and need to restart the level, but can only do that by going back to the main menu...)

[END]

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Saturday, 24 November 2007

Microsoft feels your pain

No, really, they do, using their We-SYP (We Share Your Pain) technology. Don't believe me? Then watch this:



[END]

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Friday, 23 November 2007

Here's to 44 years!


[END]

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Thursday, 22 November 2007

SJA: The Lost Boy

Wow! The plot finally kicks in, and kicks hard! Definitely avoid the spoilers in the fold if you intend on watching this story, 'cos I saw only some of that coming! (Unless you get the RSS feed, in which case you'll see everything anyway.)

Okay, so Luke was really a normal human boy and his parents have been searching for him... only, they turn out to be evil. Really... whoever could have seen that? Oh wait, me when I saw the trailer last time! And did we need a clip show after only 10 half-episodes?

But... the Slitheen? Yowsa! And the Xylok... the hell? That I didn't see coming (and the trailer last time totally led you in the wrong direction for the intent of the episode), and I thought it was great! Now that's a twist worth watching for!

(I do have to wonder just how well thought out this was. Surely Mr Smith could easily have not, for example, stopped the asteroid from destroying Earth in the last episode. And was setting up the Slitheen really the best plan?)

With the plot ramped up, the characters do take a step back. Obviously, this should be a Luke episode, and yet he is largely trapped for the story one way or the other. There's still a large portion of the Sarah Jane and Maria show, but Clyde gets some good screentime (although only in the first episode). The second episode is all about the running around, so there isn't much worth mentioning... EXCEPT FOR THE RETURN OF K9!!! WO0T!1!

The series has been a lot of fun, and this was a good cap to it. No idea if there is a second series, but we can hope for a return in some form or another.

[END]

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Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Are you bovvered?

Of course, The Runaway Bride wasn't the only time Tennant and Tate got together, and of course there's more to come. But a wee bit you might have missed was this get-together from the Red Nose Day this year:



[END]

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Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Can look up dictionary in the dictionary!

I recently got the Doctor Who Encyclopedia. Haven't had time to do more than flick through it's glossy, glossy pages, but I'm going to review it (or at least, give some comments) anyway!

It is, as I say, very glossy, with lots of photos illustrating all sorts of entries (although from looking at the photos first, it isn't always easy to identify the entry that should go with it). I do debate the need for all those entries, some of them get very obsessed about what gets recorded. (And yet, misses out on some entries!)

Nevertheless, there's everything here from the first three series, including the Christmas specials (as expected), the Children in Need Special (ha! see, RTD, it is canon!) and even Attack of the Graske (which can easily be canon).

Obviously through, it's now already out of date, but this just means there's a guaranteed revenue stream as new versions are put out.

This covers the new series, the Universal Database has the old series... but wait! What of the McGann movie? Surely, there's a gap that needs addressing!

[END]

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Monday, 19 November 2007

Doctor in Need!

Yay, new Doctor Who! In this case, the Children in Need special, cunningly inserted into the end of Last of the Time Lords, so much so you'll never notice the jarring change of image as the video changes.

But, aww, bless, it's for the children. And it's great to watch! Peter Davison back in action as the Doctor! Tennant gets the line "You were my Doctor", and I do wonder how much of that was Moffat and/or Tennant speaking from their hearts, as he was certainly my Doctor too.

One does wish it could have gone on longer, and that they didn't spend so much time pratting about with Doc 10 going on about Doc 5's outfit and appearance. It's more of a love note to Peter Davison's Doctor that anything else, but not quite like the previous one.

Enjoyable stuff!



Also check out Behind the Scenes.

[END]

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Sunday, 18 November 2007

Judgment Day has come!

For the Dover vs. Kitzmiller trial that is! Nova (a program series on PBS) did a show on the Dover case called Judgment Day... and you can watch it online! (For free!)

The main page is here and has links to all sorts of people and facts about the case, and here is the actual program itself! (Although, annoyingly, it's in 12 parts, so while you can watch whichever chapter you want, it does take a while to flick through them all...) (There are also transcripts there so you can just read it, and it's largely talking heads anyway.)

[END]

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Saturday, 17 November 2007

Grow up in this universe!

Back in 1991, Richard Dawkins (aka Mr Lalla Ward) did a series of five hour lectures about life, the universe and everything, called "Growing up in the universe." And now all those lectures are online, watchable, and even downloadable, for free!

Check it out! (And yes, that is Douglas Adams.)



[END]

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Friday, 16 November 2007

The Power of Positive Faking

As ever with these stories, more gets uncovered as time goes on.

14-year-old nearly died in exorcism, Dad saw exorcism intensify before daughter's death, and Water forced into makutu victim. (You may not immediately see the difference in these articles as they all use exactly the same photo.) The "ritual" involves putting the cursed person into water, and in this case more water than "usual" had been used. But, at the time, people thought that was fine. Only now, in hindsight, are people going "hang on"...

But when people are caught up in group events (cf. revivals and confidence building courses), thinking isn't generally encouraged. Just listen to the person in charge, and do what they say. (Which is a fine evolutionary tactic when someone's saying "come this way to avoid the tigers now", but...)

One piece of information to come to light: the tohunga (healers) involved in the ceremony might have been frauds! Really? Did they claim to have supernatural abilities? Perhaps they mentioned having done ceremonies before? Did they have a vast array of credentials on show?

HOW CAN YOU TELL??? I've talked before about proving a negative, and people claiming supernatural abilities (which is what healing or priestly powers amount to) are smack in the middle of that territory. Perhaps their power isn't working "right now", or "just ask that guy over there, he brought into it."

Our culture has allowed frauds to flourish, and it'll take more than one "makutu cleansing" gone wrong to get people's attention to change it.

[END]

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Thursday, 15 November 2007

Meeting me less than half way

Meetings are a necessary evil. For some reason, people have decided that we must gather and share information at work, and inevitably, it always boils down to "what have you been doing this week?". (I don't care about what I did, let alone want to even pretend to pay attention to what you did.)

After a while, even managers can't pretend that they are useful, and so end up saying "hey, let's make meetings more productive". But then everything goes wrong. Let's look at the productivity equation:

Meeting Productivity = Content / Time

There are two ways that productivity can be increased. The easiest way, that would appeal to people (especially those of us who recognise meetings as the pointless activities that they are), is to lessen the time of the meetings. Shorter, possibly, but even better, meetings less often. Yay!

So why, then, whenever anyone says "let's get more productive" the suggestion is always "let's have more content"?? And there are presentations, and guest speakers, and... AARRGGHH!!

[END]

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Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Castle Attraction to 52

In TSV #52, I wrote a story! (W00T!1!) If I recall correctly, I came up with the concept (rather than having it suggested to me) to have links to whatever was being reviewed in the issue. In this case, it was Monster of Peladon, Hand of Fear, King's Demons and Five Doctors. Some links are more interesting that others.

The first draft of the story was different (in the details) to what was published. One such change was that Henry was originally Harry! But, as Paul pointed out, people might be thinking of a different Harry, so he got changed.

Other scenes were also revised, and seeing the differences might be interesting, but I'm hiding the rest in the fold...

When Sarah first entered the story, I withheld her identity for a paragraph. Probably to make it more exciting!

The door opened and a pair of feet touched down. They lifted off again momentarily as the owner wrestled her way out of the small car. She cursed mechanics in general, and the ones in specific who were fixing her car, necessitating this economy sized vehicle.


When the Doctor examined the device on Orion, there was far more technobabble, and there was just more waffle in general.

‘Yes,’ said the Doctor musingly. ‘And if you’re here, then I don’t think that their technology is quite virtual either. Matter transmission isn’t developed until that latter part of the 21st century, and even then it isn’t used to go beyond the moon.’ After a moment he asked ‘How long did it take you to get here?’

‘Just a moment, really. And I’ve got this so I can be recalled.’ Sarah held up the recall box, then handed it to the Doctor when he held his hand out questioningly.

In short order, the Doctor had the box open, and examined the insides. ‘Humm...hrmm...hmmm....’

‘Yes? Well?’

‘This uses temporal technology. Very dangerous. Could mean the end of the entire solar system.’

‘Doesn’t it always?’

‘This isn’t time for flippancy, Sarah Jane. We’ve got to get back and put a stop to this.’

Sarah held her hand out. ‘I do have my own way of getting back. And when I get back, I’ll tell U.N.I.T. to shut them down.’

The Doctor frowned. ‘I think I’d better follow you, just to be on the safe side.’

‘All right, fine. Can you follow the signal?’

The Doctor nodded. ‘See you on the other side, Sarah Jane.’

Sarah rolled her eyes, and pushed the button.


In the published version, the Doctor and Sarah only take the one trip, but there was a trip before that while the bad guys were still playing. I put this in because I didn't want to jump straight to the end without some competence from the bad guys, but also wanted to put in a more concrete reference to Hand of Fear than just referring to Sarah's leaving.

They disappeared. Sarah collapsed, sinking into the surface below her, gasping out her last breath, Beside her, the Doctor wasn’t coping much better. He managed to look around him, saw only mud, then a bright flash in the sky, before they were pulled back again.

Only a few hours later, something struck the surface of the planet where they had stood, a small something, a part of something like a statue, a stone hand. They lay on the floor of the booth, spluttering.

‘Interesting. You survived going back one hundred and fifty million years. So, what was the weather like?’

‘You’re tampering with forces you don’t understand,’ gasped the Doctor.

‘So you keep saying. Who are you anyway? Doesn’t matter,’ said Roger dismissively. ‘That was successful. We know we can journey into the past, but what of the future?’ To the guards, Roger said ‘Take them away. We’ll need them later, once we’re set up.’


When the Doctor and Sarah escape from the cell they didn't just walk out, but this scene was rather gratuitous violence for Sarah.

Half an hour later, the door swung open, and the Doctor beamed at Sarah. Until a guard came in and stuck his gun in the Doctor’s face.

‘I think you should know, I’m against all forms of violence,’ said the Doctor.

The guard just stared stonily at the Doctor for a moment, then a look of agony passed over his features, before he collapsed, his hands between his legs.

‘It’s amazing how many men never consider that kind of attack,’ said Sarah, revealed behind the fallen guard.

The Doctor frowned at Sarah’s method, but couldn’t argue the result. The two of them left the room rapidly.

The Doctor darted ahead, leading the way, but several turns later was paused indecisively.


There was more of a link between the second-to-last and last scene, possibly I was thinking of some form of sequel.

One of the guards aimed his gun at the Doctor. ‘I wouldn’t suggest that. U.N.I.T. has already been advised of the situation, and I don’t think killings would help your case any.’

Roger waved at the guard to put the gun down.

‘Fine. You have us. But you’ll never know our secrets.’


‘They never talked?’

‘No,’ the Doctor shook his head. ‘U.N.I.T. has them in jail, of course, for misuse of science, but they never said where their technology came from. Pity.’



Also check out what Alden and Paul have to say!

[END]

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Tuesday, 13 November 2007

The Power of Positive Thinking

[That I'm blogging about this will surprise no-one.]

For many people, reality is a flexible concept, able to change to fit people's moods. Certainly, people have claimed the day to be very bright for very dark, depending on how cheerful or depressed they are feeling.

Then there are those who expect to see certain things, and see them everywhere. Convince yourself that the number 23 is significant and you will see 23 everywhere. Just another example of pattern recognition. And recognising what you've been taught. If you've been taught that there are spirits and demons and ghosts, then you'll see those as well.

And if you believe there are such things as makutus...

A Wainuiomata woman died during her family's attempt to exorcise a Maori curse, with the mother of two drowning in a lounge as up to 40 relatives watched.


The sad thing is, this isn't as rare as it should be. Given the state of the media, it's no surprise that most examples are from America, but certainly there are plenty of people there who still believe in exorcisms and that they are real things.

From their point of view, there really is a demon. And exorcisms are a proper response. If people die...well, that's sad, but it happens, and it was in the name of...

I don't even know. God? A higher power? Doing the right thing? Tradition?

Yes, I'm just going to say: THESE PEOPLE ARE CRAZY! And, moreover, deluded. A decent education might have saved that woman... or just might have given her excellent "reasons" (read: "self-rationalisations") for her delusions.

But I'm betting right now there won't be a single dent in the belief of the makutu.

[END]

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Monday, 12 November 2007

The greatest practical joke I never played

This always cheers me up:

At work my team leader wasn't the most technologically comfortable guy (but great with the statistics). Our computers have a screen saver with password that we are supposed to activate whenever we step away, but he didn't always do that... so I had a bit of fun to teach him.

One time I flipped his screen image (only possible with some graphics cards). Another time I changed his background image. I changed some of his Word settings (never noticed because he didn't use it that much). And so on. Never got around to sending a message from his email to everyone offering to buy morning tea through... (although that does happen with someone else I know, which the person has to then provide morning tea as punishment for not locking their computer).

Eventually, he moved on to another job, and on about the last day or so, got to playing with his calculator, and found out that it wasn't working. I tried it, and found that the 0 and 1 button worked, as did some function keys. Odd...

Tick...tick...tick... click!

Changing from binary mode to normal, I fixed his calculator for him. He said it had been like that for two years and he hadn't known how to fix it! (He also looked very suitably shamed.)

I just wished I had been the one to do that...

[END]

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Sunday, 11 November 2007

The Written Word

So as most of you probably currently know, over in the US of A there's a Writer's Strike as writer's desperately try to tap into all that mula that the networks are scoring from their efforts. One obvious impact from all this is that shows are being halted and the audience over there is facing repeats.

There has been the suggestion that reality shows will go ahead unaffected. But I am wondering about that on two fronts. There's always narration and stuff, does that count as needing a writer? (If not, then Mythbusters should continue unabated!) The other point is... are "reality shows" really any reflection of reality? I'm sure I'm not the only one to think most of those shows are scripted to hell and back. (And now we'll really see just how real Wrestling is...)

But the main thing I'm wondering is: what if this happened over here? Any strike would have the whole country up in arms to give them more money or otherwise... no Shortland Street! Aaaarrrrhhhh!!!! (I guess, never watch the show myself.) That said... they could probably just get the actors to improv and still just storylines just as comprehensible. And I do wonder if the writers would go on strike or be too obsessed and keep slipping them scripts anyway.

Just remember: never get in the way of the SS.

[END]

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Saturday, 10 November 2007

Holy Zombie Jesus!

As the BA points out, but as we all know anyway, Futurama is returning with straight-to-DVD movies, but you know they're gonna be fantastic! The first one is Bender's Big Score, but the Amazon entry reads like it's a vanilla disc. Check out this interview with David X. Cohen for the skinny on the DVDs and the list of extras they are cramming on!

Order now, I have! (But so long to wait...)

[END]

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Friday, 9 November 2007

Autism and immu... wha??

It's all the rage at the moment. Skeptical Inquirer has it. Skeptic magazine has it. Even the NZ Skeptic magazine has it (although it's not on the website yet).

What is it? I'm talking about articles that look critically at the link between autism and immunisation, and, basically, how any semblance of a link is bunk (all offense intended to vapid women who go on about the "mommy instinct" being more power than medicine.)

So when I saw the following article on Stuff, I didn't believe the title: No explanation for 'scary' rise in autism.

Amazingly, they get through the whole article without one mentioning immunisation, but they do mention other possibilities: "The increase was not explained by the population increase or another suggestion that it was now easier to diagnose."

But I am cynical, and now await for the expected headline "Protecting your child from diseases WILL KILL THEM!" 'Cos you know someone's gonna do that...

[END]

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Thursday, 8 November 2007

SJA: Whatever happened to Sarah Jane?

It's good to see the Sarah Jane and Maria show in full swing!

Certainly not the Luke and Clyde show. Just how quickly did Gareth Roberts get rid of Luke? And, frankly, when he came back and delivered that awful line of technobabble, just made you all the more glad he had been missing.

No, not the most original storyline (someone's missing and no-one can remember them), but the inclusion of Ashley Yates made it more interesting. And was it just me or did Jane Asher look a lot like a blonder Elisabeth Sladen? There were moments when I thought it was simply ES in a different make-up job. Anyways, the point is, pinning everything on letting one particular thirteen year old girl die over another is a horrific image for children and will scar them mentally for years to come. Nice one, Gareth!
(Really, when you think about it, the Trickster had to go to a lot of work in order to erase Sarah Jane but still keep the timeline safe enough for the earth to be the same as before. Not only the current SJA adventures but also all her past episodes with the Doctor, as well as arrange for the earth being unable to defend itself in other ways, e.g. the Torchwood laser cannon as in The Christmas Invasion. One wonders if there wasn't a simpler way...maybe just short circuit Mr. Smith at an inopportune moment?)

In this episode, the acting plaudits go to Yasmin Page for, as usual, her brilliant turn as Maria, but also Joseph Millson for his brilliant turn as her dad. He's especially great in the second episode when he has to pull off the "I know your secret" moments.

This story does make one wonder if the series would have been better without Luke or even Clyde. Unfortunately, the next set of episodes is all about Luke, so we won't find out.

[END]

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Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Oooh... aaaah... AAAHHHH!!!!

Obviously I made it through the fireworks without getting set on fire, but not everyone was so lucky. A kid with sparklers burned down a house in Turangi (I thought sparklers were already banned?). Yep, one house fire proves that all fireworks should now be banned from here to forever. Bah, in my day my brother and cousin burned down a tree, but that was about it.

I saw some nice fireworks go off from out of the street, and you can see some of what I saw here. (The video is of some of the display, although I didn't have the musical accompaniment, but there is also a video of fireworks going wrong, which I would have watched only it crashed Firefox.) I certainly heard it, and could see the higher bangs over the tops of the hills, but mostly I saw the glow. And smelt gunpowder. Lots of gunpowder. (Which probably wasn't from that display as there were others nearby also setting off fireworks.)

I don't think we do need the whole hog of banning fireworks, but there should be some way to make them safer. (Either that, or all stay inside with some nice, safe videogames.)

[END]

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Tuesday, 6 November 2007

"Psychic", her ass...

Paul has pointed out this article to me:

An Auckland "psychic" who claims to heal sex abuse victims is accused of lacing his consultations with sexual remarks, telling women how attracted he is to them and making derogatory and inaccurate "predictions".

I have to say I like to liberal use of quote marks. Unlike liking this guy who puts on extremely dubious moves on his clients. However, he's not completely stupid.
Former New Zealand Women's Golf Champion Kaye Maxwell said Clarke had always been above board in his dealings with her.
She had been so impressed with him she had invited the healer to her golf retreat to help clients be free of tension for their golf swing. She said she "couldn't believe" what she was now hearing.

Yep, don't hit on those who can get your into their golf clubs.

But later on the reporters speak to Patrick Fahy of the New Zealand Charter of Heath Practioners.
"People who practise psychic healing and aren't members of any particular register don't adhere to any code of ethics until such time as something goes wrong," Fahy said. "Some people have real psychic ability, but there are some whose practises are possibly questionable. It's quite a lucrative type business for some of these people."

First, let me correct that initial quote: "People who practise psychic healing ... don't adhere to any code of ethics."
Second... "real psychic ability"? Let me point out that there is $US1 Million just waiting for someone psychic to step up and prove it. Unless they're too busy, or "don't need to money" or any of a dozen other excuses offered to not actually challenge their "abilities". Go on, Patrick, let's see some of your "psychics" face up.

Yes, it is possible to test people for these abilities, and people who claim to have them should be tested. However, being "psychic" allows you to get away with anything, sexual advances in this case, although I suspect he would be a jackass even if he wasn't "psychic".

[END]

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Monday, 5 November 2007

Fire works

I worry about odd things at times, and at this time of the year there is something in particular I worry about.

I live in a fairly densely housed area, with lots of families with kids around. Families with kids that like to set off fireworks. Fireworks that shoot into the air and explode, and are carried about on the wind. And it is rather windy in Wellington.

And I live in a wooden house.

Now, the odds of a work of fire landing on said house and causing a problem are small, but there are a lot of fireworks going off, and small times many means that I worry. There is a reason the fire service is extra alert this time of year...

[END]

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Sunday, 4 November 2007

Spore from Ork

Spore is a new computer game coming out...some time that is basically SimLife. You start with a one celled creature, have it move around and reproduce, at which point you can modify it, and have the new creature live, and eventually progress to multi-cellular, complex life forms, then to civilisations, etc...

There is a full demonstration on YouTube, but check out this demonstration of how to use the creature editor with a very special guest star.



[END]

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Saturday, 3 November 2007

More of them pictures

Yep, another set of Conspiracy pictures. From pages 11, 17 and 30.





[END]

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Friday, 2 November 2007

But I have...

So we now know what I haven't seen/read, but what have I?

List of five movies (rules are: they are as they come to memory, I have to own them on DVD, and I have to have watched them more than once. And I won't mention the obvious Serenity):
Down Periscope
Event Horizon
House on Haunted Hill
Men in Black
Cube

Live of five authors (rather than individual books, I'll list authors as they've written series of books that I love. And the rules here are that I have to own multiple books, and have read most of them more than once - which knocks out Stephen Jay Gould as I haven't gotten around to second reads yet):
Stephen Donaldson
Terry Pratchett
Douglas Adams
James Randi
Peter David

Each item could be a blog post on their own... but not right this minute. I'm not claiming these movies/authors will change the way you live your life, but I enjoy them.

[END]

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Thursday, 1 November 2007

I've never...

(Continuing this week's emergent theme of me against popular culture.)

There are lots of "great" movies I've never seen: Lawrence of Arabia, Metropolis (the 1927 movie) or Goodfellas, for example. Similarly, there are lots of "great" books I've never read: War and Peace, Slaughter House 5 or The Catcher in the Rye, for more examples.

Does this make me culturally ignorant? Possibly. But there are a few arguments I'd like to make:

Argument from popularity: just because a lot of people believe something, doesn't make that something true. So lots of people liked The Great Gatsby (another one I haven't read), does that make this book good or just show that people have defective tastes?

Only the known can be good: Now, I read a lot of Doctor Who novels (*shock*, no, really?). Fine, I doubt they'll ever make the top 100 classic novels of all time, but... I can't judge that. And the people who are the ones who would judge that (and why should we listen to them? - argument from authority) probably will never read a Doctor Who novel, so these books so unjudged. Maybe Camera Obscura is the highest example of literature ever, but so many people will never know because it's just a Doctor Who novel.

I may not read what literature classes are based on, nor watch films that are taught as the best examples of all time, but I enjoy what I do read and watch. Maybe I would like that other stuff, and maybe that will raise my "cultural recognition", but I've got enough to be going on with in the areas I am interested in.

(Okay, not entirely sure of what point I'm making, but whatever it is, consider it made, unless I wasn't making any point at all.)

[END]

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Wednesday, 31 October 2007

Two fer...

Last night I had the time, and the cinema scheduled things nicely, that I could see two movies back to back.

Perfect Creature is definitely a New Zealand film, as the accents clearly give away. Or rather, a Nuovo Zelandia movie. In the alternative reality vampires have become the church, 'cos nothing says religion like god-given blood drinkers. At around 90 mins it doesn't outstay it's welcome, but it doesn't really have anything exciting to say about the genre either. Aside from the "Brotherhood" (as the vampires are called) aspect, this could have been any vampire tale you care to mention. Still, nice to see the NZ contingent producing solid efforts.

Stardust is another of those "movies adapted from the book", and I definitely prefer the book, but the movies did have some very nice visuals in it, and the final battle is something better seen than read (at least, according to how they interpreted that part of the story). Although over two hours, they pass pleasantly enough (despite certain discomfort from drinking too much), but it does suffer from "spot the guest cameo" (oh the laughter that Ricky Gervais earned... but why did he get fourth billing?).

[END]

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Tuesday, 30 October 2007

"You should see..."

There are a few people out there that think I should go see Jaws. I have a simple policy when it comes to recommendations: okay then, you arrange it.

If you consider the movie to be really good, then you would probably have a copy. So you could lend it to me.

And if you don't have a copy, I do have to wonder if it really is all that good, but it's possible that it might be something that makes a great first viewing but not a second as the big twist is now known. Then another option would be to rent it... only, if you think it's so good, then you pay for the rental and I'll watch it.

Either way, either put up or shut up. Don't rave about it then say "go off and spend your time on it". I have other things to do, so don't see why I should go out of my way to make an effort if you can't make one either.

This may seem like a rather brusque proposal, but if it's really that good...

(Conversely, I have one or two lending copies of Firefly ready to go at a moment's notice...)

[END]

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Monday, 29 October 2007

The Brigadier and Davros, together at last!

Okay, so really Nicholas Courtney and Terry Molloy together at last, as The Scarifyers! Inspector Lionheart and Professor Dunning are MI13, a branch that deals with some of the more strange happenings in Britian.

Produced by Cosmic Hobo, so far there is:
The Nazad Conspiracy: Invisible winged demons and sinister clowns are just some of the problems they must face in their first adventure. (Trailer available.)
The Devil of Denge Marsh: A scientific project and an evil from the dawn of time, just the thing for the Scarifyers. (Trailers available.) [Ever so slightly influenced by a certain Cthulhu' Call...]
For King and Country: (Not yet available)

These are available on CD, or as mp3 files from Lovecraftiana (which is currently down), but if you want to check it out there are two freebies available.

The Yule Lads: A Christmas Treat as the Scarifyers are on the trail of the twelve Icelandic trolls.
The Curse of the Cult of Thoth: Part of Yog Radio #26, a reading leads to trouble for the Professor and his host (played by Gabriel Woolf).

A lot of fun, and I love the theme music. Well worth checking out!

[END]

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Sunday, 28 October 2007

I was scared!

Last night I took part in the first inaugural Fright Night, which was a "con" where 20 people (two were female, seems to be about the expected ratio) took place in two rounds of RPG games, three hours each.

I was supposed to play in Cabin Fever, but for various reasons I ended up in Cold Front (which might bear some similarity to The Thing). I played Dr. Martin Kim, inventor of the Infinity Generator, a new generator they were trying out in the base. When things got crazy, he holed himself up in his generator room. (And so I didn't get too involved in the plot, although I was in character.) My death: trying to overload the generator, but instead getting an iceman's arm through my chest from behind, pushing out my heart, freezing and then smashing it. Ouch!

Second game was Truckstop, using the Dark Conspiracy system which is being rejigged for release. I played Specialist Kelly Avery, a medic in unit 8 at area 51. Our unit headed for a truckstop...where I died! Sliced to death. Fortunately, we "reset" and I was alive again... facing zombies! (Got died by being blowed up!) And then... and then it got weird.

Lots of fun all round. Here's hoping there's another one next year, but first there's Kapcon...

[END]

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Saturday, 27 October 2007

SJA: Warriors of Kudlak

Hey, you know how all the kids watch that show that shows other kids having tons of fun playing laser tag? No? Oh, well, er...

This is the most kiddy story so far, with lots of kids running around playing laser tag. At least, that's the first episode. The second episode is kids running around the set of that ship that was in 42. The "story" gets rather taxing when you've Paul Kasey in yet another mask talking to a video of himself trying to be all noble and stuff, and no-one really cares. He's an alien. SJA is all about "aliens are bad and must be defeated". Death to them all.

But that is a nice prosthetic he's wearing. Very good detailing on the mouth piece and the eyes are just unsynchronized enough to be disturbing. Pity about the red dressing gown. And the mask must have used up all their budget, which would explain the return of the leathermen from Smith and Jones.

But once again its the enthusiastic acting that saves the show. Unfortunately. By now, the show shouldn't need saving, but the plots just aren't working. Even Chook Sibtain does a great performance as Mr Grantham, even if the character doesn't deserve it. Even the laser tag sequences are saved by the actors going for it, and that takes effort.

Come on guys, pull it together! You need to get the stories to match the rest of the production quality. Next week does look intriguing with the Hellraiser cube and the return of the attack of the Graske! Here's hoping...

[END]

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Friday, 26 October 2007

Now a major film?

It's odd what gets turns into films. Stanley Kubrick turned The Shining into a film after starting to read it, with the exciting "driving to an interview" opening. I finally got around to reading another book that was also turned into a blockbuster, highly raved motion picture. Allow me to quote the back cover quote:

Pick up [this book] before midnight, read the first five pages, and I guarantee you'll be putting it down, breathless and stunned - the final climax is even better than the beginning - as dawn is breaking the next day.


Not even slightly. I had trouble getting through the first five pages! Admittedly I was only reading this in dribs and drabs (so much for deathless reading), but it still took me weeks to get through. Frankly, take the first fifty pages and the last fifty pages, and throw away the rest of the book. It's just boring, a complete sideplot that doesn't revolve around the "exciting" premise of the book. I do have to wonder how they did the movie (which I haven't seen).

What's the book? Jaws, by Peter Benchley. Yep, the famous "dah-duh" soundtrack and all (not available in the paperback version). Very much a disappointment, I must say.

[END]

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Thursday, 25 October 2007

Oh no, it isn't!

Okay, I read the newspaper online, and while away haven't been reading (can't be bothered with internet cafe and the like). So I finally get around to looking at the DomPost site, and what do I see?

Stone with picture of the Virgin Mary on it!

What? WHAT???

No it doesn't! Not even slightly! Yes, as they say in the article, no-one knows what she looks like, but the most commonly accepted images look nothing like this! I might be able to get a hat and outfit in the style of the 1920s, but that's about it.

One word explains all of this, has come up before, and will come up again: pareidolia

[END]

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Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Arma-didn't-geddon-it

To put it simply, although I clearly couldn't have known this before hand: if I hadn't gone, I wouldn't have missed that much. Yep, there were some great guests, and I got me a bunch of swag, but ultimately... it just wasn't that great an experience. Still have to consider going up next year if indeed they do get Adam West there, but obviously the next Arma is in Wellington early next year, about a month after the next convention (if memory serves).

But the worst part of it all: when you are in a flow of people, DO NOT stop and gander at things about you or to talk to your friends. Oh, the number of times I wanted to shout "get out of the way", but I'm too passive aggressive to do that...

[END]

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Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Let's see...

"I'm not planning on buying lots of comics or anything"

MASH t-shirt
(Another) Greatest American Hero t-shirt
Battlestar Galactica (mini-series start of new series)
Alanis Morissette: Feast of Scraps
The Dark Side of the Moon (Behind the scenes)
Generations (Batman/Superman comic)
Generations 2 (Batman/Superman comic)
Martian Successor Nadesico (anime)
Irresponsible Captain Tylor TV series (anime)
Irresponsible Captain Tylor OAV series (anime)
The Host
Robot Chicken: Season One
Red Vs Blue: Season One
strangerhood (from the makers of RvB)
Making Money (latest Terry Pratchett)

[END]

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Sunday, 21 October 2007

Just putting it out there...

Since I won't be posting for a few days, I thought I would leave you with this...



[END]

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Thursday, 18 October 2007

More Biblical hilarity!

Near the beginning of the year, I blogged about the Logically Critical episode "Wacky Bible Stories". Well, now he's done a sequel! Yay!

Check out "More Wacky Bible Stories"! The blurb: "You asked for it! More tales of king David, Ezekiel's bony adventure, and the entire book of Revelation!"

[END]

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Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Teh images... they BURNZS!!1!

Because pain should be shared:



[END]

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Tuesday, 16 October 2007

So much time, so little to do...

The timetable for Armageddon is now out, and I can plan my days... note that there are five levels, all with stuff happening, one main stream, one animation stream, wrestling and all sorts... but I'm going for the celeb guests talking.

Saturday isn't that great, but there is stuff for me from 12pm to 3pm. Plenty of time to look around, and get in early on the Red vs Blue stand. (Hopefully, as when they came last time, they'll have their dvds for NZ$20 per!)

Sunday is the full on day, with events interesting me from 11.30am, going right through to 6pm that evening! Phew! Which means I'll probably have to miss something for bathroom breaks (and the venue isn't exactly littered with bathrooms...).

Monday... is just poor. Everyone on stage at 1pm, Elizabeth Rohm at 2pm ... and that's it! Two freakin' hours? I'm not planning on buying lots of comics or anything (still got unread comics from last year!), so not a lot of reason to be there. Frankly, if I had known, I would have given serious consideration to coming back a day earlier!

Still, that will mean I'll have time to catch up with such exciting TV as QI and Samurai Pizza Cats!

[END]

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Monday, 15 October 2007

Yes, no, yes... maybe!

One of the best series on American TV is, of course, House, M.D. That is, when you can watch it. Season three was all over the place schedule-wise, and it looks like season four is starting off just as bad. We've had three weeks of the show... but, wait, now there's a week gap. What the hell is Fox up to? It just seems random when it wants to actually get around to showing a damn good series (but at least it's keeping the time the same). Do they simply have a big tank filled with balls with dates on them, and get manatees to randomly pick them up? No, that can't be it, that's how they get the plot to Family Guy...



[END]

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Sunday, 14 October 2007

Alienating #51

So TSV 51 is out, with Alden and Paul here. Nothing of mine is in this issue, but there is an article I want to talk about. I've sort of already talked about this, so let me start by quoting my letter from #52.

The Terry Nation article certainly showed off just how much Terry had been involved, Far more than I ever thought. Although Peter Adamson's article seemed lacking in an essential point. He showed that there's a common theme in Terry's stories, but it didn't really go anywhere, at least for me.


The article I was talking about what Alien Nation. While helping prep this issue, I had to reread this article, which gave me a chance to see how well it stood up to the test of time. I know that Peter's always thought my review was rather more harsh than he thought it deserved.

So, I reread it... and it was damn good! This article is a fascinating look at the worlds Terry created that weren't the Dalek, accurately summing up the principles Terry brought to each story, and how they fitted in with his typical storylines.

Basically, yes, I'm revising what I said ten years earlier. Peter, if you care, consider yourself indicated.

[END]

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Saturday, 13 October 2007

SJA: Eye of the Gorgon

Another two-parter from SJA. Can't remember if they are all two parters. Hope not as it'll be nice to see a condensed story without a cliffhanger that is immediately given away by the next week trailer...


First of all, I want to give props (although she has a neat one already) to Phyllida Law for her performance as Bea Nelson-Stanley. She put in an absolutely brilliant performance, and I enjoyed every scene that she was in. More, I say, more! If nothing else, you should definitely watch this for her appearances.

But, unfortunately, watching will entail taking notice of the story. Yep, I'm complaining about that again. The plot is very, very thin on the ground. A shopping list for this episode would be "gorgons, nuns and some random alien device thingy". I could see how they would have a hard enough time stretching this over one episode, but when it gets to two, we get treated to lots of "going to the old people home, then the nunnery, then SJ's house, then over to the nunnery again, back over the old people's home, and over to the nunnery... back to SJ's house..." and so on.

(You can also spot the padding by the inclusion of Chrissie Jackson (more annoying than Jackie!) in a sub-plot that has to be ignored to be believed.)

And then to wrap it up with Maria arriving with... well, it had to happen, but it was very badly structured.

Luke and Clyde were rather sidelined in this story, but with Tommy and Daniel phoning in their performances, I can see why. Or perhaps they just went low-key because they weren't doing much in these episodes? Either way: pick it up or throw 'em out. As for Elizabeth, Yasmin and guest star Beth Goddard (Sister Helena) - strong performances in spite of the rather ridiculous plot.

I am going to continue to watch this show, but it is the performances, not the story, that is keeping me going. Next week reminds me already of Winner Takes All, but shall wait and see...

[END]

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Friday, 12 October 2007

Pictures aplenty!

Yet more pictures (and yes, I am nearing the end). From pages 17, 28 and 31.





[END]

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