Book 20 - Short Story Collection by Ted Chaing

A big collection of short stories by Ted Chaing who you may remember write Hell is the Absence of God.

Ted Chaing is a very talented person. Every story he writes is guaranteed to have a very very interesting concept and 9/10 will have a very good story and good writing to top it all off. The problem arises only when he tries to write endings. The poor man can not do endings at all.

Its hard to review short stories, so I'll just go ahead and say that Ted is fantastic at writing amazing worlds. Every story in this collection is magical and amazing and unbelieveable. Its just a shame that sometimes his writing ability stops him from pulling it together in one nice package.

Still suggest you give him a read, if only for the story about Golems, or the one on AI.

Book 19 - The High Frontier by Gerald O'neil

Not a sci-fi book, not a hopeful utopic look at the world, not overly hopeful but solidly realistic in his estimations. A roadmap to human orbital development, C.1979

I've wanted to read this book for years now. I really wanted something that could show me the hows and whens of the whole issue. I think in my head I built it up as some bible of orbital development, something that explains everything and makes it easy for me. And somehow I was right. If you ever want to be completly sold on the idea of space development, read this. It clears up everything and makes every element of the process clear and obvious and shows how we could have fantastic structures in space for cheap. On 1970s tech. It also helps that he massively overestimates everything. Makes you think he understands better.

My only criticisms are that O'Neil seemed fixated on 3 activities; Ballet dancing in space, 0G Love Hotels and man powered flight. Three things one can understand being excited about but maybe a better time would be while righting a tourist guide for the station, not while writing a speculative paper on how one might build a station. The only other thing is that the first 3 chapters are full on Doomsday mode. He makes some excellent points but comes out sounding a little depressing.

buy it buy it buy it

Book 18 - Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk

An insomniac and his best friend attempt to destroy civilisation and thousands of idiots around the world miss the point.

Fight Club is a popular movie. It's also a very good book, which is obvious seeing how I'm currently reviewing it now. The thing about Fight Club is that almost no one who watched or read it really understood it. They walk away from the text with the idea that Tyler is right, that Tyler is wise and intelligent and Fighting is a good idea. This is basically the worst interpretation possible. Fight Club is about being yourself. Despite the movie/books constant assurances that you are not special, the message of the book is that you can be. Its not about fighting the system through self destruction, its about being more than normal by taking charge of your life and moving forward with your own goals and mind at the forefront. It is a parody of the whole, raging against the machine thing we all go through, its a joke against the overtly masochistic way men aim to be. Every character in Fight Club, besides the narrator and only right at the end, are laughable, pitiable wrecks of human beings that you are supposed to feel sorry for. You are supposed to walk away from the piece with the knowledge that you do not have to be a butch manly man, you do not have to be anything other than yourself.

I can't say much else in these short reviews. Just read it because it is great and also its short and I know you like that. Keep what I said in mind and enjoy it. Its a misunderstood but good book.

Book 17 - The Crying of Lot 49 by Thomas Pynchon

A woman finds herself the execurtioner of an old boyfriend's will. While processing and sorting his effects, she stumbles on evidence of a secert conspiracy regarding an underground postal service.

What can I say? Its a classic. Its a novel about a million and one different subjects and subtexts. Ranging from the British Invasion of the 1960s, to Humanities need for certainties in life. I really enjoyed this read. I've been meaning to read it for a very long time but just wasn't able to get around to it. The book is utterly differnt from what I expected but in a very very good way. The characters are fantastic, the story is great and the world is very well done. I'm being very general but if I say anything more then I'll just spoil it for you.

The one big issue is the writing. Even Pynchon has said he hates the way the book is written. I found it pretty hard to follow at times and required quite a bit of effort to get through. some passages are really hard to parse and the story jumps from location and event over and over. It fits the story undoubtably but it does make for a difficult read.

Let me tell you about Consolevania

Video games have a harsh time when it comes to TV. Currently the most popular video games show is actually some horrible channel called G4, a show so bland, so offensively mediocre it has to rely on youtube content that it can steal to avoid its viewers killing themselves out of desperate need for some sort of stimuli. Shows paid for by advertising and made with the sole reason of getting you to buy the shitty games they cram down your throat over and over again. Places that genuinely act like the Kinect is a good idea.

Dark times indeed. Most people who play games these days are probably too young or too stupid to remember the golden age of games shows, Gamesmaster on a Friday night with the amazing Dominik Diamond radiating class and suave, showing off the newest games and systems before they had even been anounced. and Sir Patrick Bloody Moore telling us all cheats. They'd have contests where two hapless little kids like me would battle to the gruesome end trying to collect the most coins in Mario 3. Amazing times, Pure times. You had the feeling the show wanted to tell you about the games for their own sake, and in a time before the internet this was amazing.

Pure Class Act

Gamesmaster and shows like it weren't bogged down with endless drivel, with female hosts who act as little more than nerd candy, with male presenters acting like some horrible pathetic dickhead version of geek culture, no pandering to the audience here, no acting like being a asshole VIDEO GAMER is somehow a good thing, no indirectly advertising the biggest and most well paying advertisers, just video games, contests about video games, news about video games, a childlike, raw love of this new medium that was only just emerging, tadpole like, from the primordial ooze. It was fantastic.

I know what you're all thinking. You're all going "oh but nems you're just remembering it different cause you're an old fogee with cataracts and a bad hip and you're mental" Well fuck you you little shit I bought all the dvds years ago from some knock off site and I watched them all a couple years ago so fuck off. I know what I'm on about here.

Your only real comment on this would be "Well times have changed. You'd be right, times have changed. Its acceptable to say things like "rofl" and "lol" in public now, TV like G4 is apparently 'good' now. Its a shame. If only there was something better, a shining star in an otherwise shit stained sky. You know where I'm going here don't you you little bastard.

 Meet Ryan and Robert. The two best video game reviewers that have ever lived. That might be a bit much but they were very very very good. I say Were because unfortunately they have both moved on from that world now. Robert is now doing boardgame reviews at and writing shit for the BBC. Ryan is...Well I have no idea what Ryan is doing but it sure as hell isn't more episodes of Consolevania I am bloody sure of that.

Rab and Ryan used to do a show called Videogaiden, and a show called Consolevania. I won't mess around and try to work out which came first because honestly I have no clue. Both were very similer with the main difference being VideoGaiden seems to have been given a small budget due to it being on the BBC, and Consolevania is basically them two and their mate Kenny bombing around Glasgow doing silly game related stunts. This was pretty much the best review show ever made. possibly the best video game based show ever.

Its all down to those two guys up there. You see, they are friends. You can tell they are friends just by watching the show, go, click some of the links at the bottom and watch these two. They are best mates and you can FEEL it. They are also equal parts honest, funny, entertaining and insightful. If either of them ever read this and see I called them Insightful they'll probably kick my teeth in. But they are. and its wonderful. All they really seemed to care about was telling you about stuff they liked and stuff they thought was naff and why. It was never about telling you all about the latest flash bang whiz super call of duty 6 future space combat elves game, just about whatever amazing or utterly horrendous game they wanted to talk about. and it was always one of the two. Never have I seen these two review a mediocre thing, wheres the point in that?

They spoke to you as a person, not you as a wanky GAMER, not you as a pretentious GAMES AS ART dick but just you as a guy who wants to play some games. They was their charm, that was their uniqueness, that was probably their downfall. Neither of their shows were ever popular which is a massive shame. I would have loved to hear what they had to say about games these days. They always had this way of cutting through the bullshit and just telling you if you'd have fun with a game, you don't get that much at all these days. It's just unique. At times its downright lynchian, with Kenny going off and ruling alternative dimensions, implied evil overlords and unnerving sets. Rab expanded this in Downtime town, another amazing thing you can find below.

Please. If I have any readers at all (I do not) and you want to watch some really funny and interesting stuff about video games you might not have played, look these two up. You can watch all of Consolevania through the million and one links on their website, and you can watch series 1 and 3 of Videogaiden on youtube and the BBC respectively. If you find Series 2 please mail it to me you git. (Edit, An amazing mentalist left a comment with every episode of every show Rab and Ryan have ever done, What a world of dreams we live in)

Some mental who has loads of Videogaiden
An even BIGGER mentalist with litterally everything your tiny heart could desire
Rab sums up my entire feelings of GAMERS
The best intro to Consolevania
Videogaiden on the BBC
Rab's old new boardgame site (thanks for making me spend mad cash on a hobby I didn't even have Rab. You asshole)

Zaa Ooo Zaa

Book 16 - John Dies at the End by David Wong

Two friends accidentally gain the ability to see into hell. They ustilize this ability the same as pretty much anyone would. With confusion, difficulty and a major lack of understanding.

There isn't a whole lot to say about this book. Its a very simple very entertaining read that isn't filled with any deep symbolism or any intense thought provoking passages. It doesn't pretend to be. It manages to do its job perfectly, simultaneously keeping you hooked and entertained throughout. If you make it though the book without wishing you were John, I don't really know what to tell you. You soulless machine.

My one gripe is the book takes a hard left turn about 3/4 of the way through and changes alot. in some ways that just doesn't tie in with the rest of the book. It seems like David Wong stopped writing at some point and when he came back took the story in another direction. This makes some of the passages near the end a bit difficult to parse. Still fun though.

Cheer up. Its not that bad!

Recently we found the oldest galaxy yet. Some megaboffins in some big building got together, pointed some mirrors and some telescopes and did some spells with some candles and out popped a picture of this old foggie;

Look at that bad boy. 12.4 billion years old and still pulsing away, looking barely 10 billion.

But I'm not here to talk your ear off about some utterly unknowably immense ball of fire and gas from the ass-end of the universe. No, I'm here because while I was reading about this fantastic, amazing, jaw dropping discovery, I started reading forums and web pages about it. A poor move on my part, amateur even. I should have been prepared. I've been around the net enough to know what comments and forums are usually like. What I found was a bunch of idiots saying that this discovery only makes us even more insignificant, only punctuates the pointlessness of life and the ironic duality that science presents us with, simultaneously making the world an amazing place, while giving us concrete proof that there is no point in it all.

What a big load of assholes. For a moment they even had me, they pulled me in with there toxic cloud of utter negativity. I sat for a moment and went "yeah, its a shame isn't it." Then something snapped in my head and my apathy turned to anger. Not at the universe as you might expect, but at these dickholes, these self important little shits. How dare they.

They arn't alone. Infact its the In thing these days to ramble off about how humanity is but a single drop in a vast ocean and our lives are as a single blink of an eye in the life of the universe. I hope these people all blink into incoming traffic. All our achievements will all turn to dust and every memory and idea ever formed will someday be gone. Pessimism.

But here's the trick. You want to know a secret? Really? Ok come close, listen in. Keep it quiet now. They are wrong.

Yep, really. Utterly, Wrongingly wrong.

These people are also trash. These are worthless people, secretly masturbating to this fetish of a doomed universe where all of human achievement amounts to nothing, because that makes life easy for them. Pessimism is the easy road. If the universe is ending and there's nothing we can do, why worry? Fuck it. Sit back, let life pass us by. They cruse through their pathetic lives infecting others with their vile poisonous worldview, somehow justifying this utterly nihilistic look on life by twisting science and stories like this to fit their needs.

While reading this stuff I was hit by the realisation that these idiots probably support their local football team more than they support their god damn species. But I can see you guys, yes you, you dickwad. Tutting and smiling a smug smile. the same smile that you put on when another amazing discovery or theory is made, happy to know that your nothing life is just as meaningful as the lives of these super human scientists, because in the end, what difference does it make?

To be a bit more eloquent, and nice to the people on the fence on this whole thing, let me explain why and how these pessimists are so awfully wrong. and Smile. Please.

First of all, I want to clear this up. Science. Science isn't a tool by which we can stare our own pointlessness in the face. Its the tool with which we make ourselves so so much more than a blink of an eye. Its the jack we use to prop open the eye, to stare into it and to scream at the top of our lungs. Science not only makes us the single most important thing in our solar system, and possibly beyond, it gives us the power to know we are important, if only you look at it with a slightly less final look at everything. With time, with more super scientists, slowly, science will even save our species from any and every eventuality up to and including the heat death of the universe. Yes. Really.

People forget our achievements so easily, or minimize them to the point of nothingness. Even normal people who just plan dont have a stance on how to look at the universe sometimes forget, I understand that, some of this stuff seems to happen so far away and so unreal sometimes, it becomes easy to forget. But really when you think about it, in the short time we've had to work it all out, we've done some bloody cracking stuff.
Pictured: Something We Actually Actually did.

And the next comment is obviously "but look at all the horrible things Nems Look at the waaaaaaaaaaars and the faaaamine and the deeeeeath" and yes its horrible and terrible and sometimes when humans do bad things we do bad things. This hurts more if you're constantly trying to see people for what we are as a group, amazing, intelligent, nice people. Some people are horrible though, I know that. I just don't think that's a good reason to decide that humanity is worthless. Amazingly though, science helps even here. I know it may seem terrible but Science and technology has made war a much easier and bloodless thing. Time was to fight a war you needed numbers, raw, meat grinder battles and that's about it. Now you need robots, a small standing force and an airforce. Time was a single virus could wipe out humanity, now science is curing every aliment that attacks us. Time was if the weather wasn't perfect, no crops, and without the crops, you'd die. No more are we hunted beasts, flapping in the wind of nature and bending and breaking to the random whims of an angry planet. We are now this planets masters. Using our massive brains and our immense understanding we are able to plant our feet, turn and face Nature and smile in the face of what is now our equal.

Next, Our apparently unalterable course to our timely demise. This is the kicker I think, you can laugh at me over the whole science issue, because we're obviously going to wipe ourselves out. Mankind is a bunch of raving lunatics waving nuclear weapons around like an overplayed metaphor about a cat. I'll actually grant this to the naysayers. Yes, if we manage to blow ourselves to hell before we leave this planet, then we're boned. However, that's right I said however, don't let your fucking guard down with me you dreary bastard, We're getting off this rock. Soon. Sooner than you negative nancies think. within our lifetimes we're going to see the start of the movement and within a could generations, mankind will be living on two massive rocks in the void. I beseech anyone and everyone to come up with some method by which humanity can be wiped out when it lives on two different planets. Humanity becomes immortal.

That's about all I have the energy for really. The end message of all this is that its more likely than not that we're going to come out aces. We're the greatest thing this solar system has produced and we have potential to be an immortal race that will shape the very universe we now look at in awe. With science and ingenuity and drive, the only thing holding us back is attitudes. People who rally against science for interrupting there own personal power trips, religions, "spiritualists" and of course, the same pessimists who twist what is a pure and amazing tool to their own, evil needs.

Boom, stitch that.

Book 15: Roadside Picnic By Arkady and Boris Strugatsky

A haunting, humbling, minimalist science fiction story about the aftermath of an alien visitation and its (often unforeseeable) consequences.

I had originally planned to read Romance of Three Kingdoms starting last week. That plan fell through. I'll be outright honest when I say I couldn't get past the first few pages. I think I'll be ready for it now. This poorly translated book follows two characters in this uniquely Russian world. Aliens have been and gone, leaving Zones, filled with amazing trinkets. The lives of the Stalkers (men who make their living breaking into the Zones and bringing back objects.) take center stage. The book mostly follows Red, quite possibly the best Stalker in the business. The trinkets and traps are the true stars of the show though, infinite batteries, indescribable magnetic plates, The Meatgrinder, all really lite your imagination. In between touching segments dealing with Red and his family, and tense, nail-biting excursions into The Zone, the book takes us along with a scientist discussing theories for the Zone and its many bizarre and strange property's.

The issue with the book, at least the version I read, is that it is awfully translated. This was distracting in many places but I'm certain you could find a better one than the free version that's online. Other than that, the style of writing isn't for everyone and it leaves a lot for you to make up your own mind about.

Maybe now, after suffering through Roadside picnic and coming out richer for it, I can venture into the Zone once more and maybe even pull out a trinket.

The Door is closing

Hey everyone, hows it going? Good? Good. Just gonna walk up here and take a massive dump on you.

I think I've said before I had problems with the university's funding system before. I believe I took offense that my money should go toward cheap pretend science that is a waste of life, time and money for everyone involves (except the ones getting my money I suppose). The solution however was not to double the university fees. That wasn't it at all.

Let me tell you all a bit of a story. Back when I was much smaller, my school was getting renovations and new awesome stuff for the playground. We're talking climbing frames man. All kinds of shit. I was psyched. Unfortunatly building took a bit longer than planned and I wasn't around to see the totally rad climbing frame. I was so peeved that I got a few friends together and under the cover of darkness we wrote "G-TOWN PRIMARY SUCKS" in some drying cement. Sorry about that guys.

Fast forward 5 years and I'm in the last year of England's High school equivilent. Half the school is closed down and to get anywhere you had to follow a route that would leave Theseus scratching his head. Every day lessons and breaks were interrupted and in some cases utterly destroyed by bulldozers, cranes and workmen. This was all in aid of a new building they were putting up to replace the football courts and the inappropriately named Math Houses. Once again I didn't get to see it for myself but passing by one day I found they had not only finished this massive, multistory super modern building, but also erected an amazing military style obstacle course. Who knows how many hours of my childhood could have been made radical by the addition of a military obstacle course? Truely one of the biggest injustices of our time.

Yet again it seems I'm about to miss out on some amazing academic innovation. The ability to charge whatever you want, however you want, when ever you want. Fantastic. I'm really glad the new government isn't trying to ease into its place as Evil Doers and have decide to go the White Cat and Long-Scar-Over-The-Eye route of government. If anyone needs me, I'll be lowering myself into the pit of ravenous piranha.

As a quick aside. It also marks another stone in Nick Cleggs road of completely and utterly shitting on any promises he made during his campaign. As if forming wasnt the only sign you needed, he did promise to lower student fees. A stance he's very quickly forgotten about. Thanks Nick. Glad to have you around.

Book 14: The Sex Lives of Cannibals by J. Maarten Troost

The author follows his wife to a tiny, hellish atoll in the middle of the south pacific and tells us all about his fantastic adventures.

Reading this book gave me a fantastic sense of adventure. It seems like not a day went by in Troosts stay on Kiribati with him being attacked by sharks or riding in a plane that has more in common with a bus. Every turn of the page brought new, exciting, funny adventures that filled me with a real sense that even here, in space year 2010, its possible to be a real adventurer. Funny, heartwarming and all round fun to read.

The book has another side though, below its surface. It critiques western culture, attacks the things we rely on and shows us what happens when we tamper in other peoples lives. The I-Kiribati are a poor, desalute people whom every meeting with the western world only damages their already corrupt and broken government more. At the same time it makes you feel like, well, maybe its not so bad. Though that may be the author's way of dealing with it.

I would highly suggest this book. Its fascinating and Troost is the perfect man to tell this tale. You won't be disappointed.

Book 12 - Columbine by Dave Cullen

A look back at Columbine and a journalistic story of the events that transpired before, during and after.

Columbine is a subject that illicits a huge response. Its a confused mess of a subject to be honest. Few members of the public know the true story, fewer still know the whole story and only 4 or 5 will ever know everything. And 2 of those are dead. I've had a huge interest in Columbine for a very long time. I realize that makes me sound like a nut but its just, to me, a very interesting topic that has captured me.

I've watched the documentaries and played the RPG thing and all of that. They never answered vital questions on the subject. Micheal Moore's money grabbing attention spree of a documentary just made it harder for me to understand. I even looked over the notebooks and journals released by the authorities but to no avail.

This book explained everything. It opened my eyes to alot of the issues that have since spawned from that day and answered alot of my questions. It has got some confusing, conflicting reviews but from what I know of the tragedy, this is the best book to learn everything there is to know about it. From the killers, to the town, to the people, it explains it all.

Quit Being Dicks

For the past couple million years, there's been some animosity toward "outsiders". I think its always been there as long as animals has congregated in groups. Being suspicious of newcomers is just something creatures do. It keeps predators away and you never know when that new guy is going to turn out to be a no good double crossing Lion.

So my usual response of "WHhhhhhhhyyyy" doesn't really work too well when applied to the topics of immigration and xenophobia. I understand why people are scared of horrible invaders from outside coming and stealing all the jobs, women, government benefits and whatever else the tabloids accuse them of. But that doesn't make the argument any less bananas.

Standing against immigration is probably the dumbest thing you can do as a human being. This is really one of the topics that shakes my core as a humanist. To imagine enough of my fellow human beings are ignorant or evil enough to stand in the way of their own countries progress for some pathetic tribalism? It tests me. I'm getting ahead of myself here, Let me compose myself and we can begin.

Immigration is a touchy subject. There are many factors at play. Some of these factors are imagined and feed to you by mass media, some are real and need to be addressed. On top of all that, there's racial aspects to consider, jobs, the list goes on. I'm not an expert, but I like to pretend to be one on the internet, which is good enough.

Just for a start, lets begin with Jobs. This is a huge concern I hear a lot when I'm in America. That waves of Mexicans are flooding the country and stealing all the jobs for themselves, then sending the money they earn into Mexico, thus DESTROYING THE ENTIRE FOUNDATION OF HUMANITY. This to me poses some interesting questions. First of all being, who's jobs are being lost to this vile plague, exactly? Its not the middle or upper classes that's for damn sure. I can't see many illegal aliens entering the country with collage degrees and a full work resume. I honestly can not envision a situation where skilled jobs go to an untrained guy who just crossed the border.

Logically this leaves lower class jobs. Drivers, basic unskilled work, that sort of thing. Ok I can see this being an issue because our hypothetical Mexican might work for much less than our hypothetical American. However the blame here is misplaced, rather than blaming the penniless Mexican who needs a job to support his family, why not blame the richass guys hiring him? Presuming our Hypothetical American lost his job directly because a Mexican would do it for cheaper, that seems like the bosses fault, rather than the Mexicans. He'd do the same if an American would do it cheaper I'm sure.

Maybe the concern is that there are limited jobs and by having too many outsiders, you strain the job market by introducing too much completion and so on. This isn't a good thing? I mean competition encourages growth, why not just be the better candidate? I mean hell the Hypothetical Mexican is already starting on a handicap, given his hypothetical ethnicity.

I get that life isn't always so black and white. Maybe the American has a family to feed and needs his shitty factory workers job to live. Maybe he loses it cause some Mexican guy will do it for dirt. That's shit, its horrible and can destroy lives but as I've said. Its not the fault of the Mexican. Hes just some guy looking to earn some cash same as the Hypothetical American. Its the guys that run the factory, their bosses that are to blame.

The world is currently in a very weird place when it comes to immigration. Its almost at the point where you're just screaming at people you think MIGHT not be from around here. Oh wait. With media fueled anger against so called "terrorists" and invaders and interlopers, every single country on earth is on edge, keeping an eye out for vaguely "not from round 'ere" types, ever vigilant lest they deflower our fair lands and crumble our infrastructure.

Lets compare the two main powerhouses of the world right now. The US and Europe. The fear in the US (and everywhere else really) is that if you allow other people into your country, all the jobs go, culture becomes dissipated and all kinds of other utterly mental arguments. As if by simply allowing people to work and live where they want to, you undermine the very tenements of the economy (These people obviously don't understand economics very well). This is all well and good if it wasn't for the fact that Europe has had open borders in regards to work for the past 10 years and is currently the most culturally diverse continent on earth with some of the highest standards of living in the world. To clear that up, The EU allows anyone from any EU country to work in any other EU country, provided they have a valid passport. Reports that Paris is consumed in the fires of anarchy are, as yet, unfounded.

Speaking of which, there is one final argument that makes no fucking sense that I feel obliged to type endlessly about. The so called Culture Clash that "proves" people should just stay where they are. This may seem like a pretty solid argument. Just last month we had literally tens of insane Americans storming a clothing warehouse to try and stop a community center being built because Glenn Beck told them to. Before that we had literally ten fundamentalist Muslims going apeshit over some danish political cartoons. You may notice something funny here, In the first case, a bunch of fat old white dudes are going nuts over a harmless thing that has a religion attached to it. In the second, a bunch of old fat brown dudes are going nuts over a harmless thing that has a religion attached to it. No one really took the mosque people seriously, no one acted as if that was the entire of America's stance on the subject. Hell even the president came out to say "Quit being dicks guys." Its exactly the same with the Islamic protests.

The message here is that there is no "clash of culture". It doesn't prove that humans should stay with their own tribes. The only proof on show here is that there are idiots, fundamentalists and nutjobs from everywhere. There are Middle eastern nutjobs, there's American nutjobs, there's European nutjobs, Asian nutjobs and when we find them, probably a whole lot of alien nutjobs too. Given any number of people, you're gonna find a couple nutters. That's just how life goes.

The only difference between this;

And This;

is the color of their skin. I guess only one of them are capitalizing on the victims of a tragedy to further a political campaign but lets not get into that.

Lastly I want to talk about integration. Its a large part of what people idiotic self-centered morons without a single intelligent thought think about when they worry about immigrants. Will they integrate into our society? The short answer is yes, given education and encouragement. The evidence is, yet again, all over the place. You only need to look at Universities all over the world to see different cultures and peoples working together and forming their own cultures. The real issue is education. People complain that phone lines and menus and signs are in Urdu as well as English in England (mostly the aforementioned nutjobs) and then in the same breath complain that "they" don't try to learn English. It sounds like madness but how in gods name are you supposed to integrate into a culture and society if the society and culture is impenetrable? Efforts such as phone lines being in English, free English classes and further education programs for immigrants allows them to integrate properly, to share their culture and become more than residents, it allows them to become citizens. You want all the menus and phone lines in English only? All you do is segregate and create isolated groups. This is basic social dynamics. I'm literally getting angry just writing that cause it's hardly fucking rocket science that if you put 50 people in a room, tell 48 of them to only speak french and 2 to speak Russian, The 2 speaking Russian will, 9/10, segregate and isolate themselves.

Really, honestly, all this is moot. The kind of people this is aimed at don't care about rational problems, they don't care about real issues that arise from immigration (of which there are a few). They just want "Them" away from their precious tribe. I know the message of this article is Hate Breeds Hate. But Fuck them. They stand in the way of progress, actively dragging humanity down by their shear hatred and bigotry. Its our duty, not as Americans, or as Europeans or whatever, but as human beings, to kick them in their stupid faces and drag them into the future.

I really hope I've been clear in this article. Its really a simple message and numbers agree with me. Countries work better when they open their borders. the evidence is everywhere, in history with the development of the united states, in Europe now, everywhere. You just have to ignore the nutjobs and put some thought into it. Of course, if all I did was ignore the nutjobs, I'd never write anything.

Some thoughts on Ereaders

I hate these kinds of posts. Really, they're horrible places where people just show off their new toys and it kinda pisses me off to imagine someone just going "oh laddidah i got a new expensive thing look at me". However, I'm not gonna do that here. I wont quote figures and facts copied from, I'm just going to say how reading a book compares to reading an ebook. This might be really hypocritical but hey, what am I but hypocritical.

In sort its fantastic. This is how reading will be done in the future. It really is not better than this. Oh I could go on about the features and the fonts and the screen and the clarity and whatever for hours, but that isnt important. If you have never used this device before, you won't be sold by the idea of being able to listen to music while you read or that you can increase the font size. Its just not important.

What is important is that it has It. That indescribable goodness that makes something great. It takes it from being a gimmick, a silly toy, and makes it a necessary component in your life.Everything about Ereaders just comes together to produce the single best way to read a book. It is the perfect tool for the job basically.

When these things first came out I wasn't too sold on them. Its just a book, I figured.Then after a while I warmed up to the idea. In all honesty I'm a young student with some disposable income and an affliction for electronics and gadgets so it spoke to a part of me. But it transcends that. Its no longer just a gadget to me, it's my book.

Its frustrating to write about an indescribable thing. All I can really say is go out and try it. Some stores have preview models but don't write it off if that one sucks. The one I tried out was utterly horrendous with its load times and that made me feel like they were all like that (in actually fact turning the page on my Ereader is quicker than I can physically turn the page). You might still think its naff, but then you're probably an idiot. Everyone with half a braincell will probably go "oh, this is neat" and maybe consider it. The experience is fantastic and makes reading better.

The downsides of it are..well the publishers don't like them very much but thats going to change the same way it did with MP3s. Old men don't like change but technology forces that change. Within the next few years you're going to see Ereaders becoming much more popular. Other than that? I guess PDFs don't work too well sometimes and the internet loads somewhat slowly. Thats it. Any moron ranting about how it doesn't "Feel" like a book is mentally incontinent and needs to have their brain examined.

This is kinda low content I know but there's really little I can say without boasting about how awesome MY ereader is. I think I'll write a bigger article on the subject of Ereaders and their impacts and the publishers reactions and so on at a later date. Consider this a preview to that.

Book 11 - H.P Lovecraft collection

A collection of the Famous writer of eldrich horrors H.P. Lovecraft's best stories.

I used to really like Lovecraft. Some of his stuff is very interesting, unique, scary and strange. When I was younger I really enjoyed the ideas behind the stories and I don't think I paid much attention to the writing or the construction of the tales themselves.

Now I'm older I can't help but realise almost every single story is exactly the same, starts the same and ends the same with the "freaky stuff" happening roughly the same time in all of them. There's always an unreliable author, a madman, some strange myths and in the end, there's always a reveal of something you already guessed.

I don't really like Lovecraft any more I suppose. His stuff still have the weird and wonderful ideas behind them, some of it boggles the mind to imagine. But as anyone who has read the most famous entry into this blog knows, its all a bit silly in the end.

I'm debating what to read next, Either the recently released Columbine or Romance of Three Kingdoms. I'll probably do the first one but this means that after that, no book review for a good while. Considering I'll be on vacation I'll probably be reading alot but the book is 150 chapters long. Should be fun times.

FAQ about Space

So apparently many of you still harbour issues with my insane space idea. Thats ok, you aren't stupid, just horribly misinformed. Thats like being stupid, only I get less punches in the face for saying it. So today I'm going to run down a couple of the biggest issues people had with space mining, colonisation and other similar subjects. Thanks to Joe, Keef and Hannah (I.E all but 1 of my readers) for helping me out with the questions. Your contribution to the betterment of mankind will not go unseen.

1. How do you land on a friggin asteroid?

Its easier than you think! in fact the Japanese have already done such a task. That part is actually pretty easy. In space you can go alot faster than you can on earth with alot less power. Most NEOs that we'll be mining only go about 2KM/s. That sounds like a lot but the Shuttle (an outdated model by 1980s standards) goes at about 28,000km/h just chillin in orbit.

2. How do you mine an asteroid without air or gravity?

Again, this sounds really difficult and brings images of rocks floating around, foundries burning down cause the superheated metal is just floating around. But in reality its not that much different from here on earth. Its actually easier in some ways. See the asteroid isn't like minerals on earth now. They are literally massive blocks of metals. much richer ores than the ones we have here on earth.  This makes extraction much much easier.

As for the actual mining process. Well, there's a handful of ways we can do this. ranging from Magnets to strip mining to just plain scraping that shit up. The best way to go about the whole process would be to take up materials for a automated processing facility (an engineering problem, easily overcome), deploy automated gathering robots or have them guided by hand from earth. This probably sounds like it'd be very expensive, but automated systems would actually be much cheaper than sending people up there in rotating shifts.

3. How do you get that stuff back to earth?

Either by producing the necessary fuels in situ and just fly it home, or drop it into the ocean with a specially developed air brake or parachute system. This is probably one of the more difficult issues with the mining process, but the tech is there for this already.

Aside from that, minerals in space would optimally be used to build things in space. The aim of space mining is to set up an infrastructure to allow building things in space. Hotels, ships, habitats and so on. This doesn't mean that minerals won't be sent back to earth, only that the majority will be used to make it cheaper to transport materials around between Space and Earth.

4. What about manpower?

The first round of mining will definitely be automated with minimal human input, guided robots most likely, so thats not much of an issue. however as space begins to develop I can envision massive amounts of jobs, both for scientific work, and labour jobs. Training I envision will be expensive at first, you are teaching people to do things no one has ever done, but as time goes on, the process improves with every iteration and it becomes easier and easier to do.

5. How long till all this is possible?

It's all, every single bit of it, from basic robots moving rocks on an asteroid to massive Island 3 habitats, possible right now, today in Space Year 2010. Why aren't we there yet would be your next question.

6. Well why aren't we there yet?

A number of reasons, prime would be that its not seen as profitable yet. In most peoples eyes Space seems like such an insanely expensive place to go. There's a million and one political reasons and also the fact that very few people really care about space development as a whole these days. The 70s where a big publicity stunt and thats pretty much how we view Space as a whole. Hopefully this will change as asteroid mining becomes more and more desirably with earth's resources slowly running out.

A huge issue is rising launch costs.  This issue disappears once you have the infrastructure in Space. But for now its the biggest stumbling block for space development. A lot of people seem to think launch costs will decrease once interest in space development picks up. We can only hope so.

7. What minerals could you get?

Quite a huge number of things actually, ranging from Oxygen, Water, and Hydrogen to Gold, Silver, Iron and Nickel.  So long as it doesn't rely on dead animals (like oil) you could probably find it somewhere in space.

The next lot of questions deal with space stations and colonisation. They tie into mining but are primarily about Humans living in Space.

8. Would station be small? Claustrophobic?

Probably not. It depends on what station we're in. Almost all stations we have designs/ideas for are built for human comfort while in space. The psychological aspects of space travel are well known and its important to make sure miners, builders or whoever are comfortable and happy while suspended 300 miles above the earth in the inky blackness of cold space. Stations could range anywhere from a small, house sized Asteroid base to Massive twin 10kM long cylinders.

9. How would you power it? No nuclear stuff in space remember?

Thorium reactors, maybe even Fusion if it exists at the time.  I like to only think about things we can build now though, so we'd likely power anything small with solar arrays (Solar power is alot better up there than it is here). Anything bigger and we have to use Thorium reactors paired with Solar. Waste isn't much of an issue in space as firing at the sun is an actual genuine way of dealing with waste up there. Heres an excellent video showing how great Thorium reactors can be. Eventually though, space development should push development of Hydrogen fuel sources, seeing how its very abundant up there.

As an aside, Thorium isn't really a nuclear material in the same way Uranium or Plutonium is. I can see media twisting it to look like such though. One of the future space races greatest allies will be a very well funded PR department.

10. How connected will we be with earth?

Point a dish in the right direction and you can have internet. Yes, you will be able to play xbox live in space. Which leads nicely to the next question

11. What would you do for fun?

Whatever you want! Space stations will all have areas of zero-gee, which I'm sure alot of people will have fun with. Other than that you'll be able to get satellite TV  and internet if you like. Being that you live in a space station with a massive abundance of minerals? I'm guessing entertainment will be aplenty to be honest. I once read a paper that said people would build space hot rods and have races around the cylinders and such. Sounds pretty dumb but there's nothing really stopping you.

12. Can it be self sustaining? How?

To begin with, any space endeavour is going to be very reliant on earth. For minerals, fuels, food, all kinds of supplies. But by the time we have O'Neil cylinders any space colony will be completely and utterly self sustaining. Massive solar arrays and endless supplies of hydrogen providing unlimited power to the station, hydroponics and solar reflectors used to grow all the food needed, water from recycled waste and processed asteroids, oxygen from the same place.. Not that import and export wont happen, but it certainly wouldn't be necessary at that point.

13. Would it be safe?

Yes. in short. The station would be built to withstand the micro asteroid impacts that occur frequently in space, with modular systems allowing the station to be sealed instantly if a breakage did occur.  massive impacts that could utterly wipe out the station would only occur once every 3000 years, and remember. This is a space station completely designed to mine asteroids. I have faith that future station dwellers will be able to deal with such a problem.

14. Isn't living in space really unhealthy? Lost bone mass an stuff?

Normally yes. If you go live in space without any kind of gravity then you're boned. However. All space stations are built around centripetal force. Thats the force that keeps stuff in a bag when you spin it around. In short it simulates gravity by pushing you to the outside of the station. This defeats any bone mass from living in zero gee.

This actually means you'd be healthier in space. Slightly lower than usual gravity, a regulated atmosphere and genetically optimised foods mean that you'd be able to lift more, run further and live longer that those pathetic Earthers.

15. Governments, Gangs, drugs, economics and social issues

I honestly don't know anything about these issues yet. I'm not a psychologist or an economist so I can only speculate on what would happen on the station in regards to these subjects, and I don't want to pretend to know stuff I don't. Sorry, I've failed you. Hari-kari here I come.

Thats just about all the questions I could find or come up with. Thanks again for everyone who helped out here and if you still have any concerns over this subject or aren't completely sold on the idea yet, usually I'd tell you to throw yourself off a space-train bridge but in case you didn't notice. I'm super passionate about this subject and actually love talking about it, unlike most of the subjects on this blog. I'm really just trying to get it across that space isnt this unattainable, useless goal that so many see it as today, so  leave a comment or send me an email with your question and I'll answer it, and I won't even call you a moron in the process.

Some links if you're interested in the subject

Mining the sky. A fantastic book on Asteroid Mining

An economical study of asteroid mining
A nice article about space stations

Book 10 - Flim Flam By James Randi

A short book detailing many examples of psychics, dowsers, mediums and countless others who claim to hold amazing abilities. And their intense failures.

Randi is known world wide as The Skeptic. Once a magician, he has turned his knowledge of misdirection and trickery to uncovering those who use such talents not for entertainment, but to claim mystical abilities. The book details some of Randi's bigger encounters, exposes some of the more prolific technquies used by these people and demonstrates Randis famous cash prize. Its a very interesting read at times.

The issues I had with it were twofold, the first isnt Randi's fault and I dont hold it against the book. The book was written a while ago. This comes through alot in the writing obviously and obviously all the targets he examines in the book are dated. This didnt detract from the book really, and was more just me being a dong.

Second though, Randi is not a writer. Some parts of the book were difficult to grasp at first scan and more than once it was hard to make out the meanings of his awkward sentences. This is still a minor issue, it doesn't come up much.

The exploration of the media's attitude toward mystics was pretty interesting, and all the more relivent these days with the New Age focus on things, and the media is still going on about mystics and Ghosts and so on.

A good read if you're interested in the subject, though I'd suggest seeking out a more recent book.

Facebook is bad for you

A good few years ago some guy invented a website called The Facebook. Originally only used by Harvard students as an alternative, online version of the old "face books" handed out by universities to help students get to know one another, it wasn't long before it was expanded to all universities. Pretty soon that expanded to just Everyone Ever. About 500 Million people are now on Facebook. What originally started as Facemash, a Hot or Not clone using hacked and stolen dorm ID pictures of Harvard students has become one of the most used websites on the planet. Predictably, this pisses me off.

You've all heard the privacy problems, heard about workers getting fired for having the wrong groups or saying some stupid things or posting dumb pictures, heard the stories about people losing jobs or even being straight out actually killed cause of Facebook. I'll save you the age old arguments there. I trust all of you are smart enough to not end up dead cause you left your address and working hours on Facebook along with a detailed description of the best and worst ways to break in.

The reason I really dislike Facebook is manifold, its censorship of critical subjects, lack of customer support and H-h-hilarious views on your right to not be sold like a Thai bride being just some of the many many issues that the site has. They seem like a decent place to start;

Censorship. That can't be right? Surely Facebook allows people to spread messages quicker and get news and ideas out into the open, why, just look at how many people join those petition and all the good they do (none). Well you're wrong, again, damn why do you even bother. you big stupid ape. In February 2010 Facebook deleted every group that had anything to do with the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. No reason was given  The groups were later restored and Facebook said it was "due to opposing members flagging the groups". In May they deleted the group for a radio station that posted some critical comments about Facebook and linked to an article about why Leo Laporte deleted his account. Small fries maybe, but there were no repercussions for this censorship, just as they wont be for any future ones. I realise Facebook is technically a private service and are allowed to do whatever they please, but deleting accounts cause they said mean things sounds almost so childish I can hardly believe it.

These articles highlight one fact that you should always remember. Facebook owns your ass, they own everything you post and everything you say. they own your address, email, real name and phone number. The can, do and will sell all of this to whoever has enough cash, they are in many ways a bigass mailing list. Course, what other mailing list lets you send your friends pokes and show everyone the pics of you getting mad wasted? As if that wasn't bad enough, Facebook boasts Paypal as a major shareholder. You may know of Paypal as the big online NotBank famous for screwing everyone and selling everyone's details all the god damn time. If you have no idea why an online NotBank having access to every bit of info about your life is a bad idea well I guess you're probably a happier person than me.

Facebook's customer service is non-existent. I can't really describe it in any other terms while maintaining my impeccable journalistic integrity. Much of its reporting facilities are automated and scripted. For example, imagine you stumble upon a profile that has nudity in the profile picture. You hit the report button on the page and file a complaint for nudity. What we'd like to imagine is that one of the administrators of the website has a look and decided what the best course of action is. Unfortunately that isn't always the case. There have been many many cases of people ebing banned for posting reports. This ban is automatic. This is just one of the nigh infinite ways you can be banned from Facebook.

Facebook's legal history is more that a bit murky too. There have been a handful of times when the website has been sued by others for intellectual copyright theft. I have yet to find strong evidence either way on this subject, but Facebook has never been cleared by law, only by out of court settlements, of which I am always weary of. I'm not saying here that all or any of those cases are true, but they warrant notice.

As one final note. Facebook has a very long history of being dishonest with its terms of service agreement. This is basically a contract you sign by using the service. A while ago there was a brouhaha about the terms when it was found that Facebook has the right to hold all of your stuff, forever, and do whatever they like with them. This started a large domino effect leading to the new "democratic" system they are implementing. There is, unsurprisingly, problems with that as well.

I'm not saying "Do Not Use Facebook". Though it may look that way cause I've just been a cock this whole article. All I'm asking is to think about what services you use. Facebook has many benefits, millions of people connect each day in ways that would be impossible otherwise. Just two weeks ago I helped my Granddad find some old guy he knew 60 years ago. Turned out the guy was dead but thats hardly the point. On the other hand (the massive, overused hand that we've been on this whole article) you only need look for a second before finding pages of complaints and disgruntled users. The question, I suppose, is "Is it worth it?" And the answer is No stop using that shitty site.


Book 9 - Towing Jehovah by James Morrow

God dies and the angels charge the captain of a supertanker with transporting the body to its tomb in the Arctic.

The first book in a trilogy concerning the aftermath of God's actual literal death. It mainly focuses on the voyage of the supertanker, carrying its massive cargo behind it through some pretty horrible and interesting situations. Regular readers will know this kind of strange and bizarre plot and concept is exactly what I love, I wasnt disappointed.

At every turn in the book the world seems to get more and more bizarre. From the strange appearing island made of human trash and an ex-pagan civilisation, to the World War 2 re-enactment society, hell-bent on the destruction of God's corpse. By the end it was almost too out there.

The book of course isn't really about some guys towing Gods corpse. its about what it means to be an atheist, what it means to be a Christian and why sometimes both of those are horrible things. Its about life in a world where religion is quickly becoming less and less relevant. It is, at its heart a satire of both sides of the argument.
The hardcore atheist characters in the book are painted with the same brush as The Vatican as single minded foolish characters. One main gripe I had with the book concerns these characters however, at times (alot) they come off as extreme straw-men, walking parodies of themselves. I'm aware that was sort of the point but it detracted from an otherwise well written satire.

The book isn't perfect, not even close. The writing is jumpy at times, sometimes making it hard to remember where people are, what they are doing and whoy. At times its silly, at others its far too serious about itself. But it does manage to entertain while also making you think about yourself and the world we live in.

Book 8 - Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card

Sequel to Ender's game, 3000 years after the events of the first book, Ender travels to a planet which is home to the Piggies, the first intelligent lifeforms humanity has found since the Xenocide.

The first Ender book is a hard sci-fi space war book, with mild philosophical musings on childhood, warfare and humanity. The sequel is the latter cranked up to 10. The story starts with Ender being called for to "Speak" the death of a Xenobologist on the planet Lustina. It explains that in the 3 millennia since Ender wiped out the Buggers, humanity has embraced their tale, wrote by ender himself, and have great sorrow for the actions of the past. Ender himself is hated almost universally. Almost everyone knows Ender must be dead by now though. Through this, a new quasi-religion has sprung up. It involves Speakers, men and women who come and learn about a recently dead person, then "Speak" for them, telling their life as they lived it, without trying to condemn or condone them.

Scott writes fantstically, creating characters that are at once flawed, broken people with tragedies and terrible lives, and at the same time wonderful, likeable even lovable. Ender himself is portrayed as both a master at the art of interaction and reading people, yet one of the most powerful parts in the book relate to him losing a dear friend, due to his misunderstanding.

The book muses on what Humanity is, what makes us human, why and how we hate each other and fear each other. It draws some interesting ideas and doesn't disappoint in taking them to their conclusion. I really enjoyed this book, more than I thought I'd enjoy it. I'm really enjoying the series as a whole and I suggest it to anyone looking for a good sci-fi story.

Book 7 - Confederacy of Dunces by John kennedy Tool

Absolute asshole, Ignatius, blunders through New Orleans, destroying lives and businesses as he goes.

I really am not one for the classics, I dont know what it is but you say something is a "classic" or part of the "canon" and it ends up being just a big let down. In a way thats what Confederacy was like for me. I'd read it was the funniest book ever written and I guess I didn't find the book VERY funny. There are moments in it that, once you spend a moment and visualise it, they are very funny, Ig as a character is a horrible bastard that you hate very soon, mostly because you probably know a Ignatius. he's the loud, obnoxious guy with "ideas" that will blow your mind. You know the one.

The characters are this books strong point. You probably know every single one of them in some way or another. The long suffering mother, the mothers harpy friends, the cynical business owner, etc etc. They all "feel" real. as does the city. New Orleans itself is the books main charcter and you really get a feel for the city itself.

It can be at times a bit of a slog but its a fairly fun read and I suggest you at least try it. If only to act superior to everyone else when they finally make the movie.

Space is the coolest thing

A while ago, I was discussing human achievement with a group of friends. I brought up space travel, in my mind, space travel is probably one of the greatest things mankind has done so far. Basically everyone else responded by asking "Where’s the point?" huh.

Well, I know a lot of people are just dumb as heck so I put it off. Until I slowly realized basically everyone has this exact same outlook "Where’s the point". This was, to say the least, slightly disheartening. I love space, its my passion. What the hell is wrong with you backwards bastards? Ok, let me start by squaring away that one issue that keeps arising "Where is the point". Little do you know but NASA is basically responsible, in some way, for almost every single device you will use today. Starting with the most obvious, your keyboard, Mouse and even your computer itself are all the result of research and development by NASA. If you make a phone call today, or browse the web on your phone or use a GPS to find the shops near you, NASA is to thank for that. Oh well someone would have made those eventually, No, no they wouldn't have and even if they did, at least ONE of the following important discoveries and technologies would have slipped past their dumb earth brains;

• Pacemakers

• Bar Codes

• Smoke detectors

• Almost everything in an ambulance

• Cordless electronic tools

• Memory cloth

• Fuckin' baby food

• Water purification

• Solar Energy

• Cancer detection

Most of the devices up there have probably saved thousands of lives in the time its taken me to write this. And that’s just a small smattering of the 30,000 or so by products of the space race. Man they must have spent tons of cash on that right? Wrong you moron. They spent less than 1% of the national budget of the US on developing all that shit. That’s less than 1 cent for every dollar an American makes.

Its probably one of the best industries too, all that tech creates jobs and income and taxes for people and the government. It’s estimated that for every $1 spent on NASA, the US gets $7 back in the form of new jobs and taxes from those jobs. I mean screw taxes but that’s one hell of a return.

And just for you guys out there that don't get motivated by silly shit like "World shattering inventions" and "Devices that save millions of lives" or "taxes" what about the fact that exploration is the single greatest thing humanity does that separates us from animals? Since the dawn of time we've had brave, stupid or just hungry and lost people finding new, incredible land then fucking it up forever. For me, that’s what space is about. For less money than you will spend today on the cost of the electricity to heat up your hot pockets, humanity is going into the dark, scary world outside of the safety of our planet in the name of exploration and finding out cool shit.

Now that we have THAT out of the way, lets talk about all the cool stuff you get out of space travel.

The big one is asteroid mining. Boring sounding I know but asteroid mining is, literally, something that could save the entire planet and introduce a new golden age of humanity. Ok maybe that’s a bit much but follow me here.

You know how in space movies everyone always has whatever they want? I mean apart from like, Mad Max or anything else set in GRIMDARK, resources in these places are infinite, enough to build space stations the size of moons, to send craft all over the universe, establish worlds and build fantastic machines. Guess what? We already have that shit a couple of miles above your head. Above you are approximately 450 big rocks full of gold, iron, copper and whatever other raw materials you can imagine. By rocks I mean one of the closer ones is 2.5km in circumference and is made of gold.

I shouldn't really have to say any more "Massive rock made of gold" is probably enough for most anyone, but I'm insane, crazy and drunk with power so I'll go on. As well as being a gangster rapper's dream, the solid gold asteroid also holds massive amounts of other, useful stuff like tin and iron, which can be used to build MORE space stuff. Yes you earth people can have some of it too, seeing how its much easier and cheaper to drop stuff to earth than bring it up to space.

This builds into the next stage, colonization of space. Naaah nems, that shit is futurewacky stuff. Costs trillions and we dont have the tech.....oh we DO have the tech? and you can build it completely with space materials? Welp I guess I'll shut my big strawman-mouth then. woop-doop-de-woop.

In closing. Space is so kickass all the shit I just talked about for a page or so is stuff within an hours flight away from Earth. I didn't even touch on the stuff that’s just plain "cool" that naysayers would say "has no applicable benefits for mankind". If there’s one thing you should take away from this, its that we live in a time where, if they wanted to, we could have everything I just described within a decade of work. The tech is there, the profits are all up there, all we need is someone with the cash and the personality to get it going.

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known. - Carl Sagan


P.S. just in case you were also thinking that cash has to be mountains of the stuff? I estimated that the whole project would cost less than $60 Billion. That sounds like a lot until you realize that the money you’d make back, and the jobs it would provide outdo that number tenfold.

Book 6 - Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

A timeless tale about the monster within us all, the perils of indulgence and friendship.

What can be said, its a classic. Its very very well written, perfectly paced and the characters are all fantastic people. For those who haven't read it, do so. Its not what you may think, the actual structure of the book is mostly the account of Jekyll's best friend, a lawyer named Utterson. One thing I found was that the book was still as thrilling and interesting today as it was when it was written.

While you all know the book is about the duality of human nature, I think one part of it that is missed is the way the book deal with friendship. Jekyll's friends are the ones telling the story for the most part and you get an intense feeling of love they have for their friend and the terrible fear they have for him when things start going wrong. Its not the main focus of the book, not even nearly, but its important enough that it made me think.

Read this, its only 100 pages or so and its famous literally because people who didn't read started reading because of this book.

Book 5 - Down and out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow

Immortal SuperFuture tale of intrigue set in Disney World.

This books premise is so nuts its difficult to actually type it. I'll do my best. It is THE FUTURE and people can now live forever via a bizarre cloning process that leaves you with whatever memories you had at the time of your last backup. The world has changed fundamentally and the book takes place in Disney World, now considered one of the greatest works of the 20th century. For some reason.

Superfuture in Disney land was enough for me to grab a free copy from the authors site, but it didn't live up to what it was aiming for. While I'm not pissed off at it or anything, it just felt like its messages and commentary on the human condition were a little empty. God knows it tries hard, but in the ocean of unexplained, difficult to understand concepts, and silly names, This book was basically a big pile of neat ideas (the idea that the currency in the world is based solely on what other people think of you) jumbled together into a silly plot that takes itself far too seriously.

At times I felt like I was missing something, like there was a big idea just under the layer I was reading at. There are parts of the book that are genuinely exciting, fun and thought provoking, so it succeeds there. I guess I was mostly annoyed that it didn't keep that up through the book.

Its free, so go look it up if you like the concept. Just be prepared for endless pages of flashbacks and the word Whuffie alot.

Book 1 - Flatland by Edwin Abbott

The idea of a book based completely in a 2D world where the main character is a square was...interesting to say the least. So I jumped on Project Gutenburg (the best website in the world for me right now) and grabbed it.

Good plan. This is such a fun read. The book's main point is to paint a satire of Victorian culture, something that becomes evident as soon as the book picks up a mallet labelled "Civil Rights" and starts beating your face (which is now labelled as "Oppression") until your brain flies out of your skull (which is now labelled hate or something i dunno this political cartoon joke died before I started to write it). The book literally refers to women as a single lines that are seen by every other shape as almost animals, but they have the ability to quite easily massacre everything in Flatland (cause they are the pointiest). Very good social commentary, if a little strong.

The visuals and concepts of higher dimensions are the main reasons I loved this book and they didn't disappoint, Every single chapter blows your brain with accurate ideas of how a 2D creature might "see". I couldn't possibly begin to explain most of it to you so I'll just say stop being an illiterate slob and go read it, its free cause its older than dirt but, like dirt, its deep, more complex than it seems and brown.


Book 2 - Inferno by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournell

Sci Fi writer finds himself in Dante's hell. Oh my.

I have a confession to make. I have never read all of Dante's inferno. Cause its boring as fuck. It's a book that requires a massive amount of footnotes and prefaces to ensure you know who the hell is talking and why. I'm sure at the time it was a rip roaring ride but I'm not an 14th century Italian. What I am is a 20th century nerd. So when I read about a book that starts with a sci-fi writer killing himself and ending up in the very same hell that Virgil walked, I thought Why not.

I don't feel right calling a book "pointless" cause I guess at their heart, alot of books are pointless. but this one doesn't even tell a new story. I guess the inclusion of a bunch of different characters from various times and places is kinda neat but, I dunno, could have been alot more creative. Theres no real message or criticism or anything, unless the author's self insert's constant ramblings to himself count. One main issue I had was that it leads you along for a very long time on two plot points that are both painfully obvious and played as if they are incredible mysteries.

I don't have much more to say about this, it was alight I suppose but I wouldn't recommend it unless you really like the idea.

Book 3 - Mass Effect: Revelation by Drew Karpyshyn

Prequel to Mass Effect, famous RPG, dialogue and alien sex sim.

My secert love of Halo books made me read this. I don't care what you bitchs say this book has a part where a giant rino alien uses magic powers to throw an APC 30 feet into the air so screw all of you. I really enjoyed this as a mindless, space military tie in. Its written functionally enough, got a decent enough plot, clears some issues you may have with the plot of the game and is just really fun to read. If you like Mass effect, you'll probably like this.

Book 4 - Hell is the Absence of God by Ted Chiang

Angels, God, Hell and Fallen Angels exist as real, frequent, and problematic as Tornadoes.

I kinda liked this book, the message of Humanities place in a world where the promises of angels and the like are actually met is really strong and even through the almost mechanical way its written there's a very dark sadness to the whole affair. The plot revolves around visitations from angels, which sometimes will heal you, sometimes result in your death from the effects of the angel. The people who see these angels hardly even care what the angels have to say, they just want to feel the magic light that surrounds him when he arrives or leaves.

If you can get past how utterly mind-numbingly boring its written, it's actually a really great read. short too so you can't complain about it. Theres far too much story and message and underlying plot for me to get into in these short reviews, but it is a solid experience.

Book review idea

So I just got a kindle and I love this thing so much that I've read about twice as much as I usually would in the last week or so. Its insane how much I'm reading now with this thing and its, undisputably, the best gadget I have owned this year. Unless they bring out Rocket boots very very soon, its probably gonna stay that way.

So I had an idea while browsing around for ideas for articles. I read about this one guy who had the bright idea of doing like 10000 movie reviews in one year, through twitter.

What a stupid asshole.

The problems with this seem obvious, only 140 charcters, and most of those will go to telling you what movie it is. No, bad plan. What I may do is try to read one book every 2 weeks and post a short (paragraph) review on here for every one of them. Going from the current date, that would mean I'd read about 12 books. Given I've already read 4 in the past few days, I expect to beat that pretty harshly. The question is will I stick with this idea to the end? Would anyone even be interested? Who knows. All I know is I read alot, I love talking about books and love suggesting them to everyone. I also read alot of werid stuff and think people might be interested in some of them.

This will not interupt usual "RAGHHH" posts, I have one in mind on how much no one gives a shit about space coming up, but I think it'll be nice and refreshing.

So what do you think, invisible, barely existent audience?


Excuses Excuses...

Hey gang

I realise there has been a bit of a drought of updates on here the past month or so, Reasoning is I was on vacation for a while, and now that I'm back, I just straight up havnt had any inspiration for anything and while I do love writing stuff on here, I'm very much aware of the fact that I have absolutly no readers, with that in mind I havnt really been trying very hard to come up with anything.

I'll have a think and come up with a couple topics, maybe flesh out some of the half written ones in the draft folder. Till then.


Exteremism and Stupidity, Younger than you'd think Pt.2: Wiccans Witchs and bears oh my!

So I pretty much dispise Wiccans. I know thats not much of a shock, given my virtol for the vast majority of people, but rarely does a group of people so encapsulate everything I see as wrong with the world. Wiccans manage to be, all at the same time, the worst parts of Christiantity, Veganism, Technophobia, Nostaligia and Hypocritics.

I'm going to talk about the origins of Neo-druids and wiccans, as they are very closely intertwned. That way when your lame fatass friend turns up talking about how much they love the "Godess within me" and how "pure" life used to be, you can laugh at them more than you usually would. As usual though, I wont give you everything. But enough to find out the rest easily.

Lets begin with how old wicca is. Wicca is often seen as an anchient religion, a closely guarded horde of magical secerts passed down through generations and in covens. Hell, they burned Witchs way back right? They were Wiccans I bet.

No dont be stupid why would I even use that subject if it was what you expected? I'm not gonna write a paragraph on how Wiccans have subpar bathing habbits either.Wicca, in and of itself, is about 60 years old, give or take. Yes 60. My Grandfather is older than these "secerts". I will concied one point to the Wiccans for having the Religious Leader most likley to play himself in a a movie about wizards:

Look at that fucking guy. If I showed you a picture and said "hey guess what this guy did" your answer would have to be either Gandalf or Wicca founder.

Thats Gerald Gardner by the way, Founder of Wicca. He claimed that, after spending a couple of his years traveling asia gwaping at the "magical" natives, he came home and was indoctrinated into a coven of anchient pagan witchs which no one else has been able to find. After this conversion he goes off and spreads this new "old" religion around like some kind of horrible, moldy butter (something I'm sure the Wiccans reading are able to picture very well, seeing how they likley just got finished eating a chunk of horrible moldy butter). 60 years later and that fat goth girl is telling you how much shes intouch with a vague, unexplained "godess" (completely leaving how the dualistic part of Wicca, there should be a God and a Godess and Doc Brown up there made up names and everythuing for them).

Now how old a religion is shouldnt make a differnce I guess. Its just as "valid" as one made 2000 years ago. At least it would be if it didnt pretend it was made 2000 years ago to add to the mystic, I guess. I mean for christ sake their 10 commandments are called the Wiccan Rede and are all written in friggin Ye Olde Englishe, their festivals are called Sabbats and they all dress like people who get turned away from Ren Faires for being "too into it".

Wicca is a bit like the English language, in that its a filthy, lying thief without an origanal idea in its head. The vast majority of Wiccan beliefs come from a guy called Alister Crowely, who you may know from a certain song by black sabbath. Basically he made up a whole lot of shit about magic and evil and darkness and was essencially the first dude to go "Hey, if I pretend to be deep and brooding and cool and dark, I get alot of sex!". So he set off on his white horse and became known as the "Most Evil Man Ever" Cowley is a pretty interesting guy I guess, but this isnt about him, only the madcap thing he helped spawn.

Everything else in Wicca has been pretty much made up as they go along, so much so that almost every "Coven" of Wiccans has VASTLY differing rules, ideas and belifs. It has one of the highest numbers of denominations in the entire world.

Their morality code is pretty much the funniest part of the whole thing. As I said earlier, its in Ye Olde, despite being written about the same time as Elvis was alive. It can be summed up as such "Do whatever, so long as no one gets hurt". If that sounds like something a 10 year old would write when making up his own totally rad religion, then congrats, you're not a wiccan. if those seemed like wise words of unfathomable meaning, go fuck yourself. you selfish little shit.

So in conclusion, Wicca is 50 years old, its rules are made up on the spot even to this day and its morality code is some simplistic bullshit with no real meaning. Tadaaa.

Interesting note on the fulidity of the ruleset of Wicca by the way, The Wiccan "Holy Book" is the Book of Shadows (yes really) and it was origanally invisioned that every single wiccan would copy a version of it down from their teacher, changing parts where they saw fit and basically producing billions of differnt texts. I actually love this idea, its utterly fantastic. Except they dont do it, every single copy of the book of shadows is exactly the same as the one Gardners' student copied down. Well done Wicca.

Exteremism and Stupidity, Younger than you'd think Pt.1: Islamic Extremism


I hear that from pretty much every news channel basically 24/7. So being the bright man I am I decided to find out exactly who these "terrorists" are and why they want to blow me up and steal my kids. And because I also like positive reenforcement from a buntch of annonymous internet people, I think I'll share my findings with you.

The Terrorists, as the news likes to refer to them, are, for now, Muslim exteremists, You know the kind, woman stoning hand cutting off bastards who steal our planes and kidnap news reporters and the like. You would be forgiven for assuming these guys have been around forever, really, thats fine, I did too. What might shock you is that they have been around for less than 70 years, by one or two guys. Just because I like making you guys work, I'll talk about the first guy, you guys can find the rest.

Sayyid Qutb was a critic at heart. Untill sometime in the 1950s he took a trip around the US, and, as critics are want to do, he got angry. He was angry at what he saw as an evil empire, where the people were corrupt and decadent, where the country itself was falling appart and spreading its influence as it did. This line of thinking happened to coincide with some of the darkest times in America's history so far, the war just ended an all, prohibition, rioting and so on.

Now this wouldnt be so bad if, at the time, the US wasnt the biggest guy around. I know today its similer, America is this huge giant that sort of blunders around, wrecking loads of shit, but back then the UN wasnt really a power, the world still thought in the terms of East v West. So Qutb declared his hate for the entire West, after seeing the US. He hated everything that came with the West, democracy, nationalism, but mostly what he saw as the decadence and commercialism.

So he says "Fuck that" and goes home to Egypt, only to find his world had already started changing into the west he so despised. And because he hated what his country had become and the goverment of egypt was "west friendly" to say the least, he was arrested. While in captivity he was also tortured. If its one thing life has taught me, its this: If you have some crazy guys that hate something, unless your name is O'Brien, Dont fucking torture them you idiot.

As it turns out, having your balls bitten off by a dog will do loads to radicalise a guy, so our man gets to work, writes a book called "Signposts" that attacks the government, accusing it of being unmuslim and explaining that, due to them being unmuslim, killing them is tops. The book painted the world in black and white, with Qutb as the Good guy and the west as the worst of the worst.

Sayyid gets out of jail, and a couple of years later is the head of a group know as the Muslim Brotherhood. in 1966 he was hung and died.

Unfortunatly, before that he taught someone called Dr Ayman Al-Zawahiri, who in turn taught everyone's favourite cave dweller, Osama Bin Laden.

I want to go on about hos Muslims are smart, and at one point where the one shining light of civilisation in the world during the Dark Ages, but I honestly dont know enough on that subject.

Next time we're gonna take a look at where those ancient gods of Wicca come from. Because I fucking hate wiccans.

I'm paying £3145 for alternative medicines

As most of you know, I go to Teesside university. I study a computing subject there. Most of my classes take place in the School of Computing, the single most underfunded part of the uni with the possible exception of the punching bag in the gym.

To give some of you an idea of how insanely underfunded my part of the uni is, let me try and explain how my uni is set up. We have a number of buildings, each of which has a "supposed" purpose. The Olympia is the lecture hall, with loads of lecture theatres and only a handful of work rooms. In reality pretty much every building is a General Purpose one, Except the bigass media building we have full to the brim with new and amazing technologies, a cafe, a couple thousand big screen TVs and what seems to be a quadrillion rooms filled with the most powerful computers my tuition can buy.

Now I'm not really complaining about this, the media and video games design portions are Teessides' specialities, its why we got the University of the Year this (or last) year. Yeah its kinda shit that my money goes toward stuff that I will never use and literally can't even enter the rooms containing the stuff, but whatevs, its computers and hardware and hurfffff.

No what I am pissed about is how much of my money goes toward 2 things; the "Therapy" stuff (that they also charge for) and the (lack of) facilities in the Students Union.

I think its pretty obvious that I'm not the kind of guy who believes in "alternative theropies" so, last week when an email arrived in my inbox happily telling me of the special offers on theorpy sessions in the Health area of the gym, I was not best pleased. I was so unpleased I even went out of my way to contact the people who run this stuff and ask about it. I hav't heard back from them. The Candle wax treatment must be fucking with their sense of hearing I guess.

Meanwhile, at the gym in the uni, you cant get a pair of punching gloves, the machines are damaged and there's very little support. Its insane. I've recently found we actually have an entire floor dedicated to this horrible shit. Why? What place does this have in the uni? Why am I paying for it? Why can't my money go toward something imporant?

Such as entertainment and proper usage of the Student union, for example. For those that don't know, the SU at Teesside is a bar. Its a small pub with a cafe and a cash machine and a small area where people harass me about joining Islam or the drama club or the anime club rejects bother me about their "pirate society". and theres a shop.

There is, however, a very very minimal amount of stuff for people who don't want to just drink all the god damn time. I get it, you guys are students, you want to have fun, whatever, thats cool. Theres some bars litterally 20 feet away from the uni. Knock yourselves out. But I can't hire a single part of the "Students Union" for the purposes of societies or clubs. The people at the students union (for example, the financial support) are completely useless and every thing else is aimed at sports. Which, I suppose, brings me to another point.

Sports. Hey guys, do you like sports? No? Well fuck you. We have no less than 2 sports buildings, 3 if you count the several outdoor football pitches we have. These buildings contain tons of shit that is sololy used by sports students or the "ELITE ATHLETES" program people. Just a heads up, nothing against you guys. You guys are the most helpful people in the world in the gyma nd I apperciate all your help and admire your abilities but hey maybe instead of another football pitch we can have a vending machine in the SCM building yeah?

Could be worse I guess. I could be a drama student here.

Kremploch tournament went well.

If you believe this barbaric sport can go "well" at all.

Another year another Kremploch tournament over.Thanks to my village's champion wining we're allowed internet for the next couple days. Courtesy of the Black Sails. Let me ask you something. Am I the only one who is getting sick of seeing our nations athletes cut up?

2 score and 2 years ago, my farther came to this village with a desire to farm, raise some sheep and adhere the the great one's almighty plan. We fled the battles of the Black Sails and began a simpler life here in Britain. what we did not expect was Kremploch.

And I am sick of it.

Zarr'thx lying to us again!.

I told you this would happen.

Looks like Zart'thx is fucking us again people. last year he promised to keep trade routes with the alpha quadrant open, you may remember his rousing speech on Titan. The one where he promised the take over was "temporary" and "for your own good". Well back then I said he was a liar and now I'm proven right.

Yes today the great galactic commander and conquer of a million suns has locked us in a space field. What the fuck is that? How does he get off on this bullshit?

According to his press release:
"Today I have decided to close all contact with the rest of the galaxy. This includes the Alpha Quadrant. I realise that this may upset some of you but I assure you it is best for you in the Beta Quadrant."

Now where the hell are we supposed to get our supply of Karlank materials to power our Flack drives? Not that it matters I supposed, now that we're all trapped on this worthless hole of a space.

Its time to fight back people. I'm sick of this Reptiles shit. I told you all that his entire race were a group of intergalactic locusts, and it looks like someone in Alpha agreed with me, and now we're all alone, no army, no Karlank materials, no Coca Cola. I hope you're happy with yourself Urth.

I hope you're happy with yourself.

Easter Bunny Flowers.

Today I'm going to walk you through how to create your very own perfectly arranges bunny themed Easter flower pot.

First start with the container. I used a simple basket but you could you practically anything.Then take some floral foam and some water. Pour the water directly onto the foam. Now you are ready to begin arranging. I've used tulips and a bundle of lime stems here, neatly decorated by some free range eggs. I've also got some daffodils in there and some reindeer moss.

For the rabbits you can kill and stuff a real rabbit for the best effect. I recommend a bow and arrow or slingshot for the hunt, as it will do much less damage than a rifle shot. After you have the dead creature, I highly suggest taking it to a taxidermy. If you can not afford this however, thats ok. Simply take 3 handfuls of sawdust and begin inserting it into the corpse via any orifice.

And now you have your own Easter themed basket! Congratulations!.

How the Pirates Stole Christmas

A good couple years ago I used to know some people who were involved in the whole, internet downloading scene. The guy I knew was pretty low down but through him (and since him, through my own research and interest in the subject) I have gained a fairly decent image of how your Handicam version of Avatar gets to you. I've asked a couple people and they said an article about this would be interesting, so in the interest of pandering to the 2 people who read my blarrrgh, here’s some info about some pretty rad guys.

I'd just like to preface this by saying most of the info within (if not all by now) is easily found on the net. Despite some myths and what you may first thing, the scene is fairly open and transparent.

The Scene has been around for as long as there have been ways to distribute digital information to and from people. With odd naming schemes and bizarre collections of rules and regulations they can seem a scary, sometimes evil group of shady people, out to ruin movies and music for us all.In order to really understand what the scene is and what it does we're going to go back to the 1980s. It was here that the beginnings of what would become the scene formed. Groups of young talented coders would crack the security on games and later applications; upload them to a BBS (a primitive version of a web forum) for all to download for free.

At the time there were no rules and no real information for anyone outside of the scene, only the included nfo file (an antiquated file type that is underused now, but is still used for traditional reasons in the scene), which often included stunning ASCII artwork. Also routinely included would be midi files or artwork.It was a much more innocent time, games and apps were traded freely, there was no formal structure and groups ran wild. Slowly however the scene became more organized, rules were drafted and eventually hard Communities were established. Essentially there is one community per "thing" you can imagine downloading, from the Scanner groups, uploading comic pages, to Movie groups. Each community has its own set of rules and regulations both to protect them and to ensure quality releases. As bizarre as it may seem there actually exists committees and tribunals for the sole purpose of working out these rules and declaring releases good or "nuked" (Nuked meaning its trash or breaks one of the rules somehow).

Eventually of course the scene caught the eye of the FBI and other law enforcement and in a series of devastating raids was cut down. Many of the more prominent groups were targeted and taken out. People being People though, the scene quickly grew back to its original size and then some, however the scars from those raids still show, with the scene being much more secretive now than it used to be.

UPDATE: I'll just add everything here, its not a very long update so no point adding another post when there's no point.

Now, the scene is actually also split up into different mediums too. Most of the higher up groups belong to what they see as the true Scene, a series of secert high speed websites (known as TopSites) where files are uploaded and downloaded on a kind of novel credits system, where every megabyte you uploaded allows you to download 3.

"below" these are a series of less elitist groups, refereed to usually as P2P groups, due to the medium of their releases. Occasionally a group will be found of either leaking Scene releases to the P2P groups or even copying releases wholesale. This usually results in humiliation for the group in question. Why a group would leak something varies from group to group, it can range from simply not agreeing with the Scene rules to antagonism between groups.

There are other, less well understood and published groups, such as groups that post only to Rapidshare and the like. These fit somewhere in the P2P groups depending on who you ask.

As you can see, the medium that you download with is tied to where you stand on the hierarchy, with P2P being the worst and the elite TopSites being the best. Your average downloader will never see a TopSite their entire life (I certainly haven't, only in screenshots) and will probably not even know they exist. This ties in with the community, allowing those on the inside to (at least feel) they are superior to others.

And thats pretty much all I can think of writing. If you have any more questions I'll try and answer them in the comments.

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