Monthly archives: November 2010

links for 2010-11-30 1

  • Warner Bros. had half the right idea with their Buffy the Vampire Slayer remake. It's about time somebody picked up the baton Joss Whedon dropped seven freaking years ago. But we don't need more Buffy, just more heroes like her.
  • Here it is. All summed up. You needn’t look further. I’ve been investigating Star Trek for decades, I own all the episodes, all the series, the movies and cartoons, and even wrote a STAR Trek TOS OGN for IDW that nearly won a JSA, and I’ve got it all down to a science. Now, I present to you…
  • Two kings of speed – father and son Sir Malcolm and Donald Campbell – have been commemorated with a single blue plaque in London.

    English Heritage unveiled the monument at Canbury School, Kingston-upon-Thames, their former home. Malcolm Campbell is connected to numerous London addresses but the substantial nineteenth century detached house on Kingston Hill is the only home where both he and his son can be commemorated together.

    (tags: history)

links for 2010-11-29

  • As part of a tuning package for the Rolls-Royce Phantom, Russian tuner Dartz (they of the whale penis interior) replaced the storied "Spirit of Ecstasy" hood ornament with a couple engaged in sexual relations. It's dubbed the "Spirit of Xtasy."
    (tags: silly russia)
  • A set of papers belonging to Bletchley Park codebreaker Alan Turing were put up for auction today but failed to reach their reserve price.

    Campaigners had launched an appeal fund to buy the papers and keep them in the UK amid fears they would be snapped up by a foreign buyer.

    The campaign fund was boosted by a $100,000 donation from Google but the total fund reached only £73k – well short of the expected price of £300,000 to £500,000.

  • A neglected Edwardian bathhouse has undergone a stunning £9m transformation.

    Bathers once flocked to enjoy the waters at Harpurhey Baths. But the Grade II-listed pool has suffered years of decay and has been boarded up for the last decade.

    It has now been given new life as a classroom and drama hall for students at the neighbouring Manchester College

  • A killer has claimed he became a gun-for-hire because he couldn’t ‘make a living’. Simeon Henderson has admitted the murder of Nasar Hussain, a 30-year-old shopworker killed with a sub-machine gun at Brookhouse Wines, Eccles, in July last year.

    The shooting was one of three Henderson claims he was asked to carry out by businessmen with links to crime. He alleges that a number of other men were involved in the murder.

    Four of them – Mohammed Hafiz, Ryan Manning, Arfan Rafiq and Akmal Afzal – deny all charges against them in a Manchester Crown Court trial.

  • If only western Christians could rediscover Augustine, and see that our whole sexual ethics is based on a man who was more scared of his plonker than he was of talking like one, and who wished he could work it like a finger puppet. Maybe we could clear away some of these obsessive regulations and get back to basics.
  • Two men wearing wetsuits have been arrested on suspicion of drug smuggling offences after being pulled out of a river in Essex.

    Police said the pair were reported to be in the River Stour, off Parkestone Quay, Harwich, near to the ferry Stena Britannica at about 0600 GMT.

    The two were pulled out on the Felixstowe side of the quay and taken to hospital for checks.

    Three other men found nearby in a vehicle were later arrested.

    All five have been arrested on suspicion of drug offences.

    (tags: crime)
  • Howard Flight and Lord Young have joined a long list of people who have realised that there are some things you can't say. So when and why is an utterance likely to get you in trouble?

    We have come to learn as either public or private individuals that there are certain situations that mean careful self-censorship is required.

    For all the talk of freedom of speech in liberal democracies, poorly chosen comments can end careers, lead to arrest, or just cause offence and embarrassment. So what are the unwritten rules and regulations of speech?

  • The police are seeking powers to shut down websites deemed to be engaged in "criminal" activity.

    The Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) has tabled a plan for Nominet, which oversees .uk web addresses, to be given the domain closing power.

    Nominet said the idea was only a proposal and invited people to join the debate on the form of the final policy.

    IT lawyers said the proposal would be "worrying" if it led to websites going offline without judicial oversight.

  • This year is heading to be the hottest or second hottest on record, according to the Met Office.

    It says the past 12 months are the warmest recorded by Nasa, and are second in the UK data set, HadCRUT3.

    The Met Office says it is very confident that man-made global warming is forcing up temperatures.

    Until now, the hottest year on record has been 1998, when temperatures were pushed up by a strong El Nino – a warming event in the Pacific.

Timularo (The Complete Timulo) By D’Israeli D’Emon Draughtsman

Matt Brooker, AKA D’Israeli, has collected his Timulo strips from Deadline, added other work featuring the character and released it as a collection called Timularo.

Remember Deadline magazine? Remember that weird strip with the writing round the edge of the page? That’s Timulo. When glum Esperantist Mateo Timulo quits reality and goes off to live in a world of his own, he isn’t prepared for the complications that follow. First he’s abandoned by his male power fantasy, Mark E D’Sade, then he finds himself stalked by those cubist Yuppie nightmares, The Nietzche Bros. And as for D’Israeli, necromancer, polymath, and zombie of England’s greatest statesman, just whose side is he on? Collecting the entire run of Timulo, the 1998 sequel Consequences, and more than 20 pages of previously unseen material, Timularo is wilder than a bucketful of killer haddock, and stranger than even the enigmatic Curse of Kong… 168 pages, black & white.

Damn you D’Emon! I’m supposed to be clearing my bookshelves!

Satan Meat! 8

There are a number of good reasons why this country should no longer allow halal and kosher butchery of animals. Johann Hari wrote a detailed piece on them recently.

However, this is not a valid reason

Halal meat is meat from animals which have been slaughtered and ritually sacrificed to Satan* in accordance with islamic practice.

I don’t do Satan meat!

[* The god of the followers of Mohammed as presented in the Koran and known as ‘Allah’ is not the one true God YHWH but is actually Satan.]

Yes, it’s Richard Carvath, Salford funny mentalist, being an uninformed bigot again.

I’d sign a petition calling for the stunning of all animals before they’re slaughtered- effectively banning the objectionable part of halal and kosher butchery, but not their right to pray to their chosen version of God over the dead animal- but it seems that everyone who puts one up forgets about the Jewish practice and is concentrating on being anti-Islam not pro-animal rights.

links for 2010-11-26

  • For the first time, a NASA probe has captured direct evidence of an oxygen atmosphere on a world other than Earth. The Cassini-Huygens mission, which is currently whizzing past Saturn, has found that the ringed planet's moon Rhea has an extremely thin atmosphere of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

    It's thought that the atmosphere is sustained not by life, as on Earth, but by high energy particles bombarding the icy surface of the moon and kicking up particles. The density of oxygen is about 5 trillion times less dense than Earth's atmosphere, but the discovery is significant nonetheless, because if it's happening on Rhea, then it's likely to be happening elsewhere.

    (tags: space)
  • Sometimes inspiration comes from the strangest of places. Case in point: scientists have just created a new super strong material based on the plaque found in Alzheimer’s patients’ brains. The new substance isn’t exactly the same as the plaque that causes the tragic disease, but it has a very similar chemical structure that is then coated with an additional protective layer. The tiny spheres that result are microscopic and when put together, form a printable substance that is tougher than steel, twice as tough as Kevlar and the hardest microscopic organic substance on Earth.

Dear sir or madam, would you read my book? It took me years to write, would you take a look

Dear sir or madam, would you read my book? It took me years to write, won't you take a look

Eleven copies of Sounds of Soldiers arrived on Wednesday. I am a paperback writer. The copy on the back cover is much too big- I’ll do a revision to change that at some point- but I’m happy with the rest of the package. You can buy the paperback from or you can get a signed copy direct from me for the same price. See the ordering details below. Most of this batch is earmarked already, so I’m initially only offering two. Be quick if you want your signed copy. (More signed copies will be available in the future, never fear.)

The Sounds of Soldiers cover competition is cancelled

Due to poor take up the competition to win the original cover art from Sounds of Soldiers has been cancelled. I shall be using the artwork to generate publicity in other ways, if I can, but this one just wasn’t working.

You can buy Sounds of Soldiers as a paperback or pdf download from or for Amazon’s Kindle ebook reader from Amazon UK or Amazon US.

links for 2010-11-23

  • Afghanistan and other recent armed conflicts have increased the role of sniping, and the rise of organized crime and terrorism has set the authorities thinking about the police aspect of it. Due to this fact it is an opportunity to have a look at what weaponry the Russian snipers have at their disposal.
    (tags: weapons)
  • The cameras also recorded the road position and behaviour of the cyclists – including head checks, reactions and manoeuvres. The aim was to identify risk factors for both cyclists and motorists.

    In 88.9% of cases, the cyclist had been travelling in a safe/legal manner prior to the collision/near miss. Most happened at or near a junction (70.3%) and most were caused by sudden lane changes by the motorist, with sideswipe the most frequent cause (40.7%).

    The motorist was judged at fault in the majority of events (87%), and 83.3% of drivers didn't realise the danger they had put the cyclist in – or at least didn't show any reaction. Riders who frequently looked over their shoulders to check for other traffic were the most successful at avoiding collisions.

    (tags: cycling roads)


Hack/Slash is not the same idea as the story I’m currently considering, but it comes from a similar place. I knew somebody had to have done something like this.

Hack/Slash is an ongoing comic books series, launched from several one shots of the same name, published by Devil’s Due Publishing that has also been adapted into a stage play and a feature film.

The series, starting as a series of one-shots, was created by writer and sometime penciller Tim Seeley.

The focus of the series is on a horror victim, Cassie, who strikes back at the monsters, known as “slashers”, with Vlad, a disfigured “gentle giant” who frequently wears a gas mask.

Buy Hack/Slash collections at Amazon

links for 2010-11-22

  • At first glance, the [Getting Creative Things Done] system seems obvious. “Block out time on my calendar for big projects,” you might think. “I've tried that.”

    Creative work, however, is a subtle affair. If your mind is not in the exact right state, it’s difficult to produce high-quality results. Because of this, details matter. This is what’s important about GCTD, not the general idea of blocking out time, but the carefully-calibrated details that accompany it: the blocks are treated like real appointments and are dedicated to only one (or, at most, two) projects in a week; absolutely zero interruptions are allowed during the blocks; and the focus is on process, not goals.

    These little things add up to a system that consistently produces the types of ambitious results that, as Graham puts it, are “at the limits of your capacity.” The type of results that can make you a star.

  • [India's] National Library has always been reputed to haunted. Now, here is a really eerie secret. A mysterious room has been discovered in the 250-year-old building a room that no one knew about and no one can enter because it seems to have no opening of kind, not even trapdoors.

    The chamber has lain untouched for over two centuries. Wonder what secrets it holds. The archaeologists who discovered it have no clue either, their theories range from a torture chamber, or a sealed tomb for an unfortunate soul or the most favoured of all a treasure room. Some say they wouldn't be surprised if both skeletons and jewels tumble out of the secret room.

  • Effective rodent control requires a very specific kind of spatial knowledge, Sullivan suggests, one that often eludes architects and city planners.

    Sullivan quotes one rat-control professional, for instance, who "foresees a day when he will be hired to analyze a building's weaknesses, vis-à-vis pests and rodents… 'They design buildings to support pigeons and for infiltration by rodents because they don't think about it. Grand Central Station, right? They just renovated it, right? Who knows what they spend on that, right? You know how much they spend on pest control? You know how much they budgeted? Nothing. I did all the extra work there, but they had to pay us out of the emergency budget.'"

    Pest control here becomes an explicitly architectural problem, something you can design both for and against. Imagine an entire degree program in infestation-resistant urban design.


As research for a story idea (which, if written, I’ll probably be releasing under a pseudonym, though it may be as transparent as Gareth Pattinson) I’ve seen the legend of the Cropsey (or Kropsy) Maniac cited as inspiration for more than one story. Amongst these films, and one which I watched last night, is The Burning a by-the-numbers but entertaining summer camp slasher which actually calls its killer Cropsy.

The film Cropsey is a documentary about the legend and how it collided with reality in a bunch of child disappearances on Staten Island. The film’s website has more information. I can’t find any other mentions of the legend online except in relation to the film- here’s the Wikipedia article about it– which seems a little odd.