Blog Posts

Then we danced the dance ’til the menace got out

Positively pleased with my new Synology DS220+ NAS. Last week, part of my old NAS, a WD My Book Live, was remotely wiped. WD’s solution is to tell users to disconnect until they investigated the issue. It was clearly too late for me and I was worried that the other…

Madness!

It’s beyond question that Boris/Al and his ministers just aren’t up to the job of leading the UK in this crisis. Again and again they’ve avoided properly forward planning and left it too late when inevitable actions have to be taken. It’s time for them to go. Boris must resign….

Swamp Thing

I’ve always had a soft spot for DC Comics’ muck monster, Swamp Thing. When I was a kid, there was a newsagents in Bryant Road in Strood where they had a spinner rack full of American comics for sale. I’d buy comics on the way home from school. It was…

The Goalkeeper’s Revenge and Other Reminiscences of English

This morning I was talking with Alice about my experiences of school. We’d been swapping anecdotes about childhood as you do when you get older and try to discern some sort of pattern in those early years that led to where you end up as an adult. It’s all a…

Alas, Apple Watch I knew you well

At the end of June my Apple Watch stopped charging. I took it off and forgot to charge it for a couple of days and found that it just wouldn’t turn on – even after charging overnight and swapping cables and plugs. Up until then it’d worked fine. I tried…

Intellivision Summer

Back in 1983 my mum rented an Intellivision games console from Radio Rentals. She couldn’t afford to buy a console so she added it to the colour tv she rented. I actually wanted an Atari 2600 at the time but that wasn’t available from Radio Rentals. Some of the kids…

Edgar Rice Burrough’s John Carter of Mars

I’m currently working my way through Edgar Rice Burrough’s Barsoom series of pulp adventure novels. A Princess of Mars, the first of the series, was a surprisingly enjoyable romp reminding me of a mix of Gulliver’s Travels, Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. While I’ve always been aware of John Carter,…

Back to the Back of a Block-rocking Comic Book!

One of my monthly pleasures before Lockdown was to scan the pages of Previews, the catalogue that would announce upcoming comic book and graphic novel releases. Things have changed since March: lots of titles have been cancelled (some creators have been cancelled, too, but that’s a whole different matter) and…

Room at the Top

After I was born my mother took me home from hospital to a small rented attic room at the top of a Victorian house in Rochester. We walked past the house today and I pointed it out to Alice and Soren. “That’s where I lived as a baby,” I told…

Florian Schneider, “sonic perfectionist”

This month’s Electronic Sound has a heartwarming tribute to the enigmatic Florian Schneider, who died earlier this year. The piece, by Stephen Dalton, gives an excellent account of Schneider’s role in Kraftwerk. It’s particularly good in establishing the nature of the tensions between Schneider and Ralf Hütter that eventually led…

"a furball coughed up by a supervillain’s cat"

Frankie Boyle on the British government: Boris Johnson, flapping about like a poorly-tethered bouncy castle, is supposed to serve as a distraction, a furball coughed up by a supervillain’s cat. He isn’t supposed to actually lead us through anything. We have a government that has no interest in governing up…

“this weird thing of hyper-normalness”

Mark Fisher in an old interview: “What we have got with this digital culture now is this weird thing of hyper-ordinariness. You have got people who are done up to the nines but it isn’t like David Bowie where you are playing with some abstract aestheticisation. We have got people…

Discover, with a deflating quotidian horror

Mark Fisher on Doctor Who: “To look at the old Doctor; Who is not only to fail to recover a lost moment; it is to discover, with a deflating quotidian horror, that this moment never existed in the first place. An experience of awe and wonder dissolves into a pile…

micro.blog

As much as I’m enjoying the Twin Peaks anniversary stuff, UK-based newspapers seem to have forgotten – or decided it wasn’t important – that those of us in UK didn’t see the first episode until October. By then the big reveals were already being spoiled…

Surely it’s time to start imagining something better.

Frankie Boyle: Did you ever wonder what you’d be doing during an apocalypse? Indeed, you have to wonder if the virus is so very different from extractive capitalism. It commandeers the manufacturing elements of its hosts, gets them to make stuff for it; kills a fair few, but not enough…

micro.blog

May 29th. Bioshock Trilogy. Switch. I will be returning to Rapture!

"This coronavirus reminds us that we belong to the material world."

George Monbiot on the Covid-19 wake-up call: …this could be the moment when we begin to see ourselves, once more, as governed by biology and physics, and dependent on a habitable planet. Never again should we listen to the liars and the deniers. Never again should we allow a comforting…

Boris “seemed to have totally lost the plot”

Jim Crace excellent political sketch on Boris and the boys’ performance: It’s not just Boris Johnson’s fundamental lack of plausibility that is the problem. At Thursday evening’s daily Downing Street press conference, he seemed to have totally lost the plot. After a few days of trying to do “serious face”…

Why we’ve not had more female Robins

Knowledgeable piece about Robin and – correctly – asking why there are so few female Robins: Why we’ve not had more female Robins – or better served ones – is a symptom of a much wider problem. Of the 11 writers announced as contributing to DC’s upcoming anniversary issue for…

“If the government wants schools to stay open, we need far more support”

Heartfelt piece by headteacher Jules White in today’s Guardian Schools need more cleaners to complete regular hygiene work and deep cleans if there is a short-term closure. So give us access to agencies who must prioritise schools… Sats tests in primary schools should be abandoned in the current circumstances. We…

“a dangerous British trait”

Nesrine Malik argues that the British government’s exceptionalist approach to the Covid-19 crisis should be scrutinised and not simply followed because of British deference: It is a dangerous British trait to fall obediently into line behind those in power when things are uncertain. When the chips are down, a class…

“opportunity to build a more robust society”

Farhad Manjoo in the New York Times suggests that the Coronavirus pandemic could lead to fixes to society: “As the coronavirus spiders across the planet, I’ve been thinking about the illness as a very expensive stress test for the global order — an acute, out-of-nowhere shock that is putting pressure…

Grinding to a Halt

Educational Inequality. Fiona Miller in The Guardian: The process of narrowing gaps in educational attainment due to class background is grinding to a halt and will now take 560 years to close, according to the Education Policy Institute

Fear is an immunosuppressant

Gordon White on the Covid-19 virus: Fear is an immunosuppressant. Sleep and fasting and cutting out alcohol and regular exercise and daily meditation and low carb/high protein all upregulate the immune system. And you can do them now. Like, right now. But that’s less entertaining, isn’t it? It means you…

Cultural Capital: “Slippery and Complex”

Another excellent piece by Barbara Bleiman. Here, she challenges the current interest in teaching “cultural capital”. For Bleiman, it’s a complex thing that – as she shows – is difficult to pin down: cultural knowledge is almost without limit, that you can’t teach it all, that it depends on which…

Teaching a novel using the “Just Reading’ approach

Andrew McCallum discusses the “Just Reading” approach to studying a novel at KS3 and what makes a challenging novel “Meaning reveals itself gradually over an extended period of time, requiring readers to constantly think back, puzzle, make predictions, make connections, ask questions, and even change their minds. It makes sense…

Comics I Read, January

Looking back on the month, it seems like I’ve read very few comics. It works out at an issue a day roughly. In my head I seem to read much more than this. I started the month reading back over Flash: Rebirth, Flashpoint, The Button and DC Universe: Rebirth. This…

Force fields explorer racing home the ancient star

SALLY SALT: Who are you really? Baron Munchausen isn’t real. He’s only in stories.BARON MUNCHAUSEN: Go away! I’m trying to die. SALLY: Why?BARON: Because I’m tired of the world. And the world is evidently tired of me.SALLY: But why? Why?BARON: Because it’s all logic and reason now. Science. Progress. Laws…

Old man don’t lay so still, you’re not yet young

Back to work after my surgery. I’d expected pain at some point during the day… but nothing. I guess I’ve moved beyond feeble stage now. We watched the first episode of Succession, the HBO drama. Incredibly engaging (though every time we saw Brian Cox, I couldn’t get Bob Servant out…

Chronic town, poster torn, reaping wheel

Jan had me up at 5am and the day didn’t seem to get any better. I made the mistake of taking him down slides at a children’s play centre and antagonising my wound. Foolish.

He’s cooking in the woods, a brush fire in your neck

Today I’ve been thinking about a couple of environmental articles I’ve read. Both present a similar viewpoint: individual changes to consumption or recycling won’t impact the environmental crisis the planet is facing. The first, I work in the environmental movement. I don’t care if you recycle. by Mary Anaise Heglar,…

I will hide and you will hide And we shall hide together here

Another day recovering. Better than yesterday where my wound hurt every time I moved and throbbed continually through the day. I forget that when you are “ill” or “recovering” that’s what you’re actually doing. Last week I imagined I could recuperate by reading and writing, popping out a little. In…

This is some parade, yesiree Bob

Magazine reading. I subscribe to Wire magazine and it’s great to see the main feature is about Wire and their new album. Also read some tech magazines… but the less said about this nerdish preoccupation, the better. Very sore after my walk out yesterday. Surely I didn’t overdo it just…

In the light I saw quite a scene in there

Much better day today. I’ve even been able to have a shower and change my dressing. I even managed to leave the house for a short time but I fear I may have been a little premature. A chunk of my time today has been listening to music and, inevitably,…

The map that you painted didn’t seem real

Feeling a little more human today though I’m still finding it hard to stand up and move about. What’s definitely better is that I’m not feeling so exhausted. Apart from sitting around waiting for my wound to heal to a point that I can actually do things, I’ve spent today…

Caught like flies, preserved for tomorrow’s jewelry, again

So… I’ve not been out the house since Wednesday and I got back from hospital. Can’t say the pain in my abdomen’s improved at all. Much of the day I’ve either been reading or finished watching the first season of The X-files. Alice is doing everything – even though she’s…

The ocean sang, the conversation’s dimmed

I’m still immobile from my operation. Watched Apocalypse Cow, George Monbiot’s recent documentary about the impact of livestock farming on the planet. Monbiot’s excellent at stripping away the falsehoods and misconceptions surrounding agriculture. At the start he presents a model in which he shows how livestock dominates Britain (something like…

Speaking in tongues, it’s worth a broken lip

Recovering from surgery at home. While I’m not in pain, I’m far more sore than I was yesterday. I think I was lulled into a false sense of being mobile yesterday. It’s quite difficult to get up and hobble about the house and uncomfortable sitting on the sofa. There’s a…

Wrap your heel in bones of steel. Turn the leg, a twist of color.

During my stay overnight in hospital I watchd Martin’s Close, the BBC adaptation of M.R. James’ ghost story. It captures the tone of the short story, the trial of a young country squire who had murdered an “innocent” woman excellently. The layers of narrative: the story-teller, the trial, the flashbacks…

Stickheads jumping off the ground

I’m having surgery today on my abdomen. Nothing major: just a little operation to keep my lower intestines in ship shape! This is a before and after blog post. Before. Hungry. I haven’t eaten or had anything to drink since yesterday. I don’t usually eat very much in the mornings…

A magic kingdom, open-armed, Greet us hello, bravo, name in lights

Just read Drive by S.A. Corey. It’s a SF short story set in The Expanse universe (I’m intending to read all the stories, novellas and novels over the next month). It’s a straightforward story – about Solomon Epstein, the inventor of an engine that allows fast spaceflight and his first…

A philanderer’s tie, a murderer’s shoe

I’ve successfully avoided seeing Rise of Skywalker at the cinema. After the mediocre Force Awakens and the positively insulting Last Jedi, I know it’s not for me and I count Episodes VII-IX is an Elseworlds in my personal Star Wars universe. It sounds ridiculous (and trivial). And, of course, it…

There’s a splinter in your eye and it reads “react”

Appropriately, during “Veganuary”, ethical veganism has been recognised by British courts as a philosophical belief and is protected under law against discrimination. Hopefully, this ruling will help Jordi Casamitjana’s unfair dismissal legal action. I’m not sure what I think of the term ethical vegan, though. As a vegan without the…

My pockets are out and running about and barking in the street

Fairly productive day overshadowed by the killing of Qassem Suleimani. Much brighter day. The local council seem to have abandoned their responsibility in cleaning streets and the pavement outside out how has been carpeted with wet, decomposing leaves for months. Of course, we pay taxes for the council to encourage…