Showing posts from November, 2010


Telephone calls are shit. There's nothing wrong with phones themselves especially now you can use them to play games, take photos, access the internet, send email, mix music, edit images, watch films and listen to albums. The main problem is that you can still make calls on them. Or rather, the main problem is that you can still receive calls. Of course even this wouldn't be a problem if other people didn't insist on calling you. But they do. The bastards. From the beginning of recorded history until the late nineteenth century human communication fell into two broad categories; speech and written. Speech is the oldest and most comprehensive of the historical communication methods. When speaking you communicate with another human being face to face in person and are able to view and interpret non-verbal signals as well as the verbal ones. Anyone who has ever been on a staff development course of any description will no doubt have come across the old adage that d

The Sceptic Experiment

One of the criticisms levelled at vociferous atheists is that often they're just as bad as the godbotherers they're bashing, that science itself is as much of a "religion" as hard-core Islam or bible-belt Baptist. This is untrue and unfair. Whilst I don't define myself as an atheist (there are plenty of things I don't believe in aside from a god) I am a rationalist and can see that this argument just doesn't hold water. As far as debate is concerned it's about as sophisticated as playground name calling. " I know you are but what am I ?" I couldn't possibly repel this attack as well as Richard Dawkins does in the preface to the paperback edition of The God Delusion . In it he says: "It is all too easy to mistake passion that can change its mind for fundamentalism, which never will." This is to say a scientist passionate about his beliefs nevertheless when presented with firm evidence to the contrary will - in fact

What do you look like? (part three)

In a couple of blog entries near the beginning of the year I discussed the experience of being a member of a visual subculture. The experience of Being Punky (or Gothy or whatever else it might have been called at the time). In part one I revealed that like many things that teenage boys do it all came down to girls, whereas in part two I dug a little deeper to find that it was also the attitude, the music and most importantly what it felt like that appealed. After all if it hadn't I wouldn't have stayed. Any trouble comes with other people's reaction to this difference of appearance. Over the years I've come across a wide range of reactions from amused bewilderment to outright hostility. One person just couldn't accept the fact that I'd been to university due to an idea that was just far too deeply ingrained in his head - all people who looked like I did were stupid. Maybe I am stupid and perhaps I'm reading too much into it.  After all wasn't th

SFx Education

I remember the first "officially" grown up book I was given. Unlikely to find its way onto school syllabuses even now, it was the collection First Love, Last Rights by Ian McEwan . I must have been about 15 at the time, so yes, these disturbing tales of masturbation, mental illness, incest, death and pregnant rats did make quite a bit of an impression. Some of the words and phrases therein have stayed with me throughout the years as good writing tends to do. So it was my first "proper" book, having up until that point only indulged in the allegedly juvenile genre of Science Fiction (or SF as it is known to its fans - not " SciFi "). Must have come as a bit of a shock to me, eh? All those serious, adult themes - sexual references especially? Not really. McEwan's short stories were quite tame compared to some of what I'd already read. As an avid devourer of SF anthologies and collections as well as novels I'd come across some right wei