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Below are the 10 most recent journal entries recorded in the "Liam Proven" journal:
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The Omphalos Argument, or, "how long is fake history?"|
Take the religion of your choice. If its creation myth is true, then much of the world is a clever prop, a fake stage set.
The argument is clever and simple.
* the Earth is full of evidence of great age. You can look at how long water wears down rock, and how long it takes sediment to pile up, and so on, and model the age of the Grand Canyon and so on. Do this, and you get many millions of years. So obviously, the Genesis story is not true.
* But look at radioactive decay and so on and you get a much longer age: hundreds of millions of years. Study stars and the spectra of their light, work out the makeup of other planets and so on, and you get billions of years.
* But most religions' creation myths say it's much newer. Typically thousands of years.
* However, it is axiomatic in $RELIGION that $HOLY_BOOK is correct, because $DEITY wrote it.
* Therefore, $DEITY made the world with all the evidence that it was older in place.
(Side note: therefore, $DEITY is a liar.)
* So, if $DEITY did this, then when did [he/she/it/they] do so?
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By the way, the Omphalos Argument is also one of the core inspirations behind Terry Pratchett's wonderful novel /The Dark Side of the Sun/, before the Discworld stuff and my personal favourite of his books. Go read it, it's brilliant.
Current Mood: tired, nostalgic, pessimistic
The World's Shortest Pub Crawl: 15th Nov 2013|
AKA Liam's belated and Peter Corlett's early celebratory birthday drinkie
I was away for my actual birthday, so flatmate Peter Corlett & I are going to have a joint do half way between our respective birthdays instead.
Here's the plan:
• 6:30PM: early-evening Sri Lankan meal in Adchaya (164 Merton High Street, South Wimbledon, London, SW19 1AZ)
• 7:30PM: a couple of beers in the Trafalgar: http://www.thetraf.com/ (about ¼ mile away)
• 9PM: a few more beers in the Sultan (http://www.hopback.co.uk/our-pubs/the-sultan.html) (about ½ mile away)
Total walking time: probably about 15min.
Nearest Tubes: South Wimbledon (Northern Line, Zone 3) for Adchaya & the Trafalgar; Colliers Wood (the stop before South Wimbledon) for the Sultan.
Last Northbound Tube: about midnight. (Which conveniently is also last orders at the Sultan.)
Any questions, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org
Can't find us? Text me: 07939-087884.
Bring a friend. Bring lots. Bring none. Up to you.
Warning: program of events will contain beer, curry & grumpy middle-aged gits. Adult content advisory. Some settling may occur in transit.
There's a Fess Bouc event here: https://www.facebook.com/events/678121528887056/678121532220389
Lewes Bonfire 2013|
I got there about 7:15 & went back to the station for about 10:15. It was a very intense 3 hours, in places.
I'd planned food, drink & wandering. All that happened according to plan. I had some quite tasty veggie potato stew with banana curry and spicy bean curry, a bag of donuts, 2 pints of Harvey's Best & a mulled cider.
I got boxed in repeatedly by the police, who I presume had a plan to their semi-random-seeming pattern of temporarily-closed streets. The procession seemed to go wherever it wanted, pretty much, narrow streets included.
Some marching pirates had flares; at times, it was very very bright. Many had bangers - proper, serious ones, not toys. In the narrow streets of a market town, they left my ears ringing & I had to wear earplugs after a while. I got hit in the leg by some shrapnel, too.
I never made it to any of the actual bonfire sites, which were all out of town. Most were ticketed - only a fiver, but I spent too much as it was. I tried to find one of the free sites but the signposting was almost nonexistent, and movement through the crowds very slow.
I saw few actual fireworks, and those only above buildings. Happily, the train back to London went right next to one of the fields revealing a horde standing around an impressively-large blaze. If there was an effigy on it, I couldn't tell.
It's a vastly more intense experience than any ordinary local council fireworks display. The processions are quite varied - many marchers are dressed as "pirates", meaning a striped jersey, white trousers, black boots and perhaps a cap, but there were also priests, Roman legionaries, red indians, more traditional Caribbean-style pirates and all sorts. Some carried banners, some flaming crucifixes or insignia, some carried effigies, some modern maritime flares, painfully bright in the narrow streets. There were marching bands of varying degrees of musicality. And the bangers - did I mention the bangers? Literally deafening.
Apart from some pubs and festival-type snack-bars, almost all shops and businesses were shut except for some of the pubs - and not all of them by a long shot. There were also street stalls selling beer - either Harvey's Best (nothing else) or the usual vile canned piss. A wine shop called Symposium had offered some other ales but they were long gone when I got there.
Would I recommend it? Most definitely, so long as you're OK with crowds, mess, noise and so on. The marchers drop their torches as they go out, and while each procession has some sweepers-up snatching up the firebrands and tossing them into half-oil-drums on wheels or burning barrels, some fall or bounce out and they miss some. So not only are the streets littered with the usual rubbish from a large crowd - including many kids, some very drunk, a small number of scrotes and ne'er-do-wells - but some of the rubbish is actually on fire.
It's incredibly loud, chaotic and intense. While it's much smaller, it makes the Notting Hill Carnival seem organised and disciplined. I felt like I was watching some ancient, historic rite.
I'm tired, stiff and sore from all the standing and walking, and I can still smell smoke now, the next day, despite rinsing my sinuses with everything short of bleach.
But hell yes, I'd recommend it. Great for older sprogs, too.
You can see some of my photos from the event on Flickr, here.
Mechanics' Definitions: Joke, possibly old but new to me. (ILORC.)|
Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate expensive parts not far from the object we are trying to hit.
Used to slice through the contents of cardboard cartons; works particularly well on boxes containing newly trimmed seats and other expensive soft furnishings.
Normally used for spinning pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age, but works better when drilling holes in floor pans, particularly above fuel tanks.
One of a family of tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course the more dismal your future becomes.
Used to round off bolt heads and when nothing else is available, excellent for transferring intense welding heat to the palm of your hand
Used almost entirely for setting fire to various flammable objects in the garage or vehicle no matter how much care you took to remove everything beforehand.
A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your drink across the garage, splattering it all over that freshly painted part.
Rotary Wire wheel
Cleans rust off old bolts then throws them somewhere under the bench at the speed of light. Also removes flesh in about the time it takes to shout, "Ouc...."
Bolt & Stud extractor
A tool that snaps off in engine blocks and is ten times harder than any known drill bit.
Body filler spatula
Theoretically a useful kitchen tool for spreading mayonnaise in sandwiches which seems to end up spreading filler, but mainly useful for scraping doggy poo off your boots.
A stroboscopic instrument excellent for illuminating oil and grease build-up.
Hydraulic Engine hoist
A handy tool for testing the tensile strength of earth straps, wiring and throttle linkages.
12" Long Screwdriver
A large prying tool that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end without the handle.
Battery Electrolyte Tester
A handy tool for transferring sulphuric acid from the battery across the bodywork into the toolbox after determining that your battery is dead as a doornail, just as you thought.
The mechanic's own tanning booth, it is a good source of Vitamin D, the sunshine vitamin not otherwise found when working under Jaguars. Its main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at the same rate as 105mm howitzer shells in the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading.
Normally used to stab lids of old oil cans and splash oil all over your shirt, but also to round off Phillips screw heads.
ALERTS TO THREATS IN 2013 EUROPE|
From JOHN CLEESE [allegedly]
The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Syria and have therefore raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." The English have not been "A Bit Cross" since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to "A Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.
The Scots have raised their threat level from "Pissed Off" to "Let's get the Bastards." They don't have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.
The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Collaborate" and "Surrender." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France 's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.
Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."
The Germans have increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade a Neighbour" and "Lose."
Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.
The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.
Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from "No worries" to "She'll be right, Mate." Two more escalation levels remain: "Crikey! I think we'll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!" and "The barbie is cancelled." So far no situation has ever warranted use of the last final escalation level.
British writer, actor and tall person
And as a final thought - Greece is collapsing, the Iranians are getting aggressive, and Rome is in disarray. Welcome back to 430 BC.
Tags: humour, plagiarism
My strongest personal memory of the great Iain Banks |
I met Banksie a few times. Top chap, and an immensely entertaining speaker. I liked him very much indeed.
At one event -- a Novacon in Walsall -- he did one of his usual-style, highly-amusing, irreverent, silly talks, containing much profanity, drug references, jokes high and low and so on -- not what one might expect from (IMHO, at least) an actual genuine genius and creative artist of the highest order.
Afterwards, at the bar, someone asked me how it was. "Oh, brilliant," I said, "you know, Banksie doing his usual genial-fuckwit thing," or something like that. I was trying to get across how this great man managed to convey his common touch, his wonderful combination of great mind and ordinary bloke.
I felt the uncomfortable sensation of being stared at. Of receiving a Very Hard Stare.
I turned around. I was being stared at. By Iain Banks, who was in the queue at the bar behind me. A very hard, unhappy, pissed-off looking stare.
I felt about 2mm tall, lost the power of speech, and scurried away. I still feel deep shame to this day.
I always will, now.
I met him again, at another iteration of the same event, 2½y ago. He seemed to have no clue who I was and AFAICT no recollection of the incident. I was exaggeratedly polite. Too much so, I fear. I probably came over as another fawning crawler, this time. :¬(
One of life's more unusual regrets: to unintentionally call one of the human beings who you most respect in the world something offensive in their hearing. Something you didn't mean as offensive in any way at all.
Well, fuck. Fuck me and my stupid big mouth, and fuck cancer.
"I want to go to an SF Con. What should I go to?"|
On being asked this, here's what I came up with.
It occurs to me that half way through the year, everything I'd immediately recommend has already been and gone. What have I missed? Any good upcoming events for a first-timer to not send them running away screaming?
Well, you've missed most of this year's already. :¬) Already been-and-gone for 2013 were Picocon, Eastercon, Redemption, the London Scifi Film Festival & the spring MCM Expo.
For next year, it's a shoo-in. The Worldcon is coming to Europe for its once-a-decade visit. This is the event. First time in England since 1987 (!) although there have been two in Scotland in 1995 and 2005 and one in the Netherlands in 1990. Absolutely essential.
Also next year...
Well, the Scifi Weekender is usually a hoot. Not remotely serious, just a big party. They do have panels but in public open spaces so they're so noisy that you can't hear. OTOH, I've been to all of them and never paid, they give away so many tickets as prizes...
The Eastercon is the British national SF con. Strong focus on literary SF with a token presence of comics and media. Streams for those into gaming (not my thing), costuming (really not my thing), filk (SF folk music - run, don't walk away, IMHO). Can be a bit intimidating but I go every year and love it.
Next year it's in Glasgow. Should be a small, friendly, good one.
The 2nd biggest literary con of the year is my personal fave but it is relatively small and cliquey. Sadly I've missed 3 of the last 10 due to lack of funds. This is the only significant literary con left in 2013. (!)
Outside the UK, and small but usually a good craic, is the Irish national con, Octocon. It's not on the same scale as UK cons and sadly usually most attendees commute in, rather than staying at the hotel, so it can be a little quieter on the extracurricular activities, but I've enjoyed the 3 or 4 I've been to immensely.
Also in Ireland next year is the Eurocon, a follow-on event to the Worldcon in London. This should be great.
In other fandoms...
The Discworld Con only happens on even-numbered years. I've missed the last 3 but I hope to be there next year:
Warm, friendly, fun, but Pratchett-only and few of its members go to non-Pratchett events.
Still to come in 2013... Well, there's been one MCM Expo but there will be another in the autumn. They're a big party, rather American-style, with a lot of teens and twenty-somethings. Raucous, colourful, shallow, but a giggle.
Also still to come is at least one London Film & Comic Con, if you are near the capital. Again, somewhat kid-centric, mainly focusses on merchandise & autograph collectors.
I might just go to these, finances permitting:
Unicon - an occasional series of summertime cons that happen in universities. I've been to about three of them and enjoyed them. They're small, informal, friendly and relaxed.
Nine Worlds Geekfest is a new event that seems to be trying to fuse several different strands of fandom and conventions. Again, if I can afford it, I'll go.
Outside of the capital...
Well, there's Collectormania. Only been to a couple. They're pretty much purely commercial - just a chance to buy collectable merchandise and autographs. Not bad but not my thing, personally. The LF&CC is run by these guys.
BTW, on the note of filk, there is an annual (?) filk con. I've never been and I don't expect I ever will, but I thought I probably ought to mention it. NOT a first-time event, though. Go to an Eastercon, see if you like filk - if you are a folk singer, that might help, but then again, my one mate who is a folk-singer went to the filk concert at the last UK worldcon and came away appalled. It's, er, niche. But some of my friends do like it. I just don't understand why.
Another thing I don't go to are gaming events, as I'm not a gamer. I've been to one or two videogames events, but I don't really do that, either. Some listings here, of which I know nothing:
I know some people who go to Salute, which is a wargaming con, again rather commercially-oriented AFAICT. I've not been myself.
Tags: cons, fandom, sf
Zoe/Eris Parsons - a cooperative obituary. Can you help us & contribute something?|
Eris was an active member of ZZ9, the Hitch-hikers' Guide to the Galaxy club, and we plan to run an obituary in her memory in the next issue of our newsletter, Mostly Harmless. We would really like it if people could contribute a happy memory of Eris - just a line or two, ideally - that we can (we hope!) stitch together into a positive recollection of her.
Comments here would be great, or on Twitter or Facebook if you prefer. Please do repost links to this, too!
Do you remember Eris (Amethyst/Zoe) Parsons? Can you help?|
I imagine that many of you out there will now be aware of the sad news that zarp -- Eris, previously Zoe -- took her own life over the Easter weekend. The note -- or one of them -- is here on LJ.
Perhaps some of you wish that you had been able to do more to help her or something. I know that I certainly do.
But there may yet be something that you can do.
Eris' father, Michael, discovered her body on Sunday morning. This must, I am sure you will agree, be one of the very worst things that can happen to any parent. He and her mother are absolutely distraught.
Now, I had known Eris/Zoe for a very long time -- as a member of CIX, since the 1990s, when she was still Tony. I daresay that many of you didn't know Tony. He was very shy and retiring -- the only times I ever met him were at the annual CIX Barbies.
Zoe was a lot more outgoing -- she came to conventions, parties, pub meets, nightclubs and all manner of social events. I suspect that her parents did not realise how many people that Zoe/Eris' life had touched. I am sure that she knew hundreds of people up and down the country, perhaps even thousands.
If you are wishing that you had done something, well, you still can. Send a card or a letter to her parents, telling her that you knew her, sharing your positive memories of her. Pictures would be good, too.
Obviously, I am not going to post their address publicly on the Web, and I'd prefer not to have to forward loads of mail. So, please contact me and I'll pass on their address.
I am hoping that a small deluge of cards and letters expressing sympathy and condolences, sharing memories or stories or pictures, would help her mum and dad to understand how many people Eris/Zoe touched in her tragically short life.
My email address is all over the web, but if you're very Google-challenged, then it's the same ID as my Livejournal on the Google email service. Or just leave a comment with some way to contact you below.
Current Music: Oki Dub Ainu Band "East of Kunashiri" Live @ Pokhala
Day 4 – all at sea (Liam's Caribbean Travel Diary, part 5)|
The fourth day was our first "sea day" – in other words, one where the Ventura would not dock or visit any island but just steam along in the open ocean. On such days, the P&O Entertainments Team redouble their efforts to provide things for their passengers to do. Normally, there are various spa treatments, a film, the four pools and multiple bars, the casino, several shops, and somewhere a restaurant or two serving from 6AM until midnight. On sea days, there are also talks, deck games, sports in the nets, bands playing and more.
Of course, a significant number of the passengers are perfectly happy provided with alcohol, sun-beds and possibly an occasional dip in a pool to cool off. Kindles and iPads (and a few Android tablets) are everywhere, plus a huge array of fat blockbuster novels: Stieg Larsson is in evidence, plus Wilbur Smith, Stephanie Meyer, Jeffrey Archer and various other novelists I wouldn't touch even if paid to review 'em.
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