The Lost Post – 3

it was assumed he had died: where he’d been last seen there was a large crater

I tried to read another Clive Cussler book this weekend – why, you might ask? Well, I was on the boat, had only taken one book with me, and had finished it by halfway through the first day. As I have read practically every other book my father has on the boat (if you discount the ones about Winston Churchill this leaves about five novels) many times before, I finally had to resort to “Fire Ice” by the infamous Cussler. He wrote this one with another author, which might explain the (even for Cussler) unbelievable plot and atrocious writing. The blurb on the back goes as follows:

“On the shores of the Black Sea, Kurt Austin and the NUMA team discover an abandoned submarine base commandeered by a mining tycoon who claims Romanov ancestry. (You with me so far?) Backed by his incredible wealth, the tycoon has proclaimed himself Czar of Russia. (Still keeping up?) His determined to overthrow the already shaking Russian government (You with me, there at the back?) – and he has a terrifying surprise in store for the Americans that will ensure they don’t interfere. But standing in his way are Kurt Austin and the NUMA team…”

Dun dun duuuuuuuh! -suspenseful music plays-I seem to remember trying to read this book last time I was on the boat and giving up after the first chapter in disbelief. This was before I had read Sahara, and other works, by Cussler. This time I managed the first page. Why, oh why, do I keep doing this to myself? Am I really such a glutton for literary punishment? Am I expecting Cussler to suddenly produce a witty, insightful, and brilliantly crafted book? Or am I waiting till he crosses over to the other side and is amusing in his badness. I think it is the stubborn part of me that refuses to give up on people that makes me give him a second, third, fourth chance… I like trash as much (perhaps more) than the next person, so long as the next person isn’t Moose with her delight in god-awful films. I can appreciate pulp fiction with the best of them. I gleefully gobble every Phillipa Gregory romp I can get my hands on (throwing the last one out of the window was unintentional, I assure you, and had no bearing on my enjoyment of the book). They are my guilty little pleasures, the trash fantasy, the blindingly obvious science fiction, the historical romances, and I wouldn’t trade them for all the Booker winners in the world. Attwood aside, as a rule I get more enjoyment out of most trash than I do from serious ‘literature’. Just, what is it that keeps me coming back to Cussler? Am I that much of a masochist?

Lost Post – 2

when you die it’s not a major career problem

Well, we’ve had the post-about-something post, which just leaves the odds-and-sods posts that are starting to become far too much of a fixture. They’ve even started to colonize Moose’s site. Evil I tell you… Seeing as how I am just too lazy/tired/grumpy/in pain/insert appropriate adjective here to write another proper post that links all the disparate threads into one, you’re just going to have to lump it.

I’m in the middle of a Ben Bova binge at the moment (the Michael Connelly binge is on hold till I can get the rest of his books from the library). In a few days there might be a review of ‘Moonrise’ at least. But before I forget, here are a few thoughts. As ever, Bova writes what I consider to be the best form of science-fiction: a great story that also tells us much about the situation we find ourselves in today. It was written in 1996 (remember my rant on the need to understand the climate a book was written in?) and focuses a lot of thought on the problem of nano-tech. For nano-tech, read any scientific advance, most especially genome technology/stem-cell research/cloning etc that is currently causing Bush a few sleepless nights. More importantly, that is causing the scientists who need Federal funding to keep going, more than a few sleepless nights. I won’t go into it at length – this isn’t the review after all – but Bova sure knows what he is talking about. Wonderfully descriptive, the way he has the American government taken over behind the scenes by strictly Conservative Christian interest groups… Scratch “wonderfully descriptive” and put “scarily too believable. I want to emigrate to the Moon, now!

Ok, so in the interests of keeping the peace, and because I agree that the current way I footnote is just NOT working, I am looking into this solution, or a tweak thereof. Not sure how happy blogger is going to be about the idea, and all of you without good browsers are going to suffer, nor am I sure when (if ever) I will get it working. I am thinking about it though, and now I have time to breathe again, something might come of it. Or not. Wait and see.

Karl Kennedy came to Southampton – this little piece of news is courtesy of Bimbo Star, though how she, in deepest darkest Fen-land, knows more about what is going on at my Union than I do is another matter. He has a band, called “Waiting Room” (oh, so funny, seeing as how he plays a doctor in Neighbours…) and they are doing a UK tour at the moment. Woot. Had a quick look-see at his site, and it turns out that Southampton isn’t quite important enough to get a gig from the full band – we just get Alan Fletcher (that’s Dr Karl to you, me, and the cat). Also, they’re doing a gig ‘NEAR LONDON!!!’ (their exclamations, not mine). This turns out to be in Reading. Ok, so when you’re from a country the size of Australia, Reading must seem within throwing distance of London, but it is still 44 miles (Multimap says you can drive it in an hour. I think that that is wishful thinking). If you want a laugh, then go to his site and download the song “Perfectly Comfortable”. It was written in response to the Iraq war, you know. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am off to scrub my hard-drive clean of any evidence that I ever downloaded “Perfectly Comfortable”. -shudder-

I’m starting to have to think about what sort of jobs I want to apply for in the autumn when I can no longer afford to be a student. How, I wonder, do you get a job as head of futurology? The article. Best bit, “It is possible to make a conscious computer with superhuman levels of intelligence before 2020. It would definitely have emotions – that’s one of the primary reasons for doing it. If I’m on an aeroplane I want the computer to be more terrified of crashing than I am so it does everything to stay in the air until it’s supposed to be on the ground.”

Dinosaurs and Man in the same museum. -said in a tired sigh- no, no, no, no, no. Please. Some commonsense! My archaeological spidy senses are tingling! Lol though. The site does explain that Noah would have chosen juvenile dinosaurs to save space. Well, at least commonsense hasn’t completely deserted the American psyche. Yet. Apparently they are looking for a site to open a version of the museum in the UK. I wish them luck, if only because I need a good laugh! Let me just put on my archaeologists/biologist hat here. Yes, we have no ‘proof’ for evolution a la Darwin, but there is an even smaller body of evidence supporting the theory as proposed by these people. If you read nothing else, read the bit on “dinosaurs in the bible” – apparently the British are to blame for the centuries old belief that there were no dinosaurs in Eden. We translated the Bible wrong. Our bad, sorry.

2000 more wind turbines. Good. I like wind turbines. I have a few doubts about their efficacy, but at the same time, anything is better than most of the current forms of generating energy (coal and nuclear to name but two). I even think they are rather snazzy to look at, and find people’s objections that they will ‘spoil our green and pleasant land’ just a little silly – do they think that the huge pylons marching all over the countryside look good?

It really does amaze me the things that people can put up with, whilst at the same time make a totally insane fuss about something else that will have a similar visual impact on them (less, considering the tiny portion of the population that lives in the areas that are windy enough for wind-farms). Grrr. There are times when I want to knock sense into the minds of the great British public. There are times we’re like Americans – individually, we’re wonderful. Put us together, and boy do we suck! Quote for you (from Melvyn Bragg) “the freedom to roam around in an unspoilt landscape is vital”. I repeat. Grrrr!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I lived in the frelling countryside for the first twenty-odd years of my life, and I love it still, but it is already ‘spoilt’ by pylons and tv transmitter masts. Try telling people that they will have to do without television because the transmitter on the Mendips has been deemed an eyesore and is coming down. (The thing is butt-ugly. Tall enough to need warning lights on it so planes don’t fly into it, and right on the ridge-line where it can be seen for more miles than you can shake a stick at). I can pretty much guarantee that fairly quickly we’ll have (a) an alternative way of transmitting television successfully to everybody, (b) a lobby of local residents saying that it would be infringing on their rights to remove it, (c) oh, I am too tired to think of a full list, but you get the idea of what I am trying to impart: The ‘not in our backyard’ approach. Everyone agrees we need alternative energy sources, but no one wants to stare it in the face. You can be pretty certain that the people living near Hinkley Point (me, for one) would be a lot happier if they didn’t have an environmental hazard waiting to happen (Chernobyl anyone?) on their doorstep. And don’t get me started on the hassle Peter and Janny have had trying to get solar power to the Farm (though that rant is more to do with the idiocy of certain listing restrictions and shortsightedness of local planning officers).

Update: Moose just informed me that it took her three months or more before she noticed the wind turbine that got put up on the outskirts of Toronto. It is amazing what we can choose to blot from our view if we want to.

Just introduced Jeff to Sweet (glam rock at its silliest and best, have to love a band who can sing a song about the invention of the telephone and make it fun). Mwhahahahaaa. He walked home quietly singing “Alexander Graham Bell” to himself. I repeat, mwhahhahahaaa…

The Lost Post 1

sarcasm turns your hair grey you know

Ok, a short diatribe post about humour, and the sense (or lack of) that some individuals of my acquaintance exhibit. Now, I have been called funny (witty, humourous, entertaining) enough times for me to think that there might be a small degree of truth in the comments. Purely anecdotally (I am not anal enough to have done a scientific study on this, yet) I make people laugh/giggle more often than I don’t. So some of the time I make people laugh unintentionally, but most of the time, when I want people to be amused, they are. I’m not saying that I am a standup comic or anything – far too shy if nothing else – but I seem to be blessed (?) in that I can spread joy just by saying whatever comes into my head. All evidence to the contrary, I do actually occasionally have thoughts in my head.

Now, if I was forced to describe my sense of humour, I would have to resort to such words as “self-deprecating”, “dry”, “sarcastic”, occasionally “silly”, or just plain “screwball”. The telling of long involved jokes is not my thing – I tend to loose track and, by the time it comes, the punch line always falls flat – and I have always expressed myself better in writing than verbally. A minor speech impediment kicks in so that, when it matters, the words just refuse to come. That, and my brain runs about five thousand times faster than my tongue, so the words get all jumbled together in my mouth. My dad used to have a phrase he would make me repeat when I was younger “engage brain before opening mouth” (or words to that affect, it’s been a while since he said them to me. Other catch-phrases of his [“we’re doomed, we’re all doomed!!!” and “it was a dark and stormy night…”] have overwritten the important life-lesson ones*), but the sentiment holds true. All of which is a long winded way of saying that I don’t (as a rule) plan what I’m going to say in advance (you’d never have guessed, would you?). When I think too hard, it just goes bad. Very bad.

I thought people had realised this about me. It took the Latvian Lovely a month or so to tune into my wavelength, but now she is practically in permanent hysterics.** And she has the excuse of the language barrier for not understanding me. I really must learn to talk slower. Now, I know that sarcasm**** doesn’t translate perfectly into text. When I was posting with monotonous regularity on Terisia and over at the CoF, I frequently had to resort to the [sarcasm] tag, which for the place worked – they were public community boards and, whilst the people who knew me well understood where my brain was coming from, there were always people who didn’t know me and who were willing to take offense. I even had to stop cheerfully insulting people, now that was hard. In my family “you dippy cow” is a term of endearment. I guess it is all in the intonation. The tag just saved a lot of trouble in the long run. I think at one point my sig even said something like “Warning: British, will use Sarcasm”. (OOH! Got a great idea for an image/tag there… Moose, hands off, mine!) But I don’t want to have to resort to that around here! Bright Meadow is my place now and frankly, having to worry that people might be offended/take my comments the wrong way is starting to piss me off. Please, please, please take it as read that the overall tone of this blog is meant to be fun, ever so slightly silly, and blond in a left-handed kind of way. A bit like me really. I want people to have fun around here, I really do. I made a comments field so that y’all can join in. I am a great one for getting everybody involved – my entire thesis is all about web-based participation – so just kick back and enjoy! I am not that easy to offend. I’m most likely to laugh. If something pisses me off, then I say so. A spade is, just occasionally, a digging implement, as far as I am concerned. Life really is too short to get offended by and then to hold a grudge. *****

And that is all I have to say on the matter. It’s been a long week, I have had the grand total of about three hours sleep, my back is in agony, I can barely grip anything thanks to my wrists, and I’m shaking I’ve drunk so much caffeine (tea has more caffeine than coffee per unit), so I am going to sit back in my uncomfortable train seat and doze till we get to Coventry. Ah, a weekend of doing bugger all on the boat and, more importantly, not having to feel guilty. Yep, the godhead that is Graeme has decreed that I am permitted a week’s holiday before I have to start on my thesis proper, and by all that is holy I am going to make the most of it. Too tired even to put an exclamation mark at the end of that sentence. Dear lord.

* You can tell I’m doing a computing course, can’t you?

** Let me clarify this. More often than not, she is laughing AT me, not WITH me. It’s just the way I detail my tragedies. I was explaining the catalogue troubles that had led me to have to write a 4000 word essay in under 24 hours (20 hours, including about four hours of sleep, in the end), and she was all but rolling on the floor! ***

*** Sorry, wrote this on the train, not yet cracked the side-note coding, so long live the footnotes. Been rather hectic this last few weeks. I’ve been subsisting on a diet of kit-kats and endless cups of tea. Not healthy. And I haven’t been to the gym in about three weeks :S

**** Ah, sarcasm, that mainstay of the British sense of humour. That, and irony. Oh, and surrealism. Got to love those Pythons.

***** I can hold a grudge with the best of them (especially sticks of evil blond patronising clompy candyfloss, grrr…) but it takes a lot to make me hold a grudge. If nothing else, it just takes far too much energy, and I am, if nothing else, inherently lazy. I must have been a cat in a previous life.