Timothy’s First Thanksgiving

'Twas the day of Thanksgiving, and close by the cat
Not a creature was stirring, not even a rat;
The house was half empty, no one stood on the stair,
In hopes that a far traveled guest soon would be there;

The robot was nestled all snug in its station,
Recharging its batteries with thoughts of vacation;
And a dinosaur (curled up in her nest),
Had just settled down for a long winter's rest,

When out on the lawn there arose such a clatter,
the cat sprang from its bed to see what was the matter.
Away to the window he flew like the Flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen leaves
Gave the lustre of mid-day to the roofs and the eaves,
When, what to his wondering eyes should appear,
But a giant fat turkey carrying some beer,

‘Hey, what are you doing!’ said the cat now quite bold,
But the giant fat turkey wouldn’t be told,
‘I’m the spirit of thanks, and I bring you good cheer’
It slurred impolitely while chugging some beer.

‘You are in the wrong country!’ said the cat clearly upset,
Was this really a turkey or some fool dressed up for a bet?
‘I was going to Brooklyn’ said the turkey with care,
‘But my wings are too stubby to fly all the way there...’.

‘..I live on the farm, just down the path,
and I thought a US Thanksgiving would be kind of a laugh.’
The cat understood then that the turkey was drunk,
Its movements erratic and its breath clearly stunk.

‘It was either stay there and wait till it's Yule,
and hang around gobbling for a month like a fool,
Or set off to the land of my ancestral home,
But I swiftly got lost and found myself all alone.’

The cat was confused but not unsympathetic,
And frankly the turkey’s tale was pathetic,
He didn’t have the heart to explain quite in depth,
That Thanksgiving involved the inebriated bird’s death.

‘OK’ said the cat, 'As November is shit,
Let’s all have a party to give thanks to it.’
And that’s what they did and they ate pumpkin pie
Which sounded disgusting but they gave it a try.

The robot, the puppy, the dino, the man,
Ate cranberry sauce they got from a can,
Then all back to sleep because they’d eaten too much,
And the turkey slept too, in an old rabbit hutch.

But the cat stayed awake, feeling some need,
Confused that for once, that he had done a good deed.
And softly he said, though it gave him a fright,
'Thanksgiving to all turkeys and to all turkeys good night…'

Nothing to see here

This is just me messing about with the Gutenberg editor and seeing what does what. So far I’ve mixed feelings. This is certainly a more flexible editor and it allows for more complex layouts and page design. However, for a blog, the old editor allowed for quicker composition of posts with just a few features.

This is a ‘cover’ block. I’m not sure when I’d use it. It’s for putting text over the top of an image. I guess for ‘inspirational’ quotes?

I can see how this might be nice but it is the sort of stuff that you have to plan for and layout/design choices are a great way to not write anything. Lots of writers use more stripped down writing tools and there is a good argument for separating content generation from content layout. Gutenberg is mixing the two and that means either ignoring these features or getting distracted by them.

That last block was a spacer. I guess it just creates some empty space?

Meh, a button. Just a fancy formatted hyperlink. What I’d like is to run Javascript on my page and have buttons that do stuff.

But how about columns? Text organised into columns could be kind of cool if I can work out how they join together? I don’t think the text spills over from one column to the next.

I think they operate more like separate text boxes. Yet why am I going to do this? Perhaps to present too contrasting ideas side by side?

I don’t know what this is?

TablesPast issues
Current issues
Oh dear
WordPressHas always been
bad at HTML
FrustratingGiven how much
tabular data
I post!

I often just use list instead. It doesn’t look like tables have got any better, with few controls over their formatting. Shame.

Let’s try out “syntax format highlighter code”

function imageShifter(direction,layer){
var current;
var newPic;
var newUrl;
var newTag;
var arrayLength;
if (direction==2){current=0;}
newTag='<img id="L'+layer+'Url" src="'+newUrl+'" width=25>';
document.getElementById("L"+layer+"Num").innerHTML=current+" ";
I wonder if a block so terse,
Could be made for showing verse?
And if such a block was plain,
Would it's use be in vain?

Nope, don’t know why there is a verse block.

Ye Olde Skull & Lobster: Reading Vox Day So You Don’t Have To: Part N+1

When P.Z. Myers is cited positively and unironically by Vox Day, you know there’s something amiss with the universe. There’s heresy in the air and right-on-right attacks going down.

On the one hand, we have Jordan Peterson: transphobic right-wing purveyor of semi-coherent self-help books for people frightened by women going to university. On the other hand, we have Vox Day: a man who regards the terrorist child-murder Anders Brevik as a hero and who pushes a violent nationalism based on pseudo-scientific race theories. While we could see Peterson as at least being more moderate than Day, we can’t ignore that Peterson is a kind of gateway drug into the morass of confused thinking based on male resentment at a changing society. What Vox has in toxicity, Peterson has twice as much in reach.

Who is the more appalling of the two? Perhaps we need another candidate…

[more appalling people after the fold]

Continue reading “Ye Olde Skull & Lobster: Reading Vox Day So You Don’t Have To: Part N+1”

Proper Review of the Consuming Fire

No but really one character does swear a lot.

The sequel to The Collapsing Empire is yet another example of part 2 of a single novel. Which is an issue mainly because the first part of the book is in a sort of mid-book plot plateau. For a complete story, having a middle bit that has to spin its wheels a little while characters react to the initial action is not a bad thing. In John Scalzi’s interdependency, starships exist hyperspace flow shoots with zero momentum and are essentially stalled when they reach a new star system. Likewise the Consuming Fire is initially on impulse engines only, if not drifting in space.

There’s a lot of talking and plotting and counter-plotting that is important because this is supposed to be a world of plotting and counter-plotting. However, it feels inconsequential even at the time. Of course it is MEANT to be futile in the face of a systemic collapse of the hyperspace routes that hold the Empire together. Meanwhile, the story is plotting a new course and warming up its engines.

Don’t get me wrong, I *like* dialogue but it is a relief when the story charts a course towards a newly opened bu short lived flow shoal and heads off into some space exploration action. From this point on the novel picks up the same momentum and sparkle from the first novel. New revelations, some clever twists to the backstory and the Empereaux getting some control over her life pulls the story along to a satisfactory conclusion.

There’s plenty of set-up for the sequels but there is a definite end to this particular arc. Initially disappointed, the book finally delivers enough to make me intrigued by future stories of how the Interdependecy survives (or not).

Doctor Who: Kerblam!

Aside from saying that in this episode the Doctor gatecrashes Amazon, it is a hard one to discuss without spoilers (even revealing how I was wrong about who I thought eh baddies would be is a spoiler of sorts).

I guess the other thing I can say without spoilers is this a very pro-labour episode. It’s neither as radical nor as reactionary as some have described but rather an episode that takes for granted that audience sympathy is with people doing manual labour and that working people deserve respect. And no, that shouldn’t be seen as a radical message but it has become a radical message.

Here’s a fold before spoilers:

Continue reading “Doctor Who: Kerblam!”

“based on outrage, not actual products”

I know many regular readers of this blog will not be sad to learn that Jon Del Arroz has deleted his Twitter account. I shan’t rehash Jon’s various actions over the past few years but these links are relevant:



The latest twist in the Ballad of Del Arroz is comicsgategatecomicsgate related. According to JDA himself, Ethan Van Sciver (arguably driving force behind the online harassment campaign known as ‘comicsgate’) had told him to go away:

“Ethan finally came out and said he didn’t like me over the weekend, told me to “go away”, as if I didn’t have any part of this movement before he even showed up. The hubris in that statement and resentment shows that he blames me for his crumbling empire, even though I have little to do with him (I’ve not been around his youtube crew at all for 2 months now!). Last night, he escalated attacks by coming after someone for following me on Twitter, accusing him of being a “Jon del Arroz acolyte” and promptly blocking him.” http://delarroz.com/2018/11/13/two-face-finally-came-for-me/

JDA himself has been variously harassed and counter harassed since the conflict between Vox Day and EVS over the ‘comicsgate’ label erupted in September. Surprisingly, when a movement based on trolling, name calling and harassments falls out with itself the result is not an amicable break-up and everybody agreeing to let bygones be bygones.

JDA also has a more recent blogpost on why comicsgate failed: http://delarroz.com/2018/11/16/a-failed-movement-in-three-acts/

It’s worth a read because it provides some insights into how a participant in one of these campaigns percieves the arc it follows. Jon identifies three phases to comicsgate:

  1. Identify The Problem and Raise Awareness
  2. Alt-Hero ushers in a revolution of crowdfunds
  3. A movement falls to contraction and fighting

It is phase one that Jon identifies as the ‘fun’ part. Of course, that was the part where the comicsgaters were primarily harassing actual writers and artists. The ‘unity’ was unity in spreading hatred and inciting harassment. The second phase was when people tried to make money out of the suckers, um ‘activists’. The third phase was when the infighting started for multiple reasons but JDA ignores the most obvious one: campaigns like comicsgate reward obnoxious behaviour and hence any internal dispute is likely to escalate.

And Jon almost, almost, almost gets it:

“The whole premise was based on outrage, not actual products, and so these guys have to perpetually stoke outrage…”

Yes, yes we know. That’s what people were pointing out from wayyyy before ‘comicsgate’ started. That’s why we’ve been using the term ‘outrage marketing’

Review: Salvation by Peter F Hamilton

In the nearish future, humanity is living prosperously with the development of portal technology that allows people to zip easily around the world or off the planet. Medicine too has advanced thanks to extraordinary treatments courtesy of some beneficent aliens who are briefly visiting our solar system in an ark ship destined for the end of the universe. A team of influential but skilled people are brought together for a mysterious investigation into what appears to be a crashed spaceship.

Meanwhile, in the far future, a team of teenagers are being trained to fight a war of survival against an alien threat that is systematically exterminating humanity.

Salvation has several common features with Dan Simmons’s Hyperion. The near future plotline is told in a Canterbury Tales-style — a set of travellers take turns telling a story from their past, with each story revealing more of the wider backstory to the events in the book. The far future plotline adopts a brutal-training-of-young-people plot to train them for a war of existence against an implacable foe.

Like other Hamilton books, the story revolves around an apparently unbeatable enemy bent on humanity’s destruction. There are sympathetic revolutionaries, corporate security bad-asses, dubious ethics and prolonged action sequences. The whole adds up to something that feels familiar without directly resembling any one book in particular. Unlike Hyperion‘s structure, each of the traveller’s tales is similar in style (near future techno-thrillers with a minor mystery in each which is tangential to the broader mystery of the crashed spaceship they are travelling towards). I found the near-future characters tended to blur into similarity, with insufficient difference between the styles of story they related and their roles within it. The arc of the far-future story felt too obvious in its overall direction but at least the characters felt more distinct.

It’s is still entertaining, Hamilton knows how to keeps a story moving and to tease a mystery but it is a very conservative experiment in structure for Hamilton. He’s been writing complex multi-character narratives for sometime but paradoxically this one felt less varied in its multiple-prespectives than usual.

Entertaining but no surprises. Book one of a series.