Archive for the ‘General Chat’ Category

Apologies for Lack of Posts

January 28, 2017

My apologies to everyone coming here these past few days, who’s been disappointed by my not putting up any posts. I’m afraid Sunday night I started coming down with a stinking cold that literally left me unable to do very much except lie around feeling ill and miserable. I’m still not over it, but I shall put one or two things up over the next few days.

And needless to say, I hope you’ve all managed to avoid it or similar germs, as well as the soul-crushing malignity of the current Tory government.

Why I Haven’t Been Blogging

November 2, 2016

Sorry for the interruption in blogging, but I came down with stomach upset Sunday evening, and really haven’t been fit for much these past few days. I am recovering though, and posting again. Thanks to everyone who’s still been coming here over the past few days – your persistence is appreciated. 🙂

Twitter and Facebook Buttons Added

July 11, 2016

A few people have asked me if I could add buttons for Twitter and Facebook, so they could share some of my posts on those media. Thanks very much for the inquiries and the appreciation. I haven’t done so up to now, because I didn’t know how. However, I’ve now managed to add them, so here’s hoping they work.

Wishing Everyone a Happy Easter

April 5, 2015

This is just to wish everyone reading my blog I happy Easter. I hope the day brings peace and joy to you and your families, and you get all the choccy Easter eggs and bunnies you want. Or can cope with before the sugar rush kicks in and you or the kids start bouncing off the walls.:)

Christmas Greetings and Best Wishes for the New Year

December 25, 2014

This is just to wish all the readers and commenters on my blog a very Merry Christmas, and I hope you have a happy, prosperous and healthy New Year.

Very best wishes to you all, and hope you have a peaceful snooze through all the Christmas repeats.

Civitas Pamphlet against the On-Line Jihadis

October 12, 2014

Okay, I’ve been away from blogging for a little while now. This has partly been because I’ve been distracted by other projects. I’ve been working on the manuscript and proofs for a book based on my PhD thesis. I’ve sent them all in, and the publishers have said that everything’s running smoothly. Hopefully, if everything goes as planned, the book should be published in December.

I also have to say that I found the political situation here in Britain so depressing and infuriating, that for the last couple of months I found going through my DVD collection far more attractive than having to sit down and contemplate everything rotten in modern Britain, no matter how urgent and necessary that is.

However, I’m now back blogging, and hope to continue doing so, barring further interruptions.

Yusra Hussien: Bristol Somali Girl Lured to Join ISIS

One of the particularly disturbing stories in the local news here in Bristol is that of Yusra Hussien, a fifteen year old Somali schoolgirl from Bristol. The girl has gone to Syria with another girl just a couple of years older, aged seventeen. She is believed to have been radicalised by ISIS through their Jihadist websites. She has gone to Syria to become a wife for the Islamist militants. In their meetings with the press, her family – mother and aunt, have given the impression of a very young, impressionable teenager. They told, for example, of the way she still sucked her thumb while watching TV. They fear that they have lost their daughter, and in a press interview yesterday called on the government to act against the extremist websites, like those that have poisoned their daughter’s mind.

Although the issue on online radicalisation by militant Islamists is very much at the heart of the debate about contemporary Islam, and Islamist terrorism, it’s also part of the wider problem of the exposure of teenagers to harmful material on the Web. The Net can be a magnificent resource, but there is the problem that it can leave children open to predators, such as paedophiles grooming their victims, vicious bullies, thugs on trolls on social media, and political and religious extremists preaching hatred and violence. I know non-Muslim parents, who are troubled by the case of Yusra Hussien, and have every sympathy for her family. It’s many parent’s deepest fear that they may lose a child through being unable to protect them from the dangers of the outside world, whether physical or ideological.

The Problem of Islamist Terrorist Websites

Unfortunately, it’s unclear what exactly can be done against the Jihadi websites. Their online as a way of evading British anti-terror laws. My guess is that most of them are based abroad, so that domestic British legislation doesn’t apply to them, and there are immense ideological and commercial problems and objections to the wholesale censorship of the internet.

Despite this, there are groups and organisations providing help and information exposing the online extremists. Looking through the Religion and Politics sections of the Oxfam bookshop in Cheltenham the other day, I found a pamphlet, Virtual Jihad, published by Civitas. Civitas are an organisation dedicated to fighting Islamist extremism, and the pamphlet is a guide to the on-line Islamist sites, and the vile hatred they promote. Yusra Hussien’s family have called on parents to be aware of and watch carefully what their children read online, both on their computers and mobile phones. It’s excellent advice, and the above pamphlet should help parents worried about the ideological slant of what their children are reading make decisions about it.

I didn’t do much more than glance at the pamphlet, so I can’t give any details about the price or much of the content, except it gives a very full description of the views the leading Islamist militant bigots spread on their sites. If there is sufficient interest, I will, however, go back and get hold of copy and write a longer review.

Robot Rock: Kraftwerk

November 5, 2013

Okay, I’m aware that I haven’t put any stuff up on here for a little while. I’ve been busy with a few others things, so I’ve been away from blogging. There is, however, a lot of stuff I’d like to reblog here from other sites, like that of Johnny Void and Vox Political, and comment on as well as my own material. So, hopefully, normal service will be resumed as soon as possible, as they say in TV land.

I’ve previously put up a piece on the all-robot band, Compressorhead, whose drummer definitely looks like something 2000 AD’s art robot Kevin O’Neill used to draw for the Ro-Busters, ABC Warriors or the Metalzoic strips. Compressorhead appear to have been constructed by two German robotics engineers. The Ur-robot band of them all, the classic Kraftwerk, also came from Germany. One of their songs had the title, The Robots, and the band was so identified with the robot aesthetic that one member even gave his autobiography the title, I Was a Robot. Kraftwerk were one of the pioneers of the use of synthesizers in rock music, and based their robotic image on their use of the instrument and the new, electronic music it could generate. I also read somewhere that one of the other forms of electronic music, Techno, has its ultimate origins way back in the 1930s in one of Arthur C. Clarke’s predictions, this time of what the music of the future would be like.

Kraftwerk themselves were, of course, entirely flesh and blood, despite the title of the autobiography, though their uniform clothing and static immobility does indeed make them almost android-like themselves in performance.. For the Mix tour, however, they had robot copies of themselves constructed, which were programmed to respond to the music in ‘The Robots’. You can’t call it dancing – the machines really don’t have any legs, and just seem to be waving their metal arms around. Despite this, it is an interesting attempt to realise the robotic aesthetic the band expressed in their music. As an aside, the lyrics for ‘Robots’ include two lines of Russian. One of these, pronounced ‘Ya tvoi robotnik’, simply means ‘I am your worker’. ‘Robotnik’ comes from the word ‘robotatch’, to work, and is related to the Czech word, ‘robot’, which itself means ‘serf’ or ‘slave’, which Karel Capek used for the artificial humans in his classic play Rossum’s Universal Robots, and which then entered the English language to describe such machines.

Here’s Kraftwerk’s ‘Robots’ with their robotic dancing . I hope you enjoy it. The video’s on youtube at

Happy 4th of July to all my American Readers

July 4, 2013

This is just to wish the American readers of my blog and their families a happy 4th of July. Hope you have a great time celebrating the birth of your country and the beginnings of its democratic governance!

Gordon’s Alive! Vultan to Fly Aboard the International Space Station?

June 29, 2013

The stentorian voiced cult actor, mountaineer and one-man dynamo of fun Brian Blessed was on Russel Howard’s Good News on Thursday. The Dynamite Kid had been in the news that week for punching out a polar bear when it invaded his expeditions tent up in the arctic. In the chaos of the bear’s attack, Blessed retaliated by punching the bear on the nose. To his immense surprise, it ran off. Blessed is a veteran actor, who had been in a number of classic TV roles such as I, Claudius and Z Cars and as the king in the very first Blackadder series waaaay back in in 1983. He was also Vultan in Dino de Laurentiis remake of Flash Gordon, a film which the Fortean Times described as ‘camper than your gay uncle’s dressing up box’. His best known line from that movie is his cry of ‘Gordon’s Alive!’. He now repeats this whenever he appears as a guest on TV, to the huge delight of the audience.

There are deeper aspects to him beyond the exuberance and the over-acting. He supports an animal charity and said that he has about 3,000 animals. He’s also a Christian, who gave a brilliant defence of his faith on Radio 4 one morning. The son of a Durham miner, he is also quite left-wing politically. Talking to Howard, he mentioned that he’d just completed astronaut training at the Russian Zvesdny Gorodok, or Star City and was now the stand-in for the voyage to the International Space Station sometime next year. He was immensely proud of this, as he was 74. ‘Follow your dreams!’ bellowed the great man. It wouldn’t be the first time Blessed has ventured into space, if only in the confines of the TV studio. Apart from Vultan, he has always wanted to play Dr. Who. He had the role of an alien warrior king – also with a loud voice and lots of shouting – in the Colin Baker Dr. Who serial, ‘Mindwarp’. If all goes well, he’ll be travelling into space for real. Will the ISS’ intrepid crew be able to take it! Remember, in space, the whole cosmos can hear you scream ‘GORDON’S ALIVE!!!!!!’

Spinal Tap and Science on BBC Radio

June 18, 2009

This is just a couple of notices about a few items on the radio next week that people might find interesting.

Firstly, 80s rockers Spinal Tap are on BBC Radio 2 at 10.00 pm Saturday night, 20th June 2009, on the programme Back from the Dead: the Retu of 187 ap. The real-life documentary-maker, writer, and failed drummer, Peter Curran, is interviewing the three mock Rock legends, David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean), Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest) and Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer) about the launch of their new album, Back from the Dead, which really is being launched, and the accompanying tour. The BBC Radio Times for next week also includes a piece of mock, Rock journalist interviews with them. The mock rockumentary, This Is Spinal Tap is one of the classic rock films, so the programme this Saturday could be fun.

Also, next week from Monday to Friday on BBC 3 at 11.00 pm, there’s a series on great scientific experiments, The Essay: Strange Encounters. Tuesday’s programme is on the great solar storm of 1859, which produced spectacular displays of aurora and knocked out the emerging telegraph service all over the world. Wednesday’s programme is on Peyton Rous’ experiments that demonstrated that cancer can be caused by viruses. Thursday is about the discovery of radio waves by Heinrich Hertz. Friday is on the great ‘flu pandemic of 1918. The first programme, on Monday, is particularly interesting as it’s on the search for spontaneously generated life in 17th century Tuscany.