An Alternative New Year’s Message

As we move from the arbitrary year of 2010 to the following arbitrary year of 2011, I would like to take this moment to reflect on what has happened and look to the year ahead. This year has thankfully not seen the rise of the dead or the recently dead to stalk this Earth. No crazy ass monkeys have broken out of containment at animal testing centres in order to bite and poop on the general populace and cause them to cause mayhem on our streets.

That’s right, we’ve managed to go through another year without a zombie apocalypse falling down upon us.

Ummmm, brains...

However, 2011 will only see our continuing avoidance of being knee deep in spleens, intestines and extra mushy brains if we remember one simple thing:

Constant Vigilance.

So keep your eyes open, ears clear, survival plans always to hand, bags constantly packed, hideouts picked, tins and tin openers ready, cricket bats primed and escape vehicles oiled. Constant Vigilance.

And so, as we move on to the next space of time denoted by something approximating 365 days, I wish you a Happy New Year and the hope that during 2011 the closest any of us comes to a zombie is a videogame or a George A. Romero film.

I have a Kindle

Please don't judge me by my choice of reading material...

I’ve been busy reading and watching my Christmas presents since last week. The gift of an Amazon Kindle has made my current backlog list become extremely outdated. Then the addition of games and DVDs… yeah I’m not going to be getting bored any time soon.

The title featured in the above picture is The Psychology of Serial Killer Investigations: The Grisly Business Unit by Robert D. Keppel and William J. Birnes. It may be pretty grim reading, but it’s part of my general ongoing research to help with my graphic novel and scriptwriting. I have nicer titles on there like the Complete Works of Jane Austen and Ubik by Philip K. Dick.

Anyway, I recently finished watching Millennium due to being given the third, and final, season on DVD for Xmas. It was brilliant and it’s a shame that the series was cancelled. However, I think the time is ripe to bring back Frank as demonstrated by the dedication of the team behind BacktoFrankBlack.com.

Enough of my fan obsessiveness for now. I’ll be updating The Backlog in the coming weeks. And no, I haven’t finished playing Resonance of Fate yet.

Want to block porn? Actually look after your own kids

As I don't want to end up in trouble for posting an image of some pussy, here's a puppy instead

In these trying times, y’know, when an economy sucks ass and every little right-wing worm seems to be crawling out of the woodwork, it’s sometimes difficult to keep your cool. But I’ll try as I talk about porn on the internet.

Some right-wing Christians who are blatantly sickened by anything to do with sex, are trying to get internet pornography access in the UK completely blocked at source. With a mainly Conservative led government at the moment, it’s unsurprising that the likes of Ed Vaizey are listening to twits like Miranda Suit.

The ability that technology provides today for parents to block access to pornography on the family computer or a child’s own computer is far improved on what existed ten years ago. Seriously. You want to stop your kids getting at porn, you just need to set up things like Microsoft’s Family Security Centre and/or popular PC security software such as McAfee or Norton. So long as you don’t leave passwords laying around, and occasionally pay attention to what your kids are doing, there’s more than a slim chance that the kids will be alright.

If you’re now saying, “Oh, but what about mobile phones?” The simple answer to that is to be the one who sets up your child’s phone account and put restrictive PINs on content access rights. The virtual equivalent of putting the matches on a high, unreachable shelf. Or don’t buy them a phone with decent internet access.

Basically, if you want to ensure that children don’t have access to pornography: be a good parent and do some parenting rather than leaving electronics to raise your child. If you don’t even bother to take steps to ensure that your child is protected from such content, I do not see why the rest of the country needs to pay for your own idiotic laziness.

But blocking porn websites won’t do sweet f-all when you consider that the majority of pornography that makes it’s way into the hands of teens comes from access to P2P (Peer to Peer) software. Again, this is where bothering to set up restrictions on the family computer is the way to go.

And if your child is capable of circumventing everything that you set up on your PC, without even stealing your passwords, quite frankly: your child looking at porn is the least of your problems.

Graphic Novel Update

A founding language (Sanskrit) just happens to make an appearance in the graphic novel

I spent last weekend swimming in a world that I hadn’t been close to since July. It was a slightly weird experience, because my head started going into plotting and characterisation overload, finding new ways to lead the reader astray and rewarding them with a greater understanding of the important characters in the story, without going over the top.

As this is my current big project that I’m trying to get somewhere with, I was surprised to receive, yesterday, an e-mail for a film script that I’d written for my MA that had gone to an agency, but it now seems had got lost in their system. I had an apology for the late reply, confirmed what I had already suspected – that my SF script from last year was not something they were unable to get behind at this time.

And they gave a hint as to how it could be improved, but I’m unlikely to take up their advice in the meantime as that was a project that I am no longer hugely concerned with. If I was to ever go back to it, a lot of it would change (it seems like a really immature storyline compared to when I first wrote it), and I would certainly improve the dialogue as the agency suggested. But I don’t see me going back to it any time soon.

Anyway, the graphic novel has reached a stage where I’m still redrafting. A lot of revisions have happened since this last update on my graphic novel. I’ve made quite a few changes and in the next twenty four hours I will be undertaking the task of printing out its massive one hundred and twenty one sides of A4 in order to get down to some really nitty-gritty editing and redrafting.

However, I expect to be doing something big with it after the New Year, whether or not I have an artist behind me.

Misconception of the Conception

Festivals at this time of year are all about making it through a really crappy time for survival

The seasonal ranters and ravers, supposed Christians (but you’re unlikely to see them in Church every Sunday, let alone saying thanks for anything), have begun the usual “They’re trying to destroy Christmas, etc, etc…” It keeps coming back every year, made more ferocious by the ability of the Internet these days to be a tool for spreading petty insidious rumours and lies.

I’m getting more fed up with this hate-mongering than I am with the insistence of retailers to begin pushing Xmas stock earlier and earlier each year. Things can get pretty dire in the UK, in the month of December, if you have any real notion as to how European culture has evolved since the Neolithic age. You hear the rabid claims that “they’re” turning “Christmas” into “Winter Festival”, the word holiday somehow breaks into the fray (supposedly) even though at this time of year the majority of the population of a place like the UK are indeed collectively experiencing some holiday time.

Y’know the usual shtick. It’s appearing all over Facebook already and coming to a Sun newspaper near you. This webcomic strip explains it perfectly:

Click on image to visit the strip from This Modern World and view it properly

And then there falls in the idea, to back up these claims, that this is a “Christian Country”, which is actually kind of incorrect. At least if you consider how Christianity was forced on the people of this country during the last thousand plus years or so. I think some Druids may have an issue with the notion that this is a Christian country or kingdom, as they were here first.

(And as an atheist, I think it’s all bull, and would like to point out that until you learn a language, you have no faith, as faith as we define it as is expressed only in language. Babies may have notions of food givers and stuff, but most probably don’t think boobies are a god or gods. I certainly had no notion of God until relatives began trying to induct me into Christianity when I could speak a bit.)

Anyway, to the title of this entry: Misconception of the Conception. It is generally suspected that Jesus was not born on the 25th December, maybe conceived on that day, but not born. This Christian site has a reasonable explanation of the matter. So Christians should probably be celebrating his conception round about now (and no exact dates are known for any of this), rather than his birth, the anniversary of which probably occurred at some point during the latter half of September.

So, why am I annoyed about some “Christians” (and I am using the term loosely here) claiming Christmas is being trodden over something horrid? How does this tie in to the development of European culture? Consider that winter is a really crap time of year for any people that live in a place where the world around them almost dies, food is hard to come by, and it’s damn difficult to stay warm – Europe – essentially anywhere north of the Equator in December, etc. (That’s a lot of countries.)

This was a really, really crap time of year for our ancestors that were here (in what we now call the United Kingdom) even before Jesus was born. Like so many festivals that we know a lot about (because they’re from major religions that haven’t been killed off by others) there are festivals from multiple faiths that happen in the depths of winter. As a species, a social one at that, it makes sense for us to get together when the natural world is hating on us and to try and make ourselves feel better. Religion just adds another reason and a structure around which this getting together happens.

The point: people in European countries and beyond, north of the Equator, have been having winter festivals for millennia. Christianity, when it finally came that way, had to adapt itself to these festivals in order to gain popularity. And when you consider the number of current and past faiths that have celebrations around the time of the Winter Solstice – a festival to see us through the bleakest time of the year makes sense.

In conclusion: Winter was here long before Christmas.