Goddamn it Livejournal

The one thing I still liked about LJ was that it had all the posts from my friends in date order going back as far as I liked. It now seems that it only goes back 40 posts.


Bad luck

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

This is known as "bad luck."

Steam Account

I set up a Steam account to play Portal 2 this weekend, and preordered the game. I left the password at work and the machine it's on is off due to a powercut, but no worry, I'll just reset the password.

However their password reset hasn't worked (trying since Thursday) and they have not responded to my support request (after having tons of hoops to jump through on the site)

So I just want to make sure people know they suck. Don't use Steam. I would criticise their customer service, but they don't actually appear to have any. Seriously, fuck those guys.

Stag Night Pranks

I promised to tell you who invented the stag night prank, although I'm suprprised you've not figured it out yourself.

It was werewolves. It's obvious, in retrospect, ain't it?

When you wake up naked miles from home you've got to justify yourself to curious people. At some point, a few hundred years ago, some werewolf hit on the story that it was a cruel prank played on him by friends, and would you be good enough to loan him a shirt? This wasn't that convincing, mind you, as it's a pretty extreme kind of prank, and people more often than not assumed that it was revenge for some unpleasantness he'd been guilty of, so it didn't really fit the bill, not quite.

So the story was modified to the effect that in his village (the name of which he dare not devulge out of fear of further and harsher pranking) had a tradition of doing this to men who were about to be married. The once-in-a-lifetime prank story held more water, and he used it whenever he had to, moving around and sometimes sharing the story with others of his kind if met under friendly circumstances.

He's long dead of course, but it's nice to think he was commemorated in a weird way when humans continued the meme for real, not realising its origins as a lycanthropic blag.

I don't know for sure if the name "Stag Night" is related, but I'm sure you can guess the way my thinking goes on that.

Anyway, hopefully last weekends events should now make a little more sense. See you at the wedding.



0. The Fool

1. The Magician

2. The High Priestess

3. The Empress

4. The Emperor

5. The Hierophant

6. The Lovers

7. The Chariot

8. Strength

9. The Hermit

10. Wheel of Fortune - no picture, so here's a picture of a fish instead.

11. Justice

12. The Hanged Man

13. Death

14. Temperance

15. The Devil

16. The Tower

17. The Star

18. The Moon

19. The Sun

20. Judgement

21. The World

Girls vs Boys

After a huge amount of the usual internet crap, one of the saner female contributors produced the great line, with regards to metrosexuals: "But on the whole, I think the vast majority of women over the age of 15 would probably rather get banged by Aragorn than by Legolas."

Actually LOL. In the old meaning of the word.

More on Sci Fi Characters

I've been reading a large number of very heated opinions on gender targeting in science fiction, and am pretty appalled that the first place many responses went to was to comment on lack of sexual prowess of the poster. His post wasn't great, but the appalling number of insults from women which he received is utterly unacceptable behavior.

In the comment thread, one poster comments that he plans to hold his teenage daughter to the same level of accountability in her actions and lifestyle as his son. Not let her get away with stuff because she's a girl. He gets panned for this, and has his ability to parent questioned -- WTF?

I should probably just learn to stop reading comments on blog posts.

I think the entire flame war could have been avoided if the blog post has avoided blaming women for what TV execs did to try and make shows appeal to them.

When I look back on my book collection it's almost all male authors (or at least male pen names), and I know many of them are white. I can't think of any I know to have other skin colours, but it never occurred to me to check. I don't ever recall passing over a book because it had a girls name on, but a lilac spine is a big no-no, with the possible exception of Saga of the Exiles (was Julian May a woman?... quick wikipedia search says yes), which I read at about 14. I read sci-fi because I love the ideas. When an idea is actually presented with a side-salad of scientific understanding it is far more interesting. The conjoiners and demarchists from whatever series they come from are a really interesting bit of sci-fi. The Borg are touted as original, but look an awful lot like cybermen to me. Probably that's all just a metaphor for evangelical religions.

I should probably avoid getting too uptight about the blogosphere gender arguments. It appears to be already bogged into trench warfare. Nobody is ever going to convince anyone of anything as they all seem to believe things already. Not a good starting point.

Role Models in Science Fiction

I've been considering the lack of scientist/engineer role models in current TV science fiction.

This is in response to some discussions about how TV sci-fi is now just good-looking people kicking ass (all fine and good), but it doesn't inspire the next generation.

I think the strongest science/engineer characters (as role models for future generations) are currently in

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bones_(TV_series) -- crime drama
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregory_House -- medical drama
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criminal_Minds -- crime drama
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fringe_(TV_series) -- actual scifi (albiet wrapped up as a crime drama)
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lie_to_Me -- crime drama

I mean characters who actually advance the plot by being smart and educated.

In the current culture, science heroes use it for forensics and diagnostics. Fringe being a bit of an exception to the rule.

BSG and Heroes both have scientists as foolish meddlers, or selfish and craven. These are not aspirational. Sarah Conner, yeah, not really a show to make people want to be scientists when it's another Frankenstein do-over. Dollhouse is pretty much the same, the scientist is foolish, craven and deeply lonely. Not an aspirational character at all.

Star Gate & Star Gate Atlantis were OK for showing scientists in a generally good light, the new Battle StarGate: Voyager looks up in the air, as there's two science leads, the old arrogant guy, and the fresh faced maths prodigy gamer dude.

The new Dr Who generally casts scientists as the villain or fool, and every day man on the Clapham omnibus as the heroes. (and the doctor, who's still quite pro-science and discovery, at least).

So sadly it seems the best scientist role model in modern TV Science Fiction is the crazy guy who experimented on children and makes LSD in the lab, when bored.

Thinking of the Matrix (10 years old now); Yes, Neo was a computer programmer, but he rapidly discovers he's the chosen one and has magic powers (Harry Potter/Luke Skywalker/Jesus/Paul Atreides/Buffy etc). I have a real issue with the Hero's Journey being so prevalent in modern fiction, as it implies that you should sit around waiting for your life to start. Han's the hero, he's the guy who has a choice. Puppets of destiny are not inspiring. I love a book I read recently for having the chosen one give up and go home and her mate saves the city instead; because it needed to be done and nobody else was doing it. Now that's inspirational.

Without Spock and Avon it looks like the next generation will aspire to be forensic analysts. I admit these might not have been the most emotionally developed of role models, but in our old age, our doctors will be those kids who got inspired by Dr Cox & Dr House.