Though I do have the whole "super moon" phenomenon to thank for giving me one of my favorite tags/themes in my life these past couple of years: Pay attention. The universe is always this amazing. So don't hate the super moon now as much as I did then.
Of course no one can always pay attention to everything. I love astronomy at the expense of most other things. Humans have had to invent boredom because we can't hope to so much as get out of bed in the morning without filtering out the vast part of the streaming inputs that are our senses, memories and consciousness. We have to consider most things routine, irrelevant, unchanged or otherwise ignorable just to be able to function.
There are truly awful things happening in the world all the time. You can overwhelm yourself with them any time you care to look for them. So it's a damn good thing there are also so many wonderful things in the world that you can immerse yourself in those.
I may not stop to smell roses, but I really do stop dead in my tracks to admire the Moon, whenever it catches my eye. I love the Moon.
Why love the Moon? I've sometimes wondered. It's just there. It doesn't need me to love it.
Without it, we wouldn't even be here. Four billion years ago, a planet the size of Mars crashed into the young Earth, and the debris, blasted into space, became our singular, eponymous Moon, created from rocks intimately similar to and yet for good reasons different from Earth's own composition. The nascent Moon then shielded the young Earth from further bombardment. The Moon also slowed Earth's spin so that our day lasts not five but 24 hours, while the pull of lunar gravity created the tides whose ebb and flow were crucial to the development of the first life forms.
The Moon's religious and artistic connotations in nearly every culture demonstrate how fundamental it's been to people for as long as there have been people.
Even now, the Moon looks after us, keeping the Earth's axis at 23 degrees so we can enjoy the seasons instead of enduring extremes of heat and cold. A full Moon let people venture out at night before streetlamps (thus naming the Lunar Society, a gathering of early scientific thinkers in England who met at the full Moon to allow its members to stay out late pondering natural philosophy, and still be safe to walk home afterwards).
The Moon is the only place other than the Earth where humans have been, so far. My dad's told me that after the Moon landing he went out to look at the familar disk in the sky and thought "there are people walking around up there," an extraordinary thing to be able to think.
The Moon doesn't need me to love it, true, but I need me to love it. Or at least, I feel a lot better when I'm thinking about how loveable it is, and how nice it is that it's always there. In a city, where every star is lost in the brorange (brown-orange) sky, where the grandeur of galaxies is hidden, where the meteor showers are missing, the Moon persists. The Moon endures.
I shouldn't be so bitter to those who only get excited about the Moon every now and then. Better to have them on my team a bit than not at all.
And speaking of assholes.... Darrell Issa is a little pissed that Elijah Cummings released one of the full transcripts of the IRS investigations. Because... something. I don't know. Issa's just an asshole.
And... How many assholes have we got on this ship, anyhow?
This is all first-draft stuff. I’m getting the story out in these blog posts. Prose style can come later.
“Don’t be daft. The Nastons could easily beat the Vejorans! The Vejorans don’t even have arms, just those tentacle things!”
“Yeah, well, the Vejorans have their anti-networking shields, which would stop the Nastons connecting to their hive-mind, and they’d all just turn into lumps of jelly!”
Holly, sat at the back of the coach, on her own as usual, sighed. She knew that actually the Nastons could never fight the Vejorans, because both species were from opposite ends of the timestream, and neither had time-travel capability, but if she tried to tell any of the boys that, they’d just say that The Temponauts was for boys, and that girls didn’t know anything about it.
She’d tried telling them that the first episode of The Temponauts, in 1968, had been directed by a woman, Trudy Dean, and that lots of women wrote for Trans-Temporal Times, the magazine for Temponauts fans, but they’d just told her to shut up, and that she was strange.
Holly had asked her mum if boys stopped being so obnoxious once you got into big school, and her mum had thought for quite a while before saying “No…no, I’m afraid they don’t.”
Holly had resolved then and there that she was going to have as little to do with boys as possible in the future. Unfortunately, the girls were just as bad.
Luckily, she had her books, and TV, and especially The Temponauts. And today was going to be a good day. The class were going on a school trip to the Media Museum in Bradford.
Holly had been there before, with her mum, and it had been one of the best days of her life. They had the real Wallace and Gromit there, and a Dalek, and the skellingtons from the great film she’d seen on TV one bank holiday, but best of all they had an original Naston shell!
Yes, today was going to be a good day, and Holly wasn’t going to let any stupid boys who didn’t know anything about time travel spoil it.
The coach pulled up, and everyone went through the sliding doors, and most of the kids ran straight to the gift shop, but eventually Miss Brown managed to get them all together, and up the stairs, where a staff member was waiting for them.
The lady, whose name was Sarah, showed them round all the things Holly had seen when she’d been there before, but she was just as excited. There was a puppet that had been on the first ever TV show, and a TV that looked just like a space helmet, and so many interesting things she could easily spend a week there.
But then Sarah asked a strange question.
“Who knows what film is?”
Phil Jobling, the stupid kid who liked to beat up anyone cleverer and slower than him, said “Everyone knows that! A film’s like a TV show, but longer, and sometimes they show them in a cinema!”
“Well, yes…but I didn’t ask what a film is. Does anyone here know what film is?”
The kids all shook their heads, except for Phil Jobling, who just scowled.
Sarah pulled a thin piece of plastic out of her pocket.
“Take a look at this,” she said, and passed it to Holly — who was always at the front when there was something interesting happening, just like she was always at the back when there wasn’t. Holly looked at it. It was a long strip of transparent plastic, but there were a lot of very, very small photos printed on it. At first she thought they were all the same, but as she looked closer she could tell they were very slightly different.
“Pass it round,” Sarah said, and Holly obediently passed it on, wondering what it was.
“Film,” said Sarah, “is what we had before DVDs — even before video tapes, if any of you have ever seen those. What happens is a camera takes a lot of pictures, very fast — twenty-four of them a second — and then they’re printed onto a see-through strip. When you shine a light through the strip, and you project the pictures on to a screen, then if you move the pictures past the light twenty-four times a second, it looks like the picture is moving.”
Sarah then brought the children through and showed them a toy that you could spin, called a zoetrope, that did the same thing as a film, so you could see the drawings in it move.
Holly had never been so excited. So this was what film was! She’d read in some issues of Trans-Temporal Times about old episodes of The Temponauts being “shot on film”, but she’d always thought that was another way of saying they were as long as films. But this was great! Film was so much cooler than boring old DVDs and streaming videos — you could see all the separate pictures that made it up!
Holly wondered if you could make new films by cutting old ones up and sticking bits of them together, or what happened if you put the pictures in backwards — would the story go backwards too? Could you draw your own extra pictures on the film?
Clearly, this would require some investigation.
When Holly got home that evening, she rushed to the computer, and looked up “film” on Wikipedia. She called her mum over.
“Look at this!” she said, “there’s this thing called film, which is like DVDs, but you can actually look at the pictures on it! Not with a DVD player, but just by looking at it. It’s amazing!”
“I do know what film is, young lady,” her mum laughed. “Your granddad used to have a load of old films, and an expensive projector.”
“What happened to it?”
“Oh, he’s probably still got it, but you know your granddad, he gets obsessed by stuff for a few months, then he sticks it up in the attic. It’s like when he got that hovercraft.”
“What’s a hovercraft?”
And the conversation moved on, as conversations often do, to other subjects. But all that night Holly could think about very little except going to see her grandfather, and seeing if he still had that projector. And her dreams that night were of a series of tiny transparent pictures, and all the secrets they might hold.
Tagged: how to build your own time machine
I started writing this on my own laptop at Gatwick Airport, and finished it using the wifi on a Norwegian flight. I booked the ticket myself, online. I sorted out the boarding pass myself, using data I had saved myself in iCal. I bought the train ticket to the airport with my own credit card, having first checked the train times on my mobile, and having worked out the best way to the station using Google Maps. My mobile internet, and where it does and does not work well, is something I personally know, because I use it and pay for it myself.
For close to 100% of the people reading this blog post, what I’ve outlined above (or at least parts of it) are everyday and normal, and have become more and more normal since the internet went mainstream in Europe in the 1990s.
Yet for Angela Merkel this world is absolutely not normal. Today she said “Das Internet ist für uns alle Neuland” (roughly translated as “The Internet is all new territory for us”). An explanation of how far it went can be found here (in English), and techPresident has a roundup, and further clarification of sorts can be found from her spokesperson in German here.
Merkel’s line, whether you believe the clarification or not, still frames the internet as something external to us. Sorry Merkel, but it is us. What she has failed to understand is that the internet changes us deeply and profoundly as citizens, and that applies to the millions of us that use the internet to do everything in our lives. And no, this is not nerds alone – more than half of phones sold are now smartphones, and more than half of populations of European countries access the net daily. A connected population is a deep political and social shift: we can do things as individuals that we would have before needed hierarchies or meetings or phone calls to accomplish.
To put it another way, it’s the whatever-the-problem-there’s-Google-or-T
There’s also an element of 21st century Yes, Minister to all of this too. When working for a politician in Brussels a few years ago, my fellow employees and I feared what would happen were our boss to actually be using the internet herself, so we expressly kept her away from it. This, I fear, is what has happened to Merkel – she has never been forced to be a user, to be forced to personally and deeply come to understand what complete connectedness means as a person. More worrying is that it would not take a genius to realise her line would cause a furore, and yet none of her staff were either astute enough, or strong enough, to make sure she did not say it.
This is not about the technology as such. You could not sit Merkel (or others of her ilk) in front of a computer or tablet and teach them. Or send them to a conference to listen to the major issues at stake about the future of the net. None of that would help. The problem is a deeper one than that: what does it mean – as a person, as an individual – to be a connected citizen? And how do we get more of those sorts of people into positions of power?
(I’ll add a picture to the blog entry later on – Norwegian’s in flight wifi can’t cope with Flickr!)
(I had not realised quite what happened in 1969; but from the Methodist point of view it seems to have felt much like what happened in November. I do not want to have to be angry about not having women bishops until 2056. Dear Church of England: why so full of arseholes? Or, rather, why so anxious to pay attention to the arseholes?)
Also very informative from a historical point of view. History of Church in England: all more complicated; who'da thunk it? (Particularly amused by the pamphlet by the Bishop of Exeter in seventeenwhatever that Methodists were simply a New Sort of Roman Catholic...)
Things to ponder:
- coffee was really useful this afternoon. I should have tried coffee earlier in the week.
- I really cannot count Sunday as my day of rest, because I spend four hours of an average Sunday Doing Stuff, and even though it's stuff I enjoy it wears me out. So I must be more careful with Saturdays.
- this is not going to be very easy, because there is a wedding this weekend, a committee meeting I'd forgotten about next weekend, and MOAR SINGING the weekend after, though I think that's all on the Sunday.
- everything I have decided to do has turned out to be a good thing to have done (tonight particularly) and everything I have decided not to do has turned out - well, I don't know, because I didn't do it; but staying at home has also turned out to be a good move, when I've done that.
- I am still thinking about the angels with umbrellas (this is a Camino thing, with possible application to life in general)
Also I am really looking forward to the wedding this weekend, and that's good, because I was worrying about being too wiped out to enjoy it.
I see lots of stories made up of handwringing over the “obesity paradox”, normally presented as saying that even though obesity is a risk factor for all kinds of diseases, obese people appear to have lower mortality than others. A typical finding is the one reported here
being overweight or slightly obese was linked to about a 6 percent lower risk of dying, compared to people considered “normal weight. Being severely obese, however, was still tied to an almost 30 percent higher risk of death.
People are tying themselves in knots over this, but it doesn’t seem to me that there is any paradox to be explained. The obvious reading of the data is that the Body Mass Index.1 ranges used for the various categories (20-25 Normal, 25-30 Overweight etc) were set a bit too low when they were originally estimated, or rather, guessed. From my quick look at the data, if you bumped the ranges up by a couple of points, the paradox would disappear. People at the bottom of the current normal range, who tend to have high mortality, would be classed as underweight, while those currently classed as slightly overweight would be reclassified as normal, and so on.
Am I missing something?
This point is logically separate from the general problems of the BMI, regarding muscle mass and so on. ↩
Are you coming to CONvergence? Planning to wear one or several amazing costumes? Then you and a friend should seriously consider bidding on this auction to commemorate your cosplay with professional quality photographs.
Nothing sucks more than to wear your best costume to-date only to have your photos turn out crappy or even so-so, because you really can’t go back. You can put it on again at home, but it’s just not the same.
Jamie (aka UAJamie, the Skeptical Ninja) is offering to do a half-hour photo shoot for you and a friend, complete with costume changes, at CONvergence (July 4-7). Jamie has taken some brilliant photos in the past, not only at cons but throughout the Obama campaign.
The featured photo is an example of her work. See more photos and auction details here.
If you can’t make it to CONvergence, this would still make an awesome gift for someone!
The auction ends at 9 pm eastern this Sunday, June 23.
As with our previous auctions, the proceeds go entirely to SkepchickCon. If these auctions don’t interest you but you’d still like to help out, please check out the donations widget over at skepchickcon.com.
We welcome donated items and services to put up on eBay as well as ideas for other causes and events that might benefit from future fundraising auctions. Contact us with your donation ideas or cause suggestions!
OK, I knew that Before Watchmen was terrible — I wrote about it myself, and then there’s the Hooded Utilitarian’s two-part evisceration, but until I read this by Calamity Jon Morris, I didn’t realise just how utterly appalling it was.
I mean, as Jon points out, the whole “terrible superhero auditions” thing is a cliché anyway, but seriously? “I’m The Slut. I like to take off my clothes and do things.”
That’s something that a professional, Eisner-award-winning, comics writer thought would add to the most acclaimed work in his medium. Darwyn Cooke — a man who is, let us not forget, a grown adult, who has been out of school for. we must presume, several decades, thought Watchmen — a formal masterpiece based around themes of free will, predestination, power and responsibility — would have been better if there was a joke superhero who called herself “the Slut”.
Eisner award winning Darwyn Cooke there, ladies and gentlemen…
Tagged: before watchmen, comics, darwyn cooke
Country diary: Crook, County Durham: Orange tip butterflies are so fragile, yet survive violent rainJun. 5th, 2013 11:00 pm
Crook, County Durham: It will not open its wings until the rain clouds have passed. Only the return of sunlight will revive it
The rain relented, but not before the ragged edges of departing clouds had delivered a last, ferocious downpour, beating flowers beside the footpath into submission, leaving tall grasses flattened, stitchwort bedraggled and cow parsley umbels bowed under the bombardment.
It was by pure chance that we spotted the exquisitely camouflaged orange tip butterfly, roosting on a saturated lady's smock flower head with wings tight closed – every green, white and golden wing scale miraculously, immaculately intact. How had it survived, when one direct hit from a raindrop travelling at terminal velocity might have bludgeoned it into the wet grass?
Other butterflies shelter from rain under leaves but orange tips often seem to choose to perch in the open, on flowers exposed to the full force of the downpour. I've several times watched their behaviour change when dark clouds begin to slide across the sun and the temperature drops, even before the first raindrops patter on the leaves. They are natural barometers in showery weather, settling on a flower, folding their wings tightly, aligning their antennae with the long axis of their body and presenting the smallest possible target to the oncoming threat.
When the shower has passed I have invariably found the butterfly unharmed. Poke one of these torpid orange tips gently and it will not stir, even though it might have been zigzagging through the flowers a few minutes earlier. Be more persistent and it might climb on to your finger, but it will not open its wings until the rain clouds have passed. Only the return of sunlight and warmth will revive it. Butterflies are the epitome of fragility and yet the behaviour of this species, when a sudden spring squall sent us running for the shelter of the trees, raised questions. Could it be that its ethereal lightness is the key to its survival, such that the rush of air ahead of a falling raindrop pushes it aside just enough to avoid a fatal impact?
Home of the web’s best political conversation
Why not relax, and converse into the night on the day’s events in PB NightHawks, which is Open All Night.
If you’ve always been a lurker, why not delurk tonight, it’ll be Glory Days for you, once you start posting.
The round up of recent events (click on the links below, and it will bring up the relevant story)
- George Osborne ready to sell taxpayers’ stake in Lloyds Banking Group
- Alex Salmond on his youth jobs right, the bedroom tax and why he will win
- Were Boris Johnson, who was Born in the USA, became Tory Leader, the Tories would go up from 30% to 36% according to this yougov analysis
- 5 ex-ministers Miliband could put in the Shadow Cabinet
- Labour is headed for trouble in next week’s spending review
- There was nothing wrong with fiscal policy under Labour, says top economics prof
- Will the real Ed Miliband please stand up?
- How to write a Dan Hodges column: a step by step guide
- How China bought Britain
- Smokers are ‘drug addicts’, says public health minister Anna Soubry
David Walliams: ‘I flicked David Cameron’s hair like in Little Britain’
- PMQs review: Cameron wrong foots Miliband on the banks
- Bankers banged up? They need to return to planet Earth first says Polly Toynbee
- Britain’s soft power is greater than Gangnam Style – so appreciate it
- Nigel Farage targets Scotland with boast of success in European elections
- The leader of the Scottish Conservatives was refused alcohol at a Bruce Springsteen concert - because the barman did not believe she was over 18.
- A rail company is offering one couple a chance to get married on a train
For now at least (book three will come early next year), I can start on the next project. I’m going to try to write, and serialise, a “young adult” book on here over the next few weeks.
As with all my projects, it may fizzle out, or it may be great.
While the first chapter (later tonight) may seem topical, I actually had the idea a little while back (I emailed a few people about it at the time).
So, in an hour or two, look for chapter one of How To Build Your Own Time Machine
From The Guardian:
The ability of big business to deploy armies of lawyers to prevent regulators from introducing consumer-friendly measures will be curbed under proposals published by the government on Wednesday.
The Business minister, Jo Swinson, is proposing a streamlined appeals system for challenging decisions by the UK’s economic regulators, which include Ofcom, the Competition Commission, Ofwat and the Office of the Rail Regulator.
Over the last five years there have been more than 50 appeals of regulatory and competition decisions.Legal challenges have caused delays to the 4G telecoms auction, tied up Welsh utility Albion Water in five years of appeals, and dragged Ofcom and BSkyB into a five year battle over pay-TV pricing.
“Under the current system, every penny one of the incumbent companies spends on lawyers and delaying change is money well spent,” said a telecoms industry source. “There is a massive incentive to unpick decisions through technicalities.”
Jo said when she announced the consultation, which will run until September this year:
The UK’s appeal rules work well and we have a world-class framework in place. But we also recognise that there is room for improvement to support growth.
It is only right that firms can hold regulators and competition authorities to account when they think the wrong decision has been reached. But it is in nobody’s interest that appeals end up being unnecessarily lengthy and costly.
A new streamlined system will mean that businesses see their appeals sorted quicker and that they and regulators spend less time and legal resources on disputes. Reduced delays will help build a stronger economy and provide better outcomes for consumers.
This one made me think a bit about my prejudices. If Theresa May announced a streamlining of the immigration appeals process, I’d be up in arms, but because it’s Jo Swinson curbing the excesses of big business, I can’t see too much wrong with it. Of course, the very real concerns of asylum seekers and families seeking to bring their loved ones to this country, and the ability of the UK Border Agency to get it spectacularly wrong make me worry about any attempt to diminish the rights of people who are already pretty powerless. Large corporations trying to renege on their obligations to their consumers, on the other hand, do not attract quite so much of my compassion.
Every decision maker has to be held to account and every decision maker will get things wrong, but it shouldn’t take years of expensive legal limbo to sort it all out. I can’t quite see how they will get all the appeals done in 12 weeks, though. The Competition Appeals Tribunal currently aims to complete appeals on “straightforward” cases in 9 months. There’s an organisation that’s going to get a bit of a culture change if this goes ahead…
* Caron Lindsay is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings
So as I expected this morning (Commission backs Lloyds as first privatisation), the chancellor is today in his Mansion House speech firing the starting gun on privatisation of a big chunk of Lloyds before the election, and signalling that RBS is unlikely to see shares sold to private-sector investors till the next parliament.
On Lloyds, the first part of the privatisation could literally happen any day, although I don't expect it till the autumn.
The chancellor has decided that the initial tranche, worth presumably a couple of billion pounds or so, will be sold to investment institutions rather than retail investors.
That means a lengthy prospectus does not need to be prepared, but the shares can be placed in the market at a time of the chancellor's choosing.
However there is likely to be an opportunity for retail investors to buy the shares, but at a later date.
As for RBS, George Osborne doesn't believe it will be in a state to sell to investors till after mid 2015, which is when the coalition says it will go to the country.
Partly that's because there may have to be a serious reconstruction of RBS, in that the chancellor is also announcing that the Treasury - aided by outside experts - will review whether it makes sense to hive off RBS's supposedly bad assets into a new "bad bank" which would remain in the public sector.
A decision on whether to split RBS in that way will be taken in the autumn (and for what it's worth, I am told the chancellor had already decided to carry out this review, before he knew that the Banking Commission would call for such an assessment).
Interestingly, the chancellor is now of the view that it would have been a good thing to break up RBS shortly after it was rescued in 2008 - though he is not throwing stones at Labour, which was in power at the time, for failing to do this because he wasn't calling for such a dismantling at the time.
Anyway, the review will look in particular at whether RBS's bad commercial property and Irish loans should be stripped out and retained in the public sector - till they are repaid or sold separately (see here for more on this).
The final decision on whether to sanitize RBS in this way will depend on whether it is seen to facilitate eventual privatisation, whether it would be good for taxpayers and whether it would support Britain's economy.
Before I continue, I should point out that those are the three tests for all the chancellor's future decisions on banks.
In the meantime, RBS will be under orders from the chancellor to become a much simpler and more domestic bank, concentrating on services for retail customers, small businesses and larger corporates in Britain.
Which implies that George Osborne wants RBS to accelerate the shrinkage of its global investment bank and not drag its feet on selling its US operation, Citizens.
Finally Mr Osborne is telling the City this evening that the forced sales by Lloyds and RBS of retail and small business banking operations- known by the respective monikers of Project Verde and Project Rainbow - may not be ambitious enough.
He is asking the Office of Fair Trading to assess by the end of the year whether each of them should be obliged to sell rather more branches than currently planned, so as to create bigger and more effective competitor banks.
But to get back to the fairly imminent Lloyds privatisation, it won't happen until the share price is comfortably above 61p - and today the price is almost bang on 61p.
The magic of that price is that - as a result of public sector accounting conventions - sales below lead to an increase in the national debt and above it reduce the national debt.
This is where it gets a bit complicated, so you are at liberty to stop reading here. But I need to point out that 61p is substantially below the price taxpayers actually paid for their 39% investment in Lloyds, which was 73.6p.
That 61p is the level at which the shares are valued in the government's accounts: the Treasury booked the value of the stake at the share price prevailing on the day of the transaction to buy the shares closed, rather than the cash price.
Now there are many who believe that the government should strive to get back the cash it invested in Lloyds, viz 73.6p per share, £20bn, rather than the accounting value, or £16.6bn.
So you should expect a bit of a punch-up between Labour and the coalition government, Balls and Osborne, on whether that £3.4bn difference between the cash and accounting value of the state's Lloyd's shares is spilt milk and should be written off.
That said, as I understand it, Osborne thinks it is plausible he will eventually get back the full £20bn or 73.6p. He's just not religious about its importance.
Evidence: Adams has been blogging for years, and every so often the pointy-haired boss does a post and there is a big kerfuffle.
Latest example: "Science will someday be able to identify sociopaths and terrorists by their patterns of Facebook and Internet use." Bruce Schneier considers the possibility rationally.
If you like something on Facebook (like a football team, or a kind of shoes, or a band), then when those people pay Facebook to advertise them, your liking of them will be used as the advert. It can be as simple as "Andrew Ducker likes Manchester United!", or if you wrote more, they'll use that.
It always annoys me when I see ads on my FB page, because they're almost always "Here are things your friends like!" - and I know that if my friends could resist the urge to tell Facebook that they like Pollock's Patented Urinals then I wouldn't get this repeated once a day, just in case I could be persuaded to take a look and then buy something from them.
And if you like something _and_ comment then you've just written them an advert. And then you end up like this, used to sell things to people.
And this shouldn't surprise you - this is how Facebook make their money.
They've got a track on Doctor Who and Torchwood, which is what Cornell tweeted the link to,* but it wasn't the best introduction to the programme
Here's the line-up of named guests (presumably Guests of Honour, though they aren't named like that)
Kai Owen is a Welsh actor best known for playing Rhys Williams in Torchwood, initially in a supporting role and coming into a main part for seasons 3 and 4. He has also appeared in Being Human and Waterloo Road, and played the lead role in BBC series Rocket Man.
Gary Russell is a Doctor Who writer. He edited Doctor Who Magazine in the 90s, has written several DW novels and co-wrote the making-of book for the 1996 DW movie. As part of the team creating the new series, he wrote Doctor Who: The Inside Story in 2006, and The Doctor Who Encyclopedia in 2007. He also directed "The Infinite Quest", an animated series tying in the the 2007 Doctor Who series, and wrote Art of The Lord Of The Rings.
James Goss is a producer and writer for Doctor Who and Torchwood spin-off media. With the return of Doctor Who in 2005, he began putting together material with the aim to construct a whole world beyond the show for fans to explore, including games, videos and fictional websites. He has produced Doctor Who animations and special features for the DVDs, as well as writing two Torchwood radio plays and four Torchwood novels.
James Moran is a television writer known for his work on Doctor Who and Torchwood, including the episodes "The Fires of Pompeii", "Sleeper", and "Day Three". His feature "Cockneys vs. Zombies" was released in 2012, and he has also written for ITV's Primeval and BBC1's Spooks.
Joseph Lidster is a television writer best known for his work on Torchwood and the Sarah Jane Adventures. He started writing tie-in material for the new Doctor Who series in 2005, before joining the Torchwood team to write for the second season in 2008. He has also written content for sites tying in to the BBC's new Sherlock series.
James Swallow is an award-winning author and multi-media scriptwriter. His novels Fear To Tread and Nemesis were New York Times Bestsellers in 2012 and 2010. He has worked on Blake's 7, Stargate, and Doctor Who, and is the only British writer to have worked on Star Trek. He was nominated for a 2012 BAFTA for his work on the video game Deus Ex: Human Revolution.
Ben Aaronovitch is the author of the best selling Rivers of London series of novels. He is also the author of several Doctor Who novels and TV episodes.
All excellent people, some of whom I'd be delighted to hear, but noticed anything yet?
And then there's the track itself:
Writing Doctor Who and Torchwood
Kicking off our GeekFest weekend in style, Messrs Lidster, Moran, Goss and Russell talk us through the joys and challenges of writing for Doctor Who (past and present), Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures - for the show, novels and audiobooks.
With Joseph Lidster, James Moran, James Goss and Gary Russell
Doctor Who: The Future (... Spoilers!)
So as it stands we are facing not one but two new Doctors... or is John Hurt really The Valeyard? In fact is Matt Smith even the Eleventh Doctor at all? It's an interesting time for the future of DW and there's a lot at stake! What does the future hold for our cosmic wizard? Warning - there may be spoilers!
With￼ David A. McIntee and Iona Sharma
Interview with Kai Owen - Torchwood's Rhys Williams
Kai Owen achieved global fame with his portrayal of Rhys Williams in Torchwood in 2006 with the character elevated to star billing for the third series in 2009 reflecting his growing role. More recently Owen has appeared in the BBC's Being Human and the Syndicate. There'll be time for autographs afterwards.
Interviewed by Joseph Lidster
Discussing Religion and Doctor Who: Faith, Science Fiction and Academic Research (hosted by the Academia track)
Religion and religious themes have consistently been a subject of interest over Doctor Who's long history. Recently, the show has attracted everything from Church of England conferences dedicated to its use in preaching, to guest appearances by Richard Dawkins. But what is the value of using a science fiction show such as Doctor Who to examine religion? Is there not a danger of turning science fiction, often seen as an avowedly secularist genre, into a tool for evangelism? Using Doctor Who as a case study, we consider that science fiction can serve as a valuable tool for scholars of religion, in examining shifting historical understandings of faith, the reception of central religious concepts, and even the idea of belief itself.
With Dr Andrew Crome of Manchester University
Doctor Who: RTD vs Moffatt
Some people still miss Russell T Davies as showrunner on Doctor Who. Others think the show's never been better since Steven Moffat took over. Who's right? There's only one way to find out... Debate!
With Paul Condon, Matt Nixon and David A. McIntee
Big Finish: The Audio Series
Big Finish's Doctor Who audio plays have enjoyed a huge success over the past 15 years, showcasing the talents of a fantastic range of new writers. We discuss the strenghts and limitations of the audio format, and talk about their other ranges of drama - including Blake's 7, Dark Shadows, Sapphire and Steel.
With Gary Russell, James Goss, Joseph Lidster, Abigail Brady and Una McCormack
Chicks Unravel Time
Discussions and readings from the book of the same name in which our favourite series is reviewed and analysed by a host of award-winning female writers, media professionals and scientists
With Iona Sharma, Una McCormack and Jenni Hughes
Doctor Who: The Ones You Love To Hate
Nothing's more fun than a really hissable villain, and Doctor Who's had more than its fair share of dastardly dudes and dames over the years. What makes a perfect villain? Is it the megalomaniac schemes? A catchphrase? Or just a natty line in sinister clothes? We talk all about the nastiest people in history.
With Jonathan L Howard, Adam Christopher, David A. McIntee and Ben Aaranovitch
Is Doctor Who "Thunderingly Racist"?
A recent academic study of DW makes a bold claim that the show is "thunderingly racist". Is this true? No non-white actors have ever played the Doctor, and the absence of non-white people from the line-up of companions throughout the whole of the Classic Series is notable.
With Adam Christopher, Iona Sharma, Abigail Brady and Una McCormack
Torchwood: Doctor Who Goes Sexy
Fans of Torchwood are every bit as dedicated as fans of its parent show Doctor Who (have you seen the Ianto Shrine in Cardiff Bay?). We talk about why the series was such a hit, which season of the show worked best, whose death hurt the most, and what the future might hold for Captain Jack and Gwen.
With Gary Russell, Joseph Lidster, James Goss and Kai Owen
The Sarah Jane Adventures: Spinoff Success
For some fans of the Classic Series of Who, the launch of The Sarah Jane Adventures brought a nostalgic glow. We talk about the success of this brilliant CBBC series and how the team behind the show are continuing to make children's sci-fi with Wizards Vs Aliens.
With Paul Condon, Gary Russell, Joseph Lidster and Matt Nixon
Doctor Who: My Best Friend
From Susan all the way through to Clara Oswald, the Doctor's companion has been a fixture of the series for as long as it's been on the air. But who's been the greatest of them all? Jamie? Jo? Tegan? Rose? Donna? Or do you fly the flag for Dodo or Lady Christina?
With Jonathan L Howard, Matt Nixon and David A. McIntee
Noticed anything else, yet? The two "diversity" panels - "Chicks Unravel Time" and "Is Doctor Who 'Thunderingly Racist'?" have in the first case an all-woman panel, and in the second case a majority woman panel. Everything else, either no women at all, or the odd one or two being endlessly recycled.
But the final insult comes on the Home page, with the Geek Feminism track. Click on that link. Take in that photo. Because nothing, but nothing, says "feminist" like a plastic Wonder Woman figure, maintaining her plastic dignity in the way a real woman should.
So disappointing, after Eastercon. Panel Parity, so 2012?
*Incidentally, have the people who claim they would have difficulty explaining a gender-flipped Doctor to their children and who use the term "suspension of disbelief" ever attempted to explain the denouement of "The Satan Pit/The Impossible Planet" to anyone who's ever heard the terms "space" and "vacuum"? Thought not.
Hey guys! Last night the wonderful women at the Godless Bitches podcast were kind enough to let me participate in their show. Full disclosure: It was over 90 degrees in my studio while we were recording and I was drinking a lot of hot sake. I make no promises that I was at all coherent BUT I did have a lot of fun!
We talk about zombie babies. Can they eat their way out of you? Would you push a guy in front of a train? How many bats are living under a bridge in Texas and how can you find them? And my favorite part of the discussion was learning about the standards in the military and how bringing women into the special operation units will in no way lower those standards at all. Interesting stuff.
Thanks To Beth Presswood, Jen Peeples and Tracie Harris for letting me be on the show.
You can listen to the episode here: http://godlessbitches.podbean.com/2013/0
Naturally this requires sex, drugs, and firearms
International fugitive, criminal suspect and self-described eccentric millionaire John McAfee has released a tongue-in-cheek video explaining how to uninstall the security software that still bears his name.