Exoplanets – Trappist – 1


The recent exoplanet announcement for Trappist 1 has received decent press. The Guardian reports Exoplanet discovery: seven Earth-sized planets found orbiting nearby star and in The Daily Telegraph, Sir Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal heralds this discovery with These new worlds are just the start. There are many more life-supporting planets out there waiting to be discovered. In brief […]

Continue reading

Posted in General | Leave a comment

Cordwainer Smith


Just looking back at Cordwainer Smith’s Instrumentality Continue reading

Posted in General, Review, Trivia | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Have Spreadsheet, Will Dabble


It was Robert Heinlein Continue reading

Posted in General, Trivia | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Net migration to UK falls by 49,000 after Brexit vote


Net migration to UK falls by 49,000 after Brexit vote

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/feb/23/net-migration-to-uk-falls-by-49000-after-brexit-vote?CMP=Share_AndroidApp_WordPress

Or expressed another way net migration into the UK was 329,000. That is a net 165,000 from the EU and a net 164,000 from non EU nations. Simple maths gives you the total figure of 329,000. The Guardian’s headline figure of £49,000 me of misleading price drop announcements at the supermarket. Harsh words until you consider the actual figures never in the article. When the media make their pronouncements about fake news, all they need to do is examine their own headlines and compare them to the facts.

Posted in General, Opinion | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Unpayable debts and an existential EU financial crisis – Is the break-up of the euro now inevitable?


Unpayable debts and an existential EU financial crisis – Is the break-up of the euro now inevitable?

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/02/23/rising-euro-break-up-risk-stokes-new-fears-central-bank-solvency/?WT.mc_id=tmgliveapp_androidshare_AnZzPVKjy5pM

The Break-Up issues are real. Not Holly convinced by the impact on city of London activity. To put it another way, when markets unload there have to be brokers. That means winners as well as losers. At the moment the EU is a confidence trick waiting to be exposed. While there is political buy in, vested franco-german interests will stop it going down… but the bill will get bigger. The childish attitude of “let’s punish Brexit” will be a magnet for tit for tat Gloom and Doom scenarios. Except in this case the Gloom and Doom is a real risk.

Posted in General, Opinion | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Story Structure


The following emerged in discussions about story structure at one of Writing Workshops run by Bunbury Press*. The starting point was linear plots, looping plots and fractured story-lines…

Reading a novel has some differences from writing it as I discovered some years back. It helps to have a healthy repertoire of plotlines in mind when you begin. Writing is great; stitching it together sucks your brain of energy unless you have a plan. Most fiction has a number of taken for granteds – the reader is expected to know this or that so put assumptions and shortcuts on the creative menu… in turn this provides a comfort zone to critical analysis… many works are similar.

SF (& Fantasy) requires world building and even universe building which often end up as information dumps: there because they’re necessary, but more like an appendix than narrative. This is a special problem, the extent of which is governed by the range of ‘what-if’ assumptions. Embedding information dumps is a challenge. Techniques to deal with this tend to affect plot structure so not unnaturally, SF began to borrow ideas from conventional fiction. This became more pronounced with New Wave Science Fiction: consider the harbingers of change: Michael Moorcock and Harlan Ellison.

In my case I work up a cosmology** and then choose which bits would look interesting and find ways to bring then to the notice of the main characters.

Does the authorial process of creation map directly to an analytical structure? i.e. is the world made the way we see it? There’s no right answer but considerations such as this took me away from the safe but sterile me-too offerings of ‘Roll up, roll up and ride from A to B, just like your last one thousand rides’. It isn’t necessary to tread just one path for a harmonious whole.

eg: ** Pre-contact protocol, how technology transfer is controlled, when those out there are permitted to prey on newcomers to space, what was before big bang, what lives in the blackness between the spiral arms…

* Bunbury Press hold their workshops at the Two Tubs (the oldest pub) in Bury, Lancs. It’s just by the parish church. For those with an interest, their next programme will look at Scriptwriting.

Posted in General | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Francois Fillon and British wife Penelope expected to face legal proceedings this week over payments, reports say


OFrancois Fillon and British wife Penelope expected to face legal proceedings this week over payments, reports say

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/12/francois-fillon-british-wife-penelope-expected-face-legal-proceedings/?WT.mc_id=tmgliveapp_androidshare_AnXJhqtzKTTL

Such practices were legal and widespread.

Let’s just stick to widespread

Posted in General, Opinion | Tagged | Leave a comment

Unanswered questions behind the failed witch hunt of Iraq veterans


Unanswered questions behind the failed witch hunt of Iraq veterans

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/11/unanswered-questions-behind-failed-witch-hunt-iraq-veterans/?WT.mc_id=tmgliveapp_androidshare_AnW50HlplQh5

A shambles.

Posted in General, Opinion | Tagged | Leave a comment

Tara PT, the original It Girl, could have reinvented herself as an ‘Insta-girl’


Tara PT, the original It Girl, could have reinvented herself as an ‘Insta-girl’

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/life/tara-pt-original-girl-could-have-reinvented-insta-girl/?WT.mc_id=tmgliveapp_androidshare_AnWn7dJxvZN3

I feel sorry for Tara… it didn’t have to end this way. At the same time Tara’s tale is cautionary.

To live in the bubble of your own success – how attractive. Yet this can also cut you off from normal, day-to-day interaction with people. You are constantly under the microscope. The Telegraph article and the many others like it demonstrate the consequences of fame: they flow on and death is no bar. The paparazzi are responsible for their  own actions yet, as the death of Princess Diana shows, they are quite adept at passing this off as purely a response to public interest. Each tragedy is an opportunity for the major media players to set an example. On the evidence, it’s a case of think hard before letting fame open up your life; from that point every friendship – old or new – will become suspect. Having your actions and motives portrayed in a distorted way will become par.for he course and attempting to set the record straight will expose you further. How much do you value your privacy? 

Posted in General | Leave a comment

HS2 is monumentally wasteful, outdated, and will do nothing for the North – it must be scrapped


HS2 is monumentally wasteful, outdated, and will do nothing for the North – it must be scrapped

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/11/hs2-monumentally-wasteful-outdated-will-do-nothing-north-must/?WT.mc_id=tmgliveapp_androidshare_AnW0cb50C5TG

Tut tut Mr Heifer. It is all very well to argue against infrastructure spend she it carries no benefit to you but this project has a good deal of value – to shove it to the back of the queue as you propose (forget the technology nonsense: what other countries do is relevant to them, not us) does no one favours. 

There are many government initiatives which have little or no intrinsic value; HS2 is not one.

Posted in General | Leave a comment