Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ category

Writer Derek Raymond Tribute

December 14, 2008

Cookie, originally uploaded by Simon Crubellier.

The late Derek Raymond, Britain’s finest noir writer, in a stencil by Grafter. Cheers to bornsleepy – if he hadn’t uploaded his photo of this I doubt I’d have bothered to check it out in the first place, never mind spend several hours there over two days.

Wow, that’s really something.

Previously here:

Writer Derek Raymond

In the old blog:

Derek Raymond: He Makes All Others Look Like Shit

Fandom Photos: Broertjes and Morrissey

December 13, 2008

Harry Broertjes and Rich Morrissey, originally uploaded by zilberhere.

Wow, this is really something.

Harry Broertjes was the editor of an influential Legion of Superheroes fanzine published by Mike Flynn, The Legion Outpost. There’s a commemorative issue on Google Book Search, which has a black-and-white picture of Mike Flynn, Richard Morrissey, and Harry Broertjes on page 11 from back in the day.

Rich Morrissey was the All-Time #1 fan of Batman. Aw, crap. I didn’t know he died, until now. Life sucks at moments like this. Rest in Peace, Richard. You did good while you were with us.

Fandom Photos: Carl Gafford

December 13, 2008

Carl Gafford at John Street, originally uploaded by zilberhere.

Carl Gafford at John Street

Carl Gafford was one of the early comic fans to publish a fanzine.

He also created the first organization of fanzine publishers, called the BPP — Blue Plaque Publications. (It was later revived into the UFO — United Fanzine Organization — chaired for some time by by Kurt Erichsen.)

This Smells Like … Hope

December 12, 2008

Convicted paedophile stabbed to death, stripped and mutilated in suspected vigilante attack

A child sex offender was stabbed to death in a ‘ferocious’ attack in which his genitals were mutilated.

Andrew Cunningham was found naked and soaked in blood at his caravan home in Wandsworth, south London.

The 52-year-old, who had been jailed for raping a girl under 13, was recently accused of molesting a two-year-old.

He was found with multiple stab wounds to his head, neck and chest on the site of the Riverside Haulage company, where he worked as a truck driver.

Emphasis added by me.

The British police — which are the laughingstock of this blog — had better do their job right this time: leave it unsolved.

Chronicles Of Depression 2.0: #424: $1T MOAR!

November 20, 2008

Financials need at least $1 trillion: analyst

(Reuters) – The U.S. financial system still needs at least $1 trillion to $1.2 trillion of tangible common equity to restore confidence and improve liquidity in the credit markets, Friedman Billings Ramsey analyst Paul Miller said.

Eight financial companies — Citigroup Inc, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc, Wells Fargo & Co, JPMorgan Chase & Co, American International Group Inc, Bank of America Corp and GE Financial — are in greatest need of capital, he said.

“Debt or TARP capital is not true capital. Long-term debt financing is not the solution. Only injections of true tangible common equity will solve the current crisis,” he said in a note dated November 19.

Currently, the U.S. financial system has $37 trillion of debt outstanding, he noted.

Combined, these eight companies have roughly $12.2 trillion of assets and only $406 billion of tangible common capital, or just 3.4 percent, the analyst said in his note to clients.

Miller said these institutions need somewhere between $1 trillion and $1.2trillion of capital to put their balance sheets back on solid ground and begin to extend credit again, given their dependence on short-term funding and the illiquid nature of their asset bases.

Emphasis added by me.

This is getting simply surreal:

The bulk of the capital will have to come from the U.S. government, Miller said. The government needs to take the initial steps to begin the process, and private capital and earnings can finish the job.

“The quicker the government acts, the sooner the financial system can work through its current problems and begin to supply credit again to the economy,” he said.

The U.S. government must declare a bank-dividend holiday and convert the TARP funding into pure tangible common equity to get the credit markets functioning.

Also, the government should support a centralized CDS clearinghouse that backstops all transactions and eliminates the cross-default problem, the analyst said.

Emphasis added by me.

Is this guy on drugs?

If these entities are such great risks and so necessary, why the hell isn’t private capital pouring in?

If private capital won’t do it, why should we get stuck with the tab?

Writer Tobias Buckell: Free Novel Thirds

November 19, 2008

The first one-third of three of his novels — Crystal Rain, Ragamuffin, Sly Mongoose — are available in RTF file format for free.

And best wishes for a speedy recovery.

— via GalleyCat

Little Nazi Scumbag Bastard

November 5, 2008


Hitler photographs of French surrender published for first time

He added the photographs were unusual because all official photographs were taken looking upwards to make Hitler appear taller than the 5ft 5in he was.

He added: “They really illustrate how short he actually was.”

Emphasis added by me.

I don’t know why, but until I read that, I never knew Hitler’s height.

Previously here:

I Hate Nazis

Does The Internet Make Reviews Obsolete?

October 28, 2008

I think so.

This is something I’ve been meaning to write about for some time.

I could never read a music review. It was like encountering a foreign language that looked like English, but was some sort of bizarre code.

Today, is there any need for music reviewing? Anyone can pop over to their favorite online music store or even a band website and immediately listen to samples. Would a bad review matter if you listened on your own and liked the music?

Book reviews usually set my teeth on edge, as mentioned in an earlier post.

Is there any need for book reviews today? Anyone can pop over to a publisher’s site, or an eBookstore, or a writer’s website and immediately read a free excerpt or an entire free chapter. Would any review — good or bad — have an effect if you personally liked or didn’t like what you read?

What inspired this post today was this review: The Swap

But what works against the novel most is Moore’s maddeningly elliptical prose style. He seems to take forever to get a point across. As a result, all attempts at humor — be they bone-dry or over-the-top — are completely lost in verbiage. The same goes for most plot developments, including the relationship that results when the wife of one Harvey’s schoolmates leaves her husband during a post-reunion party and takes up with Harvey. Then there’s the murder investigation, which ought to add suspense, but instead reads like a distraction. And, as if all this weren’t disappointing enough, the novel doesn’t end so much as it simply … stops.

What exactly does any of that really mean? Especially when it begins with an expectation on part of the reviewer:

With its Roy Lichtenstein-inspired cover illustration and graphic title design, Antony Moore’s THE SWAP looks promising. And the back cover synopsis makes it sound like a Donald E. Westlake-like comedic romp of murder, misunderstandings and related mishaps in the world of comic book dealers and readers. Would that it were! Sadly, this debut novel is a clumsy, ill-conceived work that never really delivers on any such promises.

So how can I believe anything that proceeds from that premise?

I did some investigation and it seems the publisher of this book has spent a bit of money to give it a shiny website.

That tells me this book isn’t the disposable thing the reviewer considered it to be. It also hints loudly that he missed the entire point.

I went on to Random House’s site to read an excerpt.

I liked what I read. So what did that review actually accomplish?

The most that can be said for it is that it inspired this post.

The worst that can be said is so obvious, I won’t state it.

Reviews of music and books: obsolete.

Interster: Rare Puppet Series Pics And Videos!

October 22, 2008

As promised last night, here’s the longer post about the very rare South African marionette series inspired by the works of Gerry Anderson: Interster.

This is what I was sent as text in email by a correspondent who wishes to remain anonymous:

Long and fond memories of my youth include the two seasons of Interster which aired on TV1 (the main English/Afrikaans) TV channel of the SABC (SAUK) in the early 80s.

The show is so old it was aired in SA when TV broadcasts only started at 18:00 in the evening! And ads were just about non-existent.

Back to the show: two seasons exist in the archives of the SABC in Johannesburg, While other shows (like Liewe Heksie) have been recently released on DVD in SA, the Sci-Fi curse haunts this show as well.

According the the clips below the Copyright for Season 1 is 1981 and the Season 2 is 1983.

The show has only been aired three times so far: the original run in the 80’s (the SABC of the 80’s had no concept of reruns, and the show was aired literally only once on TV1).

The show was repeated on the new SABC channel, SABC2 on Saturday mornings in the early 90’s, also only aired once.

The third airing was on the subscription Afrikaans channel Kyknet ( during the daily children’s programming slot of 17:00-18:00.

The bad news: I am still kicking myself for not making full recordings of the show during this Kyknet run in the early 2000s. Hard drive space was however at a premium at the time…..

This is a long post, with nearly sixty screensnaps! See them after the break.

Click for more Interster

Excellent Article About Excellence

October 21, 2008

Why talent is overrated
The conventional wisdom about “natural” talent is a myth. The real path to great performance is a matter of choice.

Even in purely mental work, the best performers observe themselves closely. They are able to monitor what is happening in their own minds and ask how it’s going. Researchers call this metacognition – knowledge about your own knowledge, thinking about your own thinking. Top performers do this much more systematically than others do; it’s an established part of their routine.

Metacognition is important because situations change as they play out. Apart from its role in finding opportunities for practice, it plays a valuable part in helping top performers adapt to changing conditions. When a customer raises a completely unexpected problem in a deal negotiation, an excellent businessperson can pause mentally and observe his own mental processes as if from outside: Have I fully understood what’s really behind this objection? Am I angry? Am I being hijacked by my emotions? Do I need a different strategy here? What should it be?

Emphasis added by me.


The final element of the post-work phase is affected by all the others and affects them in turn. You’ve been through some kind of work experience – a meeting with your team, a trading session, a quarterly budget review, a customer visit. You’ve evaluated how it went. Now, how do you respond?

Odds are strong that the experience wasn’t perfect; in fact, parts of it may have been unpleasant. In those cases, excellent performers respond by adapting the way they act, while average performers respond by avoiding those situations in the future. That stands to reason. Since excellent performers went through a sharply different process from the beginning, they can make good guesses about how to adapt. That is, their ideas for how to perform better next time are likely to work. So it’s hardly surprising that they are more likely than average performers to repeat the experience rather than avoid it.

But where does the cycle start? Why do certain people put themselves through the years of intensive daily work that eventually makes them world-class great? This is the deepest question about great performance, and the researchers do not offer us a complete answer. We’ve reached the point where we must proceed by looking in the only place we have left: within ourselves. The answers depend on your response to two basic questions: What do you really want? And what do you really believe?

Emphasis added by me.

In regard to those two questions, I’m compelled to provide this excerpt from Ayn Rand‘s Atlas Shrugged:

“Where do you come from?”


“Got any family?”

She hesitated. “I guess so. In Buffalo.”

“What do you mean, you guess so?”

“I walked out on them.”


“I thought that if I ever was to amount to anything, I had to get away from them, clean away.”

“Why? What happened?”

“Nothing happened. And nothing was ever going to happen. That’s what I couldn’t stand.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, they . . . well, I guess I ought to tell you the truth, Mr. Taggart. My old man’s never been any good, and Ma didn’t care whether he was or not, and I got sick of it always turning out that I was the only one of the seven of us that kept a job, and the rest of them always being out of luck, one way or another. I thought if I didn’t get out, it would get me-I’d rot all the way through, like the rest of them. So I bought a railroad ticket one day and left. Didn’t say good-bye. They didn’t even know I was going.” She gave a soft, startled little laugh at a sudden thought. “Mr. Taggart,” she said, “it was a Taggart train.”

“When did you come here?”

“Six months ago.”

“And you’re all alone?”

“Yes,” she said happily.

“What was it you wanted to do?”

“Well, you know-make something of myself, get somewhere.”


“Oh, I don’t know, but . . . but people do things in the world. I saw pictures of New York and I thought” — she pointed at the giant buildings beyond the streaks of rain on the cab window — “I thought, somebody built those buildings — he didn’t just sit and whine that the kitchen was filthy and the roof leaking and the plumbing clogged and it’s a goddamn world and . . . Mr. Taggart” — she jerked her head in a shudder and looked straight at him — “we were stinking poor and not giving a damn about it. That’s what I couldn’t take — that they didn’t really give a damn. Not enough to lift a finger. Not enough to empty the garbage pail. And the woman next door saying it was my duty to help them, saying it made no difference what became of me or of her or of any of us, because what could anybody do anyway!”

That’s one way to start.