Thursday, November 23, 2006


It was slightly amusing today on the bus, listening to the passengers bitching about how the 22X hadn't stopped for them. Then later on the journey, more people got on and complained that the 22X hadn't stopped for them either. (We were on the perfectly vanilla No. 22.)

No-one had seemed to grasp the connection between the "X" and the Express part of the story and what being an express actually entails. i.e. not stopping at the in-between bits.

But it was pouring with rain, so no wonder they were upset.

Lucky I had a hat.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

NaNoWriMo has Stopped!

Well, it has for me anyway. I managed to get 14000 words done - which isn't that bad I guess - but the demands of the movie made me feel guilty every time I tried to write something.

Curses that the very last and most fretful part of making the movie coincided with NaNoWriMo.

Having said that, I hope I'm going to write my novel properly once the dust has settled, because I think I had something fun going on. I enjoyed it anyway!

Hey ho. Here's to the next year! And I might plan it out better next time too.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

NaNoWriMo has Started!

So I'm writing a novel in a month and after three days, I'm ahead of the needed wordcount by some 200 words. Not enough of a gap I fear! Of course I'm plagued by guilt because I could be doing more stuff on the Intrepid movie, but I figure I'll have the computer rendering while I plot and rattle my muse.

The original idea was to write something very lightweight, silly and something I wasn't too precious about. And now that it's begun, the characters have already taken it in a different direction. Not only that, but I'm coming up with stuff that I thougth was rather more clever than I'd intended for a supposed absurdist romp...

And yes, I'm writing THIS entry while the computer is doing proper work.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Well, I finally went and did it. I've signed up to with the avowed intent of writing a novel in a month. A novel is defined as 50000 words and I have absolutely no chance of achieving this. Hey, it'll be fun and I can bash out a few words when the computer's rendering stuff.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Music and Lyrics

Odd thing music. Odd thing having knowledge on tap too. I'm in my mid to late thirties, which means that my musical tastes were formed from listening to audio cassette (and not even the short lived Digital Compact Cassette). More than that, the internet was still an esoteric academic curiosity.

Cut to modern day and I'm listening to my MP3 player whilst sat at the computer. Here comes a song that means a lot to me, for miscellaneous reasons, and now that I'm effectively living in a science fiction future (2006) I can type the song name into Google and instantly find some lyrics so that I can drunkenly sing along (it's also Friday night.)

And this is the point where I'm discovering that all those lyrics which mean so much to me are don't actually exist and the true words to the song are something else. It's only a few words here and there, where I've consistently misheard, bit even so...

What means so much to me, is a phantom. But on the other hand, if I ever somehow write a song, all those powerful moving lyrics are something that I can use for myself because all this time they've only ever been in my head.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

This is just a quick entry to provide a kind of proof-of-concept, when using Writely, a collaborative online wordprocessor from Google. No doubt when I publish this to my blog there's going to be a Writely icon next to it just to make certain anyone knows about it. The thing that interests me most is the possibility of a few of us all working on the same document from various parts of the world. Or indeed from just down the street. I guess we're all used to the concept of a Wiki now, but wouldn't this be an excellent tool for creating a FAQ?

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Basic Assumption

Last year I got drawn into a debate on a forum, though not here on Intrepid, concerning the power of science as an explanation for everything. Some people considered science to be little more than a “guess” and naturally my opposing position was that the scientific method leads to a pretty good understanding of the world. As an explanations go, nothing can surpass it. Also, it works. My example was James Clerk Maxwell, a shy, awkward Scotsman who in 1865 formulated some equations with which he'd intended to demonstrate the link between electricity and magnetism. Having successfully done this, a closer look at the same equations also seemed to be saying something new: not only were they linked, the combination of the electrical and magnetic force ought to travel through space.

And that was how radio waves were discovered.

The forum debate concerned, inevitably, religion and the bible and why those provided a better explanation of the world than science. I made the challenge of explaining how it was possible to deduce the existence of radio waves from a reading of the bible. God, as a reason for the world, doesn't have any explanatory depth. “Why?” leads to “Just because.” now and forever. One of the responses was quite sizeable, and this is what leads me to the point I really wish to make.

So large was it that I saved it to disk in order to create a riposte at leisure, but as it happened I slowly realised that I had little idea where to start with it and put it off for a day or so. Eventually I never subsequently found the time to create a coherent answer, and so I fell away from the debate entirely. But now I know what it was that threw me so badly. By co-incidence (and I use that word without any of the irony that it seems to have acquired in modern times) I bought a book within a few weeks of that debate which threw some light on that response, though it took me months to come to really appreciate it.

Called How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World, it described at length some economic, political and social fads over the last thirty years or so, some of which were very surprising. Mostly, if I read a book like this – such as The New Apocrypha – I imagine that it will cover some of the more traditional targets such as ghosts, UFOs and the Loch Ness Monster. Here was something quite different. Although the subject matter was not directly supernatural, it did demonstrate how little critical thinking there is in all areas of life. I was surprised to find self-help and business books in general described as a con. Just dress up completely obvious banalities in the language of he mystic – even pretending to be channelling wisdom from dead gurus - and rake in the cash.

So far, all very refreshing to read, but nothing that shed any light on my debate. Until the chapters about post-moderists, I had always used the term post-modern in a loosely colloquial sense of meaning the kind of movie that references itself and was quite aware that it was a movie. A harmless stylistic indulgence in fact. And now here was something which finally threw some light on that response to my message, which I had been unable to make headway with.

An example from How Mumbo Jumbo Conquered the World:
“Luce Irigaray, a high priestess of the movement, denounced Einstein's E=mc2 as a 'sexed equation', since it 'privileges the speed of light over other [less masculine] speeds that are 'vitally necessary to us'”

Post Moderism, in its full uncut flavour, treats science, society, history, indeed everything as a “text” whose interpretation is no more or less valid than any other interpretation. In essence, meaning and experience are no longer objective. Of course there is much subtly and shifting of definitions between observers, but the implications slowly sunk in as I read and re-read the rest of the book, then confirmed it with a little more research. When I'm in a debate with someone who provides me with a response of the kind I got, it means my basic assumption is wrong.

My basic assumption is that reasoning is a valid tool with which to think about the world. Astonishingly, incredibly, there are people who reject the idea of logical reasoning, indeed reasoning altogether, as being a proper thing to use when describing reality. The responders message now makes more sense to me, even if only on its own terms, and that is why I doubt I could ever rejoin that particular debate. Because all I was doing was bringing some logic to the party.

And who on Earth was going to fall for that one

I'm on the Telly!

The title ought to give the whole game away. Channel 4 News had an item a couple of weeks ago about the forthcoming auction of Star Trek memorabilia. As part of the segment, they showed clips from the fan film I'm working on, with a voiceover about how "dedicated" some fans are. I knew in advance that some clips were going to be shown, but I didn't expect it to be a clip with myself in it! But just to prove in what regard we're taken, the other clips were of a Star Trek fan film with all the roles played by dogs!

I haven't arrived quite yet.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Holiday Coming Up

August seems to be the traditional time for me to take a fortnight's holiday, although only holiday in the sense of not doing anything rather than "vacationing". So it's with some anticipation that I'll hopefully have a couple of weeks to myself during which time I intend to do nothing, but am unlikely to settle down.
This is because of Intrepid which I am telling myself I will take a break from, but will probably be doing more work on it no matter how sunny it is outside. And here's me with a bicycle and some nice destinations within 30 minutes ride...

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Lorraine Kelley visits USS Intrepid, with me on the right. There were a whole load of folk here, but if they want to apear then they can create their own blog! Posted by Picasa

And so it begins

Hello. I guess I should be telling you all what's on my mind. Well it's Saturday night and the pizza is on its way. I've got a blog over at USS Intrepid, which has tended to be written as a set of articles rather than a semi-spontaneous stream of consciousness. I had actually kept for a while an online 'journal' back in 1997, but for various reasons I soon gave this up. (Think psycho-ex.) So here we are, whilst I think what exactly I intend to do with this.

USS Intrepid, by the way, is a Star Trek fan film of which I happen to be the director. My profile picture is myself with Lorraine Kelley, who is a TV presenter and also a Star Trek fan. Through a tortous set of events beginning with an article in the New York Times, we came to her attention and subsequently got to meet her.

And that is the current state of play! More later! Maybe!

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Why I Shouldn't Skip PE

The absolute best story that I ever wrote, indeed probably the best piece of writing I have ever done or will likely ever do in my life, is lost to history. Being lost admittedly polishes it in my memory somewhat, so if by some happenstance I could retrieve it through time it would not likely impress me that much. However, for the purposes of this article it was the best thing written by anyone anywhere.

Unlike most of my writings which I can no longer find, this story was not misplaced or the victim of an accident. It's loss was a deliberate act by someone. Someone with less moral fibre than an IP lawyer, less self-awareness than a burger flipper, someone with a glow-worms' intensity of consciousness. In a paraphrase of Calvin & Hobbes, it's someone with “... a dim perception that nature played a cruel trick on them.” And just because I've still got an epithet spare, someone with all the deductive and reasoning abilities of a can of spam.

It's the fault of a PE teacher. (Unfair generalisations duly noted.)

I skipped PE once, my sole act of rebellion against the crushing oppressiveness of a society that didn't care whose poetic soul got trampled in the race not to be picked last for the fucking five-a-side football. Most of my rebellion consisted of waiting it out until school came to an end naturally, so this was decidedly out of the ordinary for me. After all, wasn't I supposed to be getting educated in school instead of slogging it out running through mud in February? What the hell was the education part of Physical Education?

So one afternoon I decided to hell with this and spent an hour in the park. There were a handful of us who'd decided the same and the time passed in quite a dull fashion. Rebellion didn't have any of the euphoric highs that I might have expected. I can't remember quite what prompted me. Maybe I'd forgotten my gym kit. Maybe it was the prospect of spending more time outdoors in the novel setting of being outside and not having to run anywhere. The details aren't important.

Inevitably there were consequences and I got into trouble because, no master schemer me, they'd noticed that I'd gone. My PE teacher confronted me in the corridor with the result that I got handed a 'blue sheet', which was to say a punishment exercise to write.

That night, in biro, I scribbled out my answer to the punishment question: Why I Shouldn't Skip PE. My muse was obviously active, and in an inspired moment I laid out a series of rigorously logical steps detailing a sequence of events, beginning with my non-attendance of PE and leading to the inevitable destruction of the Earth. Roughly it started with me getting away with it. If I did that, then I'd be tempted to skip other classes. If I got away with that, others would be inspired to do the same. So when the next generation is ready for the workplace, they don't have any useful skills. The economy then collapses and this news will be obvious in our radio and television broadcasts. Any onlooking aliens will see that this is the ideal time to attack a weakened opponent and since not having skills means not being able to invent weapons to defend ourselves, it's game over for Earth. Rigorously logical. I told you.

To this day I still believe it in a fingers-crossed sort of way, but PE teachers being what they are, when I presented this gem of writing it got ripped up in front of me, unread, not even glanced at, and dumped in the bin.

That was the real punishment.

And as it turned out, a rather deeply symbolic moment. That sheet was worth more to me than every PE 'lesson' I'd ever had in my life. Take me cross country running, put me in goal, have me throw medicines balls around, have me do bench presses. At the end of it I've learn nothing, except to hate every PE teacher there has ever been. This is a divide between the body and mind where muscles and looks are respected whereas creativity and intelligence are not. No duh, Sherlock. Smartarse, clever dick, smarty pants, brainiac... all derogatory. Mind is not highly regarded. Young women want to be Paris Hilton. No-one wants to be Jill Tarter. (Go on, Google her.) Guys want to be 50 Cent. No-one wants to be Carl Sagan.

All that, perhaps, is another story.

An old friend of mine once told me how he'd managed to contrive to somehow not be present when a register was taken at the start of the school year for PE, with the result that no-one missed him being absent from PE for a whole year! Now that was smart! He now runs a company.

So go on. Skip PE.

And never stop thinking.