Tuesday, 22 June 2010

The Dark Side of the Moon

You know it's going to happen, but you forget all about it until it does. It's like those times, years ago, when spaceships used to go round the other side of the Moon. You'd wait by the TV/radio, praying that you (and they) could survive the wait; and eventually you know it's going to come to an end...

A combination of the World Cup and Wimbledon occurs once every four years; a bit like Saturn in retrograde, it swamps the airwaves and dominates all TV coverage. And it's here again - that void where the TV crackles into life briefly for Saturday Kitchen and then off again. Ghods - even Celebrity Masterchef, would be an improvement, anything *he whimpers*

I had a nightmare

Very occasionally, over the years, I have stumbled (or rather thumbed with the remote) upon this horrible programme. It's called Big Brother. The title is derived from that puling idiot George Orwell's book 1984, a man obsessed with himself to the exclusion of any knowledge of his own lack of writing talent*. Bleeaagghh. And now, a programme has been running (which is mercifully going to come to an end - please god nothing like it is shown in its place) for some number of years which I have studiously avoided.

Where the Victorians had freak shows, we have this place on Channel 4 for the socially inept and damaged called... you guessed it. The same motivations that caused the Victorians to flock and point at the physically deformed and damaged drive people to watch this horror show. Whilst setting the TV to instantly come on to Countdown in the morning, I forgot this televisual excrescence would be showing and the aptly-name creature 'Shabby' was on the screen for about 45 seconds. During that 45 seconds she managed to underline and magnify every prejudice that I have about this orgy of self-aggrandisement. The fact that she has called herself 'Shabby' (I assume) speaks volumes about the mental time-bomb that's inside what passes for a mind. Am I alone in thinking that she seriously needs psychiatric help? I don't know if there's some sort of prize for staying in this asylum, but it wouldn't be big enough to keep me there! And why on Earth do people voluntarily watch it?

*And yes, I did have to study him for A-Level

Friday, 4 June 2010

I had a dream

I had a vivid dream last night (don't worry, not that sort), which for once stayed with me. I dream weirdly in that I tend to dream storylines (strange, I know):

At the time of the first Jovian-Earth wars the Earth defence forces, the Angels, were very much getting beaten by the more powerful Jupiterian ships - the technology required to get out of the gravity well of Jupiter and sustain Jovian life meant that high-speed, high-G manouvres were child's play for them. At the time of the First Incursion, when three of the Jovian fleet dived into the Pacific (a cataclysmic event for the Pacific rim countries, taking an artificially stimulated earthquake to open and swallow them), the Angels' high command had built in deep space a generation ship (the Argo) to explore for a new home in space.

Before even the first generation was born, in the depths of interstellar space, a gigantic old spaceship, apparently lifeless, drifted just off the route of the Argo. The speed of the Argo could not readily be altered, so a small exploration craft was dispatched to discover what it could, with its largely male crew on board. The motivation was clear, if we were getting beaten in our own back yard, we needed any technologies or help we could get.

Exploring the giant hulk was an eye-opener. In the first instance, much of the ship was simply mothballed. We spent days, patching the solid infrastructure and making it airtight and restoring artificial gravity - the hull must have been through an Oort cloud at some point. But as well as the plasteel type components, there were cushioned rooms, strange lenses and long lift shafts with no lifts - it was intriguing and the debate was fierce. We couldn't help feeling that the knowledge represented here was worth our sacrifice to retrieve it.

And then, one day, working on a hatch at the top of a lift-shaft, my harness broke and I fell, slowly at first, but with the ever-increasing speed of an unhindered object - the lift shaft was about a mile high and I hit the bottom at great speed. And was swallowed into the soft padding at the bottom. I thought "I must be dead", but in the darkness I could feel movement, terrifying movement, because I had been working on my own and sparing my colleagues my tuneless singing, had had the radio switched off and no-one could find me. Then I could feel my facemask being removed and then immense pain...

I went unconscious.

Sometime later I awoke and was startled to find that I was in darkness, free of pain and with a great sense of warmth; I remembered falling and realised that the hatchway at the top of the lift shaft was in fact a lightwell access point for when the starship was near a star so that it could collect energy. Rapidly, schematics and knowledge of the organo-plasteel giant spaceship came to mind and also a strange feeling that it was right that I had been attempting to help the ship as a passenger. The ship was grateful.

Slowly I was exuded to the surface of the organic light-collector, with my facemask replaced . I had no concept of time, but when I surfaced I was able to activate my radio and contact my very surprised shipmates.

Woke up at this point, drank some water, went back to sleep...

It turned out that the spaceship was also a generation ship, but of an entirely different star-spanning civilisation; the ship had been built as a partner in the enterprise and its AI was surprisingly organic.

Plot from here: months passed, an idyllic bond with the ship was formed; the giant nuclear furnace still sustaining the ship and us, we gradually got it moving towards the nearest star so it could be re-fuelled.

After a number of years we came across another wreck; two of us explored and returned, acting strangely - we quarantined them and they disappeared into the ship; warfare then broke out in our Utopian home, within the ship itself as the evil intelligences that had subsumed our shipmates migrated to the ship's nervous system... This was a war to the death as the intelligences now knew where we had come from and could backtrack us to Earth.

And I woke up finally for the morning at that point! Mr Blackbird was singing his heart out as he does and it was5.50 am and a sunny morning on Earth... Fortunately free of malign intelligences or giant Jovian spaceships causing havoc in the Pacific!

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Word play

I received the following email which lightened my day - I hope it does the same for you: These are the winners of a New York Magazine contest in which contestants take a well-known expression in a foreign language, change a single letter, and provide a definition for the New expression.

Can you drive a French motorcycle?

Lost in the mail

I came, I'm a very important person, I conquered

I think; therefore I waffle

The cat is dead

Honk if you're Scottish

Life is feudal

The king is dead. No kidding.

Support your local clown

I am three years old

Our cat has a boat

Fast French food

I came, I saw, I partied

Fast retort

Love; greetings; farewell; from such a pain you would never know

Don't leave your chateau without it

Platonic friend

I'm bossy around here

I think, therefore I yam
(OK, more than one letter)

I came, I saw, I stuck around
(OK, another exception)

He deserved it.

The Clearasil doesn't quite cover it up.

Out of any group, there's always one asshole

Actually thought of one of my own:
I think, therefore I eat