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The National Television Awards 2010

22 January, 2010

Did anyone see this piece of crap?

I mean, yeah, I know it’s only an awards show and yeah, sure, Doctor Who got some awards so I heard but somehow a show that gives awards to a few shows I like but simultaneously gives awards to shows I detest (soaps, reality shows and all that kind of TV shyte) doesn’t quite seem to cut it with me. I suppose that in order to see an award for a show I like as valuable I have to believe that the awards themselves have value and if the awards are being given out to shows I despise then I don’t see them as valuable.

I mean, let’s be straight here, when I say “despise” I don’t mean simply “don’t like” … I don’t like “Life On Mars”,  I don’t like “Taggart”, I don’t like “Inspector Morse” or “Boys From The Black Stuff” or “Spooks” or “Bleak House” or many, many other shows but I don’t sneer at them either, I can see that they’re exceptionally well made dramas that I don’t happen to like. But I do (most emphatically) despise each and every single soap and reality show to some degree or other, I despise quiz shows as a rule (and I’m not talking “QI”, “Have I Got News For You” or “Mock The Week” here) and I despise fly on the wall documentaries and shit like that. I think they’re cheap arsed crap that are being fed to a gullible, all too accepting public and that being an entertainer is both a privilege and a responsibility, that they have the responsibility to produce good stuff, to make it intelligent, to make it clever to make it in some way special.

And when the hell did programs like “The Apprentice”, “Come Dine With Me” and “Loose Women” become “Factual” programmes?

So no Sir, frankly the awards that Doctor Who got from the National Television Awards should be displayed in the place it most deserves, the rubbish bin!

Kyuuketsuki: Angry Atheism & “Science, Just Science” Campaign (co-founder)

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In Memory Of My Brother

17 October, 2009

2 years ago today my brother, my brother’s brother, my mother’s son and my children’s and nephew’s uncle died.

There’s no way to express my feeling about this so I am going to post the speech I wrote for his funeral.

“Paul Arthur Rocks – An Epitaph
James Rocks

Tuesday 20th October 2007

Like our Dad Paul had strong views and frequently engaged in “loud discussions” with others over them. Many a Christmas was spent in the local hostelry with Dad, Paul, Sean & Grandad discussing politics and me and Mike making inane quips from the sidelines. Paul always expressed his views strongly, always genuinely believing he was right and would try to persuade others of his views with enthusiasm, throwing at them point after point in an effort to drive his views to the fore, selling his views almost as if he were selling the latest technological innovation.

There were times he would deliberately pick arguments and stances that would challenge so much that he could drive you up the wall, round the corner and down the street. But no one, no one could ever stay mad at Paul for long and, as many have kindly said since his death, he was charming, dynamic, witty, compulsive, wore a genuine smile that is hard to describe and had an infectious laugh best heard just before the punch-line of his latest joke or story. He could (and did) disarm others almost immediately and any issue that person had with him would be forgotten in minutes … I was no exception to that. I often sought his approval and that is something (a talent if you like) I envied about him, something I am at a loss to explain.

One of my fondest memories of him was when we, his brothers, met him in a London hostelry. Paul was last to arrive (as always) and did so with his hair tied back, wearing a long dark mafia-style coat, walked straight up to us stuck out his hand (upon which he wore a ring) and, with a hint of laughter, said, “You may kiss the hand of The Don” … we collapsed in hysterics. My last memory, the one I think I will cherish the most, is after a drink we had a few weeks ago; Paul was last to arrive (as always), the “loud discussion” had started and, for whatever reason, there was more than a hint of acrimony as we parted but for no reason I can remember I called Paul late at night when I was near my home … I sat for about 15 minutes on a wall outside my house chatting to him, him telling me how much he valued me as a brother and how much he loved me.

It would be easy to be sad, it’s hard to imagine never seeing the dynamo that was Paul again but I know he’d want us to remember him as the person he was, to delight in the life he had and not drown ourselves in sorrow at his loss. He would want us to get up and get on with our lives with no more than a hint of wistful regret that he is no longer part of it.

Paul, you were/are my brother and I will miss you, you loved your family so very much and I only have one thing to say to you, “Right back at ya Bruv, right back at ya!””

Paul, you we’re a major pain in the arse, but you were OUR pain in the arse … I miss you, I remember you with the deepest affection and I will always love the person you were.

In Memory & With Love.

Your brother, James
Kyuuketsuki, Angry Atheism

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Why I Gave Up Donating Via eBay/MissionFish

24 August, 2009

I’m an enthusiastic eBayer I buy and sell stuff all the time on it … it’s one of the few ways I can keep my computers up-to-date because I don’t earn a great deal and all of that goes to keeping us in a house, food, bills and a daughter in university.  I’m also a humanist and like to donate money to charities I consider worthwhile … one of these is the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science (RDF) so you can imagine my excitement when I discovered that eBay had a charity facility awesome, now I could earn money to buy myself AND I could put money into something worthwhile.

Sure like every other seller I resent the fees eBay charges but more than that I get pissed when they screw up or do things badly. So the first problem I had was that when I created my charity account I couldn’t access it … I contacted MissionFish (the company that handled the charity arrangements) and they said it was eBay’s responsibility. So I contacted eBay and they said (you guessed it) it was MissionFish’s responsibility but that wasn’t what really bugged me (though it became relevant). My second problem was that the donation took no account of profit so I was being charged on my total money gained BEFORE eBay took the fees and that meant that in some situations (typically for smaller items) I could end up paying more out that I actually got back.

Being me, wanting to buy computer stuff with my hard earned cash, the first thing I wanted to do once I was sure the buyer was happy was spend it … but MissionFish have a setup rather like Direct Debit and took the money at a time of their choosing sometime in the next 30 days or so, without access to my charity account, I had to keep track of charity donations (which ones had and which ones had not been paid) and this was largely beyond my organisational abilities. It came to a head when I forgot I had a charity payment to be taken and was smacked by eBay bills and I didn’t have sufficient funds in PayPal to cover it so not only did  I no longer have any funds to play with the next thing PayPal dowse is take it from your credit card … so, in my attempt to try and be slightly philanthropic I ended up in debt … result!

So I have given up using eBay/MissionFish as my charity donation mechanism and now directly advertise on eBay sales that I will give a percentage of my profits (once I know them) to RDF … this means I can easily manage when I pay my donations and even means I can donate more to RDF because I know what I am spending is exactly what I am spending and goes exactly when I want it to.

Sorry eBay/MissionFish … nice try but it just didn’t work for me.

Kyuuketsuki (Co-Founder: “Science, Just Science” Campaign)

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CFI: A Time For Reason

24 September, 2008

Center For Inquiry have just released this video:

In my opinion this is one of the simplest, most moving and most inspiring videos I have seen for a very, very long time!

Kyuuketsuki (Co-Founder: “Science, Just Science” Campaign)

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NY Times: Put A Little Science In Your Life

3 June, 2008

I saw a link to this article and felt it said what I wanted to say about why I continue to be an atheist much better than I could:

Put a Little Science in Your Life

BRIAN GREENE
June 1, 2008

A COUPLE of years ago I received a letter from an American soldier in Iraq. The letter began by saying that, as we’ve all become painfully aware, serving on the front lines is physically exhausting and emotionally debilitating. But the reason for his writing was to tell me that in that hostile and lonely environment, a book I’d written had become a kind of lifeline. As the book is about science — one that traces physicists’ search for nature’s deepest laws — the soldier’s letter might strike you as, well, odd.

But it’s not. Rather, it speaks to the powerful role science can play in giving life context and meaning. At the same time, the soldier’s letter emphasized something I’ve increasingly come to believe: our educational system fails to teach science in a way that allows students to integrate it into their lives.

Allow me a moment to explain.

When we consider the ubiquity of cellphones, iPods, personal computers and the Internet, it’s easy to see how science (and the technology to which it leads) is woven into the fabric of our day-to-day activities. When we benefit from CT scanners, M.R.I. devices, pacemakers and arterial stents, we can immediately appreciate how science affects the quality of our lives. When we assess the state of the world, and identify looming challenges like climate change, global pandemics, security threats and diminishing resources, we don’t hesitate in turning to science to gauge the problems and find solutions.

And when we look at the wealth of opportunities hovering on the horizon — stem cells, genomic sequencing, personalized medicine, longevity research, nanoscience, brain-machine interface, quantum computers, space technology — we realize how crucial it is to cultivate a general public that can engage with scientific issues; there’s simply no other way that as a society we will be prepared to make informed decisions on a range of issues that will shape the future.

These are the standard — and enormously important — reasons many would give in explaining why science matters.

But here’s the thing. The reason science really matters runs deeper still. Science is a way of life. Science is a perspective. Science is the process that takes us from confusion to understanding in a manner that’s precise, predictive and reliable — a transformation, for those lucky enough to experience it, that is empowering and emotional. To be able to think through and grasp explanations — for everything from why the sky is blue to how life formed on earth — not because they are declared dogma but rather because they reveal patterns confirmed by experiment and observation, is one of the most precious of human experiences.

[Read The Rest Of The Article Here]

Despite some people’s ignorance, wilful or otherwise, of such things science matters, science not only explains things, it affects social progress, it enables communication and so much more … without science I believe we would still be in dark ages under the dominion of tyrannical religious organisations, more slave than anything else.

Kyuuketsuki (Co-Founder: “Science, Just Science” Campaign)

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The Rules

23 February, 2008

A slightly late bit of humour for Valentines day:

The Rules

1. The FEMALE always makes the rules.

2. The RULES are subject to change at any time without prior notification.

3. No MALE can possibly know all the RULES.

4. If the FEMALE suspects the MALE knows all the RULES, she must immediately change some or all of them.

5. The FEMALE is never wrong.

6. If the FEMALE is wrong, it is due to a misunderstanding which was a direct result of something the MALE did or said wrong.

7. The MALE must apologize immediately for causing the misunderstandings.

8. The FEMALE may change her mind at any time.

9. The MALE must never change his mind without the express written consent of the FEMALE.

10. The FEMALE has every right to be angry or upset at any time.

These are, in my opinion, so true … there are extended versions out there but I think these 10 rules really sum it up!

Kyuuketsuki (Co-Founder: “Science, Just Science” Campaign)

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On The US WGA Writer’s Strike “Deal”

16 February, 2008

I was glad when the WGA strike was over, even more glad that I thought they had got some measure of what they wanted but if Harlan Ellison (I assume the same as the respected SF author and a significant force behind Babylon 5) is typical of the view the WGA memebers hold they were shafted:

HARLAN ELLISON ON THE WRITERS STRIKE SETTLEMENT

YOU HAVE MY PERMISSION TO RE-POST THIS ANYWHERE:

Creds: got here in 1962, written for just about everybody, won the Writers Guild Award four times for solo work, sat on the WGAw Board twice, worked on negotiating committees, and was out on the picket lines with my NICK COUNTER SLEEPS WITH THE FISHE$$$ sign. You may have heard my name. I am a Union guy, I am a Guild guy, I am loyal. I fuckin’ LOVE the Guild.

And I voted NO on accepting this deal.

My reasons are good, and they are plentiful; Patric Verrone will be saddened by what I am about to say; long-time friends will shake their heads; but this I say without equivocation…

THEY BEAT US LIKE A YELLOW DOG. IT IS A SHIT DEAL. We finally got a timorous generation that has never had to strike, to get their asses out there, and we had to put up with the usual cowardly spineless babbling horse’s asses who kept mumbling “lessgo bac’ta work” over and over, as if it would make them one iota a better writer. But after months on the line, and them finally bouncing that pus-sucking dipthong Nick Counter, we rushed headlong into a shabby, scabrous, underfed shovelfulla shit clutched to the affections of toss-in-the-towel summer soldiers trembling before the Awe of the Alliance.

My Guild did what it did in 1988. It trembled and sold us out. It gave away the EXACT co-terminus expiration date with SAG for some bullshit short-line substitute; it got us no more control of our words; it sneak-abandoned the animator and reality beanfield hands before anyone even forced it on them; it made nice so no one would think we were meanies; it let the Alliance play us like the village idiot. The WGAw folded like a Texaco Road Map from back in the day.

And I am ashamed of this Guild, as I was when Shavelson was the prexy, and we wasted our efforts and lost out on technology that we had to strike for THIS time. 17 days of streaming tv!!!????? Geezus, you bleating wimps, why not just turn over your old granny for gang-rape?

You deserve all the opprobrium you get. While this nutty festschrift of demented pleasure at being allowed to go back to work in the rice paddy is filling your cowardly hearts with joy and relief that the grips and the staff at the Ivy and street sweepers won’t be saying nasty shit behind your back, remember this:

You are their bitches. They outslugged you, outthought you, outmaneuvered you; and in the end you ripped off your pants, painted yer asses blue, and said yes sir, may I have another.

Please excuse my temerity. I’m just a sad old man who has fallen among Quislings, Turncoats, Hacks and Cowards.

I must go now to whoops. My gorge has become buoyant.

Respectfully, Yr. Pal, Harlan Ellison

I suspect my good friend Ben will have more to say about this!

Kyuuketsuki (Co-Founder: “Science, Just Science” Campaign)