The Literary Internet

I got pointed at a kind of ‘interactive fan club’ for Angry Robot Books this week (cheers, Skuds). I have one of their titles sitting in the to-read pile, Moxyland by Lauren Buekes. When I get around to reading it, I’ll stick a review on here. Meanwhile I’ve signed up to the ‘Robot Army’. Seeing as I can’t get Firefox to work on one of my laptops, I’ve swapped out the links on the Ads bar on the left.

Meanwhile, I also stumbled onto something far more web-literate. Shadow Unit is a project which is based on the web, and is structured sort of like a TV series (indeed, it’s based on a unit of the FBI down the hall from the Behavioural Analysis Unit that is portrayed in Criminal Minds). There’s a wiki set up for it, and there are even character owned blogs which are updated in real time. It’s like, well meta!

I found it, by the way, because one of the project’s key figures, Elizabeth Bear, was guesting on Charlie Stross’s blog. Both writers are pretty interesting to read – especially in the light of various squabbles between publishing houses and Amazon over who who gets to profit most from the work of writer…

Regulator, heal thyself

The Press Complaints Commission has a new chair, Baroness Buscombe. Her maiden speech in this position basically follows these lines:

  • I’m a Tory peer
  • I don’t like regulation all that much, not like the government (boo hiss)
  • It was hard being in Opposition
  • It was good for the press to lay into MPs about expenses
  • The freedom of the press is very important
  • But you can be wrong sometimes, like when you criticise us in the House of Lords
  • Because the House of Lords is great at attacking the government when you in the media don’t
  • Self regulation is a good thing, and the PCC is marvellous, democratic even
  • But even though we shouldn’t bring in more press regulation, the internet is too free
  • Search engines and news aggregators are thieves
  • Google are bad because they think of the end users instead of us content providers

And thus the idea was born that the PCC should get involved in regulating more than just the newspaper industry. Blogs, it would seem, should come under their umbrella. Given how useless the PCC is, and how poorly the press seem to be doing at the job of not lying to us, I think it’s a bit of a cheek to think that they have anything to offer.

Liberal Conspiracy are running a letter, which anyone can sign, to object to the idea of extending the PCC’s remit to blogs or other media.

The power of the interwebs part 2

After outflanking overzealous lawyers for unscrupulous oil firms, the ‘blogosphere-twitterati’ axis had another shot at idiocy this week.

I don’t read the Daily Mail voluntarily, with it’s constant stream of drivel designed to invoke fear in the middle classes, the coded stories that play into BNP and racist tropes, utter tripe dressed up an science etc., but I did look at the comment piece by Jan Moir yesterday (here is a screen shot showing the original version, before it was ‘tidied up’ and retitled by the DM).

Despite her subsequent protestations of innocence and accusations of a ‘orchestrated campaign’, it looks very much to me like here homophobic article sparked spontaneous reaction. As for Trafigura, it was sparked by people reading the online version of a newspaper, and passing on their reactions to others. Rather than being orchestrated, what really seemed to happen was that people joined on to a bandwagon, adding their own suggestions (“complain to the Press Complaints Commission”, “oh, they will reject complaints if it’s not from those mentioned in the article, what about an advertiser boycott?”). Reading some of the articles and the comments beneath them, it certainly looks to me as if it was ad hoc, not planned out.

The most disgusting aspect of the whole affair is that Gately’s family are holding the funeral for him today. There really is a ghoulish element in the press – even though Moir said in her article that it wasn’t “being ghoulish to anticipate, or to be mentally braced for, [the] bad end: a long night, a mysterious stranger, an odd set of circumstances that herald a sudden death” having listed a group of still living people that she does this for, apparently. Sorry, but that pretty much is ghoulish – as is raking through the dirt on a guy barely dead a week and extrapolating all sorts of nonsense from it.

Anyone with any decency would at least hold off for the sake of his family and friends. Not the Daily fucking Heil though.

Good News / Bad News

Checking the recent activity on here, I noticed that there had been a few people clicking on the “Join Labour” ad (on the left hand side). Cool, I thought, someone has decided to join the party, and maybe I’ve helped to encourage them.

Turns out, though, that the link was out of date, and so whoever it was may have got a 404 screen, or if they were lucky, a relatively unhelpful list of possible pages.

I’ve fixed it now, so, should anyone be wanting to use it to join the Labour Party, they should be alright. Hope I haven’t lost us a member


For some reason Firefox ain’t working. A lot of people seem to have had problems with it crashing since v3.5 was released. As I tried the old uninstall-reinstall thing, I lost all me Add-ons and it still doesn’t start up without crashing. Worse than MS rubbish

So now I’m trying out Safari for a bit.

Quiet, innit?

No particular reason for my being quiet, and the only reason for this posting is that I noticed that the links needed a serious sorting out.

Renewed Labour and Let’s be Sensible have stopped months ago, and Labour Humanist hasn’t written anything since Christmas so they are gone. I can’t get on to Adam Brown’s site – or all I can get is a blank page – and I notice that Duncan Crow now has a blog so that was an easy 1-for-1 replacement (can’t have too many Tory councillor blogs getting publicity from me, can I?). Richard Symonds doesn’t use the Crawley Independent to blog anymore, he’s got his own forum which (once does contain the odd pearl of information about local doings, in amongst all the rest of what I can only call conspiracy theories, as much as it riles him).

The Crawley News site has been moved and relaunched. It’s much better, you get most of the paper’s stories and people can comment on them. The old one was shared with about three other papers based in Surrey (and was on and was very difficult to navigate. I’ll not comment on the quality of the journalism though. If you follow my other new link to the Maidenbower Forum, you will probably find someone moaning about grossly inaccurate reporting.

I know that there are probably a couple of new local sites that I should add in – Such as Ian Irvine’s blog, but I can’t remember what the url is and I’m about to eat my Sunday lunch soon.

Also, there’s going to be a new blog for Crawley to ‘celebrate’ all of the holes that appear in the town’s streets. When it’s up and running, it will get a trail here.

Local lad still doing well

I wonder if he knows it, but Iain Dale and his contributing baying Tory commenters have put our Skuds in the top 100 ‘left of centre blogs’ for the second year in a row.

Hey look! A bandwagon!

But one that I have no shame whatsoever in jumping on to.

As mentioned in my previous post, Alisher Usmanov has been accused of using his influence to get Fasthost to suppress criticism of him, resulting in the taking down of not only Craig Murray’ and Tim Ireland’s blogs, but also those of Boris Johnson, Bob Piper and other innocent bystanders.

This exertion of corporate financial muscle to try to stifle people’s opinions has had the effect of bringing far more interest in the activities of Mister Usmanov, who has a shady past and (perhaps more worryingly) a large stake in Arsenal FC.

And this is (as of the time of this post) the list of 251 blogs which have spoken out against the heavy-handed use of lawyers to shut down free speech:

Curious Hamster, Pickled Politics, Harry’s Place, Tim Worstall, Dizzy, Iain Dale, Ten Percent, Blairwatch, Davide Simonetti, Earthquake Cove, Turbulent Cleric (who suggests dropping a line to the FA about Mr Usmanov), Mike Power, Jailhouse Lawyer, Suesam, Devil’s Kitchen, The Cartoonist, Falco, Casualty Monitor, Forever Expat, Arseblog, Drink-soaked Trots (and another), Pitch Invasion, Wonko’s World, Roll A Monkey, Caroline Hunt, Westminster Wisdom, Chris K, Anorak, Mediawatchwatch, Norfolk Blogger, Chris Paul, Indymedia (with a list of Craig Murray’s articles that are currently unavailable), Obsolete, Tom Watson, Cynical Chatter, Reactionary Snob, Mr Eugenides, Matthew Sinclair, The Select Society, Liberal England, Davblog, Peter Gasston Pitch Perfect, Adelaide Green Porridge Cafe, Lunartalks, Tygerland, The Crossed Pond, Our Kingdom, Big Daddy Merk, Daily Mail Watch, Graeme’s, Random Thoughts, Nosemonkey, Matt Wardman, Politics in the Zeros, Love and Garbage, The Huntsman, Conservative Party Reptile, Ellee Seymour, Sabretache, Not A Sheep, Bartholomew’s Notes on Religion, The People’s Republic Of Newport, Life, the Universe & Everything, Arsenal Transfer Rumour Mill, The Green Ribbon, Blood & Treasure, The Last Ditch, Areopagitica, Football in Finland, An Englishman’s Castle, Freeborn John, Eursoc, The Back Four, Rebellion Suck!, Ministry of Truth, ModernityBlog, Beau Bo D’Or, Scots and Independent, The Splund, Bill Cameron, Podnosh, Dodgeblogium, Moving Target, Serious Golmal, Goonerholic, The Spine, Zero Point Nine, Lenin’s Tomb, The Durruti Column, The Bristol Blogger, ArseNews, David Lindsay, Quaequam Blog!, On A Quiet Day…, Kathz’s Blog, England Expects, Theo Spark, Duncan Borrowman, Senn’s Blog, Katykins, Jewcy, Kevin Maguire, Stumbling and Mumbling, Famous for 15 megapixels, Ordovicius, Tom Morris, AOL Fanhouse, Doctor Vee, The Curmudgeonly, The Poor Mouth, 1820, Hangbitch, Crooked Timber, ArseNole, Identity Unknown, Liberty Alone, Amused Cynicism, Clairwil, The Lone Voice, Tampon Teabag, Unoriginalname38, Special/Blown It, The Remittance Man, 18 Doughty Street, Laban Tall, Martin Bright, Spy Blog The Exile, poons, Jangliss, Who Knows Where Thoughts Come From?, Imagined Community, A Pint of Unionist Lite, Poldraw, Disillusioned And Bored, Error Gorilla, Indigo Jo, Swiss Metablog, Kate Garnwen Truemors, Asn14, D-Notice, The Judge, Political Penguin, Miserable Old Fart, Jottings, fridgemagnet, Blah Blah Flowers, J. Arthur MacNumpty, Tony Hatfield, Grendel, Charlie Whitaker, Matt Buck, The Waendel Journal, Marginalized Action Dinosaur, SoccerLens, Toblog, John Brissenden East Lower, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Peter Black AM, Boing Boing, BLTP, Gunnerblog, LFB UK, Liberal Revolution, Wombles, Focus on Sodbury…, Follow The Money, Freedom and Whisky, Melting Man, PoliticalHackUK, Simon Says…, Daily EM, From The Barrel of a Gun, The Fourth Place, The Armchair News Blog, Journalist und Optimist, Bristol Indymedia, Dave Weeden, Up North John, Gizmonaut, Spin and Spinners, Marginalia, Arnique, Heather Yaxley, The Whiskey Priest, On The Beat, Paul Canning, Martin Stabe, Mat Bowles, Pigdogfucker, Rachel North, B3TA board, Naqniq, Yorkshire Ranter, The Home Of Football, UFO Breakfast Recipients, Moninski , Kerching, e-clectig, Mediocracy, Sicily Scene, Samizdata, I blog, they blog, weblog, Colcam, Some Random Thoughts, Bel is thinking, Vino S, Simply Jews, Atlantic Free Press, Registan, Filasteen, Britblog Roundup #136, Scientific Misconduct Blog, Adam Bowie, Duncan at Abcol, Camera Anguish, A Very British Dude, Whatever, Central News, Green Gathering, Leighton Cooke (224), , Skuds’ Sister’s Brother, Contrast News, Poliblog Perspective, Parish Pump, El Gales, Noodle, Curly’s Corner Shop, Freunde der offenen Gesellschaft, otromundoesposible, Richard Stacy, Looking For A Voice, News Dissector, Kateshomeblog, Writes Like She Talks, Extra! Extra!, Committee To Protect Bloggers, Liberty’s Requiem, American Samizdat, The Thunder Dragon, Cybersoc, Achievable Life, Paperholic, Creative-i, Raedwald, Nobody’s Friend, Lobster Blogster, Panchromatica (251).

Mr Usmanov, how very dare you!

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I know I’ve been a bit quiet lately. August was not a good month, basically because not much happens to comment upon anyway, but primarily because my grandfather passed away after a brief illness.

This month I just haven’t had the energy to think much about posting, and I also spent a week on holiday (piling up the carbon tonnage by flying off to San Francisco – you can tell I’m not a member of the Green Party).

So, I didn’t post anything about the new Crawley Borough Council logo when it was unveiled a couple of weeks ago. To be honest, Skuds has already posted as much as one needs to know about it – it’s eerily similar to a draft for the Conservative logo from last year and even more like an MBNA image that is used. But then all multi-coloured trees are going to look alike, and it’s not so much the thing itself that I have a problem with, but the manner in which it has come about and the needless cost of going about the change.

Of more concern to me recently is that the BNP are putting a candidate up in a by-election in the Horsham District ward of Holbrook West (an area including part of the north of the town and a patch of semi-rural and rural land between Warnham and Rusper).

I missed the whole furore about Alisher Usmanov getting some blogs shut down after they criticised him (and in the process bringing down other, unrelated blogs). Not being a fully paid up member of the blogerati, it passed me by completely, but I have to add my disgust to that of the many bloggers who have protested about this abuse of corporate power. Chicken Yoghurt has the full skinny and Sunny Hundal at Pickled Politics has more here, here and here.

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A War on Errorism

Some science news. In fact, check out the rest of Tom Hamilton’s blog let’s be sensible to see how Daily Telegraph pundits who right on education can’t tell the difference between ‘half’ and ‘all’, and thing that degrees in advanced computing like Artificial Intelligence are useless, how ‘Dave’ thinks that a bare knuckle fight is a departure from Punch and Judy politics, and the things a wide range of idiots will say.

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