Electile Dysfunction – GE 2015

Electile Dysfunction – GE 2015

ObeyI think I’m in shock

I don’t remember being this disenfranchised 5 years ago when the party I had supported for years entered into an ill-advised coalition with the Conservatives.

As a supporter of a working system of Proportional Representation, I’ve never really been happy with the British electoral system.  At best first past the post is a pseudo-democracy and at worst it is a form of dictatorship to those who do not support the leading party.

Last night, as I followed the frighteningly accurate Exit Polls, a sense of deep dystopic foreboding filled me.

Refusing to be sucked into a night of tooth-gnashing angst, I tried to sleep.

My dreams were riddled with allegories: Caledonian warriors defecting from union armies and assisting the enemy in subjugating the masses – that kind of thing.

I woke around 3am, something that seems to be happening more and more these days, and the results were still too early to call.  Conservative, Labour and SNP all at a similar level.

When I rose again, later that morning, the Conservatives were on a clear path to victory.  With only a handful of seats to tally, the outcome was touted as being pretty much a done deal – and that is when the shock set in.

This is my fifth General Election, I was a year and a bit too young when John Major won a Tory victory back in 1992.

Today, more than any other post-polling day, I feel like my voice has been discarded.

The party I support have a small percentage of the vote, a similar percentage to another party.

At this stage in the tally, my party have a single seat and yet the other has over 50; how is that fair and democratic?

Worse than that, I have a genuine sense of being lied to.

I appreciate that my social circle are predominantly liberal/socialist and so my world view is coloured a kind of orangey-green but are there really that many Conservative voters out there?

When I campaigned for the Liberal Democrats 5 years ago, the general doorstep feedback was pro-Labour but my constituency remains a solid blue.

For the security of the voter, voting is anonymous but how, then, do I know that the votes tallied are genuine?

For all I know the figures were set well in advance of the election; exit polls could just as easily be rigged as they retain the same anonymity.

I’m not saying that I 100% support this theory of electoral conspiracy but I find it difficult to push the possibility from the front of my mind.

So here I am, on the first day of the New Dystopia, shackled with the illusion of a free and democratic society, ready for another 5 years of tyrannical rule.

So long NHS, I’ll miss the Insulin more than you might think.

God I Love Being a Turtle (Fan)

MikeyI would like to share my thoughts on Michael Bay‘s Ninja Turtles movie.  I am attempting to do so in such a manner as to avoid spoiling the movie for those who have not seen it.

My introduction to the Turtles came at some point in the eighties through some kind of unplanned Pincer Strike.

On the one side there was a censored (and retitled) cartoon series and on the other there was Palladium Books‘ tabletop role-playing game based on the original comic series by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.

The turtles were (nay, are) iconic and played a key part of my personal development through childhood to early adulthood.

Mocked at the time for being such a far fetched concept, many of the Turtles’ critics didn’t really get the message that the story held for others.

Eastman and Laird’s work parodied themes that were prevalent in comics at the time and yet portrayed strong heroic (and anti-heroic) character archetypes.

I’ve been a fan ever since and I’ve seen the Turtles evolve over the years, adapting to each new generation whilst still keeping to what they stand for.

From cartoon and action figure to previous live action movies. I’ve run tabletop role-playing sessions with the turtles and even seen them inspire a form of the lesser banishing pentagram ritual.

When I heard that Michael Bay was making a movie, I panicked a little. Having already ridden roughshod over another staple from my childhood, the man who twisted the Transformers into a mess of grinding girders now had his hands on the Turtles.

Last night, I finally plucked up the courage to go see Bay’s movie.

I’m almost ashamed to say it but I can often be “That Guy”. You know… the one who’s read the book before the film or seen the original before the reboot. So the chance was very high that I was going to spend the entire viewing criticizing and gnashing my teeth.

Surprisingly, I enjoyed it.

I feel I had just cause to be cautious. I had heard rumours that the liberties had been taken with the origin story and Megan Fox clearly isn’t red haired enough to play April… but actually, she did a good job and the revised origin made sense within the confines of Bay’s plot.

The only real complaint I had about the movie came with the inclusion of Mecha-Shredder.

Yes, Shredder is meant to rely on his barbed and bladed armour to give him the edge in combat but the I-Can’t-Believe-It-Doesn’t-Turn-Into-A-Fighter-Jet power armour that Shredder wore led to the kind of girder grinding battles that I hated in Transformers.

That being said, the origin story change wasn’t as bad as it could have been and by and large the characters were true to their archetypes.

No matter who your favourite turtle is, there’s something in there for every Turtles fan… except maybe fans of Casey Jones who doesn’t appear at all.

Most importantly, I left the cinema happy and not, as I expected to be, full of rage.

Elite: Lave – Revolution – A Blast from the Past

Lave: RevoloutionLike many gamers from my generation, I remember spending hours in front of my Father‘s BBC Micro, racking up credits and saving up for a Docking Computer or a better set of lasers on my Cobra Mk III in the vector space trading game Elite.

A lifetime later and Allen Stroud takes us back to those halcyon days with this cracking piece of science fiction.

I know Allen through LRP; he played a formative part in my understanding of much of the early game world of the Lorien Trust‘s system here in the UK.

He is also, in my opinion, a thoroughly nice chap.

Set in the systems neighbouring Lave, Elite: Lave Revolution (Elite: Dangerous) tells of the cosmo-political transition that Lave takes. From the Lave of my childhood to the Lave of the forthcoming (and long awaited) reboot of the Elite game. Elite – Dangerous.

Far form being “just another game tie-in”, Lave: Revolution is as gripping as it is cunning. The tale follows a number of characters through a maze of galactic conspiracy, deception and ultimately – planetary revolution.

The story is decorated with historical transcripts and technical factoids that add to the world in which Allen is weaving the tale but this only serves to add icing to what is already a well garnished tale.

After reading this in one sitting I am left thirsty for more – I’ll have to make do with the Elite – Dangerous beta and wait for Allen to write more.

When the Going Gets Tough…

mudderA couple of years ago a good friend of mine discovered that he had Cancer.

I’ve had a couple of scares in my life (who hasn’t?) but his story really struck home – similar age, life style and outlook on life, my friend had been struck with the big “C”.

Since then, my friend has recovered and has used turned the experience on its head, using it to drive his life in a positive manner.

Other have not been so lucky.

It’s probably my age but as I approach the big four-oh I lose more and more loved ones to Cancer: a good friend’s Father, a fellow LARPer… but still more fight Cancer and rely on charities like Macmillan to help them carry on the fight to survive.

At the back end of last year, my friend announced that he would be doing Tough Mudder, to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support.  He also asked if any of his friends would be up to the challenge with him.

Macmillan helped my friend out as he went through his cancer battle and I know many other people with similar stories of the support that Macmillan provide to people in need.

Naturally, I said “Hell yes!” to my  friend’s request and will be taking the Tough Mudder challenge with friends on September 13th 2014 in Cheshire.

Please support us by visiting our Just Giving page (De La Luna Tough Mudders) and making a donation.


Egged While Walking

eggfaceLast Monday I was assaulted, in a way that both literally and figuratively left me with egg on my face.

After successfully shedding over four stones last year, I have decided to carry over into 2014 in the same vein. So, Monday night I decided to try a new route.

My usual winter evening route has reached its expansion limits, at best I can make 6 miles on a night without straying too far into urbanity but to do more than 6 miles would mean looping over territory already covered and that would become a little too repetitive for me.

The new route takes me down into my local village and then the opposite way to my usual route. A good 7 miles minimum at first estimate.

My plan is a simple one, start 2014 at 5 – 7 miles of mixed walking and sprinting every other night and build up a mile a month until I can comfortably cover 12 miles without too much of a struggle.

Fitness wasn’t the only drive to change routes, I’ve recently started playing the augmented reality game Ingress and the only vulnerable enemy portals near me are on the new route.

So Monday night I started Endomondo and set out, down into Lindley, farming enemy portals in Ingress.

It was a nice start, despite having been relatively idle over the festive break, my fitness levels hadn’t dropped and I made a good pace through the village and up towards the M62.

3.5 miles in I cross the M62 and head on to my planned turning point, a church on route – co-incidentally the last of the enemy portals in Ingress.

The road up from the bridge over the M62 is poorly lit, poorly paved and poorly travelled. The occasional car speeds past on its way towards Rochdale but it’s my preferred walking environment – lonely and isolated.

I’d estimated that a turn around there would result in my returning home at the 7 mile mark – a circuit that could be expanded upon by moving the turning point forward by half a mile in future,

I hacked the Ingress portal and made the turn to start home, checking my progress in Endomondo to make sure I wasn’t short changing myself on distance.

I was suddenly struck in the face, throat and chest by what I took to be a hard snowball – an ice ball even.

Cold, hard and wet, I was knocked back by the blow.

Uttering an expletive, the realisation dawned that we have not had any snow yet this winter; I looked around to check as I wiped, what I thought was snow, away.

My hand came away with a mix of albumen, yolk, blood and shell.

I had been egged.

I think the embarrassment negated the rage and shock somewhat, although the anger seeped back in as my hand came away a second time doused in blood.

I could tell there was a wound, of sorts, bleeding profusely from my chin – and my throat and chest felt bruised.

The egg had hit at a fair speed. My memory, catching up with me, associated the impact with the passing by of a speeding car.

I had been egged from a passing car.

A third wipe and I determined that I was still bleeding.

One hand pressed against my chin and throat to stop the bleeding, whilst the other struggled with my, now egg-bound, phone.

The camera wouldn’t activate and so I decided to make my way back towards home (2 miles away) or hospital – (4 miles away – if needed).

The blood kept streaming, so I stopped at a local takeaway that had just closed for the night. The gentlemen inside let me in but didn’t have a mirror or first aid kit.

They let me stay there until the bleeding stopped and gave me paper towels to stop the flow.

As helpful as they were, the chaps in the takeaway couldn’t really help me identify the severity of the source of the bleeding, so I decided to set out again whilst phoning my other half for help.

When I finally got the phone free of blood and yolk, I managed to take the photograph above and realised that actually I wasn’t badly cut at all.

A swollen chin, minor cuts on the chin and in the mouth; and a chest full of egg.

In the aftermath I called 111 to go through a medical check-list and then 101 to inform the local police – although there is nothing they can do with no description of the assailant or the assailant’s vehicle.

Four days on and I have already made sure that I get out again, albeit on a third route. I did find myself flinching as cars passed but that didn’t last long.

It does seem that I am not alone, this kind of assault appears to be surprisingly common.

I’ve heard of walkers, runners, cyclists and equestrians being pelted with eggs, stones, bottles and cans; even being shot with pellet guns in more extreme cases.

I just count myself lucky that I was not hit in the eye and that I haven’t come across this activity before – hopefully it is quite rare.

2013 in Brief

I’ve not written as much throughout this year as I have previously but that stands as testimony to the amount of time that has been dedicated elsewhere.

For one, I lost 4.5 stone in the run up to Christmas 2013.  If I can do half as much again next year, I’ll be a happy man.

Dropping 20% in weight has done my health a world of good.  My daily insulin dosage has dropped, my blood pressure dropped 5%, meaning I am no longer on the cusp of hypertension and I feel better than I have for over a decade.

Other than that, 2013 has been a hard year – if 2014 is going to be as difficult it can jog on.

Anyway, here’s the annual WordPress review for this blog…

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 20,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 7 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Lost in (Google) Translation

Earlier today we had a debate in the office over the correct pronunciation of Kronenbourg 1664 in French.

A colleague was adamant that the sibilant eruption of esses and queues pouring forth from his mouth was the correct phrase but it didn’t ring true.

Sadly, the speed and energy of the discussion through my knowledge of the Gallic tongue out of the nearest window and so I quickly fell back on trusty Google translate.

That was my first mistake.

Actually, it was my second; the first was getting involved in the debate in the first place.

Google Translate appears to translate numbers that are entered as test as numbers if the written number appears to be related to a date.

For example:


The phrase “nineteen eighty four” becomes the number “1984” and not “dix-neuf quatre vingt quatre”, as would be expected.

Entering the numbers on different lines pulls the correct translation through.


This may seem intuitive for written translations but is absolutely counter-productive when looking for assistance with spoken language.

For the record, my colleague’s declaration of “Soixante Soixante Quatre” is incorrect; the correct phrase is “Seize Soixante-Quatre”.

Armed with this knowledge, I can break my longer numbers up in future but this may be useful for those of you who may be looking at using Google Translate to help with spoken word translations.