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Just passing.. [Mar. 8th, 2011|11:02 pm]
[Current Location |Edinburgh]
[Current Mood |Fine]
[Current Music | -- Groove Station]

Hellooo LiveJournal! How y'all doing? x
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Want to get involved in Beltane Fire Festival? [Mar. 21st, 2010|04:56 am]

A message on behalf of Nightwatch;

We are currently looking for Stewards and Torchbearers for the procession at Beltane…

Stewards are the guardians and storytellers of the procession in Beltane. We help to keep the spectators away from the performers so that the performance can run smoothly. As the only performers allowed to speak to the spectators, we also answer their questions about the performance and the festival. This year we’re hoping to not only learn about how to interact with the crowd, but also to learn about each of the separate groups and performances we will be protecting on the night.

The Torchbearers stand at the borders of the procession or performance space. Dark-clad and -painted, they appear almost as shadows besides the torches with which they illuminate the path around the Hill and the performance points. As well as lighting the procession (all the fire you’ll see on the Hill came initially from them), the torchbearers work with the Blue Men and stewards to hold the line between audience and performers.

Practices for both groups are on Sundays at 1:45pm in the car park on Calton Hill, with a social night at a pub usually on Thursdays. We are also hoping later in the run-up to have at least one practice with each of the other groups to get to meet other performers and learn about their performance. The social nights are not mandatory, but are a good way to get to know the group better.

If you are interested then please pop us an email at so that we know to expect you.

Crossposted from my blog.
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Labour, Tories, Co-operatives and Mutualism [Feb. 16th, 2010|05:06 am]

Hah, this is interesting. Not only has Labour come out in favour of mutualism, but the Tories have more recently announced their radicalism by supporting the idea of mutuals and co-ops in the public sector.

The cynic in me says that both parties are doing it to shed responsibility, but the reformist in me says that this kind of libertarian socialist-esq decentralisation is so desperately required. My problem with this though is that a) both parties have utterly horrible track records in so many areas towards fucking about with politicing the political system for their own gain, and b) that it’ll be a less than half-baked implementation from either of them which could fuck up major areas of UK society, wot like Thatcher did, again. Overall, the optimist in me thinks it sounds like a good start, and I guess it will depend on their specific plans which I’m sure will become clearer in the run up to the election…

Update: This really doesn’t make me feel secure about the mechanics assumed by the current ‘Big Society’ policy.

Crossposted from my blog.
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Killing civilians in computer games [Nov. 16th, 2009|09:35 pm]

Around three weeks ago this story appeared on geek/gamer news sites;

Leaked Modern Warfare 2 Footage Shocks – Game play from the upcoming Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, which appears to cast players in the role of a terrorist, has caused a maelstrom on the Internet.”

I didn’t bother looking into it at the time because killing innocents in games isn’t new (think GTA, etc), but now it has been reported that the Russian government has ordered the game to be recalled from stores due to this, noting “The mission in question features a civilian slaughter carried out at the behest of a Russian terrorist named Makarov.”

So, some context; here is a video of the entire airport terrorist attack mission. If that has gone by the time you read this, YouTube search for “Modern Warfare terrorist”.

Ultimately I take the progressive view that self-aware people who play games know there is an obvious distinction between what goes on in the game world and what goes on in real life, the exact same thing with literature, theatre, cinema, etc. I don’t think that the interactive nature of the medium changes anything – arguing that it subconsciously changes people’s values is bunkum.

Saying that, society is so often described to be shit these days due to, in my opinion, a horrible feedback loop involving parents and the education system, in that there hasn’t been good progressive carrot replacement to making people think about the repercussions of their actions now that the conservative and authoritarian nature of discipline that was used in past times has been shown to be an illiberal way of doing things and thus phased out (as in, time has ironed out the hypocrisy of those who could arguably could been classed as generally ‘classical liberal’ in tone who were also social conservatives, in the same kind of way as the founding fathers of USA owning slaves, etc).

Bottom line: There are both ‘positive‘ and ‘negative‘ aspects of liberty, parents should parent their kids on this and other such topics, and social conservatives should eventually die and allow the education system to become more enlightened.

Crossposted from my blog.
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On the controversial Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement treaty [Nov. 13th, 2009|03:39 am]
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“Here’s a 20-minute, must-see lecture on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement — the secret copyright treaty currently being negotiated, which stands to fatally wound all user-generated content sites from mailing lists to YouTube; which stands to criminalize kids for noncommercial file-sharing; which stands to put your internet connection in jeopardy if anyone in your house is accused of infringement, and much, much more.” link

The video is nicely succinct on where it has come from, is at and might go, but Wikipedia has more background information on the whole thing.

Crossposted from my blog.
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High on science [Nov. 9th, 2009|02:59 am]
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After a few ciders during a viewing of the hour long ‘A Universe From Nothing’ by Lawrence Krauss, AAI 2009 on the curiosities of cosmology at a Richard Dawking Foundation event, I return to the the glorious creations of John Boswell (aka melodysheep on YouTube), who edited, vocoded and accompanied various video clips on the science of everything, primarily featuring Carl Sagan, into a couple of amazing music videos that fill me with awe and make me wonder so as to how anyone can believe in mysticism when science can, while explaining so so much, offer so many other opportunities in the realm of unknowns to be explored and explained.

In saying that, it’s not that schools of thought based in mysticism don’t have insights and perhaps truths to tell, whether it be from morality to psychology or sociology, but, if you’re going to argue towards a system being right or wrong, you have to understand that a) a system isn’t greater than the sum of it’s parts and b) other systems may have rationales better than others and thus your own ’system’ is the wrong kind of paradigm to think of ideas as, and thus be willing to factor in alternative arguments and potentially even “hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted” and start from afresh to get closer to a ‘truth’ of a matter before declaring you’re on the right path to a fundamental knowledge of something. If you don’t understand the arguments, go back and see what they are based on. Be radical. It’s not like that word doesn’t have it’s etymological root for nowt.

n.b. the paragraph above is half-baked and requiring of a sober milky to write a proper essay on it at some point, maybe.

p.s. some comments on the videos

Crossposted from my blog.
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Some press regarding Samhuinn [Nov. 4th, 2009|10:06 pm]
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A few brief notes.

Disclaimer: My views are not that of Beltane Fire Society, thank you!

Google News search gives;

Beltane good way to mark the coming of winter days

Sacrificing clarity for an awful pun with the headline there. Some unfortunately incorrect statements which handily come in order of ‘wut?’; “stilt-walkers dressed as crows and wolves, among other predatory animals”, “The Cailleach, who embodies the Winter aspect”, “The festival is believed to be based on pagan celebrations which predate the Celtic culture”

The comments on the article being evidence of the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory (protip; typing “fuckwad theory” into [Firefox's] address bar and hitting enter gets you straight there).

Revellers join Samhuinn fun

Brief and generally correct, apart from the “ghastly ghouls and demons” in the first paragraph which could have been averted if the author had searched their own news archives for “samhuinn”.

Celebrate ancient traditions with Samhuinn festival, while coming from a PR style perspective, is much better thought out.

Until, that is, one gets to “With the festival ending in a dazzling firework display at West Parliament Square, the Edinburgh sky will be lit up, offering spectacular sights for local and tourists – including those who choose to rent a castle in Scotland – alike.” In parsing that sentence, I started out thinking “oh cripes, they’ve heard there will be flares and have decided to apply artistic license and spin the facts to make it sound a better report, ‘cos, like, well, who’s gonna check?’”, then I got to “including those who choose to rent a castle in Scotland” and the WUT kicked in.

It continues “However, with much of the celebrations taking place outside, visitors may want to ensure they bring hats, scarves and other warm clothes into their Scottish holiday homes to keep the chill away.” and “Once the procession is over, visitors may find that opting to stay in a self catering castle gives them the chance to carry on the new year celebrations in style before taking in everything else this stunning city has to offer.”

Then it clicked – the phrases “rent a castle in Scotland”, “Scottish holiday homes”, “self catering castle” are links to This, if you’re not familiar with some of the antics folk get up to in the domain of PR, is astroturfing, and in this kind of instance, an attempt to, by writing a blog/forum/other post that seems to be grassroots but that is not, trick Google’s PageRank algorithm into thinking that the linked-to website has more people honestly referencing it online than there actually are. This one is a more sophisticated and “above board” than a fake blog in that it’s within the “Travel Partners” section of and does actually note “Scotts Castle Holidays” in the top left, though it’s still pretty sneaky and I wonder how much travelbite gets for such articles.

Also, it notes “Visitors will also find that hot chocolate and mulled wine stalls which line the streets should help them to stave off the cold”, which, while greatly grander than the reality of the situation, was correct in some regard – a thank you to the Edinburgh City Mission for providing free hot drinks to our punters as I’m sure some eedjits will have come out without forethought to the situation they’d be putting themselves in, i.e., outside for an hour and a half at this time of year. That comes from the top of my secular humanist heart rather than the bottom for your trying to convert folk, but hey, the world isn’t black and white. Your PR was “better” than previous Samhuinn Fire Festivals, although less amusing.

Crossposted from my blog.
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Things and Stuff – What’s left of October and a bit more [Oct. 21st, 2009|07:45 am]
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stuff and thingsCollapse )

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Geek discussion easy reply checklist meme [Oct. 19th, 2009|12:48 am]
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For my reference and those interested;

And an older USENET POSTING objection form letter.

Anyone have any more?

Crossposted from my blog.
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Finally [Oct. 5th, 2009|10:29 pm]
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I can now forgive They Might Be Giants for their earlier misleading comments.

Crossposted from my blog.
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An 1.5TB external hard drive [Sep. 24th, 2009|04:08 pm]
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I’m looking to purchase one very soon. Amazon has it’s cheapest at £89.99 (Seagate Expansions 1.5TB External Desktop USB 2.0 Hard Drive), free delivery. PC world has the same drive online for £93, though you can buy online and pickup (and take back if it breaks) IRL. has it for 117 – s’like fuck that shit.

Does anyone have any recommendations for hardware shopping sites I should check out that do good deals and service? Thanks!

Crossposted from my blog.
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September Things and Stuff [Sep. 8th, 2009|05:02 am]
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September’s here again….

It’s 5am. Do you know where your sun is? Still well beyond the horizon. Damn it, going to bed when it’s not daylight feels wrong..

The wiki has been separated into pages, oOo! I’ve decided to go with a spaces/groups/etc section taxonomy, shall see how far that gets me..

Check it @

Now for some events. I’d recommend the Doors Open Day. Hae a gander at what’s available on the site, plan a trip around the city, whatnot.

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Flying Saucer [Sep. 5th, 2009|12:40 am]
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[Current Location |Edinburgh]
[Current Music |BBC Radio 4 - More or Less]

martling's fabulous flying contraption at the Dorkbot assisted Dubversion in The Forest hall last week;

That evening I also had great fun pushing 0olong's buttons.
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Augmented Reality in a Contact Lens [Sep. 4th, 2009|09:24 pm]
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“A new generation of contact lenses built with very small circuits and LEDs promises bionic eyesight” link

This article made the transhumanist in me squee. A few quotes;

“These lenses don’t give us the vision of an eagle or the benefit of running subtitles on our surroundings yet. But we have built a lens with one LED, which we’ve powered wirelessly with RF. What we’ve done so far barely hints at what will soon be possible with this technology.

“We’ve built several simple sensors that can detect the concentration of a molecule, such as glucose. Sensors built onto lenses would let diabetic wearers keep tabs on blood-sugar levels without needing to prick a finger. …

“We’ve fabricated prototype lenses with an LED, a small radio chip, and an antenna, and we’ve transmitted energy to the lens wirelessly, lighting the LED. …

“The LEDs by themselves merely produce a fuzzy splotch of color in the wearer’s field of vision. Somehow the image must be pushed away from the cornea. One way to do that is to employ an array of even smaller lenses placed on the surface of the contact lens. …

“Normal contact lenses that correct for astigmatism are weighted on the bottom to maintain a specific orientation, give or take a few degrees. I figure the same technique could keep a display from tilting (unless the wearer blinked too often!). …

“The true promise of this research is not just the actual system we end up making, whether it’s a display, a biosensor, or both. We already see a future in which the humble contact lens becomes a real platform, like the iPhone is today, with lots of developers contributing their ideas and inventions. As far as we’re concerned, the possibilities extend as far as the eye can see, and beyond.”

Crossposted from my blog.
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SMBC Theater [Aug. 31st, 2009|12:32 pm]
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*discovers that Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal also comes in live action format!*

Crossposted from my blog.
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A Things and Stuff update for the latter half of August [Aug. 18th, 2009|04:33 am]

As title.

The website has seen many additions as of late. Thanks to the few peeps so far who have contributed links! View it at

Also, I’ve been bothering to update Twitter more as of late. Check it at

The Three Free Fringes:
? PBH’s Free Fringe -
? Laughing Horse’s Free Festival -
? Forest Fringe -

plus many free events at:
Festival of Politics - Tuesday 18 to Saturday 22 August - The Scottish Parliament -

edinburgh people’s festival -

Read more...Collapse )

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Progressive social movement FAIL [Aug. 17th, 2009|10:52 pm]
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So there have been a number of organisations in the UK rallying for social change and reform on certain issues where progressive ideas and methodology could Make Things Better.

Two of the larger events that have happened within the last several months have been the Convention on Modern Liberty and Reboot Britain.

One might think, fantastic, two groups looking to question the status quo by exploring and discussing themes such as civil liberties, public services, digital rights, etc, both of which have tried to garner and harness input from the common man through the blogosphere, Twitter, etc.

One might think “well, I’d guess there’d be some amount of overlap between the groups interested in what came out of both of these hubs of discourse, no?”, but google “reboot britain” “convention on modern liberty” and you get three results.

S’like, WTF? Come on now, you spent all that time, effort and money on a location, speakers, putting websites and videos online, etc, and you don’t seem to have made an attempt to have a look around to see what affiliations could be made so that you could point interested parties at each other.

While top down systems of organisation in social movements are a bad idea, there’s definitely an argument that, if you have the resources and want to help, then you can be an open hub and help create connections between the grassroots so they can gain knowledge (news, opinion, tactics, etc).

I read a fantastic article by Harry Halpin and Kay Summer in Turbulence on this subject a few months ago (I know Harry, anarchist and W3C semantic web guru, from a web geek unconference at Edinburgh Uni a couple of years ago and then through The Forest).

“Will the upsurge in activity around climate change and the food crisis repeat the cycle of the movement of movements over the past decade – momentary visibility then dissolution? Harry Halpin and Kay Summer say ‘yes’, unless different models of organising are embraced.” link

It ties in with the reasoning behind why I’m so interested in using open source content management systems as distributed social networks so that one can be properly autonomous with the software it takes to create a presence on-line while allowing information of various types to flow between oneself and other agents.

Back to the issue at hand. The lame duck here appears to have been Reboot Britain. Google for “convention on modern liberty” “open rights group” and you get 1370 results, while “reboot britain” “open rights group” returns a relatively paltry 53. I’m sure the latter could have done more (something? anything?) in the way of saying “oh, btw, why not checkout what the leading digital rights organisation in the UK has to say?”.

But the point remains - ironically one that Howard Rheingold touches on at his Reboot Britain talk (no, I can’t link directly to it as they’ve decided to wall their videos in one monolithic flash app, though it’s the far bottom presentation on here) - that in the age of the internet, you have to acquire and/or strengthen certain kinda of literacies to make the most of what is available, i.e., why should you trust (or not) certain sources and arguments and how to step back and seek out alternative and similar points of view so you don’t miss a trick.

“Will our grandchildren grow up knowing how to pluck the answer to any question out of the air, summon their social networks to assist them, organize political movements and markets online? Will they collaborate to solve problems, participate in online discussions as a form of civic engagement, share and teach and learn? Or will they grow up knowing that the online world is a bewildering puzzle to which they have few clues, a dangerous neighbourhood where their identities can be stolen, a morass of spam and porn, misinformation and disinformation, urban legends, hoaxes, and scams?”

I’m not as sceptical as Douglas Rushkoff in his recent op-ed An End to Movements where he argues “The best techniques for galvanizing a movement have long been co-opted and surpassed by public relations and advertising firms. Whether a movement is real or Astroturf has become almost impossible for even discerning viewers to figure out.”

Saying that, he concludes with “By creating and branding a movement, even the most well-meaning activists are disconnecting from terra firma, and instead entering the world of marketing, public opinion, and language selection. Potential participants, meanwhile, are distracted from whatever on-the-ground, constructive and purposeful activity they might do. They get to join an abstracted movement, and participate by belonging instead of doing, or blogging instead of acting.” which, while I feel is still OTT and misses the worth of organisations as forums for knowledge sharing and how one can use elements of trust to network and plurality to belong to or have a form of solidarity with groups with differing schools of thought, there are certain truths to - that the map is not the territory and that one needs to see how far they can act and communicate in their own life, both on a local and global scale, to tie together their principles and lifestyles and give a good example as to how things can be done differently or what policies and changes we should be demanding from those in (and out of) governance.

I think I might have said what I wanted to get across there :)

Crossposted from my blog.
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The UK Pirate Party [Aug. 12th, 2009|04:54 pm]
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I think the UK Pirate Party will be a worthy proponent of certain progressive views on digital rights and related issues in the current UK parliamentary system, but that they will need some at least basic general economic, education, health, security, etc policies/affiliations/agreements, a la the Green Party, to draw attention from more average or undecided voters.

Hmm, I need to do political science research on varieties of devolved, participatory and direct democracy to see what possible progressive systems and methods have been suggested as a pluralistic alternative to the party whip system.. Also, more teeth to select committees? Thoughts or suggestions?

Crossposted from my blog.
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Things and Stuff: Start of August update [Aug. 1st, 2009|05:55 am]

Oh gawd, festival time is coming to be upon us. More on that soon.

For now, misc things and stuff.

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Steampunk [Aug. 1st, 2009|03:41 am]
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“A Steampunk Night behind tePOOKa’s Big Red Door / £10 / 8.30pm - 3am

“After the R1001’s recent tour of the borders of Her Majesty’s empire and colonies the airship and her crew will be joining the Lady Lawson for their quarterly Rest and Recreation.

“We cordially invite all Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Realm to adorn their finery and join us aboard the R1001 when it docks behind tePOOKa’s Big Red Door on the 21st of August 2009 at 20:30hrs for Edinburgh’s first Steampunk extravaganza. Entertainment will be provided from our New York colony by Mr Thomas Truax and a demonstration of the South American charango from Messrs Karmadillo. A radio play shall be performed live. All under the watchful eye of our announcer Mr Andrew J. Wilson.”


Steampunks At Comic-Con International, 2009

The broke-down steampunk dystopian Magic Kingdom of Epic Mickey

Crossposted from my blog.
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