So Beady Eye have split after failing to set the world on fire. If they had hoped to be Whitesnake to Oasis’ Deep Purple, they ended up being Paice, Ashton & Lord.

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Pumpkin Spice?

Ello might not be the Facebook-killer we are looking for, for it’s yet another closed propietary silo.

Maybe it will be something like Pumpkin Spice, an idea that’s come from the delightfully retro tilde club.

Take all the standards we’ve got – RSS, Atom, FOAF, email, etc. – and use them to simulate Facebook, Twitter, G+, etc. while letting the user own all the data, and without requiring the user to sell their personal data or eyeballs.

There are a lot of projects out there that let you own your data, but usually that means you go buy a raw server. Ain’t nobody got time for that, where “nobody” means “my relatives.” What we need is something that’s absolutely brain-dead easy to use, and that simulates a social network they’re already using. That means it has to have content, which means it has to be pretty agnostic about what it allows you to “friend.” Under the hood it’s mostly an RSS/Atom reader, but it’s also got to make use of as many proprietary APIs as it can, to pull in Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, whatever the stuff they want to follow is on. Of course, since ideally those “friends” catch on and bail on the silo’d, privacy-hungry social networks, being able to use those APIs for long is going to be a problem.

This sounds like an interesting concept; a decentralised social network that doesn’t rely on any server-side infrastracture of its own, doing everything in the client.

Given the increasing popularity of tables, especially their adoption by the generation that grew up before the internet, it will really need client applications for Android and IoS as well as Windows.

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Was Michael Moorcock’s Law and Chaos based on any real-world religious or philosophical system, or did he create it from the whole cloth? It’s remarkable how manycultural conflicts that cut across traditional political and religious lines make more sense when framed as Law vs. Chaos, or between conflicting strains of Law.

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Trojan Horse – World Turned Upside Down

Trojan Horse World Turned Upside DownTrojan Horse are one of those bands who defy easy categorisation. One week they’re playing progressive rock festivals sharing bills with the likes of Mostly Autumn and The Enid, the next week they’re supporting post-punk legends The Fall.

To quote their own bio, the Salford-based quartet aim to drag 70s progressive rock kicking and screaming through all the subsequent decades, and their second full-length album “World Turned Upside Down” sees them do precisely that.

Instrumental opener “Jurapsyche Park” jump-cuts between manic surf guitar and the intricacies of Discipline-era King Crimson to end in a frenetic climax of duelling Hammond organ and abrasive guitar that recalls the live jam at end of Deep Purple’s “Space Trucking”. It manages to pack an awful lot into just over four and a half minutes.

From then on the album explodes in all directions at once. “Sesame” comes over as a strange mash-up between Yes and The Talking Heads. There are brief numbers called “Interlude”, “Centrelude” and “Outerlude”. The equally short “See Me At The Crow Bridge” is one minute twelve seconds of delicate beauty.

The title track starts with a Peter Hammill-style vocal and ends with squalling violin. The largely instrumental Behemoth with it’s warm rippling guitars even recalls mid-70s Rush at one point. Towards the end of the album, the lengthy “Hypocrite’s Hymn” with an extended instrumental workout goes from prog-jazz to avant-noise, and the semi-acoustic folk-prog of “Death And The Mad Queen” would not have sounded out of place on a Decemberists record. The album ends with the hilarious punky “Fire! Fire!” complete with fire engine noises.

Trojan horse put prog-rock, post-punk and free jazz into a blender, and what comes out is as just as bonkers as their live performances. They can be as visceral and pummeling as their stage act when they want to, but on record there’s a lot of variety and musical sophistication too. Unlike lesser bands who attempt derivative pastiches of the sounds of 70s progressive rock or 80s post-punk, Trojan Horse capture the spirit of the things, which is what makes their music sound fresh and exciting.

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The Culture Wars need to end in a truce

Despite the increasingly heated rhetoric, the culture wars across gaming and SF&F can only end with some sort of truce. A world where one “side” gains total victory over the other and all the things and people they don’t like are disappeared will not result in a healthy creative environment for anyone.

The music world has long since split into multiple overlapping tribes that, however grudgingly, allow each other to exist and don’t intrude in each others’ spaces. 30 years on, the only people who still care about the Punk Wars resemble those Japanese soldiers in the 1970s emerging from the jungle not realising the war was over and the world had moved on. The worlds of games and science fiction media needs to do the same.

This isn’t to say the doxxing, death threats, sexist harassment or abusing stalking we’ve been seeing is in any way acceptable. That needs to be called out, regardless of who is doing or encouraging it.

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When the customer changes the requirements

Before the customer added a requirement

This must be a familiar situation to any software developer. You come up with a clean, elegant design that meets the customer’s stated needs. Then at the last minute they come up with a new requirement.

After the customer added a requirement

So you end up with this. Someone I won’t name has described it as looking like “the world’s most disturbing sex toy”.

Coming up with an elegant way to add a corridor connection on the front of a train is a challenge that’s defeated generations of industrial designers. Even the better results have been functional rather than beautiful. But it does help if the door at the front had been a requirement from the start.

(Photos from Transport Briefing)

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If Q Magazine can name Kasabian as the best band in the world and the best live act, we have reached Peak Q. Anyone who still takes that magazine seriously needs to get out more.

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Unlike one nototious band forum I don’t delete comments unless they’re offensive, threatening or libellous. But do be aware that bands do sometimes read this blog.

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The Outing of Requires Hate

Although I have been a reader of science fiction for many, many years, my fandom is music. And I’m glad it is.

Until very recently there was a book review blog called “Requires Only The You Hate”. It’s stock-in-trade was vitriolic reviews of science fiction novels, typically denouncing everything as racist and attacking the author rather than the work. The same blogger was also a notorious troll, posting under a number of identities over a period of a decade, and behaving as a serial harasser to a significant number of people, the majority of them women. Had she been operating in Britain she would very likely have been jailed. Her behaviour really was that bad.

Now her identity has been outed as a new writer under the name of Benjanun Sridankaew, whose new persona as a writer is all sweetness and light.

The whole thing is detailed here, if you have the stomach to read it. It’s nasty stuff.

She has now posted a public apology, but in a situation like this an apology can only be the first step on a long road to redemption. You can’t just wash away a past that bad overnight.

Whether or not we will see similar apologies from any of those who have enabled and encouraged her reign of terror over the past decade remains to be seen, and it has to be said that the list of people listed as supporting her over her victims contains one or two of the usual suspects. These are some of the same names that showed up in the Jonathan Ross debacle, including the one responsible for driving Ross’ wife off Twitter.

But the biggest problem is the subculture she operated within. What sort of subculture considers what can only be described as dehumanising hate-speech to be acceptable provided the target group is more “privileged”? Yet this is precisely the set of values that have taken over a significant part of the SFF world in recent years. It’s stated goals are to promote inclusivity and social justice, but without a commitment to human empathy it’s devolved into a frighteningly authoritarian form of identity politics. It’s created a perfect environment in which an abuser can hide; all they have to do cite the correct buzzwords and they’re given a free pass. There are parallels both with the collapse of the Socialist Workers Party in Britain, and the abuse scandals that have seriously diminished the standing of the Roman Catholic Church.

When the whole Vox Day/SFWA and Hugo nominations things blew up, I was shocked that even a tiny minority would support someone who’s a known homophobic white supremacist rape apologist. But seeing later dramas unfold I’m beginning to understand why a long-term online friend who I’ve always considered a liberal would claim in the comments on this blog to be rooting for Larry Correia and Vox Day for the Hugo awards.

What happens next will be interesting. When SF’s default ideology was a militaristic frontier libertarianism and most books were written by white men with engineering degrees, too many voices got marginalised, and that was not a good thing. But now you’re left with a feeling it’s gone too far the other way, and the scene has adopted a set of values that meant it was only a matter of time before it all imploded. It’s had its revolution, now it’s reached the stage of the revolution eating its children.

SF would be a lot healthier if authors could put whatever politics they liked into the actual books, but SF as a whole didn’t favour one ideology over another. There will always be cliques and partisan sub-fandoms, that’s just human nature. And sometimes they’ll fight and there will be drama. But the bigger cultural war needs to end in a truce with both sides acknowledging the other’s right to exist.

I am still glad my chosen fandom is music. Music doesn’t have this nonsense nowadays.

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Despite not having his collar felt by Operation Yewtree, 70s Radio One DJ Mike Read seems determined to make a criminal record. You can split hairs over whether or not his awful cod-Jamaican accent is racist (I think it is), but the record itself is unspeakably horrible. It carefully combines the worst lyrical aspects of Pendragon’s “Green and Pleasant Land” with the musical grace of Joe Dolce’s “Shaddup You Face”. Ugh.

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