Humans, not machines

I Just listened to a Youtuber whom I admire greatly, go off on a seven minute rant on the subject of how much he’d want to set the dogs of reason and unreason upon some unnamed fuckwit who had deeply insulted him at a time when that kind of thing really is not welcome. He decided not to reveal in the end what it was about, because to do so would only make matters worse.

I’m purposely not saying who it is. Who any of the following people are. Figure it out if you must. What I want to say is that people will never have anything to fear from me for being human. Everybody fucks up, bar none.

I follow a fairly accomplished scientist online. He introduced me to the kind of weird crap that young earth creationists use to justify the unjustifiable. To explain away the bleeding obvious. He also showed, without a word out of place, where the arguments used by the current clutch of feminists go wrong. You can’t do that kind of thing without getting a significant number of people very angry at you, and the counter-strategy of both these groups of people are the same: Flinging huge amounts of bullshit at the thorn in their side. People have subjected him to the full repertoire in the Right Thinking People’s arsenal, up to and including making death threats to him and his family, trying to get him fired from his job, celebratory messages on the death of his father, and more. Is anyone really really surprised that he responds in kind now and then? I still follow him.

I follow a famous biologist on-line. Yes, easy to guess from the following. He’s well known for his forceful attacks on religion as such, and he has a lot of bile to spill. He also has a dedicated set of people who are determined to take any of his utterances, twist it into the most unsympathetic meaning possible, then use that travesty against him. If they can’t, they make shit up. Now and then, he formulates his thoughts in ways that may seem callous, tactless. I can usually guess what he meant, but there have been cases where he sould have re-read his words a few times before posting. I still follow him.

I follow a young woman on line. She is a science communicator, and runs a free podcast where she has hour-long conversations with an impressive range of very interesting people. Recently, she became a hero when at a moment’s notice, she helped crowdfund a Muslim apostate’s ticket out of a country where the government would have killed him for renouncing Islam. She also went on television for a company that claims to suck carbon out of thin air and turn it into plastic. To do so, they would have had to suck through a tiny tube a volume of air the size of a skyscraper. I still don’t know why she would get involved with scam artists, but everybody fucks up now and then. I still follow and admire her.

I follow another woman on-line. She makes Atheist-themed videos, women’s rights type videos, and plain funny videos. They are usually a pleasure to watch, and not just because of her looks. She has a wonderful way of getting to the core of a problem and present it in a funny, relatable, and clear way. Recently, she was caught lifting material from other people and presenting it as her own, which she really should not have done. She still makes videos that are every bit as interesting as any of them. I still follow her.

There are a few things that I will immediately dump someone for. But I will always remember that these people are not machines. They do not exist simply for my entertainment, but have lives of their own to lead. I can’t count the number of times where my mouse has hovered over the “send” button of a true bomb of bile, then to decide not to bother. I get offended as much as the next guy, but those who are in the public eye like these people are, have to deal with a true mountain of shit all day.

I will remember they are human. I will remember they are still what I admire them for. And I will still follow them.

Some really bad @neilgaiman fanfic.

I thought I’d lost this, but it turned up when I was looking for something else. And now you too can read it!


“Oh crap“, said Despair.
“Mwh?” said Dream, hardly bothering to open an eye.
“Oh. Destruction is back,” said Desire. “Who asked for that?”
“I knew he would be back,” said Destiny.
“And he’s puked all over the carpet,” said Delirium.
“Somebody shoot me,” said Death, holding her nose.
“Well, if THAT is your attitude,” said Destruction, “I’m blowing this joint!”

Short and sweet.

So You Want To Be A Druid? A @dianeduane #YoungWizards Fanfic

Look away Mrs. Duane, here be fanfic.

This is me once more stealing characters I like for my own enjoyment. The story is set at the end of “A Wizard of Mars”. It would seem that young Mr. Rodriguez has taken himself away from it all to the pleasant lands of Azeroth, with Miss Callahan hot on his trail. They are about to get relationship advice from a Guardian Druid who turns into a bear and bites people for a living.

There is no way this could possibly go wrong.

So You Want To Be A Druid – Click here to read

For @ArcaneRatsel: The nice thing about warlocks

The Nice Thing About Warlocks

This story is firstly a present for Arcane Ratsel, who has just seen her worst nightmare come true: She has to say something… NICE about WARLOCKS. On Youtube! The reason is that she’s recently organised a charity roflstomp that I participated in, and she’s just hit $1000, which is going to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. Well done Rätsel!

The other reason I’m writing this is because I’m curious how my Gnomes (Steambender and recently Shutfast) are doing in Draenor. Can’t stay away from the Gnomes. So, Rätsel is going to run into them, but first, she’s going to run into some rather larger individuals.



#IceCrownChallenge, or ROFLstomping for charity (@ArcaneRatsel)

One of my very good vague acquaintances, Arcane Ratsel on Twitter, organised a charity event for the American Society for the Prevention of Suicide. After a pointed look from Ariciel, who still occasionally reminds me of that time in Shattrath on the elevator, I took her into Icecrown Citadel to basically paint it red. This is her story. It is picture heavy, so proceed with a thought to your bandwidth.

Continue reading


Words and chapters.

3830 eldo04.txt – Revised.
1059 eldo05.txt – Started.


A sunny day in Redridge

A sunny day in Redridge


“So. Which of the soldiers do you think is cutest?”

Nægling looked at Ariciel with a strange frown on her face.



Honestly, if you didn’t know her better, you’d think Ariciel’s eyes light up because someone is shining a torch in her ears. Also, she loves winding people up. Especially a rewarding paladin such as Nægling.

#dwcon Friday @MitchBenn

Well, I’ve just seen Mitch Benn perform live for the first time. It was fun, and I would never have guessed that he’d also written a world-wide blockbusting bestseller of Science Fiction, and he hardly ever plugged his latest book at all, because that is not the kind of guy he is. I mean, who would misuse an event such as this to plug his new book?

He gave us a bit of a cross-section of the two shows he does: “The 37th Beatle” and his show “Don’t believe a word” dealing with Atheist themes. This went over quite well with the Discworld crowd, godless heathens that they are.

The Boy is being very good. I kept him up way past his bedtime, first in the Toast and Jam and then in Mitch’ set. Though I’m afraid that he slept through the second half of it and I had to carry him out of the Dysk. So I’m afraid that the second half of the Toast & Jam got a rather hasty treatment from me. Will make amends by bringing my guitar into the bar and noodling away at it. For the same reason, I didn’t get the chance to talk to Mitch. Oh well… In the unlikely event that he reads this, I was the guy hollering for the Boris Johnson Blues, which is a song Mitch wrote in a purple caffeine-fueled haze of charity where he wrote and produced a whole album of songs in 24 hours. It’s amazing just what a Brit will do for charity.

Now, of course, The Boy is happily tapping away at his tablet rewinding his favourite bits of the Lego Movie. I give it ten minutes, and then I’ll gently pry the tablets out of his sleeping little fingers.

Live from Manchester…

Well Ladies and Gentlemen, I’m back at the Discworld Convention, and I shall be trying to write the occasional report. There’s a few people I really want to meet here.

  • Diane Duane – writer of the Young Wizards series featuring Nita Callahan and Kit Rodriguez. Years ago, when Bannog and Ariciel were only young, I wanted to attend a writing workshop she was going to organise. She’d gathered up a lot of good information from a number of famous writers, and then “Something” happened and she had to cancel.
  • Mitch Benn – Comedic singer and increasingly a SciFi writer. We’re besties. He responded to one of my tweets once. I sing several of his songs (“I stole your heart”, “Spontaneous Combustion”, “The French Are Coming To Get Us”), and he’s right here so there goes half my repertoire. Hope Tom Lehrer doesn’t show up.

It’s the official Day Before The Con, which means tonight, there is a pub quiz! I will bring my son as a secret weapon. There isn’t an episode of Mr. Bean he hasn’t seen!

“Let me know what you think” – @DianeDuane

So these last few months haven’t exactly been the best of my life, and basically to cheer myself up a bit, I’ve bought the Millennium Edition Young Wizards Funpack from Diane Duane at Which means that I am now fully up to date with the life and times of the young wizards Nita Callahan and Kit Rodriguez. To summarise the books in one word: books, whales, computers, Irish, death, autism, destiny, sacrifice, and redemption.

Diane Duane offers these books on her own website, and they are DRM-free. Which means, not copy-protected. This is very good for us, because when our Kindle gets dropped for the last time, we can simply tell Calibre to feed it to us in the format that our next shiny e-reader likes. Also, if you keep your books on your own computer, Amazon can’t come in and remove it from your bookshelf like they did to (of all books possible) George Orwell’s nineteen eighty four. It’s also good for Diane, because if Amazon keeps acting up, she can tell them to put it where the sun don’t shine. I won’t buy any books from Amazon, and I won’t buy books that are fettered with copy protection. Yes, I know I can remove it easily, but I am not going to encourage anyone to put that stuff on in the first place.

But on to the books. I’m not going to do a blow by blow. I’m simply going to assume that the things I remember most about them are the most important.

So you’ve got these wizards. A wizard (which is a gender-neutral term here – Nita is a wizard, not a witch), is born. Wizardry is a kind of switch in the Self, and if you have it turns on, at some point in your life, you find a Wizard’s Manual. In Nita’s case, this is a career advice book called “So You Want To Be A Wizard”. She starts reading the book, and then all the trouble starts. So parents, be warned. Reading can sometimes lead to wizardry. Get your kids on healthy activities such as Internet and television instead. Upon finding her calling, the wizard is then given the Oath, and then the fun starts. The first thing that happens after the first few spells you cast, is your Ordeal. Big trouble happens to you, and you are supposed to put your wizardry to goo use and overcome the trouble. It’s easy to tell whether you passed or not – if you are still breathing at the end and the world hasn’t ended, you probably passed.

Once your Ordeal is over, you get to gain more and more information on how the universe works. In the Young Wizards universe, there is one Supreme Being, known only as “The One”. The One is responsible for all of creation, though It has delegated most of the actual work to the Powers That Be. Throughout the series you get to meet several of these, but I don’t know exactly how many there are. And of course, there’s always a troublemaker. When everybody is busily creating trees and hugging them, putting the pretty craggy lines into the fjords, and colouring in the pretty flowers, One delights in tearing down what the others have made. There’s always one. Lucifer, Morgoth, and here, the Lone Power. Its main weapon is entropy. The thing that wears down everything, causes the springs of the Universe to wind down and causes death and destruction. I particularly like it that Diane Duane leaves open the question of whether this is evil in itself or not. The knowledge that everything, even the Universe, will have an end, is frightening on one end, but perhaps a comfort on the other.

Be that as it may, the Lone Power is a right bastard. My favourite bits in any book are Nita’s and Kit’s discussions with the Lone Power. We know that the Lone Power is evil incarnate, but Nita is often forced to think really hard on what exactly it is that makes It evil.

Add to that a rich cast of pleasantly mad characters. Nita’s little sister Dairine, who uses a computer for a manual and is annoyingly powerful. Kit’s older sister Carmela, who is not a wizard, but has gained a working knowledge of the Wizardly Speech and with it a more than casual interest in vegetable life forms. Kit’s dog Ponch. A star. Literally a star named Fred.

All in all, I warmly recommend this series of books, and am looking forward to number ten in the series. In fact, I may have to nick a few of Diane’s characters for a Worldgate-fail type crossover.