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Dark State: how to get signed copies!

Dark State

So, Dark State comes out in hardcover in the USA and trade paperback in the UK on January 9th and January 11th respectively.

I'm going to be reading from the novel, and signing copies, at Blackwells Bookshop on South Bridge in Edinburgh on January 10th; if you're in town and what to show up, tickets and details are available here (it's free, but space is limited).

If you want a signed copy, Transreal Fiction in Edinburgh are happy to take orders, as are Blackwell's via email. Note that bookstores aren't allowed to ship pre-orders before the publication date, so there's precisely zero chance of getting a copy in time for Christmas!

(I have no plans to visit the USA in 2018. US Immigration is just too damn scary while there's a xenophobe in the White House. However, both bookstores I linked to are willing to ship books to North America and elsewhere.)

142 Comments

1:

I'm really looking forward to this book.

Any chances of a trip to Canada?

2:

Not ruling it out, but no space for it in my calendar for the first half of the year. If we do go, it'll most likely be to Toronto or Vancouver.

3:

Edinburgh is basically Thule as far as I'm concerned, but if you ever make it to Birmingham (nearest big city that isn't too bloody far away) I would hope to be able to show up and/or buy you a beer.

4:

I get to Birmingham less often than I get to London, and London is maybe once a year — I'm in Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, and (prior to Trump) New York more often.

(Scotland is indeed another country.)

5:

<set humor=dark>

Geez, would you stop writing dystopias for the UK and US for a while? I don't mind occasionally visiting deranged cyberpunk capers or deranged far-right dictatorships as fantasies but I keep reading about them in the news.

</humor>

I wouldn't visit the US right now either.

6:

The scary thing is that "Dark State" is kind of upbeat these days; at least the Big Bad Surveillance State is mostly run by well-intentioned clever people who have valid reasons to be paranoid and keep a choke-chain on their crazier subordinates! (Whereas in real life it's the other way round.)

7:

New idea:
Crowdsourcing to buy uppers for our gracious host (and possibly William Gibson as well) so they write better futures for us to inhabit.

8:

Alternate proposal:

Buy host's books in sufficient quantity so that he can afford to travel to sunny climes and restock natural 'feel-good' elements: VitD, fresh air, exercise, meeting new people, hearing new ideas, etc.

9:

Taliking of which & the dome inthe forest etc ... Any thoughts on this & related, supposedly-authenticated material ??

10:

Yeah: it's most likely a left-hand/right-hand disconnect—a superblack DoD program somewhere is testing a hypersonic drone, someone saw it in public and demanded an Air Force UFO investigation, investigators confirmed that yes, there is a UFO—but don't have the security clearance to know about the classified program behind it, and wouldn't be allowed to admit to it if they did.

11:

So no Charlie at Worldcon in 2017, but hopefully at the Dublin Worldcon in 2018?

12:

Yay, a mention of Transreal directly on the front page.

Just for the record, I've been getting signed copies of everything Stross from them for a while now - I must have 4 or 5 at least. Old school bookstore with personal service (in my case, by email). Can't recommend Mike Calder enough.

I just wish they had access to more authors for signatures...

13:

These days Stateside it's well-intentioned clever subordinates with good reason to be paranoid desperately trying to yank the choke-chain around their superiors' necks. It's not working.

14:

Hypersonic drone
Which implies a major breakthrough in aeronautics, & specifically propulsion systems & their efficiency, if nothing else ...
How likely is this, actually?
Though, I admit it is far more ( like at least 99:1 ) likely that the "real UFO" explanation ....

15:

If we knew what they are, they wouldn't be "unidentified"

16:

When is "The Delirium Brief" going to come out in a UK (trade?) paperback? I think you mentioned earlier there won't be a regular US sized paperback, same as for "The Nightmare Stacks", but I was able to get a UK paperback for that one.

I have all of the rest of the series in paperback and having to switch to hardcover for the rest of the series is likely to trigger some kind of OCD like symptoms.

17:

DARPA falcon?.

I'm not sure that propulsion is the problem needing to be solved. Stuff can be made to go fast, at least for short times.

Control systems, now, that's a neat problem to solve. Getting a "fleet of them" to fly in some sort of formation is an even neater trick.

The interesting question is why you'd do a daylight demonstration in a heavily used airspace, like the Bight of California, especially when there's central Nevada only a few hundred miles away.

I tend to go with Charlie's take, a reasonable backup of it being a propaganda video (of the, "hey, don't think we're weak, we've got SUPERDRONE UFOs, bro" type). The reason I think the latter is that this little blobule doesn't particularly look like some hypersonic gizmo, and those tend to be strongly constrained in their shapes.

18:

Crowdsourcing to buy uppers for our gracious host (and possibly William Gibson as well) so they write better futures for us to inhabit.

But he already has a cat...

19:

The scary thing is that "Dark State" is kind of upbeat these days; at least the Big Bad Surveillance State is mostly run by well-intentioned clever people who have valid reasons to be paranoid and keep a choke-chain on their crazier subordinates! (Whereas in real life it's the other way round.)

Alas, yes. It wasn't that long ago that Americans saw insane totalitarian regimes as awful things other people worried about, like in East Germany during the Cold War or North Korea for a while now. We're not used to needing a guide to surviving authoritarianism for ourselves! (Yes, we were spoiled. Yes, others have it worse even now. No, that isn't helpful.) What's happening is widely unpopular but things will get worse before they get better.

We're working on fixing things. But it's like when the sewage line breaks at your house: just because you know what the problem is doesn't mean you're ready to have guests over.

20:

So no Charlie at Worldcon in 2017, but hopefully at the Dublin Worldcon in 2018?

Dublin is a "yes, definitely" (as long as Brexit doesn't totally shut down UK/Eire travel). If 2019 is in the USA I won't be there, either, barring impeachment/resignation of Trump and Pence and a positive 2018 mid-term election.

21:

When is "The Delirium Brief" going to come out in a UK (trade?) paperback?

Orbit's historic release schedule is: hardcover and full-price ebook in July, then a paperback release and a price cut for the ebook around 12 months later. It used to be after 12 months, like clockwork, but the current mudslide of change hitting trade fiction publishing is making all the publishers experiment with new ways of doing things (so, for example, Tor UK just went small-format paperback on Empire Games after only 10 months).

Tor.com, who have taken over the Laundry Files in the US after Ace dropped the series, don't do paperbacks—but the hardcover release is handled via Tor proper (I even get mailings from a different royalty system to account for sales) so it's possible they'll do a trade paperback. But it's by no means certain.

22:

We're not used to needing a guide to surviving authoritarianism for ourselves!

One of the things I hate most about the 21st century is that our network infrastructure is so insecure that ordinary people are expected to perform the role of part-time corporate security administrator or be mocked publicly for being gullible/foolish/trousers unbuttoned wrt. their personal gadgets. This should not be happening.

And when I say "our", I include election officials.

(It's less of a problem in Apple's walled garden, but the price you pay for someone else handling your safety is that someone else handles your safety, and the look and feel of your computing environment, and a bunch of other stuff you might not want them to handle.)

23:

One of the things I hate most about the 21st century is that our network infrastructure is so insecure that ordinary people are expected to perform the role of part-time corporate security administrator or be mocked publicly for being gullible/foolish/trousers unbuttoned wrt. their personal gadgets. This should not be happening.

I hate doing it even though I work in computer security.

24:

Will we see an ebook release along with hardback? So excited to read a cheerful optimistic version of my country's future....

25:

That's San Jose, CA, USA in 2018, and no. Dublin's 2019.

I'm really hoping to see him if we (ObDisclosure: I'm on the bid committee) win DC in 2021....

Or, who knows, there may well be a real impeachment on the way. I see that with Conyers leaving, his replacement is an expert in Constitutional law. and the WaPo, as well as an old, old friend of my ex's, are saying that's why Nadler was chosen minority lead).

26:

" Surveillance State is mostly run by well-intentioned clever people"

Just enjoyed watching action techno-thriller "Locked" in which Noomi Rapace brings down evil intelligence officer Michael Douglas for trying to introduce a deadly microbe into the U.S. via sports fans returning from London. The justification being that its outbreak would cause a backlash, in which quarantine camps under military guard as well as total access to medical records for the authorities would strengthen public preparedness for biohazard threats. Superb, imaginative fiction I thought, then had an "uh-oh" moment before dozing off later in the evening, when I suddenly remembered the likes of Paul Krugman and Michael Bloomberg criticizing the administration for recent directives issued to the Center for Disease Control, about not using terms like "evidence based" or "science based" in their press releases.

27:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/16/health/cdc-trump-banned-words.html

Guess I misconstrued certain details, looks like it was more along the lines of best practice guidelines about how to get your funding okayed when you have to submit your budget requests to a panel of medieval peasants for approval.

28:

The only contender for Worldcon 2020 is Wellington, New Zealand.

For Charlie -- on the one hand, it's not the U.S. On the other hand, it's just about the furthest a Worldcon can be from Edinburgh.

29:

One of the things I hate most about the 21st century is that our network infrastructure is so insecure that ordinary people are expected to perform the role of part-time corporate security administrator or be mocked publicly for being gullible/foolish/trousers unbuttoned wrt. their personal gadgets. This should not be happening.

Oh, agreed, but I see it as an unsurprising stage of development. In the first half of the twentieth century anyone with an automobile needed to be a mechanic as well as a driver, because you were certain to break down on the road - and there might not be another mechanic around. In the early days of aviation not only were many pilots self-taught, no few of them had built their planes personally.

Computers are complicated [citation needed]. We're past the build it yourself stage, and the only for obsessive nerds stage, but not quite to the point where they're invisible appliances. That's certainly coming although, as you point out, users are likely to lose a lot of fine control over their computers as part of the package.

30:

Computers are complicated [citation needed]. We're past the build it yourself stage, and the only for obsessive nerds stage, but not quite to the point where they're invisible appliances. That's certainly coming although, as you point out, users are likely to lose a lot of fine control over their computers as part of the package.

We have already lost that, if we ever had that. I can't easily (nor legally, in many cases) poke around the computers I use to make phone calls, drive around, watch tv, or wash my clothes. Even the things which are mostly computers for computing are not that easy to fiddle with; see for example the Intel management engine hubbub in the last couple of months.

31:

Probably not wise to try this with Peter Watts :)

32:

The only contender for Worldcon 2020 is Wellington, New Zealand.

Because we are *awesome*, and rumours of us sending the Orcs around to visit other contenders are completely false.

(You do know that they were largely played by the NZ Army? Trump has his ideas about best use of the military, we have ours.)

https://nzin2020.nz/

33:

It's ALL YOUR FAULT Charlie!
You moaned & complained about the Beige Dictatorship - & lo & behold, it was replaced ...
I'm reminded of "Traveller in Black" actually.

34:

You do know that they were largely played by the NZ Army?

I liked the story that because they needed the Rohirrim to provide their own horses; that most of the Rohirrim extras were female, with stuck-on beards...

...to the delight of one of the single actors, apparently...

35:

You do know that they were largely played by the NZ Army?

Our CO (fantastic bloke, later left the Army after making the mistake of giving a journalist an honest and unspun briefing in Iraq) went a'recruiting, because we were short of young infantry officers. Somehow, he found a young NZ Army Reservist officer who had moved to Scotland with work - a kick-boxing triathlete no less, course-qualified from doing the NZ infantry platoon commanders' course - and so they joined our Company to take over command of our MG Platoon.

The CO thought he'd sorted out a place on the MG Platoon Commander's Course at the School of Infantry, but for some strange reason his instructor mate bottled it, and wouldn't accept her booking on the course (her Sergeant and I were half-relieved, as we thought she needed six months of weight training to bulk up in preparation - she was a racing snake rather than Brienne of Tarth, and it's a hell of a course for load-bearing)...

...almost as embarrassing as when we went to a formal function in the Glasgow City Chambers; I dragged our junior officers over to say hello to the CO, and he didn't recognise her in a dress and makeup...

36:

Oh, yeah? I'll be watching for those orcs of yours. But your kind... probably send degenerate 'obbits our way, muttering something about a Ring....

And to one and all, for once, I read someone's post of tweet I actually like: "Celebrate someone born long ago who, before he was 30, changed the world. Isaac Newton, b. Dec 25, 1642" - Neil deGrasse Tyson

(Even though I still say Pluto's a planet!)

37:

Pluto's a dwarf planet ... but the dwarf in question is Thorin Oakenshield.

38:

Actually, I've never visited NZ and a worldcon there will be an excellent excuse to go and have a vacation afterwards.

Also, if I can get a boat from South Island and proceed about 300km due south, I can actually visit the antipodeal point on the globe from where I live!

39:

Heh. A colleague of mine at university spent nine months in the Auckland Islands studying the southern right whale. The climate is magnificently awful, it basically rains every day, near constant winds and generally cold. Spectacular scenery when the weather is right though. Similar to the Shetlands I think.

Although you've got to go a LOT further than 300km, the Auckland Islands are 500km south and roughly equate to Birling Gap.

40:

...if I can get a boat from South Island and proceed about 300km due south...

I probably need more coffee, but I immediately saw you in torn tourist gear on a tropical shore yelling "Gilligan!"

41:

You do realise that "Gilligan's Island" was never really a thing in at least some of the UK?

In other business, may I wish everyone a belated Solstice Day?

42:

[Auckland Islands] The climate is magnificently awful, it basically rains every day, near constant winds and generally cold.

Fortunately, the climate is nicer in Auckland proper... my wife and I spent two weeks there in 1999 with our sport, after NZ won the Americas Cup and just before it held the next competition - the marina was full of terribly-secret racing boat hulls, and superyachts.

Nice place, nice people, nice weather, and only a bit breezy; we were heading up to Ardmore ranges each day, but had two days off at the end - spent driving around nearby vineyards, with an overnight trip south to Rotorua to see the bubbling mudpools ;)

43:

I probably need more coffee, but I immediately saw you in torn tourist gear on a tropical shore yelling "Gilligan!"

Is this a reference to an American TV show that was never broadcast in the UK?

44:

Ha, yeah, where I grew up near Auckland is pretty much directly antipodal to Jerez. Far more pleasant climate, although given we're talking August ... it'll be cool and cloudy pretty much everywhere. The skiing should be good though.

45:

"never broadcast in the UK"

Well that's an interesting piece of trivia I'm sure will be useful somewhere, sometime.

Over here this was in the after-school, before Doctor Who category. The ABC would get the British stuff, while the commercial stations would have American. We had local content laws back then, though that sort of thing has eroded a lot (the Americans see it as a trade barrier).

Anyway for some reason this has left me thinking of The Tomorrow People.

46:

Winter is also probably the best time to see Queensland, while there is still a Great Barrier Reef.

47:

Sadly, yes. But it was funny pre-coffee.*

* "Gilligan's Isle" was a remarkably stupid (and remarkably popular) sitcom about 7 people who were stranded on a tropical island. "Gilligan" was the not-very-bright first mate of the small boat which had brought them there.

48:

All is not yet lost. I avoid the first and third things on your list by simply not doing them, and the second and fourth by reason of the fact that they have no requirement for electronics (or even for electricity, come to that, even if their usual implementations do use it).

But wrt "did we ever have it" - oh yes, most certainly we did at one point; the BBC Micro was designed to facilitate it, and even though most other contemporary machines of that general nature weren't, they still effectively had it by not being complicated enough not to.

I strongly suspect that if such machines had not existed, I wouldn't have a computer now. That accessibility was responsible for transforming my latent attraction towards programming/logic-type concepts into practical reality. Although the IBM PC also existed at that time, you couldn't (readily) do anything interesting with it; it just ran boring office software and did boring things that other people had made it do. Whereas with a BBC Micro (or a Commodore PET or a TRS-80 or whatever) you could walk up to it and type FOR X = 1 TO 1000: PRINT "I'VE FARTED": NEXT and get the immediate satisfaction of having made it do something all by yourself. That was much more conducive to taking an interest in the machine and how it worked and how to make it do more complicated things than just writing a letter on a screen instead of a typewriter.

49:

The thing that made it really funny is that my brain just went there instantly. "300 miles" BOOM! "Gilligan!"

50:

You are aware the original IBM PC had BASIC in ROM, right?

51:

No, no, no, no, no, they don't come from down there. Indeed "down there" is pretty much antipodeal to where they do come from (within a few hundred miles, at any rate), which is round here, more or less. (5 miles from Bag End, 10 miles from Weathertop; the distances are a bit screwed, but some orders of magnitude short of antipodeally so.)

52:

It would seem not, despite the litany of other cited machines from $period which all did too.

53:

Sure, but it was the reverse of inviting about it, unlike the kind of machines I'm thinking of.

(My godfather used to work for IBM in sales, and I visited him once when he'd brought home an early PC for the weekend. He switched it on to show it to me, and the overwhelming impression I retain of the event is of thinking "yeah, but HTF do you actually do anything with this?")

54:

But wrt "did we ever have it" - oh yes, most certainly we did at one point; the BBC Micro was designed to facilitate it, and even though most other contemporary machines of that general nature weren't, they still effectively had it by not being complicated enough not to.

I could argue that the BBC Micro (and other 8-bit computers) was pretty much what Scott meant up there by the "only for obsessive nerds" stage - and probably going on for longer, up to the end of the Eighties and the Amiga and Atari ST stage. In my circles, they were pretty much seen as something for the children, and not all children had them. Only the nerds.

Adults did use computers, but at work and almost nobody brought a computer home. Those were IBM PC compatibles for the most part, and were business computers. Though I got my first computer in 1988, it was an IBM XT clone, and at that point there were a lot of games for it. I started doing GW-Basic almost immediately and Turbo Pascal a short while later. At that point there was already a lot of information going around, like the Interrupt list which helped coding for the computer.

The PC never was as easy to program for as the 8-bit computers, though, but it was never impossible or particularily difficult.

It took in my perspective until the 2000's until the computers were mainly not for nerds only. Then the game was already lost, as everything was increasingly closed and specifically not for programming. Windows didn't have that Basic with it.

I remember in the Technical University that when I started, using the command line and having done some programming was very usual on the first courses, but five years after that the first-years had mostly used Windows and their idea of how to use a computer and what it is for was markedly different, and not for the better. (From the University perspective.)

55:

The thing that made it really funny is that my brain just went there instantly. "300 miles" BOOM! "Gilligan!"

Except it was a "3 hour tour", not "300 miles"

56:

Totally off-topic ..
Brilliant bitterly sarcastic & highly seasonal pastiche on both the "security" situation & the constant LOUD drivel that TfL inflict on their victims passengers.

57:

Another seasonal quote, this one from Dr.Solomon (the man behind the eponymous antivirus toolkit from long ago! )

"You should tell your children that Santa Claus bring presents if they're good, because when they find out that you're lying, it teaches them the valuable lesson that not everything that other people say is true, even people in authority. And in particular, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and claims about invisible, immortal, all-knowing and all-powerful entities should be treated with a considerable pinch of salt.

This Christmas, give your children the gift of scepticism."

58:

"an American TV show that was never broadcast in the UK?"

The Beatles are the first I remember to have explained how the Atlantic serves as a cultural filter. I forget which one said it, but the point was that Brit teens thought U.S. 50s rock was generally better than homegrown because the really dumb stuff never got imported to their airwaves. Here we've got PBS still showing Britcoms like 'Are You Being Served' from the 70s, 'Keeping Up Appearances' and 'Last of the Summer Wine' from the 90s, and they do seem somewhat more content rich than comparable U.S product of the time, so maybe that's the filter effect in action. But I think money factors usually prevail in what's selected, 'Gilligan' was such a huge hit in the 60s they probably overpriced it for offshore distribution. Now it's 50 plus years old and would seem too dated to pay for, unless they released it virtually free. Might find an appreciative U.K. audience though, it's so old the creators had to have gotten their start in vaudeville theater and radio shows of the 30s, and just recycled a lot of classic slapstick material with surefire broad appeal not dependent on context. The gag I'll never forget is when Gilligan blew on a container of some kind of powder, which erupted in a cloud covering his eyes and face so that he panicked and ran headlong into a palm tree, knocking himself out. Okay so far, but really just a setup to let the camera pan back to the tree, which now showed a white powder imprint of his face on the trunk. Bits like that could trace their lineage back to improv at the Globe Theater. Speaking of which, Neal Stephenson's 'Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O' has a scene at the Globe. Anybody else read this? The whole concept of a secret government agency specializing in magic, based on quantum multiverse effects somehow seems oddly familiar....wonder where he got that idea from.

59:

Another Brit here. I've heard of Gilligan's Island, probably mainly through references in blogs like this one, but until 10 minutes ago I always had the idea that it was early 80's.

To give a clue about my general cultural awareness, it was only after about a decade of watching The Simpsons that I learned that MacGyver was an actual TV programme.

60:

We did get a lot of American sitcoms in the UK, stuff like "I Love Lucy" and "Green Acres". I even recall some show about a talking horse. Other American TV shows I vaguely recall seeing in the Sixties -- "Car 54", "Champion the Wonder Horse" and "The Lone Ranger".

Of course the US never got Muffin the Mule or other British kid's TV classics...

61:

OGH said 300 miles. (Actually, he said 300 kilometers.) But I could never forget that it was a 3-hour tour. My sister watched that show for years; every minute of it.

62:

To give a clue about my general cultural awareness, it was only after about a decade of watching The Simpsons that I learned that MacGyver was an actual TV programme.
Yeah, that's part you because I remember watching MacGyver on first UK broadcast.

63:

Well, I never even knew it had been broadcast in the UK, and never even knew it existed until I found TV Tropes...

I do remember most of the ones Nojay mentions though, not that I ever saw any of them more than a handful of times. But all the kids knew the fourth movement of the William Tell overture as "the Lone Ranger music" long before finding out it was William Tell, and there were quite a few who liked chanting "Champion the Wonder Horse" while running around the place.

The talking horse was Mr Ed, of course, of course.

64:

...Come to that, I have half an idea the Lone Ranger started off on the radio, with the same music, so that one has been going for yonks.

65:

The Beatles are the first I remember to have explained how the Atlantic serves as a cultural filter. I forget which one said it, but the point was that Brit teens thought U.S. 50s rock was generally better than homegrown because the really dumb stuff never got imported to their airwaves. Here we've got PBS still showing Britcoms... and they do seem somewhat more content rich than comparable U.S product of the time, so maybe that's the filter effect in action.

I've made the same observation about anime. Back in the 90s anything that would get brought over from Japan and painstakingly copied on VCRs had to be worthwhile, so when I discovered it then the selection was a bunch of quite decent stuff and many really outstanding movies. Hardly any of it wasn't at least worth a look. Japanese animators are still making good art but now that anyone on Earth can torrent entire seasons, it can paradoxically be harder to find the gold among the dross.

For the same reason the 50s, 60s, and 70s now seem to have had much better music than you'll hear on the pop music radio stations today. Only the songs worth remembering are still played.

66:

But wrt "did we ever have it" - oh yes, most certainly we did at one point; the BBC Micro was designed to facilitate it,

Out of interest, was the BBC Micro actually useful for very much?

Did people who used BBC Micros go on to write their university essays using their BBC Micro? Did businesses run commercial software on it? Did scientists do real modelling on it?

In general I'm curious as to whether really, really open architectures that encourage tweaking of the innards tend to do a good job of achieve the goal of being useful computing devices. Or whether what such openness gives you is instead just being something educational and interesting for geeks who like that stuff.

Not that there's anything wrong with being educational! Or interesting for geeks! But if such openness and the ability to easily cut past layers of abstraction and hack with the device is really useful in general for computing devices then I'd wonder why only devices deliberately built to be educational tend to have that features.

67:

Muffing the mule will get you arrested .....
( Sorry, couldn't resist it )

68:

Of course the US never got Muffin the Mule or other British kid's TV classics...

We don't know from Noddy either.

69:

I spent a one year industrial placement in the middle of my Comp Sci degree in a division of ICI which produced modular interface kit and BASIC interpreter extensions to put BBC Micros (or CBM PETS, or Apple 2s) into process control systems for lab scale (or occasionally somewhat larger pilot scale) chemical plants as an alternative to large (and expensive) minicomputers like DEC PDP Series stuff, so yes, they absolutely were used for “real” work.

70:

Did people who used BBC Micros go on to write their university essays using their BBC Micro? Did businesses run commercial software on it? Did scientists do real modelling on it?

Yes — it was very upgradable. While it didn't have a card cage like the Apple II, most of the ports you had to buy cards to add to the Apple II were already built-in (e.g. serial, parallel, networking (econet)) — and it had ROM sockets and an expansion bus. Upshot? One major hospital pharmacy unit I worked in ran on BBC B's with removable 5Mb hard disk packs for inventory control. Or there was the Z80 co-pro board with dual floppies if you wanted to run CP/M. At the high end, £3000 would get you a 68000 co-pro with MMU, hard disk, and UNIX System 7. Remember, this was circa 1983-86. So yes, it had scientific applications ...

71:

There was something came round an IT mailing list at work (Cambridge University) in the not too distant past asking if anyone had a particular model of BBC Micro in their loft as the one that had been running a lump of research equipment for the past 30 years was starting to get a bit flakey.

When I started work at the BBC around the time the first BBC Micros came out, there was an add-on board available from the Research Department that allowed it to be used as a caption and effects generator. The Adventure Game (Gronda Gronda) was one programme that used it quite a bit.

72:

It was used on Doctor Who as well.

73:

You know there's a BBC Micro emulator which runs on both Linux and Windows? Obviously whether it will connect to the research equipment is another matter... but it can be easily found with DuckDuckGo.

74:

other British kid's TV classics...

The things they missed out on... Salmay Dalmay Adonay!
Regrettably, he became part of history this year.

75:

It was specific hardware required for the interface which an emulator doesn't have rather than software. No budget to redo that side of things.

76:

The CBM PET had a cut-down GPIB connector on the back that allowed it to connect to a lot of scientific and industrial equipment. It didn't support the full disconnect/reconnect spec and some other features but it could issue commands and log data like the Big Boys (HP) and was a digit cheaper. I saw a couple of them back in the early 80s running high vacuum equipment monitoring programs, writing logs out to cassette tapes and cheap dot-matrix printers.

The BBC Micro was expensive for its capabilities but it was well-built with a good keyboard, going head-to-head with the Apple II. Hoi polloi had ZX Spectrums which were a quarter the price with a crap keyboard but they ran Jet Set Willy off cassette which was all that mattered.

I developed and built a parallel I/O system for the Atari ST that was picked up by BT for some internal applications but the orders dried up after a couple of years -- I still don't know what they did with them. The ST's Big thing was an integral MIDI controller which got it a lot of attention from the electronic music fans.

77:

In the mid-80s, either Glasgow or Strathclyde University decided that they were going to issue all undergraduates with a Sinclair QL (better keyboard, and tape streaming cassette storage). I think it lasted one year, if even that...

The Electronic Engineering Department at Edinburgh had a bunch of them that were used for the second-year PLD design practical; someone had written a design tool for it. I think I’ve still got a Microdrive tape in the attic...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinclair_QL

78:

I think it was Glasgow; certainly there was still a room full of QLs in GUCS when I contracted there in 1992/3.

79:

I'd hoped it would be a serial port or something simple like that. It's always the interface that gets you!

80:

Sorry, *Ceres* is a dwarf planet, or, as they used to call them, planetoids. *My* solar system has nine planets, thankyouveddymuch.

81:

Thank you, and I hope your solstice was happy (or any other celebration related to the solstice, with whatever language to disguise it).

And may the New Year be better than the old. PLEASE?!?!?!

82:

Yeah, used to watch it, in my teens with my folks. The actor who played Gilligan, Bob Denver, had history in the US, where he'd been a buddy of the eponymous Dobie Gillis, a beatnick wannabe, who would always respond to the word "work" with a moan of "WORK?!".

Then there was the point I made in my teens, that the island they were shipwrecked on seemed to be the NYC or London of the mid-Pacific for spies, smugglers, and others, and you'd think that all of the above would prefer them to get rescued, and not interfere....

83:

I never heard of "Champion the Wonder Horse"; my instant reaction to that was Mr. Ed (a talking horse).

And the Lone Ranger. It started on radio in the 40's, and was on TV starting in the fifties, into the sixties. I have (on two VCR tapes, which I really need to find a way to burn to disk), the origin story. Note, unlike the recent idiot movie, Tonto was a full partner, not a "sidekick", and the bad guys were *not* Indians, but bad white guys; in fact, in the origin, it's the Clanton gang (I haven't watched in a few years, so I forget it Butch Cassidy was involved, too, as a bad guy.)

84:

Pop stations today.... A bit of US history: radio stations were AM, but required (?) to have an FM auxiliary. They started by running "stuff no one cared about (meaning advertisers), so there'd be a classical station, with no advertising. Also, colleges got the FM band to play with.

The result was that in the sixties, underground got really popular - psychedelic, other rock, folk, folk-rock - and they had actual DJ's, who would put on what *they* liked, thought we'd like, and knew what was our there.

It started getting heavily commercialized in the seventies, as they notice that there was a large and growing audience.

Then, in the nineties, came the corporate takeover, with 23 yr old MBA's deciding what would be played, and that would make advertisers happy, who have no idea what's out there, nor do they care, as long as it fits the packaged product mode.

Other than classical, if I'm listening to the radio, it's usually streaming media from colleges.

85:

It was used for more than just essays - it was used for writing scientific papers, theses and even whole books. VIEW was a damn good text editor. They didn't use it for actual modelling, though, nor the early IBM PCs.

The Model B outlasted the latter for decades, because it was ideal for data logging, process control, a programmable terminal and other such things. I don't know if any are still in use in actual laboratories, but they were a decade ago.

86:

I could never get on with View; I always preferred Wordwise - never cared about its total lack of wysiwygness, but did care that it used Mode 7, thus leaving a lot more memory free for the text, and also using that beautifully clear teletext font, which was far more readable than the 8x8 bitmap font, especially in 80-column mode on a colour monitor - having baseband RGB video was great, but it couldn't do anything about the excessively coarse dot pitch of the TV CRTs you got in colour monitors at the time. And at least one book, of non-trivial length, was written using Wordwise - I even have a copy of it.

87:

I find it incredibly disappointing that the same institution which nurtured the kind of people who hacked together the world's first webcam, or the interfaces to extend CUDN over the fire alarm cabling, or the lifting gear to put an Austin 7 on the Senate House roof in the middle of the night, out of gubbins that was lying around, has so far degenerated as to be whining "budget" instead of hacking up a PC interface out of LPT and game port expansion cards...

88:

Didn't they do that because the things were made in Scotland, by Timex in Dundee? (IIRC.) It reminds me a bit of NBL...

89:

"Budget" includes time. Redoing the hardware would have probably involved an appropriate summer intern (CompSci or Engineer) and several months of downtime on the equipment. Asking if anyone had a suitable spare got them the necessary a couple of days later.

90:

8 or 10+. If Pluto, why not Eris? (Or whacky whirling Haumea?)

91:

Pop stations today.... A bit of US history: radio stations were AM, but required (?) to have an FM auxiliary. They started by running "stuff no one cared about (meaning advertisers), so there'd be a classical station, with no advertising. Also, colleges got the FM band to play with.

The result was that in the sixties, underground got really popular - psychedelic, other rock, folk, folk-rock - and they had actual DJ's, who would put on what *they* liked, thought we'd like, and knew what was our there.

It started getting heavily commercialized in the seventies, as they notice that there was a large and growing audience.

Then, in the nineties, came the corporate takeover, with 23 yr old MBA's deciding what would be played, and that would make advertisers happy, who have no idea what's out there, nor do they care, as long as it fits the packaged product mode.

Other than classical, if I'm listening to the radio, it's usually streaming media from colleges.

Not required. In order to encourage the growth of FM broadcasting in the 1950s the FCC often granted an FM station licenses to existing commercial AM broadcasters for no additional fee.

In the U.S., the FM broadcast band is divided into 100 channels with center frequencies from 88.1 to 107.9 MHz. For some reason the FCC considers them channels 201 through 300, but everyone else just identifies them by their center frequency.

The lower 21 channels (88.1 to 91.9 MHz) are reserved for non-commercial educational stations. NCE stations don't have to pay broadcast license fees for non-profit use of their allotted radio spectrum.

Commercial FM broadcasting is licensed on channels 221 through 300 (92.1 to 107.9 MHz).

Where a single station had both AM and FM licenses, they were permitted to broadcast the same signal on both stations until the population in their defined market reached a certain size, at which point the two stations were required to have (IIRC) "at least 40% substantially different content" on the two stations.

That happened here in Raleigh/Durham - Research Triangle after the 1970 census when the local AM/FM farm-news station had to come up with new programming for their FM station and hired a 19 year old consultant to create a "Superstars" Album Rock format that took the station to the top of the ratings heap and kept it there for a dozen years until the insurance company that owned it decided they should become a country music station.

Their (by then 31 y.o.) consultant moved on to another local station and made it the top station in the market for the next decade. I don't know if the format change sparked his move or if his move led to the format change.

92:

Not to be confused with heamorrhoids, of course!

[ Though the lumpy, warty surfaces might appear similar. ]

93:

It's alost as bad in this coutry, now.

Normally I ONLY listen to Beeb R3 &R4, but ... during the last fortnight, I've been on small coach/buses to-&-from a film set & the drivers usually listen to a "pop" station. It's dire, but, as I found to my horror on Friday (the last day of shooting) it can get even worse than that, by a country mile.
He (the driver) had, I think, "LBC" on which was wall-to-wall mindless drivel suitable only for people whose IQ was comparable with their shoe-size.
The "presenter" was a smarmy, arrogant fast-talking crawler with a very high opinion of his own "cleverness" & an obvious disdain for anything remotely related to education or intelligence.
Shudder.

I wonder if this is why or maybe how, people were "persuaded" to vote for both Brexit & T Donald Rump, if this is the common level of public discourse?

94:

Projects I was involved in used Beebs for controlling and monitoring. There was one used in a nuclear power plant somewhere in Scotland, and another that was the front end for a lead smelter control system. That one was fun, because they wanted a screen mode with more than B&W, and more than 40 columns. I ended up remapping Mode 1 to use a 6x8 character matrix.

I'm also aware of at least one book written (by my former Brother in Law) on a Beeb, though he switched to an Amstrad for the next book.

95:

LBC is indeed wall to wall drivel, but it's pretty reflective of the wider electorate. They've had all sorts - Katie Hopkins and Nigel Farage both had long running shows, but so does James O'Brien, whose main job seems to be taking the piss out of idiots. I think they'll put anybody on who can get listeners to call in or complain, it's free airtime filler.

It's pretty typical talkback, classic taxi background music.

The UK generally is pretty dire for radio, because everyone has been bought out by the big boys and merged, so you either get generic pop from Heart, Smooth, Capital or the Breeze, or the BBC. And get outside the cities and it gets far worse - I found in half of Scotland I had a choice of BBC Gael, BBC2 & occasionally 4 and that was about it.

To be fair though, it's possibly to do with the low rolling hills most of the country is - you don't always have good locations to stick transmitters on.

96:

Just remembered another samizdat use for a Beeb, building 3-D models for a large ship simulator setup, like an aircraft simulator but BIGGER! as in it had a full-sized ship's bridge and ward-room mounted on a vibrating platform and the video display system filled a small warehouse building. It was expensive to run it to make and test models of harbours, headlands, ships etc. I wrote a 3-D program in BBC Basic that would display the models from CSV files on a monitor and allow them to be checked out before the files were transferred to the simulator itself.

97:

The "presenter" you describe sounds as though you're describing the granddady of that crap here, Rush Limberger (deliberate missmelling). He's lost to shock jocks, like Michael Wiener, who uses the name "Savage", and is a proponent of the nastiest conspiracy hypotheses.... A former friend of mine used to listen, and he'd mention stuff in posts.

98:

"To be fair though, it's possibly to do with the low rolling hills most of the country is - you don't always have good locations to stick transmitters on."

It's more kind of the opposite really. The small size of the place and the propagation characteristics of AM broadcast frequencies mean that it is quite easy to get good coverage - almost too easy, especially since variations in atmospheric conditions can make a big difference to the nominal range of a transmitter. So you can't have all that many stations before they start interfering with each other - and all the more so since the basic setup goes well back to the time when achieving really good selectivity called for a level of complexity and frequency of readjustment that was way over the top for a normal domestic receiver. And it's not just native transmitters that you have to fit in with, either; there are plenty on the Continent that you have to account for as well, especially in the south-east.

So once you've set up enough MW transmitters to give good nationwide coverage for the BBC channels without too many interference problems, there really isn't a lot of spectrum left to put anything else, unless it's very low-powered and has a very small coverage. And anyway you can't trust these upstarts, if it's not the BBC you can't really depend on it to be responsible enough to be allowed something like a transmitting licence.

There's also not a lot of point. A local station has to broadcast stuff with a mass appeal otherwise nobody will listen to it. A station broadcasting stuff with a more eclectic appeal needs to have a correspondingly wider coverage to reach a worthwhile number of people who want that stuff. So local stations tend to end up all broadcasting the same pop dogshit as the mass channels, but presented by people who aren't very good at it so the big stations don't want them and you don't have to pay them so much; they also all broadcast the same news, ie. basically national news because there just isn't enough local news to bother about beyond how bad the traffic is at the local bottleneck points, and with the same lower quality presentation.

So it is mainly down to geography, but the geography of people rather than the geography of landforms.

AIUI the situation in large parts of the US is quite different, where you have a town, probably quite a large town, and then next to nothing for a couple of hundred miles around, so you effectively have a large number of "islands" which can be well covered by transmitters in the central town and don't have to worry too much about interference with surrounding transmitters because there simply aren't very many that are close enough to be a problem, and an audience with a more insular and locally-biased outlook so there is a larger and better-defined set of local interests for a local station to serve. By the same token, national coverage has proportionately less appeal and is technically harder to achieve - with timezones and all.

99:

AIUI the situation in large parts of the US is quite different, where you have a town, probably quite a large town, and then next to nothing for a couple of hundred miles around...

Well...yes, basically. I'm in the largest metropolitan area in my state, and outside the sprawl is farms and small towns until the next city worth mentioning, about 45 miles away (linear distance, city center to city center). To the next city I'd expect a European to know by name, 150 miles. And as things go west of the Mississippi I'm in a relatively populous area; if you try to drive from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas that's 400 miles of fuck all.

I try to keep in mind that "six hundred kilometers of nothing" is not a thing British people expect to see.

100:

That makes perfect sense from an AM point of view, and indeed the situation is similar back home in NZ, where there are only a handful of AM channels.

But FM is different - it's much more line-of-sight. The AM signals are long enough they bounce over the ridgelines so you can get good signal in places like the Central North Island which is a mess of choppy hills, whereas FM just disappears once you get into the valleys. You need a lot more local stations rebroadcasting a signal to get national coverage, and so we still have a wide variety of very local FM broadcasting covering the regions.

The population density in the UK is much higher, so demand should be there ... it must come down to interference and bandwidth - I guess the lack of hills to block the signals is a hindrance not a blessing and Ofcom no doubt greatly restricts transmission strengths.

I certainly agree with you about the US - Australia has much the same situation with huge amounts of bugger all. Once you get out of the cities it's a giant transmitter per big town with a local station and national stations rebroadcast and then nothing.

101:

I guess your mountains are rather more mountainous than even our most mountainous mountains; 1000m is about where ours stop in the most extreme areas, and more run-of-the-mill upland-y areas tend to be around a third of that. Though the difference in signal-blocking is often not so great, because the width of the wide glaciated valleys in the more extreme areas tends to compensate for the greater height of the surrounding heights, compared to the mostly narrower water-cut valleys in lower upland-y areas.

I don't know, but I suspect, that line-of-sightyness is why VHF 405-line TV hung on as long as it did. It used to be next to impossible to receive UHF 625-line signals in a lot of places in hilly areas. The VHF signals - especially BBC1, which was around 50MHz - stood a much better chance of getting through.

What changed wasn't more transmitters so much as better front ends, better able to pull the signal out of the noise. This was also noticeable with FM radio (same VHF frequencies as the US); the point of FM radio was that you got twice the audio bandwidth of AM, much less interference of all kinds, and (later) stereo, which made it particularly suitable for listeners of Radio 3, the classical music channel. But to get good reception, portable receivers used to need their telescopic aerial to be extended, and hi-fi receivers were generally fed from a Yagi on the roof. These days front ends are good enough that radio receivers very rarely require any external aerial, and UHF TV reception is possible, albeit a bit noisy and needing a head amp to boost the signal, in places that used to be VHF strongholds.

That's for analogue TV; I don't know what the situation is now that all TV has gone digital and the concept of graceful degradation has been thrown out of the window. Maybe people just use satellite receivers instead.

102:

When in Hawaii a few decades back and I found out that people would wind surf from island to island (200 to 250 miles in 20 hours give or take) I realized how much dumber the premise of the show was than I had ever imagined. Based on the time line in the show they should have been able to see Diamond Head by climbing up a not terribly tall tree.

103:

in the not too distant past asking if anyone had a particular model of BBC Micro in their loft as the one that had been running a lump of research equipment for the past 30 years was starting to get a bit flakey.

USAF SAC missile bases have similar issues. Things like 8" low density floppy drives and media are thin on the ground these days.

Back 15 years ago or so I read that NASA had a staffed department scouring the entire planet looking for things like various iterations of 386 and 486 processors and other assorted assemblies that had been out of production for years. I'm betting the group still exists.

104:

For most people FM was mostly "to the horizon". Unless you make a Yagi. Then you can go 100s of miles.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yagi%E2%80%93Uda_antenna

As to our mountains. They exist in selected areas. Mostly a line down the east and 2 lines down the west. Other than that it hills and how you define them. (What Texas calls hill country most of us think of a good flat land.)

105:

What he describes fits much of the land between the Rockies and a bit east of the Missouri River but other than that the rest of the US while not densely urban is certainly not island cities surrounded by deserted lands.

106:

That's for analogue TV; I don't know what the situation is now that all TV has gone digital and the concept of graceful degradation has been thrown out of the window. Maybe people just use satellite receivers instead.

In the US if you don't use cable or sat and aren't near the antenna[1] farm you use an amplified antenna which costs $30 to $100 depending...

[1] Since many (most?) TV antennas in the US are 1000' or more tall they tend to cluster in clumps as there's only so many places where the geography is right for coverage of a 100 mile radius or more if possible. The population centers were set 100 years or more before TV so everyone did the analysis and came up with mostly the same answers.

107:

In Oz, AM's main use is emergency broadcast and local (or rebroadcast national) talk radio. Downside is that modern and especially European cars seem not to bother with AM aerials, with the pattern in the rear window and the vanity shark fin being the whole package. FM is for music (again local or rebroadcast national), but dies beyond line of sight from the big transmitters around larger cities. Your "mountain range" might just be "curvature of the earth" for many locations. (Sanity check: you can just barely pick up 4ZZZ FM Brisbane @ 102.1MHz from Toowoomba (100km-ish inland), and you definitely CANNOT see the broadcast antenna on Mt Coot-tha, but that's pretty much the outer limit and it's only possible because Toowoomba is on the edge of a plateau facing east ... and the Zs go for as much power as they are allowed).

On the other hand there are repeaters for 850/900MHz mobile phone and 1800/2100MHz cellular data along most major roads. People who spend time on the road and in remote areas mount big 9dBi whip antennae on their vehicles and use cradles that passively couple the phone antenna to the whip.

108:

I also used Wordwise on the BBC micro. I used it to write my MSc dissertation in 1990. The dissertation was stored on tape cassettes. The major disadvantage of Wordwise was that it had no spell checker.

109:

Did people who used BBC Micros go on to write their university essays using their BBC Micro? Did businesses run commercial software on it? Did scientists do real modelling on it?

I've already written that I used it to type my MSc dissertation. In my section of the biochemistry lab we wrote a program to import real time quality control sample results from a multichannel analyser and this helped us to improve our previously mediocre performance to the top rank. In the genetics lab they used a BBC micro to control homemade robots doing DNA amplification. In the steroid lab BBC software was used to enable a totally blind receptionist to do her job.
At home I used the BBC micro to write planetarium software (the only programming I was paid for).

110:

Did anything have one back then? Not enough storage anywhere for much of a dictionary, and it would have been pretty slow anyway with the dictionary on floppy disk. (Which I suppose in turn means that anything that did have one probably would not run it automatically, which in further turn means I'd never have noticed whether it was available or not, because the only time I ever notice the existence of a spellchecker is when it does run automatically and makes me turn it off. (And having done that, I then forget it was ever there in the first place.))

111:

Well, my view is that a "speel-chucker on the fly" is better than just relying on my proff-reiding even though they mostly only speak USian. ;-) I certainly do turn off the grammah-chucker though!

112:

They were available but I couldn't afford one. They had to be separately applied to the already written text.

113:

Did people who used BBC Micros go on to write their university essays using their BBC Micro? Did businesses run commercial software on it? Did scientists do real modelling on it?

Dunno about the BBC Micro, but I used my Commodore 64 for several years of engineering at university, used it as a word processor while working as an engineer, and my father used his for scientific modelling. I also wrote inventory control software for a local business which was used into at least the late 80s.

So that's university papers and thesis, businesses, and real science modelling on a machine with about the same specs.

114:

"...a side order of racism on top!"

Charlie! The construction of that sentence gave me a side order of headache! (On the side of my head, mind you, not to the top.)

Otherwise a most excellent speech. I listened online and really enjoyed it. (How about a browser extension that selects a website randomly then clicks aimlessly on outgoing links until it can explore no more, then starts the process again.)

115:

...TV antennas in the US ... tend to cluster in clumps as there's only so many places where the geography is right for coverage of a 100 mile radius or more if possible. The population centers were set 100 years or more before TV so everyone did the analysis and came up with mostly the same answers.

My city has a line of hills near downtown; the crest line isn't ideal for habitation but was the logical site for tall antennas. Most places don't have something so convenient but I'd expect a local best answer to be relatively obvious for most cities.

Some places do all broadcasting from a single gigantic tower, which I'm sure is convenient when non-technical factors allow it. The two schemes seem to be the logical answers for the challenge of broadcasting many signals to a region.

116:

"How about a browser extension that selects a website randomly then clicks aimlessly on outgoing links until it can explore no more, then starts the process again."

There are probably testers' tools which do this. (I've never tested web stuff, so I don't know from personal experience.)

117:

Er, wrong tower :) That one's for comms links, not broadcasting (although some of its capacity is used for distributing material for broadcasting, the actual broadcasting happens elsewhere). It uses directional microwave beam transmission to talk to other towers on its network, which generally look much the same, like this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stokenchurch_BT_Tower

The one that does perform the function you're thinking of is this one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crystal_Palace_transmitting_station (note the different appearance). There are similar big-arse transmitters in places like Sandy and Sutton Coldfield, and then a bunch of smaller ones with considerably lower power (down to a few tens of watts in some cases) repeating the big ones to fill in odd gaps and holes which occur at the fringes of the coverage areas of the big ones or in little pockets of particularly unfavourable topography.

118:

That's for analogue TV; I don't know what the situation is now that all TV has gone digital and the concept of graceful degradation has been thrown out of the window. Maybe people just use satellite receivers instead.

In the US if you don't use cable or sat and aren't near the antenna[1] farm you use an amplified antenna which costs $30 to $100 depending...

[1] Since many (most?) TV antennas in the US are 1000' or more tall they tend to cluster in clumps as there's only so many places where the geography is right for coverage of a 100 mile radius or more if possible. The population centers were set 100 years or more before TV so everyone did the analysis and came up with mostly the same answers.

Terrain matters a lot. I live less than 10 miles from the Auburn cluster (WRAL, WTVD, WLFL, WRDC) and still can't get a usable signal even with an amplified antenna unless I mount it on a mast at least 20 feet above my roof.

119:

Hence our local fill-in transmitters, but their siting is not always all it could be.

Droitwich in the UK is in the Sutton Coldfield coverage area, but actually gets its signal from the Bromsgrove repeater, which is only a few miles away. That signal is good and unambiguous, despite intervening higher ground, so the rooftops are universally adorned with quite small Yagis all pointing the same way. On occasion the Bromsgrove repeater has gone down, and when that happens those same aerials are capable of picking up Sutton Coldfield instead (which is in the same direction, just a lot further), and quite well too; higher gain aerials would probably pick it up well enough for normal use.

Worcester, a few miles further south, is basically divided into two reception areas by a ridge of high ground. On the north and east side, houses can see Sutton Coldfield (but not Bromsgrove, even though it's closer); to the west and south, they see Malvern, which is a fairly low power repeater but is on a great big hill and looks across a flat plain. But on the undulating top of the ridge there are some very confused areas, which can sort of see both Malvern and Sutton Coldfield but get a shit signal from either of them, so you find houses with big high-gain Yagis with head amps on tall chimney poles that point in one of two directions with no consistency from one house to the next - plus the occasional house whose aerial seems to be pointing in a wild and completely wrong direction, because it's in a particular spot a few metres across which actually gets the best signal from the Wrekin or some other bizarre location.

(Observations relate to analogue days, but looking at the aerial configurations I don't think going digital has made much difference, even though Malvern got a few orders of magnitude power boost.)

Things like this you just have to put up with, because very small scale variations can be quite extreme and sorting out all the odd holes would be impractical. Bedford, for instance, gets an excellent signal from the nearby Sandy transmitter - except in the shadow of the hospital, where it's shite.

120:

Yes. That's the local cluster. My issues is the path from there to me goes right through the downtown area. When I last didn't use cable I had lots of issues with analog signals as the few tall buildings created weak and/or echoing signals. That was with rabbit ears.

I've recently bought a Yagi style amplified antenna for $35 and plan to see how things are now with it and digital signals. I'd like to give up my $110/mo cable TV bill. That means crawling around in my attic but for the next few weeks the high temp will be a bit above freezing for maybe 1/2 of the days. And a small bit at that.

121:

Oh, yeah. In the last 20 years there are more and taller buildings. We shall see.

Oh, yeah. Where I grew up the local TV transmitter was located at Monkey's Eyebrow. A place name no one would have ever heard of except for it being a prime spot to local a transmitter.

122:

"I have no plans to visit the USA in 2018. US Immigration is just too damn scary while there's a xenophobe in the White House."

As a European white dude I don't think you can call US immigration scary, they love white men. If you were from Iran it would be a different story. I get it as a protest vote, sure.

123:

As a European white dude myself I don't want to go anywhere near them. I think you need to tick more boxes than just that. I think I'm more likely to tick more boxes in the other column. And if I had published books like some of Charlie's I really wouldn't want to go near them.

124:

Go tell that to Peter Watts.

Also, part of the scariness is when they decide that you have to give them your account passwords. Or they randomly decide they don't like your attitude, or your politics. Or your accent.

125:

Don't have any accounts with passwords on your phone then - though that would probably get theor ultra-paranoid attention.
{ I refuse to go near Arsebook & Twitter has been deleted from my phone, though I do have an account on this machine ...
P.S. I tried to reply to one of CHarlie's twees the other day, & it fell down in a pile ... }

126:

While I would be more scared were I Iranian or Asian or African among others, to say that ostensibly straight white cis people have nothing to worry about is wrong.

I've been avoiding the US since the mid 2000s myself. It didn't help that my sister got held for six hours at Orlando Airport one time. That she'd been a local resident for years, and Orlando Airport was her actual place of work? Sheesh!

(She's since taken a US passport, which was at least an option for her if not for me. And yeah, she's white and English like me)

127:

During the George W. Bush administration, the BBC ran a feature on how unfriendly the US immigration queues are to foreigners, and invited reader feedback. This was back in the days when they were moderating their comments, and some of the comments were quite enlightening; British (white, male) businessmen complaining that entering the USA in the early 21st century was scarier than entering Moscow in 1984, or visiting Iran.

And that was under Bush. Things are now significantly less welcoming — I expect if I were to visit Pyongyang airport I'd find the atmosphere similar to international arrivals at JFK.

128:

Not to mention that merely transiting the US via a connecting international flight involves supplying them with all ten fingerprints and your full details. Note that this doesn't involve entering the country at all, and is on top of all the preregistration and security theatre at the departing end. Frankly their track record with personal information and their obsession with tracking everyone means I'd rather not let them have my biometrics as well - I can't easily change those.

129:

WHat happens if your aircraft HAS to land in the USA, even though it's not meant to?
As does happen in emergencies, for instance .....

130:

You avoid getting on an aircraft that might have to use the USA in emergencies?

This might involve using different routings on Canadian internal flights, f'rex: the Vancouver to Montreal route passes over Michigan due to the kink in the border. It's not a total problem for me, I only avoid the US and, should it come to it, I am prepared to go to Florida for my father's funeral. I've also been to NC twice for work reasons.

131:

You're probably out of luck. Passengers wanted in the US have been taken from international flights that had unplanned landings there; foreigners have very limited rights*; failing to follow police orders is a felony**…


*Legally they have some, practically enforcing them seems difficult when the word "security" is used.

**Ask Peter Watts, among others.

132:

failing to follow police orders is a felony*

What about the Nuremurg precedent of illegal orders?
Or is that ever-so-conveniently ignored, what a suprise?

133:

Conveniently ignored much of the time. In Canada during the G20 conference* we had police acting illegally, blatantly so, and getting away with it even after courts ruled that their behaviour was illegal. And it seems to me the the US has gone further down that road than we have.

In Watts' case, the order was to drop face-first into a freezing puddle of water.

The press has frequently characterized the charge against me as “assaulting a federal officer”. The alleged (and discredited) “choking” episode has been repeated ad nauseum. Here at the Sarnia Best Western I don’t have the actual statute in front of me but it includes a lengthy grab-bag of actions, things like “assault”, “resist”, “impede”, “threaten”, “obstruct” — hell, “contradict” might be in there for all I know. And under “obstruct” is “failure to comply with a lawful order”, and it’s explicitly stated that violence on the part of the perp is not necessary for a conviction. Basically, everything from asking “Why?” right up to chain-saw attack falls under the same charge. And it’s all a felony.

What constitutes “failure to comply with a lawful command” is open to interpretation. The Prosecution cited several moments within the melee which she claimed constituted “resisting”, but by her own admission I wasn’t charged with any of those things. I was charged only with resisting Beaudry, the guard I’d “choked”. My passenger of that day put the lie to that claim in short order, and the Prosecution wasn’t able to shake that. The Defense pointed out that I wasn’t charged with anything regarding anyone else, and the Prosecution had to concede that too. So what it came down to, ultimately, was those moments after I was repeatedly struck in the face by Beaudry (an event not in dispute, incidentally). After Beaudry had finished whaling on me in the car, and stepped outside, and ordered me out of the vehicle; after I’d complied with that, and was standing motionless beside the car, and Beaudry told me to get on the ground — I just stood there, saying “What is the problem?”, just before Beaudry maced me.
And that, said the Prosecutor in her final remarks — that, right there, was failure to comply. That was enough to convict.

I do not know what the jury said amongst themselves. But a question they sent out to the court yesterday afternoon — “Is failure to comply sufficient for conviction?” — strongly suggests that this was the lynchpin event. (Certainly Defense had demolished every other, and the Prosecution had conceded as much.) If that is the case, I cannot begrudge the jury their verdict. Their job is not to rewrite laws, or ignore stupid ones; their job is to decide whether a given act violates the law as written. And when you strip away all the other bullshit — the verbal jousting, the conflicting testimony, the inconsistent reports — the law doesn’t proscribe noncompliance “unless you’re dazed and confused from being hit in the face”. It simply proscribes noncompliance, period. And we all agree that in those few seconds between Beaudry’s command and the unleashing of his pepper spray, I just stood there asking what the problem was.

Whether that’s actual noncompliance or simply slow compliance is, I suspect, what the jury had to decide. That’s what they did, and while I think they made the wrong decision I’m obviously not the most impartial attendee at this party. I still maintain I did nothing wrong; but as far as I can tell the trial was fair, and I will abide by its outcome

http://www.rifters.com/crawl/?p=1186


*Located in Toronto, our most populous city, against the wishes and advice of local government. Suspicious people believe that Harper, who was notoriously small-minded, was punishing the city for not voting for his party. Shutting down the central business district for most of a week would seem to be a punishment.

134:

I hate to say it Mr Watts, but:
I cannot begrudge the jury their verdict. Their job is not to rewrite laws, or ignore stupid ones; ...
Actually it is. That is what one of the things juries are there for.
It's been done several times here - REFUSE TO CONVICT, simply because it's bullshit.
Do that a few times & the law gets changed - & has happened more than once.

It's one reason, f'rinstance that "the Crown" ( i.e. very small-minded prosecutors ) have never AFAIK appealed to a higher court against an acquittal for Cannabis-use for medical purposes ...
They are afraid that they would then lose that appeal, too ... which then sets a precedent.
Whereas, if they leave it, they can still go around harassing middle-aged people with severe back pain the bastards.

Agree re USSA going further down that road - really trending towards a "police state", especially if you are not pink (etc) ....

135:

Back to original subject (!)
Copy ordered through Transreal ...

136:

From the moment you exit your old country until you enter the new one, you actually have very few rights. Most countries treat transit areas as places where International Laws no longer apply, but Domestic Laws don't yet apply either since you haven't actually entered the country. You only count as being in International Waters while the plane is actually flying - once it lands you're in Transit, which is where it differs greatly from ships.
The European Court of Human Rights has rejected this idea, but even in Europe many countries ignore that ruling as it lets countries deport people more easily. All international ports have detention facilities as part of the transit areas.

Basically border agents can search you, seize goods, imprison you, whatever they like, and you can't do anything about it. The recruitment of numerous low wage thugs in recent years as part of the security theatre has not improved matters in this respect. Inbound passengers are invariably tired, grumpy and hostile, which is not conducive to good relationships with rentacops.

137:

Just saw a copy out on the shelf at my local Waterstones!

Naturally, being a Good Samaritan I picked it up and took it home so no careless members of the book-reading public would spoil themselves before the official street date.

(Sorry if this impacts your first-week sales, but I'm weak-willed...)

138:

WHat happens if your aircraft HAS to land in the USA, even though it's not meant to?
As does happen in emergencies, for instance .....

Like this maybe?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHpKeRSLnF8

139:

No "It's out now!" post?

140:

I just found a copy in my local Waterstones so many places are already selling it in the UK.

141:

Reading on my Kindle now - finding typos as usual in modern books. Was it Harlan Ellison who had a rant about declining standards in copy editing?

142:

Goodness, i don't think i've ever been so tantalized by a cliff-hanger! V dramatic point to leave the narrative off at; i hated it.

I didn't see any typos other than a few stray (easily ignored) apostrophes, and some sentences which seemed oddly worded but on rereading parsed fine. Some colons where i thought semicolons would've been more correct but what do i know?

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This page contains a single entry by Charlie Stross published on December 19, 2017 11:26 AM.

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