Charlie Stross: February 2007 Archives

"Everybody knows" that the camera lies, especially in the Photoshop age.

Now there's a guerrilla campaign to re-humanize the glamour shots on advertising posters using printable cold sores.

I wonder how long it'll be before somebody doing this is prosecuted under an anti-terrorism law?

Does anyone know if this (T-Mobile UKs HSDPA laptop 3G data card) is compatible with laptops running Linux, kernel 2.6.17 (distro: Kubuntu 6.10)?

I've seen discussions that imply that T-Mobile re-brand Option's cards, and I've found this source of information on configuring Option GlobeTrotter cards under Linux, but I've got nowhere trying to find out what particular model T-Mobile are currently hawking to Web'N'Walk customers. So if any existing T-Mobile UK Web'N'Walk customers with a data card can let me know what model number they've got (via the comments link below) I'd be very grateful.

NB: this is not an open invitation for Americans to tell me what Cingular card to use, Brits to tell me to switch to Vodafone, Windows bigots to go "har har" at the Linux user, Mac users to say "get a mac", GNOME evangelists to encourage me to switch away from KDE, Fedora freaks to urge me to ditch Ubuntu, or anything else like that. It's just an inquiry about one particular data card on one particular network and one particular operating system.

Just to observe that I'm back home after appearing at Picocon in London and doing a bunch of publicity-related stuff with my UK publishers. No props whatsoever to our hotel who had no internet connectivity of any kind (modem line in room included) and blocked mobile phone signal so efficiently that I couldn't even get online via GPRS.

Yes, I'm aware the site may have been inaccessible; we've been hit by trackback spammers so badly that it took a couple of reboots and some emergency duct tape to get everything working again (which I prefer not to do after a night of being gently bounced off the walls and ceiling of a compartment on a sleeper train).

Normal service will be resumed when I've caught up on my sleep deficit. Meanwhile, the Linux-cognoscenti among you might find the following screenshot amusing:

top(1) listing showing why the server crashed and burned

One of the most disgusting pieces of legislation to be passed in the past decade in the UK — and it faces some stiff competition — is the badly thought-out and draconian Terrorism Act of 2006.

Among other things, this piece of legislation created several new crimes — including the rather peculiar one of "glorifying terrorism". The proximate justification for this offense seems to be public indignation at the sight of preachers praising suicide bombers in Iraq and Israel from the pulpit, but the effect of it is corrosive — it undermines political free speech. Just consider for a moment the vexing question of who is, or isn't, a terrorist. Is Nelson Mandela? Certainly if this law had been on the books in the 1980s it's possible that supporters of the ANC would have been prosecuted. Is the animal rights movement supportive of terrorists? Is Sinn Fein? Once you get into the gritty business of trying to pin down who is and isn't a terrorist you end up with a peculiar conjugation: "I am a freedom fighter, you are a guerilla, they are terrorists". It all depends on where you stand, and consequently this nonsensical piece of legislation went through on the nod with an appendix explaining that the IRA aren't terrorists (they're good guys now that they put down their guns) and neither was the ANC, and Menachem Begin couldn't possibly be a terrorist (despite Irgun Zvai Leumi's habit of kidnapping and killing British soldiers back in the day) ... only funny people we don't approve of or want to talk to are terrorists.

Oh, and they forgot to define "glorifying". In fact, they drew the net so widely that they forgot to leave out political satire, or works of fiction.

I'd therefore like to commend to your attention a curious little book titled, appropriately enough, "Glorifying Terrorism". It's an anthology of science fiction stories dedicated to demonstrating the asinine nature of this piece of reactionary and censorious rubbish by breaking the law. Featuring illegal stories by Kathryn Allen, Chaz Brenchley, Marie Brennan, Hal Duncan, Suzette Haden Elgin, Kira Franz, Van Aaron Hughes, Davin Ireland, Gwyneth Jones, Vylar Kaftan, Lucy Kemnitzer, H. H. L√łyche, Ken MacLeod, Una McCormack, Adam Roberts, Elizabeth Sourbut, Katherine Sparrow, Kari Sperring, myself, Rachel Swirsky, Lavie Tidhar, James Trimarco, Jo Walton, Ian Watson, and Ian Whates, this is the most political SF anthology published in the UK for a very long time.

You can buy it here.

For no terribly good reason I just checked the number of earlier entries in this blog. And discovered to my surprise that (a) I started blogging some time in March 2002, making this blog nearly five years old ... and (b) as far as I can tell, this is my 1250th posting.

I'm just pausing to boggle a little. To put it in perspective: the last novel I turned in was roughly 125,000 words in length. My average blog posting is considerably more than 100 words long — probably they average 500 words, as I've taken to writing longer articles less frequently. So the total corpus is probably equal to five books in length, and over the long term I average one posting per day.

Maybe I should put a cork in it?

Naah ....

If you went to the 2006 World Science Fiction Convention, or if you're signed up to go to this year's convention (Nippon 2007, in Yokohama) you're eligible to nominate up to five items in each category for the Hugo Award. The five most frequently nominated works then go onto the final ballot for the award.

You can find the online ballot here. Closing date for nominations is March 3rd (Midnight, Pacific Standard Time). I encourage you to nominate stuff you've read or seen during 2006 that struck you as good. The Hugo shortlist — on which the final vote is held — is put together on the basis of far too few nominations (as few as a couple of dozen nominees, in the least popular categories).

Declaration of interest: I have three novels which are eligible this year (The Clan Corporate, Glasshouse, and The Jennifer Morgue), and one novella (Missile Gap). So yes, I do have a dog in this race. But don't let that put you off voting for anybody else. 2006 was a vintage year for SF, in my opinion, and we're spoiled for choice.

The American Enterprise Institute, a think tank largely funded by Exxon-Mobil is offering to pay climatologists $10,000 for articles that emphasise the shortcomings of a report from the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

This is not surprising: lacking any real defense, it's only logical for them to seek men of straw to argue the case for them. The surprise is that they expect climatologists to be willing to trash their professional reputations — in a manner that will come back to haunt them whenever they subsequently apply for a job — for a mere ten thousand dollars. For a professional lobbyist that's a couple of billable hours; yet they suppose it's the measure of a working scientist's life's work.

Seldom has it been so easy to put an exact price on contempt.

Addendum: I note with interest that the American Enterprise Institute are Ayaan Hirsi Ali's current employers. More on this rather creepy body of unelected would-be architects of your future here.

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This page is an archive of recent entries written by Charlie Stross in February 2007.

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