Charlie's Diary

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Wed, 12 Nov 2003

Clean-up time

Yikes! You go away for a couple of weeks and what happens? Your evil twin breaks out of the Government Warehouse, steals your blog, makes himself at home, and starts ordering all and sundry to build titanium pyramids on the moon and vote for Michael Howard.


Anyway, I'm back to normal and that Evil Overlord guy can go and find his own blog -- this one's mine. I've got a lot of catching up to do right now; I'm working on a collaboration with Cory Doctorow, three or four short stories, and a bunch of copy edits for a novel are due to land on my desk any day now. (The book in question is "Iron Sunrise", the sequel to "Singularity Sky", and this weeks' good news is that it looks like it'll be coming out in the UK, and probably quite a bit closer to its first US publication date than the earlier book.) Anyway, I hope you'll excuse me if I don't blog too much for the next week or so. Between digging my way out from under the backlog and tidying up all the secret lairs and weapons of mass destruction the Evil Overlord left lying around I've got my work cut out.

posted at: 12:46 | path: /overlord | permanent link to this entry

Thu, 06 Nov 2003

Your evil overlord wants you to know that ...

Having a hideous head-cold means that you don't have to smell what you're doing when you muck out the cat's litter tray.

(Of course, being an Evil Overlord means you have Minions to take care of such tasks for you, and to find creative uses for the toxic waste products -- there's nothing like burying your enemies up to the neck in a pile of cat-poo to make them crack, and I'm sure minion-of-the-month John Ashcroft will be enthusiastically deploying this tactic just as soon as he's rammed through the PATRIOT III Act that will give him the powers of inquisition that he truly needs in order to get the job done.)

Meanwhile, your evil overlord will shortly be departing from his lair on a fact-finding mission to a science fiction convention. Expect further transmissions next week.

[ Link (Apparel for the discerning evil overlord) ] [ Discuss Evil Overlords ]

posted at: 13:06 | path: /overlord | permanent link to this entry

Tue, 04 Nov 2003

The revolution will not be televised: it will not take place at all.

As your Evil Overlord, I want you to know that I hate revolutions. Revolutions are exceedingly bad for entrenched power, and there've been too many of them in the last century -- technological as well as ideological.

Take computers, for example. They're okay when they're locked in a corporate basement processing the big databases that allow my minions to adjust your monthly chocolate rations, but things got entirely out of control in the 1970's when those meddling kids at Intel started making "micro-processors" that wild-eyed subversives called Steve could do subversive things with. Luckily my pal Bill Gates -- the lawyer, that is -- suggested a good wheeze to one of my assistants in the Department of Bureaucratic Overcontrol, and thirty years later it has payed off: Bill's son now owns most of the world's software by way of a sleazy and devious web of monopolies, contracts, and back-pocket judges. One of the Steve's turned out to be un-buyable, but the other one ... let's just say he doesn't know what planet he's on, neither do his followers, and that's the way we want to keep it. (And you wondered about the Kool-Aid at Apple Developer Forum?)

But you rabble. Sometimes you puzzle me.

Take this Linus guy. Some Finnish computer science student or other. Trying to soak teen-agers for thousand buck software licences sounded like a good way of putting them off for life, but it backfired in this case, and as peer-to-peer hadn't been invented we had no way of planting anything incriminating on him. Nor did we even see the threat. He started writing an operating system. He wasn't the first fellow to do that, or even to do it for free -- there's a strange hermit-like figure called Richard or Dick or something who keeps demanding that I change my name to Evil Overlord (GNU/Planetary) or something -- but my land sharks didn't realise until too late the dangers of letting this thing called the GPL loose on a piece of software. (Or the whole internet mess, which is costing ever so much to bring under control because people think it means they actually have free speech and they get much angrier when you disillusion them than when they didn't think they had it at all.) But I digress.

As of eighteen months ago, Linux wasn't just registering on Bill's radar, it was registering on my radar. It's an industrial strength system that can run databases, and there are all sorts of weasel-minded cryptography nerds out there trying to use it to build undetectable file stores, peer to peer networks, and so on. This absolutely must be stamped out at once, or all my attempts to get the internet under control again will be pointless. Bill said he'd invent something called Palladium to do it, and some discreet nudging in Congress got some honest politicians to propose a bill that would make it a capital offense to run non-Microsoft operating systems, but that's too slow. Lots of third-world Evil Government Minions got the idea that they could save money by running Linux, and once that kind of idea takes root all that's left is to send in B-52's loaded with Agent Orange. It's a plague, I tell you.

Luckily, one of my spin doctors was able to put me in trust with some folks who would see reason. First on my phone list was a Mr McBride from Utah, who had recently bought a second hand software company's name and wondered why there was no money left in it. Darl was overjoyed when I suggested that Evil Overlord (Planetary) Operations would back him if he attempted to prove that Linux was a product of Satan and he is now well on his way to campaigning for sysadmins to be burned at the stake for using the virulent freeware. But while I hadn't been paying attention, some early Linux developers had turned corporate. This suggested another avenue of attack ...

Well, I can happily announce today that Linux is back under control. Red Hat, in one of those inexplicable corporate foot-shootings that happen from time to time, has announced that they're discontinuing Red Hat Linux. This move is inexplicable until you realise that they'll be continuing to market it, with an extra digit in the price, as Red Hat Enterprise, but it means they're out of the game: they're not a threat to Evil Overlord operations any more. Because I'm going to make sure that a lot of enterprises buy Red Hat Enterprise contracts. The threat of corporate malfeasance lawsuits, not to mention my minion Darl's barking, should focus Red Hat's thinking for many years to come.

Meanwhile, my friends in Utah -- do you think I ought to move Evil Empire HQ to Salt Lake City? -- completed the clean-up without even having to be asked. Novell have been trying to turn from a Netware (dying) into a Linux (growing) corporation for ages. Today Novell bought SuSE, the only other really successful desktop Linux company. Given Novell's historic record of success in the consumer market, this guarantees Microsoft's continued domination of the desktop and the continuation of our thirty-year long propaganda strategy. This consists of convincing the public that personal computers are useless for anything except browsing dodgy websites like this one. It's a self-fulfilling prophecy -- if they believe it, they won't go looking for the truth on-line. I can't exaggerate the threat that ubiquitous free communications and public speech posed to my operations, but as with so many other technological problems, the solution lies in how you look at the problem.

We're getting close. My US Senate minions, led by senators Berman, Smith and Conyers, are about to introduce a bill to target peer-to-peer clients including web browsers, making it a crime to distribute them without a warning that they "could create a security and privacy risk". FUD, but useful FUD because it will leave the majority of timid users stuck with my friend Bill's son's web browser (the next release of which will add subliminal pop-ups slaved to Fox News). We've even nobbled that Linus guy into not opposing our moves to build Digital Rights Management into the next generation of microprocessors. With Linux under the control of large corporations and some handy laws to deploy against the wild-eyed Debian info-terrorists, the personal computer revolution will be well and truly nailed down and wrapped up, and the internet will be well on the way to being just another propaganda channel.

Then it'll be back to business as usual. Kiss the annual upgrade fee, scum!

[ Discuss Evil Overlords ]

posted at: 16:52 | path: /overlord | permanent link to this entry

Mon, 03 Nov 2003

Salute the Flag!

I am extremely disappointed in you all.

Goddamn bleeding heart liberals, wanting to pull the troops out of Iraq.

Today's news from Iraq is good news. It means that we are winning the war against the top-down hierarchically controlled remnants of the Ba'athist resistance, or maybe the disparate half-a-dozen bottom-up national resistance movements (to say nothing of the bull-goose loony suicide bomber wannabes who are flocking in from the Middle East and Europe in hope of strapping a bomb on and taking some crusaders to hell over Ramadan). At any rate, we're winning the war against whoever the hell we're fighting. Ahem, I mean, the war against whoever you're fighting. I'm sitting here in this air-conditioned office in Evil Overlord HQ on Skull Island and I'm not fighting anything, except maybe the pounds I'm adding to my waistline.

Look, let's get this straight. It is your job to fight the war against whoever I say the enemy is. If you question your leaders you are unpatriotic, and patriotism is next to godliness, isn't it? And those evil terrorists, they flew airliners into skyscrapers -- who knows what Mohammed Atta and his evil henchpeople are planning to do next?

Okay. You think I'm not being serious? This war is the best thing to have happened to business in years. I had my doubts about Georgie's response to 9/11 (sticking his dick in the buzzing hornet nest of Afghanibuttfuckistan less than ten years after the Soviets got enclued and high-tailed it out of Kabul: less than two centuries after the goddamn British empire -- the folks who accidentally conquered India and ran it at a profit for a century -- found out the hard way that when you played "rock, scissors, stone" with Pathans you had to count your fingers afterwards) seemed a bit odd at first. But the Iraq scam is truly brilliant. I am duly grateful to Dick for handling my Halliburton proxies; this is going to take years to sort out. And the longer you guys stay in downtown Baghdad, and the more things the other guys blow up, the more reconstruction contracts will be there for my friends. You put it up, they knock it down, I get paid. It's as simple as that.

Getting a bit more technical: as Major General Smedley Butler pointed out in the 1930's, war is a racket. A racket is a scheme whereby a properly constituted enterprise can maximize profits without the sort of lilly-gilding and attention to obeying the letter of the law that businesses which wish to comply with, for example, health and safety regulations, are subject to. But there's a paradox in this: because if crime is business, it faces added overheads -- it must provide its own insurance, law, enforcement, and punishment services, and avoid attracting the attention of the legitimate governing authorities. Thus, the real world (as opposed to the one James Bond inhabits) is short of multi-billionaire Blofeld figures, running SPECTRE-sized multinational criminal syndicates. The operational overheads a criminal multinational faces are higher than those of a law-abiding firm, making them less efficient in the marketplace.

The exception to this rule is that when the racket can claim the protection of overwhelming military force it can operate more profitably than a conventional corporation. This is where General Butler's comments become apposite. In the wake of an invasion, the police and the interior ministry and corporate management of the vanquished become impotent in the face of the carpetbagging entrepreneurs riding the coat-tails of the invader's tanks. And invading armies are not geared up to manage corporate reconstruction effectively.

As long as the situation in Iraq remains one of a military occupation, with contracts handed out on an open-ended basis with no oversight, the contractors will tend towards the condition of organized criminals -- on a colossal scale. And with at least five billion dollars already missing from the Iraq reconstruction funds in only six months, I and my Evil Minions are optimistic about the prospects for an indefinitely prolonged occupation.

Remember, if you break it you pay for it. Occupying soldiers are notoriously bad at not breaking things -- in fact, they tend to get the locals angry enough to break even more stuff of their own. And someone else gets to pick up the tab, and hand out the cash to my cronies. Which is why I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in reducing the rate of breakage.

Kiss the cheque book, scum -- and don't forget to salute the flag!

[ Link ] [ Discuss Evil Overlords ]

posted at: 00:25 | path: /overlord | permanent link to this entry

Sat, 01 Nov 2003

Your Evil Overlord Orders You To ...

  1. Buy my books. (That goes without saying, right? What point is there in being Evil Overlord if I can't make people buy my books? Buy my books, scum, or you will live just long enough to be truly sorry.)
  2. Teach everyone to read. Anyone who cannot read will in future have rude statements about their parentage tattooed on their forehead, by way of an incentive. (See item, "Buy my books", above.)
  3. Consume and Obey.
  4. Those of you who live in the Vatican City have an election coming up soon. Before you cast a vote in favour of a successor for the current pontiff, I urge you to remember the fate of the electing cardinals who disagreed with Matteo Orsini. Here's a clue: the watchword is plastic. I'm sure you'll find a way to the conclusion that keeping me happy is your holy duty.
  5. Those of you who live in the United States of America have an election coming up next year. Before you cast a vote, please remember that I do not look kindly on scum who fail to vote for one of my sock-puppets. Determining which of the candidates on offer is my sock puppet is an intelligence test. Lose it, and you have four years to regret your mistake. (Here's a clue: of the current candidates, which one looks most like a minion of the Dark Lord -- the guy in the White House who is currently trying to boost the price of hardcore action by declaring Protection From Porn Week while simultaneously fighting a land war in Asia and a war on two fronts, or one of the other guys?)

That's all for now.

[ Discuss Evil Overlords ]

posted at: 18:04 | path: /overlord | permanent link to this entry

Fri, 31 Oct 2003

Public relations

It has been brought to my attention that in order to obtain your cooperation in installing my minions in those countries that still run Democracy 1.0 (as opposed to the new, improved Democracy 2.0 currently being installed by my contractors at Diebold Corporation and elsewhere) it is necessary to behave as if your votes are a valuable resource. At least, until we can eliminate the pesky audit trail that proves you voted for them and not for us.

Therefore, please allow me to re-phrase the last sentence of my previous message as follows: "I encourage you to vote for Michael Howard. Vote for the tax-cutting cuddly face of new, improved, sparkly-clean conservative virtue!"

(Yes, PNH, the fascist octopus is indeed beginning to sing its swan song. And you ain't heard nuttin' yet.)

[ Link (Electronic voting fraud) ] [ Discuss Evil Overlords ]

posted at: 19:49 | path: /overlord | permanent link to this entry

Meet your new rulers

As Evil Overlord (Planetary) it has come to my attention that the British Isles are currently being governed by regrettably liberal-minded wishy-washy types such as Tony Blair, Jack Straw, and David Blunkett. This needs to be Rectified. I'd therefore like to commend to you my new Minion and your next provincial gauleiter, Mr Michael Howard. As Labour MP Tom Watson explains, Mr Howard is eminently suitable to the post of Evil Overlord (Planetary) Minion i/c United Kingdom. He is, in fact, as suitable as anyone can be who isn't actually the bastard cloned love-child of George W. Bush and John Ashcroft -- my two favourite Evil Overlord Minions (and the ones he most closely resembles). His policies betray a touching hatred and contempt for fags, women, wogs, poor people, criminals stupid enough to get caught, trade unionists, healthcare workers, and indeed just about everyone except my other most excellent Minion (retired), General Alfredo Pinochet.

Vote for him, scum! Vote for the jackboot upon your neck!

[ Link ] [ Discuss Evil Overlords ]

posted at: 12:44 | path: /overlord | permanent link to this entry

Thu, 30 Oct 2003

My Evil Plan

I am currently feeling somewhat tired and taking a week off work, lazing around and contemplating my future. Despite being able to make a comfortable living writing science fiction and fantasy novels, I feel that my broad vision and grand strategic skills would be better employed in a more prominent role. There's been a lot of wind-baggery lately about a New World Order, or a Project for a New American Century, but I know how to do it better; their ambitions are all a bit limited. Yes, I intend to apploy for the job of Evil Overlord (Planetary). Here's what I believe I can bring to the post:

Your typical Evil Overlord dresses in black, sits in a high castle overlooking a blasted wasteland, and sends forth armies of Orcs (or the US Marine Corps) to devastate continents. But that's the naive way to do it. My plan is not to tell anyone that I'm the Evil Overlord (Planetary) -- at least, nobody except the folks who count, who can in turn be indexed on your fingers and toes if you have a full complement of digits and understand binary.

I will live in a modest ranch somewhere in the richest military power on the planet -- like Kennebunkport, say -- and I will entertain political leaders from around the world and discuss their Swiss bank account statements and the pending indictments before the Hague international court with them until they see that it is in their interests to listen to my sage advice. By being pivotal in this way, I can control events from behind the curtain (maintained by my good friend Rupe, who won't let any nasty journalists pry into my private life) while putting a useful idiot in the White House to run Province Number One in accordance with my requirements.

A bit of mis-management lower down the pecking order will keep my minions, the presidents and prime ministers and ayatollahs, on their toes, vying for my favour. It'll also serve to produce the semi-permanent state of Emergency that justifies the enormous standing armies of intelligence/secret police agents who maintain the war on terror (also known as the war on people who know what I'm up to and want nothing to do with it).

Mine will be a very democratic evil overlordship -- everyone gets to vote for my choice of minions from a pre-approved list of evil overlord henchpeople, and the minions don't even have to pay lip service to me in public. (In fact, if they *do* pay lip service to me in public they'll have a little accident with a bottle of oxycontin and have to go to the Betty Ford Clinic for a rest).

For those bits of the globe that are annoyingly recalcitrant, my minions will prepare Sock Puppets which they can revile to their hearts' content -- the Elders of Zion, the Illuminati, the Freemasons, the Republican Party. Every so often I'll let a bunch of upstarts 'win' and overthrow their particular Sock Puppet; meanwhile my minions within the upstart movement will work their way to the top by attending executive committee meetings while everyone else is away demonstrating.

It has been said that my friend Rupert Murdoch regularly calls up his guru Arthur C. Clarke to chat about the future, communications satellites, the media, and so on. I'm a bit less overt -- but I will make sure that Noam Chomsky's tenure is unchallenged, and that he has plenty of time to write, and I will read everything he writes in manuscript form and apply his fascinating techniques for social control to my own ends. (Of course he thinks he's doing you all a favour by explaining this stuff ...)

As for why I want supreme power, that takes some consideration. The planetary GDP is roughly US $40Tn a year (that's $40,000Bn). I figure a 1% supertax ought to ensure that all my plans are catered for, allowing me to indulge in grandiouse -- not to say megalomaniacal -- schemes without restraint. For example, I've seen the Louvre and I wasn't impressed. For my personal art collection, nothing less than a titanium pyramid will do -- a titanium pyramid, on the moon. Should only cost a hundred billion or so: that's chicken feed. (A fitting goal for the Indian Space Agency to undertake on my behalf, I think, seeing that NASA are currently pork-barrelled into uselessness and their replacement agency isn't scheduled for creation until five years after the next American revolution.)

As for why you should support me for Evil Overlord, I can offer you a number of fringe benefits. For one thing, it is not in my personal interests to allow the junior management to throw strategic nuclear weapons around, indulge in mass extinction events, ignore earth-smashing asteroids, and otherwise act in the belief that they can get away with mischief. For another thing, I'm not as stupidly provincial as your current lords and masters; in my capacity as Evil Overlord (Planetary) I have to energetically pursue a policy of cosmopolitan internationalism in order to justify the (Planetary) bit. Finally, I promise to be more amusing and congenial, not to mention more witty and imaginative than my predecessors as I feed unfortunate investigative journalists to the candiru fish in the atrium of my glass-walled hideaway skyscraper in the Himalayas. I mean, I used to be a science fiction writer: I'm superbly qualified to dispose of a budget of $400Bn a year in interesting and creative ways that will surprise, entrance, and horrify you.

Vote for me: why settle for the lesser evil?

(PS: Do you think people would take me more seriously as an evil overlord if I changed my surname to "Stroessner"?)

[ Discuss Evil Overlords ]

posted at: 23:22 | path: /overlord | permanent link to this entry


Is SF About to Go Blind? -- Popular Science article by Greg Mone
Unwirer -- an experiment in weblog mediated collaborative fiction
Inside the MIT Media Lab -- what it's like to spend a a day wandering around the Media Lab
"Nothing like this will be built again" -- inside a nuclear reactor complex

Quick links:

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Buy my books: (FAQ)

Missile Gap
Via Subterranean Press (US HC -- due Jan, 2007)

The Jennifer Morgue
Via Golden Gryphon (US HC -- due Nov, 2006)

Via (US HC -- due June 30, 2006)

The Clan Corporate
Via (US HC -- out now)

Via (US HC)
Via (US PB -- due June 27, 2006)
Via (UK HC)
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Free download

The Hidden Family
Via (US HC)
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The Family Trade
Via (US HC)
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Iron Sunrise
Via (US HC)
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Via (UK HC)
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The Atrocity Archives
Via (Trade PB)
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Via Golden Gryphon (HC)
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Singularity Sky
Via (US HC)
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Via (US ebook)
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Some webby stuff I'm reading:

Engadget ]
Gizmodo ]
The Memory Hole ]
Boing!Boing! ]
Futurismic ]
Walter Jon Williams ]
Making Light (TNH) ]
Crooked Timber ]
Junius (Chris Bertram) ]
Baghdad Burning (Riverbend) ]
Bruce Sterling ]
Ian McDonald ]
Amygdala (Gary Farber) ]
Cyborg Democracy ]
Body and Soul (Jeanne d'Arc)  ]
Atrios ]
The Sideshow (Avedon Carol) ]
This Modern World (Tom Tomorrow) ]
Jesus's General ]
Mick Farren ]
Early days of a Better Nation (Ken MacLeod) ]
Respectful of Otters (Rivka) ]
Tangent Online ]
Grouse Today ]
Hacktivismo ]
Terra Nova ]
Whatever (John Scalzi) ]
Justine Larbalestier ]
Yankee Fog ]
The Law west of Ealing Broadway ]
Cough the Lot ]
The Yorkshire Ranter ]
Newshog ]
Kung Fu Monkey ]
S1ngularity ]
Pagan Prattle ]
Gwyneth Jones ]
Calpundit ]
Lenin's Tomb ]
Progressive Gold ]
Kathryn Cramer ]
Halfway down the Danube ]
Fistful of Euros ]
Orcinus ]
Shrillblog ]
Steve Gilliard ]
Frankenstein Journal (Chris Lawson) ]
The Panda's Thumb ]
Martin Wisse ]
Kuro5hin ]
Advogato ]
Talking Points Memo ]
The Register ]
Cryptome ]
Juan Cole: Informed comment ]
Global Guerillas (John Robb) ]
Shadow of the Hegemon (Demosthenes) ]
Simon Bisson's Journal ]
Max Sawicky's weblog ]
Guy Kewney's mobile campaign ]
Hitherby Dragons ]
Counterspin Central ]
MetaFilter ]
NTKnow ]
Encyclopaedia Astronautica ]
Fafblog ]
BBC News (Scotland) ]
Pravda ]
Meerkat open wire service ]
Warren Ellis ]
Brad DeLong ]
Hullabaloo (Digby) ]
Jeff Vail ]
The Whiskey Bar (Billmon) ]
Groupthink Central (Yuval Rubinstein) ]
Unmedia (Aziz Poonawalla) ]
Rebecca's Pocket (Rebecca Blood) ]

Older stuff:

June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004
September 2004
August 2004
July 2004
June 2004
May 2004
April 2004
March 2004
February 2004
January 2004
December 2003
November 2003
October 2003
September 2003
August 2003
July 2003
June 2003
May 2003
April 2003
March 2003
February 2003
January 2003
December 2002
November 2002
October 2002
September 2002
August 2002
July 2002
June 2002
May 2002
April 2002
March 2002
(I screwed the pooch in respect of the blosxom entry datestamps on March 28th, 2002, so everything before then shows up as being from the same time)

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