December 6th, 2011

Rickay with open smile

This Electric Journal

Yes, Arthur Christmas is worth seeing. ^_^ It's certainly suitable for all audiences, in the best sense - entertaining for children, whilst still offering plenty of wit and mannerisms adults can catch as well - indeed, there are some delicious smatterings of quite dark humor in places. It refrains from being treacly, but then, this is essentially an Aardman production, even if fully CGI rather than stop-motion. On a technical level, it's at least on par with Pixar, if not perhaps even a hair ahead. (Though will we see Western animation not aimed with a very young audience in mind, outside the indie circuit? Who knows? We've seen there's a tremendous amount of money to be made in continuing to meet expectations - witness Toy Story 3 - and as difficult as it is for films to see funding in the general scheme of things, it's undoubtedly more so for an animated project, where, despite the golden age of Loonie Tunes being written for adults, as supplements to films at large, perceptions have shifted (and been shifted) to animation as being something only suitable for children, despite the best efforts of independent animators worldwide, or anime houses such as Studio Ghibli or Madhouse (say, Summer Wars, or Paprika).

I've got to pimp Ice Foxx's This Electric Music again. ^_^ You can find the XML feed over here. To subscribe to TEM in iTunes, go to Advanced>Subscribe to Podcast, and paste the URL in. Episode 2 is proving to be pretty killer for getting stuck into some intense OpenCL learning and refactoring. =:D

Draw a Stickman is a great way to waste a minute or two. ^_^ (Flash required) It's not quite as passive as it might seem at first..

Watch out for a new online channel from The Royal Institution, "beta" launching before Christmas. It will, apparently, be available without geographic restrictions, and will be iPad-friendly. ("The Ri is an independent charity dedicated to connecting people with the world of science. We're about discovery, innovation, inspiration and imagination. You can explore over 200 years of history making science in our Faraday Museum as well as engage with the latest research, ideas and debates in our public science events.")

Russell T Davies has put future writing projects on hold, for now, as his partner was recently diagnosed with brain cancer, which cut short their life in LA, though Showtime and the BBC remain supportive. The interview also touches on his earlier work, including Queer as Folk, and his time with Doctor Who, and the creation of Captain Jack. '"John, God bless him. What have I done? I've created a monster," he laughs. "I always say though, if I ever accidentally murder someone and need to get out of the country fast, he's the man I'd phone. He'd do it. He'd wrap me up in a carpet and smuggle me out of the country in the back of a van. He's a lovely man. People don't realise how kind he is."'

Honest Publishing recently ran an interview with Alan Moore (Watchmen, Halo Jones, et al), which is well worth a read. In the second part, he responds to Frank Miller's diatribe against Occupy, and offers his own thoughts on the problems they call attention to.

avon_deer noticed yet another example of why I'll never have anything to do with PayPal - this time, a Secret Santa operation to buy children presents for Christmas. But, after a long slog through PayPal's bureaucracy, because they used the "donate" rather than "buy" button, as they're not a registered charity/non-profit, they'll have to return each $2 donation. And best of all? PayPal gets to keep the processing fee anyway. Please, consider alternatives, whether you're accepting payments for commissions, or offering a comic tipjar - Flattr is ideal for the latter, and depending on your needs, something like NoChex, Amazon Payments, Square, Moneybookers, LiqPay, WePay, or others may be suitable. (Might be worth some further investigation in coming weeks - any experiences you've had with PayPal alternatives, especially spanning more than one country, would be good to hear)

Mind, I'll at least give them that they're consistent. Here's a follow-up, with some actual conversation excerpts, in which Regretsy is told they can help cats (a worthy cause), but not children (charity), and more mind-contorting corporate logic Catbert would be proud of.

The recent Russian website attacks made the news, in this AFP newswire article, noting several popular sites were targeted in the run-up to the election.

City of London Police have determined that Occupy is an extremist/terrorist threat. Meanwhile, under a 1997 law, the "1033 Program" hands out military equipment to US police - over $500m worth in 2011 alone. The punchline? "1033 was passed by Congress in 1997 to help law-enforcement fight terrorism and drugs, but despite a 40-year low in violent crime, police are snapping up hardware like never before. While this year's staggering take topped the charts, next year's orders are up 400 percent over the same period."

"Only 17 per cent of [HM Revenue & Customs] staff have confidence in the decisions made by senior managers", notes one site reporting that a group, fittingly titled Dissent, has been formed internally, aimed at assisting whistleblowers. It appears to've come about "after it emerged the country's top tax official signed off a deal which let investment bank Goldman Sachs off a £10 million tax bill." (Meanwhile, small businesses are being pursued harder than ever, to the extent of assets being seized, preventing normal operations) Though even that pales against the UK branches of UBS and Deutsche Bank uniting to fight a £200m unpaid tax bill in a tribunal next February, stemming from channeling millions in "bonuses" through a Cayman Islands entity, winding that up, and distributing the proceeds via Jersey.
"All nationalists have the power of not seeing resemblances between similar sets of facts. A British Tory will defend self-determination in Europe and oppose it in India with no feeling of inconsistency. Actions are held to be good or bad, not on their own merits, but according to who does them, and there is almost no kind of outrage — torture, the use of hostages, forced labour, mass deportations, imprisonment without trial, forgery, assassination, the bombing of civilians — which does not change its moral colour when it is committed by 'our' side. The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."

-- George Orwell, Notes on Nationalism