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Topics - Ghost Spaghetti

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Arts & Entertainment / Live Performances
« on: December 13, 2016, 09:36:14 AM »
This is a thread  along the line of 'Now Watching' or 'Now Playing' for plays, gigs, ballets, operas, etc.

Last night I went to see Chicago at the Birmingham Alexandra Theatre. As most people probably know, it's as much a cabaret act as a straight musical and in that regard it mostly works. The live music was great and the set dressing was Spartan but effective.

That said, a couple of songs hang around long after they've made their point ('Mr Celophane' jumps to mind), and the finale was a pretty lacklustre affair with Roxie and Velma doing an uninspired dance routine alone on stage.

I'd rate it either a high 3/5 or a low 4/5.

Technology & Information / Replacing a motherboard
« on: December 09, 2016, 02:17:59 PM »
So, the motherboard of my current PC crapped out on me and I'm considering the options of either attempting to replace it or just giving up and buying a wholly new one.

I don't have a lot (read any) experience in undertaking hardware replacements or upgrades, so my question is, is this something I should attempt and risk throwing a motherboard's worth of cash away, or is it a relatively easy process that any monkey who can work a screwdriver should be able to complete?.

Arts & Entertainment / Star Wars ep 7 (with spoilers)
« on: December 19, 2015, 12:02:28 AM »
Now that a few people have seen this,  I thought we should have a place to talk about it without worrying about spoiling it for others.

Overall, I thought it was typical JJ Abrahms - thoroughly enjoyable if you don't spend too long thinking about it. It was also typical that to him 'homage' apparently means 'rip off'. If you're feeling charitable then he took the spirit of the original and updated it for a new audience; if not, he tried to re make ep4. Still, it was a solid piece of filmmaking which was really fun to watch.

The biggest problem I had was that I didn't understand the stakes because the sides weren't explained properly. At first I thought that The First Order had simply picked up the Empire's reins, then a Republic is mentioned which is apparently different from both the Resistance and GO, whilst secretly supporting the former's guerilla war. So, is the Galaxy now like Korea with the Republic and FO in control of different parts at an uneasy peace?

If so, surely the FO's Death Star ripoff would re-ignite a shooting war?  Surely a galaxy-spanning Republic wouldn't have their entire fleet sat in one star system? Why didn't they throw their support fully behind the Resistance? I feel that these were plot holes which would have been easily fixed with a few lines of dialogue and maybe a map of the state of the Galaxy somewhere near the beginning.

I had other issues, if course. How did Rei go from not knowing how to fly the Falcon to threading it through a downed star destroyer in seconds? How did Finn suddenly know how to fight with a light-sabre? What was the point of Capt Phasma?

Suggestions & Concerns / is dying
« on: October 21, 2015, 09:10:48 AM »
I've noticed that the amount of posts per day has been going down for some time recently, but I hadn't realised just how much of a decline it has been. From about 5,000 posts a month in January '14, we're now down to about 1,500/month. This isn't a case of quality over quantity, either, the vast majority of those posts are in Complete Nonsense.

Following a linear trend, we'll be down to 0 posts a month by about January 17, but I predict that we'll be effectively gone long before that as posts beget posts and the fewer we have, the fewer replies in a self-defeating feedback loop.

Daniel's site is also in decline, but it's doing healthier than I don't know whether merging the sites would save either, but doing nothing looks like forum suicide.

So Canada gone done got itself a new Prime Minister in the form of Justin Trudeau, unseating Stephen Harper after nine years. I'd like to take this opportunity to congratulate our fellow Commonwealthiers for getting rid of that Right-wing blotch on the political landscape.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Party Membership
« on: June 19, 2015, 08:27:11 AM »
Long-term members probably already know that I'm a member of the Green Party of England and Wales and wear my political leanings very much on my sleeve. With political party membership at an all-time low across the Western world, I wonder how many other card-carrying weirdos there are out there. Whether you're a Democrat, Conservative, Pirate, Libertarian, or Monster Raving Loony, tell us who you'd go door-knocking for and what inspired you to join them.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Birmingham Flag
« on: May 29, 2015, 08:34:16 AM »
So, my hometown wants a new flag to replace the banner of arms which currently represents us. The six finalists are all ugly. Why don't you decide which is the least ugly?


The design is inspired by important Industrial Revolution invention of the sun and planet gear system invented by William Murdock for Boulton & Watt. A large golden cog issues from the base of the flag, with spokes like sunbeams representing sunrise and the dawn of the industrial era. A smaller white cog above this continues the allusion to the gear system, the white colour representing the moon which in turn recalls the Lunar Society of leading national industrial and scientific figures of the industrial revolution that met in the city. The blue and red colours are drawn from the heraldic colours of the de Birmingham family and city council, here they also complete the imagery of a sunrise. Furthermore yellow represents the movement of the wheel of industry, red the heat of manufacturing and blue for the canals.


Issuing from the hoist is a blue steel pen nib for which Birmingham was the centre of world manufacture in the Jewellery Quarter and the precision industries of the city. The lines at its base also recalling the tyre and automotive industrial heritage of the city. The straight red line that the nib draws denotes the man-made canal network that spans across the city carrying the lifeblood trade and industry. Together the pen and ink are an allusion to Birmingham's proud literary and arts heritage. The colour scheme drawn from the heraldic colours of the de Birmingham family and city council.


From the hoist issue two triangles, which together act as an abstract representation of the letter B, recalling the name of the city. This is bordered by a golden zig-zag shape, similarly forming an abstract vertical letter M. This symbolises the Roman letter for 1000 and in turn Birmingham's sobriquet as 'the City of a thousand trades'. The overall arrangement of the zig-zag and colours serves to represent the historic arms of the de Birmingham family and current city council. In the centre of the design is charged a golden bull's head for the Bull Ring market which stands at the geographic, economic and historic heart of the city.


The over-layered golden cross and saltire reflect the city's central position, links and reach within the nation and how its rise powered the rise of the country. The crosses are bordered by the alternating red and blue of the historic arms of the de Birmingham family and current city council, whilst the golden call recalls the ancient Kingdom of Mercia and Birmingham's subsequent role as the modern capital of the Midlands. Being akin to a style of international military ensigns and jacks the design also reflects the city's links with the armed forces, including the notable production of Spitfires.


The vertical blue and white stripes represent the canal network of the city. The red chevron serves as an arrow pointing forward, which is customarily towards the hoist in vexillography, to mirror the civic motto of Birmingham as well as its tradition as a leading centre for scientific, industrial, cultural and economic progress. It can also be interpreted as an abstract heart to denote the city’s position in the nation as well as abstract lock gates to further the canal symbolism. Together the vertical stripes and the hoist-ward chevron act as an abstract representation of the '1K' Birmingham's sobriquet as 'the City of a thousand trades'.


The series of checks running as a ribbon through the design serves to represent the different communities that come together as the fabric of the city. Upon each is placed an anchor which is the symbol of the Jewellery Quarter. This represents the wealth and quality the city is known for which is mirrored in the golden background to the design. The blue and red colours are drawn from the heraldic colours of the de Birmingham family and city council.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / Groundhog Day Crime
« on: January 26, 2015, 02:04:40 PM »
Let's assume that you can start and end a 'Groundhog Day'-style time loop whenever you want so that anything you do in the loop will be undone once the loop ends. let's further assume that you use this superpowre to commit various crimes and felonies, from murder to rape, from speeding to acts of terrorism.

If somebody finds out what you've been doing in the time-loop, should you be arrested and serve time?

Alternatively, if you're in a relationship and you use the time-loop to have sex with other people, would that count as cheating and is your partner justified in leaving you if they find out?

Suggestions & Concerns / How does one 'ignore' someone?
« on: January 22, 2014, 05:15:57 PM »
In before "Don't read their posts lol!!"

Arts & Entertainment / The Chapbooks
« on: January 17, 2014, 01:52:43 PM »
This is where I'll be posting a series of short stories set in the same universe as The Book to celebrate this new FES. Opinions and criticism are welcome, but please do it here.


In the Eye of the Beholder

The Tate gallery, how Elaine Cornwall had dreamed of seeing her work proudly displayed from these hallowed walls when she started learning her craft all those years ago. Now she watched, drunk more from the pride than the complimentary champagne, as the cream of the British art scene swarmed in front of a piece bearing the name of her pseudonym, Tintagel. The exhibition was a celebration of British digital artists, usually the butt of sneering dismissal from the mainstream contemporary art world, and the way in which the virtual and real worlds revolved around one another. Damien Hirst’s piece, The Absurdity of Death in an Endless Place, was the true centrepiece of the exhibition, but her own work was leaving its own not insignificant impact.

Making the Dream was a collection of photographs from the space race, Alexey Leonov’s first space walk, the meeting of the Gemini spacecraft, the Apollo thirteen disaster, each subtly retouched to add in little props to suggest that the pictures were faked – wires to create the illusion of freefall, the shadows of microphone booms, a helmet not entirely closed, scuffs on the ‘soundstage’ walls, none of them noticeable at first glance but turning into a ‘spot the difference’ game for the attentive viewer. Elaine watched with a wry smile as esteemed critics of the art world tried to hide their delight at spotting a new inconsistency.

One viewer stood scrutinising her piece far longer than any of the others, standing four feet from the canvas with his hands folded behind his back as carefully and as crease-free as the rest of his coal-black suit. Eventually, his unwavering and clinical evaluation of her pictures began to unsettle Elaine. She was used to eccentrics within the art community and sometimes the collectors could be worse than the oddball artists who made money from their public image. Eventually curiosity got the better of her and Elaine crept around the side of the mystery man and tried to be subtle in trying to read the stranger’s name badge.

“You could just ask.” He said, making the young artist jump. She stammered and tried to apologise for intruding on him. He smiled and handed her the ID card from around his neck.

“It’s blank.” She said, turning the laminated card over in her hands. Her eyes flicked around for security, this blank man was beginning to seriously creep her out.

“Perhaps you call for security you should ask yourself three questions: Firstly, who would pay to come into a private exhibition like this with no identification? Secondly, how much would paying for anonymity cost? And finally, what interest would somebody with that much money have with your art?” He said, taking the blank piece of plastic back from her unmoving hands. She stood mute for a moment before the primal call of ‘money’ hit her like a thunderclap, mystery man or not, if he was interested in buying, Tintagel was interested in selling. “Ah, that’s better. These pictures fascinate me, ‘Tintagel.’ In this picture, for instance, the reflection of the lighting rig and the shadow of a studio hand are interesting photoshop features, but I have a feeling that the wires holding comrade Leonov up aren’t the result of such crude photo manipulation. Am I right?”

Elaine blanched, what did this blank man in an immaculate Italian suit, this, this… ‘Blanko’ know about her work?  His dark eyes bored into hers and Elaine found herself wanting to jam her eyes shut to stop him scrutinising her as much as her pictures.

“It isn’t photoshop, I use a combination of image altering software including…” Blanko held his hand up and cut her off mid-ramble.

“The wires were already there, you just used photosh—a range of image-altering software to bring them out.”

Elaine frowned, was this man rally trying to suggest that couple of scratches on a sixty-year-old photograph were really wires from a studio? She felt the tightness in her shoulders release as she realised that the man was clearly a nut, he’d probably swiped a blank pass off the security desk when he snuck in. Since she didn’t seem to be in any immediate danger, she decided to play along.

“Oh yes, that was the inspiration for the piece, to be honest, to see whether anybody would be able to tell the ‘real’ anomalies from the fakes. Congratulations.” She said with an oh-so sincere smile.

“Don’t patronise me, Miss Cornwall. I know that you don’t believe that you’ve found anything genuinely unusual – nevertheless, you have a good eye, and my employers are interested in offering you a job”

“I have a job.” She said, raising her chin, “I’m an artist and in case you hadn’t noticed, a fairly successful one.”

“Please.” The Blanko drawled, “The only reason you’re getting any attention is because the gallery has been sponsored by a profligate IT company with delusions of artistic adequacy. Ordinarily, you make barely enough selling prints and reproduction rights to maintain a studio flat on the outskirts of London which is used as a cash cow by an uncaring landlord.  To even get the flat in the first place you described your career as a ‘web designer’ and forged references from a fictional development company. This is the most important exhibition of your life and yet you’re attending it in scuffed shoes, cheap nylon tights which you’re hoping nobody can see the ladders of and a dress which is the victim of an end-of-season sale.”

Elaine stammered defensively, trying to come up with something slightly less lame than ‘I’ve only worn the shoes twice.’ When no deadly witticism was forthcoming, Blanko resumed:

“I’m in a position to offer you a job making sure that people as clever as you are don’t spot… anomalies in our images and videos, a ‘continuity consultant’ if you will. In exchange for signing a secrecy agreement and working at one of our offices when required, we are prepared to offer you an annual stipend of two hundred and fifty thousand, plus any necessary expenses.”

“T-two hundred and fifty… Who are you? Hollywood?” She gibbered, her mind reeling from the offer.

“Hollywood takes real events and makes them fiction. Our job is to take fiction and make it reality.” Blanko reached into his jacket pocket and retrieved a business card, blank apart from a phone number in tiny silver writing. “One offer, one chance. When you’ve thought it over, give us a call.”

Tintagel stared at the silver numbers, sure that if she looked away they’d disappear. When she looked up again, Blanko had.

Philosophy, Religion & Society / The Taiwanese are weird.
« on: January 01, 2014, 08:34:34 PM »

Seriously, THREE giant rubber ducks?

Arts & Entertainment / The Chapbooks - Opinions Page
« on: January 01, 2014, 02:43:16 PM »
I have an idea in mind for a couple of short stories set in the same world as The Book to commemorate a new website and a new generation of posters who've made the forum their own since The Book was finished back in '08.

Watch this space.

Suggestions & Concerns / Saddam's Troll concerns
« on: December 05, 2013, 12:04:20 PM »
Although the thread on .org turned into a quagmire, I wondered whether TFES admins had decided what their policy would be regarding trolls? I know that in my introductory thread it was implied that so long as they don't do anything grossly in violation of The One Rule they'll stay, but I don't think it's unreasonable to demand that persistent thread-derailers and trolls keep their clown acts to AR and CN.

So far, the only real offender is EJ, but if the likes of Healthy Earth or Nimp arrived to carry on their tedious campaign, would we have any policy in place to stop them from turning tfes into .org?

I'm putting this here so it's nice and official, and people can join in without having to wade through the crap in AR.

I would like to suggest that the mods reconsider the laissez-faire approach to trolling that they seem to have recently adopted.  It's not working.  In theory, it's a great idea, sure.  Just let the marketplace of ideas ensure that we maintain quality content in the forum!  The trolls go away frustrated when we refuse to bite, we're a stronger forum for it, etc.  But that's not what's happening.  Instead, the trolls are being replied to, being encouraged, being given exactly the replies they're looking for, and are continuing to spread their garbage all over the forum, ruining it for everyone.

In short, this community cannot be trusted to keep this forum from turning into little more than a joke.  We need guidance.  We need babysitting.  We need an adult to come in and turn off the hot stove that we keep touching.  Yes, it's immature and pathetic, but it's clearly the reality, and there's no point in ignoring it until this forum has been reduced to "i amm teh tipicul falt earter, sory abut my smelling" and "If evolution is real, why are there still rocks?"

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