Alt.Fiction 2010

On Saturday, I went to Alt.Fiction 2010. This was the first time it’s been held in Quad and I think it worked brilliantly.

There was space for the stalls in The Box:

AltFiction 2010 - 03

This time, I resisted emptying my wallet all over the Interzone stall manned by Roy. I know what a persuasive salesman he is so I just said no. 🙂

I wandered round, taking pics and brandishing my hastily scribbled ‘Official Photographer’ pass. It came in handy as it meant I could be cheekier than I would normally be. Thank you to the organisers for letting me take pics!

The cinemas made excellent lecture theatres:

AltFiction 2010 - 12

I heard two panels and the quality of info available typified what makes Alt.Fiction such a wonderful event. The interaction between fans, authors and aspiring writers was lovely to witness and I could sense a lot of people leaving with inspiration as well as signed books.

I met loads of lovely authors and fans at AF2010, including catching up with one of my favourite ever authors, Tony Ballantyne:

AltFiction 2010 - 19

I first met Tony at Alt.Fiction 2007 and it was great to see him again, if you haven’t read any of his work, you’re in for a treat.

And, before I knew it, the day was over and I hadn’t seen half the stuff I’d promised myself I’d see. That’s always the way at Alt.Fiction. Really, we all know we’re going to miss the talks we’d made a note of and instead end up talking with friends, old and new.

Sooo… see you at Alt.Fiction 2011? 🙂

(Click any of the pics for more!)

Bzangy Groink Playlist 2/6/10

A very quiet one tonight, hence the shorter playlist!

The best new track was ‘When You Were Young’ by Discover America. Twiddly, melodic indie, if you like GBV, SHTYM or other singalong US indie, I think you should check it out.


The best old track was ‘Where’s My Money’ by TC. I had to play this as I’ve been dancing to the Caspa remix so much lately. Ahhh, makes me so happy! 🙂

This is what you heard:

By Land or Sea – Frankenstein
Miracle Condition – The Wandering Y
Flared – Coffee Break
Spit Syndicate – Kings Only
Funfun – The Trouble With Harry
Inspectah Deck – 5 Star G
Cloud Control – The Rolling Stones
The Juan MacLean – By The Time I Get To Venus
Arden – A Slow Spiral Geoffrey
Kidz In The Hall – Fresh Academy
Killamu – Tiramakossa Remix
I Call Fives – Hand Me Down Luck
The Shaky Hands – Allison and the Ancient Eyes
Dez & Nobs – James Turner Affair
Dundertåget – Här har vi allt som du behöver
Jaguar Love – Cherry Soda
last dinosaurs – Honolulu
Bon Homme – Ray Ban
Operator Please – Volcanic
Diversion Tactics – Return Of The Ladies Man
Girls Names – I Guess
Kettel – Verkens In Londen
His Statue Falls – Sooner If You Let Me
Duke Squad – We Are the Young
MC Esoteric – Waxing On Decepticon
We Have Band – Divisive
Far – Give Me A Reason
Tame Impala – Lucidity
Digital Freq – Disco Falls (Radio Mix)
K. Sparks – Good Mornin
The Dear And Departed – Did You Hear A Knock?
Belle and Sebastian – You’re Just a Baby
TC – Where’s My Money (Caspa Remix)
Anarbor – Drugstore Diet
I Am Abomination – Since 1776
Grum – power
Go Radio – When Dreaming Gets Drastic
FACT – Slip Of The Lip
Heaven Shall Burn – The Omen
Gift Horse – Missionaries
Discover America – When You Were Young<

The Oort Cloud Of Human Relationships

Oort Cloud

The Oort cloud is a huge spherical cloud of comets and dust that extends three light years from the Sun in all directions. The fact that the cloud is spherical rather than disc-shaped sets it apart from other collections of debris in the solar system, such as the asteroid and Kuiper belts. The sphere is so large that its edge is closer to our nearest star than to the sun itself. The edges of the Oort cloud generally represent the limits of the sun’s gravitational influence — comets that stray too far from the edge get lost into space and become interstellar wanderers.

The Oort cloud was first theorized in 1950 when Jan Oort observed that there were no comets with orbits that indicate they come from outside the solar system, that there is a strong tendency for comet orbits to take them out as far as 50,000 AU (50,000 times the distance between the earth and the sun), and that these comets arrive and depart randomly in all directions.

This led to the hypothesis of the Oort cloud, a cloud that cannot be directly observed with telescopes because the comets that make it up are too small and far apart. It is estimated there are about a trillion comets in the Oort cloud, with a combined mass 100 times that of the Earth. It is theorized that Oort cloud objects actually formed relatively close to the sun, closer than Neptune’s orbit, but were ejected into huge parabolic orbits when they were slungshot by the gravity wells of huge planets like Jupiter.
(Source: Wise Geek)

Picture yourself as the sun. Around you are the planets. These are your fellow wanderers through the cosmos. Their orbits may be brazenly intimate or freezingly estranged but you are entwined, nonetheless.

Farther out, beyond your most distant, least agreeable companions is the Oort Cloud of people you do not actually know. You may be at the same school, in the same workplace, walk the same pavements, at the same bus stops. But you don’t know them. If you do see them, there’s the vague recognition of having seen a face before which stops way short of ‘oh, them again!’

Then something happens to perturb that situation. The human equivalent of a passing star or molecular hydrogen cloud: maybe a random comment on a Facebook picture or a chance mention in a fanzine. But something happens.

The person who was light-years away now falls toward you. A smile becomes a ‘hello,’ a wave becomes a drunken hug on a dancefloor. You know who they are, they know who you are.

Maybe a stable orbit will form. They won’t be a planet but they could be comets, passing by every now and then. Hell, that might be more fun than some of the planets who cruise round you, grumbling and groaning. Yeah, maybe that happens. After all, who doesn’t need more comets?

Or maybe this will happen…

They fall into you. You fall into them. The heat and intensity is unbearable. You feel that you’ll both evaporate away, immolated by the fierceness, the sweetness of your trajectories. They’re closer than any planet, they’re more important than anything or anybody.


And then, they’re gone. The sharp angle of the approach made them slingshot away from you. The speed of the fall, the directness of their line into you is what now propels them away from you. If there had been less attraction, they might have stayed in a stable orbit or maybe even ended up back in the cloud of unknowns.

But you were too intimate for that. As they recede, red-shifting with the pain of the affair, you know you’ll never know them again. Texts won’t be returned, letters won’t be read, no further information can possibly bridge the sparkling, quotidian coldness between you both.

They go beyond the Oort Cloud. They’re tens of light-years away now, heading towards other attractors.

And you’re on your own again.

National Gaza Flotilla Demonstration, 5/6/10

05/06/2010 13:44
My pics from the demo, click for more!

On the 31st of May, this happened:

More than 10 people have been killed after Israeli naval commandos boarded six aid ships in a convoy heading towards the Gaza Strip.

The fleet was carrying aid to the area, which is under a naval blockade. Israeli troops were attacked with guns, knives and clubs when they boarded the ships after having given repeated warnings, the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs said.
(Source: The Guardian)

Israel claims there is no humanitarian crisis and that the ship was essentially hostile, carrying arms to Gaza. The US and UK have, of course, backed Israel to the hilt, even agreeing that Israel is the right party to investigate its own crime! Noam Chomsky has the best analysis of this:

Hijacking boats in international waters and killing passengers is, of course, a serious crime. The editors of the London Guardian are quite right to say that “If an armed group of Somali pirates had yesterday boarded six vessels on the high seas, killing at least 10 passengers and injuring many more, a Nato taskforce would today be heading for the Somali coast.” It is worth bearing in mind that the crime is nothing new.

For decades, Israel has been hijacking boats in international waters between Cyprus and Lebanon, killing or kidnapping passengers, sometimes bringing them to prisons in Israel including secret prison/torture chambers, sometimes holding them as hostages for many years.

Israel assumes that it can carry out such crimes with impunity because the US tolerates them and Europe generally follows the US lead.

Much the same is true of Israel’s pretext for its latest crime: that the Freedom Flotilla was bringing materials that could be used for bunkers for rockets. Putting aside the absurdity, if Israel were interested in stopping Hamas rockets it knows exactly how to proceed: accept Hamas offers for a cease-fire.

In June 2008, Israel and Hamas reached a cease-fire agreement. The Israeli government formally acknowledges that until Israel broke the agreeement on November 4, invading Gaza and killing half a dozen Hamas activists, Hamas did not fire a single rocket. Hamas offered to renew the cease-fire. The Israeli cabinet considered the offer and rejected it, preferring to launch its murderous and destructive Operation Cast Lead on December 27.

Evidently, there is no justification for the use of force “in self-defense” unless peaceful means have been exhausted. In this case they were not even tried, although—or perhaps because—there was every reason to suppose that they would succeed. Operation Cast Lead is therefore sheer criminal aggression, with no credible pretext, and the same is true of Israel’s current resort to force.
(Source: Common Dreams)

I don’t normally use such lengthy quotes but there is nothing I can say that is as powerful and concise as Chomsky’s destruction of Israel’s PR war.

The point is, what can we do as individuals to fight our government’s support of murder? The answer is always to protest, to get out on the streets and show the powers that be that we won’t be cowed and we won’t be silent. That’s what I did last Saturday.

The national demo in London protesting against Israel’s attack was far bigger than I had expected. Bear in mind that the organisers had only had a short time to organise it. And yet, tens of thousands of people turned out. I’d say, judging from previous demos I’ve been on, at least twenty or twenty-five thousand.

We assembled outside Downing Street, the mass antiwar movement shouting at the new British government for the first time. But not the last, sadly. In the oppressive heat, I felt heartened to look around me at my comrades that day, a mix of races, creeds, political opinions all united in one cause. I felt proud to march alongside them.

We brought London to a standstill, yet there was no coverage I could find. Some events are clearly more important to our yellow media than others. Bread and circuses, eh?

But no matter, we played our part in the international day of outrage against Israel’s warmongering. And we will be there again.

Israel, we’re watching you.