Viper Squad Ten
We're from the future. And we're stuck....
......VSX......                                                                                                              ......Been a little bit quiet lately......                                                                                                                                                                    

VSX, A shadowy flight into the dangerous world of a man who does not exist: Starbuck Powersurge - a young loner on a crusade to champion the cause of Viper Squad Ten, a long-disbanded group of stranded timetravelling troubadours, formed to help finance repairs to their time-machine. Now very much stuck in C21...

Sometimes guest editors: Mr Stu and DJ Tim.


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[ Friday, April 29, 2005 ]

Wedding update
Starbuck [17:51] Comments: 8 []
 
Well, we're nearly there. We're just the smallest increment over one week to go, and I'm still having first-time experiences - this time an enjoyable experience at the barbers.

So as to prevent them doing a slapdash shoddy job on my head I quickly blurted out something about needing to get all the greys cut out as I was getting married the next week. With that, the conversation turned to something that I was interesed in - THE WEDDING (and the Barber's wedding) - rather than the ususual shite (holidays, the weather, Cov City's final Highfield Road game, etceterarara.) Result!

Still, now that I'm the proud owner of a set of Remington Precision clippers I'll hopefully not be running the risk of awkward hairdressing conversatorial moments for a long time again (this time we didn't want to run the risk of the future Mrs Powersurge trashing my already-poor hairline with one of her "oops" moments prior to the wedding...)

So what else? Well, I'd been planning on these pages becoming a valuable guide for other people getting married, with every step chronicled in detail. That's not quite happened (I've still not even got round to doing my promised "Weddings in Warwickshire" guide - sorry, betrotheds!), hence the scarcity of my words on this or other blogs.

And the speech? Still not much further on than it was. (Those damned Chuckle Brothers keep disturbing me! [Sunday Update: As does Boulder Dash Treasure Pleasure... can't... stop.... playing]) But, as we go into a sunny public holiday weekend, I'll have a final spurt (oh behave yourself!) And since I've been looking a little fat-faced since the recent excesses that culminated in last weekend's Spain trip, maybe the stress will do me some good.

But on the whole, everything is coming together nicely. Except the things that we don't know about.

And so, friends, strangers, and people who've arrived here by accident, I may continue to be forced into relative silence over the next few days, or you may hear more from me than you would ever want, depending on how "things" go.

In the meantime, I'd advise you to click this RANDOM-WIKIPEDIA-PAGE LINK several times per hour during the daylight hours - you might just learn something, whether you wanted to or not. Knowledge is fun!

And gird your loins, people, for when I return from honeymoon, with my long-awaited* Extremely Rude-Looking Tree photographic series, as well as the much less longly-awaited decision on the Clutterbuck Computer Clutter Challenge Cup.

Cheers, then.
Starbuck

* Regardless that I'm the only one who knew about it



[ Wednesday, April 27, 2005 ]

Election ploblems
Starbuck [23:19] Comments: 2 []
 
Okay okay, so I promised on April 13 that I wasn't going to write anything more about this year's General Election.

And you lot in vapourspace are probably damned lucky that I'm much too busy with this old forthcoming wedding thang (next week! crikey!) that I'm not constantly prodding the back of your throats with my views.

However I must just put out these brief appeals on behalf of common sense (or so I - the arbiter of everything that is true and good - believe):

To the farmers of Great Britain - please take down those infernal blue hoardings advising us to vote Conservative that you are littering the countryside with. You are eliciting little sympathy for your "plight". (And as for "Farmers For Action"'s attempted re-ignition of the fuel protests - just farm off and die, you bullying (geddit?!) scumsuckers. Ahem.)

And to anyone who considers immigration to be a key issue in who they will vote for - you are either brainwashed, gullible, ignorant, misguided, racist or stupid - wise up. Or to be less harsh to any of my chums, should their abiding rules of inference - whether modus ponens or modus tollens blah blah blah - have led them to such conclusions: you are of a different opinion to me. Wise down. (Note: I no longer know what I'm going on about here).

That is all.



[ Thursday, April 21, 2005 ]

# Reasons to be cheerful... one, two three #
Starbuck [19:49] Comments: 2 []
 
  1. My girlfriend is coming home tonight after several days at a conference in Scotland. It's not been great without her - especially when I've wanted to share all the excitement associated with Reason Three, but it's nearly over. The one plus point of her absence - I've been able to leave all the electrics plugged in when I've left the house! Bliss! (She's inherited from her mother that insiduous habit shared by many due to the fear that the place will burn down if things are left plugged in...)
  2. I'm on the eve of a long weekend in Spain.
  3. The Wedding of the Century is nigh.


Advertisement: If anyone's interested in the Cristero rebellion of 1920's Mexico, get thee to Queens University Belfast where a friend of mine is organising a Conference in October. Get your tickets rápidamente - It's gonna be a goody.



[ Tuesday, April 19, 2005 ]

Three other things
Starbuck [23:59] Comments: 8 []
 
No time for any proper editorial for a while, let alone proper sentences. Instead, these:


(1) Separated at birth.

The Pope Formerly Known As Joseph Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI, and the slightly less ultra-conservative Countdown King of Dictionary Corner, Gyles Brandreth.

(Just what we need - another incredibly illiberal religious leader - sigh! Still, at least he's obviously got better fashion sense than the bumbling jumper-hugging berkoid on the right.)



(2) Raaaaagh!

That evil Saturnyne has only gone and got a bloomin' great dinosaur to trample all over my lovely webpage by way of a "wedding present".

How very disrespectful.

I've got my revenge round at netdisaster. I recommend you do too.

(3) The lovely Birdy from Doing The Right Thing fame had wondered aloud about my reading habits. Those interested (and who wouldn't be!) can read my response here. Just don't expect any great witticisms...


Cosmetic surgery live
Starbuck [23:49] Comments: 4 []
 
Not good. There's a penis enlargement operation happening on the television to my left. Bring back Vanessa Feltz. And Christ, tomorrow's looks bad - anal bleaching, vaginal lip tucks, vigorous rhinoplasty... too much television...



[ Monday, April 18, 2005 ]

Staggering
Starbuck [21:17] Comments: 2 []
 
There has been voices (singular) clamouring for pictoral evidence of Starbuck's stag weekend session. Well, suckers, your wish if my command, but I'm afraid it ain't pretty.

It all started messily, quite liderally folks rather than in a Dave Pearce-styley, as I was still feeling a little queasy from the combination of the previous night's warm-Orangeboom-fuelled journey on one of those newfangled Virgin tilty trains. The queasiness cocktail was further shaken up the next day on the District Line following several gallons of yucky Lady Grey tea, and I managed to spill my guts in both directions a third of the way through my first drink in All Bar One on the stag day "proper". Nice.

But enough exposition. On with the photos...







[ Friday, April 15, 2005 ]

Staggered
Starbuck [13:39] Comments: 3 []
 
Today is the start of my stag weekend and am feeling excitement mixed with trepidation. I am now fully prepared for the journey up to the Radio Ealing offices : four cans of Oranjeboom, a Tubigrip ankle-brace, and a funny story about the two middle-aged men I overheard in the Gents toilets today joking about "shaking it like a Polariod picture".

Further reportage may be delivered over the weekend as the situation progresses.



[ Wednesday, April 13, 2005 ]

The general election
Starbuck [23:28] Comments: 2 []
 
I'd been hoping against hope that Blair would call the election whilst I was on honeymoon, but alas, it looks like I'll have to vote. It's going to be a tricky one - I'm one of those many people who would normally want to vote Labour but who will have a massive problem voting for their "top dog" after he's dragged the party kicking and screaming after some bitch-dog in heat. (Though that's not a very nice thing to say about Maggie). I'll just have to look at the situation locally - wherever I cast my vote I can't be helping the "Other Side" in, with all that they represent for a lot of people.

Though maybe Tony's toying with the rules of democracy has been a godsend for me. Maybe I've seen the light, maybe I should just go with my convictions. And if happens to be the opposite of what "The Sun says" then I must be doing something right.

And thanks to the "Who Should You Vote For" quiz (spotted at CyberSatan, And Then He Said amongst others), my convictions have been confirmed (despite most of the reasons in the accompanying blurb below being about stuff that I answered neutrally about):
Who Should You Vote For?

Who should I vote for?

Your expected outcome:

Labour

Your actual outcome:


Labour -9
Conservative -21
Liberal Democrat 30
UK Independence Party -1
Green 12

You should vote: Liberal Democrat

The LibDems take a strong stand against tax cuts and a strong one in favour of public services: they would make long-term residential care for the elderly free across the UK, and scrap university tuition fees. They are in favour of a ban on smoking in public places, but would relax laws on cannabis. They propose to change vehicle taxation to be based on usage rather than ownership.

But don't listen to them. Make up your own bleedin' mind. That's democracy. But jsut don't believe - don't feel - what anyone wants you to. Everyone's manipulating... even me...

14 April Update: Oh, I forgot to mention, I promise that this will be my last post about the General Election until 2009. Hopefully.


A boring post about my computer
Starbuck [22:47] Comments: 2 []
 
As a respite from having a rather weighty mental load I've been downloading various freeware games in fits and starts over the last few weeks in addition to playthings of a browser-based nature.

Late last night I performed a perfunctory scan of my machine using Norton Antivirus and the little beggar came up with Adware Groove.x32 (Adware.Ezula) - a file that was beyond it's capabilities to destroy.

Now my thoughts on Symantec - the fathers of Norton - are well known (within my mind). I don't neccesarily trust them. They are the Bush administration of security companies, relying on fear, misinformation and deceipt.

However, apparently "Ezula alters Web pages viewed in Internet Explorer and can add extra links to certain keywords that advertisers target" and it "runs under the name TopText". Which is nice. Not seen any of that as yet, but then I don't even use Internet Explorer as long as I can help it.

AdAware didn't find anything, and I'm yet to download Spybot. However, "Groove.x32" looks to be involved with the Groove Alliance of 3dgroove fame, a company whose shockwave games I vaguely remember playing years and years ago. Whilst this article was in draft form I had vaguely recalled that they were reputedly purveyors of spyware-encrused web-games, but after clearing my head with a few San Miguels I've realised that's the "evil" Wild Tangent. Whichever, I've not been near either with my ten foot pole in a long long time.

And despite my masses of recent downloading, I'm the only person in the world to religiously take notice of the End User Licenses on such software, so I'd hope I'd know if something bad had weedled its way in the back of some other piggy. It's a piggin' mystery.

Whatever, it doesn't appear to be affecting my machine (unless this is actually the reason why it's so damn unstable at the moment). Which is all well and good, but its that feeling of violation that hurts. Hurts my feelings.

And as for Ezula's "Client-Side-Applications Standards and Guidelines" page on it's website, what an impressive piece of text that is - it admits in copious detail just how naughty spyware is, but informs that it's doing its "users" a favour with it, but that they always have the option to opt-in on the Terms and Conditions. THAT is something I have never done. Unless I was drunk at the time... its like clicking on that cute little Gator...

I love the way that the worst spyware offenders make the most noise about their "anti-spyware commitments". Again, its that bullish Bush-like response - make enough noise implying the opposite of what your up to, and the people will never think you could possible be so flagrant!



[ Sunday, April 10, 2005 ]

Unaccustomed as I am to writing bridesgroom speeches...
Starbuck [12:15] Comments: 4 []
 
... the "intensive" speech-writing session didn't exactly go as planned yesterday. I thought I'd seek out inspiration for a few throwaway funnies on some wedding websites. It was like I'd heard every speech several times over, all of these standard cut-and-paste sections shuffled together. I had quite a déjà vu crisis!

I guess it didn't help that I started in earnest sometime after nine o'clock last night. No, wait - "starting in Ernest" - I could use that! Heh. Hmmm.

Thanks to Saturnyne for his speechwriting help. I've worked your suggestions in - "I saw her standing across the room, beautiful like a tap, and before we knew it we were dancing like otters..."



[ Saturday, April 09, 2005 ]

My wedding's in safe hands
Starbuck [18:15] Comments: 0 []
 
There follows a photograph of the two Ushers...
(following on from an earlier Comment).



[ Friday, April 08, 2005 ]

Move along please
Starbuck [17:47] Comments: 2 []
 
Mmm, maybe that last post wasn't the most good spirited. Maybe it's not what's needed as I go into my joyful Friday evening. Maybe I'm just sick and tired of the world at large, the world on the outside of my blissful little bubble. How arrogant of me to presume that I'm right (even though I am - ha hah!). Maybe I'm just an intolerant old gimmer. And maybe you should just scroll down to last night's scrawl instead, and whilst you're there you could sort out my wedding DJ and speech dilemmas. Thank you for your time.


Catholic guilt
Starbuck [16:32] Comments: 0 []
 
As Pope John Paul II is laid to rest, let us pause amongst the hysteria to remember that, if there is a heaven, he will probably have a few explanations to make, not least to the untold millions across Africa robbed of their lives by the Catholic doctrine against contraceptives.

But what would I know. I'm one of the few who's tarnished by rationality after all.



[ Thursday, April 07, 2005 ]

Music for the hopefully-not-jilted-at-the-altar generation
Starbuck [23:20] Comments: 5 []
 
The last few hours have been spent compiling the list of music for our wedding DJ to ignore. Its a tricky thing to judge - you know what you want to hear, you know what you want to dance to, but that won't do much for your eighty-something Nan, or for your more musically-challenged friends for that matter.

So in the end you end up going for what really moves people at weddings. Joyous stuff. Stuff like Boney M "Daddy Cool". Stuff like the "Hokey Cokey". Music that must be near-perfect, because everyone loves it, even if they don't admit to it. I came up with a few goodies for my inevitable funeral as well.

I'll treat this computer session as practice in readiness for the main event this weekend - THE WRITING OF THE SPEECH! Yes, the Missus is having her Hen Night/Weekend this weekend, giving me the perfect chance to put together the most fantastic wedding speech a groom has ever given! (It'll have to be good - after the humiliation I heaped out to DJ Tim when I Best Manned for him I'm worried about getting forcefed my own medicine)

So to help with this endeavour, if my reader can propose any suitably witty paragraphs I would be most grateful. No matter if it doesn't directly relate to me - hopefully the guests'll be too drunk to notice by then...

I was thinking about asking friends and strangers for "awkward phrases" to crow-bar into the speech as an additional challenge. I'd tried this before with essays at University - I remember the pain of inserting "distant doomer" in a natural, colloquial manner. Usher Thain did the same - he'd managed to label a circuit diagram with the legend "perilous bard", only to get it circled in red by the tutor with the query "what is this?"

So if you think you're hard enough, give me some material to get to grips with.

Me, I'll probably instead be playing Stick Soldiers 2 (click HERE for the free download) - very much a first person shooter deathmatch-style deathmatch game, but side-on, and done on whitespace with vector stick figures - quite brilliant. And it shows just how crucial audio really is to the FPS genre - with the right sounds, and enough visual gibbs and frags, you realise that the third dimension is just one of the many hooks that these games sink into you.

If only there was a wedding speech simulator I could get addicted to...


An overheard snippet of conversation
Starbuck [12:58] Comments: 1 []
 
Near my workplace, a young fledgling Parkourist is being bundled into a car by his father whilst nearby a group of his fellow Traceurs ricochet off some scaffolding.

Dad: "If I ever see you... flying... like that again..."



[ Tuesday, April 05, 2005 ]

"This is why we do it"
Starbuck [22:58] Comments: 0 []
 
Article sourced from my institutional intranet. And with married bliss on my doorstep, I'm excited...
New research carried out by Applied Microeconometrics researcher Nattavudh Powdthavee reveals that a married man or woman is significantly more satisfied with their life when their partner is satisfied with theirs. However, he found almost no evidence that unmarried couples share the same bond.

The research was presented at the Royal Economic Society's Annual Conference in March. Data was analysed from 9,704 married couples and 3,300 couples who live together - collected from 1996 to 2000 and in 2002 as part of the British Household Panel Survey. The results suggests that marriage is an exchange in which two parties agree to share, not only material possessions but also experiences of good and bad times, as well as other non-material things that matter to individuals' happiness.

The research revealed that a 30% increase in the spouse's life satisfaction score from the previous year can completely offset the negative impact of unemployment on the respondent's life satisfaction. It is also significantly greater than the effect of owning one's home outright, and is equal to not having to spend around two months in hospital in the previous year.

The same test was carried out for cohabiting couples - and revealed that they did not experience the same level of shared emotions. Lead researcher Nick Powdthavee said: "It's possible that cohabiting people care more about personal autonomy and less about each other's well-being."


Vexination
Starbuck [17:50] Comments: 0 []
 
Ugh! Within the last hour I've had both arms shot full of immunogen.

It always seems too easy as the needle sinks under the skin - no pain whatsoever. Not now, as the harmless antigen spreads throughout my drugstream... that uncomfortable feeling of swelling that seems to be coming from my brainstem... that woozy, flu-like sensation knocking my mind off kilter... that dull, almost subliminal nausea rising up from the very pit of my stomach...

As the Nurse said at the surgery, you should stick to Bognor in the future. She also told me an amusing story about a gentleman bringing along a urine sample within a hot water bottle, but I'm sure many of us do that anyway for kicks...



[ Saturday, April 02, 2005 ]

Who lot
Starbuck [23:57] Comments: 2 []
 
Purple domed monsterThe second episode of the rejuvenated Doctor Who reaches terrestrial transmission, and all is well with the franchise. More than well. Those who care - those who matter - won't need me to document what has been so right about its reincarnation. Quite disheartening to hear that Christopher Eccleston will be leaving the timelord with just two unused incarnations from the next series, fearing being typecast by his success. So much for my hopes of it not being "just another job". Still, it once again gives us hope for a Bill Nighy or an Eddie Izzard Doctor. But I digress.

What prompted me to put fingers to keyboard was a nod-and-wink that writer Russell T Davies threw out to nerdoisseurs of his work. It was just a small thing (unlike Moxx of Balhoon's impressive phallicity). At various points he had the Doctor talking about the Human race (and at other times, other species) to representatives (such as Billie Piper) using the term "You lot..."

Now, despite all the signposts at the time saying this was a drama written for me, tragically I missed Davies' The Second Coming (though I'll hopefully be getting it any day now), but I know a section of its script very well from a sample on Orbital's Blue Album. And it features one Chris Ecclestone, second coming of the Son of God, berating the Human race for our ungodly woes. It always gives me the shivers. And Ecclestone was again mouthing pupper-master Davies words in exactly the same manner...
"You, are becoming Gods.
There's a new master of creation, and it's you!
You've unravelled DNA and at the same time you're cultivating bacteria strong enough to kill every living thing.

D'you think you are ready for that much power?
You lot ? You lot?!
Cheeky bastards. You're running around science like kids wi' guns, creating a new world, while the one you've got is stinking.
Go on, 'ands up, 'ands up anyone who thinks you've got it right.
Yeh, there's always one. I can see yeh.
If you want the position of god then tek the responsibili'y"


Incoming
Starbuck [23:50] Comments: 2 []
 
Could I just thank the Two Tone Records blog for catapulting VSX straight to the top of their Top Blogs chart. Forget the Bloggies, its the only chart that counts, dontchaknow!



[ Friday, April 01, 2005 ]

Google Gulp
Starbuck [16:17] Comments: 3 []
 
I've endured some piss-poor April Fool's jokes today, but THIS ONE from Google is actually rather good.



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