fredag den 30. januar 2009

Elite



Apropos computer games, Elite is the game that got me interested - or should that be hooked? - in this recreation.

Even today, a full two and a bit decades on, people's eyes get a glint and they make a big smile at the mention of it and the Commodore 64. (And the number of people who curse that they no longer have their C64 is funny!)

You cannot have anything but respect for a game where the docking computer plays the Blue Danube as you approach a space station.

Thief - The Dark Project



I came across a Thief - The Dark Project walkthrough on YouTube recently.

It inspired me to dust off the CD I have of the game and play again! The good thing is I have forgotten most of the twelve levels, so this is like playing the game anew. Thief is definately one of my favourite PC games.

The basic plot is you are the character Garrett, a master thief and something of an expert in concealing himself when he doesn't wish to be noticed. His world is a curious mixture of medieval lords and soldiers, whom possess some modern technology, as well as zombies, ghosts and the religious order of the Hammers, on their guard against an evil figure called the Trickster.

Being a thief, Garrett has no friends and lots of enemies all too willing to kill him if they spot him. The hard setting makes the levels not only more difficult and complex but also doesn't allow him to kill anyone human (or else the mission for that level is failed); so this isn't a first person "shooter" game like Doom. In fact, he is only armed with a blackjack, sword and arrows. It is the Daddy of the sneak and peek, stealth, adventure game.

It is an exciting game which simply has to be played in the dark, wearing headphones. Sure, that can leave one with a nervous twitch under one's eye - you have to take extreme care not to give away your presence to the guards, and the sounds and snippets of music add to the intense, creepy atmosphere. "Return to the Haunted Cathedral" is more or less regarded by Thief fans as the scariest level of the entire game and really not for the faint hearted.

Well worth playing.

The Thief fansite.

torsdag den 29. januar 2009

Planet of the Dead



The slightly shallow types in the Dr.Who community (which includes me!) are thrilled with the news that Michelle Ryan - "EastEnders", "the Bionic Woman" - is going to be in the next special. She is cute. Whether she'll have a dress on like her noteworthy black number is another matter.

Ryan joins a long list of ladies who have travelled with the Doctor; what has changed is their characterisation: they are no longer reduced to screaming and being (completely) helpless.

And some more eye candy! Victoria (Deborah Watling); Peri (Nicola Bryant - and the famous bikini scene from the story "Planet of Fire").

onsdag den 28. januar 2009

Lenin on State Capitalism

Some present, mainstream Histories of Soviet Russia will tell you that 1917 was a socialist revolution and that the Bolsheviks, led by Lenin, established a Communist system.

It is a Mickey Mouse account for sure.

The Socialist Party has, throughout its history (and it was around in 1917, don't forget) denied that claim. In fact, we need only refer to Lenin's writings.

One of my fellow SPGB members came across this obscure letter (from 1922) in Lenin's collected works:


The fighting role of the P.C.J. is equally important in the sphere of NEP, and here the P.C.J.’s weakness and apathy is even more outrageous. There is no evidence of any understanding of the fact that we recognise and will continue to recognise only state capitalism, and it is we — we conscious workers, we Communists — who are the state. That is why we should brand as good-for-nothing Communists those who have failed to understand their task of restricting, curbing, checking and catching red-handed and inflicting exemplary chastisement on any kind of capitalism that goes beyond the framework of state capitalism in our meaning of the concept and tasks of the state.



(the full text is here; the italics are Lenin's.)

Lenin saw State Capitalism, under the political control of the Bolsheviks, as a step towards socialism/communism. This we (the SPGB) deny, of course.

lørdag den 24. januar 2009

Come on You Gills!

Gillingham's spirited loss in the FA Cup versus Villa seems to have kick started the team. After a so-so patch of draws and losses, the Gills notched up their third win in a row today, at home versus Exeter. That has moved the Gills into fourth spot in League Two.

Do They Mean Us?

Darren "the Ingrate" posted a number of entries on his blog dealing with how others have viewed (and sneered) at the SPGB - apropos the entry on RTP yesterday.

Meet the Russian Capitalists

Roman Abramovitch is the main man behind Chelsea Football Club. In more recent news, the London Evening Standard has been bought by Alexander Lebedev.

No doubt, these two men will be cheered on as examples of capitalism working, instead of that "communist" system the Russians supposedly had from 1917-91.

The truth is Soviet Russia had a capitalist class. All that happened was a change in the way they rob the workers.

Post communist society also is characterized by a wide disparity in wealth and privilege. Although there is no rigid class structure, social stratification based on wealth is evident and growing. The nomenklatura as it existed in Soviet times disappeared with the demise of the CPSU, but many of its members used their continuing connections with industry and finance to enrich themselves in the emerging capitalist system. According to a 1995 study conducted by the Russian Academy of Sciences, more than 60 percent of Russia's wealthiest millionaires, and 75 percent of the new political elite, are former members of the communist nomenklatura , and 38 percent of Russia's business people held economic positions in the CPSU. The wealth of the new capitalists, who constitute 1 to 2 percent of the population, derives from the ownership of private property, which was prohibited under the communist regime; from former black-market transactions that now are pursued legally; and from repatriation of funds that were secretly transferred abroad during the Soviet era.


The above quote is from Country Studies, which was produced "by the Federal Research Division of the Library of Congress as part of the Country Studies/Area Handbook Series sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Army between 1986 and 1998."

mandag den 19. januar 2009

Tony Hart (1925-2009)



I am one of those kids who grew up loving art because of Tony Hart and Morph. I never got any pictures in the Art Gallery on his show, but not for the lack of trying!

Superbowl

So the finalists for this season's Superbowl have been decided: the Steelers will play the Arizona Cardinals.

My money is on the Steelers to win!

It's been great fun learning the rules of NFL football and following the games on Danish TV. It's a bit saddening that the season is drawing to a close now, just when I was really beginning to appreciate football. I cannot wait for the next season to start!

lørdag den 10. januar 2009

If you are in Glasgow this January


Public Debate:


DID TROTSKY POINT THE WAY TO SOCIALISM ?

Yes: Hillel Ticktin,Editor of Critique.
No: Adam Buick, The Socialist Party.

Saturday 24 January, 3pm to 5pm. Hillhead Public Library, Byres Road, Glasgow. (next to Hillhead subway)

(NB: Socialist Party meetings are open to all, free admission.)

the Ian Bone (Class War) and SPGB forum

fredag den 9. januar 2009

This is a hotel, not a borstal

I couldn't help but chuckle at this article in the Independent.

The title line is from an episode of the hilarious Fawlty Towers. I used to work at a four star hotel (which shall remain nameless) and the series simply became funnier for the experience. My work mates and I would quote Basil at each other. "Have you seen the people in room 6?" or our favourite: "A satisfied customer - we should have him stuffed."

Some people really think they have licence to be abusive to hotel staff. Alas, you have to smile and be courteous even though you want to launch into a Basil tirade: "You ponce in here, expecting to be waited on hand and foot! Well I'm trying to run a hotel here! Well no more! I've had it! After fifteen years, I'm off! And let me tell you something: this is EXACTLY how Nazi Germany started! Too many people with nothing to do, running around, poking their noses in where they're not wanted..."

Sadly, we didn't have any Germans stay when I worked there.

Not surprisingly, I have the episodes on DVD.

mandag den 5. januar 2009

Reaction to the Cup Game

"Birthday boy James Milner grabbed both goals as Aston Villa reached the fourth round of the FA Cup for only the second time in eight seasons - but they were given a scare by Gillingham."
Birmingham Mail

"...the League Two club, who were without several first-choice players, did themselves great credit."
David Pleat

Stimson was disappointed with the defeat but praised his players after they took the fourth placed Premier League side all the way.

“They went out against a very strong Aston Villa side and gave a good account of themselves,” he said.

“I was disappointed with the result but the performance was encouraging.”

Kent Messenger

søndag den 4. januar 2009

Proud of the Gills!

Gillingham 1 Aston Villa 2

The Gills did ever so well. They made Villa look average and not like a team several leagues above them. A dubious penalty decision settled the tie for the Villains.

My champagne moment of the match was the Gills Jackson against Villa Knight; talk about the Little and Large show. Jackson must be a full foot shorter than Knight, most players tug on shirts and not shorts, but the size disparity helped him round the defender for the equaliser.

It wasn't to be, but by gawd am I proud of the Gills for their performance and the huge vocal support Priestfield gave the team.

Engelbert Humperdinck - "The Last Waltz"
; the Gills club song!

lørdag den 3. januar 2009

Woohooo!

I just discovered that we have a new (Danish) channel and they will be televising the Gills - Villa game! Guess who is a happy bunny.

Stimson had this to say:

Gillingham manager Mark Stimson will be warning his players about the perils of facing one of the country’s top teams on Sunday.

Stimson knows if the Gills freeze they could be in for an FA Cup hiding against Aston Villa.

He said: “If Villa play to their potential we could be looking at a seven or 8-0 quite easily because you’re talking about top international players.

“Will they all play? Will they all click at the same time? Hopefully they don’t and we do and if that’s the case we could surprise a few people.

"They’ve got a young team and a fantastic manager and someone I have a lot of time for. He started where I did and that’s what I’m looking to do one day.”

(Kent Messenger)

The best run the Gills ever had in the Cup was when they reached the sixth round (they lost 5-0 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge).

fredag den 2. januar 2009

One for the Diary

The Gills have a great tie ahead in the FA Cup: Aston Villa at Priestfield. (The match is on this early Sunday afternoon.)

Thankfully, I have cable so I can hear the match commentary on BBC Radio 5 live. (5 don't normally stream football matches on the internet because of contractual reasons.) How I miss watching the Gills though. The last game I saw was when they lost 4-2 to Chelsea in the Cup a few seasons ago.

Villa will be a tough proposition as they have been in good form in the premiership (unlike other ties, when the Gills got Coventry and Sheffield Wednesday's scalps).

The best FA cup memory was when the Gills gave Everton a tussle back in 83/84. Spot "the names"!