OK. Here’s a nerdish idea to encourage English/Drama students to enjoy English. Don’t know how it’ll work.

Imagine a role-playing game. Swords and sorcery, sci-fi like Paranoia, whatever. Doesn’t really matter. Now take away all the crap that makes it boring and nerdy: the dice, the character sheets, the maps. The Game Master makes it all up as they go along (or not, they can prep if they want to). Players need nothing.

The fun bit: characters in the game can accomplish things by extending their vocabulary and expressive power. You can’t just say “my fighter attacks the goblin”, you have to speak as the character and defeat opponents with your wordsmithery.

So goblins are easy, yeah? One might say “arg, you die now!” and to successfully knock them off your character could say: “defiled vermin, may thine guts be curdled with foul malice” and the poor outclassed little thing will drop dead. As enemies get tougher, the exchanges get longer and more complex. Vampires quote from Mary Shelley, and the ultimate enemy is probably a lawyer. Or Tolstoi.

Could work nicely for poetry students too; maybe you have to speak in rhyme? Thoughts?

If you’ve missed the recent MSBlast outbreak, check this for some background: Wired News: Geeks Grapple With Virus Invasion.

Microsoft says “apply our patches” and of course most people don’t. Some of those who do have been burned in the past, details above.

All OSes will have security problems to some degree, but MS have a poor record and a huge installed base in which to spread viruses. With Blaster, it’s no longer just email that’s the entry point. Plus, as long as department and school heads chase a PC monoculture in the name of consistency and ease-of-support, this is going to continue to happen.

Say the net’s a forest: if we’re chopping down all the interesting trees to make way for fast-growing pines, there are going to be problems. Disease, lack of change, no animal life, and eventually the ground will become devoid of nutrients. (Um, I think I lost that thread a bit.)

And at some point, with some future security leak, the first virus out is going to be a destructive one, and millions of people will lose all their photos, music and writing.

Easily avoided if you don’t join the herd: don’t use MS Word, don’t use Windows, and you will never get a virus. Not an option for everyone, but it’s worth thinking about for a home system. Dammit, I just want to say Get a Mac without being a crazy zealot. Did I do OK?

This isn’t really blogworthy, because it came from Daypop, and so you’ve probably seen this before-and-after-retouching site already. But it’s interesting for me, because I used to do it. Six months ago or so, I used to retouch models on [a major UK company]’s underwear packaging. Let’s just say that none of them have perfect skin, nobody is free from wrinkles, and everyone has hair on their arms. Cleavage is just a little shadow.

Once you’ve done this, you never, ever trust any image you ever see anywhere — they are all forgeries. Be happy in your body image!

We know one of the contestants in The Mole in Australia! Stacey is a friend of my wifey Nic’s, and she’s lovely. Could she be the one? We don’t know, and wouldn’t tell you if we did. Nor do we get to watch it, being thousands of miles away from dreadful Australian commercial TV. That’s one thing we’re not anticipating happily.

SBS and Triple J, though, are almost worth moving continents for. If only you could get the BBC in Australia.

Plus-Tech Squeeze Box! A fab band just featured on the last episode of Adam and Joe Go Tokyo, a fabulous show that needs to be repeated, and which needs another season. BBC Three is a Good Thing.

So, here in the UK, the third-to-last episode of 24 just aired on BBC Three. (Note to Mike Myers/Austin Powers fans – yes, there are four BBC TV mainstream channels now, two on free digital services. Other channels are kids and news, so yeah, you could claim BBC Heaven if you wanted to.)

Anyway, 24 plays a week early on BBC Three, 10.45pm on Sunday nights, straight after the previous week’s episode on BBC Two @ 10. (No ads, no logos, digital widescreen feed, lovely.) After BBC Three’s 24 showing, there’s another show, Pure 24, just to discuss the episode that’s just aired. They have exclusive interviews, snippets of the upcoming week, and talk with the guests and studio audience. Viewers ring or email their opinions in. Fun for obsessives, and followed by the excellent Adam and Joe Go Tokyo.

So what’s this got to do with me? Well, they read out something I emailed in. Which is nice. Spoilers, so select the following text to read it:

When Jack talked Kim through killing the abusive murderer, she truly became Daddy’s little girl. Fantastic.

It was a tense, breathtaking moment in 24, and though I’m very much against guns, murder or the death penalty in real life, we know this guy is extremely nasty, it’s self-defence, and most crucially, it’s fiction set in America. So woo-hoo! Bad man go bye-bye!

Can’t wait for the finale.

Must… blog… too… much… Harry Potter…

Yeah, I know, they’re supposed to be kids books, and the first two in the series pretty much are. But 3/4/5 are fun, engaging fantasy reads. Page-turners without being crap bestselling paperbacks. Well written SF/Fantasy can be pretty addictive, and when I was a kid I used to go through a lot of books. One week over summer holiday saw the first and second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant devoured. And this last week reminds me of those long-gone happy days.

Lord of the Rings one more time? Not for a while. Just yet.

Video game censorship in Australia? Yes. Film censorship in Australia? Yep, been going on for years. This latest episode is over a Ken Park film. Go for it Margaret P.!

Actually, the UK has historically been even worse; nunchakus — two wooden rods connected by a metal chain — were banned outright in film and tv until the 1990s in the UK. Only in 2001(!) has Enter the Dragon been released uncut here. Follow this page at Melon Farmers and find for “nunchaku” for more detail.