Merry Christmas 2018!

Good afternoon everyone,

Here’s wishing you all a very merry Christmas. I’m afraid there isn’t going to be a pre-recorded Christmas message from me this year, because I simply don’t trust myself not to go into a rant about the farce that is Westminster at the moment, and to do so would be prejudicial to my keeping my job.

So instead, I’ll wish you all a very merry Christmas, and leave you with the hope that 2019 will be better.

I also never got around to writing anything about this year’s great American road trip, but I did produce a vlog while I was out there, so here it is for anyone who didn’t see it!

In other news, now that Tom (Azüll of The PodQuest) is back from his sojourn in the United States, hopefully we can bring you something new this year… watch this space!

With season’s greetings,

Ben

Advertisements

Twitter is a strange place these days.

I came back to twitter this week after avoiding it for a while, and I think it may have been a poorly timed return given events in the UK to do with that thing which shall not be named. But after observing a week of highly frayed public discourse I feel like this needs to be said:

In the interests of general discourse in the world, allow me to offer this small opinion. It may be a worthless one but seeing things going on as they are is intensely infuriating to me. Politics touches every part of our lives, so the least we can do is be civil about it.

If you think anyone who disagrees with your pet political position is a “traitor”, a “quisling” or an “enemy of the people”, you are part of the problem with political discourse, not the solution. Similarly if you minimise the legitimate concerns of others about your pet political position, you are also part of the problem, not the solution.

For example, as a monarchist, a strict, specific reading of the definition of “traitor” would allow me to apply that word freely to republicans here in Britain, but I do not, because I’m fairly sure thought is not a crime, and someone holding an opposing view doesn’t scare me, provided they don’t act on it violently. Similarly, there are legitimate concerns and objections to monarchy, even the constitutional kind for which I advocate, and as a monarchist it is my duty to listen to those concerns and take heed of them, both to allow me to educate and discuss counterpoints, and to help me better refine my own ideas.

The thing I’ve noticed this week (even from myself at times) is that there are highly intelligent people out there who fall into these twin traps constantly.

Not everyone who disagrees with you is a bad guy, not everyone who agrees with you is a good guy. Treating them as such doesn’t condemn the former and excuse the latter, but it does demean you, and it has cheapened our political discourse to the point we are at now.

This having been said, I am not saying there are not political positions that deserve to be dismissed out of hand – Godwins Law exists for a reason after all. Just maybe think, and talk to your interlocutor before flying off the proverbial handle. Ideas live and die by debate, but debate the idea, don’t berate the human.

OK, rant (plea?) over, have a nice day everybody.

I’m Spreadin’ the News… I’m Leavin’ Today…

“I’m going on an adventure!” said the young man to the drinks machine while it dispensed his necessary morning bottle of caffienated sugar syrup.

“Whirrr….Bzzzzzt…..Clatter… Clank” said the drinks machine, spitting out the beverage in question and wondering, in the non-plussed way machines do, why this human was bothering it at 0448 in the morning.

The young man collected the drink, and after saying a polite but cheery “thankyou” to the machine, wandered along the platform towards an uncomfortable looking bench.

Watching him walk away, the machine rolled its eyes – or it would if it had any – and after the regulated couple of minues turned off its lights and went back to sleep.

And so begins my three week adventure to the United States of America, Land of the free, Home of the brave, and still – bewilderingly – the only country in the industrialised world where your medical bills might kill you. However that’s a discussion for another time.

CameraZOOM-20170916053648959[1]

Yes, I confess I had to employ a monopod for this shot (I believe the youth of today call them “selfie-sticks”)

As I write, I find myself whisked through the inky black of a Devonshire autumn morning on a South Western Railways train in a carriage where my only company is a couple of early bird commuters making their way to London for another long working Friday. Although why anyone would commute from the other side of the country for the sake of a single day of work is a little baffling to me. Anywho, the trip upon which I embark this morning is a long one, in fact it’s the longest “holiday” I’ve had since I was 11, when my mother took my brother and me on an eight week epic journey around a sizeable portion of the anglosphere. It’s also going to be one of the busiest, as I am attempting – foolishly perhaps – to take in as much of the contiguous united states as I can given the time and funds I have available. In order to do this I will be enlisting the help of two stalwarts of Americana… AMTRAK (that’s the US’ cross-state rail system) and the Road Trip (kindly driven by my good friend and up-and-coming thespian, Tom, who we shall perhaps meet in later blog posts).

The plan, then, is for a week to be spent in New York, where I’ll be taking in the normal touristy things, and hopefully being introduced to some other non-touristy places by Tom. I’ll also be – perhaps predictably –  visiting some museums; I’m particularly looking forward to the Hayden Planetarium although I doubt very much I’ll get to meet Neil DeGrasse Tyson, as much as it would make my holiday.

After this initial stay in the Big Apple, it’s on a flight out to San Francisco to board the California Zephyr which will take me through the Rockies, the Sierra Nevada, and the Great Plains back to Chicago (the city, not the Musical) where I’ll be changing trains onto the Lake Shore Limited back to New York. I figure this way I can cram as much of the US’ wonderful blend of scenery as I can into my stay. My only real regret is that I won’t get any time actually in San Francisco, other than the eight hours or so overnight between my flight landing and the train leaving, (just an excuse for another trip I suppose).

Then once I’m back on the East Coast, Tom’s once again taking up the baton and the road trip begins… this part of the trip is – as yet – unplanned, but as long as we get back for the first days of NY Comic Con, I’ll be happy.

I’m now passing through Axminster, giving me a last chance for a brief farewell to my childhood neighbourhood before the epic adventure begins! I’ll bring this first post to a close here though, but as I’ve brought enough Camera Equipment to supply a low budget documentary crew… I imagine you may see more of me in the coming days.

Makes a change from the dearth of posts over the last year or so though right!

Ben D Brooks
16 Sept 2017

Another orbit comes to a close

It’s that time of year again…

Where I subject you all to my Christmas Podcast (as it seems to have become!)

I promise this one’s less depressing than last year, although I also didn’t have much to say, especially as I tried to avoid talking much about this annus horribilis!

But anywho, Merry Christmas one and all.

Ben Brooks
21 Dec 2016

A Gamer’s Call to Arms!

Hey Folks;

I’ve finally got to the point where it’s become clear that my existing gaming group in East Devon are never going to be able to maintain an ongoing RPG campaign of any kind.

So I’m looking to find a group of four or so gamers in the Exeter (UK) area to join me in playing some games; so if you’ve ever played tabletop games or would be interested in giving them a go, I’d love to hear from you.

Unfortunately due to my shift working I’m not able to commit to a specific day every week, but I do get my roster 2 months in advance, so planning sessions shouldn’t be a problem.

I’m willing to set up and run a campaign in Runequest or Call of Cthulhu for others, or act as a player character in pretty much any other games system (Dungeons and Dragons, Vampire; the Masquerade etc).

So… if that’s of interest to anyone, I look forward to hearing from you

Ben Brooks
24 Feb 2016

All Humans are Islands… A slightly sober Christmas message from me

Hello Everyone,

I hope you’re all well. Today I recorded my christmas message for the year, I will also be sending cards this year so don’t worry if you haven’t received one yet!

I recorded something like ten versions of this before I was happy with it, it’s still not ideal and I still don’t know wholly what I wanted to say. But, here it is, I’m sorry it’s quite sobering for a christmas message, but it covers something that’s been on my mind of late, and felt like I needed to talk about it.

I do hope you’ll all forgive me for it’s dour tone!

Ben