CRRRaSh! 344 Ephemeral

By Roy Mathur, on 2020-11-24, at 23:02:25--23:49:43 GMT, for Captain Roy's Rocket Radio Show, Listen


Let's start this the proper English way and talk weather. What the hell happened to it and why is it already Spring?


A migraine, or a migraine and a cold, and a blocked ear too took me out. I've only had mild migraines before this one and this was definitely the worse.

Migraines, range from mild to debilitating, as most people with the condition know, but are also complicated, so I won't dive into it here. All you need to know is that I had a bad one. How bad? TI had the works; irritability, aura, headache, light, sound, and touch sensitivity, feeling sick, followed by the migraine hangover, which is far worse than one caused by booze. I'm still recovering more than a week later.

By the way, it is ridiculous that the printed directions for migraine medication are so small, when you have an aura messing with your vision.

Diwali Lamps Outside Number 11 Downing Street

While I very very much do not share Rishi Sunak's politics, it was empowering seeing a fellow child of the Indian Hindu diaspora---occupying the position of the British Chancellor of the Exchequer---lighting Diwali lamps right outside the door of No. 11 Downing Street.

Birds of Prey and the Atavistic Apeman Brain

I saw some kind of birds of prey recently.

They were beautiful, but as they swooped overheard scaring the other birds, they also unsettled some atavistic part of my brain.

Laddu, Pumpkin pie, Crab Apples, Camel Milk, Cheese-on-toast, Black Jacks

I, of course, ate too many Diwali laddus.

For Halloween I make some really excellent savoury pumpkin pies. I'm not expert, but I mixed several different recipes, with some vegetarian tweaks. It's something I wanted to try for years and it turned out great.

My little tree produced an abundance of crab apples, destined for preserve, but sadly eaten by bugs. Maybe next year?

I recently found Camel milk in supermarket! Amazing! Also every expensive, so I gave it a miss this time, though I am most curious.

I have also been eating too many breakfast cheese-on-toasts lately, as it seems to fill some hole that the migraine had dug.

Ending this long food tangent, Barrat's Black Jacks, the previously racist imagery advertising the sweets have long long gone, but now they are also vegan/Hindu friendly and can thus be enjoyed by all. Like Marmite, you either like it or you really don't but the flavour is rich sweet and sour liquorice.

Dangerous Visions

Are you a sci-fi nerd about my age? Than you must remember Dangerous Visions, an anthology series edited by the late, great author Harlan Ellison.

According to a Guardian article, after fifty years, the very last Dangerous Visions could be published, by Ellison's estate's executor and geek god, J. Michael Straczynski (B5).

A Simple Favour

Plain Jane befriends the Snow Queen in suburbia in this blackly comic murder mystery.

It's forgettable, but not bad, though lead's Anna Kendrick, playing quirky single mother, steals the show from impossibly beautiful Blake Lively.

Star Trek: Discovery

What's with all the charged emotional acting in scenes that don't require it?

Now Discovery rebuilding the Federation is just Andromeda rebuilding the commonwealth?

Did you think Book was a Gary Seven? I still think he is.


Canadian take on Scandinavian noir, that I, as someone who used to live there, simply had to.

The first season's serial killer hunt is good. It reminds me a little of Luther.

Queen's Gambit

A fine adaptation of Walter Tevis's titular novel about an orphan chess prodigy dealing with addiction.

I loved it. I say this as someone who has read and is a fan of every single Walter Tevis novel ever written.

If you want compelling prose about iconoclastic protagonists, you should read his books.

Small Axe: Mangrove

This is one of a series of BBC films by Steve McQueen about the Mangrove 9 trial in 70s Notting Hill. It was a landmark case and showed endemic racism in the UK police (fancy that).

Malachi Kirby is uncannily excellent as the late Darcus Howe.

Black Lives Are Critical Dungeons and Dragons Dice

The Black Lives Are Critical non-profit charity campaign (@blacklivescrit) have produced cool custom sparkly cola coloured DnD dice called the Black Lives Are Critical Dice.

PS5 Tube Stations

To promote the PS5 release Sony redecorated some London Tube Stations.

The most striking change was the neon tube station signs based on the triangle, circle, cross, and square (Oxford Circus) controller symbols.

Aragorn vs. Fascists

I'm not sure if I mentioned this before, because it is an old story, but I came across Viggo Mortensen's letter to Spanish newspaper El Pais back in 2019. In it he condemns the use of his imagery as Aragorn in The Lord of the Rings being used by an extreme right wing party.

The eloquence and feeling of the letter moved me, so I thought I'd mention it here.


If you want an entertaining recap of the lies and absurdity that led us kicking and screaming into a war no one wanted with Iraq, Blowback is the podcast for you.

Intel Pentium 100 MHz CPU from the 1990s

A couple of months ago, I came across my old 100 MHz Intel Pentium CPU saved from my PC from Tiny Computers Ltd. (Remember them?)

Retro gear's so expensive now, I should have kept the whole PC.

Windows Freezes

For many many years and in many incarnations of the MS Windows OS, there have been freezes. The latest of which took down my PC, which I have talked about in an earlier episode.

I'm not entirely sure what the problem is, but I do find that disabling every single power saving feature, seems to help.

While this might not be great for the environment or your electricity bill, having your PC on for days and heating up your router while you reinstall everything is probably worse.

Tabiger Soldering Kit

I finally tested the iron bought from Amazon and it seems to work.

When I sort my work area out, I can start some long delayed tech repair projects. Don't hold your breath though, it might be months before that happens.

Fancy Custom Keycaps

I've seen a couple of amazing sculpted keycaps recently---925 silver green man and a gargoyle---both very me. They are, of course, totally useless, but also utterly cool and I want one.

I just can't decide on what least frequently used key to install one on. I know some people have a custom coloured ESC key, which is more of an, "I use Vi" statement than it is a necessity, but that would be an awful place for an expensive keycap you're forever hammering.

youtube-dl Reinstated

GitHub the source code repository, have reinstated youtube-dl, after fighting down copyright holders' takedown notices. (How in god's name did it contravene copyright?)

I haven't used the command line tool, but with my increasing difficulties with my Roku playing YouTube content, I am thinking about automating the process of grabbing all the content I subscribe to, then watch it all offline.

It is a simple enough program if you know how to use the command line; a user skill sadly becoming increasingly rare. Learn the command line on your prefered platform. As Monk says, "You'll thank me later." You're welcome.

3D Dungeons and Dragons Monsters

This item from Polygon.

An artist created 3D models of all DnD monsters. You can download the files to print them yourself completely free of charge.

"If I were a rich man...", no, they aren't that expensive now, so if I were even moderately flush, I'd definitely be interested in 3D printing right now. Maybe one day.

Amazon Flex, Amazon's Abebooks, Amazon Pharmacy, Amazon Spies

Update regarding my AmazonFlex application mentioned in recent podcasts. Unfortunately, my car isn't up to the job. It barely scraped through the MOT after some expensive repairs.

I've been a customer of Abebooks since the 2000s, but my omnipotent tech guru brain missed the news that Amazon acquired them in 2008. You can avoid the Amazon monopoly by only using Abebooks as a search engine, then going to the dealer's site directly.

Following Amazon's previous acquisition of PillPack, AmazonPharmacy, in the USA only, is now fulfilling patient prescriptions. Will it come to the UK? From my UK-centric point of view, high street pharmacies dropped the ball. I have personal experience of frequent prescription mistakes and long queues, so I think it inevitable that this niche will be filled.

Finally, back in September Vice reported that Amazon was trying to hire two people to spy on union activists. Thanks to the Internet Archive, these ads can still be seen: 1, 2.

Vaccine by Christmas?!

Yes please. I am genuinely sick of wasting away indoors. This last bout of sickness scared me silly and has driven home how ephemeral life is.

I hope a vaccine lets us all out of this prison so that we can get on with the rest of our lives.