CRRRaSh! 430 Roy's Ominous Tower

By Roy Mathur, on 2022-03-16, at 16:51:57--17:43:15 GMT, for Captain Roy's Rocket Radio Show, Listen


Sometimes there is such accumulation of cruft between pods that is impossible to mix it into an ordinary SFFH episode. There is vanilla entertainment, real life travails, and tech I want to get off my chest. (Yes, this is also part of my attempt at removing non-SFFH content to separate episodes). I'd call it an after dark episode, but that's so cliched I'd have to kill myself, besides, it's daytime.

I could just blog, but as podcasting is my thing, what better way?


As the war stemming from the invasion---two words Vladimir Putin hates---of Ukraine continues, I have been in two minds whether to include this item at all, but it is the topic de jour at Castle Royenstein, so here goes.

The huge area has a long history for a place I had paid scant attention to in the past. The Rus, the Russian Empire, cossacks, Poland, the Soviet Union, the fall of the Iron Curtain, the Orange Revolution... It's a history I have seen in the papers, but cannot honestly say I was that invested in until now, even if my own country has been partly culpbable for buggering up the region. All I can remember of the Crimean War of 1858 from history lessons is Mary Seacole, Florence Nightingale, and an annoying poem by Tennyson commemorating a total military cock-up.

Am I shocked that there is a war in Europe? I'm disturbed by a war on my doorstep, but no, I am not surprised. Europe is not a magic place that is immune from conflict as some of the media would have you believe. For example, I find it very hard to believe that everyone seems to have forgotten the Bosnian War.

While we continue patting ourselves on the back for being Europeans, and thus far more civilised than the peoples of other parts of the world (off the back of subjugating and ripping off the peoples of other parts of the world), is that Europe has already been the centre of two world wars, do we really want a third? It's a very obvious point that I have not heard anyone bring up yet and something for the hawks to think about.

I can't help comparing the West's treatment of Ukraine's war with Russia to Ahmad Massoud's National Resistance Front fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan, the National Unity Government of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar fighting the military junta, the oppression of the Uyghurs and Hong Kong's by the People's Republic of China, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces opposing Bashar al-Assad, and many other struggles of non-white peoples globally. Shouldn't we also be supporting them?

Then there is our government's mixed to hypocritical response to British volunteers going off to fight in Ukraine. I was surprised to hear Foreign Secretary Liz Truss offering her "absolutely support". Then Boris Johnson warning that they could be breaking British law, much like Aiden James who fought for the Kurds against ISIS in Syria and was prosecuted under UK terror laws when he returned.

I have also been reading that Ukraine, as well as opposing pro-Russian factions within the region, have both legitimised, and made part of their respective militaries, far-right neo-Nazi militias. (Azov and Sparta Battalions). This is somewhat ironic, given Vladimir Putin's spurious "denazification" justification for invasion. Combining this information with the Azov relationship with border guards, and the recent treatment of African and Asian students on both sides of the border, you have to ponder the wisdom of either side incorporating extremist groups into their forces. I hope we are keeping track of who gets their hands on Stingers, Javelins, NLAWS, and surplus or dumped Russian hardware when the war ends. We already know that neo-Nazis hold the tactics of the Taliban and ISIS/Daesh in high regard. We don't want the unintended consequences of the war to be inadvertently arming Taliban-style neo-Nazis in Europe.

Call me a naive dove, but I hope the war will end peacefully. I hope the Ukraine democracy survives this pointless and brutal Russian assault that is racking up an increasing civilian body count. If there's anything we should learn from Sci-Fi like Doctor Who and Dune, it's that war is failure.

Before we end, my compliments to the brave Russian peace protesters and non-state controlled media, and I hope the Asian and African students studying in Ukraine have all been safely evacuated.

The Responder

Grim urban drama about grizzled, old, jaded cop (Martin Freeman) and his bright young partner.

Good acting, but I thought the drama was too drab and miserable, and I hated all the characters.


BBC iPlayer: Chloe stalks old friend on the internet. When the friend dies, she makes up a fake persona and tries to unravel the mystery.

There are themes of internet stalking, love, lust, envy, unresolved relationships, personal betrayal, reinvention of one's persona, being a carer, all mixed into a murder mystery. It's ambitious to say the least.

I thought it tense, thrilling, and well acted, but perhaps because of so many topics spread so thinly, the plot fell apart at the end. I'm okay with an ambiguous denouement, but not so much with the muddled way Chloe finished.

This is Going to Hurt

Yet another gritty medical memoir. If you are familiar with the 90s drama, Cardiac Arrest, this is similar, though set in obstetrics ward.

I found Ben Whishaw great; he usually is. The story is gripping, but too intense to be enjoyable. I thought the fourth wall breaking intolerable.

Is it not the deepest irony that some of the most discrete of professions; physicians, special forces operators, and spies cannot keep their mouths shut? They trot out memoir after memoir that the publishing industry loves because people love to buy them. Mmm... market forces.

My Historic House on Google Maps

This is one of the many places I used to live:

After I left, the house was lifted onto a truck, hauled away, and is now a historic exhibit somewhere. No, really. And yes, that is me in the photograph. I still have the coat.

Block Google Docs and Google Drive File Shares

I once signed up with a writing circle. We were not a good match and I left, but not before the group's leader shared with me all his group's work through Google Docs.

Despite years of telling this chap to stop, he just didn't get the message and so I suffered for years seeing my Docs clogged up with other's work that should remain private.

After millions of user complaints, Google finally got the message last year. You can now block people from sharing Docs with you.

Health and Stress

I had an appointment recently with the GP about the skin rotting around my right eye (eczema?), hence this episode's title (R.O.T.).

During the examination, the doctor took my blood pressure and the alarm on the monitor went off, so he asked me to send in readings for a week. Apparently chocolate, curry, migraine, IBS, GERD, and stress is not great for your blood pressure. Using a dodgy home monitor with a painful arm band, my BP was initially high, which made me panic, eat healthier food, try to stay more active (despite Google Fit letting me down again), and try to sleep more. As for stress? To say stress plays a part in my BP would be a vast understatement. The GP now says my pressure is normal.

I also visited the NHS physio for my buggered thumb and was told they can't do anything, goodbye. Fantastico.

While all this fun was going on, Mum and Dad have had quite a few medical appointments because that is what happens when you a older. That meant running the Millennium Falcon as an unofficial non-emergency ambulance.

My most pressing problem, health wise, is the nightmare of PPI withdrawal (acid reflux with a vengeance). All these minor ailments and everyday stress are more than the sum of their parts and debilitating when combined. That is the reason for the lack of podcasts lately.

Microphone Choice

I've been swapping mics in and out of the podcast over the past few months. I know I've said this before, but here are my absolutely final conclusions:

Any of these mics will sound good, but I found the SM7B needed the least editing in post; c. 33% less than my second choice, the SM58. The SM7B also has a very definite pleasing dark vintage tone that is hard to convey in automatically compressed YouTube mic reviews. The SM7B is therefore my studio mic of choice, and the SM58 when out and about.

However, if you are on a budget, remember that the sound difference between a cheap mic and expensive one, e.g. an XM8500 at GBP 20.00 and an SM7B at GBP 330 is not that great.

Finally, consider a floor stand. They are simpler, more reliable, quieter, cheaper than a good desk boom arm, and place you in an ergonomic position. Personally, I've learned that I prefer the flexibility of using a mic on a floor stand.