Nate Phelps Returns to Topeka

31 03 2010

A little bit of a change from the norm today; I wanted to give some publicity to a man by the name of Nate Phelps.

Nate is the son of Pastor Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church; some of you might be familiar with their message and the work that they do, some of you might not.

For those of you who don’t know about the WBC here is a quick taster if you will of some of their activities:

This is taken from the BBC documentary ” The Most Hated Family in America” by Louis Theroux.

The WBC openly publicise their hateful views and are often found picketing across the US, a particular target being the funerals of soldiers, which no matter your view on war most people would deem to be a distasteful act.

However what a lot of people aren’t aware of is the abuse that has been meted out on the family of Fred Phelps as a result of his heinous beliefs.

Nate Phelps put up with terrible physical and emotional abuse until the age of 18 when he left the family and made his own life, you can read Nate’s blog here.

For me one of the most shocking things about Nate’s story and the Westboro Baptist Church is that Fred Phelps is still to this day walking around as a free man,  despite terrible acts of abuse.

Hailing as I do from a country that has for years been embroiled in acts of abuse by people in positions of religious authority I feel very strongly on the subject and would call on all right thinking people to join me in supporting people like Nate Phelps who are making a stand and bringing subjects such as these kicking and screaming into the light of day.

As such I would like to draw your attention to the forthcoming event:

Nate is the estranged son of “God Hates Fags” Pastor Fred Phelps, and he is now returning to his hometown, which he hasn’t been to in many years. Nate will tell his story of growing up in the family that founded the infamous Westboro Baptist Church, which he left at midnight on his 18th birthday.

The Richard Dawkins Foundation will be filming the event as part of an upcoming documentary about Nate’s story of religious abuse, how he survived, and his mission to fix the laws that protect the perpetrators.

The event is FREE TO THE PUBLIC, so we encourage everyone in the area to attend if possible. This is also the first time one of the Phelps children has spoken out publicly against the church in their hometown.

The advertisement can be found in it’s original form on http://richarddawkins.net/articles/5332





My “paid to write” experiment

30 03 2010

Recently I have been musing more and more on the subject of freelance writing.

In the past I have written a few articles for some local papers, contributed to a couple of websites and even gone so far as to write reviews for a restaurant guide; all of this went relatively well for me and so I have been toying with the idea of writing on a more regular basis.

Part of this musing is down to the fact that I had a couple of article ideas that I really wanted to get down on paper (or on screen to be more precise) so I threw my ideas together and managed to cobble together the two articles in question.

Armed with my work and large amounts of enthusiasm I contacted a couple of websites that had previously expressed a liking for my work; now to cut a long story short one of the articles was usable and the other wasn’t really finding any interest.

I didn’t want to just scrap it as I rather like it and writing it caused me to reconsider a few of my own views on certain subjects, so I was trying to work out what to do with it and was about to file it away for possible later use when a friend of mine told me about a site that he had recently signed up to called suite 101.

The premise behind it is quite simple, you can write about more or less anything you want and they will “publish” your work to their site, if people like it and you get views, you get paid.

in other words you are “paid to write” now at $1.50 per 1000 views very few people, if anyone, is ever going to make a living off of this sort of thing… but I will admit I was intrigued.

I decided against Suite 101 after I read their Terms and Conditions which basically stated that whilst I had my content up with them that I couldn’t display it anywhere else. Now this didn’t really sit right with me after all I might wish to pop it up on my blog for example or continue trying to sell it elsewhere.

A little bit of digging has thrown up an alternative site called Associate Content which runs on basically the same principles as Suite 101 but is a little more forgiving with regards your rights as a writer.

So I have decided to give it a go, I am really rather skeptical of the whole idea but at the same time it has tweaked my interest.

I have decided to approach the whole thing as an experiment, I am going to publish content to AC as often as I can during a 3 month period of time. In theory if it works as advertised I should possibly even see some revenue from this (not that I am expecting more than $2/3 during this time)

I am going to be keeping track of my progress here on my blog and hopefully it might help answer some other people’s questions in relation to this.

If anyone has any experience of dealing with any of these paid to write sites it would be great to hear your feedback so please get in touch and remember to subscribe in order to keep up to date with how things are going

*If anyone wants to see my work on AC then click here to have a look*





Alpha Inventions???

30 03 2010

I am a little bit perplexed this morning; for the past couple of days I have been getting an awful lot of hits on the two blogs that I run.

Not such a problem on the face of things, however I am not seeing any upturn at all in the number of comments, subscribers or in the amount of time that people are actually spending reading my blog. So I start to do a little bit of digging around in order to see what is going on.

It seems that whilst the number of people reading my blog is continuing to grow organically the lion’s share of the hits are all coming from one site that is referring traffic to my blog: Alpha Inventions.

I hadn’t heard of this site previously so I decided to have a look and see what the story is. This proved to be a little bit more difficult than I had hoped it would; mostly due to the ragtag, obviously homemade nature of the site.

I managed to ascertain that Alpha Inventions isn’t a robot as I had first thought it was but is actually a reading cycle of sorts.

The basic premise seems to be as follows; Alpha Inventions picks up on content that has just been updated or published and puts it into the reading cycle that is currently running.

The person whose blog has been “featured” sees that they are getting hits from Alpha so clicks through to have a look and they then get shown the cycle which is currently running and from here they can choose to promote their blog by submitting it manually.

Now none of this is necessarily a problem, however there are a couple of downsides to this that I can see.

Firstly, the hits themselves are more or less worthless, unless someone happens to actually be paying attention to the various blogs that are being displayed and decides that they would like to read more than there is no real benefit to having an extra 500 hits. Personally I would rather get an extra 10 hits a day from people who had actually been searching for what I was writing about or had an interest in it.

Secondly, the large number of “views” that Alpha Inventions is generating could seriously throw off the stats for a site, if you were trying to show accurate traffic figures then Alpha could prove to be a pain in the proverbial, particularly as there is no readily accessible option to remove yourself from the reading cycle.

In my opinion whilst Alpha Inventions certainly isn’t a scam and isn’t really doing anything wrong, it isn’t really doing much good either; if it was generating an upturn in people actually reading, following and commenting on blogs that would be one thing, but as it stands it just provides empty numbers.





Chicken and Chorizo Paella

29 03 2010

Last Saturday we had a Spring party, there were a bunch of people coming over and I didn’t want to be tied to the oven anymore than I had to be.

So I was wrecking my head trying to work out what I could cook that would be nice and easy on my time and yet seem sufficiently fancy…. and here it is:

Chicken and Chorizo Paella

Serves 4-6 people depending on levels of greed 🙂

5 or so chicken breasts or large thighs that have been de-boned

200g of good cooked chorizo

300g of paella rice (if you can’t get paella rice use Arborio)

1 stick of celery

1 1/2 large white onions, finely diced

2 cloves of garlic

2 tomatoes de-seeded and chopped

3 large red peppers

1 small red chilli, de-seeded and very finely chopped

a large handful of peas

1 large lemon

Chicken stock

Saffron

Smokey Paprika

Olive oil

Method

Heat the olive oil in a hot pan and add the chicken cut up into small cubes, add in 2 tsp of the smokey paprika and make sure that all of the chicken is well coated in it.

Once the chicken is brown on all sides put it in a low oven on a baking tray until you need it later on.

Add the saffron to your hot chicken stock and leave it to infuse

Turn the heat on the pan down to medium and put the chorizo in

Once the Chorizo has started to brown and go crisp you can add in the onions, garlic and celery and cook until the onions are just starting to soften.

Once the onions have softened you can add in the rice, the chopped red peppers, the chopped tomatoes, the chopped chili, half of the stock and 2 tsp of the paprika.

You now need to leave the dish on the heat for roughly 15- 20 minutes giving it all a stir every few minutes or so.

After this time the rice should just about be cooked, you can now add in the peas, the juice and zest of the lemon and the remainder of the stock, cook until most of the stock has been absorbed.

Once the stock has been absorbed you can add the chicken back into the dish and serve with lemon segments, a simple salad and some crusty bread





Keep on keeping on

29 03 2010

Just a quick follow up on a post I made the other day regarding my choice of class; I have decided to keep the ret pally, I figure playing him well should be enough of a USP to get some end game content.

Oh and I just kinda like him 🙂

So if anyone out there happens to be on the EU server Boulderfist then hit me up, as always my in game name is Curadane





Changes they be a coming…

29 03 2010

So it’s Monday morning and I have been thinking, as always this was a hard task but the reward justified the pain!

I have decided to make some changes to my blog, hopefully these will all be over by the end of the day and it should be shinier and easier to navigate around, particularly as my mind wanders off in so many directions that I could write a recipe one moment and a review of a game the next.

The first change and probably the most exciting (well for me at least!) is that I am starting a new blog!

It’s called Bottoms Up and is devoted to one of my favourite topics – Beer. But not just any old beer, this is a blog about proper beer, with bits in it. We are talking real ales, porters, stouts, bitters and milds to name just a scant few.

I am going to be reviewing beers and pubs and talking in general about the state of the brewing industry as a whole (I used to be a very very small part of it for a few happy months)

So if this sounds like your type of poison then come and have a look.





Gaming without boundaries

26 03 2010

As I will keep waffling on I have recently come back to playing WOW after a break of near enough two years, the reasons behind this are manifold and have been regurgitated by me until the cows come home, so I won’t bore you all again!

However one of the big things that drew me back was that some friends of ours in the US were keen to get us to join their guild and game with them. Well of course we thought this would be neat and so of course got the ball rolling, but there is a problem.

It’ s a problem that has been around since the World (of warcraft) was formed.

Localized accounts, servers and game clients. To cut a very long description of the issue short if you set up your account in Europe, with an European CD key and an European address you can’t play on US servers and visa versa.

Now obviously this isn’t a huge problem as not everyone wishes to do this but for people who ( like a rather disgruntled me) it’s a little bit annoying, see I’m not asking for a mountain of gold or diamonds equal to my body mass (but if you wish to send them let me know) I’m  just asking for a simple way to play a video game with my friends.

This wouldn’t be a revolutionary idea, Ever Quest 1 supported this when WOW was still a twinkle in Blizzard’s collective corporate eyes, I remember back to the days of the WOW beta and that the question was asked at the time as to whether or not this would this would be put in place and apparently it was being considered, unfortunately it seems this  is as far as it got.

Not a big thing but still in 2010 it seems a tad lame 😦





Pallys… the new huntards???

26 03 2010

So here we are again, I finally managed to download the various patches of behemoth proportion and I have been able to login and create my character.

For anyone that read my previous post (all 2 of you :P) you will know that I was looking at a ret pally. Well I stuck to my guns and Curadane the Blood Elf Paladin was born.

I set off into the world and the first thing I noticed was that either the Blood Elf starting zone has been made easier than before or the pally has been elevated to some sort of demigod like level of power.

It isn’t just easy because it’s a starting zone or because I rock, (which I may well do!) It’s easy because the pally is ripping through everything like a mail armoured hot knfe through some particularly flimsy butter.

This is not normally a good sign.

My feeling of vague unease was confirmed when I put a shout out for a group in the Ghostlands to take down 2 x lvl 21 elites; other than one priest and the obligatory Blood Elf hunter with ghostclaw pet all the people that I encountered were Pallys.

Now this was at something silly like 8am GMT so it’s not as if there were stacks of people on and everyone else is just shy!

So now I am posed with a question; do I stick or twist, stay or go? Should I bother to take my pally any further ( he’s only lvl 17 at the moment) or do I roll again? At the moment I can’t decide, on one hand the pally is fun and is a new class for me, on the other hand do I really want to look like every other plate wearing sheep chucking out buffs like they are going out of fashion?





GRRR

25 03 2010

Well far be it from me to complain but the size of the patches I need to bring me up to speed with WOW are just ridiculous, I am sure it will all be worth it but 7 gigs of patches!!!

But anyway I digress, my big challenge at the moment is what class to play, I used to have two main toons that I ran with, a Prot Warrior and a Hunter (before Hunters were cool I might add)

Now I am thinking I will mix things up a little, it looks increasingly like it is going to be a ret pally, anyways we will see how that goes and I will keep you all posted, whether you want me to or not!





Welcome to the world…of Warcraft

24 03 2010

Well after a two year break away from the digital crack that is WOW it looks like I am headed straight back into the most popular MMORPG known to man.

My reasons for leaving WOW in the first place are numerous; from the packs of annoying 12 year olds playing with Mum and Dad’s Mastercard through to the annoying gits corpse camping everywhere they can in order to gank noobs. To cut a long story short I vowed never to return and promptly threw myself into LOTRO (Lord of the Rings Online) with great gusto.

But times change and people change; my High Elf Guardian is now level 65, Moria has been thoroughly stomped into submission and Mirkwood has been torn a new one, in short I’m bored.

The Kinship that I helped start has matured to a point whereby it doesn’t need the constant fussing and maintenance anymore, the endless stream of new players looking for someone to run them through instances or join their group to help twink them has dried up to the occasional trickle.

So like an addict looking for his next fix I have been trying out everything and anything I can get my hands on; Baldurs Gate I & II, Never Winter Nights, Oblivion, Fable II and Spellforce I&II all have been chewed up and spat out again as I try to find something to fill the bottomless RPG void in my life. Likewise I have dabbled with some harder stuff; Perfect World International , Age of Conan and Dungeons and Dragons online, but none of them have managed to hold my attention for more than a few fleeting hours.

So what is it about WOW that sets it apart from the competition, there are certainly other games that are very enjoyable and equally immersive;  LOTRO is one game that springs instantly to mind.

I guess there are as many views on why WOW is top dog as there are players, but for me I think it isn’t one big thing that sets it apart, it’s a collection of many smaller things.

I think that unlike many other MMOs that are out there WOW has got the mix just right, for the avid PVPer there are whole servers set aside where you gank people to your hearts content, for the more player that doesn’t always want to be risking certain (virtual) death at the hands of a superhuman  Korean there are still designated places where you can melt faces and for those of us that would rather not vanquish our fellow players there is insane amounts of PVE content that mean you need never set foot in an area or battleground.

The classes are well worked out and by this stage in the game they all  feel more or less “right” there isn’t anyone class that is desperately in need of being tweaked to make it more powerful or toned down to make things fairer on everyone else, if I compare this to other games it is a vastly different situation; for a long while in LOTRO the Hunter class was basically a death dealing demon from the skies, yes it was squishy if you got in close, verrry squishy but that didn’t matter, the mobs were dead before they realised they were in a fight.

Sure it was corrected eventually but in the meanwhile things just felt a tad unbalanced, no slight on Turbine; they have done a fine job of turning the works of Tolkien into a very playable MMO, but at the same time I can’t imagine Blizzard taking as long to react, too many people would complain.

Maybe this brings me to the key point here, WOW is quite simply huge, not just in terms of the amount of content (which is monsterous) or the areas there are to explore (which are vast) but also in terms of the sheer number of players; last time I looked there are over 12 million of the buggers, to put this into context that more people then there are in Belgium (WOW is more exciting than Belgium as well).

When you have that many players all paying there monthly fees you are talking about a lot of pounds, shillings and pence each month, if you DON’T stay on top of your game you are shafted, if keeping 12 million people happy means that you take just an extra little bit of care with things, or pay just that extra 5% extra attention to detail, than that is a small price to pay! Plus when 12 million people talk you have to listen.

If you are running a MMO and have an in game population of say 300,000 if you do something that 2% of people don’t like you get 6000 complaints, if you dont act on that you might lose half of those people that complained so you might lose 3000 people.If Blizzard manage to piss of 2% of their in game population thats 240, 000 disgruntled customers, thats a figure that some games would bend over backwards to have as their entire subscription base.

So maybe thats why WOW is the best, maybe not at everything all of the time, but certainly overall.

They are the best because they have to be, 12 million payments of $14,99 a month say they have to be.

As for me going back maybe the biggest factor is that my girlfriend has finally said I can…








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