Saturday, April 21, 2007



If you were to write a novel in which the hero lived to a ripe old age thanks to a series of similar coincidences, it is unlikely that any publisher would accept it. In real life, though, some people are remarkably fortunate, as an obituary notice in yesterday's Daily Telegraph reminds us.

Chief Petty Officer Gordon Selby, who has died aged 87, served in submarines in the Royal Navy during World War II. In September 1940 he was appointed coxswain of the submarine Upholder, and during 13 months he survived 24 patrols at a time when one British submarine a week was being lost in the attempt to cut supply lines to Rommel's army in North Africa.

Upholder disappeared in 1942, but a few weeks earlier, Selby had been drafted to the submarine P-39.

On the outbreak of war he should have joined the submarine Oxley, but his place was taken by a more experienced man; Oxley was lost.

On P-39 he escaped injury when the submarine was wrecked during a Luftwaffe attack on the submarine base at Lazaretto, Malta. With other survivors he was evacuated in the submarine Olympus, which struck a mine about six miles south of Malta. He was one of only seven survivors of the 90 persons on board.

In 1943 Selby arrived in Algiers to join the submarine Sickle, which after patrols off southern France, was lost with all hands, but Selby was not on board, having been selected to join the submarine Storm.

After the War he became coxswain of Truculent, which he left in 1949 when his 12-year engagement expired. The folowing year Truculent was lost in a collision in the Thames.

He was re-engaged to continue his Naval career and the most amazing coincidence occurred on the afternoon of 15 April 1951 when he was due to sail in the submarine Affray. He had already settled into the boat when, as president of HMS Dolphin's chief petty officers' mess, he was called ashore to attend to some last-minute mess business. He became ill and was admitted to hospital half an hour before the submarine sailed. That night Affray was lost in the Channel with all hands.

Thursday, April 05, 2007


Things That Came To Come

SCI-FI-LONDON, the UK's only annual festival of science fiction and fantastic film announces that the restored, extended edition of THINGS TO COME (TTC) will be given its first theatrical screening on 2nd May 2007 at the SCI-FI-LONDON Film Festival. This version of the film is the longest in existence anywhere in the world and contains four additional scenes which have not been seen since the film’s original theatrical release in 1936.

Every version of TTC shown in cinemas, on television and available on video since 1936 has been drastically cut. Network has commissioned the best and longest known version to exist of this film anywhere in the world in H.D.

The film adapted from the HG Wells novel The Shape of Things to Come (1933), can be viewed at SCI-FI-LONDON, from 2nd-6th May and it will be released as a special edition DVD on 7th May 2007 by Network DVD.

The film is of interest to us because it contains images of mobile phones, flat plasma video screens, voice projectors, desktop laptops, an education channel and biological weapons. So it's no wonder some have suggested Wells was a contactee who worked his experiences into his novels. I don't buy that, rather this just indicates that there was plenty of technological images of the future that contactees could draw on from "popular culture" even if they were never sf fans.

Wells' book also predicted World War II; it includes cities being destroyed by aerial bombs and predicts the rise of Fascist dictators.

Other amazing facts about THINGS TO COME, according to the press release:

* Mussolini banned the film in Italy because he believed that Ralph Richardson’s portrayal of The Boss was a parody of il duce

* Hitler also banned the film in Germany but Hitler was so impressed with the image of a British city being destroyed that he ordered the head of the German air force, Herman Goering, to screen it to his subordinates

* The last engineers and scientists establish their base in Basra - Iraq!

* TTC is the first western film to show human civilization reduced to ashes

* TTC was released in the year that Guernica was bombed

* Arthur C. Clarke showed the movie to Stanley Kubrick when they began production on 2001: A Space Odyssey

* Homage was paid to TTC in the 1951 Ealing Comedy The Man in A White Suit


UFO Hacker Loses Another Appeal

On Tuesday, April 03, 2007, "UFO Hacker" Gary McKinnon lost his final appeal against extradition in the High Court, London. Lord Justice Maurice Kay told him:

"We do not find any grounds of appeal against the decision.

"Mr McKinnon's conduct was intentional and calculated to influence and affect the U.S. government by intimidation and coercion.

"As a result of his conduct, damage was caused to computers by impairing their integrity, availability and operation of programs, systems, information and data on the computers, rendering them unreliable."

For more than a year he searched for evidence for the existence of UFOs and advanced technology by hacking into US military computer networks. His activities were not discovered until after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, and it largely due to this context that the USA has been determined to take legal action against him.

Reaction to this latest legal decision has been rapid and mixed in the UFO community. On UFO Updates one contributer callously wrote:

"Dude is sooooo screwed!

"That'll be the title of the movie about McKinnon.

"When his butt hits the shores of this star spangled land he won't see the light of day again until Jesus comes back.

"There'll be more headshrinkers on him than paparazzi on Britney Spears.

"After they vacuum his brain and turn him into the newest version of Charlie McCarthy he'll be a good boy from then on.

"Watch to see if he'll panic and start telling more secrets to barter his way out of this.

"Let this be a lesson, do not mess with the U.S. Government."

A more sympathetic view was that:

"This is an absolute outrage!

"It could be competently argued that a current administration lets bona fide terrorists into this country fore and aft or North and South, but then interrupts that meager effort to
hazard and persecute comparative innocents!

"McKinnon's crime? He exposed a blithe governmental incompetence and a criminal disregard of our security... on the backs of billions of dollars allegedly spent to secure same!
McKinnon performed a service; they should let him go with a cash award and the thanks of a grateful nation!"

McKinnon's legal team had argued that his human rights were breached under Article Eight of the European Convention on Human Rights. In addition, it is alleged that the US authorities had claimed that they wanted to see him "fry" for his hacking crimes that caused nearly a million dollars worth of damage. He could face an undetermined length of imprisonment before any trial in the USA, and he would not be allowed to appeal or to spend any of his jail term in the UK.

McKinnon's fight against extradition has not come to an end as he plans to challenge the current ruling through the House of Lords.

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