Peter's Blog

Just commenting on things that interest me

Month: July 2019

Make Your Own Star Trek Episode

The sets which were used to make Star Trek Continues have been purchased by a gentleman by the name of Ray Tesi. He is promising to keep them safe.

But the even better news is that (if you can make your way to Kingsland, Georgia) you can make your own fan film there and it only costs $300 to rent the sets per day!

I think that’s amazing value for anyone who has a dream, a cast, cameras, mics, etc. and a story!

Ray’s company is now called “The Neutral Zone”.

Details about hiring the sets are available here.

Here is a link to a Star Trek fan film vignette which involved Ray in writing, directing and producing roles.

Star Trek Continues – No Longer

Back in November 2017 I make a post about looking forward to the last episode of “Star Trek Continues”. Later that month the eleventh and final episode was made available on the website.

The penultimate episode had received a rating of 9.3 on IMDB – the highest of the series to date. The last episode surpassed that with a rating of 9.6.

The last episode does what the team set out to do, and what the original series never managed to do – it brings the five year mission to a conclusion.

The episode itself is very good. But I have to say that the last ten minutes (from Kirk’s speech to the crew on, it very subdued and a bit of a downer). I think it’s a pity they decided to end it that way.

Still, the series itself is excellent – and a great tribute to the love and dedication of all of those who worked on it.

Overall the series has a rating of 8.0 on IMDB – very impressive for a fan production, especially when you consider that Star Trek Discovery (with all of the money that was put into it) has a rating of 7.4

Joan Wilson

They used to say that “behind every great man is a great woman”. I think in these PC days we need to replace the word “behind” with “beside”.

In any event, beside Gordon Wilson (see my last post) was his wife Joan. And she is obviously a fabulous person too.

Alf McCreary (who wrote the book about Marie with Gordon and later wrote his biography) interviewed Joan to mark the twentieth anniversary of the Enniskillen bomb and the killing of Marie. You can read it here.

She talks about Marie’s death, and the subsequent deaths of her son Peter and of Gordon himself.

Like Gordon, she is clearly a deeply religious person.

She says the following of her life since Marie’s passing:

“I have been spared by God for these 30 years since Marie’s death, and for whatever time I have left I want to make the most of each day – to appreciate the beauty of a flower or the power of the sea and all of nature, and I want to try to bring help and comfort to as many people as I can.”

And of Marie she says the following:

I still think of Marie as my bright, rebellious and deeply loving daughter. I know we will meet again some day. I think we both deserve that, and I am convinced that it will happen through the power and strength of God Almighty. That will be a wonderful day for both of us.”

I sincerely hope that she is right.

Here is Joan holding a picture of her daughter:

© picture by John McVitty, Enniskillen, Co.Fermanagh, N. Ireland – 07771987378 ©
Mrs Joan Wilson with a picture of her late daughter Marie.

Gordon Wilson: An Ordinary Man

On 8 November 1987 the Provisional IRA detonated a bomb during the Remembrance Day parade in Enniskillen.

Local man Gordon Wilson found himself buried in rubble after the blast. He was holding the hand of his twenty year old Daughter, Marie.

In the video below, you can see an interview which Gordon did with the BBC about these minutes. Even after all of these years, it is extraordinarily moving.

Marie died later in the hospital from her injuries. She was a young nurse with her whole life ahead of her.

Anyone could relate to the love between Gordon and his daughter and to the loss and immense sadness suffered by Gordon and his family.

What sets Gordon apart from other men is some of the other sentiments he expressed, not shown in this video:

But I bear no ill will. I bear no grudge. Dirty sort of talk is not going to bring her back to life. She was a great wee lassie. She loved her profession. She was a pet. She’s dead. She’s in heaven and we shall meet again. I will pray for these men tonight and every night.

Gordon went on to be a peace campaigner for the rest of his life. He wrote a book about his daughter entitled “Marie: Story from Enniskillen” in 1990. He was a member of Seanad Éireann from 1993 to 1995. He passed away in 1997.

When that day started in 1987 Gordon Wilson seemed like an ordinary man. He was a draper with a wife and three children, and just a few years older than I am now. The events of that day and the remainder of his life showed that nothing could be further from the truth.

In 1996 Alf McGreary (who wrote the book on Marie with Gordon) wrote a biography of Gorden entitled “Gordon Wilson: An Ordinary hero”. I think that is an excellent title.

I have never forgotten the things which Gordon said. I think that the things the he said and did were a turning point in The Troubles.

Eleven people died that day, including three married couples. A twelfth died after spending 13 years in a coma.

Some of us imagined that we would never see another atrocity like that again, especially after the way Gordon spoke and the public reaction to what he said. But on 15 August 1998 (after the Good Friday Agreement) a group calling themselves the Real Irish Republican Army set off a bomb in Omagh killing 29 people, including a pregnant woman. This was the worst single bombing of the Troubles, in terms of civilian lives lost. But it also one of the last, and the last to claim multiple victims.

Northern Ireland – Every Cloud…

On the 9th of January 2017 the Northern Ireland Assembly was suspended. That means that there has been no local government in Northern Ireland for over 2 years. This is a disgraceful betrayal of the Good Friday Agreement.

In an attempt, I assume, to put pressure on those involved to restore the local government, an announcement was made in September of last year that the £49,500 salaries of Northern Ireland Assembly members was to be cut by almost £14,000, starting with a £7,425 reduction in November and a further £6,187 cut three months later.

But there was no movement.

The major low point of the strife caused by the political vacuum was when journalist Lyra McKee was shot dead on 18 April 2019 while observing rioting in the Creggan area of Derry. A completely senseless waste of a young life.

Lyra’s funeral was attended by politicians from North and South.

Catholic priest Father Martin Magill received a standing ovation at the funeral service when he said the following: “”Why in God’s name does it take the death of a 29-year-old woman with her whole life in front of her to get to this point?”

I guess the more naive among is thought that things might start to move at this point. But they did not.

So the latest thing to happen in the absence of local government in NI is that the UK Government has decided to bring NI into line with the rest of the UK in terms of laws relating to both abortion and same sex marriage. The deadline to get the assembly and executive up and running again is October 21st.

Experts like Susan McKay tell us that this won’t happen, so it looks as if the new laws will come into effect in the new year. So for me this is the “silver lining” in the shameful fact that the assembly has been out of action for 2.5 years.

Lyra had wanted to marry her partner, Sara Canning. Sara describes it as “bittersweet” that same sex marriage seems to be coming to NI but Lyra won’t be there to see it.

Here is a video of Lyra speaking very eloquently in 2017 about LGBT issues:

Good Friday Agreement – 20 Years On

The Good Friday Agreement was signed in Belfast on 10 April 1998. So it’s over 21 years old now.

But last year Pat Kenny had a series of radio programmes on to mark the twentieth anniversary.

I happened to be out in the car for some reason and heard one of them.

It was very good and very moving.

The part I remember most was the interview with Monica McWilliams.

In 1996, Monica co-founded the Northern Ireland Women’s Coalition political party and was elected as a delegate at the Multi-Party Peace Negotiations.

She was present at the announcement of the Good Friday agreement and she describes that in a very vivid and moving manner.

The whole recording is available here and her part starts at about 13 mins into the recording.

This photo was taken when some of the main players in the Good Friday agreement assembled last year to mark the anniversary. Monica is on the left in the front row. My personal hero, John Hume, was unfortunately too ill to attend.

(back row left to right) Jonathan Powell, Lord John Alderdice, Lord David Trimble, Sir Reg Empey, Lord Paul Murphy of Torfaen and (front row left to right) Professor Monica McWilliams, Seamus Mallon, former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, Senator George Mitchell and Gerry Adams, at an event to mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement, at Queen’s University in Belfast. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Tuesday April 10, 2018. See PA story ULSTER GoodFriday. Photo credit should read: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

One Small Step for a Man

On this day 50 years ago, man set foot on the moon.

It still seems incredible to me that in 1969 it was possible for three men to take off from the earth, navigate to the moon, land on the moon, take off again, and return to earth successfully!

If we had not done that 50 years ago, and we were setting out to do it today, I would still be impressed!

But I guess the thing that astonishes me most, given all of my years in computing, was the “Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC)”. This computer had 36k words of ROM and 2k words of RAM, weighed about 70 pounds(about 31kg ), was accessed using a calculator-style keyboard and display (called a “DSKY”), and “flew most of Project Apollo except briefly during lunar landings”!

That is amazing to me. The astronauts gave it instructions using a 2 digit verb and a 2 digit noun!

Apparently the power of the computer was comparable to an Apple II (which I had about 8 years later).

And apparently the “software development on the project comprised 1400 person-years of effort, with a peak workforce of 350 people”. At its peak, the Apollo program employed 400,000 people apparently!

In 2009, a DSKY (just the interface, not the whole computer) was sold in a public auction for $50,788 (about €45k)

It’s no wonder some people believe that the Apollo moon landing was faked. It’s an amazing achievement.

I was 7 when the mission took place. I remember looking at the fuzzy pictures on a TV. I’d like to say it was in black-and-white but we were on holidays at the time and I think the TV we were looking at had some kind of green filter!

Here is a link to the Wikipedia page for the AGC:

And here is the photo from the Apollo 11 mission with which I am most familiar (it was in the volume of encyclopedias we had at home when I was growing up!)

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