The seventeenth (yes. 17th) entry into the Marvel Cinematic Universe is arguably Thor’s most fun adventure so far, whilst the film manages to set the stage for this summer’s biggie, without losing its own identity.

Ragnarok stretches Thor and tests him in a manner that we haven’t really seen so far, whilst his relationship with brother Loki remains as complex and at times, awkward as ever. It is in their moments together where Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston shine as an odd couple – by now the two have known each other for years and their on-screen chemistry is satisfying to watch.

Thrown into this mix is Kate Blanchett as the evil Goddess of Death Hela. It is fair to say she steals every scene she appears in, relishing her role as the villain and providing a deliciously menacing character. Alongside Blanchett as a new addition to the MCU is Jeff Goldblum as the Grandmaster, overseer of the arena where Thor will eventually battle Hulk – Goldblum is quite likeable in this role, even if he often seems to end up playing himself. We get a good dose of the Hulk in this movie, as the Hulk – Mark Ruffalo gets to sink his teeth into Banner’s green alter-ego a little more than usual. Finally, Tessa Thompson stars as Valkyrie, a member of an elite cadre of Asgardian warrior women who ends up on the wrong side of the tracks, so to speak.

The spectacle is impressive and by now the effects well and truly polished. Added to this is a good soundtrack and some jokes that do manage to push the envelope for a 12A film, yet fall short of being truly out of line. This is, despite the stakes, Thor at his most relaxed, whilst the film bookends itself quite nicely and stays true to the idea of Ragnarok itself. I would dare say the film is worth it for Benedict Cumberbatch’s cameo at the start – which provides quite a bit of entertainment!


As I approach the two-month mark at my new career (wow, that’s gone by quick!) I find myself benefiting from a better understanding of who I am and what I can do. It’s natural to approach any new job with a little apprehension, so what I am doing is reminding myself, every day, that I will succeed and I will thrive. There’s no ‘can’, there is will.

It’s also natural to take a little time to settle in. There are people there who are more experienced than I am in this particular field and role, people who I am watching and modelling myself after, whilst reminding myself that there is no point in getting frustrated if I am not booking the same numbers as they are just yet. Of course I won’t be! Did David Beckham or Lionel Messi become brilliant the first time they kicked a ball? Or did they have to work at it? For that matter, they still have to work at it, as does every single person who is at the top of their field, because no one ever achieved anything by being static.

My approach has been to nail the quality. There are certain ‘non-negotiables’ (for us, options for customers) that we need to make sure we discuss with every customer, every time. My employers are savvy enough to know that there are some people who will say no to every option. However, if you don’t ask you will never get, plus, not mentioning these things is actually a disservice to the customer – how can they make an informed choice if they’re not aware of the options? With that in mind, my last few sales I’ve taken my time and absolutely nailed the options. They’ve been great orders, a serious reminder to myself of my abilities (I wasn’t top of several league tables at one of my previous sales roles for nothing), plus it provides a platform to push off from. I am looking forward to earning a lot of money here; now more than ever I know I will do it.

I am really unsure about this. A series of cardboard boxes that you build into shapes to use as equipment for games… riiiiight.

I mean yes, it’s different. It’s certainly innovative. Nintendo don’t lack for creativity and imagination. The trouble is, are these kits going to stack up (sigh) against the increasingly powerful and detailed games that Sony and Microsoft attract to their consoles? After being burned by the experiment that was the Wii U, Nintendo tried again with the Switch and have enjoyed considerable success – are they about to squander it by being too elaborate and clever with their theme?

Spoilers for Star Trek Discovery lurk here.























So, in the latest episode of Discovery, this happened:

What caused this rather bleak scene of destruction? A single Terran Empire ship. Since ships from the mirror universe are meant to, err, mirror their main counterparts, it’s therefore not unreasonable to assert that Federation ships of the era (ten years prior to the events of TOS) sport similar firepower. The exact mechanism here was a dozen or so photon torpedoes – no chain reactions or technobabble in sight, just the raw firepower from a single ship.

The planet’s surface is visibly cracked and scorched, with huge ejecta and massive fireballs. We’re looking at a significant portion of said surface, which now resembles what we might expect the earth to look like if we were hit by a large asteroid. This is thousands of gigatons of destructive power.

How does this affect anything you might ask? Well, for those of us who participated in Star Trek vs Star Wars circles, this opens up a new angle. For me, I have always held that the evidence had previously indicated a comfortable victory for the Empire from Star Wars, over the Federation from Star Trek. I might still hold to that view, in terms of the Empire’s industrial capacity, sheer numbers and FTL advantage, but now it appears (even more so when we look at the firepower of the dreadnought from The Last Jedi) that what was once a devastating victory is now a bitter and bloody war of attrition.

There are some caveats. The first question, I hear you ask, is that the Terran Empire is not the Federation. The capabilities of their ships might be different to their Federation counterparts. True, but then again, it’s been seen through various episodes of the franchise that the two universes are remarkably similar. There is no reason to assume the Terran Empire massively outperforms the Federation in terms of combat.

Next up, is the question of philosophy. The Terran Empire is a xenophobic entity, bent on subjegating and destroying alien species. They are a tyrannical regime, built on power and dominance. Might they have developed weapons that the Federation would never contemplate making? Perhaps, but then, this doesn’t preclude the Federation from making them, if they were truly compelled to.

What about the Dominion War? Yes, this was a desperate time for the Federation, but bear in mind that we never saw orbital bombardments. The only time we caught the aftermath of one was when the Breen attacked Starfleet HQ, which at the time showed very poor levels of firepower, from a power that was meant to rival the Federation. I have in the past held up this as an example (one of several) of poor firepower from the Federation and their equivalents. Might it be worth revisiting now, in the context of what we saw on Discovery?

This isn’t the only example that might need reconsidering. There is an episode of Deep Space Nine, The Die is Cast, which is used by both sides of the Trek vs Wars debate as either tremendous firepower or chain reactions, depending upon your interpretation. The answer might not be as simple as ‘choose a side’.

Consider for a moment that the Romulans and Cardassians (who in the episode attack the Founder home world, in a bid to wipe them out) were on a clandestine mission that, certainly in the case of the Cardassians, wasn’t sanctioned by their government, so it’s possible they didn’t have access to their full arsenal. It might be that they deliberately used some form of chain reaction effect, as, for whatever reason, they felt this was a better option than raw firepower.

Alternatively, what we saw on Discovery might have been torpedoes specifically modified to strike secure ground targets, or to cause extinction level events. Again, non-standard weapons, but ones that are certainly available. It could be that these are difficult to produce, or simply that the Federation is well aware they have the capacity to make them, only they consider it distasteful to produce such destructive weapons. Maybe these weapons would one-shot kill other Federation ships or even entire fleets. Bottom line, we don’t know. The fact remains, Discovery has given us one of the clearest, unambigious examples of firepower we could have asked for.

A short while ago I had a little discussion with one Virus-X on the topic of gun control, which ended when I twice attempted to post a comment to address some of the points he had raised, and twice saw my comment slip into a moderation queue, then disappear. Having been accused of dishonesty prior to this, I can’t say I was too impressed to then see my reply vanish. I subsequently posted it, and a summary of our gun discussion, right here, then followed this up a little while later with a critical look at his take on democracy. Virus-X has responded and my reply to his rebuttal will end up being posted directly to him, but it will also be posted here, so that an accurate record of the discussion exists – archiving via the Wayback Machine may also take place, for the sake of posterity. My original post regarding the issue of democracy can be found here.

So people are clear, Virus-X’s response to my article was added onto his original article – as before, I have placed his words in pink. Any quotations he makes from other sources will be in green.

Update:  Internet liberals took it upon themselves to criticize my page, and my disdain for socialism.  This is me fisking his long response that he tried to have me get into, on his own page.  I told him that if he had anything to say to me, next time, do it on my page, because I have no desire to go to  his.  I didn’t go to his page to challenge his viewpoint, he came to mine for that.  If you do that, you argue here, not elsewhere.  Anyhow, here’s the link to his blatherings that he believes I’m obligated to respond to, for context:

It ought to be noted straight away, for the sake of accuracy, that I do not believe he is obligated to respond to anything. That being said, the reason I posted to my own site rather than his is because of the previous, disappearing post fiasco on his gun post. Maybe there were technical gremlins that day, but for the same comment to twice disappear, after twice ending in a moderation queue where previously things had been ok, gave me cause to wonder if any further comments would get through. At any rate, he would have been immediately aware of my own post, thanks to WordPress setting up a ping whenever someone links to a page.

Like most apparent liberals, you choose to re-arrange language to suit your mood, at the moment. Nothing in the section you outlined even mentions the word “democracy”, and elections are not peculiar to democracies. Even communist governments have votes (but they’re just not for the people). Socialist governments, such as in the UK, have votes. Voting rights are not something that only exist in democracies. Apparently, you’re unfamiliar with basic history.




Benjamin Franklin (1706–90)


“Well, Doctor, what have we got—a Republic or a Monarchy?”“A Republic, if you can keep it.”


The response is attributed to BENJAMIN FRANKLIN—at the close of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, when queried as he left Independence Hall on the final day of deliberation—in the notes of Dr. James McHenry, one of Maryland’s delegates to the Convention.McHenry’s notes were first published in The American Historical Review,vol. 11, 1906, and the anecdote on p. 618 reads: “A lady asked Dr. Franklin Well Doctor what have we got a republic or a monarchy. A republic replied the Doctor if you can keep it.” When McHenry’s notes were included in The Records of the Federal Convention of 1787, ed. Max Farrand, vol. 3, appendix A, p. 85 (1911, reprinted 1934), a footnote stated that the date this anecdote was written is uncertain.




Benjamin Franklin Collection


For some reason, Franklin didn’t call the emerging government a “democracy”. Perhaps there is a difference? Again, in your mental dishonesty to twist arguments and gain 5 minutes of Internet fame, you avoid looking into such differences. Here, let me do the 30 seconds of footwork for you:

The weird table won’t go into quote bubbles, so apologies if things look a little askew. At any rate, before moving on, let’s define what a democracy is.The Cambridge Online Dictionary defines democracy as:

the belief in freedom and equality between people, or a system of governmentbased on this belief, in which power is either held by electedrepresentatives or directly by the people themselves:

The government has promised to uphold the principles of democracy.
The early 1990s saw the spread of democracy in EasternEurope.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary has this to say.
1 a: government by the people; especially: rule of the majority b: a government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised by them directly or indirectly through a system of representation usually involving periodically held free elections2: a political unit that has a democratic government

3capitalized: the principles and policies of the Democratic party in the U.S.

  • from emancipation Republicanism to New Deal Democracy
  • —C. M. Roberts4: the common people especially when constituting the source of political authority
5: the absence of hereditary or arbitrary class distinctions or privileges What system does the United States employ? Are there principles of equality, freedom and representation of the people, either directly or indirectly? The answer is a clear yes. Just because the US is not officially referred as a democracy doesn’t mean that democratic principles aren’t at work. The absence of the word from the Constitution is merely a poor attempt to split hairs. To take an example from later on, where Virus-X brings up Venezuela as an example of democracy. Interestingly, both the US and Venezuela are classed not as democracies but as presidential republics – if we are to turn Virus-X’s logic on its head, what does this say about the existing system in the US?
The answer here is obviously that it says nothing. Virus-X is attempting semantics, and arguments around semantics and minutia simply don’t hold water. Let’s move on.

It’s funny you should say that:

democracy only works if the ‘right’ candidate wins

because people that think like you (liberals) say exactly the same thing.


Isn’t that a coincidence? However, you can keep getting exercise walking the strawman, pretending elections are only aspects of democracies, and not republics and constitutional republics.

Quite aside from Virus-X taking my remark out of context, it is worth noting that both sides of the political divide will make the argument, however it’s also worth questioning the value of a system that allows the least popular candidate to win the election. That is in itself an irrelevance, since it does nothing to rebuke my argument that the US is a democracy. By definition, since free elections are held on a regular basis, the US is a democracy. Are democracies perfect? Of course not. Are they better than one-party communist states, theocracies and dictatorships? Absolutely. Nor does a democracy have to be called a democracy in order to be a democracy, so once again, Virus-X is splitting hairs.
“Cast your minds back to a discussion I had on the subject of guns and Constitutional rights. It appears that the Constitution is to be used selectively – we can apparently ignore it when it comes to support for representative ideals.”
Yep. And I just posted an article about how leftists are doing that very thing. However, this isn’t about guns, it’s about government types. Maybe you should try keeping on topic. If you want to talk about guns, that can be done in another thread.
It seems Virus-X either does not understand the point raised or is being deliberately obtuse. We’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and assume he didn’t get the point I was making, so I’ll clarify – on this occasion, he, as the staunch right-wing conservative (as other staunch conservatives have done) is quite happy to be selective with the parts of the Constitution he wishes to apply, and selective still further in other ways. Apparently the right to have access to lethal weapons with little in the way of checks and balances is absolutely immutable, yet the idea of representation and elections? He pours scorn on these ideals when he pours scorn on the democratic ideals the Constitution speaks of (and once more, for the record, the absence of the word doesn’t mean the principle doesn’t exist).

No, actually the gamut, if there is one, is coming from you. Since you’re quite obviously ignorant of the mechanics of government, I’ll educate you: representative government is not endemic only to democracies, but also constitutional republics, like the United States of America. What you’re doing is throwing out yet another strawman, in publishing what is a clear lie, stating:

“It appears the opening gambit is to accuse anyone who favours a system of representative rule of being an ‘unwashed leftie’, which, quite aside from being quite the insult to anyone who identifies as left wing, rather ignores all the right wing individuals who consider democracy to be a cornerstone of freedom.”

Allow me to educate Virus-X – a democracy is a system where two or more parties take part in free elections on a regular basis. This is not my definition, but rather the offcial definition of several dictionaries. Meanwhile, several former presidents, including Republican president George W Bush, had a few things to say about democracy:

Through much of the last century, America’s faith in freedom and democracy was a rock in a raging sea. Now it is a seed upon the wind, taking root in many nations. Our democratic faith is more than the creed of our country, it is the inborn hope of our humanity, an ideal we carry but do not own, a trust we bear and pass along. And even after nearly 225 years, we have a long way yet to travel.

I would hope Virus-X is not suggesting he knows better than a former president (and Republican at that). Then we have Ronald Reagan, who once said:

Democracy is worth dying for, because it’s the most deeply honorable form of government ever devised by man.

Read more at:

George Bush Sr (another Republican at that) is quoted as saying the following:

I’ll never apologize for the United States. Ever. I don’t care what the facts are,” Bush told about 200 members of his newly formed Coalition of American Nationalities, a group with representatives of ethnic backgrounds from about two dozen countries. Bush attributed his indiscriminate support for the nation to his belief that the United States is “the only hope for freedom and democracy” in the world and that “no other country is strong enough to lead the free world.”

I would imagine that presidents are required to have a reasonable understanding of the Constitution that they swear to uphold – and I would imagine they do in fact have a greater understanding of it than most.

There is more, a lot more, but given the aggressive tone that Virus-X directs toward me at almost every turn, plus (more seriously) the demands on my time (most importantly I am a father, also a husband, and I have recently started a new job), I don’t consider it worthwhile to delve into every last detail that Virus-X has seen fit to expand. Barring any dramatic changes to any one of a number of circumstances, I feel it is unlikely I’ll respond directly to him again, though we shall see.

The police station was busier in the morning as Adjoa and Stephen stepped into their office. They smiled and said their hellos to the other officers, who were getting themselves teas, coffees, and the energy drinks that Adjoa privately thought ranked among the most disgusting things ever invented. The two friends took to their chairs – Stephen yawned, and clasped a hand to his mouth, before smiling meekly. “Another rough night.”

“And morning too – mate, you have a stain on your tie.” Adjoa pointed to the dark patch on his blue and grey-striped tie.

“Ah, bugger, that would be Cassandra’s banana and strawberry puree. I’m running out of ties.” He slumped in his chair, spinning it around for a second. “She just refused point-blank to sleep through last night, kept wanting daddy cuddles. I feel completely shattered.”

Adjoa stifled a laugh. “You look it too.”

“Cheers!” Stephen did laugh, then logged onto his computer. “So, what will today bring?”

“A result on our autopsy hopefully.” Adjoa tapped at her own keyboard, getting herself logged in and set up.

“Whoa, what the hell?” Stephen muttered as he scrolled through his emails. “Have you got the message from the Coroner’s Office?”

Adjoa ran her eyes over the monitor, found one from Doctor Lewinson. As she started to read it, she wasn’t sure whether to be dismayed or not.

“No ID on our mystery man. Doctor Lewinson managed to get skin cells, enough to check the ID for the other man – one ‘Eric Cooper’.

“I guess we’d better do some research into Eric.” Replied Stephen. He logged a request for access to the Police National Computer.

“Wait, that’s odd…” Adjoa leaned in closer to the screen, making sure she was reading what she thought she was reading. “No ID on the mystery man, yet a request came in from ‘high-ranking sources’ to turn the body over to the ‘correct authorities’.”

“Whoa, that’s not right – that body is evidence in a murder investigation!”

Adjoa nodded. “It seems that the request was from very high up – they actually sent people to the morgue to take the body. Lewinson was ordered to comply.”

Stephen looked stunned. “According to this he quoted legal statutes and they just ignored them. Took the body.”

“Any clue as to who took the body?” Asked Adjoa.

“Wow! Um, MI5 did.”

As Stephen finished his sentence his computer pinged with the sound of an incoming email. A moment later Adjoa’s did likewise. They shared a wry glance.

“Someone’s leaned on the chief…” Began Adjoa. “We’re to close the case. National security!”

“Damn. Just when it was getting interesting.” Stephen failed to suppress yet another yawn. “Ah well, I guess it’s back to mundane police work.”

“Yeah.” Adjoa’s muted reaction caught Stephen’s attention.

“I know that ‘yeah’.” He replied.

“Yeah?” Answered Adjoa with a trace of mischief.

“Yeah! It’s the ‘yeah’ that means ‘I’m annoyed at not solving this one, and I want to dig deeper’.”

Adjoa grinned. “Oh come on! MI5, you have to be curious.”

“Not curious enough to stick my nose into it!”

Adjoa faked a harrumph. “Spoil sport.”


The desk had been replaced when Lanker walked back into his office, with a like-for-like swap. As always he was quietly impressed at how efficiently people would work when good money was dangled at them – the black glass was polished, matching his shoes, and the integrated computer panel and screen had been seamlessly transferred as well. Behind him his assistant fell into lockstep, and then stood, waiting as Lanker eased himself into his chair.

“What is your progress on the breach?”

“We thi… we have a lead. The person who breached our systems was good, but we’ve traced the original terminal to someone in C Division. A ‘Sarah Whitfield’. She didn’t clock in this morning.”

“Interesting. I take it you have already prepared a file on her?”

“Yes sir, it’s in your private email. Sir… according to what we could find out, she’s a plant.” The man waited to be scolded, his eyes filled with worry.

Lanker stood slowly, and turned to look out over the Docks, recalling his conversation with the assistant the other day. He wanted to hit the desk, but it simply wouldn’t do to suffer another embarrassing loss of control. Instead, he took a deep breath.

“So, somehow, someone penetrated our security measures, to get inside our organisation. What makes you sure she is a plant?”

“Her record is too clean sir. Absolutely perfect records in her previous jobs, nothing out of the ordinary in her personal life, and as far as we can tell, her school and university records were inserted into databases for us to find. It was done very professionally, so a cursory glance wouldn’t pick it up.”

Lanker span around on his heel, facing his assistant. “When this matter is finally resolved, we will need to sit down and discuss these lapses in security.” He said neutrally. “For the moment, I want you to use every resource available to finding this, ‘Sarah Whitfield’. We must seal this breach.”

“Yessir, I will get on it right away.” The assistant hastily nodded, backing away as fast as he could. Lanker withheld his disappointed grimace until after the other man had left the office. After waiting a few moments, he sat down at his desk and stabbed a button with his finger.

“I was hoping you would make contact. I can confirm Eric Cooper is dead, however the USB drive is still missing.” The androgynous voice said.

“That is not the only development. I am sending you all the details we have on an agent planted into the organisation. The company will devote its resources to finding her, but any further details you can provide will be appreciated.”

“I shall investigate. There is more news. I have retrieved our operative’s body, so the police cannot interfere. They have been ordered to drop the case.”

“Good. It would seem we are nearly there my friend. Phase two is ready.”

“Excellent. I look forward to seeing it in action.”


Dawn began to break and Rob yawned, briefly and blissfully unaware of the events that had led him to the little Travelodge near King’s Cross station. That moment of happy ignorance faded as he took in the simple surroundings of the hotel room, and it was further punctured by the steady wheezing sound coming from the bed next to his. Peter was still asleep, snoring quite loudly. With the waking world returning all too quickly came certain realisations – they were fugitives, hiding from some powerful people, in a city full of cameras, with his wife by this point likely scared and very much alone. Then there was the little detail that they had lost Eric.

“Shit.” He summed up his night in that one simple word and ran a hand over his face. Stubble met his fingers and he sighed, all too aware that he had no razor; he detested facial hair on himself, it made him feel itchy and dirty. Looking over at Peter, Rob marveled at how his friend could sleep so well. For Rob, his rest had been fitful and when he had finally slept properly, dreams of armed guards smashing through their hotel door had woken him again. With a small intake of breath he swung his feet out over the bed and got up to use the toilet.

“Making enough noise?” Muttered Peter, who rolled over to face Rob, his eyes still half-closed.

“I need to piss alright?” Rob snapped back. He wasn’t in the mood for Peter’s usual sour attitude.

“Hmmpf.” Murmured Peter.

Rob took care of business and rinsed his mouth out with water. He hated not being able to brush his teeth almost as much as not being able to shave. Worst two parts of active duty… When finished he emerged from the small bathroom and saw Peter was already getting dressed. Peter looked up at him. “8.45am, still time to grab breakfast.”

Rob shook his head. “You want to go and sit with all those people and all that CCTV? Might as well call up MI5 myself.”

“Don’t be stupid. Last thing they’ll expect is for us to be in plain sight. Besides, I can’t work on an empty stomach. Come on.”


Training kicked in. Rob quelled his nerves as he and Peter made their way to the little breakfast bar and handed over the cash to pay for their food. Peter immediately went for the full English, tucking in with gusto and replacing his tea almost as soon as he’d finished his first cup. Rob couldn’t help but grin as he spooned cereal into his mouth.

“What?” Asked Peter around a mouthful of bacon.

“How do you do it?” Asked Rob.

“How do I do what?” Replied Peter, a little tartly.

“How do you stay so… well, you, throughout everything?”

Peter stuck his fork into one of his sausages. “You have to don’t you? Otherwise everything catches up. When we’re back in the room I’ll take a look at that thing, see what I can do with it.”

“Sure. How do you think Eric is?”

“He can handle himself. Bet he’s given someone a black eye by now.”


There was never truly anywhere that was private in MI5 headquarters. The nature of their work meant cameras, microphones and other devices were everywhere. It was ironic to everyone in one sense – the expectation of complete transparency in a place where they were trained to conceal everything. It meant cameras picked up agent Harris’ miserable expression as the medical officer examined Eric Cooper’s body in the on-site medical centre. Bevin stood to one side, arms folded, impassive.

“I’m afraid…” The doctor began, as he looked over the paperwork in his hand. “… that the toxicology report is verified and correct. Mr Cooper was given some form of toxin that triggered heart failure.”

“That’s not possible.!” Harris began, but Bevin silenced him with a glare.

“Doctor, could the drug that did this be confused with any of the truth drugs we keep here?” He asked quietly.

The older man peered at Bevin over his glasses. “Definitely. Quite a few of these pills look similar. They should all be labelled correctly to avoid this sort of thing.”

Bevin stared down at Eric. “I’m sorry.” He looked back up at Harris and the doctor. “This man fought for his country and died believing he still was. He’s left behind a wife, and now someone is going to have to find a way to break this terrible news to her. All because of what, a mistake?” Anger was getting into his tone. With a deep breath Bevin forced it away. “Harris, we will be called up to give official accounts of what happened. My advice is to be calm and give them every detail.”

“Yes, of course.” The young man had gone pale.

“Doctor, thank you for your time.” Bevin gave a wan smile, shook the man’s hand, then the two agents left.

To Chapter 14

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