Sunday, 28 February 2010
Saturday, 27 February 2010
Friday, 26 February 2010
The killer whale that drowned his female trainer yesterday will not be put down even though he has been involved in two other human deaths, according to staff at SeaWorld in Florida."Involved in two other human deaths?" What the deuce does that mean? He was driving the getaway car? Hid the murder weapon? Gave the killer an alibi?
In other news, Tillikum vows to spend the rest of his life tracking down the real culprit.
Update: On the other hand,be grateful he's doing his bit to Save The PlanetTM–otherwise, we're ALL DOOMED! Really, Dr Beddington, this is sort of fear mongering is almost quaint. Pity about all the tax and grant money wasted on this sort of watermelon nonsense (green on the outside, red on the inside) sailing under false scientific colours.
I particularly like his calling Belgium a non-country. It may seem a bit harsh, but what can you expect of a nation where (no joke) back in the '80s one party wanted to abolish the Belgian armed forces and replace them with an answering machine with the message "We surrender"?
"You can't do that! What happens if there's a war?"
"Same thing that happens every time; we lose. But at least it'll be on the cheap."
Thursday, 25 February 2010
'Choose women, gay and disabled judges over white, middle-class men'How can we suffer such timid half measures in a go-ahead, non-judgmental, tolerant, post-modern society? Why not just bar white, middle-class men from being judges at all? Better yet, make it illegal for them to vote, own property, hold any public office, or any private executive position? Or indeed, to show their foul, racist, class-ridden, patriarchal faces in public under any circumstances?
Universal castration and selected street executions for the least enlightened will, of course, be phased in gradually.
Then, and only then, will we have Social Justice.
In related news: In the words of Dr Heinz Kiosk, his eyes revolving rapidly in opposite directions, WE ARE ALL GUILTY!
Our job is to change reality, to challenge it, not prove it and explain it.Change reality. Right. Glad we've got that out of the way. It gets better:
But there is more. We do more than all that. We must remember the arts do more than just that. We process experience and make experience available and understandable. We change people's lives, at the risk of our own. We change countries, governments, history, gravity. After gravity, culture is the thing that holds humanity in place, in an otherwise constantly shifting and, let's face it, tiny outcrop in the middle of an infinity of nowhere.Change governments? History? Gravity? Reality itself? And all that at the risk of her own life? What does Miss Blanchett do in her spare time?
Frankly, I think she's overreaching herself here. In all my years as an actor and writer my performances, plays, and stories have only resulted in a cabinet reshuffle in the Balkans, the shortening of the Franco-Prussian War by four days, a 0.002 percent increase in the gravitational pull of Sirius, and a slight reorganisation of the space-time continuum resulting in a minor alteration of the strong nuclear force. As to risk, I don't know about my life, but my ulcer has been acting up over the past week.
Maybe Oscars are some sort of force multiplier. But then, Miss Blanchett isn't one of those "unimportant" people eking out their "brief, limited, unimportant lives."
Lord love a duck.
Wednesday, 24 February 2010
It turns out that it's nothing but an old wive's tale that's left perfectly good fuel sitting about in ponds for decades when it could be generating lovely electricity.
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
That was the signal to bail before the cops came to seize the computers.
Monday, 22 February 2010
This has all the hallmarks of modern European architecture: aloof when not openly hostile, overscaled, cartoony, something you would see in the margins of a fever dream.I bow to no one in my admiration of Mr Lileks, but "not openly hostile"? It would have to have machine-gun ports every twenty feet and Orcs stationed on the roof to be any more hostile! The thing is covered with spikes, for heaven's sake!
Nasty psychiatrissstss! Hates them, my precious! They locks uss up in padded cell! They makes uss look at inkblotsss! Tricksy, sly inkblotsss! Nasty Elvish pills burnsss our throat!I can relate to that.
Yesss We Hatesss themsss Evil oness yess my preciousss we hatess themsss
But They Helpsss us!
No they hurtsss usss, hurtsss usss sore!
Sweden becomes a dangerous place for Jews thanks to open collaboration between Jihadists and Leftists, Norwegian women are urged to wear hijabs "for their own protection", gangs of "youths" turn car burning into a French pastime, self-censorship is the order of the day across the Continent, and a member of the Dutch parliament is on trial for what amounts to violating Sharia. And in the middle of all this, the common message of government and media is, "Move along; nothing to see here." I've been saying for years that the longer we leave the problem of Jihadism in Europe and keep pretending that multiculturalism and unrestricted immigration will do nothing but provide exciting cuisine, then bad choices will only give way to intolerable choices, and then having impossible choices thrust upon us. After that, the only choice left will be stand or run–and that applies to moderate Muslims who wish to remain free as well as Infidels.
Welcome to the road to civil war.
Remember when human rights was about protecting people from being lorded over by tiny minorities? Now it's about aiding the neo-artistos in their lording.
Sunday, 21 February 2010
Saturday, 20 February 2010
Friday, 19 February 2010
Picking up where 2001: a Space Odyssey left off, 2010 opens with Dr Heywood Floyd learning that the abandoned spaceship Discovery with all its data about its ill-fated expedition is in a decaying orbit and will crash into Jupiter before the next American expedition can reach it. However, a Soviet ship will get there a year earlier and so Floyd, the designer of Discovery, and the man who built the homicidal Hal 9000 hitch a ride on the Soviet Leonov.
Not surprisingly, 2010 doesn't hold a candle to its predecessor, though you can't fault the director, who undertook the herculean task of re-building all the sets and props that Kubrick insisted be destroyed back in 1968 to prevent them being reused in other sci-fi films. Unfortunately, attention to that sort of detail doesn't necessarily make for a good film–especially when all the other costumes, props, and models look like they came from a completely different universe. Imagine if the makers of Star Trek kept confusing it with Star Wars and you get the idea. It also doesn't help that without Stanley Kubrick's cynicism and vision, Sir Arthur fell back on his own admirable, but overly tidy imagination that resulted in the transcendent mysticism of the first film falling sequel by sequel in this film and the novels into more and more pedestrian (and manageable) explanations about what was behind all the mysteries.
What many people might find interesting in the real 2010 AD is how far off the mark the film version is. I don't believe for one minute that Sir Arthur seriously thought the Russians would be building spaceships the size of frigates by now, but I'm sure he hoped so. What he probably didn't believe was that the Americans would start a new manned spacecraft programme and then abandon it (both being right decisions made for disastrously wrong reasons), that said spacecraft would be merely an supersized Apollo capsule while all the other versions public and private around the world would be merely updated versions of the Soyuz. Nor that the world's only space station would be built merely as an exercise in building a space station. Mind you, I'm not sure what to make of Pan Am going out of business or the notion that the Hal 9000 uses a Kaypro keyboard or that modern monitors would be the size of 30-inch CRT televisions circa 1995.
Unlike most other sci-fi writers of the Golden Age, Sir Arthur's politics aren't very easy to deduce. Or rather, they aren't until you realise that he didn't actually have any politics as such. If Sir Arthur did have any, it was that politics of any stripe is merely a temporary state of affairs until Science got a proper grip on the world and all that petty squabble would just melt away. Despite having folded like wet cardboard in 1991, the Soviet Union in 2010 is still going strong and the Cold War hasn't shifted an inch since 1984. In fact, the USA and USSR are still happily playing brinksmanship over Central America and teetering on the edge of nuclear war, so the last 26 years must have been awful "samey". That doesn't matter to the Americans and Soviets aboard the Leonov, though. That's because they're all Scientists with a capital letter. In fact, everyone in the cast is a Scientist. I even suspect that Dr Floyd's five-year old son is a Scientist, but hasn't finished his thesis yet. True, there is tension in orbit around Jupiter, but only because the Earthmen are obliged to follow the orders of their unenlightened countrymen. Left to themselves, the Soviets and Americans get along fine because Science is ever and always the objective and selfless pursuit of the truth in which politics has no place. It isn't that our heroes disagree with their governments, they can't even see the point of posing the question.
There's something charming about Sir Arthur's attitude–or would be if it didn't require him to indulge in moral equivalence to work. Even back in the 1950s in novels such as Childhood's End and Earthlight he couldn't imagine an enemy who might actually be ruthless and totalitarian or that the Cold War might have something to do with the Communists being really, really nasty. In 2010 I can't help but think that the commissar at Baikanour has fallen down on the job and is slated for a one-ounce retirement package in the back of the head. Surely the crew of a major Soviet spacecraft would have been chosen first and foremost for political reliability (fanaticism) before technical competence.
More to the point, Sir Arthur always struck me as being a bit naive when it came to science being apolitical and altruistic. You would have thought that Lysenkoism and Eugenics would have put paid to that. These days, what with the radical environmentalism of Rachel Carson et al and the tens of millions of deaths they've caused exposed to the world, the sexually self-serving fraud of Margaret Mead, and the on-going scandal of Climategate it's obvious that scientists are just as vulnerable to the corrupting temptations of money, power, status, and ideology as any politician.
That was true in 1984. It was true in 2001. And it is true in 2010.
Thursday, 18 February 2010
Wednesday, 17 February 2010
I guess the Yellow Peril is a respectable phobia so long as it's expounded by Leftist academics.
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
Monday, 15 February 2010
If she dies, someone should go to jail. And I mean the pencil-pushers behind this obscenity.
I’d like to overthrow the government.Their efforts included a story that was a thinly veiled call for Margaret Thatcher to be overthrown by a worker's revolt and an anti-nuclear speech delivered by the Doctor courtesy of CND.
The amazing thing about this story is that it claimed that nobody noticed at the time. If so, it can only because they didn't see the episodes, because I did at the time and being hit over the head with a clown hammer would have been more subtle.
The only thing sadder than Doctor Who limping toward its grave in the late '80s was watching it do so while squeaking pathetic Trotskyite tirades.
St. Valentine's Day (or Valentine's Day or Val Day or VD or whatever) I couldn't stomach when I was single. If I didn't have a girlfriend at the time, it was a tactless reminder that my evenings revolved around B movies and beer, and if I did have one, it reminded me that I was one forgotten bunch of roses from the B&B routine. Now that I'm a family man, it means that I have a pre-scheduled appointment to rekindle romance on a day when the hand of Fate are sure to throw the banana skin of Destiny under my foot.
This year, for example, Der Tag corresponded with a load of insane (and ill-paying) writing gigs, my daughter's midwinter school holidays, and our having to babysit my in-laws dogs. The latter are nice enough canines, though the lab is square in the stupid-but-affectionate category and the border collie is a frustrated lap dog. Add in our own miniature pack (one neurotic and the other jealous) and a seven-year old girl and Chez Szondy was about as peaceful as a Lord of the Flies reunion dinner.
Then there are the absurdities of buying Valentine presents. There was a time when buying something flash like a gold necklace was a winning impulse, but now the wedding band on my left hand is a reminder that the lolly is coming out of company funds and that my better half does the books, so I have to walk a fine line between not showing enough affection and blowing the family budget. So there I was in the local Barnes and Nobles looking for the right gift at the right price.
Have you looked in a bookshop around Valentine's Day? I couldn't' believe it. I expected leather bound copies of Romeo and Juliet and slushy gift books that cost about a quid a page, but I was not prepared for what was on offered. Lovers of History Who Died Horrible Deaths? Vampire Sex Manual? Great Hook Up Lines That Will Bypass Her Frontal Lobes and Head Straight For the amygdala? It's not so much shocking as being back at one of those thirtysomething parties I referred to earlier.
Despite what was cavorting on the display tables like Dutch window girls past their sell by date, I happen to like book shops and very few things bring me more peace than idly thumbing through the tomes–especially if there's a coffee shop attached where I can revive the tissues. Unfortunately, it also means that I start channeling my inner James May, which is not the best match for looking for romantic prezzies. "Oh, look, there's a book on trainspotting and there's a the collected Barsoom novels of Edgar Rice Burroughs. Now where's that Kama Sutra?"
Just doesn't work.
What also doesn't work is that home life is rarely conducive to maintaining a romantic mood. Take the other evening when my wife was inspecting our daughter's ant colony and fell for the old "Missus! Come look at me mate! I think he's sick or something!" Long story short, she opened the lid of the colony to rescue what she thought was an ant in distress only to have the little arthropod make a break for it across the dresser top. I was summoned to recapture the fugitive, which I did, and as I returned him to the colony while being as gentle as possible with that fragile little life the minute bastard sunk his jaws into my fingertip and pumped half his body weight's worth of formic acid into it. Within five minutes, my finger felt as if someone was pounding it repeatedly with a hammer and deriving a great deal of satisfaction from it.
Do you know what you can do for an ant bite? Absolutely bloody nothing. All you can do is let it run it's course, which in practical terms translates into sitting there with tears streaming down your face while the wife asks you what's wrong and if you want to go to hospital. That, of course, is not an option because all that will happen is that the medicos will tell you to stick your finger in ice water which means that instead of having a finger throbbing with pain, you'll have a very cold finger throbbing with pain. So, I took the coward's way out and downed an Excedrin PM; not because I thought it would relieve the pain, but because it would put me in a drug induced coma where I wouldn't care.
I awoke from this several hours later with a finger that no longer hurting, but still uncomfortably numb so that typing the letters F, R, T, G, V, B, D, and the numbers 5 and 6 is extremely unpleasant. At least it doesn't include any vowels, so small blessings must be counted.
Another thing that doesn't help one stay in the Orphean mood is that the "reimagined" version of Survivors aired last night on BBC America. Regular readers of this column know where this is going. I have little love for modern television in general, the BBC in particular that has fallen so far from its halcyon days of The Pallisars et al, and of remakes especially. My dislike of the latter is so great that my wife often asks me, "What do you want them to do? Just repeat the original episodes?" To which my reply is an emphatic "Yes!"
I rather liked the original version of Survivors back in 1975. The idea of a series where a Red Chinese biowar virus is accidentally released, destroys most of the world's population, and leaves the British Isles with a surviving population of roughly 10,000 was an intriguing idea, though it lacked enough technophobic vampires for my taste–more in the vein of the British quiet catastrophe. It was well-written, well-acted and generally believable, though, produced during the heyday of the self-sufficiency fad, it did overestimate the difficulty of basic living in a depopulated Britain. With warehouses stocked with food and plenty of petrol still to be had to run tractors, it was never explained why our heroes, only a few weeks after the disaster, are struggling to plough fields with horses and grinding flour with a mortar and pestle instead of concentrating on more important things like securing machinery, spare parts, or fuel. Why spend time fixing old machines when new ones are there for the asking? Or why the only weapons they have are shot guns when Sterlings and mortars are only an Army base and a crowbar away.
Compared to the modern version, though the 1975 original was Hamlet. Where the original explained the entire back story of the plague during the opening credits, the remake took approximately the time required for the Alps to form. Where the original killed off the world's population in 20 minutes of screen time, the remake goes into agonising, excruciating detail as I swear I saw all six billion victims expire one by one. Or did it only seem that way? Of course, everything is accompanied by incessant background music including a sad piano tune that was repeated so often that it is surely grounds for prosecution, shaky camera work, and that character-circling cameraman-chased-by-a-badger shot that I thought was placed under a moratorium back in 2005.
And the cast. Oh, Lord the cast! This being the 21st century BBC, Survivors wasn't cast so much with dramatic possibilities in mind as in making sure that the multiculti quotas are all filled and give the impression that the non-white percentage of the British population is approximately that of South Africa. This is rather difficult on a show where you posit a survival rate of 1 in 5000. With those sort of odds, and the fact that non-whites make up about 8 percent of the population and that most of those are in cities where a pandemic would cause the most damage, it's most likely that Survivors would have a cast whiter than the audience at an Osmonds concert. The racism and condescension behind this sort of casting gets on my wick. I wouldn't mind if the BBC did this out of poetic licence. Hell, if including Patterson Joseph, the only decent actor in this train wreck, means indulging in poetic licence, then I'll vote for one that can bend the space time continuum. Or if it had been for some dramatic reason to make some sort of point germane to the plot, it might have been justifiable. But instead the BBC rolls out a tiresome checklist that could come from any other programme on the schedule where the sole purpose is not be "hideously white", bourgeois, or to look anything like Middle Britain. There is the,
- Middlesex banker's wife heroine becomes Scottish lower middle class.
- The Saudi playboy with the perpetual metrosexual stubble
- A character who in the original was a shifty, middle aged Welsh tramp and is now a hunky English killer with a MYSTERIOUS PAST
- The white helicopter pilot who is now a black survivalist
- A devout Muslim boy who will no doubt act as the moral conscience of the show
- The obligatory black person in a position of ultimate authority (also female for bonus points)
- The doctor who is the obligatory homosexual
- Tweedy boy's school teacher becomes Outward Bound hiking instructor
- The selfish trollop becomes, no prizes, the selfish trollop
- And, of course, The Others. Sorry, the ones in the sinister Laboratory.
This isn't so much Survivors as Lost with a Survivors' twist. The characters aren't characters from whom plots grow organically. They're not even plausible. I could believe George Baker's trade unionist as the would-be dictator in the original, but an undersecretary of media relations or whatever she was as the 21st century Cromwell? Pull the other one. They're a collection of quirks and traits to hang soap opera complications on. And where the original was a tragedy of losing a comfortable old world that morphs into the adventure of building a new world, this is the destruction of a degenerate and unpleasant world that morphs into the pointless meanderings of a load of emotional cripples.
The original made the audience pine for what was lost while making them curious with what sort of world is to come and it did so with great economy. It also provided us with characters who are believable and for whom we can develop sympathies. In the remake, we have a slow, turgid exploration of characters who aren't worth the effort. They are shallow, stereotypical, overacted, emotionally incontinent, overacted, pointlessly motivated, overacted, self-centred, overacted, humourless, overacted, and overacted. The new version pretends to have mysteries and dilemmas, but the mysteries turn out to be conundrums that once revealed fail to move the plot forward one iota and dilemmas that are nothing but a means for the producers to stave off the inevitable moment when the audience realises that the story is going absolutely nowhere. If there is any premise to this series, it is not about the fragility of civilisation, but rather a Minitruth warning to the inmates of the nanny state about how horrible it would be if The Party that is mother and father to them went away.
In other words, there wasn't anything worth watching on the telly.
The upshot of all this is that St. Valentine's Day is just too complicated to become romantic on command, so we're going to have our own SVD when the mood strikes us.
Let's just hope it isn't in the produce section again down the Safeway. Last time the magistrate didn't have much of a sense of humour about it.
Saturday, 13 February 2010
Friday, 12 February 2010
Thursday, 11 February 2010
I am not anti-immigration (just anti-uncontrolled immigration), but when a government deliberately conspires to import an alien culture for its own ends while lying that there wasn't anything they could do about it, then why Mr Gordon Brown et al aren't cooling their heels in the Tower is beyond me.
I give the whole rotten EU edifice another ten years before it comes apart at the seams.
It isn't often that one stumbles across this sort of Wellsian thinking these days. It rather reminds me of this exchange from Out of the Silent Planet where our hero Ransom is translating a speech by the villainous fellow-Earthman Weston for the benefit of his Martian audience:
“Life is greater than any system of morality; her claims are absolute. It is not by tribal taboos and copy-book maxims that she has pursued her relentless march from the amoeba to man and from man to civilization.”
“He says,” began Ransom, “That living creatures are stronger than the question whether an act is bent or good—no, that cannot be right— he says it is better to be alive and bent than to be dead—no—he says, he says—I cannot say what he says, Oyarsa, in your language. But he goes on to say that the only good thing is that there should be very many creatures alive He says there were many other animals before the first men and the later ones were better than the earlier ones; but he says the animals were not born because of what is said to the young about bent and good action by their elders. And he says these animals did not feel any pity.”
Doesn't quite come across the same when plain language changes a ringing call for a cosmic crusade into advocacy of an intergalactic sneeze.
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
I don't watch the Superbowl (I prefer real sports like rugby or chainsaw catching), so this advert is new to me. I have no idea who this is supposed to appeal to, except perhaps Outer Party members who somehow imagine that buying Minieco-approved cars will save them from Room 101–for now.
Some see this as another encroachment on sovereignty, but I hail it as a great leap forward in promoting effiency in the marketplace. At one go I can ignore the two things I have the least time for: the EU and organic food.
4: At the conclusion of every financial year, an auction should be held at which are sold all items of taxpayer-funded art (in the case of musical, cinematic or literary artforms, the copyright shall be auctioned). Should the highest bid exceed the amount of funding, the artist pockets the difference. If the highest bid falls short, the artist must repay the difference.
5: By working at McDonald’s.