Monday, 16 November 2009

Doctor Who 4.16 The Waters Of Mars

The Waters Of Mars is the penultimate story (if not episode) for the Tenth Doctor, and is even more foreboding and dark than the end of the Fourth Doctor.

The Doctor lands on Mars, a year after humanities first Martian colony has been established. In order for humanity to thrive, the Martian colony must be destroyed which leaves the Doctor in the awkward situation of being his ever nosey self whilst understanding he must allow the colonists to meet their fate. When the Doctor finally does interfere in a fit of megalomania, he manages to save three of the colonists but still loses his battle with time.

The Doctor is at his very worst in this episode, depressed and morose at the start and pompous and unduly confident near the end. These emotions have always been the flipside of the bubbly, enthusiastic Tenth Doctor and are appropriate, if depressing, for one of his final adventures.

The acting was great, the storyline slick, and the ending deeply moving. And, as a Doctor Who fan, the ringing of the Cloister Bell as the Doctor screams defiance at his end was electrifying.

I'll be sad to see the Tenth Doctor go, but all good things must come to an end... roll on Christmas!

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Thursday, 12 November 2009

The House Of Lords: Good For Something?

I don't believe in "hate crimes". I believe that some crimes occur purely because of irrational hate, but that that doesn't mean they should be treated any differently to other crimes. I understand that I am in the minority on the left, and in the gay "community", but I feel my belief in equality before the law is something I can't compromise.

The Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006 was thankfully watered down in the House of Lords. Now the Coroners and Justice Bill is going the same way and clauses have been added to protect freedom of speech.

I'm in uncomfortable company when disliking these sort of laws (with the racists, the fundamentalists, the Tories, the insane and the nasty) but fundamentally I believe we should be able to speak freely, however much we might offend each other. Inciting VIOLENCE should always be a crime... whoever it is against. But we should not pick out certain groups for special protection from hatred, when hatred is sadly a common feature of daily life for a huge group of people. We all need equal protection for crime.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

The Age Of Forgetting

Today is Armistice Day, commemorating the end of the First World War. Here in Britain we wear poppies as a sign of respect (and as a way of helping out veterans and their dependants through the Royal British Legion and the Earl Haig Fund Scotland). Well that was the idea.

Sadly today I looked around and found I was the only person in a rather busy carriage of a westbound District Line train to be wearing one. Even on the way to work, discounting the rather glorious sight of pretty much every girl from a local school wearing one, I was taken aback at the sheer lack of poppies.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a poppy Nazi. I don't expect people to wear poppies by coercion. I was just shocked that so few had chosen of their own free will to wear one.

Then at work the subject was brought up by my only other poppy wearing colleague. We hoped the company would observe the 2 minute silence at 11a.m. We were pleased to hear that the silence would be started and finished by the sounding of fire alarm, but confused when we were told "If people don't feel comfortable with observing the silence they don't have to". Confused I wondered who might not feel comfortable with it, to find several people wouldn't but they didn't offer an explanation (and I didn't pry, again I'm not the Remembrance police).

When the time came just three of us in an office of 30 observed the two minutes silence as all around us others chatted, dealt with tenants and phoned colleagues in other departments.

I don't really know what to make of it. You can't force people to do things they don't want to do. But... but part of me feels sickened by the total lack of respect for those who lost their lives in the war (and all the rest of the wars too). I can't help it. It feels wrong to feel so strongly on something like this, as I do tend to dislike overt patriotism and strongly held beliefs in general but there's something inside me that recoils at this insult to the memory of our ancestors.

However, part of me knows the reason isn't disrespect. It's ignorance. Most of the people I work with, perhaps most of the people in this country, couldn't tell you much about the First World War except perhaps it involved the British and the Germans and trenches. It's as foreign to them as is the War of the Pacific or the Anglo-Afghan Wars.

Which scares me somewhat given that the First World War was caused mainly by a general ignorance of what it would involve. That ignorance infected every echelon of society and lead to deaths of millions. Let's hope we don't forget our past totally and blunder into yet another bloodbath.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

The Sun's Done It Again

As anyone who knows me knows, I hate The Sun. It is a singularly foul mouthed rag masquerading as a newspaper. Now that I've declared my position let us begin...

Grief. It's an awful emotion. When one is struck by the loss of someone very close to you, as most of us have been, the vast amount of conflicting emotions can overwealm you. There is often anger mixed up with grief, usually at yourself and perhaps some missed opportunity for a final goodbye, which can manifest itself in ugly and unpleasant ways.

There is no doubting the grief of the mother of Guardsman Jamie Janes, who sadly lost his life in the conflict in Afghanistan. And it is somewhat unsurpising that something as seemingly insignificant as bad handwriting might, thanks to her grief, arouse her anger at a Prime Minister who presides over the very conflict that killed her son. This is all clear enough, and somewhat understandable. Despite my feeling she was being unreasonable, I find it hard to blame a grieving parent for almost any action they made in the months following the death of their child.

The Sun however has no such excuse. I'm no friend of The Sun, but I'm also no friend of Gordon Brown. But surely even those of us who dislike the Prime Minister cannot fail to be slightly forgiving towards him should he make a mistake/a mess whilst taking the time to write a personal message to the family of one our armed forces fallen? I find it rather disgusting that the Sun would choose to exploit this woman's grief and the death of a soldier to score cheap political points.

But then again... this is The Sun... what else should one expect?

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Monday, 9 November 2009

The End Of History

Today marks 20 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. It happened so suddenly that Helmut Kohl, the German Chancellor, was out of the country and even George Bush Snr. admits that nobody in the west had even an inkling of what was coming despite the refugee crisis that proceeded it's collapse. Whilst the fall of the wall does not mark "The End Of History" as proclaimed by Francis Fukuyama, it does, for me, mark the end of a period of history. And I'm not talking about just the Cold War. It serves as a bookend to a era started by another singularly unexpected event... the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand back in 1914. The outbreak of the First World War was the opening salvo in a European civil war which brought misery to our continent until finally the Berlin Wall fell and brought about the beginning of the end of a dark era in our history.

And just as few people know much about European history in the years leading up to the First World War (the early years of the 20th Century are fascinating mainly for bearing very little resemblance to the world that was to follow... the First World War changed everything), the history of the Cold War ends (for many) at the point of the wall falling. Few remember the bloody events in Romania in December 1989 and fewer still know the story of the final collapse of the Soviet Union two years later. The fall of the Berlin Wall may have been just one event among many but it served as a mental shorthand for everything that followed (and a little of what proceeded it).

Despite this, it really was a momentous event in it's own right... brought about by a bureaucratic slip up at a press conference and seen through peacefully thanks to the determination of the East Berlin populace and the good sense of the East German guards who finally stood aside. If even one of them had decided to make a stand, however unlikely that might seem, we might look upon this date as something quite different.

20 years ago, our continent finally set about healing long held wounds and began the process of moving forward again into a new era... that is why we should be proud of the achievements of the people of Berlin that day. And very grateful too.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Jurassic Park IV?

An old interview with Joe Johnston gives renewed hope to constantly postponed fourth outing for Jurassic Park IV.

"There is a great story for the fourth one that I would be interested in getting involved with, and it's nothing like the first three," Johnston told the site. "It sort of takes the franchise off in a completely different direction, which is the only way I would want to get involved."

He added that it likely won't be another storyline about a group of people struggling to survive a dinosaur attack. "We've done that, and it's been done three times..."

The site commented that they should stay away from an island setting this time. "Why would anybody go back to that island?" Johnston said. "It was hard enough to figure out the second and third reason for them to go, but it would take it off in a whole other trilogy basically, but when it gets to that level it's sort of about studios and Steven [Spielberg's] thing and who knows. I think we are at that point where we are due for another one if we are going to do it." - Source: Dread Central

File this one under the "I pray this movie gets made but probably never will".

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

For The Fallen - Laurence Binyon

With proud thanksgiving, a mother for her children,
England mourns for her dead across the sea.
Flesh of her flesh they were, spirit of her spirit,
Fallen in the cause of the free.

Solemn the drums thrill: Death august and royal
Sings sorrow up into immortal spheres.
There is music in the midst of desolation
And a glory that shines upon our tears.

They went with songs to the battle, they were young,
Straight of limb, true of eye, steady and aglow.
They were staunch to the end against odds uncounted,
They fell with their faces to the foe.

They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old;
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

They mingle not with their laughing comrades again;
They sit no more at familiar tables at home;
They have no lot in our labour of the day-time;
They sleep beyond England's foam.

But where our desires are and our hopes profound,
Felt as a well-spring that is hidden from sight,
To the innermost heart of their own land they are known
As the stars are known to the Night;

As the stars that shall be bright when we are dust,
Moving in marches upon the heavenly plain,
As the stars that are starry in the time of our darkness,
To the end, to the end, they remain.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist

Sunday, 1 November 2009


Posted by ShoZu

Rubbish Media

There used to be a difference between bloggers and the "old" media. Bloggers were depicted as ranting nutters who obsessed over the most inane and pointless things whilst the old media held itself up as the defenders of liberty through truth and intrepid reporters from whom nothing could be hidden.

How times have changed. Whilst the new media has evolved, even if it does still contain plenty of us ranters!, and now the old media seems to be relegated to reporting what we are saying. Who publishes the things the old media (other than perhaps the Private Eye) is too scared to? We do. Who has the time to truly research a subject and report on it in depth whilst the old media is too busy chasing readers/viewers and always looking for the next big thing? Us again.

Yesterday someone I follow on Twitter, @brumplum, made a very innocuous tweet about Stephen Fry's tweets being somewhat boring. @stephenfry took offence to this and major Twitter butt hurt occurred as per usual. After bandwagons were set off and idiots aroused, all was resolved and everyone should have moved on.

But despite this the BBC, the Guardian, the Times et al. decided this rather pointless exchange warranted prominent reporting. We live in a world in which hundreds of thousands of people languish in North Korea gulags, in which people are murdered on the streets of London just for being gay, in which elections are rigged and yet, in a sector crying poverty at every possible opportunity, time and resources are wasted on reporting a storm in a teacup.

The worst part is that. whilst I'm under no illusions that the old media has ever been the paragons of virtue, reading foreign media shows just how good reporting can be when done well. It's a shame that our media falls further and further behind the standards one would expect of them.

This blogger works for nothing but the joy of writing but always appreciates things bought from his wishlist