Saturday, 31 December 2011

Booze Hound

As something of a left-field but certainly not unappreciated Christmas present, the Other Half has chosen to pass to me full responsibility for the world's shiniest canine polymath, Professor Steeldog.

That photo was taken during Professor Steeldog's inaugural lecture "Scrambled Eggs Are Delicious".  Note that the professor is delivering his talk whilst simultaneously preparing scrambled eggs as an after-lecture snack, and whilst powered by a bottle of Blaxland Estate Shiraz.  That's not really all that much for a proper academic, actually, but then he's a very small dog, and allowances must be made.

Besides, see how sad he looks once the plonk has gone:

In fairness, the bitter horror of rapidly coalescing reality isn't the only reason for his shrinking posture.  Steeldog's lecture has started off a veritable intellectual shit-storm, and both Professors Ironcat and Vanadiumsquirrel-Smith are on the warpath.  It's tough being a drunken carnivore trying to justify high cholesterol breakfast snacks.

Fortunately, Professor Steeldog has a secondary career to fall back on, as a cybernetic battlesuit.

Unstoppable war-suit modelled by Misty the dog.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Trial By Fire

Having tried out the latest Talisman expansion last night, I got to thinking about the nature of board games.  The catalyst for this consideration was my immediate reaction to the change in experience the new rules offer, which is best described as "Making a long game even longer."

Obviously, a man who'll sing the praises of Arkham Horror to anyone who'll listen can't complain too much about games that suck up time.  Not all examples of time dilation of time are equally welcome, however. The problem with "The Dragon" isn't that it ramps up the difficulty per se, it's that in doing so, it makes the game even lonelier than it was before.

Let me explain.  Some competitive games are lonely, and others are not.  Snakes and Ladders , for example, is as lonely as they come.  If one were so inclined, one could email the same S&L board to a half dozen of your friends, have them play it alone, and then compare the number of dice rolls each of you required to get to whichever corner you were aiming for.  That, I would argue, is a lonely game.

Care must be taken here, of course.  S&L is not only a lonely game, but one entirely devoid of skill, and it's important not to confuse the two.  Talisman is not devoid of skill, by any means, (contra my friend R, who is convinced the whole exercise is nothing more than Ludo played on a gigantic and exceptionally entertaining board) but it can still be a somewhat lonely game, in the sense that one's interaction with the other players is fairly minimal compared to one's interaction with the game itself.  How many times do you encounter another player and attack them, or cast a spell designed to impair their progress, compared to how often your turn revolves around only where you've moved to, and what happens to you there?

"The Dragon" skews the proportion even more in favour of strategic solipsism.  It takes the game one step closer to being played independently, with everyone involved simply noting how long it takes for them to beat their own personal Dragon King, and comparing times.

That, irrespective of how interesting the new rules, cards and characters prove to be, strikes me as something of a shame.

Monday, 26 December 2011

The Caretaker, The Sexist, And The Dishonorably Dischargeable

Well, that wasn't too bad at all.  Maybe a bit slow moving for a Christmas Special (I was all stuffed with meat, parsnips and wine, so staying awake was a definite problem) and a little to saccharin for my tastes, but it had some nice ideas (there has to be naturally occurring Christmas trees somewhere being my favourite), some great visuals, a typically excellent turn from Matt Smith and better child acting than the BBC is usually known for.  Also, I have to admit there did come a point where I realised to my own bafflement that I had a lump in my throat.

A few more unordered thoughts:
  • Man, Androzani Major's military must be permanently undergoing a funding crisis.  First they couldn't manage to clear a few dozen androids out of a cave system in order to secure their most treasured natural resource, and now they send overweight bunglers to guard their fuel sources.  Two soldiers in full armour can't overpower a civilian with a service revolver?  Please.  I presume they're only using acid rain to melt the forest because none of them can be trusted to swing an axe without disemboweling themselves.
  • I'd have hoped we'd moved beyond plot tropes like "only a woman is strong enough to commune with nature".  Doubtless it's well-meant, but at least as far as I'm concerned it always comes across as rather patronising.  "See, we respect you, life givers that you are!"  It's also slightly difficult to process a story in which the Doctor can't carry a sentient forest in his head, but Arabella Weir is considered fit for service.
  • Having said the above, it's nice to see a story in which the Doctor isn't the last-minute saviour everyone is praying for. I suppose one could point out that this deliberate (if exceptionally vague) aping of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has swapped in the Doctor as a replacement for Jesus, of course.  Or note that linking your story to one of the finest moments in the entirety of the show's history isn't an act of humility and understatement.  But let's not search too hard to find things to raise our eyebrows over: it's Christmas, after all, and at least this time round no-one's told me people think killing the Doctor is worse than the Holocaust.
  • Speaking of the Doctor's death, having him refer to himself as "the Caretaker" was a nice idea - a way of dealing, at least for now, with the idea that he is now operating undercover.  It certainly helps me buy the idea that a time-traveller can fake their own death.   I'd be surprised if they keep it up for Season 7, but at least it's delayed the problem for a little while. 

Friday, 23 December 2011

Merry Quizmas

Since it doesn't look like this "Christmas" idea is going anywhere, we might as well embrace it. Have yourselves a Christmas quiz. The highest score when I ran this at the pub on Wednesday was 32. Good luck!

Round 1: Chranagrams

(Five anagrams of things associated with Christmas)

1. Hell wrath, yo!  (Holly wreath)

2. Ethnic girls  (Christingle)

3. Most elite  (Mistletoe)

4. Staunchest sort  (Roast chestnuts)

5. He doddered sheerer unlit porn  (Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer)

Round 2: December

1. In which Russian city did the Decembrist uprising take place in Senate Square in December 1825, which led a century later to the location being renamed Decembrist Square until 2008?  (St Petersburg)

2. "A Long December" was a 1996 single release for which band, whose back catalogue also includes the 1993 hit "Mr Jones", and the song "Accidentally In Love", which was Oscar nominated following its appearance in the film Shrek 2?  (Counting Crows)

3. People born in December have either the starsign Sagittarius or Capricorn, depending on the day. Which two planets are associated with these signs? (1/2 for each) (Jupiter and Saturn)

4. "Ah, distinctly I remember, it was in the bleak December" is a line from which poem?  "The Raven"

5. In the evening of which date in December do the Dutch begin the celebration of Sinterklaas?  5th

Round 3: The Ghost of Christmas Past

1. Former Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena were executed on Christmas Day 1989, under a wide range of charges, in which country?  (Romania)

2. Which British physicist, mathematician, natural philosopher, theologian and occult obsessive was born on Christmas Day 1642 (Julian calender), and shares credit with Gottfried Leibniz for developing differential and integral calculus? (Isaac Newton)

3. Which space probe stopped trasmitting on Christmas Day 2003, just before its scheduled landing on Mars?  (Beagle 2)

4. On Christmas Day 1941 the Free French liberated their first piece of former French territory, Saint Pierre and Miquelon, by successfully defeating a different group of French people. Saint Pierre and Miquelon lies just off the coast of which country?  (Canada)

5. Which R&B and soul singer, who passed away on Christmas Day 2006, was known amongst other things as "The hardest working man in showbusiness", having released well over sixty albums over a career spanning six decades?  (James Brown)

Round 4: Cake

1. Which '90s satirical series featured an earnest Bruno Brookes warning us that "Only an idiot would enter the nightmare of Cake."  (Brass Eye)

2. In what decade of the 18th Century was Marie Antoinette executed, after her cake-based prescription for society's ills was found wanting?  (1790s)

3. Yellowcake is a concentrate powder primarly made up of which radioactive element, atomic number 92?  (Uranium)

4. What do the eleven marzipan balls atop a simnel cake represent? (The original disciples of Jesus, minus Judas)

5. Who sang "MacArthur Park" in 1968, in which a cake is left out in the rain, causing great consternation to the singer, who has for some reason misplaced the recipe?  (Richard Harris)

Round 5: All I Want For Christmas... Is Another One Of Squid's Increasingly Unoriginal Music Rounds

(Five Xmas songs that have been laterally/cryptically renamed. Half a mark each for the real title, and the artists who recorded it).

1. "A Made-Up Story From South Of Albany"  ("Fairytale of New York", The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl)

2. "3,200 km"  ("2,000 Miles", The Pretenders)

3. "Perambulation Without A Surface" ("Walking in the Air", Aled Jones (though Peter Auty sang the original version in The Snowman))

4. "Poison Plants And Fermented Fruit"  ("Mistletoe and Wine", Cliff Richard)

5. "Arrest Those Men on Horseback" ("Stop the Cavalry", Jona Lewie)

Round 6: Santa-Shaped (AKA "Who ate all the mince pies?")

1. Who played Fat Bastard in the second and third Austin Powers movies?  (Mike Myers)

2. Who was reputed to hold important wartime meetings whilst still in his bath?  (Winston Churchill)

3. Sumo wrestling, a noble sport in which two expansive gentlemen pit themselves against each other in martial combat, requires that the competitors cleanse the dohyo, or ring, with what substance prior to each bout?  (Salt)

4. What was the nickname of prepubsecent obesonaut Billy Bunter?  (The Fat Owl of the Remove)

5. Which foodstuff is created by forcibly turning geese or ducks into horrible fatties and then removing their livers? (Foie gras)

General Knowledge

1. Who won this year's Crucible World Snooker Championship Final? (John Higgins)

2. What is kudzu? (A weed)

3. Which planet has moons named after characters from the works of Shakespeare and Alexander Pope? (Uranus) 

4. Modern-day Romania is made up of three former principalities of autonomous regions: Moldova, Transylvania, and which third region, which is sometimes further diivied into Muntenia and Oltenia?  (Wallachia)

5. Which instrument represents the duck in Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf?  (Oboe)

6. Jonquil, Mikado and Naples are all shades of what colout?  (Yellow)

7. According to popular legend, for whom is a "Dead Man's Hand" in poker named? (Wild Bill Hiccock)

8. For what crime was former French President Jacques Chirac convicted last week? (Embezzlement)

9. What shape is the playing field in Australian Rules Footaball? (Oval)

10. What is the square root of 841? (29)

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Day Job

Gosh.  This place is falling dangerously quiet, huh?

I do have an excuse, though.  I'm currently in the middle of a hideous chain-reaction of ever more horrifying catastrophes at the office. I haven't been this dumbfounded by the degree to which things can go off the rails since I was asked to teach algebra to kids who recoiled in horror at the thought of multiplication.

It looks like I've put a lid on the chaos, though.  Just.  Who knows what will burst into flames once more the instant I've left for Christmas.  Surely it can't be as bad as what happened last week, when our external expert revealed a shift in position meant he was no longer external, and that on careful reflection his field is too far from ours for him to constitute an expert.  Like hiring a stripper for a stag do (I hear stories), and finding out she won't take off her underwear.  And she's your sister.

Oh, and you only have three days to find another stripper, or the wedding's off.  Some people have the strangest pre-nups...

Sunday, 18 December 2011

I'd Hope My Life Would Read Rather Better

Hmm.  I have to say I was somewhat underwhelmed by this Ted Chiang collection, considering the amount of praise that's been heaped upon it.  The rear cover promises much: "Here are stories that explore the boundaries between science and religion, between determinism and our ability to choose, between words and the entities they describe." 
That's not entirely inaccurate, insofar as there is a story about how science and religion would view very differently the ability to animate entities by discovering their "true names".  Indeed, that story - "Seventy-Two Letters" - is almost certainly the best of the seven on offer here (I'm discounting "The Evolution of Human Science", which at three pages is simply a nod to what could be a story rather than a narrative in itself).  This tale is base on two excellent and solid concepts. First is that the method by which the golems of Jewish myth is both real and obeys rigid logical laws, allowing it to be studied as both a scientific discipline, and as a method for unveiling the secret code through which God fashioned Creation. 

The second is the idea that the capacity for all life was brought into being at the same time - that foetuses are not created, merely enlarged, generation after generation being already prepacked and stored like Russian dolls.   The drive of the story is the discovery made by French scientists that humanity's supply of foetuses is five generations away from drying up entirely.

This concern with the difference between form and life and energy and control is used to great effect, and manages to say some quite interesting things about the way humanity views the world along the way.  More importantly, however, it's genuinely a story, with a beginning, a strong impetus, a revelation and a conclusion.

Not every story here is constructed so well.  "Division By Zero" simply stops, apparently because Chiang believes he's made his point.  Said point is this: mathematicians would probably go completely bonkers with misery were arithmetic to be proven to not be consistent (essentially, that 1+1 need not equal 2).  Obviously, I have no problem believing that to be the case, but it might have saved some time had Chiang simply told us that straight out rather than trying to fashion a story from it.  Indeed, Chiang does say it in the story notes that conclude the collection, rendering the entire exercise (interesting mathematical asides notwithstanding) seem rather pointless.

"Story of your Life", too, also simply seems to peter out once The Big Idea (spoiler: that learning a language which can only be read holistically would give one the ability to perfectly predict the future, which I assume is why the above blurb refers - somewhat disingenously - to deerminism vs free will) has been fully deployed.  There's some intellectual challenge in realising that that is what's going on, and in piecing together the purposefully jumbled narrative, but in order to set up his good-but-not-that-good payoff, Chiang introduces a fascinating cultural exchange between an equally absorbing alien race who visit Earth, and then simply disappear at the story's conclusion. I suspect this in particular is simply down to personal taste, but it does feel like the most interesting aspect of the story - the how and why of these delightfully impossible creatures - has been hastily jettisoned once they're no longer needed for Chiang's pet idea.

It also doesn't help that Chiang's technique isn't really good enough to overcome the obvious difficulty of describing languages and attendant concepts that exist beyond what we can readily conceive.  "Understand" suffers to an even greater degree from the same problem - a first-person story about a super-intelligent human attempting to assemble the perfect language which is written in English is problematic enough, and Chiang's rather utilitarian prose simply compounds the issue.  

Worse still, there's really nothing particularly original in the tale, either.  "The Tower of Babylon" is better, with some nice ideas about the nature of a tower tall enough to include multiple settlements with their own lifestyles, but the language isn't good enough to sustain the journey, nor the ending sufficiently strong to impress with its arrival. 

The collection does pick up in the second half.  We've discussed "Seventy-Two Letters" already, but there's also "Hell is the Absence of God" and "Liking What you See: a Documentary".   The former is built around a rock-solid core: even if God's existence s irrefutable, it still wouldn't make it simple to love someone so unpredictable and seemingly disinterested in your welfare.  The latter features multiple testimonials about the possibilities offered by a method that blinds one to human beauty, but ultimately takes a left turn and becomes something far more interesting. 

Even so, the same problems resurface: uninspiring prose, and a significant difficulty in avoiding bland info-dumps.  Even within the confines of a fictional documentary, the exposition feels too thick to easily swallow.  In the end, I rather suspect whether or not one likes any of these stories is based entirely on how interesting one finds the one (or if you're very lucky, two) ideas Chiang is spinning out.  There's simply too little else here to hang your interest on.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

There's Definitely A Very Slim Hope Of Being Like Us

It would seem an awful lot of the denizens of the internet are pissed off with Gene Marks, for what they see as a tone-deaf article dripping with patronising platitudes and white privilege.

I'm not sure what all the fuss is about.  I mean sure, if I were an ex-teacher, I might want to point out that assuming the conceptual framework of adulthood is available during childhood is to fundamentally mistake how the human mind develops.  If I were someone who dealt with probability for a living, I'd likely be enraged by the suggestion that because two groups of people both have a strictly positive chance of achieving the same goals, the difference between those chances isn't what should be focused on.  And if I was someone with any kind of racial awareness whatsoever, I'd point out a) it's one thing to offer advice to black kids, and another to presume to tell them how you would act as one of them, and b) if you've written that advice for Forbes, you're not actually offering advice to the black population, you're offering comforting "we're not to blame" bullshit to well-off white guys.

Since I'm clearly not any of those things, however, I say we should applaud Marks for being unafraid to deal with significant obstacles and nigh-insurmountable power imbalances by offering advices both obvious and unrealistic.

And yes, I realise that from a certain angle, I've just equated the struggle of black youth to prove themselves sufficiently exceptional as to be permitted to earn the same breaks in life white people take entirely for granted with the struggle of Bill Clinton not have interns suck his dick.

Don't shoot the messenger, people.  I'm not responsible for what went on in the 42nd President's head.

Dude looooved getting his dick sucked.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

For The Record

Two important points regarding this week's episode of Misfits:
  1. Zombies are so, so much more unsettling when they can talk, and remember who they were, and even try to resist the urge to feed;
  2. It doesn't matter how stylish the execution, it's still a bad idea to write stories in which a main character gets her heart broken and over a dozen people are murdered, all on account of a freak wanking accident.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Support Wars: Return Of The Tech-Jedi

Yesterday saw the final instalment of the Support Wars Trilogy, as I took to the highways to seek out Master Garathon, a fearsomely powerful Tech-Jedi currently residing in the hideous swamps of Dagobah Shropshire.  Within moments my worst fears seemed to have been realised; the problem was indeed so simple that a child could have solved it (indeed, as Garathon noted, an eight year old child is probably exactly what the situation needed), though apparently not a man whose only job is to successfully deal with such things.

A quick re-plugging of a component later (apparently my technique for checking sound connections is insufficiently robust), and everything was solved.

Or was it?  Connecting the stack to a spare monitor revealed no joy.  Not only was there no evidence that the CD drive was fixed, but now there was no evidence that the computer was working at all.  What I now had, in fact, was either an intolerably noisy and ridiculously delicate portable heater, or the world's most power-hungry and unconvincing wasp simulator.

Needless to say, this was all very embarrassing.  I'd already promised Garathon payment in the form of a slap-up meal at the location of his choice (he chose not to pick "your mother", which proves he is a far more mature man than I), but that was based on the seemingly reasonable assumption that even if he failed to deal with the CD drive issue, he would at least avoid demonstrating the Mad Hatter approach to delicate repair work.  Could I renege in the face of his clear incompetence?  Or was the decent thing to buy him dinner, but lace it with paraquat?  Etiquette is a tricky business.

Fortunately, this incredibly awkward situation/upcoming homicide attempt was eventually dealt with once it was discovered exactly where the problem lay: a loose RAM connection.

So, to summarise, PC World:
  1. Sold me the wrong hard-drive;
  2. Failed to contact me on the telephone, or using the email address I gave them;
  3. Were two days late in putting in the new drive and transferring the data on top of the delay from the hard-drive mix up;
  4. Failed to reconnect either my RAM or my CD drive;
  5. Demanded I give them one week and fifty quid to clean up their own mistake.
Presumably if I had given them their money to deal with the CD drive, the loose RAM would still have fallen out, and they'd have extorted a further fifty pounds in order to fix that, whilst no doubt frying the power supply or trapping an orphan inside the stack in the process.  That's potentially £100 and a fortnight for them to sort out their own mess.  Garathon did it for under a tenner in about the same time as a round trip to the computer store.

Fuck you, PC World.

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Our Inevitable Doom: Liveblogged

Regular commentator and all round smart guy Tomsk79 has asked that I update his blog in the "Fellow Travellers" section, which I have done.  I urge you all to go read him at his new place, assuming of course that you have a burning desire to become immediately suicidal at the thought of what Europe's about to have to go through. 

Or if you just fancy a bit of political commentary that's far less focussed on a) America and b) exciting experiments in unecessary profanity.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Idiocy In Every Direction

Sometimes I have trouble keeping my food down:
Just when you thought Barack Obama couldn’t get any more out of touch with America’s values, AP reports his administration wants to make foreign aid decisions based on gay rights...
Promoting special rights for gays in foreign countries is not in America’s interests and not worth a dime of taxpayers’ money.

... Investing tax dollars promoting a lifestyle many Americas of faith find so deeply objectionable is wrong.
President Obama has again mistaken America’s tolerance for different lifestyles with an endorsement of those lifestyles.
That's from the campaign of Governor Rick Perry, who you may or may not know as Dubya with better hair, the man who disbanded a committee investigating the possibility that he let an innocent man be executed, or the guy whose hunting lodge is called "Niggerhead" but doesn't see why that's a big deal. Oh, and the guy who'll happily use the hatred of gays as a route to power.  In short, when Perry lands in Hell, Satan will probably ask for his autograph, though he'll probably ask that it be made out to Beelzebub so as to avoid embarrassment.

For a few weeks, he was first in the race for Republican presidential candidate.

And what is the announcement from Pennsylvania Avenue that has this murder-happy mentally deficient Machiavelli so outraged?
President Obama will direct all U.S. agencies abroad to make certain diplomacy and aid programs "promote and protect" the rights of homosexuals. 
This is why these gitchimps can't be reasoned with.  The barriers between us and them aren't merely political, or philosophical, or even theological.  They're linguistic.  Perry sees a plan being mooted by which American money is contingent on people not hanging or imprisoning or refusing to hire homosexuals, and he starts claiming these are "special rights."  Because God knows there are enough countries out there that execute or lock up people for being straight.  I promise that the exact instant Lesbos becomes its own country and starts getting up to its old tricks, I will immediately take Perry's side (as well as a holiday to said island paradise).  We went through this with Santorum not so long ago, but I still cannot wrap my head around the idea that people might hate gays so much that they insist on arguing removing laws and practises aimed against them constitutes a special privilege.

Of course, it's easier to believe (or it would be, if Perry wasn't so stupid he thinks ambiance is something you get by dialling 911, though in his state you can only get one if you're white) that Perry's just cynically manipulating this in the hope of getting back some of those votes he's been hemorrhaging, ever since he accidentally revealed that being white wasn't a necessary condition for him to listen to what you're saying.  That's not really any better, though.  In fact, it's arguably worse, since it would replace a disgusting yet honestly held conviction with a degree of disinterest so pronounced it leads to using the lives of tens of thousands of people as a stick to beat your opponents with.  I'd lament the death of the principle of politics ending at the water's edge, had the GOP not already proved it was quite happy to risk the deaths of tens of thousands of US citizens to get its way.

So, like I said: not vomiting with rage and disgust is becoming tougher and tougher.

Still, at least that food I'm having trouble with isn't Asian, amirite?  What could be worse on the anniversary of Pearl Harbour than to eat food from the continent that started all that Tora Tora Tora bullshit?

The answer, of course, is letting the President's children eat it!

Apparently, this is a genuine source of outrage in some quarters, which is genuinely terrifying.  Not because I have any particular interest in ensuring American children get to taste teriyaki chicken (though it's pretty damn tasty, of course), but because I find it difficult to imagine that there is anyone in the States who's wound up about this who isn't also desperate to reintroduce internment camps.

(Also: for fuck's sake, Blogspot, it's December 2011.  Add Barack Obama to your spellchecker, would you?  Y'all a bunch of racists!)

Monday, 5 December 2011

Three Weeks Late

Somewhere in the darkest yet most well-decorated rooms of the BBC.

Ricky Gervais:  Stephen!  Glad you could meet me.  I know you've got a lot of winsomely charming voice-overs on the go, right now, so that's clearly keeping you busy -

Stephen Merchant: Go fuck yourself, Gervais.  I hate you.  I hate you so much.  All you ever do is show up, play yourself, rake in the cash, and tell everyone you could probably have done it without me.

Ricky Gervais: That's not up to me to decide, really.  So, though, if the public want to brand me as -

Stephen Merchant:  There's no way you could have done it without me, Richard.  I could have done it without you, though. Easily.  Because there's only one cocksucker in this room who knows how to be funny deliberately, and we both know it isn't you.

Ricky Gervais: Don't call me Richard.

Stephen Merchant: Give me two hundred grand of the money you owe me for making people think your petulant fucking bullying is fucking fucking hilarious, and I'll think about it.

Ricky Gervais: Anyway -

Stephen Merchant: Prick.

Ricky Gervais: Anyway.  I've got an idea for a new show.

Stephen Merchant: Do you?  Or do you just want to do The Office again with all your famous mates and pretend it's a new show?

Ricky Gervais: Are you talking about Extras?

Stephen Merchant: No, I'm talking about you being a worthless ballsack.  Extras is just Exhibit fucking-A.

Ricky Gervais:

Stephen Merchant: Will it be about an egotistical loser completely unable to recognise his lack of talent, good looks, or comic ability?

Ricky Gervais:... Maybe.

Stephen Merchant: Will it be stuffed to the gills with your famous mates pretending to be idiots so people can get a cheap laugh?

Ricky Gervais:... To an extent.

Stephen Merchant: So what's different about it?

Ricky Gervais: This time we'll be taking the piss out of dwarves.

Stephen Merchant: Wait, what?

Ricky Gervais: We'll get Warwick Davies to do it.  It'll be hilarious.  He's a dwarf, but we'll make him a David Brent style prick!  Literally the same!  That way no-one will feel sympathy when we mock him for being small!

Stephen Merchant... Well, at least it'll make a change for you to not -

Ricky Gervais: I'll be in it.

Stephen Merchant: Oh, of course you will.

Ricky Gervais: And you. And our famous mates will keep popping in to see us.

Stephen Merchant: So why do we need Warwick Davies in this at all?

A very long pause

Ricky Gervais: Liam Neeson say's he'll do the first episode.

Stephen Merchant:  Urrrrrrgh.  OK, fine.  I'll write that bit so it's absolutely fucking awesome.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Great Minds/Stopped Clocks

This, right here, is a thing of awesome, inspired beauty.  Indeed, it's so good, I can't believe I didn't think of it myself until less than three years ago.

Mind you, they've clearly put exponentially more effort in.  Especially since I had Senior Spielbergo do all the actual, y'know, work.

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Those Wacky Colonials

Earlier this week I had a brief email exchange with an American political journalist, and he asked me if I had any particular insights on how the upcoming presidential election (now only eleven months away and its attendant mishigas was viewed across the pond.

After chewing the question over for a little while, I wondered whether I'm necessarily well-placed to answer this question, since I spend far more time listening to Americans describe their political system than I do to British people trying to interpret it. 

So, perhaps you can help me out.  Any answers to some or all of the following queries would be greatly appreciated:

1. What do you think of President Obama's first three years in charge?

2. What (if anything) do you think of the Republicans currently vying for the right to be his opponent year, and do you have an opinion of which one will (or should) be chosen?

3. What do you think are the chances of Obama retaking the Oval, and is that something you'd want to happen?

Please note that "I don't know nuffink" and "I couldn't give two shits" are both entirely acceptable answers. If it turns out no-one on this side of the Atlantic could care less who gets to put his feet up on the resolute desk, then that's still useful information.