Sunday, 26 October 2014

Fearful Assymetry

No, no no. No, not at all.

Context is important here, I think. Two of our good friends were staying over this weekend, which means that I watched this in the company of a fellow ex-secondary school teacher, and someone still fighting in those particular trenches. So there were three people eager to pontificate on the most school-heavy episode of Who history since the first instalment of "An Unearthly Child", if that (and no, "School Reunion" doesn't count. "School Reunion" is about how awesome the Doctor would be if he was a teacher, which in addition to being pretty fucking insulting to actual teachers reduced the students to another round of cyphers reiterating how the Tenth Doctor was the best thing since sliced Wirrn).

(Spoilers follow)

Friday, 24 October 2014

Friday Bird Impression

Someone over on twitter posted this picture of a Sri Lankan frogmouth (originating here), and it's just glorious.

It's not just the plumage. It's not just my weakness for animals with other animals in their names.  It's how absolutely perfectly this bird has captured the facial expression Richard Dawkins would pull if you mentioned you'd met a Muslim and they were perfectly lovely.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Compare And Contrast: Rampaging Corpse Edition

This, admittedly, is new. And rather easy on the eye.
After two posts last week on the moral implications of "Kill The Moon", it's nice to have an episode where I don't feel compelled to dig too deeply. In fact, the only thing that really struck me is how massive a debt "Mummy..." clearly owes to Horror Express.

I've sung the praises of that film before, of course, but let's recap. A serial-killing monster on a train, grabbing people's heads and murdering them by sucking out something vital?

Check. A seemingly partially-decomposed creature originally considered as a mythological/ancient entity ultimately revealed as an incredibly old alien?

Oh yes. An alliance of scientists desperately working to understand the creature before they too are killed?

You betcha. A surprising cameo from a famous face who feels like they're in a completely different story?

Savalas basically exists in this film only to challenge Connery
for the tittle of least attempt put into an appropriate accent.
"Who loves you, tovarisch?"

Undeniably. Hell, even the desperate evacuation before the train is destroyed matches, and GUS's images through circular lens reminded me of something, too.

I'm not saying this is a bad thing. If you're going to steal, you should steal from the best, and of course Capaldi has spent this entire season playing a role previously inhabited on celluloid by Peter Cushing.

Still, though. Bit weird, innit?

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Wednesday Glorious Randomness or What I Did On My Lunch Break

Fascinating fact: Palpatine only ever decided to conquer the galaxy because his attempts at breaking into the Naboo hip-hop scene came to nothing. To this day he insists this was only because he started gigging in Theed City at just the same moment the public started getting into Gungan Bass instead.

(I stole this pun from @runalongwomble on Twitter, by the way. Check that dude out.)

Friday, 10 October 2014

Friday 40K: Further Naughtiness

A bit late in the day, but it still counts.  Two more Red Corsairs cultists, taking the total to nine.  So very close, now. So very close.

Good News For People Who Love Bad News

Well, this totally blows goats, as we used to say.

Look, I get why people are arguing UKIP reaching the power levels previously enjoyed only by the Green Party or one third of Plaid Cymru isn't something to get particularly upset about, but there's a difference between reaching a level and passing through it on your way up.  And I'm really not seeing much to make me think UKIP aren't on the way up. Evil is very much in vogue these days, after all. The far right is on the rise across Europe, and as John Oliver pointed out, when Europe goes far right, it goes far right through Belgium.

(Yes, yes. UKIP isn't as far right as it could be.  It's not the BNP or the EDL.  But let's not kid ourselves; their far right enough.  The biggest difference between UKIP and the BNP is that the former are the kind of people to enact laws surreptitiously aimed at disenfranchising non-white people, as oppose to the latter, who you'd have to figure would ban voting the day after they banned gays, Muslims, and Wales.)

Really about the best spin I can think of to put on all this is that every UKIP parliamentary candidate is an arsehole, any arsehole who wants to join that collection of arseholes must be an arsehole, and if you're the kind of arsehole who likes to vote for that kind of arsehole, then you're the kind of arsehole who doesn't really mind which kind of arsehole the kind of arsehole you like to vote for has decided to hang with whilst being an arsehole.

Which is kind of fun to type, but that's about it.  Everything else about this is awful.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Passing Thought

I'm not BBC Breakfast's biggest fan; on an average day the best I can say about is that it's not actually well-organised enough to ruin the delivery of facts in quite the way they seem to want to.  That said, it was great to see them host a virologist this morning to remind us that a) the vast, vast, vast majority of people living in Europe will not be dying of ebola:

and b) if Ebola does in fact get its groove on in the cradle of imperialism and genocide (formerly "that place that just couldn't get enough fucking castles"), we've got a decent chance of beating the microscopic bastard because of our unified medical approaches imposed by the EU.

Which strikes me as an opportunity we can cynically seize upon. You can barely turn on the news in England without being bombarded by idiotic opinions from Tory or UKippers (at this point I don't think Nigel Farage can even take a shit without the BBC asking him how this latest bowel movement demonstrates his ability to lead). They just can't wait to tell us yet again how the greatest threat to British life is the influx of parasitic immigrants hell-bent on living off us at best and gruesomely killing us at worst.

Well at long last, I say amen.

The EU. Forces us to let in the people who want to make new lives for themselves and their families and serve our communities in the process.  Helps us keep out the gribbly nightmare currently eating West Africa.

Tell us again why we're better off opting out?

Saturday, 4 October 2014

No-Win Scenarios

It was back in 1954 that Astounding Magazine published Tom Godwin's "The Cold Equations", a short story in which a pilot shuttling essential medical supplies to a distant colony discovers a young girl has stowed away on the shuttle. With her on-board, the vessel will soon run out of fuel, meaning the medicine can never be delivered, at the cost of many thousands of lives. On the other hand, with no spacesuit on board, the only way to ensure delivery of the medication is to flush the young stowaway out of the airlock.

George R.R. Martin referenced this story in the first volume of A RRetrospective, by way of arguing that any either/or setup in a story has to resolve in you getting the either or the or. You can't get both and pat yourself on the back for your cleverness.  Not when you've worked so hard to establish no exit exists.

This is always my go-to thought whenever fiction offers up a moral dilemma. More specifically, I start looking for ways the story is setting up potential ways by which they can have their cake and eat it.

Because there is an art form in this. Martin is, I think, entirely correct that if you set up a situation in which only choices exist, both of them awful, you'd better damn well follow through. But that isn't the only consideration here. It can't be. Sometimes you need to come up with an ending which doesn't involve horror and blood. And frankly, Saturday night family entertainment seems like a pretty good time and place for it.

(Who spoilers follow)