December 2008 Archives

Wherein past history is resurrected for the good of mankind

Also, the bullying of people who have long been out of favour

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Shaun: Hi, Jamie.
Jamie: Shaun. (Curt and hopefully “I cant be bothered just now” expression)
Shaun: What are you looking at?
Jamie: My string quartet page I’m writing. (Feverish burst of typing to simulate business and have-better-things-to-do-ness)
Shaun: Do you play pop or classical music?
Jamie: (Withering glance) Classical.
Shaun: Don’t know much myself, I like the one that goes [Dum dala DUM DUM, Dum dala DUM DUM…]
Jamie: Wagner, Call of the Valkiries
Shaun: yeah, that’s the one and one about a bee… I think.
Jamie: ?
Shaun: You know [Dooohoohoohoooohlaaaah dumalumalumalumaladumala..]
Jamie: Flight of the Bumble Bee?
Shaun: Yep, knew it had to do with bees.
Jamie: Shaun, you are a philistine.
Shaun: A what?

The flat page is back.

Laziness and genuineness conspired to make me not change a thing of what I resurrected from the Internet Archive. Out of respect to an ex-flatmate who now works in the public eye with criminally insane people, I’ve redacted surnames, but that’s about it.

Milestones, and the passing of time

As measured in years and lilies.

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When Margaret died, just over a year ago, we asked people to give us live pot plants rather than cut flowers. Thankfully we had a number of healthy plants donated as a result, and in particular a pair of matching lilies (I believe that’s the only live plant in Hallmark’s catalogue).

When we got them they were both in full flower. The flowers soon faded and died away, but the plants kept on putting out extra leaves, so all was well.

Just the other day, Cleodhna noticed that while one of them was in perfect health, the other was drooping. The cause, on going closer to water it, became apparent: it had put out its first flower.

Wide shot Close-up

Meanwhile, the Inland Revenue is still going over the French paperwork.

And now, a man with an armful of owls

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Fridge logic

Russell T Davies' plots make sense for as long, if that, as the episode.

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Fridge logic, if you’re not familiar with the term, describes the sort of plot hole that you only realise when the (e.g.) Doctor Who episode you’re watching is over, you go to the fridge for another beer (say), and then it hits you: why did they need to do that? The link goes to, and if you’ve plenty of time I recommend you following it. I do warn you, though, that it will eat up your time and mind like wikipedia on crack. “Just one more link…”

Also, if you haven’t seen the latest Doctor Who Christmas episode, “The Next Doctor”, the next bit will be spoilerriffic. I’ll start off vague and get increasingly specific, so if you don’t want to know the score, look away now. I experimented with spoiler tags, but that just got annoying.

So the first bit is simple: if the cybermen have a gigantic dreadnought-class mecha robot almost ready to stomp over all of London, and all it takes to power it up fully is for a few dozen urchins to fuss over treadmills for at most a couple of hours, while the Doctor works out how to infiltrate the secret base, why couldn’t the cybermen just man the treadmills themselves?

Also, what the hell is the matter with Russell T Davies and applied phlebotinum? We have the cybermen dumped in the past resorting to primitive technology - fair enough. You can frob it to get it to tell you what it knows about a certain subject - also fair enough. If you break it in the right way - which everyone seems to be able to do - you can turn it into a Cybermen-killing ray-gun, by dint of overloading them with unwanted information. (Never mind why someone would design an information capsule to contain enough energy to be able to transmit information at lethal speeds at a distance, when it’s designed to be stuck into a chest cavity.) Hell, you can even turn it into an apotheosis gun, where you use multiple capsules at the same time, aimed at newly-formed Cyber-King, to remind her of her humanity and what she’d forgotten, as if such information would be in the cybermen’s data storage in the first place.

(Oh, and who exactly eats Christmas dinner at around 1am in the morning in Victorian London?)

Also, I couldn’t help wondering, why why does fake Doctor’s wife, in the flashback, look so similar to our antagonist? (Who was wonderful and the best thing about this episode.) And when the Doctor suggests that there’s something really momentous that prompted the fugue state, I was really hoping that it would be something more interesting than “your family has really suffered”.

Given all of this, here’s what I think would have made a better episode two-parter. (Yeah, so you couldn’t do it as a cheap Christmas one-off.)

The Cybermen tumble out of the void, just a few of them, armed with only that Dalek technology and a few information capsules. They arrive in the cellar of a house that a couple from out of town, Jackson and Mercy Lake, have just moved into, along with their young child. The cybermen round up the humans and start the conversion process, as they desperately need greater numbers. While the conversion process is underway, one of the cybermen starts going through the information capsules, uploading the stored information into their shared consciousness.

Except it all goes horribly wrong: Mercy has a mind that’s too strong for the cybermen, especially in their reduced numbers, and the conversion process goes haywire. Jackson’s mind is already wiped, but there’s nothing left to put in it - except the knowledge of the Doctor that’s currently sloshing around the cybermen’s minds. In the confusion Jackson escapes, in a fugue state, not knowing who he is, forgetting his wife and son, remembering only the Doctor.

The plot develops as before, except that the skulduggery involves factories and their precious metal needed to construct the dreadnought, not that orphan nonsense. And the confrontation at the end can involve Jackson Lake, facing up to his wife and confronting her with her own suppressed memories, rather than the Doctor waving a shining glow stick of enlightenment at her.

Glory of the 80's

No, not the Tori Amos song.

Digby linked to Do They Know It's Christmas - the original version, not any of the subsequent remakes - and I have to include it here because it's the first time that I can remember that I've seen the promo with the credits.

Note: "Film Lighting Services". That was Bruce's company. There was a very brief period in the early 80s when Bruce would come home and say things like "here's some random Madness swag" and "Our House, in the middle of our street, liars - we filmed it in a corner shop", and then we moved to France, he had a heart bypass operation and sold up; but for a while, Bruce was one of the people who mattered in the UK film industry. You could rely on him showing up on time and with the right gear - and probably a bit extra, because he knew that chances are you'd need that extra lamp even if you didn't think you would originally, and he was all about doing things properly.

So yeah. "Do they know it's Christmas," the promo. (Bruce always referred to what other people would call music videos as promos, partly because it was the industry term but mostly because they were often shot on film.) My dad shotlit that.

Paws for Tales

Dogs sit with humans, humans practice talking in public

For extra added awesomeness: the dog in question is a pit-bull supposedly bred for fighting and unrecoverable.

Read the full story, via John Scalzi.

I love the Internet

Mac OS calculator stopped working - but only in Germany

From the release notes of Mac OS 10.5.6, amongst a number of bug fixes and performance improvements:

Addresses inaccuracies with Calculator when the Mac OS X language is set to German or Swiss German.

I'm not sure what boggles me most: that there's something unique about German (and Swiss German) that it interferes with a calculator, or that it's taken until now to find the bug.

It's probably an obscure bug involving unit conversions or something weird like that, but still: numbers fail in German?

(Insert your own Weimar Republic joke here.), "Entertainment shopping".

A fool and his money are easily parted

Here's the full round-up. (Via Andrew Ducker.) It's an auction site / fruit-machine combo, I can see it being relentlessly fascinating if you have a "I saved 30% on this thing I didn't need" / addictive personality, and it's very, very evil.

On an unrelated note, if anyone was still following skington_mt, my ancient blog's RSS feed, then my attempt at resurrecting the archives appears to have barfed a number of ancient posts into people's friends pages. Sorry about that.