Here’s a bit of light relief for all the SF fans. I found these videos of the themes from Red Dwarf and Dr. Who, played on laser harp on YouTube. Enjoy!
Here’s a bit of light relief for all the SF fans. I found these videos of the themes from Red Dwarf and Dr. Who, played on laser harp on YouTube. Enjoy!
I found the teaser trailer for the sequel to Ridley Scott’s SF classic, Blade Runner, on YouTube yesterday. The film’s entitled Blade Runner 2049, and is set 30 years after the events of the original movie. It stars Harrison Ford, who is reprising his role as Rick Deckard, and Ryan Gosling. It won’t be directed by Scott, but Denis Villeneuve. Scott was going to be the director, but I think he’s too busy with other projects. While I’m disappointed that he won’t be sitting in the director’s chair, from what little I’ve seen and heard of it, Villeneuve is an excellent choice. The movie is due to open in cinemas in June next year (2017).
As you can see, the trailer’s very short and doesn’t give very much away. It begins with Deckard’s line from the original film about Replicants being like any other machine. They’re either a benefit or a problem. And if they’re a benefit, then they’re not his problem. It also seems to have the same run-down, towering cityscape of the first movie, but also adds what looks like a desert. The film’s score also seems to follow the original movie’s brilliant soundtrack, composed by Vangelis, in being played on synthesiser, though it has a rougher, grittier tone. And also there’s the same vehicles carrying adverts for people to move off world. Also the desert scenes have the same diffuse, golden light Scott used to create such a moody tone in the scenes Tyrell’s apartment in the original movie, but this time far brighter and more intense.
I’m really looking forward to this flick, but I do have some reservations about it. Blade Runner is now rightly recognised as one of the great SF movies of 20th century. William Gibson, one of the inventors of the Cyberpunk SF genre, said that he felt distinctly unnerved when he saw it. He was writing Neuromancer at the time, and was somewhat dismayed to find that the film had beaten him to portraying the same kind of future he was writing about. Grant and Naylor, the creators of Red Dwarf, have also admitted that it was Blade Runner that inspired them to create their own SF show. That was very obvious in the episode aired several years ago on satellite/ cable, where the crew of the Red Dwarf go in search of their creators on Earth, one of whom is a genetic engineer. ‘Noses’, the scientist says in answer to their questions, ‘I only do noses’. Which is, as fans of Blade Runner will recognise, a parody of the line the Chinese genetic engineer gives Batty and Leon when they pay him a visit: ‘Eyes. I only do eyes.’
My fear is that Blade Runner is such a classic, and the movie so perfect in itself, that the sequel will be unable to add anything new or match the original. Part of the reason many people will terribly disappointed with George Lucas’ Star Wars prequel, The Phantom Menace, apart from its many flaws, was that the original films had set the bar so high, and the fans had waited so long for it, that when it came out it was almost bound to fail expectations. I hope the same isn’t true of this attempt to revisit one of the greatest SF movies.
Mike also put up another piece yesterday, wondering whether there’s some kind of requirement that Work and Pensions MPs falsify their CVs. The classic example of this is Ian Duncan Smith, the Arnold Rimmer of British politics. Mike here recounts the classic lies he spun in order to make himself more impressive. Like he attended the Universita di Perugia in Italy, when actually he went to the Universita di Stranieri, which didn’t grant degrees, and where IDS didn’t even complete his exams. He wasn’t exactly educated at the Dunchurch College of Management either. This was a former staff college for GEC Marconi. IDS did study there. He did a number of courses, which only lasted a couple of days, and the total added up to a month of study. He wasn’t there for any length of time, and never gained a recognised qualification.
And now his namesake, Owen Smith, joins him in this roll call of mendacity and bloated egoism. Owen Smith claimed that he was a director and board member of Amgen’s UK and Ireland division. Except he wasn’t. Amgen is the one of the world’s biggest biotech companies, and they stated that Smiffy worked for them for 18 months, but was not an officer of the company, and not on the board of directors. However, Smiffy’s team defended his lie by saying that he was on director level when he was working for the company, but the company was only allowed to have one, and that was in the USA. Nevertheless, his online CV has been amended.
Mike asks whether we really want a(nother) liar as Labour leader?
Clearly, we don’t. But we didn’t exactly need to see his falsified CV to known that he’s a proven liar. You just have to look at the antics of New Labour in their campaign to vilify Jeremy Corbyn, with false accusation of anti-Semitism, threats, misogyny and abuse, to see that the basic concept of telling the truth is utterly alien to them. Now this campaign goes far beyond Smudger, but he’s been part of it. He also lied about how he wasn’t part of the Labour party when he was working for Pfizer, urging the privatisation of the NHS. Except that he had been, and left the party specifically to work for Pfizer, before rejoining Labour to work for a unit cultivating good relations with the company. So, more lies.
The answer should be ‘No’, we don’t want another liar in government, and especially not after the death and chaos caused by the last Smudger in the Department for Work and Pensions.
This should cheer you up. It’s a very short video I found on Youtube from the show LipSync Battle from the Spike cable channel. It’s of Josh Gad miming to the Divinyls’ ‘I Touch Myself’. Well, Donald Trump is a narcissist of truly cosmic proportions. And yes, like the Cat from Red Dwarf, I can believe that he’d want to snog himself. It’s hilarious, satirical, and all too likely to be true of the man’s weird psychology.
Last week, Sarah Palin gave her official endorsement of Donald Trump, to the amazement and hilarity of Americans and, probably, much of the entire western hemisphere. In this piece I found on Youtube, the Vlogger Jaclyn Green gives her informed opinion on this momentous political event. It’s an hilarious critical commentary on Palin’s speech. With other clips of Palin speaking in the past, it shows just how incoherent, uninformed, stupid and, indeed, downright crazy the governor of Alaska is.
Along the way, Palin talks about how she wants to be in charge of the energy department, because it deals with America’s natural resources of oil and gas, not knowing that’s precisely what the department doesn’t deal with. It’s mostly concerned with America’s nuclear energy programme, which is definitely not something of which you’d want Palin in charge.
And there’s a completely incoherent rant from Palin about sending people, who work at McDonald’s, along with liberals, vegans, and picket lines to purgatory. I have no idea what was going on in the gubernatorial skull at the point. I don’t even think she knows. I think it’s just a case of the motor centres for the jaw being engaged without the rest of the cerebellum. As Kryten from Red Dwarf would say, ‘Oh, for a world class psychiatrist!’.
And some of her speech for Trump just seems to be push-button talking points. She starts raising a cheer for working mothers, then it’s guns, Jesus, religion and an appeal to elect Trump, because as commander in chief he’ll ‘kick ISIS’ ass!’ Oh yes, and Obama uses a teleprompter, and will soon see Trump Tower looming over him.
News programmes like The Young Turks and Secular Talk have commented that her speeches are pretty much word salad, disconnected words and phrases thrown together, followed by talking points taken from right-wing radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh. And here you can see it for yourself. You really do wonder how someone as misinformed, inarticulate and just plain stupid as Palin ever got to be governor of Alaska.
The frightening thing is, by this time next year, she and Trump could be the US government. In the meantime, watch this video and let your mind boggle, as we laugh our way to the demise of sensible politics.
This is another neat little photo from 1000 Natural Shocks (Warning: over 18 site) of the Coeloptere. This was a French experimental aircraft tested in the 1950s which sadly, didn’t take off. (Yes, bad pun intended!)
The plane was the idea of the Bureau Technique Zborowski, a design bureau composed of mainly ex-German engineers. The Coleoptere was to be a vertically launched aircraft, consisting of a small fuselage surrounded by a large wing, wrapped around the aircraft in the form of a giant ring. This wing would form a duct for a large propeller or turbine for a jet engine. It was believed that this design would give the plane additional thrust in forward flight, or allow it to become a ramjet and thus allow it to attain hypersonic speeds.
The French aviation development bureau, SNECMA (whose name does intend sound very close to a piece of profanity in Red Dwarf) took over the idea in 1952, and began tests on a variety of adapted planes. These planes were originally remote controlled. The first manned flight in a Coleoptere aircraft was made on 30 March 1957 by Auguste Morel in a tethered CP.400-P2. Untethered test lights began on the 14th May. This led to the development of the P3, which began testing the following year, 1958. This had the air intakes for the jet engine either side of the plane’s nose, which was shaped like that of a jet fighter. Morel was again the test pilot, occupying an ejector seat. From this configuration emerged the CP.450 Coleoptere, which commenced tether flight on the 17th April 1959, and then began flying freely from the 6th May. The French hoped that this would lead to the development of VTOL fighters powered by a modified Pratt & Whitney jet engine, with a ramjet engine housed in the annular wing. On one of the first free test flights, however, Morel was forced to eject, and the programme was subsequently abandoned.
The Coleoptere, from Bill Gunston: The Development of Jet and Turbine Aero Engines (Patrick Stephen Ltd 1995) 165.
More proof of Boris Johnson’s vaulting political ambitions, or at least, his galloping megalomania.
Looking through the Cheltenham branch of W.H. Smith a few weeks ago, I found on the magazine racks a glossy brochure devoted to Boris. Simply titled Boris Johnson, it was very much like the type of glossy specials brought out to celebrate a royal event, like the queen’s coronation, the jubilee, or a royal wedding. It also reminded me of some of the material that came out during Thatcher’s reign. Despite its highly offensive and distasteful subject matter to anyone on the Left, and to a few genuinely caring Tories, for that matter, there was a point to it. Most of these came out when Thatcher celebrated 13 years in power. She was at that point the longest serving British prime minister, and the first woman to hold the office. In those respects she deserved to be commemorated. Or at least, she had as much right to be as every other holder of the office.
Boris, on the other hand, is still some way away from that lofty post. He’s been editor of magazine, The Spectator, though so was the fictional Jim Hacker of Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister fame. And part of what made Hacker funny was that essentially he was a nondescript, junior MP, who was given a political office – the Minister for Administrative Affairs – who imagined himself as something far greater and grander. Like Winston Churchill. His voice took on the Great Warleader’s inflections and tones when he started to imagine the glorious political future stretching ahead of him, and the country under his benign leadership.
Which makes you wonder somewhat about Boris. Does he also stand in his office, posing as Churchill, trying to capture the great man’s tones and mannerisms in his office while no-one’s looking, conjuring up before his inner eye a magnificent future in which Maximus and UNUM have saved the government millions by killing off all the disabled through starvation, and the poor and proles are properly confined to their own ghettos and know their place?
The first part of that grim scenario is unlikely. Johnson has gained much of his popularity through posing as a loveable, bumbling oaf. He makes mistakes, but he means well, and it’s all a good laugh, so why not vote for him? In actual fact, while I’ve no doubt some of his accident prone persona is genuine, it strikes me as exaggerated and played up to get public sympathy. And people who know Johnson say he is a steely political operator with a vicious temper, quite different from the amiable fool that appears on Have I Got News For You.
The second part of that scenario, on the other hand, is all too plausible. It seems very clear that Johnson covets the role of PM, and would like to unseat, or at least, succeed Cameron in that role. And like the rest of the Tories, he has an absolute contempt for the poor and working and lower middle classes. It’s indicative of the contempt he feels for the people of London that he decided he couldn’t afford to pay the firemen a proper wage, but could buy three water cannons.
Cheltenham is also on the edge of the Cotswolds, and the magazines looks like it was designed to appear to the Cotswold set of very wealthy that live outside the town, reading magazines like Cotswold Life. Cheltenham itself is rather different, and has a large underclass, very like other towns such as Bath, where the very rich and the poor live practically cheek by jowl.
It also reminds me of the jokes about Adolf Hitler in Red Dwarf, when a set of photographs mutate so they can use them as a time machine. One of the photos is of Hitler, who Kryten recognises as he was featured in one of Rimmer’s specialist magazines: Fascist Dictator Monthly. The Fuehrer was Mr October. It also reminds me of the fan magazine devoted to the evil Torquemada, the genocidally racist grandmaster of Termight – Earth, thousands of years in the future – in 2000 AD’s ‘Nemesis the Warlock’ strip. As Torquemada was the absolute, totalitarian ruler of this nightmarish future Earth, he also had his fan magazine, with the slogan ‘Let’s talk Torquey’, and fan conventions. The last seemed partly modelled on the comics convictions that have been going since at least the ’70s. Johnson is far too clever to give in to the urge to make racist rants like Torquemada. He merely fronts TV series on the splendours of ancient Rome and appears as a genial guest on popular satirical quizzes.
But this is evidence of his megalomania, his driving ambition and his need for popular acclaim, as well as the popular votes, nonetheless. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
Protestor with a sign found outside Atos’ Weston-Super-Mare offices yesterday.
I couldn’t let this go without a comment. Mike on his post about yesterday’s nationwide protests against Atos, ‘Delights-and Disgraces – of the Atos Day of Protest’ over at Vox Political reports how the scrawled message shown above greeted demonstrators outside Atos’ Weston-Super-Mare offices. He says of it and the nasty mentality behind it
Clearly this office contains some very hard-line supporters of government policy, whose attitude demonstrates the blinkered, small-minded, fantasy-world attitude that allows policies like the Atos assessment regime to exist in a supposedly advanced country like ours.
Ian Duncan Smith: Has all the leadership ability and petty tyranny of Red Dwarf’s Arnold Judas Rimmer.
It also points to the kind of officious and pettily vindictive mentality now all too prevalent in the DWP under Ian Duncan Smith. I have already blogged before on the similarity, in my opinion, between Ian Duncan Smith in his delusions of political and military grandeur and his bully and contempt for those below him with Arnold Rimmer in the SF comedy Red Dwarf. It’s something of a truism that regimes take on the psychology of their leaders. The Soviet Union was a brutal tyranny, because its founders, Lenin and most particularly Stalin, were autocrats with a strong desire to seize and hold on to power and a fear of those below them. This psychology became a functional part of the system they created, with the officials at every level of the hierarchy bullying those below them, while at the same time plotting to take over their superiors’ positions when they in turn would be denounced and arrested.
Although politics in the USSR became much less lethal after Stalin’s death and the attacks on his ‘cult of personality’ in Khruschev’s Secret Speech of 1953, an attitude of petty officiousness and contempt for the Soviet public still remained among the system’s minor functionaries. Several Western writers on the Soviet Union noted how, wherever you went, there would always be a woman behind a desk, scowling at you and responding, ‘Nyelza!’ (‘It’s forbidden’) when you asked a question. One of the travel writers I read told how he was stuck in a stiflingly hot railway carriage during a journey through Russia in the 1980s. Despite the heat and the increasingly stuffy atmosphere, the carriage’s windows remained tightly closed. When he attempted to open them, the female supervisor rose up to snap them shut again with a snort of ‘Nyelza!’. The writer says at one point that the whole country appeared to be run by these ferocious women behind their desks.
The writer did, however, record a minor victory of the Soviet public over these petty officials. He was stuck in a long queue waiting to use the ‘Up’ escalator at the Moscow metro, if I recall correctly. There was no-one coming down the ‘Down’ escalator, which had a sign saying it was strictly forbidden to try to go up it. Standing in front of the escalators, making sure no-one did any such thing, was one of these ladies behind a desk. A young man then came running through the crowd, and before the female official could stop him, vaulted over the barrier and ran up the ‘Down’ escalator. The writer said he and the rest of the crowd silently rejoiced at this act of defiance. I don’t suggest anyone try this stunt, however, as I have a feeling someone was either killed or seriously injured a little while ago when doing something similar.
Ian Duncan Smith has similarly left his psychological mark on the Department for Work and Pensions. As I’ve blogged about before, this seems to be full of backbiting and treachery by the civil servants employed there, as they frantically compete for each other’s jobs. At the same time, all too many of them have complete contempt for the people below them. The Void especially has blogged about the outrage caused by some of these, who have boasted about the number of people they’ve sanctioned. He and many other Left-wing bloggers have also described the various secret instructions from the DWP to Jobcentre staff setting quotas for the number of claimants to be thrown off benefits. Some Jobcentres have even awarded prizes for those, who have sanctioned the most claimants, and there have been bonuses paid to those, who have done so.
Clearly, despite Atos claims that they are not responsible for government policy, they fully share the contempt for the disabled and the unemployed shown by IDS and his staff in the DWP and Jobcentres. This attitude is blatantly clear in the above sign. In my experience, and those of many of the disabled people and their carers, who have commented on this blog, Atos and their officials are mendacious in the extreme. They have and will lie in the assessments and will falsify claimants’ answers in the assessment forms in order to have them thrown off their benefit. Their conduct and the assessment itself is based on the presumption that most people claiming benefit are actually capable of some work, even when it is clear that they cannot. In their view, they are, like the great mass of the unemployed, just scroungers, and so should be treated as such. Hence this nasty little sign.
I don’t know if this would actually help anyone, but if anyone in Weston-Super-Mare is in dispute with Atos over the results of their assessment, it might be worth pointing to this sign as an example of the prejudice and contempt Atos has towards their claimants.
I am also of the opinion that whatever Atos and the DWP try to say to the contrary, this sign should be given all the publicity it truly deserves to show just how Atos and its staff are motivated by contempt and spite towards the most vulnerable members of society. At a time when even the nastiest companies are concerned to give themselves the best, media-friendly image possible, this might cause them some degree of embarrassment. It probably won’t embarrass their boss, Thierry Breton, or Ian Duncan Smith and the disabilities’ minister, Esther McVey, as their too far gone for any kind of shame or even basic humanity by now. But it might – just might – add another little piece to pull their marketing managers up short, and make others question the wisdom of doing business with a company with such a bad reputation.
Okay, it probably won’t. For all the bad publicity, Serco, Atos and G4S are still in business. But as ASDA keeps reminding us, ‘Every little bit helps’. Or is that Sainsbury’s?
If you’re planning another protest against Atos in Weston-Super-Mare, their address is Regent House, Oxford Place, Weston-Super-Mare, Somerset, BS23 1JH. They also have a website here http://www.atoshealthcare.com/claimants/locations_home/Locations_Details_Weston%20.
A few weeks ago, I post a piece suggesting that the Ian Duncan Smith bears more than a passing similarity to a certain Red Dwarf character. This character was also cowardly, bullying, fixated on military glory and with delusions of the magnitude of his own abilities far beyond his own, meagre talents. This character, however, was entertaining and with a noble and heroic alter ego, who roamed the spacelanes righting wrongs and fighting against tyranny and Fascism, which is far more than can be said for IDS. One of the excellent commenters on this blog suggested that all that was needed to make it really funny was for someone to produce a photoshopped image of IDS as his Red Dwarf counterpart.
Well, your wish is my command, matey!
So behold your master, Ian Duncan Rimmer!
So, I’m standing here in a red gingham dress, with my welfare policies given to me by the king of the Potato People, and you don’t think I’m mad? We don’t like Lefties and benefit scroungers, do we, Mr Fribble?