Following on from Yesterday’s entries, just to complete the trilogy of my obsessions, and not having anything more interesting to say tonight, I think I’ll send you here. I know it’s a month late, but I just ought to note the next Bond film, Skyfall, has me very excited; as with star trek and the Hobbit, I greet news of it with great eagerness. Mind you, I can’t help but note this probably means I’m a sucker for big franchises.


I am not sure how it slipped under my sensor, but today I came across a documentary about Star trek fans called Trekkies. It is pretty interesting – there are quite a few very eccentric people on there, including one woman who insisted on wearing her star fleet uniform to court when she was doing jury service. There are also one or two very touching stories, such as one about how james Doohan prevented a woman from committing suicide.

But there is one thing which struck me especially, a coincidence which I need to record. I never knew this before, but the character Geordi LaForge was named in honour of a guy called Jordan Laforge, a star trek fan with Muscular Dystrophy who died in 1975. He wrote to gene Rodenberry, explaining that he attributed the fact that he had lived so much longer than he was forecast to, to the fact he watched star trek. Rodenberry decided to pay tribute to him by naming Geordie, a blind man who in the first few seasons piloted the Enterprise, after him. I cannot help but wonder whether Andrew Fox ever knew this. He had MD too, and back at school I remember talking about star trek for hours with him. He was a huge star trek fan – probably a bigger fan than I was at the time; it seemed to give him hope, to cheer him up. Who knows: maybe it inspired him to live longer too. I often think of Foxy, especially when I’m watching star trek. Part of m masters thesis is on star trek fandom, and indeed my own relationship with star trek, so Foxy gets a small mention. This fact therefore strikes me in a very weird, quite uncanny way: I was watching the documentary as sort of revision ahead of rewriting the corresponding chapter of my thesis, but it inadvertently took me back to the roots of my own fandom, back to the very reason why star trek means so much to me in the first place. This fact, minor to most people, therefore strikes me with great satisfaction: most of all it strikes me as oddly fitting, as if it completed a circle I never knew existed.

he hobbit trailer

It is here! The first trailer for the Hobbit is finally here . I’ve been watching it for clues about the film, and, although there are one or two things I’m not sure about, such as the possibility of Gandalf having a love interest, on the wholeI find it rather exciting. The net will now probably be abuzz with romours and gossip as the fans try to dissect this trailer, and although I suspect professor Tolkien himself might have frowned at the frenzy, I can’t help but yelp with excitement!

not a goodidea

I woke up several times during last night; I always do after a heavy evening of drinking, and yesterday evening was HEAVY. Smeg knows how much I drank. It was all or a good cause though: chopper said he was going t meet up with his cousins later in the evening, a combination which, by all accounts, usually results in trouble. The way in which chopper described his outings with his cousins scared me – he refused point blank to take me along as he said it would not be safe – so I decided to get him as drunk as I could so he would stay at home and go to bed instead of going to Deptford and doing something stupid. In a way, I was trying to keep him safe.

I quickly realised, however, that this was not one of my better ideas: trying to outdrink a burly south-east Londoner was foolish. I failed in my mission: chopper brought me back home at about half ten and went out anyway; smeg knows when I’ll see him again. Mind you, I did have a few good ideas for blog entries during my wakeful moments – for example, soon I intend to write one on why Political correctness is necessary – but that will have to wait until my hangover dies down.

Cristopher Hitchens

After watching the Paxman interview with Christopher Hitchens, it occurred to me what a loss to the world his death is. He was a great writer, a great thinker – far better at both than I could ever hope to be, and a far better one than his hack brother. Some of his opinions surprised me though – I expected hitches to be a left wing liberal, but was surprised to hear he supported the iraq war, for example.

Yet, as I was thinking earlier – in something of a revelation for me – there’s nothing in left-wing philosophy that is liberal. If society took precedence over the individual, it follows that the weakest, least productive members of society should be weeded out as what matters is the strength of the community rather than the needs of the individual. That is why I cannot call myself a communist, and haven’t done so in a long time. From certain points of view, statism is intolerant and unegalitarian; yet so is libertarianism in that, if people were totally free to do what they want, where would that leave disabled people? Total individualism, ie the total withdrawal of state mechanisms like the benefit system, totally screws us cripples and those less cut out to fend for theirselves. This is a waste of talent and human potential; I firmly believe, then, that the community needs to care for all of it’s members, and that the best way to do this is via a central body – a government. I realised earlier that my long-held belief that one could be both left wing and liberal might not be possible, something which I need to reflect on.

I’m therefore a liberal egalitarian insofar as it is possible to be one, but not a communist. My own ruminations aside, Hitchens himself explored such things with far more authority than I ever can. At the same time, though, it is vital we have such debates, both in our own minds and with each other – we must always question what we believe by reading, writing, and debating. If Christopher Hitchens taught us anything, it is that.

Chivalry and cake

I thought I’d share this picture of me and Lyn, which marta took when we visited a local cafe on friday. It’s nice and warm and christmassy, isn’t it? There was only one bit of cake left, so I had a sandwich and let Lyn have it. See – I can be chivalrous when I want to be! [img description=”undefined image” align=”centre”]/images/ cafe pic 1.jpg[/img]

polar beargate

Given that I have occasionally blogged about Frozen Planet and other Attenborough-related stuff, I should probably give my two cents over the recent kerfuffle about the faking of certain scenes. The thing is, as much as I love David Attenborough and his programs, I do feel somewhat cheated; as an academic I think the beeb should have been more explicit in stating that certain scenes were not as they appeared to be. Of course, I understand why the scenes of the polar-bear cubs need to be shot in captivity; I just don’t like the way the show was cut to make the program look like it was filmed in the wild.

However, I don’t think we can be too hard on the bbc, and I certainly don’t think this in any way diminishes Attenborough’s reputation. After al, the only way that the tabloid press could have got wind of this story at all is by looking at the Beeb’s own website, so they were still open about it, just not as open as they could have been. As noted here, moreover, the bbc has experimented with on-screen titles which explicitly state where such scenes were filmed, but that it was found that ” [audiences] were quite happy simply [being told] after the programme, on the website, how we do it so those who want to know how it was made can find out. We’ve thought very hard about this and talked to the public.” I’m therefore quite happy with what the bbc did, even if I too raised an eyebrow at it. After all, it is not as if they tried to cover it up; on the whole, I think hey were explicit as they could have been without effecting the flow of the programme*. I think the fact that such a lot was made of this actually says more about the tabloids – they are clearly trying to fling muck at the bbc at time when they are in trouble. And I think phone hacking is a far more serious charge than filming polar bears in a sanctuary rather than in the wild, and not stating it overtly. *Television has no capacity for footnotes, after all

sorry rocky

I suppose it is fair to say that yesterday was a pretty crappy day, all told. Given that I blogged that she was pregnant a few weeks ago, I must now sadly report that my friend Marcie announced that she had lost her baby. That cut me up quite a bit; I just feel it is unfair, and that it shouldn’t have happened. I was in two minds over mentioning it, but it just seemed that I had to. Marcie should know that she has my total respect, and all my love, and that the next time we meet she should be prepared for a huge cuddle.

yet worse to come?

The Americans are finally pulling out of Iraq. I can’t say that I blame them: like many people I opposed the war from the start, and it has been one huge disaster after another. Although Husain has been deposed an indeed executed, he fact is none of his wmd were ever found, no was anything linking him to al Qa’ida. It’s hard to think that those 4500 American troops and 100000+ Iraqi civilians died for much good; indeed, the world feels much less safe than it did ten years ago.

For the old certainties are no longer there. Where ten years ago, the economy was booming, we are now in a depression in all but name; where America was allpowerful, it’s empire and its influence is now crumbling; where ten years ago the UK was led by people of learning of honour, we now have a government of lying, selfish twats wrecking the economy, the wealth fare state and our relationship with Europe. As I wrote here, the last ten years have treated me well, but the world at large has been less fortunate. It has changed, taken a turn for the worse, and, looking out of my office window onto a cold, wintry London, I fear there is now yet worse to come. Given that the last ten years have seen ten years of constant conflict in iraq and Afghanistan, a severe economic downturn and now the likely break-up of the European Union, I must admit it’s hard to stop the Armageddon scenarios running through my brain. And the worst thing is, now we’re outside of europe, there is little we brits can do about it.

A working class hero by alex Mcmillan

I yelped with glee when I got news of this earlier today. My friend Alex, who I studied writing at university with, is now a published author. I must admit it makes me feel a little ashamed of myself for not writing something publishable myself, but then, the truth is Alex is a far better writer than I’ll ever be. I could tell, even from his short stories back at uni, that he was bound for greatness; his style is unique, and has a kind of real-ness to it. Thus I know, even without reading it, that this nove will bee great. Go check it out.