Touchdown For Perseverance

This is without doubt the picture of the day.

Jezero crater

I was watching the footage of the landing on Mars last night, and got very excited. To pull off such a complex landing is an awesome achievement, both for NASA and humanity itself. What is even more exciting, though, is the fact that last night was only the beginning: as incredible as the landing was, as the Beeb notes here, Perseverance has two years of research and exploration ahead of it. I can’t wait until the real data starts coming back.

Blogging about (not) blogging

I reckon blogging has driven me a teensy bit mad. Ever since I started keeping a weblog, it has been a personal rule to upload an entry at least every two days. I know how lazy I can be, so I told myself to make an effort to keep it up. An entry every couple of days seemed reasonably regular. The thing is, you may have noticed that I usually blog every day; this is because, whenever I skip a day, on the second day I get rather anxious at the thought of knowing I must do an entry, so to avoid that anxiety I blog every day. It’s kinda crazy: I know nothing bad will happen if I don’t keep my blog updated – nobody will take my blog away from me. Yet this has been the state of affairs for about eighteen years. I try my best to blog and get anxious if I don’t, resulting in entries about all sorts of random things – even about getting anxious about not blogging.

Rage and Hate

I am starting to worry about how angry I get sometimes. It had been a nice day until about an hour ago: I had had a lovely walk through a couple of the local parks (I even found a new one) before buying lunch and coming home at about three. Looking for something interesting to get into for the rest of the afternoon, I thought I’d check for news about next year’s Brexit Festival. There”s still not much detail about it, and I didn’t find anything interesting; like most people, I’m still convinced it will be a complete waste of money. However, on Youtube I came across a political vlog about it. The video struck me as ambiguous, and I couldn’t quite tell whether the chap who made it was for or against the festival, so I thought I’d watch another of his videos.

This turned out to be about Brexit, and again the vlogger’s stance seemed hard to discern. I had no problem with it at first, but then it showed footage of someone I’ll name only as NF. I instantly began to get angry: NF is one of those people I cannot abide the sight of. He is a charlatan whose baseless, arrogant views have done so much damage to the country, if you ask me he should be denied the right to voice them. If he had his way, he would do away with the open tolerant society I hold dear and turn the UK into a backward-looking neo-victorian hell. Airing the footage he produces only panders to him and facilitates him when he should be ignored as the irrelevant embarrassment to human civilisation he is. I instantly felt my body tense up and shake with rage; even the merest sight of this person or sound of his loathsome, self-important voice is enough to reduce me to white hot anger. I know how illogical getting so angry is, but for a few moments I felt an intense, burning hatred: I wished with every fibre of my being that the pestulent scumbag on the screen would die a slow, agonising death for all the damage his lies have done.

Such thoughts horrify me: capital punishment is never acceptable, and one should never wish such ill on anyone. Yet I can’t help thinking such things, as if for a few moments I become so angry that I lose all perspective. In the end I had to turn the video off and move away from my computer. In my bedroom looking out of my window, I could feel my heart beating. I know many people with Athetoid Cerebral Palsy experience this kind of lack of emotional control, and that it is connected to the brain damage we suffered at birth. It only lasts a few moments before I calm down. Nonetheless, to hate someone so intensely, to begrudge him every breath he draws into his chest, and to feel so angry that you lose control of your limbs and have to consciously stop yourself putting your fist through your computer screen, is truly frightening.

A job I would love to apply for

I’ve never really considered applying for a job, but I just saw this story on BBC evening news. “The European Space Agency says it wants to recruit someone with a disability as part of its call for new astronauts. Esa will be accepting applications in March to fill four-to-six vacancies in its astro corps but it wants this draft process to be as inclusive as possible. The search for a potential flier with additional functional needs will be run in parallel to the main call.” The Trekkie in me really, really wants to apply. I’ve always dreamed of flying into space, exploring the galaxy and boldly going where no one has gone before. Then again, it might not be such a good idea: would I be able to look after myself in zero G? And given I can barely control my powerchair sometimes, who knows what damage I’d cause if the ESA let me loose on a multi-billion Euro rocket.

Not Fit People To Be In Government

I may be going out on a bit of a limb here, but I’m going to come out and say that I seriously do not think that anyone who believes a person’s ability to make money is as important as our security from a deadly virus is a fit and proper person to be anywhere near the government of this or any other country. It makes me furious to hear that a group of Tories is now lobbying to get the Coronavirus restrictions lifted as soon as May. They argue that the risks to public health must be weighed against the damage lockdown does to the economy, as if the two should be somehow perceived as equal, and the ability of individuals to make money is just as important as peoples right to live long, healthy lives.

Do such people not care that lifting restrictions too soon practically invites a third, even more severe wave? Do they not see that the sudden return to normal they crave would mean everyone coming out and mixing, transmitting the remnants of the virus, leading to many more deaths? Of course they don’t: all that matters to these Tory monsters is their ability and the ability of people like them to make money. The way they see it, who cares if others are dying as long as the economy is on the mend and they’re getting richer. After all, an improving economy makes the government look good.

Theirs is a selfish, arrogant worldview which values the greed of the few over the welfare of the many. A country should be governed for the good of all. Thus, given that their views pose such an obvious danger to our health, I seriously think that the members of this group of tories (no doubt the same despicable charlatans who conned the country into voting to leave the EU) should be forced to resign immediately.

A Mission of Hope

Regardless of how depressing – and disturbing – the political news from both sides of the Atlantic is becoming (it seems that, in the United States, no matter how obviously guilty you are, if you’re Donald Trump and you’re being tried by the Republican Party, you can get away with anything) at least those of us interested in the exploration of space have this to content ourselves with. “The United Arab Emirates’ Hope mission has returned its first picture of Mars. The spacecraft entered into an orbit around the Red Planet on Tuesday, making the UAE the first Arab nation in history to have a scientific presence at Earth’s near neighbour. This first image will be followed by many similar such views of Mars.” Taking the politics surrounding the UAE as read, the pictures being returned to Earth are fascinating. I hope this goes to show that, no matter how divided we all are right now, there should always be things such as scientific research humanity can come together over.

Could Connery have played Kincaid?

Sometimes all you can do is wonder what might have been, but this could have been pretty awesome if they had pulled it off. According to Screenrant, Sam Mendes initially considered Sean Connery for the role of Kincaid in Skyfall. Of course, as the article points out, that idea was not unproblematic: casting Connery in the role may well have been too much of a distraction from the main plot of the film; audiences would have been too fixated on the return of the first James Bond actor to notice what was happening to the latest. Yet, I have to say I can’t help thinking it might have kicked arse: the elderly Connery would have been perfect for the role, and his return to the franchise may have been one of those delicious little throwbacks or extra-textual references I and others get so excited about. It would have been like 007 was returning to his roots just as he was returning to his family home. That could have added an extra dynamic to the film which may well have made it even greater than it was. In the end, I suppose the fact that they cast Albert Finney in the role was for the best – he did an excellent job, after all – but I still can’t help wondering what might have been.

Back to Sia

I just came across this article about a film called Music by someone called Sia. I’ve not watched or heard either, but the film apparently has a character with Autism who is the sister of the main character. The author of the article complains that an autistic actor was not cast to portray her. As I’ve touched upon on here before at some length, that is an argument those of us with physical disabilities have been making for years, and it gets on my nerves how such so-called self-defining autistics seem to be using it as their own more and more, yet without any recognition of what went before. It feels like it has somehow now become fashionable to have some kind of disability or impairment and to take up the language of advocacy. I find seeing what can be a very profound disability being treated so flippantly deeply troubling and even insulting. The problem is, if this trend continues, voices like mine risk being drowned out as a result.

Who Framed Roger Rabbit

Yesterday was quite a dismal day. Stuck at home due to the weather,, at about four I was mucking around on Youtube when I came across a video about Who Framed Roger Rabbit. I was fairly dismissive of it at first, but it looked at how influential the film was in terms of film history, arguing that it more or less lead to a revolution in animation. It aroused my interest enough that I thought I would try to check the original film out – I reckoned I needed a bit of cheering up anyway.

I found Who Framed Roger Rabbit on Disney Plus (thanks Luke) and settled down to watch it. I vaguely remember watching it at home with my parents and brothers when I was six or so, but I don’t think I had seen it since then. I expected to be watching a children’s film, but soon realised Who Framed Roger Rabbit was far, far more interesting. While on the surface it was fairly lightweight and slapstick, it was obvious there were some pretty serious themes running through the film: most obvious, perhaps, was the clear cultural division between humans and toons, and the way in which humans treated toons as second class citizens being a metaphor for racism. On top of that, as demonstrated in this very good piece of analysis, when you watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit as an adult, you quickly find it is anything but a children’s film.As well as the fact that the dialogue is replete with double entendre, there are references to things like alcoholism, sex and violence children simply would not pick up upon, yet which are quite overt to grown up viewers.

I found the way in which this film thus worked on two separate levels intriguing, as well as the interplay between live action and animation. Who Framed Roger Rabbit might ostensibly be a children’s film, but it’s a very interesting piece of cinematic art: comic, slapstick but with noirish overtones and quite a serious subtext about prejudice and oppression. Not having seen it since I was about six, it was a great way to cheer up on an otherwise fairly miserable afternoon; yet, viewed as a work of art, there is a hell of a lot to explore about this film. I must admit I was quite taken with it, and now intend to look deeper.