29 October 2009

Boobs Ahoy!

Yes, The Mail actually are running an article entitled

'Mummy, why do those ladies have no clothes on?'
Superb, truly superb - While Viv Groksop says she doesn't want to censor anything (natch), 'it seems the prudes have got it right.'

Ah, yes, the good old 'I don't want to agree, but I must, for the public good' line, it works much better than antagonistic campaigner mode (also known as Hattie's second law), an alternative title for this would be 'I'm not racist prudish but..'

So, what's the story? Well, a five-year-old picked up a lads mag - conveniently the offending article is not actually pictured, but a similar one is lifted from Loaded - I don't see the relevance of using a different magazine with a different picture, particularly when Loaded (or 'Porn for wusses') is, in my experience at least, generally in the Men's interest, section while Nuts and Zoo are weeklies usually placed nearer the newspapers (now, I'll leave it up to whether I know this from buying them, or stocking them) - but we do actually have no proof of:

"two nubile girls in a steamy embrace, both completely nude but for a generous slick of lip gloss"

I guess we'll have to take your word for it, Viv - but isn't the picture rather misleading? As it implies that it's proof of the offending article, and if she's anything like my mother she'll be massively over-exaggerating - in mum speak 'completely nude!' normally means 'they have a small bikini on!'

And I really would like the Daddy's opinion on this, a man behind Viv was sniggering (as I would), and as I was reading this I was thinking 'if that was his Dad he would've found it hilarious', she conveniently brings him in at the end:

Three days later he returned to the same newsagent with his dad and pulled the copy of Nuts out from where he had remembered it was: 'Dad - take a look at this!' Pandora's Box is well and truly open.

Note how there is no reference to how Daddy reacted...probably pissed himself laughing

Truth is, I do actually agree with not putting these mags with children's comics, but the thing is - do they? I can't say I've ever been in a shop where Dora was next to Nuts, the weeklies are generally quite visible, but not in with the kiddie stuff, maybe the football stuff, but not comics - this really comes down to a question of what should be visible and what shouldn't - they want 'age appropriate stickers' and to remove them from 'toddler head-height'

Effectively what that means is somehow covering them up - because a sticker will do nowt unless it covers the images, it's not going to stop a toddler picking it up (not that a five year old is a toddler - toddlers, by definition, 'toddle') - and out of sight is top-shelf, like really high top shelf, because while you may be able to protect your under-4s from looking at things and noticing magazines, once they get to five and over they're a bit more observant, kids have eyes after all, the top shelf is there because 1) they can't reach, and 2) because it's a steeper angle for the little munchkins

They are far more aware, and I'm afraid I have to tell the author here that your boy is going to find all this out pretty soon - right now it's just new and entertaining, but he won't forget the image like a toddler would, and soon enough he's going to want to find these pictures, start seeing rude things on tv when he sneakily stays up late and becoming 'interested' in the female form by about the age of eight, if I'm anything to go by (and why do you think we men are amused by this? - Because we all did it!) - all she's trying to do is prevent her son seeing such images because she doesn't want him to see them, but it's an uphill battle that requires censorship of pretty much everything

She is perfectly entitled to try of course, but why should everybody else pay the price for her world view - in effect we'll be asking teenage boys to return to the days of reaching up to the top shelf, purchasing a sealed bag, and then probably carrying it home in a brown bag because it's 'taboo' again, and what will the age restriction be? Will 'Prudes United' (new tag!) allow a rating of say, 12 or 13, bearing in mind this is not even nudity and is the obvious demographic of these things? Or will it be a ridiculous 18 or 16? And will it be legally enforceable? Despite there being no nudity, and no breach of the Obscene Publications act

Those poor boys, denied their own fix of non-nudity, while the pseudo-feminists cheer and read their equally revealing fashion mags (but that's artistic) from the pram-height shelves, all because some people feel that:

These ladies' poses are not 'cheeky' or 'saucy' as the editors behind these magazines argue - their purpose is far more blatant than that.

In her opinion...given all the more (false) weight by the fact that the author knows sexy, because she worked for Esquire in the 90s - well that's settled then...

I'd like to know what the justification is, does it cause mental problems in young children? Does it create half-pint perverts? Or is it just that some people don't like these images and think they're inappropriate and want to force their opinions on a democratic society? Because as far as I can tell, all these do is use the female form to arouse males, there's no sex, not even frontal nudity, just body shape and a bit of flesh, something little boys can work out themselves without any literature

There have always been Mary Whitehouses, and they have always lost - lighten up and accept that you can't protect your little babies forever

Meanwhile, I'm think I'm going to be taking my six-year-old nephew shopping...

28 October 2009

Frakking Toasters

Stargate: Universe Review

Sorry for the misleading title, but I could think of little more appropriate to describe the Stargate franchise’s newest offering – Stargate Universe, which sees the series head off in a rather new direction as a rag-tag group are stranded on an ancient ship, far far away, with no way to get home

So I thought a Battlestar reference was in order, it was either that or a Voyager one…

Does it sound a tad similar to the last series – Atlantis, which featured a rag-tag team of scientists and soldiers stranded in the lost city of Atlantis, far far away..?

In fact, the main difference between the set-up for the two shows is that Atlantis used the rarely-used eighth chevron, Universe used the mysterious ninth chevron, ooooh…

Both arrived on an Ancient vessel threateningly close to losing power - but that’s about where the similarities end, the shows may be vaguely similar in their concept, but Universe is very different – the team are completely unprepared, evacuated to an unknown destination while under attack, taking virtually no supplies and several wounded – whereas Atlantis was a deliberate mission

The Atlantis team quickly resolved the major threat to them when the city saved them by automatically rising out of the sea, and while in the same vein, the Destiny provided the SGU team with a source of mineral for life support, the mission was a trek across the desert with barely any water, and it’s power then failed and it headed for a sun – Atlantis, once risen, started making away teams and set about exploring, in a virtual carbon-copy of the long-running SG-1 show

There was even an overbearing colonel introduced who gets seriously injured right at the start, seemingly paving the way for our all-round American hero lt. Scott to take charge, just like John Shepherd did after the rock-headed Col. Sumner died in the premiere – even teasing us with the idea that the seemingly dying colonel Young would sacrifice himself – but alas, they were toying with us and he lives on as a main character, with a limp

Colonel Young serves as a metaphor for the different direction that Universe takes from its sister show - in a way, Universe is almost an anti-Atlantis – dealing with the issues of actually being stranded, with no source of food, water or power, or even the right people for the job

This is a much more character driven show – it is in fact, remarkably similar to Battlestar Galactica – very dark, with lots of eerie music, silent fly-bys in space and none of the camp, cartoonish aliens that previously passed for sinister, and while a degree of exploration is included, there are unlikely to be any friendly villagers called Galon or Jinto, nor any big enemy spaceships to blow up, this a thoroughly different show, focusing primarily on the human flaws of the crew

This in turn leads to much better characters, and acting, so it is rather a big deal that the show have proper Hollywood actor Robert Carlyle as the protagonist Dr. Nicholas Rush, who is Scottish, irritable, and also quite sinister – a much deeper character than the comical Rodney McKay or straightforward Col. Carter, and he is backed up by the antagonistic Colonel Young, a more humourless version of the infamous Jack O'Neil, then there's T.J - a sole medic who was supposed to have left the force, and so 'has issues' - Chloe, a tortured political assistant who is in practical terms, useless, and again 'has issues', and there's also a seriously disturbed sergeant, Greer, who really does 'have issues' – while Eli Wallace (David Blue) provides the archetypal wise-cracking member of the team, obviously Stargate couldn’t change that much and there remains somewhat of a link to their light-hearted SG-1 roots through him

Another notable point is that the crew brought an Ancient communicator that meant they were in contact with Earth right from the start – an intriguing inclusion to the plot, instantly removing any inevitable plots about making contact with home, and the mystery that would surround the issue, which were major points in Atlantis, and indeed, Voyager – they got rid of that right from the start, a good move in my view, it takes away any viewer questions about when we’ll be seeing Earth and the inevitable ‘we’ve found a way to communicate’ episode a couple of seasons in – and it also allows characters to return home and talk to loved ones – useful for the development of the plot – although what I can’t understand is why they don’t use it to bring in some more scientists (like Jackson or Carter) to work on their problems, as the somewhat unstable Rush is essentially alone as an expert and there are several useless minds on there

So yeah, see Battlestar Galactica (it really is remarkably similar) – but with less mission-control and more exploration – time will tell if it can pull away from the cheesy 'lets go exploring' world of Stargate, and if it can it do a better job than the often overly character-focused BSG

27 October 2009

Bedroom Snooping?

The media are having a bit of a field day with news that the next census will be the 'most intrusive ever carried out'

The Conservatives said the attempt to find out sleeping arrangements was particularly objectionable. [Tory Nick Hurd] said "An increasingly invasive and intrusive census will erode public support, cost more and result in a less accurate survey."
This is in regards to finding out that

'The 2011 survey will demand to know how many bedrooms there are in homes and detailed information about any 'overnight visitors'

What outrage! Right, so let's have a look at the ONS site, where the Mail found this information, for it, shall we

Did you get that - overnight visitors 'present on census night'

That's not so bad is it? Just one night, in case that person isn't at home that night, and did you notice the asterisks next to certain questions? Those indicate new questions (some were even mentioned by the Mail) - number of bedrooms is new, but number of rooms is not, evidence available on the old censuses here

Other new questions shown are on civil partnerships and identity, as well as ones for entry into the UK (for non-citizens) - that's it, so I really don't get how this is anymore intrusive - counting bedrooms is apparently wrong

Funny that, because counting rooms never has been - here is 2001:

And just in case this is a despicable Labour plan, here it is in 1991

Pretty standard practice then - counting bedrooms though is too far, because previously you could only count rooms, but not bathrooms or toilets - so you couldn't simply work it out by just taking 2 or 3 off the total - i.e. kitchen and living room, maybe a study/dining room - the rest are what....reception areas?

Seems a pretty reasonable request to me - many people these days have 2 living rooms, and I don't really see how it's intrusive to ask a basic estate agent question

But the Mail (and apparently the Tories) seem to think the government are after all the details of your guests, snooping into who you sleep with every night of the year - despite this only referring to one night, as censuses are based on one single day, and you can even lie and just say you were home - the visitor question is I believe, so that you don't miss out if you're not at home, hence why they take your usual address

But don't let me witter on, here's the evidence, 2001:


The most intrusive census ever carried out!

I felt the article was particularly misleading (yes, more than usual) - but I can't find any real way to lodge an official complaint, as they seem to have covered themselves pretty well using implications and faux-outrage, with well placed, non-specific quotes - the bit I really object to is this (red = my words)

The 2011 survey will demand to know how many bedrooms there are in homes and detailed information about any 'overnight visitors'. [already standard practice]
....The Conservatives said the attempt to find out sleeping arrangements was particularly objectionable.
The demand for the number of bedrooms in each home, coupled with a requirement to give the name, sex, date of birth and address of any overnight visitors [again, already a standard question], amounted to 'bedroom snooping', they said.

The 2011 census will ask these things - but they are implying it's some sort of new thing, this is very misleading to me, but as they only imply it, is there really a case for complaint?

I guess that's what they pay their writers to do instead of actual writing...

26 October 2009

Why do we pay for this?

Imagine if you will, giving an MP or a minister breakfast in bed every morning, personally delivered by a tax-payer funded lackey who cooks all your meals and even gets your clothes out

Imagine the outrage - Brown got it in the neck for having a cleaner, Smith decorated her house, Tories cleaned moats - our elected officials were living the high-life at our expense, the audacity to have someone deliver them breakfast at 8am when most of us are already on our way to work on a rushed down piece of toast

But no-one ever mentions this side of the Queen - unelected, with no practical purpose, and yet she receives far more money than any individual elected politician, and not a peep from the press about our taxes wasted on butlers and footmen, in fact, while politicians constantly have to engage in hairy-shirt contests, the taxpayer-funded lives of royalty are practically praised and seen as something interesting and quite acceptable

Is it not a tad strange?

25 October 2009

A fair cross-secton?

Apparently the audience of QT last week was "slanted towards the young, multi-cultural and metropolitan"

Was it really? Here is the picture the Mail use as evidence

Click to enlarge, but here's a run down, starting from the back down

1: Old white guy, white guy, ethnic lady in veil, ethnic man, white woman, white man
2: Old white guy, old white guy, old white guy,old white woman, old white guy, ethnic man
3: White guy, ethnic lady, white guy, slightly dark-skinned lady, white guy, white woman
4: White guy, white guy, black guy, white guy, white guy, old white guy
5: White guy, white woman, black woman. ethnic woman, white woman, ethnic woman
6: Black guy, white guy, white guy, ethnic man, white guy, white guy
7: White woman, white guy, white woman, possibly-ethnic woman, black woman, white guy
8: White guy, ethnic man, white guy, white guy, white woman, old Chinese man

Hmmm, I wrote 'white' quite a lot there, notice I separated 'black' and 'ethnic' - mainly for the reason that I have little doubt that the black people would be British Londoners, and second it's harder to identify people who look vaguely foreign, let's do a quick tally

48 people - 33 were white, 11 were ethnic in some way (and that's the conservative estimate), 4 were black

So that's 69% white, 23% ethnic, and 8% black

From Wikipedia (source: ONS)

According to the Office for National Statistics, based on 2006 estimates, 69.4 per cent of the 7.5 million inhabitants of London were White...Some 13.1 per cent are of South Asian descent. 10.7 per cent of London's population are Black, with around 5.5 per cent being Black African, 4.3 per cent as Black Caribbean and 0.7 per cent as "Other Black". 3.5 per cent of Londoners are of mixed race; 1.5 per cent are Chinese; and 1.9 per cent belong to another ethnic group.[3]
That appears to be a scarily representative group there - white people almost perfectly represented, m sloppy label of 'ethnic' is a bit over-represented, and black people are slightly under-represented

So can I ask what exactly the Mail have a problem with? London is full of people who are non-white and they put up a picture showing a clear majority of white people and claim it is slanted to 'multicultural' people, and god knows what 'metropolitan' people are - by definition people who live in a metropolis (otherwise known as 'London') - funny that, it being filmed in London and all...

I hope anyone who read that noticed the idiocy of the suggestion with that photo, and the underlying theme that, in my opinion, was 'it wasn't white enough', despite being shot in London - all the while the Mail go out of their way to publish articles condemning the BNP, while railing against immigrants and implying non-whites are unfairly over-represented. This is surely a new height of ludicrousness for the Mail, having a go at the audience for being too young and multicultural, while providing the evidence that totally smashes their argument

So was it a fair cross-section? Yes, you idiots!

You know something?

While the Mail (and others) harangue the BBC for inviting Griffin on and blame it for the possible rise in it's popularity, do they not realise that the main culprits are themselves?

They say the BBC gave him a platform - now what, pray tell, were Sky news doing when they broadcast his absurd complaint? And what are the Mail and the rest of the newspapers doing by saying one in four might vote for them, and constantly banging on at the BBC and allowing Griffin to 'play the martyr'

Sky gave him a better platform than the BBC did, and the Mail are primarily the ones who say he was unfairly treated in their attempts to destroy the BBC

The show didn't need to provoke controversy - the press could have let it rest, like they do pretty much every Question Time episode, but no - they had to big it up, causing the inevitable controversy, because they could sell a few papers - they didn't need to do it, there was no public interest argument here - had Griffin just come on as an MEP and spoken his rubbish, without the weeks of news-stories beforehand, far fewer people would have been interested, AND without the massive coverage the audience probably would have been less concentrated on him

The BBC started this, but it was organisations like the Mail that did the real damage

24 October 2009

Finally found an argument to give 16yos the vote

Some prudish bastards MPs want to cover up so-called lad's mags because they might harm young children (because nudity, or rather non-nudity, is so harmful)

Now, I have no idea what the scientific reasoning for this is - maybe they cause schizophrenia in the under-12s or something, but let's face it, these things are aimed at teenagers - also known as 'children'

Why can the politicians get away with such an attack? The answer is simple - because the people it affects cannot vote - do you see them going near Knitting weekly? No, because as we all know, little old ladies are required for election purposes, but when it comes to teenagers they can do whatever they want to these poor scapegoats

So, while I couldn't find a real reason to give them a vote a few months ago, I have now found the issue - as they are being denied their right to access pictures of women in revealing attire and must no longer be denied political representation

Tarquin solves yet another of the day's throbbing political issues

23 October 2009

Who are the fascists here?

Intriguing scenes as several hundred protesters stormed the BBC in protest at Nick Griffin's appearance on Question Time - several got through the police cordon and inside the building

The Indie reports that

By the time filming began at around 7.30pm, six people had been arrested and three police officers had been injured. One was taken to hospital by ambulance where he was treated for a head injury.

Now normally I am as anti-authority as they come, when the police stifle protest and impede free speech at the request of our quite-often unelected leaders - but in this case it was, rather bizarrely the police who were defending free speech, and keeping protesters out, rather than in

It was groups, such as the UAF, who forced their way past police officers, injuring several as they attempted to prevent Nick Griffin from speaking

I'm all for legitimate, peaceful protest, if they wanted to protest the BNP then fine - but they weren't, they were trying to deny him a voice because essentially they disagreed with him

So, I ask: who are the real fascists here?

22 October 2009

Yawn, yawn, yawn

I am getting so fed up with those who speak out at the BBC's decision to invite on the BNP - particularly the BBC insiders, because let's face it, there are plenty of people who don't have a problem with this (unless Mark Thomson is completely alone in this), and they are keeping quiet for fear of being called a racist, while those who I can only regard as being anti-free speech are getting a free ride

Michael Rosen, former Children's laureate and Radio 4 presenter, has said it will erode trust in the BBC which

'is like a public place – we all own it and need to be a part of it. It has a responsibility to everyone. "They make this very clear when you work for them. If I were to say anything remotely similar to the things Nick Griffin has said and will say tonight, I would not be allowed on.'

"The BBC is obsessed with putting things 'through compliance', to ensure no one will find programmes politically, sexually or socially offensive. I have been stopped from reading a poem that contained one swear word before. Yet while they go into palpitations over things Jonathan Ross says, they are allowing Nick Griffin airtime to say things that will offend millions." 

Yes, you wouldn't be allowed on to your show about the English language with such views, Michael, but neither would a Tory espousing Thatcher or a Labourite praising Marx, you numptie - you are an employee, political guests are allowed political opinions - your point is only valid if Griffin was David Dimbleby - Harriet Harman always offends me when she's on - by his logic I can object to her being on - I seriously can't believe he actually said that

He reckons it will offend millions and erode trust in the BBC in viewers - well, here's something for you, Michael Rosen - were the BBC to deny a legal party, who have the same level of representation as the Greens and UKIP, space on this show simply because they were disagreeable, I would lose trust in the BBC

Steve Richards, meanwhile, gets himself in a muddle by admitting the BBC are right to give the BNP, supported by nigh on a million people at the last election, a platform but then tries to demolish it by saying that they were 'mistaken' as

Research carried out by YouGov found that roughly half of BNP's voters were truly racist, the other half were people who feel insecure and alienated from the main parties. In other words just one per cent of the electorate last summer were racist BNP voters.

Dear god, Steve - they still voted for them! Do you go around checking if every Lib Dem voter isn't actually a narked off Labour voter? Or that some of the Labour votes in '97 weren't actually from Tories...should you discount all the protest and swing votes from an election?

They got themselves a million votes - does it actually matter if 'only half were racist'? They have other issues that they talk about - they may well be lying, but what political party hasn't lied and reneged on a promise or pledge...or manifesto commitment

Nearly a million votes is nearly a million votes - you don't have the right to second guess what those voters want

Chris Huhne, who will be facing the boogeyman Griffin himself, explains why he will be debating with him in the Guardian

Now I appreciate that he is appealing to the Guardian's audience, and so has to say that 'I really don't want to, but I must', and he doesn't criticise the BBC - as I said, Guardian - the cynic in me sees right through it as a watered-down version of a free speech argument to appeal to the typical Gruniad reader who opposes the BNP's right to exist, I think he's just paying lip-service

But, what a true Liberal should say, Chris is this:


Why I will debate with Nick Griffin
The decision was not difficult in the least

Because I believe in democracy and free speech, and racism is a part of that free speech, even if I don't like it, because there are always people out there who disagree with us, and the only way to defeat an opinion is to debate it, not censor it

I do not, of course, tolerate racism-based violence, that is a crime - but to hold racist views is not, and even though most of us regard the BNP as merely a legitimate front for something far worse, they are nevertheless a legitimate party with elected representatives


Of course, these are my own views and while I disagree with others on this, I respect their right to think and say what they want, unlike them, who seem to miss the irony of their views

Discrimination is discrimination

David Cameron is ready to use that Labour favourite - the all-women shortlist, to get more ladies in Parliament

Allison Pearson, like most people from the middle through to the right, says she is totally against giving women a leg-up, it's patronising

Quite right, Allison, it is - so why do you support it?

She says it's because the Tories, despite having the second biggest party and nearly a third of the seats, have only 19 female MPs (and one is Ann Widdecombe...) - out of the total 125 females - only 15% of the entire female collective, and only 9% of their own seats

The Lib Dems are marginally better, with nine out of their 63, but it's barely any better - Labour of course, have 94 female MPs, so they win!

Clearly with this dire situation, something must be done, and for now all-women shortlists solve the problem, in Allison's view

In other words she's happy to go against her own judgement because the situation is so bad and we really need some women in there

So say we get 300+ women in there - great, women are represented!

Except, why should they have my respect? They would be there as a result of a 'leg-up' as she describes it, simply because some people feel that Parliament should be numerically representative of society, it's almost like 'picking' our MPs (which, I admit, is hardly worse than at present)

I could understand that logic if we were a draconian nation where our women were oppressed, but I'm fairly sure they're not anymore - they are in fact, given every advantage and are increasingly dominating the best jobs - even if they don't run the banks, Hattie

Where are the hordes of women demanding a fair go, saying that they get no representation? I've never actually met one, those most keen on it, ironically, seem to the ones who are already elected - but apparently the silent majority of women sit at home, just wishing there were more of them to speak up for them

Because, the truth is, women can get elected, in the same way that they can get onto boards and run businesses - only most don't - now there are two likely explanations for this - either society is inherently sexist and keeps women out, or less women are actually interested

Now considering that every single party has been mad keen on women MPs for over a decade it seems a rather strange piece of reasoning for it to be the former, maybe the party say one thing but then in private say 'look, I know we said we wanted you, but you really don't have the balls for this and we'll be putting forward my old Oxford chum, Percy, forward instead'

So either this is happening in the old boys' clubs, or just women are really turned off by politics - perhaps that is bad in itself, and should be addressed - but that, in my view, then assumes that women are somehow a homogenous, special-interest group that need their collective needs pushed - it basically says that somehow Harriet Harman, Jacqui Smith and Ann Widdecombe are representatives of all women (rather than their electorate) - yet, I don't think I've ever met a man who think David Cameron or Alan Johnson or Vince Cable, 'represents' them as a male, nor have I ever heard them talk about men's interests - they seem to like political debate, economics, the law, and so should all MPs even if they 'have boobs'

Do we assume that all women voters vote for women and are drowned out by the gerrymandered constituencies, of which they always represent half? It's not like there is an actual party out there that gets over six million votes and only a tenth of the seats or anything, women are far more disenfranchised

Why is it that women are a collective group, but men are individuals? The domination by middle aged white men does not mean that we men (or white men, or middle-aged men) are any better represented because we share a few physical traits, we are not Freemasons! Fact is, I have about as much chance of getting into these elite clubs as a goldfish does, despite being a white male - so why exactly does replacing a few male members with ones with ovaries balance anything? We are basically saying that 'this half of Parliament represents women', when no one would ever say the men in there represent males, I would find it quite offensive if it wasn't so ridiculous

And of course, the irony is that if indeed less women are interested in politics, then promoting them by positive discrimination is not only patronising and unfair, it is actually making Parliament less representative, as the bulk of the candidates (men) are being denied a voice

So if we wish to say that it is somehow right that 50% of the electorate are proportionally represented, then surely the fairest way to do this would be to make men and women vote in separate elections for their own genders - it seems to me the only way to fairly produce a parliament without second-class citizens, if we assume that it is a fair outcome in the first place

Or how about you stop voting for parties that are dominated by an elite that happens to be male, and support a party formed by real people?

(it'd probably still end up mostly male though)

20 October 2009

Are the wheels coming off Heroes already?

If Heroes has one recurrent theme it is that it sets the scene well, but then fails to deliver and great expectations soon peter out

This season was, for the third time in Heroes’ short history, supposed to be a clean break with a fresh new approach, no longer bogged down by confusing plotlines and too many characters – indeed, in the latest episode (Acceptance), we really only focus on four characters – Nathan, Hiro, Tracy and Bennett, with Peter, Angela and Claire in supporting roles

That’s actually quite a few characters for only 42 minutes of telly, but I felt it to be tedious television, with the storylines dragging and lacking in quality – Bennett’s soul-searching was decent, but Nathan’s tale, the main focus of the episode, was seriously lacking, while Tracy’s role seemed quite redundant except to look hot in a few little black numbers - it soon became obvious that what it was really lacking – Sylar, and perhaps some Samuel (the excellent Robert Knepper)

(*Spoilers ahead*) It really struck me how barren the show felt as it dragged on and I realised that we wouldn’t be focusing on the mischievous Sylar in Parkman’s mind at all, nor going to visit the mysterious fair that is the principle plot point that is driving this season – we did actually end up with both being included, but not until the final few minutes, there was nothing to intrigue the viewer, and nor was there any really decent acting until Samuel turned up for all of two minutes to set up the next episode, it was mostly characters that we’ve known since day one having a whinge about their life – perhaps it was supposed to be character development, well if it was, it sucked – because while ‘Nathan’ was investigating his dodgy past regarding someone we’ve never heard of before, I really couldn’t have cared less – and rightly so as he was ‘executed’ at the end, and guess what happened when he healed…that’s right, Sylar emerged! They really played that whole ‘Nathan’s really Sylar’ card really well…for all of three episodes

Of course, I don’t know if Nathan will return and the struggle will continue, but the final scene was highly predictable and failed to grab my attention, if Nathan is actually gone that’s a fairly awful piece of writing, if we’re in for a bit more of the struggle then it’s merely dull

Now I admit that I’m basing this mostly on one episode, and I enjoyed the previous one for the most part, I frequently found BSG episodes a chore and that was a good show on the whole, even the odd Lost episode has dragged, so it may just be a case of this being a filler episode to build us up to something – but I just felt that the set-up wasn’t just too slow or boring, as when you need to explain something to the viewer, it was just plain bad and felt quite pointless

I feel I am jumping to conclusions somewhat, but this is the fourth year, and I’m a seasoned pro at recognising when Heroes starts to go south, so I think I’m justified in not cutting them much slack – I said at the start of the season that they were on their last chance, and they’re only pulling in about 6 million viewers these days, as opposed to 14 million back when they started

Of course, I have yet to mention one of my favourite characters – Hiro, he was also in this episode, but I have to say I found his story rather trite, he is the comic relief in this show and they don’t seem to know what direction to take him, on the one hand it’s all a bit silly, trying to stop a guy photocopying his arse 47 times, and on the other hand he’s dying…warned his powers are killing him, and yet he manages to use it how many times? And why are we mixing terminal disease with arse photocopying? I have no doubt Hiro won’t die, but they do seem to be using it as a serious point, which really doesn’t mix well with Hiro’s general silliness – not to mention that the idea that Hiro’s power killing him is highly confusing already, as no-one else’s power has ever hurt them, there’s some serious plot holes in the powers and they really should sort them out because it undermines the show

I think, if anything, the introduction of Samuel and his fairground people is driving this season – it’s the only thing with any mystery in it, and it’s the only thing that is a clean break, the writers fell down by not including it enough - the only real reference to it was Bennett’s soul-searching, and we really didn’t need a whole episode for him to decide to investigate it, did we? We really didn’t need Tracy’s storyline, and even Hiro would’ve been better off out, while Nathan’s story was completely flat and just a cheap vehicle to get the irrepressible Sylar back in some form – this season should just be sticking to the fairground, keep Peter and Bennett involved, but get shot of the pointless Tracy, Nathan and Parkman and get some sense into Hiro’s story – if I had to pick only one thing to criticise it would be that they rely too much on older characters who aren’t going anywhere – perhaps because they fear the remaining fans will be upset to lose some actual popular characters (which seems to be the only reason Claire is still kicking around), or that they won’t be able to create anything decent, but they aren’t doing anything worthwhile, there’s no development going on with these old, stale characters and it just makes the show feel cluttered and pointless

19 October 2009

Sorry, but that was rubbish

Perusing the Mail, as you do, I couldn't help but notice Cheryl Cole's performance at the weekend, seeing as the Mail seem to have a constant headline about the ITV show (video embedded)

Now, I am no X factor fan, and that was probably the longest period I've watched it for (about 4 minutes) so I may not be a good judge of these things, but wasn't it really, really rubbish?

I could barely get the lyrics, there was nothing memorable about the song and the only remotely interesting part was when the beat picked up at the end, more notable for many gyrating hips than the actual music

Simon Cowell, of course, praised it as an incredible performance, and said that it'll be number one next week - can't say I'll bother checking, but really? Normally I at least find the latest number one a bit catchy, but that thing was tame and tepid - was he referring to the dance routine, or the stage performance in general? Because the song itself was pretty dire in my view

And she bloody mimed! I don't get how you can praise a woman for miming on a show that judges some incredible (I assume) live singing every week - 'oh, you nobodies have to sing properly, but the judge can go out there and lip-synch, because she's a bigger talent...'

Oh, and check out what she wears, a week after telling a girl off for being too revealing (or some such) - I would post the not-hugely-arousing pics myself, but I fear lawyers...

I guess the X factor and the Mail deserve each other based on that logic, but meh...what do I know about pop culture

This is getting silly

I thought silly season was over?

But apparently not, as Labour MPs seem convinced they are right to try and suppress the BNP, a legal and democratically-elected political party as Peter Hain has shown today by writing a letter threatening legal action against the BBC

Right...that's not remotely fascist at all

Hain's grounds for complaint are a tad thin - Griffin has admitted that their constitution may break 'race-relations legislation', as found by the Equalities and Human Rights commission and will have to reform it in the near future - however, this does not make them an illegal party, as the BBC responded:

"If there were to be an election tomorrow, the BNP would be able to stand"

Indeed they would, I seem to remember Labour broke certain equality legislation in 1996 by having all female shortlists - were they an illegal party then?

Hain's grounds are so feeble that they do nothing to hide his own bigotry, in his letter he says to the BBC

"in addition to the moral objections that I make. In my view, your approach is unreasonable, irrational and unlawful."

Moral objections? Moral? Why should I be giving a toss about your moral complaints any more than I should because Jonathon Ross swears? We start listening to morals then we're in big trouble, as for 'unreasonable and irrational' - who is the one providing fair coverage to a legal party based on their electoral successes, and who is the one trying to censor them because they dislike their politics?

Labour don't understand freedom - and unless the BNP are outlawed they have no case here, they don't like racism, and neither do I (and I really hate having to put in disclaimers every sodding time I mention the BNP) but it is not against the law to think racist thoughts or have racist beliefs and so you can't suppress them anymore than I can suppress a socialist because I really dislike their ideas - government cannot pick and choose who to censor, unless we wish to use the proper legal channels - in my view they could do exactly the same thing to Tories or Greens by this 'opinion' criteria, it's far more dangerous than anything a few bigots say on a soapbox

In other 'left-wingers are the most annoying hypocrites ever' news, the broadcasting trade union Bectu has warned that their members cannot be forced to work on the show - now I'm not an expert on current trade union law, maybe they are allowed time-off to protest anything (which is within the realms of probability I guess), but as far as I can see they refuse to work on the show because they dislike the BNP, and maybe want to protest outside

So does that mean that Bectu can do this to any party? What if they dislike Tories? Can members just refuse to work - it's exactly the same grounds, the BNP are a legal party, and if I didn't like the Tories view on, say...inheritance tax, could I refuse to work and get my union to threaten my bosses? If so, fair enough - otherwise it's pretty disgraceful that a union would throw their weight around

17 October 2009

Who wants to help expose a Labour councillor?

Please dear reader (if there are any) check out this report by Mark Easton

Then read comment 141 by Ultra_Fox and tell me if I'm wrong that this guy is being pretty offensive by calling the interviewees BNP voters - I'd be pretty pissed if that was my councillor, he claims to be a councillor so we have him identified down to one of three New Parks councillors (if he is one), please point out to me if I am mistaken, as I am fairly certain there is absolutely no mention of the BNP in the report

Here is a twitter account by the same name, perhaps a coincidence...

He may of course be lying about who he is, which is why I'm not naming anyone but I would like to expose this guy if it is a real councillor, if mine called me a BNP voter based on apathy (of the electorate: 7% voted BNP, about 12% voted Labour, and 70% didn't vote) I would be rather incensed and I think residents of New Parks should know - any advice from anyone out there on what to do?

and here is his comment in full, jut in case it disappears

"141. At 5:01pm on 16 Oct 2009, Ultra_Fox wrote:
As a Councillor in New Parks (check my details out on Twitter) I, along with others, co-operated extensively with Mark both before and during his visit.

To say that we are disappointed with the end products - both the news report and this article - is a massive understatement.

First of all, the sample of residents interviewed by Mark was hardly representative of the New Parks community. If they were, the BNP vote would number several thousands (instead of the actual figure of 788 in 2007), and I wouldn't hold the office that I do.

Secondly, Mark placed rather too much emphasis on the views of drinkers in a local pub - a venue which has been largely unchanged since it opened in the 1960s. And indeed, accents apart, the comments from the clientele would have done Alf Garnett proud. But many other residents treat the saloon-bar bigots with contempt they deserve, instead of venerating them like the distressingly-gullible scribe.

There were many other members of the New Parks community who made considerable efforts to speak to Mark, and indeed went to considerable lengths to accommodate him, yet were completely ignored. It appeared to them, and to me, that the gist of the report was largely preconceived.

Much was made about the extent of adult illiteracy in the area. However, it's a problem which Leicester City Council, partner bodies and many residents themselves are working hard to address - hence the investment in local schools and the construction of the new Library Centre due to open next March (which, strangely enough, Mark also chose to overlook).

In fact, Mark appeared determined to disregard the positive aspects of life in New Parks completely.

Mark concludes by saying he wishes to "foster a thoughtful and intelligent debate about one of the key issues affecting the United Kingdom."

So do I.

But I'm seeing precious little evidence of thoughtful and intelligent debate here."

Back from hiatus...and already exposing awful bias

The people over at Biased-BBC do such a good job pointing out our state broadcaster's left-wing agenda, George R carefully points out that:

Far-left BBC says that 'far-right' Geert Wilders has arrived in London.

"Far-right Dutch MP arrives in UK"


Far-left 'Guardian' chums of BBC also describe Geert Wilders as 'far right' -presumably, 'far right' now means someone who believes in free speech, and not the incitement of Islamic jihad violence.
Ah, exactly the same language as the leftie paper


Far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders faces Muslim protest after arriving in the UK

That'd be from the Mail, but those good old proper journalists at the Times left such an allegation out of their headline, they just snuck it into the first line

 A very easy target for me, I admit, and I don't want to become like OMTE, because that's his turf and he's very good at it but I really do get fed up with the idiocy and misinformation on B-BBC (it's in my blurb after all - I hate hypocrisy) - it's doing no-one any favours, boys (and occasional girls) - it's just a smear campaign dressed up as some sort of review site

06 October 2009

Light Blogging

Blogging is to be light over the next few weeks as I'm on hols - but I'll be back soon!

02 October 2009

More on Auntie

Johann Hari has once again got my attention by agreeing with my post about the BBC a few days ago (all things to all men)

I'm no Hari fan (although I'm seem to be agreeing with him too often lately) but he gave a good answer to some of my worries, but one main question remains in my head - I tried to ask this in the comments but the site was down, so I'll post it here, probably better here anyway:

What I would ask is what should we do about people who do not want to pay for it? They want to watch ITV, or Sky - but quite rightly feel aggrieved when their simple ownership of a tv forces them to fund something they don't want, and indeed the licence is regressive - a flat fee that obviously costs more to the poorer sections of society

My question is - it a fair system? Should we take the view that this is a part of taxation and the opponents should just accept the majority view and be funding something in the public interest, even if they don't use it

My main struggle is with the 'ownership of a tv' bit - it makes no sense, you want to watch another channel and you have to pay, you don't want to watch tv at all and you don't - seems outdated to me and doesn't fit into a public interest argument

Even though I may not always agree with Hari's politics I can least understand his reasoning, he has very different ideas about the world to me - I cannot say the same about the other top leftie commentator at the Indie, Steve Richards - who is an insufferable bore and is just a Labour cheerleader

01 October 2009

Get it right..or maybe left

I seem to remember that a while back the Mail was unhappy at councils abusing no-drinking rules to cover all areas, such as parks and suburbs, as an attack on people's liberty

Now however, they are all for it in Nottingham, because they dislike the 24-hour drinking rules

But wait a minute, binge drinking existed long before the licensing changes, and there's no evidence to suggest that the liberalisation increased it, nor did it reduce it, as was the intention - this was what the government admitted when it said it was 'not working' - hence why there are absolutely no facts in this article, because they would show that little has changed and barely any establishments use the new licensing laws (late-night clubs where all the trouble actually came from already existed...)

They are simply against a measure that didn't really do anything - good spot, guys, but hardly a triumph, seeing as you opposed it for encouraging more drinking, rather than it being a waste of time - I'm yet to see evidence that says supermarkets shouldn't sell booze at 4am...

But then, in a rare show of balance for the Mail, they provide criticism from the civil liberties brigade:

However, there are concerns that some councils may be too heavy-handed in the way they introduce new byelaws, possibly putting an end to picnics in the park.

Dylan Sharpe of Big Brother Watch said: 'This is yet another piece of legislation with the potential to create criminals out of law-abiding people.'

Don't know which way to turn, do they...