28 September 2010

The Bond retrospective - Number 9

It's getting difficult! Time for our first Dalton I think

Did I mention realism?
9. The Living Daylights

Ah, ‘the one with the cello’ as it’s commonly known round my way, Dalton came in as the anti-Moore and took it to rather extreme lengths by being both monogamous and incredibly serious, as with Licence to Kill, it’s really up to the viewer how they like Tim’s Bond. For me, it’s a good, solid plot without the campness, and I like it - it’s a bit of gritty realism, while still an enjoyable romp. There are some slow points, and it’s probably the driest spy film since Dr No, which is why I generally prefer the more graphic Dalton film, and perhaps Bond needs a bit more humour, but next to the latter-Moore era it’s perfect in my view. There’s also the rather bizarre Afghanistan scenario in which we support the Taliban, which of course we did in the 80s, but watching it these days may throw up some issues for people.


Enough with the bloody cello!
A-ha? Really?

Also while we're on the topic, I found this quiz on Flixster - I naturally felt obliged, but I am not signing up to spam to argue, so read on for pedantry:

One of the most prominent villains in the James Bond saga is Jaws, played by Richard Kiel. He was introduced in Moonraker, but later made another appearance in another movie opposite James Bond. Which was it?
 The Spy who Loved me - which was the film before Moonraker, he went off with his girlfriend in Moonraker, remember?

Which James Bond film was the only James Bond film to not have it's name title in the beginning song? [Octopussy]

Considering there were questions about Daniel Craig...

This actor appeared in just one James Bond movie. That movie is widely considered to be the best non-Connery bond film. 

Opinionated much? I would naturally disagree, and a quick check of Wikipedia references (IGN, MSN etc) shows zero agreement with this fact - Goldeneye, The Spy Who and even Live and Let Die were all non-Connery films variously ranked above Lazenby, and on Rotten Tomatoes The Spy who is just above - do not put 'best' anywhere near that film in my presence! Particularly with 'widely considered', unless it's with 'by idiots'

Don't you just hate quizzes when you are right and the quiz is wrong?

27 September 2010

It's a race!

This is a very good poster against AV (or rather for FPTP), that Tom Harris posted:

It is rather excellent, highly emotive and plays on our sense of fairness - the idea of a race being won by the first across the line

Only...it's not true, it's a bloody brilliant campaign idea but it's not true, far from it

I've said before, I don't really like AV - but I cannot defend FPTP

I think it should be obvious why the concept is quite wrong but here's a summary

1. Unlike an actual race, the finish line is not fixed - in a race between two candidates, there is a fixed line of 50%, but once it becomes say, four, like in the poster, it becomes a lot lower

Let's say three candidates occupy the centre-right, one occupies the left - the right has a natural advantage in the population, say 65%, but in the election the right vote is split into 15%, 20% and 30% for our three losers - the leftie crosses the line first at 35%, despite being the minority viewpoint - the finish line has been moved, if we want to use images such as this maybe that should be made obvious when less than a third of MPs have a true majority (and a lot less than my made-up 35%, which is usually enough for a win)

2. The metaphor is simply misleading - yes they share a theme of crossing a line, but in an election the distance travelled by a loser is people's votes - win by .1 of a second, great, you're better than the other bloke, win by one vote, then nearly half (or worse, more than half), didn't actually want you and are denied representation - races are about winning, elections are not winner takes all

3. To tactically hold back an opponent is called 'cheating' in a race

and lastly, Tom even defends FPTP being used in the general election, when virtually all other elections, including his own party leadership, use AV or PR

Apparently 'AV is a good system for filling a single position. If Britain had an elected president, for example'

Last time I checked, we did vote for a single position - that of an MP to represent his/her constituency

But he quantifies this brand of logic by saying we elect a government, not individual MPs really

Right...despite that being the primary reason for using FPTP - governments are formed by the relatively tiny swing in seats that can be changed by this system, resulting in a situation where a party with less votes can in fact win, and indeed the reverse happened this year, where the Tories got the biggest majority since 1997 and yet couldn't get enough seats - if you deny the election of single MPs as relevant then you call into question the supposed election of governments on FPTP, Cameron was clearly over the line first...

In fact his argument is a fairly clear one for PR, he openly says

Whether we like it or not, the general public believe that the general election is there to elect a Prime Minister, not your own MP. That’s why we had the televised leaders’ debate (an innovation I opposed, incidentally) – because most people saw May 2010 as a contest among three men to become (or remain) Prime Minister.

So the individual MPs are pointless, and the FPTP system is therefore working against the election of governments - move away from local MP elections and you support PR, or a brazenly unfair national system

This is Labour logic at work, he just wants to keep his safe seat rotten borough, where he believes he is winning a race (forgot to point out the geographical boundaries that have no similarities to a true race) - in reality he's being given a 99m head-start

Unfortunately this will also become Tory logic soon enough

Although AV is pretty crap

*Highlighted by Dizzy

25 September 2010

Has 'Red Ed' Played the Clever Game?

If you hadn't heard, Ed Miliband has pipped his brother to the post by 50.65% to 49.35% of the rather abstract Labour vote

This is widely seen as a win for 'the left' - as David Miliband was the only notable Blairite, favoured in the polls of both Labour voters and the general public, the opposition parties will be gleeful at the prospect of Labour's so-called return to the left

Likewise the fact that this result was essentially created by the unions, mainly the ones led by Whelan and Simpson, whereas the more pragmatic Labour party members and MPs overwhelmingly backed his older brother, will reinforce the view that he is the unions' man, a vain, self-interested choice likely to lose the election four years away

But I'm left wondering, after hearing his rather blatant attempt to appeal to the right in tomorrow's Telegraph if he simply hasn't played this all rather well

Yes, the unions won it for him - but what loyalty does he now owe to them?

He espoused some more left wing policies than his brother, and the unions put their support on the one most likely to win who wasn't a Blairite, but he's now leader and he can get away with whatever he wants, if he wants to adopt the same line (which is pretty vague) as his big bro then essentially, he can - he's just played it incredibly well when David was the massive favourite throughout the race

He's now leader, the unions do not control the party, and nor are the unions the be-all and end-all of Labour thought - they like their symbolic victories like today, but the membership is mostly indifferent these days, and unless he's particularly weak, then there's little reason he'll be in the pocket of Whelan and co. It's a potential ploy worthy of Blair himself

That of course, doesn't mean he'll fare better than his brother, we'll never know - undoubtedly the press will make sure he is seen as a left-wing and union choice, but what this relative unknown says between now and an election may well be more important, it may be that his small stature and geeky voice cause him more harm than the tabloids could

So I'm not writing him off as the next Kinnock, just yet

(I don't think he'll win the election, I'm just going to be impressed if he has manipulated the system so well)

Taking 'fairness' to a new level

I found this rather bizarre entry in the BBC's Magazine (which let's face it, is usually bizarre)

Can men and women ever compete fairly in a sport like running?

Well, um no is the answer

In short, Lucy Proctor has used statistics to work out when men and women can, on average best performances, perform equally well - in a nutshell, men in their early fifties are equal to peak performance women. Now, while I am rather fond of daft academic studies that seek to work out these things for the hell of it (she is clearly not being serious or promoting a Harperson-esque agenda), the fact is 'fairness' means all things to all men

I don't actually consider it fair to test a much older male against a younger female just so that they are on a supposedly level-playing field, in the same way it's not fair to work out the best time a lardarse can do and weight a lithe runner against him, that's equalising, not fairness

It's just statistics - fairness is in the eye of the beholder - to me, that means shoving everyone onto a start line and saying 'go' - that's a fair fight between all

Yes you can adjust the results for age, a seventy year old is hardly likely to match Paula Radcliffe, and it's a different expectation of achievement, but they are never going to be fairly competing - for a start the statistics are far too malleable and only relate to the very best athletes, not your common runner who will have a host of other advantages or disadvantages besides sex

I would like to see a team sport equalised in such a way - how do you make women's football as fast and powerful?

Answer: you don't

23 September 2010

The Bond retrospective - The Top Ten Starts Here

 I have now worked out how many Bond films I consider to be good - ten (pre-Craig) as from here on in I start giving positive reviews, with criticisms, rather than critical reviews with a few decent bits

So anyway, coming in at number ten:

10. Live and Let Die

I don’t know why some people have an issue with the ‘Blaxploitation’ theme of this film, yes it’s slightly cringeworthy but it’s from 1973 and really is not that bad – it’s actually quite a good film. It’s fairly light-hearted, got a fair bit of action, a decent plot and it’s not overly cheesy, as well as having one of the best Bond girls in the form of Solitaire. While it’s certainly not brilliant, Dr Kananga and the voodoo-type Baron Samedi being arguably some of the poorest villains in the series, it is entertaining, which is why it’s a favourite with television networks. Sheriff J ‘Dubya’ Pepper’s first appearance is somewhat of a guilty pleasure (which is more than I can say about his second) and there are a few other memorable scenes that ensure that the first Moore film is at least well-known, even if it’s not all that, and for that it gets a spot firmly in the middle

Brilliant song by Paul McCartney and Wings…when covered by Guns and Roses

Baron Samedi…ooh I’m so scared of your weird cracking head

22 September 2010

Moyles needs to come back to Earth

Whilst it is regrettable that anyone isn't paid by their employer for two months, I would generally not recommend that media stars have a strop about it live on air

While Chris Moyles is right to feel aggrieved, does he really think whingeing to listeners that he's missed out on two months of his mega-fat paycheck is going to get him much sympathy?

I don't know how much he earns, Wikipedia claim it was 630k in 2007, he took a 20% paycut last year and just signed a new contract (a cock up on that being the reason his pay hasn't come out apparently) so who knows, but we can safely assume it is at least half a mill a year

Or at least 40k a month, roughly double the average annual salary in one month - complaining about missing a bit of this to workers sat in traffic or asleep in their cereal bowl before another full day of work is not going to win much sympathy for a man employed to talk for 3 and a half hours

Moyles responded: "What, because I get paid more than you, if I don't get paid for two months I should just go 'oh well, harrumph'?

Not at all, I do think he has every right to feel annoyed, scale doesn't matter and I'm not going to bash the level media stars earn either, the same way unpaid footballers have a right to their millions - but I question whether he should be airing this

Firstly, as we all know it's unwise for high earners to whinge to the common folk about money, many would consider it tactless and it's natural for people to lack sympathy for a person who earns their annual salary in two weeks - what was he expecting?

Secondly, it's completely unprofessional and an abuse of your position to use your own show to air your issues - most workers do not get this opportunity and generally would not announce a pay issue in the office, let alone the whole country - again, not a reason to show sympathy to someone, it smacks of being self-important

He's entitled to the money, he's entitled to be angry, he's even entitled to not show up for work, but using his show to air it in public? No, just deal with it like the rest of us have to

21 September 2010

The Bond retrospective - Number 11

It gets harder from here...

11. For Your Eyes Only

On first impressions, you would think a woman holding a crossbow whilst wearing bikini bottoms backwards would indicate a bad film, but the rather raunchy cover image gives a false impression about John Glen’s directorial debut. There is a crossbow, and swimwear…but it’s somehow better than that, For Your Eyes Only is in fact one of the better laid out Bond films, and one of Moore’s best performances. It’s a good old fashioned spy flick with few gadgets based on human greed, rather than elaborate world domination plans that involve lasers. Here, we watch Bond chase down a Greek smuggler attempting to sell secret technology to the soviets, and there’s even a bit of a personal edge thrown in through the Bond girl, Melina. The film is much faster-paced than it’s predecessors, crammed with car and ski chases, and yet it doesn’t feel rushed, nor does Moore suffer horribly from his age, which I feel is a deliberate lighting technique or something, the only time it’s noticeable is the cringe-worthy subplot featuring Lynn-Holly Johnson as the too-young skater, Bibi. Overall it’s a decent, relatively gritty film with a sizeable amount of action that’s easy on the camp, although the opening with Blofeld (who you can’t see for ‘legal reasons’) is one of the few openings that detracts from the main film. It all ends with a rather subdued, some might even say poignant, meeting with our old friend General Gogol, no need for massive explosions or over-the-top deaths here. Although you could point out that’s why nobody remembers who the actual bad guy is…or this film in general

Realistic, understated, yet action-packed
The Thatcher scene…

One of those last few ones you can never remember during pub quizzes
Blofeld…electric wheelchair…helicopter
The Thatcher scene

I doubt they are...

I do wonder if Tim Montgomerie and whoever runs the Mail's rather obvious 'Whingewatch' campaign against the BBC were watching Panorama: Public Sector Pay tonight

Vivian White took a fairly balanced approach, highlighting some excellent, deserving work in education and policing, with constant input from Francis Maude (Tory Cabinet Secretary) - the theme was very much 'why are public sector workers being paid more than the PM?'

In some cases you could see a return, in others, notably local government and certain Quangos, you couldn't really justify 'market rate' (which it's not really in many cases) - the NHS figures were eye-watering, even without GPs and consultants

I found it fairly balanced, there was certainly some defence of high salaries, and personally I don't object to the head of the army or civil service being paid more - these are far more experienced and knowledgeable public servants than David Cameron, or any PM, politicians don't really require, or necessitate higher salaries than they already have

But it was laced throughout with scepticism about paying four people at the waterways nearly a million quid and so forth, interesting to see if the Mail will take note, I see the usual crowd have decided to press on ahead with next week's show which involves the military, because the BBC hate them, and never produce a show critical of public sector pay...

17 September 2010


(no pun intended)

While the likes of Guido have, rather bizarrely (for him, I feel), been lambasting the press for being atheist bigots because they are supposedly intolerant of a religious leader, it is clear that the Pope is trampling all over our beliefs the same way the metropolitan press supposedly do to his

Making comments about 'aggressive secularism' and 'Nazi tyranny that wished to eradicate God from society' are just as big a slight on the non-believers than a person of faith

As always with these debates, secularists have to show respect towards religious types, but conversely, they are allowed to criticise anything non-religious - this is why I shall oppose the Pope

He comes here belittling our secular beliefs, as the religious always do because they seem to think they have a (God-given?) right to be able to preach and convert the non-believers, which is a practice that would be condemned if it was addressed to members of another religion - but if you're secular you are fair game

I disagree with Guido on this, who I think is clouded by his own faith, this is not simply 'antipathy' towards the Church, it is a response to someone saying we're wrong, do we not have a right to stand up when someone criticises our ways? Can you imagine if he went to Israel and started belittling Judaism?

Wherever I see this debate, where usually Christians get offended and advocate their beliefs above non-belief - they never appreciate that being of no belief should command the same respect they demand for their faith, or others, we may not be a single organisation with rules and books, but we do have our own rational, secular beliefs and we are going to get just as pissy as a Hindu, Muslim or Jew who is being called godless by the Pope

I've said it before, even though I have my own history with the Catholic church and I know I'm completely biased against them and I'm also very sensitive to Catholic preaching, but the Pope is welcome to talk to his flock here - I have no interest in protesting him as an individual any more than I do Mugabe. However, he doesn't get to trample all over our secular values simply because he does not respect the idea of no faith, this is the ultimate irony of all the Christians who claim offence but never appreciate that they do the exact same thing

He keeps making comments like these then we are completely justified in protesting him

16 September 2010

Questionable Time

I'm a bit perplexed by Question Time's Labour special

Now at first I found it rather amusing, watching them all scramble over each other over 'left-wing', 'new labour' and unions

However, once they started talking about Tory cuts it became very apparent this was a mistake - as much as Dimbleby tries to play devil's advocate you have five people who are, as D. Mili says, 'all united on this' - that they are all anti-Tory

Allowing them to set up a narrative against 'cuts' and the government was questionable in my view

I think Dimbleby has done reasonably well steering them away from unopposed Tory bashing, and it was inevitable they would bash their main opposition, but it makes me uneasy letting them say 'jobs are going', 'harsh cuts' etc without response

We knew it wasn't going to be balanced, so fair play, but this feels very strange on QT

By the by, Andy Burnham is by far the most appealing to me - not politically, of course, but he's honest, he admits mistakes of the past and he's got a more rational stance - he could've done a lot more before, while in government, but compared to the other three men he's a bloody saint

I like Abbott's sincerity, but she's just too far gone for me

15 September 2010

Stoke the flames!

Nothing like being aggressive and derisory to a country already having several issues with your visit to really stir things up, eh?

These comments weren't made by his Popiness himself, but a senior 'diplomatic' cardinal - and they will now frame the visit even if it wasn't Benedict

The Heathrow comment is slightly inflammatory, but let's be honest - it's true, Heathrow is a bloody hole

The comment that's really going to piss off the already vocal opposition is the aggressive tones about neo-atheism and general condescending attitude to the way we run our country, especially considering they lost this particular flock 400 years ago you'd think they'd have got the message by now

If the church, even if it is an individual's opinion, is going to attack us, then they will get a defence coming squarely back at them

Until now the opposition had general claims of child abuse, homophobia, sexism, promoting AIDS etc, but a largely diplomatic figure who would be hard to land a hit on, now they have a nice little nugget of aggressive Catholicism to rally them and the mostly indifferent population

Just when I thought this visit was going to be rather dull, nice work, Cardinal Kasper!

13 September 2010

The Bond retrospective - Number 12

I've been giving this next entry some thought, it's getting rather tight now - this could be controversial

12. Thunderball
Jetpack - Blue Peter  

Ah, the one that’s main claim to fame is that it has its own lottery game. Thunderball is notable for one) having a huge amount of underwater scenes, two) the iconic scene around the SPECTRE table, and three) the archetypal plot of stealing nukes and holding the world to ransom. Thunderball is in fact one of the most straightforward plots to follow, nuclear loaded plane gets hijacked and hidden in sea, Connery swims around for two hours, finding the nukes in the end. To be honest there are no real moments of brilliance, Connery is better in his past performances and the next one in my opinion, and there are no stand out scenes, it’s just a lot of water, and the finale is similar in tone to that of Moonraker, with an immeasurably large harpoon battle that fails to capture the imagination. That said, all in all it’s a good solid romp with a climactic action scene, however it suffers from lengthy and slow underwater scenes and what with this being one of the longest Bond films it really doesn’t help the situation, definitely a middling film.

Shark pools

Way too much trudging around the seabed

11 September 2010

Lengthy division

Were you aware that kids stopped learning long division and multiplication a decade ago?

Those lucky bastards, missing possibly the most pointless piece of 'traditional' education this side of French (see earlier post)

Now, at first glance, I was naturally sceptical, being good at maths and wary of terms like 'chunking' made me instantly think 'dumbing down'

Personally I don't think there's a substitute for times tables, and understanding the basics of number systems is key

But long division was always something that eluded me - and my disinterest in it always angered my teachers as I would inevitably get the answer by doing all sorts of unusual things in my head, turns out I was doing these new methods like 'gridding' all along, this is the way the brain breaks it down for you into chunks of manageable equations, far easier in your head than writing down columns with remainders (I always thought that was the single stupidest thing teachers made us do - carry the one? Why?? I can see where it bloody goes, I don't need to write it on the side and add it in later), and probably quicker

I never bothered with long division, once out of primary it was assumed you knew how to do it and I was allowed to do whatever I wanted, and use a 'real' pen!

I digress, some will no doubt mutter that education is falling apart, but I believe long division is outdated bilge anyway - let's face it, do you actually learn 'mathematics' through the use of systematic columns? Nope, you learn a system, you learn how to divide up longer numbers into smaller, manageable sums that you learn through times tables - basically you've only learnt up to 10x10 and then you start breaking down numbers into that - that's not learning, that's a rote system, which I remember thinking back then was a ridiculous way for adults to do numbers

I put this to the test, never bothering with it myself, I went to my parents, one of whom works with numbers, one of whom is rather worse, and asked them 372x612

The result: one took far too long after years of using Excel spreadsheets and calculators, the other just looked rather blankly at me and guessed - in essence the system was forgotten, because once you're out of school, if you aren't using the written column system regularly then you will forget it, therefore it's pointless to learn it

In short, once we got calculators, the Victorian system needed to go - so yay for modernism

09 September 2010


Watching Gareth Malone's Extraordinary School for Boys on BBC2 tonight, I am reminded of the disgrace that has seen British Bulldog banned by an increasing number of schools (or 'female head teachers') in recent years

For those who don't know, Bulldog is a game where you have to run from one side of the playground to the other without being tagged by the 'bulldogs' who roam the middle, played in primary schools it's pretty harmless, played by adults it's bloody deadly

Fear of injuries (or lawsuits) abound, and in recent years it has been banned by a lot of schools, primary school was less than twenty years ago for me - it was our favourite past-time back then and now it seems to be behind a locked door marked 'dangerous'

Yet, there is scant evidence of costly legal action by opportunist parents and injuries are probably no rarer than in rugby or football - playing on asphalt or concrete, as you do, is where most of the issues arise, if it was played with a bit of supervision on grass it would be as safe as houses

And yet, primary schools, now mostly run by women, elect to outright ban the game I and my fellow boys have played for decades in modern schools rather than introduce a few basic rules

They are denying these boys a rite of passage, and no doubt it's worsening their physical state by banning effectively the only team game they've got without a ball

08 September 2010

Mr Jones, Mr Jones

I seriously can't believe we're having this debate

I just watched on Newsnight as two people (Peter Tatchell and some Catholic woman) actually toyed with the idea of limiting free speech for fear of violence

Tatchell was the more freedom loving, the Catholic couldn't see past respecting faith, as you would expect, but he still felt it was best to try and stop this bloke

For all those who claim lefty BBC bias, it was the open-mouthed Paxman leading the free speech brigade, pointing out that we're essentially bowing to threats here and if it's the Koran today, what's to stop anything else tomorrow (my words)

As far as I can see there's not even an argument here - you can burn a book if you wish, obviously it's not ok if it's Nazi Germany doing it, but in a free society I can burn whatever I want (except the Queen's image...)

This happened when Harry Potter came out in the US and far more copies were burned than what this small church in Florida is about to, no violence from wizards, and no claims to ban the activity

Yet, 'oo it's a special book' combined with 'they'll kill people' provokes a different response, a coward's one

People may die, it may even be soldiers in the Middle East, which is a little unfair on them I'll grant you - but is that Jones' fault that this is a people that choose to kill in response to the burning of what is essentially, a flammable material? This is not a lawful, respectful response - while it is far more provocative than the satirical cartoons, which could be seen as a more appropriate expression, it is essentially no different

How provocative is it to kill British soldiers, or carry placards through London? We don't go out and riot, nobody dies, nobody is threatened (well, much)

I believe in freedom, end of - and Terry Jones has a right to do whatever nutty thing he wants, we are free and tolerant, they are intolerant and we need to start recognising that we cannot be afraid of threats

Live free, or die

*Pointing out there's absolutely nothing wrong with peaceful protests over a blasphemous act, and I'm not insinuating every Muslim, or Muslim country will have a violent reaction

07 September 2010

The Bond retrospective - Number 13

This one is a favourite of a friend of mine...I'm in for an argument

13. The World is not Enough

Brosnan’s third film neatly fits in as his third best, some fast-paced action scenes and a bigger role for Judi Dench help to make it enjoyable, but the weak plot surrounding an oil pipeline, a rather strange female villain and only a brief use of the talent of Robert Carlyle makes for a fairly average Bond film, and that’s before I even mention Denise bloody Richards.

Well, that was a short review - have I missed anything...

A bigger part for Dench

Did I mention Denise Richards?

06 September 2010

Would I vote for, or against

MPs are currently voting (actually, it just passed) on the electoral reform bill that will put forward a referendum on the AV system

I have a dilemma

Naturally I want to back reform, I want to rid us of the rotten boroughs and minority victories (2/3s of MPs do not have a majority)

I admit AV is a step in the right direction, majority verdicts are preferable in my view - and breaking down Labour's gerrymandered seats is a good thing

However, I have seen AV in action, in Australia - and I have two main worries

Firstly, if we adopt a modern, relatively 'fair' system, where it is harder to show blatant problems and inherent unfairness, as we can now, will we simply accept it? Reformers, for the most part, do not want this system, nor do the traditionalists - but if we pass this, I fear we may be stuck with it, as they are in Australia, where this relatively modern electoral system has little opposition and yet produces confusing results - it may well be that we are better off arguing with something far worse and waiting for something much better than taking what is effectively, a sticking plaster, right now

Secondly, as I mentioned - AV produces confusing results, while they may be more legitimate in theory, the weighting element adds a confusing layer of jargon to the electorate and encourages even more tactical voting, in Australia, parties can hand over preferences that aren't allocated, for example

As you can see with the argument over legitimacy between Abbott and Gillard down under, it's hard to see who has more votes, or is more preferred - and their two-party system is even more ingrained than ours, so AV doesn't seem to help dissenting voices, or provide better politicians

I don't want AV, and personally I think if were we to accept it it would badly damage the cause for reform

But then, if it's defeated....there's no public attitude for reform, is there?

The Tories have got this one wrapped up, I think - and I don't think they even know it, because a victory would both put the constituencies back in their favour, and set back proportional systems

methinks the wily Cameron may know that, even if the backbenchers don't

05 September 2010

Newsflash: The Pope really does excrete in the woods

Surprisingly, the head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales has said the taxpayers should pay for the Pope's visit

I'm shocked, truly...does he also believe Jesus was in fact the son of God?

What's even the point in asking his opinion...of course he bloody thinks the Pope should come here, he probably also thinks we should all join his church

While I agree on the point about state visits - this is not really a 'state' visit, he's the leader of a religion, he does not come representing the national interests of the Vatican as a country, but his own religious views

And while he may represent 1 in 5 people on the planet (a statistic Catholics love), it's more like 1 in 12 in the UK (or 8%), and probably far less in actuality, polls show a minority welcome the visit, most not caring about it but also not wanting to waste money on a visitor who can easily self-fund and provides no tangible benefit in coming

We cut national services and yet spend on this abuse-riddled organisation to self-promote?

The argument follows that he was invited - true, but following up on that whole democracy thing, where most of us don't want to pay, which democratically elected leader invited him?

That's right, Gordon Brown, in February last year - the same government who created a load of expensive new commitments just for electoral purposes forced their successors' hand once again, knowing full well they would not be the ones to welcome the old git

Would Blair, the elected leader, the man who avoided any ties to Catholicism til he left office, have invited the Pope to these shores for the first time in history? Unlikely

If Brown wants to meet the Pope maybe he, or the Labour party should fund the visit

02 September 2010

The Bond retrospective - Number 14

With apologies to Frisky - I am sorry I haven't put the infamous one in yet - 6th from bottom is quite high for this next entry to a lot of people

But I have been making the decision while viewing all of the films, and while this one has detractors (and I'm putting it bottom 6) I simply felt a few less memorable films were less fun to watch

But finally, here it is

14. Moonraker

Drink numbs the pain
Roger Moore’s fourth outing is notoriously bad and it does virtually write its own Austin Powers movie, not only does it actually send Bond into space, but it has a full-on laser battle, and that’s before we even get onto the non-existent plot as we jump, seemingly randomly, from the US, to Venice, to Rio and the Amazon before we even get to outer space…it’s just a series of exotic locations with some rather dodgy action sequences. But that said, it is at least watchable – hell, if it wasn’t for the whole space segment it would be a reasonable outing, its problem is that it piles on the comedy and general Moore-style cheesiness far too thick and lacks any real coherence, but it’s not complete dross, and won’t turn you off completely, until the very end, and for that reason it’s not bottom, where some people would put it.

Some nice one-liners (‘you missed…’)
Michael Lonsdale as the understated Drax
Miss Goodhead was one of the better innuendos

Overly ridiculous – that bloody gondola in particular
Little to no plot
Bond doesn’t even fire his gun

01 September 2010

1 vote for Guido

While I admit Guido's campaign against Hague's SpAd Christopher Myers, complete with a lot of speculation about sexuality, may not be the most important political issue of the day and he should be relaxing on holiday, he is ultimately, right

Now the boy has quit, Hague's crying about miscarriages and Iain Dale is a very angry homosexual

Firstly, I think Guido is bang on for questioning why an inexperienced personal friend was parachuted into a plum SpAd role over other, more qualified candidates, and the fact that they shared a room only serves to lend weight to the theory that his appointment is personal, not professional, regardless of whether there was anything going on or not

Secondly - if this was a 25 year old woman, would it be, as Guido says, heterophobic? It's perfectly legitimate to question the scenario, and in fact surely this is the way forward for homosexuality - to be seen as usual, if we expect a politician to be bonking his male assistant as much as his female one surely that's a good day for equality?

The Bond retrospective - Number 15

Time for Sean Connery to make an appearance
15. Diamonds are Forever

Women's ultimate weakness...water?
While some feel Bond neatly entered his camp period with the advent of Moore it was in fact Connery’s 1971 return that saw the series sink to silly in-jokes and self parody, many Connery fans seem to conveniently forget that the ageing Scotsman seemingly played this solely for the cash and put in a swaggering, lazy performance. Bond’s animosity with Blofeld, the man who killed his wife two years previously, is completely non-existent, and yet is actually referenced in the lacklustre opening. After that we crawl through a dull plot about diamond smuggling featuring one of the weakest Bond girls in Jill St John, and don’t even see Blofeld, whose ‘shocking’ appearance is about as shocking as French toast, until the very end, by which time you’re asleep. Along the way you have to endure the bizarre homosexual assassins known as Winn and Kidd, a camp moon-buggy chase (that’s the low point) and two female bodyguards who as Felix might say ‘kick ass’… but can’t swim. Overall there’s very little to entertain, the action is poor and unrealistic, the characters are unappealing and there’s next to no plot, the only memorable scene comes with the Mustang chase. It’s another of those ‘forgettable’ Bonds

Shirley Bassey

One of the least interesting Bond girls…and she got a lot of screen time
Moon buggy with flailing arms