De omnibus dubitandum
8 Aug 2011
So Top Gear (a humorous entertainment show that some hapless morons confuse for a serious car programme) did a segment on electric cars, and a lot of people are very upset about it. (Exhibit A, exhibit B)
“Big, mean Top Gear,” they say, “they always pick on electric cars! The segment wasn’t fair! It made electric cars look bad!”
No, you whiney little twats, Top Gear didn’t make electric cars look bad. Electric cars do a spectacular job at sucking all on their own, they don’t need Top Gear’s infantile humour to make them look bad.
Because, right now, in the UK, electric cars only make sense if you live in a big city and have shitloads of money. Let me explain:
All these factors combined means that rich inner city toffs are the only sensible demographic for electric cars. And guess who’s doing the complaining about Top Gear’s ‘misleading’ electric car segment? Exactly.
The simple fact is that currently, as things stand, electric cars are not a valid alternative for cars with internal combustion engines. Electric cars only work in a limited amount of transport scenarios, and in nearly all of those public transport is probably a better option anyway (if only marginally cheaper).
The ‘controversial’ Top Gear segment in question contains no lies and no falsehoods. A few self-righteous environmental campaigners have taken it upon themselves to create a huge fuss about the whole thing (makes you wonder exactly who has an agenda here, doesn’t it?), but the facts cannot be changed.
On top of that, has anyone ever wondered where all that electricity powering those electric cars actually comes from?
So – instead of trying to re-invent motoring, create a whole new transport infrastructure to facilitate those grossly inadequate electrical machines, and generally keep on ruining the environment whilst generating all this electricity – why don’t we just skip the electric car phase all together and instead focus our energy (pun intended) on the thing that will really take transport in to the next century, something that doesn’t require us to radically change the way we approach transport, something that will literally never run out and will power humankind for all eternity?
25 May 2011
I’d been reading several intriguing reviews of a new BBC documentary series: All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace. Variously called ‘cerebral’, ‘bewildering’, and ‘intellectually challenging’, it seemed a very promising piece of television, so I caught it on BBC iPlayer to see it for myself.
I was disappointed. Instead of an intellectually stimulating and thought-provoking documentary, the first episode of All Watched Over By Machines Of Loving Grace is a disjointed collection of vaguely related concepts and events, mixed up with cleverly edited visuals and sound effects in an attempt to paint a specific picture.
To be honest it looked like its creator, Adam Curtis, had a specific point to make, and instead of testing that point against reality he decided to cherry-pick from reality in order to make that point. It reeked a bit of a conspiracy theory, truth be told.
Having said that, I’m pretty comfortable with the economic aspects of the documentary, showing a small elite of financial power-brokers manipulating politics and the course of nations for their personal gain. That’s not a particularly new insight – anyone with common sense should know that.
But when he makes the leap to information technology, when he tries to lay the blame at the increased interconnectivity of the world via computers, that’s when his argumentation falls flat and the whole thing comes crumbling down like a house of cards. It’s almost as if he’s trying too hard to position computers as the culprit of all this evil – while in fact it’s just human greed.
The reviewers I mentioned earlier seemed to be overwhelmed by Curtis’s use of imagery and sound. But after you penetrate that façade, what remains is a fairly hollow intellectual argument. It has some merit, but it tries to make leaps and connections that are simply not there to make.
I suppose the attempt to include the certified nutcase Ayn Rand and her deranged philosophy in his argumentation doesn’t help his case. Nonetheless I’ll probably be watching the other episodes of this series, if only to see what other logic-defying leaps Curtis is willing to make.
15 Mar 2011
Last Sunday the last episode of season 1 of Outcasts was aired on BBC One.
Outcasts is a superb science fiction series about a group of human colonists that, having fled a dying Earth, are trying to build a new life on a distant planet called Carpathia.
The series features great storylines that explore many profound ideas: what it means to be human, the morality of science, abuse of religious power, and much more.
On top of that we have hidden enemies and hidden agendas, secrets within secrets, and a season finale ending with a powerful cliffhanger.
All this is rounded off with some absolutely fantastic performances from the cast, which includes Liam Cunningham, Daniel Mays, Amy Manson, and Eric Mabius.
In short, it’s an amazingly good sci-fi drama series that blows anything out of the water that’s currently on British TV. It’ll easily end up being the best TV series of 2011.
So of course it’s been axed.
Instead we’ll be entertained with another season of “So You Think You Can Dance”, more episodes of “Masterchef”, and roughly a thousand different shows about antiques in your attic.
Fuck you, BBC. Fuck you very much.
10 Aug 2010
You’d think that after 2009’s blockbuster no sane producer would dare tackle the Sherlock Holmes mythology for the foreseeable future. After all, any attempt at re-imagining Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous ‘consulting detective’ would inevitably be compared to Ritchie’s film, and the final result would have to be damn fine indeed if it was to survive that comparison favourably.
Yet the 3-part TV series recently aired on the BBC seems to have managed exactly that. Or, actually, it’s so bloody good and ingenious that no one even bothers to compare it to the Downey Jr film. The TV series, you see, is an entirely different animal.
The producers of the series have moved the setting to modern times, and have cleverly adapted the Holmes mythology to fit nearly flawlessly in this 21st century background.
They’ve also managed to cast spectacularly good actors in the roles of Holmes and Watson (and, as one producer remarked, have succeeded to cast an actor in the role of Holmes with a name even sillier than that of the detective himself).
What they haven’t managed is to conceal the fact that they’re the same people behind the current Dr Who. Some of that series’ flaws emerge in Sherlock as well, such as the amazing coincidences that move the plot along, and the protagonist’s apparent omniscience.
Also depending on your taste the character of Moriarty, when he finally makes his appearance, is either utterly brilliant or campishly disastrous. (I’m squarely in the former camp, by the way – I thought he was superb.)
I always thought Sherlock Holmes was a bit of a silly character. A Victorian age superhero of sorts, his observational deductionism as unlikely as Superman’s x-ray eyes.
But despite all this, I thoroughly enjoyed the re-imagined Sherlock series. With three 90-minute episodes ending on a cliffhanger, I sincerely hope there’s more to come.
If you live in the UK you can watch the series on BBC’s iPlayer. If you don’t, I’m sure your torrent/newsgroup site of choice will be of help.
29 Apr 2009
In case you hadn’t seen this yet, Mythbusters at its best:
3 May 2008
One of the best commercials ever made.
12 Jun 2007
There’s a lot of controversy about the last The Sopranos episode. I’ve been a huge fan of the series ever since I saw the very first episode. In later seasons my fanaticism has only gotten worse. I and many others craved a good ending, a sense of closure. That was not what we got.
But unlike many fans I’m happy with the ending we did get. With many movies and TV series the end is definitive, a closing statement. ‘This is where the tale ends,’ such endings tell us, ‘this is all.’ Not so with The Sopranos. It’s not an ending – life goes on for the family, the crew, their allies and enemies – it’s just that we don’t get to see it anymore.
In a way, to know that they live on in some imagined, fictional world, with all their flaws and values, their arguments and their triumphs… that’s a very comforting thought.
Then again, maybe Bobby Bacala was right. “When it happens, everything just goes black.”