As Ive no TV at home, Ive been catching up on my TV in Ireland. Saw a few interesting programs. I finally got to saw the end of the series Pillars of the Earth. While I wasnt too keen on the Scooby Doo style ending to the series (lets see who this Bishop Waleran really is. why its the old man from scene 34!) I did like how they portrayed the ad-hoc nature of how things were built in those days. The Engineers and builders of the era literally made up the design of structures as they went along. The roof starts to crack due to heavy loading? Used a ribbed vault, and/or pointed arches (all based on the mathematics invented by the Ancient Greeks). The wind load in a storm causes more cracks? Flying buttresses get installed. It does make you realise that when you look at a historic building how much effort, both intellectual, artistic and physical brute force, went into building these things.
Given that it could take generations of builders to finish a cathedral or castle it also shows you how forward thinking people were back then. In order to meet our future energy needs for example there are a whole host of things we should be building right now, arrays of wind/wave/solar energy systems, deep underground repositories for spent nuclear fuel, new mines to extract rare Earth metals (so we dont have to rely solely on China for them), new recycling facilities, large scale tree farming of hard wood trees (absorb more carbon dioxide & provides excellent building materials), building a HVDC network or a hydrogen distribution network, I could go on all day. But no, none of this is being built because if you try to get any of the above approved and you get questions about cost (and how costly will it be when the lights go out?), or it will spoil the view etc. you have to conclude that are not as forward thinking as people in the middle ages. I also liked all those olde English Trade names, Tom Builder was a builder, the Butcher was called Mr Butcher, Mr Potter made pots .I dont want to know what the Crappers, Nutters, Hoares or Cockers did!
Another interesting programme was strangely enough Upstairs/downstairs. Wha? Well I thought it was interesting in that they hinted at what I always assumed was a taboo subject in Britain the coup of 1936. I dont know if you, like me, have ever been entirely satisfied with the explanation for the resignation of King Edward VIII, i.e that the government blocked his marriage to an American Divorcee. While yes, Im sure images of some ghastly American on the throne in the future (King Homer Simpson? Queen Sarah Palin?) probably filled the establishment at the time with dread, I think this was pretty minor compared to the concerns of them about the new Kings (and his future wifes) overt closeness to certain goose stepping foreigners. In 1936 it was becoming clear (reoccupation of the Rhineland, invasion of Ethiopia, Spanish civil war) that the fascist regimes would probably have to be confronted in some way in the future, and it wouldnt do for the UK to have a King friendly with the Gerrys while theyre bombing the shite out of us (especially after the fiasco at the start of the 1st world war when the official name of the Royal family was still Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, they changed it to Windsor during the war .thought Mark Thomas wants it changed now to lower Slough).
While the excuse may well have been the wedding to a divorcee, I suspect that the real reason for the pressure on the King to resign was the concern about his politics. In essence it wasnt so much an abdication but more of a coup, but a very British coup (Youre Highness, you would mind doing us this small favour old chappy?…. Could you be so kind as to resign at once and fuck off to France, as we cant have a goose stepping b@$t@rd on the throne at the same time were fighting the chaps in Europe, now can we? .And while I hate to impose on you, old fellow, but if you arent a good sport on this Im afraid I shall have to ask some of my Eton chums from GCHQ to push down some stairs .so if youd be so kind, youre majesty, what! What!).
For comedy, I watched Fox news or Sky news. Well, its funny so long as you dont take anything they say seriously, i.e treat it like people did Pravda in its day (the soviet newspaper called truth even thought it was well known for being essential absent of any). My favourite quote? They talked at one point of bringing back fox hunting due to a spate of fox attacks on people in recent years . Wha?…..far as Im aware theres only been one confirmed case of a fox attack against a person in the last few decades, that being the juvenile fox that got into a kids bedroom last year (and its scratching the kid was likely accidental or an instinct of self defence). One attack hardly constitutes a spate of attacks.
There are plenty of reasons to hunt foxes, lets not start inventing them. And something tells me letting the horse & hounds loose in the middle of a city centre (to go after urban foxes) would be a tad impractical (the Neds will be inventing a new sport of toff hunting chasing after the toffs in theyre Honda Civics with their Pit Bull terriers in tow). Personally, my objection to fox hunting is on the basis of efficiency: why does it take 50 dogs and twenty people on horses to do a job, that can be done equally as well by 2 dogs and a guy with a gun and a flash light? There is a recession on you know! Furthermore, the only reason why foxes are a problem is because the natural predators of foxes (birds of prey, lynx) have been eliminated and there is a surplus of prey species for them to feed on (birds, rabbits, voles, rats, mice, etc.) largely because of our elimination of predators, land use choices and in cities plenty of food waste for them to scavenge. People screwing around with the environment inevitably creates problems go ask the Aussies or Kiwis. For example city centre litter means we now also have a problem in most cities with Seagulls…of course it used to be the same thing but with Starlings, city authorities launched a war on starlings and the pigeons took over . We got rid of the pigeons .and the seagulls took over! What next? We get rid of the Seagulls and have golden Eagles swooping down and lifting kids out of theyre prams? Get rid of the foxes and will we be overrun with rats? Better to deal with the source of the problem, i.e excessive litter and a lack of recycling of waste, then worry about the foxes.
Then there was 4 rooms, the Tarantino film that got all those bad reviews. Okay, it wasnt a great film, but it certainly wasnt a bad film. Dont believe what you hear in the reviews. For example the latest Tarantino/Rodriquez outing, Machete, got also pretty rotten reviews. I think what the critics didnt realise is its supposed to be a deliberate effort to imitate a bad 80s B movie. Its sort of a case of rather than a film being good despite being so cheesy, its good, because its so cheesy & full of plot holes.
There was a documentary on Bill Hicks, some excellent quotes from him:
He was heckled by this guy after a joke he made about Flag burning Guy said to me: My daddy died fightin the Chinese in Korea to protect that flag .I [Bill] goes, well thats funny, cos you turn my flag over here and its says: Made in China..
Or what is it with Christians and crucifix, if Jesus comes back you guys are all screwed, cos I reckon after what he went thro the last thing he wants to see is a load of damn crosses ..be sort of like going up to Jacqueline Onassis with a little symbol of a sniper rifle around youre neck
These guys came up to me after a show and said were Christians and we dont like what youve been sayin about Christ-ian-aty so I goes, well then forgive me!
Any of ye familiar with the Downfall internet Meme, here Hitler is informed he will have to fly Ryanair for his Christmas Skiing holiday
And heres the new Ryanair safety video