Vir Cantium

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Category Archives: Entertainment

Quote Of The Week

LBC News 1152

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“Can’t wait to hear the speeches. Don’t suppose you’ll be able to get a word in edgeways”.

The inimitable Nick Ferrari on LBC radio this morning, after Millie Tant (for that should have been her name) rings in for a rant, and then takes her opportunity to plug a feminist march happening on Saturday week.


Believe It Or Not – It’s In The Genres

This is not a post about politics, though it does refer to terms such as “fantasy” and “fiction”, so some may wish to debate that point.

Browsing the shelves of any book retailer one will usually see the “Science Fiction” (SF) section alongside the “Fantasy” shelves. Quite often, they even lump the whole lot into a “Science Fiction/Fantasy” corner. As I regard myself as being in the SF camp, this used to annoy me mildly as they are two distinct genres, though there are more successful examples of crossovers between SF and Fantasy than in, say, SF and Horror (with a few notable example, such as Alien).

The BBC Blakes' 7 Liberator: British made craft from the late Seventies of which you don't see much these days ... like Austin Allegros.

Now I’ve nothing against Fantasy, but it seems that these days the Fantasy books are overwhelming the “true” Science Fiction tomes, by which I mean the stories that take the current stage of scientific development and extrapolate that along a direction of progress to produce environments that are still believable if not currently possible. It is no coincidence that one of the most successful and noted of science fiction writers was himself a scientist – Isaac Asimov – who also wrote many factual science textbooks. His contemporary Arthur C Clarke also came from a scientific and engineering background.

By contrast Fantasy is rooted in supernatural and religious philosophies and pure magic. Of course, there have been some very successful mixing of the two: many regard the Star Wars movies as being the best SF films ever made – yet they are actually SF/fantasy crossovers. In fact, as any schoolboy knows, Blade Runner was the best SF film ever made. Unless you think it was 2001, or The Matrix….

I think one could come up with a number of theories for the apparent edging out of “true” SF. I suspect it’s a lot to do with the success of both The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter, particularly following their transfer to the big screen.

Yet something also nags me that it may also have something to do with a perceived dumbing down, or even plain ignorance of science among so many people these days. I could rant on about boosting science in schools and usurping the likes of media studies, but I did say this wouldn’t be about politics didn’t I?


The Licence Fee Is Such Good Value

Guido tells us that the BBC are sending sixty staff to cover the first leaders’ debate on ITV tonight.

As Clarkson would put it: “No, really.”

I wonder if the BBC could ever envisage sending less than a dozen staff to cover, say, the opening of an envelope?

Quite a Week

Typical. A string of big news stories break this week and I’m snowed under with work and unable to blog. Never mind, I’m here now to comment on the major moves made this week: moves the scale of which haven’t been seen for many years, and which have followed growing international concern about how a system that many of us had taken for granted had broken down.

Yes, Terry Wogan is leaving Eurovision.

In other news ….

The “Why Bother?” Comment: Another bail-out at the expense of those of us who have taken the trouble to be careful with our finances is on the cards. Brown has promised a two year mortgage payment holiday for those who have seen a big drop in income or have lost their jobs. Well, fair enough if you have taken every precaution against such misfortune, but does this mean that those who took out a 100% mortgage without protection will get bailed out with my money? Heck,  Mrs R and I could have gone for a bigger mortgage and got somewhere larger where I didn’t bang my head on the under-stairs cupboard, but we naively cling on to the quaint notion of not over-stretching yourselves in case things go pear-shaped.

“At least”, say the (current) Government, “we are trying to do something, unlike the evil Tories who were a ‘do-nothing’ government”. If only we Conservatives had been a do-nothing government then perhaps we wouldn’t have exacerbated the last recession by being in the European Exchange Rate Mechanism. To be frank, though, I’d rather have a do-nothing government than one that puts the country up to its ears in debt to achieve very little.

Reagan had it in one with his advice to politicians: “Don’t just do something – stand there.”

The “Looking a Gift Horse in the Mouth” Comment: I’m not going to turn down another mortgage rate cut from my lender, feeling smug as I do that I let my fixed rate end in mid October the day before the 1.5% base rate drop.

Even so, am I the only one that thinks 1.5% was too much, and another 1% is just plain silly? Aren’t we overreacting and failing to see that by now, it’s not the lack or cost of credit that is stopping people spending – it’s the thought that they might not have a job in six months. I’m not convinced that pushing the pound down, and the price of imports up is going to help inflation, especially when added to the rise in fuel costs announced by the Chancellor in the pre-budget report last week. Once the deep discounting of the Christmas and New Year sales is over, what is inflation, and the low base rate, going to look like?

The Teaser: I’m not ignoring the whole Damien Green thing, which in time honoured tradition has been brushed under the carpet for a few news cycles while the inevitable inquiries take place. I will blog about it shortly.

And finally this week, the Queen went to Parliament and gave a speech. Nothing to get excited about.

Ha Blooming Ha

I saw a great comedy show this morning. It was a one-man stand-up routine, and the deadpan delivery would put Jack Dee to shame.

Here are a couple of the one-liners, delivered with a totally straight face but which had me in stitches:

  • People have an extra £120 this year as a result of a tax cut (the clever bit here is that the audience knows it was just mitigating a tax rise – clever, eh?)
  • The UK has less public debt than its G7 neighbours (of course, the joke is that it’s only because the government has swept so much debt off the balance sheet)
  • The banks should be more responsible, and not indulge in so much off balance sheet financing (hypocrisy can be funny, see?)

OK, so I guess you had to be there, and it’s never as funny when you explain the joke is it?

The name of the show was something like “Prime Ministers Monthly Press Conference” or something.

A Fool and Her Money…

JK Rowling has wasted donated £1m to the Labour Party.

I often wonder whether celebrity endorsement in politics is more dangerous for the party/candidate being endorsed or the celeb doing the endorsing.

There is the obvious danger for the endorsee that the celebrity will fall from grace, often at the hands of the tabloids, or will turn out as fickle as many voters and switch sides later on.

On the other hand, celebrities need to think of their own followers and fan base. How many times has an admirer of a particular actor or musician felt alienated when their idol comes out in favour of Labour, Conservatives, Obama or McCain?

Of course, it may be that these days, celebs enjoy more loyalty than politicians (perish the thought!) but just as the tide of celebrity can turn in a moment, so all those “slebs” who were happy to be seen at Number 10 in 1997 might just be wondering how much good it did to their long term careers?

Rough Men Stand Ready to Do Violence …

… so that people like actor Rupert Everett can denigrate them using the luxury of the freedom that they and their predecessors have given us.

I somehow missed the original piece in the Sunday Telegraph, and it’s only Everett’s weasily “apology” that drew my attention to the ridiculous remarks.

According to Everett soldiers are

“… always whining about the dangers of being killed. Oh my God, they are such wimps now!

“… The whole point of being in the Army is going to war and getting yourself blown up. That and p—ing on prisoners.”

On the suggestion that soldiers are motivated by a sense of duty:

“No, you do it because you are a nasty, jammy —t and you want to p— on everyone. That’s what drew you to the Army and that’s what they pay you for. They pay you to tie up prisoners and attach electrodes to their nipples and testicles and p— on them.”

Whatever the “apology”, he has clearly revealed that he is of the sort of base opinion that comes from too long spent inside the liberal left bubble, where the contempt for those who give the orders is extended to those who carry them out. Of course, some will compare that to the “Nuremburg defence” – which would be about right, if you are the sort who compares Blair and Bush (neither of whom, I would admit, are without sin) to Hitler and genuinely believes it.

Next thing you know, he’ll be coming out with some uber-luvvie claptrap about how tough is the life of a thespian.

Oh, here it is …

So he was never curious about testing his courage on the battlefield? “You can do that on stage.” Without bullets? “Oh, but there are! Critics can kill.” Hardly the same. “It is the same! Exactly the same!”

The greatest irony, though, was in one sentence earlier in the interview, when Everett says:

“Now what do you get in the Army? Bad helmets and Basra. Your guns don’t work and everyone hates you when you come back.”

And where do you think that contempt for the armed forces comes from? Could it be the sort of idiots who think it’s fair game to attack the rough men under whose protection we sleep peaceably in our beds?


We must be getting into Summer: BBC’s Springwatch and C4’s Big Brother are now in full swing.

So, you can watch a collection of various oddities of nature using a combination of hidden cameras and expert analysis all for your entertainment.

Or you can switch over to the BBC and see SpringWatch.

I'm Sorry We Haven't a Humph

So, as the traffic warden of time slaps a ticket on the four-wheel-drive of fate, deaf to the protests of the stroppy motorist of history … we say farewell to Humphrey Lyttleton.

I’m not a big jazz follower, but have long enjoyed Humph’s work on I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue. Indeed, only on Monday Jon Naismith, the producer of ISIHAC, emailed the mailing list with the news both of the postponement of the next series following Humph’s admission into hospital, but also with the optimistic news that “Humph is otherwise fine and in very good spirits.” Sadly it was not to be.

RIP Humph.

And you thought Eurovision was only an annual event

Croydonian has picked up on an instance of a bunch of Balkan states voting one of their number onto the Security Council of the UN.

So here’s an interesting comparison: voting in Eurovision and at the UN. One involves an unashamed display of national herd behaviour and back-scratching in a vote on something of falsely inflated importance (though which we still have to pay for regardless) but which has virtually no weight or significance in the outside world.

The other is an international song contest.

(Boom boom.)