Keep Calm but Don’t Carry On

I’m fond of the old WWII slogan Keep Calm and Carry On. It’s not just that it captures something appealingly British (yes, there are still appealing aspects to the stereotypically British character), it’s that in most circumstances it’s such excellent advice.

Keep calm, but don't carry on

These are not most circumstances.

Continue reading

The fundamental problem of politics

The fundamental problem of politics is this:

The skills you need to get elected to government are completely different from the skills you need to govern effectively.

So we elect people who have one set of skills (perform well in front of a camera, exude easy charm, come up with attractive sound-bites); then when they form a government we find they lack the other set of skills (clear thought, compassion, respect for experts, assiduous attention to detail).

All our problems follow from this.

Fugitive of the Judoon: that’s how it’s done!

I’ve made the point several times in these reviews that it gives my no joy to be relentlessly negative about Doctor Who, a series that I have loved deeply. That I go into each episode with an open mind, hoping to enjoy it.

This time, I did. Amost without reservation.

Continue reading

What I’ve been reading lately, part 34

Brexit: What the Hell Happens Now?: 2018 edition — Ian Dunt

I’ve pretty much heard everything Ian Dunt has to say about Brexit from his numerous columns on politics.co.uk, but since his e-book was on special offer for a couple of pounds I thought it would be worth reading it all in one place, in a single narrative. It was. Lots of useful detail, proper respect for expertise, and a sober assessment of where we are and where we might be headed.

Recommended, especially now Brexit has actually happened. Continue reading

Mike quite enjoys Nikola Tesla’s Night of Terror

Like I said last time, I don’t go into these episodes wanting to hate them. I start each one with as open a mind as I can summon, hoping to enjoy them. And this time, I did.

I’m not saying it was a classic — it’s no The Empty Child or Human Nature or A Christmas Carol — but it’s a solid, decently constructed celebrity historical which, crucially, takes the time to breathe.

Continue reading

Mike catches up with Orphan 55, for some reason

I’d be hard-pressed to explain why I am, after all, watching series 12 of Doctor Who, but it appears that I am. Tonight, Orphan 55.

This is us, apparently, in a sufficiently near future that Russian road-signs still survive, but mutated by global warming into predators that breathe CO2 and excrete oxygen.

Look, I don’t go into these things wanting not to enjoy them. Every episode, I come in with a bright, optimistic outlook, ready and willing to relax into whatever the BBC have come up with for me. I have decades of accumulated investment in Doctor Who. Heck, I even wrote a book about it. It gives me no pleasure to find, half an hour in, that I am basically waiting for the episode to end.

Continue reading

Mike’s very slightly less belated thoughts on Spyfall, part 2

That was … both better and worse than I expected. On the positive side was the opening of Daniel Barton’s tech presentation:

“We gave you pieces of plastic and circuitry and games and you handed us, me, my company, total access to your lives, what you buy, where you go, who you text, what you text, every thought and photo and post, every credit-card number, every birthday, every memorable place and all your mothers’ maiden names. So thank you for carrying our cameras in your pockets and putting our microphones in your bedrooms, for signing up your kids, handing them our devices.”

On the negative side was … the rest of that speech (we’re going to use your DNA as a hard drive … seriously). Oh, and the rest of the episode.

Continue reading