Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Odds and ends

‎"The White Witch? Who is she?
"Why, it is she that has got all Narnia under her thumb. It's she that makes
it always winter and never Christmas; think of that!"
"How awful!" said Lucy.
(CS Lewis, The Lion the witch and the Wardrobe)

The day after Christmas day and Boxing day is not a day for long well constructed pieces. Instead it is a case of nibbling on leftovers. Here are a few of mine.

Richard Dawkins

Catching up on Richard Dawkin's New Statesman issue. He does go over the top on the literary merits of the King James Bible. Some of the passages in letters of Paul are horrible translations, almost undecipherable as English. And it inconsistently translates "pneuma" according to its own whim - Coverdale was much better there.

How was it then reckoned? when he was in circumcision, or in uncircumcision? Not in circumcision, but in uncircumcision.
(Romans 4:10, KJV)

Yep, clear as mud.

In his New Statesman editorial, Dawkin's hates the term "Christian children" and says it is like saying "Post-Modernist children", which he says it would be absurd to say. But actually, I think "post-modernist children" would be a very good way of describing the belief systems of most children today. If he wonders why many of them are as skeptical of science as traditional religion, but go for New Age eclecticism, "post modernist children" would be a good short-hand way of describing the situation.


Finished Elizabeth Lemarchant's Alibi for A Corpse. Nice to have some gentle but good detective story to read over the Christmas break. Reading too much non-fiction of late, mainly because I can read 10 (or more) non-fiction books at once, but only one fiction book at a time. Now onto "Pictures in the Dark" by Gillian Cross.

Non-fiction includes "Druids: A very Short Introduction" (just finished), "Royalty" by Jeremely Paxman, "Ancient egypt: A Very Short Introduction", ""Cults of Unreason" by Christopher Evans, "Patrick Troughton", a biography by Michael Troughton, "Gypsies and Fairies: Evidence for a Theory" by Robert Dawson, "The Science and Humanism of Stepehn Jay Gould" by Richard York and Brett Clark, "J.B. Priestley" by Judith Cook.

TV Watched:

The Mentalist: A very downbeat Mentalist last week. There was a degree of ambiguity as to whether the San Joaquin killer really was who Patrick Jane thought he was, and he deliberately goaded the chap into deriding Red John on air - a recipe for suicide if ever there was one.

The Rev: An excellent story that just almost went off the rails, then came back with a gloriously warm finale.

Dr Who Christmas special. A splendid Christmas story, full of that special seasonal feel, snow, trees, very special aliens (I'm not going to give a spoiler),  and mothers everywhere will love it. Or their children certainly will. I did. It was wonderful. Warm, Christmassy, without being derivative, had a Narnia feel about the snow and trees, and a wonderful story. Sadness and comedy both there. Brilliant acting too by all concerned.

The Borrowers. It's always difficult when something is updated to the present day, but this version of the Borrowers worked wonderfully. Christopher Ecclestone, of course, made Pod so very real, and Aisling Loftus's Arriety was wonderful, with her emerging skills and intuition as a borrower beautifully done. Victoria Wood, of course, was excellent as the gran, and as the boy, Charles Hiscock was brilliant - gone are the days when child actors "acted" - here was a naturalism that was wonderful. The other characters were brilliant, and Stephen Fry was fortunately reined back more than in the Little Shop of Stuff, and someone had to be the villain you want to fail! Songs suitable to the mood also made this a very special treat for Christmas.

Poirot: The Clocks. An excellent production, with only slight changes made to the plot, which was nice to see, ITV's Marple has a terrible record of massive changes -here Poirot actually goes out and interviews the suspects, which was clearly needed dramatically. But good characters, Suchet's Poirot moving towards the right age for Curtain, Geoffrey Palmer pops up again in a smaller part (he seems to be everywhere this Christmas), and a narrative that flows nicely with suspense, twists, and some humour on the way - Poirot asking for "the cocktails" in what is clearly a very British pub! The convoluted nature of the plot was actually needed, a very clever touch!

A Few Short Snippets Read

An enterprising Australian has used nanotechnology to create the world's first fart-proof underpants. Gilbert Huynh claims his pants eliminate not only the smell of body gas, but the sound too. "I've suffered for years from the emissions of my family", he said, "and one cannot keep blaming these things on the dog".

An American man was arrested after calling the police to complain that his crack dealer had short-changed him. Dexter White dialled 911 to report that he'd paid for $60 worth of the drug but only received $20 worth. Police in South Carolina immediately despatched a patrol car to arrest him.

A Swedish man was arrested this year for trying to split the atom - in his kitchen! Amateur scientist Richard Handl, 31, acquired uranium, radium and americium and cooked them on his stove. He was hoping to create nuclear fission, but only managed a small explosion that messed up the hob!

A 15 year old ginger cat has become a local celebrity in Bridport, dorset, for taking regular rides on the town buses. He likes to sit on passengers laps or on the warmth of newly vacated seats. The drivers love him, welcome him on board, bring him treats, and make sure he always gets off at his stop!

Statistics of the year: Dog owners walk an average of 23,739 miles with their pet over its lifetime. The average Briton says sorry eight times a day. That's 204,536 times in three-score years and ten. One in ten British pets has its own Facebook page, Twitter profile, or YouTube channel!

Private Eye

From Private Eye (still on sale, it's brilliant - and it is still only £1.50) comes this Christmas advert (among many funny ones):

Auto-Tweet. The world's first fully automated random tweet generator take the toil out of tiresome twittering by tweeting for you twenty-four-seven!! Tweets include "I'm having a cup of tea" "Watching Downton Abbey now" "Going to the toilet" and many, many more. The amazing auto-tweet keeps the world posted whilst freeing up your valuable time so you can meet friends, talk to them, have a life, etc. Only £7,634 per annum.

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