Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Television

Tuesday April 24 2018

I’d never heard of it, until, yesterday, at a bus stop near near Finsbury Park tube station, I observed, and photoed, this:

image

This advert didn’t impress me.  I actually laughed.  The Pauline Quirke Academy.  Give over.  You’re ‘avin’ a laugh.  I did anyway.

Later, I saw the same advert in the tube:

image

This did impress me.

I think it was that the back of a bus is a tacky advertising spot, used by tacky enterprises that you have never heard of and will never hear of again.  Ergo, the PQA must be tacky and will soon disappear.  The tube is not such a tacky spot to advertise.  Ergo, the PQA is not so tacky after all.

I wish the PQA every success.  PQA website.

Pauline Quirke is best known to me for doing this.  And to most others, if the internet is anything to go by.

Might someone else who saw both adverts have been more impressed by the bus advert than by the tube advert?

Tuesday April 17 2018

This morning I get a phone call:

Me: Hello.

Voice at the Other End: Hello.

Me: Who is this?

Voice at the Other End: Me.

That is such a perfectly idiotic answer.  And such a perfect joke, provided only that it isn’t happening to me or to you.  It should be in an American sitcom, and I am sure it has been.

The subsequent conversation included this:

Me: I am going to blog this.

My thanks to Me.

Sunday April 15 2018

I liked this, from the Megan Mullally character in Will & Grace (latest series, episode 6, beginning of):

“Sorry I’m late, but I got here as soon as I wanted to.”

At their frequent best, American sitcoms keep on nailing down these universal feelings about the world and its various demands, yet in a way that you never heard before.  It’s like they show you the world, but with perfect subtitles attached, explaining everything.  My sense is that a gag like that one is proposed by one person, and then talked through by a huge team of gagsters at a big table for about half a day until it is polished and refined down to its pure and perfectly funny essence.  (Either that, or some bloke just thought of it, just like that.)

In general, I really like American sitcoms, because, in addition to being funny, they are another world, but another world where they speak an almost identical language to mine.

In English, and also in American it would seem, sorry is definitely the hardest word.

Sunday April 01 2018

I became fixated on Spurs in the 1960s, like a baby goose, because then they were so good.  Plus, I always like their Jewish angle and still do.  I have supported them, strictly at a distance and media access permitting, ever since. They’ve been sporadically good since that ancient time, but never as good.  Finally, that seems like it might be changing.

Today Spurs beat Chelsea at Chelsea, the last time they did that having been in 1990.  Spurs are now in fourth place, which if they stay there is high enough to get them into the Champions League again.  They are now 8 points clear of Chelsea in fifth.  With seven more games to be played, it’s not settled yet, but things just got a lot better for Spurs.

I just watched Dele Alli’s two goals on the TV highlights, and with both it was not just the skill but the speed with which he did what he did that was so impressive.  Before that, Eriksen hit what the radio commentators were calling a potential goal of the season.  One of those long distance, fast and late inswingers.

So, to celebrate, here is a photo I took of the new Spurs stadium, which will get moved into next season or thenabouts.  It will be a few games before the Spurs team settles in and starts enjoying their home advantage whenever they play there.  But judging by how well they did this season at the at first unfamiliar Wembley, it shouldn’t take them too long to settle into New White Hart Lane.

So, this is how New White Hart Lane was looking last November, with one of the Walthamstow reservoirs in the foreground:

image

Mmmm.  Cranes.

I haven’t checked progress more recently, and can offer no photos from since then.  But here are 103 more pictures, and counting, of New White Hart Lane’s progress.  I knew you’d be excited.

Friday March 30 2018

This Friday’s Other Creature is this:

image

Found it here.  Thank you Clarissa for telling me about this.

It’s all in connection with Australian Ball Tampering.

My favourite factual discovery re this rumpus: Cricket Australia has a Head of Integrity.  Reminds me of this guy.

Wednesday March 21 2018

Says Armin Navabi:

The only way to reform Islam is to get rid of Islam.

A short video, lasting just over two minutes.  Navabi is right, provided by “reform” we mean “make nice”.  That verbal quibble aside, agreed.

There are many nice people who want to remain nice but also to remain Muslim.  Can’t be done.  Islam demands nastiness from its followers, and there’s no way round that, only out of it.

The current Western governmental view of Islam is: resist the bad stuff, appease the good stuff.  But the only good stuff in Islam is good people trying to be good but being told not to be good by Islam.  Islam itself is the enemy.

The way to defeat Islam is to persuade a large number of its current adherents to stop being its adherents.  That will put Islam on the defensive, both ideologically and physically.  Muslims will be put in the position of trying to explain that Islam is nice.  They will fail, but will then look weak, because they will have abandoned their strongest weapon, which is the fact that Islam demands nastiness.  And the Muslims will thus lose.  There will still be many “Muslims”, so-called, in the world, but the ones who really believe in it will become a beleaguered minority, constantly betrayed to their enemies by other “Muslims” who are trying to prove, to the world and to other Muslims who are thinking of leaving Islam, how nice they are, despite going through all the motions of saying that they still believe nasty things.

In other anti-Islamic news, Dawkins notes a stirring of atheism in the Islamic world.  I hope, and more and more think, that this is right, and very good news.  The more I learn about this man, more I admire him, even though I mostly don’t agree with him on domestic political issues.

If you are now, still, a Muslim, stop it.

Monday March 19 2018

For two reasons.  First, England came second to bottom, which is not the usual arrangement at all.  It is now being said that they were tired, from playing too much rugby for their clubs and before that for the British Lions.

But the other reason this was a strange end to the Six Nations was the weather.  The last weekend of the Six Nations is supposed to be a day where all we rugby couch potatoes celebrate that Winter is well and truly over, that Spring is here, and that we can finally rise up out of our couches and venture out properly into the first serious sunshine of the new year, for hours at a time.

Instead, along with England doing really badly in the rugby, it was like this:

image

Click on that to get the bigger picture.  That’s GodDaughter2 weekending out in the countryside, in Hampshire or some such county out there.  That photo was taken by her, on the same day that England got beaten by Ireland at Twickenham, where it also snowed.  Which was all part of why England did so badly, I think.  For Ireland, the worse the weather is the better they like it.

According to the short-term weather forecasters, who are the only weather forecasters I take seriously, this second cold snap will soon be done, and then Spring can finally get started.

Friday March 09 2018

As a Blackadder fan, I have long known about the use of pigeons during World War 1, to send messages.  Pigeons like the one in this photo:

image

Twitter caption:

War Pigeons were very effectively deployed in the First World War. For instance, they carried messages, like the one being attached to a pigeon by Austro-Hungarian soldiers on the Isonzo Front, which can be seen in this picture.

Quite so.  But what made me decide to post the above photo here was this exchange, in the comments.

“Liagson”:

Were they normally encrypted?

Wayne Meyer:

They used WEP. Wartime Encryption for Pigeons. It was a very early wireless standard.

Blog and learn.  Not only did I just discover that pigeon messages were – of course, they’d have to have been – encrypted.  I also learned that you can link directly to individual Twitter comments.

And what better way could there to learn about the activities of birds than via Twitter?

Sunday February 25 2018

Said Sir Clive Woodward, no less, yesterday morning: England will return from Scotland comfortable winners.

Oops.

Friday February 23 2018

I’m watching the France v Italy rugby game, which happened earlier this evening.  It kicked off at 8pm.  But I had a meeting at my home, which also kicked off at 8pm, so I had to ignore the rugby until now, late in the evening.  But I set my telly-recorder, and all was well with that, so now I am watching it.  As of now: France 5 Italy 7.  Two imperfect teams, both desperate to “play rugby”, which means run like mad and score tries, which makes for a great spectacle for the neutral.  The game, so far, has been what is technically known as “frantic”.

I am now on Twitter, observing but so far not contributing, and normally, following my meeting, I’d be catching up with that.  But one of the Twitter things I follow is rugby, and I don’t want anyone to tell me the score.  The only way to be sure of that not happening is for me to ignore Twitter, until the game is over.  As in: over for me.

As for my meeting, it was addressed by Jordan Lee.  Superb.

One of the good things about these meetings is that because there is no camera running, and because the aim is basically only to make sure that we don’t have the same damn conversation month after month, I can take a chance with speakers.  I knew Jordan Lee would be okay, by that standard.  But I had no idea he’d be as good as he actually was.

He talked about his work as a teacher of troubled children, the kind that have got spat out by regular schools, at a place with the wonderfully made-up-sounding but actually real name of Wishmore Cross Academy.  Cross is right, judging by some of the dramas that Jordan described.

The gist of what Jordan Lee said was: there’s no easy answer to what the rights of children ought to be.  They can’t be completely free, like adults.  Nor can their parents own them and be allowed to tyrannise over them.

France are now winning, after fluffing a lot of earlier chances.  Commentator Jonathan Davies said that they needed to be more clinical, and finally, they are starting to do that.  France 24 Italy 10.  I was hoping for an upset, but it ain’t happening.  Later: 34-17, which looks like being it.  France have only three tries and need another for a bonus point.  France pressing, but no, France couldn’t manage that fourth try.  France 34 Italy 17.

Bed.

Tuesday February 20 2018

These are experts whom I want to believe, so I do!:

Violent video games may actually reduce crime as aggressive players are “too busy” shooting virtual enemies to cause trouble in the real world, experts claim.

I have long believed that television caused crime waves, in each country it arrived in, by immobilising the respectable classes inside their respectable homes and handing the world’s public spaces over to non-television-owning ne’er-do-wells, every night.  It is not the sex-and-vi0lence-on-telly that causes the crime.  It is the near total absence of these things.  Violent people were repelled by telly, because it was so abysmally well-behaved.

I myself have spent a huge proportion of my life watching television.  Had television not existed, I would have been out in public places fighting crime, by looking like I might notice it and then give evidence against the ne’er-do-wells committing it.

But now, with the rise of video games, it is the ne’er-do-wells who are busy playing video games.  Video games are not well-behaved.  You get to kill people, and to commit grand theft upon autos.  If duty calls, it calls on you to kill yet more people.

Presumably, this evening, the public places are all deserted.  I wouldn’t know.  I am watching television.

Sunday February 11 2018

But not this year.

But yes, last year’s Six Nation’s rugby tournament made it possible for one of the nations involved to achieve an even Grander Grand Slam than ever before, not just by the regular Grand Slam method of winning all its five games, but by scoring a maximum number of points in the final table, hereinafter termed “table points”, by scoring at least four tries in every victorious game.

The Wikipedia hive mind is utterly untrustworthy on matters which are politically controversial, but in matters of mere sport, I assume it not to lie very often, and here is what it says on this matter:

Played annually, the format of the Championship is simple: each team plays every other team once (making a total of 15 matches), with home ground advantage alternating from one year to the next. Prior to the 2017 tournament, two points were awarded for a win, one for a draw and none for a loss. Unlike many other rugby union competitions the bonus point system has not previously been used.

On 30 November 2016, the 6 Nations Committee announced that the bonus point system will be trialled for the 2017 Championship. The system will be similar to the one used in most rugby championships (0 points for a loss, 2 for a draw, 4 for a win, 1 for scoring four or more tries in match, and 1 for losing by 7 points or fewer), with the only difference being that a Grand Slam winner will be given 3 extra points to ensure they finish top of the table.

So, you can now win all your games and score four tries or more in each of them, and get a maximum total of 5 times 5 equals 25 table points plus 3 table points equals 28 table points for the entire tournament.

As Round Two of the tournament drew to a close with the Scotland France game, just two teams can still win a Grand Slam of the old fashioned sort, with five wins by whatever margins.  But although England and Ireland both ran in a ridiculous number of tries in their games against Italy, neither managed to score four tries in their other game, against Wales and France respectively.  So, both England and Ireland are at the top of the table with just 9 table points each, and can only end with a maximum of 27 table points.  So no Even Grander Slam for anyone this year.

In my previous Six Nations posting, I wrote off Italy.  But they are at least, for this year anyway, proving to be entertaining losers rather than just loser losers.  Traditionally, Italy have defended well but offered nothing much in attack, beyond a few fluke tries of the sort you’ll always get against tiring or weaker teams.  But now, they seem to be prioritising attack.  This means that instead of getting beaten 20 points to 10 points (hereinafter termed “game points"), they now get beaten something more like 50-20 game points, which is a hell of a lot more amusing to watch.  Instead of trying to bring other teams down to their dreary level, they are trying to raise their game to the level of their opponents.  In table points parlance, Italy have switched from trying to win, or failing that lose by less than seven points, to trying to win, or failing that to lose while scoring four tries or more.  Personally I find this a considerable improvement.

Take yesterday.  In the Italy Ireland game, Ireland had their four tries bonus point in the bag by half time, with Italy having scored a big fat zero of game points.  But in the second half, Italy kept on trying for tries, and the try count was: Ireland four (more), Italy three.  So, although Italy were never going to get a table point from only losing by a bit, they were, by the end, just one slightly cleverer pass away from getting a fourth try, right at the death.  Shame.

In the other game yesterday, England scored two early tries and looked odds on to get at least four, but actually managed no more game points at all.  England were then very lucky, with the video referee refusing to award Wales what the commentators all said was a good try.  If that Wales not-try had been given they could well have won.  But then again, there was an amazing tackle by an England player when Wales looked odds on to score another try, by which I mean a different not-try, so maybe England deserved it.  It was very tense.  I had to be somewhere else, and ended up being late because I could neither watch it nor not watch it.  I ended up watching it and not watching it to the not bitter end.

France Italy, in two weeks time, looks like it could be a lot of fun.  Italy will be well up for it, and France might, if they get off to a bad start, become very edgy.  Whoever loses that is a likely Wooden Spoon winner.  Apparently there is no actual wooden spoon awarded to the losingest team.  Maybe there should be.  And then, holding it, the losingest team should have to do a Lap of Dishonour.  But no.  This year it will probably be Italy, again, and that wouldn’t be fair.

There now follows the dreaded Fortnight Wait, between Round 2 and Round 3, and after that there will be another Fortnight Wait, until Round 4.  In such circumstances people often say: “I can’t wait.” But they can and they do, because they have to.

Sunday February 04 2018

I just heard ITV News describe South African politician Jacob Zuma as being “mired in a whirlwind” of something or other.  Controversy, or some such thing.  Yes, this.

Next thing you know, he’ll be blown away by a swamp.

Monday January 29 2018

I like my photo:

image

But I also like what 6k has done with it:

image

So, which is better?  There’s only one way to find out!

Compare the two by looking first at one, then the other, and back again, and so, until you are able to decide.

Did you think I was going to say they should fight each other?  That would be ridiculous.  Photos can’t fight other photos.  (Nor is it wise to fight fire with fire.  Just found out about that one.)

I think I prefer the 6k version.  Which is why I shamelessly stole borrowed it for here.  That big 2, bottom right, is much clearer.  But, not sure about the greeny-yellowy colour.  You decide.

Ain’t the internet amazing?

Thursday January 04 2018

For ages now, I’ve had these two pictures hovering about on my screen waiting to be put next to each other on my blog and then forgotten about, because they look quite like each other:

imageimageimage

But, do they look enough like each other for it to be interesting?  Maybe not.  But there are times when you have to say to yourself: It’s only blogging.

On the left: Shakib-Al-Hasan, noted Bangladesh cricket allrounder.  On the right, what he will turn into when a little bit older, or would if he had whiter skin: noted American actor Gary Sinise.  Photos found here and here.