Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Nice One, Doctor!

While there was a time when I'd hide behind the couch with the best of them, I found the appeal of Doctor Who waning at some point after the Key to Time was retrieved (the latter stages of the Tom Baker era, I think). I finally stopped watching when Colin Baker mangled the persona.

I had a brief check on the new series when it started, but felt the slightly manic Chris Eccleston was a bit too slapstick for my taste (staid Jon Pertwee fan that I was!)

If I thought Eccleston manic, the performance was nothing compared to David Tennant. Yet, somehow, I've found Tennant's portrayal of the Gallifreyan drifter has been growing on me!

The plots have been improving over the last series (#3), too, with interesting premises being explored in 'Human Nature/Family of Blood', a truly imaginative adversary and bit of time travel problem solving in 'Blink' (which gets my vote for 'best ever'), and finally, the grand Master revival finale.

An underlying theme of this series has been the increased level of support from companions Rose and Martha. It reached its climax with the Doctor thwarting the Master's wicked plot by restoring himself with the psychic energy provided by the mass populace of Earth that was channelled through a network set up over the preceding year by Martha.

OK, so it's a hokey bit of taradiddle! But dig a little. Have a look at the memes underlying the plot:
  • citizen empowerment
  • humanity cowed by aliens which turn out to be humanity's own decadent descendents (You would weep, Doctor, if you knew who they were!').
  • the Doctor's ecstatic pronouncement on his revivification: 'How can you call humans decadent when they're capable of *this*?'
  • a notable lack of what has been an emblematic facial feature of past incarnations of the Master (played here with barking enthusiasm by John Simm)? A feature whose absence immediately draws attention, thereby inviting comparison with another set of global terrorists.
  • the Doctor wanting to say one thing to the Master: 'I forgive you'
  • the Doctor trying to stop Martha's mother from killing the master by saying 'you're better than him'
I may be reading far too much into this, but it suggests to me that there is an air of receptiveness to an alternative to the catastrophic warmongering and erosion of fundamental liberties that's been the approach to terrorism for the last six years!

The Doctor always did eschew violence.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

So Much To Do... So Little Time...

I'm feeling a bit subdued this morning. Probably picking up on the sombre mood of two usually optimistic commentators:

WorldChanging's Alex Steffen makes a frank and bleak assessment of what's needed to ward off a looming global ecological catastrophe. Green stamps and Terra Passes aren't going to cut it. In fact, nothing short of a complete overhaul of civilisation is going to cut it.

And where's the political will for that?

David Brin, fresh back from a trip to China and Japan, quickly gets into an equally jaundiced appraisal of the State of the (US) Nation (and this supplemental comment is really depressing). He has a pet bit of (freely acknowledged) paranoia that suggests that a clade of aristocrats have been managing out democracy in the US, and are just waiting to take over and shut down this irritating bit of taradiddle called 'the Enlightenment'.

Cheery sentiments, which lead me to consider the end... of a little piece of Dylan Thomas:

...Do not go gentle
into that good night,
But rage,
against the ..
dying ..
of ..
the ..

So, what would you have done on Flight UA93?

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Sad Legacy

Six years ago a few sad men ruined everyone's day.

Six years on, and the legacy of those few sad men is perpetuated at every Iraqi checkpoint, in every minute spent in an airport baggage inspection queue, and in every inconvenience inflicted on the locals when the high and mighty get together for a chin-wag.

They claim that the sad men's patrons would like to continue their work but, while the voices of authority carry on like this, do they need to? Only when the lockdown is removed.

There's the irony.

A bit of lateral thinking on this subject is more than overdue.

Friday, September 07, 2007

When The River Ran Dry...

Baghdad Burning had it's last entry on April 26. After an admission that she and her family had decided to leave Baghdad, River has been silent for over 4 months.

Until now, that is. They got out safely.

Us and Them

Seven years ago, they came in their multitudes and mingled. There was chaos in the city, and order in chaos. Everyone had (or appeared to have) a good time. Some disruptive humour occurred when a toy wombat was dubbed the unofficial mascot of the event.

And then they left.

This week, a few came in their official aircraft, and were aloof. There was chaos imposed on the city, and no good order. Nobody appeared to be having a good time. One attempt at disruptive humour was swiftly brought to the ground, and the perpetrators charged.

They haven't left yet.

The difference in these two scenarios is symbolised by 5 km of chain mesh fence.
Those inside appear afraid of something outside
Those outside are supposed to be afraid of (or at least, impressed by) those inside.

Even at the height of the 2000 olympics, Sydneysiders still retained access to their own city. Today, 4 million people appear consigned to a suburban ghetto. Swept from the streets while diplomats travel in armed convoys.

I believe that high level meetings such as APEC have a useful role. I also think that this role can be fulfilled without causing the total disruption of a large city.

But then, there are examples to be set: we're all meant to be afraid these days, aren't we?