Tales from the Cultural Wilderness Weblog
      ( 16:02 )  
A dull day, infested with mindless meetings - which is obviously my punishment for taking tomorrow off. The meetings were of the "we as management need to keep the troops informed" style, therefore communicating nothing of value in day-to-day work, but making the higher echelon feel that they're disseminating information and not hoarding it for personal empire building.

And the only topics I've found worthy of comment today are:
Ally McBeal and Robert Downey Junior's acting ability.
Copyright measures on CDs.
Attempts to control cryptography after the WTC bombing.

So, of course, I'll cover the least likely of these... as the middle two are far too meaty for trivial comment, which is all I feel up to at the moment, and the first is only in because I keep watching the show to see how they write him out when the actor has to go back to gaol (or, possibly, to see Calista Flockhart finally shrink into non-existence... too thin... too thin...), it looks like the last is the order of the day.

You see, yesterday, I came across Wikipedia, a public license encyclopaedia attempt on the web. Now, I've had a look at Wiki sites before - they basically form this web of interconnected documents that are all freely modifiable. So what we have here is an encyclopaedia (without the "a" apparently) that's written by anyone.

That's right. You there, who knows everything there ever was to know about the push-me-pull-you, or the Bugblatter Beast of Traal, could write an informative and useful encyclopaedia entry about it for all the world to use as a reference. Their eating habits, their mating rituals, where you can find the last remaining examples of these species... any pertinent and useful information - and, because it's out there on the web, and anyone can edit it, it can be peer reviewed immediately, your errors can be corrected, and the entry can go on to be useful to the masses.

Okay, so I'm overselling it, but you get the idea. They've obviously got controls in place to stop people going in and replacing all the entries with rubbish (or just deleting them all), and with enough people looking at it, most mistakes should be caught fairly early on. Unfortunately, it's probably not yet useful as your first reference source. Yes, it's more up to date than, say, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, but it's not necessarily as accurate. Also, as it's been built up by web-geeks, so its coverage isn't all that extensive yet in some of the more obvious areas, although most of the basics are fleshed out... so all you people who know a bit about anything... which is anyone reading this... go and write.

Oh, and before you ask, no, I haven't yet contributed. I may have to flesh out their inadequate mythology section when I get the chance.
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      ( 12:14 )  
The weekend's trip to Cardiff is officially off... this visiting friends in distant towns is much like organizing a piss-up in a brewery... moving it two weeks onwards is possibly just a hopeful attempt at pretending it'll still happen, but who knows - it may come off yet!

Some background on this may be in order - friends in Cardiff and in Leeds - both of whom I'm trying to see sometime in the near future - both of whom are busy working much of the time. Presumably the Phone Company are doing something wrong, as I'm at a loose end much of the time...

This'll be about the fourth time Cardiff has fallen through in six months... hmmm....

But the upshot of all this is that I can sort out things for my holiday this weekend (like money), and see grandparents (who are visiting / staying) who I'd have missed otherwise. So not all bad.
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      ( 16:05 )  
Well, this was going to be a rant about Compulsory ID Cards and their ineffectiveness at stopping any sort of terrorist activity, especially when we apparently have 3 million drivers licenses issued to non-existent people.

Then it was going to be an analysis of Andromeda - as I watched the series 1 finale last night - but Blogger seems to have eaten that.

So I'll try to keep my remarks on the show fairly short...

It's better than the other Gene Roddenberry, back of a fag packet show, Earth: Final Conflict. It's still not great television, but some network executive managed to keep it out of the graveyard - it appears to have been renewed for at least 4 series... are they mad?! Of course, I'd probably like it more if it had ended up with 1 series.

It would then, of course, have had fans up in arms, as the series ends with everyone dead (or, at least dying), much like Space: Above and Beyond did. And it would have upheld my theory that any show with the hero required to perform a certain number of tasks - in this case, get 50 worlds to sign up - is doomed from day one (see Brimstone, Time Trax, Cupid for examples).

However, it seems Hercules in Space will endure... and not because of the pretty but dumb (or is that pretty dumb) captain... and probably also not because of the Gene Roddenberry tombstone above the title.

It has, at its heart, a stereotypical space opera - the great empire has fallen, and a ragtag band of heroes, who don't like each other very much, will somehow manage to muddle together a fix.

In this case our ragtag band of heroes are also fairly stereotypical space scifi fare:

The captain, Dylan Hunt, is fairly wooden - he believes in truth and justice as long as they're convenient, and he can save the day by giving his opponent a good talking to.

The second in command, Beka, is the cynical, world-weary one, believing that anything that can go wrong probably will (especially as this is an episodic television show, with very little story arc).

The engineer, Harper, is more at home with machines (or computers at least) than with people. Otherwise I don't remember much about him.... obviously not seen enough of the show to get a good feel for him...

The security officer, Tyr, is big, imposing, and generally in your face... ooohhh... they're klingons... although maybe not, as they've got a slightly more believable philosophy than the klingons (let's be fair, with all the races in the Alpha Quadrant who can beat the Federation to a pulp, the klingons would have been obliterated millennia ago).

The ship / computer / android, Rommy. Okay, she's here for the ratings. She looks like that and she's not allowed to fraternize with the crew / captain. And she causes as much trouble as a holodeck. And she's already got emotions, so there's no character development possibilities there (which is possibly a good thing).

The priest, Rev Bem, who, lets be fair, is Zhaan from Farscape. He preaches, but he may go crazy and use the crew as hosts for his offspring in a sort of Alien meets Ned Flanders way.

And the alien, Trance Gemini, who maintains her mysteriousness after a full season. Way to go Trance! Okay, I'll admit it, she's cute - yes, she's purple, and yes, she has a tail, but so what? She's the Willow (or Chiana) of Andromeda... and she's probably the only reason I've watched as much of the series as I have... what is her mysterious past anyway? Hello, writers, give us a hint?!

Okay, so the show is fairly poor, the cast is stereotypical and the storylines are almost non-existent, but it's not the worst show on television at the moment...

And to keep this vaguely web-log-gy, see Cynic's Corner for reviews.
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      ( 12:42 )  
This is a test post to get this thing up and running. Hopefully everything's set up right for this to work... and if you're seeing this on the web then presumably I was right and it did...
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