Friday, 3 April 2015

Goodluck says Well Done

I haven't been following the Nigerian election particularly closely.  I don't have any personal ties to Nigeria over any other African country.  But I've at least looked at the headlines, and today I saw an interesting little story on the BBC about the result.  Goodluck Jonathan, whose name I exploited for a cheap pun in the title, has been president since 2010, and is a member of the People's Democratic Party that has won every election since the end of the military dictatorship in 1999.  Well, every election till the present one, that is.

The mark of a democracy is the willingness of the governing party to step down.  President Jonathan's decision not to contest the result of the election and congratulate his opponent, Muhammadu Buhari, on his victory is a promising sign in this young democracy.  We can only hope it marks the beginning of a trend.

All of which makes the point of the article I linked above somewhat funny!
But even making the call was not straight forward. I heard later that the president could not actually get through to Gen Buhari. He rang all the numbers he had for people in his camp, but no-one answered. It turns out that so many calls were coming through that there was no time to answer them all - and Gen Buhari did not even know where his phone was.
President Jonathan resorted to sending a messenger round to his rival's house to tell him that the president wanted to speak to him. And that he should pick up the phone the next time he tried to call.
Maybe he could have tried Facebook.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Pseudoscience still Bullshit, People still Idiots

The Guardian reports on a new study into the worthlessness of homeopathy:
Homeopathy is not effective for treating any health condition, Australia’s top body for medical research has concluded, after undertaking an extensive review of existing studies.
These claims have been widely disproven by multiple studies, but the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has for the first time thoroughly reviewed 225 research papers on homeopathy to come up with its position statement, released on Wednesday.
This, of course, is right up there with detailed studies about the religion of the Pope.  But I committed a basic error: I read the comments.  And then I wept for humanity.

Saturday, 7 March 2015

Disappointing Titles

Sometimes, articles just don't live up to their titles.  In this case, I saw a headline on the BBC, Indian prisoners win right to cricket, which greatly amused me.  Then I actually clicked on the link, and found that it was not about being allowed to play cricket, but rather to watch the ongoing Cricket World Cup.  And I can't even get properly angry about them being given access to pay TV, as it will only apply to those awaiting trial.  Oh well.  At least they're sure to have matches to watch; if this had been an English gaol, by the time things were set up England would likely be eliminated on current form.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Leonard Nimoy Makes His Final Journey

I woke up this morning to the sad news that Leonard Nimoy has died at 83.  Nimoy had a long career in TV and Film in front and behind the camera, but will always be remembered as Spock from Star Trek.

As I have mentioned before, I never got into Trek like I did other Science Fiction works.  I haven't even seen all the films (not even all the good ones).  But I've long respected the show for it's rare success in taking SF ideas to mainstream audiences.  And while there where many aspects to that, Nimoy's performance was clearly a big part; even people with little interest in SF know who Spock is.  That is the mark of a great character and a great actor.

For myself, I will perhaps remember Nimoy most for comparatively lesser roles.  His guest appearances as himself on The Simpsons were the first time I "saw" him, and thus stick in my mind.  His similar appearances on Futurama were even better.  And he played a small but powerful guest part in Fringe, only in a couple of episodes but they carried great weight.

Nimoy is the third member of the main seven Star Trek original actors to die, after DeForest Kelly and James Doohan.  With the 50th anniversary of the show coming next year, there's some additional sadness that the cast will be one smaller for those celebrations.  Additionally, with William Shatner apparently confirmed for the next reboot movie it seems we have also been denied a chance to see those two together on screen one last time.  But they will long be remembered, and ultimately, that is all that most of us can hope for.

Friday, 19 September 2014

Scotland Votes for the Union

I haven't said anything here about the Scottish referendum before now, partly because--being unable to vote--I wasn't following it closely.  But I did have an opinion, namely being pro-Union, and so was glad to see today that the Scottish public agreed.  With over 80% voting, it was a striking demonstration of democracy, and a sign that the British public are still motivated to vote when a serious choice is presented.

Friday, 13 June 2014


It's been a long while since I last reviewed a Roguelike.

Part of the reason is that I meant to review the "Big 5" of Roguebasin first, then move on to other games in time.  So on more than one occasion I mentioned that I'd review TOME4 in the near future.  The problem is that I can't really get into TOME4, despite its merits, for a number of reasons.  And I don't even have ADOM installed on my current laptop.  So I've barely scratched the surface of these games, not nearly enough to comment on them in any reasonable way.

So, the obvious solution finally comes: review games I actually play.  And we start today with Brogue.

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Edge of Tomorrow

Last night I went out with a few friends to watch the new film with Tom Cruise and Emily Brunt, Edge of Tomorrow.  It's based on the Japanese light novel All you need is Kill (which I have not read).  As such I can't compare it to the source material; judged on its own merits, however, I enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it.

The premise can be described as Groundhog Day meets alien invasion flick, with Cruise starting out unlikable and gradually growing thanks to his experiences.  The alien invasion side of things provides our context for the repeated day, as well as a clear motivation for our characters.  The aliens in contrast are not particularly well developed, and don't need to be for this movie.  They do prove clever enough to serve as worthy antagonists and force our heroes to be smart.

One thing I strongly liked about this film was Emily Brunt's character, Rita Vrataski.  She is a soldier, believably hard both in combat and character, who spends her time wearing realistic military clothes and armour.  In short, she is a strong action character who happens to be a woman, and whose main relationship with Cage (Cruise) is as a mentor figure.

(Spoilers follow below the fold)