Monday, November 26, 2007

24. Why it Sucks

I used to really like '24', the hit US thriller series from Fox but I'm now in the middle of season 3 and have fallen out of love. There's no escape either, since Ms T has hacked my Lovefilm account so now I'm stuck till season 6. Anyway here' s Hendo's list of unfortunate things about this series, which everyone else in the whole world thinks is utterly brilliant.

1. '24' means doing 24 episodes per season. Because of the commercial formatting in US TV that's 45 minutes an episode. And the plotlines just aren't strong enough. By episode 15 it starts to feel like a sort of shaggy dog story, which is not far from the truth since the writers do the scripts as the crew are filming.

2. Jack Bauer. Not rounded enough as a character to support all this, because the format can't allow character development.

3. Kim Bauer, his hapless daughter, who rarely rises above victim status. In season two it was clear the writers were desperate to integrate her into the drama but couldn't work out how, resulting in a run of hilariously bad luck, ie she gets a lift, it's from a rapist, she goes into a 7-11, interrupts a robbery. If you were Kim you'd never leave the house. But the ceiling would collapse on you.

4. Torture. The first resort of the Counter Terrorism Unit. The frequency of this even makes the US military queasy. It's so unrealistic too, with people always giving things up after being brutalised a bit. Personally I'm fascinated by interrogation and recently uncovered this excellent collection of essays written by intelligence US experts when it became clear that simply abusing terrorist suspects was producing nothing much of value. Real questioning by spooks is a long long way from what you see on the telly.

5. It's as well all the terrorists are lcoated a short drive from Bauer's headquarters, and not in Iowa, or somewhere.

6. The President. The CTU never leaves him alone. Mr President shall we do this, shall we do that. If I were him I'd go ex directory or something. And he's always getting shot or blown up anyway! CTU are useless.

7. In 24, the US president spends all his time in LA. The real one takes his breaks in Texas, or at Camp David, nuff said.

8. CTU is mainly made up of people from terrorist units who've penetrated the organisation. And the staff wander around making mobile phone calls. In reality security service HQs are constructed to produce a Faraday Cage, which prevents mobile phones and radio eavesdropping devices.

9. Bauer makes phone calls while driving!! And never has a handsfree!! Haven't they heard of bluetooth?

10. Can't think of any more. But that's enough isn't it?

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Footie Ticket Prices

Could the worm finally have turned? I used to think football supporters in this country would take any kind of ticket price nonsense. But now even Man Utd fans have seemingly had enough. Their season ticket schemes reportedly include a clause forcing them buy cup tickets even if they don't want them.

I can't think of a single other business that operates in this way. Ever been in a restaurant where they force you to have an apple crumble when you're not hungry? And yet fans put up with the high prices, the cattle shed conditions and stupid alcohol policy for season after season, all so we can watch overpaid underperforming millionaires perambulate for ninety odd minutes.

Man U Fans have now woken up to the fact that clubs effectively run a monopoly and have complained to the OFT, but in truth we as supporters have the power to stop all of this tomorrow morning. Just stop spending on football. Dump the TV soccer packages. Tell the kids there'll be no fresh strip till they actually get themselves an apprenticeship. Stay well away from grounds, clubs and their websites. The beautiful game would quickly re-assume normal economic proportions.

Now where's my wallet, I need to find £45 for Citeh's away fixture at White Hart Lane.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Few Machines

What can you do on a rainy day in Lincolnshire? I urge you to visit the RAF's Battle of Britain flight, where enthusiastic and informed volunteers will take you round a hangar. All the machines in it still fly, including a Lancaster bomber (above). Our guide told us that it only had the one pilot, because while a plane could be replaced easily, fliers were much harder to find. The designers had anticipated heavy casualties among the crews, and they weren't wrong; in total Bomber Command experienced huge losses; 55,573 killed out of a total of 125,000 aircrew (a 44.4% death rate).

She's back!

After a period of silence Ms North of London has returned to grace this internet once more. Head over there for cutting edge bloggery.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Importance of Pussycats

From the United States another example of the way cats are changing all our lives for the better. A cat called Cinnamon has been the subject of an intensive study, in which all her DNA has been mapped. This provides an opportunity for scientists to take a step forward in beating AIDS, and an opportunity for me to post a picture of one of our brood.