Sunday, 24 August 2014

Dr Who

Well, what better place, I thought, than this blog, which tries to address the eternal questions about life, the universe and everything, to talk about the one and only Dr. Who?


On Saturday night we watched the first episode of the new series of this fifty year-old Sci-Fi series, which has countless fans all over the world, as well as a few detractors ( who, I think, are just boring contrarians! ;) ). A 'new' Doctor along with an assistant, who is clearly having difficulty coming to terms with an older, silver haired incumbent time-lord.

So, for those of you who saw it, what did you think ... about the story, the characters, the new Dr. Who? The hints at more worldly things: politics, current affairs, many metaphors, hints at political correctness, timeless modern life; it was all in there somewhere!


We saw hints of the Scottish referendum for independence - in the beginning, the Doctor didn't seem happy with the 'English accents' around him. Only the reptilian lady (with the Scottish accent) seemed to be talking a language that was acceptable to the clearly disoriented Doc.


The same sex, albeit preternaturally and probably intergalactic marriage offered us a nudge at a topical issue. What interested me most is something that perhaps could place the scriptwriters' intentions firmly on centre stage of topical socio-political issues. The repeated use of 'the veil' (which, at times, covered said reptilian lady's face) and the closing scene, it has to said delivered with a generous helping of pathos, in which Clara is still having difficulty recognising the transmogrified Doctor and coming to terms with his new ageing grey face ... the epitome of how the fragile human condition is characterised  by how significantly it is affected, nay obsessed, on so many levels, with what we and others look like on the surface. How much do we spend on keeping ourselves looking young on the outside, whilst ignoring what's going on the inside!?


I'm sure many readers of a certain age will know what I mean when I say that, in the latter stages of my life, I can only be affected and attracted by beauty that is deeply rooted; that is sometimes almost indefinably subtle, but most certainly far deeper than the skin and it is glaringly obvious when you encounter it! The colour and quality of our skin, our height, our bone structure, even the way we speak are so often a cause of prejudice, sometimes crippling and socially unacceptable prejudice.
Anyway, please excuse my diatribe. All I wanted to know is what others thought about the new Dr, Who?

Let me know by giving me your own comments below. Make 'em as long and detailed as you like; rants and diatribes are both acceptable. Let rip with your eulogies and crucifixions as much as you like.



John

Friday, 16 May 2014

There is Light ...

© 2007 John Anstie
[Posted in honour of the International Photography Month of May and 'Wordless Wednesday', being celebrated over at The Bardo Group]

Monday, 5 May 2014

Archbishop Desmond Tutu's Forgiveness Challenge

Dear Fellow Blogger and Reader,

I have to tell you about Archbishop Desmond Tutu and his daughter, Mpho, who have started something. I feel that I have no choice, other than to promote this challenge, given that the subject is very much on my mind (evidence my recent posting over at The Bardo Group "Good Friday, Good Fortune and Forgiveness"). Forgiveness is not just a philosophical, theological or allegorical instrument of persuasion, it is instead being reviewed by psychologists and physicians the world over for its value in healing. This is probably because deep-seated anger, stress, resentment and guilt, may be emotional responses to life, but are known to cause physical and mental illness and personality disorders, if allowed to fester.

It is with honest intent that I recommend this to you all. The link to the site to register is at the Tutu Global Forgiveness Challenge website.

Before you go there, I would urge you to have a look and listen to this interview with the very articulate Alanis Morissette, of whom I knew little before this point, except that she was a musician, but, relating her own journey of forgiving to her song-writing, I found a lot to understand and admire here ...





Do let me know what you think.

Thanks
John


Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Are There Any Other Civilisations ... Out There?

I have held a universal and, it seems probably a pantheistic view of our life on earth for many years now. It is this: that there are probably other intelligent civilisations out there in the cosmos, but, in spite of our continued quest to find some and because of the humungous scale and mind boggling span of time that is represented in the life of the universe, we will never discover one. We may not even exist simultaneously. I would add a small warning to those, who like my mother-in-law, God rest her soul, used to be, are mind-bogglephobics, or who simply cannot cope with the scale of it all, that this may be a challenging concept to grasp. Nonetheless, it does require a calculator with a large scale, should you wish to do some proportions!

The following is a track from his album, "Letters from a Flying Machine" by a very fine musician, singer and songwriter from the USA, Peter Mulvey, whom we saw and met on the weekend at the Barnsley Acoustic Roots Festival.  Having listened closely to the words of his songs and one or two of his 'between song' talks, I asked him in our brief chat, did he by any chance write poetry? He replied that he didn't; he preferred to leave that to the poets, but that a few of his friends were poets and that he read a great deal of poetry ... to exemplify this, the inside cover of the album we bought from him, "Silver Ladder" reveals a brief quote from the 17th Century poet, Mizuta Masahide: "Barn's burnt down - now I can see the moon".

... anyway, back to the theme of this post.

The only thing I can do is ask you to listen to this story Peter Mulvey tells of a conversation that he had, over some beer, with "Vlad the Astrophysicist":




Sums it up very neatly for me.

You might also want to listen to some of this fellow's music; there is poetry in a lot of it.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Flooding and Political Flimflam

[This was posted on my Facebook wall earlier in the week, in response to the furore of political attacks on the Environment Agency. I felt much need to vent my feelings and also that it should be placed here on my blog, for the record - and I couldn't resist the above title!]

I had to restrain myself from an outburst last Monday, following the patently childish attacks by certain political voices against the Environment Agency for the flooding in the Somerset Levels, none more aggressive (and typical of its source) than from that well known pit bull, who was momentarily and, I suspect, deliberately, but later, regrettably let off the leash by his masters - give the little mutt, Pickles, a tickle behind his ear, folks (but no more biscuits, please) - like naughty children, who've been found out and try to throw the blame on their siblings, peers or those without the ability to fight back. Do they ever think about ... are they truly blinded to the fact that we can actually see through their silly, manipulative games, or is this just another attempt at a 'clever' smoke screen to shield some other piece of skulduggery that they wish to pass through parliament unnoticed. Keep your eyes peeled for another raid on the NHS or our education system or our freedom of speech ...

Come what may, what started this post was not only a feeling of total sympathy for those, who are clearly suffering so much stress at what's happening to their land and homes in the South West, but it was also about a simple fact that seems to have eluded many of those, who think they are in 'control' of this country, and who it is patently clear are NOT ... that the rain comes from the clouds, which are formed from those huge North Atlantic storm systems that are plaguing us with exceptionally adverse weather this Winter, it does NOT come from the Environment Agency or any other agency that the aforementioned pit bull is unleashed to clamp its overfed jaws on to break up, destroy or dissolve. It might also behove those self serving political parties to this furore to start paying attention to some other well documented longer term preventative measures, like reforestation and river capture devices that hold up some of the damaging flood water and stop it from sweeping down stream to more populated areas. 

And one more thing, lest we forget, the Environment Agency is strapped by regulation set in legislation by politicians, who, at some point, did listen to the people who elected them, which defines how much dredging is permitted without destroying wildlife and ecosystems that are so important to maintaining nature's balance. This may seem counter to the interests of those, who live on the Somerset Levels, but some of the weather patterns we are experiencing in recent times are giving rise to consequences that are far more powerful than human beings can control. So, politicians and power brokers, one and all, sit up and listen to the small quiet voices of wisdom that tell you about the irrefutable effects that our greedy habits are bringing to bear on global weather events. Yes start listening, carefully!

P.S. I wonder what effect Fracking will have and what additional risk of pollution would be introduced on water saturated ground? Just thought I'd ask ...