Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

The Last Picture Show

January 12, 2010

chimp

As well you might by now know, I am a man who deals in cold hard fact. And thus fiction in it’s many myriad forms has never held any interest for me. This was revealed to me at an early age, when it was that as a small child and put to bed – on occasion my grandfather would read to me a story. He delighted in turning to the pages of Hans Christen Anderson and The Brothers Grimm to entertain me, as had they entertained him as a small boy.

I would of course, however, regularly take him to task for the obvious inconsistencies and impossibilities that such tales would throw up. Rapunzel – to grow hair to sufficient length with which to fashion as a rope for passing suitors, would have had to be growing it for at least seventy to eighty years – depending on length (again my grandfather and I would often argue as to how tall this actual ‘tower’ was). So far from being the beautiful princess waiting at the window for her rescue, she would have invariably been quite the wizened old crone. And one who constantly bled from the follicles, such would be the force exerted on her scalp by someone attempting to climb her hair. Quite frankly such a task would kill her.

Similar a house made of sweets, the like of which Hansel and Gretel happened upon in the woods, is quite impractical in either wet and hot climates, and would have suffered equally badly in both.  And the name Rumpletilskin is preposterous- who’d ever guess that!

So it is I grew up to be the man of science I am today. But I am not so uncultured as to be completely unaware of the current topics of conversation that filter through the laboratories and classrooms here at the Institute. The latest talk being about a motion picture causing quite the stir called ‘Avatar’. Now I have not seen this picture. Nor have I any interest or intention to rectify this matter. To date I have only ever sat through one film in my lifetime. And even then I stumbled upon it quite by accident, as I was trying to set the timer on my then BETAMAX video cassette machine to record the latest episode of Tomorrow’s World. Tthe one where they previewed the ‘fold up car’ – idiots!

Instead I found I had recorded a film entitled ‘Beneath The Planet of the Apes’. Now this film, despite it’s promising title, of which I imagined might in some way, relate perhaps to Desmond Morris’ The Naked Ape, was instead some incomprehensible rubbish about spacemen, mutants with nuclear bombs, and monkey’s riding around on horseback. So perplexed and then angry I was by what I watched, I promptly destroyed my television and have never owned one since.

If this makes me some social leper – then so be it, but quite frankly if it also means I don’t have to suffer seeing that hack Winston’s stupid big face spewing out whatever asinine scientific theory he’s currently trading in then all the better. You can keep your blue people!

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Customer Unservice

December 7, 2009

I don’t ask for much in this life. I’m rarely happier than when left with a pint of gin of tonic, the electronic musical mathematics of Kraftwerk and a small mammal to dissect. I do though, share the frustration of many of you when having to deal with automated phone lines and the extraneous waiting times of a company’s customer services. Only this very week I have been having yet more issues with my broadband internet connection, and had to resort to conversing with an employee of the service provider. I should in the interests of partisanship not disclose the name of said company – but suffice to say it was 02. I had just been in the middle of downloading a rather large amount of free science papers and music when I found my connection entirely uncooperative. Of course, it would be usual in these circumstances for me to try to resolve said problem myself before having to resort to consulting some inferior intellectual oaf over a phone line.  Someone, no doubt, who would have trouble breaking down and explaining Pythagoras’s theorem, or naming the key chemical components of their own DNA strand. What could such a person possibly have to tell me about computers.

But like the rest of you, and despite my best efforts to create my very own internet (or the world wide Human as I favoured calling it), I am subject to the big business chains and corporations too. I won’t pretend that you know anything about how the internet actually works, it is essentially a network of computers all connected to a giant supercomputer the size of a small town secretly located in the American Nevada desert. So it was that I was forced into calling my provider to resolve my connection problem. Firstly I was presented with a voice recognition system that asked what service I required. Well I am never going to be at the beck and call of a machine’s whim, and often take these opportunities to engage the machine in some manner of scientific debate (I have in the past caused a number of automated lines to question their purpose and self destruct) and sure enough after much confusion from the computer I was successfully put through to someone with a more human (although barely) physiology.

I don’t expect to be lectured or told what to do when speaking to customer services on the phone – I do the instructing and tell them exactly how they can help me and what it is they should do. In this particular case it was no different, even as I had to listen to the idiotic blithering of the person on the other end of the line who insisted on wanting to know what my landline number was and name. I like to keep things concise and to the point when dealing with people on the phone, and when I am done and said what I had to say, will immediately hang up. Unsurprisingly the fool on the other end, despite my very precise instructions has failed to rectify my broadband issues, and I still find myself with a frustratingly intermittent signal. I shall be writing to my provider, and demanding a complete apology from them, in the meantime I am taking my laptop with me direct to the source and shall be spending the remainder of the week combing the Nevada desert for the internet itself.