Replicating Bad

With about two-thirds of the world population in a post-Breaking Bad slump, I have come up with some ideas (all tenuous, all horrible, all will be on Channel 5 within a year) to postpone the realisation that it has finished, just that little bit longer.

  • A former hitman (Nicholas Lyndhurst) who, on his last job was shot by his own ricocheting bullet re-evaluates his life and turns to teaching Biology at a local high school. He uses his intimate knowledge of the human body and the natural world to become a ‘hit’ in the classroom and in society, but can his past stay away?: Breaking Good
  • Alan Titchmarsh looks at poor soil management and how that may have affected farmers in the past: Raking Bad
  • The history of inefficient limestone chemical reactions is examined by Professor Brian Cox: Slaking Bad
  • People with a host of dermatological diseases talk to Dr Christian Jessen: Flaking Bad
  • Robert Peston sets out the ways in which trends come and go and whether the internet age has increased the speed of the cycle: Making Fads
  • To raise awareness of testicular cancer Mary Berry tries to break the world record for making the most genital shaped cakes in a 24 hour period: Baking Nads
  • Tommy Walsh smashes central heating units: Breaking Rads
  • A new drama starring James Corden who plays a man pretending to be a father so as to gain the affections of his next door neighbour: Faking Dad

Of course the list can go on, but I will spare you from the deepest pun-generating recesses of my mind.

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Jay Rayner and Great Food Miles Simplification

Jay Rayner, the Observer food critic, a cross between a well-fed D’Artagnan and Marco Pierre White, is one of the go-to people for foodie opinions, and usually he is bang on. The extract of his new book published in the Observer yesterday, was for the most part a fascinating and at times dispiriting read (especially the grim truths of the abattoir). Yet the section about the over-simplification of the concept of food miles seemed too defeatist and happy for us to wallow in indecision.

Through research, it now appears that the idea that the farther food travels the more environmentally destructive they become, is far too simplistic. Whodathunk? What emerges is the need for a more holistic approach, one provided by Life Cycle Analysis (which takes into account the amount of petrochemicals to run the machinery, the materials for the farm buildings, nutrients for the soil amongst others); this then throws spanners in all forms of works as it shows that local doesn’t not necessarily equal more environmentally friendly. Though, as is pointed out, there are far more benefits buying locally than just the perceived environmental factor, but it does drive a (well-hung) stake through the argument somewhat.

But it is here that Rayner’s argument disappears and the resigned nihilism comes through, as it ends with a verbal exasperated arm flail instead of pointing to a real solution. I can imagine him in the corner of his kitchen sobbing into the research shouting’nothing matters anymore’. Whilst the simplicity of food miles is inadequate, surely we can found a new system on the LCA, one which gives the consumers the facts and the power to vote with our feet.

Maybe this is too simplistic again? Maybe the effort that it would take to compile all this data isn’t worth the effort? Possibly, but it would a boon for statistics nerds.

A Minute’s Silence for Library Closures

The case for libraries has been made before many times before, so much so that you would think it is received wisdom, but constantly I am surprised by how politicians seem to never have had their common sense chips installed. To those unbelievers I would beg them to read this.
So with that weight behind it, both the Isle of Man and United Kingdom Governments have thought it was best that they stunt the intellectual growth of the nation by closing a large number of libraries down. Whilst this has been rumbling on for over a year in the UK, the Isle of Man recently saw the announcement that both the Family and Mobile Libraries were to close.

Family Library in Action

To me, a library closure is a disgrace and the sign of a society (or political class) too focused on the magical short term panacea of growth to be able to see the erosion of communities and children’s futures just around the corner. But this is also personal, as I spent many happy a time there as a child. I can still recall the sense of wonder in starting a new book, and the odd yet comforting smell of the books. Most probably the smell of a thousand children’s sweaty fingers.
According to the Minister of Education, Peter Karran, a man who looks as if his time spent as a garden gnome has left him permanently hate-filled towards humans, libraries are ‘non-essential’ and a ‘luxury’. Setting aside the fact that there are 18,000 users nor that it delivers 9,000 books to Island Primary schools, the gall to say that repositories of knowledge are anything but essential is a travesty to government. A sentiment that would make Ancient Greeks sick with anger. Modern Greeks have a bit too much on their plate at the moment.
Libraries do need to poke their head around the corner of modernity, not quite to the extent of wheeling out books in favour of Kindles, but instead to reaffirm their centrality within modern society. I want them to be centres of knowledge, whether it is harking back to the idea of a forum to exchange ideas, or simply providing seasonal and literacy campaign displays, activities and music to stimulate children’s interest in wider culture. Of course the latter is what happens at the Family Library.
So the Isle of Man has a facility (not just the building but the staff) that any government would want to take back to their country and much like the blinkered lover, it won’t realise what it has got until it has gone. And unfortunately that will be 15 years down the line when today’s children are strolling into adulthood with an education but not a full and true engagement with with joy of learning. The joy that only being allowed to explore knowledge on their own terms, at their own speed, in a library. And more’s the pity.

So if you do agree then please add your voice to the campaign HERE

Take Me Out has left me questioning my masculinity.

After being subjected to ‘Take Me Out’ the other night, which incidentally is the much rumoured ‘End Of TV As We Know It’ (also, if the genders were reversed, it would look a bit gang-bangy), it got me thinking about the male of the species. In fact that is pretty much ALL you can think of when watching it. The focus is so heavily placed upon the men and what it is to be attractive to women, that one can’t help feeling wanting. Not that I am: a) insecure with who I am (brilliantly average), b) on the look out for new female playmates (of that I can promise you Vicky), c) especially not on the lookout for the kinds of women that find themselves on Take Me Out.

It seems that to be perceived to be attractive then you need to have a vacant expression belying a complete disinterest of anything outside of their arm’s reach. With the looks of a weaselly schoolboy from the 1980s replete with the ‘Triad of Douchery’: low cut t-shirt (exposing all of 1 hair), single stud (though having both pierced proves true the maxim ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’), and idiotic shoes be it platforms (it’s not the 70s…80s…90s), or untied boots (poor parenting). You also need to have a cocky arrogance that is completely misplaced, especially when considering the above.

It is this elevation of the aesthetic by an increasing number of the population (‘The Great Overwashed’) that presents challenges both for politicians in terms of voter engagement, but also for the wider society if we are to maintain some rough semblance of community. But this is old hat.

Possibly in the brave new world of my new ‘friendly autocratic’ government, I will commission a show in a similar style to Take Me Out but where contestants were recognised for their depths, their artistic side, ability to author a coherent critique of Samuel Huntingdon’s Clash of Civilisations thesis etc. I would have to resist temptations to call it ‘ X Marx the Spot’ for no other reason that it makes me laugh. Such is my whim.

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Murdoch’s Declaration of Independence

I have often written/moaned/spoke with a witty, ferocious truth about the need for a greater understanding of the power of definitions within society and today saw the Coalition unfurl another clanger.

Allowing News Corp to bid for the remaining 60% of BSkyB in return for selling the Sky News arm of the broadcaster seems fair for all intents and purposes, but when it is given back to the people who put it up for sale originally do heads begin to be scratched. With News Corp holding 40% of the shares and the rest to be allocated amongst the existing investors of BSkyB it is clear that nothing will ever change.

Jeremy Hunt loves independence, so much that to him everything is independent: yorkshire puddings and British cuisine, cigarettes and health risks and a Murdoch-majority company and Rupert himself. A cat with a bucket on its head could process the limited information needed to see that transferring a company owned by Murdoch to Murdoch and his shareholders is the same thing. It was no surprise that this would happen as Murdoch’s arsehole must taste like candyfloss with the amount of licking that successive British Governments have performed on him.

Now that media plurality has gone out the window, new media has been firmly raised on to the platform that broadcast journalism once occupied.