Elizabeth Wurtzel on The Replacements.

Music Which is quite useful because I only really know Paul Westerberg for his work on the soundtrack to Cameron Crowe's Singles:
"As a musical matter, the Replacements’ high points are as transcendent as a four-minute song gets. This shows up finally on the 1984 album Let It Be, which is as uneven as the whole moody mess was. But it opens with the amazing “I Will Dare,” which sounds and feels like its title, and includes a solo from Peter Buck, who must have been in it for the headache. Coming in at 3:59, the album’s masterpiece is “Unsatisfied,” a deflated answer to “Satisfaction”: all the energy and fight in Mick Jagger comes back to him nearly two decades later as a demoralized sneer from the Rust Belt in Reagan’s America. No one will ever be satisfied again, as far as Paul Westerberg is concerned."
"All my life, waiting for somebody..."


Commerce Scottish MSP Dennis Robertson is seeking a new design of shop mannequin which better reflects the body shape of normal humans:
"“Young people can be easily influenced from what they see in shop windows or fashion magazines, and these images can promote an unhealthy lifestyle which can lead to eating
disorders. It is not just the responsibility of medical professionals to help tackle the issue – the media and fashion industry must show some action, and I hope the 
British Retail Consortium will take action and issue advice to the fashion industry.”
Of course the BRC throws it on to individual retailers who then say they're doing what they can or will act on customer feedback, reflecting once again a society in which no one will take charge of anything, you know, just in case.

WHO 50: 2005:

TV Without fail, one of the questions Doctor Who writers are asked is, “Where do you get your ideas from?”

Some have clearer answers than others. It's a bit like that film/book/other Doctor Who story I'm a fan of. There's also a bit of recycling. Apparently, Terry Nation was entirely unaware until producers Terrance Dicks and Barry Letts pointed it out to him, that his script for Planet of the Daleks had a few familiar elements to it.

Rose is a mix of everything. Having apparently thought about it for most of his life, Russell T Davies managed to turn out a first episode which, even if it’s not perfect as a piece of television, was perfect as a way of introducing the revival.

Most of it is a reaction to the TV movie. Just as that had loads of continuity references, this has barely any. Whereas that has a complex figure like the Master as the foe, this has the Auton, who’re an interesting if fairly generic monster familiar to plenty of non-fans due to their iconic entrance in the 1970s, smashing through shop windows, updatable for 2005 because now you can actually show them smashing through those shop windows rather than subliminally cutting away. Plus there’s a relatable companion and the story is told entirely through her eyes.


But we still ask. Why the Autons? Why choose the Autons?

A couple of weeks ago I was glancing through some back issues of Doctor Who Magazine, when I began reading one of those contextual pieces which used to fill up the periodical in the wilderness years.

It’s called Swap Shop (and yes it uses the logo!) and it ponders what gives each of the eras its ineffable quality and how stories might have changed if they’d been produced in a different era. There’s a rather lovely illustration of the First Doctor and Steven and robot dog.

In the middle, there a box-out page, Exchange and Mart, which looks at some stories in detail. It’s prognosis for The Underwater Menace in Season 17 is that it would have still been rubbish but would at least have seen Romana turned into a fish. At the very end, there’s this:

My goodness. Apart from not shifting the whole thing over to San Francisco (or the Canadian equivalent) and lack of military, that’s Rose isn’t it?  A bit?

Well, ok, sort of. Perhaps like the writer of this article, Russell was also inspired by Spearhead from Space, but having seen this, I wonder if he also had this lodged at the back of his mind too. There’s also this mock-up poster:

Which has a wonderfully contemporary feel, and could just as well be London (or the Cardiff equivalent).

Much as I’m a fan of the Eighth Doctor, I’m glad Philip Segal didn’t follow this model himself in hindsight. If there had been an Eighth Doctor series in the US, such things as The Scarlet Empress, Father Time, Charley Pollard, Lucie Miller and the whole damn run of the Doctor Who Magazine comic would never have happened.

Plus there’d be no Rose or the rest of nuWho, and that would have been a disaster.

Time/Space Vortex.

Science NASA, that's NASA asked, "Is Earth in a vortex of space-time?"
We'll soon know the answer: A NASA/Stanford physics experiment called Gravity Probe B (GP-B) recently finished a year of gathering science data in Earth orbit. The results, which will take another year to analyze, should reveal the shape of space-time around Earth--and, possibly, the vortex.

see captionTime and space, according to Einstein's theories of relativity, are woven together, forming a four-dimensional fabric called "space-time." The tremendous mass of Earth dimples this fabric, much like a heavy person sitting in the middle of a trampoline. Gravity, says Einstein, is simply the motion of objects following the curvaceous lines of the dimple.

If Earth were stationary, that would be the end of the story. But Earth is not stationary. Our planet spins, and the spin should twist the dimple, slightly, pulling it around into a 4-dimensional swirl. This is what GP-B went to space to check.
In 2011, they had their answer:
"The experimental results are in agreement with Einstein's theoretical predictions of the geodetic effect (0.28% margin of error) and the frame-dragging effect (19% margin of error)."

genetic structure

Science Tiny test tube brains could help fight genetic disorders:
"Miniature brains have been created in test tubes by stem cell scientists who claim they could help combat inherited neurological disorders.

"Several of the tiny hollow structures, which measure 3mm-4mm across, were created as a model to help scientists learn what causes some people to develop neurological disabilities."

holographic generator

Technology Holho makes your tablet a video hologram projector:
"You might be familiar with those optical-illusion toys that let you place a small object into a gadget with two parabolic mirrors and project what looks like a 3D version of that object. Now, there's a higher-tech version on Kickstarter that's designed to work with smartphones and tablets.

"The Holho has some advantages over the toy. For starters, it can play video holograms. One version is a small pyramid-shaped gadget that sits on top or under the screen of a smartphone or tablet. Play a special video and it appears inside as a moving hologram."

Primrose Hill.

Shakespeare Sir Jonathan Miller and the forgotten story of Shakespeare's Tree on Primrose Hill:
"IT is almost 150 years since 100,000 people marched to Primrose Hill – not for a political rally or a white-cloak druid conference but to pay tribute to the “Poet of the People”, William Shakespeare.

"The vast people’s assembly in 1864, organised by the Workingmen’s Shakespeare Committee, marked the 300th anniversary of the Bard’s birth with a tree-planting ceremony.

"But this potentially defining moment in the history of the park, and reimagining of the playwright as a working-class hero, has barely penetrated the public consciousness."

Watching and listening to all of televised Doctor Who in order: The Ninth Doctor.


History In 2010, the BBC World Service broadcast the documentary MI6 - A Century in the Shadows, whose title is pretty self explanatory. Nevertheless:
"An unprecedented look inside MI6 - Britain's Secret Intelligence Service, which marked its centenary in 2009."

"For this three-part series, BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera talks to senior intelligence officers, agents and diplomats as well as their former arch enemies about the shadowy world of espionage."
Here are links to the still available episodes for convenience. The BBC's own structure is less convenient. Podcasts are available:

Part One - Gadgets & Green Ink

The first part of this series explores the early years of MI6 - set up by Sir Mansfield Cumming, an eccentric and formidable figure known as 'C' who signed his name in green ink.

The highs and lows of the two world wars and details of some of the gadgets any self respecting agent could not do without.

Part Two - Heroes & Villains

The second part in this series describes what went on behind the Iron Curtain during the Cold War.

Former MI6 Chief John Scarlett describes his clandestine meeting with an agent and the Russian defector Oleg Gordievsky talks about his reasons for coming over to the other side.

Part Three - New Enemies

What is the role of MI6 in the 21st century?

The former head of Britain's Secret Intelligence Service talks about the interrogation of terrorist suspects and MI6's role in the run up to the war in Iraq.