Winston Churchill.

Currency Coin Update (Daiy Coin Collecting News) has an interview with Victoria Cleland, The Bank of England’s Head of Notes Division who talks about the selection process for who appears on bank notes and why dear, old Winnie:
"It’s always a very difficult decision, deciding on the next personality because we’re fortunate in the UK to have so many people to choose from and… we need to keep in mind getting the right balance between the different fields, backgrounds and experiences, sometimes we will choose from people in the Arts or Science and to get that balance is important. I think once we chose Winston Churchill, the name almost spoke for itself – it was great to see how many people welcomed the choice. With Churchill, we got the great statesman, a Nobel Prize winner for his writings – and an artist so, in this respect, you can say we covered many fields. I might add that the Nobel prize (he was awarded) will also feature in the actual design."
Nevertheless, pity about the Jane Austen quote.

WHO 50: 2010:
Victory of the Daleks.

TV  Some people liked the redesign of the Daleks. I'm not one of them. Admittedly, that wasn’t always the case and on broadcast, my post-match review suggested “their new bulk gives them even greater weight and menace within the studio, and it was rather amazing to see so many practical examples spinning around in one shot, this half dozen having more substance than a thousand computer generated versions.”

While the comment about their practical nature is true, just as that’s true of all the practical Daleks when they appear, on reflection, I was being tediously kind. They’re plainly too big, too plasticky and over-emphasise their various parts, like the ball around the eye-stalk as it reaches from their head and the hump, the infamous, terrible hump.

If his audio commentary on the dvd release  is a guide, Mark Gattis didn’t like the hump much either noting, rightly, that it changes the classic silhouette of the pepper pots, which I’d add was so perfectly engaged with and paid tribute to in the first nuWho redesign which respected that they’re been through a war and as the Red and Black Dalek had shown previously, quite capable of reflecting a hierarchy.

Similar the "Bracewell Daleks" featured earlier in the episode are a more coherent progression of the gold Daleks, evocative of period tanks and referencing somewhat the imagery of the war which ultimately caused their genesis, the irony of course being that they're fighting, albeit as a maneuvering tactic the war machine which influenced their fictional creator.

It’s noticeable that subsequently, “the new paradigm” has receded to the back a bit since, in the shadows mostly for Asylum of the Daleks, with furious retconning from a production team surprised by the negative reaction suggesting that this was always meant to be the leadership class and that the previous predominantly golden model were always supposed to remain. Yes, ok, if you like.

Compare this with the treatment of the initially equally reviled new versions of the Silurians, not helped by the revelation, in the subsequent Brilliant Book via a concept sculpture, that the reinvention was initially to be closer to the 70s versions before budgetary constraints and practically requirements came into play. That they weren’t meant to be the same species didn’t quell the annoyance of some fans.

In contrast, I rather liked them and their ability to express a far greater range of emotions in a Draconian sense than their earlier cousins and thanks to Madame Vastra they’ve become a little bit loved by everyone else too, arguably a similar process to that experienced by the new Sontarans beyond their initial adventure, though to be fair they were never really a design classic.

But the image of the Zygon from the 50th anniversary special and the recent Martian suggest that through all of these mistakes, however fortuitous in places, lessons have been learnt, that re-establishing a character or race doesn’t need to be about throwing out the old, but simply updating it, constructing the original designs with newee, better more realistic materials. Roll on the Draconians. Please?

A Crystal Nucleus.

Science Formation of a crystal nucleus from liquid:
"Crystallization is one of the most fundamental nonequilibrium phenomena universal to a variety of materials. It has so far been assumed that a supercooled liquid is in a “homogeneous disordered state” before crystallization. Contrary to this common belief, we reveal that a supercooled colloidal liquid is actually not homogeneous, but has transient medium-range structural order. We find that nucleation preferentially takes place in regions of high structural order via wetting effects, which reduce the crystal–liquid interfacial energy significantly and thus promotes crystal nucleation. This novel scenario provides a clue to solving a long-standing mystery concerning a large discrepancy between the rigorous numerical estimation of the nucleation rate on the basis of the classical nucleation theory and the experimentally observed ones. Our finding may shed light not only on the mechanism of crystal nucleation, but also on the fundamental nature of a supercooled liquid state."

Cup of Athelstan.

TV It's young Michael Wood in 1981 and a piece of television which isn't that much different to the kinds of factual documentaries broadcast on BBC Four in this decade. Just in case you don't have a spare hour, The Masonic Order of Athelstan (oh yes) has a potted history:
"In 927, he took York from the Danes and forced the submission of King Constantine of Scotland and of the northern kings. All five of the Welsh kings agreed to pay a huge annual tribute to him, and he eliminated opposition in Cornwall. In 937, at the battle of Brunanburh, Athelstan led a force drawn from Britain and defeated the king of Scotland in alliance with the Welsh and Danes from Dublin."
He was also a subject on In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg.

Another Lazy Video Post.

Stuff with bits in One of my skills, though not one which of any use to anyone, is to look at the line-up for a given reality television programme in the first week or so and guess who'll win even though I haven't seen a broadcast second of it. The trend began with Lisa Faulkner in Masterchef and continues to this day. At this point I'm not following either the Great British Bake Off or Strictly Come Dancing, but my guess is that Ruby will win the former, and Sophie-Ellis Bexter the latter. I have no proof other than how I assume human beings think and a certain amount of narrative game theory, though I'd certainly be more certain of a Sophie success if Abbey Clancy wasn't there. Not that I've seen either of them dance.  Or want to.

What I have seen is this trailer for Sophie Ellis Bexter's new album coming in January, Wanderlust, in which she reminds us of the unique quality of her voice in a kind of meringue of middle era Natalie Imbrugia and Corinne Bailey Rae at her imperious best.  Have all of these promo videos been shot already?  Is that how it works.  Or is it a promo video recorded especially to cover this medley?  I'm dramatically out of touch with these things how.

I'm equally out of touch about the whole Man of Steel business though I know what happens, somewhat, impossible as it is to avoid spoilers in the gap between a film's theatrical and rental by post appearance. Only just recently did I realise how much affection I have for Superman, realising almost as quickly afterwards that it's because he's effectively the Doctor Who of the DCverse, a benevolent alien, last of his kind, defending the Earth with the help of a female companion, Lois. No wonder Russell T Davies used Lois and Clark as one of his models for nuWho. That series is conspicuous by its absent from this nostalgic celebration, a Kryptonian equivalent this Grant Morrison tribute to Batman:

Which in its own way has its own connection with Doctor Who given the propensity of some fans, like me, to assume that it's all one grand narrative and that everything officially licensed or spin-off of something officially licensed is included and equally important (oh you should hear my Cushing theory). Since I'm here, you will have seen Moffat's blabbing about regenerations again in the run up to the 50th anniversary and the number of incarnations there have been. My standing theory was that the Ninth Doctor was somehow the first, that as well as a new series it was a brand new Doctor, and Gen of Deek of all places crystallizes it with the words "whole new regenerative cycle" which for all we know might have happened during the Time War. For obvious reasons I don't like the idea of them killing off the Eighth Doctor. The other theory I've seen around suggests that the metacrisis regeneration somehow counts and with the Hurt Doctor that means Capaldi is actually the thirteenth or fourteenth Doctor depending on the story which is being told.

Meanwhile back in 1970. With the BFI Player still pretty flaky and far less free archival material than was intermated (though loads of Q&As) I've been working my way through their YouTube channel which features plenty of the same material in a more user friendly form, and with added extras of preview stuff from dvd releases like this fascinating short film about rush hour at Waterloo Station. Update the graphical furniture, give everyone smart phones and a similar film made now wouldn't be that much different.

Then in 1988, Kylie gives this edgy interview to Network 7, which in places oscillated between a Leveson testimony and having to field the kinds of questions which would eventually require the need for someone  to want to give a Leveson testimony. Her inquisitor Jaswinder Bancil, would go on to executive produce Hotel Babylon, which unfortunately for trivia fans wasn't the BBC drama series, but an ITV attempts at a Word-like magazine show introduced by Dani Behr seen here interviewing Green Day. The Big Breakfast too by the looks of it.

I had wanted to include an embed of this short piece about the underground b-movie scene in the UK, a forerunner to YouTubers, but the uploader won't let me. Includes a hilariously young Edgar Wright talking about his first feature, Fist Full of Fingers.


Film Jabba The Hutt's 'left hand man' works in Cardiff library. Lovely interview about life going on:
"If you have booked a computer course with Cardiff Central Library then beware, your instructor might just turn out to be crime lord Jabba the Hutt. Or to be more accurate, one quarter of him.

"Toby Philpott now works for Cardiff council helping deliver computer training to the community.

"But 30 years ago his day-job was as the puppeteer who operated Jabba's left arm in Return of The Jedi, the third of the original Star Wars trilogy."

Lady Christina de Souza.

Fiction The Cat Burgler. By Edgar Wallace:
"Old Tom Burkes used to say to Elsah, his daughter: "Easy grabbing is good grabbing. Nobody was ever ruined by taking small profits."

After his eighth whisky old Tom was rather oracular. He would sit before the fire in the shabby little dining-room at Elscombe Crescent (Mayfair by telephone, Bayswater by bus), and pass across such cultured pearls of wisdom.

"You can't expect millionaires to marry—especially if they've been married before. This Poynting's got money and a family. Families are always a just cause an' impediment. If he wants to make you happy by givin' me a directorship—let him."

So that when, in a moment of mental aberration, Colonel J.C. Poynting pressed upon her for acceptance the emerald bar which caused all the trouble, Elsah accepted. She made some faint protest... One shouldn't (she murmured) accept such a present even from so dear a friend unless... unless...

Colonel Poynting did not fill the gap. He was an infatuated old gentleman, but for the moment infatuation was held in check by an uneasy-sense of family.

"You'd better insure that," said Elsah's wise father. "It's worth three thousand if it is worth a cent."

Prudently, Elsah followed his advice—which was also unfortunate.

Most unfortunate of all, a few weeks later Colonel Poynting very nervously requested her to return the bar—his daughter had asked to see it... he would return it to Elsah.

"Perhaps," said her cynical parent.

That night the bar was stolen. It was taken from her dressing-table by some person or persons unknown. This information she conveyed to the Colonel by express letter. The Colonel replied in person, arriving in a taxi and a state of nervous perspiration. Accompanying him was a detective.

And that was where the real trouble started."
The cover is supremely evocative.

San Helios.

Space A team of scientists claims to have found the first-ever definitive evidence of a comet striking Earth. In Egypt:
"This impact occurred about 28 million years ago over Egypt, study team members say. The comet exploded in the atmosphere, heating the sand below to a temperature of 3,630 degrees Fahrenheit (2,000 degrees Celsius) and generating huge amounts of yellow silica glass across 2,317 square miles (6,000 square kilometers) of the Sahara Desert.

"One piece of this silica glass even found its way into a brooch that belonged to the famous Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamen, researchers said.

"Comets have almost certainly struck the Earth many times over the planet's long history. But before the Hypatia pebble's origin was determined, tiny dust particles in the upper atmosphere and carbon-rich dust in Antarctic ice were the only cometary material known on Earth, researchers said."
Another example of how science and humanities can intersect and how they needn't ever be mutually exclusive.

Free Homeland audiobook.

TV Entirely unpublicised by Channel 4 and so no one in the UK media, is carrying free spin-off audios for Homeland, the first one explaining somewhat were Brodie's been in the first two episodes of the third season.

Homeland: Phantom Pain is narrated by himself, Damian Lewis.

It's not on the UK flavour of Audible, but can be found on the US site here.

Downloading is bit tricky.

If you have a UK account already with the connected Manager software it doesn't show up. But I did manage to get get it to download onto my Kindle Keyboard by "buying the download" then going into my library and asking it to send it to my device, this sentence making even less sense the more I look at it.

You're probably best visiting the website and having a go yourself, to be honest.

But it is interesting how, despite the UK being in step with the US network broadcast, more isn't being made about this over here. Unless they're hoping to produce a monetised version somewhere along the line.

Hopefully there'll be one for all the characters, especially, obviously, Carrie.

"What I like, dread, is when people who know you in completely different ways end up in the same area. And you have to develop this, like, combination you on the spot. "

That sort of thing.

"That's how they ended that situation..."

Photography On the beat with New York's crime photographer:
"Marc Hermann, now in his early 30s, worked as a staff crime photographer for the New York Daily News for years. He began wondering what it would be like to see how past crime scenes from New York's streets have changed."

"His Then and Now series went viral, and he took BBC News to some of his favourite locations. It is partly a tribute to the old-timers who captured the dramatic aftermath of organised crime in its hey-day, and an homage to the city's turbulent history."
Then and Now can be seen here.

Chops and gravy.

Food Not just chops and gravy, Pork chops with celeriac mash and apple and ale gravy:
"Heat a griddle pan until smoking hot. Rub the pork chops with some vegetable oil (this will help prevent sticking) and place the chops on the hot griddle. Cook, turning as necessary, until the meat is cooked through (cooking time will depend on the thickness of the chops; it will be cooked when the juices run clear when pierced with a sharp knife near the bone)."
I've never been a huge fan of pork chops, too tough sometimes, but this could change my mind.

Romola on her new t-shirt.

Feminism Romola Garai, future Doctor (Capaldi's not going to be there forever) has an interview in today's Observer about participating in the campaign to stop certain magazines from being displayed and sold in supermarkets and the media's treatment of women in general. Obviously the topic of her own past photo shoots materialises and her answer is just right. People have the capacity to change their minds:
"I am very aware that I have at times in my career been part of the problem and not part of the solution and as I have got older I have tried to correct that. But it is very difficult because I believe the media in this country is inherently sexist. And so if you do a job which involves you interacting with it, that does inevitably lead to some difficult choices, and I am sure that very often I haven't made the right choice.

"But, you know, this is an attempt on my part to support a campaign which is encouraging people to think about what is acceptable in terms of media sexism."
The comments beneath are predictably horrendous and often misogynistic in and of themselves almost all of them missing the point. As Garai says, on the one hand Tesco says it doesn't sell pornographic magazine, but on the other will sell magazines which are as close to the wire as possible.

 Magazine sections in general are weird places anyway even in WH Smiths, where the children's sections are often opposite the "lifestyle" area which includes the lads mags. In some supermarkets its even more acutely obvious because everything is crammed in.

The government are desperate to foist porn filters on computers to stop children from straying onto "adult" sites yet they're quite happy, presumably because of personal connections somewhere up the chain, to allow those same children to see images on magazines and newspapers.