Clinton Landslide.

Politics Back in April, Nate Silver decided to throw caution to the wind and discuss what would be required for a Hillary Clinton landslide, what the electoral college map would look like depending on how many points ahead she'd be on election day. Without jinxing things too much - a month is still a long time in politics, it's still worth reading if you're in the mood for some schadenfreude:
"Democrats have long talked about turning Texas blue — or at least purple — but the truth is they haven’t come anywhere close. Obama lost Texas by 12 points in 2008 despite his near-landslide margin nationally, for instance. But Clinton has a number of factors that could work in her favor. We estimate that about somewhere between 37 and 40 percent of Texas’s electorate will be Hispanic, black, Asian-American or Native American, depending on turnout. A high proportion of its white population has college degrees. And Trump has run afoul of locally popular politicians, such as Ted Cruz and George W. Bush. Previous polls of Texas had shown Trump with only a mid-single digit lead there, although a more recent survey had him up by 11."
Cut to tonight and ...

At the end of his piece, Nate says:
"There have even been a couple of national polls that showed Clinton with a lead in the mid-teens. But my powers of imagination are limited. Other than losing North Dakota to go along with South Dakota, or perhaps the statewide electoral votes in Nebraska to go along with the congressional district ones, it’s hard for me to envision Trump doing any worse than this — unless he really does shoot someone on 5th Avenue."
Not quite that, but metaphorically ...

Class War.

TV Find above the first proper trailer for Doctor Who's new spin-off Class, uploading to BBC Three with two episodes on the 22nd October and heading off for another six weeks after that. It's about what we expected, The Sarah Jane Adventures with the tone of Torchwood. Usual business about cautious welcome, though I hope it's more of an ensemble than some of the establishing shots imply and it's not a male protagonist and bunch of co-stars.  Clever of writer Patrick Ness to address head on all the potential comparisons with other genre cousins, knowing full well that he's essentially using a well worn premise in the Whoniverse.  Hell, even Torchwood had its rift.  Find below a specially shot teaser with the Doctor smashing the fourth wall:

Before you ask, yes, yes I am. Or at least I'm planning to ...

Dear Barack.

Politics Back in 2008, I wrote an open letter to new US president Barack Obama, asking him for one favour. To be his own man. Eight years later, Lindy West now writes to him in The Guardian thanking him for doing just that:
"Thank you for modelling competence, humour and grace for your constituents, whether they appreciated it or not. You were held to a higher standard, with more gratuitous obstructionism than any president in history, and you didn’t just meet that standard – you transcended it. You chuckled through racist death threats and “terrorist fist jabs” and secret-Kenyan-Muslim-lizard-people-Satan’s-gay-butt-priest bloviations long after any average person would have thrown a chair through the window of a Jamba Juice and take to the wilds until death. Laughing at your enemies, holding on to your identity undimmed and letting your anger out when it really matters – those are lessons that have helped me, personally, in a very direct and tangible way."
He's going to be missed.

Museum Peace.

Audio Originally published in the Short Trips anthology Dalek Empire, then recorded and released as a subscriber only special, Big Finish have now decided to include James Swallow's story in their new Short Trips Rarities strand. Hopefully the other two will emerge later. With the company producing so much material, it's impossible to keep up with everything and so having not gotten around to the Dalek Empire series yet, I wasn't even aware until checking the TARDIS Datacore later that the key figure here, the old soldier Kalendorf was a major character there or that he and the Doctor would have met before in some earlier story. But the writing is compelling enough that their reactions to each other and their shared visit to a museum commemorating the Dalek conflict passes quickly, playing like one of DWM's Brief Encounters.  Nick Briggs's reading is about as you'd expect, although he makes Eighth rather more northern than my ears hear when McGann's playing him, the accent wandering between Liverpool and Manchester. Placement: published in 2006, this was arguably Big Finish's first cheeky reference to the Time War, with Eighth in the depths of trying to decide whether to sacrifice Gallifrey to beat the Daleks, as per the suggestion of Dalek and Parting of the Ways. The description doesn't quite match the Night of the Doctor version and although it's tempting to make it about The Ancestor Cell instead, I'm inclined to make it the earliest story in the Time War era, as though he's questioning the extent of his potential involvement.

Research Tools:

Books Sometimes a book vital to your research won't be in your university library and so you'll have to resort to an interlibrary loan. Most universities charge for the service and so before you go through the process of requesting items, it's always good to know if they're even available in this country.

Welcome to COPAC.

COPAC is a unified catalogue or database of everything available in UK and Irish academic, national and specialist libraries.

So you can search for the title of the book you're looking for and find out if another library has a copy.

For example, COPAC tells me that Lance Parkin's Doctor Who novel The Dying Days is available at the British Library, National Library of Scotland, Oxford University and Trinity College Dublin.

Safe in that knowledge you can go through the rigmarole of an interlibrary loan.

But there's also the added bonus of seeing if another university in your area has a copy so you can simply visit them in person and usually they'll allow some form of access to see the item, saving time and money.

Research Tools:
Box of Broadcasts.

Books With students either starting out at university or returning after the summer break, Liverpool suddenly seems like a busy place again, I thought it might be fun or useful to have a short series of ideas for sources that might prove useful in research. Having an Information Studies means you never quite give up on keeping connected to such things and it feels wrong not to put this knowledge somewhere.

Box of Broadcasts, then.

Box of Broadcasts is a massive streaming database of everything broadcast on much of Freeview television and BBC Radio since 2007.  Literally everything.  Every film, documentary, play, concert, game show, soap, drama and comedy.  Everything.  Apart from, oddly, the red button service.

Plus ten foreign language channels.  Plus a whole bunch of archive material mostly about Shakespeare starting in 1990 onwards.

And if you're a student or staff member at an academic institution you have access to the lot, providing you have the correct log-in information.  Essentially if you can log-in to a computer on campus or an email account, you have access to this.

Box of Broadcasts is here.

You'll have to register initially, but after that you just log-in each time using your institutional log-in.  Anywhere with a web connection and a browser.  Even works on tablets and phones.

There are two key access points.  An EPG like guide which you can scroll backwards, or a search box which has numerous advanced search options.

The legal proviso is that it be used to educational purposes.

How does this benefit researchers?


Between BBC Four and BBC Radio Three and Four there'll be literally thousands of programmes on hundreds of topics.

One of the most difficult problems at university is getting an overview of a topic with a sound academic foundation or finding an angle on a subject and although a lot of this stuff is also available on the BBC website, it's much, much easier having it all in one place.

Isn't that amazing?

My Favourite Film of 1926.

Film The Adventures of Prince Ahmed is the oldest surviving animated feature film. Argentinian animator Quirino Cristiani is known to have produced animations earlier than Ahmed director Lotte Reiniger, but they've been lost.

Working backwards through time in selecting these films, I'm slowly hitting the milestones or at least the eras of the milestones, the first colour films, the age of sound, and soon feature films, commercial films and experiments in moving images themselves.

But because I'm working backwards they also feel like the last of their kind.  This is the last possible animated feature film I can select, The Wizard of Oz the last colour feature film, Grand Hotel the last sound picture, and I have an idea what the last film will be but let's not spoil the surprise.

At what point should I stop?  The first commercial film?  No, that feels too late.  Lantern shows?  No that feels too early.  I do have an end date and indeed an end film in film in mind but filling the spaces between will be a real challenge.  Rocky times ahead.

* * * * *

Putting that shop talk to one side, what of the film itself? My single viewing was during my MA Screen Studies course, a screening in a seminar room from the BFI dvd. Although I'd read the brief synopsis, nothing prepared me for the magical radiance of the images and story and how so much potential beauty is lost when such things are produced in a computer.

Earlier in the year, Google celebrated the life of Reiniger with one of their Doodles, in this case a video piece which is still available on their YouTube channel:

Cynically, however lovely this is, I assumed that it must have been produced in a computer to give a sense of what the films were with much less effort. Imagine my surprise whilst researching this blog post in finding this making of video in which its revealed the artist mimicked the techniques of the original director in order to create this tribute:

"I just cut these out" she says as we survey a silhouette I don't think most of us would be able to produce as neatly or under the kinds of deadlines she must have been up against. On reflection, of course it had to be traditionally animated to give it the right atmosphere. To do anything else would have been a disservice.