The Washington Monument Re-opens.

History On the list of things I always wondered, but not enough to check why.

 Why does the Washington Monument change colour a third of the way up?

The Library of Congress blog explains:
"In 1856, when funding shortages interrupted construction, the monument stood only 156 feet tall out of a projected 500 feet. During the U.S. Civil War, the site was used for the grazing and slaughtering of government cattle, earning it the nickname Beef Depot Monument, as seen in this engraving (below left) [which is in the linked post -- ed.] published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper on Feb. 1, 1862. It was a rather ignominious period for the monument, after the cornerstone had been laid years before on July 4, 1848 to great fanfare in front of 20,000 people, with plans to build a design by architect Robert Mills."
The project was paused for years and then a concerted effort was made to complete the build with a simplified design in time for the centennial.

Please, Just Shut Up.

Web One of my absolute favourite Google Chrome and Firefox extensions is Shut Up which turns off below the line comments on every applicable website and in such an invisible way that for the most part you can't see the join.

On The Guardian's website, you can't tell the difference between the articles which have or haven't had the comments turned on.

Although it doesn't work quite right for every website, group blogs like Metafilter and message boards where discussions are the point become wastelands.

But if you're just tired of people you don't know shouting opinions about things they clearly don't know anything about, this which will change your life forever. 

Or at least make the web slightly more pleasant to use.

Chrome version.

Firefox version.

Destination TARGET:

Books Let's begin. An Unearthly Child is an excellent example of how the (I can't believe I'm about to use this word) late Terrance Dicks was able to take even the most incoherent of Doctor Who television stories and make it lucid on the page.

His first key decision is to allow the whole of the first episode to encompass half of the book, cramming the final three, apparently far less interesting episodes into the latter half, emphasising, let's be honest, the best bit of the whole story.

But it's also much clearer that Barbara is the prime mover in forcing Ian and especially the Doctor to taking a humanitarian approach to the injured Za.  While both of them want to run away back to the TARDIS and leave him to his fate, Barbara is very clear about the moral choice they have to make.

Not only that but it also reveals that what would become storytelling staples later started here.  The TARDIS team are captured almost as soon as they arrive and have to find ingenious ways to escape, only really succeeding when they work together.

We also enjoy our first regime change, even if its not the most altruistic reasons.  In proving Kal to be a murderous liar, the Doctor effectively replacing him with someone they assume will be more pliable in their fate.  That Za's also impossible to reason with just shows he needs practice.

There is one other copy editing oddity which I hadn't heard about before picking up the book.  On the page it reads like literary deja vu and took a couple of readings to spot it.

Here's a transcript in case you're having difficulty with my dodgy scan:
"Za moved cautiously into the clearing, heading straight for the bushes where Ian and his companions were hiding. From somewhere behind him, there came a low growl.

Za swung round. It was the voice of the tiger, the long-toothed on, the old enemy of the people.

Granto the clearing, heading straight for the bushes where Ian and his companions were hiding. From somewhere behind him, there came a low growl.

Za swung round. It was the voice of the tiger, the long-toothed on, the old enemy of the people"
Which is either an error from the original transcript which was copied during typesetting (this is from the first edition), or simply a snafu at the printers.  I wonder if it was caught and corrected in later editions or it stuck.

Bergman: A Year in the Life is on BBC Four on Saturday.

Film As it says in the post title, the documentary, Bergman: A Year in the Life, is on BBC Four on Saturday at 9pm.  Here's a link to the documentary's BBC programme page, where it'll be available after broadcast.

It'll be followed at 10:55 by The Seventh Seal one of my top five favourite films of all time.  Here's where The Seventh Seal's programme page. This is a rare television broadcast.  Judging by a BBC Genome search, it was last on the BBC in 1995 as part of a wider Ingmar Bergman season, although FilmFour broadcast it once in 2009 and three times in 2011.