Sherlock gets his rocks

As you might be able the deduce from the title, I am not a big fan of the UK series Sherlock...I don’t like it for many of the same reasons I’m not that fussed about the Robert Downey Jr take on Sherlock Holmes either. I especially dislike the superior manner in which it points out all the key clues in such an blatant instead of relying on simply writing a good enough script to illustrate Holmes’ deductive powers. I also also not that keen on Sherlock because the stories are not much more than poor adaptations of the classic Holmes’ stories dragged screaming into the 21sr Century. I much prefer Elementary as a contemporary Holmes tales because a. the stories are original and b. it has Lucy Liu in it.

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So, anyway, last night was the first time that I’ve flown Emirates and I must say that the in-flight entertainment system is most excellent: over 300 movies to choose from and a decent size (the better part of 30cm) touchscreen to watch them on. International flights are usually I get to catch up on new release movies and I wasn’t disappointed with the selection last night. First up was Star Trek: Into Darkness which I did enjoy because I do quite like the ‘JJverse’ Star Trek although I was disappointed that the bottom line of the plot was a rehash of the Khan story, with attempts to liven it up by swapping some of the roles from the original Khan story. I don’t think that device worked that well but I’m reserving my final verdict until I see it on the big screen: I was pretty scathing on the first ‘JJverse’ story when I saw out on a small scree but now it’s firm favorite. I was expressed pleased to see Sherlock get his rocks though as he plays the same sort of supercilious superior character as he does in Sherlock. There wasn’t enough time for another full movie before the end of the trans-Tasman leg, so I caught the pilot episode of Elementary just to rub it in + I do really like it…

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After a brief stopover in Melbourne, it was back in the air for dinner and into Ironman 3. Quite simply, too many Ironmans…Tony Stark is Ironman, Roadie is Ironman, Pepper is Ironman, even Ironman is bloody Ironman! Much as I enjoy the Marvel universe, this one had a very X-Men feel about it with more super-powered mutated adversaries who seem to come from nowhere; coupled with Tony Stark’s continuing angsting over the events in The Avengers, it started to get a little boring and didn’t really contribute a lot to development of the characters of the universe. I think this franchise really has to get back to a ‘one movie, one Ironman approach’ and some more credible adversaries…

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I only got about 20 minutes into GI Joe: Retaliation before I needed a snooze. That not really a reflection on the movie and more a result of my body time being around 3AM. On watching the remainder some four to five hours later, I didn’t think that it was as good as The Rise of Cobra…way too much very passé ‘fight by wire’ and not nearly enough of the cool GI Joe toys that were the backbone of the franchise. I’m also not a big fan of ‘famous actor, cameos and, to be really honest about it, the Bruce Willis character could have been played by anyone. Ditto for Channing Tatum’s character, Duke…what happens to him loses any shock value as the character has been so poorly developed. Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised as director, Jon m. Chu’s other claims to fame include inflicting Justin Bieber: Never Say Never on the world…

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And thoughts of Justin Bieber bring us to the next movie in our journey, the 2013 version of The Lone Ranger. No, Bieber is not in this movie but his presence is about the only thing that could make it any worse! This is one of the worst movies that it has ever been my discomfort to sit through – and I did sit through the whole thing in the unrequited hope that it could only get better…this bloated aberration fails totally to offer even the slightest entertainment value and turns the legend and values of the Lone Ranger into a painful vehicle for Johnny Depp to meander around the screen for two and a half hours with a rotting bird on his head. Do your kids a flavour and get them ANY other version of The Legend to watch instead of this nonsense…even forcing them to watch Gigli to to the William Tell Overture would be a vast improvement…

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I always liked the buddy action movies of the 80s and Walter Hill’s Bullet the the Head looked like a good easy to fill the last couple of hours as we approached the Gulf. I might have needed to find something even shorter as Emirates have so many pre-landing PA announcements that I wasn’t able to finish it before touching down – in all fairness, I was in an exit row so had to stow my screen early. Although I still have 7-8 minutes of the movie to go, I can already say that I did quite like this one. It remains true to its action buddy roots but has a very clever and well-executed twist in that Sylvester Stallone’s character is not a very good person at all and the strength of this character is only slightly eroded by the blandness and weak development of his cop ‘buddy’…I think this one is worth a look for this alone….

My Little Life: Five Question Friday! 8/2/13

1. What is on your Summer 2013 bucket list?

I don’t really have a bucket list…I’ve been around a lot and done a lot of things and am pretty content with the things that I’ve done, places that I’ve been, etc so any such list I might have of things to do before I go is pretty simplistic…for this summer, my one ambitions is to landscape this area so that any rainfall runs parallel to and not towards the house. It will have to be dropped quite a bit on the bank side and the fence past the tank will have to be replaced as the ground level there will drop my about half a metre: probably a good time to convert it to post and rail….First snow 2013 - Raurimu-069

2. What is the most useless item on your child’s back to school list?

Not something we have to worry about now and, as grandparents, we can encourage all sorts of inanity…

3. What is the one reality TV show that makes no sense to you?

There’s reality shows that make sense? The only ones that I watch, if they meet the definitions of ‘reality show’ are some of the more up market cooking shows like Masterchef…well, just Masterchef, really….

4. What is one movie you can watch over and over again? Why?

Oddly enough, the 2009 version of Star Trek….I hated when I first saw it but it’s really grown on me. This might be just because I know that it outrages all the pureborn Trekkies to the point of pain but more and more it is because I think it has a top cast, is an interesting take on an old but tired story, and pays more than lip service to character development…on nights when TV just sucks and I don’t want to think too hard about selecting a movie or I just want something familiar on as background while I work on something else. more and more, Star Trek 2009 is my pic…

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Just for those too dumb to figure out what actually happens in the movie, this picture might help make it clear. Everything after The Original Series is gone now (and so, in logic, is First Contact). Is that a great loss? Mmmmm…possibly not…4000 seasons of Voyager, The New Generation and Deep Space Nine pretty much thrashed the franchise to death…MAKE IT STOP!!!! So JJ ABrams did….get over it…

5. What’s your favorite back to school tradition?

Enjoying week day daytime peace…

via My Little Life: Five Question Friday! 8/2/13.

My Little Life: Five Question Friday!! 5/3/13

1. What is your next home improvement goal?

In priority order….

BATHROOM!!!!!! BATHROOM!!!!!! BATHROOM!!!!!! BATHROOM!!!!!!

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Knocking out the wall between the current shower and the rest of the bathroom; shifting the shower into the opposite corner of the bathroom and putting the bath in the area where the shower is now…

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This wall goes and the bath goes in the new area;

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…the windows are replaced by a full-length bi-fold or sliding door that  provides full access to the bush outside…

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…seal up the sleep-out cottage by fitting clear roofing over the deck(ette) and mounting windows (currently in storage in the Chalet’s garage where the plywood panels are at the moment; flip the door so that it opens the other way towards the direction people approach from the Lodge; the cool bendy tree in the foreground will go as it has passed away and the deck will be extended  another metre or two….

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…at the moment the dining room bifolds open out to nowhere: the plan is to put a floor level deck out here extending out as far as the gate post in the foreground and, in Deck Phase 1, to just past the kitchen window (to about where the bush under the pantry window is now; Phase 2 will see the deck extended to meet the spa deck steps and around the corner to the back door…if the ugly internet satellite dish can not pick up any decent TV channels it will go to as we know have fixed line broadband

2. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life, what would it be? No religious texts (ie Bible, Quran, Torah, etc, etc)…

This is a toughy…I once spent six week in Vietnam with only one English book and no access to any bookshop selling books in English til my last night in Saigon…had to settle for many many re-reads of Vulcan’s Glory (I’ll add the text as there’s not mcuh as most people lack the fitness to click on the link anyways)

The novel focuses on a young Spock, a conflicted ensign, serving on the Starship Enterprise under Captain Christopher Pike. Spock is having a difficult time dealing with his Vulcan heritage and how it conflicts with his duties as an officer and what he wants personally.

Spock soon becomes involved in a mission to retrieve the ‘Vulcan’s Glory’, a priceless gem long thought lost in a spaceship crash. It is soon discovered there is far more to this mission then readily apparent.

The novel focuses on the crew of the Enterprise from the period featured in the pilot episode The Cage. A younger Montgomery Scott also appears.

That was challenging, character-building even, but I survived with no (visible) scars…looking around the library now at all the books that I have read so many times, I am conflicted…I’m leaning towards a classic like George Lucas’ original Star Wars, or possibly Dean Koontz’ Watchers or Lightning…?

3. What is on top of your refrigerator?

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Dog treats, soap crystals in case one of the dogs picks up any of the poison that the Department of Conservation persist in dropping everywhere , tea pot because it is handy and unlikely to get knocked off, bug zapper, token pot plant, random stuff up high and out of sight out of mind when the girls are here….

4. What are your favorite or most used phone apps?

My phone is not really app-compliant or -capable but it does has Lego Star Wars on it from the time when the twins were born and we were spending a lot of time hanging around in hospital waiting rooms…lego star wars

5. What’s the one thing you hate most about your spouses job?

That they don’t recognise her for what she does, more so considering that THEY headhunted HER for the job…be nice if some of that recognition involved extra income but ‘thank you‘ also goes a long way…

via My Little Life: Five Question Friday!! 5/3/13.

 

My Little Life: Five Question Friday!! 3/22/13

My Little Life: Five Question Friday!! 3/22/13.

1. What advice would you give a newly married couple?

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Starting out doesn’t have to be flash…

Save….save like you don’t know where you next paycheck is coming from…eschew (say ‘no’ to) flash new cars and household bling, turn away from offers of credit cards and cheap loans…get your house paid off and build a home…

2. Who does more laundry around your house?

Me…but, in all fairness, I currently work from home so have the best opportunity to load up the machine and hand each load out during the day – and to recover it just on the off chance it should actually rain here in the Raurimu Desert…

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Not my turn today though…

I must say, though…really, I must, thjat this sounds very much like one of the domestic issues that will lead to a conversation that ends in the ‘statement’ “See…!!!!!” and/or “I told you so…!!!” Tread carefully on this one, guys…

3. What items, if any, do you prefer to buy organic or make yourself?

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The writing on the eggs is their collection date…

As much as possible, we like to grow our own vegetables and now starting slowly on our own fruit…we have been growing our own herbs for years and even had lemons growing successfully until Mr Lemon Tree got caught out by nasty old Jack Frost…we’re self-sufficient for eggs including having enough surplus to trade for chicken feed…

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The white things on the ground are summer hail stones…

4. What book/TV series would you recommend for a friend on bedrest?

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All five seasons of Babylon 5 and Battlestar Galactica for TV series…two of the greats scifi sagas ever told…more so after Mrs Lucas’ little boy dropped the ball…

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William Shatner’s three Trek trilogies: Odyssey, Mirror Universe and Totality…I like them over other Star Trek books because Shatner (or his ghost writers) gets into Kirk in an almost autobiographical manner…

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The best of the nine by a good country mile…

5. So, they say it’s Spring now…what does your “spring” look like at this very moment?

Well, here on the upside-down part of the world from Mama M, it is still the worst drought in seven decades (does that sound better or worse than 70 years?). Although it is still relatively green here, we are rationing our water just in case in continues on for more than another few weeks…

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Green 2012 North Island on the left, 2013 scorched version on the right…

Weekly Writing Challenge: A Few of My Favorite Things

This is a toughie…since this popped in my inbox early this morning  a couple of weeks ago (have been dillydallying – yes, it IS  a word – over a simple thing like taking the two photos), I have been keeping an eye out as I have drifted around the house, an eye out for a few of my favourite things…well, there’s Kirk and Lulu, of course, who follow me all around the house…except for when Kirk disappeared this morning a morning a couple of weeks ago after breakfast: we got a possum on a couple of Sundays ago and so I think he’s kinda hopeful of getting another – I don’t know if he’s noticed yet but Lulu and Deeda have already stolen Sunday’s possum from where he buried it – tarts! – and there’s not much left of it now… (nope – Lulu was last seen with a bit of possum snout sticking out of her mouth and that was all she wrote)…

So…favourite things…I’m always rapt to acquire another book to replace one of the many that went missing or were ‘borrowed’ while I was on the move in the 80s and 90s…I now have all the Airfix Annuals again less #3 and thought it was a real coup to score a full set of the short-lived (all four!) Science Fiction and Fantasy Magazine from the late 70s, complete with the posters…this was the one that, in each issue, analysed a modern (70s) science-fiction movie, one from the 60s and one from the 50s and merged themes from each into a poster in each issue….I still smile when I think of the article that tried to calculate the physical size that the Enterprise’s computer would have to be to hold all the information retrieved from it during the Original Series of Star Trek, drawing the conclusion that it would be impossible by virtue of its sheer bulk for any computer to hold that much information…meanwhile 35 years later…

I still have odds’n’sods from soldiering days…my Gerber ‘letter opener’, various bits and pieces of web gear that might be useful one day – Carmen was quick to commandeer my secateurs and folding tree saw pouches onto a belt for her forays into the Lodge’s garden/forest – and I still jealousy guard the original day park and vest webbing we developed in 1 RNZIR…oh, yes, and of course, there’s the hat collection that graces the big beam running across the study, acquired from here and there…thirty odd years of military head-dress…less the warmer stuff that has found its way into the cold weather front line of hooks by the back door…

But the thing is, I’m not really that attached to any of it…sure, I don’t want it to just be binned because each represents memories…my favourite cup when I was in Waiouru was the classic ‘cups’ canteen’ partly because it held a lot of coffee but also because some fairly brutal attrition and experimentation showed that, of all cup types, it was the absolute least likely to be stolen…I don’t think that I have any one thing (non-breathing anyway!) that I would be desperately cut up about if I were to loose it…I’d be hacked off to loose my photo collection but I’d get over it, and ditto for the book and movie library and my still growing model collection (although I am getting better and slowing down on acquisition)…

Some things you just can’t beat…

An Ear To The Ground

Like many people, I opted not to comment on the 911 anniversary yesterday (it’s already six hours into September 12 here), although as one adversary pointed out, the date remains significant anyway as it marks the airing of the last ever Get Smart episode in 1970, and the same pundit also reminded me that there are other such anniversaries that we do not remember so much…

It started to snow last night – finally, the first snow of the season and it’s spring already – and I got up early to check on things, well, really to see how heavy it was to determine if I could have a longer sleep-in this morning because the roads are closed…not such luck and it looks as thought the bulk of it missed us…Anyway, now being awake, I couldn’t get back to sleep and so logged in to check emails etc before heading away for the day. Sitting there was an email from Ben Ianotta with whom I had done some work while he was editor of C4ISR Journal promoting a new venture, Deep Diver Intelligence. Always keen to check out new ventures and ideas, I had a look and hit the article on the renewal (or not) of the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) first…[access is free til 17 September, then I’m not sure so will post a PDF of the article if it drops offline] It’s a good article and worth reading and thing about…

It’s an interesting issue and I think that the key point that may be overlooked in all the Big Brother paranoia is that this type of data collection is happening already in the commercial/corporate arena. Google now quite openly ‘reads’ our emails in order to customise the advertisements that it subjects us – under its ‘do no harm’ philosophy, would/should Google withhold potentially useful information of a national security nature if it stumbles across it?

The genie is already out of the bottle and we need to look at how we deal with it not cry into our milk about how we can’t put it back in. At least the FISA discussions encourage that discussion. We in an information age now and we need to accept that things will change in respect to our ‘rights’. This is nothing new and simply a fact of civilization’s evolution: the rights that we have now are nothing like those of two centuries ago when our nations were settled and explored…things change, we need to get used to that idea.

Unless we all totally give up access to electronic information and opt to live in a cave in the hills somewhere, the simple fact is that information is being collected on us all the time. When you really get down to it, a lot of that information has been collected for a long long time: what has changed is that we now have technologies that allow us to merge much of the information. It’s still largely aspirational that this merging will enable us to join the dots a la Person of Interest – in fact, that is one reason I don’t like this series: because it does present  such an omnipotent perspective that the story just becomes boring – much like the old Star Trek ‘get out of jail free’ cards of time travel or fiddling the transporter cache – but my point is that this data collection is really nothing new.

“You are being watched. The government has a secret system: a machine that spies on you every hour of every day. I know because I built it. I designed the machine to detect acts of terror, but it sees everything. Violent crimes involving ordinary people, people like you. Crimes the government considered irrelevant. They wouldn’t act, so I decided I would. But I needed a partner, someone with the skills to intervene. Hunted by the authorities, we work in secret. You’ll never find us, but victim or perpetrator, if your number’s up…we’ll find you.” ~ Person of Interest voiceover.

A theme through the article, reflective of more the attitudes of intelligence agencies than the author, in my opinion, is that FISA has failed because it has not been able to directly identify and interdict a major adversary action. A couple of though on this:

First up, we seem to be thinking/hoping that major adversary actions will be in a forms that we recognise i.e. think the Arizona, the Twin Towers, of the invasion of Kuwait. One might ask who really manipulated who in the Arab Spring which resulted in the demise of a number of stability-promoting regional strong men; or why we expect the worst of ISAF forces in Afghanistan but so desperately seek the faintest glimmer of anything remotely redeemable in our adversaries there; or whether last year’s Notting Hill rampage was really just a spontaneous boil-over?

Second, we seem to have forgotten that, in the contemporary environment as opposed to the Fulda Gap, it may be impossible to winnow out from all the noise, the key information that points to an impending action. This is what I call ‘intelitis’: the overpowering desire of many intel analysts to be able to jab a finger at the map, preferably in front of their boss’ boss, and state that Third Shock or Eight Guards Army will do X at X time on X day. Uh-huh…whatever…where were you guys for end of the Cold War, Fiji Coups 1-57 or the Falklands War…? Huh? More likely, in the contemporary environment, that accumulated data may serve as a foundation for a rapid and precise response (do people get the distinction between ‘response’ and ‘reaction’?) in my the same way and CRIMINT rarely predicts which dairy/bank/service station is going to get knocked over next but is able to quickly narrow down the likely candidates…

A bigger concern than FISA might be the continuance of the post-Cold War trend for private industry to be leaps and bounds ahead of public technology and to be now quite happily exploiting this data for its own commercial ends. In other words, repealing FISA and like legislation is much like opting to fly everywhere to counter an IED threat – all you are really doing is ceding a whole chunk of your operating environment to someone else. Just because contemporary adversaries don’t want to play by the rules we like, doesn’t mean that they are not going to invite us to their next conflict: the information environment is now as much an operating environment as air, land, sea or space – the key difference is that it is the one environment where we are being walked all over.

So, anyway, take the time if you have an intel bent to have a look at Deep Dive…interested in your thoughts…

Weekly Photo Challenge: Merge


Merge had me stumped for weeks – all I could think of was traffic lanes merging and my particular hate for the nanny-state merge lights on motorway on-ramps – are people really too dumb to figure it out for themselves? – but this challenge came through only a couple of days AFTER I got home from a recent work visit to Auckland where such silliness abounds…

Then…when we were exploring our property with the dogs over the weekend – been here eight years and still not even close to exploring it all – we stumbled a native tree (a couple of metres thick) that had collapsed over a small stream, creating this massive bridge a dozen or so feet above the trickle of water. We were amazed at how well it merged into the surrounding bush until we were right on top of it – didn’t have a camera with us, then it started to rain…

Finally I came back to this image, my first instinct, the Shuttle Enterprise where science fiction met science fact – only nine years after NCC-1701 first flashed across grainy black and white TV screens we were naming our first true spaceship after her…

Footnote: I first heard of the Star Trek: New Voyages project in early 2007. Carmen and I had stopped at Bosco’s Cafe in Te Kuiti (northern end opposite the Teak shop and before the Shell station and New World heading north) after another weekend working on Hell’s Holiday Home at Te Waitere on the West Coast, on the southern edge of Kawhia Harbour. The December 2006 issue of Wired carried an article on a group of Trek fans who had accumulated a few props and started to film their own Original Series episodes (kicking off their own Season 4) in a  barn. Bit by bit, they garnered more support and more cash including a bunch of unofficial support and assistance from Paramount Pictures. Working in the US later in 2007, I managed to download the two or three episode then available (couldn’t download at home – over the dial-up connection we had then, I’d still be waiting on it now) but never quite got round to getting them onto DVD and watching them.

It was only when reading a thread on developing Star Trek paper models that I stumbled across the link again and downloaded the seven available episodes – I think that the production team is aiming on one a year which is pretty good for a backyard effort – and worked out how to use MS Movie Maker to stitch the 4-5 files for each episode together and then convert this WMV file to an MK4 for the WD TV player in the lounge using Handbrake.

So last night – finally – I got to dim the lights and watch the first couple of episodes: Kirk is still going through his B-grade scifi stage so he sat up the front by the TV and watched as well. In Harm’s Way, episode 2, was, we thought, pretty damn good and at least to the standard of the original series. I understand that production and acting values get better as the series progresses so we’re off to check out another couple of episodes now…

The New War #5 the new intelligences

…the game of chess, even three-dimensional chess, is simplicity itself compared to a political game using pieces that can change their minds independently of other pieces…” ~ Mr Spock, Garth of Izar, Pocket Books, 2003.

It being the twins’ birthday the weekend just gone, I was offline most of the weekend and it was only last night that I  saw a Stuff report of the contact involving Kiwi personnel in Afghanistan on Saturday “…a group using small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades attacked a combined New Zealand and US patrol from the New Zealand provincial reconstruction team in the northeast of Bamyan province…the patrol returned fire, driving the insurgents off after a 15-20 minute engagement…” There not much information in the Stuff article but with the recent changeover of Operation CRIB The NZ PRT) contingents this might be simple cases of some of the local likely lads testing the mettle of the newest kids on the block – although ‘newest’ may be a bit of the stretch as some of these troops will be on their third or maybe even fourth deployment in this theatre…in chatting with a colleague yesterday, the conversation turned to ‘what is an insurgent?‘ and ‘who says so?‘. Obviously there is a lot of information on this contact that has not been released into the public domain but one wonders what confirmation there has been that the instigators of this attack were actually insurgents i.e. activists seeking to render political change through acts of violence, or something else, perhaps even a couple of lads out to impress some local lasses with their courage and prowess, or some bored locals seeking tp spice up a small ISAF patrol because they could, or maybe it was just an attempt at ‘accidental insurgency’ to meet local quotas for attacks on the ‘infidel invaders’

As it appears in the Collateral Murder story released by Wikileaks last week, if you go out in the badlands looking for insurgents, then ‘insurgents’ are what you find, often with significant second order effects at both strategic and tactical levels. In all fairness, those who engaged the combined NZ/US patrol on Saturday may very well have been insurgents of some sort, possibly even more focussed than accidental…but as attacks go in this theatre, it was in “…good country for ambushes…, “‘…driven off...” in “…15-10 minutes…” and was all over before air support arrived on the scene. In places like Afghanistan, carrying an AK or an RPG does not necessarily an insurgent make, not does arcing up in the general direction of an ISAF patrol. So if the shooters have been confirmed as insurgents, which would be a an outstanding intel flash to bang noting the time between the attack and the NZDF media release, well and good…if not yet proven, then perhaps some less martial language would be more appropriate.

As David Kilcullen proposes in The Accidental Guerrilla and further discussed in The New War #4 – Normalcy, the development of an insurgent is often as a direct reaction to actions of host nation or foreign interventions…the more we strive to understand not just the process of ‘accidentalisation’ but the local nuances and catalysts that often make incidents of  ‘accidentalism’ so distinct and different between different areas and groups.

I was interested to read in Wired that the UK is deploying its Defence Cultural Specialist Unit (DCSU) to Helmand Province. While this only be seen as a classic example of learning from the experiences of others, specifically the US Army’s Human Terrain Systems teams that have been operating for some years now. I was intrigued by the last paragraph in the Wired article “…the US Human Terrain System has seen its fair share of controversy. It will be worth watching this initiative as well to see if it provokes backlash among British social scientists…” I did some research into the HTS teams after mention of them appeared one of the Interbella briefs. From what I saw then, I rated the HTS as a damn fine idea that’s time had definitely come; more so when it appeared to be a logical consequence of Michael Scheiern’s platform-based to individual-based transition model.

So, I was quite surprised to find the degree of active resistance within the anthropological community, or certainly a very vocal element within it, to the employment of HTS teams in operational theatres like Iraq and Afghanistan. I’ve yet to find a copy of Roberto Gonzalez’ Human Science and Human Terrain in which he strongly criticises the US Army’s adoption of anthropological techniques to aid in the understanding and interpreting of contemporary operating environments. In all the reviews and articles I have read in the last day or so that support Gonzalez, I can find few threads of logic; instead I get a very real feeling of rampant prima-donnaism amongst what is really quite a small and relatively insignificant strand in the broader carpet of science. Indicative of this content are Fighting militarization of anthropology, The Leaky Ship of Human Terrain Systems, and The Dangerous Militarisation of Anthropology.

Another finding of the COIN review was that intelligence in the complex environment will need to transformed to closer resemble police-style criminal intelligence (CRIMINT) focussed on a. individuals and b. providing fast ad accurate response to an initiated action. This would require a clear shift, transformation even, from traditional military intelligence focussed on conventional platforms and groupings, and driven largely by predictive philosophies.

Tied into the finding on the need to transform towards individually-focussed CRIMINT, was all need to better integrate operational analysis (OA) techniques into contemporary intelligence systems to enhance and evolve pattern analysis processes to better grapple with the greater amount of information in far greater detail than conventional intelligence systems were ever designed to manage. Unfortunately this finding seemed to die a death when the term ANALINT developed a perverse life all its own, alienating a proportion of the OA community.

If we accept that finding, and – eight years into the war on terror – there seems no reason why the finding does not still stand true, then we also accept that sciences like anthropology offer us very useful tools to assist in coming to grips with the uncertainty and complexity of the contemporary environment. Science and warfare have always gone together in an alliance that is both logical and inevitable. Even the moral objections of some of the Manhattan Project scientists are somewhat strained when these same scientists were remarkably silent on such topics as the firebombing of German and Japanese cities, causing far more civilians deaths than the atomic bombs ever did. The ‘do no harm‘ stance of Gonzalez and his fellow bleating liberal anthropologist cronies is sickening in both its naiveté and its preciousness. If this group really cared about those most likely to be harmed through misuse of social sciences, then surely they would be embracing the HTS concept as a practical and employable means of promoting greater precisions of both information and effects in current theatres of operation?

In the last two decades, we have probably spent too long declaring war (lower case) on every real or imagined threat to western society that we have become somewhat blase and have forgotten what actual War really is. While the generation that sacrificed 5000 of its members in Afghanistan and Iraq may lead the way in remembering what War really is, it’;s influence has yet to be felt…War is not nice, War is not safe…War is not a game…War is not something where we can artificially pick and choose based on what is convenient or suits at the time…

To artificially deny the utility of science like anthropology in winning the Wars we are currently in, to discard tools that save lives on BOTH sides, to dignify self-centred egotists like Gonzales is an insult to every one of those 5000…

http://www.stuff.co.nz/world/middle-east/3555243/US-military-can-t-find-its-copy-of-Iraq-killing-video

Taking a break

Today anyway and only from the generations of war thing – not because I have lost interest at all but because I am doing the accounts this week and it’s not much fun and any distractions are welcomed but dangerous.

John Birmingham has two blogs at the Brisbane Times and The Geek is by far the most fun. His recent item on Dr Who is worthy of posting in it’s entirety:

Who’s the master of cool sci-fi (not a question)
November 13, 2009

Have you ever noticed that when a bunch of geeks gather around the campfire to nut out once and for all the important question of what was the coolest science fiction TV series ever, that the actual coolest science fiction TV series ever almost never gets a look in. Why is there no lovin’ for Dr. Who?

Stargate SG1 is always pushing to the front of the line blowing everybody out of the way, goosing Star Trek, snorting in derision at the original BSG and Space 1999 (with good reason, admittedly). But where does it get off calling itself the longest-running sci-fi series on TV. That would be the Doctor you’re gazzumping there Jack. He first appeared on our screens back in 1963… and he’s still here. Not just in syndication and repeats either.

Sure the effects were crap in the early days. Okay, they were crap right up until cheap CGI and more generous production budgets meant the most recent series didn’t have to build their aliens out of old garbage bins and lengths of rubber hose. But go back and look at some of those original Star Trek episodes and hang your head in shame American sci-fi TV producers. I mean, tribbles, come on, really?

So great is the show’s longevity of course that eleven actors have cycled through the lead role, and God knows how many supporting cast have been there with the Doc, twisting their ankles, getting captured, occasionally getting killed, and generally raising the question of why he bothers with traveling companions anyway since they just get in the way or cause cliffhangers every 22 minutes. But putting that aside, which other serious, sci-fi or mainstream, can claim to have survived a change in lead actor so regularly, or even once.

Much as I liked Ben Browder’s character on Farscape for instance, he was really just Jack O’Neill lite in the later SG1 series.

And where most TV shows get weaker as they get older, Dr. Who has arguably grown stronger with the years. Partly this is a function of great writers and producers coming to the latest series of in a spirit of paying homage to a much loved show from their childhood, partly it’s to do with increased production values, and partly the Doc has hung around for so long he couldn’t help but benefit from the improved aesthetics of the medium as it matured. Bottom line however, it has improved while other series, particularly some big-budget American shows (yes Lost, I’m looking at you, and your mate Heroes) have all but sputtered out creatively after a couple of good early years.

So let the word go forth from this time and this place that I have settled this debate once and for all. Dr. Who is the coolest TV sci-fi series ever made.

While Stingray is my first memory of ANY TV series, it is also my first memory of a science-fiction show, followed closely by Forbidden Planet: both had me squinting at the screen through my fingers from an early age…three perhaps…? But it was Dr Who that sits still at the top of the heap: I was terrified by the Abominable Snowmen, Cybermen and Daleks (the Big 3 – all the rest, including the over-rated Master are Tier Two scaries) but refused to miss my weekly doses of terror. I still recall almost crapping myself when I was 7 or 8: running around the shadowy passages of Dad’s squash club, I turned a corner and ran smack into an oversized badminton shuttle. Obviously it must have been some sort of promo item but it was as tall as me and it definitely looked like a Dalek. I was adios amigo and refused to go back there for weeks.

I lost interest during the latter part of the Tom Baker years – possibly because the Beeb was starting to chew through the Doctors and some of them were pretty silly; or equally possibly because teenage boys develop other interests. I had a brief resurgence of interest when the US-made movie came out in the 90s (had Eric Roberts in it?) and then that was it until 2005. The new series had come out but I’d dissed it believing that it would just be a shoddy rip-off of the 60s and 70s classics. On my return from CLAW 1 in Salisbury, we were spending the weekend with friends in Rotorua; Dr Who just happened to be on during dinner (Bad Wolf, I think the episode was) and I became interested very quickly.

Although I have lapped up Season 2-4, I have still to see most of Season 1 (too cheap to pay full price and waiting for the box set price to drop). JB is correct: Dr Who IS the most enduring science fiction show around; yes, there are those that are older but NONE that have been develped and evolved so consistently over four decades and into a fifth. Thunderbirds is as enduring but is a year younger and has not evolved from the original series – still a bit hit with young kids today though.

While I was a big fan of all the other Gerry Anderson series, nowadays there have more of a cult fascination appeal (apart from Thunderbirds) than serious interest. UFO was the centre of my known universe when I was 10 and 11 but now it seems vaguely pretentious and overdone -still very cools toys though – and, yes, I too was going to build my own Moonbase (on the Moon, of course) and use my secret organisation defend the world from the Aliens. Still might but if so I really do need to pull my finger out…

If I was to have my Top Five science fiction series they would be:

  • Thunderbirds. Everything EXCEPT Jonathan Frakes’ miserable 2004 movie.
  • Bablylon 5. Up until the end of Series 4 – after the two big storylines were dealt to, Series 5 seemed a bit anticlimatic.
  • Dr Who. Everything from the very first episode to the Series 5 teaser episodes.
  • New Captain Scarlet. Please, please do more with this: the animation is great, and it builds upon the gritty dark side of the original series.
  • Firefly. The whole series + Serenity. A great concept that just didn’t quite get the support it needed although Serenity did really tie-off the original storyline so they would have needed a new one for further series.

I enjoy Star Trek in chunks but actually prefer the books, especially William Shatner’s first trilogy. Voyager and TNG were great once they figured out that violence was OK; Deep Space Nine was like Star Trek does Mallrats and just boring; but I do have a bit of a soft spot for Enterprise possibly because they can not use the transporter or time travel to get themselves out of narly situations. I do have the Star Trek Borg and Animated Series sets though and and do rate them quite highly.

I’m also a big BSG (both series) fan but in terms of a top five, the original is a bit campy now, and the rethink version is just a little too complex and intertwined to be enduring for me.

Farscape, Andromeda, Stargate? Whatever…just light relief.

What’s on at the movies at 38,000 feet?

I did promise some people I would do this so here it is today – I do have some more TFW ideas to punt up but left one of the source docs behind this morning so will aim to do that tomorrow (social schedule allowing!!)…

Singapore Airlines do everything with class and style and their entertainment capability is no different…in two legs I was able to catch up on six movies that have yet to screen in National Park (yeah, really…) as well as have dinner and have a damn fine snooze as well…

star rek 2009

First up from the selection of 60-70 movies was Star Trek which I enjoyed immensely but was somewhat annoyed at the seemingly pointless and unnecessary departures from established Star Trek canon (no pointy ears here but I do like consistency in a universe). I hope that a further release in this series will somehow re-establish the accepted timeline (noting that James Tiberius and Spock didn’t actually experience distortions in the space-time continuum til The Original Series. If William Shatner (writing almost autobiographically) can skillfully blend TOS, TNG and the movies (even the real bad ones from later in the series) together in a consistent manner, I saw no reason why this film could not also conform without deviating much at all from the actual story line. It was like it was trying to shock the audience and I for one wasn’t shocked just pissed off…

angels abnds demonsAngels and Demons on the other hand was great: not great drama or earth-shattering story but just a good story well-told with no aspirations to be anything else. It is not time-tied to The Da Vinci Code so it doesn’t matter which one you watch first – some nice twisty bits near the end just in case you think you’ve worked it all out ahead of time…

night museum 2Night at the Museum II: The Smithsonian – more of the same, light entertainment only…

terminator slavationTerminator Salvation – the storyline is finally back of track after the crap Terminator 3 albeit with yet another John Connor – good connections back to the first two movies but nothing really earth-breaking in terms of the story – at the end it felt like a long TV episode than the revelatory feel of 1 and 2

xmen wolverineX-Men Wolverine…great stuff, even as a prequel, it isn’t cute and doesn’t dick around with the accepted storyline…

battle for terraThe Battle for Terra – a real disappointment that I only watched because it distracted me from the potential effects of a dodgy curry at Changi just before we boarded – an animated movie will a weak story line clearly churned out now in order to be on DVD as a stocking stuffer by Christmas – don’t buy it, get another copy of  Toy Story or Monsters Inc instead – the kids will love you more for it…

Beautiful summer’s day in Shrivenham and the CLAW is in full swing now….