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The Da Vinci Code movie

If the book was “450 pages of irritatingly gripping tosh”, then the movie accurately reflects the book – except the movie isn’t gripping.

The movie has been getting terrible reviews, and I so wanted to be positive, but it’s difficult. But then, to serve its purpose, the movie had to be bad. It was a chance for pop-lit readers to emulate more widely read individuals by coming out of the film complaining that “it wasn’t as good as the book”, and give them another chance to slip into conversation that they read, ergo they must be intelligent. Some even go to the trouble of slipping in how “Angels and Daemons is a much better book”, as if to emphasise how well-read they are, when in fact they’ve merely read a second novel by the same author following the same formula. And then, at the same time, it gets people like me going to see it, to see just how bad it really is.

I don’t intend to be all snooty here, but it’s hard to be nice about a terrible book being made into a terrible film. Much like the book, the film really has no point to it. There’s a whole world of the morality of faith to be explored, which is just ignored in favour of pseudoscience and revival of popular myth. It was the ultimate formulaic Hollywood blockbuster, just at the book was the ultimate formulaic best-seller.

In truth, the film isn’t all that bad. As with the book, it acheives everything it sets out to do and more. It’s just a shame that its objective appears to be to appeal to the lowest common denominator, and not to explore the real issues. But, heck – since everyone’s talking about it, it’s probably worth seeing anyway.

[flashvideo ratio=”16:9″ filename=”http://sjhoward.co.uk/video/davincitrailer.flv” /]

This 879th post was filed under: Reviews, Video.

Viral time…

One for my readers here in England:

Due to the nature of the quality of driving in England the Department of Transport has now devised a new scheme in order to identify poor drivers and give good drivers the opportunity to recognise them whilst driving. For this reason as from the middle of May 2006 those drivers who are found to be driving badly which includes:

– overtaking in dangerous places;
– hovering within one inch of the car in front;
– stopping sharply;
– speeding in residential areas;
– pulling out without indication;
– performing U turns inappropriately in busy high streets;
– under taking on motorways and
– taking up more than one lane in multi lane roads,

These drivers will be issued with flags, white with a red cross, signifying their inability to drive properly. These flags must be clipped to a door of the car and be visible to all other drivers and pedestrians. Those drivers who have shown particularly poor driving skills will have to display a flag on each side of the car to indicate their greater lack of skill and general lower intelligence mindset to the general public. Please circulate this to as many other motorists as you can so that drivers and pedestrians will be aware of the meaning of these flags.

Department of Transport

This 878th post was filed under: News and Comment.

Amnesty and Observer join forces over internet censorship

Irrepressible CampaignToday marks the launch of a new joint campaign between The Observer and Amnesty International over the contentious issue of internet censorship. They are calling on internet companies to stop colluding with repressive governments by denying citizens access to certain websites. Of course, the most publicised occurrence of this is Google’s decision to censor its search results in China, but Amnesty reports similar activities in Vietnam, Tunisia, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria.

The campaign is, doubtless, a little misguided. After all, all Google actually did was remove inaccessible search results from it’s Chinese search engine. In the old version, people could see the results, but not access them thanks to censorship from the Chinese government. It’s arguable that removing such sites from the index prevents the Chinese people from being aware that such documents exist, whether or not they are able to access them, but it also makes the search engine much more usable on a day-to-day basis.

It’s also slightly unfortunate that, in fact, most people support internet censorship to some degree. Most people would support the closing of child pornography websites, for example. Why? Because they are seen as offensive, damaging, exploitative, and culturally unacceptable. Surely similar arguments could be constructed for other forms of censorship. Amnesty argues that Human Rights Standards form the basis for acceptable censorship, but Human Rights legislation is largely based on Western ideology, and it is questionable as to whether it can truly be applied in non-Western cultures.

However, despite its flaws, the central message of the campaign is a worthy and positive one, and one which I have supported in the past through posts like this one. It is, therefore, a campaign which this site will be supporting – albeit in a somewhat symbolic way – by carring quotes from otherwised censored material in the sidebar, in order to raise awareness of the issue.

If you would like to find out more about the campaign, it’s website is here, and the launch articles from today’s Observer are here.

Forty-five years ago, an article in the Observer led to the launch of Amnesty International itself. Where will this campaign lead?

This 877th post was filed under: News and Comment.

Labour lies about pension reforms

John Hutton MPOn the Today programme this morning, some Labour official or other insisted that the pension reforms they’d come up with were designed to be ‘non-partisan’ and they hoped to reach a ‘cross-party consensus’, not play party-political games. The claim was repeated on The World at One, and quite possibly on many other news broadcasts throughout the course of the day. Of course, making such claims simply sets up clear criticism of any party who dares to point out flaws in the White Paper, so really it’s a good strategy. If only they stuck to it.

Unforunately, they didn’t. Tonight, I received an email from the Labour Party (much like those I’ve received in the past):

The proposals we are publishing today represent the greatest renewal of our pensions system since the post-war reforms implemented by Clement Attlee’s government… Since 1997, we have made real progress in tackling the appalling legacy of pensioner poverty we inherited from the Tories, so far helping a million pensioners out of poverty.

Non-partisan? I think not. Why is it that even when they think they’re doing the right thing, the Labour spin machine just can’t help pumping out lies? And how can they say they’ve had ‘real progress on pensioner poverty’ when Council Tax has soared, and OAPs imprisoned for failing to pay? I just don’t get it.

Mr Hutton’s changes mean that I will be working until I’m 68. That’s fine, I have nothing against working into old age. I mean, most 68-year-olds can’t set a video recorder, and I’ll no doubt have a similar incompetence when it comes to the medical breakthroughs and technologies of the 2050s, but I’m sure that won’t be a problem. And when I’m taking your blood or excising some growth, I’m sure you won’t be too worried about my small tremour. And at the end of a twelve-hour shift, I’m sure you’ll forgive my aging brain for prescribing a drug that just happens to react with something else someone else gave you.

Of course, working to 68 will allow me to earn the money to cover the student debts that Labour have given me – otherwise my net income over my working career would be reduced.

Not that much of it matters anyway: Predictions are that there will be 3,000 junior doctors unable to find suitable training posts by the time I qualify. If I never get a job, I’ll never have to retire. Now there’s a cheery thought 😉

This 876th post was filed under: News and Comment, Politics.


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