Monday, 24 May 2010

Lost "The End" (warning contains spoilers)

After six seasons Lost finally drew to a close - first on the East Coast in the US and then around the world as simultaneous broadcasts took place... starting with a slightly worrying technical fault!

The most disappointing aspect (apart from all the questions that remained unanswered) was that there was no hard and fast solution to hang your hat on. Rich and I watched the whole six years together, but at the end of the final episode had initially very different ideas of what it was all about.

We're used to the writers playing fast and loose with time on Lost - first there were flashbacks, then flash-forwards and finally the flash-sideways. The first two were great - we learned about the characters and saw what was to come for them... the flash-sideways was slightly harder to fathom. What was the deal with the alternate universe?

Well it seems that it was some sort of muster point for the characters of Lost to rediscover each other after they died - as Christian Sheppard says to Jack (isn't he dead? yes, apparently he is!) "Everyone dies sometime, kiddo. Some of them before you, some of them long after you". This line I take as evidence that this interpretation is the correct one - that and Jack's insistence that "whatever happened, happened".,

It was quite touching as all the characters found each other again - the joy on Hurley's face when he went to fetch Charlie was lovely... as were all the romantic reunions.

So, pretty much everyone got their happy ending. A few burning questions were answered; the mother of Jack's creepy kid was Juliet... Rose, Bernard and Vincent were still alive and well and leaving their peaceful existence in their castaway hut... actually, that's about it.

Many things went unanswered... details about the Dharma Initiative, fertility problems on the island, where the others came from... actually just about every major and minor mystery left unresolved.

I love that everyone  got their happy ending, but I hate that so much was left unresolved. I don't like the whole "open to interpretation" vibe of the finale. I want concrete answers.

One of the alternative interpretations I have come across is that everyone died on the crash of Oceanic 815 - so it doesn't matter that pretty much nothing after makes sense. This is a theory I can't subscribe to. That would be worse than Patrick Duffy appearing in the shower in 'Dallas'. There we only wasted a season... this would be six years!

So - take from it what you will. After six years and 100+ episodes I was massively disappointed. I wanted to know who put the four toed statue there, how the journal from the Black Rock came to get off the island for Widmore to buy at the auction, who was dropping the food parcels on the island... and a whole heap more besides.

All the complaints aside though there were some truly excellent moments and some superb lines:
  • Hurley says about Jacob "He's worse than Yoda"
  • Locke's disappointment when he finds out that Jack is Jacob's successor "You're sort of the obvious choice don't you think?" - thousands of heads nodded in agreement.
So we say goodbye to the island and along with Desmond say "I'll see ya in another life, brother".

Friday, 21 May 2010

Google does Pacman

Google are celebrating the 30th birthday of Pacman... with a playable Google Doodle. Head over to Google's home page and click"insert coin".

Friday, 7 May 2010

Counting the Election

I watched some of the election results coming in last night. I lost enthusiasm in the wee small hours when it became apparent that no overall result was going to be forthcoming before the middle of Friday. How it takes some constituencies so long to count their ballots is anyone's guess.


I spent this afternoon amusing myself by examining the overall results (sources: The Guardian and the BBC). My overall conclusion... reinforcing opinions formed when I studied politics (A-level and first year at University)... British democracy just isn't very democratic.
 
In 208 of 649 seats contested (one seat has been postponed due to the death of a candidate) - that is just over a third of seats - the candidate elected as MP had over half the vote. That means two thirds of our elected representatives were not elected by the majority of people who cast their votes. Let's not even get started on the percentage of registered voters who actually voted.

In terms of seats the undemocratic system is reflected as follows - the Conservatives received 36% of the vote but 47% of the seats; Labour got 28% of the vote but 40% of the seats; even worse the Lib Dems who got 23% of the votes only got 9% of the seats.

Yes - it has always been this way; but that doesn't mean it is the right way. At one time in this country there wasn't universal suffrage... it didn't meant that was the right thing either.

Obviously the way things work at the moment if seats reflected the votes cast no one party would get a majority and government would be next to impossible.
 
The answer is of course some sort of proportional representation. This means that everyone's vote gets counted. Of course you can see above why the major parties in the UK (apart from the Lib Dems) aren't making much effort to introduce it... the current system suits them very well - never mind what the electorate wants.

Thursday, 6 May 2010

Skywatch Friday (27)

Looks like more rain is on the way!


UK decides

Thank goodness that May 6 is here at last... everyone is voting today - some of us twice as Council elections coincide with the General Election.

I did my Civic duty and dragged my poorly legs out of bed and down to the Polling Station... I remember the first time that I was old enough to vote and how exciting I found it. Now, living in the safe seat that I do I have very little hope that my vote really means anything.

I found Facebook's interest in whether or not I'd voted rather intrusive... although at least they didn't ask who I voted for.
It is a rather pointless exercise on their part - all the time there is the ability to just close the box, which is what I did.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Computers *sigh*

One of the main reasons for my visit to my parents at the weekend was to look into my father's report of extreme aberrant behaviour on the part of their laptop.
 
A 'programme' called Windows Defender Pro kept telling them they were infected with viruses. It is a very clever infection as it has been designed to look like Microsoft's Widows Defender. The things that aroused suspicion were the inability to spell the word 'registered' (they missed an e) and the fact that the thing was after money... and the fact that every time a pop-up appeared it was a different list and amount of viruses.
 
It is a very clever virus that blocks anti-virus software, search engines, pretty much anything that might remove it. I ran an anti-virus scan from a memory stick (I had come prepared). It appeared that it was removed - we restarted the machine - and nothing would work apart from IE... and only that if you didn't want to use any search engines; ARGH!
 
My parents took this latest development very well. They'd been talking about a new laptop since Christmas so this was the push needed for them to go and buy one. Off we toddled to the shops... and some time later a new machine was duly selected and purchased. How is this for  logic though; my Mum decided that they had to get Office too, fair enough. Upon purchase of the machine they were offered Norton. I'm a great believer in free AV programmes over annual subscription types and advised them not to waste their money. The sales assistant was horrified (of course), but it works out that to buy Office (which they wanted) and Norton (which they didn't) worked out £20 cheaper (due to stores obsession with selling you this particular brand of AV) than buying Office alone! Perhaps they will sell Norton on eBay?!
 
We then had to set about setting up the new machine... another good reason they did it whilst I was there. Of course the new computer has Windows 7 (I'm a Vista girl) - this will be a learning process for my parents who are coming up from XP.
Generally it appears to works quite like Vista (even if it looks nothing like it!). The new bar at the top (similar to docks you can download for Vista) made me laugh. Anyone familiar with Macs will recognise that!
 
Encouraged by this malfeasance my computer has stepped up its campaign of aberrant behaviour. There is a loose connection somewhere which means that the screen back light doesn't work intermittently. This meant that I was having to have the screen open at increasingly bizarre angles to see anything at all.
 
Last night Rich hit on the excellent idea of attaching an external screen. Odd as it is not a wide screen and inconvenient as I have to tip the laptop screen forward to see the main screen but as I still need to use the keyboard and touch pad... well you get the picture.
 
Right now the screen of the laptop is working again (who knows for how long)... but I may soon have to purchase a new laptop too if this keeps up.
 

Garden wildlife

On Saturday I took a trip down to Kent to visit my parents. The have the most fantastic garden - when they moved into the house it was the equivalent of a plowed field, over the last decade they have landscape and planted and made a beautiful oasis.
One of my favourite things about their garden are the huge patio doors which allow you to sit in the living room and watch the garden wildlife in comfort and in all weathers (yes, it was raining on Saturday too).
The male blackbird who lives in my parent's garden is fantastically territorial. He will chase off all comers, bigger or smaller than him, weather or not he wants to eat. He spent a good deal of time hopping around trying to keep ahead of all the other visitors!
My favourite moment was whilst he was sitting in a tree having a quick preen and wiping his beak on the branch. This was interrupted by his Mrs Blackbird who landed next to him. She let out a volley of chirps at which point Mr Blackbird flew off. Henpecked husbands, even in the avian world!
Rather like our garden my parents also have a selection of wood pigeons, regular pigeons and collared doves. We spent a while watching these two, obviously courting. The female plays hard to get (left) whilst the male (right) struts around putting on a show. They chased each other from tree to tree and eventually landed on the lawn.




I'm not usually fond of mice - especially when they take up residence in my kitchen; however this little field mouse is rather cuter than his house mouse cousins. He takes full advantage of the messy eaters on the table, tray and feeders above. He appears to live somewhere in the far corner of the patio, after stopping and eating a bit he collects another piece and runs off with it, perhaps taking it home to a family of mice?

The only thing my parents garden lacks is pond life; their recently refurbished pond has yet to be inhabited. Maybe next year?

Bank Holiday weather

In the UK pubic holidays cluster together. There are three around Christmas - Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day; there ar two at Easter - Good Friday and Easter Monday; there are two in May - May Day (first Monday) and late Spring (last Monday) and there is one on its own in August (late Summer, last Monday). All of these apart from the last are at a time of year where good weather is at best a fifty-fifty shot and at worst very unlikely. This gives rise to the unwritten rule that Bank Holiday weather won't be up to much.
 
This Bank Holiday is proving the rule. Heavy rain showers have been the order of the day, and in addition to that it is pretty cold outside!