Friday, 30 January 2015

Cute Cat Friday 2015-01-30: Dexter

Carrying on the family tradition of supporting the Edmonton Oilers.

I don't think he is pleased with their progress. I'm certainly not; the Oilers' record this season is terrible, second last in the league so I can't even say they have nowhere to go but up. Oh well, there's always next year and next decade.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

I Am A Migrant

The I Am A Migrant project opposes the mendacity, scaremongering and outright bigotry which surround the immigration debate in the UK. In its own words:

The aim ... is to provide some much needed balance to current debates concerning immigration to Britain and EU membership, as well as wider issues relating to migration more broadly outside of the EU context. Motivation to launch the project stems from a deep concern over the future of the UK, specifically the kind of society it will be.

I wholeheartedly support this goal, and I Am A Migrant has kindly republished my recent piece "Waste of Space: An Open Letter to Nigel Farage".

I Am A Migrant is open to contributions; both general articles such as mine, and more personal stories. These may be from migrants like myself, saying how we came to the UK and why we choose to make it our home; but contributions from those born in the UK are welcome as well. If you are concerned about the immigration debate in the UK, I encourage you to visit this site, and consider sharing your story.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

So What If It Is An Insult?

The staff of Charlie Hebdo showed courage and integrity, by continuing to publish after their colleagues were murdered last week; as did many ordinary people in France and elsewhere, who came out to march in solidarity with the victims.

Otherwise, the reaction has been as depressing as it was predictable.

(Charlie Hebdo cartoon of Muhammad is below the fold.)

Friday, 16 January 2015

Thursday, 15 January 2015

The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies: Review

Bilbo: "Is it over yet?"
Source: IMDB

I'm coming in a bit late on this one, but here are my thoughts on The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

One moment in this film beautifully sums up the whole: Dain, chieftain of the dwarves of the Iron Hills, sees yet another bizarre computer-generated monster appear on the horizon, and responds with an incredulous, "Oh, COME ON!"

I rather enjoyed the first two instalments in the Hobbit trilogy. The Lord of the Rings films were a towering achievement of cinema; the prequels are not in the same league, but pretty good fun on a winter evening. I am a huge fan of Tolkien's books, but I'm not a purist. I was happy to accept the Hobbit films as a new story, based on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings (with its Appendices), but told by Peter Jackson as much as by JRR Tolkien. I am sad to report that Jackson has seriously dropped the ball in this episode.

(Mild spoilers below the fold, for anyone who has not read the book.)

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Theology, Market Share and Charlie Hebdo

Today, the offices of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo were attacked by masked gunmen, apparently Islamist radicals. The attackers have murdered at least twelve people. My thoughts and best wishes are with the families, friends, and colleagues of the victims. This was a shameful, cowardly crime, and I hope the perpetrators are swiftly hunted down and brought to justice.

This was not only an attack on one magazine, but an attack on us all, on our freedom of speech and opinion. I value my freedom of expression on this blog and elsewhere, and I stand in solidarity with the staff of Charlie Hebdo.

I have been wondering about the mindset which drives a person to commit this sort of crime. It appears likely the attackers consider themselves to be devout Muslims.

Monday, 5 January 2015

Cinema Year in Review: 2014

In 2014 I saw 33 films in 7 different cinemas, not bad but a little below my previous record of 56 in 2009. Not being a professional film critic, I missed out on a few films which looked interesting, and a lot more which looked like utter dreck. Here is a personal review of what I saw at the cinema in 2014.

The marvellous Arts Picturehouse in Cambridge, venue for 18 of my 33 films in 2014.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Cute Cat Friday 2015-01-02: Belle and Dexter

Happy New Year, and welcome to 2015!

We have a new baby in the house, so the cats are the only ones getting a normal amount of sleep. It takes more than a small screaming human to put them off their usual quota of naps.

Thursday, 1 January 2015


My son Zachary was born at 10.14 pm on 24 December. He is our first child, mother and baby are now at home and doing well. The last week has been exhausting and joyful beyond all description, which everyone tells me is the nature of parenting in general.

I will try to keep to my usual schedule of one substantial post per week, but we shall have to see how this fits in with the responsibilities of fatherhood. Cute Cat Friday should continue unhindered. (Incidentally, the cats are curious about this new small human but on the whole seem to be taking the changes in stride.)

To all my readers old and new: Thanks for visiting, and Happy New Year!