Season Final! The Book Club Roundtable Discussion Club Non-Audio Podcast Club

atomicavatar[FIRST WITCH] When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

strawpupavatar[SECOND WITCH] When the hurly-burly’s done, When the podcast’s lost and won.

timavatar[THIRD WITCH] That will be ere the set of sun.

atomicavatar[FIRST WITCH] Where the place?

strawpupavatar[SECOND WITCH] Upon this blog.

timavatar[THIRD WITCH] There to meet with Camestros.

atomicavatar[FIRST WITCH] I come, Graymalkin.

atomicavatarstrawpupavatartimavatar[ALL] Fair is foul, and foul is fair, Hover through the fog and filthy air.


camavatar[Camestros] OK people! Today we FINISH this. Susan – ready?

susanavatar[Susan] Ready!

camavatar[Camestros] Timothy – ready?

timavatar[Timothy] Locked and loaded.

camavatar[Camestros] OK viewers,

susanavatar[Susan] listeners

camavatar[Timothy] readers

strawpupavatar[Straw Puppy] Woof

atomicavatar[Mr Atomic] …cleaning…

camavatar[Camestros] welcome to the final episode of this season of the Book Club Roundtable Review Club Non-Audio Podcast Club!

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Flu Season is Bad in Australia This Year

I can’t recall knowing quite so many people personally all with confirmed cases of influenza as I do right now. Relatives, colleagues, lots of people sick with fevers and sometimes gastric problems.

Flu cases started lower than average but have really spiked since mid July. I don’t know nationally want strains are causing it but people I know seem to be all suffering from Influenza B – which is less scary than the pandemic causing type A’s because only humans and seals catch type B.

Anyway…special warning to human (and seal) readers in the Northern Hemisphere: get vaccinated each flu season! The flu might still get you but even if it does:

  • Usually shorter
  • Symptoms are less severe
  • Less chance of complications 

You’re turn next. (Unless this is the flu you all had last winter) Stay away from seals?

Review: Killjoys (Syfy, Netflix)

Canadian television – apologies to Canada but while there must be Canadian TV shows I can’t think of any. The shadow of the TV behemoth south of the Canadian border looms large. So a Canadian answer to Firefly doesn’t immediately sound likely. [eta: apologies to Canada, I’d forgotten about Orphan Black among others]

I watched a couple of episodes of Season 1 initially, just because it appeared on the list of things people were nominating for a Dragon Award (it didn’t get onto the final ballot) but not long after it also got a positive write up in the Guardian.

Those first episodes were not great though and I pretty much decided not to bother watching the rest of the series. Then, once again bored on a train too noisy to read comfortably and having exhausted all available episodes of Rick and Morty, I watched some more and…it got better.

The initial premise of the show was this. On a planetary system with a bunch of human colonised moons (known as the Quad), a kind of freelance, bounty-hunting, law enforcement agency called the RAC catches (or sometimes kills) wanted criminals. The bounty hunters are known as Killjoys because “joys” are the local currency and they (occasionally) kill people. At the start of the season, the two main characters are a two person team Dutch (an ex-assassin) and Johnny Jaqobi (a less amoral and more geeky pilot) as well as their (stolen) spaceship/AI Lucy. The initial episodes involved the arrival of Johnny’s brother Da’vin into the system, an ex-soldier with psychological trauma.

While not terrible, it also wasn’t great. The three main actors were good, in particular, Hannah John-Kamen as Dutch managed to stop her role as sexy-badass-assassin from being actively bad and say corny lines with conviction. The stories themselves were a bit dull (mainly catch the baddy of the week) and while the premise of the show was original it all somehow felt terribly derivative. The Firefly DNA was obvious but also a heap of tropes from everywhere and everything just piled up together in the apparent hope that something would stick. Dutch’s backstory as a child raised to be a deadly killer who got away from that life etc smacked of a show that wanted depth just by throwing tragedy at its characters.

Episode 5, the midway point of Series 1, managed the first story that had some real strength. The crew find a derelict space ship, climb aboard to get the salvage and find things that aren’t what they seem. A decent episode with enough twists and nasty premise but also a bit of shift in direction.

From that point on the show spent more time on the bigger story arcs, let the three main characters play off against each other with both more humour and emotions and it got better.

It still tries too hard for ‘cool’ and ‘sexy’ and doesn’t always manage to hit its target of Wheedon-style humour. Given it also wants gritty, violent and central characters with a past of psychological trauma, it also sails into consequences of plots that it doesn’t always handle well (in particular, without giving spoilers, violence between people after a sexual relationship). However, even then it is clearly trying to navigate issues in a way that is positive.

Although it doesn’t have much in common storywise with Torchwood, Killjoys finds itself often in that same tonal-minefield. Violence, sex, psychological abuse, mixed with questions about torture, life-or-death decisions and hitting the not-nice SF tropes around mind control and consent is heavy stuff…and mixing that with quips and comradery doesn’t always work. But like Torchwood, it often finds a route through and a strong cast keeps it going.

Season 2 is much stronger by being more willing to accept that ‘space bounty hunters’ is a pretext for a show rather than a basis for each episode. Conspiracies, ancient warrior monks, super-soldiers, green goo, it piles on the silliness with confidence that a show like this needs over the top story lines and thinks that don’t make sense if you think about them for too long.

Should you watch it? Lots of fight scenes. Fans of classic Doctor Who will enjoy the frequent use of old quarries repurposed as different planets (sorry ‘moons’). The bad guys are an evil corporation and rich people. Lots of shooting. Episodes 1 to 4 of season1 are a bit meh, after that stronger but sometimes more problematic.

Season 3 is apparently airing or will be soon but is not yet on Netflix.

Today’s History Lesson: Nope, pulling statues down is not ‘Stalinist’

In the continuing exercise of those adjacent to the Alt-Right trying to simply not see what the Alt-Right are, may I present Sarah Hoyt, titular leader of Sad Puppies 5 https://accordingtohoyt.com/2017/08/14/fools-to-the-left-of-me-clowns-to-the-right/

There is far too much there that is wrong and wrong-headed and just plain enabling of authoritarianism to document. However, I’ll pick on one snippet:

“This idiotic changing of names, removing of statues and erasing people from history is NOT the work of a free society. It is wholly Stalinist and is letting the rest of the world know you by your fruits as it were. “

stalin_budapest_1956_1

An addiction to shallow thinking leads one into absurdities. In this case Hoyt’s truism implies that opposing Stalinism is Stalinism.

The photo is from this site: http://rarehistoricalphotos.com/stalin-monument-budapest-1956/ and was taken in 1956 during the short lived Hungarian October Revolution.

No, tearing down monuments is not ‘Stalinist’ in itself – that is an absurd claim. What Hoyt is trying to grasp at is Stalin’s frequent attempts to rewrite hsitory. The people campaigning to pull down Confederate monuments do not want to erase the Confederacy *from history* quite the opposite – they want people to remember the US Civil War and who fought in it AND WHY. Precisely because HISTORY matters and understanding the fault lines and ingrained inequalities in the US is impossible without knowing about the history of slavery and racism in America – a history that is particular to America in its details but not unique to America in its impact.

Stealth Kiwis Takeover

Remember that post I did about the comical cascade of accidental dual-citizenry that was ousting Australian politicians from office? Well it has struck again. This time the DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER of Australia, Barnaby Joyce, has been found to be accidentally a citizen of New Zealand. Oooops. http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/barnaby-joyce-citizenship-email-that-could-bring-down-the-deputy-pm-was-sent-on-august-7-at-1231pm-20170814-gxvjlq.html

Now if that name sounds familiar, then you may remember him as the guy who threatened to kill Johnny Depp’s dogs. As a member of the rural National Party, Joyce is a somewhat eccentric figure who trades off a true-Aussie-bloke persona.