House of Cards Season 5
Chapter 53 (Series 5 Episode 1)
Chaos erupts when Frank steals the floor of the House and demands that Congress formally declare war on ICO. When the Speaker insists that Frank yield the floor, he insists that he “will not yield.” Later, Frank and Claire attend Jim Miller’s funeral, which is also attended by Will Conway and his wife. During the service, Jim’s daughter Melissa blames Frank for the death of her father, before whispering something in his ear. Claire appears on Charlie Rose to debate Hammerschmidt, who claims that Frank’s war on ICO is a diversion. Meanwhile, Conway goes into damage control when his wife claims that the mother of Josh Masterson is a victim, too. Claire speaks with Ms. Masterson and asks that she tell her son to surrender. The manhunt for Masterson heats up as the FBI closes in on a location on the Virginia border. However, Frank has been holding Masterson captive in an unknown location and has him summarily executed, informing the press that he “wishes” Masterson had been taken alive. Frank calls to speak with the Millers, but Jim’s widow hangs up on him. Afterwards, Frank and Claire greet people outside the White House, telling them they have nothing to be afraid of.
The Thick of it #6
Hugh attempts to toe the party line on special schools whilst staying true to his conscience. He also accidentally sends an eight-year-old girl an expletive-laden email, intended for Glenn, and Terri faces the blame.
Malcolm: Oh, I’m really sorry, you won’t hear anymore swearing from us, YOU MASSIVE, GAY SHITE! FUCK OFF!
Hugh: I categorically, did not knowingly not tell the truth. Even though unknowingly, I might not have done.
Ollie: I had a girlfriend with special needs once, actually. (smiles smugly) Luckily, I was able to fulfill them.
The Thick of It #5
There’s a cabinet reshuffle in the offing and the PM’s new ‘blue skies’ advisor Julius is making trouble. Robyn Murdoch struggles to cover Terri’s duties, and is removed from Malcolm’s morning meetings.
Si Vis Pacem, Para Bellum
The title is Latin for “If you want peace, prepare for war”. It is adapted from a statement found in Book 3 of Latin author Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus’s tract De Re Militari (4th or 5th century), although the idea which it conveys also appears in earlier works such as Plato’s Nomoi (Laws).
Perhaps the title should have been ‘Star Trek goes to Planet Avatar”. It’s got everything you need; blue leaves, strange sparky things and a tree of life (er communication?).
This is written by Kirsten Beyer, authors of at least six Star Trek novels, none I have read.
It isn’t the best episode so far. Little tension, adventure or action. It just plods along to the end. It could be the fault of ex-stuntman director David Barrett. Or the story that isn’t very engaging.
And at the end, it’s not clear if Admiral Katrina Cornwell is dead.
(Robert Langdon #5)
by Dan Brown (2017)
Robert Langdon, Harvard professor of symbology and religious iconology, arrives at the ultramodern Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao to attend a major announcement—the unveiling of a discovery that “will change the face of science forever.” The evening’s host is Edmond Kirsch, a billionaire who is about to reveal an astonishing breakthrough . . . one that will answer two of the fundamental questions of human existence…….
This book is further proof that Brown is good at just one thing……. pacing. The plot is preposterous, the people have the depth of Looney Tunes characters and the ideas just SciFi re-hashes.
The presumption is that Kirsch has uncovered the origin of life and determined where we are all heading. Anyone with a minimal knowledge of evolutionary biology will see all the explanations coming. In fact the author seems to assume the readers knows next to nothing of the sciences. Despite this, it’s an enjoyable read as it is more of a travelogue of Spain and it’s buildings. The places described are real and I enjoyed looking them up as they were mentioned.
You do have to go along with Brown’s assertions that the Evolution vs Creation debate will make people do bad things. But people just aren’t invested in this as the writer assumes (most couldn’t care).
Then at the end there is an appalling tacked-on twist that just feels really cheap and nasty.
Venus in Furs
by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (1870)
Larry Wolff (Introduction)
Joachim Neugroschel (Translation)
‘Venus in Furs’ describes the obsessions of Severin von Kusiemski, a European nobleman who desires to be enslaved to a woman. Severin finds his ideal of voluptuous cruelty in the merciless Wanda von Dunajew. This is a passionate and powerful portrayal of one man’s struggle to enlighten and instruct himself and others in the realm of desire.
The novel gained notoriety and a degree of immortality for its author when the word “masochism” – derived from his name – entered the vocabulary of psychiatry.
Velvet Underground Song
by Poul Anderson (1970)
During an epic voyage to a planet 30 light years away, the engines of the starship the ‘Leonora Christine’ are damaged. Unable to slow down, it attains light speed (the tau zero of the title). The disparity between time for those on board and external time becomes impossibly great. Eons and galaxies hurtle by, as the crew speed helplessly into the great unknown.
This is considered a classic of ‘Hard Sci-Fi”. However it’s not Anderson’s best work. A lot of his short stories are entertaining and fun. The essential problem I have with the story is that all the protagonists do nothing.
They are put in an impossible situation by the failure of the ships drive. Hurtling towards the speed of light, there is little plot development of how to overcome their problem. Instead we have melodrama among the crew. In the end the death of the universe drives the plot and nothing else matters.
The ending is ridiculous, however this was written in 1970 so maybe it was before our knowledge of an endlessly expanding universe.
The Star Plunderer is a better read.
The Thick of It
At a ministerial visit to a factory, Hugh is accosted by a member of the public. With Terri away on compassionate leave, only Malcolm can help bury the story, but will he? Meanwhile, Ollie is dating an opposition advisor and hastily seconded to Downing Street to “ring his girlfriend”.
The Thick of it 1.3
Malcolm thinks Hugh’s empty flat in London could pose a problem for the successful Second Home Housing Bill. Meanwhile, Hugh develops a dislike for his media-savvy junior minister Dan Miller and Malcolm explains the art of a “good resignation”.
Magic to Make the Sanest Man Go Mad
Harry Mudd is back. And he has created a 30 minute time loop so he can learn all about the Discovery and gain control then sell it to the Klingons.
This is deja’vu all over again. It’s an old SciFi trope that has been done enough times. You can guess what will happen, and it does. This episode does nothing to move the overall plot forward. The only change is the relationship between Burnham and Tyler.
The best part was Rainn Wilson playing Mudd. He was having more fun than anyone else (including the audience)