Movie: Notes on a Scandal

Had an interesting evening last night. Was feeling a bit down so Amanda decided to cheer me up, after work we went to a Morrocan restaurant in the city center called Zaragoza’s which was actually really really good. We spent a couple of hours there chatting before heading of to the cinema to watch Notes on a Scandal.

Image source Wikipedia

It’s not often a movie creeps me out to the extent that I can’t sleep, but this one sure as hell did. Kind of wish we had just watched Hannibal Rising instead … ok im being unfair the film was excellent Dench gave an amazing performance as Barabara Covett, an unpopular and lonely old history teacher. Blanchett’s performance was also excellent as Sheba Hart, the new arts teacher who embarks on an affair with an underage student.

Without giving two much away the story focuses on the “friendship” between these two characters and at times its actually quite disturbing. Dench is really creepy as her character manipulates Blanchett’s

All in all the the evening was a lot of fun, and I it did cheer me up … so thanks Amanda!

The City In The Sea

Lo ! Death has reared himself a throne
In a strange city lying alone
Far down within the dim West,
Where the good and the bad and the worst and the best
Have gone to their eternal rest.
There shrines and palaces and towers
(Time-eaten towers that tremble not!)
Resemble nothing that is ours.
Around, by lifting winds forgot,
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.
No rays from the holy heaven come down
On the long night-time of that town;
But light from out the lurid sea
Streams up the turrets silently —
Gleams up the pinnacles far and free —
Up domes — up spires — up kingly halls —
Up fanes — up Babylon-like walls —
Up shadowy long-forgotten bowers
Of sculptured ivy and stone flowers —
Up many and many a marvellous shrine
Whose wreathed friezes intertwine
The viol, the violet, and the vine.
Resignedly beneath the sky
The melancholy waters lie.
So blend the turrets and shadows there
That all seem pendulous in air,
While from a proud tower in the town
Death looks gigantically down.
There open fanes and gaping graves
Yawn level with the luminous waves ;
But not the riches there that lie
In each idol's diamond eye —
Not the gaily-jewelled dead
Tempt the waters from their bed ;
For no ripples curl, alas!
Along that wilderness of glass —
No swellings tell that winds may be
Upon some far-off happier sea —
No heavings hint that winds have been
On seas less hideously serene.
But lo, a stir is in the air!
The wave — there is a movement there!
As if the towers had thrown aside,
In slightly sinking, the dull tide —
As if their tops had feebly given
A void within the filmy Heaven.
The waves have now a redder glow —
The hours are breathing faint and low —
And when, amid no earthly moans,
Down, down that town shall settle hence,
Hell, rising from a thousand thrones,
Shall do it reverence.

by Edgar Allan Poe

The brain scan that read people’s intentions

Came across this article on the Guardian online.

A team of world-leading neuroscientists has developed a powerful technique that allows them to look deep inside a person’s brain and read their intentions before they act

When I read the headline the first thought that sprung to mind was 1984 closely followed by Minority Report. It reveals how far neuroscience is progressing but an urgent debate is needed on the ethical issues surrounding such technologies.

The idea of being able to control a computer with your mind, or a wheelchair on the face of it sounds quite appealing and advocates of this technology argue that it could have many such benefits.

Detractors maintain that such technology could be used to create an Orwellian style society. This kind of technology has the potential to change society, and we need to understand and encourage debate around its ethical use:

“Do we want to become a ‘Minority Report’ society where we’re preventing crimes that might not happen? For some of these techniques, it’s just a matter of time. It is just another new technology that society has to come to terms with and use for the good, but we should discuss and debate it now because what we don’t want is for it to leak into use in court willy nilly without people having thought about the consequences” Barbara Sahakian,Professor Neuro-Psychology at Cambridge

“These techniques are emerging and we need an ethical debate about the implications, so that one day we’re not surprised and overwhelmed and caught on the wrong foot by what they can do. These things are going to come to us in the next few years and we should really be prepared,” Professor John Dylan-Haynes

Movie: The Last King of Scotland

Went for a bite to eat with Amanda and Agnes after work last night, we decided to go watch The Last King of Scotland. Forrest Whittaker is exceptional in the lead role as the Ugandan Dictator Idi Amin. James McAvoy is also excellent as Dr James Garrigan, who by chance becomes Amin’s personal physician

Image source Wikipedia

Forrest Whittaker’s performance as Amin is terrifying, I’ve said for a long time that Whittaker is an amazing actor and he proves that in this performance. Towards the end the film becomes quite grisly as you might expect given its setting. Nonetheless it was an excellent film, and well worth watching.

Talis Snowman …

Had to post this up, at lunch time some of us had a bit of a snowball fight whilst others decided to build a snowman, I should also point out that Karen in HR did give us a quick talk about health and safety 😉 … I have to admit I had a lot of fun over lunch, not just because it was hilarious watching Chris try to throw a snowball but seeing everyone turning into big kids was kind of nice …

Oh, I should point out that Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead is purely coincidental …

It’s snowing!

Birmingham was covered in a blanket of snow when I woke up this morning and it looks stunning. I took a couple of snaps on my phone:

my street early this morning

Little pond at the business park

Anyway im looking forward to this lunch time, those of us at work are having a big snowball fight, we dont see much snow anymore so you have to make the most of it!

The cat and the moon

Went for a bite to eat with Amanda after work, town was a bit screwed due to a bomb scare, so we ended up in Weatherspoons. Chatted about a bunch of stuff and she mentioned a poem by Yeats that I hadn’t read called the Cat and the Moon. Here it is:

The cat went here and there
And the moon spun round like a top,
And the nearest kin of the moon,
The creeping cat, looked up.
Black Minnaloushe stared at the moon,
For, wander and wail as he would,
The pure cold light in the sky
Troubled his animal blood.
Minnaloushe runs in the grass
Lifting his delicate feet.
Do you dance, Minnaloushe, do you dance?
When two close kindred meet,
What better than call a dance?
Maybe the moon may learn,
Tired of that courtly fashion
, A new dance turn.
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
From moonlit place to place,
The sacred moon overhead
Has taken a new phase.
Does Minnaloushe know that his pupils
Will pass from change to change,
And that from round to crescent,
From crescent to round they range?
Minnaloushe creeps through the grass
Alone, important and wise,
And lifts to the changing moon
His changing eyes.

By W. B Yeats

UFC 67 – Silva retains title, and Rampage dominates Eastman

Just finished watching the highlights of UFC 67. Some pretty good fights. Quinton “Rampage” Jackson made his debut against Marvin Eastman – the first round lacked any real action as the fighters tentatively circled each other and tried to find their range, which did lead to the crowd booing a lot. Jackson ended the fight pretty quickly in the second round with some pretty accurate punches, knocking out Eastman. I’m not overly impressed with Jackson’s performance, it could just have been nerves given that it was his debut, but I have to say I expected a lot more aggression from him, he was extremely passive for most of the first round until right at the end when he stunned Eastman with a right uppercut followed by a left hook. He made short work of Eastman in the second so maybe im nit-picking :p

The main event between Travis Lutter and Middle Weight Champion Anderson Silva was quite impressive. The fight was overshadowed by Lutter’s failing to make the weight, as a result it went ahead but wasn’t a title fight. At one point I thought Lutter had the fight won when he got the Silva onto the mat twice in quick succession. However Silva fought extremely well from the bottom and survived Lutter’s onslaught. Silva ended the fight in the second round with an attempted triangle choke followed by a succession of lefts and right when Lutter mis-timed a takedown and took a vicious kick to the head.

I’m impressed with Silva he’s an exceptional striker and because of that people often overlook his excellent Jiu-Jitsu skills.