Close but no Cigar

“And that’s what he’s been like for forty-five years.  Fantastic!  Speeches that go on for four, five, six, seven hours...  I wonder if when he gets to 90 he’ll stop and say ‘But that’s enough about me… let’s talk about you’.” - Mark Steel, 2001


So, as you might have heard, Fidel Castro died.  Aged 90.  Ruler of Cuba since the revolution of 1959, which he led, and which unseated Batista.  Something something survived x many US Presidents something something Che Guevara something something Bay of Pigs something something...

...aaaaaand at this point we would normally go into a recitation of certain obvious points.  Different points depending on the political orientation of the writer, his publication, etc.

For the Right, we would recapitulate that Castro was a dictator, that there is little democracy in Cuba, that it’s a one-party system, that post-revolution Cuba has a dismal human rights record, that dissidents are persecuted, that political prisoners are often ill-treated, that the regime cruelly persecuted LGBT people, etc.

Unusually for the Right, this is all true. They generally don’t have to lie about Cuba.  They would if they had to, but they generally don’t need to.  Not about the basics ...

Myriad Universes: Hearts and Minds Part 3: Into The Abyss

Rom finds an obviously distressed Quark in his quarters, who inquires if his brother has consulted Odo. Though he doesn't understand what's going on, Rom answers in the affirmative, and that Odo told him to have Quark meet him at Docking Pylon C. As Quark leaves, he tells Rom to tell anyone who asks about him that he's “gone on vacation”. At the aforementioned rendezvous point, Quark fills Odo in on the situation involving Maura, namely how she threatened to kill him if he didn't sell her the bar. Odo agrees to check it out, but advises the Ferengi to do something he didn't entirely want: Sell Maura Quark's Bar.

In the Siskos' quarters, Jake arises early and tells his father he's worried because everyone around him is convinced the Klingons and the Cardassians will go to war. Ben says “When people believe that strongly in a thing, it makes it that much more likely it will happen” and Jake agrees, saying that's what he's told all his friends. But apparently, they're not listening. Jake hastens to add that he knows his dad is doing everything he can, but Ben ...

Eruditorum Press Books Make Great Christmas Presents

It's not still Black Friday or Cyber Monday or any shit like that, right? OK, good.

So, first of all, thanks everyone for funding us through eight Class reviews on Patreon. They've been fun, they've been infuriating, it's always nice to write adjacent to Doctor Who againI'll keep the $300 threshold for a Return of Doctor Mysterio review, and expect S10 to be in the same general range, maybe a little higher because I can probably get away with it. Still cheaper than making me go episode by episode through the Chibnall era might end up being.

Second of all, I did want to politely direct your attention to a few things that might be of interest during the holiday shopping season. Supporting independent leftist media is a revolutionary act, donchaknow. First of all there's Josh Marsfelder's Vaka Rangi, A briliant critical history of Star Trek that anyone who enjoyed TARDIS Eruditorum will get a kick out of. For the smart Star Trek fan in your life. Or because you want him to be in a good mood when I try to get him to podcast about Star Trek: Discovery next ...

Pex Lives 37: The Mind Robber

We're pleased to announce a new episode of Pex Lives - one that's actually about Doctor Who at that. (You remember Doctor Who, right? It's that show about hope that doesn't air in years like 2016.) Specifically, it's about The Mind Robber, i.e. the twelfth greatest Doctor Who story ever. There's also discussion about Fidel Castro, America's inexorable slide into a dystopian hellscape, and childhood mindscapes.

You can listen to that here.

The Metaphysical Engine, or What Quill Did

So we follow an episode that evokes The Edge of Destruction with one that evokes The Keys of Marinus. This goes about how you’d expect. It’s not that this is an episode devoid of interesting moments. And indeed, as I guessed it might be last week, it’s unusually light on genre cliches to hold the whole thing together. The problem is that it’s also lacking, in a forty-five minute framework, any space to allow the barrage of concepts to breathe and register. The result is that a series of reasonably clever ideas of the sort that previous episodes were painfully lacking in just sort of flash by without particularly registering. Which turns out to be far worse than the previous problem the show was having. 

Let’s start with the biggest and most staggering problem in this regard: Quill angrily and furiously confronting the god she doesn’t believe in. This is possibly the best moment of drama of the entire series. Conceptually, it’s the equal of anything Moffat has ever done. And Ballon’s response to her, even if it is lightly ripped off from that Joan Osborne song, is also phenomenal stuff. But it’s wasted in a scene towards the ...

Build High For Happiness 1: High Rise (2015)

a technique of rapid passage through varied ambiences

High-Rise is an arch film, its thematic building blocks routinely presented explicitly in dialogue. In an early and particularly gleeful instance Tom Hiddleston lectures, “as you can see, the facial mask simply slips off the skull” while literally stripping the flesh off a cadaver’s skull, a statement of theme and demonstration of method all in one. This is, of course, a Ballard thing; the assimilation of his characteristically declarative style into a cinematic language for which it is not an entirely natural fit.

A second example, from when Hiddleston’s character, Robert Laing, is first meeting the High-Rise’s architect Anthony Royal (a name contrasting with the similarly symbolic Richard Wilder, the film’s primary working class character): looking at a blueprint of the building, he proclaims, “it looks like the unconscious diagram of some kind of psychic event.” It’s as Ballardian a sentiment as has ever been expressed, and indeed a more or less direct quote from the novel. As with the casual declaration of the thin line between society and barbarism, this is a statement of both theme and method - in this case a restatement of the basic and underlying premise of ...

Faeces on Trump 3

Or ‘These Theses on Faeces and Fasces’


First some very important business.  There’s a new podcast in town, Wrong With Authority, created and starring myself and my friends, familiar to you all, Daniel Harper, James Murphy, and Kit Power.  It’s yet another movie podcast… but it’s also about History.  So that’s exciting then.  Specifically, it’s about movies about historical events, and how full of shit they are.  Our first episode is just out and it covers the movies Murder by Decree and From Hell (adapted from a graphic novel some of you may have heard of) and their relationship to the historical ‘Jack the Ripper’ murders.  Download our first episode here.  And please feel free to recommend and share.  We won't mind, I promise.



As you probably noticed, the word ‘fascism’ is being thrown around a lot in response to Trump and his election.  I don’t happen to think terminological issues are unimportant.  I think this issue is worth investigating.

For instance, I agree with Phil that the term ‘alt-Right’ cannot and should not be reduced to ‘neo-Nazi’.  Just to be clear (as if I haven’t made it clear where I stand): this is not ...

Myriad Universes: Hearts and Minds Part 2: On the Edge of Armageddon

There is no time to process what has just happened. No time to even be shocked about it. Not only has the dust not cleared from the explosion onboard the runabout that killed Tal Berel, but it actually hasn't even finished exploding yet before Kol immediately blames Marok for assassinating the ambassador. An indignant Marok fires back, demanding Kol explain why he feels the Cardassian Empire would have any reason to destroy a Federation runabout and murder a mediator. Kol threatens to kill Marok where he stands, to which the Cardassian diplomat basically says “bring it” before Commander Sisko intervenes, breaking up the fight and imploring the delegations to stand down until an official investigation can be launched.

But Kol is not having it, demanding Sisko and the Federation back the Klingons because of their treaty arrangements. But for his part, Marok tries to manipulate Sisko into siding with the Cardassians, claiming that the Cardassians and the Federation have always been “brothers in spirit”, and transparently threatening him with Gul Dukat's presence, claiming that he “would hate to see him get a chance to sit down in his old chair again”. Meanwhile in Quark's, it's after ...

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