Come Out Onto the Balcony and Wave a Tentacle (The Zygon Invasion/The Zygon Inversion)

One of the things you notice a lot more when watching television as a girl is how fundamentally ludicrous a lot of characters' "no makeup and looking slightly ratty" looks are. 

It’s October 31st, 2015. Adele has debuted at number one with “Hello,” just ahead of Justin Bieber’s also new to the charts “Sorry,” a situation that persists through both episodes of this story. Sam Smith, Ariana Grande, Mnek & Zara Larson, The Weeknd, and Drake also chart. In news, hundreds die in Pakistan and Afghanistan after a magnitude 7.5 earthquake, Paul Ryan becomes Speaker of the House of Representatives, and a Russian plane flying from Egypt to Saint Petersburg is blown up shortly after takeoff, killing 224.

One ought never look a gift coincidence in the mouth when doing psychochronography, so let’s start with the cliffhanger, in which the Doctor’s plane is shot down by a group consciously made to parallel ISIS. On the one hand this is an eerie coincidence, but it’s also the sort of thing that happens when you ostentatiously position your story to be rooted in current events. Comment not on the abyss, as I’m sure someone or other said once ...

The Gateway Drug

Paleolibertarianism was a consciously devised mutation of Austrian-influenced libertarianism, concocted by the late-20th century’s most prominent devotee of Austrian dogma, Murray Rothbard (and his fawning cohorts).  

Libertarianism today draws on several sources.  Ayn Rand is the best known, but the more influential is arguably Murray Rothbard.  (Rothbard’s attitude to Rand fluctuated.)  Rand is more influential for her ‘ideas’.  Rand is more accessible, despite putting up a superficial show of intellectualism.  Rothbard is harder to get a handle on.  Unlike Rand, he is a genuine intellectual – which is often a question of how one couches ideas rather than the ideas themselves.  And he develops.  And he writes long, involved, serious articles (though they get less serious-minded as he gets older).  I would argue that his influence is less in actual ideas and more in the surrounding spheres of aesthetics/style and tactics/strategy.  After all, in fusing libertarianism with conservatism to create paleolibertarianism, the libertarians consciously submerged certain libertarian ideas.  What succeeded – from the libertarian point of view - was arguably less the fusion than the style: the strategic attempt to use populist reactionary politics to further the ...

A Rather Egotistical Young Lady (The Woman Who Lived)

Me takes poorly to the Doctor's "Varys is a mermaid" theory.

It’s October 24th, 2015. KDA with Tinie Tempah and Katy B are at number one with “Turn the Music Louder (Rumble).” One Direction and Sleepy Tom & Diplo enter the top ten, while Bieber, The Weeknd, Drake, and Ellie Goulding are still around. In news, Hurricane Patricia, the most intense tropical storm ever to hit the western hemisphere and the second most intense ever, strikes Mexico and deals nearly half a billion dollars in damage. The Tories change rules to weaken the power of Scottish MPs by ruling that laws affecting only England must have a majority vote of English MPs. Hillary Clinton spends eight hours testifying in front of the Benghazi Committee, while Lincoln Chafee and Jim Webb both drop out of the race for the Democratic nomination. 

On television, meanwhile, the two-part structure of the season begins to break down with an episode by a completely different writer than its nominal part one. Let’s set aside my decision to cover them separately, which is really a decision about how many words I think I can spend on them and not about them per ...

Summing Up, Part 1

As we know, the Austrian School is - but is not limited to - a heterodox branch of bourgeois economics.  It is, however, founded upon a more-or-less explicitly political project.  And this project continues to animate its zombie, and its zombified victims, infected by its bite.  But then the Austrians’ iteration of the new (in the 1870s) bourgeois economic doctrine of marginalism was always a political project, even in its dry theoretical basis. 

Marginalism itself arose as a way to escape the increasing obviousness of the fact that capital exploits labour.  This was a necessary project as capital spread across the globe.  It took the conscious form of an attempt to address genuine weaknesses in the classical labour theory of value.  These weaknesses were interpreted as evidence that the theory needed to be discarded precisely because the class position/alignment of the theoreticians addressing the issue pushed them towards a view of value which did not derive from labour.  It became an even more necessary project after the Paris Commune scared the shit out of the bourgeoisie. 

The Austrian School, in the person of Menger, helped create marginalism.  But it continued to ...

You Were Expecting Someone Else: The Legends of Ashildr

For all that we’ve been picking on the inadequacies of the standard book line, there had been efforts in the background to try new things. For a variety of reasons we didn’t cover efforts like Summer Falls and The Angel’s Kiss in the late Matt Smith era (actually just one reason, which was me saving things for the book), but they certainly represented one effort to change what the book line can and should do. The Legends of Ashildr represents a stab at another possible shape the books could take—anthologies of several short stories. Obviously there are some constraints around this. Just dumping a couple Doctor Who short story collections a year is an invitation for mediocrity with no obvious sales hooks. Whatever one might say about Big Bang Generation, it at least has a hook you can sell it with in a way that wouldn’t be true of a straightforward collection of shorts.

But what does work is grabbing gaps in the series and filling them with anthologies. So, for instance, when you have several hundred years of Ashildr/Me growing and developing as a character between the two halves of her debut you drop a collection of four ...

Brave Viking Warriors Slain by the Curse (The Girl Who Died)

A girl has no spacesuit

It’s October 17th, 2015. Justin Bieber is still at number one, with The Weeknd and Jamie Lawson newly entering the charts. In news, Home Office figures are released showing that hate crimes in England and Wales have risen by 18% in a year, and the first primary debate for the 2016 Democratic Party nomination is held in Las Vegas, over the course of which Donald Trump gained more Twitter followers from live-tweeting events than any of the actual candidates.

On television, meanwhile, it’s the return of Jamie Mathieson and the debut of Maisie Williams’s Ashildr/Me. Let’s start with the latter, as it’s Series Nine’s big piece of celebrity stunt casting, and one the show seeks greater mileage out of than, say, Keeley Hawes or David Suchet’s appearances. Part of this is that Maisie Williams is coming to Doctor Who from a currently-airing hit show. But Game of Thrones is not the cultural juggernaut in the UK that it is in the US; its all-time high ratings were 3.5m for the Season Seven finale, which is more than a million lower than Doctor Who’s worst-ever episode, and more to the point came two ...

Literally a Communist

"I'm a communist you idiot!" declared Ash Sarkar on Good Morning Britain, in response to the heckling and strawmanning of Piers Morgan. (Video here.)  She's subsequently been all over the media.  Morgan has accidentally made this into her 'moment'.  As she herself humourously overstates, he's even accidentally rehabilitated communism.  Turns out, if it's communism or Piers Morgan, the British people seem more likely to give communism a try. 

Sarkar, senior editor at Novara Media, was being interviewed as a representative of the anti-Trump protestors descending on London (despite Trump's well-advised absence from that city). As it happens, I suspect very few of the 100,000-250,000 who assembled were communists - despite the Daily Mail's characterisation of the protest as consisting of what they rather confusingly called a "rent-a-leftie mob". 

(I'm wondering if there's any money in lefty-rental.  Can I hire myself out?  And who does the renting?  George Soros?  The Mail seems to imply it's Corbyn... but isn't he one himself?  Shouldn't he be on the books rather than keeping them?  Could I start my own franchise ...

An Evolutionary Error They Obviously Mean to Correct (Under the Lake/Before the Flood)

For once I don't have a joke about this, it's just a screenshot that adds further support to one of my points.

It’s October 3rd, 2015. Sam Smith has debuted at number one with “Writing’s On the Wall,” while the rest of the top ten is basically the same as last week. Justin Bieber takes the number one slot back a week later, when Philip George & Anton Powers and Drake also enter the charts, the latter with “Hotline Bling.” In news, NASA announces that there’s liquid water on Mars, which can’t mean anything bad at all, the US accidentally bombs a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Afghanistan, and a mass shooter at Umpqua Community College in Oregon kills ten after apparently warning posters on 4chan to stay home from school. 

On television, meanwhile… *sigh*. Ultimately, every story about a hot streak ends the same way. No matter how imperiously brilliant, no matter how ambitious, eventually it all falls apart. The story of how it happened this time is simple enough: Moffat had to go make The Abominable Bride, and so needed two episodes of Doctor Who by someone he wasn’t going to extensively ...

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