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The Engineer

The Life and Times of Donald F. Simmons

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This week...

Attended the Bike Community meeting at Metro Hall, where they laid out the bike lanes plans and the like for 2010. Full house and a lot of discussion, a fair bit about what the mayoral election might do to all these plans, and the continuing pie-in-the-sky status of a bike lane on Bloor. Most interesting bit was proposed bike lanes on University, physically separated from traffic via bollards, which would be a great idea. University is scary to ride on at the best of times.

Finally saw Sherlock Holmes with Nicolas. Enjoyed it more than I thought I would. I really liked the more capable Watson then we are usually given (the Rathbone series in particular really slanders Watson). Anything set in Victorian England these days seems to have to have steampunk overtones, but I can live with that. Loved that the heart of the film was Holmes having to accept his only friend moving about. He needs to hire an assistant.

The ASX Space Symposium was held at U of T last Friday. Not as good as previous years, most of the talks were lighter on actual science than I would have liked (one of the main speakers couldn't make it at the last minute, so her replacement gets a pass for even putting something together in time), but there was stil some good stuff t learn. Great turnout, especially on such a cold night. Although they really need to figure out how to move people in faster, there was a long line out in the cold.

Last Saturday saw the premiere performance of the play Nation, based on the Terry Pratchett book of the same name. It opened in London at the Nation Theatre, and was simulcast at the Scotiabank theatre downtown, as well as other locations around the world, which I gather has been going on for a while now (first I heard of it, they need to advertise better). I liked it well enough, but it suffered from some serious pacing problems, especially in the second half. They also restructured it to play down what I thought was one of the most important themes of the book, religion vs reason. In the book, Pratchett is most definitely on the side of reason, but acknowledges that religion seems to be an instinct in us, and it's not going to go away. That certainly wasn't the main point of the stage version. The two main character were quite good, as was the guy playing the parrot (you'd have to see it to really appreciate him).

Cafe Skeptic at the Future suffered from it being too loud for a discussion, I think moving these from Saturdays to a week night would help. But the topic, science in the media, is one dear to me. Increasingly I'm seeing stuff dumbed down or tarted up to apparently try to appeal to a larger audience. Even Nova, which make no mistake is still good, often now uses zooming camera effects and stagy re-enactments and the like.

But let me ask you, my readers, if this does make you more likely to watch? Are you more likely to watch Ancients Behaving Badly than the same show called The Life of Hannibal? A guy writing on a chalkboard for 30 minutes (University of the Air when i was a kid) is obviously too far one way, but I can't help but feel we're swinging too far the other.