Did Hitler have a base in the Antarctic?

Link: news @ nature.com - Did Hitler have a base in the Antarctic? John Whitfield wonders why fringe fantasies get attracted to the edges of the Earth..

"After the initial flurry of interest, International Polar Year (IPY, launched this March) seems to have gone a bit quiet. I propose pepping things up with a good conspiracy theory. Handily, a recent paper in Polar Record (ref 1) describes one. The Nazis, some believe, established a secret base in Antarctica to which they spirited Hitler at the war’s end, fought off British special forces and an American military taskforce, partly by shooting down US planes using flying saucers. The Americans eventually destroyed the base with nuclear weapons in the 1950s. Since then, various governments have striven to conceal this."

I was thinking of John’s article when the eagerly, even in some quarters desperately, awaited witching hour struck: 1900 hours, Saturday 30 March 2007. Doctor Who! Would the "new companion" measure up to the late lamented (by some) Rose — who has fled to Hollywood via Sally Lockhart and Fanny Price? Can Dr Who ever recover from being Barty Crouch Jr? Would I be able to stand watching a whole episode?

Answers: (1) yes (companion more than OK); (2) Oh, Ok then Michele, yes; and (3) yes. The new "companion" has a brain, independence, sex appeal and beauty. David Tennant is doing his level best to being as un-Barty Crouch Jr-like as possible: my heart warmed to him slightly when he shook himself like a rockhopper penguin so that several hundred million Roentgens of radioactivity fell down into his toe, causing his shoe to overheat to the extent he had to drop it in the bin. And yes, I could indeed sit through the episode without retiring to my computer or book. Well done to all concerned.

Ian Hocking has also provided independent confirmation that the episode passes muster. He’s a bit troubled by the wonky science, but to my mind you can’t expect proper science in science fiction, you are better off just suspending belief, with a gin and tonic if necessary. If it is hard to accept, just remember Hitler at the Antarctic. 

Is Google Too Powerful?

There is a good article in Business Week here: Is Google Too Powerful?. As it says on the can, it is a useful summary of the concerns from various quarters that have been expressed recently about Google’s global activities. I am not sure for how long the article is free, but for the time being, you can read it without a subscription. Here’s a quote:

THERE’S LITTLE EVIDENCE that users have any problem with the company’s power, even if they don’t all take its informal motto, "Don’t be evil," at face value. These fans might be excused for tossing back their own question to the whiners: Too powerful at what? Helping me find things, get work done, connect with friends? Bring it on!

I’m one of those who thinks that life has improved tremendously since Google, professionally and personally. Just one small example: see how inaccurate Amazon search is nowadays, since they parted ways with Google as their search engine and went for their own, A9 — I am sure for what seemed to be sound commercial reasons — but will it turn out to be the decision that allows another site to challenge its market domination?

Vote for Amy at the Best of Blogs awards

Link: Amy On The Web » Blog Archive » Shameless Self-Promo.

Amy of Books, Words and Writing has been shortlisted for the best book/literary blog category of the 2007 Best of Blogs awards. You can vote for her (or anyone else, of course, but I recommend voting for her) via the link above, or directly at the award site here. All the best to Amy.

panlibus on Revish, a book community site

At this link: panlibus (kindly sent to me by Dave Lull) is a podcast interview with Dan Champion, founder of Revish, a book review community site launched yesterday (Friday 30 March 2007).  In the interview you can find out about how the idea of Revish took shape and developed in to a reality, and how it "differs from other book sites such as Shelfari and LibraryThing".

For those who are not into podcasts, here is a direct link to the Revish site (also courtesy Dave Lull). At a glance, Revish looks very good indeed. Scream. Too many book discussion groups, too little time to read (hence nothing to discuss, so all that happens is that I wander round these sites and pick up yet more recommendations of books I’d like to read….).

(I’ve also posted about Revish and panlibus on Librarian’s Place.)

Mansfield Parked

I feel compelled to add my comments to the many others that have been made about the new "Mansfield Park", shown on ITV a week or two ago, and watched by me and the rest of my family last night via recorded DVD.

The production as a whole is the usual sincere, respectful but somewhat glossed-over (for time constraints) interpretation of a "classic" novel that one sees so often these days. Sometimes, when watching the formidably detailed set design or costumes in these productions, I wonder if people in those days really were as conscious of their own period’s constraints as are today’s film designers. The acting is good, particularly Douglas Hodge and Jemma Redgrave as the parents, though some characters barely appear after the first third, and the play scenes were truncated ruthlessly.

But the core of it is Billie Piper, and I am very sorry to say this, but I just have to: hopeless. She is no more Fanny Price than Kevin Costner was Robin Hood. She is the "star", so the production orbits around her, exactly counter to Fanny’s character. Her hair is golden, curly, long and free; in almost every scene she is running– down or up stairs, along leafy avenues, among the fancy furniture, etc. Her neckline is plunging; her bosom heaves attractively and constantly. Her accent veers between extremes of posh diction enunciated slowly and carefully, and cockney aitches or dropped "ts". Her dialogue, actually, is safely kept minimal (as in the recent Philip Pullman adaptation), though of course she is given a line at dinner to indicate her emancipated disapproval of the practice of slavery. Most gratingly of all, she laughs out loud all the time to indicate joie de vivre , giggles, stares knowingly and adoringly at Edward for the entire duration: in sum, she is a thoroughly modern young female who has been beamed down intact, unchanged and unchangeable, into nineteenth century England. Fanny Price, she most definitely is not.

Cathy and Jenny loved her and the whole caboodle. Malcolm and I felt a strong common urge to immediately read the book again — for me, on the "wash your mouth out" principle, I think. If you want to watch a production of Mansfield Park (as opposed to reading it), see the American feminist "hint of lesbiana" reworking, or see the ancient but worthy BBC production, both of which remain true to the essence of  Austen, but don’t see this.