The other day I stumbled across a fan-site description of the warships portrayed in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica (2004-09). And something struck me. Sci-fi ships usually derive from an ocean-going ‘conceptual model’ – ‘space dreadnoughts’, ‘space battlecruisers’, ‘destroyers’ and the rest. The ‘conceptual model’ for Galactica was apparently the hybrid carrier-battleship of the kind contemplated … More The cool steampunkish bit about ‘Battlestar Galactica’
One of the flaws of twentieth century thinking was that a lot of it was geared towards systematising the human universe around us. Everything had to be reduced to mechanisms, often simplistic, often single-cause. This was certainly true academically, particularly in the humanities which were styling themselves as ‘scientific’ on the basis of that systematisation. … More The flaws of twentieth century thinking
I was all ‘woohoo’ last week when news broke that New Zealand is actually a continent about half the size of Australia, albeit mostly underwater. The discovery was published in the March-April issue of GSA Today in a paper authored by a team of New Zealand and New Caledonian geologists, including Nick Mortimer, Hamish Campbell, … More New Zealand is earth’s eighth continent. Just mostly underwater.
I’ve been thinking lately about one of the eye-opening experiences of my university life, and what it tells us about today’s world. In 1981 I arrived at Victoria University of Wellington as a bright-eyed eighteen year old, filled with the idea that university was the place where people could express their intellectual ideas constructively. I … More How societies get sucked into authoritarianism
When I was at primary school in Napier, New Zealand, all the kids – including me – were terrified of a particular teacher, the ‘go to’ disciplinarian who was invoked when other teachers wanted a kid especially punished. This bellowing drill-sergeant of a teacher demanded total submission to his power, even down to punishing kids … More How authoritarian bullies get away with it
There was, I suppose, a universal sigh of relief when New Year 2017 ticked over and the world left the Year from Hell. We like our arbitrary calendar dates. Reality seldom conforms. After all, Lemmy Kilmister kicked off the big celebrity die-off that marked 2016 on Boxing Day 2015. A friend of mine suggested that … More Why 2016 was a historical trend year – not a one-shot disaster
Merry Christmas, everyone! I hope your festive season’s going well and there’s much fun and merriment for all. Here, for your enjoyment, is the world’s first Christmas card, from 1843. It was commissioned by Sir Henry Cole and drawn by John Callcot Horsley, part of the general commercialisation of Christmas that decade. It’s rich with … More A Christmas card from history…