OT: Dr Who

Verity Cinnabar cen at shareable.org
Sat May 28 13:31:53 EDT 2005

> > There is a very cheesy line in one of the new episodes about many planets
> > "having a North" which irritated the heck out of me for its casual ignorance
> > of context and culture (but is probably a nod to _Our Friends in the North_)

> Can you expand on that?

well, ignoring Iain Banks' Orbital structures, Niven's "Integral Trees", any
planet with stepping disk integration, or built around a black hole near the
heliopause, and other inherent physical or magnetic anomalies (including
complete absence of magnetic poles, or multiple poles, or monopoles) &c ad 
nauseam, why would Ecclestone's accent not be just as common in a bunch of 

One could establish "north" by inclination to the ecliptic, (NEP) but the
geographical poles (measured as taper from the equator/centre of spin bulge
in an oblate spheroid) and magnetic poles might be elsewhere.
What is "north" then e.g on Uranus, which is inclined at 98 degrees? 

Of course, the actor played one of the four major characters in the TV series
_Our Friends in the North_ (google: ecclestone "our friends in the North")

... but it only works as a line for yer English-speaking flatlanders.

> I thought it was a pretty good line, and a neat corrective to the assumptions,
> all too prevalent though not always spoken, that a southern (more specifically> a London) perspective is normative in British culture.

It's been a long time since RP=BBC. Estuary English, Cockney and other London
dialects aren't so prevalant (pace, _EastEnders_ addicts).

What quintessentially Northern characteristics does this Doctor have? The
voice, and the gurning (a Northern word). He's not a corrective so much as
a new vehicle for stereotype.

(yes, minnow, it's circular logic)

> I don't know if you've heard of the row just in the last ten days or so about
> the new BBC weather map, which is tilted (using 3-D graphics) 

Familiar with the rows. ITV turned down the software, which may yet face a
Parliamentary challenge brought on behalf of the visually impaired and the
epileptic (the camera swoops have allegedly triggered fits), even if the SNP
have been somewhat prematurely mollified by the promise of realignment as of
today. It is quite hard to see the borders of the rain (a few slashes falling
from the clear sky signify a bit of rain, a blue blob much rain). The 3D aspect
to the rain means it's hard to see if it's projected to hit anything in 

I miss the isobars; I'd miss them more if I were still regularly setting out
in a Mirror rigged for my solo sailing. Only the multichannel broadcast or
the late-night full weather report carry any such markings (a mess of arrows
filling the screen rather than bar-pressure lines on the contour model).

Many alternatives to the Mercator projection exist, and the BBC used to use
a ratio-corrected map. Any change was bound to provoke disaffection, and I
expect to see the first cases of "I stopped paying my licence fee when the
Beeb abrogated my rights to a decent weather forecast" any day now. Of course,
there are already so many technologies where the Detector Vans' once-feared
local wave oscillator machines cannot find anything, that the licence is
already a tech anomaly. The strikes are the latest spasms of change coming
to the protectorate.


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