And so comedian and Doctor Who fan Toby Hadoke today tweeted some news that broke my heart:
“As there are some who still don’t believe it: I’ve just received written confirmation that Harold Pinter was not in The Abominable Snowmen!”
Okay, some context: for years a story has done the rounds of fandom, that Harold Pinter was hired by the producers of Doctor Who, not as a lauded playwright but in his other role as a jobbing actor. Yes, the man who would go on to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature was employed to play a yeti-fighting monk. That is, frankly, an awesome story.
Like any other culture, the geek community has evolved a mythology over time. Often that’s based on flat-out misinformation, but it catches on because a need is fulfilled – attaching names like Bush and Pinter to a show traditionally made on a shoe-string grants it a certain legitimacy and credibility; that’s why these stories find themselves embedded in fan culture. It’s probably worth noting that, when Neil Gaiman wrote for Who, his episode got its name from one of the show’s most notorious hoaxes. After all, reinventing mythologies is one of Gaiman’s great strengths.
All of which goes to show, sometimes it’s more fun to print the myth…
Despite the fact that Neil Gaiman has been twittering about what happens when you hit Marmite with a spoon (it turns white), and I’m therefore seriously considering finding, yes, some Marmite and a spoon at 6:25am, I’m instead going to link to this story about coded messages in slave songs and spirituals at the time of the Underground Railroad.
I’ve posted about weird methods of data transmission before (pigeons, bread, stained glass windows), but I’d never really considered that hymns may contain codes (for instance, ‘wade in the water’ can not only refer to baptism, but also a method of stopping dogs from getting your scent). Frankly I’ll never look at the Methodist Hymn Book in the same way again…
I may have raved here a time or two about the fact that Neil Gaiman has written an episode of Doctor Who for the forthcoming series. So this photo of Gaiman on the TARDIS set is all kinds of awesome. Now all we have to do is get episodes out of Grant Morrison and Ray Bradbury…
I’ve posted on libraries before, so I don’t want to repeat myself. However, I was surprised to learn that yesterday was the USA’s Library Advocacy Day; surprising because they’re talking about libraries – surely they’re a fundamental part of the community? We don’t have car park advocacy or school advocacy do we?
Well, that’s my naivity taking things for granted, because on Monday Fox News published "Are libraries necessary or a waste of tax money?", and, it being Fox News, you can pretty much guess which side of the fence they came down on. It’s gratifying to note that the comments at that link tear the author a new one, but it’s worrying that this is even an issue. The conspiracy theorist in me wants to link it to the Murdoch empire’s war on anything that looks like free information (they don’t like the BBC much either), but that might be giving them too much credit, in terms of organisation more than desire.
Fortunately there are eloquent voices speaking out on behalf of libraries – Neil Gaiman used his recent Carnegie Medal win to pay tribute to the work of librarians, and there’s a nice piece on library closures in the US over at the Huffington Post. And if that isn’t enough, I’m sure the Librarian can arrange for some strategically flicked peanuts to hit the right targets…
First of all, check out Neil Gaiman’s National Library Week talk (which I haven’t watched yet, but I’m assuming it’s interesting and insightful and other words beginning with I). I’m also pleased to report that I seem to be getting back on track with my ‘read 50 books this year’ project, so that’s good – it proves my attention span hasn’t completely atrophied.
In the light of all the controversy over the Digital Economy Act, it’s particularly scary to see this news report from the States, where school-issued laptops have allegedly been taking pictures of students without their knowledge or permission. Needless to say, this is bad mojo; not only does it raise (more) questions about privacy in an information-driven society, but, if proven to be deliberate, it’s also a total abuse of trust on behalf of the school district in terms of their duty of care to the students. This will not end well.
As for the Icelandic volcano and the resulting air traffic chaos, well, apparently people have been saying it’s God’s judgement on Obama’s healthcare reform passing. However, as Jesus was known for healing everyone who came to him (and not charging them anything), I’m guessing God doesn’t have a problem with providing healthcare for everyone, and therefore the crazies (who I’m not going to link to, because I’m afraid I’ll be forced to throw my laptop out the window) might want to think about which god they’re blaming. Odin? Njoror? Nerthus?
More on the volcano situation when I can form more coherent thoughts….