Merlin

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I’m delighted to see that season four of Merlin is making good on the promise of the show.

I love the Arthurian tales. Their telling is like pizza — good, even when it’s bad. Not that there’s anything wrong with the first three seasons — on the contrary, there is much there to love and admire.

But toward the end of the third season, the show really seemed to find its legs with the coming together of the round table. No doubt the good people who bring us the series realized they have a hit on their hands.

Now the story is going from strength to strength — with verve, sweep, and romance … and magic!

Good for them. Good for us.

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PS,

O, drat — they’ve cancelled the series.

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 Merlin @ BBC 1

A Glorious ‘Hobbit’

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I loved it. I wondered how Peter Jackson would make the book into a trilogy.

Well, he embellished the tale — lovingly, brilliantly.

The Hobbit is great fun — exciting, suspenseful, funny. Just right.

I don’t know what so many people were kvetching about — don’t much care. It all seems like so much sophomoric fault-finding, compared to the beautiful, sweeping story up there on the screen.

Game of Thrones

There is a wealth of good things to be said about Game of Thrones, the terrific series on HBO, easily the most grownup sword & sorcery epic I’ve ever seen.

Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister, is at the top of my list. He’s a generous actor, but his instincts, intelligence and gift for invention make it impossible to take your eyes off him.

Fascism TV

I have nothing against cops on TV, per se. Like many others, I think The Wire was one of the best offerings in the history of television. Over the years, I’ve enjoyed Without a Trace, Law & Order and CSI. My new fave rave is Justified.

That said, I’m increasingly tired of the whole genre. It’s gone way beyond the saturation point. In recent years we’ve had The Shield, The Academy, Cold Case, and Flashpoint. Today, we have The Closer, Criminal Minds, Blue Bloods, Hawaii Five-O, Prime Suspect and multiple clones of Law & Order and CSI. We have NCIS and now NCIS: LA.

It gets better. Tuesday nights on CBS, all of prime time is dedicated to cop shows. Last week, I had a gander at the ironically titled Unforgettable. It’s about a beautiful woman cop who never forgets anything. It’s a predictable procedural, but with a twist. In this episode, she tells a bunch of activists to go ‘camp out in the park, knock yourselves out.’ You could cut the sneering condescension with an axe.

Friday night, confronted with a vast wasteland, I had a peek at CSI: New York, which is typically all too forgettable, and with no twist in sight. We find a noble cop talking with his adorable girlfriend. It’s an intimate morning-after scene and all very affectionate — right up to the point where she makes a smirking reference to some “sexually ambiguous” person of interest.

In the cop show called Person of Interest, we recently had the computer-savvy-nerd half of a vigilante team make an approving remark about fracking.

You get the picture.

#OWS Highlights Authoritarian Police

Allison Kilkenny on December 18, 2011 – 10:47am ET

A funny thing happens when one uses the term “police state” to describe behavior by authorities in response to the Occupy protests.

Free Speech Zones

In late November, LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa released a midnight press release in anticipation of a raid on Occupy LA, which included this line: “During the park closure, a First Amendment area will remain open on the Spring Street City Hall steps.” The absurdity of that statement should be immediately apparent to anyone who understands how real journalism works. Good reporters don’t obediently stand in a “First Amendment area,” deliberately placed far away from the heart of the story. Reporters need to be able to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with protesters, precisely so they can witness how the police interact with them.

Earlier in the month, journalist Josh Harkinson reported on being alerted to the existence of something called the “frozen zone” when he attempted to cover the eviction of Zuccotti.

A white-shirted officer moved in with a bullhorn. “If you don’t leave the park you are subject to arrest. Now is your opportunity to leave the park.”

Nobody budged. As a lone drum pounded, I climbed up on the wall to get a better view.

“Can I help you?” an burly officer asked me, his helpfulness belied by his scowl.

“I’m a reporter,” I told him.

“This is a frozen zone, all right?” he said, using a term I’d never heard before. “Just like them, you have to leave the area. If you do not, you will be subject to arrest.”

He grabbed my arm and began dragging me off. My shoes skidded across the park’s slimy granite floor. All around me, zip-cuffed occupiers writhed on the ground beneath a fog of chemicals.

“I just want to witness what is going on here,” I yelped.

“You can witness it with the rest of the press,” he said. Which, of course, meant not witnessing it.

“Why are you excluding the press from observing this?” I asked.

“Because this is a frozen zone. It’s a police action going on. You could be injured.”

His meaning was clear. I let myself be hustled across the street to the press pen.

“What’s your name?”

His reply came as fast as he could turn away: “Watch your back.”

The state of open source in solar

 

Around 2016 (more or less) we are going to reach a crossover point, called grid parity. The cost per watt of buying, installing and using a solar system is going to get below the actual cost of buying electricity from the grid, below the cost of generating it with coal or natural gas and transporting it to you.

It’s at this point that I expect open source to shine, because the supply-demand balance will shift. Instead of having to push demand for solar systems, manufacturers will find themselves falling behind demand, just as PC makers began running short (despite production increases) of consumer demand for PCs in the late 1970s, after decades where salesmen had to call on folks to sell mainframes or minicomputers.

When a technology becomes common, when it starts to become standardized, when it has proven itself in the market, that’s when the savings and benefits of open source become obvious.

We’re just getting warmed up.

Justified

Timothy Olyphant and Joelle Carter

My new fave rave

Fans of Deadwood will remember Timothy Olyphant as the intense lawman turned store keeper. He returns as a Federal Marshall in this terrific series, produced by Elmore Leonard and based on a character from one of his stories. Exciting, colorful, sexy, powered by great writing — it’s a heaping helping of good fun.

IMDB: Justified