September 2011

28 September 2011
Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Travesty

Went to see the new Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy movie the other day.  It is difficult to watch this having previously read the book and watched the TV series.  The TV series seared itself into the memory.  So, I am not sure if I understood things through watching the film or because I had previously seen the TV series.  So, I won’t talk about how easy to follow it may or may not be.

Things that definitely differ from the book:

  1. The Americans don’t have Karla tortured
  2. Peter Guillam is not gay
  3. Peter Guillam drives a sports car not a saloon
  4. Jim Prideaux is shot in Czechoslovakia not Hungary
  5. Ricky Tarr goes out to Hong Kong, not Istanbul
  6. Ricky Tarr’s secret is not accepting money from the Russians but trying to get his family to safety
  7. Ricky Tarr starts the fight not Guillam.
  8. Irina is not shot in front of Prideaux

Things that probably differ from the book (I don’t have time to check):

  1. There was no Christmas Party
  2. Smiley does not make any promises to Tarr
  3. I don’t think anyone thought Prideaux had been killed.
  4. Tufty Thesinger is not killed
  5. Haydon is not shot. 

Not all of these changes are important but they combine to significantly change the meaning of the book.  Where, in the book, there was a clear distinction made between East and West, the movie manages to muddy that distinction.  This is unforgivable.  Communism was appalling.  It killed and impoverished millions.  Sure, the West wasn’t perfect.  The book acknowledges this in spades but always makes it clear that the West is much, much better.

Other faults:

  • Boy, it drags.  It even manages to feel slower than the 1970s TV series which in terms of running time was much longer.  Way too much effort goes into creating a world of brown, orange and grey and then taking long, lingering shots of it.
  • Ciaran Hands (playing Roy Bland) doesn’t, if I recall correctly, say a word.  Not a word.  What a waste.

Things that I am pretty sure they did have in the 1970s but don’t appear in the movie:

  • Flares

Things they got right:

  • Gary Oldman
  • Colin Firth

24 September 2011
Faster than light?

Just in case you aren’t a Facebook friend of Andy Wood this is what he has to say about those non-conforming neutrinos:

Anyone want to take me up on this bet:

I’ll offer £200 at even odds that before 23rd September 2012, some error will be found in the CERN experiment nullifying the alleged observation of superluminal neutrinos.

I’ll offer £1000 at odds of 1 to 5 (ie I risk £1000, you risk £200) that some such error will be found in the above experiment before 2016.

I’m only offering each bet once.

http://xkcd.com/955/

10 September 2011
“Only in the realm of politics is the belief widespread that reality is optional” - Detlev Schlicter …link
 
06 September 2011
Ludwig von Mises: not a peacenik

The wars waged by England during the era of Liberalism to extend her colonial empire and to open up territories which refused to admit foreign trade, laid the foundations of the modern world economy.  To measure the true significance of these wars one has only to imagine what would have happened if India and China and their hinterland had remained closed to world commerce.  Not only each Chinese and each Hindu, but each European and each American, would be considerably worse off.

von Mises, “Socialism” p208 (translation of 2nd Edition, 1932, Liberty Fund)

Don’t anyone tell the Rothbots.