A Mind @ Play Posts

5th December 2006 / / Films
Casino Royale

So they’re silly. So they’ve been going since the ’60s. So this is the twenty-first (official) outting of the sixth incarnation of a spy who has survived promotion, demotion and the Cold War. It’s a Bond film, and one purporting to go ‘back to basics’ with a new face and a general overhaul for the series. As one of those heretics who preferred the slightly heightened realism of the Timothy Dalton era, this film showed plenty of promise with a conspicuous absence gadgets, a somewhere near realistic plot, and nary a nuclear device in sight.

It’s been compared to the series reboot that Batman Begins provided, and for all its grittiness and mortality of the main character, has been lauded by the critics, whilst simultaneously pleasing fans for remaining true to the Bond brand. Daniel Craig proved to be a controversial choice, but from his experience behind the lines in Archangel and some technical bomb-making expertise in Munich, he came well prepared to play the UK’s most dangerous export.

Warning, possible spoilers after the break!

19th November 2006 / / Criticism

This weekend a radio talk show in Ireland was lamenting the state of the Irish road network, in particular focusing on the state of her road signs. Anyone that has driven through the country will understand how this seemingly trivial matter could be focus for an entire discussion. The cause of the problem was perceived to be the decentralised system of transport regulation, the result being a wide disparity between different parts of the country, and a generally poor system compared to European standards. The show received numerous SMS messages and emails highlighting more extreme examples, from road signs incorrectly directing traffic, through long stretches of road with nary a road-sign or indication of turnings, to the example of sections of road with conflicting speed limits, no doubt compounded by some complications in the changeover from miles to kilometres per hour.

Yet what was only mentioned in passing was that government initiatives to improve the transport network in the country can only be spent once, and ultimately further improvements to the road network must necessarily mean public transport receives less funding. One of the interesting statistics cited was that in Dublin, the only large urban centre, around 70% of commuters travel to work by private transport. Although unduly unfair, for the sake of comparison just consider the figures for the centre of London, which show the figure to be as low as 10%. Is Ireland’s public transport system underperforming?

7th November 2006 / / Fun
2nd November 2006 / / Criticism
3rd October 2006 / / Real Life™

Despite it feeling like almost yesterday, a fortnight has already passed since I returned from this year’s travels. With the jet-set revolution in full swing, and RyanAir’s European footprint under continuous eastward expansion, I took the opportunity this year to expand my own carbon footprint and head to the east. Armed with a smattering of Russian, an able German companion and a small roll of banknotes, this year’s travels took me to Riga, third largest industrial city of Imperial Russia, and capital of one of the more vibrant economies in Europe today. After five days in a bed & breakfast there, it was followed by a stay in probably the most famous cultural and historical city in Poland: Krakow.