Print Story And tell sad stories of the death of kings
By TheophileEscargot (Fri May 09, 2008 at 10:50:59 PM EST) Reading, Watching, MLP (all tags)
Reading: "The Far Side of the World". Watching: "Richard II". Random. Web.

What I'm Reading
Re-read The Far Side of the World. Read a few from the middle of the Aubrey/Maturin series, then went back to the beginning, so I've now wrapped round again.

A good example of the series. Little bit short on actions, but does have lots of sailing, scenery and events. Liked the careful arrangement of crossing the Line on a Sunday with the ship newly-painted to stop the horseplay ascending into warfare between the old Surprises and the new members of the crew.

Also has a tense desert-island standoff later on. The film didn't follow the plot of this book particularly closely though, there's no action between frigates.

Should be back into uncharted waters with the next one.

What I'm Watching
Watched the 1978 BBC version of Richard II. Derek Jacobi as Richard, John Gielgud as John of Gaunt. Jon Finch seemed a bit bland as Bolingbroke, but that might be the nature of the part: the dull competent administrator Bolingbroke contrasted against flamboyant but impractical Richard.

What interested me was the way it foreshadowed the Civil War. (The play was written in 1595, the war happened in the 1640s.) I suppose up to a point history must have repeated itself. The extravagant Richard raises money by unpopular means: tax-farming the kingdom out to private tax collectors. He arbitrarily exiles Bolingbroke, then confiscates his inheritance when his father dies. Bolingbroke rebels at this, imprisons Richard and takes the throne as Henry IV. There's a lot of talk about the divine right of kings, some of which seems to echo the concerns of the Parliamentarians. Wonder if the play could have influenced them.

There was also an incident in Elizabeth I's reign which got the Lord Chamberlain's men into hot water. Before rebelling against her, the Earl of Essex got them to put on the play again, presumably hoping to drum up anti-monarchist sentiment. When the rebellion was put down, the actors were arrested and questioned. Fortunately they were not judged to be part of the Essex conspiracy.

The play itself is a bit of an oddity, written just as Shakespeare was entering his mature period. The verse has a lot more rhyme and more varied verse, the language is a bit more melodramatic and ostentatious than his later work. It's hugely impressive but not sure it totally works. I think making dialogue into sonnets is something best used sparingly, as in the Romeo meets Juliet thing: it sounds a bit forced when people finish off each other's rhymes.

The plot seems a little more sparse, without much subplot. Follows a careful structure though, echoed by the language as the Fall of Richard is accompanied by the Rise of Henry, with the characters literally rising and falling as they go

My lord, in the base court he doth attend
To speak with you; may it please you to come down?

Down, down I come; like glist'ring Phaethon,
Wanting the manage of unruly jades.
In the base court? Base court, where kings grow base,
To come at traitors' calls, and do them grace.
In the base court? Come down? Down, court! down, king!
For night-owls shriek where mounting larks should sing.
Overall, it's interesting to see Shakespeare experiment. But with lots of long speeches and little action, it's a bit heavier going than usual.

I've stuck the sequel "Henry IV part 1" on my rental list. May go through this tetralogy if I don't get bored. I dunno, it's all sequels these days...

Random thoughts

  • Hans Reiser's geek problem wasn't a lack of social skills. It was misplaced arrogance. "I am good with computers. Therefore I am incredibly intelligent. Therefore I know better than my lawyers."
  • I find it disturbing that Times web articles have a "Post to Fark" button.
  • There's a thing I think of as "Red Flag technology", by analogy with the men who allegedly used to have to walk in front of motor-cars waving a red flag. This is when a new technology is artificially limited to the same performance as the old. For instance, those media players that let you download TV programmes, but only from the last two weeks of one channel.
  • Politics. Negative campaigning can work very well. Neither David Cameron nor John McCain have heavily subjected to it yet. Opinion polls now do not necessarily show what things will look like after the mud has been slung.
Tech. Inside a containerized datacenter. For programming blog addicts: 7 Types of Development Articles that Set Kittens on Fire.

Boobpedia categorizes with terrifying thoroughness, though it only starts at C-cup. (NSFW)

Techonomics: Hydraulic model of economy.

Milgram experimentee speaks (MeFi).

From the Xtian parallel universe: Bibleman vs. doubt (quotes, WP).

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Henry IV pt I by Herring (4.00 / 3) #1 Sat May 10, 2008 at 05:13:09 AM EST
I did that for O Level (yes, I am that old) - but I wont give away the ending. Still quite like it. Must see the sequel sometime.

Makes me wonder how the modern media would take it today - the Hal character going from clubbing drunkard to Henry V. Maybe we shall find out in a few years. Also, I think it's about time we had another war against the French.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

I'm hoping Boris Johnson can do a Prince Hal by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #2 Sat May 10, 2008 at 05:58:39 AM EST
I think the media are happy with a transformation like that at first. But they get bored pretty quickly and will have to turn Henry V into Richard III or someone later on.
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
We tried that by ucblockhead (4.00 / 2) #3 Sat May 10, 2008 at 06:00:20 AM EST
We tried that here in the US but in our version, the clubbing drunkard turned into a bumbling incompetent.
[ucblockhead is] useless and subhuman
[ Parent ]
We few, we happy few by Herring (4.00 / 3) #4 Sat May 10, 2008 at 09:00:54 AM EST
we band of bunglers.

You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
Not so good on other categories. by Billy Goat (4.00 / 3) #5 Sat May 10, 2008 at 02:15:54 PM EST
Boobpedia has, for example, the Mexican Salma Hayek listed under the category Middle Eastern. Think of the frustration poor race fetishists will have. Won't somebody please think of the race fetishists!

The Hydraulic economy machine is great by Scrymarch (4.00 / 1) #6 Sat May 10, 2008 at 05:00:04 PM EST
I didn't realise there was a working version around, I've only seen the one at the Science Museum (which has a video of it working).

The Political Science Department of the University of Woolloomooloo

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