David Tennant was hot ten years ago. And still. Yes. Still.

I don’t watch a lot of TV. As a result, I missed Doctor Who. It just passed me by. I heard about it, of course, and occasionally thought it might be worth watching, but I just never got around to it. Then I heard that some wonderfully hot guy was going to be playing The Doctor: David Tennant. My response? ‘You mean Campbell from Takin’ Over The Aslyum?’

As far as I can recall, Campbell was my first crush, in the mid-90s. A personable but completely mad resident of an insane asylum in Scotland. What’s not to love? It was something of a surprise to me to learn that the actor had become fashionable sometime around 2005. Me, like something cool, before it was cool? How hipster of me. I admit, by the time everyone else was obsessed with him, I was totally over him.

But recently, I finally got around to buying Doctor Who on DVD. Series two, the first with Tennant as The Doctor. Oh dear, my crush has returned, with a vengeance! I shall have to buy series three…

Respect for the enemy

I was watching Q&A the other night. It’s a show I watch rarely, but enjoy when I do. On the panel on this particular occasion were, along with others, Catherine Deveny and Archbishop Peter Jensen.

If you know me at all, you’ll know that I agree with most of Catherine Deveny’s views on most social matters. She is in favour of gay marriage, she’s all for equal rights, feminism, and so on. And, of course, I disagree with virtually everything the Archbishop believes. God, the Bible, and all that goes with it.

So I was rather surprised to find myself respecting Jensen while getting very frustrated at Catherine while watching them ‘debate’ on Q&A. Jensen puts his views forward in an eloquent and dispassionate way, he says that he seeks out intelligent and unemotional discussion, he claims to want to know more facts about a great many contentious issues. He was also courteous towards the other panel members.

Catherine, on the other hand, laid on the sarcasm like it was going out of style, and employed rhetoric to a similar degree. She did not show herself willing to articulate her arguments, relying instead on mocking the points of others. She interrupted other speakers to push her agenda, and failed to keep her answers relevant to the questions. Despite holding very valid views, she utterly failed to articulate why she held them, or why anybody else should agree with her, which seems to me the entire point of a debate.

So, contrary as it might sound, I now have a great deal more respect for a prominent member of ‘the enemy’ than I do for a prominent person from ‘my side’. Fortunately I can see the difference between respect and like, so I don’t have a problem with this, but from comments I’ve read about the Q&A show and about these speakers specifically, other people see my stance as a sort of betrayal; it seems the public will not permit me to hold a positive view of one aspect of a person while maintaining a negative view of another aspect. Too bad, I say, that is how I feel!

On quotes

Throughout history there have been many memorable people who have done, believed, and said many memorable things. The passage of time removes context and intent, and we are left with quotes.

Quotes are pulled out willy-nilly by all and sundry, from prominent politicians to youtube commenters, and are used to explain or justify anything at all. They are often used in a fragmentary form, or with a word or two changed, or simply in context not originally intended, and these factors can change the meaning or implication of the quote.

And yet we still treat quotes like authorities. If somebody famous said it, and it has been remembered for so long, we seem to reason, it must be right. Never mind that somebody equally famous said something entirely contradictory!

But it makes life easier. If we are quoting somebody, we don’t need to think. A quote is a short-cut going straight from premise to conclusion, bypassing explanation. It is a replacement of reason and critical analysis.

When presenting an argument or a point of view, do try to make it your own. Justify yourself in your own words. It will gain you more respect, and will demonstrate that you’ve really thought about what you’re saying. It will also hold more relevance for your topic and circumstances.

Always remember that Gurdjieff said, ‘You must go on trying to be sincere.’ But Lowell said, ‘Sincerity is impossible.’

And you can quote me.

Bert and Ernie to marry?

A gay rights group is currently collecting signatures on a petition that requests Sesame Street characters Bert and Ernie tie the knot!

From the outset, I want to make it clear that I completely support the right of gay couples to marry and have full equality with heterosexual couples.

But marrying Bert and Ernie? I’m not even sure where to start in listing my problems with this.

For starters, B & E have never exhibited any overt signs of being gay. Their behaviour and interactions lead some to believe they’re best friends, some believe they’re brothers, and others think they’re just house-mates. It might be different if they had ever been shown sharing a bed, or holding hands, or partaking in any of the usual behaviours of pre-marital couples. But they haven’t.

Secondly, if they did get married, it would be for all the wrong reasons. As outlined above, there’s no evidence that they are in love, and so the wedding would be a politically-motivated statement rather than a genuine celebration of a dedicated life-long partnership. That’s not a great example for the kids.

Thirdly, why take a long-standing arrangement which is obviously working (for B & E, for the viewers, for the ratings) and change it? Marrying B & E would change their entire vibe, changing Sesame Street itself, not necessarily for the better. It could easily make long-term viewers, who haven’t previously seen B & E as being gay, feel uncomfortable – even those in favour of gay marriage in general.

A more effective move, I feel, would be to introduce new characters on the Street who are already a gay couple. It doesn’t need to be a big deal, and can be dealt with subtly and effectively in a similar manner to what Playschool did a while back. Admittedly that stirred up some controversy, but I’m pretty sure that was mostly media-driven to sell more papers.

And so I say, leave Bert and Ernie alone! They are innocent victims of an over-zealous socio-political movement which, if successful, may even alienate more people than it wins over. Let them continue to live in harmony (or lack thereof, their conflicts being the basis of most skits) as besties, roomies, or brothers.

Aggressive Marketing Campaigns, or, Where companies are going wrong

We all know, and for the most part accept, that marketing and advertising play a very large part of the world we live in. They are omnipresent, and as such it becomes easy to tune out, to not see them. And so marketing companies adopt ever more aggressive, offensive, or bizarre  methods of getting your attention and getting their message across.

However lately I feel that a line has been crossed. I find myself consciously rebelling against and rejecting companies I feel have impinged just a little bit too much upon my convenience.

TRUenergy is one prime example. For those readers who are not familiar with the company, it is a gas and electricity retailer, and that is all. Nothing fancy or unusual. In recent months they have been campaigning in my area for new customers, and as part of that I’ve had multiple door-to-door sales people visit me. That, in itself, is not a problem. I’ve been a door-to-door sales person myself, it’s just one of the many jobs you take to get you by. However, when those people begin to either outright lie or subtly mislead their clientèle, a line has most definitely been crossed.

“I’m from your gas company,” says the young man standing at my door. “I’m here to tell you about some great new deals we’ve got.”

It takes several attempts and repetitions of “Exactly which company are you from?” to elicit from him that he is from TRUenergy, which is not a good start. I then assert, correctly, that TRUenergy is not my current gas retailer. “No no,” he insists, “We cover all of this area.” So now, at best I am being mislead, and at worst I am being insulted and called stupid, as if I do not know who I pay my bills to. On one occasion, I was even told that TRUenergy actually own the company I am with, which is blatantly untrue.

The idea behind it all, naturally, is to convince you that even though his company name is different from the one currently billing you, “Nothing will change, you will just get this new deal.” Insofar as I will still have gas connected to my home, that is true. But, lacking any actual problems with my current gas retailer, I have no incentive to change, particularly not to a company who have just tried to trick me into doing so. It would involve the provision of all of my details, setting up new billers in my netbanking environment, and very probably entering into a twelve or twenty-four month contract. All that, for very little noticeable benefit, to be the customer of a company with questionable morals. I’m quite happy with the company who leave me alone, thank you.

In short, TRUenergy’s tactics have actively put me off ever choosing to go with that company, regardless of rates or deals.

My next target is Emirates, who are currently trying to convince me (via theage.com.au) to fly to New Zealand. That’s all well and good, and their sidebar advertisement is fine. However, should I let my mouse cursor hover over said ad, it expands and pops out over the article I am attempting to read. There is a close button, however mis-timing the click can result in being taken to the Emirates website instead of closing the pop-out. And, once closed, it does not stay closed; it will pop out again next time my mouse inadvertently strays to that side of the page. How annoying. I wasn’t looking at flying any time soon, but should I consider it, Emirates will be low on the list of options.

Next! ANZ! A bank, what an easy target in these times of economic hardship! ANZ recently had a campaign going which is now finished and I still have no idea what they were on about. In the TV ad, a supposed ANZ representative presented an award of some sort to the wrong person, which just makes me think they’re incompetent. Their internet-based advertising was another of the “pop up and take up the entire screen, blocking out what you’re trying to see” variety, which I find frustrating at the best of times. It is only made worse by the lack of coherent message or any useful information.

My very last gripe for the day is one which I have blogged about before. That specific blog deals with an ad for a Ford Fiesta Zetec, and the complete lack of meaning in their catchphrase “Life’s better connnected.” However similar senseless, meaningless advertisements crop up all the time, everywhere, and it irritates me. Tell me something about your product, something useful, something I may actually want to know if considering a purchase – such as price, accessibility, appropriateness for my circumstances. Telling me that life is better connected (than what?) is a sure-fire way to make me wrinkle my forehead in confusion and immediately forget your product.

Thank you, that is all.