Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Flu diversions

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  • Rich of Observationz,

    I loved "Survivors" as a kid. It inspired a Stranglers lyric in the song "Down in the Sewer":

    gonna make love to a water-rat over there.
    and raise a family.
    and we'll become the survivors.
    ya know why?
    coz we're gonna survive
    see you in the sewer darling

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 4413 posts Report Reply

  • James Harton,

    I'm going to give it a go. There seems to be plenty of well seeded torrents floating around internet. I'm too young to have seen the original, do you guys think it's necessary to watch the older one to really appreciate the new one? Personally, I think anything with Freema in it will make me go squee regardless.

    A remake of DTESS just sounds terrible. It's a pity it's not more like the Logan's Run remake which has had so many changes of director and screenwriter that it looks hopeful it'll never be made.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2007 • 51 posts Report Reply

  • Jose Barbosa,

    I recently watched The Incredible Shrinking Man from 1957.

    99 percent of it is a domestic procedural about a dude getting smaller (male disfranchisement?) until the last minute when the guy shrinks so much he becomes one with the universe.

    Awesome spider fight too.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 64 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn,

    Now, I'm not a doctor, but the consensus seems to be that the body really doesn't like big changes in stress levels, either up or down. So if you've been slowly building up to a big deadline then sure, the sudden stop is going to be a shock to the system.

    Since Nov 2008 • 1 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    Or, rather, someone who can verify the widely-held belief that if you're busy, your body will hold off getting sick until you ease up?

    There was an episode of something (__Grey's Anatomy__?) where a person with massive internal injuries only had them go off (cardiac arrest etc.) when they were put in a CAT scan. His adrenalin had kept him going, but lying still for the scan turned that tap off.

    Makes sense to me anyway ... though the overall effect of not letting your body fix itself at the earliest opportunity might not be great.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 2991 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    I'm going to give it a go. There seems to be plenty of well seeded torrents floating around internet. I'm too young to have seen the original, do you guys think it's necessary to watch the older one to really appreciate the new one?

    I think it would add to the experience, but isn't strictly necessary. The original is available on DVD though -- and, as I said, you only really need to bother with the excellent first series.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18663 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    But there's a pretty clear steer at the end of the première that this is no mere mutation, but a human folly -- which I personally found a bit depressing.

    I thought it was one hell of a cop out, actually. Has Adrian Hodges not read The Stand (where 'Captain Tripps' is the result of a military experiment gone boink), or 28 Days Later (where the 'Rage Virus' is unleashed on England's green and pleasant land by animal rights activists) or... pretty much every damn viral apocalypse ever jacked into the pop cult neo-cortex.

    Still, nice to see that one rather high profile cast member got wiped out in short order -- though it shouldn't have been any surprise considering the actor concerned had (and apparently will have for the foreseeable future) a very full dance card.

    And while 70's Britain may have been the place and time taste forgot, you've got to love the way Terry Nation could come up with these bitterly misanthropic -- and vastly misanthropic concepts. The first episode of Survivors ends up with our Home Counties hausfrau torching her stockbroker Mock Tutor pile with hubby's corpse inside. And who could forget that the eponymous hero of Blake's 7 isn't only send to the prison planet from hell for a crime he didn't commit. He's fitted up as a serial child molester.

    Hodges may say he thinks his version of Survivors is fundamentally optimistic about human nature. Nation walked because he thought civilization was being re-established a little too painlessly to be real.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11855 posts Report Reply

  • Tom Ackroyd,

    Poneke's a bit partial to the purple prose, isn't he?

    Truly is the LHC project the greatest scientific experiment in all of human history, and how fantastic we are alive to experience it.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 155 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    Oh, and thanks to the horribly tangled rights around the show the 're-boot' isn't a remake of the original show. The BBC purchased from Terry Nation's estate the rights to the newly back in-print "novelization" he wrote based on some of his first series scripts -- with a radically different ending, where Abby Grant finds her son, who promptly kills her. Which must have a been a satisfying "fuck you" for Nation to write, but Hodges has been at pains to assure people that matricidal teens is a down-beat too far.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11855 posts Report Reply

  • Emma Hart,

    Is there a doctor in the house? Or, rather, someone who can verify the widely-held belief that if you're busy, your body will hold off getting sick until you ease up?

    I can bring you an anecdoctor. I have a friend who's a teacher. She always gets sick in the holidays, particularly the holidays after the winter term. As a stay-at-home parent, I get sick as soon as the kids go back to school in February.

    But I suspect the high anecincidence of this phenomenon might be down to Annoyance Bias.

    Christchurch • Since Nov 2006 • 4335 posts Report Reply

  • Jan Farr,

    Russell - just testing out my new lack of anonymity - thanks for that! I hope you're feeling better. I'm sure bodies hold it all together during the tough times and wimp out when they can. My bloke always gets sick on the first day of our holiday. Now I'm inspired to chase up all those movies I never saw. However, I might need to catch the flu to make the time!

    Carterton • Since Apr 2008 • 394 posts Report Reply

  • Sam F,

    Another anecdote: I regularly come down with terrible flus in autumn, which persist for weeks (thank the gods for my convoluted sinuses). However, this year I somehow managed to stay well over the last stressful month of my MA thesis, until I handed it in in April - and then promptly got laid out in a sniffling heap.

    I noted precisely the same phenomenon around essay hand-in times and exam periods over the previous five years. So I'm a believer.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1549 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie,

    Poneke's a bit partial to the purple prose, isn't he?

    Truly is the LHC project the greatest scientific experiment in all of human history, and how fantastic we are alive to experience it.

    No idea what the C stands for, but the LH likely stands for Lower Hutt, and it'll be about some grand scheme to bring trolley buses to the benighted northern lowlands. Surely there are far worse things to be than the poet laureate of public transport.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3357 posts Report Reply

  • Danielle,

    I recently watched The Incredible Shrinking Man from 1957.

    During my long-abandoned US PhD study, I did a class called 'Nuclear Film'. It was amazing how many of those scifi classics reflected apocalyptic Cold War anxieties. If it wasn't 'OMG Teh Commies Will Brainwash You' (__Invasion of the Body Snatchers__), it was 'OMG Teh Radiation Will Mutate Things and We Will All Die' (__Them!__). Sometimes a combination of the two.

    (It's really weird to have femme fatale stuff likened to nuclear bombs, too. The bikini is a totally crazy name for a bathing suit, when you think about it.)

    Charo World. Cuchi-cuchi!… • Since Nov 2006 • 3624 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    And a question for the group: Don't you think it's a wee bit arrogant to assume that the human race couldn't be wiped out by a virus without our help? The Bubonic Plague took a good hack at Europe in the middle of the 12th century; and the so-called Spanish Flu did even better 560 years later. And that was in the age of sail and steam, when it took weeks to travel from Auckland to London -- not hours.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11855 posts Report Reply

  • Geoff Lealand,

    Russell--You gave few signs of impending lurge during the Media 7 taping on Friday. I think it was a good discussion but some might think less of Simon Pound's delightfully disrespectful piece on the SPADA conference.

    Did you get to my "Saturday Night At The Movies" pitch for The Big Pitch? People said it was a programme they 'would watch' but I am not sure what I will do with it next.

    Remakes, eh? I still maintain that the 1955 original of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers is the very best, in terms of capturing deep anxieties about loss of identity and self (+ a political sub-text).

    I am currently much-exercised currently about a TV3 promo I saw a couple of nights ago--a TV3 journo waxing on how wonderful the Sensible Sentencing lot are. Makes it all rather transparent, really--as well as demonstrating how naive some journos are.

    Screen & Media Studies, U… • Since Oct 2007 • 2283 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Hosking,

    Seventies Sci Fi - the only one I remember enjoying was Timeslip, which was a children's sci fi early 70s. Anyone else remember that? Two kids, a boy and a girl, found a hole in a fence which turned out to be a door into other times. The first one took them back to WW2: another was to the future which was either frozen or globally warmed. The girl met herself later in life.

    I'm another 'fall over first day of the holiday' sufferer. Usually a massive migraine. Its as if the body goes 'OK mate, catch up time!!'

    Except when I go tramping, funnily enough.

    A friend has recommended taking feverfew the week beforehand - tried it last break and it seemed to help.

    South Roseneath • Since Nov 2006 • 802 posts Report Reply

  • Roger,

    And a question for the group: Don't you think it's a wee bit arrogant to assume that the human race couldn't be wiped out by a virus without our help?

    Natural viruses, like all living things evolve (if you go in for that sort of thing)... and any virus that kills 100% of its hosts does not have a big future! An artificial or created virus may not suffer from this evolutionary restriction?

    Auckland • Since Jun 2007 • 173 posts Report Reply

  • JackElder,

    the Logan's Run remake which has had so many changes of director and screenwriter that it looks hopeful it'll never be made.

    Now, a remake of Logan's Run I'd go for. The original book (yes, there was a book) was great - contrasting the supposed wide-open nature of a world where everyone can go anywhere they want and do pretty much anything, with the claustrophobia of them then being killed at age 21. Moving the age from 21 to 30 is just one of the many mistakes the movie made. Brilliant 70s "fear of the young" stuff.

    Wellington • Since Mar 2008 • 708 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson,

    I went on holiday 2 weeks ago and have been sick as a dog ever since. But I put it down the shocking stress of budget air travel when you have a small child in tow.

    Heh, can't wait to see what this Hadron collider comes up with. That's the beauty of science - you really can't predict the outcome of experiments. There would be no point doing them if you could. It could be one giant "no, that ain't it" moment.

    It is astonishing how expensive it is to do theoretical physics now, though. I guess everything that can be found cheaply already has been, there's probably any number of economic theories which would predict that. I can't help but feel that it signifies a 'degenerating research program' when the costs of progress continue to mount and mount astronomically. But then again, science doesn't work on timetables. Maybe they do their wicked Hadron collision and hundreds of applications suddenly flow out of the observed results, creating technological revolutions unforeseen for humanity. Maybe. We'll see. Maybe it costs billions and points out another dead end.

    Physics has long since gone past the point where laypeople can understand what it is they are paying the scientists to discover for them. I've heard several physicists that I know personally say that even with their years of training and experimentation, they don't really understand quantum physics, and that probably only a handful of people do. I guess once the formulae get too complex, 'understanding' it is not really possible in the sense we expect.

    I have experienced the same thing in my own work. As a programmer, you build machines that steadily mount in complexity. I can honestly say that I do not understand most of the code I have written now. The best I can say is that I can probably find out how any particular piece works faster than anyone else, but I simply can't keep a detailed knowledge of how it all works in my head. There is just too much of it. And the same goes for the 'world body' of computer code. Probably something like 90% of it is not understood by anyone (although it would have been understood whilst it was being written). It's become like a 'subconcious', the machinery that you expect to work for you, without really knowing how, within your own brain.

    Which kind of points to science steadily becoming knowledge that is not really held by humans. Humans will drive it, but no human will ever get more than a tiny fraction of it. As a body of knowledge, it has transcended humanity already. A great deal of it is just lying there in records, or databases, or algorithms, any of which can be understood, but never the whole lot.

    It has, of course, been this way for a long time, ever since records have been kept of anything, but I think the modern world has seen an explosion of it, that dwarfs the totally of the phenomenon previously.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8305 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia,

    If it wasn't 'OMG Teh Commies Will Brainwash You' (Invasion of the Body Snatchers)

    I've always found that a rather odd reading, because it could also be read as __The Man In The Grey Flannel Suit__ or __The Lonely Crowd__ given a paranoid gloss. The pod people aren't a clearly visible "other" at all; they look like Uncle Ira, they sound like Uncle Ira, they even have the same scar on the back of the neck but... there's something missing. Which sounds like the soul-killing effect of being a consumerist cog in the military-industrial complex, don't you think?

    Then again, everyone involved in the movie seemed somewhat bemused -- in a "this cigar is just a cigar, and not a phallic symbol" kind of way -- at any sociopolitical subtext being written into what they thought was a rather nifty B-movie.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11855 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    It's all to do with the difference between acute and chronic stress and how your immune system reacts to them. When we encounter an acute stress, like say moving house, then our immune systems ramp up in response, so we fight bugs better (it's also why being fit is good for your health). However if the stress continues for too long (or you over train) then the immune system can't sustain the effort and actually declines. So that is why you get the phenomenon of going through stressful period and then when it ends and you relax, blam you get bug, because your super immune system just lost its stimulus and either the virus you were keeping under control got away or one of the many floating around finally found you a less hostile home.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • Ben Chapman,

    During my long-abandoned US PhD study, I did a class called 'Nuclear Film'. It was amazing how many of those scifi classics reflected apocalyptic Cold War anxieties. If it wasn't 'OMG Teh Commies Will Brainwash You' (Invasion of the Body Snatchers), it was 'OMG Teh Radiation Will Mutate Things and We Will All Die' (Them!). Sometimes a combination of the two.

    I read a great critique of Plan 9 from Outer Space that suggested the awfulness of the movie was just a ploy to sneak its subversive message past the censors. And you do have to wonder how it is that a movie so incompetent in so many ways could actually have a coherent point:

    **Jeff Trent:** So what if we do develop this Solanite bomb? We'd be even a stronger nation than now.
    Eros: [with disgust] Stronger. You see? You see? Your stupid minds! Stupid! Stupid!
    Jeff Trent: That's all I'm taking from you!
    [pistol-whips Eros upside the head]

    Wellington • Since Nov 2008 • 132 posts Report Reply

  • Hadyn Green,

    I love the old sci-fi stuff. Though, like Russell, we only saw The Day the Earth Stood Still recently (but it's poster adorned my bedroom wall for much of my childhood).

    Obvious statement follows: The very best sci-fi has a resonance with the culture at the time. Hence Godzilla was huge (boom boom) because he was born of the atomic bomb in Japan. Invasion of the Body Snatchers literally put the invading faceless communist reds under your bed (and in a pod).

    Remakes tend to miss this and the vibe isn't right, and I don't hold any hope for Keanu Klaatu. (And there will be a lot of yelling from my corner if they remove the "Klaatu berada nikto"!)

    On a side note: the entire Plan 9 from Outer Space is on Google Video.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2081 posts Report Reply

  • Kebabette,

    Survivors is essential viewing, we watched it last year on a dystopian movie jag (Alice in Videoland in Christchurch has all 3 series on dvd.

    If you want an excellent post apocalyptic novel, try The Carhullan Army by Sarah Hall. I interviewed her at the Auckland Writers and Readers festival:

    British sci fi acknowledges very well that the problems we face are created by us and you end up having to face a problem that you've created yourself. Climate change would fall into that category. I do like a lot of those old British sci fi things like Day of the Triffids - you get all these weird happenings but at the same time very English, flat caps and a pint in the pub.There's always a sense of tradition."

    Christchurch • Since Feb 2007 • 186 posts Report Reply

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