I mentioned a bunch of stuff I didn't have time to elaborate on in the previous post. Obviously I have a duty to do them justice before I get into this week's business.
Firstly, Stephen Fry and the Gutenburg Printing Press. I loved the description of the Rhine Valley as "Silicon Valley" circa 1500. His delivery was light, but not played for laughs. It was a great walkthrough of what was needed to make the printing press happen. The rediscovery of paper for a start. And it took a breakthrough in moulding and a year's effort to make the letters.
And as for the double-helix wooden screw ... a work of genius, flawlessly executed. I'm in awe of the mind that could visualise such a thing and have the skill to make one without computerised lathes and laser cutters.
Watching those craftsmen making a working replica of the press gave me the distinct impression that I would have been a total liability in the 16th century. I'm certain that myself, Mrs Stan and Stanetta would be crouching in a muddy field eating raw turnip if we had to survive on what I could made with my hands.
16th century - badly coordinated klutz = muddy peasant eating turnip
21st century - badly coordinated klutz = well-paid Geek blogging in suburbia
26th century - badly coordinated klutz = anyone's guess
Now for "Waiting for the Guards" on the Amnesty International website.
Never, ever will you think again that "stress positions" are a mild and civilised form of persuasion.
Amnesty took a performance artist and simulated the kind of treatment permissible by the official US guidelines on such things - the guidelines that tend to be used as toilet paper during the perpetual war-on-terror.
I was reminded a little of the knees-bent exercises people do when they're getting ready for a ski-ing holiday. It can start to hurt after a while, but you stop when it aches a bit. The film shows what happens if you're forced into a position where you're not allowed to stop.
The guy is stood on a shaky cardboard box, his hands cuffed behind his back and a bag over his head.
It obviously hurts - even though the guy is an actor who could stretch between takes and who knows he's going home at the end of the day. He isn't shell-shocked from the capture and the "special rendition". He isn't sleep-deprived and frightened for the safety of people he cares about.
You feel anyone would say anything just to make the pain stop, and that makes evidence extracted through torture totally meaningless. And it should be stopped and we shouldn't let our governments get away with it. I don't care if the means is subtle and the end is justified -noone benefits from treating people like this.
Cripes - that was a long rant : "Mad Men" and "Humphrey Littleton" will have to wait for another time. Although I might get distracted - local election day tomorrow.