February 27th, 2011


February Books 21) Scott Pilgrim's Finest Hour, by Bryan Lee O'Malley

So we reach the end of the Scott Pilgrim saga, with Scott doing battle against the last of Ramona's evil ex-boyfriends, this time the sinister Gideon, who keeps his ex-girlfriends in cryogenic storage inside his head. O'Malley is much more explicit here that the whole series is about how we come to grips with the demons of our own personal past; Scott and Ramona confront and defeat them (after deadly and literally heart-rending struggle, told through the medium of comic-book adaptation of video-games), Gideon is unable to move on and loses. Many good lines, of which my favourite is where Scott says to Ramona, "Things can't be the same, can they?" and she replies, "Dude, things never were the same. Change is... it's what we get." A really heart-warming and memorable conclusion to an excellent series.

Right, must watch the film next.
doctor who

Doctor Who Rewatch: 18

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Graham Williams' three seasons end here. He obviously had serious problems in terms of money disappearing down the drain with inflation, the unions making filming difficult (and actually killing off his last story), and his inability to control Tom Baker. One also feels that he did not have Philip Hinchcliffe's commitment to making it look good - this comes across particularly in his last two broadcast stories - and the introduction of K9 is not perhaps Who's greatest moment. But he did work with three excellent script editors, the great Robert Holmes, the underrated Anthony Read and the celebrated Douglas Adams; it's a shame that he wasn't quite able to get better results out of them.

Well, that takes us to 72% of total Old Who minutes, 71% of all Old Who episodes, 68% of all Old Who stories, and 59% of time elapsed from 23 November 1963 to 6 December 1989. Next up is most of the last Tom Baker season.

< An Unearthly Child - The Aztecs | The Sensorites - The Romans | The Web Planet - Galaxy 4 | Mission To The Unknown - The Gunfighters | The Savages - The Highlanders | The Underwater Menace - Tomb of the Cybermen | The Abominable Snowmen - The Wheel In Space | The Dominators - The Space Pirates | The War Games - Terror of the Autons | The Mind of Evil - The Curse of Peladon | The Sea Devils - Frontier in Space | Planet of the Daleks - The Monster of Peladon | Planet of the Spiders - Revenge of the Cybermen | Terror of the Zygons - The Seeds of Doom | The Masque of Mandragora - The Talons of Weng-Chiang | Horror of Fang Rock - The Invasion of Time | The Ribos Operation - The Armageddon Factor | Destiny of the Daleks - Shada | The Leisure Hive - The Keeper of Traken | Logopolis - The Visitation | Black Orchid - Mawdryn Undead | Terminus - The Awakening | Frontios - Attack of the Cybermen | Vengeance on Varos - In A Fix With Sontarans | The Mysterious Planet - Paradise Towers | Delta and the Bannermen - The Greatest Show in the Galaxy | Battlefield - The TV Movie >

Gibbon Chapter XLIV: Justinian V - his legal legacy


The (almost) final countdown #GE11

Full results, as far as we can tell at this stage (differences from my predictions of yesterday are in bold; cf also my predictions of Friday). NB that four seats are still counting. Apologies for length, but this is dramatic stuff.

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Well, extraordinary times. Yesterday I thought that my Friday prediction of 21 FF seats was four too low; now it seems it may have been three too high. I suppose I was braced for a certain amount of transfer toxicity in that supporters of other parties would be unlikely to give lower preferences to Fianna Fáil; I wasn't, however, expecting that supporters of FF candidates would fail quite so dramatically to transfer to their running-mates. So FG get one more seat, and two more for each of Labour, SF and independents on that basis, counting from my reading of the first preferences.

On top of that, Labour are far more transfer-friendly than I expected. As well as the two seats that I though FF would win yesterday, I give them one that I had previously awarded to SF and two that I thought would go to Independents. Finally, SF screwed up in Cavan-Monaghan, giving the well-balanced FG team a third seat, but seem likely to take the spot I thought would go to an independent in Wicklow.

This is an appalling election for Fianna Fáil. In the three contested elections of the 1920s they or their prdecessors were scoring in the mid-20s, in terms of percentage of votes cast. Since they first got into government, then they had dipped just below the 40% mark in the two 1990s elections. To go not just below 40% but below 20% is very hard. What's even worse is that on the face of it their vote share should have got them 28 or 29 seats. But as I warned, the combination of transfer toxicity from other parties and failure to even keep their own candidates' votes within the party has exacerbated the meltdown by losing a third of the seats they should have won even after losing more than half of their votes. I don't like FF, and I have never liked them, but I am human enough to sympathise with the party activists surveying the ruins this evening.

The FG vote share was exceeded by Garret in the three early 1980s elections, though he never managed to translate it into seats to the same extent. (1981: 65 seats on 36.5%, Feb '82: 63 seats on 37.3%, Nov '82: 70 seats on 39.2%.) The party's predecessors also got a slightly higher vote share in the peculiar circumstances of 1922 and 1923. As noted above, Enda Kenny's performance in winning four out of five seats in Mayo is unprecedented in the 26 counties. (Up North, we have had a few similar cases - SF currently hold five out of six Assembly seats in West Belfast, and five out of five Belfast City Council seats on the Lower Falls.) They have enjoyed an unprecedented seat bonus as well; that vote share should get you 60 seats, not 76! And it has been through judgement as well as luck - look at the careful balancing of their candidates in the constituencies where they have won most seats.

Labour got 19.4% of first preferences to FF's 17.4%, but will likely end up with literally twice as many TDs. This is extraordinary and demonstrates both the general hostility of the country to the former natural party of government, and the way in which Labour managed to position themselves successfully as everyone's second-best option. In 1992 they got a slightly higher vote share (19.8%) but only 33 seats; they already have 35 now and I think get three more (Wicklow, Galway East and Laois-Offaly; in the fourth remaining constituency they already have their seat). Their vote share would give them only 32 rather than 38.

SF, interestingly, benefited in a couple of cases from FF's transfer toxicity but in general end up behind - on that vote share they should expect 16 seats rather than 14. So it would seem that if FF is not in the equation, people who are not already converted to giving SF their #1 find it difficult to give them a lower preference. My expectation is that Adams will flounder in the Dáil. He is an unimpressive public performer, and is out of his depth in Southern politics.

As for the Greens, I have absolutely no sympathy. They went into the 2007 election with three specific pledges (stop the Corrib oil refinery, rerouting the Tara motorway, and stopping the USAF using Shannon airport). I am uninformed about the merits of any of these policy issues, but I think that if you have three specific policies, and then you go into government and fail to achieve any of them, you should expect electoral annihilation, because voters are not idiots, and are not really interested in the theological question of whether you are a knave or a fool.

The Independents got a vote share sufficient for 21 seats, but will win only 19; however since that is essentially the result of two dozen separate races it's difficult to read much into it (and I have made no attempt to disaggregate the leftish independents from the rest). But if I were FG I would look quite carefully at the option of locking in seven or eight or nine independents to form a single party government, rather than share the spoils from the best election result in 88 years with the resurgent Labour Party.

Anyway, more fun to come as they try to cobble together an administration!