What was the best ever romantic comedy?

August 24th, 2016 by Roger Darlington

I’ve recently watched a Channel Four documentary called “There’s Something About Romcoms” which reviewed some of the best romantic comedies of the last 30 years. The starting point for the programme was the 1989 movie “When Harry Met Sally …” I just loved this film and you can read my review of it here.

Posted in Cultural issues | Comments (2)

I’m a granddad again and I couldn’t be prouder

August 23rd, 2016 by Roger Darlington

Regular visitors to NightHawk will be aware that I have a granddaughter called Catrin whom I used to see about once a week until a year ago when her parents relocated to Nairobi. She’s now five and a half and I’ve blogged a lot about my time with her and our conversations together (just click here).

Well, at 9.30 pm local time last night, I became the proud grandfather of a second granddaughter born to my son Richard and daughter-in-law Emily in Nairobi. Mother and child are both doing well and the baby weighed in at 7lb/3.4kg.

Granddaughter No 2 has a great name: Kara Jo Darlington.

The Kara name comes from Thomas Sankara who was a Burkinabé military captain, Marxist revolutionary, pan-Africanist theorist, and President of Burkina Faso from 1983 to 1987. Viewed by supporters as a charismatic and iconic figure of revolution, he is commonly referred to as “Africa’s Che Guevara”.

The Jo name refers to Joanne Cox who was the British Labour Party Member of Parliament for the Batley and Spen constituency from her election in May 2015 until her brutal killing on 16 June 2016.  Emily – who was a Labour Party candidate in the same General Election – knew Jo well and was one of the organisers of and speakers at a commemorative ceremony in Nairobi.

So, as Kara Jo grows up, we will always remember when and where she was born.

I try to make  a Skype call to the family in Nairobi each week and I hope that this week I’ll see Kara as well as Catrin and then in October I’ll be going over there for the week of Catrin’s half term. I’m so proud of them all and will be so excited at seeing them all.

Posted in My life & thoughts | Comments (1)

15 of the funniest jokes from the Edinburgh Festival

August 23rd, 2016 by Roger Darlington

Like a laugh? Not going to the Edinburgh Festival? Never fear – thanks to the “Guardian” newspaper, we have a compilation of 15 of the funniest jokes right here.

Posted in Miscellaneous | Comments (0)

I’ve voted in the Labour Party leadership election

August 22nd, 2016 by Roger Darlington

Voting in the Labour Party leadership election opened today. I voted online today.

In the last leadership election, Jeremy Corbyn was bottom of my list and his time as leader has confirmed my worst anxieties. He simply cannot lead: his chairing of the Shadow Cabinet is appalling; he has lost the confidence of 80% of the Parliamentary Labour Party; his performance in the House of Commons is lacklustre; and his campaigning in the EU referendum vote was half-hearted.

Corbyn is a decent man but fundamentally he is not interested in, or capable of, being Prime Minister. He sees politics as about protest rather than power. The electorate know this which is why Labour is doing terribly in the polls and Corbyn’s standing is the lowest of any Labour leader ever.

I’ve been a member of the Labour Party 47 years and I’ve never been in such despair about the future of the Party and our capacity to be the force for the creation of a fairer society. All of which puts me in the camp of ABC (Anyone But Corbyn). I’d never heard of Owen Smith a year ago, but his politics are both radical and realistic and he understands the compelling need to make the Labour Party fit for government. I’ve given him my vote.

Posted in British current affairs | Comments (0)

Word of the day: firenado

August 22nd, 2016 by Roger Darlington

A firenado is a torrent of wind and flame that burns at extreme temperatures. Such whirlwinds form when a fire heats air above it and pulls in cool air at its base, creating a self-sustaining vortex.

The most likely location for such a terrifying phenomenon is the United States and Australia and, in the last few days, there have been some extremely large firenadoes in California.

More information here.

Posted in Cultural issues | Comments (0)

U.S. presidential election (32): what happens if Trump implodes?

August 21st, 2016 by Roger Darlington

Since Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump insulted the Muslim parents of a soldier killed in Iraq, his ratings have plummeted. He continues to make statements that confuse and denigrate and outrage. He has changed the leadership of his campaign yet again.

What would happen if Trump pulled out? This is still highly unlikely and, for supporters of the Democrats (like me), probably undesirable. But, if it happens, it is not simply a case of vice-presidential candidate Mike Pence taking over.

As this piece explains:

“Rule 9 of the Republican National Committee rules governs “Filling Vacancies in Nominations,” and stipulates that should the party’s presidential or vice presidential candidate leave the ticket for whatever reason, the hole may be filled either by a reconvening of the national convention or by the party committee itself. The vice presidential nominee is not given any preferential consideration.

Should the committee elect to fill the vacancy — a seemingly more likely scenario given the logistics involved in organizing a second convention — Republican National Committee members representing a given state are entitled to cast the same number of votes as that state was entitled to at the convention. If the RNC members from any state are not in agreement about casting of their votes, the votes of that state are divided equally among members of the RNC voting.

The final stipulation of the rule is that no candidate may be chosen to fill a vacancy except by receiving a majority of the votes entitled to be cast in the RNC election.”

If, as seems likely, Trump remains as candidate and resists his advisers’ efforts to persuade him to moderate his language and style, he could so tarnish the Republican brand that Democrats might do so well in the Congressional elections that President Hillary Clinton has more scope for meaningful change.

Posted in American current affairs | Comments (0)

A review of the movie “Me And Earl And The Dying Girl”

August 20th, 2016 by Roger Darlington

You’ll never guess what this film is about! Actually it has an unusually descriptive title, so I’m sure you know where we’re going with this. But the tale is told in a wacky way that holds the attention and in time engages the emotions. Check out my review here.

Posted in Cultural issues | Comments (0)

A review of the Italian novel “My Brilliant Friend”

August 19th, 2016 by Roger Darlington

My summer reading project is to complete as much as possible of the four works that make up the ‘Neapolitan Novels’, an acclaimed series by the Italian author Elena Ferrante.

This is a saga of the 60-year friendship between two girls from a poor neighbourhood of Naples after the Second World War: the narrator Elena Greco, known as Lenu, whose father is a porter and Raffaella Cerullo, known as Lila, whose father is a shoemaker.

I’ve just finished the first novel in the series called “My Brilliant Friend” and you can read my review here.

Posted in Cultural issues | Comments (0)

A review of the new movie “The Shallows”

August 18th, 2016 by Roger Darlington

Not so long ago, I read a non-fiction book titled “The Shallows” which was all about the damaging effects of Internet [my review here]. The newly-release film of the same title has absolutely no connection with the book (although it features an amazingly good mobile connection on a deserted Mexican beach). Instead the movie is a taut thriller that works surprisingly well. You can check out my review here.

Posted in Cultural issues | Comments (0)

China launches the world’s first quantum satellite

August 17th, 2016 by Roger Darlington

You probably didn’t notice this but three weeks ago, in my latest column for the trade union Prospect discussing information technology issues, I wrote:

“… physicists have been using quantum mechanics to think about new types of communications systems. One idea is to use the power of what is called quantum teleportation – roughly, how to pass a tiny bit of data from one place to another without its having to travel through the intervening space. As of 2015, the record distance for a quantum jump was 150 km, the minimum distance between the ground and an orbiting satellite. So one day we might have a quantum Internet.”

In fact, this week China launched a satellite deploying this very technology. The media are calling it “the world’s first quantum satellite” and are highlighting that the intention is to develop hack-proof communications. You can learn more here.

Posted in Science & technology | Comments (0)