Star Trek:Picard

I’ve been very impressed with the two seasons of Star Trek Discovery and was a fan of next generation and original series.

A great thing about on demand TV is choice and being able to pick my way through the episodes of Voyager, Deep Space Nine and Enterprise that I hadn’t seen.

It’s also great for research and I liked watching Star Trek: TOS episodes that tied in with Discovery.

But Picard..

A 60 second trailer with a female voiceover had this as the words as far as I could tell..

15 years ago today, you led us out of the darkness.

You commanded the greatest rescue armada in history.

Then, the unimaginable.

What did that cost you? Your faith? Your faith in us? Your faith in yourself?

Tell us, why did you leave Starfleet Admiral?

Various sources have confirmed with the producers that it ties to the destruction of Romulus.

In Star Trek TNG, a two parter covers ‘Unification’ where Data and Picard are modified as Romulans to investigate Ambassador Spock.

Romulans appear elsewhere in the series with different stories involving Troi, Riker and a Romulan defector.

In Star Trek: Deep Space 9, ‘In the pale moonlight’, where Sisko and Garak engineer a incident to bring the Romulans into the Dominion War, I wonder if there’s an opportunity to have that tension created between Romulans and Cardassians in Deep Space Nine on play.

It leads to a number of episodes where Romulans are involved as an ally to the Federation on DS9 toward the conclusion of the show.

But apart from those episodes, where does that lead?

Firstly a twenty year time gap. In reality and the twenty-fourth century.

Picard is older. His fate was speculated upon at the end of The Next Generation with the two parter involving ‘Q’ and a past, present and future Picard working together to resolve an anomaly.

It was a retired Picard with a beard in that Vineyard in France as shown in the teaser clip. Elderly with a beard and a form of memory loss or dementia.

The new teaser shows an older Picard maybe not in uniform, not with a beard, but older.

The voiceover refers to an incident 15 years ago. 5 years after the events of TNG.

It calls Picard Admiral. Not Ambassador as had been speculated.

It suggests a retirement.

A rescue armada and Romulus.

A disaster and the speculation being that Picard commanded that mission.

And that’s the bones of it. Nothing in the 90’s series gives a clue.

We know about the Alpha Sector having the powers of the Federation, Klingons, Romulans and Cardassians.

We know the balance that there was between the various powers.

The appearance of the Dominion changed that balance and the Federation allied with the Klingons and later the Romulans.

Was the Romulan Star Empire on friendly terms with the other powers after the end of the dominion wars?

Or as suspected in DS9 that a new rivalry would arise?

Cardassia had to be rebuilt and all powers suffered from that war.

Add in Borg incursions in the film timelines.

Add in the Kelvin timeline of the rebooted movies and it’s plot about Romulus.

Do we assume losing Romulus shattered the Romulan empire?

Are there Romulan factions based on other planets grinding against each other?

Is there a tension between a rump state of what was the Romulan empire against the federation.

Is Picard some sort of arbiter who dealt with the aftermath of disaster and is called back in?

Presumably he’s not with the newest/current Enterprise and presumably he’s not with his TNG crew.

Where does that lead us?

1. Say a Berlin-Wall type event in the Romulan empire, where Picard is negotiating a settlement?

2. A treaty between numerous and fractious post empire factions?

3. The possible road map for shattered and numerous Romulan settlements joining the Federation.

4. A type of reunion with Vulcan and a push of a post-disaster Romulan empire toward the Vulcans and Federation.

I don’t know. I’m speculating as much as the Sci-Fi websites are.

Whatever the situation, it’s unique to Picard to resolve. It’s a sector where wars have happened, disasters have happened and there’s an opportunity to progress.

A suggestion that after the Dominion War that no Alpha Sector Power is greater than another.

Even the Federation would need time to recover its losses before thinking to administer what was the Romulan empire. Maybe the Neutral Zone couldn’t fall.

Maybe the Klingons are an issue, maybe a renewed Cardassia as a nuisance?

Unlikely that the Borg are in the picture, but as Star Trek’s scariest bad guys, why wouldn’t they get a piece of the action?

Lastly thinking ‘the unthinkable’ – is the Enterprise lost?

Was it destroyed in the catastrophe? Could it have been affected by the destruction of Romulus and perhaps Picard survived by being off the ship?

An off-screen destruction of the Enterprise would be a pretty big event to allude to through a series, but surviving your ship and crew would be a hugely traumatic experience and retiring to a vineyard would make sense.

Anyway, until the next trailer for Star Trek Picard, it’s all guesswork.

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Killing Eve season 2

It’d be easy for me to heap praise on Jody Comer and Sandra Oh.

But, after being entertained in the first few episodes as it unravelled the ending of the first season and set itself up, it changed through the middle and end episodes.

In terms of direction, performances and visuals, it didn’t disappoint. In terms of Villanelle and death, it didn’t disappoint.

We got an exploration of psychology from seeing a murder out of ‘kindness’, through controlling relationships, addiction and truthfulness into what or who is a psychopath.

A dark prism to refract those subjects and at times, wholly uncomfortable.

The path of Villanelle’s journey is one things in terms of the story narrative, but also in the exploration of her motivations and her depth.

It touches desire. Both to have people and also for others not to.

It showed the depths to which she could reach to be someone other than herself.

It showed a strong self independence and self reliance, but weaked by her obsession with Eve.

But Villanelle isn’t the only one on a path, Eve takes that journey too, from tracking Villanelle to cracking who ‘The Ghost’ is and far beyond.

Eve’s path to this revelation and the ending is the ultimate study in who we may think we are and are capable of, and the reality of what we are and can do.

It takes the course of Villanelle and Eve’s relationship through the series to reveal the psychology at play within the script.

The depths of performance help, the subtlety is there in taking things beyond a cartoonish anti-heroine and the subject of her obsession.

Certainly Killing Eve could easily have kept to the formula of the first season and lapped up ratings and critical praise in a similar manner.

But, it took both Villanelle and Eve on a journey.

Maybe a journey of discovery is a wrong description but it took us through that relationship of hunter and prey, control, obsession, marriage, desire from a few viewpoints, voyeurism and where people go when they get their desires fulfilled.

The path through that is colourful, entertaining, at times funny and at times sick, but it nails the psychology at play inside people day to day in their relationships and motivations with others.

It’s not often that I’ll watch a box set of eight episodes in one go and stay up very late in order to do so, but this was certainly worth it.

Trying not to be single..

https://goodmenproject.com/featured-content/am-i-any-less-of-a-man-because-im-autistic-jrrd/

That article brought me down to earth and I guess resonated heavily with me.

I suppose that I thought things might work out for me in the long run and I travelled in hope trying dating sites and I’ve ended up giving in.

I had my fill with looking on line at people. And I lapsed.

I hated myself for doing it.

I feel stupid too.

This is despite reading about online dating and the ways the apps are designed to hook those doing exactly what I was doing. Looking.

The companies behind the apps earn zip if I see and match with a comparable person.

So it’ll show me 7’s and 8’s when I might be a six or a five.

It’ll show me people just that little bit away from me. It might show me to those that pay for the service or it might do so if both parties are paid members.

I read the magazine articles about ditching swiping and getting out and about and actually attempting at life.

I know I’m fooling myself and I’m not alone, hundreds of thousands of us are each day online and looking in vain.

We set ourselves for the fall with the nicest pictures or wittiest bios that maybe are us on a good day.

Anyway, below is my experience of scrolling apps and what I perceive that I see on the little screen of heartbreak…

The ‘nicest’ seeming ones are usually too many kilometres/miles away.

At worst,they’re visiting the city rather than being someone that lives here and haven’t turned off their visibility.

Some you look at the pictures and read the biography and think – oh that’s a pity. The finger lingers and you wonder if it’s even possible.

Other sites maybe state the town and you think, no that’s just not possible.

The thoughts of practicality and problems even start at that point.

The first picture the finger goes on is usually oldest/thinnest, last picture is closer to reality.

Scroll and scroll, oh she looks much younger there, and then the penny drops on the last few photos.

I usually swipe left on the ones that look like Hollywood starlets in every picture. I just think I’m not good looking enough, wealthy enough or have that lifestyle.

(Probably in truth neither are they, but I don’t know that.)

Othertimes, you look and can’t see anything that helps make a decision, it’s maybe yes/maybe no.

A lack of information maybe or a unconscious bias of some sort.

‘My children are grown up and I’m not interested in parenting yours (woman with older kids looking for men over 40)’

No answer for that as I juggle commitments with kids every week. I’m not free 24/7 for anyone.

‘I take pride in my appearance and expect you to too. (Interests gym)’

– again, what can you say? – apart from would you like to get out the gym sometime?

‘Lol – fill in later’

– posts two identical photos, Yeah, a woman of mystery…

Age 46′ – then below ‘I’m actually 50′

Probably the most frustrating as you know she’s a liar from first impression. May not be fair, but certainly triggers that finger to swipe left.

It’s photos, it’s visual, some seem too good to be true, others you look and think well why did you use that picture.

Some faces are recognisable over a few apps. Maybe years ago, looking and building the courage to try a ‘hi, I read your profile, it was..’ and then not even getting a reply, so second/third time around you think, ah why bother?..

Height – ‘4’7″ or 5’11” – I suppose it does matter, I’d be too tall at one extreme and not tall enough at the other, it’s pure practicality over any sort of dreams or other thought.

Sometimes height makes a difference., sometimes it makes none. Often I saw ‘x’x” ‘for those that think it matters’

To me it does, but I’ve certainly seen tall/small happy couples in the past.

So that’s my run through of what I saw. For my own good I know I need to delete the apps.

As tempting as ‘join and see who already likes you’ is, I can’t afford it and I must be realistic.

I have my life. I know I spend my nights alone and I know I reach out with tech.

I know I have my limits and I suspect another relationship won’t really help me.

I know I’m missing affection and companionship but can I afford to pay for two/three swiping sites and the time and thought and effort?

It might get me a few steps along the line. A chat, a date. But that’s maybes and perhaps and maybe that’s not going to work out for me.

Chic’s C90

https://open.spotify.com/user/8xd5m4ag1ibv0umvxup1hkwbs/playlist/6BxMAazxdqMLl5OBEnWE3s?si=RDfIOeA0RCSdp271OqLyvw

I’m getting involved in the mixtape project on Twitter curated by @perlalaloca

I start with a homage to the past, but in my music dabbling starting in the early nineties, I listened to some blues and I suppose it’s the base from where most popular music stems.

Can you back at popular music without Elvis Presley? Probably not. The King died when I was a kid, but I’ve appreciated his songs as I got older

Can you say you weren’t influenced by The Beatles or Rolling Stones at some point? – I could pick half a dozen by both bands.

The seventies.

Some of these discovered by me in the nineties through student union and pub jukeboxes, the radio, other influences.

I throw in Gerry Rafferty as he’s from my hometown, Paisley and I walk the dog past a street named for him.

Boston’s ‘More than a Feeling’ was taped off the radio one night, but became a favourite for my mixtapes.

The way the electric guitar riff fades into the acoustic guitar softer part is genius.

I’m actually a fan of Wet Wet Wet, the musicianship at times is superb and Marti’s voice conveys so much.

Sadly that Troggs cover for a movie etc..

Big Country – I discovered their music just before ‘The Big Day’ concert in 1990 celebrating Glasgow as European City of Culture. They were amazing live.

I first saw Runrig at Barrowlands around new year 1990. Amazed at the content and I’ve dabbled since, I even sing along to the Gaelic songs as best I can.

Seen them about 5 times more recently and enjoyed Bruce as the frontman as much as Donny. ‘Every River’ is always a singalong at their gigs.

I was a huge fan of late 80’s and early 90’s rock. Both the hair metal and grunge. Again, what to pick, I’ve chosen two mellow ones.

The Black Crowes certainly produced a genius album in the Southern Harmony and Musical Companion.

Guns’n’Roses aren’t for everyone but, for a time they nailed rock music.

Arguably Patience never quite got exposure and airplay that it deserved.

I suppose Britpop did influence me, I was Oasis rather than Blur I guess. Certainly two inspired initial albums.

Difficult one as I could easily have went for The Smiths or Ocean Colour Scene or The Stone Roses as cooler choices for my shoe gazing interlude.

More recently I’ve had a chance to listen to more music.

Life, kids etc.

I like modern country and Kacey Musgraves is fantastic. ‘Follow Your Arrow’ is inspired and inspiring.

‘Goodbye in her eyes’ by Zac Brown Band is on first play the sad country song you might think when the genre is parodied, but the rhythm from hand drums, the backing vocals and the truth and honesty shine through.

I came across Wir Sind Helden by accident.

Yes, it’s German lyrics, but their musicianship and ability to cross nearly all modern musical styles had me hooked.

I’m a big fan of Judith Holofernes too, she’s their guitarist and vocalist. At times genius. This is a pop-py one.

Finally, ‘Begin Again’ by Taylor Swift, I include as it’s my most played and I do like the song and also much of her Red album.

Anyway that’s the explainer..

Letter to The National on GAAP.

Sir,

Dave Robb’s letter of 8th February on the cancelled Glasgow Airport Access Project made many good points, although stating that ‘airport transport cannot be determined by Paisley commuters’ is off the point.

Glasgow Airport is in Paisley, a necessary fiction that most in Renfrewshire accept. It’s a significant employer for the area as well as an infrastructure asset for the country.

Paisley commuters would have helped fill either the tram-train GAAP scheme or the heavy rail trains proposed in the GARL scheme. 

Arguably, either scheme would have also helped Airport staff get to and from work. 

Any increased frequency to Paisley Gilmour Street would have been used well by these Paisley commuters and Scotrail wouldn’t sneer any increase in passenger income at one of the Scotland’s busiest passenger stations.

Sadly, The issue of the Airport Access Project was always political, one set of politicians pushed it in Glasgow City Deal and another set were, at best, ambivalent over it.

The Airport Access proposal wasn’t part of the previous STPR transport planning proposals and received input from Transport Scotland late in the process, it also wasn’t part of the ‘control period’ infrastructure plans made by Network Rail Scotland.

Without national transport planning support, without any input from the track operators and background research only at regional basis, it was never a surprise that the project was parked and then cancelled.

The M8 continues to get busier, the 500 bus gets caught in peak time congestion and car drop off or taxi will remain the quickest door to door choice for many to reach the Airport.

This new proposal requires to convince travellers to take a guided pod to the nearest mainline station, then contend with which platform for the first train to Glasgow. 

All of which is enough of a stretch without adding luggage or language issues. 

Unfortunately, the time used to develop the tram-train proposal is already gone and we are likely to wait another year on the feasibility study on the pod proposal before the matter rises in the political agenda again.

A long term solution needs a non-partisan agreed position between national and local politicians to come up with a workable and affordable plan. 

One that hopefully can help tackle the congestion issues affecting the M8 between Glasgow Airport, Paisley and Glasgow City Centre and that has ambition to create modal shift away from car or road based transport. 

Renfrewshire, ‘Paisley Commuters’ and the West of Scotland in general can rightly be sceptical about a suitable investment being made in transport infrastructure after this latest debacle.

The above is a letter I wrote to The National newspaper today.

I suppose frustration struck when I realised that the Glasgow Airport Access Project was in ‘development hell’, it looked less and less likely as time went on.

I first realised it was likely to be cancelled when I saw some tweets a few weeks back. Implication being that there was something up.

Much as I found GARL a surprise when it was cancelled, but seeing the location and placing it against the planned scheme, it just seemed wrong and the decimation of St James’ Park wouldn’t have been worth the benefits of a heavy rail scheme.

I also figured the engineering and construction of a viaduct across the park and a structure over two lanes of M8 and possibly 4 joining/exiting lanes seemed a huge task too.

Ironically, it was watching a simulation video created by rail enthusiasts that really drove that home to me.

On GAAP, I had hoped that a tram-train solution on the Karlsruhe Model could be a opportunity to look again at urban transport for the wider Glasgow conurbation, but in terms of UK practice there is only the much delayed Sheffield to Rotherham example and the delays and cost escalations haven’t helped.

It can be an eye opener seeing the Manchester system but much of that relies on former heavy rail routes that have been converted with a centrepiece of City Centre running.

Whether a mini fleet of specialised vehicles could have inter-ran to Glasgow Central with Scotrail’s Class 380’s was a question.

Whether pathing or timetabling was an issue, particularly joining and leaving the Inverclyde line for the section ‘as tram’ was another.

Whether a dedicated airport service would chew valuable time and paths now used by other services.

Could it have been a white elephant?

Not so much an issue in Germany and where the tram-train as a mode was a sensible compromise to keep services running on a network, where the balance could be found and made to work.

Not so much in an environment where heavy rail and trams exist in city spaces and not so much in cities looking at trams as pre-metro and metro solutions.

My thinking on alternatives led to wonder whether a full cost alternative like diverting and extending the Argyle Line after the Exhibition Centre by tunnel to Govan, Braehead and ultimately the Airport.

Expensive in tunnelling under the Clyde and probably needing complex solutions all the way along that sort of corridor. But absolutely future proof.

A cheaper answer is looking at the Fastlink infrastructure as pre-tram and finding a way from the QEUH to the Airport probably via Braehead and Renfrew through extension and upgrade leaving at some point a headache of how you incorporate a tram system into Glasgow City Centre, presumably using a loop around the city centre.

A bastardised GAAP alternative sharing track as far as say, West Street and street running to the city centre and back would share that sort of headache of cost and expense.

Cheaper but uglier options are shuttle buses from the Airport to Paisley Gilmour Street on a high frequency basis.

Possibly easiest to implement and to cut out the current diversions into Shortroods and Gockston would deliver a true link service,but would it pay for itself or be a fresh air carrier when other local services are struggling.

Investment and decision making are difficult but equally doing nothing in this particular case, as I’ve said in the letter to The National, lets down everyone.

I think the worst thing is the loss of time and possibilities from that.

Transport projects have a long gestation period. Route, plans and ideas are poured over.

Maybe GARL or GAAP makes a comeback, maybe there’s innovation in whatever schemes are to come as ‘West of Scotland rail enhancements’, maybe there is a radical tram scheme out there.

For now, let’s see..

Sunday, another Sunday.

Home. Did what was needed. Had to figure out what food I had in and settled on making a cheese sandwich and also a bowl of cous cous.

I want pizza or something that I could order, but common sense six I bought a loaf on Thursday and that I bought a couple of bottles of coke.

I took money out on Friday, I’ve bought some food Friday, used it Saturday with other stuff I bought this week.

I can grumble or moan, but it’s freezing cold outside and after doing what I had to do, I’m home and have stuff to eat.

I know there’s stuff i could if I went out, but I’m not inclined to and I guess it involves spending money too.

I have a plan money wise and I’m trying hard to stick to it, I’d rather not pay as much that I do, but again what can I do? I think holidays, sun on my back, musee d’orsay.

Maybe next year for trying to go out, or friends or doing things.

I said that last year and year before.

I suppose I want something more or better, but I’m not capable of it.

Maybe I’ve accepted something that I shouldn’t, but after the year of hell in 2017, last year was a slow climb out of the pit. I guess it’s a thing and a routine of living, buying, shopping and doing.

The me time is tv watching. Tweeting or reading.

I guess it’s hard to know, it’s a thought and as much as it’s my autistic stuff, there’s a lot of depression, anxiety, lack of worth and things like that in the mix. I know loneliness is a thing and electronic communication and social media don’t make up for all that.

Anyway that’s Sunday. I’ve eaten. Food and bed soon.

Me and the Alp.

Was just reading about Geraint Thomas winning on Alpe D’Heuz today in the Tour De France.

In 1997, I took a fortnight’s leave from my work. I was 24 and sorted myself a flight to Paris and with a euro domino ticket literally headed south on the TGV to Lyon and then Grenoble.

I figured with European timetable books and maps that I could see the Stages at St Etienne and the Alp.

I call it, ‘the Alp’ as that’s what it’s known as in Cyclesport.

Most races go up from Le-Bourg-d’Oisans at the door of the hill. It’s literally a vertical kilometre from the valley floor with 21 hairpin bends to allow the road to climb up the Alp.

It’s known as the ‘Dutch Mountain’ as cycling fans from the Netherlands go crazy for it and as luck had it, I got a lift to the foot of the hill from some Dutch guys that I stayed with in the youth hostel with.

I think there was six of us in that small car. Not quite sure how we all got in as there was a fair bit of beer in the boot too.

I wanted to experience the hill by walking up the road.

It took me well over three hours and at the narrow roadside were cars and camper vans and at each U bend of the road leading upward were groups of fans with Flags, Banners and the names of their favourites painted or chalked on the road. French, Belgians, Italians, but mainly the orange of Holland.

I was offered a can of beer at every turn. After 4 or 5 hairpins. I wondered what I had let myself in for. It was steep on foot. A Well built but narrow mountain road with retaining walls at the sides.

Eventually, sweating and tired. I made it to the top. Thanks to generosity of strangers, my day pack had a mix of bottled and canned lagers. Without intending it, I had a ‘cargo’ like many of the hardcore fans.

I rested and watched the race on the big screen at the top of the hill. France Television had a unit there and there was the usual final kilometre decoration of barriers and banners on the way to the stage finish.

I didn’t know it at the time, but I saw a remarkable win by ‘ Il Pirata’ – Marco Pantani, an Italian climber that had a reputation for bravely attacking in the mountains.

He rode alone the last ten kilometres after ditching the race leader on route. A special bit of cycling.

Sadly Pantani died in 2004 aged 34. He was a small guy with a shaved head and a patterned neckerchief around his head. He went and attacked himself and was a phenomenon in the late nineties as stage winner and also a race winner in the major tours.

Whoever wins on the hill, it’s the Alp. It’s a incredible sight as a place in itself .

What should be a ski station in high summer becomes a busy place with thousands of cycling fans there to witness one of the greatest tests in the Tour. It’s the tarmac, the walls, the hairpin corners and that gradient.

I’ll go there again one day. I hope.

As a postscript, I had a disposable camera type thing with me that day. I did take a few snaps that day, but have no idea whatever happened to the pictures. I recall the blueness of the sky and freshness of the air the most.