Doctor Who: It’s About Time Again

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Image courtesy of BBC

I finally made time to sit down and watch the return of Doctor Who tonight. It’s the middle of school holidays here, with a gazillion things flying around our haphazardly scheduled lives. It would take a TARDIS with a bonus K-9 to find a spare moment for all of us to be together to watch our favourite television show.

Short summary: It was worth the effort and the delay.

This is something that has been building with anticipation for quite some time now. We’ve been over-analysing logos, and reading up on every piece of Doctor Who literature we could find. And yes, we have been revisiting a few old classics to fill the time.

Tonight’s episode? Loved it. Really really enjoyed it. The new Doctor is brilliant as she learns about herself and balances all of her history. The new companions are warm and curious, with plenty of questions. Always a good thing. And the story was easy-going, with little distraction from the integral set-up required for the first episode of a new Doctor Who.

So let’s deal with the pink elephant in the middle of the room.

Yes. The Doctor is Now Female.

And you want to know something? It was not a big deal, as per the storytelling itself. The Doctor is still The Doctor. She is still doing everything The Doctor has done previously: Turning up and fixing it.

The big deal was in the lead-up. Hell yes, I have been a huge Jodie Whittaker supporter. I LOVE the opportunity for females to see themselves in the role as well. And for anyone who argues about needing to keep the male role model for boys, let me just share some words from EG Nefarious (possibly the second biggest Whovian in the family):

“Oh yeah. That’s still The Doctor.”

And that was it. No more discussion. He simply loved the whole episode. All three spawnlings loved the episode.

Which leads me to this our youngest spawnling, Zaltu. Our little geek who is still trying to find her feet in the world. The smallest yet mightiest of the spawnlings who often feels torn between her love for Sylveon (pink ribbons and all) and her desire everyone last one of us with Link’s Master Sword.

This spawnling whispered to me:

“My turn, mum. Now I can cosplay as my Doctor.”

I still think she made a pretty kick-arse River Song but I am looking forward to the next opportunity.

Doctor Who Limited Edition Barbie

Speaking of which, I am buying this for her Solstice present in December: Doctor Who Limited Edition Barbie.

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Image courtesy of BBC

Now, there are many mixed views on Barbie and the appropriateness of image portrayal for young kids. I’ll be honest with you: I too am mixed in my feelings.

On one hand, I hate the whole idea of presenting women like pretty things with little substance. On the other hand, I still remember playing with my Rocker Barbie when I was 9-years-old because Barbie was the only doll/humanoid toy I could find as a tangible connection to my father’s music profession. For that alone, Mattel and Barbie have always been pretty good at offering Barbie dolls across various professions and geekdoms.

Zaltu still loves her Batgirl Barbie and has been known to linger around the Wonder Woman Barbie and NASA Barbie in various stores. I know the Doctor Who Barbie isn’t solely aimed at 5-year-old Whovians but for us, it will be a nice tie-in to a television show we love as a family. A tangible connection for our geekdom.

The Doctor Who Barbie doll is offered all around the world through various outlets. In Australia, it is exclusively available through EB Games and Zing Pop Culture. Pre-sale starts today so head in and chat with your local today (Tuesday 9 October, 2018).

Total disclaimer: I have received no benefit or bonuses or payment for telling you about this. Once again, I’m just enjoying sharing the news with you … even if I do have to line-up like all you other minions.

 

Ant-Man and The Wasp (Review)

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Let’s be honest: I’m still recovering from Avengers: Infinity War (A: IW). Given I only saw A: IW a couple of weeks ago, it is still fresh in my mind. I, like many others, am desperate for a feel-good movie. Something to lighten the emotional weight now resting on my Marvel heart. I’m not asking for much; just a small, light-hearted story with plenty of strength in its characters. Something to share with the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) but still gives me breathing space. Something exactly like Ant-Man and The Wasp.

Where does Ant-Man and The Wasp Fit Into the MCU?

A: IW was massive. It was epic. It was all-encompassing, everything-at-stake type of stuff. It left me feeling like I had been in a marathon. From the beginning, you felt the anticipation as characters slowly started to meet and team-up. My heart was wrenched multiple times before we even reached the final scene. There is no way anything could possibly compare with it until next year.

AM/TW is the complete opposite. And it is so refreshing. The story is far more personal and brought back to a smaller scale. Yet this is exactly what Marvel needs for the last of its films in 2018. It can’t compete with the enormity of A: IW. Instead, AM/TW wins our ‘awwwwwww’ moments.

Ant-Man and The Wasp Stand Alone

You can find the synopsis almost everywhere on the interwebs right now, so let’s keep it simple.

Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and daughter Hope Van Dyne (Evangeline Lilly) are working on a big beautiful machine (kind of reminds me of the Hadron Collider) to search for Hank’s wife and Hope’s mum, Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer). Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is on the last days of ‘house-arrest’, following his part in Captain America: Civil War (#TeamCap). Scott suddenly has a flash of something Janet-related, calls Hank and Hope, and ends up in a marvelous pile of trouble. Along the way they face off against some other characters who are never really “bad guys” but more conflicts to keep the pace. They keep hanging around the storyline like flies ruining your BBQ. It is a fun jaunt in the private lives of Ant-Man (both incarnations) and The Wasp. In fact, it’s simplicity is the heart of the movie.

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A Movie Filled With Characters

The strength of the movie lies in the characters. Each of the main characters is given a bit more depth from the first; none more so than Hope. I really enjoyed watching her on the screen. In the first movie, she was aloof and unsure of what her role meant, even to her. In AM/TW, we see more motivation and participation. She now looks like she is finding her own place. Hope works with her father; not for her father. When they bring Scott on board, it is made very clear The Wasp is not a side-kick. It is all about partnership and it working together. Yeah, it’s all kinds of sweet.

The whole movie feels like this. In fact, the whole movie feels like one of Luis’ crazy storytelling moments. With more distinguishing features between the characters. There are people meeting people in crazy situations, and you really have to go along for the ride. Even the special effects are smooth–far smoother than Banner’s head sticking out of the Hulkbuster in A:IW (which is still infinitely better than Superman and Moustache League). When partnered with the fight choreography, it is really enjoyable to watch.

My only concern is Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen). She felt a little … incomplete. Her story is connected with Hope’s family but her role in it felt a little convenient. The fight scenes are fantastic and for that, I really appreciate Ghost being in the movie. I just felt a little wanting. There is room for Marvel to bring some more Ghost to the table in future. Maybe not a stand-alone feature but I would love to see her pop-up elsewhere.

All is saved, however, by Cassie (Scott’s daughter, played by Abby Ryder Fortson). Yeah, I’m a sucker for a cute kid with sass. This kid is given the best lines. She completely rolls with the dry humour, takes on the adventure, and drives home the motivation Scott needs to do his damn job. And she has a killer wardrobe; I now want to dance around in pink skirts with camo-leggings and Doc-Marten-style boots. In fact, I think I just might do that. I can’t wait to see her costume in 10-years time.

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Is It A Family Movie?

This movie is all about family. From Hank and Hope searching for Janet to the open-family surrounding Cassie and all the characters in between. [Side-note: It is so beautiful to see a positive supportive extended family as portrayed by Scott, his ex-wife, her husband, and Cassie. Hooray for breaking down one wall of toxic Hollywood tropes]. Again, AM/TW brings everything back to what is most important: Family.

There are a few swear words in it, a couple of very subtle sexual-related jokes and nothing else to prevent me from taking the spawnlings to the movies (except for not being up to date on their Marvel movies because earlier films are not as child-friendly). The release in Australia is perfectly timed with school holidays, and equally well-suited for the Summer break in the Northern Hemisphere. If you’re looking for advice on toilet breaks, however, go before the movie. There is so much character development and funny moments, you want to be toilet-trained before you go.

And yes. Stay for the credits. It’s a Marvel movie. What else are you going to do?

… Can’t … say … more …

Just remember: Stay Away From ALL Spoilers. The collective gasp from the audience is enough to know your ignorance is worth it. At least this time.

4 out of 5 inches

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  • I was invited to a preview screening on Wednesday 4 July 2018. All opinions are my own. I cannot be bought with free tickets and free popcorn and free water. Throw a frozen Coke in and we might talk… 😉

Making Patterns Out Of Chaos

For years, I’ve been blaming the wrong person. 


For years, I have been teasing EG Dad about his need for structure and order.

Clearly, our 17 years of non-fatal co-habitation shows he has mellowed over time, which has been good for him. Because there are very few neat-freak, organised perfectionists who can survive in a family of evil genius without succumbing to a bit of their own chaotic evil genius. 

It has been a huge sore point; to be completely honest, it still is. I am not a neat person. I often refer to it as organised chaos.

But today I realised there is actually a lot of pattern to my madness. 

I would even go as far to admitting… I think I am the one who is obsessed with patterns, and not EG Dad obsessed with order. 

*gulp*

I love finding patterns in anything. To me, it’s the easiest method in problem solving. Look for the pattern and then analyse the bejebus out of it. 

Sounds very mathematical doesn’t it? And yet, ironically I was told at school I would never succeed at math; I had too much humanities and not enough logic. 

This year, Sinister is in year 6 OC (gifted program) and the homework aid usually falls to me, mostly due to time availability. And I’ll be honest: I am more self-conscious this year, with those long-ago voices rearing their ugly heads again.

Just last night, Sinister asked for help on this one:


This is for test preparation and thus, time is of the essence. 

Now, for what it’s worth, the answer is D–36. Congratulations if you had that. 

Last night, there was no chance in any potential reality for me to have even guessed it right. 

But when I looked at it this morning, I sat down … And looked for the pattern. Calculate corners. Break it down to a smaller model. 

And I had it!

And then I looked around at my messy home, and realised even in my chaos, I can see the patterns. Which is why the mess never seems as bad to me as it does to others. 

The patterns soothe me. Like stanzas in poetry. Like Shakespeare’s spoken word. It is a musical flow that resonates with me, even to the point of observing and manipulating others. 

Both my mother and my high school math teacher had it wrong. My humanity did not exclude me from mathematics. In fact, it was a direct result of a core concept in mathematics: pattern recognition.

I’m not saying maths will solve every human-related issue, but I now have a new way to approach homework this afternoon. 

I’ll be more confident. I will show a better way to break big problems to smaller problems to identify the patterns. I will show them better ways to build patterns from there, and thus manipulate their results. 

How?

Let’s start with a game of Qwirkle and see how I go.

“MUM!! Look what Dad did to the Qwirkle tiles!!”

Oh yeah, and back to blaming the other guy. Can’t let the spawnlings know all my quirks. 😉

What Jobs Can Minions Do Better Than Machines and Computers?

 

This post is part of a new series “If I Ran The People Zoo“, looking at the impact Artificial Intelligence will have on directly on our spawnlings and their future. 

We are in the midst of the next big sociological change: automation, and more specifically Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Better Than Computers

You could be forgiven for not knowing this. It wasn’t considered an issue in the recent Australian Federal Election, nor have we had a breeze of it in the US Election discussion. Nevermind a little thing like the Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) 2016 report released recently. It only predicted 40% of Australia’s workforce would be replaced by automation within the next 10 to 20 years.

Let that sink in, because it is a key feature of this post – and in fact, this series.

40% of current jobs will probably not exist by the time our spawnlings are finishing school and looking for a job to provide a SALARY. To pay for their LIVING.

In regional areas, that number could be as high as 60%.

It’s important to note, we’re not talking loss of industry here. The work will still be there; it is just done by a robot rather than a human. You can’t jump in and say “We still need that group of workers!” because we will still have the work, just with fewer coffee breaks and toilet stops.

Makes you wonder what will be left for our spawnlings.

So let’s start with a process of elimination. The easy target is the manufacturing industry. Factory work. Dock workers. Any routine repetitive task that can be easily programmed.

Next obvious target is the mining industry: Already done. There are mines in the Pilbara region in Western Australia, entirely automated; from the hard labour roles through to ‘driverless trucks’. Ironically, for every time you hear a regional politician propose faster trains across Australia, another driverless battery-powered truck is being tested on the long haul routes.

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Photo from Public Domain

 

Think it is just the manual/physical jobs at risk? Think again. Remember – we are initially looking at any role that is routine. Repetitive. Easily programmed.

Start thinking about the ‘safe’ jobs those Tiger Mums are pushing for their precious miracles: Accountants. Real Estate Agents. Lawyers. And yes, teachers.  The ‘area of risk’ has now expanded from the lower and base level to middle level of employment.

From personal experience, I completely believe the risk to lawyers. The paper pushing in most litigation is very ‘routine’. There are already programs out there, able to do the data collating role of a paralegal across multiple documents – at more than thrice the speed, and half the cost. Again, the legal profession will always be here; just less emotional.

It is no longer simply a question of what jobs will be left for our spawnlings. It is more a question of which jobs can our spawnlings do better than machines and computers?

But hark! What do I hear from the Conservatives, unwilling (or unable) to see the path of the future? It is the chant of ignorance, a chant brought forth from the Industrial Revolution: ‘loss of traditional role = creation of new job’.

Nope. Nope, nope, nope. There are not enough new jobs being created to equal the same amount of roles being replaced by robots. We’re not talking a simple equation like one machine equals one person. We’re talking one machine equals hundreds.

Of course, the easy Band-Aid solution is to just teach the next generation how to be the programmers. But be honest – How many colleagues do you know have the natural ability to excel in tech-based work, at the level needed to gain these jobs in the future?

Remember: your spawnlings’ competition is no longer the kid sitting next to them at school; it is the other 750 million kids in the region – all learning coding at the same time, and all brought together in a global market across the interwebs. Technology is overcoming geography in so many ways. For example, EG Dad leads a team of people across Australia, UK, and the US, because those are the locations of the people with the best skills. I contribute to an international news service (GeekDad/GeekMom) along with other writers from the UK, NZ, UAE, UK, and so many others I lose track of them in the social chat!

Robot-BarristaRight now, right this minute, the best employment options are in the service industry. We’re talking about the high demand for our basic needs. Aged care providers for our ageing population; baristas for our morning motivation; nail technicians for the beauty pick-me-up before the rise of the robots… Oh wait, we already have robots in McDonald’s in the US, as well as other food outlets around the world. Scratch another off your future jobs list.

The common theme across these examples: an increase in casual, part-time, and fragile jobs. And this is already happening right now.

Sure, this isn’t always a bad thing. Some people are genuinely looking for part-time work; be it work/life balance or personal interests, or whatnot. But not everyone is. And with 2/3 of all new jobs advertised in Australia being part-time, fewer people are having a say in this.

On top of that, our spawnlings will also be competing with the robots for the jobs. The cost of technology is far easier to justify than the cost of human resources. Every company is trying to ensure they maintain their bottom line, so why not take the cheaper option?

Did you hear about the AI robot and his plans to keep his human creators in a People Zoo? That people zoo doesn’t seem so fantastical now, does it?

Where do we need the jobs in the future? Health care, science, innovation, entertainment. And yeah, I still reckon we need some human interaction in our education system. These are the jobs I see as needing a human element involved. The jobs where there just might be a competitive edge in favour of the spawnlings.

My next post in this series looks at the skills our spawnlings will need to compete with technology in the future. Are the schools of today really prepared for the skills they need tomorrow? Do all schools have the resources to teach the next generation, or will we end up with an even greater class/education divide? And if there are fewer jobs generally (and more competition), who will do it cheapest?

And don’t think you’re off the hook – we’re going to look at what EG Parents are doing to give their spawnlings the competitive edge. All bragging is encouraged in the comments below, or in our Facebook discussion.

#ifiranthepeoplezoo

 

Horrible Histories: Pirates in the Museum!

Tell your spawnlings you’re heading to a pirate exhibit at the museum, and even the least academically inclined child will show an interest in coming along.

Tell them it’s a “Horrible Histories” exhibit, and they will probably try to drive your doom-mobile themselves.

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If you’re lucky enough to live in Sydney, you can still catch the Horrible Histories Pirate Exhibit at the Maritime Museum (Darling Harbour). It finishes at the end of the April School Holidays – 27 April 2016 to be exact.

And it is worth catching. EG Inc has been twice. We’re going a third time this week, broken wrist and all.

Horrible Histories is pretty popular in itself – there are books; tv series; spin-off books about geography; and museum exhibits like this. The appeal of the brand is, of course, their ability to be absolutely honest about the dark and dirty but in a funny gross way that clearly works for kids.

And juvenile evil genius parents.

There is no singing Pirate King; no Errol Flynn swinging past the sails. There is definitely nothing romantic or cinematic about any of this.

I knew I was in the right place when the entry has an interactive “rat-squashing” game. Using a projector and motion sensor, kids can stomp on the rats scurrying along the floor to the exhibit. It is hilarious fun when you see the blood and guts spread across the floor in a spectacular cartoon fashion. It kept Zaltu (and myself) entertained for at least 15mins.IMG_9007

Inside the exhibit, there are plenty of visual displays, very informative posters, and a range of tactile play areas on show. We each had fun creating our own Wanted Pirate posters along with exploring for hidden treasure on the little beach.Nefarious the Fearless

But the winning feature – the one we are really going back for?

The big battle scene in the very middle of the exhibit.

Kids split between the two sections, each with a stack of soft(-ish) balls and an air-powered ‘canon’. Then the battle begins across the sea!! And woe be the parent who strolls across the firing range. Pirate spawnlings have no mercy.

There’s no time to be ‘dilly-dally’ on this one – as mentioned above, the last day is 27 April (two weeks from publishing this article). Details about the exhibit can be found on the website.

No affiliation or sponsorship for the post either. EG Nan and Pop gave us an annual pass for a Solstice present. Brilliant idea two years in a row. Our spawnlings simply had way too much fun learning to keep this quiet.

Apparently Thursday (both weeks) look like possible rain…if you need a suggestion of a day…

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