So, Brendan remembers The Tomorrow People (on which UK amazon has a fantastic sale (the whole thing for 30 quid, here); US versions here, here and here). Not only him — a graduate student was in my office a couple of months discussing a paper when suddenly she completely lost concentration, on seeing Set 2 (series 3,4,5) on the bookshelf next to me. She was lost in that moment of complete joy one experiences when remembering the long-forgotten wonders of one’s childhood and realises that one can, if one wishes, relive them.

My parents were too liberal to prohibit us from watching the other side as kids, but my mother adopted the entirely successful and rather admirable strategy of mocking us mercilessly if we did, for being willing to waste our time watching people selling us things. This raised the quality bar; if it was on the other side it had to be that much better than a BBC offering for us to be willing to bear the cost of the ridicule. My strategy is less liberal; my kids watch only what we permit, and only when we permit it.

But there is some overlap, as I’ve mentioned before. Brendan will be glad to know that among straight dramas, my daughter (now 9) says The Tomorrow People is the best.

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“Just” verbal?

by Eszter Hargittai on July 9, 2006

A lot of people seem to be extremely upset with Zidane for doing what he did with Materazzi. But wouldn’t we at least want to know a little bit about the verbal exchange? I guess the idea is that no matter what Materazzi said, the physical response was not warranted. Maybe. The whole thing reminds me of the incident at the end of the movie Bend it Like Beckham.

On a related note, I always wonder what language players speak when addressing each other in such situations.

Another reason to support Italy

by Henry Farrell on July 9, 2006

From the “FT”: yesterday.

bq. Just before or after Sunday’s Italy-France final in Berlin, a sports tribunal in Rome is expected to decide whether four leading Italian clubs systematically influenced referees. A lawyer for Juventus, Italy’s most popular club, says a punitive relegation to the second division would be “acceptable”. … Silvio Berlusconi became another divisive force. In 1994 he became prime minister with a party called Forza Italia (Go Italy), his attempt to borrow the team’s aura. The fact that Mr Berlusconi was voted out of office in April makes it easier for some leftwingers to support Italy on Sunday. If he is unlucky, his club, AC Milan, will be relegated by the tribunal on the day his rival Romano Prodi, the prime minister, may see Italy crowned world champions in Berlin.

Which reminds me that Scott McLemee emailed me an “article”: a while back where Toni Negri declares that he’s an AC Milan fan. Whoda thunk it?

Morphic resonance on Doctor Who

by John Q on July 9, 2006

The first episode of the new series of Doctor Who was screened in Australia last night, and the preview of coming episode showed our old friends the Cybermen. As my son observed, they’re the least satisfactory of the Doctor’s enemies because they are just second-rate Daleks. Today, I opened my copy of the London Review of Books, to find the exact same observation from Jenny Turner, reviewing Kim Newman who objects to the cliched, but apparently universally true, observation, that children watched the series from ‘behind the sofa‘. Support for Rupert Sheldrake, or just evidence that the series reliably produces the same responses in lots of viewers?

Also in my mailbox, after a return from travel was an issue of the Scientific American with the front page headling Do Stem Cells Cause Cancer ? (answer, apparently, yes). My immediate thought was to wonder how long this will take to turn up as a talking point in the Republican alternate universe.

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World Cup Final open thread

by Chris Bertram on July 9, 2006

Well here we are, and I might as well start things off. I’ll be backing Italy. The French team have played some nice football, but France as a nation were largely indifferent to the competition until their team got within sight of the trophy. The Italians, on the other hand, care deeply. My Italian friends will be ecstatic or suicidal; my French ones will either give a smile of contentment or a shrug of resignation.