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Mick Aston was probably the best-known archaeologist in the UK. I’d also go so far as to say that he was the most influential archaeologist of the last 25 years.
The reason is Time Team, an archaeological series on Channel 4. If Sky at Night is Astronomy then Time Team when Mick Aston was in it was archaeology. Its success massively expanded the uptake of archaeology by students. Mick Aston’s idea was responsible supporting an incalculable number of jobs in university departments. It’s easy to overlook was an astonishing idea Time Team was.
The traditional documentary places the academic speaker at the authority speaking Truth. A recent example is Rise of the Continents, where Mantle Plumes are presented as unquestioned fact as noted in the post at The Theatre of Reason. A common grumble is that science is a process not a body of fact, so how do you show process? Mick Aston reckoned you could produce a usable brief evaluation of an archaeological site in three days and this became Time Team. A camera crew followed an archaeological team as they dug for three days.
Below I’ve embedded the episode from Blaenavon, which I hope 4oDDocumentaries have made widely accessible.* You could make a drinking game from the number of times someone says they don’t know something. To steal a line from Paul Bahn: it’s not about finding things, it’s about finding things out.
As a measure of impact, I offer another series, Bonekickers. Bonekickers was an attempt by the Life on Mars team to produce a drama around an archaeology unit. It was laughed out of the schedules because Time Team had demonstrated to a large chunk of the UK population how archaeology worked. To be fair Bonekickers was pretty awful in its own right, but it’s thanks to the impact of Time Team that it became truly risible. Can you imagine that happening with any other academic discipline?
Mick Aston’s influence meant that he became a stereotype of an archaeologist in his own time. That could sound snide, but rather it’s a measure of how loved by the public he was.
He also had the potential to keep innovating. After leaving Time Team, he’d been working with Timothy Taylor on Dig Village. In some ways he was in the twilight of his career, but he still could have shone for many years like the evening star.
*I’m not optimistic that it’s visible beyond the UK. You can search for Time Team on YouTube, but embedding those videos isn’t sensible. Uploading a programme wholesale, breaching the copyright isn’t negated by saying “No infringement of copyright is intended”. These videos will be coming down sooner or later. My personal favourite episode is probably Llygadwy / Celtic Spring, but that’s not so typical of the series.
This was a project Mick Aston was working with before his death.
THROCKING (participial vb.)
The action of continually pushing down the lever on a pop-up toaster in the hope that you will thereby get it to understand that you want it to toast something.
Measure defined as the distance between a driver’s outstretched fingertips and the ticket machine in an automatic car-park. 1 nad = 18.4 cm.
(Of literary critics.) To include all the best jokes from the book in the review to make it look as if the critic thought of them.
The Meaning of Liff at 30
John Lloyd celebrates 30 years of The Meaning of Liff with Matt Lucas and Helen Fielding.
Significance magazine has analysed the casualties in Star Trek:TOS. Everyone knows that wearing a red shirt on the USS Enterprise is like wearing a giant shoot me sign. But what everyone knows might be wrong.
Matthew Barsalou has analysed the casualities and found blue is the safest colour. He’s also found more red shirts died than any other colour — but on the Enterprise there are more red shirts anyway. The situation is made more complicated by security, engineering and operations all wearing red shirts even though they do very different jobs.
If you’re a space cadet this is essential reading.
Reshared post from +K. Llewellin
Keep your redshirt on: a Bayesian exploration — Web Exclusive Article — Significance Magazine
Keep your redshirt on: a Bayesian exploration. Author: Matthew Barsalou. The idea of red-shirted characters being frequently killed in Star Trek: The Original Series has become a pop culture cliché. B…
This past season of Formula One has been the best since 1993. The next season, I think, will be the first where no one on the grid has driven against Senna. Depending on how you feel about Schumacher, it’s possible Senna was the last great driver in Formula One. He wasn’t the most successful, but Senna raced in era when other drivers had access to potentially race-winning cars. His biggest rival, Prost, was in the same car for a couple of seasons.
It’s easy to fixate on one of the drivers, but the book covers the development both of the. Prost’s tale starts with his first spell with McLaren of that rivalry from Prost’s arrival at McLaren in 1980. Folley doesn’t simply take Prost’s recollections. He also draws on other people around at the time, such as Tony Jardine. Senna’s early career is covered with his time in Formula Ford in the UK. Martin Brundle gives an honest view of how it was like to race Senna at the time.
Jo Ramirez, who worked at McLaren during the Senna/Prost era is another source of material for their time in the team. Other drivers gave brief accounts to fill out the story. There are interviews with Hill and Williams too. Senna’s time before his death at Williams was brief, but it was Williams who gave Senna his first F1 drive as a part of a test session.
Obviously the two title characters dominate the book, but it is a taste of what Formula One was like in the 1980s. The extra background adds more context to what was going on. For example, the classic clip of Senna first coming to threaten Prost is from Monaco 1984 where an irresistible Senna in a poor car chased down Alain Prost in almost undriveable conditions. Prost’s hand waving in the downpour is easily mistaken for someone appealing to be given the win (1984 Monaco Grand Prix — part 7). However it is clear from the book that Prost was deeply affected his accident in practice for the 1982 German Grand Prix where Didier Pironi came out of heavy rainspray to smash into the back of Prost’s Renault. Pironi never raced in Formula One again. (Didier Pironi — Hockenheim ’82, crash and recovery)
1982 was a black year for Formula One. Along with Pironi’s career-ending accident, Villeneuve and Paletti died in races. Paletti’s death would be the last at a Formula One race till the weekend in 1994 when Roland Ratzenberger and Ayrton Senna died. Prost was aware that F1 was a dangerous career. Ayrton Senna didn’t start in F1 till 1984. His faith was a worry for some other drivers, especially in his later years, when some thought Senna believed he had divine protection.
There is a problem with any book like this. Prost is alive to give his side of the story. Senna is not. It’s hard to judge now if Senna really thought he was invulnerable. If you’re already a fan of one over the other I don’t think you’ll find anything here to change your mind. But the other drivers come well out of this. Derek Warwick in particular could have been bitter after Senna effectively ended Warwick’s hopes of getting in a race-winning car.
The close of the book is inevitable, but even here Folley is able to add something, like the pressure Senna felt from Schumacher. Everything Senna had thrown at Prost was now coming back at him from Schumacher. A surprise in the book is how is seems Senna appreciated what a rival he had lost after Prost’s retirement. It also emphasises the shadow left by claims over the Benetton team using traction control. Did Senna die chasing an illegal car? http://www1.skysports.com/formula-1/news/12433/7362401/Verstappen-Schuey-s-car-different–
With no Schumacher or Barrichello on the grid for 2013, this will be the first season in a long while where none of the drivers will have known a death at Grand Prix weekend. The massive advances in safety are due in part to the death of Senna. No other event could have shocked the sport into improving safety by so much.
Rockabye Baby have a lullaby version of Lullaby by The Cure. If you’ve not heard of Rockabye Baby they’re repackaged versions of hits slowed down to more somnolent pace.
Except for the versions of Coldplay songs obviously.
If you haven’t heard any of them there’s plenty to choose from by searching YouTube for Rockabye Baby. My favourites include:
Queen Under Pressure Rockabye Baby! Under Pressure Queen
Smashing Pumpkins Today Rockabye Baby! — Lullaby Renditions of Smashing Pumpkins — Today
and Nirvana Smells Like Teen Spirit Rockabye Baby Lullaby Renditions of Nirvana — Smells Like Teens Spirit which will give babies nightmares to scar them for the rest of their lives.
Other bands covered include U2, Metallica, the Smiths and Guns ‘n’ Roses.
and I’m not joking about Coldplay not being slowed down. Rockabye Baby! Lullaby Renditions of Coldplay — Clocks
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