Humans (TV Series)

I recently posted on Facebook and Twitter: We’ve watched two episodes of HUMANS on Netflix, but we’re not totally hooked. Convince us to keep watching…

We received a variety of responses, mainly ones that suggested we give up, with some only managing one or two episodes. Equally, there were those who were very positive and urged us to keep going.

We actually gave up and watched another series, but came back to HUMANS, and we’re glad we did. From the third episode we were hooked and we’re currently on the second season.

Like all good science fiction drama and writing, it asks deep questions about life, and in this case what it means to be truly human. The series explores the themes of artificial intelligence and robotics, focusing on the social, cultural, and psychological impact of the invention of anthropomorphic robots called ‘synths’.

Without giving too much away, some of these synths become fully sentient and experience consciousness, a truly difficult concept to get your head around. As I write this, I know that I am a sentient being, but I have absolutely no way of proving that you have a similar experience, I simply have to make the assumption that you do.

So, if you like drama that asks difficult questions, then this is for you. If, like us, you nearly gave up on it, you might like to give it another try.

Favourite Albums 2020

My musical listening during 2020 has been somewhat haphazard, mainly because of circumstances (coronavirus, retirement, young children, and moving to a new house) as well as a desire to listen to comforting old and established favourites.

So, this year I’m going to be doing things a little differently, I’ll post my favourite albums of the year individually between now and the end of the year. I’ll choose my top album(s) in the last week of December.

It’s obvious, of course, that I can never listen to all the albums released each year, but I’ve listened to less than my usual in 2020.

You can see all my favourite 2020 albums by clicking here, or individually below…

1000 Hands: Chapter One (Jon Anderson)

Coast (Cousin Silas)

Coloured Fragments (Cousin Silas)

Electric Portraits (Cousin Silas)

Fetch the Bolt Cutters (Fiona Apple)

Fragility (Kevin Buckland)

Eine Phase des Übergangs (Martin Neuhold)

Vestibule (Fictions and Poetics)

To be continued…

Sonnet 73 (William Shakespeare)

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire,
Consum’d with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceiv’st, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

Coloured Fragments (Cousin Silas)

A third, and possibly final, favourite album by Cousin Silas in 2020.

Coloured Fragments is quite a long album, more of a double album really. Cousin Silas insists that all the titles are ‘proper’ colours! You can make your own mind up, just enjoy these soundscapes.

My friend Thomas Mathie, who has his own Bandcamp label, writes: This is truly an exceptional release from Cousin Silas … delightfully low key and chilled ambient music … nothing too strenuous or taxing … perfect for resting.

You can see all my favourite 2020 albums by clicking here.

Cover by Kevin Lyons/Cousin Silas

1000 Hands (Jon Anderson)

Two things before I go on; firstly, the full title is 1000 Hands: Chapter One and secondly, this is actually a 2019 album that I unfortunately missed, but which was re-released in 2020. Well, no one’s perfect!

Compiled over many years, it’s a wonderful collaborative album, one that’s clearly been made with love. It features a whole range of guest performers, from the late Yes bassist Chris Squire, through pianist Chick Corea, to Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull on flute.

You can see all my favourite 2020 albums by clicking here.

Books Read in 2020

I always like to read, and often have more than one book on the go at the same time. Overall, it’s probably not a good idea to have be reading too many books at once, so I’ve decided to stick with just one (with the exceptions of the Bible, a devotional book, as well as anthologies and the like). For some examples of the latter, click here and here.

Here’s links to the books I’ve read in 2020 (in the order of reading) since my retirement:

Why Don’t Penguins’ Feet Freeze?

Reasons to Stay Alive (Matt Haig)

77 Million Paintings (Brian Eno)

The Magic of Reality (Richard Dawkins)

Caught (Harlan Coben)

To be continued…

92 F1 Wins for Lewis Hamilton

Whichever way you look at it, Lewis Hamilton‘s 92 wins in F1 eclipses Michael Schumacher, especially as Hamilton will likely equal Schumacher’s 7 world championships this season.

Yes, it’s difficult to compare drivers of different era, but Hamilton has a higher ratio of wins (35.11%) compared with Schumacher (29.55%), so you can’t even say it’s because there are more races in a F1 season than two decades ago. Source: List of Formula One Driver Records.

But as we celebrate a great British success, let’s not forget the success of another Brit on the same day. Tao Geoghegan Hart is only the second British winner of the 2020 Giro d’Italia.

Caught (Harlan Coben)

Naomi and I have seen several television adaptations of Harlan Coben books, but this is the first time I’ve read one of his books.

I found Caught very enjoyable, at times hard to put down, and overall an enjoyable read. He creates some good characters, draws you in with the narrative, and surprises with twists along the way.

A ‘laugh out loud’ moment came early in the book when he was describing a celebrity defence lawyer: He crossed the room in a way that might be modestly described as ‘theatrical,’ but it was more like something Liberace might have done if Liberace had the courage to be really flamboyant.

I’ll probably read more of his books in the future, although I prefer the more descriptive prose and deeper thought of a crime writer such as P. D. James.

Coast (Cousin Silas)

This is another new release by my friend Cousin Silas (not his real name) on his Bandcamp label to become an instant favourite album of mine in 2020. The previous one is Electric Portraits.

It’s a delightfully relaxing collection of ‘aural snapshots’ inspired by the coast. As he writes: I have always had an affinity for the coast. Maybe it’s because I spent a lot of my weekends and holidays, as a kid, on the East coast. Whatever the reason, it has often ‘inspired’ me, usually for the reflective and lonely places they can be … I hope you enjoy them as much I did making them.

This album is a perfect tonic for the struggles of 2020. The artwork is again by my friend Thomas Mathie, who also has a Bandcamp label that features music by Cousin Silas and others.

You can see all my favourite 2020 albums by clicking here.