Tag Archives: Cumberbatch

Alan Turing and The Imitation Game

Alan Turing CumberbathSometimes things happen in clusters. Or perhaps it just feels that way because, having been alerted to the first ‘something’, we then notice similar somethings all over the place…

Okay, apologies for that rather metaphysical beginning, but I am seeing a rather interesting cluster at the moment, and it all began with the movie The Imitation Game.

The Daughter and I went to see The Imitation Game a couple of days ago as my birthday treat. Why? Because the movie is about Alan Turing, the father of modern computers, and stars Benedict Cumberbatch who’s so sexy and you all know how much I love computers… -cough-

Like many people, I knew of Turing, not because of Enigma, and the World War II code-breaking, but because of his test for computers. In essence, Turing’s idea was to get a judge to ‘converse’ blindly [using a keyboard and screen] with a human being and a computer. If the judge could not pick the difference between the human and the computer then the computer could be said to be ‘intelligent’.

Did a little bell just go off? Yes, well done – intelligent computers are the Holy Grail of AI research, so you can see why I’d be interested in Alan Turing. But the movie delivered a great deal more than just some dry recital of computer history.

For the Daughter and I, two things really stood out from the movie – that Turing was gay [I hadn’t known that] and that Joan Clarke, one of the other codebreakers, was just as brilliant as he was. Two brilliant people, arguably two of the most brilliant people of the 20th Century, and one was gay while the other was a woman. [And yes, I looked it up, Joan Clarke was a real woman]

Now, I’m a humanist rather than any other flavour of -ist, but right then and there, I would have waved my little flag if I had had one. Bloody hell – a gay man and a woman!

If I were gay I would compile a list of all the brilliant people in history who were gay, and right at the top I’d put Alan Turing’s name, along with that of Leonardo Da Vinci, so everyone could see what a massive contribution gay people have made to the world. Then I’d sit down and compile another list, but this one would be of women who have made a massive contribution to the world.

Why? Because human culture has for too long assumed that everything good ever created or discovered was done so by straight white men.

Hmm… and while I was at it I’d probably start combing through the history books of China and India and the rest of the non-white world for the people who created all the things we in the West don’t give them credit for. But that’s a rant for another day.

For now let me just say that the movie was excellent. Benedict Cumberbatch is an extraordinary actor who seems to excel in these slightly quirky roles, while Keira Knightly actually managed to come across as a slightly awkward, but very smart Joan Clarke. Definitely the kind of movie I’d see again.

Going back to the inequities of history, however, and the prominence of straight white men, my eye was caught this morning by –

“Why do discussions of creative genius so often happen about white male writers such as Jonathan Franzen? ”


The article is concerned with the lack of representation of women in literature rather than science, but great minds are great minds no matter what subject they explore.

A happy side-effect of discovering that article was that it led me to a site called Science 2.0. I’m not sure if the site itself is Australian, but the three articles I read were all written by Australian academics. I think the site is like a wordpress for geeks. 🙂

I know two instances of anything do not a cluster make, but I suspect you out there will have other examples for us to share. It goes without saying that I’d be really happy if you did share in comments!



Just had to add this artist named by Candy Korman – Artemisia Gentileschi 16th Century, Italy. This is her self portrait. But look at the angle!

Artemisia self portrait


More sexy villains – the lure of redemption

A while ago I wrote a post about what it was that made villains so sexy. Ever since then I’ve been amazed at how often search engines have brought people to my blog based on searches for ‘sexy villains’. Clearly I am not the only one who finds them intriguing!

So, in a shameless bid for fame and fortune I’m baring my soul to reveal the book, movie and gaming villains who make my heart skip a beat. As I’m old and dignified I won’t mention any other parts of my anatomy that may be involved.

Movies and Series

The first entrant in this category is the Sherlock Holmes character played by Benedict Cumberbatch, an English actor who is not ‘pretty’ at all. Nonetheless the rare moments of softness in his otherwise prickly character make him utterly fascinating. Technically Sherlock Holmes is one of the ‘good guys’ but his personality places him squarely in the ‘here but for the grace of god be a villain’ category. And yes, the redemption of his personality is a major drawing card for me.

Another modern entrant is Loki, the arch villain from The Avengers blockbuster movie. Played by yet another English actor, Tom Hiddleston, Loki is cunning, powerful, gorgeous and ‘adopted’, with all that that implies. 😀 I rest my case.

Last but not least is John Cusack in the role of Martin Blank, a professional assassin in Grosse Point Blank. Cusack is gorgeous I have to admit but what makes the character of Martin Blank so appealing is the fact that he goes over to the ‘good’ side for the sake of love. This is redemption with a capital ‘R’!


Anyone who has ever played video games will recognize the next uber villain – Sephiroth! Final Fantasy 7 by Square-Enix [Squaresoft back then] created a number of very memorable characters including  Cloud the uber angster and Vincent the revenant, however all of them paled beside the arch villain, Sephiroth. Beautiful, powerful, broken. The following video clip is not from Final Fantasy 7 but it does show Sephiroth rather well and, well I just love the graphics! What more can I say?

Actually there is quite a bit more that I can say.

Square Enix is my favourite game developer and one of the reasons for that is that they have had an uncanny knack of creating villains and heroes who all struggle towards redemption.

My second favourite gaming ‘villain’ is Sydney Losstarot of Vagrant Story fame [see concept art on the left].

Although Vagrant Story never achieved the commercial success of the Final Fantasy series, it remains my favourite game of all time, along side Final Fantasy Tactics and Sydney remains one of the very best villains ever to be redeemed. That may be a bit of a spoiler but so be it.


And now to books. Back when I was a great deal younger I became obsessed with one particular character created by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. That character was Raistlin Majere. He was a mage, self-obsessed, cold and seemingly without too many redeeming traits and yet… I loved him. I think I was attracted to the element of power teamed with a certain pathos. Or perhaps it was the hint that redemption was at least possible. I make no apologies although I do cringe just a teeny weeny bit.

In the Death Gate Cyle, Weis and Hickman create a far more rounded character called Haplo who starts out as a bit of a bad guy and ends up as a hero. I loved him as well. Again the redemption theme.

Moving into the present day I have found myself becoming very fond of a character in the Norothian cycle [by M.Edward McNally]. The name of this character is John Deskata and he is both hero and villain. This duality in his nature becomes apparent in book 3, The Wind from Miilark. I hardly need to say that the possibility of redemption is a huge part of John Deskata’s allure.

So there you have it. I’m sure you will have your own favourites but I wonder if you find the redemption theme as intriguing as I do? I’d love to know what you think so please tell me who you find irresistible… and why. 😀

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