Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Obama and Brum***

"It is the firefighter’s courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent’s willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate."

Attributed to Barack Hussein Obama, current president of USA. Excerpted from inaugural speech.

The US presidential election last year brought hope, and a hint of the true magnificence of democracy, to millions around the world still quagmired in poverty, corruption, autocracy or worse. So may a poor wage labourer pause when quarrying coal and look at the distant jet, so high, so mighty, so proudly fine. With envy, greed, longing, but also, inspiration and hope that such things are. That it is possible for men to attain such heights. That it is possible for a people to choose their leader in such a way; that politicians can talk knowledgeably and skillfully of what they can do rather than flicking mud alone; that each and every vote can make a difference.

It is therefore natural that Obama's first speech as president will be dissected to its very osteoblasts by pundits and the junta alike. May I be allowed to join my voice to the cacophony as well? Thank you. The rest follows after the break.

Brum, the little, intelligent and independent car has a number of fans around the world, not all of whom are children. However, if your kids love Brum, this is the official website to visit, complete with the Big Town to explore.

The site is totally flash based, so be prepared to wait a little bit while it loads the first time around. In the meantime, enjoy a visual of the little car racing towards the Big Town. As seen from its rear. Once loaded, the game window occupies something like half of the screen, and is in the form of a map which adds a lot of visual interest for those following the tv series. Click on the little dots in the small navigational aid above to read about them, and click on the actual buildings in the map to visit. Most of the links are informational, or to do with watching their art gallery or sending an ecard. Two, however, are games.

Brum's airport adventure is something of an interactive story which requires nothing more than clicking on Brum to toot his horn, and on the flashing circles below to change the frame. There are two games, marked by Brum's photo. One, shown below, involves clicking on the crooks or the stolen suitcase as they pop up behind the luggage. The other requires clicking on various flashing signs to make Brum - er, intimidate the crooks. Both are timed, and become faster towards the end I think.

The other game is a car chase in the snowy slopes of some ski resort, which involves side to side mouse movements to avoid obstacles and pick up the money dropped by baddies running on ahead. It is also timed, and beware, it is harder than it sounds!

The site is owned and run by Ragdoll Ltd., UK, who also produce the tv series. The url -

And if you should want to get a very simple make-Brum-jump game for toddlers or pre-schoolers, visit the Ragdoll site itself, and click on Brum from amongst the photos in the top left corner. Then, click on the silhouette. Or, for a single page to colour online, click on the yellow pencil. There are similar very simple games there for each of the tv programs produced by Ragdoll, so be sure to explore some more! (Incidentally, the games seem to have the trademark simplicity and strategies of the Red Fish people. I do know that they have designed some of the Teletubbies and Boobah games, so I wonder...)

P.S. Cbeebies also has a single Brum game which should be mentioned here. It too is a kind of car race, but without the crooks, and much slower in pace. The car has to be steered clear of obstacles using arrow keys and when it obligingly stops in front of a money bag, press the space bar to pick up the booty. An easier game for the younger kids :)

P.P.S. So, back to Obama. Two observations.

One, when there is a team of speech writers, as is the norm with presidents and even presidential candidates, should one be attributing the quote to one man, or many?

Two, there seems to me that this speech is far too redolent in rhetoric to be sincere, or true. I suppose the inaugration ceremony, in itself a rather emotional celebration, calls for a touch of the cliche to stir heartstrings. But somehow I get the feeling that there is more grandiloquence than called for. It seems to be simple, but it is a contrived simplicity, the language somehow alien to the author, the sort of oversimplification one would use in trying to explain the mechanism of a quantum clock to a third grader. Maybe it sounded different to those who were there?


Nino's Mum said...

actually I thought it wasn't his best either. And yes, you're right there was too much or rhetoric.
But maybe he was shrewd enought to not promise too much to begin with.

Swati said...

Well, we'd still vote for him, if we could, wouldn't we? :)