Tag Archives: 39 steps

Identifying a new stage

That I something we all have to do at times. I (for the longest time) have been contemplating whether Keno Diastima required a fourth season. There was something close to immaculate to the open ending and there were questions within me. Why certain things existed, why certain steps were made and then I got to thinking part of what would have been a goal? There is something towards triggers, we all do, but what happens when the trigger is happening towards an automated process? You see, the automated process takes (for the most) time out of an equation. There can be two reasons behind this.  Th first is the fire and forget process where the instigators look at what comes after, the second is a little harder to explain. Consider a small room, in that room an African bee is released, to be safe you must kill the bee. That process can be monitored, but the stage is difficult and to get the killer bees in place requires an engine. My mind started to ask ‘But why?’ And then I remembered. It is perseverance, resisting temptation. This got my mind to an optional fictive stage that was once said to happen in Las Vegas, they played with artificial pheromones to keep people in a stage of continuous gambling and happiness. Now, I do not know whether this was ever true. The stage came to me from some Lawyer series, I forgot which one. But the stage had an interesting side question. How to infect the right people whilst keeping the others untouched. This led me to the brainwashing stage. Brainwashing can be achieved in psychological ways with additions of chemicals, isolation, debilitation and exhaustion. It is the balance that sets a stage and that can be used in many ways. Yet then we get to Sun Tsu. What if the need is Living spies, reverse spies and/or inside spies? How to create them and better how to keep control? That solution is in part seen by the stage where they are unaware that they are in the first place. And now we have the beginning of a stage. I am also cautious not to give anything away regarding the control lines of the first three seasons. And at that point I had unintentionally created the opening to continue the series (no spoilers). 

It is that stage that creates a new cast of leads and a very new cast of antagonists. You see we assume one side, but what happens when the roles are inverted? How can we see good from evil and more important, does it matter? The soldier tells us, we do not murder, the enemy murders, we merely kill them and protect ourselves. Adrian Furnham (in The Psychology of Spies and Spying: Trust, Treason, Treachery) teaches us the concepts regarding the rigorous psychological analysis of the personality and motivation of individuals involved in spying. Yet if they are unaware motivation is taken out of the equation, the personality of a person can be adjusted to facilitate processes and as such identity is take out of the equation. And with both out of the way you get more than who is good and who is not, we get the making of a faceless scout and that was when the idea struck a much larger stage, a much longer game, optionally something leading to a timeless one. Yet, who would prosper? It was at that stage when my mind went back to WW2 and the idea that at that point corporate espionage, espionage conducted for commercial or financial purposes could have had another option. Alfred Hitchcock touched on it with the movie the 39 steps, but the people never realised what an amazing and dangerous piece of work it was. You see industrial espionage seems limited (like Microsoft on IBM), but what if the stage is not that, but what happens when the stage defines where we invest, where we look and where the diamonds are? What if that party is to identify players that make a difference? It would be a much larger game, a game that has no borders. A setting we never faced before. 

And with that I had the beginning of season 4, but how to connect certain parts and make is ‘realistic’ enough to make the generals in Kremlin, Pentagon and Zhongnanhai cry like little chihuahua’s? Well perhaps not the Kremlin, they have bigger problems (like getting the bulk of their systems to actually work in wartime without losing over 80,000 troops). But the setting gives me two parts, the engine itself and trying to identify the parties involved and I do like a twist or two, like Pakistani intelligence in Homeland season 4. And the longer we do not know who or what we are facing, the term suspense at the tip of your chair becomes very acceptable. Like any writer who perks up when they hear the radio announcer scream ‘Did you see the plot twist last night? Holy F%#&!’ Any writer lives for such a moment, and I is no different. 

But the revelations my mind gave me during  short nap is making my brain hurt, I need to try and work out the story whilst I know I have to edit from word one with every iteration of facts. This is going to take a while, and that is merely season 4, with a related season 5. 

Just my way to pass the time when sex is not an option, the universe is massively unfair at times. 


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That one scene

It was not dark, but the sun was setting. The man looked through the scope of a MTs-116M suppressed sniper rifle. The scope was not standard, the silenced MTs-116M was. The gun was important, it would lead people down the wrong path and that was the intent. He was 273 meters from the gate on a plateau. He saw the 4 men to the left of the house and the 2 on the right of the house. He saw that the men on the right were walking behind one another on a small path. He took aim and the steel round went quietly through both men. The men fell down, nicely in the dark spot of the house. In the mean time the 4 are walking behind each other, but not completely. He saw the path they walked. They were clearly untrained. The man waited another second and then fired one, quickly reloaded and took out the 4th man with the second bullet. They were all down, He saw one man moving his arm, he did not wait and used the third bullet straight through the skull. The outside of the house was now quiet. He switched to thermal, he saw that the window gave a decent view, but not completely. Two guards in the upstairs section seemed to be chatting.  He took aim and as the first one got the bullet through the chest, the second one got it in the throat, they both went down. He checked the house again with thermals. No one upstairs, three downstairs, one behind a desk, most likely the target and two man in opposite sides of the room. He set down the sniper rifle, and kept the AS Val ready. He quickly ran to the house. He had made preparations on the right, he quickly moved up, took one more look to see if there were no surprises. He then got down in moved to a door on the right, he had seen the guards come in and out from there. He looked at the door. No surprises, he quietly tried the door, it wasn’t even locked. He entered the house. It has weird smells, which was surprising. Not just tobacco, there was the smell of something he could not place. He checked the rooms with a dental mirror. No camera’s, what an amateurs. The men were still in their corners and as he got closer to the room there was no real movement. He hear the quiet voices of what was the boss, he was barking orders to the other two, there were submissive answers. He was ready, he quickly opened the door, shot the person in front of him, then turned to the left. The second man was quick, but not quick enough. He then looked at the boss. “I was clear, leave me alone or else…” He sized the boss up, a cowardly little shit. “I get it, I get it now”, clearly hoping to talk himself out of this. “Now it’s too late” and he shot the boss three times in the head. 

He methodically searched the room and the noticed that the safe door was open. He was wearing a mask, it would have taken too long to find the camera’s. He took the papers and the money. He then took one more look and he walked into the kitchen. He grabbed the newspapers and the vodka. He dropped the newspapers in small stacks in the house and covered the stacks with Vodka. He set the flames and as the papers started to burn, they would ignite more and more of the house. 6 stacks all over the lower floor of the house, the flames that would go upwards would finish the job. 

He quickly left the house the same way he came in leaving the door open and the draft would do the rest. He ran back to his sniper rifle, picked it up and left the scene. He has a 15 minute walk to the south and it would take him to his car that would take him back to Edmonton. 

It is the one scene that starts it. But what is it I want to start? The Russian hardware implies either spy story or organised crime. And in this there aren’t too many shown to play in Canada. So how will we continue? Is it Taken (Liam Neeson), Foreigner (Jackie Chan), 4th Protocol (governments) there are many options, but for the most they have been done and I like the new the novel and that is where two directions open up. The first is Industrial espionage (the 39 steps) by Alfred Hitchcock and espionage and deception (Eye of the Needle) written by Ken Follet and directed by Richard Marquand. The idea could be to unite the two into a larger story, a story that is not about protagonists and antagonists, but the man would be the antagonist, a new version of Professor Logan (Barry Jones). Whilst the professor has a larger field of view on the great operating stage, we would see that in this day and age it is no longer about governments and what they can do, but how the revenue could be spend. So what happens when the new Logan could walk in with the plans for a new jet, new missiles and the bill that could have been the ‘$768 Billion Defense Policy Bill’, now becomes the setting of ‘$259 Billion Defense Policy and IP Bill’, do you think that ANY government would walk away from such a saving? 

Yet to set that story you need a start, you need an incentive (money tends to work) and you need focal points. In Fedora it was the doctor, in I Claudius it was the narration, in too many movies it is the action offered, but the action loses focus as we go from target to target. There is a second issue. Who watched Slum dog Millionaire more than once? You see, like Ellery Queen, when the clue is up the story is merely a steeple chase on numbers. This is why story based suspense is better (like Anna). Yet to get that part we tend to refer to Life of Pi. All movies where the story carries the cast and the movies are better because of it. This gets me to another story. It is Ask me Anything. The movie is weird and prefect, the twist at the end is brilliant. Now I never read the book (still on my list), but the twist at the end made me watch the movie again.

That is the stuff we need and even as this movie does not fit the bill for this script, the setting might work. So I need to check out Undiscovered Gyrl by Allison Burnett. I wonder what else might be there. A stage setting needs to be complete. Especially when the antagonist is supposedly the good guy it reminds me (Firefox), but there is wisdom in leaving that revelation until the very end. And in all this, there is a setting that the antagonist could be a woman. I see the person as a man, because I am a guy writing a story. But the choice of antagonist is at present not set in stone

So as I go brooding off into a corner, I just realised I set the foundation of a 4th script. Lockdowns might not be nice, but it clearly keeps me creative.

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Reprising 39 steps

This is not about an alcoholic taking his 12 steps three times with 3 breaks. This is about a 1935 movie. An absolute masterpiece by Alfred Hitchcock. It is also one if the first exposures by Tinseltown of the use of industrial espionage. Over time there would be more cases and more events, yet the stage I saw today ‘Twitch confirms massive data breach’ (source: BBC) made me think of the earliest steps in that direction. Even as we are given “it comes at a time when competitors such as YouTube Gaming are offering huge salaries to snap up gaming talent, so the fallout could be significant.” This does not mean that Google was behind it, yet the larger stage is that Industrial espionage is at the seat of many corporations and these corporations have absolutely no idea what they are in for. There are no checks, no balances and at this point Twitch is in a stage where they could lose the bulk of their value overnight. So as I read “Twitch confirmed the breach and said it was “working with urgency” to understand the extent of it” I see a stage where a company was clueless and now less of a clue where their money will go in November 2021. 

Even as I think back to the 39 steps and the momentous line “The 39 Steps is an organization of spies, collecting information on behalf of the foreign office of…the design for a silent aircraft engine” but the one step they did not have in those days was the disgruntled employee. They can do in one hour more damage then Baker at MI-6 or Evans at MI-5 can do in a month, and companies are just not ready to take a larger setting of cyber and internal investigations serious. Fell free to doubt me and call +44 1242 221491 (GCHQ), they probably have a few leaflets and other information that will make any CTO cry like a little chihuahua. 

The problem how to go about it, as I see it it will be too late for Twitch, Microsoft was done for a long time ago and Google is one of the few who has a decent handle on cyber security. Yet the nightmare is actually a lot worse. To grasp this we merely need to take a look at ‘Industrial Espionage: Criminal or Civil Remedies’ by Gillian Dempsey (at https://www.aic.gov.au/sites/default/files/2020-05/tandi106.pdf) the quote “Australian companies should be mindful that competitors, and nations which might be hosts to Australian investment, may have a strong interest in Australian trade secrets and other economic intelligence. Although its incidence and prevalence are unknowable, industrial espionage by governments and private sector institutions is a fact of contemporary commercial life. Recent developments in the technology of intercepting communications make such activities easier to undertake and more difficult to detect than in the past.” There are a few issues and the biggest one is partnerships, find in that partnership two disgruntled employees on both sides of the fence and that company is pretty much doomed. Even if the law becomes adequate, the rules of evidence will get in the way because the bulk of ALL companies have a lovely disregard of non-repudiation, and the third party exploiting the two angry people will laugh all the way to his zero tax haven (Cayman Islands anyone?) And that stage will grow and grow, because there is a board room believe that their company will not get into that, all whilst they cannot see the pie chart as the chunky blubbernaut in the room ate it. And the game gets to go from bad to nasty, with cryptocurrency the appeal for many increases whilst the ability to find the people involved goes from tiny to a number approximating zero and the law is not ready, it hasn’t been ready for several years and as sources give us “One of the reasons why corporations engage in industrial espionage is to save time as well as huge sums of money. After all, it can take years to bring products and services to market and the costs can add up.” This is true but it is the setting that several people who were dismissed ended up with huge starting bonuses whilst being as productive as the janitors paperweight in that new company. So when did you get $675,000 a year with a startup bonus of $3,500,000 plus a piece of real estate in the Cayman Islands for surfing Facebook all day long? That is the setting that some companies face and until they adjust the safety in their firms, they are the companies with huge neon lights and the neon phrase ‘sucker’ right next to it. I was taught about non-repudiation at Uni 14 years ago and so far the amount of companies taking it serious is just as close to zero as the people getting convicted of it.

So whilst the media is flaming the $13,000,000 total twitch payments, we are all looking in the wrong direction. We see one side, and this might have been by disgruntled people (my speculation) but it was an attack of a side that Amazon had decently solidified, so what comes next and when will it impact something that YOU depend on? There was a lesson and it was handed to the people in 1935, so why did the decision makers not take the essential steps?

Perhaps they were done in some places but there is at present no evidence that any were done. 

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