Tag Archives: children

The Saint’s parcel

Today it is December 5th, in the Netherlands that means it is St Nicholas day. It is the Dutch version of Santa Claus, but with a difference. The story goes back to the Greek bishop of Myra, what is now known as Turkey (270-340 AD). Saint Nicholas is the patron Saint of children and the day preceding his birthday (6th December) it is the evening of presents and all the kids (until a certain age) will receive a present.

As you might imagine the week before all this, things can get really hectic, especially in the toy stores, on a global scale when we see Thanksgiving, St. Nicholas and Christmas, the numbers given to us by power retail ‘Cyber Monday Breaks Record, Becomes “Biggest Sales Day Ever”‘, these numbers makes sense as moments like Black Friday, Cyber Monday and other deal moments with discount sales is what people look for globally so that they can show their kids that there are happy times, even if it is just for a day or two. Variety gives us (at https://variety.com/2018/gaming/news/nintendo-switch-sales-holiday-sales-figures-1203038569/) even more. With their headline ‘Nintendo Sold $250 Million in Products from Black Friday to Cyber Monday in U.S.‘, they are showing a setting that is awesome.

More important it is their e-commerce sales of games that is partially taking the cake with the statement: “The Nintendo Switch is now the best-selling Nintendo console in U.S. history for that five-day period, surpassing even Wii system sales, the company announced Wednesday.” Even as we see “Nintendo’s overall goal for the financial year of 38 million units sold, though analysts are still predicting it will fall just short, hitting about 35 million“, yet in all that the analysts are eager to avoid the one setting that matters, in under two years the Nintendo Switch is about to equal the lifetime sales of the Xbox One, a number that is very impressive as the Xbox One had 300% of the time frame to get to this point. And overall the entire Microsoft issue is expected to hit a few more bumps in the road. Software was the key in all this and Nintendo does comprehend quality software. The curve is changing for the better for Nintendo as their demo stations are all over game shops like EB Games. Parents can see how amazing it looks and as the kids are having a go at playing kart and playing Mario Odyssey, we see (as I saw) that the parents are getting a smile on their faces. It is a family friendly system, where violence is limited to a paint gun with a colour. And as we see the greats (Diablo 3) added to the Switch, we see an amazing list of games titles we see a system that is more and more overwhelming when it comes to quality gaming. A game setting where quality is not the silly notion of high level graphics, no! Quality gaming is the level of fun you get out of it and Nintendo is turning heads around and for the first time in history Sony is starting to get worried as the setting now is that this year Switch surpassed the Sony PlayStation. Now that does not means that Sony is number two, they have well over 250% in number of consoles in the field, yet the fact that Nintendo is closing the gap slightly and surpassing Microsoft has never been seen before in the age of gaming. I loved my GameCube (I still miss Mario Sunshine even today), I loved the games I had and when I saw that the Wii was backward compatible I did not hesitate, yet the Switch is showing to be up to the challenge of equalling this in quality gaming. In this we see that Nintendo is getting it right and even as I questioned the stupidity of analysts with their ‘predicting it will fall just short‘, I believe that their entire setting is bogus. Nintendo has the goods and is showing it has equaled the challenge gaining on the larger advantage that Sony has and surpassing what was once the great Microsoft console and the most powerful console? It might be, yet when it offers a mere 25% of the family fun, I wonder what some people choose.

Now, we do not state that the Xbox cannot deliver the goods, yet we have always known that Nintendo was a family and younger player system. Now that we can be on the road, play on TV (via dock) and have access to some of the most addictive games (Diablo 3, Mario Kart, Skyrim, Minecraft, Rocket league) and so many more titles we need to wonder what the others did wrong.

Well they didn’t!

They made a choice and they continued on that path, Microsoft thought what it had to compete with Sony and they did not end up doing that, they soured their own milk from the very beginning in policy and hardware, they refused to listen to their gamers and they are still losing traction in the process. Even as some corrections and some really good ideas have been launched (Game Pass), they have too much to catch on. Nintendo remained on the family fun and family friendly path and they merely gained speed, and within a year they pushed for a speed that would surpass Sony annual sales and they seemed to have done it in 2018 (the official numbers are not out yet). However the consoles and the quarter of a billion in online store sales in under a month is now showing to become the monster truck of revenue. So as I personally sneer at “Nintendo stock hit a five year high of $58.45 a share this year, only to shed more than 40 percent of its value this month, with a year-low of $33.90“, I see clear numbers that do not support the actions and recommendations of these analysts. The titles Super Mario Odyssey, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild and Splatoon 2 represent 40 million copies sold. This implies that every Nintendo Switch has at least one of these games and that is an amazing result. Now set this against a company like Ubisoft (as a mere example) with Assassin’s Creed, 100 million copies over 11 titles on 3+ systems, Far Cry, 25 million copies over 6 titles on 3+ systems and Watch Dogs with 2 titles on 3 systems, 10 million copies sold. These are all decent games and when compared to four titles on one system, we start seeing the first part where the others seem to be getting it wrong. That is the comparison that some analysts do not seem to grasp. In addition, the close to flawless results against other titles on other consoles show and we have not even started with the millions of players playing Pokemon on Nintendo handheld systems.

On the day of Saint Nicholas we look at these kids and we see the overwhelming need and desire for gaming, consoles and handhelds. For the next 4 weeks it will be about that group and I predict that Nintendo will be looking at another half a billion if the previous record is anything to go by. It is likely that Boxing Day sales will add to that revenue surpassing my prediction. Clever grandparents adding an optional $30 gift card for their grand-kids to get several games cheap on boxing day sales, adding even more to the Nintendo profit coffer.

Even Forbes gave me the thumbs up (virtually that is). They had the top purchase mention with Nintendo as one of the titles and the PS4 as the most talked about, no mention on Microsoft. Even as Apple got a few mentions, the words ‘Microsoft’, ‘Surface’ and ‘Xbox’ were absent in that view (at https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbes-finds/2018/11/12/5-best-headphones-under-100/#47cb25aa5239), in addition the aggressive discount that the Nintendo gives with their Switch plus Mario Kart in the Netherlands is seeing its own fair share of mentions. If the feast of Saint Nicholas has one drawback then I would think it is the longer absence of board games. Playing a game like monopoly whilst unwrapping a present whenever one player passes go was heaps fun. There was the tension which name was drawn and as present by present was opened; whilst we played monopoly and had hot chocolate milk (it is cold in the Netherlands in December) was a level of fun I still miss.

Yet, we must not forget the hardship either, and there is a lot of that and a lot more coming; in the last year over 50,000 children died in Yemen from hardship, disease and famine. I expect that in 2019 we will see that the 2018 numbers will surpass the passing of 100,000 children. The children are too young to face what other children have to go through in other places, yet we adults cannot afford to do that. If I had to forego my optional Nintendo Switch for one child in Yemen to have a decent meal, I will end up not playing a Nintendo Switch for some time to come, even as the child still dies and I merely prevented it from dying on an empty stomach, I would do so. Even as the peace talks are being held, I fear for the lack of progress, as this is not in the interest of Iran. It is still progressing on arming Houthi; it is still facilitating via Hezbollah and the children are merely in the way there. From my point of view Europe is enabling it as they want their nuclear accord, an accord that is not likely to be the value of printed paper, the Iranian missile tests can be considered proof in this. In this part Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud is actually in a very dangerous place. Even as he is with an ally, as the Saudi Ambassador to the United States, we see that the danger is twofold. As more and more US politicians are seemingly ‘bashing’ Saudi Arabia, yet they seem to ignore the danger that Hezbollah is there, we see the start of imbalance, and as this imbalance continues, so do the events in Yemen killing even more children. The hollow words like ‘Iran has praised Yemeni peace talks scheduled to take place soon‘, they want their version in charge in Yemen, not the elected one and they are willing to let millions of kids die to get that done. So whilst the US gives us “The United States has displayed pieces of what it says were Iranian weapons deployed to militants in Yemen and Afghanistan“, whilst at the same time US politicians are unbalancing their allied commitment to Saudi Arabia, we see that in the end it is a political stalemate with the lives of all the Yemeni children in the balance and there is no reasonable chance that the children there will get a better deal out of it.

So as we see the independent giving us the goods and the stage of truth last week with: ‘US struggles to find footing on Yemen, as Iran increases influence‘, we see (at https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/us-yemen-civil-war-iran-influence-saudi-arabia-bombing-trump-weapons-houthis-rebels-a8661546.html) that the US and mostly its politicians seem to have lost their perception on the larger game. the quote “The US Senate, angered in part by the White House response to the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi, on Wednesday voted in a surprise move to advance a bill that would cut American participation in the Yemen conflict“, the emotions towards a previously unknown journalist (and ignoring all those imprisoned and dead journalists in Turkey) is setting the stage of enabling the Iran agenda. Vetoed or not, it will up the pressure on Saudi Arabia and in all this, the populist pressure is one that historically has turned anti Saudi more often than not, increasing the larger issues towards Prince Khalid bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud in other directions as well.

In all this does America even know who their allies and enemies are? The question is more important than you think, as we see on the feast of Saint Nicholas that millions of children in Yemen are abandoned. So what did this have to do with games?

When you watch your child play some Call of Duty game and you realise that it is not Battleground 5, it is not Call of Duty, or Fortnite, but it is the game ‘Holy Defense’, created by Hezbollah to let gamers and players kill ISIS members. When we are treated to: “Hezbollah has developed a 3-D computer game to capture the minds of its youth, while showing them a good time.” When you see your children play this free downloaded game in Europe and America, how much safer was the Nintendo Switch with their family values to begin with?

I agree that this is not a fair remark for Sony and Microsoft and they are not part of this in any way, but when it comes to First Person Shooters, can parents even tell the difference anymore? And when it is getting to close to the factual truth, can they even perceive how many children are getting killed in the process whilst Yemen is facing delay after delay? Should that not be the central issue on the day of the patron saint of children?

 

 

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Hunting for a fee

It has been a mere week since we saw the message from some ‘experts’ on the daughter of David Beckham. What I would call a beyond acceptable choice on the media and its non-stop pursuit of what we consider to be values. It does so whilst doing whatever it can to get ratings, to grow circulation. A tsunami of what we call ‘the Glossy invasion‘.

Yesterday we saw (at http://edition.cnn.com/2015/08/14/opinions/arbiter-royal-photos/index.html), with the title ‘Can UK royals win battle against paparazzi?‘ In my view there will be no battle, as we see the quote “While aides were quick to praise the British media for not printing illicit photos, they issued their strongest warning yet to those who choose to forgo decent editorial practices” as well as “Many would argue that all children, not just those who are royal, should be allowed to play free from the prying eye of a photographer intent on financial gain, sequestered in the boot of his car and equipped with a long lens“. It comes with the final mention “how do you mandate a global press“. Which in my view is very easy, you wage war, plain and simple!

For the larger extent the media has shown themselves to be little more than the mere equivalent of a prostitute with the moral compass that is significantly worse than that of a crack dealer.

But is this the extent of it? Are we overreacting? Let’s face it, pictures are taken every day, we photograph celebrities every day (when we can), but to what extent will we ignore a person’s right to privacy? Many like me, we will bump into the odd celebrity at times, hoping to get a picture or a selfie, many will oblige, take the time and effort.  Yet not all are in that mindset, especially when they feel unready to face the scrutiny of the lens. Some will try this at red carpet events when the stars are all ready to be photographed. So those moments are often easy moments to get the star we would like to snap for that Kodak moment. The Paparazzi is another matter entirely. They have always been in the news and when it comes to Royal families, these people tend to go completely overboard. I still personally feel that Lady Diana Spencer was murdered by the paparazzi. Now we see that her grandchildren are increasingly in danger by perhaps even those very same paparazzi.

So is this real danger or alleged danger?

This is a question that is more than just a mere legality, history has shown that extremists will take any chance to propel their own agenda at the expense of anyone else. Which means that for these extremists, the children of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge would be regarded as legitimate targets and as such the paparazzi could be intended or not aiding said extremists. In my personal view the quote “London’s Metropolitan Police soon after released a statement saying protection officers had to make split-second decisions, and photographers using covert tactics ran the risk of being mistaken for someone intent on doing harm” (source ABC at http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-15/royals-increasingly-dangerous-tactics-photograph-prince-george/6699632) is something to ponder. In my view (again a personal one) shooting one of these paparazzi’s ‘accidently’ might not be the worst idea, it seems that when these individuals realise that whatever they do comes at a cost of life, their moral compass tends to reset towards what keeps them alive.

Yet this is only the introduction to an article that graced the Independent on Saturday (at http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/prince-george-and-the-paparazzi-deferring-to-the-long-arm-of-buckingham-palace-10457349.html). Here we see the quote in the subtitle: ‘the former boss of Hacked Off, a critic of press intrusion, says this time the royals are expecting too much protection‘. Is that so?

Consider this quote: “along with the carefully posed images of George holding his baby sister, Princess Charlotte. The “bad” photos, to be clear, might look cute but they’re not, since they were taken by unauthorised photographers. These pictures are so bad, in fact, that the police have warned anyone taking them that they risk being shot. Has everyone taken leave of their senses?

I am not sure whether they have!

You see, I personally have the skill to take someone’s head of at three times the distance of what my large lens can do (the 200mm I could afford), so when a paparazzi holding a shoulder mount for their camera, could at 300-600 meters easily be mistaken for a rifle, the Leupold VX-3L 6.5-20x56mm is the size of a Canon lens, so I feel quite outspoken that the police has not taken leave of their senses!

Yet my view in all this is not even that side, it is not the ‘morality’ of the paparazzi, even though they rank up there with ice pushers on a schoolyard. This is not about them trying to get the shots of an adult, this is about children, royalty or not! That part does not matter. Just as another article that saw us in defense of David Beckham’s little princess, is setting us off in equal measure here.

This is not merely about a child with a dummy. This is about what was behind that. Let me re-iterate that. Several sources state “The comfort from sucking on a pacifier provide security and comfort can reduce the amount of stress a baby experiences“. I am not stating that I know why the Beckham’s were in that article, the entire dummy (read pacifier) could be about his little girl not feeling well, yet I feel certain that the paparazzi are leaving their own mark of stress with these children. We all have a direct need to keep children safe, those who cause a child to be in distress can find themselves suddenly surrounded by people wanting to do those transgressors harm and on our scale in general, a paparazzi does not really score that high and after what happened to the grandmother of Prince George and Princess Charlotte we see even less reasons to go soft on those paparazzi.

In my view, the courts seem to have gone overboard to protect the media in the past. When we look at Von Hannover v Germany [2004], we saw that even though an injunction was granted, we see that ‘allowances’ are made for public figures. We tend to get the following “a public figure does not necessarily enjoy the same respect for their private life as others, as matters of public concern might justify the publication of information about that person that might otherwise interfere with the right to privacy“, yet in this light, clear consideration must be given to children, especially those under 17 to be regarded out of bounds. If we can accept that Harper Seven Beckham is showing possible signs of stress, stress that could very well be brought through unbalanced and unwanted exposure to the media and strangers, the law will require additional tightening, especially in regards to the right of privacy and additional optional prosecution to those invading that privacy.

In the case of the very long lens that case is much harder to make as the perpetrator is nowhere near the victim, yet in that same case, in the case of Prince George and Princess Charlotte, the possible interpreted danger to their lives by the people assigned to protect these royal members, to them the option arrives that any threat to the royal family must be met with deadly determination if need be.

As such, responding to the allegations in the independent, no one took leave of their senses. Some took leave of common sense for money and that tends to come with a consequence. Yet the article in the Independent is quite good, it asks valid questions. When we see “People are allowed to take pictures in a public place as long as their behaviour doesn’t amount to stalking, in which case it could have been dealt with under the Protection from Harassment Act“, this is a valid point. But in this case there are two additional elements. The paparazzi could easily be mistaken for a Predatory stalkers, an individual spying on a victim in order to prepare and plan an attack, which led me to the extremist link. A side that the writer of the article should have mentioned more prominently. In addition, this is not against adults, this is against children, a group that deserve additional layers of protection, no matter how public a figure their parent is, or both of them are. A situation that applies to both the Duke and duchess of Cambridge as well as the Beckham’s. The Independent does raise parts again when they state “The couple may fear a terrorist attack, but that’s a reason for reviewing overall security, including the wisdom of allowing George to play in a public park“, which again is a fair enough statement. Yet in equal measure is that until that fear is reasonable, having children to be a child everywhere is a given right to the child and as such we, not the child will have to make allowances, including an extended right to privacy and security. A side Niraj Tanna seemed to ignore for what is likely to be founded on income, not any greater good.

So does Joan Smith, former executive director of ‘Hacked Off’ have a case here? She brings it well enough, but in my view, elements are missing. No matter whose children they are, children are entitled to extensive layers of protection, especially against paparazzi and outside (read non family based pressures). Even if these hunters take their respectable distance, the pictures will haunt them forever, they will become the object of extreme obsession to some, which tends to go wrong at some point.

In light of consenting to photography, the ‘non-consenting child’ seems to be the factor that many seem to ignore. Media law is due a massive update on a global scale, we have catered to what people regard as ‘freedom of the press’ for far too long, a press that seems to take a wide berth around PriceWaterhouse Coopers and Tesco issues (the PwC side of it), or the SFO matters connected to all this. Now, we can understand that that issue is not something that is of interest for the Glossy magazines, but the media is for the most not some little magazine. They are conglomerates. Companies like Bauer Media and VNU can invoke pressures that can paralyse governments. They control dozens of magazines that can change public opinion in a heartbeat. They only way to deal with this is to adapt laws that give added protection to media exploitation of children, whether they come from public figures or not. In addition it is interesting to raise the case of Paparazzo Richard Fedyck from April this year. The quote “The Vancouver celebrity photographer faces charges of assault with a weapon, dangerous operation of a motor vehicle and criminal harassment. He made his first court appearance after arriving hours in advance in a bid to avoid cameras and media” gives us the clear view that the paparazzi tends to be camera shy. It is equally hilarious that we get “his defence lawyer Jonathan Waddington immediately asked for a ban on publication of the court proceedings”. Irony is such a lovely dish at times (at http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/paparazzo-in-ryan-reynolds-hit-and-run-case-makes-court-appearance-1.3053082). So it seems that privacy is treasured by paparazzi when they are the focal point of issues.

It is high time that some legal media matters change as soon as possible, especially where it concerns children.

 

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