Tag Archives: Ridley Scott

Go with a smile

OK, I will be honest, this morning, I saw news pass by and it made me giggle. It was the title, I swear, the title was enough, because below the surface it is actually a serious matter, yet the writer/editor of Arab News gives us “‘Spy cell’ in Saudi Arabia sought foreign financing“. In my mind, I saw the image of two freshman at Berkeley University in California, walk into a wealth managing corporation like Rothschild’s and tell the CEO, that they found a way to overthrow the government and if they could please get some funding (at http://www.arabnews.com/node/1306306/saudi-arabia).

I know, you are giggling now too, but that is what they title left me with, yet it is actually a lot more serious. You see, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a monarchy. Like all monarchies there are set rules and regulations on what to do and more important what not to do. Anyone with a primary school education knows this, no rocket science involved.

Yet, below the title, under the image we see a caption that is very much a serious matter. With: “Saudi Arabia’s Presidency of the State Security arrested seven people for suspicious communication with foreign entities and actions against the state“, you see there are two elements in this the first is ‘suspicious communications‘, which is optionally an element, yet ‘actions against the state‘ is actually quite clear. The question is how it all fits together, and make no mistake, there is a clear setting that it applies to a hell of a lot more people than merely those in the KSA, so you better wake up fast.

The elements of worry are seen in the first paragraph. Here we see “sought to “incite strife by communicating with foreign entities hostile to the Kingdom and to establish a false legal organization, according to information received by Asharq Al-Awsat from informed sources“, it could impact a lot more people than you think. In light of the escalations of Vision 2030 as well as the setting in Neom, we are bound to get a few cowboys trying to strike it rich (I am definitely one of them), in a setting of a total amount of close to $800 billion, or $800,000,000,000, I too will happily try to pick up a few coins, I will as the non-greedy person that I am happily settle for 0.001% or $8,000,000. I have a weapon system, an idea to make an Iranian nuclear reactor do the runaway on its own operators (by using the principle of a snow globe), which is my way of telling Steven Walker from DARPA that his behavioural sciences degree is not that useful in a nuclear physicist setting (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk), no negativity on Steven Walker though, he is slightly smarter than most smart cookies, and in addition to the earlier two ‘solutions’, I also considered a solution that I thought up to solve the UK NHS issue, which actually has a lot more applications under 5G.

I am not digressing, you see, these idea’s all need funding, now there are a few players with ideas that are all good and proper and in the 11th hour one of the backers walks away (reason is irrelevant), so now this (young) upstart needs to fix things fast to get its fingers in the Saudi Arabian treasury till of Vision 2030/Neom. In this he reaches out and he finds an interesting backer and meets with an entrepreneur in Qatar, now we have close to the same setting as we just read. Qatar and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are not really on good terms. Now add a few emails that skates around the funding and we have a setting that might be seen by Saudi Arabia as a worry, when we consider that Qatar has its own ‘Smart Digital plan‘ for 2030 we get a setting that some people might consider selling their idea twice. It is not far-fetched and it is definitely on the minds of close to a dozen growth driven people in Silicon Valley. Now we have a very different ballgame and that is not even considering those people who have been working as 3rd party developers for places like Palantir; anyone of those developers when they approach both Saudi Arabia and Qatar might be seen as just such a transgressor.

We forget that each nation has its own set of rules and even as some think that they are ‘shielded’ as they are American or perhaps Commonwealth citizen, they better wake up fast and realise that in national interests, it is the nation where you are where you need to adhere to settings. This works in both directions. We see this with “Dr. Ibrahim Al-Nahas, member of Shoura Committee Council on Foreign Affairs, told Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday that the Kingdom is capable of overcoming many security challenges due to the vigilance of its security apparatus“, I do not for one moment disagree with Dr. Ibrahim Al-Nahas, for the most merely due to a lack of data, yet what he optionally forgets is that this system is going to get tested more and more over the next 5 years from all the parties who are trying to get an option to what we should consider is the largest technological jackpot in the last 25 years. We have not seen the option to such opportunities since the beginning of Windows 95, so there will be a massive flock of cowboys trying to land a deal with numbers optionally up to 9 zeroes behind a number, so you better believe that thousands of ‘innovators’ will come with their idea of a lifetime, which could potentially swamp the security apparatus.

In case of the article, it is about seven people who have been active to facilitate by acts that are considered “hostile to Saudi Arabia, to receive financial support in exchange for continuing to incite trouble”, which seems to be a decently clear setting. Yet it will not always be that clear when we see “It said authorities detected coordinated activities by a group of people, who carried out organized work to violate the religious and national principles of the Kingdom“, in the setting as quoted, there are a number of issues, religious principles being the first one that carries weight, because most cowboys seem to forget that Saudi Arabia is a Muslim state, as such it acts on religious settings. That is also the case in America where they have the pledge of allegiance, which gives us “I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God“, this is important, because many nations have something similar. So when someone noticed that McDonalds in Saudi Arabia advertised “We renew our allegiance and obedience for his royal highness, the servant of the two holy mosques, King Salman the son of Abdul Aziz Al Saud, and we support Amir Mohammed bin Salman, his son, to become Minister of Defence and Prime Minister and to be nominated as successor.  God give him wisdom and equip him to rule his kingdom. With peace and prosperity, McDonald’s“, in this the response by someone who appears to be a Canadian, we see “Ads in Saudi Arabia placed by @McDonalds pledging allegiance to the new crown prince….am I the only one that finds this totally bizarre?“, I think that he did nothing wrong, even as he thinks it is weird, but when you are so far removed from a true monarchy setting, you forget small things. I too when I was in my military time had to make the pledge of allegiance, which in my case was to pledge allegiance to the monarch, obedience to the law and subject to martial law  with: “Ik zweer trouw aan de Koningin, gehoorzaamheid aan de wetten en onderwerping aan de krijgstucht. Zo waarlijk helpe mij God Almachtig“. Even as martial law no longer applies to me, I still feel that my oath obliges me to come to the aid and protection of the Dutch royal family until my dying day. It is something we accept, it matters to us, to any monarchist. So it is the same in Saudi Arabia and you better believe that (roughly) 99.99992% of these citizens will comply and enforce that oath on all those (citizens) who think they need not do that.

I feel that global businesses forget about such settings and they are optionally shooting themselves in the foot by not educating their staff members when having to go to such places. It matters because we all make mistakes and there are transgressions which are usually forgiven (unless you make an error under paragraph 322(5) under UK immigration law, then you are truly screwed), yet when you make mistake after mistake, even unintentional, merely because you come from a very different environment, you could end up burning the brand you represent permanently in that nation, which might be a nice little challenge for Apple, Google and IBM to survive. Although IBM is more business strict, but the Apple and Google mindset might find it increasingly hard to adjust and that is where losses are made, really large losses I might add.

So even if you are laughing now on the ridiculous setting I am offering, you better realise that the law in not a funny matter in Saudi Arabia. It is set to be written as “Saudi Arabia is a state built on the foundations of justice and it enshrines the principal of equality for all before the law”, you better realise that within many nations there is a consideration on what defines ‘foundations of justice‘. According to some sources Saudi law in theory allows that the ruling of a death sentence is a real setting, now we can understand that we know not to commit murder, yet in that same setting Espionage and Treason also gets your head separated from your body just like in: ‘off with their heads!‘ (Quoting the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland), now in the technological setting that is happening at present in the beginning of the article, the involvement of Qatar (fictive example), treason and espionage are actual options now coming to the surface? Now we all know that being well prepared stops such things from happening, yet who knew that Adultery and Waging war on God are equally punishable? So when you think that you have a nice option for Saturday night in your hotel room, did you realise that if you live by ‘it doesn’t count in you are in another country‘, your future might end up a little more grim than when you got out of bed that morning? And that is even before we get to Waging war on God, which is an issue on several levels. You see unless you have a clerical mind, the dangers of waging war on God is an open field, you can be transgressing this unknowingly if you are a Christian and that is something one must be prepared for so that it can be avoided.

If I understood it correctly the ḥirabah is seen as ‘enemy of God‘. The reference is seen in verse 33 of Surah al-Ma’ida of the Qur’an. It sets punishment for “those who wage war against Allah and His Prophet and strive to spread disorder in the land“, yet ‘disorder in the land‘ is a much wider concept nowadays then when what it was in those ancient days. We see that wisdom when we look back to those days as ‘banditry in open country: a uniquely destabilizing threat to civil order in a pre-modern society’. You might think of it as folly, yet in those days when towns relied on commerce and traders, banditry could have far-fetching consequences for the entire town, perhaps even the region. You only have to look at the movie ‘Kingdom of Heaven‘ a Ridley Scott masterpiece to see what a massive destabilising factor the Christian knights and people tended to be in those days. They were basically whoring and pillaging whenever possible (basically every waking hour), and no one considers the impact that left the Muslim Arabic nations?

This all matters because when you are trying to tap into the wealth that Arabia as a whole is offering, you better know what you are in for, you better be prepared and you also better leave some of your values (or lack thereof) at home. The setting of this stage seems all too appealing, yet many nations have a clear legal directive and as I have been hearing some of the conversations around me, it seems to me that some have not considered the impact they are setting their perception, what they think is happening and what is perceived. So when I heard someone say “go there, smile a lot and make a fortune. It works in japan“. Now, I am not certain whether that would work in Japan to that degree, I am decently certain that they will lose a lot more than they bargained for when they are totally unprepared going to Saudi Arabia thinking that they strike gold with a mere presentation and a smile. Because the wrong presentation can easily be perceived and what you thought was a nice idea in the end brought chaos in the land, good luck setting up your defence at that point.

I believe that good business is always available in every nation; the wisdom is to comprehend the rules of that game in that nation and abide by them, not as best as you can, but completely. In the age of compromise I think the current generation is oblivious to that danger, they have been so used to go by ‘let’s compromise’, not everyone is willing to do that. In this considering John Braithwaite’s excellent work ‘Corporate Crime in the Pharmaceutical Industry‘, it is not about the pharmaceutical part, the issue is the setting of corporations. By the time that you have gotten to chapter 4 (fraud in the safety testing of drugs) or chapter 5 (criminal negligence in unsafe manufacturing of drugs), by that setting you will have seen close to a dozen issues that could perceive you as the party responsible for creating ‘disorder in the land‘. This is merely a academic setting, I am not an Saudi Attorney, I have no experience in practicing Muslim Law, but these were the questions that formed in my mind and In all this I see a clear element missing in all the presentations that passed my eyes, seeing them scrutinised in a setting of Islamic Law seems to be important, because the law in Saudi Arabia is not set in the Crimes Act, the Data Protection Act, the Human Rights Act or the Mental Capacity Act. It is set through the Quran and that is a very important distinction.

For the most, when people are going for the jackpot, they tend to be as prepared as possible, yet in all this, more than just a few have forgotten that it is not merely a presentation, they better be aware of the legal lay of the land, as well as the social and personal norms that are required in Saudi Arabia (as with every nation you want to do business), we seem to look at the EU where almost anything is valid and not illegal, as such they forget that there are places where that approach will not work.

Did I get all this from a mere reference to a Spy Cell in the Arab News? Well, not exactly! I had been looking at parts of this for a little while, merely because some settings require investigation on any level, and the more I had to dig into certain messages the more I was confronted with people quoting the Quran, which came to a focal point when I was confronted with ‘French Proposal to Change the Quran’, which was from early may this year in the Atlantic. Apart from the blasphemy that it represents, which passages from the Bible regarding slavery or women as servants of their husbands have been removed in the last 50 years?

Opposition of such views was given by Tareq Oubrou, the prominent French imam who oversees the Grand Mosque of Bordeaux. Here we see “the notion that anti-Semitism is built into Islam is “theologically false,” he added. As monotheistic “People of the Book,” Jews and Christians enjoy a special status in Islamic law. Historically, they were considered protected dhimmi communities, which meant they were allowed to practice their own religions, although they were subject to a tax and various indignities that symbolized their subordination to Muslims”, by the way, this was an act that Christians did to the Saracens in Italy (also seen in ‘Kingdom of Heaven’), so let’s not throw mud when we know that we have done the same thing.

In the end, wherever you go, feel free to go with a smile and be prepared for what you face, knowing the legal and religious lay of the land is a rather important step that most seem to ignore, it might not matter in all places, but not preparing in places where issues like that do matter is merely the greater folly.

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A flawed generation?

I was browsing the Guardian, more important the movie section. Then a thought came forth. It made me grab back to a Ted presentation, one of the most moving ones from 2006. Sir Ken Robinson treated us to comedy whilst underlining one of the most important issues, or so it should have been, watch it at https://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity, it will be the best 17 minutes of your week, so how did I get here?

So, I was browsing articles, some I have already read like (at https://www.theguardian.com/film/2018/feb/05/the-cloverfield-paradox-review) ‘Netflix sequel is a monstrous mess‘. The few quotes that sprung out were: “disparate elements carelessly smashed together“, “most of them largely nonsensical“, and “the underseen ‘Life’ managed to combine thrills and ingenuity“. Yet this is not the only article. The second one is one that I had not looked at before (at https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2018/feb/05/black-panther-fought-off-a-toxic-ghostbusters-online-campaign-rotten-tomatoes), you see, I have mixed feelings on this movie. The trailer was awesome and I would love to see it, yet unlike the other ‘super heroes’, this is one comic I never read. Not intentionally mind you, you see whilst growing up in The Netherlands, the 70’s gave me some comics, but not all, so some franchises never made it across the Atlantic river. I did see the Black Panther as there was a guest appearance in like ‘Fantastic Four’, but that was pretty much it (besides Captain America Civil War). The other heroes are not a mystery and I had seen at least a few comics from each of them. So my mixed feelings are about not being able to relate it to the comics, so some of the background will be unknown to me. That’s all on that. The article became a larger issue when I saw “this attack was aimed at the most high-profile movie ever to feature a predominantly black cast felt racist” as well as “In an era when culture wars are predominantly fought on social media, this sort of down-voting can seem like an effective guerrilla tactic. Clicking on an angry red face or selecting zero stars is even easier than adding your name to an online petition“. It does not make sense to me to have hatred of a product you are utterly unfamiliar with; it counters art and creativity in almost every way as I personally see it. It goes on with the third article (at https://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2018/feb/13/venom-trailer-tom-hardy-sony-spider-man), where you can read: “In recent years we’ve seen examples of movies that have triumphed at the box office almost entirely on the basis of snazzy advance publicity“, as well as: “fans were more interested in finding out what the new big screen version of Venom looks like than charting the next stage in Hardy’s career-long mission to channel the most eccentric human beings on the planet. And, on that count, they were left profoundly disappointed“. It was at that point that I remembered the Ted Talk with Sir Ken Robinson, the presentation that is still funny and legend after almost 12 years. What is more important that it is actually more to the point as an issue nowadays? When he states “Art, we get educated out of it!” he made a stronger point than even he might have envisioned. I think that this time was recently in the past and many of us have gone to a negative point past that. This could be considered on both side of the isle. The ‘haters‘ who seem to use whatever option they have to be toxic against whatever they want to be against using automated channels to ‘voice‘ it, or to merely spout their discriminatory bias. Yet on the other side, we see flaws too, with “Sony, of course, is facing a very different problem, in that its previous big screen incarnation of Venom was not beloved at all” we actually don’t get to see it, it is merely a reflection of a ‘failed’ movie, yet when you consider that they made $890,871,626 whilst the production costs were set at $258 million, I wonder what they are bitching about, because they took home a nice clean half a billion plus. So what gives? I think that Netflix, HBO and others are making the same mistake I accused Ubisoft of in the last few years. By relying on some business model with forecasting, a model set ‘to not get a failure‘ we are treated to the near impossibility of seeing an actual mind-blowing movie. If you are unwilling to move that could be a failure, you will in addition also miss out on making an exceptional win. It is like the line between genius and insanity, it is a very thin line and walking it is the only way to get something truly exceptional.

This is also seen in another way, most will not agree, or even be aware, but Ridley Scott is the person ending up making one of the most awesome and most amazing Crusader movies ever made. Kingdom of Heaven is seen as an utter failure to some, but the movie costing $130M still brought in a little over $211M worldwide. That’s still $80M in the pocket, I would instantly sign up for that. So as we see that ‘forecasting models‘ are becoming more and more the daily bacon of our lives, we are not moving towards better profits, we are moving away from exceptional achievements. There was a second reason to mention Kingdom of Heaven, you see, just like the Abyss, the trailers were actually bad, I consider them no reason to watch the movie, but the end result was in both cases spectacular. The dangers of marketing jives and kneejerk reactions to incomplete data, is that the studios seem to be overreacting. If it is not a positive Hype, it will not be a success. We see that danger to Venom, which would be somewhat of a risky choice no matter how you slice it, but in equal measure, the danger could to a much smaller extent also apply to Aquaman. It is a lot smaller, because Jason Momoa rocked it in Justice League, so he has created momentum. Another example will be seen when places like Netflix will grow the comic book Universe and add other characters, like for example Moon Knight, or more apt, as the New Mutants arrives in 2019, will the makers be willing to make Illyana Rasputin (aka Magik) dark enough? That is the question that the viewers/fans face. Even as the moviemakers are now direct enough (John Wick) and sexual tensioned enough (Spartacus, Game of Thrones) to take a leap to the edgy side, but when we see the absence of the edgy sides, was that truly the vision of the maker, or is that the forecasting model on how the prediction on what I regard to be unrealistic data to be setting the stage?

I cannot prove either part in this, but I am hopeful that outdated concepts are moving away further and further (John Wick is a nice example), but is it enough? You see, the more primal anything is, the more it links to our emotions and creativity (I personally believe that they tend to go hand in hand).

When it comes to the superheroes we tend to look at the legend Stan Lee and why not, he showed that creativity drives popularity and profit. The man has been around since 1922 and he was part of the creation of Spider-Man, the Hulk, Doctor Strange, the Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Black Panther, the X-Men, Ant-Man, Iron Man and Thor, representing well over $8 billion in movie revenue. So the larger bulk is all on him. Yet, I also want to see how this creativity is seen by the new makers like David Wohl, Marc Silvestri and Garth Ennis who created the Darkness. Can the dark view of Jackie Estacado, be created in the really dark way? As a videogame it was well received and ended up being an interesting setting, yet how would that work for the big screen? The problem is that the setting is now no more about the art (mainly), it is about the profit. Stan Lee had the benefit that the art stage was powerful enough and proven to be strong enough that most ‘forecasting models’ would remain obsolete, yet that path would be much less considered for anything new and unproven. We have seen How Azrael and Knightfall Batman were well received as comic books, but Azrael and the order of St Dumas, as a movie, or Netflix series, would it even survive if the character and acts were not dark enough? Will the ‘fan’ still embrace it when the forecasting models push the makers into making it into some Disney angora woolen soft product version, would it then instantly flop? I personally hope so!

The Main event

So as we saw some of the franchises evolve for the big screen, there seems to be a tactical and business side, but less of an artsy side to this. It is almost like we can no longer do that proving the point that Sir Ken Robinson made in 2006. As we look at how much coin we can get from a comic book transfer, we see a similar danger that it is merely the reutilisation of something already made, which in this light shows how rare the movie Life is (apart from the fact that Ryan Reynolds can make most movies watchable). Even as it seems to have been down written in reviews, I found it very enjoyable, in addition to that, the work of the other main cast members Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson and Hiroyuki Sanada was excellent. The issue is not just what is original, but what could make it. To see that distinction, you only need step out of your comfort zone and take a look at the Japanese movie ‘the Audition‘ (there is only the Japanese edition with subtitles), so you can’t be dyslexic for this one, or you need to be fluent in Japanese. That is the nice part of primal sides in any movie. It is the dark and unsettling side. It is easy to get to the primal sides of lust, because sex sells, it tends to do so with the greatest of ease. It is the other side where we are bound through discomfort, where we see exceptional works rise, but these instances are extremely rare which is a shame. In comic book world the fans are hopeful that they will see a good version of the Sandman, but that is still the stuff of ‘questionable future events’. So how can we rely on creativity to bring us an exceptional original movie, that whilst there is growing evidence that creativity is moving out, out of nearly all our lives, how can we move forward? I actually do not know. I have tried my hand at creativity in many ways, but I was never a movie maker, a storyteller (like all others ‘working’ on my first novel, which is currently approaching 60,000 words).

Getting back to where we had it

So how can creativity be reintroduced to the people? Well starting to create something, or better start to create anything is always a first step. We tend to replicate, then emulate and after that create. It is these actions that drive movies, TV series and video games forward. For something to be better than a mix of two (like a Pokémon RPG), we need to see it where we create within ourselves. This is how I found an optional new way to sink an Iranian frigate, how I came up with the concept of the Elder Scrolls: Restoration (ES6) and how I got the idea on two different kinds of RPG, as well as a new solution to resolve the NHS issues in more than one nation. Yet, even as the ideas were seemingly easy to grow and adapt; how to get them into reality? I am not a programmer and equally limited in my drawing skills, hence I rely on storytelling.

We see part of this (at https://www.polygon.com/2018/1/31/16952652/david-brevik-it-lurks-below-announcement), where the maker of Diablo is now building something new. Even as it looks familiar and it has elements of Minecraft (or Blockheads), we see the growth of a new approach, just like I saw with Subnautica which is an awesome result to an entirely new approach on survival RPG. Even as David Brevik revamped the 1985 game Gauntlet, and added more famous characters to create ‘Marvel Heroes’, the span between the arcade machine and Marvel Heroes gave it not just a more fresh approach, it gave it a new dimension as you could grow different super powers/skills making the game very replayable. So, even as I came up with this ‘new’ RPG, I did remember my many hours in the 7 cities of gold game on the Amiga and that shaped some of my ideas. Even as some of these games have been forgotten, the Amiga was a leap forward in those days. It had hundreds of games that were innovative (for a system with a mere 64Kb), so the fact that some of these ideas have not been restarted and evolved is simply beyond me. Now, is that new and creative? That is a point of view, by altering and evolving a game, it becomes a different game, by adding to it, the game does not merely becomes bigger, it becomes more. Now even as some games are remastered and as such remain the great games they were (System Shock for example), yet some games were nice on the original system (example Escape from Hell, Masters of Orion, Battle Chess, Covert Action), nowadays, these games would be too small, too limited and too restrictive, no bang for the buck. This is what has forever fuelled my passion for RPG (and sandbox games), the idea and the actions to do what I want, where I want, and at times when I want. Yet, I also believe that there should be inhibitors, just getting every mission, every option makes even an RPG game grinding. With limitations, we make choices, opening some doors, shutting others. It is that part that makes a game replayable and more important, it gives a much longer lifespan to any game you get.

Yet as I see it, the game makers are getting more and more restrictive, it is either making us do a thousand things on the side (AC: Origin), which is still a good game that I enjoyed, or we get into the grinding mode (Monster Hunter), a part in gaming I really do not like. Even as the graphics are amazing, it is the grinding that gets to me (I played the game on the 3DS). In that regard, the makers aren’t really making it easy for us, with Horizon Zero Dawn being a novel exception. In 2018 a new look on Spiderman is keeping us interested, but the actual ‘new’ additions seems to be limited to Sea of thieves, God of War and Vampyr, these seem to be the only games that are actually new and God of War only makes that cut because it is in an entirely new setting with only the playable character remaining the same, whilst the game play has actually change (a lot) from the previous 3, making it basically a new game. So including Monster Hunter there are 5 new games, the others are pretty much franchises (I left PC games out of the consideration).

In the end

Even as it is most visible with games, there is also an issue with movies nowadays. I love to see something really new, I equally enjoy the DC and Marvel movies, but if we take these and the sequels out of the equation, I am saddened to see it boils down to Red Sparrow, Annihilation, and Ready Player One. The rest seems to be either sequel, remakes or an altered version for something we have seen before. That does not make them bad movies, it is merely not really new, which is the issue here, they come through creativity. Isn’t it sad that the innovative list of truly new works is not growing to the degree it is? Now, we can look beyond borders, yet the reality is in my personal view that we have become less and less creative and we are losing out in several ways. Even if we are not game makers, TV producers or movie makers, as an audience we are equally missing out and we need to find a way to repair that flaw. One of the psychology views is: “Creative individuals are remarkable for their ability to adapt to almost any situation and to make do with whatever is at hand to reach their goals. If I had to express in one word what makes their personalities different from others, its complexity. They show tendencies of thought and action that in most people are segregated“. Even as the shrink focusses on complexity, I do not adhere there, I believe that the creative mind becomes ever better in analysing complexity and simplifying it, and reducing complex matters it into something ‘manageable’. It is an ability every person can have, but I believe that as our creativity levels went down, we lost some of that. The ‘business results driven‘ educational world has done this to us. We see the results more and more around us. We are blindly relying on automation and process instead of common sense. I am not stating that we should not adhere to these elements. I merely believe that once an automation or process failed that it will take a lot longer for people to react and that is not a good thing. Westpac saw such a failure only last week. With: “The meteoric rise of automated credit card applications has been called into question after Westpac was forced to refund a total of $11.3 million to credit card customers. The refunds, which worked out as several thousand dollars per customer, were necessary because the bank’s online assessment process had failed to gather enough information about the customers’ financial situation“, when we consider “Corporate watchdog ASIC said the crux of the problem was that Westpac had relied on automated application processes” and “Westpac admitted that customers’ employment status and income may not have been “directly reconfirmed in the credit card credit limit increase application process”” could be seen as optional evidence that a more creative mind would have seen the flawed complexity and beyond that optionally saved their boss 11 million. That is merely my point of view, but I stand firm on our loss of creativity, it is all around me every day. It gives rise that we have become a flawed generation; we lost more than we bargained for. I reckon that the academics will state that this element was a separate question and they were not instructed to focus on that as they designed the education system of the 70’s and 80’s, we can go on that this flawed system is still in place today giving us the danger of a descending line of our creativity and actual new experiences in the arts, a frightening concept to say the least.

 

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Insomnia Rules, OK?

It is 3:30, for some weird reason, I cannot fall asleep and I have no intentions to play a game until I get tired, so what do you do? You start looking a little more intense at twitter and that’s how I got into the twitter tweets with a Human Rights Lawyer. Now, I am all for human rights, were it not for that pesky HRA at times, but that is not the issue. There actually is no issue. You see the tweet that got this all started was :

hr_tweet

The issue given was “I, for one, have always been somewhat bemused by the concept of a right to life. What about the young girl who tragically dies of leukemia? What happened to her right to life?” To be that made sense. You see, I am not against a right to life at all, I just wonder how you can set a phrase like that to law. You see, I have been on the other side of matters, so the right to life as seen as a concept where it is not under scrutiny of capital punishment, war, abortion, euthanasia and justifiable homicide is very much the core of the matter, The one part some add, mainly ‘public health care‘ is not in question in this case (it should be a given right no matter when, how or who). I am not against capital punishment and war allows for the situation where lives are lost, hence the right to life is not a given here. I feel different about abortion and euthanasia. You see, I do not agree with either pro-abortion or pro-life. They are stigmatised and polarised opposites of different currencies at time. Pro-lifers are all willing to hang an abortion doctor at the nearest tree, whilst pro-abortion seems to see it as a solution for unadulterated sex (read: exaggeration for dramatic effect), which is how I see these two players. In my view the truth is in the middle.

There are clear cases where abortion needs to be valid, yet I feel uncertain on the wisdom to where the line should be drawn, on the same issue, I see that pro-life doesn’t always have a clear case beyond their conviction. That view tends to be smitten with parts of religion and natural law, yet the full acceptance of both cannot be maintained, so a blanket pro-life abolishing abortion as a whole is equally unthinkable to me.

The best term is the worst classification

You see, for the most I am not against the concept of right to life, but the title itself is unrealistic in a few ways, making me side with the member that started ‘House of Lords member is unsure about a legal right to life‘. You see as stated, my issue makes the ‘right’ almost null and void. In that same setting, the quote “An obligation on its members not unnecessarily to hazard the safety of others” comes as a light in the dark. For the most, we have an obligation not to endanger the lives of others, we get this for the most when we consider the military. They get to endanger themselves and defend that life by taking the lives of those who endanger that life. In this age of terrorism and extremism (like that place you can find on historical maps, namely Aleppo).

A pro-life polarisation cannot survive, and as such the right to life comes under attack and whilst the attack on it might seem correct, the sentiment itself should never be under attack. We all have a right to life and at some point some people throw that right away and the blanket ‘right to life‘ cannot correctly deal with that situation, which is why the House of Lord member makes perfect sense. Yet telling all this in 144 characters was never a possibility, which is why today is all about that tweet.

The strongest opponents in all this is Capital Punishment and Euthanasia. At times I have had a much polarised view on those proclaiming justice here. You see, from my point of view, those who cannot hand out the death penalty might be hypocritical cowards. This is way too strong an expression, so let me explain this (I think I did in a much older blog). You see, we all adhere to the law. Now let’s say that we have a rounded 70% lawful and 30% criminal population, the law will take care of that, and for the most, all laws, even those who have no death penalty do that. I am fine with that. Yet the crime part is not 30%, within that group is a 0.000001% sub group that is so extreme, so willing to take the lives of others (like terrorists) that the law can never properly deal with them. So we either wait for that person to get in a court of law (which could be after the death of many more lives). So where was the right to life for those victims? We have a duty to hunt those extreme cases down and put them to death if need be, either by death penalty or by targeted killings. Now consider the number I gave. On this world, that would amount to 8,000 people. When you consider that as per last year 2,984 were on death row in the United States, the number I grasped at is not that far a reach. You see, when we holster the ‘right to life’ and the Crimes Act as golden calves onto our field of vision, worshipping that principle beyond all, is it not fair to say that these people are willing to set the victims of these extreme criminals as human sacrifices? How is human sacrifice seen in view of a right to life? As for Euthanasia, how much suffering should a person endure until he is either constantly drugged or died from pain and suffering? I am not stating that I have the wisdom, but I reckon that at times physicians need to be able to offer such an option, especially when there is no option to manage the pain or outcome.

In this regard I now need to address the issue that some call ‘justifiable homicide’. You see, just like ‘right to life’ I have an issue with that term. I am all for targeted killing, because it comes with a switch. Targeted killing is not the same and I am not sure if ‘justifiable homicide’ is legally acceptable as homicide is a clear crime in the 1900 Crimes Act (or other Common Law equivalent). You see, the term comes with this dictionary explanation: ‘the killing of a person in circumstances which allow the act to be regarded in law as without criminal guilt‘, that could apply to the act of a Sociopath or a Psychopath. Some could proclaim: “homicide is justified when it prevents greater harm to innocents“, you see, we now get dangerously close to Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven where we hear: “killing an infidel is not murder. It is the path to heaven“, which is not the only quote, I reckon that Ridley got part of one characters dialogue from Pope Urban II, who at the Council of Clermont in 1095 is witnessed to have stated: “Deus lo vult! – ‘God wills it!’“, which is my issue, as religion needs to stay far away from today’s Laws. I just feel too uneasy on something that can be ‘justified’ especially when a militant mass comes with hate speech and offs people to safe others. Targeted killing is not like that and as far as I can tell, from my legal point of view, ‘Justifiable Homicide‘ should not be allowed either. The fact that a valid action (like that of a policeman) resulted in the death of a person would always be investigated and the officer would either be prosecuted or be cleared from prosecution, these events have clear mechanics and when we resort to targeted killings, that too comes with a machine of checks and balances. Justifiable homicide could theoretically avoid some of these checks and balances and I really have an issue with that.

So as we are splitting hairs on murder versus killing, we are not digressing from the right to life, I am establishing (or trying to do so) that there is a right to life, yet people can act in ways to negate that right. This is why the member of the House of Lords struck a chord within me. I find myself in the same situation when I consider ‘right to family life’, to which I have had an issue or two in the past. I agree that a person should have the right to a family life. Yet in the same way as he/she has that right, he/she can also squander that right. It could be squandered through abuse, either sexual, physical or psychological, which now gets me on my issue with the HRA. You see, if the HRA was a piece with teeth, then there should be a majority who would allow for domestic abuse to be set within article 3 (torture) as it is a clear form of physical and psychological torture. The fact that this will not happen (and is unlikely to do so) makes me wonder why we have an HRA (or at least one lacking teeth under certain conditions), which might clearly be a short-sighted view and position from my side, yet as I saw my mother getting beaten to death when I was young, my sentiment remains to be on the right path as I personally see it.

All these thoughts resurfaced as that one tweet hit my eyes. Now, I have been following this Human Rights Lawyer and he makes great cases and sets the bar of Human Rights realistically high and it is always a delight when he has a go at everyone’s favourite piñata in the UK, Grayling.

So, I still feel that the tweet as exposed has an issue and I personally feel that I remain on the side of the member of the House of Lords, yet merely in the fact that the sentiment on right to life should exist, but I am not sure if that is what we should call it and in addition, we need to realise and accept that this right can be lost by the actions of the person who lost it. It has nothing to do with a child suffering from Leukaemia as stated, but from the acts of a person who does not respect the right to life of another, or the sanctity of a family without harm or suffering. Both laws, humane, yet I feel too humane and therefor I found them personally to be flawed.

I needed 7429 characters more than the 144 twitter offered.

 

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Black & White are not colours

This time it was not the Guardian that got things started, it was actually a man from Birmingham, you know, the one city in the UK with an obscene amount of Ashton Villa fans. It was his sketch ‘How is this STILL a thing‘ (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XebG4TO_xss) that started it all. To appreciate what comes next, you should take a look at the video. It makes a few jabs, some actually hilarious. In the collections of laughs, there is one gem that is centre in all this. It is the mention of Ridley Scott. The quote “SCOTT: The short sharp crude answer is, I couldn’t get a film like that mounted for that kind of budget—we were $145 million, not $260 million, so that wasn’t bad– but to make Moses black and his wife Ethiopian? They never would have made the movie“. That is part of the issue, or is that part of the answer?

No matter who we want as a cast, there is still the director (the visionary) and the producer (the money man) and the producer is often not just putting his money up, but a ‘manager’ of several ‘investors’. I would like to be all in agreement and there is enough data, but is the entire issue this simple? You see, there is also something called a script and when you seek on Google, we get ‘Category: African-American screenwriters‘, which gives 80 names. Is that not part of the problem? Now, this list might be lacking in many ways, yet would any famous names be missing? Now we get something, my first step was to look for Alice walker, as I loved the movie ‘the Colour Purple’. She was not there, so I sought out the Oscars and found out that the adapted screenplay was written by snowy white Menno Meyjes, a Dutchman. Now there is no critique on that part, yet I wonder is this not part of something else? You see, my thoughts (which might be terribly wrong), was thinking that the USA has its share of really wealthy non-Caucasian people. What if they took a script, gave the option to a visionary African American director and let them rip out a true cash maker? Would it work? Let’s not forget that Hollywood is the stomping ground to a few visionary African American directors. John Singleton, Spike Lee, Melvin van Peebles, Will Smith, Forest Whittaker. There is plenty of talent there, and the list of really good African American actors and actresses would go on for quite some time. So what is stopping them?

I will give you an option, just an option, not a claim that this is the reason.

I believe that a great movie require the union of a scriptwriter and a director. If those two are not brought together the entire process sizzles from day 0. Which gets us back to the 80 African American scriptwriters. Is that truly the case? Why can’t others write about black heroes? Well, personally, from my own views as I am writing my novel, I am writing it from my point of view, my Caucasian point of view. There is no malice, no intent to stop African Americans, I have not lived as an African American, so how can I write about one, or a Mexican, a Japanese or a Chinese for that matter. I think that this is the first step in all this and it is just my view.

So what to do?

I believe that there are solutions for everything, if Will Smith can reforge I, Robot to be a success, he can pretty much do anything. Yet, how can this change the industry? This is where them billion thingamajigs come into play. A script is one thing, the money to make it a reality is another. You see, any form of visionary requires realism, it needs funding! In the set of three, the script, the producer and the director, the Director seems to be the easiest one, yet it will requires his visionary views to make the other two a reality, one that really pays off. Again, this is just my view on this.

In the first place, the American Universities. Why are they not trying to kindle the skill of artistic writing within their African American community? Perhaps they are, I do not know, but with all those Ivy leagues schools the list I saw of screenwriters is that limited?

Consider that the Writers Guild of America, East has well over 3500 full members and the Writers Guild of America, West has over 9000 full members. Now consider that (I know not the most reliable source) Wiki specifically the African-American screenwriters page shows 80 names. Now, I am the first to state that there is no statistical way that this is correct, but, the fact that not more visibility is an equal issue here. The Committee of Black Writers, part of Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW) gives us a decent amount of goods, especially when we read the report by Ralph J. Bunche Center for African American Studies at UCLA, Professor of Sociology. You see, this is not the laughing version John Oliver brought us, this gives us an academic confirmation “The familiar story of male and white dominance told in previous Hollywood Writers Reports still characterized industry employment and earnings patterns in 2012, the last year covered in this report“, in addition we see “The earnings gap between white male writers and women writers closed considerably by 2012, while the earnings gap between white male writers and minority writers remained large“, which gets me back to the very first thought, why isn’t African American America picking up the slack on their side, pushing and promoting the work of African Americans? Now, there is loads wrong with that statement, the fact that they have to do this is one, because there is no feasible way that the non-Caucasian population lacks drive, ambition, talent or creativity.

Evidence?

Alejandro G. Iñárritu (The Revenant, Birdman), Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity), Steve McQueen (12 years a Slave) and Ang Lee (Life of Pi). This is just the last 4 years, not all winners, but all amazing achievements and none of them are of a Caucasian disposition. I believe that this is only the tip of the iceberg, you see, my issue with #oscarssowhite is not the whether it is or it is not, but the fact that Americans forget that the bulk of their revenue is no longer coming from the US, they are coming from an international community. Just to give you an indication. The 5 most successful movies of ALL TIME had the following non-US revenue (72.7%, 69.9%, 54.8%, 61% and 59%). Did I say that clearly enough? That was the non US percentage of revenue, with the top 3 surpassing 2 billion. From the earlier list there is for example 62.1% of $723M (Gravity) and 79.5% of $609M (Life of Pi), so the money is there, even when we take the US market out of the equation. So, if it is just about #oscarssowhite, why are certain steps not taken? It can’t be ‘just’ the money, because Gravity costed $100M to make, so someone walked out with a clean taxable half a billion and Life of Pi left someone with $480M in the end. So there is a clear evidence that white is not the colour of money in the end (it actually tends to be green), but the stronger reality is, is that if we accept that Hollywood is to white for its own good, there is a market worth billion out there and it only requires the right person to pick up the profits.

In my view an achievable goal if the Money Man can unite the right director to the script he deems worthy. Have I oversimplified the problem for those people?

If so, feel free to make a contribution to my Clydesdale Bank PLC account on Guernsey. You see, whilst looking into this issue, I actually came up with 3 ideas for movies. That’s excluding the novel I am writing, which is written as is, with no mindset to either publication or setting it up for a screenplay. It is just a story I came up with and I surpassed 63,000 words last month. I reckon I am half way there now, could be a third, time will tell. This is not a twist to state how brilliant I am, because I am certain that I am not, what it does refer to is that #oscarssowhite implies that those at the top of the hill are not that bright at all, which only gives further weight to the utter need, for promoting what should be referred to as the #NonCaucasianMovieWorld, one that is very likely to bring in billions, because the names I mentioned earlier are surpassing that revenue with ease. Now in realistic light, not all movies made turn out to be a Gravity or a Life of Pi, but many of them end up having paths that lead to a situation where the ROI remains close to zero, making the chance of a cash cow at some point a lot better than most could conceive. Consider the source (http://www.boxofficemojo.com/), where the top 33 (Martin Scorcese being the lowest on that list, making $1B or more (over all their movies), gives only way to more opportunity for those who can see the right path (let’s call them semi-visionaries) and it is only when we get to position 122 when the gross revenue starts dropping below half a billion. Here is my view: ‘There is no black and white, they aren’t even real colours’. There is the colour green for $$$, profit and envy, there is red for anger of not seeing the opportunity and red for those betting on the wrong horse, yet even there the list is pretty long, because Director 771 on the list is the last one making $1M or more, which is more than I will ever make in my life. Now consider the other side of the spectrum. The Razzies gave us what some perceive to be the worst movies. In 2016 that was a tie for Fifty Shades of Grey and Fantastic Four (2015), 50 shades of paint made $571M, whilst costing $40M and Fantastic 4 made $167M, whilst costing $56M. Can you believe it? Making the worst movie of the year still gets you at least $100M, I am so in the wrong line of business!

So when you decide to fight #oscarssowhite, consider in addition the massive amounts of money you could be making. For those picking up that baton, I truly hope it will bring you the wealth you dream of. Good luck!

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