Tag Archives: Tom Cruise

Taught by the past

There will always be one TV channel that remains in my heart. It does not matter how they go, what series they have and whether they stop existing. They had one thing right, the one thing above it all was their slogan ‘the story is everything‘, it still reverberates in my heart, and for years (when I had cable) they proved that they understood their own premise. The story was indeed everything and they stood by it. It should be the cornerstone in entertainment, but it is not (for some). Some have a setting that is nowhere near there. It does not matter how they go that journey, how they pass the time in their product, they forgot that one truth that makes all the difference.

This takes us to Eidos. I had a good connection there for the longest time, so when I got an early copy in the summer of 1996 to take a look at some game called Tomb Raider I had no idea what I was in for. I loved it, apart from the part that the hero was a woman, the game was new, it was different and we all wanted more, that would be delivered a little over a year alter and for the most we were all hooked, not merely because of Lara, little Lara, but the setting from the first to the second became a much larger leap. Even as the story for both was not the greatest, the levels, the design and the challenges made up for that. Over time we saw that the story become much more important and as we went through the stages, on PlayStation, PC, PlayStation 2, Dreamcast, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One the story evolved and it became to some degree a real story. In all this there was an evolution (to some degree). Now we are confronted with ‘Tomb Raider – makes Lara Croft look boring‘. The Guardian gives us (at https://www.theguardian.com/games/2018/sep/10/shadow-of-the-tomb-raider-review-lara-croft) “This game revels in its own beauty, but the plot collapses under the slightest scrutiny“, now first the important part. I did not play it myself, but I saw a large amount of videos. First the bad part, a few games back. When the definitive version on PS4 was launched, I became very upset. Not only was the game shallow, too easy (on hard) and way too small. It became the first game I ever returned to the shop. I had finished the game in hard mode under 10 hours. It was perhaps one of the most upsetting acts I ever did, mainly because my gaming experience with Lara Croft over 4 systems had been so good. When we look deeper into that game we see something that was perfectly placed on an island, the setting could have propelled in many direction and the graphics were amazing, even now I look back (in my mind) to that level when you arrive near the ocean and you see that large tugboat in the sea, I need to acknowledge that graphically it was an amazing feat, so when we see the setting where we could have had at least 20 hours of additional play, but the makers overlooked or ignored that opportunity. In a gaming sidestep, I realised the same with Assassins Creed Rogue, the remastered edition. What could have been nice story to side missions ended up being merely the setting of running to a marker and press the dig button or simply violently resolve it. All opportunities missed (in that case) by Ubisoft. So back to Lara, after that disappointing episode, I decided to give the second game a miss, something I partially regret now, because the third game (for hat I saw was a pretty amazing result). The graphics were still really good, yet the story is, as I saw it better and they took effort with the stealth part. A much better game overall (comparing to the first relaunched PS4 game). I liked Lucy O’Brien’s review in IGN giving us the parts that count (at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tdEfROL2Wx8). If there is one part that I personally do not like is the use of ‘scripted moments‘. I get it that it essentially needs to be there (especially in the introduction), but in the end, the best game does not require scripted events, or requires them to be minimised to the biggest possible degree. Even as the stories are better, we need to address the Guardian verdict. We see the first quote “Shadow of the Tomb Raider nails the former, with sumptuous South American locations to climb, dive and rappel around, ranging from ancient Inca cities and missionary crypts to modern-day Peruvian jungles and towns. But it does Lara a disservice, turning her into a deadly mud-camouflaged jungle warrior without much interesting to say, pushed along by a plot that’s more concerned with prophecies and supernatural artefacts than with its main character“, so was that not always the case? I personally like the entire stealth upgrade, but is that just me? It might be, I was merely in that setting of trying to figure parts out. Yet I saw too many references towards Uncharted and Far Cry 5, which makes sense and it is not a bad thing, yet when we look back at what was and what should be, going through the other titles is not what I hoped for. Still Tomb Raider for all I saw remains Tomb Raider, so why did the Guardian give me that jump?

There were two parts in that. The first was: “Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s series of amazing places is held together by a plot that collapses under the slightest scrutiny. The narrative is an incoherent mess that goes well beyond the usual action movie/video game suspension of disbelief” and “when Lara shows up in an undisturbed native settlement filled with people who have somehow avoided the outside world for hundreds of years, is she instantly welcomed into their midst and put to work resolving their disputes? How does she communicate fluently with them? At first, Shadow of the Tomb Raider’s narrative inconsistencies are ignorable, but with every new convenient riddle or magical artefact, pointless revelation or paper-thin character, my tolerance for nonsense wore thinner“. Now, I need to tell you that I do not always agree with the assessment of the reviewer Keza MacDonald, yet that level of disagreement is more about our preference for gaming. Keza is a good reviewer, hence her view matters to me, and I have absolutely no issue accepting her view on the Tomb Raider game. I like her two issues as I saw a similar setting as an optional solution towards Watch Dogs 3. Just like I designed what might optionally become Elder Scrolls VII (6 is being made now). My setting for my version of a new Elder scrolls would have been three times the size of Skyrim with optional story lines worth 150-200 hours of gameplay. In addition, if possible I could pull it off with Watch Dogs 3 as well. This is where the FX part comes in, the story is indeed everything!

So if I can add 100% to the first PS4 Tomb Raider, which merely took me an hour or so to come up with, why can some designers not do a much better job? In case of the new Tomb Raider, we see the optional shortage, but we also see that all the Far Cry games (3 and later) gave us similar parts and so did Far Cry Primal, and the less said on the story failings of Assassins Creed (except for Origin and optionally Odyssee) the better.

The setting is extremely important, as the current Shadow of the Tomb Raider could have been 90% instead of the 81% that Metacritic gives it now, and if we translate that to the three stars Keza rating, it would translate to an optional 70% at best. This gets us back to the story is everything, when we see that this translates to an optional 15%-25% more, ignoring that element is just too weird. It is to some extent the one element that Games and movies have in common. So if we translate that to the now, we see that the right story makes the larger impact. Merely see Dev Patel in Hotel Mumbai, rated by IMDB at 93% to see how the right story makes for the impact. This translates to games as well, the better the story, the better the game. It is visible on nearly every level. Yet, that is not the only part in Tomb Raider and We see the goods on the negative side of the game as Keza gives it to us with: “Salvaged outfits for Lara offer meaningless bonuses (“gain more experience for assault kills”), crafting materials are so plentiful that they are not an exciting reward, and new skills or weapons are seldom used. Oddly, items such as lockpicks that open up new treasure-hunting possibilities are sold by merchants, not earned through exploration. It is very weird that so much of this optional content is incorporated so badly“, as well as “The places Lara visits and the things that she does, especially when she doesn’t have a gun in her hands, are beautiful and entertaining. But it lacks a coherent plot or creative vision to hold it all together, and the opportunity to make an interesting character out of Lara Croft is squandered“, that does grasp the heart in a not so good way and it matters a parts could have been dealt with in a better story setting and parts would never have been better. That negative part is exactly the impact that Ubisoft missed with AC Rogue. There we run for Viking swords, crosses on the map, opening bars with thugs, merely points to run to, yet the ‘rescuing’ of a bar from thugs could have been the start of a side quest line and in all this, much more could have been reached, when one leads to the other, instead of running over the island, from chest to chest, glitch to glitch and sometimes doing a Prince of Persia for some pirate shanty, meaningless actions that could have been a dimension all by itself in the game, all options lost and even as both franchises have amazing graphics, we see that this alone does not hold a game. I wonder how many developers are revisiting the current setting of their game that is in development, because if they are not then it does not matter to anyone how many games are being released between now and December 2019. If they do not up the ante for their own game, they will merely release something that is good, not great and it sits on the shelf until the game retail store has a large sale and the game is up for grabs at 50% or less, or people merely wait for one of the producers to add it to the ‘for free’ subscription monthly download bonus, what a waste! Merely because the simplest of all lessons was ignored by too many; It all starts with a good story, not with ‘Lara needs to look cool (or different) in the jungle, how can we do that?‘, or ‘Where is the next Assassins Creed story? When have we not yet been?

 

That is the part given to us in complete contrast when we realise that with the end of God of War we were treated to: [CENSORED TEXT REDACTING SPOILERS]. When I saw that unfold on my screen, my jaw dropped on the floor. It was not merely some twist, it was the setting for at least two more games in a way I never saw coming and I do remember my Nordic mythology. It was brilliant, indeed the story was everything and Santa Monica Studio’s treated us to the perfect meal (listening to Bear McCreary was an added desert that is just too surreal).

In the end, I know that I am a goof, I am creative and I can weave a tale like no one in my mind at the speed of the Deep Blue Super Mainframe, but overall, I cannot fathom why the game makers are not better at this, I never got that, because until lately I never thought I was on their level, yet recently I was shown (confirmed by a few sources) that I am on their level and even higher, but I am not a programmer. So when I see the lack of a storyline, I merely get sad, when opportunities are missed I get frustrated and when too much scripted issues show up, I tend to get angry. I do get the fact that some part requires scripted events. A certain boss fight, the introduction to one is the setting that cannot remains unscripted, yet at times it is too scripted deflating the tense moments it had been built to and the first PS4 Lara Croft had that flaw too much (as well as the shortness of the game).

So how can they do it better? Well this is seen in several clips in Shadow of the Tomb Raider and you might have missed them. Consider an optional reality, a reality we missed in the Far Cry, Assassins Creed and other games. You pick them off one at a time, I get that part. What I do not get is that when you are on a patrol and You are in a team, when one falls away their nerves are up (like in the Arkham games), yet in the earlier games, often enough they relax and go to their old ‘relaxed’ setting. In reality, my nerves would be in the stratosphere, so there will be no lapse and even as you can get the drop on others, only the first one is ‘free’, the others need to be close to perfect or all hell breaks loose. That part was never learned correctly, not in one decade of stealth gaming, weird is it not? OK, Far Cry did get that part right (to some degree). And even as the setting evolves over an act, a larger level or a chapter in the storyline, we see that some opponents are harder, yet the overall setting no longer gets to be more complex, which is also weird. It seems to me that only Far Cry 3 got that part better the most other games and here too Lara had her lesson to learn, or better stated her opponents. So even as we see her take out the enemy, in most cases when other vanished nerves did not get that much bothered, a missed opportunity.

Even if this is the optional end of Lara Croft, we see that there was a lot more to be had and it was missed. Will that lesson not be learned? The story is everything, but how to set the story properly in the frame of it all. That part will remain a challenge and solving it, or finding some level of a better solution will aid the game makers as well as the player, a win-win for all. In this, the loss is already there, but not setting the in-game bar higher, we see what looks really well is merely a 70% game, yet with the insight that should have been there, it could have been a 90% game which makes me sad. Yet I do acknowledge is that this game is a good game, everything shows that there is positive growth in several places and in many ways (especially the underwater parts, they were awesome), yet I feel that it is steps short of being a great game, whilst it could have been a great game. It is hard to put my finger on it without playing the game through until the end, but all reviews do support my view, the story could have been better making it overall better, and this game is not the only one that had that ‘flaw’.

So, as we agree that the past is a good tutor we see that partially the past is used to make this game better, that is good, some of the levels and the natural view that these levels seem to give is always good and this game got to be better at it and that matters too. In the end, on everything I faced, I regard this to be a 80%-85% game, whilst I feel that the setting and upgrade of the game would have made it a 90% game at least, and they should have done better than I would have been able to be and that makes me sad, especially as it might be the end of the Tomb Raider games for now. It will not ever be the death of the Franchise; it is in comparison very much a better game than that first relaunched game and several other Lara titles, which is a good thing. In my personal views, after seeing the play parts, seeing the reviews and watching the cut scenes, I get to the end conclusion that this is not the game to buy on day one, especially with Spiderman PS4 available, yet on special, Christmas sales and at discount sales? Yes! At that point it will definitely be my game of choice.

What a difference a stronger story makes.

I wonder if the makers will catch up to that part down the line, because higher ratings turns that, down the track to buy outright and in the end, that is still the name of the game in gaming, and not merely gaming. There is in my view every indication that the entire Chris Pine mess (OK, mess is a perhaps too strong a word), is not entirely about the money (what some sources indicated), I believe that the story is part of that too. Do you think that some starts would have given any ‘eff’ (censored) on money if they had the chance of becoming a main player in The Usual Suspects, or Silence of the Lambs? You have got to be kidding!

Yes, you want some decent remuneration. When you are a lead player in MI-Fallout, costing $178M to make, whilst the return at present is $726,386,554, one would hope that their income is slightly better than $73,559 for their part. If you are an extra, then you need to shut up, when you carry the family name Cruise, Cavill, or Pegg the amount should be larger (I have no idea what they are making, and I personally do not care either). Yet if the story would have been a legendary one, would you care? That is the part that matters in the long run, because over time, we will forget the MI titles, however we will forever remember titles like Ghandi and The Usual Suspects and that can drive a career (especially in the beginning as well). Star Trek showed in the Movie Star Trek Beyond that it did not consider that part too strong (even as I enjoyed watching it, and it had fresh looks), it did fall short of Star Trek Into Darkness and that was a shame. I have no illusions, getting to the Wrath of Khan levels is not to be expected, yet the relaunch in 2009 did pull it off (based on Rotten Tomatoes), so in that it had options and started to fall flat after that, I believe that this is also part of the decision for some actors to feel worried, Star Trek (2009) opened door, yet I personally believe that Beyond started to close doors, even with Idris Elba upping the ante by a decent amount, also in my personal view largely the reason it got an 85% rating and not an 80% rating. So when the actor is the pillar and not the story, we see a much larger flaw in all this and even as I do have idea’s to fix it, they will need a specific person to fix that for them over two movies (as I see it) and get the rating back to 94%, the number that the 2009 movie pulled off. The question is can they afford him and more important, are they willing to stick their necks out? In my personal view they have the option of doubling the 2009 box office revenue twice over and with two movies the overall cost goes down as well making it even more appealing, but in the end, their saviour will not be special effects or merely a good cast, it will be the story, it will be everything. Are people like JJ Abrams and Damon Lindelof willing to make that $250M splurge? In the end it remains an actual risk whether that $250M becomes $1.3B (hopefully better), and it the one factor is the one writer who can pull it off. It has never been done in any Sci-Fi ever, making it not merely novel, if it does work, will it be the game changer that brings 1,635% of cost (Jurassic Park), or an Iron Man 2 giving a mere 312%? Yet, what if we consider that it is like Gravity, ‘only’ 716%, yet regarded as the 4# best Science fiction movies of all time, would you still not do it?

How strong is the story in all that? I personally remain with the faith that the story will forever be everything, yet when it is all about the box office and $1 billion versus $600 million, what path would you take? In this games and movies are more alike than not; making it a fascinating setting, but also a very personal, and set on one’s own perspective. It is the ultimate objective versus subjective view and I am not sure what the best path is for either game or movie, making the setting for a movie of gaming score harder, not correct or incorrect, merely harder.

 

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No Health Statements

This is not the first time that we see a level of anger non-management in regards to the NHS and the medical staff. The proclaimed shortages and a government in denial over these elements. Whilst the DMG Media papers (among others) have had their fun day. The messages concerning the NHS are increasing all over the place and when we start reading about the  ‘The worst conditions in memory’, we know that we have come to that place also known as rock bottom.

This in contrast of messages like: ‘Hospital pays £1,800 for an agency nurse to work a single shift‘, April 5th 2014 (at Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2597442/Hospital-pays-1-800-agency-nurse-work-single-shift-thats-163-hour.html), Paul Dacre and ‘his’ DMG media. It is not the only case, there was a similar story on July 30th of that same year. The Telegraph gives us a similar story on January 19th 2013. This in contrast with real newspapers, namely the Guardian who voices (at https://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/01/nhs-spending-agency-nurses-cuts) ‘NHS spending on agency nurses soars past £5.5bn‘, with the second line giving us ‘Government accused of ‘truly incompetent planning’ after years of training cuts push cost of temporary staff way over budget‘, this is a situation that affects both sides of the isle as it wasn’t started by this conservative government, it started before 2010. Neither side of the political isle has given proper vision to the pressures building, and this current government is now watching from the sides as they need to find £25bn. That number is actually pretty easy to see.

Staff shortage, overhaul of equipment, shortage of infrastructure and an overhaul of the infrastructure to protect it from this ever happening again. In this we have two elements. The first is that the press is partial to blame in all this. Consider the speech by Paul Dacre “a kind of show trial in which the industry was judged guilty and had to prove its innocence” (source: betterratailing.com). I like the news in the Spectator even better with “unremitting pressure of fighting what I have no doubt was a concerted attempt by the Liberal Establishment, in cahoots with Whitehall and the Judiciary, to break the only institution in Britain that is genuinely free of Government control – the commercially viable free press“. Yet, Paul Dacre sold out his readers in an instant as he kept quiet on the changed user agreements PSN users were forced to agree to, just a mere 10 days before the release of the Sony PlayStation 4. In that, as I personally see it, he kept the people out of the loop. So as the commercially viable free press is betraying its readers. Possible because he had to orally please the ears of Sony? How can we have any faith on anything we read regarding the NHS, especially when it is coming from DMG Media? You see, the issues are very much linked. The people have been made aware again and again that people like this cannot be trusted. It is Stephen Fry who brings the best definition of the Daily Mail “the only good thing to be said about his Mail is that no one decent or educated believes in it“, which is pretty much spot on, and the news the Guardian gives us regarding: “Paul Dacre steps down from the post of Chairman of the Editors’ Code of Practice Committee, which he had held since 2008” (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/2016/dec/01/paul-dacre-to-step-down-as-chair-of-journalists-code-of-practice-committee) is only the smallest of positive messages, even as he attacks it on the way out. Yet the Mail Online, which is owned by the mother company DMG media has had a long line of issues, among others with Tom Cruise as he was identified in a relationship between ‘Tom Cruise and the head of the church of scientology, David Miscavige‘, which might or might not be a big thing, what was the issue that the publishers were unable to defend themselves and even as we see ‘diplomatic’ responses like ‘Mail Online had failed to demonstrate that it had complied with its obligations under the first clause of the editors’ code on accuracy’, and as Editors’ Code of Practice Committee is part of IPSO, and they administered ‘penalties’ on a DMG Media sibling, the news that the Guardian gave “Regulator to reconsider whether the editors’ code, and its rules, can apply to a global digital publisher” (at https://www.theguardian.com/media/greenslade/2016/jul/19/ipso-review-after-mail-online-fails-to-defend-tom-cruise-story), so at this level of ‘contemplation’, something I personally tend to see as ‘inbreeding’, they are contemplating ‘a commercially viable free press‘. Are you freaking kidding me?

This sidestep is essential, because if it does not come from the Guardian, the Independent or the Times, we cannot be certain of anything nowadays, so as we lash out against the NHS, its governance and the consequences its patients face, we seem to be spurred into a false sense of righteousness as we kept on reading regarding those £225 an hour nursing jobs, which should be seen as misrepresentation of the highest order! The Telegraph isn’t helping any as they publish that the NHS now has access to Artificial Intelligence (at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2017/01/05/nhs-trials-artificial-intelligence-app-place-111-helpline/).

The part that the Telegraph does show that is important is “Joyce Robins, from Patient Concern, said: “I find this quite frightening. People who are ill want a person they can speak to. Typing in your own symptoms and waiting for a result is just ridiculous – what happens if you make a mistake?”“, which is just the tip of the iceberg.

The issues seem to escalate and there are a few players in this dramatic comedy that have to explain their reasoning. I am clear in ‘explain’ because there are sides that I am unaware of, to boast not being unaware of anything is utterly irresponsible. Before I go into the separate points. I did make a case on several levels with ‘The UK NHS is fine‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/09/20/the-uk-nhs-is-fine/), and an even stronger case with ‘Is there a doctor on this budget?‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/02/15/is-there-a-doctor-on-this-budget/).

Staff shortage.
It is the easiest one to solve, but cannot be solved overnight. Yet the shortages have been known for close to 4 years, so what has been done over the last 4 years to address these shortages?

Overhaul of equipment, Professor Angus Dalgleish has been outspoken in the past in several ways, mentioning the budget of the NHS not in the smallest way. We know that George Osborne had cut the budget by 1 billion, which in light of the shortages was a bad idea, the question is, was it avoidable, if not, how can the NHS move forward? With the current unemployment levels, how come it is still so hard to recruit nurses and doctors? I myself have had a lifelong interest in Radiology and Anaesthesiology. I am not alone in this, although in the 70’s when I was initially studying, getting into law or medicine was only possible if your parents were wealthy or if they were in law or medicine (meaning that they were wealthy). Now consider what the governments have done over the last 2 decades. I am giving that frame because we have known for at least 20 years that there was an aging generation coming up. Now the press at large seems to be blaming the immigrants, they might be as factor, yet they are not the main cause. A UK parliament going all the way back to Tony Blair should be seen as responsible for this. Those words are very specific. You see, when we look at the NHS expenditure history (at http://www.nhshistory.net/parlymoney.pdf), we see that in 2004/5 and 2006/7, Under Labour Tony Blair, the expenditure takes a massive hit, it is after that during Conservative David Cameron that expenditure goes straight into the basement, both sides fell short whilst both groups knew that the increased pressure from 2013 onwards would be strangling any budget as the NHS gets to deal with an aging population moving into retirement and an increased need for health care. None of it got properly dealt with by any parliament. In this, a rough estimate would be that the UK needs to hire no less than an additional 2,000 students a year for no less than 7 years to get anywhere near the numbers we will need in 8 years’ time, because the current shortage will increase. Perhaps parliament should take additional looks at places like the Royal College of Physicians (https://www.rcplondon.ac.uk/), we can agree that quality needs to be high, Yet when your annual tuition fee is set at £23,190 with an additional college Fee of £7,350 there will not be much appreciation on an international level, unless it is for private practice and that is where the NHS luck runs out, in addition, for the ‘locals’, £9,250 annually is still a big ticket, especially in today’s financial uncertainty. Consider the fact that this goes on for 4 years (the NHS is mentioned in several places to cover years 5 and 6), still, the average student will end up owning over £37,000 before they are actually earning anything and by the time they start earning enough to pay some back, the houses and their prices come across the corner, so these people too will try to find a commercially viable place. Perhaps they will go into journalism? Which is an issue as Paul Dacre of the Daily Mail (read: DMG Media) and Jane Dacre (President of the Royal College of Physicians) are related to one another, so I can only speculate with the question whether the Daily Mail news and Mail Online and others are setting a stage that is leaving a foul taste in my mouth. Now we all know that there are plenty of other sources making statements in the open, yet I cannot wonder if there is a sorted wave of misrepresentation of information is going on. We all know that there is an issue and that the NHS is in serious trouble, yet it requires drastic changes and a vocation that attracts many yet nearly null can afford is still a vocation with no staff.

Shortage of infrastructure.
This is seen in two sections, the people and the technology. Both are in a failed state. Even as plenty of people are looking for jobs, it seems that the infrastructure is under pressure as well. A cut budget as George Osborne had put in place is in addition incrementally debilitating to the NHS infrastructure shortage. Now in this I am not placing blame on George Osborne. The UK got themselves into a £1.7 trillion debt, the NHS is only one side of a national infrastructure that needs a budget, whilst the previous administrations have been burning their budgets like there is no tomorrow, the point has been reached where government credit cards are all maxed out, so finally budgets get cut hard all over the place. The NHS was not the first and will not be the last to suffer near death symptoms for some time to come. Unless parliament takes drastic steps and starts to change the way things are done and perceived there won’t be anything left.

Overhaul of the infrastructure.
The NHS infrastructure requires a massive overhaul, the NHS has to some degree failed itself. This isn’t just about cut budgets, this is about the essential need for hospitals to be lean and mean (read: not average). Processes need to change, the objectives of hospitals need to change. Larger implementations are required that deals a blow to the posts that have too large a cost. One if the implementations would be that alcohol and/or drug related injuries are no longer treated unpaid and only treatment when upfront payments are placed. It will be the first harsh response to binge drinking. It was stated a year ago that binge drinking is costing UK taxpayers £4.9 billion a year, which boiled down to almost £13.5 million a day. Now the researcher set that it equates to £77 per person, so in my view, any alcohol and drug related treatment will be set at £60 per treatment up front. Those who cannot afford it (spent their money on booze and drugs) simply get to wait outside until that bad feeling is gone (or they can die and decrease the surplus population, source: Charles Dickens). It is my personal view that it will take no more than 1000 deaths for people to realise that binge drinking needs to get to an end. This is actually small fry compared to Australia where the annual tally of costing is set to $36 billion and when we accept that the currency is only slightly below 2:1, whilst the population is set to 1:3 (only 23 million in Australia) we can honestly state that Australia is in a much bigger mess than the UK and if the UK adopts certain policies, Australia is likely to follow quite quickly.

If these three parts can be addressed, there will still be a dangerous time for the NHS, but there is also the option that the NHS will move away from near death to extremely sick and hopefully the death of the NHS will be averted. The alternative is to put faith in the aging population to throw their numbers in another direction. You see, at present, the death rate is down. Over the last 10 years it went down on average by almost 14%, so if the elderly could be so nice to do an about face and start dying more increasingly (like an annual average of 2,500 elderly per year), we would see a diminished drain on the NHS, housing prices more affordable, you see the benefit, right? Now, if you feel that this is so inhumane, than this is the lesson you now get to face.

To have a social civil society, or a civil social society, you need to be certain that you can afford to maintain it. As the political parties gave the keys of non-taxability to large corporations, the first step in having no budget was reached, as these players had no taxation, they still would try to find every corner to cut costs. So the car industry moved, fashion production went to places like Malaysia and Indonesia and sales went online via places like Ireland. It does not take a rocket scientist to work out that jobs would decrease and governments would no longer have a budget to play with, this is what we see in nearly EVERY nation on the planet, whilst the senior management places in corporations on a global scale left those few with more money than ever before and they do not need health statements, their incomes allow for their private physician with a nurse for the happy ending.

In all this, is this a story of hope? I am not certain, you see, unless draconian drastic changes come along, it might actually be too late for the NHS, merely because of the oldest triangle in existence. I am referring to the triangle of Places, Provisions and People. Any government and corporation can undercut one element for a longer time without consequence, for a short time you can undercut two elements with minimum consequences, yet there is no chance for survival when you undermine all three for anything longer than a really short amount of time. This is what has been done to the NHS for no less than 10 years, that whilst all the players knew that the pressure and needs of the NHS would increase and will continue to do so for no less than 10-20 years. What did you expect would happen to the NHS under those conditions?

 

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Show me the money!

That is what I wanted to shout out loud today, not because of a scene between Tom Cruise and Cuba Gooding Jr, but because of the story written by Larry Elliot (the Guardian economics editor). He is not wrong, probably with his insights and degrees he is more right than anyone else so why am I all up in arms about it? You see, if he is right then there is something extremely wrong with this world. Here is the crux, either he is wrong, or the bulk of the planet has become demented. What will it be?

Why do I consider this to be my view?

The view evolves when we consider the following aspects of the British economy. First there is “The budget deficit will be almost £100bn this year and is rising. It was supposed to be below £40bn. If the current Treasury chief secretary, Danny Alexander, is foolish enough to leave a little note for his successor, he will only need to insert one word into the one penned by Byrne: still” and “Britain currently enjoys the sort of growth rate that Germany, France and Italy can only dream about. The economy should expand by 3% this year, making the UK the fastest growing G7 nation. Jobs are being created at a record rate, a development that explains why Britain is proving a magnet for migrants from the rest of the EU“, we have seen this. Yet, as immigration is not capped to the extent it should be, jobs go to the cheap Polish workers, whilst we see a massive +50 workforce unable to get jobs, which we get from the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/nov/13/unemployment-fall-masks-jobless-over-50s). “Bennett is one of more than 400,000 people over 50 in the UK who is registered as unemployed, according to the latest official jobs data released yesterday“, you see, the mature experienced workforce is deemed useless in many areas and as such, the economy will take two hits. The first one is that these people in the end still cost money, in the second that as companies rely on cheap labour; we see that they go three steps forward, two steps back; it is getting them nowhere fast and at great expense too. So as those people have an income, the companies are just scraping by, having therefor the dubious benefit of living at tax level zero. That keeps the Osborne coffers (also known as the UK treasury) pretty empty.

Let’s take a look at some events linked here “Former BBC director general Mark Thompson has said sorry for the £100m failure of the BBC’s Digital Media Initiative (DMI)“, “Siren police IT project’s £15m failure a ‘debacle’” and not to forget “Abandoned NHS IT system has cost £10bn so far“. There is a level of sheer incompetence that is beyond measure. Yet, I think it goes further than that, I think that as areas have cut back and scrapped from the bottom of the barrel, we see cogs of non-comprehension that just twirl having no connection to any other cogs. Companies, which are no longer structured in the old ways, but still presented as such, they are niches into rooms, where only the manager has access. Like the American cubicles, that only one person oversees, absent of checks and balances, whilst the people no longer talk to each other, no clear communication. That represents the new era of work. The 50+ population have seen why there are issues with the cubicle approach and the manager who needs to get the task short-sightedly done is barring 50+ from being hired, this results in a sliding slope of minimised success.

What do they have to do with one another?

Let’s get back to the writing of Larry Elliot at this point “It took until 2013, however, for the level of output to get back to its pre-recession level, the slowest recovery of the post-second world war era. Osborne thought the economy would cope with austerity better than it did. He underestimated the impact of higher VAT and cuts in spending on growth. The chancellor thought his tough deficit reduction plan would boost growth by generating more confidence in the private sector that the books were being balanced. He was wrong. The upshot was weaker growth, lower than expected tax revenues and higher than expected borrowing. Half way through the coalition’s term in office, Osborne abandoned the idea of sorting the deficit in one parliament, and reverted to a more modest plan akin to that drawn up by his predecessor, Alistair Darling

The crux is “The upshot was weaker growth, lower than expected tax revenues and higher than expected borrowing“. I think that it is not entirely correct! Yes, Elliot writes the truth, but behind the curtains we see projects failing due to bad decision making (like the headlines mentioned earlier), in addition we see mergers of an unparalleled size “The chemist chain Boots is being sold to the American retail company Walgreens in a £10bn deal that is delivering a huge pay-day for its private equity owners“, which sounds nice, but how does that fill taxation coffers? It does not!

Corporate choices are made to avoid taxation like “U.S. Treasury Seen Loser in Tax-Avoiding Pfizer Move to U.K.” is at the heart of the second tier of failures. Not a failure by George Osborne, but a failure by their corporations that bleed nations dry, whilst not being held accountable, there the nations have failed themselves by not alter the proper legislations to avoid these acts of non-taxability. Whatever happens next will happen too late, the coffers are empty and those who walked away will do so in non-taxable luxury for the rest of their lives and the lives of the next 3 generations of their family to come.

The next part has a few issues (none of them are Larry Elliot) “The foundation notes that two-thirds of people who have moved from unemployment into work in the last year are paid below the living wage, the average self-employed person earns 13% less than they did five years ago and there are around 1.4m contracts not guaranteeing a minimum hours. Over half of them are in the lower-paying food, accommodation, retail and administrative sectors” Many of these lower paid jobs are all about areas where we see high rent, a massive drive to turn around orders and well above counted hours are needed. Life in London (as well as in Sydney) has become a life not unlike hyenas. These bosses are trying to stay afloat, which they do by hiring the weak, the cheap and the manipulative. One waitress mentioned this in a forum “Now I understand I am competing with people on the dole who can be near enough forced to work for free but it still sounds a bit shady“, the mention has bearing, as people are pushed more into unpaid extra hours, less rights, less options and less energy, we see a community that has devolved from symbiotic into parasitic, with only one winner in the end, the landlord!

Both the UK and Australia have been unwilling to deal with this entity, leaving the people at large to fend for themselves without any support.

The next part is a statement of fact, there is nothing against it in any way “If it is taking longer than expected to knock the budget deficit back into shape, the same can be said of Osborne’s other objective – to boost exports from a re-invigorated manufacturing sector so that Britain once again pays its way in the world

How to go about it is at the heart of it and several options are open as they always are, but consider that out of a dozen avenues, one is a solution, three are deadly and the rest tend to have a costly non solving effect. Several parties in play, not Just George Osborne, but in that same view, Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown all had the same flaw (as I personally see it). Instead of finding a solution that is a mere band aid, they all failed to seek the solution which had the visionary idea to include the next generation. I had that idea on two instances; the one that matters here is the article ‘What’s in a health system?‘ on June 29th 2014, where I state “When people ask which company will do this, the answer should be ‘None!’. The UK is filled with universities, some of them regarded as the most prestigious and brightest on the planet. Consider that most IT people, might claim experience, yet their drama skills are the only ones that improved for the most, is it not up to the Universities, those who are introduced to the newest ideas, design a solution that would make the work of the doctors and nurses at the NHS better, slightly more efficient and a truckload of less hassle! Is that such a tall order?

Like a regional solution for a independent Scottish IT environment, the visionary approach is to bring this to the universities, to develop a new system, not just a mere frame that goes on top of something else, but an actual new system, LINUX based option, a security enhanced LINUX for healthcare, one that is designed, not for 2016, or 2017, but for the next generation. Why not give the universities access to design their new future, not leave it to these current so called executives that waste up to 20 billion not delivering anything. That visionary approach is missing and it could be the death of us all (UK and Australia alike), we have so many similar issues, why not tackle them together, open up avenues that have never been considered. If you want visionary, then look at the Netherlands, they decided to change the bicycle lanes into solar panels, do you have ANY idea how many bicycle lanes the Netherlands has? It is actually a visible percentage of that nation’s surface. Now, they decided to give it a second function, which means generating electricity, without needing any space at all, illuminating the bicycle road through fluoresces, making it safer at night. They decided to attack road safety and energy issues all at the same time. That is the level of innovation we need to see, preferably without spending another 20 billion pounds. So how about changing, or better stated evolving universities and giving them a real hand in innovation and solving future problems we have ignored and left dead for granted (like the NHS).

The last part is seen here “Ed Balls, the shadow chancellor, said: “I am not that bothered about being behind on economic competence. In opposition, we are always behind on economic competence. Brown and Blair were at this point before the 1997 election. “I would rather we were further ahead in the polls but the Tories are leaving it a bit late for a feel-good surge. That’s why Cameron is talking about red lights flashing on the dashboard. Maybe he thinks he can scare people into voting Tory.”

I disagree, Ed Balls needs to get scared shitless real fast! George Osborne needs to do something similar! Economic competence is not something that is behind, the indicators are that they are close to non-existent. As numbers are hidden behind the statistics of ‘% of GDP‘ we are diluting ourselves that we have a handle on things, once the message is that the total debt has decreased below 750 billion, we have an actual message, but for now, that 25% decrease is nowhere in sight. Life in the UK is all about meeting the payment of the interest debt, whilst none are tackling any solution regarding the total debt for the future. That danger has been voiced by several players all over the field. The message now is that ‘Investors Underpricing Risk May Threaten Growth, IMF Says‘ (at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-17/investors-underpricing-risk-may-threaten-growth-imf-says.html) as well as ‘Flug Flags Underpriced Risk as Investors Drop Corporates‘ (at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-09-30/flug-flags-underpriced-risk-as-investors-drop-corporates.html), which gets a punch from today’s news ‘New York Hops on $15 Billion Israeli Corporate Bond Boom‘ (at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-11-30/new-york-hops-on-15-billion-israeli-corporate-bond-boom.html). Like the housing in Hackney through Westbrook Partners and Round Hill Capital in the Netherlands, we see again a change in markets (like they always will), but this is different. Like Greece (again) last week with “A Greek official says the country is under pressure from rescue creditors to impose new austerity measures to resolve an ongoing budget disagreement worth a reported 2 billion euros ($2.5 billion)” (at http://www.cnbc.com/id/102222375), we see a market that keeps on getting pushed whilst there is no money left. By the way, those two players (Westbrook Partners and Round Hill Capital), did you consider combining these facts?

Have you considered when Westbrook goes market value and they merge with 2-3 other players (perhaps Round Hill Capital as one of them), when they merge, how much taxation will be missed out then, also, what danger will these tenants be placed in at that point?

So back to Greece and their dwellings, Greece should both be dissolved and offered to Turkey (just to make it sting a little more) or they need to clean up their act, including dealing with these massive strikes. Let’s not forget that Greeks themselves did this to Greece (partially through Goldman Sachs). We see cogs of greed interacting, finding new connections not to be held accountable, whilst its population gets the bill, blaming Germany for all of this. In that same light we see how we are now confronted with underpriced risks. So, not unlike the 2008 crash with all these “sub-prime” borrowers and bailing on 8 trillion, we now see governments trying to intervene by ‘forcing’ banks to make low cost loans to the underprivileged “sub-prime” borrowers, trying to create a fake boom, whilst at the same time, they have created a more likely than not risk that it will only explode in their faces, whilst imploding their economy (this is as I personally see it). Here in the end, we see that the bank wins no matter what, either the government pays them, or they just own it all. Like the landlords of London, it will destroy the quality of life for more and more people, whilst not showing any resolution in solving the actual problems.

This all comes together when we consider the IMF part on underpricing risk (mentioned earlier), there we see the part that is truly linked to all our woes: “Policy makers from the Group of 20 nations meet this week in Cairns, Australia, to discuss ways of boosting global demand. The Fed today maintained a commitment to keep interest rates near zero for a “considerable time.” At the same time, Fed officials raised their median estimate for their policy interest rate at the end of 2015 to 1.375 percent, compared with the 1.125 percent estimate made in June“. The crux: “ways of boosting global demand” it is at the heart of the failures we see. It is worse than bad marketing. The last thing we need to do is boost demand. We need to resolve debts. Yes, the US wants to see demands boosted, as it was one step away from bankruptcy 5 steps ago. They are trying to bluff into a new era of not being dead, whilst they have been unsuccessful in dealing with their debts, having no solution and even less options. We must find another way. If the Netherlands, one of the smallest nations in the world can turn around an age of innovation to their advantage in a novel way never seen before, then so can we! If you wonder how this linked, then consider how their solution can become a new era of energy independence all over South America, parts of America and all over Europe and Africa. Solar panelled roads, a patented solution that can change the face of the earth in one mere step. Once the high pressure solution is done for cars, we will see a new era of energy. Not bad for a place that is famous for wooden shoes and a leaky dike! So where are we in the Commonwealth? Where is our innovation?

In the end Larry Elliott spoke the facts, the truth and wrote an excellent article, I just disagree with the views they link to, in the end, it might be me who was wrong and it is all in the eye of the beholder!

In this age of debt, innovation and Intellectual Property are soon to become the only currency that will have any true value! The Commonwealth needs its own share of those, less it becomes as desperate as America currently is.

 

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