Thursday, 15 February 2018

Don't blame Trump, blame these people

Once upon a time, a woman was picking up firewood. She came upon a poisonous snake frozen in the snow. She took the snake home and nursed it back to health. One day the snake bit her on the cheek. As she lay dying, she asked the snake, "Why have you done this to me?" 
And the snake answered, "Look, bitch, you knew I was a snake."

How did  the worlds most famous liar, a man who brags about sleeping with the wives of his friends, and who is described by the Secretary of State he appointed as a 'Fucking Moron' end up as the most powerful man in Earth?

You can't hold Trump responsible for Trump. He's really not that special.
What fills people with disgust more than anything else is not his exceptional qualities but how familiar we are with his 'type'. The Scumbag Boss.  A grandiose low-life who preys on women, has all the empathy of a pile of dog excrement and is out for only himself. He got where he is on the work of other people and stays were he his by exploiting the people around him. We all work for the Scumbag Boss some day and wonder how Homo Sapiens ever crawled out of the cave and built civilisation with these parasites riding along on the back of the real achievers who co-operate successfully.

But, as Trump apologists know, and there are a surprising number of them even in my country, the planet is full of people bashing Donald Trump (for some reason). So what's the point here?

It occurs to me blaming an obviously incompetent, despicable piece of shit for becoming the President of the united States really is a waste of time. He sure wouldn't care, and I'm not 100% sure he's even responsible for his actions. Is Trump responsible for his own rise? If you were offered a run at the Presidency of the United States would you turn it down because you were unfit?

The blame for Trump rests with his enablers, the ones we can really hold responsible in a few years when we are sitting in an economic and perhaps literal radioactive warzone.

And they are not all Republicans.
But lets start with them anyway.

RESPONSIBLE FOR TRUMP : The Republican Party

A mystical organisation, able to materialise an army, The Tea Party, out of nothing to wreck bi-partisan attempts to deal with the last financial crisis, only then to have it dissolve like ghosts into nothing when the same issues appeared when they were in charge. (Dear media : where are all the Tea Party budget fanatics you gave such attention to in 2012?)

And they are in charge. President. Congress and Senate. And they rigged the Supreme Court. For all the lectures we used to have here in the UK on the superiority of the US constitution it seems to have become a One Party State with great ease. And that's even before Trump really gets to work.  I'll get to how this was allowed to happen when I get to The Party Whose Job It Is To Fail, but for the moment these are the people who directly enabled Trump's rise to control of the worlds largest nuclear arsenal and largest economy, and who should hold direct responsibility for it.

Principally:
  • Mitch McConnell
  • Paul Ryan
  • Jeff Sessions
but also including lickspittle creeps such as Devin Nunes and Trey now-conveniently-retired-as-if-all this-never-happened Gowdy, who have been bending over to accommodate their new Leader with no thought for the future stability, security or integrity of the country they have sworn to uphold.

Don't blame Trump - THANK TRUMP - for at least now he gives us the spectacle of the Grand Old Party slowly morphing from history's most immoral opportunists to human history's most laughable political invertebrates.

RESPONSIBLE FOR TRUMP : Evangelical Christian voters

Centuries from now, when Religious Hypocrisy is mentioned, the Evangelical endorsement of Trump will surely be one of the first and finest examples of the type.
"everyone loves a sinner who has repented!" they whined in explanation, somehow able to apply this to three times wed serial adulterer, abuser, and seducer of married women but not to missing emails of Trumps opponent.

Evangelicals, know that in the short term you may have done Donald Trump a favour but in the long term you have done Richard Dawkins and the secularist movement a far bigger one. We all know that Hypocrisy and Religion go together like money and politics, but in this you've given us perfect example that will be remembered for all time.

Proverbs 1:32 “For the waywardness of the naive will kill them, And the complacency of fools will destroy them."

RESPONSIBLE FOR TRUMP : US Car workers

US voters in Michigan watched the car industry slide into crisis during the last Republican induced financial collapse in 2008. The Republican stance then was - "Market Forces! Let it fail!" Those Michigan voters were jubilant when Obama bailed their industry out at great expense. Some of the overconfidence in the disastrously complacent Democratic campaign of 2016 was down to the belief that Michigan would definitely go Democrat, because of the auto bailout.

When it came to it though, they voted for Trump in droves. The loss of Michigan was crucial in the Republican electoral college win.

That bail out might have been a temporary reprieve though.


Who do car industry workers think will be stupid enough to bail them out the next time?

RESPONSIBLE FOR TRUMP :  American White Women voters

Next time you see a news item on the #METOO movement, remind yourself that most white women — 52 percent — voted for Trump.

I try and be sympathetic to the views of the Trump voters, particularly the older generations, but white women Trump voters seem to have a special level of utter spinelessness and transcendent airheaded stupidity that makes my jaw drop. 
They make masochism look bad.

RESPONSIBLE FOR TRUMP :  Julian Assange

“For what profits a man if he gains the whole world but loses his own soul”
What a strange tale this will be. Assange sets up an organisation which promotes the release of the truth, in Wikileaks. He then uses it as a weapon to strike back at an old foe in Hillary Clinton.
And by her defeat he puts the worlds most famous liar in the White House.



A year after Wikileaks started to expose the truth on the Clinton campaign, Trump's 'Fake News' has undermined the entire concept of  objective truth itself.

RESPONSIBLE FOR TRUMP :  Rupert Murdoch

After turning UK political debate into an ignorant nationalistic carnival, the Dirty Digger took his show across the Atlantic with even greater success. Fox News has been instrumental in the political careers of Trump and the previous Republican president, who for most of the last decade was widely regarded as one of the worst presidents in history. Bush Jnr, lets not forget, entered the US into two unwinnable wars while cutting taxes on the super rich. And only a few years later the shameless idiots on Fox News were blaming the next guy in the White House for the skyrocketing budget deficit.

That quote at the top is from Oliver Stone's NATURAL BORN KILLERS. It's a movie which still gets a lot of flak but in Robert Downey Jnr's insane character
W A Y N E   G A  L E 
you'll rarely see a more honest and accurate depiction of the Australian-American news machine.

RESPONSIBLE FOR TRUMP  : Bernie Bros and Jill Stein voters

Thanks guys. You made me see the light. I will be voting Labour in the next UK even if they put Piers Morgan in as leader. I would never want to explain why I put a bunch of dangerous incompetents in charge of the worlds largest nuclear arsenal because I voted with my 'conscience'.

RESPONSIBLE FOR TRUMP :  Putin

Putin, if there is any justice, will be blamed for turning the internet into a hate machine. The world wide communication tool which would bring us all together is hurtling us toward WW3. I can't see how that will be a positive for Russia.

RESPONSIBLE FOR TRUMP : Clinton campaign & the Democratic Party

Despite going into the 2016 election in a winning position, and outspending their opponents on the Trump campaign, who did not even 100% want or expect to win, the Democrats lost not only the Presidency but also both the Congress and Senate. I've been studying US politics since the mid 1980s and even I cannot fathom how this happened.

Trumps win, I can see now, is a long term consequence of the trauma of 9/11 and the crash of 2008. But.. "checks and balances" right? My A-Level history teacher drummed into us that the beauty of the system was that it could not be abused because one part could always hold the others in check. And if not that - you had the Electoral College as a final fail safe to prevent despotism.

This, I think, presumes that even when one party is not playing by the rules, the other one is at least doing it's job. I have no satisfactory explanation for 8 wasted years of fumbling attempts to do deals with people (like Mitch McConnell ) who patently didn't want to do anything but delay, or the rank incompetence of failing to appoint a Supreme Court judge when given the chance. What I do know is we can obviously see something seriously wrong with the Democratic Party merely by the fact that the people in charge of this historic ongoing display of incompetence are - amazingly - still there!

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, take a bow, you are almost as shameless as the reptiles in the party opposite. If you had an ounce of self awareness and responsibility you would have both resigned the morning of 09/11/16.

RESPONSIBLE FOR TRUMP :  ME

I worked on the Clinton campaign, No really. It was a fantastic experience with brilliant people, but I can't divorce myself from the outcome . Or the realisation that in four visits to the United States I've only been outside the coastal Blue states for one day, a trip to Reno.
I was as bought into the inevitability of Hillary's win as much as anyone, even when I had previously seen the serious possibility of a win for Leave in the Brexit vote.

I told worried friends in the UK that there was no way Trump would be elected as "Americans, really, honestly, are not that stupid". Elderly relatives were particularly worried but it was easier to reassure them as they remembered the country of Eisenhower and Kennedy still with enormous respect. Trump was to them frightening and surreal, like signs of dementia in one of their oldest and most reliable friends.

I told them all it would be OK.



I loved I,TONYA

THREE BILLBOARDS and BLACK PANTHER may be getting all the movie attention right now but you would be remiss to miss I, TONYA, which is much better than some of the reviews suggest in my opinion.

Told in whiplash,self referential style like a Winter Olympics version of 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE, Margot Robbie is very sympathetic as the doomed skater with amazing support from Alison Janney (CJ* in the West Wing) and Sebastian Stan (the Winter Soldier himself)

I TONYA may be described as a comedy by some, and it is funny, but it is also brutal and realistic in showing the effects of poverty and the class divide, even in a sport as apparently genteel and civilised as ice skating. The world in which Tonya Harding is from is shown in unflinching detail  - it’s no surprise to find Harding’s abusive poor as hell husband and his cretinous friends are working on a Republican election campaign...

One of the highlight for me is Tonya appalling the nice skating judges by choosing to ice dance to ZZ TOP


This is before things all start to go wrong for her, and the famous plot to cripple her rival skater would be laughed of the screen if it wasn’t so tragically real.

I usually avoid looking at award nominations but I’m very relieved Robbie and Janney have both been nominated in the major acting categories.

I’m sad now and I’m going to watch Margot Robbie again in the fake Dundee trailer leading a chant of ‘FREE BEER!’ she bangs her empty pint glass and a machete in on outback bar.


*CJ  Cregg is still high on my list as a preferred voice for my personal Alexa/Siri, (if we can just have Sorkin write the snarky responses)

Monday, 11 December 2017

Bitcoin explained using Star Trek

is Bitcoin the best candidate for 'disruptive technology from the future' ever?


from script of STAR TREK XIII

KIRK : Now the Romulan time agents have elected Trump the future of humanity is doomed

McCOY : If we could just go back before those events and introduce something that would cancel out the effects of the rise of the alt-right on economics and society...

SPOCK : An earlier introduction of Distributed Ledger Technology might accomplish that. Using the basis of the Federation's economic model might strain the processing speeds of primitive AI technology, but by my calculations early 21st century computing could rise to the challenge, if given sufficient motivation. 

McCOY (dismissively) And how does your great Vulcan intellect propose to explain the relevance and significance of DLT to the ignorant, materialistic barbarians of the early 21st century? 

KIRK : Easy! We hide it in something they understand and will embrace immediately  - FREE MONEY!








Inspired by an email exchange which featured the realisation
"satoshi nakamoto as an alien is more believable than satoshi nakamoto as satoshi nakamoto"


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Branagh is a great Poirot but a bad Agatha Christie storyteller

​Murder on the Orient Express 2017..would leave you with a very warm feeling about a potential Poirot movie franchise
IF​​
The classic 1974 version never existed
And
The first hour wasn’t so much better than the last hour


Like last years surprisingly watchable Magnificent Seven remake,this movie is crawling out from under a classic and though Branagh is a good director, he is no Sidney Lumet.

This is less of a problem in a dashing introductory first hour when (like the  Magnificent Seven remake) a smartly written take on the material and some sharp storytelling make this look like a new Sherlockian movie franchise in the making.

Branagh does a great job with Poirot breathing  real life into a character I had previously thought was a bit of a cold fish. You might say this reinvention is Robert Downey Jnrish without the martial arts. He manages to capture the difference between Holmes and Poirot - the |Belgian isn’t a deductive super computer but a sufferer of obsessive compulsive disorder who has turned it into a talent and a lifestyle.



As soon as it runs into Christie’s brilliant plot however (arguably THE whodunnit murder mystery, based on the most shocking crime of the 1930s) it falters. Lumets classic version in 1974 only barely holds the 6+ plot threads together but it does with hefty dopings of horror and tragedy.

Branagh, good as he is cannot do this level of juggling, resulting in a confused, rushed middle and then overstages the finale. Is this a common Kenneth Branagh as director thing? more interested in characters than plot? (based on this and the first Thor film you would have to say that's a yes).

In several earlier moments he has Poirot surveying crime scenes directly from above with the camera slowly descending from above into the room. It’s very subtle and effective - then we have a climax that looks right out of a bad DC superhero movie. Does it really need the Last Supper shot? That must be a hideous cliche by now. I loved it in Watchmen but please this material doesn’t need to play postmodern games with classic images - it should be classic images itself.

Performances are generally ok though some of the more senior cast seem to think they are playing alongside Peter Ustinov and Elizabeth Taylor.

It is definitely watchable and based on this I’d certainly watch the proposed Death On The Nile sequel but I would hope it has a different director. These books are from one of the premier female novelists of all time - so how about a female director - what is Patty Jenkins doing between Wonder Woman films?

One nitpick- if you can flawlessly create 1930s Istanbul and gorgeous mountain vistas with the wonder of CGI, could you not also add some cold breath effects to the actors supposedly standing around high up in a mountain range in huge piles of snow?

I saw this on a free screening with Searcys who have never served me a bad cocktail, and have always sent me away happy if not entirely sober.


Manufactured Culture War Outrage Calendar 2018 (UK)

For all our Russian friends, inspiration for British social media content for next year


​thanks to @webofevil
and @acjimbo

Monday, 30 October 2017

Blade Runner 2049 : It's No Game

It's over a week since I saw BLADE RUNNER 2049 a second time and I'm still thinking about it a lot. The dam has just burst. Prepare for random thoughts.


BLADE RUNNER 2049 is not only better than the original, by having characters you actually care about, it makes the plot of the original movie 20% better by giving that slightly abusive Deckard and Rachel relationship some consequence.

Apparently BLADE RUNNER 2049 has been a box office flop. I'm neither shocked or disappointed by this because it means I'm not going to hear theories on it from some empty headed trendy who only went to see it for Ryan Gosling.

Gosling is brilliant, better than Ford in both movies (and Ford is pretty good in this one). Gosling seems to be playing a ghost version of his doomed character from DRIVE and his work with  Ana de Armas as Joi makes for a level of hearbreak we never get anywhere near in the cold, sometimes brutal original movie.


Officer K/Joe and Joi are just about the best screen couple I've seen all year. It's horrifying when Joi is destroyed and absolutely devastating when 'Joe' finds (or is reminded) that Joi is essentially a very smart App, and the important bond he has established with this 'woman' actually meant absolutely nothing beyond his own mind.
It was a nightmarishly relatable moment.

According to Slash Film podcast review, the hero of Kafka's The Trial is 'Joseph K', who thinks he is the center of a huge conspiracy, only to find is a minor functionary. Gosling's Officer K/Joe is an instant classic movie character, tragic on several levels. The narrative's flirtation with the plot twist from ANGEL HEART is all the more tragic and pathetic when it is revealed to be a cruel tease.

Wow that was a lot of spoilers wasn't it!
Tough. You should have paid to see the movie instead of waiting to see such a breathtaking cinematic experience on your shit television.


The debate used to be
IS DECKARD A REPLICANT?
It's now
CAN DECKARD'S MANGY DOG TALK?

This movie is worth seeing more than once. After the three way love scene, between K, Joi and Marriett you hear Mackenzie Davis (also great as a kind of Pris 2.0) say to Joi
"There is not as much to you as you think" .
The first time you hear it this is needlessly cruel.
The second time, when you know what Joi is, this is cruel, accurate and heartbreaking all round.

Apparently this and other scenes are getting flak for their portrayal of women. I'm not going to defend this movie from feminists because most feminists I know have a brain and won't be offended by this movie. Like the similarly devastating and disturbing HER, there is nothing in this movie that makes me think
"wow losing my emotions to an App controlled by a immortal, omnipotent, all powerful faceless corporate is a great alternative to some sweet but dozy bird I might find on Tinder".

Denis Villeneuve has instantly become, like David Fincher and Christopher Nolan, someone whose entire back catalogue now needs to be watched. I wasn't knocked out by ARRIVAL (or INTERSTELLAR for that matter) but SICARIO is a classic. I hope he's not bitten off more than he can chew with D U N E.

Another great scene, another great actress, Sylvia Hoeks as Luv, who isn't really a powerless male fantasy figure
Standing in for Bowie (see below), Jared Leto is actually great as Wallace, 2049's frustrated Tyrell. The Slash Film podcast  summed up Wallace perfectly;
"He's the CEO of Samsung coming on stage decades after Steve Jobs (Tyrell) has left and taken all his secrets with him".

As we know Denis Villeneuve is a D U N E fanatic did he cast Jared Leto because he wants Jared Leto as Leto?

I have had issues with the BLADE RUNNER since it was the crushing disappointment of 1982 but the more I see it on better quality medium the better it gets. The first time I saw the BLADE RUNNER FINAL CUT at my friend Rob's house in dazzling HD I had a genuine Philip K. Dick moment when I thought the characters in the Philip K. Dick movie looked more real than we did in the reality that was watching it.

DANGEROUS DAYS BLADE RUNNER DOC 1 The brutal love scene in original movie was more originally more tender according to Sean Young but it was cut to look like abuse. If they were "made to be together" as Sean Young says in one cut scene, this makes Tyrell even more of a cruel god.

The more I watch the original the more intriguing Edward James Olmos's character Gaff becomes as he is obviously some form of handler for Deckard, whatever he is.

For all my re-evaluation and late appreciation of BLADE RUNNER, if you want something genuinely Philip K. Dick from the 1980s, that also screams 1980s in all it's vulgar glory, Paul (STARSHIP TROOPERS) Verhoeven's TOTAL RECALL seems a little forgotten today.

C4's ELECTRIC DREAMS, a Philip K. Dick anthology show from the channel which originally brought you BLACK MIRROR. is worth a watch. A little patchy, the most mind bending thing I've seen it in so far is Benedict Wong's spot on Mancunian accent in the episode"Impossible Planet"
Benedict Wong is also in one of the BLADE RUNNER 2049 short films  (BLADE RUNNER 2049 - "2036: Nexus Dawn") so you know he's a Philip K. Dick fan.
EDIT: Benedict Wong has a spot on Mancunian accent because Benedict Wong was born in Eccles, Greater Manchester :-)

One of the other shorts, BLADE RUNNER 2049 - "Black Out 2022", should be a full length movie and I would guess will be one before long.

DANGEROUS DAYS BLADE RUNNER DOC 2 While doing painstaking model work to ensure that every microscopic light source in the cityscape for the opening of the orginal movie looks real,
Douglas Trumble's exhausted Special Effects crew gets a trip to director Ridley Scott's breathtaking actual sets. They are gobsmacked to find beautiful interiors like Tyrell's office with light dancing around like Midsummer Nights Dream from no realistic sources whatsover.
Later, graffiti on piece of  tiny modelwork is shown to say "RIDLEY IS GOD"

We speculated in the 80s that the ultimate cyperpunk accessory would be cybernetic eyes what would show you the world as if shot by the Scott Brothers. (You could have a dropdown that could switch between Tony and Ridley).

Anyway.. back to BLADE RUNNER 2049

When listened to on headphones. soundtrack to BLADE RUNNER 2049 by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch, just like the astonishing Vangelis soundtrack for the original, will put you right back in the movie, even when you are actually just queuing up for a flu jab at Boots.

Jóhann Jóhannsson was the original choice for the BLADE RUNNER 2049 soundtrack before Denis Villeneuve decided quite late on to go with Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch. (If we we got is a last minute rush job it is all the more impressive). Jóhann Jóhannsson is a brilliant modern composer  which means eventually we will get a probably excellent variant soundtrack for this movie before long.

The soundtrack for the BLADE RUNNER 2049 - "Black Out 2022" short, by Flying Lotus is also good and should be expanded to album length. (While we wait for the live action movie of these events).

Bowie was the original choice to to be Wallace because Denis Villeneuve and Ridley Scott considered him to be hugely influential on Blade Runner and cyberpunk aesthetic.
As I've mentioned elsewhere cyberpunk was coined as a term AFTER Blade Runner to describe the look and concept. So what Bowie music inspired Blade Runner?
Diamond Dogs? - no, too 1970s, too glam
Outside? - no, a response, a reflection back from the 1990s

You'd need something from the big technological/style bang of the 1980s as it sloughed off the 1970s, something like this.

This is the sound of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner, and eventually literary cyberpunk being born screaming into life


**UPDATE** Now I come to think of it Bowie's 'Heroes' and 'Low' are much more influential on both actual movie soundtracks.


One final note.
When Denis Villeneuve needed a location to show a defunct dying Las Vegas he chose a Stock Exchange (in Budapest). I wonder how ironic and prophetic that will seem when we finally get to see BLADE RUNNER 2075?


Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Some comfort for USA football fans - watch World Cup as Netflix

USA have not qualified for the next world cup after losing to Trinidad and Tobago. Urgh. One of the reasons association football is so exciting is comparative lack of scoring, meaning any one mistake can be hugely consequential and if you leave it to fate in this sport, fate will bite you on the a*se.




I know, I'm an Englishman, and because of that I can offer some comfort from similar disappointment in the past.

It's a sad fact but I nearly always enjoy football tournaments more when my own team does not qualify. I won't go into the details as it's depressing but watching World Cup as a neutral is far better.

Forget it's a sport you should be a part of, and if you really want to enjoy it, treat Russia 2018 as something more like a Netflix subscription.

Brazil, Belgium, Spain and France all play football like a movie directed by Luc Besson.
They will be out of this world to watch and it will probably be an experience like STAR TREK : DISCOVERY.

Germany are not far behind on the good to watch stakes but also have an admirable hypnotic sheen that would be like binge watching THE CROWN.

Italy, Uruguay and Argentina will be dramatic and gripping like BREAKING BAD

All the African teams will be as crazy entertaining as UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT

Any English speaking teams will be hard to watch but with air of unmissable eventual tragedy, like BETTER CALL SAUL. England will typically take this to a whole new level and add awkward tragi-comedy that wouldn't be out of place in THE OFFICE.

Like STRANGER THINGS? Need an unlikley story of no-hopers winning out in a far off fantasy world - Iceland! Qualified! Iceland!

 and finally.. to get to the he hosts of the World Cup 2018.. Have you seen ICARUS? The Russians have very little concept of fair play on current form and I would expect some of the antics with referees, officials, social media and mysterious information release to look quite a look like HOUSE OF CARDS (though MR ROBOT prob more appropriate).

If you really cannot watch as a neutral

  • N Ireland
  • Rep. Of Ireland
  • Australia
  • New Zealand

are all in the playoffs and might still qualify

But for sheer entertainment I would follow Belgium