Friday, April 27, 2012
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Friday, June 3, 2011
After an opening like that I’m sure 99% of readers (at current run rates that’s about 2 people excluding myself ) are probably preparing themselves for a full blown assault on Joseph S Blatter and the circus of events surrounding his reelection yesterday to the top spot at FIFA. Our dear friend Sepp somehow managed to weed out his rivals yet again to run unopposed for president which simply doesn’t sound very democratic to me, Ok sure this is a policy that seems to work fairly well in the Island city state where I happily reside but at FIFA where the walls are falling and the corruption rife surely someone should have had the balls and the decency to stand up for change and not allow Sepp to continue his seemingly lifelong goal of destroying the beautiful game for future generations to come…. Sorry, I digress, no I’m not going to rant about FIFA (hmmmmmm…) but I do feel a few words are required on the subject of EU sovereign bailouts and the travesty of succession that’s seemingly on the cards at the IMF.
So lets get the fun stuff out the way first, Dominique Dominique Dominique, WHY ???? I just don’t get it… You run the IMF, your favourite to win the next French presidential campaign, married to a smart wealthy heiress and you throw it all away by ploughing through your minibar and abusing a chamber maid in NY !!!! Seriously… I know you’re French and as such genetically predisposed to such things but why o why would you do it now ?? Insanity…You’ve just managed to make Elliot Spitzer look like a schoolboy in his own back yard !... Ok, back to the future and the race to fill our friend DSK’s britches at the veritable institution of the IMF (not to be confused with FIFA…).
Since 1945 when 29 countries came together and signed an agreement to stabalise exchange rates and help fund the reconstruction of the world following WW2 the IMF has grown and today proudly describes itself as “an organization of 187 countries (as of July 2010), working to foster global monetary cooperation, secure financial stability, facilitate international trade, promote high employment and sustainable economic growth, and reduce poverty.”… In layman’s terms the IMF pools money from its members and then acts as bank manager, patriarch and professor in times of economic crisis making loans to troubled nations and conditioning them in most cases on the implementation of fiscal reform as best representing the institution itsself. In the 65 years of operation this “Global” fund has had only 10 Managing Directors who are ultimately defining that institutional policy, lets not be surprised to learn that all 10 happen to have been white males from northern Europe and now the hunt is seemingly on for number 11.
Now I've nothing against Christine Lagarde, she strikes me as being an incredibly smart and articulate Politian who carries herself with an elegance as only a French lady can. Further I think its great that the “old boys club” may soon be run by a woman who lets be blunt is highly unlikely to abuse a chamber maid any time soon but still, she’s French. I’m trying not to seem anti French here but I have to believe that electing yet another European to the top spot at an organisation that’s currently focused on bailing out Europe seems just a little…. well “insider” no ??? I’ve never been a fan of European politics at the best of times but the latest EU campaign on behalf of Ms Lagarde is making me feel decidedly unwell. The arrogance of the argument - that only a European can truly understand and deal with the complexities of the European debt crisis - is breath-taking. But there again one should not be really surprised. Humility has never been a big feature in Brussels and Strausbourg. Furthermore I have to ask what evidence is there that the Europeans have managed to make a good fist of the debt crisis so far? Not a lot is the answer from where I sit. When the emerging markets of Latin America were crumbling or the Asian Tiger was waning having a pious white European passing judgment and pretending to be impartial seemed almost acceptable, but today, in a world dominated by US sub prime fallout and the mess the EU has created through the grandiose political ambitions of the euro elite and their blind quest to attain critical mass doesn’t it seem that today is the right time to find a successor who might be objective ? possibly have black hair, be shorter than 5 foot eight and probably wear glasses ?
In the good old days when it was emerging economies getting into difficulties the IMF therapy was harsh. Devaluation, haircuts, mass privatisation and deregulation. That was seen as what was required to put economies in shape and overall it worked. However, now that the boot is on the other shoe the approach is completely different. Instead it's let's keep everything on a drip in the hope that things can eke themselves out as long as possible no matter how implausible the reality is so that Europe doesn't have to mark things to market and take the hit, It's a case of "do as I say, not as I do".
This argument takes me away from the IMF and more to the general hypocrisy prevalent within the EU as a whole. My desk at work engaged last week in a fantastically opinionated discussion on Greece and the EU's most likely path from here. The most obvious takeaway was simply that no-one seemed to doubt that the EU & IMF will ultimately throw more good money after bad to delay any "nasty stuff" for another year or so in the hope that something will happen to magically fix things between now and then. What was way more interesting in my humble opinion was the more central discussion of not what WILL they do but more what SHOULD they do. A colleague argued very eloquently that austerity was working, results were admittedly slower than previously hoped for but there were certainly signs of progress. Given this he suggested that maintaining the life support machine was justified as if another year brings better results still then the market may be more receptive to a minor restructuring when they can see light at the end of the tunnel.
My stance was the kind of the bull in a china shop approach that I guess excludes me from running against Christine. Greece has a debt burden that they simply can’t support and zero belief from the private sector, at some point there needs to be painful action to "right size" their debts and every day that passes that pain simply becomes more. If the EU amends its current package in maturity or coupon then in my books two big problems occur, first, for sure Greece will be held to even harsher measures curbing further their fiscal flexibility, this undoubtedly leads to more civil unrest and guess what there's a long history in Europe of very "bad for the world" new governments coming to power when the people of a country feel cheated... Now Greece might not have the military potential of Germany in the 30's or Russia 15 years before that however if we’re not all careful I can fully see a situation where derivatives referencing Greek government debt are ultimately triggered by a government repudiation rather than an EU led restructuring... Secondly by caving don’t we set HORRIBLE precedents that lets be honest the Irish and Portuguese will jump all over..."hey, you lowered their interest rate... what about us ??".
Bottom line I guess I'm still naively caught up on the simple hypocrisy that when a banking system gets into trouble (lets say Ireland) then the Politian’s all scream from the rafters "haircuts and forced restructuring for all bond holders regardless of seniority before public money will be used to add capital" (the bank equivalent of right sizing debt), yet when those same Governments are on their knees begging for emergency loans they don’t seem so vocal on the haircut and restructuring front before they happily accept taxpayers money from their brother and sister nations.
Ultimately I guess the same rules don't seem to count when the people making the decisions also happen to be the largest creditors to the institutions in crisis.
That thought takes me nicely back to our friends at the IMF and their impartiality in these days of woe, my final thought therefore is a simple one, If you want a football match to be seen to be fair you don't take a referee from one of the teams.
Thursday, May 26, 2011
My absence I’m happy to report has nothing to do with ill health, nothing to do with a lack of mystifying world events on which to opine and thankfully everything to do with an incredible now one year old boy and my recent marriage to his stunningly beautiful mother. Our recent nuptials, moving into our new home and a busy start to the working year all seem of late to have sucked my free time however now I’m back from the beach, back from enjoying my amazingly wonderful daughter and back from spending such precious moments with the rest of my normally fractured family I hope to put pen back to paper and post, if only for myself, on a slightly more frequent basis moving forward.
Its good to be back, its great to be me, many thanks and blessings to all x
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
After 2 fantastic days at Disney with my thankfully super healthy, super fit 10 year old daughter I promised to pen an observational record on obesity and in particular my belief that many parents in the world should be charged with attempted murder or at the very least Child endangerment for the irreparable damage their lifestyles are doing to their kids. This I fully intend to put together and post another time but for today I can feel myself being pulled in a different direction, that simple vain of Religious Fanaticism and the unbelievably hypocritical fear mongering that I sadly see today at every turn.
I’m not really a religious man, I attended a boarding school with twice daily multi denominational services & I’ve listened since to fascinating people from many religious persuasions but I’ve also seen the true horror of hate, fear and abuse that’s packaged by extremists within virtually all major churches of both East and West. Whilst I’m not a strict follower of His Holiness the Dalai Lama the Buddhists strike me as the only probable exceptions to this as they don’t seek to strike fear in the name of a “God” or potential “Hell” but rather they seek nirvana for all in the form of perfect peace and true enlightenment. I’ve felt for a while that whilst worshiping a mystical force might be beyond my personal comprehension that taking the consistent themes of love, peace, charity and truth from the ancient worlds very similar Abrahamic scriptures can only be a very good foundation on which to base a personal ideology and way of life.
With this religious freedom in mind I feel I can be broadly impartial when I take a look at the raging debate over Mosque construction and the insanity that I hear on the matter across the widespread media. I’m certainly not a lover of evil Islamic Clerics preaching Jihad on the Jew’s and I naturally abhor those that seek death in the name of “The Prophet” but I also get a shiver down my spine when listening to their equally as imbalanced piers in the Baptist Bible belt and without fail feel nauseous each time I read of the latest Catholic priest to terrorise an entire generation of prepubescent alter boys and drive many into a life of drugs and ultimate despair.
The fear mongering that I hear today from the Pat Robertson’s & Laurie Cardoza-Moore’s of this world sounds an awful lot to me like the kind of rhetoric Joe McCarthy was spilling in the 1950’s… “Beware the Communist !”… “Is your neighbor a secret Muslim ?”... “Lock up your Children, There’s a rogue Cleric on the loose !!!”... “The Reds are coming the Reds are coming !”… “... Its all pretty interchangeable stuff yet we look back to the 50’s, or the 60’s and civil liberties and we shake our heads at the stupidity of society whilst at the same time we allow the 2010 version of fear mongering to resonate in peace.
If a black kid wants to play in the sand pit with a white kid then that’s just great, if two same sex consenting adults want to take vows and commit their lives to each other then that’s just fine, if someone in my neighborhood wants to fast for a month and prey to Mecca then who the hell am I to stand in his or her way.
I understand the sensitivity with regard to the Ground Zero Mosque debate and you know what I probably agree that it would be better for all if out of sensitivity that particular plan voluntarily relocated itself 5 blocks or so north but this latest fracas in Murfreesboro Tennessee is just sickening to me in its obvious and blind hypocrisy. I see some of the most fanatical religious bigots on the planet strutting their stuff on TV with the goal of stopping a Mosque with 30+ years of unquestioned background from expanding its premises as the 1,000 strong congregation are finding the current 2,200 square foot of prayer floor a little cramped, their reason ??? Fear that this larger facility will attract religious extremists to the area… Your kidding me right… LOOK IN THE MIRROR !!!!... So its ok to build a 50,000 square foot mega church with an annual profit margin of a gazillions dollars (a large chunk of which I’m sure get siphoned off to pay for private jets and Lithuania’s finest hookers) but a 6,000 sq foot Islamic center will supposedly bring pariahs of terror to the local streets after Friday prayers… Right…. Ok, I’m not being fair here, I’m sorry.. The argument put forward by the delightful Ms Cardoza-Moore is that apparently some trustee of the existing Mosque once posted an anti Semitic headline on his MySpace page…. That’s it ? That’s the sole reason you want to stop 1,000 perfectly reasonable Muslims from rebuilding their place of worship ? A post on an individuals MySpace page ? Your serious ?... If someone’s doing something illegal (such as a radical anti Semitic inciting violence or maybe a Catholic priest molesting a choir boy) then call the FBI !.. Oh you did that already and neither they nor anyone else found anything amiss … Alrighty then... My suggestion ? Grow up and start loving thy neighbour (Mathew 19:19) as otherwise your hate will feed their extremists and the ensuing circle will forever remain vicious.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
With this annoyance in mind I immediately followed the natural path of the universe and turned to Google, Yahoo & Wikianswers looking for guidance as to what I’d obviously missed… What I found was the clear fact that I was not alone with my questions and if anything I was less confused than most in my understanding of the minds of Lieber, Lindelof & Abrams.
17 random theories later I thankfully stumbled upon the below and to whomever the un named author is I owe a significant debt of gratitude as he seamlessly and poetically brings it all together in a way that I truly wish I could have come to myself…
Enjoy going “Ahhhhh…”
First … The Island:
It was real. Everything that happened on the island that we saw throughout the 6 seasons was real. Forget the final image of the plane crash, it was put in purposely to f*&k with people’s heads and show how far the show had come. They really crashed. They really survived. They really discovered Dharma and the Others. The Island keeps the balance of good and evil in the world. It always has and always will perform that role. And the Island will always need a “Protector”. Jacob wasn’t the first, Hurley won’t be the last. However, Jacob had to deal with a malevolent force (MIB) that his mother, nor Hurley had to deal with. He created the devil and had to find a way to kill him — even though the rules prevented him from actually doing so.
Thus began Jacob’s plan to bring candidates to the Island to do the one thing he couldn’t do. Kill the MIB. He had a huge list of candidates that spanned generations. Yet everytime he brought people there, the MIB corrupted them and caused them to kill one another. That was until Richard came along and helped Jacob understand that if he didn’t take a more active role, then his plan would never work.
Enter Dharma — which I’m not sure why John is having such a hard time grasping. Dharma, like the countless scores of people that were brought to the island before, were brought there by Jacob as part of his plan to kill the MIB. However, the MIB was aware of this plan and interferred by “corrupting” Ben. Making Ben believe he was doing the work of Jacob when in reality he was doing the work of the MIB. This carried over into all of Ben’s “off-island” activities. He was the leader. He spoke for Jacob as far as they were concerned. So the “Others” killed Dharma and later were actively trying to kill Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Hurley and all the candidates because that’s what the MIB wanted. And what he couldn’t do for himself.
Dharma was originally brought in to be good. But was turned bad by MIB’s corruption and eventually destroyed by his pawn Ben. Now, was Dharma only brought there to help Jack and the other Canditates on their overall quest to kill Smokey? Or did Jacob have another list of Canidates from the Dharma group that we were never aware of? That’s a question that is purposley not answered because whatever answer the writers came up with would be worse than the one you come up with for yourself. Still … Dharma’s purpose is not “pointless” or even vague. Hell, it’s pretty blantent.
Still, despite his grand plan, Jacob wanted to give his “candidates” (our Lostaways) the one thing he, nor his brother, were ever afforded: free will. Hence him bringing a host of “candidates” through the decades and letting them “choose” which one would actually do the job in the end. Maybe he knew Jack would be the one to kill Flocke and that Hurley would be the protector in the end. Maybe he didn’t. But that was always the key question of the show: Fate vs Free-will. Science vs Faith. Personally I think Jacob knew from the beginning what was going to happen and that everyone played a part over 6 seasons in helping Jack get to the point where he needed to be to kill Smokey and make Hurley the protector — I know that’s how a lot of the writers viewed it. But again, they won’t answer that (nor should they) because that ruins the fun.
In the end, Jack got to do what he always wanted to do from the very first episode of the show: Save his fellow Lostaways. He got Kate and Sawyer off the island and he gave Hurley the purpose in life he’d always been missing. And, in Sideways world (which we’ll get to next) he in fact saved everyone by helping them all move on …
Sideways world is where it gets really cool in terms of theology and metaphysical discussion (for me at least — because I love history/religion theories and loved all the talks in the writer’s room about it). Basically what the show is proposing is that we’re all linked to certain people during our lives. Call them soulmates (though it’s not exactly the best word). But these people we’re linked to are with us duing “the most important moments of our lives” as Christian said. These are the people we move through the universe with from lifetime to lifetime. It’s loosely based in Hinduisim with large doses of western religion thrown into the mix.
The conceit that the writers created, basing it off these religious philosophies, was that as a group, the Lostaways subconsciously created this “sideways” world where they exist in purgatory until they are “awakened” and find one another. Once they all find one another, they can then move on and move forward. In essence, this is the show’s concept of the afterlife. According to the show, everyone creates their own “Sideways” purgatory with their “soulmates” throughout their lives and exist there until they all move on together. That’s a beautiful notion. Even if you aren’t religious or even spirtual, the idea that we live AND die together is deeply profound and moving.
It’s a really cool and spirtual concept that fits the whole tone and subtext the show has had from the beginning. These people were SUPPOSED to be together on that plane. They were supposed to live through these events — not JUST because of Jacob. But because that’s what the universe or God (depending on how religious you wish to get) wanted to happen. The show was always about science vs faith — and it ultimately came down on the side of faith. It answered THE core question of the series. The one question that has been at the root of every island mystery, every character backstory, every plot twist. That, by itself, is quite an accomplishment.
How much you want to extrapolate from that is up to you as the viewer. Think about season 1 when we first found the Hatch. Everyone thought that’s THE answer! Whatever is down there is the answer! Then, as we discovered it was just one station of many. One link in a very long chain that kept revealing more, and more of a larger mosiac.
But the writer’s took it even further this season by contrasting this Sideways “purgatory” with the Island itself. Remember when Michael appeared to Hurley, he said he was not allowed to leave the Island. Just like the MIB. He wasn’t allowed into this sideways world and thus, was not afforded the opportunity to move on. Why? Because he had proven himself to be unworthy with his actions on the Island. He failed the test. The others, passed. They made it into Sideways world when they died — some before Jack, some years later. In Hurley’s case, maybe centuries later. They exist in this sideways world until they are “awakened” and they can only move on TOGETHER because they are linked. They are destined to be together for eternity. That was their destiny.
They were NOT linked to Anna Lucia, Daniel, Roussou, Alex, Miles, Lupidis, (and all the rest who weren’t in the chuch — basically everyone who wasn’t in season 1). Yet those people exist in Sideways world. Why? Well again, here’s where they leave it up to you to decide. The way I like to think about it, is that those people who were left behind in Sideways world have to find their own soulmates before they can wake up. It’s possible that those links aren’t people from the island but from their other life (Anna’s parnter, the guy she shot — Roussou’s husband, etc etc).
A lot of people have been talking about Ben and why he didn’t go into the Church. And if you think of Sideways world in this way, then it gives you the answer to that very question. Ben can’t move on yet because he hasn’t connected with the people he needs to. It’s going to be his job to awaken Roussou, Alex, Anna Lucia (maybe), Ethan, Goodspeed, his father and the rest. He has to attone for his sins more than he did by being Hurley’s number two. He has to do what Hurley and Desmond did for our Lostaways with his own people. He has to help them connect. And he can only move on when all the links in his chain are ready to. Same can be said for Faraday, Charlotte, Whidmore, Hawkins etc. It’s really a neat, and cool concept. At least to me.
But, from a more “behind the scenes” note: the reason Ben’s not in the church, and the reason no one is in the church but for Season 1 people is because they wrote the ending to the show after writing the pilot. And never changed it. The writers always said (and many didn’t believe them) that they knew their ending from the very first episode. I applaud them for that. It’s pretty fantastic. Originally Ben was supposed to have a 3 episode arc and be done. But he became a big part of the show. They could have easily changed their ending and put him in the church — but instead they problem solved it. Gave him a BRILLIANT moment with Locke outside the church … and then that was it. I loved that. For those that wonder — the original ending started the moment Jack walked into the church and touches the casket to Jack closing his eyes as the other plane flies away. That was always JJ’s ending. And they kept it.
For me the ending of this show means a lot. Not only because I worked on it, but because as a writer it inspired me in a way the medium had never done before. I’ve been inspired to write by great films. Maybe too many to count. And there have been amazing TV shows that I’ve loved (X-Files, 24, Sopranos, countless 1/2 hour shows). But none did what LOST did for me. None showed me that you could take huge risks (writing a show about faith for network TV) and stick to your creative guns and STILL please the audience. I learned a lot from the show as a writer. I learned even more from being around the incredible writers, producers, PAs, interns and everyone else who slaved on the show for 6 years.
In the end, for me, LOST was a touchstone show that dealt with faith, the afterlife, and all these big, spirtual questions that most shows don’t touch. And to me, they never once waivered from their core story — even with all the sci-fi elements they mixed in. To walk that long and daunting of a creative tightrope and survive is simply astounding.
Monday, June 28, 2010
On Sunday, replays of Argentina's disputed first goal against Mexico triggered arguments on the pitch as Mexico's players protested when Carlos Tevez was shown as being clearly offside.
FIFA spokesman Nicolas Maingot said replaying the incident on the stadium screen was "a clear mistake." He continued: "This will be corrected. We will work on this and be a bit more, I would say, tight on this for the games still to be played"
ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME !!!... Ok… For some background here please first read my note below entitled “Professional Cheats” in which I talk about the blatant stupidity where FIFA are concerned in not using freely available technology to ensure that match, tournament & life defining moments are judged correctly… Please note that the Blog in question was written on the 21st of June or 6 days before the most glaring example possible of my point where England’s world cup dreams were ended by the blindness of a Uruguayan linesman and FIFA’s insistance to not bring the game into the 21st century.
Following the final whistle I was tempted to write a very angry “Ps” to my earlier note but felt events spoke SO clearly for themselves that me ranting once again could add little to the argument…. Now I read the above however and I’m fuming… So let me get this right… FIFA want to stop replays being shown inside a stadium that show match changing errors by the referees (such as Tevez’s first goal & Lampard’s clear equalizer) as they think this can cause crowd trouble in the stadia and resentment by the players towards the officials on the pitch… NO SHIT ! AND IT SHOULD !!!... Seriously, why would you even consider protecting those that destroy the dreams of nations ? Don’t censor, just GET IT RIGHT... Give referees the tools that every casual viewer around the world has at their disposal so they can make the correct judgment in the first damn place then play the replays in the stadium over and over without a care in the world !!!...
If the old fashioned, gentlemanly sports of Tennis, Cricket and Rugby all admit that linesmen, referees and umpires just cant see everything 100% of the time and have thus brought in Hawk Eye to get it right beyond all reasonable doubt then with ten times the economics, a quarter the player honesty and probably twenty times the passion why the hell cant football too…
Monday, June 21, 2010
10 days in and for me the World Cup’s already delivering an amazing mix of excitement, despair and as of this morning renewed disgust at the sports antiquated ways. Watching Stevie Gerrard slot home after just 5 minutes of England’s opener while my one month old son sat beside me on the 3am sofa ranks without question among the top 20 moments of my life, Robert Green’s howler 36 minutes later certainly took the shine off a little but hey as an Englishman I’m genetically prepared to deal with disappointment and despair on a football pitch so nothing to dampen the spirits too much there. Spain stumbling, France going on strike & England’s calamities one after another all generate hours of friendly banter and the tournaments still in its infancy !
So Ffwd to this morning and my observation / moan for the day, Game 29, Brazil v Ivory Coast and after 88 minutes a clear and glaring example of all that I see as wrong with the beautiful game. Already on a yellow, Kaka received a second card and was dismissed to the dressing room after Abdelkader Keita seemingly walked into the Real Madrid player and promptly threw himself on the ground clutching his head as if he'd been three rounds with Mike Tyson, this even a cursory glance of a TV replay shows simply to be an act of fiction and without question a lie. Whatever you want to call it THIS IS CHEATING and something much to the boredom and annoyance of all those that sit near me at work I’ve been harking on about for years. If Tiger was caught moving a ball in a bunker when he thought no one was watching or if Glenn McGrath had been found with sandpaper hidden in his pocket then what would the world think and how would we react ? I'm sorry Drogba, Ronaldo & today Keita but your professional sports persons too and the same expectations of fair play should also be expected of you. UEFA, FIFA & even the FA continually rebuff attempts to incorporate technology into the game, their stance of “The referee’s decision is final” is admirable but in 20 10 sadly very much out of date. I agree that we don’t want to follow the American model of stopping the game every 10 seconds for video replays of minutia but for game and tournament deciding moments then I don’t see the problem with taking 30 seconds (about the same amount of time Keita interrupted the game by in rolling around on the floor in mock agony) to double check the tape and finally get it right. The RFU have successfully adopted a video referee in Rugby who can be called upon should those on the pitch be even the slightest unsure about a decision of significance and it seems to work great, as an unexpected by product at times it even seems to raise the excitement of the crowd and audiences as the “Try” or “No Try” decision is pending. Bad decisions and professional cheats destroy more than games, they can effect the outcome of entire seasons, cost millions and millions of dollars to innocent victims and destroy the pride of nations for 4 year periods at a time.
So what to do about questionable judgment calls ? Referees have a ridiculously hard job and they need all the help they can get, a fourth or fifth official with video on demand from 27 angles who’s called upon once or twice a match by a referee who’s humble enough to admit that he can’t perfectly monitor and digest all 8,625 square yards of turf simultaneously can only be an easy and 21st century resolve to the decades old problem of questionable calls.
And what to do about the epidemic of cheating ? This is so simple I can’t for the life of me think up a counter argument that holds water… If a TV replay that’s studied by the FA, UEFA or at the World Cup FIFA shows that a player like Keita deliberately cheated in an attempt to have an opposition player sent off then whether he succeeded or not any forward looking penalty to the victim should without question be rescinded (Kaka will currently have to miss Brazil's next world cup game), the manager of the cheat must be forced to write a public apology to his opponents team and the cheat himself must be banned from his next 10 competitive games. Unveil this rule tomorrow and the plague that’s destroying the beautiful game will cease before the quarter finals.
Come on England !!!