"One" is a thirty something caucasian male of English birth, Asian residency, mixed politics, a strong social conscience & an arguably overly opinionated mind. A champagne socialist, armchair environmentalist and an ardent future activist to a wonderful cause as yet unknown. Married to a gorgeous Floridian belle, Father of an amazing 12 year old daughter and a beautiful half English, half Welsh, half Scottish, quarter part Irish American made in Singapore boy.

As a product of some interesting genetics, untold maternal sacrifice and much good fortune the ramblings that follow may prove either of interest or objection to the casual reader. Sometimes I write often, sometimes not often at all but when and if I do in future I truly look forward to sharing my perspective through this new window with the world.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

From Murfreesboro To Mecca

I figure an update to my ramblings are probably quite overdue as the past month or so of my life’s been spent sharing an amazingly wonderful time with my family as opposed to getting aggravated by idiots and posting my thoughts.

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

Lost & Answered

So I like to think of myself as a clear thinking, fairly logical and vaguely observant kinda guy but I have to say that after religiously (ok, that’s probably an inappropriate adverb to use here) watching and loving all 6 seasons of LOST I didn’t feel nearly as confident as I should when as the final credits rolled my beautiful fiancĂ©e announced “ok… I don’t get it” and looked at me expecting a clear and concise summary of exactly what had just happened and how that in turn put the full show to bed.

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…

The author was seemingly a writer on the show so I’m not going to hate myself too much and instead I’ll simply copy and paste his wise words and leave him with my heartfelt thanks.

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:

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

Are You ****ing Kidding Me ???

"FIFA has reacted to the controversy in the game between Argentina and Mexico - by censoring match action shown on giant screens inside stadiums.

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…
I’m willing to bet that whatever Mr Sepp “I live in the 1930’s” Blatter says about “human error being just part of the game” by the world cup in 2014 an electronic referee will be in place for every first class game... If in doubt then make the game more exciting and let the play run, if they score then double check the tape, if offside or a foul is seen then give the free kick, if your asked to make a huge goal line decision then for gods sake don't be a hero, ask your buddy in the stands to get it right...

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sorry... Can't help myself...

The Socceroos visited an orphanage in Durbin after their game against Ghana. “It’s heartbreaking to see their sad little faces with no hope” said Thabo, aged 5…

Professional Cheats

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 !!!

Monday, May 24, 2010

“Drill Baby Drill"

Oh Mrs Palin… How wrong you were, how ignorant you are and how quiet you and your imbecile supporters suddenly seem to be… Politicising environmental issues just doesn’t seem to be your strong point now does it… May I suggest that “Die Marine Life Die” or possibly “Starve Fishermen Starve” might be excellent mantra options for your next campaign ???

Can 14 days be better than these ?

To Follow...

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

An ESP message to all my fellow countrymen on the eve of the General election...

Please please please please don’t vote for Gordon Brown tomorrow !

Its not that I find his politics particularly offensive its simply that as an individual he truly is !

Saturday, May 1, 2010

"Michele Bachmann".. Tina Fey made this up right ?

So straight off the bat I have to admit that I honestly thought Michele Bachmann was a satirical creation of the very funny Tina Fey and not a democratically elected representative of the state of Minnesota. For this realisation I’m a little embarrassed but in my defense I do need to stress that a: I'm a Brit whose never been to Minneapolis and b: I’ve never had the courage to watch more than 20 seconds of Fox News without copious amounts of alcohol… With this in mind WOW, first impressions stick and this is a VERY scary lady! I always wondered how anyone with half a brain could take Sarah Palin seriously but in comparison to this lady good old Sarah looks almost as diplomatic as Henry Kissinger. I've just listened to a barrage of nonsense on how bailouts are “UnAmerican” and how “this socialist terrorist supporting gangster President” is single handedly destroying the American dream... Ok, pause for thought… How embarrassed must whomever this lady beat in her election feel right about now, he or she must have either been a close personal friend of Genghis Khan or otherwise been in a Coma the year the election took place !

In fairness I think I need to do a chunk of background reading and find time to watch the other 27,876 YouTube clips on offer before I consider myself in anyway educated as to this individuals politics or sanity however on the “We hate Bailouts” rhetoric let me just mention this… No one anywhere in the democratic world would of rational mind be in favour of putting tax payers money at risk to prop up failing private enterprise however for the US version of this global story 100% of why the economic world nearly stopped spinning was due to her own partys utter ineptness for 8 years at implementing any form of fiscal austerity. TARP (the program that started dishing out the money) was a necessary Republican creation that was cemented by Henry Paulson who as Michele should recall wasn’t a gangsta socialist democrat but rather her beloved George Bush’s Secretary of the Treasury and former head honcho of Goldman Sachs etc etc… How any of this is conceivably Obama’s fault I’m failing to understand as all he seems to have done is made sure that the bailouts that had already taken place and those that were sadly pending were actually carried out with some semblance of professional responsibility. As I say, in an ideal world these measures would never have been necessary but as sadly they were what exactly would she have preferred as an alternative ? Citigroup, AIG, Bank Of America, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley at an absolute minimum all gone to chapter 11, GM, Chrysler, virtually every auto related parts supplier & the entire US Home building business gone to Chapter 7, 4 – 5 million more Americans unemployed, un insured and looking for (heaven forbid) social welfare to help feed their children on a daily basis. Tax revenues at a 50year low, property values in line with Albania, the $ crushed by another 30% on the global exchanges and the last sliver of global respect gone the same way as that slashed over the last 8 years? To her credit one benefit I guess she might see as offsetting all this would likely be that immigration of nasty non Caucasians wouldn’t be such a problem as all the spare gardening jobs would be being snapped up by Harvard Law graduates leaving no good reason for any other unskilled labour to venture north.

With half way sensible management the US has come back from the brink of utter disaster over the past 12 months in a recovery Rocky Balboa would have been proud of. With stocks up 75% from their March 09 lows, 80% of S&P 500 companies beating analysts estimates in Q1 2010 and the $ having halted its global slide the US is looking again at a sunny potential in its mid to long term future. The VAST majority of tax payers money has either been already paid back with significant interest or those companies still carrying the IOU’s are looking look much healthier today and stand a much better chance of clearing their burden than anyone really believed possible at inception. Even AIG, that great pariah in the sky, will one day repay its debts in full and I’m sure the UAW must on reflection be happy that with Toyota’s demise GM & Ford are still making good old American cars in Detroit. Bailouts whilst never desired have saved the American economy from Armageddon over the past 2 years so seriously Ms Bachmann please consider the alternatives and the history before engaging your vocal cords once again.

US Healthcare... Seriously, whats wrong with helping people ?

Ok so I'm a little confused. If universal public healthcare is "socialist" and therefore totally Un American then so surely is universal public education and universal public defense no? As I understand it the US government through the collection of taxes at federal and state levels provides access to education for all US children irrespective of race, religion, wealth or the political persuasion of their parents.. If parents don't like the public school system and are fortunate enough to be able to afford a private option for their kids then no one vilifies them for making that choice. If a wealthy individual or a corporation on behalf of their staff doesn't think the local police and fire departments can adequately protect their family then they have every right to hire private security to shadow their every move. So this being the case why should the model be so different in the third core social requirement of healthcare ?

If America's ok with public schools and public emergency services then why then does the simple idea that the state should ensure a basic level of healthcare be available to all irrespective of means strike such an ugly nerve through the population? Sadly because “socialising” an already “for profit” system is a much harder mutation than adding a “private” option to an already established “socialist” frame.

If you want to stick with the current system yet curb medical expenses for all then stop being so litigious, curb ridiculous malpractice judgments that inflate the insurance fees that obviously filter down to all, cap the profit margin at healthcare and insurance providers or heaven forbid possibly make the whole system a non for profit enterprise run for the benefit of the people just as seems to work quite well with the non socialist schools system and the non socialist fire department.

Goldman Sachs.. A word for the pariah !

So when did America stop loving its winners? Growing up in a cold dreary corner of England America always seemed like a shining beacon, an amazing place, an iconic idea that radiated through every corner of the world. Anything was possible in America, it was the land of dreams, the land that stood up for those who couldn't stand up for themselves, the land of ultimate opportunity. The cultural difference to my little world was clear and portrayed through our TV screens each Saturday night, America was glitz, it was Dallas & Dynasty with a hint of Baywatch thrown in for fun, it was TV where the audience said "If I excel then that's how great my life can be" whilst in England the mentality was somewhat different. Coronation Street & Eastenders vied nightly to be more depressing than the other, the desired audience mentality? "Hey my life might be shit and depressing but Pauline Fowler's in a much worse way than me, that makes me feel better, i like this program !"... Fast forward 20 years and seriously what's gone wrong with the American dream ? Sure England's mentality’s still just as messed up as it was but over the past eight years America in so many sad ways has followed down the same wrong and worrying path. Watching the news everyone winges, everyone blames everyone else, nobody seems to think as once they so surely did. I'm sure in entries to follow I'll verbally scratch my head and wonder why the worlds premier society is doing all it can to fight its inspiring leader and to stand so clearly in the way of its own unrivaled potential, today however I'll raise comment on just one tiny spec where I feel comment is due.... Goldman Sachs.

I cant believe that my first entry through this new medium is a note that's going to be sympathetic to a bunch of self involved Goldmanites but hey, life's life and today I just happen to feel that given the evidence that’s been revealed to date the baying crowd is calling, as often it does, for the wrong blood. If we're called to Jury duty and presented with a defendant who's most certainly unpleasant but for the charge on which he stands trial he seems to have an iron clad alibi are we supposed to convict anyway to appease public outcry or do we have a duty to reach a judgment on the specific crime from the specific evidence that’s presented before us? I think we all know the answer to this.

So the SEC investigate the big GS for what a year and this is all they could find ? That a 31 year old French kid with an over inflated ego and the stupidity to brand himself with the title "Fabulous Fab" may or may not have misled two of the worlds most sophisticated investors in a single deal that Goldman themselves lost money on ? That’s it ? Are you serious !... So Goldman are back to making a lot of money, why ? because they're serial fraudsters ? no, because they hire the smartest kids from the best schools and pay the highest compensation on the street to keep them, its not rocket science its simply common sense. If you take complicated global financial markets, unprecedented global volatility and you have the sharpest minds working with the best technology then guess what, your more likely than not to make a very large amount of money. Was the collapse in the US housing market to blame for the global meltdown in 2008 ? I'd say largely yes... Are Goldman Sachs solely to blame for that as the hysteria would have us believe? Absolutely not.

Goldman Sachs employs some 35,000 staff in offices all around the world, in 2009 they paid these 35,000 staff $16.14 billion dollars or nearly half a million bucks per employee whilst the world around them fell into unemployment and recession, this makes bystanders angry but in its self it doesn't make Goldman Sachs guilty. Goldman were but one of many Wall Street banks crying out for raw mortgage product from the turn of the millennium till the big bubble burst in 08, this demand certainly tooled armies of irresponsible mortgage brokers and local lenders to loan too much money to those they should never have approved in the first place knowing that Wall Street would buy the risk off them quicker than they could blink so who cared. This demand in its self was fueled by global investors craving blind returns on granular product that the ratings agencies told them was “Riskless”… So who was to blame really… Greedy and ignorant investors the world over buying securitised rubbish at insanely tight spreads? Ratings agencies that did a terrible job an representing risk to all? Banks & Investment banks that securitised raw product and thus encouraged more and more outrageous lending further down the pipe? The local banks and mortgage originators who simply knew they were making less than stable loans? Or unpopular as it may be how about ultimately those individuals that have since defaulted on loans that in all honesty they should never have taken out in the first place as they knew they were too big to support? "I've lost my home cuz the bank foreclosed" well maybe the bank should never have lent you the money to buy your home in the first place. Is Goldman Sachs more guilty than all the others combined simply because they spotted the dangers and hedged their books better and quicker than the rest of the greedy heard ? Surely not, if housing prices had continued to go up, this hedged or “short” position would’ve lost significant money and Goldman Sachs would’ve been singled out as the only Wall Street bank that lost money during the housing boom.

But just as the Jury in the murder case lets get back to the specific sound bytes we hear today on CNN. It amazes me how time after time smart US businessmen manage to sit in front of ignorant US lawmakers and answer their retarded questions without shaking their head and saying “Seriously, do you have any idea what your talking about ?”… How do some of these people get elected? Some of these questioners don’t know the difference between the chairman of the Federal Reserve & the secretary of Treasury (Marcy Kaptur, Jan 08) and others after investigating a specific problem for over a year obviously still have absolutely no idea how a synthetic CDO works !... A Synthetic CDO isn’t a stock or a barrel of oil that’s bought, owned, sold or brokered, it’s a synthetic agreement where one party takes one side of the bet and the other takes the other for the life of the trade… Simple as that… When Goldman or anyone else issued a synthetic CDO to a buyer who wanted to take risk in a specific area then they (Goldman) are immediately left with only 3 options… 1, Sit on the short themselves for the life of the trade and loose money if the trade performs, 2, sell or broker the short risk to someone else who has an inverse view to their original client or 3, short something else to keep their net exposure as flat as possible… Whichever they decide the buyer knows one of the three is happening so seriously ACA get over it… The next point that’s baffling me is this… Lawmakers sit there and piously say “How dare you sell something you don’t believe in to a client”… Well what the hell else are they supposed to do with it ? Blindly sit on the risk indefinitely, erode their shareholders capital and ultimately fire their 35,000 employees like Bear Stearns, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, Washington Mutual, Citigroup, Bank of America, Wachovia or any number of others.. Is that what lawmakers and taxpayers would have preferred?.. No, GS had a fiduciary duty to manage their risk and if that means selling assets at prices that obviously reflect the fact they’re not healthy to institutional clients who are some of the most enlightened investors in the world then that’s just disciplined business. Trust me I don’t think I’ve ever met a Goldman employee who I really liked but hey, credit where credits due these guys didn’t really need the government investment that they were pushed into taking so Citi didn’t look as individually awful as they were in October 08 , they paid every cent back at the earliest opportunity with a large chunk of 23% interest and now they’re back doing what they’ve always been very good at, making money, paying taxes and stimulating the economy of their local Mercedes dealerships (that they probably own as a side bet :) !)

I’m not a lawyer, but the case against Goldman as presented to date seems weak. Who cares if Goldman thought the housing market would turn? This isn’t grounds for denying a sale or not facilitating a trade. If Goldman policy forbode them from executing securities transactions for clients because they felt one side was more likely to make money than the other, then Goldman would never execute a transactions for anyone and they’d be as out of business as their friends and Shearson Lehman.

From the information in the public domain today Goldman Sachs made all of the right moves. From an ethical perspective, I’m not convinced they did any wrong. From a public relations perspective well perhaps in today’s George Bush poisoned America it would’ve been easier and smarter to have been like the other banks and just lost their Savile Row shirts during the housing downturn.