Archive for June, 2008

The man in the SUV

Monday, June 30th, 2008

On a recent visit with my family to a theme park I had to consider various issues which posed challenging questions. Here is one of them – individual responsibility.

We had a hotel booked near to the park and so we stopped until the park closed for the evening. A mistake. Everyone left at the same time and the traffic management of the car parks was non existent – it was every family for themselves.

As I queued to get out I watched a young family approach their huge SUV with ultra shiny alloy wheels and personalised number plate. After everyone had got in the truck I noticed the man nonchalantly throw his empty beer cans out of the vehicle and onto the car park. I was appalled.

This man had everything and it still wasn’t enough; he had to trash the environment for everyone else. He then set off and drove the wrong way up a one way system to bully his way into the queue.

As I reflected on the hopelessness of converting such a selfish individual to any sort of communal responsibility, I couldn’t help thinking of someone like Dick Cheney. He was made out of the same material as the man driving the SUV but instead of dumping litter, he dumps bombs.

Sometime later I had a rethink. The original guy might have had had everything materially but spiritually he must have been dirt poor. Perhaps I should have felt pity for him instead of rage. Perhaps what I actually saw was one of those terrible images on the television of a starving child crying for food, but his hunger was for soul food, the bony skeleton of his ego sticking out of his spiritual nakedness.

The challenging question was this; how do I help this man? He probably doesn’t even know that he is so starved of spirituality that he is near death. Should I try to help him?

How to resolve the deadlock of defensive football

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

Some recent European Cup football matches have demonstrated that a major review of how to resolve drawn matches is required. Here is my suggestion.

Before the match is played a penalty shoot out is staged. This will be called the ‘pre-shoot out’. Each team will take five penalties apiece. If after the ten penalties there is an unequal result, then the actual match can be played. If, after ten penalties, the ‘pre-shoot out’ results in an equal score then additional penalties are taken until a team is at a disadvantage; say, 7-6 overall.

The purpose of the ‘pre-shoot out’ is to act as an insurance policy for attacking football. The ‘pre-shoot out’ only comes into play if the actual match results in a draw. If the match provides goals and a win for either team, then the match result stands and the ‘pre-shoot out’ is ignored.

If the match results in a score draw then the ‘pre-shoot out’ comes into play and the winner of the ‘pre-shoot out’ is the overall winner of the match and no extra time is played. However, if the match results in a goaless draw then an additional ‘post-shoot out’ is staged and five more penalties each are taken. The result of the ‘post-shoot out’ is added to the ‘pre-shoot out’ and the team with the greatest number of penalties is deemed the winner of the match.

If the penalties are equal after the ‘post-shoot out’ then the ‘post-shoot out’ continues in a sudden death finish.

It can be seen from this that the result from the ‘pre-shoot out’ will encourage attacking football. Should a notoriously defensive team win the ‘pre-shoot out’ and attempt to kill the game into a goaless draw then the ‘post-shoot out’ will still give the other team a chance to win the match and so it would not be in the interests of the defensive team to play for a goaless draw.

Other advantages are;

  • a) extra time is not played thus allowing for television schedules to run smoothly
  • b) winning teams can preserve their fitness for the subsequent matches in the tournament
  • c) penalty shoot out’s are riveting drama to those people who have only a passing interest in football.
  • d) the ‘post-shoot out’ will be an entirely different strategy to the ‘pre-shoot out’ as some players will have been substituted or sent off, making it tactically interesting.

The overhead shot

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Whilst watching a movie the other night, the camera cut to an overhead shot. It is such an unusual angle (how many times have you been strapped to the ceiling looking down into the room) that I considered its purpose.

Presumably, the unusual angle is meant to unnerve us in some way; ‘this is unusual, so something strange is going to happen’. Most often, nothing unusual does happen and I am left wondering if the director asked for that angle just to be edgy.

If it is that the angle is meant to unnerve the audience, why don’t they choose some other weird angle, like shooting up through the floor? Why has the overhead shot become established as an acceptable angle which the audience would ‘get’?

Another unresolved (for me at least) device is when the actor speaks directly to the camera and thus, the audience. The suspension of disbelief is destroyed there, so what has the film narrative become, a kind of stand-up comedy routine? I’m not sure.

Film language must develop like any other language but how is a new ‘word’ explained to an audience who have never heard that particular word before? Do the audience create their own interpretation?

My trash bin broke the other day

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

… how do I throw it away?

Confident, cocky, lazy, dead

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Modern technology seems to encourage learned helplessness. The result can only be disaster. I know this from experience.

I have come to rely on my SatNav technology a little too much. It is too easy; punch in the postcode and away you go. Normally you arrive exactly as predicted by the device. But when things go wrong…

I had a gig last night about two and a half hours journey away. The SatNav took me on a route I was familiar with. On the way, I noticed signs on the motorway saying that it would be closed that evening. Not good, as it would inevitably mean some kind of delay as the traffic was directed through the diversion. Still, I might be able to find a way round with the Satnav.

On the return journey I just missed the window to get through on the motorway and was caught in the diverted flow of traffic. To my alarm, the diversion signs seemed to be sending me in the opposite direction of my destination. I did a u-turn when I could and trusted the SatNav to direct me out of the maze. Thus began a nightmare journey of many miles and many hours.

I realised I didn’t know where I was. I had an idea of where I should be and tried to navigate using that rough mental map along with the SatNav. This failed utterly as I found myself returning to the same bit of diverted motorway I had left not twenty minutes earlier. After much cursing I finally abandoned all hope in the SatNav and pulled over to refer to the old road atlas I still carried in the car.

It appeared I had travelled tens of miles in the opposite direction of where I needed to be and I needed to make a massive loop around a large city before I could get back on a course for home. This at a time when I had just paid £1.32p per litre of fuel.

The next day I decided to review the debacle and see what had gone wrong (I wasn’t going to let that expensive and painful experience go to waste).

I discovered the cause of my confusion. The SatNav decided to use a completely different route for the return leg of my journey. I assumed it would use the same route it had used to get me there as it is supposed to always choose the fastest route. Logic dictates that if you use the same roads going back it has to be the same travel time. SatNav’s obviously don’t use logic.

So now my rough mental map is conflicting with where I really am and when the diversion signs are telling me I’m heading South when I think I need to be North, I naturally start to doubt any information I am being given. Had I continued South on the diversion I would have eventually reached the connecting road the SatNav was originally trying to reach.

Ultimately, without the aid of old technology such as the printed road map I carried in the car, I would still be going round in circles on unfamiliar roads right now.

Always, always, always have a plan B.

Unfortunately, I don’t see any leaders having any kind of plan B (unless it is to save their own hide). We’re in the lazy phase of this posts’ title.

Disneyland Paris visit

Friday, June 6th, 2008