Thursday 29 January 2004

Judge Hutton's "First stone" judgment

Next time just keep breathing
For weeks, we waited anxiously for the final words that would clear the air regarding the circumstances around Dr David Kelly's death.
After the verdict came, we could have continued breathing as normal all along, because none of the presumed guilty were daubed by the least of criticisms. Instead, the BBC, the public organ and bastion of global broadcasting found itself bereft of both a chairman and director-general in the space of 24 hours.
This was a pyrrhic sort of victory for the Mr Tony Blair, Mr Geoff Hoon and the maharajah of spin, the erstwhile Director of Communications – Alastair Campbell, in that they were comprehensively exonerated on all counts in view of the narrowest scope of the Hutton inquiry.
For one fault of the BBC, it was scalped, maligned, besmirched, debased and practically ridiculed. Judge Hutton might not have realised the repercussions but there be many, that he has nonetheless inflicted, which happens to be 70; just as he is.
BBC will still be here afterwards
For one, 70 years of BBC would go on to be 140 years with all the dramatis personae dead, buried and most definitely forgotten to the importance of the issues of the day.
Mr Blair could have stood 10 feet tall at the pronouncements, but it simply stressed with no let the need to realise that a man's life was forfeited for the sake of a failing government's honour. No much difference from the inhumanity meted out to women in the Indian/Pakistani rural areas regarding honour killings.
Why we went to war on the basis of evidence shaking to bits like a town hit by an earthquake registering 8.3 on the Richter scale.
Public opinion differs
In a court larger than the chambers wherein Judge Hutton had his deliberations, one is met with a certain bewilderment as to how the BBC took so much flack and everyone else got a sweet, a pat, a prize or a commendation.
Dr David Kelly who was sacrificed on the wobbly altar of the dodgy dossier might as well be offered up a sweet smelling savour of a judicial inquiry on the whole war debate and why we were so strongly persuaded to distraction about the elusive Weapons on Mass Destruction.
Casting the first stone
However, on another view, there was once a woman who committed adultery punishable by stoning to death. The man of the time was Jesus, to whom the accusers being great professors of law brought the offender seeking Jesus' of the law of the time.
Crime and punishment being the crucible on which society has burnished civilisation, Jesus pronounced the required judgement but one the proviso that the one without sin cast the first stone.
Now, He, Jesus could have offered to cast the first stone, being without sin, but He was not one of the accusers.
Let it be known, that the first stone may not have killed the woman, probably not even touched her, but each successive stone would have brought great pain and death so slowly and unfailingly – no man's heart being touched on the premise that the victim has been sacrificed on the altar of societal decency.
However, a conviction swept over the accusers and each one from the oldest to the youngest realised their frailty of sin and left without as much of a mutter.
Left alone with woman, Jesus enquired of her accusers having busied Himself with doodling in the sand all the while. Jesus then said, "Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more".
The caption picture
In the case of Dr Kelly, the BBC did cast the first stone in publishing the report about the 45-minute claim, which might have been unfounded, but that first stone was not what killed Dr Kelly.
It is the machinations of the Ministry of Defence; skulduggery of Downing Street; the lobbyist apparatus that pervades the politics of the day and the craving for credibility, which would have made no difference to our perception of the way New Labour has spun every event into a whirlwind tornado
Those issues altogether created the unbearable situation in which Dr Kelly found himself and led to his committing suicide.
In the name of justice and all it represents, for Judge Hutton to have seen only the slinging of the first stone and pronounced the victim dead regardless of the damage caused by other stones is wanting in judicious expertise to say the least.
Thankfully, the judge was never in the position that Jesus was in to pronounce the proviso to judgement; one might say in view of certain comments made about Dr Kelly by the judge –
"Shoot him down with a WMD for briefing beyond his remit".
He would have proclaimed from the bench.

Tuesday 20 January 2004

The Dubbiyew Report Card - 2003

The numbers do not add up
The world waited anxiously for the State of the Union address, which was supposed to be the precursor to the Presidential re-election campaign in 2004.
After 56 minutes of one-sided applause that occurred 69 times containing more rhetoric than substance, the Americans were left asking, "What is in this for me?"
The numbers speak for themselves on the front-page spread of the Independent newspaper of the UK The Real State of the Union.
Take a walk of the right edge
Enforcing the sanctity of marriage, encouraging abstinence, child discipline, faith-based institutions in the fore-front of social security and the renewal of the Patriot Act – this is the March of the Right over the whole of American.
Many of the issues whilst sensible did also expose the divisions of society in American. This leader leads to divide, the privileged from the under-privileged in every strata of society.
A closer scrutiny of all the presumably far-reaching announcements was sops to the privileged few in American.
The savings schemes for health and pensions to help the financial and insurance institutions, the energy issues to aggrandise the oil and energy lobbies, the faith-based institutions firmly placed in the polity to gain from the largesse of waste and tax cuts that benefit the very rich.
Choose your friends vigorously
The highlights of the speech include:
  • There are more votes in the Hispanic population than the gays of America
  • The war of terror enforces the Big Brother focus of the Patriot Act
  • Iraq and the coalition of the cajoled masquerading as global consent - See Blog
  • Healthcare issues should raise the stock profiles of the drug companies
  • Spare the rod and spoil the child
Americans and friends,
The lobbyist groups are strong
The special interest groups are emancipating
The crusades are marching on
The union, I cannot fix but give to you but more of the same, division, friction, unilateralism and pandering to the contributors to my campaign funds.
God bless America.

Monday 19 January 2004

Ineptitude unparalleled

A manager for the project-ile
You would be forgiven for thinking one has something against project managers. In fact, one does love project managers. Ones that know what a project is and then manage the project properly.
However, one has had a run of unkind fortune with a crop of the sort that defy commonsense in the face of reality and whose balls are too microscopic for observation with a microscope.
Nevertheless, there is a particularly nice person who happens to be yoked to the labour of project management, whose surname would remind you of that man-eating alligator you saw on National Geographic the other day.
His manager is of the view that he has a record of accomplishment of consistently delivering on projects in his care.
The track to ignominy or less
Indeed, he has a track record of delivering because many of the critical ends to his delivery end up on one's desk.
Being one whose personality of extroversion is too intertwined with one's job and professionalism as to be considered unhealthy, these things are done.
One cannot afford to be besmirched by the glowing incompetence of an individual ready to stitch you up for any of his failings.
You have to that one is only a fraction of the majority that cannot stand to countenance the alligator in a professional capacity – or the lack of it.
My civility tested
On more than one occasion, some emails, which might eventually feature as classics of professional put-downs, are cast as pearls to swine to our dear friend without impact; apart from highlighting his tomfoolery.
"This represents that worst set of data one has ever received in relation to data, please sort it out". Said one.
Another said, "We have to work to avoid situations where brinkmanship rules over procedural and methodical processes".
Yet again, "To now foist that error of judgment on me is completely disingenuous. Please reflect and reconsider your purpose and actions".
In a darts competition that would have been maximum points, considering this was circulated to a readership that would have cringed at the bluntness of expression.
Our friend is so thick-skinned he would have prevented the sinking of the Titanic.
I will tell you what is unacceptable
A number of instances have arisen where tin-pot little managers of no importance than heading departments in persistent vegetative state for the lack of creativity and innovative thinking.
Departments populated by a gene pool so diverse from the people who live down your street, it could give credence to evolution – God forbid!
After debunking some flawed and inadequate planning, the reply arrives – "It is unacceptable … Blah! Blah! Blah!
I will tell you what is unacceptable – It is unacceptable that
  • You commit to customers without knowing the availability of your deliverables
  • You leave out core elements of your project resources and then expect a last minute redress to sort out your mess
  • You escalate issues to solve your problems when you should have communicated effectively well before it became an emergency
  • You think you can demand goodwill having used up all political capital in pursuit of unachievable goals
  • You remain immune to knowledge
Immune to knowledge
Some people are beyond teaching or just cannot learn, when put in charge of projects in which one has deliverables, one falls a victim of unparalleled ineptitude.
Time to see the company shrink – I am stressed!

Sunday 18 January 2004

When the Free Speech brakes fail

The right to self-destruction
Expressing themselves clearly
Just as people do not appreciate, the value of good health until when struck down by illness, so do people maintain an atmosphere of indifference until someone abuses the right to free speech or self-expression.
As it happens, the issue of freedom of speech never arises until someone says or writes something that excites commentary. The proponents then seek the refuge of free speech to no avail.
Two events stand clear in this rush to the free speech refuge but the caretaker refused entry for all the banging and pleading at the gates.
Senator Trent Lott, the former Senate Leader of the US Senate at a birthday speech in celebration of the late Senator Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday.
Robert Kilroy-Silk, the talk-show host of a programme bearing his name, a former member of the British parliament and occasional newspaper columnist, the news column being the trigger for his misfortune.
Oops, that is offensive
Interest follows observing the similarities between both cases, in that the speech referred to the past and the column was once published eight months before.
Concerning the speech, the celebrant ran on a segregationist presidential ticket in 1948, Mr Lott in his speech apparently reminisced about how American might have been different if the celebrant had won.
Mr Kilroy-Silk had written the piece in the heat of the second Iraqi war, then focus was on events in Iraq, with a commentary by-line questioning the value of Arabs to modern society.
The comments caused great offence and an avalanche of recriminations.
Congenitally predisposed to pre-judge
The common saying that we judge others by their deeds and ourselves by our good intentions always fetches true in situations like this.
Nobody would feel elated when offered a frank assessment of his or her personality, creed, culture, views, identity, appearance or expression, which contains disparaging language that belittles, demeans and possibly offends.
Expression is not always necessary for a frank opinion, even though it might be true and valid. Everyone has a degree of subjective leaning, however, when expressed that becomes a kind of prejudice.
Frank is not necessarily objective; it is a facet of observation by the purveyor of the expression.
Be nice or be silent
Anywhere the free speech advocates rear their heads, the dichotomy of political correctness receives much commentary. For any issue, there is opportunity to project benevolence or malevolence; however, beneficence never attracts much attention except in recognition or award.
Malevolence demonstrated as a characteristic of the exercise of free speech is disingenuous at best and blatantly horrid at worst. It serves no particular purpose than to tug at the fragile seams of society and create division in an uneasy accommodation. It is the lit fuse to a bomb without knowing what would be the extent of the havoc caused.
It is no doubt that silence is never a virtue of the malefactors who are presumably expressing the views of the silent majority affected by the issue addressed. The expression is an incitement, though it may not receive enough momentum to spill into the streets.
Whose free speech?
The affected in the debate about the exercise of free speech usually have no clear forum of advocacy to seek redress. Redress for where free speech is abused is the exclusive preserve of the rich.
The law offers censure for slander, libel, blasphemy or sedition, which are loose synonyms of the abuse of the free speech. Only those who can afford the expense of the legal process can exercise the right to challenge offense.
That group of people who are subjected to the pique of inconsiderate and self-serving pronouncements either grin and bear it, or may have the fortune of a representative organization that seeks censure.
Free speech becomes the property of the broad audience of society, ownership is exercised by the all sides that are affected by the commentary, no matter how strong the retraction, it cannot be wrestled back from the offended.
Speaking up for a demise
In the two cases that feature in this article, none of the advocates of free speech could save the proponents from the consequences of their machinations.
The great lament about the ascendancy of political correctness over freedom of expression serves no beneficial ends for the perpetrators. Instead, it creates a finer focus on the offense and a greater outcry for a lynching.
The offended usually demand incessant apologies, which do not go far enough to ameliorate the feeling of wrong. The thirst and baying for blood only gets sated with the loss of a valuable position.
Mr Lott resigned the leadership of the US Senate and Mr Kilroy-Silk resigned from hosting his own talk show, considering none of what they said or wrote happened at the Senate or on the BBC talk show.
If there is any morale in these episodes, people who express themselves without restraint or an understanding of responsibly enhancing a harmonious society stand to lose the pedestals from which they pronounced their opinions and folly.

Friday 16 January 2004

Report Card - 2003

Excellent with room for improvement
The delivery
The Performance Review day arrived without much event apart from the fact that the initial hours provided scope for anger and resentment, but with a few long deep breaths, one relaxed.
For some reason evident to the boss, he had planned this for 09:00hrs knowing that I am not the best for early starts though I do hours well beyond the call of duty.
The hard feelings exacerbated on arriving just in time to find that he was a bit tardy, sometimes making a statement of principle requires inherent principles for starters.
Beyond all the carping and vituperation directed at the boss and his cronies over the last few blogs, he could at times be quite charming; you would be charmed out of your shoes, just as he could downright nasty.
One gave a general overview of objectives met and achieved with very good results; there was no need to spruce up any of the statements.
Then for some off-sheet accounts, a report of all the activities, achievements and successes for 2003 and then the goals and aspirations for 2004.
The Assessment
So far, the boss was quite impressed with one's performance and said so without noticeable restraint.
However, such assessments are rather two-edged, with proclamation come declamation and one had better to ready for that. It is standard practise to have room for improvement.
Well, nobody is perfect, neither is one, though one tries.
The Proclamations
A great asset to the team who applies meticulous discipline to all activities in which one has influence or input. Having a good grasp of how one's work fits into the organisation. Modesty is a virtue one would covet at this moment.
The Declamations
One does try to make it to work on time and have been on time most of the time. However, there has been occasion when one's presence has been needed earlier in the day and one was yet expected.
Somehow, some team members had turned that into a running joke implying one gets in after 11:00AM. That had precipitated into an assumed reality.
The work one does requires a lot of interaction between core skill personnel in our CIO team. Much of that is done by visiting the personnel at their desks rather than formalising meetings by booking time and rooms.
Apparently, one particular colleague with whom one has no day-to-day interaction had for a while taken a dislike to one's social interactions of which a majority is work-related.
In addition, some others had cited one's visits as impediments to their deliverables. Anyway, that is one area needing a radical character shift.
Finally, one's realism in the execution of projects unfortunately declines to antagonism by people who prefer to execute without weighing the risks. Whilst one is not utterly risk-averse, one only allows risk for the things within one's control.
One will not use other parties' assessment as a basis for taking risk knowing that failure never really accounts for the input of the third party.
True to type
Amongst other aspects, which need improvement, having the personality analysis introduced the boss to a new feature pf personality profiling and the scientific study of the individual as an individual of unique abilities and failures.
What made the most interesting reading was the career report based on the results of the Temperament Sorter analysis.
In producing the report below, one acknowledges the professional expertise of the Advisor Team in producing researched and detailed analysis based on responses to questionnaires that characterise character and temperament traits.
Under the topic of "Choosing the Best Occupation" read, ruminate and laugh – even the boss could not have imagined anyone would be well prepared to debate the declamations.
One would work on improving but not at the cost of personality aversion. That said, these assessments are the best independent analysis of who one is and in most cases rings true.
The Report
Artisan-Performer (ESFP)
Your motto is, "Let me entertain you. Let me make you smile." Bringing playfulness to any situation is your greatest contribution. In your ideal job, you have the opportunity to apply your talent for perfuming-improvising communications so that they appeal to the individuals or groups of people in you environment. You are very expressive and feel stifled in reserved and formal environments. When you are stuck in such environments, you may entertain yourself by playing the "class clown."
Your Ideal Job:
  1. Makes use of your charm and your kindness.
  2. Lets you make a "splash."
  3. Takes place in an expressive, personal setting.
  4. Lets you and the people around you have fun.
  5. Exposes you to a lot of people.
  6. Provides variety in projects, tasks and experiences.
  7. Provides a little bit of drama everyday.
Things you're good at:
  1. You make your workplace more enjoyable for everyone.
  2. You are good at the social aspects of work: interviewing, service, relationship building.
  3. Others recognize and appreciate your kindness.
  4. You can be powerfully persuasive.
  5. You enjoy interviewing, public speaking and other opportunities to represent yourself and your company.
  6. You probably get along with everyone you come in come in contact with.
  7. You are extremely resourceful in times of crisis.
Things to be aware of:
  1. In some arenas, you may not be taken seriously.
  2. You become restless when you have to work alone, with no one to interact with.
  3. Your expressiveness may be perceived as disruptive or "inappropriate."
  4. You have a tendency to play "class clown."
  5. You tend to avoid tedious work.
  6. Socialising at work and your social life outside of work may be sources of distraction.
  7. You may rely too heavily on information you get from people and fail to do your own research or make your own judgments.

Wednesday 14 January 2004

Dubbiyew the Delusionary

Headed for the Cosmos
Who writes those lines?
After the infamous "Axis of evil" words of the President Bush's 2002 State of the Union address, one could be forgiven for expecting those delirious prosaic nauseating conjurers to be dropped off at Mount Rushmore with air rails for support.
Though some have gone off to greener pastures where the wolves are bigger; the decision for KLM to accept the use of air marshals on their American-bound flights could only lead one to speculate that there is a booming trade in the best brand of smoke.
The speech about bouncing man off the moon unto Mars and the world beyond smacked of pogo-stick astronomy egged on by hopscotch astrology.
The speechwriters were definitely on something rare and undiscovered, because it put Arthur C. Clarke's 2001 – A Space Odyssey in the shade, this diatribe being the sequel – for argument sake, the prologue to George Dubbiyew Bush's 2004 – A Space Fantasy.
The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow
The conspiracy junkies have already begun picking out the fault lines in this uncharted Martian terrain. In an election year, with a haemorrhaging budget deficit, a dollar falling like lightning from the heavens and the Nemesis of Iraqi body bags ever hardening the pliable and docile Soccer Mum, Mars in a different orbit can do no harm.
No view of earth was evident when the Hollywood machinery of American genius kicked in with first a speech from space and then a space for weightless jokes attracting vacuous applause.
By the time the landing craft found a solid platform of quicksand, we had found life in the Andromeda galaxy on Planet Zorg, cosmic radiation and hypoxia in a Space Museum could set the imagination alight.
A new International Space Station; American fulfilling its obligations to its 15 partners for this purpose; a commune on the moon and then a weekend break to Mars travelling on a scooter. Bah!
One remembers lines from the current chart topper in the UK The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I ever had – it is a mad world no doubt. Gary Jules' cover of a Tears for Fears classic.
No ploy so devious
At the risk of sounding cynical, this is Desperately Seeking Re-election, in a shameful Houston to Apollo X dialogue …
Houston: History calling on sentiment, Rover!
Apollo X: Spirit of emotion seeking credibility, we hear you!
This attracts opprobrium so contemptible; shame is now a glowing compliment.
Whilst it is visionary, the cost is unquantifiable, possibly running into billions, mortgaging future Americans to a craze that has no neither purpose nor aim. Life might as well be on the moon but not in ways, our science can detect the life forms.
A simple lesson in invisibility can be either clothed in black in pitch-black darkness or being accelerated beyond the speed of light. We have the science for the first, but not yet for the second. Much as there can be other life forms and civilisations on this earth that, we have not begun to understand.
There is no cash for this dash,
once Americans note how rash
though this idea is flash
would send Dubbiyew's stash
out of the White House with a crash
A last word from Dubbiyew
"This one small step for re-election politics and a great leap for White House politicians."

Tuesday 13 January 2004

The Pen Pushers Posse Pogrom

The equines of time
Pressure at work emanates from a disconnect between what needs to be done and who can achieve it within the strictures defined outside one's control.
Usually, project managers, the harbingers of the technician's heartache, heartburn and consequent heart attack control the parameters of time that have one as bellows in a accordion.
The compression and extension producing melodious music to the ears of kamikaze management promising what they cannot deliver on the blood of their underlings drowns the cries of pain, as the music is the accompaniment to a frenzied foxtrot.
Beaten at their rotten game with integrity
It ought not to be so, just as brinksmanship is used to force the impossible into reality, a master equestrian can arrest the megalomania of micro-project objectives that titillate the Project Manager and redefine in terms that lay bare the achievable over the downright absurd within your timescales.
Except if 12 hours can be wrung out of eight normal working hours, additional resourcing is required the absence of which simply introduces a temporary setback allowing an opportunity to deliver late based on technical reality rather than project idealisms.
I am no hamster
One being at a point of being pressured unduly by escalations of multiple priorities drawing on one's reserves, the flustered man obtained an open cheque to estimate times to delivery.
So one did, liberally and sensibly, to their chagrin. The equestrian's mastery is in understanding the horse so that it does the bidding of the rider without hesitation, in the manner, one played for time and gained the reprieve that put the blood pressure within the confines of health young man.
One would deliver when one can, if needed faster, the Project Manager would have to shop for a hamster in a wheel.

Monday 12 January 2004

How to brew a conspiracy

The boss is up to no good
This was in the making for quite a while, that is was all coming together now was no surprise to all affected, but why?
Well, January is the time of yearly Performance Reviews in our organisation; yet, the characteristics that govern our execution or rather muddling and fumbling through projects are evident in performance review workflow.
The logic really follows that one should not expect that phase to run counter to the grain, especially if you are not if you are not on the greasy pole of corporate enhancement.
Being a time when managers exercise the most latitude without giving anything away, the dissimulation beggars belief, thinking you are hoodwinked, everyone can see the lie as well as you will see the enemy coming if you were atop a mountain – from all direction in which your gaze is cast.
The notices about the review arrived about two months before, but no stirrings to act until five days before the deadline.
The more perceptive of us had asked HR if this issue had been shelved, the advice came to be patient, because the whole process now in motion would impinge on us like an avalanche.
Therefore, it did on Monday with the proviso that further information about the review would follow. It did not.
Always be prepared
Having seen other teams obtain forms in preparation, which were filled in well before the meetings, the boss became accountable for not allowing us that level of preparation.
Being a master of the black arts of management, with the preparedness that foxes the fox that the hounds caught; the race was over by the time the gun went in a short sprint when his head start was at the finishing line. A victory lap he does, you bemoaning your tardiness.
Our team holds the initiative for all innovation, so in spite of the apparent lapse on his part, we surreptitiously obtained the form anyhow from others and prepared.
Herein is the conspiracy, fuelling resentment, bitterness, anger, retribution bordering on a compulsive obsession to unleash a self-destruct move.
Our man in the echelons of power knew we take time to prepare to meet with him, and when on projects or official issues he is not remiss to desiccate and pulverise, the individual has more control over this personal subject with the right to refuse to endorse an unfavourable agreement.
An option includes bringing in HR for arbitration, not good for either party.
However, lest one succumbs to the pervasive hypnosis brought on by praise that is damning if objectively reviewed, alertness to the facts with a waver of thought becomes a focal issue.
To forget is human
For the boss to gain ascendancy in such a way as to be able to withhold rightful remuneration is poor, though the game of subtlety involved is not for the faint-hearted or boys.
In the end, it had slipped his mind, not before everyone had their heads shaking in disgust and the quest for the counsel of the wise left one rueing one's potent ability to generally think things through and avoid the concealed disaffection, which masquerades as respect.
Ready, we were for the day and for those who battled, some drew blood, but none was harmed.
The day after is a tomorrow of promise, the promises you have made to yourself and not the ones about to be broken in the heat of your ego being massaged.
Temperament Sorters and Personality questionnaires
For one, before such assessments, one reviews once again the personality of I using the Keirsey Temperament Sorter II – An Artisan Performer one is, but do not believe that one is that much an extrovert, appearances are usually that deceiving.
The temperament sorter provides a free mini-result, but the full analysis costs about $15 and is well worth it.
One's Temperament is Artisan (SP) and the Character Type (ESFP); more detail is available on The Keirsey Home page.
An additional sorter based on the original results to define your kind of career aspirations is obtainable from your profile page for under $20.
One has found this useful and is no sales pitch.

Sunday 11 January 2004

Nary a dry eye

Drag me into the first and I might see the rest
Being one not easily persuaded by the rave reviews and hype surrounding Oscar-nominated films or even ones enjoying great critical acclaim; one has finally given in to the excitement to the two recent trilogies of drama and action.
The Matrix and Lord of the Rings series were films one first watched long after the cinemas are ditched the influx for other new Hollywood servings.
In the case of the Matrix, one had opportunity of borrowing the DVD from a colleague at work and that suffered six viewings in quick succession over 4 nights. That one missed the theatrical release was like being in the midst of the news but not hearing the news.
One could not wait for the next in the series, which was, then another year away.
The Fellowship of the Ring which was the first part of the Lord of the Rings trilogy came into one's possession as a bundled-bargain of three Douwe Egberts filter coffee packs and a VHS video with Dutch subtitles.
One must confess there was not as much excitement to see the next instalment as one had with the Matrix. One did see the next two theatrical releases of the Matrix, which had the ingenious direction of them being filmed at the same time, and the road exclusively built for the chase scenes.
You will have to rob me for that
Shopping on Saturday, there are now three bookshops that cater for English books, Waterstones and the American Bookstore on Kalverstraat and the New English Bookshop on Leidsestraat. [The main tourist and shopping streets in Amsterdam – there are others but not for the middle incomer].
The latter offers affordable books more of the reference quality and not necessarily as contemporary as the other bookshops.
One has run out of decent bookshelf space and the furniture store beckons for a domiciliary makeover.
Anyway, one was in Waterstones and sauntered to the video section to view what could be purchased. One did not get to see the theatrical version of the Two Towers, second of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. It behoves one to see that before the popcorn night for the Return of the King.
At €40 for the theatrical version and €60 for the extended version of 42 extra minutes on the version that went to the cinemas, one could be forgiven for thinking videos were like music that you listen to time and time again.
Nay! Videos might get a second viewing, music gets many more playbacks, apart from the extras in commentaries, reviews and other snippets of versatility, and the DVD from my perspective is hardly worth that financial outlay.
It is interesting to note that about 20 years after the Indiana Jones series, one can get the whole DVD pack for under €50 and watch at leisure.
No surprise the everyday person of regular film-going age would either go to the cinema or download the film from the internet than spend what could be term larceny on DVDs.
I, for one, walked into my local rental and got the extended version for an overnight viewing at €4, and was able to watch the whole film and one half of the commentary over 24 hours. €56 saved from acquisition and €5 saved from a theatrical viewing in the summer.
Cry me a river
Two days after watching the second of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, one was determined to catch the third being The Return of the King in the larger cinema halls.
In a rush to catch the bus to the station from the office, one had inadvertently booked a ticket in the wrong cinema at the Southern end of Amsterdam rather than in the centre – The Pathe group has a number of cinema halls around the Netherlands and allows for internet reservations of tickets with mobile phone SMS confirmations.
Getting into the city centre was a bit fraught because of some train scheduling problems and rare but increasing occurrence in theNetherlands.
Finally, one was just in time to get a seat in the main hall for a three-hour sitting, a serving of Coke and sweet popcorn with the inconvenience of a full bladder. Endurance and excitement what gives?
In the last 20 minutes, there were screens of reunion and happiness in view of the suffering that of the whole trilogy, the flood of tears from the macho men would float a whale.
For those in the know, whilst Justin Timberlake has a contemporary release of a track Cry Me A River, however, a 1953 version once also sung by Billie Holliday has more relevance.

Saturday 10 January 2004

Pirates of the mintrels' art

One is getting rather bored
Lately, the recording and film industry have bored us with the incessant rant about piracy, illegal downloads and falling profits.
There might have been a time when one could almost sympathise and understand their plight; however, they are victims of their inactions, evident in the fact that elephants are not nimble animals.
Just as people do not try to consider the roots and causes of terrorism, the roots and causes of piracy are ignored in favour of attacking the symptoms.
By analogy depending on the species of tree, cutting the leaves, stems or branches might stop growth or kill the tree, but it is uprooting the tree that would ensure the death of that tree.
In the creative wilderness
What is needed by the recording industry is some creative thinking on how to harness the new technologies for the survival of their businesses.
Creative thinking however is something that has been lacking in the industry for a long time. Examples abound of where they have refused genuine artistic license to artistes who do have creative genius for the supposed understanding of what the customer wants.
George Michael suffered a stifling of this creativity when Sony failed to market appreciably his Listen Without Prejudice album, which by all account enjoys critical acclaim.
The reality talent shows like Fame Academy and Pop Idol would make more sense if some of the judges were people with talent who could nurture talent better than thinking of how to deliver the most obnoxious put-down.
It is good to see that some of the manufactured bands are splitting up and the real talent is shining through with solo contracts where the artiste has more control over their material and how it is presented.
Video kills the radio star
It is no secret that the record companies abuse their positions when the transition from vinyl to CD allowed them to charge above the odds for their material. It is interesting to note that piracy was not that rife with the advent of recording devices like the cassette player.
However, the MP3 is a complete shake down of the industry, this made music digitally portable and Napster – a data-sharing software and service – allowed the MP3s to be shared amongst enthusiasts at no cost.
The recording industry went after Napster and close-down the company, but it provided the forum for more Napster-like services which are well within the commonsense limits of a data-sharing service dependent on what the individual wants to share.
A test case brought in Europe came to nought because the judge contended that if a customer has bought their music, they are within their rights to do whatever they want with what is principally their property.
Reckless gambling
Now, the argument for piracy destroying the finding new talent does not hold any water. If the talent were real rather than manufactured, it would show through.
Companies should also properly reward artistes based on their sales and stop front-loading contracts with outrageous sums that amount to reckless gambling.
Maria Carey and Michael Jackson are cases of where companies invested millions on a potential that did not materialise.
Music for all tastes
The focus of industry should also move on from just serving the musical tastes or rather tastelessness of the teenager generation, we need music that is good for listening, good to dance to, rhythmic and sensible.
It is unfortunate that part of this poor music culture fuels drug usage because nominally no one in their clear minds can dance to music played at 130 beats per minute.
Additionally, all this mixing business does not necessarily enhance the quality of the music for the dance floor; there is no good recognition factor for music that has been adulterated with other sounds, which were not part of the creative purpose of the artiste.
Technological advancements
It is clear that technological advancements would lead the curve when it comes to the music industry and it is time for the music industry elephant to re-invent itself.
The common saying is "If you are green you grow, if you are ripe you rot" the rotting smell of denial and lack of visionary drive to capture the technologies for enhancement is pervading the air and suffocating everyone.
Piracy is here to stay
  1. Piracy would not go away, until the industry provides just and sensible reward for the artiste, not every artiste has to be a millionaire and have a wanton and lascivious lifestyle. They are supposed to be people like you and I.
  2. It would not go away until the customer sees music formats as affordable.
  3. It would not go away if the quality of published and produced music were not distinctly better than the Napster-like downloads.
  4. It would not go away if the music produced is so ephemeral and has no enduring quality, which is why a contemporary's greatest hits album is only valuable within five years of their marketability.
Compared to the classics of the 60s, 70s and early 80s, the dash for market share and cash of the 90s has done much damage to the fabric of creative talent.
More people are switching to other non-popular or classical forms of music for entertainment, relaxation and inspiration.