rashbre central: February 2017

Monday 27 February 2017

moonlight and an integrity, accuracy and confidentiality slippage in la-la land

Has anyone else noticed Brian Cullinan and Martha Ruiz with those black briefcases containing the Oscar results? Especially that Brian, for some reason, appears to have two cases? A case of double entry (boom-tish accountancy joke).

Come to think of it, that PWC slogan about '..accuracy..' might also have taken bit of a boom-tish.

Last year Kate Blanchett appeared to be trying to help Brian out, attempting to remove one of his PWC monogrammed cases. She may have got a best actress award that year, but Brian didn't get her hint about keeping things simple.

Oh well. It looks as if Ryan Gosling still had a good time, even if the actual award was snatched away.

Sunday 26 February 2017

coffee break

A guilty pleasure watching this tv advert.

OK, I'll admit it, I have even rewound it and played it again.

Assembling before a business meeting in London, it'll often be in a random coffee house close to the venue where, no doubt, some of the situations described are playing out.

Saturday 25 February 2017

spicy acolyte gaggle reduction denials

At that aircraft hanger rally MrT talked about the fake media that was out to get him.

Then a couple of days later his spicy acolyte decided to run a press gaggle without certain of the media in attendance.

The ones missing happened to coincide with the ones that MrT had earlier identified as fakes.

But that's not what Breitbart News reported; they were able to say that the whole 'ban' on some reporters was, itself, fake news.

MrT has now said he won't appear at the upcoming correspondents’ dinner, which is scheduled for 29 April. That's the one where the incumbent U.S. President has the Michael extracted by a bunch of comedians and other press folk.

Many have seen that one a few years ago where Obama was the President but Seth Myers managed to get a few barbs into Donald, although Donald remained rather static and looked as if he'd remember the speaker for a very long time.

I suppose we will have to make do with that ongoing Saturday Night Live series now that the White House microphones could remain blanked out for some of the coverage? Perhaps they will also re-run the old Comedy Central Roast of Trump? That's another one where Trump doesn't look best pleased for most of it.

Wednesday 22 February 2017

virtual reality and stranger things

Having recently turbo-cycled through the Stranger Things series on Netflix, it has been fun to spot the numerous references to other movies and genres during its episodes. A sci-fi show set in the 1980s, so before the prevalence of mobile phones and other gadgets.

Right from the Star Wars like montage of the promotional poster, it is clear to see that this series has many sci-fi and horror influences. A primary styling influence is E.T. with wider Spielberg hat-tips such as the 'drop of blood' Jaws component.

There's oodles of other references, from Alien face huggers, Firestarter psychic powers and nosebleeds, pre-cog tank floatation from Minority Report, Altered State morphing, Under the Skin's black event horizon (yep that is Scarlett Johansson below), clicking pre-striking Predator sounds, boy buddies like in Super 8. Then there's a short sequence which plays the melody line from Twin Peaks (I had to rewind to check I'd heard it) and the titles for the whole show come straight from the cover of any Stephen King novel.

The list goes on and we even get posters from other movies on various bedroom walls, in one case even declared 'inappropriate' by the Dad character.

In a movie like Under the Skin, the female lead gets a strong character part. In Stranger Things, despite including female lead roles there is also some utilitarian and unsympathetic writing. Without wishing to spoiler it, there's at least one unlamented disappearance.

It all makes the main plot line of the series a bit Scooby-Doo, with various episodic adventures involving scary buildings, bear traps and sundry weaponry. It's like a a few recent series I've watched which seem to break out guns and rifles just a bit too readily. I suppose the succession of episode writers are given a start and end position and x minutes to improvise with their characters and the locations.

There's even a set of those mysterious scientists that work in an anonymous building on the edge of town. And a quasi-governmental Agency able to do just about anything.

The series has clearly been popular and there's a current countdown already running for its sequel. I notice the countdown scrolls like a VR screen. Like any good scary movie, the obvious thing is 'look behind' and find the vintage television running an upside down show, which gives some further clues about Series 2.

Tuesday 21 February 2017

old phones for new? hey alexa, what color are your eyes?

As part of the ongoing tidying and clearance operations, I stumbled across this time capsule of old phones. They were tucked away in the back of the garage, in a crate. Ironic that this is the week that the owners of the Nokia brand for one of the phones announce they are to restart Nokia 3110 production.

I never had a 3110, which was the type that had the gimmicky plastic cover swaps. My professional 6110 and subsequent phones all had 10 day plus battery life and held on to calls even on one bar signal strength. They were brilliant for, yes, making phone calls and I had several generations that all fitted the same car kit. I remember buying that Ericsson 'World' at Brussels airport duty free when I was on the way to the USA in the days before everything worked everywhere.

Nokia's approach changed around the time of the 7110 with the Matrix style spring cover hiding the keyboard. Nokia changed the buttons to a roller and it just didn't work as well. But it had that predictive text system which worked okay if you only had a few keys. It still fitted the car kit though. But then we were all given a succession of Blackberries right up to when the iPhone appeared.

My question now is whether there will be a new demand for a simple phone based upon advances in voice recognition? For example, 'Hey Alexa' works okay, but is still somewhat temperamental when it wakes up unexpectedly in the middle of a movie when it thinks it hears its name. Like with the playful deliberate sequence in Mr Robot.

Meanwhile, my experimental holding of shares in Apple continue to go north. They are showing a 51% gain since I bought them last year. As well as the upcoming Chinese and Indian 5SE update, Apple are allegedly expecting an iPhone super cycle in September, when they release something that includes augmented reality and wireless charging. Has anyone else noticed the increase of iBeacons around certain areas (buses and tubes spring to mind)? But whatever they do with the next iPhone I bet it won't fit my current car kit.

Here's one of those Mr Robot scenes from S2E11, redrawn here in cartoon form via DSC. Dominique DiPierro is played by Grace Gummer (that's Meryl Streep's daughter). Alexa is the sightly weird North American Alexa.

As a footnote, this cartoon version doesn't trip Alexa, I think it's because of the rerecorded audio?

Monday 20 February 2017

Alexa tries to join in a conversation with two other Alexas chatting on youtube

When I was preparing the Tuesday post, I noticed the 'two Alexas talking to one another video'.

It's quite fun to add a third one to the two already talking.

Sunday 19 February 2017

fake reality: or maybe it was all a dream?

I watched the unfiltered full version of the aircraft hanger speech live on Saturday. It was interesting to see Donald re-running one of his pre-election speeches with a few extra pieces about press reporting added into the mix.

My problem might be that I have actually watched whole chunks of the live stuff. So when Trump talks about something bad happening in Sweden Friday night, I am intrigued. I can't find out what it was?

Watching it live gives the chance to hear directly what is being said rather than just absorbing a remix from a media site. Of course Fox, which seems to carry most of the stories and events, has its own 'friend of Trump' agenda, which I noticed loud and clear from my time in the USA last year when the conventions were taking place.

There are so many box-set worthy items to pick from. And yes, I know I have left a few out. Including Sweden.
  • The EPA unfreezing: Comprising the removal on Day One of the Presidency, of all climate change material from the White House Site. The later appointment of Scott Pruitt as the new EPA boss will ensure that climate change initiatives are rolled back.
  • The Affordable Care repeal: So called Obamacare repeal, putting 18 million Americans into an uninsured healthcare poverty trap, unless there is a new initiative put in place by next month.
  • The southern wall: signed off along with 10,000 new immigration officials to be added. Operation Cross Check has also just conducted targeted enforcement actions (raids) in at least 11 states, related to immigration and scooped up another 680 people. In Obama's administration, the rate of deportation was circa 300k-400k per annum.
  • Dodd-Frank to be repealed or at least reduced. This is the Act that was put in place to stop the banks from having a free-for-all approach to their conduct.
  • Immediate freeing up of regulations for Detroit and other car makers, along with threats that if cars are made outside the USA they will attract huge tariffs.
  • Re-pricing of the hyper-expensive F35 fighter, via negotiations with Lockheed Martin. The trumpeted $600m saving is small beer in the scale of the program where the US intends to buy over 2,400 planes for circa US$323 billion. And something else. It had already been negotiated by the Pentagon before Trump came to office.
  • UK special relationship - whatever that will mean
  • Changing the way the US Trade deficit is calculated, to support the need for deal renegotiation
  • The Mexican stand-off when the Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto called off the meeting with Trump.
  • Ambiguous relationship with Russia, which includes the old footage of Trump saying he was talking to Putin, but which is now being denied. My speculation is that the old claims were in any case false.
  • That unfortunate shortened phone call with Australia
  • Family links to Russia for business.
  • Israel changes of direction
  • China one state/two state changes of direction
  • Trans Pacific Partnership deal cancelled (was already likely to go)
  • Trump's scorn of NATO has been rebalanced by Pence's visit and reassurances in Europe. All subject to everyone paying in their 2%.
  • Mike Flynn appointed and then sacked/resigns over Russian interests. Storyline from Trump has been haphazard but implied at one time a lack of trust.
  • Sean Spicer says it was the Obama administration that approved that January 28 raid on al Qaeda in Yemen that led to the deaths of a Navy SEAL and possibly civilians. But former Obama security official Colin Kahl says this is false.
  • The seven country immigration stoppage, where the countries were predominantly Muslim and the attendant chaotic scenes caused partly by not informing anyone in advance about the action.
  • Indefinite ban on Syrian refugees entering the USA and new 'safe' areas proposed in Syria.
  • Arguments between the government and the legislature, including the quotes about a 'so-called judge'.
  • A call by the President to investigate 2016 alleged voter fraud (could be interesting?)
  • Sally Yates, acting Attorney General was fired after not supporting the travel ban. She also blew the whistle on the Russian sanctions a long time ahead of it becoming general knowledge.
  • Hundreds of diplomats and officials signed a protest at certain new State Department directives. White House says they should quite.
  • Trump encouraging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to "go nuclear" and change Senate rules if required to overcome Democrats' opposition to Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
  • Delays to confirmation of Presidential nominations for certain key posts.
  • Trump hinting at use of Fed in troubled areas, such as Chicago
  • Press spokesman for the President (Sean Spicer) losing cool in press conferences.
  • Fake News becomes news
  • Family links to Trump's ongoing so called 'blind businesses'
  • Use of Trump facilities for State business (such as Mar-a-Lago which has also now doubled its membership fees). Trump referring to it as the Southern White House.
  • Use of Mar-a-Lago for informal deal brokering, like the $20 billion wall. Trump startled member Richard LeFrak by suggesting he might contract to build it, albeit for a lower price. A whole new kind of swamp.
  • Still no news on tax matters.
  • Use of Presidential equipment (such as Air Force One) as part of his oddly timed 2020 aircraft hanger campaign presentation.
  • Steve Bannon as Manipulator in Chief, with access to just about everything.
  • Trump top team comprising mainly billionaire white men of a certain age.
  • The weird argument about who had the biggest inauguration crowd. And whether or not it rained.
  • That stuff about shoes in Nordstrom
Phew. Using any manipulation handbook, expect President 45 to start talking about deep state conspiracies next, followed by some selective sackings. That is, unless the Munich Bierhalle talk of the 25th Amendment gains any momentum?

And even after Swedish foreign ministry spokeswoman Catarina Axelsson's attempt to get the information, I still don't know what that Friday Swedish thing was?

Friday 17 February 2017

down by the water

Still checking out waterside locations. This one is very close to cycle route 2.

Thursday 16 February 2017

Two gold fish are sitting in a tank. One gold fish looks at the other and says: "Hey man, how the hell do you drive this thing?"

I saw this video a couple of weeks ago and have been waiting for a gap in my regular blog posts so that I could drop it in.

Yes, a goldfish controlled vehicle. Experimental imaging allows the goldfish to determine the direction of the cart.

"I'll drive, you take the guns"

Wednesday 15 February 2017

six foot air gap

I know this is a totally posed vanity shot from that expensive Mar-a-lago resort. I'm sure that the shadowy uncredited image of the back of the Manipulator's head wasn't an accident. It is remarkable how often he is shown in shot within two metres (I suppose I should really say six feet) of the person allegedly in charge.

Tuesday 14 February 2017

Monday 13 February 2017

a different kind of rehearsal

A few days away.

Beach, waterside views, village, easy access to a city.

Maybe it is a kind of rehearsal?

Sunday 12 February 2017

speculating with brexit numbers, because somebody needs to

Another week or more and I still haven't seen anything directly useful from the Brexit planning, so I thought I'd put together my own draft tables.

There's been various high level figures bandied about, but I thought I'd produce something which showed some sort of run rate of payments.

These are my basic planning assumptions:
  • The net contribution from UK to EU per annum is around £8.5bn after the rebates etc.
  • There will be an ongoing commitment to the EU post Brexit, particularly if we expect to do something relevant around tariffs.
  • There's an awkward pension gap which UK will be obliged to pay. I'm fairly appalled by this, especially paying ongoing pensions to the original UK representatives who saw their job to undermine the EU, and the eurocrats rushing to get Belgian citizenship, but it will still need to be covered.
  • There will be some kind of projects charge for things that UK has already inescapably committed
  • There will be some kind of 'pain of exit' charge. I have called it the Exit Fee - needed so that the EU can show other members that it is better to stay in. This could, in other ways be considered a bribe or a revenge factor.

Rather than produce one table, I've produced three, to get a 'snake in the tunnel' approach. A `UK aggressive' (minimum), a 'Typical' and an 'EU Aggressive' (maximum). The figures for the three come out as follows:

It gives a range of all-in costs of between €109bn and €174bn.

I can make the €108bn look like €83.4bn fairly easily by removing the pre Brexit run-rate of payments. It is still a long way north of the tabloid €34bn being speculated.

It is fairly easy to discredit the hypothesised €34bn because it is only around 4 years of the €8.5bn run-rate.

Here's the same table in more detail. Come to think of it, the raggeldy opposition should probably have done something like this, instead of being broken and ineffectual.

Of course my 15 minutes of spreadsheeting is unfinessed. There's probably more options to chip away at the numbers. I show payments staggered over a five-year period. This could also be tweaked as well as the start point could be re-phased.

Politically this range of options provides more ways to explain things as well as subtly continuing payments beyond the end of Brexit. Of course they are under a new guise and it is in return for the relevant tariffs to be easily agreed.

Doing a simple exercise like this at least begins to illustrate parameters and positioning.

There's a pretty hefty DExEU team now in place.

Roll on some observable action and, most importantly, outcomes.

Saturday 11 February 2017

breakfast in the pub, with snow

Saturday morning, in the pub along the road, for breakfast.

Lightly snowing outside, but not enough to put off a couple of tables of walkers, ready to head off, complete with a dog.

It's part of one of my bicycle routes, so I know the area quite well.

We settled into our breakfast, me with the Eggs Benedict, more the English way than Delmonico's.

A few cups of coffee, some orange juice and general chatter. The pub gently filled and by now it was mid-morning. Some louder noises and I spotted the dog again. The walkers had been out, completed their entire walk, come back and were now ordering from the bar.

We must have been there longer than we thought.

Friday 10 February 2017

post reality blank paper golden fleece manipulation strategies

I get the corrupt republic argument. "Only in a corrupt republic, in corrupt times, can a tyrant rise." Like the 'ambitious liberalism' argument that over-hugging can make everything go a bit hippy-dippy.

So we get the rise of populism. Differing degrees with Brexit and Trumpton. Voices of the generally unheard people protesting that life ain't good. Unless there's a selfie in it somewhere.

There's the irony then of electing billionaire bullies to prominence or placing unbelievers into roles where they must turn 180 degrees. There's also a free fall element to the whole set-up, where consequences are hardly considered and it becomes all about the activity rather than about a planned outcome.

The Americans are doing it with the rat-a-tat-tat of executive orders. Blank sheets that can say anything and can adopt the ready-fire-aim philosophy except there's really no guidance system beyond the murky rich white man circle now in power. More a case of feeding the swamp than draining it.

And here, in the UK, the ready-fire-aim continues, although our blank sheets remain steadfastly blank. We are managing with a preoccupation on whatever happens to be the current activity rather then the effect we wish to achieve. Busyness rather than business. The PM should, by now, be kicking over tables of the people running the teams that are supposed to be having the ideas to come up with something useful.

We have a few set-pieces coming forward. Trump visits the Queen. It reminds me of high profile business trips that include a 'jolly'.

A visit to a revolutionary new form of housing development with a side trip to the adjacent Monaco casino. Or a visit to the R&D facility in Texas the same week as SWSX. You get the idea. So presumably Trump will want to play nicely with the UK until he has added his trip in a golden carriage to the ego wall next to his Playboy cover. Thumbs up.

I was going to make a quick PS of Stevie and Donnie peeping out of the carriage, but I think I'll leave that one to the imagination.

The Steve Bannon cover of Time this week already makes the point about the economic nationalist manipulation behind Trump's desk.

Come to think of it, I doubt that Trump's entirely self-contained ego would ever admit it.

So instead of Trump already in the carriage, I thought I'd imagine the type of heraldic order he could borrow.

He clearly likes this sort of thing, what with his yellow and purple triangular coat of arms, surrounded by gold and with a big T in the middle.

It didn't take me long to think of something appropriate.

Originating from 1430s Belgium, but with distinctly Spanish overtones, along with the obvious gold finery.

Yes, the Order of the Golden Fleece.

I know, my Photoshoppery isn't up to much, but this is only intended as a rough draft. It's too early for Trump to be awarded the American Golden Fleece Award (which is all about wasting public money). He's been too busy as he puts it 'being smart' and not paying Federal Taxes.

I still remember my first visit to Trump Tower, many years ago. I was overcome by its use of blingy gold. Probably part of Trump's unsentimental approach. You can imagine the order 'Make it gold. Very gold. Good gold. Very very good gold.'

Back in those days we laughed it off as a kind of Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

The thing is, by the measures of money, business and politics, he has continued to be immensely successful since that time. That's even if some of his methods, like trash-talking opponents, bullying, lack of grace, misogyny, grandstanding, virtue trumpeting, not paying suppliers and re-inventing the truth wouldn't usually hold up to scrutiny.

Watch as populism turns into outsiderism.

Thursday 9 February 2017

a million light years watching OA

I see The OA is being commissioned for another series. Good news because the original series has a kind of indie frontier story telling.

It took me a while to work out that its main protagonist, Prairie played by Brit Marling, had also created the idea and written much of it.

It's a kind of Russian doll of a story with multiple layers and at times you are not sure if you are going down or up a level. I liked the way it dabbled with genres and enjoyed the playfulness of its approach. I spotted this recent interview with Brit Marling, on CBS, and it gives some insights into what is a fairly unique kind of show.

I'm pretty sure there's some arty references too. There's a hut on a tundra at one point, evoking a Malevich landscape before he fully hit on the basic geometry of supremacist art.

And later, Malevich also painted the five white houses, which could become part of a season 2 inspiration. Oh yes, the 5s and 7s seem to play quite a part.

Another cultural clincher for me is what's inside one of the places that Prairie visits.

I've always liked Yayoi Kusama's work and there's a set of well known pieces called Infinity Mirrored Rooms. Hard to describe, without the experience, but here is a picture of one that was in the Tate.

The rest of the title of the piece is The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away. And yes, it fits. Catch my drift, there's some depth to the storytelling, although you can't be sure how much is reliable, and which things are imagined.

I'll be looking out for more of this and maybe even some Love is Calling in the new season.

Wednesday 8 February 2017

checking progress towards my garmin 2017 targets

I've just about caught up with my planned year to date cycling. I was a long way behind at the start of the year as a result of the spluttery bug.

I'm also pretty sure that there will be other times this year when the cycling has to take a pause, so I'd better make progress whilst the sun don't shine.

The graph shows it was only part way through January before my first ride and as a result I was 80 to 108 miles behind my 'pace' target right from the start.

I know it is only a bit of fun but it still feels good to be getting 'ahead', even if it is only against a self-imposed target.

More fun at the moment is looking at my 'Blue' target (that's my easy one), which is already 45% complete.

Tuesday 7 February 2017

last night I reached one of the Noooo! moments in Fortitude 2

There are some TV places where, if you lived there, you'd probably leave. Why would anyone stay in Midsomer? or Albert Square? Or that sunny island in the one about paradise. The problem with them all is that there's a high chance you'll be bumped off, swindled, trapped in a burning building, poisoned or similar.

It's the same with Fortitude, which is in its second series now. Actually, I think it would be fascinating to visit the real place, with its majestic scenery, wild climate and so on.

There's even a promotional video saying 'come visit'.

Of course, nothing can be what it seems. The first season has a high body count, including some of the original stars of the show. Now we get series 1 survivors like the island's governor Sofie Gråbøl as Hildur Odegard as well as newbies like fisherman Michael Lennox robustly played by Dennis Quaid.

I won't allude to the series 1 plot premise, although it is fair to say that there's new danger right from the opening sprockets of this second series. Even some items of closure from Series 1 can have an unexpected twist that makes the viewer slightly uncertain about possible recurrences.

I'm in mid series at the moment and have recently passed one of the more significant 'Nooo!' points where something so shocking happens that you wonder how the rest of the series can play out.

That's not to say there aren't plenty of other freaky moments in the show. I've only watched this one late at night, with the ambient speakers switched on to provide extra wind and snow effects. Anyone who has watched Alien in the dark during the sequences crawling around the darkened space ship will be familiar with the feeling.

Scenically, a Scandinavian science research lab can make a perfectly good substitute for the well-lit area of a space ship and there's still plenty of excuses to walk around in science-fiction type protective clothing.

That's a clever aspect of Fortitude. The setting gives such a vast range of textures. The stark whiteouts of blizzards. The sun kissed peaks on a fine day. Darkness with blood auroras overhead. Brown pub interiors at least until the power fails. Scan-wegian architect designed town halls. Guest houses with plenty of doors, hiding secrets. It's all there.

I can understand why the police in the town seem to pull their guns so frequently.

There's scarcely a shed to be examined or run down mine shaft that won't be a likely source of big trouble.

Add a few wild animals into the mix, stir gently and let the mayhem commence.

And I've realised I will need altered states of consciousness to get through the last part of this series.

Over 16s trailer below...

Monday 6 February 2017

Super Bowl beverages and transport create controversy

I know the Super Bowl is supposed to be about American football. However, the NFL kind of football has sections of play that last about 5 seconds and then everyone has to get in a huddle again for a restart.

It makes the game very stop-start, which I suppose is good for the advertisers. It seems to be about the advert breaks rather than the game, with everyone building special adverts just for the show.

I just knew the 'Advocados from Mexico' one would be good.

That's a problem watching Super Bowl on UK telly. The adverts are removed and we get men in suits in a studio demonstrating blocking moves instead. The studio time is almost as long as the game time.

Okay here's the other bit of the Advocados from Mexico. Subliminal.

So UK TV would have missed this Budweiser advert about two immigrants inventing the all American beers Bud and Busch. It doesn't seem to have gone down too well with certain folk.

We did get the coin toss on regular telly.

Cut from studio to ex President Bush rolling onto the field. He flips the coin and it falls under a cameraman's monopod. They announce the result.

Annnddd its another advert break - or in the UK back to the studio again whilst the Americans get 90 seconds on the latest Ford car initiatives and look at a cat with a box over its head.

Not a bad advert actually, with Nina Simone 'I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free' (gasp...but it is also that UK Film Night theme tune) and Bryan Cranston doing the voiceover.

Ford are promoting their Westfield World Trade Centre hub, which is like their version of the long-established L'Atelier Renault in the Champs Élysées.

Then back to the action. In fairness the Americans have found a way to speed up some parts of the game. It's legal in some situations to pass the ball forward.

A touchdown doesn't actually require to be touched down on the ground, like rugby try would. But then, the Americans don't seem to like kicking the ball. They even get someone else to hold it for the equivalent of a drop-kick.

Hold on. Time for another car adverts. The Merc AMG one is directed by the Coen brothers.

It also requires some skill to decide which is the best UK coverage.

The BBC went for a more realistic colouring than Sky Sport Mix HD which seemed to turn up the saturation.

I did prefer the latter, although both of them seemed to have quite pokey studios, with BBC actually getting one that looked as if it could directly see the game.

Okay here's another advert break.

This one is for...Cars.

Audi this time, but there's an edge. If Mercedes went for an all-American theme - Born to be wild, Peter Fonda etc., then Audi went for equal pay for women.

Yep a bit of politics for the Super Bowl.

And back in the game there's some scoring, with different pundits selecting each of the teams.

I can't help thinking that there's a quiet sporting agenda though. If you don't come from Atlanta or New England then it seems to be about wanting the New England Patriots to lose.

Advert time.

A bit more politics with this one.

The dark Handmaid's Tale which is set in the military dictatorship of the Republic of Gilead (formerly the United States of America), ruled over by Old Testament religious fanaticism. 'kay.

By now the scores are clicking up. But you know what? It must be time for a longer commercial break.

How about this one for Pepsi, which lights up the sky with branding?

Intel supplied the 500 drones used to make an American flag and Pepsi logo, although that part of the show was like the Chinese Olympics section, where it had to be recorded and was therefore 'Run VT'.

However, the spectacular Lady Gaga performance during which she managed to pull off singing Woody Guthrie's 'This Land was made for you and me', as well as her own diversity anthem 'Born This Way'.

I was impressed that she snuck some messaging in without it really showing too overtly. A well deserved mike drop and body drop at the end.

I guess after that it's best to just record the rest and watch it later on 30x.

Maybe hunt out some more of the adverts? I've even learned that the Big Mac now comes in three sizes. It had to happen.

Sunday 5 February 2017

so-called leader in the high tower and other tropes

I suddenly realised that this version of 2017 is probably an accidental parallel world. I must have stumbled when I walked past that worm hole along Whitehall and the flash of light wasn't a cluster of brightly lit cyclists, it was that moment of passing across the gap.

Luckily I've read that Philip K Dick novel as well as watching the TV show, so I know there will be another blinding flash as things return to the old kind of normal.

Come to think of it, our friends across the pond are still largely in favour of what is happening there, with apparently more people supporting recent actions than the vociferous ones opposing.

But that's where alternative facts make it so difficult to keep up. In that TV show they had to add a whole significant Obergruppenführer John Smith character just to represent the new normalised viewpoint.

The Rufus Sewell character was written in to help us viewers keep track of the popular viewpoint. I can't really spot an equivalent character amongst the Kuschner, Miller, Bannon, Conway, Spicer, Priebus, Punch and Judy of the new gang.

In the Philip K Dick alternative world, sometimes the characters used the I Ching to try to figure things out. Hexagram 29 popped out.

In our so-called reality, the so-called president maybe isn't heeding this hexagram's words about the abyss.

"By growing used to what is dangerous, a man can easily allow it to become part of him. He is familiar with it and grows used to evil. With this he has lost the right way, and misfortune is the natural result."

The hexagram's warning is supposed to be to keep a level head during a difficult situation that has caused anger, frustration, and despair. And below is this week's Economist cover, by the way, not a Photoshopped remake.

Another source of alternative reality truth comes from 'The Grasshopper Lies Heavy' which is the inner novel/film, used within High Castle to illustrate the link back to the other world.

Philip K Dick used Ecclesiastes 12:5 as the source for the grasshopper reference : "the grasshopper shall be a burden" - the full King James version is somewhat bleak as it describes the peoples' fear of the one on high.

As I look to the 'United' States, I can't help think that there's probably another section from Ecclesiastes (10:12), which may set the alternative reality tone: The words of a wise man's mouth are gracious; but the lips of a fool will swallow up himself.

Back to the man in the golden tower. He thinks he can fly above the so-called law. He and his close followers are protected by the iconography of the little yellow and red triangle (surrounded by gold, of course). A new kind of symbol to fear, maybe? It's not as cool as my Man from UNCLE badge though.

He's changing the language. The meaning of words. Of facts. Facts. The use of repetition. Repetition. His acolytes do it too. They all do it. Use repetition.

That old marketing adage. Tell 'em what you're gonna tell 'em. Tell 'em. And then tell 'em what you told 'em. It's okay, I won't repeat it.

But it might be interesting to see the marketing in tonight's Super Bowl. How about Margaret Atwood's story of male authoritarianism The Handmaid's Tale, anyone? I somehow doubt whether Dove soap will be allowed to advertise? My favourite may well be the swirliness of Advocados from Mexico? It could even be the return worm hole portal.

In the mean time, I got to thinking. In the alternative America shown in High Castle, wouldn't the language also get changed to German? Aber warten. Hier ist es. Auf Deutsch.