Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our greatest fear is that we are more powerful than we can imagine.

Archive for July, 2012

The Batman shootings in Denver: a review

Back when I use to debate on facebook, to the extent where I gave up hitting my head against a brick wall, I got into an argument concerning The ‘Batman’ shootings, by James Holmes, in Denver. The main basis of this argument is a person had posted a joke about it and, as a result this sparked various heated debates. Many of the people arguing against the status update argued that due to the 10 people dead, including a child and many wounded, we should feel no empathy for the person in question, mainly because of the act which was committed. Eventually the argument accustomed to between myself, and everyone else, and it was weird to see that, out of this argument, no one was willing to accept a wider context, or take it into account, when analysing the shootings. Of course, this hasn’t been the first shootings that have happened in America. There have been countless accounts of disenfranchised, or socially inept, students gunning down other students in high schools, or of students committing suicide for bullying, persecution of beliefs, sexual orientation etc or people who have generally had psychological conditions. However, what strikes me the most is the way the killings are dealt with and it seems immediately a person or organisation, whether the media, the parents or witnesses, will give an accusation towards the opposite party; without so much as a realisation at what is occurring in the process: out of ignorance or experience of the moment. Of course, it is hard to hold any thought process whatsoever when you have been a gun victim of the person, or you are the parent, or you are an outraged republican at the moral fabric of the example. However this does not mean we cannot put aside our individual perceptions and analyse the state of affairs which exists at the time, something I will be analysing in this blog.

Now what does the killings reflect in the Batman shootings? That there was a university student who, armed with the proper equipment and weapons, had entered a cinema, and, using gas canisters, disorientated an audience before opening fire on them (though some of this is questioned, based on the witnesses testimonies or conditions, though I will not into detail about this, neither will I be a conspirator). What this shows is not only did the person know what he was doing but obviously the person had a constant amount of time and preparation in order to ready himself, to commit the operation. It seems absurd to think how a university student can be skilled in firing a weapon with military efficiency; however the point is that if this was prepared, it would have covered a process which would have taken a very long period of time. James Holmes, in court, confirmed responsibility for the acts he did. But if it is true he did so, many of the skills, equipment and planning would have indeed needed much time. We are talking about weapon training and maintaining; the making of very high level military grade explosives, an expert skill in marksmanship, skills in laying traps in a domestic environments and finally the skill of concealing a weapon in a public area. Though these sound relatively easy, based on testimonies of people from the army that I know, they aren’t. These require constant profession training and refining of skill. So what does this tell you? It tells you that this case, and similar cases, has consisted of a long term context, something which is expressed by long term factors. In many of these cases, people don’t just decide to shoot a school or a cinema, it occurs within a certain period of time to which the person has gained a certain understanding of the world around him; relative to his state of affairs. This signifies a long psychological process in which the person has developed which can be social, domestic or internal: in other words the causes for such can be what have been mentioned.

A huge testimony to this can be seen by the role of the media and the so called ‘media or social crises’ which takes place, whereby an event recorded by the media is disproportionally exaggerated and results in both generalising and an agenda which is set forth by the public, and the police. Most of the time this is both un-necessary and does more harm than good. Why does it matter? because not only does it contribute to people developing certain perceptions of the acts taking place, but it begins to deal with short term solutions rather than long term problems which, if solved, would result in less short term problems, such as the shootings. It also matters because it illustrates the role of the media in greater detail. In the media, especially within the news, constant testimony has been given by psychiatrists, such as Dr Park Dietz, that reporting the crime, within the mass media, merely reduces the crime to something of a drama and results in the mass murder, or suicide victim being publicised; something which should be stride to be prevented. The reason is because it propagates more mass murders and suicides by advertising them: displaying sirens; showing the picture of the person or victim; constantly making it 24/7 news coverage; making the body count the lead story; making the person an ‘anti-hero’ and mass advertising the act rather than making it relative to the location, and community, where it has taken place; as well as portraying it as exciting. These various aspects are very important. Most killings and suicides conducted, in most cases, are an indicator of attention as they signal either a cry for attention or help which, in this context, is performed dramatically through external means e.g. so every can see it being done. This not only provides the stimulus and motivation for other people, in similar cases, to commit similar acts but also means that if these events are massly advertised, they provide a means of creating an outlook that will be witnessed by various people.

As can be seen, this is a much larger part of a greater social context. Now to just point the finger and blame someone or something is foolhardy: as I’ve said before it only results in un-productive results. Nevertheless there’s nothing wrong with analysing the situation and then forming an opinion about how the situation is dealt with, or who is entirely responsible. My opinion would be this: that the results of this is the product of both a long history of how society has organised and structured itself (industrial and post industrial, mainly within the Western hemisphere of the world e.g. The united states, Britain, France, Germany, Japan etc) and the way that has resulted in an entirely different conception in the way things are dealt with, or excluded. A very good example that comes to mind is the Batman shootings. The thing which comes to mind is the fact it was, possibly, an advertisement of the person and that the person had various psychological and long term problems: as most suicide victims or high school actors of shootings have demonstrated. Okay, let me simplify my point: these acts are the result in which society has been shaped and formed which results in certain patterns, or generalisations, of consequences.

A very good example can be the start of industrialisation. Economics dictates that within the industrial period, the cohesion of the countryside and the increase in urbanisation meant more people from rural environments migrated to cities. This signals a complete change in lifestyle, patterns, moral and social boundaries etc. It also signals the means in which the person expresses themselves or the locations where the person can express themselves. For example, increasing urbanisation results in a greater population, closer and more cramped living conditions, a lack of relation to the people around you etc, which can further lead to depression, anxiety a sense of laziness or worthlessness etc. As a result, society has needed to develop institutions to deal with these problems: stretching from taverns and pubs, to counselling and group therapy sessions. As is observed, these do not take a solid shape or form but merely illustrate that people start to act in a certain way, and society counters these with places and institutions to deal with these problems (if they are problems). However, though these various things have sprung up, they depend of many factors e.g. trust, finance, content etc. As a result, though some institutions may help, if they don’t get enough finance, or aren’t seen as to be taken for granted by the population, they decrease in their overall awareness. This provides a perfect commentary on the Denver shootings. Questions which can be asked are why weren’t measure taken to prevent events like these from happening? Why was it that the person came to the situation where they perceived the shootings to be appropriate? Why weren’t the problems addressed in an earlier stage to prevent acts like this from happening? With questions like these, all I can really emphasise is social welfare which implies either: there is a lack of care and consideration for the people, or for people in general, which leads to acts like these, or there is a lack of funding to support the people who do. In my opinion, I think it’s a bit of both, depending on how you analyse. However, with the economic and social state of America, coinciding with gender and ethnic constructions; narrow traditions and simple minded views of human welfare, and a lack of funding and empathy for social welfare; it’s no wonder events like these happen as a means of displaying a reality or condition.

My main point is that if you were to provide a solution to problems like this, you have to analyse the wider context of why events like these happen. It also means that a solution isn’t simple. My solution would be a better financing, and funding, of social welfare as well as a re-conceptualisation of events such as these, as well as the education of this from a younger age. This would result in the changing of perception, which would result in the changing of certain lifestyle and thus it would prevent more of these events occurring. However, that’s just my opinion.

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My time has passed

And none too soon I came to sleep
My time has passed like the fragile wreath.

No time spent sooner in this life
then when water falls in the distant strife.

Though one may feel young and quiet, the passing of time,
When he was vibrant.

To witness passing that seemed too long,
To feel so old though I was always young.

So now I slumber and never awake hard

When I realise that my time has passed.

An exotic temperment

From light to dust, proverbs of a forefathers alley

The placid man returning home to the deep reaches of desolate and monotone equity.

To the rich man, what beat is the one which moves mountains?

Rather than, what rekindles the sunrise to favour the meek?

An individual can shift essence from stars yet the group draft choices closest to the surface.

And so, in this, the wicker or the carpenter or even the lame can bring compromised promenades of harmony from the dust of golden brown.

And in this immortal and infinite perspective;

I find peace where Kibera lay.

Faded of antiquity

A beauty has profounded you, in which the smallest pettle has shredded a thousand roses.

Of the breasted bird, a thousand creeds are given, of purple and gold robes; from the valleys of narlwood and rockcrete, groomed and plumped from the eyes of Constantinople’s beauty.

The shimmer of the valiant chivalry stands at a crossing point, the ayia of dignities. Whether we must pursue the value of the lusted, or the honourable bronze plate,

Silent and preserve as it has been, only to be awaken when unlingered of harmony. The harp of Eros.

For what is of worth, if worth itself has no value? If all becomes necessities and all necessities become granted?
The slither of un-dying precept, from the vanity of a king.

Here on this pain of the ford, my wishes are given, even if it means the sweetest of dreams lost; the eternal cosmos of your undying presumption is where I find peace.

The forgotten statue

As a veil of darkness flows itself over the hive,

The twinkle of lights keeps the glowing alive

Ancient songs of sadness occur in the dark secluded valleys

If one doth nothing but talk of the kind, what be of him?

For only the stature of such a lost product, shows its immortality and its perfection.

The creed given by society strings me to the wall and nails my hands and feet.

Not like the solid heel made of stone, old ones they might be, but a soul, there is no other.

Not a tilt of balance to upset the course of affection.

Dark faces linger in the cornerstones of this palace of tightstone.

What has modern age become of us?

To acquire knowledge that cannot fit like a puzzle, but deteriorates like the opinion it has.

Oh great purity, her physique orderly and her beauty unmatched

What do you make of a modern man like me?

Shrouded in the depths of deceit. For a stone, a knife, a bomb.

May the grey perish my garments and the darkness render me bare, but forever more, I shall breathe the eternal laxity which spawns a lifetime of life.

Ones pay for he’s pauperism is not taken likely.

The code of honour and conduct being his own, lifts himself to his feet and strides at the innocent figure lurking over him.

Like almost a fiendish spirit had covered these streets with the likely who follow relativism.

Still a stone in his heart, he waits for his time to proceed to reality,

Where he once was.

The olympic opening ceremony 2012: a review

The Olympics, within Britain has effected a variety of people in opinion, perception, social and cultural consciousness etc. I mean, as I have talked to various people about it, it seems that many have stated their own opinions as to why the Olympics, within Britain are either valid, or non-valid, and most, for most of the time, have made sense. However, there is a fine line between supporting a national event, such as this; criticising it, for various reasons and not saying anything for convenience and in a way this isn’t surprising. The British tradition, of being reserved, has long affected us and our attitudes towards social, political and economic changes and this has, as a result, reflected our outlook as being docile or fairly organised in everything we do: whether it’s queuing up at the post office, or protesting (though I would question whether the act would be protesting in the first place if nothing ever gets done).

Nevertheless, let’s not focus on British behaviour and instead focus on the Olympics, though I think the previous factor reflects a key point: about how we deal with the reality of the situation and that, in turn, effects how events are acted out in general. Now this can be said more about the Olympics, because the major sporting event, which was chosen in Britain holds so much commentary about our society, and all the negative aspects, that it has become an obligation to show these. This is because it seems either people lack any insight whatsoever on the subject or can’t seem to observe a wider context within Britain (this applying to British people of course). It’s like people receive all this cynicism on a daily basis and people seem to accept things and take them for granted, as if they are docile; or seem to justify a reason for why it’s happening. Nevertheless, let’s not let ranting stop me from illustrating the point that people have perceived the Olympics to be something special when, on the other hand, it has been something which manages to show how, not only were we not prepared economically and socially for the Olympics but it has systematically resulted in a questioning of things, such as British national identity, or the economy, which have been either mis-understood, or simply a means in which to express political ideology. This is why I think the Olympics is a good example when illustrating this point. Anyway, let’s begin:

Firstly, let me provide some context about the Olympics- actually, let me not. If you’re old enough to read this and you don’t know what the Olympics is, read a book, or actually google it, it’s a lot easier. Now, the main problem I have with it is we were in no economic or social state to host these Olympics. Altogether, the event cost about £12 million (a rough estimate) and this sucks: firstly because we’re in a recession and secondly because that money could have been used effectively elsewhere. This coincides with the fact we’re still at war after 10 years and there’s so many complaints about economic cuts in the military and social sectors. £12 Billion: You have more money than god, yet not as nearly as much common sense. The problem with this is it illustrates that we’re wasting vast sums of money on purposes of prestige rather than utilising the money for any practical means (Oh I don’t know, stuff like fixing the economy; financing and investing in areas that are needed such as social projects or institutions; creating better and more effective regulations of large financial industries; financing the military; gaining a better foothold on white collar crime, investment in the police and institutions such as transport….but that’s just my opinion). The problem with this is it displays the intention of government and large financial institutions, to say that this will bring more income in than spent and that all the money invested will not go to waste, points I strongly disagree with. If you are going to invest money in something long term and worthwhile, please refrain from destroying half of the Olympic village after the event has occurred (since most of the buildings will be destroyed afterwards): there’s plenty of people and organisations which could use the facilities for social, athletic and economic development and, by destroying it, you’re implying most of the money invested has been done in vain.

Now these are valid reasons to not host of the Olympics, but it was the opening ceremony which really pissed me off. It was something which resulted in both myself and my parents screaming at the T.V. shouting “when? When will this end?”. The reason why it was such a hard ache, as well as a major cause of anguish is because not only did it lack any imagination whatsoever but also it failed to properly express the significance of both British culture and it’s aspects to the rest of world: mainly because of both sensitivity and political correctness. A key to a performance is either an intention or to prove a point, one which has a lack of modesty: hence why Greece and China did very well in their opening ceremonies, because they managed to properly express their significance of their culture on history and in the world today (via the quality of the performance). People may argue that this is bias but, let me break the ice for you, nationality and ethnicity are both constructions which date back to the time of the French revolution: they depend on constructing an identity which unites people of linguistic and geographical similarity: this is what those countries succeeded in illustrating. Britain failed in this, mainly because of its planning and performance. It was like the organisers for the Olympics got together, threw some simple minded concepts around and attempted to dissect them as not to offend anyone: resulting in a similar result to the Olympic mascots: a lack of coherent performance as well as both originality and imagination. I mean, have you not seen the Olympic symbol? Or the mascots? It’s as if a child had created it, and that cost us £700,000 to make something which looks like a constipated telly tubby. It’s as if the organisers have just thrown money at the situation and hoped that a solution could be found.

Now how does this relate to the opening Olympic ceremony? Because, with a country that has such as vast history, wealth of knowledge, scholars, historians, economists, theologists, philosophers and musicians, it failed to show the majority of these and proved to be incredibly patronising; however I will be talking about this later. The major flaw of the opening ceremony was, as many had witnessed, the history. I don’t think I’ve seen more mistakes than the grammatical, and punctuation, errors of the twilight series. The ceremony gave a main focus point; being the industrial revolution, however it horribly portrayed this event because it pre-assumed that Brtian was a pleasant, harmonious, countryside then, BOOM, industry existed. Now you may argue this is simply knit picking but, if you actually saw the way the introduction was organised, it looked like something out of the Lord of the Rings (and, for the record, portraying the countryside as a happy harmonious place before industrialisation does not make it so). The most patronising thing about it was it tried to portray the industrial revelation as something peaceful co-operative. Now I know, especially with national events, history can be portrayed positively, and even at times be fabricated, however this was on another level; the amount of fabrication was monumental to the point where I began questioning every single aspect about it (and this included every other single historical event being portrayed). If you are going to talk about British history, you need to be very general, especially in the amount of time it took to act everything out, but the event took specific cases and attempted to portray them; to the point where it excluded a large portion of its history. Yes, the industrial revolution was very important but it was under-represented and Brunel (a major industrialist and over-seer of the construction of the London docklands during the 19th century) was not an adequate representation. That is the point I’m making about a lack of variety. There were plenty of scholars which could have best represented the industrial revolution, or even the entity of Britain itself. And before anyone asks, there’s loads of them, some names being:

J.S. Mills, Jeremy Bentham, Andrew Fletcher, Daniel Defoe, Oliver Cromwell, William Shakespeare, Disraeli, Gladstone, etc etc

These are only a small minority of a much larger spectrum. And this didn’t only effect the variety of historical figures, other can include a lack of costume variety, which seemed to be either working industrialist or worker, coinciding with some of the costumes which were very minimal, which reflected how minimal some parts were. I know the event doesn’t have to be historically accurate, but at least show most events Britain went through. There’s such a variety of history we have a good example being the fucking Empire we use to own, historical eras such as that may be harsh but they are a part of history, you can’t just exclude them so you don’t offend other people: that’s the point. Other examples can be Waterloo, the opening of crystal palace, Victoria’s diamond jubilee, a better representation of the first and second world wars etc. These would also include negative aspects; I for one was still waiting for them to represent the Irish potato famine through the expression of rhythmic gymnastics (either that or the bayoneting of 300 different ethnic children to the same thing). And, for the record, the industrial revolution wasn’t an easy process: it was built on the lives of thousands of un-paid workers, child workers, slavery and disintegrating other economies, such as that of British held India, whose agriculture was destroyed because of British industrialists who wanted to enforce their economic ways of understanding the world: causing mass famine. If anything the industrial revolution was one based on conflict and economic hegemony rather than harmony and co-operation (something the opening ceremony tried to portray). The first and Second World wars were foreign policy wars of 19th century politics. Now, with this information, people may argue “well, it’s only a ceremony, what does it have to do with anything today?”. Well, if we to fabricate these parts of history and leave them out, what limit is there to how much we will fabricate in the future? as not to be honest?. History doesn’t hold a perspective, it’s a series of events that occur in the past, you might as well embrace those events and embrace the fact they occurred in Britain, rather than try to deny them.

Another aspect that I was surprised they didn’t display as the military as Britain has a long history of military tradition but that was just me. They did give remembrance but other than that, events such as that, if you are going to attempt them, deserve full military honours and outlook, however this is mostly my opinion.

With reference to everything else which happened, other than the scene with Rowan Atkinson and the Queen, everything else was terrible. The reason why the specific events I’ve mentioned were highly successful was because they played to the strengths of the opening ceremony: they portrayed key British national figures which a coherent purpose, something all the other scenes lacked, or portrayed trivially. The other events seemed to merely trivialise parts of British history in the 20th century, spontaneously coming up with random un- representational segments: only to end it with a really patronising scene to the youth and parents of Britain, that scene with the teenager who loses her mobile phone, which turns into a love story.

If I am going to analyse the scenes, let me use specific examples. The first I can give was the Beetles, and the costumes from the album ‘St Pepper’. The reason why this pissed me off so much was because it merely summarised all the Beetle’s achievements and made them worthless. That amount of time to show one of the most influential British bands on the music industry that have ever existed is foolhardy and is something which was not properly addressed; mainly because their career stretched after the 60’s for another 15 years. It merely reduces the importance of some major influences in British history to trivial ones (such a fucking important love story concerning a phone). This basically repeats itself for the next series of events: some being very un-historical to suit political correctness. For example, the suffragette movement was portrayed but only for a short amount of time and there was a representation of the ‘Jarrow crusade’ in which the first Caribbean immigrants landed on British shores seeking employment and a better quality of life. However, if we are going to talk about immigration, we need to look at the full context. The first immigrants were Jewish people in the 50’s, followed by the Irish, followed by the Greek and Turkish Cypriots, in a similar period of time, and then the Carribbean immigrants arrived in large numbers, which was in the late 1960’s and 1970’s, which was then followed by Pakistanis and Bangladeshis. Though Caribbean immigrants were the first to arrive in 1948, they were in a minority and, by then, there were many Irish and Jewish immigrants who had already arrived. Is this not an under-representation of immigration in Britain? One of the main reasons for immigration was the fact many British did not want to the do the jobs that many working class had done before, so those who replace them were of all different ethnicities. Are we to forget them as well because Stratford happens to consist of a large Caribbean community? This is what I’m talking about; you can’t just exclude history for the sake of political correctness or over-sensitivity.

Another example is the great Ormond street hospital. As much as I respect what Great Ormond street do (and I do….a lot), I don’t think it was as important as, say, the NHS which, though was shown, was overtaken by it. Things such as the NHS I would say are better in events like the Olympic ceremony because they were national icons of Britain and contribute to what makes Britain famous today, I don’t think Great Ormond street hospital has this specific expectation and I don’t think it’s historical significance is as well known to the rest of the world. Also, if we are going to represent this, why not other medical institutions such as cancer research UK, another huge contributor to cancer research for children which has a huge amount of investment and donations?. Also most of the scenes were hugely inconsistent. With the Great Ormond street example, I managed to forget half way through that it was about Great Ormond street, not because of the children (though many did lack acting skills) but because the scene was so saturated and non-continental. It just consisted of loads of children characters, and though I do realise the impact of children’s books from Great Ormond street, these characters were hardly recognisable and were not done in any specific order to make it easier. That was one other main flaw of the ceremony: nothing was done chronologically and when it was done so, it was either ambiguous or very generalised. The key to an opening ceremony is to act things out in a clear and cohesive order so people can understand what’s going on. If you just throw things in, without thinking of their significance, then things becomes very confusing, and there’s nothing worse than trying to figure out whether the characters are from books, or they’re monsters trying to kidnap children.

Another example can be music aspect, which was heavily over-rated and heavily under-acted. Though there were parts such as the punker scene to represent the 70’s and 80’s, this seemed like the only type of music which was represented for the time (others being metal) and others were done randomly, making the process a whole lot more complicated (processes don’t need to be complicated!). Also, I don’t know if it was me, but some songs that were played weren’t British, such as in different segments with the scene of the main house. However, if we are going to talk about British music, there was so much to be desired. Where were the rolling stones? The who? Deep purple? The Zombies? Black Sabbath? The streets? UB40? The sex pistols? The spice girls? These are some examples of great British bands which became very well known for being British and yet were never mentioned. Most of the bands were unknown, such as underground, and some were terrible singers, such as Emeli Sande, whose song ‘abide with me’ which was both bland, repetitive and monotone. It’s such as shame that there was such a potential for a variety of music, which could have been good, but wasn’t.

Nevertheless, out of all this, what pissed me off the most was the last scene. The scene where a girl, whose gone clubbing and seems to have a superficial outlook on life, loses her phone and a boy, who happens to be in lvoe with her, tries to return it to her. This includes him following her, to the un-organised choreography of dancers, to the point where he finds her and returns the phone. This is done to music which half the audience would have probably not recognised or didn’t want to hear: Dizzie Rascal (not everyone likes grime and rap, and this is coming from someone who likes them). What was the most annoying point about the scene was the fact the male finds the phone and proceeds to text the girl that he has her phone……on her own phone? People argue this is social networking, sure didn’t look like social networking. The point is this scene was completely wasteful, over-generalising and proceeded to stereotype British pop-culture. This also includes the middle class working mum who has a kid and just happens t leave him outside.

My final point will be Danny Boyle. As much as I respected him, he contributed to probably the most important flaw which was profession. In situations of organising an Olympic ceremony, you get organisers, from different backgrounds and cultures to do the profession, not a single person. This means that there is a lack of variety and imagination in terms of thought and everything is spontaneous: a very good summery of the 2012 opening Olympic ceremony. However, if we had what I have suggested, which has been a method used for the past Olympic opening ceremonies, then it would have been more exciting, thrilling and purposeful. This coincides with Danny Boyle’s occupation which is a director, something which is completely different and something which holds, and emphasises, different aspects of media.

In conclusion, this event in my opinion was bland, often spontaneous and something which was a failure. I think people only liked it because either they lacked any sufficient knowledge of what was going on or they can’t be asked to complain about it: even though we’ve wasted billions on something that could have been potentially better, or could have been better spent elsewhere. In essence, you’re better off beaten dead puppies against a brick wall. At least that would have had taste and imagination.

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