Oliver Stone is like a weird version of ouroboros: not so much a serpent swallowing its own tail but rather a serpent with its head jammed up its own arse, a conspiracy theory propagandist for some of the vilest tyrants and thugs on this planet.
And I have never made any secret of the fact I regard Edward Snowden as a hero.
Therefore I am aghast to see that Oliver Stone, of all people, has made a movie about Snowden. Suffice to say I do not hold out much hope.
As linked to by two different posters at Instapundit and semi-reformed Trekkies everywhere, Paramount Pictures, in the course of a claim against the makers of a film set in the Star Trek universe, are claiming to own the copyright on the Klingon language. Thirty years ago linguist Marc Okrand was hired to take the snatches of made-up Klingon dialogue in the early Star Trek movies and flesh it out into a useable language. This he did. The idea took off and all sorts of people since then have learned Klingon to some degree for fun and intellectual stimulation.
A press release from the Language Creation Society says,
We firmly believe that conlangers should receive credit for their work. Specific works describing a conlang, such as the Klingon Dictionary, Living Language Dothraki, or Ithkuil website are creative works in their own right, entitled to full legal protection. So are works that are in a conlang, such as Klingon Hamlet, Esperanto poetry, Ithkuil music, and Verdurian stories.
However, a constructed language itself is not protected, and should not be. Copyright law is simply too blunt a tool for this.
Allowing copyright claims to a language would create a monopoly on use extending far beyond what is needed to protect the original work or to claim credit for the language’s creation. The potential threat of a lawsuit for merely using a conlang, or creating new works to make it more accessible, has a chilling effect; it makes conlangers, poets, authors, educators, and others less likely to build on and enjoy each others’ work, to the detriment of conlanging in general.
We believe that everyone has the right to use any language — including conlangs — without having to ask anyone’s permission. We hope that our participation in this lawsuit will help to make this belief into legal precedent.
Marc Randazza’s diverting amicus curiae brief on behalf of the Language Creation society is here.
I’m not going to do it. I AM NOT going to do it. I am not going to say “Qapla’!”
Except I just did. You will have deduced that I am sympathetic to one side of the case. But there is another. Property rights matter. Why should a bunch of flakes and dilettantes reap what another sowed? Why shouldn’t they pay a fee, in person or under licence, for the privilege of using Klingon just as they pay, directly or indirectly, to use a computer program? Let’s discuss this like Klingons. Which need not necessarily mean with a bat’leth.
Reports from France indicate that someone in Toulouse who went up their attic to fix a leak found an old Caravaggio worth a reputed £94,000,000 lying around.
The picture is rather grim, it shows the Jewish fighter Judith beheading Holofernes, an Assyrian general. It also seems rather close to the bone (as it were) for these times, I would ask Holofernes what he thought, but…
Sadly, the French State gets the first option on buying it.
Brexit could bring an unhappy ending for UK’s Oscar nomination bonanza
At first glance, Carol and Get Blake! do not appear to have much in common. One is an Oscar-nominated period drama about sapphic romance set in the lush interiors of upper-middle-class 1950s Manhattan, the other a French science fiction cartoon about alien squirrels. And yet both might never have been made were it not for EU funding.
But while one can just about imagine surviving without Get Blake, which was the centrepiece of a tabloid row about dreadful Europeans wasting our hard-earned British money on pointless film and TV projects in August, it is doubtful whether many right-minded Brit cineastes would be willing to dispense with Todd Haynes’s treasured drama about a love affair between Cate Blanchett’s opulent housewife and Rooney Mara’s wide-eyed department store ingenue.
If Brit cineastes would not be willing to dispense with EU-funded dramas starring Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara, that must mean that in the event of a Brexit the rest of us would have to dispense with Brit cineastes.
Sounds good. Armageddon outta here.
Aka Stealth Bomber Yacht?:
I came across this very superior yacht because it was written up and pictured up in the Daily Mail, among many other www places.
It is the work of this guy:
Long distances are achievable with reduced out-of-water drag and stormy ocean conditions would incur virtually no slamming. Improved efficiency is driven by elevated hydrofoil propulsion and would be an inherent performance benefit of this type of design.
Long distance, smooth travel through rough water at high speed: the key performance attributes of this new motor yacht design.
Yes, sadly this is only, as yet, a yacht “design”. This is a “concept yacht”.
Notions like this are why the world needs rich people. Their job is to check whether stuff like this actually works, at their own risk and at their own expense. The rest of us can then pile in and share the fun.
This thing should star in the next Bond movie, “smooth travel through rough water at high speed” being the very definition of James Bond’s world.
America is truly the land of opportunity, even multimillionaire actors can be victims deserving special treatment.
A commenter called Joshinca, commenting on this post about the Oscars, by Roger Simon.
I know this might seem a bit contrarian-for-the-hell-of-it, and I might miss out, but these days a good rule of thumb for me is that if a film has won an Oscar, then there is a more than trivial possibility that it sucks in some way. They resemble Nobel Peace prizes, almost.
The Cold War ended a quarter of a century ago. Some are forgetting about it, others are never even learning about it. Many others are deliberately forgetting about the Cold War, because it, and how it ended, made them look bad. But the Cold War needs to be remembered. What it was. What it meant. And why it was such a good thing that the good side won and that the bad side lost.
Sights like this poster, I suggest, which I managed to photograph at Pimlico tube station yesterday before the train I was awaiting blocked it from my view, might help. It is advertising a German series now running on British TV, set during the final years of the Cold War:
I have not been watching Deutschland 83. Comments from any who have would be most welcome. If such comments materialise, I would not be surprised to learn that it contains many little touches of moral equivalence, inaccuracy, and deft little claims to the effect that the winners of the Cold War won it by mistake and that the losers of the Cold War lost it on purpose. I don’t know, but fear the worst on that front. (A little googling led me to this piece, which, with its typically snearing Reagan reference, does not reassure me.)
But meanwhile, the above poster struck me yesterday and strikes me still as a breath of fresh, clean, truthful air.
I particularly like the colour contrast. I further like that Marx and Lenin get blamed for this colour contrast. I like that there is barbed wire on the bad side but none on the good side, grim and grey sky on the bad side and blue sky on the good side, privation and militarism on the bad side and an abundance of tasty food, romantic pleasure and technological inventiveness on the good side.
Perhaps the makers of this poster – and if not them than at least some of those distributing it and displaying it in this country – thought that they were being ironic rather than truthful. Perhaps some of these people think that this poster does not so much present truth as mock the truthful opinions of people like me and my fellow Samizdatistas, for being “simplistic”. If so, to hell with such anti-anti-communist imbeciles. I prefer the truth about the Cold War and I rejoice that this poster proclaims that truth, especially to people who may not now be aware of it.
It was one of the most emotional performances I’ve ever done. I was in tears. They’d backed up the stage to the wall itself so that the wall was acting as our backdrop. We kind of heard that a few of the East Berliners might actually get the chance to hear the thing, but we didn’t realize in what numbers they would. And there were thousands on the other side that had come close to the wall. So it was like a double concert where the wall was the division. And we would hear them cheering and singing along from the other side. God, even now I get choked up. It was breaking my heart. I’d never done anything like that in my life, and I guess I never will again. When we did “Heroes” it really felt anthemic, almost like a prayer. However well we do it these days, it’s almost like walking through it compared to that night, because it meant so much more.
– David Bowie, describing a concert he gave in Berlin, 1987.
Interesting take from Reason magazine.
RIP. He will be greatly missed and his influence on music has been undeniable.
The BBC reports:
Arts body Creative Scotland has defended giving an artist £15,000 to spend a year without leaving Glasgow.
Ellie Harrison’s project is called the Glasgow Effect – a term relating to poor health in parts of the city.
The artist said she wanted to explore sustainability by travelling less and focusing more on local opportunities.
Critics on social media have described it as a waste of money but Creative Scotland said Harrison’s strong proposal had qualified for funding.
On a web page explaining the project, Harrison states: “The Glasgow Effect is year long action research project / durational performance, for which artist Ellie Harrison will not travel outside Greater Glasgow for a whole year (except in the event of the ill-heath / death of close relative or friend).
“By setting this one simple restriction to her current lifestyle, she intends to test the limits of a ‘sustainable practice’ and to challenge the demand-to-travel placed upon the ‘successful’ artist / academic.”
The Independent tells us that,
“The experiment will enable her to cut her carbon footprint and increase her sense of belonging, by encouraging her to seek out and create ‘local opportunities’ – testing what becomes possible when she invests all her ideas, time and energy within the city where she lives.”
Responses to the artwork have been mixed. Some Glaswegians have been offended at the idea that their city is evidently considered to be what the Diplomatic Service calls a “hardship posting”, a place that one must be paid extra to endure. Unkind residents of Edinburgh have said that for a year in Glesca, £15,000 isn’t nearly enough. I do think that the extra fifteen grand will make the restriction of Ms Harrison’s current lifestyle a little easier to bear. Unlike the majority of those citizens of Glasgow paid by the State simply for existing within its boundaries, Ms Harrison is free to augment her dole by continuing to work as “‘successful’ artist/academic”, and no need for the scare quotes round “successful”, either. She has done better than most artists in that she has been successful in getting someone to pay handsomely for her stuff (albeit not with their own money), namely the Scottish Government. Of course her finding a patron was probably made easier by the fact that, like herself, those who approved her grant application were part of the famously close-knit Scottish arts community. There is a rather different class of Glaswegian who has to work forty hours a week for a total level of remuneration often not that much different than the top-up Ms Harrison gets to fight off the people simply demanding that she come and bestow her art upon them. According to the Scotsman and the International Business Times, some of these benighted Weegies have been kicking up a fuss at having to pay for all this. You’d think they would be grateful that someone was taking an interest in them. Philistines.
By the way, you all knew that David Thompson would be making his own artistic response to this, didn’t you?
Finally, here are some of Ms Harrison’s own words from her grant application which she has kindly posted online:
Since then, I have developed an actively self-reflexive practice, which is as much concerned with analysing and exposing the motivations, processes and ethics of making art, as it is with the individual projects that I produce (see examples in attached Supporting Material). Whilst studying, I began to notice the environmental impact of my practice, becoming the first individual artist to launch an Environmental Policy. Published on my website in 2010, the policy summarises the action I currently take to reduce my carbon footprint and holds future decisions to account.
Was it tough going cold turkey? Have you still not finished the cold turkey? To lighten the post-festivities hangover, may I suggest a little helping of the traditional New Year’s activity of passionate argument about trivia.
Which examples of factual inaccuracy in films annoyed you the most? And which film inaccuracies do you think were best justified by the requirements of runtime, drama or adherence to the Rule of Cool?
I welcome discussion of inaccuracies in the cinematic portrayal of history, of scientific and technical matters, of law, of war, and of common procedure in various types of human activity. However, restrain yourselves if possible from simply listing deviations from truth that merely arise from ignorance. A more interesting case for good or evil is those compressions, negations and exaggerations that were the deliberate choices of the filmmakers.
A somewhat-related post touching on some of the results of filmic inaccuracies is here.
Last night I attended the final gig in Frank Turner’s current tour for his excellent new album Positive Songs for Negative People. The gig was packed and full of people dancing and singing as loud as they could. It was an unexpected great experience. It was a sort of home coming for him after a long tour and busy few years.
Frank is a self-styled classical liberal and I started to have a look back at the posts from Brian back in 2014. It struck me that Brian picks up on something that said back then, “he is the living embodiment of the above notions”. He isn’t political and shouldn’t be held up as a god for libertarians, but he does what we all probably do – go about living our lives, being passionate about what we do, caring for friends and those who need help and not apologising for our views. In essence, we need to remember that in these turbulent days we need to do the one thing that we can do to change the world. That is we need to live as best we can by living in what we believe in. And for that reason going to his gig so soon after the Bataclan was probably one the best things that I could do as a music fan.
As someone who used to work in the music industry in London I’m surprised that we never met in the middle of all the industry people, talented musicians and amagi tattoos. As he is my neighbour in Islington, I invite him to have a drink and get to know a few of crazy classical liberals.
Bond is driven by a lust for life — for adventure, for sleek luxury cars, for truffles and foie gras and martinis, and yes, for beautiful women. He is certainly out of place in our age of Neo-Puritanism. He probably eats processed meat, the scoundrel.
But this is not mere gluttony. Bond is a man of refined and expensive tastes. He manages to be both aggressively virile and suave and sophisticated. He’s a stone-cold killer in a tuxedo. The guy with the British accent and tailored suit is usually the villain.
That’s something that is missing from today’s movies, or rather something that has come to be associated with villains in American films. We’ve got plenty of knockaround blue-collar heroes (a Bruce Willis specialty) or wisecracking rule-breakers (the space now being filled by Chris Pratt). But the guy with the plummy British accent and the perfectly tailored suit? He’s usually the villain. Maybe this is the leftover reflex of a country founded in a rebellion against British aristocracy. When we see someone with the markers of aristocracy — fine clothes, expensive tastes, a posh accent — we instinctively distrust him.
– Robert Tracinski
By the way, his analysis of why Daniel Craig hasn’t quite got the part down perfectly is very true. He tries too hard at the gritty realism and “I’m the tortoured soul” angle, which I suspect has a touch of PC “we are all victims of our environment/genes” point of view . That’s not what Ian Fleming, a complex character himself, created.
Of course, one thing that genuine liberals will point out is that 007 is a government agent. But leave aside the ideological correctness for a bit (libertarians can be as big a pain in the butt about this as any socialist): the author of the quotes above absolutely nails why people like the James Bond character, quite as much as why social justice warriors and others don’t. He’s been attacked by the puritan left almost from the year when Fleming started bashing out his lines in his Jamaica home. Long may James Bond continue to give such folk a headache.
Right, I am in deepest Dubai, and heading off for an event which involves dressing in a tuxedo.