BIG BROTHER really is ……

Just an horrific episode of Black Mirror or the real world we find ourselves in???????

Imagine a world where many of your daily activities were constantly monitored and evaluated: what you buy at the shops and online; where you are at any given time; who your friends are and how you interact with them; how many hours you spend watching content or playing video games; and what bills and taxes you pay (or not). It’s not hard to picture, because most of that already happens, thanks to all those data-collecting behemoths like Google, Facebook and Instagram or health-tracking apps such as Fitbit. But now imagine a system where all these behaviours are rated as either positive or negative and distilled into a single number, according to rules set by the government. That would create your Citizen Score and it would tell everyone whether or not you were trustworthy. Plus, your rating would be publicly ranked against that of the entire population and used to determine your eligibility for a mortgage or a job, where your children can go to school – or even just your chances of getting a date.

A futuristic vision of Big Brother out of control? No, it’s already getting underway in China, where the government is developing the Social Credit System (SCS) to rate the trustworthiness of its 1.3 billion citizens. The Chinese government is pitching the system as a desirable way to measure and enhance “trust” nationwide and to build a culture of “sincerity”. As the policy states, “It will forge a public opinion environment where keeping trust is glorious. It will strengthen sincerity in government affairs, commercial sincerity, social sincerity and the construction of judicial credibility.”

Others are less sanguine about its wider purpose. “It is very ambitious in both depth and scope, including scrutinising individual behaviour and what books people are reading. It’s Amazon’s consumer tracking with an Orwellian political twist,” is how Johan Lagerkvist, a Chinese internet specialist at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, described the social credit system. Rogier Creemers, a post-doctoral scholar specialising in Chinese law and governance at the Van Vollenhoven Institute at Leiden University, who published a comprehensive translation of the plan, compared it to “Yelp reviews with the nanny state watching over your shoulder”.

For now, technically, participating in China’s Citizen Scores is voluntary. But by 2020 it will be mandatory. The behaviour of every single citizen and legal person (which includes every company or other entity)in China will be rated and ranked, whether they like it or not.

Snowflakes at Columbine

As the world begins to move on from the most recent shooting in a USA school one thing is clear – the horror of guns is not going away from American High Schools anytime soon. There are 17 year olds joining the armed forces because they feel safer than high school. There are children affraid to go to school. Parents asking if there are guns in the house of possible sleep overs their kids may attend – and to all this the President;s solution to horrific gun crime is ….. more guns!!!!

In his first comment Trump didn’t mention guns but rather referred to mental illness. It is strange therefore that he supports self certification of no mental health issues to people looking to buy guns. There was a recent documentary where a big 13 year old boy with fake ID tried to buy alcohol and was turned down, then tried to buy cigarettes and was again turned down – but when he tried to buy a gun – he walked out of the door with his own weapon of war.

The President wants to arm teachers as the best method of fighting gun crime in schools and calls those opposed to wide gun access “Snowflakes”.

Well I am calling for an avalanche of snowflakes. Protest is the only thing to change this man’s mind. All sane people in America and around the world must join together and say that the solution to gun crime cannot ever be more guns!!!!

War for the Planet of the Apes

Sometimes, reboots can be a good thing. Such is the case with one of modern cinema’s most unexpectedly rich and rewarding (and unique) blockbuster franchises, the effectively rejiggered “Planet of the Apes,” which used the bones of a beloved classic to craft a series that continually stands out on its own merits. Three movies in, and the Fox franchise has become a thinking-fans summer movie delight, bolstered by eye-popping special effects and a reworked mythology that pays homage to the originals while pushing onward.

With last week’s “War for the Planet of the Apes” opening at the number one spot at the box office amidst a slew of stellar reviews, it’s only understandable that fans are eager for more adventures within the world. And while the third film in the trilogy could easily function as the final chapter in the story, there’s plenty more to tell. Here’s how.

1. The Start of a New Trilogy

While “War” and the two films that preceded it were knowingly crafted as a trilogy — a point that producer Peter Chernin clarified to Den of Geek earlier this year, explaining, “We made a very conscious decision frankly, when we started thinking about this seven or eight years ago, to look at these three movies as a trilogy in a lot of ways…We’ve always looked at this as a three-part story” — that doesn’t mean there’s not plenty more to mine of the series.

In fact, director Matt Reeves has long expressed his wish for the films to meet up with the original series of films, which first hit theaters in 1968. And while “War” leaves the apes with a big, bright new future to explore and build, our final glimpse at them is a far cry from the advanced civilization that’s portrayed in the first franchise. In Franklin J. Schaffner’s film, all apes have evolved enough that they both act and speak like humans, while humans have been reduced to mute slaves. Also of note? When Charlton Heston’s Taylor first arrives on the ape planet, he dates the current year as being 3978. That’s a big gap.

Back in 2014, Reeves told JoBlo about his overall vision for the future of his franchise, which would ultimately see the series meeting in the middle. “To me the idea is that the 1968 films stands as trajectory,” he said. “There is a huge distance to cover between here and there that is all about Caesar and future generations, and how this world has transformed into that world, and the struggle that they’ll have to go through and how we create the world that we know from that.”

Moreover, Reeves has been clear that he’s not interested in remaking the original film, though he has hinted at his desire to explore the story with from a new perspective. As he told JoBlo, “The idea would never be to remake the ’68 film…So if, and when, we ever get there, which I think is an exciting notion, it would definitely not be a remake but it would be sort of a re-telling of those events from a new perspective. And the events themselves would probably be a bit different since they will have grown out of these films.”

With so much ground to cover between “War” apes and original “Apes,” the franchise could easily spin out into at least another trilogy, aided by the introduction of new characters, new conflicts, and perhaps even a new director.

2. A New Director

Reeves’ affection for the franchise is clear, but now that the helmer has been tapped to direct “The Batman,” it’s unlikely he’ll be able to return to the franchise soon (if ever). That opens up the series to the possibility that a new director could take over and continue on with the story, much like Reeves himself did after Rupert Wyatt kickstarted the series with his “Rise of the Planet of the Apes.”

This take on the “Apes” mythos offers up a rarity for filmmakers who are inclined to blockbuster filmmaking, big action rooted in bigger emotion, tons of mythology to wade through, with compelling technology and effects work topping off a deeply appealing mix.

Some filmmakers who could take “Apes” and run with it? Alex Garland, who made huge waves with his sci-fi thriller “Ex Machina” (and has reportedly done something similar with the much larger-scale “Annihilation”), or even Jeff Nichols, who has always excelled at grounding big ideas inside terrifying and tricky packages (from his “Take Shelter” to “Midnight Special”). Ava DuVernay has reportedly made something very special — dare we say “visionary”? — with her upcoming “A Wrinkle in Time,” which could set her off on a new path towards more sci-fi-leaning features. Cary Fukunaga is aces at mythology and narrative design (just look at his work on “True Detective”) and he’s consistently compelled by the limits of the human condition (from “Jane Eyre” to “Beasts of No Nation” — now that’s range). Mimi Leder long ago proved her blockbuster chops with “Deep Impact,” but she’s recently honed her skills at crafting (and honouring) huge stories and complex characters with her work on “The Leftovers.”

3. More Characters to Explore

The franchise has long been anchored by the performance of Andy Serkis has Caesar, rising from whip-smart lab experiment to leader of the free world in just three films, and while “War” ends with his demise, the series itself isn’t dead. As Reeves told Screen Rant earlier this month, although Caesar has been the lead character throughout the trilogy, the franchise can solider on without him.

“We think of [Caesar] being the seminal figure in ape history like Moses but as the idea, that tapestry, extends outward, there are all kinds of new characters in this story that you could absolutely follow,” he said. “It’s really about this trajectory that all of the apes are on, that all of the characters are on, and have been very intentionally centred around Caesar, but the universe is meant to be larger than just him as well.”

“War” closes out with Caesar’s death, but it leaves the door open for his young son Cornelius (played by Devyn Dalton) to take over the tribe, a young ape who surely has plenty of adventures ahead of him. The film also introduces us to new characters like Steve Zahn’s Bad Ape, Sara Canning’s ape Lake, and Amiah Miller as the young mute Nova, and that’s to say nothing of the larger pack of apes that Caesar led to freedom, the vast majority of which we don’t yet know. Without Caesar to lead the narrative, there’s more than enough room for another star (or two?) to take the lead. We’re gunning for Cornelius and Nova, who could both speak to very different sides to one experience.

4. A Wider Perspective

Those new characters also hint at a much wider world to explore, most notably Bad Ape, whose arrival reminds Caesar that there’s an entire planet out there also dealing with the fallout from the Simian Flu and the new world order it’s helped usher in.

Reeves told Fandango, “When [co-writer] Mark [Bomback] and I came up with the idea for Bad Ape in ‘War,’ that was to imply the idea that there would be apes out there in the world that Caesar and his apes knew nothing of, and that they wouldn’t have had the benefit of Caesar’s leadership and the values that he had instilled in his community.”

That doesn’t just mean more apes like Bad Ape — a former zoo inhabitant who escaped during the initial outbreak, and who is eager to fit into Caesar’s tribe — but others who haven’t been united by a strong leader with his own moral code. What does it look like when they come into contact with Caesar’s still-idealistic group? Reeves thought of that too, and told Fandango, “Future conflicts in this kind of epic journey [may] take us toward the ’68 movie without necessarily ever getting there [and] could be about conflicts between apes, not just conflicts between humans and apes.”

Still, there are likely plenty more conflicts to explore between said humans and apes. At the end of “War,” Woody Harrelson’s militia and the army bent on taking them out are both decimated by battle and a very well-timed avalanche, but that by no means implies that all humans are gone. And the apes are going to have to face off against more of them, eventually leading to all humans being mute and drafted into servitude to the apes. At least, that’s what the world of the 1968 film looks like.

In 2016, Reeves and producer Dylan Clark told /Film, “You know the ending, but what you do know is also that the world is not that world. So how did it change? Caesar’s apes are not like the apes in the ‘Planet of the Apes,’ right? They’re very brutal to the humans. That’s not what’s going on, so how did that happen?”

Sounds like more than enough for a movie…or three.

Safety First this Halloween

Parents should look out for an additional safety label on kids’ Halloweencostumes, which shows they have undergone further flammability testing.

The British Retail Consortium (BRC) revealed today [Wednesday 18 October] that they have introduced two voluntary ‘Codes of Practice’ which exceed the current testing standard.

The consortium felt the need for a more robust flammability test than was currently required under European standards, and worked with UK laboratories to develop one.

The three largest children’s costumes manufacturers in the UK – Christy’s by Design, Rubies UK and Smiffy’s – have signed up to put their fancy dress outfits through these additional tests.

The warning label shown below indicates a costume has undergone the additional safety testing for flammability.

The additional flammability tests have been endorsed by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA), The National Fire Chiefs CouncilBedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service and the Children’s Burns Trust.

The tests have a more stringent requirement of a maximum burn rate of 10mm/minute. This is an improvement of 300% compared to the current European standard ‘EN71-2’ of fire safety testing, which requires a maximum burn rate of 30mm/minute for children’s fancy dress costumes – which are classed as “toys” rather than “clothing”.

David Bolton, head of product safety at the BRC explained that, despite the additional flammability testing, parents should still be cautious when their children are near flames.

“All parents know that children should not be allowed to play near fire and that clothing of any sort will burn if exposed long enough to flame or extreme heat,” he told HuffPost UK.

The BRC also explained that this does not mean costumes without this label are not safe for children to wear.

“Those [other costumes] have still been tested under the European standard ‘EN71-2’, certified to be safe,” a spokesperson said.

“Our ‘Code of Practice’ is more robust than this legal standard and therefore costumes tested under it are safer.

“That’s also not to say that costumes that haven’t been tested to our ‘Code of Practice’ wouldn’t meet the standard if they were.”

Speaking about the new ‘Code of Practice’, Bolton added: “We are still recommending that the UK Government and EU authorities revisit the legislation to ensure all products on the market are effectively regulated to reflect the hazards presented by today’s style of costumes, including the fabrics and finishes used.”

Ken Dunn, consultant burns and plastic surgeon and medical trustee at the Children’s Burns Trust said:

“The number of incidents of burns involving clothing, for example a child’s fancy-dress costume, is thankfully relatively low – but when it does happen it is catastrophic.

“We continue to support the work of the Government and the BSI (British Standard Institute) in increasing the flammability standards of children’s clothes in particular and are grateful to the British Retail Consortium for the developments in their Code of Practice.”

Doctor #13

Well at long last the BBC have announced that Jodie Whittaker will be taking over the role of Dr Who from Peter Capaldi in the Christmas edition of the show – which will feature the first, twelfth and thirteenth incarnations of The Doctor and will be played by a woman for the first time – or technically the second time if you count the Comic Relief version from a few years back when Rowan Atkinson’s Doctor transformed into Joanna Lumley – which was great fun but begs the question is this a good thin or a bad thing?

For sure it has been on the cards for years – and now it has been done.

For me; I was dreading this being the case as i feel that part of The Doctor’s charm was that is a universe of violence a man found a way to beat the bad guys without a weapon, armed with no more than a sonic screwdriver, a razor sharp wit and mind blowing courage – we expect this from a woman – but a man????

Maybe it is time that woman was given the role and I wish Jodie Whittaker the very best in role. I will take some convincing as for me the Doctor has always been a man, albeit a different sort of man. Also we have just had The Master incarnated into a woman in the form of Missy and I feel that it was just a little too soon to give The Doctor the same treatment.

On the other hand we now have a very different kind of role model and super hero – only time will tell if this was the right choice – and TIME is not yet saying a word!

What do you think?

DOCTOR WHO WEB PAGE

#1DayWithoutUs

What an amazing idea: #1DayWithoutUs. A day of local and national celebration and solidarity with migrants. We all have a chance to put the positive case for immigration. Migrants provide a net gain for our country;

they work hard, pay taxes, put more in than they take out and make our nation richer for the culture, languages, foods and difference they bring.

Play your part by getting creative and organising your own event however big or small – or just get to your nearest organised event on February 20th.

I included positive images and characters in my book She-Hag and the Night Mare Legend that portray migrants in a good and proper light. In a world that has become a little less tolerant of late let’s stand up and make a difference. Be sure to share what you are doing and great pictures on your social media sites. Make 20/02 a day to remember.

A National Day of Action on Feb 20th to Celebrate the Contributions of Migrants to the UK organised by migrants and non migrants standing together.

See you there!!!!!!!

AMERICAN WEREWOLF IS BACK

An American Werewolf in London to be remade by original director’s son

Max Landis, son of John, will write and direct modern version of 1981 comedy-horror film about two backpackers who are attacked by a werewolf.

An American Werewolf in London is to be remade by the son of the original director.

Max Landis, whose father John Landis wrote and directed the 1981 comedy-horror movie, will write and direct a new version of the story.

In the original film, two American college students go backpacking in the North York Moors when they are attacked. One of them is killed and the other is turned into a werewolf, who then goes on a killing spree in London.

The film received the first ever Oscar for makeup work, winning Rick Baker the first of his seven Academy awards.

Max Landis has directed one feature film previously, the poorly received Me Him Her. He is better known as a writer, with credits including Chronicle, Mr Right and the TV show Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency.

It will not be the first time he has mined his father’s film: in 2014 he acted in a recreation of the famous werewolf transformation scene as part of Cinefix’s Homemade series.

This article is from The Guardian

Should they or Shouldn’t they??? What do you think???

She-Hag is Live

Well the book has launched!

It is available to buy as a paperback or ebook  here:

She-Hag and the Night Mare Legend

It is also possible to get an ebook version for many different platforms – so just pick the one that you use.  Loads of people shared on Face Book and you can become a follower by LIKING the Facebook page SheHag666

You can also follow on Twitter

The experience of seeing people support and share and be part of the book launch was amazing. The next step is to make public the FREE background ebook The Secret Supernatural World of She-Hag for people who would like a little taster first – it includes a download link to the first seven chapters of the full book. I am also working with Cornerstone publishing to get a paperback into independent book stores before Christmas.

I am going to have a little break before I get down to completing Book Two: She-Hag and the Heart of a Dragon.

Thank you all so much – Mark

Horror of Grammar Schools

 

The present unelected British Prime Minister and her unelected new Government plan – without a manifesto promise and a mandate from the country – to introduce the biggest shake up to Education system in a decade!!!!

They plan to give powers to create new Grammar schools based on selection. There will be a new wave of these selection based schools, expansion of existing ones and the right of State schools, academies and free schools to become selecting Grammar Schools – all this in spite of this being made illegal under Tony Blair.

Mrs May is to throw to the dog of the Tory Right the great big bone of more selective schools. David Cameron didn’t have a mandate for this, and nor does she. What she is doing – and if we had a strong Opposition I doubt she would even dare – is presenting herself not as a new Prime Minister who landed the top job on the back of Cameron’s referendum defeat; but as a new Prime Minister with a fresh mandate all of her own. But on a policy as big, as significant, and as controversial as this one, that is not going to stand up to much democratic examination. She is reaching out to the Right of her own party and UKIP voters. This is just another awful result of the BREXIT hard Right genie being let out of the bottle to mould our country into something it has not been for a very long time.

Selection is not better for ordinary working class children. to be told you failed and be assigned to the “Sub-school” for less intelligent at 11 is not what makes for true and open aspiration for all. Compare attainment in a place like inner city Hackney with a total comprehensive system to areas where Grammar Schools remain; Hackney out performs by any reading of figures.

When Finland, at about 30th place in attainment tables, banned selection, segregation and private provision in their Education system they shot to the top of the tables – and remain there. When Rich, Poor and Middle-Class children all have to go to the same local school – the Government make damn sure all schools are great. Also, even if society not totally equal; the bosses will be less likely to screw workers if they are school friends and workers will understand bosses more for the same reason.

What we need is Free and Equal Education access for all from nursery to Degree level. There is so much to learn from our European Brothers and Sisters even if Brexit happens.   For the future fight Grammar Schools in every way possible.

 

WATCH LONDON BURN

Click this YouTube link:  WATCH LONDON BURN

Sunday 8:30pm 4th September 2016 commemorates the 350 anniversary of what has infamously become known as The Great Fire of London. The disaster began in a bakery on Pudding Lane. The vast wooden structures of the city held together with tar and pitch burned like a tinder box and the strong east wind soon sent the flames to the huge London warehouses filled with sugar, gunpowder, rum that turned buildings into dangerous explosives. The old Saint Paul’s Cathedral was destroyed and the lead dome roof melted into the streets below. Arrogance by officials refusing to knock down any buildings meant the fire spread quickly and with devastating power. The whole of central London was destroyed by morning which was not good for a country engaged in two wars. The flourishing city of finance commerce and entertainment was rebuilt with brick relatively quickly. The official death toll was only 10 – though the true figure would have been much higher. Ten important people were recorded as dying in the flames but far more would have died in their beds as the flames took hold. Many of the inhabitants were “unofficial” unrecorded residents too. Added to these facts were the many homeless that also died in the harsh Winter that followed that deadly Autumn of 1666.

Watch this incredible art display as a floating wooden skyline of Old London Town burns to remember this day 350 years ago. Local unemployed young people were brought on board to help the artist create his work ready to be dramatically set on fire to commemorate when poverty, over-crowding, official arrogance and the deadly element of fire collide in an event we call The Great Fire of London. You can also check out further details at:

http://www.visitlondon.com/greatfire350/watchitburn