Sunday, May 30, 2021

Should we defund the Police? What does that mean?

The big question put by some people is should we defund the police.  This is interpreted from a range of cutting all budgets for existing police forces to diverting some funds to other conflict resolving entities.  In the United States the situation regarding police killings of blacks has inflamed public opinions.  W. Kamau Bell recently did an episode of "United Shades of America" that inspired this effort.  No blog post is going to solve the dilemma, but my goal is merely to offer some thoughts to stimulate constructive decisions.

 The slogan "Defund the police" is offensive to many.    Most everyone recognizes a need for police services, but lately with the greater use of videos we are aware of serious flaws.  With taxes being a dirty word there is a limit on how we can divvy up limited resources.  Part of the problem is that most of us think of taxes as a sacrifice instead of an investment.  Taxes should be thought of more like "the price of civilization." Some thoughts on taxation:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/05/taxation-necessary-tool-for.html

Do we really want to throw the baby out with the bath water?  We don't want anyone to suffer unnecessary violence and death, but that is hardly the whole story of police.  A lot of what they do is not stated--their mere presence deters a wide variety of misbehavior.  Thousands and thousands of police officers have protected people from harm.  They have helped to recover stolen property.  Many have even steered misguided youth on a better path.  As in so many other issues a balance is needed.

Fear is a powerful factor, even more than greed when resources are being prioritized.  Politicians want power for different reasons, but the successful ones soon learn how to get attention.  Short term concerns are more effective than long term concerns.  Newscasts and newspapers learn to draw ratings with sensationalism with the motto "if it bleeds it leads."

Law enforcement will be a necessity as long as some humans harm or exploit others and we still believe everyone deserves a "fair chance."  Violence and theft are concerns we all feel.   It cannot be argued that everyone would obey whatever laws the majority agree to without some fear of possible violence or imprisonment.  On the other hand conflicts are normal and often require only a better understanding to be resolved.  An important factor sometimes turns out to be mental health.  

Politicians have found that running on a law and order campaign guarantees a core following.  Some are fearful and others can be encouraged to fear all sorts of things, many of them unspoken.  Once in power the elected decision makers have to prioritize spending while also trying to minimize taxes.  If fear causes police budgets to be bolstered, it has to be offset with cuts elsewhere.  Parents value schools, but non parents see little value.  To me education is crucial for society to function:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2011/05/central-role-of-education.html

 How does education help reduce crime?   It must be admitted that education allows some to defraud others, but that should be minimal to how more people are liberated.  An educated citizen is not just one with a lot of knowledge, but also with the realization that no one knows everything.  A good education should suit individuals to their talents and opportunities.  Critical thinking skills may not be attainable by everyone, but the more that such skills are developed the better for everyone.

We are headed where the production and services expected by citizens will be done by fewer and fewer people.  This could create much greater inequality unless enough people take steps to avoid it.  Inequality would exacerbate violence and deception for those who are not satisfied with their lot in life.  This may well be another critical factor.

A lot of attention is being given to bad cops, but it would be unfair to depict all police as violent trigger happy racists.  Recruiting and training are key, but so are enforcing standards.  At one time a stereotypical image was of an Irish cop which in reality was the result of economic factors that discriminated against the Irish.  Today it does seem that blacks are one minority that has been attracted to law enforcement.

How does society attract decent men and women who can not only enforce the law, but resolve conflicts without using violence or even the threat of violence? That is a key question with no easy answers as such people are in demand elsewhere.  Given the right education such people do exist, but many would prefer other challenging vocations.  Pay and working conditions need to be considered.

Education is for everyone.  With the right education (and a fair economy) for everyone there may well be less need for law enforcement, but it is wise to assume humankind will never reach this level, at least not in our lifetime.  Too many youngsters drop out and too many others flounder for reasons that need examining.  Education needs to be a much higher priority and should receive more resources than police as they currently exist in too many jurisdictions.  It is true that most voters do not share this viewpoint when it comes to dollars and cents, but overcoming this obstacle needs to be a mission for everyone who has power.

We no longer live in isolated villages and need to better understand what makes other people function.   There are so many things humans with a variety of talents need to know that it is a separate topic.   

Individuals need a general education, but also a specific education.  Those who will help enforce laws require skills.  Wisdom is not reacting to circumstances with set responses, but evaluating and considering reasonable options.  In dealing with other people  (in my opinion) psychology and sociology are useful to understanding people.  Diversity is actually normal even in closed societies, but too often discounted in open societies.  Some differences are obvious, if too often dismissed.  The more the differences can be understood, the less need for conflict.

As we have learned in medicine and science there is so much knowledge that we have to develop skills to co-ordinate various aspects of it.  Nobody has the answer to all problems.  One skill is to determine what higher level of skills are required.  The crux of dealing with problems is to understand.  If we can learn (and some of us already have) to apply skills more effectively there will be less need for forceful interventions.  Career guidance is key--theoretically everyone is suitable for some job, but some are especially suited for demanding jobs.  

Some police forces have access to resources that allow them to use military weapons.  A few years ago there was discussion about sharing helicopters to thwart car thieves in the Toronto to Hamilton corridor.  It came down to there were other  options that were less expensive.  Force settles some problems, but aggravates others.  President Eisenhower wisely pointed out that a bomber displaced several schools.  Society has to decide more wisely where our resources are best allocated for the most harmony.

Police unions may be an obstacle to any rearrangement of resources.  It is their duty to protect members, and it should be expected they would want to protect job security.  We hear reports that too often they represent bad cops and have been effective in reducing any punishment.  Assuming that existing police jobs are displaced in favor of specialized conflict resolvers might it be possible for the same union to represent the new ones?  There are potential conflicts and perhaps the new members might feel they are not understood properly.

The core problem is people.   We are greedy and we are fearful.  We are not equal and are easily misunderstood.  But we need to get our act together before it is too late.  An effective police force supported by appropriate specialists could help steer us to a better future.  Even so, this would only be part of the puzzle.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Cowspiracy points out the major premier environmental danger

Depressing that one of my joys in life, eating meat puts more stress on the environment than fossil fuels.  The producer, Kip Andersen runs into opposition rapidly.  Green Peace would not talk to him and environmentalist mostly refused to concede any ground.  Some financing was withdrawn.  Animal activists are listed as terrorists and have suffered for it.  Warning if you watch this film you may be inclined to veganism, but that might be for the better not only for you, but for the world.

An undeniable truth is that people are starving while massive amounts of grain is fed to animals so who can afford to eat meat, can do so.  Protein available from plants, after all that is where animals get much of it.  A vegan requires about 10% of the land required to feed a meat eater.  

One statement was that livestock was more harmful to the environment than all the exhaust from all vehicles in the world.  Environmentalists are well aware of resistance to tackling the fossil fuel industry and were very reluctant to take on agriculture interests (really the consumption desires of humans).  

If the economic and environmental arguments don't soften your attitude a bit you can also witness the chopping off of a duck's head.  My wife's beloved grandmother used to kill a chicken by the neck for dinner  Film maker Kip decided rather than watch a chicken be slaughtered he bought one and turned it over to a sanctuary. 

Bottom line I believe over population of people is the more basic problem.  Not only are there too many of us, the better off of us stress the environment the most.  If mankind is more successful in raising the standard of living for more people that is a multiplier. 

I recognize I am addicted to meat, but have started considering alternative options.  Recently watched "The Hunt" and philosophically accept that life feeds on death.  Read more:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/05/the-hunt-is-what-life-is-all-about.html  As we become more "civilized" we get softer and take a lot of things for granted.  Environmental concerns cannot be ignored and it is too self righteous to blame it all on fossil fuels while we ignore a bigger factor.  Methane does more damage than carbon dioxide, but breaks down much faster.

This may sound like an argument for veganism and the movie certainly is, but I prefer to think I am just presenting a worthy view that is too easy to ignore.   Vegans are healthier on the whole.  Cow's milk is a baby calf growth substance and not designed for humans.   

Realizing the logic of a vegan lifestyle, entrepreneurs are developing alternative foods for meat and dairy products and some of them are likely to prosper as trends continue.   But to be honest it would be hard to break long established habits. 

Kip Anderson and Keegan Kuhn teamed together to write, direct and produce this film.  Kip is the principle narrator while Keegan is the cinematographer.  They both have done other documentaries.

For a name you might recognize, Leonardo DiCaprio was the executive producer.  Yes, that big Hollywood star and Oscar winner likes to support liberal and environmental causes.

If we become more humane and environmentally sensitive what will we do with all the livestock?  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2018/01/what-happens-to-farm-animals-when.html

If you are interested in trying a practical vegan diet checkout this:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2013/11/vb6-vegan-before-6.html

Friday, May 21, 2021

"The Hunt" is what life is all about.

As civilized beings we too often fancy ourselves removed from the concerns of nature.  That is of course an illusion.  "The Hunt" narrated by the indomitable David Attenborough who does not paint a picture of  idyllic nature, does provides us with the reality. which has its own beauty. 

 I have watched a few films on industrial food manufacturing (i.e. slaughterhouses) that encourage vegetarianism, but here is a slight mood alteration watching this six hour set of stories.  Nature is brutal, with killing normal.  Lots of killing is depicted, but also escapes.  Most targets survive an initial assault, but that also encourages sympathy for the predators who will not survive if they are not able to kill for their food.

 Several years ago I met Bob Morley who married into the family and was an avid hunter and was concerned over what he called the "Bambi Syndrome."  He felt city people had become unaware of the realities of life. 

An underlying reality is that life feeds on life.  Death is part of life.  "The Hunt" shows predators versus prey animals.  They are held in balance.  Prey animals have evolved to survive while predators have evolved to also survive.  One factor that is repeated often is escapes.  Most attempts to kill fail.  For those predators who fail there is death by either starvation or weakening to the point of being prey themselves. 

Insects (and other invertebrates) have their own wars for survival.  They tend to lay a lot of eggs.  They are killed by birds, amphibians, reptiles and mammals.  The killing is by deception, quickness, sticky tongues, poisons and traps.  Spiders are very remarkable in building webs sometimes across streams.   Team work is well developed by red ants who act like an army.

Life began in water.  As they say the big fish eat the small fish.  Killer whales work in teams and are able to kill not only fish, but mammals and birds.  The film shows one octopus who attacks on land by using rock ponds at certain times of year.

It is often said that evolution was the survival of the fittest, often implying the strongest individuals.  No quarrel, but would point out that animals and humans who learned to co-operate did better.  Some good examples in this series were wolves, dolphins, wild dogs and crocodiles. They all were able to take down larger prey, but working as a team was the key.

The last episode focused on conservation efforts.  Predators are more difficult to attract sympathy, but play a necessary role in balancing nature.  India noticed tigers disappearing and decided to pay rural dwellers to move out so tigers can expand.   Urbanization squeezes out natural animal habitat.  Polar bears do much of their hunting on ice and have been suffering.  Harpy eagles in South America forced to adapt to forests being cut down now seek ground animals.  Blue whales have been killed by ocean liners and efforts have been made to adjust navigating patterns.

Huw Cordey was the series producer and has been involved in other major nature programs such as, "Our Planet" (2019), Dancing with the Birds" (2019) and "A Perfect Planet" (2021).

Steven Price wrote the music.  He had won an Oscar for "Gravity" (2013).  He composed for "Our Planet" (2019) and "David Attenborough:  A Life on Our Planet" (2020)

David Attenborough, younger brother of Lord Richard Attenborough, studied science at Cambridge.  In 1954 bean "Zoo Quest" series with the BBC.  In 1964 he became a controller and amonsgt others things brought "Monty Python's Flying Circus"  He spent 8 years behind a desk, but by 1979 he wrote and presented " Life on Earth," the most ambitious and later became part of a trilogy.   As a narrator David is considered credible (he does not do commercials) and reassuring.  Knighted in 1985.

Technical challenges abound, particularly as they sought after rarely, if ever seen before shots.  The close-ups are stunning.  Most of the crew had worked with wildlife before and were able to call upon other experts to help sort unpredictable movements of animal.  To get some of the good shots required hours and days of patience.  First time a blue whale, largest animal in existence filmed under water.  A few of the cinematographers were Sophie Darlington Jamie McPherson, John Aitchison, Doug Anderson and Mark Deeble.

What is life?  A hard to understand question, but one thing learned from this series is that life feeds on death.  A hard notion to accept and one that most of us are insulated from.   David Attenborough and the crew help us to accept the reality of nature that we are all a part of.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

"Ahaan" An Adult with Down's Syndrome and an OCD partner

People with mental differences are making a mark in films.  Bollywood has taken its first film with a Downs Syndrome adult as its lead character.  Not only that, he helps an OCD  (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) person reconcile with his wife.  This 80 minute film is about 50% English with the rest subtitled from Hindi.

Many of these films are comedies which some would think superficial and not really doing justice. That may be true to some extent, but comedies often make a point to a larger audience.  We are encouraged to laugh at some miscues and maybe learn the laughter hurts.  A greater understanding follows.

At the beginning we are introduced to Ahaan, 25 years old who has Down's Syndrome and seems cheerful.  We see him dressing himself, all set for the day.  Soon we are introduced to Ozzy brushing his teeth and after a shower with a scrub brush and being very meticulous with his hygiene.  We further see him lining up household items and being upset over being touched or food being slopped.  The link between the two men is Ozzy's wife Anu who is a customer of Ahaan's mother's brownie sideline business.  She is so enthused about Ahaan when he makes deliveries that she prepares some food items for him and offers to make some of her specialties such as chicken biryani ( a favorite of mine too).

Shortly after this we see Ozzy and Anu have a heated discussion where she is annoyed by his obsessive habits and especially by his putdown of Ahaan.  Shortly after we learn she has moved out of home and Ozzy is stunned.  He knows his mannerisms annoy her and he seeks help.  There is an amusing interlude with a psychologist who tries to expand Ozzy's world beyond his anxieties.  He gives him a pill which we assume must be to reduce anxiety, but really it is a laxative that will force Ozzy to use an unsanitary public toilet.  He then drags him through an uncomfortable crowded subway.  The psychologist suspects Ozzy is uncomfortable with physical intimacies with his wife who wants to have a child.  

Ozzy craves his wife's food and figures out how he can use Ahaan to get some of his favorites.  Ahaan requests a special treat and shares it with Ozzy.  After awhile she catches on.  We are also learned Ahaan has greater ambitions that include a job and being more independent.  Anu and Ozzy reconcile over wanting to help Ahaan.  The couple contact a mother of a special needs child who did acheive independence.  Ahaan makes a date with another of his mother's customers who happens to be an H.R. manager that seems to go smoothingly.  The end is a bit ambiguous, but Ahaan seems a little further on his way to independence.

Nikhil Pherwani, wrote, directed and produced "Ahaan."  He had written, edited and handled the camera for a short in 2011.  More recently directed a television series.  Preparing for this movie he did research and talked with the star, Abuli to better understand the ambitions of someone with Down's Syndrome.  His brother Abhishek helped with the writing and producing.

Music by Dhruv Challa.  Was shot in Mumbai by Saket Gyani and Dipankar Sikder.  Edited by Anumpama Chabukswar and Jitendra Prakash Dongare.

Abuli Mamaji portrays Ahaan in only his second film.  He is cheerful throughout with just a few down moments. He is conscientious and helpful.

Arif Zakair plays Ozzy, the one with pronounced OCD symptoms who at first seems disgusted with Ahaan, then takes advantage of him and in the end becomes an advocate for him.  He has  been in a lot of interesting films including "Earth" (1998), "My Name is Khan" (2010), "Lootera" (2013)and "Raazi" (2018).

Niharika Singh plays Anu who is the most encouraging for Ahaan, but has had to deal with a difficult husband.  She appeared in "Miss Lovely" (2012).  She introduced a Diversity Film Training program for students from marginalized communities as a director in 2019.  She did not charge any fee to act in "Ahaan."  

Shilpa Mehta played Ahaan's mother, the baker of brownies who was protective and a little encouraging.  Shilpa has appeared in "Ashoka the Great" (2001), "Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham..." (2001), "Hum Tum" (2004) and "Delhi Belly" (2011).

Plabita Borthakur plays a brownie customer who agrees to a date with  Ahaan turns out she is in H.R. i.e. human resources which reminds Ahaan he wants a real job.  Her first film was "PK" (2014) and later did "Lipstick Under My Burka" (2016).   More on "PK"  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/03/pk.html

Rajit Kapoor, played the psychologist who had a practical mind steering Ozzy in a healthier direction.  Rarjit once played Mahatma Gandhi and went onto such films as "Train to Pakistan"  (1998), "I Did not Kill Gandhi" (2005), "Guzzarish" (2010), "Shaitan"  (2011), "Raazi" (2018) and "Uri:  The Surgical Strike" (2018).

The viewer sees the belittling attitude of most people and the resilience of a Down's Syndrome adult.  Maybe we will better understand they are humans that are able to contribute to society.

As usual I have bolded movies I have seen.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Taxation: a Necessary tool for civiliziation

Complaining about taxes is universal.  It is more than just the money with our distaste extending to calculating and filling our forms.  This book deals primarily with the American tax system, but with many references to systems including Canada, New Zealand, France, United Kingdom, Netherlands, etc.  

 T.R. Reid and many others consider the American taxation system is a "mess" and in the book he explores the world to determine a better system.   A quote from Bill Bradley, "You can't just tinker.  Facing a huge almost incomprehensible system.  You have to take it on.  Your goal has to be to fix the whole damn thing."

Why are taxes necessary?  Many nations do not tax, or tax relatively lightly.  Oil rich countries in the Middle East get enough revenue from selling national resources.  Small countries with strong tourism (eg. Monaco) squeeze money out of visitors.  Some countries in earlier times just commandeered essential products.  The need to tax is lightened when money can be borrowed or be printed.  Taxes are said to be the "price of civilization"  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2012/07/price-of-civilization-book-review.html

The ideal in trying to fix "the whole damn thing" is to follow BBLR which stands for broader base, lower rates.  There are so many exemptions, deductions and other complications that merely removing some of them would allow for lower rates.  Governments are likely to need more revenues in the future as they take over more functions so it becomes a complicated issue.

An example I have some personal knowledge of, from New Zealand.  Their sales tax (VAT) is on pretty much everything and is kept low with less disruption to retailers.  For income tax they have done away with exemptions popular elsewhere, but in fact allows a lower rate.   

The United States under the guidance of Ronald Reagan and Tip O'Neil agreed on a taxation system very similar.  Actually the details were worked on by Bill Bradley, Senator from New Jersey and others.  I knew him as a New York Knick, who had been a Rhodes Scholar and more personally had responded to a letter I wrote him regarding a research project.

Deductions are protected by vested interests, but are often not as effective as claimed and hurt the system.  Many are meant to encourage good behavior.

Mortgage interest deductions favor those with money.  Charities have proved to be resilient and would benefit from less need for govt. rules.   Electric cars, although a worthy objective do not justify $7,500 credit on $100,000 cost.

Inequality has gained a greater focus as it has been increasing in most western nations.   Read more here:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2014/10/capital-in-twenty-first-century.html   The flat tax is usually promoted by wealthy people with the benefit that it is simpler.  In effect the rich pay less and the middle class pays more.  Thomas Piketty advocated a wealth tax as the best remedy to even up the classes, but admitted there would be resistance.    

The estate tax may be the best tool against inequality.  Termed a "death tax" by right wing critics is in fact a tax on the living.  Most people, say 80% need not be subject to it.  It should be progressive with the idea is partly to optimize revenue, but also "spread the wealth" that so upset Joe the Plumber.--education is another equality leveller and perhaps a percentage can be earmarked 

T. R. Reid brings up many examples of resisters.  Gerard Depardieu, a big French cinema actor and producer who was so fed up with his high rates that he denounced his citizenship and moved just over the border to Belgium.  Apple and Google among many others have discovered ways to transfer their income to lower tax regimes.  Recently Janet Yellin has revived an effort to co-ordinate international efforts to thwart the drive to the bottom of taxes.

Corporation taxes have been a good source of revenue, but they have also attracted a lot of abuse.  Ideally they should be abolished, but that could only happen if the money could be replaced with another source.  It seems to me that corporation taxes are thought of as an expense that can be passed onto a customer.  That suggests to me  that a VAT (value added tax) would be one source.

One of the concerns of VAT is that they are regressive.  That can be dealt with income tax rates that would be more lenient for lower income earners.  Another concern of some critics is that VAT are not usually stated.  Here in Canada we are told the GST amount making us conscious of the tax, but also annoying us with an extra calculation required before our purchase decision.  VAT advocates feel that hidden, most people do not notice and it can be raised while drawing little attention.  The taxpayer really should know.

In the U.S. there is a retail sales tax which is applied only once  In Canada and over 150 countries there is a Value Added Tax.  I remember when Canada was adopting a G.S.T. (a form of VAT) and there were many complaints.  I was in a position where I had to calculate pricing starting from the wholesale price that had a manufacturer's tax that was higher than the proposed new tax. What I didn't fully appreciate was the VAT process which applies to every stage of purchase starting with raw materials to any stage of manufacturing.  The GST rate would apply, but when the manufactured good moved to the next level which could be another manufacturer or a wholesaler the tax would be applied, but since they had already paid a tax that amount would be given as credit.  A couple of advantages ensued.  Each level paying the tax claimed a credit which became self enforcing.  The tax paid in smaller but more frequent installments was steadier.

Sin taxes have been effective in not only raising money, but also in discouraging harmful behavior.  The best example might be tobacco.  If totally successful the government would have to seek out. another source of revenue.  Health authorities are already suggesting sugar that causes obesity and diabetes.  After a few initial setbacks, sugar has successfully been taxed with one example being Mexico that has reduced diabetes as well as increased revenue.  

Another commodity to be taxed would be carbon where done it has proved to cut use and raise funds.  There has been resistance as the public is inconvenienced.  Some of the inconvenience can be offset though tax credits as in Canada.

FAT stands for financial activities tax and can be so small to not be noticed.  One way of accumulating significant revenue while placating outcries about the very rich manipulators.

The Panama Papers were uncovered by German journalists in 2016 who not only maintained secrecy involved foreign journalists.  It was discovered that a legal firm, Monsack Fonseca was able to help redistribute large amounts of wealth to avoid taxation.  Some of their clients were Jackie Chan, Lionel Messi, and countless people close to prominent politicians.  The Joint International Tax Shelter and Collaboration Network took an interest and continues its crusade to prevent tax evasion through tax havens.

The world is changing in the sense that it requires fewer people to produce the goods and services needed.  This is a situation very easy for wealth to further concentrate.  One suggestion gaining momentum is a (universal) basic income.  How that could fit into a taxation system needs to be worked out.  To me the most logical way is to include it as income that can be taxed.

 All income should be treated equally including wages, interest, dividends, basic income supplements and capital gains.  Concerns about the need for investments should be dealt with on the merits.

In the United States and Canada filling out the annual income tax form is time consuming and expensive.  Other countries have simplified the process.  For most people the information is readily accessible to the government and could be easily calculated with only a form requiring confirmation. 

Simplified to not only make it easier to administer, but also hopefully that make personal and business decisions neutral.

Everything brought up is subject to discussion.  There are trade offs.  With the goal of simplicity and low rates, every change needs to challenged.  It can be pointed out for every item not liked there are other items that are desired.

A few earlier thoughts of taxes.

The job of a tax collector:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/04/tax-collectors-dirty-job-frowned-upon.html

My experience as a tax preparer:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2019/01/what-i-learned-as-tax-preparer.html




Monday, May 10, 2021

Frequency and its extended Korean remake

Do you ever wonder how your life could have been better or worse, if one little detail had changed?  As someone who has delved into my family history it has always struck me the overwhelming details that had to fall in place for me to be me, right here, right now.  That sort of notion begs for science fiction speculation.  Time travel is a popular theme in movies as we are all curious about how the past affects the present and about the future.  Two film projects have replaced personal time travel with communicating across time to change details.

 Two decades ago I watched "Frequency" (2000) and enjoyed the interplay between past and present with a murder mystery.  The science fiction tool of travel has been done in many movies, but communicating only with somebody in the past and using information to change the past just seemed intriguing.  It was not forgotten.  After recently watching "Signal" (2016) an enjoyable Korean mini series I decided to re-watch "Frequency." 

The Father, Frank who died when son was very young contacts his adult son John 30 years later. which surprises both of them.   We are not so much given an explanation, but a suggestion that an Aurora Borealis might have something to do with it.  Credibility is built a bit knowing the outcome of a World Series game, called son (himself) "chief"and even more when his father follows the son's instructions how to avoid his death.  After this success John has a dream that reconstructs his new history with his father.  We learn later that the father did die a few years later from lung cancer, however John persuades his father to give up smoking and he survives.  I like the anti smoking message; read more  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/06/smoking-and-movies.html

Then John learns his mother was murdered, but not all the details.   He instructs dad what to look for and after a false lead does succeed.  All this time we are watching family photos with some people disappearing and later re-appearing.  The decor of the house changes even more frequently.

Some comic relief comes when John talks to his younger self and his mother, 30 years younger without giving it away.  An interesting technical and dramatic feat is when simultaneously we view an attack by Shawn Doyle, the murderer to father in the past and to the son in the present.  Shawn is killed in one scene and disappears in the other making the point the past sets the future.

An interesting sideline is the friendship between two generations of firemen with police springing through recreational baseball games.  John grows up playing with Satch who later work together as cops.  There is a theme tied into friendship and family.

The writer and producer, Toby Emerich was nominated for awards for the script.  Ironically he wrote the script in 1994, but no one accepted.  He also admits that the delay allowed to be the producer.  He went onto to write 13 episodes of tv series with the same title in 2016.  I have not seen it, but understand it was more extensive and switched the main characters to a daughter and same father.  John described  this film as science fantasy.  He also produced "Butterfly Effect"  (2004)with more tampering with reality.   

Greg Hoblit, director and producer had gotten his start with television series such as "Hill Street Blues"  1982-1985) and "L. A. Law" (1986- 1988) and "NYPD Blue" (1993-1995). 

 Dennis Quaid played the father, Frank Sullivan who was a fireman.  Dennis has been in television and movies since 1975 to current times including "Far From Heaven" (2002), "The Words" (2012) and "Truth" (2015).    http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2016/10/truth-movie-version.html

John Caviezel played son, John Sullivan who went on to become a policeman.   Acting in films since 1991 including "Pay it Forward" (2000).

Elizabeth Mitchell played mother, Julie Sullivan who was a nurse.  She was murdered, then saved and made it to the current time.  One of her many roles was with the long running series. "Lost."

Shawn Doyle plays a key crooked police/murderer  in both the past and future.  Shawn picked up role from Toronto when casting failed to fill the role from New York.  Saw him in 'Sabah" (2005) as the lead male.  Also appeared in "House of Cards" (2015)  Republic of Doyle (2010-2014) as the lead set in his native Newfoundland.

In the poster above the emphasis is on a father and a young son which is an underlying theme of the film.

The Korean version, "Signal" was partially based on actual Korean crimes,  and tied to a more complicated plot which required some actors to play a younger version of themselves.  The plot is cleverly layered with linkages slowly revealed.  One difference is that there is a 15 year gap between the past and the present.

 Eun-hee Kim wrote the script which won him two national awards.   He has written television scripts from 2002 until current times.

Won Suk Kim directed this series.  He has also directed a favorite of mine, "My Mister" (2018).  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/01/my-mister-is-slow-drama-with-emotional.html

Mohammad Omar Faruk is also listed as director and writer, but he is difficult to pin down.   He is from Bangladesh where apparently he was big on Youtube.  He is also credited with writing and directing in French films.  I suspect he has written source material that has been picked up by by film makers.

Lee Jehoon played the main protagonist as a profiler with the police department.  An award winning actor, also appeared in "Finding Mr. Destiny" (2010).

Kim Hye-su played a police leader who we learn was a naive klutz, but developed into an effective police officer who still yearned for her first mentor. I had seen in her in two previous films.  In "Hyena" (2020) she played a crafty, lawyer significantly older than another lawyer attracted to her.   The difference in appearance was stunning and her acting even more appreciated.

Cho Jin-woong plays the police office from the earlier time who was honest.  We first see him as he reports a dead body, but for some reason we do not find out any more about the body until another 15 years has passed.  Jin-woong has appeared in many films since 2002 including "Glove" (2010), "A Hard Day" (2014), "Assassination" (2015) and "The Handmaiden" (2016).

A mini series is more engaging and the Koreans have mastered how to build and maintain tension.  Koreans are experts at romance stories and this one has an unrequited romance that ties into the main story.  Of course in both films there are people who are very suspicious of where the information is coming from and the viewer is given a vicarious pleasure of being in the know.

I would accept Toby Emmerich's term "science fantasy" as there is little pretense of scientific fact for the main dramatic tool.  To work the fantasy has to be consistent, but also flexible.  He commented that he prefers his viewers approach the movie with no expectations that might come from trailers or reviews.    i have mixed feelings involving not only viewers, but investors:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2012/09/predictability-and-enjoyment-of-movies.html   The shock of the unexpected can leave a positive enjoyable memory on one hand, the disappointment of an unmet expectation and the advantage of selecting from a multitude of choices are weighed against one another.

You can't change the past.  Maybe instead of trying to do so we need to understand and appreciate it. In effect the main protagonists in both films are playing God.  Learn to live for the moment.

In the poster you can see the three main characters, but if you look closely you will notice that the man on the right has a different background.

As usual I have bolded films I have seen.

Saturday, May 8, 2021

LANGUISHING: A NEW WORD AND A NEW REALITY

Actually, "languishing" is not a new word, it has been kicking around for a long time and has recently gained some momentum.  But it does have a new and personal meaning for all of us.  Most of us are not actually depressed (although more of us probably are), but we feel helpless and unfocused.  We have been teased with restrictions being lifted and then brought back.  The weather has been easing, but inconsistent.  For me a Steve Paikin episode gave the notion of how one feels, some articulation.

Time management has been altered for everyone.  I had once preached that you can not fully enjoy two activities at the same time, but these days multi-tasking is the normal, but truly no task is quite as satisfying as we hoped.  Blogging is one coping mechanism for me, but will confess there are many posts in draft and I dilly dally between them without the focus that could make any of them more satisfying.  An earlier blog when I was focused on selling, but everyday living as well:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2011/05/time-management-for-sales-other-people.html

Personally (and for some this is even more excruciating) two funerals have affected me.  A close friend of the family, Helen Rigby died from cancer during one of the semi lockdowns.  A memorial service was held, semi outdoors, masks, temperatures checked, some social distancing.  Under normal circumstances a lot more people would have showed to pay their respects and remember the good times with her.  Through the newspaper obituary we learned of the death of an uncle, Raymond Oleskiw who once had a significant role in the family.  Although he was elderly and had other health issues, the Covid 19 pandemic was the deciding factor.  No mention of a funeral and apparently the opportunity to renew family ties has been missed.

Resentment which we all seem powerless to really express is now part of our psyches.  Guessing most of my readers resent those "idiots" who are not strictly abiding by restrictions and holding the rest of us hostage.  On the other hand they resent us because we are putting a damper on their enjoyment of life.  Amongst my crowd there is resentment between those who had early access to vaccinations and those who didn't, many of whom were exposed to greater risk.

Donald Trump and his supporters are especially resented.  We can see his selfish decision to sideline an intelligent response to the pandemic.  Too many blindly follow his words and example, not realizing he has already screwed them and is now compounding the problem.  Somewhere in the future there may be a reaction against science deniers that are really protecting their greedy interests.  Climate change, gun control, mental health, inequality, etc.may eventually be viewed more reasonably and dealt with more effectively.

Another resentment is that the rich are doing better than ever.  More of us are forced to buy online as we are unable to get what we need (and want) through our regular suppliers.  The big grocery stores are able to adjust, while too many of their smaller competitors are either closed or severely restricted.  This trend will likely carry on and we will all have a different purchasing life.

To my way of thinking there have been events that changed society profoundly, but few as severely as the current pandemic.  My parents were brought up during the Great Depression and went through some deprivations and a great release to help start the baby boom.  Their parents (my grandparents) were the ones who felt the shock of a standard of living being suddenly lowered.  World Wars created for many a different adjustment, due to fear.  Young people, especially those active or close to active fighting, felt life and plans could be ended abruptly so you might as well enjoy life to the fullest for the moment.

Other blogs that made me think of our precarious existence: 

When the Covid 19 shutdowns I started exploring my city within walking distance seemed like a good idea.  This link has several other links for these walks which resulted in lots of photos that you might find interesting and a few observations:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/04/the-shutdown-continues.html

A CBC radio clip got my attention about luck.  A book written by Jeffrey S. Rosenthal, a statistician followed.  He was debunking a lot of luck notions while at the same time urging us to pay more attention to statistical odds.  More recently there has been a fuss about blood clots caused by some vaccines that has caused some policy changes and more critically public fear.  Looking at the odds there is more danger of getting Covid 19.  It is worth some consideration:   http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/03/knock-on-wood.html

 Watching Michelle Gelfand, a guest on Fareed Zakaria the discussion started on loose and tight societies and how they affected coping with the Covid 19 pandemic.  There has been a definite link and the same mechanism affects much more:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/04/rule-makers-rule-breakers.html

What will we bequeath to those that follow?  Life is not certain and thus we might appreciate it more.  People can be very greedy and thoughtless.  Other people can be very caring.  The rich can survive better than the rest of us, but even they can be hurt.  Above all I hope future generations will realize that we are all CONNECTED.

 If you found this blog more disjointed than usual, you could be right.  Blogging still is something I enjoy and has become part of my coping strategy.  An explanation of my joy:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/09/what-keeps-me-blogging-and-what-i-have.html

An explanation of how I chose my title:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2013/07/the-real-john-davidson.html