Friday, June 28, 2024

First Impressions of the First Debate

 This is not what I anticipated as I thought about doing a blog on the debate.  The talk has been overwhelmingly about Biden's poor performance.  Up front, before the debate I believe that Americans thinking Donald Trump should even be allowed to run for political office reflects very poorly on them.  I will try to give a more positive, but honest perspective.

The problems should not be attributed to the moderators.  They gave each candidate a chance to make their case.  In a few instances they reminded a candidate a chance to use remaining time to answer a question. 

The memory of the last 16 years is pathetic.  Several years ago in 2009 Barack Obama took over a big economic mess that should have alarmed all Americans.  Over eight years he cleaned it up and handed a growing economy to Donald Trump.  Trump gave out a huge tax reduction plan that not only increased inequality (not really noticed by most) and increased the national debt (again not understood by most).  For three years he bragged as if the economy was due to his management, not noticing that things were slipping.  By about his fourth year something unexpected (although Obama and Biden knew such an event was coming) happened, the Covid-19 pandemic.  Trump handled it almost criminally trying to blame others, encouraging ideological resistance to masks and vaccinations, even suggesting harmful remedies.  It was estimated that he might be responsible for over 100,000 deaths.  Regardless, supply chains were very disrupted.  Pumping money to individuals and businesses kept the economy moving, but of course hurt the debt and led to later inflation.  Biden took over the mess and better than most nations was able to build up jobs and wrestle with inflation.  Did Americans think the pandemic would have no long range impact on their lives?

I was disappointed with Biden's presentation--he did seem like an old man who needed to clear his throat.  He stumbled over words and missed opportunities to challenge Trump's lies.   Biden's facts were much more accurate.  He did get personal one time when he called Trump an "alley cat" which was not too far exaggerated.  

Trump was more personal and distracting.  Changed topic to get in more insults and victimizing.  Did refrain from interrupting.  He was always "perfect".  Avoided some questions even when given extra time to do so on climate change, abortion and January 6th.  Really skirted around whether he would respect the election results.

Trump seized  on immigration emphasizing terrorists and drugs.  Overlooking he vetoed a bipartisan proposal that would have greatly minimized the issue.  Also overlooked that America needs immigrants to survive.  Also unaware it seems, that climate change has become a major factor in the desperation displayed by immigrants on many fronts.

In general Trump exaggerated problems of Biden and bragged about his administration well beyond lying.

Trump claimed war in Ukraine would never have started under him.   To me it is obvious that Putin has some hold on him.  The Mueller Report was dishonestly dismissed.  Much material was redacted, but even so many connections were established. and his actions all seemed in line with Putin's goals.  See http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/10/freezing-order.html

Trump claimed he had nothing to do with the war in Israel.   He tried to make a deal with Saudi Arabia without consulting Palestine.  He also moved the US. embassy to Jerusalem again without consulting Palestine. 

The discussion on CNN  and elsewhere was very negative regarding Biden.  He needed to build confidence and failed.

What do you do?  Some are defending on substance and they do have a point and one can hopefully see that voters will see that, but I am very doubtful.  Too many are buying into Trump lies.

Kamala Harris was my first choice during the 2019 Democratic primaries, but she was one of the first to exit.   She defended him agreeing Biden's style was poor, but his substance was good and the alternative is dangerous.   John King thought Kamala had been "kept under wraps", but is quite capable.  Hopefully her scheduled debate will be paid attention as it seems likely the Republican Vice President candidate will be selected for loyalty to Trump.

To me the Democrats need a team approach.  One commentator reminded us that whenever an incumbent is challenged they are more likely to lose the next election.  Ted Kennedy helped Jimmy Carter lose.    Apparently getting on some state ballots has to have been done already.  Bakari Sellers said if the party picked a "white dude" jumping over Kamala Harris (a black woman) there would be strong protests from the Democrats.   A team approach would have to elevate Kamala who has the ability to boost the campaign.  Cabinet ministers, House and Senate leaders. need to be involved.  If Republicans gain more control in Congress we can be sure they will continue and increase obstruction.

Nothing major can be done without co-operation from Joe Biden and perhaps his wife Jill.  If the Republicans are too gleeful about the results of the debate they may get unwanted attention.

It seems the world is tilting to extreme conservatives.  The world desperately needs more progressive leadership regarding climate change and democracy.  Today is very discouraging.  I can only imagine what the Democrats can do, but hopefully (I may be overusing that word) someone will get started in making necessary adjustments.  This is only a first impression.

Wednesday, June 26, 2024

Politics Not Your Bag? Not interested?

As we approach a presidential debate  many people perk up and decide maybe they should pay some attention, but some still don't pay heed. There are enough non- voters to change the results and for those who do vote, but pay little attention make mistakes against their best interest.

Too bad if you are not interested in politics as there are smart people wanting to pick your pockets and change your life style.  Some of it will be very subtle, some might be a news item on some media platform and some might be in the rarely read fine print.  There is also even more likely to be loads of misleading and falsified information readily available.

Have you heard some leaders, especially of the conservative variety promise to do away with regulations.  Perhaps you have no problem identifying rules that bog down businesses.  Have you also heard about environmental rules being dismissed.? How about gun regulations that fail to slow down mass shootings?  Many of the regulations are really protections that businesses find hurting their profits.  See  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/11/when-public-that-means-you-are-lied-to.html 

Did you think the Trump tax reductions had no harmful effects?  Two effects should be noted:  first it increased inequality and second increased the national debt.  Why?  So rich donators could save huge amounts of money and the government would not be able to spread their money for the benefit of the masses (who helped them make their fortunes)

Ronald Reagan said the government is not the solution, it is the problem.  What is needed is educated co-operation to solve real problems.  He also did away with a Fairness policy that the media was supposed to adhere to.  He also was quite proud of beating down a union.  A bit of an explanation:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2024/05/monopolies.html

The Russians and Chinese are very slick and feel just dividing Americans (and other westerners) weakens their opposition. To learn more about Russian influence check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/10/freezing-order.html and check the links for more supporting information.  To learn more about Chinese influence check:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/04/china-unbound.html

Electoral systems are critical to gain power.  As the American declaration of independence was being worked out rich slave owners realized they could be outvoted by the northerners.  The rich, white northerners needed these southerners to strengthen their own fight against the British so they agreed to some of the demands.  They wanted black slaves to count as 3/5 humans allowing a high count for the House of Representatives with each state having two Senators regardless of population.  They also wanted an electoral college to be set up that gave them greater leverage than their population merited.  The result was the first presidents (except for John Adams) were southerners.  In the past couple of decades the higher voter percentage  has  lost to the electoral college (witness Al Gore and Hilary Clinton).

You may have heard of "divide and conquer" the great strategy of colonizers.  They always tried to divide their opposition.  The FPTP (first past the post) system gives the advantage to the plurality winner against the majority.  It is not necessary to get 50% so it can be strategic to try to persuade some segments and ignore others.

The electoral system decided on by those able to do so affects everyone.  A lot of decisions like to go to war or not are binary.  But in reality there are usually more than two views on most issues.  Those who obtained power on the current electoral system will resist change, they in effect have a conflict of interest.  Divide and conquer is a tested method of dealing with opposition and money/power. 

To me climate change is THE mortal threat to mankind and requires sacrifices by everyone to make life bearable.  Far too many ordinary people see only the short term, while some of the wealthy see an opportunity to increase their profits.  Dealing with this problem requires political involvement.

Taxes are resented by all.  In effect they enable the government to provide an infrastructure that benefits everyone, but also they do spread the wealth.   If the resources of the poor are reduced they cannot afford to be profitable consumers and most would expect higher compensation for their labor and many fledgling businesses would never get started.   

How should the responsibility for taxing be divided?  If not perceived as fair many will rebel.  Modern governments realize that people need some sort of minimum to survive and taxes should reflect that wealthier people (who in some ways benefit more from government expenses) can afford to pay a larger share.  Some wealthy people advocate a flat rate meaning the poor would pay a higher percentage of the overall taxes.  Capital gains affect both poor and rich, but honestly the wealthy are more interested.  They argue that investments must be encouraged for society to advance and I agree.    Poor people have improved their lot by investing their resources.  An element of progressive rates should be seen as fair.  It is much more difficult for the poor to spare money for investments and everyone should be encouraged to invest.  Many of the wealthy are able to make most of  their income from capital gains.  When taxable capital gains are added to other income it would be subjected to graduated tax levels.  Dividends offer similar issues with in some cases poor people or charitable institutions relying on them to survive.  A complicated concern to be sure, but if you ignore politics the rules are slanted by those who study politics a little bit more.  Check out some of the links:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/06/the-role-of-taxes.html

Another way of looking at politics is to see it as entertainment as it has most of the elements of your favorite tv. shows.  There are good and bad people, attempts at humor, misleading information, maybe even a little romance.  Bear in mind they are trying to get your vote and you should ask if they deserve it.  Check:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2017/02/politics-as-entertainment.html

Politics certainly can be complicated and some people feel their interests are best served if fewer people pay attention to the details.  If you still don't see any merit in paying attention to politics you shouldn't be surprised at the results.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Welcome to Samdal-ri

After a few years of watching Korean drama series, they seem to fit a pattern.  The first episode is confusing with some things seeming to not make sense.  You may have encountered that sort of thing when you meet a group of new friends.  You don't know their history and it is very easy to make assumptions that turn out differently.  Very often nobody really understands what makes the other group members tick.

Life is full of misunderstandings, some are comical and others tragic.  "Welcome to Samdal-ri" (2023) that has both plus lots of conflicts to spice up the plot.

It may not be apparent near the beginning, but relations that started with the previous generation are very tied to the lead male and female actors.  Three sisters form a support group for each other as well as their mother.  The leading man's relation to the sisters' mother is unique.

Romance stories require some sort of conflict and this one has an unusual history.  Among a group of 5 close friends there are two would be lovers for the leading lady.  There are a few other minor romances to follow.  

An interesting sub plot has to do with dolphins.  Jeujeu Island where most of the action is set, is an island where sea life contributes to the economy.  Dolphins are a concern and one minor character  advocates for the dolphins and becomes a minor romance.

The mysteries gradually unravel and you will find yourself engaged with the plot and character development.   Some of the contributors are described a bit below.

 Cha Yeong-hoon was the director.   He has 10 directing credits and one for director assistants.

Kwan Hye-joo wrote the script.  He has two writing credits.

Ji Chang Wook played the leading man, Cho Yong-pil, a weather forecaster.  He started in musical theatre and is known to most of his own stunts.  He has 28 acting credits.

Shin Hye-sun played the leading woman, Cho Sam-dal.  She has earned a nickname, "Diction Fairy" due to her precise speech.  She has 23 acting credits including "See You in my 19th Life" (2023)  See http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/08/see-you-in-my-19th-life.html

Kim Mi-kyung played Ko Mi-ja, a diver and mother of the three sisters.   She has 76 acting credits including "Secret Sunshine" (2007), "Glove" (2011), "It's Okay not to be Okay" (2021), "Trolley" (2022- 2023), "Doctor Cha" (2023) and "Agency" (2023),  See http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/06/agency.html 

Kang Young-seok played Bu Sag-do, the close friend who also loved the leading lady.  He has 9 acting credits.

Shin Dong-mi played the sister who had been divorced, Cho Jin-dal.  She has 38 credits including "A Hard Day" (2014).

Kang Mi-na played the sister who was a single mother, Cho Hae-dal.  She has played in a number of popular girl bands.  She has 9 acting credits.

Yang Kyung-won played Jeon Dae-yeongthe ex husband of Cho Jin-dal, .  He started with musical theatre.  He has 10 acting credits including "Crash Landing on You" (2019-2020) and "Vincenzo" (2021). See http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/02/crash-landing-on-you-very-addicting.html

Sazal Kim played a store manager and friend to the group.  He was born in Bangladesh and adopted by a Korean couple.  He has 10 acting credits.

Yoon Seo played Bang Eun-ju who created false rumors that forced  Cho Samdal to retreat to Jeujeu.  She has 12 acting credits.  

Available with subtitles on Netflix.  If you like romances, without gratuitous sex and like an interesting plot you will find it worth your while.

Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Two films from far away countries

Sometimes it can be hard to make up your mind.  One movie description seems enticing and while waiting another seems a suitable time filler.  However often enough they are a good pair.  

Netflix isn't the only streaming service I use, but they are pretty good at digging up foreign films that have some meaning for me.  Both these films are sad and tell of human failings.

"Doll House" (2022) is a Filipino movie, but set in Rotterdam, Netherlands and has mostly English dialogue.  A father who had led a bad life, abandoning his wife and child, doing drugs finds his daughter under false pretenses.  He soon is uncovered, but not before he bonds with his daughter.  She thinks he just needs to say he is sorry.  Sad but realistic.

Here are a few contributors.

Marla Ancheta was the director.  She has 6 directing credits and 2 as actress and 2 for writing.

Rona Lean Sales was a key writer.  She has 66 writing credits, 5 for Script and Continuity Department and 4 for editing.

Baron Geisler mirrors that lead character, Rustin he plays.  He was an award winner, but became alcoholic and was involved in sexual assault cases.  He won an award for this film  and contributed to the soundtrack.  He has 85 acting credits.

Althea Ruedas plays the endearing daughter, Yumi who sings off key.  She already has 9 acting credits. 

Phi Palmos plays the gay caretaker.  He has 28 acting credits.

Ricardo Cepeda played Rustin's concerned father who did support.  He has 134 acting credits. 

Moving a little to the west, Malaysia has got festival award attention with a recent film.

"Abang Adik" (2023) is about illegal immigrants trying to fit in  in Malaysia.  Two brothers with the older and more mature one is deaf. They do fight among themselves and they have some outside support.

We in North America are very conscious that illegal immigration is a big concern and are vaguely aware that Europe has a similar problem with Arabs and Africans.  Malaysia would not seem to suffer, but there are plenty of people who see it as a solution to their concerns. Racism is a vicious twist that hurts us all.  With climate change and the prevalence of dictators we can expect more. 

It appears to be a cast and crew combining Taiwanese and Malaysian talent.   Languages include Cantonese, Mandarin,  Malaysian and sign language.  Below are some of the talent responsible.

Lay Jin Ong, director and writer.  He is Malaysian, but has been involved with the Chinese Music Committee.  He has only this one film for directing and writing credits, however also has 3 credits for producing.

Angelica Lee is an executive producer.  She is noted as a singer in Taiwan and Hong Kong.  She speaks 5 languages; Mandarin, Hokkien, Malaysian Cantonese and English.  She has 27 credits for acting 1 for directing and another 1 for writing including "The Thieves" (2012), a Korean film.

Kang Ren Wu plays Abang, the deaf mute, but the one more in charge.  He has 61 acting credits.

Jack Tan plays Adik.  He has 15 acting credits and one for a soundtrack.

Kim Wang Tan plays Ms. Money, a mother like figure in her first film role. 

Kartik Vijay was the cinematographer.  He has 20 cinematography credits and 6 for Camera and Electrical Department plus for additional crew including "Kaminey" (2011), "Manto" (2018),  "The Sky is Pink" my top film for 2019, and "Yeh Ballet? (2020).  See  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2019/12/the-sky-is-pink-my-top-movie-for-2019.html

Two very interesting films from Asia, both available on Netflix. They are both sad, so be prepared.

Saturday, June 15, 2024

Jeff Rubin offers A Map of the New Normal

This is my third blog on a Jeff Rubin book.  I can't say I agree with every thing he says, partially due to the fact that circumstances are always changing.  This book is very disturbing, but perhaps should be considered a wake up call.  A provocative quote near the beginning: "This is a truth overlooked by boiling frogs.  It is hard to identify the moment we pass a threshold."

The spark that started his research was a concern of how the Covid 19 pandemic changed the world.  Of course there were many other factors involved, but the world has profoundly changed.

One factor was the response of so many countries to handle the added financial stress caused by the pandemic.  It was labelled "quantitative easing" which actually means printing more money. At the same time supply chains were severely disrupted and to some extent are still being sorted out.  More critically new supply chains have been developed in new directions.

Oil and natural gas routing has changed due to political factors.  Up until recently America was a dominant partner in oil trade with most purchases being done with U.S. dollars which also meant many countries had a surplus of American money invested in U.S. bonds that were critical for American finances.  

Oil and natural gas were subjected to new pressures.  When Russia invaded Ukraine in 2022, one American response was to sanction much of the Russian economy.  Much of Europe depended on Russian natural gas.  There had been a problem with a pipeline going through Ukraine and planning had changed to another pipeline to skirt around Ukraine.  This other pipeline ran into American sanctions.  Looking for alternative buyers willing to defy American sanctions Russia found China and then India. and then many more.  Russia even found Saudi Arabia willing to invest money into the Russian energy infrastructure.  Another significant development was that many consumers were able to pay with other currencies such as rubles and yuan.  

 In desperation to get energy a lot of environmental projects to deal with climate change have been delayed.  A big part of the strategy is to switch energy to environmentally sources, but a problem is that China not only has a stranglehold on rare minerals needed for electric cars, but also a low cost labor force and has developed a high level of expertise.  

A sensitive issue between the U.S. and China is Taiwan.  An edge Taiwan has is they are the dominant  manufacturer of computer chips and semi-conductors that are critical to both the U.S. and China.  The author suggests that a key part of U.S. strategy is that if China does invade Taiwan they will bomb the key semi conductor plant so the Chinese will not get the expertise.  There are plans to set up a comparable facility in Arizona, but of course the labor costs will be much more.  The West has decided to shift mjch of their manufacturing to low cost  overseas nations.  

Food is also very much affected by the Russian invasion.  Both countries are critical to global production of wheat and other grains.  This has made poorer countries suffer and inclined not go against Russia.  Increased oil prices also increased the cost of reaching market. 

Do you wonder why we are dealing with inflation?  There has been more money chasing fewer goods.  A vicious circle has played a role with workers demanding more money and thereby contributing to inflation and wanting still more money.  Governments are now trying to use quantitative tightening.  While the consumer is being squeezed many corporations are making record profits.

Diplomatically Russia and China are expanding their alliances.  China helped mediate a dispute between Saudi Arabia and Iran, both of which have been supportive of Russia.  The BRICS group (originally Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) is courting many countries such as Iran, Ethiopia,Argentina and Turkey.  Already includes over half the world. China has been a generous lender to poorer countries hand and have gained control of many agriculture and energy sectors. 

Russia had controlled Ukraine for over 400 years.  Large numbers of Russian speakers had settled in the eastern part of the country  Zelensky's first language is Russian--his heavily viewed comedy satire series was in Russian.  Still despite Putin claims the Ukrainians do not want to be part of Russia.  When the Soviet Union broke up Russia was assured the newly independent countries would not join NATO.  Not only was that pledge broken, but countries that were part of the Soviet Union, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have joined.  Russia feels lied to, threatened and unable to accept that millions of people would rather fight them than join them. 

Russian airspace had been used for travel to Asia, but is now blocked,for most western airlines meaning travel from Europe to Asia is more time consuming and expensive.  

Iran felt unfairly treated.  Trump broke the Iran agreement to stop nuclear development.  Then they were even more tightly sanctioned.  Unfortunately Biden was too slow to rectify the situation.  A little of that history helps explain how Iran is against the U.S.  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/10/the-iranian-dilemma.html

When Hamas attacked Israel the purpose was to provoke a reaction from Israel.  Netanyahu responded as predicted and much of the world turned against Israel.  This certainly proved a distraction for critics of Putin.  We do not know how the Palestine situation will turn out

My view is the world will not survive as we have known it unless we all find a way to deal with climate change.  Unfortunately there aren't enough people in power who see this as a priority while vested interests try to maintain their position and even see opportunities to expand.  Sacrifices are required by ALL of us, but too many of us see only the short term. 

The situation is evolving, but the "bad guys" have gained some leverage.  Getting their own finances under control is crucial.  The wealthy are well supported politically (both parties), but their long range interests also involve getting government resources under control.  The wealthy want to curtail services to those less fortunate, but that is a mistake.  The government's money needs to be increased i.e. taxes so it can  be spread around, including paying off debts ad strengthening steps against climate change..

Freedom means little to many if equality is not part of it.  Trump supporters seem to feel the need for a strong leader who gets things done, usually with little thought to full consequences. The Western democracies need to find a way to gain more allies.  Climate change won't wait so there is a very delicate balance of fairly distributing energy and food.  American (and others) will need to understand the need for a global balance.  Their attitude towards immigrants demonstrates they do not.  There is still much waste in energy consumption that could help alleviate the leverage their enemies have.

We in the west are losing.  More people need to recognize the global problems of climate change, pandemic, internet crime, the need for energy etc.  There is much else in Rubin's book that should be considered by more people as we deal with the future.

Here are my two previous blogs about Jeff Rubin's books from oldest to most recent.

http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2012/08/investors-and-environmentalists-should.html

http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/10/jeff-rubin-and-changing-role-of-fossil.html 

Thursday, June 13, 2024

Yukon an opportunity for proportional representation

Yukon Territory is a small, somewhat isolated part of Canada, but it represents a unique opportunity to open up more minds to the advantages of proportional representation.  So far  in bigger jurisdictions vested interests have managed to stymie other efforts.  Recent polls indicate that most voters are unaware of electoral systems that are to be studied by a few of their randomly selected fellow citizens.  The Yukoners through a Citizen's Assembly might not only get a fairer and more effective electoral system for themselves, but also point the way for the rest of us.

The strongest driver for proportional representation are the voters.  A lot of the people with legislative power don't want it and are afraid of it.  Those in power under our First Past The Post system got there under the current rules while at the same time most votes are wasted.  

In Canada your vote only helps the eventual winner.  All other votes accomplish next to nothing.  In Ontario one candidate got 40% of the votes, but got 66% of the legislative seats, meaning that party decides which policies are passed.  In fact only 40% of eligible voters actually bothered to vote.  Some stayed away for laziness or ignorance, but many realized their vote would be wasted.

The territorial government of Yukon has agreed to authorize a Citizen's Assembly to examine electoral systems.  Citizen assemblies are non partisan with its members picked randomly to represent the electorate.  From there they can recommend something fairer.  In British Colombia a similar effort required a 60% threshold to change their electoral system, but they only managed to get 58%.  The Yukon will be up against forces who profit under the present FPTP system.  The opposition includes not only legislative members who got their power under the current FPTP system, but lots (not all) of big business like how they can influence legislation under the status quo.   

How does proportional representation improve the lives of the average voter?  Studies have shown that those who live under their system live longer, have the environment better cared for, have better economies, enjoy reduced inequality and not surprisingly have higher voter turnout.  For proof check: https://www.fairvote.ca/a-look-at-the-evidence/ 

Under proportional representation, voters would have a real choice with a vote that is not wasted.  Politicians would be encouraged to co-operate.   

Yukon is a relatively small populated entity which means we can perhaps funnel more resources to reach a higher percentage of the electorate.  There are approximately 9,000 households and there are many ways to contact them, just need money and volunteers.  Should their efforts result in a proportional representative government they will be a role model for the rest of Canada and the world as well.  As most eligible voters do not know much about how electoral systems affect them they are subject to the views of vested interests.

 See what Fair Vote Yukon is up to  https://fairvoteyukon.ca/  Maybe you can help.

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Heirs to the Land

If you watched "Cathedral of the Sea" you would find "Heirs to the Land" (2022) interesting as it carries on  the "fictional" history of Barcelona in the 14th  and early 15th century.  The Estanyol family is part of the action, but a new generation has arisen.

Both films are from novels by Ildefonso Falcones.  There are a few notable differences.  There are more references to Jews and Moors who are subjected to bigotry.  It seems to me there was more infidelity.  The hero Hugo switches his ambition fro ship building to wine making.  The plot depicts lots of class snobbery, deception, secrets, disappointing love affairs and action.  You will not be bored.

The history stops short of 1492 which was not only the year Christopher Columbus"discovered" North America for Spain, but was also the year that the Spanish monarchy was able to expel all the Jews and Muslims.  Both films portrayed many slaves, mostly European but some Africans.  Today slavery is mostly pictured as something with Southern American whites mistreating African blacks not realizing slavery has a long European history. 

This series attracted an appreciative audience.  Here are some of the people who make it so good.

Jordie Frades was the director and an executive producer.  He has 26 credits as a director, 9 as a producer and 6 as an assistant director including "Cathedral of the Sea" (2018).  See http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2024/05/cathedral-of-sea.html

Ildefonso Falcones wrote the novel and worked on the script.  As a youngster he was a Spanish junior equestrian champion.  He quit shortly after as his father died.  He studied to be a lawyer and did set up a practice in Barcelona.  His first novel took 5 years, but future efforts were done quicker as he spent more time with his real passion of writing.  All his 5 novels were historical fiction.  He has two film credits for writing including "Cathedral of the Sea" (2018).

Rodolf Sirera was a key writer.  He had been involved with theatre for over 40 years including as a playwright, translator and theatre manager.  He is considered a leading Catalan writer.  He has 26 film writing credits including "Cathedral of the Sea" (2018). 

Federico Jusid composed the music.  Born in Argentina his musical career took him all over South and North America and Europe.  He wrote and performed as a pianist for the concert stage.  He has 133 composing and 47 music department credits.  His films include  "The Secret in Their Eyes" (2009), "7 Anos" (2016), "Neruda" (2016), "Twelve Year Night" (2018), "Cathedral of the Sea"  2018) and "Rest in Peace" (2024).  Check  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2016/11/7-anos.html  Unnoticed by me at the time that film also represents Federico's one producing credit and it is one film I have used a story from on several occasions.

Teo Delgado was the cinematographer.  He has 90 cinematography credits and 40 credits for camera and electrical department and 5 as an actor including "Cathedral of the Sea" (2018).

 Frank Gutierrez was the editor.  He has 8 editor credits, 2 editorial department credits and 2 as a producer.

Aitor Luna played the lead character, Arnau from "Cathedral of the Sea" (2018), but here he is killed off in the first episode.  He has 30 acting credits.   

Michelle Jenner plays Mar who was adopted by Arnau in "Cathedral of the Sea.  In this film she lasts two episodes and passes onto the next generations.   In her early days she dubbed foreign films representing kids.  She has 59 acting credits including "Julietta" (2016) and "Money Heist:  Berlin" (2023).

Yon Gonzalez played thee male lead, Hugo Llor.   He is the brother to another cast member Aito Luna, although  they never appeared in the same episode.  He has 23 acting credits.

Elena Rivera played Caterina who went from a Russian slave to one of the leading ladies.  She has 18 acting credits.

Maria Rodriguex Soto played Regina, another leading lady.  She has 26 acting credits and 1 for writing including "100 Metros" (2016).  See http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/10/100-metres.html  

Jesus Carroza played Guerao, a close friend to Hugo.   He has 26 acting credits including "Cell 211" (2009) and "Adu" (2020).

 Rodolfo Sancho played Barnat Estanyol, a descendant of the original lead in "Cathedral of the Sea" (2018).  His godfather Adolfo Suarez had been the Spanish Prime Minister from 1976 to 1981.  Rodolfo has 57 acting credits. 

Available on Netflix subtitled.  A good watch.  

Saturday, June 8, 2024

Conservative Christians as Trump Enablers

"Choosing Donald Trump" was written by Stephen Mansfield in 2017 after the 2016 election.  He seems to have mixed feelings about Donald Trump, but is an ideal person to explain how Trump was able to capture the Evangelical part of the American electorate of 2016.  Stephen has written numerous books including a few dealing with religious involvement of a few American presidents.

Donald Trump seems to be the most un Christian president of all time.  His behavior and misquoting the Bible would normally make him an outcast among church goers.  He had been made aware of the crucial role of Evangelical voters.  

He had been sent to a Military Academy supposedly to teach him some humility.  Surprised (or maybe not) to learn  Playboy with its philosophy made its way to the young students.  One aspect of the school was that new students had to endure extreme humiliation. from the seniors.  He learned from a sports coach how to deal with that and those strategies endured his whole life.  Attack the attackers.

 His formal education included the Wharton School of Economics.  The author points out that Trump already knew as much about his specialty, real estate as most of the professors.  The author suggests Trump wanted the prestige

With his father's guidance he developed a strategy that started with identifying neglected properties, fixing them up, seeking higher class tenants and advertising.

Norman Vincent Peale was a family friend.  With his "The Power of Positive Thinking" he impressed Fred Trump who took his family to Marble Collegiate Church to hear the uplifting sermons.  Peale catered to Wall Street crowd and was against the New Deal.  Trump's first marriage was officiated by Peale and his two sisters also were married there.  Both parents had their funeral services performed there.

In 2002 Trump had been attracted to a tv program about Paula White which emphasized the importance of vision, a topic Trump was interested in and thought she had the best perspective.  Hard to say what motivated each partner.  Perhaps she saw an opportunity to bring a high profile celebrity to her fold.  Perhaps he saw her as a vehicle to expand his contacts for a long range project.  Over time they did get together.  Her brand of open minded religion and self improvement appealed to an increasing congregation.  She brought Trump to meet with a wide range of religious leaders.  In 2015 as he was fine-tuning his plans for the presidency he asked for her help.  She brought him in contact with the Evangelicals, but also Catholic and Orthodox leaders and even some Jewish religious leaders.

From there he learned of one of their pet grievances.  Back in 1954 Lyndon Johnson had become incensed  about that tax exempt institutions were intruding on political decisions and managed to puch legislation which is known as the Johnson Amendment to punish with loss of tax exemption if they attempted to influence political issues or endorse political candidates.  It was not targeted at churches, but they soon fell under its jurisdiction.  Many voters agreed churches should stay out of politics, but religious leaders felt a moral imperative to guide government decisions.

From some of the Evangelicals he learned the central role Jerusalem played in their aims.  A Biblical interpretation maintained that there would be a second coming, but only if the Jews controlled the most holy city of Jerusalem.

Abortion was abhorrent to many of the religious leaders.  There were many non religious affiliated people who also were repelled by abortion.

Barack Obama was abhorred for his stand on abortion including insisting that his medical health plan had to include abortion.and towards the end of his presidency he promoted same sex marriage.  Hilary Clinton was an even more strong advocate for both abortion and gay rights. 

 Evangelicals are not blind to Trump's many faults and many strive to rationalize that he was most likely to achieve some of their objectives.  One thought was that he was like Cyrus the Great who achieved Biblical approval despite being considered an idolator as he helped free up Jews to go back to Israel. 

 The author is not a fan of Trump quoting him:  "When you are in business you need to get even with people who screw you.  You need to screw them back...go for the jugular; attack them in spades."  Many comments are made about Trump's un Christian behavior which the author does not approve of.  On the other hand he seems to be pleased with some of Trump's religious agenda.

Mike Pence is not mentioned, but obviously was a reassuring partner for on the edge evangelicals.  When he wouldn't support Trump's plans to overcome election results he was dispensable.  

Once in power Trump did move the American Embassy to Jerusalem.  He also was able to appoint conservative Supreme Court judges to reverse the Roe versus Wade rulings.  He tried to negate the Johnson Amendment, but was stymied.

 Our current election campaign is already giving an ideal Evangelical agenda which is concerned about contraception and some suggest they would like to reverse same sex marriages.  As I write this post Trump has been solidifying his Evangelical support after his guilty verdict which many vehemently denounce.  A song has been written to declare that he is the "Chosen One".   Trump claimed the whole trial was "bullshit" and surprisingly many believers chanted the same word out loud.

A progressive agenda is under assault not only by bigots, but the general population turned off by excesses.  Our education system may counteract some of this, but they are under assault as well.  The most conservatives had already identified education as one of their tools.  See http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2024/05/monopolies.html

 We can't blame the Trump disaster all on the Evangelicals as he cultivated other enablers  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2017/07/trump-enablers.html

Thursday, June 6, 2024

Maidaan-- More than a Sports Story

"Maidaan" (2024) starts with a lop sided soccer game with heavy rain at the Helsinki Olympics.  Soon we see a board of directors talk of firing the coach, Syed Abdul Rahim. They feel he is responsible for the disaster.  He responded if he is responsible he should have been responsible for selecting the players.  The players needed to have shoes, play 90 minute games and be chosen not for connections.  

He is soon confronted by a pompous newspaper publisher who mocks the results.  Syed asks if the critic is familiar with rock n roll and after a stunned look points out that Elvis Presley answered his critics that they shouldn't criticize what they don't understand.  This blunt talk offends the publisher who carries on a vendetta for several years.

A good part of the movie shows us a typical coach who tries to instill a feeling of being part of a team.  In India there were some outstanding talent that were more interested in putting on a show.  He advised talented players to be successful they need to focus.  On one segment he demonstrated the critical importance of passing.

He is on the road most of the time, but he does have a loving family.  He encourages his wife to speak English, partly by giving her books.  His son has an interest in soccer.  

I find smoking in films distasteful, but here they played it differently.  Syed was a smoker, but over time he went from a slight cough to eventually painfully struggling with lung cancer.   See http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/06/smoking-and-movies.html

We see numerous games that are well shot.  Syed has many ups and downs and even gets fired (unfairly).  At one point the Indian government cuts off funds for a trip to the Asian Games in Jakarta, but Syed is able to negotiate a compromise.   While there, they are attacked by a mob and only rescued by the military.  At the end of the film we are shown the actual players at the time plus up dated videos of the same players today (two in wheelchairs). 

A political note is that Israel and Taiwan were not allowed to compete.

This is a big budget film with money well spent.  Filming started in 2019, but was interrupted by the Covid pandemic.  The label "sports film" does not nearly do justice to its scope.  It looks to me like one of my top films for the year and here are a few of the personnel who made it such a memorable film.

Amit Ravindernath Sharma directed the film.  Before films he was well established as a commercials director.  Between 2005-2015 he directed 900 advertisements winning some awards for socially appropriate ads.  He has 6 credits as a director and 6 as a producer including for "Badhaai Ho" (2018).   See http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/03/badhaai-do-lgbt-film-from-conservative.html

Akash Chawla was part of the writing team as well as a producer.  He has 11 credits as producer and 3 for writing including "Rustom" (2016) and "Secret Superstar" (2017).

Saiwyn Quadras was another member of the writing team.  He has 4 credits as a writer and 1 as a producer including "Mary Kom" (2014) and "Neerja" (2016).

Boney Kapoor was a key producer.  He has 34 credits as a producer including "Mr India" (1967) and "Mom" (2017).  He also obtained the Tamil and Telgu rights for a favorite film of mine, "Pink" (2016) and did produce them.  see http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2016/11/pink-sensitive-film-to-deal-with-consent.html

A.R. Rahman provided the music.  He had done commercial jingles when Mani Ratman invited him to write for a film "Roja" (1992).  I had not realized that Rahman wrote for the Tamil market, but has expanded to Bollywood,  American, English etc.  With the encouragement of  Andrew Lloyd Webber he wrote for a stage musical, "Bombay Dreams" that had long runs in both London and New York.  He has 201 composing credits and 81 for the music department (often backup singer) including "Bombay" (1995), "Fire" (1996), "Lagaan Once Upon a Time in India" (2001), "Swades" (2004), "Water" (2005), "Rang de Basanti" (2006), "Ghajini" (2008), "Slum Dog Millionaire" (2008), "Jab Tak Hai Jaan" (2012), "Highway" (2014), "100 Foot Journey" (2014) and "Tamasha" (2015).    Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2022/07/the-making-of-lagaan-chale-chalo-lunacy.html  Elsewhere Rahman had commented that he often gives producers a difficult time in order to get what he wants and feels the film benefits. 

 Tushar Kanti Ray was the cinematographer.  He has 17 credits for cinematography including "The Japanese Wife" (2010), "Shor in the City" (2010), "Dhobi Ghat" ((2010), "Midnight's Children" (2012), "D-Day" (2013), "Khoobsurat" (2014),"Te3n" (2016) and "Lucknow Central" (2017).

Dev Rao Jadhav was an editor  He has 17 editing credits including "Badhaai Ho" (2018), "Jaadugar" (2022) and "Kaali Paani" (2023).  See http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/10/kaali-paani.html

Shahnawaz Mosani is listed as sports editor which probably means he was brought in to handle the game action which were enjoyably well done.  He has 9 credits for visual effects and 4 for editing including "Don 2" (2011), "Talash" (2012), Barfi" (2012) "Ek Aaur Main Ekk" (2012) and "Agneepath" (2012).

Vaibhav Vishant was the casting director.  He formed a company called Anti-Casting with the idea that type casting for films, web series and tv. commercials.  He has 41 casting credits and 39 casting department credits including "Haider" (2014), "PK" (2014), "Mimi" (2011), "Shiddat? (2021), "Jaadagar" (2022), "Kaali Panni" (2023) and "Maamia Legal Hai" (2024).  See http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2015/03/pk.html

Ajay Devgn played Syed Abdul Rahim   His original family name was Devgan, but he was advised to change to Devgn.  He has been very busy as an actor (136 credits), but also as a producer  (25 credits) and director (3 credits).  His film credits include "The Legend of Bhagat Singh "(2002), "Raincoat" (2004),  "Once Upon a Time in Mumbai" (2010), "Atithi Tum Kab Jaoge" (2010), "Shivaay" (2016), "The Family Man" (2016), "Gangubai Kathiawadi" (2022), "Maamia Legal Hai" (2022), "RRR" (2022)  see   http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/02/drishyam-2-signifies-new-global-movie.html

Priyamani played the wife who is supportive, but expresses her concern for the way he treats their son.  She has 67 film credits in Telegu, Malayalam and Hindi including "Grandmaster" (2012),"Virata Parvam (2022). and "The Family Man" (2016)   see  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/03/the-family-man.html

 Gajraj Rao played the obnoxious publisher.  As a child his parents worked for the Indian Railways and moved a lot allowing him to mimic different dialects.  He has 34 acting credits including for "Bandit Queen" (1994), "Dil Se" (1998)"No Smoking" (2007), "Aamir" (2008), "Rangoon" (2017), "Badhaii Ho" (2018) and "Made in China" (2019).

Purnendu Bhattacharya played the doctor who have the lung cancer diagnosis.  He has 33 acting credits including "No One Killed Jessica" (2011), "Thappad" (2020), "Jaadagar" (2022) and "Chor Nikal Ke Bhaga" (2023).  See http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2020/05/thappad-or-in-english-slap.html

This story clocks in at just over 3 hours, and I recommend you watch the end credits.  Available subtitled on Prime.

 I have bolded the first mention of films I have seen.  Note that the links are to noteworthy films.

Monday, June 3, 2024

Little Women a Korean version

A confession:  I am not familiar with the original "Little Women" but have been assured there are a few borrowed elements, however there are some critical unique differences.  

The action switches from Seoul to Singapore with some flashbacks to the war in Vietnam.  A key element is Vietnam and the South Korean participation in it.  The series is banned in Vietnam.

Greed plays a prominent role with the rich or want to be rich people pursuing a staggering amount of money, but also the poor who are sorely tempted when they get involved.   In their pursuit of riches some characters exhibit cruelty.  Another element missing from the original is action.

It is a very engaging series and here are some of the key people.  

Kim Hee-won has 8 directing credits, 2 for assistant directing and one for producing including "Crash Landing on You" ((2019-1020) "Vincenzo" (2021) and "Queen of Tears" (2024).  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2024/05/queen-of-tears.html

Chung Seo-kyung wrote the script.  She has been associated with fthe amous director Park Chan-Wook, often co-writing scripts, but she also writes scripts on her own.  She has 10 writing credits  including "Thirst" (2009), "The Handmaiden" (2016) and "Decision to Leave" 2022).  Check   http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/02/decision-to-leave.html

 Kim Go-eun played Oh in-joo, the oldest sister.  While growing up her family lived in Beijing, China where she learned to speak Mandarin. She has 17 acting credits.

Nam Ji-hyun played Oh in-kyung, the journalist sister.  She has a degree in psychology.  She has 26 acting credits including "Tunnel" (2016)

Park Ji-ho played Oh in-hye, the youngest sister and artistic which plays a role.  She had 13 acting credits.

Wi Ha-joan played Choi Do-il a possible romantic interest, but definitely a wheeler dealer in money laundering.  He grew up on an abalone farm.  He has 22 acting credits and 1 for camera and electrical department including "Squid Game" (2021).  Check http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/10/squid-game.html

Um Ki-joon played Park Jae-sang, a politician with murderous tendencies  He was once noted for musical theatre.  He has 21 acting credits.

Um Ji-won played Won Sang-a,  the politican's wife and the daughter of prominent General.  She almost the personification of evil.  She has 33 acting credits including "The Good, the Bad, the Weird" (2008) and  "Hope" (2013).  Check:  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2016/11/hope-gut-wrenching-film-from-korea.html

Gong Min-jung played ChoiMe-ri played a meddling reporter.  She has 25 acting credits including "Hometown Cha-Cha Cha" (2021).  Check  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2021/10/hometown-cha-cha-cha-another-delightful.html

Jang Gwang, a noted charater actor played Jang Sa-pyeong, a former military leader.  He has 60 acting credits including ""Silenced" (2011), "Masquerade" (2012), "Along with the Gods:  The Two Worlds" (2017) and "Trolley" (2021-2022).  See  http://www.therealjohndavidson.com/2023/02/the-trolley.html

 This series features great acting, beautiful scenery and a complex plot.  Available dubbed or subtitled on Netflix.