Social networking makes you a liar?


Image representing Twitter as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

Social networking devices, such as Twitter and Facebook, are a daily part of people’s routines, which makes me wonder: how does it affect your honesty? Integrating your Facebook, blog, Twitter account, with all of your other social networking profiles (which we are all encouraged to do), means that we are more easily traceable across the Internet.

So, if someone turns down an invite to that “really cool block party” tonight because they’re “poorly in bed”, then later tweets about what a good time they are having somewhere else, the person who invited them to that block party immediately knows it was a lie. If you tell your boss you’re sick, forget you have them on your friends list, then you update your Facebook status about what a great time you’re having at Thorpe Park, you are immediately busted. Because of this, the ease of obtaining information, anyone with common sense knows either to hide their lies, or elaborate on the truth.

Even I have been caught out before, and I like to think I’m a bit savvier than that. I was never stupid enough to bad-mouth my previous boss anywhere on the Internet, or anything on parr with that. Mine was simple, I wasn’t answering someone’s calls or texts, but was active online, this lead them to realise I wasn’t too busy, or asleep, it meant I just didn’t want to contact them. But technically I never lied to them, I just ignored. Is that really so bad? Just because I want to reply to a few things online, doesn’t mean I want to answer a phone call right now.

I think it’s perfectly acceptable to tell someone truthfully that I’ve been too busy to do a certain thing, but also don’t care if they Internet stalk me and find out I’m not too busy to send a quick tweet or reply to a comment on Facebook. I mean, who do people think they are, the cyber police? I try to always be honest, so if I belatedly reply to an email, I don’t excuse it with “I’ve been too busy” (unless that’s the truth), usually it’s just a case of wanting to be in the right mind-state or focus to reply adequately rather than rushing it before my daily film/TV fix. I could try hard to please everybody, reply with super-quick insincere paragraphs, but that would be false.

I realise this post makes me sound arrogant, in reality I don’t receive tonnes of phone calls, or have “fans” monitoring my online activity to see if I haven’t replied in 0.02 seconds, but I think we all know a couple of people who get touchy about your online whereabouts, and how it relates to their own ego. My point is that, despite the Internet creating the need to sometimes lie and say we’re just too busy, rather than “I don’t want to talk to you right now”, it also forces us to avoid blatant lies that would get us in trouble.

I just think we shouldn’t have to lie, it should be acceptable to be in the mood to tweet or update, but be too busy/not in the mood to reply to a certain email, answer a phone call, or update something else at that same time.

That leaves me with a couple of questions: 1) Has anyone ever queried you about your online activity versus the real world? 2) Have you ever been caught out in an online lie? 3) When you make excuses to people, are they genuine? 4) To what extent are you honest online?

Censoring the Internet? Now?

The eye for the final series of Celebrity Big ...

Image via Wikipedia

China have been slated internationally for their harsh censorship of the Internet; blocking sites for hours at a time, and some completely, when it suits their political or “ethical” agendas. Google has been at the epicenter of these disputes, with the US company defending against China’s over zealous censorship. But this time the US are responsible. The Senate proposes a law which forces Internet service providers to block certain websites. “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA)”

Due to the vague nature of the law, pertaining copyrighted material, and insinuating that the list can be added to at authorities’ discretion, even sites such as Youtube could be targeted. This stinks of bad karma, seeing as Youtube recently won a court case against Viacom. This means that Youtube can operate, under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), providing they remove any copyrighted material they are informed of, and regulate accordingly. Fair is fair.

Copyright isn’t the real issue here though, I am not arguing the ethics of crediting owners, or intellectual property theft. My point is that blocking whole sites, just because a few people misuse them, is complete censorship, Internet Tyranny, as oppose to appropriate regulation.

Are we all going to be subject to Green Dam censorship software? Is Big Brother watching our every move? Is censorship going too far, and will it spread like an epidemic?

All these questions are things we will eventually need to consider, literally or not. I remain cynical about the motives of complete censorship, and doubt that ethics are the main factor, rather political reasons. I agree more with justifiable regulation that does not breach our personal freedoms. Read more and help out using the link below.

Sign the online petition please, it only takes a few seconds: http://demandprogress.org/blacklist/coica

Erm dude, where’s your skin? Cabin Fever 2 and American Movie

American Movie

Image via Wikipedia

Cabin Fever 2 was just what I expected; boring, amateur, and dragged on too long. That having been said, the animation/cartoon snippets in the title sequence and at the end were very good. I also liked the gore, and enjoy seeing bratty High School teens die (who doesn’t?).

The best part by far was Mark Borchardt as Herman the cab driver. At first I thought I was going mad imagining that it was him, but no it’s definitely Borchardt from American Movie (you have to see it if you haven’t already, truly one of the most hilarious films).

In Cabin Fever 2 he just basically plays himself, he is such a character in reality. “Dude” being the most heavily used word in his vocabulary. He belongs in way more movies, don’t you think?

You think Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is just hype?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Image via Wikipedia

I deliberately resisted reading the whole book before watching; I read enough chapters to love the book, but avoid clouding my judgement of the film. I was hoping for another Swedish gem, something I could enjoy as much as I loved Let The Right One In (not the remake).

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (“Män som hatar kvinnor“), was directed by Niels Arden Oplev and based on Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. I loved the story telling within the film, the tale itself is irresistible, as is the heroine Lisbeth Salander (played by Noomi Rapace). But again that is mainly credit to the book, not necessarily the filmmakers.

I admit the film was atmospheric, held my attention, and the story seduced me. But some chunks of the tale felt like they were included only to appease the book’s fans. For example, we probably didn’t need such routine intervals of Lisbeth’s past. Her past is vital of course, it grants context, but so much of it added nothing to the plot, and felt like it was there just to break the pacing between sub-plot and main-plot.

We could have instead been teased with briefer hints and flashes to her past. But I suppose they wanted to find a balance between her tortured past and tortured present. It felt too prescribed, too calculative, trying too hard to force us to see everything of what she is, rather than letting us interpret. I suppose I found it mildly patronising.

I was not offended by the more graphic scenes, which I won’t reveal as I don’t like spoilers. I actually liked the fact that she was portrayed as a strong, independent female. Her dynamic with the journalist Mikael Blomkvist (played by Michael Nyqvist) was effective, and there wasn’t anything startling wrong with the film. It just wasn’t everything I had hoped for.

I should refer back to the film I mentioned before. Hoyte Van Hoytema was responsible for the cinematography in Let the Right One In, his style is subtle but irresistible. Whereas The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, despite not being poorly filmed, certainly had no distinctive style or anything visually new to offer.

I think The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo is living proof that the books are always better than the film. But I am glad they made it into a film, because it means more people are encouraged to read the books, which I have found to be excellent. I would recommend watching this film, but don’t do so if you’re expecting something groundbreaking or revolutionary.

Eat shit? The Human Centipede

Promotional poster for The Human Centipede (Fi...

Image via Wikipedia

One of my best friends, Marie, stayed over this week and watched The Human Centipede (directed by
Tom Six) with me.

The worst (best) part was Dr Heiter, played by Dieter Laser. He was truly creepy looking, and his acting made you feel like perhaps he was this scary in reality too. The film was about his being a surgeon; he used to separate conjoined twins, but then becomes fixated with joining living things.

Naturally, this leads to his ideal of a human centipede, connected by sewing their mouths to each others butts, so that they share one digestive track. Implausible in the long-term, and hilarious, so I was glad when one of the three victims died from infection. That was the most medically accurate part.

The film was not scary, but hilarious. I just couldn’t stop laughing at what idiots the characters are. One of the two female leads had the chance to escape, but hides instead of smashing the window to escape straight away. And the Japanese guy, played by Akihiro Kitamura, who is also a captive, actually stabs Dr Heiter with a scalpel, but only in the foot and leg. He goes crazy and bites him, but instead of using his chance to kill the crazy Doctor, or knock him unconscious at least, he chooses to just attempt to run away (difficult with two girls surgically attached).

I had no real sympathy for the characters because their survival instincts were poor, I like it when characters truly try their best and are beaten down, but these three were mainly moronic and therefore deserved it. The very few chances they had to escape they wasted completely.

As ridiculous as this film was, it’s worth watching because it’s one of the funniest films I’ve seen in a long time, and wasn’t too badly shot.

What’s the most expensive object you’ve ever touched?

Moche Ear Ornaments. 1-800 AD. Larco Museum Co...

Image via Wikipedia

It has to be an object, not housing or actual money.

I just held a £12,000 ring in my hands, and I’m not sure if it’s the most expensive thing I’ve held. I’ve probably touched more expensive art work or museum pieces, maybe even other jewellery I have forgotten, because none of it is my own.

So, what is the most valuable object you have ever touched or held?

The Wolfman, Ruthbug’s Review

The Wolfman (2010 film)

Image via Wikipedia

I’ve decided to at last review The Wolfman, directed by Joe Johnston.

It lacked the charm of older supernatural movies, but offered a modern take, and the atmosphere was mildly reminiscent of Sleepy Hollow.

Emily Blunt and Benicio Del Toro made great performances, and had obvious chemistry. Needless to say Anthony Hopkins was on usual top form.

Best Parts: 1) In the forest when Del Toro (in wolf form) catches up with the gentleman stuck in a bog, the man tries to shoot himself in the head before Del Toro kills him painfully, but there are no bullets left, so he has his head savagely sliced off by the wolfman.

2) I loved the trippy montage within the asylum.

Visually impressive, well cast and atmospheric, but it didn’t grip my attention the whole time, and I am still trying to work out exactly why. It felt like there was an ingredient missing, or perhaps it was just too long, like not enough butter stretched over too much bread. The plot twists did not feel very surprising, and I do not think the film offered anything new to me. Still, I don’t have any serious complaints, and think it’s worth watching.

Rate my review on IMDB: Click here

Multiple personalities and Shelter

Shelter (2009 film)

Image via Wikipedia

[contains mild spoilers]

It’s nearly 4am and I can honestly say I haven’t been this spooked by a film in a long time. I just watched Shelter (2010), directed by Måns Mårlind and Björn Stein. And written by Michael Cooney.

Julianne Moore, whom I adore, plays a forensic psychiatrist whose patient (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) has multiple personality disorder…or so she thinks.

The fact that each of his multiple ‘personalities’ are that of actual murder victims, causes her to question herself. An inward battle between science and religion reigns as she tears through experimentation and research, finding nothing that makes sense to her.

What starts out as a psychological thriller becomes supernatural horror, which was quite interesting as it works as both. Some people complained about the ‘switch’, but in actuality there was no transition needed; it was always evident that this was more than just a man with multiple identities. Maybe some people are just a little slow in the brain tank. The filmmakers even showed the supernatural darkness very early on in the plot, leaving no doubt in anyone’s mind other than Julianne Moore herself.

I was impressed with Jonathan Rhys Meyers’s handling of the multiple roles, especially when he had to behave as a little girl crying after her wounded mother. He had the hardest task of balancing the many characters that made his part.

The film had a subtle style which never intruded on the plot; every voice over or scene transition was smooth, and the music haunting in all the places it needed to be. I did wonder why only the spine was fully changed when each of Meyers’s identities switched, whereas everything else was left the same, but I guess that doesn’t need to be explained. The convenient thing about supernatural genres is that they minimise the need to explain what is synonymously unexplainable, or without reason.

8/10 is a very fair rating I think. But I wonder if maybe I was only so jumpy during because I am sleep deprived, and alone in a cold dark house.

Rate my review on imdb.com: click here

Seven Deadly Sins, I must be purified

Last night I knocked back a few gins and stumbled across Seven Deadly Sins, the Canadian mini TV series that first aired on Lifetime Movie Network. Set in two parts, it’s meant to be based on the popular Seven Deadly Sins novels Lust, Greed, Envy, Wrath, Gluttony, Sloth and Pride by Robin Wasserman.

I have to admit I was expecting to hate it, and part of me does. But overall I just can’t resist the comedic indulgence into their teenage “highschool” dramas; love triangles/pentagons/octagons, especially where the twists got dark. If I had been the director I would have loved to have made it darker, like when *censored* character dies, I would have them haunt deliciously like in a Japanese horror movie.

Rachel Melvin was great as Kaia, and Dreama Walker worked well as Harper Grace. Overall Seven Deadly Sins was well cast, nicely made and paced, and it isn’t trying to be anything that it is not.

If I had to sum up the mini series with one description  I would say it’s a very loose hybrid of Mean Girls meets Murder by Numbers. Remember I said very loosely! This is really not my usual style, but it’s worth a watch when there’s time to kill and you’ve had a few drinks.

Rate my review on IMDB: Click here

Cannibals and Snowboarders

Today I watched Scarce (2008), directed by Jesse T. Cook and John Geddes, a film about a group of snowboarders on vacation. During a snow storm they are forced to seek refuge, but little did they know they are safer out in the storm. The people who grant them refuge are cannibals, surviving on what they ‘hunt’ throughout the winter.

Overall a pointless film with a very slow start, but the effects were cool, especially because it was on a low budget. I mean, of course I only watched it for the blood; I wouldn’t sit down and watch a film with that premise if I were looking for an intellectually challenging experience.

Rate my review on IMDB: Click here

Doctors and dentists with HIV/AIDs

Abacavir - a nucleoside analog reverse transcr...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s something I’ve looked into before, but I found an interesting article tonight:

Click here to see

I have deep sympathy for anyone that contracts the disease, but particularly those who simply could not prevent it; rape victims, babies born with it, etc. What makes matters more complex is when someone within Healthcare has this disease. As stated in the article I linked, there are regulations on declaring positive test results, and prohibitions when it comes to surgeries, sutures, and any situation that may pose a risk of transmission.

In short, it is not legal to fire a doctor or dentist for having HIV or AIDs, but their career is effectively over nonetheless. What a terrible thing for them, to have gone through so much schooling and hardship only to be brought down by a disease. In any other walk of life they may continue relatively as normal; because improved medication generally means a higher quality of life, and the delay of full-blown AIDs stemming from testing HIV positive.

But it is necessary, for others safety, that transmission risks are minimised. I must admit I would prefer to be treated by a doctor or dentist whom was not HIV positive, and it would be nothing against the person. A disease shouldn’t dehumanise anyone. I just know that if I were HIV positive I would never want to risk infecting others, and would certainly never want anyone to infect me either.

The best thing anyone can do is protect others, ourselves, and encourage the progression of medical research.

End of my boring rant.

Black Dynamite, you jive turkey!

Cover of "Black Dynamite"

Cover of Black Dynamite

Black Dynamite (2009), directed by Scott Sanders, stars Michael Jai White as 1970’s action star Black Dynamite. When his brother is killed by drug dealers, he instigates a campaign of action and violence, opening a can of kick-ass on all of the local dealers to uncover whom was responsible.

Oozing with 70’s style, this homage to blaxploitation movies will have all of you jive turkeys booming with laugher, and wishing, just wishing, that you had your own soundtrack like he does. “Dynamite! Dynamite!” every time he enters a shot to do something awesome.

With the boom mic deliberately left in shots for comedic effect, and the hugely exaggerated facial expressions of the cast, you can’t help but laugh with them, and imagine how much fun the film must have been to make. For anyone still making Chuck Norris jokes, forget it, Black Dynamite knocks them out of the water.

Salli Richardson-Whitfield is wonderful as Gloria, Black Dynamite’s love interest. She has always been very good in anything I’ve seen her in. One of my favourite lines was where she disdainfully highlights how men think they can win a woman over with a wink and a smile, so Black Dynamite winks. She sardonically inquires where the accompanying smile is, and he says “I am smiling”, whilst his face is as serious as a funeral attendee.

Definitely worth watching, and made even better if it’s with a couple of beverages and friends on a Friday night.

Rate my review on IMDB: Click here

‘Knots’ – By R.D. Laing

(Sorry for posting so much today, keep finding old bits on my computer that never got published)

I read a really good psychology book today (March 19th, 2008): ‘Knot’s by R.D. Laing. Some parts I felt were sexist, but a lot of the book is cynical, insinuative, and intelligently ironic, so I concluded that maybe the ‘sexism’ was in fact just mocking sexism…thereby rendering it free of sexism. It’s a book full of delightful moderate contradictions, and explores the cycles of thought in a typical human mind, it does so through poetry and formulas of wording. It’s basically a case of ‘she knows that he knows that we know that they know that he doesn’t know that they know’

The Bothersome Man

"Den brysomme mannen" DVD cover.

Image via Wikipedia

I watched ‘The Bothersome Man’ (‘Den brysomme mannen’), directed by Jens Lien, quite a while ago, but it stuck with me. These are just my thoughts on it, not a conventional review. (Contains spoilers)

I was impressed by the way the film’s surrealism juxtaposed the very deliberately superficial depiction of reality. The satirical element of the film appears almost to exaggerate the day-to-day monotony of both professional and domestic routine, transforming emotional coldness into emotionlessness, the characters’ wants into complete materialism, and rendering human functions such as eating, drinking and fornication into meaninglessness tasks without pleasure, but with an acknowledgement of the idea of what ‘pleasure’ may be. This would seem to counteract the ideals of hedonism, but actually it appears to depict that the character’s are in fact extremely hedonistic; seeking beauty and luxuries, but that they have merely lost the ideas of what values lie beneath things…the characters seem so preoccupied with the idea of pleasure that they have forgotten what it is to feel it.

This reflects a lot of my own thoughts about reality; that everything is just an idea, and we apply our own meanings, which exist in a rather arbitrary function.
The main character, upon arriving in the city by bus with no memory of how he got there, has his new life laid out before him. Initially the perspectives and reactions of those around him have an impact on him; their normalising of the situation in which he finds himself. He is befuddled into compliance. They introduce him to his new job, apartment, and whole life, plaguing him with inquiries as to his level of comfort, offering him further materialistic elements to assist in his settling in; coffee, more breaks at work, a better desk chair perhaps?
Every piece of dialogue from the characters representing the majority consists of small-talk; what sofa would look nice in our living room? Isn’t that nice? The main character mentions a dream he had to his newfound wife, his attempts at emotional connection obvious, and she silences him as if offended. He realises that he is very different from those around him, all but the man he heard early on talking about how everything tasted of nothing when it once had, and so he seeks this man, finally understanding the implications of his words.
The main character even deliberately instigates an affair, cheating on his wife with a colleague as much in desperate want of emotional connection and passion as to induce negative variants of such in his wife. He realises that both the subject of his affair and his spouse have no real emotion whatsoever, merely complacency and ambivalence.
The parts I found most comical included the lack of sufficient emotional response from his wife; for example, when he informs her he is leaving her and she replies with ‘But we have a dinner party on Saturday, are you leaving before then?’ and when he tells her he is in love with somebody else she merely says ‘Why?’ her face blank as she sips tasteless wine. But the most hilarious of all was after he attempted suicide on the train tracks, but impossibly fails, and is driven home by the mysterious caretakers of the city. He enters, one eye completely crushed, his entire flesh coated with blood and injury, and she gazes at him as if blind to it all and inquires whether he would like to go Go-Carting on Saturday, ‘That would be wonderful’ he breathes helplessly.
I think the reason he was able to find pleasure by the end of the film, which was depicted by him stealing a slice of real cake with real taste from beyond the city, is because he retained a memory of what pleasure really was, the meaning behind it and the feeling, as oppose to merely the idea of it. His escape from the ‘reality’ of the city was through a lot of hardship, for which he required stamina, something the male who spoke of tastelessness in the beginning did not have. One of the ‘morals’ of the tale was that having everything you ‘need’ materially, is not the same as having emotional experiences and ideals, and that real happiness cannot come merely from owning an expensive apartment with attractive interior design, and being able to afford luxuries. So in essence, the film informs the viewer that the hardships and struggles in life are necessary to obtain happiness, rather than clinging to false ideas of perfection.

At one part of the film a man is shown impaled on an iron fence, having committed suicide by jumping from a window. The main character stares with fascination as pedestrians walk by unaffected, and the caretakers of the city approach to remove the body. As they remove him from the fence his intestines slide from his body onto the path, this added gore is not for the sake of ‘horror’, but instead truth, and the obliviousness of the pedestrians is almost deliberate, as if they see only what they want to see, which in many ways reflect the world you and I live in. If there is a suicide on a tube the announcement heard is never ‘We are sorry, there is a delay because sometimes decided they want out of this shit hole so they threw their body in front of the train, allowing it to be crushed to death’, instead it’s usually ‘We are sorry, there is a delay due to a fatality at Holborn’ and then the staff scrub up the blood and carry away the body parts, so as not to offend all of our innocent eyes. This is not a perfect world and it never will be…perfection can never exist because it exists in so many forms in so many minds, and there is no way to please everybody. Perfection is just an idea.

The world just agrees to a set of codes used for communication, a set of rules used for social acceptability and ideals that can be commonly shared…anyone deviating from these will be punished, ridiculed or declared insane (or at least ‘weird’).
If only we could all just be aware of how truly absurd everything is, we could all live much more harmoniously with one another. I am aware completely of the pointlessness of life, yet I still do things knowing that, because no matter what I do or do not do it will not change the facts. Everyone works to live and lives to work, we surrender to human bodily function every time we eat, drink or go to the toilet. Cleaning the dishes means they will be dirtied again and washed again in a cycle that can only be broken if you either do not use dishes or you employ a cleaner to do it for you. Everything is a cycle; not just the cycles of the moon or women’s menstruation, but life itself: Be born, live, reproduce, die. We are no different to those dirty dishes really. I am grateful to all those who choose not to reproduce, or who break the cycle or at least to become aware that it is a cycle. That is not to say that everyone who does otherwise is not aware, maybe they are.
The body sleeps so as to absorb the hours that came before, to process them in the mind so that one may accept and deal with them accordingly, waking more readily to a new day than they would have if they never slept at all. Sleep is like blackmail, we can choose to be insomniacs, but the brain will shut itself down in whatever ways it automatically needs to in order to function. Why do you think genuine insomniacs have so much trouble? Or why do you think troubled people sometimes can’t sleep? Dolphins on the other hand are technically schizophrenic to some extent, being that they never sleep because the left side of the brain sleeps whilst the right is active, and vice versa. It could be argued that they have a better way of functioning.
We are practically staying awake so we can sleep, and sleeping so we can wake. We are born so we can live, and we live so we can die. I say ‘so’ we can, not to insinuate that there is a purpose to each, but that there is a function, we are built to function and that is all. Becoming catatonic wont help, you will still be functioning. In a coma or on life support you are still functional, and there is really nothing at all you can do about it except to eradicate your own existence…but is that not just as pointless as existing? That is, of course, assuming you believe there is nothing beyond life. I do not think there is anything beyond it, and I hope not.
One could touch upon a great deal of philosophical or ideological arguments here; bring in religion, as so many tend to do, perhaps. But my writing this is based on the supposition that there is no God, and no magic or wizardry, no life beyond this, and no past lives either.

Grumpy drivers behind you

Indian film dances usually follow filmi songs.

Image via Wikipedia

What do you do when the driver behind you is being a grumpy old cow for no good reason? Wind down the window and play the cheesiest bollywood radio tunes at full volume, grinning with pleasure as the traffic ahead means they can’t escape it.

For the record, I do actually enjoy Asian radio stations, but other road users don’t seem to appreicate.