Sunday, 28 September 2008

King of cool

As every newspaper, magazine and new channel reported... undoubtedly also gazillion blogs... Paul Newman died.

The fact that such international reaction followed his passing away, including even some reformist papers in Iran, in many ways is reassuring.

Reassuring that we still, amongst all the five-minute wonders and mega-hyped celebrities that everybody forgets within seconds, we still recognise true greatness and what many called a true movie legend.

Not only an absolute epitome (and perhaps the last of the golden generation) of Hollywood (in its best sense, a meaning that has been so lost in the last few decades and it's a pejorative word nowadays), but also a true, genuine philanthropist.

In a cynical world, where genuine gestures of charity are questioned (is he/she just doing a publicity stunt?) while not for a moment questioning blatant manufactured images and PR spins of dubious five-minute wonders desperately trying to show something apparently 'genuine' (welcome to Umberto Eco's world of hyperreal...), he truly was an 'old-fashioned' genuine philanthropist. Amazing enough, this is recognised for once and honoured.

Eastern Europe has joined the same mindless 'reality TV' hyperreal world of media as did the West. In many ways, situation is even worse there than in this dumbed-down West that only has faith in fakes nowadays. Just to steal an expression from Eco again.

A death of someone so immeasurably grand (again, in a good, old-fashioned meaning) is hopefully placing a long lost ruler against which all these immensely annoying microscopic fake celebrities can be measured against. Them to measure themselves against it would be utopia. I just hope at least we can see again, what a true star (again, gosh, in its good solid old-fashioned sense) and what a current Eastern or Western or copycat Western celebrity is.

Someone managed to live with integrity until his last moment, despite his many decades of truly, truly world-wide mega-stardom. Remained faithful to his wife, no typical hollywood (with lowercase 'h', yes) scandals around him. He ran genuine charities that made a genuine difference, not some PR stunts.

People who are given five minutes of fame miserably and invariably fail on all these fronts.

Unfortunately, we pretty much ran out of such rulers... to measure things and people against.

Rest in peace, king of cool.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Integrity

Nope, not the integrity of sub-atomic particles on this famous day of the CERN experiment launch. (By the way, we have gone so paranoid, that even something like this is purely triggering lot of scared articles about how it will end the Universe...)

It is about integrity in a place lacking it so much as certain smashed particles will in the CERN accelerator.

The place is of course Romania, and it is about the integrity of MPs and senators. Yes, some statements would be very obvious, but what made me laugh with tears today was WHO the National Agency for Integrity (!) appointed to be the auditor of their accounts.

The person, who will inspect MPs' and senators' accounts has an amazingly expert and filled-with-integrity background.

Also, the person is an exponent of gender equality and all other equalities in that truly astounding country, formerly my home...

So it is all positive and uplifting.

Ah yes, forgot to mention... her ONLY professional background is.... ah yes, photo model.

Former photo model.

24 years old. Hot. Photo model. Expert in auditing accounts of members of the Romanian Parliament (almost wrote Mafia, driven by my struggle for accuracy).

So who said Romania is not the country of ANY and ALL possibilities?

Tragicomedy has never been so... desperately and exasperatingly sad.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Tracking

For years, there was a talk about how to change road tax in the UK. The discussions have matured finally to a stage where there is a pilot to be run soon and will try out the concept.

Well, it will involve tracking devices in every single car... and charging will be done based on the routes you take, pricing will be worked out taking into account various per-mile charges for every road in this country.

On top of that, there is a wonderful class element here, because the Government announced that the pricing scheme will also take into account the differences between wealthier areas like the South-East of England and more 'deprived' areas of the country. So you pay more in the South-East than in Scotland for a same class of road.

Apart from this blatant use of social class information, the point of interest for this blog is of course the tracking.

If the system will ever work (let's not forget, this is a country where despite all arrogant media & public statements, technology is not quite as pristine as in many other 'lesser' (?!) EU countries... they even fail to bring the congestion charging system daily errors under some acceptable level)... so yes, IF this will work, then you will have every mile of every journey logged via the tracking system and then charged.

Of course, it is all about road tax... but... in a free country where the density of CCTV cameras reached never before seen levels, Stalinist measures & laws are introduced based on the 'Terror Act', surely the information will come handy... for whatever use.

Personally, the fundamental aspect of having every movement in my car tracked is fundamentally revolting, irrespective of what the use of that information is.

And please, we don't want to hear about how safe this information will be kept and how it will only be used for certain things.

In a "free" country where any personal emails can be checked by local councils at will, there are countless incidents of vital and absolutely confidential data being lost by the Government virtually on a weekly basis, where blunders of selling off private information to whoever and whatever are countless, please, please don't talk to us about safeguarding information on every aspect of our lives...