Wednesday, February 15, 2012

When fame is confused with worth

I read a quite frankly ridiculous comment earlier somewhere from someone who wrote that America was "diminished" due to the loss of Whitney Houston at the weekend. I've heard some pretty nonsensical drivel from people on this here Internet [I'll admit to even adding to it], but that one was a doozy.

People, America is not diminished in any way because "one of her most talent daughters" [that was another one] was gone. I'm not saying she wasn't talented, she had a great voice, but America [and the world in fact] lost this talent years ago already when Houston choose drugs and alcohol over her career and descended into the abyss of excess and addiction. This weekend only saw the passing of a sad and pathetic forgotten shadow of a once great talent.

How I long for a day when the media acknowledges true heroes with the same zeal they use to glorify idiotic junkies. Sadly the same media machine like most other days fails to properly acknowledge the losses that truly diminish America - her patriots and defenders who perish in the sands of a distant land as they give their lives to bring freedom, democracy and a better way of life to those less fortunate.

Let us acknowledge the death of US Marine Lance Corporal Osbrany Montes De Oca, 20, from North Arlington, New Jersey, with the 2nd Marine Division, who was killed in action on Friday during an ambush by enemy forces in Helmand province and US Army Private 1st Class Cesar Cortez, 24, with the 32nd Army Air and Missile Defense Command from Oceanside, California, who died in a motor vehicle accident on Saturday in Bahrain supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.

You see, anyone with any kind of voice can sing but some are just better than others and society would have us believe that those are to be held in greater esteem. However, a precious few will volunteer to pick up a weapon and fight for what they believe in. Houston, De Oca and Cortez choose dangerous paths that could have - and did lead to their deaths. It's just annoying that the one idiot amongst them will be mourned by the most people.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Victory? - Webisode 1

The colonel plays a Ministry officer in "Victory?"
For years I have remained at my post vigilantly guarding against the alien menace. Unknown to the vast majority of Earth patriots, UNETIDA protect planetary citizens on a daily basis. While my unit and I maintain the highest level of alert readiness, our actions are highly classified and blissful ignorance reigns amongst the citizenry. But what would a world be like without UNETIDA? What would happen if we failed? I was approached by filmmaker John Vaughan to act as a military consultant on a fictional account of this terrifying idea. Joined on screen by some of Ireland's finest actors including Dave Split Second Duffy and Jonathan Patriot Games Ryan, it is my great honour to finally be able to provide for you shocking televised entertainment that paints the truest portrait of the threat we oppose.

For a chilling glimpse into this (luckily) fictional world, visit this link, watch Webisode 1 of Victory? and cast your vote using your Facebook details. This is a competition and we Marines never shrink from a fight. Rally to my cause and support this fine team who have worked fervently in service to you and show your appreciation by voting for Victory.

Colonel "Whopper" Creedon

Friday, February 03, 2012

U.N.'s dysfunctional payroll system highlighted

During their investigation into "irregularities" within the UNPASID and UNETIDA organisations over the past number of months, the Special Investigation Committee are believed - but unconfirmed to have discovered startling miscalculations in budget and personnel payroll. These beliefs may now be compounded by a newly released report by the Committee’s parent organisation, the U.N.'s internal watchdogs - the Office of Internal Oversight Services [OIOS] who have now highlighted that the system employed to track and manage employees and payroll across the U.N. Secretariat as being far removed from the normal world of accounting: you know the one where books balance, who works where is known, and giant undocumented inexplicable variations in payroll records are questioned instantly.
Not in the magical land of the U.N. however where: personnel records list thousands of employees for the NYC Secretariat but are paid elsewhere, 1,000 employees from other U.N. organizations are on the Secretariat payroll even though they do not appear in the Secretariat system as personnel, and when the OIOS themselves tried to perform a matching function they turned up differences worth hundreds of thousands of dollars in a single month, or nearly $5 million on an annualized basis. Additionally, new employees who work on the antiquated personnel system have not had training, while retirements have whittled down the number of veterans who actually know what they're doing. One obvious implication is that budget projections and reports to the nations that pay the U.N.’s bills and oversee its operations could potentially be works of fiction in comparison to the reality of the situation. Forensic accounting experts say that all of the things identified in the OIOS report point to a situation ripe for error and potentially exploitable.
In response, the U.N. itself claim the issues raised by the report no longer exist. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman, Martin Nesirky, declared on behalf of the U.N.’s Department of Management that the concerns had been taken care of  "the reports used to assess the accuracy of the payroll results were found to be accurate by OIOS. The minor variances identified during the audit process were related to minor bugs in a very limited number of accounting reports. The fixing of those bugs, will be done no later than June 2012."
The OIOS report notes that the neglect of training was because the staffing managers expected their old payroll system to be replaced by Umoja, a sophisticated, computer and software platform, and so assumed they didn't have to finance keeping people updated on how to run the old system. The problem is that it didn't work out that way and the system was supposed to be completed by the end of 2012, at a cost of $312 million but it will now be 2015. One would think that if U.N.’s technology is in such dire shape, as is the high-tech solution to all the problems, then no one can be sure that the chaos outlined in watchdog report has been dealt despite the Department of Management's claim.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Don't play the Game of Shadows

The anticipated sequel to Guy Richie’s seminal interpretation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Homes character, sadly does not continue in the same vein as it’s predecessor with Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows. It’s with a heavy heart I must report that the movie is a bitterly disappointing experience overall and captures none of the magic which brought the series to life. Yes there were some very entertaining moments and grandiose set pieces but there was far too much substance missing from this that it mostly fell apart under the weight of its ambition to be “bigger, better, funnier” [as it’s misleading publicity tagline went] than 2010’s Sherlock Holmes. Was part of it crushed under the weight of audience expectations for this to at least equal its predecessor? Perhaps, but the blame for this class of  nonsense can’t be laid at the feet of its audience.

I’m was questioning if Robert Downey Jnr. was back on the 'hard shit' after observing his performance here. While Holmes is indeed somewhat unhinged, he wasn’t a complete Section-8 as Downey goes out of his way to present him in this almost mockery of the character. If the man wants to show us he can do completely batshit crazy then he should keep it for a different project and not display it here.  In addition to Downey's epic fail, we also had an “oh so hilarious” eccentric nude homosexual performance from Steven Fry [also completely overacting], Jarrid Harris thankfully put in a subdued performance and I think did a better job than Mark Strong in the original even though his role here probably caused for a Jeremy Irons in Dungeons and Dragons. It was Jude Law who was actually the only star who seemed to take the movie seriously. In fact there was times when looking at Law that I could see him thinking “what the fuck’s going on here?” – and they weren’t Dr. Watson’s thoughts – they were Law’s “what the fuck’s going on here?”

Hans Zimmer composed a subtle jolly little theme for Holmes in the original and it was brought back for the sequel only now the score was three times louder with a 175% increase in instrumentation. I’d like to think that Zimmer composed such an over-the-top loud noisy score to both keep people awake by drowning out the abysmal dialog and generally distract us from the level of sheer nonsense on screen, but in my maturity I think not. No I conclude Zimmer got lost in some quasi-Wagnerian berserker-rage and composed this while foaming at the mouth.

In retrospect while watching Game of Shadows, I was reminded of both The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and The Wild Wild West [yes the Will Smith one]. As bad as this was it won’t be as bad as either of those reprehensible stains on celluloid but one would think that Hollywood would have learned about trying to marry modern standards with older genres - outside science fiction that is. This is rarely accomplished successfully and Brotherhood of the Wolf is the only example I can think of in recent memory where it has worked. While I can hardly argue that Sherlock Holmes was classically made, as Richie borrowed heavily from the techniques which have made him famous – where Sherlock Homes is to Lock Stock… and Snatch, Game of Shadows is to Rock ‘n’ Rolla and Revolver – basically Richie just vanishes up his own arse and completely ruins everything.

Final Verdict: Avoid, even on BD or DL.

Colonel Creedon Rating: *1/2