Happy Chappie

I treated myself this weekend to a trip to the cinema and saw ‘Chappie’, the movie by Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium) about a future where robots are policing the streets due to the rise in violence and police officer deaths. 

‘Chappie’ is a “bullet magnet” police droid which operate within set parameters but their creator, played by Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) dreams of the droids becoming something more. When Chappie is to be decommissioned, the creator sees an opportunity to trial his artificial intelligence program, with mixed results and is where the movie really takes off. What makes us human, what makes us who we are? 

Chappie with his creator

Chappie ends up being ‘brought up’ by a gang of thieves to assist them in completing a big heist. Chappie’s creator tries hard to tell him that this life style is wrong and makes him promise not to commit any killings. The battle for Chappie’s soul is interesting as the creator and the gang try to shape him in the mould they want. One scene shows the creator with Chappie trying to teach him about his potential by teaching him to paint, the next shows his criminal ‘Daddy’ showing Chappie the brutal reality of the ‘real world’ out on the street when he dumps him in the middle of nowhere unable to protect himself from people who have grown up to hate the police. 

Chappie with his adoptive family

‘Chappie’ I thought was a wonderful film that touches on a number of the big, philosophical questions that plagued humanity since we became self aware; why do we die? What is it that makes us who we are? If God exists, why would he make us so fragile and easy to die? Are we destined to take certain paths through nature or nurture?

These questions are all wrapped up in a quirky movie that is both touching and inspiring. Without getting bogged down in the religious questions raised within the movie, I would focus on the question of the role environment plays on our development. The journey of Chappie from infantile robot to ‘number 1 gangsta’ illustrates vividly the role our environment plays in our development and help to see that no future is set in stone if we can create the right environment from which people cn flourish.

Neill Blomkamp has made a movie which everyone should see, not quite a family movie, but certainly one that could be used to highlight to teenagers that there is no fate but what we make and to show us adults that no one should be thrown on the scrap heap just because of the rough start they might have had in childhood.

Up yours George

The budget is upon us, by the time I wake up there will like be many an angry word uttered in frustration at George Osborne and what the Sky News tonight called ‘the feel good factor’. Feel good factor… with 93,000 kids left hungry and homeless last Christmas, 1 in 4 of people with housing benefits in work – the working poor – and the return of rickets. Somebody must be having a laugh!

This budget will be a precursor to the most significant period in our recent history, with public spending set to return to the 1930’s and not one party offering any real alternative to ideological austerity. NHS, Fire and Rescue, Police, education – It’s all for sale and the song playing in the halls of Westminster? Everything Must Go by the Manic Street Preachers.

To add to the farce of our democratic process, David Cameron has committed to appearing on one televised debate with 7 party leaders. The circus of television debates should be left where it belongs, state side. Politics should be bigger than the character of one person but about the substance of a party and its representatives. When, for example, did a part leader ever get ripped to shreds by the press as bad as Natalie Bennett recently? Tony Blair stumbled through his Iraq war crime inquiry worse than that, as did the vampire Rupert Murdoch when grilled about hacking the phone of a dead teenager, blaming it on his age! You couldn’t make it up.

DSC_0436

Unfortunately for us, voting on the substance of a party is not the case and we vote instead for people based on their manipulated personas shown to us by the Murdoch press. The values and standard of our society reflects poorly too, by the caliber of personality we keep electing. Career buffoons such as Boris Johnson being a perfect example, elected because he was ‘funny’ when he fell over at a football match one time, has devastated the London Fire Brigade with his ideological cuts, closing 10 fire stations in favour of expensive luxury apartments. You couldn’t make it up.

I hope that, as I type this, there are hoards of people descending upon Westminster to make their feelings known and heard loud and clear. You know, that watching the phone, waiting for it to ring on a zero hour contract is not work and that education should be free and inspiring, not oppressive and debt enslaving – that kind of thing.

For too long the majority of the career puppets within the pompous palace have gotten away with defrauding the people who built and rebuilt the UK time and again and then pointed the finger of blame at the poor, the refugees and the less fortunate for everything that goes wrong, all so that they could get away with it.

Hit these people where it hurts, in their pockets. The majority of them have shares in private companies or are setting up for a life outside of the gravy train that is parliament, which is why they are cutting deals for big business in the first place. Do not be divided by the sowers of the seeds of hate, stick together and anything is possible. All together #upyoursgeorge

Back to the future

My next blog will be brought to you from… the future!

Delorean

Well, not exactly. I am currently in transit to the other side of planet earth, to Australia, to begin a new adventure and told my friends that the next time they see a news bulletin from me on one of my social media feeds, it would be from the future. Being between 11 hours ahead of GMT means that I can really begin to sample that famous FOX News cathphrase “before it’s history, it’s news”.

Our man-made measurement of time, or as I like to say ‘the passing of now’, has been turned on its head and used to divide us from each other. There is so much ‘time’ or earth time, or space-time (what it really is) but we have so little of it to do anything that we want and very little time for each other.

How often do you run out of earth-time/space-time to do the things you want to do? I know I do and I try to make the effort to be mindful, but it isn’t easy.

I have written about time a lot over the years, mainly because it fascinates me, particularly on my 27th birthday when I began to calculate how old I was by the hour and how I had spent each one. It was very sobering to see my life broken down into hours; rough estimates spent eating, sleeping, travelling, working etc. By the time I was 30 I looked at time differently again. But why do we call it space-time? I’ve generally always called it that and must put it down to my early experiences of sci-fi movies and TV shows but on closer reflection it makes perfect sense.

Consider for a moment what you do when you arrange to meet someone and what elements make up that meeting.

How did you do? You probably found that you went through a familiar process of selecting either a date or venue first (depending on which was most pressing/easy) followed by a time. Without these elements we would never meet anyone except by chance encounters.
We prefix the meet with a time and a space (place), one without the other would mean that we would forever miss each other. That is, say, to meet me at the Millennium Bridge might be suitable for us both, but without a time and date you would have to wait there until I showed up, assuming I hadn’t already been and left. The same goes for telling me you will meet me at 1100hrs. Without a place we would be lost in an endless loop of 11am’s, hoping to bump into each other – much like Matt Damon in the movie The Adjustment Bureau when he hopes to stumble across Emily Blunt’s character by riding the same bus, at the same time everyday.

I think I heard Terence McKenna talk about this first but it makes sense right?

When it comes to the subject of time it is full of paradoxes and open to interpretation. What will really bake your noodle is this; you can move through space at the speed of light but you can’t move through time at the same rate.

Remember, the only time you have to concern yourself with is now.

My first trip down under forced me to re-evaluate my perception and meaning of time, out there you could lay in the road in some places all day and not have to worry about being run over. I travelled to one town (if you can call it that) for 8 hours – my mate and I called it ‘the longest day’, and not see another vehicle or person (save for the odd road kill) the entire stretch. Life was set at a better pace, not the frantic rat race that we see everyday in the UK. Even the most idyllic areas of the UK are victim of this phenomenon I call manufactured time shortage.

It’s been a while since I spent a significant period of time in Oz, there’s possibility that the mood has changed and the constant whizzing around is a part of daily life in places outside of the major cities. We’ll see, but I like to think not.

I might be 11 hours ahead on the man-made measurement of time but will be right there with you where it counts, now.

Calm down doctor, fear comes later
Calm down doctor, fear comes later

Thin blue line