Wednesday, 31 December 2014
The Scottish Referendum
The Ukrainian Crisis Deepens
The Final Frontier More Understood
A New Face of Terrorism
Police killings in the US
The Ebola Crisis
The Sporting Events of 2014
The start of 2015- With 2014 coming to a close we come to 2015. What the next year will bring we do not know but for sure whatever happens next year will change our history.
Friday, 26 December 2014
Number 10- The 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami- 26th December 2004
Number 9- The Ku Klux Klan formation- 24th December 1865
Number 8- Hirohito becomes Emperor of Japan- 25th December 1926
Number 7- The defense of Louis XVI of France begins- 26th December 1792
You have heard my defense, I would not repeat the details. In talking to you perhaps for the last time, I declare that my conscience reproaches me with nothing, and my defenders have told you the truth. I never feared the public examination of my conduct, but my heart is torn by the imputation that I would want to shed the blood of the people and especially that the misfortunes of August 10th be attributed to me. I avow that the many proofs that I have always acted from my love of the people, and the manner in which I have always conducted myself, seemed to prove that I did not fear to put myself forward in order to spare their blood, and forever prevent such an imputation.The next month Louis was found guilty and was guillotined which started The Reign of Terror in France where aristocrats and any deemed to be anti-revolutionary and notable victims included the Queen Marie Antionette, Guillame de Malesherbes and even the person who started the Terror Maximilien de Robespierre.
Number 6- Marie and Pierre Curie isolate Radium- 26th December 1898
Number 5- William the Conqueror is crowned King of England- 25th December 1066
Number 4- The origin of Kwanzaa- 26th December 1966
Number 3- The fall of the USSR- 24th-26th December 1991
Number 2- The first Christmas- 25th December 336
Number 1- Charlemagne is declared Emperor- 25th December 800
Thanks for reading and on New Years Eve I'll be doing a New Years Special!
Friday, 12 December 2014
In regards to plot I am tied. With the characters I am extremely fearful that the writers could easily go into stereotypes or copying past characters like Chris Pratt becoming a new Robert Muldoon and Bryce Dallas Howard becoming a new Henry Wu, (ironically appearing in the film). With Jurassic World being the first big film that the writers have done it could easily fall into this trap. Also the idea about the park creating a genetically engineered dinosaur that escapes again could quickly descend into a rehash of the original. This does not necessarily mean though that Jurassic World will be exactly Jurassic Park but with more extras. Looking at Terminator 2: Judgement Day and The Terminator there a quite a few similarities; both feature Skynet sending a highly advanced Terminator back in time to kill someone important so John Connor has to send someone to stop them where the Terminator meets its demise in an industrial plant. We love both films and many people, (including myself), prefer the sequel. Even looking at Star Wars and Return of the Jedi there are similarities with Luke going to save a main character with Chewbacca, he seeks spiritual advise from a Jedi Master who then dies and as the Rebel Alliance goes to destroy the Death Star Luke faces Darth Vader in combat, (supplementing an X-Wing for lightsabers). The point I'm trying to make is that just because the plots could be similar does not mean that the film will be just repetitive, (i.e. the Friday the 13th films), but of course the film could quickly become repetitive.
Finally I want to talk about the dinosaurs. When the hybrid was first announced, Diablos Rex, I was not looking forward to it but after a while I warmed to it. Tyrannosaurus was the main carnivore in the first two films and Spinosaurus the third and for years I wondered what the dinosaur would be for a possible fourth film. A hybrid carnivore would then be a natural choice with the largest carnivore dinosaur, Spinosaurus, already being used and from the trailer it looks to be a promising predator. What I am not looking forward to is the lack of feathered dinosaurs. Fossil evidence over the last twenty years have provided strong evidence, (and in some cases proof), that the bipedal dinosaurs like Gallimimus, (the flocking dinosaur from Jurassic Park), Velociraptor and even Tyrannosaurus was feathered. This group of dinosaurs, the therapods, evolved into birds as well. The trailer has shown a distinct lack of feathered dinosaurs on the raptors and Gallimimus which has severely disappointed me. I excepted the Tyrannosaurus to still be scaly but I thought it was a missed opportunity to make other dinosaurs feathered and already has created controversy among paleontologists.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens
|General Thrawn as depicted in the comics|
The amount of screen time Fischer, Ford and Hamill has garnered controversy over the internet. Some people believing that they should have as much time as they did in the original trilogy while others having around half the film. Personally I would like to see them having half the screen time as it would be seen as handing the baton as it were to the next generation. I grew up watching them in the original trilogy and the only film that I managed to see in the cinema, (due to my age), I was hoping that they would have a small cameo. With them actually being in the new film I want to see them interact with the new actors and see a new generation take up the position as main characters. Of course the new actors will never be able to replace the originals. The new actors, such as John Boyega, do look promising and when watching the trailer I was trying to figure out whether Boyega was a stormtrooper or a spy for the New Republic. I have a feeling that with such a massive legacy to continue they will step up to the mark; saying that though Hayden Christian definitely did not step up and in Episode I Natalie Portman, (by Episode III though her acting had considerable more effort in my own opinion). I am hoping though that the best actor in the prequel trilogy, Ewan McGregor, could have an appearance as Obi-Wan Kenobi in spirit form.
With Episode VII I want to talk about the elephant in the room. It is plain to see that it is CGI heavy. I prefer practical effects and the original trilogy effects are the best if not one of the best until the infusion with CGI in the 1990s, (possibly only the Alien series and The Terminator challenging it). The effects in Episode I and II were like looking at video game cutscenes and it seemed more stale compared to the original trilogy. I like the idea that someone had painstakingly made the Rancor puppet and brought it to life frame-by-frame in stock motion, that someone had made a 6 ft high Taunton that the actors could ride on and that Yoda wasn't pixels on a computer but an actual thing that someone could act with. I feel that the acting of Hamill, Fischer and Ford was better than that of Christianson, Portman and McGregor because they could interact with something. The CGI however looks quite professional and I just love the scene when the Millennium Falcon gets in a dogfight with the TIE Fighters which made me feel like a child again. Even the scene with the X-Wings flying over the water on Tatooine looked impressive. Of course I am sure the people who saw the Episode I trailer felt the same way as I do now and it is an eerie reminder; the film may look exciting an impressive but we might be heavily disappointed.
I've tried to grasp the plot so far and they've left some subtle hints. With the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger has not dyed his hair showing his age has hinted that possibly this T-800 has been guarding Sarah Connor for a while and the fact that she says 'Come with me if you want to live' could indicate that she may have had to fight. With SkyNet sending a T-1000 could also show that they may have sent Terminators into the past that have failed to assassinate Sarah Connor. John Connor seems to be much more of a leader figure from the trailer compared to Terminator: Salvation. He seems to encourage Kyle Reese and show his optimism which makes sense as he is literally the figure that humanity has rallied behind. In Salvation all that he seemed to do was talk in a gruff voice, get ignored, be thrown around a lab by a CGI Arnie and have an offscreen rant at the lighting controller. He also is visibly scarred which could indicate that he is an actual fighter and actually deserves the moniker of humanity's savior. The film also seems to bypass and ignore the events of 2, 3 and Salvation although it seems that they've blended The Terminator and Terminator 2 into one. To be honest I think we all would like to bypass 3 and Salvation.
For the third time I'm going to talk about CGI. Like with Jurassic Park Stan Winston worked on the special effects in every Terminator film which made the effects seem so much more believable, (Terminator 2 has some of the best CGI in my opinion). With his unfortunate passing the makers seem to have abandoned the practical effects which does disappoint me, despite how bad they are 3 and Salvation do have very good effects. The effects though do look good and to save myself from being repetitive my opinions of the special effects are the same as what I said in Jurassic World and Star Wars.
Final Point- Something that I've noticed about all three movies is how they've: all abandoned practical effects for seemingly good CGI and gone back to their roots. With CGI getting better it makes sense but the going back to their roots seems to make amends for the poorer films. Although easily not the best films in the series I honestly do like The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Jurassic Park III, Star War Episode I,II and III. With the Jurassic Park films this may be due to nostalgia but I do like the prequel trilogy, definitely not as much as I like the original trilogy, and bar Hayden Christianson and the romance dialogue I can't see much wrong with Episode III, (again this may be through nostalgia being the only one that I saw in cinema at a young age). Episode I and II however has one or two or fifty-eight things which they could have improved on...each. The new films could actually be bad as well. When I saw the Terminator: Salvation trailer I was excited for it: it was dark, gritty, made it seem like a true fight for survival to a song by a band that I like, (Nine Inch Nails), but when I saw it I hated it. The same could be said for The Wolverine where they completely missed the mark of my favorite Wolverine storyline, Iron Man 3 was to bring an action packed film with a gritty re-imagining of one of Marvel's best villains and made a mockery of it and the less said about Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen the better. People have even refused to watch the Episode VII trailer for this reason. However we must remember: they can be good. When I first saw the Guardians of the Galaxy trailer I thought it would be good and now its one of my favorite comic adaptations and I've looked at films before thinking it would be bad and actually really liked them. I instantly thought The LEGO Movie would be terrible but now its one of my favorite films. We cannot know if they will be good but we can hope that they will be.
Friday, 5 December 2014
|In 1955 the Civil Rights movement got its first major victory|
|The Jim Crow laws were the reason why segregation was prevalent|
|Claudette Colvin: the first protester in Montgomery|
|Rosa Parks with another special activist in the background|
Another woman has been arrested and thrown in jail because she refused to get up out of her seat on the bus for a white person to sit down. It is the second time since the Claudette Colvin case that a Negro woman has been arrested for the same thing. This has to be stopped. Negroes have rights too, for if Negroes did not ride the buses, they could not operate. Three-fourths of the riders are Negro, yet we are arrested, or have to stand over empty seats. If we do not do something to stop these arrests, they will continue. The next time it may be you, or your daughter, or mother. This woman's case will come up on Monday. We are, therefore, asking every Negro to stay off the buses Monday in protest of the arrest and trial. Don't ride the buses to work, to town, to school, or anywhere on Monday. You can afford to stay out of school for one day if you have no other way to go except by bus. You can also afford to stay out of town for one day. If you work, take a cab, or walk. But please, children and grown-ups, don't ride the bus at all on Monday. Please stay off all buses Monday.Local NAACP President and Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters member Edgar Nixon decided to use Parks as the symbol that people could rally behind.
|Rosa Parks' mug shot when she was arrested|
|King was made the unanimous leader of the civil rights movement thanks to the boycott|
The relevance to what is happening now- I mentioned the current troubles in the US now because the Montgomery boycott showed that institutionalized racism can be fought. Through non-violent civil disobedience, (such as what is going on right now across America), full rights can be truly achieved and surely it must be easier now than before with globalization, wide support from groups ranging from Anonymous to the NAACP and no Jim Crow Laws. Hopefully this can be an example of something positive in history repeating itself.
Friday, 28 November 2014
|What new creatures will be in Jurassic World?|
Number 10- Diplodocus Carnegie
Number 9- Deinosuchus
Number 8- Kentrosaurus aethiopicus
Number 7- Iguanodon bernissartensis
Number 6- Eoraptor Lunensis
Number 5- Plesiosaurus
Number 4- Therizinosaurus
Number 3- Quetzalcoatlus Northropi
Number 2- Deinonychus antirrhopus
Number 1- Carnotaurus sastrei
Do you agree with my list? Was there any other Mesozoic animals that I should have put on it? Please leave your comments.
Friday, 21 November 2014
|Vaclav Havel awaits to a non-communist Prague after 41 years of communist rule|
Gorbachev and his reforms- In 1985 Mikhail Gorbachev rose to power in the USSR and started off a series of reforms: Glasnost, (Openness), and Perestroika, (Restructuring). Gorbachev started to stop the political repression of dissidents in the Soviet Union and his reforms quickly caught the attention of the Soviet Union's communist puppets in Europe; he was even nicknamed 'Gorby' in East Germany. One of these nations was Czechoslovakia who had been a virtual puppet of the Soviet Union since 1948 and later a Warsaw Pact member. In 1968 the Soviet Union even invaded Czechoslovakia to suppress the growing liberalizing of the Czechoslovakian government in what was called the Prague Spring and the person who tried to liberalize the nation, Alexander Dubcek, was ousted from power. Thanks to Gorbachev's Glasnost a blacklist on people's families who had supported the Prague Spring gradually started to lift and even on dissident poet and playwright, Vaclav Havel, managed to get a petition signed from prison to increase living standards. East Germans living in Prague surrounded the West Berlin embassy to try and get entry into West Germany and they got their wish en masse on November 9th 1989 when the Berlin Wall fell. The seeds of the Velvet Revolution had been sown and would quickly germinate.
|A photo of the dissident poet Vaclav Havel|
|Some riot police clash with protests on 17th November|
|The statue of Saint Adalbert of Prague in anti-communist banners|
The last days of the Czechoslovakian Communists- The editorial staff of the Pravda, (the then government ran paper equivalent to the New York Times in the USA or Guardian in the UK), declare their allegiance to the protesters on the 26th. The government had no where else to go. Adamec holds his first talks with Havel on the same day. From the following day to the 29th the communist grip over the people falls with with 75% of the public wanting reform. This started with the Ministry of Culture allowing anti-communist and pro-democracy books to be released and the Communist Party loses its leading role as apart of the Constitution. On December 10th President Gustav Husak swears in the first non-communist government for 41 years and resigns. The first legitimate elections takes place and Havel is elected President. The Revolution had succeeded.
|Havel during the Revolution|
Please leave any comments and thanks for reading. Also if you live in Slovakia or the Czech Republic please give your views on the Velvet Revolution.
Friday, 14 November 2014
|How did a series of riots turn into the current situation?|
The founding of Ukraine- The first seeds of today's problems could be seen with the formation of Ukraine in 1991. After a coup which tried to overthrow Mikhail Gorbachev failed Ukraine declared independence with the wave of nationalism that spread across the USSR. Soon other nations declared their independence and the USSR collapsed. Most of the new nations drew their borders based on ethnic populations as well as their historical boundaries but Ukraine largely drew its borders on historic boundaries. From the days of Stalin trying to make Ukraine ethnically Russian there was a clear Ukrainian-Russian divide geographically in Ukraine, in the East being mostly ethnically Russian, which still lasts today. This is shown on the map below:
|Map from openculture.com|
|The 2004 Orange Revolution|
|Yanukovych on the left and Putin on the right|
|Independence Square descends into violence|
|Pro-Russian troops in Crimea|
Situations worsen- Across Odessa fighting claimed more lives and in May Ukraine elected a new President Petro Poroshenko. The West increased their sanctions on Russia and built closer ties with Ukraine but the greatest tragedy had yet to come.
|298 innocent lives were lost in the violence|
The future?- What will happen next we cannot know. Recently the fighting has been less severe as it had been around May/June time. However the West and Russia must work together in order to solve the problem and I personally believe that earlier working together between the West and Russia after 1991 could have diverted the problem, (as suggested by notable critic of Putin Mikhail Gorbachev who has actually supported Putin). Although an issue over Crimean sovereignty may need to be addressed, especially with the Tatar population not being consulted about the referendum.
Thanks for reading and what is your views. If you live in Russia please tell me your view as living in the UK I've only seen a Western perspective and seeing a Russian perspective over the issue would be extremely beneficial. If you live in Ukraine also give me your opinion on the events that have transpired. Thanks and have a good day.