Before i Forget : Simon Jones's blog

June 2008

GeneralFriday, June 27th, 2008, (7:38 pm)

I got a speeding ticket from Heddlu Gogledd Cymru. That’s the North Wales Police to those of you who don’t speak Welsh. I don’t speak Welsh either, but maybe I look Welsh in the picture taken by the speed camera that was cleverly obscured by the leaves of an overhanging tree, because the ticket I’ve been sent to my English home address is written entire in Welsh!

Speeding ticket in Welsh

Araf is one of the few Welsh words I know. It means Slow the f*ck down! I know this because it’s written in huge letters on many of their roads and signs. Those who live in or near to North Wales know that you need to heed those warnings too because the Heddlu (police) enforce their speed limits with a merciless ferocity that Darth Vadar would envy.

For that reason I watch my speed on the popular tourist routes of North Wales where orwellian speed cameras stand beside the roads in strategic positions to catch even the slightest infraction. The camera that snapped me caught me going 47mph in a 40mph zone. However, my annoyance was that I was under the impression the road was a 50mph zone. On later inspection I had failed to see a heavily obscured change of speed limit sign shortly before the ‘safety camera.’

I could go to court armed with evidence that the sign was obscured and therefore at 47mph I thought I was within the limit, but it would likely be a fools errand and if found guilty the fine would increase, plus I would have to pay court costs. On this occasion I can avoid penalty points on my licensee if I agree to pay the £60 ($120) fine and attend a speed awareness course. I’ll take that offer of course, but I’m no less annoyed.

I’ll suck it up of course, but getting this ticket just reminds me that in the UK you’re never far from a camera watching your every movement. We are the most surveilled country on earth, and that makes me feel more than a little uneasy.

Looking at this site made me feel a bit better
Translate Welsh
Try your hand at speaking Welsh

Creative MediaWednesday, June 25th, 2008, (2:01 am)

We’ve all got our favorite movies right? But am I strange for having favorite TV commercials? In a parallel universe I could be one of those creative ad agency people, or as the late comedian, Bill Hicks, would say, I’d be one of “Satan’s little helpers.” But I wonder, do our favorite TV commercials say anything about the people we are, and if so I wonder what my list of ads say about me?

Easily my favorite TV ad of all time is this VW Cabrio ad from 2000 directed by Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris which introduced me, and many others, to the music of the late Nick Drake. I love this commercial because it reminds me of drives that I’ve had that are just like that.

Apple’s much awarded 1997 ‘Think different‘ ad by Jennifer Golub of Chiat Day is just great. Richard Dreyfuss does the voice over which starts “Here’s to the Crazy Ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.” To this day I still have a ‘Think different’ poster on my office wall and the poem pinned to my cork board.

Points of view is an ad for The Guardian newspaper (UK) that ran back in 1986. I love the simplicity of this ad. A skinhead running toward a man in a suit holding a briefcase leads the viewer to make assumptions, and right there is where I connect with it; people making assumptions. Great ad. (took me ages to find it too!)

I wrote about this 2005 VW Golf GTI commercial before. The work of Jeremy Craigen and Steve Jones of DDB London, the ad shows the late Gene Kelly apparently breakdancing to a club-mix of Singin’ in the Rain. It took months of negotiations with the Gene Kelly’s wife to get the idea off the ground, but to my mind it works spectacularly. Why do I like this ad so much? Because it’s just sheer digital wizardry at its best if you ask me.

Another ad from 2005 was Sony’s ‘Color: Like no other’ commercial by Nicolai Fuglsig for the Fallon ad agency in London. The mixture of the beautiful music by José González and a quarter of a million bouncy balls rushing chaotically down the steep streets of San-Francisco in slow motion was simply a moment of pure televisual art. It’s also well worth watching a short feature on the making of the ad.

Ad agency, 180 Amsterdam, came up with the idea that ‘Impossible is nothing.’ British soccer star, David Beckham, tells history in this great ad. I think I liked the idea of achievement over adversity in this ad. “You will go through tough times,” Says Beckham. “It’s about coming through that.”

Advertising whisky seems like it might be a bit of a boring task, but Andy Fackrell and Richard Bullock of 180 Amsterdam created a truly engaging ad for Glenfiddich in which the message is that ‘Every year counts.’ I like that idea, that every year counts, that all those moments amount to something bigger.

And Finally, from this year, come Vodafone’s ‘Decisive Moments’ by BBH London. Featuring F1 race driver Lewis Hamilton the voice over tells us that life is full of chances with the end message being ‘Make the most of now.’ I couldn’t agree more.

So, when I look at these ads all put together like this I wonder if this reveals anything about me? I’ve only just noticed there are no funny ads in the list at all, and none were even considered. But then I’m not really one for comedy so perhaps that means nothing, I mean sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, right? But then if you’re in advertising that would probably depend on the brand of cigar I suppose.

Making of Apple’s ‘Think different’ ad
Making of Sony’s ‘Like no other’ ad
Making of Adidas’s ‘Impossible is nothing’ ads
A man called Adi Dassler
What do your movies say about you?
Great endings

Faith & ReligionWednesday, June 18th, 2008, (6:49 pm)

Sometimes I feel sorry for preachers. They are the easiest people in the world to shoot down because their position as moral leader, guardian, and teacher, elevates them to a level where they almost cannot afford to fail, yet because they are human they screw up and make a mess of things the same as anyone else.

Jesus in an interview to become a Minister of the Church

Last Friday an ordained pastor of a church I once attended made something of a fool of herself when she ran out of the birthday party of a mutual friend in an unnecessarily dramatic fashion due to my arrival. Our paths briefly crossed 14 years ago and for reasons that I won’t bore you with here, she managed to develop an intense disliking for me.

I don’t blame her for not liking me, after all, everyone is entitled to their opinions, and our views about her church (The Wirral Christian Centre), which I once attended, are quite different. However, I had hoped that time might have mellowed the newly ordained Pastor and that despite our very different opinions we could politely avoid any kind of friction at our friend’s birthday, but alas it wasn’t to be. Within a week of preaching about forgiveness the pastor had already failed to live up to her own sermon. She had, in effect, fallen at the first furlong.

While I could be angry at her for being so apparently hypocritical, I am in truth just sad that she couldn’t find it in herself or her faith to act in a more ‘Christian‘ way; if not for me, for our mutual friend, his other guests, and for those of her church who had to witness the way she fumbled the situation. Christians often like to ask “What would Jesus do?” and given the chance I would put that question to her right now too.

Make no mistake though, I do understand that it must be hard to be a preacher. Failure to live up to the words that you preach is not just a possibility, it’s surely something of a certainty. To execute the role of preacher successfully one must be able to draw on gigantic reserves of humility, something that is surely difficult to do for someone who is used to commanding a crowd and leading a congregation.

Sadly the pastor involved has chosen not to apologize for her behavior, and has instead allowed our mutual friend, the host, to come under fire for inviting me in the first place. That’s a shame though because I had hoped that despite her initial gaff, the pastor would fix the situation with a quick apology to the host allowing everyone to move on and forget about it.

Maybe the hardest thing of all, for someone in the role of preacher and moral leader, is to remain truthful about their own failings. Allowing yourself to be judged by those whom you are charged with guiding might very well take the biggest leap of faith yet.

Hypocrisy is the greatest luxury
In Gods House
Wirral Christian Centre Watch
Wirral Christian Centre

ArtTuesday, June 10th, 2008, (9:00 am)

Stop what you’re doing for a moment and take a look at these hauntingly beautiful pictures of underwater sculptures by artist Jason de Caires Taylor. The sixty-five sculptures, covering an area of 800sq metres, are sited in the clear shallow waters of Moilinere bay in Grenada, West Indies.

Jason de Caires Taylor's underwater sculpture park

Jason de Caires Taylor's underwater sculpture park

The underwater sculpture park was created back in 2006 and was designed to create artificial reefs for marine life to colonise and inhabit. Exposed to the ecological processes the sculptures become home to coral and marine life and slowly transform over time.

“The experience of being underwater is vastly different from that of being on land. There are physical and optical considerations that must be taken into account. Objects appear twenty-five percent larger underwater, and as a consequence they also appear closer. Colors alter as light is absorbed and reflected at different rates, with the depth of the water affecting this further. The light source in water is from the surface, this produces kaleidoscopic effects governed by water movement, currents and turbulence. Water is a malleable medium in which to travel enabling the viewer to become active in their engagement with the work. The large number of angles and perspectives from which the sculptures can be viewed increase dramatically the unique experience of encountering the works.” Says Jason de Caires Taylor’s website.

Jason de Caires Taylor's underwater sculpture park

I first saw these pictures earlier back in March and found Jason’s site by simply doing a Google for ‘underwater sculptures.’ His site features loads of beautiful pictures and a really stunning film of the underwater sculpture park.

Jason followed the success of the underwater park with the creation of ‘Alluvia‘ which consisted of two female figures submerged and fixed to the bed of the River Stour in Canterbury, England. He is currently working on a new series of sculptures to be placed on land and underwater in Italy, around the La Castella and Capo Colonna coastline.

According to his website, Jason is seeking volunteers to be life-casted for his projects. If you are interested in being represented in the form of an underwater statue and can travel to London then email him. I might just volunteer myself.

Jason de Caires Taylor's underwater sculpture park

Jason de Caires Taylor
Underwater sculpture film

Faith & Religion and Found on the webSaturday, June 7th, 2008, (10:38 pm)

I have a lot of respect for religious people. I find their ability to believe and follow in faith admirable, and perhaps even enviable. But if you were a con man looking for a new gig then picking on the legions of happy clappy hands-in-the-air Christians might just be as easy as taking candy from a baby. – Enter, a website that enables subscribers to send emails to their loved ones after the Rapture! Hallelujah!

Jesus is coming! That’s been the battle cry of many a God fearing Christian over the years, and according to the Bible when he does all true Christians alive on the earth will ascend into heaven to meet the Lord. This is called the Rapture. Clearly there are some obvious logistical difficulties about ascending though the earth atmosphere, but it’s all part of the Christian faith to believe that God has got you covered, so there’s no need to go out and buy a pressure suit and breathing apparatus moments after singing ‘Shine Jesus Shine’ for the first time.

The problem with the rapture is that loads of people will be left behind because they didn’t choose to become Christian or they gambled their eternal soul on the ‘wrong God.’ That’s where comes in, a $40 per year subscription service for Christians who want to have the opportunity to send a final email to loved ones left behind after the Rapture.

According to the website the company has set up a system to send documents to the email addresses provided by paying subscribers six days after the Rapture. “Our purpose is to get one last message to the lost, at a time, when they might just be willing to hear it for the first and last time.” Reads the website.

The site claims to be programed and run by Christians, for Christians. Rapture monitoring is done by five, presumably qualified, ‘true Christians.’ who each have to log in at regular intervals in order not to start the automated Rapture delivery system.

According to the site, the Rapture delivery system starts “when 3 of our 5 team members scattered around the U.S fail to log in over a 3 day period. Another 3 days are given to fail safe any false triggering of the system.”

Business website says. “There are probably enough [Christians] out there who will sign up and make this site a success. The cost of $40 per year is pretty reasonable if that means that you give your friends and family a chance to re-think and go and meet the Lord.” However they site also have some doubts about viability issues, asking; “Will the Lord accept people who needed an email to convince them to become true Christians?”

In an effort to help its subscribers know what to write in a final message there is the youvebeenleftbehind blog from which to garner some inspiration. In one example Heather writes “Dear Freind,” That’s her typo, not mine. “I’m sure you’re terrified and confused by all of the terrible events that have occurred. I’m sure you have heard the Rapture theories by now, and you may wonder why I’m gone and you’re here.” She then links her would be recipients to a website about getting ‘saved’ before signing off her email with one alarming addendum; “PS – Look out for the guy who wants to bring peace!”

The site encourages subscribers to make use of their alloted 150Mb of encrypted space in which to store “personal and private” documents. A now removed portion of text on the site (found in Google’s cache) read; “In the encrypted portion of your account you can give them [friends and family] access to your banking, brokerage, hidden valuables, and powers of attorneys’ (you won’t be needing them any more, and the gift will drive home the message of love). There won’t be any bodies, so probate court will take 7 years to clear your assets to your next of Kin. 7 years of course is all the time that will be left. So, basically the Government of the AntiChrist gets your stuff, unless you make it available in another way.”

Bruce Schneier, a security technologist from California is concerned. “What if the creator of this site isn’t as scrupulous as he implies he is?” He asks. “What if he uses all of that account information, passwords, safe combinations, and whatever before any rapture? And even if he is an honest true believer, this seems like a mighty juicy target for any would-be identity thief.” Worse still, despite the sites claims that the data can be encrypted, Schneier says that the encryption key is stored on the server with the data.

Of course, I’d like to believe this is a joke, perhaps by the same people who created all the hoopla that surrounded the God Hates A Fag music video, but I’m not sure. It could be a scam, but there’s something about the hair-brained amateurish nature of all this with its poor execution and flakey forethought that screams ‘Christian’ to me. So you see, it might be worse than a scam, it might be real! (For all your Rapture needs) press release
God Hates A Fag music video
Dodgy website targets US God Squad
Stuff Christians like (Your post rapture letter delivered by hand!) (Sell your assets in a rapture futures market)
[Video] Classic ‘Six Feet Under’ start scene

PoliticalWednesday, June 4th, 2008, (10:09 pm)

Imagine for a second that you’re Hillary Clinton. You’ve just lost the battle to be the democratic party nomination for President of the United States, a destiny you always thought was yours for the taking. This was your big shot at being America’s first woman President, but as Barack Obama declares victory in the primaries you must be thinking that the job you once thought was yours for the taking, has just evaporated and you’re done. So now what?

Hillary Clinton : Loser

Hillary is said to be “open” to the possibility of being Senator Obama’s Presidential running mate. But come on, if you had just lost an epic battle that a year ago you didn’t even think you would be fighting, would you be willing to stand dutifully behind the guy who just beat you? Besides which, there’s surely no way Obama would ask Hillary to be his running mate. She’s been slinging mud at him for months and if you were him wouldn’t you just want to get her and her annoying voice as far away from you as possible?

But what is Hillary playing at? She’s still not conceded defeat, and if she doesn’t do so quickly she risks not just being seen as a loser, but a sore loser. Her chance to exit the race gracefully has passed, but if she continues to fight this could get embarrassing, like watching a drunk wrestle a bouncer twice his size.

So, can Hillary go back to being just Senator Clinton, or is that too much of a step down for the once “inevitable leader?” Whatever she chooses, while she might not be willing to accept it, it seems that her hopes of putting the Clinton name back on the mailbox at the Whitehouse have disappeared, and with her husband and former President, Bill Clinton, saying on Monday “This may be the last day I’m ever involved in a campaign of this kind,” it looks like the age of Clintonism is over.

What is it about Hillary?

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