Hodor! Hodor! Silence in the house!

Well, the past week has been quite fascinating from a political point of view.  I’d never thought of myself being particularly political, but after the farce of the last week, I’m getting interested in the whole thing.  I’ve purchased a trial subscription to the Economist (my boss reads it and often quotes, so it makes sense to buy my own sub), and..

I’ll soon be a member of the Conservative party.  And rejoining the Labour party.  All for less than a large mocha and a pain au chocolat from Costa.

I’m almightily sick of the power struggle within our two main political parties.  We should all be working together to get this country back on track because for the next couple of years IF article 50 is ever invoked means that we’re going to have to be friendly and polite towards each other to get things done.  Not backstabbing, career progressing, self-serving nonsense that’s coming from both camps.

Initially I was going to just be a member of the Conservatives.  I’ve never been a Conservative member before, and perhaps only voted for them once in all the years I’ve been voting.  But if these guys are going to be in charge for a bit longer, one needs to know what’s going on, what’s being said, and what’s being done.  And the ability to vote after three months will be a bonus (eventually) whenever the (inevitable) power struggle occurs again.

Ditto for Labour.  I’m so angry with those MPs that resigned.  Corbyn may not have been as vocal as he could be – but he’s not one of these people that foam at the mouth.  He has stated Labour’s position on the referendum and their stance on Europe: remain.  But what can the shadow cabinet honestly do?  Mind you, I terminated my Labour membership earlier this year when the shadow cabinet barely raised eyebrows at Theresa (“I’m running for PM”) May’s Snooper’s Charter bill.

I feel utterly useless at times when it comes to voting.  We desperately need to re-think the first past the post system, along with many other matters that result in the voters ending up with an entirely different outcome to what they think will happen.  I’m not saying that I’m bitter because I didn’t get the result I wanted, just that if X happens, I should expect Y or Z, not A, B or C.

I’ll see how things go, and will then drop support for the political party I think have stuffed it up the most.  At the moment that goes to Labour.  With enough support it may be possible to steer the Conservatives in the right direction somehow.  Somehow.

(Good job I’m generally positive about things, isn’t it?)

Willoughby the dog from Tex Avery’s Of Fox and Hounds, for me, sums up British politics and politicians at the moment:

The House of Fun: Galaxy S7 Edge photo test

Last night I met up with a fellow former Google Apps Top Contributor who was in London for a few days.  Anurag and I went on a whistlestop tour of Westminister and the South Bank, stopping off at the local McDonalds for something to eat and drink.  It was absolutely boiling, but I managed to take some great photos using my Galaxy S7 Edge camera.  Clicking on each photo opens the original file, so you can see how detailed the full-size image is.

Much better than the iPhone 6S Plus in my opinion.

We did spot a large number of journalists along the South Bank setting up camera kit for their reports on the EU Referendum.  Most of them were standing against the backdrop of the Houses of Parliment.  I’d imagine today the South Bank is overrun with reporters.

Also: Android Pay, like Apple Pay, can be pretty spotty on TfL contactless readers. Sometimes you have to change to a different barrier if the one you want to use rejects the phone/card.  Do hope TfL fixes this.

The Making of The Jungle Book

While I’ve yet to see the film, I am still nonetheless incredibly proud of my former employers MPC who, along with New Zealand’s Weta Digital, are responsible for the wholly virtual environment and talking creatures in the live action adaptation of The Jungle Book.

Here’s a little look behind the scenes.  Sometimes I think it’d have been easier to film in a real jungle with real talking animals, but there you go (although I hear that talking bears’ agents are unbearably difficult to work with).

Speaking of MPC, apparently there are still grumblings about unionisation and working conditions.  I’d say to MPC that they should embrace it with open arms rather than trying to fight it.

As for the Sky Bar – my favourite story concerns a certain very, very famous lady singer of a certain age being completed and totally ignored by all when she visited the Sky Bar. Whether that was through fear, or being told not to address her at all, I don’t know.  But it makes me chuckle.  Otherwise the Sky Bar was never off limits.  You could get a cup of a tea, and when you were working the late shift, that’s where you collected your food.

Game of Tax Credits

I think that if we’re discussing making US corporations pay all their taxes, we (and Canada and Australia) need to rethink how we support our respective film and TV industries. The following has been taken from the end credits of Game of Thrones season six.

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This article from Empire Magazine probably best explains WHY tax credits exist.  But I don’t believe it’s sustainable.  The film & TV industries – especially in the States – have become far too reliant on these schemes – it’s like a crutch: they’re being propped up by taxpayer money to offset risk.  When you’re a government trying to reduce a substantial deficit in the annual budget – this sort of thing just ain’t going to help anybody but corporate fatcats and NOT up and coming independent filmmakers.  When another country comes up with better terms (think of a pound shop, then think of another one offering all items for 99p), all those jobs are now suddenly at risk unless that offer can be matched or improved.  Wonderful!

Plus we can’t be seen to say to one industry, “oh – you owe us more corporation tax: pay up”, then give away something like $240 million in tax revenue to a US multinational in another (industry).  I don’t think that’s fair.  And what’s even more unfair is when Hollywood constantly moans at us Brits about not giving them enough tax credits.  We can’t let them them threaten our economy and our industries.  Which is why this article that quotes BECTU wanting previous, looser UK tax credit terms to stay in full force rather surprised me.

The deplacement factor in tax credits is yet another concern.  If I were still working in the film industry today, I could quite easily move to Canada to work (and come back to the UK if things don’t ultimately work out).  This is a lot harder if I were still married, and even more difficult if I had kids.  And what happens if the finance minister of the relevant Canadian province decided that they can no longer afford to absorb Hollywood’s tax bill (which is roughly some $500 million a year) and everybody shuts up shop – what happens then?

We definitely need to encourage new and upcoming filmmakers, and tax credits seem, initially, to be a good way of doing this.  But then again, the UK government shouldn’t be taking all the risk for US (or even UK) corporations.. As Matthew Vaughn, the highly successful film producer and director (who has financed many of his films himself) has suggested, how about providing the money as a bond/loan that’s ultimately repayable?

As for HBO, one hopes they enjoy the free money from the UK taxpayer – many of those taxpayers that probably don’t subscribe to Sky Atlantic.  Perhaps HBO could offer the taxpayer some White Walker toenail clippings by way of thanks?