Steinbeck Hitchcock and Yes, Lifeboat

What on earth do Steinbeck and Hitchcock have in common? Well, nothing except that they made a film together called Lifeboat. They did not even share any common interests in terms of their work. John Steinbeck created novels such as Grapes of Wrath which is still considered as a literary masterpiece even by modern critics. The novel was highly controversial at the time it was first published in 1939 due to the anti-capitalist sentiments. But it also won the Pulitzer Prize. This and his work later were instrumental in getting John Steinbeck his maiden Nobel Prize for literature. Steinbeck also wrote some comedies such as Cannery Row and Tortilla Flat but thrillers, not any that I know of.

Alfred Hitchcock lived thrillers and absolutely thrillers. However, he did take some diversions into other genres such as comedies in Mr. and Mrs. Smith and also some nonfiction films just before the Second World War. After the war, he mostly stuck to what he knew best and that was making thriller movies. I don’t know what Steinbeck was thinking about while writing Lifeboat. Was he intentionally making a thriller or just an interracial film with a hypothetical situation about people from various communities of German and allied forces getting together and having to do battle together? I think it’s later and that’s where Steinbeck came into the picture.

Originally the screenplay of Lifeboat was credited to John Steinbeck. But after the film was released Steinbeck requested his name to be removed from the credits because he felt the film had unkind words against organized labor. However, the British and American press at the time thought the film glorified German characters and denigrating the US and British characters. Modern critics see things differently though. Hitchcock defended his characterization because he respected his movie villains. Characterization of a villain has been the hallmark of Hitchcock films over the years. The moral of the story in his opinion was to get the allies together to fight against Nazis.

Lifeboat was nominated for 3 Oscars but received none and it was not commercially very successful either due to the negative publicity and controversies surrounding the film. It was Hitchcock who came up with the idea for the film and considered several top writers at the time for the project including Ernest Hemingway and A J Cronin. Hitchcock didn’t use music in the film as he thought it was imprudent to do so. Where would music come from in the sea? He retorted when asked about it. He was countered with where would the cameras come from in the middle of the sea?

I am a diehard Hitch fan and have seen all his best work and more. I never felt him being racist or unkind to any community unless it is for the characterization. The very fact that he chose Steinbeck for this project confirms this fact for me. But it is a strange combination all the same. After so many years of Hitchcock, it is difficult to associate him with a writer who is not at all a thriller writer. It is a lonesome but great alliance all the same.

‘Official’ Blockchain Standards for 2019

The succinct statement details the government’s pending official definitions of blockchain regulations. Publicly advertised rationales may appear comparatively innocuous or indeed prudent yet such official justifications are an obvious attempt at the curtailing rather than development of decentralized technologies. Even rudimentary, preliminary investigation of the statements highlight what may generously be labelled as contentious logic.

“China is set to publish official standards on blockchain technology next year, with one official telling Xinhua they will “give the industry some guidance” on the technology.

Li Ming, a director of the Blockchain Research Office under the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT), told Xinhua’s Economic Information Daily that work had already begun on forming the standards. Li, however, made clear that while standards would provide some guidance to blockchain developers, authorities did not expect official guidelines to “quickly advance the development” of the industry. Despite efforts to clamp down on the financial risks associated with cryptocurrencies and initial coin offerings, the Chinese government has looked to show its support for blockchain development. China was the world’s biggest source of blockchain patents in 2017, while last September saw a blockchain research center opened by the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology, a research institution under the MIIT.

The new standards being drawn up by the Blockchain Research Office will include guidelines for the application of blockchain in terms of business, information security and reliability, Li told Xinhua. Despite the exciting potential surrounding blockchain, the technology remains in a stage of infancy. Without clear regulations in place, security problems have caused nearly 2.9 billion US dollars’ worth of losses worldwide between 2011 and 2018, according to Baimaohui Security Research Center, a specialist in online security that has worked with Alibaba and Huawei.

The last two years alone have seen 1.9 billion US dollars lost because of blockchain security issues, according to Baimaohui. Not only are China’s leading tech firms and banks applying for blockchain patents and researching how the technology can improve services and boost public trust in supply chains, China’s Ministry of Public Security is also studying how to implement the technology in terms of data storage. Earlier this week, data from China’s Intellectual Property Office showed that a patent application had been filed by the Ministry of Public Security for a blockchain system that would securely and transparently save unalterable data to the cloud. Such a system could be used and shared by police across the country, allowing data to be shared rapidly between various agencies. ( CGTN )”

To begin let’s not forget the differentiation of decentralized capacities versus centralized services. A regionally authorized service naturally adheres to geographically specific governing legislation. For example an international fast food chain may, in some European countries, sell alcoholic beverages over the counter while the same operator is typically not permitted to do so in North America. This variation is possible because of service use being localized. To have ‘official’ guidelines of decentralized capabilities would be to imagine access and or use of decentralized services being regional, or under the same legislation. It may not. It is decentralized.

Secondly it has been calculated by the American Government Accountability Office ( GAO ), that the 2008 financial crises cost $12.8 trillion dollars. This further omits subsequent bailouts, unemployment and broad reaching detrimental consequences suffered by millions.

The causes of the 2008 financial crises have been largely attributed to deregulation, securitization (double dipping and bundling), sales of subprime mortgages and the Federal Reserve’s raising rates on subprime borrowers. In short, actions conducted by government, banking and financial industries.

By contrast for one set of activities to lose under $3 billion over seven years is minuscule. Regardless of political stance, decentralized technologies offer the capacity for individual’s independently enacting personal choice. Personal loss resulting from bad decision making, such as ICO investment, is contained. Moreover it is a conscious participation where any individual may only invest or access a set amount, that which is in their immediate control. Compare this ceiling to unilateral extents achievable by governments and corporations.

To incorporate decentralized technology into one regional government’s operational guidelines may prove nothing more than redundant methods of double accounting. Used by individuals whom may collectively be under no single government’s purview, concurrently decentralized technological capacity must itself be equally discovered.

So Much Work for Just 60 Seconds

When you watch commercials, music videos, TV programs, or films, do you ever wonder who it is that handles the job of getting them on camera and how they’re put together? That’s the work of a video production company. There are really two kinds of companies that create video content. A technical production company may target details that the client isn’t interested in doing. They may do the things that come after the video is shot, the editing and the post-production. Or they may simply take the finished video and post it online. That’s one thing that a video production company may do.

Other companies are full-service. That means they do it all from start to finish, and post-production as well. A full-service company will do the creative development, then write the script. They’ll be responsible for locations and casting. They’ll produce, edit, and deliver the final product for posting. A company like this is totally hands-on; the client states what they want and the video professionals do the rest.

A commercial production company, as you may expect, has a specific focus. It creates short videos, 30 to 60 seconds, that are oriented toward commercial branding. They are all about promoting a product, a company, or a service; or getting a company’s name, brand, and message out in front of the public as widely as possible. A commercial production company creates videos to grab the public’s attention and interest, and to create excitement-“buzz,” as it’s often called. The company creates what are effectively “teasers” to bring in potential customers.

Commercial producers and their creative teams have to get excited about a client’s product, brand, or message. In this way they develop ideas that connect with the audience. Their process includes personally experiencing what the client is selling to create an understanding of the market and the customer.

The video producer’s job looks creative and exciting, and it can be. It is also a highly demanding and responsible job that calls for not only creativity but people and business skills. The producer might be thought of as a “creative problem-solver.” He or she is the leader of the process from pre-production through actual production to post-production. The producer is responsible for the planning, scheduling, and final editing of the project, and hiring the talent and the staff. He takes part in selecting graphics and audio and may actually write the script. He is the point of contact between the company and the client, facilitating all communications to make sure the project is delivered according to the client’s specifications. And of course, it’s the producer’s job to make sure everything is done on time and on budget.

It is very exacting work that a video production company does. You might not believe the amount of work that goes into a 60-second spot and the number of people it takes to pull it off. But these production companies know how to do it with the greatest effect.

How Prepared Is Your Board for Cyberspace?

While cyber security is an important issue for boards, it has not always been top of mind. Because a major corporation like Equifax had a breach in its IT system, many companies are rethinking how to secure cyber security.

Boards around the world are examining the Equifax case to determine how to best secure their organizations valuable information stored in their IT systems. So who is responsible? Since the CEO has stepped down, it is apparent he was being held accountable. However, where was the board of directors?

In today’s world of cyberspace, corporate boards have to think about more than governance, CEO compensation and strategy.

As it stands, it is in the board’s best interest to ensure the company is not exposed to debilitating risks. Companies have workplace safety standards and sexual harassment policies to mitigate lawsuits. They even have disaster recovery plans in the event of natural disasters or occurrences like the World Trade Center plane crash. These plans and policies are in place to keep business running smoothly and perpetually. It protects customers and employees.

However, with sophisticated computer hackers around the world, it is no news that computer systems and valuable information can be breached and stolen. There are hackers who breach computer systems as a business. They ask for ransom in the amount of tens of millions of dollars. If it is not paid, they threaten to release the companies secure information, which sometimes could contain private email communication from top executives.

While many enterprises as large as Equifax may have disaster recovery plans for their physical operation, they may not have the same plan for cyber breach. The disaster recovery policies would include immediate action steps based on size of the breach, who made the breach, what information was taken, were company smart phones breached, what to communicate to employees, the public and shareholders as well as other important factors.

In some cases, it may make sense to inform the FBI. In other cases, it may be better to pay the ransom. The challenge with calling the FBI is that the hackers could be in countries like Russia. In Russia, the FBI may not pursue them. Why? Because the Russian government is always looking for good hackers. If the FBI exposes the hackers in Russia, the government may hire them, which can present long-term problems for the US. When it comes to paying ransom, it’s tricky. If you pay, they may hack you again as though you are an ATM machine. If you don’t pay, they may expose confidential information. These are also the kinds of challenges that directly involve the board.

What’s most important is that the board is talking about cyber security before there is a problem. There should be constant audits of the cyber security system to mitigate any risks. In addition, as a board, they should hold the CEO accountable for that security. Furthermore, there should be clear policies to guide the board and the executive team on how to handle the various moving parts in a delicate situation. Boards with disaster recovery plans and high accountability with the CEO are more likely to be forward thinking about cyber vulnerabilities and proactive about updating the security system.

Buying Art

Everyone buys art from time to time, some pay large amounts of money for original artwork – more people buy cheap forms of the arts on-line or at their local market. But regardless of your wealth there are plenty of great art sites selling many great forms of art.

Times are quickly changing and the world of arts is fast becoming more affordable for everyone. With today’s access to information on the web, finding reasonable works of art can save the average person a bundle.

Wealthy people pay large amounts for original art – this is understandable because they are buying the original work of an artist who has made a good reputation for himself . Buying original art is also considered to be a good investment. For some, buying original art may also be a way of increasing social status and attempting to conform to culture norms.

More people stick to buying limited edition art.

Limited edition artwork can range from two copies upwards to infinity. Should we pay big bucks for something that may be hanging on hundreds of walls?

I recently came across a Spanish artists website. His artwork was to a very high quality. He limited each print to 250 copies; they were on sale for EUR650 each. Is this too high a price for a limited edition print?

Are artists charging too much for their work?

I am constantly asking myself this question. How do we price our work? The answer is far from simple.

Do we, as artists un-limit our work and make them affordable to everyone or do we set an enormous price that only a small minority of the worlds population can afford.

When buying art, set out a budget that suits you before you go on-line. It you look at a large range of sites you will find some form of arts that suit your own pocket.

Just remember that the arts are for everyone to enjoy. People from all classes can enjoy, gaze and admire the many different forms of art. If you are looking to buy some form of the arts don’t rush into it. You may have to look at it for the next twenty years.