Now the following is just me providing a slightly insightful opinion on the EU referendum. I am piecing together this opinion based on the some the stuff I’ve read and even then I am playing catch-up so there will be gaps. Also I’m limiting myself to talking about why the vote went the way it did so let’s start.

So that just happened.

Yesterday the United Kingdom held a referendum on whether to stay a part of the European Union (EU). The referendum went under the name Brexit for short.

Now you may have missed it (I’ll be honest it snuck up on me too) but you’re probably hearing about it now. Immediately following reports that the UK had voted “Leave”, the British Pound started falling in price and every type of market you could think off started dropping like flies.

 

So the European Union is a bit of an amorphous entity. The EU is a weird mix of an economic trade organization and quasi super state. The EU started as a way for the various industrialized nations of Europe to come together around economic trade. As time as gone on the European Union has become a government without going all the way; almost the United States of Europe. The EU has a currency, a parliament, no army, but can create binding laws.

 

The basic issue behind Brexit and why it came to a head in a referendum vote is complicated; much more complicated than either the Leave or Remain sides say. For some the vote is about immigration and others national control.

The Brexit vote has been seen by some as a nationalist rebuke of global trade and globalism. For others the referendum vote is seen as an exercise in anti-intellectualism and anger. And in many ways Brexit was all those things. the vote also reflects the fact that the UK has always been iffy on the EU; it did not switch over to the Euro (EU currency) and it has in conflict with the EU over various policy issues. It was a move by the current Prime Minister of Britain David Cameron to appease members of his own party and maintain power. Another view is it was a referendum highlighting growing anti-immigrant and right-wing sentiment in the UK; or a vote for Britain to be in control of it’s destiny.

 

The Brexit vote then came and the result is the UK is leaving the EU. The fallout has been immediate.

For me the interesting thing has been reading the comments on Twitter. Most people in my timeline are/were for remaining in the EU; so they are upset. I think a lot of them thought that their fellow countryman would see through the rhetoric of the Leave campaign and vote to stay in the EU. And in the aftermath many are decrying the voters who turned out and voted to go as anti-immigrants, racists, bigots, xenophobic, and short-sighted.

Sort of how they viewed them all along.

In my opinion this is where the Remain side failed. The problem that faced those who wanted to remain in the European Union, the big one, was they couldn’t sell it. Any campaign that wants to win has to make a strong narrative and tie it to a simple slogan. You have to get voters attention and keep it long enough to have impact in the voting booth. The second problem with the remain camp, especially online, is they were too busy decrying the type of voter that voted Leave while not making sure their voters hit the polls. See talking shit only makes sense when you can insure yours turn out; and this hits on the third issue.

The people behind the Leave campaign seem to have been more organized than the Remain camp. I mean they had an easier time because they could make the case that leaving the EU was an act of reasserting control. They could appeal to national pride. What was the story for the Remain vote? I mean if I went by Twitter then much of it was about the type of voter that would vote to leave and EU benefit vagaries. It also didn’t help that most of the pro-EU talk sounded like veiled threats. Leave the EU and we won’t fuck with you says such and such business. I should point out here that another issue with the Remain side is they didn’t really confront the anti-EU sentiment of the public meaningfully.  A big unanswered question, in my opinion, was how do you answer those who feel left behind by this thing you’re for?

The fact is Brexit went the way it did for a lot of reasons, but the big one may be an undercurrent of real distrust with the system we have. And that is something to think about.

 

 

 

 

 

 

If we see real gun control after the Orlando shooting, I will be surprised.

Actually it would be ironic given how much money is spent to protect 2nd Amendment rights after similar events.

You know fuck this shit.

I am glad people are tired of the homophobia (even if they practice it) and they wear the rainbow and holler love is love and bitch about Conservatives for their various sins against the country and politics.

I love the various think pieces describing the act as either anti-gay and/or terrorist. I love how we say shit gets better, while also getting reminded how much gun violence happens in the United States of America.

Thank you and fuck you all the same like we needed a reminder.

Why is it this event is the catalyst for all this soul searching?

I mean really?

Now we aren’t safe?  Shit we have never been safe or secure.

So now that Isis’s name has been tossed around, we can all get on board banning weapons that clearly are for the maiming of human life.

Where was this when inner city violence was spiking? Or is it no one gives a damn if random brown bodies have holes and neighborhoods get turned over for bullshit.

The cynic in me doesn’t believe the little rainbow pin on your chest nor the monologue coming out of your damn mouths.

I haven’t done a post about Windows Phone now Windows 10 Mobile. I mean I started on one but then everyone said it was dead; then Mary Jo Foley got a Nexus and the sky fell.

So let’s recap:

  • Windows Phone as it was first conceived and marketed was not successful.
  • Many of Microsoft’s partners when it was still Windows Phone 7 Series abandoned it.
  • Redmond had to buy the only real Windows Phone handset maker left but ending up firing a lot of the workers and reducing the amount of handsets they make. (When really the only value were the Camera team and HERE mapping)
  • Microsoft has refocused its mobile strategies on pushing apps and services for the big two (Android/iOS); and on refocusing Windows  10 Mobile’s target audiences.

For the last year Microsoft under Nadella has been, in my opinion, trying to make Windows Mobile work. And by work I mean start making profits and being credible competition.

Now let me say upfront, Windows Phone failed. I hate writing that because like its spiritual ancestor the Zune, it was ahead of its time. It faced a number of hurdles that it could not overcome (no matter how hard they tried). So now we on.

I’ve been playing with Windows 10 Mobile since its Insider Preview started. There are a lot things about it I think need serious work. For me most of it is surface stuff. I like the personalization options, but I wish I could group apps to break up the Start Screen. I think the basic layout for UI needs refining and more needs to be done to make apps really pop.

But I also find myself intrigued by what the new Win Mobile is.

I complain about Action Center, but I also really like it. Controls are better. I like the fact this interacts better with the PC. And I like the fact I want to see it on larger screens.

So I think Windows  Mobile has legs, but how does Microsoft make it compelling?

Windows Mobile’s biggest issue out of the gate will be the legacy of Windows Phone: no one uses it and there are no apps. So first question will be, “Why Windows Mobile?”

In some ways Microsoft has already telegraphed that going forward Windows Mobile will be first and foremost about the Enterprise. While Microsoft has also talked about creating experiences for fans of the platform it is clear the focus will be on where they saw growth. Fans are just a bonus.

Beyond the business focus, Windows Mobile will need a consumer story. And I think this where the Surface team comes in.

Despite the appearance of Acer and HP with high end devices, Microsoft is going to have to raise the flag for Windows 10 Mobile. The rumored Surface phone is going to be the point device for Windows Mobile. It will need to be more than just a pretty phone; it’ll need to be a new experience.

This experience goes beyond just having hardware.

Recent reporting around Windows Mobile is indicating that it will be the focus of the next major update to Windows 10. If this is the case, then I think Microsoft should focus on refining the interface and building robust features into the platform.

In my opinion the biggest assets Windows Mobile has is it’s NT kernel underpinnings and Continuum. The NT kernel means this is real Windows. With Continuum Windows Mobile becomes less of an also ran to be a versatile platform. In order for Windows Mobile to get over the “no apps” rep, it will need to push versatility and Continuum hard. To me that means when dock, the phone just becomes a PC (including multitasking).

(Continuum allows a Windows phone to function like a PC with a desktop; apps built to make use of the feature fit the screen. It’s a lot like Windows on ARM or Windows RT)

In some ways what I am suggesting is Microsoft should run with the idea that Windows Mobile as the new Pocket PC. Keep it nerdy. Make it business friendly. Make it versatile and flexible in ways Android and iOS can’t.  Revisit the ideas from the old Win Mobile but reimagined for current mobile audiences.

(Honestly, I got more but I hit over 700 words and I’ll live it here)

 

So………

Microsoft has this thing called the Universal Windows Platform. It is essentially software that allows programs to run across the types of devices that run Windows 10. The UWP acts like a container which means the programs can’t reach out and make drastic changes that users may have to go in and fix if something goes wrong with an application. The platform is essentially what you get when downloading an app on a mobile phone or a tablet.

Okay so here is the thing with the UWP, some people do not like it. They feel it’s this infringement on their use of a PC. Some developers feel like it is a step to wall off the PC gaming garden.

This is BULLSHIT

The Universal Platform at its basest nature, is about modernizing application development. Windows over its 30 plus years has accumulated clogs of coding languages, tools, and workarounds for running software; but not a modern one.

Think of those times your PC ran slow or you thought you deleted a program or game and it’s still there in the system; this is the stuff some like to call good thing.

The second part of the UWP is to make it easier on USERS. Easy installs, quick up and runtimes, safely contained, and most importantly easily deleted without issue. I mean when was the last time you went to a site to download an application?  Most don’t, and if you do how do you know that site is legit? Bitch about the Windows store, but it’s vetted.

Now the third reason is simple; the PC as you and I knows it needs to DIE.

The PC market is fast becoming a niche but also long in the tooth. User expectation for devices has changed. Most people work within the browser screen or off a mobile phone. The legacy and past have forced Microsoft to maintain a status quo that now hinders. The development model needed changing to be competitive; to make PCs strong.

So suck it up kiddies cause change is coming.

In a matter of hours Microsoft will once again take the stage in California for their E3 Briefing.

This year finds the Xbox group in an interesting place. While the Xbox One has seen a growth in sales it is still behind Sony’s PlayStation 4 by large numbers. There has been confusion in regards to Microsoft’s strategy for the Xbox and PC gaming; leading to a noted game developer saying Microsoft was trying to “take over” gaming through the Windows Store. Microsoft has also closed down a number of studios and projects, most notably Lionhead Studios and Fable Legends.

And then there is the ghost of the Xbox One launch that still hangs over the console even as it has become more gamer friendly.

So what to expect when Xbox chief Phil Spencer and company take the stage?

New Hardware

Thanks to Petri.com editor and nemesis of Paul Thurrott, Brad Sams, we know that today’s briefing will feature new hardware. And not just hardware focusing on pure gaming, but also media streaming.

According to Sams, Microsoft will be premiering a refresh to Xbox One in terms of a smaller, slimmer model (which according to leaks will be dubbed the Xbox One S). Additionally a new standard controller will also be shown off.

Bigger news, at least to me, is Microsoft is finally getting into the living room streaming game with two streaming devices.

According to both Mr. Sams and others, these two devices are aimed at competing with the Apple TVs and Rokus in the market and will make use of the Windows Store for content. I should note here that while the Windows store lacks the deep catalogue of the App Store and  Google Play it has a decent catalogue in terms of Movies, TV, and Music and Xbox already has media deals to make it a solid option. I’m expecting if the Streamers are shown off they will come with the announcements of new services.

Games, Games, Games

Now I am not certain of specific titles but I believe we will the release dates for games such as Re: Core and Crackdown 3. Some games like Titanfall 2 and Mass Effect: Andromeda have already been announced so they may be on and to show gameplay. I think the bigger news will be on Xbox as a gaming platform that stretches from the Console to the PC. Windows 10 has been used to bring together PC gaming and Xbox and I think we will see an update on where it’s going.

So that’s my spiel for this year’s E3. Turn in later to see if I was correct or horribly wrong.

 

Apathy is sometimes the only true defense against madness….but only to a point.

Last night in Orlando, Florida a shooting happened. At the time I am writing 50 were killed and 59 injured when a gunman held club goers at the Pulse hostage. The club was a gay hotspot and the shooter was apparently an ISIS sympathizer committing the act in their name.

It was a heinous act we will add to list of acts that will be analyze for the next few weeks. So the story will go through the familiar beats: The killer, the victims, the outrage, the larger context, the handwringing, the posturing, the update, and the fade away. We will make statements condemning the attack. We will make statements how this act will be met with defiance, love is love, and how this will get better.

But will it?

Beyond gun control. Beyond closing down Twitter accounts and Facebook pages. Beyond PSA’s and hashtags; what do you do to put the demon back in the pit?
We have this epidemic that is happening because the world is changing and some honestly are confused by it all. There is this new world being built that is different than the one we had and it makes some angry and some uncomfortable and other’s feeling disconnected. And that disconnect is slowly being filled by things that honestly are killing people.
I mean has anyone heard how we describe ISIS? It feels as much like a viral epidemic than a terrorist organization. The collection of mass shooters seemed to be bound together by this disconnect from the world that sees them try to reassert order by violent means. And these people are not strangers or freaks; they come from next door.
And every time this violence happens we examine what went wrong. We find people to blame; but we all forget about it afterward.
There is only so much that can be said before the words become meaningless because the ones that need reaching can’t hear. And until they can be reached the cycle will continue.

So there is a new X-men movie coming. It is the sixth X movie featuring the main team ,and the third of the rebooted series that see the X-men facing off against big bad Apocalypse.

I have to be honest; I HATE the X-men films. The first X-men left me hollow and muttering variations of WTF; and every other entry until First Class I pretend does not exist.

Look, my first comic was X-men, I know the X-men, and I am sorry but this series of films have never come close to being the X-men.

(However, if you like them COOL)

Okay for this review I am going to SPOIL parts of this film so you have been warned.

The short of it is X-men: Apocalypse is fine but not great. McAvoy and Fassbender are great. Oscar Isaac is lost behind the makeup and Apocalypse is lost behind the script. A lot of characters are straight up wasted. And there is both a Wolverine cameo and an Easter egg.

X-men: Apocalypse is a decent film. In my opinion it’s better than the first 3 X films and fits nicely within the rebooted trilogy started with X-men: First Class. If you liked the previous films, you’ll likely like this one.

Spoilers Begin HERE

X-men: Apocalypse takes place in 1983 and focuses on a world transformed by the act of Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence) saving Richard Nixon from Magneto (Michael  Fassbender) dropping a stadium on him. A decade has past between the last outing (Days of Future Past). Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) has opened his School for Gifted Youngsters with help from Hank “Beast” McCoy (Nicholas Hoult).

Mystique has become the face of Mutant liberation and a symbol for the new generation of mutant youth; she is also going around as a one woman Mutant Liberation Front freeing mutants being abused by humans. Magneto went into hiding in Poland and works in a metal factory; he also has married and had a daughter.

Then Apocalypse (Oscar Isaac) shows up and messes it up for EVERYBODY.

Those are some of the broad strokes of this movie.

Yes I left out the part where this is the movie where we reintroduce Cyclops (Tye Sheridan), Jean Grey (Sophie Turner), Nightcrawler (Kodi Smit-McPhee), and Storm (Alexadra Shipp). We are introduced to Psylocke (Olivia Munn) and Angel (Ben Hardy). Rose Byrne returns as CIA agent Moira MacTaggert while Hugh Jackman makes his required appearance as Wolverine. And yes Evan Peters is back as Quicksilver.

Apocalypse’s problem is it rehashes storylines handled better in previous movies and it neglects what it is supposed to be doing with a new story.

The drama of Magneto overwhelms all including Apocalypse. The movie’s bad guy is Apocalypse and he is supposed to be remaking the world in his image. Yet his sole purpose seems to be as a plot device to once more ensnare Magneto into a place where he dons the metal helmet. And this focus takes away time from the other Horsemen. And this leads into the other issue.

(Seriously the makeup is better but not much. Also Angel as character was majorly changed by his encounter with Apocalypse both physically and mentally; perfect for showing how dangerous Apocalpyse is)

This movie wastes characters. Apocalypse is wasted as a villain; partly because his motivations are vague and also because he’s overwhelmed by Magneto’s presence. Storm and Psylocke appear to be made Horsemen because they’re X-men. Angel is a Horseman because he was one in comics. In fact in a story about Apocalypse it’s weird that Angel is a side character because out of every character involved, his is actually the one arc that is tied to Apocalypse from the comics. Alexandra Shipp’s Storm is the only Horseman, outside dear Eric, that gets a proper setup.

Psylocke is their to be a pinup poster. Olivia Munn gets five or six lines and an action scene. They hint about a connection with Ben Hardy’s Angel (because it’s in the comics) and she is security for a people smuggler. Other than that Munn is there to be in a costume this character stopped wearing sometime in the early 2000s.

(Betsy Braddock aka Psylocke started life as a purpled haired psychic who worked for the British version of SHIELD. She was also white until she was body swaped in the nineties. How come she couldn’t have been a spy working with Moira)

On the X-men side Cyclops and Nightcrawler get interesting introductions. Cyclops’s mutant ability happens in the middle of a John Hughes movie, with an appearance by Aly Sheedy. McPhee’s Nightcrawler shows up in cage match with Angel and is rescued by Jennifer Lawrence’s Mystique. Flashing to Xavier’s you get your first look at Sophie Turner as Jean Grey and her first encounter with Sheridan’s Cyclops. Actually I like the new cast and my only issue is we don’t get enough of them interacting with each other. And yes I know Jubilee is in this but honestly she is there as a walking Easter egg. Plus she is a 90’s baby (Generation X 4 Life).

Havok shows up to bring his baby brother Scott to Xavier so he can control his powers. He also shows up so we can take Charles to see almost love Moira MacTaggert. MacTaggert is back because once again she has uncovered another mutant conspiracy, this time the reawakening of the first mutant Apocalypse. Then we’re treated to the uncomfortable in retrospect interaction between Xavier and the woman he fell in love with then mindwiped and occaisonally stalks with Cerebro.

(Can I just say it still weirds me out they made Havok the older brother? Also Havok without Polaris is like Peas without carrotts)

Wih MacTaggert in tow the various X-men and storylines start to merge. Mystique shows up with Nightcrawler in tow; Xavier and Alex with Moira and they all go down to Cerebro to catch up with Apocalypse and his Horsemen.

I will admit I am glacing over Apocalypse’s opening which sees the Isaac’s transformation into Apocalypse and Magneto’s life in Poland. The opening to Apocaloypse was cool and heavy on the action. Magneto in Poland was just another setup to drag old Eric back into the purple helmet business.

So then Quicksilver shows up (after Apocalypse and crew teleport in to kidnapp Xavier and Havok needlesly dies trying to stop them) to the Eurythmics. Yes a speedforce scene with Peters as Quicksilver is one of the best action scenes (so good he gets two). He’s there to find Magneto and tell him he’s his father and comes just in time to save everyone, but Havok, from an exploding X-Mansion (another staple of 80’s X-Men).

So as we come toward this film’s climax we have one more interlude so that we can have the required Wolverine fan service. This interlude allows us to gather the requisite mutants for the last battle, for them to have access uniforms and a vehicle, and for Hugh Jackman to recreate Barry Windsor-Smith’s Weapon X mini-series.

Now the battle begins with Mystique and Quicksilver going after Magneto and Nightcrawler after Professor X. It’s good action and yes it leads to psychic warfare and Jean Grey going a little fiery.

Now let me restate I LIKE this movie. But it is far from great. Characters are waisted and in hindsight it feels like this movie ends like every X-Men movie does; Professor X and Magneto talking about the merits of their philosophies.

This would’ve been fine if Days of Future Past hadn’t done a better job of bringing these characters to the point where we know them today. Mystique becoming both an X-Man and it’s first leader is an interesting turn but not explored. We spend so much time getting reacquainted with the regulars that new characters are left idle.

I honestly feel like Magneto’s presence hurt Isaac’s Apocalypse and took up space that could’ve been used by other characters. And some story arcs like Xavier revealing he wiped MacTaggert’s mind are papered over to get to a sort of happy ending. And the impact of the battle and death’s like Havok aren’t really felt. The biggest issue is Singer as assembled a great cast  and interesting aesthtics and couldn’t juggle either well enough to be great.

(Okay this movie is set in the 80’s and I know this series of films will NEVER be faithful to material the way I want, but damn no Longshot and Dazzler! SHAME)

 

 

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