Saturday 20 July 2024

Hollywood has run out of ideas

I've been saying this for a long time because it has been a long time coming. Hollywood has run out of ideas. We are seeing constant rehashing of old ideas, old genres but the new versions are probably worse because they use an excessive amount of CGI (and AI?) very often and the product can look very plastic and lacking in gravitas and depth. It appears that the modern movies are made for youngsters who like froth and frivolous stuff. Not serious and well made films but just frothy cartoon stuff.

Hollywood has run out of ideas
Hollywood has run out of ideas. Image: MikeB


Perhaps I've got that wrong but that's what it looks like to me. However, I am sure that I have got it right when I say that Hollywood has run out of ideas. That's because you might notice that you've seen things before. Or if not you will be seeing things again that you've seen before on the movies. That's because a quick glance at the list of forthcoming Hollywood films provokes a deep feeling of déjà vu.

You will be seeing Channing Tatum, 44, in a remake of Ghost. She plays the role originally played by the late Patrick Swayze in 1990.

And you may remember that great film Officer and a Gentleman in which Richard Gere starred. He is now 74 years of age. Paramount has lined up Miles Teller, 37, to take on the role again.

And you will see Glen Powell, 35, starring in Twisters. A sequel to the 1996 disaster film Twister.

Glen Powell is attached to remakes of The Running Man, originally featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger in 1987, as well as Heaven Can Wait, based on the 1978 fantasy starring Warren Beatty.

And The Times says that the list goes on. You will see Sydney Sweeney, 26, one of Hollywood's best-known young female actresses starring in a remake of Barbarella. This is a 1968 space fantasy film that featured Jane Fonda who is now 86 years of age.

And the list goes on! This month, The Times reports that it's emerged that A Fistful of Dollars, a 1964 Western that launched Clint Eastwood's career will also get an updated version.

Hollywood is stuck in an era of reboots, remakes and revivals at a time when it appears the industry is in peril. And my argument is and has been for a long time is that the Hollywood whizzkids and gurus have run out of ideas for movies.

And this thought of mine comes about because there is a limited number of ideas! That might seem implausible to some people but I think it's a reasonable suggestion. There are only so many ideas for films. There are only so many storylines.

It brings to mind the problem of music. Ed Sheeran who was sued for copyright breach said that "There is only so many notes and very few chords used in pop music. Coincidences bound to happen if 60,000 songs are being released every day on Spotify".

He saying that there are only so many songs that can be created that are fresh and entirely new. Everything is ultimately rehashed in the music business. It's just repositioning each cord and each note so that the music sounds different.

And the same goes for the film industry. There are only so many ideas and Hollywood has run out of ideas which is why they are rehashing old movies. The other reason why they are rehashing movies is because the cost of production has become very high and they have become very risk averse. They know these movies were successful so they simply remake them in the expectation that they are almost certain to be successful.

Stephen Galloway, Dean of Chapman University's film school in California said that "In entertainment, an idea is worth it's weight in gold".

Ghost with a highly successful film starring Demi Moore. It became the highest grossing film of the year and an Oscar winner. It is considered to be "irresistible to studios" in terms of a remake.

It said that costs have gone through the roof in the film business and marketing is expensive which eats into profit margins. And then you've got streaming demands on Netflix and Amazon Prime et cetera which places greater demand on more and fresh film and series.

The public want fresh, new stuff all the time. But there's a limit to it. Ultimately they are rehashes. Even stuff which looks different is based upon an old idea and rehashed.

There is another threat to Hollywood which is AI. AI can make films or will be able to and it can write scripts and stories. This arguably will undermine the work of writers and animators leaving them jobless. The same fate will befall background actors. Hollywood has reverted to tried and tested film ideas but it seems to me it puts Hollywood in jeopardy of collapsing.

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P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Purebred stray Burmese cat trapped in St Paul's Cathedral

This is a rather strange story because we are told that the Burmese cat that fell 15 feet down a shaft in the basement of St Paul's Cathedral was sold (apparently) by a breeder and she is also micro-chipped.

The RSPCA rescued the cat. They named her Paula after St Paul's Cathedral which I think is a nice idea.

Purebred stray Burmese cat trapped in St Paul's Cathedral
Purebred stray Burmese cat trapped in St Paul's Cathedral. Name Pauls after St Paul's. Image: RSPCA.

A teenager in the Cathedral yard raised the alarm after seeing Paula vanish under a slab. The teenager was playing in the churchyard after school. She saw Paula run off. The teenager became upset but she was able to give the RSPCA a geotrack location which helped the RSPCA officer to pinpoint the cat's position. Well done to this teenager.

The officer spoke to the Cathedral's security about gaining access and discovered that it is an old storage basement that apparently no one had used a key to get down to for 25 years.

She walked down a steep and narrow staircase into complete darkness before discovering a chamber which led to several corridors and found the cat hiding, covered in fleas. Clearly Paula had been a stray for some time.

It is fortunate that she fell onto a bed of leaves which broke her fall and she was pretty well okay except for a slight graze on her chin and in desperate need of flea treatment; indicative of the fact that she had been astray for some time. Although she doesn't look as if she was starving.

The RSPCA contacted Paula's registered owner as per the microchip details and discovered that the cat had been sold four years before. It appears that the microchip relates to a cat breeder and that the purchaser of the cat did not change the microchip details.

Therefore the RSPCA don't know the current owner if one could argue that Paula still has an owner because she's been astray for a long time and it appears lost or abandoned.

The RSPCA have put posters around St Paul's Cathedral in in the hope of finding her owner. Paula was treated at RSPCA Finsbury Park Animal Hospital before being moved to the RSPCA Laybourne Animal Centre near West Malling in Kent.

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P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Friday 19 July 2024

Mumsnet sues OpenAI and wants the information deleted

Those who have followed the development of ChatGPT know that it is a chatbot using OpenAI software which has hoovered up from the internet billions of words of useful information contained on millions of websites and which it reformats and presents in answers to questions posed to it by internet users who would normally have used Google or Bing search and visited a website for the information such as mumsnet.com which is why mumsnet.com is suing OpenAi for breach of copyright. And they want their data deleted and a cessation to its use. Microsoft has a 49% stake in OpenAI - see more at base of page.

Others are also suing, including The New York Times and the Writers Guild of America.

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Julia Roberts, CEO of mumsnet.com said:
They [OpenAI] are basically hoovering up the whole web. And I think it's an existential threat to lots of small websites. What they are building is things that can answer questions without you having to visit those websites.
Precisely, I have been saying that (as have millions of others) for ages. The current situation is a killer for websites and frankly website owners are too passive. They need to form a 'union' to fight the big, bad corporations.

Mumsnet claim that ChatAI has 'scraped' (like scraping a barrel) six billion words from its website without permission resulting in a genuine threat to the very existence of mumsnet.com.

Think of the tasty food as tasty internet information and the spoon as OpenAI 😎👍

ChatAI claim that they have 'trained' their software using the information and 'training' is not breach of copyright (laugh 😀🤣). Microsoft also argues that their actions were lawful under the US doctrine of 'fair dealing'. 

Mumsnet is also claiming for breach of terms of use and database rights infringement.  They also argue that there is no 'fair dealing' doctrine in the UK where mumsnet is based.

Comment: What about the other AI chatbots? There is Google's Gemini and Poe and Bing's Copilot? Is mumsnet suing them as well because all of them have allegedly 'stolen' billions of lines of data on the internet.

And, yes, mumsnet.com is correct. All independent websites have suffered a double whammy shock both with the aforesaid problem with AI chatbots which means internet users avoid visiting websites and with Google's vicious and catastrophically damaging algorithm change which has crucified millions of smaller websites.

Also Google emphasised the need to fully meet their Search Engine Console Core Vitals metrics in order to achieve good search results but in my first hand experience this is simply not true. Your website can have perfect Core Vitals and great content but still be shunned by Google search. 

Conversely you can have crap Core Vitals and be successful.

It is troubling times for websites and I wonder why Google think that it is a good idea to kill-off websites. Also ChatGPT works against Google Adsense as there are less visits on the face of it.

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More info on OpenAI:


OpenAI is an American research company focused on artificial intelligence (AI). Their goal is to ensure that AI, specifically artificial general intelligence (AGI), is developed in a way that benefits humanity [OpenAI: Artificial intelligence company]. AGI is a hypothetical type of AI that would be as intelligent as a human, able to perform any intellectual task that a human can.

OpenAI conducts research on safe and beneficial AGI, with the aim of making sure this powerful technology is used for good [OpenAI: Artificial intelligence company]. They believe that AI has the potential to be incredibly beneficial to society, but also recognize the potential risks. Their research focuses on developing AI that is aligned with human values and that won't pose a threat.  

Ownership of OpenAI:


OpenAI has a unique ownership structure. Here's the breakdown:
  • Microsoft is the biggest stakeholder, owning around **49%** of the company. They've invested heavily in OpenAI, providing both funding (over $13 billion) and computational resources through their Azure cloud platform [Wikipedia: OpenAI].
  • The remaining 49% is divided among other investors. Some notable names include venture capital firms like a16z, Sequoia Capital, and Founders Fund [Techopedia: Who Owns OpenAI? Here's All You Need to Know].
  • It's important to note that there's also a non-profit arm, OpenAI Inc., which retains some control and aims to preserve the organization's original goals [Wikipedia: OpenAI].
  • So, while Microsoft has a significant stake, OpenAI isn't solely owned by a single entity. It's a collaboration between a tech giant, investors, and a non-profit organization. 
The above information comes from Gemini. I can't see how it can benefit humanity when it kills off websites and harms many thousands of small businesses dependent on internet traffic via Google search.

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P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Ghostly Evan Gershkovich at Russian trial

The espionage trial of US journalist Evan Gershkovich is concluding. He looks like a ghost. He was smiling before at earlier hearings but I am pessimistic about his prospects. I am sure that he hopes that the US will do a deal and swap some Russian spies for him. That is why the Kremlin detained him on spurious charges. But he could end up in some crappy Russian hell-hole of a jail for years and see his health wane to the point where his life is in jeopardy.

Ghostly Evan Gershkovich at Russian trial
The ghostly figure of Evan Gershkovich at his trial. He is fading away before our eyes. Image: ABC News.

Russian prosecutors are seeking a prison sentence of 18 years for Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich.

"Gershkovich, 32, was arrested March 29, 2023, while on a reporting trip to the Ural Mountains city of Yekaterinburg. Authorities claimed, without offering any evidence, that he was gathering secret information for the U.S. He pleaded not guilty, according to the court, and The Wall Street Journal and the U.S. government have called the trial a sham." - ABC News.

Russian court has sentenced US journalist Evan Gershkovich to 16 years in prison, Russian news agencies report from the court in Yekaterinburg. As mentioned he could well die in a Russian prison. A lot do. He is going to start his sentence in a "high security correctional facility" which is where the judge sent him. His employer says that he was simply doing his work as a journalist. He did not admit guilt during the trial. The prosecutor asked for 18 years. It is claimed to be a sham trial for political purposes.

This is how he looks normally:

Ghostly Evan Gershkovich at Russian trial
Image: DPA


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P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Destruction of democracy in the UK in silencing climate change campaigners

A shocking threat to rights of free speech in the UK has just occurred. This is not just about the right of free speech, it also about climate change in how governments deal with it. 

The UK is edging towards a fascist state as far as I'm concerned. This latest criminal court judgement supports my thinking.  Please read Hallam's enormous tweet which is at the end of this article. You get first hand reporting. The judge was arrogant and wrong. Very wrong.

I can't find the judge's reasoning. I think he referred to the campaigners as 'fanatics'. I also think he was very biased against them and it would not surprise me if he did not believe that climate change exists and drives an enormous SUV. Yes, I am pissed off with this judge. It is not just me.

The former lord chancellor, Lord Falconer of Thoroton said that he was 'uncomfortable' with the sentences although Sir Robert Buckland said they were justified.

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A record five-year jail term has been handed out to Roger Hallam, 58, for coordinating the climate change protests under the Just Stop Oil banner which disrupted the M25 in London over four days in 2022. 

45 protesters climbed gantries on the motorway, forcing police to stop the traffic. Four others, campaigners in the Just Stop Oil organisation, were each jailed for four years. They were found guilty of conspiring to cause a public nuisance under a new draconian law which curbs free-speech and peaceful protest.

This is controversial legislation introduced by the previous government to get tough on disruptive tactics used by environmental protesters. They were charged under the Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Act 2022.

There is shock over this sentence which is a record for a person engaged in peaceful protest. Yes, I will capitalise that: PEACEFUL PROTEST.

The previous Conservative government got their knickers in a twist over these Just Stop Oil protests because they were very disruptive. That made them effective. These campaigners felt that they had to be disruptive in order to make their statement clear to everybody. That's the nature of a peaceful protest. But the right wing government now ousted by Labour, decided to clampdown on them and at the same time clampdown on free speech. And also at the same time to ignore climate change.

It's utterly shocking to people like me. And to Chris Packham, the naturalist and broadcaster. He said that the sentence of five years handed down to Roger Hallam, was a threat to free speech and he has called for a meeting with Richard Hermer KC, the attorney general, "as rapidly as possible so that we could address this grotesque miscarriage of justice".

He also said that we need to be "clear, be very very clear this is not just about climate activism. The laws that have been drafted, the injustices that are being wrought, threaten all rights of free speech. We stand here today because our future security may be compromised by the reckless and irresponsible erosion of human rights, of our fundamental freedoms. I stand here because I believe this represents the direct theft of our freedom, the destruction of our democracy, the deliberate and calculated intimidation of our protesters, and that, unless we resist this, the very real danger is our species will destroy life on earth will stop"

He's of course referring to climate change which really concerns him as it should concern all of us. He is a conservationist. He was to protect wildlife which is increasingly under dire threat across the globe because of global warming.

The sentencing is particularly grotesque as this government has decided to release criminals after 40% of their sentence. The country is releasing genuine criminals early in order to make room in overcrowded prisons while at the same time clearly, over-punishing genuine people who are concerned about the future of humankind on this planet. It is BONKERS.

There have been calls to repeal the above-mentioned act. The sentence was also criticised by Tom Southerden, Amnesty International UK's law and human rights adviser. He wants the act repealed. He said that "These lengthy jail sentences for people seeking climate justice should increase the alarm over the ongoing crackdown against peaceful protest in this country, which violates all our human rights. With our overcrowded prison system already described as a ticking timebomb by the new Lord Chancellor these jail terms are all the more indefensible."

The judge who handed down this grotesque sentence is Judge Christopher Hehir. Shame on him. He is not worthy to be a judge.

Update:

Hallam said this (and a lot more - see his tweet below):

The crime? 
Giving a talk on civil disobedience as an effective, evidence-based method for stopping the elite from putting enough carbon in the atmosphere to send us to extinction. I have given hundreds of similar speeches encouraging nonviolent action and have never been arrested for it. This time I was an advisor to the M25 motorway disruption, recommending the action to go ahead to wake up the British public to societal collapse.
His tweet:


From Just Stop Oil:

Professor McGuire, Emeritus Professor of Geophysical & Climate Hazards at University College London, said:

“The trial and verdict were a farce. They mark a low point in British justice and they were an assault on free speech. The judge’s characterisation of climate breakdown as a matter of opinion and belief is completely nonsensical and demonstrates extraordinary ignorance. Similarly to suggest that the climate emergency is irrelevant in relation to whether the defendants had a reasonable case for action is crass stupidity.” 

Sir David King, the government’s former Chief Scientific Adviser, said:

“This is so disgraceful. We are all hoping that the change in UK Govt will also change the situation in our courts.”

As mentioned, this legislation is controversial. It provides for stiffer sentences for protesters who block roads. It was backed by the current Prime Minister. But it has been condemned by the United Nations human rights Commissioner as "deeply troubling" and "disproportionate".

In sentencing, Judge Christopher Hehir, told the activists: 

"The plain fact is that each of you some time ago has crossed the line from concerned campaigner to fanatic. You have appointed yourselves as sole arbiters of what should be done about climate change."

Comment:
it appears to me that he is introducing his personal opinion about these campaigners. It seems to me to be biased to describe the most fanatics.

Hallam described the criminal court that he attended as a "kangaroo court".

The trial was criticised by the UN's Special Rapporteur for Environmental Defenders, Michel Forst, who described the threat of a long sentence against Daniel Shaw [one of the defendants sentenced to 4 years] as potentially unlawful. Speaking on the eve of the first day of the trial, he warned: "The imposition of such a sanction is not only appalling but may also violate the United Kingdom's obligations under international law."

The danger is that the harsh sentences will fire up the campaigners to do more. It will be a catalyst for more extreme action against climate change inertia.
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P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

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