Spoilers Review: Game of Thrones Season 6 Episode 9 “Battle of the Bastards”

Call me a nerd.  I’m actually upset at myself sometimes for being able to predict movie plots and twists.  When I saw Aidan Gillen listed in the opening credits, I connected this with the knowledge that Sansa Stark wrote to the Vale to ask Peter Baelish (ie. Littlefinger) for help in the previous episode.  I knew that the knights of the Vale would come in at some point to turn the tides in the battle of the bastards.  The question was how late.

As late as possible, pretty much.

That aside, the episode itself was nothing short of incredible.  With a reported budget of over 10 million (I got the feeling that the producers saved much of the season’s budget for this episode, hence the dullness in some of the earlier episodes), the episode was well-shot, with almost-seamless CGI, greatly choreographed, and intense.  The moments when Jon Snow was being trampled felt incredibly claustrophobic, very well done by the cinematographer.

The battle at Mereen was entertaining, as well, with strong dragon CGI, and witty dialogue that were to the point.

One more thing about the Bastard’s downfall.  While other reviewers were expressing their enjoyment of watching Ramsey getting the shit punched out of him by Jon and the subsequent doggy death, I was clenching my fists thinking “stop! you’re killing him too fast! Don’t give him a quick death!”  Ramsey’s psychotic, murderous, raping, and ravaging path spanned over seasons, starting with the torture of Theon.  To have him die within a day was way too easy for him.  I would have liked to have seen them keep him prisoner and do to him some of the things he’s done to people.

Some are labeling this their favorite Game of Thrones episode ever.  I’m not too sure about that.  The episode lacked the emotional gravitas compared to the episode where Tyrion gave his epic speech at his murder trial, or when he kills his own father, or the one where Jon kills the whitewalker.  I’d certainly place “Battle of the Bastards” in my top 5.

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Society’s ‘Elites’ and My Inner Bane

Those of you who have read my review on “The Dark Knight Rises” will know that I am not the biggest fan of the film.  Having said that, I have, not entirely on my on will, gone to see it a second time at the theater.  Proving the fact that when I saw the film the first time it was a 12:30 pm show had no effect on my view on it (as that’s quite early in the day for me), I felt the same after the second viewing.  The film still felt clunky, uneven, and tainted with illogicalities in the plot. I did, however, gain some new perspective, not about the messages and themes that the film expressed, but on a rather personal basis.  It has to do with the allure, desire, insanity, and chaos, that money, and the idea of money, brings to society.

This train of thought spawned from a conversation in the film between John Daggett and Bane.  Daggett is a billionaire investor who financially backed Bane’s operations and sought to take over Wayne Enterprises.  After (small spoilers) Daggett realized that he failed to become head of the Wayne board, he confronted Bane, yelling at him to the point where it was obvious that he had forgotten his place.  When Bane revealed a glimpse of his madness on Daggett, the conversation went as follows:

Daggett:  “I gave you a lot of money.”

Bane: “And that gives you power over me?”

What happened next isn’t really relevant to the discussion at hand.  This little verbal exchange, and the subsequent chaos that Bane laid upon Gotham and its privileged class, provided me with a fresh basket of food for thought.

Coincidentally, recently, I have been presented with the opportunity to become a part of this elite class of society, where money is in the blood and veins of its very own infrastructure.  I found myself indulging in the same things that the privileged folks in Gotham indulged in.  Luxury. Whenever I am at a place of glorious opulence I found myself feeling like I’m in a different world, somehow establishing the dynamic of ‘us’ and ‘them’, because of where I was and what that meant.

We are in a society where money rules.  Like it or not, capitalism is the way of the world right now, and as long as it remains so, society will always be driven by the accumulation of wealth.  Now, there are arguments both ways on whether if it’s a good or a bad thing.  Some might even argue that it’s neither good nor bad, that it’s just the way of the world and doesn’t affect people on a personal basis (who they ‘are’, their morals, etc).  I happen to believe that personal wealth and the accumulation of wealth significantly influences a person’s character, demeanor, and morals beliefs.

Some people are born into well-off families and thus might have an easier path towards accumulating wealth, others might have to fight a lot harder to gain the same amount of wealth.  Everyone in society today have to make decisions involving money, whether if it’s spending it, betting it, investing it, burning it… and seeing Bane utter those words reminded me that we should be the ones in control of money, not vice versa.

It is perhaps unclear though, Bane’s specific targeting of society’s affluent.  Was he waging war against Gotham because of the class inequality? Is this what he and the League of Shadows fought for, albeit through extremist means?

I might not be the excommunicated leader of the League of Shadows who is looking to terrorize a city, send it into anarchy, and tear down the upper class.  The method with which I strive to combat the corruption of money is much more introspective.  When I am faced with thematic decisions in life where money might be a factor, everything from work, education, even relationships… I need to conjure up my inner Bane: Stay true to myself, and don’t let money control me.

RIP: Neil Armstrong Dead at 82

Read the news and updates at the HuffPost link here .

The one who took the giant step for mankind.

You will be missed, Mr. Armstrong.  Even though I was born long after you took the first step on the moon, your legacy has lived on stronger than ever.  You were an inspiration for so many children and adults alike, and you will always be one.

Rest In Peace.

I’m back…. Again. But not just about politics this time!

Hi all,

Although I know for a fact that not many people read my blog, I would still like to let you all know that, after taking a sudden and unforeseen break from blogging, the theme of this blog will change to something more general and all-encompassing.  Here’s why:

After immersing myself in the world of politics (mostly American politics) for a while, I had grown tired and cynical, to the point where I no longer was interested in the political issues of the day.  The kind of stalemate the come about as a result of pure power struggles while both the Republican and the Democratic party claim to be acting in the interests of the people have become unbearable.

In fact, my taking a break from reading up on politics has added to my admiration for those who dive into it everyday; all the cable news hosts, political pundits, not to mention the politicians.  I don’t know how they do it.  Perhaps it’s their passion for politics that keeps them going.

Yes, the Democrats will have to fight.  Yes, the Obama campaign is being out-raised in the past few months. But I’m not quite convinced that the wealth folks on the liberal side are willing to risk losing this election because of the issue of money.  Individuals such as George Soros will keep on stepping it up, and go toe to toe with the Koch brothers.

So yea, that’s enough politics for today.  What I wanted to say is, from now on, in addition to the political talks and movie reviews that I’ll still be doing, I will also be writing on numerous topics, such as my life experiences, philosophy (yes! fascinating subject), and others.

Writing is still my passion.  I will never give it up.  Unfortunately, over the past month or so, various things have kept me from firing away at the keyboard.  But now that things have calmed down, I will return to being a… uh… blogger!

Cheers

Politics Daily #18 – When Stats Become The It Thing In Politics

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In a recent article on the Huffington Post, Bill James, the Godfather behind analyzing statistics in a unique way that helped Billy Beane and the Oakland A’s achieve success in “Moneyball”, discusses the potential effectiveness of using mass data-gathering and numbers-crunching, a method famously known as ‘sabermetrics’, in politics.

The two main things that James suggests are: being nice to the opposing candidate, and; running on a platform not expected by the other side.

James argues that a candidate can take weapons away from his opponent simply by being nice to him, as the opponent would look like an ass if he chooses to attack him.  While this might be true, there has been a fairly solid record of negative attack ads working in American Presidential politics history (remember the Swift-Boat Veterans?), although perhaps there is a difference for voters between watching negative TV ads and hearing the candidates say negative things themselves.

The ability to attack a political opponent without looking like an ass is a fine art, of course, as only the best of the best, such as Bill Clinton, can do so with ease.  The article highlights the fact that Clinton was noted as not having gone after Mitt Romney.  This act of non-action precisely provides Clinton the ability to say “this guy’s (Romney) good, but my guy’s better” and campaign with class and integrity.

The second thing is more pertinent to the timing in which the method is used, and to what extent the issue resonates with voters come November.  In a sense, the method is as simple as the campaign having gone through data research and latching onto an issue and say “lets go with that.”  The one raised in the article by Jonah Keri, in getting out the Latino vote, strikes an important note on the Democratic campaign.  Getting more people to cast their ballots for the first time will always help the Democrats more than the Republicans.

Interestingly enough, as if the Obama administration had read what Bill James has to say, right after I finished reading the article on Huffpost, I received a news alert on my phone from the New York Times titled: “U.S. Will Give Immunity to Some Young Illegal Migrants.”

Check out the article detailing the news on the Huffpost here, and the New York Times here.

Politics Daily #17 – Sam Brownback Signs Bill Banning Islamic Law in Kansas

Actually, technically, no he didn’t.

But such was the title of the Huffpost article.  In reality, governor Brownback is signing into law a measure that prohibits courts and government agencies from basing their decisions on foreign legal codes, namely the Islamic Shariah law.  The intention of this bill was to ensure that legal cases in Kansas are only decided by American laws and constitutions.

Sounds kind of patriotic, doesn’t it? It was probably Brownback’s intention to make it appear so, as well.

When I saw the headline, I somewhat interpreted, my previous impression of Brownback as a staunch conservative, especially on social issues, the headline as ‘Sam Brownback hates Islam.’  While that might be entirely possible at a personal level, the signing of this bill, or even the contents of the bill, do not really support the notion that Brownback is targeting Islam specifically with this bill.  Hence I found the article title somewhat misleading.

Politics Daily #16 – The Wisconsin Recall Debate: Tom Barrett vs. Scott Walker

The first of two gubernatorial debates between Tom Barrett (D) and Scott Walker (R) took place last night, as Barrett aggressively went after Walker on a wide range of issues, including his out-of-state fundraising, the incendiary bill that stripped collective bargaining rights from most public workers, and his efforts to appeal to the far-right on the national level.

For a more detailed account about the debate, check out the Huffpost report here.

Mr. Barrett said during the debate that Wisconsin has lost “more jobs than any other state in the entire country in 2011,” and that Walker’s policies were polarizing to the point where it was impossible in some instances for neighbors to talk to neighbors, for relatives to talk to relatives, for workers to talk to co-workers.

And then there’s Walker, sticking to his talking points and talking about creating jobs.

It never ceases to boggle my mind that so many Republican politicians such as Walker keeps on talking about creating jobs while slashing spending.  My understanding of how government works is that it needs revenue in order to pay its employed workers.  As much as so many Republicans / conservatives / Ron Paul supporters want to turn the United States into an almost-government-free libertarian state, America is far from that.  Government jobs still encompass a large portion of the workforce as a whole.

So common sense should dictate that the less money government has, the weaker its ability to hire people.

On the other hand, Republicans have never stopped declaring their belief that the private sector is where most jobs are created, and we have heard too often that wealth will trickle down from top to bottom. This notion has all but proven to be untrue, as for example, the fat cats at Wall Street are back to business as usual with almost no new regulation imposed on them while the working class in America continue to struggle.

Soon-to-be-ex Governor Walker lit the fuse that blew up in his face when he wanted to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights, rights that represent entrenched values of working society and the relationship between the worker and the owner.  A landslide defeat could be depicted as a small-scale version of the defeat of Nicholas Sarkozy in France, as a rejection of borderline-outrageous fiscal conservatism.

Check out this article for a list of reasons why Scott Walker should be recalled.