Data Protection

Big Brother State wants your data


In response to the encroachment of an increasingly surveillance-empowered state, the Open Rights Group has set up the spoof website Statebook.  A clever form of protest against a government which has much to hide (except when it gets caught watching porn films paid for by the taxpayer or sending out slanderous e-mails to discredit its detractors), yet wants carte blanche access to its’ citizens’ personal data.


The power of coincidence before sunrise

Some time ago on this blog I mentioned the remarkable coincidence that occurred when I happened to have exactly the same amount in loose change in my pocket as what the supermarket bill came to.

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Sunrise

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Sunrise

Another coincidence of sorts happened to me more recently. When on one of my (now increasingly rare) trips into town (ie Central London) on the pretext of attending a data protection seminar (yes, I know fascinating stuff), I stopped at a branch of a well-known recorded media retailer to acquire some CDs and DVDs. On my shopping list was Before Sunrise, a film from the mid-’90s starring Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke as two young free-spirited travellers, one French and one American who meet by chance on a train bound for Vienna. It’s quite an uplifting film with a simple plot in which nothing of note actually happens, except that the two characters (the only main characters in the film) wander around Vienna over the course of 24 hours and have various quasi-intellectual conversations on life, death, art, philosophy, then have sex with each other in a park (an uneccesary event which lowers the tone of the film by the way), and sleeping rough, before going their own separate ways agreeing to meet up again at the same place in 6 months time.

The type of film you’d see late on a Sunday night on Channel 4 thanks to the generous sponsorship of a well-known Belgian brewer famous for its pretentious black and white commercials featuring French peasants of the Resistance during the second world war. I’d seen the film before a few years ago (probably late one Sunday night on Channel 4 come to think of it, and being knackered at the work the next day), but was keen to revisit it to pick up on any points I’d missed out the first time – and also for the mesmerising song “Living Life” played over the end credits, which captures the spirit of the film pefectly.In any case it was going quite cheaply, so I bought it safe in the knowledge that I could always flog it off on Amazon once I’d watched it a few more times.

It’s one of those films like Crocodile Dundee, Jaws or Psycho which stands out on its own and thus making a sequel is tantamout to sacrilege. But a sequel did come out about a decade after the original. And predictably enough it didn’t live up to the standard. Swapping Vienna for Paris with the characters 10 years older just didn’t do it for me.

Anyway, the coincidence was that the very next day, the arts section of The Independent (which on Fridays publishes old reviews of films from years gone by) happened to have a retro-review of that very film.

Stranger things have happened though.  Who would have thought 6 months ago that Tyrone would be in another All Ireland final and Stephen O’Neill back in the squad?