Tuesday 29 May 2012

North & South - Groupwatch and Interpretation

Servetus has a wonderful and personal analysis of North & South and each episode in detail on her blog, which is an excellent preparation for the collective viewing organized by Fanny/iz4blue.
More details about the  
collective North & South watch
1st / 2nd / 3rd of June, 2012
(e.g. times and preparations) can be found on her specially created blog ArmitageWatch.

When I read Servetus' analysis, I wondered, why I agreed in so many aspects and often even in points which were determined by personal experience or background.
So I was quite surprised to discover that I disagree in a whole part of her interpretation of North & South, when I did go along for all the other parts, so far.

As I made such a lot of notes, when reading Servetus interpretation, I just did not want to take over her blog with my unending discussion and points and so decided to do an own blog-post, as I already planned to write something about North & South to remind everyone of the coming group watch on 1st/2nd/3rd of June, 2012.
But now, with part 4 a-2, I seem to have a separate interpretation, which is certainly coloured by my individual experiences, which in so many aspects are so similar to Mr. Thornton's.

(I will not reveal all too many comparisons to my own experiences, because I don't want to bore you with my business. Just may it be sufficient here to say, that his way, his struggle between personal interest and risk management, care for his surrounding, his moral values and his place in society, all in all seem very similar to the struggles I went through the last years and am still fighting. To clarify, I don't do 'idiot money schemes'. I can't and I won't and even if it means my going under, which by the way is quite likely anyway.

What I also should warn you about before I start with my post is, that I will eventually be more political or better politically inconvenient than I normally am here on this blog.)

Why I interpret Mr. Thornton and his economic decisions differently to Servetus:

Risky money schemes, especially since about 100 years earlier through the South Sea Bubble, had a very bad reputation in England. Cautious estimations see less than 10% of offered speculations, some even less than 5% indeed win the money back which was invested and in addition being able to pay out success rates.
So by standard comparison, I would say that Mr. Thornton in the common opinion of his time is certainly doing the 'right' thing.
Speculation, especially a risky speculation likely to give him the needed capital, would be very risky and playing with the misfortune of others. Normal investments give slow growing income rates, but those won't help Mr. Thornton in his dire situation, as the one thing he does not have due to the strike, is time.

His contracts with customers, if he can't meet the agreed upon delivery time, and a previously agreed upon delay period, will have the option to chose another producer and most likely will never do business with him again - without asking questions or any chance that they will accept his reasons as sufficient explanation. They want delivery fast, cheap and without problems. Mr. Thornton risks to loose everything (not only money, but also his business reputation) because of the delay caused by the strike.

I don't condemn Mr. Thornton for not wanting to do money schemes as much as Servetus does, especially considering a 10/1 or in case of Margaret's winning investment initiated by Mr. Bell, who invested in the speculation of Fanny's husband, 20/1 investment payout.
Such margins are not realistic and mostly were results of highly speculative and unlikely railway or mine speculations in South America, where lots of people lost all their invested money in the first half of the 19th century, because their well meant investments for supposedly realistic projects were well spent by the money collectors and not in any way connected to a realistic project, which in good time would refund and pay back the investment.

As Mr. Thornton already has a banker, I think a 'normal' way of investing his earnings is already part of his managing of the mills.
Also binding the money in machinery from his viewpoint is a sensible, as well as morally sound decision.
  • It is the only way that allows him to regain income, as he sees machinery as a means to produce, whereas his banker sees it as an investment not directly gaining money, a holdup, binding and annihilating money. Only if used and his products well sold, Mr. Thornton's machinery earns money and this normal course is prevented by the strike.
  • But I also see the new machinery as a morally valuable decision of Mr. Thornton, as it means, he can employ more workers (compensate the burned down mill, eventually get jobs for the new workers from Ireland, though he mentions that most left and went back to Ireland, and still take on large parts of his old workers after the strike.
    Though from the banker's perspective, it has the opposite effect to Mr. Thornton's finances. He does not only have to pay for the burdensome machinery, but also for more workers, this way speeding up his own process of slipping into bankruptcy, though it also is the only way he might have a chance to keep his signed contracts in place. He takes a risky decision, which, under the circumstances of the time, was a sensible and sound decision, as his contract book was full. This he states, when the banker draws his decision into question. Mr. Thornton is right, he made a sound decision, only he could not predict the future and the strike, which changed the outcome of his decision.
The situation for the other mill owners is not in the same dire state, as they have not lost a mill so shortly before the strike. They have space and capacity to fill their orders and eventually don't have such full order books.
In Mr. Thornton's case, even the full order book is a means to get him faster into bankruptcy, as it necessitates him to do large investments to get the products manufactured, while he gets paid long after the products are delivered and his work is done. (Though I think this economic phenomenon that a successful company can go down because of its own success, was only discovered in the 20th century.)

While the contracts and Mr. Thornton's sticking to them, once again shows his morally high standards. He wants to be as good as his word/signature under the contracts, though his circumstances prevent him to be.

The bank in contrast can patiently wait for the sure payment, as his production and money basis is secure every step of the way. Only the peak of production investment and delivery delay escalate at a bad timing, as the strike prevents a continuous manufacturing and fulfilment of the signed contracts.

  • The loss of the mill caused production delays, not only a loss of workers, which Mr. Thornton from a moral standpoint mourns, as he reacts emotionally and not economically calculating to the loss of his workers, though he has to fight the economic consequences.

  • The strike comes at a time when his contract books are full and he already struggles to produce fast enough to fulfil orders in time. He additionally invested in machinery, so he is at a money low, which alone and under normal circumstances would not cause a crisis, considering his full order book, but combined with the strike does.
As a mill tenant, he can't secure his own finances, as he like all entrepreneurs (except companies and holdings, who limit their risk and the compensation a customer / investor can expect) always is fully liable for his economic success and his every decision, even with his private possession, as an entrepreneur 'is' his company. All his possessions, no limitation possible, no part of his finances can be saved or secured.
Company forms with limited risks mostly are of later dates anyway and would not have helped Mr. Thornton. So I must admit, I don't see the moral standards violated in this case. He does not have any other option or any means to prevent the disaster that even can go so far as to lose his and his mother's home.
He saves Fanny in the only way possible, by extracting her form his own household by marrying her off. Otherwise even her fortune/dowry would have been part of the compensation for the bank, which gets its payment without risk, as loans only go as far as securities can be given or they expect to easily get hold of money.

I do see Mr. Thornton follow his principles, though I don't see them at a breaking point at that time. His investments were necessary to fulfil his work as well as his moral obligations. Though a banker would not follow him on a work-fulfilment nor on a moral justification basis. A banker only would see his full order book, which is the main argument Mr. Thornton gives in the only language a banker understands, money and orders mean payment and money.
I think Margaret's comment at the breakfast table in London gives the essential hint for the interpretation of Mr. Thornton. She would rather honestly earn money by her hands work than by speculation. And that in my opinion is the moral guideline, as speculation in all cases leaves losers on the way to the success of a few. Money never comes from nowhere, but from another's pockets, though bankers mostly don't make the connection (sorry if I offend someone with this - I know quite some bankers). Risky speculation robs someone who might not be immediately obvious, but in the end still is there and losing.
(Even the successful risky 'adventures' were projects where someone lost. e.g. as a very famous example the pirating projects of Queen Elizabeth were financially few of the very successful ones'. I would think Spain, Portugal and France might look at them quite differently ;o)

I even see the film version of "North & South" as quite a modern point of critique to the money market, though compared to the first half of the 19th century, some security measures are in place for some.
Some aspects still continue unchanged. The honest worker, who can't survive from his day's work, because of risky speculations and bankers only interested in large margins which have nothing to do with what work can realistically earn or gain, is a very contemporary problem, not only 19th century nostalgia.
Bankers as well as companies are speculating with the misfortune of others. Nothing has changed in that regard since the 19th century.

Mr. Thornton took risks, though he surely is no gambler and trusting friend like his father was. (Does he even have close friends? I think he understandably has a trust issue, where even his sister partially is not included in his inner circle of trust, but only his mother. And Margaret has a hard time to prove she is worthy to enter this close knit circle.)
Even in this aspect I feel closely connected to Mr. Thornton, as my 'friend' base suffered greatly through taking up a business, as people know you as long as they think they can get an advantage from a connection with you.
In a way, it is the comparison between the party of the Thorntons and the situation when Mr. Thornton sits alone with his mother when news breaks that the risky venture of Fanny's husband succeeded and Mr. Thornton still is deep in his financial troubles. Nobody of the party even thinks about visiting him in his problematic situation.

I know that my interpretation is much more guided by circumstances and historic background of Mr. Thornton and his decisions, so I am not sure if it can give more argument to Servetus' own inerpretation or defence, but I hope at least to open a consoling option.
As much as I see Mr. Thornton betraying his principles for Margaret Hale, I don't see him doing the same or even struggling with his principles in this case. He follows his principles as far as he can, he does not want praise for his efforts, but is his only judge. He tries to do his duty and to fulfil his moral obligations. When all his duties collide, he for himself does not allow himself to expand his moral sense and allow himself more options to act. His main interest is to prevent hurting others any more than absolutely necessary.

Servetus, certainly brings out the radical in me ;o)

As my situation in a lot of aspects is very similar to the one of Mr. Thornton, it makes me more likely to defend him. But after all, I don't see him at fault in his economic decisions.
I don't see it as a sticking to principle which causes his downfall. He goes through these problems which he cannot prevent with his principles intact and not even put into question. The only thing one could accuse Mr. Thornton of is, that he is out of luck, but nobody can predict or guarantee his own luck. That strikes become a certainty one has to calculate into economic decisions, is not yet a thing Mr. Thornton seems to realise, though during the strike, he seems to have won that experience, as his comment at the Exhibition in London shows that he expects strikes to remain.
After my year 2011, I can very much sympathise with the out-of-luck aspect of Mr. Thornton ;o)

I wish all readers lots of luck with all their decisions, as care and planning is good, but luck with them is even better ;o)

Friday 25 May 2012

Good Actors ...

Now to the story from a long time ago, which was what I really wanted to post today, before the long and sunny Pfingst-Weekend:

An experienced scriptwriter once told me that there are two kinds of good actors:

  • the one's who are 'brainless' and empty shells and
  • the one's who are mindful, thoughtful and full of deep analysis and even contradictions.

You surely will ask, like I did back then, how those two entire opposites both can be 'good actors'.
And the scriptwriter drew a deep breath and started with his further explanations, he had wanted to give us listeners all along.

The 'brainless actors' (for better usability just let us classify them so short and unkindly) are open and welcoming vessels to open up to, receive and portray the instructions given by the producer. They are not hindered by own thoughts and problems and can, without inner resistance or hindrance, mirror the directions of the producer.

Now we were really curious what the 'thoughtful actor' could reach, when the 'thoughtless actor' could already reach such an ideal degree of producer's wishes.

So the scriptwriter continued to explain:
A 'thoughtful actor' on the contrary to the other one has by far a harder way in his career.
He needs to get brain and body to act as one and has to bring the body to show what the mind thinks or wants to show.
This is a long and hard way of try and error, of refining one's skills, of observing, adjusting, assimilating and polishing each gesture, each reaction, each emotion, welcoming all depths of the human mind.

Now he had our undivided attention. What was the sense of training so hard, when the 'mindless actor' could already fulfill the wishes of the producer?

His stunning answer was:
The producer is no actor. He sees a scene with his own expectations and point of view and gives his directions in crude words, formulating his wishes as closely as he can manage.
Only the 'thoughtful actor' can ever dream of surpassing the formulated instructions and to exceed the word and meet the expectations of the producer, reaching a stage far beyond the directions given by word, whereas the 'mindless actor' never has a chance to reach that stage.

Now, why did I tell you all this?
I am sure you are aware, that this blog normally talks about actor Richard Armitage.
He in all aspects of his acting, is a very thoughtful actor and in my view has reached this further stage of excellence.
He is able to fill his roles not only with what is expected from him and the producer can manage to put into words, but with life and breath, with reality, which makes all his characters human, understandable and opens them for the viewer to connect with them and build own imagined worlds around them.

So there are mere good actors and there are excellent actors like Richard Armitage !

Men on a Telephone - ARGHHH .... - I urgently need some RA-Therapy!

Today, during work, I suddenly get a call on my mobile phone. I never get a call there, as I normally don't give out this number and I am generally available on my other phone which also is my business phone all day long anyway.
A man I don't know, speaking quite familiarly to me, oh, I just need to remember him. Do I? Oh ... yes..., he is the contact who liked my business site on Facebook today.
What do you think he wanted ... - No! You are wrong, no information about my company.

He wanted to invite me into a concert at the weekend. He comes down from his northern town to my town and just had the congenial idea, after he saw my picture, I could fill his spare time up nicely.

My thoughts were rather close to: Could I strangle him through a mobile telephone line?

Why on earth did he 'like' my business page? To soften me up for his approach?

Now, after taking a calming shower, my thoughts are going round what picture I could use on my Facebook profile instead? Oh, I have the idea, I should take a picture of my father! - But that would not match the name... Not good. It also would irritate the professional contacts who already know me by sight. So perhaps better leave it as it is.

Did I ever tell you what I think about German behaviour in social networks? - Better don't ask! (And fortunately there are exceptions, even to bad rules.)

And most fortunately of all, there is a therapy to go to and calm down ;o)

One man who only utters sensible things during interviews, where others would be short for words. Who even can nicely hold his ground, even in interviews with chatty interviewers.

John Mulligan can take me out to dinner any time he likes ;o)
Source: RichardArmitageNet.com (Edited)

Tomorrow, I will start into a wonderfully long weekend (Pfingsten) and will be far away from 'sofisticated southern town life'.

Have a nice weekend and wherever possible, hopefully a long and sunny one!

Thursday 17 May 2012

Fan-Art & King Richard

To do fan-art about RA and leave out another Richard, right now is something quite impossible to me ;o)
So please excuse, that I had to come back to King Richard with my fan-art.

I experimented a bit with the crown:

And finally, came back to my first King Richard Armitage black-and-white image, when it came to create my bag ;o)

Monday 14 May 2012

Fan-Art Continued

Inspired by JazRangoon's creative idea, I continued with drawing, to get my mind focused.

As I am not so talented with colours or free drawing and painting myself, I went back to my black-and-white projects.
Some went well, others not so much (I will spare you the total spoils ;o)

I also have some images, where RA appeares softer, but you will immediately recognize, they do not resemble him that well.

That got me thinking, why I especially have pictures of an angry looking Richard Armitage around. They are on my working desk, behind me on my shelf (to get me back to work ;o)...

Astonishingly, RA looking severe and angry has the best effect on my working mood. I think it has to do, that as a ground tendency, I want to please and so an angry looking RA has the best effect on me trying to work harder to please ;o)
Not that it entirely works that way, fortunately we are much too complicated for that. But fortunately I have a few people around me who believe in me, as that is a very good motivator for me to work as well. As I doubt myself, only my doubts otherwise would motivate me to prove me wrong and I must admit, I am very hard to please.

So it is much better to have an angry looking RA around ;o)

Thursday 10 May 2012

Creative Fan-Art Project

I re-watched Spooks 7 – 10 lately.
The stunning thing for me was that Spooks 9 suddenly made more sense, whereas I still – or even more so than before – was disappointed about Spooks 10. Even some of the sentences uttered sounded a bit out of character / context / stiff / cliché, and I had to drag myself through the episodes, whereas Spooks 9 at least every minute was gripping. But let’s better talk about something else ;o)

e.g. about the "North & South" group-watch on 1st / 2nd of June 2012, initiated by Fanny/iz4blue. More details can be found on her specially created blog here.

And JasRangoon had such a brilliant idea, I as a rather minor artistically talented person had to take up immediately.
As I could not leave or send her the picture, I publish it here as a response to her blog post.

She suggested 'colouring' greyscale printed images of Richard Armitage and posted an example.

Here is my response and funny experiment in colouring CBeeBies

It was great fun and also set me back on a bit of a creative path again.
My further experiments and results will follow in the next days ;o)