The Shawshank Redemption is widely regarded by many people, me including, to be one of the best movie ever made, the work of Franck Darabont (director) and Stephen King (author) was a truly powerful combination. 

Then came Michael Clark Duncan and the "Green Mile"

The term "GENTLE GIANT" is a cliché, but in the case of Michael Clarke Duncan, it was completely appropriate and so true.

In the Green Mile, Duncan was a marvellous revelation and his performance was just exceptional. When I saw him in this movie, I had no idea how good he was, and quite frankly, I couldn’t believe he didn’t win an Oscar for best supporting actor that year.

His play as “John Coffey” was special; he blew me away and broke my heart. A truly amazing and show-stopping performance...

In 1999, Tom Hanks was about as big a movie star as there was in the world at that particular moment, and while he may have been the face on the poster and the name that guaranteed the budget, Michael Clarke Duncan is the reason "The Green Mile" is "The Green Mile" 

With a casting as dense with talent as that one was, Duncan's performance as "John Coffey" was truly unique. When Stephen King himself visited the set, he was so pleased and so surprised to be dealing with this tangible near-perfect realization of the character he created.

In everyday life, Michael Clark Duncan was an incredibly easy person to be around, open and friendly and well aware of his own iconic visual impact.  He knew that he was a mountain of a man, and even if his presence, in the Green Mile, was exaggerated using forced perspective, old-fashioned fruits boxes and camera angles to make him bigger, he was huge in real life. 

He was the sort of person who filled a space with a great laugh, a great sense of humour and play, and a real love for life and the people around him.

Like many people, I didn't know he'd had a heart attack a few months ago, but certainly recovery from that is never easy, and it sounds like it was just a natural hiccup, the result of never quite catching his wind again after his last near-miss. 

I imagine there are people all through the movie industry and around the world, who probably felt a very deep and personal loss when they heard this news, and my condolences go out to all of those who were close to him, friends and family.

God Bless you, Michael Clark Duncan, God Bless “John Coffey”…

Lance still worth revering [Rick Reilly|ESPN]

I'm wearing something yellow Friday for Lance Armstrong. Not because I think he's innocent. He just gave up his chance to prove his innocence, so I suppose he isn't.
But I don't care. I'm wearing yellow just to say thank you. If he cheated in a sport where cheating is as common as eating, then I'm wearing yellow to thank him for everything he's done since he cheated.
I'm wearing something yellow for the way he changed cancer in this country from dread to hope. I'm wearing something yellow for everybody who got their chilling cancer diagnosis and said to themselves, "Lance did it. Why can't I?"
Want to join me?
Dig out your old Livestrong bracelet. Wear a yellow scarf, yellow socks, watch "Old Yeller." Just make yellow a part of your Friday.
Yes, the United States Anti-Doping Agency -- riding roughshod on slippery rules and sketchy standards -- declared Armstrong guilty of doping. Then last Friday, Armstrong stopped fighting them. "Enough is enough," he wrote. It might as well have been a firing squad. It was that one-sided.
When a man who never quits finally quits, you don't know how to feel.
"It was a somber moment," says his agent, Bill Stapleton. "He looked at his options and it was like, 'Which one is the best worst?' You can't go on with these kind of legal bills, with people tearing apart your work. It was just too hard on his family."
Sure, Armstrong could go to arbitration. But he's already spent over $5 million on his defense, according to friends. And would you go to arbitration, knowing that USADA sets up the rules of arbitration, sets up the rules of what can be admitted into arbitration and approves the arbitrators? Would you go, knowing it could take two or three more years? Knowing that even if you won, USADA could appeal?
So, yes, USADA has stripped him of his seven Tour de France titles even though nobody's still quite sure they can strip him. If Switzerland investigates Roger Federer and finds he doped, can it take away his U.S. Open trophies?
It's all ugly. The whole sport is ugly. If the Union Cycliste Internationale, cycling's governing body, upholds the penalty, do you realize that 14 of the last 17 TdF winners would be expunged? And what will they do with them? In five of Armstrong's seven wins, the second-place finishers were implicated in doping scandals of their own. One year -- 2003 -- you have to fish down to fifth place to find somebody clean.
Essentially, this is cycling: If you can get on your bike and make it around your local reservoir without doping, you might have just won next year's Tour de France.
So Lance Armstrong may have cheated, just like everybody else. Or maybe he gave up the fight because the whole thing was more crooked than San Francisco's Lombard Street. After all, USADA convicted him on hearsay, not proof. They don't have a single failed sample to hang their hats on -- Armstrong has never failed one -- so they took the word of riders like self-admitted liar Floyd Landis. The whole thing, all their evidence, is based on testimony, not tests.
Maybe these riders are lying, maybe they're not. I don't care. I'm wearing yellow Friday because I want Armstrong to know what he meant to me, my family and the dozens of people I know who took Armstrong with them into those chemotherapy rooms and radiation labs and the darkest corners of their fears.
When my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, the first book she read was his "It's Not About the Bike." She was inspired. She lives. The man is a hope machine.
I'm wearing something yellow Friday because I know he never cheated the cancer patients who believe in him. I've sat with him as he spends his daily hour answering the emails of perfect strangers -- all suddenly cancer-stricken and panicked.
I've watched him pushing the Texas legislature, poking the California legislature, prodding the U.S. Congress to free up money for research. I know what he stands for -- $475 million raised to educate cancer patients so far -- and so do millions of others. That's why, the day after his decision to quit trying to prove his innocence, Livestrong took in 770 percent of what it had the day before. That's why every company he endorses has stuck with him.
Fine. If he cheated, wipe him out of the record book. Make him pay back the first-place money he won all those years. He gave it all away to his teammates anyway. There's some irony for you. Plenty of those guys -- George Hincapie, Landis, Tyler Hamilton -- were suspected of, or admitted, using banned substance too.
But wear something yellow Friday just to return the favor. Wear something yellow to tell Lance Armstrong that they might be able to ban him for life, but they can't ban him from life. Wear it to tell him to keep going, to keep fighting for cancer-research legislation, to keep showing people through his Livestrong foundation how to fight through the red tape and get to the treatment that can cure them.
In five years, nobody will want to check to see if Lance Armstrong's name is still attached to those trophies. But in five years, they'll still want him leading any peloton that's trying to chase down cancer.
In an email reply to me Monday, Armstrong said, "Sorry, but I'm done talking about this, forever. I'm focused on what's ahead of me -- not behind. Regardless of the injustice that has been done. Onward and upward."
Friday, it's our turn to talk.


It seems that just about everyone is talking about the KONY2012 video that's received more than 70 million views since it was posted last week on several social media networks, KONY, a former church altar boy, stands accused of overseeing the systematic kidnapping of countless African children, brainwashing young boys into fighting for him, turning girls into sex slaves and killing those who don't comply.

The popular video, which features Jason Russell, Invisible Children co-founder, is trying to find ways to explain KONY's atrocities in an appropriate way to his young son. It is compelling and quite moving. The film ends with a three point call to action:
  1. Sign the Pledge to Show Your Support
  2. Get the Bracelet and the Action Kit" ($30)
  3. Sign Up to Donate a Few Dollars a Month

My concern with this campaign is that the situation is probably more complex than what Invisible Children is painting in this film.

What we have with KONY2012 is, unfortunately, a call to action based on a simple way of bypassing the complexities on the ground in Uganda and in Africa in general. First, Joseph Kony isn’t in Uganda anymore, and hasn’t been for over 6 years and the LRA group (Lord’s Resistance Army) followers number at this point is in the low hundreds and while it is still causing immense suffering, it is unclear how millions of well-meaning but misinformed people, in America and Europe, are going to help deal with. a more complicated reality.
But let me be clear, Invisible Children deserved credit for raising awareness with their social media assault on Joseph Kony, no doubt about that but what Jason Russell seems to forget is that the area of Northern Uganda has been experiencing a time of relative peace and stability since the LRA’s exit six years ago and many over there fear that this campaign may increase conflict in the area. For some, who live there, this film is totally wrong and may bring more problem that help.

Suggesting that the answer, today, is more military action is definitely wrong, more US troops would not help at all and could make KONY scared or go on the offensive, something nobody Gulu and around want to see happen again.

Surprisingly, There have been a lot of criticisms about the film, especially that Jason Russell quoted only three Ugandans, two of them politicians, and that Invisible Children spent more time showing the filmmaker's son being told about Joseph Kony than explaining the root causes of the conflict. 
Curiously missing from the film too,has been voices of Ugandans (other than direct victims) and of experts on African conflict. Why?

I may be wrong or sound arrogant, but to me this look like another social media campaign or charity organisation project where you see an outsider trying to be a hero (the white saviour) rescuing African children ... and unfortunately, it does not end the problem.

Steve Jobs | Here's To The Crazy Ones

iPhone 4S | The little things that matter

I am just coming to terms with how masterful and brilliant Apple is with their marketing.

Since last night (UK Time) everyone knows that specs upgrade isn’t radical, that the design hasn’t change at all (same old iPhone 4), or that the new IOS5 may not be as special as everyone wants it to be (mostly the disappointed one). But one thing that Apple realizes is that Android is like a spider web flooding the smartphone market every week with a new device to increase their market share. The hardware is totally awesome (as usual) but it will be out-dated in a few months.

So Apple goes ahead and takes the exact opposite approach. They give you something that may not be the pinnacle of cutting edge tech, but it still comes close. It is unique, comes from one source, and it isn’t a clone with different skins running on a various scale of hardware sets. All of these things may have value for many people, but there is absolutely nothing to differentiate itself from the next “Droid phones” that comes down the pipe, except for minors variations.

The people at Cupertino have opted to take a more practical approach to their product cycles while capitalizing on their unique branding which can’t be found anywhere else (that’s a fact). Call it pulling a rabbit out of the hat, but they give you ultimate magic.

Reading and listening to business and technology analysts today on those nasty Wall Street programs and others blogs, I was pleasantly surprised to hear or read that most of them (if not all) are quite happy with what the iPhone 4S will offer.

Surprise!!! Not really, just keep in mind that Apple has just barely caught up with the huge demand for the iPhone 4 in the past few weeks, in a market where they’re currently selling it… And the demand, following the iPhone 4S release next week, will just grow to another level with Christmas just around the corner…

But more importantly, from a business point of view, they can now continue to add markets shares (NEERG will disagree on that), increase production to catch up with demand from existing and new markets, that they will continue to add at a faster pace than if they had gone with a complete new hardware refresh (iPhone 5)...

Makes sense to me.

More important, the new features (iCloud | iCards | iTunes Match | Siri | IOS 5 | A5 Chip) will have everyone buzzing about it and the competition racing to try to copy it or develop something similar.  Sales will continue well beyond the estimates of the two or three thousands Writers-Bloggers-Geeks-Idiots who are disappointed today.

But Bloggers and analysts alike may be reminded that they are as wrong about the iPhone 4S as they were about the iPad and the iPad 2 and the iPhone 3GS and the MacBook Air…..


I Am Troy Davis, and so Are You...

My son and I watched  The Green Mile  the other night. You may know the story: An African-American man is falsely accused of murder, and, despite their conviction that he is innocent; his jailers are required to execute him. You see, he was given the death penalty for a crime he didn’t commit.

After the movie ended, my son shook his head and said, “That just isn’t right.”

No. It’s not. But that is just what may have happened this week in Atlanta when  Troy Davis  was put to death after being convicted of murdering a police officer in 1989. When my son asks me about it, and he will, how do I tell him injustice doesn’t only happen in the movies, that truth often resembles fiction, and sometimes it is?
According to the Innocence Project, the case against Troy Davis consisted entirely of witness testimony that contained inconsistencies, even at the time of the trial. Many of the original witnesses have since stated they were pressured or coerced by police into testifying or signing statements against Davis. I wonder what his executioners were thinking in the last moments of Troy Davis life. Perhaps they didn’t doubt his guilt, but I do.

For me, the tragedy and turmoil of his state-sanctioned killing is a reflection of the deep flaws in United States capital punishment system.

But, as people would say, violent criminals are still out there, and they need to be punished. Perhaps, if we could be sure of the criminal's guilt, one could argue there are certain instances in which the death penalty is merited. But can we ever be fully sure?
Unlike the case against Troy Davis, we don’t rely on the questionable testimony of coerced witness these days. We have DNA. Sadly, as we look to DNA to match a violent criminal with a violent crime, we must remember that even this latest of solutions is riddled with problems.

We have someone we think is guilty and we ignore the evidence that might reveal another narrative, one not so neatly solved. And, as any lover of  TheWire  knows, solving cases is critical for police departments and for the careers of police officials. The crime lab scandal in San Francisco shows us that just as eye-witness testimony can be flawed, so can DNA testing. In other words, we simply can’t be sure.

As I kiss my children in bed at night, I try to ignore the horrors that swirl outside our front door: kidnapping, rape, murder. I know they exist; the headlines remind me every day. I choose not to imagine how I might feel if someone, anyone, hurt my beloveds. Perhaps an eye for an eye would be a welcome relief to something so necessarily unimaginable. I don’t know what is right, but I do know what is wrong.

Killing a man who just might be innocent is wrong.

If there was a fool-proof solution, an iron-clad answer, a truth so crystalline nothing murky could mar its clarity, then and maybe only then, an eye for an eye could be justified. But this issue is as gray as the fog that hangs over Our Fair City these recent mornings. I don’t have an answer for my children. Do you?

Is speaking French Posh? [PART 2]

In 2008, I wrote a post about the perception people in England have about speaking French and what, for some of them,  it means in term of standard, status or just "class".

At the time, I was working for IBM UK as an analyst in a busy work place surrender by managers, consultants, software and hardware sales people, who on average were making roughly over £85K a year. One of the think I learned during my time at IGF (IBM Global Finance) was that people who know that they earn way more money than you are, drive an expensive car and own a bigger house than you, look at themselves as superior as you and more educated that you will never be (how could they know that...), and can be really offended (or shocked) when they found out that you have a skill they don't have, specially when the skill I'm talking about (speaking French fluently) is about knowledge and culture...
Believe me I had some funny time, some of the conversation I had were just surreal...

Anyway, 3 years later and I now work for a different company, in a different place. Much smaller, less people around me, a better view from my wide windows (view on the parking lot) and a kitchen fully equipped in the corner.
The big difference, other than the fact that nobody earn a salary close to £85K, is that the perception of people about speaking French or France is still the same.

Nothing make me laugh more than the typical english "dude" trying to tell me "in French" (I mean something they call French...) the name of his favourite cheese or the bottle of red wine he or she has share with his or her partner the night before, then start to explain me how knowledgeable she or he is in French...
Sometime someone will attempt to teach me something about French culture or say to me something like :

" Oh I have been in France before, Oh no, I go in France every weekend to enjoy the food and the forecast and my French is getting better..." ok cool, happy for you but....
" No no wait, you're not the only one to know about France, or French, I do too, I do my shopping at Waitrose..." Ok wait a minute... I don't care where you do you shopping Lol...
"Hey listen I can speak French too, you're not the only one...I know too..." Lol this is not a contest ok, calm down please, we're cool...
"No who do you think you are...speaking French doesn't make you better than me ok.... me too I..." STOP...PLEASE

Then sometime you will have the awkward moment of someone laughing during a conversation I have on the phone with a French client, pretending that "I do understand too" but asking me a few day later to translate something or call for help to deal with French documents....
Then you have the "Google effect", which for some people is like speaking or understanding French or even a good way to learn French and obviously making sure that I know that "now" you too speak the "Chosen Language"

"I can do your job...why are you earning more than me....I know French too..." .....

Pathetic but highly funny... Welcome to my world

Hope you enjoy it.

My Sneakers Collection

A few months ago I received an email from the Careers in Fashion website, to let me know that my Blog (The Peace Blogger) was part of their Top 80 Sneakers Aficionado websites List, and that some of my excellent post about my sneakers collection earned me a place on this list.

I was quite happy about it and still are, I just forgot, at the time, to share that with all of you.

Anyway, for those of you who love Sneakers, Fashion and Life, just have a look at the list itself and take the time to surf on their website...

Careers in Fashion

Something to READ : Joann's Story []

I am a cancer survivor.
My story is about Attitude.

To me, live strong means not living weakly. In order to thrive I must be my own best ally. I can't do that if I'm living weakly, so I must live strong.
I've worn the yellow wristband because It represents victory and the ability to restore happiness in my life after the effects of a disease that has often covered it with clouds of sadness

There have been many moments along this journey where all I can do to soothe my spirit is to retreat into the comfort of my own arms. At times like this, I lay down on my bed with my arms clutched firmly around a pillow and shed tears I don't want others to see, meanwhile my heart aches for the confidence I once had in life. 

I allow myself to experience these moments of weakness, but I don't allow them to consume me. I always wipe away the tears, subdue the weakness, and remind myself that breast cancer has not obliterated the essence of who I am. I derive strength from my own experience as a three-time survivor.

My initial diagnosis in 1998 was surprising. I found the lump myself at age 32. My second diagnosis in 2004 was disappointing. My doctor had told me for two years that the lump I could feel was scar tissue. My third diagnosis in 2005 was inspirational. My plastic surgeon noticed a suspicious lymph node during reconstructive surgery and removed it. He had found another malignancy.

Over the years, I've endured all the requisite treatments and their interesting side effects. I am still learning to accept the scars that trace my history with this disease. I realize I wouldn't be here without them. Like many others, I believe cancer has given me a new life. My priorities have changed. I feel as though my heart beats with more meaning. 

Now, I try not to squander away my heart beats on frustration and anger, but instead to spend them on happiness and laughter.


What caused these riots and why did the police lose control? Some commentators think the disorder was understandable and justified; some say the police “had it coming”; others that the violence was only to be expected given the unemployment and poverty in the area.
Some local people told journalists of their resentment towards the police. One student said: “The police never talk to us, they ignore us, they don’t think we’re human in this area.” A youth worker claimed: “The way the police treat black people is like we’re nothing.” And a retired accountant who has lived locally for 30 years reported that some of the police “behave in an arrogant manner that puts people’s backs up”.
Other residents who witnessed people carrying off carpets, trainers and watches noticed that they included individuals of all “colours and creeds”, suggesting an outburst of sheer lawlessness rather than righteous retaliation for past racial slights.
Senior officers were accused of failing to respond to the family and friends of Mark Duggan when they marched to Tottenham police station on Saturday evening. And they were also accused of standing back and allowing rioters to cause havoc in the hours after.
 Police had questions to answer about how the chaos could have spread, said Tottenham MP David Lammy.

Mr Lammy raised concerns after Mr Duggan’s death that tensions were rising between residents and the police. As he spoke in the High Road yesterday, some in the crowd shouted: ‘The police want to see the place burn.’
Scott, one of the demonstrators on Saturday, said trouble flared only after four hours of waiting for a senior police officer to discuss Mr Duggan’s death. He added: ‘The reason I believe this happened is because police have paid disregard to the family. Had they dealt with us earlier in the day, we would have removed ourselves.’ 

He described the violence as an ‘explosion’ of anger over widespread unemployment, frequent stop-and-search checks by police and expulsions from schools.

Metropolitan Police commander Adrian Hanstock insisted there had been ‘no indication’ that trouble would flare as it did. 
He said: ‘Saturday’s peaceful demonstration was hijacked by a small number of criminal elements, who used that for their own gain. 
‘The looting, the damage, the concern that has been caused to businesses and people who have lost their homes and their livelihoods is absolutely unacceptable.’


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