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“Children of Men”'s vision of the future is now disturbingly familiar (bbc.com)
272 points by cmrdporcupine on Dec 24, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 210 comments



Slightly OT but pertains to "Children of Men"

The scenes where main character Theo Faron (Clive Owen) is on the really nice buses, and there is classical music playing in the background, while outside the window there is so much poverty really resonated with me.

I've lived in SF going on 6 years now. My apt complex has private buses that run from here to FDi in the morning and evening. The route sometimes changes but a lot of the time we would go thru the heart of the TL. I'd be half asleep comfortably siting on this Bauer's bus, usually listening to something like Aphex Twin's Select Ambient Works, so not the classic music, but still I would sit there in this amazingly privileged situation and look out the window to all this poverty and despair. It constantly reminded me of this movie.

I worked at Apple for a while, and the same thing, yet instead of my apt complex, it was dozens of Apple buses, shuttling 1000s of people for all over the bay area, and again on the way i'd see so much that really made me think about the current affairs of lots of things that's going crazy in our small little part of the world.

I've since left Apple and joined to a small startup near Union Square/FDi area. I still live in the same apt complex, and they still have the buses running every 15-20 min in the morning, but i don't ride them any more.

I walk the 2 miles everyday to and back from work, and I love it. For so many reasons I love it. One big reason is I don't want to be shielded or sheltered from the real world going on around us. I don't want to deal with the shit on the sidewalk or the craziness that exists in between my spot and my work, but i also don't want to pretend it doesn't exist and try and ignore it.

Sometimes it can be very annoying, hell even scary. But also, A few times it's been amazing rewarding to help someone for 5 minutes. All sorts of little things, I've helped people that can't get their wheelchair from the street onto the sidewalk, or helping the elderly man trying to pick up a heavy box of fruit delivery for his corner store I walk past.

I've had to explain this to some friends that live in apt complex. They take the bus daily and asked why I don't ride it any more, and again it all comes back to the bus scene from Children Of Men.


I am curious, have you experienced poverty? I mean "first world poverty", like the kind you bus drives through? I have, and I want nothing to do with it. I certainly wouldn't choose to walk through it again. Have you stopped to consider you're being a bit of a slum tourist, or maybe you have a saviour complex?


It would be dangerous if everybody not poor wanted nothing to do with poor areas and poor people. All kinds of poverty counted. That is the direct route to segregated communities and cultures of poor and rich, as seen already many places, except that right now, in 2016, most know that there is "lesser" communities and cultures next to theirs, having experienced them themself. If the fortunate communities would shield themself from the "truth beyond the wall" for a long enough time, kids would grow up only hearing tales of these other cultures, and at last, not even hearing the tales anymore. Rich communities - or modern, as the would be called - would be tight bound around themself, governments would work to shield the truth from their citizens. A future that has been depicted by many a movie, many a tv show, for many a year.

It's horrible future, but a future to come if people dont "want nothing to do with it", it being the very reality that they have diced a 6 on, and somebody lesser fortunate being born beyond the wall has diced a 1 on, only guilty of having another mother and father.

Some say it's a future only distant in the eyes of the rich. I think that is, sadly, very much true.


> That is the direct route to segregated communities and cultures of poor and rich, as seen already many places

We have that in the UK, some of the poorest areas are council estates, lots of people never have to go onto them and have little to no incite into the lives of the people who live there, I grew up 'poor' (by the standards of the UK, not talking living in a shanty town or anything) and it leaves a mark on your thought processes that never entirely goes away.

Things are getting much worse here, 6 years of austerity has removed many of the services that poor/disabled people rely on gone or in a perilous state but there isn't widespread anger about it because it has dis-proportionally hit the least 'powerful' in our society the hardest.

Frankly I think we are headed down (if not already some way down) a very dark path and I wouldn't blame the people who are hit by this in the slightest for rioting/rebelling.

Society should be about making sure that the poorest members have at least a decent standard of living otherwise what is it for.


I would love to be in a position where I could have nothing to do with (western) poor areas and poor people. Why would I want to be in areas with high incidences of domestic violence, crystal meth abuse, alcohol abuse, muggings, sexual assault, dog-baiting, and low education?

I can't change anything. I can't help them. It's not my responsibility. I'm out and I want to put as much distance between myself and that as possible.


You are lying to yourself if you think you can't do anything about it. You can change anything if you try enough. There's only people in your way. Choose the red pill and you'll see.


I don't think that's a natural outcome at all.

I think wealthy "first worlders" tend to be very "aware" of poverty and want to make a difference despite being quite far removed from it.

On the other hand in countries with serious poverty where the middle class live in the same communities as those in desperate poverty there is a lot less focus and sympathy.


That wealthy first worlder sympathy has a tendency to stop at puberty. Everybody loves the idea of helping children in need, but once those children grow up, it'd better be someone else's turn. It's more satisfying to help the next batch of children, or maybe even a puppy.

Being aware of suffering in the world and living with a minimum of class segregation are orthogonal concepts, or maybe even inversely coupled, with the comforts of segregation helping superficial salon socialist ideas.

But the way I understand the root post (grandparent or deeper), the idea of avoiding the segregated bus is not directly about helping, it is just a routine reminder that the people outside the bus are persons. Maybe with their individual flaws and imperfections, but not the fearsome mass of zombies or orcs that they become in the eyes of those who spend too much time in comfortable isolation. Fear is difficult to get rid of once it is there, but it can be trivial to not allow it to start.


Have you ever been to USA? Ever been to Washington DC? You'd think at least the people in the White House would do something about their capital city, but no, not even that. It's littered with poor people everywhere. Even more the rest of the USA. It's a frightening shit show over there. Even more since the election of course, and that is no matter who would have won. Both were horrible candidates. Shit show indeed.


I'm not the answer, but I'm curious. I have never experienced poverty. I can relate that you want nothing to do with it anymore, but there's a hidden connotation that the poor want nothing to do with the non-poor. That that grocery store owner wouldn't want help with picking up the heavy box, because the helper happens to be better off.

Can you explain that emotion to me? Why is walking through a relatively poor district and generally being a decent neighbour "saviour complex" just because the person doing it is richer?


It's a way of teaching helplessness, while inflating your own ego. That grocery store owner wouldn't want help with picking up the heavy box, because he is an able-bodied man. Doing this for him is belittling him, saying he's not an able-bodied man. It's like receiving unrequested advice or assistance on a project.

Having grown up in poverty, been homeless for a summer, walked home past homeless people every day for years, and now a well-paid engineer in a nice city, I understand the questioning rage, wishing there was someone there to ease your burden. But I also recognize that direct charity prevents or delays people from finding a better solution, or even just having the dignity of knowing they've done the best they can for themselves.

In a sea of inequality, there is no peace, only calms between the storms. Making everyone equal is a laudable goal, but a more realistic goal is simply ensuring everyone has a rewarding and fulfilling life, and we still have a long way to go with that one.


There's a whole lot of projection going in your post - you're far too sure of people's guiding motivations based on a throwaway description of a momentary incident, to the point that you're now accusing another poster of weakening people in their community through willingness to lend a hand.

I also recognize that direct charity prevents or delays people from finding a better solution

You may claim that, but don't try to pass your opinion off as some universal truth that you 'recognize' while other people can't.


The solution is to build ways out. Shelters and job programs do help. Direct charity, giving money to beggars, only keeps them begging.

Employ homeless people.

Give a homeless person a break. Maybe just ignore them in their shelter. They must do everything in public, for they rarely have a private space. They can't afford the luxury of choosing which actions others may view.

Learn how communities in your area address the homeless people who live there. Remember that homeless people do still live somewhere. This is not a part of their life they will be proud of, but it's not the end of their life, not a permanent placement.


> direct charity prevents or delays people from finding a better solution

What about something like this instead?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/inspired-life/wp/2016/08...


somewhat related, I live un Budapest which is quite full of homeless people.

There is a program by which they distribute a magazine[0], mainly about the homeless life, and in theory with articles written by them.

It's still a begging of sort, so not as good as a proper job, but I've always felt it was much more dignified than panhandling. And from the other side, it gives you the idea that people handing out the newspaper are at least putting in some effort rather than just sitting on the corner (not saying they'd do, just talking fo perception).

[0] http://www.fedelnelkul.hu/news.php


Seattle has a similar newspaper. The newspaper has licensed vendors, who buy the newspapers at a rate around $1 (I think it's $1.15) and sell for $2. The articles are written and edited by and for the homeless community, and cover all sorts of city business and activities from a unique perspective.

http://www.realchangenews.org/


Portugal has Cais, which was in turn inspired by the British magazine The Big Issue: http://www.bigissue.com/


Yeah, lots of places have newspapers for the homeless to sell. Of course, this doesn't work very well because most people are not very interested in actually read it. I frequently just give people money and tell them to keep the paper, because I've never learned anything useful from reading these papers. I already know what it's like to be poor and they don't provide me with any useful or interesting information beyond that. I'm not sure how useful it is to teach people how to sell something nobody actually wants, other than in some vague hope that they'll spin it into a sales job at a later date.


We have that in the UK it's called 'Big Issue' and I often buy one, it's actually worth a read as it covers the politics of things that affect the poorest members of society.


Same in the SF Bay Area. Called the Street Sheet and it's handed out for a dollar generally though you could of course give more.


Well I would never think of refusing a nice comfortable company bus to walk to work through a shitty neighbourhood. That's just insane to me. I think only someone who hadn't lived that reality would do it for some kind of 'experience'. I could be horribly wrong, but I am curious anyway.


I grew up poor/working class and spent a lot of my youth in the nastier parts of Queens and the Bronx in the mid 90s. And I absolutely would!

One reason is that my background gives me a realistic (as opposed to hysterical) view of the suffering and danger in these areas. I'm not deathly afraid to get mugged, and if it happens to me yet again it's not the end of the world. And I can see past the grimy streets and homelessness to the camaraderie and warmth. I chat with random people on the bus and in the shops, and enjoy a simple friendliness which stands in marked contrast to the chilly self-conscious distance which seems to be the norm in the gentrified areas where I usually find myself.

Also, given my upbringing, I need to spend some time in such areas to maintain some feeling of rootedness. The more time I spend in gentrified areas (and I do enjoy the style and amenities!), the more I feel some drive to be surrounded by simpler, less self-conscious people and things. It feels nourishing. And I know it's probably not rational, but what's the harm?


On Nextdoor this week, I saw that people are raising funds to pay for dental surgery for a woman who was mugged while walking in Mission Terrace, San Francisco. And that’s not an especially bad neighborhood.

https://www.youcaring.com/valeriesgoodguys


Are you implying that I'm being flippant about the trauma and suffering caused by muggings? If so, I can see how my comment could be read that way - I wrote too quickly, this was not my intention.


Shame on you.

I've experienced "first-world poverty", and it sucks. The solution isn't to plug our privileged tech worker ears and pretend "the poors" don't exist. The solution is to get involved with our communities, by helping the old man at the convenience store, helping the wheelchair man up the curb, and talking to the homeless who spend their entire day on the sidewalk getting ignored by everyone caught up in the rat race. Shame on you.


I find this comment extremely distasteful. Who are you to "shame" another person? He's justified to his own opinion and even if his opinion is damaging, he wasn't trying to force it on anyone else. He asked two questions that are fair and thought-provoking.

Starting and ending your comment in the way you did is almost guaranteed to invoke a negative, defensive reaction from the commenter which will only further drive divisiveness (which you presumably espouse).

Also, instead of just stating the solution, try explaining WHY the solution works.


The person you're defending is the one trying to shame, just not directly saying it.


You are using your own interpretation of his comment to make a moral judgement on his character.

Based on what we know, it's possible that he simply believes any poor person can escape poverty through hard work and tenacity. This belief (though arguably incorrect) is supported by his personal experience. And, the idea of someone 'pitying' or feeling 'guilt' for someone in his former position is detestable because it suggests that they think they're better than him.

I want to make it clear that I don't agree with this perspective, and don't believe it's constructive. However, I don't believe we need to be publicly shaming people when we can be having constructive conversation. Instead, I think we should be trying to understand where people are coming from, and discussing ideas openly. A person's character really has no place in a discussion of ideas.


"The solution" to what? The things you mentioned will not solve poverty or homelessness. They will not even make a dent in the problem. Do you think that talking to the homeless guy will warm his heart and brighten his whole day? Not as much as your heart gets warmed; not as much as your day gets brightened. The only problem you are really solving is your own guilt. And tomorrow, and in a year, and in ten years, there are going to be just as many poor and homeless people around, to provide you the same service. And shaming people on HN serves the same purpose.

If you want to help the poor, work harder and give the extra money you make to good charities. That is not going to solve the problem, either, but it will improve things more than anything else you could do in the same amount of time. The direct personal involvement you seek only serves to benefit you, at the expense of greater possible material improvements for them.

If that sounds inhuman, that's because our moral intuition, like so much of our instinct, does not scale. What is good for a single poor man is not necessarily best for poverty as a social problem.


Keep being yourself! :) These times we can use all the help, connection, community building we can get.


Maybe he's just being a good person. Have you stopped to consider those are real people?


>slum tourist

I've never heard this phrase used out of genuine concern for those in poverty. It's just another way of saying "don't make me feel guilty by reminding me that it exists".

The condescending presumption behind the phrase seems to be that those in poverty would actually prefer it if you hid behind your gated community.


Maybe OP is just a polite person who prefers walking for its many benefits. It's hard to be a tourist of any kind when you are on your daily commute.


I think that you should really assess your own inner self. Your thoughts, your feelings and why you react this way to someone helping others out. Do you at all refer to yourself as cynical? You probably do, and it's usually rooted in something in your past. Hoping for something that never came to fruition. We all have to deal with that but some is way more traumatic and permanent (without even realizing it is at the time) than one might think. This is a good video about it:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohrQCzZsgIw


I disagree that the original commenter is a likely cynic.

I think the most likely belief set here is that it's possible for any poor person to escape poverty through hard work and tenacity. This belief (though arguably incorrect) is supported by his personal experience. Furthermore, because he's proud of his struggle and achievement, the idea of someone 'pitying' or feeling 'guilt' for someone in his former position is detestable because it suggests that they think they're better than him.

In this light, he is not a cynic. Rather, in a sense, he is an extreme optimist and someone who is very proud of where he came from.

This is ALL speculation. My main point is that we should remain open minded in discussion and not make moral judgements on others when they are unsubstantiated (e.g. you "should really" assess your own inner self) i.e. i really think something is fundamentally wrong with you.


I don't think the original commenter is trying to save or solve anything. There are people there in his community that need help daily and he's giving and helping what/where he can.


What should this person do instead?


I worked in a gated, enclosed, guarded community in a Central American country with a bunch of expats - British, Canadian, American - and saw nothing but abject poverty outside of our small enclosure. Everything was delivered. McDonalds, Pizza Hut, local food, drinks, newspapers, groceries...

We had transportation to the local office and I saw much the same as you, but in way worse conditions.

It affected me just the same as you. I didn't last very long before taking a remote assignment and going back home.


Had similar experience in SE Asia, you either blind yourself to the rampant inequality or it slowly eats away at you.


Zizek's short analysis of Children of Men echoes this. "The true focus of the film is there in the background".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pbgrwNP_gYE


From Maciej Ceglowski

Second, treating the world as a software project gives us a rationale for being selfish. The old adage has it that if you are given ten minutes to cut down a tree, you should spend the first five sharpening your axe. We are used to the idea of bootstrapping ourselves into a position of maximum leverage before tackling a problem.

In the real world, this has led to a pathology where the tech sector maximizes its own comfort. You don't have to go far to see this. Hop on BART after the conference and take a look at Oakland, or take a stroll through downtown San Francisco and try to persuade yourself you're in the heart of a boom that has lasted for forty years. You'll see a residential theme park for tech workers, surrounded by areas of poverty and misery that have seen no benefit and ample harm from our presence. We pretend that by maximizing our convenience and productivity, we're hastening the day when we finally make life better for all those other people.

- http://idlewords.com/talks/sase_panel.htm

and

if you visit San Francisco, [the poverty] is something you're likely to find unsettling. You'll see people living in the streets, many of them mentally ill, yelling and cursing at imaginary foes. You'll find every public space designed to make it difficult and uncomfortable to sit down or sleep, and that people sit down and sleep anyway. You'll see human excrement on the sidewalks, and a homeless encampment across from the city hall. You'll find you can walk for miles and not come across a public toilet or water fountain.

If you stay in the city for any length of time, you'll start to notice other things. Lines outside every food pantry and employment office. Racially segregated neighborhoods where poverty gets hidden away, even in the richest parts of Silicon Valley. A city bureaucracy where everything is still done on paper, slowly. A stream of constant petty crime by the destitute. Public schools that no one sends their kids to if they can find an alternative. Fundraisers for notionally public services.

You can't even get a decent Internet connection in San Francisco.

The tech industry is not responsible for any of these problems. But it's revealing that through forty years of unimaginable growth, and eleven years of the greatest boom times we've ever seen, we've done nothing to fix them. I say without exaggeration that the Loma Prieta earthquake in 1989 did more for San Francisco than Google, Facebook, Twitter, and all the rest of the tech companies that have put down roots in the city since.

Despite being at the center of the technology revolution, the Bay Area has somehow failed to capture its benefits.

It's not that the city's social problems are invisible to the programming class. But in some way, they're not important enough to bother with. Why solve homelessness in one place when you can solve it everywhere? Why fix anything locally, if the solutions can scale?

And so we end up making life easier for tech workers, assuming that anything we do to free up their time will make them more productive at fixing the world for the rest of humanity.

This is trickle-down economics of the worst kind.

In the process, we've turned our city into a a residential theme park, with a whole parallel world of services for the rich.

There are luxury commuter buses to take us to work, private taxis, valet parking, laundry and housecleaning startups that abstract human servants behind a web interface. We have a service sector that ensures instant delivery of any conceivable consumer good, along with some pretty inconceivable ones.

There are no fewer than seven luxury mattress startups. There's a startup to pay your neighbor to watch your packages for you.

My favorite is a startup you can pay to move your trash bins, once a week, three meters to the curb.

If at the height of boom times we can look around and not address the human crisis of our city, then when are we ever going to do it? And if we're not going to contribute to our own neighborhoods, to making the places we live in and move through every day convenient and comfortable, then what are we going to do for the places we don't ever see?

You wouldn't hire someone who couldn't make themselves a sandwich to be the head chef in your restaurant.

You wouldn't hire a gardener whose houseplants were all dead.

But we expect that people will trust us to reinvent their world with software even though we can't make our own city livable.

- http://idlewords.com/talks/what_happens_next_will_amaze_you....


>Second, treating the world as a software project gives us a rationale for being selfish. The old adage has it that if you are given ten minutes to cut down a tree, you should spend the first five sharpening your axe. We are used to the idea of bootstrapping ourselves into a position of maximum leverage before tackling a problem.

>In the real world, this has led to a pathology where the tech sector maximizes its own comfort. You don't have to go far to see this. Hop on BART after the conference and take a look at Oakland, or take a stroll through downtown San Francisco and try to persuade yourself you're in the heart of a boom that has lasted for forty years. You'll see a residential theme park for tech workers, surrounded by areas of poverty and misery that have seen no benefit and ample harm from our presence. We pretend that by maximizing our convenience and productivity, we're hastening the day when we finally make life better for all those other people.

This wasn't programmers' fault. It wasn't robots. It wasn't automation. It wasn't the fault of boomers. It wasn't the fault of millenials. It wasn't the fault of "us" in any sense.

It was the fault of the same American oligarchy who conspired to suppress American wages across the country, including those of programmers: http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/03/google-apple-tech-tit...


It's not our fault, we're just making the best of a bad situation, same as everyone else? We just happen to be very good at it?


> It's not that the city's social problems are invisible to the programming class. But in some way, they're not important enough to bother with.

I'm quite sure they are. It's convenient to paint Silicon Valley tech workers as generally self-absorbed, complacent and pampered. The thing is people criticising this behaviour, activists and politicians are often as much - or even all the more so - to blame.

Maciej mentions a city bureaucracy where everything is still done on paper. This is just one symptom of the issues underlying both poverty and other social problems: Societal change moves at a glacial pace, especially when compared with the technological progress of recent decades. Agents and stakeholders often are not just not susceptive to change, they're more often than not actively fighting it because change might endanger their position or job.

Many of the issues mentioned - while not solvable immediately and completely - could indeed be alleviated to quite some extent today. However, it's not because of the ignorance of tech workers who couldn't care less that these problems remain unsolved. It's due to the inertia, incompetence and ignorance of politicians and civil servants. It's also due to the indifference of the electorate at large.

Effecting significant political change is incredibly hard, especially in the congealed, largely adversarial two-party political system of the US. It's no wonder young, intelligent and skilled people much rather turn to solving technological problems or try to solve every problem with technology than go into politics in order to solve problems the old-fashioned way: With technology you stand a much larger chance to change the world in a positive manner.

People keep saying that these issues can't be solved by technology. It seems however that the current political system is incapable of solving them as well. Perhaps technology is the key to forcing political systems to adapt more quickly. Liquid democracy (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Delegative_democracy ), devolution of power to the local level, decentralisation, a basic income. Those are promising approaches enabled by technology that could play a large part in solving eminent social problems.


You do realize "they did it first" is a poor moral argument?

The remainder of your comment seems to be exactly what he's complaining about. Problem: poverty sucks. Solution: Let's computerize city hall! Problem: politics is hard. Solution: Let's wait until magic technology makes it easy.


Sounds like a pretty accurate implementation of a Randian Utopia.

Pure self interest isn't a difficult vector to map. The results are predictable and repeatable.

"Taxation is theft!"


Except that tech workers in the Bay Area do pay a lot in taxes - a $100K/year earner pays almost 40% of his income. Calling it a Randian Utopia makes no sense.


Really made me think...


On a lighter note, I had a good chuckle when the article mentioned that the director deliberately avoided depiction of cellphones to avoid creating an unintentional period piece[0].

The last movie I watched in the treatre is Clint Eastwood's "Sully" and I distinctly remember the main character using a chronologically appropoaite Samsung flip phone and that single prop instantly dates the movie to the first decade of the 20th century. Just as much as Pulp Fiction is locked in the early 90s with Vincent Vega pulling the antenna out of his Motorola brick phone in one exaggerated motion, albeit these choices are probably intentional.

Some long running manga series take another approach by quietly giving its cast the latest gear despite the timeline moving at a much slower pace.[1] It works until you start revisiting the earlier episodes and get reminded of how old the series really is with its depiction of personal electronics.

[0]: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/UnintentionalPeri...

[1]: http://anime.stackexchange.com/questions/77/how-much-time-ha...


Conversely, in William Gibson's Neuromancer, there are no cell phones, despite being set decades into the future.

Gibson knows a thing or two about seeing their scifi becoming dated, of course. The famous opening line, "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel" no longer resonates with anyone born the last 20 years or so (although for a number of years, many digital TVs would display blue for missing input).

There's also some fun stuff about people physically carrying information (this also happens in short story "Johnny Mnemonic"). For a world where there's a highly connected, super fast worldwide computer network available, people sure travel around a lot.


"The sky was the perfect untroubled blue of a television screen, tuned to a dead channel."

-- Neil Gaiman, Neverwhere. (In an intentional homage to Neuromancer.)

On another tangent: Gibson wrote, in an afterword in an early-1990s digital edition of Neuromancer, that he had never owned, nor even used, a computer until some years after he wrote the book. He noted that:

> Neuromancer and its two sequels are not about computers. They may pretend, at times, and often rather badly, to be about computers, but really they're about technology in some broader sense. Personally, I suspect they're actually about Industrial Culture; about what we do with machines, what machines do with us, and how wholly unconscious (and usually unlegislated) this process has been, is, and will be. Had I actually known a great deal (by 1981 standards) about real computing, I doubt very much I would (or could) have written Neuromancer.


>There's also some fun stuff about people physically carrying information (this also happens in short story "Johnny Mnemonic"). For a world where there's a highly connected, super fast worldwide computer network available, people sure travel around a lot.

Sneakernet isn't an irrelevant concept in any sort of context where data transferred through a computer network can be intercepted.


Never underestimate the bandwidth of a station wagon full of tapes hurtling down the highway. - Andrew S. Tanenbaum


But carrying a concealed micro-sd card with encrypted data would be a lot more convenient. Heck, you could fit many times as much data as in Johnny Mnemonic (40GB, I think?) inside your head too by shoving a micro-sd card up your nose or into your ear.


More convenient but not as secure.


Given that the entire plot involves someone chasing him to forcibly extract the data, it wouldn't seem it would offer more security than suitable crypto on a micro-sd card.


The person chasing him isn't trying to extract the data, they're trying to delete it.


I might have misremembered though the wikipedia entry for the movie (I've never read the short story, so my comments here are about the movie) specifically says that one of the groups after him wants the data for themselves.

But if they just want to destroy the data, that just makes the security distinction even less relevant, as destroying his head with contents would solve the issue whether it's in his brain or on a foreign object in his head.


Nose, ear, really?

On a more realistic note, what is the maximum microsdxc card capacity of a human rectum?


Believe it or not, that's a thing, and it's called 'keistering'! Apparently, pro's can get a cellphone 'keistered'. But I think the flip-phone style, not an iPhone.

As far as microsd cards -- I think you'd be able to 'keister' many many terabytes. They are so tiny and so thin, I'd guess hundreds would fit.


There's a difference between "fit" and "fit without making it impossible to walk normally". And really, you'd want some sort of carrier for the cards, because otherwise they're likely to be lost or damaged. So it becomes a fairly complex question of the optimal balance among total carrier volume, gait effects, and maximizing internal volume of the carrier without thinning the walls so much they're likely to crumple. (Metal walls might serve, but then we're back to gait effects. Not comfortable.) And once the carrier design is in hand, there arises the question of how to maximize its bandwidth, which is itself a rather nontrivial packing problem.


Great, yet ANOTHER USB-C adaptor I'm going to have to pay Apple for.


A metric buttload.


The point was that the physical volume needed to store far more data is so small that you can fit it even the head without going to the lengths in movie, not that it'd be particularly pleasant. But certainly, smuggling things in body orificies has a long tradition.


HTTPS stops interception.

But, sneakernets are relevant because the internet is slower.


HTTPS stops interception.

Even if you have perfect faith that it's currently impossible to crack TLS (and you probably shouldn't), they might record the stream and crack it in the future, having tools you can't even imagine currently.


> "The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel" no longer resonates with anyone born the last 20 years or so

when reading that my mind conjures a gray sky, but then again when I was young TVs displayed static if you turned them to a dead channel, not solid blue...


I own a 60" television with no TV tuner attached to a smattering of devices that play and stream digital content. I suspect when my 1 year old is an adult she won't even have a solid conception of a "channel" let alone be able to imagine the color of a "dead" one.


The grey of a dead OTA channel and the grey of a missing / removed YouTube video aren't too dissimilar


That's because YouTube mimics the TV static in their player.


I believe gray sky is the intended image.


> fun stuff about people physically carrying information

This is a thing, though. https://aws.amazon.com/snowball/

Or if you have 100PB: https://aws.amazon.com/snowmobile/


Probably the worst (best) bit of future-past in Neuromancer is that it starts with the main character trying to fence "three megabytes of hot RAM". That seemed like a ludicrously large amount when it was written.


I think we can give Gibson the benefit of the doubt here and say the point was not the size, but the fact that it was hot RAM -- the contents was valuable. The price of 3MB, even as early as in 1984, was not so high as to make it that impressive even by the standards of the day.


Hey, 3 megs of RAM is nothing to sneeze at: http://www.ebay.com/itm/HP48-2MB-RAM-memory-card-for-HP48GX-...


Ha, I never considered that. It would fit with the data-smuggling theme of Johnny Mnemonic (the short story, at least), which is set in the same universe.


I always thought it was a prototype of some very, very fast cache RAM.

I think I like your idea of hot RAM containing data better now.


I was born in the last twenty years and understood the sentence just fine when I read it. Interestingly enough, youtube does static when your connection times out. (Though I grew up with CRT televison as a kid and definitely remember TV static. I also played a lot of classic video game consoles because my dad was a thrift store hound.)


Just like we do have an idea about how steam engines look and feel, but the mental image painted by words referring to one will be very different for those who only know steam engines from the Hogwarts Express, compared to those who actually stood close to one fully heated up and regulating pressure by bleed valve, turning half the station into a sauna.

Firmly establishing in those opening lines not only the future setting of Neuromancer but also the era of analog electronics it was written in will be of great benefit to future readers.


I wonder what these people who don't know what a TV tuned to a dead channel looks like make of the HBO intro.


Especially after it's been encoded poorly, as static is a worst case scenario for video codecs.


> although for a number of years, many digital TVs would display blue for missing input

I'm sure you are aware that "the color of television, tuned to a dead channel" is not blue - right?

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=I3ZAMjpjYfQ


Given that he spent the entire paragraph talking about how younger people wouldn't know what that passage refers to, presumably yes, he does.


Of course. My point was that for a brief period of time, you could give Gibson the benefit of an accidental retcon; "ah, so the sky was a dark shade of blue, that works". As opposed to "uh, NO INPUT?".


Reminds me of "It Follows". David Robert Mitchell made some pretty interesting prop choices specifically to avoid dating the movie. From his AV Club interview:

> There are production design elements from the ’50s on up to modern day. [...] if you show a specific smartphone now, it dates it. It’s too real for the movie. It would bother me anyway. So we made one up. And all of that is really just to create the effect of a dream—to place it outside of time, and to make people wonder about where they are.


If you're going to make up a faux smart phone to prevent people from pegging it to a specific time frame you may as well say your props people some time and use a Windows phone.


Great reference. The shellphone is one of my favorite parts of that movie.


Blade Runner's production design is beautiful and almost prefectly timeless in its depiction of a future. The only thing that dates the film for me is the cathode ray tubes. They are even in the flying cars I think.

Directors and designers could start using flat blue devices so that interfaces can be re-imagined, in 2-D, or 3-D, and composited in future re-masterings. I like the non-desript tri-fold devices in Westworld. Kudos to the 2001 team for getting imagining tablet interfaces although that did not sway the jury Samsung vs Apple iPad case[1][2].

[1] http://appleinsider.com/articles/11/08/23/samsung_cites_scie...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apple_Inc._v._Samsung_Electron....


I love Blade Runner's design, too. The story goes there was an actor's strike that year, and they couldn't shoot any of the scenes. As a consequence the artists had far more time than usual and made the best of it.

It's supposed to take place in 2019.


If Star Wars has taught us anything, it is that later remastered editions should keep to the original as closely as possible.


Flat blue compositing placeholders? The gods of advertisement seem to have anticipated your request:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Product_placement#Re-placeme...


For some reason this reminds me of Repo Man's use of blank product labels - everything has a white label with blue writing.


The first season of Law & Order is delightfully full of these sorts of anachronisms. My favorite is when they bum quarters off passerersby to make a call on a pay phone. This horrible plot device, the phone call, is so entrenched in their writing, they've brought it fully up to date in SVU with everyone carrying iPhones.


The pay phone definitely reveals you're dealing with an old Law & Order episode. But it's not an anachronism. Law & Order doesn't purport to display a period of time different from the one in which it was made. When you watch a 1990's Law & Order you see the world as it was in the 1990's. For it to show a scene where someone bums quarters for a pay phone is no more anachronistic than it would be for a film/tv-show depicting a scene from the 1890's to show people riding around in a horse and buggy.

Much different when you're watching a 1990's film that purports to display life in 2020, 2050, or 2100. Then the use of 1990's technology in the film is a true anachronism.


Law & Order purposely based its stories on topics of the day. It was a show meant to be watched in its time. Future watchers won't get the same experience out of it. That said I still enjoy the older episodes. It's like looking back in time.


That's called nostalgia. But it isn't as good as it used to be in the 1990's.


Just a reminder to people, All The Tropes is a fork of TV Tropes, but everything is under a free license and has no advertising. TV Tropes uses a nonfree license.[1] The same page is available here: https://allthetropes.org/wiki/Unintentional_Period_Piece

[1]: At least under Stallman's definition of nonfree: https://www.gnu.org/philosophy/words-to-avoid.en.html#Creati...


Why bring in ideology when you can simply state that TV Tropes is Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike licensed, while allthetropes is Attribution-ShareAlike licensed?


Eh, it was just an interesting article that was featured on HN a few days ago.

Mainly it's just one more reason that I'm still upset at TV Tropes for relicensing things I wrote without my consent. They took a lot of things that used to be community property, and decided that they should be the only ones to make money off of it. And they've gotten away with it because none of their users really know copyright law. I guess really, it's because sometimes ideology matters.


FYI, you mean 21st century: the 20th century is the 1900s :)


That's back when flip phones filled an entire room.


> The one aspect of the film that doesn’t seem to be coming true is its central premise. The idea is that no human beings have been born in the last 18 years, so when Theo meets Kee, an African woman who is miraculously pregnant, he has to protect her from the various groups who want to exploit her condition. Obviously, we know that this infertility pandemic hasn’t happened: in Children of Men, the youngest person on the planet was born in 2009. But even as a concept, this particular one doesn’t resonate with our current anxieties, because overpopulation is more worrying than population decline.

It's not really about population -- it's about having no future, which is something a lot of people constantly worry about.


It's not about population, and not quite about having no 'future' (though you could say that) - it's about social nihilism and a crises of faith (in the book, literally, in the film, a little more existentially).


The fact is overpopulation isn't an issue, it's a myth.

World population is decellerating at a rapid pace and will begin decreasing within decades. It's painfully obvious to anybody who looks at the numbers. But science fiction has convinced everyone otherwise.

Just look at all the countries with programs trying to entice their citizens to start families and make babies. Governments know its going to be a catastrophe.

Our governments spend money at a rate that only a larger population in the future can afford to pay for. If families aren't producing above the replacement rate, we're doomed.


It's not painfully obvious to UN or anyone else noteworthy.

Was it also painfully obvious that USSR was going to break up and Russia would have stalled with population growth? https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/09/Populati...

None of the current trends made sense 30 yrs ago. And in 30 yrs there could be major geopolitical changes that would make current projections useless.


"Overpopulation"-hysteria is a short-sighted, semi-genocidal ideology (see: People's Republic of China). The same people that a decade ago were worrying about overpopulation in Germany are now clamoring for more migrants from the Global South countries to keep up population growth ("these are our future engineers and doctors"). Proof of how unworkable it is.

European economies would simply collapse without population growth to feed social security. And aging populations are a ridiculously undesirable outcome for any country

Current projections aren't useless. The higher your socioeconomic status, the lower your fertility rate, period. The correlation couldn't be clearer. Geopolitical events could cause temporary changes but obviously wouldn't change the underlying trend. Bringing up the existence of Black Swans to disprove trends is logically flawed.

So there's a clear downwards pressure on fertility rates, in the West, which includes propaganda about "overpopulation" that obviously quite a few people believe in, and that guides their decisions; it also includes socioeconomic improvements. What possible trend could act as an upward pressure?

Is there anything more pathological (psychologically-speaking) than the belief that humans are themselves a pathology


"The higher your socioeconomic status, the lower your fertility rate, period."

Only in a portion of Western culture that has very similar cultural and religious values and also incidentally responsible for a relatively rich middle class.

Counter examples:

Haredi Jews

Hong Kong

Macao

So your predictions are contingent on the assumption that the culture won't change or that specific religions wouldn't be more prevalent.


But the worry about overpopulation has been damn near constant.

Rebuked again and again and again each time we reached the previous "unsustainable" threshold.


"The fact is overpopulation isn't an issue, it's a myth."

Global population isn't evenly distributed. Some countries and areas are definitely overpopulated.

What constitutes overpopulation can vary according to climate and economic changes. Just look at Syria, where unprecedented drought caused 75% of the country's farms to fail, led to mass migration from rural areas to cities, and ultimately to civil war and significant depopulation.

"Our governments spend money at a rate that only a larger population in the future can afford to pay for. If families aren't producing above the replacement rate, we're doomed."

No, it's a myth that populations need to be perpetually growing in order to maintain economic growth. Growth can also be achieved through technological development.

Developments in Robotics, AI, etc will improve labour productivity, meaning we can continue to raise living standards without necessarily increasing population in perpetuity.


Yeah I really don't understand why people have this notion that population growth is necessary for economic growth. It doesn't even follow that aggregate (i.e. non per-capita) economic growth results in a higher average standard of living. I wish I could say this nonsense is only perpetuated by politicians, who do whatever they can to juice GDP so they can boast to the electorate about how much 'economic growth' they achieved. But this would be untrue. Even certain national economic policy institutions fall in to this trap when they really ought to know better.

The other thing worth noting is that economic growth, socially liberal (historically speaking) attitudes towards sex and gender equality, and sustainable population all go hand in hand. On the economic side of things, there's a fairly well established 'demographic transition' model that suggests that when a society reaches (roughly) a 'first-world' level of development, population growth tends towards 0: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/8/8c/De...

Put simply, one of the best things we can do if we're concerned about overpopulation is to aid economic development in the 'third-world'.


>Global population isn't evenly distributed. Some countries and areas are definitely overpopulated.

Do you mean the West, or for example Africa? The West is often brought up, but it's below replacement level. Africa will definitely have problems, and we need to a) bring them safe, effective birth control, so they can make their own choices, and b) solve infant mortality.

The goal should be 2.0 fertility rates everywhere. "Overpopulation" isn't even remotely a problem anywhere in the West, the opposite is.

>What constitutes overpopulation can vary according to climate and economic changes. Just look at Syria, where unprecedented drought caused 75% of the country's farms to fail, led to mass migration from rural areas to cities, and ultimately to civil war and significant depopulation.

1) You haven't established that the Syrian population was "too high for its natural carrying capacity", which is a normative and not positive statement. A drought doesn't necessarily signify that. This is a social and political problem (did they not receive pensions?), not an overpopulation problem.

2) Are you arguing that, because many died as a result of the drought, many shouldn't have been born in the first place? Seems circular.

>No, it's a myth that populations need to be perpetually growing in order to maintain economic growth. Growth can also be achieved through technological development.

Many countries in the West are below replacement levels. That carries its own problems. The people campaigning against overpopulation seem to also be targeting the West, which I find absurd.


"Overpopulation" isn't even remotely a problem anywhere in the West, the opposite is."

I guess it depends how we define overpopulation.

I'd argue that overpopulation is a problem in, for example, England. Not in the sense that there isn't enough food, of course, but in the sense that high population density negatively affects quality of life, harms the natural environment, and results in poor, overcrowded, and unhealthy living conditions for many people.

Much of Africa, on the other hand, is not densely populated at all compared to Western Europe or East Asia.

"Many countries in the West are below replacement levels. That carries its own problems."

It does if we end up with a significantly top-heavy population chart, with not enough economically active young people to support the elderly. But slowing or stopping population growth does not mean an end to economic growth.

A steady population is a good goal to aim for, but that doesn't mean we should be afraid of falling populations in some areas. If we can return some areas to nature, reducing the environmental footprint of our species while maintaining and improving our quality of life, then that's a good thing.


> The goal should be 2.0 fertility rates everywhere.

It should technically be slightly above that to replace the portion of the population that dies before baring two kids.


No argument with any of that, but I think that the theme of the movie in question was merely using a population crash as a proxy to explore what happens to society when it has lost all hope for the future. I don't believe it was actually trying make any statements in particular regarding risks around population growth (or decline).


> It's not really about population -- it's about having no future, which is something a lot of people constantly worry about.

One thing the movie (unintentionally) got right was how absurd this is. It really ruined the movie to me, TBH, because it was laughably implausible. Reproduction is what life does best.

I'll obviously have to watch again for the world building....


And yet fertility rates are declining in many nations. Science fiction often takes current events to their extreme outcome for the sake of social commentary (Black Mirror being the latest example).


Human fertility itself isn't in decline. Fertility and human births are conflated in the US government definition, implying that we are somehow losing the physical ability to reproduce. What's actually happening is that our society is getting so complex that our agency of reproduction is impaired. It's entirely social; it's all in our heads.



Your first article debates the efficacy of current attempts to investigate infertility:

Recent years have seen many similar reports of falling human sperm counts, but there has been much debate over whether the problem is real. “The principal trouble has been selection bias,” says Joëlle Le Moal, an environmental health epidemiologist at the Institut de Veille Sanitaire in Saint Maurice, France, and joint first author of the new article with colleague Matthieu Rolland. She explains that few studies have involved sperm samples collected from randomly selected members of the general population; for the few that did, only a small percentage of men agreed to be included, and the studies were run in restricted areas. So most studies have had to rely on sperm donors or couples coming to fertility clinics, which do not represent the general population.

That article focuses on France, which is rarely counted among developing worlds. The second article is paywalled. The third two could easily be considered Submarine Articles[0] for male supplements and stimulants.

[0] http://paulgraham.com/submarine.html


If the premise of the film actually happened and the birth rate were to reach zero, I doubt the fact it was psychological rather than physical would be much comfort.

Sometimes the technical reason is less important than the outcome.


It's really just a plot device. Suspend your belief for that one part of the movie, and enjoy the rest of the social and political commentary.


If you haven't seen this movie you absolutely should. And you need to watch it with your face close to a 60"+ high quality screen and with a good sound system. Do not ruin it by watching it on a laptop or mobile device. The extended shots create a near full immersion experience.


Or just watch it on anything you can. I honestly don't think you can ruin this film in anyway. I used to watch it on my iPod Touch.


Better than nothing... But in its own way it really needs a high def, surround sound experience to become fully absorbed, and your full undivided attention. Same way if I recommend that someone watch 2001 for the first time or Apocalypse Now Redux (the full 3 hour cut).


As an aside, for those in Los Angeles, American Cinematheque has been showing a nearly pristine new 70mm (roadshow version) print of 2001 at the Egyptian this month (I saw it a few weeks ago). There are screenings on the 26th and 27th.

Also, on the 30th they are screening Lawrence of Arabia in 70mm as well. Lawrence of Arabia was filmed in 70mm 2.20:1 Super Panavision, and is IMO, even more than 2001, worth seeing in 70mm.


+1 for 2001. Watching it for the first time is a transcendent experience.



It's definitely a movie I wish I could watch for the first time again.


It has my absolute favorite car chase in a movie ever.


There's one scene in it—and I think people who have seen the movie know the one I'm talking about—that's possibly the most powerful, intense scene I've ever seen on screen. Absolutely worth watching.


When they exit the building and the chaos pauses for a moment.. absolutely breathtaking every time. It really sold that in the end everyone is on the side of humanity, and everyone hopes for a future. They just couldn't agree on how it should come about.


I think the grandparent was trying (rightly so) to avoid giving a spoiler by being ambiguous. Perhaps you could put a [spoiler] prefix on you post.


agreed, It was amazing because everyone automatically knew what was at stake and sides no longer existed in that conflict (temporarily atleast).


Even though it's not an "action" movie, it's always my go-to scene for an explanation of what makes a great action sequence. After that, I genuinely felt on the edge of my seat the rest of the movie; anything could happen.


There are several scenes which could qualify, and they are each masterpieces of filmmaking both from an artistic and technical standpoint.


It's moving moment, but what I remember about it is how the rug is immediately yanked out from under it.


That's the most depressing part of the whole thing :-(


Truly. Actually, there are a few of those 'scenes'.


Yeah Michael Caine's "Pull my finger" scene - it gets me every time.


Pull my finger!


Ping pong? :)


Whatever you might argue about it's prescience, Children of Men is one of the best films of the last decade. The writing, directing and acting are all stellar. It has some of the best single take shots ever filmed. There's a 20 minute running street battle at the end with tanks and explosions that is shot in a single take.

It's also one of those rare occasions where the movie is far better than the original book. Book is ok, film is outstanding.


The reasons you consider it to be such a good film probably have more to do with cinematography than writing, acting or directing. The beautiful shots are a direct result of Emmanuel Lubezki being the DP - the same style can be seen in Birdman, Gravity, The Revenant, and some of Terrence Malick’s films.


The cinematography is excellent, but the performances and writing are top notch, even without the fancy tracking shots or singles takes. Best performance of Clive Owens career, he's wasted in everything else. The rapport between himself and Caine is marvellous. Ejiofor is subtly menacing, more desperation than outright evil.

Even the smaller roles are well cast and executed. Charlie Hunnam is almost unrecognisable as the dreadlocked villain Patric. Peter Mullan does a fantastic turn as the brutal Syd.

The writing took the source material and squeezed far more emotion and drama out of it than was in there. Throwaway lines hint at so much untold story. There's a scene where Theo goes to visit his cousin to try and get travel documents. He has Michelangelo's David in the hallway of his office, and he talks off-handedly about "that thing in madrid was a real blow to art" or something. There's this whole backstory in there about the UK government trying to salvage the artworks of europe from the decay of civilisation, but we only get a hint of it. Perfectly understated. Always stayed with me.


While the cinematography is a master stroke, it's not enough to carry a film seeking some level of depth.

I feel Children of Men succeeds because all of its elements - the direction, acting, art direction, writing, score, editing & cinematography - come together so well.

There are many films that get some of these elements right, far fewer nail all of them.


Don't forget the practical and visual effects teams:

https://www.fxguide.com/featured/children_of_men_-_hard_core...


> There's a 20 minute running street battle at the end with tanks and explosions that is shot in a single take.

Strictly speaking there's a cut hidden in the middle of it somewhere.


I think it's when they first enter the building and droplets of water get on the camera lens but are quickly removed in the next couple of frames.


Well, it's still an incredible achievement


Absolutely! Children of Men is one of my all-time favourite movies.


Disagree. I thought it was always fighting a low budget, and for me, it never rose beyond the level of a poor mini series. Clive Owen was not good either - he has no real talent.


Absolutely agree. It's a masterpiece on many different levels.


What about the book, is it good?


It's alright. Quite short, just a novella, and a good deal less realistic. The ending was a bit contrived. I was disappointed by it overall


I love this film and at a certain level, it is plausible (and even natural) that in times of existential fear, societies lash out against outsiders/immigrants.

And yet I have economic quibbles!

In an actual fertility collapse, a highly-developed country like the UK would have an immense surplus of infrastructure, housing, machinery, etc – capital – compared to the dwindling number of new, young workers. Immigrants (of all ages, cultures, and skill levels) could become incredibly economically valuable. In comparison, reliable 'guard labor' to try to hunt and confine immigrants would become very expensive.

Compare, for example, the depopulation of the 'Black Death' in Europe in the 1300's. For those who survived, wages and opportunity grew, and attempts to enforce older rules which bound people to undesirable situations collapsed. Wikipedia suggests that "[p]lague brought an eventual end of Serfdom in Western Europe":

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Consequences_of_the_Black_Deat...


"societies lash out against outsiders/immigrants."

It's not as one-sided as that. Many of the immigrants in the book are essentially 'terrorists', there was a funeral march by a group that is essentially Hamas in the film. Hamas are point-blank terrorists, though they are also a political group.

A 'world on fire' with millions of people flooding into the 'small, stable area' definitely represent a threat to that stability at least on some level.

It's more nuanced take. Almost everyone is a good guy / bad guy, and there is a lot of violence ... in that state, it's hard to have an easy moral compass.


I have to admit that the world the movie depicts does seem quite prescient from today's perspective and the cinematography is excellent, especially those long single-shot scenes (and that particular scene towards the end of the film that other comments have alluded to), but I personally didn't find the movie to be as exceptional as others seem to. In particular I felt that the plot sort of meandered a bit throughout the middle section of the film and I also felt that the fertility pandemic theme was somewhat underutilized as a concept. Still, the movie is definitely worth a watch.


I also felt it meandered; the message was not enough to sustain the whole movie.

It also felt a bit like '28 days'; after about half-way it went low-budget and lost it's way story-wise.


Children of Men is one of my all-time favorite movies. Top 3 I think.

If you haven't seen it, find some time over Christmas to do so. Won't exactly get you into a holiday spirit though...


It actually is a Christmas movie. More specifically, it's a re-telling of the Nativity story.


Aye but is it something you'd watch with a bunch of 8 year olds?

Perhaps it's one on a technicality, in much the same way Die Hard is. But it's definitely not what most people think of when somebody says "it's a Christmas movie."


How so? I've watched it several times and not sure how it relates?


The baby (or the fact that it exists and will be born) is purported to be the savior of humanity. Sound familiar?


And the scene in the barn with the animals all around, c'mon.


Same, easily in the top 3.

It's also my favourite opening lines of any film:

> Newsreader: Day 1,000 of the Siege of Seattle.

> Newsreader: The Muslim community demands an end to the Army's occupation of mosques.

> Newsreader: The Homeland Security bill is ratified. After eight years, British borders will remain closed. The deportation of illegal immigrants will continue. Good morning. Our lead story.

What a way to set the scene


Agreed.


I've been thinking about how familiar Children of Men feels in recent months, especially given civil war in Syria and the wave of nationalism sweeping Western Europe and the United States. This article is a great analysis of how the film creates this uncanny sense of familiarity. I'm overdue to watch it again.

(On a side note, I just finished reading Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower, which resonantes with today's world in a similar way.)


"...Cuarón’s most effective decision was to shoot so many scenes on the streets of London, without adding much except graffiti, litter and all-round squalor."

Actually, I lived around the corner from one of the locations in the film, and remember the film crew coming in and cleaning up the pretty disgusting real filth (human excrement, used needles, etc.) and painting over the real graffiti, replacing it with cleaner pretend filth (scrunched up newspapers and the like) and safer pretend graffiti.


It says fertility isn't an issue today, but it's a little out of touch with today's anxieties; most of Europe and Japan have such low fertility that their native populations are in decline.


>most of Europe and Japan have such low fertility

Their problem is not couples trying to conceive and failing, but people choosing not to have children.


> people choosing not to have children

Which does not prevent it from being a problem. Government policy can change that. Not forcing teenagers to go $150.000 in debt and to have a career to repay that until they're in their 30s would be the bare minimum.


Yes .. in many cases, because they simply cannot afford to have children.


Well, they clearly can, as many more people in more deeply impoverished parts of the world are having lots of children. Likely, they cannot afford to have children while providing the standard of living (own bedroom, back yard, healthy food, bonding time, good school, college education, etc) they consider the lower bound on acceptable.


I think it is clear that this is precisely what I meant. But thanks for your comment :)


This is only true of one strongly presumes that conscious decision-making is not at all influenced at all by the body's own fertility.

But a fertile body can influence the mind in all sorts of ways -- changing hormones can modify sexual desire, for example.


Every affluent country's fertility rate is below replenishment levels. Their population growth rate is only positive due to immigration.

In fact, global population will likely peak around 2050, and then start falling, which will be a whole new crisis. People will look back at overpopulation fears and laugh.


In fact, global population will likely peak around 2050, and then start falling, which will be a whole new crisis. People will look back at overpopulation fears and laugh.

A rapid fall in population would be problematic, but a steady state or slow gradual decline would be beneficial - and perhaps environmentally necessary.

Obviously you need to ensure there are enough young people to support and care for the elderly, so population can't be too top-heavy. But improving technology (robots, AI) should reduce the need for labour without compromising living standards.


Sure, but why does it stop? It doesn't seem to be a specific population density, but culture + economics.

Like for example, look at this Haiti plot: https://knoema.com/atlas/Haiti/Population-density

It is already 1.5x more dense than Germany. 3x more dense than China. Would it stop? When?

Why is Switzerland 9x more dense than Ireland? Is population of Ireland expected to eventually grow to that of Switzerland?


Yes, environmental factors largely dictate the fertility rate, particularly economic such as career opportunities, and health care related (longevity and particularly infant mortality).


density for countries is such a bad datapoint... (remember half of China is empty which lowers the national average by a lot)


I was really surprised the article didn't mention this. To be fair it's apparently something that has been evolving for decades, so it wasn't so much prediction but they definitely aren't inventing something wild. https://ourworldindata.org/fertility/


The anxiety from the film is very close to Europe's anxiety, I think. In the story, England is relatively stable and prosperous in a world full of chaos, but there's a sense that if refugees were allowed in, the stability would be upended and the limited resources of the country would be unable to support the onslaught. Sure, in the world of the film, the English are trying to enjoy the last decades of human existence while clinging to their privilege, whereas in real-world Europe there's a feeling they'll be demographically out-competed by immigrants. Without the pressure from low fertility among natives, European countries wouldn't feel so threatened by immigration.

Ironically, of course, the only workable solution to the demographic crises in Europe and Japan is immigration. Otherwise, pension responsibilities will overwhelm the working-age population and the whole society will collapse.


Ironically, of course, the only workable solution to the demographic crises in Europe and Japan is immigration. Otherwise, pension responsibilities will overwhelm the working-age population and the whole society will collapse.

Staving off a demographic crisis using mass migration of middle class people from developing nations is a bit like staving off a petrochemical crisis by fracking or digging up national parks for coal. You're just shifting the problem to another time period and making irreversible changes to your country. It's not at all sustainable.

Global population will peak, so eventually every country will have to come to terms with an ageing population. In many ways, Japan is trail blazer here while the west has its head in the sand.


When the Zika outbreak hit, I was reminded of this movie. It's not the same magnitude, but still.


I was surprised the article didn't mention Zika.


Nerdwriter made a great review of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-woNlmVcdjc


The little touches were the best part of the movie - the nihilist industrial scream-metal music, the Islamic militia in the streets, the plausibly crappy vehicles... Incredible movie.


Fun fact: the "Zen music" from Children of Men is a track by Aphex Twin [1] with a Creative Commons-licensed sound effect [2] dubbed over it. This got quite a bit of attention at the time (e.g, [3]), as it was one of the first documented instances of a major film using CC assets.

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ltLOrgnfW9w

[2]: https://www.freesound.org/people/thanvannispen/sounds/9432/

[3]: https://creativecommons.org/2007/01/17/freesound-sample-in-c...


That really was a fun fact; thanks.


> But even as a concept, this particular one doesn’t resonate with our current anxieties, because overpopulation is more worrying than population decline.

Yet there are demographers who very much worry about it[1]. They sometimes call it the "demographic winter".

The decrease of birth rates is already observed in most developed countries, and it does not turn into population decline mostly because of immigration, so this kind of reflects to what is described in the movie, even if the movie shows an extreme version of it with a supernatural element (the sudden halt of worldwide fertility).

1. https://books.google.com/books/about/Essai_de_prospective_d%...


A good reminder to watch a fantastic movie I haven't seen in a long time.

I do think the author's premise is a little shoddy though. Broad similarities between the state of the world in 2006 when the film was made and today aren't all that shocking. In 2006 the world was far along the path of globalization set forth through policies developed after the fall of the Berlin Wall and championed by essentially every US president and their allies since. The author does allude to this when he writes "In 2006, all of this seemed plausible enough, but perhaps a little strident, a little over-the-top." I agree that in 2006 most (myself included) probably didn't think that globalization would face the challenges that it does today as quickly and dramatically as it has over the last two years. That being said, that nationalistic and discriminatory behavior and actions can result from decades of globalization and tolerance seems more a reflection of a natural (if not unfortunate) pendulum swing between two approaches on opposite ends of the spectrum. Any particular power of foresight on the part of the screenwriters/filmmakers seems to me like a stretch, although the author seems to insinuate this to be the case.

Maybe I'm thinking too much...the movie is really awesome and I need to watch again.


I've got to go and re-watch this it's been a while.


good thread. however, amazing to me that the word "woman" only occurs once in the discussion (to date). To me, that movie is about the destruction (or perhaps, near destruction) of the world due to the things that "men" have created (wars, poverty, etc.), and how only perhaps a woman can save them all from it.


But in Children of Men, England is the last country to keep functioning...


I'd say "v for vendetta" is the closest.


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Please don't post nationalistic slights here. Everybody has an endless supply of these things to sling at one another if they get going. Therefore, don't get going.

We detached this comment from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13248373 and marked it off-topic.


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This is off topic in so many ways. HN is no place for political and ideological battle, regardless of the politics you espouse. Please don't post like this here.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13248463 and marked it off-topic.


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I don't necessarily agree with you, but I'm curious to hear your reasoning. Why do you say this film is propaganda?


Would you mind tossing in a "sheeple" or two in your comment?


Please don't respond to bad comments by making the thread still worse.


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We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13248599 and marked it off-topic.


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Personal attacks are off-topic regardless of how someone sounds. Please post civilly and substantively, or not at all.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html

https://news.ycombinator.com/newswelcome.html


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We've banned this account for violating the site guidelines.


How would fighting someone make your ideas valid?


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Please don't be uncivil, which this is.

We detached this subthread from https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13248453 and marked it off-topic.


This is unacceptable. There's no reason to ruin all of these movies and shows, especially since this thread is about something else entirely. In any online community centred around works of fiction, this would be a bannable offense. I'm flagging your comment for this reason.

And no, not everyone knows about Vader. I have a friend who watched Star Wars for the first time last week just before we dragged him to Rogue One.


Wrong about Lost... In fact the whole point of the final was that the stuff on The Island was real, and it was the most important time in all of their lives. Which is why they all end up together in a sort of timeless purgatory, even though they died many years apart.


1. It's from 2006. 2. Why is it the reader's responsibility to watch every single film to be released, ever?


>>Lost was all a communal dream while everyone on the flight died together.

Noooooooo!!!. You've just spoiled it for me. No I'll never work up the courage to watch the series. I've tried watching the first episode several times but I just find it so boring. It looked like a good TV series and really wanted to like it but I just could not get through the first one. I found some of the characters obnoxious. Now you've ruined it for me. Hope you are happy. :)


Don't worry, the spoiler is wrong. Just don't read my other post...




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