The Imitation Game — a “must see” film

225px-Alan_Turing_photoOne of our family’s greatest pleasures is treating ourselves on a semi-regular basis to the movies.

While we enjoy a variety of genres, we tend toward action, adventure, or anything we can watch with the younger Carricks.

Occasionally, we encounter a film that warrants special mention. Last night, we were lucky enough to view one such: The Imitation Game, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Alan Turing, the genius British mathematician, logician, cryptologist and computer scientist who is credited with creating the first artificial intelligence, which was used to crack the German code machine known as Enigma.

If you haven’t seen it yet, don’t let the quiet media surrounding this one fool you. The theatre was packed — something the Carricks rarely, if ever, experience. Word is out — this will be the 2015 film you won’t want to miss.

Not only is the writing superb, and not only is it brilliantly executed by a number of today’s finest actors.

The story is also profoundly human.

We found it to be moving in a way few films are anymore.

The effect is, to some degree, heightened by a typically British sense of understatement. But that’s not the whole story.

Picture this: You are Alan Turing.

You have effectively reduced the horror of the Second World War by at least 2 years, saving an estimated 14 million lives. (Although there is no real way to nail down a statistic like this, most experts agree the number of lives saved by Turing’s work is very high.)

You have created a machine that is the father of all modern computing technology, changing the course of history undeniably and profoundly.

And yet, due to a quirk of your nature, a wrench thrown into your DNA prior to birth, and the erroneous, unforgiving mores of the time, you are somehow, inexplicably, not quite “good enough”.

When Turing died in 1954, only days before his 42nd birthday, most suspected suicide by cyanide poisoning.

He had been convicted of homosexual acts, which were criminal at the time, and as an alternative to enduring a prison sentence, was forced to undergo hormonal treatments, a form of chemical castration.

I’ve suffered depression in my younger years. Having lost a sibling to suicide, and having attempted suicide on a couple of occasions, I can only discuss my own experience.

The primary feeling is one of being “not good enough”.

In the case of Alan Turing, I can only shake my head.

If this brilliant, dedicated man, this scientist and patriot, could be reduced to such feelings, then perhaps that’s something we should all heed closely.

The next time I feel “not quite good enough”, I’m going to remember Alan Turing.

Then I’m going to smile at the absurdity of such feelings.

See the movie. I think you’ll like it.

Why I am Charlie

Charlie HebdoSadly, the first week of 2015 brought both shock and sorrow to much of the world, as yet another act of fervent violence has shaken our collective consciousness.

he drew firstOn January 7, masked gunmen entered the Paris offices of Charlie Hebdo killing 12 people including “Charb”, publishing director of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo Stéphane Charbonnier.

According to CNN, “The two brothers accused of carrying out the Charlie Hebdo attack, Cherif Kouachi and Said Kouachi, are dead. So is grocery store suspect Amedy Coulibaly, authorities said.”

What we may not know, and in fact may never truly comprehend, is what is stolen from us, as a global society, each time we are faced with racism, hatred, violence and atrocity.

In particular, acts of violence perpetrated in the name of God, Allah, or any religious deity, are so heinous as to be the stuff of social nightmare.

It’s been many years since I first questioned my own faith. I was thirteen, and found myself asking how any God, any almighty, all-powerful being, would allow children to suffer the way I’d suffered. It’s a question that has never been answered to my satisfaction.

Despite my own sometimes wavering faith, which dangled precariously by a thread throughout my youth, I’ve never felt the urge to ridicule the faithful. Nor have I ever wanted to publicly denounce any single religion or culture.

Being the adult survivor of childhood abuse, my life has been dedicated to peaceful living.

When Charlie was alive, I would not likely have been a supporter. In truth, I found some of those cartoon images to be in poor taste, harsh even.

But Charlie died on January 7.

Or, rather, he was murdered, along with eleven of his colleagues, said to have been chosen deliberately for execution.

And that changed everything.

When I say “I am Charlie”, it’s my attempt to state that freedom of expression is not some airy-fairy concept that can be tossed out with the current trends.

Freedom of SpeechFree speech is not the exclusive right of people with whom I happen to agree. Nor is it the domain of the rich, the powerful or the pious.

This thing we hold so dear, this right to say, both publicly and privately, what we believe, is something we must defend.

Silence never fed a child. It never rescued the abused, clothed the naked or educated the ignorant. Silence is the great enabler of all that is wrong with the world.

When I speak my personal truth, I don’t expect the world to listen.

Nor will I be silenced.

Because I believe, as many do, that freedom of speech and the torch-light of education are the greatest weapons we have against tyranny, oppression, hunger and ignorance.

Murder is always an act of evil, born of the parents Hatred and Ignorance.

It cannot and will not be justified by religious doctrine.

And that is why, for now and for all time, I am Charlie.