Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Murderous Misogyny

An excellent post from Hak Mao on murderous misogyny in Guatemala. Much of the info comes from an article in the Sunday Times, but don't let that put you off.
"Neither the police nor the government are taking this seriously. Yet what we are observing is pure hatred against women in the way they are killed, raped, tortured and mutilated," says Hilda Morales, the lawyer heading a network of women's groups formed as the problem has escalated. The situation is unlikely to change, she argues, unless international pressure is brought to bear and foreign investors are made aware of what is going on in the country and start questioning their business dealings there.

Claudia Samayoa, another member of the network, says: "Fifty years ago, the UN signed a declaration decreeing we all have certain basic human rights . With so much conflict in the world, if anyone were to say a choice must be made between helping us and helping those in Darfur, we'd say help Darfur. But how does the international community make such selections? What are the agreements they sponsor worth if there is no follow-through to ensure they're met?"
What are Human Rights worth if there is no international force prepared to enforce them?

Read the whole piece. And do go to Amnesty International's links.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Sleb Spotting

Okay. I admit it. This is is as trivial as it gets.

Today I spotted Eddie Izzard in Ballater.

He was wearing a very fetching kilt.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Underrated Book

I read Martin Amis's Koba the Dread last year and it crystallised what I was feeling at the time. I had read Money back in the 1980s. I thought it over-rated but it did sum up the style and culture magazines obsession with the lifestyle of the Yuppie. In Sunday's Observer Andrew Anthony (scroll down) makes the case for Koba the Dread:
Almost by definition, decent people universally accept that Hitler's regime was a monstrous catastrophe, but there remains even today a reluctance to see the Soviet Union for what it was. Juvenile ideas of 'revolution' and 'class struggle' continue to cloud the subject. One critic savaged Amis's book for its historical revisionism - and, alas, he wasn't being ironic. His argument, in a dim echo of Holocaust denial, was that deaths caused by Stalin had been overestimated and, in any case, most of them were from famine.

The book's finest achievement is that it exposes this kind of intellectual evasion not as a 20th-century historical blip but a product of self-loathing that is deep in the human soul. Today as the apologists for Islamic totalitarianism try to find their voice, Koba the Dread is a reminder that terror is not just a political means but, for the true zealot, the end itself.
Go read Koba the Dread. And forgive Martin Amis for John Self.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Intelligent Gravity

The Onion posts on Intelligent Falling.
KANSAS CITY, KS—As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state. Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held "theory of gravity" is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.

"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.

Burdett added: "Gravity—which is taught to our children as a law—is founded on great gaps in understanding. The laws predict the mutual force between all bodies of mass, but they cannot explain that force. Isaac Newton himself said, 'I suspect that my theories may all depend upon a force for which philosophers have searched all of nature in vain.' Of course, he is alluding to a higher power."
Go read the whole piece. And laugh. And cry.

[Thanks:Brad Delong]

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Happy Birthday

That's to my brother over in New Zealand.

And not Madonna. Or George Galloway. Or James Cameron.

Monday, August 15, 2005


Rullsenberg blogs our cinema trip to see Crash. Here's a synopsis.
A Brentwood housewife and her DA husband. A Persian store owner. Two police detectives who are also lovers. A black television director and his wife. A Mexican locksmith. Two car-jackers. A rookie cop. A middle-aged Korean couple…They all live in Los Angeles. And in the next 36 hours, they will all collide…

A provocative, unflinching look at the complexities of racial conflict in America, Crash is that rare cinematic event – a film that challenges audiences to question their own prejudices. Diving headlong into the diverse melting pot of post-9/11 Los Angeles, this compelling urban drama tracks the volatile intersections of a multi-ethnic cast, examining fear and bigotry from multiple perspectives as characters careen in and out of one another’s lives. No one is safe in the battle zones of intolerance. And no one is immune to the simmering rage that sparks violence – and changes lives...

Funny, powerful, and always unpredictable, Crash boldly explores the gray area between black and white, victim and aggressor…and finds no easy solutions. The dynamic feature directing debut of Emmy Award-winning writer/producer Paul Haggis, Crash stars Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Jennifer Esposito, William Fichtner, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Chris “Ludacris” Bridges, Thandie Newton, Ryan Phillippe and Larenz Tate, from a story by Paul Haggis and a screenplay by Haggis and Bobby Moresco. Crash is produced by Cathy Schulman, Don Cheadle, Bob Yari, Mark R. Harris, Bobby Moresco and Paul Haggis.
Every bloody synopsis describes the shop owner as "Persian". No. He's Iranian. Persia is a historical entity. His country of origin is Iran. Minor quibbles aside it's a damn fine movie. Go see.

As basic as it gets

How do you unblock a lavatory?

Here's a tale I recognise.
I had hoped for a lazy, if not downright idle weekend. Instead, I've spent most of it trying to unblock a lavatory.
Yes. That was so my weekend.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Too Phat to Dance

The retro band The Magic Numbers stomred out of ToTP because of a comment of the presenter Richard Bacon who
said the band had been put in a "fat melting pot of talent" - and they left in protest at the "derogatory, unfunny remarks".
The group said they felt they had to "make a stand and leave".
Perhaps Bacon meant the word "phat" as used over 5 years ago by that epitome of phat, the management guru and prestidigitator Tom Peters. Or maybe he didn't and thought the band should go to the same fat farm as David Aaronovitch?

Monday, August 08, 2005

The wonderful Mr Pooter

Just found these two excellent posts on PooterGeek.
  • This needs no further comment
    No one who has any time for the views of a bunch of Jew-hating, woman-beating, Moslem-killing, gay-hanging, Koran-thumping mass-murderers is any kind of man of the Left, but then I’m biased by my weakness for logic.
  • This wonderful skit also needs no further comment. Go and read it. And laugh. And cry.
Both splendid pieces.

What I did on my holidays

Caught train to London on thursday. Flaneured our way around town.

Went to see "Death of a Salesman" with Brian "Belly of an Architect" Dennehy at the Lyric. Excellent performances all round but I came out emotionally drained. Wandered around Piccadilly and Regent Street in the rain.

Friday got up and went to the "Impressionism Abroad: Boston and French Painting" show at the Royal Academy. Some good pieces and some not so good.

Spent the afternoon in the National Portrait Gallery. To counterbalance the overemphasis on people from the world of the creative arts there's a section on figures from science and commerce. Science okay, a good idea. But, yes commerce is important, the board of Vodafone? Are these people important in the scheme of things. No.

Up to the new bar for a drink. Spent an age waiting to be served but it's worth it just for the view.

Into SoHo for dinner.

Saturday to Tate Modern. Didn't get to the Frida Kahlo but the wall of pictures outside the exhibition is splendid.

Afternoon met up with a group of friends to discuss beer, politics, film, the class basis of punk and why modern music is rubbish (apart from Arcade Fire, who are wonderful).

Walking back to our hotel along the South Bank came across Friches Theatre Urbain's Macbeth. Macbeth on stilts. In French, Spanish and English. Charging up and down the South Bank, from the National Theatre to the Hayward Gallery. Pyrotechnics. Stilt dancing. "Out, out damn spot". And the line Rullsenberg remembered
Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more.
It is a tale
Told by an idiot,
full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Amazing performance. A damn fine weekend.