jewin' the fat


Tall Tories
May 7, 2010, 10:16 AM
Filed under: Comment, media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , ,

Happy Election Day to the UK. Most recent exit polls have the Tories (Dave Cameron’s Conservatives) romping home with little less than a majority, but hey, I’ve got a wager on at work that they’ll take out 330 seats – so who am I to wish them ill? K’ARN TORIES!

"Hahahaha Thank GOD it's not me."

Four your procrastinating pleasure, a few odds and ends on the game-changing British elections:

First some choice campaign posters: here and here, and also, over here. Check out this here link for the originals.

Who said the BBC were old fuddies without a clue? Turns out they have concocted the coolest way to track and tally votes EVER. Right. Hurr.

Thanks to Foreign Policy, a break down of the implications for the Middle East.

And because if it ain’t on the front page of a tabloid, it didn’t really happen – here is a little diddy about the two major tabs in the Kingdom, and just how they work their objective, unaffiliated, non-partisan magic.

Can’t wait for the official results? Click right thurr for The Guardian’s live blog of the results.

It’s going to be a tight race. The only thing that is certain is the demise of Gordon “The Bigot Machine” Brown. The King is Dead. Long Live the King.



Everyone’s a little bit racist
April 27, 2010, 2:24 PM
Filed under: media | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I’m still not quite sure what the relevance of the joke was, why he had to reference the tale as “true”, or how it “set the stage for [Jones’] remarks” but whatever, everyone’s a little bit racist. And besides, nothing like a little latent anti-Semitism to liven up the party. Am I right? Jim? Am I right? Har-di-har-har cause Jews sell stuff see? Har Har.

Judge the joke for yourselves after the jump.



Fog of Battle or Full of BS?
April 14, 2010, 12:47 PM
Filed under: Comment, media | Tags: , , , , ,

“And even if the wars didn’t keep coming like glaciers, there would still be plain old death.”
– Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five, Chapter 1

On April 5, Wikileaks.org, a website which promises to promote freedom of information and complete anonymity for its sources, posted a 38-minute video, taken by a US Apache helicopter gun-camera in Baghdad in 2007. The site, which obtained the footage via a Freedom of Information application posted two versions – one, replete with edits, subtitles, indicators and highlighting, and another fuller version. The footage appears to show – well, let’s just let it speak for itself.

 Please Note: THIS FOOTAGE MAY BE OFFENSIVE OR DISTRESSING TO SOME VIEWERS.

As posted on the front page of the Wikileaks site:

FULL VERSION:

Check out this specially constructed site

Political and defence commentators have had a field day with this one, picking apart its content, its context and Wikileaks cutting techniques, while talk back and television audiences have been ferocious in their attacks on the US and Australian military for training their soldiers to dehumanise their targets before engaging (read: killing them). Veterans and individuals currently serving are forced to defend their actions in combat against civilians who have never held a gun before, and suddenly the morality of modern warfare is all anyone can think about – that is, 65 years after the firebombing of Dresden.

“A person who hasn’t been there will never get it”                                               – Ron Leshem, Beaufort

Now regardless of whether you think the title and/or editing of the videos and site is justified or simply a ploy to pique the interest  and direct the focus of viewers, there still remains the question of credibility. 

Screen grab of Colbert's interview with Assange (HT @ The Colbert Report)

Gawker‘s empowered piece on the debacle fleshes out the issue with a smartly conceived interview between with King of Satire and doublespeak Stephen Colbert and Wikileak’s Julian Assange – nothing we read or see in public media is completely objective – so can we trust such ‘leaked’ information? Even this blog post was edited (at current count, 8 times) for maximum impact on readers. Considering the clearly political motivations of Wikileaks, as admitted by its founder Julian Assange, how do we reconcile the facts:

1. Two Reuters journalists were killed.

2. Two Reuters journalists were not identified as such, and as they should have been, and as they had been trained to be.

2. The US internal inquest into the incident and the actions of the Helicopter gunners found no conclusive evidence of intentional murder or war crimes.

3. Julian Assange titled the video “Collateral Murder”, and made assumptions on the viewers behalf, to present a vision of the events that  subscribed to his political narrative.

4. We can not rely on a gun-camera to appreciate the real-time vision of the men who fired on the group.

It’s a fogging mess. While there is no doubt this footage is on par with the photos from Abu Ghraib as a paradigm shifting tool, and a gamechanger for war reporting, the facts remain. There is no comfort in knowing, and no bliss in ignorance.



Beck, Banksy & ‘Beatrice and Virgil’
April 13, 2010, 12:21 PM
Filed under: Comment, media | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Today’s post is brought to you by the letter B and the number 3 – ah! ah! ah!   

Photo: Muppet Wiki

Beck:  

The only thing that would make doing the ironing with a glass of pinot gris on a crisp autumn night in a terry towel nightgown sexier would be the hottest postmodern half-Jew in pop music, Bek David Campbell. His outrageous 1999 single Debra is dripping in smooth and smokin’ falsetto funk, and brought sexy back years before JT. Musical arrangements are fast and loose, structured and slippery, with just enough sleaze to get the housewives hot under the collar – like Beck’s coitus contemporaries Bowie and Prince. Lyrics that oscillate between self-effacing comedic genius (I said Lady, Step inside my Hyundai) and quasi-orgasmic sensuousness (like fruit that’s ripe for the picking) are packed with irony which borrows heavily from the same musical mastery as Flight of the Concords. If the last orgiastic breath of “Jenny” doesn’t make your loins quiver with excitement, you aren’t human. Take a listen here

Banksy:  

Every hipster worth his salty, unwashed, über-chic hair knows the pop-cultural importance of Banksy. What we don’t know, is who the hell this guy really is. Exit through the Gift Shop is the latest offer of an answer. It premiered at Sundance in January, and is about to hit US cinemas. Narrated by Rhys Ifans, the film tells the story of Mr. Brainwash, a French-born designer/entrepreneur Thierry Guetta, and his artistic enlightenment thanks to the Banksy himself. But like most great docos, soon the camera turns on its subject, and gazes not at the attempts of Guetta to replicate Banksy’s graffiti glory, but the man behind the mystery. Check out the trailer:  

   

Beatrice and Virgil:   

“If history doesn’t become story,” he says, “it dies to everyone except the historian. Art is the suitcase of history, carrying the essentials. Art is the life buoy of history.”  

— Henry, Beatrice and Virgil  

Props to Yann Martel – Life of Pi, which won the Man Booker Prize has been followed up with one of the smartest of literature’s handling of the Holocaust since Otto Frank published Anne’s diary. In an absurdist philosophical discussion between two stuffed animals in a taxidermy shop, Martel manages to capture the madness of the 20th Century’s greatest tragedy of human innovation and ignorance. As the author justifies his use of Animal Farm story-telling apparatus:  

“People are cynical about people, but less so about wild animals. A rhinoceros dentist elicits less skepticism, in some ways, than a German dentist.  But this animal-as-canvas quality is useful for a storyteller. It means that an animal that people feel kindly towards becomes a character that readers feel kindly towards.”  

Beatrice and Virgil is out this week. Check out all good booksellers, or here.



It’s a long way to the top
April 11, 2010, 9:55 PM
Filed under: Comment, media | Tags: , , , , , ,

Reading this story on Gawker got me thinking about university and the nasty game of graduate journalism. It’s been three years since I graduated, and lo and behold, while I am still in the media field, I have gone over to the dark side. Not because I lost the spark of independence, or my sense of the power and justice of the fourth estate. Nope. I needed the money, and this job was not only looking to hire, pay, and respect me for my time and efforts accordingly, but they hired, paid and respected me a helluva lot more than most graduate journalism jobs. 

It starts with the fight to get the marks to get into the degree, and the smarts to keep up with the fast paced course, unforgiving markers, and the burning hole in your pocket kept smouldering with hundreds of dollars of investment in chasing stories. 

If that doesn’t kill the fire to tell Australia and the world something worth sharing, when you finally land that (unpaid) job at a regional/local/suburban paper (because the other 70 applications bounced right back atcha) the painstaking hours spent pitching, preparing, driving, meeting, interviewing, transcribing, writing, typing, editing, re-editing, re-working, photographing, captioning, editing – It’s little wonder Journalists are known for their drinking habits. I’d be driven to the bottle too. 

We can't all be Hunter S Thompson ... but we all learn to drink like him (Photo: aquariumdrunkard.com)

Given that even seasoned journalists everywhere are fighting to keep their jobs in the wake of one of the greatest revolutions of modern news media, it is a bleak future ahead for those who are looking to make it big as a reporter. A boom in blogging, online media start-ups (drudge report, huffington post – even our very own JC), and a shift to Public Relations has saved some, but far too many are being convince that the only way is the hardest way. 

Call me crazy, but the second a graduate lawyer or physician or accountant has to work for free, I’ll just right on the bandwagon and enjoy the ride.  Hell, it might even get my parents off my back for choosing Journalism over Law. Maybe.  

But in Australia, you can’t get a job unless you’ve been working for that paper/news organisation for free all the way through university, and then someone managed to convince someone up high that you are worthy of taking that maternity leave gig, or fortnightly column, or that you don’t mind going under the pen-name “News Desk Staff”. 

With that being said, there are plenty of smart, talented, ambitious students who have worked hard, learned fast, and put in the networking hours to get a great job as a radio/tv/print/online journalist. But there are far more who are working nights, steadfast in their belief that a television captioning gig, media monitor/summaries job, or working for by-lines (and little else) is the way to the top. 

Sadly for the time being, it may not be right, but it’s true. It’s a long, long way, and if you don’t know the right people, have the right timing, or got the endurance, it can be a bumpy ride.



Explosive!
March 22, 2010, 10:15 AM
Filed under: Comment, media | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I can’t wait to see this in Cinemas. Four Lions is the name of a movie released in the UK in May about a group of hapless terrorists plotting an attack on London. Director Chris Morris describes the film as a ‘farce’ exposing the ‘Dad’s Army side to terrorism’. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2010 and was short-listed for the festival’s World Cinema Narrative prize. Take a look at the trailer:



Flashpoint or Excuse?

“This time the flashpoint was the reopening of a restored 17th century synagogue close to the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City. Rival Palestinian factions united in condemning the opening of the landmark Hurva synagogue, which was last destroyed 62 years ago in fighting with Jordan during the 1948 war that followed Israel’s creation.”

Police responded to the stonethrowers by firing tear gas and rubber bullets. HT@ Reuters: Darren Whiteside

Read more here.
 
“This time?!” I’m not sure what frustrates me about this article more –
– the fact that Palestinians are protesting the opening of a building (that has been under going construction since at least early 2004),
– that the Palestinians are “united in condemning” the opening of what Anne Barker calls “the landmark Hurva Synagogue” which was destroyed in the war of Independence (click here for a photo of the synagogue),
– the fact that the Hurva synagogue had been in a state of ruin for almost 50 years,
– the lack of context as to the exact location of the Synagogue (which is and always has been in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City, and has remained there since 17th Century)*
or perhaps the glib little phrase “This time”, which not only belittles the legitimate concerns of both sides, but reduces the conflict to a matter of incidences, easily avoidable if one side would just stop doing that one thing – bombing, building, walking, talking …  
 
Flashpoint, or excuse?
_ _ _ _ _ _
 *Case in Point: WordPress links this post to another, by Al Manar newsite, whose headline reads ““Israel” Hands Out Invitations to Attend Opening of Synagogue inside Aqsa Mosque”” … The article goes on …The sources added that the occupation authorities is making all preparations for that day, adding that according to a prophecy claimed by a Jewish rabbi in the 18th century, this synagogue will be established in the aforementioned date on the ruins of the Aqsa Mosque.

The sources added there is an agreement between the government and parties in Israel on the opening of this synagogue and Palestinian cooperation by Mahmoud Abbas’s authority to facilitate the opening ceremony and repel any Islamic moves to defend the Aqsa Mosque. 

In light of the Israeli preparations to quell any moves to defend the holy Mosque on that day, the occupation authorities prevented Jerusalemite worshipers under age 50 from entering the Mosque and launched a wide kidnapping campaign against Palestinian young men in the holy city.”Need I say more…?