Censorship not needed

when millions of people willingly watch this brainwashing TV-station every day (it’s a mash-up obviously)?

Watch the whole video, then sit back in your chair a minute and try and recall what the Republicans have called Ms. Clinton, Ms. Pelosi or Ms. Sotomayor. If you don’t recall, google it. Or use my new pet search engine Spezify. I was directed to the video from here – a link I found on Twitter, posted by @sharonKONE.

That censorship luckily becomes more and more difficult for the horrible regimes around the world is shown by this excellent article in the Washington Post.

For all the people out there who struggle to hear our voices and who struggle to make their own voices heard over the clatter of the propaganda machines and the short, short memory of the Western press, we really owe them to qualify the news we read/watch/hear and check our sources. We’re the ones who can!

Share

Musings before Mother's Day

Feminism:

It being Mother’s Day tomorrow, the Times has asked six women, mainly writers, to write a letter to their children at 21 (they all have young children) or to share the advice of their own mothers. Some of these letters are so, so beautiful. I didn’t just well up, I had to go and get a clean hanky out of the drawer. I like Sarah Vine’s and Justine Picardie‘s the best. Found on Tania Kindersley’s brand new blog.

The Times has also compiled a list of the most powerful Muslim women in Britain. An interesting read!

So, at 49, I’ve finally found a word that defines me: Geek Mum

Olivia James writes a very poignant piece about Mother’s Day. Read it if you have a troubled relationship with your own mother!

Food:

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has a weekly food column in the Guardian. If it wasn’t online I’d feel compelled to buy the paper every Saturday. Actually, I might do that anyway, the Weekend Guardian is a very good paper, lots of sustenance! Today it’s about flour. Also one of my pet causes. I buy almost all my flour freshly milled at the Farmers Market, not least the lovely spelt. It’s a totally different experience from the supermarket stuff. Hugh forgets to mention cornmeal – not the dreary stuff that you buy to thicken your gravy, but the real stuff. I use it in muffins, which then look beautiful and yellowish and as one of three types of flour in my sourdough bread.

Sourdough bread & cake with muscovado sugar, cinnamon & courgettes.
Sourdough bread & cake with muscovado sugar, cinnamon & courgettes.

I’ve promised Tania Kindersley to publish my recipe for Panzanella. It’s from The Blue River Café Cook Book. I hope they won’t sue me for copyright infringement…

Panzanella – serves 6:

  • 3 stale ciabatta loaves
  • 1 kg fresh, plum tomatoes, chopped, seeds removed, save juices (key to recipe is the tomatoes actually tasting of something)
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed (I always dump them in boiling water for a bit to take the top of the “sting”)
  • Maldon sea salt (or similar) & freshly ground pepper
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tbs red wine vinegar
  • 3 red peppers – grilled until black & skinned, then chopped
  • 2 fresh chillies – not necessary
  • 100 gr salted, large capers
  • 100 gr salted anchovies (these can be ground to a paste and mixed with the dressing)
  • 150 gr black, pitted olives
  • 1 large bunch of basil

Cut the bread (preferably stale) into bite-sized chunks. Mix all “wet” ingredients and toss the bread chunks in this. Mix all ingredients. Don’t serve cold.

Science:

Also in the Guardian, Ben Goldacre again crucifies a number of journalists for their faulty and misleading interpretations of a scientific paper about prostate cancer.

I’ll never stop recommending TED. Probably the best source of ideas on the web. It never, never fails to inspire and to lift my spirits. Here’s about how to grow your own fresh air… What to do when you DO NOT have green fingers?

Tech:

A lot of people are – as usual – angry with the new design of Facebook. Maybe I’m easy, but I’m fine with it… Here’s one who doesn’t like it, but makes a good joke of it.

Here are some very useful tips about how to customise the new Facebook. I’ve already done it – I have some FB friends whose updates are rather boring, to be frank. But I still want to keep them as friends. Done!

I don’t find any reason whatsoever to doubt this story about the GRU and the FSB in Russia using cyber “weapons” against Georgia in the war. But then I’m not a great fan of the Russian Leadership.

Oh yes, and as an Iphone owner I’m thrilled to bits by this. Can’t believe I forgot to write about it earlier!

Politics:

An American soldier tells the moving story of when he accompanied a fallen soldier to his final resting place. Very touching and also enlightning. The Americans are good at honouring their fallen. Would be nice if they were as good – or even better – at honouring the wounded and crippled.

Here’s about the methods of torture applied by the CIA. You know, the ones sanctioned by John Yoo, as mentioned yesterday.

This sounds like a good plan. Geithner reveals how the US will deal with its toxic assets.

See, here’s what sets a respectable Republican apart from one you can’t respect. Please Sarah Palin, can’t you just go elk hunting forever?

How can this and this take place in the same country at the same time? It’s about the right to life on the one hand and the right to a dignified death on the other.

With a few exceptions, which are from my RSS reader, all of the above were harvested over 24 hours on Twitter. So don’t tell me twittering is a waste of time.

Share

Undo – it's doable now!

Politics:

Were you in favour of the war in Iraq? Check Bush’s “entry” speech here. Andrew Sullivan is embarrassed that he fell for it. I would be too! I’m proud that my sister and I actually took part in an anti-war demonstration – none of us being people normally given to demonstrations.

Bush has no regrets, apparently. Bush’s legal councel John Yoo, who wrote the infamous memo that “allowed” torture, isn’t either. Read about it here.

Obama made an appearance on the Jay Leno show. That’s a first. He managed to make a blunder and had to apologize profusely. Why is it that nobody seems to be able to take an innocent joke for what it is?

Writing/blogging:

An interesting post about why we (yeah, well, some of us) so urgently feel the need to share our thoughts with others.

Web:

Microsoft tries to explain what their new privacy settings are for. It’s close to funny.

Kottke.org has this interesting story about how much revenue the “was this review helpful to you” question on Amazon generates.

If you have heard or read any tech news today, you already know this, but here goes anyway. A Godsend to every Gmail user. Now you can un-send your messages – as long as you’re quick!

Health:

Why am I not surprised? (Why alcohol makes you feel good).

Share

GOP response to Obama's speech in Congress

At the time when Obama’s package was coming together, I looked high and low for an alternative. All the republicans could say was: Lower taxes. Here’s a speech now, which is hailed as the Republican Party’s response to the rescue package – why they voted no. It’s delivered by the Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

A word of warning – I haven’t counted (don’t have time), but I do believe he says “Americans can do anything” more than 20 times… The above Youtube video is only the first part of the speech. If you’re not completely nauseated when you’ve sat through that bit, jump to Youtube to see the other half.

Notice his interesting reference to Hurricane Katrina (he is from Louisiana, after all). Bureaucracy was why the help went haywire, he says. Hm. And then there’s the ever-present tax cuts. The Republicans cut taxes for eight years, consistently. Example: Those who made $1 million/year got a tax relief of $53,000. And those who made $20,000 a year got a $375 tax relief. When Bush came into office, it was with a $237 billion surplus. When he left, it was with a deficit hovering around $1 trillion.

Only after 10 minutes does governor Jindal acknowledge that the Republicans didn’t quite live up to all his blabber, when they were in office. But that’s HISTORY now, he says. Now the Republicans WILL cut bureaucracy and government. And they will work towards bi-partisanship, as long as the Democrats will cut bureaucracy and government. I wont comment on what he says about the American healthcare system. Listen to it yourself… Towards the end of the speech he says something else that sounded a bit strange to my ears. He said “Americans won the struggle for civil rights”. ‘Scuse me, but since it was a STRUGGLE and since no other nations were involved, it must have been some Americans who won over some other Americans?

Share

Twitter and more on online safety for children

After months of hesitation and no-saying to Twitter I’ve given in. As I understand it, Twitter can be more useful than Facebook when you want to promote your blog and/or other writings to a larger crowd. And of course I want that – otherwise I wouldn’t be writing, would I? I’ve read up on Twitter recently, here and here. There are a few things that irritate me about Facebook, although it’s also fantastic to re-connect with old friends and acquaintances. Funny how some people who used to be mere acquaintances are now candidates for friendship and how some who used to be friends, now have come off the radar, somehow.

If you want to follow my Twitter feed, my screen name is labeet.

On Boing Boing I just read this great little story about how to monitor you child’s online presence. Here’s a Dad who takes his responsibilities as a parent seriously and at the same time realises that we can’t use the same template for our children that our parents used for us. The world has changed and we must change with it. But we should also remember that it’s mostly the outer world that’s changed. The world of feelings, morality and right vs wrong hasn’t changed half as much. A good deed is still a good deed and love, indifference, arrogance or selfrighteousness are still the same feelings they used to be. But you knew that, of course…

Completely unrelated – I’m happy that Slumdog Millionaire (which we accidentally saw Saturday afternoon!) won lots of Oscars – it’s a great film. Happiest I think I am for the music score Oscar, since I particularly liked that. Very original and very in-your-face without obscuring the film. Also it’s great that Anthony Dod Mantle, who’s a little bit Danish, haha, won an Oscar for the cinematography. He is good.

Oh, and just read this. What are we to think? Was he a terrorist all along or did Guantanamo make him one? I think four years there could have made me one…

Share

Anticipation

Tonight my friend Irina Lankova plays Beethoven’s 3rd piano concert at the Royal Holloway. I’m so excited and also nervous on her behalf.

While waiting to be picked up for an afternoon out with my sister-in-law before the concert, I checked Boing Boing. Should do that more often. Always some hilarious postings. Check this about Obamania in Japan and this about yet another corny American museum.

Not so funny is this post by historian and liberal blogger Igor Volsky about how misinformed you are if your only news source is Fox News.

Share

Random kindness and other kindnesses and randomnesses

I subscribe to a rather charming newsletter about digital photography and related subjects called Photojojo, recommended to me by a family member, who owns this site. Today the Photojojo newsletter had a very cheerful and Fridayish story. A geek who’d left his computer behind and had gone hiking found a Sony digital camera at the bottom of a river. It was completely rusted, but the (self-confessed) geek took it home to see if he could rescue the memory-card and thus maybe return the photographs to their rightful owner. He made a blog about it and after only one week, the rightful owner was found. See that’s a nice story. There are actually kind and considerate people out there, isn’t that nice to know? It turns out that there (why didn’t we just guess that?) is a website dedicated to finding the owners of lost cameras/photos. See it here and make use of it if you ever find a camera or buy a “new” memory-card with pictures on it, as apparently a number of people have tried.

Another random note comes here: A really good search tip, which as an almost-information pro I should have known, is that you can use Google’s superior search to find stuff on large websites with less superior search functions. Read about it here in PC World. I WARMLY recommend it. I quickly tried to do a search on PC World itself both ways. It works miraculously!

Here’s a story from Financial Times. I don’t know whether it should make you laugh or cry. It’s about a host of abandoned luxury cars in Dubai’s international airport with keys in the ignitions and maxed out credit cards in the glove compartments… The pointer came from Marginal Revolution.

As I’ve mentioned previously Alex Tabarrok from Marginal Revolution is a TED speaker this year. He tells about his experience and also brags a little (I would too!!!!!!) about having met and talked to Peter Gabriel. He recommends Gabriel’s website, which empowers the powerless, Witness.

One of the three TED prize winners was a person and a project that I’ve previously written about here. José Antonio Abreu and his El Sistema. Briefly explained, El Sistema uses music to drag poor children out of poverty. It originated in Venezuela, but has since been succesfully exported to other countries. I can only approve. LOUDLY! Viva Music!

Share

Money for nothing

is a song I hate. It’s so playing up to the little man’s envy or whatever you call it. But that was what I thought of when I read this article in the Washington Post.

18 billion $ have been paid out to Wall Street financiers over the last few months. In Merrill Lynch, the article tells us, where bonuses are usually paid out in January, they hurried to pay out 3-4 mill. $ in bonuses in December, before they were taken over with billions in debts. That’s 9 zeros. 000000000. Or 000.000.000. In sterling that’s around 5.6 billion. Let’s split that up in brand new cars. Brand new envy-inspiring cars.

Audi Q7
Audi Q7

Are you ready? App. 307,000 of these lovely cars. I don’t even think Audi produces that many Q7s! (They are around 41,000£ each). Hm. That’s still too big a number to really sink in! Let’s try with houses.

5 bedroom house in Richmond - a very attractive neighbourhood just outside London
5 bedroom house in Richmond - a very attractive neighbourhood just outside London

OK. The above house sells at £2,1 million. Let’s say we get it at the bargain price of £2 million. So the Wall Street guys – don’t know exactly how many people split the 18 billion, but a safe bet is that it’s definitely more than one Audi per head – can get 6,300 houses like this.

I’m actually not at all against bonuses and rewards for high performances. What I’m deadset against though is when bonuses are paid for doing an appallingly bad job or for serving the share-holders’ short term interests (which are sometimes not at all beneficial to the company) rather than the company’s AND the shareholders’ long term interests.

Added 4/2: Capac alerted me to a wrong link to the above mentioned Washington Post article. It is now mended. The wrong link was actually to a pretty funny article – it’s here and it’s not about money but about Iphone apps…

Share

If it looks like a bank and quacks like a bank…

we’ve got to capitalize it as a bank,” Lord Turner said.

This is MY money...
This is MY money...

It’s a quote from this article on CNBC, which briefly explains the ideas behind the bank rescue packages both here in the UK and in the US. The heart of the matter is the so-called Bad Bank (just Google it if you want to have it explained). I kind’a like that term ;-)

Here’s a few video-clips from Davos, the World Economic Forum. One of them is with Rupert Murdoch, who not surprisingly is against the rescue package. I don’t know if he explains the alternatives later on in his speech (apart from a quick little war (another one?) to get the wheels spinning), but I’m still looking through blog-posts, news articles, video clips etc. to find a viable alternative.

Here’s a syndication of comments to the package, divided into YES, it will work & NO, it won’t work. I’ve read through the first four of the Nos, but apart from BIGGER TAX CUTS, there are no alternative solutions in sight. Am I looking in the wrong places? Please direct me to somewhere, where I can read in clear an understandable language, what would be a good and viable alternative to the stimulus packages, which are now under way on both sides of the Atlantic.

Here’s the British Conservative Party’s idea of an economic rescue package. Tax breaks seem to be the answer here as well!

Here, in the Financial Times, Martin Wolf explains why the packages should be bigger and how a lot of other measures must also be taken into use, if the US is to overcome its financial woes. The article is quite a mouthful – i stumbled over the word deleverage several times…

If you hear speeches from Davos, you’ll also hear “the Swedish model” mentioned. It is explained here and here, where Tyler Cowen raises doubts as to whether it could work in the US and also whether it’s as good as they say.

Here’s cable news directly from Davos, if you want to delve into the speeches. And as you could expect, the New York Times Davos blog is excellent. That’s also where I found a reference to this clip. I think it more or less speaks for itself…

(It’s Michael Dell who asks the question)

Share

Illusions of Grandeur

Have been reading about Illinois senator Blagojevich and his attempts at selling Barack Obama’s senate seat to the highest bidder. I already knew he was really good at using the f… word, but it was new to me that he also quotes poetry. You can say many – MANY – things about American politics. But boring it is not!

He quotes Kipling:

“If you can keep your head when all about you/Are losing theirs and blaming it on you/If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you/But make allowance for their doubting, too . . .”

and then gets even more carried away:

“I had a whole bunch of thoughts — of course, my children and my wife,” he said. “And then I thought about Mandela, Dr. King, Gandhi and tried to put some perspective in all of this.”

(describing his hurt feelings when he was unsurprisingly arrested at his house).

Read about the accusations against him and the overwhelming evidence on CBS and then read Dana Milbank in Washington Post. He’s been watching all the interviews and seen all the shows that Blagojevich has appeared on and collected some pretty colourful quotes.

Share

Obama on libraries, librarians & the freedom of speech

Stephen’s Lighthouse points the beam at a four year old speech, which Obama held for the American Library Association as a young senator. His eloquence and his sense for “the right thing to say” is no news. He says:

At a time when book banning is back in vogue, libraries remind us that truth isn’t about who yells the loudest, but who has the right information.

That’s why I’ve been working with Republicans and Democrats to make sure that we have a Patriot Act that helps us track down terrorists without trampling on our civil liberties. This is an issue that Washington always tries to make into an either-or proposition. Either we protect our people from terror or we protect our most cherished principles. But I don’t believe in either-or. I believe in both ends. I think we can do both. I think when we pose the choice as either-or, it is asking too little of us and it assumes too little about America. I believe we can harness new technologies and a new toughness to find terrorists before they strike, while still protecting the very freedoms we’re fighting for in the first place.

Ah! The man who spoke those words is now president of the United States. Ain’t that great?

Read the whole speech here.

Share

American royalty

It will come as no surprise to anybody reading this blog that I’m deeply fascinated by American politics. So of course I skipped all the dreary British politics in today’s Times and jumped directly to an article about what’s facing Obama in the next 100 days. Author Paul Kennedy is a British history professor at Yale, who’s spent the last 25 years in the US. Another article took an anthropological view of the footage from the inauguration day – very entertaining! Did you notice, for instance, that Michelle Obama took her shoes off at one point?

Caroline Kennedy
Caroline Kennedy

Later on I read an article in the online edition of the New Yorker about Caroline Kennedy and why she has withdrawn her candidacy to the senate (where she had made a bid for her uncle Ted Kennedy’s seat only a few weeks earlier). If you wan’t an exact reason, don’t hold your breath… The article gives fantastic insight into American politics at a level below what we usually hear about. And it gives insight into the only royalty America has – the Kennedys. For more of that, read the excellent article in Vanity Fair’s November issue about Jacqueline Kennedys intellectual “flirt” with France’s then minister of culture, André Malraux, over Mona Lisa.

Share

All is said

so I’ve surfed around for some less serious titbits to add colour to this day of promise.

If you haven’t read any comments, I suggest you pop by The Times, The New York Times, The Washington Post (this one is good), Huffington Post and dont’ forget the always thorough Andrew Sullivan on The Atlantic (comments from right), (comments from left). Oh, and Whitehouse.gov has got a very new look and feel. On Kottke.org I read that all third-party content is licensed under Creative Commons. Is that cool or what?

Back to the less serious. You did wonder who designed Michelle Obama’s dress, didn’t you? And have an opinion? Well, you’re not alone. Read about the designer and what hundreds of NYT readers thought here.

The Inauguration lunch is also described in detail. It’s modelled over one of Lincoln’s lunches.

An anthropologist muses over Obama’s changed way of speaking. I’ve noticed a change, but am not exactly a linguist, so hadn’t caught exactly what kind of change it was.

Here’s Hollywood Obama gossip on a Washington Post level. It’s Dana Milbank writing – he’s not just any old gossip columnist. (Note that you may have to sign in to Washington Post to read this – but it’s free).

And here’s what we’re now rid of. I know you’ve probably already seen this. But funny it is!

The ObamaNene poster was created here. Go get your own!

Share

What will Obama do? (and something about parenting)

Andrew Sullivan does some deliberation and a bit of wishful thinking in The Sunday Times. It hasn’t been published online, but probably will be tomorrow or some time next week. Here’s a couple of quotes to wet your appetite:

On Israel, perhaps, we will see the biggest shift. Obama has so far been preternaturally silent on the Gaza bombardment, in deference to the “one president at a time” mantra and because he knows full well that if he were not about to become president, the Israelis would not have launched their attack.

(…)

Obama almost certainly believes, for example, that no one is enjoying the Gaza disaster more than Iran’s government, and that Tehran’s more radical mullahs fear nothing more than fighting an election at home while Obama appeals to the Iranian people over their heads. It is perfectly reasonable to be confident that Obama threatens President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in ways that Bush never managed. I hope at least.

I hope that too!!!

Make a search for this article on The Times webiste some time tomorrow (try “Andrew Sullivan Obama”) or enjoy his sharp and immensely popular blog on The Atlantic.

On an entirely different subject I enjoyed and agreed with (would I have enjoyed it if I didn’t agree?) another article, this one by Rachel Johnson. Actually, she quite often annoys me, but in a way that makes me read her columns anyway. She blogs too. The article is about a certain kind of British middle class parents, of whom I’ve already met quite a few. They are a bit scary!!! She writes:

We’ve all become grimly used by now to the excesses of hyper-parenting – it’s been richly documented over the past decade as more and more university-educated parents, often former career girls turned full-time mothers, have diverted energy and ambition from the boardroom to the playroom. Even so, this now constant, almost compulsory, blurring of boundaries between parent and child takes the horror to the next level.

(…)

Moreover, according to the clinical psychologist Oliver James, parents who bathe in the glory of a child’s performance can be hugely damaging. “It’s disastrous if children’s achievements are used as vehicles for the parents’ prestige,” he says. “Then the withdrawal of love is only a tiny mistake away.”

(…)

If you subsume your identity into that of your child, you are, according to the psychologists, enmeshed. That’s shrink-speak for “disturbed” and it means you can’t get your kicks in your own right but only through your offspring and their achievements, and are flagging up a desperate form of displaced narcissism. And yes, you probably need urgent help.

I’m sure my Danish readers are all going: “You must be kidding!” But no, I’m not – this is British reality. I’m hoping that my Danish voice of reason will always be there to kick me in the behind should I start acting like this. But I believe that I could never live my life through my children. I have ambitions for my own life, which are not yet fulfilled!

Share