Saturday, September 09, 2006

Sayonara baby!

Midori has mostly avoided maternity blues but it occurred to her a few days ago that some day, Ríona will leave us. She had a dream that Ríona was packing a suitcase with all her worldly good and saying "Sayonara". Of course in the dream Ríona was still a baby, was mostly packing nappies and apparently said "Sayonara" in a very cute way!

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Finkelstein vs Dershowitz

After watching the excellent (and freely available) Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land, I searched around and found a link to a 2-part debate on this blog.

Here's part 1 and part 2 of Alan Dershowitz (D) "debating" Norman Finkelstein (F) on Democray Now about D's new book about Israel. It's trumpeted in some places as a "demolition" by F however I just found it to be incredily tedious.

In essence, F points out some problems with D's references in the book but never really lands a killer blow. To me the problems range from not so bad to not so bad. For example, he uses some not very authoritative sources (like a Sony Pictures movie which was also a book) but the information he attributes to the source is not in dispute. F is right to say that you'd expect better from a professor at Harvard but it's fairly immaterial in the grand scheme of things. There were a few other things but assuming F hit D with his best stuff then really the whole thing was kinda pointless. He did catch him somewhat for his reliance on IDF and other official sources for his stats.

D on the other hand constantly interrupts F while he is trying to make his points. D appeared on The Breakfast Show presented by Eamonn Dunphy last year and Eamonn smacked him down for exactly this type of behaviour. It makes an intelligent debate impossible. When asked by the host, Amy Goodman, about targetted assassinations by Israel and the innocent civilians that are killed in the process, D didn't do much of a job defending them. When D gave an example of Israel's careful approach when trying to assassinate one particular guy, F caught him nicely with how they had killed a whole bunch of civilians with 1000lb bomb in an earlier attempt to assassinate the same guy.

It was disappointing to see F twist D's words slightly. In part 1 there's an argument over deliberate civilian killings by the IDF. D says there are none, F gave the example of a man in Jenin in a wheelchair with a white flag who was shot and then driven over by a tank. D says this was not deliberate (or maybe he says it's not accurate I can't remember). In part 2, F bring this up again when they argue about numbers of civilian deaths except this time, F makes it sound like D didn't count this a civilian death. That's unfair on D, he never denied it was a civilian death, he denied it was deliberate.

Also F kept saying silly things about how he hoped the book wasn't actually written by D. This was completely pointless.

If you didn't already hold a strong position one way or the other before watching this then you will learn almost nothing except:

  1. D is a sloppy scholar
  2. D and F are incredibly annoying and should never be brought together in public again

Oh and wikipedia has a page about the whole thing.

Peace, Propaganda and the Promised Land

This documentary is a very calm, very rational and unemotive look at how the Israel/Palestine conflict is protrayed in the US media (in case you didn't know, the basic conclusion is that it systematically portrays Israel as the victim and Palestinians as terrorists). Footage from US TV and quotes from newspapers show exactly how the same phrases are applied over and over to make Israel look like it is simply defending itself agsint crazy Palestinians who have no reasonable demands and are only interested in the destruction of Israel. US coverage is put in stark contrast to the BBC's coverage of the situation which is far more even handed.

Everyone in the US should watch this so that they can get a glimpse of what their media are hiding from them and what their politicians are doing in their name, with their tax dollars. Everyone else should watch this because it's simply an excellent documentary.

Us Europeans shouldn't be too smug though. As sites like Media Lens show, just because coverage of these issues is better over here than in the US, that doesn't mean that there is no bias over here.

Crank, babies and fundametalist terrorists.

I went to see Crank with Rob. It stars Jason Statham and has the excellent premise that he's been injected with a poison that should kill him within the hour but that andrenalin slows the poison. Thus begins a highly entertaining rampage as he seeks revenge and adrenalin. There are lots of really interesting and clever touches with subtitles and editing and lots use of Google Earth as the action shifts from one part of L.A. to another. Bit of a disappointing ending but otherwise well worth a watch if you want a non-serious movie.

This is the first time I've been to the cinema since my daughter was born and as I cycled into town I realised something. You might think that babies cry because they're hungry or scared or have some legitimate grievance but actually, they cry because they hate our freedoms. If I stop going to the cinema just because I have a baby then they've already won.

I had a baby!