Monday, July 13, 2009

Reality Intrudes into the Media

This piece from the NYTimes gives a rare look into the the political - and realpolitik - pressures on a presidential administration confronted with illegal governmental activity.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Amos Elon

Elon was an Israeli journalist who spent his life documenting the oppression of Palestinians by the Israeli occupation (he wasn't too fond of Hezbollah or Hamas either). His honesty and insight will be missed.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Land of the Teletubbies

Irvine is the anti-Brooklyn. When I first got here I was describing it to a friend of mine. I talked about the sunny days, the bright colors, the sculpted green landscapes, the happy polite undergrads, and of course the bunnies hopping about everywhere.

Ir sounds like the teletubbies, she said.

What are teletubbies? I said.

[a capsule history for other uniformed souls]

The programme features four colorful characters: Tinky Winky, Dipsy, Laa-Laa and Po, who live in a futuristic dome (the "Tubbytronic Superdome"), set in a landscape of rolling green hills. The environment is dotted with unusually talkative flowers and periscope-like "voice trumpets". The only natural fauna are rabbits (although birds are often heard, particularly blackcaps and wrens). The climate is always sunny and pleasant save for occasional inclement days, with rain and puddles, and snow at Christmas time. The Teletubbies are played by actors dressed in bulky costumes, although the sets are designed to give no sense of scale. The Teletubbies don't normally wear real clothes other than the colored suits they wear. They have metallic silver-azure rectangular "screens" adorning their abdomens. These screens are used to segue into short film sequences, which are generally repeated at least once. When the series is shown in different countries around the world, the film inserts can be tailored to suit local audiences, or default to the British ones.

They even had bunnies? I said.

They had bunnies, she said.

Thanks god I was too old to be subjected to that, I said.

Another more sinister way to think of the students here is as Eloi, wandering through a Brutalist landscape built by Morlocks (played by the U.C. Regents). Someday the Morlocks will devour the witless happy Eloi.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Armenian Genocide

Let's hope that Obama sticks to his guns on this one.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I love the fact that some random stringer for The Times slides in a knife-edged aside (See paragraph four).

"He moved slowly, shuffling along while looking down at his feet, they said, and he was ringed by security guards and trailed by a dark Mercedes-Benz sedan.

“It was the Comandante,” insisted one of those who spotted him, using the nickname of Fidel Castro, the convalescing 82-year-old former president who had not been seen in public since he underwent emergency intestinal surgery in July 2006.

President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, a close friend of Mr. Castro, first disclosed in a speech last week that the former Cuban leader had emerged from the hospital and had begun walks through Havana. “Fidel went out and they saw him, Fidel walking in the streets in Havana,” Mr. Chávez said. “A miracle. The people cried.”

It could not be confirmed whether there had been any crying, as Mr. Chávez said, nor did the Cuban state media provide their own account of Mr. Castro’s recent forays."

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Logic of Colonialism

Israel continues to expand settlements on the West Bank, making any kind of two-state solution even less possible. Even though Olmert has admitted the need for territorial concessions, he can't defy the dynamic of what Marxists call a 'colonial-settler state.'

Sunday, February 8, 2009

They Can't Hear: Can Obama Listen?

The New York Times takes a tiny step forward.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Charms of Realpolitik

From today's NYTimes on the recent tension between Israel and Turkey, its closest Muslim ally.

"Jewish groups [in the U.S.] have helped Turkey block a resolution that condemns the genocide of a more than a million Ottoman Empire Armenians from being discussed in Congress.

Abraham H. Foxman, director of the Anti-Defamation League, said that Mr. Erdogan’s criticism was “like a shock to the system,” but added that the league had not changed its opposition to the genocide bill in Congress. “It’s not a question of punishment,” he said. “There’s too much at stake in the relationship.”

So right-wing members of an ethnic group that suffered genocide support genocide-deniers in the name of political expediency. Nice.