Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Buscemi vs the Tea Party

This quickly tracks back to being a run of the mill Hollywood interview but it is still worth a read.

Steve Buscemi, famous for his roles in Boardwalk Empire and A list movies, rails against the recent govenment shutdown and entirely blames it on the radical's hijacking of the Republican party.

Towards the end of the talk it suggests that he is slightly disenchanted with Obama too but I think this is a fairly common feeling among those on the left (and is maybe entirely warranted after the hype that the media built up around America's first black president).

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Perceptions of African ivory poaching

So I've seen a couple of newspaper articles recently arguing that poaching is on the rise in Africa with a disastrous impact on conservation efforts. Only a couple of months ago there was the case in Zimbabwe where elephants were targeted with poisoned watering holes and now Kenya are proposing to introduce micro-chipping to safeguard rhino's horns.

Hopefully this initiative will be successful and will help stop selfish individuals and businesses from slaughtering the beasts that benefit African economies far more effectively when preserved and kept in national parks.
I do find it a bit myopic though that every article about this trend focusses on the use of ivory in Chinese traditional medicine as the cause of poaching. Of course it is true that this is a cause of poaching and should not be allowed to threaten the existence of endangered species. However we don't feel a similar need to discuss the big game hunting Victorians or the chaos sparked by bungled decolonisation in every article about ivory poaching. A superficial analysis of poaching as the fault of the Chinese ignores the historical factors that have caused environmental catastrophes across Africa and the globe and leads to a misleading 'not our problem' attitude towards these issues in the West.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

USA gets its act together (finally)

A good result but I can imagine more interesting ways that Obama could have ended the crisis. How about cutting the funding for anti-terrorism raids in Africa and the Middle East or military aid to Israel until the Republicans let the government do similarly crazy things like pay federal workers or run lucrative tourist sites.

The whole thing just shows the two faced nature of the lunatic right in a country that makes other country's extremists look like Salvation Army members. They talk about their desire for lower taxes and austerity through cuts in welfare services but then waste billions of dollars in posturing.  As ever the politicians who masterminded this travesty were only concerned about any threat to a society of economic inequality and privilege rather than about any genuine commitment to the economy.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

US shutdown drawing to a close

"Unfortunately the Senate chose not the follow the House," Sen Cruz said, "Had Senate Republicans united and supported House Republicans, the outcome of this I believe would have been very, very different."

The image that springs to mind is of a man jumping over a cliff and then blaming bystanders for not catching him on the way down.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Taking the leap - Skyline

So why are all the critics so negative about Skyline?

It's true that the characters are all one-dimensional walking cliches, that the story doesn't really go anywhere and that at times even the stunningly rendered special effects fail to distract from the tedium and illogicality of it all. You might even question why the name of the film bears so little connection to the content if it weren't so blindingly (geddit?) obviously that the producers had no idea what feature of the film they wanted to stand out as original or engaging.

However that doesn't necessarily mean that it was bad watching. The unintentional humour in some scenes is great. "They're on a timer" says Turk from Scrubs in a doom-laden voice as the blinds rise and leave the cast open to attack by alien fighters. None of them attempt to do anything about this (presumably) easily remedied feature of the flat's consumer electronics or thought to mention it beforehand. I didn't know whether to laugh or weep for humanity.

Also brain-harvesting aliens as the twist? In this cynical day and age? Truly brilliant.

I genuinely don't know whether I'm being sarcastic or not since every indication is that I should have turned it off in disgust after approximately 7.9 minutes. Give it a try - maybe it will trigger a similar 'so bad it's kinda watchable' response in you too.

Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Russians vs Aliens

Well now we know. The Russian military do not yet think they can combat extraterrestrials. I wonder if anyone has asked the Americans the same question. They do have a larger budget.

[Edit] Although since Russia Today is also leading with this article about the perils of jellyfish causing nuclear power plants to temporarily shut down.

I believe they may simply be trying to distract reader's attention from the real story about Russia this week:

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

A little perspective, please?

So the Republicans have shut down American government for the second time in two decades. Lets make that clear. This is not Obama's fault but a conscious policy by the right to obstruct and filibuster like their lives and fortunes depend on it. Or maybe we're just meant to accept that the World's largest economy, with its gargantuan military spending, cannot afford to pay veteran's pension cheques or keep the Library of Congress running.

The shut down is an absolute disaster for a fragile world economy and for democracy itself. However abstract it can become, democracy is meant to be government by the will of and in the interest of the people. I don't think a majority (or even a significant fraction) of the American people would support what has happened today.