“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

Archive for May 2009

Stick It Where the Sun Don’t Shine.

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Ok, a bit rude and I know that’s not what was said, but you get the impression that’s what the film director, Gary Sinyor, actually meant to say.

The Indie explains:

“A Jewish film-maker has handed back a prestigious award from the Edinburgh International Film Festival in an ugly spat with the British director Ken Loach.

Gary Sinyor, who won a Charles Chaplin Award at the EIFF for his Jewish comedy Leon the Pig Farmer, said he wanted nothing more to do with the festival after accusing it of caving in to Mr Loach’s anti-Israeli views.

The row began after the festival accepted a £300 donation from the Israeli embassy to pay for a film studies graduate of Tel Aviv University to attend the premiere of her short movie Surrogate at the festival in Scotland next month. But the sponsorship raised the hackles of Loach, who backed a boycott unless the money was returned forcing the EIFF to find alternative ways to fund Tali Shalom-Ezer’s trip.”

Sinyor explains it himself:

“Ken Loach took it upon himself publicly to endorse the boycott of the entire Edinburgh Film Festival. And hey presto! The EIFF suddenly decided to give the money back to the Israeli embassy. According to The Scotsman, the EIFF said: “Although the festival is considered wholly cultural and apolitical, we consider the opinions of the film industry as a whole and, as such, accept that one film-maker’s recent statement speaks on behalf of the film community, therefore we will be returning the funding issued by the Israeli embassy.”

I’ve tried making sense of that but I can’t. It’s possible that Ken was speaking on behalf of all film directors/writers and producers worldwide, but my phone never rang so at best it would be the entire global film community minus one. If someone at the EIFF made an absolute howler of a comment to The Scotsman, it should admit the mistake publicly. It hasn’t.

We can only assume, therefore, that Ken Loach exerted sufficient pressure on the festival that one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world actually caved in.

It’s a shame that Ken feels particularly strongly about not having anything to do with Israel or Israeli money.

It’s shame because clearly Israelis obviously like Ken. The Wind That Shakes the Barley (dir Ken Loach) was distributed in Israel in 2006. Ae Fond Kiss (dir Ken Loach) in 2004. Perhaps he insists his films only get shown in Gaza. Even then, though, he is supporting the Israeli economy and, therefore, the government. Is he happy to take the money or does the thought that it may have paid for a tank, or a bullet, keep him awake? When a two-state solution comes, will Ken rejoice, or will he stamp his feet in frustration along with the President of Iran, because Israel is allowed to exist?

There is a much more serious point here than one film-maker’s hypocrisy. To argue that Israeli money, or Israeli government money, is tainted, and shouldn’t be accepted as legitimate currency by a third party, is to equate Israel with a solely terrorist entity, rather than a country. It’s a little thing, I know, to get worked up about, £300. But the principle is beyond huge. Type in the words “Israel”, “rescue” and “earthquake” into Google. Peru, China, Turkey. Should they all should have said no to the Israeli government’s offer of help? Is there nothing redeemable, no help worth accepting, from the entire country? Support for film-makers, schools, hospitals, Israel does all this as well as buying weapons. It’s what countries do. If Jordan and Egypt can work with the Israeli government, why can’t the Edinburgh Film Festival? “

For background see Engage and We Are All Tali Shalom Ezer.

I’ll bet that Ken Loach would hate this film.

Update 2:
Apparently that antisemite, John Wight, has written a piece defending Loach on SU blog, how typical.

Written by modernityblog

30/05/2009 at 20:07

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Roxana Saberi.

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Roxana Saberi is interviewed on NPR, it is rather good.

Written by modernityblog

29/05/2009 at 03:07

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Support Stalin.

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Not that one, this one.

I received this message:

“SOAS UNISON members are taking strike action in support of Stalin tomorrow (Thursday, 28th May).

UNISON is demanding that the SOAS Governing Body review and reverse the appalling decision to sack Stalin.

Picket lines will be operating outside SOAS entrances all day.

Stalin has been an outstanding branch chair and his work with the successful SOAS Living Wage Campaign was central to ensuring that SOAS cleaning staff are now paid a living wage. It is now time to return that solidarity and support Stalin.

UNISON is urging SOAS staff, students and others to show whatever support they can.”

Joseph Stalin Bermudez, UNISON branch chair at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London was dismissed by the School following a disciplinary hearing held on 24 February 2009. Stalin was a key activist in the successful SOAS Justice for Cleaners Campaign.

Written by modernityblog

28/05/2009 at 02:45

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Echoing The Far Right.

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HP has picked up the story about a leading UCU trade unionist articulating racist nonsense about Lehman Brothers [nudge, nudge, wink, wink]. You’ve probably heard such lies from neo-Nazi or Holocaust denier web sites, but it is really jumping the shark to have a British trade unionist push this filth.

Jon Pike on Engage covers the start of the UCU conference.

How depressing? A modern trade union almost paralysed with institutionalised anti-Jewish racism.

Update: Adam Holland covers it.

Update 2:
Flesh is Grass argues:

“David Hirsh has live-blogged discussion and voting on the international business of UCU Congress 2009.

Aung San Suu Kyi? You must be joking. Israel and the Socialist Worker Party’s cherished boycott. There were 4 late motions, which breezed through undiscussed and unopposed in a derisory 10 minutes.

The Israel business took well over an hour.

Consider for a moment everything that is going on in the world, and then think about how shocking and dysfunctional that is.”

Written by modernityblog

27/05/2009 at 16:28

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Dismantling On The Cheap.

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The recent North Korea nuclear test should focus our minds on how dangerous, useless and destructive nuclear weaponry truly is.

So you might think that the dismantling of an old nuclear installation would be welcomed?

Yes, if it was done properly, but as the BBC pictures show Marigold gloves and bits of sticky tape are being used instead of quality protective clothing.

How pathetic. Not a thought given to protection from actual radiation, just some cheap Marigold gloves will do?

I’ll bet that in 10-20 years from now claims will be lodged on the poor protective equipment provided during this project, and the resultant deaths. Bearing in mind that nuclear “industry” has a very poor record in this area.

Talk about cheap and nasty.

Written by modernityblog

27/05/2009 at 02:12

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Too Much Modesty?

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Bob has kindly linked to me on a whole host of topics, but with uncharacteristic modesty I can’t claim anything special. Rather reading the debate on his blog opened me up to Jean Améry and a point he raises:

“Améry’s principal contribution to understanding the Holocaust is his concept of losing trust in the world. Perhaps better than any other Holocaust writer, Améry shows that the liberal pillars upon which Western civilization rests are not dug very deep; they are merely taken for granted. Political freedom and human dignity are measured by what is “possible and humanly acceptable”; they are temporary and hastily constructed social arrangements which disappear at the first blow aimed at a prisoner. “[W]e can live,” Améry says, “only if we grant our fellow man life, ease his suffering, bridle the desire of our ego to expand.” In the material security of our daily lives, we are unaware just how much we trust others to grant us life, and if not to ease our suffering at least not to cause it. But the victim of torture, the survivor of Auschwitz, has lost that trust forever. “Whoever was tortured, stays tortured,” Améry concludes. He is indelibly burned with the knowledge that trust in the world—the trust that no one will lay hands on you—is astonishingly fragile, and can be lost at any moment. He knows something that they do not teach you in schools: that the Other can be absolute, and can exercise this absolute power by inflicting suffering”

Written by modernityblog

26/05/2009 at 23:11

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Wiki Elections and Sock Puppets.

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Wiki has many problems, which I suppose go with the distributed nature of its existence. But that does not excuse or preclude the need for checks and balances to avoid deliberate manipulation and misuse, as shown by The Register:

“The eighth most popular site on the web, Wikipedia bills itself as the “free encyclopedia anyone can edit.” Editing from multiple accounts is officially verboten on the grounds that it would allow editors to promote self-serving content on what is ostensibly a “neutral” source of information. But so often, such sockpuppeting is facilitated by the site’s steadfast devotion to anonymous editing and a belief that administrators should “assume good faith.”

When standing for election to the Arbitration Committee – known in Orwellian fashion as the ArbCom – Boothroyd’s platform included the notion that “editors should be encouraged to register accounts, and then ideally to stick to one account.”

On a private email list used by the Arbitration Committee, Boothroyd acknowledged his real identity and admitted to using a second Wikipedia account under the names Fys and Dbiv. He has also used a third account under his own name.”

Unrelated Update:

Whilst on the theme of technology, I thought some readers might find this helpful, how to get an ATI card to play audio via HDMI. It works, testing via aplay -D plughw:1,3 /usr/share/sounds/alsa/Front_Center.wav shows as much, but if Kaffeine support is required then edit the Xine settings within Kaffeine and change audio to Alsa, not default.

Written by modernityblog

26/05/2009 at 18:35

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