Saturday, 23 July 2011

Norway attacks

I was going on hiatus but I'm just posting quickly on Oslo. I have a few mates in Norway who live about 20 miles from Oslo, none were harmed but do have friends who were on Utøya island, I have no idea if anyone they know has been hurt. My condolences to the families and the friends of those murdered. 

I'm sure once it's been determined that these were the actions of Norwegian political extremists many media outlets will stop using the word 'terrorism', you can already see that happening on the United States' reporting. But if, as is looking likely, these attacks were politically motivated, they were nothing short of terrorism. 

I have another friend who works for the DSB in Norway, I imagine he's going to be in for a nightmarish time in the aftermath of these events - best of luck to all those working in emergency planning and response. 

The Guardian and BBC both have live blogs running.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Senior Ghanaian minster orders arrest of gays

I've finally found something (via Nicholas Pegg) to drag me kicking and screaming away from the phone hacking scandal here in Britain.
Reports are coming in from a few news outlets that Ghanaian National Democratic Congress politician and Minister for the Western Region of Ghana, Paul Evans Aidoo, has ordered the security forces in the country to round up all people suspected of engaging in homosexual activity. He has also asked for the assistance of Blockleiters (apologies, my fingers couldn't avoid the slip into Godwin) landlords and tenants in providing reliable information on gay people in the area. Ghana isn't exactly a haven for LGBT people and after months of campaigning by Aidoo against homosexuality in the country this doesn't come as a huge surprise. He also appears to be one of the African politicians who believes that homosexuality is a Western 'problem', stating that he does not believe the recent number given of 8,000 lesbians and gay men in the region (though it is difficult to substantiate as this post outlines - if anyone knows a better source, please link me). 

As a side note, LGBT people generally account for about 2-10% of the population, this being the case, the Western Region's population of 1,924,577 should be home to at least 36,000 gay people - you could fit the population of the Scottish town (considered of a reasonable size - we had three schools in the town itself, a supermarket, plenty of wee shops in the centre, about eight churches and a swimming pool) where I grew up into that number two and half times.
Meanwhile, Mr Aidoo has said of the gay community in the country that: “all efforts are being made to get rid of these people in the society.” Delightful man. When are you planning on pushing a 'Kill The Gays' bill through? I'm sure if you try hard enough you could be like Uganda, or even better, Saudi Arabia! Wouldn't that be nice? Just for now though I'll mark you in there with Jamaica.

EDIT: I'm just posting some more recent reports/blogs/etc that have come through during the day - a fair few say basically the same thing, others elaborate further. Below my list, I've got a bit more bloggery.


FURTHER EDIT: Ghanaian Chronicle have posted a nasty little homophobic piece to their website which I would blog further on only I'm exhausted, however their conscience is slightly greater than Mr Aidoo's at the least:
The Chronicle hopes the authorities would not take advantage of the anti-homosexual sentiments in society to pursue a witch-hunting agenda. We can pursue the cause of eliminating this society of the scourge of gay and lesbian activities, without being vindictive.
On one hand... cheers for not supporting the witch-hunt, on the other... bollocks.

Also, I've looked into our "lynch 'em" friend and found the source-iest article in which the MP for Shai Osu Doku, Hon David Tetteh Assuming (a Christian) suggesting that mob justice would be carried out by Ghana's people where he also states that homosexuality is a foreign import (yep, that old chestnut):

You cannot trace this act to any of the settings in Ghana. So this is foreign and I am I saying that Ghanaians cherish our culture a lot so for anybody to adulterate the cultural setting in Ghana as far as this act is concerned[...]

Just like good old Christianity. As Christianity was a foreign import, I thoroughly advocate your abandoning the religion immediately, sir, for the good of the cultural setting of your country. I do note, in his defence, that he doesn't explicitly advocate mob action, he just supports more frequent raids on gay people's meeting places, lack of equality, fighting equality and increasing the numbers of people (i.e. recruiting more women) to spread intolerance. He is going out of his way to create the culture where people will lynch their fellow human beings on the grounds of their sexuality, actual or perceived.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

End of an era

I just went to see Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt. 2  twice... seven o'clock on the fifteenth with some friends, then on the sixteenth (today) at six-fifteen in the evening with my family, who I forced to sit through about ten minutes of credits because - as I was laughed at for stating - "They are my people."

tl;dr: Film was fucking awesome. Errors were there. Who cares? I think too hard about fiction. Nostalgia.

I took issue, as could only be expected, with a few points, but overall, it was a fitting end to the era, and I feel my childhood has now officially slipped away. I grew up with those books and films, it was not simply a story, it was an experience - though unlike some friends, I gave up waiting for my letter from Hogwarts a few years ago and embraced being a Muggle.

Easily fooled I may be, caught in the spell of a flawed series of books and a flawed set of films, but they captured my imagination and in the world of Harry Potter I met characters I could relate to, those I couldn't, things I recognised, sly little satires on the ordinary world, but the more into the books and the films I got the more I appreciated being a Muggle. I could go on forever, far longer than this paragraph, when I'm getting myself to sleep I explore where Joanne Rowling took us and where she didn't and where I can't quite remember: owl post and the Floo Network is all very well, but I have e-mail, chats, forums, social networks and instant messaging - I can meet people who share my interests and open me up to new ones at the click of a button. Sure, the wizarding world is generally greener than ours (though they clearly don't care enough about the environment to lend a few wands to tackling global climate change) but it's also more closed. Sticking your head in a fire is uncomfortable, Skype on the other hand is as comfy as the beanbag in your bedroom. Where in Hogwarts to they offer Human Biology and Physics? History of Magic is all very well, but what about learning some of the Muggle wars - surely the wizarding world was hit by the world wars? And even if they weren't, isn't it worth teaching to the young wizards as a lesson? We learn American and Eastern European history in Britain. I despise Maths with all my heart, but there's no denying it surprises me with it's usefulness on occasion. What if a young witch or wizard wanted to go into film or television or into government, technology or medical care in the non-wizard world? They would have to have exam results falsified or spend years at colleges gaining the necessary qualifications.

Also, no Doctor Who or David Attenborough for wizards? I'll stick to muggling it.

There you have it, and I'm not alone in thinking too hard, there are people out there who think harder and (somewhat alarmingly) more seriously than I do. It's a nostalgic type of interest and intrigue with me, some people get right in deep and philosophical, accusing Rowling of anti-Semitism, homophobia, misogyny and being an evilz capitalist. Not that I can be bothered with most (read: any) of them.


But the film! I enjoyed, it was utterly epic, beautifully shot and gorgeously put together. The Pensieve scene was to die for. I wanted to be involved in editing that so badly. To put it simply: they did good. Sure Lily's eyes didn't match Harry's (I'M TELLING YOU, NEMO, THEY WERE BROWN), the fight between Bellatrix and Molly wasn't long enough, the Dumbledores' story was skipped (I see a prequel film coming...) and Harry didn't fix his wand... but really, I didn't expect perfection. The escape from Gringotts showed me exactly how brilliant CGI can be, the dragon was exquisite. Matthew Lewis' Neville is both the same  round faced boy we met in the first book and the heroic man he is meant to be by the end. Bonham Carter and Watson as Hermione was well-judged and thought through. 

However, it was Maggie Smith as Professor McGonagall who stole the show for me. Both suitably grave - banishing Snape from the castle and protecting her students - and yet human, with her excitement at using the spell to release the Hogwarts gargoyles and in delivering the line to Seamus, nodding towards his mishap in first year Charms. It did irritate me she had to send the Slytherins to the dungeons, but as with much of it, they did have to keep the story going. 

Did I mention how fucking beautiful the dragon was?

Friday, 8 July 2011

Never mind Dalek Caan, meet Dalek Holmes

A friend forwarded me this, I've had it open in a tab a few days now because I know I lose and forget about things if I don't. Decided to shelf it in here.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Boycott The NotW (cont)

It's been hard to start writing up a post on this. Every time I have settled down to type it up more news comes through on my search feed. The main movement is a Twitter (though it's spread to other areas of the internet) campaign to have advertisers with the News of the Screws drop their investments in the paper. At 1200BST as I write this 10 11 advertisers (the Co-Op just came to their senses) will not be featured in the NotW, a further 10 are 'considering their position', 4 are “awaiting outcome of police investigation”, 1 is refusing comment and two are one is continuing advertisement. Political Scrapbook are keeping their list up-to-date.

It will be interesting to see the fallout from this. Prime Minister's Questions has just started and there are sure to be some questions relating to an inquiry into the phone hacking and to the BSkyB takeover bid.

It is amazing to see the backlash though, particularly on Twitter, coming from all sides. It's not just the left wing and progressives that are up in arms (though there are differing views over whether this should affect Murdoch's attempt to buy up BSkyB) but people from all over the political spectrum. I doubt whether many of the regular readers of NotW will boycott their paper but the advertisers pulling out will hopefully hit them hard enough in the wallet.

Kudos to the Guardian for pursuing the story. They're keeping a live blog on everything unfolding here.

Petitions against the BSkyB takeover can be found here and here.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Boycott The NOTW

I need to get to bed, so I'll direct you to this. And post that:

(click picture to enlarge)
Might post something tomorrow.

Monday, 4 July 2011

What music they make

I have a confession to make. 

I watch a lot of really crap television. People think of me as this high brow film snob, which I am a bit, but I watch a shitload of really bad television. I impose a sort of quota, where I only watch one at a time. Glee finished up for the season here in Britain a few weeks ago and I hadn't yet found myself new bollocks to watch... then i found out Fiona Shaw (a member of my Holy Watch List*) was on the new series of True Blood.

In the past three days I have watched two seasons, I'm just about to start the third.

I have one major reason for continuing to watch. The fangs make for great LOLage. Then fangs in the sex scenes, hilarious. I get immature and giggly enough at intimate contact on screen without them throwing in fangs. I didn't stand a chance. But otherwise it is actually genuinely engaging. The opening credits are well made and not as cringe-inducing as I expected them to be. The characters aren't awful, some are reasonably well rounded. I'm getting used to the surplus of Southern accents. There are some classic lines.

Yeah, it is undoubtedly crap, but it's good crap. I classify things into "Good Crap" (Glee, Torchwood, Ugly Betty, True Blood, Neighbours, so on) and "Bad Crap" (EastEnders, Dollhouse, Desperate Housewives, Casualty, &c), the latter is watched a few times then ditched, the former is as obsessive as, say, Doctor Who. 

I'm not big on the whole vampire fad - don't get me started on Twilight, as I like to state before having shoes thrown at me by ex-"Twihard" friends, I was up in arms against Twilight before it became fashionable to do so - but I have no objection to vampires on a television show (Buffy The Vampire Slayer is one of the few 'cult' or classic television programmes I watched in their first run - mostly I tend to catch up on a few years later) and these are good proper vampires. Sure, the garlic and the mirrors are myths - well explained - but there are stakes and sunlight and no sparkles. 

One thing I will not watch is most reality telly - Strictly Come Dancing is it, otherwise, I don't go near them. They are beyond crap.

*the Holy Watch List dictates that I must watch/attempt a film or television show if it has a particular actor in it. The actors on this list currently consist of:-
  • Ian McKellen
  • John Barrowman
  • Fiona Shaw
  • David Tennant
  • Kristin Chenoweth
  • Ewan McGregor
  • Julie Walters
  • Helena Bonham Carter
  • John Cho
  • Stephen Fry
  • Alan Rickman
You have no idea the shite some of these guys have put me through. It's a good way of making new discoveries though. Sometimes I find myself liking something I never expected to. The list is subject to additions and reductions.