Saturday, July 26, 2014

Saturday Waffling (July 26th, 2014)

So, I finished the Swamp Thing chapter. 48,210 words. Which means that timber-munki was off by exactly one word. I was tempted to add a "very" somewhere just to make him spot on, but no - send me your e-mail (I'm snowspinner at gmail) and I'll get you your omnibus.

In other news, I would like to, in a moment of possible hubris, announce my availability for any site or publication that would like episode reviews of Season Eight of Doctor Who, since I'm not doing those on Eruditorum. There are basically two directions I'm willing/interested in going with here. If you own or are friendly with a large-ish site - let's define "large-ish" as "big enough to get press screening copies of episodes so that I can watch a few days early like I did last season when I was writing for Slate" - you can safely assume I will work for free. If you are a smaller site that can't offer a perk like that, I would politely ask for a small fee. Everything is quite negotiable, however, so if you'd like me to do reviews for you, please, send me an e-mail and we'll see what we can work out. Again, I'm snowspinner at gmail.

Which brings us to discussion topics of the week. Hm. Let's go with "what news stories are you finding most interesting right now?" That's one we haven't done yet, I believe. And as this one risks prompting vigorous discussion, allow me to pre-emptively remind everyone that I greatly appreciate the civility and intelligence of my comments section, and will look dimly upon anyone who makes me feel like I should intervene in a discussion.

21 comments:

  1. I'm interested in who is going to be thee new EU High Representative, it should really be Radek Sikorski, but it seems to be slipping through his fingers.

    Bob

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  2. I've been obsessively horrified by the ongoing massacre in Gaza, but my opinions on it would feature a lot of swearing and would probably devolve into a screaming match with a mandatory internet zionist within three comments, so that's all I'm going to say on that here.

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  3. Congratulations to timber-munki. Beat me by 234.
    *shakes fist*
    grrr those timber-munkis!

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  4. Ongoing military action in Gaza for me too. Very annoyed about the recent coverage of how terrible it is that Israel is causing the death of innocent civilians.

    However my beef is not that I think Israel's campaign is justified - blowing up civilian targets is totally unacceptable, regardeless of who's doing it. What I'm pretty incensed about is he fact that Hamas have been systematically attacking civilian targets in Israel (as terrorists are wont to do) probably since their founding in 1987, and yet the media doesn't see fit to mention this.

    It particularly surprises me that the UK media seems quiet on this subject, having lived through almost a decade (the 1970s) of terrorist bombings by the IRA on the British mainland.

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    1. If Britain's response to the IRA had been to put Belfast under siege, blow up schools and hospitals, and murder hundreds of innocent people, I'm sure there would have been plenty of negative coverage of that too...

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    2. Every news report I've heard on the BBC states that rockets are being fired from Gaza too, and they give a tally of who has died so far. And even the pro-Palestinian folks who are interviewed (apart from Hamas spokesmen, of course) condemn the Hamas rocket attacks as much as they do the Israeli bombardment, as do the interviewers. I don't think your assessment of the UK news response is really accurate, but then again I don't generally bother with the newspapers, so it might be selection bias.

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    3. Radio 4's Feedback programme covered this last week. They got letters from those who thought the coverage was glossing over Hamas, and those who thought it was glossing over Israel, and the presenter said that it was too glib to say "If we're getting complaints from both sides, we've probably got it right", and interviewed the guy whose job it is to work out what fair coverage is.

      Still available:http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0499sp1

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    4. Perhaps the news team at Radio 4 is covering this more than the papers. My selection bias is that I get my news headlines from the BBC news website, and my analysis from the Today programme between 8 and 9 when I commute to work.They have regular reports, interviews with various Palestinian sides and with Israeli government sources. I'd guess that the Israeli ambassador has been on several times recently. My gut reaction to one of John Humphries' interviews was that he (JH) was getting close to saying "a pox on both your houses".

      Every rocket fired in either direction is now a response to the previous rocket from the other side, and we seem to be locked in a vile positive feedback loop which will only pause when someone runs out of ammunition.

      I despair, frankly, because it is a dialogue of the deaf. (And I speak of someone with experience of living in Belfast at the height of the troubles, and see troubling might-have-beens and never-weres all around)

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    5. To deal with @spacewarp's assertion about coverage of Hamas, in the media, I was certainly aware that Israel was treating it as a terrorist organisation and that it wasn't some kind of Palestinian hug a tree society. I'm not especially well-informed on Middle Eastern Politics, so for example I have no idea exactly how Hamas falls on the secular/religious spectrum or whether they are sunni/shia/mixed/other/irrelevant, nor could I tell you dates for the intifada(s). Yet my information comes mainly from the British media, so I must have learned a little about Hamas from there.

      My (limited) exposure to US news reporting would suggest that American mass media reporting tends to side with Israel more than somewhat, by which standard UK reporting might seem a little pro-Palestinian?

      Can I add that I have no intention of invoke the wrath of Phil, and YMMV.

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    6. I think the general problem is that the casualties are disproportionate. So there's a bit of a tension between both sides are shooting rockets and killing people on the one hand, and one side is killing vastly more people, on the other. News coverage that falls between representing each side equally, and representing each side in proportion to the casualties suffered, is going to make nobody happy. Also, both sides no doubt think the coverage is out of context, so there's a question of whose context they put it all in.

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    7. The sides are absurdly mismatched. New orgs in the UK at least are being influenced by social and doing less "false balance". The apologists are sounding increasingly deluded and hollow. (Sickening actually.) Apparently they are really sorry about civilians been killed and even apologise for this sometimes! That's all right then. The IDF have committed war crimes (according to the UN) and have broken the Geneva Convention. This article discusses the claim that Hamas use human shields: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jul/24/gaza-hamas-fighters-military-bases-guerrilla-war-civilians-israel-idf I don't think Isreal's stated aims are their real aims.

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  5. Season 8 reviews, you say? Check it out: http://doctorwhoworldwide.com/2014/07/19/new-writing-positions-available-series-8-reviewers-missing-episodes-historian-opinion/

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    1. That is like my dream job. If only I was a bit older.

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  6. This story out of california about mysterious dolls appearing on the doorsteps of various suburban families that look like their daughters. People are creeped out, the sheriff is called in, inquiries are made... it turns out to be some old lady who knows the families and goes to church with them who thought the girls might like some nice dolls.

    Probably should have handed them out at church, or perhaps included a letter...

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    1. Dolls, like clowns, are now officially past the event horizon of creepy. Nursery rhymes are circling the drain.

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  7. I don't know if "Commonwealth Games opening ceremony reactions" counts as a news story (although the papers and news-sites seem to think it does), but I'm fascinated by the gulf between the people who found it to be a glorious tongue-in-cheek celebration that embraced the stereotypes in a postmodern way, and those who found it to be a ghastly mess of shortbread tin Scottishness, possibly with a few saving graces. (I'm in the latter camp; I did like the use of Hamish Henderson's Freedom Come All Ye, and the dogs were cute. That was about it.)

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    1. I dread the resumption of Scottish Referendum hostilities when the games are done. I live in the South of England, am English, and think that if the Scots chose independence it would be expensive for the rest of us and a disaster for them. But that's politics.

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    2. I'm decidedly independence neutral, leaning towards "no" - by which I mean that if November comes round and I still don't have a clear idea how it would actually work (which seems likely), I'm going to vote "no" on the grounds I'd rather be in the mess we are now than an entirely new mess that might well add to the mess we're in now rather than replace it.

      I know people who are saying that this is going to be the first time they don't vote, because they simply don't feel they have the information.

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  8. This is certainly relevant to Phil: http://www.avclub.com/article/warner-bros-shows-wonder-womans-new-costume-teases-207396

    Not exactly a "golden thread", anymore... more like dullish bronze or silver. :-/

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  9. Living in Korea, I follow the news about the social and political ramifications of the tragic sinking of the Sewol ferry. (I also am interested in the upcoming visit by Capaldi and Coleman to Seoul!)_

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  10. As someone once wrote: Doesn't it feel sometimes the world is run by C- students?

    Strictly provincial news here. A developer in the next town over wants to do some fracking near a community near UNC. Our Republican-led state government have essentially put out a for-sale sign at the state borders.

    Locally, in my neighborhood, which is a historic district, one of the owners of a large property wants to build some apartments on some of his open land (large apartment blocks are springing up in Durham like kudzu). Issues here of zoning, traffic, is Durham growing fast enough to support more apartments, are there enough services and businesses to support the current population, etc.

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