Monday, January 30, 2006

Munich

Another good week-end closes with a trip to the cinema to see Mr. Spielberg’s new film Munich.

There have already been a couple of reams written about this film, particularly in the USA. The main reason for the fuss seems to be it’s portrayal of Palestinian Arabs as human beings rather than saliva-flecked anti-Semitic animals. Goodness me, whatever next?!?


Anyway, here’s what little I can add:

1) When he’s on form, Spielberg is a very good director indeed. There was a ton to enjoy in Munich, from the editing and action, to the lighting and unobtrusive period feel (it’s set mainly in Western Europe in the early 1970s).


2) Some of the best aspects of the script may owe a lot to Quentin Tarantino, who once explained that he made gangster films, but the trick was that the gangsters weren’t speaking about gangster type stuff... It’s the same in Munich – none of the Palestinian terrorists is seen doing anything remotely illegal. Many of them have partners and friends and careers and children. By contrast it's the Israeli vengence team that are abhorrent and criminal.

3) There was a really excellent scene or two in a French Chateau owned by a creepy yet charming “patron” who runs a private intelligence shop.

4) Judging by the T.V. documentary I saw last week, many of the killings in the film were fairly accurate in terms of method and means. This was surprise.

5) The most upsetting and horrible assassination didn’t happen in real life. I dunno what this tells us about truth and fiction and the way fiction sometimes tells the truth better than fact blah de blah de blah…. Whatever, it's a brilliant piece of cinema.

6) Black September’s cruel and foolish acts of terrorism were gift-wrapped propaganda presents. Israel used these gifts wisely and perhaps extended Western liberal support for the colony by as much as an extra decade. In fact it wasn't until General Ariel Sharon’s criminal invasion of the Lebanon in 1982 that Israel began to lose the widespread support it had enjoyed in the West since it’s foundation in 1948.

So... where does all this leave Munich? Well, despite it's faults and liberties with the truth it's a joy to see a good film that poses serious questions about the morality and effectiveness of our Forever War (a.k.a the war on terror).

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Monday, January 23, 2006

The War Nerd vs V.D.H

The War Nerd has been quiet of late, but then I came across a review he wrote that was published last month.

The book reviewed is A War Like No Other, by the vile and discredited neo-con classical historian Victor Davis Hanson. Poor old Victor was well upset by the War Nerd's initial assualt upon him last year, and now he has to endure a full length review of his latest pretentious book.

Even I can see there is no comparison between the U.S invasion of Iraq in 2003 and the Peloponnesian War from 431 to 404 B.C. But here's the War Nerd on the subject:
Hanson is fairly clear on one thing: ancient Athens equals contemporary America. But even though he says this over and over, it never really makes sense. This is typical of Hanson’s work — the more often he says something, the more confusing and contradictory it becomes. He claims 9/11 was “our Peloponnesian War.” But it wasn’t: 9/11 didn’t trigger a lethal plague, didn’t kill a huge chunk of our population, didn’t cause the fall of our country, and didn’t involve naval war, sieges, pitched battle, or in fact any of the strategies of the Peloponnesian War. The only similarity I can see is that they were both bad scenes, man. Real bummers.

You need a lot of conceit to compare your country and culture to that of ancient Athens - Victor Davis Hansen has that conceit in spades. It's great to see this ridiculous man challenged and humiliated. Click here to read the entire review.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Iveta Benesova

Iveta ponders how to reply to roGER's cheeky e-mail while she plays Mary Pierce

This post is to celebrate the beautiful and lovely Iveta Benesova's victory over Mary Pierce in the Australian Open.

Congratulations, hun, and please don't be so shy about returning my calls and e-mails (oh and please keep the choicies and flowers). See you in Prague.

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Lou Reed

"Roil Sky" 2005
Lou Reed's simple music and sophisticated lyrics have provided the background 'noise' to much of my life.

Perhaps the most talented singer/song writer of the 1960s still alive and working, he's recently started to exhibit his photographs.

It shouldn't surprise me that this annoyingly talented man can (naturally) take a vivid photograph, but somehow it does...

Bastard!



Wednesday, January 18, 2006

10,000 picofarads of capacitance per meter

I’ve just been reading an anorack HiFi forum where they discuss the merits or otherwise of specialist power cords that (in some cases) cost hundreds of quid.

Anyway, at one point in the discussion someone posted the following:

To put a figure on it - about 10,000 picofarads of capacitance per meter

What a brilliant phrase that is! And what a beautiful sounding measurement is a Picofarad.

I’m so taken with it that I’m going to try and use it in our team meeting tomorrow afternoon. It’ll be part of an old but very enjoyable game where you try and drop pre-planned phrases into the discussion.

Here’s my phrases list for tomorrow’s meeting:

Getting in there’s going to be a right bastard (in honour and memory of Steve, a fellow Sweeny fan)

Never rode shotgun on a hearse before.

Sleeping with the teenager of my choice.

And now:

To put a figure on it - about 10,000 picofarads of capacitance per meter.


Gosh, I’m really looking forward to the meeting!

Another Crap Week


Justine Henin-Hardenne

It’s been a crap week so far, as I have got another fucking cold (third or fourth this winter!?!) and am sad that there are no more British players left in the Australian Open, the only Grand Slam tennis tournament I’ve never visited.

There is cable TV at a friends place though, and what it reveals is a far away exotic land of sunshine, good natured crowds, vivid bright colours and sublime tennis.

I wish I was there – the cold would clear up in no time and I might actually enjoy a day or two in January...

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Thursday, January 12, 2006

Fucked by the Pimp


"You're awfully square, Cookie! Pimps don't get you dates, they just take your money!"*


I suppose getting fucked by the pimp is an occupational hazard for anyone who has to employ a pimp. Sure enough, this morning I do a routine check on the rate-hike we agreed before Christmas only to find... the rate is exactly the same.

I call the pimp.

I e-mail the pimp.

The pimp gets back to me.

The pimp says "I'll look into it."

I don't ask what he's looking into.

The pimp gets back to me, and claims the revised contract is "in the post."

But it's too late for this month, and we'll have to work something out. I put the phone down and have a think.

I call back, and tell the pimp about my solution to the problem. The Pimp thinks its good, and agrees to it.

We end the telephone call amicably and wish each other a happy new year.

So there you have it. The pimp takes 30% of my money, and I do his thinking for him.

Shit. I am awfully square. Cookie.


* Bree Daniels (Jane Fonda) to John Klute (Donald Southerland) in the film Klute (1971). Script by Andy and Dave Lewis. Directed by Alan J Pakula.

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Monday, January 09, 2006

Roger Federer


Paul Bailey has written a nice piece on the world's best tennis player:

At the age of 24, Roger Federer has already won six grand-slam events (all in the past three years) and a further 27 titles on the men's tour. Even when he loses, as he did to Nadal in Paris, the struggle can be enthralling from virtually the first shot to the last. Even on his comparatively uninspired days, he is still an incomparable artist, usually in moments of crisis when he has to recharge himself. He has that rarest of gifts - the ability to produce a winner that is also beautiful to watch; and the capacity to enchant the crowd, even when the outcome seems a foregone conclusion, as in last year's Wimbledon final against Roddick, which he won so easily.

For the rest of the article, click here.

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A Grand Week-End In

A really great week-end!

Stayed up till 3:00-4:00AM three nights in a row, saw Becky and Steve (as entertaining as ever) on Sunday, had some wicked fun on the Internet, won a load of money playing poker, managed to wash and dry two loads of laundry and even took some bad snaps of Ipswich with the new digital camera.

These devices take some learning and so far I'm not very impressed with its sharpness or colour tone. Having said that, England in January doesn't have any sharpness or colour tone so perhaps it's accurate?

There was one painful downside to all this.

I got terrible cramp at around four this morning because I'd been so busy I'd forgotten to eat more than the occasional boiled sweet since Friday lunchtime. Something is very wrong with my appetite, but no change there...

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Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Becky Lives the Dream...

Rebecca (Becky) is one of my few remaining friends in Ipswich, and she's just started a blog.

This is great news, since lots of us have been pester pester pestering her to start one for ages.

Anyway, its called Beck Log (ho ho) but you'll find it listed here in the Friends Blogs section as Becky Lives the Dream.

Please take a look. If it's half as witty as Becky's everyday conversation it'll be well worth your time.

Reality

I don't make New Year resolutions, but always feel as if I ought to have some, if only to share with friends and colleagues.

But the influence is still there...

Proof?

Today I tidied my desk for the first time in three months, and recalibrated the horizontal bars on Microsoft Project, that notorious best seller that provides an almost comforting illusion of control, yes control to project managers and team leaders.

Almost comforting because like any other predictive analytic system, it is only as accurate as the data you feed it.

Most project managers and team leaders are aware of this handicap but consciously repress or ignore it.

And who are we to blame them?

The real world is a horrible place, so best avoid actively looking for it.

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Sunday, January 01, 2006

New Year

Happy New Year, everyone.

There's been a minor reorganisation of the blog, with Jules and Phil dropped from the first team because they weren't making any posts... However, you can still see Jules' photographs. The Marshal's place is also under threat, but I'll keep his link for another month or two yet...

Taking their place is friend and ex-colleague Dave, who is one of those annoyingly talented people that can paint, climb, speak and read Russian, has a doctorate in physics, is widely read, knows a lot of history, enjoys cinema, and yet remains quiet and modest.

Imagine my ego bolstered by even half those achievements.... Actually, please don't.

Anyway, to read Dave's blog, click on the Dave's Meadows link, which is also listed in the Friend's Blogs section.

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