My saved links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Movies I've watched recently:

  • Love & Mercy (2014) - IMDb 8/10

    2015-10-08 21:35
    * * * * * * * *

    This is a divided drama, mainly about the adult life of Brian Wilson, the artistic leader of The Beach Boys, the trip through their magnum opus - "Pet Sounds" - while Brian was dealing with his brothers, the band and his superimposing father, constantly trying to overshadow Brian, as well as displaying him in the modern world, a victim to his legal guardian, while meeting love. It's a carefully threaded history, made with love and meticulous acting. It's as though the director and the actors were paying homage to Brian's legacy while making this film. Beauty is around. And it's not patronising, overblown or too much. If anything, it's kind. And human, open to what can happen to people.

  • Night Will Fall (2014) - IMDb 8/10

    2015-10-07 07:59
    * * * * * * * *

    Although this film could be edited better, it is a true shock as it contains video from the concentration camps of World War II. Human bodies are shown shoveled like dirt, and survivors and allies who were in the camps are interviewed, telling what it felt like to "clean up", both during and after the war. It's a harrowing tale, that concentrates on the feelings of the people who made the films, and how they came about. All in all, yet another must-see on the Holocaust.

  • Svenskjävel (2014) - IMDb 2/10

    2015-10-04 19:43
    * *

    The best two bits about this film: a) it's not trying too hard and b) it shows ultra-privileged Sweden what being an underdog is like, by displaying a poor Swedish person working for a Norwegian family. What's worse, is she gets romantically tangled with the father of the family. The daughter of the family seems to have an eating disorder. Everything is very expensive for a Swede living in Norway. There's a shot of the Swede stating that Swedes view Norwegians as "our retarded cousin who's won the lotto" which is funny. Otherwise, there's sadly not much to this film. I wish there were.

  • Terminator Genisys (2015) - IMDb 1/10

    2015-10-03 14:37

    If I were to make a film that would attempt to negate the first two Terminator films, this would be it. It's a bit like this. Personally, I think this is a kind of view of Arnie's time as governor, going back in time to that of Reagan, sending California into despair. In this film, however, he...I don't know what he does. I've managed to forget. Thank Bog. Don't see this, or your future and past is, to some extent, forever lost.

  • The Reflektor Tapes (2015) - IMDb 3/10

    2015-09-25 20:29
    * * *

    This is a really fragmented, non-chronological documentary where there are sketches of beauty thrown in between muddled attempts to follow a band that is in search of the sound for what turned out to become their album, "Reflektor". This is not a complete attempt, and it is, at times, very annoying, but at its best, where the live shows are concerned, it's good. But it's very forgettable. It doesn't really show the band in-depth.


Everything French

The Swedish media is hoot about France, suddenly. As people have died. White people have died. Nobody cares about the DRC, where approximately still 45000 people are killed per month. Per month.

Naturally, the horrendous attacks in Paris are just that: horrendous.

Did flags change colours when thousands of Romani people were expunged from France? (No.)

When talking about this at work today, one person said this France-loving deference is explained through reasons geographic: France is closer to Sweden than to countries in Africa, which would explain why we care more about one than the other, regardless of the number of killed persons, or how often atrocities in countries in Africa are committed. How about the 11th of September, 2001, then? Everybody in Sweden remembers that. Which happened in the USA, which is quite some distance away. Nobody remembers the dates between which the NATO-controlled bomb-run of Serbia happened, which that far in history was the longest bombing run ever. By the way, when did we last paint everything flag in salute of Denmark? Or Finland?

Another person told me this behaviour happens re. France, because “those international killings happen every day“. So, if it’s more of a once-upon-a-time occurrence, it’s OK. It’s fair game for the media, and people. Paint the walls the colours of that flag. I wish it were true. Not really.

I just wanna lay down on the floor and say “but we’re the terrorists” over and over.

No tears for Palestine, victim of the greatest apartheid since South Africa. None for Indonesia, for Nicaragua, for Chile.

The Swedish news media display their logos in red, blue and white until the so-named “temporary logo” goes away, that is, until the next western-hit chaos is brought to our tables, preferably by IS or another non-western band of outsiders that can easily be labeled the biggest threat to humanity, society, in other words, to the plutocracy.

And we lament. Through facebook likes and instagram re-posts, and twitter rehashes until the cows come home, but remember that in ten years and ask yourself why you never, ever questioned the status quo, or asked yourself why we care less when tanks kill Palestinians or tens of thousands are killed every week in the Congo, and we frankly didn’t care. Or will we care? Fuck knows.

Inaction speaks louder than words. I believe that. And yes, even the logo of my online music player is painted in the colours red, blue and white. Fuck me. Fuck me. The attacks in France are horrendous, and our actions sicken me more.

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My saved links (weekly)

Posted from Diigo. The rest of my favorite links are here.

Steve Coogan on patriotism/nationalism


The below is from Steve Coogan‘s autobiography, “Easily Distracted“. I love the “I was appalled that he was appalled” bit, and it’s indicative not only of “Downton Abbey”, but of people in Sweden as well; we only keep our monarchy around because we are insane, correct? To paraphrase Russell Brand, if we were to start over society again, the risk that we’d install a person on a THRONE while wearing a JEWEL-ENCRUSTED CROWN, give them MONEY FOR NOTHING, and simultaneously decry poverty—it just wouldn’t happen.

Patriotism is hugely overrated, but sometimes it goes too far the other way and you’re not even allowed to make observations of national characteristics. I love Britain. I love my country in a way that’s not nationalistic or blindly patriotic. The Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games blew me away because everything I love about Britain was there on the screen in front of me. History, the NHS, music, cinema. It celebrated the culture of dissent and embraced the eccentric. It was the first time I consciously thought, ‘Oh yeah, this is my country too.’ I wrote a long letter to Danny Boyle and writer Frank Cottrell Boyce admiring their work; they wrested the flag from blind nationalism and effectively gave us a licence to be patriotic.

Celebrating certain national characteristics has for too long been the preserve of racists, but it really depends on what you’re celebrating. Self-effacement is one of the best things about Britain.

We are very clear about certain things that differentiate us from the Americans: we don’t admire people just because they’ve got money. In America, as long as you’ve got money it doesn’t matter where you’re from. It’s a very Thatcherite stance. At the same time, the old Tory class system in Britain means there is very little social mobility. So you are judged on your character. I’m not a huge fan of period dramas that celebrate the old class system.

Julian Fellowes is the epitome of Middle England values and of that selective revisionism that some people have about our culture and history. Downton Abbey is at best a simplistic fiction of a golden past and at worst a total distortion of facts. It’s the kind of period drama that Alan Partridge would write. I bumped into Julian Fellowes in 2013 and he was aghast that the BBC news had devoted time to discussing Hilary Mantel’s follow-up to Wolf Hall and only two minutes on the baptism of our future king. I was appalled that he was appalled.

I’m fascinated by British attitudes to certain things. We can be very negative, which, at its best, means we’re not easily impressed. And certainly not by money. At its worst it can descend into a debilitating cynicism. In England people judge the fact that I like classic cars; I must be a wanker because I occasionally drive a bright yellow Lotus that makes me feel like James Bond. If the sun shone all the time, we might well be less repressed, less uptight. But we wouldn’t be as funny. When I was growing up, mocking people with humour was a very roundabout but sophisticated way of saying ‘I love you’. It’s a peculiarly British sign of affection.

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Believing, being overwhelmed with evidence of the contrary and…


From Matthew Syed‘s new book “Black Box Thinking: Why Most People Never Learn From Their Mistakes–But Some Do“, the following piece tells us of how “being certain” is one thing, and how overwhelming evidence of the contrary often ends up cementing the home truth, i.e. that one’s been wrong from the start. Almost like how doomsday cult followers become even more fervent in their belief even after the doomsday date has passed.

BTW, here‘s a very good episode of “Start The Week”, a BBC radio show where Syed talks about his book. On to the quoted section:

On March 20, 1987, a young girl was attacked in her home in Billings, Montana. The Innocence Project, the nonprofit organization set up by two New York lawyers, Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld, to help prisoners obtain DNA tests, describes the crime as follows: The young girl was attacked by an intruder who had broken in through a window. She was raped . . . The perpetrator fled after stealing a purse and jacket. The victim was examined the same day. Police collected her underwear and the bed sheets upon which the crime was committed. Semen was identified on the underwear and several hairs were collected from the bed sheets. The police produced a composite sketch of the intruder based upon the description given by the victim and this led an officer to interview Jimmy Ray Bromgard, an eighteen-year-old who lived in the area and who resembled the sketch. Bromgard eventually agreed to participate in a line-up. He was picked out by the victim, but not with any real confidence. She said she was “60, 65 percent sure.”

When the case came to trial, most of the prosecution case was based on forensic evidence related to hair found at the crime scene. This evidence (it was later established) was largely concocted by the “expert” called by the prosecution. There were no fingerprints, and no physical evidence beyond the flawed hair testimony. Bromgard, who said he was at home asleep at the time of the crime, was found guilty and sentenced to forty years in prison. The Innocence Project took up the case in 2000. A DNA test excluded Bromgard as the source of the semen found the victim’s underwear. This represented powerful evidence that he was not the perpetrator. “The original case was flimsy and the new evidence invalidated the conviction,” Barry Scheck told me. “The prosecutors could have dropped the case. They could have put their hands up and admitted they got the wrong man. But they didn’t.”

Or perhaps they just couldn’t. Michael McGrath, the state prosecutor, responded to the new evidence by coming up with an interpretation that, in many ways, is even more novel than the explanation given by the cult for the failure of the Keech prophecy. As Kathryn Schulz explains in her excellent book Being Wrong, McGrath claimed that Bromgard might be a “chimera.” This is where a single person has two different blood types due to the death of a twin in the womb. It has only been reported around thirty times in history. It represented a reframing of the evidence of a quite breathtaking kind. Sadly, for McGrath at least, further testing proved that Bromgard was not a chimera, but the prosecutor wasn’t finished yet. When Bromgard sued the state of Montana for wrongful conviction, Peter Neufeld from the Innocence Project came face-to-face with McGrath during the deposition. McGrath was still adamant that Bromgard was the prime suspect. Nothing seemed to prize him from that belief: no amount of persuasion, no amount of testimony, no amount of evidence. Neufeld questioned him on what had become, by this stage, an unshakable belief. If Bromgard is guilty, Neufeld asked, how could McGrath explain the presence of semen from a different man in the victim?

Kathryn Schulz quotes from the transcript of the exchange:

McGrath: The semen could have come from multiple different sources.

Neufeld: Why don’t you tell me what those multiple sources are?

McGrath: It’s potentially possible that [the victim] was sexually active with somebody else. (The victim was 8 years old.)

McGrath: It’s possible that her sister was sexually active with somebody else. (Her sister was 11 at the time.)

McGrath: It’s possible that a third person could have been in the room. It’s possible. It’s possible that the father could have left that stain in a myriad of different ways.

Neufeld: What other different ways?

McGrath: He could have masturbated in that room in those underwear . . . The father and mother could have had sex in that room in that bed, or somehow transferred a stain to those underwear . . . [The father] could have had a wet dream; could have been sleeping in that bed; he could have had an incestual relationship with one of the daughters.

The transcript runs on for another 249 pages of similar outlandish claims. “So we have four possibilities,” Schulz writes. “The eight-year-old was sexually active; her eleven-year-old sister was sexually active while wearing her sister’s underpants; a third party was in the room (even though the victim had testified to a single intruder); or the father had deposited the semen in one perverse way or another.” There was, of course, a fifth possibility, but it required McGrath to accept the evidence for what it was, rather than what he wanted it to be. Bromgard was innocent. The state of Montana eventually paid Bromgard $3.5 million in damages. And McGrath failed in his attempt to ban publication of the exchange with Neufeld.

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