People getting kidnapped (via Loretta Napoleoni)

I’m currently reading Loretta Napoleoni‘s fine book named “Merchants of Men: How Jihadists and ISIS Turned Kidnapping and Refugee Trafficking into a Multi-Billion Dollar Business“, where quite a bit is dedicated to what is – frankly – the sheer idiocy of people who get kidnapped due to their knowing next to nothing about what they’re about to do. I’ll let Napoleoni do the talking, from the book:

Kevin Dawes’s Libyan experience came to an abrupt end as he decided to leave his katiba but not the Jihadist environment. In October of 2012 he travelled to Syria and was kidnapped by supporters of the Assad regime. It is unclear why he went to Syria; he claimed that he wanted to rescue Austin Tice, an American freelance journalist who disappeared in Syria in August 2012 and was previously a US marine, though Dawes also claimed to be a photojournalist and a doctor on his way to help people in Syria. In addition, people who had met him claim that he was suffering from severe mental health problems including delusions and paranoia. The story of his liberation in April 2016 is so engulfed in secrecy that some people have even thought that Dawes could have been a US spy. This seems very unlikely. In spring 2012 he unsuccessfully tried to raise money through a Kickstarter campaign called Aerial Battlefield Photojournalism. This project was intended to provide a unique view of the war in Syria via an aerial camera drone. The goal of the project was to raise $28,000. However, Dawes was only able to get thirty dollars pledged. So he decided to go to Syria and report from the front line of the war himself.

And that’s how you can get kidnapped. Yah.

On Bowe Bergdahl, the guy who season two of the super-popular podcast “Serial” was all about:

Bergdahl’s story begs several questions: What was a twenty-three-year-old soldier doing alone in the middle of the Afghan desert? How did he get there? And why was he unarmed in a region infested by the Taliban? After his liberation, Bergdahl did not speak to the media, and US authorities did not release any information. Very little was known about the precious hours before his abduction. Privately, however, Bergdahl disclosed the events that led to his captivity to Mark Boal, the screenwriter of The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty. Boal approached Bergdahl because he wanted to make a movie of his story. Some of the recorded conversations between them, a total of about twenty-five hours, were used by the popular podcast Serial in its second series. The podcast reveals some interesting and disconcerting aspects of Bergdahl’s abduction. For example, the kidnapping appears to have been the direct result of a twenty-three-year-old soldier who believed that he could prove to the world and to himself that he was a real-life Jason Bourne, the fictional hero of the Bourne film trilogy based on the Robert Ludlum novels. For a start, Bowe Bergdahl admitted to Mark Boal that he had staged his own disappearance. His plan was to walk from his base at Mest to the other, much bigger US military post at Sharana. Sharana is about twenty miles southwest of Mest. Bergdahl thought he could reach it in about twenty-four hours, a rather optimistic forecast. The route is long and difficult, especially in the summer heat, traversing the desert. It is also quite risky. The area is under Taliban control and people travel back and forth regularly. Someone was bound to see Bergdahl, approach him, and discover that he was not a Pashtun but an American. But Bergdahl did not consider these likely outcomes. For him, it was sufficient to be physically fit for the trek, and he was confident that wearing civilian clothes would be a perfect disguise.

On the night of June 29, 2009, Bergdahl snuck out of the camp and began his trek towards Sharana. Just like Jason Bourne, Bowe Bergdahl acted alone. During the previous days he had sent home most of his possessions to prevent anybody from checking them, and he had withdrawn $300 in cash from his account, money he thought he might need during the trek. He had taken a compass and a knife with him, but he had left behind his night vision goggles, his weapons, and his radio. When he reached the desert, he suddenly realized what he had done. The magnitude, and perhaps the stupidity, of his plan hit him. Unlike the hero of the Bourne movie series, Bergdahl panicked. Though he wanted to go back, he judged it too risky to do so at nighttime. The sentinels would have shot at him not knowing who he was. But above all, he was concerned about what would happen to him once his superiors realized that he had left his platoon without permission. To the army, he was already a deserter.

Listening to Bowe Bergdahl, one cannot help but think how naïve his plan was and how delusional the sergeant was about his “mission.” He admitted to Boal that he wanted to prove to himself and to the world that he was a super soldier, someone like Jason Bourne, an imaginary character who singlehandedly could expose a major weakness of the military system. Instead, he behaved stupidly, and was kidnapped and held hostage for almost five years. DUSTWUN triggered a massive search that cost the American taxpayer millions of dollars.

Even though I can absolutely sympathise with testing one’s own environment, so to speak, I think Bergdahl managed to pull off some really stupid shit.

“It’s easy to feel invincible, even with death all around,” Steven Sotloff, also kidnapped and beheaded by the Islamic State, wrote to the Middle East editor for Newsweek. “It’s like, ‘This is my movie, sucker—I’m not gonna die.’” However, this feeling of invincibility is exactly the behavior that gets one kidnapped and killed.

Even though their deaths are not funny at all, it’s just a display of what utter folly leads to.

In the trailer for the HBO documentary about James Foley, Jim: The James Foley Story, people like Sotloff, Ottosen, and Foley are presented as journalist-martyrs. The message is that without them we would not know the horrors of the Syrian Civil War. But this is not completely correct. We celebrate them not because they showed us the tragedy of Syria but because they were kidnapped and, in the case of Sotloff and Foley, beheaded by the Islamic State. The proof is that the public did not know who they were before their abduction, as their articles did not appear on the front pages of any distinguished newspapers. Likewise, today the public is still unaware of the names of the freelancers who are reporting on the Syrian conflict, or even most of the names of abducted journalists who remain in captivity!

The disturbing news that made us aware of the existence of people like Sotloff, Ottosen, and Foley wasn’t the news that they reported, but the news of their abductions and their deaths. Professional journalists understand this. Marc Marginedas, also held hostage by ISIS, said that he did not want to discuss his abduction because he is not the news; the news is what is happening in Syria. Nicolas Hénin, another journalist and hostage held captive by the Islamic State, warned readers of his book, Jihad Academy, that he did not write about his captivity, of his interaction with “The Beatles”—the British-born jailers of the foreign hostages held by the Islamic State—and his fellow hostages, but about what is happening in Syria and the Middle East, because even while held hostage he did not stop being a journalist.

In the account of his capture published in the New York Times,206 Padnos admits to having fallen into a trap because he was very naïve about the jihadists, the insurgency, and the Syrian conflict. Reading the article, one has the feeling that, though he was knowledgeable about the history and culture of Islam and he spoke Arabic fluently, he did not understand the complex politics of the region nor the shifting alliances and loyalties of the Syrian war by proxy. Unlike many other kidnapped journalists, Theo Padnos was lucky. His kidnappers were from al Nusra and not from the Islamic State: they wanted money, not his head. He was also lucky because Dave Bradley, a Washington, D.C. entrepreneur who owns the media company that publishes The Atlantic, got personally involved in the release of the American hostages held in Syria.

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Movies I've watched recently:

  • Medicinen (2014) - IMDb 1/10

    2016-12-12 19:00

    A car crash where your newborn child dies would be a less hurtful experience than watching this film. I'm kidding, but there is some truth lodged in that statement. This film is very "inspired" by "The Devil Wears Prada". By this I mean Nutley and his writer cohorts have concocted a story about an abhorrent person - played by Bergström, despite many doubts on my site as to what "playing" could be, according to herself - who starts ingesting a medicine that seems to change her life. Naturally, this medicine is a sugar pill. The medicine is also the only thing which is sweet about this film. The script is so poorly written that any, and I repeat, _any_ breathing thing - or dead - could easily excrete something which would improve and best this depressing piece of scatological experience, which all should avoid at all costs. Actually, I could go on forever about how bad everything from the direction to casting, acting, the soundtrack and segues are, but I will not. I refuse to. This is on par with Nutley-Bergström's "Angel", which also marked a new milestone in the string of eulogies to Swedish cinema that seems to be their goal. I'm angry to know the couple seem to use films as an excuse to a) go abroad and senselessly film scenes that have none or very little function for a film and b) have Bergström cry and copulate. Don't see this, even for "fun", which was why I saw it. I will never, ever see this film again, and I hope Bergström-Nutley never, ever make another film, write one nor act in one for the sake of humanity.

  • Yakuza Apocalypse (2015) - IMDb 4/10

    2016-11-26 17:10
    * * * *

    This film stretches beyond a regular action film and even really dips into the true meaning of the word apocalypse, but that's the most positive thing about it. Miike has been taking some major leads from Shakespeare, considering he lived a few hundred years ago, this film is truly not very original. Having said that, it's missing in atmosphere. It doesn't pace well and lost me a bit after 30 minutes and did not win the loss back. Having been Shakespearian before that, this film segues into being laughable and filled with fight (as most films by Miike are). Not recommendable to anyone who doesn't want to dabble in martial arts action-cum-half-assed weird dreaming, having fallen asleep with "Macbeth" on your face.

  • Bridget Jones's Baby (2016) - IMDb 1/10

    2016-11-20 21:22

    David Foster Wallace once used the term "hellaciously unfunny" about something, which is a term clearly applicable for this clownboat. Not only is this a film that overflows with prejudice and crap, be it sexistic, nationalistic or racistic, but it's completely barren where jokes should be. I liked the first film. I didn't like the second film, but this one I really loathe. It shouldn't have been made.

  • I Am Not a Serial Killer (2016) - IMDb 4/10

    2016-08-29 09:24
    * * * *

    This film is succinctly different from most others that are about serial killers in the sense that it's using silence and music well. Apart from that, this is a b-movie in several ways: apart from the two main actors, there's not much to use. The plot is quite simple, but at times I - a serial killer fan, so to speak - drifted away because the film didn't entice me more; the flow of the film feels contrived, making me feeling something that's very different to what often comes naturally when seeing works of directors such as Terrence Malick, Woody Allen and Richard Linklater. Also, the name-dropping of serial killers and such is more effect-seeking than anything else, more about trying to spook the viewer than create solid characters. Still, as a low-budget film, it works in creating a kind of solemn street-life atmosphere, the kind that came natural to director John Cassavetes, that very few high-budget films have. All in all this is not a particularly well-made film, but it's memorable.

  • Leap Year (2010) - IMDb 1/10

    2016-07-31 21:32

    Complete. Waste. Of. Life.


Morrissey, Huey Newton and more manliness

He’s just posted the above montage of Huey Newton with Moz’s latest album. That’s partly why you should love him…even though he makes it hard with idiotic statements like “Farage is a great educator”.

Huey Newton was one of the greater Black Panthers. He, unlike Fred Hampton (who was assassinated by the FBI and Chicago police), was more of a fighter than a thinker, even though he had some massive ideas. If you want more on what the Black Panthers brought to their communities, like free education, free daycare and democracy, check out the newish documentary named “Vanguards of The Revolution”.

Also: this morning Mia noted that our letterbox was completely askew. A couple of screws had fallen out from the plate that attached to the door, so I jammed it straight and fastened the screws.

I never thought I’d say anything like the above; I almost felt like fucking John Wayne when writing it. HA! Seriously, though, I didn’t think I’d make it work but it did. Suddenly my self-confidence is renewed where it comes to home repairs.

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Being a man (not): mending a lamp, cooking food

I’ve dipped my hands into being a big man.

Yesterday a huge chunk of the family came by – which was very, very nice – and as a couple of them deal with high-voltage electricity, they thought they could repair my the lamp that my mother’s mother once made. To say it’s been brittle for the past, oh, ten years would be one of the understatements of the year; if breathed upon too hard, the lampshade would have fallen off. It literally would. The…electrical parts1 of the lamp would have come straight off the rest of the thing, of one’d given it an accidental nod.

The relatives pulled bits and bobs off the lamp, looked, prodded, thought aloud and then I found out I’d received an MMS of what I needed to buy to make it work again. While quite sure that said relatives knew what they were talking about, we’d been left with a figment of a lamp. Wire stuck out the top and the lampshade was on the ground. I was mostly worried about electrocuting Mia and Blixa, if they’d be nearby when I’d start messing about.

Thankfully, for her sake, Mia’s wasn’t around when I started mending it. Actually, it was a lot easier than I thought it would. The old bits of electrical stuff, metal and wire, fell off quite easily as I started out. Yes I fucking unplugged the lamp first – thank you. Then simply spent 5 minutes wondering about two round, weird pieces that finally stuck together in a completely different way than they ended up the first three times, but I won’t cloud your judgement of my manliness with that, and just leave you with the image of myself looking like Rambo meshed with Arnold circa “Commando in your head as I made it all work.

Mia’s mom gave me a cookbook yesterday, so I made something from it this evening. A cannelini bean cream with oven-baked vegetables. Extremely simple cooking. Still enough to make me happy I’ve made it, considering there’s no decent restaurant near my work place for miles – but that’s all really changing, as myself and a bunch of colleagues are moving to new quarters in Solna Business Park! They’ve already moved. I’m in the old digs for a few more days as I’m attending a workshop. Can’t let go of the idea of “Solna Business Park”. It’s such an un-Swedish name for a place, and yes, I’m not translating the real name, it’s actually named just that. I’d love to have been present during the brainstorm meetings for that name. “Solna Business Park. We’re going to…do some business there. And business-oriented people are going to come there. And do more business, that will accumulate into more money and more business. Nothing else.”

Thinking of manliness, or at least some people discussing the concept of manliness (whatever the fuck that is), I heard a man named Édouard Louis talking about his autobiography today on this episode of “Start The Week”, a BBC podcast than can be fascinating and enthralling every eight time it’s broadcast. Louis immediately launched into how he was raised to be a man, from when he was tiny, and how being effeminate was severely dealt with. Not anything new, just interesting.

That start looks interesting but I think I’ll wait with starting to read that book until I feel happier. Kind of reminds me of what I do with our Ingmar Bergman films: we’ve got a whole bunch of them stashed away, really nice DVD editions, never seen, simply because I feel I want to be in the mood for them. I never say “Ooh, now’s the time for a really heavy Bergman film!” I’ve watched more hours of The Real Housewives of X than I’ve seen Bergman flicks, which may be for the better.

Speaking of which, the current book I’m reading – which is about how extreme religious groups use kidnapping to fund their existence – is gonna be the last non-fiction book I want to read for a while. I mean, I’ve read so much hardcore stuff for the past year it’s turning me pale to even think of it. I mean, books on stuff like the global arms trade and what that means, how the CIA has orchestrated the global heroin trade system, et cetera, and on and on. Nah, nah, I’m gonna get into some fictional shit for a while now. If you’ve got tips, please send anything my way.

I’ll go listen to Psyket right now.

I haven’t written a blog post that’s free-flowing from my head in so long, it’s just strange. I even come to wonder how I used to blog, before this site turned into some kind of media and link collection. Fuck it. I’ve not felt like writing personally, so to speak, in a long time. It’d have been even worse if I had written something here every day even if I wouldn’t have wanted to. I wonder if anybody even reads this, and I’m not looking for a response to that.

  1. I’m not a fucking lamp technician, I’ve no idea what the innards of a lamp are called.[back]
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My saved links (weekly)

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

Glenn Gould was the fucking bomb

Glenn Gould was a real mothaphukkin’ G.

He played the piano masterfully. Check him playing the shit out of this part of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, BWV 988:

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Check out “Genius Within”, a brilliant documentary on Gould:

Go to 13:10 in that film and see his former friend and co-trainee showing the “detached finger technique” that Alberto Guerrero taught Gould and his students.

Gould was God.

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