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Rarely has reality needed so much to be imagined. --Chris Marker
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Saturday, February 05, 2005

Some new film links in left column

10:43 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Catholic child abuse chapter 4335

New child abuse scandal implicates founder of the Legion of Christ, second only to Opus Dei in Papal influence
"This is a very delicate case," says José Luis González, a Mexico-based expert on the Catholic hierarchy. "None of the other scandals has involved someone so close to the Pope."

Maciel, now 84, formed the ultra-conservative Legion of Christ in Mexico in 1941 in the wake of religious wars that pitted Catholics against the anti-clerical revolutionary regime and ended with an uneasy mutual tolerance. The order grew quickly, fed by deeply religious families happy to put their boys under the protection of its charismatic young leader. The recruits, too, were enthused by the prospect of a life fighting for God.

"At the time the idea of missionaries conjured up images of hunters and explorers and it sounded adventurous to us boys," recalled Barba, who was 12 when he joined the Legion in 1949. "We were told we were going to save the world from the communists, and that gave us a sense of importance."

Maciel picked out his favourite pupils and took them to study, first in Franco's Spain and then in Rome. They lived in tightly controlled isolation, instilled with the belief that their leader was the epitome of holiness. But at the same time as preaching the strictest moral code for others, Maciel allegedly indulged an addiction to morphine and a warped sexuality.

10:00 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Face cancer has cut Tasmanian devil population by half, with no cure in sight

9:52 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Fun with Music Gangsters file

Music Industry Sues 83-Year-Old Dead Woman
"Our evidence gathering and our subsequent legal actions all were initiated weeks and even months ago," said RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy. "We will now, of course, obviously dismiss this case."

10:12 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Must-read on neo-con "reality"

Perhaps the best explanation I've seen of the post-9/11 American world-view/psychosis promulgated by the Fear Lords: xymphora's post referencing a David Suskind article from last fall and an old article by Robert Anton Wilson called "Creative Agnosticism"

xymphora sums up:
We can perhaps see why so many otherwise sensible middle-aged American men - Christopher Hitchens comes to mind - were driven mad with revenge fantasies in the wake of 9-11. The inability of some to see the possibility that the United States had it coming - an issue raised again in the current imbroglio over Ward Churchill, which is a repeat of similar nonsense concerning Chomsky, Rall, and Sontag - is just another part of shirking responsibility. Americans edit reality to create a 'Real' Universe where the United States has never done anything wrong, and thus whatever terrorists do must be baseless evil which merits the most violent response posssible. The good news is that the constant self-editing of the realities of the world mean that the neocons will eventually fail spectacularly...
If your read nothing else about the state of America now, read this post and these 2 articles.

9:45 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Friday, February 04, 2005

Gangsters run the energy industry file

New evidence Enron "deliberately aggravat[ed] California's crippling 2001 blackouts with the aim of raising prices"

8:35 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Rumors of the discovery of an ancient mercury plasma engine in Kashmir (scroll to "The India-China UFO Story"), which people like Peter Thomson think was the site of a nuclear war between 2 civilizations around 11,000 years ago

8:30 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

The passing of two honorable men

R.I.P. Ossie Davis ("a giant of the stage, screen and the civil rights movement") and Max Schmeling, who knocked out Joe Louis in '36 and was beaten by him in '38, was kicked out of Germany when he refused to be a Nazi mouthpiece, and later became a friend of Louis's

Schmeling would've been 100 in September.

8:09 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Fashion ad inspired by The Da Vinci Code, parodying Da Vinci's Last Supper banned by Milan authorities

10:57 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

I didn't remember that absinthe was invented by the Swiss: it's about to become legal again there after a hundred year ban

8:53 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

The day before yesterday, tomorrow

50-50 chance the Gulf Stream will stop, freezing Britain; while the rapid desertification of Africa will no doubt accelerate

9:32 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Couple movies Jeff Bridges stars in this year (or so) sound good: The Moguls & Tideland, the next Terry Gilliam project after The Brothers Grimm, I suppose [Jeff Bridges' website]

8:16 PM - [Link] - Comments ()

Traditional Chinese musicians -- their work overshadowed by Westernized pop forms in thier own country -- seek an audience in the subway stations and parks and community centers of New York [NYT registration info at left]

11:23 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

The road to a new Constitutional Convention

An article I noted when I couldn't post last summer: Alan Wolfe on bloggers as the new pamphleteers [NYT registration info in left column, down a bit]
Whether or not you can tell a book by its cover, you can generally tell a country by its books. If most political books are any indication, the way we argue now has been shaped by cable news and Weblogs; it's all "gotcha" commentary and attributions of bad faith. No emotion can be too angry and no exaggeration too incredible.

Yet if the technologies used by bloggers and hardballers are new, the form is older than the Republic. While they appear as books -- and are staples of the best-seller lists -- today's give-no-quarter attacks, as George Packer noted recently of bloggers, have their origins in the pamphlets of the colonial era. "Whatever the gravity of their themes or the spaciousness of their contents," Bernard Bailyn has written of these 18th-century op-ed articles, "they were always essentially polemical." Long before deconstruction, we were fond of a hermeneutics of suspicion. We had partisanship even before we had parties. Our framers warned against the dangers of faction because we so rarely stood together. If you prefer your invective unseasoned by decorum, check out what the anti-Federalists had to say about the Constitution or how the Whigs treated "King Andrew" Jackson.

Judge our contemporary culture warriors by the standards of books, and they disappoint: logic, evidence and reason are conspicuously absent. Judge them by the standards of pamphleteering, and they may be doing democracy a favor, reminding our apathetic public why politics matters. Let me, then, apply the pamphlet standard to a slew of recently published volumes in which liberals and conservatives have at each other. Pamphleteering flourishes because in both publishing and politics, established elites and institutions are no longer able to ensure consensus and insist on moderation.

11:17 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

The whole Hollywood vs Foreign Films debate is causing a cultrual identity crisis in France
It's three years since Jean-Pierre Jeunet overturned our idea of what a French film could - or should - be with Amélie. A Parisian fairy tale starring uber-waif Audrey Tautou, it took £40m in America. Only the French critics were unimpressed, declaring Amélie 'sugary' and 'unrealistic' (there were no black faces on the streets, for example).

Libération called it a 'commercial' for the far right. A little unfair, perhaps. In many ways Jeunet is the French Richard Curtis. Where Curtis sells us a fantasy England of red buses and comedy toffs, Jeunet offers us young women cracking crème brûlée and comic postmen. The success of The Chorus and Amélie represents a nostalgia for a vanished France of supposedly simpler values, according to Paul Ryan of London's Ciné Lumière: 'We're living in a world dominated by terror, fictitious and otherwise, and people want to cheer themselves up. They don't want too much reality in their cinema.' Ryan thinks we are seeing a revolt against the miserabilist tradition dubbed filles perdues, cheveux gras ('lost girls with greasy hair'): 'Over the past 15 years, France has been giving a platform to the minorities in its culture, the third-wave of immigration that came in from the former colonies, so you get Algerian, Tunisian and Moroccan cinema. A lot of the films are set on housing projects; some are downbeat because the life they're reflecting is downbeat; others are very optimistic and rich. So there's a renaissance of social realism in the mould of Ken Loach. And directors like Jeunet, who are of the imaginative, entertainment school, are turning away from this overly realistic strand.'

Although Jeunet's films are the antithesis of grungy arthouse, they embody 'Frenchness' in a very different way from the idyllic rural portraits of Jean de Florette and Manon des Sources. He combines fantastical storytelling with state-of-the-art CGI. 'Cinema since the New Wave always seems to be about a couple fighting in the kitchen,' he says. 'I prefer to write positive stories.' His new film, A Very Long Engagement, the second highest-grossing French film of 2004, nominated for two Oscars, is part First World War love story, part detective story, part quirky MTV video. It has opened to mostly glowing reviews, but Jeunet is facing accusations that he hasn't made a French film. Although it was filmed in French and on location in France, the bulk of its £32m budget was provided by Warners's French subsidiary. So it was ruled ineligible for state subsidy or French film festivals.

1:05 AM - [Link] - Comments ()

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