The Dim-Post

May 31, 2008

Hoodie Day Revisited: Da Gift Dat Keepz on Giving

Filed under: general idiocy — danylmc @ 4:30 pm

By now you’ve heard about Dale Evans (pictured above), the Kapiti Community Board councillor who wore a Klu Klux Klan outfit to his monthly community board meeting to critic ‘hoodie day’ and draw attention to issues surrounding Kapiti region bore water (obviously).

But you might not have heard Mr Evans comments in the Dominion-Post follow-up article this morning which doesn’t appear to be online:

‘The KKK-style outfit was never meant to create any racial disharmony – many of my friends are coloured.’

Yup – some of they Nigra fella’s are right decent folk . . . and our maid Ellie-May is practically part of the family!

Mr Evans gaffe instantly brings to mind this gem:

My dad, for example, he’s not as cosmopolitan or as educated as me and it can be embarrasing you know. He doesn’t understand all the new trendy words – like he’ll say “poofs” instead of “gays”, “birds” instead of “women” . . . “darkies” instead of “coloureds”.

More on Groupthink

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 3:15 pm
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The Economist’s Democracy in America blog has an interesting article on tribal responses to poll results in the US. If a self-identified member of the Republican Party is questioned about, say, ‘the Republican Policy on Iraq’ then the respondent will usually agree with the policy. If, however, they are simply told the policy without it being linked to their party and asked if they agree or disagree they are far more likely to disagree.

The phenomenon can also be observed in self-identified Democrats but appears to be far more prevalent in the GOP faithful.

You can, however, see a Democratic variant of this – there have been numerous polls showing that significant numbers of Clinton/Obama supporters will not vote for their nominees adversary in the Presidential election and will instead cast their vote for John McCain.

This is pretty staggering when you consider that Obama and Clinton have virtually identical policies (like getting out of Iraq right away) while a McCain government will be very different (stay 100 years).

This is also pretty widespread on the NZ blogosphere – I always enjoy seeing apologists for the major parties defending their political masters when they make policy announcements that are wildly out of step with the parties ideology – John Key’s $1.5 billion in funding for a national broadband infrastructure being a prime example.

On the Road

Filed under: books,movies — danylmc @ 7:01 am

A slightly loathsome New York Times article on the set of the film adaptation of The Road by Cormac McCarthy (author of No Country for Old Men).

I guess I’m a little shocked that the project got greenlit – the book is pretty damn bleak. At least I can rest easy knowing my favorite McCarthy novel – Blood Meridian – will never wind up on the big screen:

(more…)

May 30, 2008

Why did Al Qaeda Attack America?

Filed under: general news — danylmc @ 3:56 pm
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Death will always find you
Even in the looming tower

Sura IV, The Koran

If you’re of a certain ideological bent you already know why the 9/11 attacks happened: either because America had it coming to them for various reasons (rather vaguely involving Israel); or maybe you think it was because the attackers were Muslims and they’re just prone to do that sort of thing now and then (possibly because they hate freedom).

To most people however these theories are less than persuasive, and fortunately we have Lawrence Wrights book The Looming Tower to help make sense of it all.

Endlessly fascinating, this book is at once a history of radical Islamic thought in the past 100 years, a history of modern Saudi Arabia and post-revolutionary Egypt, biographies of bin Laden and Zawahiri and an account of the failure of US intelligence to prevent the attacks.

Wright currently has an article up at the New Yorker about the various intellectual currents extant in the modern jihadi movement. It’s long but well worth the effort.

GroupThink

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 2:22 pm
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I came across the following excerpt from an article by Irving Janis in 1977; its an apt description of a well know contemporary political party:

Eight symptoms that are indicative of groupthink:

1. Illusions of invulnerability creating excessive optimism and encouraging risk taking.
2. Rationalising warnings that might challenge the group’s assumptions.
3. Unquestioned belief in the morality of the group, causing members to ignore the consequences of their actions.
4. Stereotyping those who are opposed to the group as weak, evil, disfigured, impotent, or stupid.
5. Direct pressure to conform placed on any member who questions the group, couched in terms of “disloyalty”.
6. Self censorship of ideas that deviate from the apparent group consensus.
7. Illusions of unanimity among group members, silence is viewed as agreement.
8. Mindguards — self-appointed members who shield the group from dissenting information.

The prominent political party that you think of when reading the list – ACT, the Greens, Labour under Clark, the Bush Administration in the US – are probably indicative of your own tendencies towards groupthink. It seems to apply equally to most if not all political movements across the ideological landscape. My impression is that its getting worse: I wonder if someday soon we’ll see John Key bringing in outside consultants from the CTU, or President Obama making Ann Coulter his Chief of Staff in some modish attempt to escape the perils of groupthink.

Amateur Satirists Praise National Hoodie Day

Filed under: Politics,satire — danylmc @ 9:32 am
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The Ministry of Youth Affairs is spending $35,000 promoting National Hoodie day to improve perceptions of New Zealands youth, a move that has drawn delight and praise from amateur satire blogger Danyl Mclauchlan.

‘This is gold for anyone making fun of clueless self-indulgence, pointless publicity campaigns or just politics in general,’ Mclauchlan said. ‘For sheer futile absurdity a bunch of middle-aged politicians preening themselves in custom-made hoodies while promoting youth culture is hard to beat.’

Mclauchlan was vague about what form of ridicule he would use to mock hoodie day.

‘The possibilities are endless. I could do an farcical piece about someones perceptions actually being changed by this campaign, or write about some street kid somehow being saved from a life of poverty by hoodie day. Or I could go for irony and have all the politicians involved rave about what a huge success it was, quoting statistics about how much press coverage they received and how many photos of them were published. That’s a bit obvious though.’

Mclauchlan angrily denied rumours he would go with a clumsy self-referential gag.

Hoodie Day: Making a Difference

Filed under: Politics — danylmc @ 7:14 am
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MPs from political parties – including Labour, National, the Greens and Maori Party – had agreed to support yesterday’s Hoodie Day, which was organised as part of Youth Week to dispel the intimidating image of the hoodie – a hooded sweatshirt.

National MPs boycott Hoddie Day
New Zealand Herald, Friday 30th May 2008

Slacktivism (sometimes slactivism) is a portmanteau formed out of the words slacker and activism. It is a pejorative term that describes taking painless “feel-good” measures in support of an issue or social cause that have little or no practical effect other than to make the person doing it feel satisfaction. A person that engages in such activity is called a slacktivist.

Examples of slacktivist activities include signing internet petitions, the wearing of wristbands (“awareness bracelets“) with political messages, putting a ribbon magnet on a vehicle, joining a Facebook group, and taking part in short-term boycotts such as Buy Nothing Day or Earth Hour.

Slacktivism, wikipedia.com

May 29, 2008

Was World War Two Worth Fighting?

Filed under: books — danylmc @ 11:23 am
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That’s the question asked by Nicholson Baker in his book Human Smoke: The Beginnings of World War II, the End of Civilization. Anne Applebaum is not impressed and eviscerates Baker’s book over at The New Republic.

To understand Human Smoke properly, one needs to read Gawker, Wikipedia, and above all The Da Vinci Code.

Ouch.

The entire article is worth reading. Actually, as far as I can tell everything Applebaum has ever written is worth reading.

May 28, 2008

Reasons Why the Internet Sucks

Filed under: Uncategorized — danylmc @ 12:03 pm
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I was doing some background reading for the Silmarillion bit below and on the wikipedia page for Balrogs came across the following sentence:

Whether Balrogs have wings (and if so, whether they can fly) is a vexed and heated debate that has raged for years on the Internet.

I’m almost tempted to jump on google and try and find one of these debates, the sheer pointless stupidity of them exerts a powerful attraction over me. Maybe if its raining this weekend.

Peter Jackson to Film 95 Hour Adaptation of Silmarillion

Filed under: movies,satire — danylmc @ 10:53 am
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New Zealand’s best known movie maker will film an $800 million adaptation of JR Tolkiens book The Silmarillion it was revealed today.

The announcement was made by Robert Shaye, co-CEO of New Line Cinema who will be funding and distributing the five films.

‘We are pleased to announce that we now own the adaptation rights to this book and that Peter Jackson has agreed to produce and direct it,’ Shaye said.

While the rights to Tolkien book The Hobbit were recently sold off for multi-million dollar sums Shaye told reporters that The Silmarillion was ‘surprisingly cheap.’

‘Nobody owned it,’ Shaye said. ‘The Tolkien estate gave it to us for virtually nothing. Isn’t that crazy?’

Details of the adaptation are scare. It is understood that it will consist of five films, each roughly twenty hours long – although it is understood that the initial cinematic releases might be edited down to less than a dozen hours.

The first film, Ainulindalë is scheduled for release in 2018 but already fans of Jackson and Tolkien are buzzing with anticipation.

‘This is going to be totally awesome,’ wrote independent film critic Harry Knowles on his popular web-review site AintitCool.com. ‘I can’t wait to see the scene where Eru is singing and the rest of the Ainur join in but Melkor wants to sing his own song. That is just gonna be balls-to-the-wall f**king amazing – especially if the rumours about Christopher Walken playing Melkor are true. Christopher Walken rocks!’

It is also understood that Jackson is planning to move away from digital representations of large battles – many of which occur in the third film, the Quenta Silmarillion.

‘What we did with Lord of the Rings was groundbreaking at the time but is now standard in the industry,’ said a spokesperson for Weta workshop. ‘What Peter hopes to do this time around is film real battles with real weapons and real carnage.’

The Screen Actors Guild has yet to comment on Jacksons plan to butcher his cast but legions of Tolkien fans are signing up to die for the film.

‘I’d like to be eaten by a Balrog in the Battle of Sudden Flame, but I’ll probably end up being stabbed by some Orc,’ said one fan. ‘But that’s okay too.’

Jackson will need to keep some Tolkien fanatics alive, since all dialog in the film will be delivered in the fictional languages Quenya and Eldarin. The movies will not feature subtitles.

‘If that’s Peter’s vision then that’s what we want to do,’ Bob Shaye told reporters at a post-announcement press conference. ‘As far as I’m concerned it’s now Peter’s eight hundred million dollars and I know he’ll make five great movies with it.’

Shaye also admitted that he personally had not found time to read The Silmarillion but he was not concerned about its commercial prospects.

‘Peter Jackson and Tolkien,’ he said. ‘How can you go wrong?’

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