K. (infinitemonkeys) wrote,

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Basket-weaving, Africa and mastication. (yeah, you read it wrong)

I have a question for you all: do you listen to classical music and if so, do you gravitate to a specific period or set of composers? What do you listen to? What speaks to you?

Oh, and what's your star sign, because if I'm going to have a stupid theory about it, I may as well add astrology to make it even more ridiculous.

I'm listening to Spem in Alium which may be the musical equivalent of the northern lights over Finnmark, so beautiful is it, but this recording is just rubbish; it's sludgey, fraught with vibrato and lacking all clarity. ::switches to Taverner choir version::

Maybe I should turn this into a poll.

* * *

I missed some birthdays, as you do when you feel uninclined to look at LJ for a while. A very happy very belated birthday to upsy_daisy, and happy birthday, not quite so belatedly, to leadensky and vaznetti

* * *

Is there something unpleasant in the water this month? Are you *that* bored? There's a kerfuffle a weekend on LJ at the moment. I think it's the Harry Potter fandom's turn next week. I'm not sure. No one's sent me the schedule yet.

Perhaps we should all take up basket-weaving, only then we'd have flame wars about the right reeds to use and new techniques versus old techniques and someone would say that women basket-weaving is perpetuating ancient gender stereotypes and someone else would say that maybe potters should be consulted since they have interesting things to say about crafts.

Then the basket-weaving community would be all "but we're open to potters if they want to discuss pleasing shapes! We never said we weren't! We'd welcome their input. Some of our best friends are potters, and they do post stuff here, you know" and then someone would say "Yes, but you've only been talking about baskets for ages, which proves you're not interested in pottery brackets you bastards close brackets"

Then someone else suggests that maybe you could make a basket and then build clay into it -- and they are roundly mocked, just on general principles and a troll comes in and yells "only big loosers make baskets, you people should get lade". (Why can trolls seldom spell? Because they are ignorant arseholes, Jeremy. Why thank you for clearing that up.)

Some BNP (big name potter) would say that it was *ceramics*, thankyouverymuch and anyway, some nasty basket weavers had once not written her feedback back in 1998, which proved that all basketweavers were ceramics-unfriendly and anyway, the lurkers supported her in email.

Later someone else would point out that pottery was also a mostly female activity and we were hemmed in on all sides by oppressive gender norms, then someone would post a picture of Grayson Perry and say "well, he won the £,000 Turner Prize for art for his pottery and he's a MAN", then someone would find a picture of Grayson Perry in a dress and say "HAH! Transvestite!" and someone would quote Eddie Izzard in a brave but foolish attempt to lighten the tone and basically it would be a whole big mess.

Hmmm. All of which is to say... precisely nothing. I just think it's weird how prone to disagreement everyone is right now.

Today I followed a link that led me to furry porn and my brain pan now needs a good going over with the bristly brush and the bleach. I'm not feeling well-disposed towards LJ right now, even if it is my own stupid fault.

"You don't have to read it, you know". Yes, I know. I didn't read it all.

But I smite you for stating the bleeding obvious.

* * *

London's weather was strange this weekend. Today was the normal fine-ish March day, slightly grey and slightly cold, but yesterday was T-shirt weather. It was hot and sunny and all the cafes in Clerkenwell had shoved their tables outside a few months early. In keeping with the return of the fitness regime I've been neglecting since Christmas, I walked up from lower Clerkenwell to Islington to meet T. so we could go see Hotel Rwanda.

I embarrassed myself in the cinema by exclaiming rather louder than intended "oh for the love of God, would you Shut. Up." because the man in the seat next to me kept scrabbling around in his popcorn cup at crucial moments.

Not just a swipe for more popcorn, which would be okay and part of the cinema going experience, but an extending swirling it about and rattling, followed by loud, loud, open-mouthed mastication, then prolonged finger-sucking with attendant lip-smacking.

This was then followed by answering of his partner's dumb questions about Rwanda in a voce that was not entirely sotto. I wanted to lean over and say "read the Gourevitch book afterwards. I'll even write down the title for you. But for now, shut. up. And by the way, shut your mouth when you're eating, you sound revolting."

I am turning into my mother. ::holds head in hands::

Hotel Rwanda was a really good, old-fashioned film with a conscience, telling the story of one man in order to tell the story of the genocide. The numbers are mind-boggling: 800,000 people were killed in a hundred days in an organised slaughter while the west looked on and argued about the definitions of genocide. I can recommend this, an in-depth interview with Gourevitch on the UC Berkeley website, as interesting background. The film made me want to read the Gourevitch book again, if only to confirm that if anything the film underplayed the massacres.

Don Cheadle was just fantastic as Paul Rusesabagina and Sophie Okenedo, who looked like Angela Bassett's sister, only younger and less gussied up, did a fantastic job with what must have been a thankless part. (I suppose she will have to go to Hollywood to get another decent role, like Marianne Jean Baptiste and Chiwetel Ejiofor, or else be stuck in Holby City like poor Hugh Quarshie.)

It was very good at telling uncomfortable truths, like the news pyramid that exists, albeit unofficially, where a train crash like Eschede would be front-of-book news for days and a train crash in Sydney is a page lead but the hundreds of deaths in African civil wars barely make it out of the news in brief column. It's not that we (as in individual westerners) don't care about the Lord's Resistance Army in Uganda, or the millions of deaths in the Congolese conflicts or that somewhere like Malawi (which I looked up as a random African country) the life expectancy is less than 40 years for both men and women, it's just that half the time we don't even know what's going on.

When we do know, the problems seem so vast and intractable that we give up. After the second world war there was a lot of fine talk about how never again would the world stand by and watch a genocide, indeed laws were framed to make intervention a requirement when there was evidence of a genocide but all that meant was that the west argued over the definition of genocide. This paragraph particularly struck me:

I think that there was a fantasy after [the scale of the holocaust was revealed]. There was a dream, there was a hope that we would act differently in the future. But we didn't. And when push came to shove, Rwanda was the test, and [in] Rwanda [we] said no, we will not. Unlike Bosnia, where we also disgraced ourselves in terms of the intervention policy of the world community for much of that time, [in Rwanda] we did nothing ever, even in the end we didn't. There was no strategic interest. There was no economic interest. The only claim that Rwanda laid on us was fellow humanity, and that's not enough. It turns out that the lesson of Rwanda is that that is not enough. And it's been borne out consistently every since. We wouldn't go in there today, I guarantee you. As much as Clinton has gone over there and wrung his hands, as much as Madeleine Albright has. Kofi Annan has never apologized. And to me it virtually invalidates his entire career. It's one of the great stains on his career.

We shall see what difference the Africa Commission report makes this year as Britain takes the presidency of the G8. The plans were rather knocked off course by the tsunami. For all that George Bush Jr is possibly my least favourite US president ever, aside from the unpleasant conditions he imposes on aid, he seems to have made some extra effort for Africa and to be genuinely concerned -- and for that we must be grateful.

I suppose. Grudgingly. With caveats, because where would the left wing be without grudges and caveats? *g*

T. and I differed in our reactions to it. She felt angry and I felt ashamed, and I wondered how much our cultural backgrounds have to do with our reactions but I didn't get chance to broach that (or indeed work out exactly how to broach that). Maybe in email, where I can be articulate, rather than a mumbling tosspot.

It does raise very important questions for the left, though: when is it right to intervene? What's the line between respecting a country's right to self-determination and standing by while thousands of our fellow human beings die because intervention is politically expensive. Given what we knew of Saddam -- the torture cells, the disappearances, Halabja -- should we be supporting an invasion carried out for selfish strategic reasons if it overthrows a tyrant?

Out of a foreign policy that much of the rest of the world finds ignorant, arrogant, dangerous and repellent can a greater good come? Cedar revolution, I'm looking at you.

I don't have any answers to this. Don't suppose I ever will.

* * *

Email tomorrow, when I am less meh.
Tags: meta, movies, poll
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