Monthly Archive for August, 2008

George Orwell, the blogger

If there was ever a writer whose opinions chimed almost perfectly with my own, it was George Orwell. Peter Davidson has resurrected him on a blog called The Orwell Diaries in the form of his actual diary entries from 70 years ago, in the days leading up to the Second World War. The blog format is a great idea:

In a curious way, reading what Orwell jotted down so informally as events occurred, domestically and internationally, seventy years ago will be far more intriguing for readers than when they are faced with slabs of print.

Today’s entry, for August 22nd, describing a “warmish day, with showers” perfectly describes the afternoon here in Berlin.

Perversion for Profit

This is an anti-pornography film from 1965 which links the “flood tide of filth” to the decline of western civilization. Excellent and hilarious, with commentary as salacious as it is zealous.  My favorite moment is at minute 3 when the camera shows a shot of a model reclining in a barnyard, then tilts up to a goat that happens to be tethered in the background. The announcer solemnly pronounces, “And this one, with its overtones of bestiality.”

Movies from Another Universe

In another reality – strangely akin to our own – movies like Machines Are Pointing and Laughing at Me, Eulogy for a Fluffer, and Tears of a Clownfish were made. These and lots more have been cataloged by the talented folks at The Parallel Universe Film Guide.

(via Kottke)

World’s Ten Oldest Jokes

From UKTV:

Something which has never occurred since time immemorial: a young woman did not fart in her husband’s lap (1900 BC – 1600 BC Sumerian Proverb Collection 1.12-1.13

(via Cynical-C)

99 Francs

Jean Dujardin in 99 Francs

99 Francs is French filmmaker Jan Kounen’s critique of consumer culture, based on the book of the same title by Frédéric Beigbeder. After 1 hour and 40 minutes of slick filmmaking, replete with ironic references to famous ad campaigns, beautiful people and lots of sex and drugs and rock & roll, the movie ends with a meek call to action stating that with a mere fraction of the money spent on advertising each year, we could put an end to world hunger. This astonishingly lame ending undermines any value the movie might have had.

I suppose the altruistic blurb at the end of the movie is the kind of palliative the filmmakers needed to include in order to convince themselves that their movie has a higher moral purpose. The question is, why do they even bother? In reality, it is just a story about a narcissistic, self-loathing fashion victim who sees the error of his ways. The great irony, of course, is that had they spent all their time and money on charitable projects instead of making this movie, they could have contributed much more to ending world hunger.

Continue reading ‘99 Francs’

The Anthrax-Neocon Link

In case you didn’t realize the neocons are cynical and manipulative übercreeps, read this compelling article by Glen Greenwald in Salon. After the 9/11 attacks my country was led by the nose into believing that attacking Iraq would solve all of our problems. The Anthrax-Sadaam link, based on dubious information sourced from a U.S. government research laboratory, was just the smoking gun the neocons needed to rally public opinion behind them for their grandiose plans:

We now know — we knew even before news of Ivins’ suicide last night, and know especially in light of it — that the anthrax attacks didn’t come from Iraq or any foreign government at all. It came from our own Government’s scientist, from the top Army bioweapons research laboratory. More significantly, the false reports linking anthrax to Iraq also came from the U.S. Government — from people with some type of significant links to the same facility responsible for the attacks themselves.

Surely the question of who generated those false Iraq-anthrax reports is one of the most significant and explosive stories of the last decade. The motive to fabricate reports of bentonite and a link to Saddam is glaring. Those fabrications played some significant role — I’d argue a very major role — in propagandizing the American public to perceive of Saddam as a threat, and further, propagandized the public to believe that our country was sufficiently threatened by foreign elements that a whole series of radical policies that the neoconservatives both within and outside of the Bush administration wanted to pursue — including an attack an Iraq and a whole array of assaults on our basic constitutional framework — were justified and even necessary in order to survive.

I’d like to see what all those hysterical right-wing bloggers who were so gung ho about going to war, about doing “whatever it takes” despite us “liberal pussies”, have to say about this. Probably not much, as they’re coming to realize they’ve been led by the nose too.

Link to the full article in Salon.

(via Boingboing)

Hitler’s Taste in Art

Führer-approved sheep (painting by Ferdinand Schmalzigang)

We all know Hitler was an aspiring painter in his youth before he went on to found the Third Reich (which in itself was a demented artistic creation). Once in power, he planned on establishing a Führermuseum in his hometown of Linz, Austria, where he had assembled 4,731 pieces of art, ranging from painting, to tapestry, to sculpture.

The Führer’s taste ran to bucolic idylls and precious German Romanticism, in particular 19th century painters from Vienna and Munich. He ignored, famously, “degenerate” art by realistic or socially biting artists — among them the mightiest names of the 20th century — but he managed to assemble a large and not insignificant private collection.

That leaves out personal favorites like Otto Dix and George Grosz. I guess, according to Adolf, I have degenerate taste in art.

In the aftermath of the war the works of art were scattered across Europe.

After sifting through 50,000 photos taken by the Allies, and re-establishing details like authorship, the Deutches Historisches Museum now has the entire collection online.

Link to the database at the DHM. Getting into it is a bit tricky. First click on “zur Datenbank” then click on “OK” in the field right under “Volltextsuche über alle Felder”.

(via Der Spiegel)