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Monday 2 February 2015

Just a perfect day for global epic reflection


Amazing day at the #SuperBowl: image via Britney Spears @britneyspears, 1 February 2015

 @JimmyFallon's #SuperBowl show started with this epic a capella "We Are the Champions" video: image via JustJared @JustJared, 1 February 2015

 #AmericanSniper has officially broken the box office record for #SuperBowl weekend: image via Geek Nation @GeekNation, 1 February 2015

 #AmericanSniper set a #SuperBowl weekend record at the box office: image via Variety @Variety, 1 February 2015

I'd watch #AmericanSniper again right now if I could: image via Andrew Day @Andrew_S_Day, 1 February 2015 

 #AmericanSniper Shoots Down Super Bowl Weekend Record With $31.9M: image via FOX 11 Los Angeles @myfoxla, 1 February 2015

FASHION STATEMENT #FashionStatement: image via IG:steloolive @stelooive, 28 January 2015

Staring hard into the face of the future and seeing yet another giant boring machine tunneling toward me made me think of how it might feel to be drinking three liters of Dr Pepper while viewing the game action from Britney's vip suite if the Super Bowl were being mysteriously attacked by a huge steroidal iPhone with revolving Alien terror teeth

London, UK. Workmen watch as the tunnel machine, named Elizabeth after the Queen, breaks through into Crossrail’s Liverpool Street station
: photo by Anthony Devlin/PA via The Guardian, 29 January 2015

A workman is seen through a drill after the Crossrail breakthrough into the east-end of Crossrail's Liverpool Street station in London: photo by Anthony Devlin/PA via The Guardian, 29 January 2015

A workman is seen through a drill after the Crossrail breakthrough into the east-end of Crossrail's Liverpool Street station in London: photo by Anthony Devlin/PA via The Guardian, 29 January 2015

Composite image of workmen looking on as tunnel machine, named Elizabeth after the Queen, breaks through into the east-end of Crossrail’s Liverpool Street station in LondonLondon: composite photo by Anthony Devlin/PA via The Guardian, 29 January 2015

Workers look on as a Crossrail tunnelling machine makes the first breakthrough into the City of London, 40m below ground under Liverpool Street: photos by Anthony Devlin/PA The Guardian, 30 January 2015

London, UK. Workmen watch as the tunnel machine, named Elizabeth after the Queen, breaks through into Crossrail’s Liverpool Street station: photo by Anthony Devlin/PA via The Guardian, 29 January 2015

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Tunnel machine Elizabeth breaks into Liverpool Street station: images via Crossrail Project @Crossrail, 29 January 2015

Disneyland is taking action amid a California measles outbreak: photo by H Lorren Au Jr/AP via the Guardian, 22 January 2015

Running up the numbers in Neverland

Katy Perry headlining the Super Bowl halftime extravaganza: playful and pop: photo by Byan Snyder/Reuters via The Guardian, 1 February 2015

As anyone who saw Madonna carried into the arena by a platoon of Roman centurions three years ago will have realised, the halftime show at the Super Bowl is no place for understatement. Yet Katy Perry’s grand entrance redefines the term kitsch. She emerges standing on the back of a giant puppet tiger which advances across the stadium, red eyes flashing, while Perry shakes its enormous golden reins while belting out Roar, clad in a Jeremy Scott outfit constructed of tongues of vinyl flame. It’s The Hunger Games as reimagined by the producers of Strictly Come Dancing.

The opening sets the tone for a high-octane show as notable for its surreal camp as for its tunes. Over 12 minutes, Perry manages to squeeze in four costume changes, nine songs (including three by Missy Elliott), and two backing dancers dressed as cuddly sharks, during an interlude in which the stage seems to turn into a cross between Club Tropicana and the hill from Tellytubbies. Perry’s sturdily-constructed pop tunes are whipped up into a hectic megamix, each number the excuse for ever more outlandish staging.

-- Alex Needham: from Super Bowl halftime show review -- epic, lung-busting kitsch: The singer emerged on a giant tiger, danced with people dressed as sharks - and narrowly avoided being upstaged by Missy Elliott, The Guardian, 1 February 2015

Workers at a Foxconn factory in China: photo by Darley Shen/Reuters via The Guardian, 1 February 2015

The typical worker at Apple’s main manufacturer is a young man of 27, a “migrant worker” who grew up in a village. One among 170,000 employees, he (two-thirds of staff are male) earns about £180 a month at China’s biggest technology manufacturer, most likely in one of its airport-sized facilities in Shenzhen, about an hour’s drive from Hong Kong. Those wages are more than many blue-collar jobs in China -- and many go to Foxconn for a short-term summer job before returning to school or university in the autumn. The biggest threat to their livelihood might not be Apple; instead, it’s Foxconn’s plan to install robots to eliminate errors.

Apple’s rise has come through lucrative contracts with Foxconn and many other suppliers in and around Shenzhen handpicked to meet exacting deadlines and quality controls. Apple boss Tim Cook says it is impossible to find companies of such scale in the US.

Workers typically put in 56 to 61 hours a week (despite the local legal maximum of 60), some doing seven-day stints without a break during the summer as orders are ramped up for new devices to be launched in the autumn. A Fair Labor Organisation investigation in 2012 found that required 15-minute breaks every two hours were sometimes ignored. The strain drove some to suicide in the past; Apple has repeatedly pledged to improve its labour practices, with counselling and labour monitoring.

-- Charles Arthur: from Planet Apple, The Guardian, 1 February 2015

A Chinese customer buys two new iPhone 6s: photo by Johannes Eisele/AFP via The Observer, 31 January 2015

Financially, is this the peak?

Apple was 90 days away from bankruptcy when Steve Jobs rejoined it in 1997-- as he later revealed -- but Apple  now tends to downplay its financial success ahead of quarterly profit announcements in order to surprise investors and analysts.

This quarter’s profits were on another scale, though. Sales in the three months to the end of December were up 30% to $74.6bn. Those profits of $18bn were up 37%.

It was the fastest quarterly growth since March 2012, but then Apple was half the size it is now. As Apple’s chief financial officer, Luca Maestri, said: “For a company of our size that is not a small feat.”

Katy Huberty, an analyst at Morgan Stanley, said it was a “quarter for the record books” and increased her share price target from $126 to $133, indicating she believes there is more growth to come. The shares, which jumped 5% in after-hours trading following Apple’s results, closed at $117 on Friday.

The big challenge now, says Geoff Blaber, vice-president of research for CCS Insight, is to find the next growth opportunity. “Western Europe and north America are becoming saturated: to have room for growth Apple has to rely on taking growth from [Google’s] Android operating system based devices,” he says. “The big, big, focus is on China  and to a lesser extent India.”

Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters expect Apple’s revenue in the year to September to grow 22%, but growth to slow to 4% in the following year.

Are there many people left who want an iPhone?

Apple sold a record 74.5m mobiles in the quarter, 46% more than in the same period a year earlier. “Demand for iPhone has been staggering, shattering our high expectations,” chief executive Tim Cook said. “This volume is hard to comprehend.”

The phones accounted for two-thirds of Apple’s revenue, and were worth more than Microsoft and Google’s latest quarterly sales combined.

“Seems like the whole world wants an iPhone,” Steven Milunovich, an analyst at UBS, wrote in a note to investors, pointing out that consumers had demanded even more phones but Apple couldn’t produce them fast enough until recently.

However, Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Bernstein Research, cautions that Apple’s growth may be too reliant on the seven-year-old product 

“A bet on Apple is increasingly a bet on the iPhone,” Sacconaghi says. “The good news is, iPhones are great. The bad news is, right now that’s driving over 100% of the revenue growth of the company.”

-- from What do you do after you become the world's most profitable company?: Rupert Neate, The Observer, 31 January 2015

Tim Cook unveils the Apple Watch in California last year: photo by Zuma/Rex via The Observer, 31 January 2015

How important is China?

Very: iPhone sales are exploding in the country. Apple overtook local producer Xiaomi to become China’s biggest smartphone seller in the last quarter. Chinese sales, which had been weak for Apple until it released the latest bigger-screen phones, came in at $16.1bn, up 70% on last year – when it also did not have a deal giving it access to China Mobile’s estimated 760 million subscribers.

Revenues in China are quickly catching up with the amount it collects in the whole of Europe, where sales were $17.2bn, up 20%.

“I was there [in China] right after the launch in October, and the excitement around the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus [was] absolutely phenomenal,” Cook said during his call with analysts. “You can tell that we’re a big believer in China.”

Apple plans to double the number of its stores in greater China to 40 by mid-2016. “It’s an incredible market,” he said. “People love Apple products. And we are going to do our best to serve the market.”

Only a year earlier, in October 2013, Apple was the No 6 smartphone maker in China, trailing Xiaomi, Huawei, Lenovo, Samsung and Yulong, according to research firm Canalys.

“This is an amazing result, given that the average selling price of Apple’s handsets is nearly double those of its nearest competitors,” Canalys says. “While Chinese smartphone vendors are quickly gaining ground internationally, Apple has turned the tables on them in their home market.”

Can it afford for the Apple Watch to fail?

It has been five years since Apple launched its latest truly new product -- the iPad -- in 2010. To live up to its name for innovation, and diversify revenues away from reliance on the iPhone, Apple needs the Apple Watch to be an unqualified success.

Cook announced that the watch would go on sale in April, giving the company a boost in its third quarter when it will not benefit from Christmas or the Chinese new year, which will have helped the previous two quarters. “We’re making great progress in the development of it,” he said.

Apple describes the new product – often referred to as the iWatch, although it has not been officially named – as the “most personal device ever” and it is thought it will be able to monitor its wearer’s health as well as connect to an iPhone to provide several other functions. Cook said app developers had already impressed him with “some incredible innovation”.

Carolina Milanesi at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech says the watch will help Apple extend its sales into a much wider market. “They have been very smart in pushing it as jewellery and design rather than how technologically smart it is,” she says. “They are concentrating more on impressing the design and fashion world than the tech bloggers.

“I think this will be a much more irrational buy than with an iPad. With an iPad you wanted an iPad: this is going to be more of a fashion statement.”

She said the launch would benefit from the fashion and marketing skills of Angela Ahrendts, the former Burberry boss Apple hired last year on a $73m pay package as its head of retail.

Apple poached a string of big names from fashion and design to join its watch team, including Patrick Pruniaux, former vice-president of sales at Tag Heuer and former Yves Saint Laurent boss Paul Deneve, who is now Apple’s “vice president of special projects”.

-- from What do you do after you become the world's most profitable company?: Rupert Neate, The Observer, 31 January 2015

Taylor Swift prefers downloads to streaming
: photo by Darley Shen/Reuters via The Guardian, 1 February 2015
US: Pop stars

Apple transformed the music business with the launch of its iTunes music store in 2003, making buying digital music easy and fast. Since then iTunes  has become a behemoth -- but the rise of streaming services such as Spotify, Deezer and Pandora has made “buying” tracks less popular, leading to a slump in digital sales.

Some major pop artists, such as Taylor Swift, still prefer sales over streams: in October she removed all her songs from Spotify, and had the year’s second-best selling album with 1989 (behind the Disney soundtrack for Frozen). Pharrell Williams had the most downloaded song with Happy.

Even so, Apple sees that downloads are becoming passé. Having bought Dr Dre’s company Beats Electronics, it is expected to wrap the streaming service that came with it into iTunes this year, and make Beats headphones (which have a huge following) into a new gateway for Apple products.

Will Swift be able to shake that off? She might not have a choice.

-- Charles Arthur: from Planet Apple, The Guardian, 1 February 2015

With dignity and restraint (is it a lion or is it a tiger?)

Missy Elliott and Katy Perry play the Super Bowl: photo by Christopher Polk via The Guardian, 1 February 2015

Missy Elliott doesn’t exactly strike a note of sobriety, but she does stop the show disappearing down the rabbit hole. Wearing a startling, waist-length hair weave, her salvo of Get Ur Freak on, Work it and Lose Control almost steal the slot from under Perry’s nose: almost 15 years since they were released, these songs still sound like the future. The only way Perry can top it is by reappearing in a star-spangled silver outfit and flying around the stadium on a platform which seems to be propelled by a giant sparkler-shooting star. So naturally she does, inevitably while singing Firework. It’s a wildly over-the-top ending for a show that didn’t know the meaning of “too much”, but which somehow never overwhelmed its star.

-- Alex Needham: from Super Bowl halftime show review -- epic, lung-busting kitsch: The singer emerged on a giant tiger, danced with people dressed as sharks - and narrowly avoided being upstaged by Missy Elliott, The Guardian, 1 February 2015

As ever, no expense spared as the nation’s favourite show kicks off: photo by Lucy Nicholson/Reuters via The Guardian, 1 February 2015

Things are barely underway and some of the dancers look like are on their way to the yellow brick road: photo by Christopher Polk via The Guardian, 1 February 2015

A giant tiger carries Katy Perry into the stadium for her to belt out her hit single Roar
: photo by
Timothy A. Clary/AFP via The Guardian, 1 February 2015

And here she is! On a big lion! Of course she is! Or is it a tiger? It’s a big cat, anyway: photo by Karl Walter via The Guardian, 1 February 2015

A: So what’s the plan for the half-time show? B: Katy Perry. Massive tiger. Looks like a horse: photo by Jamie Squire via The Guardian, 1 February 2015

“Is that your chiiiick?” For goodness sakes, it’s Katy Perry, Missy!: photo by Christopher Polk via The Guardian, 1 February 2015

People often say they’re scared of sharks. They should count their lucky stars they’ve never had to spend time with two-legged sharks. While dancing.: photo by David J. Phillip/AP via The Guardian, 1 February 2015

It’s a primary colour blitz as Perry and pals work through their routine: photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic via The Guardian, 1 February 2015

The Patriots fans are getting excited ...: photo by Brian Snyder/Reuters via The Guardian, 1 February 2015

... as are the Seahawks fans: photo by Timothy A Cleary/AFP via The Guardian, 1 February 2015

That was not the most exciting #SuperBowl ever (but it does rank pretty high): image via FiveThirtyEight @FiveThirtyEight, 1 February 2015

In the huddle
JUST GIMME A KISS…BRIT... @britneyspears #2001HALFTIMESHOW #WALKTHISWAY #REUNITED: image via Steven Tyler @IamStevenT, 1 February 2015

PRAISE — Britney Spears just saved the #SuperBowl: image via Bustle @bustle, 1 February 2015

Who was better? RT for Britney Spears FAV for Katy Perry: images via Feim vol.1 @FeimM, 1 February 2015

I'm so sorry but no halftime show will ever top Steven Tyler with Britney Spears, 'N Sync, & Nelly. #2001: image via Adrianna @_peruz, 1 February 2015

Let's take a moment to remember this #SuperBowl brilliance: image via Hayley Podschun @haypod22, 1 February 2015

@britneyspears vip suite @SuperBowl @etnow: image via Canaan Rubin @CanaanRubin, 1 February 2015

I'm not sure I am emotionally prepared in case of a @britneyspears special guest halftime appearance #SB49: image via Ariel Ufret @arielufret, 1 February 2015

If Britney Spears did this year's Halftime Show: image via T.Kyle @tkylemac, 1 February 2015
The Day After: A Day of Honour

Proudly supporting #ChrisKyle and #ChrisKyleDay on 2/2/15. Urging everyone to go and follow @ChrisKyleFrog: image via Shane Read @srcreate, 30 January 2015

Governor Abbott of Texas has announced that February 2nd will be #ChrisKyleDay across our great state: image via Chad Anders @caught_lookin, 30 January 2014

American Cinematic Icon Clint Eastwood, like a BOSS #ChrisKyleDay #Feb2 #American Sniper: image via Infidel @HeidiL_RN, 31 January 2015

Chris Kyle Traitor, Racist, Mass Murderer, War Criminal  #ChrisKyleDay #Feb2 #American Sniper: image via DJ Rubiconski @Rubinconski, 31 January 2015

Monday is proclaimed #ChrisKyleDay in Texas #military: image via Military Trending @militarylizer, 31 January 2015

Awesomeness > Feb 2nd Declared #ChrisKyleDay in Texas via @GregAbbott_TX @ChrisKyleFrog: image via I Yam What I Yam @Nvr4Get91101, 30 January 2014

Three liters of Awesomeness

taste of #murica: image via matty @MatthewHayward2, 1 February 2015

Ready for the big game tomorrow. @BehemothbeerNZ #murica #SuperBowl: image via the Beer Library @BeerLibraryCHCH, 31 January 2015

What soldiers do in their free time #murica: image via Josephine Behrends @josephinebehre2, 31 January 2015

What soldiers do in their free time #murica: image via Josephine Behrends @josephinebehre2, 31 January 2015

What soldiers do in their free time #murica: image via Josephine Behrends @josephinebehre2, 31 January 2015

What soldiers do in their free time #murica: image via Josephine Behrends @josephinebehre2, 31 January 2015

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Going on a date with my girl to see #americansniper: image via roray @realroray, 31 January 2014

ARE YOU FREAKING KIDDING ME!!???? EVERY PUBLIC OFFICIAL IN THIS STATE HAS ME RAGING TODAY. @GovAbbott #ChrisKyleDay: image via k-cobb @KristinaCobb, 30 January 2015 Austin, Texas

Texas Governor to declare #ChrisKyleDay in honour of sniper: image via Canoe Politics @canoepolitics, 31 January 2015

#American Sniper #1 Domestic War Movie of all time. #ChrisKyleDay: image via Bang Zoom @VikingMike88, 31 January 2015

Bradley Cooper in American Sniper
: photo uncredited/AP via The Guardian, 29 January 2014

Former US navy Seal Chris Kyle: photo by Paul Moseley/AP via The Guardian, 20 January 2015

Heightened for the screen … American Sniper is based on Chris Kyle’s memoir of the same name: photo by Keith Bernstein/AP via The Guardian, 20 January 2015

Chris Kyle, who was shot dead at a Texas gun range in February 2013, has become a divisive figure. Public statements suggested he relished his job, and in his book of the same name as the film, co-written with Scott McEwen and Jim DeFelice, he portrayed the Iraqis and Islamic insurgents he killed as “savages”.
Kyle’s story has also fueled controversy on social media, where advocacy groups have detected a disturbing rise in Islamophobic comments and anti-Muslim threats inspired by the movie: photo by Paul Moseley/AP via The Guardian,  31 January 2015

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Jane analyzes the weekend box office w/ #AmericanSniper breaking #SuperBowl Weekend Record: image via Reel Life with jane @reellifejane, 1 February 2015

 #AmericanSniper set a #SuperBowl weekend record at the box office: image via Mohamed Omer @MohamedOmar, 1 February 2015

This is why #AmericanSniper should not be awarded for anything except America's crappiest movie after Gili: image via Fatimah @Fatimahs1990, 1 February 2015
What if the other guys got to play too?

Isr amb. 2 US watched 2 much #AmericanSniper - Watch this! @AmbDermer: Breaking Protocol, Choosing Sides: Go Patriots: image via Bea @Bea4Palestine, 1 February 2015

Palestinians walk on a stone wall that was painted by local artists in an attempt to bring more colour to Gaza City: photo by Wissam Nassar/Xinhua Press/Corbis via The Guardian, 31 January 2015

Beit Hanun, Gaza Strip. A Palestinian girl sleeps on a mat at her destroyed home. The UN agency for Palestinian refugees has said it cannot afford to repair Gaza homes damaged in last year’s war because donors have failed to pay and cutting subsidies to displaced residents now renting alternative accommodation could force large numbers back to UN schools and centres which are already sheltering 12,000 people
: photo by Mohammed Abed/AFP via The Guardian, 30 January 2015

In Gaza City, a Palestinian boy wearing a military costume arrives at a graduation ceremony for Palestinian youths who were trained at one of the Hamas-run liberation camps: photo by Suhaib Salem/Reuters via The Guardian, 31 January 2015

Wallops Island, Virginia. An unmanned rocket owned by Orbital Sciences Corporation explodes just seconds after launch, on what was to be a resupply mission to the International Space Station: photo by Steve Alexander/AFP via The Guardian, 29 October 2014

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Fireworks over Super Bowl Central in Phoenix! #SB49: image via Super Bowl @SuperBowl, 28 January 2015


Nin Andrews said...

Dizzying images--a weird world we live in.

manik sharma said...

This ensemble of images is perhaps the most striking you've ever put together. But I've got to tell you, there ain't nothing more masculine than a little American sniping - unless a Brit does it as a Russian (Jude Law).

I'm always surprised at the ability of the country to take itself so seriously. It is magnetic at times, and probably makes the rest of us feel a little American as well. How can we not. How can anyone not. The American way, all the way.

erin said...




thoroughly frightened.

but slightly amused by this, "Perry’s sturdily-constructed pop tunes" - only nervous laughter steadily followed. very nervous.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

If I were still living in ‘Murica, I’d be tempted to say “Awesome!” to describe this overpowering mélange of images dedicated to showing the rest of the world how “surreal” the folks back home have become but since both terms have become meaningless from too much overuse, I’ll just have to say “Fucking far-out, Tom!” (And I do mean it.)

BTW, pretty smart of those London tube workers to take along their iPhones to immortalize such an awesome event; wish we could see the look of awe on their faces rather than just their arses.

TC said...

Grateful to the still-aware for their still-awareness. Dizzying, surrealistic, weird indeed. Fearsome, also. One grows fearful. One seeks a hiding place. There is none. They are out there, everywhere, with their high-powered munitions and their ersatz American values, invisibly knitted and knotted and neutered together by the great invisible electronic bonding fluid of dumbass jingoism. The formula requires little nuance. Sell more shit. Kill more badguys. Declare state holidays in honour of ruthless, brutal bullies and killers.

Today the Weinstein company, reacting with the predictable alacrity of a real shark (as opposed to the plastic blow-up kind) to the exploding box office take of the "patriotic" movie (coming up on $320 million worldwide, as of the Morning After), and never slow to lurk a lurid scene of hatred and violence suitable for re-heating the tepid cockles of a TCOT heart, announced it's doing a sort of spinoff of American Sniper -- five-part series, who knows where it might go from there.

You've already seen the psychokiller film or maybe read the book or at least heard something about it, unless you are fortunate enough to be dwelling off-planet.

One reviewer -- Gary Younge, American, black -- wrote:

'Say what you like about the film American Sniper, and people have, you have to admire its clarity. It’s about killing. There is no moral arc; no anguish about whether the killing is necessary or whether those who are killed are guilty of anything. “I’m prepared to meet my maker and answer for every shot I took,” says Bradley Cooper, who plays the late Chris Kyle, a navy Seal who was reputedly the deadliest sniper in American history. There is certainly no discursive quandary about whether the Iraq war, in which the killing takes place, is either legal or justified. “I couldn’t give a flying fuck about the Iraqis,” wrote Kyle in his memoir, where he refers to the local people as “savages”.

'The film celebrates a man who has a talent for shooting people dead when they are not looking and who, apparently, likes his job. “After the first kill, the others come easy,” writes Kyle. “I don’t have to psych myself up, or do anything special mentally. I look through the scope, get my target in the crosshairs, and kill my enemy before he kills one of my people.”

'Americans are celebrating the film. It has been nominated for six Oscars and enjoyed the highest January debut ever. When Kyle kills his rival, a Syrian sniper named Mustafa, with a mile-long shot, audiences cheer. It has done particularly well with men and in southern and midwestern markets where the film industry does not expect to win big. And while its appeal is strong in the heartland it has travelled well too, providing career-best opening weekends for Clint Eastwood in the UK, Taiwan, New Zealand, Peru and Italy.

'And so it is that within a few weeks of the developed world uniting to defend western culture and Enlightenment values, it produces a popular celluloid hero who is tasked not with satirising Islam, but killing Muslims. Threats to Arab and Muslim Americans have tripled since the film came out, according to the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. It’s not difficult to see why. “If you see anyone from about 16 to 65 and they’re male, shoot ’em,” wrote Kyle, describing his understanding of the rules of engagement in Iraq. “Kill every male you see. That wasn’t the official language, but that was the idea.”

TC said...

Gary Younge continues:

'The west does not see itself the way others see it; indeed it often does not see others at all. Solipsistic in its suffering and narcissistic in its impulses, it promotes itself as the upholder of principles it does not keep, and a morality it does not practise. This alone would barely distinguish it from most cultures. What makes the west different is the physical and philosophical force with which it simultaneously makes its case for superiority and contradicts it. Therein lies the dysfunction whereby it keeps doing hateful things while expressing bewilderment at why some people hate it. It’s as though we are continually caught by surprise that others have not chosen to ignore their humiliation, pain, anger and sorrow just because we have.

'“The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side,” wrote George Orwell in Notes on Nationalism. “But he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them … Whether such deeds were reprehensible, or even whether they happened, was always decided according to political predilection.” When these contradictions are rooted in history this sophistry can be neatly buried under time. If Osama Bin Laden and Saddam Hussein were once our allies and have become enemies, then so be it. Needs must. What’s done is done. History that is inconvenient conveniently loses its legacy; an unpalatable past loses its connection to an unfortunate present. Reference to genocides and colonialism are dismissed as the fetid grievances of yore. Why keep bringing up old stuff?'

-- Gary Younge, The Guardian 26 January 2015

TC said...



A sensible, civilised and quite intelligent young journalist named Rania Khalek discovered what happens in America now when you call a mass media glorification of racist murder by its real name.

Khalek and another journalist, Max Blumenthal, dared to speak out in separate articles on this disgusting piece of pseudo-"Christian" Hollywood trash -- released, naturally on Christmas day.

The flag-wrapped troll pack went nuts, the foam still palpable around the lips of brave American patriots even as they courageously dashed to close down the most virulent of their threat-source accounts, and start new ones.

In the days following their reviews, both Khalek and Blumenthal were buried under a blizzard of vicious tweets -- those directed at Khalek, notable for the sexual aggression incorporated into the garden variety racism, particularly appalling.

Khalek has shared some of these.

A few samples she presented at The Electronic Intifada:

JSC @TheGr8Wife Follow

Chris Kyle killed men that wouldn't even think twice before raping, torturing and slaughtering you. Fuck you, @RaniaKhalek, ungrateful POS.

DonnaAlphaBitchateer ‏@izzyjsmom

.@RaniaKhalek Move your America hating ass to Iraq, let ISIS rape you then cut your cunt head off,fucking media whore muslim #AmericanSniper

David Ferguson ‏@TRexstasy Jan 3

@izzyjsmom @RaniaKhalek Do kiss your mom with that filthy mouth, ugly lady with Pentecostal hair?


In a longer piece at Alternet, Khalek rendered further evidence, compressing some of the most charming responses to her work:

Dear #ISIS please kidnap .@RaniaKhalek and cut her head off, after all of you and your camels fuck her. #AmericanSniper #ChrisKyle

— DonnaAlphaBitchATeer (@izzyjsmom) December 30, 2014

And Khalek wrote:

According to Karl E McF, "capitalists, cops & soldiers" make my existence possible:

Benjamin Williams, a US Army pilot and proud co-host of Sports Sense Not Required on Blog Talk Radio, expressed his desire to use torture techniques on me and Max:

Self-described "pro-life" "patriot" David Prescott is threatening to release my personal information:

More fun:

@MaxBlumenthal and @RaniaKhalek are disgraces to this entire country. Get their their candy asses out of this proud nation. #Embarrassments
— YOUNG DIESEL (@BigHomieScar) December 30, 2014



I'm "an anti-Semitic"

"Attention whore"

At least "twatwaffle" is creative

@RaniaKhalek hahaha what an unAmerican twatwaffle
— Maritata Reitler (@MaritataReitler) December 30, 2014

"Snot-nosed bitch with a laptop"

"Arab camal"

'Cut Her Head Off': The Shocking Death Threats You Can Receive for Mocking Eastwood's 'American Sniper' Movie

billoo said...

I always thought Gary Younge was British?

Anyway, here's some Lawrence for you, Tom:

'The land of the free! This is the land of the free! Why, if I say anything that displeases them, the free mob will lynch me, and that's my freedom. Free? Why, I've never been in any country where the individual has such an abject fear of his country-men....'

Or, as Brando said more succinctly: "Have you considered any real freedoms?"

TC said...

PS. erin, about those "sturdily constructed pop tunes" -- i.e. Katy Perry's enormously grating exploding shriekathons disguised as pop songs -- I thought perhaps the reviewer's comment was a not very subtle sideswipe at her, er, sturdy construction in a physical sense. If so, a low shot perhaps, but then the woman's hugely successful career is one long low shot -- you know, aim low, aim true. Getting teenage girls to scream while you scream and everybody screams while fireworks go off is as easy as we all scream for ice cream, all the time.

That poor lion or tiger, having to bear up under it.


Yes, it's because GY has been based in this country for the better part of the last two decades, writes regularly for the Nation and now lives with his family in Chicago, that I'd forgot his background.

Caribbean roots, family from Barbados, born in Hitchin, raised in Stevenage, sent off by the Guardian to the Washington Post on a Laurence Stern fellowship in '96, writing largely about US race issues ever since.

Brando and Lawrence could get away with saying such stuff about the US way back when.

Brando owed nothing to anybody. Now of course there could be no such career.

Lawrence could never get away with that particular indulgence in phobia right now. The Brit author fast lane leads straight through the USA. Take the career in fawning of the stylishly insipid Geoff Dyer, for example.

Dickens abhorred the USA when he visited, and didn't feel the need to apologise later.

That was then.

billoo said...

Gotta say: I like Dyer! though his latest-which I have not and will not read-makes me think you're right about the fawning bit. As long as he remained an amateur he was interesting.

TC said...


No one hires me to write any more, and the last time that nearly happened, I was assigned to do a piece on Dyer's Stalker book.

Awful tripe. Soft as a wet sponge. Passages of uxorious admiration of his own wife. Unbelievable comparisons of his wife's appearance with the appearance of a woman glimpsed from afar, in a theatre audience -- the very beautiful actress Natasha McElhone. Dyer seemed unaware of the small fact that not very long before the occasion of his comparative ogling, McElhone had tragically lost her husband and the father of her kids, in a car wreck if I remember correctly.

In any case, it wasn't that particular glaring bit of insensitivity that was the problem -- it was Dyer's increasing inability to talk about anything but himself. This in a way perhaps considered amusing by some... Americans.

Oh right, and Canadians.

The tentative commission came from a magazine (Canadian!) which had, as I would learn, officially proclaimed Dyer to be a genius.

I spent a couple of weeks working on a piece in which I compared Dyer's baroque digressive manner with that of Laurence Sterne, an actual genius.

Dyer came out second best.

The piece was rejected.

I've probably written and published between four and five hundred reviews in publications on several continents. This was the first time I'd ever been made to know so very clearly that, to use language proper to the sort of tilted-field or bought-situation structure that now prevails in the literary world, the fix was in.

So much for all that, and Sayonara.

By the by, talking of insipid, the title of this post was inspired by the top photo, its caption, and the associative link with perhaps the smarmiest pop song ever to be produced by a onetime composer of extremely tough, edgy pop songs.

Lou Reed: Perfect Day

That was of course extremely popular. Wim Wenders put it in a film. It's still on the radio constantly. And 33 million youtubers can't be wrong, can they?

But if it's sheer numbers we're to be respecting -- I'd probably prefer Gangnam Style by whatever the guy's name is. Psy?

Also a sort of "day in the park" kind of theme.

Gangnam Style

Not that the Lou Reed schmaltz tune didn't speak to the throbbing inner schmaltz nodes of other notable pop geniuses.

This version brings out that element, I think:

Lou Reed: Perfect Day, with Bono, Bowie, Elton John, Duran Duran, adorable bunnies and a general saccharine coating of cuteness thick enough to slice with a butter knife

If it were Katy Perry, of course, a walk in the park would have to include exploding land mines, bangalore torpedoes and UXO galore, merely for the atmospherics.

Could Psy be the male avatar of Katy??

billoo said...

Dunno, Tom. Maybe you're right. I like Dyer because he introduced me to Denis Johnson (Jesus's son), the work of Idris Khan (which I saw in London), James Salter's Light Years and Cheever's Journals. And in terms of his writing, I particularly like his essay on 'Mir's syndrome' (which reminded me of a short story by DeLillo) and his essay on Gedney.

I hear what you're saying: his style can seem (and probably is) lightweight, self-indulgent, and sometimes gimmicky or fashionable. I think that that is in part a result of being interested in too many things (and without the genius of a Leonardo maybe it will always come across as superficial?).

As with the 'genius' bit I guess that's what sells! But, yes, think he's a bit of a mixed bag.

TC said...

I think the common thread of interest running through the seemingly disconnected projects is the thread of self-interest, and that not only in the vulgar sense of being coy about being pushy, disingenuous about wanting simply to get ahead, oblique on the theme of the desire to be taken up -- with the same thread being also the fragile connection between them. The promoted self in question being finally not all that... well, interesting, to be honest.

The devotional allegiance to Berger well and good, the gadfly taste-and-sip cultural level elevated enough, the wish to have the fine leather luggage and then the transparent dismay over losing it and finally and conclusively the necessary taking of profit, the turning of the occasion of embarrassment and distress into yet another opportunity for clever, shallow compositional "amusement".

When I see pictures of authors looking appropriately stylish and behaving suitably in finely appointed university halls and clean well lit commissioned postmodern secular spaces, I know I would never again wish to read a word they may have writ.

The myopic and cranky Adorno comment on what happens to Bach when Bach is played in a supermarket is never far from my mind when I think about the culture industry, grinding on inexorably, going on its tours and making its appearances, repeating itself as long as there is a market, chewing over the remnants with noncommittal, self-pleasuring irony as the planet withers and dies.

All that said, I will acknowledge and do respect your views as expressed, Billoo, with the additional disclaimer to authority based on the necessary recognition I'm merely a contrary old coot, and for that reason am allowed to say what I want.

billoo said...


of course you can say what you's your blog! and 'je suis..'


And no need to acknowledge my views.."he's no uncle of mine" (as they say in these parts).

And yes, Berger..of course! Maybe Dyer will never have that concentration and integrity, but I like his second-hand style nevertheless.

Just re-reading his piece on Idris Khan and am still struck by these lines on the Qur'an:

'The result is incomprehensible. And lovely. The patterns bordering each page are turned into a solid black frame so that the book becomes - as is often said of photography - a window on to the world. Inside this frame - rigid, unalterable, definitive - all is in flux. Fixed meaning dissolves in a blazing grey drizzle. Words, as one of Don DeLillo's narrators says when confronted by a swirl of Arabic script, are "design, not meant to be read, as though part of some unbearable revelation".'

TC said...

Yes, that's Dyer at his smart best. But to drag in a postmodern metafiction icon, why the need? Is it that the De Lillo somehow authorizes the perception about Arabic design?

The refigerator magnet collection of bits and pieces of culture that makes up his book of essays (all commissioned pieces, with the proper rhetorical conduct pertinent to such occasions) is like that, throughout.

The marvelous allusiveness and breadth of reference that always stays very close to the surface, showing off but not showing anything you hadn't seen already, if you'd been paying attention.

Not till I'd begun to grasp that no matter the effort I'd never actually be able to get my mind around the geometrical tile design systems -- those famous "Penrose patterns" -- did I understand that the mind/s that created them was beyond the kind of mind we now have, and closed off from it.

Nothing against De Lillo and all, but just saying.

billoo said...

Maybe you're right, Tom. If you're not a specialist then I suppose you'll always be making connections in that particular (loose) way.

Hmm. I'm afraid to go back to his Somme book now!


TC said...

I've done quite a lot of that sort of gadfly writing over the years, myself, but it's all lost now, and I'm thankful for that.

Being facile and witty and then evincing credible sentiment on appropriate occasions, nothing against that, and it's done him well, so more power to him, I guess.

To be honest the first wrinkle of response I felt with him came when I read a piece he'd written about having a small stroke. Anybody who's had a small stroke knows there is no such thing as a small stroke really. So it got his attention. And of course here was something to write about that was almost worthy of an adult. So I laboured through the long piece he had written. An awful lot of words finally. I sensed there was the phantom of a word count lurking behind the arras.

But everybody who's ever had a stroke is always still waiting to read the piece of writing that.... what's the word? helps?

Maybe strokes are like Arabic tile design, but how can that be.

It grows late, that is, early....