Friday, September 28, 2007

On Bill O'Reilly

For those of you who don't know the name, O'Reilly is leading commentator on Fox News in America and a devout follower of all things a Fox News veteran ought to be. So, it probably didn't come as a great surprise when this antediluvian, sorry, in his own words "traditionalist" pundit this week displayed some of the most off-the-cuff, matter of fact racism you're ever likely to hear on air.

After visiting a famous restaurant, Sylvia's, in Harlem with the equally wrong-headed (but for different reasons, obviously) Rev Al Sharpton, O'Reilly recounted his experience to a number of radio talk shows. O'Reilly was charmed by the "very, very nice" and "tremendously respectful" staff and was shocked because he:

"couldn't get over the fact that there was no difference between Sylvia's restaurant and any other restaurant in New York City. I mean, it was exactly the same, even though it's run by blacks."

He was later pleased to report that:

"There wasn't one person in Sylvia's who was screaming, 'M-Fer, I want more iced tea.' You know, it was like going into an Italian restaurant in an all-white suburb. People were sitting there, and they were ordering and having fun. And there wasn't any kind of craziness at all."

What Ron Atkinson delivered in unfettered venom, O'Reilly pulls off with earnest obliviousness. How surprising that these blacks eat, not while swinging from the light fittings, but while sitting at the table using cutlery! O'Reilly later went on to claim that he was making positive observations on the American 'melting-pot'. But the tone of his words clearly suggests surprise at what he encountered and a clear implication that he had assumed the black population were less civilised and refined than white society. Whether Fox will act is doubtful. I sometimes wonder whether it is time well spent arguing with people of O'Reilly's age in the hope that they might change their view. Whatever, he is clearly someone out of touch with the society on which he is expected to commentate.

On a design flaw

What do you see? Four L-shaped buildings or something more sinister? This is a picture of the Coronado US navy base in San Diego, which, rather unfortunately, appears to resemble a swastika when viewed from the air. In fact, when the building was completed in the 70s there was a bit of a to-do about its shape which was eventually forgotten about.

Fast forward 30 years to the age of Google Earth and the 'controversy' has resurfaced. A group of people with apparently not much to occupy their thoughts has forced the US navy into finding money in its 2008 budget for what the Guardian described as "camouflage" and that "Landscaping, rock structures and solar panels should help disguise its shape."

I generally hope, think, that people have better things with which to devote their energies but I'm always wrong.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

On Andrew Meyer

This was probably among the most shocking news stories of the last week or so. Andrew Meyer a 21-year-old student at the University of Florida was "tased" by campus police after attempting to ask John Kerry why he conceded the 2001 presidential election. Meyer was filmed being picked out of the audience by Kerry and invited to ask a question. He approached the microphone and began to put a series of questions to the senator. He was then approached and dragged from the lecture hall by police. As he was restrained on the ground he could be heard pleading "Don't tase me, bro" before he was shot with the electric weapon. In the film below Meyer can be heard screaming and shocked gasps come from other audience members as Kerry continued to address those present. Proportionate force for dealing with an unarmed "serial prankster"?

A clip from a better angle is here.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

On George Orwell

MI5 was convinced that Orwell was a hard-to-categorise subversive because:

"He dresses in a bohemian fashion both at his office and in his leisure hours."