Helemaal Dancehall — the video

Quick video mashup of my Helemaal Dancehall track from yesterday.

New oxymoron: Legitimate rape

The outrage following congressman Todd Atkins’ comments about “legitimate rape” was racked up again when he corrected himself (sic):

I was talking about forcible rape. I used the wrong word.

For those latecomers, the controversy began with an interview in which Atkins’ compounded his oxymoronic thinking with the purely moronic:


During the interview for KTVI-TV on Sunday, Mr Akin was asked about his no-exceptions view on abortion, a highly charged issue in the US, and on whether he would like abortion to be banned even if the pregnancy was the result of rape.

He replied: “It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that is really rare.

“If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

“But let’s assume that maybe that didn’t work or something: I think there should be some punishment, but the punishment ought to be of the rapist, and not attacking the child.”

(Source: BBC News, Video courtesy FOX 2 KTVI)

Note that Atkins sits on the House Committee on Science, the one that believes in magical ladyparts and leprechauns.

Atkins’ clarification today is not intended to be a correction in meaning — it’s just replacing one offensive oxymoron with another, possibly worse –, rather it is a crude attempt to reattach himself to Romney leadership that had tried, half-heartedly, to distance itself from his statements. “Forcible rape” was the term used in a bill, co-sponsored by Atkins and (wait for it, Romney VP nominee) Paul Ryan, from last year that in name attempted to block taxpayers funding abortions, but in fact tried to redefine rape by excluding cases where the victim might be under the influence of alcohol or drugs … or be mentally handicapped.

How does one even begin to respond to this?

Perhaps satire is the only way:

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Rape Victim Abortion Funding
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor & Satire Blog The Daily Show on Facebook

John Barry is forever

The composer John Barry died yesterday. He was one of my favourite film composers, close behind Lalo Schifrin at number one. Barry’s music, especially between the mid 60s to early 70s, was exceptional; some of the soundtrack albums, for example Goldfinger, stand on their own merit as “concept” albums, and can exist independently of the original movie.

It is the Duane Eddy-style twang guitar riff that will be most associated with John Barry, recurring in the opening theme of every James Bond movie. Long-time band member Vic Flick was responsible for the unique guitar sound, although it was Barry who built the creeping orchestral theme around the guitar. (Actually, the ownership of the “James Bond theme” goes to Monty Norman … how complicated!)

Barry’s Bond work would have been enough to ensure his place in the pantheon of 20th century composers, but there are other tracks that are worthy of mention, my own favourite being the theme tune to that lame TV series with proto-Bondman, Roger Moore and Tony Curtis: The Persuaders.

In its report on Barry’s death today, the BBC mentioned only Robbie William’s recycling of You only live twice , but in my opinion, the best homages to Barry were by Fatboy Slim and Sneaker Pimps.

The complete list of samplers testifies to the strength of Barry’s legacy, although I feel that nothing, not even Dr D., can replace the original opening theme to The Persuaders.

The later years, replete with Oscars for Born Free, Dancing with Wolves and Out of Africa, leave no impression on me (I’ve never been interested in even seeing the movies)  — the lush strings wiped out the earlier innovations of cimbalom and the plunky Fender VI bass. Too bad.

Let’s enjoy the best of what he had to offer:

A little light relief

We are just entering a two-week period of exams and already my desk is beginning to overflow with papers to grade and regrade. While invigilating one exam this morning, filled with familiar faces of students taking the same exam for the nth time, I was inspired (actually the opposite) to make a little satire of the exam system.

Here is the result:

Sadly this animation is no longer available. I used Xtranormal to make it it, but forgot to save a copy off-site. When Xtranormal went down, my animations disappeared.  :cry:

Life imitates art

Last night’s news was dominated by coverage of the Dutch royal family’s visit to our proud little city on Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag). Security was ratcheted up to DEFCON 1 as a result of the car attack on the family during last year’s celebrations in Apeldoorn.

Mr B went into town with our oldest two, and had a hard time getting near the market place. Hundreds of police had been bussed in to block every winding lane in the city centre. And those who had gotten through were corralled into pens that prevented them from following the royalty after they walked passed. The TV news showed a couple of vox pops where
locals claimed they agreed with the high security measures, but Mr B heard plenty of disgruntled voices behind the barricades.

By the time I got there — children #3 and #4 have overlapping naps which take up a large part of the day — the royals had left, as had most of the visitors, which just left lots of police officers standing around.

Police overmanning on Queen's Day
No loitering!: Police ambush squad spring into nonchalance as suspect approaches, the only person not wearing orange on Queen's Day in the Netherlands.

Going back to the news last night, the final item caught my attention: it appeared to be a very realistic first-person shooter game, à la Modern Warfare 2, with commandos rappelling from a helicopter onto a ship, and stalking round corners and obstacles looking for targets. In fact it was a video that had just been released by the Dutch Ministry of Defence and showed Dutch marines storming a cargo ship that had been hijacked by Somali pirates. The images were captured from a helmet camera, with a viewpoint that put the viewer in the thick of the action. It was a striking example of how game technology has permeated our perception of events, a contemporary case of anti-mimesis, as described by Oscar Wilde: “Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life.”

See for yourself.

By the time I saw the news round midnight, the video had already been blogged and a rough translation provided for the team leader’s commentary:

The marine boarding team received orders to liberate the fifteen crewmen of the merchant Taipan, which was hijacked by ten pirates. The captain and crew of the German-flagged Taipan had locked themselves in their safe room, from where they called for assistance.

The sensor-operator deploys the fast ropeline while the team leader provides covering fire with the MAG GPMG.

Note the ‘landing zone’ of the marines; enough cover to prevent hostile fire, yet not too much to obstruct cover fire. In that respect they were lucky that it was a container ship, and not some bulk-cargo carrier.

Approaching the bridge, they detained six pirates hiding at the lower deck. The marines ordered the pirates to climb through the shot window. Two more pirates were found hiding at the aft deck, and subsequently arrested. A ninth was found on the deck above, and summoned to come down.

A three-man team secured the bridge, and from there they went through the rest of the ship. The marine team-leader further comments on the ravage the pirates caused in their search for valuables, which included shooting up doors and cabinets which were locked.

The weapons the pirates used ranged from handguns, AK-47s, and RPG-7s.

Once the ship was secured the crew of the Taipan came out of the safe room.
(Translation source: Marcase)

The team leader adds that the crew gave them a round of applause, “They were really happy to see us.”

I bet.