Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Pope Benedict XVI criticizes mass media

In his address given in the piazza di Spagna in Rome, Pope Benedict criticized the media, stating that newspapers, radios, and the television are "colpevoli di intossicare i cuori perché il negativo non viene pienamente smaltito e giorno per giorno si accumula. Il cuore si indurisce e i pensieri si incupiscono," meaning that "they are guilty of intoxicating hearts because the negativity is never fully rid of and day by day it accumulates. The heart hardens and thoughts darken."

I find this quite a harsh comment to make. What does the Pope want to happen? Would he prefer that the media gloss over the news, and not report on the bad things which occur in the world? That would be enabling of ignorance, something that the world definitely does not need. Read the full article at:


(Image taken from the Church Times, http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/uploads/images/10_Pope_Christmas%2520season%25231%2523.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.churchtimes.co.uk/content.asp%3Fid%3D67551&usg=__Q5AUT9e-7ZxSMRMeOKjQzHJkiuI=&h=392&w=538&sz=60&hl=en&start=1&um=1&itbs=1&tbnid=edgYRWL0K-0phM:&tbnh=96&tbnw=132&prev=/images%3Fq%3DPope%2BBenedict%2Bin%2Bpiazza%2Bdi%2BSpagna%26hl%3Den%26rlz%3D1R2ADFA_enUS342%26sa%3DN%26um%3D1)

The hype over Tiger Woods

In a recent piece published in Newsweek magazine, Julia Baird stated that Tiger Woods "is not a politician, priest, or morals crusader. He is an athlete." She then went on to question, "Why do we even pretend that sports-people are models of propriety?" and say that "You'd think, from the response to Woods's plea, that the right to privacy no longer exists for anyone who dares to excel." I can obviously understand her claim that privacy is a forgotten virtue. However, in the case of Tiger Woods, that argument does not hold water for one reason: Tiger Woods is a public figure. He is a renowned golf player and has been in the spotlight for quite some time. Not only does he appear on television when there are golf tournaments, but he has also appeared in various commercials advertising Gillette razors for men. He is, without a doubt, 100%, a public figure, and as we journalism majors know, public figures enjoy less freedom of privacy than the average citizen.
An on-going battle between celebrities and the paparazzi over the right to privacy continues to fester, and almost every time that a legal suit is brought against the paparazzi, the courts usually rule in the favor of the media. Why? Because celebrities and public figures, for the most part, chose to take on that role and thrust themselves in the public eye. I can understand the frenzy surrounding the protection of celebrities' children, for instance, because not only are they minors, they did not choose that life.
Yet Tiger Woods should not be granted any more or any less of a right to privacy than his fellow celebrities and public figures. The media coverage surrounding his alleged affairs is typical for someone of his popularity. Before this scandal emerged, I would venture to say that Tiger Woods led a fairly private life. I rarely heard anything about him. If he wanted to keep it that way, he should have either kept his affairs pristine (as in cover his tracks), or he should have not engaged in affairs at all.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

'Terrorist' in the movie Bruno takes offense


In the 2009 summer blockbuster "Bruno", actor Sacha Baron Cohen interviewed a Palestinian man named Ayman Abu Aita under the guise that he was a German filmmaker and was shooting a movie about the Palestinians. Aita was, however, portrayed and mocked as a terrorist in the movie, and for this reason, he is suing NBC and Baron Cohen for libel and slander, asking $110 million in damages for tainting his reputation.

Personally, I think Aita is going to win this case. If it is true that Baron Cohen duped him into giving an interview, then Baron Cohen is at fault. I saw this movie and enjoyed it a lot, but I had no idea that this was the alleged story behind the interview with the 'terrorist'. Aita also claims that he is no longer part of the terrorist group.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Raphael Saadiq

My stumbling upon this singer could not have come at a more opportune time, seeing as just last night, I posted about my desire for a musical Renaissance. Do yourself a favor and check out Raphael Saadiq. Appearance wise, Saadiq looks like a cross between a young David Ruffin and Malcolm X. The best part is his voice is highly reminiscent of Stevie Wonder's and Smokey Robinson's, although Saadiq's voice is ever so slightly lower than Smokey's.
I recommend the song "Oh Girl" as your introduction to this talented artist, a song which he also re-recorded with Jay-Z. So even the big-time singers are taking notice! The version with Jay-Z is just ok. Saadiq did well on his own, but at least he's getting the attention. The instrumental accompaniment echos the style which was used on the early Jackson 5 singles, specifically "Who's Lovin' You", "Got to Be There", and "Maybe Tomorrow".
In the songs "100 Yard Dash" and "Staying in Love", I can really hear Stevie Wonder in his voice. Though he brings back memories of these great artists, he is nonetheless unique and individual in his own right, and not merely a reverberation of old Motown greats.


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Why we need more '60s in our movies

Allow me to express a concern that I have about music: in my opinion, there will never be another band comparable to those which were alive in the '60s, such as The Who, The Beatles, The Kinks, etc. I frequently wonder whether a song will hit the airwaves that will create as much of a stir as "My Generation" or "Can't Buy Me Love". Thus far, I don't think any contemporary artists have come close to even placing themselves in the same league as the greats, the gods of Rock & Roll. Is it true what they say? That Rock & Roll is dead? I fear the worst- that it is.
It may seem weird, but I frequently become nostalgic about the '60s whenever I listen to the music from that time or when I watch movies such as "Across the Universe", although I have never lived through them. I want to immerse myself in that decade, to feel what they felt and to see what they saw and to hear what they heard. There are striking similarities, however, between that decade and this one. The Vietnam and the Iraq Wars come to mind. Yet the music from that era will never be reproduced nor properly replicated. But that doesn't discourage people from trying, as seen in "Across the Universe".
People love the '60s. We are infatuated with that time. We want to revive the colors, the sounds, the styles, the activism, the love, and the overall ground-breaking events which took place. Am I romanticizing the period?
I am most reminded of this when I watch the movie "Across the Universe", the 2007 masterpiece directed by Julie Taymor. Without sounding too much like an advertisement, I'll resort to giving a short summary: this movie chronicles the love story between two young people, Lucy and Jude, set against the backdrop of the Vietnam War, the counterculture radicalism, free love, to name a few elements. Oh yes, and the entire soundtrack is comprised solely of covers of Beatles' songs, sung by the actors.
Another movie, which I actually saw today, is called "Pirate Radio". A group of DJs gathered on a boat anchored just off the coast of Great Britain, and in an act of rebellion, defied the laws in place and played Rock & Roll on their station 24 hours a day. This movie featured the original songs by the artists, but only in snippets. In all honesty, I wish the movie had included more music and less dialogue, but hey- that's just my opinion. I was happy enough to have the movie open with "All Day and All of the Night" and hear a few precious seconds of Jimi Hendrix.
The golden Rock & Roll classics of the '60s need to reemerge, especially amongst the youth. We need a renaissance, people.

Gaming and Social Networking

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1940668,00.html - an article in Time Magazine that I recently read which made such an impression on me, I had to write about it.

Mark Pincus, founder of the social-game company called Zynga, is a genius. In July of 2007, Pincus founded Zynga, which as of today employs 600 people. And what are they known for? Facebook games. That's right. They make their money by making games for Facebook. Among these games are Farmville, Cafe World, Mafia Wars, YoVille, zyngapoker, and Roller Coaster Kingdom.
Just when I thought Facebook couldn't become any more addictive, Pincus stepped into the ring and proved me very wrong. Again, the man is a genius for being among the first to add games to Facebook.
Now, I quite honestly refuse to take part in any of these games. There have been enough times where I have spent unnecessary amounts of time on Facebook, and I am certain that if I allow myself to play any of these games, it's no doubt that nothing will get done. Hey, I'm only human. Stick something engaging, fun, and relaxing in front of me (like the opportunity to manage my own cafe, as seen in Cafe World), and I'll forget about that essay that's due in a matter of hours.
Here's how the ingenuity part comes into play. Facebook was created to network socially. With the accumulation of friends comes the inevitable accumulation of information about those friends, and easy access into their lives. We are curious creatures. We want to know about that trip our girlfriends took, or the hockey game that our cousin went to, etc. So look at the pictures, message them, write on their wall, anything to stay connected. The obsession to stay connected with people and to ingratiate ourselves in their personal lives is contagious and widespread. Now, couple that with these games, where you can invite friends to play with you. It becomes an excuse to further connect with your friends, and is also a means by which you can play around like a child. But hey! It's ok, because all of your other friends are there, too, farming and planting and pretending to be a Capo in the mafia. According to the article in Time Magazine, the game Fishville "hooked 9 million users in a week". 9 million users in one week! Pincus is clearly on to something. The article went on to say that people "feel safer playing with their friends". It's also probably more fun!
And while you're playing, make sure to check out the ads which congregate in your side bar (I believe they are located on the right-hand side). As stated in the Time article, "ads and virtual goods bring in most of the revenue" to keep this company afloat.
There have nevertheless been a share of scams swimming around. The article explained that a Farmville user named Michelle took a quiz (I suppose on Facebook, or she clicked a link which was advertised on her Facebook page; the article didn't go into detail) which required her to type in her cell phone number to obtain the results of the quiz. She did so, and when she received her bill, noticed that she had been charged a mysterious SMS fee.
Needless to say, not all the kinks have been worked out. But with Zynga's $100 million annual revenue, I'd say they're doing pretty well for themselves.

- All information taken from Time Magazine, from the November 30, 2009 issue, pages 59-60, the article entitled "Zynga Harvests The Cyberfarmer", written by Belinda Luscombe

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Los médicos a bordo del Alakrana

El 2 de octubre, un grupo de piratas somalíes capturó un pesquero vasco, "Alakrana", que viene de la ciudad de Bermeo, del país vasco. Había 36 pescadores a bordo del barco, y ahora, después de 42 días los piratas han decidido de permitir unos médicos en el pesquero para atender a los rehenes.

http://www.eitb.com/news/politic/detail/288275/pirates-allow-doctor-on-board-alakrana/ (en inglés)

http://www.laopinioncoruna.es/mar/2009/11/12/mar-tripulantes-alakrana-requieren-atencion-medica-estres-bordo/334453.html (en español)