Friday, February 27, 2015

Deluded fanatics

The Islamic State continues on its murderous rampage throughout Iraq, Syria, eastern Libya, the Sinai Peninsula of Egypt, and other areas of the Middle East,  North Africa, South Asia. They are truly inhuman. Each day seemingly brings more news of their atrocities. As if this isn't bad enough, now they have ransacked a Mosul museum. They have destroyed artefacts that are thousands of years old, claiming that they are "idolatrous." In like manner, they've destroyed thousands of irreplacable books and manuscripts in Mosul libraries.

Where will this end? As I write this, world leaders seem incapable of finding a solution to stop them. All I know that their mad vision of global domination will never come about, because the one true God always thwarts tyranny. ISIS are deluded fanatics, and it seems that a swift and decisive military action is the only way to deal with them.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

War is hell

Chris Kyle (1974-2013)
Last weekend I finally got around to seeing American Sniper, based on the true story of Chris Kyle. Kyle was the most lethal marksman in American military history, with 160 confirmed kills

Even though it has polarized audiences and critics alike, I thought it was an excellent film. I'm not going to buy into arguments about whether or not the film is pro or anti-war. It impressed me with its realistic depiction of battlefield conditions, and showing the emotional impact of combat upon soldiers. I'm not a pacifist, and believe that sometimes war is necessary. In similar manner to when I recently visited the Australian War Memorial in Canberra, I came away from the film with a greater sense of respect for service personnel and the sacrifices they make.

Postscript: Eddie Ray Routh, the former marine who killed Kyle and another veteran, has just been found guilty of his murder. He will be sentenced at a later date.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Groovy times

Where were you in February 1965? I wasn't even born or thought of. Fifty years ago this week Manfred Mann's single Come Tomorrow entered Melbourne radio station 3DB's Top 40 chart at number 32.

In this clip from Top of the Pops, watch as lead singer Paul Jones tries to perform the song while a girl in the studio audience touches his leg.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Free your mind

In all my years of intermittently writing this blog, this is my first post about Africa. Melbourne has a large Sundanese community; many of them refugees from its most recent civil war. Much of what I read about there is doom and gloom. According to Open Doors, Sudan is one of the world's worst countries for persecution of Christians.

The Guardian reported yesterday on Sudan's literary scene, and the government's attempts to shut it down, deeming it to be subversive. Freedom of expression and information is generally understood to be a human right. Several organisations that produce rankings of the democratic performance of countries consistently rank Sudan very poorly. These include Freedom House, Transparency International, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, and the International Commission of Jurists.

Their scores are aggregated annually by World Audit. World Audit ranks Sudan 144 out of 150 countries on its freedom scale, making it one of the most repressive countries in the world. It's a pretty bad place to be a journalist, writer, and I imagine a librarian, for that matter. It grieves me to read about living conditions there.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Cultural Chernobyl

Moscow's Institute of Scientific Information on Social Sciences (INION) has been ravaged by fire, causing damage to at least some of its collection of 10 million documents, some of which date back to the 16th century.

The cause of the blaze is suspected to be an electrical fault. If these reports are correct, then it clearly shows the need for any library or document repository to have a comprehensive disaster recovery plan in place. Since a large number of these documents may now be lost forever, it also shows why a digital preservation program is so important. Don't think it couldn't happen to you.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

No idea

The sloppily researched article
Yesterday US President Barack Obama delivered his second last State of the Union address. To mark the occasion, I noticed this error in one of my sister's New Idea magazines. New Idea is one of Australia's best selling women's magazines, with a mixture of celebrity news (both real and fabricated), recipes, health, and fashion, dished up with a side serving of occultism in the form of horoscopes and psychic medium telephone hotlines. 

Presumably the pressures of putting out a weekly magazine mean that sometimes production errors slip through unnoticed. I skim read the magazine in five minutes, but noticed this blunder in an article about Oprah Winfrey and her celebrity friends. As you can see, the caption reads that Barack Obama first ran for President in 2009. It is common knowledge that American presidents serve 4 year terms, and that since George Washington, presidential elections have always been held in leap years.

Pardon my snobbery, but New Idea has never been troubled by the need to uphold high standards of print journalism. 

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Pedantry corner awakens

Sloppy spelling is now endemic, extending from print media to all forms of electronic media. According to the Fox News news ticker, US President Barack Obama just "singed" into law a new defence bill. They actually meant "signed."

Obama has a passable singing voice, and he has implemented some controversial measures by bypassing Congress and making executive orders. His political opponents can take solace in the knowledge that the US Constitution does not grant the President the power to make laws by singing them.