Murdoch’s ‘spy’ smearing of British Labour, parody song


This 19 February parody music video from Britain is called Theme song from Greenfingers, a Jeremy Corbyn spy movie.

It is a parody of the theme song Goldfinger of the James Bond film of that name, sung by Shirley Bassey.

It is about the Rupert Murdoch media smearing Labour party leader Jeremy Corbyn as supposedly involved in spying.

The lyrics are:

Greenfingers
He’s the man, the man with an allotment
An informant
Such green fingers
Beckons you to enter his rented plot
The sneaky Trot

A disgruntled opposition backbench MP
He will sell you state secrets over tea
An Eastern Bloc spy can bring down the nation
With a little help from Agent Greenfingers
Steals the heart of darling Diane Abbott
The sneaky Trot

Jeremy Corbyn urged to sue Tory MP who accused him of selling “British secrets to communist spies”: here.

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Steven Spielberg’s film The Post, review


This 27 January 2018 Dutch NOS TV video shows an interview with Steven Spielberg on his new film The Post

I saw this film on 18 February 2018.

The theme of the film is the United States war on Vietnam; more especially, the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

Who were the heroes of the resistance against the Vietnam war in the USA? As this film review by David Swanson says, they were the peace demonstrators protesting in their millions, though government violence killed some of them, like at the Jackson State and Kent State universities massacres. However, in the film, anti-war demonstrators are hardly more than extras. Only once, a demonstrator says a few sentences:

There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part! You can’t even passively take part! And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels…upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop!

What that demonstrator says is part of this speech:

That video from the USA is called Mario Savio “The Machine Speech” on The Sproul Hall Steps, December 2, 1964. As the video says, that speech was in 1964 in California, not in 1971 in Washington what the film is about. That Savio speech was not about the Vietnam war, but about the students’ Free Speech Movement for the right to be in solidarity with the civil rights movement of African American people.

Who was the hero of the publication of the Pentagon Papers? It was Daniel Ellsberg. Ellsberg is not a main character in the film, though more than an extra. The film starts with Ellsberg as a government investigator with United States soldiers in a rainforest in Vietnam. Ever since the early 1950s, United States presidents had lied that the Vietnam war was going hunky dory. But Ellsberg sees how a firefight breaks out, and many US soldiers are injured or killed.

On the way back from Vietnam, Ellsberg is on the same plane as Pentagon Secretary Robert McNamara. A McNamara adviser tells his boss the same official lie about winning the war. Then, McNamara asks Ellsberg for his view, as he is the only person present who has actually seen fighting in Vietnam. Ellsberg says the war is not going well, and cannot be won. I think you are right, McNamara says. Then, the plane lands in the USA. Journalists ask: Mr Secretary of Defence, how is the war going? Very good progress on all fronts, McNamara replies. Ellsberg, just out of the plane, hears this lie; and becomes an anti-war activist. He decides that the secret Pentagon Papers, which expose the successive administrations’ untruths, should be published.

The film says the heroes were Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham and Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee. Though these two indeed made the correct decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, in spite of threats by the Nixon administration, as this review says, neither Graham nor Bradlee were overall unblemished characters.

The film also mentions there were connections between the Washington Post and the political elite: Katherine Graham was a personal friend of Robert McNamara, who advised her on appointing Post directors. Ben Bradlee had been a personal friend of President Kennedy. Connections, damaging the possibilities of criticizing government policies.

This Spielberg film correctly points out that all US presidents, from Truman to Nixon, lied about the Vietnam war. But there are limits to its political criticism. Because this film was produced by 20th Century Fox, owned by Rupert Murdoch?

The film has a happy end … well, a happy almost-end. The Supreme court of the USA decides that the Nixon administration is wrong to persecute the Washington Post and New York Times for espionage for publishing the Pentagon Papers, threatening their publishers and journalists with prison. The statement by Supreme Court judge Hugo Black, supporting press freedom, is read:

In the First Amendment the Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to fulfill its essential role in our democracy. The press was to serve the governed, not the governors. The Government’s power to censor the press was abolished so that the press would remain forever free to censure the Government. The press was protected so that it could bare the secrets of government and inform the people. Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.

However, that happy end is not really the end. As the final scene of the film is about the burglary scandal at the Watergate building, ordered by Richard Nixon.

Unfortunately, it is doubtful whether the Washington Post and similar media will have the same courage now on the many Pentagon wars as they had in 1971 on Vietnam. The Washington Post and similar media today are even more linked to the economic and political establishment than they already were at the time of Katherine Graham and Ben Bradlee. And the Supreme Court today, compared to 1971? President Trump has put a judge there, the founder and ex-president of an organisation calling itself ‘fascism forever’.

Winter Olympics in Korea, music


This 11 February 2018 video shows Kleintje Pils playing at the Winter Olympics in Korea, at the 5,000 meter men speed skating event.

In 2014 at the Sochi, Russia games, they played YMCA.

This 6 February 2018 video from the Netherlands says about itself:

The Dutch mopping orchestra called “Kleintje Pils” (Little Beer) is invited to play at the 2018 winter olympics in PyeongChang, Korea. So they rehearse the [Korean] song “Gangnam Style” in Sassenheim, Holland.

Ancient camel sculptures discovered in Saudi Arabia


Saudi Arabia: High relief of standing dromedary on sandstone spur at center of image. Credit: © CNRS/MADAJ, R. Schwerdtner

From the CNRS in France:

Rock art: Life-sized sculptures of dromedaries found in Saudi Arabia

February 13, 2018

At a remarkable site in northwest Saudi Arabia, a CNRS archaeologist)1 and colleagues from the Saudi Commission for Tourism and National Heritage (SCTH) have discovered camelid sculptures unlike any others in the region. They are thought to date back to the first centuries BC or AD.)2 The find sheds new light on the evolution of rock art in the Arabian Peninsula and is the subject of an article published in Antiquity (February 2018).

Located in the province of Al Jawf in northwest Saudi Arabia, Camel Site, as it is known, was explored in 2016 and 2017 by a Franco-Saudi research team. The sculptures, some incomplete, were executed on three rocky spurs there. Though natural erosion has partly destroyed some of the works, as well as any traces of tools, the researchers were able to identify a dozen or so reliefs of varying depths representing camelids and equids. The life-sized sculpted animals are depicted without harnessing in a natural setting. One scene in particular is unprecedented: it features a dromedary meeting a donkey, an animal rarely represented in rock art. Some of the works are thus thematically very distinct from the representations often found in this region. Technically, they also differ from those discovered at other Saudi sites — frequently simple engravings of dromedaries without relief — or the sculpted facades of Al Ḩijr (Madâ’in Şâliḩ). In addition, certain Camel Site sculptures on upper rock faces demonstrate indisputable technical skills. Camel Site can now be considered a major showcase of Saudi rock art in a region especially propitious for archaeological discovery.

Though the site is hard to date, comparison with a relief at Petra (Jordan) leads the researchers to believe the sculptures were completed in the first centuries BC or AD. Its desert setting and proximity to caravan routes suggest Camel Site — ill suited for permanent settlement — was a stopover where travelers could rest or a site of worship.

Notes:

[1] The archaeologist is a research engineer at the Orient et Méditerranée research unit (CNRS / Sorbonne University / University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne / EPHE / Collège de France). This project involves another researcher in France, from the TRACES research unit (CNRS / University of Toulouse-Jean Jaurès / French Ministry of Culture and Communication).

[2] These discoveries were made within the scope of the Dumat al Jandal archaeological project, directed by researchers Guillaume Charloux (CNRS) and Romolo Loreto (University of Naples L’Orientale), and supported by the SCTH; the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Labex RESMED, part of the French Investissements d’Avenir program; and the French Center for Archaeology and Social Sciences (CEFAS).

Fortunately for the makers of these sculptures, some 2,000 years ago the present regime in Saudi Arabia was not in power.

As Saudi Arabia is not just the only country in the world practicing the death penalty by beheading.

As far as I know, it also is the only country where making snowmen, or snow camels (or snow turtles‘; or snow dinosaurs) is illegal.

Illegal snow camel in Saudi Arabia

European Union Brexit negotiations parody song


This 12 February 2018 parody music video from Britain is called Barnier the Dinosaur – “I Love EU”.

“The European Union‘s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier now comes as a purple dinosaur.”

It is a parody of a song from the United States children’s TV show Barney & Friends. The original song is ‘I love you’, sung by the title character Barney, a purple Tyrannosaurus rex.

The lyrics are:

I love EU, EU love me
We’re the best economy
With a single market and customs union
We won’t miss Britain when they’re gone

I love EU, EU love me
We’re the biggest trade bloc, see
We’re a neoliberal Eurodisney park
Great Britain can get to fuck

Humans better at visual arts than Neanderthals. why?


This video says about itself:

CARTA: Evolutionary Origins of Art and Aesthetics: Art in Neanderthal and Paleolithic Cultures

Did our early ancestors produce art? Or do modern humans only think they did? In this episode of the CARTA series Evolutionary Origins of Art and Aesthetics, join renowned scientists Jean-Jacques Hublin and Randall White in an exploration of the notions of creativity and aesthetics as seen in Neanderthal and Paleolithic cultures. Series: CARTA – Center for Academic Research and Training in Anthropogeny [6/2009]

From the University of California – Davis in the USA:

Neanderthals‘ lack of drawing ability may relate to hunting techniques

Spear-throwing gave Homo sapiens better eye-hand coordination, smarter brains

February 9, 2018

Visual imagery used in drawing regulates arm movements in manner similar to how hunters visualize the arc of a spear. Neanderthals had large brains and made complex tools but never demonstrated the ability to draw recognizable images, unlike early modern humans who created vivid renderings of animals and other figures on rocks and cave walls. That artistic gap may be due to differences in the way they hunted, suggests a University of California, Davis, expert on predator-prey relations and their impacts on the evolution of behavior.

Neanderthals used thrusting spears to bring down tamer prey in Eurasia, while Homo sapiens, or modern humans, spent hundreds of thousands of years spear-hunting wary and dangerous game on the open grasslands of Africa.

Richard Coss, a professor emeritus of psychology, says the hand-eye coordination involved in both hunting with throwing spears and drawing representational art could be one factor explaining why modern humans became smarter than Neanderthals.

In an article recently published in the journal Evolutionary Studies in Imaginative Culture, Coss examines archaeological evidence, genomics, neuroscience studies, animal behavior and prehistoric cave art.

New theory of evolution

From this, he proposes a new theory for the evolution of the human brain: Homo sapiens developed rounder skulls and grew bigger parietal cortexes — the region of the brain that integrates visual imagery and motor coordination — because of an evolutionary arms race with increasingly wary prey.

Early humans hunted with throwing spears in sub-Saharan Africa for more than 500,000 years — leading their increasingly watchful prey to develop better flight or fight survival strategies, Coss said.

Some anthropologists have suggested that throwing spears from a safe distance made hunting large game less dangerous, he said. But until now, “No explanation has been given for why large animals, such as hippos and Cape buffalo, are so dangerous to humans”, he said. “Other nonthreatening species foraging near these animals do not trigger alert or aggressive behavior like humans do.”

Drawn from earlier research on zebras

Coss’ paper grew out of a 2015 study in which he and a former graduate student reported that zebras living near human settlements could not be approached as closely before fleeing as wild horses when they saw a human approaching on foot — staying just outside the effective range of poisoned arrows used by African hunters for at least 24,000 years.

Neanderthals, whose ancestors left Africa for Eurasia before modern human ancestors, used thrusting spears at close range to kill horses, reindeer, bison, and other large game that had not developed an innate wariness of humans, he said.

Hunting relates to drawing

“Neanderthals could mentally visualize previously seen animals from working memory, but they were unable to translate those mental images effectively into the coordinated hand-movement patterns required for drawing”, Coss writes.

Coss, who taught drawing classes early in his academic career and whose previous research focused on art and human evolution, used photos and film to study the strokes of charcoal drawings and engravings of animals made by human artists 28,000 to 32,000 years ago in the Chauvet-Pont-d’Arc Cave in southern France.

The visual imagery employed in drawing regulates arm movements in a manner similar to how hunters visualize the arc their spears must make to hit their animal targets, he concludes.

These drawings could have acted as teaching tools. “Since the act of drawing enhances observational skills, perhaps these drawings were useful for conceptualizing hunts, evaluating game attentiveness, selecting vulnerable body areas as targets, and fostering group cohesiveness via spiritual ceremonies”, he writes.

As a result, the advent of drawing may have set the stage for cultural changes, Coss said. “There are enormous social implications in this ability to share mental images with group members.”

Philippine eagles, new film, trailer


This video says about itself:

7 February 2018

The trailer for the Cornell Lab of Ornithology‘s new film BIRD OF PREY. We invite you to learn more about the film at our website or like us on Facebook.

The film follows a nesting pair of Philippine Eagles in the wild and documents the ongoing conservation efforts of the Philippine Eagle Foundation.