December 14, 2004

Sing along with Louis

Back in the Fifties, Louis Farrakhan used to be a calypso singer. He even recorded some albums.

Surprised? You will be - the folks at Fade to Black have not only tracked down three of his recordings, they've digitized them and made them available for your online listening pleasure.

So now, you too can sing along with Louis.


Festive felafel

Today, the Big Fella (he's 9) is having a Christmas party at school.

Other children bring in party-size bags of chips, a packet of mince pies or some sandwiches. Not the Big Fella, no store-bought party food for him. Every year, he takes in a huge tray of felafel, pita bread and salad.

Which means that rather than stay in my sickbed this morning, I'm up at seven making felafel. And later in the week, if the last two years are any guide, I'll be getting requests for the recipe from parents and teachers.

1 lb. canned chick-peas (drained)
1 large onion, chopped
2 tbs. finely chopped parsley
1 egg
1 tsp. salt
1/2 to 1 cup breadcrumbs or fine bulgur (crushed wheat)
1 tsp. ground coriander or cumin
1 tsp. dried hot peppers
1 tsp. garlic powder
vegetable oil (for frying)

Combine chick-peas with onion. Add parsley, lightly beaten egg and spices. Mix in blender. Add breadcrumbs until mixture forms a small ball without sticking to your hands. Form chick-pea mixture into small balls about the size of a quarter (one inch in diameter). Flatten patties slightly and fry until golden brown on both sides. Drain falafel balls on paper towels.

Serve individually with toothpicks as an hors d'oeuvre or as a sandwich filling with chopped tomato, cucumber, radish, lettuce, onion, hummus and/or tehina inside pita bread. Makes about 24 falafel balls.
The thing is - I don't think they'd be so keen if they knew where I got the recipe.

December 13, 2004

Sick of being sick

Different year, same illness. Bear with me, I'm going to blog through this one.

But probably not today.

December 09, 2004

A nation in denial

From the Jerusalem Post via Norm Geras:
Six decades after the mass extermination of six million Jews in the Holocaust by Nazi Germany, more than 50 percent of Germans believe that Israel's present-day treatment of the Palestinians is similar to what the Nazis did to the Jews during World War II, a German survey released this weekend shows.
I have never been tempted to hold modern day Germans responsible for their nation’s history but reading stuff like this just makes me want to rub their noses in it.

Eve Garrard equates this kind of thing with Holocaust denial. She's right, of course. But worse than that, as Melanie Phillips notes, for some it provides a retrospective justification for the Holocaust.

December 08, 2004

Christmas shopping

Every year in December, I listen out for the hints that Mac throws me about what she’d like for Christmas. By the 23rd, I have a mental list a mile long. Unfortunately, by the time I set out on Christmas Eve to do my seasonal shopping, my mind has gone a complete blank and I end up buying her something completely unsuitable.

This year, in an attempt to ameliorate the effect of my cognitive deficiencies, Mac has written out a couple of lists and pinned them to the wall on my side of the bed.

As a testament to Mac’s eclectic musical tests (and a personal reminder that maybe I shouldn’t leave everything until the last minute this year) - here’s a list of the music CDs she’d like.

Live in Manchester and Dublin – Rodrigo Y Gabriela
Smile – Brian Wilson
Cruzando El Rio – Radio Tarifa
Alan Lomax’s Southern Journey Remixed – Various Artists
Amassakoul – Tinariwen
Girls With Guitars – Various Artists
Impossible Broadcasting – Transglobal Underground
The Cape Verdean Blues – Horace Silver
Drill A Hole In That Substrate And Tell Me What You See – Jim White

Mac tells me this may not be the final list - it seems the jury is still out on Van Lear Rose by Loretta Lynn and Jack White. Anyone got any views on that one?

By the way, if your wondering where Mac gets her picks from, she's been listening to Mystery Train.

Stereotypical prejudices

The last vestiges of my American accent disappeared sometime in my twenties (I’ve spent far too long in England), which makes for some interesting conversations when I run into people who give voice to strong anti-American sentiments.

I usually let them spout on for a while before politely mentioning that I’m an American. Depending on their personality type, this either enrages or deflates them, and the conversation can take a number of interesting turns. But sometimes I get a response that leaves me completely dumbfounded.

A while back, we had a couple of friends over for dinner. During the meal, one of them started criticizing my fellow citizens for being “fat, Bible-thumping morons”. When I pointed out the difficulties inherent in generalizing about a nation as diverse as America, his reply was: “Oh, I’m only talking about the white ones.”

I was reminded of this incident earlier in the week when, on being told that I was from the US, a guy says to me, “Well, you don’t look American.” I have no idea what kind of stereotypical image of Americans this guy carries around in his head – maybe I’m not fat enough for him.

Quick, somebody super size me!

December 07, 2004

Uncommon courage

In 2002, Mukhtar Mai, a Punjabi woman, was gang raped by four men on the orders of a Pakistani tribal council. Such violence against women is commonplace in Pakistan and many rape victims, shamed and ostracized by their communities, commit suicide – not Mukhtar Mai.

As the BBC reports, not only did she take the unusual step of taking the case to court but also, having won compensation, she used the money to set up two schools in her village.

Mukhtar lives under constant police protection because of the threats that have been made against her, but she refuses to be silenced.
"School is the first step to change the world," says Mukhtar. "It's always the first step that causes the most trouble, but it's the start of progress."
If you want to know more about Mukhtar's work or would like to offer support, she now has a website and e-mail address.

December 06, 2004

Remembering Auschwitz

The BBC is to screen a six part series on Auschwitz to coincide with Holocaust Memorial Day. Richard Ingrams, writing in this week’s Observer, decries the need for it:
the BBC justifies the series with solemn talk about the need to educate the British public which, it claims, is ignorant about the Holocaust, a likely tale in view of the fact that it is referred to on news bulletins and current affairs programmes at every opportunity.
Ingrams must watch a whole different set of news and current affairs programs to me, but that’s by the by. As regards ignorance of the Holocaust, the BBC recently released the results of a survey which showed that nearly half of British people had never heard of Auschwitz, a fact of which Ingrams seems unaware. Still, he later concedes that some people may be educated by the programs but claims that “a great many more will be excited while others will be frightened and disturbed.”

Hmm, “frightened and disturbed” I can understand, but “excited” – what kind of people does Ingrams mix with? Probably the kind who quote Hitler approvingly, as Ingrams does later in the article under the sub-heading: “Hitler was right”.

That phrase is not something I ever expected to read in the Observer, especially in an article that deals with the Holocaust.

By the way, if you're Jewish and you feel like writing to complain, don’t bother – Ingrams won’t read it.

December 05, 2004

Modern Britain

A group of travelers has moved on to the waste ground opposite our house, there's a guy selling heroin in the street and you can buy cocaine in my kids' schoolyard.

Twelve years ago we moved out of the inner city to get away from drugs and guns and gangs.

What do you do when the problem follows you?

December 04, 2004

Fisk of the week

Jeff Jarvis fisks yesterday's NYT op-ed by FCC Chairman Michael Powell.


Day by day

It's been a few days now, but for those of you who still don't know - Chris Muir is back at the drawing board.

Plagiarism punished

A few days ago, I posted a link to an article in Frontpage Magazine by Alexis Amory that I’d found at Zacht Ei (one of my go-to blogs for information on the situation in the Netherlands).

As blogger Arjan Dasselaar made clear at the time, part of the article was lifted verbatim from one of his earlier posts at Zacht Ei.

Amory has since apologized for the incident but the story doesn’t end there, Rogier van Bakel at Nobody’s Business wasn’t satisfied with Amory’s apology and so took the matter up with Frontpage editor David Horowitz. As a result, Amory won’t be writing for Frontpage Magazine anymore.

Here’s Rogier’s take on it all.

December 03, 2004

Dow deception

The BBC has given extensive coverage to the twentieth anniversary of the Bhopal disaster. The coverage included a BBC World broadcast this morning in which a representative of Dow Chemicals revealed that the company has now accepted responsibility for the disaster.

Unfortunately for the BBC, the story is false and BBC World is now claiming that it was the victim of an "elaborate deception".

We're not told how "elaborate" the deception was but, reading between the lines, it's tempting to conclude that this is just another example of sloppy journalism at the BBC.

This Times article has more details, including the identity of the hoaxer.

Independently clueless

Scott Burgess at the Daily Ablution adds the Independent's Terence Blacker to the list of journos who've come out against blogging.

Blacker thinks that blogs are "socially harmful" because they foster "the delusion that professionalism is a sort of myth used by the powerful to protect their own interests".

OMG! I'm deluded, and it's all the fault of those damned bloggers!

December 01, 2004

Dutch dilemma

From a Dutch woman, quoted in Frontpage Magazine, referring to the murder of Theo Van Gogh and its aftermath:
“The question is no longer how we stop the madness, but how we survive the madness.”
Thanks to Zacht Ei for the link.