Saturday, March 31, 2007

Sports: Horse Races: World's best assemble in Dubai for leading sports event

This afternoon on the nationwide American TV channel ABC, I watched the Dubai World Cup, which consisted of several events of magnificent horses racing, jockeys astride seeking the large purses offered. Quite stirring to see the great beasts in top condition going for it, of course prodded by their masters.

As a viewing experience, I was disappointed that the zoom-in lenses weren't used more often; also pre-race and post-race close-ups, still-standing and promenades would have been greatly appreciated. Maybe in the future, as the local TV arrangements fine-tune they camera work for the events of what promises to become, if not already, the premier location of world horce-racing sports.

Sports > Horse Racing, by Sportikos

By the way, Dubai is a Gulf State emirate and as a Muslim-ruled country, it does not allow betting within the country. Dubai is in a major buidling boom, both on land and in the Gulf where islands have been created. One is a sea-surrounded hotel, approached underwater, I believe; that facility uses its helicopter-roof as a major tennis tournament.

Reporting on the key event of the day, Associated Press' Jim Krane gives us a glimpse of the competion:

Dubai, United Arab Emirates – Call it sibling rivalry at its most lucrative.

Dubai ruler Sheik Mohammed watched as his unbeaten horse Discreet Cat finished last in the world's richest horse race Saturday, while his brother's horse Invasor ran off with the $6 million Dubai World Cup.

Invasor, the 2006 Horse of the Year, avenged his only previous defeat and ran a thrilling duel with Premium Tap, a horse owned by Saudi King Abdullah.

Trained by Kiaran McLaughlin, who spent nearly 10 years as a trainer in Dubai for the ruling Maktoum family, Invasor took charge down the stretch and won by about two lengths.

“It's an awful good year in one night to win in a $6 million race,” a grinning McLaughlin said after capturing the showcase event on the $21.25 million card, the richest in the sport.

Even tho the competitive racing of horses, at least at Dubai, did not have the visual razzamatazz that accompanies a NASCAR race, a viewer at the track or on TV enters another dimension with live beasts, even given the go-faster prods, than one experiences in the mechanical boxes on wheels. I think I enjoy viewing the horses even more than human athletes racing to the finish line. Can't say why exactly, but I discovered that sports preference in myself during today's telecast from Dubai.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Technics: Internet/Computers: Vern Seward has some complaints about Apple softaware "Mail.app"

Mac Observer internet mag carries the confuzzle-ated twists and turns that critic Vern Seward discovered as he attempted to line up certain expectations and what he thawt was implied by using both Apple's webmail on DotMac (.Mac) in sync with Apple's software application for your home or business computer, aptly called Mail.app (or, more simpy, you guessed it, Mail (which itself can be confusing if you are using or acquainted with other mail applications, or even merely talk with users of such others.

Technotes, by Technowlb

Vern calls his piece Mail Weirdness. If you're interested in many things Apple, and weirdness, you mite want to read this piece thru in its entirety. I did, and found myself intrigued, but at times a wee lost in the the labyrinth of Apple/Mac's obfuscatingly complex computer mail technics.

More later ... present text was cross-posted from Technowlb's new Technics blog.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Music Video: Greg Pattillo: An inspector-gadget remix of beatboxing flute on theme from Super Mario Brothers ... enjoy!

YouTube says this regarding its current top video (3.25 minutes): "Beatboxing Flute player Greg Pattillo ... with a twist like nothing you've heard (unless you've been wandering through Washington Square park [NYC] and heard him there)." The ellipsis in my foregoing sentence deletes the words "inspector gadget" because I don't know what this techterm means, but maybe you do. Added to the freedomworksfilms repetoire on YouTube on Jan19,2k7, in two months this experimental-music creation has now been viewed 3,451,174 times, commented upon by 13214 people, and favourited in 45,716 subscribers online accounts.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Movies: Propaganda: New biography of Hitler's film-maker Leni Riefenstahl & fascist aesthetics

Stephen Bach has written a new book on Leni Riefenstahl, Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl (Alfred A. Knopf, 400 pages, US$30). His study is reviewed by Juliet Lapidos in Forward, "The Real Leni Riefenstahl" (Mar23,2k7).

LR, as I shall call her, was "Hitler's filmmaker" who claimed, says Lapidos, "she was an apolitical artist who knew nothing of the Holocaust." Bach, however, smashes this claim (as well as many others made by LR) with new documentation that renders the book historiogrphically well-researched. LR made the propaganda movie Triumph of the Will glorifying Hitler at the 1934 Nuremburg Rally of his military forces; I'd long ago seen the movie's unshortened original version, copies of which were rare at the time of my viewing it in the screening room of a Toronto old-films collector, Reg Hart--altho now TV has made snipped versions more accessible to those who bother. It must be said that this movie becomes quite tedious in its monumentalism, actually, and its repetition (some of which is dishonest in that it gives a sense of larger numbers than was actually the case at the event, as big as it was). Lapido:

Using new primary sources, Bach proves that Riefenstahl was not compelled to make “Triumph of the Will,” as she maintained until her death in 2003. Rather, she specifically requested permission to direct the film that institutionalized the so-called “fascist aesthetic[s].” Furthermore, although Riefenstahl was adamant about the purely documentary nature of her work, Bach argues convincingly that “Triumph” is not a straightforward depiction of the 1934 Nuremberg Rally.
Riefenstahl had written so much about herself, as a postwar justification of her role in the cultural war of the Third Reich, in her 700-pages of autobiography (1987), that Bach's sleuthwork in previously unexamined original LR papers allows him to capsize self-exonerating, self-aggrandizing self-portrayals, one by one.
Bach also puts to rest the notion that Riefenstahl knew nothing of the racial policies that led to the Final Solution. After Hitler invaded Poland, Riefenstahl obtained war-correspondent status and traveled to Konskie, where she witnessed the murder of unarmed Jewish civilians. In September 1942 she visited Maxglan, a Gypsy internment camp, and requisitioned 23 prisoners to serve as unpaid extras in “Tiefland,” an epic film financed by the Reich.

Riefenstahl, it seems clear, was not a virulent antisemite. As she mentioned whenever the opportunity arose, she had Jewish friends, colleagues and even, in her youth, a Jewish lover. Bach makes the case that Riefenstahl was not motivated by political or racist zeal. Rather, she glorified Hitler because she was an opportunist with no moral compass. It was her lifelong ambition to become a famous artist — and if cozying up to the F├╝hrer was her best chance at fame, then ethics be damned.
One work of LR's that I really liked, to be honest myself, was her large-size photobook on the Nuba people from south Sudan and bordering Kenya. Decades ago I had read some astute dialectician who argued that her photowork in that volume was racist, but I remained utterly unconvinced.

According to Lapidos, LR was not a virulent antsemite, perhaps not a virulent racist either (I add), but "a pathological narcissist who used her talents to lionize Hitler and thus ease the path of the Nazi regime." Thus, advancing her own standing as an artist and tailoring her self-expression in horridly opportunistic ways.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

TV: Movie: The Chronicles of Riddick was not as ridiculous as expected

Yesterday eve and again tonite, I watched the 2-eveningsful scifi epic starring Vin Diesel, The Chronicles of Riddick (2004). Vin has an animal-eyes thing, and can't stand the lite, especially can't stand the glare of day lite. He's a Furian. The marathon was billed as "The fite of evil against evil," so I assumed that animal has something ontologically to do with evil. Thandi Newton and Judy Drench (she's an Elemental, so she glides ephemerally).

But in the moral shakedown of these Riddick filmic events, Vin was on the side of good after all, with his chief opponent the godlike leader of the Necromongers (yes!, the deathmongers who had surrendered their souls and adopted a religion against all religions, a secularistic anti-religion so absolute it had become a religion itself).

TV Movies, by Audiovisiotor

The extremes of weather, climate, environments natural and unnatural, with shifting landscapes to complement shapeshifters all added to the superhero cartoonic quality of the scenes thru which Vin travels, mostly at h+ speed.

Want a plot summary? See Daniel Williamson's write-up.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

TV: Series Watching award-winning action series 24's character Jack Bauer reaches saturation-point, as formulas lose lustre

The saturation broadcasting of Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer has made the younger Sutherland less known than his character and his weekly show 24. The episodes of the show however have begun to blur into one another--counterterrorism, CIA and FBI renegades devoted to conspirators even h+er up, enemies bent on the destruction of America by bombs and mass-epidemic virii. The show seems to have worked thru its previous monotonous preoccupation with Arab/Muslim conspirators in the USA. But chases, explosions, illnesses, and narrow escapes continue to litter relentlessly the plot, in what is now becoming a nauseating routine. Tonite's episode, like recent ones, has for its chief enemies (besides internal oldstock American traitors) antgonists are bearing Slavic-sounding names (which echo the entire Cold War). In any case, it's time for this viewer to look for something less repetitious and predictable when I'm up for a breathless action flick on the tube each week. Trouble is, Jack Bauer and 24 remain far superiour to most other plot-driven fare. Ho hum, nothing new under the sun, or in the late n+t TV hours.


TV: Internet: New media combos open spaces for new unregulated contents, genres, and communications disciplines

An important TV article by Neil Midgley is slanted by the headline-writer toward a mere battle of the giants, "BBC plans to compete online with iTunes" (Mar7,2k7), Telegraph (UK). But there are several other facets of the story that widen out into major shifts around technical changes and organizations, to changes in content-trends where new opportunities for freedom of expression are opened by the media-combos involved.

BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, has unveiled ambitious plans to compete with music and video download service iTunes.

John Smith, BBC Worldwide's chief executive, laid out a far-reaching commercial vision for the BBC's new iPlayer software.

The iPlayer has been developed by the BBC itself, and is expected to be approved by the BBC Trust later this spring. It will fulfil a public-service remit by giving UK licence-fee payers a seven-day "window" to catch up with BBC shows online, but Mr Smith said that BBC Worldwide also wanted to generate revenue with advertiser-funded content and pay-for downloads.

Controversially, Mr Smith invited other broadcasters to participate in the iPlayer, comparing it to an online version of Freeview or BSkyB's digital satellite platform.

The move is just the latest announcement from the BBC about its new media ambitions. Last week, it put some of its clips on video-sharing website YouTube, and it has announced that it is working with IBM on a video-based search facility for its library of children's programmes.

On-demand services from broadcasters like Channel 4 and Sky have as yet failed to capture the public imagination, but this online territory has already been staked out by a rag-bag of niche players.
TV, by Audiovisiotor
"We're trying to break away from the established idea of what a television channel is," said Iain Dale, from www.18doughtystreet.com, a video website about Centre-right politics. "We have shows like World Wide Widdecombe, but we have also asked Peter Tatchell to create video for us."

Opinionated websites rely on the fact that the internet, unlike television, is completely unregulated. "If we were on Sky, we'd be bound by Ofcom's impartiality rules," said Mr Dale.

The freedom of the internet has also attracted other opinionated groups, particularly Christians. Premier Christian Media Trust has expanded from its Premier Radio base to offer evangelical TV on demand over the internet.

The buzz jargon differentiates between "lean forward" and "lean back" video content. Short clips, like those on YouTube, are the kind for which users "lean forward" to their computers. Traditional television, particularly entertainment, is intended for viewers to "lean back" on their sofas.

"There are different disciplines for programmes for the internet," said Nigel Dacre, of Ten Alps Digital, which operates www.public.tv, a website offering public sector, business and training videos. "You want to avoid complicated graphics and lengthy opening title sequences, and you include fewer separate sequences."

Newspapers such as The Daily Telegraph are also using short videos to drive traffic to their websites.

Clive James, the veteran broadcaster, started making a chat show in his living room and showing it on www.clivejames.com. "But on the internet, you pay for every signal you send," said James. "If you have too many viewers, you can die of success very quickly."

James has therefore taken to forging "alliances". His chat show, Clive James Talking, is still made in his living room, but has now made the reverse transition and has its first broadcast on digital TV channel Sky Arts.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Technics: Google Blogger: One step forward, two steps back, to the X power

Google has gained fame, and now notoriety, upon the purchase and re-jigging of the blog host, Blogger thru which refWrite Backpage is published. In recent months, the re-jigging has included a Blogger Beta which lately has been transformed into Blogger Beta or New Blogger.

When a Blogger-user follows the corporate lead, and converts over to New Blogger, certain new features become available. A small feature has been relevant to refWrite's overall blogging vision and strategy. We've wanted to advance the vision of a multi-member work-community for reformational journalism online in the blog-medium. That's now possible but tedious to establish; it just ain't easy, not inviting.

First, to bring a second blog-poster into the picture, you need to join blogger with an email address distinct from your new Google email addres (functionally, Google seems to want all of these prefereably to be be, you guessed it, Gmail addresses; something hard to attain without separate computers). In any case, to post a blog-entry to a given page, like rW4, a blogger has to go thru the maze of signing-into Old Blogger, get re-routed from there to another page for signing-in to New Blogger, only to then have the username and password rejected, with a note appearing in fine print to click on, if you want to enter as a different user.

Of course, as in my case, you're still you--but you don't get a list of your various user names where you can click the one to use for a given blog-entry post. Instead you have innumerable steps to undertake before you can get your alternative username and password signed-in for purpose of presenting to you a fresh posting-composition page, that will come out in the blogosphere for your readers, but under a different name following "Posted by ..." at the bottom of the blog-entry.

This anti-blogger rigamoroll is contrived to allow integration around Google's own poorly-conceived needs. But what you want is integration around you as the center of your various Google-served bloggerly activities. There are several reasons why a blogger may want to use three or four different names following "Posted by ..." on a given page, or set of inter-linked pages. Some of these have to do with classifying the different kinds of content regarding which a blogger may be actively blogging. In my case, for years I blogged with a signature line in each blog-entry, differing the signatures acccording to the category of the content. I used the semiotic mark "--" followed by the blogger name appropriate to that content.

But always all the posted blog-entries were further designated by Blogger on its own terms (contradicting mine and confusing my readers). Then, upon purchase of Blogger, the Google machinery kicked in with what in the end amounts to the the same old, same old "Posted by ..." single signifer. I respnded to a new feature, that did a little something along the lines I wanted, but at considerable cost.

Technotes, by Technowlb

When I left Blogger behind to become part of Blogger Beta by Google, I got the chance to use my DotMac email addresses, instead of only the newly required Beta address at Gmail: but only if I took on all the arbitrary rigamaroll involved in signing-in differently to one or another of my posting names newly establised with Google Blogger.

(I only mention in passing two other reasons for strongly preferring multiple user names and email addresses: branding; and fictional work woven into the texture of a given blogpage. Branding by use of a distinct posted-by name that is indigenous to a given content, helps to build name-recognition for that kind of content attributed to that particular name, while a different posted-by-name becomes associated strictly to a different kind of content. There could be perhaps two or three or four kinds of content (each kind with its distinct brand/username) interwoven into a single timeline of posts on a page devoted to those posts.

The fictional element would occur when the different posted-by names on a given blog-page or set of inter-linked pages are laced with characterizations, whereby one "character" emerging around a particular posted-by name may include a passing comment about a different "character" (bearing a different posted-by name), so that a perhaps quite-thin but real and perhaps fascinating buildup of distinct blog-literary characters occurs as you blog about different contents that may be diversely juridical, political, economic, pisteutic (faithic / explicitly religious), scientific, aesthetic, technic, etc.)
However, the problems of being enmeshed in the rigours of using Google's New Blogger are compounded when one finds use of other features of Google's Web2.0 suite, whether directly in conjunction with New Blogger or not.

For instance, if you use New Blogger in relation to several posted-by names, you have to be extremely and tediously careful in trying to use simultaneously Google Bookmarks. In turn, each posted-by name by which you sign into Google (Blogger) gets a different Google Homepage (which I hate, I want one Google Homepage with quick access to all Google Blogger posted-by names). Going to any newspage from any one of your Google Homepages (which happens whether you personalize it/them or not) determines in advance where your bookmarking will occur. I want to use Google's Bookmarks in a set according to different posted-by names, again according to my basic categories of content. But that means, when I surf the news and pickout valuable bookmarks for three or four different topics (each associated separately to a different posted-by name), I have to stop, sign into New Blogger, go thru the labyrinth to get to the specific username and password for which I want to enter a given bookmark. This is so clunky, time-consuming and dispriting that it dehydrates the joy of blogging out of the process, replacing it with elaborate technical routine only. Nonsensical from the standpoint of the blogger.

Google has lost s+t of the living blogger who may wish to combine journalism, opinion, and new forms of textual artistry thru differentiated posted-by naming, designed to interlace fictional elements that build up a sense of characterization, name by name. Instead, Google has made its Web2.0 suite a corporate n+tmare based on a qualitatively different point of view from that of the serious blogger. It determines for the blogger a different and alien point of integration for her/his own complex and aesthetically-nuanced blogging process--namely, its own corporate machinery and machinations.