Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Not Another Post About the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

I'm blaming issues with Google for not blogging earlier about the ALS Ice bucket challenge. But even though everyone is probably fed up by now and you've moved on to other challenges like the Hummus one, I'm still up for this.

First of all, am not exactly sure why, when the actual challenge is make a donation to the charity OR ELSE dump a bucket of ice on your head, people are donating and still sluicing themselves. I'm with my friend young David P who gave his money and absolutely refused to do the ice thing.

Actually, first of all should be what on earth is ALS, or MND as it's known in the UK? Here's a link to a simple explanation from Huffpo.

This is a dreadful disease, and hurrah for everyone helping to find a cure!

Meanwhile, here are some of my favourite Ice Bucket Challenges to inspire and/or please you:

Actor Orlando Jones poured a bucket of bullet casings over his head to highlight the case of Michael Brown in Ferguson MO. There is an article about it here. The vid is here.

Matt Damon is committed to sanitation issues in the developing world, so he decided to use toilet water for his challenge. Read about it here. Watch him here.

Patrick Stewart made a really classy video that I found here. However, at the moment the YouTube video is telling me that the film is now private. If that doesn't work, this link may.

This one is cos I love Tina Fey (and it's funny).

This is for L who loves Sex in the City.

This one is cool and a bit political I suppose.

Browse a whole lot more for yourself right here.

Finally, if you still want to take part, both donating and dousing, the UK link for the Motor Neurone Disease Association is here.

I've Missed You All!



Sorry it's been so long since I blogged - a bit of an issue with Google accounts and access to Blogger. Am back now though :-)

Here is a happy photo I took from my seat last Saturday with my little pocket Lumix camera - Rob Green making an early save from Sunderland's Fletcher to keep us in the game. The first points of the season for QPR were a great early birthday present. Also just glad to keep my reflexes in shape!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Macklemore's Wardrobe Malfunction. Offensive or Stupid (or Both)?


 


This is the costume that an American rapper called Macklemore wore for a concert the other day. Shortly afterwards, photographs were published with a story accusing him of being anti-semitic. Since he is quite popular at the moment, this was big news in some areas.

So was his outfit offensive? The angle in this photograph is certainly not flattering. Macklemore writes in his blog that some people thought he looked like Ringo Starr and others that he looked like President Lincoln. I would add Howard Wolowitz (from The Big Bang Theory). Was he a bit thick not to anticipate that a beard and a hooked nose might evoke a strong prejudicial stereotype? CNN refers to him as someone who "won a Grammy for a song praised for its cultural sensitivity". HuffPo notes that Macklemore & Lewis have been "lauded for their progressive messages". The general consensus appears to be that Macklemore is basically a decent chap. His apology is also contrite and sincere:

"Family, friends and fans alike who know me well, know that I'm absolutely not the person described in certain headlines today. There is no worse feeling than being misunderstood, especially when people are hurt or offended ...

My intention was to dress up and surprise the people at the show with a random costume and nothing more. Thus it was surprising and disappointing that the images of a disguise were sensationalised leading to the immediate assertion that my costume was anti-Semetic (sic). I acknowledge how the costume could, within a context of stereotyping, be ascribed to a Jewish caricature. I am here to say that it was absolutely not my intention, and unfortunately at the time I did not foresee (sic) the costume to be viewed in such regard. I'm saddened that this story, or any of my choices, would lead to any form of negativity ...

I respect all cultures and all people. I would never intentionally put down anybody for the fabric that makes them who they are. I love human beings, love originality, and … happen to love a weird outfit from time to time.

I truly apologise to anybody that I may have offended. I hope this better explains the situation and my point of view.

with love,
Ben"

You can read the rest of it here.

So nu, it seems pretty clear to me that, unlike for example Nicolas Anelka, Macklemore's behaviour had neither a direct or indirect intention to make any kind of social or political point. He was just trying to disguise himself to surprise his fans, and picked a costume that others interpreted in a way he had not considered possible.

Having said that, some people were apparently offended. I hope that if they were, they will have seen from his explanation that it was a genuine mistake. There are certainly anti-semites out there that need our attention. However, particularly when Macklemore's statement concludes with this:

"Out of a negative can come a positive. Through this situation I've got hip to some incredible groups like the ADL and I encourage people to check the great work they, and others like them, do"

I choose to conclude that this boy is ok. And this evening, the Guardian reports that the ADL accepts Macklemore's word regarding the matter. Abraham Foxman, National Director of the ADL, has referred to the incident as 'a tempest in a teapot' (Guardian article here, ADL press statement here).

One last thought … is it ridiculous of me to note that the stereotype of a Semitic man with a big beard and a giant nose is surely not limited only to members of the Jewish community? 


Monday, March 03, 2014

I Love Panda Bears



If there is one thing in the world guaranteed to make me feel calm, and peaceful, and better, it is being in the presence of a panda bear. A Native American friend once told me that the panda is surely my spirit guide. Since it's hard to hang out with live pandas in Finchley, here are some alternatives that are quite helpful:

1. The San Diego Zoo PandaCam  LINK

ok there's an 8 hour time difference and sometimes the pandas are behind a tree or somewhere else, but so far it's the best way to get a live fix when necessary

There are also PandaCams in Edinburgh, Atlanta, & Memphis.

2. Cute videos, e.g.,


3.  Wildlife Documentaries
(this is a clip from the David Attenborough film where the panda does a handstand)


Perhaps one day I will experience a moment of joy as I hold a small panda in my arms, like the lucky lucky film-maker gets to at the end of this clip



Best Picture at the Oscars Last Night


Apparently a selfie taken by Bradley Cooper with Ellen DeGeneres and the other movie stars sitting in the front two rows at the Oscars last night crashed Twitter because so many people connected to it.

IMHO, if a picture from the Oscars is going to go viral, I'd choose this one:  Benedict Cumberbatch photobombing a group shot of the band U2.


Thursday, February 27, 2014

Anelka is Banned

Nicolas Anelka has been found guilty of breaking Football Association rules by making a quenelle gesture to celebrate a goal he scored for his team. The FA writes:

"An Independent Regulatory Commision has found an aggravated breach of FA Rule E3 against Nicolas Anelka proven and has issued a five-match suspension and a fine of 80,000 pounds, pending appeal.

The West Bromwich Albion player has also been ordered to complete a compulsory education course.

The Independent Regulatory Commission will provide written reasons for its decision in due course."

A summary of the decision may be found here.

The Guardian notes that:

"the punishment was the most lenient that the FA could have imposed under their new anti-discrimination rules. However, the governing body reported that the three-man panel 'did not find that Nicolas Anelka is an anti-Semite or that he intended to express or promote antisemitism by his use of the quenelle.'"

A link to the whole article is here.

The BBC website report quoted the response of the President of the Board of Deputies, Vivian Wineman, who told them that he welcomed the decision to make Anelka undergo a compulsory education course:

"That's one of the most attractive parts. We want to educate people. Anelka said he didn't realise it was anti-Semitic, well that kind of ignorance is dangerous … the quenelle is something that few of us in the UK recognise. In France it's known as being a vicious anti-Semitic gesture."

That article may be found here.

The Telegraph reports that Anelka continues to deny the charges and has asked for an appeal. Their coverage includes a quote from Dieudonné, supporting his friend:

"Anelka is a descendant of slaves and if he wants to remark on this history he has the right to - and we are all very proud of him doing so."

The Telegraph link is here.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Naughty Shirley Temple!




You may think that butter wouldn't melt in little miss Shirley Temple's mouth, but according to her obituary in the Times:

"In 1935 she was taken by her parents to Washington to meet President Roosevelt and his wife, Eleanor. The President invited the Temples to a barbecue at the Roosevelt home in Hyde Park, New York, where Eleanor, bending over a grill, proved too much of a temptation for the impish child star. Temple unleashed a pebble from the catapult she carried in her lace purse and hit the First Lady smartly on the rear."

I'm Not a Cartoonist But ...


What did I want to be when I grew up? Easy - a syndicated cartoonist. My hero was Charles M Schulz, and I covered my schoolbooks with Snoopy and Charlie Brown. I even created my own character, a round baby in a romper suit called Pomme de Terre.

So nu, what happened? I guess it depends how you look at things. On the one hand, I've always been pretty sure that I'm not much good at drawing. I consoled myself with the knowledge that SJ Perelman began as a cartoonist, and eventually the captions grew, the drawings dropped out, and he became a writer. On the other hand, I never did put in the time needed to create and develop Pomme's world.

These days I'm coming up to 18 years since rabbinic ordination. As you can see from the pic, cartoons are occasionally part of my work. And now that I've found Laydeez do Comics, it has crossed my mind that it may still be possible to try drawing some more ...

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Bulgaria?


Blogger has this lovely page where one may see how many people have viewed one's posts and from which part of the world they have done this. I had a look at the breakdown today after a little surge in views, and saw that 52 people in Bulgaria have stopped by my blog in the last 24 hours. Or possibly one odd person 52 times. In any case, it made me think:  what do I know about Bulgaria?

The answer to this question is a bit embarrassing. Acknowledging that Geography has never been my strong suit (once I woke up in Geography class to find that the class had ended and I was alone in the room), all I could come up with was Sofia is the capital, people there shake their head for yes the way I shake my head for no, and Dimitar Berbatov.

I now feel the need to redress the balance a little. Here are ten things I just found out about Bulgaria:

1.  Bulgaria is Europe's 16th largest country by area (the UK is 11th & Belgium 34th out of 49)

2.  This is the Bulgarian coat of arms (I do love lions):

The motto says:  Saedinenieto pravi silata
(Unity is strength)

3.  the artist Christo is from Bulgaria. I enjoyed his Gates in Central Park a few years ago:



4.  The Bulgarian national airline is called Bulgaria Air.

5.  The Bulgarian monarchy was abolished in 1946.

6.  This is the flag of Bulgaria:


7.  Nestinarstvo, also known as Anastenaria, is an ancient Bulgarian fire ritual which involves dancing barefoot on smouldering embers.

8.  Bulgarian currency is the lev:



9.  According to the Divine Wiki, as of 2004 there were more than 10 million native speakers of Bulgarian in our world.

10. Rakia, popular across Southeastern Europe, is considered to be the national drink of Bulgaria:


I feel a bit better now. I hope you do also.

Приятен ден!

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Who Was Tesi Balogun?


Walking by the Players' Entrance on South Africa Road this evening, I had a closer look at the design of the glass wall. It's the place where fans leave tributes to dead players, e.g., Alan McDonald & Kiyan Prince, and I've never looked at it closely before. The names of stars from QPR history are etched on the glass. As I read them, and remembered, I saw this name:  Tesi Balogun. I am quite proud of my knowledge of QPR history, and was feeling good that I knew about Evelyn Lintott, but this name was new to me. Another humbling moment :-)

Nobody I asked outside the stadium before the game had heard of him either. I was inside and heading for my seat before I thought of googling him, and there's no ****** reception inside the stadium. However, a chap in the row behind who first of all remembered as a child seeing Arthur Longbottom score from the halfway line then said, "O yes, I remember him. He always used to turn up with a bible in his hand, and leave with a girl in each arm!"

Now I am home and with the benefit of broadband have googled him:


From a site called Yoruba Nation, I quote:

"It is told in Nigeria folk lore that in a football match played in the 1960s, NEPA FC, Lagos needed a goal to win the Challenge Cup, and with time running out a fan shouted at Teslim Balogun - 'do not forget your left' and the rest as they say is history. The ball went through the midriffs of the goalkeeper and through the net and the moniker 'Thunder' was born. The nickname stuck with him because of his skills and lethal shots at goal."

It also says:

"He was one of the first Nigerian players to take his trade abroad. Teslim played professional football in England at Peterborough United, Holbeach United and Queens Park Rangers and was the Nigerian coach that led the national team to the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico. He also played for the national team for 17 years (1945-1962). After his playing career in 1962 (sic), he coached until he died on July 30, 1972."

There's a wikipedia entry for him here. I look forward to hearing what my friend Martin would like to add to this note.