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This blog is the work of an educated civilian, not of an expert in the fields discussed.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Various Weekend Tidbits

And Also: Watch out Julius!

According to a study by two Cornell University professors, honeybee pollination accounted for $14.6 billion worth of crops annually between 1996 and 1998. Honeybee research doesn't sound so funny now, does it?

In a particularly forceful entry, Media Matters talks about the "media's deliberate stupidity" as to earmarks, including ridicule of funny sounding measures that a bit of research will underline are often pretty important. As Paul Krugman suggested, this is more appropriate for Beavis and Butthead (which popped up on MTV2 recently) than serious sorts. Or, maybe, Sen. McCain.
In Fall 2008, Link TV presented the U.S. broadcast premiere of the controversial hit Israeli comedy series Arab Labor (Avoda Aravit). Created by Sayed Kashua, a 32-year-old Israeli-born Palestinian journalist, Arab Labor (translated from the Hebrew “Avoda Aravit” which colloquially implies “shoddy or second-rate work”) focuses on Amjad, a Palestinian journalist and Israeli citizen in search of his identity as he seeks high status in the society into which he was born but where his car is searched everyday when he drives from his neighborhood to his job at a newspaper in Jerusalem.

By chance (once in awhile you actually find something by channel surfing), I saw this show on Link TV, which is on the educational band of channels on Dish TV (Direct TV has it too). It has received some U.S. attention, including a NYT article suggesting some find this Arab Israeli Seinfeld insulting. The broad character types suggests sitcom criteria crosses national and language borders, including the value of humor and satire to inform about different cultures.

As Palestinian issues dominate, it is helpful to recall they do not just include residents of the West Bank and Gaza, but a large number of Israeli citizens as well. Talking about viewpoints from different cultures, a Bolivian wrote a guest op-ed yesterday concerning the stupidity of making coca leaves illegal. Noting the trivial amount of drug content in this traditional chew, one recalls the tiny amount of THC in industrial hemp, but it is still basically illegal (just try to get a permit to grow the stuff). Oh, the op-ed was written by the president of Bolivia.

Finally, Whale Rider was on television. I saw the film a few years back and just read the young adult book (it was in the children's section, but the fact it is narrated by a guy in his twenties alone suggests it is a bit mature for preteens), an interesting experience when it talks about the 21st Century and all (it was written in the late 1980s). The movie is one of those that if anything is better than the book, focusing more on the girl, which is fine given how great Keisha Castle-Hughes' (Academy Award nominated) performance is.

Hughes later played Mary in a more flavorless, if functional, account of the Nativity, which makes sense since the actress also became a teenage mom. Without the dramatics, though.