Posts Tagged ‘YouTube’

Two items caught your indefatigable correspondent’s eye today, Dear Reader.

The first is a YouTube video (currently 65 million hits and rising) in which 20 strangers volunteer to kiss someone they have never met before. And we mean, properly kiss: real tonsil tangling, spit-swapping snogging.

It is really rather beautiful and life affirming and funny and wistful and weird and vaguely erotic and heart warming. See what you think.

It’s the work of someone called Tatia Pllieva and it’s the first video she has posted. I suspect we’ll be hearing more from her. Well done.

The second is the death of Fred Phelps, the founder and thoroughly awful leader of the Westboro Baptist Church who became famous for celebrating the death of American soldiers (and picketing their funerals) as punishment from God because gays exist in America.

If you really want to refresh your memory as to his drivel, you can watch this.

He thinks he’s going to Heaven. I was never more certain of anything but that he is going straight to Hell … do not pass Go, do not collect $200 … and people like Tatia Pllieva are going to Heaven.

The one thought that cheers me this morning more than any other is that Fred Phelps is today standing in front his Maker, hearing in no uncertain terms exactly how much of an un-Christian asshole he was.

Phelps died on Wednesday in a Kansas hospice at the age of 84. “People die – that is the way of all flesh,” a blog post on the church’s website said.

Earlier this month, his son Nathan, who ran away from home as soon as he turned 18 and later became a gay rights advocate, said in a Facebook posting he had learned Phelps was near death in a hospice and that he had been excommunicated in 2013. The church would not confirm the excommunication report, saying membership issues were private.

Phelps’ church was widely denounced as a hate group and was not part of any mainstream Baptist organization. Its membership has been estimated at about 100, many of whom were related to Phelps.

By Phelps’ reasoning, cancer, the September 11, 2001, attacks on the United States, school shootings and the deaths of soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as other tragedies involving Americans, were God’s retribution for a lax attitude toward what he called “the modern militant homosexual movement”.

“God Hates Fags” was the overriding slogan for Phelps and his followers, as well as the name of their primary website. They carried that message to protests, brandishing signs declaring “Thank God For AIDS,” “America Is Doomed,” “Thank God For Dead Soldiers” and “God Blew Up The Troops”.

“Look, you can’t preach the Bible without preaching the hatred of God,” Phelps said in a 2010 Huffington Post interview.

The news of his death was met with an outpouring of comments on social media, including many who said Phelps’ teachings inadvertently served to promote tolerance.

“I’d like to thank Fred Phelps today, for accidentally inspiring me and countless others like me to fight for tolerance and against hate,” Russell Hainline, a screenwriter in Los Angeles, tweeted.

Phelps’ rhetoric was hotter than fire and brimstone. He called President George W. Bush a “Bible pervert,” Barack Obama a “bloody beast” and conservative TV commentator Bill O’Reilly a “demon-possessed messenger of Satan”.

Phelps’s church gained notoriety in 1998 by picketing the funeral of Matthew Shepard, a gay man who was beaten outside a bar in Wyoming and left to die. His story was turned into a movie and play.

SUPREME COURT RULING

Phelps and his congregants had their biggest impact at military funerals, where they faced an angry backlash from veterans’ families and their supporters. Their right to picket led to action by the U.S. Congress and a freedom-of-speech legal battle that the church won at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The father of a Maryland soldier killed in Iraq took on Westboro, seeking damages and saying church members had turned his son’s 2006 funeral into a circus. But in an 8-1 ruling in 2011, the court said that even though the Westboro protest was hurtful, it was constitutionally protected. Phelps’ daughter, Margie, argued the case.

To curb Westboro, Congress in 2006 passed the Fallen Heroes Act, which prohibited protesters from coming within 300 feet of a federally administered cemetery within an hour of the beginning or end of a funeral. States passed similar laws.

Phelps based his ideology on an Old Testament passage – the book of Leviticus, chapter 18, verse 22 – that says, “Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind; it is abomination.”

Phelps, however, was mis-informed and wilfully ignorant, as you can read here: http://wp.me/p1LY0z-wX

If you’re feeling research minded, (or just irritated by bigoted fundamentalist neighbours) you can also read how it is now scientifically proven that the Bible is not literally true by clicking here: http://wp.me/p1LY0z-1Y5

Or even how the Roman Catholic Church no longer believes the Bible is literally true: http://wp.me/p1LY0z-ud

On its website the church claimed to have held almost 50,000 demonstrations since 1991. Westboro would send protesters on the thinnest of premises. A store in Topeka was a regular target because it sold vacuum cleaners made in Sweden, where a preacher had been prosecuted for his anti-homosexuality message. Phelps’s church even sent a contingent to Pittsburgh in 2003 for the funeral of Fred Rogers, the mild-mannered host of the children’s TV show “Mister Rogers Neighborhood,” on the grounds that he was “a wuss” and had not denounced homosexuality. Other protest targets included churches and synagogues, rock concerts, NFL games, Twitter headquarters and the school attended by President Barack Obama’s daughters.

British journalist Louis Theroux lived with the Phelps clan for three weeks while making the 2007 documentary “The Most Hated Family in America”.

“The dominant note in his personality was a bitter contempt for humanity in general and me specifically,” he wrote in the Guardian newspaper.

Theroux said the family did not always seem hateful.

“Away from the pickets, they were – much of the time – very, very normal,” he said. “Not just normal, but intelligent and urbane. They’re not hillbillies, they’re urban professionals.”

Well, anyway, he’s gone, Thank God.

And now I think I’ll go and watch the 20 strangers kissing again and make my mind feel just a little cleaner, and creep a little closer to my understanding of God at the same time.

Put brain in here. Scrub thoroughly.

Put brain in here. Scrub thoroughly.

For years, I have been wracking my brains to tell people about a TV ad for whitegoods in the UK which I thought was utterly brilliant, in the way it used the brand name to drive home it’s core promise – which was durability.

But while I could remember the brand name and the kicker 25 years or so later … Ariston … and on-and-on-and-on … I could never find the ad. Now, thanks to http://www.headington.org.uk/adverts/index.htm I have finally tracked down the lyrics.

Released on New Years Eve, 1985 …

When you buy an Ariston Its guarantee is five years long, Last well past nineteen ninety-one … Ariston! And-on-and-on-and-on-and-on.

One million French think they’re très bon, Half million Germans can’t be wrong, From Italia to Bri-ton, Ariston … And-on-and-on-and-on-and-on.

Tune: Da-Da-Da by Trio

But wait, there’s more! To prove (if proof were needed) what a deeply obsessional person I am, I then found it on YouTube as well, although someone thinks it was a couple of years later. Anyhow:

Pure advertising genius. Enjoy. Better still, ask me to write you an ad as good as this.

Better still, ask me to write you a CAMPAIGN, instead of a just a one off ad. Like this:

(That’s enough washing machines – Ed.)

But it needs to be seen.

It needs to be shared widely. That you to Pat L for bringing it to my attention.

And we need to learn this lesson, not just for the country mentioned at the end, but also for EVERY country where conflict is occurring.

 

Image

Collateral damage is people

We cannot praise the creative brains behind this enough, and the cast, especially the little girl.

If you’d like to walk your disapproval of the death of innocents on your local streets, you could do worse than invest in this t-shirt I designed a few years back. This pic links to one shirt, like most Radical tees it comes in various shapes and sizes. If you can’t find what you want, message me.

The photo is of my daughter, aged 2.

I created the shirt the day I realised the collateral damage they were talking about on the TV was other people’s daughters.

There are some other shirts in the Anti-War section you may like too.

Here’s one:

stop_bombing_civilians_shirt

If we do nothing else to save the children of the world, at least we can say “Not in my name.”

Click and buy now.

And no, we’re not doing it for the money.

Oh Jean-Luc, you didn’t. That’s so human of you, really.

OK. It’s really time this was dragged out again.

Yes, it’s childish. It’s silly fart jokes. It’s just infantile. I mean seriously: who makes this crap?  Who has the time?*

But who cares? Engage!

PS Put your coffee or beer down before you hit play. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

(Thanks Mimi)

*Someone does, thank goodness.

Marina Shifrin. Writer. Comedian. Waitress. Love it.

Marina Shifrin. Writer. Comedian. Waitress. Love it.

So you love your company, but your boss just doesn’t get it.

You make videos, and you long to make the content so compelling that people will watch in their millions.

But your boss just busts your ass to produce more and more product.

So after two years, you make your own video, resigning. To prove a point. That great content MATTERS. That it gets hits.

So then you post the video on YouTube, and you say this:

“I have put my entire life into this job, but my boss only cares about quantity, how fast we write and how many views each video gets.

I believe it’s more important to focus on the quality of the content. When you learn to improve this, the views will come. Here is a little video I made explaining my feelings.

Wanna deal with me? Hit me up.”

So you post an interpretive dance video. Why, of course! Why didn’t we think of that?

Funny. Clever. Original. Witty. Appropriate.

Her [insert abusive expletive] of a boss should have listened to her. The video is currently pushing three million hits on YouTube, and has been featured on leading websites and in newspapers everywhere. Dur.

And we suspect Ms Shifrin will be in work again very soon, if she isn’t already.

Oh, and she can bust a move, too. You go, grrrl.

"I was taken out of context." Yeah, right.

“I was taken out of context.” Yeah, right.

From the Rachel Maddow blog:

Radical TV preacher Pat Robertson has made a career out of making ridiculous comments, but yesterday, the televangelist broke new ground on his own Christian Broadcasting Network.

For those who can’t watch clips online (or if this clip is removed from YouTube before I can find a replacement), Right Wing Watch spotted a doozy: Robertson told his viewers that that gay men in cities like San Francisco attempt to spread HIV/AIDS to others by cutting them with a special ring when shaking hands.

Co-host Terry Meeuwsen seemed to want to move the conversation along, but Robertson stuck to his crazy guns. “You know what they do in San Francisco, some in the gay community there they want to get people so if they got the stuff they’ll have a ring, you shake hands, and the ring’s got a little thing where you cut your finger,” the TV preacher said.

“Really?” Meeuwsen asked, incredulously. “Yes, really,” Robertson replied.

And while the televangelist’s over-the-top rhetoric is painfully common, this one was especially interesting because of what happened next.

After Robertson’s comments were aired, the Christian Broadcasting Network posted the episode online — but edited out this portion of the program.

In other words, Robertson’s anti-gay hysteria was so ridiculous, even his own network was reluctant to allow people to see it. Indeed, CBN even forced YouTube to take down the clip posted by Right Wing Watch. (It was re-posted by many others, including the version included above.)

Robertson really shouldn’t say things on national television if he doesn’t want people to see them.

When The Atlantic asked for comment, Robertson said he “regret[s] that my remarks had been misunderstood, but this often happens because people do not listen to the context of remarks which are being said.” He added, “In no wise [sic] were my remarks meant as an indictment of the homosexual community or, for that fact, to those infected with this dreadful disease.”

There is no context in which it makes sense to accuse gay people in San Francisco of deliberately cutting others in the hopes of deliberately spreading the AIDS virus.

Robertson’s remarkably active imagination notwithstanding, there is no evidence to bolster his assertions.

Ends …

Senile? Barmy? Waste of useful oxygen? You tell us, Dear Reader. What is MOST worrying is people listen to this nonsense every day, and repeat it as if it is fact. In a week when a transgender woman was beaten to death outside a police station merely for wanting to be who she is, provoking the usual wail of ‘why are people like this?’ the answer is ‘people are like this because they are constantly fed rubbish from those who should know better’.

Rubbish? Spend a moment and consider some of Robertson’s other equally cautiously considered statements:

He wishes, for example, that Facebook had a ‘vomit’ button, so that he could click on it every time he came across a photograph of a gay couple kissing. (Why is he looking? Ed.) Anyhow, a viewer wanted to know how to address images of same-sex couples on social media sites, such as Facebook.

Robertson commented “You’ve got a couple of same-sex guys kissing, do you like that? Well that makes me want to throw up,” he said.

“To me I would punch ‘Vomit;’ not ‘Like,'” he added “But they don’t give you that option on Facebook.”

That was not the first time Robertson, 83, has used vomit to express his sentiments on homosexuality.

Robertson has also said the land would “vomit out” those who disobeyed the commandments of the Old Testament.

Here are some more controversial and colorful comments the “evangelist” has made that have gone viral:

To a man whose wife does not respect him as ‘head of the household”

Robertson  answered a question from a viewer named Michael about how to repair his marriage.

Robertson’s response: “Well, you could become a Muslim and you could beat her.”

Think I’m kidding?

Loathsome.

In case you cant see the video, bizarrely, this comment elicits laughter from Robertson’s co-host, Terry Meeuwsen.

Unfortunately, Robertson didn’t stop there.

“I don’t think we condone wife-beating these days but something has got to be done to make her.”

He also called the woman a “rebellious child” who doesn’t want to “submit to any authority.” However, since the Scripture doesn’t allow for divorce, Robertson urged the husband to “move to Saudi Arabia,” where, ostensibly, presumably, beating the woman would be permissible.

To a woman whose husband committed adultery

“Males have a tendency to wander a little bit. And what you want to do is make a home so wonderful he doesn’t want to wander.”

(Hang on, no stoning? Ed.)

On a man with an Alzheimer’s-stricken wife

“I know it sounds cruel, but if he’s going to do something, he should divorce her and start all over again, but to make sure she has custodial care and somebody (is) looking after her.”

Asked what about the “Till death do us part” part of the marriage vow, he said Alzheimer’s is “a kind of death.”

On Walt Disney World’s “Gay Days”

“I would warn Orlando that you’re right in the way of some serious hurricanes, and I don’t think I’d be waving those flags in God’s face if I were you. It’ll bring about terrorist bombs; it’ll bring earthquakes, tornadoes, and possibly a meteor.”

On the role of a man and a woman

“I know this is painful for the ladies to hear, but if you get married, you have accepted the headship of a man, your husband. Christ is the head of the household, and the husband is the head of the wife, and that’s the way it is, period.”

On feminism

“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

On why Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had a stroke

“God considers this land to be his. You read the Bible and he says ‘This is my land,’ and for any prime minister of Israel who decides he is going to carve it up and give it away, God says, ‘No, this is mine.’ He was dividing God’s land. And I would say, ‘Woe unto any prime minister of Israel who takes a similar course to appease the E.U., the United Nations, or the United States of America.’ God says, ‘This land belongs to me. You better leave it alone.'”

(Not because he was a fat old guy under considerable stress, of course. Ed.)

On the devastating 2010 Haiti earthquake

“They were under the heel of the French, you know, Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said, ‘We will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.’ True story.

And so the devil said, ‘OK, it’s a deal.’ And they kicked the French out. The Haitians revolted and got themselves free. But ever since they have been cursed by one thing after another.”

On homosexuality

“Many of those people involved in Adolf Hitler were Satanists. Many were homosexuals. The two things seem to go together.”

On assassinating Hugo Chavez

“You know, I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.”

On the tornadoes that ravaged the Midwest in 2012

“If enough people were praying, (God) would’ve intervened. You could pray. Jesus stilled the storm. You can still storms.”

playtimeIn my opinion this man is about as Christian as a housebrick, and as soon as he is gathered unto his Maker, which really can’t be all that far way now now, thank goodness, he will be going straight to his eternal reward, which, incidentally, will be to a loud and persistent soundtrack of wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Robertson is in mo way a minor person, so far on the fringe that he can be idly ignored. In September 1986, Robertson announced his intention to seek the Republican nomination for President of the United States.

He said he would pursue the nomination only if three million people signed up to volunteer for his campaign by September 1987. Somewhat astoundingly 9and worryingly) three million responded, and by the time Robertson announced he would be running in September 1987, he also had raised millions of dollars for his campaign fund. He surrendered his ministerial credentials and turned leadership of CBN over to his son, Tim.

Robertson ran on a oft-adopted radical right platform. Among his policies, he wanted to ban pornography, reform the education system, and eliminate departments such as the Department of Education and the Department of Energy. He also supported a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget.

His campaign got off to a strong second-place finish in the Iowa caucus, ahead of George Bush Snr. He did poorly in the subsequent New Hampshire primary, however, and was unable to be competitive once the multiple-state primaries began. Subjected to the oxygen of publicity, Robertson ended his campaign before the primaries were finished. His best finish was in Washington, winning the majority of caucus delegates. He later spoke at the 1988 Republican National Convention in New Orleans and told his remaining supporters to cast their votes for Bush, who ended up winning the nomination and the election. He then returned to CBN and has remained there.

He appears to be – on many levels – a thoroughly horrible individual.

Of the time he spent at Washington and Lee University, where he received a B.A. in History, graduating magna cum laude. Robertson has said, “Although I worked hard at my studies, my real major centered around lovely young ladies who attended the nearby girls schools.” Ah yes, the gals. Nice.

In 1948, the draft was reinstated and Robertson was given the option of joining the Marine Corps or being drafted into the army; he opted for the first.

In his words, “We did long, gruelling marches to toughen the men, plus refresher training in firearms and bayonet combat.” In the same year, he transferred to Korea.

“I ended up at the headquarters command of the First Marine Division,” said Robertson. “The Division was in combat in the hot and dusty, then bitterly cold portion of North Korea just above the 38th Parallel later identified as the ‘Punchbowl’ and ‘Heartbreak Ridge.’ For that service in the Korean War, the Marine Corps awarded me three battle stars for ‘action against the enemy.'”

However, former Republican Congressman Paul “Pete” McCloskey, Jr., who served with Robertson in Korea, wrote a public letter which said that Robertson was actually spared combat duty when his powerful father, a conservative Democrat U.S. Senator, intervened on his behalf, and that Robertson spent most of his time in an office in Japan.

According to McCloskey, his time in the service was not in combat but as the “liquor officer” responsible for keeping the officers’ clubs supplied with liquor. Robertson filed a $35 million libel suit against McCloskey in 1986.* He dropped the case in 1988, before it came to trial and paid McCloskey’s court costs.

*”Evangelist sues over combat story”. The Globe and Mail. (Toronto, Ont.). October 23, 1986. p. A.16.

**”Rpbertson’s libel suit by judge ex congressman ruled the legal victor” Philadelphia Daily News. March 7, 1988. p. 14.

Pete McCloskey

Pete McCloskey

By the way, McClosky is himself an interesting man, warranting more than a footnote in American political history. One of McCloskey’s enduring legacies is his co-authorship of the 1973 Endangered Species Act. A highly decorated war veteran and one-time moderate Republican turned Democrat, he was the first member of Congress to publicly call for the impeachment of President Nixon after the Watergate scandal and the Saturday Night Massacre. He was also the first lawmaker to call for a repeal of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution that allowed for the War in Vietnam.

He had sought the 1972 Republican Presidential nomination on a pro-peace/anti-Vietnam War platform, and obtained 11% of the vote against incumbent President Richard M. Nixon in the New Hampshire primary. At the Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, Florida, Rep. McCloskey received one vote (out of 1324) from a New Mexico delegate. All other votes cast went to President Nixon, thus McCloskey technically finished in second place in the race for the Presidential nomination that year.

Anyway. Never did two more more vividly demonstrate the ‘broad church’ that is the American Republican Party. Or as I prefer to categorise it, the divide between those worth listening to, and those who should be flung into the outer darkness by some avenging angel.

The utterly charming Ms Waterland

The utterly charming Ms Waterland. More power to her elbow, as we used to say.

This article (the link is at the end) is beautiful.

The person who wrote this article is beautiful.

Read this article if you’re fat.

Better still, read it if you’re not.

Well said, that man.

Well said, that man.

Definitely read it if you’re a woman.

I know that’s at least half of you lot out there, so I expect lots of people to click on the link below.

I have always been in awe of Dustin Hoffman – he strikes me as one of my top ten dinner party guests.

I have now added Rosie Waterland to that list.

Read her blog. Seriously.

Do yourself a favour. This sort of writing deserves the widest possible audience.

Dustin Hoffman made me cry today.

Now 66 years old and still making the world sit up and take notice. inspiring stuff.

Now 66 years old and still making the world sit up and take notice. Inspiring stuff.

I have long been an admirer of David Bowie – singer, composer, artist, art expert, and actor.

Ziggy Stardust* and Aladdin Sane were the soundtrack for my late teens, that irreplaceable, confusing and alarming period when all the world seems to open up to a body and life has infinite possibilities. Bowie’s music – and even more so, his deliberately obscurantist lyrics – walked with me as I made the unsteady and faltering march into manhood.

Here was a man who had the courage to be experimental with language, who – if he could be believed – wrote lines and lines of lyrics and then cut the pages into pieces and lined the lines up at random to see what would happen. If they “spoke” to him in their new jumbled format, that was how they stayed. I never really thought that was what he did – it was all part of his avant-garde myth-making – but I was just dead impressed that anyone would have the courage to say that’s what he did.

Now, after a career spanning more than forty years in the arts, but after a musical hiatus of more than a decade, Bowie has unexpectedly released a new song, ahead of a new album out in March. It is already an internet sensation, and deservedly so. After what his biographer called “a career marked by continual reinvention, musical innovation and striking visual presentation” the dear old lad has done it again. Wrong-footed us all.

The song, ” Where are we now?” is achingly beautiful, mesmerically entrancing, and at one and the same time both awfully sad and strangely uplifting.

It celebrates, ultimately, love. Well, I think it does.

The love of people and places that lives on when times have changed. The type of complete, overwhelming and ultimately unselfish love that draws one human to another not for a brief moment, but for decades. That draws them to the memory of a person, even when they have moved away from our life, or died. Love that transcends, ultimately, life itself. Love that has a purity that is its own justification, and where purpose has no purpose. Love that simply lights up the Universe.

The song topped the UK iTunes chart within hours of being released and also made it to No 1 in sixteen others around the world, remarkable for a piece of music no one even knew was coming.

This is a song that could only be written after one has lived a life, which Bowie certainly has – he has endured expensive legal battles with various collaborators and managers, his art has frequently been misunderstood or derided, he has battled depression and an inability to separate his real life character from his onstage personas, endured severe cocaine addiction, and a heart attack – in short, he is at a stage, now, when one begins to contemplate one’s own mortality and the meandering route one has taken through life’s vicissitudes, sometimes taking the right path, and sometimes the wrong one, and when one has achieved the wisdom, hopefully, that comes with contemplation and the counsel of the years.

Its lyrics are deceptively approachable, at the same time hopelessly impenetrable, and at the end, charmingly simple. There is nothing synthetic in this song, despite the superb production values that have always marked David Bowie’s work, and the fascinating art-house video which accompanies it. (And kudos to the Director, too.)

I hesitate to say that only Bowie could write such a song, because that would be a burbling nonsense. What is certain is that he has certainly written more of them than most people.

“There’s a magical realism to it,” said Bowie’s friend Tony Oursler who directed the video, which also stars his wife, the abstract impressionist artist Jacqueline Humphries.

“People and friendships have gone sideways, planned projects have not gone anywhere and David wanted to reflect on that. It’s a very, very personal journey he is singing about and the song harkens back to that special time. He is a ‘man caught in time’ as he sings in the video, that’s a life-affirming statement.”

James Lingwood, co-director of influential London arts patron Artangel, which has commissioned work by Oursler, said he was surprised as anyone at the sudden comeback.

“Tony and David have collaborated for years and as soon as I saw the video, you can tell it is very much Tony’s work. It’s a fascinating video – both of them seem haunted by their histories, Bowie by using his Berlin background and Tony returning to his signature method. It’s poignant and plaintive the way Bowie undercuts his mythology while mythologizing himself at the same time. It’s wonderful.”

Here is another song in which Bowie achieved the same myth-making and emotional directness. Rock and Roll Suicide was an anthem that clearly meant a lot to Bowie. It finished the Ziggy Stardust album, and as seen here, it was the last song that he ever performed in his career-making Ziggy alter-ego with the Spiders from Mars band. His caterwauling appeal, intended to be understood both within the song and by his audience, that “You’re not alone!” is a unique moment in rock history, and could only have been written and performed by someone who was already well aware of his own mental fragility.

I am including two versions, the live one above and the recorded one below, simply because the one above speaks to how Bowie mesmerised a generation, related to them in a way few artists have before or since, and the second, below, simply because it’s a better production. It’s interesting to compare them.

What’s interesting about the live version are the atmospherics. The howl of anguish from the crowd when he announces that this was it, finally it, this last night at the iconic Hammersmith Odeon in 1973, for Ziggy and the Spiders.

And at the end, his completely unaffected “We love you.” to the crowd as he walked away, into an uncertain future … morphing into what would become Aladdin Sane, and then his move away from Glam Rock altogether into “plastic soul”, minimalism, blue-eyed soul, industrial, adult contemporary, and jungle. Along the way, his image changed as many times as his musical style … but there was always the love. His “We love you” could have been just one more wanker rock legend sucking up to his audience. It isn’t. Watch it.

Then enjoy the magical production quality – just enough stuff happening, not too much – of the album version.

Scrolling through the comments on YouTube for this song, I came across one which I found especially touching. It said, simply, “I wonder how many suicides David Bowie has prevented with this song?”

I wonder, indeed.

I wonder how many people will discover – or re-discover – love, when they hear “Where are we now?”

*Surely one of the most influential albums of all time, The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust is – albeit vaguely – the story of a rock and roll character of whom the album purports to tell the life history.

Ziggy is the human manifestation of an alien being who is attempting to present humanity with a message of hope in the last five years of its existence. Ziggy Stardust is the definitive rock star: sexually promiscuous, wild in drug intake and with a message, ultimately, of peace and love; but he is destroyed both by his own excesses, and by the fans he inspired.

The character of Ziggy was inspired by British rock ‘n’ roll singer Vince Taylor whom Bowie met after Taylor had had a breakdown and believed himself to be a cross between a god and an alien; though Taylor was only part of the blueprint for the character, other influences included the Legendary Stardust Cowboy and Kansai Yamamoto, who designed the costumes Bowie wore during the tour.

The Ziggy Stardust name came partly from the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, and partly, as Bowie told Rolling Stone, because Ziggy was “one of the few Christian names I could find beginning with the letter ‘Z'”. He later explained in a 1990 interview that the Ziggy part came from a tailor’s shop called Ziggy’s that he passed on a train, and he liked it because it had “that Iggy [as in Iggy Pop] connotation but it was a tailor’s shop, and I thought, Well, this whole thing is gonna be about clothes, so it was my own little joke calling him Ziggy. So Ziggy Stardust was a real compilation of things.”

In case you hadn’t noticed – and Dear Reader, if you had not, then exactly where have you been? – the Guinness Book of Records just officially announced that Asia-Pop artist Psy has just officially become the most watched video ever on video-sharing site YouTube. Ever. Phew.

I really like the song. The original (very funny) video can be seen here:

And a live performance here:

But the really fascinating story is that the first video has now been watched – get this – 879,634,089 times. 

And the live performance is already over 150 million views, too.

As one of the posters put it on the YouTube of the first video, “let’s aim for a billion hits on New Year’s Eve”. A billion views? Of one pop song? A BILLION? Really?

Now as at June 30 this year, this was the breakdown of internet users in the world.

Two billion and four hundred and five million and some users worldwide. Getting on for half of them are dancing with their legs like John Wayne and waving an imaginary lasoo in the air ...

Two billion and four hundred and five million and some users worldwide. Getting on for half of them are dancing with their legs bowed like John Wayne and waving an imaginary lassoo in the air … Er, well, why not?

That means, essentially, that about half of the world’s Internet users have viewed the video on YouTube, let alone seen it on TV, on other websites, heard it on the radio, danced to it in a club … now that’s a hit, eh? I even have a vague memory of myself waving my arm around one night at Fusion nightclub at Crown, but honestly I was a bit over-trained by that stage so I might have just been waving my arms around aimlessly anyway. Pop music and I have an interesting relationship after I’ve had a few beverages. Think Rowan Atkinson on speed.

And now look at that big red wedge. That’s Asia. 44.8% of world Internet usage.

So can anyone still think that the 21st century is not going to be the Asian century? They are taking Western culture, merging it with their own, creating something vibrant and new, and then selling it brilliantly, both to their fellow Asians, and to the West.

Somehow, you know, I really don’t think my passable schoolboy French, which I have always been so proud of, is going to be much of an achievement – or of much use – in my declining years. Quel dommage.

At least, thanks to the abundance of brilliant Asian restaurants of all types in Melbourne, I can now say “thank you” in about a dozen nearby languages.  Cám ơn. Xie xie. M goi. Arigato. Komapsumnida. Terima kasih. Khawp khun. Khawp jai. Istuti. Shukriya. The effort is always greeted with a polite smile and sometimes genuine pleasure. The fact that the people serving us all speak my language – often near-perfectly – is never lost on me.

Somehow though, I think that the way things are headed, “please” may very well end up being more useful word to know … it is hard to imagine that the West can ever now catch up with the sheer exuberance and hard work, not to mention massive human resources, of Asia.

The Australian government just announced yet another push to get us “Asia ready”. But it’s too little, too late, I fear. We are a massive country with a tiny population, and already decades behind Asia itself in genuinely understanding the potential of the area. We have inadequate knowledge of their languages, their customs, their culture, and their needs. Faced with a considerable degree of disinterest from the West until recently, they have simply decided to “do it for themselves”.

Apart from the resources under our land and sea I strongly suspect we are already largely irrelevant to the coming century. I don’t think Asia will take us over. I simply suspect we will become largely irrelevant. A social, cultural and business backwater. Europe is broke, and confused. America appears mired in debt, out of energy, and incapable of pulling together as a nation any more. In short: I am beginning to suspect that the West, as a whole, is really rather yesterday’s news.

Which is a shame, because Western culture is, we often forget, thousands of years old, (as we are constantly reminded Asian culture is), and it is a fascinating amalgam of influences stretching back to pre-history.

Whilst it is popular to denigrate Western culture (and it has been a curate’s egg, for sure) it has also been responsible for some of the most important advances in human history – specifically, the evolution from feudalism, anti-authoritarianism, rationalism, science, humanism, the rule of law, democracy, and that’s just to name just a few.

It will be a sad day indeed if those things gradually come to mean less and less to the world’s population.

So let us hope that Asia takes up some of those principles as enthusiastically as they have made short shirts, tight trousers, and syncopated pop music their own. We can only hope, as it is no longer our place to demand.

Apple Maps Navigation iOS 6 vs iOS

iO6 on the left, iO5 on the right

(From Yahoo and others)

Apple today released iOS 6 through an over-the-air update and Australian users everywhere are getting ready to upgrade their devices.

Apple has updated iOS like clockwork each year, adding marquee new features like iCloud and multitasking. This year, iOS 6 is a relatively modest update. Apple has instead focused on refining the experience, there are a multitude of nips and tucks and the operating system feels faster than ever.

However there are still some key new features, and interestingly a few big ones that have been removed from prior versions. iOS 6 adds Facebook integration, smarter Siri commands and Passbook, a much-touted (and potentially very significant) digital wallet to store your tickets and coupons.

Critically, Apple has removed Google Maps from the operating system and replaced it with their own Apple-built maps application.

They’ve also left out the previously built-in Youtube app.

Let’s take a closer look at how the new features stack up.

Goodbye Google, hello Apple maps.

The most visible change in iOS 6 is unquestionably the banishing of Google maps to make way for Apple’s own revamped mapping service. Apple has now taken control of the location and map experience on their devices, removing their biggest competitor from the platform. But what does that mean for users?

The new maps application adds some great features that were previously missing, the biggest being turn-by-turn navigation coming in an October update for Australian users. It works very similarly to devices from TomTom and Garmin, enter your destination and the app will present different routes for both driving and walking.

Navigation mode displays in a rich 3D view giving a bird’s eye perspective of the road you’re driving on, in typical Apple style the experience is smooth.

You can even enter destinations through Siri, try it by telling Siri “take me home”.

‘Flyover’ is another key feature of the new maps application.

As the name suggests, it literally allows you to fly over cities such as Sydney and Melbourne. It’s an astonishing presentation of satellite imagery, a 3D view of the city allowing you to pan in and around the skyline. It’s currently limited to bigger Australian cities and other cities around the world, expect Apple to keep adding and enhancing this with more satellite data over time.

Not all good news

It’s not (yet) all good news for maps, however.

As this excellent review (including screen caps) discusses, public transport information is one of the casualties, as Apple hasn’t added this data to their application. Instead you’ll need to download third party apps to get this functionality, at least until Apple is ready with their own transit data. Google’s extensive business listings and points-of-interest are also missing, and while Apple has used Yelp and Yellow Pages to add some of this data it’s not as comprehensive as it was in the prior maps application. Presumably Apple will add functionality as they catch up. The new maps certainly look nice, but will that compensate for loss of function, even temporary?

Passbook

Apple has added a new built-in app to digitally store all those tickets, coupons and gift cards you have in your wallet or purse. Instead of fumbling in your email trying to find that movie ticket or digging through app folders to find a coupon code, Passbook aims to simplify the process by storing all these items in one location.

It also utilises the device’s GPS abilities in a convenient way. If you have a coffee card stored in Passbook, when you walk into the associated coffee shop it will send a push notification and pull up the card right on your phone. It’s a futuristic feature however at launch it seems anemic, with few supporting services. Virgin Australia and Event Cinemas have stated they will be supporting it, but we’ll have to patiently wait for more businesses to offer Passbook integration to make it useful. In due course, it may replace all manner of paper and plastic items.

Siri knows more

Apple hailed Siri as the stand-out feature in the iPhone 4S, today Siri has been added to the iPad and has also received some major improvements.

The virtual assistant with attitude can now look up sports scores, local business listings, give directions, post to social networks and open apps. Li’l ol Australia hasn’t received all of Siri’s new features though, for example missing is the ability to book restaurant reservations and pull up movie listings. Grrr.

Still, it’s a solid update and the inclusion of the once missing business and location listings in Australia is a welcome improvement. It’s not quite the virtual assistant as demonstrated in Apple’s ads, but it’s slowly getting there with each iteration. Apple still lists Siri as being in beta, in an apparent attempt to lower expectations.

I ‘like’ this

For all fellow Facebook addicts, Facebook is now baked-in like Twitter was in iOS 5. This means you can sign in to Facebook directly through the settings app, giving users the ability to share photos and other items directly from the device without using another application.

They have also added a convenient Facebook post button directly in the notification panel, allowing to you post and also tweet from any screen.

Apple has added the ability to ‘like’ apps directly in the App Store. When you like an app, it will be shared with your friends and you can also see when your friends have liked an app right in the store.

There are numerous other features and enhancements that make using iOS 6 an improved experience.

Do Not Disturb

‘Do Not Disturb’ is one such feature;  it’s essentially a switch that allows you to stop all incoming notifications such as messages, phone calls or alerts. This is really useful before bed or in a cinema. You can even set exemptions, so if you still want all calls from your partner or colleague/boss to come through you can set that in the settings. Very helpful and practical.

‘Photo streams’ are now shareable, so you can take a few photos and directly share with them a friend or group of friends. This will be useful at parties or for times you don’t necessarily want every photo up on Facebook.

Apple have also added the ability to comment and like photos, a surprising move adding more social networking style features to the Photos app.

The Bottom Line?

Overall it’s a solid update to an already strong mobile operating system loved by many.

Apple have decided to take a more cautious approach with this release, looking to add refinements and improve the overall experience without rocking the boat too much.

It’s significant that Apple have removed key Google features like maps and Youtube, which is a signal that Apple doesn’t want to rely on competitors to provide core features for their platform. It will also be a challenge for Apple to provide a comprehensive mapping service like Google does.

If you already enjoy the iOS experience, then updating to iOS 6 is a no-brainer. If you prefer Android or Windows Phone, this update will not do much to change your view. As a whole, it’s an update that doesn’t rely on one big feature to sell it like in past updates, but iOS 6 still provides an overall more pleasant and useful experience. Seems Apple pretty much can’t miss a trick right now.

Eduard Khil became a web sensation after decades-old TV footage of him singing was uploaded to YouTube. Sadly he has now died.

He had been taken to hospital last week after suffering a stroke.

Although a household name in Russia, Khil was best known around the word as Mr Trololo, after decades-old TV footage of him performing I Am So Happy to Finally Be Back Home was uploaded to YouTube in 2009.

The song became known as “Trololololololololololo” because of Khil’s distinctive vocal performance.

The “Trololo” meme re-ignited interest in Khil’s singing career, with his performance receiving a massive 12 million views since November 2009. I guess that will be a couple of a million more in the next few days.

Khil himself was flattered by the attention, saying:

“It’s nice, of course! Thanks for good news! There is a backstory about this song. Originally, we had lyrics written for this song but they were poor. I mean, they were good, but we couldn’t publish them at that time. They contained words like these: ‘I’m riding my stallion on a prairie, so-and-so mustang, and my beloved Mary is thousand miles away knitting a stocking for me.’

Of course, we failed to publish it at that time, so we, (composer) Arkady Ostrovsky and I, decided to make it a vocalisation. But the essence remained in the title. The song is very playful – it has no lyrics, so we had to make up something for people would listen to it, and so this was an interesting arrangement.”

Thank God the original lyrics were crap. And so a legend was born. Rest in peace, Mr Trololo.

(Herald Sun and many others)

Well, here ya go …

Get on board this one before everyone is talking about it at the water-cooler tomorrow. It’s an absolute fooking cracker … this brilliantly funny piece will go viral like Asian flu in a leaky sauna.

Congratulations, and well done all concerned. Just bloody superb. Jealous or what?

Those lovely people over at at Fox News just don’t get it.

They smear Obama for three years … secretly a Muslim, giving in to the Ay-rabs, wrecking the economy, not born in America, actually a Kenyan, a secret socialist (lol) … and all the rest of the crap that they actually make up, or blithely re-report, with innocent gleaming denti-white smiles.

Then suddenly, the American people pretty clearly seem to think that Obama is going to get re-elected in the 2012 election. Something to do with the fact that the Republicans are busy chasing around promoting a bunch of complete turkeys, you reckon?

Watch their suprise – nay, disgust. It’s hilarious.

I think they started to believe their own publicity, poor saps.

Fox News – Rich people paying rich people to tell middle class people to blame poor people. Only they forgot the poor people get a vote, too.

Gotta love democracy, sometimes.

Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of live cattle and sheep, often to predominantly Muslim countries where religious and cultural rules on meat consumption insist that animals are slaughtered by having their throats cut while still alive. Some Muslim authorities assert that stunning animals before killing them (as happens in most Western abbatoirs) does not offend against these rules, but many abbatoirs in countries like Turkey and Indonesia do not yet use stunning.

Pressure groups in Australia, and some politicians, argue that live exports should be banned, as transporting the animals long distances can often cause unnecessary hardship, and it is impossible to adequately police overseas killing  of animals to ensure it is carried out humanely.

They also argue that Australian farmers, and the country as a whole, would do better if the animals were slaughted here, and exported in an added-value packaged form overseas.

Moves to phase out the live export trade failed to pass the Australian parliament yesterday, defeated by the Labor and Liberal party’s combined votes.

Whatever the rights or wrongs of the case, this new video from Animals Australia sharpens the focus on the debate. I must warn you, unless you are remarkably hard hearted, I think it is very distressing. But I also think it should be seen as widely as possible, and that this is a debate we have to have, which is why I have linked to it. Discussion welcome.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mODf8OIUniw&feature=player_embedded