Thursday, May 13, 2004

Site re-design, techie stuff, and Orientalism in Iraq

OK - so as you can see, I've redesigned the blog, or rather - utilising Blogger's new templates - I've shifted my old blog into a new pair of clothes. I feel slightly guilty, as I actually did quite a lot of fiddling with the old template (to the point where I - vainly - considered it mine) - this new one looks nice, I think - but it's off-the-peg. Still, the new Blogger does offer several whizzy things, like the profile (right) and comments facility, which I trust will see a little use after my barren attempt at introducing them previously. Even if you've only wandered onto the site in search of information on Gordon Ramsay (hello!) or Kano's version of 'Fit But You Know It'...

You see, I've been reading my referrals. You know, if you drop me a line I can talk about reality TV for as long as you like :-)

Lots of good stuff in the Guardian today, as is usually the case on Thursdays.

An article on political web-game playing is not particularly interesting, bar one paragraph which describes a game called September 12th:

A controversial "news game" created by Frasca and a team of Uruguayan programmers, it shows a crowded town, where Arab terrorists mingle with ordinary people. Your job is to get terrorists without killing civilians. But no matter how carefully you aim, you end up with some collateral damage. When that happens, lots more terrorists appear. Think of it as SimChomsky.

Frasca says the idea was to play around with gaming conventions. The sniper rifle is meant to suggest the idea of a surgical strike, but when you fire, in Frasca's words "you create a big mess". And, in contrast to most games, you can't shoot constantly - you are forced to wait and see the results of each missile fired. So players are denied their thumb candy and forced to think instead.

There's also a feature on camera mobiles in the what's new section. Now, first, let me set my stall out by saying that I do not have a camera phone, and - although I wouldn't say no if someone gave me one - my interest factor in them is practically zero. Give me a polaroid camera any day of the week. However, the following does sound really interesting, so there's me eating my words...

Snap happy
O2 is hoping to use the camera phone to resurrect the British tradition of sending holiday postcards. Subscribers to the network can now send hard copies of their photos accompanied by a short message simply by sending the image, text and address details via SMS to O2. The network then creates a postcard that is sent first class to be delivered the next day in the UK no matter where the picture was taken. Compatible with all O2 camera phones, the O2 PhotoCards can be sent in more than 50 countries. They cost... (snip)

Anyway, far more interesting than all of that is Jonathan Raban's excellent article on the culture of dehumanisation and orientalism which is so clearly evident in America's war with Iraq. When I was at university I started a book by Raban, Soft City, which I rate to this day as one of the most excitingly written serious books I've attempted. When I say 'attempted' you will realise that, love the first chapter as I did, I never finished it, somehow. Anyway, he is on form here,

"The jail has become a grotesque nursery, with Private Lynndie England (her very name like the nom de guerre of a sex worker), cigarette jutting from her cheerful grin, playing the part of the au pair from hell. The pictures appear to be so single-minded in their intent, so artfully directed, so relentlessly orientalist in their conception, that one looks instinctively for a choreographer - a senior intelligence officer, perhaps, who keeps Edward Said on his bedside table, and ransacks the book each night for new ideas."


Francey said...

I like what you did with the template. (It seems like you got it working after all). Adding your own picture certainly customizes it.

jonathan said...
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