13 August 2009

Hearts and Minds

I love Christiane Amanpour. I remember seeing her on CNN when I was in my early teens. I was one of those geeks in middle school who would actually read the Time and Newsweek magazines in the school library, and I remember reading an interview someone did with her about her apartment, which at the time was in Paris. How glamorous, 13 year-old me thought. Her elegant accent fascinated me, and she was always in the midst of whatever conflict was going on, wherever in the world that might be.

Even as a young teenager, though, I was a princess, and I thought that the conditions reporting in war-torn countries was a bit miserable for my tastes. Running water? No. That means 1. no showers and 2. no flush toilets. Hmm. I don't think so. Spotty telephone service; in those days, long before mobile phones were common; no contact with my friends and family, except for rare, rushed, and expensive phone calls. Yeah, I dunno if I'd like that so much.

So I admired her, and I envied her a good bit (an apartment in the Île de la Cité?? Sign me up!) but I didn't want to be her.

About a year ago, CNN advertised a documentary that she did, and I wanted to watch it, but didn't remember to either set the DVR or to watch it when it was on. Fascinating stuff. But TV isn't super-important to me, and unless J-man happens to be in it, yeah, I'm not making a supreme effort to make sure I'm watching.

I happened to catch a bit of it tonight, on the HD version of CNN that my cable company carries on its digital tier.

It is funny to me that we talk so much about bias in the media, and yet, Amanpour's opinion is crystal clear; she disapproves of programs she profiles in Gaza and The West Bank that are teaching children to be militants. She likes a few children's programs that are run with American money, Yankee teachers, and western ideals.

Yes, I happen to agree with her. However, does it serve purpose, then, to change anyone's ideas? I don't know. She's profiling the Islamic world, in particular, young people in Gaza, Kabul, and in other places in the Muslin world. I wonder how someone whose families were killed during the most recent bombings in the West Bank would feel about her reporting. Neutral? Balanced? Not so much, I don't think.

Fascinating, absolutely. Mystifying, too, I don't understand the points of view because I've not lived under a constant state of war and bombings. Something I'll need to watch again to absorb more fully.

07 August 2009

Summertime laziness, I presume.

Since I've come out of the dark ages and use an RSS feed reader to follow the various blogs I like, I've found it easier to include more and more and more blogs and newsfeeds. The reader tracks two of Sweden's biggest newspapers for me, the Svenska Dagbladet (The Swedish Daily Blade) and Sydsvenskan (The Southern Swede). Both big newspapers, both on the newsy beat 24/7. So every time I open the feed reader, the count is over 100. 50 or 60 or more of the new, unread items are from the newspapers. And I can't deal. I end up clicking the "mark all as read" button rather than slogging my way through the headlines.

I read Swedish OK. I speak it far better than I write it, but I'd judge myself at about a 4th or 5th grade reading level, whereas my writing looks like a 2nd grader. I'm overly proud, even smug sometimes about my ability to speak it, I haven't had to say, "I don't understand" in a very long time. Conversation is noooo problem. The only way I've managed to retain the Swedish all these years (and the 18th anniversary of the day I left for Sweden was this week, damn, when did that happen?) is because I've worked hard at it. Often. The rise of teh interwebs really helped that, because even back in those dark, early days of the technology, all of the major media jumped right on board and I could look at the newspapers. Sometimes it made me sad to even see Swedish written, because I missed it a lot. And the Swedish newspapers, even the reputable ones, tend toward the tabloid end of things, much like the British press. Three inch tall screaming headlines, sensationalism at its finest. Sometimes amusing, sometimes annoying, always attention-getting.

Anyway. I'm off track. Again.

When I'm speaking Swedish, I understand it with no problem. When I'm reading it, sometimes I have to read it out loud, sounding it out, reading the same sentence 3-4 times before I get a grasp on it. For an avid reader, it is frustrating, to say the least. But this dis-inclination to read the headlines is an odd thing. I changed the language setting on both Facebook and GMail to Swedish, and I'm dealing fine with that. Of course, you're seeing the same thing all the time on both of those, your in-box for e-mail and the list of who has commented on what for Facebook. Whereas the headlines change frequently, so I'd actually have to work at that. Mmm-hmm, I'm calling that. Summer laziness.

03 August 2009

Proof, if anyone needed it, that I have a twisted sense of humor.

Saw this on a forum I frequent; the context in which it was posted is irrelevant here.
Suffice to say, it made me absolutely howl with laughter.

Twisted? Moi? Surely, you jest.