Friday, June 8, 2018

YouTube comments and History Wars

I'll preface this by saying I'm going to use the terms "white people" and "black people" just for simplicity rather than "people of European descent" or "people of colour" or "African Americans" I don't mean to offend anyone by the choice of terms...

I usually make it a rule never to read YouTube comments but occasionally my mind wanders and I accidentally start reading...

Yesterday I came across one that actually shocked me - I wont link to it because it was accompanied by a disgusting racial slur which doesn't deserve attention - but the gist was this;

A white music artist of the 1950's was performing a cover of a traditional blues song and someone made the expected comment about white people "stealing" black music - now leaving aside the "stealing" issue for now - what shocked me was the REPLY to that comment.

The reply was suggesting (ignoring the racial slur for now too) that black people were always taking credit for things they didn't invent. Now this is an opinion I've heard before but THIS one was in relation to BLUES music! There is hardly any invention as incontestably "black" as the blues!

Of all the black inventions and contributions to society that have been belittled, diminished or appropriated by white people, I've NEVER before heard anyone imply that black people were incorrectly claiming ownership of blues music.

Now, obviously this person in an ignorant, racist moron who doesn't deserve to be written (or read) about - but this attitude is a worrying symptom of a growing problem.

All around the world racism, sexism, class-ism, xenophobia and isolationism are on the rise - in the LONG term this is OK - it's a reaction to the fact that minorities are feeling more empowered to speak up and DEMAND change - every time this happens, the people in power get defensive and lash out. There is no one more outraged or offended than a privileged person who feels their privileges are under threat - not that they'll LOSE them, just that they may have to grant them to others as well!

A major symptom of these clashes of culture are a re-evaluation/re-writing of history by both sides - this is absolutely necessary - history was not only written by the "victor" or conqueror or colonizer - but it was written in a way to justify and legitimize their (often illegal and immoral) actions - it NEEDS to be rewritten from a viewpoint as unbiased and disinterested as possible - and most historians are striving to do just THAT.

Uneducated, ignorant people though are weighing in on these "history wars" and muddying the general public's ideas of history.
White people have ALWAYS been belittling other culture's achievements and contributions in order to justify their power over them or their right to seize their land or possessions.

But now, in an attempt to fight back - SOME people (on social media in particular) are fighting lies with MORE lies - claiming white people's inventions were really made by black inventors, that white races are less "pure" claiming various diseases originate with white people (due to their genetic inferiority) - a popular Instagram/Facebook meme even claims Mozart was black.

These are all arguments that white people have made against black people before but, besides the old adage "two wrongs don't make a right" - the more serious result of this false re imagining of history is that it increases the credulity of both sides and, like the climate change "debate" - it erodes people's confidence in "expert's" opinions - "historians are just making it all up". "I read that...", "did you know?" - anyone can say ANYTHING and have it believed by SOMEONE!

This issue of credulity spreads across all topics - I think it's due to society being used to believing what we read in books but not yet used to the Internet age where EVERYONE'S an author and a publisher (but that's a subject for another rant).

But the reason this YouTube comment (remember that?!) bugged me so much is that, unlike climate change or feminism, the history of the blues doesn't have many voices championing it.

In MY opinion, blues is criminally under appreciated already without having to come under attack from racists (AGAIN!)
The fact that Eric Clapton is a blues "God" while Freddie King is a footnote is already a tragedy of racism.

In my view, Charley Patton and Blind Lemon Jefferson should be held in the same regard as Beethoven and Mozart, or Dylan or Lennon or McCartney - instead they're viewed as novelties, curios - even as objects of mirth, ridicule and parody.
But for someone to imply that blues wasn't even INVENTED by black people?! Seriously what is the world coming to?!


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

SpaceX Falcon 9 landing!

This is a fantastic clip of a very important achievement - the first time a rocket has boosted a payload into space and vertically landed the first stage. Why is that a big deal? Because we are now, as a species, entirely reliant on access to space - half our technology wouldn't work if we could get access at least to low Earth orbit. And it has to be affordable - we're no longer in a "money is no object" Cold War race to space - we're dependent on space for our day to day lives.
So the privatization of the space industry is vital and reusable rocket technologies are obviously an inevitable part of the sustainability of space access as a business.
Depending on how much of a nerd you are you may be aware that several private companies have been experimenting with vertical landings for years. Several successful tests have been made with vertical liftoff/landing but this one is different.
This rocket was not a low altitude test - it put 11 satellites into orbit AND landed (the first stage) vertically - it didn't just go straight up and down - it boosted the second stage to around 5000 kph, turned around and landed safely - wow!
Now this video was a live feed from Space X and it's actually quite moving! The emotion is contagious! This was an incredible achievement!
If you're VERY nerdy you'll enjoy the whole 45 minutes - if you're just Nerd-curious you'll want to watch from lift-off at around 22:00 to landing at around 33:00 - the actual mission was to launch the satellites which happens later in the film but the really big news was the landing of that first stage - VERY EXCITING! (and they end with a Star Wars pun - beautiful!)

Friday, December 18, 2015

Coloured Stone - Black Boy

Who remembers this beautiful song (and film clip) from 1984? This is my absolute favourite piece of music from Australia - impossible to listen to it just once and it still brings a tear. Like Nina Simone's version of "I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free", "Black Boy" deals with such heartbreaking issues in the most positive, uplifting, empowering way - truly a great piece of art.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Jaguar XJ13

A look at the incredible Jaguar XJ13 from 1966. The ultimate "could-have-been" supercar. Only one was ever made (though there are loads of replicas around now) and it never got to race. But this is a great clip of the real one - listen to that 5L V12 - glorious!

Monday, December 14, 2015

(un?)Restoring Star Wars

 For my generation Star Wars was the biggest thing in the galaxy - department stores were entirely filled with Star Wars merchandise - not just the toy section - the clothes, bedclothes, toiletries, stationary, sports equipment, furniture - Star Wars was everywhere!
And we watched Star Wars at the cinema, on TV, and over and over again on VHS. We'd record it from TV and wear out the tape by the time it was repeated on one of the other four channels!
Now I wont talk about the "other" three movies here because I simply didn't like them - sure I was disappointed they weren't better - but we still had the original movies to watch - until we didn't!
While George Lucas was and is perfectly entitled to make movies about whatever he wants which we can like or dislike - changing the original movies we grew up with and preventing the sale of the un-modified versions was a very strange decision.
Partly because it was pointless - partly because they are a part of pop culture history - and partly because it was so clumsily and poorly done from a technical and artistic point of view!
The corny CGI effects didn't blend at all with the live action footage and the extra aliens and droids detracted from the realism of the scenes filmed in Tunisia and Death Valley particularly - it looks like "Song Of The South" or "Mary Poppins"!
Adding dialog by different voice artists by placing shadows over actors mouths?! Adding a Muppett looking Sarlacc - even adding Gungans into Return Of The Jedi! "Weesa free!".
And the extra scene with Jabba the Hutt is just bizarre - Han Solo repeats, word for word, the conversation he just had with Greedo while a cheesy CGI Jabba slithers agilely around...No. Just no.
So some years ago I downloaded some reasonable quality versions of the original films (I assume they're from good quality VHS copies? I don't know.)
But Petr Harmy has gone a good many steps further to produce a "Despecialised Edition" - this is a triumph of the human will and the power of SciFi fandom! Read the article here.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Friday, December 11, 2015

1952 Ferrari 212 "barchetta"

One of the most beautiful early Ferraris - one of the most beautiful machines ever built in my opinion - a 1952 212 Export "barchetta" by Touring. This car competed in the Targa Florio in 1952 and 53 and sold this year (2015) for EU 6,720,000 (around 10 million AUD).