Saturday, August 4, 2012

Bad Journalism, Jurassic Park, and Bollywood Boobs (Link Round-Up 8/4/12)

Some Australian billionaire wants to make a real "Jurassic Park"
It was the same source who provided the Daily with an exclusive peek at Mr Palmer's plans to build towering hotels at the Palmer Resort with a 20-storey sky needle and a giant, London Eye-style ferris wheel. 
Mr Palmer has not commented on this vision yet. Sunshine Coast Mayor Mark Jamieson has said Mr Palmer was very serious about the plans. 
It is also understood Mr Palmer intends to target the Middle East market for his resort.
The Canadian-Indian pornstar in a new Bollywood film
The film is due to open this weekend at 1,300 screens with the equivalent of an 18 certificate. But is India ready? Manish Dubey, editor at the Bollywood channel UTV Stars, thinks so. "The days of a bikini providing titillation are gone. We are now moving towards bold acts which include love making scenes, going semi-nude and bold dialogues," he said, adding: "Nothing can be deemed 'shocking' for today's audience."

Even before its release, the film has proved too much for some parts of India, however. On Tuesday activists in Punjab from a group called Bhagwan Valmiki Shakti Sena burned effigies of Leone and her female director, Pooja Bhatt – who, in her previous life as an actor was one of the first Bollywood stars to kiss on screen.
150-year-old Bangladesh brothel fights for survival
The battle against long-established brothels in Bangladesh — a conservative Muslim-majority nation — is spreading, with at least four red light districts closed in the last decade.

The country’s largest brothel, Tanbazaar, situated on the outskirts of Dhaka, was shut down largely due to pressure from a ruling party lawmaker.

Tanbazaar, established in 1888, was converted into a market and many of the 2,600 sex workers ended up on the streets.
Chinese elites hire body-doubles to go to jail for them
The ability to hire so-called substitute criminals is just one way in which China’s extreme upper crust are able to live by their own set of rules. While Occupy Wall Street grabbed attention for its attacks on the “1 percent,” in China, a much smaller fraction of the country controls an even greater amount of wealth. The top one-tenth of 1 percent in China controls close to half of the country’s riches. The children and relatives of China’s rulers, many of whom grew up together, form a thicket of mutually beneficial relationships, with many able to enrich themselves financially and, if necessary, gain protection from criminal allegations.

A police officer in central China agreed to discuss the phenomenon of “replacement convicts” with me so long as I didn’t refer to him by name. “America has the rule of law, but China has the rule of people,” the police officer told me. “If somebody is powerful, there’s a good chance they can make this happen. Spend some money and remain free.” According to the police officer, hired stand-ins are “not common but not rare either.” As examples, the officer listed several high-ranking mafia figures whose underlings serve time in their stead. The mafia cares for the substitute’s family and pays a bonus for the time served.
African news-reporting focuses too much on misery
In Goma, part of a region the United Nations’ special representative on sexual violence in conflict Margot Wallström two years ago dubbed “the rape capital of the world,” I went to an impromptu hip-hop show, full of dancing Congolese. In Kinshasa, nearly a thousand miles away on the other side of the country, I met an oboist for the city’s symphony orchestra.

Congo, like America, is very many things, all at the same time. This should be obvious. Why would a foreign country be any less complex than our own? So why, then, if you’re reading or watching most American news, do you tend to see the same simplified stories over and over again?
Jonah Lehrer, journalism, and America's "shortcut" culture
What Lehrer did was plainly wrong. Still, it would be naive to think that quotes are never massaged. Though making up words and thoughts is obviously unacceptable, "cleaning up" a quote is something of a tradition.

If someone speaks in awkward stops and starts, repetitively, ungrammatically or otherwise in a way not conducive to a verbatim appearance on the page, there is no hard-and-fast rule for making those words more reader friendly. Ellipsis points and brackets? Indirect quotes? Taking out only the "ums" and "you knows"? It all requires having enough trust in ourselves that we can also ask our readers (and those we quote) to have that trust too.
Gore Vidal, and the death of the witty, public intellectual 
But although we hear from a far broader spectrum of voices, the end of the era of unabashedly elite public intellectuals coincides with a loss of a certain unironic seriousness in popular culture. The 1968 confrontation between Vidal and Buckley is famous today because of the way the two men sniped at each other, but before they descended into personal insults, the two men were engaged in a nuanced debate of constitutional principles. Buckley argued that Chicago's police could be forgiven for trying to silence protesters whose complaints might comfort America’s enemies in Vietnam; Vidal countered that political dissent, no matter how provocative, is protected under the First Amendment.

The angry confrontation between these two men is remembered today largely because such outbursts were so rare, so embarrassing. But now, when much political debate is designed to be entertainingly diverting, the name-calling would have been the whole point. With Gore Vidal's death, the world of letters has lost a valuable voice. And we have all lost yet another member of a generation of public figures that was willing, without apology or ironic deflection, to take serious matters seriously.

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