Thursday, September 27, 2012

Nordic Noir: A Recipe for Addiction

by Madeleine Kando

For the past two months I have been glued to my TV set for most of every evening. I have become addicted to a genre called ‘Nordic Noir’, which takes its name from the literature genre of Scandinavian crime fiction. It has gained traction in the United States and Britain with the famous trilogy ‘Girl with a Dragon Tattoo’.

If you suffer from a short attention span, if you don’t like crime stories to divert into complex character analysis which only on the surface have nothing to do with the crime itself, you won’t like these movies. Nordic Noir movies move at a snail’s pace. In ‘The Killing’ for instance (‘Forbrydelsen’ in Danish), one single murder of a teenage girl spans the entire 20 episodes. Even the BBC’s excellently produced 1990’s ‘Prime Suspect’ (whose main character is played brilliantly by Helen Mirren), doesn’t come close to taking that long to get to the punch line. Read more...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Crime and Punishment: Who is Nuttier, Norway or California?

By Tom Kando

This Fall, Californians will vote on Proposition 36. This would change the state’s 1994 Three-Strikes Law.   Currently, the law stipulates 25–to-life prison terms for offenders who commit any third crime after having already committed two previous serious or violent felonies. The third crime can be ANY minor crime defined as a felony.

The Sacramento Bee (September 24, 2012) provides two examples:

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Is America Responsible for the World?

By Tom Kando

The moment one dares to criticize Muslim misbehavior, the knee-jerk Left and many intellectuals go haywire: One gets labeled a  McCarthyist, a  racist, a  xenophobe, a bigot, a trigger-happy John Wayne (all things which I have been called  - in print, no less). Then, they proceed to list all the crimes committed by US imperialists over the centuries. Finally, they engage in erudite “explanations” of WHY Middle Easterners and Muslims misbehave, explanations which usually ebb over into JUSTIFICATIONS.  Examples of this abound among the comments made to my two recent posts, “The Time for Pacifism has not yet Arrived,” and “For no Rhyme or Reason.” At the same time, the Right also goes haywire: Read more...

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

For no Rhyme or Reason

By Tom Kando

The (Muslim) world explodes in a frenzy of anti-Americanism. There is much confusion in the media, among some of our readers (see the exchanges following my recent post “The Time for Pacifism has not yet Arrived”), in letters to the editor, and of course in the Muslim world.

What we have is a resurgence of the old and virulent disease of anti-Americanism. This disease is not unlike anti-Semitism. The millions who are again singing that song do so because it’s a knee-jerk habit, ingrained into them by mullahs and other brainwashers, because they don’t know any other songs.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lance Armstrong: They all Cheated. Does that Make it Less Bad?

By Tom Kando

It’s a bit late, but I still want to share  my thoughts about one of my great idols - Lance Armstrong:

We have been told by the  Dutch press (Telegraaf, NRC-Handelsblad, etc.) and then the American media that the following people are testifying  that  Lance Armstrong has engaged in doping: Levi Leipheimer,  Christian Vande Velde, David Zabriskie, George Hincapie, Tyler Hamilton  and Jonathan Vaughters. Five of these men did this year’s  Tour de France - the first four  as competitors, Vaughters as a team director. Read more...

Friday, September 14, 2012

9/11: The Time for Pacifism has not yet Arrived

By Tom Kando

Just a few days after the anniversary of 9/11, I join Madeleine in her American patriotism (see her recent The American Way). On September 11th , I watched a lot of  footage on the History channel, documenting the monstrous attack eleven years ago.

So I’m thinking: The enormity of this event inevitably enters it  into world  history, not just US history. Today, the average Dutchman or Senegalese may  not be glued to the TV watching documentaries of what happened on 9/11/01.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The American Way

by Madeleine Kando

Europeans like to make fun of Americans, calling them naïve, crude, unsophisticated. They don't have the finesse, the cultural history or the sense of style that Europeans pride themselves on. I know, I was (and maybe still am a little bit) one of those snobs.

True, there are times when the taste for vulgarity of a Jerry Springer show or the glitz and glamour of the current political conventions with the confetti, the blaring music, the thousands of cheering, flag waving fans turns me off. A little less Americana would be fine by me. Read more...

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Why Obama is Infinitely Preferable to Romney

By Tom Kando

I just returned from Rome, and I have been reading  Roman history. There are many  parallels. 2,000 years ago, the struggle was similar. Patricians and Plebeians fought each other for centuries, the former to preserve the privileges of the few, the latter to expand   the rights, the opportunities and the  lives of the many. Even the political arguments used by the Roman plutocracy are uncannily similar to those used by Republicans today:  affluent Patricians pontificated in the Senate that success should not be punished; that a man only has himself (and the Gods) to thank for his success, and should only blame himself for his failures. Social Darwinism was alive and well then, and it thrives today. Change takes time. Read more...

Friday, September 7, 2012

What's Hollywood in French?

By Tom Kando

Today I thought I’d amuse you instead of riling you up about the presidential election and other nasty stuff. 

Although I grew up in 4 different countries, one thing to which I was exposed no matter where I lived, was Hollywood. In the 20th century, the American century, nothing  was more ubiquitous than American cinema, no matter where you lived.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Roman Holiday: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

by Tom Kando

My wife and I were  in Rome recently. A couple of thieves tried to steal my briefcase, but thanks to my heroic behavior they failed. The Good is that an Italian bystander helped me (maybe); the Bad was the mugging, and the Ugly was that I had to dive into a garbage bin to retrieve my briefcase.

We arrived in Rome in the middle of a heat wave in late afternoon, by train from Florence. A taxi dropped  us off in front of the Paba Hotel on the Via Cavour. This is a nice little place which we have frequented many times over the years. The Via Cavour is a very busy major thoroughfare. The hotel is a block from the Forum, which we can see from our window.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

How Clint Eastwood Didn't Make My Day

by Madeleine Kando

First off, I have to confess that I have always been a Clint Eastwood fan. His spaghetti westerns are my all-time late-night favorites. How can anyone not fall head over heels with his 5'oclock shadow under his broad rimmed cowboy hat? The mix of indifference and concern in his crow-feet lined eyes? His tall frame with a hint of a stoop which makes his masculine body even more attractive? As I was watching my idol deliver his speech at the Republican Convention yesterday, all of this vanished in a puff of smoke. It was replaced with a sense of complete befuddlement. Read more...