Picks of the Week 27 February 2009
Nicky Hager’s The Hollow Men inspired both a stage play and a documentary but up until now his first, and in journalistic terms far more impressive work, Secret and Lies has failed to inspire a fictionalised account. The Echelon Conspiracy starring, among others Martin Sheen and Shane West, if not strictly based on Nicky’s book at least cites his work on the Echelon spy network on its official website.
If the trailer’s anything to go by The Echelon Conspiracy is run-of-the-mill Hollywood crap – but if it sparks interest in Secret and Lies and the Echelon spy network Nicky played a key role in exposing it can’t be all bad.
The filmmakers may link to this article by Nicky, but the first he heard of the film was when the Scoop Review of Books sent him a link to the trailer.
It’s been months since I did a Picks of the Week so the following isn’t restricted to the past week so much as a random selection of web reading from the last few months.
Ever seen those WWJD badges worn by earnest Christians? What would Jesus do, they ask themselves when confronted with one of life’s daily dilemmas. You can imagine bloggers wearing something similar: WWOW or What Would Orwell Write.
Well, while it won’t help answer that particular question you can now see just what Orwell was writing in his diary 70 years ago. Orwell’s Diary entries are being put up daily exactly 70 years to the day since he wrote them.
Orwell’s “currently” in Morocco writing and sketching the minutiae of his daily life. In truth this is probably only of interest to Orwell fanatics – but his eye for detail is in constant evidence.
The New York Times has a good review of some recent collections of Orwell’s writing for those wanting to read what the master intended us to read.
God’s Own Country – that’s here, in Aotearoa isn’t it? Well, that’s what I thought until I saw it was the title of a book reviewed in the Guardian. It turns out the book in question, written by the delightfully named Ross Raisin, is set in Yorkshire.
It got me wondering whether Godzone or God’s Own Country was a New Zealand phrase and was surprised to find it’s the advertising slogan of the Indian State of Kerala.
But the ever reliable Wikipedia (?) confirms that it’s a New Zealand phrase dating back 120 years.
Talking of Kerala, the state’s most famous daughter Arundhati Roy wrote one of the most thoughtful responses to the Mumbai terrorist attacks.
If the economic crisis has an upside it’s the proliferation of interesting and alternative economic analysis being produced. Here’s Michael Hudson’s response to Alan Greenspan’s extraordinary announcement that he supports the nationalisation of banks.
Naomi Klein has said the current crisis is capitalism’s equivalent of the collapse of the Berlin Wall. While, the comparison is almost certainly premature, I would like to see some of our high priests of the market – the two Rogers (Douglas and Kerr), for example, get together with the likes of Ken Douglas for tips on how to cope with the collapse of their world view.
Joseph Stiglitz was interviewed last week on Democracy Now and argued convincingly that Obama is bailing out the bankers not the banks.
My only niggle with Stiglitz’s analysis was his claim that Americans weren’t getting “bang for the bucks” when it came to their tax dollars. Surely, that’s the only thing they’re getting: something you would think the author of The Three Trillion Dollar War would know only too well.
Ralph Nader wrote an interesting piece on how well Credit Unions have fared during the financial melt-down.
It’s a theme I explored with a representative of Britain’s Cooperative Bank on Radio NZ Idea’s programme. It’s an extraordinary success story – a multi-billion dollar bank, owned by its members and aggressively idealistic and ethical. You can listen to it here.
Finally, here’s a story form the Independent on how the economic crisis is impacting on the world’s workshop: China. It reports that up to 20 million peasants could be heading back to the countryside this year as work in the factories dry up.