Digest – June 13 2010

<bloggery overshare>My dinner was lovely, fish and chips on The MV Cill Arne.</bloggery overshare>


Constantin Grudgiev maps Dublin’s importance to the Irish economy.

Anthony Sheridan; expenses scandal confirms political system is still rotten to the core. Lot of quotes there I hadn’t read before…

P O’Neill with questions arising from the Honohan report.

Two former members of The Sunday Times’s legendary Insight team recall the time they spent investigating the events of Bloody Sunday

Hours after the killings, we were sent to Derry as part of the Insight team by Harold Evans, the paper’s editor. We stayed there for two months. We interviewed 250 witnesses of what began as a peaceful, if illegal, civil rights march.

We saw Bogsiders, young and old, write carefully and purposefully in longhand on lined notepads about the horrific scenes they had witnessed that day. And we took our own statements. The pile of primary evidence grew and grew.

The families of the victims took us into their homes and into their hearts; people such as Lawrence McElhinney, whose son, Kevin, aged 17, wearing his Sunday best, a brown suit and new brown zip-up boots, threw some stones at the paras before fleeing the Rossville barricade as the live rounds came in. He was shot before reaching the flats.

The relatives remembered the brief and brutally truncated lives of their children, producing cherished photographs of happier times. Some of those we talked to still clung to the clothes their children were wearing when they died. One family had preserved a bar of candy that their son took to the march.

In their barracks in Belfast, the paras who fired shots made their own statements, equally harrowing, to the military police. Few of the young soldiers involved had ever before fired a shot in anger from their 7.62mm rifles, a weapon designed for use on the modern battlefield and capable of inflicting devastating injuries at close range.

We studied the army’s evidence as revealed in half a million words in those submissions. We talked to military officers and government officials. We collected 500 photographs to help us reconstruct the killing ground in the Bogside. An amateur radio ham gave us a recording of the army’s messages for the operations during the entire afternoon, an invaluable tool for reconstructing the day’s events.

Widgery concluded that some of the paras’ firing had “bordered on the reckless”, but our evidence suggested something worse.

Oh for journalists to be given the time to do work like that. Or for newspapers to have the funds to make it possible. It’s all about speed these days.

Are you involved with a non-profit or NGO? Journalist Markham Nolan wants to help out, no charge.


Jay Rosen on the wisdom – or lack thereof – in [certain] crowds.

Let’s wrap this up. You need to know what to reject when you’re rejecting the idea that the collective is all-wise. Consulting the source code for the idea, we find that crowds are not inherently wise at all. Rather, they are wise when…. there’s a right answer to the question, when the question isn’t a matter of taste or cultural quality, when there is diversity of opinion and independence of mind among group members, when there are specialists who can draw on local knowledge, and when there’s “a way of summarizing people’s opinions into one collective verdict.”

Ten mysterious undeciphered scripts.

Brilliant data visualisation; San Francisco crimes mapped as elevations on the map, per category. That’s some serious public service journalism.

BBC documentary from 1987, ‘Fourteen Days in May‘.

Fourteen Days in May is a documentary directed by Paul Hamann. The program recounts the final days before the execution of Edward Earl Johnson, an American prisoner convicted of rape and murder. Johnson protested his innocence and claimed that his confession had been made under duress. He was executed in Mississippi’s gas chamber on May 20, 1987.

Robert Winston comment piece in The Sunday Timesif we hope to stop technology being misused, we need a well-informed, literate public’…

New York Times editorial on the geopolitic situation arising from the storming of the Gaza flotilla, to phrase it kindly…

Israel also has a strong interest in repairing relations with Turkey. That is yet another reason why it should support a credible, independent international investigation. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu still doesn’t get this. Washington needs to help him understand all that is at stake.

I love how Scott Adams thinks.

Glenn Greenwald; journalistic balance at the expense of truth.

The end of Belgium as we know it?


Darragh Doyle interviews Ken Wardrop, director of His & Hers, the film which I haven’t shut up about in these here Digests for the last few weeks. National release, June 18th, go see it.

Also, Donald Clarke of The Irish Times has a feature piece on Wardrop in this week’s The Ticket supplement.

Even before he graduated from the National Film School at the Dún Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology, Wardrop had achieved quiet acclaim for a series of short documentaries that were touching, gorgeously composed and – most significantly – utterly original in tone. His graduation film, Undressing My Mother, a study of his great muse, won an Ifta, a European Film Award, a mention at Sundance and another half-dozen prestigious gongs.

Further films such as Useless Dog and Farewell Packets of Ten demonstrated the director’s singular facility to listen to ordinary people and to turn what they say into neat, warm narratives.

As a result, there was much expectation when his first feature, His & Hers , premiered at last year’s Galway Film Fleadh. The picture is easy to summarise: 70 women from the Irish midlands, their contributions arranged in ascending order of age, discuss the men in their lives. Beginning with a baby, and ending with an elderly lady, this neat, crafty synecdoche allows one story to emerge from many.