Monday, 22 November 2010

This week's political viewing 22nd-28th November

It's been ages since I last wrote a political viewing article, but I've got a few to suggest. As I said last time, these haven't necessarily been on the telly recently, but they're all available online as of 22nd November.

Also, I just noticed the title said September, not November. That's because I'm a moron. Fixed.

The Vice Guide to North Korea

[caption id="attachment_1733" align="alignleft" width="219" caption="The wonders of the North Korean regime. That little dot is the part of the country with electricity. Contrast with the ROK beneath it."][/caption]

With the mysterious country recently hitting the headlines once again with Kim Jong Il expected to be replaced as leader of North Korea, I was reminded of a three-part documentary I'd previously watched in which two journalists manage to get into the country and do some filming. Having visited the demilitarised zone between North and South, the duo decided to try to get in proper, and once he does, he's treated to a disturbing, weird, downright scary place. The explorers' journey in the fortress country starts by staying in a 50-storey hotel which houses no-one but them and a banquet hall filled with food and no-one to eat it. Since it's factual, there's no point in my reviewing it, but it's a fantastic watch: informative, entertaining, and bloody scary.

Episode one, two, and three.

1983: The Brink of Apocalypse

A chilling tale of just how close we came to nuclear annihilation. A series of events misunderstandings and a lack of communication between the USA and USSR pushed the Cold War to one of its most tense periods. Most interesting is the tale of Stanislav Petrov, the unsung hero who was faced with a choice of whether or not to report to his superiors that the satellite detection system had reported incoming missiles. His intuition warned him that it was a false positive, and fearing that the tense bunker-like atmosphere in the Kremlin would lead to them rashly firing a counter-attack, he chose not to report the warning to his superiors. By doing so, he potentially saved the world from nuclear fallout.

Britain's Trillion Pound Horror Story

A shocking counter-argument to the fools like me who attempted to play down the UK Government's debt. If you're sceptical of the cuts, watch it. If you're not, watch it. It's especially worrying that some MPs don't know the difference between debt and deficit. It also reminds us that, whilst it's easy for us to be in favour of greater spending on things like the NHS and education, it always means the Government taking more of our money and deciding how to spend it on our behalf.

JFK - the Making of Modern Politics

When did elections become so vacuous and based upon personality instead of policy? Andrew Marr makes the compelling case that it all began with John F. Kennedy, who tried to launch himself into the Presidency as a young, vibrant, exciting candidate who attracted voters on the basis of himself, and not his competence and policy. The parallels between Kennedy, Clinton, and Blair are numerous enough to be amusing. Just a little bit of history repeating, as Shirley Bassey might say. Personally, this documentary just makes me dislike Kennedy.

Since this one is on the BBC iPlayer - which only lets you keep downloaded files for a certain amount of time  before they stop working - I'll give you some advice. You should absolutely not Google 'iplayer downloader'. You should then not click the first result. It would be terrible if you were to click on the link on the page called ipdl.exe version 1.14. Under no circumstances should you then run the programme, and copy/paste the below link into the the application and click the 'Download' button. Heaven forbid you'd actually want to be allowed to keep a copy of the programme you've paid for through the License Fee.

Edit: The BBC, being absolute pricks as they are, have decided we shouldn't be allowed to do this. We pay for their programmes through the license fee, yet they try to prevent us doing the equivalent of recording their programmes on tape or DVD.

Fine then BBC, I'll just record all of your programmes on my DVD recorder which are worth watching (pretty few and far between, actually).

Rant over, it's particularly useful for any A2 Politics students doing the USA course, since it relates to sections about elections and the media, and was conveniently broadcast whilst I'm writing an answer to a question about the media's impact upon the presidential elections. Smashing.


I have two lengthy articles lined up for the next few days, but they need proofreading and tinkering with before I launch a combined 7000-odd words at you.

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