Wednesday, March 24, 2010

TV, Lisbon, Haiti, Earthquakes

And we watched some Portuguese TV. It was all in foreign, so we did not have a breeze what they were on about, but it was fun watching telenovellas and trying to work out how the characters related to each other. One great one kept cutting between some people doing one thing to these two women in a kitchen having a conversation. One of them was doing most of the talking, while the other kept being astonished by everything said to her. The astonished one was a wonder to behold – she seemed to have an endless array of non-verbal squeaking noises to draw on. We are still doing impressions of her whenever anything even slightly out of the ordinary occurs.

Ruined Churches
One other big TV thing while we were there was the Haiti earthquake. Lisbon had its own earthquake back in the 17th century, as big a deal across Europe in its own way as the Haitian earthquake now, if not bigger. It seems like the relief effort back then was exemplary, and the grandeur of the city now is largely a product of its rebuilding back then. So who knows, maybe a better Haiti will rise from the rubble*.

What was interesting about the TV coverage of the Haitian earthquake was the difference between how CNN and the European news networks covered it. The European channels seemed very factual – this is happening, here are scenes from Haiti, here is stuff about relief efforts, etc. The CNN coverage, on the other hand, was incredibly emo – lots of asking people how they felt about what was going on, with even the anchorfolk in the studio having to let us in on their emotional state.

It is easy to scoff at CNN here for its touchy feely response, but maybe an event of horror like this should not be dealt with as cold news. On the other hand, one problem with the CNN approach seemed to be an endless search for US-centric human interest stories – Americans whose relatives were caught up in the disaster, Americans who were themselves in Haiti, Americans who were trying to do something about the disaster, and so on.

Of course, Irish news is as bad. I think there was one Irish guy killed in the earthquake, and I bet he was all over the news here. Fortunately I was in Lisbon.

That is maybe it for Lisbon. I would love to go back, if only to check out the exciting modern bit of town that we never really looked at. Anyway, if you want to see pictures of Lisbon (and neighbouring Sintra), follow the links.

An inuit panda production

* Or maybe not – 18th century Lisbon was the capital of a world empire; Port-au-Prince is not.

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