Thursday, January 31, 2008

Jeremy Beadle Dies

It's not just sad that a man should die of pneumonia at the age of only 59. I admit I really didn't like Jeremy Beadle as a TV presenter, but this guy was brave, and was an unbelievable philanthropist. Raising over £100 million makes him as worthy of respect in death as he ultimately turned out to be in life.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Message From the Real President

Of course he makes some fundamental misunderstandings - as a stereotypical straight man (I mean look at Tipper) he probably can't really think outside of the sexual *ahem* box - marriage as the means of locking in fidelity, promiscuity is somehow fundamentally a 'problem' - but ultimately his point is entirely right and just. Loving your partner should be encouraged and celebrated, whoever they are. The statistics show worldwide, in countries which have embraced same sex marriage in its many models - full marriage as in Canada and Spain, through to Britain's civil partnerships - that it's something we're just as good at as straight people. In fact considering that marriage is in decline with them, we're doing it quite a bit better.

Speaking as an American citizen, who is also British, as a gay man who married his male partner in 2006, I feel proud to see the man who was voted for by the majority of Americans in 2000 to speak for them, speaking of my world, my ambitions and my love for my partner in this way. My marriage to Tom doesn't threaten anyone else's, and whilst we've made plenty of mistakes, even some disastrous ones, we remain driven by the entirely symbolic commitment. It's that symbolism which is important. I am someone whose worldview is entirely secular, yet I accept fully that all cultures and individuals have always been driven by belief in the metaphysical; it seems to be part of our nature. It may seem contradictory to some, but it's something I embrace. If only Obama and Clinton had the courage to talk in this way - this is at the heart of what real change is all about.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

An Intelligent President

A very interesting watch and he makes some excellent points, particularly in saying that America's economic dependence on oil completely misses the point as it's a post-industrial economy. If Hillary wins the election, I wonder how many of these ideas might be attempted?

Democrats in South Carolina

Well I called it right and was also right in saying that the campaign tone would collapse. The Guardian is right in saying that it's important that the Democratic candidates be tested - whether Hillary can appeal to anyone other than her base and whether Obama actually has any big ideas to match up to the rhetoric. But it's also true that if they spend all their energies demolishing each other, it's entirely true that someone like McCain could creep through the middle.

I'm going to call South Carolina for Obama, which I hope is the case because these two can keep proving themselves rather than resorting to desperate measures merely to win. If Hillary wins though, this gets even nastier, the attacks on Bill Clinton will start to become even more frantic, and the nomination gets essentially sewn up. Just too soon maybe to have a just winner.

Friday, January 25, 2008

BA038 Reveals More Secrets

You remember that British Airways flight which crashed at Heathrow the other day? Well after the initial rumours about all power having cut off at 600 feet, and an initial report that the autothrottle had failed, we now know a bit more.

Terribly sorry but if there's a fundamental problem in the 777's fuel supply system, I'm not going to be flying on one any time soon. I'm also not going anywhere near BA. They've shown too many times in the past that they're willing to keep their aircraft in the air at all costs. No thanks, this was already too lucky to be true.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


SpaceShipTwo comes one step further to a reality, with its final design released to the public today. Is anyone else as excited at the prospect of normalised space travel as I am?

What is a relief is that Branson understands technology and the way in which it and society shape one another, in contrast with the former PM who who seemed convinced merely of the 'inevitability' of it. This is the way to change military technology into normalised, civilian technology. Despite all the risk involved, if I had the chance to go into space, I'd take it. I do hope it'll happen during my lifetime.

Monday, January 21, 2008

An Incredible Hulk Spoiler

If you're like me and looking forward to most Marvel movies on the way (Iron Man most of all of course), then take a look at this spoiler about the upcoming Incredible Hulk reboot...

If it works, I'll be very pleased...

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Maya Angelou for Hillary

State Package for Hillary Clinton

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may tread me in the very dirt

But still, like dust, I'll rise.

This is not the first time you have seen Hillary Clinton seemingly at her wits' end, but she has always risen, always risen, don't forget she has always risen, much to the dismay of her adversaries and the delight of her friends.

Hillary Clinton will not give up on you and all she asks of you is that you do not give up on her.

There is a world of difference between being a woman and being an old female. If you're born a girl, grow up, and live long enough, you can become an old female. But to become a woman is a serious matter. A woman takes responsibility for the time she takes up and the space she occupies. Hillary Clinton is a woman. She has been there and done that and has still risen. She is in this race for the long haul. She intends to make a difference in our country. Hillary Clinton intends to help our country to be what it can become.

She declares she wants to see more smiles in the family, more courtesies between men and women, more honesty in the marketplace. She is the prayer of every woman and man who longs for fair play, healthy families, good schools, and a balanced economy.

She means to rise.

Don't give up on Hillary. In fact, if you help her to rise, you will rise with her and help her make this country the wonderful, wonderful place where every man and every woman can live freely without sanctimonious piety and without crippling fear.

Rise, Hillary.


- Maya Angelou, as found in the Guardian.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Nevada and South Carolina

Difficult call this one. Evidence is leading all over the place in both nasty little contests. Hillary's ahead of Obama in the Nevada opinion polls, but New Hampshire proved poll leads meaningless, and the endorsements Obama's picked up (and the lawsuit he won) could (in this contest for sure) easily negate her advantage. In South Carolina will McCain revenge himself on what was done to him in 2000? Will Romney retain a 'bounce'? Will Huckabee have a constituency?

My call is Clinton/McCain again. If it happens, then I do expect the tone to collapse further than it already has in the last week.

X-Files 2 Nears...

And it's about bloody time too.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Keep On: Will Young

One of my particular favourites of Will's TV performances. Enjoy.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Tears of Hillary

It remains an interesting question: did Hillary's emotional moment swing everything her way in New Hampshire? Germaine Greer thinks that even if it did, that's not a good thing.

I'm not sure. It sure got John Edwards all fired up and sexist, which itself has been revealing in a contest which is refreshingly opening up all sorts of deep rooted questions about race and gender in the US. Thatcher became Prime Minister nigh effortlessly nearly three decades ago, yet Hillary still gets heckled by people demanding she iron their shirts? As Bill Clinton said - give me a break! Does that mean though that she used a soft option to get what she wanted, or was it a rare demonstration of humanity in someone often accused of having none, who's trying to supplant a president who couldn't even spell the word? There don't seem to be any definitive answers to any of these questions in this contest, which itself I find interesting.

A lecturer of mine once described us as being in a post-modern age of claim and counter claim - there were no more unifying truths. I would be inclined to agree. That can yet come back to bite her or Obama on the ass.

Dreamkatchers Featuring Will Young

I'm no fan of rap - never have been, never will be. But for Will's 2008 return to be trailed with this song - in particular having got it onto the Dreamkatchers' Myspace page before it's being 'mysteriously' removed is seriously impressive. Where Switch It On was a great song, his desire to do something different made an otherwise excellent album seem inconsistent. In contrast not only does Teardrops generate buzz, but he can make the compromise which didn't quite work last time.

Fingers crossed we have a good album ahead...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Actors Rebel Against Arts Council England

With the impending possible closures of the Bush Theatre and the Drill Hall in London, it's a relief to see a meeting of Equity actors rebelling against the Arts Council England.

The nonsense going on here is yet another example of NuLabour's climate of marketisation, which permeates through every single public service, and now through to the arts. So qualities such as profitability, ticket sales, bums on seats are now the only qualities which are being taken into account to determine worthiness for arts funding. And that's bananas.

Sam West said, "cut funding to our smaller spaces and you eventually starve our larger ones to death," which I completely agree with. Equity's account of the story is here, and if you think that the decision making here is mad and has to be reevaluated for the benefit of us all then sign the petition. Please. Survival of the fittest must not be how the arts are funded.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

One of Two

Ooh I called New Hampshire right.

And thankfully my last point seems to have gained resonance. If Obama's going to win, it can't be with this ridiculously easy ride he's been given. Hillary's emotional moment proved to her base, maybe for the first time, that she wants it more than anything. May the battle be joined, and finally produce a well tested and just winner, for the first time since, well, Bill left office really (let's ignore his infidelities, petty corruptions and media manipulations for the sake of argument for now, eh?).

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Hillary's Last Stand?

The truth is Hillary could defeat Giuliani at his scare-mongriest, Huckabee at his most religious, could swat Romney like an insect and outsmart McCain.


Are we again to have a Presidential debate where the smartest person in the room loses through lack of experience? Or does Obama really have something new, something special? You see I like the idea of a female Commander-in-Chief, of Bill Clinton back in the thick of it. She could hit the ground running, which hasn't been imperative before. It is now. For all Obama's lefty rhetoric, his threat to bomb Pakistan sounds pretty neo-Conservative to me. She voted for Iraq - they all did. It's time to move on - she and Obama both agree on that.

Neither of them has governed but she has been at the forefront of national politics for a generation & her intellect is second to none. Her judgment's also a quantum improvement on Bill's. So why vote Obama?


I see Taylor's still faar beyond hot. And now Zac's joined him. When'd that happen?!

Monday, January 07, 2008

More Muslim Anti-Artist Barbarity

And we're back at the old, familiar situation of an artist (again in Holland) getting death threats from Muslim extremists. I don't really know what to say - I'm sick of it. I don't care if she's as bigoted as Pim Fortuyn, as aggressive as Theo Van Gogh or set out deliberately to offend. She's an artist - she's allowed! That's how we do things in this part of the world. The secularised West allows everything to be artistically attacked, even religion. Religion is no longer the glue by which society is held together, and it works spectacularly well for us.

It's really time that all elements of popular culture came together - TV, newspapers, internet, magazines and more - to combat this unthinkingly monstrous behaviour, not just in Holland but everywhere. It's happening here too, not on the same scale, and currently mostly by Christians, but it's no less insidious for it. Whilst a society founded on the freedom of speech does require the maturity to use that freedom with wisdom and sensitivity, it's also founded on the responsibility not to take offence on behalf of others, particularly imaginary friends.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

A Cuteness Break

Unpredictable 2008

Ok so my prediction the other day was diametrically opposed to the reality. No Clinton/Romney, but Obama/Huckabee. I was way off - it looks as though the contests are realigning, and that the overall demands of the electorate are realigning. Maybe. So who to win New Hampshire?


Romney won't leave the contest despite having been floored below the waterline, which will be music to Giuliani's ears for the end of the month. McCain though becomes stronger, the more the 'surge' in Iraq is being spun by the media as being remotely a positive thing.

Hillary did very well in the debate last night by many accounts, and may have blunted the edge of the 'agent of change' label which seems now firmly fastened to Obama. Defining 'experience' (which hasn't worked for her so far) as '35 years as a change maker' was a very good move. If it doesn't stick in New Hampshire though, the mountain she'll have to climb will be increasingly tall. I must say her Bush-esque comments about attacking foreign countries who 'harbour' terrorists (I can't imagine any doing so all that willingly anymore) was very appealing, although nor was Obama's repetition of an earlier claim he would attack 'terrorists' in Pakistan without anyone's prior approval. Does that really jibe with him being an 'agent of change'? Sounds pretty neo-Conservative to me.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Spears Loses Kids

Look. Can someone help this woman?

It's one of the most obvious and slowest moving suicides I've seen. Someone intervene to stop it happening please, because at the moment it's looking inevitable. I'm not a fan of hers by any means - that doesn't matter. She does need to be stopped from self destructing fully though.

Thursday, January 03, 2008


My guess? It'll be fun to find out the truth tomorrow, but my prediction for this round at least?

Clinton and Romney to win.

Oh you want me to make an initial guess for November? Clinton v Huckabee.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Journalistic Differences

It was really quite striking coming home both from Paris and from Geneva. Two different countries, granted, but Geneva's just metres from France. Looking at their papers, their magazines, pretty much every news, gossip and popular culture medium, all you could see was Nicolas Sarkozy and Claudia Bruni. Over here - nothing, and more than just nothing - not even a hint of them. Why would that be? I'm not sure I get that. Is it really just a linguistic thing which makes him interesting there and completely irrelevant here? Is it because he really is 'their' Tony Blair - their first political leader given over entirely to the cult of celebrity? It's possibly almost too close an analogy. Maybe it's just that they're not used to this sort of domestic grandstanding and we've thoroughly had our fill...

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year?

Partly to check who's reading this thing, partly because I want to contrast my experience of this New Year's Day with other people, I would like you to tell me what it is about this year that you're looking forward to. I'm curious - is it events like the American Presidential election? The Olympics? Is it somewhere you're planning to travel to? Is it just daily life you're looking forward to, which you're particularly enjoying right now?

You're conversely also welcome to say you're not looking forward to anything, that 2008 has a lot of negatives and potential negatives in store. You may be seeing the economic climate as a case of impending doom, you may not like your lot in life, there may be elements you can foresee about this year which you don't like the look of.

Here's where to share.