Monday, March 31, 2008

Spacey Attacks the BBC

In attacking the BBC for its overhype and disproportionate promotion of Andrew Lloyd Webber musicals, Kevin Spacey has hit the nail on its head. It's particularly bad for a public service broadcaster essentially to be promoting only one West End theatre company at the expense of all the others, when its Charter remit would recommend something else entirely. Yet the masses want what the masses want and the private, ratings-chasing mentality is firmly entrenched at Broadcasting House. No doubt there's also a sense that Lloyd Webber reality TV shows like Any Dream Will Do are the BBC's X-Factor, and need to be stuck with at all costs, given the corporation's past failures at music-based reality TV programming.

It's a mentality which is affecting most media these days - Marvel Comics putting superstar creators on poor selling properties like Fantastic Four, generating huge hype for brief periods at the expense of stronger written work on less familiar properties. It gets the attention the publisher needs, but it doesn't lend itself to a strong long-term strategy for them, nor for their publications at both ends of the sales figures. At some point the public will tire of the gimmick, Spacey is quite right in his irritation that far more innovative theatre companies like his will are losing out, with the public being pointed only in one direction on the West End, but with all media horribly fragmented and all audiences' attention spans unprecedentedly short, it's hard to know where the middle ground is. There may not be one.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Clinton and his Record

It's interesting viewing, and shows the similar positions he and Hillary take not just to politics, but to their approach to politics. Clinton defends DOMA as bad but necessary legislation to manage a long game. I wish he didn't make sense but he does, in the same way that Hillary is trying to burst the 'yes we can' Obama bubble. There are realities which lofty rhetoric or noble intentions now cannot tackle or resolve, and there are bad people with large constituencies who will act now if given the ammunition. I don't like DOMA and wish Obama was right in his approach, but Clinton here displays more understanding about the political process than anyone likely to win in November...

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Voting Reform in England?

As the polls get inexorably worse, as people realise that NuLabour is once and for all morally and intellectually bankrupt, finally a decision is made to go for voting reform. Why noone had the backbone to attempt this while Robin Cook was alive is beyond me, but there's no doubt in my mind that Gordon Brown needs this to have any chance at all of winning the next General Election.

I also agree with compulsory voting with one big proviso. There needs to be an alternative on the list of 'none of the above'. If enough of the electorate chooses that option in the constituency then that election would have to be re-run with candidates more acceptable to voters. If they're looking for greater legitimacy that would have to be a core component really.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Are You an Internet Addict?

Dr Jerald Block, author of an editorial for the respected American Journal of Psychiatry, has defined internet addiction as a serious public health issue. It's an interesting question. Is it possible to have too much internet, or is this new medium merely being used in ways which will define us in the future? Overall I think 'excessive' is hard to define, and looking for new and better equipment isn't a disorder at all.

For me this is a cautionary tale, a reminder that as our relationships with machines inexorably increase, there is a risk that our human ones deteriorate in turn, possibly without our realising it. The internet is a medium which is still in its infancy, which as a society we're still not fully adept at using, and one where the rules and conventions regarding what is acceptable and what is not are still in flux. It's not surprising that a communications medium which offers quite literally everything should warp human behaviour in previously unseen or unexpected ways.

  • Do you use it to escape from problems (eg, feelings of helplessness, guilt, anxiety, depression)?

I did, but now I've started practising meditation those days are over. There does need to be greater public discussion about where the internet belongs in life, I agree. I'm currently experimenting with only paring back to only a couple of hours a day, and focusing almost entirely on blogging and photography.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Heather Mills Ha Ha Ha

Don't forget this is the woman whom the judge referred to as having serious problems with reality, with a penchant for pouring water over her enemies' heads. It's almost as if the video proves she's a psycho gold digger.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Galloway Denies Reality

Good old George Galloway. With his track record of lunacy mostly unbroken, clearly he's decided to stay in character. You have to hope he's acting at least, don't you? Since 1979 Iran has butchered over 4000 lesbians and gay men, merely for being gay.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Moko the Dolphin

I'm getting aware that many of my recent posts have been angry or downbeat. So here's a lovely one.

A dolphin in New Zealand actually came to the rescue of two pygmy sperm whales, which repeatedly beached themselves. After they and their human rescuers had given up on getting them successfully past a sandbar, Moko came along, communicated with the distressed whales, who then changed their mood and followed her out to sea.

It doesn't get much nicer than that.

The Kiwis report it here, and if you think this behaviour is unlikely or uncommon, think again.

The Death of Michael Todd

I'm not one to gloat about anyone's death for any reasons - particularly from a suicide. Michael Todd seems to have taken his own life for multiple reasons - public shame, discovery of serial infidelity, risk to his position. People are fallible, they're human - these failings and simple realities are not worth condemning & certainly not worth dying for. This post is to condemn the media over the coverage of his death. Because he was a policeman he was automatically assumed to be worthy of unlimited praise for a flawless character; the reality wasn't even close. There are people out there of much better character than Todd, who also commit suicide, but they don't rate a mention. This was indeed a tragedy, but the assumptions and biases by the media in the aftermath were wrong and make me ashamed.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I Pledge Allegiance to The Queen...

The former Attorney-General Lord Goldsmith has recommended that school children should pledge allegiance to the Queen, as one of many measures to try to re-entrench 'Britishness' into civil life. Silly me, I wasn't aware that it had ever left, there must be a moral panic afoot. Nick Clegg is right in trashing the idea - developing a sense of belonging for young people can only come by allowing them an active role in society. Yet soon they'll require ID cards merely to get student loans...

As much as I love the United States, I have no comprehension why this country is so totally obsessed with becoming the 51st state. Their pledging allegiance to their flag isn't something which can be copied for a whole litany of reasons, nor should it be desirable in this country. The nationalism which that engenders can currently be demonstrated in Iraq. Of course this is merely an attempt to get young, disaffected Muslims 'back on board' with their British identity, but how reciting an oath could reverse a disengagement with society (the reasons for which are well known and often documented) is beyond me. This government is stupid. Rather than empowering young people to form their own identity and determine allegiances which work successfully for them, they might instead be required to pledge their allegiance to nobility?!

Someone point me out the Minister for Children and Young People. No? Acknowledge the findings of the UK Youth Parliament? No? Withdrawing ID cards? No? At least saying 'sorry' for Iraq? No? Genuinely creating more opportunities for ethnic minority young people and educational opportunities for all poorer young people? No. A prescriptive oath of allegiance will fix everything.

Friday, March 07, 2008

New Canadian Age of Consent?

The Conservative Canadian government is preparing to raise its age of consent from 14 to 16. I'm not sure what I think about that. Offhand I would tend to agree that 16 feels more comfortable, although there are plenty of countries which are entirely comfortable with ages of consent of 14 and younger. The Netherlands for example has a universal age of consent of 16, although theirs is conducted with a proviso that sex under 16 is allowed with a close in age exception that reduces the minimum age to 12 if the participants' ages are less than 4 years apart. Such a proviso is actually in place in Canada now and it's not clear whether it would be retained.

Canada's decision does run the risk of disempowering young people, and appears to be a smokescreen for leaving their age of consent for anal sex unchanged at 18. And whilst 16 does instinctively feel more comfortable, the change seems to be driven by Prime Minister Stephen Harper attempting to play to his base, and with no clear arguments yet that the rise to 16 would combat the exploitation of children and young people any better than the current aoc. I guess young people are bearing the brunt for Harper's failure to repeal gay marriage...

Thursday, March 06, 2008

My Best Friend is an Atheist

So Parliament is about to debate repealing blasphemy laws eh? About time too - may the desperate theists trying to get special dispensation anyway be as successful as the latest attempt to prosecute Jerry Springer: The Opera.

Some sense may yet be out there.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

The Portrait of Ultimate Irony

Now I don't know about you, but I think this unphotoshopped image is pretty funny. Iranian President Ahmadinejad and Iraqi President Talabani holding hands, with the former looking pretty supine. It's the gayest thing I've seen in quite a long time, and makes a beautiful mockery of Ahmadinejad's insistence that Iran had no gay population.

Of course if there weren't any gay people in Iran then barbaric executions like this wouldn't happen would they? Looks like the fool has walked into a honey trap in Iraq! Alanis take note - this is ironic!

Huckabee is a Loon

I'm not sure I'd bother writing a post about Mike Huckabee anymore, but for the strong possibility that he might become Vice President in November. With Obama and Clinton still at one another's throats, and the Democratic Party very likely finally to choose Obama on Tuesday, the political narrative is going to start getting hostile very quickly. Hillary's attack on Obama's inexperience will be nothing compared to McCain's and the Republican Party's. The Democratic Party's primary voters are idealists - a trait rarely found in the general electorate. I don't want McCain to win, but it's far from unlikely, and he'll need a VP who can carry the evangelical vote; the evangelicals currently hate him.

So although Huckabee has no chance of winning the Presidential nomination, McCain might well choose him as his running mate. And this is the point that all right minded people need to see this man for who he is. Dan Quayle was a buffoon who clearly wasn't up to the job (rather like the current White House incumbent), Dick Cheney had plenty of experience but it turned out he was a psychopath who has been and remains the power behind the throne. Neither though would have put their hand up to admit disbelieving evolution (how you can disbelieve in a cornerstone of the natural world is beyond me). Neither also believed in inhibiting gay rights or banning abortion. I'll grant you Dick Cheney was a delusionist of the highest order, in expecting American troops to be met with garlands of flowers upon liberating Iraq from Saddam Hussein. But with a gay daughter, he would never have equated homosexuality with bestiality or paedophilia.

Huckabee insists he's not a homophobe, but his loony beliefs and public statements confirm otherwise. Bush may be an outright nut; does America really want another nut just a heartbeat away from the Presidency?

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Hot Harry

I'm not a fan of Harry as a human being. Some of his antics at home in the UK have been downright childish, especially given the life of privilege into which he was born. But in thinking about his recently terminated deployment to Afghanistan, I realised you have to respect what's happened here (no, not what Matt Drudge did). In the two major wars being waged in the region - Iraq and Afghanistan - you'll be hard pressed to find any sons or daughters of an elected official in this country fighting or working. I've never heard of any to be honest, and that's why this is such an important story - Harry is the grandson of the Head of State, the son of the most popular woman in the history of the country and third in line to the throne. That he and his family do not consider him above such duty says more about him and them than most people give them credit for.

I don't envy him the position he's now in, now his tour has been exposed and terminated. But in this at least, there's honour in what he'd been doing. In becoming a much higher profile target for Al Qaeda and friends than he already was, he's shown leadership which belies his years, which I hope he gets the chance to build on.