Category: News and politics


So here we are again in another recession (or as some describe it, depression) under a government which evaluates everything – from people, to ventures, organisations, projects or works of art – in terms of cost effectiveness and profit.

So the message came across in Maria Miller’s speech given at the British Museum in April, that Arts organizations need to focus more on the economic worth of their projects than on artistic considerations.

Of course, the cost of any undertaking is always a consideration that needs to be borne in mind, but to aim solely for cost effectiveness and profit in the arts is, I think, unhealthy to any civilized and evolving society.

It has been pointed out by Polly Toynbee that our culture is what is left behind when we die – as the British Museum exemplifies.

But I think that another crucial problem with examining the price tag on creative work is the stagnating effect it has on culture. Profit comes from popularity, and so under a purely economic consideration, the very basist of mainstream culture thrives, while the more adventurous stuff is pushed aside. The trouble with that is that the adventurous stuff is the stuff that represents progress in the arts.  Without the impact of say – a Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’ on the world of classical music, we may still be listening to music that is no more demanding of the listener than Mozart’s first compositions. Yet at ‘the rite’s’ first performance, the audience rioted.

Of course, there are so many areas in which the government’s impact on society and on society’s mainstream thinking is problematic (personally, I feel a lot of it is dangerous). But I probably don’t have the bandwidth to cover it. I come from a background of the arts, so it strikes a personal chord for me.

Of course, the death of Bin Laden has dominated the news since the news broke on Monday morning. This story (click the link below) caught my eye in particular. I should say that normally I would use all the old cliché arguments like ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’. I suppose that protocol prevents people from saying it – but were Al-Qaeda at all concerned whether the innocents going about their business in the Twin Towers on 9/11 were unarmed? or the passengers that died in the aircraft? or the Londoners in 7/7? The list goes on and on… I’m sure more acts of terrorism will be carried out in revenge for his death – will they have any qualms about whether those victims are unarmed or not?

People that know me know that I don’t lack compassion, but in this case, bin laden declared war. He entreated many others to die a ‘martyrs’ death. Al-Qaeda should celebrate that he has shared that ‘honour’. His death can never compensate for the loss of loved ones in the atrocities he purpotrated, but then neither could his incarceration. We should not forget the blood of innocent (and unarmed) victims that was on his hands.

Click here to read the article

Anybody that knows a fraction of the butchery Mugabe has sanctioned in Zimbabwe can’t fail to note the hypocrisy of his presence at this ceremony. I didn’t even know that he is a catholic. His confession must be long and arduous!

BBC News – Mugabe in Rome for beatification of Pope John Paul II

I’ve often thought that we Brits are sometimes too ‘polite’ for our own good.

BBC NEWS | World | Americas | ‘Polite’ Britons died on Titanic

 

"…the UK could be ‘sleepwalking into a surveillance society’…"

Since 9/11 and since the July bombings in London here in the UK, it seems the trend is towards more and more surveillance. This is understandable to a certain extent, but I also find it extremely disturbing.

I grew up in a culture where western propaganda despised regimes such as the USSR for their infringement of human rights, personal freedom, freedom of speech etc. Twenty or so years after the collapse of Communism, Britain is now the most ‘spied on’ nation in the Western World – measured by the number of surveillance cameras per capita. The arguments such as ‘if you have nothing to hide, why does it bother you?’ and ‘they are there to help you’ don’t really wash. Surveillance cameras haven’t really reduced the number of muggings for example. They may help corporate society – but not individual victims of crime.

Gradually, the government is pushing the boundaries of what is acceptable further and further. This latest gem makes me glad I’m not a young person any more. When did we start allowing these people to spy on our phone calls, emails, text messages etc?

What is most disturbing to me is the complacent acceptance that the modern public display. How far down the road of infringement do we have to go before we wake up and say ‘No!’?

BBC NEWS | Technology | Criticism for ‘UK database’ plan

Psychics Under Threat

 

Psychics

There may be trouble ahead

"A change in the law could mean mediums, psychics and healers face prosecution if they cannot justify their claims. Spiritualists are delivering a mass petition to Downing Street and complaining that a genuine religion is being discriminated against." (BBC Magazine)

Didn’t they see it coming?