Archive for August, 2010

30 August 2010

Putin, Bush and the photo-op

Things are changing among Euro-American Putin observers. Even the New York Times today compares Putin’s antics in chasing photo-ops as a hard man with Bush’s.

29 August 2010

BBC is all mixed-up

The BBC is inviting contributions for multicultural sitcom scripts. Trying to rid itself of its whiteness, and going one step further in its metaphor for multiculturalism than the one often heard in Germany “between two chairs”, it’s calling the competition “All Mixed-Up” (info available here from 31 August).

The Guardian reckons the title is “only slightly partonising”:

Age: 64
Appearance: Hideously white.
How exactly do you measure the age of a genre? Easy. Just lazily disregard radio as a medium and begin with the first ever television sitcom.
Which was? Pinwright’s Progress, the story of shopkeeper Mr J Pinwright and his useless employees. Broadcast live on the BBC in 1946, it was never recorded and has been lost forever. Since then, British sitcoms have been set in houses, offices, hospitals, prisons, buses and, on occasion, space.
So do we still need them now they’re 64? Of course. We just need them to be a bit less white and middle-class.
Says who? The BBC. It has launched a competition for multicultural sitcom scripts, under the only slightly patronising title All Mixed-Up. The idea is to do away with the perception that the BBC is “a closed door for writers who are not necessarily white middle-class”.
And why would people think that? Perhaps because the only notable British sitcom about a non-white family was The Crouches in 2003, which followed the lives of a black working-class south London family as imagined by a white middle-class Glaswegian screenwriter.

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28 August 2010


Elevate 2010. Festival for contemporary music, arts and political discourse – 21.10. -26.10.2010

Five nights packed with concerts, live acts, and DJs from all over the world. Five days of lectures, discussions, workshops, installations and performances from (independent) organizations, critical thinkers, activists and artists. Most events take place in venues carved inside the historic Schlossberg – the hill in the center of Graz.

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10 August 2010

Dear Google, Don’t be evil have some more news about the power of money to buy attention and shape public knowledge:

Google is about to cut a deal with Verizon that would end the Internet as we know it.

According to a front-page New York Times story, the deal allows “Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content’s creators are willing to pay for the privilege.”

It would create fast Internet lanes for the largest corporations and slow lanes for the rest of us.

That’s why we’re starting a mass protest by Google users to stop these two companies from joining forces to sell out millions of people like us who use the Internet.

If Millions Join Our Call, We Can Stop this Deal: Tell Google, “Don’t Be Evil”

Google’s motto is supposed to be “Don’t Be Evil.” But this deal puts the company in bed with the devil.

From the beginning, the Internet has been a level playing field that allows everyone to connect to one another and the world of content available online — whether it’s ABC News or your cousin’s wedding video. There’s only one Internet, and it shouldn’t matter who your provider is or whether you’re logging on from home or your cell phone.

This deal will change all of that, allowing Google and Verizon to pick what websites you can see over others. The result couldn’t be bleaker for the future of the Internet and for free speech and independent voices online.

Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin created Google to make information freely available to everyone online. But this deal is a complete reversal that abandons their core principles:

Sign this letter and tell Google’s founders:
“Your Verizon deal IS evil, and it must be stopped.”

It’s up to the millions of people who use Google every day to tell the company to do the right thing.

Google must walk away from this bad deal, and make sure Internet users everywhere can enjoy the entire open Internet wherever, whenever and however they want.

Thank you for taking action,

Josh Silver
Free Press

P.S. Google and Verizon don’t make Internet policy. The FCC and Congress do. After you sign the letter, tell our public officials to step in and protect the public interest and not to be bullied by a few large corporations.

5 August 2010


WordPress has a new function: “Report as mature”. Appears just below “Report as spam”.

If you come across a blog which you believe to be primarily adult-related or too mature for a general audience, please let us know…

Nothing at all against the function, but am pondering the label. “Mature” therefore becomes a negative characteristic. Interesting shifting of semantic prosody; wonder if it will spread into wider use.

3 August 2010

Elena Kagan and international law: a European moment

Every now and then, “Europeans” become a united entitiy, marvelling at something in US American politics. This week’s European moment for me concerns the recent confirmation hearings of Elena Kagan, discussed in an editorial in today’s New York Times.

At one point, Senator Charles Grassley, a Republican of Iowa, noted with scorn that Harvard Law School, where Ms. Kagan had been dean, required first-year students to study international law. Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican of Oklahoma, asked why Ms. Kagan thought it was acceptable to use foreign law to interpret the Constitution, which she retorted was almost never the case. Senator Jon Kyl, a Republican of Arizona, summed it up: “I’m troubled by it,” not because foreign law would create a United States precedent, but “because it suggests that you could turn to foreign law to get good ideas.”

Heaven forbid. Looking  a-b-r-o-a-d  for good ideas.

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3 August 2010

Putin responsible for forest fires in Russia

Yes, Putin’s power appears to be growing once again. Tonight’s evening news on ZDF has a piece on the catastrophic fires in Russia that are engulfing the forests and have also destroyed a whole village. In the story, blame is assigned to Putin, to his centralisation of control and the centre’s inability to co-ordinate the fire-fighting.

Medvedev? Apparently not relevant. The fetishisation of Putin continues in 2010.