Archive for the ‘ the news ’ Category

Video: Lady Gaga and the ethos behind the Grammys egg


Lady Gaga appeared last night on Jay Leno’s show. Apart from speaking of her admiration of Madonna (8:26) and thus acknowledging the honking great elephant in the room RE: Express Yourself/Born This Way, Gaga also explained the ideology behind her by now infamous mode of entrance at the Grammys (10:34)

The performance we did last night at the Grammys was… and what we’ve been doing with the egg and the rebirth… It’s meant to signify an artistic statement of birthing a new race and it’s a race with no prejudice. A race within the race of humanity that bears no prejudice against anyone. That’s really the statement in itself.

With specific reference to my last post about diversity and tolerance, I fully appreciate this sentiment (as fantastical as it may seem) and I hope the movement behind Gaga –who has done more for the self-acceptance of the ‘freaks and monsters’ of the world than anyone is recent history– continues to grow and gain strength.

Here’s the full interview:

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We live in interesting times: the world’s first cyber/information war is on


Now this is exciting and different – a war with (as yet) no blood spilt. Everyone should read this article in the Guardian today if they want a clue as to how the world is turning in the twenty-first century. To anyone who was in any doubt that the events depicted in William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash could ever happen, think again. The collaborative online events sparked by the Wikileaks/US cables controversy read like science fiction and as yet the trajectory of these happenings remains unclear and —unfortunately for those who would silence the leaks— uncontrollable.

Unemployed people working to ensure the money keeps coming in? Preposterous!


image courtesy of freefoto.com

An interesting turn up for the books: making the unemployed work. Crazy. Is this Britain? Have I been transported without my knowledge to a country other than my own [wel]fair state? The government next week will be unveiling plans to put the unemployed masses to work for four week ‘full-time’ (30 hours is not full time in my book, but c’est la vie) or lose their dole money for three months.

People who legitimately can’t work for health reasons is one thing, but I’ve lived with, known and am in some cases related to enough people just taking the state for a ride to think this is a good idea for a few reasons:

1 – working ‘full time’ for the dole money amount of ‘£50.95 a week for those under 25 and £64.30 for those over 25’ will probably seem crap to the ‘demonized’ unemployed. After all, they could be doing the same graft for the full wage, no? Maybe they would go out and get jobs and help the tax payers contribute to supporting the people who really need it as opposed to those who just can’t be bothered

2 – as described in the government’s proposal, the ‘habit of worklessness’ can only be broken by working; this will break that habit.

3 – some people on the dole actually do want to work and may actually enjoy it

4 – coercing people to do work they would not ordinarily even consider may even open some eyes to the palatability of certain roles.

There are jobs out there; I’ve never been into the job shop and found their databases blank and devoid of work. People are too fussy with what they want as jobs in a climate where we shouldn’t be fussy at all. Others just can’t be bothered, to quote Craig Spence “To quote problem with people today is they never want to make the effort, they expect everything to be handed to them and seem to think they are too “good” for menial labour, the work is there if your willing to do it. People who look down their nose at fast-food staff and cleaners should just crawl up and die.”

The main reason we have so many unemployed people in this country?  is that we let them sap the state. If this new government plan can curtail that, I’m all for it.

Or to put it another way:

What a surprize: Swine Flu “pandemic” declared by experts on payroll of company that sold vaccine


 

This is neither amazing nor actually surprizing. Disgusting and manipulative, yes, but surprizing? No. This is just a classic example of powerful bodies exaggerating (or creating) a problem to which the populace will demand a solution. The solution, needless to say, has inherent benefits for its providers, in this case, a lot of cash.

British Medical Journal: Swine Flu “pandemic” was declared by WHO experts on payroll of company that sold vaccine – Vegsource.com.

In fact, healt experts have been saying that Tamiflu should not be given to healthy people at all:

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23735457-health-experts-warn-not-to-take-tamiflu-pills.do

Pink ribbons for swords and the Greens’ view for the world


Time for me to take a short break from revision (phew)…

The Guardian today are running an  article (by Aida Edemariam) on Caroline Lucas, the first Green party member to become a member of parliament. The interview reveals some, perhaps not surprising insights into what it’s like for a new MP in British parliament:

“It felt a huge privilege and an honour. It felt like this was what the Green party had been working for for over 30 years, and here I am walking over the threshold. It felt archaic and out of touch with reality, it felt historic. It felt like the beginning of school.”

The new MPs were shown some of the ropes – the coat-hooks, with their pink ribbons on which to hang swords, the chamber, where they were formally inducted, and which was never meant to hold 650 MPs – in fact, it can’t, and one of the many things they were told was how to secure a seat on the green benches for a day: turn up for 8am prayers, receive a prayer card, and mark a seat with it.

She, like many new MPs, has no office as yet, and, as the lone Green, no whips’ office to help her get one. “I mean, tradition is nice, but we’ve got to have a workable parliament for the 21st century.”

Turn up at 8am to get a prayer card and use it to book a seat? Sounds rife with the potential for childish squabbling, but then, having seen parliamentary debates on television, I suppose that’s not surprising. That there are still ribbons for swords to be held on shows a link to heritage, but surely a little modernisation is in order. As Lucas says, it is the 21st century. In contrast to this is the Green’ manifesto, which is not all about recycling and saving the planet as other political parties would have you believe. This is Edemariam’s interpretation of it:

The Green party is a party of social justice as well as of environmental continence, and it argues that one cannot happen without the other: the manifesto articulates a world in which maximum wages in any corporation can be no higher than 10 times the lowest, the railways will be nationalised and the NHS de-privatised; where most people cycle and ride trains, have decent pensions and are paid a living, as opposed to a minimum wage. Reading it is, in fact, like entering an alternate world, in many ways a very attractive world, if somewhat slow (they would impose a maximum 55 mph on motorways), somewhat earnest and obsessed with detail.

I’m not sure whether I think this is a futuristic vision or an historic one, but maybe I’m being swayed by the 55 mph thing. I’m certainly all for earning a living instead of minimum wage and that the highest wages in a corporation can be no larger than ten times the lowest. I’ve no idea whether that would work, but it certainly sounds neat and proper.

It shall be interesting to see how Lucas fairs – will she be a successful trail blazer for other Greens to follow? Or will she become mired in the daily squabble for a seat?

Comment: Liberal-Conservative coalition government deal


Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

…which surely is a contradiction in terms, right? Anyway, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens next. This is both the first time the Liberals have made it to office and the first time the UK has had a coalition government in decades. Not to mention the all-to-late bowing out of Gordon Brown. Change, with any luck, is afoot.

The Guardian yesterday had a run down of the deal the two parties have made, including the concessions each has had to accept.

Deficit reduction

This is the focus of many people’s attention. The coalition has agreed to cut spending rather than increase taxes and those cuts will include, among other things, tax credits for higher earners (why do they need them anyway?).

Spending review for the NHS/schools and a fairer society

Increased funding for the NHS will go down well, but ‘scrutiny’ of the Trident nuclear defence system may prove to be a mere placatory device for the Liberals.

Tax measures

Increase in personal allowance for income tax is a definite plus for those of us who earn low wages, although the Conservative’s proposal to (frankly) positively discriminate against married couples —albeit hetero- or homosexual— has also made it through the negotiations. This recalls the old “married-man’s tax” of bygone years, reaffirming in some minds the true meaning of the name ‘conservatve’.

Banking reform

This seems to boil down to regulatory reform, the introduction of a banking levy and the encouragement of a competitive economy, all of which will hopefully reverse the damage done by Labour. With a one-year reporting period, it’s going to be a long wait before we see any real change.

Immigration

Another key word in this election, the coalition deal merely states this:

We have agreed that there should be an annual limit on the number of non-EU economic migrants admitted into the UK to live and work. We will consider jointly the mechanism for implementing the limit.

We will end the detention of children for immigration purposes.

At last, some sense. I’m not saying it should be a one-in-one-out system, but you’d think that someone would have considered the idea of a cap before.

Political reform

The parties will bring forward a referendum bill on electoral reform, which includes provision for the introduction of the alternative vote in the event of a positive result in the referendum, as well as for the creation of fewer and more equal sized constituencies. Both parties will whip their parliamentary parties in both houses to support a simple majority referendum on the alternative vote, without prejudice to the positions parties will take during such a referendum.

Voting by proportional representation seems the fairer way to do it, if it’s as simple as you vote for the party you want in and who ever gets the most votes wins. If they don’t ‘pass the post’ they would have to form coalitions such as the one we have now, but it would make voting simple enough for the masses to understand. There may even be a ‘point’ to voting for those that would not normally do so, e.g. Liberal supporters.

Pensions and welfare

Retirement age is rising to 66 by 2016 for men and 2020 for women. This seems unfair in many ways and a long way off for me, but no doubt it’ll come [too] soon enough. A later retirement age reflects the nation’s need for more tax to be paid, but also reflects the modern (and increasing) longevity of the human race. The problem with a set retirement age is that, while some people will be financially/physically/mentally ready for retirement (at any set age), others will not and ageism, while frowned upon heavily in terms of employing new staff, it is still rife.

Education

The best bit? Increasing the possibility for social mobility.

Relations with the EU

No further transfer of sovereignty, defence of the national interest,

We agree that we will approach forthcoming legislation in the area of criminal justice on a case-by-case basis, with a view to maximising our country’s security, protecting Britain’s civil liberties and preserving the integrity of our criminal justice system. Britain will not participate in the establishment of any European public prosecutor.

Oh, and we’re not taking the Euro in this parliament :):-

Civil liberties

Scrapping the ID card scheme, next gen biometric passports and the fingerprinting of kids in school (they were doing this?!), restoration of rights to non-violent protest and safeguards against the misuse of anti-terrorism legislation all point to a reduction in the ‘big brother state’ we’ve been sidling into for a while now.

Environment

Lots of goodies here, including mandating a national recharging network for electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles and increasing the target for energy from renewable sources, including marine energy.  The Liberals are permitted to maintain their anti-nuclear power stance without fear of reprieve or triggering another general election.

So…

We live in interesting times, times of change. Hopefully, maybe even possibly, for the better.

Choose life, choose a nap, choose sleeping for eight hours a night


Over the last 3 months, studies have shown what students, children and cats have known all along – napping is good.

Proper, full-blown, all night sleeping, as we all know, is good too. A story in The Guardian today reports on studies from the University of Warwick and the Federico II University medical school in Naples which show that consistently having less than six hours sleep a night significantly increases a person’s chance of premature death (as does having consistently more than nine hours per night). Why both? Because, according to the University of Warwick’s Professor Francesco Cappuccio, while a lack of sleep can lead to ill-health, excessive sleep is often an indicator of existing ill-health. As noted in the study, earlier research has linked health risks such as heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity and diabetes to lack of sleep.

But it’s the naps that are the real inner victory for students, children and cats. Another study, by the University of California Berkeley, reported in February (by The Independent and The Telegraph among others) shows that afternoon naps boost brain power and memory. The reason being that napping after lunch allows the hippocampus to properly file all the information it’s been fed over the day so far. Professor Walker of the University of California Berkeley explains thus:

It’s as though the e-mail inbox in your hippocampus is full and, until you sleep and clear out those fact e-mails, you’re not going to receive any more mail. It’s just going to bounce until you sleep and move it into another folder.

So the point? Sleep well, live well, live long.

Have a nice nap:):-

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