A little Russian performance art (reblogging)

29 October 2009

I am reblogging a post from a Twitter friend whom I accomapied to see ‘Made in Russia’ at the Chelsea Theatre on Saturday night:

What happens when you take two Russians, heavily involved in dance, and allow them to collaborate together on a theatre piece that both explores their own identity as performers but also interweaves a narrative of past experiences? Made In Russia is the outcome. A slightly surreal and bizarre post-modern theatre piece created, conceived and performed by Andrei Andrianov and Oled Soulimenko.

It truely was a fascinating piece of theatre, charting (i thought, at least) changing approaches to theatre in the context of perestroika. If you’d rather read a view from someone who has more of an idea of what he’s talking about then click here.


Meat, Fur and Blood

27 October 2009

So restaurant critic AA Gill has admitted he shot a baboon on safari “to get a sense of what it might be like to kill someone”. For fun. He’s apparently been attacked on Twitter and by columnists for the insensitive way he expressed his desire to feel what it’s like to kill a person. The League Against Cruel Sports. “If he wants to know what it like to shoot a human, he should take aim at his own leg”.

A food blogging Twitter friend of mine rightly said that the Twitter mob out to get him was ‘absurd’: “Can’t believe AA is now [a] trending [topic on Twitter]. The twitmob is absurd sometimes. Yes, it was a cruel, stupid thing to do. Get over it”. But he then went on to link to a piece by AA Gill “arguing fur is a good thing”. You know, he may have a point (I admit, I didn’t read the article). But I Tweeted back – “You have no problem with fur?!” I said, “Maybe if you’re in the arctic – but there’s a difference between ‘fashion’ and ‘practicality'”, then got very riled by his response “Fur predates concept of fashion. Arguments against it based on same class hatreds as arguments against fox hunting.”. I replied that “fur is generally unneccessary, unlike leather (where good alternatives are rare and expensive) – i am fine with it’s use when necessary but not as a fashion extra. [The use of fur] predating [fashion] is a ridiculous argument as [there have] been many advances in fabric technology since”. My friend pointed out that he’d bought a rabbit fur hat in Russia (to which I replied “let the russians wear rabbit fur hats. it gets cold there. you don’t need a rabbit fur hat, or fur trim collar, in London”) which he wears for skiing. Now I have no problem with the use of fur where justified but i think that “if there’s a viable, affordable alternative that works well, fur is unnecessary & shouldn’t be used”.

The debate continued, moving into the realm of fox hunting – the argument being that arguments against fur were based on class hatred, just as for fox hunting – dislike of “arrogant horsey people” by “angry poor people”. The argument was put that recreational hunting is “not pretty, but it’s not evil either, and nor should it be banned” and that “The fox isn’t tortured: it’s ripped to pieces in seconds. And the chase is as natural as anything you could think of”. Now I have no problem with nature, animals chase and kill each other all the time. But they do so for a reason (usually food) – not generally for sport, followed by a bunch of men in red coats with horns. Another friend of mine joined in and pointed out that an official inquiry identified that “foxes were often not killed by bites to the neck but further down the abdomen”. Not only that, but the argument that – prior to the (to my mind, traumatic) kill – the fox is chased counts as torture. I argued that “fox hunting is clearly an unnecessary, cruel and barbaric blood sport”.

There was another, far more important story, in the papers today about animals. It’s not about going vegetarian to save the planet, it’s about the need to think about the implications of your diet on the environment. Climate change expert Nicholas Stern has said:

I think that once people understand the great risks that climate change poses, they will naturally want to choose products and services that cause little or no emissions of greenhouse gases, which means ‘low-carbon consumption’. This will apply across the board, including electricity, heating, transport and food. A diet that relies heavily on meat production results in higher emissions than a typical vegetarian diet. Different individuals will make different choices. However, the debate about climate change should not be dumbed down to a single slogan, such as ‘give up meat to save the planet’.

I’ve posted about this before but it’s worth saying again. Food production accounts for 15-20% of the UK’s carbon emissions, much caused by livestock. One study from 2007 suggested that the CO2-equivalent emissions of global warming gases from beef production could be as much as 50 times the weight of the meat itself. Chris Goodall has pointed out that “the reaction to Lord Stern’s statement has been unpleasantly vicious. People have seen his views as another illustration of how “climate change” will be used as an excuse for the elite to limit the choices of ordinary people. We are already being told to drive less, not to fly and to buy dim lightbulbs. Stern’s comments suggest a future campaign to reduce our hamburger consumption”.

But we certainly need to do something. Perhaps a large climate footprint can become as socially unacceptable as drink driving, as Stern has suggested. Do you really need to eat meat as often as you do? Think of the impact you’re having on the planet (let alone the impact on your own health) next time you’re grilling your sausage or buying a chicken sandwich.


If you want to BNP to be ‘shown up’, Question Time isn’t the right format to get the results you want to see

22 October 2009

There’s been a lot of discussion recently about the appearance tonight of the British National Party on BBC Question Time. When it was announced that the BBC intended to invite Nick Griffin, BNP leader and recently elected (by the British public) Member of the European Parliament, on to Question Time there were mixed responses. Some political parties thought it was the wrong thing to do because it would give them legitimacy as a political party. Other parties were refusing to put up pannelists – refused to appear on the same stage – but as some parties agreed to participate so they all did.

Now, Im not going to express a view on the legitimacy or not of the BNP, but I do have a concern about their appearance tonight. And that’s about the format of the programme on which they’re to appear.

Let’s just think about Question Time for a minute. Five pannelists, usually three politicians, one academic or similarly opinionated person, and one more populist person (a columnist perhaps), chaired by David Dimbleby. Members of the audience ask questions and the pannelists opine and respond one by one. Perhaps there’s some more pointed questioning from the chair trying to get a response to the question.

And this is the point i’m making. It’s not the kind of format where a party like the BNP will really get probed on their policies. There’s no Paxman (not that he succeeded in the past) or Frost really making them uncomfortable, getting to the bottom of what they really mean, and what they imply. It’s a question, an answer, some political responses and questioning from other pannelists (they have their own point to make, and Question Time is about the audience questions, not politicians asking each others views), and moving on to the next point.

On Twitter this morning there’s been some debate about the show tonight. I don’t disagree that primetime TV is the place to point out to the UK what the party actually thinks – but I do think that this format is not the best one, particularly not for those people who really think the party will be shown up on tgeir views. I’m also not a person that thinks gagging works. I’m not apathetic to watching or disengaged from democracy, whether I’ve made up my own mind about them or not. Surely it’s better to let people hear what they think – some may argue to give them enough rope to hang themselves with.

Taken an example about road congestion in our cities. The BNP answers – “road congestion in our cities is a terrible problem, something must be done about it”. What do the other party members do? Disagree vocally with the BNP point of view, or sit there and nod along, agreeing with Nick Griffin? What will this type of questioning and response do for those people who are already of a mindset that could be persuaded by the other arguments they make? A similar appearance by France’s far right political party in the 1980s saw their membership soar and could so well do, or already has, for the BNP.

Question Time is a format that is about swift answers, soundbites, not detailed probing and questioning on what the politicans really mean, what the real implications of their policies are. After my recent posts on undercurrents of hate and what these legitimise, is this really the platform people really think it is to try and show the politics of this party in a truer light? I don’t think it is. Now I may be wrong, and I hope that there is real opportunity for their policies and views to be probed in depth, but I’d just like to end with a thought from Ken Livingstone on Nick Griffin: :”He comes on, says his bit, but for the angry racist, it’s the trigger that turns into an attack.”


I have an addiction

22 August 2009

I have an addiction. I’m not ashamed to admit that I have one. I’m addicted to my iPhone.

I’ve had it about a month now and I’m constantly checking my Twitter, emails, facebook (every now and again)… I’m even writing this on my iPhone.

I’m particularly impressed with the fact that the iPhone not only sends data over the mobile network but will hook up to available wifi networks. Right now I’m travelling on a high speed X2000 train from Copenhagen to Stockholm and rather than running up ridiculous roaming charges I’m hooked up to the train’s wifi.

I know that my iPhone addiction takes my eyes off the “real world” (and I have to exercise a degree of self-control to make sure my constant staring at the screen, tapping and sliding doesn’t detract from friendships, relationships etc), but it also creates amazing opportunities. Want to know more about Hässleholm for example (the town we just passed through), I can lol it up. Want to gloat about first class treatment, I can tweet it. Want to arrange meeting my friends in Stockholm, I can facebook them. I can even email my mum.

So is my addiction necesarilly a bad thing?


Tweet Tweet

24 January 2009

I recently discovered that London tweets more than any other city… The ‘micro-blogging’ phenomenon which lets you tell people what you’re doing in 140 characters or less has become well known in media-circles and was utilised by Barack Obama in the run up to the US election, by British stars such as Stephen Fry (whose tweets are particularly amusing) and even by 10 Downing Street, Boris Johnson (from a boat, no less)… and me… (a friend of mine has more twitter background here if you’re interested). It’s a way to tell people what you’re doing, where you are and can be used to post to this blog, if I wanted, or update my Facebook status (for example) by sending a text message/SMS without actually having to be online…

It’s also become – like Facebook – a social networking tool which is used by companies, such as Aleksander Orlov from CompareTheMeerkat.com (are we getting a little too off the wall here? The Meerkat founder of a website allegedly oft-confused with a famous insurance comparison website CompareTheMarket.com sending tweets?). He even sent me a personal message saying “Many thank yous for kind follow.I spend long time finding best meerkat and hope you enjoy website.I look forward to internet speakings!Aleks” (who on earth has the job of doing that?!)…

It’s also a source of news itself – or at least news breaking – sending an SMS/text message update while seeing a plane crashing into a river, or the like, will always announce what happened to the world faster than any news wire could ever be. And when it’s not a source of news it’s providing comments on it, such as the concern over Huw Edwards freezing during the Presidential Inauguration this week.

Long live twitter!


Twits!

15 August 2008

I had no idea Twitter had removed it’s SMS updates – I had noticed things had changed – until I read this. It’s a shame that they cannot manage this service successfully – SMS updating was the real advantage Twitter had over any other social networking facility (together with it’s ability to link in to other services)… I think I’m likely to use it less now – not out of choice, but because it’s usefullness to me is diminished.


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