Wouldn’t life be better if…

16 July 2010

…we thought a little more and drove a little less?

Thanks to The Bear Party who posted this in response to my earlier post.


Drill Baby Drill!

5 June 2010

The Gulf oil spill is a disaster. Environmentally, economically – at least for BP – and socially, for those whose lives are affected. For those of us in the UK who can’t quite comprehend the scale of this disaster this map (from 1st June) is a good comparator (click on image for full size view).

Sarah Palin, Hockey Mum of Alaska, knows exactly where the blame lies. Firstly does she not trust BP, because it’s a foreign company (it’s obviously the fault of those devious Brits!). Now she’s blaming environmentalists. Oh, no, sorry – extreme environmentalists.

Perhaps she hasn’t noticed the non Deepwater disasters in countries that – although some way from the USA – provide 40% of it’s crude oil imports? And she seems to be ignoring the fact that those environmentalists concerned with the environment are not just worried about the land that’s dug up (although sometimes that land is worth worrying about). But will America change it’s oil consumption obsession? Will we, in the UK? The only way to drive this forward is by looking at the issue as a whole – looking at the environmental agenda as a whole – and the impact of, not just spills, accidents, disasters, but oil use on the economy and on society. We fight wars over it. It socially excludes people – not just the cost of petrol to drive to and from work, but the cost implications for food, for example. We need to look at our use of fuel (again, as a whole – the need to travel, local sustainability) not just the source of our fuel (which is essential to look at).


NYC: Red Velvet

25 February 2010

Red Velvet cupcakes ARE New York.

Cup Cakes are ‘en-vogue’ in NYC right now. Stores selling them are everywhere, more varieties than you’d ever imagine existed (except for one store in Williamsburg I visited where a lady was selling just five types. She also had the door locked and had to buzz me in to enter. I never realised cupcakes were so precious). Although of course, like everything in America, they’re certainly bigger than their European cup cake cousins.

Red Velvet, I understand, is a favourite. They’re a cup cake based on the Red Velvet cake that became an NYC legend through the Waldorf-Astoria hotel. How they make the chocolate flavor cupcake red I really don’t want to know – never been a food colouring fan. But it is brilliantly done, smooth, choccy, sweet but not too sweet, with a cream cheese topping. Amazing.

Here’s one I ate earlier:

And here’s a recipe should you wish to make them.


NYC: “Valium is my favorite color”

23 February 2010

Next to Normal on Broadway

Next to Normal, a relatively new and award-winning musical on Broadway, was recommended to me by a number of different people. Being in New York, it was on the list of shows we had in mind to see.

Next to Normal is ‘Rent‘ for the desperate housewives generation. Out goes illegal drugs, squats, AIDS and angst-ridden love affairs, in comes prescription drugs, suburbia, depression and angst-ridden family relationships. It’s been described as not a feel-good show but a feel-everything show. I think I’d agree with that. It’s not an emotional rollercoaster like Rent but an emotion provoking ride nonetheless. Perhaps, I’d say, a little too much in a downward direction. It’s a single story, there’s no inter-twining of different story lines, which meant that subject matters of family relationships, grief and mental illness are dealt with with little humour of escapism (the rock star psychologist isn’t quite Rent’s moo-ing cow-belled Maureen). The story lacks the humour and hopefullness which drove the characters in Rent and in Spring Awakening. There’s no message of hope, nothing that is clearly driving the characters forward through the dispair they’re coping with, or not. And perhaps it was a little too close to the bone for the Broadway theatre crowd. Afterall, while they’re unlikely to be living with a rent boy in Alphabet City chances are they could very well be stranded in Diana’s suburban family-constrained mental distress. The story didn’t inspire me to change my own life, as good theatre often does (although perhaps I’m closer-related to the Rent/Spring Awakening characters than I am to these) nor did it provide the escapism I like to get from musical theatre.

However, it’s highly-praised score was performed brilliantly by a tiny cast – just six actors – cemented with amazing stamina by the lead actress Alice Ripley (who won the ‘Best Lead Actress in a Musical’ Tony award for this role in 2009). Her son in particular, played powerfully by Aaron Tveit complemented her extremely well.

Overall, a musical worth seeing, with brilliant performances.


Vote rigging

2 November 2008

Watching Recount tonight on Channel 4 reminded me of the almost forgotten craziness of the 2000 Presidential election in the US. The to-ing and fro-int and how a handful (hundreds) of votes left the election not just hanging in the balance, but determined by the courts, not the people. Then I re-read a post I’d linked to earlier this week which said electronic voting machines that will be used in the 4 November election are not reliable and accurate – that they are prone to malfunction and may not record the actual vote winner.

Will the chads be hanging once more, or is it potentially even more serious this time?

Most election ballots next week will be tallied or scanned by four private companies… Three of the four companies have close ties to the Republican Party… Is it right and proper for partisan pro-Republican companies to count the votes? It is certainly not objective and impartial.


Powell, Obama, McCain, Bush and Indigestion

19 October 2008

So Colon Powell has backed Barack Obama for US President. He had apparently been disturbed by the negative tone of Mr. McCain’s campaign, which has sought to promote the idea that Barack Obama is “palling around with terrorists,” as Sarah Palin so diplomatically put it (a Socialist palling around with terrorists nonetheless). Of course this is Sarah Palin whose foreign policy experience comprises her proximity to Russia (oh and Canada too) – although she’s never met Russian delegates (maybe she wouldn’t think Obama a socialist if she had?).

Not only that, but Palin has no idea what the Bush Doctrine is. Now then, Powell “once considered as a potential candidate for the White House himself, fell out with President Bush over being forced to make the case for Saddam Hussein having weapons of mass destruction to justify the invasion of Iraq”. This is Bush, the conviction politician, who knew what he wanted and went for it – not because he listened to people, but because he listened to his gut:

Leaders make things happen and they don’t need to ask permission. Isn’t it the job of a good leader to think the big ideas, take the long view, and make his vision a reality? Well, yes, provided said leader has formed his thoughts through rigorous research, consultation with experts, and deep, careful thought. Bush’s method? “I’m not a textbook player,” he says, “I’m a gut player.”

So there we have it. Bush listened to his gut and went to war in Iraq. Great.

So there we go – Barak Obama who offers a “calm, patient, intellectual, steady approach” or McCain supported by pro-Iraq advisers – offering Bush’s gut something to think about. Surely, Dubbya, it couldn’t have just been indigestion when you were listening to your gut could it? I know who I’d be more inclined to believe.

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I think this review means I now have to read Bob Woodward’s “The War Within” – not sure if that’s a daunting or exciting prospect.


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