:: Friday, May 28, 2004 ::

He's Not Lovin' It

Still on the topic of childhood obesity. There was a lot of praise for the film Supersize Me at Cannes, so looking forward to that arriving.

It follows the film-maker Morgan Spurlock as he tries to live for a month eating only food from McDonald's.

It all adds up to a fat food bill, harrowing visits to the doctor, and compelling viewing for anyone who's ever wondered if man could live on fast food alone.

The film explores the horror of school lunch programs, declining health and physical education classes, food addictions and the extreme measures people take to lose weight and regain their health.

Morgan has a blog too.

Scotland has an appalling addiction to fatty, unhealthy food. And it's not just McDonald's. Fry ups, bacon rolls, chips, irn bru…they all play their part.

As well as advertising clamp downs and free, healthy school meals I think we need to have a safer, less alienated society. Kids are kept indoors or are scared to go out, they are driven to and from school. So they get no exercise. To achieve this means reducing the gap between rich and poor for a start.

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:: Thursday, May 27, 2004 ::


Tracking Boris Johnson every step of the way: Boriswatch. Yes it's a Boris Johnson blog. Not by him, but devoted to him in a slightly disturbing stalker kind of way. Why am I featuring bizarre tory politicians? Well I heard Boris on the Today programme this morning saying that the problem of childhood obesity is caused by the "politically correct" label of childhood obesity, rather than saying "kids are fat". Norman Tebbit on the other hand thought it was caused by the break down of the family unit and women going out to work. So it is one of those issues which anyone can blame on their own personal bugbear. Me I blame neo-liberal globalisation. And Henrik Larson.

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:: Wednesday, May 26, 2004 ::

The Britch (sorry)

It's the European Elections story of the day. Joan Collins joins Kilroy in UKIP

SHE has never used her vote, declines to discuss politics and lives in the US, but yesterday Joan Collins became a standard bearer for the UK Independence party.

UK? Not for Ms Collins. She is English!

The former Dynasty star said: "I do feel my country – I am English – is losing a lot of what I grew up with. I feel we are eroding ourselves to Brussels.

Can we take it that Ms. Collins stands for the break up of the British state? Excellent!

When asked about the politics of the UKIP, she replied: "I am not a political person."

Ideal then.

Although has Joan considered the potential for a seedy soap opera set in the high drama world of Brussels? I can see it now, "Superstate" - Dynasty without the shoulder pads and with better food and expenses.

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For Furl's Sake

I had high hopes for the Furl technology that is powering the "no time to talk about" menu on the right. But it seems that when their website goes down it causes major problems here as the blog tries to load from a server that isn't working. The jury is out.

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:: Monday, May 24, 2004 ::

Saturday night in the Auld Grey Toon

Dunfermline Athletic Football Club - Saturday night in the Auld Grey Toon: "It was the best day to be a Pars supporter since that famous victory at Tannadice in 1996 won promotion to the Premier League. With the game being analysed and the various talking points discussed in minute detail, one thing was clear - almost to a man, woman and child, Pars fans were incredibly proud of the way their team performed on the day."

1-0 up at half time against Celtic in the Scottish Cup Final. Celebrated by myself in a number of public houses in the Edinburgh area, where the hibees and jambos seemed to be getting behind the pars. Can't fault Henrik's goals though. Still, in Europe next season!

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:: Friday, May 21, 2004 ::

Twilight of the Godforsaken

Scotsman: ROBERT McNEIL'S SKETCH: A load of ballads for Wotan Jack

A few good one liners from the reliable Robert McNeil in his regular Scotsman sketch about the Scottish Parliament, which takes an operatic theme today due to the trials and tribulations of Scottish Opera. It was also the day in which Carolyn Leckie MSP for the SSP became the first parliamentarian to be kicked out the chamber (for daring to demand a debate on the nursery nurses dispute.)

Enter stage left Carolyn Leckie (SSP), the Bolshevik Brünnhilde, banging her breastplate about nursery nurses.

Unfortunately, she was supposed to be in the last act not the first, and George Reid, the presiding orifice, got his horns in a twist and gave it Götterdämmerung.

"Order!" he trilled. "Will you sit, please! Miss Leckie, would you sit, please! Miss Leckie, I am requiring you to sit, please!"

Carolyn stayed on her pins and sang: "Hojotoho!" "You’re now on your final warning!" hollered George. Carolyn sat. "Miss Leckie, will you stand please!" said George. Oy, make your mind up, mate.

And the opera debating continued...

An off-key ukulele introduced the next performer, Rhona Brankin (Lab), the Hammer of the Scots, who made her usual botch of things. Instead of standing up for the operatistas, the former junior arts minister accused the SNP of "playing politics" with the issue. Which is a bit like accusing Partick Thistle of playing football.

But Jack couldn't get away from the nursery nurses, or Carolyn!

Unfortunately, he forgot about the nursery nurses outside. With Brünnhilde standing proudly at their head, they set up a chorus of boos and hounded Jack’s car down the road, as he was driven into the Twilight of the Godforsaken.

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:: Thursday, May 20, 2004 ::

Holy Shit

The Village Voice: Features: The Jesus Landing Pad by Rick Perlstein

It was an e-mail we weren't meant to see. Not for our eyes were the notes that showed White House staffers taking two-hour meetings with Christian fundamentalists, where they passed off bogus social science on gay marriage as if it were holy writ and issued fiery warnings that "the Presidents [sic] Administration and current Government is engaged in cultural, economical, and social struggle on every level"—this to a group whose representative in Israel believed herself to have been attacked by witchcraft unleashed by proximity to a volume of Harry Potter. Most of all, apparently, we're not supposed to know the National Security Council's top Middle East aide consults with apocalyptic Christians eager to ensure American policy on Israel conforms with their sectarian doomsday scenarios.

Surely the serious representatives of capital in the US aren't going along with this? The disaster in Iraq has illustrated the dangers of following the neo-cons and their fundamentalist loon friends, and that is why important sections of the ruling class in the US will back Kerry.

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:: Wednesday, May 19, 2004 ::

Eurovision politics contest

Get the run down on all the European Election action from the BBC here. Including analysis of Respect. The Scottish coverage is here and you can see coverage of the SSP launch via the SSP news website here. A list of all the candidates in Scotland is here.

The Daily Telegraph had a rather well judged article (which I can't find online) on the SSP's election chances focusing on the threat to the SNP as well as Labour, and the key issue of Iraq.

A YOUNG lady of impeccable middle-class demeanour emerged on to the public stage yesterday as the great hope of Scotland's socialist revolutionaries and the possible despair of Jack McConnell and John Swinney.

Felicity Garvie tops the Scottish Socialist Party list for the European election on June 10 and as such hopes to land one of the Scotland's seven seats in the Brussels parliament. There were eight seats last time, Labour winning three and the SNP and Tories two each, with the remaining one going to the Liberal Democrats. However, in last year's Scottish Parliament elections the SSP won six seats — all thanks to proportional representation, a system that could well benefit the Left-wing party again. Last year the Trotskyist-leaning party made inroads into Labour's vote in the latter's traditional heartlands in west/central Scotland, and especially in Glasgow. But, of much more significance, was the dent the SSP made in support for the SNP.

Without so much as a "by your leave", the SSP has effectively replaced the SNP as the official party of opposition to Labour in much of this area, often through the advocacy — albeit it with much more gusto — of policies usually associated with the nationalists. Thus, while Jack McConnell, the First Minister and Labour leader in Scotland, is concerned about the effect the Trots will have on his vote, it is perhaps Mr Swinney who has more to worry about. He has all but staked his leadership on a successful election campaign, aiming to better the SNP's haul of seats but, and as a bare minimum, gaining a bigger share of the popular vote than Labour. With disenchantment within Labour's ranks wide-spread, this may not seem too tall an order but the impact of the SSP on the electorate is a huge imponderable for Mr Swinney. For one thing the SNP leader is compared, usually unfairly but often by members of his own party, with Tommy Sheridan, the charismatic SSP leader. And although Ms Garvie is the main candidate, it is Mr Sheridan who will make the running during the campaign.

Whilst I'm not sure what Fizz will think about being described as a "young lady" (she has teenage sons) the article highlights the excellent chances of the SSP "Because of the PR system to be used in these elections and as a result of the expected poor turnout, the SSP will need probably only about a 10 per cent share of the vote to win a seat. It is a by no means impossible target."

Interestingly there is only one independent, whose website gets a going-over from doctorvee's blog. Also, the Socialist Labour Party is not standing in Scotland. So the SSP will not have the confusion factor caused by the SLP who cost us maybe two additional MSP's last May.

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:: Tuesday, May 18, 2004 ::

Kasa Del Muntanya

The Gràcia area of Barcelona was a bastion of the anarchist FAI/CNT before and during the civil war. It is fitting therefore that it is host to one of the biggest anarchist squats in Barcelona today, the Kasa Del Muntanya.

Kasa Del Muntanya - Barcelona - walls

It is situated in an old barracks, a stone's throw from Gaudi's Park Güell.

Kasa Del Muntanya - Barcelona

As a consequence the neighbourhood is decorated with some excellent graffiti.

Kasa Del Muntanya - Barcelona - cop

Kasa Del Muntanya - Barcelona - Destruye Fascismo!

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:: Monday, May 17, 2004 ::

The road is made by walking

The grave of Antonio Machado, Collioure.

Caminante, son tus huellas
el camino, y nada más;
caminante, no hay camino,
se hace camino al andar.
Al andar se hace camino,
y al volver la vista atrás
se ve la senda que nunca
se ha de volver a pisar.
Caminante, no hay camino,
sino estelas en la mar.

Wanderer, your footsteps are
the road, and nothing more;
wanderer, there is no road,
the road is made by walking.
By walking one makes the road,
and upon glancing behind
one sees the path
that never will be trod again.
Wanderer, there is no road,
Only wakes upon the sea.

Antonio Machado 1875-1939

Antonio Machado is widely viewed as one of the greatest Spanish language poets of the twentieth century, though a lack of decent translations into other languages means he is less well known internationally than he deserves.

Born in Seville he subsequently lived in Madrid and Paris. A supporter of the Spanish Republic he went into exile when Catalonia fell (although he was not a Catalan).

He ended up in the small village of Collioure in French Catalonia, and died there in 1939. I came across his grave there last week, as seen above. Not very well publicised, it is nonetheless a place of pilgrimage. Fresh flowers draped in the colours of the republic decorate the grave.

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Indymedia Scotland

UK Indymedia | Report of Edinburgh May Day march and rally May 1st 2004

Got a note from Indymedia Scotland reminding me of their good work. I'm happy to provide a link to them. The link above is some more pics of the Edinburgh Mayday which can be found on the indymedia Scotland site.

Just got back from a visit to Catalonia, Spanish and French. More on that later.

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:: Thursday, May 06, 2004 ::


perspective will be taking a break for a week or so. See you later.

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listen up

The Suburbs are Killing Us is a music blog I've been visiting a lot recently. Stuff from South Africa, Jamaica and the USA. Worth checking out. Other music news includes forthcoming visits to Edinburgh Usher Hall by Patti Smith and Cesaria Evora.

Belle and Sebastian 3, 6, 9 seconds of light artwork

Also Belle and Sebastian are set for a free gig at Glasgow Botanical Gardens on June 12th. "No tickets, no nothing. Just turn up. There's room for 10,000". It's a European Championships day, but you can't have everything. Hopefully I will be in London for the Pixies gig at Brixton Academy. You can check out mp3's of an earlier date in their tour here.

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:: Wednesday, May 05, 2004 ::

Bus 174

from www.bus174.com

I saw this brilliant Brazilian documentary a couple of days ago. A 21 year old is caught on a bus in Rio as he tries to rob the passengers. He takes the passengers hostage and a siege begins. The horrifying hours that follow are recorded by the media who surround the bus. The incompetent and corrupt cops, the terrified passengers, the increasingly erratic and unpredictable hostage-taker who the police dub 'sergio'.

His name isn't Sergio it's Sandro and the film-makers take us on a horrifying trip through his life of poverty and brutality on the streets of Rio. A street kid since age 5 who saw his mother murdered in front of him. A survivor of an attack on a group of children sleeping rough, an attack which saw 8 of his friends die, gunned down by police. A survivor of Brazil's prison system, where 30 inmates share a cell built for 10 in conditions that can only be described as nightmarish.

The contrast between the beauty of Rio, it's super-rich with their huge houses and beach lifestyle and the appalling reality of the poverty on the streets is a sharp one. A divided society with a powerless and invisible underclass existing in a world of glue, cocaine and violent crime.

The ending couldn't be more shocking - and encapsulates the corruption, brutality and underfunded incompetence of the Brazilian cops.

Bus 174 website

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On the Campaign Trail

On the Campaign Trail with Lindsey German, Respect candidate for London Mayor. A surprisingly chatty and personal style in this blog. Following developments in the US I'm surprised more candidates don't have blogs. It would be nice to see the blog link to some other blogs too. A digital camera is easy to carry about and a few photos would add a bit of colour.

Respect is the coalition headed by George Galloway. The forthcoming issue of Frontline will have a couple of articles on it. Respect have stated they will not be standing in Scotland, but rather recommending a vote for the SSP. At a meeting last night in Glasgow John Rees of Respect and the SWP was asked why Respect had also registered with the electoral commission for Scotland as well as England and Wales. He stated this was to prevent anyone else taking the name, which may well be the case. It could also indicate that George is keeping his options open over contesting the Glasgow Kelvin seat should he fail to win a European seat. Let's hope George wins and the issue does not arise. Respect should be about uniting the left in England (Wales is something of a different question) not dividing the left in Scotland.

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:: Tuesday, May 04, 2004 ::

Mair Mayday

UCATT banner on Edinburgh Mayday 2004 march

The picture above is of the UCATT (construction workers) banner, on the Edinburgh Mayday demonstration on Saturday. It looks to me like it was painted by the famous Scottish artist Ken Currie, who did paint other banners.

Glasgow Communist Party banner painted by Ken Currie

Ken Currie's Glasgow History Mural at the People's Palace, Glasgow.

There are more pictures of our Edinburgh Mayday celebrations here. Pictures of Mayday 2004

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:: Monday, May 03, 2004 ::


A scene from our highly successful Edinburgh Mayday, as Arthur Scargill meets former Leith MP Ron Brown. Ron became a grandad at the weekend. Congratulations to him.

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