Interesting study of the political stances of various candidates based on which other websites visitors to their sites frequented. Sadly appropriate that Hillary Clinton is considered more conservative than a Republican candidate.
Great news for those of us who frequently cross Endymion Road
The creation of the new ceiling at St. Luke’s, West Holloway
Good stuff from Brian
Monthly Archives: October 2007
9 videos to accompany The Gum Thief. Thanks to the wonderful TubeTV I have them all saved for later viewing.
“It is abhorrent that the rich and the educated are allowed to circulate around the world more or less freely, while the poor are not — causing, in effect, a form of global apartheid.”
It is to be hoped that Tony Blair’s new role as Middle East Envoy will allow him to break away from being an apologist for the neo-conservative hardliners in the Bush administration, but based on a recent speech it seems that is unlikely. The Guardian this morning reported that Blair has said, speaking of “militant Islam” that:
This ideology now has a state, Iran, that is prepared to back and finance terror in the pursuit of destabilising countries whose people wish to live in peace.
That statement shows a continuation of the neo-conservatives’ tendency to radically over-simplify their statements about Iran and militant Islam, to de-emphasise strategic interests, to skip over the Sunni/Shia divide in the Islamic world and to leave out other vital details.
Unlike Britain and the US, Iran is situated in the Middle East and its strategic decisions regarding the area are fraught with complexity arising from the presence of hostile (US) forces on its major borders. If it allies itself with radical groups in order to confront that threat (and very little evidence has been offered for the recent allegations) it is likely that it is doing so on strategic, and not ideological grounds.
It is highly likely that any new alliances Iran is making are significantly less ideological than those which led the US to support the Taliban and Osama Bin Laden a few decades back. Reductionist statements like Blair’s may help underline the rhythm of the drums of war, but they are dangerously shallow and pose no less of a threat to global stability than those of the Iranian leadership.
It has long frustrated me that so many of the thinkers and movements I admire seem determined to denigrate the urban in favour of an idyllic picture of rural or small town living. Partly that’s because my psychology doesn’t deal well with spending too long outside of a large city, but it’s also because whether we like it or not it’s pretty clear that the future of the human race is going to be in cities. Effort that could be spent working out what was good about our rural past and can be translated into our urban future is often spent merely eulogising it.
So comments like this one on Andrew Blum’s blog were music to my ears:
There is a practical need for this double sense of “preservation”: The efficiency of cities is a crucial antidote to global warming and resource management. Yet despite the enormity of these stakes, both social and environmental, traditional environmentalism in America has long resisted an urban identity. Most of the loudest “environmental” voices and most prominent organizations remain focused “out there,” in the countryside and the wilderness—or in their more easily habitable stand-ins, the suburbs and exurbs. But as the historian William Cronon points out, “idealizing a distant wilderness, too often means not idealizing the environment in which we actually live.”
Other parts of the piece are more challenging as Blum challenges a few of the Jane Jacobs derived attitudes which have influenced so many of us who love our urban neighbourhoods, as we adjust to the need for more density and the increasingly tangled and globalised web of interactions we’re all part of. The piece doesn’t answer many of its questions, but that’ll take time. It’s well worth a few minutes of your time.
This piece contains spoilers about seasons 1-4 of The Wire. Which, in case I’ve not raved about it enough already, is probably my favourite television show.
It took quite a while but a couple of weeks I finally finished uploading all the photos from our big trip this summer. They’re all on flickr, organised into five ‘collections’. You can find them at:
- Leaving Grand Rapids, Chicago and the Bay Area
- New Zealand
- South-East Asia
- China and Mongolia
The South-East Asia collection in particular is very large as it takes in the wonders of Angkor.
For those not familiar with Angkor, it’s well worth following the link above. The area commonly known as Angkor was the seat of the Khmer empire from the 9th to 15th centuries and contains a couple of dozen incredible temples and palaces built by the monarchs and dignitaries, each attempting to out do their predecessor. Most magnificent of them is Angkor Wat (my photos) and it really is a sight to behold, but they’re all beautiful and fascinating in their own ways.
What really struck me when reading about the temples was that many of them were the heart of huge cities. While London was home to 50,000 people, Angkor Thom (my photos) supported a city of 1 million people. There’s little evidence left of that, with only the religious and royal buildings remaining, but it’s a good reminder that our western awareness of the world’s history is often all too limited, and that many civilisations before us have risen and fallen.