Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Late Friday Photography Blog #138

by Sassafras Fri May 7th, 2010 at 11:55:48 AM EST

Welcome to the ET photoblog.  This week's optional theme (interpret it as you will) is "party".  ;)

Photos as usual and "Ask the Experts" below the fold.

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Simon Singh wins UK freedom of speech case

by Sassafras Thu Apr 1st, 2010 at 10:28:19 AM EST

The first nail in the coffin of libel tourism?


The science writer Simon Singh has won his court of appeal battle for the right to rely on the defence of fair comment in a libel action.

Singh was accused of libel by the British Chiropractic Association (BCA) over an opinion piece he wrote in the Guardian in April 2008.

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Quick photoblog: UKIP posters

by Sassafras Thu Apr 1st, 2010 at 09:48:52 AM EST

I live in Peterborough, England, though officially a city, effectively a medium sized provincial town.

An urban centre surrounded by agricultural land, we've seen a sufficiently large influx of immigration from central Europe to have become the national shorthand for the issue.

Inevitably, anti-immigration campaigners are trying to capitalise on this.  But somebody is fighting back.

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Early Friday Photography Blog No 125

by Sassafras Sun Feb 7th, 2010 at 03:46:23 AM EST

Viking Graffiti, Orkney.

Bumped for your Sunday viewing - In Wales

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Art and design

by Sassafras Sun Jun 14th, 2009 at 08:36:09 AM EST

Rdf's recent diaries Who profits from art?, The slow work movement and Adventures with Slow Work set me off on a particular train of thinking.

Rdf suggests, for instance, that an artist of a work that is "unique, such as a painting or sculpture" should receive part of the profits made on resale of their work.  It's an interesting issue that I've no right to hijack, so please discuss that in his diary!  However, thanks to Sven for this link to the obituary of furniture designer Sam Maloof, a maker of unique and beautiful objects:

How justified is the apparent distinction we make between art and design? If a painter or sculptor (or their descendants) deserves an interest in the future value of his/her work, does Sam Maloof? If something is functional, does it cease to be art?

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VLQD: Guardian DataBlog: The world in energy statistics

by Sassafras Wed Jun 10th, 2009 at 05:45:26 PM EST

Guardian datablog is asking for feedback on these figures from the BP Statistical Review of World Energy 2009

The Statistical Review is used extensively by OPEC and others in the industry as a key text. This year's review shows coal consumption continuing to soar, especially in China, a 70% year-on-year increase in solar capacity and contains a host of other energy gems.

We've extracted the best bits for you - including the data below, which includes:

  • Where each country gets its energy from
  • Gas consumption and prices
  • Coal reserves

Let us know what you do with it.

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LQD: World Press Freedom Day 2009: Bloggers in the front line

by Sassafras Sun May 3rd, 2009 at 12:26:34 PM EST

Committee to Protect Journalists: 2008 prison census: Online and in jail

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LQD: the books we hate to love.

by Sassafras Wed Jun 25th, 2008 at 02:43:39 PM EST

A lazy midweek discussion partially inspired by this comment from ThatBritGuy in poemless's diary Sasha Hemon, or, Turning sad European Lemons into delicious American Lemonade!

I've been nursing a parallel theory that we confer official museum-grade status on writers from ethnic groupings we feel guilty about - 'we' meaning the mostly white, mostly middle class, slightly angsty and concerned audience which reads what's usually called 'literature'.

This isn't about talent, or the lack of it. More that there will always be talent which isn't picked up because it doesn't tickle the ethnic 'oh, the horror' guilt buds in the right way. Even when there's plenty of horror and brutality - which seems to be another essential contemporary ingredient.

I don't know what TBG will think of his new bedmate, but Rod Liddle, in a recent Sunday Times article, collected nominations for fiction with an undeserved reputation, and had something similar to say:

Here's a bunch of stuff we were all told we had to read by the political and cultural climate of the day; because it would be good for us and because, way beyond this, it was our responsibility to start patronising writers from minorities because it was only the oppressive white male cultural hegemony that kept them in an ethnic- or gender-defined ghetto.

What draws these nominees together? They perhaps captured a certain spirit of the age in which they were written, replete with its fashionable literary conceits, its political leanings (or lack of them), its mannerisms. And this is what characterises almost all of the books that were nominated. They were not so much deemed to be shocking at the time, or too difficult, or experimental - there is no Henry Miller on the list, or Robbe-Grillet, or Sartre. Instead, they seem to be books that fitted in far too comfortably with the sensibilities of a certain chattering-class elite when they were published.

So, which classic books do you think are overrated?

My nominations-anything by DH Lawrence, most of the counter-culture classics (vaguely interesting as museum pieces only-sorry) and the works of Ian McEwan, who I  suspect would be regarded as a writer of potboilers, were his characters not upper-middle class.

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LQD: Green movement forgets its politics

by Sassafras Fri May 16th, 2008 at 05:22:45 AM EST

Ann Pettifor, writing in The Green Room at the BBC, argues that the green movement needs to take lessons from the civil rights movement.

Paul Hawken, author of Blessed Unrest - How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being, writes that "there are over one - maybe even two - million organisations (worldwide) working toward ecological sustainability and social justice".

And yet... and yet... there is no real climate change movement. There is no organised effort leading society towards a legislative framework that would urgently drive down greenhouse gas emissions across the board, and begin to sequester carbon dioxide.

Not in the UK, or in the US, or internationally. The "movement" that Hawken refers to is, he notes, "atomised" and "largely ignored".

Diary rescue by Migeru

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LQD: Monbiot: Meat a worse crime than biofuels.

by Sassafras Tue Apr 15th, 2008 at 02:16:01 PM EST

George Monbiot in today's Guardian.

At 2.1bn tonnes, the global grain harvest broke all records last year - it beat the previous year's by almost 5%. The [food] crisis, in other words, has begun before world food supplies are hit by climate change. If hunger can strike now, what will happen if harvests decline?

There is plenty of food. It is just not reaching human stomachs. Of the 2.13bn tonnes likely to be consumed this year, only 1.01bn, according to the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organisation, will feed people.

Of course we must demand that our governments scrap the rules that turn grain into [biofuels]. But there is a bigger reason for global hunger, which is attracting less attention only because it has been there for longer. While 100m tonnes of food will be diverted this year to feed cars, 760m tonnes will be snatched from the mouths of humans to feed animals - which could cover the global food deficit 14 times.

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Nowhere blogging

by Sassafras Tue Jan 30th, 2007 at 07:53:20 AM EST

The Place to Be by Anthony Gormley-Peterborough Sculpture Park

Where I live is nowhere very special.  A city only because of its cathedral, it was, in effect, a market town until 1967, when it was given the dubious honour of new town status.  Since then, it has become a byword for provincial soullessness, so deeply unfashionable that, despite being within an hour of London, property prices are amongst the lowest in the country.

The detractors don't have it all wrong.  When I first came here, much of the Tudor centre had already been ripped out and replaced with a monolithic shopping centre, but the candied smell of the sugar refinery still announced the beginning of Autumn.  Now most of the manufacturing has gone, and the economy is based on corporate headquarters and the London commute.

And yet, like every inch of this small island, it is flooded with echoes of the past.  It has seen bloodshed, war, taken part in events that changed the face of Britain, contains some of the most important historical sites in Europe- and some tiny, local fragments all its own.

More ET Photo-journalism from the diaries -- whataboutbob

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by Sassafras Sun Jan 28th, 2007 at 10:17:07 AM EST

Don't know if this would help anyone...

Easyjet is having a 'sale', including the Easter period.  I just checked the price for a return flight from Luton to BCN Good Friday morning-Monday night and it came out as £108 including taxes, compared to £160 with Ryanair (Stansted-Girona) last week.  

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A bit wary about getting into cars: protecting prostitutes in Europe.

by Sassafras Fri Dec 15th, 2006 at 03:18:44 AM EST

The most disturbing thing about Ipswich is its ordinariness.  A middle sized county town, much of the English population lives in or around somewhere similar.  But a serial killer is on the loose;
the bodies of five women, (three identified as Gemma Adams, Tania Nicol and Anneli Alderton, and two believed to be Paula Clennell and Annette Nicholls) have been found in the last two weeks. All were involved in the sex trade.

The latest woman to disappear-Paula Clennell-continued to work despite the dangers. She told an ITN news crew that she needed the money.  But it had made her
'a bit wary about getting into cars'.

Brought across from the diaries - afew

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Completely frivolous Marmite poll

by Sassafras Wed Nov 15th, 2006 at 03:33:18 PM EST

Good taste or not?

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fOtofair 2006 Sassafras

by Sassafras Sun Oct 29th, 2006 at 03:50:01 PM EST

 fOtofair 2006 Sassafras

My collection of...what appears to be rather a lot of shiny stuff.

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The British Disease: the cultural context of alcohol

by Sassafras Sat Oct 28th, 2006 at 01:55:22 PM EST

It has become a commonplace that the British are the worst binge drinkers in Europe, but even four hundred years ago, the drinking habits of the British were cause for comment and concern.  The Elizabethan writer Thomas Nashe classified drunken behaviour according to eight animal species:

Ape drunk: sociable and  happy.

Lion drunk:  aggressive, quarrelsome.

Pig drunk:  Sleepy and lazy.  This is the person still on your sofa after everyone else has gone, moaning for another drink or to be covered with a blanket.

Sheep drunk:  able to solve the problems of the world, but mysteriously unable to communicate his vision.

Maudlin drunk: or,  "You're my best friend, you are."

Martin drunk: one who has drunk himself sober

Goat drunk: "he hath no mind but on lechery"

Fox drunk:  the crafty drunk.

(Anyone who wants to read the original and more elegant Elizabethan English version of Nashe's menagerie click here. I apologise in advance to sober Dutch negotiators).  

But what is the link between alcohol and behaviour?  And why does drinking in the UK seem to be associated with excess and violence in a way not necessarily experienced elsewhere?

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A brief reminder about shoeboxes...

by Sassafras Mon Oct 16th, 2006 at 04:18:48 PM EST

I hate to be among the first to use the 'C' word, but many of you (particularly those of you with school age children) may shortly be receiving requests to fill shoeboxes with Christmas gifts for needy children worldwide.

A reminder that the organisation Operation Christmas Child is a division of the evangelical organisation
Samaritan's Purse.  According to their website, Samaritan's purse:

provides an opportunity for people of all ages to be involved in a simple, hands-on missions outreach while focussing on the true meaning of Christmas-Jesus Christ, God's greatest gift. Along with shoebox gifts, millions of children are given Gospel booklets in their own language.
(my italics)

I haven't seen this year's leaflet, but in the past it hasn't always been immediately obvious that this is an evangelical organisation.  My local (and multi-ethnic) primary school was not aware of the evangelical aspect of Operation Christmas Child until I asked questions about its appropriateness. It has now started sending boxes via a secular organisation (see below).

Not wanting to support evangelism doesn't have to mean not giving at all.  The British Humanist Society has a
list of alternative donations including
21st Century Child: the secular shoebox gift scheme now used by the local school.

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