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Archive for the ‘Guardian Weekly’ Category

Werewolves of London

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 16, 2007

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Sometimes, I don’t find much of interest in the Guardian Weekly.

This issue (June 15-21 2007, Vol 176 No 26) was too preoccupied with the latest British scandal — government involvement in paying a 1 billion pound bribe to a Saudi prince to secure an arms deal for BAE Systems — not to mention the government’s attempts to suppress any reporting or investigation of the matter. It’s front page news, a two-page spread on BAE, and a good percentage of the Comment & Debate section.

I found a pair of articles — Angelique Chrisafis’s “French right poised for parliamentary victory,” and “Sarkozy looks to Mediterranean” by Reverchon and Tuquoi in Le Monde — to have interesting implications. Sarkozy’s UMP party is predicted to sweep elections for the National Assembly, getting up to 500 seats out of 577, ushering in a conservative “blue tide” of “slashing taxes, loosening the 35-hour week, limiting strike powers and cutting the numbers of public sector workers.” Buoyed by victory upon victory, Sarkozy is turning his attention to creating an economic union between Europe and North Africa, on the logic that France and other European countries can discourage immigration from North African countries by encouraging rapid economic development in the Maghreb. That’s, of course, the same logic of NAFTA, supporters of which claimed would help Mexico develop economically, thus cutting down on the flow of illegal immigrants from Mexico to the US. We all know how well that worked out. Sarkozy’s victory, and the victory of the UMP, will no doubt heighten class struggle in France. Sarkozy will face a combative working class, rebellious students, and riotous banlieue that should make Margaret Thatcher’s confrontations over striking miners and the poll tax look like a pink tea.

Finally, there’s an item in Derek Brown’s “Week in Britain” about East Sussex police putting more officers on duty during full moons to “combat nocturnal violence and rowdiness.” He mentions Michael Zimecki, of the Polish Academy of Sciences, who wrote a paper linking lunar cycles and criminality. “There is no evidence, as yet, of werewolf activity in either Poland or Sussex.”

Posted in BAE Systems, bribery, Britain, East Sussex, France, Guardian Weekly, Margaret Thatcher, Ministry of Defense, NAFTA, news, North Africa, Sarkozy, Saudi Arabia, UMP, werewolf, werewolves, werewolves of London | Leave a Comment »

All the news that fits

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 12, 2007

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What? No front page story on Paris Hilton’s latest travail?

Well, it is the Guardian Weekly after all. I just wanted to highlight a few items in this week’s edition (June 8-14 2007, Vol. 176 No 25).

— Jean-Jacques Bozonnet has a fascinating story on the Italian state. (“Torrent of criticism has Italian politicians fearing implosion”) Apparently, the Italian political apparatus is ten times the size of its neighboring European countries. A local business leader is quoted as saying: “The cost of political representation is equal to that of France, Germany, the UK and Spain together. The party system alone costs taxpayers 200m euro a year, compared with 73m euro in France.”

— A day in the life of an anonymous private security contractor in Iraq entitled “It’s the wild west: we’re a taxi service with guns.”

— A reprint from the Washington Post by Steven Pearlstein entitled “US middle class doing just fine.” I think I’ll run down a copy of the study in question as it flies in the face of most things I’ve experienced about the American economy.

— “Danger: upheaval down under,” an opinion piece by Will Hutton of the Observer, details striking parallels between the political climate in Britain, Australia, and New Zealand, with an emphasis on the state of the social-democratic Left. Here’s two salient quotes: “One answer is being provide by a nascent Australian progressive think-tank, Per Capita. The left has to invest in people, design markets so that companies deliver public-interest outcomes, extend the polluter-pays principle to every form of economic activity where private companies do not pay for the damage they generate and start to develop a story about promoting individual wellbeing. It is a fine wish-list, and the ambition can hardly be faulted. The question remains: how?” And there’s Hutton’s concluding paragraph: “It is not that the right has a better or even good answer to the questions of our times. It is that the modern left, unless it is prepared to say something concrete about how it wants the economy to look in the future and takes steps to shape it, has little to say either. And if it’s the incumbent government, the consequences is staring it in the face.”

— A whole secti0n on the “G8 and the world.” It asks the rhetorical question: “Developed nations’ leaders have promised to give poorer states a better deal. Are they delivering?” The answer is, no.

— A cyberpunk flavored story about how RFID tags are being used to help make sense out of the baffling confusion that is Tokyo. (“Tagging Tokyo’s streets” by Michael Fitzpatrick) “The city with no street names.”

— A well-deserved savaging of Don DeLillo’s latest novel which I think applies to most of the man’s pretentious oeuvre. (“An inevitable DeLillo, an unoriginal DeLillo” by Jonathan Yardley of the Washington Post)

It’s still probably on the newsstands, in case you’re interested.

Posted in Australia, Britain, Don DeLillo, G8, Guardian Weekly, Iraq, Italian politics, Italy, life, New Zealand, news, Paris Hilton, private security contractors, RFID, the Left, The Observer, Tokyo, Washington Post | Leave a Comment »

Oh joy!

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 11, 2007

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Both my Guardian Weekly and Monthly arrived on Friday of last week. I’m in heaven. There’s nothing more civilized than spending a leisurely Sunday morning reading newspapers over breakfast.

I’ll get to the Weekly later. The Monthly has two articles of particular interest. In “Slogan’s Run,” Catherine Rapley talks with Ji Lee, a disgruntled New York ad man who does these great detournements of billboard and online advertising with cleverly phrased and placed word bubbles. His stuff can be seen here.

Then there’s Ed Vulliamy’s retrospective on the 1967 Summer of Love (“Peace, Love and Understanding”), done through interviews with survivors like Country Joe, Bob Weir, Paul Kantner, and Barry Melton. Generally a worthwhile piece, although I have a few criticisms.

The writing is done in a staccato style that is a bit jumpy, and makes the interviewees all sound the same. He clearly states that the Summer of Love was seen “to reach what was for some the revolution’s climax, for others its nadir.” Yet no one who soured on the hippie ideal is interviewed. What we are left with is at best a flashback, and at worst nostalgia.

Which brings me to my final criticism. For the most part, I’m positive about the hippie counterculture in particular, and about the 1960s in general. However, I just don’t buy the cliched reasons for the collapse of San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury that started even before 1967, which Vulliamy repeats ad nauseam. It was the hordes of young people that flooded the Haight which the community wasn’t prepared to handle; it was hard drugs like speed and heroin that started to replace soft drugs like marijuana and LSD; it was the commercialization and exploitation of the hippie experience. To my mind, even all three of these reasons combined don’t entirely explain why the hippie counterculture went bad. Perhaps having a few disgruntled and dissenting voices could have helped shed new light on the subject.

The then-and-now photos of some of those interviewed are fun.

There’s also a horrific article about a ruthless Nigerian militia, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, and a nicely eclectic music section, among many other interesting features. I’m glad I subscribed.

Posted in 1967, Bubble Project, counterculture, Guardian Monthly, Guardian Weekly, Haight-Ashbury, hippie, hippies, Ji Lee, life, LSD, marijuana, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, Nigeria, Peace Love and Understanding, Summer of Love | 1 Comment »

Hippie to yuppie

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on May 30, 2007

I subscribe to the Guardian Weekly. Occasionally, I get the latest issue on Friday, but more often it arrives on Saturday. That’s “on time” as far as I’m concerned, and I can still enjoy reading it over the weekend. Once in a while it doesn’t get to me until Monday, which meant Tuesday this week since Monday was Memorial Day.

Ah well.

John Harris quotes British rock writer Charles Shaar Murray in his opinion piece “Tune in, turn on, drop out, cash up” in the 25.05.07 issue. I thought I’d pass it along:

“The line from hippy to yuppie is not nearly as convoluted as some people like to believe,” Murry said. “A lot of old hippy rhetoric could well be co-opted now by the pseudo-libertarian right, which has in fact happened. Get the government off our backs, let individuals do what they want — that translates very smoothly into laissez-faire yuppie-ism, and that’s the legacy of the era.”

Posted in Charles Shaar Murray, culture, Guardian Weekly, hippie, John Harris, life, yuppie | Leave a Comment »