Saturday 25 February 2006

Gone to Austria

I'm flying to Austria tomorrow morning to go skiing with a couple of buddies in the Zauchensee. It's my first trip to that country and I'm looking forward to seeing a little bit of Salzburg if time permits. Don't think I'll be doing the "Sound of Music" tour.

We got really cheap flights with Ryanair out of Stanstead. Unfortunately the flight is at 6 am so I've got to leave home by 3 am. Ugh. Worse yet, there's been an accident on the M11 so they closed the motorway. It might be a bit of nightmare getting there even at that time.

Monday 20 February 2006

US on Oppressive Regime List

Ethical Consumer magazine is revising how they assess whether a country's regime is oppressive (issue EC98). This is then used to flag corporations that support these regimes so that you can avoid buying from them. The list criteria is still being revised but Sudan, China and Burma are proposed as the most oppressive regimes. Of course it's pretty hard to avoid buying stuff made in China.

Countries are ranked on occurences of 8 criteria. Turns out the the US scored 4 because of prisoners of conscience, torture, disappearances and the death penalty so it now makes it on the oppressive regime list.

Well deserved.

Wednesday 8 February 2006

Prophet Muhammad Cartoons

Well I think it's just amazing watching this global crisis of the Prophet Muhammad cartoons develop - a fascinating clash of values. Personally, I think both sides are basically wrong. I'm all for defending the freedom of the press but that freedom should be used judiciously. Satire has a place in raising awareness but I don't see this particular instance as having any merit.

Meanwhile, the groups of Islam fundamentalists that are over-reacting are clearly out of line in the way they are protesting about these cartoons. They seem to be using this as an excuse to vent a broader range of frustrations with perceptions of Islam.

Daffodils 2006

Nice to see the daffodils coming up in our back garden. I always find February and March a rather depressing time of the year. After Chinese New Year, the next thing to anticipate is Spring and the daffs are the first sign of it.

Got my tax return done and submitted online one hour before the deadline. I hate paperwork. Starting to think about what to do this year as we have no further holidays or events planned after this month.

Thursday 2 February 2006

Horrible Histories Live on Stage

Last Tuesday, I took the kids to see the Terrible Tudors live on stage at the Wycombe Swan. It's a play (more of a panto really) by the prolific Terry Deary who authored the most excellent Horrible History series of books The man should be given a medal for making history so interesting to children.

The stage show was excellent. We all enjoyed it and can now tell you a lot more about the Tudors. R* is studying the Tudors in school so the timing was great. They start with nasty Richard III and cover Henry VII, Henry VIII and his wives and finish with Elizabeth I. There's a good sing-a-long for remembering the fates of Henry VIII's wives (divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived) and a fun analogy of Catholics vs Protestants being like rival footballs teams.

If you have kids and the show comes to a local theatre, I highly recommend you take them. According to Ticketmaster, it's coming to Wimbledon, Birmingham and Edinburgh. We're going back to see the Vile Victorians this Saturday.

Kung Hei Fat Choi

The kids and I celebrated Chinese New Year last weekend by going down to the celebrations at the Victoria & Albert Museum. Unfortunatley, we got there too late to pick up any tickets for the various performances in the lecture theatre. Still, it was something to mark the occasion. Jenny's been away in Malaysia for two weeks and only got back last night.

One thing that struck me at the V&A was how stale and very traditional the displays of Chinese culture were. There must tons of exciting new art going on in China. I would much rather see new trends and displays by artists that are reinterpreting the old traditions.

Anyway, Happy Year of the Dog!