Category: politics

parisIn the wake of the horrific acts of terrorism in Paris, the hierarchy of Bologna University today instructed teachers to devote at least an hour’s time in the classroom to discuss the implications of and possible responses to this violence. The thinking behind this is well-intentioned but the practicalities are more than a little problematic.

Of course, in the long-term, we need to do more than change our profile picture on Facebook and light candles for the victims.

But what exactly are the parameters to such proposed discussions? What should be the responses to hate speak (e.g. All Muslims are scum) or apocalyptic solutions (e.g. Nuke Syria).

Such extreme reactions are understandable but should not be endorsed or legitimized.  The role of informed, calm-headed facilitator in any such debate is therefore crucial, but who moderates the moderators?

Teachers may be trained to impart facts about their specialist subjects but this does not automatically mean they have pearls of wisdom to offer to students on such political hot potatoes.

They may be older but this not necessarily make them wiser.

Talking is better than rushing to revenge but when wounds are still raw initiating an open-ended discussion could open up a can of worms that is hard to seal.

MERCURY REV live at The Bronson Club, Ravenna, Italy 14th November 2015

mercury revWhen the music’s over, life loses meaning.

In the immediate aftermath of the bloodshed in Paris, it was a relief that Mercury Rev decided to go ahead with this show in Ravenna, their only date in Italy.

“The music doesn’t stop. Maybe it’s the only thing we have now” says Jonathan Donahue at the beginning of a luminous concert which briefly makes the horrific events at Le Batacian seem like a fleeting nightmare.

It is a timely reminder that music has the power to excite, inspire and unite. When the news is dominated by death it gives us strength and hope. Continue reading

SUBURRA directed by Stefano Solima (Italy, 2015)

If, this year, you had been inclined to follow the age-old advice to do in Rome as the Romans do you might have attended a Mafia funeral, joined those protesting against travel disruption or become embroiled in one of the numerous corruption scandals.

2015 has been a veritable ‘annus horribilis’ for the Eternal City.

In this context, the movie Suburra looks less like a work of fiction and more like an depressingly realistic depiction of current events.

The title takes us back to ancient times, referring to the notorious red-light district of the city. The 21st century equivalent is an equally squalid world where prostitution, institutionalised crime, violence and general levels debauchery are routine. Continue reading

In this year’s BBC 6 John Peel lecture, Brian Eno’s chosen topic was ‘The Ecology of Culture’, although his fascinating talk could equally have been entitled ‘The Economy of Culture’.

In it he attempted to set himself the task of answering two questions:
1. Is Art a luxury?
2. What are the conditions in which the Arts can flourish? Continue reading

corbynmaniaA friend of mine recently dismissed Jeremy Corbyn as being not just as a man in his 60s but also as a man of the 60s.

The implication being that he speaks for an era that has passed and therefore advocates policies that are out of date.

If this were remotely true, I doubt he would have engaged and inspired so many in his remarkable path towards becoming leader of the Labour Party (From “Jez-he-can” to “Jez-he-did!”).

It is significant that he has been able to win over not only voters of his own generation (he was born in 1949) but has also managed to mobilize otherwise disillusioned youths who have not previously had a Socialist option to vote for (born under Thatcher – raised under Blair). Continue reading


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