2005-08-30

Stats: Most People Want Affordable, Safe Homes

Almost half of people in Scotland think living in a safe area and being settled in their home is more important than owning their property. According to a poll carried out on behalf of housing charity 'Shelter', only 19 per cent of people said owning their own home was the most important factor. The 'YouGov' survey found that 32 per cent of respondents said the most important aspect to a home was feeling safe. And 15 per cent said having somewhere for the long term was top of their list. For its report 'Home Truths: the Reality Behind our Housing Aspirations', 'Shelter' spoke to people across Britain, particularly those on low incomes, about what they really want in a home. The focus groups found that many people prioritised security, space and affordability above getting on the property ladder for themselves and their children. In Scotland, 12 per cent said that having an affordable home was top of their priorities. When asked what they wanted for their children, feeling safe in their neighbourhood came top of the list for 69 per cent, followed by it being affordable for 64 per cent and ownership for 32 per cent. Ms.Liz. Nicholson, 'Shelter Scotland' director, said:
'Our research found that people's first priority for themselves and their children is not home ownership -- but having a safe, decent home they can afford. 'To meet everyone's housing aspirations, "The Scottish Executive" needs to look beyond current housing policies on home ownership. 'They must remain committed to providing good quality affordable homes for rent, look to keep those we already have and bring them up to a good state of repair. 'They also need to protect tenants in the private rented sector from rogue landlords through the current housing bill. 'Our research shows that housing policy which does not idealise home ownership will benefit everyone -- and go a long way to ensure that everyone in Scotland really can have a home.'
'Extra investment' A Scottish Executive spokesman said ministers would be investing 1_200_million_GBP in affordable housing over the next three years. This was an extra investment of 312_million_GBP over current levels, to tackle the demands for affordable housing in pressured areas and replace and refurbish housing in poor quality neighbourhoods.
'We have increased our three-year target for the supply of affordable homes from 18_000 to 21_500 -- to support economic growth and make sure people have the choices that meet their needs,' he added.
Scottish Socialist Party leader Mr.Colin Fox said:
'Homelessness is at a record level, and even professional workers like firefighters, teachers and nurses are unable to afford a roof over their heads in our major cities. '"New Labour" have perpetuated the myth that home ownership is the only answer. 'Yet this survey shows that despite the propaganda war against social housing, there is still demand for good quality, affordable housing for rent.'
'Owning property 'not important' ', BBC News, 2005-08-29 23:07 UTC

2005-08-28

Brits Learning to Cook Again

'Celebrity chefs' and foreign travel have provoked a kitchen revolution, with Britons now spending more than an hour a day cooking, according to a new study. The trend suggests a cultural swing away from the rapid rise in popularity of 'ready meals' witnessed in the UK during the 1990s. After years of campaigning by 'gourmets' and 'health promoters', it appears the message about the benefits of good home cooking is finally getting through. The report found the healthy Mediterranean diet had become Britons' favourite. Ms.Amanda Johnson, a spokesman for 'The British Dietetic Association', said:
'There's been a huge growth in the number of programmes and information in the media from "celebrity chefs" about cooking. 'In the past, people were worried about cooking and reports suggested many weren't even able to cook a jacket potato or boil an egg, so this is really welcome news that things are beginning to change. 'We would always try to encourage people to do more cooking, even if they use some pre-prepared or convenience ingredients, but add their own vegetables.'
The influence of foreign cuisine on British cooks was highlighted in the report, with Mediterranean dishes now even more popular than traditional British favourites. Nearly three in five of those questioned in the survey for travel firm 'Ocean Village' said they were inspired to cook by the food they tried on holiday, while just 22 per cent said they stuck to preparing only traditional British dishes. One quarter of those surveyed said would go on holiday specifically to learn more about food and cooking. Mr.Nick Nairn, the 'celebrity chef' and cook school owner, agreed that travel had a positive influence on cooking in the UK. He said the easy availability of good-quality products from the Mediterranean such as virgin olive oil and fresh Parmesan cheese encouraged people to experiment.
'There's been something of a food revolution in Scotland in the last 20 years. 'Although I do have a go at supermarkets, they have a pretty comprehensive array of ingredients on offer that weren't even in our culinary vocabulary previously.'
After Mediterranean, the report found British fare in second place as the cook's choice, with Asian food in third. It also revealed people are more willing to experiment, with one in three claiming they are 'adventurous' cooks. The survey of more than 1_000 people found the average time spent cooking a meal is 69 minutes, but when it came to preparing for dinner parties they would spend an average of one hour 47 minutes in the kitchen. Mr.Nairn added:
'This is the first time I've heard of such an encouraging survey and from the point of view of someone who runs a cook school it's fantastic; we put 5_000 people/year through our cook school, so I like to think we would eventually see some sort of impact. 'This is an encouraging sign that things are moving in the right direction. 'One of the things about learning how to cook is that you empower yourself; if you can't cook, your fate is in someone else's hands.'
The survey also found that more men claimed to be adventurous cooks than women. However, recent studies show women are still responsible for most of a household's cooking. A recent survey by the frozen food firm 'Birds Eye' revealed that one in ten men say they never cook at all. 'Cooks up the antipasto as healthy food Med-style comes home', FIONA MACGREGOR, The Scotsman, 2005-08-17 Links: Health Education Board for Scotland Healthy Eating Association for the Study of Obesity International Obesity Task Force National Obesity Forum

2005-08-24

List: FIFA Rankings 2005-08

'Fédération Internationale de Football Association' (FIFA) Rankings of national teams for 2005-08: 001 Brazil 002 Argentina 003 Netherlands 004 Czech Republic 005 Mexico 006 USA 007 England 008 Spain 009 France 010 Portugal 011 Germany 012 Turkey 013 Italy 014 Republic of Ireland 015 Iran 016 Sweden 017 Japan 018 Greece 019 Denmark 020 Croatia 021 Costa Rica 022 Poland 023 Korea Republic 024 Colombia 025 Uruguay 026 Egypt 027 Saudi Arabia 028 Cameroon 029 Russia 030 Nigeria 031 Tunisia 032 Romania 033 Ecuador 034 Morocco 035 Paraguay 036 Norway 037 Ukraine 038 South Africa 039 Honduras 040 Senegal 041 Jamaica 042 Switzerland 043 Finland 044 Côte d'Ivoire 045 Slovakia 046 Bulgaria 047 Israel 048 Slovenia 049 Serbia and Montenegro 050 Bahrain 051 Zimbabwe 052 Belgium 053 Trinidad and Tobago 054 ChinaPR 055 Kuwait 056 Zambia 057 Australia 058 Iraq 059 Guatemala 060 Mali 061 Belarus 062 Uzbekistan 063 Jordan 064 Latvia 065 Hungary 066 Togo 067 Venezuela 068 Oman 069 Qatar 070 Ghana 071 Austria 072 Angola 073 Chile 074 Cuba 075 Libya 076 Peru 077 Panama 078 Bosnia-Herzegovina 079 Congo DR 080 Kenya 081 Algeria 082 Estonia 083 Wales 084 Canada 085 United Arab Emirates 086 Scotland 087 Albania 088 Haiti 089 Korea DPR 090 Guinea 091 Burkina Faso 092 FYR Macedonia 093 Lithuania 094 Iceland 095 Thailand 096 Syria 097 Indonesia 098 Gabon 099 Singapore 100 Bolivia 101 Botswana 102 Sudan 103 Georgia 104 Rwanda 105 Cyprus 106 Vietnam 107 Turkmenistan 108 Malawi 109 NewZealand 110 Uganda 111 Congo 112 Malaysia 113 Lebanon 114 Moldova 115 El Salvador 116 Northern Ireland 117 Azerbaijan 118 St.Lucia 119 Hong Kong 120 Barbados 121 Armenia 122 St.Kitts and Nevis 123 Cape Verde Islands 124 Yemen 125 Benin 126 Faroe Islands 127 Ethiopia 128 St.Vincent and the Grenadines 129 Swaziland 130 Mozambique 131 Liberia 132 India 133 Palestine 134 Andorra 135 Tahiti 136 Solomon Islands 137 Fiji 138 Malta 139 Liechtenstein 140 Sri Lanka 141 Tajikistan 142 Maldives 143 Burundi 144 Mauritius 145 Myanmar 146 Lesotho 147 Vanuatu 148 Kazakhstan 149 Grenada 150 Madagascar 151 Surinam 152 Kyrgyzstan 153 Chinese Taipei 154 Antigua and Barbuda 155 Luxembourg 156 Nicaragua 157 Bermuda 158 Chad 159 Namibia 160 Gambia 161 San Marino 162 Sierra Leone 163 Laos 164 British Virgin Islands 165 PapuaNewGuinea 166 NetherlandsAntilles 167 Dominica 168 Bangladesh 169 Eritrea 170 Pakistan 171 Equatorial Guinea 172 Dominican Republic 173 Tanzania 174 Seychelles 175 Niger 176 Mauritania 177 Cayman Islands 178 Samoa 179 Nepal 180 Belize 181 Mongolia 182 Guyana 183 Central African Republic 184 Tonga 185 New Caledonia 186 Cambodia 187 Philippines 188 Somalia 189 Bhutan 190 Macau 191 Guinea-Bissau 192 Bahamas 193 Cook Islands 194 Puerto Rico 195 São Tomée Príncipe 196 US Virgin Islands 197 Anguilla 198 Brunei Darussalam 199 Aruba 200 Afghanistan 201 Djibouti 202 Montserrat 203 Turks and Caicos Islands 204 Guam 205 American Samoa Fifa.com statistics Aug 2005 Links: Official History of Football Previously on this Blog: List: FIFA Rankings 2004-08

2005-08-21

Intolerance: New BBC Scotland HQ is 'Ugly Disgrace'?

To some, it is a classic example of 'neo-minimalist' architecture at its finest. To others it is a giant, ugly, glass brick plonked next door to some of the finest modern buildings in Scotland. As arguments over the cost and aesthetics of 'The New Scottish Parliament' continue to rage, another costly public building is polarising opinions. The controversy revolves around the 129_million_GBP 'New BBC Scotland HQ' on the banks of the Clyde in Glasgow, which is the latest development in the city's massive river regeneration scheme. The new building will replace the BBC's current home in Glasgow's West End, where staffers at 'The Corporation' have worked since the 1930s.
The Figge Art Museum
Award-winning architects 'David Chipperfield Architects' won the competition to design the building. The firm's previous work includes the acclaimed 'River and Rowing Museum' in Henley-on-Thames and the new 'Figge Art Museum' in Iowa, USA.
Chipperfield design winner Winning Design for BBC Scotland
But to some eyes, the firm's latest efforts in Glasgow have not matched up to expectations. The building is a brutally simple, predominantly grey, rectangular metal and glass box which rises sheer from the banks of the Clyde.
BBC Scotland On The Banks of The River Clyde
It sits in stark contrast to the adventurous -- and widely admired -- designs of the adjacent 'Science Centre' and 'The SECC's' 'Armadillo' across the river.
Armadillo
Architects in Scotland are now lining up to attack the building, describing it as 'ugly', 'ordinary' and 'boring'.
BBC 2Click to enlarge
Mr.Peter Wilson, director of 'The Manifesto Foundation for Architecture' at 'Napier University', said:
'For most people they will just look at it and say: "Why? Why did we end up with this?" 'It is interesting in so far as showing what "Chipperfield" set out to do, which was to create some sense of transparency. But for anyone other than architects it is underwhelming. 'This a classic example of a particular type of architecture that only certain types of architects appreciate.'
Draft Sketch of New BBC
Another architect who asked not to be named added:
'The specialness of the building is on the inside, we are told. 'Lets hope so; basically, it is a square box. 'Most people think it is very boring.'
BBC
Mr.Charlie Sutherland, of Edinburgh-based 'Sutherland and Hussey', said:
'For the headquarters of the BBC, it needs to be something special, not just an ordinary office building. 'I think there is an obligation on a public body to do something special. This has been treated a bit like a private development and that is a bit unfortunate.'
But the architects and the BBC have launched a vigorous defence of their design. The firm said they deliberately chose a 'pragmatic' shape, believing that the dramatic riverside location did not require an extravagant design. They also point out that the simple shape helps to accommodate the warren of recording studios required within the building. Mr.Martin Ebert, the project architect at 'David Chipperfield Architects', said:
'We wanted to make a very simple statement on the river. 'We didn't believe that this location required a very extravagant shape. 'It requires a clear and clean statement that has enough power to sit alongside the other buildings, such as "The Science Centre" and "The Armadillo".' 'Those buildings try to be more expressive with their shape, but we felt that this was not required in this case. 'We believed a big crystalline box was the answer.'
Mr.Ebert said that the firm also envisaged a 'transparent' building which would encourage members of the public to visit it, and added that architects also had the Clyde's shipbuilding past in mind.
'We wanted to make a building that is very simple and pays tribute to the industrial character of the site.'
A spokesman for the BBC said:
'It was about form and function. 'We believe it is a stunning building which will meet the requirements we need as a broadcaster.'
Of the criticism, she added:
'If it is stimulating debate then that is fantastic.'
She also highlighted the internal design of the building which puts the broadcasting studios at its heart -- a factor which has impressed BBC chiefs. Other architects in Scotland also hit back at the criticism, praising the design. Mr.Stuart Macdonald, director of 'The Lighthouse', Scotland's Centre for Architecture, said:
'I think it is a really, really nice building and I think we should have more of them. "David Chipperfield" is one of the best UK architects working currently and I think it is a really elegant and beautifully proportioned building.'
The BBC will not move into the new building until 2007. 'Angry box-watchers attack Auntie's 'eyesore'', Eddie Barnes Political Editor Scotland On Sunday, 2005-08-21
Topping out ceremony at new BBC Scotland Headquarters Landmark building on Glasgow riverfront reaches milestone. The BBC's new Scottish Headquarters has reached a construction milestone, with the completion of the hi-tech building's main structure.
Glorious sunshine and blue skies provided a glittering backdrop for the recent 'topping out' ceremony which was carried out in front of 200 invited guests, and included an enthusiastic speech by BBC Scotland's controller Mr.Ken Macquarrie. The new Headquarters at Pacific Quay is the most significant single project in the history of BBC Scotland.
With the aim of inspiring the public and drawing audiences to its heart, BBC Scotland's architectural brief is to design a dynamic broadcasting HQ fit for the 21st century.
When the 32_500_square metre building is complete and fully occupied in 2007, BBC Scotland aims to have created the benchmark for broadcasters in terms of state of the art technology, production methods, and public access. 'Keppie Design' are employed by 'Bovis Lend Lease' as implementation architects for the delivery of the building, and working in conjunction with the BBC's Executive Architects, David Chipperfield Architects, the design creates a simple open and transparent six storey glass structure.
Internally, a tiered sequence of platforms and terraces created over the central studios appear as a grand staircase within the atrium. Located on the south bank of the River Clyde the new building will provide a focal point for the continued development and regeneration of Glasgow's waterfront area. The masterplan for the whole site provides something unique in the UK –- a specific area of the city where a range of businesses can come together as a vibrant digital media community. -- Keppie Design at The BBC
Links: BBC BBC Scotland New BBC Scotland HQ at Pacific Quay Land Securities Trillium -- Outsourcing by the BBC Balfour Kilpatrick at the BBC Vipond Fire at the BBC Keppie Architects 'SECC' 'SECC Tickets'

Intolerance: Fewer Police on Streets & More Armed Police

7/7 and 21/7 will mean fewer policemen on Scotland's streets because they are needed for counter-terrorist operations, one of Scotland's most senior officers warned yesterday 2005-08-20. Mr.Paddy Tomkins, chief constable of 'Lothian & Borders Police', said the public would have to accept that priorities had changed. He revealed that Scottish specialists in counter-terrorism had already been seconded to London to help 'The Metropolitan Police' investigations into 7/7 and 21/7. Mr.Tomkins also warned that it would be naïve to think that Scotland was immune from terrorist attack. And he said that the 'increased terrorist threat' meant the sight of armed police on Scotland's streets was likely to become more common. While Scotland has been largely unaffected by last month's London bomb attacks, senior police officers believe that it remains a viable terrorist target and a location from which attacks could be launched against other parts of the United Kingdom. Mr.Tomkins said that the terrorist threat affected the whole of the UK.
'We have all got a problem,' he said. 'The global village is a reality. It would be an act of "towering naïvety" to think that Edinburgh or Scotland was immune from being caught up in such events.'
He said while London remained the most obvious target, it was reasonable to think that terrorists looking for a high-profile strike might also consider Scotland's cities.
'London is a very attractive target but then you start looking at other targets which have a major brand and you have to include major cities in Scotland in that,' he said. 'We have no specific evidence, but the possibility can't be discounted and it would be stupid to be complacent.'
The balancing act faced by senior police officers is that while the threat is perceived to have risen, there has been no increase in resources to use in tackling it. Mr.Tomkins said that in an ideal world he would have more officers, more resources and access to more databases to help target terrorist suspects. But the reality was that compromises had to be made and people had to accept that might mean a reduction in the number of officers available for other duties.
'What I want is better understanding from all communities,' he said. 'We are all in this together and we need to explain to the people of Hawick, Dunbar and Livingston that their police are as involved in combating terrorism as those in Edinburgh and London. 'That will inevitably have an effect on local policing, for example, the removal of resources.'
Just as Scottish chief constables were able to call on their English counterparts for assistance during last month's 'G8 summit' at Gleneagles, 'The Metropolitan Police' have sought the help of other forces in investigating the 7/7 and 21/7 attacks.
'While the attacks were taking place in London, it is very much a UK challenge,' said Mr.Tomkins. 'It affected all of us. 'Other forces are supporting "The Met.", including Scottish officers. We have some counter- terrorism specialists in London at the moment.'
Last month's bombings saw a massive increase in the presence of armed officers on the streets of London, and Mr.Tomkins said that the Scottish public should also expect to see an increasingly visible armed presence. Armed officers are regularly deployed at Scottish airports, and after the 7/7 attacks they were also to be seen at train stations in Edinburgh and Glasgow.
'We expect to see more frequent deployment of those officers. People have become used to seeing armed officers at airports and that might extend to other transport and financial hubs,' he said.
Despite the furore surrounding the shooting of the innocent Brazilian electrician Mr.Jean Charles de Menezes, Mr.Tomkins said he did not believe there was any need for a change in the 'shoot-to-kill' guidelines issued to forces across the country, though he sympathised with those having to make difficult decisions.
'The procedures that we train to adopt are quite clear and we'll stick to those,' he said. 'I have great confidence in the training and expertise of the officers, but the sheer responsibility on them and me must weigh heavily on my mind and theirs. 'Having the means to use lethal force is a grave responsibility.'
And he said he remained opposed to the routine arming of police officers, as 'it changes the relationship between the police and the community'. 'The Metropolitan Police' had been warning for some time that an attack on London was inevitable, and 'The Lothian & Borders' chief constable said that had been the only realistic assessment that could be made.
'It [the first attack] was a shock but not a surprise,' he said. 'We have all been saying -- and the level of the security status in the UK was such -- that it wasn't a question of if, but when. 'Knowing the profile of the UK and its desirability as a target, it was inevitable.'
But he cautioned that a determined attacker always had a chance of getting through.
'It is unrealistic, given the complexity of modern society, to expect us to be able to anticipate every action by people who want to mount attacks.'
He said he believed the only real long-term solution was to improve the relationship with the communities from which potential attackers could be drawn. 'Get used to officers with guns, police chief warns Scots', Gethin Chamberlain, The Scotsman, 2005-08-21 Links: Home Office - terrorism MI 5 Liberty Muslim Community of Gloucester (Sajid Badat)

Boy built backyard rollercoaster

A 14-year-old German boy has been ordered to pull down a 390_m long roller coaster which he built in his backyard. The boy, unnamed due to German privacy laws, from Offenburg built the 5_m high wooden construction over the summer holidays. He even designed his own carriage which can reach speeds of up to 30 mph. But local town planning officials say he must pull it down again because he did not ask for planning permission. They say the construction is too large and not built to rollercoaster safety standards. The boy has until mid-September to tear it down if he wants to avoid a fine. 'ABoy built backyard rollercoaster', Ananova, 2005-08-21

Go Commando No More

Army Under Cover British soldiers sweating under the desert sun in Iraq and Aghanistan have a new weapon -- combat underpants. The 'anti-microbial' underpants are designed to prevent uncomfortable chafing, reports 'The Guardian Newspaper'. The pants were designed in Northern Ireland and are manufactured in China.
'The term "go commando" will probably now disappear,' said Colonel Mr.Silas Suchanek, who led the team responsible for procuring the equipment.
It is the first time underpants have been included as part of army rations. The material has tiny particles of silver woven into the fabric to prevent sweating.
'It is made from artificial fibre for comfort. It is coated to prevent bacterial infection,' said Mr.Suchanek. 'We will be looking at the women's issue as well but for the time being they are "unisex".'
The underpants are part of a new desert kit which also includes hydration backpacks, cooler helmets, desert 'waistcoats', sunglasses and Spanish-made desert boots. 'Army shows off its new pants', Ananova, 2005-08-21, Su

2005-08-20

Intolerance: Anti-Waif "Real Women" for Ads

Sportswear company 'Nike's' new promotional campaign aimed at women has joined the vogue for 'real people advertising' by jettisoning whippet-thin models for ladies with more 'lifelike' figures. 'I have thunder thighs,' proclaims one the company's new adverts, which depicts a woman standing in running shorts, displaying muscular, but rather stout, upper legs. The world's largest maker of athletic shoes now apparently wants to celebrate the body types most women have, rather than those to which they aspire. The woman in the 'thunder thighs' advert says her legs may be 'unwelcome in the petite section', but goes on: 'They are cheered on in marathons. Fifty years from now I'll bounce a grandchild on my thunder thighs.' Another of the billboards pictures a well-upholstered bottom in shorts with the full-frontal slogan: 'My butt is big'. The woman in the advert goes on to describe her rear as 'a border collie that herds skinny women away from the best deals at clothing sales'. The 'Nike' adverts are calculated to appeal to women who are not waif-like, but equally are not obese. The wording of the campaign makes clear these women exercise, but realise they are working with the body shape nature has dealt them. The sports company's campaign follows the heavily publicised 'Dove' beauty products 'Real Women' adverts of 2004, which featured six women, none of them professional models, who stripped to their underwear to demonstrate how 'Dove' supposedly worked on 'real curves'. Real Women at Dove Campaign for Real Beauty At the start of this year, 'Dove' employed a new tactic -- but a similar theme -- when it chose a 96-year-old London great-grandmother, Ms.Irene Sinclair, as the unlikely poster girl for its range. A close-up of Ms.Sinclair's lined face appeared over the questions 'wrinkled?' and 'wonderful?'. Other unconventional stars of the campaign included a 45-year old woman with long grey hair whose picture asked 'grey or gorgeous?' and an overweight woman with the inquiry 'fit or fat?'. Appealing to 'ordinary women' brought big results to 'Unilever', owners of 'Dove'. The company said 35 per cent of UK women bought a 'Dove' product in 2004 as sales rocketed. Experts believe the trend for 'real people' advertising will become more pronounced as the baby-boomer generation -- those born from roughly 1946 to 1964 -- hit their later years. The advertising industry knows it cannot sell to this powerful demographic by peddling unrealistic images. A 'Nike' spokesman, Ms.Caren Bell, said the campaign was an attempt to portray 'what is real' as opposed to 'the ideal'.
'When a woman works out, her body develops, becoming more muscular, instead of model-thin. That is a look the ads are trying to celebrate,' she said.
Mr.Gordon Macmillan, editor of the marketing website 'Brand Republic', said:
'We can expect to see more companies going down this road. 'Consumers get annoyed by what they see as the unreal supermodel images in advertising, and they want to see something that talks to them about their lives. 'Something that promotes a positive image of ordinary bodies is talking straight to the consumer.'
There have been examples of earlier advertising backlashes against 'heroin-chic 'and the concave cheeks of supermodels. In the 1990s, the UK-owned 'Body Shop' built a campaign around a voluptuous doll named 'Ruby', which the company called its 'self-esteem mascot'. The slogan beneath her ample figure read:
'There are three billion women who don't look like supermodels and only eight who do.'
'Go figure: Nike gets real in new women's ad campaign', Fergus Sheppard, The Scotsman, 2005-08-20, Sa

2005-08-18

New Tower Block for Glasgow

The tallest structure ever built in Scotland, a 42-storey megalith for the 21st century, is to be centrepiece of a 1_600_million_GBP regeneration of one of Britain's most deprived areas. Described by its designer yesterday as 'an iconic piece of architecture of international stature', the skyscraper -- in Glasgow's East End -- is likely to dominate the city's skyline for years. It will be at least ten stories higher than the existing 'Red Road flats' in Balornock, which until they are demolished soon, remain Europe's highest residential structures. Early plans for the new tower, which were unveiled yesterday, combine leisure and shopping facilities at ground level below a 12-storey hotel and 'lifestyle' housing on other floors. Even while plans are still on the drawing board, major international hotel chains are making inquiries. An international consortium of financiers, as yet to be publicly named, is behind the scheme to build the tower. It is part of the wider regeneration scheme by a public consortium led by 'Glasgow City Council' to transform the area between Parkhead and Cambuslang, including Dalmarnock. It is estimated that 10_000 new homes and 20_000 jobs will be created. The skyscraper is still at the 'conceptual stage', but yesterday after a day of meetings with his clients, engineers and designers, its architect, Mr.Bob Ramage, said a building such as the 48-storey 'One Wall Centre', in Vancouver, was 'an inspiration'. Mr.Ramage, a partner with the Lanarkshire-based 'John Russell Partnership', added:
'It will not look exactly like "One Wall", but when one is involved in a project like this, such structures become an inspiration.'
'The One Wall Centre', a gigantic glass and gold-coloured structure dominates the skyline of the Canadian city and is visible for kilometres. Mr.Ramage added:
'Suffice to say it is not going to be your typical Glasgow "multi". From a professional point of view, it is the opportunity of a lifetime for me. 'Our clients will announce their involvement in the near future, but they are of international repute with worldwide interests and they are going to make this happen.'
Eventually, Mr.Ramage's tower will be three stories higher than the 100_million_GBP, 440ft, 39-storey 'Elphinstone Tower', which is to be built in India St., near the city centre. 'The Elphinstone', a development of luxury flats with its own swimming pool, is scheduled to open in 2007. 'Glasgow City Council' was delighted yesterday by the prospect of yet another iconic structure in the city which practically invented the tower block. The consortium, led by the council, and involving 'Scottish Enterprise', 'South Lanarkshire Council', 'Community Scotland' and 'The Strathclyde Passenger Transport Executive', will oversee the 1_600_million_GBP regeneration scheme. Even though the wider project is still being planned, it is already attracting interest from major construction companies across Europe and North America. It will be co-ordinated by 'The Clyde Gateway project', a council organisation which is chaired by Mr.George Redmond, the councillor for Bridgeton and Dalmarnock. He quipped yesterday:
'[The skyscraper] will be the tallest building in Scotland and you won't need a season ticket to Parkhead [Celtic's ground] to get a perfect view of the games. 'Just look out a window. Even at the planning stages, we are attracting worldwide attention from big companies and hotel chains.' He added: 'It is heartening that the East End, once an industrial hub that has suffered severe social decline to become one of the poorest places in Britain, has such big things to look forward to.'
There is, said Mr.Redmond, a long way to go from the plans to reality, but he sees the new skyscraper as more than a building, but a symbol of the renaissance of the East End.
'Apparently, there are plans to light it at night, so it will be a spectacular sight,' he said.
The council recently spent a six-figure sum on formulating the East-End masterplan and 10_million_GBP to acquire the land to make it a reality. Mr.Redmond, who is also involved in the city's bid to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games, said:
'Dalmarnock (in the East End) is one of two areas being considered for the athletes' village. 'We have given the immediate go-ahead for 500 new homes and we hope to take that to 10_000. The skyscraper will be a legacy of Scotland's biggest renewal development.'
'42-storey skyscraper at centre of landmark £1.6bn regeneration', Jim Mcbeth, The Scotsman, 2005-08-18 Th Links: John Russell Partnership Ltd Wilsons Rd N. Lanarkshire: Newhouse Scotland ML1 5NB Telephone: 0169 887 0668 Previously on this blog: Millions to Come to Glasgow 2005-01

2005-08-17

Intolerance: Modern Manners

Let's be clear about one thing: manners are not about which way to 'pass the port' or where your stepsister should sit at dinner. Those are the rules of etiquette, and far from making anyone feel good, they are largely designed to exclude people and make most of us feel awkward. Rather manners are the principles by which we lubricate social intercourse and they are far more enduring across history, traditions and cultures than any specific rules of etiquette. The simple fact is that "please" and "thank you" cross all bounds of race, culture, gender and class. "Please" is polite however it's expressed and "thank you" is a gift in any language. The fundamentals of manners are universal. Manners, in fact, have become the new rock'n'roll. 'The most complained-about advert on TV ever' wasn't about sex or violence. It was the recent KFC ad featuring women in a call centre talking with their mouths full. And the complainants were not a bunch of old fuddy-duddies moaning on about how everybody used to be much better mannered in the old days; they were young parents saying: "We're trying to teach our children table manners and this doesn't help."
Kentucky Fried Chicken
For a whole variety of reasons we have a very strong taboo about bodily functions. And these parents know that being able to eat without offending others is one of the basics of living at ease with each other. But before anyone accuses me of being all 'Victor Meldrew' about the state of the country's social graces, let me say that manners are not necessarily worse than they were, just different. We have achieved a vast amount of personal freedom since the Second World War, particularly from the restrictions of class and gender. But in the process we have become selfish, more concerned with our own needs than those of others. And too often we have kept quiet about what constitutes good social behaviour, for fear of appearing judgmental. Which of us will challenge the litterbug, the 4x4 driver hogging the road, the commuter screeching into their mobile phone? We may have thrown over the old authorities - the men, the monarchs and the Maker - but it seems we do want a new social authority that allows us to live at ease with one other. Manners provide one way of doing that. They are the discipline of an easy life. So on that basis, 'The Scotsman Newspaper' set me some dilemmas. Here are some translations from the old rude into the new polite.
  1. When is it appropriate to call someone "sir" these days? And should we ask waiters to stop if they do? In Spain and France people call each other "sir" and "madam" all the time. It's routine and has a certain charming formality about it. In Britain, on the other hand, when not being used sarcastically ("I think sir will find..."), the terms have overtones of subservience. At the same time, for waiters and waitresses, they're handy because what would they call you otherwise? Asking them not to use sir or madam can just make them feel awkward for doing so in the first place. The whole point of manners, above everything else, is to set people at their ease. It is infuriating, for instance, when telesales people call you by your first name. Formality makes it far easier to manage the relationship and it doesn't have to be forelock-tugging. The assumption of intimacy is just fake. So call people 'sir' and 'madam' if they will appreciate it. Be quite formal with strangers; it makes life a little easier to deal with. And don't ask people not to call you 'sir' or 'madam' if it will embarrass them.
  2. Is it bad manners to open the bottle of wine that a guest brings on the same evening? An uncle of mine has said that it is, and always keeps them for later. The wine is a present. So accept it gracefully and open it. That way your guest will feel reassured that you appreciate it. Your uncle's so-called rule lacks grace. It looks like either you don't think the bottle your guest had brought is any good, or that it's so good you're keeping it for later. The only possible exception to this is if you are the kind of cook who chooses particular wines to go with the food. So, unless the guests have brought the same, just explain and keep the bottle they brought for another time. A word of caution: never take wine to a dinner party in France. It verges on the insulting because they think they know more about it than you do. Take flowers instead.
  3. I am a woman who frequently attends business lunches. If I arrive first and am seated when my companions turn up, how should I greet them? May I remain seated but extend my hand for shaking, or should I get up? It's not about whether you're a man or a woman. Drag yourself into the new century where equality is the principle. So, boy or girl, stand up when you meet a stranger in that kind of situation. Why? Because that way you're showing just a symbolic hint of interest in the fact that they're there. Acknowledgement between strangers is one of the key principles of manners.
  4. A friend has just had a baby, and I'd like to send my congratulations without intruding on what is obviously a very intimate time for her and her family. We've never sent each other a card in our lives, but sending a text message seems inappropriate. What should I do? The question is, what will she appreciate most? There's no abstract rule that privileges cards over texts. They're just different ways of communicating. She's your friend, so what will give her the most pleasure? I suggest neither a text nor a card, but 1_000 disposable nappies.
  5. A dear friend has offered to put me up when I visit his hometown. I happen to know that he is going through tough times financially and would like to help him out. But if I offer him money for letting me stay, he'll be offended. I will, of course, pitch in with household chores and provide groceries and treats such as flowers, but is there any tactful way to explain that I'd have been paying for a hotel anyway, so he might as well get the cash? Your consideration in thinking about not embarrassing him in any way is halfway up the ladder of good manners in the first place. It would probably mortify him if you offered to pay directly. And anyway what costs when you stay is food and petrol and things like that. So pay for as much as you can. At the core of friendship is a long cycle of reciprocity. These things work out over a lifetime. And it's not about money. If you've got a bit more than him right now, pitch in a bit more.
  6. A friend of mine has gone to a corner of eastern Europe to set up his own property business, and I wish him all the best. But I, among others, receive frequent despatches about his progress, and reams of photographs in which I have no interest. This seems part of a modern-day obsession to e-mail people back home every cough and spit of your latest trip round the world. E-mail is not an alternative to fly-posting. I call it litter-writing. Opening your inbox now is like opening your front door and the dustman emptying your bin into the hall. Copying everybody in on every e-mail is just thoughtless, and if manners are to do with self-consciously thinking about others, then we cannot allow e-mail's electronic ease to become a one-click lack of thoughtfulness. The difficulty is how to tell your friend you don't want spam without upsetting them. It's also far more tricky to do when they've gone round the world to save the Cayapo Indians or find a cure for cancer or something like that. Nonetheless you can, if you feel you know him well enough, write and say you find it very difficult to take in all the information he's been sending and while it's great to hear from him, might it be possible to send you a digest once or twice a year with the really important events? You might add that your e-mail load is very heavy, and you want to pay his news some attention when it arrives, which you honestly can't when it is so frequent. (You can hear me struggling here, but give it a go.) Alternatively, just bin them.
Mr.Simon Fanshawe appears at 'The Edinburgh International Book Festival' on 2005-08-19 (Fr) at 10:30. Telephone (0131) 624 5050. 'The Done Thing: Negotiating The Minefield of Modern Manners' a book by Simon Fanshawe is presently available on-line at Amazon 'Simon says, manners matter', Simon Fanshawe, The Scotsman, 2005-08-17 We

2005-08-16

Intolerance: Google Maps Cock Up

Exclusive city restaurants and Festival venues have been listed as 'brothels' on a leading Internet search engine. The new 'Google Maps' website allows 'surfers' to pinpoint the location of any type of business in the UK using a simple search string. But if someone looking for a house of ill-repute in Edinburgh uses the website, they are told to visit the award-winning 'Witchery by the Castle' restaurant, or exclusive French eaterie 'Maison Bleue'. A further glance down the city's ten 'brothels' includes 'The Edinburgh International Film Festival' headquarters, the home of 'The Edinburgh Fringe' on 'The Royal Mile', and the offices of 'The Banner of Truth Trust' -- a 'Christian' publishing house. The maps have already come 'under fire' in the USA for including real brothels in the list, but it appears the company’s UK counterpart has failed to get their facts right. Mr.John Rawlinson, general manager of Murrayfield-based 'Banner of Truth Trust', said:
'This is bizarre. I can assure you that we are certainly not a brothel.'
Google Search EngineThe Internet website maps.google.co.uk directs internet users to a map of the UK and asks surfers to input a location, business, or direction. Typing the words 'Edinburgh brothels' produces ten results, which are all flagged up on a street map of the Capital. To the right of the screen the businesses are listed by name... but none of the city's 20 sauna and massage outlets is included. Instead, the list is completed by ladies fashion shop 'Underground Nation', South Clerk St's Chinese restaurant 'Dragon Way', popular student pub 'Negociants', the 'Castle Rock Hostel' and record shop 'Underground Solution'. Mr.Gav Sutherland, from the Cockburn St. music emporium, said:
'I am, of course, shocked and outraged to hear this. 'Mind you, there have been rumours that some staff are hiring themselves out.
'This could be a good business opportunity and a sideline in brothels may be something we need to look at.'
Mr.Fraser Mackay, co-director at 'Maison Bleue' on Victoria St., added:
'We are in the business of culinary delights, not those of the flesh.'
Managers at all the other venues on the list today refused to speak to 'The Evening News'. Mr.James Thomson, owner of 'The Witchery' and the city's leading tourism ambassador, was unavailable for comment. 'Google' did not return a call to explain why its maps service lists brothels, or what causes some Edinburgh businesses and organisations to be labelled as cathouses. But the problem is not just confined to the Capital. In Tonbridge, in the south of England, one user decided to search for the brothel nearest his home and was directed to Kent County Police Headquarters. However, Internet users in Liverpool receive a better service from 'Google' -- they are told precisely where to find the city's saunas. Mr.Benjamin Deschenes, owner of Edinburgh Internet cafe 'Bytes and Slices', said the search engine may not be able to find enough real brothels to list, and fills up the page with other 'hits'. This means the key word 'Edinburgh' may be attracting the two festival sites and some of the city's more high-profile venues. The word 'underground' [from 'Underground Solution'] may also be linked to brothels in the 'Google' vocabulary. 'Google tells surfers restaurants are brothels ', Alan Roden, Edinburgh Evening news On-line, 2005-08-16 Links: http://www.forteantimes.com http://www.google.com Urban Legends Reference Pages (Snopes.com) http://www.fark.com

Intolerance: Pay Inequality Pay-Outs From Council Tax

Scotland's 'Local Authorities' are facing a massive bill to settle thousands of equal pay claims from women workers. More than 50_000 female 'Council' employees -- including cleaners, clerical staff, care assistants and catering workers -- will be eligible for payments averaging 15_000_GBP each, legal experts said yesterday. Councils in the north-east of England & Wales have already paid out 75_million_GBP after claims involving 8_000 women workers. In 1999, most councils in that region signed equal pay agreements, but they failed to implement them. The 'Action 4 Equality' campaign, which has also won settlements at employment tribunals, is now heading to Scotland. But last night the leader of Scotland's 32 councils attacked the English legal firm which is pioneering the aggressive new 'no win, no fee' approach to equality cases in Scotland. Mr.Pat Watters, the president of 'The Convention of Scottish Local Authorities' ('COSLA'), said:
'The people who will get rich with this will not be the workers, but the lawyers negotiating the claims.'
But Mr.Mark Irvine, a former chief negotiator for the union 'Unison in Scotland' who has set up 'The Action 4 Equality' campaign to take on the claims, angrily denied Mr.Watters's accusation, attacking the trades unions for failing their members. Mr.Irvine has joined forces with Mr.Stefan Cross, a lawyer from the north-east of England, who discovered that women were classified as being on the same pay scales as men, even though they were not in the same jobs. In one example, cleaners were put on the same pay grades as binmen, but, because of bonus schemes, the refuse workers ended up being paid far more. Mr.Cross persuaded the women workers to take their cases to employment tribunals. As he began to win cases, many councils decided not to defend the cases and made payouts to their women workers, backdated up to six years. Last month, 'Newcastle City Council' came to an agreement with trade unions which will benefit 2_800 workers, including cleaners and care-at-home staff. 'Gateshead', 'Durham City', 'Sunderland', 'South Tyneside' and 'North Tyneside' have also been forced to make multi-million-pound payouts. In Scotland, 'The Statute of Limitations' means that female workers will only be able to back-date claims by five years but Mr.Irvine believes that there are at least 50_000 of them who could make claims. 'Action 4 Equality' will get 10 per cent of the money the workers win -- not the 20 per cent Mr.Watters claimed -- but be paid nothing if it loses.Mr.Watters said:
'Action 4 Equality is a not a charity organisation but is there to make money, 20 per cent will be "creamed off" right away for the lawyers. 'What it is making right now off the backs of workers is millions of pounds.'
But Mr.Irvine hit back, describing Mr.Watters's argument as 'silly'. Mr.Irvine added:
'So far there has not been a single successful claim in Scotland. 'The "lion's share" of the money will go to those who we help make the claims. 'Many of these people are trades union members who have paid, between them, millions of pounds to their unions and have nothing to show for it. 'Trades unions are not a charity either. 'They are supposed to be doing a job for their members. 'After all this time, people deserve more than just "windy rhetoric" and "empty promises". 'The negotiating process is "stuck in the doldrums" and has failed to "close the pay gap" since 1999. 'After all these years, low-paid workers are still waiting for equal pay and the way forward is for them to take "direct action" through the courts.'
He said that the new group would 'give public service workers a real choice -- one that's open to union members and non-members alike'. Mr.Irvine added:
'Low-paid workers have everything to gain and nothing to lose. 'We will provide the legal clout to make sure that public sector employers deliver on equal pay for thousands of part-time and full-time workers across Scotland.'
Mr.Cross added:
'In 1999, councils in Scotland signed a "single status" agreement which was designed to eliminate these pay differences, but six years on no real progress has been made and the employees involved are "kept in the dark" about their employment rights, while effectively being asked to subsidise the pay of their better-paid colleagues.'
Yesterday Mr.Watters was forced to admit that the bill for 'Local Authorities' in relation to the pay claims would reach 500_million_GBP. He added that money to pay the claims would have to come from council-tax payers unless 'The Scottish Executive' could be persuaded to help fill the funding gap. A spokesman for 'COSLA' added that the 'confrontational legal route' may not be the way to solve the disputes as discussions were being focused on 'sensible outcomes which deliver fairness for our workers whilst not jeopardising the delivery of the high-quality services both the local government workforce and employers are so rightly proud of'. She added: 'The experience in England has been that some inequality has been demonstrated and recognised through financial compensation.' 'COSLA', which claims to be under financial pressure from 'The Scottish Executive', fears that these claims could increase the pressure on its budget and is prepared to ask ministers for more money to meet the claims. 'COSLA' was last night stressing that councils support the idea of wage equality. A spokesman for 'The Scottish Executive' said:
'This is a matter which should be settled between the workers and their employers, the councils.'
'Equal pay failing may cost councils £500m', Peter Macmahon, The Scotsman, 2005-08-16

2005-08-14

Reversing Lorry Damages Old Building

A lorry driver has caused thousands of pounds worth of damage to one of Glasgow's most prestigious buildings, 'The City Chambers'. A century-old granite balustrade was demolished when a workman reversed his vehicle during work on an inner courtyard of the building in George Sq. Stonework carved by craftsmen when the building was being constructed in the late 19th century tumbled into a basement area below the quadrangle. Conservationists are now assessing the damage and the final bill could reach 30_000_GBP. Councillor Ms.Pat Chalmers, chairman of 'The Glasgow Building Preservation Trust', said:
'This is the premier listed building in Glasgow. 'You can be certain that I will be breathing down the necks of officials to make sure that the balustrade is restored to its former glory. 'Great care will have to be taken in its restoration and I hope a major insurance claim is already under way to pay for it.'
The city chambers was designed by Paisley-born architect Mr.William Young. After winning the second of two controversial design competitions, he was awarded a budget of 552_028_GBP. Marble was transported to Glasgow from Italy to provide the impressive entrance columns and grand staircases. There were gold ceilings and stained glass windows. For the retaining walls, 537 cubic metres of granite was hewn from quarries. And it took 10_million bricks to complete the building, which was opened by Queen Victoria in 1888. The city chambers has made headlines and featured in 'Hollywood' movies over the years. A Conservative councillor once hid up a chimney in the debating chamber and re-emerged to swing a crucial vote. It has doubled for 'The Vatican' and 'The British Embassy in Moscow' and played a starring role in Ms.Gillian Anderson's film 'The House of Mirth' five years ago.
A spokesman for Glasgow City said:
'The damage was as a result of a contractor's vehicle colliding with the wall. 'The balustrade has been inspected by the appropriate council departments and an approved contractor -- who will now provide a "Quotation" and "Method Statement" for the re-instatement of the works. 'Any proposed works will require the prior approval of the council's "Heritage and Design" section and their staff have already viewed the damage.'
'Lorry delivers dent to Glasgow's pride', Paul Drury, Scotland on Sunday, 2005-08-14

2005-08-08

Life, Death and 'Flip Flops'

Your 'Flip Flops' Can save Your LifeFlip Flops can save your life Holiday-makers should wear 'flip-flops' on sandy beaches to protect them from an explosion in the numbers of a poisonous fish in Scotland, marine biologists warned last night (2005-08-05). Lesser Weever Fish'The Lesser Weever Fish', which inflicts an 'excruciating' wound from poisonous barbs on its back, has amazed scientists by increasing its population by four-fold in the last year. The native species, which grows to 150_mm, lies buried in wet sand at low tide or shallow water. If it is stood on, it causes the person's foot to turn red and swell and is painful for up to two weeks. Scientists now fear the surge in numbers of the species in Scotland's waters could lead to more beach-goers being stung if they fail to take precautions. Curator of Fishes at 'The National Museum of Scotland' Mr.Geoff Swinney, said the dangers had to be brought to people's attention so they could treat the sting in the correct way.
'People ought to be alerted about the dangerous species along our shoreline of which "The Weever Fish" is one,' he said. 'This fish gives an extremely painful sting. If someone is stung by one they should not pour vinegar on it -- like you do for a jellyfish sting -- but instead they should allow the wound to bleed to wash the poison out. 'They should also put their foot into as hot water as they can stand without scalding themselves as this breaks down the proteins in the poison and stops it from working. They should then seek medical attention. 'People can die if they go into anaphylactic shock after being stung by "The Weever Fish" so people should take precautions and not paddle barefoot.'
Greater Weever FishHe added that fishermen should also beware of grabbing fish from nets because 'The Greater Weever Fish' -- found in deeper Scottish waters -- would inject venom into their hands from the barbs on their backs. 'The Lesser Weever' lives on shrimps, and comes inshore to feed during the summer months. Poisonous Dorsal of Weever FishThey are a golden-brown colour with a silvery underbelly and have sharp black fins which are filled with venom. Shore Ecologist at 'The Association For Marine Science' near Oban, Mr.Mike Burrows, said 'The Weever Fish' had been thriving this year.
'They have been very successful this summer. Our teams during sampling along the shore have been finding about three or four times more "Weever Fish" in their nets than ever before. 'This is good news for the species -- but bad news for paddlers; the spike on its back produces a very painful sting far worse than a bee sting, so I would advise people to wear "flip flops". 'If a "Weever Fish" is disturbed by someone walking about near them they will erect their spines.'
Marine Biologist at 'Deep Sea World' in South Queensferry, Mr.Chris Rowe, said people can easily stand on them because they bury into the sand.
'I have heard of people standing on them -- and it isn't pleasant, so I would definitely recommend wearing "flip-flops". 'A lot of people don't know about them so they don't know to put their foot into hot water for at least thirty minutes if they are stung by a "Weever Fish". 'A sudden "explosion" of a species like this indicates an imbalance in the food web, and if it continues, it would be a worry. 'It is also "bad news" as far as playing on the beach is concerned.'
'Paddlers in peril as poisonous weever fish hit the beach', Angie Brown, The Scotsman, 2005-08-06 Sa Warning: Your 'Flip Flops' Could Kill You Wearing trendy 'flip flops' could kill you, according to new research. The fashionable footwear -- ideal for the beach in hot weather -- are putting the lives of road users at ris; three in every four motorists have admitted they find it hard to drive in 'flip flops', and road safety experts have warned that wearing the sandals in the car could be a lethal decision. Flip Flops Can Kill YouResearchers claim a 'flip flop', worn by millions, can easily get stuck under the pedals and cause a fatal accident, 'The Sun Newspaper' says. Mr.Craig Martin, spokesman for 'Norwich Union' who carried out the poll, told the newspaper:
'Footwear such as "flip flops" are dangerous, as the sole can get caught under a pedal. 'The absence of ankle support can lead to the foot slipping off the pedal altogether.'
Ms.Leigh Purves, gossip columnist for 'The Daily Star', is among those to have had a close call while driving with designer flip flops. She has told how, while travelling on the M1 motorway, her sandal got stuck under the brake pedal and she missed another car 'by millimetres'. 'The Sun Newspaper' also says that German researchers revealed last year (2004) that 14 out of 25 pairs of flip flops they studied contained toxic chemicals known to lower sperm count in men and attack the liver, kidneys and reproductive organs.

2005-08-05

Intolerance: West Bank Graffitied by 'Banksy'

Guerrila Artist Banksy does the West Bank BarrierSecretive 'guerrilla' artist 'Banksy' has decorated Israel's controversial 'West Bank Barrier' with satirical images of life on the other side. The nine paintings were created on the Palestinian side of the barrier. One depicts a hole in the wall with an idyllic beach, while another shows a mountain landscape on the other side. 'Banksy's' spokesman Ms.Jo Brooks said:
'The Israeli security forces did shoot in the air threateningly and there were quite a few guns pointed at him.'
Graffiti Artist Banksy works on West Bank WallAnother picture shows the head of a white horse appearing to poke through, while he has also painted a ladder going over the wall. The 680-kilometre long barrier, made of concrete walls and razor-wire fences, is still being erected by Israeli authorities. Israel says the structure is necessary to protect the country from 'suicide bombers', but 'The International Court of Justice' has said it breaches 'International Law'. 'Banksy', who hails from the UK city of Bristol, never allows himself to be photographed and created the images last week (2005-08-01/05). He condemned the wall but described it as 'the ultimate activity holiday destination for graffiti writers'. His previous creations, which critics condemn as stunts, have included a bronze spoof of the statue of 'Justice' from 'The Old Bailey', London, wearing thigh-high boots and a suspender belt. He also embarrassed 'The British Museum' by planting a hoax 'cave painting' of a man pushing a supermarket trolley, which he said went unnoticed for three days. He has also smuggled and hung works in galleries including 'The Tate Britain' in London and 'The Metropolitan' and 'The Museum of Modern Art' in New York, USA. 'Art prankster sprays Israeli wall', BBC News, 2005-08-05 10:19:17 GMT Links:

2005-08-02

Intolerance & Science: What To Do With 'Pluto'?

The discovery of a new planet in our Solar System could have an unintended consequence -- the elimination of 'Pluto' in the list of planets everyone has in their heads. Is it time to wave this distant, dark piece of rock farewell? To the casual observer, the announcement that scientists have identified a tenth planet orbiting the Sun is primarily of importance to few people other than science teachers and schoolchildren. But, on closer examination, the revelation may have more far-reaching consequences for the way in which we think about space. At around 3_000_km across, '2003 UB313' -- as it has been named -- is the largest object found in our Solar System since the discovery of 'Neptune' in 1846. And it is thought to be larger than 'Pluto', whose status as 'The Furthest Planet From The Sun' has been enshrined in accepted thought since it was identified in 1930. But this could all change. Technological advances have enabled astronomers to find more minor planets, stars, asteroids and comets. And in the late 1960s scientists found that 'Pluto's' size had been over-estimated. It was first thought to be around as large as 'Earth', whereas accepted thought now suggests that the planet's mass is only around a fifth of 'The Moon's'.
'Today, the world knows that "Pluto" is not unique.
'There are other "Plutos" -- just farther out in the Solar System where they are a little harder to find,' says Mr.David Rabinowitz of Yale University, who was among the astronomers who discovered '2003 UB313' two years ago.
His point is echoed by Professor Mr.Mark Bailey, director of 'Armagh Observatory' in Northern Ireland.
'Increasingly, objects are far away and there are objects which are of comparable size to "Pluto", so if you think of "Pluto" as a planet then you should refer to those objects as planets,' he says.
He estimates that there could be tens of thousands of objects beyond 'Neptune' in the Solar System region known as 'The Kuiper Belt', many of which may be larger than 'Pluto'. The discovery of '2003 UB313' comes soon after it was announced that '2003 EL61' had been found. And a number of distant objects around the same size of 'Pluto' have been found in recent years, including 'Quaoar' (found in 2002) and 'Sedna' (detected in 2004). It is widely accepted that the struggle to provide an adequate definition of a planet is the crux of the problem.
'Originally "a planet" was a wandering star.
'Then it was something that moved across the sky.
'Then it was something that revolved around the Sun.
'The criterion about when it should be called "a planet" is something that is changing over time,' says Mr.Bailey. 'I'm sure we will continue to discover more and more objects of comparable size which will continue to challenge established thought about planets.'
planet size comparison 'Size does matter' Mr.Brian Marsden, director of 'The International Astronomy Union's' 'Minor Planet Centre', believes the simplest way to resolve the confusion is to reject 'Pluto's' claim to being a planet on the grounds that 'size does matter'. Instead, he says, people should accept that
'we have eight planets -- and only an object bigger than 'Mars' could be considered to be a planet in the future'.
He argues that the disruption that would be caused to accepted thought would, ultimately, provide a more accurate understanding of space.
'School text books concentrate too much on the idea that 'Pluto' is the ninth planet.
'Teaching should stress that there are hundreds of thousands of much smaller objects. Knowing a mnemonic and naming the planets is not science.'
But not everyone believes science has the right, or influence to turn accepted thought on its head.
'Our culture has fully embraced the idea that "Pluto" is a planet -- and scientists have for the most part not yet realised that the term "planet" no longer belongs to them,' says Mr.Michael Brown, one of the astronomers who discovered '2003 UB313'.
His conclusion is simple:
'From now on, everyone should ignore the distracting debates of the scientists.
'Planets in our solar system should be defined not by some attempt at forcing a scientific definition on a thousands-of-years-old cultural term, but by simply embracing culture.
'"Pluto" is a planet because culture says it is. 'It is understandably hard for scientists to let go of a word that they think they use scientifically, but they need to.'
He considers '2003 UB313' to be a planet in a 'cultural' and 'historical' sense, adding:
'I will not argue that it is a scientific planet because there is no good scientific definition which fits our solar system and our culture, and I have decided to let culture win this one. 'We scientists can continue our debates, but I hope we are generally ignored!'
'Farewell Pluto?', Alexis Akwagyiram,BBC News, 2005/08/02 12:13:43 GMT