2005-11-30

Intolerance: Princely Privacy Wins in Court

The publisher of the French celebrity magazine 'Paris Match' has been ordered to pay 50_000_EUR damages to Prince Albert-02 of Monaco for revealing he had an illegitimate son, a court source said. The 2005-11-24 judgement by a French appeals court orders the magazine's publishers 'Hachette Filipacchi' to pay 50_000_EUR damages and 5_000_EUR for court costs. The Versailles court also ordered the magazine to publish the court's decision in red letters across a white band covering at least one-third of the magazine's front cover. The decision confirmed a lower court ruling on 2005-06-29 against the publishers for violations of French law regarding privacy and the prince's legal rights concerning ownership and distribution of photographs. In an article published in 2005-05, former air hostess Ms.Nicole Coste revealed that Prince Albert was the father of her then 22-month old son, Alexandre, who featured in several photographs. Prince Albert, a 47-year-old bachelor, publicly recognised the child as his son on 2005-07-06. A month later he officially became the reigning monarch of the two-square-kilometre principality on the French Mediterranean coast, following the death of his father Prince Rainier-3 on 2005-04-06. 'Prince Albert awarded 59,000 dollars for Paris Match expose', Yahoo! News, 2005-11-30

2005-11-23

In The Poem About Love, You Don't Write The Word Love

'In the poem about love, you don't write the word love.' It sounds like staging 'Hamlet' without 'the prince', nevertheless it is the title for the current exhibition at 'The CCA'. The curator is Ms.Tanya Leighton. There are more than 30 artists involved, including some exalted names. Not all of them appear to be represented by actual works, but the art is secondary. The exhibition is the artwork. It's a curator's show. Ms.Leighton sets out her objectives thus:
'Calling various social arrangements into question, the artists and filmmakers reveal aspects of the power that images wield and the processes by which they build realities.'
Fine so far, but then she writes:
'The selected works introduce serious objections to our understandings of representation, scrambling linear and narrative structures as a means of disorientating spectators and thereby exposing conventions of communication.'
Once disorientated, could I really appreciate the 'exposure of conventions of communication'? It gets worse and, of course, the labels are highly tendentious. They insistently impose meaning on the reluctant art works, bullying them into line. Thus Mr.David Lamelas's 'Rock Star', we are told, 'explores strategies of removal as he questions the status of the artist and appropriates his persona as a popular icon in the 1970s'. The artwork -- such as it is, being photos of the artist as a rock star -- is plainly secondary to the label. I will spare you more of this. Nonsense is as nonsense does. We have to disinter the art from a burial mound of language. When that is done, many of the works thus press-ganged disobey their leader. Mr.Gareth James's origami architectural sculptures, 'Real Estate', we are told, articulate 'the persistence of the logic of capitalist property values in the visual'. They do nothing of the kind. Some works do fit more or less, however. A film by Mr.John Menick, for instance -- a film about not making a film in Nuremberg -- is suitably off the expected point of filmmaking. Another, from the 1970s by Mr.John Smith, is a send-up. People in an ordinary street do ordinary things, while a director's voice superimposed after the event appropriates their actions to make them his own. An American propaganda film is also clearly 'subverted' by Mr.Keith Sanborn. Every speech, and even the credits, is given a repetitive echo, but the original, a chilling piece of so-called 'information warfare', would be much more scary unsubverted. One of the big names here is Mr.Jean Luc Godard with a film, 'Ici et Ailleurs', made in co-operation with Anne-Marie Mieville. This, we are told, is 'probably the most important essay film ever made'. I love that 'probably', there to affirm the curator's modesty and her learning. The film, made 30 years ago in Palestine, has a subject which demands our sympathy and interest. As cinema, though, it is not Godard at his best, but rather an example of the irritating self-indulgence passing as philosophy to which French 'Nouvelle Vague' directors were prone. This exhibition deals with a serious subject. These issues matter. We are surrounded by images that make us witnesses to disasters, transport us to a warzones, or offer us a glamorous sexy reality more alluring than our own. They are fickle and unreliable and we are certainly manipulated by them, but recognition of their problematic nature is not unique to our time. Ever since Descartes, even the images we form in our heads of the world around us have been philosophically problematic, and these problems of epistemics have, in part, shaped modern art. You can summarise it thus: if what you see is so uncertain, how can you ever paint it? If that is so, this exhibition is not quite so cutting-edge as it would like to think it is. In the last 40 years thinkers, French ones in particular, have added a new and problematic layer, by arguing that language itself is uncertain and unreliable, shaped by unseen structures of meaning that work like a computer virus, distorting our ideas without our even being aware of them. We need to understand all this, but is this the way to help us do so, with an illustrated thesis -- and a hefty one at that? I asked what supplementary information was available and was shown six black ring-binders bulging with documents. This is an exhibition that needs footnotes and a great deal of time. If the listed films were all shown they would run for more than seven hours and we are not talking 'Harry Potter'. Who is going to sit through all that? Art has to engage you. It can entice, persuade, bully, seduce, take you by surprise. Visual art can do any of those things instantly. If it is any good it doesn't need seven hours to make a connection that gets you involved. 'In the Poem About Love You Don't Write The Word Love' runs until 2006-01-28. 'Talking around the subject', Duncan Macmillan, The Scotsman, 2005-11-22, Tu

2005-11-22

Intolerance: Understanding Decorative Artwork

Article by Julian Spalding, Author of 'The Art of Wonder -- a History of Seeing' When we first emerged as a species, only about 150_000 years ago, our eyes opened on to a world full of wonders. We had no idea what happened to the sun when it set, why the moon changed shape or what made the stars shine. We couldn't explain why flames rise and water falls, or why we are the only creatures that walk upright. We had no notion what was beyond the sea. Even until a few centuries ago the western edge of the known world was at 'Finisterre', which means the end of the earth. The eastern edge was Japan. Its name, 'Nihon', means 'the source of the sun'. Everything we looked at was mysterious and poetic. Our modern, scientific world view emerged when Mr.Columbus sailed over the edge of the ocean and didn't fall off, when Mr.Galileo turned his telescope on the moon and discovered it was a lump of solid rock, when Mr.Newton worked out why the moon stayed up but an apple fell down and when Mr.Darwin revealed that the appearances of all living things, including ourselves, has changed and is changing. My new book, 'The Art of Wonder -- a History of Seeing', takes its reader on a journey back to a time when art was inspired by wonder. It requires an imaginative leap to see through the eyes of people in the past. It's difficult to unlearn what we know -- to see the moon, for example, as a virgin giving birth, and not a satellite in the shadow of the Earth. Most art history has been written from our modern viewpoint, and misinterprets art as a result. So how does looking through the eyes of people years ago change the currently accepted interpretations of world art?
The art of China is a good example. We've come to think that Imperial China was centralist, rigid and inhumane.
In fact their whole culture was dedicated to harmony and humanity.
They were centralist because they thought the world was centred -- but on what they didn't know.
A dragon dancing around a pearl was a favourite symbol for this mystery. Like most ancient people, the Chinese believed that the Earth was floating on an ocean (water sank through the soil and it had to go somewhere), so waves are shown at the bottom of Chinese Imperial robes.
Also, like most people, the Chinese believed the Earth was square because it had four directions -- east and west (the path of the sun) and north and south (the Chinese invented the compass about 2_000 years ago).
The world's centre had to be where these lines crossed. Chinese emperors, as sons of heaven, performed ceremonies at these central points, to connect the celestial with the terrestrial world and draw harmonious influences down to land -- and they went on doing so until 1911, when Western science finally undermined their 2_000-year-old tradition.
Gravity, that mysterious invisible force, fascinated our ancestors. Our spark of life reached for the stars, while our bodies sank down to the cold grave. Our hopes were above; death waited for us below. This must surely explain the context of Scotland's earliest art -- the 'cup and ring' marks incised on boulders, which are about 4_500 years old. Countless different explanations have been given for these markings, including the idea, seriously proposed, that they show the movement of planets around the sun, though no-one in Scotland could have had such a conception then. These 'cup and ring' marks are remarkably similar to modern Australian Aboriginal painting, which is a product of the oldest continuous culture in the world, dating back about 35_000 years. The ancient people of Scotland knew nothing of their contemporaries in Australia, but they were the same sort of people trying to make sense of the same sights -- such as the wonder of a starry night. It's most likely that these 'cup and ring' marks were attempts to praise particular stars and bring their beneficent influence down to Earth. The fact that Australian Aborigines are still performing such ceremonies shows how enduring and satisfying our ancient way of interpreting nature was, before the advent of modern science. It's generally assumed in the West that scientific discoveries undermined religious belief. But most major faiths, such as Judaism, Islam and Buddhism, were unaffected by these revelations because they believed divinity was beyond human perception, no matter how deeply we probed. Christianity, however, was seriously challenged by science because it taught that God could not only be seen in his creation but appeared in it. This is why Christian art is unique -- not because it's better, as European art historians often assume, but because it was born from a different world view. Christianity was the only major faith to encourage the close examination of the natural world. This culminated in 'The Renaissance', when artists painted God's light in the world. We usually think of Leonardo da Vinci as being the father of our modern scientific age, but he was actually closer to the cave painters than he is to us. It's true he examined nature more intensely than anyone had before, yet he believed by doing so he would be able to see its divine source. 'The Mona Lisa' was his attempt to paint the soul. But the more Leonardo examined nature the more he began to wonder if it had really been made for us to look at. That's why 'The Mona Lisa's' smile is so equivocal. She's the pinnacle of an ancient world view, but hints at the beginning of our own. The great period of scientific discovery began 500 years ago with the invention of the telescope. We now call this period 'The Enlightenment', but in terms of Christian art it was a darkening. The more closely Christian artists and scientist looked at nature, the more they doubted whether they could see God in it all. During 'The Renaissance', Mr.Albrecht Dürer had painted himself as if he could see God in his own face. Rembrandt was no longer sure. His increasing introspection is usually explained, by art historians, in purely personal terms, but it was a reflection of a much wider and profoundly disturbing change in our world view. 'The Enlightenment' produced the darkest art the world has ever seen. By the start of the last century, the appearance of everything we could see had been explained. Scientists turned their attention to worlds beyond the reach of the naked eye. Freud explored the unconscious and surrealist artists began to paint their dreams. Truth to appearances, which had been the guiding light of Western art for centuries, was abandoned. Art historians claim this break with representation was the great achievement of modern artists, but it was, in fact, a product of our changing world view. New wonders are appearing all around us -- most recently in fractal geometry, and in the nature of consciousness itself. It's now thought that awareness of death and the ability to wonder and create art distinguish the human species. One thing we can be sure of, while we continue to exist, wonders will never cease. Julian Spalding is a writer, curator and former director of Glasgow's museums and galleries. 'Do you really know how to look at art?', Julian Spalding, The Scotsman, 2005-11-22, Tu

Intolerance: Swearing increasing on TV

Whether it's the expletive-filled kitchen of Mr.Gordon Ramsay, or the grimy world of 'EastEnders', British viewers blame 'soap operas' and 'reality TV shows' for what they believe is an increasing outpouring of 'bad language' on screen. Many viewers also fear 'strong language' is creeping earlier into the viewing schedules ahead of the 21:00 watershed, which is designed to limit strong content to adult viewers. The snapshot of what a typical UK television viewer finds acceptable on screen has emerged in research commissioned by 'Ofcom', the telecoms 'watchdog'. Its researchers quizzed more than 170 people in Glasgow, Bristol, Leicester and London to discover people's attitudes towards swearing on the small screen. Those interviewed described their experiences of swearing on screen and gave their reaction to excerpts from ten programmes, all containing varying degrees of 'bad language'. The study concluded that, while some instances of 'bad language' could be justified by the context -- a documentary about a prison, for example -- 'bad language' on TV was often thought to be used gratuitously. Programmes cited by viewers as responsible for increasing amounts of 'bad language' included 'EastEnders', 'Grumpy Old Men', 'Hell's Kitchen' and the daytime chat show 'Trisha'. 'The Osbournes', the fly-on-the-wall documentary following the eccentric household of Mr.Ozzy Osbourne and his family, was also singled out for its 'strong language', but viewers felt more forgiving as they considered that the rocker's constant outbursts were 'funny' and 'part of the context.' However, Ms.Sharon Osbourne was criticised for an appearance on Channel 4's teenage strand, 'T4', in which she pretended to be an agony aunt reading out a letter, but became progressively ruder as the item wore on. Overall, the 'Ofcom' report said viewers felt that swearing 'started earlier in the evening and that soaps and reality programmes had contributed to this decline more than other genres'. The combative Glaswegian chef Gordon Ramsay is criticised in the research for his incessant use of the 'F-word'. While many viewers were tolerant of 'bad language' used when cameras were present in high-pressure work environments, Ramsay's unrelenting 'bad language' failed to impress. Viewers thought it 'added nothing to the programme and could easily have been edited out'. The unexpected use of 'strong language' remains offensive to the average viewer. One of the clips examined by the 'Ofcom' researchers was a four-letter outburst by Mr.John Lydon, better known as 'Johnny Rotten', while a contestant on 'I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here'. His language hit the headlines in 2004-02 and forced ITV to introduce a time delay on subsequent episodes of the reality show. Many viewers thought ITV was 'asking for trouble' by inviting Mr.Lydon on to the show, and they thought large numbers of younger viewers would have been up after 21:00 to watch it. Sunday night's debut episode of the new series of 'I'm a Celebrity..' was watched by 9.4_million viewers and it again proved popular with the younger audience, capturing more than 42 per cent of its target 16/34-year-old audience. It featured the odd bleeped-out expletive from contestants. The media analyst Mr.Paul Robinson said he thought 'Ofcom' would take a 'relaxed' view of 'reality TV', despite concerns raised by some of the audience.
'If something creeps out in a live programme, and it's in context, "Ofcom" will probably be more tolerant than something that has been scripted.
'They know these shows are going to be seen by kids whatever time they are scheduled,' he said.
The research was commissioned for 'Ofcom' as part of its 'Broadcasting Code', which came into force in 2005-07. 'Bad language is the curse of TV shows', Fergus Sheppard, The Scotsman, 2005-11-22, Tu

Weather: "Early Warning Statement" Issued

Severe winter weather will hit Scotland this weekend, with heavy snow, blizzards and freezing temperatures predicted for much of the country. In an 'early warning statement' yesterday 2005-11-21, 'The Met. Office' said the chance of disruption due to cold weather in Scotland on 2005-11-25 Friday is now up to 70 per cent. A blast of cold northerly winds will hit the country by 2005-11-24 Thursday, dropping temperatures to below freezing and dumping up to 200_mm of snow, 'The Met. Office' said. Northern parts of Scotland, including Grampian and the Highlands, will be hardest hit. Glasgow and Edinburgh are likely be spared the worst of the weather. While the predicted temperature of -3C is considerably milder than the lows of -9C recorded in some areas of Scotland last Friday, this week's weather will feel considerably colder because of high winds. A 'Met. Office' spokesman said:
'The temperatures will be nowhere near record-breaking for this time of year, but it will feel very cold in the wind, sleet and snow showers. 'It will probably feel as cold as -12C.'
He added:
'The large mountainous area in the middle of Scotland tends to cut off the Central Belt from northern storms, so Edinburgh and Glasgow should escape the worst of the weather.'
'The Met. Office' predicts the weather will turn milder by Saturday evening (2005-11-26), but not before dropping over half a foot of snow in Inverness and Aberdeen. Blizzards and freezing roads will pose the greatest threat of disruption. The forecasts come amid concerns that Scotland is on the verge of one of the coldest winters in 50 years. 'The Met. Office' said it was too early to tell if this week's forecast was the start of a freezing winter, but added that it was the 'sort of forecast we expect to occur more frequently this winter'. The forecasts have spurred campaigners for the elderly to publicise the risks cold weather poses, particularly to those in poor housing conditions. Mr.Steve Jones, a spokesman for 'British Gas Help the Aged Partnership', said:
'Last winter, deaths amongst older people increased by 35 per cent in just one year, the highest for five years. 'This is a shocking increase, and unless urgent action is taken by the government, the scandal will persist.'
A spokesman for the RSPCA said:
'If you have got pets just think about them, especially if they live outside. 'Make sure they are warm.'
British gas prices shot up to eight-month highs yesterday on the heels of 'The Met. Office' warning, heightening worries about falling output from Scotland's ageing North Sea gas fields. 'Arctic weather set to sweep into Scotland', Eben Harrell, The Scotsman, 2005-11-22, Tu

Intolerance: Last Survivor from WW1 dies

Scotland's last surviving veteran of 'The First World War', and the country's oldest man, died peacefully at a nursing home yesterday aged 109 -- severing the last tangible link between the nation and the 690_235 Scots who served in 'The Great War'. Mr.Alfred Anderson was the last of the 'Old Contemptibles' -- the British expeditionary force which went to war in 1914 -- and the last surviving witness of the historic Christmas truce when opposing troops declared a brief and unofficial ceasefire to play football and share drinks and cigarettes in the hell of 'no man's land'. Mr.Anderson served with 'The 5th Battalion the Black Watch' until he was wounded by shrapnel in 1916. Yesterday, 2005-11-21, members of his former regiment, The First Minister Mr.Jack Mcconnell, and 'The Royal British Legion' joined in paying tribute to the 'dignified and unassuming' hero of the war that was supposed to end all wars. Mr.Anderson, born in Dundee in 1896 when Queen Victoria was still on the throne, had followed in his father's footsteps as a joiner in the Angus village of Newtyle and was only 16 when he enlisted in 'The Territorial Army' in 1912. Two years later he was among the first soldiers called to duty when his battalion was sent to France -- derided by the Kaiser as 'that contemptible little army'. He first went into action on 1914-11-13, and served for almost two years, almost without respite, in the horror of 'The Western Front'. He was briefly the batman to Captain Fergus Bowes-Lyon, the brother of 'The Queen Mother', who was killed at 'The Battle of Loos' in 1915. Mr.Anderson was also a witness to the remarkable truce on 'The Western Front' on Christmas Day 1914, when British and German troops left their trenches to exchange cigarettes, sing carols and celebrate a brief armistice. At the time of the truce, Mr.Anderson's platoon had been briefly sent back a short distance from the front line. He later recalled:
'There was not a sound to be heard for a while -- nothing. 'And then we heard some cheering. 'This had been the two sides fraternising, I think. 'Some of the boys came back from the front line and told us in the billets what was happening. 'Then it became the usual thing. 'The silence ended early in the afternoon and the killing started again. 'It was a short peace in a terrible war.'
His active service ended in the spring of 1916, when he was wounded in the neck by a piece of shrapnel from a shell burst which killed several of his comrades. He was invalided back to England. There he served as an instructor with the army, rising to the rank of staff sergeant before the war ended. During his time at a training camp in Rippon he married a local girl, Ms.Susanna Iddison. The couple returned to Scotland, where Mr.Anderson went back to work as a joiner in his father's Newtyle business. During 'The Second World War' Mr.Anderson took command of the local detachment of 'The Home Guard' and, after peace was declared, he became chairman of the local branch of 'The Royal British Legion'. Following his wife's death in 1979 he left his home in Newtyle to live in Alyth, close to his youngest daughter. One of the proudest moments of his life came in 1998 when, together with several other veterans, he received 'The Légion d'Honneur', France's highest military honour, to mark his service in 'The First World War'. Mr.Anderson continued to live independently at his home in Alyth until only six weeks ago when, as the result of failing health, he returned to Newtyle as a resident of 'The Mundamalla Nursing Home'. He died in the early hours of yesterday morning, 2005-11-21. He had been too frail to take part in this month's 'Armistice Day' commemorations but said he would still be remembering his fallen comrades, as he had every day of his life. He said:
'I'm the last man standing -- the last surviving Scottish soldier from the Great War.
'It's up to me to remember all those who have gone before.'
The First Minister yesterday led tributes to the old soldier. He said:
'Alfred Anderson represented the generation of young Scots who fought in "The First World War", and endured unimaginable horrors.
'Many of them made the ultimate sacrifice for their country and we must never forget what they have given to us.'
Colonel Mr.Roddie Riddell, the regimental secretary of 'The Black Watch', said
'This is a sad moment in history.
'It is the end of an era.'
Mr.Neil Griffiths, a spokesman for 'The Royal British Legion of Scotland', said:
'He was our last surviving link with a time that shimmers on the edge of our folk memory.
'There was something old worldly about him -- he was honourable, dignified and had a tremendously droll sense of humour.
'He always stood erect and was always immaculately "turned out".
'We will not see his likes again.'
Mr.Anderson is survived by two daughters and two sons, ten grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren, and two great-great grandchildren. 'Last veteran of World War One dies at 109', Frank Urquhart, The Scotsman, 2005-11-22, Tu

Health: The Right Fat

'A Moment on the lips a lifetime on the hips' is every dieter's mantra. It's not that we actually believe every square of chocolate we eat will literally stick to our love handles, but there is a common enemy: fat. However, it's not that simple because fat is not always the baddie it is assumed to be. There are a number of different types of fat, each with their own role to play in our wellbeing. Instead of being concerned about eating too much, we should ask ourselves: Are we eating too little? 'We do actually need some fat in our diet,' says Ms.Claire Williamson, a nutrition scientist at 'The British Nutrition Foundation' ('The BNF').
'It is a vital source of energy and nutrients. 'It is generally recommended that women should have about 70_g of fat a day and men should be consuming 95_g.'
This isn't a licence to start eating unlimited amounts of burgers and chips, though. Many saturated fats (the stuff found largely in meat and dairy products) can still be bad for us or, more precisely, our hearts, so consumption of them should be kept to a minimum. We should instead be eating 'monounsaturated' and 'polyunsaturated' fats. These 'good fats' are found in olive and sunflower oils, nuts, avocados and oily fish, and can help our bodies in a myriad ways. This is a perplexing concept for some of us raised in the era of low-fat food fascism, so if you need help embracing foods with a high fat content, here's a guide to what fat can do for you, and how to get it. THE HEART
'Eating the right type of fat is actually essential for a healthy heart,' says Ms.Williamson. 'A diet containing mainly monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats will benefit our hearts because it is thought that they help lower cholesterol levels.'
We should also make sure there are enough 'omega-3 fatty acids' in our diet. Although scientists are still investigating the effects of 'omega-3' on the heart, 'The American Heart Association' says this 'polyunsaturated fatty acid' can lower the risk of heart arrhythmias and prevent the build up of atherosclerotic plaque (the accumulation of fatty deposits on the arteries). • EAT: oily fish such as mackerel and salmon, Columbus eggs (which are fortified with 'omega-3') and flax seeds. THE BRAIN
'"Omega-3 fatty acids" are essential for healthy brain, eye and nervous system development and should be a crucial part of the diet during pregnancy,' says Ms.Williamson.
Essential fatty acids such as 'omega-3' (EFAs) are beneficial not only at the embryonic stages of development, but can also aid cognitive performance all the way through life. In a study conducted by 'Oxford University' and the local education authority in Durham this year scientists found that 'omega-3' and 'omega-6 fatty acids' improve children's behaviour and performance at school. According to Professor Basant Puri, the head of the lipid neurosciences group at 'Imperial College London', who has tested the effect of EFAs on brain function, they can also improve degenerative conditions such as 'Alzheimer's Disease' and 'Huntington's Disease'. • EAT: oily fish, pumpkin seeds, flax seeds and cod liver oil. THE SKIN
'Our skin and hair needs EFAs because they are a component of these organs and dieters who follow an extremely low-fat diet can end up with dry skin and hair that's in bad condition,' says Ms.Williamson.
Those who suffer from acne should specifically try and increase their intake of EFAs, which feed the skin and act as anti-inflammatories. • EAT: Flaxseed oil, or take evening primrose oil and cod-liver oil supplements. THE IMMUNE SYSTEM
'Fat provides the fat-soluble Vitamins -A, -D, -E and -K.
'Not only is it important that we eat fat to deliver these vitamins into our systems, but fat also helps us absorb them,' says Ms.Williamson.
'Vitamin-A' aids the function of our immune system and, as it promotes the growth of new tissue, can also improve the speed at which injuries heal. 'Vitamin-E' acts as an antioxidant to help prevent damage of cell membranes by free radicals and so plays an important part in preventing diseases and keeps the body healthy. • EAT: Liver, butter and cream for 'Vitamin-A', and cook with vegetable oil for a dose of 'Vitamin-E', or snack on nuts, seeds and avocados. THE BONES Calcium is essential for both the growth and renewal of bone cells. However, as Ms.Williamson points out, the 'Vitamin-D' carried by fats is needed to absorb calcium and is therefore crucial for healthy bones. A lack of 'Vitamin-D' in our diet can lead to rickets (a bone disease which can result in skeletal deformities) and osteoporosis (where the bones become fragile and prone to fractures). • EAT: Tuna, sardines, eggs (in particular the yolk) and dairy products (which are often fortified with the vitamin). 'Are you chewing the fat?', Jessica Kiddle, The Scotsman, 2005-11-22, Tu

Health: Buddyfit Fitness Regime

Article by Jessica Kiddle: There are many things that I usually do with my friends on a Thursday night -- a trip to the cinema or a spot of late-night shopping, for example. Rolling about on a 'Swiss ball' in the middle of Edinburgh's 'Inverleith Park' is not one of them. But that's exactly what I found myself doing while taking part in 'Buddyfit' -- a fitness programme designed for four participants. The idea behind 'Buddyfit' is that working out with friends will motivate even the most reluctant exercisers. To be honest, I was born with a strong aversion to working out and I did not see how making it a group activity could possibly convert me. But, determined to break the habit of a lifetime and armed with three girlfriends, I enlisted in the programme before the winter sloth set in. WHAT IS 'BUDDYFIT' ? A ten-week health and fitness programme designed for groups of friends. It was devised by Coventry-based personal trainers Mr.David Fleckner and Ms.Rebecca Winters two years ago and they have since franchised out their fitness package. Personal trainers across the UK use the programme to work with groups of 'buddies'. HOW DOES IT WORK? Our coach was Lothian-based Ms.Paula Jenkins. She came to a location selected by us and brought all the equipment with her. We chose to work out in the local park, but you can go anywhere there's plenty of room to move. No week was ever the same, but we mostly did circuit training that included weight-lifting, boxing, hurdling and lots of toning work on the medicine balls. Most of these exercises are designed to build muscle (that consumes lots of energy which will, in turn, helped us to lose weight) and they bring new meaning to the phrase 'feel the burn' -- your muscles hurt both at the time and the day after. WHAT IS THE UNIQUE SELLING POINT? The sessions are not all that different from other personal training sessions, apart from the fact they are designed for groups of friends. So, instead of stomach crunches and lunges being a chore, they become a giggle. And, because I didn't want to let my friends down, I religiously kept my Thursday nights free. Admittedly, I did need a little encouragement from the rest of the group on some occasions, but we all kept each other going. WHAT ELSE DOES IT OFFER? As part of 'Buddyfit's' holistic approach to fitness there are some DVDs to watch containing expert advice on diet, herbal supplements and stress management. While the DVD is a good idea in theory, it is rather amateur in its presentation and quite basic. However, we all loved keeping the food diaries we were given, and I became fanatical about jotting down everything I ate. Ms.Jenkins analysed them halfway through the course. Getting personal feedback about my diet was invaluable. She told me to try to eat little and often to control my blood sugar levels better. I no longer skip breakfast and have swapped my afternoon chocolate stop for handfuls of nuts and dried fruit every few hours. Ms.Jenkins also told us to eat straight after we exercise because our metabolism speeds up. Now none of us feels guilty about a bowl of pasta after a workout. WHO IS IT FOR? Anyone who lacks motivation when it comes to exercise. It doesn't matter how unfit you are either. At first, I did not relishing the prospect of training with two marathon runners and a dedicated gym bunny -- would it really do my 'self-esteem' any good to stand in Lycra leggings alongside them? Would they get annoyed with me not being able to keep up? But, much to my surprise, training with people fitter than me was motivating. And, because we were working against the clock with each exercise, we all did as much as we could in the allotted time and nobody was left standing around waiting for anyone. HOW MUCH DOES IT COST? The hour-long sessions are 40_GBP. Between the four of us it worked out at 10_GBP/week -- cheaper than a gym membership and well worth it for the instruction. IS IT WORTH IT? Yes. Not only did I learn a lot but, just by following the nutritional advice, and attending the weekly sessions (interspersed with a few runs), I lost 19_mm of fat from each arm, markedly improved the tone of my stomach and legs, and lost 11 per cent of my total amount of body fat into the bargain. For the first time in my life I actually enjoyed working out. • For more information visit www.buddyfit.com or call 0870 002 0171 Three top Buddyfit exercises
  • THE BENT-OVER ROW Working your trapezius and rhomboid muscle (the postural muscles, upper-back and biceps), this exercise mimics the movements that you would make on a rowing machine. With a 'power bag' in your hands (a sand-filled plastic tube with handles), stand with your knees bent and, keeping your back straight, bend over until your upper half is almost parallel to ground. Now raise the 'power bag' up to the middle of your chest, keeping your elbows out until they are level with your shoulder blades. From this position, slowly lower the bag back down. Once you have mastered this exercise, repeat 15 times.
  • THE POWER LUNGES These strengthen and improve the power in your whole leg. Building on the traditional static lunge (where you step forward with one leg, bending down low and up again before stepping back and doing the same with the other leg), power lunges are a little bit harder. Instead of just stepping back to switch legs you jump back and bring your other leg forward -- swapping your legs in one solitary movement. Repeat 15 times.
  • SINGLE LEG CURLS Using the exercise ball, this movement works your hamstrings as well as improving your balance and building on your core strength. Lie on your back with your lower legs resting on the medicine ball and your hips slightly elevated. Lift one leg into the air and, with the other, slowly roll the ball inwards with your foot, drawing your legs in towards your bottom before rolling it back to the starting position. Then do the same with the other leg. Once you have mastered this routine, repeat the sequence 15 times with both legs.
The eating plan EAT LITTLE AND OFTEN Snacking on nuts and seeds between meals is the best way to stabilise the body's blood sugar levels throughout the day. It eliminates the need (and the urge) to reach for a sugary treat mid afternoon. PORRIDGE This is the perfect power food with which to start the day. Low in fat and calories yet full of complex carbohydrates (which release energy slowly), a bowl of oats will keep bodies energised all morning, and helps prevent unhealthy snacking between meals. FRUIT If the thought of a big breakfast doesn't appeal, fruit smoothies are a lighter option, but still a healthy one. Use a banana to fire up your metabolism and then throw in as many other fruits as possible. Berries are rich in anti-oxidants and mangoes are known as the happy fruit because of their mood-elevating properties. DON'T GO HUNGRY AT NIGHT Contrary to popular belief, eating before bedtime is not bad for you. Our body needs fuel to do its repairing work overnight and we can help this by having a small snack an hour before bedtime.
'Buddy, can you spare the time to work out?', Jessica Kiddle, The Scotsman, 2005-11-17, Th

Stats: Evans Beats Izzard's World Record

Comedian Mr.Lee Evans has set a world record for a solo act performing to the biggest comedy audience. Mr.Evans put on a show for 10_108 people at 'The Manchester Evening News Arena', breaking the previous record of 8_700, set by fellow comic Mr.Eddie Izzard. Mr.Evans grabbed the record while halfway through his 32-date nationwide tour.
When I started out 20 years ago I could never have imagined that I would be selling out more nights at Wembley than Coldplay,' said Mr.Evans.
Mr.Craig Glenday, editor of 'Guinness World Records', said: 'It's an incredible achievement to sell out these huge arenas night after night and he fully deserves his place in "The Guinness World Records books".' Mr.Evans first 'hit the big time' as a 'stand-up comedian' in 1993 when he won the prestigious 'Perrier Award' for comedy at 'The Edinburgh Festival'. Since then he has sold out increasingly larger venues. Evans has also shown his talent for acting with film roles in 'Mousehunt', 'There's Something About Mary' and 'Funny Bones'. He also voiced the character of 'The Train' in the recent movie version of 'The Magic Roundabout'. And Mr.Evans recently received an 'Olivier' nomination for his part as 'Leo Bloom' in the musical 'The Producers' on the 'West End stage'. 'Comic Evans breaks crowd record', BBC News, 2005/11/20 15:38:14 GMT

2005-11-21

Health & Intolerance: Fuss about Cancer Trials in Glasgow

Young Scottish women have become the first in the UK to be given a controversial vaccine designed to eradicate cervical cancer. Apparently 360 young women from Glasgow were chosen for clinical trials because of the city's high levels of underage sex and related sexual health problems. Aged between 16 and 23, the women are the only patients in the UK to be given 'Gardasil', the first vaccine in the world to provide protection against the cancer. It works by giving women immunity to different types of a sexually transmitted virus that causes around 70 per cent of cervical cancers. An high level of sexual activity greatly increases the risk of cervical cancer, so Glasgow was chosen to test the vaccine, which if approved for general use could help save thousands of lives every year. Despite health experts calling for urgent action to tackle Scotland's poor sexual health record, the vaccine faces fierce opposition as the manufacturers say it is vastly more effective if given to patients before they are sexually active and should therefore be prescribed to girls as young as 10. Details of the trial emerged after executives from drugs firm 'Sanofi Pasteur MSD' met with officials from 'The Scottish Executive' health department last week to brief them about the new vaccine. Recent figures from 'The National Cancer Intelligence Centre' revealed that most regions of Scotland had incidence rates of up to a third higher than the national average. In Scotland, more than 500 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer every year and around 100 die. High levels of underage sex have also alarmed public health experts who fear it is helping to fuel the spread of the virus. More than 30 per cent of girls aged 15 are already sexually active.
'So far the vaccine has been 100 per cent effective,' said Mr.Gordon Crawford of Glasgow-based CPS Research, which ran the trial. 'We haven't seen anyone given the vaccine test positive for pre-cancerous cells. 'This trial was part of a much bigger worldwide study looking at the effectiveness of the vaccine, and our results have been reflected elsewhere.'
Around 260 women from Glasgow were given the first injections of the vaccine two years ago and a further 100 were vaccinated this year. They were recruited through their GPs after researchers advertised for young women who had had fewer than three sexual partners. The vaccine, which is given in three doses over a six-month period, conveys immunity against different strains of the Human Papillomavirus (HPV), which cause about 70 per cent of all cervical cancers. The virus is usually transmitted through sexual contact. Researchers will now carry out regular tests on the women for a further two years to see if the vaccine protects them against the disease. Mr.Crawford said:
'We will now look at the long-term effect and see if it gives lifelong protection or if patients will need a booster shot. 'If approved for use in this country, the vaccine could help solve a major public health problem.'
Currently women are given routine smear tests every three years once they become sexually active to check for the early signs of the cancer. Screening programmes in the UK have led to a significant drop in the number of deaths from cervical cancer by detecting cells infected with the viruses before they turn cancerous. But nearly a fifth of women invited fail to attend appointments, meaning many cancers are missed. 'Sanofi Pasteur' claims that its vaccine would be most effective if given to girls as young as 10 years old so they have immunity against the viruses before they become sexually active.
'Scotland has cervical cancer death rates that are slightly above the rest of the EU,' said Mr.Nicholas Kitchin, the company's medical director.
'This is partly due to the higher levels of underage sex and lower uptake of screening. 'Infection rates with HPV rise very steeply from about the age of 13 years old as people become sexually active, so it is important to vaccinate them before that happens.'
But this has angered some critics who claim it will encourage children to have underage sex because it will make them believe it is safer. A spokesman for The Roman Christian Church said:
'To mass-vaccinate all 10 to 15-year-old girls has the potential to send out "the wrong signals".
'There are other sexually transmitted diseases besides HPV that can be spread by casual sex, and by eliminating one element of risk it might act as a "green light" for promiscuous behaviour.'
'Scots teenagers first to test cervical cancer vaccine ', Richard Gray, The Scotsman, 2005-11-20, Su

2005-11-20

List: 7th Tartan Clef Awards

Musician Mr.Midge Ure has been presented with a lifetime achievement award at 'The Tartan Clef Awards'. The 'Band Aid' co-founder and former 'Ultravox' singer received the accolade at a ceremony in Glasgow. The main award went to 'Hue and Cry', while newcomer Ms.Lucie Silvas was named as best breakthrough artist. 'Alabama 3' won the best songwriters prize, while there were also honours for 'The Corries'' Mr.Ronnie Browne and percussionist Ms.Evelyn Glennie. The awards are organised by 'The Nordoff-Robbins Music Therapy Charity', which helps people with disabilities. Raising money The ceremony is in its seventh year, with the prizes being presented this year by 'Lulu'. Previous winners have included 'The Darkness', Mr.Edwyn Collins and violinist Ms.Nicola Benedetti Chairman Donald Macleod said:
'"The Tartan Clef Awards" go from strength to strength each year, raising an astonishing amount of money for the charity. 'The generosity of people on the night is a true testament that music really does have a place in everyone's heart, and that awareness of the charity and the power of music therapy continues to grow.'
'Ure is honoured at music ceremony', BBC News,2005/11/20 10:44:01 GMT

2005-11-19

Money & Stats: Gap Out of Fashion

The US American fashion chain 'Gap' is losing out to imitation rivals, prompting a 10 per cent sales slump in British sales, the firm admitted 2005-11-18. The retailer, which has more than 125 stores in the UK and has been endorsed by celebrities including 'Madonna', 'Missy Elliot' and Ms.Sarah Jessica Parker, said its autumn ranges had failed to appeal to consumers... It said international stores were the worst-performing part of its business, suggesting British shoppers had abandoned 'Gap' in favour of cheaper or more fashionable competitors such as 'Top Shop', 'H&M', 'Zara' and 'Mango'. Sales of the autumn collection have fallen by 10 per cent outside the USA between 2005-08 and 2005-10, despite an advertising campaign featuring the singer Ms.Joss Stone to boost its credibility as a fashion label. Branches in North America experienced a less severe sales drop of 4 per cent. The UK high street market is increasingly sophisticated thanks to 'fast fashion' -- affordable versions of catwalk couture which are on the racks within months of first appearing in magazines. Mr.Chris Curtis, the news editor of 'Draper's Magazine', the fashion industry's 'bible', said:
'European high street customers are more fashion forward and less conservative than [North] American buyers and have higher expectations. '"Gap" needs to decide why people are coming into their stores. 'Is it because of the superior quality, low price or fashion sense? 'Price is certainly an issue for stores like "French Connection", "Next" and "Gap". 'A shirt that cost 40_USD in [North] America costs 40_GBP over here, so they may be more affordable [in The USA]. '"Gap" has set up a design studio in London to cater to the tastes of the UK market, which is a step in the right direction, although the effects probably won't be seen until the autumn '06 collection. '"Gap International" is probably not set up for the fast turnaround expected by demanding British consumers.' '"Gap" is not incapable of appealing to the UK market. 'Fashion goes in cycles and their next collection might be really good.'
San Francisco-based 'Gap' has also blamed its poor performance on increased promotions and sales to shift leftover stock. Mr.Paul Pressler, the chief executive and president, described the results as 'unacceptable' and warned that it would miss targets for earnings and cash flow. Mr.Pressler said:
'The issues we face are "fixable" and we are aggressively executing plans to provide more compelling product and exceptional store experiences for our customers.'
Along with other middle-market shops such as 'French Connection' and 'Next', 'Gap' is struggling to keep up with the likes of 'Primark', 'New Look' and 'TK Maxx'. The growth of sales in supermarket clothing demonstrates shoppers' 'eye for a bargain' and trend watchers claim people are ignoring middle-market shops in favour of mixing bargain pieces with designer purchases. 'French Connection', which slashed its full-year profit forecast in 2005-07, blaming a weak retail environment, has also failed to capture the imagination of British customers. The 'FCUK' campaign, which has run since 1997, is finally being ditched in favour of more subtle branding after it was criticised as being dated. Earlier this year, Mr.Stephen Wolfson, 'Next's' chief executive, reported the worst trading figures for seven years and admitted the company was struggling to get stock onto the shelves quickly enough. Stock rotation is now being halved to six weeks, but brands like 'Zara' bring new lines onto their shelves every two to three weeks. In contrast, shoppers' paradise 'H&M' has wowed fashionistas with its new collection designed by Ms.Stella Mccartney, which was launched a week ago. Staff at 'H&M' on Princes Street, Edinburgh, and in Glasgow's Buchanan Galleries reported that certain stock sold out within hours of opening. Prices in the range start at 24.99_GBP. Mr.Nick Bubb, a retail analyst at 'Evolution Beeson Gregory', said:
'I think "Gap's" major problem is one of price positioning.
'To maintain their value they need to make the first price the right price and not just slash prices in 25 per cent sales.
'The figures released are "pretty grisly".' '"Next's" stock is pretty dull and "French Connection" has delusions of grandeur that it is on a par with brands like "Diesel", when in fact it is closer to "Top Shop".'
Mr.Stephen Sunnucks, the former 'New Look' boss, was made president of 'Gap Europe' in 2005-04 in a move designed to show 're-inforced commitment' to the European market. France is 'Gap's' only other market in Europe and there are around 34 stores across the Channel, while the overseas portfolio also includes shops in Japan. The first 'Gap' shop outside the USA was founded in London in 1987 and now outlets stretch from Brighton to Inverness. The first Scottish 'Gap' came to Edinburgh in 1995. 'Gap' cannot afford to be complacent, as one of its main competitors in the USA, 'Abercrombie & Fitch', plans to expand into the European market with 20 stores, including one in London, to be opened by 2007. 'A&F' also trades heavily on the all-American image, but at lower prices and with a younger, edgier customer base. Its third quarter results were hailed a success, with net sale increases of 35 per cent in the USA. ' 'Why fashion giant Gap has suddenly gone out of style, Laura Roberts, The Scotsman, 2005-11-19, Sa

Money & Stats: Gates Toppled by Moore Charity Surprise

Bill and Melinda Gates have been toppled from their role as king and queen of charitable giving, their crowns stolen by a fellow computer giant family, according to a new list of America's top 50 philanthropists. The founder of the software firm 'Microsoft' and his wife, who had glowed in the Nr. 1 spot of 'BusinessWeek Magazine's' annual list since it began, have been overtaken by Mr.Gordon Moore, founder of the 'Intel Corporation'... He and his wife donated or pledged 4_110_million_GBP over the past five years to conservation causes and scientific research. 'Gordon Moore and his wife Betty, have achieved the unthinkable, unseating Bill and Melinda Gates,' said 'BusinessWeek'. The Moores' total donations from 2001 to 2005 trumped those of Mr & Ms Gates by just over 875_million_GBP. In terms of lifetime giving, however, the Microsoft couple, champions of AIDS and malaria causes, are still on top, having paid out nearly 16_300_million_GBP, which is three times greater than the Moores -- and more than the rest of the top ten tycoons put together. In third place on the five-year list is the investment tycoon Mr.Warren Buffett, who gave away about half the amount of Mr.Gates, closely followed by Mr.George Soros, also a millionaire investor. Other philanthropic heavyweights include Ms.Veronica Atkins, the widow of Dr.Robert Atkins, who earned a fat fortune by making followers of his slimming diet thinner. Their money goes mainly into the eradication of obesity and diabetes, while Mr.Thomas Monagahan, founder of 'Domino's Pizza', puts much of his cash into Roman Christian education. Of the top ten, two have given away more than they are now worth: over the years, the Moores have donated more than one and a half times their current fortune, while Mr.James Stowers, the founder of the investment group 'American Century', has written charity cheques totalling 699_million_GBP in the last five years, keeping just 417_million_GBP for himself. The Gates's donations represent 55 per cent of what they now own, while Mr.Soros has pocketed just a quarter of his financial holdings and sent the rest to charity. Others may not appear to have been as 'big-hearted'. The Walton family, which owns the cut-price retail empire, 'Wal-Mart' -- the owner of 'ASDA' and the world's largest company in terms of revenue -- has given away 641_million_GBP since 2001. That represents just 2 per cent of its current personal net worth of 47_800_million_GBP. Mr.Michael Dell, founder of the 'Dell computer company', who is ninth on the list, has given away only 7 per cent of his 10_400_million_GBP wealth. But observers point out that the list covers only personal donations and that the companies give corporately too. 'Wal-Mart' Stores, for example, tops the list of most generous corporate givers. Also, many of business leaders spread their giving over a more prolonged period, meaning that the five-year tally may appear low, while some give away less of their fortunes now so they have more to leave to charities -- of which there are more than a million in the United States of America -- when they die. Ms.Stacy Palmer, editor of 'The Chronicle of Philanthropy', said:
'The Gates's, for example, put money into their charitable foundation even if it isn't necessarily going to be given out right away.'
Among the newcomers, is USA-born Sir.John Marks Templeton, a naturalised British citizen, who vaulted on to the list at Nr.11 with a gift of 320_million_GBP -- 'the most dramatic move by any individual donor', 'BusinessWeek Magazine' notes. Despite earning a multi-billion dollar fortune from his investment career, the 92-year-old drives himself to work in a 'Ford Kia' car and does all his own photocopying. His money is targeted at efforts to prove that science and religion can co-exist.
'What I'm financing is humility,' he said. 'I want people to realise that you shouldn't think you know it all.'
Scot who believed in giving it all away The world's highest-spending philanthropist, Mr.Andrew Carnegie, was born in Dunfermline in 1835. Mr.Carnegie, whose family moved to North America in 1848, rose from working in a cotton mill to become the second-richest person in the world. But convinced that the rich had a duty to help others, he decided to give his money away. By the time he died in 1919, he had given away 350_million_USD of his 480_million_USD accumulated wealth, worth around 40_000_million_USD today.
'Intel founder takes over as world's biggest benefactor', Jacqui Goddard, The Scotsman, 2005-11-19, Sa

Money: UK State Benefits Red Tape Shambles

Britain's benefits system is beset by fraud and error because of its own over-complicated rules and regulation, an independent 'watchdog' has found. In all, the erroneous payments come to 2_600_million_GBP out of a total benefits bill of 109_000_million_GBP. The revelations from 'The National Audit Office' ('The NAO') threaten to undermine government pledges to crack down on benefits cheats and streamline the social security system. 'The NAO' report comes after the government was forced to postpone a long-promised paper on welfare reform until next year. Mr.John Hutton, the new 'Work and Pensions Secretary', is the fourth person to hold the post in a year, and was appointed two weeks ago after Mr.David Blunkett resigned. Shortly before he quit, Mr.Blunkett described the benefits system as 'crackers'. 'The NAO' investigators echo that conclusion, albeit in less blunt terms.
'The effects of complexity can be seen in many ways,' 'The NAO' found. 'For example, it can be associated with errors in benefit payments, due to staff and customer mistakes. 'It can also reduce the ability of staff to explain benefit regulations to customers and makes it hard for some customers to understand what is required of them.'
While 'The NAO' acknowledged the government has made 'some' progress on reforming the system, Sir.John Bourn, the auditor-general, yesterday made clear ministers still have a long way to go.
'There is a balance to be struck between a system which is detailed enough to respond to needs and yet straightforward enough to be run efficiently, communicating clearly with customers and minimising error. 'This balance has not yet been reached,' he said.
Mr.James Plaskitt, a junior minister at 'The Department of Work and Pensions', yesterday, 2005-11-18 accepted the criticisms, but insisted the situation was improving.
'The complication in the system does contribute to errors,' he said. 'Mistakes can be made both by people applying for the benefits and by our staff administering the benefits. 'Now we are putting new systems in place to make it much easier to get the benefit assessment right in the first place and to give support to the system so that the benefits stay correct throughout their operation.'
The suggestion that over-complex rules are causing misadministration is not a confined to the benefits system. Independent 'watchdogs' and MPs alike have frequently made the same charge against the disaster-prone tax credits system, which is overseen by 'HM Customs and Revenue'. Government critics are clear about who bears ultimate responsibility for these problems: Mr.Gordon Brown. The Chancellor, it is said, imposes restrictive rules on the tax and benefits systems in order to maintain tight Treasury control over all spending. Mr.David Willetts, a Conservative front-bencher, yesterday accused The Chancellor of trying to dictate how much every single benefits claimant receives, 'down to the last 50p or pound'. The result, Mr.Willetts said, is that the benefits system is
'collapsing under the weight of its own complexity with people getting money they are not entitled to and others not getting help when they need it'.
Mr.David Laws, the Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman, also said the difficulties of the benefits system were merely part of a wider problem.
'Welfare reform is turning out to be one of the great disaster zones of Labour's third term,' Mr.Laws said. 'The figures would be even worse if tax credit fraud was added in.'
'Watchdog slams benefits system', James Kirkup, The Scotsman, 2005-11-19, Sa

Billy Connolly Statue for Clyde Tunnel?

Motorists are being asked whether they would like to see a statue of comedian Mr.Billy Connolly at the mouth of Glasgow's 'Clyde Tunnel'. 'The Big Yin' is one of four options being suggested for the Partick exit by the 'Hold Your Breath' organisation, which is holding a vote on its website. The not-for-profit organisation also wants people to choose their favourite colour for lighting up the tunnels. It will test out a range of options starting at dusk on 2005-11-21, Monday. A different colour will be used at the south of the structure on each of the next seven days, and the results can also be viewed on the 'Hold Your Breath' website. The organisation was formed after Partick resident Ms.Kathy Friend decided to try and do something about the 'grim' look of the tunnels, which are used by 65_000 vehicles/day. It took its name from the tradition followed by Glasgow children, who try to hold their breath as they pass under the Clyde. Its first on-line questionnaire -- asking people what they wanted to hear and smell as they pass through the tunnels -- was completed by 3_000 people.
'The whole point from the beginning has been to have something permanent,' said Ms.Friend. 'We have been looking at some designs for lighting but we thought it would be quite good to test things out and let the public see what they think.'
The colours will be on display for a few hours at dusk and dawn, and will be changed at noon each day. Once the responses have been collated the 'Hold Your Breath' design team will come up with proposals for Glasgow City. If the City gives its backing the aim is to have the tunnel lit up by 2006-10 to coincide with 'The Diwali Festival of Light'.
'We would like to close one tunnel to traffic and hold a music event in the middle of that tunnel,' said Ms.Friend. 'After this the whole tunnel lighting installation would be switched on so that the audience see it as they come out of the tunnel.'
This year's consultation event co-incides with 'Radiance', Glasgow's first major festival of light, which runs from 2005-11-25/27. In addition to the lighting scheme, there are also plans to create a sculpture at the west end of the tunnel. 'Hold Your Breath' has put four options on its website, including former Clyde shipyard worker Mr.Connolly -- who used to live in Partick. The other options are an abstract figure representing the river; a tunnel miner, to mark the achievement of those who worked to build the structure; and one which would honour the role of 'real women' in Glasgow's history, dubbed 'Red Skirts on Clydeside'. Facts
  • 'The Clyde Tunnels' are the length of seven football pitches
  • They cost 10.5_million_GBP to build
  • Work started in 1957-07
  • The construction involved a tunnel shield invented 139 years earlier by Mr.Marc Brunel
  • The first tunnel opened in 1963-07, the second in 1964-03
  • The tunnels are used by 65_000 vehicles every day
  • They is 6.3_m below the surface of the river.
'A Big Yin option for tunnel statue', BBC News, 2005/11/19 18:15:16 GMT

Stats: 'Sexiest man Alive 2005' Result

So, just who is the sexiest man alive? You'd think that what with Hollywood being full of hotties, it would be a difficult decision for 'People Magazine' to make...But no... to them the fairest man of them all is Mr.Matthew Mcconaughey. Matthew McconaugheyLong have we thought that the 'Sahara' star is a 'bit of a stud'... but sexier than Brad, sexier than George or hunkier than Orlando or Johnny? According to 'People Magazine's' spokesman Ms.Julie Jordan, there was no one else:
'He's pretty much the perfect package.'
And we're sure his girlfriend Ms.Penelope Cruz is in agreement -- although it's not new for her; her 'ex' -- Mr.Tom. Cruise -- was also voted 'Sexiest Man Alive'... back in 1990. The other contenders in the running for this year's title include Mr.Jake Gyllenhaal, Mr.Owen Wilson, Mr.Patrick Dempsey and Mr.Antonio Banderas.
Jake Gyllenhaal Owen Wilson
Patrick Dempsey Antonio Banderas
And then there are the usual blokes such as Brad, George and Orlando. Last year's winner was Mr.Jude Law -- but Mr.Brad. Pitt is the only star to be given the title twice, once in 1995 and then again in 2000. 'Who's The Sexiest Man Alive?', Yahoo! Entertainment News, 2005-11-18

Intolerance: 'Madonna' Stole Song

A Belgian songwriter has won a court battle against pop star 'Madonna' after accusing her of plagiarising one of his songs for her 1998 hit single, 'Frozen', his lawyer said on 2005-11-18, Friday. Mr.Salvatore Acquaviva's lawyer said a court in the southern Belgian town of Mons had ordered the country's music stores to withdraw the record from their shelves within the next 15 days. The court also ordered radio and television stations to stop playing the song, he said.
'(They) cannot broadcast the work "Frozen" ... under pain of a 150_000_EUR fine,' he told the local radio network, RTBF.
It was not immediately clear if damages were awarded to Mr.Acquaviva. The single comes from 'Madonna's' 'Ray of Light' album of the same year. 'Madonna loses plagiarism case', Reuters/Yahoo!, 2005-11-18

2005-11-18

Intolerance: Waitress's 1st Novel Up for Prize

Article by Emine Saner: I meet Ms.Rachel Zadok in a café in London's Herne Hill. She knows the staff -- until recently she worked as a waitress in the café's sister restaurant nearby. For four years she spent her evenings serving up the likes of risotto and goat's cheese salad to locals, leaving her days free to write her first book... In the south London flat she shared with her husband, a physician, the South African-born writer crafted a haunting story of 'Faith', a child whose parents' marriage breaks up and whose mother descends into mental illness, all set against the backdrop of 'apartheid'. The book, entitled 'Gem Squash Tokoloshe' , has been shortlisted for 'The Whitbread first novel award'. The prize, worth 5_000_GBP and guaranteed to bring big book sales, will be announced at the beginning of 2006-01.
'I'm astounded,' she says in her quiet South African accent. 'I just want to try and forget about it for now otherwise I think I'll go a bit mad.'
It's been an amazing year for Ms.Zadok, whose first book also landed her a publishing deal worth 20_000_GBP after being a runner-up in 'Channel 4'' 'Richard & Judy' creative writing competition, which more than 46_000 aspiring novelists entered. Ms.Zadok had come to London from South Africa four years ago when her husband was offered a job in a London hospital. Originally a graphic designer in Johannesburg, she arrived in the capital with a desire to write a novel, and it was a bout of writer's block that led her to enter it into the television competition.
'I was having a really bad day,' she says. 'I had a rule that I wasn't allowed to watch the television during the day, but I wasn't getting anywhere, so I thought I'd put it on. 'It was 'Richard & Judy' and they were announcing their creative writing competition. 'It seemed like fate, so I had to enter.'
In the novel, 'Faith' is plagued by fairy stories and frightened of 'The Tokoloshe', a mischievous and sometimes evil dwarf-like spirit, an integral part of South Africa's folklore. A sense of menace creeps across every page and there's a darkness in it that seems incongruous with the slight, pretty 33-year-old woman with glossy brown hair and a ready smile sitting opposite me. All her childhood, Ms.Zadok never realised how wrong it was that there were no black children at her school and, apart from the maids and gardeners, no black people in her middle-class white suburb of Kensington in Johannesburg. Blissful afternoons were spent searching for chameleons and scorpions in the garden. Ms.Zadok and her older brother were brought up by her mother after their parents separated. Her mother worked as an advertising executive, so her children were looked after by a nanny, Gladys.
'We weren't rich, but we were well-off, just by dint of being white,' she says.
Ms.Zadok's mother did have friends who were black, but when they came to visit, they were always ushered into their house quickly (if caught, she could have been arrested just for having black people in her house who weren't her employees).
'My mother was very liberal, but she didn't tell us what was going on in the country -- we were sheltered that way.'
Instead, the chaotic and divided country confused her.
'I remember going to the shop with my nanny and it was pouring with rain. 'She stopped the bus but they wouldn't let me on because it was for black people only, so we had to walk. 'I didn't understand why I couldn't go on the bus. 'I remember whites-only lavatories and whites-only benches in parks. It was completely mad. But that's what I thought the world was, nobody said to me that this was wrong. 'As far as I was concerned, black people sat on those benches and we sat on these benches. 'I didn't equate it with inequality because I didn't see how black people were forced to live.'
As a child, Ms.Zadok never saw the townships; the closest she came was when the family drove through poor rural areas to get to their grandparents' holiday home on the south coast. She remembers throwing sweets to small, ragged children with hunger-bloated bellies who waved from the side of the road.
'At the time I thought it was a nice thing to do, I didn't think about how poor they were. 'Now I think it was a horrid thing, to throw sweets at children from a car window.'
Her nanny, Gladys, never talked about 'apartheid' either.
'Instead, she taught us Zulu customs and we grew up eating the food she made us -- traditional maize porridge.'
Then, when Ms.Zadok was 12, something happened that changed the way she saw her country. Every day for three days she stepped off her whites-only school bus and over the body of a black woman, the victim of a hit-and-run.
'She was lying in the street and her arms and legs were splayed out as if she had been running,' says Ms.Zadok. 'For three days she lay there in the hot sun and nobody had bothered to do anything about her except place a newspaper over her face. 'She was wearing a maid's uniform and I was deeply shocked. 'I thought: "Don't they miss her?" 'I told my mum and she called the police. 'I stood in the doorway listening to her conversation, and when she finished I heard her muttering to herself that "she never would have been left there if she was white". 'It was an awakening, for the first time I looked around and realised there was something very wrong here. It was chilling.'
She didn't become political, instead she became a rebellious teenager.
'I didn't know how to be political but I had all this anger. I was so angry at society and I thought: "Stuff you for trying to make me into this person who lives in this society."'
She dyed her hair black, skipped school and hitch-hiked to nightclubs. She drank and would disappear from home.
'I was lucky that I didn't come from a racist family and I had quite opposite views to many of my friends.
'I remember I was at my friend's house and her boyfriend was talking about going kaffir-bashing, using one of the most derogatory words for a black person. 'I said: "How can you do that? What kind of people are you?", and they were really angry. They spat in my face, pushed me around and shouted at me to get out of their house. 'These were teenagers and this was somehow even more shocking -- that race hatred they had even though they were only 15 or 16.'
By the time 'apartheid' had ended, she was studying' fine art' and living in Yeovil, one of Johannesburg's first mixed areas, with a friend.
'There was an amazing atmosphere in the country,' she says. 'But the legacy was everywhere. A black woman rented a room upstairs from our flat. She told me when she was six she got sent to work in the kitchen of a farm, and was treated horrifically; she was beaten, shouted at, even though she was a young child. 'I really can't understand white South Africans who think it was better during "apartheid". 'The whole culture in South Africa was to make black people feel subservient. They were educated into feeling they were less than white people. 'South Africa was very stifled, there was so much censorship. 'You couldn't speak out because you'd be arrested, and people were scared. 'We only got television in the 1970s. People who have read my book say it sounds like it was set in the 1950s, not the 1980s, but that's what South Africa was like then.'
She is still shocked by racist white South Africans -- many of them, she says, have settled in London.
'I'm not saying every South African here is racist but, unfortunately, I've met quite a lot. 'They seem to assume that because I'm here, I share their racist views. 'I remember going to get my passport renewed at the South Africa High Commission, and the guy in front of me in the queue turned around and started complaining about how slow the black staff behind the counter were. I was deeply shocked. 'One of the things I love most about London is that it is so multicultural, but when I left South Africa, the country had changed so much that it wasn't a huge surprise to me to see people of all races mixing.'
She wants to go back to South Africa to live but she is planning to travel for a while first.
'If I do make money from writing, I would like to return to South Africa and start up some sort of project for HIV/AIDS orphans.'
In the meantime, she has just finished the first chapter of her next novel, again set in South Africa, but much more up-to-date.
'I felt I needed to get all my "apartheid" anger out,' she says. 'And I think I've done it.'
WHITBREAD FIRST NOVEL SHORTLIST The Harmony Silk Factory -- Tash Aw 26a -- Diana Evans The Short Day Dying -- Peter Hobbs 'Gem Squash Tokoloshe' -- Rachel Zadok 'From risotto to riches for Richard & Judy author', Emine Saner, The Scotsman, 2005-11-18, Fr

2005-11-17

Intolerance: The Sony BMG rootkit fallout

Call it the revenge of the nerds -- digital style... For years, computer geeks and cyberlibertarians have howled about aggressive user restrictions programmed into music CDs, movie DVDs, and all kinds of software. They've issued dire warnings about the media industry's zeal to protect content in the Digital Age. At risk, they cautioned, was the consumer's right to enjoy legally purchased content how and where they saw fit. The clamor dogged the content industry but never did much serious damage. 'Hollywood', 'Silicon Valley', and recording studios maintained the upper hand, introducing legislation in the Congress of the USA that made it easier to go after on-line thieves, and winning thousands of lawsuits against people who illegally download music and movies from on-line file-swapping networks such as 'KaZaA' and 'Limewire'. All the while, content creators were rolling out creative ways to limit what consumers could do with their tunes, movies, software, and even ring tones without sacrificing too much in the way of public trust. INFECTION-READY. Now the tide might be turning, thanks to a classic case of overreaching that has fomented a backlash against the industry. On 2005-10-31, blogger Mr.Mark Russinovich discovered a hidden program installed on his PC by a 'Sony BMG' music disk. The code was designed to prevent purchasers of the CD from copying it or converting it. But the program was disturbing for another reason -- in an apparent effort to prevent garden-variety hackers from circumventing the copy restrictions, 'Sony' designed the program to surreptitiously bury itself deep within the 'Windows' operating system, completely hidden from view. Before long, software engineers were warning that the code -- known derisively in techie parlance as a 'rootkit' -- could easily be co-opted by virus writers. The warning was all but an invitation, and soon enough the viruses began circulating. Cyberlibertarians accused 'Sony' of violating state and federal spyware laws, class actions were filed, and the issue exploded into the mainstream press. Then, Mr.Stewart Baker, an Assistant Secretary at the Homeland Security Dept., picked up the ball and ran with it. On 2005-11-10, he gave 'Sony' a public finger-wagging for undermining computer security measures: 'It's very important to remember that it's your intellectual property -- it's not your computer' he said. 'TURNING POINT.' 'Microsoft' declared the code a security risk to PCs running on 'Windows', and security companies such as 'Symantec' began alerting PC users to its presence. On 2005-11-15 'Sony' said it would recall some 4.7 million music CDs, 2.1 million of which have already been sold to consumers. 'It's a turning point,' says Mr.Fred von Lohmann, senior attorney at 'The Electronic Frontier Foundation', a group devoted to defending consumer rights in the Digital Age.
'Millions of people are going to suddenly realise that, thanks to "Sony's" copy protection, they have to worry about viruses and security breaches and intrusions into their computers. 'This scandal is going to raise the profile of the copyright debate.'
That's true partly because Mr.von Lohmann and other cyberspace freedom lovers are using 'Sony's' woes to their advantage. After years of predicting that the sky would fall, geekdom intends to make hay of the 'rootkit' fiasco. In theory, 'Sony' could be liable for breaking any number of laws. A class-action complaint filed 2005-11-01 in Los Angeles Superior Court accuses it of failing to disclose the true nature of the so-called digital rights management [DRM] system on its CDs and alleges that thousands of computer users have unknowingly infected their computers. DIFFICULT BALANCE. Mr.Von Lohmann says 'Sony' theoretically could be liable for breaking several California consumer-protection laws, including 'The Consumer Legal Remedies Act', as well as federal statutes such as 'The Computer Fraud & Abuse Act', which prohibits anyone from accessing a computer without authorisation.
'We do feel a little vindication,' Mr.von Lohmann says. 'I don't think anybody is celebrating the fact that "Sony" has created what could be a global Internet security problem, but we can say "we told you so".'
The firestorm highlights a delicate balancing act that the intellectual-property industry has yet to perfect. DRM schemes are pervasive in the modern world. Many are relatively benign, such as the system used by 'Apple's' 'iTunes', which limits how many times a user can copy a particular set of songs. LICENSE RESTRICTIONS. Other controls are less obvious to consumers but far more restrictive, such as the end-user license agreement, also known as a 'click-wrap' license, which is incorporated into nearly every software program and now is appearing on music and movie disks. The license concept has converted the old-fashioned retail purchase into a complex contract arrangement that forces users to agree to onerous restrictions before they can use whatever they've already paid for. The license incorporated into 'Sony BMG's' compact disks, for example, prohibits users from loading their purchased tunes onto their work computer and bans them from taking music loaded onto their home PCs out of the country. And woe to audiophiles who sell, trade, give away, or lose their disks. If they no longer posses the original CD, 'Sony BMG's' license requires them to delete the music they've loaded onto their computers. Content-industry execs continue to press the economic importance of protecting intellectual property, the nation's biggest export. The explosion of Internet users, combined with expanding broadband networks and technologies such as 'peer-to-peer' file-swapping networks and digital music players, have conspired to make music, software, movies, and other digital content exceedingly easy to steal, copy, and distribute. READY TO EXPLODE. Market-research firms report that some 30 per cent of consumers have 'ripped' and 'burned' music tracks from friends.
'While reasonable people can debate how far digital-rights management can go, it's absolutely clear that it's one part of a larger strategy to fight theft,' says Mr.David Israelite, president and CEO of the National Music Publishers 'Assn'.
But some industry execs. admit privately that the 'Sony' 'rootkit' brouhaha has shown that there are some lines that content creators simply can't cross. The industry learned a similar lesson in 2003, when Senator Mr.Orrin Hatch [R-Utah], then-chairman of 'The Senate Judiciary Committee', wondered aloud whether the tech trade could build a computer that would explode if it was used to illegally download music tracks. Destroying computers, Mr.Hatch said, 'may be the only way you can teach someone about copyright.' That idea certainly didn't get very far, and 'Sony's' 'rootkit' debacle isn't the beginning of the end of content protections. But it will go a long way toward setting limits on how far the industry can go in handcuffing honest consumers in its ongoing effort to arrest digital theft. 'Sony's Copyright Overreach', Lorraine Woellert, Yahoo! News 2005-11-17