arachnekallisti: (Default)
So...Marat/Sade was actually rather good. Well-acted, ingeniously-staged, and blisteringly topical, with visual references to the Arab Spring, the UK riots, the surveillance state and Abu Ghraib. As far as I could tell, the script was essentially unchanged, which meant that all the references to bankers, class warfare and ill-advised military adventurism were actually there in the 1960s version, merely updated with contemporary references (I have ordered a copy of the script off Amazon and found the 1967 version on YouTube - I intend to do a proper comparison later).

The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as performed by the inmates of the asylum of Charenton under the direction of the Marquis de Sade (just to show I do actually know the full title) is an incredibly self-aware, meta piece, a play within a play in which the audience on stage and the audience in the seats are both part of the spectacle. It's an extended dialogue between idealist and cynic, between Marat's faith in the revolution and de Sade's nihilistic individualism. Both of them are given their chance to speak their piece, and make their case as convincingly as possible, then savagely cut down. Marat's revolution becomes a pointless bloodbath that never makes a difference to the poor, and Sade's pursuit of passion degenerates into a Bacchanalian frenzy (the single most viscerally horrible part of the play, actually). And in case you thought reason and moderation might yield some kind of middle way that might lead you out of the mess, the Director of the asylum turns out to be every bit as corrupt as anyone else. In the end, the play turns to the audience, shrugs, and asks "Well, have you got a better idea?"

It was stunning. It was horrible. In case you're planning on Googling it, it should probably come with every trigger warning under the sun.
arachnekallisti: (Default)
The ATOS work capability assessments, as they exist, are unfit for purpose. Even one of the people who designed them thinks so. They're particularly badly designed for taking into account invisible disabilities and variable conditions; the idea appears to be that if you can get dressed and drag yourself into the interview, then you should have no problem holding down a job.

Warning: contains discussion of depression and suicide )

Sue Marsh at Diary of a Benefit Scrounger summarises the problems with the welfare reforms here. Please write to your MP and let's hope we can get this stopped before it ruins more people's lives.
arachnekallisti: (President Romana)
So, we lost Evan Harris (and how the bloody hell did that happen?), and the Lib Dems have inexplicably done an awful lot worse than expected. Buggeration.

On the positive side, it's a hung parliament rather than a clear win for Cameron, we gained Caroline Lucas, at least there aren't any UKIP or BNP MPs, and Nick Griffin got his arse kicked in Barking.

There's apparently negotiations happening over the weekend for a Lib/Con coalition, which is not something that looks remotely stable or viable to me. There's still some hope for a Lib/Lab majority government, although they'd need to win over a lot of the minor parties to have a hope of getting anything through.

This is going to be incredibly messy.
arachnekallisti: (Default)
The Digital Economy Bill got released yesterday (full text here), and it's not looking good. They've still got the "three strikes" disconnection policy, based on allegations by copyright holders rather than actual criminal proceedings, and there's also provisions for new measures and executive bodies to be created on the fly by the secretary of state. Because there's no way that can go wrong.

Anyway, if you want to get informed:
1. Cory Doctorow takes this about as well as you'd expect him to.
2. CNET are also not keen.
3. The Guardian points out how this legislation could be misused if, say, future governments want to suck up to Rupert Murdoch a bit more.
4. Apparently Mandelson is deeply worried that people are using cloud storage to distribute pirated materials, and so wants to remove the right to keep uploaded files private.

If this is doing to your blood pressure what it did to mine, you may want to
1. Send a strongly worded letter to your MP, if you have one.
2. Get involved with the Open Rights Group, and sign their photo petition.
3. Sign TalkTalk's anti-disconnection petition.
4. Join any of these Facebook groups: I won't vote for any MP who supports Mandelson's Digital Economy Bill, A fair say on copyright reform, or Don't Disconnect Us.
5. The Pirate Party UK are exactly the sort of seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time single issue party I tend to get sniffy about voting for, but they might be a useful place to go for copyright reform resources.

*Note: I don't think that trying to find some way to get creative types compensated for their output is a bloody silly thing**. I think it's entirely reasonable to want to be able to make a living off having good ideas. It's trying to pretend that digital copying is going to be made to go away rather than having to be addressed that's the bloody silly thing.

** By the way, points for spotting the reference.
arachnekallisti: (Default)
There's a new green paper on disability provision in the UK, with its consultation period due to end on 15th November. This includes proposals to cut disability benefits and pass the money freed up on to local authorities, thus meaning that a certain amount of the claimant's money will be spent on whatever they can persuade their social worker they need. They're also discussing introducing means testing for disability-related benefits. Because that isn't going to put extra layers of bureaucracy and potential inefficiency in between diasabled people and the resources they need or anything like that, and it isn't going to compromise their ability to live independently at all. Oh no.

Most of the disability-related charities have come out against this green paper, and are calling for some strongly worded letters to be written to MPs, and some strongly-worded feedback to be left on the consultation website. There's a summary of the campaign here, if you want to get involved.
arachnekallisti: (Default)
There is a petition online to win a posthumous apology from the British Government to Alan Turing for the prosecution for homosexuality which led to his death two years later. There's an article about it here, if anyone's interested.

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