Offshore castaways

This blog often comments on big stories stories after the news cycle has moved on to the next big headline. You may say that is because I’m slow to react to events, but I’d like to think it’s because I have been ruminating on the major happenings and the meaning behind them. What’s more, I might even be valiantly striking back against short attention spans, and giving issues the extra consideration that should be accorded to them. That’s what I tell myself, anyway. And so to the Panama Papers, and the inadequacy of how they have been covered. Watching the travails of David Cameron over recent weeks is to be reminded of how the British media is most comfortable discussing the careers of middle aged men. The vast conspiracy of the super rich against the rest of us, which the Mossack Fonseca leak probably no more than hints at, seemed for most news sources of secondary interest to the personal financial arrangements of the Prime Minister.Read More »

Remembering another pop polymath

Comparisons with David Bowie were inevitable following the passing of Prince on Thursday, the similarities not merely outweighing the differences, but also revealing of how singular they both were as artistic figures in popular culture. Much of the comment has emphasised how they not merely projected new forms of masculinity, but were demonstrating these extravagant, ambiguous expressions of identity when it was a lot riskier to do so than it is today. In their own ways, they were the most eloquent and persuasive advertisements for abandoning the inhibitions of convention. We can recognise crassness of exhibitionism for its own sake when we see it, something even very established stars can be prone to. That is why admiration is always due to those who are not merely autonomous enough to make their own rules, but to do so in a way that serves an artistic purpose.Read More »

A different kind of show trial

Tonight is the final instalment on British television of The People vs O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story, the FX production dramatising last century’s “trial of the century”. I actually don’t know the legal situation pertaining to a blogger opining on murder trials, but to be on the safe side, I’ll resist sharing with you my thoughts and theories. They aren’t particularly interesting, anyway. However, while I won’t offer an opinion on the verdict, I have a few other thoughts about the trial, what it suggests about the nature of American justice, and what it also reveals about the wider society.Read More »

Lord give me a strong executive, but not yet

Those of you who have been watching the mostly excellent documentary on Barack Obama’s administration these past few weeks will have noted the scorched earth opposition the president has faced in trying to advance his domestic agenda. Admittedly it concentrates on presenting the views of the administration, but it is not intended to be an impartial, disinterested appraisal. And having followed the challenges faced by Obama during his time in office, and the determination of the Republican opposition to prevent him from actually governing at all, I can confidently aver that this documentary is not a hagiography.Read More »

Curating the Cuban transition

During his recent visit to Cuba, President Barack Obama drew criticism in some quarters for attending a baseball game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team in the immediate aftermath recent terrorist attacks in Brussels. Another case of those claiming to be serious about combating terrorism agitating to deliver the terrorists’ desired response. By now it should be clear to anybody that terrorist outrages are not so much about the carnage inflicted in murderous acts, but what they are designed to provoke. Namely that targeted countries will abandon their professed principles, sacrifice civil liberties and persecute religious minorities, thereby upholding the Wahhabist rhetoric that Islamist terrorism draws on.Read More »