Happ Birthday Louise Brown
It seems almost weird to mention it these days -- because the event has become routine, natural -- but Louise Brown was global headline news back in 1978 when she became the first "test-tube" baby born.
In my lifetime, I'm guessing that this, organ transplants, and the PIll were among the great advances of medicine.
Work, Ishiguro and Sumo
So, I haven't been posting much. Work has been fun AND thought-consuming lately -- that's the main reason. I've also been taking my time re-reading all the novels of Kazuo Ishiguro (three to go) and watching sumo. For the later, I have also just started a new blog -- Sumo In English -- at http://jakking.typepad.com/sumoinenglish.
Now that I have a couple of week's vacation, perhaps I'll keep posting in both!
The Wrong Medium and The Wrong Message
I've watched and listened to as little of Live8 as a general scanning of the media allowed. I just can't bring myself to associate with this event in even such a peripheral way as listening on the radio.
From the very beginning I have been an extreme sceptic of the whole affair. The entire event has much more to do with flagging careers and strategic music biz PR than it has with poverty. It is no coincidence that Live8 is arranged just at a time when the music industry's reputation is in the gutter, with stupid legal cases against ordinary music downloaders scarring the marketplace.
Don't get me wrong, there is no doubt some genuine goodwill behind some of the artists involved, Geldorf included no doubt. But the managers and record labels and global businesses that actually allowed it to happen have nothing but the market in mind. And for the television and radio stations that carried hours and hours of it live and recorded, this is very low-cost high-impact programming.
So, it was a medium created to do most well for the industry that put it on and the other media conglomerates that could feed off it.
And as for the message? First of all, there is a great deal of doubt whether the majority of those attending and listening and watching LIve8 know what the background cause -- poverty -- was supposed to be. And of those few who did know that there was a "cause", most thought that it was fundraiser. Which it was not. My reading of the audience is based on a whole series of interviews that CBC Radio conducted with attendees of Live8 Canada at Barrie, Ontario.
The message was supposed to be -- get your governments involved in helping to solve poverty in Africa. In Canada, people were urged to write to their Member of Parliament and the relevant Ministries. In other words, get the government to help solve African poverty by hijacking my taxes without my consent. This is a stupid pro-big government message, promoting an inefficient and compulsory system.
Better the message should be, put your hands in your pockets and voluntarily support charities and NGOs and assistive agencies in general. If you want to take it a step further, withhold the same amount from your taxes this year. If a few million Canadians decide to do that, the Revenue Department won't lock us all up -- they'll sensibly come to a deal.
My message is: don't do anything to increase the ability of the government to use your money for any purpose without consent; and don't think better of the rapacious music industry just because they staged this grand PR stunt.