by Harry on November 24, 2008

If you had any doubt that we were back in the seventies, the I learned today from the BBC iplayer, that they have resurrected Terry Nation’s apocalyptic series Survivors. Even the leading characters have their original names (though I gather there are major plot differences). Here’s the script for the first episode. Here’s the website, and here’s the blog. The brilliant original is on DVD , and should please any of your older relatives for Christmas. Now, can we have 1990 and Doomwatch back please? (Oh, and I know that the BBC wiped almost all of Doomwatch, bloody vandals, but if they didn’t wipe 1990 it would be nice to have that on DVD too).

Ayers on Fresh Air

by Harry on November 24, 2008

Terry Gross had Bill Ayers on Fresh Air last week. The page is here, or you can cut straight to the show.

As I indicated in my comments on The Company You Keep, I am not pre-disposed to be sympathetic to Weather or its members, being inclined to see the turn to violence in a liberal democracy as not only elitist and self-indulgent, but also reckless about the effects on other people on the left. I am not a pacifist, and understand that sometimes violence is legitimate if there is a prospect of it preventing something much worse; the idea that a campaign of violence by a small group of leftists could have contributed to ending the Vietnam War seems as fantastic to me. My own political formation took place much later (I’m younger even than Obama), but none of my friends who were politically active on the far left in the 60’s and remain active today have a good opinion of Weather, and their views of the matter lead me to suspect that had I been around then my disposition to them would be more actively hostile than it, in fact, is.

But during the campaign I was struck, and rather impressed, by the discipline with which Ayers refrained from taking advantage of the moment for his own ends.

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Goodbye to the G-8

by Henry Farrell on November 24, 2008

“Gideon Rachman”: says what I’ve been thinking.

In fact, I would even argue that the G8 was quite well-placed to see off the upstart G20 – were it not for one thing. Next year it will be presided over by that one-man wrecking crew, Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister of Italy. Berlusconi has a “sense of humour” that makes him a uniquely disastrous chair for international organisations. His presidency of the European Union in 2003 was catastrophic. He caused uproar in the European Parliament by comparing a German politician to a Nazi concentration-camp guard. In an official photo, he made the sign of the cuckold’s horns behind the head of a Spanish minister. He opened a summit designed to discuss the future of Europe by suggesting to his fellow leaders that they discuss women and football instead. Then he turned to the chancellor of Germany, Gerhard Schroeder, and suggested that he should open the discussion since he had been married four times. Amazingly enough, Schroeder did not see the funny side.

Not that any of this is likely to hurt his domestic approval ratings or anything (the public persona he has constructed for himself is quite extraordinary), but it certainly should be interesting to watch from a safe distance.