It might as well be, considering how important this could be for TV making. I know I’m late to the news, but I’ve just seen that the Season 6 finale for House has been shot entirely using a Canon 5DMkII SLR. That’s a £1500 camera, used for one of TV’s most expensive and successful shows. Impressive, and incredibly brave – up until now the show has been shot entirely on 35mm. Apparently the director really likes the narrow depth of field he gets from the SLR compared to film cameras.
Forget briefing notes left in the back of a taxi. I love the fact that our local Liberal Democrat PPC is cavalier enough to leave stuff like this lying around on the internet.
It’s the personal homepage of James Doyle, Freelance IT consultant, ex-mayor of Worthing and now facing off against Tony Benn’s grand-daughter Emily Benn for the non-Conservative vote in East Worthing and Shoreham. It’s an odd constituency, taking everything from hulking council estates and utterly failed schools through an extraordinarly affluent commuter belt and the Lancing school right down to the community of houseboat dwellers on the opposite bank of the river to me.
It’s a fairly safe seat for the Conservatives – the incumbent has been there since it was created in 1997 – but I really hope Doyle can make the most of the LibDem swing and win it. I’ve never been a fan of Magic the Gathering, but I have nothing but respect for a grown man who can be a prominent local politician and have actually coded an app for it. I have no idea what the app does, and it looks enormously dull, but I’m sure it’s important to Magic players.
Plus, he plays Diplomacy. Which I used to love. How does he find the time? And he writes poetry. Which makes me want to quote Douglas Adams. But I won’t because that would be cruel.
I heard back from my friend Gulmira in Bishkek over the weekend. She told me that because of a general news blackout last Wednesday, following the protests in Talas, she and her brother had gone along to Ala-Too square in central Bishkek to find out what was going on – and ended up being shot at and seeing grenades go off beside her. She reckons there were 40,000 people protesting outside parliament, and that the general feeling is that the new government has the people’s trust. Still, after the old one indiscriminately opened fire on you, I guess anything is an improvement.
There’s a lot of stories going around about how Russian TV was stirring up discontent over the last few months, because the Kremlin fell out with the previous regime in Kyrgyzstan over the US airforce base in Manas. It’s been widely reported that the Kyrgyz president, Bakiev, was likened to Genghis Khan for his brutal chicanery and selfish nature. The actual protests, though, were sparked by a huge increase of up to 400% in domestic energy prices. In part, these increases were because Russia increased its wholesale tariffs on power to Kyrgyzstan – which means that Putin’s government would probably struggle to beat Bakiev’s in opinion polls rihgt now.
Even if there was some propoganda as a backdrop, though, it’s not like the Russian media was actually lying. This was, and presumably still is, a country in which corruption is endemic and you have to be able to afford a bribe to see a doctor or get your kids into school. It locks people into a downward spiral of poverty.
I’m hoping to return some time soon to see whether or not the new administration can deliver on the promises of change that it’s made to people.
I don’t know an awful lot about yesterday’s fighting and violence in Kyrgyzstan other than what I’ve seen on the newswires (and the BBC, Guardian and New York Times seem like the best sources of coverage). While I’m shocked and appalled at the number of people dead – estimates up to 100 – and pictures of the police forces firing indiscriminately into the crowds of people protesting outside the government buildings in central Bishkek, I can’t say I’m surprised.
Most reports agree that the trigger for the protests were rising eletricity costs. What they don’t mention is the huge numbers of people even in the capital, Bishkek, who live without power, water and heating during the coldest months of the year, when the temperature drops to -20degrees C. Power-outs in the capital are common, causing enormous problems for local businesses like food stores who need a constant energy supply. The irony is that Kyrgyzstan has abundant hydroelectric potential – and supplies power to neighbouring Uzbekistan – which has been horrendously mismanaged, as this scarily prescient article from last year makes clear.
People’s lives are made worse by the systemic corruption – the picture above was created by slum dwellers as part of an art installation, and it shows a nurse demanding bribes before she’ll offer medicines or treatment. Talking to government ministers last year it seemed as if there was a genuine desire among many in the legislature to do something about the problems, but clearly it’s been too little too late. If anything, I’m more surprised that it’s taken this long for the situation in Kyrgyzstan to lead to bloodshed, given the problems many people there face.
I’m trying to contact friends in the country to find out more about who exactly was involved in the protests, which have resulted in the complete overthrow of the government. I imagine the communications grid is taking some strain, and they’ll be busy doling out medical supplies to those injured yesterday, but I’m hoping they’ll get back to me soon. If nothing else, to confirm they’re safe.
This lunchtime’s flashmob organised by the Open Rights Group in protest against the Digital Economy Bill drew a crowd of about 35-40 people. By far the politest protest I’ve ever seen, they mostly milled around outside the headquarters of UK Music wearing policeman’s hats for an hour, dropped off a mocked up ‘disconnection notice’ and went back to work. Obviously more numbers would have had a greater impact, but I thought it was actually a pretty good turnout, and didn’t deserved the cynical sub who changed the headline and standfirst on my write up for TechRadar after it had been initially published. Not a lot the writer can do about that though.
More impressively, the ORG has managed to raise £20,000 in just a few days to fund an advertising campaign encouraging MPs to stop the Bill being pushed through parliament before the election. People aren’t that apathetic, then.
On my way to the Open Rights Group flashmob in Central London today. I’ve never been to a flashmob before. Should be fun.