United States

We’ve Seen This Movie Before

Roger Ebert on the recent shootings in Aurora, Colorado:

This would be an excellent time for our political parties to join together in calling for restrictions on the sale and possession of deadly weapons. That is unlikely, because the issue has become so closely linked to paranoid fantasies about a federal takeover of personal liberties that many politicians feel they cannot afford to advocate gun control.

Lobbyists, Guns and Money

Paul Krugman:

We seem to be turning into a country where crony capitalism doesn’t just waste taxpayer money but warps criminal justice, in which growing incarceration reflects not the need to protect law-abiding citizens but the profits corporations can reap from a larger prison population.

Scary yet unsurprising story about how organisations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are not only supporting, but writing wholesale legislation to benefit their corporate benefactors.

Of course, if it’s happening in the US, it’s happening here in Britain too. Indeed, I was reminded of this fascinating article by Adam Curtis, which charts the rise of the political ‘think tank’:

If you go back and look at how they rose up – at who invented them and why – you discover they are not quite what they seem. That in reality they may have nothing to do with genuinely developing new ideas, but have become a branch of the PR industry whose aim is to do the very opposite – to endlessly prop up and reinforce today’s accepted political wisdom.

Our political leaders are no longer interested in the concerns of the electorate and increasingly led by lobbyists – regardless of what destruction (societal, economic, environmental…) may result from their policy suggestions.

It surely can’t carry on like this, can it?

On The Road Again

On The Road Again

Once again, I’m in Austin for SXSW Interactive; the forth time I’ve attended an event I find easy to disparage. Yet this is the first stop on a trip that will take in several hundred miles of Interstate highway between here and San Francisco; two points of familiarity on an itinerary that promises to be anything but predictable.

San Francisco: There and Back Again

San Francisco: There and Back Again

For the final leg of my North American tour I transcended the West Coast on Amtrak’s Coast Starlight. Getting to San Francisco wouldn’t be much fun, boarding a coach in Vancouver at a ridiculous hour in the morning and dealing with an offensive US border guard before arriving at a closed King Street station in Seattle sounding its fire alarm.

Back in the District

Back in the District

My North American adventure started in Washington DC; ostensibly so I could attend an edition of this year’s An Event Apart conference. Yet it was also a good excuse to catch up with Shannon, who graciously planned a tour of the city for me and Andy.

Continuing Adventures in America

Having tried so diligently last year to reduce the amount of flying I do, I hoped to keep this year’s long-haul flights to one. With an important part of my family now settled in São Paulo, and some of my best friends based in San Francisco, maybe such lofty goals are foolhardy. Before I write about my most recent travels, I address the hypocrisy in taking such a trip.

My LA Ex

My LA Ex

I hoped that almost missing my flight would be the worst my trip to New Zealand would have to offer, but thanks to overzealous immigration officials at LAX, that was nothing but a minor blip.

SFO/LHR

Today was largely taken up by a flight back to London from San Francisco, where I spent the last ten days.

That’s Not My Name!

As I approach the end of my latest trip to America, I continue to fight the losing battle that is getting people to understand me when I say my first name.

Obama, America & Me

Obama, America & Me

Growing up, my brother was always the one in our family more interested in American culture. Whilst he followed the NBA and listened to Public Enemy, Wu-Tang Clan and Eminem, I stood to the National Anthem and worried about Britain’s growing closeness to Europe. America was of little importance to me.

Chicago: A City Apart

Chicago: A City Apart

I briefly encountered Chicago in March, relaxing there for two nights after three long days aboard the California Zephyr. At that time it was a snow covered, cold and blustery city, but I saw enough to want to come back.

Seattle: Finding Gems in the Emerald City

Seattle: Finding Gems in the Emerald City

The first stop in my four city tour of America was Seattle in the north-western state of Washington. Probably best known for it’s iconic Space Needle, it’s perhaps no surprise that I spent most of my time fixated on this slender looking tower.

Riding the California Zephyr

Riding the California Zephyr

The California Zephyr is a 56 hour, 2348 mile long train journey that starts in Emeryville, California. After speeding across the deserts of Nevada and Utah, it climbs over the Rocky Mountains, tunnels under the Continental Divide before heading towards its final destination of Chicago’s Grand Union Station.