Sunday, January 07, 2007

The power of publicity

Toys 'R Us, that magnificent emporium of Chinese-manufactured goods, decided to award a $25,000 baby bond to the American first child born in the US in 2007. It turned out that the child, Yuki Lin, was the child of undocumented Chinese immigrants (restaurant workers since you ask), although she herself is a US citizen, by birthright. Toys 'R Us decided not to award the prize to her, citing small print in the prize specifications. Bad publicity for Toys 'R Us ensued, not least as the result of an email campaign started by members of the powerful US Chinese-American community; this led to a reversal of the decision, or at least a fudge because the company decided to award three prizes instead of one, including Yuki Lin, and two others who arrived at precisely the same time. What happened originally was that the names of the three babies who arrived at the same time were put in a hat, and Yuki Lin's was drawn out. She was then disqualified by reference to the small print, and another child Jayden Swain was given the prize. Now all three will be given bonds. Around 6 out of 10 children born in New York now have parents who are immigrants. A very high proportion of them are likely to be undocumented.

Original story via.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Girl Power

This one is especially for BondWoman! I noticed this article when trawling through Reuter's Oddly Enough this morning. Just what is the world coming to when such bastions of male supremacy are falling under the spell of allowing women in? (Tongue firmly in cheek BW) Well, apparently she has to be called a girl; make me laugh why don't you, all candidates 'must' have at least 22 years army experience, and you can't tell me that a female of the species who has been in the army for 22+ years is a 'girl'. This is someone who has definitely been around the track a few times, and then some...

Monday, January 01, 2007

Out with The Old in with The New

It was a quiet new year in 'Bond-world' last night. After the excitements of last year when we chased all over Edinburgh with a couple of friends, this year the prospect of the bad weather already put a bit of a dampener on proceedings, even before the cancellations set in. We spent the evening with a friend, and decided not to even attempt to go out and see if there were any fireworks. In the end, the moment passed with the immensely civilised Radio 4 Big Ben. Very fine.

2006 was not too bad a year for me. People have been occupied in recent days blogging their top achievements of last year and reflecting upon the year just past, both in political and personal terms. Personally, there have been some good things (in no particular order):
  • The completion of a book manuscript, set to appear in 2007, publisher willing...
  • The purchase and refurbishment of a flat for Junior Bond to live in (thanks, BB)...
  • Taking up blogging, reading blogs by others, and meeting a few bloggers, not once, but twice, and being invited to join the revitalised, relaunched Sharpener, which led to a post of mine being mentioned in the Times Comment Central...
  • Going to the Isle of Skye Music Festival (and staying in our tent!) and going to the Islay Jazz Festival, the latter involving visiting and photographing each of the distilleries, in absolutely fabulous weather; there will be more festivals next year, Islay for sure as it coincides each year with my birthday, but others as well, I hope...
  • Doing my inaugural lecture, which was a professional occasion, but one which involved a very substantial personal element as it was attended by a whole range of friends and professional colleagues from many walks of life, not just academia...

There have been bad things as well, notably that in the latter part of the year BB has not been feeling too good. However, one thing which was singularly lacking throughout 2006 was painting - either by me or by BB. We spent quite a bit of time talking about it, but somehow what has been a pleasurable activity for us to engage in both separately and together never quiet happened. has, already, in 2007! I kept saying to friends, before the break, that we were definitely going to get round to painting during the holiday period. We engaged in a fair amount of distraction activity, including photographing and re-wrapping our entire existing oeuvre (hopefully with a view to effecting some sales in 2007). I even marked more than half the examination scripts which are sitting in my study, and which need doing before 4 January. We read books. Ate meals; drank wine and beer. Washed up. Ironed. Took Junior to the airport,sent him on his way, and fetched him back again several days later. Anything, really. But finally, on 1 January 2007, we did it. Both of us. And here are the results.

First up, my picture. This is my first real attempt with acrylics, and I am reasonably pleased with it, although by my standards it is pretty traditional. We were both working from photographs, both taken during the same short break at Lunga in April 2006, with my cousin and family. The one I used was taken in the morning light, and shows the view across to the Isle of Mull, with a dusting of snow on the hilltops. It's done on board, 20 cms x 40 cms. Don't think the photo really does it justice, but there you go. However, I felt that just like riding a bike, painting is something you don't really lose, although it is certainly true that practice helps make you better. But it was wonderfully engaging to be focused on just the paint, the paintbrush and the canvas again. I have really missed it.

Second up, BB's effort. This is a fairly typical 'BB', and all the more lovely for that. An atmospheric sunset.

It's an oil, and it's rather bigger than mine - a canvass of 12 ins x 30 ins. It is interesting to see not only how different the two views can be, because of the different times of days when the photos were taken, and because of the different mediums we were working in, but also the subtly different approaches we take in our work. What we each choose to emphasise or to downplay.

Anyway, enough wiffling on about the pleasures of painting. This has been a mega post, and it must stop now!

HNY everyone.