February 2009

I remember when I worked on a paper in Camden covering meetings where it was suggested that big pharmaceuticals and the medical profession were conspiring to suppress information on the link between MMR and Autism..
Now ten years later Bad Science columnist Ben Goldacre is being championed by the likes of Stephen Fry on Twitter for “hammering away at these people and their superstitious inanities”.
Goldacre writes here about about LBC’s request that he take down audio of Jeni Barnett’s 7 January phone in and updates the story here – as well as Stephen Fry on Twitter, it’s been shared on Wikileaks and Youtube and excerpts of the transcript have been posted on numerous blogs.
On Monday 9 February it was discussed on Start the Week in a debate on censorship and the internet and the next day in his Times column David Aaronovitch weighed in.
All the blogs that have covered the story are listed by Goldacre courtesy of Holfordwatch which has logged them all here..
There will be a lot to learn from this about the web in relation to laws that Glodacre “apparently works a bit better for wealthy people”.


(When he was younger of course)

That’s what Mark’s son Tyrone* told him when he was staying over the weekend.
“I mean you’re not a bad dad, you’re pretty cool, but it would have been SO much better if you were Sean Connery.”
Normal exchanges between a father and son, but the added twist is the fact that this father and son hadn’t seen each other for more than 13 of Tyrone’s 18 years.
Who did Tyrone imagine his Dad to be before he met him again a year ago? A man in a Rolls Royce bearing wads of cash he aint I told him while we queued in Somerfield and he suggested Mark should buy him a flat…
This was the first weekend we saw him after THE CHRISTMAS VISIT… A fun, riotous, rowdy, testosterone-fuelled, bordering on anarchic visit.. particularly when he paired up with his newly discovered half-brother and experienced the heady power of siblings ganging up on the adults.
It was the visit that we recognised that what we were doing was a DIFFICULT THING… A friend pointed out that if we were adopting we would probably face tough questioning, counselling, ongoing support. That’s not the solution I’m looking for but it did bring home the fact that we are having to find our way through a pretty novel and tough situation.
Mark is getting to know what it’s like to be a father to an 18-year-old, I also need to learn about part time living with an 18-year-old who isn’t my son, just as I had to learn about Mark’s 14-year-old, who also isn’t my son, when we first met.
Mark has discovered wrestling, table tennis, trips down the pub and sessions in front of the telly watching football and rugby all help re-build the bond with the son he had danced with and cuddled and sang to all those years ago.
I’ve found that a shared appreciation of clothes and shopping and a liking for cafes shapes how we spend time together….odd to find myself pondering if I can afford to splash out and treat him when he’s trying on a new jacket. – It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was doing the trying on hoping my Mum would decide to treat me..
I haven’t really had that much to do with an 18-year-old since I was a teenager myself. Funny how it triggers off reactions that are now completely redundant. So what I can say I’ve learnt so far: There’s no point trying to compete with them as I probably did when I was growing up with my brother. Secondly, appealing to their softer feminine side by dropping Simone de Beauvoir into the conversation is also futile, apparently. ‘They don’t have one,” Mark told me when we escaped for a walk one afternoon.
I also have to learn not to over-react when I feel pushed out – by the fact that Tyrone obviously wants to spend time with his father without me and also because it comes as a shock when the life I value comes under such bombardment – no curling up on the sofa with a French sub titled film.. continual fights over the remote control, the relegation of everything I’m interested in to a minority view.
I also had a fast-track experience of how rotten the bombardment can make you feel: Last week I was at J’s and her gorgeous, squirmingly teenage son made a scathing comment which brought it all back. I thought it was adults who were meant to be disapproving but what I wasn’t prepared for is just how critical they are. Living with the Thought Police isn’t easy…

*The name he chose when I told him I might write about him

The Altermodern exhibition opened at Tate Britain yesterday… French cultural theorist Nicolas Bourriaud who identified ‘relational aesthetics‘ as an emerging art movement curated it – and claims it marks the end of postmodernism and the emergence of the ‘Altermodern’.
Bourriaud’s thinking is outlined in a manifesto and will be presented in his new book, the Radicant, this month.

I wrote a piece on it for Palladium magazine, which isn’t published online. I was interested to see if the claim that postmodernity had given way to the ‘Altermodern’ would create much interest.

In the nationals: The Telegraph’s Richard Dorment gives it a thorough review; and The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones examines the ideas behind it.
The Times also gives it a show.

But maybe days when many of us have had our lives hemmed in by snow aren’t the best for wrestling with Bourriaud’s arguments about the impact of globalisation on art.

Art collectors and critics have been sceptical – one I spoke to said it was a lot to do with the Tate wanting to assert itself as cutting edge:

“Bringing in Bourriaud is just re-establishing the Tate as a brand leader,” says David Gleeson, art historian and writer. “I suspect it’s a move to show just how serious, academic and hard-hitting and in the know it is. A brand new theory will establish the Tate as international, cool, cutting edge, sharp and clever. All the major reviewers will give it pages. In a way it’s as big as the new limited edition Barbie. Anything in that bracket where they are bringing out something new knowing that there is already a demand for it, is an enviable position to be in. ”