Thursday, December 23, 2010

Another interview for Australian radio

On Sunday I will be interviewed again on Australia’s publicly-run ABC Radio, this time about the festivities of this time of year in Spain and Catalunya. The program is Overnights – Round the World and will be at broadcast there on Boxing Day morning.

I will mention the caganer, the El Gordo lottery, calcats and romesco sauce, caga-tio and other oddities.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Will Europe do anything about child slave labour in Uzbekistan?


As someone who prefers to buy cotton clothes I have sometimes thought about the apparently back-breaking work of picking cotton plants from out of the ground.

The mental picture of children (as young as our 9-year old son) being dragged from school only to spend hour after hour twisting their bodies in the fields is a very disturbing one.

The single biggest destination for Uzbek cotton is the European market. Despite strong condemnation from the European Union over the use of child slavery in Uzbek cotton production, the EU continues to allow the Government of Uzbekistan to benefit from reduced trading tariffs for its cotton imports to the EU despite its own rules that these benefits should be withdrawn.

SIGN THE PETITION calling on the EU to remove trade preferences for Uzbekistan to stop child slavery.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

"Piensa es gratis"

Think, it's free of charge.

These were the words that greeted me when arriving back at Barcelona airport after five weeks away in Australia not so long ago.

Piensa es gratis is the title of a new book by Joaquín Lorente which was the first words I consciously noticed, glancing at the airport bookshop while wheeling my luggage trolley along. Ah yes, I am home now, I thought. Back in the land of the mind: Europe.

The genius George Orwell devoted his last years on the earth to digging deeply into, amongst others, the idea that thought can only be truly free when there is freedom of speech to go along with it.

Many economists tell us that nothing is free of ‘cost’ because there is always “opportunity cost” – that we are constantly doing things at the expense of doing something else. I am writing this instead of sleeping on the train at this moment.

But to me freedom of thought is important because without it we are no more evolved than beasts.