O Mount Kailas
Uncover me
Come my restoration
Wash my body clean
I’ve been walking
Along a crooked path
Where the walls have fallen
And broken me in half
I’m telling you
I will not rest till I lay down my head
I’m gonna go
In the house of stone and light
I shall not cry for the blindman I leave behind
When I go
In the house of stone and light
In the house of stone and light
Holy lady
Show me my soul
Tell me of the place
Where I must surely go
Old man waiting
At the gates for me
Give me the wisdom
Give me the key

Martin Page (born 23 September 1959 at Southampton, England) is a musician, singer, bass player, and noted pop songwriter. Page spent the early part of his career writing or co-writing several hit songs such as “We Built This City” (Starship), “King of Wishful Thinking” (Go West), and “These Dreams” (Heart). He has also written songs for artists including Robbie Robertson, Tom Jones, Earth, Wind & Fire, The Commodores, Bernie Taupin and many others.

He was a member of the early-’80s new wave group Q-Feel and recorded a hit solo album, In the House of Stone and Light, in 1994. The title track, in which he wrote himself, was a hit in the same year, reaching #14 on the Billboard Hot 100 and becoming a popular mainstream hit. He later released his second solo album, In the Temple of the Muse, on an independent label in 2008. He currently resides in Southern California.

Patron saint of misfits invites Barcelona to her ball

Million-selling singer Lady Gaga brings her million-dollar tour to Spain

EL PAÍS – By LUCAS ARRAUT

Back in 1990 Madonna kicked off her famous Blonde Ambition Tour in Barcelona’s Olympic Stadium, gabbling in Spanish learned from film director Pedro Almodóvar: “I’m alone. Where are all the guys with dicks?” Twenty years later and just a few meters from the same spot, Lady Gaga also showed up in scandalously potty-mouthed style with her Monster Ball Tour. “You’ve already heard that I have a fat Italian dick,” she spat, after simulating a group masturbation session performing hit LoveGame. “Come on, now take out yours. I’ve heard you have pretty big ones.”

The show served up by the artist known as the patron saint of misfits at Barcelona’s Palau Sant Jordi on Tuesday night – which will also visit Lisbon on Friday and Madrid on Sunday – cost overone million euros and included 15 costume changes to promote her universal message of celebrating difference. She performed it in front of 18,000 fans – dressed in glasses made from cigarettes and space-age jackets – who have spent the last two years subscribing to the joke she continues to stage. “I hate the truth,” she spat out again by way of clarification. “I prefer a huge dose of shit rather than the truth!” The outburst preceded the performance of Teeth, in which she ended up soaked in blood.

Though she has challenged the laws of microcelebrity and the niche culture of Web 2.0, Gaga is a primitive woman at heart: during the course of the concert she crawled around, shouted, spat, sweated, groped her dancers, slogged her guts out in every number and, between panting, threw in a little self-help speech. “I don’t care who you are, where you come from or how much money you have,” she cried out after caressing a dancer’s groin. “Tonight you can be whoever you want. Love yourself.”

The night had kicked off in futurist style with Gaga in silhouette behind a screen, shoulders the size of a quarterback’s, alternating between Betty Boop and Nosferatu poses. It was an ambivalence that characterized the whole two-hour show. In Gaga’s Warholian delirium all the extremes of fame culture converge. The New Yorker wanted to be sexy and sinister, feminine and ambitious, vivacious and grotesque, frivolous and cerebral, pop and expressionist, glamorous and scatological. In the intimate moments at the piano (glam ballad Speechless and the mid-tempo You and I), she shamelessly chased caricature and grotesquery, sometimes playing the keyboard with her heels. The more hyperbolic numbers, such as Alejandro, were offset with readings from manifestos: “We are nothing without our image. When you are alone, I will be too. That is what fame consists of,” she recited on a prerecorded track. And that it is also what the outrageous complicity she encourages in her faithful consists of: like a guru, Gaga addresses each of her fans as if they were famous like her, intimate friends who understand and share the heaven and hell she goes through.

The “pop-electro opera” of The Monster Ball narrates the journey of a gang of degenerates to a party along a glitter-lined road – something like if Freaks director Tod Browning had made The Wizard of Oz in the 1980s. It offers an apocalyptic vision of New York with broken-down Rolls-Royces, Metro carriages, a Tim Burton-style Central Park and an enormous Jabba the Hutt that you want to thump. This is the fame monster, the manifestation of her demons. To escape it, she appealed to the public for the only possible solution: “It wants to rape me! Have you got cameras! Photograph it!”

Big tracks Poker Face, Paparazzi and Bad Romance captivated the crowd at the end of the party. And wearing an impossible suit around which enormous metallic hoops orbited – like a Vitruvian Man redesigned by Arthur C. Clarke – she said good bye with a special effect. But at 24, Gaga is anything but an illusion. A shrill vocalist, spasmodic dancer, inspired composer of million-dollar choruses and skilled manager of the unhealthy obsession that, once in a while, she says she feels for her fans – “my little monsters,” as she calls them – the star made it clear she was here to stay. “Thank you for knowing my lyrics, I never mime,” she said.

She grabbed a rainbow flag from the crowd and wore it like a veil. She got emotional when some fans surprised her with a bunch of red, heart-shaped balloons, demanding she perform an unreleased track from her next album (she said no, but her reaction was convincing). In the age of Twitter, the illusion of accessibility that so many pop stars want to generate is only credible from the most absolute self-conviction.

In fact there was just one thing Gaga didn’t understand – the rejection from the Catalan crowd she got when she covered herself with a Spanish flag.

Perhaps someone will explain it to her in Madrid on Sunday.

Real Madrid’s Jose Mourinho won’t shrink away

LA Times – GRAHAME L. JONES

Criticism over a 5-0 loss to FC Barcelona and allegations of unethical coaching only help the Mourinho legend grow.

Far from retreating into the shadows to lick his wounds in the wake of Real Madrid’s recent 5-0 demolition by rival Barcelona, Jose Mourinho emerged fighting.

The club’s president, Florentino Perez, called it “the worst game in the [108-year] history of Real Madrid,” but to Mourinho it was nothing more than a speed bump in the road.

Shrugging off the loss, the Portuguese coach, who last season led Inter Milan to a trio of titles, including the European Champions League, before moving to Madrid, lashed out at UEFA, European soccer’s governing body, after it banned him for two Champions League games.

Mourinho, it seems, had been caught instructing Real Madrid players Xabi Alonso and Sergio Ramos to intentionally get ejected from a Champions League game against Ajax Amsterdam so that they could serve suspensions now and therefore have a clean slate going into next year’s knockout phase of the competition.

“I see the punishment as a medal,” Mourinho said. “I’m not going to change. My grandmother died a long time ago, but I remember what she told me as a child: ‘If they are envious of you, you should be happy.'”

The ban was subsequently reduced to one game, which Real Madrid won last week while Mourinho watched from the stands, and all is well again at the Spanish club.

The Mourinho legend, meanwhile, keeps growing.

“They talk about Mourinho as though he invented football,” Barcelona and Brazil fullback Dani Alves told Spain’s Marca newspaper. “It seems as though he wins every game from the bench.

“He’s a great coach, but he has been working with a lot of very good players.”

That dive is no ’10’

Sticking with the Iberian connection for a moment, it was fascinating to see the comments made last week by Danish referee Claus Bo Larsen.

Larsen, who retired Wednesday after blowing a whistle for 22 years, told Denmark’s Ekstra Bladet newspaper that Real Madrid’s Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo was “the most irritating player” he had ever encountered and was known for diving.

“He is always out to get cheap free kicks, especially at home,” Larsen said, adding that referees recognized the fact.

“We tended to talk in the referees’ room about how he would go down easily,” Larsen said. “We know not to be biased, but we have to be prepared.

“When he would lie down after failing to win a free kick, he would smile at me because he knew I didn’t fall for his stunts.”

Best in the world

Britain‘s FourFourTwo magazine has an online poll going in which it asks readers to select the best player in the world from among five nominees.

Not surprisingly, Barcelona’s Argentine wizard Lionel Messi leads the field by a country mile with 60% of the vote.

That Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale is second with 13% and Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta wasn’t even included on the list of five suggests the exercise should not be taken too seriously.

Iniesta, who scored the goal that won Spain the World Cup, is the odds-on favorite to be named the world’s player of the year for 2010. Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport claims it has inside information that Iniesta will win.

If true — the announcement will not come until the gala ceremony in Zurich on Jan. 10 — it would mean yet another honor for a player who already has won everything in sight, including:

The World Cup and the European Championship with Spain, as well as the Club World Cup, the European Champions League (twice), the UEFA Super Cup, the Spanish La Liga title (four times), the Spanish Super Cup (four times) and the Copa del Rey, all with Barcelona.

Iniesta, incidentally, is only 26…

The second death of Pompeii

Le Figaro – By Richard Heuzé (English Translation)

A chaos of stones and blocks the path of invading Abundance. Is what remains of the Schola Armaturarum. The Gladiators’ barracks, a large two-story building dating from the second century BC, collapsed onto itself at dawn on November 6, undermined by water infiltration. It is the biggest collapse since long found at Pompeii.

The rain fell in torrents in recent weeks has seeped into the ground, consisting of porous lava, or trickle down her slopes. The Way of Abundance is one of the two main thoroughfares of Pompeii. She goes in a straight line of the forum, after the Marina gate marking the entrance of the site, to join several hundred yards away, the door of Sarno and the garden of the ancient flora of Mount Vesuvius. It is bordered all along domus impressive. Those left are backed by a wide raised median, one of two major areas of Pompeii who have not yet been explored. Archaeologists are unwilling to undertake further excavations as already identified the remains will remain exposed to the elements. We are far. According to former Superintendent of Archaeology in Naples and Pompeii, Pietro Giovanni Guzzo Pr, two thirds of the buildings of the ancient city devastated by the eruption of Vesuvius in the year 79 AD, are exposed to a serious risk of collapse: “When I arrived in January 1995, only 14% were secured. When I left in August 2009, 31% were. “

Of the 108 insulae (islands or house) that account Pompeii, twelve were last year in red on the map as areas classified as high risk. None was on the path to Abundance. Historic houses like Labyrinth or The Marriage of the money, a huge building, are closed to the public.

The largest archaeological museum in the world open, with 44 hectares already cleared since the first excavations in 1748, remains extremely fragile constitution. In particular the path of Abundance: huge puddles of water trapped under slabs of pavement disjoint attest to the violence of the weather. Geological analysis is underway to understand the flow of groundwater. Since the beginning of the talus have succeeded. On 23 January the top of a retaining wall outside the house collapsed chaste lovers. This spectacular domus, itself backed by the median and two steps from the barrack, was managed with internal metal bridges to allow visitors to attend an audiovisual presentation for understanding the order of the excavations.

At daybreak, a dike wall, two meters high and collapses along six

For Professor Guzzo, a leading highly respected in the world of archeology, this collapse should serve as a warning: “For a century, nothing had happened in this part of town. Yet the warning signs had multiplied in recent times. “In September and October, other landslides have occurred in various buildings, a little further.

On 30 November, it was the turn of the house of Moralist: located near the barracks, the domus, so called because it bears on its walls calls for marital fidelity and temperance, had been restored. He still had to finish his garden, viridarium, reconstructed according to its ancient design. A copy of a statue, the original is deposited in the Archaeological Museum of Naples, has even been installed between the beds. In the morning, fill up a wall two meters long and six collapsed along the walls of the garden. Composed of ancient stones, he had already been rebuilt after the war as a result of Allied bombing on this part of Pompeii, where the Germans had moved their antiaircraft DCA.

“Something does not work as before in stormwater runoff, experts say. The problem probably comes from the land on which no full-field analysis was made. “Until we developed a general plan for regular maintenance, it will be impossible to definitively resolve these problems,” they believe.

“Pompeii lives of tinkering last fifty years”

The Minister of Cultural Properties, Sandro Bondi, minimizes “In seven years, Pompeii has experienced sixteen collapses.” Nothing, he says, no hint of the Barracks of Gladiators: “An inspection the day before had not reported any imminent danger.” He refuses to take responsibility: “If it did, I would have already resigned.” But he denounced the lack of budgetary resources, ” Some 11% of our staff are highly qualified retired without being replaced. The recruitments have been frozen for years. Lacks Pompeii 50 architects and 80 archaeologists. “In October, Sandro Bondi had also deserted the Council of Ministers adopted the budget law, in open conflict with the Minister of Economy, which had reduced its budget for culture .

The collapse of the barracks has outraged the head of state Giorgio Napolitano: “We all feel what happened as a disgrace for Italy,” he accused. L’Unesco denounces the neglect in which a site is listed since 1997 as World Heritage of Humanity: “Pompeii of tinkering lives for fifty years.” A mission assesses whether to insert among the places at risk, which would be a first for Italy.

The opposition demanded the resignation of the minister. “This collapse is emblematic of the ruins caused by the government of Silvio Berlusconi,” proclaims Walter Veltroni, who was Minister of Culture under Romano Prodi. Efforts have yet been made since the passage of a law in 1997 granting administrative autonomy to Pompeii. The superintendent and receives all of the ticket sales to 2 million visitors who flock here each year. About 22 million. There are also the contributions of the Region, always late, while the state pays the salaries and contributes to the capital.

The superintendent has cash liquidity. But only one third is used. The rest is stuck in the maze of bureaucracy. The smallest project requires a myriad of signatures. Unions get involved: a worker can perform a repair to over 1.50 meters in height. Beyond that, we must prepare a plan expenses, collect fifteen permits, appoint an architect and a foreman. Any restaurant, any consolidation must thus pass through the sieve with a profusion of stakeholders. Before the site opens, four to five years elapse: “In the meantime, priorities have changed,” says an archaeologist.

The State has a heavy responsibility: cultural policy erratic, waltz officers, three superintendents appointed eighteen months, commissioners have full power without necessarily having the skills to manage the archaeological heritage. Just appointed, some “managers” freeze all projects in favor of a policy sometimes disconcerting to promote the image of Pompeii. Should they spend 5 million euros to develop the forum for a concert by Riccardo Muti, who could very well take place at the Opera San Carlo in Naples? Was it necessary to divert funds for routine maintenance, which is so badly needed to organize an exhibition on civil defense? Was it appropriate to take 2 million euros for the regular budget to finance expensive projects audiovisual animation?

This has been done to the house of Julius Polybius, adjoining that of the chaste lovers. The householder in large white robe appears in hologram visitors. In a hollow voice, he tells them the tragedy of his family of thirteen members, including her pregnant daughter of 19 years, asphyxiated by the ash rain that hit at noon on 24 August of the year 79. In no time, between 8000 and 20,000 inhabitants (the exact number is not known) died before a pyroclastic n’enfouisse the city for seventeen centuries. As he speaks, sounds rise from the streets and kitchens, recreating the atmosphere of the last moments of the villa sounds of tanks and pans, braying, birds singing, the voice of a child looking for his turtle.

What I regret most archaeologists is the lack of planning, comprehensive plan, strategic vision. Pompeii what most needed is a comprehensive and coordinated effort of regular maintenance. What to safety walls and roofs exposed to the elements. In the beautiful Villa of the Mysteries, after four years of waiting, calls for tenders have finally been launched to restore the very delicate frescoes.

At Herculaneum, the sister city, a copy of patronage

In an amazing way, never any major Italian private group, no bank foundation has sponsored projects defense heritage of Pompeii. Bondi Minister proposes to establish a foundation to maximize funding. The idea received a cool reception.

AUnlike what occurs in Herculaneum, the sister city, 15 kilometers below the edge of sea at the behest of a wealthy American archeology enthusiast, David W. Packard, 3 million dollars are invested every year since 2004 – and for another four years – in infrastructure projects like the rehabilitation of water mains. Exemplary cooperation, which combines expertise and intelligence. One engineer summed up the philosophy: “Water is the worst enemy of archeology. When the contract was signed with Packard, we tried to be as efficient as possible. We refused to restore a particular focus domus for the rehabilitation of the ancient underground canal system clogged by ash. This approach has paid off. The results are spectacular. Herculanum, which is a sunken city, no longer flooded by rainwater, which distributary rapidly toward the sea “

For the director of Herculaneum, Paolo Maria Guidobaldi, “with some method, this patronage could be successfully applied to Pompeii …».

Sexuality in Modernism: The (Partial) History

New York Times – By Holland Cotter

WASHINGTON — With the exhibition “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” one of our federally funded museums, the National Portrait Gallery, here in the city of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” has gone where our big private museums apparently dare not tread, deep into the history of art by and about gay artists.

Over the last few years there has been plenty of speculation as to how this show would shape up, and when a copy of the catalog arrived, I felt a bit let down. All the artists were well known — stars — as was most of the work. The whole enterprise looked like an exercise in Hall of Fame-building, rather than like an effort to chip away at the very idea of hierarchy and exclusion. We were getting a “pride” display, an old model, very multicultural 1980s.

Then, when the Catholic League and several members of Congress demanded the removal of a piece — a video by David Wojnarowicz (pronounced voy-nah-ROH-vitch) that included an image of ants crawling on a crucifix — and the gallery, which is part of the Smithsonian, said O.K., we really were in the 1980s, back in the culture wars. Which led me to understand the show in a somewhat different way.

On reconsideration, it seems more purposeful, as if specifically designed to avoid any controversy that might distract from the major point it was trying to make: namely, that work of gay artists was fundamental to the invention of American modernism. Or, put another way, difference had created the mainstream.

But how was the presence of difference defined in art? By subject matter? By style? By the sexual orientation of the artist? And isn’t gayness, the most familiar form of such difference, a period concept, inapplicable to life and art of a century ago? Today the very word is used for convenience rather than categorically, with “queer” often used. (One way to think of it: gay is something you are; queer is something you choose to be outside of the heterosexual norm.)

Clearly the exhibition covers a lot of ground and raises many questions. It also has wonderful art, and the art stays wonderful whether you ask the questions or not. Again this seems part of the plan devised by the curators, David. C. Ward, a historian at the National Portrait Gallery, and Jonathan D. Katz, director of the doctoral program in visual studies at the State University of New York at Buffalo. They have assembled a historical show with a very specific slant, but with rewards for everyone…

How Picasso draws

In 1955, filmmaker Henri-Georges Clouzot filmed and met the artistic genius of Pablo Picasso. Thanks to an ingenious process of transparent glass and special ink, the master made his works before our eyes. Extract.

Excerpt: ‘Life’

Via NPR – By Keith Richards

I think the first record I bought was Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally.” Fantastic record, even to this day. Good records just get better with age. But the one that really turned me on, like an explosion one night, listening to Radio Luxembourg on my little radio when I was supposed to be in bed and asleep, was “Heartbreak Hotel.” That was the stunner. I’d never heard it before, or anything like it. I’d never heard of Elvis before. It was almost as if I’d been waiting for it to happen. When I woke up the next day I was a different guy. Suddenly I was getting overwhelmed: Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Little Richard, Fats. Radio Luxembourg was notoriously difficult to keep on station.

I had a little aerial and walked round the room, holding the radio up to my ear and twisting the aerial. Trying to keep it down because I’d wake Mum and Dad up. If I could get the signal right, I could take the radio under the blankets on the bed and keep the aerial outside and twist it there. I’m supposed to be asleep; I’m supposed to be going to school in the morning. Loads of ads for James Walker, the jewelers “in every high street,” and the Irish sweepstakes, with which Radio Lux had some deal. The signal was perfect for the ads, “and now we have Fats Domino, ‘Blueberry Hill,'” and shit, then it would fade.

Then, “Since my baby left me” — it was just the sound. It was the last trigger. That was the first rock and roll I heard. It was a totally different way of delivering a song, a totally different sound, stripped down, burnt, no bullshit, no violins and ladies’ choruses and schmaltz, totally different. It was bare, right to the roots that you had a feeling were there but hadn’t yet heard. I’ve got to take my hat off to Elvis for that.

The silence is your canvas, that’s your frame, that’s what you work on; don’t try and deafen it out. That’s what “Heartbreak Hotel” did to me. It was the first time I’d heard something so stark. Then I had to go back to what this cat had done before. Luckily I caught his name. The Radio Luxembourg signal came back in. “That was Elvis Presley, with ‘Heartbreak Hotel.'” Shit!

Around 1959, when I was fifteen, Doris bought me my first guitar. I was already playing, when I could get one, but you can only tinker when you haven’t got one of your own. It was a Rosetti. And it was about ten quid. Doris didn’t have the credit to buy it on hire purchase, so she got someone else to do it, and he defaulted on the payment — big kerfuffle. It was a huge amount of money for her and Bert. But Gus must have had something to do with it too. It was a gut-string job. I started where every good guitar player should start — down there on acoustic, on gut strings. You can get to wire later on. Anyway, I couldn’t afford an electric.

But I found just playing that Spanish, an old workman, and starting from there, it gave me something to build on. And then you got to steel strings and then finally, wow! Electricity! I mean, probably if I had been born a few years later, I would have leapt on the electric guitar. But if you want to get to the top, you’ve got to start at the bottom, same with anything. Same with running a whorehouse. I would just play every spare moment I got. People describe me then as being oblivious to my surroundings — I’d sit in a corner of a room when a party was going on or a family gathering, and be playing. Some indication of my love of my new instrument is Aunt Marje telling me that when Doris went to hospital and I stayed with Gus for a while, I was never parted from my guitar. I took it everywhere and I went to sleep with my arm laid across it.

I have my sketchbook and notebook of that year. The date is more or less 1959, the crucial year when I was, mostly, fifteen years old. It’s a neat, obsessive piece of work in blue Biro. The pages are divided by columns and headings, and page two (after a crucial page about Boy Scouting, of which more later) is called “Record List. 45 rpm.” The first entry: “Title: Peggy Sue Got Married, Artiste(s): Buddy Holly.” Underneath that, in a less neat scrawl, are the encircled names of girls. Mary (crossed out) Jenny (ticked) Janet, Marilyn, Veronica.

And so on. “Long Players” are The Buddy Holly Story, A Date with Elvis, Wilde about Marty (Marty Wilde, of course, for those who don’t know), The “Chirping” Crickets. The lists include the usuals — Ricky Nelson, Eddie Cochran, Everly Brothers, Cliff Richard (“Travellin’ Light”)  — but also Johnny Restivo (“The Shape I’m In”), which was number three on one of my lists, “The Fickle Chicken” by the Atmospheres, “Always” by Sammy Turner — forgotten jewels. These were the record lists of the Awakening — the birth of rock and roll on UK shores. Elvis dominated the landscape at this point.

He had a section in the notebook all to himself. The very first album I bought. “Mystery Train,” “Money Honey,” “Blue Suede Shoes,” “I’m Left, You’re Right, She’s Gone.” The crème de la crème of his Sun stuff. I slowly acquired a few more, but that was my baby. As impressed as I was with Elvis, I was even more impressed by Scotty Moore and the band. It was the same with Ricky Nelson. I never bought a Ricky Nelson record, I bought a James Burton record. It was the bands behind them that impressed me just as much as the front men.

Little Richard’s band, which was basically the same as Fats Domino’s band, was actually Dave Bartholomew’s band. I knew all this. I was just impressed by ensemble playing. It was how guys interacted with one another, natural exuberance and seemingly effortless delivery. There was a beautiful flippancy, it seemed to me. And of course that goes even more for Chuck Berry’s band. But from the start it wasn’t just the singer. What had to impress me behind the singer would be the band.

Excerpted from Life by Keith Richards. Copyright 2010 by Keith Richards

“There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time.”   Coolidge, Calvin

Educate Yourself: Reagan and PATCO

Explaining the crisis

EL PAÍS OPINION AND EDITORIAL

The air traffic walkout and government response requires urgent analysis

SIX DAYS AFTER the government declared a “state of alert,” for the first time since Spain’s return to democracy, there are many questions that remain unanswered about last week’s air traffic crisis. Taking as read the fact that the mass walkout last Friday of Spain’s air-traffic controllers deserves unreserved condemnation, the government must state whether or not it responded to this crisis with appropriate means.

As unfair as it may seem, it will not be easy for this executive — the only one that has tried to organize air controllers in a sensible manner — to resolve this crisis without reproach. The fact that the militarization of the system was the only way to restore “normality” to the airports has sparked doubts as to the management of the situation prior to the conflict, as well as the fact that the response by the air controllers to the decree that was passed on Friday was expected.

It was a decree that is yet to be properly explained, and, in effect, declared that working hours missed due to illness could not be included in the yearly calculation of total hours worked, meaning that air controllers who had included these hours in their ongoing total were forbidden from doing so. This irresponsible collective deserves to have clearly stated rules, but the citizens who have been affected by their actions also have the right to know what they are.

The state of alert had the positive effect of deactivating the wildcat stoppage in record time, but it gives off worrying signals in terms of the capacity of a modern democracy to organize itself properly. Prime Minister Zapatero must urgently calm the concerns raised by this crisis. Among these is the unsettling fact that Spanish airspace was apparently in the hands of a few controllers, who only returned to work when forced to do so and are also very difficult to replace. That would explain the new attitude of PublicWorks Minister José Blanco, who blamed the union heads and exonerated the rest.

Although this is a problem that was inherited from the previous administration, the current government must take some of the responsibility, having had six years to get to grips with it. But the opposition Popular Party cannot avoid all blame, in its attempts to gain political advantage. At the end of the day, it was José María Aznar’s government that, in 1999, consolidated the extraordinary working conditions that have enabled a number of protests, including last Friday’s.

NOTE:  The average basic salary for Spanish air traffic controllers is €200,000 (£176k), but most  double or triple this by working overtime. Of 2,300 controllers, ten were paid between €810,000 (£725k) and €900,000 last year. A further 226 were paid between €450,000 and €540,000 and 701 were paid between €270,000 and €360,000. In Spain, air traffic controllers work 12-hour days made up of two four-hour shifts and two, two-hour rest periods.  Source

Sir John Soane, RA (10 September 1753 – 20 January 1837) was an English architect who specialised in the Neo-Classical style. His architectural works are distinguished by their clean lines, massing of simple form, decisive detailing, careful proportions and skilful use of light sources. The influence of his work, coming at the end of the Georgian era, was swamped by the revival styles of the 19th century. It was not until the late 19th century that the influence of Sir John’s architecture was widely felt. His best-known work was the Bank of England, a building which had widespread effect on commercial architecture.

In 1788, he succeeded Sir Robert Taylor as architect and surveyor to the Bank of England, the exterior of the Bank being his most famous work. Sir Herbert Baker‘s rebuilding of the Bank, demolishing most of Soane’s earlier building was described by Nikolaus Pevsner as “the greatest architectural crime, in the City of London, of the twentieth century”. The Bank job, and especially the personal contacts arising from it, increased the success of Soane’s practice, and he became Associate Royal Academician (ARA) in 1795, then full Royal Academician (RA) in 1802. He was made Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy in 1806, a post which he held until his death. Together with John Nash and Robert Smirke, he became an official architect to the Office of Works in 1813. Then, in 1814, he was appointed to the Metropolitan Board of Works, where he remained until his retirement in 1832. In November 1821 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society In 1831, Soane received a knighthood.

Soane was commissioned by the Bank of Ireland to design a new headquarters for the triangular site on Westmoreland Street now occupied by the Westin Hotel. However, when the Irish Parliament was abolished in 1800, the Bank abandoned the project and instead bought the former Parliament Buildings.

During his time in London, Soane ran a lucrative architectural practice, remodelling and designing country homes for the landed gentry. Among Soane’s most notable works are the dining rooms of both numbers 10 and 11 Downing Street for the Prime Minister and Chancellor of Britain, the Dulwich Picture Gallery which is the archetype for most modern art galleries, and his country home at Pitzhanger Manor in Ealing.

Sir John Soane’s tomb in the Old St Pancras churchyard. Soane died, a widower and estranged from his surviving son (whom he felt had betrayed him, contributing to his own mother’s death), in London in 1837. He is buried in a vault of his own design in the churchyard of St Pancras Old Church. The design of the vault was a direct influence on Giles Gilbert Scott‘s design for the red telephone box.

end – 😉

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