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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Evasion, amorality and Bulgarian tomatoes

OK Confession time – I did spend 5 hours of my life last evening hooked in front of the screen watching MPs of the british Parliament’s Select Committee on Culture and Media "cross-examine” first Murdoch Senior and Junior (who control so much of global media); and then Rebecca Brooks who was, until last week, the editor of one of their trash newspapers. It was a gripping and wonderful encounter between powerful people and a small cross-section of elected representatives of the british parliament – who revealed, each in their own way, both the weaknesses and (potential) strengths of that institution. I’ve put the verb in inverted commas simply because I could not believe how pusillanimous most of the the questions were (with the honourable exception of one Labour (Tom Watson) and one Conservative MP) – and how little follow-up and comment there was. Basically Rupert Murdoch has such a large empire (News of the World accounted for less than 1% of it) that he was rarely briefed; and his son’s comments could be reduced to two statements – "I only took up my appointment in 2007" and "I don’t want to prejudice the ongoing police inquiry". Rupert Murdoch clearly does not even begin to understand the meaning of responsibility – when reminded of the several occasions when people employed by his empire were publicly revealed as having committed serious misdemeanours and asked what action he had taken, his answer was simply that the law had to take its course. There were clearly no internal disciplinary processes. His further comment that "the people I had trusted had been let down by the people they had trusted" also reveals an interesting viewpoint, in which the more lowly you are, the greater a moral responsibility you bear.
The Guardian has useful video excerpts and commentary. Here's a great update of a song the Queen's drummer (Roger Taylor) gave us in the 1990s about Murdoch. Two Guardian correspondents give rather different perspectives (the strength of that paper) here and here. But Boffy’s Blog probably expresses it best.
And this media fixation effectively distracted me (yet again) from taking any real action on my bank savings. I had visited my three banks here to try to make a judgement of what to do with my cash – with a firm proposal being made to me for the first time to move into gold. Everyhere I look there are huge risks – inflation; banks failing; the euro failing; gold coins purchased neing duds.
So best thing is to bury oneself in (a) novels – eg Amos Oz’s Fimaand here and (b) in the delicious Bulgarian vegetables and wine. I don’t think I have yet paid tribute on this blog to Bulgarian tomatoes.

Let me therefore quote on the latter from an ex-pat -
I spent half of July and all of August on the Bulgarian sea coast, starting the day with thick slices of tomatoes on buttered toast, continuing with tomatoes and feta salad for lunch, and ending it with more tomatoes and roasted long peppers or eggplants in tomato sauce, or stuffed zucchini with tomatoes, or nibbling cherry tomatoes straight from the vine, or… you get the picture.
The sun ripened tomatoes from my aunt’s garden are the second reason I go back to Bulgaria every summer – the first being my family and friends. The fact that my parents live ten minutes from the sandy beaches of Varna – the best city in the country – is also a big plus.
I’ve never found better tasting tomatoes – heavy, meaty, sweet. Bulgarians are crazy about their tomatoes, and most of them will grow their own in every available plot. August will be dominated by tomato topics such as the prices on the market, a disease threatening the crop or the extinct local varieties.
The pungent sweet fruits will even overshadow yet another cabinet crisis or new corruption scandal and everybody’s weekends will be spent not on the golden beaches, but plucking or watering the mighty tomatoes. Growing, eating and canning tomatoes is our national sport. And though I’ve been living abroad for many years now, I’m more than happy to participate in those late summer games. By September I have tomato juice flowing in my veins instead of blood
. See the photo I've just taken - this is an average tomato (note its relationships to the coaster or "biscuit" beneath - there are much larger ones which weigh in at a kilo apiece)

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