July 22nd, 2004

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The Power of One

In the Czech Republic, as in several other Eastern European countries, people with disabilities - in particular mental disabilities or mental illnesses - have sometimes been kept in poor conditions. A 'caged bed' is used, effectively turning the hospital bed into a cage or cell. You may have seen this on the telly.

Now some good news from Amnesty International.

On 13 July the Czech Minister of Health Jozef Kubinyi issued a press statement stating that he had instructed directors of all health institutions to immediately cease use of 'cage beds', calling for the elimination of 'net beds' by the end 2004, and advising replacement of these beds with seclusion rooms and increased numbers of staff to improve care for people with mental disabilities.

But why this change? They received a single letter from a person who is greatly respected in the country: JK Rowling, urging them to abandon the practice. So they did.

From alas a blog.
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The Long Firm #3

Harry Starks and his mobsters aren't coping very well with the LSD revolution. While the privileged kids are becoming hippies, gangland London is becoming seedier. As laws on homosexual relations are liberalised, the establishment covers up the sickening murder of a rent boy. Spot the famous people in thin disguise.

The plot itself is a little weak, but this continues to be my kind of show. The characters are intense and difficult. And there are masses of references to Get Carter, my all-time favourite film. This week Starks kills someone not-quite innocent, but not-really guilty in a horrible way. He uses exactly the same turn of phrase that Michael Caine uses in similar circumstances, while the audience is forced to look away.

'I know you didn't. I know you didn't kill him.'

Mike Hodges said that Carter was 'A sensitive psychopath'. What a strange combination of characteristics that is. Harry Starks, with his gloomy moods, is his shadow.
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Spiderman 2

I went to see this film yesterday. You've probably already read a bunch of reviews, but here are a few additional thoughts.

My overall verdict - excellent comic book action film. Interesting to consider why this has the conviction, pace and style so lacking in Van Helsing. Spiderman 2 hangs together as a joined-up artefact: the funny bits are funny, the action bits are exciting and the characters are at least sketches of plausible people. I think perhaps the difference is respect for its own genre.
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