December 24th, 2004


The Perfect Politician

Why can't we have a politician like this?

He focused on changing hearts and minds - not through preaching but through artistically creative strategies that employed the power of individual and community disapproval. He also spoke openly, with a lovely partial self-mockery, of his own failings, not suggesting that he was more moral than anyone else.

The fact that he was seen as an unusual leader gave the new mayor the opportunity to try extraordinary things, such as hiring 420 mimes to control traffic in Bogotá's chaotic and dangerous streets. He launched a "Night for Women" and asked the city's men to stay home in the evening and care for the children; 700,000 women went out on the first of three nights that Mockus dedicated to them.

When there was a water shortage, Mockus appeared on TV programs taking a shower and turning off the water as he soaped, asking his fellow citizens to do the same. In just two months people were using 14 percent less water, a savings that increased when people realized how much money they were also saving because of economic incentives approved by Mockus; water use is now 40 percent less than before the shortage.

His Dark Materials

There's a very good piece here where Philip Pullman points out the ridiculousness of some of the discussion of that's being going around regarding the involvement of Christ Weitz with the trilogy.

First, I'm sorry that Chris is not going to direct the film. In the conversations we had last summer and the many communications since, I came to regard him as a safe pair of hands - someone who knew the story very well indeed, and whose vision of the way it should be told on screen matched my own. However, I'm glad he'll continue to be associated with it; I gather that he's going to write the screenplays for the other two films, so there will be a consistency of vision throughout.

I have to say that I've been rather annoyed by the various ravings of people who seemed to ignore what the creator of the materials wanted, in favour of ranting because the director once made a vaguely-gross comedy. Because, apparently, people aren't capable of having both an intellectual side and a gross-out side. As someone who loves both, I feel pretty offended by that.