Columnists

A Thunderstorm Against the Wind

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Byron struck an image that still enthrals many. Mike Gonzalez traces the sources of his popularity.

Lady Caroline Lamb's spiteful description of her ex-lover Lord Byron--'mad, bad and dangerous to know'--has remained with us in a cascade of society scandals. Now it is the title of a new travelling exhibition, linked to a new biography by Fiona McCarthy. Suddenly Lord George Gordon Byron is everywhere. In an age of tabloid fascination with 'celebrity', it is the flagrant, challenging homosexual, the athletic lover, the dandy with the club foot, the merciless satirist, the man who courted scandal by parading his love for his sister, who is rediscovered.

Get This Party Started

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To ban parties from the movement would only benefit established parties.

One of the biggest and most enthusiastic meetings at last month's European Social Forum in Florence was about 'parties and movements'. Five thousand people crammed into a hangar-like hall 150 metres long for what was, in many ways, a rerun of a much older debate, that on 'party and class'.

Amey, What Can the Matter Be?

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Attacks on the firefighters and PFI go hand in glove in the name of modernisation.

Could there possibly be a connection between New Labour's sudden relish for a showdown with the firefighters and the latest batch of woes to have descended on the government's pet PFI plans? At just about the same time as ministers were pondering the wisdom of squaring up to the FBU, some of the key firms involved in highly valued PFI and PPP projects were owning up to write-downs that set jaws agape on the stockmarket. Both Amey and W S Atkins were forced to postpone the signing of final agreements on London Underground infrastructure renewal projects until the New Year.

The Perfect Cure

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One of the biggest problems facing users of the internet is viruses.

They cause billions of pounds of damage each year. But viruses are not only a big problem--they are also big business. The anti-virus company Sophos detects between 600 and 700 new types of virus a month--and is making serious money from it. Last financial year Sophos's revenue increased by 40 percent--a profit of over $14 million. You can imagine the corporate glee with which it penned a press release www.sophos.co.uk announcing a similar bonanza in 2001, titling it 'Fighting Viruses, Making Profits'!

Unfree and Unfair

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The aims of fair trade face a hostile system.

There are still people who see lack of clarity in the anti-capitalist movement as a positive thing. Even someone who has played such an important role as Vittorio Agnoletto of the Genoa Social Forum praises the lack of 'ideology'. But sometimes lack of clarity leads straight into traps set by the movement's bitterest opponents.

Up the Barbara

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Add up housing costs and average wages and £30k looks modest.

It seems to have come as quite a shock to lots of different people that train drivers on the London Underground already get paid £30,000 a year. Strike a light, guv, they must all be 'anging aht in penthouse suites up the old Barbara*, an' no mistake! Up to a few years ago, anybody getting this kind of money--even in London--would be doing pretty well. But it's by no means a spectacular whack in 2002.

Spam, Spam, Spam

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Anyone who has ever used Hotmail--one of the most popular online e-mail systems--will have noticed that junkmail, or spam as it is called, is much worse on its service than any other.

Hotmail (and its parent, Microsoft) claims over 110 million users of its system worldwide - a massive potential market for anyone who has access to its e-mail address book and a computer system capable of sending mail en masse.

A recent report in the 'Guardian' at media.guardian.co.uk estimated that 11 million spam e-mails are sent daily worldwide - even if only a tiny fraction of these prove profitable, there's obviously lots of money to be made from unsolicited e-mails.

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