Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

On Jimmy Savile

October 13, 2012 1 comment
Lolita poster

Waiting for you, Jimmy…

If only Vladimir Nabokov were alive at this time. The BBC could ask his opinion about Sir Jimmy’s antics.

That said, Bill Wyman’s still around, isn’t he? I know he’s more into older artefacts these days, being interested in archaeology and selling metal detectors and all, but I’m sure he could provide a few interesting anecdotes about the time when he was interested in uncovering fresher meat than Roman Republic Silver Denarius coins.

Leveson: wrap it up

February 27, 2012 Leave a comment

Today I watched John Prescott appear giving “testimony” to the Leveson “Inquiry into Media Ethics”.

Prescott. “Ethics”?

Last week it was Cherie Blair. Cherie Blair? Ethics?

Time to wrap up this media-lawyer circus.

Am I the only one  who considers the “star” witnesses appearing on BBC News-24 etc at the Leveson enquiry tend to be rather faded stars who once quite famous, but are no longer so? Are they seeking, as faded stars often do, to add lustre to their less then lustrous persona. Hello,  and fellatio to you, Hugh Grant!.

They also seem to be people caught doing naughty things. Why is their testimony so insipid? Is Leveson, basically, a government-approved tufty hunter? I rather fear he is.

Categories: Uncategorized

Polly’s forecast for your Sun this Sunday

February 24, 2012 Leave a comment

Oh dear. Polly Dutt-Pauker does not like the idea of the Sun on Sunday at all.

Murdoch launches Sun on Sunday

Guess Rupert must be doing something right…at last. But please, spare us the Yellandist “isn’t this boy who’s been forced to dress like a girl by his mad parents just toooo cute” stuff, will you?

WEATHER: It is currently 16-deg C in Tuscany, misty, but with a sunny day with low cloud promised for tomorrow. Forecast for SUNDAY: 15-deg C, with 90 per cent chance of grumpy frosted clouds and wild, violent outbursts of tacks, razorblades and hellfire, giving way to  scattered servants and free-ranging, scudding interns. A low-level depression named MARR descends over an unknown Tory MP who doesn’t go to church. Scattered things. MONDAY: Settled boredom, with John Humphreys tweeting Alan Rusbridger about how awful the weather from Italy has been on Today (lowlights repeated ad nauseum on BBC News 24).

Book of the Year 2011: The Invention of Murder

December 30, 2011 Leave a comment

Keen-eyed readers will have noticed I’ve given the blog a make-over and have added a new section of book reviews, called Scribble, scribble, scribble, which can be accessed here or from the link at the top of this page.

The first entry is my book of the year, Judith Flander’s excellent The Invention of Murder. Published at the beginning of the year, it was thus forgotten by the time most  “literary critics” –  whose memory spans would flatter a goldfish – came to write their interminable “Books of the Year” column which add much misery to the nation at this time of the year.

If you have been given a book token, or have a spare tenner or so to spare, I highly recommend this book. I’ve read it three time this year. I shall read it again.

I sincerely hope Judith Flanders writes a follow-up, covering murders in the 20th century.

Keep Calm and Womble On

December 15, 2011 Leave a comment

The Leveson hearing continues to Bore On for Britain, with live coverage on both BBC News 24 and Sky News, for heaven’s sake. As if anyone apart from Guido Fawkes and the usual politico-journo junkie suspects are really interested in watching minute-by-minute coverage from that sweaty oak-panelled room in the Royal Courts of Justice, where the testimony can hardly be heard above the ticking of the lawyers’ taximeters.

I’ve taken up watching Russia Today and Al-Jazeera to get my afternoon’s news fix. At least you get an idea that something important is happening outside in the real world.

It’s not as though we haven’t been here before. Whatever Leveson decides, we know what’s going to happen. Indeed, I’ve tried to interest Laurence Rees in a blockbuster TV series, tentatively titled The Calcutt Committee: A Lesson From History, but so far he’s not answered a single one of my emails. Maybe it’s because I couldn’t bring Nazis into it in a meaningful way.

Still, it’s good to see Fleet Street’s Finest have got their heads down and are still digging up the Stories That Really Matter:

W T Stead, eat yer heart out. Now this is a scoop!

Full story here.

Nonsense, nonsense and thrice nonsense

December 7, 2011 Leave a comment

I quite like Fleet Street Blues: it’s published some of my stuff in the past and it’s generally on top of what’s going on in the print press world. But I can’t forgive its churnalistic response to the latest Harmanesque Guardian nonsense about sex bias in the national press:


Forgive me if I’ve rudely awoken you by returning here after reading all that turgid, statistical onania. Here is how Fleet Street Blues interprets it, with a lovely chart brought to you in full Adobe Illustrator technicolor:

Guardian's male-female national media chart

Oooh-er, missus! Seems you're dropping behind!

I’ve noticed that FSB, bless him, is a sucker for graphics – the shinier the better (we all know what to get him for Christmas), and he writes:

Overall though, if the methodology is right – and we have no reason to think it isn’t – then the chart above seems pretty conclusive. Fleet Street is still very much a man’s world.

If the methodology is right...If the methodology is right…?

Well, no, the methodology is plainly not right. You only need to take a second or two to see that it isn’t.

1) Whyfore the critereon of a byline – generally given only to the lead story of a national newspaper page and rarely to downpage stories – be an indication of anything other than that was the person who wrote the strongest story for that particular place at that particular time? The news editor (more of which later) plainly decided was the strongest story and should be the lead. I would defy Kira Cochrane or FSB to argue against that decision, on a basis of sex discrimination, at that place and at that time it was made. Within deadline, please.

2) I can’t help but get the feeling that the original survey concentrates on the news, news comment and sports pages of national papers. Ms Cochrane and FSB do not seem to stray into the arts pages. This surprises me as far as Ms Cochrane is concerned, though not FSB , since he always struck me as a supporter of one of the more struggling football clubs, and in which the papers’ inside-page mires his interest more probably lies. But if Ms Cochrane is going to claim that the national papers’ Arts pages are regularly given over to a male hegemony, then I say  it is a sylvan pond into which she, and her intern researchers, have yet to dip their painted toes. They will find many other females doing likewise – though not all to their political liking, of course. There’s no accounting for taste when it comes to painted toenails, as the bishop said to Marilyn Monroe. There’s a lesson there, if only we knew what it was.

3) Nothing appears in a newspaper – or a newspaper blog – without going through about three or four people. You know that FSB. How many of those people are female? The news editors, the sub-editors, the deputy editors, proofreaders – need I go on? None of them are accounted for in Cochrane’s analysis.

The worst thing about these Harmanesque “equality” analyses is that they ignore women doing essential things that are below whatever line the surveyors claim is the one that matters, as though they don’t matter. They also ignore men, those who also are doing essential things, who are also below that line. They apparently don’t count either. We – who occasionally do get the bylines – know they do, FSB.

Categories: Uncategorized

St Paul’s: Another “inconsiderable clergyman” resigns

October 31, 2011 1 comment
Dean of St Paul's resigns

"Furthermore, we suggest that buffoon in the silly facepaint behind me takes over..."

By now you will have read the latest instalment in the rollicking pre-Christmas pantomime, Snow Beardies and the 40 Pampered Middle-class Shitheads, which has been playing to sell-out crowds at that traditional Home of High-Priced Farce, St Paul’s Cathedral, and which has been adding so much to the gaiety of the nation over the last week or so: the Dean of St Paul’s, the Rt Rev Graeme Knowles, has resigned.

By chance, I happen to be re-reading The Diaries of Evelyn Waugh (fantastic value at £2.50 with free p&p from Amazon).

The entry for 1 April – 11 April 1942 reads:

… Next day I was due to speak at the BBC as guest of the Brains Trust… The other guests were Sir William Beveridge, don-civl servant, and an inconsiderable clergyman, the Dean of St Paul’s [the Very Revd W R Matthews].

Being inconsiderable* has remained an essential “skill” needed on the CV for anyone applying for a job in the higher echelons of Wren’s masterpiece, it seems.

* OED: inconsiderable: Not to be considered; unworthy of consideration; beneath notice; of no consequence, unimportant; insignificant, trifling. The opposite of considerable (1712 Steele Spectator. No. 302 A trifling inconsiderable Circumstance.)

10 things you probably don’t know about Steve Jobs

October 6, 2011 Leave a comment
Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs 1955-2011

1) In 1985, when he was being pushed out of Apple by CEO John Sculley, Steve Jobs was approached by NASA to be the civilian astronaut on the ill-fated Challenger mission. He baulked at the six-month training required and refused.

WWW on Steve Jobs' Next

Berners-Lee's WWW on Jobs' NeXT

2) Tim Berners-Lee developed the first WorldWideWeb browser-editor using Steve Jobs’ NeXT, the pioneering hardware/software system he developed after being booted out of Apple (the operating system which Apple later bought and which later metamorphised into OSX, which today underpins the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad etc). “This had the advantage that there were some great tools available,” Berners-Lee wrote. “[I]t was a great computing environment in general. In fact, I could do in a couple of months what would take more like a year on other platforms, because on the NeXT, a lot of it was done for me already.”

3) In 1986, Star Wars director George Lucas sold the Graphics Project Computer Division of his Lucasfilm company to Steve Jobs for $10m because he urgently needed cash to complete his latest project, Howard the Duck. He originally wanted $30m, but Jobs beat him down to $10m. Howard the Duck bombed on release and is regularly castigated as one of the worst films ever made. Jobs renamed his new CGI company Pixar, And then…

4) At first, Steve Jobs had little to do with the day-to-day running of Pixar’s animation division, instead concentrating on creating the Pixar Image Computer, designed for weather, engineering, science and medical imaging. It bombed, selling fewer than 300, only 100 more than the original Wozniak-Jobs Apple I. On several occasions he even thought of flogging off the animation division, most infamously after “Black Friday” – November 19, 1993, when a calamitous screening of their work-in-progress, Toy Story, for Disney executives had Magic Kingdom executives seriously thinking of pulling the plug on the whole project. Luckily, Pixar’s in-house genius John Lasseter went away and re-thought the project. It was a huge success at pre-release screenings; Jobs took note and started to get more involved in Pixar, cannily gambling on floating the company a week after the release of Toy Story on November 22 – Thanksgiving weekend. As we know, Toy Story was the big success of 1995, guaranteeing the subsequent success of the IPO (initial public offering). Jobs held onto 80% of the shares, and virtually overnight he became a billionaire.

The original Bondi Blue iMac

iMac: What's in a name?

5) Steve Jobs hated the name “iMac” and initially rejected it when it was suggested by Ken Segall, the creative director at Apple’s ad agency, TBWA\Chiat\Day. In a 2009 interview, Segall said:

He didn’t like ‘iMac’ when he saw it. I personally liked it, so I went back again with three or four new names, but I said we still liked iMac. He said: ‘I don’t hate it this week, but I still don’t like it.’

Segall then heard from friends that Jobs was having the  name silk-screened on prototypes of the new Mac, to see how it looked:

He rejected it twice but then it just appeared on the machine. He never formally accepted it.

(To be fair to Jobs, he may not have initially liked the name iMac, but the TWBA honchos were in turn initially horrified when they first saw the bondi-blue bubble iMac. Segall says: “We were pretty shocked but we couldn’t be frank. We were guarded. We were being polite, but we were really thinking, ‘Jesus, do they know what they are doing?’ It was so radical.”)

6) Although Ridley Scott’s famous 1984 Macintosh ad is popularly believed to have been screened only once – during the Super Bowl XVIII clash between the LA Raiders and the hapless Washington Redskins – this was in fact the second time the ad had screened. It was initially aired at 1am on December 15, 1983, in Twin Falls, Idaho. With his usual marketing savvy, Steve Jobs had arranged for it to be screened on a small network at a time when hardly anyone would see it so it could be considered for that year’s ad awards. It duly won the Grand Prix at the 31st Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in 1984.

Oddly, it almost never screened at all. While many of those who saw it loved it, one highly influential group hated it: Apple’s board of directors. After the initial screening in December 1983, board member Mike Markkula asked, “Who wants to move to find a new agency?”

The board left the decision of what to do with the commercial up to then-President John Sculley. Sculley ordered Chiat\Day to sell the air time it had bought, but the agency sold only 30 seconds of the 90 seconds it had bought, leaving just enough time for the full ad to run. An Apple VP finally gave the agency the go-ahead to run the famous 1984 spot during the Super Bowl.

7) Steve Jobs served on the Board of Directors at clothing retailer Gap from 1999 to 2002, during which time he attended only 66% of its meetings. At the same time he joined Gap’s board, Gap’s chairman Mickey Drexler joined Apple’s board. At the time, this swap was criticised by BusinessWeek, which at the time rated both companies’ boards among the “eight worst in America”. It’s not known what Jobs brought to the Gap board’s table (a move away from the company’s ubiquitous beige, perhaps?) but he must have picked up a few tips that came in handy when he opened the first Apple Stores on May 19, 2001.

9) Steve Jobs’ biological father was a Syrian Muslim immigrant to the US, Abdulfattah John Jandali, later a political science professor and even later a Nevada casino chain owner. Jandali and Jobs’ biological  mother, Joanne Simpson (née Schieble), put the infant up for adoption because, Jandali says, her parents objected to their daughter marrying an Arab. (They did marry and had one daughter, the novelist Mona Simpson). Biological father and biological son never spoke to each other, let alone met.

10) Steve Jobs dropped out of his course at Reed College, in Portland, Oregon, on December 30, 1972, after only one semester, because of the financial pressure on his parents. However, he got permission from a college official to freely audit (ie, attend without getting an assessment or grade) classes, eventually settling on one in calligraphy. He slept on the floor in friends’ rooms or in unoccupied dorm rooms and returned Coke bottles to get money for food, with his weekly treat being a free vegetarian meal at the local Hare Krishna temple. He later said: “If I had never dropped in on that single calligraphy course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts.”

Don’t put yourself on the stage, Ms Trimingham

October 6, 2011 Leave a comment
Trimingham court case report

Another fine mess

Tim Worstall makes a good point about one line of defence used by Energy , Climate Change and Tidal Reversal Secretary Canute Huhne’s new partner, Carina Trimingham, in her current action against Associated Newspapers. One of her complaints is that the Daily Mail  published an “inherently private” photo of the 2007 civil partnership ceremony between Miss Trimingham and another woman, which one presumes is Julie Bennett.

Hang on, says, Timmy:

A civil partnership, as with a marriage, is a public declaration. In fact, by definition it’s a public declaration, that’s the whole point of it, to stand up and in public declare the legal relationship between the two people, in front of witnesses and all.

Quite so. Whether it’s a marriage or a civil relationship, whether it’s celebrated in a church, a temple, a “designated” place or the Drive-in Chapel of the Blessed Elvis in Las Vegas, such a union must occur in public and be witnessed to be legally binding. That’s the law. And if someone takes a photo of such an event, there ain’t much you can do about it if they flog the pic to the tabs/email it to all their mates/put it on Facebook.

It just surprises me that for a woman described as “an experienced communications consultant”, Trimingham seems deeply ignorant of Media Law 101. What doesn’t surprise me is that Huhne should thus pick up on such a woman. When you look at it, his whole career has been one “cataclysmic interference” after another.


Required reading by all journalists

September 8, 2011 1 comment

Without comment, I commend to you Mark Steyn’s piece on freedom of speech post 9/11.

In such a world, words have no agreed meaning. “There were funky Chinamen from funky Chinatown” is legal or illegal according to whosoever happens to hear it. Indeed, in my very favorite example of this kind of thinking, the very same words can be proof of two entirely different hate crimes. Iqbal Sacranie is a Muslim of such exemplary “moderation” he’s been knighted by the Queen. The head of the Muslim Council of Britain, Sir Iqbal was interviewed on the BBC and expressed the view that homosexuality was “immoral,” was “not acceptable,” “spreads disease,” and “damaged the very foundations of society.” A gay group complained and Sir Iqbal was investigated by Scotland Yard’s “community safety unit” for “hate crimes” and “homophobia.”

Independently but simultaneously, the magazine of GALHA (the Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association) called Islam a “barmy doctrine” growing “like a canker” and deeply “homophobic.” In return, the London Race Hate Crime Forum asked Scotland Yard to investigate GALHA for “Islamophobia.”

Got that? If a Muslim says that Islam is opposed to homosexuality, Scotland Yard will investigate him for homophobia; but if a gay says that Islam is opposed to homosexuality, Scotland Yard will investigate him for Islamophobia.

Actually, I will comment or, rather, I will let Confucius do it: “Above all, call everything by its correct and proper name.”