Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

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The case that led to the historic Gurkha vote yesterday in Parliament, along with other neglected details of the affair

In Governmental stupidity,Gurkhas,Justice,Media,Politics on Thursday 30th April, 2009 by Guy

I am extremely pleased that Parliament has found some of its long-missing dignity and voted — with still too small a margin — in favour of the motion to get rid of the idiotic rules that prevent Gurkhas who were discharged before the arbitrary date of the first of July 1997 from applying to settle here, and more generally to re-acclaim the obvious principle that those who fight for this country should be allowed to live in this country if they so wish. (A video and transcript of the debate can be found at theyworkforyou.com [watch out for the poignant comment left on the site by an ex-Gurkha]; the roll call of votes is available at publicwhip.org.uk. I note that my MP, James Plaskitt of the Warwick and Leamington Constituency, voted with the Government. Does he not wonder why every single member of the opposition parties, and many Labour MPs, voted differently?).

The news coverage of the event was welcome but flawed in two important ways. Firstly, it did not clearly explain the context of the vote and why it was happening; secondly, the reporters quickly became engrossed in what the defeat of the Government means for Gordon Brown’s political career and if the vote is “embarrassing” for him. This is a real shame, as otherwise the layperson who only just tuned in to the story (like me) would not understand what exactly was being achieved, or indeed just how disgraceful the Government’s actions were.

I am still reading about the background to the case using whatever primary materials are available online. I know now, for example, that the reason for the debate was that the Government had promulgated new rules for dealing with Gurkhas’ settlement claims that were somehow abysmal. But why had the Government gone to the trouble in the first place? I’m not sure of the reason for the timing, but the trigger seems to be a High Court ruling [given, if you want to be precise, in the Administrative Court of the England and Wales High Court] in September 2008. It took me a long time to find the actual judgment, because news articles of the court case neglected to link to it and because those news articles are what dominate search engine listings related to the case, but now, for the record, here it is:

Limbu & Ors, R (on the application of) v Secretary of State for the Home Department & Ors [2008] EWHC 2261 (Admin) (30 September 2008), http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWHC/Admin/2008/2261.html

It is well worth a read to understand just why the Gurkhas are so deserving of our support in this case and in general, and to seriously bring into question how anyone can support this current Government, which is shown in a court of law to be entirely without scruples or honour.

If I have time I would like to write more about the Gurkhas. But I can’t promise anything, sadly…

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Not really too good to be true, as it’s true and not that good

In Correspondence,Media on Wednesday 22nd April, 2009 by Guy

I received a letter yesterday from some obscure organisation called Reader’s Digest. It began as follows:

Dear Mr Freeman [I don’t think they know my first name, but I won’t hold that against them],

Please take a deep breath before you read this letter, Mr Freeman, because great news like this doesn’t come along every day.

The reason I am writing to you is because you could soon be confirmed as the sole winner of our £5,000 Immediate Payout Draw. Further, this prize will be awarded shortly. Therefore, the action you prepare to take now could easily translate into a big cash windfall for the Freeman household [sic all over].

Many large cash prize winners have told us that suddenly coming into so much money often brings with it a few days, sometimes weeks, of utter exhilaration. In fact, this could end up being among the most exciting and memorable moments of your life.

That’s why we’ve enclosed a Frequently Asked Questions report [on which more shortly]. It includes some helpful hints [for what? Is there some sort of game involved?] and observations, and could certainly start you thinking about some of the things you’ll be asked should we confirm you as our very lucky cash prize winner.

**For instance: We stand ready to present our winner, upon confirmation, with a cashable cheque for the total sum of £5,000. Given that you may in fact become our qualified winner, and you would have had some time to think about winning, we could offer you the chance to claim the prize as an immediate wire transfer of funds to the financial institution of your choice near your home.

Mr Freeman, please take a few minutes to think about what it would feel like to be the confirmed winner of our £5,000 Immediate Payout Draw. Important documents will arrive at [my address, give or take] in a large orange envelope bearing a green 028 Tracking Ref label. It contains everything you need to guarantee your chance to take delivery of the prize cheque. [Yes, this emphasis is all theirs].

I can’t be bothered to write the rest as it carries on much in that vein, but losing the humour somewhat. They’d run out of their best jokes by the time I stopped quoting there.

Now I did have some questions relating to this prize draw, such as: Why were they making such a big deal out of it? Why do they write like a bad spoof of a 1950s hard-boiled detective story? Is there a possibility that they’re trying to persuade me that I’ve already won a prize despite this patently not being the case? Do they really think anyone is going to fall for it? And lastly, not too sound spoilt, but is £5,000 really enough to cause “weeks of exhilaration”?

I, Mr Freeman, after taking a few minutes of utter exhilaration to think about it, made the decision to read the enclosed Frequently Asked Questions booklet, because surely I couldn’t be the only one who was confused by this letter.

The top of the booklet was sliced inexpertly, deleting the tops of the letters of some of the questions. Intrigued and impressed by this stylistic touch, I started reading. The first few questions were to do with procedure if I was “confirmed” as the winner. Then came the truly wonderful queries which I’m surprised are Frequently Asked, if they are indeed:

Will I be contacted by the media?

If you win, it’s possible that you may be contacted by your local newspaper. [Oooooh! Golly and gosh!]

What kind of questions would I be asked?

Questions are usually anecdotal, such as ‘did you always believe in your chance to win?’, or ‘what were the reactions of family and friends upon learning of your good fortune?’.

Are there any other helpful hints and tips a winner might want to know about?

Some winners feel it’s a good idea to share the news with close family first in order to decide what to do with the prize! For instance, would you want to splurge on some luxury items, or put the money into a secure savings plan?

Other winners said that the money didn’t really change them as people. It just made life a lot easier!

This isn’t really a scam of the first order. It’s just a way to find the gullible, the semi-educated, the lonely and the elderly in our society and target them with crap which they will be powerless to stop. As amusing as I found this letter initially — and I did have a good chuckle again while typing it up just now — I can’t really understand how the people behind it can live with themselves for knowingly writing such tosh and thus being fully aware that only the most vulnerable of people will respond to it. Shame on them.

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Film review, of a sort

In Media on Saturday 14th March, 2009 by Guy Tagged: , ,

love is funny
life is funny
“vicky cristina barcelona” is very very funny: Woody Allen at his adolescent best

[Why did it take so long to be released in the UK legally? According to the Internet Movie Database, it was released in the US in August 2008, but here only in February 2009. There are no translation issues, so what’s going on?]

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Bloomer’s bloopers

In Media,Miraculous discoveries on Thursday 11th September, 2008 by Guy

Apart from the mistake of transmitting their biased guff funded by their mistaken license fee, the BBC can make funnier, smaller, cuter mistakes like the following:

Bloop!

Bloop!

And for an article about the 9/11 anniversary of all things! How unfortunate!

No, I can’t explain why this, of all things, breaks my blogsilence. Maybe I’m just petty… Fine, I admit it, I am petty. So what? Go back to work and stop gawking.

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RSS feed of Christopher Hitchens’ self-attributed work

In Christopher Hitchens,Media,People on Wednesday 23rd January, 2008 by Guy

UPDATE: You just want the damn link, don’t you? Here it is, philistine:

http://feed43.com/christopherhitchens.xml

ORIGINAL POST:

Christopher Hitchens is a writer of both hefty repute and substantial disrepute. I came across his ornamental, offensive, and thoughtful prose on slate.com, where he has a column. He seems to be a little more famous now, thanks to the publication of his latest book, “God is not Great”, an anti-theist tract. With a propitiously controversial topic, and published at around the same time as Richard Dawkins’ soothingly-titled “The God Delusion”, it sold quite a lot of copies, and thence gave Mr. Hitchens a good few opportunities to speak his mind on these matters at various debates and gatherings: a delight for the likes of you and I, as Mr. Hitchens is also rather good at venting his sharp, polite insults orally (for an example of his supreme wordsmanship, you could do worse than click on this link to a video of him giving his less-than-complimentary opinion of the very late, and hopefully speedily rotting, Jerry Falwell).

Given these attractions, would it not be nice in the extreme, nice to the bleeding edge of niceness, to have a way to read his latest über-guff? Instead of maintaining a blog or some even more newfangled device, Mr. Hitchens maintains a webpage of his oeuvre, intermittently updated. Yippee doo da!, and other exclamations of joy!

But what if you don’t want to, or can’t, or simply shouldn’t visit this webpage every time you want to find out if the great man has done some more great work, especially when you run the risk of disappointment that nothing has changed there in the 30 minutes since you last checked? Why, my poor, deluded, pathetic friend, you can subscribe to an RSS feed of his page, preferably through my non-sponsor, bloglines.com. Wait, there’s no RSS feed of his page, that sort of thing being one of those overly newfangled doodahs he can’t cope with? Don’t worry, I made one for him, with a little help from feed43.com.

That feed is linked… here. (If you’re using bloglines, as I recommended, you could try clicking here instead.) This is what you came for. Come and have it. Don’t read any of the preceding paragraphs: I certainly didn’t, and I’m supposed to have written them.

Go away now and read something by someone who knows what they’re talking about.

(If someone can get Christopher Hitchens to thank me personally, you don’t need to do that. It’s an honour to have done this for him. If he still wants to get in touch, I won’t stop him.)

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What’s news? A joke.

In Jokes,Media,Random fun stuff on Wednesday 21st March, 2007 by Guy

Courtesy of Newsnight‘s daily newsletter, itself on this occasion courtesy of Gavin Esler, who may or may not be a Jew, the following joke. Wait for the pips… Now:

Red tarmac and black tarmac go swaggering into a pub, plonk themselves down at the bar, order some drinks and start boasting about how tough they are.

“I can take on anyone in here!” announces the red tarmac. The black tarmac hoists himself up on the bar and bellows, “Bring it on! I’ll take you all on at once!” Just as the bartender is about to tell them to knock it off, green tarmac comes through the doors, and red and black tarmac turn and run for the men’s room, where they cower until green tarmac has drunk up and left.

Seeing them skulk back to the bar, the bar tender asks them what’s up – surely green tarmac is no match for such tough guys as them? “Are you joking?” they reply, “Don’t mess with him, he’s a cycle-path!”

Geddit? Giggety-geddit? Well, I thought it was droll.

This, keep in mind, is from the BBC’s flagship news programme. All hail the Esler!

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Quizmania confused viewers, viewers confuse everyone else as to why they watch such rubbish while sober

In Media on Thursday 18th January, 2007 by Guy

Quizmania confused viewers [source: Digital Spy]

Ofcom has criticised ITV over a Quizmania question which had bizarre and confusing answers.

The late-night show on ITV Play encourages viewers to ring premium-rate phone lines to answer questions which are posed on the programme.

Complaints were received after the audience was asked to guess 14 answers to the question “Whats in a womans handbag?” After viewers guessed items including a mobile phone, plane tickets and driving licence they were told they had failed to identify others, including a balaclava and DIY Rawlplugs.

Ofcom upheld the complaints, stating that the “unreasonable” answers could not have been guessed.

What is a rawlplug? What is wrong with these people? If these questions are not too difficult to use on the program, I’ll gladly sell them at a very reasonable rate. You can see how much I respect “intellectual property”.