Anyone up for a Friday Forecast?
These questions and fewer, answered in our Friday Forecast competition!
(incorporating "World of Decency")
I CAN'T vouch for the truth of Belle de Jour: The Intimate Adventures of a London Call Girl (we might have cared about this a year ago when it came out - BB) but the rise of the "blook" (you wot? - BB) - books which come out of weblogs - should make conventional authors worry about our accuracy.
For blogs have one huge advantage over dead tree publishing. Make a mistake in a book and you have to wait until the next edition to correct it - if there is one, that is. Make a mistake on a well-read website and dozens of busybodies with nothing better to do will point it out. It's not a plesant experience, but in the end it produces better writing.
[...] From her point of view, she's burned her boats, or rather Tony has burned them for her. She was a brilliant lawyer who might have gone to the House of Lords. But the English law has no place for celebrity judges and I can't see her picking up much of a legal career once Blair's gone (emphasis added - BB)
[...] It shouldn't be that way. We should be a mature enough country to accept that the PM's wife or husband can have a career of his or her own. But we aren't and I can't see Cherie telling Tony to give up what he and the media have given her for the sake of little or nothing in return.
Two decades later, walking as a Times columnist into the same streets where the shouts echoed and the Kurosawa-like battles were enacted between lines of police and pickets, I have little sense of the politics that seemed so dominant in the mid-80s.
Although the brave, blind pickets remained outside Wapping for a full year, not only did they not stop the revolution, they failed even to slow it.
The irony is, as Andrew Neill, a prime mover in the events of 1986 said recently, without the Murdoch revolution, excoriated at the time by papers such as The Guardian, the recent change in format by that paper would not have been possible. And for me the irony was that I could walk into Wapping as an employee of News International, and not feel even the slightest twinge of residual guilt. It's a different world now.
It was to be understood as the shifting of balance from producers to consumers and from labour to management; it was a new chapter in the class struggle.
My children regard my description of the media world of my own childhood as being like the famous Yorkshiremen comedy skit of the 60s - an exaggeration of cultural deprivation.
The newspaper world was slightly different, with the triumphant Sun proclaiming "Gotcha!", breasts on page three and the same old gently declining broadsheets.
Radio was the BBC and a few commercial stations, TV was three terrestrial channels (just about to become four), and the new Video Tape Recorder allowed us to rewatch episodes of Brideshead Revisited. Cassettes were edging out vinyl; the Walkman was two years old, the first brick-sized mobile phones were still a year or so away. There was no such word as Internet and our Search Engines had names like Gerry and Cathy.
Those values themselves, are far from immutable. Where once you couldn't say "fuck" in print or on television, but you could say "coon", now - as Jerry Springer, the Opera proved, taboos that seemed almost eternal have been broken within a generation.
If everyone can create their own personalised broadcasting or media world, how do you bring that sort of society together, and hope that it can share values?
In a cursor's click the seeker after sensation can find an assortment of paraphilias that would have once taken a lifetime of trawling pornographic bookshops to locate.Technology changes society.
"[...] as soon as we start asking why it was that Bernie Ecclestone, Enron, Lakshmi Mittal and all the rest of the crew gave gifts then got rewards, some buck-toothed, empty-headed public-school boy from the BBC pops up and sneers: "Where's your smoking gun? Where's your proof beyond reasonable doubt?""
Ever since the Allies attacked Iraq exactly three years ago, the experts have continued to blaze away with salvoes of analysis.
Everything, in fact, except a proper history.
The nearest to that, and probably the most valuable book about the lead-up to the war, and the period before the Iraqi election of January 2005, is The Assassins’ Gate, written by George Packer, of The New Yorker magazine. And Packer, who spent a lot of time before the invasion talking to policymakers, and much time afterwards dangerously unembedded inside Iraq, begins by asking himself the question, why did the war happen, and answering the question with a laconic: “It still isn’t possible to be sure.” His ambivalence is like clear, cold water in a landscape parched by certainty -- too many books concerning Iraq are either essentially justificatory, or else a bizarre psychological attempt to undo the decision to go to war, to turn the world backwards -- as Superman does -- so that time is reversed, and the war (and, by implication, everything leading up to it) somehow doesn’t happen.
It's not the parents who hussle to get their children into faith schools who are the nightmare: most simply want the best for their children.
But as faith schools expand, Catholic, Anglican and Jewish schools will be matched by Muslim, Hindu and Sikh schools. The case for them is unarguable as long as faith schools persist unchallenged. Yet when they come, we will have the nightmare of children divided by race and religion – the two most noxious sources of conflict on the planet. They will grow up without friends from other religions and with different coloured skins.
JERRY: Anywhere in the city?
GEORGE: Anywhere in the city - I'll tell you the best public toilet.
JERRY: Okay.. Fifty-fourth and Sixth?
GEORGE: Sperry Rand Building. 14th floor, Morgan Apparel. Mention my name - she'll give you the key.
JERRY: Alright.. Sixty-fifth and Tenth.
GEORGE: (Scoffs) Are you kidding? Lincoln Center. Alice Tully Hall, the Met. Magnificent facilities.
If these comments are moderated can someone please tell me what definition of moderate the moderator is using?
Well clearly by "moderating" I don't mean taking, say, a pro-Galloway comment and turning it into support for Ming Campbell. Even if I think that's what some people will do over the next few months. I have cut out a rather explicit joke, but I left in two Anti-Semitic comments from a "GK", simply to remind us of what's out there, and because it represents one small strain of e.mail that I do receive pretty constantly.
When Radio 4 invited the exeditor of the Erotic Review to analyse The Road to Guantanamo, a vague notion that had been bubbling in my mind for months became a certainty. Liberal London has gone mad.
There is a strange mood among the metropolitan intelligentsia at the moment. It has become a kind of class betrayal to do anything other than blame Blair and Bush for the woes of the world.
On Sunday we had a spectacle more obscene than anything Rowan Pelling has published.
There were even organizations such as the Junior Anti-Sex League, which advocated complete celibacy for both sexes. All children were to be begotten by artificial insemination (artsem, it was called in Newspeak) and brought up in public institutions. This, Winston was aware, was not meant altogether seriously, but somehow it fitted in with the general ideology of the Party. The Party was trying to kill the sex instinct, or, if it could not be killed, then to distort it and dirty it.
The Archbishop of Canterbury stood in the Sudan, a country filled with the mass graves the Islamists have dug, and failed to register a squeak of protest.
Thousands of people are held on suspicion of guerrilla activity for many months. The United Nations and Iraqi ministers have complained that the system is an abuse of human rights.
The U.S. military cites its powers under a United Nations Security Council resolution to provide security in Iraq and says its facilities and procedures meet international standards.
Hullo, everybody, my name's Mark Commode, pronounced Kermode! You may remember me from such shows as "Newsnight Review" and "Southern Area Regional Heats of the Billy Fury Lookalike Competition 1998"! I would just like to say "Oh God this romantic comedy is so trite and superficial!". And "Oh God this animal weepie is so emotionally manipulative!" Wait, I've got another one, "Oh God this Dogme arthouse movie is so self-consciously highbrow!" Thank you, I will be here all week assuming nobody punches my smug fucking face in!
I am emphatically not saying here that I believe that the Tipton Three took up arms in Afghanistan and fought for the Taleban. Their story may be implausible, but it isn’t impossible. What I am noting here is the way in which Winterbottom banishes ambivalence. His Guantanamo detainees are innocent, even if the facts have to be selected carefully so as to reinforce that impression.
Not all of us are such hypocrites. I have heard, in the past week, an eminent progressive lawyer argue that the threat from jihadis is no greater than that we faced from the IRA. On that basis (conveniently forgetting the extra-legal actions that actually were taken back then), you may argue that we can afford to take the risk that a few bombers escape the net, in order to safeguard our legal integrity.
What you can’t do is what, I think, Winterbottom and all too many Britons now do, which is to obliterate the dilemma, so that the problem becomes entirely one for the authorities and not for us. Guantanamo is a bad reaction to something real, but none of us quite knows what the good reaction looks like.
I have seen my country walk away from people who trusted it too many times. If the "American People" want to walk away from those who have sided with us in Iraq. then we should start preparing for refugee re-settlement. There will be no forgiveness for those who sided with us in a post US Iraq.
This is what happens when a country plays with the lives of those far away. When, not if, we abandon the Glorious Work of beating the Middle East until morale improves, we need to be prepared to take care of these people.