Sunday, October 31, 2010

Reading Skills Required

This is just a quick, "Blimey!"

PunditAid Please Give Generously or Nick Cohen having a good old sneer at Mary Ann Sieghart in the Independent.

It's not just me is it? He's got her point completely wrong.

Yet another AaroWatch Fail Sunday, by the way. I didn't get very far with this at all.

When you reach the search results, Google does not call the adverts running down the side "adverts" but "sponsored links", as if it were a charity and philanthropists were helping further its noble endeavour.


Google is an American company, staffed mostly by Americans. While it's not true that Eskimos have hundreds of words for "snow" the US has several words for advertisements: "these messages", "a word from our sponsors" etc. It may be euphemistic, and a cynic might think that a more accurate heading would be "Here are some scabs after your money. Flee!" but 'sponsored' to a US-ian doesn't suggest a cub-scout hike but a commercial arrangement.

(See also.)

I think Google has made mistakes re privacy - so has FaceBook. Targeted advertising (which is the only kind which makes sense now: before the Times went behind the paywall, every page wanted me to buy a 4x4; that's so wrong) will come at the expense of privacy. I won't have an Android phone because, like Nick, I think Google are too intrusive, but that's not going to bother millions of people. "Don't be evil" isn't "vehement", it's just missing a "man" or "dude" or, to really risque, "nigger". It's quasi-ironic. And Nick's argument that because "to google" is a verb now, "I doubt many users think of it as a business at all" applies to Hoover just as well.

Off-topic, but this piece on Tom Hanks' daughter's breakup letter to 'The Left' is jolly good.

Update 10:40 GMT 31/10/2010 Just skimmed the comments on Nick's article. They're not happy bunnies this morning.

Last week Nick wrote about Wayne Rooney. You'd be better off reading the excellent Simon Kuper on same.

86 Comments:

Blogger ejh said...

He's a good writer, Simon, but he does likes his stereotypes.

"A dance for space" indeed.

10/31/2010 01:11:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Actually, the more I read it, the crappier that Kuper piece becomes.

10/31/2010 01:24:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Yeh i remember looking at that briefly and thinking (without enough time to update AaroWatch on this) that his blog post bears no relation to the article quoted, he seems to have just decided what the piece is about without reading it.

just to say - since you didn't finish it - you missed this, which tells you all you need to know about Cohen's technological expertise:

Apple supplanted Microsoft because consumers thought it the more friendly and anti-establishment company.

1) the reason given for Apple's popularity is in no way true - in fact it's an active lie - and 2) Apple hasn't supplanted microsoft. What was that Nick was telling us a while back about living in media bubbles...?

Users do not have to believe that Google is evil for it to suffer an identical fate. They just need to think that it, too, is a part of an establishment that wishes to exploit them. As soon as they do, the search engine that will break Google's monopoly will be waiting for their custom. Just one click of the mouse away.

But which search engine is that? Bing? Yahoo? They're both rubbish in comparison - nobody is going to change, just as nobody did when Google was censoring stuff in China. The reason google got so big is because it was the best search engine out there, and because it still is. Nick seems to think people use it because of 'don't be evil' - but i don't know many people who even know that slogan. Again, he seems to be fitting the facts of his piece around his prejudices. People don't buy Apple or use Google because they think they're ethical or nice.

a couple of other things:

Some journalists claimed on Friday that Lancaster was overplaying the story. I've checked and he was not.

I'd like to know how Nick checked this. His sources for the piece are pretty clearly two Tory MPs, one of whom - David Davis - has had his past airbrushed to being 'a former Conservative home affairs spokesman' (shadow home sec, no?), and the other of whom seems to be Lancaster, who made the original complaint which looks pretty ropey.

This comment handles the ultra-awful piece very well:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/discussion/comment-permalink/8189080

10/31/2010 01:35:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Justin, I only read the SK piece once, as is the common practice, I believe. Who has time for re-reading? I liked it and thought it was a lot more perceptive than Nick's moaning about greed.

OC, I saw the Apple bit mentioned in the comments. Apple hasn't supplanted MS. And yes, Google still has the best search, so it will remain many customers first choice. Almost everyone believes Nike runs Vietnamese sweat shops; this hasn't affected Nike's market share. And yet Nike brand everything, so if you wear any Nike you open yourself to someone telling you that you support slave labour. Who would know if you used Google or not? There's not even a good social incentive to change. Nick's argument is purely wishful thinking - yet again confusing "should be" and "will."

10/31/2010 03:12:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Just something which I've already commented on, in my guardian guise:

It has so weaved itself into the fabric of everyday life that it has gone from being a proper noun to a verb: "I google"; "You google"; "The whole world googles".

this wasn't funny when Zadie Smith tried to make jokes about it in 'On Beauty' five years ago, and it sure as hell isn't any funnier now. And it sure as hell isn't a topical, clever observation.

There's a vaguely neat point in Cohen's piece - that google's homepage doesn't look like the homepage of a business - but that's just clever design. You could easily say the same of the BBC or the Guardian websites. Maybe this is all motivated by his commitment to open source - after all, he did sign the euston manifesto...

One thing I find ultra-frustrating about Cohen is that he so often whinges in his articles about stuff that he does, in a bizarrely utopian manner - remember his zeal for charity shop clothes because they're cheaper than FrostFrench? I wonder what search engine he uses. I wonder if he uses microsoft software or apple computers (the later isn't particularly likely, but still). If he does any of the above, what the hell is the point of pieces like this?

The strangest thing about his recent work is how little of it has been about current issues in British politics. nothing about the colatiion, save for some praise in this piece; nothing about the spending review last week, in that weird piece about 'financiers'.

nick last week:

The delusion of the 2000s was that managers were worth vast amounts because their genius could transform an organisation's fortune. The sports economist Stefan Szymanski found the evidence to support the proposition in football was close to nonexistent. A club's fate was determined by how much money it had; the manager was almost an irrelevance. Only two could claim to have made a difference – Arsène Wenger and Alex Ferguson.

I can't think of many teams whose recent histories testament to the former idea - clubs thinking that managers being worth vast amounts because they can transform teams' fortunes. Can anyone else? I think this is another Cohen straw man. In any case, the research was limited to Britain. FC Twente last year, or Porto with Mourinho, spring to mind.

off topic - though I've no doubt cohen's been thinking about this - anyone noticed how the Decent community has decided to ignore the govt line on the printer-cartridge 'bombs' - focusing on their being mailed to synagogues? Again I'm not sure what the Decent point is - it seems to be that al-Qaeda don't like Jews generally, and that 'someone' seems to think it's only Israel that they have a problem with - but who is this 'someone' claiming anything otherwise? Is this another conflation of Al-Qaeda with Hamas or Hezbollah (not to say either of those organisations isn't antisemitic)?

10/31/2010 03:48:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Just something which I've already commented on, in my guardian guise:

It has so weaved itself into the fabric of everyday life that it has gone from being a proper noun to a verb: "I google"; "You google"; "The whole world googles".

this wasn't funny when Zadie Smith tried to make jokes about it in 'On Beauty' five years ago, and it sure as hell isn't any funnier now. And it sure as hell isn't a topical, clever observation.

There's a vaguely neat point in Cohen's piece - that google's homepage doesn't look like the homepage of a business - but that's just clever design. One thing I find ultra-frustrating about Cohen is that he so often whinges in his articles about stuff that he does, in a bizarrely utopian manner - remember his zeal for charity shop clothes because they're cheaper than FrostFrench?

The strangest thing about his recent work is how little of it has been about current issues in British politics.

off topic - though I've no doubt cohen's been thinking about this - anyone noticed how the Decent community has decided to ignore the govt line on the printer-cartridge 'bombs' - focusing on their being mailed to synagogues? Again I'm not sure what the Decent point is - it seems to be that al-Qaeda don't like Jews generally, and that 'someone' seems to think it's only Israel that they have a problem with - but who is this 'someone' claiming anything otherwise? Is this another conflation of Al-Qaeda with Hamas or Hezbollah (not to say either of those organisations isn't antisemitic)?

10/31/2010 03:49:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

No, it's not a topical observation. It applies just as much to Hoover (as I've said), Zerox, and other appellatives.

There's a vaguely neat point in Cohen's piece - that google's homepage doesn't look like the homepage of a business - but that's just clever design.

I totally disagree. What does the homepage of a business look like?

Google has one basic product - search, and that's what you get on the homepage.

It has a very strong recognisable design (see below), which came about in the days of narrowband when being minimal meant that Google loaded faster than its rivals. There is every reason to keep such a design. The fact that it looks different does not make it less of a business. Dyson vacuum cleaners, old VW beetles looked different.

It plays about with the logo. I think there are two reasons for this, one is to push it to be even more recognisable; you know it's still Google even when it's distorted. The other is that they do so for certain dates: this is no different from corner shops to department stores redecorating at Halloween or Christmas. It's a very common business practice, and not sheer whimsy.

Finally, the zen minimalism is more like that of the really expensive end of the market. Your 99p shop is loaded with stuff. Tiffany's (not that I've ever been there), isn't.

Google's urls are commercial (where available in a country): .com, .co.uk, etc. Like any other business, it's where you go to get something. I really don't believe anyone could seriously confuse it with a charity or something.

10/31/2010 04:33:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

off topic - though I've no doubt cohen's been thinking about this - anyone noticed how the Decent community has decided to ignore the govt line on the printer-cartridge 'bombs' - focusing on their being mailed to synagogues?

I've addressed this on Twitter.

1 and 2

@jdthndr why were they addressed to synagogues? I'm sure Juan Williams http://t.co/isZNhyu spoke for many. People are suspicious of Muslims.
@jdthndr cont (last tweet was too damn long) so perfect cover for terror is to pretend to be the most unlikely terrorist: ie Jewish.


And replied to John Rentoul:

@JohnRentoul of course! if it were intended to blow up in mid-air, it wd have been addressed to "Cloud #19687, mid-Atlantic, 30,000 feet"

And of course it was addressed to a synagogue. What did they expect "Mohammed the Evil Terrorist, Apartment 2... The Bronx, New York, New York"? Unattended luggage looks like a bomb (and has since the IRA days) a package has to look like it belongs to someone and is going somewhere. The FBI probably watch all packages addressed to the White House, the Pentagon, the Senate etc. Send it somewhere anonymous. This is really basic stuff. If I really wanted to bomb a synagogue, I wouldn't do so by air mail - too much chance of the bomb being sniffed and scanned or sent to the wrong place or blowing up in transit.

10/31/2010 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I'll go away soon, promise. But there's a very fine streak of comments starting here and continuing past Tim Worstall. Nick is quite breathtakingly (cliche, change- Ed) wrong about everything. Economics, Apple, street view. I love the people who pointed out that the women's refuge could have been found by walking about and was known to taxi-drivers, journalists, the police (who IIRC have a slightly disproportionate rate of domestic abuse) etc. I walked past an estate agent last night which had my next door neighbour's house for sale. And my house is clearly visible in the photo! Horrors! You can even see my cats. This has been going on for years, ever since estate agents acquired Polaroids. How StreetView changes this, fuck knows.

10/31/2010 05:09:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Finally, the zen minimalism is more like that of the really expensive end of the market. Your 99p shop is loaded with stuff. Tiffany's (not that I've ever been there), isn't.

yeh maybe I need to rethink my comments there. I guess what i was thinking is that for some, maybe the lack of anything on the homepage might lead to the conclusion that it's not a business but a kind of collective thing like wikipedia, as it doesn't seem to be selling anything at the outset. But you've pretty much convinced me.

I love the people who pointed out that the women's refuge could have been found by walking about and was known to taxi-drivers, journalists, the police (who IIRC have a slightly disproportionate rate of domestic abuse) etc.

This, for me, is where Nick and Aaro overlap. Both of them consider this stuff to be privileged knowledge, just like the wikileaks business (Cohen's main gripe with that is that journos weren't allowed to see it first, and thus filter it into digestible chunks / cover up the bits that make the Coalition look bad / cover the whole thing up cos it deviates from the 'just war' idea / etc). I sincerely doubt that Nick wouldn't want to know the location of this place if he was a reporter; it's the fact that anyone is allowed to konw which irks him. The problem with this is that Nick has this ridiculous rose-tinted view of his profession where nobody ever writes or anything other than completely morally pure reasons. I heard Kelvin MacKenzie on the radio last night.

we've discussed the problems with this 'privileged knowledge' approach several times on here - the most glaring in this case seems, to me at least, to be the fact that the importance of journos kind of relies on them being specialists in, well, anything - thus local crime reports might know where this refuge is for reporting reasons, thus Afghan correspondents might know which wikileak could put people in peril and which couldn't (I don't buy that argument at all, but still). But Nick and Aaro aren't really specialists in anything, any more, as Nick's output on football and technology (and the arts, and foreign policy, etc) demonstrates.

I'm still, by the way, not entirely convinced by this 'women's refuge on street view' thing. There's very little on google news about it and the only source still seems to be this one MP.

11/01/2010 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Been Tweeting this, but it's high comedy in Decentville over Jon Stewart's March To Restore Sanity. Hundreds of trendy liberals in vaguely political action? We can't have that! Quick, Jihadism-detection agents, to the Twatmobile to sniff out treachery!

Aha! And what have we here? Why, Cat Stevens played a song as part of the show! In quick succession, both Nick... http://tinyurl.com/28qhsos And a poorly-disguised David T... http://tinyurl.com/27cxhvw ...Steam in and start issuing calls to disassociate and denounce.

To be clear, neither Nick nor David T. have bothered doing any leg-work here. They've picked up the ball tossed out by America's most lunatic right-wing bloggers... http://tinyurl.com/2wq4acf And are running with it as fast as their little legs can carry them. They're doing Michelle Malkin's dirty work for her.

Readers are invited to guess whether this is a principled objection to the blah blah of liberal blah fart or whether it's just a transparent attempt to force their fuck-awful politics onto a bunch of people only vaguely aware who Cat Stevens was, let alone is.

Oh, and remember - Nick and the HP boys might have opposed the invasion of Iraq, had the antiwar side not included some Muslims with dodgy views.

(Plus, good news - Nick Cohen says he's thinking of "giving up" on us. Given that he's been calling us Jihadist-fellating, rapist-coddling, mass-murderer-loving fascist pinko thugs for almost a decade, I appreciate his patience up to this point).

11/01/2010 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick Cohen says he's thinking of "giving up" on us.

Does he mean quitting journalism, or simply getting round to finally embracing the bunch of dodgy pro-war neocons he's been shilling for during most of last ten years? And is he sure it will be our loss if he does 'give up'? Will the Harryettes throw themselves on to a flaming pile of Cohen's books out of grief?

[redpesto]

11/01/2010 10:59:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Semi O/T but this is a splendid use of streetmap.

I'm not a great fan of the Register, but it strikes the right sceptical note.

Oh, finally read that 'Giving up' blog. Weird. I mean, I'm not keen on Cat Stevens either, but the point of the rally was rubbing along with people regardless of their views. Stewart says as much in his closing speech, talking about the basic civility necessary for living in a city.

Is it even worth mentioning that Jon Stewart is Jewish?

11/01/2010 04:42:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

God, that Cat Stevens stuff. Coming from a bunch of Morrissey fans it's pretty rich as well.

I also love the 'now the tea party might have extremists, but...' stuff too. a tea party member who is running for office is at least suspected (and afaict totally guilty) of murdering two unarmed Iraqi civilians for example.

Cohen:

He has tried to wiggle out of it and issued all kinds of denials, but here he is justifying murder.

hmm, yeh, justifying murder. I can't think of anyone else who you could throw that accusation at... Maybe Nick's favourite American politician, John 'bomb Iran' McCain?

And whatever the tea-party-enablers at HP sauce think, a lot of the political rallies which they approve of would be in serious trouble if anyone 'justifying murder' wasn't allowed to attend or contribute - I'm thinking about TP ideas on abortion clinics, for example...

that street view thing is ace. And i tihnk the register thing is on the money - the Lancaster side of the argument is pretty fucking weak. If you're going to bring that stuff out in the open as a complaint, I'm not sure it's going to aid anonymity... of course, this stuff seems pretty incompatible with nick's other views on libel laws, free speech etc.

11/01/2010 05:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Lobby Ludd said...

I do not understand what the issue with street view and women's refuges is. Street view shows pictures of houses etc. Refuges are houses which do not advertise their purpose. I may well live near a refuge, it won't advertise its purpose, but I may well guess at it if I notice comings and goings there.

So if I'm in the right place at the right time, I might identify a refuge. How do I identify a building as a refuge using street view? (Not that I wish to.)

11/01/2010 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Rooney. Contra Kuper, he's not just professional pursuing his own interest in the normal way, unless contract negotiations are usually carried out by gangsters and pursued by declaring that you want to leave the club (and then changing your mind next day). Which they're not.

Nor would Rooney receive less media attention were he Spanish (do me a favour Simon) and nor are fans one-dimensional entities who simply expect players to be unrealistically loyal.

Kuper's piece is a collection of sterotypes and straw men cobbled together to say "stop complaining", and it just adds to the general insult to the intelligence which the whole Rooney episode has constitued.

11/02/2010 10:55:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree ejh. It's a continuation of the reaction that set off in the early 1990's against the stereotypes and cliches of 'traditional' sports journalism and broadcasting. Unfortunately those reactions very rapidly turned either into stereotypes of their own or simple contrarinarianism, as Kuper's article demonstrates here.

Igor Belanov

11/02/2010 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Given what HP poster-boy Jeffrey Goldberg has been writing about Julian Assange, I'd have thought "justifying murder" was something the decents should have little problem with.

Incidentally, has there been a *single* British decent response to the latest Wikileaks yet? Given the time that's elapsed you'd think they'd have got round to formulating some thoughts on Frago 242 etc by now.

11/02/2010 12:31:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Nick, riled an' ornery, an' itchin' to give them libruls a lickin...

http://standpointmag.co.uk/node/3554

To reiterate - Nick is taking an entirely genuine and principled stance here. He's not just grabbing the first crock of shit that he's hauled off one of the many wingnut blogs he reads in order to tip a bucket of jihaddy-dirt over any vaguely-lefty activity that isn't committed to denunciation of his various bugbears.

Ironically, the theme of the day was "I disagree with you, but I'm pretty sure you're not Hitler". Does Nick know this? My guess is that he does, but he doesn't care.

11/02/2010 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

It's just occurred to me that this issue brings together the four things Nick most enjoys - WHINING about "liberals" ; CONDEMNING Muslim thought-criminals; FAILING TO UNDERSTAND satire and/or comedy and DEMANDING that individuals dissociate themselves from (x).

No wonder he's all over this, it's like Christmas and birthday at the same time. As I've observed elsewhere, the only people who care are a) Nick, b) HP and c) A very, very large number of America's most insane right-wing lunatics.

Obviously and as usual, this is surely a sign that the left has lost its way.

11/02/2010 01:31:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's quite remarkable if you actually watch Yusuf Islam /Cat Steven's strumming through "Peace Train" at Jon Stewart's rally and try and match it up to the terrifying Islamonazi summoned up in the fevered decent mind. It may be of course that Stewart was interested in getting Yusuf to perform because, I think, he was deported from the US of A in 2004 when a "spelling error" made them think he was a terrorist.

11/02/2010 02:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh and by the by, Cat says on his website "I never called for the death of Salman Rushdie; nor backed the Fatwa issued by the Ayatollah Khomeini and still don’t. ", although he does say "The book itself destroyed the harmony between peoples and created an unnecessary international crisis."

http://www.yusufislam.com/faq/3ed8ab9cb40dcd15dc38b7f0efc2f696/

11/02/2010 02:17:00 PM  
Anonymous belle le triste said...

Has Jeffrey Goldberg written about Assange? JONAH Goldberg has indeed wondered out loud why Assange is still alive -- though he claimed not to be "calling for" this. As Nick is a fan of Jonah G's this is every bit as pertinent.

11/02/2010 02:21:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Nick is right about Apple: it is so hip, it is above mockery. It's the anti-establishment company...

On Jon Stewart etc, a commenter named "Daniel Davies" (hmm) makes a good point here.

Such a good point, in fact, I've used freezepage.com in case this sentence gets edited:

They are free to justify threats to novelists or the oppression of women, gays, free-thinkers etc. if — and only if — the novelists, apostates, women, gays, free thinkers etc. have brown rather than white skins.

As this DD person says:

"Brown skins?" Yusuf Islam has an Arabic name, but he's actually British, with a Greek Cypriot father and a Swedish mother.

BTW, Nick claims that this is all Salman Rushdie has to say:

I spoke to Jon Stewart about Yusuf Islam's appearance. He said he was sorry it upset me, but really, it was plain that he was fine with it. Depressing.

As 'habibi' notes in the comments to this Harry's Place post (datestamped 31 October 2010, 10:37 pm)

Oh really? I bet the vast majority know him for “Peace Train” and have no idea where his Islam has taken him over the years.

I have to say that that sounds right.

11/02/2010 03:17:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Quite right - sorry for confusing my Jeffreys with my Jonahs.

11/02/2010 03:20:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Looks like that second cohen page has been taken down. i wonder why... Nick's not really a cautious blogger is he. That might be a good thing, i guess.

Just to add - again - Nick is pretty weird if focusing on 'justifying murder'. He's got ome mates who are clearly guilty of this - and he himself is, in a sense, what with Iraq and all. As a recent link on here says, war inevitably involves horrendous suffering and, indeed, murder. I recently saw 'Blasted' and would urge everyone else to. I bet Nick wouldn't like it...

11/02/2010 05:18:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

No, it's just the Standpoint website being down. It's blocked by a firewall for some reason...

Besides, it's cross-posted (you know where.

11/02/2010 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

1. Hamas (/Hezbo?) antisemitic in a meaningful sense? Well, the excessive zeal of those asserting this tends to make me less sure. BTW I detect a worrying upsurge in Gallocidal sentiment, should anyone wish to fixate on it and scour teh blogs and old bits of rhetoric for it. Though actually to go in some kind of full-circle, perhaps there is good reason to hate the arrogant, effete, onion-draped bastards.

2. Journos' privileges based on knowledge of specialist subject-matter? It used to be that they were trusted to report things (e.g. what sources say) without having to provide proof. The idea being they had professional ethics and were embedded in professional organisations. Deciding how accurate that picture (a) used to be, (b) is now, is left as an exercise.

3. Why is Assange still alive? Though I think the Q. as posed in context probably was indeed disappointed, hopeful, even exhortatory, it is actually not an entirely bad one in its own right, if that is not too cloak-and-dagger to pass amateur psych. screening (the more circumspect false rape charge does appear to have been tried). So far as that's right, I'd guess the reason is a. publicity/high profile (unlike those idiots, esp. in films like The Ghost, who find out dreadful things, then keep them, and the fact they know them and intend to reveal them, secret from everyone except the baddies.); b. if (a) isn't enough, that 'insurance' file.

(4. (2) has just reminded me of something from ages ago - someone said blogging was parasitic on journalism. I thought that relied on (a) question-begging by thinking only in terms of news-based blogging and that based on criticising journo commentators; (b) devastating critique - journalism too is 'parasitic' on other journalism, esp the agencies, as is anything related to current affairs, Wikipedia etc., and indeed the 2nd and subsequent drafts of history.

11/03/2010 09:54:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

The Ghost was the book, the Ghostwriter the rather rote film. Checking the book, I found that the ending was much better, with the author saying "if you are reading this I should be pleased because it got out, but pissed off because I'm probably dead". One out of two is something I suppose

11/03/2010 09:59:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Deciding how accurate that picture (a) used to be

You cannot hope to bribe or twist
Thank God! The British journalist -
But seeing what the man will do
Unbribed, there's no occasion to

11/03/2010 10:25:00 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

Gosh, Farah Damji is getting guest poster treatment at Harry's Place. Presumably either a) they haven't googled the name, or b) they have, and don't think that the results matter.

11/03/2010 11:21:00 AM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

dd, they had another guest post by Damji a couple of months ago so I don't think they are unaware of her identity. It certainly caused a great deal of outrage amongst certain commenters, partly because of the actual argument she was making but more so because of who she is. The comments seem to be a bit more restrained this time.
TBH, it's not an issue I feel particularly strongly about either way but fair play to HP for giving her a platform, especially as the outraged reaction was entirely predictable.

11/03/2010 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

Actually, I just did a quick search at HP and this is her fourth guest post.

11/03/2010 12:55:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

ejh indeed. Also, this from David Leigh.

11/03/2010 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Blimey (again):

President Macaroon has capitulated it appears, to the toxic hot potato which the last administration tossed around

President Macaroon eh? And they say satire is dead.

11/03/2010 04:11:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Also, Andrew:

It certainly caused a great deal of outrage amongst certain commenters, partly because of the actual argument she was making but more so because of who she is.

Same old, same old at Harry's Place. Why even think about an argument, just worry about who is making it? This is pretty much the approach of the other post on granting prisoners the right to vote (or, more accurately, recognising, same). This is also, of course, where the post above started.

11/03/2010 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Same old, same old at Harry's Place.

Well I never...

11/03/2010 04:32:00 PM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

CC, it might be a bit more understandable in the case of the Hirst post as he does seem to be BACAI in a big way. Although maybe no more so than some of the commenters (see also here).

But even so, unless one thinks that convicted criminals should have no rights whatsoever then it is not only legitimate for people to campaign on their behalf, even if it means standing up for rapists, murderers etc., but it must also be legitimate for prisoners to campaign on their own behalf.

11/03/2010 06:24:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Well, yes, he does seem rather unpleasant, but that doesn't alter the facts. I really don't understand why prisoners can't vote. For one thing, who is in government affects them (in a sense, and in a sense, not, because they're all the same - governments that is, not prisoners), for another, even if Andrew Niel's argument made sense - that prisoners have certain rights withdrawn, voting affects the government for years - and many prisoners incarcerated in 2010 will be free by the next election. But I don't think the certain rights withdrawn does make sense. As I understand the Declaration of Human Rights articles 6 and 21 seem to be pertinent. At least I think voting is a right conditional on personhood, that once granted, can't be taken away.

Sorry, that was a wee bit off-topic. Lots of people in prison didn't murder their landlady with an axe.

And of course, sometimes you only change the world by BACAI.

Bonus off-topic, Aaro uses untypical language and again.

11/03/2010 07:52:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

Not entirely sure where I stand on the issue but it's amusing that in, say, California prisoners aren't allowed to vote on Prop. 19 because they were convicted of the crime they're not sure is a crime.

11/03/2010 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Fans of twitter were also treated to a tetchy argument between me and Aaro yesterday over the fairly ludicrous assertion that because Mr Tony Blair had originally set the process in place that led to the Browne Review, it would by hypocritical of Labour MPs to not vote in favour of it now.

11/04/2010 08:33:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I enjoyed the exchange... though i still don't really 'get' twitter.

Though I have no time at all for the Browne review, i do believe that Labour, had they won the election, would be pushing through near-identical legislation. Maybe they'll change policy comprehensively under Miliband but I kind of doubt it.

What worries me more than the fees rise is the weay it's been sold to the right-wing press: as a way to get rid of 'mickey mouse' courses, whose mickey-mouse-ness will be based on, er, how many graduates immediately find jobs in management.

Nobody, either, seems to have called up Michael Gove on his insistence that Humanities play a core role in schooling up to 18, but also his party's insistence that Humanities degrees are needless extravagances per se.

11/04/2010 08:55:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I have to say, DD, you've picked up Twitter remarkably quickly, though I thought that that tetchy exchange would have been better at greater length on both parts for clarity.

Still, I think it's to DA's credit that he does engage in public in this way and he also capable of responding appropriately. He's argued with me, been gracious to me, and called me a 'like a trauma victim' when I pointed him to this review of Voodoo Histories. I have to say that that was the first review which made me actually want to read the book.

OC, the "parasitic" thing was Oliver Kamm first I think, and me second. By which I meant that bloggers sit at their computers and generally react to stories reported by real 'out-there' journalists. *Some* columnists are better than that, but not many, and I can't see any difference between Nick's recent output and blogging, other than he knows some insiders.

11/04/2010 11:14:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nobody, either, seems to have called up Michael Gove on his insistence that Humanities play a core role in schooling up to 18, but also his party's insistence that Humanities degrees are needless extravagances per se.

Gove? Joined-up thinking? Good luck with that. The Coalition is already confused between jacking up fees to pay for HE and using higher fees (and slashed teaching budgets) to sort out the deficit; the fact that Gove believes in 'proper' A level subjects which will now incur a £40K debt to study at university is just a further example of the idiocy at the heart whatever passes for a policy on HE.

[redpesto]

11/04/2010 02:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

off topic - though I've no doubt cohen's been thinking about this - anyone noticed how the Decent community has decided to ignore the govt line on the printer-cartridge 'bombs' - focusing on their being mailed to synagogues?

I'm on a roll.

Insofar as HP is thought to be part of your 'Decent community', our initial take was based on the limited information avaialble at the time, to wit, that the cartridges were addressed to synagogues. That the intention was to blow up planes rather than places of worship is infomration that emerged sometime later. I'm not aware that the 'line' you attribute to us has since been followed.

Notwithstanding the above, the fact that the cartridges were so addressed is at least worthy of note, especially if you happen to be a practising Jew living in Illinois.

11/04/2010 03:51:00 PM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

Possibly on topic - DA in the Times today sensibly (if not Sybil Fawltishly) pointing out that Obama and the Tea Party have in common the claim to be an outsiders' meassage to Washington, but then clumsily attaches this to the idea that deal-making in Washington is Good and ideology is Bad. I'm a little surprised that The Times is still giving Matt Ridley houseroom.

More OT,Jonathan Hoffman gets upset on behalf of a friend. What's a modest lifestyle then?

11/04/2010 04:30:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Maybe the 'modest lifestyle' extends to getting decent sushi in Camden or some such. Adam Bienkov on Coleman:

http://torytroll.blogspot.com/2010/11/brian-coleman-asleep-in-mirror.html

Brownie - on the Synagogue thing -

That the intention was to blow up planes rather than places of worship is infomration that emerged sometime later.

I'd refer you to Shiraz Maher's HP Sauce post here:

http://hurryupharry.org/2010/10/30/icsr-instant-analysisal-qaeda-bomb-threat/

'instant analysis' from the 30th October at 5.43 pm, the same time every UK newspaper was, er, reporting that they were designed to blow up planes. followed by reams of comments about how the UK media hates tehjews. and if you want to get snarky thus:

I'm not aware that the 'line' you attribute to us has since been followed.

my comment was dated the 31st - when the last HP posting on the bomb plot was, er, Maher's.

11/04/2010 04:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

OC, fair enough on the Maher post. So that's two posts, one before the salient facts emerged and one as the picture became clearer.

I'm still not getting you, though. Unless you think the packages were addressed at random and the final destination could just as easily have been Joe Schmo of 37 Acacia Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa, then why the objection to people noting the fact that the packages were addressed to Chicago synagoges?

It's since emerged that the bombs had mobile phone circuit boards attached but no SIM cards, meaning they couldn't receive incoming signals and were were to be detonated via timer. So maybe the synagogue thing was a fallback, as in, if the bombs do not go off as planned when the cargo planes are ariborne, there's at least the chance they'll detonate some point later, perhaps as they lie in the foyer of a Chicago synagoge?

I don't even know if synagogues have foyers.

11/04/2010 05:08:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Unless you think the packages were addressed at random and the final destination could just as easily have been Joe Schmo of 37 Acacia Avenue, Des Moines, Iowa, then why the objection to people noting the fact that the packages were addressed to Chicago synagoges?

I've no objection to pointing that out, and I'm presonally fairly sure you're right about the destinations as fallbacks. The cuntish people who sent these packages hate Jews.

my objection is to HP Sauce and other websites appearing to - note that, appearing to - deliberately ignore the words of British security staff over this - thus leaving Maher's (pretty shonky in general) post up without a corrective response, allowing the conspiracy theorists who populate the comments on your site free rein to cast aspersions of how much UK media hates jews yada yada yada. There have been zero postings about the bomb threat since the Maher one. Lots about Cat Stevens, though. Wonder if we can infer anything about the HP Sauce worldview from that.

11/04/2010 05:16:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

I like how Maher's instantly assured of it being "al-Qaeda". Bomb - Middle East - close enough.

11/04/2010 08:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

BenSix,

But it was, wasn't it? As in, AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula).

11/04/2010 09:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

There have been zero postings about the bomb threat since the Maher one.

So you're waiting for the 'don't-panic-Jews...the-bombs-may-have-been-addressed-to-synagogues-but-we-can-reveal-the-real-targets-were-cargo-planes' post?

11/04/2010 09:04:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

I think a few don't-panic-Jews posts might be beneficial as a counterbalance to the huge amount of Okay-everybody-shit-your-pants-in-mortal-terror posts. It might even cause a slight reduction in the number of wingnut lunatics an race-obsessed dingbats you have to deal with on a daily basis.

11/04/2010 09:16:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

Brownie -

They - whoever they are - are suspected but I don't believe in taking the intelligence service's word as gospel.

11/05/2010 12:54:00 AM  
Anonymous dd said...

I mildly remonstrated with "Lucy Lips" that the post title "Booth to Sue, Ashtiani to Hang" was a) not in the best of taste and b) seemed to imply that these two stories were of equal importance. He went ballistic.

11/05/2010 09:41:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

My last reply didn't work so am trying again as this is pertinent. Response from Lucy Lips - who is David Toube btw - to BB:

Fuck off dsquared

Articles about Ashtiani on your blog = 0

Articles about the Islamic Republic of Iran’s propaganda station on your blog = 0


From this we can infer that the people who run HP Sauce - the most prominent one, in fact, David Toube - believes that the acid test of a serious blog is how many posts it carries on particular issues. and in the case on the printer-cartridge bombs, the only two ones on HP Sauce are the aforementioned ones peddling utterly inaccurate information.

or to use Lucy Toube's method:

number of articles on HP Sauce detailing the actual facts of the printer cartridge incident = 0

Number of articles on HP Sauce peddling inaccurate versions of the printer cartridge incident = 2

I wonder what Lucy Toube thinks of that?

11/05/2010 09:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

From this we can infer that the people who run HP Sauce - the most prominent one, in fact, David Toube - believes that the acid test of a serious blog is how many posts it carries on particular issues.

If you completely ignore the context of this exchange (see below) and the, shall we say 'history' between the blogs represented by the parties in question, then you could, at a push, possibly infer that.

My guess, however, is that LL took exception to being lectured on how to present a specific story by another blogger who, er, hasn't bothered to cover that story himself.

In fact, the more I think about it, the more likely this explanation is.

For the record, I'm not in the business of telling anybody what they should blog about. It's neither to DD's credit nor his detriment that the blogs he authors haven't covered this particular story.

Number of articles on HP Sauce peddling inaccurate versions of the printer cartridge incident = 2

Yeah, I think you might be confusing "inaccurate" with "emphasising aspects of the story that I, personally, would not focus on."

From this, can we infer that you think there is only one way to cover a story i.e. your way?

11/05/2010 10:42:00 AM  
Anonymous skidmarx said...

Has anyone suggested the possibility that with the bombs on the planes having a final destination at synagogues, AQAP might think they were getting a twofer, and weren't really bothered where they exploded?

11/05/2010 10:47:00 AM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

They - whoever they are - are suspected but I don't believe in taking the intelligence service's word as gospel

Well that's fair enough, but what isn't fair enough is:

I like how Maher's instantly assured of it being "al-Qaeda".

when all he's doing is picking up on what happens to be, currently at least, the official word on who was responsible.

If you want to caution Maher that it's possible the official word may change later, that is one thing. But making out that Maher's gone off half-cocked when all he's doing is picking up on what we're being told, is quite another.

11/05/2010 10:48:00 AM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

Brownie -

I don't think it's wise or fair to trust these official words. Assuming they're reliable enough to gloss with certitude is going half-cocked.

11/05/2010 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony Blair seems to be of the oinion that Phil Woolas is a thoroughly "decent" MP. Is this true:

Blair backs ‘tough and decent’ Woolas

http://www.oldham-chronicle.co.uk/news-features/8/news-headlines/40656/blair-backs-tough-and-decent-woolas

:)

johnf

11/05/2010 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Brownie, up thread:

My guess, however, is that LL took exception to being lectured on how to present a specific story by another blogger who, er, hasn't bothered to cover that story himself.

AaroWatch isn't a general blog. We don't cover everything, nor do we feel remotely obliged to. I'm not going to speak for Dan; he can do just fine by himself. Like many others, I retweeted a link to the petition (for whatever little that's worth) along with a plea to sign. I also signed. I'm not sure there is a story to cover that goes beyond that. Signing a petition may have some little effect: it at least adds to a joint effort. Writing a wanky blog post - to me - does nothing but puff one's own self-importance.

And, there's an organisation that campaigns against the death penalty (at least two - Ed). Apart from Reprieve, there's Amnesty.

Still, better to write an ineffectual blog post than to contribute something useful, eh?

11/05/2010 08:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see David Toube and his chums have now resorted to redbaiting the BBC NUJ strikers and Paul mason in particular.

http://hurryupharry.org/2010/11/06/paul-mason-on-the-picket-line/

I think I might be out on a limb here, but is this a new low for a website that quotes proud NUJ member, George Orwell?

11/06/2010 11:11:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Indeed, Anon (we really do prefer that you leave a name; anonymous cowardice is for that other *kerching* blog). Just read that myself.

Brownie, if you read this, here's your cross-poster 'More Media Nonsense' in the comments:

Well NUJ member, personally I’m proud to have a go at anyone who associates with the SWP.

This remains my main complaint against Harry's Place: never mind the argument, look who's making it. And then kick them.

*Has idea for sub-Viz cartoon: Harry's Ad Hominems. Pretty much this but with 'Stopper!' 'Anti-semite' 'SWP' instead.

Also, unions, eh? Wanting money for their members. Bloody cheek, why if they all worked for free, think of what the BBC could do then. We don't want Harry's Place supporting unions who go on *strike*.

11/06/2010 11:20:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Do you know, I broke the habit of it-seems-like-a-lifetime and actually looked at that Paul Mason poat.

Christ, how vile.

Still, that's the annual visit to the zoo over and done with.

11/06/2010 12:11:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

Well NUJ member, personally I’m proud to have a go at anyone who associates with the SWP.

Proud? Heavens. Well, I guess we all need comfort mechanisms.

11/06/2010 12:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

I'm amused to discover that I'm apparently an associate of the SWP.

That article is vile, but then everything written by More Media Nonsense is. The kind of stuff you'd see in the Spectator, or the Mail. I guess its a sign of how far gone HP is that they don't notice. I really don't understand why they think they're still on the left. A couple of their associates, fair enough (I don't particularly like that ModernityBlog guy, but he is recognizably left wing), but HP? Baffling.

11/07/2010 03:19:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

What I don't understand is why support for "totalitarianism" renders one untouchable but cheerleading on behalf of states that share some of the worst traits of dictatorships but hold occasional elections is quite divinely "moderate".

11/07/2010 04:45:00 PM  
OpenID yorksranter said...

Nick Cohen, meanwhile, has suddenly discovered the value of lawyers after all those years of wanking about human rights, etc.

11/07/2010 07:03:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I didn't bother to read it until now. Blair has praised Woolas' "toughness", now he can praise Cohen's chutzpah. Great clanking balls! Some gems:

Islington is my corner of London and, contrary to stereotype, latte-slurping, croissant-nibbling liberals do not fill its every street.

Who put that rumour about? Any guesses?

I have learned that there is little point in leftists denigrating volunteers, particularly if they are scoffing at those who are more willing than they are to give money and time to others.

Again, which leftist denigrated volunteers?

Public-school conservatives are in power, however, not the left, and their prejudices matter more.

Does he know that Blair went to Fettes?

And so on. He has a point about the mentally ill and those unable to take care of themselves, etc.

Should I ever be invited to Who's Who, I must remember to list my pastimes as "slurping lattes", and "denigrating volunteers".

11/07/2010 07:15:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Me again, off to an dinner party, but everyone should enjoy the comment by censoredbyyou @ 7 November 2010, 5:22 pm on this jolly Harry's Place post. Breath of fresh air and all that (/sarcasm). HP trolls are lovely aren't they? Extra point for denigrating a volunteer, by the way.

11/07/2010 07:27:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

I'm still trying to get my head around how Paxo et al are so thick that they're being duped by Paul "Red Robbo" Mason. Time for my medication.

11/07/2010 10:45:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

This redbaiting of Mason is jut rubbish (and it is clearly inspired by Toube since this is one of his pet obsession dating back a fair few years). The main - actually scratch that, the ONLY evidence - is that he held his book launch at Bookmarks.

http://www.bookmarksbookshop.co.uk/cgi/store/bookmark.cgi?page=latest.html&cart_id=3049806.29762

Peter Hain is following suit as is someone who looks like they'd otherwise be an HP fave, Elaheh Rostami-Povey.

on cohen - i like the way he says 'i wrote a few press releases' - this article is pretty much a press release. And i love the way he invents, as commenters on here have noted, new 'Islington cliches' that he can denigrate.

11/08/2010 07:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Cian said...

Yeah if you look at the wikipedia article "speaking on behalf of the SWP" means doing a book launch at Bookmarks. Red baiting indeed. There was a Paul Mason who was a member of Worker's Power, though whether its the same one...

On the other hand thanks to HP I've discovered that PM wrote a very interesting sounding book on the working class.

11/08/2010 01:14:00 PM  
Anonymous dark horse steak hache said...

In his book "Live Working or Die Fighting: How The Working Class Went Global", Paul Mason does come across as slightly sceptical about the revolutionary socialist end of the leftist spectrum.

Of course, for some people it is too much effort to read a whole book, and it's more fun to scream McCarthyite condemnation of anybody who did as much (or as little) as stand near a SWP member.

11/08/2010 05:22:00 PM  
Anonymous darkhorse steak with bernaise sauce said...

Incidentally the book was also recently published in the States, and Mason plugged it on an episode of "Democracy Now". I think Amy Goodman fancied him a bit.

http://www.democracynow.org/2010/9/24/paul_mason_on__live_working

[I am not Paul Mason's agent, by the way....]

11/08/2010 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

There was a Paul Mason who was a member of Workers' Power, though whether its the same one...

I believe it is, yes.

I don't mind anybody disliking any far-left organisation, if that's how they feel: that's just opinions. What disgusts me is the BNP comparisons. That's really foul.

11/08/2010 08:29:00 PM  
Anonymous Cian said...

It was the more the thinness of the evidence that they presented. And the connection to the SWP is pathetic.

11/08/2010 09:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

What disgusts me is the BNP comparisons. That's really foul.

I think that started with Ollie a few years ago, when he explicitly equated Communism to Fascism & hence Melita Norwood to John Tyndall. Link goes to an approving post on Paul Anderson's blog, which I stopped reading as a result.

11/08/2010 10:07:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

Violent rhetoric from anti-zionist campaigner: extremism! Violent rhetoric from pro-Israel campaigner: ah, never mind.

*Ping*

11/09/2010 02:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Also, unions, eh? Wanting money for their members. Bloody cheek, why if they all worked for free, think of what the BBC could do then. We don't want Harry's Place supporting unions who go on *strike*.

Regardless of what *you* "want", we're clear where we stand.

11/09/2010 04:26:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

PM's wikipedia entry has now been edited to show that he "has also spoken on behalf of the Socialist Workers' Party", citing his book launch at Bookmarks. FFS.

11/09/2010 05:02:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

we're clear where we stand.

'moremedianonsense' is rather less clear - or rather, takes a rather different, but very clear, stance - on the BBC strike.

appreciate it's a guest post and all, but still.

11/09/2010 05:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Brownie said...

Yeah, well, we're a broad church.

11/09/2010 05:17:00 PM  
Anonymous garry said...

"Yeah, well, we're a broad church."

This makes no sense - the whole point of HP is guilt by association. So if someone you once held the door open for doesn't like the Bee Gees you are by implication an anti-Bee Gees extremist.

11/09/2010 06:02:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

O/t - Okay, I'm not a fan of the EU, but Christ...

According to Mr Van Rompuy, the idea that a country can survive alone is not merely an illusion: ‘It is a lie!’

He has clearly never heard of the ­Battle of Britain.


http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1328579/Herman-Van-Rompuy-The-end-Britain-nation-state.html

11/11/2010 01:15:00 PM  

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