Thursday, December 06, 2007

A short miscellany

Nick Cohen on Decentiya:

"There’s much more, and, as always, it’s worth reading the whole thing. Alan Johnson edits this extraordinary magazine from a study in Kendal. He has no budget and no staff, just an irrepressible willingness to fight the battle of ideas. There’s a ‘donate’ icon in the top right hand corner of the home page. If you are in need of a good cause this Christmas, give it a click. "

alternatively, polar bears are pretty cute.

In related news, not online yet but Nick's most recent Standard column is a peach. He details how at the Christmas party of Policy Exchange, along with the champagne-quaffing Tories were a load of policy wonks, thinktankers etc all nominally allied to Labour, and surmises that they are waiting to see if the wind is changing before going over to Cameron. Which of course raises the question - what were you doing there, Nick?

Could someone watch this, please, and send us a review in by email. Thankyouverymuch.

Oh yeah, "Aaronovitch Watch"! We used to do that, didn't we? More blah about how we can't judge our betters, except now that it's Brown rather than Blair, yes we can.


Blogger Justin said...

Couldn't Finkelstein and Aaro just wandered over to the water cooler and had that conversation with themselves? Do you think they have walkie talkies in the office as well, instead of waddling over to each other's desks? Finkelstein obviously thinks this technology is The. Coolest. Thing. Ever. He just won't let it lie.

And is it just me or does Finkelstein look like a slightly sleepy baby orang-utan?

12/06/2007 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But doesn't it say that Decentiya is a 'journal based at Edge Hill University'? This doesn't imply that it is entirely a home-made journal produced from Alan 'not the minister' Johnson's bedroom in his spare time.

12/06/2007 10:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick doesn't always post his Evening Standard columns on his website. They are generally a bit more right wing than his Observer ones. Recently he had a whole column begging Boris Johnson to campaign more effectively and beat Ken. He also called for people to vote for "green, libdem, tory" or indeed anything but Ken for mayor in the most recent Time Out

12/06/2007 01:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

actually yes, wtf Kendal? Edge Hill is on the outskirts of Liverpool. That's a fuck of a commute from half way up the Lake District.

12/06/2007 01:41:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

There's the M6. Obviously they are defying the cosy pseudoleft consensus on so-called oil.

Further, Gary Farber is starving again, so may I suggest he's a more appropriate object of charity than comfy polydemic NTM or 50k boy.

12/06/2007 02:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

At least Aaro more or less admits that he got the Blair documentary because he is a toady (makes a joke of it). He also admits that he couldn't get many Brownites to put their side of the story.

So it was clearly a very 'in-house' Blairite production. Not sure what real investigative value it has.

The whole twofer thing with Finkelstein is clearly ridiculous if they are in the same office, as Justin notes, and its all annoyingly chummy.

12/06/2007 05:40:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In an earlier life, if anyone had told Aaro that he would wind up having a cosy chat with a grinning Tory boy like Finkelstein in a Murdoch newspaper office, after having completed a fawning documentary series on a Prime Minister responsible for war and privatisation, he would have laughed.

12/06/2007 06:16:00 PM  
Blogger Benjamin said...

Well, a little digging reveals that Alan Johnson, Decent dynamo that he may be, is not solely responsible for Democratiya.

There is a board of over 40 'advisory editors' (who presumably advise and edit). One of these advisory editors is... Nick Cohen.

I am sure the publication is funded quite adequately. It is only published on the web, and the website looks pretty inexpensive.

There don't seem to be many details about how the website is funded, perhaps there should be a bit more disclosure on the actual site. The same goes for the Euston Group.

12/06/2007 06:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I doubt it takes up much of his time, given that there are four a year and a lot of the material is recycled anyway, but the reference to Edge Hill does suggest he considers it a quasi-academic project rather than a little bedroom hobby.

Personally I'd like to see a piece from him on why he thought the Iraq war was wrong (as apparently he did). He seems to have comprehensively swallowed the pro-war bill of goods in every other respect, including the "good vs evil" narrative and the advocacy of promiscuous military action to impose democracy from above, so I wonder what exactly it was about Iraq that prompted his opposition. (Perhaps he was an Ian McEwan-type Decent, lamenting the war but also lamenting that the anti-war protesters didn't look solemn enough.)

12/06/2007 07:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Simon: "But doesn't it say that Decentiya is a 'journal based at Edge Hill University'? This doesn't imply that it is entirely a home-made journal produced from Alan 'not the minister' Johnson's bedroom in his spare time."

[Old Joke} Have you been to Edge Hill University?[/Old Joke]

But seriously - I'm sure Edge Hill is very nice, but it's actually based in Ormskirk, which technically Lancashire rather than the outskirts of Liverpool

12/06/2007 07:21:00 PM  
Blogger belle le triste said...

an underpaid sub-editor comments:
in my experience advisory editors may read and advise (=bloviate) a bit, but they do VERY LITTLE editing (= actual meat-and-potatoes time-consuming work on the grammar, structure, pigs-ear-to-silk-purse stuff, rewrite and/or sense-pursuit to flesh out the "advice" the board has been giving) (ie they add to the workload as much as they diminish it)

this isn't always the case, but usually they are there as a kind of advertising hoarding, meaning "the type of people we would like to think are our eager readers"

12/06/2007 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger The Couscous Kid said...

but the reference to Edge Hill does suggest he considers it a quasi-academic project

Do you think that was inserted because someone's planning to submit something from D. to the RAE, and they're trying to make it look academically respectable? That would be very, very funny.

12/06/2007 08:07:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

The Finkelstein and Aaro thing is merely bizarre. Aaro is actually quite impressive. The Aaronovitch article, however, is Z- stuff. He'd have been better off ignoring politics and talking about disappearing canoeists. I can't see the relevance of the Zidane reference; it just doesn't apply at all. And whatever one thinks of the Tories, surely their rising stars can in fact visit the apartments of friends? If 'emerging from a flat which does not contain [one's] wife' spells political death, we're all doomed. Also the recent instance of this that I can recall was Robin Cook who may have been bounced into leaving his wife by Alastair Campbell. The press kept quiet when easily recognisable John Major visited easily recognisable Edwina Currie for example. Cecil Parkinson sank his career not by having an affair, but by being stupid enough to get his mistress pregnant. Affairs, per se, don't really bother anyone. Bill Clinton, cigars, stained dresses notwithstanding (but that was attempted assassination by his enemies and in the White House as opposed to a private home).

12/06/2007 09:03:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

"Cecil Parkinson sank his career not by having an affair, but by being stupid enough to get his mistress pregnant. "

And then putting an injunction on his mistress so that she couldn't mention the affair, or child, to the press. He claimed it was for his daughter's sake, but given that he didn't pay child support, or see her, this seems unlikely.

12/07/2007 01:40:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is about stopping Iran having the capability to produce nukes. We all know this so stop lying.

12/07/2007 06:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I tried to download the "Twofer" but it always froze at 4 mins 19 seconds. It didn't seem worthwhile trying to fix whatever problem there was to get the other 4 minutes as not much had happened in the first 4 minutes. (BTW why clog up the internet with this video stuff, it would only have taken 2 seconds to download it as printed text and you'd have seen instantly how many of the words were superfluous?)

Aaaro admitted in a joking sort of way that it all happened because he was a lickspittle Blairite: he knew a press officer in number 10 (presuambly before Blair resigned) who said "why not make a proposal?" and he did and (lo and behold!) it got accepted and he put the concept to a production company who put it to the BBC. So it was Aaro's idea and Blair's idea all along (which makes it very funny that someone from the BBC tried to defend it on CiF).

12/07/2007 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Cian, oh I agree totally: Parkinson was a complete shit. But it was that - being a shit - not having an affair which killed his career. Being seen leaving the wrong flat doesn't make much of a splash. The exception being Robin Cook who was told the tabloids would run the story (actually, IIRC, it was Cook's secretary leaving his house to feed the meter) by Alastair Campbell, who just coincidentally heard first and thought to advise Cook (talented, intelligent Labour MP and serious rival to AC's master) as a friend. Of course.

Terry, what the hell are you talking about? Is Decentiya all about stopping Iran producing nuclear weapons or do Daniel Finkelstein's interviews have some kind of covert purpose? And two questions: how can a fourteenth century anti-science state whose citizens all believe the world is flat produce nuclear weapons anyway? What are you worried about? All we have to do is rename uranium Mohammedium and the entire Islamist nuclear programme implodes! Secondly, and I'm semi-serious here, following Daniel Finkelstein's comment about supermarkets being better than the NHS, why does Iran have to *produce* nuclear weapons anyway? The development programme is slow, dangerous, and expensive. We have two states (the US and Russia) which have too many nuclear arms and believe in the market. Why not trade? Both states want more oil. Let everyone have nuclear weapons (isn't this what Bush believes re guns?) and the market can decide the price. Or do you believe that only white nations (Britain, France, the US, Russia, Israel - and OK, India and China) can be responsible?

12/07/2007 03:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Edge Hill is one station east of Liverpool Lime Street one the stopping train, and this is some distance from Ormskirk. Is it usual for these 7th geneeration universities to be some distance from where you'd think they would be?

12/08/2007 12:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Only at Aaronovitch Watch do you get these questions answered. Basically it's a teacher training college that opened up in yer actual Edge Hill, but moved to Ormskirk in the 1930s and kept the name. Then amagamated itself with a bunch of other TTCs around the North West and got university status. Then became home to one of the post prestigious international journals of Decency.

12/08/2007 09:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

btw, anonymous is correct about the geographical location of Edge Hill as the last stop before Lime Street, which is why "to get off at Edge Hill" is local slang for coitus interruptus, something which might quite possibly find itself in an AW post at some point in the future.

12/08/2007 09:33:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Incidentally people want to try certain London hospitals - when I applied for (and subsequently got) a library job in Charing Cross Hospital I had no idea I would be working in Hammersmith. Meanwhile, Hammersmith Hospital is in Acton.

12/10/2007 08:43:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

But presumably, despite Edge Hill University being the home to a leading international journal of Decency, the journal doesn't have the seal of approval of the University and it isn't a real, peer-reviewed academic journal. Or is it?

12/10/2007 05:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's a journal of book reviews so I'm not sure what meaning "peer reviewed" might have in this context. The official university status isn't clear to me - it uses the Edge Hill logo and says "based at", which presumably wouldn't be done without the university's consent. Interestingly, the correspondence address is Alan NTM c/o "Edge Hill College of Further Education", so I'm guessing that they got university status subsequent to the founding of Decentiya (or at least, subsequent to ANTMJ's writing the Democratiya "About Us" page). Good luck to them I say; I can't speak for offical AW policy but personally I'm all in favour of new universities and against old uni snobbery.

12/11/2007 05:12:00 PM  
Blogger cian said...

"t isn't a real, peer-reviewed academic journal"

Plenty of rubbish journals are peer-reviewed. It rather depends upon the quality of the peers...

12/11/2007 08:09:00 PM  

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