Friday, December 19, 2008

"Our new man in town to fight political correctness" bows the knee?

Via BorisWatch, Nick's new mate, the previously watched immigration crank Anthony Browne (one of the Anthony Browne twins, as noted by Matthew) has done a big letter about how deep down, where it counts, he doesn't really think that Britain is being swamped by TB-carrying immigrants who want to re-establish the Caliphate. Or something. This is how we do local politics down in Borisland, by the way - we keep it trivial and keep it stupid. Ask me about what we're doing with those fucking Routemaster buses.

But Nick must be feeling a right mug today, with Browne basically walking away from all the articles he praised him for. Anthony Browne, Andrwe Gilligan, Nick Cohen - they were the Associated Newspapers/Policy Exchange Posse, all giving it large with the right wing platitudes and then fainting away with "But I am a laydeee liberal!!!" together. Now Browne has left that doughty crew. Or is it just the case that the PC Mafia have got to him? Has the hold Browne finally been bullied and intimidated into giving up on The Greatest Intellectual Struggle Of Our Time? I will read Nick's Sunday col with baited breath!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This begs two questions 1) If it wasn't for his journalism, why did Bo-Jo appoint him? and 2) Given that Browne has not recanted almost everything he oversaw while there, what is Policy Exchange for? is it really just a 'senior Cameronite finishing school'?

Nick Cohen looks spectacularly stupid based on his ill-advised trust in the virtues of Policy Exchange - and this is not the first time either...

Methinks the insincere-looking recantation might have something to do with journalists getting ready to make Browne's works more 'prominent', maybe in the London press. The honeymoon is well and truly over for Boris - big transport fare rises (the one thing the Standard is guaranteed to find no good in), countered with a much-needed saving of, um, a fiver a year in council tax. It's not going to be a good year for him and this smacks, like so many other actions Boris has overseen as mayor, of pre-empting something that was going to be forced.

12/19/2008 04:42:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

What's going on in the last couple of sentences?

12/19/2008 10:39:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The last couple of sentences reflect my attempt at a comic conceit whereby I envisage Nick being scandalised at Browne's craven decision to disavow his immigrant-bashing politics.

12/20/2008 12:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OT, does Aaro Watch have anything to say about Conor Cruise O'Brien's death? He was a kind of early Decentist, insofar as he had a distinguished early career espousing broadly leftish politics, then degenerating into a tedious contrarian reactionary towards the end of his life - a strong critic of 'political violence' (but only when utilised in causes he opposed) and 'nationalism' (except in the case of Israel, where he signed up wholesale and uncritically to the national mythology he was careful to debunk elsewhere).

A big influence on Kamm, in particular.

12/20/2008 01:42:00 AM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Simon, that's a bit OT for us. However, the good chaps of Crooked Timber have a post up. And the word 'Decentism' even appears in a comment. What more could you want?

12/20/2008 03:33:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought he might be on topic as part of the general World of Decency.

12/20/2008 04:26:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

I think he's above the world of Decency for several reasons. He had real Foreign Affairs experience; he actually DID diplomacy before writing about it. I don't know about you, but everyone I consider Decent is essentially an ivory-tower theoretician, and among the last people you'd want in charge of anything. CCO'B gave 'The Observer' some heft when he wrote for it; there was an intelligent man writing about what he knew and generally leaving you wiser for it. The same can't be said for DA or NC.

That's nicely put in a comment on Slugger O'Toole: He was a great journalist who was prepared to do his rethinking aloud, often very provocatively. IMO, Decentism tracks Blairism; any 'rethinking' just marks a new direction the mother ship has taken. As CCO'B liked his Yeats: All think what other people think ('The Scholars').

12/20/2008 06:09:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would write something about CCO'B, but I honestly can't think of anything to say about him beyond what's in Simon's comment. I think his decline and fall from sensible, interesting, Good Bloke to reactionary ballbag outlines the Three Prime Directives, the rejection of which defines Decency:

1. Think about the consequences of what you're saying

2. Don't become an ethnic partisan

and, the Ultimate Prime Directive

3. No need to be a cunt about it.

CCO'B started off on the right side, but one by one he gradually broke them all.

12/20/2008 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I seem to recall an Observer column in which he advocated independence for NI, the likely consequences of which must have been as obvious to him as to everybody else. He must also have been aware that this was one reason why this would never happen, which perhaps brings us to the post above: "proposing for reasons of partisanship things that you know won't happen and which you know other people have very good reasons other than partisanship for wishing not to happen".

12/20/2008 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Hell, I *think* I disagree with D2 on quite a lot in his short comment.

Here's Conor Cruise O'Brien on Wikipedia. I hope we can agree about the facts on there. Now, there's some argument about CCO'B on Chris Bertram's post on Crooked Timber. I think it's fair to say that the gist of the dissenting views is "He was always a reactionary ballbag." I don't personally subscribe to this view, but I'm going to give it credence by pointing out things in the Wikipedia entry.

1973: CCO'B 'extended and vigorously enforced censorship of the media' and supports torture (here)

1979: 'He held visiting professorships and lectureships throughout the world, ... controversially in apartheid South Africa.'

There's certainly a case that he was always a ballbag. I think I prefer "complex, nuanced human being" (see Simon Hoggart). Massively talented, and massively flawed. In short, I don't think he became a cunt; he always had that portrait in the attic, so to speak.

I've read enough of D2 to know what he means by his Prime Directives (ST:TNG meets Asimov?), but I'll try to expand on them.

1. I think Norman Geras and David Aaronovitch did think about consequences, but they didn't think about all possible consequences. They assumed the consequences of Saddam staying in power were pretty dire (true), and they took it as read that any alternative would be an improvement. I think we all suffer from this to an extent. I don't think modelling all consequences is computationally realistic. I think the solution is to have some stake (so to speak). Roughly, my position is that the worst that could happen for NG and DA was, "Oh dear, Iraqi is a bit of a mess! oh well, on with the show!" CCO'B at least had an investment in Ireland: if he was wrong, he lost status (OK, he was wrong a few times, and he's still honoured now). Think Churchill in the 30s: he was playing a sort of poker. There was a prize for being right and a penalty for being wrong.

I'm not sure I get his 2 beyond a dig at MAH. If there's a "see the big picture" element to 2, that should come under 1.

As for 3, we bloggers have cornered that market now. CCO'B was a politician. Being a cunt at times went with the job.

12/20/2008 09:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 is actually more of a jab at people who do the ethnic thing with respect to Israel/Palestine, although MAH is obviously in there too.

he always had that portrait in the attic

I love this line and am more or less bound to plagiarise it at some point in the future, so I'll make my apology now.

12/20/2008 10:10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually one good point CC makes above is that Cruiser was always, from day one, the kind of liberal who has a good, rational explanation why some kinds of people are just too obviously wrong and evil to be afforded normal liberal rights, and why we liberals must sadly set aside our principles for the time it takes to cruch this threat to us (cf, "Cold War Liberals", Henry "Scoop" Jackson et al). This certainly ought to be a red flag on anyone.

12/20/2008 10:52:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

he actually DID diplomacy before writing about it. I don't know about you, but everyone I consider Decent is essentially an ivory-tower theoretician, and among the last people you'd want in charge of anything.

True, but CCOB specifically 'did' diplomacy in Congo. He never had any formal engagement with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and (I don't think) ever even lived in Northern Ireland, and it was these two conflicts on which he wrote most in his later life, and on which his proto-Decentism was most pronounced.

I suppose he could have a pass on NI because he was once a genuinely good historian of the island of Ireland, and he did get his hands dirty during his time in the Irish government, although his joining the UK Unionist Party stretched the commitment of even his strongest partisans. On Israel, though, he was just another hack, and the position he took on that conflict was a clear precursor to the Israeli exceptionalism espoused by various Decents over the last decade or so.

12/21/2008 03:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

rereading hitch's bruiser essay -- "creon's think tank", now 21 years old -- and comparing it with tom paulin's 1980 essay on same, you can't help feeling (with hindsight) how uneasily hitch seems with o'brien's shift further and further into apologetics for power, and the effect it has on his writing and his logic -- just as o'brien found contrarian sympathy for burke before him, making the same journey, into stout defender of the status quo as the least worst option

hitch helps himself to a LOT from paulin, including that rather excellent title (a reference to sophocles antigone, which both discuss at length, though only paulin knows well, i suspect) -- paulin is credited, but even so, there's a kind of a laziness and a slipperiness at work under the surface of hitch's piece i think; paulin is rigorous about the complexities and contradictions in o'brien's swing across the political spectrum, but robustly unforgiving of the outcome; hitchens seems sharp enough often enough, but there's an undercurrent of ambivalence -- at the very least, he is attracted to the feisty friendlessness of CCoB's ultimate stance, i think (where paulin says, tartly and correctly: image is identity here)

still, the most sentence with the most hard-to-pars topical energy, comes when hitch reports o'brien's face-off with mugabe, who gets up the latter's nose by referring to ireland's "freedom fighters" -- the para ends in brackets: "(Mugabe later told a friend of mine in conversation that he had been joking about the IRA and had really wanted to ask O'Brien about Lumumba.")

12/21/2008 11:39:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

bah, "how uneasily hitch seems" s/b "how uneasily fascinated hitch seems"

also i meant to qualify the "friendlessness" part -- re cruiser and hitch awarding themselves medals for this because having selflessly split (as they see it) from old comrades, they don't actually regard all their NEW allies in quite in the same light

12/21/2008 11:45:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Meanwhile, Nick Cohen's piece today encapsulates perfectly the decline and fall; he starts off by talking about a really good and in many ways quite courageous piece of reporting he did, 16 years ago, but by the end of it, it's just a load of blah about those rotten academics. (I'd note that opinions seem to differ very sharply on whose fault the whole Stagg/"Lizzie James" folie was, and that I'm not in a position to say who's right). I'd also note that if professional psychological profiling of specific individuals is worthless and pernicious (and Nick might be right on that), then how much more worthless and pernicious is amateur-hour psychological profiling of major world religions?

12/21/2008 03:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it really hard to work out the logic behind the cohen piece. in his eyes, based on one case where psychological profiling was overindulged and proved damaging, the entire profession has been discredited and is of no use whatsoever to the police. He then says that DNA profiling is infallible even though a recent case showed that it, um, isn't.

Again Cohen lets prejudice (specifically his longstanding, incomprehsneible prejudices against psychology and academics) blind his reasoning.

Oh by the way - if anyone wants a laugh they should look at his most recent Standpoint TV review. apparently The Devil's Whore - well-acted, but all the same, the TV equivalent of a Philippa Gregory novel - was 'the best historical drama in recent times' but actually - and brace yourself - despite being the best thing ever, it was ruined because leftie historians in the 80s decreed that the civil war had nothing to do with religion which means that all the oh-so-obvious parallels between religious extremism in C17th Britian and Islamofascist terrorism in C21st Mumbai couldn't fleshed out.

Or something. A while back someone asked what the most odious Coihen moment of the year was, and for me it was his decision to start writing sub-Clarkson rants at 'lefties' masquerading as TV reviewsfor Standpoint. any pretence at being a proper journalist disappeared.

12/21/2008 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger Alex said...

Well, that's it; surely changing sides on the Revolution must mark the point where you abandon any link with the Left.

Also, regarding Paul "Cracker bloke off the telly" Britton...FAIL. This is a question of operational command, as you have in dealing with state power or with things that can easily kill people (ship, aeroplane, nuclear reactor, giant shredder). You *do not* allow yourself to be over influenced by some fat guy like cracker bloke off the telly. If he gets too big for his boots, he goes.

If you do, you RESIGN.

12/22/2008 01:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm kind of sympathetic to the point that Cohen is making in the Observer article. Psychological profiling isn't scientific, or evidence based, in any meaningful way. Though the same is true of almost the entire forensic toolkit. No two fingerprint experts can agree on methodology, for example.

12/22/2008 03:37:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Careful now! My guess is that the next step for Nick is to start using the epic failure of Paul Britton in the Stagg case as a reason to apply the label "psychological profiling" to anything he doesn't like in the War on Terror. You can just see it now; "oh, asking why seemingly well-adjusted trainee teachers committed suicide bombings? Pshaw to this 'psychological profiling'! We need to do more bombing, extend the detention period, and perhaps fund a few more Decent websites!"

12/22/2008 08:02:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

I was a lodger for six months in 1999: my landlady was a copper. Her bookshelves were absolutely festooned with Paul Britton's stuff.

12/22/2008 08:03:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

leftie historians in the 80s decreed that the civil war had nothing to do with religion

Did he give any references for this?

I only ask because I actually studied the Civil War at university in that decade and I don't recognise that picture at all. Although I do recognise the caricature.

(I wonder if, for instance, he may have come across the quote "religion was not the thing contended for at first" - if I have that right - and made more of its deployment than it merits? Just a thought.)

12/22/2008 08:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Regarding that Standpoint review, there's a really strange habit on the Decent Left of misleading each other about history. Nick's view of the Levellers is really nothing like as ubiquitous as he says it is (and even if it was the simple fact that the view of the 17th century dissenters as religious nutters rather than political movements has sprung up over a single academic career cycle ought to clue him up to the possibility that people like EP Thompson weren't totally ignorant of the facts). He also has a very hard time explaining the pretty direct historical connections (often involving overlapping personnel) between these groups and later liberal and socialist intellectuals, including his precious effing Enlightenment.

Oliver Kamm also does this; he presents a very partial and quite controversial view about Hiroshima as if it was settled fact and often lashes out calling people intellectual frauds and the like for disagreeing with him, and holds a view about the Versailles Treaty (didn't bash the Germans enough, should have split Germany into lots of separate states which would certainly have prevented any further war; the word anschluss is apparently not in his dictionary) which is really quite eccentric.

12/22/2008 08:16:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think britton's concept of psychology feeds directly into a particular delusion -- let's call it professional deformation -- that some of the police have, viz that they have learnt (from years catching villains and perves) to infallibly "spot a wrong un"; britton's is essentially the "science" of "spotting a wrong un", and selecting the evidence to fit the hunch/prejudice/guess

isn't cracker based on britton? i mean, i liked cracker, but the crimes were solved by the standard TV method (cf frost, morse, etc) viz hunches, caprice, maverick relationship with foolish superior, massive bodycount gradually ruling out potential suspects, until the crim is the last one standing apart from the detective...

anyway even if the character cracker wasn't based on britton, it seems like britton came to believe it was and to adjust his "professionalism" accordingly

12/22/2008 09:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

re the leftie historians: e.p.thompson's intention was -- almost too famously -- to rescue the "deluded follower of joanna southcott" (and latterly the muggletonians) from the "enormous condescension of posterity"; and ditto, if not perhaps openly stated, christopher hill's re the ranters, the fifth monarchy men, etc etc

isn't the decent pushback a self-important reclamation of the Enlightenment Mind's absolute right nay BOUNDEN DUTY to condescend at all times to the intellectually benighted?

12/22/2008 10:38:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Yeah I know about Thompson but he wrote that book in the early Sixties and it was about a period 150 years after the Civil War: and if it's Hill's World Turned Upside Down to which you refer, that book was written in that same decader.

I want specifically to know who Nick Cohen believes was writing history, from the Left, during the Eighties, about the Civil War, and thought religion was not an issue.

12/22/2008 10:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i know you were ejh -- i'm just suggesting that cohen et al are actually doing battle with a kind of imagined miasma of thought (which they, being rather impressionistic historians themselves, locate in the PC 80s) which has its roots in the concrete politics and radical projects (and achievements) of the 50s and 60s

anyway i stick by the claim that kneejerk condescension and neo-enlightenmentism are pretty closely linked

12/22/2008 11:07:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

ejh - i misrepresented nick cohen, to an extent, he actually dislikes historians of the civil war up to the mid-70s (i think you can probably trace this back to Hobsbawm etc). His core argument is that the way that Hill in particular 'saw his own times reflected in history' is deplorable, but goes on to say that the historian he has most time for is John O'Farrell - who as far as i can tell is actually a comedian - who makes an explicit link between Cromwell and the Taliban. I should also add that I sat through 'the devil's whore' and not only was it rubbish, but it was also chock-full of refrences to religious extremism. Nick's ignoring them in order for his rant to work.

The Decent approach to history stems from their misreading of the enlightenment. For Decents, only one version of history can possibly be true, and it's usually located in the deeply questionable opinions of someone with no real authority as a historian, Oliver Kamm.

For Cohen, the other problem is that he seems to be suffering from littlejohn syndrome nowadays, where everything that he disapproves of, for whatever reason, can be traced back to a set of bogeymen - usually 'left-wing media execs', 'the far left', or possibly academics and psychologists. He hated Simon Schama's recent programme so that's the fault of the BBC for dumbing Schama down, even though they didn't. He enjoyed 'The Devil's Whore' but realised it was deeply historically inaccurate (in everything, by the way - Cromwell killing people when he didn't, whole chunks of the civil war ignored, etc), and the people to blame for this are historians in the mid-C20th. Colin Stagg was found guilty because the police overindulged a psychologist, so that's purely the fault of the psychologist. etc etc.

Bonus points to standpoint this month for printing another boilerplate, unconvincing rant against Chomsky by Oliver Kamm, ably destroyed in the comments, including perhaps the finest piece of hypocrisy I've seen from him yet, in which he castigates Chomsky for going over the top in criticising those he disagrees with an inaccurate writing, while at the same time indulging in all of those vices, and then some. does anyone pay for the mag? Cos they could get this all for free from the amazon archives...

12/22/2008 11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

who as far as i can tell is actually a comedian

O'Farrell is a comedian in roughly the sense in which William McGonagall was a tragedian.

12/22/2008 11:25:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

John O'Career

12/22/2008 11:58:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cian:"No two fingerprint experts can agree on methodology, for example."

Hmm . . . That's not been true historically, at least for the period after about 1920. Best source for this is Simon Cole's _Suspect Identities_.

As for the leftists and the civil war . . . give me strength, I don't know where to start.

(Argument from authority alert:) Had NC done history at university, especially the Commonwealth and Protectorate Special, he'd have been taught it by the people who taught me. Not Marxists.

Hill's view was post-Marxist, FFS. Does anyone want to read my _Red Pepper_ review of Brian Manning's most recent ECW book, AKA the last hurrah of Marxism? It's lukewarm, honest. And it was commissioned by another denizen of these comment boxes.

Chris Williams

12/22/2008 12:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Chris,

Has that review been published? If so, in which issue?

12/22/2008 02:30:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Had NC done history at university, especially the Commonwealth and Protectorate Special, he'd have been taught it by the people who taught me. Not Marxists.

That's the one. Keith Thomas.

12/22/2008 03:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Marc - April 2000. I can put it in a comment here if you're interested and Chris doesn't mind - it's ridiculously short. (When I took over as Culture Editor I was told to give reviewers minuscule word counts, so as to fit in the 'grid' that had just been designed, and like an idiot I agreed.)

12/22/2008 03:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Phil, Chris,

Yep, it'd be very good if you could post it. The on-line archives don't go back that far.

I studied the historiography of the English Civil War as a Special Subject at Queen's Belfast in the late 1980s. The orthodoxy as taught was very firmly anti-Marxist back then. Hill was mostly praised for his 'recovery' work in books like 'World Turned Upside Down', not for his attempt to theorise the whole as a bourgeois revolution.

The idea than any even vaguely reputable historian ignored religion is, of course, preposterous.

12/22/2008 04:11:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick isn't any good on recent history.

'Not to be outdone, Billy Bragg outflanked them on the left and dedicated a song to Gerrard Winstanley, the Digger leader.'

Complete rubbish, the song sung by Bragg about the Diggers, 'The World Turned Upside Down' was written by Leon Rosselson.

When was the last time Cohen did any fact-checking?

12/22/2008 04:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I enjoy 'The Devil's Whore' much more than Justin and D2, but I certainly agree with Justin that it was chocka with references to religious positions. Nick is wrong about "Leaving God Out of It". The notion that religious hatreds dominated the period does not occur to Flannery. In Episode 1, Cromwell, Sexby, et al. mortar a church service on Christmas Day. The series was full of atrocities (mostly Cromwell, mostly in Ireland) based on religious prejudice.

The worst thing about his review is there remains one succinct precis of the English Civil War: With the ascension of Charles I to the throne we come at last to the Central Period of English History (not to be confused with the Middle Ages, of course), consisting in the utterly memorable Struggle between the Cavaliers (Wrong but Wromantic) and the Roundheads (Right and Repulsive). 1066 And All That.

Yet again, Nick doesn't seem to get popular drama. It's not about 100% guaranteed-and-your-money-back accuracy; it's about relevance. How he managed to miss the capital the Tories claimed over the Damian Green arrest and its parallels with Peter Capaldi storming into the House of Commons eludes me. Not everything is about the Taliban. (Though I think the Cromwellian Taliban thing was clear enough with priests (or whatever they were; I'm not good on god-botherers nomenclature) scurrying about as OC's mouthpieces.)

BTW, and this is a bit OT, that was the first thing I've seen where I was impressed by John Simm. He, Lilburne, and Cromwell were superlative. And Nick didn't mention the connection to 'The Wire'. (Dominic West, Cromwell.)

12/22/2008 09:22:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'enjoy' = 'enjoyed' Previewing is hard. The CAPTCHA for this comment was 'kings'. We're being watched! Oh, Peter Capaldi was also great as Charles I.

12/22/2008 09:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, the bits that I left on the floor (yeah, Phil) were a lot less complimentary to Manning than this. I tried to point out that from the point of view of actually existing anti-capitalism in 1999, David Underdown's work on the politics of fun (not his phrase) in the 1650s probably had more prefigurative power.

It was a good grid, though.

Brian Manning The Far Left in the English Revolution: 1640 to 1660 (Bookmarks, 1999) £7.95.

Everyone should read at least one book about social protest in the British civil wars of the seventeenth century, which retain their capacity to divide. Brian Manning’s latest is intent on demonstrating how when the bourgeoisie, led first by Parliament and then by Cromwell, were busy attacking feudalism, they had to guard their backs against representatives of a newly-forming proletariat. Manning explores the material basis of this far left, its various expressions, and its ultimate failure. His work is far more convincing than that of the revisionists who have sought to dismiss class entirely from the civil war, yet at some key points there is the uncomfortable feeling that events are being simplified and shoehorned into pre-set Marxian categories. This proletariat ‘probably’ existed. Religion ‘may’ have been re-interpreted at will to give expression to class interests.
Like the present, the 1640s were politically tangled, and despite Manning’s occasional unwillingness to acknowledge just how much has changed, this book is worth reading in order to remind ourselves what has stayed the same. On June the 18th last year a banner in the City displayed the slogan of the Digger leader, Gerrard Winstanley: ‘The earth should be a common treasury for all’.

Chris Williams

12/22/2008 11:00:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure if this is what this blog is for but what the hell:

The series was full of atrocities (mostly Cromwell, mostly in Ireland) based on religious prejudice.

not only that, but the fate of yer actual Devil's Whore rested on an attempted conviction for being a wanton. Not sure how much more religion Nick wanted, but then again he doesn't seem to really watch anything he reviews.

that was the first thing I've seen where I was impressed by John Simm

Try Michael Winterbottom's very underrated film 'Wonderland'... Also, I thought Dominic West was the worst thing in it. Aside from the really badly-done timelines (a year passes but it feels like next week).

Not everything is about the Taliban.

indeed not, which is all the weirder in terms of Nick's review - what does he actually want from TV drama? I can't quite understand why he was given the Standpoint gig, or why he wanted it. He doesn't seem to enjoy TV and certainly doesn't have a strong grasp of its traditions, its history, and its conventions. It all feels like a sixth-form attempt to emulate Remote Controller in the Eye - one of their few columnists who is clearly both clued-up and fairly clear-headed.

12/23/2008 06:35:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

I enjoy 'The Devil's Whore' much more than Justin


the first thing I've seen where I was impressed by John Simm

Boston Kickout?

12/23/2008 08:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To me that review can be boiled down to that most tedious trope of Decent machismo, you don't agree with me because you're scared. We start with historians reinterpreting the Civil War in the light of contemporary concerns, then we get to the Devil's Whore and - where are the contemporary concerns? Where are the great contemporary concerns of our time? Nick concludes that the very absence of a liberal-democracy-vs-dictatorial-religious-nutters theme simply shows how very important that theme is - it's so important that Peter Flannery's scared to touch it! (This also explains why he doesn't seem to have watched any of the bits that were about dictatorial religious nutters.)

(And the Major-Generals ran England for ten years? Really?)

12/23/2008 09:46:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some contemporary concerns. The police state thing. There's the scene in the tavern where Sexby rescues Angela just before the filth march in. (And wasn't that just a teensy bit suggestive of the Taleban's thought police?) And the scene were the filth march into Parliament on Oliver Cromwell's word. Stifling of free speech: Angela couldn't even give a eulogy for Honest John: if Nick weren't looking so hard for Taleban parallels, he'd have seen the relevance to Chinese (and Iranian etc) bloggers.

I agree with Phil, but there's also the irony that the Decents seem to like being scared. Oliver Cromwell rather played on that with his order vs chaos thing. It's funny, but my being scared makes me behave in exactly the way I would if I weren't scared. Still, Nick and Norm know best. Maybe I'm in denial. (Insert Egypt joke here.)

12/23/2008 11:14:00 AM  
Blogger cian said...

Methodology wasn't the right word, but I was tired when I wrote that and couldn't think of a better one. Obviously you're an expert in this, so I won't push it. However my understanding is that there has been very little testing of whether fingerprinting is accurate in real world conditions, and those studies which have been carried out (using the approach of getting different fingerprint experts to work on the same data) have found that the accuracy is not particularly impressive. There's also that whole business in Scotland, which seemed to demonstrate that fingerprinting is more art than science. I guess the phrase I'm looking for relates to repeatability, but I'm still tired so I can't think of it.
DNA fingerprinting also has problems in the wild, though this seems to be a case where the problems are well understood by scientists, but less well understood by policing professionals/courts/etc.
And I stand by my comment that psychological profiling is bollocks.

12/23/2008 08:58:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fair point cian - the key thing about fingerprint evidence is that early cases established the precedent that it was closed evidence, given as a statement of fact that fingerprint X belonged to individual Y.

DNA's been introduced rather more responsibly, as 'open' evidence, presented as a series of odds. It would appear that the odds quoted are not always kosher, in that they don't always match the rigour of the checking process, but the principle's better.

At the same time, fingerprint evidence has now lost its 'closed' status, just in time to help a few people out.


12/23/2008 10:17:00 PM  

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