Sunday, 14 February 2010

Diana Watch

Unbelievable, he stole my idea. Well there was a little passing credit to me but mostly, he stole idea!

This week I have invented (is that the right word?) a new law of Physics/journalism. We shall, from now on, refer it as Martyn's Law ( I thought about Norris' Law but there are too many S’s at the end.) The law states that, in right wing newspapers, the actual number of facts contained within a columnists polemic IS inversely proportioned to the number of times they use the phrase "in fact" or "the fact is" i.e. the more they use those phrases, the less facts are actually in their piece.

The great thing about the internet is if you think something might be so you can have a quick look at the odd website (always use more than one) and you'll find out if you are correct of not. I believe that it is called fact checking. If, for instance, I thought that Richard Littlejohn was a bit of a Xenophobic, slightly racist misogynist, who thinks that it’s ok to torture terrorism suspects then all I would have to do was to click on to the Daily Mail's website and have a look at his awful, awful column and there it would be in black and white. My facts would have been checked.

It does seem, however, that this is a little bit too much effort for Mr. Littlejohn (or which ever poor sap writes the column for him) and he does get rather a lot of things wrong.

For instance, he routinely calls the National Black Police Association a racist organization. When the BNP were told that they had to amend their constitution because it was illegal as it said no blacks, no dogs, no Irish, he retorted with “But the NBPA don't let in white people, it says Black in their title, they are as racist as the BNP”. Examples here and here. It is a repeated mantra of his awful diatribe but is it true? Has he bothered to check their website? Well if he has he has ignored what he found. On the front page it says this “The NBPA is open to all in policing on application and there is no bar to membership based on colour”. Well that’s sorted that out then.

What he is doing is lying to his readers because he knows that this is what they want to hear and none of them can be bothered to check out whether it is true or not.

He is not the only journalist to do this, Rod Liddle does it a lot and Jan Moir will write anything for money, as she did this week.

She wrote an article which went on about how much she hated “poncey food” but she was found out in the Guardian by Jay Rayner. You see, she used to work as the Restaurant critic for the Daily Telegraph (the first mention for them today) but left/was fired over the subject of pay. She hated poncey food so much that she set up her own website that continues, to this day, giving glowing reviews to places that serve poncey food.

She wrote what she was paid too, not what she really thinks.

My favorite bit from Mr Rayners article was this, "Moir's is the authentic voice of backward-looking, navel-gazing, circle-the-wagons, middle England. It is the worst kind of petty, snivelling, bloated, myopic rantery. She clearly understands her market perfectly." I my get that on a T-shirt or maybe a tattoo.

RIP Alexander McQueen.

How did the papers deal with his death? Did they treat it like they did Britney Murphy or Steven Gately? Did they speculate on to what might have killed him? Did they make stuff up? Did Sky News send it helicopter to film his body being taken from his home to the mortuary? The answers to those questions are a no, no and yes.

Most papers where reasonably respectful but couldn't help themselves in mentioning the fact that he was gay but they all managed to behave a little better than the Mail did following the death of heiress Casey Johnson, heir to the Johnson and Johnson fortune. The headline was "Lesbian socialite Casey Johnson lay dead for three days in flat after taking suspected drug overdose" What has her sexuality got to do with anything? And, to be fair to Mail readers (not a phrase I use often) they asked that to in the comments section.

This article was genius Mail writing as it later said, "Friends believe Miss Johnson's death is similar to that of Hollywood star Brittany Murphy, who died shortly before Christmas at the age of 32.”

Oh nice work, link it to someone else’s death that you thought was suspicious.

They then continued “More than a dozen prescription drugs were found at the home the Clueless actress shared with her British screenwriter husband, Simon Monjack."

The article goes on and on about drug taking and prescription pills but then says "A Los Angeles police spokesman said there were no signs of foul play and that Miss Johnson had died of natural causes."

For the record , Britney Murphey died of Pneumonia and Casey Johnson from Diabetic ketoacidosis.

There seems to be a new, distasteful trend in British newspapers. It is the unpleasant and unnecessary article that criticizes the person who has just died. The Mail is usually the paper that gets in there first, I refer you to the stories mentioned above, but with the death of Alexender McQueen they backed off and it was left to the Telegraph (there’s your second mention) who got Toby Young to write an article questioning his genius.

I don't mind the article questioning this, although hipster jeans that were barely covering many ladies bottom a few years ago, that was McQueens idea (oh and he worked as an apprentice in Savile Row before going to St Martins, so he knew about tailoring. He knew about cutting fabric and sewing, he had talent), but Mr McQueen seems to have killed himself following the death of his mother. His death was announced on Thursday, her funeral was on Friday, the day that this tasteless piece of self-promotion was published.

I can not argue that McQueen was or wasn't a genius in the fashion world, I don't know enough about it, but those that do say he was and that is good enough for me. I wouldn't dream of having a go at someone from an area of culture that I don't understand in order to make myself look big and clever. Toby Young, however, is an arse. He has written a book about what an incredible arse he is, it's called "How to Lose Friends & Alienate People". He went to America, behaved like an arse and no one liked him. He then tried to make it into knowingly, self aware, ironic book about how funny it was that no one liked him. No. Knowingly being an arse makes you an even bigger arse. Oh and he likes Rod Liddle, known Racist and misogynist.

Winter Olympics are here!

Firstly, my condolences to the family and team mates of Nodar Kumaritashvili who was killed yesterday whilst training for the Luge.

I know that there are problems with the Olympic movement, it's more about money than sport etc, but I love the winter Olympics for a number of reasons. One of these is that Great Britain (with a few exceptions) is pretty poor at all of the sports and therefore I can just enjoy them as sports. No national pride is at stake. I also love to see (in a non-patronizing way) countries that have no snow taking part. Watching highlights of the opening ceremony bought a lump to my throat, although that might have been cancer, not to self, make Dr’s appointment for lump in throat.

I also like most sports carried out on ice and snow because it’s slippery and therefore hilarity is only seconds away. They could fall over at any moment!

I can’t ski or skate so I am impressed with anyone else who can. I have quite a poor sense of balance so, to be honest, walking is a little bit hard. I’m also not brave enough for many of the sports. A quick look at the schedule will show you good list of life-shortening activities. Ski jumping, planks strapped to the feet of Northern European men who ski off cliffs. Ice Hockey, men with no teeth and anger management issues (my personal favourite). Skeleton Bob, (team GB’s only medal last time out by the way) headfirst down a bobsleigh run on a tin tray. It’s very, very dangerous and, therefore, very entertaining.

I think I have said this before but this sort of multi-sport event makes me love digital television. Who doesn’t get excited by the phrase “press your red button for more snowboarding”?

The only thing I don’t like is the ice skating. It is clever and skillful but it is mind numbingly boring. The only thing that is funny about it is the stony faces of the scary look eastern European woman who have trained the skaters as they don’t get their marks that they quite obviously should do.

This does lead to a few issues in our house as it is Significant Others favourite event. I’m told that spandex clad, sequin enriched men skating around on one foot is much more exciting than Snowboard Cross or Bobsleigh Heats. It isn’t.

So, some awards then,

The Award for Being Pointlessly Offended by Something of No Consequence,

It’s another blow to Britain's beleaguered manufacturing industry as some badges that are going to be sold at the olympic games in London are going to be made in China.

Well, it’s really important if you work for the Daily Express. So important that it is worth putting on the front page.


Badges? Really? You have to be trying really hard to be offended if badges are the things that get you. And, like their story earlier in the week about Salt shortages (in the article it pointed out later that there was 6000 tonnes of salt in Kent, so not running out then), it was a bit of a misrepresentation of the situation.

The company who won the contract have set up a British arm of their company, so jobs there, and, as one of the commenters pointed out (and he should know as he runs one of the distribution company), there are jobs for people who work in importing and distribution. And really, how many jobs are there in a badge making factory? It's not like they are hand crafted by highly trained badge artisans working only by candle light, long into the night.

The Express wheeled out it’s usual suspects of people to be offended, a Tory MP and someone from The Tax Payers Alliance (one of their members got offended when I put on Twitter how much I hated them.) and tried to bury the statement from a spokesperson for London 2012 which included the line “In all 98 per cent of Olympic contracts, totaling around £5billion have gone to UK-based firms.” That’s quite a lot isn’t it?

The Award For I Didn’t Know That Someone Was Credited With Inventing It,

This goes to Walter Frederick Morrison who has died this week at the rather excellent age of 90. It seems that he invented (or is at least credited with inventing) the Frisbee.

I have discovered many interesting things reading the article on the BBC website such as, there is such a thing as a Frisbee historian (he’s called Phil Kennedy if you are interested) and there is an official Frisbee website. Oh and it used to be called the Pluto Platter before it was called the Frisbee.

Don’t say that you never learn anything reading this, if that comes up on your pub quiz how happy will you be that you lent me 5 minutes of your time.

After I complained that I rambled on a bit in this blog (today being noooo exception) Significant Other suggested that I try and do it in Haiku. I may try this one day but a quick Google search has shot down my idea of Haiku news, a blog with news stories all in that ancient Japanese poetry style. Several already exist. I will leave you with these (they nearly work),

Muslim Man treated badly,
Secret Service not involved, much,
Littlejohn says ok.

Toyota cars go,
Some too fast, most seem to stop,
But many others don’t.

I hope you have/had a nice Valentines Day unless you are single and then I agree with you, it's all just a cynical marketing tool. Have a good week.

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