Sunday, 28 March 2010

Diana Watch

“Yeah, Significant Other was admitted on Friday evening, yeah, had emergency surgery on Saturday” “Oh really? Yeah I didn’t fell too well on Saturday either”

This is going to be another short one this week as things really haven't improved that much, oh and work was a bit busy yesterday morning when I usually do the shaping of this so I couldn't get much done. Damn sick people with their health needs.

I don't really want to go on about strikes, click here and here for details, because quite a lot of people seem not to agree with me but I would like to say support the workers because one day it might be you that needs their support. When your employer tries to fuck you over and you cry for help, who will listen to you and support you. We must stick together.

If you were going to choose some really powerful Ex-ministers you really wouldn’t go for Hoon, Hewitt and Byers would you? I mean, they were all pretty useless, I looking specifically at you Patricia Hewitt, as Ministers.
 It seems they have claimed that they can manipulate Government policy in return for money. There seems to be little doubt that they said it but these lobbyists clearly don't know that much about British politics if they think that these 3 have any real influence. To be honest I didn't know that they were still MPs so quiet have they been. Oh but there was that short lived plot thing that they tried earlier in the year.
 Why are we so surprised that they have turned out to be self-serving, money grabbing tossers? They had already tried to shaft the Party early this year, they aren't good Party people.
 What I like about this story is the fact that people are getting so worked up about this, it's sweet. It's nice that we still get so worked up about minor political scandals. In the US, for instance, this is how their law making actually works. My point being that our politics is actually relatively clean, but we must carry on being vigilant and getting stroppy about it so that it doesn't get any worse.

Dorset really doesn't get into the news that so it's nice when it does, although when it does can you please print a picture of the right place please (no, that is Gold's Hill in Shaftsbury not Maiden Castle) or the locals are behaving like, well, locals or extras from Brasseye.
 This week Dorset County Museum in Dorchester has won its battle to save a collection of play scripts and stage set models by Thomas Hardy. They were collected by one of the original Hardy Players between 1908 and 1924 and the Museum has been trying to raise about £60,000 in order to buy them and stop them being taken out of the Country. They should stay here, Dorchester is the home of Hardy, or least that’s what we tell the American Tourists.

If I ever start another “bit” on here with the phrase “A survey says”, or similar, you have the right to poke me in the eye because this will make me as lazy as the journalist that copy and pasted it from the press release in the first place.
 I know that those who write for our papers are over worked, I have heard that they have to write 4 times as much stuff, I believe the correct term is copy, as they had to 20 years ago, but, never the less, printing everything that PR companies E-mail you is just lazy.
 Take this “study” from the Daily Mail a few weeks ago. It is about eggs. It is claiming that the humble egg is a “superfood” (there is a term I could do with never hearing again) but do you know who it is sponsored by? Look there, right down at the bottom. Yes, there it is, the money has come from the totally dispassionate and completely neutral British Egg Industry Council. No, I didn’t know that they eggisted either. Ah hahaha, egg pun! It’s not a “study”, it’s an advert.
 And then we had the Sun giving us a sex survery on Friday. Have a look at the slide show on the webite here and see if you can work out who it is advertising, I mean sponsored by. Now there are plenty of problems with it as a survery but basically, it's an advert.
 The essential problem with this sort of “story” is that some people don't read down to the end of paragraph 4 or 5 to see who has paid for the article and they take it as at face value and as a proper survey, resulting in them being massively ill-informed.
 Whilst this isn't too much of a problem because most of these “surveys” are about pointless things there is a drip, drip effect. One day they are telling you that coffee is good for you and the next that it is bad. This ends up with people not taking any notice of proper dietry or medical advice because they think that “scientists” are always changing their minds, that they don't know what they are on about. No they are not. PR companies are trying to sell you stuff and newspapers are making it easy for them.

Let's have some awards of the week because I've got things to do,

The Award for Looking Fantastic of the Week,

 It's time for another one of those staggering admissions that I make from time to time. I think that Lady Gaga is fantastic. There, I've said. I don't care for her music, although Bad Romance was alright, no, what I like is the fact that when a stylist says to her “I've got this idea, do you want to give it a go?”, she says “Yes, yes I will”. She will wear absolutely anything and take it very seriously. This I like. See, for instance (as long as you are over 16, it's a little saucy and they do kill quite a lot of people), the video for her new single “Telephone” in which she wears, at one point, an outfit made out of “Police, do not cross” tape and in another scene has Coke cans as rollers in her hair. If you can't get on to YouTube because you have an old browser that won't automatically update and you are using Linux and are not sure how to do it manually (only me then?) then you can always look at the Daily Mail website (although I wouldn't recommend it, it will just annoy you.) which seems to be on a commission from Gaga's PR company as they seem to print at least one picture of her every day.
 It seems that I am not alone in my enjoyment of her style as Lady Gaga has now had over a billion hits on You Tube. Now that is quite a lot. I was really happy when my posting about “You and Yours” in the week was linked to by Ben Goldacre and I got an awful lot more hits than usual, can you imagine how happy I'd be if I got a billion hits?

The Award for Some Pretty Top Architecture,

 Ladies and Gentleman I give you Le Centre Pompidou-Metz. It has been built in Metz in France and will be opened on the 10th of May. It's propose is mostly as an exhibition space but I don't really care about that, see what it looks like,


Now that is what a modern building should look like.

 Now I'm not saying that all the Tea Baggers, sorry, Partiers are tiny minded, racist fuckwits, that would be unfair and I don't want to tar all those nice people with the same brush, but if you don't condemn it then you condone it. Is that what they want?

You may remember that last week I tried to start my own religion (sort of) in order so that we could claim that absolutely anything could be claimed to be a tenet of the religion. Well now we have progress. We had a bit on the Pod Delusion podcast (which is embedded just on the left there, I am right at the end, after the credits), we have a website and shop, a facebook group and a Facebook fan thing. Go on, go and see them all.

I hope you all have a lovely week.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Martyn Vs You and Yours

Today I’m going to tell you a little story. When I say little I use that word incorrectly, this goes on for a while. It is a tale of one man and one Radio 4 Producer. Oh and a series of E-mails that were sent between them.
 I mentioned this on my regular Sunday blog a couple of weeks ago but there have been a few developments since then. Here is the story in full.
 A few weeks ago on the, usually pretty poor, Radio 4 programme “You and Yours” was having a phone in about the regulation of Herbal “Medicine” (I put it in inverted commas because, as we know, if it works it would simply be medicine)  when I stumbled upon. I stopped listening to the programme regularly a long time ago but I turn the radio on in the kitchen whilst I was making my lunch and there it was.
 They had an “expert” in the studio to answer questions from callers and the studio presenter. Their chosen “expert” was Michael McIntyre who is a herb peddler. He practices herbal medicine and acupuncture at his clinic in Oxfordshire. The programme decided that this was a balanced approach to the subject. It wasn’t. He ranged over the full expanse of CAM for about 52 minutes, barely pausing to draw breath, ravelling in his opportunity to disperse nonsense like an aural muck spreader.
 He covered the usual topics and made the usual “mistakes” (I’m being kind by not calling him a liar, yet). He claimed that Reiki worked fine thanks despite the fact that it was disproved by a child.
  A lady phoned in and said that acupuncture didn’t help her relapsing/remitting MS; he however claimed that the remitting bits of her condition, that happened before acupuncture and after acupuncture, where down to the mini-stabbings.
 I was becoming a little more irate and then he flat out lied. “Well of course you can’t design placebo control trials for acupuncture”. Yes you can. There have been many. Studies not using the correct meridian points, studies were the needle only just punctures the surface of the skin and studies that use collapsing needles that are a bit like stage daggers. Can you guess what these studies found? Yes, that’s right. It’s no more effective than placebo. Oh and he didn’t understand just how powerful the placebo effect can be either. If you don’t, either click here or here to listen or watch Ben Goldacre tell you all about it.
 He lied (there I said it) about “Traditional” Chinese Medicine, “Well they’ve used it 2000 years so it must work.” 1, this is a logical fallacy, just because they have used it for a long time or that a lot of people think that it works doesn’t mean anything except that 50million Elvis fans CAN be wrong and, 2, it’s not true. Up until as late as 1960 the average life expectancy in China was 36.3. Now there were some other factors in this lack of birthdays, the lack of decent food for instance, but I think it shows that their health care wasn’t that good.
 Now, whilst he was rabbiting on I was E-mailing the show complaining about the lack of questioning of Mr McIntyre by the presenter and pointing out his untruths but I heard nothing during the broadcast so I decided to make a proper complaint.
 I went to the BBC website, found the appropriate page and dashed off a barely literate complaint,
        “This program let Micheal Macintyre simply lie about various things for 52 minutes with no one qualified to challange him.
 It was, effectively, an polemic in favour of Alt Med during which lie after lie and straw man arguements went without critisism.
 It was the most biased 52 minutes of radio I have ever heard.

 Like I said, barely literate but I was angry.

 To be fair to the BBC I got a response,

“Dear Mr Norris

Thank you for your recent e-mail. 

Within Call You and Yours this week 13 callers were included.

There were many contributions throughout the hour which cast doubt on the
efficacy of specific branches of alternative medicine and of alternative
medicine as a whole.

As you highlight, the programme also included calls from advocates of
alternative medicine which many people, rightly or wrongly, believe has relieved their medical symptoms. However the programme is confident that both sides of this debate were treated with respectful scepticism.

It's also worth bearing in mind that the topic of Alternative medicine has been covered widely by Radio 4 and over time we have very much reflected a large array of differing opinions on it.

Nevertheless, I fully appreciate that you feel strongly about this matter. Therefore I would like to assure you that we have registered your comments on our audience log. This is the internal report of audience feedback which we compile daily for all programme makers and commissioning executives within the BBC, and also their senior management. It ensures that your points, and all other comments we receive, are circulated and considered
across the BBC.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us with your views.


P*** H*****
BBC Complaints”

Great, thanks, but it didn’t answer my points so another E-mail was sent,

 “Dear Mr H*****,

       Thank you for taking the time to write back to me.
 One of your points seems to be that "balance" can be judged across all programmes as a whole rather than on a specific programme. I disagree with you on this. If I had only tuned in to this programme I would not have heard balance. Having one or two people phoning in and having only 2 minutes of frequently interrupted chat is not the same as having 2 studio guests. Given the BBC's recent definition of "balance", having an expert and then someone else who flatly disagrees whatever (or lack of) their qualifications, this was a surprise.

 Your contributor lied flatly 3 times and no one picked him up on this because they were not sufficiently informed.

 It was claimed that the Chinese have been using their traditional medicine for 2000 years so it must be great which, apart from being an irrelevant argument, is also wrong. If this form enabled hyperlinks I could show that up until about 1960 the average life expectancy in
China was 35. Since the introduction of "Western Medicine" it has risen sharply.

 It was also claimed that you could not do placebo controlled trials on acupuncture. Also untrue. If you Google it there are plenty of examples but save you some time here are some examples.

 To be honest time has past since the programme and I can't remember the third lie (Sorry about that).
  Again I thank you for your time,

 Martyn Norris”

 I then got a rather generic sounding response and thought that that would be an end to it. Oh I was wrong.
 I was sat in my lounge and the phone rang, “hello Mr Norris, This is P***** B********. I am a producer on “You and Yours””.
 Oh my. “hello? How can help you?” “You made a complaint about our programme, would you like to come on the show and discuss this with Mr McIntyre?” (I may be paraphrasing a little here)

 No, no I wouldn’t. I’m crap at debating and I’d probably end up calling him a rude name but I asked her to E-mail me and I’d get back to her properly.

 “Dear Mr Norris,
As I said on the phone I was wondering whether you would like to come  and put some of your points to our contributor on alternative medicine.  He is very happy to do an interview with with you and answer your accusations that he
"lied flatly several times and no one picked him up on this because they were not sufficiently informed"
And that he
" claimed that the Chinese have been using their traditional medicine for 2000 years so it must be great which, apart from being an irrelevant argument, is also wrong"
And he
"claimed that you could not do placebo controlled trials on acupuncture. Also untrue. If you Google it there are plenty of examples but save you some time here are some examples".
The interview would be pre-recorded with Julian.  Do let me know your thoughts.
Thank You
P***** B********
  At this point I had an idea. The slightly excitable Ben Goldacre was trying to get through to the programme when it was broadcast and then complaining about not getting though on Twitter so I thought I’d E-mail him and ask him if he would be prepared to go on in my place. He rather kindly accepted my offer and also suggested Prof David Colquhoun of UCL who had briefly managed to phone the offending show. Another E-mail and another agreement to take my place.
 So back to my Hotmail account and a message was dashed off to Ms B******** saying that I won’t go on but suggesting these 2 rather fine gentlemen would be more than willing to go on in my place. I even provided their E-mail addresses to make her life easier and pointed out that Prof Colquhoun had also made a complaint about the programme (and blogged about it here) so he was just the same as me really, just slightly more clever and better informed. This was her reply,

 “Dear Mr Norris, 
thank you for getting back to me.  I am sorry that you do not feel able to take up our offer of an interview between yourself and Mr Michael McIntyre as I said we would have been happy to pre-record it.  I am afraid though that we will not be taking up your offer to inverview your  two suggested guests.  We believe that the programme on alternative medicine was fair and balanced with 13 different calls offering different opinons both for and against herbal  and chinese medicine.  At the time there was a specific news peg for this Call You and Yours, as that has passed there is no reason to re-visit the subject unless we can speak directly to you and address your specific concerns.

Thank you for your continued interest in our programme.

all the very best

P***** B********

 The original reply is in blue for some reason.

Throughout our exchanges I had been polite and jovial but this reply had pissed me (and Dr Goldacre) off a bit. Why would they have me on, I know nothing, but won’t have informed guests on? So I E-mailed back,

 “Dear P*****,
       I have to admit that I am a little confused about your reply. You are happy for me to come on the programme and speak about my complaints but you are not offering the same thing to David Colquhoun who also complained about the programme. If you haven't read his complaint, that was emailed as mine was, it can be read here. Can you explain to me this difference in approach?
       Martyn Norris

and so she replied,

 Dear Mr Norris,

thank you for your email.  However, I'm afraid I am no longer able to help you as I believe I have answered your questions about Call You and Yours on alternative medicine.  If you would like to make a further complaint - please contact the BBC Editorial complaint unit at

thank you for your interest


P***** B*******

Again in blue.

 Now I don’t know about you but that sounds like a go away and leave me alone message. Of course I am going to but I think my question stands, why would they have me on and not some really good guest who knows the subject? You may draw your own conclusions, like they didn’t want a decent discussion about CAM because they have their own agenda or that the Herb Peddler didn't want to debate clever people (as suggested by Robert Weeks (@Chutzpah84 on Twitter), but I won’t because I don’t know why this happened. Shame though.

 I have not included the names of the BBC employees that I have been in contact with as that would be unfair.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Diana Watch

Can I apologise for this week’s entry. If it seems a little hurried and cobbled together but there is a very good reason for that, it is. The end of the week has been a little poor for significant other so not had much time to do this but, he says with the utmost irony, the show must go on. I’m doing “jazz hands” now if you are interested.

 Thank you the Daily Express! Your ability to entertain has not been diminished. Thank you. We have a Princess Diana headline from the lovely people at the Express this week and so I thank them. I would also like to thank them because it is one of the stories that the Express reading loons have been allowed to comment on. The Express website is like a London Plague searcher “Bring out you wackos, bring out your conspiracy freaks!” For instance, I give you, oh and I haven't changed the spelling or grammar,

  “I agree that diana should be allowed to rest in peace of course i do. But not when this stuff is still uncovered they cover up everything! and i dont believe diana can rest in peace because she would be up there knowing she was assasinated full stop. I do feel for her boys its not like they would really say what they really think they are memebers of the royal family. I  think we the british public should never let her memory die! and show future queen camilla the DOOR along with charlie boy.”

  I assume that the sentence construction is poor because she was typing though a veil of tears. And from someone else,

It is apparent to everyone that when any material is repressed in any enquiry there are bound to be suspicions, founded or otherwise. There were a lot more questions after the investigations and reports than before, with good reason. Read more history etc and watch Spooks (Secret Service) etc.,for some ideas of how things work in high places!- to which the nation's peasants are not privy!”

This person recommends watching Spooks, the BBC1 fictional Spy drama, as good evidence as to what goes on. There are so many more,

Princess Diana WAS murdered so charles could 'marry' his old ugly mistress. Henri Paul was the driver with the intent to kill the Princess, but he was setup to die too.
Yes the Princess should be able to rest in peace, but until her murderers are brought o justice she won't.”

Why is marry in inverted commas? He did marry her, legally and everything, it was on the news, oh wait, I see now, even the news is in on it. This conspiracy goes all the way to the top people! Who is that smoking man hiding in the shadows? Are they adding drugs to my water? How long has that pizza delivery van been parked outside my house? They are coming for me!
Sorry about that, it seems that loony may be catching.
Please go and read the article but, more importantly, the comments. They will be the most fun you have ever had.
 The US has birthers and we have these nutters. I blame the interweb. There are some people who will believe anything they see written down no matter how poorly it is spelt or the argument constructed, how else do you explain the inexplicable, but declining, popularity on the Daily Mail?

For reasons that I still find totally baffling, adverts for sanity products are completely filled with euphemism.  Even the “liquid” referred to is a euphemistic colour, I’m pretty sure that blood is red (except in lobsters or is that an urban myth.) From watching adverts for these products I would have absolutely no idea what they did are where they were, ummmm, placed.
  I know what they are for and you know what they are for but it seems that American TV networks don't (or at least they don’t like the words involved.) An advert for tampons, that mocks other adverts for similar products, has been banned by 2 US television networks for using the word “Vagina”. Yes that’s right, “Vagina”. It didn’t say “take this and shove it up your fanny” (although fanny seems to refer to bottom in the US so that is a very different thing), but it is the correct medical term for the area. How sensitive do you have to be to find that offensive? Although I can’t mock those funny Americans to much because I doubt that the advert would be shown over here.
 Now I know that some of you will be shocked by that word and have probably stopped reading. If you have that means I can insult you without you knowing, you are cunts! Ha, see what I did there? Now some of you are proper offended aren’t you? Sorry.

 Both the Express and the Mail were suitable outraged about Polish Women “coming over here” so that they can have abortions. It is almost a perfect storm for them. Non-English people, the NHS and woman choosing what to do with their bodies. Oh and just a brief aside, if you ever start a headline with the word “Now” you are not a proper newspaper, I.E. “ NOW POLES GET FREE ABORTIONS ON NHS”
 Of course they were both woefully wrong as this commentator said,

        “ Okay - I'm Polish and if you look into the background of this poster and the context, it is NOT suggesting that Polish women milk the British system. It is intended to highlight that women in Poland are denied the right to safe abortions. And the price for even an underground abortion is exuburant. This isn't about "go to the UK and get a termination". It is intended to demonstrate how draconian Polish laws are towards women and how much the Catholic church dictates Polish law. Relax everyone. This won't cause an influx of Poles taking up valuable spaces in the NHS abortion queue. Geesh.”

 It seems that someone, somewhere, who reads the Daily Mail website, is quite sensible. I know that it is hard to believe but it seems it is true.
 So the question has to be, did these papers misrepresent this poster on purpose or by accident? I mean, I can’t imagine that the Daily Mail would just make things up or ignore FACTS. Oh now wait, I think I may have mentioned this briefly last week, click here and here for details.
Well, how where they to know, it was written in foreign and they don’t speak foreign.
 To be honest I would be happy if the story was true. If the country in which I live is helping woman from overseas with making an incredible hard decision and helping them though in a safe, supportive, non-judgemental way, it would make me sort of proud.

Now for the awards of the week,

The Award for Brilliant Mocking of Stupid Laws,

If you didn’t know, you can become a Jedi. Well you can join the International Church of Jediism anyway, your Midiclurian count will probably quite low so don’t expect to able to use the force.
 Anyway Chris Jarvis did join he church so when he asked by Job Centre staff to remove his hood he claimed religious discrimination. He has now received an apology. He’s a Jedi! It’s made up! It’s from a film! It’s not a proper religion; it’s made up…… oh now, wait…
 This rather brilliantly makes a mockery of religious discrimination laws. We all know that these laws are unfair and silly, “I believe in a magic man in the sky so I have to have special legal protection”, but this helps in our battle to get them repealed. They are clearly unworkable and don’t even do what they implemented for, although that isn’t really a bad thing.
 I am now thinking for starting my own religion though so that I can have special treatment for believing in nonsense.  Bow down before the God that is Webble Twosh! Oh hail great Webble Twosh. You can’t mock me. It’s a religion and should be respected, oh and us Twoshists don’t have to apologise for the systematic raping of children and for wilfully covering up those crimes.

The Award For Ignoring a Story Because it Doesn’t Fit in Pre-Existing Narrative,

MRSA rates cut in Southampton hospital by 73% over 2 years by screening patients on admission. That’s 73% which is a massive amount in anyone’s books. If that was my hospital I would want this story covering the local press and TV news programs.
 I heard the story in passing on a very early morning edition of my local news program but it has not been referred to since. It is not on the BBC website (or at least I can’t find it) and a Google web search only brings up the hospitals own website. A news search brings up all sorts of stories about people catching MRSA in Southampton Hospital but not this positive story.
 Now, this is interesting because nurses have been blamed for spreading the “super bug” and nothing else has been mentioned but this shows that ¾ of infections may have come from outside. The patients come in with it. So where is the story?

Hope you all have a good week (I’m hoping for a better one, Significant Other is hoping harder mind you) and that the weather is as lovely as it is today all week. I will try and do better for next week.

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Why the Papers Say

I would like to look at 2 stories from recent weeks to illustrate, to a certain degree, how our press works. 1 of them is how a good PR person can guide a story and the other is a back-firing political story.
Let’s start with the political storm in a political tea cup first. A couple of week ago the press, particularly the anti-Labour side, were filled with stories about Gordon Brown being a bully. The accusations all stemmed from a book that was being promoted at the time by political journalist Andrew Rawnsley and were leapt upon by the right wing press. We had several days of headlines about people being pushed and shouted at and then a bullying hotline got involved. Television news also ran the stories and before long the modern political catch phrase of “We need a public enquiry” rang out for the Tories. Downing Street denied the stories.
Then something very strange happened. Before the mass reporting Labour, and particularly Mr Brown had been languishing in the Polls but in a survey conducted just after “Bully-gate” both Labour and Gordon’s ratings had risen significantly. It seemed that the voters really like, what they perceive as, a strong leader.
The story immediately stopped being reported. The right-wing press dropped it because they had a made a massive editorial and political misjudgement and it had actually had the opposite effect than planned. The Labour supporting press didn’t need to keep defending their party so they dropped it too and Television news only seems to be reading out what the papers have written anyway, so they stopped talking about it too.
It has been suggested, slightly sarcastically, by Simon Schama on his Point of View on Radio4 that it was all in the Labour plan, I’m not sure about that but it does show that newspapers only report stories that reinforce their ideological position and not the actual news. If this story was of importance then it should have continued to have been written about but it wasn’t. It was designed, be the time it reached the papers, to damage a political party but it didn’t work so was dropped.

The second story is about Take That’s Mark Owen. Now Mark Owen has had some affairs with quite a few ladies but has been treated very differently then, say, Ashley Cole. Why is that you may ask? You may not to honest because it’s not that interesting but worth a bit of a look I think.
There are 2 ways in which these stories come out. The famous person, usually, gets a call from the paper that has the story about them and they offer them the confession type of story that we have seen with Mark Owen. This is the more sensible approach because the famous person, or at least their PR advisor, can control the story. Mark Owen, for instance, has been on the front pages for 3 or 4 days now with a bit more to add to the story each day. Day One, “I have had some affairs”, day two, “I have a problem with alcohol”, Day three and four, “I need treatment, I’m going into Rehab”. Now I have no proof that the drinking problem bit of this story is true or not but it is a recurring theme in these PR stories.
What we have here is a well controlled story in which our sympathies are supposed to be with famous person.
Now, there is another approach. The famous person may choose not to talk to the paper in question. This is nearly always a bad idea. What then happens is that the paper will run a series of blow by blow (if you forgive the pun) account of the affair(s) with pictures of the lady(ies) in underwear probably insulting the size of the famous persons penis. There is another, much smaller, subset of these stories where the famous person sort of collaborates with the paper but not enough to give a tell-all interview. These stories can be spotted because when the woman in the underwear describes the sex she will be very positive about it. That is the famous person’s pay off for being a bit helpful.
I mentioned Ashley Cole at the beginning of this section so now back to him. He has been given a hard time by the press because he cheated on someone who is more popular than he is. He has fucked with an inexplicable nation treasure. He was always going to lose that battle in the press.
In this section on affairs I have concentrated on the man for one very good reason, men who have affairs are treated differently to woman. Any famous woman who has an affair will come off badly. There will be no sympathetic angle. You are a woman who dared to have some sex and therefore you are a slut. This will be reinforced by printing the story next to some pictures of you taken not wearing very much.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Diana Watch

He was 10 when it happened! Did we ever ask why it happened or did we just charge a 10 year old with murder and then, when encouraged by the media to light the torches and dust off our pitch forks, forget how old he was? Yes, he is now 27 but this is not the same person that killed a child 17 years ago. Are you, screaming idiots, the same person that you were when you were 10? I’m not, well I still like Dr who and nature documentaries, but apart from that I’ve changed quite a bit and I assume you have too.
If anything we should be ashamed that we have failed the child formally know as John Venables by not helping him enough to recover from a childhood that turned him into that 10 year old killer of a child. I do feel that I need to mention that I am not taking away from the enormity of this crime but adding so context.
A report out this week showed that re-offending on release from prison costs the country £10bn per year. Proof, I think you will agree, that the present penal system of lock them up and forget about that, as favoured by right wing politicians (and the Labour Party so that they could get elected) who see feeding prisoners as “too good for them” does not work. It does not help to deter people from a life of crime; if anything it reinforces their behaviour patterns. It shows them that they are outsiders and no one cares. What’s the point in worrying about others when they don’t care about you?
I know I won’t convince conservative types that helping prisoners off of drugs and to get an education is the right thing to do on moral grounds but can I appeal to them on budgetary grounds? Spend a bit more on rehabilitation of these people and save massive amounts of money for the whole country.

I bloody love twitter. There are so many helpful people on there. A few weeks ago I mentioned that we are going to go to Canadia next February and a woman, who is a Travel Agent, offered help in finding flights. I got asked on to the Radio 4 program “You and Yours” because I complained about their interview with halfwit herb peddler Michael McIntyre (not the overrated joke teller) and within half an hour a person who specialises in PR offered to help prepare me. I'm still not sure if I'll go on because I don't think that I am clever enough (or calm enough, I don’t think that Radio 4 would be overly impressed if I called him some terrible unpleasant name) to debate someone on national radio.
Then this week I mentioned a band that I really, really love and encouraged them to play in my general area and I got a direct message from a friend saying that she knew the lead singer and he was a friend. Oh yes Ladies and Gentlemen. Twitter is bloody brilliant.

The BNP have tried really hard to change their constitution so that they could remain racist but also within the law. It seems that they have failed.
A few weeks ago the BNP voted to get rid of its “Whites Only” membership policy after a threat of comedy legal action from the Equality and Human Rights Commission. But a judge at the Central London County Court rejected their new attempt which asked members to sign up to the BNP's “principles”, including a duty to oppose the promotion of any form of "integration or assimilation" that impacted on the "indigenous British”, again I think we have to ask noted twat Nick Griffin what exactly they mean by “Indigenous British”, and a requirement to support the "maintenance and existence of the unity and integrity of the indigenous British". Again with that term.
They really do seem to think that when we were invaded by Northern Europeans and the French and the Romans and anyone else who came to this grey little corner of Europe, that they didn’t have any sex with anyone who lived here. I happen to know, for a fact, that at least one person who came to Britain in the Middle Ages was black,


They seem to suffer under this delusion that we are genetically pure. And if man spread out from Africa, which he did, the “indigenous British” would have got here from, ummm, SOMEWHERE ELSE.
Nick Griffin said after the judgement “"I think it's appalling. The court have opened a huge can of worms here, they have given a government funded, a taxpayer-funded body the right to interfere with the aims and objectives of political parties. That’s not just an attack on us. It's an attack potentially on any political party. It's a bad day for democracy from that point of view." It’s an attack on any political party THAT BREAKS THE LAW.
Sorry, too many capital letters there but the BNP piss me off.

Japanese Knot weed can grow 3ft in 3 weeks and can regenerate from a bit of root the size of thumb nail. It is remarkable stuff but it is also a massive pain in the arse. It can destroy the foundations of buildings and flood defences and it costs millions of pounds to keep under control.
What shall we do? So how will we control it? We must find something before are entire country is engulfed by a foreign invader? Coming over here, stealing our nutrients, out competing our native species. Scuttle forward a tiny Japanese insect called Psyllid. It sucks the sap out of it and slowly kills it.
Now, knotweed was introduced into the country as an ornamental plant by the Victorians but it soon escaped and started causing problems. Now we want to introduce another non-native species to control a non-native species, what could possibly go wrong? Environmental policy based on the nursery rhyme “There Was An Old Woman”.

“There was an old woman who swallowed a fly,
I don't know why she swallowed a fly,
Perhaps she'll die.

There was an old woman who swallowed a spider,
That wriggled and jiggled and tickled inside her,
She swallowed the spider to catch the fly,
I don't know why she swallowed the fly,
Perhaps she'll die.”

And so to the Awards,

Special mention for the board of Itawamba County Agricultural High School in Fulton, Mississippi who have decided to cancel the School Prom rather than let one of the female pupils bring her girlfriend.
This is why the rest of the world mocks you America. Please don’t act surprised, you bring it on yourself.

The Award for Desperately Trying To Shift The Blame,

This has to go to Father Gabriele Amorth. He is the Vatican's Chief Exorcist (because they have more than one) who claims to have dealt with 70,000 cases of demonic possession. Really? Any proof of that sir?
Anyway, He has claimed that recent, umm, unpleasantnesses within the Catholic Church were because “the Devil is at work inside the Vatican”. Some of the things that are “proof” of the Devil's influence are power struggles at the Vatican and also "cardinals who do not believe in Jesus, and bishops who are linked to the Demon". Oh and all of those scandals involving Priests raping children. Good news, it wasn't their fault, it was the Devil. Well that’s ok then, we should just let them off (like the Church does) because they were possessed. Just a quick question, if a parishioner came to confession and confessed to raping a child how many Priests would say “that's ok, you are probably possessed by the Devil”? I would imagine it would be none.
He also was one of the Priests who said that JK Rowling’s books made a “false distinction between black and white magic", forgetting that it's CHILDREN’S FICTION! Although, to be fair, he seems to think that the Bible is the literal truth, so he does have a problem distinguishing between truth and fiction. He also seems to think that The Exorcist is some sort of documentary. He described it as “exaggerated" but offered a "substantially exact" picture of possession. OK, back slowly away from him people, make for the door but do it quietly, they are more dangerous when they are startled.

The Award For I’m Sorry, You Did What?

David Cameron really does have a very poor grasp of history. During Prime Ministers Questions on Wednesday he said that the Tories cut defence spending because THEY WON THE COLD WAR. He was under pressure from Gordon Brown who had pointed out that the last time the defence budget was cut was in the 90's by the Tories. David Cameron retorted “That's because we won the Cold War under the Conservatives," We? We won the cold war? If anyone won the cold war it was the Americans but let's be honest, the Russians lost, no one won.
Just for the sake of balance Gordon was a little misleading in his use of numbers because, yes the Government have increased the amount of money that they give the Armed Forces each year, when you include inflation there has been the odd “real terms” cut.

The Award For It’s About Time Too,

Following on from her win at the Baftas Katherine Bigelow has won the Oscar for best director and, again, like the Baftas she is the first woman ever to win this prize. More importantly though Avatar didn't win very much. Which is nice.
What was much more surprising was Sandra Bullock winning the best actress Award for the Blind Side. Ok so no one over here has seen Blind Side but it is a Sandra Bullock film so expectations aren’t high.
One of the reasons that people like Ms Bullock is that she does seem to have a sense of humour about herself. The night before the Oscars she also won a Razzie for the worst actress for her performance in “All About Steve”. She turned up to except her award. You have to admire that sort of self-effacing behaviour but that doesn’t mean that she can carry on making bad films.

Things that almost made it,

Top 100 websites, the only porn site is at number 84. Clearly this is bobbins.

England Davis Cup team are rubbish after losing to the Ukraine. A team made up of teenagers beat us. The problem seems to be the Lawn Tennis Association. Let us, quickly, review “British” Male tennis players of the last few years. Andy Murray hasn't come through the LTA's system, his mum took him out of the system and he has also decided that he won't play Davis Cup matches any more. Greg Rusedski is from Canadia so wasn't trained by the LTA. And that leaves Tim Henmen. He was trained by David Lloyd, the brother of the Davis Cup captain John. So again, not trained within the LTA system.

The Daily Mail lies several times in several weeks, here and here

Have a fantastic week.

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Alice in Wonderland (in 3D)

It’s new! It’s modern! It’s the future of cinema! Yes we tried it in the 60’s, 70’s and the 80’s but this time we have definitely cracked it! 3D is here!
Last night I went to see Alice in Wonderland at my local, tiny, cinema. This is the first film, to my knowledge, that they have shown in 3D so there was bit of excitement about it. There was even a queue. I wanted to see the film and I wasn’t fussed about the 3D thing but it wasn’t being shown in 2D so my hand was forced.
The first thing that annoyed me was the fact that it cost more to get in. OK, so my cinema is very cheap to get into, £2.50 on a week day, but that’s not the point. It was £4 last night, still not expensive but I was forced to pay it in order to rent the massive, heavy glasses that were needed to remove most of the colour from the film.
Once the film started it became very clear, very quickly that 3D is not for me. It may be because this movie was not filmed in 3D and the effect was added afterwards that it looked so odd. It isn’t very good. In fact (not Martyn’s Law) it bares a striking resemblance to one of those old 3D viewer things, like the ViewMaster 3D viewer. It is the same sort of effect.


It looked like it was filmed in layers. Disney used to do this with their old animated films to add depth to the picture. This is not what real life looks like.
So back to the problems with the colour. With the glasses on the film seemed very dark, not “Alien Resurrection” dark, but still really dark. The colour looked drained. Maybe this was the look that they were going for but when I took the glasses off, which I did many times, the colours were beautiful. Bright and vibrant. Mark Kermode claimed that in the 3D version of the masterpiece that is “Up” you lost 30% of the colour saturation, I now fully understand what he means. The colour was sapped from the film, whether that is through design or accident, by the 3Ding of the print.
So the 3D effect was poor, the colour was drained and I had to pay more to wear the silly, heavy, uncomfortable glasses and on top of all that the film really isn’t very good. I mean, it’s not “Planet of the Apes” bad but it is “Sleepy Hollow” bad. It’s boring, oh and the castles in it really look like the Disney castle.
Is 3D the future of cinema? I really hope not. It really doesn’t add anything to the cinema going experience and it adds nothing to the films. It’s an expensive gimmick. A way to try and limit piracy.
Not the greatest night out I have ever had but I have now seen a 3D film. It’s not something that I will be rushing too again. I did have a very nice pint of ale afterwards though which sort of made up for it though.

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Not Diana Watch

So, there is no Diana Watch this weekend because we have been away. A weekend at the In-laws in Kent.
Today we have to the seaside town of Whitstable and I took some photos. As I don’t have much to share with you this week you may want to have a look at some of them. There are some repeats and a little editing is needed but I’m happy with a lot of them. Hope you like them.