November 12, 2004

I will now criticise Instapundit. Twice. I don't remember ever having done this before even once, so this is new territory for me. Perhaps I will be hunted down by goon squads and locked up in a basement at the University of Tennessee.

GlennReynolds.gifCriticism number one of Instapundit is this beyond-frightful picture of him that the Guardian has been using to decorate his recent columns for them. It looks like something contrived for Halloween, and confirms, whether by accident or by design, every Guardianista prejudice about the man that there is. He is nasty, sinister, stupid, ignorant, and if this was an old and cheap black and white movie (which is what it looks as if it was taken from) he would be dead very soon and deservedly so, in the course of trying and failing to do something sinister and nasty.

Either Instapundit chose this photo, in which case he made a big mistake, or the Guardian chose it, in which case they did a very clever thing. If the Guardian chose it, and if Instapundit tried to get them to use another, but they went with this picture anyway, then that is a story and it is a story that the rest of us would, I am sure, love to be told.

And the other criticism I have to offer of Instapundit is that whenever, as he occasionally does, he features a small picture on the right hand side of a posting, he almost always fails to separate the text from the edge of the picture. This results in writing, and particularly the little permalink blob, jamming itself smack dab up against the picture, as for example here, here, here, here, here. here. and here. Here, he either did it right or got lucky, almost certainly the latter. I am not nearly such a clever blogger as Instapundit, but in this particular matter I always do better, this posting being only one of many examples of my superior typographical skills to those of Instapundit when it comes to placing small pictures in my postings, on the right hand side.

In my case the secret is to insert this gobbledegook into the code which inserts the picture:

align="right" img style="{margin-left:10}"

There. That wasn't very hard was it. Well, of course, like everything in computerisating, it is easy if you know it and do it regularly, and totally bloody impossible if you don't and you don't.

More seriously, now that the Old Mainstream Media have been toppled from their perch (my thanks to Instapundit for the link), Instapundit is now New Mainstream Media. And it is the duty of the rest of us to see that he lives up to the high standards that are appropriate for his new and elevated station in life.

In particular, he now has to realise that appearances matter.

UPDATE Nov 13: Incoming email from Gregg A Howard:

Note that the Guardian photo was taken using the "Frankenstein flash" technique used by old chaw 'n' spit newspaper photogs on particularly heinous criminals. It involved holding the flash a foot or two below the lens and the perp's face in order to distort the features in a way much admired by city editors back in the 30's and 40's. (see attached) But surely its use here is simply a coincidence and has no bearing on how GR's opinions are viewed by those at the Guardian.


I don't know whether Howard concocted this composite picture himself or found it somewhere else. The former, I'm guessing, if only because if the latter he would presumably have said. Either way, my thanks.

UPDATE Nov 14:

I did concoct it myself. The photos were scanned from Bloodletters and Badmen (isbn - 087131-113-5).

I picked the book up at a library sale for 25 cents some years ago. When I saw the Guardian photo, the inference was immediate. The composite was simple using the five-year-old software that came with this computer. The other faces are those of Harvey Murray Glatman, William Heirens and Stephen Nash.

A few more emails like this, and this blog will start to become a real Culture Blog.

Posted by Brian Micklethwait at 01:55 PM
Category: BloggingComputer graphicsMedia and journalismPhotography