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Category archive: Media and journalism

Wednesday November 25 2015

Last night I did a posting at Samizdata about Milo Yiannopoulos.

Until today, when I dug him up on YouTube, I didn’t even know what nationality this guy is.  American would have been my guess, but basically I didn’t know, although I did learn yesterday what he looks like.  But for me he was basically a name, that I couldn’t spell.

Turns out he’s British.  Very British.  Who knew?  Everybody except me, presumably.  Blog and learn. 

I asked for the opinions of Samizdata commentariat, and got some.  I don’t know why, but I expected more variety in these responses, more doubts, more reservations.  Actually, the Samizdata commentariat has, so far, been uniformly approving of this guy.

Now I’m listening to him babble away, and it turns out that, being a libertarian and an atheist, I’m “touchy” - meaning oversensitive about being criticised - times two.  As a libertarian I’m obsessed with marijuana and with computer hacking.  (Actually: No, times two.) As an atheist, well, it turns out I dress stupidly.  (Yes.  True.) He does love to wind people up, which he does by saying slightly untrue and quite funny things.  He’s like that classic old Fleet Street type, the Opinionated Female Columnist, whose job is to overgeneralise in ways that are quite popular and pile up the readers, and to make the Outraged Classes really really outraged, and who eventually gets … old.

I’m starting to think he may soon be a bit of a has been.  But, at least he now is.

I think the article that I linked to from Samizdata may have been a peak.  It is truly brilliant.

What I do like is his interest in the tactics of how to spread ideas, how to win arguments, how to be able to make arguments despite the efforts of people who want nothing except to shut him up, by saying things that shut them up.

Thursday October 29 2015

From the Washington Post, yesterday:

What if your self-driving car decides one death is better than two - and that one is you?

The piece also asks if it is only a matter of time before regular driving is banned.  I think this will happen in lots of places, and driving a car will become like riding a horse. It will be something you do only for fun.  I probably won’t live to see this, but I probably will live to see it quite widely discussed.

Wednesday October 14 2015

Today I did a Samizdata posting about Corbyn and his atrocious supporters, and I celebrate that fact with this photo, taken on the last day of last month, of Labour Leader Corbyn, made to look like he has reached his level of incompetence:


Moments later I took another photo, of a bus.  I am now officially photoing any London double decker bus of the new Boris variety, provided that it is entirely covered with an advert:


The point being that just as Black Cabs are not by any means always black, so too, London’s famed double decker buses are by no means always red.

This particular advert certainly worked, because I am drinking cider right now.  But, not of the variety advertised on this bus.

Saturday October 10 2015

I feel an orthodoxy developing.  Former England rugby international Austin Healey:

For now, let’s postpone the period of introspection and focus on maintaining what has the potential to be the best World Cup ever. Even with the final few pool matches to be played, it has been the best tournament in terms of attendance and the overall quality.

There you go.  We may be crap at playing these games, but we invented them all, and we have lots of great stadiums.  We know how to organise a game, even if we can no longer play it.

Plus, we have lots of immigrants from everywhere on the planet to come and cheer for everyone taking part.  We do tend to hate and fear foreigners quite a lot, especially in large clumps, but not as much as the damn foreigners do.  Which is what passes for friendliness, in the world now.  And these are not the kind of foreigners who want to live here in huge numbers of one nationality, and to corrupt our women and steal our jobs and defraud our welfare system.  (None of that applies to England’s football fans, who seem to be about two percent scum of the earth, which can rather spoil things.)

As for me, I find that I really am enjoying this jamboree.  I am enjoying all the pent-up anger of England’s anti-Lancaster tendency (I like to think of them “Yorkists"), who have been biting their tongues for the last few months, but who are now letting it all spill out.  Their ire seems mostly concentrated on Lancaster’s dithering and bizarre selection decisions, which have indeed seemed peculiar even to an ignorant onlooker like me.

Also, freed from the torture of hope, I find I am settling down to enjoy the rugby.  This afternoon’s game, for instance, is looking like an absolute belter.  As of now, with the clock having just past 35 minutes of the first half, it stands at 23-23.  Correction, make that 26-23, to Samoa, against Scotland.  Next up, Wales v Oz, and then England v Uruguay.

In the latter game, if all goes well, England will capture that vital third place in the group spot, and thereby qualify for the next World Cup in Japan.

Tuesday September 22 2015

Time for some weird transport, here at BMdotcom.  So, google google, this kind of thing doesn’t take long.  Here are three photos of transport arrangements, all three of which make use of the tricycle principle to not keep falling over.

First, a combined bicycle and shopping trolley, which, if you think about it uses the shopping trolley not only for transportation purposes but also to turn the bicycle into a sort of tricycle, although actually it is more like a quincycle, what with this device now having four small wheels at the front:


Second, this new slant on the tricycle principle, which actually combines three cycles, the one at the back motor- and the two at the front bi-.  Magnificent, I think you will agree.


And, the third of these triple-based transport arrangements, a tractor that used to have four wheels but which has lost one, leaving only three:


Back-seat passengers are seldom all that helpful to a driver, but this one is essential.

I think that these snaps date from around 2009 (they are three of these ones), and you’ve very possibly already seen them.  But they are new to me, and me is what matters here.

This kind of nonsense is why the internet exists.  And beneath and beyond such photos is a very significant subtext, about people getting on with their lives, with determination, inventiveness, and above all without wars or catastrophes, unless one of these contrivances collapses into the road.  Before the internet, too much “world news” consisted of disasters, and of helpless and miserable people begging to be rescued from these disasters.  The begging continues, but there are now also other and more encouraging messages to enjoy.

I actually think that this change in how the world sees the rest of the world will make invasions by powerful parts of the world of less powerful parts less frequent.  Invasions won’t stop, but the desire to rescue (by invading) will be at least somewhat moderated.

Thursday September 17 2015

Today I had a nice surprise.  I was out shopping, and saw a taxi with an advert on it that I’d not seen before, which I photoed it.  But when I got home I discovered that my camera didn’t have its SD card in.

However, being a clever little camera it had stored the pictures up in its own built-in memory, and I went looking for this by attaching my camera direct to my computer with a wire.  Success.  I found the picture of the taxi and its advert.

And, I also found this photo inside the camera, which I had totally forgotten about, and which had been there since June 25th:


Now that’s what I call a headline.  Here‘s the story.

This is one of the things I really like about digital photography.  There are hundreds of things you see that are a laugh, and which you would like to be able to remember and have another laugh about later.  But they aren’t worth buying, just for that second laugh.  But, they are worth photoing.

Also, today, I saw a headline about how naughty persons have been using drones to get drugs into prisons.  But I failed to photo this headline.  I was inside Sainsbury’s, and if I had got my camera out, it might have caused a scene.

I think it must have been this story.  I’ve been saying here for ages that drones were going to be trouble, as well as fun.  Here is another example of drones being both fun, and incurring the wrath of our rulers, that being a story about a man taking aerial photos of things that didn’t want to be photoed.

Sunday September 13 2015

Excellent piece in the Daily Mash about photography and its impact, entitled Everyone sad because of photo of thing that’s been happening for months.  I only just noticed this piece, probably because it didn’t include a photograph:

It has been confirmed that everyone kind of knew the thing was happening, but now they are very sad and angry because there is a photo of it.

The thing about a photo is that a vivid photo can tell a story very quickly, this being why this particular one is getting around so much and being talked about so much.  Not necessarily a true story, not straight away, but a story.  And that’s what you want, if you are The Media.  The Media sell stories.  Truth, factual and/or moral, is nice too, but not the essence of the product.  That photos do their job well is not a “conscience” thing.  It is a speed of communication thing.  Photos communicate a lot very quickly.

The speed with which a picture tells a story is why I have so many photos here.  This is a kitten blog.  It doesn’t take itself too seriously and it doesn’t expect you to take it seriously, unless you want to.  My photos don’t consume your time, unless you want them to.  Often, I only tell my stories here at all if I have a photo.  It would take too long to explain with mere words, and anyway, what would be the point?

Headlines aren’t necessarily true either.  In fact, I would say that the biggest media lies are to be found in photos and in headlines.  Photos typically lie, when they do lie, by omission.  Headlines just lie, and you can often tell they’re lies simply be reading the story under them.

Why do headlines lie?  Because that often makes for a more appealing story.  The truth is usually more mundane.  But mundane doesn’t get you eyeballs.

Wednesday September 02 2015

What follows is one of the better commentaries on British politics that I have recently read.  It is pertinent to the current dramas involving Jeremy Corbyn and what appears now to be his likely victory in the Labour Party leadership election, because it focusses on something which I think has been somewhat neglected by other commentators, namely the weakness of Corbyn’s opponents.  It is by former Conservative Party Leader William Hague.

It is to be found at the Telegraph website.  I was alerted to it by Guido‘s invaluable “seen elsewhere” section.

But since the Telegraph only allows me to see thirty (I think it is) articles each month before it blocks me (for about half the month), and since I never blog about things that my readers can’t read just by clicking on a link, which means that I am actually not interested in things that readers can’t read just by clicking on a link, here is the piece, here, in full.  Now I am able to be interested in what follows, because here it is.

The original article contains links to other Telegraph pieces.  These I have reproduced.  But I have not checked if they work, because I don’t want to exhaust half my allotted Telegraph links with the month hardly having started.

If the Telegraph asks me to remove it from here, I will immediately remove it, and will instead replace what follows with smaller quotes and further commentary.  And then I will lose all interest in it, except perhaps as an interesting little event concerning the rights and wrongs of intellectual property.

In late 1997, having rather rashly taken on the job of Leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, I discussed with the new prime minister, Tony Blair, which of us had the most difficult job. “You have,” he said, without a moment’s doubt.

Blair was right. And that job was doubly more difficult because it was one pitched every day against him, the most formidable electoral opponent the Conservative Party has faced in its entire history. Before him, Labour had only twice since its foundation won a decisive majority; with him it did so three times in a row.

Although he is despised in Labour’s current leadership election, Blair was a Tory leader’s worst nightmare: appealing to the swing voter and reassuring to the Right-leaning, it was hard to find a square on the political chessboard on which he did not already sit.  When people told me I did well at Prime Minister’s Questions, I knew I had to, since I had very little else going for me at all – I had to raise the morale of Conservatives each Wednesday to get them through the frustration and impotence of every other day of the week.

Blair courted business leaders and Right-wing newspapers, often to great effect. He was a Labour leader who loved being thought to be a secret Tory, a pro-European who was fanatical in support for the United States, a big spender who kept income taxes down, an Anglican who let it be known he wanted to be a Catholic and regularly read the Koran. He could be tough or soft or determined or flexible as necessary and shed tears if needed, seemingly at will. To the political law that you can’t fool all of the people all of the time he added Blair’s law – that you can make a very serious attempt at it.

This was the human election-winning machine against which some of us dashed ourselves, making the Charge of the Light Brigade look like a promising manoeuvre by comparison. Yet now, only eight years after he left the scene he dominated, his party’s election is conducted with scorn for the most successful leader they ever had.

The first reason for this is the truly extraordinary rule allowing huge numbers of people to join up for the specific purpose of selecting the new leader. If there was an NVQ Level 1 in How To Run a Party, the crucial nature of the qualifying period to vote in a leadership election would be on the syllabus, possibly on the first page. Every student plotting to take over a university society knows that the shorter that period, the easier it is to mount an insurgency from outside. But this basic fact seems to have escaped Ed Miliband, along with every other possible consideration of what might happen after his own unnecessarily rapid departure.

The result of this is that Labour’s leader is being chosen by a largely new electorate, with correspondingly little sense of ownership of the party’s history, in which the desire to align the party with their own views outweighs any sense of duty to provide the country with an alternative government.

The second reason is the weakness of the mainstream candidates to an extent unprecedented in any election in a major party in British parliamentary history. Even in 1935, an even darker time for the Labour Party when it had far fewer MPs than today, the leadership election was between Clement Attlee and Herbert Morrison: great names that are etched into our history. This is the first election of a Labour leader in which none of the candidates look like they could be prime minister five years later.

This weakness partly explains the third and most significant factor in what appears to be, in the form of Corbynmania, a sharp move to the pre-Blair, old-fashioned, Michael Foot-was-a-moderate, Seventies Left, which is that none of them has been able to articulate what a social democratic, centre-Left party should stand for in the first half of the 21st century.

Blair’s ability to win elections was not accompanied by a coherent philosophy. The seminars he held with Schroeder’s German SPD and Clinton Democrats on the “Third Way”, the ultimate attempt at government by triangulation, collapsed in ridicule. And the question neither Labour’s candidates nor their socialist colleagues abroad can now answer is – in a century in which markets dominate, more power passes to consumers, technology gives more choice by the day to individuals, working lives are more flexible than ever, and class-based voting is dying out, what is the role and purpose of the moderate Left?

You can scan in vain the speeches of Yvette Cooper, Liz Kendall and Andy Burnham for a clear answer to this question, although I do not necessarily recommend it unless you find it hard to sleep. You might think there is a modern social democratic case to be made that some people – the less educated, unskilled, and immobile – could miss out on the benefits of the information revolution and that changing that is a new purpose of the centre-Left. Instead, in Britain and across Europe, it is left to fringe parties to prey on those dissatisfied with the vast and rapid changes in modern society.

And most revealing of all, those same speeches (yes, I really have read them), point to no model abroad of the Left in power, no hero to be admired or policy to be emulated. The main parties of the Left have turned into partners of conservatives in Germany, reformist liberals in Italy, back-pedalling socialists in France, catastrophes in Latin America, and been annihilated by extremists in Greece. There is still a Socialist International, but there is no longer a common ideology to underpin it.

Seen in this context, the agony of Labour’s leadership election is easier to understand. This is a tribe lost in a desert with no star to follow, and no inspirational leader to point to a new one. Across the world, parties that thrived on the socialist ideals of an industrialising society are losing their relevance, and what we are witnessing is a symptom and dramatic demonstration of that fact.

Faced with that awful reality, Labour is turning to something, anything, that seems authentic, passionate, and consistent. The failure, in Britain and abroad, to find the social democratic version of that is a failure of historic proportions.

William Hague on the collapse of the centre left
Alcoholic Architecture sign
Big Ben through the legs of Gandhi statue in Parliament Square
Photoing and communicating the devastation of Tianjin
Out and about with GD1 (4): On the survival of professional photography
What writing for Samizdata should now (for me) mean
Smoke over west London
England crush NZ (and Surrey beat Leicester)
Two Lady covers
Bloody Enrique Iglesias drone drama
An interesting front page story
An alien robot playing the cymbals and paps
A forgotten war
Oh yes it could
Snohetta does zig zag roofs for competitive cities
Big 4
The receiving station at Swains Lane (and the previous version of it)
“The image was taken at long range and therefore is deceptive …”
I said it twelve years ago
January newspaper pages
Photo-drones fighting in the Ukraine and a photo-drone above the new Apple headquarters building
Miniature photographic fakery
Sixty Charlie Hebdo demo signs that say something other than “Je Suis Charlie”
Photo-drone wars to come
I finally did something for Samizdata
How the internet is cheering up Art
Cats – and technology
The Poppies (1): What they look like
A cat book and a feline front page
Why I am a point-and-shoot photographer rather than a Real Photographer
Only with a computer
Battersea flats are about to be sold and therefore are about to be built
Not about cats
A swimming pool in a skyscraper
PID at the Times
Cat photo and cat news
Robyn Vinter is wrong about Google Glass
Me and the first cranes at London Gateway last September
Pictures of soon-to-be-built London Big Things
Guardian online is a group blog that trolls its own readers
Amusing cats versus important people
The Met swoops on the Adams Family
The text of my talk for Christian Michel last night
Nowadays a picture is no longer worth a thousand words
Friend on telly
Broad thrives properly on getting abuse
Alex on Quentin
Guido in the Spectator (and in Free Life)
The Times of May 24th 1940
Photoing each other - and photoing stuff in the canal
The Alex Singleton blog
A Fleet Street lunch
Bad times for the NHS
Australia v South Africa starts now
American election talk
Pollsters can’t say where things are but they can say which way they’re going
“No one has to know!”
On how being linked to enables you to tell your story as you wish and why long titles are good
Pat Caddell on mainstream media bias
Reasons to think Romney is going to win big
“I just came across this fascinating photo …”
I’m Charia Hebdo!
Jarrod Kimber on biased cricket commentators
Kevin Dowd last night
Alex Singleton has a new blog
More shiny new headquarters buildings
Does Kevin Pietersen have a weakness against bowlers?
Release Ai Weiwei
Out to lunch with Alex Singleton
Why I prefer blogging to writing for a magazine
Wagga Wagga has been flooded by the Murrumbidgee River
Obamanomics dod not work
Cats only seem smart and dogs only seem dumb
Scientology enthusiast is now Climate Change Minister
A blog posting linking to a science article
Photoing the World Cup
Sneezing chat
Balls balls up
Three Gorges Dam picture
A demonstration I could join
This is not Mohammed
Alex Singleton on Photoshop CS5
Gordon Brown proves Guido was right about him from the start and Ed Balls not nice either shock
We’ll always have Chelsea
Why David Hepworth is wrong about podcasting
Does Google now rule the world of computing?
Will I ever tire of writing about the relationship between the new media and the old?
BrianMicklethwaitDotCom understatement of the day
Antoine Clarke on the Massachusetts election and the online effect
Talking about The Hockey Stick Illusion with Bishop Hill
The right to photograph
Those angry Americans
Cricket talk tonight
Three more headlines and how the internet remembers it all
Photographic coup
Yet more ramblings about Guesswhatgate
Old-school media versus (or becoming) new-school media (again)
India looking good against Sri Lanka
ClimateGate roars on and Man(n)-made warming is taking on a whole new meaning
Going global
American video
Antoine Clarke talks about Facebook and Twitter – Guido and … Ian Geldard?
Rude Ian Morbin should have a blog
Was it Sweeney?  And what else were they trying to suppress?
Why I vote against AGW
Quotes dump
Another London lump?
Photo by me in a newspaper!
Edinburgh’s skyline doesn’t suck
What next for Guido Fawkes?
Go Gordon!
Thoughts on the Go Gordon petition
Fantasy budgets
Globalisation Guido – and other Bright Young Things
Two Samizdata comments on the sinking of Brown and on the sinking of the Daily Telegraph
“What did you just say?”
James Tyler’s speech at Policy Exchange
What the previous two postings here have in common
Daniel Hannan and the shape of the media to come
Clay Shirky on newspaper doom
Headlines of the times
It all depends on whether there is anything worth Twittering
Effing newspapers
Photoing the Police
Actually quite a big cat
You don’t wait for it – you go looking for it
Billion Monkeys liked photoing the nastiest poster!
The impossibility of God but the possibility of Michael Flatley’s cure and of super-super-flees
Random links
Evening Standard hand-done billboards go printed shock
P. J. O’Rourke confuses the average with the significant
Why Willem Buiter blogs and why I do
First picture posted to this blog from the wild
Photo-ing the news in Evening Standard headlines
An abstract view of Kings Place
They aren’t complete idiots all the time
Not the same thing
Big Pictures
Ken Livingstone was beaten by the billboards!
Gramophone are putting their back catalogue of articles online for free
Even if people fake them the government still likes them
Smog returns to Beijing
It’s blue!
Portable copiers and copying jokes
The writing on the wall
Mainstream media bloggers and the problem of my blogroll
Seven Napiers – three Ansaris - Gilchrist
Voice of God journalism
The new Lowe look
I predict that Germany will win
Brown leapfrogs Cameron with 36 point jump
Permanent Bold Disease strikes Brassneck
Oddities and specialisms
I really should stop buying newspapers and magazines
The absurdly derided excellence of British weather forecasts
News Media Coalition versus Indian Premier League
Travis Perkins of Pimlico Road are not good at delivering timber
A blogger mutates towards being a journalist
A better than average press release
Girls these days flashing their cleavages it’s disgusting don’t know what the world’s coming to …
A soundbite to describe Britain a hundred years ago
Obama a loser?
Paris Hilton and the Something Else First rule
Photo that hits the mark
Blogging – the end of the beginning
Pictures of the year
Treating the internet like the printing press
Billion Monkeys and a Real Photographer at the Golden Umbrellas
When the penny drops
Chanelle and Ziggy - romance in the age of total surveillance
For Skimbleshanks read Tizer
Digital Camera Review error
It’s the decline of old-school advertising that’s really hurting old-school journalism
Three … thirty six … sixty one … a hundred a forty eight …
Blogs are not cacophonous
Real Photographers worship the Logo
Richard Dawkins on the Muhammad cartoons affair
Back lit Billion Monkey lady and back lit Saturn!
Left behind?
Tom Wolfe on the only real fun of writing
Assorted London quota photos
Billion Monkeys photo their own demo!
Some plain English
Magic Andy makes magic dragon
The Mainstream Media finally get around to noticing Andy and his sand sculptures
The Great Global Warming Swindle debate now begins
Real world
Will twentieth century aerial warfare be repeated by toys?
Susan Hill on not having to be up-to-the-minute about book blogging
When “it’s” becomes “it is” – plus a picture of some Mac users
Micklethwait’s Four Star Theory of the Internet
Storms rip through London
Screwed by Google – and Google screwed by the kitten-bloggers?
More G&S - and some strange Times errors
Me on 18DSTV
A breezy day in London
Spreading the word for free
Me on the intertelly tonight
Antoine Clarke and I don’t talk about elections
A dangerous development
Editing as falsifying
Me on 18 Doughty Street tonight
29th and 14th
Patrick and Brian talk about the War on Terror - thoughts about podcasting
Kristine writes down some of what Adriana said
Jeffrey Archer - blogger
Lords pictures from last Monday
Guido’s narrative
Billion Monkey flash strikes twice! - 7/7 a year later - Office Space on TV even though I own it
Big Media crap and football cock-ups
Dnalgne no emoc! - Billion Monkey snaps mental Maradona!
Latest Brian and Antoine elections around the world mp3
Wisden on the back foot
Billion Monkeys stop cover-ups!
Giving up rouge for Lisbon
Old media
The latest Brian and Antoine Election Watch podcast and some thoughts on democratic nastiness
Lightning strikes twice
The internet is creating new video stars
How links have weakened the mainstream media
Wrong comparison
Quoted but not linked to
Blogging fun and blogging profit
I won’t be doing any television myself in the near future but in the meantime have a watch of this
Fake but true?
“What on earth gives every computer owner the right to exude his opinion, unasked for?”
Those cartoons
The problem of long blog postings
Deep fried eyelids anyone?
“The Internet has also brought a new class of people into politics”
Talking about my generation
The Great Gulf War?
Ted told you and I told you Ted told you