Saturday, November 08, 2008

Bush to write a book?

Last night Bill Maher said that when Bush was asked about an autobiography he replied that he didn't know that much about cars.


"If I were advising President Bush, given how the public feels about him right now, I think patience would probably be something that I would encourage," says Paul Bogaards, executive director of publicity for Alfred A. Knopf, which in 2004 released Bill Clinton's million-selling "My Life."

Bush publishing rumour round-up.

The Economist Gets Soppy and Romantic

Gone, in other words, is any sense that blogging as a technology is revolutionary, subversive or otherwise exalted, and this upsets some of its pioneers. Confirmed, however, is the idea that blogging is useful and versatile. In essence, it is a straightforward content-management system that posts updates in reverse-chronological order and allows comments and other social interactions. Viewed as such, blogging may “die” in much the same way that personal-digital assistants (PDAs) have died. A decade ago, PDAs were the preserve of digerati who liked using electronic address books and calendars. Now they are gone, but they are also ubiquitous, as features of almost every mobile phone.

I've missed that old "content management system" talk. Content is King, gentlemen?

Presidents and the Press, when the campaigning never stops

Since the Clinton years, this has been the era of the permanent campaign, with the line between running for election and running the country practically erased. Bush took Karl Rove into the White House, turned policy into an arm of politics, and governed the same way he campaigned: treat the press as an out-of-favor interest group, control the message at all cost, repeat it incessantly regardless of changing facts, admit no mistakes, show no uncertainty, reward loyalists, and ignore critics or else, if necessary, destroy them. This approach to what’s known as strategic communications won Bush two elections; it also helped destroy his Presidency. Campaigning and governing are not the same. They are closer to being opposites.

George Packer in the New Yorker.

Guilty - like maybe: Google Generation on the Jury

Lord Judge of Draycote, the most senior judge in England and Wales, said of young jurors: "Most are technologically proficient. Many get much information from the internet. They consult and refer to it. They are not listening. They are reading."

"One potential problem is whether, learning as they do in this way, they will be accustomed, as we were, to listening for prolonged periods," he added.

From Web User magazine.

Friday, November 07, 2008

Top Ten Most Annoying Phrases in Oxford English, sort of

1 - At the end of the day
2 - Fairly unique
3 - I personally
4 - At this moment in time
5 - With all due respect
6 - Absolutely
7 - It's a nightmare
8 - Shouldn't of
9 - 24/7
10 - It's not rocket science

From Wired.

Another good list of linguistic horror stories.

Another Citizen's Charter Ensures Transparency


Our aim is to be an effective and influential voice for the xxxxx community.

Our vision is of a dynamic and vibrant industry, operating to the highest standards of professionalism and responsibility towards our staff, xxxx, customers and local community, and within a supportive regulatory and fiscal environment.

To achieve this, we will seek to establish positive relationships with a range of key opinion formers and policy makers, as well as other trade bodies. Our policies and campaigns are developed by members, for members, to deliver real bottom line benefits.

By working together and pooling our resources, we can achieve the recognition and respect our industry deserves.

Join here.

Here's one for Librarians Everywhere

Isn't this a potential privacy nightmare for libraries? Will Google compile personally identifiable information (via a login to Google Docs or some other service) of terminal users? Will Google collect search and usage data from these library terminals to "improve" searches? Will such data be open for study by the publishers? Scholars? How long will Google retain such data, if it compiles it at all?

Siva Vaidhyanathan from the "Googlization of Everything" blog looks at last week's Google Book Search Settlement.

Daily Beast is Time-Locked in 1937. And you thought US bloggers were in touch?

Cameron and his best friend George Osborne, who are toffs in the true English sense of the world, had attempted to portray themselves as fresh, modern, and not associated with the Conservatives’ sleazy past. They both went to Eton, Britain’s most elite public school, where Prince William and Prince Harry were educated. Yet here was Osborne, who has led an incredibly rich and privileged lifestyle, talking dodgy donations with a Russian oligarch. In a year’s time he could be custodian of the nation’s finances.

This appeared today in Tina Brown's Daily Beast and was written by Andrew Pierce.

Byline: And You Thought U.S. Conservatives Were Out of Touch!

The blog describes Pierce thus:

Pierce never went to university and cut his teeth on local papers.
Currently Assistant Editor of The Daily Telegraph, he also regularly appears on TV and radio.

So, let's get this straight: in the era of 24/7 news, the death of the deadline and Wikipedia - because it feels a bit like the reporting of Wallis Simpson & Edward the Foxe, or whoever he was - a two week old story that has trawled and spidered its way around the world and back, halted only briefly by the US election, is filed this morning on a brand new and much-hyped blog with no new news except that George Osborne went to school at Eton. Which of course he didn't. Now this doesn't matter much, except that maybe the editor has some idea about the difference between St. Pauls school and Eton? And news values?

Meanwhile, around the time Andrew Pierce was filing, Labour, of all parties, was winning a by-election in the UK.

You have to keep up, Tina. The world's got a bit quicker. And a lot more fact-checkerly: surely you remember working on the New Yorker?

First drafting of the second draft of History 2: Georgia "Not acting defensively"

The accounts are neither fully conclusive nor broad enough to settle the many lingering disputes over blame in a war that hardened relations between the Kremlin and the West. But they raise questions about the accuracy and honesty of Georgia’s insistence that its shelling of Tskhinvali, the capital of the breakaway region of South Ossetia, was a precise operation. Georgia has variously defended the shelling as necessary to stop heavy Ossetian shelling of Georgian villages, bring order to the region or counter a Russian invasion.

From the NYT.

First drafting of the second draft of history: Bush "unlucky" & "battered"

Like fish?

"One of the things that has been conventionally done is to compare George W. Bush to Harry Truman, both of whom had upon leaving office dismal approval ratings and of course as it is well known by now, Harry Truman's reputation has, by virtually every account, not only improved, but I would say escalated nearly to the top of the list of greater American presidents," Kellerman added.

CNN gives us a sneak preview of the historians' take on Bush.

Context not Content was McCain's failing

The editing tricksters of YouTube helped defeat McCain whenever it starved him of context. Surrounded by peers, contemporaries, buddies, colleagues, fellow veterans — men like himself — McCain might have made more sense.

From the Medium at the NYT.

There was radio before Russell Brand

From Wired:

Sound effects made these all come across with dramatic impact. Buck's psychic destruction ray was really a Schick electric razor held at just the right distance from the microphone. The sound effects crew could also simulate anything from a regiment of marching robots to a scary rocket-ship crash.

Buck Rogers slept with few pole dancers.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Memo to Gordon Brown - do this now: CTO-UK

New York magazine contributing editor, John Heilemann, interviewed billionaire venture capitalist John Doerr at a web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco this Wednesday. As Heilemann came straight off the campaign trail, he had a question directly from the President Elect, he said:

...Barack Obama wanted to know whom Mr. Doerr would recommend for chief technology officer of the United States, a position that Mr. Obama has promised to create. Mr. Doerr’s first choice was Bill Joy, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, in which Mr. Doerr invested early on. Mr. Joy is now a partner at Mr. Doerr’s firm, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Mr. Doerr said it would be a sacrifice to lose him to the Obama administration, but that “there is no greater cause.”

From the NYT.

Blog on Blogging is almost in Latin and the Quill used to write it is just a tad acidic for these times

In the US "shock-jock" populist talk radio of the Howard Stern school has overwhelmingly been rightwing and partisan regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans occupy the White House. We have nothing so vicious (or vacuous) here. Indeed, the dominant BBC is often criticised for being culturally liberal as well as politically nihilistic, sometimes rightly so.

The Guardian's Michael White takes a punt at explaining the InfoWeb and Web Logs in the wake of Hazel Blears claiming that bloggers could be nihilsts.

Here's another extract:

Jon Cruddas, a Portsmouth comprehensive school boy, who has moved up in the world far enough to have been a Downing St aide, now MP for Dagenham, is always banging on about the white working class being excluded from New Labour's multicultural meritocracy.

Chris Hughes anyone?

Why not?

Or this, which is the best answer of all.

Singalonga E-book: First Crime Novel with embedded Soundtrack launched

Sony Reader v. Newspaper - old and new a day after "the world changed".
Photograph by Ernesto Priego, Metropolitan line, November 5.

There is something of an E-book buzz right now, and after all the wait I'm pleased. Oprah went big on Amazon's Kindle a couple of weeks ago, and last night Harper Collins CEO Victoria Barnsley told a crowd at the LSE that the instant shopping angle of wireless enabled e-books such as the Kindle (in the USA) is a vital part of the e-book tipping point.

Forget the e-books can't furnish a room arguments (AKA male bookshelf status anxiety) and even the tactile angles. So much of the snobbery about e-books sounds just like journalists talking about the web a decade or so ago. They are coming.

Books, like newspapers, aren't about to vanish, but the lastest e-readers, like the Kindle and the Sony Reader (and even, just about, literary texts on the IPhone) are increasingly warm experiences. They are also amazing academic resources: imagine travelling with your entire doctoral bibliography, or every literary influence on the writings of - say - Doris Lessing.

So here, if you are going to go E-reader this Christmas, is a great South African - and culturally early - crime (e)-novel with 2020 dystopia, corporate apartheid, a rave review from Andre Brink added soundtrack. The novel, by Lauren Beukes, is called Moxyland. It is...

...the first ebook to contain an embedded music soundtrack. The soundtrack was compiled by African Dope Records to suit the mood and feel of the book's storyline. Arthur Attwell, Publishing Director of Electric Book Works says "To be worth buying and reading, an ebook should offer something that the print book can't offer. Ebooks offer many possibilities, including sound, links, colour, interactivity, and an almost unlimited number of pages. It’s important to take advantage of these."

So says publishers, Electric Book Works, of Cape Town, South Africa. And here's the publishers of the soundtrack. Did you know PDFs could embed sound? Me neither.

Full text of Victoria Barnsley's lecture at the LSE, via The Bookseller.

Images from the last US Election with Front Pages? Probably not.

Many more here. Thanks to NewsDesigner.

Blogger Tina Brown has good idea

Now can we please not risk any more catastrophes by letting this administration stick around? Just scrap the transition and let President Obama clean house right away like the Brits do at Number 10 Downing Street? In the country of my birth, the Prime Minister kisses the Queen’s hand and he’s in and the loser is on the way out with no time to make off with the silver.

Tina Brown in the Daily Beast.

Home Truths from Chicago: Journalism is dead™

Journalism is truly dead, and the situation may get worse with a liberal Congress, pushing the Fairness Doctrine, and a new administration that has shown a penchant for denying access to those who ask tough questions or have a dissenting opinion. We can only hope that the new president has the wisdom and courage to protect the First Amendment and a truly free press.

Kevin Brown in the Chicago Tribune.

Shortest honeymoon in History™ ?

Notes on Victoria Barnsley's LSE lecture

Harper Collins CEO, Victoria Barnsley spoke at the LSE last night. Some thoughts from a great publishing blog:

The coming change is driven by two things: (1) E-ink, (2) Publishers and retailers investing in digital distribution infrastructure. The ebook reading experience is getting better, in the form of the Kindle, Iliad and Sony Reader. The iPhone is a strong contender, as are all next-generation smartphones.

Kindle has the huge advantage of its wireless connection. Barnsley sees this as enabling the one thing that’s really changed books in the last decade: impulse shopping, as seen in Tesco’s and Asda, and in bookstores’ 3 for 2 offers. That’s the future. Imagine watching Cranford on the TV, and immediately downloading the complete works of Elizabeth Gaskell - “instant bedtime reading”. This impulse buying is the most significant development in bookselling.

Part of a blog by Apt about publishing, technology and design.

Future of the book project: collective readings in Doris Lessing

...for now, we believe books made of paper still have a substantial advantage over the screen for sustained reading of a linear narrative.

The Institute for the Future of the Book has organised for seven readers to work through Doris Lessing's The Golden Notebook, starting on November 10. The Lessing Seven will also "record their reactions to the process in a group blog". A public online forum for any of us reading along and following the conversation will also launch.

Buy The Golden Notebook here.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Derek Walcott: a poem for Obama and The Times

Out of the turmoil emerges one emblem, an engraving —

a young Negro at dawn in straw hat and overalls,

an emblem of impossible prophecy, a crowd

dividing like the furrow which a mule has ploughed,

parting for their president: a field of snow-flecked


forty acres wide, of crows with predictable omens

that the young ploughman ignores for his unforgotten

cotton-haired ancestors, while lined on one branch, is

a tense

court of bespectacled owls and, on the field's

receding rim —

a gesticulating scarecrow stamping with rage at him.

The small plough continues on this lined page

beyond the moaning ground, the lynching tree, the tornado's

black vengeance,

and the young ploughman feels the change in his veins,

heart, muscles, tendons,

till the land lies open like a flag as dawn's sure

light streaks the field and furrows wait for the sower.

Derek Walcott in The Times.

New Media Mogul Realizes that Something Has Been Lost, finally

Along the way, I think, something has been lost. It's the same thing my mother lamented as she watched my generation abandon the newspaper - common ground, common spaces - a common set of facts around which we as humans can gather, debate, and connect. And therein lies an opportunity, I sense, to create a new kind of search that is in fact 'not' personalized, but rather socialized - shared and common to all.

Hmm. John Battelle on thought leadership and loss. Muscular Technocracy gets sensitive in middle age.

White Spaces not Just Newspapers' empty advertising slots

The FT on "White Spaces".

...the applications would span “everything from enhanced home broadband networks, to intelligent peer-to-peer devices, and even small communications networks.”

Another FCC commissioner, Jonathan Adelstein, claimed the new spectrum would support a “third pipe” to the home, a new channel for broadband to compete with existing services from telecoms companies and cable operators.

And a third, Deborah Tate floated a number of potential uses, including this: “Communities of users may find they are able to communicate seamlessly through mesh networks rather than traditional phone lines.”

FCC on "White Spaces."

Nihilism or Not? The Guy Fawkes Kid Goes Prosey and Self Justifying

Everything all right at home? Though this is interesting in an interpretive way...

Asking political bloggers to "add value" is to misunderstand the relationship between a free press and politicians. Take a memo Ms Blears, we are not here to "add value", or do what politicians want, Guido has his own values and aims to hit back at political hypocrisy and lies. Politicians make laws, so they should be held to account, to a higher standard. The Nick Robinsons, Peter Riddells, Michael Whites and Steve Richardsons of the world don't do investigative digging, they report back their impressions from their lunch meetings. They re-package and interpret spin from the party machines. That is how they "add value". They are what Peter Oborne memorably described as the "client media".

From Guido Fawkes' blog, on his birthday as it were.

What next for the successes of citizen journalism?

Five Thirty Eight has picked up a lot of traffic as a result of this combination of analysis and reporting, and deservedly so. I am not sure that it quite counts as citizen journalism, but it is definitely not journalism as we have traditionally known it.

From the FT.



"He's run a campaign where he's used very modern tools, spoke to a new coalition, talked about new issues, and along the way, he's reinvented the way campaigns are run," says Simon Rosenberg, president and founder of the nonprofit think-tank NDN, and a veteran of Bill Clinton's first presidential campaign. "Compared to our 1992 campaign, this is like a multi-national corporation versus a non-profit."

Ironically, it was McCain who first saw the internet's potential in a presidential race, running an experimental set of targeted banner ads during his doomed 1999 primary battle against George W. Bush. But eight years later, Obama finally teased out the net's full potential as an election tool.

The campaign's commitment to online organizing took shape during the primaries, when it hired online director Joe Rospars, a veteran of Howard Dean's web-heavy 2004 campaign, and lured Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes to build its own social networking site,

From Wired.

The Story Begins to Change

Get ready for a fight in this country over the political narrative. The Government will argue that it has a new progressive left ally and that McCain, who visited the Tory conference, was defeated by the left. The Conservatives will argue that time for a change defeated it's no time for a novice.

Daniel Finkelstein in The Times.

Ha! End of Journalism

After she voted in her hometown, Gov. Sarah Palin was asked if she had any regrets about the campaign, CNN reported.

Palin bemoaned "the state of journalism today."

Little more here.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Tuesday November 4

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief...

Update: this just in from Tom P of Croton (and C. Porter of, ah, Paris)

If a holy Hindu man can,
If a gangly Anglican can,
If in Lesbos, a pure Lesbian can,
Baby, you can can-can too.

Right might be Wrong

Right-wing critiques of the press are usually filed by ideologues who, rather than trying to improve journalism, are trying to eradicate it, which pretty much sums up the work being done at NewsBusters.

I was reminded of that while reading this utterly predictable complaint about how the liberal media is (surprise!) going to cost John McCain the campaign. Specifically, the NewsBusters item details how when polled informally, journalists as a group often vote Democratic. And, of course (goes the Newsbusters thinking), because they vote Democratic that means journalists report Democratic, whatever that means.

Eric Boehlert in Media Matters.

Warp Speed

“I think we’ll be analyzing this election for years as a seminal, transformative race,” said Mark McKinnon, a senior adviser to President Bush’s campaigns in 2000 and 2004. “The year campaigns leveraged the Internet in ways never imagined. The year we went to warp speed. The year the paradigm got turned upside down and truly became bottom up instead of top down.”

The NYT on the election that changed things.

After the election, the bias

“So what?” Those two cavalier words alone speak to the larger problem. Who cares if “80 percent or more of journalists covering the 2008 election” will vote for Barack Obama? Journalists, their editors, management, the candidates and the American people should care.

Douglas Mackinnon in the NYT.

Escape to Victory

Obama urges engagement and dialogue "with our enemies as well as our friends". He stresses the importance of restoring America's standing abroad. McCain does not say so directly, but he casts the rest of the world as an essentially hostile arena, a vast "Out There", full of menaces that America has to stare down. In a spirited stump speech - "The Mac is back!" - delivered in Springfield, Virginia at the weekend, the only references to the world beyond US shores were to dictators, and to Obama's refusal to use the word "victory" when discussing American involvement in Iraq.

Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian.

Evet de

Peer Review to Solve Credit Crunch?

Over time, and through much argument, a rough consensus emerged that recapitalizing the banks was ultimately the most likely approach to work. And sure enough, that's what ended up happening. Now, there is no clear paper trail linking the econoblogosphere to Hank Paulson's change of heart, but it would be foolish to argue that his or Ben Bernanke's economic pronouncements did not receive withering peer review.

From Salon.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Sunday in the Park With(out) George

More pictures here.

да мы можем

Reason not the need - as long as it is an "A" star

When asked to speculate further on why fewer British teenagers now display mature reasoning, Professor Shayler [of King's College, London] eschews local explanations and puts the blame squarely on television and computers. They take children away from the physical experiences on which later inferential skills are based, he thinks, and teach them to value speed over depth, and passive entertainment over active.

From The Economist (page 41, in fact). Subscription needed, I think.

E-book revenues in the USA alone to beat $12 million for the second quarter of '08

From the International Digital Publishing Forum.

Modish and Insincere™ : 1960 - 2008

The Mail doesn't care. It reliably sets its face against what it sees as modish and insincere. It offers a view of the world - that everything has gone downhill since the 1950s, when women stayed in the kitchen, sex was saved for marriage and homosexuality was shameful - that is now rarely found elsewhere, not even in the Telegraph as that paper strives for a younger, trendier audience. It understands that one of a newspaper's functions is to give its readers a sense of security, belonging and simple values in an increasingly complex and unsettling world. The Mail is a supremely confident paper. Where others, trimming to focus groups, muffle their message, the Mail projects it relentlessly, and with great technical skill, from almost every page.

Peter Wilby.

No Shocks, Just Numbers: Pew on Media choice and the election

Nearly three times as many people ages 18 to 29 mention the internet as mention newspapers as a main source of election news (49% vs. 17%). Nearly the opposite is true among those over age 50: some 22% rely on the internet for election news while 39% look to newspapers. Compared with 2004, use of the internet for election news has increased across all age groups. Among the youngest cohort (age 18-29), TV has lost significant ground to the internet.

More here.

그렇습니다 우리는 할 수 있다

Dream Inversion: the Trickle Up Effects

The rags-to-riches story—that staple of American biography—has over the years been given two very different interpretations. The nineteenth-century version stressed the value of compensating for disadvantage. If you wanted to end up on top, the thinking went, it was better to start at the bottom, because it was there that you learned the discipline and motivation essential for success. “New York merchants preferred to hire country boys, on the theory that they worked harder, and were more resolute, obedient, and cheerful than native New Yorkers,” Irvin G. Wyllie wrote in his 1954 study “The Self-Made Man in America.” Andrew Carnegie, whose personal history was the defining self-made-man narrative of the nineteenth century, insisted that there was an advantage to being “cradled, nursed and reared in the stimulating school of poverty.” According to Carnegie, “It is not from the sons of the millionaire or the noble that the world receives its teachers, its martyrs, its inventors, its statesmen, its poets, or even its men of affairs. It is from the cottage of the poor that all these spring.”

Today, that interpretation has been reversed. Success is seen as a matter of capitalizing on socioeconomic advantage, not compensating for disadvantage. The mechanisms of social mobility—scholarships, affirmative action, housing vouchers, Head Start—all involve attempts to convert the poor from chronic outsiders to insiders, to rescue them from what is assumed to be a hopeless state. Nowadays, we don’t learn from poverty, we escape from poverty...

Malcolm Gladwell on Goldman Sachs.

The Typographer's take on the campaign

Begins with Hilary's yellow pants suit, and ends with a prank call.

FT makes it a Full House on the BBC

But for all that scrutiny of its content, in the end it may be the BBC’s global commercial activities that finally prompt changes in the way it is funded – with implications for other broadcasters, production houses and content providers around the world.

With 21 offices from Los Angeles to Sydney and Mumbai to Tokyo, Worldwide operates 36 channels reaching 285m homes, makes its own programmes in several languages, sells 60 magazines in 57 countries as well as DVDs and audio books by the million, and manages one of the planet’s most popular websites. Programmes such as Doctor Who, Top Gear and Dancing With The Stars are broadcast on BBC-branded channels and sold to others.

All are part of the raison d’être of Worldwide: to exploit the BBC’s content and make money on behalf of the 25.3m UK householders who pay £139.50 a year for a television licence. Some £200m-£250m goes back to the BBC each year, including direct investment in programming.

But other Worldwide activities are less obviously linked to that purpose. For instance, it publishes editions of Hello! and Grazia magazines under licence in India. Recently, Worldwide bought minority stakes in three UK production companies and one in Australia. Most controversially, it paid £75m for a 75 per cent stake in Lonely Planet, the travel guide company, hoping to use the brand to market thousands of hours of BBC travel and natural history programming.

More on the BBC and the Numbers in the FT.

Facebook sentiment about Obama

It can be measured, sort of.

Slate Covers the Election Bases

This situation lends a feeling of unreality to the proceedings as we begin to measure the time until Election Day in hours. It is the elephant on the campaign plane. No one is letting on. Journalists aren't supposed to. Plus, we've been wrong so often, and politics can be so unpredictable, it would be dumb to say that Obama is going to win big.

Slate seeks to secure November 5 future.

An Unidentified Narrative Object, Gomorrah, & The Hindu

The Hindu on the nature of the new narrative.

In the mid-19th century, an angry not-so-young man, wishing to write his “complete representation of reality” had been, in the words of biographer Francis Wheen, “pushing out beyond conventional prose into radical literary collage — juxtaposing voices and quotations from mythology and literature, from factory inspectors’ reports”, injecting his long, detailed narrative with hardboiled newspaper reports as well as using devilish metaphors (a favourite of mine from an earlier publication: “...all that is solid melts into air” to describe dislocation).

In a way, Gomorrah, with its contemporary descriptions of “capital [being] dead labour which, vampire-like, lives only by sucking living labour” is the mini Das Kapital of our times. And to mistake Saviano’s masterpiece as just ‘journalism’ would be to mistake Marx’s tumultuous classic as simply ‘economic theory’. It might not be everything that’s fit to print. But that’s our problem of defining the ‘fitness’ of things.

A question of balance

On any given night, there are two distinctly, even extremely, different views of the presidential campaign offered on two of the three big cable news networks, Fox News Channel and MSNBC, a dual reality that is reflected on the Internet as well.

On one, polls that are “tightening” are emphasized over those that are not, and the rest of the news media is portrayed as papering over questions about Mr. Obama’s past associations with people who have purportedly anti-American tendencies that he has not answered. (“I feel like we are talking to the Germans after Hitler comes to power, saying, ‘Oh, well, I didn’t know,’ ” Ann Coulter, the conservative commentator, told Mr. Hannity on Thursday.)

On the other, polls that show tightening are largely ignored, and the race is cast as one between an angry and erratic Mr. McCain, whose desperate, misleading campaign has as low as a 4 percent chance of beating a cool, confident and deserving Democratic nominee in Mr. Obama. (“He’s been a good father, a good citizen, he’s paid attention to his country,” Chris Matthews, the MSNBC host, said Wednesday night in addressing those who might be leaning against Mr. Obama based on race. “Give the guy a break and think about voting for him.”)

Yes, balancing up nicely at the NYT.

Or as FAIR put it:

...these are the quotes Rutenberg picks to show how similar the coverage on Fox and MSNBC is--one arguing that you shouldn't vote against a candidate based on his race, and the other comparing that candidate to a genocidal dictator.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

BBC, BNP or Bank of Scotland - what's worse?

For £14.3m we could employ 677 nurses, 695 teachers or 596 coppers.. but we get 50 money-grabbing BBC fat cats

The News of the World World Exclusive about the BBC.

When the BBC loses the licence fee, and everything is Sky Two, remember: we let this happen.

When Marina Hyde gets it, it must be important.

How are you enjoying the BBC witch trials, in which the Daily Mail has so brilliantly inhabited the Joseph McCarthy role? Naturally, were it all to stop now, the paper could take a curtain call, and bouquets, and offers of guest spots at the Salem Temperance Festival. Yet one can't help feeling the past week is just the start of a play in three acts, which begins with something genuinely nasty happening in the woods, but quickly subsumes all manner of innocents. Oh, for an Ed Murrow to lay bare the hypocrisies, contradictions and self-interest that lie beneath the witchfinder general's demented pursuit.

Mail on Sunday: angry.

And World's Greatest Newspaper is class semi-conscious.

Here's the great Charles Moore:
In the course of their on-air conversation, the pair joke that, near their telephones, most grandparents have photographs of their grandchildren sitting on a swing, so they decide, laughing hysterically, to point out to Mr Sachs that Brand "enjoyed" his granddaughter on a swing. They say many, many other targeted, horrible things.

In short, they think through all the permutations of mental pain that can be inflicted, and inflict them.

When the Abu Ghraib atrocities against Iraqi prisoners filled our media, people rightly noted that the torment consisted not in physical pain, but in humiliation.

The humiliation was increased by photographing the acts. The torturers thought that what they did was funny. They were arrested, dismissed from the US armed services and imprisoned.

Jonathan Ross was doing essentially the same thing. He thought it was funny to use his power to torment someone mentally, and to let other people witness the torment. His punishment so far is to earn £4.6 million this year from the BBC, instead of £6 million.

I think Bruce Parry should be made to go and live in Kensington Square: I'd give him a day.

Some more Charles Moore because we need a laugh:

At a time when taxes are rising, it would be a political winner for a party to promise the abolition of the licence fee, but of course this won't happen. Conservatives and Labour alike are terrified of the way the BBC would trash them if they did.

So it falls to us, the public. We do not have the power to stop Ross and Co by switching off. Time, then, to revolt.

My own modest contribution will be as follows. If Ross is still in post when my television licence next comes up for renewal, I shall keep my television, but refuse to pay the fee.

Instead, I shall hand over the £139.50 to Help the Aged, and wait for Mark Thompson's detector van to come to my door.

Charles Moore is 52 years old. Is that old enough for him to write the cheque to himself?

Bush Language

In psychiatric parlance, rigid polarities like those the President has made time and again are regarded as pathological: 'splitting'. The patient is unable to tolerate ambiguity and insists on viewing the people in his life through an 'all good' or 'all bad' lens. Bush and his cohorts have been masterful splitters, employing a language that gives no room for exchange and necessarily distorts reality, which, unfortunately, is usually murky. This kind of speech does not recognise an interlocutor, a real human other. It is speech without empathy, and it is startlingly similar to the rhetoric of the Muslim radicals who spew venom on the West and 'the enemies of Islam'.

Siri Hustvedt in the Observer....

who describe her thus:

Novelist, essayist and poet whose most recent novel, The Sorrows of an American, came out this year. Married to fellow writer Paul Auster.

We do truly live in Mad Men, don't we?