Archive for May, 2009

Has Google got news for you

May 31, 2009 Leave a comment

So I logged into WordPress this morning for a quick look at what’s going on and by chance spotted one of the featured blogs and the intriguing headline: 10 reasons why Google just reinvented online communication.

“Yeah, right”, I thought.

So I read, and I followed the links, and then I watched the video:

Two hours later I sat back and took a deep breath.




Google Wave is a radical step forward, and even better, it’s open source.

First of all I watched this as a computer-user, sick and tired of continually switching between my e-mail, IM, browser and blog, either in windows or in tabs.

Then I watched this as a content producer, a writer and began to ask myself about how the dissemination of information would be changed by a toolkit such as this, not just between friends or colleagues, but between a media organisation and their audience.

The whole video  is very interesting, but if you haven’t got a spare 90 minutes, check out some highlights including – blogging (0:20), accountability (0:33), concurrent editing/collaboration (0:35), spell checking and linking (0:45), productivity tools (0:50), twittering (1:00) and translation tools (1:13).

The whole landscape suddenly took on a whole new view – there’s a party coming and everyone online is invited.


Someone earned their money here…

May 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Hats off to whoever it was who came up with the name of Everton Football Club’s new shop in the Liverpool One shopping centre.

Its a pun of two halves...

It's a pun of two halves...

It’s called “Everton Two”, which of course makes the address “Everton Two, Liverpool One”, while the main shop next to their stadium at Goodison Park becomes “Everton One”.

Some press reports say the name has, as expected, cause a bit of a stir among Liverpool fans, and no doubt there will now be some of them calling for the £1bn shopping centre to be re-named Liverpool Three…

[EDIT/Update: Maybe after their performance in the FA Cup final, Everton might want to review this decision – the result? Chelsea 2, Everton 1]

Categories: Stuff Tags: ,

Craven coverage

May 24, 2009 Leave a comment

Following my posting the other day about the less than credible media debate being conducted by Fox News in America, I tuned in eagerly to Al Jazeera‘s latest edition of Listening Post which focussed this week on the issue of media coverage of the torture debate in the US.

As ever, the reporting by Richard Gizbert pulled no punches:

“Weasel words and sophistry” was the famous description used by Alistair Campbell to deplore the BBC’s initial response to his complaints about the Gilligan report which asserted, quite truthfully as it turns out, that the British Government knew their own dossier on Iraq’s WMDs was largely fiction.

The problem was that Campbell succeeded in making the story about those words, rather than the issue itself, as a result of which a senior civil servant lost his life and the BBC’s editorial independence was damaged beyond repair.

Exactly the same in now happening in the US over the issue of the word “torture” and sadly the once great bastions of American journalism, such as The New York Times have allowed the debate to be shaped by the politicians rather than by common sense.

As Listening Post demonstrates, the NYT appears to be refusing to use the “T”-word, claiming there has been no legal judgement that waterboarding is torture; the problem is that everyone else, including the broadcasters, are following their lead, or should that be, lack of a lead.

So this journalist has a simple question: If it quacks and waddles, why does the NYT and every other spineless journalist in America need a Supreme Court ruling to tell them it’s a duck?

The joke’s on … who?

May 24, 2009 1 comment

The collective sound of jaws dropping across the breakfast tables of Britain was almost audible this morning as people read the details of how the leader of the UK Indpendence Party, Nigel Farage, has claimed £2 MILLION in expenses as a member of the European Parliament.

Compared to the expenses claims of our national MPs, Mr Forage’s efforts make their’s look like fiddling small change, and only go to prove that if someone is doing something wrong, someone, somewhere is doing it bigger and better.

Like many, when I first read of this, I was tempted to launch into one of my usual rants about MPs, polticians, tax-payers money and especially the gold-plated gravy train that is the European Parliament.

But how could I? By boasting publically, Mr Farage has made a bigger statement about the inherant, and accepted, corruption at the heart of the the EU than any rant by a mere blogger.

Indeed there is something deliciously ironic about the expenses system of the European Parliament being exploited, perfectly legally it would appear, to help fund the UK Independence Party’s message that the UK should get out of the EU.

The expenses, of course, are on top of Mr Farage’s salary of over £64,000 a year, and his party is jumping on the domestic expenses row to call on voters to punish “greedy” MPs at the European elections on June 4.

Cue the predictable braying from MPs in the UK, who lifted their noses from the trough long enough to heap scorn on Mr Farage, claiming he is a hypocrite and no better than they.

Sadly this only further demonstrates their stupidity and the genius of Mr Farage’s revelation and his timing – what they forget is that they themselves pledged that they would be honest, and they will now reap the whirlwind at the ballot box.

However, when it comes to anything to do with Europe, the electorate is so used to stories about the endemic corruption at the heart of Brussels, that we would probably have been more shocked if Mr Farage hadn’t been cashing in!

The other thing to note is that by using the money to promote UKIP’s message, Mr Farage has, at least, remained true to his principles, which is a damn sight more than most of his political peers have done.

Shatner shenanigans

May 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Have to take my hat off to the bloggers over at The Guardian, in this case Chris Michael who has written a wonderful retrospective on William Shatner.

I’m not going to add anything, just go read the piece yourself and do make sure you follow the links to enjoy some vintage Shatner – his evisceration of the young director during a recording session is a perfect example of how to completely take someone apart, and ensure they love you for it afterwards – I wonder who the poor sap on the other side of the glass was, and what happened to his career afterwards.

I also wonder what Jarvis Cocker thinks of the fact that Shatner’s interpretation of Pulp’s Common People will probably be the one everyone remembers, even though the original was brilliant.

Anyway, stop reading here and go over there and I’m sure you’ll agree with their conclusion:

William Shatner may be a living joke, but his dignity, not to say his genius, is that he’s the one telling it.


Political Reality check

May 20, 2009 Leave a comment

OK, so I’ve really gone to town on the British political system and the current scandal over MPs expenses, but not without reason.

So as an antidote, I was pointed towards this video, a salutory reminder that whatever one may say about the UK’s political system, at least it is not one where the media debate is based on complete lies:

I really don’t want to even tag this with “bad journalism”, because that would imply that Fox News actually bears some relation to real journalism.

Honourable? Don’t you believe it

May 20, 2009 Leave a comment

Conservative MP and so-called “Tory grandee” Anthony Steen is to become the second MP to announce that he is stepping down over his expenses claim.

The Totnes MP claimed tens of thousands of pounds worth of OUR money to pay for the upkeep of his “country mansion” in Devon, including work on 500 trees, leaking pipes, a wrought iron fireplace and lighting.

Yesterday another Tory MP, Douglas Hogg, resigned over expenses he claimed for having a moat cleared at his stately pile. He is otherwise known as the 3rd Viscount Hailsham.

Three points here – the first is that both of these men are long-standing MPs – Steen has been an MP since 1974, while Hogg was first elected in 1979.

These are people who know the rules of Parliament intimately, they know how the system works and how best to make it work for them – one wonders how many other expenses they have claimed over the last 30+ years that we are still unaware of?

Secondly, while it may sound like these people have done “the honourable thing” by announcing they are stepping down, one should remember that by “stepping down” this does not mean that they will be resigning immediately.

“Stepping down” means they will not seek re-election, so they will continue as MPs until the next elections, whenever that may be, and continue to benefit from all the trappings of grandeur and the perks that the post of MP brings with it.

Finally, they will also benefit from the pensions and other benefits that come to former MPs, including lucrative seats on gravy trains including NGOs, non-executive directorships in business or on government quangos, or even seats in the House of Lords.

Some punishment eh?

So don’t be fooled by the faux show of remorse by these people – what really grates is that had I, or any ordinary member of the public tried to get away with claiming for the upkeep of their homes against the public purse, say through our income tax or VAT returns, we would fully expect to be languishing in a jail cell now.