Tag Archives: panic

F**k you very very much, Lily Haw-Haw

Good grief. Who put Lily Allen up to this? It has become a cliche to bemoan politicians for not “getting it” but where does one start?

The whole POINT about file-sharing is that it enables artists to by-pass record companies. This massive debt that Allen complains about is part of an old, outmoded business plan. To complain about it is to give the game away about what it is that the music industry is really seeking to defend here.

And mix tapes are crap quality? Oh really? So before the internet we didn’t have vinyl, tape and CDs and had to depend solely on (presumably long wave) radio? Anyone would think “Home Taping Is Killing Music” never happened.

But the worse thing about this article is all the cheap knocking copy aimed at Simon Cowell and designed to position Allen as some kind of edgy artist with street cred. Back in 2006 when she first emerged, all that fake housing estate stuff really grated. I actually bought her last album because I thought she’d finally stopped being such a fake. I wish I’d downloaded it illegally now.

If you want to listen to good, unsigned and independent musical acts that don’t have rich mummies and daddies on hand to get them started, I thoroughly recommend you check out EyeSeeSound (the new name for The 411 Show):

Caron, Charlotte and Costigan are all right about the ISA

I’ve been impressed by the quality of Lib Dem blog posts about the Independent Safeguarding Authority over the past few days. Caron Lindsay, Charlotte Gore and Costigan Quist all make excellent points, albeit from different perspectives. The line in Caron’s post which I thought was most worth highlighting was this one about the Soham case:

The idea is that Ian Huntley, the man responsible for the Soham murders, would have been caught out by this new register because his previous charges or complaints against him would have come to light. But what if he had been identified and removed from the school premises? He’d still have lived somewhere and perhaps on another day a combination of circumstances would have presented him with the opportunity to kill random children he came into contact with.

She’s absolutely correct: displacing the problem is not the same thing as stopping it. Ian Huntley only had to murder or abuse once for it to be too often. Charlotte meanwhile hits the nail on the head here:

Quote, “it is not a punitive sanction. It’s a proactive measure to protect children and vulnerable adults.” Oh, that’s alright then. So say I submit myself to the ISA for vetting and they decide to bar me, and I have to go to all the other parents and admit to them that I’ve been blacklisted so, you know, sorry, I can’t give your kids a lift to footie anymore…. they’ll be sympathetic and understanding to my unlucky run-in with a paranoid, faceless state will they? I doubt it. Rumours will spread that I’m obviously totally dodgy, probably a paedophile, too – I mean, the Safeguarding Authority must have had a good reason to ban me, right? No smoke without fire? Yet smoke is what the ISA are using to come up with their decisions. You see the problem?

One thing I also found interesting about Charlotte’s post is her comfort with the Sex Offenders’ Register. I remember when this was being introduced at the time and the amount of ink (it was ink in those days) used in agonising about it. Back then, one of the big concerns was that an 18 year old who had been caught having a homosexual relationship with a 16 year old would be added to the register (the homosexual age of consent has of course now been lowered of course). Caron gives a similar heterosexual example in her post. It says something about our times when even a notorious libertarian is prepared to concede that such a register is necessary and is an interesting example of authoritarian fatigue (my other favourite being pre-charge detention which has more or less been ceded to the authoritarians in the wider public debate). Finally though, Costigan’s alternative take is also worth remembering:

As the ISA proudly says, this will be the largest system of its kind in the world. Over five years, 11 million of us will be brought onto it. With my permission, an employer or voluntary organisation will be able to check me out online. You just need to do the maths. 11.3 million over five years works out as 9,000 people a day being put onto the system. Nine thousand a day. Approximately one person every three seconds. The idea that experts with gather data effectively and use their judgement to make the right decision on each person is completely laughable. The ISA won’t have enough resources. It will do what always happens in these situations. Corners will be cut, large chunks of data will be imported with little or no checking and decisions based on guesses, rules of thumb and arbitrary thresholds will be the order of the day.

As ever, the threat is not Big Brother but Computer Says No. Our fate is not to be Citizen Smith but Harry Buttle. Within five years, another child will be abducted/abused/murdered by someone in a position of trust and once again the media will be clamouring “why did we let this happen?” Once again, the government solution will be yet another register, yet more checks, yet more expense. And once again people will withdraw just a little bit more into the private sphere, trust their neighours a little less and hope to God that the system will work this time.

Does the Guardian work for an Octopus God?

funny pictures
moar funny pictures

Okay, panic over. It turns out that rumours of Martian tripods returning to earth and confusing our!women! with wind turbines have been exaggerated. It transpires that it was, in fact, a combination of metal fatigue and what sounds like a rather unspectacular fireworks display put on the family of Guardian journalist Emily Bell.

Fair enough. Mystery solved. But what the hell is the guy going on about in the first paragraph?

“It was huge,” John Harrison, a farmer from Saltfleetby, said yesterday of the light display he saw in the Lincolnshire sky on Saturday night. “At first I thought it must have been a hole where the moon was shining through, but then I saw the tentacles. It looked just like an octopus.”

I suspect John Harrison has been at the rarebits again. Nevertheless, that description does sound familiar. And then it hit me: this is almost exactly what happens at the end of the first Hellboy film.

Somehow I doubt the Great Old Ones are particularly interested in wind energy, but maybe that’s what the Guardian wants us to think.

Eek! Evil EU ban our traditional way of light!

Chris Applegate’s life work is without purpose. Why? Because the Daily Mail is unspoofable. What satirical mind could have come up with this pile of nonsense for instance?

Revolt! Robbed of their right to buy traditional light bulbs, millions are clearing shelves of last supplies

Millions of Britons are finally waking up to the fact that their beloved light bulb will disappear for good after 120 years.

Traditional 100-watt bulbs are vanishing from the High Street because of a controversial European Union decision.

Yesterday panic buyers were snapping up the remaining bulbs in a last-ditch attempt to stockpile the final supplies. Hundreds of leading supermarkets and DIY chains – including Sainsbury’s, Asda and Homebase – have already sold their last remaining bulbs after a surge in panic buying.

Other stores say they have enough stocks to last until the end of next week.

Let’s work backwards on this one. First of all, very few stores will have enough stock to last until the end of next week. That’s how modern shops work. Why keep loads of deadweight stock in store when you can have it delivered to you when you need it?

Secondly, until you read this, were you aware of any panic buying? No? Me neither. On the other hand I am very much aware that one of the main suppliers of lightbulbs on the high street, Woolworths, shut its doors for the last time yesterday. I was also very aware over Christmas how all stores were keeping their stock particularly low. During an economic downturn and with the banks in trouble, we should expect this as cash flow has become that much more important.

Thirdly, traditional? Joseph Swan invented it 131 years ago (with that crook Edison trying to rip him off as per). How does that count as “traditional.” My generation’s grandparents will have had gas when they were kids – that is how new an invention this is.

Fourthly, 100w? If your complaint about energy saving lightbulbs is that the light from them is “harsh” (I disagree, but there you go), why would you want a 100w bulb? Wouldn’t a 60w or 40w suit you better (lower wattage bulbs will remain on sale until 2011)? I am not a historian of the lightbulb but I’m pretty much willing to bet you that the “traditional” bamboo-filament bulbs of the late 19th century would have blown up if you put 100w through them.

Fifthly, an EU decision? The UK voluntarily signed up to the scheme.

Sixthly, energy saving bulbs cause seizures? Epilepsy Action don’t think so (hat tip: Blagger).

Seventh, energy saving bulbs cause rashes? Maybe, in certain cases, but only for people who already have dermatological conditions.

Eighth, energy saving bulbs damage the environment? They do contain trace levels of mercury, but if recycled properly are no problem (I’ve been using these bulbs for over 20 years and have never even seen a broken one – they’re much more robust than incandescent bulbs). “Traditional” bulbs contain mercury as well – in fact by switching to compact fluorescent lamps, you will reduce the level of mercury you use.

Regarding points six, seven and eight though, they are out of date as LEDs are set to replace CFLs over the next few years. The main barrier to introducing them has been, yes, the predominence of the “traditional incandescent light bulb.”

All in all, the Mail story amounts to a confection of lies and misleading scare stories. Pretty much nothing in it turns out to be true. So no change there then.

Charlie Brooker says it for me.

If I had had an opportunity over the weekend, I was planning to write an essay on my view of the whole Russell Brand / Jonathan Ross episode. Having read Charlie Brooker this morning however, I now realise I don’t need to:

The sad, likely outcome of this pitiful gitstorm is an increase in BBC jumpiness. I have a vested interest in this, of course, because I’ve just started work on the next series of my BBC4 show Screen Wipe, on which we sometimes sail close to the wind. In the past, the BBC has occasionally stepped in to nix the odd line that oversteps the mark – as it should do, when parameters aren’t out of whack.

But when the Beeb’s under fire, those parameters can change. Last year, following the “fakery” scandals, we recorded a trailer for the series in which I mocked a BBC4 ident featuring footage of seagulls, by fooling around with a plastic seagull on a stick and muttering about how you couldn’t trust anything on TV any more. Pure Crackerjack. But suddenly it couldn’t be transmitted, due to “the current climate”. So God knows how restrictive things might get over the coming months.

Read it all here.

Forward! Forward to defeat!

Just had an email from RedState.com. It may give you an idea of where the Repubicans’ heads are at right now (my emphasis):

I’ve heard from many of you who share our concerns that November 4, 2008 has the potential to not be a very good night for Republicans.

The race at the head of the ticket is anyone’s call at this point, but there are a number of House and Senate races out there in which we are quite likely to succeed.

These are races in which contributions from real people–not lobbyists or professional “bundlers”–can make a real difference.

In the Senate, four incumbant Republicans are fighting close re-election fights. I don’t have to tell you that if the Democrats get to sixty seats, we will have a hard time stopping their left-wing agenda.

In the House, there are six Republicans who each have a very good chance of beating a Democrat incumbent or holding an open seat that an incumbent Republican is leaving.

You can see a full list of races to consider here. Your help can make a real difference. Together we can mitigate the damage.

You will forgive my hollow laughter. That’s it. That’s the scale of their ambition. I think this email tells me more about how the election is going in the US than any opinion poll.