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Month: December 2003

Why it’s so important to ban fox hunting

So, why do the government want to ban fox hunting? It’s clearly not an animal cruelty issue, because battery chicken farming would be much higher up that agenda. So, public demand then? Apparently not:

BBC NEWS | UK | Put NHS before hunting, poll says

2% of the population think the ban is a priority? Clearly not mass public demand then. Surely it couldn’t be that an urban-dominated government is making a petty attack on the rural communities that usually vote for their opposition?

Heaven forbid.

Bah and, indeed, Humbug

I know I should be full of the Christmas cheer right now, especially as a believe in the whole incarnated-God-born-in-the-child-of-a-Jewish-virgin deal. The papers are being extremely uncooperative, though, and leaving me vaguely annoyed. Behind this disquiet are two names: Ian Huntley and Michael Jackson.

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The BBC pre-empts Hutton

The Media section of The Guardian carries an interesting story on the shake-up within BBC News in light of the Gilligan “Sexed-up dossier” story: MediaGuardian.co.uk | Special reports | BBC tightens rules on single-source stories

The two key points are these:

  1. All single-source stories will only be broadcast after being carefully scripted.
  2. That senior journalists are to have their freelance writing careers abruptly ended, and will be paid financial compensation for this. Lesser ranking hacks may still write for other media, but will have their articles approved by BBC managers first.

The first point seems like a good call. I’m less convinced about the second. TV and radio news are surprisingly shallow media. They only allow a fraction of the words carried by any of the daily papers. When a state-funded broadcaster curtails the ability of its most prominent and respected journalists to write for other media it, in effect, deprives us of a conduit for hearing their more detailed analysis and reporting.

The obvious solution is simple: get these guys writing for BBC Online instead, rather than just reproducing the gist of the broadcasts in text. They still get to write more than they do at the moment, BBC managers retain a veto and the public get the writing for free.

Doomed gadgets #3495

There’s an article in today’s Independent that trumpets a new MP3 player that has a colour screen and the ability to play movie files as an iPod killer. Apparently we’re all going to get bored of our iPods because they only play music. Just like, indeed, we got bored of our Walkmans over the years. Oh, hang on, we didn’t. I don’t think the “video iPod” is a flyer, simply because people like listening to music on the go, but just don’t watch TV in the same way. If you look in most gadget shops, you can buy personal TVs, small enough to carry around with you. When did you last see someone using one in public?

The problem with gadget freaks is that they are more excited by the technology than the use that the technology gets put to. And then, idiots like the journalist behind this article make the manufacturers think they can actually make money on bits of kit like this. They’re not going to, of course, The reason that the iPod is so successful is not the fact that it’s a cool piece of technology, it’s because its a cool and easy way to listen to 1,000s of songs whenever you want. If an iPod killer does come along, it’ll be something that does the same thing, is nearly as cool and easy to use and is hugely cheaper. It won’t be a clone that plays movies. Do you have any idea where you’d get movies to put on the device? No, I don’t either. Do you have any idea how you’d get, say, a DVD onto the device? No, I don’t either. The iPod is a simple solution which provides something people want – the ability to carry their music collection with them – while these video equivalents are merely a technology in desperate search of an application.

Light the Lights

I have lived in the same flat for the last eight years of my life, and I have always been pleased by the fact that Lewisham Council stops its streetlight Christmas decorations just across the road from my block. Alas, no longer. Now the lights are lit I can no longer hide from the fact that there are jolly Christmas lights outside my flat. They glare festively through the hall window from nightfall (around 4pm these days) through to the following morning. There’s nothing for it. Lorna and I are going to have to get fairly lights, trees, tinsel, the whole nine yards.

Let’s get festive.