Friday, December 16, 2005

What they should be highlighting (it languishes now in the Middle East pages of the BBC world news website).

What they are highlighting. Of all the pathetic cooked up non-human interest stories to lead with- when they could be giving witness to history. Needless to say a certain Justin Webb was BBC midwife of the story and the Liberal media in the US the delighted parents. I have to say it's a most absurd distraction from some Good News from Iraq.

(even CNN kept this headline: Iraq elections a 'success'- reporting the UN observer's verdict in predictable but at least consistent tranzi style- as their top world news story. I just find the BBC's obsession with Democrat talking points totally, well, biased.)

Thursday, December 15, 2005

A Few Observations

I have been very busy the last few days. That's number one.

A second observation: Aren't BiasedBBC doing well? It's great to see Toby back posting and posting so much so quickly. He's a clever guy and it interests me just how distinctive is everyone's mode of writing. You could extract sections of writing from bloggers that I know and mix them up, and still find yourself recognising authorship correctly. Toby's terse and forensic; Natalie wistful and seductively newsy; Andrew blending the barnstorming with the sardonic. No, I'm not all misty-eyed about group-blogging; No, this is not a meander in place of a post; I certainly hope it's not vainglorious blog vanity-card broadcast into a void; It's just that sometimes it pays to reflect on the evolution of the blog and perhaps what's fun about it and what it can do.

What, for example, is the difference between the equally thoughful posts of Natalie and Adloyada, who, being 'sort of' a woman and vetted as having a sound mind, has been doing the anti-Beeb bit on the Beeb (sort of bringing the militants in-house, which one can do when they're not packing bomb-belts or bringing in friends with bombbelts)? Answer: Natalie kind of meanders around a bit, like a country walk along the riverside, making allusions which you only get at the end as you reach the vista you were seeking all along; Adloyada picks a thread and then pulls and pulls, taking care to straighten the material so as not to hurt the threads she doesn't object to. Both I enjoy- and naturally, regarding their styles I generalise rather.

A third observation: I really admire America; not so much for getting everything right (although, in my view they do that with a startling frequency) as simply for getting. Getting a murderer some justice; getting a country a vote; getting an economy with draws people in and builds them up. All this takes conviction, and that's actually the only fault I find with the US in their Iraq mission (as in other fields, such as taking on the Iranian menace). I think the only thing they really GOT wrong, was not believing in themselves enough. But of course not believing in oneslf is not a crime, I suppose.

A final observation
: Toby was a little off when he said sorry to me for posting approvingly about a Paul Reynolds' article on the Beeb. Having recently had to digest some of John Simpson's rants on the BBC website I have come to feel that Paul Reynolds wasn't so bad after all (but, dear reader, read on, for I have hopes even for Mr Simpson). Or rather, it seems to me that he has adjusted his style, retreated a little into observations drawing from a much deeper pool of experience and a drier, more intellectual approach rather than trying to hit populist (popular according to Beeb groupthink) contrarian notes re US policy. It's at least possible that contact with the wider blogosphere and the reactive media therein have modified his approach, maybe even changed a few little pieces of his mind- possibly out of awareness that a decisive critical audience exists which can and will undermine his authority to speak if he fails to give it some of its due. It's all good I feel! I've never questioned his savvy, or his skills, and least of all I hope his experience, and I feel that just now these gifts are being more responsibly deployed. Thus, I agree with Toby, largely.

Final, final observation: this Reynolds' article is a case in point- from 'One is tempted to say' (but of course, doesn't), to 'All this is not unhopeful for US policymakers.' Even the sceptical note at the end is a kind of 'one never knows' point, based on the events in the real mad world out there, as experienced selectively by the writer. In other worlds [a typo I have allowed to stay in- should be 'words'], Mr Reynolds has written a good piece. Maybe another good piece, Toby. Bravo.

And the last one: Check out this article from a different kind of Reyolds, in May 2004. Back then Reynolds was saying 'Events in Iraq have been spinning out of control - and out of control of the spinners - so fast on so many fronts that the W word - withdrawal - is now being mentioned.' . This one was googled from the memory association of 'Reynolds' with 'quagmire'- though this time Reynolds' mention of quagmire was via what he called the 'gadfly' pro-war journalist Christopher Hitchens. It certainly seems like Mr Reynolds has done a bit of gadding since then. And since then too, the US, and GWB, along especially with the Iraqi and Afghan peoples, has done a fair amount of getting.

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Don't normally do entertainment, but this is a great remembrance of Richard Prior, such a likeable comedian. Also, I think while I'm about it I'll recommend a CD for Christmas: James Blunt, author of Back to Bedlam, is not your average balladeer, having served as a Captain in the British Army in Kosovo. His music's of the timeless variety, with great lyrics and real themes (you may already know this- I'm not sure how big a hit he's been yet in the UK, apart from 'Beautiful'). The final track on the album is performed by a Private, a Lieutenant, a Colonel and a Captain (Blunt). A little refreshingly different.

Typically, I find the Guardian pointedly saying that Blunt (peevishly) thinks he's the 'housewife's favourite'- but since when did the Guardian ever believe such a creature continued to exist for them to promulgate the idea? I though it was all about gay dwarves now. Uncontent with one putdown, the ever-hypocritical ones' sneering review goes on to cite a following of gay men (as if there were some unholy alliance of gay men and housewives in the nexus of uncool). I don't know about either of these things; but only that there's real depth there in the writing, a little like Dylan without the (essential) irritating and hectoring politics. This makes James Blunt a serious talent in my book. As for comparisons with early Elton John, which the Captain modestly deflects in other reports- I should think so too, because it's blatantly obvious how much cleverer Blunt is than Reggie. As usual, the Guardian votes with its social radar rather than any recognisable thought process.

So, in (a highly unusual) summary (for me), buy it, or download, or whatever.

Not all such bad chaps, evidently.

I'm pretty suspicious of our Foreign Office in general, but there's no doubt they get together interesting CVs. Via Albion's Seedlings.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Not good at numbers

Perhaps John Simpson and I share that in common, but I think that I've calculated accurately when I say that comparison of this years's BBC survey and last year's BBC survey of public opinion in Iraq shows one interesting statistic- the level of optimism there hasn't declined; if anything it's increased.

To their small credit, they reported the optimism in the headline of their news item.

Simpson however does his typical 'don't bother me with facts' analysis where the usual BBC tactic of placing their subjective opinion over and above what is demonstrable is on display.

Undoubtedly the situation in a country as repressed and damaged as Iraq will be complex, such that peace doesn't always mean progress (pace some parts of Iraq under Saddam), and unrest doesn't indicate unworkableness except for those who attempt the usual unrealistic activities of a media tourist (pace Simpson).

Yes, clearly, 'Things have changed radically in Baghdad since March last year - and not for the better' (for Simpson)- but do we really need this subjective browbeating of unwelcome survey findings from the BBC's most senior Foreign correspondent? Isn't it prejudicial when already the Beeb were struggling to find a way through the straightjacket of statistics to reassert their chosen interpretation of Iraq (to which they are sticking)?

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