Sunday, 24 April 2011

A new Guardian hack for me to complain about

Simon Garfield

Here are some gems. Firstly from his (awful) piece on Sir Clive Sinclair:

"Sinclair, who is not an especially tall man, has always been a great one for the smallness of things."

"..colour games such as Jet Set Willy became the second major activity in teenage bedrooms"

Then he gives us a quoted snippet of the conversation - it doesn't seem to be going too well. In fact it appears Sir Clive wishes the meeting would come to a speedy conclusion. And I can't imagine why!

The lack of substance in the article would suggest that the encounter was indeed short :) Though that impression may be due to the general inadequacy of the work that went into the piece, I couldn't say.

Here's a quote from  his review of a book called "Listening to Britain", an account of some Government snooping on it's own people to get an idea of national morale.

"How genuine was the daily fear of invasion, how imaginative our fantasies, and how widespread our bigoted views of foreigners"

I don't know how well Garfield knows his history, about the camps specifically set up to torture and exterminate mind-boggling numbers of human beings, the nauseating experiments and brutality that we know went on in them. I wonder how imaginative our fantasies were, then, before we became the enlightened 21st century anti-patriots we are now.

Laudable though his distrust of spying governments is, Garfield wants - for his own reasons - to portray Britain's wartime spirit as "a rather tremulous and febrile blethering, more Dad's Army stumbling than unwavering Churchillian resolve". Now I rather like stories of Churchillian resolve, so I admit to being initially biased, but Garfield only sees proof of what he wants to see, and rather self-confidently - Guardian style.

He gives very few actual examples of xenophobia. I don't dispute them. Such attitudes were in abundance in advance of WW1 as well, and Niall Fergusson argues, I believe*, that the actual German threat (in terms of plans to invade) to Britain was negligible at that time. 

So similar attitudes were to be found in 1940 (but more threat of invasion). But I wonder what our journalist-hero expects to find, in a time of extreme fear and distrust. Imaginations run wild - and yet Garfield thinks one or two stories of fears of parachuting nuns are proof of our national xenophobia, at a time when whole populations were being wiped out; a few years after the Nanjing massacre**; not long after a long and bloody war with Germany, watching their military machine rise again...Surprisingly, some xenophobic comments emerged. To a certain type of journalist this is big news.

Such writers constantly harp on about British "xenophobia" - wherever they can find it - ignoring everything else. They love stories of arrogant British toffs, feckless decision makers, military operations that went wrong etcetc. In short, they are learning nothing, just linking everything they read to a story they have already outlined in their heads - a sure way to mental stagnation.  

* I'm getting facts from Wikipedia on this occasion :)

** I mention this to put stories of our own prejudice at the time into context

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Elisabeth Sladen

I was pretty happy earlier today. A beautiful day all round. Now I'm just watching the Twitter feed as the news of Elisabeth Sladen's death seems to be the main news of the night. I'm listening to Tori Amos' "Winter" ( a video of a live performance on YT) and crying surprising floods of tears.

As well as starring in my favourite boyhood TV show, she appeared to be an utterly delightful, charming person. The perfect companion...

Monday, 11 April 2011

BBC feminist clique on the website....again

A week or two ago I started noticing this trend in the BBC website again and blogged about it. The front page had a feature on "Women in business: linking to a page packed with rather gender-politically biased headlines.

Today's example is again on the homepage and is a feature called "Women War Artists", with the subtitle
"The Imperial War Museum London is celebrating their remarkable experiences and achievements"

I'm sorry to harp on about this - I really have no problem with women achieving a much as men do. I just take exception to the political and social pressure to constantly "celebrate" it when a woman does anything at all, however minor. There is an implication here - perhaps not clear even to those writing this stuff but there nonetheless - of a certain inequality, which is exactly what feminists claim they hate the most.

The thinking sometimes hear is that women's achievements have to be 'celebrated' (I hate that word, it is rather PC-speak, don't you think?) because they have been under-represented in the past....This is a kind of orthodoxy and there is considerable pressure in some places to accept and affirm it. .Would I be right in thinking the BBC was just such a workplace?

The problem with this orthodoxy are twofold:
a) we don't know if it's bloody true or not! It's just stated and restated by feminists
b) even if it WERE true, the solution that would be most equal would be not to mention the sex/colour/"race" of who is achieving things in the first place

The problem  is that the BBC think that it is important to keep saying that women are doing great things and we need to know why they think that. It does rather look as if they wish to speak negatively about men and always in the most glowing terms about women.

Still doubt me? Do a google search on "women" on the BBC website as a whole, or just in the news section. And you'll see how anxious the BBC are to divide people up into men and women, and assign values and victim status one way or another. Some headlines, in case you miss them:

Women 'cope better with stress'
Men 'out-performed at university'
Are women better negotiators?
If... Women Ruled The World
Monkeys learn more from females
Women drivers 'more law abiding'
Women top men as share tipsters
Women 'to be richer sex by 2025'
Macho culture 'putting off women' in construction
Business | Women could be the way forward
Male managers 'should copy women'
Women better drivers, says watchdog
Women 'better at holding drink'
"Women nose ahead in smell tests"
"Men 'drink far more than women'"
'Don't tell women how to give birth'
Bedside manner 'gives women edge' (in medical exams)
Women 'better investors than men'
Latvian women 'dealing with capitalism better ...
"Hormones make women safer drivers"

The BBC have carefully selected pieces of research that they think are 'interesting', which may mean they fit into a particular slant on gender politics. We need to escape this "Men are from Mars, women are from Venus" reflex that is so prevalent - it is NOT the way forward to fairness

Saturday, 9 April 2011

BBC left wing slant

I've mentioned my feelings on this subject once or twice before, but cannot believe the scarcity of comment on the web about it. So I've decided to entertain you once more on the theme.

Peter Sissons is not a person I ever had much time for before. Indeed, I often thought he was complicit in the political bias of Auntie Beeb. However I've belatedly come across something of his written in the Daily Mail of all places (not my usual reading matter, I must say) that made me a very happy bunny indeed.

All through Margaret Thatcher's premiership (I was a slip of a lad), my mother would listen to PM at 5pm, the radio 4 news program. Every day a chap who I strongly suspect was Brian Perkins would dole out the bad news in a way that made you lose your will to live another moment longer. I do believe my mother's happiness (and my own) suffered as a result. Unemployment figures, inflation, etcetc were reeled off at us in deadly tones. His tone of voice told us emphatically that "things are getting worse"

BBC newsreaders do a lot with tone of voice, the editors choose their subjects wisely, and give highly partial write-ups and readings to those in any debate. They use the word "Tory" freely. The bias is especially noticeable throughout the BBC website. One commenter on the Sissons story said the following:

The BBC on line form you can fill in to do with their committment to delivering their equality and diversity agenda is loaded with socially engineered wording that is simply sickly and leaves no doubt as to where the company leads towards. It explains much bias consistently churned out led my feminist secular humanist types.

Now I can relate to this having read through a BBC online form asking what I thought of their representation of Lesbians, Gays, and Bisexuals. The questions were all very carefully worded, and there was included a little lecture on why it was right to represent groups in a certain way - just in case you were still undecided.

So when BBC employees furiously defend the coorporation's commitment to impartiality I get particularly annoyed. If you have a strong political bias, have the courage to say it. If their job is to be impartial, I think that certain people are not doing their jobs. And being paid our money. The organisation needs a reshuffle. Sissons talks about the whole mindset of the BBC,  Rod Liddle spoke of the the Big Bother feeling (my words) in the seminars and workshops there.

But nobody seems to notice, nobody seems to care....The BBC has a big effect on the way many people see the world and I can't see that its reporting is conducted responsibly.

Sissons' essay is superb, extremely honest, and is saying something that should have been said ages ago, and acted on. I urge you to read it, not because I want you to vote for fools like Cameron, but because you should care about standards of journalism and the ideas we are being given to believe.