Some of the things I've read and enjoyed this week. Read them and enjoy them yourselves!
Chicken Yoghurt - Terror takes a tumble
I suppose if you throw enough shit at the wall some of it is bound to stick. Though if only 0.5% of it sticks you probably want to see a doctor about your diet. And that 101,248 was a 60% reduction on the year before as well. People whine about there not being enough police on the beat and the rozzers having too much paperwork. I wonder how much of that griping would go away by simply and cheaply abolishing section 44 of the terrorism act.
Speak You're Branes - Milk of human kindness, use by 12/10/10
People often wonder what’s a decent length of time before it’s acceptable to start being honest about the dead. With suicide, you can safely bypass all that. It’s the point at which a life may be reduced to an inconvenience, and the usual rules are suspended. Your ignorant squawks of disapproval will generally be tolerated, sometimes applauded, even before rigor mortis has set in. And if anyone doesn’t like it you can lean on the mantlepiece, wagging finger aloft, and go: “blah blah selfish waffle waffle cowardly blah blah 3-mile tailback.” Others will sit around in plush armchairs, nodding sagely and occasionally harrumphing. An ornate Georgian clock will tick in the background.
Five Chinese Crackers - tabloid bullshit of the month awards
On the last Saturday of each month, I will choose my favourite tabloid article from the preceeding month for the honour. Criteria will be entirely arbitrary and subject to my whims, but based loosely around whether the story is churned, how much truth has been distorted, whether minority groups are demonised, how close to the end the truth is buried, etc.
I'll email the winning journalist (for unnamed generic reporters, I'll email the editor) with a crudely drawn picture of an award and a rundown of what I thought was particularly impressive about their effort, plus links to any media-watching blog posts about the article. I'll reproduce the email on this blog. Hacks will be given the option of having an acceptance piece published here if they like.
Lenin's Tomb - Daily Mail goes after the disabled
The Mail relies on the suggestion that people are 'trying it on', and that if the new testing system was applied, perhaps as many as 75% of those who receive the benefit would be rejected as workshy chancers. The evidence of past research shows that the vast majority of those claiming disability-related benefits are in fact disabled. Most such claimants are concentrated in former industrial areas where manufacturing and mining industries regularly produced crippling or disabling accidents. The research finds that at most the government could expect to remove half a million from disability allowance by introducing stricter definitions and procedures. That's not a negligible sum, but a) it's less than 20% of claimants, not 75%, and b) there's no evidence that those who would be removed are deliberately evading work or have trivial complaints.
Political Scrapbook - Lib Dems quietly delete their 'no to nuclear power' website
...it’s great to see they’ve even got around to updating some of their websites. The “No to Nuclear Power” microsite was a flagship implementation of their (rather good) ourCampaignsystem. Starring, erm, energy secretary Chris Huhne, the page has mysteriously vanished from the internets in the last week. Luckily, Scrapbook had alreadt grabbed a copy for posterity.
The law, as seen from the cheap seats - Nadine Dorries is a liar and unfit to hold public office
If an MP complained to a Chief Constable about being harassed to the extent that Ms Dorries complains about Tim Ireland, one would hope that that senior officer might suggest one of the offences under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, offences which not only carry prison sentences but which can then be followed up with a restraining order.
But no, according to Ms Dorries the suggested remedy is to charge the individual with the most minor offence conceivable for which he cannot be imprisoned and which carries no disincentive to him to continue his campaign of terror.
Septicisle - the not so slow death of the BBC
Mark Thompson, attempting to recast the BBC's submission to becoming all but just another government department in the best possible light, deployed every favourable point in his armoury yet still failed to make a convincing case for having made the best possible deal. True, as he states, it both prevents an active cut in the licence fee itself, something much feared, and puts the BBC on a stable footing until after the next general election, outside of further political manoeuvring. That however is the best that can be said for it. Thompson claims that the BBC couldn't expect to be "untouched by the wider pressures facing the country", yet it already had been prior to the further cuts decided on the bounce at the end of the spending review, agreeing not to take up the rise in the fee which had been pencilled in under the previous government, while its "Putting Quality First" report was a retrenchment strategy before it knew it had to make any extra efficiencies. Thompson said in his MacTaggart lecture that "[A] pound out of the commissioning budget of the BBC is a pound out of UK creative economy", something which he appears to have turned full circle on in a little over two months.
If you've seen anything you like in recent days, feel free to put a link in the comments.