The Loneliest Jukebox

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Tuesday, November 29, 2005


Kudos to Barry Scott this week, for landing the honorary degree he so richly deserves. Well done, you fictional shouty man.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Fresh Links

Ages ago I wrote a review of Deepak Narang Sawhney's anthology Unmasking L.A.: Third Worlds And The City for American Studies Today (Issue 13, September 2004, pp.47-48). It was subsequently reprinted, and now a online version exists too, which you can read here. (If the review doesn't put you off, you can buy the book here).

And watch out for me (or not, depending on the edit) in Plato's Breaking Point on overseas TV. Blink and you'll miss me.

Modern manners, part 561

If you really must degrade and humiliate other people, why record it on a cameraphone? The footage will come back to haunt you, in headlines like '"Abuse video" outrages Malaysia'. While this unwelcome form of 'citizen journalism' is widespread, at least some people still get indignant about ritual humiliation. Imagine if it became so routine that viewers were simply indifferent to it. Prime-time TV could show Carol Thatcher taking a midnight pee and ... oh wait, that's already happened.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Anyone fancy a pint?

"How downtrodden we are in comparison with most other peoples is shown by the fact that even people who are far from being ‘temperance’ don't seriously imagine that our licensing laws could be altered. Whenever I suggest that pubs might be allowed to open in the afternoon, or to stay open till midnight, I always get the same answer: ‘The first people to object would be the publicans. They don't want to have to stay open twelve hours a day.’ People assume, you see, that opening hours, whether long or short, must be regulated by the law, even for one-man businesses. In France, and in various other countries, a cafe proprietor opens or shuts just as it suits him. He can keep open the whole twenty-four hours if he wants to; and, on the other hand, if he feels like shutting his cafe and going away for a week, he can do that too. In England we have had no such liberty for about a hundred years, and people are hardly able to imagine it." So said George Orwell, writing in Tribune in August 1944. Who knows what he would make of the shift to 24-hour pub opening hours, which means that, for all you know, I could be six hours into a bender while writing this. What we'll probably not see is some of the apocalyptic predictions made in the national press - rivers of vomit etc - brought to life.

Talking of apocalyptic predictions, trust my local paper to get it right when the nationals failed to hold the line. Despite a reprehensible ban by the police and local authority, the local 'Saviour Sect' branch meeting - which appears to be a one-man band (hello, Abdul Muhid, 22) - made its objectives clear: 'no negotiations - Britain must become an Islamic state'. Commentators who explain the London bombings in terms of British foreign policy might take the trouble to read the leaflets put out by those backing the 7/7 'martyrs'. Nothing short of restoring and extending the Caliphate will satisfy them. As Diana Johnstone reminds us, a simplistic moral worldview is no basis for making sense of anything.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Even he's Ade nuff now...

Burnley's Ade Akinibiyi has revealed he regrets signing for Leicester City when he did, according to the BBC website. He's not alone...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

It Brockes my heart (not)

Not long ago I reported on the Guardian and its recent hatchet-job on Noam Chomsky. A partial apology has now appeared, while the original interview has disappeared from the Guardian website. Cock-up or conspiracy, the offending article shows the dangers of a newspaper having an almost religious fervour behind its self-righteousness. Let's have the facts instead.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Happy slapping has its first celebrity commentator

It's me, apparently. See the thoughtful discussion of the trend which appears here in PDF (and here in HTML version. Next stop, Celebrity Love Island... And all thanks to an anthology chapter on reality TV which is making waves in Finland even as I write.

Farringdon farago

Noam Chomsky offers some useful advice on how to manage an interview by the Guardian newspaper here. The original piece by Emma Brockes, which has since been attacked as a hatchet job, appears here. Unlike the print edition, the online version now starts with the following warning: "A note to readers: On November 2 the Guardian published a letter from Noam Chomsky in which he was strongly critical of the interview below. Subsequently Professor Chomsky complained to the readers' editor about the interview on a number of specific points. The readers' editor has been investigating the complaint and has been in direct correspondence with Professor Chomsky. The readers' editor will publish his findings when the matter is resolved." Readers' editor Ian Mayes is looking into it, but will he conclude by initiating an overhaul of the Guardian's official values, which include a dogmatic interpretation of past events in Bosnia (complete with heretics, such as Chomsky, to persecute)? Unlikely. Maybe Brockes should stick to asking "Is Hermione too pretty? The burning question as fans greet Potter stars"

The controversy is also examined here, by another so-called 'revisionist', Diana Johnstone.

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

New review

My review of Cara A. Finnegan, Picturing Poverty: Print Culture and FSA Photographs appears in Canadian Journal of History (Vol. XL, August 2005), pp.376-377 (buy the book here).

Granted, it might just be a rumour...

Being on the far fringes of the media industries, I miss out on events where the movers and shakers get together. So I'm at an Ealing comedy club for 5 November, as the token parent and straight man to all the embittered divorced dad gags. Meanwhile, at a Crouch End bonfire party, various explanations for a recent media sensation are circulating. They involve a third and final warning for infidelity, Guy Black of the Press Complaints Commission, and copious amounts of Columbian marching powder. Tempers got frayed and one of those involved waded in and started throwing punches.
You couldn't make it up...

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Getting Philled in

It's a long-standing joke among my students that I look like one or both of the Mitchell Brothers in the soap opera Eastenders. (Yes, Student X, I am aware of the small talk; reader, you be the judge.) Anyway, I was a bit concerned to see that both Mitchells, or the actors who play them, had been allegedly assaulted by different women within 24 hours of each other. Let's hope it is something personal - Sun editor Rebekah Wade gave actor Ross Kemp a fat lip - and not something motivated by their looks. Or someone could be punching my potato face anytime soon...

No, Smart Alec, I'm not wearing a helmet just in case - that's my head.

News from the Lane

I know a lot of Tottenham Hotspur fans, but they are not my favourite team in the world (thinks: 1999 League Cup final; I preferred the one the year after). But no-one can accuse them of not mounting an international challenge. As tonight's Evening Standard reminds us, 'Martin Jol's side toured the country last summer and won a friendly tournament organised by the Korea-based Moonies religious cult.'* Way to go, Spurs. But how funny would it have been to read that they had lost the tournament?

* Raoul Simons, 'Spurs eye up Korea move for shirt deal', 3 November 2005.
(Admittedly, writing this means I can never pour scorn on the Pepsi Max Challenge Cup again...)

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Still blaming the television

As the happy slapping 'epidemic' continues, it's good to see I'm still having my casual remarks paraded around the world to add to the confusion. This time it's in India. Ho hum. A more detailed discussion, much closer to my real opinions on the matter, appears in the October issue of Intermedia: a link for this appears elsewhere in this blog.