All entries for June 2006
June 30, 2006
BBC News 24 and Sky News are both pretty popular. They don't get massive ratings, but that's because people tend to watch them for very brief periods at a time.
But why isn't there an equivalent offering on radio? The situation is even worse during the World Cup, when the closest available option (BBC 5Live) broadcasts almost constantly about Lampard's strike rate (or more recently) who's going to beat Federer.
Someone I spoke to bemoaned the fact that there's barely any news–at–length beyond 7pm at night, when most newsrooms have long gone home. Yes, there's hourly bulletins on many stations, but 5Live invariably goes to a football game (even outside the World Cup).
So with 24hr news so popular now, why can't we get something similar on radio? Why is sport so much more prevalent.
Jon Snow's giving a perfect demonstration of how to defeat your interviewee without resorting to Humphreys–style incredulation. The interview went something like this:
Jon Snow: How does blowing up a Palestinian power station help you get back the Israeli soldier?
Israeli spokesman: (Answers a different question)
Jon Snow: It's a simple question - what's to be gained from blowing up the power station?
Israeli spokesman: Well it's easier for us to capture him if there's darkness.
Jon Snow: Surely it's easier to smuggle someone around if there's darkness?
Israeli spokesman: Er… umm… (Answers a different question again)
Besides which destroying a power station (Gaza's only power source) which will take six months to rebuild (not that the Palestininans can afford it) is perhaps going to cause considerable damage to the Palestinian people (no power = no clean water) when one soldier's life (paid to potentially sacrifice his life) is at stake.
Also today, there's been a bit of a debate over whether the BBC should say the solider was 'captured' or 'kidnapped'. Personally if it's a soldier, then it's sort of an 'act of war', so capture sounds appropriate. I prefer kidnapping to be used solely in relation to civilians, as using it in relation to soldiers would slightly diminish the power of the word. But then it's a bit of a non–debate – I don't care which is used and am sure the same term would be used if it was a British, American or an Israeli soldier.
June 28, 2006
Blowing up power stations…
Doesn't Israel's move into Gaza seem more like an act of war than an attempt to arrest what we should probably call terrorists?
It isn't anti–semitic or anti–security to say that Israel's moves overnight were grossly disproportionate to the threat that they believe exists. What they're doing is akin to us going and blowing things up in Northern Ireland because we're trying to smoke out the IRA. Quite simply it's the sort of tactic you might expect in the early 1900s, but today seems completely ridiculous.
Yes, Hamas is virtually impossible to work with, and yes they claim that Israel shouldn't exist. But when has violence ever prevented more violence?
Many of the actions which Israel take seems to be a deliberate attempt to encourage retaliation, forcing continual escalation which will eventually give them a justification for invading.
While the Palestinians aren't about to sign a peace agreement, that doesn't mean that Israel should fight fire with fire.
Apparently the Royal Family costs 62p per person every year.
If I don't use them, does that mean I get a refund? I reckon I'm owed about two packs of Hula Hoops…
June 27, 2006
Writing about web page http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/story/0,,1806669,00.html
No more coded critiques – let's have an open debate on where we go next.
Tony Blair wants an open debate about the future of the Labour party. But he doesn't really want any such thing, for he knows the debate will centre on him and his own personal record.
If Blair wanted a full and open debate, then he wouldn't be responding to Charles Clarke's criticisms of him with a vague restatement of his values. That wasn't a 'coded critique', it was a clear challenge to Blair's authority. Blair should be saying "bring it on". Enthusiasm for campaigning amongst Labour activists is at just about zero. Come the next election, who will be heading for the doorsteps when they know exactly what sort of reaction they are going to get?
The only hope for a Labour majority in 2008/9 is if Tony Blair can erase the collective memory of the British public, so the word 'Iraq' is forgotten when it comes to selecting which box to tick. That means getting rid of the man most closely associated with the disaster. And that's him.
Blair might be pretending to foster an 'open debate', but in reality he must know by now that such a thing would bring about his speedy resignation.
A few points:
Aren't the people campaigning for so-called lads mags to be moved to the top shelf the same people who would be the first to protest that supermarket shelves were too high for short people to reach? Slightly oxymoronic.
Shouldn't some sympathy be given to short men whose only exposure to naked women is in such magazines or on the internet?
Aren't we used to seeing the nudity common on the front of Nuts and Loaded in television programmes across the schedule (Charlie Dimmock, anyone?)
I think this top–shelf argument is only being knocked about because campaigners dislike the fact that publishers make money from the magazines. You don't hear them complain so loudly about less blatantly capitalist forms of mild nudity.
Are fantasy football games ruining the World Cup?
You're desperate for Ronaldinho and Kaka to score a hat–trick so you get silly points in your fantasy football team. But at the same time you really want to see Ghana bring about the biggest upset in the history of the World Cup.
You end up not being able to enjoy watching the World Cup. And when you don't do very well (I'm currently 6th in the RaW league), it makes it even more pointless.
But to abandon the fantasy football would leave you lumbering at the bottom of the league, gaining the sort of derision that only Westbrook really deserves.
It's an unwinnable puzzle, unless I just pick the entire England team for the Portugal team, where I can cheer even more vigourously… as they go out 3–1 in extra time. Damn…
June 24, 2006
Is Jurgen Klinsmann trying to do a Tony?
I only ask because Germany seem to be building up their World Cup performances after a disappointing prelude, and look – after today's performance – to be amongst the favourites.
And what do I put it down to?
Why? Well, during the 2005 election, Blair won the election partly due to what was termed his 'capitulation' strategy. Essentially, he'd personally take all the blame for the Iraq war while his party could win by pointing at Blair and saying "it's his fault".
I think Klinsmann has done the same. He's been derided in the German press for living in the United States and spending very little time with his players, but I'm beginning to wonder if this too was a 'capitulation' strategy – designed to lower expectations and lay all blame at the feet of the manager. Meanwhile his players have been given a sympathetic hearing because "it's all Klinsmann's fault", and have been able to concentrate on winning.
Well now of course the team are playing so well (although I think they lack pace up front) that the German fans were chanting Klinsmann's name during their 2–0 victory over Sweden. Can you imagine Eriksson (or any England manager, actually) getting the same reception? Remember Klinsmann was hated two weeks ago!
I think it's all very clever. The talent in the team is clearly there (Ballack and Klose have had terrific seasons), and I think it's possible that Klinsmann's apparent mismanagement of the side may have been a genius piece of PR from the man that brought you four more years of Labour government.
June 22, 2006
True, they're a little bland, with a bit too much public school scruffiness to be all that cool, and deep inside them is a burning desire to have been born as Coldplay. But despite all of this, they manage to penetrate the consciousness of every music–lover in the country and inspire feelings of either hate or reluctant acceptance.
The first thing that you'll notice is that they've suddenly got themselves a guitarist ("but hey, I thought they hated guitars…). Well, as I said, they really want to be Coldplay and had to make some compromises to sound more like them. So they've got a fancy new synth that sounds like a guitar. Personally I think this is ridiculous. I used to think that an electric drum kit did the job as well as an acoustic one. But that's because I was an ass. If you want the sound of a guitar, I say just go and get a bloody guitarist. Only guitar geeks will be able to tell the difference, but that's not exactly the point. Why do something complicated when there's a perfectly simple and traditional alternative. It's a bit like whisking an egg in an electric whisker when a fork does the job just as well without so much washing up.
First single Is It Any Wonder shouts very loudly "WE LIKE GUITARS NOW", and also suggests they've been listening to U2 albums of yore, as the riffs are catchy, if a bit predictable and somewhat familiar. The chorus does all you'd expect a chorus to do, with the exception of providing some form of climax. Instead it ends up sounding like a middle–eight that leads into the next verse. I'm not totally averse to this because the song's best lyrics are in the verse, but this is Keane, and not exactly poetry, so a weak chorus is a bit unforgivable.
Potential next single (and definately the track the BBC should play during the closing titles when England go out of the World Cup to a Messi hat–trick) is A Bad Dream. Hope you're listening BBC Sport. Melodically this is a very simple track, and forms a pretty blank canvas for whatever you put on top. This means it's almost as suitable for a Streets-style rant as it is for Keane's wisping lyrics. It's also possibly the easiest song to work out the chords for... Ever! The song's a reverse of Is It Any Wonder in that the chorus is considerably better than the verse, and there's a clear middle–eight which works pretty well.
Atlantic is a fairly weak start to the album, and perhaps the dullest track on offer too, while Nothing In My Way is an improvement but has Enya–style vocal harmonies. Therefore a bit odd, although it's a catchy tune which has just a tad of the Coldplay in it.
Leaving So Soon has the unfortunate burden of beginning like part of the soundtrack to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the new one), which is hard to get over as the track takes a different and largely unobjectionable turn. Lyrics are depressingly simple, such as:
Now you're here
I bet you're wishing you could disappear
which are almost as bad as some of my GCSE Music compositions. And they were tragic. Having said that, it does possess some of the Keane charm of their first album, and has that annoying knack of implanting itself in your brain.
Put It Behind You departs from the band's safe path to certain radio airplay by weighing in at a hefty 6m33. Sadly there's no good reason for this, except a piss–poor attempt at Muse–like instrumentals at the end. Oh, and a Blackpool–organ sound at the start.
Crystal Ball is quite catchy, but then so is Baa Baa Black Sheep, and the two songs discouragingly have quite a lot in common.
Broken Toy is another six–minutes–plus bloater, with lyrics as endearing as "I guess I'm a toy that is broken" and quite prosaically "I guess I'm a record you're tired of". Cleverer than they look.
Under The Iron Sea will almost certainly do well (it's already at No. 1), but this is in spite of many of the tracks on the album. There's the odd catchy tune (read: 'annoying' once it's released), such as Leaving So Soon and A Bad Dream, but half of the album misfires badly. It's background music, it's suitable for a shop that's looking to close early by driving all of its customers out, and it's got a certain something about it which will inevitably appeal to people who decide on radio playlists over the next twelve months.
By which time the real thing will be back with their fourth album and another implausibly–named baby for Chris Martin. It's too long to wait.
June 20, 2006
Writing about web page http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060620/us_nm/arms_usa_missile_dc_2
The United States has moved its ground–based interceptor missile defense system from test mode to operational amid concerns over an expected North Korean missile launch, a U.S. defense official said on Tuesday.
June 17, 2006
Bruce Arena. What a man.
- He looks like an ice hockey coach
- What a name. Arena…
- He's clearly never played a day's football in his life.
Bruce Arena: I salute you
June 15, 2006
- Idlewild – you can tell they've been honing their skills for years now, very good
- Sugababes – yeah, seriously! They sang live and everything (and I was on the front row)
- Lots of hilarious photos
- Catching up with people who've already started great jobs (mucho jealouso)
- Losing my mobile, and then realising it was in my pocket five seconds later (there's a photo showing my relief apparently)
- Dodgems – only went on once, long queues, closed at 1am
- Dinner a bit rushed, but good
- Losing people every five minutes
- Not getting drunk (not entirely a con)
- Why don't buses run from Leam to Coombe Abbey?
- Paper ticket nonsense
June 14, 2006
So you do have to go and pick up your Final Fling tickets from Advance before tonight?
Cos that's not what it says on the Union Portal when you click on the Final Fling link.
Sounds like there's been a big cock–up in Union North, not to mention the stupid idea that we get given a specific bus we have to get on (regardless of which bus our mates are getting on or when we were planning to arrive on campus).
And anyone know whether the buses come back to Leamington afterwards???
Why do I suspect more effort went into the Sugababes rider than into putting on a stress–free night for students?
June 12, 2006
When it's hot and everybody smiles
I can't help myself
I'm in love with the summertime
Even when I get hay–fever I find
I may sneeze but I don't really mind
As long as I'm in love with the summertime