Sunday 25 May 2014

Random thoughts

I've just switched on the BBC News Channel and I'm glad to see that they're leading with the murderous attack on the Jewish Museum in Brussels. As a serious news organisation, that is right and proper - and all credit to them for it. So it the BBC One evening news.


I was reading Evan Davis in the Spectator. As befits a BBC wallah, he professed himself to  be equally torn between a left-wing economist, Thomas Piketty, and a right-wing economist, Deirdre McCloskey, on the issue of equality and capitalism. 

As regards M. Piketty, the darling of the left-wing chattering class (even according to Newsnight), one passage stood out from Evan's piece:
Only the brave would dare argue wiith his pages of tables and charts, his equations and dense prose.
Well, Evan Davis - former BBC Economics Editor - might not have been brave enough but Chris Giles of the Financial Times certainly was and, as a result, found an extraordinary number (and range) of errors in M. Piketty's tables, charts, equations and dense prose. 

A Nobel prize for Chris Giles please!

That FT article of his is an absolute tour-de-force [and you can read it for free if you haven't used up your eight Paywall lives at the paper], an extraordinary achievement for a British journalist, suggesting that the conclusions drawn by M. Piketty - and widely accepted by the British media - are, at the very least, unproven and, at worst, completely and utterly wrong.

Why did none of the economic geniuses at the BBC ferret out these errors? Why did they just accept them?

Newsnight devoted much of its 30/4 edition to discussing Thomas Piketty's 'findings', without demur, so it was good to see the its 23/5 edition reporting Chris Giles' severe fisking - albeit briefly and near the end of the programme - and just as good to see the much-anticipated Duncan Weldon, Newsnight's new ex-TUC economics correspondent, reporting it.

It all rather looks though as if Evan's dilemma - being torn between M. Pinketty and Deirdre McCloskley - has been solved. If I were you, Evan, I'd go with Deirdre.


I very much enjoyed favourite BBC philosopher Michael Sandel's 'Why vote?' edition of The Public Philosopher this week. 

It was like hearing Socrates in the forum putting on an American accent and raising all manner of outlandish yet strangely pertinent questions about the state of democracy in modern Britain. The result was weird yet revealing.

I was amused though to hear him conclude, from various questions, that his audience was far from being representative of the British public. 

For starters, nearly all of the audience at the L.S.E. (by the sounds of it consisting of L.S.E. students and professors) said they intended to vote in this week's elections. Very few said they wouldn't be voting - and, as we know, that's extremely unrepresentative.

Oh for the days when David and Jonathan Dimbleby, Nicky Campbell (et all) dare to say something similar about their programme's highly political audiences!


Interpolated addition to post: By a curious coincidence I'm now catching up with Paddy O'Connell's Broadcasting House broadcasting from a tent at the Hay Literary Festival. He's talking to Labour's Alan John 'bout stuff, and asked the former minister about what percentage of the audience he reckoned had voted this week. He reckoned, going off the national average, some 34%.

Instead of phoning a friend, Paddy asked the audience. He reckoned around 80% put their hands up to say they'd voted.

Another unrepresentative BBC audience then!


Just watching the BBC One news bulletin as I type. Jeremy Bowen is on, spinning for the Palestinians and what he sees as the Pope's endorsement of the Palestinian cause. He's looking like the cat that's got the cream, and then poured it on a pie full of shrews and sparrows. 

When it comes to Jeremy's, I prefer Paxman and Clarkson. And Brett, the best ever Sherlock Holmes. And Bentham, the stuffed philosopher. Irons, of course. Not so much Vine though.


I bet Paul Mason, now over at Channel 4 News, is wetting himself in anticipation of the Greek far-Left Syriza doing well in the Greek portion of the Euro elections. Duncan Weldon could only ever be an improvement on Citizen Paul. 

Duncan has a stranger way with vowels though. 

He's one of those people who has a strange way of saying certain words. I always used to listen out for the Miliband brothers and the way they both say the word 'years', pronouncing it as 'yars', which I thought made them sound very posh. 

That said I'm northern. My vowels are flatter than Ed Miliband's approval ratings.


As a blogger I really ought to say that 'The world's gone MAD!!!!' more often.

On a recent repeat the BBC censored the word 'girl' from a programme. No really, they did.

A BBC presenter called Mark Beaumont made a documentary about the Commonwealth Games and was filmed losing to a judo champion. The judo champion was a 19-year old girl, so - being a human being of the male persuasion - he joked, "I am not sure I can live that down – being beaten by a 19-year-old girl."

The BBC collectively fainted, and Mariella Frostrup ritually disemboweled herself (in the manner of Yukio Mishima) in protest. He word 'girl' was a goner, henceforth to be know as the g-word.

The world's gone MAD!!!! Well, at least the BBC part of the world.

Incidentally, here's an image of Mark getting his ass kicked by a g***!


Moving onto Broadcasting House, Paddy's talking to the eternally ultra-loyal Labourite Alan Johnson before an unrepresentative BBC audience. Alan's spinning it for Labour. The audience are backing him up, apparently...though maybe not, as a later show of hands shows that a majority (though by the sounds of it only a small majority) don't support Labour.

Alan Johnson has just been saying that Ed Miliband should be true to himself and not try to deny his upbringing (those posh 'yars').

In doing so he did a Tony Blair himself and started dropping t's from the middle of words and popping in a 'working class' "don't" where he would usually say "doesn't":
And I think it would be terrible if Ed star[t]ed to sound like a Yorkshire something like me perhaps with me accent. He don't come from my background. He comes from a different background. That's nothing to be ashamed of.
I've heard innumerable Alan Johnson interviews over the years. He doesn't speak like that normally. Those were put-ons, and that 'don't' really made me laugh (or lol, as the BBC's Jasmine Lawrence might put it).

When politicians attempt to point up their 'authenticity' it never goes well.

I used to use Paddy of pro-Labour bias [as he used to display it on a regular basis], but he certainly didn't show it hear. He put the anti-Ed case with some tenacity and made Alan Johnson work for his pro-Labour spin.


The latest update on the 'My blog list' section on the right-hand side of this blog is from BBC News. It reads 'Kerr quits as manager of Arsenal'.

At the risk of sounding like a girl, I didn't know that Arsene Wenger had already gone. 


  1. If you think ‘yars’ is posh, whatabout the aristocratic ‘Yahs’? I quite like both those. Marginally better than the Liverpudlian (?) ‘yers’.
    How do you say it? (I think mine rhymes with ‘ears’)
    (How quare.)

    1. "Ears" is, of course, correct.

      See Afferbeck Lauder's "Fraffly Suite" (Wolfe Publishing, London, 1969) for further examples of correct usage.

  2. "And Brett, the best ever Sherlock Holmes".

    I'm sorry, but I can't allow this to go unchallenged. The best ever Sherlock Holmes just happens to be Clive Merrison, who starred as the immortal sleuth (together with the much-missed, irreplaceable Michael Williams, who defined the role of Dr Watson for a generation) in R4's 1990s dramatization of the complete canon.

    Thank you.


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