The ancient animal, which was thought to be humans' earliest-known ancestor, may have lost the anus during evolution.
New Open Thread (and if you don't like it, well, we have others.)
If you’ve been paying attention you’ll know I hardly ever watch the BBC these days. I keep mentioning that to account for my prolonged silences interspersed with off-topic observations..
However I have to comment on the reappearance of Abdel Bari Atwan, whose services I thought had been quietly dispensed with by the BBC. I was wrong. He was on Dateline again on 19th August, following the attack on Salman Rushdie.
The BBC, of course, has no intention of reprimanding or silencing Atwan as they think he represents legitimate views, and letting him air them is an expression of the BBC’s even-handedness.
The problem is, however, that along with the rest of the left the BBC genuinely thinks it is indeed upholding balance, fairness and objectivity. It believes that it represents the political centre ground. That’s why it views its critics axiomatically as extremists who can safely be disregarded.
To be fair to Bari, as we like to call him on ITBB, he did imply that carrying out the actual fatwa in it’s original form (death to Rushdie the blasphemer) was a tad beyond its sell-by date, but he defended the principle that such blasphemy as Rushdie’s was “very, very cruel when he talked about the Prophet Mohammed and his wives” which was also “very, very dangerous”. He added: “About 90 per cent of the people of the Muslim world believe that freedom of expression [is] practised only to insult Muslims”.
I’m not sure if Dateline itself isn’t about to be axed. I read it somewhere. Maybe they’ve realised that it’s a tiny bit politically biased.
Melanie Phillips doesn’t stop there. In her criticisms of the BBC, as well as Atwan’s other offensive remarks, she mentions the infamous Balen report about the BBC’s bias against Israel. It has never seen the light of day, and its ongoing secrecy has been defended to the tune of around £300,000 (of licence fee-payers dosh) in legal fees. She refers to her own appearances as the token right-winger who is
“almost never given the opportunity to address the lies told about Israel.”
Emily Maitlis’s truth.
Emily Maitlis wants a Remainer BBC by Tom Slater
"What’s striking about Maitlis’s critique, which has been curdling among elite Remainer media for a while, is that it essentially posits attempts at impartiality as bias.
Maitlis certainly struck a chord. “The BBC is biased!” screeched everybody under the sun. Fact!
However, trawling through the wide spectrum of tittle-tattle online, it seems that half the commenters agreed with Emily that the BBC is biased to the right, and the other half agreed with - well- us - that the BBC is biased to the left. (‘Half-and-half’ may not be strictly mathematical)
I’ll just throw in the following quote for the hell of it because it tickled me.
"Channel 4 boss Ian Katz has said he thought Maitlis’ speech was ‘brilliant’, and that it served as a powerful reminder that ‘due impartiality is the bedrock of journalism.’
Nevertheless, the anti-BBC vibe is growing, whichever way you look at it. Despite, not because of, the woefully ineffectual pushback from the likes of the BBC's chief content officer, Charlotte Moore, one might even sympathise with the BBC. (You know, as the underdog.)
BBC insiders back Emily Maitlis over claims of Tory meddling
"BBC insiders have said Emily Maitlis was right to call out Sir Robbie Gibb as an “active agent” of the Tory party who interfered with editorial matters.
Enough already. Sir Robbie Gibb’s position on the BBC Board appears (to Emily Maitlis and others) to constitute conclusive proof that the BBC is biased to the right.
Eddie Izzard’s truth (Strange but true)
Izzard intends to “Stand for Labour in Sheffield central”
This BBC article is notable for slavishly adhering to gender make-believe from the “if I sez I’m a lady, then I’m a lady” school of abandon-all-reason.
All the way through this piece Eddie, wearing a skirt, is “assigned” “she” by the BBC.
"Comedian Eddie Izzard says she hopes to stand as a Labour candidate in Sheffield at the next general election.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many female pronouns gratuitously (and dare I say almost maliciously?) shoehorned into a teeny bit of reporting. Is someone (other than me) ’avin’ a laugh? I’m seriously wondering if the BBC has gawn mad. Here’s Guido. Amongst the comments, 259 at the time of writing, (which was roughly the day before yesterday) I spotted a delicate question that most other contributors failed to ask. Where on God’s earth did those b00bs come from?
Jeremy Bowen’s (personal) truth
Jeremy Bowen has written another book you’ll be glad to hear. It’s called The Making of the Modern Middle East: A Personal Story
The reviewer Justin Marozzi is a fan - I saw that on the twitter.
Well, I won’t be reading any more of Jezzer’s personal stories and I wish I could unread the ones I’ve already read.
The other day I mentioned the BBC’s 4-part drama Marriage starring Sean Bean and Nicola Walker plus James Bolam and some other actors.
Once again, public opinion fell into two (weirdly passionate) camps, which we’ll call - ‘For’ and ‘Agin’.
Newspaper reviewers raved about it. Carol Midgley in the Times thought it was the bees’ knees while James Innes-Smith in the Spectator was less keen.
Torrents of negativity poured in after just one episode. The prolonged silences interspersed with inane dialogue in episode one instantly brought about an irresistible compulsion to switch-off-the-TV.
This ‘more naturalistic than actual naturalism’ genre is not new. It was captured more effectively several decades ago. In 1971 Mike Leigh produced “Bleak Moments.” Leigh’s early output was characterised by similarly ‘realistic’ conversations that elevated the mundane to poignant-verging-on-poetic. The semi-improvised dialogue revelled in outrageously inane banter that was doleful, yet humorous, compelling, and entertaining yet somehow believable.
In my humble opinion, “Marriage” was charmless; the casting was wrong - the production failed to give the illusion that Sean Bean, as an unreconstructed northerner, and Nicola Walker were a couple.
The adopted daughter-of-colour bore no hint of resemblance to either of her adopted parents, either in accent, turn of phrase or familial idiosyncrasy. The sub-plot-by-numbers was equally unlikely and unconvincing.
Note: If I ever hear protracted whingeing about a baked potatah at an airport I’ll eat all the above words.
It's a sign of something deeply rotten in the state of our country that once rare events, which not so long ago would have dominated the news for weeks, now just come and go. A nine-year-old girl was stabbed in Boston, Lincolnshire last month and overnight we learn that another nine-year-old girl has been shot dead in Liverpool. Quite rightly, both the Sky News, ITV News and GB News websites have been leading with this horrific killing. The BBC wasn't, but is now. The media needs to get back to making such crimes not normal by not moving on so quickly.
BBC News (6.00pm), BBC One, 12 April 202218 August 2022ComplaintIn a report on the Prime Minister receiving a fine for breaching lockdown restrictions the BBC’s Home Editor said:Now each one of those Fixed Penalty Notices requires the police to believe that a criminal offence has been committed. Now it doesn’t go on anybody’s criminal record but it will go on the Police National Computer.A viewer complained that this was incorrect, as breaches of lockdown restrictions incurring a fixed penalty notice were non-recordable crimes. The ECU considered the complaint in the light of the BBC’s editorial standards of accuracy.OutcomeThe Home Editor acknowledged that he was mistaken in saying the offence would be recorded on the Police National Computer. As the error could have misled viewers as to the seriousness of the offence, the ECU accepted that it was a breach of the relevant editorial standards.UpheldFurther actionThe finding was reported to the Board of BBC News and discussed with the programme-makers concerned.
The BBC has approached Google, which owns YouTube and TikTok, for comment.
I checked that because I was pretty sure TikTok is Chinese-owned - hence how controversial it is - and, yes, TikTok is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, not by Google.
The BBC has approached Google, which owns YouTube, for comment.
The other one concerns the partying Finnish PM Sanna Marin, who the BBC News Channel spent hours on Thursday/Friday calling "the youngest prime minister in the world at just 36 years old". Radio 4's main Six O'Clock News on 18 August twice called her "the world's youngest prime minister," So this was stated as a fact across the BBC's channels for many hours.
As lots of others were calling her that too I've still no idea why I fact-checked the BBC over that but I just felt the need to check and on doing so was surprised to read that she isn't. That's Dritan Abazović, prime minister of Montenegro. He's 39 days younger that she is. Sanna Marin was the youngest PM in the world back in 2019 but hasn't been since Mr Abazović became PM in April this year. Clearly no one at Radio 4 or the BBC News Channel bothered checking. It's really not hard to do so.
To paraphrase Liz Truss, this was the BBC and, you know, they actually don't get their facts right.
“Democracy is the worst form of government - apart from all those other forms that have been tried from time to time,” said Churchill.
How many Muslims must a democratic country absorb before democracy stops being the ‘least worst’ system? When voters who oppose democracy outnumber those who support it? Surely, then it will be democratically voted out. Can we just vote democracy out? If not, why not?
If - (when - not if! ) the majority of voting citizens are ideologically predisposed towards alternative systems, say, Socialism, Fascism, Fundamental Islamism, then surely the very qualities of democracy can only bring about its own demise. Bound to.
Demographics. Mass immigration. Then your precious democracy starts to look shaky. “Events dear boy, events,” said Harold Macmillan. Tipping point *Point Of No Return*.
That rant was brought to you by someone who doesn’t always stick to this blog’s specific remit. Me!
Similarly, the next item is also strictly off-topic. If you haven’t already, feel free to scroll past.
This is a conversation between Jordan Peterson and David Friedman, the US Ambassador to Israel during the Donald Trump era. I’m putting it here because Friedman sets the scene with remarkable clarity and without digressing or going into too much detail. No rabbit holes
I am not an avid follower of Prof Peterson - 'let’s say' it’s a curate’s egg type of thing. I’ll try not to digress or go into detail either, but his painstaking avoidance of imprecision can be distracting. Always inserting “let’s say” as if to hedge his bets and cover himself against possible misinterpretation or misrepresentation must be a sort of insurance policy.
Would he take sides on this issue? Yes. It was good. Most of the commenters were pleasantly surprised, but naturally, some of them complained that “the other side” needed to be aired. Hmm!
Thanks very much indeed for all of us for watching.
And let's take a look at some of the front pages, beginning with the Daily Mail. 'What kind of monster kills an 87 year old woman in a scooter?'...that was the person on the mobility scooter...is the story on their front page.
That all followed an interview about the RAF diversity row where a man and a woman were interviewed. Both were strongly on-message but the man briefly said something that strayed from the true path and Kirsty came down on him like a ton of bricks. He then returned to saying 'the right thing' again, now overcompensating for the 'rightness' by being even more on-message than earlier. [If Col Richard Kemp had been on instead I'm sure he'd have held his ground].
Those kind of one-sided challenges are par for the course, of course. What's so annoying watching Kirsty Wark interview though is how often she interrupts just so she can get her next question in. She has her 'little list' of pre-prepared questions and nothing's going to stop her ploughing through them, never mind if the flow of the discussion keeps being diverted or comes to a juddering half, as it did once last night.
One odd thing about the programme's treatment of the story might stand out to anyone who's been hearing about it elsewhere, that the senior RAF recruitment officer who resigned in protest at an "effective pause" on offering jobs to white male recruits in favour of women and ethnic minorities [as Sky reported it] is a woman - which, in this case, is surely relevant. Newsnight was oddly coy about stating it though:
Exhibitionism is a recognised mental disorder, but whipping your penis out during your performance at the Edinburgh festival doesn’t properly fall into that category as defined here. I mean on this occasion at least, the intention wasn’t a prelude to sexual activity as far as we know. Although this definition isn’t quite so clear-cut.
Exhibitionistic Disorder is a mental disorder that causes a person to expose his sexual organs—or genitals–to other people, usually people they’ve never met and are not expecting it, according to the American Psychiatric Association. The exhibitionist gets sexual enjoyment from the behavior.
We’re talking Jerry Sadowitz, obviously. In the context of showbiz, I imagine he does it for comedic edginess rather than sexual enjoyment. But he is quite weird, so one can’t be sure. Anyway, whose business is it to measure the extent of a performer’s sexual enjoyment? Is there a quota?
It seems he is an absolute master of sleight-of-hand magic trickery, which should be a massively redeeming feature for all the undecideds and the not-so-sures.
I digress. What struck me most of all (Let’s not look for unintended innuendos in this post) was the prudishness in some of the comments below the line here. (£) It’s exposed a whole lot of puritans! Well, maybe ‘exposed’ isn’t the best choice - let’s try ‘revealed’. Who knew that The Times readership was so easily discombobulated and so quick to pluck things out of context like a new-generation bunch of Mary Whitehouses.
On the other hand, I’ve heard that (retrospectively) Mrs. W and her zero-tolerance stance on sexual liberation has been reevaluated. It’s now deemed “She was right all along” which is probably the inevitable and justifiable pushback to the rise in gross pornographic titillation. You fickle, pendulum-swinging representatives of public opinion, you! The hooha is predicted to boost Sadowitz’s profile, so it’s all good.
Self-disclosure; in reality, I am a bit of a prude but in principle, not at all. So what business do I have talking about something I haven’t seen and am unlikely ever to do so? Self-indulgence is about the sum of it.
(I’ve spotted several more unintended lewd innuendos now.)
This article has been up for a few days, yet his resident contrarians and antisemites are nowhere to be seen. No doubt they’re still girding their loins.
I thought about reviewing the latest BBC drama about marriage. It’s called “Marriage”.
I’m not a reviewer, and I do realise we’re only halfway through the drama but I’m assuming there are some surprises in store. Let’s hope the concluding episodes wrong-foot premature naysayers like me and make us look stupid.
Does the interaction between the couple reflect real-life banality? No. Even the couple itself is unconvincing. They look like two actors. They sound like two actors. They are two actors.
Compare the prolonged banter about baked potatahs with the comical banality of the early semi-improvised TV dramas by Mike Leigh, where an implicit profundity somehow shone through, even if it was all in the viewers’ imagination. Of course, the actors did have the advantage of being (at the time) unknown and odd-looking.
Of a similar oeuvre, “Creature Comforts”, ads with plasticine animals animated to a soundtrack of randomly banal chatter resonated with viewers and evoked a million times more profundity and pathos, and were almost moving. (Maybe they should have resurrected them for this production) The Owl and the Pussycat were married.
I suspect the tediousness in the first two episodes of “Marriage” was deliberate, but rather than emblematic, profound, or moving - the tediousness came across as plain, face-value tedious. I think we can work out for ourselves that the black daughter was supposed to have been adopted rather than the casting department’s nod to diversity, which would have been quite a stretch. Was the boyfriend deemed so awful because he didn’t drink wine? Under the circumstances, he seemed suitably polite.
Maybe James Bolam will save the day. All will be revealed next week.
I wanted to say something about GB News, but the jury still needs more time to consider.
Meanwhile, I’ll just describe the weirdest interview ever. Dawn Neesom was standing in for the excellent Nana Akua and the topic was the stabbing of Salman Rushdie.
Alongside Dawn’s overbearing presence even Scottish comedian Leo Kearse seemed subdued.
For some inexplicable reason, the opinion of Imam Ajmal Masroor was sought. One may remember this excitable contributor to The Big Questions from back in the day. Ever passionate on matters appertaining to the ROP and nigh impossible to shut-up mid-flow, the interview was conducted over the phone because Masroor happened to be aboard a fishing boat. (!) Why anyone at GB News would seek such a highly-strung personage’s opinion on the Rushdie incident at all is a mystery but with the extra obstacle of engine noise his insights on the matter were effectively drowned out. Neesom’s fawning intro and post-interview outro revealed a profound chasm between our (hers and my) interpretation of what we’d just heard (or why.)
I could say GB News feels slightly claustrophobic/repetitive with the limited number of hosts whose over-exposure might have propelled them to premature personality-hood. I have no specific criticisms though, apart from a general ‘less is more.’ There’s a definite need for what they’re doing, so let’s stick with it.
I should mention the attempted assassination of Rushdie itself. I hardly watch the BBC now but I made a special effort to do so. The BBC’s coverage seemed no better or worse than what I’ve seen of Sky, Al Jazeera, ITV, etc.
We had a fair bit of “we don’t know what the motive was” from other sources as well so I won’t single out the BBC for shoehorning a gratuitously over-cautious and ridiculous statement into its reports. I know I’m not the only one who finds this preposterous.
I confess I don’t warm to Sir Salman personally. I understand over the years he has had more wives and glam lady companions than absolutely necessary, which doesn’t attest to the soundness of character that is being wishfully projected onto him since he’s achieved near-martyrdom, and he does remind me of Mr. Bean. Also, I’ve never had the stamina to plough through difficult prose but I must admit some of the outrage about the writer’s attempted assassination appears somewhat opportunistic in its Dash to Bash Radical Islam, but that’s a bandwagon I’ll willingly jump aboard.
Outside the hospital where Rushdie is being treated, the America-based BBC presenter Nomia Iqbal, a British Muslim, appeared suitably opposed on principle to violent responses to blasphemy However, I found myself wondering which side of the blasphemy fence she sits on when the violence is directed towards Israelis, in which case, as any fule kno, it’s the radicals that get the free pass.
In the interest of trying not to be a miserable, negative, and ill-informed commenter on something I know little about (which is a failing I always accuse others of ) I’ve read several articles on Rushdie by far more enlightened and literarily-articulate writers than I’ll ever be, and I have to conclude that he’s not such a bad bloke after all. And it goes without saying that any critic of radical Islam is fine by me.
Melanie Phillips sets out the issue forensically and thoroughly here and isn’t at all mean about Mr. Rushdie. She passes on some astute quotes from him.
Perhaps his narrow escape from death will amplify his words of wisdom until they properly resonate with the cowardly media.
To brush up on my 'Rushdie' I read:
Salman Rushdie warned of dark times and we ignored him
Those who argue that words are on a par with violence are grievously blurring a sharp line, writes Bari Weiss in Monday's The Times
Salman Rushdie won’t be the last
Thuggish crybullies will find more targets
How we gave up on Salman Rushdie
Britain saw his fatwa and internalised it
By Will Lloyd
Finally, wouldn’t it be nice if GB News could attract a wider range of adverts, particularly the Welsh ones with their erratic sound levels? They are so amateurish that they make normal adverts look sophisticated. I understand it’s something to do with a boycott. Am I right?