miss_s_b: (Mood: Kill me)
The current twitter hoo-hah is on one side between people who (rightly) think various UK tabloid newspapers are full of hate, and (more arguably) therefore anyone who works for them is a hatemonger; on the other, people in an a dying profession (print journalism) who are scrabbling for the last few paying jobs, and inevitably the hate-filled newspapers are the ones paying.

Now my personal view is that when Stormzy complains that the Daily Mail has written a racist hit piece about him, the correct response is not "well, we've all got bills to pay" because even if that's true it the optics of saying that are awful. And while it is sometimes necessary to work for an employer you don't like because of bills (hell, I worked for W*th*rsp**ns), you can look for other jobs while you're there. I also think there's a difference between someone who actually writes the racist copy, and someone who writes (say) book reviews (assuming the book reviews are not racist too) or moderates comments on the website (assuming they delete the racist comments, which clearly the current moderators at the Daily Mail do not do).

So what do you lot think?

Poll #19235 Press Ethics
This poll is closed.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: Just the Poll Creator, participants: 36

Would you accept a job writing hateful pieces for the Daily Mail if your name was on the copy?

0 (0.0%)

35 (100.0%)

Would you accept a job writing hateful pieces for the Daily Mail if you were anonymous?

2 (5.7%)

33 (94.3%)

Would you accept a job writing non-political content for the Daily Mail?

6 (17.1%)

29 (82.9%)

Would you accept a job moderating comments on the Daily Mail website?

6 (17.1%)

29 (82.9%)

People who work for hate-mongering tabloids are:

enabling hatemongering
27 (84.4%)

just paying the bills
5 (15.6%)

Do you have a list of employers who you would never work for because of moral objections?

24 (68.6%)

11 (31.4%)

Have you ever actually turned down an offer of work for moral reasons?

13 (37.1%)

22 (62.9%)

This poll is unfair because:

miss_s_b: (Mood: Smug)
Look at the comments to my last blog post.

It IS possible for the comment section to work like we all think it should.
There are people imparting information. There are people disagreeing with each other, but respectfully. There is kindness and an apology when a tiny bit of friction happens. People are civilised!

Now, if that can happen - and indeed ALWAYS happens, because my f-list is made of awesome - on my humble blog why the blue buggery fuck can't the newspapers with all their money and paid moderators manage it on their sites? I mean yes, there's scaling issues, but surely it's not beyond the realms of possibility?
miss_s_b: (Mood: Kill me)
There is a set of questions which can be called "The stupid questions asked by a journalist, which shows that they haven't done the most cursory research on the topic they are writing about". This will be an occasional set of posts highlighting these questions, and the answers to them, in an attempt to solve this problem.

Post number one: things the Meat Loaf won't do

Because the title of one of Meat Loaf's biggest hits is "I would do anything for love, but I won't do that", many, many, MANY idiot journalists have asked him what the "that" is, thus showing that they have never actually listened to the song, in which all the things which "that" refers to are detailed. Here is a list of all the thats that Meat Loaf won't do (some of them are a bit rude):

- forget the way you feel right now
- forgive myself if we don't go all the way tonight
- do it better than I do it with you
- stop dreaming of you ev'ry night of my life
- forget everything
- see that it's time to move on
- screw around

You're welcome. Next in this series: why did it take so long for daleks to fly?
miss_s_b: Vince Cable's happy face (Politics: Vince - happy face)
First, a couple of caveats: I haven't read the article itself, just seen a grab of the front page in my twitter stream and read other articles on the same story. Obviously, the fact that someone has been killed (which I found out from the other articles, not from the Fail's headline) is awful. My deepest sympathies to Ms Horton's family and friends. None the less, the wording of the Fail's headline is very interesting in what it tells us about how they wants us to see the story. The headline in question is:

Professor's Wife Victim of Teenage Migrant's Knife Frenzy

Lets unpack this a phrase at a time.
Professor's Wife
This lady is not notable for any of her own accomplishments. She's notable because she is the helpmeet of a professor. None of her own achievements are worth mentioning. She's not "Special needs teacher" or "Darlene Horton" or even "American". She doesn't need or deserve to be named because you won't have heard of her. She's not a person in her own right.
Young people are to be feared! You must always be suspicious of youth. Watch out for them! If you aren't vigilant they might get you!
Foreign people are to be feared! You must always be suspicious of anyone who you suspect of being Not British. Watch out for them! If you aren't vigilant they might get you! Migrant is a very slippery word in and of itself. Was the suspect a refugee? An Asylum Seeker? A person on work placement? A holidaymaker? We don't know. We know the suspect was Not British, though, and that's all that matters. The word implies they were non-white without actually saying so, but it's safe to assume that racists and xenophobes will see this and think "filthy foreigners, coming over here, stabbing our professors' wives". It also implies, without stating, that the professor's wife is British; it subtly sets her up in contrast to the Not British perp. From reading around the story it turns out she's not British, but the Fail don't think the people scanning their front page need to know that.
Knife Frenzy
This implies a lot but actually says very little. Was the lady actually stabbed, or did the perp just frenziedly wave the knife about? Is she injured? Dead? We don't know from this headline. The uncertainty here is meant to draw you in, make you buy the paper - "see pages 12 & 13" is in small font under the huge text of the headline.

It transpires that this story is actually about Darlene Horton, who died in the Russell Square stabbings. Some other headlines about this story include:
"London knife attack: victim named as Darlene Horton" (The Guardian)
"Russell Square Stabbing Victim Named As American Darlene Horton" (HuffPo)
"US woman stabbed to death in London named as Darlene Horton" (ITV)
and the very simple "Russell Square stabbing suspect and victim are named" (Torygraph)
The BBC are among those to actually dignify her with a name, although even to Auntie, her only accomplishment is being a professor's wife. She turns out to be American, a fact that the Fail chose not to make a fuss about, presumably because her being Not British as well as her assailant being Not British would muddy the waters of who we are supposed to sympathise with. She turns out to have been a special needs teacher for 30 years, a fact gleaned from the fourth paragraph of the WSJ article linked above, which also makes a big deal out of her being a professor's wife for several paragraphs, but does at least mention that she had some accomplishments of her own.

The "teenage migrant" is described by the BBC as "a man who had emigrated from Norway in 2002". He just qualifies as being teenage - he's 19. The beeb don't name the suspect, but several other news services do. The Standard describes him as "Tooting Teenager", which is interesting in itself. The Standard is a London paper, and so it expects its readers to make associations with Tooting that perhaps would not be obvious to those of us who are not Londoners (all it makes me personally think of is Wolfie Smith). He's a Norwegian citizen, but pretty much every article I have seen mentions that he's "of Somali descent" because brown people are much scarier bogeymen than white Norwegians.

The Fail's headline is terrfiying in the assumptions it makes - women are only valuable when they are the wives of men, young people should be automatically feared, foreigners should be automatically feared, etc. But the thing is the assumptions they make are there in most of the rest of the news stories about this too. The Mail might be the most egregious example, but the entire press corps is guilty of pushing these assumptions, drip drip drip, on a daily basis, into the national psyche.

The question is does that reflect or perpetuate people's views? IMHO a little bit of both.
miss_s_b: (Britishness: Tea)
Just over a week ago I decided I would plump for the two month's free trial. Two months is loads of time to evaluate it, right? And free is my favourite price. OK, so you have to put your card details in so they can charge you after the 2 months is up, but that's normal... And I do genuinely believe that quality journalism is worth paying for, so I would have happily spudded up my £12.99 a month after my free trial if I thought that the content was worth it and I got on OK with the app.

Here follows a list of the problems I have had:
  1. The first major problem: they charged me. Instantly. £12.99. This does not fit my definition of 2 months free. And when I checked my account on the "manage your account" page it said right there it was going to charge me again on the 27th of May. Nope nope nope.

  2. Speaking of managing your account... You can't do this within the app. You can't actually do much within the app. Want to send a letter? Nope. Comment on an article? Ha! Nope. Flip back and forth between sections? Not for you, my friend. There is a menu structure, but it's not user friendly at all.

  3. On top of the UI problems the crossword section is buggy. It will type words across for me, but for down clues the only letter it will input is S. Obviously not all the answers to all the down clues are SSSSSSS. I mentioned this to support, having had to search to find a support email address, because, of course, you can't actually contact Support from within the app. Exactly a week later I got what looked suspiciously like an autoreply from someone called Daniel who said they were looking into it. A week! And even then, no proper actual answer, not even a request for more information, just "we'll look into it".

  4. I have some issues with the content. Don't get me wrong, the news coverage is pretty good, for a London-centric Westminster-bubble-gossip paper, and so is the comment. Everything else seems pretty light. And the Sport section is AWFUL. There are very very few non-football articles - a maximum of one or two per day out of ten or twelve total articles in the sport section. Every last one of the football articles are men's football. No women's at all. Women are occasionally mentioned in the one-or-two-per-day non-football articles, but not very often. This does not fit my definition of sport. Why not just rename the section "overpaid fitba men" and have done with it?

  5. Even in a paid for app, halfway through each section and between the sections there are adverts. So you have to wait for a painful 2 or 3 seconds while the sodding advert loads before you can move on to the next article. Every single advert this week has been one with that purple muppet on for 3. Every single advert. But it's not cached, so you still have to wait for it to load every time you come across it.

  6. Sharing. A digital app should allow you to share the articles, right? Free advertising for the paper and informedness for you and your friends. Except if you share an article from the digital Indy it shares the link to the subscription version. The actual text of this article is the same as the one on the Indy website, but it has the word "edition" in the url so non-subscribers will not be able to read it. So if you want to share a version people can actually read, you have to open your browser, search for "Independent" + the headline of the article, and hope that it's not one of the many, many articles which they changed the headline for on the main website - presumably to frustrate subscribers who want to share with non-subscribers
So I have today gone and pressed the "cancel autorenew" button on the "manage my account" page, which appears to be the nearest you can get to cancelling your sub. And if they charge me again on the 27th I shall be furious. I'm actually, at this point, tempted by The Grauniad, despite Moonbat and Toynbee. Damn you, Indy, for making me be tempted by the Grauniad. But at least they cover cricket. Sometimes even women's cricket!

(This ranty post was brought to you while I sit festering on hold to some godforsaken company at work. Have you all in the UK who are registered been and voted yet? If not, why not? GO VOTE. Do it now before you forget!)
miss_s_b: Mindy St Clare from The Good Place, hiding her nakedness behind very large sunflowers and looking shocked (Default)
... which I suspect they won't publish:
(to the tune of Jerusalem)

And did the Brits
In Ancient time
Pinch all your country's wealth from you?
And did we pinch
Your words as well
To add to England's language true?
We shall pretend the world is ours
By some divine right or something
But really we're the bestest thieves
You see we even nicked this tune
If you want to have a go, you can find the details, such as they are, at the bottom of the page detailing the winners of their last competition.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Oh dear)

The picture above is an excerpt from DCM's standard terms and conditions for accepting advertising. They have been this way for a year or so, when they were changed to remove "party" from before "political" after so many people in Scotland complained about the Yes and No referendum campaign adverts. You will note that the small change I mention happened before the CofE even thought about filming their advert.

I am sure you are all aware of the maxim that one doesn't talk about religion or politics in public because someone is bound to get upset? DCM have this policy for that reason: whatever religion (or lack thereof, you'll note) is mentioned, someone is bound to get upset, demand their money back from the cinema, start protests, whine on social media, etc, and it's just not worth it. From a commercial point of view, if the money you make from accepting an advert doesn't cover the cost of the trouble the advert will cause, why would you even bother? As Ian Dunt points out here, it's not like the British Humanist Association, among others, haven't fallen foul of the same policy*. How anyone can claim with a straight face that this is discrimination is beyond me.

So no:
  • the CofE are not being discriminated against: this policy applies to groups of all religions and none. As LegionsEagle put it earlier, it's a category-based exclusion, not a content-based one.

  • this is not a new policy, nor should it have been a surprise to the CofE, nor was it suddenly brought in for some nebulous reason to do with muslims (try not to let your naked islamophobia show there)

  • The church of England is not some persecuted minority. They have a reasonable percentage of the legislature of the country all to themselves

I've spent half the day telling all and sundry from BBC Radio Leeds to everyone on twitter that this is a big fuss about nothing, is being massively misrepresented by the church for whatever ends, and it annoys me that the media are falling for it like they did for the sodding Winterval Myth; and so now I have typed it all out in a blog post I can just C&P the link.

*it's a shame Ian doesn't make the intellectual leap to apply the same logic to the other frozen peaches he's been trying to stop from thawing recently, but I think Ian and I just fall on different sides of the fuzzy-like-peach-skin generational divide line so eloquently described by Andrew here
miss_s_b: (Mood: Kill me)
So today the lovely [personal profile] sassy_scot informed me that the Daily Fail have used some of my words. Agin my better judgement I went to look. You can read the piece here without giving the Fail your clicks if you wish. It's also on page 4 of the actual printed newspaper, although I'd rather you didn't actually BUY it on that basis. Giving the Fail money goes against my ethical shopping principles.

You'll note that while the piece contains a hefty lift from my blog post from yesterday, I am uncredited - despite my name being in big letters on my header bar. I was also not contacted before the piece went live (or indeed, after) and the piece does not abide by the terms in my creative commons license, which is there in the sidebar of every single post including this one. Now I suppose they could argue the percentages and say they were quoting me, but it's usual when quoting someone, to use their name, at least in my experience.

Meanwhile, Alisdair's comment to that blog post is also quoted, but he gets name, rank and serial number. Also, both of us are said to have emailed Tim Farron, despite both of us having emailed Sal Brinton with Tim Farron copied in. Does it strike anyone else that there's a smidge of sexism there? We're assumed to have emailed Tim because Tim is more important; Alisdair gets named because he's more important than me, even though I am (politically, at least) his boss.

As you can probably tell, I am somewhat annoyed by this. Is there anything I can reasonably do about it? My creative commons license says that anything quoting me should be attributed and not for commercial use, and the Fail is definitely commercial use...

Update: editing to add a couple of tweets which have really made me laugh:
followed by

miss_s_b: (Politics: Liberal)
So on tonight's channel four news Cathy Newman went for our new leader's jugular. And lots of people seem to be lapping up the blood like it's going out of fashion. Yes, pink news, I'm looking at you. I'm not going to pretend to be an expert on religion here, because I don't need to be. Does Tim consider homosexual sex a sin? I don't really care, because sin is a concept that does not apply to my worldview.

I'm an atheist.
I'm bisexual.
I'm poly.
I voted for Tim Farron and I do not regret it.
I don't care what Tim considers to be sinful in the privacy of his own religion. I care that he agitates for my freedom. I care that he wants to end the spousal veto for my trans friends. I care that when I said "if I can ever have a poly wedding are you going to come?" he said he'd be on the first train.

Fuck you, media. I know my leader, & he's not what you're painting him.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
The guardian website/tomorrow's print observer has a somewhat hysterical article about how we could face long coalition negotiations after the election. I'm not going to pick holes in their prediction for the most likely outcome of the election, although it doesn't chime with mine*, I'm just going to pick out one paragraph to pick holes in:
While the Lib Dem rule book gives the party’s MPs the main say on whether to approve a new coalition, there will be a special conference of senior party officials that will vote on the deal. Although the decision of the conference is not binding, according to the rules, senior figures say if the conference votes the deal down, Clegg will have to accept defeat.
To take the wrong bits in order:

1, "While the Lib Dem rule book gives the party’s MPs the main say on whether to approve a new coalition" - errr, no. Caron wrote a very good article about this a week ago. The MPs get the first vote after the negotiating team has negotiated in consultation with the reference group. The MAIN say, the decision as to whether it goes ahead or not, is taken by special conference.

2, "there will be a special conference of senior party officials that will vote on the deal" - voting reps are not in the sense of the words most people will understand "senior party officials" - not unless you think the vast majority of the active membership are senior. There's THOUSANDS of us. Most local parties don't even fill their quota of voting reps because there aren't enough people who want to go vote on things at conferences, and the only reason special conference is not one member one vote is the almighty cock up FE made of trying to introduce OMOV at Glasgow.

3, "Although the decision of the conference is not binding, according to the rules" - yes it is. This is just a plain factual error. It wasn't binding in 2010, but we changed the rules in 2012.

4, "senior figures say if the conference votes the deal down, Clegg will have to accept defeat." - well yes he will, because the decision is binding. And not only is the decision binding but to agree to a coalition (OR confidence and supply) special conference has to vote in favour by a 2/3 majority or more.

It really is going to be quite difficult to persuade 2/3 of lib dem members to vote in favour of ANY coalition deal with ANY party after the amount of stuff that was in the agreement this time around that the tories reneged on. We voted in favour of an agreement which gave us a good chance of electoral reform and supposedly guaranteed lords reform; neither of those things happened. Without cast iron guarantees of those things, and no shilly-shallying about referendums or anything, there's no way on earth you'd get a bare majority, never mind a 2/3 majority.

Similarly, the idea that any coalition involving UKIP or the DUP would get a 2/3 majority of members voting for it is just laughable in the extreme. I'd be amazed if you could herd the cats long enough to get a 2/3 majority for either of the Labservative parties on their own, to be honest.

I'm reasonably certain that this is why our Cleggy is drawing so many red lines this time around, by the way. He knows he'll not get an agreement past special conference, so he's scuppering it before it gets to that point, then he can spread his hands wide and say "well we TRIED to form a stable coalition but the other parties just wouldn't budge enough".

* I still say we're going to get a minority Labour government that'll collapse in acrimony and infighting within 6 months, and then we'll get another election.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
Note to readership: I have been having a very bad brain day today. This blog post came out in fits and starts over about 6 hours. Normally something like this would take about 15 minutes. So please understand if I am not as quick to respond to comments as usual. Thanks.

Much is often made* of the fact that our politics in this country is done by the privileged, not just in terms of race and gender, but class; that you need to have money to get anywhere; and that our journalists are from similarly privileged backgrounds and do a bad job of scrutinising the politicians. We need to break down the elites that govern us to truly have a fairer society in which everyone can get on in life**, we are told. Just as an example, there's this piece on Scarlet Standard which I read earlier.

There is certainly an argument to be made that there are too many people in parliament/journalism who haven't the first clue what it's like to be poor, and it's also true that being privately educated means that your parents had some money when you were a kid. But because there is an overlap between those two groups does not mean that they are the same thing***.

The problem I have with attacking people for being privately educated is that people don't fit into neat little boxes with interchangeable labels. Compare and contrast the following two examples:
  1. A privately educated, able-bodied, cis white person, with post graduate law degree, and family in positions of power/privilege including running a radio station, a famous artist, and headmaster of a school

  2. A bisexual single mother from a family of socialist activists who abandoned the Labour party after Clause Four was removed, who has never had a job paying much more than minimum wage, and who has often gone without food to pay the rent or feed her child?
Both of those are, of course, descriptions of me. But in the extremely unlikely event I were to become an MP, which of those descriptors would be chosen for me by the people who think we should have class warfare? You can bet a lot of people, especially in the Labour party, would pick the first set, and bemoan yet another privately educated white lawyer getting into parliament****.

I don't particularly resent that; the Labour party is as the Labour party does, and it's not for me to tell the opposition what they can and can't attack me on*****. But me personally? I think every politician is an individual, whatever their educational status, or gender, or race, or whatever, and we should be critiquing what they do, or how ill-informed they are on a topic, not where they come from. If they are unfairly legislating against the poor (or women, or immigrants, or whatever), or if they show breathtaking lack of knowledge on a topic, then attack them for THAT, not for the choices their parents made for them when they were young.

I do, however, object to the lack of diversity in parliament and journalism. Not because it's unfair (although it is) or because it's unrepresentative (although it is), but because the homogeneity of person going into parliament/journalism leads to a homogeneity of thinking, and that leads to poorer parliament and poorer journalism. Study after study shows that diversity increases success in business and in other fields, so it should definitely be encouraged. But the problem would be the same if parliament were entirely composed of poor women, rather than being largely composed of rich men as it is now. The problem is the homogeneity, not the attributes of the homogenous people. That's why we ought to look to achieving diversity, not promote more of one type of person or another.

Acheiving diversity is very difficult, though, which I think is why many try to reduce it to a box-ticking exercise. You don't achieve diversity by having x percentage of people possessing y attributes in a given field and then it's done and you don't have to worry about it any more. Which attributes do you pick for that anyway? Race, gender expression, sexuality, mental health status, physical health status, whether you're a parent or not...? The list is potentially endless. Increasing the number of women in parliament won't achieve diversity if they are all rich; increasing the number of poor people in parliament will not achieve diversity if they are all white; etc. etc..

To achieve diversity, powerful elites need to consciously look outside their comfort zones, and purposefully seek out people who think differently in order to learn from them. Otherwise you end up with recruitment processes like this:

... where no matter how many boxes are ticked, nepotism still holds sway.

*regularly by me, it must be said
**on message, in volume, over time, that's me.
***and even if it did, there is nothing to stop a rich person from truly empathising with the poor, just as there's nothing to stop the poor from reading the Daily Mail and moaning about scroungers.
*****While I do, of course, reserve the right to respond in whatever way I see fit.
miss_s_b: Mindy St Clare from The Good Place, hiding her nakedness behind very large sunflowers and looking shocked (Default)
So the currently in vogue moral panic is internet bullying. First twitter, and now ask.fm have become the focus of the old media due to tragic events of varying description. What is it about the internet, ask the commentariat, that leads to such disgusting behaviour?

I've got news for the commentariat. It's not the tool, it's the users. A certain number of people have always been bullies. People have always written - and received - poison pen letters, some of them anonymous. People have always been pushed into suicide, scared and alone, because of the behaviour of their peer group. It's tragic, it's disgusting, and it shouldn't go unpunished. But it's not new. The only thing that's different about the internet is that now everyone who turned a blind eye to this sort of behaviour when it was happening before is now forced to admit that actually, it DOES happen, and it happens lots.

Worst of all, somebody has actually done some research (I know! Imagine! RESEARCH!) into problem behaviour online (in this case the community around a specific game, but I'd be amazed if it doesn't scale up) and discovered that most of the bad behaviour comes from people who, most of the time, are perfectly civil and friendly. It's almost as if, I don't know, we're all humans, and sometimes we get angry and blow up at each other? Like, big bad bogeymen don't exist, and actually it's a lot more complicated than that. Who'd have thought? This means that even (say) Suzanne Moore or Richard Dawkins aren't actually evil. I know, that's a big idea to take in. Take a minute.

Most of the people who bully others online don't do it because they are evil, they do it because they have very little power but they want to exercise what little they have at the expense of someone else because other people are always exercising power over THEM dammit, so they're going to do it too! Or they haven't considered how the person on the receiving end will feel, or they think it's funny, or they're bored, or a combination of the four. Exactly the same as all other bullying ever.

Now, the reason this concerns me, and the reason I am writing this post, is that the old media consensus that this is NEW and ONLY HAPPENS ON THE INTERNET and SOMETHING MUST BE DONE TM seems to be gaining some purchase among otherwise sane people. Few people seem to be thinking about why the old media are so keen for this narrative to take hold, and why they are particularly pushing it now.

Now this is just speculation, and might qualify me for a tinfoil hat, but who has the most to gain if the internet in the UK becomes regulated? Can it really be entirely a coincidence that this moral panic has come to the boil at the same time as David Cameron has reheated his plans for internet censorship? First he wanted to apply it to porn, but then all sorts of other websites got added to the list... And strangely the people with the most to gain from regulation of the supply of information are making a huge hue and cry about how the internet is bad and evil and Something Must Be Done TM. I smell something, and it's murine.

I don't condone bullying, and I don't condone mob "justice". But bullying and mob justice are not confined to the internet, and restricting online content for all of us is not in the interests of anyone but the existing media power blocs. If we want to stop bullying we have to create a society in which bullying is not a tool to gain social status. We have to make it less advantageous to bully and more advantageous to be nice. It's not going to be easy, and there are no quick fixes. The Quick Fix of internet regulation will not solve the problem, and the media who want us to believe that it will are not our friends. Let's not drink their kool aid, people. Please?
miss_s_b: (Who: SixAppeal)
[profile] sassyscot pointed me towards this travesty on the Torygraph website.

For the avoidance of doubt, the correct order in a chart like this should be:
  1. Colin Baker

  2. Circa 60 other actors, including Peter Cushing, Joanna Lumley, Arabella Weir, Derek Jacobi and Mark Gatiss

  3. David Tennant
Poor form at the Torygraph, given that their article didn't even mention the best actor to play the role. Still, what does one expect from a rag like that?

ETA: as Andrew quite correctly points out in the comments The Torygraph article is even more of a travesty than I thought because it calls itself "the top ten time Lords" and yet all of the entries are for the doctor. Whither Anthony Ainley, Lalla Ward, Timothy Dalton, Don Warrington, etc.etc.etc.?
miss_s_b: Mindy St Clare from The Good Place, hiding her nakedness behind very large sunflowers and looking shocked (Feminist Heroes: Kate Beckett)
So Charles Saachi is divorcing Nigella Lawson because she hasn't come forward to defend him after he was photographed violently assaulting her in public1. How does he let her know he is divorcing her? By printing an article in the Fail on Sunday.

If Charles Saachi wants to stop people speculating that he is a domestic abuser, this is REALLY not the way to go about it. I haven't read the article in the Fail because I refuse to give them my clicks, but just the extracts in the Torygraph2 article linked above reek of the sort of entitled and manipulative mindset typical of the abuser.

I am disappointed that she was advised to make no public comment to explain that I abhor violence of any kind against women, and have never abused her physically in any way. - is clearly meant to imply that he has never abused her, but doesn't actually SAY that. It says he's sad that she's been advised not to say that he hasn't abused her. That could quite easily be read as he HAS abused her but he wants her to say that he hasn't so he can keep on doing it - either to her, or to other ladies - and keep his reputation. If he is not an abuser, as he maintains he isn't, he possibly ought to have worded this differently.

could equally have been Nigella grasping my neck to hold my attention – as indeed she has done in the past - now is NOT the time to start casting nasty innuendo about how Nigella was just as bad as you, Charles, it's really not. That's manipulative. That's trying to make yourself a figure of sympathy when you've been caught in public doing something very wrong. You know who else does stuff like that, Charles? Abusers.

our love was very deep, but in the last year we have become estranged and drifted apart - this is a big change from what you were saying a few days ago. And your story keeps changing, from "playful tiff" to "I was wiping her nose" to "oh all right I'll accept a caution". This looks like the behaviour of an abuser who is fishing to see what people will accept as excuses. If you're not an abuser, Charles, why are you doing what they do? Why are you using the same tactics? Don't you realise that by using and legitimising the tactics of abusers you are making those tactics just that tiny bit more acceptable for ACTUAL abusers to use?

Despite the circumstances of it coming about (in the MAIL ON SUNDAY, Charles? What were you THINKING?) I am actually reasonably glad this divorce is happening. Clearly the relationship is beyond salvage and the press vultures (fed by one party) are loving it, but a divorce will be over at some point, whereas a continuing "troubled marriage" would just be fodder for the vultures for the foreseeable future.

I just hope that Charles Saachi isn't lying, and that he really isn't an abuser. Because if he were an abuser, the classic response of a victim would be for Nigella to go back to him, to beg him not to divorce her, to apologise and say she can change and she didn't mean to show him up in public and she's sorry and it'll never happen again and she loves him and oh please, she can change... And I don't want to think of Nigella doing that, because I've done that, and it's not dignified and it doesn't help either the abuser or the victim.

1 I can say this without fear of being suedbecause he's accepted a police caution for it, and that necessarily includes an admission of guilt.
1 You might think it's strange that I'm happy to give my clicks to the Torygraph but not the Fail - well, it's quite simple. The Torygraph doesn't try to pretend it's anything other than what it is.
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
I see variations of the words in the title of this post multiple times a day. Most often they are followed by a link to the offending article, and that really grinds my gears. I never click the link. Never. D'you know why?

Because EVERY pageview is a pageview they can sell to advertisers.
EVERY discussion that mentions them, whether positively or negatively, is buzz that they can sell to advertisers.

Why do you think the Daily Mail is the biggest "news" site in the world? It's not just because people approve of the crap they write. It's because people DISapprove of the crap they write, but still link to it saying "isn't this awful crap in the Daily Mail awful crap?". It's the same reason the BBC keep inviting known racist and bad historian David Starkey back onto Question Time: because every time he's on, twitter explodes with fury about whatever racist stupid inaccurate thing he said this time. It's buzz. It's eyeballs.

Now, I am perfectly happy for the ideas mentioned in Daily Mail articles to be demolished for the illiberal, homophobic, transphobic, racist utter bullshit they most often are. More than perfectly happy; I think it's extremely necessary. But to do that by linking to them, by sending them eyeballs, by creating buzz about them? That totally defeats the object. I want the Daily Mail and it's poisonous worldview to die. For that to happen we have to not only attack the ideas they promulgate, but also stop giving them the traffic they desperately want.

The Daily Mail doesn't care if you read it nodding with approval, or read it in a fulminating rage. They only care that you read it, and that you make them money by so doing, either directly or indirectly from advertisers (and I'm not even going to go into the total illogicality of the people who actually BUY the damn rag to tut over it and say how awful it is).

I realise that I am probably being a bit of a Canute here, but can those of us who stand against everything that horrible organ stands for PLEASE stop giving them what they want? That'd be lovely.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
I am utterly sick of people attempting to read in the entrails of the local election results what might happen in the general election in 2015. Here is a (non-exhaustive) list of why such efforts are fruitless bullshit:
  1. People vote differently in local and general elections. Recognising that the local council has very little power any more, people take council elections far less seriously. This means that turnout is derisory and the result is thus distorted by the people who DO turnout being either seriously committed to one party or another, or wanting to "send a message" by spoiling their ballot or voting for a party they know cannot win.

  2. Local elections were not held in every parliamentary constituency. This means that any extrapolation to a national result is "projection" - i.e. guesswork

  3. Time will pass between now and a general election. Political change tends to be evolutionary rather than revolutionary, but sometimes there IS a revolutionary change, and none of us knows what will happen in the next two years. The old adage that a week is a long time in politics still holds true in many cases.

  4. Data which applies to our electoral system is incomplete, verging on non-existent. The only polling data we have which is reliable at constituency level is from previous general elections. No polling company holds/collects data at constituency level, and most of them hold/collect data at a national level. This is USELESS for predicting the results of a general election under the first past the post electoral system, where every single constituency has its own idiosyncracies. We will never get a British Nate Silver or change the woeful quality of political analysis in the media unless this changes.

  5. The pundits in the media are crap. Relying on the proclamations of media pundits is an exercise in futility when none of them even acknowledge that they are guessing from incomplete data.
I'm sure there are other reasons that could be added to this list, but you get the idea. Basically, if anyone tells you that they can predict what will happen in May 2015 after this week's local election results, your bullshit detector should be pinging off the top of the scale.
miss_s_b: Mindy St Clare from The Good Place, hiding her nakedness behind very large sunflowers and looking shocked (Mood:J'accuse)
I'm composing this on my phone so it's going to be quick and dirty, but I have the following things to say:

1, asking someone to consider what impact their words will have is not censoring them or banning anything
2; being told you have hurt someone is not fun; but it's better than hurting people
3, people with privilege are used to not considering other people's feelings and get upset when they are asked to consider other people. On one level this is understandable because considering other people is work. But it's nowhere near as much work as living with total lack of consideration all the time.
4, if you use a word that upsets people without knowing it will upset people that is qualitatively different from knowing it will upset people and using it anyway.
5, you are perfectly free to say whatever you like BUT THAT IS NOT THE END OF IT. Once you have said what you like other people are free to react how they like and judge you how they like in consequence of what you have said.
6; there is NO point 6
7, All words cause reactions. If you don't like the reaction your words cause it might behove you to consider your words more carefully in future, especially if you're getting paid for writing them; rather than railing at people you have upset for reacting in am entirely predictable way.

This post brought to you by today's twitter storm. Further reading:

miss_s_b: Mindy St Clare from The Good Place, hiding her nakedness behind very large sunflowers and looking shocked (mood: not listening)
Mike Smithson posted this image comparing press circulation figures of ten years ago with now earlier:

Now there are some caveats (we don't know if The Times includes digital subs, and the i is not featured at all) but overall that paints a pretty damning picture of circulation falling off a cliff. No wonder the press get so hysterical all the time. Anyway, I wondered:

Poll #13049 Newspapers
This poll is closed.
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 26

Do you buy a newspaper?

View Answers

Yes, I pay money for a paper-based newspaper
8 (30.8%)

I pick up a free paper-based newspaper
2 (7.7%)

I have a digital-only subscription
2 (7.7%)

No, I do not pay money to any written news providers, but I read their websites
13 (50.0%)

No, I do not consume written news at all
1 (3.8%)

How much longer are traditional newspapers going to be on sale?

View Answers

5 years
7 (29.2%)

10 years
6 (25.0%)

11 (45.8%)

miss_s_b: (Britishness: cricket)
As usual when we get a few flakes in the UK the press and media have gone berserk. There have been some issues with transport, but other than that and the British propensity to moan about the weather whatever the weather actually is, I really can't see what all the journalistic fuss is about. So you save a bit of money by not going shopping and you might get a day off work because the buses/trains aren't running. Neither of these are tragedies. Remarkably few of the journalists who are moaning know or care about people who are freezing to death because of poverty, and the whinging is mainly pointless.

That said, there does seem to be a basic level of ignorance about how to cope with cold weather and snow in particular.

Obviously if you are indoors, you can turn the heating up or curl up under a duvet, but what if you have to go outside? What if, because of the problems with the roads, you have to WALK somewhere?

There follows a list of the things I find invaluable at times like this, with apologies to all those of you who know all this already:
  1. Layers. I am currently wearing a vest, a t-shirt, a long sleeved t-shirt and a jumper.

  2. Polar Buff. Miles better than a scarf, and remarkably thin, thin enough to be an extra layer under a hat for outdoors without being uncomfortable. It's also easy to arrange it so the only bits of your head that are exposed are your eyes and nose.

  3. British Army Long Johns, which you can pick up for as little as two pounds a pair if you can stomach second hand. They're bloody awesome, warm and snuggly and soft and non-allergenic.

  4. Sealskinz socks. They're not as good as they used to be, but thankfully I have a few pairs of the old ones which I have had for over ten years. They're still warm and still waterproof.

  5. Good boots. Anything with a decent cleated sole will help you grip in the slippery snow, and the higher up your leg they go the warmer you will be. I have a pair of these which are marvellous (if slightly girly) - I paid a damn sight less than they are on that website though.

  6. A Good Coat. Mine is a German army one with lots of pockets and a very warm fleecy liner, but there are lots of good coats available.

  7. Good glubs and a warm hat. Being an occasional motorcyclist, I have good gloves anyway - warm, waterproof and flexible. The hat I wore today (over my Buff) was given to me by my daughter. She got it free on Doctor Who Adventures magazine last year, and it's got a reflective Doctor Who logo on it - I wouldn't have been able to wear it sans Buff because the "wool" is scratchy, but it's OK on top of a Buff. It's important to keep your head and hands warm because that's where a lot of the warmth escapes from.
I hope this (slightly patronising) entry helps you poor benighted journos cope in the *checks window* three inches of snow we are currently experiencing in Yorkshire and the reported quarter of an inch you've got in some southern counties...
miss_s_b: (Mood: Facepalm)
Lets play a game of spot the difference, gentle reader:

This photo is a picture taken by of Nick Clegg posing with an Incredible Hulk onesie given to him by Liberal Youth:


This photo is a picture used by the Torygraph to illustrate a non-story about one of the people who spoke to Nick Clegg on his radio phone in being a Lib Dem activist:


Now, I am sure that the Torygraph just cropped the picture to make the composition better and to make it fit better into the column, and the fact that this has resulted in the black guy and the guy with long hair being cropped off is just a side effect and not a intended consequence, but it does fit into an unfortunate narrative of people who are not white/male being cropped out of photos or replaced in them - and not just by newspapers.


What makes the unfortunate cropping worse is that the black guy in the photo of Nick Clegg with his onesie is the guy who asked him to pose with the onesie in the first place, m'friend'n'colleague Lance. They wouldn't even HAVE the picture of Clegg with his blasted onesie if it hadn't been for one of the people they cropped out. What a bunch of plonkers.
miss_s_b: (Fanigrling: Rumpole)
The Facts:
  • The press have behaved atrociously.

  • The behaviour is not all journalists, but is systemic across all the papers, although it's worse at the tabloids than the broadsheets.

  • The police have been reluctant to arrest journalists, even when they quite blatantly break the law.

  • Politicians have been reluctant to offend the press for fear of losing elections.

  • There are lots of laws which could have been applied to most of the situations people have a problem with - both in terms of the stuff that was printed and the corrupt relationships between politicians, police and media - nobody enforced them.

  • The press are losing influence and sales because of the rise of the internet and any system of press regulation which may or may not be put into place right now will be out of date within months.

  • This is making them panic and they think that if they can't keep on perving over the 14 year old daughters of celebrities and lying about people who can't afford to sue them they will lose more money faster - IMHO this is probably true. Far more people are interested in pap shots of 14 year old with budding tits than they are in the minutiae of political corruption scandals.

  • Nobody* thinks that political control of the media is desirable.

  • Nobody* wants the libel laws beefed up because they already encourage libel tourism and the promotion of The Golden Rule**

  • Equally, nobody* thinks that continuing on as before is acceptable and we're all agreed that Something Must Be Done - but all of the proposed solutions have downsides, either giving too much power to politicians or not curbing the ridiculous excesses of the press and nobody is happy with any of them.
You can see why I referred to this as a Gordian knot in the title, amirite? But unlike the previous post, I do actually have a proposed solution. A nice simple solution. A solution that doesn't involve any new statutes***, and doesn't involve letting the press off the hook.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it? Possibly it is. I'm sure if there are holes to be picked, you lot will manage it... My proposed solution is this:

Add press complaints to the raft of things which legal aid is available for. At the core of this, it's an access to justice issue. The press will happily defame people who can't afford to sue, and given that probably we're in a triple dip recession, and that legal aid has been cut drastically and repeatedly of late, this is only going to get worse. However, although the entire legal aid budget is set by politicians, they have no say over what it gets spent on. If we're worried about FatCatLawyersGettingRichOffOurTaxes we can always fund charities like CAB to make initial assessments - CAB are VERY good at the legal stuff, when they aren't starved of funds - and it wouldn't involve any corrupt appointments.

If the police refuse to prosecute papers who break the law, let us bring private prosecutions.
If the PCC can't or won't adjudicate on something, or their adjudication is ignored by the papers, let us take them to court.

Let the courts impose fines.
Let the journos and newspaper owners who ignore the law of the land and the rulings of the courts be sent to prison (and frankly I won't lose any sleep if Frazer Nelson is first in the queue).

Of course, the reason nobody is going to go for this is that Leveson is a huge political football which all parties are enjoying kicking around, whilst opining that all they are bothered about is THUHVICTIMS or THUHFREEDUMOFTHEPRESS and I genuinely believe that police, politicans AND press would all be happiest papering over the cracks and carrying on as normal with their corrupt and cosy relationships.

The question is, are they going to get away with that? Again?****

* Nobody with any sense, that is.
** (S)he who has the gold makes the rules
*** possibly a couple of statutory instruments, maybe...
**** sadly I think the answer to that is probably "yes", because of the golden rule detailed above.
miss_s_b: Mindy St Clare from The Good Place, hiding her nakedness behind very large sunflowers and looking shocked (Default)
miss_s_b: Captain Kathryn Janeway (Sci-fi: Janeway)
When only 2% of sports coverage in the mainstream media mentions women at all, despite the massive successes of our sportswomen;
When Nuts and Zoo are on the judging panel;
When the uniforms for women's sports are specifically designed to cater to the male gaze because that's the only way we can get people* interested in women's sport...

Sports personality of the year really is an illustration of the problem, rather than the problem itself, isn't it? Hopefully this furore might get the media to pay a bit more attention to the stunning successes of some of our female sports stars, but somehow I doubt it. Post-feminist era my arse.

* for which read men**, because of course, women are NOTpeople and who cares if they are interested or not?
** probably young, white, able-bodied cis-gendered, heterosexual men, for that matter.
miss_s_b: Mindy St Clare from The Good Place, hiding her nakedness behind very large sunflowers and looking shocked (Fangirling: Being Human - Annie)
There was a headline in the Express (which my boss insists on getting for the pub despite my protests) yesterday. It read "Nearly half of rioters were on benefits". A couple of customers were reading it and tutting about bloody scroungers. I pointed out that it could otherwise be worded as "over half of rioters too rich to claim tax credits, and childless" and they looked confused until I explained that everyone with a child can claim child benefit...

A small deed, but none the less I think it did some good.
miss_s_b: (Politics: Democracy)
The last week has seen an absolute frothing media frenzy on the tuition fees issue. WILL THE LIB DEMS SPLIT?!!!1 OMG THEY SPLIT!!!eleventy! IS THIS THE END OF THE LIB DEMS????!!!!

Got news for you, bozos. We're Liberals. We accept the idea that reasonable people can (and in some cases should) disagree with each other. The process of debate is one that we actively enjoy in this party; and forged in the fires of Conference, our MPs are bloody well practised at enjoying a good debate.

That being said, the vote has happened, the votes fell as they fell, and now it's time to move on to the next issue. We're not going to have internecine strife between "wings" of the party over this; partly because the "wings" of the party don't fall in the way you think they do anyway. On some issues I'm a total Orange Booker; on others I'm a rabid lefty. But on everything I'm a Liberal, that's my core principle right there, and that means accepting the fact that you can't agree with everyone all the time, but it's still better to agree to disagree on some things, and work together on the things you CAN agree on, than just stand shouting pointlessly at each other.

All this bollocks about party discipline might apply to other (in my view lesser) parties who are full of authoritarian arseholes who can't tolerate discord; we breathe tolerance, we eat argument, and occasionally we shit discord. Get used to it.

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A picture of me with my mum's dog Pippin

Hello! I'm Jennie (known to many as SB, due to my handle, or The Yorksher Gob because of my old blog's name). This blog is my public face; click here for a list of all the other places you can find me on t'interwebs.


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