Over the past 40 years I’ve watched the rich and powerful greedily chomping their way through every scrap of public property they could get their hands on – from British Aerospace and British Telecom to gas, electricity, water, British Rail , the Royal Mail and now – the last remaining jewels in the Great British public’s crown – the NHS and the BBC.
It’s not hard to understand why they want all this stuff. If you sell things people don’t really need, your profits are hostage to the whims of fashion, but if you have a monopoly on all the things people can’t live without then your profits are guaranteed for life.
A video Christmas Card: a load of YouTube videos mashed up with a home-made song.
“Woe is us, we”re in a lot of trouble. We’re at a point of maximum denial. People are ignoring the obvious, They’re keeping the news out of the News.”
“The oligarchic character of the modern English Commonwealth does not rest, like may oligarchies, on the cruelty of the rich to the poor. It does not even rest on the kindness of the rich to the poor. It rests on the perennial and unfailing kindness of the poor to the rich.”
Anyone who watches TV detective stories knows there are certain rules all good investigators must follow. The same rules apply in all kinds of inquiry – in law, journalism and science alike.
The rules are essentially what’s called the scientific method. A method for acquiring knowledge which has been at the foundation of all liberal democracies for more than 300 years.
Take nobodies word for it. Hearsay doesn’t prove anything. Forget any theories and assertions, especially from the authorities, and just focus on the facts – the empirical evidence – the things we can experience with our common senses of touch, smell, taste, hearing and sight.
I saw something on the BBC News Channel yesterday afternoon (Tuesday 22 July 2015) that made me think I was losing my marbles.
Perching on the arm of the sofa, enjoying a few moments of shade after spending a glorious summer afternoon sweltering in the scorching heat of the garden, I was absent mindedly flicking through the TV channels, when I came across an interview on the BBC News Channel between BBC Business Correspondent, Ben Thompson, and a lady from some City brokerage firm giving the usual market updates. At the end of the interview Thompson said something like:
“I suppose we can’t end without mentioning that RATHER BORING NUMBER released by the Office for National Statistics today: the government deficit for June.”
To which the City brokerage lady said something like:
Well, I don’t think it’s boring. In fact it’s quite ironic that public sector borrowing last month was 50 percent higher than last year. When you consider that the financial crash of 2008 was caused by too much government borrowing, and total government borrowing since then has risen by another 25 percent, then when they finally decide we have to balance the books, some future generation is really going to feel the pinch.”
YOU WHAAAAT??? I was so shocked I nearly fell off my chair. Some FUTURE generation is really going to feel the pinch? Isn’t THIS generation feeling the pinch NOW! Isn’t lowering government debt what austerity was supposed to be all about?
Here’s a video not many people have watched, or are ever likely to watch. It’s a 40 min speech given by barrister Michael Shrimpton at the Britain on the Brink conference in Winchester on 22 September 2007.
What was the Britain on the Brink Conference you might ask? Well, according to the YouTube blurb is was:
A one day Conference by and for people of all parties and of none.
Hardly the kind of catch line that’s likely to attract many YouTube hits you might think. And you know what? … It hasn’t!
What is it about the music used in this clip, Title Music from A Clockwork Orange by Walter (now Wendy) Carlos, that makes so many companies want to claim the copyright?
If ever there was an example of fair use under copyright legislation surely this must be it! The music has so many resonances with the subject matter and is so obviously being used for the purposes of criticism, research, teaching, historical archiving and scholarship.
I’ve just been watching the excellent new BBC/Open University movie, The Challenger, starring William Hurt, telling the story of how Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman uncovered the truth behind the 1986 space shuttle disaster.
As a former physicist with a passion for science stretching back as far as I can remember, I’m getting increasingly concerned about the way the the meaning of the word “evidence” has been subtly changing over the last 40 odd years, to the point where it now means the opposite of what it originally meant.
Language is, of course, constantly evolving. There are many words which now mean something very different to what they originally meant. For most of human history that’s been a natural, organic process. But ever since Edward Bernays combined the science of crowd psychology with the psychoanalysis of his uncle, Sigmund Freud nearly a hundred years ago now to create the ‘science’ of Propaganda’, the practical applications of Public Relations, Messaging and Language Management have been going from strength to strength.
How tragic is that? The man responsible for building so much of Britain’s railway network, driven to a point where the only way he could keep his sanity was to get out of the business entirely and keep his mouth shut.
But I know exactly how he feels. Replace ‘railway’ with ‘television’, ‘journalism’, or ‘science’ and I’ve come to exactly the same conclusion myself.
“The BBC, under the successive regimes of John Birt and Greg Dyke, has largely dispensed with the kind of inquisitive, creative, well-educated people who used to run the show and replaced them with undistinguished looking mangers in suits, not to mention a number of equally dim-looking women.
To expect these people suddenly to change their ways and, instead of the rubbish currently on offer, to produce plays and documentaries is absurd.
For a start, they would all have to dismiss themselves, and there’s no hope at all of that happening.”