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ET London Meet

by ThatBritGuy Fri Jun 30th, 2006 at 12:11:16 PM EST

Since this is now needs a thread of its own -

Date: How about the 12th or 19th of August?

Location: Somewhere in London, TBD. (I don't think a beerfest is a good idea because it would be expensive, it wouldn't be ideal for people who wants to bring kids, spouses, and others. And it's not really neutral enough to attract lurkers - unless they happen to really like beer.)

Other options:
London Picnic - there are plenty of parks to choose from, and space for sprawling and mingling wouldn't be an issue. Also kid friendly, with room for them to run around.

Restaurant or bar - harder to organise, more comfortable for extended conversations, more likely to have WiFi for live blogging. (How did they manage without that in Toulouse?)

My best suggestion would be a park, with Plan B indoors somewhere if it's raining. Or possibly for an improvised extended after-meet if a hard core of enthusiasts develops.

Thoughts?

Comments >> (23 comments)

We Media

by ThatBritGuy Tue May 2nd, 2006 at 09:55:34 PM EST

Or do we?

Almost but not quite lost in the current scrum over Iraq, Iran, Peak Oil and other minor issues, the very imminent We Media Conference and all-round self-promotion opportunity will be taking place in London on the 3rd and 4th, hosted and partly sponsored by the BBC.

The guest list reads like a Who's Who of old media given a new media twist, with a glittering galaxy of CEOs, directors, chairentities, and even the odd journalist and DJ. There's Tom Glocer from Reuters, Mark Thompson from the BBC, a Veep from Google, the CEO of Qualcomm - and on and on and on.

Read more... (8 comments, 721 words in story)

Speak of the devil

by ThatBritGuy Fri Apr 7th, 2006 at 03:59:03 PM EST

Having commented that the UK and Europe don't have anything like the same problem with right-wing Christian fundamentalism as the US does because professional preachers don't get access to TV and radio - I'm delighted to see that events have caught up with me already.

The Times today has this interesting little footnote hidden away in one of its 'In brief...' columns.

Door ajar for TV preachers

Televangelists promising salvation in return for cash could become a nightly feature on British television after Ofcom proposed a relaxation of broadcasting rules (Adam Sherwin writes).

Evangelical preachers, who secure millions of dollars from American viewers, would be able to appeal for donations as long as they did not promise that those willing to supply their credit card numbers would receive financial rewards or miracle cures.

Broadcasters and the public are invited to take part in a consultation likely to lead to programmes and channels funded directly by viewers.

Ofcom itself is playing down the religious angle, and billing this simply as consultation on donation-TV. Which makes the issue complicated, because donation-TV itself isn't necessarily a bad thing, and could potentially open up access to groups and individuals who wouldn't otherwise get air time. But as the proposal says:

Current rules governing religious broadcasters will apply to appeals made by them. Of most relevance are rules which state that:

  1. Broadcasters must exercise the proper degree of responsibility with respect to the content of religious programmes

  2. Religious programmes must not improperly exploit any susceptibilities of the audience.

...which seems vague to the point of irrelevance. From an agnostic point of view one could argue that all religious broadcasting exploits the susceptibilities of the audience. But that aside - what does 'proper responsibility' really mean?

With a nod and a wink from Konspiracy Korner, it's tempting to wonder whether his another front on the Blair war against secularity. Now that Faith Schools will be given a chance to 'compete' for resources while also promoting their religious views, it seems odd that there's now a proposal to deregulate TV along similar lines.

Of course the real issue isn't religious at all. This is about politics. Right-wing fundies don't just con the gullible out of their savings, they also use their public access rights to push their political agenda. That's what has made the movement in the US so very, very destructive, and why allowing it access in the UK is a very unwelcome development.

But there is no hint of a prohibition on using religious broadcasting for political ends in in the Oftel recommendation. Perhaps there should be.

Although this issue is currently a literal footnote, it doesn't take much imagination to realise that it could have a huge and poisonous effect on UK politics. In spite of appearances secularity isn't assured here, and there's plenty of latent susceptibility that can be exploited.

I'll be contacting Ofcom to suggest they clarify the rules about using religious platforms for political campaigning and fundraising.

It will be interesting to see what they say.

Comments >> (2 comments)

Postcards from Saturn

by ThatBritGuy Mon Mar 27th, 2006 at 07:37:50 AM EST

Cassini has some new photos taken in orbit around Saturn. They're...

stunning.

For the curious, there are more long distance snapshots here.

Comments >> (12 comments)

Ha Ha America

by ThatBritGuy Mon Mar 20th, 2006 at 08:11:58 AM EST

There's not much to say about this - it speaks for itself:

Ha Ha America

Uncomfortable viewing (broadband required).

Comments >> (5 comments)

It's time to end 'Democracy'

by ThatBritGuy Wed Mar 15th, 2006 at 04:57:56 PM EST

Last month a short flurry of comments slipped by on the dKos bitstream. I wasn't awake enough to bookmark them - if someone wants to remedy this, feel free - but the ideas left an impression. The question being discussed was - does democracy work? Some interesting suggestions were made, that I think are worth looking at more closely.

Read more... (16 comments, 1604 words in story)

I love DeadBrain

by ThatBritGuy Sun Mar 5th, 2006 at 07:31:37 PM EST

I thought I'd follow Welshman's inspirational lead and waste a diary telling everyone that for those who don't know, DeadBrain is the UK's home-grown equivalent of the Onion.

Iraq all God's fault says Blair
4 Mar 2006 by Peter Gee

Anti-war campaigners have criticised Tony Blair after he revealed he had prayed to God when deciding whether or not to send UK troops to Iraq in 2003. The admission follows last year's revelation by George Bush that he too was on a mission from God when he launched the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.

However, in interviews in the British Sunday newspaper 'The News of the World' this weekend, God is expected to deny that he had any involvement with the war and the Devil will claim that he actually owns Tony Blair's soul - after an agreement was made to sell it to him on election night in 1997 in exchange for Margaret Thatcher's brain.

God is also expected to launch lawsuits in the British and American courts claiming that both Tony Blair and George Bush have breached a major ten-point contract with him including at least: bearing false witness, coveting and stealing oil, killing, working on a Sunday, and worshipping the media and celebrities.

Meanwhile, DeadBrain has learned that there are likely to be further revelations next week when it is expected that several senior Labour Party politicians will announce that their decisions have been influenced by other beings. This is expected to include David Blunkett, who is to say that his dog told him to introduce ID cards, and Charles Clarke, who will announce that he was advised by several omnipotent squirrels in his local park over the issue of the 90-day detention for terror suspects.

Meanwhile, both Tony Blair and George Bush were thought to be in shock last night having been advised by the Archbishop of Canterbury, that with Jesus having been born and lived in the Middle East, there was at least a 10% chance that he too was an Arab.

If you have time to klll there's more world class snark here.

Comments >> (4 comments)

Expression 1981-1984

by ThatBritGuy Sun Feb 26th, 2006 at 06:21:14 PM EST

This seemed like a good topic for a follow-up. This is my take on it - apologies if it rambles.

I was at the University of York in the North of England from 1981 to 1984. It was just on the cusp of the Thatcherite revolution, and we could see clearly which way the wind was blowing (as could cartoonist Raymond Briggs who made a memorable impact at the time.) I'd only just gotten used to the idea that holocaust was a possibility, and it certainly - and literally - haunted some of my dreams at the time.

Read more... (5 comments, 816 words in story)

The Little Quantum that Could

by ThatBritGuy Thu Feb 23rd, 2006 at 08:48:59 PM EST

With all the gloom, it can be fun to get away from politics for a while and look at what's happening elsewhere. Especially when what's happening elsewhere is very strange indeed.

Some background, for those who snoozed through their science classes: reality is fundamentally weird. In science this weirdness comes in two flavours. There's relativity, which makes no sense at all at big scales and deals with the bending of light and the way in which time appears to slow down at very high speed.

And there's quantum theory - strictly quantum field theory - which makes no sense at all at very small scales.

When I say 'Makes no sense at all' what I mean is that these theories describe reality correctly. It's just not a reality that's familiar or everyday. Anyone - or at least anyone with an imagination - who meets the ideas for the first time and really thinks about them has to spend a few months in philosophical intensive care chewing their shirt collar while they get over the shock. (More below...)

Read more... (7 comments, 1129 words in story)
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