I’m a Doctor Who fan, and recently Matt Smith (the 11th Doctor) announced that he will be departing the show during this year’s Christmas Special episode. While Smith isn’t my favorite Doctor, he’s in my top five and I’ll be a little sad to see him go. Having a very young actor playing a 900 year old Time Lord was fun to watch, and Smith brought something new to a series that sometimes has a hard time finding new things to do. South Park could have easily tweaked the “Simpsons Did It” episode into “Doctor Who Did It” instead, for example.
Editor’s Note: Earlier this year, S&R ran a five-part series on Lord John Reith, the iconic architect of modern broadcasting in the UK. The series, authored by the University of Colorado’s Dr. Michael Tracey, one of the world’s most distinguished media critics and analysts, explored the complex and controversial Reith, who managed to be at once a visionary, progressive champion of the common Englander and a difficult, even despicable individual in his personal life.
While these essays nominally address a history that’s decades old, the issues raised are startlingly contemporary, as here in the US the same kinds of battles are being waged across the same class lines today. Continue reading →
Wow, 100 issues of Nota Bene! Props to Russ for helping me for a while with this nifty little S&R feature. Never mind all that now, let’s get on with this issue. “What splendid buildings our architects would be able to execute if only they could finally be less obedient to gravity!” Who said it? Continue reading →
As a follow-on to Dr. Denny’s post on Rupert Murdoch way back on 29 August, there have been further developments worth noting in this space. There has been a flurry of headlines the past few weeks over recent comments by Murdoch, who now is making noises about removing News Corp news stories from Google. He’s not alone, apparently—Belo is considering removing some of its stories as well, as is the owner of the Denver Post. These are all entities that have been seeing their print output hit hard by the drop in advertising over the past year or two, coupled with an outright (and possibly accelerating) decline in newspaper sales. And Murdoch’s comments (and those of other publishers) represent some frustration over the fact that Google News aggregates headlines from all news sources without any fee to the source provider. (Yahoo does something similar, I think, but I’m not sure; but no one seems to care about poor Yahoo these days). See this Bloomberg story or this New York Times story for more details. Murdoch’s plan is to block Google from access to News Corp content, and rather make it available only on Bing, Microsoft’s search engine. This is an interesting strategy—how likely is it to succeed? Continue reading →
Remember the last year, when Big 3 executives went pleading for salvation in Washington? Of course you do, and you probably remember the Southern politicians telling them to shove it because the transplant factories of the South were the beacon of union-free automotive manufacturing. The foreign companies that own those factories were models of efficient production that could carry the weight, so send the domestics to the dustbin of Soviet Socialist history. On the other side of the political divide, liberals sang the praises of their efficient, reliable Toyotas. They cursed the domestics and beyond the bleeding of their hearts for those blue collar workers in the Rust Belt, cared little for the collapse of the domestic auto industry. Many of them cheered because the domestics make “inferior” products in any case.
Now Akio Toyoda is ready to commit seppuku because Toyota is on the brink of “capitulation to irrelevance or death”. That would explain why it still wants the millions promised to it by the state of California early this year for training workers, even after it pulled out of the NUMMI plant that will put close to 5,000 workers on unemployment.
Back in August, the UK government administration (collectively known as Whitehall) was criticized by Members of Parliament for failing to meet their own carbon emission targets. On September 15, UK Cabinet Office minister Angela Smith claimed in a BBC article that Whitehall had “saved enough carbon dioxide to fill almost 2,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools.”
2,500 Olympic-sized swimming pools sounds like a lot. Swimming pools are big, after all, and 2,500 of them would hold lots of water. But when I dug a little further, I found that Whitehall’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions were actually reduced by only 12,000 tonnes, a nearly negligible amount.
This past weekend saw the online release of the first non-spoof, fan-created film set in the Lord of the Rings universe. That by itself is fairly unremarkable, but a number of things set The Hunt for Gollum apart from your standard fan created fare. It’s long (about 40 minutes), it has better than average acting and writing (think direct-to-DVD caliber), it features incredibly high production values despite a meager £3,000 budget, and it is based on canon. That last bit especially, had some wondering if Gollum would run afoul of rights holders at Tolkien Enterprises.
Where most fan art uses original characters and story lines, The Hunt for Gollum‘s writer and director Chris Bouchard based the script on appendices to Tolkien’s original work. That the film uses Tolkien’s actual story could have spelled trouble for the entire production. There are two understood rules in the world of fan art: don’t use official material (like logos, music, and to a lesser extent known characters), and don’t try to make money off your creations. Continue reading →
Truth is truly stranger than fiction. Graham Greene’s 1958 spy novel Our Man in Havana told a tragicomic tale of false intelligence crafted to suit the needs of a political agenda. John le Carre’s 1996 The Tailor of Panama repeated the theme.
Ahmed Chalabi was Dick Cheney’s real life man of the hour when it came time to shake and bake the intelligence on Iraq, and the Dark Lord and his neocon chamberlains are still trying to fabricate a casus belli for Iran. The Persian Ploy may be running up against a term limit, but there’s all the time in the world left to slip on the Bananastan peel. Heck, western superpowers have been flinging themselves down that slope for centuries.
At this point in the American experiment, U.S. intelligence is to intelligence what Kenny G is to jazz. After nearly a decade of getting gang-buggered over the kitchen table by the minions of the Office of the Vice President, our spy agencies have no more credibility than our sacked and pillaged mainstream press. In fact Continue reading →
Let me return to a period which is widely regarded within the advanced industrial societies as a high water mark of public service broadcasting, the BBC in the early 1960s. A key figure from those years was Sir Arthur fforde (that is the correct, if old-fashioned spelling of his name), in my view quite possibly the greatest of the chairmen of the BBC. In 1963 he published a little booklet called What is Broadcasting About, which was printed privately in an edition of 400. In this at first curious piece he tries to lay out a theological context for what was happening within the BBC, which was then at the height of its creative and social impact on British society, and causing all kinds of heartburn among what used to be called the Establishment. Continue reading →
It isn’t just that there is an appetite for scandal, sex, sleaze, death narratives, it is also that feeding such appetites can be very profitable. The fact is that an essential problem with today’s media, one that has been gestating for many years, even decades, lies with the families and trust-funders that own media chains, and with the media moguls that, like great beasts, roam the landscape of a new grim cultural ecology, gobbling up this and that tasty morsel, a television station here, a newspaper there, forever seeking to sate their own insatiable appetite. Continue reading →
There had earlier been another development that caught the attention of the local US intelligence services based in the embassy. In July Daxis had told me that he had got a job teaching in an international school and that while there for the interview he had “made some lovely new friends ~ little girls age five…” In a mail on July 13 he mentioned one in particular, adding “I lust for a little five year old at school…” He wrote to me of how he had massaged her bare foot and how she said to him, laughing, “…you’re a monster” except that because of her accent it came out as “monsta.”
The only rational conclusion was to assume the worst and that he had his next target. Continue reading →
Several incidents in particular focused my attention not on the murder but on how we seemed to be dealing with it as a culture. In March 1997 the CU branch of the Society of Professional Journalists organized a forum on cheque book journalism, particularly as it related to the Ramsey case. The panel consisted of two reporters from the National Enquirer, a reporter for the cable tabloid programme Hard Copy and Chuck Green of the Denver Post. Green, a strangely bitter, cynical man was known to be hyper-critical of the investigation, and of the role of the DA’s office in pursuing the case and in what Green took to be the protection of the Ramseys.
The results of the latest S&R poll are in. Readers were asked “Which major press entity do you regard as the most credible source of news?”
1. Other/None of the above (70)
2. BBC (64)
3. PBS (39)
4. CNN (15)
5. New York Times (11)
6. Washington Post (6)
Wall Street Journal (6)
9. FOX News (4)
10. ABC (2)
USA Today/Gannett (2)
12. CBS (1)
Our new poll, which asks you about important issues that have not been adequately addressed, is now posted in the column to the right.