David Mitchell on the Beeb

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Third and final (promise) media-related Observer article today is David Mitchell’s column about the Ofcom fine levied against the BBC for the Ross/Brand phone call thingy.

A government minister got a round of applause for suggesting that Ross/Brand should pay the fine rather than the BBC, who – after all – had absolutely no say in whether the pre-recorded segment was broadcast… Oh, hang on, they did. Mitchell deconstructs the case quite well, and reserves special ire for politicians who kick the BBC in order to appeal to the mob, who have plenty of reason to be angry and afraid at the moment – very little of it to do with the BBC.

The newspapers that take every opportunity to knock the corporation do so because they’re in the same market and the BBC is the market leader. They can’t dominate that market while the BBC exists in its current form because what they provide is so risibly inferior – the licence fee costs less than a daily tabloid newspaper

Via David Mitchell: I’ll tell you what really offends me – political opportunism |
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Scary Stuff

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The photo above is one of a selection of scary vintage hallowe’en photos, posted by this bloke on Flickr. He’s got an annoying habit of posting his pics to too many groups, but I’ll forgive him this once. This photo reminds me of all the bags-on-head horror movies we’ve seen this year. It dates from 1911.

That link was found by my favourite major-league blogging site, BoingBoing. Also on BoingBoing today, guest blogger Rushkoff signs off with a plug for his forthcoming book, which is his view on how we came to allow corporations to take over the world.

What I conclude is that our society didn’t just end up this way. This landscape was cultivated over time. We are living on a playing field sloped towards corporate interests. Every day, we negotiate the slope to the best of our ability. Still, many of us fail to measure up to the people we’d like to be, and succumb to the tilt of the landscape. We buy from Wal-Mart and supermarket instead of the local druggist and farmer who they put out of business. We save to send our kids to private school instead of investing our time to make the public ones better. We spend our money insulating ourselves from the crime in our neighborhoods instead of our energy reducing the poverty and resentment feeding it. When things are tough, it’s every man for himself.

Also also via BoingBoing, I found this interesting video of the design stages on the way to a New Yorker magazine cover. It’s easy to forget that some of the most iconic magazine covers in history were created with quite primitive software and hardware, and this particular designer is the graphic design equivalent of the author who still uses a manual typewriter (Don Delillo, for example).

A designer I used to know refused to upgrade his hardware and software because it worked, and he wasn’t going to risk missed deadlines by meddling with his system. Bob Staake uses very old hardware indeed – running Mac OS 7 (which dates back to 1994 or so) and Adobe Photoshop 3! This is a little reminder that lacking the latest and greatest software tools should be no barrier to your success. Another BoingBoing link today suggests that paper and pen are better thinking tools than computers, anyway: which is why you should take notes in class!

Finally, here’s an interesting comment piece from the Guardian about values and ideology – about the mythological basis of the quasi-religious faith some people have in free market economics. It’s all in the language — which you should listen out for on the news: faith, hope, belief, confidence — very little of which contains hard factual information. The global panic on the stock markets today outdid the panic that ensued following the 9/11 attacks. As someone pointed out on 5Live this afternoon, the weeks are starting to follow a familiar pattern: stocks fall on Monday; legislation by Thursday; stocks rally on Friday. And so on.