Five items

1. Supporting Dave Walker:

Unity – J Mark Brewer revisited (updated): It seems that while Brewer’s up for bullying Christian cartoonists and members of the clergy, when it comes to taking on a big bad atheist blogger with a penchant for digging into the detail, like yours truly, he seems to be altogether lacking in intestinal fortitude.

Well, there’s a shock.

If you’d like to learn more and maybe blog something yourself, start here.

2. ‘Sun Watch’ Project:

Catching up with more of our editors today and tomorrow. In the meantime, here are two Sun-related items for you:

Mark Pack – A case of media bias? The Sun, MySpace and Facebook: So, that would be 14 positive stories about MySpace compared to 1 negative. A bit different from the 2 positive against 13 negative stories about Facebook…

Septicisle – Weekend links: The Scum, despite the complete lack of evidence is continuing to keep up the pretence that Barry George is guilty of the Jill Dando murder…

3. New Google gadgetry:

Google has started offering their site-specific search feature under the main search result for some newspapers. Nifty.

4. Long waits:

Still no word regarding my membership application for the Sunlight Centre for Open Politics. Can’t imagine what’s keeping them.

5. Fascinating and a bit scary:

Britain from Above looks awesome. Guess where I’ll be Sunday 10 August at 9pm. (No, don’t check the spy satellite… I said guess where I’ll be Sunday 10 August at 9pm.)

6. Optical illusions:

Best car park signage ever. (via)








Posted in Inneresting, Rupert 'The Evil One' Murdoch, The Political Weblog Movement, Tories! Tories! Tories!, UK Libel Law, Updates | Comments Off

$8.34

Via Matt:

Sean Tevis – Running for Office: It’s Like A Flamewar with a Forum Troll, but with an Eventual Winner

A great story, well told. I wish I could give him money.








Posted in Teh Interwebs | Comments Off

The ‘punch’ and the Hyde Park water fight

Daily Mail – Pictured: The moment a man punched a girl off her feet during a Facebook water fight: This is the moment a girl was punched off her feet during a water fight in a park in which nine people were arrested.

No it’s not. This is the moment a girl had her hair pulled by the one guy in this series of pictures who isn’t carrying a container of liquid or a water pistol.

Seriously, look at the picture. Her head is most likely going backwards because he’s wrestling with her, not because he’s punching her. She certainly isn’t shown being “lifted completely off her feet” by a punch.

Also take a look at the awkward grip she has on that heavy, un-lidded bottle full of liquid… which she managed to keep a firm hold of most of the way down (if not all the way down) to the ground. I’d like to see anyone keep a grip like that during a proper clocking, I don’t care how fond they are of their bottle of red pop.

Take a look at a taller version of this picture, and the most likely scenario that presents itself is this idiot pulling her hair/head down as he swings his left leg under her feet. Take a look at the wide shot and you may notice some remarkably calm faces watching what is supposed to be the middle of an almighty swing at their friend. (Oh, and some picnickers who appear to be unaware that a ‘riot’ is in progress.)

I am not seeing a lot to suggest that this sensitive flower landed the woman with a Popeye-style punch that knocked her clear off her feet and onto her arse, causing her to see little cartoon birdies flying around her head.

But I suppose the truth doesn’t matter if you have a tabloid to shift.

Other possible embellishments include accounts of spooked horses and griglets with bones that may or may not be broken, definitions of the event as an all-out riot, and what I suspect to be the biggest whopper of all…

The Sun – Facebook party turns violent: This shocking snap of a girl getting punched in the face shows the moment a Facebook water fight party descended into chaos. The Hyde Park event got out of hand as youths ran amok, threatening the public and flashing knives, causing the cops to steam in and make nine arrests.

And yet, strangely, no-one was arrested for a knife-related crime and, so far, the police have not reported finding weapons (other than water pistols) at the scene.

I think the BBC strays closer to the truth of the matter here..

BBC – Nine held after park water fight: Reports then came into police that some people involved had been seen with knives.

Tellingly, the Daily Mail manages to work Princess Di into the second paragraph and The Sun, a News International newspaper, leans towards its usual position of laying as much blame as possible at the feet of Facebook; the main commercial rival to Murdoch-owned MySpace.

Most of this story appears to be biased and alarmist claptrap based (very) loosely on the official police version of events and the accounts of two unnamed witnesses.

If you know anyone who was actually present at this event, please do get in touch.

Maybe now that the weather has cooled some, the truth might be encouraged to put its damn pants on.








Posted in Old Media | 2 Comments

Our second editor on deck

For regulars: Septicisle’s first post for The Sun: Tabloid Lies.

For our growing line-up of contributors: Septicisle’s intro post. Please read it, and start thinking about your own. I’ll be catching up with more of you tomorrow and on Monday.

Cheers all.








Posted in Rupert 'The Evil One' Murdoch | Comments Off

Duncan Sandes and the diddled Western Morning News poll

Independent – Pandora: Tory press office in a spin over poll fix: To coincide with Cameron’s holiday in Padstow, the Western Morning News ran an online poll this week to find out whether locals thought Cameron would make a good Prime Minister. With the poll going heavily against him, a zealous staffer decided to try and shore up some support… To spare his blushes, I shan’t reveal the press officer’s name, but his colleagues aren’t best pleased with him. “It was an over-enthusiastic response from a member of staff,” says a party spokesperson when I call. “It is not something that the party would condone at all.”

The Pandora peeps are going needlessly easy on this nitwit; he was outed by another newspaper two days ago:

The Times – Tories rig local newspaper poll?

—–Original Message—–
From: Sandes, Duncan [mailto:Duncan.Sandes@Conservatives.com]
Sent: 29 July 2008 13:59
To: [76 Tory constituency and councillor e-mail addresses across the South West];

Subject: WMN poll – please vote

dear all,
the Western Morning News is running an online poll to coincide with
David Cameroin’s visit to Cornwall, asking if he would make a good
leader.
the bad news is that, as it stands, 76 per cent have said “no”.
the good news is only 230-odd people have voted.
so, if you can spare 2 minutes can you please go on and register your
vote for “yes” – it shouldnt take too long to change the percentage
round.
if you follow this link:

http://www.thisiswesternmorningnews.co.uk/news

and look for the large blue box to the centre right of the screen.
can you also please pass this on to all helpers, campaigner,s members
you can think of so we can push the percentage the right way.

many thanks,

Duncan

Duncan Sandes

Conservative regional press officer – South West

1. Pay particular attention to his desire to ‘correct’ the poll so that it goes the ‘right’ way. He’s not doing anything wrong; he’s merely ‘righting’ a wrong!

2. Take a look at the comments under that story (and perhaps over at Bob Piper’s) and look for someone called ‘Simon’ (or ‘Richard’ or ‘Jim’ or ‘Laura’ or ‘Betty’ or ‘Archie’ or ‘ Veronica’ or…) who thinks it’s very important that he/she tell as many people as possible (as often as possible) how dull this story is and that everybopdy else is at it, too.

3. Note also under comments that only Justin (here, over at Bob’s) provides an example of someone other than the Tories doing anything like this. I’ve noticed many Tory bloggers and comment contributors making similar noises and playing this same game; they claim that the opposition is up to no good or guilty of equal/greater sins than the one they’ve just been caught at, but they never seem to come up with any evidence. Here, once more, I’ll happily show them how it’s done:

Other examples of Tory diddles and fixes include the sad tale of Grant Shapps, who, as Vice Chairman of the Conservative Party “with responsibility for campaigning”, unsuccessfully posed as a disheartened Liberal Democrat during the Ealing Southall by-election. Iain Dale, the only blogger who appeared to believe Grant Shapps’ story (that ‘someone’ accessed his YouTube account after guessing his password; ‘1234’), is himself no stranger to poll-rigging, and was recently caught red-handed inflating/misrepresenting his traffic figures (to this day he refuses to admit that he got caught cheating despite clear evidence to the contrary). It’s also definitely worth mentioning this similar example in Guildford; where some of the massive diddling of an online poll about the local council’s actions was traced back to a Tory member of the local council*. That senior councillor’s position was that he merely (and quite reasonably, in his view) “registered two votes to what I thought was a flawed poll”.

Now pop back up to #1 quickly, before we move on…

[*Psst! The since-censored list of recipients of Sandes’ email includes many Tory councillors.]

4. That local newspaper has reported this matter, but the report (an afterthought chucked in at the bottom of an unrelated article) is missing one vital detail:

Western Morning News – EXCLUSIVE: Cameron pledge on water bills: The Tories were last night accused of trying to influence an opinion poll on the WMN website. For two weeks, the online vote showed just a quarter of people who had taken part thought a Cameron government would be good for the Westcountry. But yesterday, Duncan Sandes, the Tories’ South West press officer, sent an e-mail to activists telling them to vote to “push the percentage the right way”. Last night, the result had turned around with just a quarter of voters saying a Cameron government would be bad for the region. Lib-Dem MP Nick Harvey said: “The change in ratings is not a reflection of a sudden change in the South West’s political colours but another example of political spin.” A Tory Party spokesman said: “It was a very over-enthusiastic response by a junior member of staff and we would not condone it.” Mr Sandes declined to comment.

The vital detail that’s missing?

Duncan Sandes, South West Regional Press Officer for the Conservatives, used to work as a reporter at the Western Morning News until about a year ago.

I would’ve thought that this warranted a passing mention at least. Sandes is messing about with a poll conducted by his former employer and suddenly he doesn’t have time to speak to his former workmates? There is, at the very least, an element of human drama that’s going to waste here… which I think is a pity.

5. Western Morning News is a daily tabloid newspaper based in Plymouth. It’s published by Westcountry Publications Ltd, which is owned by Northcliffe Media Limited, which is a subsidiary of Daily Mail & General Trust plc. A tabloid ultimately owned by the Daily Mail group that’s currently bragging; “(we) brought David Cameron to the West Country” and running a series of exclusives about David Cameron might seem to the uninformed outsider to be listing ever so slightly to the right, but I’m sure you’ll be glad to know that I have received assurances that the newspaper does not in any way favour the Conservatives:

Seeking a copy of some of Duncan Sandes’ past articles for the Western Morning News, I was initially refused, and so I asked if they’d like to go on record with that refusal.

I was quickly put onto News Editor Steve Grant, who wanted to know who I was and why I wanted to see them.

Keeping in mind that I was talking to the man most likely to have cleared the above article the above incomplete afterthought chucked in at the bottom of an unrelated article, I found his insistence that I share my name and background to be most amusing. I was even more amused when he declared the conversation at an end and hung up on me when I gave him my name (which I had already offered) and suggested that he use a search engine for anything else that he might need (if indeed this kind of thing mattered all of a sudden).

*sigh*

No matter. I called back and somewhere between the two calls we got down to it:

I explained that Duncan Sandes’ willingness to diddle a poll run by his former employer on behalf of the leader of the Conservative Party might make a curious person want to scan his past work for that employer… just case it revealed a teeny hint of pro-Conservative bias. I then asked again if WMN would share some of his past articles with me.

Grant replied; “That won’t be possible,” and then stated, “And it never happened. Not once did I see a single bit of bias from (Sandes). If I did then he wouldn’t have been working for me.”

Well, OK, then.

Given that things were that straightforward and confidence was high, and these articles were available via the British Newspaper Library etc. anyway, I asked one final time if I might see some of Duncan Sandes’ articles written for the Western Morning News.

Grant’s final response was firm and simple; “No!”

Ho-hum.








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 2 Comments

Man plugs news of leaks… film at eleven

Justin is now blogging about Nuclear Power for Greenpeace.

You might want to take a wee step back and seek some cover. (Over the horizon and into a lead-lined fridge should do it.)








Posted in Consume! | Comments Off

A question regarding identity and equity

Can anyone think of circumstances where it would be fair for a publisher/contributor to issue any comment likely to effect someone’s reputation without staking their own* reputation on it?

Also, should anyone expect to be taken seriously as a publisher if they allow this kind of behaviour on their site when it suits them?

When considering the latter especially, please keep in mind the increasingly extreme abuse, threats and allegations that eventually get thrown around when comment contributors aren’t expected to answer challenges or back up claims with evidence… if they’re on the publisher’s side.

I’m asking these questions for a number of reasons. Please let me know what you think.

Cheers all.

[*Applies if you normally blog/contribute under your own name or a pseudonym, but choose not to when you want to make a comment that you would rather not be associated with.]








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 5 Comments

Iain Dale’s idea of self regulation

“I’d be interested in your views on this. In my view, self regulation works perfectly well. I someone makes a complaint to me about an abusive comment – or something I have writen which they believe is incorrect or offensive – I look it up and then decide whether to remove it, amend it or leave it as it is. If people don’t agree with my decision they don’t come back to my blog. It’s a simple, free market, and it works.” – Iain Dale

There you have it… straight from the horse’s arse.

If Iain Dale publishes something on his ‘blog’ that you don’t like (up to and including anonymous comments from people who wish to undermine your reputation without risking their own) and you complain about it, one of two things will happen:

1. Iain will kindly* and graciously** remove or alter the content that you believe “is incorrect or offensive”

2. Iain will refuse to change it, and you will be free to walk away and leave him to it, thereby fixing the problem.

Wait… what?

How does that fix the problem for anyone but Iain?

(*Isn’t that big of him?)
(**Yeah, right.)








Posted in The Political Weblog Movement | 4 Comments

Red hot knitwear catalogue action

Another pleasant surprise for your eyes, courtesy of one of London’s leading tart carders.

I didn’t have a camera on me when I spotted this one, and so had to pocket it for later reference. My apologies if the fold mars the otherwise happy finish:








Posted in Consume! | 6 Comments

David Cameron is a moron

Evening Standard – Moment David Cameron became a victim of crime: He had chained up his bike in Portobello Road, less than a mile from his home, as he went into a supermarket to buy salad for dinner. However, when he returned five minutes later, the bike was gone. Mr Cameron had chained it to a 2ft bollard, allowing thieves to lift both the bicycle and the lock clear.

Daily Mail – Cameron left stranded as his bike is STOLEN as he shopped for salad: Onlooker Gary Yankee said the theft had perplexed 41-year-old Cameron, who was heard repeatedly saying: “But I locked it.” Mr Yankee said: “He must have been looking around for about five minutes as if he couldn’t believe it had gone.”

Well, it sounds like he’s a moron, but let’s double-check, just to be sure…

Here’s a photo showing the pavement outside the Tesco in Portobello Road. In the foreground you can see the perfectly serviceable rail that runs alllllll the way along the front of the store (i.e. the one that is used by locals to secure, bikes, dogs, etc.), while in the background you can see the type of bollard that David Cameron chose as the anchor for his bike.

[Psst! You can also see to the far left a bike that may or may not be chained to one of these bollards, which only proves that David Cameron may or may not be the only moron in the world.]

You can see a clearer photo of this type of bollard here.

What should be obvious from the height is that even an oompa-loompa with poor upper body strength could lift a bike ‘up and over’ if it were chained to one of these bollards.

What should be obvious from the design is that the only thing that makes one of these bollards marginally more secure than your average bollard is a wee lip at the top… which is a lot like saying “this cell without a door is more secure because it has steps”.

So, yes, David Cameron is a moron.

The thieves that nicked his bike are thoughtless parasites (or, possibly, shy perverts who only wanted some privacy while they sniffed his seat) but David Cameron is a moron.

Links:

London Cycling Campaign – Where not to lock your bike: Short posts, or even tall posts that a lock can fit over the top of – your bike will be lifted over the top.

Rolling Resistance – The Bollards of David Cameron: I don’t mean to beat the guy while he’s down, but putting a chain around such as a bollard isn’t really going to offer much protection from theft, just as that helmet hanging from his handlebars will do little to prevent injury.








Posted in Tories! Tories! Tories! | 5 Comments