The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Knowledge is liberation


I cannot respect his legitimate point of view because his point of view is not legitimate. It's a lie and an insult to the rest of us. It will take the greatest minds of this century to figure out how to bridge that rational divide.

12 September 2021
The Weeknotes

This week...

11 August 2021
Olympic report

How was the BBC's Crass Spectacle coverage on the radio? Very variable.

We're accustomed to the effortless move from one event to another, the hallmark of radio sport is to move swiftly. The commentators were the right blend of enthusiastic and knowledgeable. The coverage shared the tonal fault of the television coverage, it's over-emphasised the nationalist aspect of the spectacle. This blog's interested in sporting achievement and completely not about jingoism.

While the events coverage was good, the supporting coverage was predictable. Conversations with sportsfolk, and the families of sportsfolk, rarely rose above the banal. The chats were filler between events, and never aspired to be anything more.

Previews and reviews of the events concentrated on the day's top stories, often mediated through the nationalist teemiegeebee lens. We loved Steve Bunce's daily piece about unsung olympic heroes, but this was a rare glimpse beyond the quotidian.

And the radio coverage seemed deliberately to ignore some big stories. Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, the athlete who refused to back the autocratic regime in Minsk, was completely ghosted by the main coverage, and featured only occasionally in the general news bulletins.

They gave over a lot of time to bigots who didn't think Laurel Hubbard should compete in the weightlifting, and there was no effort to balance the coverage with people who do think Laurel Hubbard should compete. Mentions of Quinn, the non-binary competitor in the soccer, were zero: they don't fit into the BBC's corporate transphobia.

Nor did the Beeb mention the nonsense surrounding Caster Semanya, the 800m champion who was excluded for the crime of being a Black woman and a bit good. Would the BBC ask HRH Sir Sebastian Coe to defend the decisions of his World Athletics fiefdom? Would they heck! Would the BBC explain why Semenya wasn't allowed to defend her title? Would they heck! Would the BBC note that Semanya wasn't present? Couldn't even be bothered to do that.

Coverage of the events was as good as we'd expect. Coverage of everything else around the events was poor, and should have been done better.

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2 Augustus 2021
UEFA Group Phase Debutants!

With UEFA's men's club competitions expanding in the autumn, we wondered: which associations have never sent a club into the group phase. Some of the small ones have - Albania, Latvia, Macedonia - and some have not.

The new structure allows 35 national league champions to play football in the groups, somewhat more than in previous years. There's a new competition, the UEFA Intertoto League.

We're writing after the first two rounds have been played, and the draws for the next two rounds have been made. We reckon that one, maybe two, associations will make their group phase debut, but we couldn't tell you which.

(More: Any danger of The New Saints getting through? Someone from Kosov@?? The Red Imps???)

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9 April 2021
Opdracht: Vierde Brucke

(A running post noting media changes following the death of Philip Battenburg of Edinburgh)

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18 February 2021

The Facebook declared war with the regime in Canberra, and chose to jeopardise public safety. The disupute is about a proposal to make The Facebook pay for posts originally made on legacy media sites. Citizens were targetted by the attack, with emergency information - about cyclones, bush fires, and the pandemic - all disconnected. The Facebook claimed to use "smart targetting", but this was another lie, the blocklist was a simple URL regex - and included The Facebook's own press office.

The Canberra regime's proposed plan would force arbitration to determine the value of a link to certain news sites. The market-clearing price of such links is small, and likely negative - newspapers get more value from featuring on The Facebook than The Facebook gets for featuring them.

Australian politicians - mostly in the pocket of Rupert Murdoch and The Kerry Packer Estate - have incorrectly diagnosed the problem as a copyright matter, and convinced themselves that money should flow to the old media companies. It's almost as if Murdoch and Packer's Slowly Rotting Cadaver believe they should be paid to breathe, or not breathe in one case. James Cridland points out flaws in the proposed law. Since he wrote that, the G****e advertising brokerage has struck a deal to pay Murdoch some money and get the old fart to bugger off.

Ultimately, we reckon both sides are wrong. The Canberra administration is blatantly in the pockets of Rupert Murdoch, and push through legislation to benefit him and other rent-seekers. The Facebook is also wrong, it's again demonstrated that it is an anti-social company with no concept of public service. May they both lose!

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12 January 2021
Sportsdykes: Stories from On and Off the Field - Susan FOX ROGERS

Thirty essays on the politics, culture, practice, and reality of lesbians on the sports field.

How much has changed in the last few decades? These days, women who love women are at home on the sports field. Super League football is filled with sapphics, tennis players and golfers are out, field hockey players are married to each other. And absolutely nobody bats an eyelid.

Back in the early 1990s, this wasn't true. The list of out lesbian sportspeople began with Martina Navratilova, and ended with the golfer Patty Sheehan. The middle of the anthology is obsessed with these handful of stars, and wondering if they'll inspire other girls to be more honest about their sexuality. (SPOILER: Yes.)

The book starts with a section called "Tomboys", about girls who play sport on an equal footing with all their peers, regardless of sex or gender divisions. Then it's "Empowerment", how women gain confidence and improve their lives through sport. "Politics" and "Our Heroines, or Martina" cover the state of the world as it is. "Fictions" describe the world as it could be. The book ends with "Sex and Other Games", which does what we'd expect.

Written in the early 1990s - and reprinting pieces from the 80s and before - it's a book of its time. There is a nascent sense of stepping up to the plate: lesbians knew that AIDS was killing many gay male leaders, the ethnography of the era was going to be written from a more female perspective than before. Don't expect much about trans people, it wasn't a question on anyone's radar in 1993.

Sportsdykes is a moment in time, enjoyable nostalgia and a reminder of how far we've come in the decades since.

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2 December 2020
Beyond Words - John HUMPHRYS

Back in the mid-aughts, there was a fad for books like this. Nominally about language and communication, but reflecting more on society as a whole. Lynne Truss's "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves" is the defining text in this genre, Humphrys cannot bear to be beaten by a mere woman, and produced two volumes of his own: this is a follow-up to "Lost for Words".

Having imitated Truss in his earlier effort, Humphrys has no more abuses of grammar to discuss. He uses the way language changes ("your M&S", "lifestyle", "exceed expectations") as a peg to hold his rants against the way society change.

By the middle of the book, it's clear that Humphrys is a Grumpy Old Git, the sort of old fart who is comfortable in his own life and doesn't want anything in it to change. It's unthreatening food for the comfortable conservative, and that's Humphrys's entire schtick.

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11 November 2020
Should have stuck to the stationary catalogue

Revenge of a Princess (ITV, 9 and 10 Nov), the latest attempt to revisit the Diana-Bashir interview on its 25th anniversary. Follows the same format as Channel 4's doc a few weeks back: first half is memories of the wedding, and how they arranged the interview; then inside commentary from people who were there, and finally giving voice to Matt Wiessler's ongoing grouse about his treatment.

Again, the programme failed to substantiate its claims. We saw in the documents flashed on screen that another programme had been investigated as part of the BBC's internal investigation. Neither Channel 4 nor ITV has named this programme, so what gives?

Turns out the link is Penfolds.

Specifically, "Penfolds", a fictional company cited as giving money in the fake documents drawn up for Martin Bashir to present to Spencer. Penfolds was also in fake documents drawn up for Martin Bashir to present to Terry Venables, during an investigation into Venables' business dealings. It was generally accepted in 1996 that the documents about Venables were fakes, and potentially fraudulent

ITV didn't dig into this aspect of the story. Which is unfortunate, because we can believe that Bashir was spoken to, and Wiessler let go, primarily because of the Venables fakes, and not because of the ones shown to Spencer.

Back in 1996, the original story was a six-day wonder. We suspect its 2020 reincarnation will be just as unimportant.

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2 September 2020
Take your time away

In another place, we're asked, "What is the greatest misuse of time travel you have ever witnessed?"

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. Our protagonists change history by doing A, then doing B. This does not produce the outcome they desire.

Our protagonists wish to undo their meddling, so reverse their change at A, then their change at B.

As any fool knows, time travel doesn't work like that: after reversing at A, they must go to B', which will be different from B.

Cursed Child is an adequate play (but nothing earth-shattering, and not worth the overinflated price of admission). The plot has even more holes than my sock drawer, and we preferred it in the original gothic novel, "My immortal" by Tara Gilesbie.

More: this blog's review from 2016.

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Why It's Still Kicking Off Everywhere - Paul MASON

Written in 2011 and 2012, Mason tries to find a linking thread between the Arab Spring and the western Occupy movement, via the collapse of democracy in Athens. Social media is his linking thread, a suggestion that both events were facilitated by the Blackberry and Twitter.

At the distance of almost a decade, it's clear that Mason's hope - that there would be a popular uprising against his reviled neoliberalism - hasn't been fulfilled. Some of the on-the-spot reporting has become outdated, almost comically.

We do have some positive takeaways: the more theoretical chapters on the social and economic causes, and on the history of 1848, are perhaps more relevant with hindsight. An application of these principles, when the people of Greece completely ignored the government, bears comparison with the pandemic of 2020.

Ultimately, though, Mason believes that social media and the network effect will only be used by forces of progress, and will only be used to advance social causes. That turned out well, and Mason doesn't give any useful thoughts on how to reintegrate the atomised bits that used to be a society.

Mason's book is relevant, at times engrossing, but it's no signpost to the future. Rather, treat this as a milestone, a record of where society was in 2011-12.

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