Archive for July 1st, 2007

‘Moderate’ Top Gear Viewers

No doubt someone else has called for this, but isn’t it about time that moderate 4×4 drivers stepped forward and denounced the terrorist outrages conducted in their cars? Maybe we could get an article in the Observer next Sunday from a former Hyundai Santa Fe extremist -now bicycle bound and a model of rationality- dishing the dirt on his former colleagues in the SUV movement?

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Be Not Afraid, Be Very Not Afraid

A good thing about being on holiday is the forced disconnection from the news stories compulsively consumed during the rest of the year. These were replaced this year from Spanish news stories, about which more later, maybe.  I managed not to look at any news sources since my return on Friday afternoon until yesterday evening, at which point I turned on the BBC Ten O’Clock News in the middle of a report about these rather unimpressive attacks.

The first encounter with a BBC reporter’s voice after not hearing one for a couple of weeks is filled with a sense of strangeness. The accent, the language and the cadences all appear ersatz, unnatural. The effect will probably wear off after a few days, but the initial shock gives a brief reacquaintance with the artificiality of TV news.

The reporter was talking about one of the car bombs (I didn’t hang around long enough to discern which one). He reported, with dramatic emphasis worthy of Boris Karloff: “the experts call it a VBIED – a vehicle borne improvised explosive device”.

It’s a useful device – the elaborate acronym – since it short-circuits the normal route of enquiry that a curious and rational viewer might take. Questions such as how big was it? or was it likely to go off? are derailed by a fancy piece of deference to the experts. A morsel of pseudo-technical information should keep you going for the time being.

I hit mute on the telly, and stuck on Ceefax, old faithful, where the news format hasn’t changed for a quarter of a century. Half of the articles on the main news page were dedicated to this heinous series of attacks, and how the new government, marshalled by capable leader Gordon Brown, was mobilising the public to triumph against this massive outrage.

It is all a bit fishy. Before I get too conspiratorial, however, one thing to bear in mind is that it is probably very cheap to report on terrorist threats, since briefings from security sources, supplementary analyses from ‘security experts’ and speeches of rallying sentiment from politicians are very easy to come across.

Unbearable Whiteness of Being..

..on the beach in Spain. Walking along the shore the other day, a pair of grannies well into their seventies were on their way in for a dip, when both stopped in their tracks, looked at us, and one said:

¡Estáis muy blancos eh! ¡Tenéis que llevar mucho cuidado porque os vais a quemar! ¡Espero que llevéis algún tipo de protección!

That is,

You’re very white! You need to be very careful because you’re going to get burnt! I hope you’ve both got sun cream on!

We didn’t hang around long enough to see if she was also telling fat people to get some exercise.


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