A quick word on Leveson

(if you missed this week’s song, just click here, it’s a real cracker)

Dear all,

I’ve had a very enjoyable week, and I’m looking forward to seeing ma famille in just over a week’s time tremendously. But in the mean time I just wanted to excrete this little brain-fart about Lord Justice Leveson’s press regulation recommendations, partially in response to the shocking revelation that my dearest mother agrees with the PM on this one (OUTRAGE!).
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Let me be plain: with the exception of the woeful failure to address New Media and ownership issues, I fully support the proposals. If anything they don’t go far enough. I also congratulate Ed Miliband for being so courageous as to back them in the face of intense pressure from the press (though I suspect any hope of endorsements outside of The Mirror, The Guardian and possibly The Indy was lost a long time ago!).

The shrill chorus of high-minded opposition to any statutory regulation led by the (clearly principled and in no way commercially interested) newspaper editors is so transparently self-regarding that the only reason I can see  that it is being taken seriously at all is the sheer volume of it floating around. The basic problem in the anti-regulation argument is the idea that ‘the state is here, civil society is there, and never the twain shall meet, except on election day or on those unfortunate occasions when an officer of the law might visit’. And should anyone ever overstep the bounds of what is considered reasonable interference then the inevitable conclusion is North Korea, or Ingsoc.

But the state and civil society already have met. They’ve met, got married, bought a Volvo and had the most gruesome of phone-hack-tastic offspring imaginable. They’re now considering getting an ISA for their old age. Leveson may have been triggered by phone-hacking, but it was not solely about that one aspect of the press’ behaviour. The scope of ‘press standards, practices and ethics’ is rightfully considered by Leveson to be much broader. One only has to watch a couple of episodes of The Thick of It to understand how politicians (and hence the state) are already hopelessly and sinfully entwined.

The scandalous corruption of the Murdochs, the bribery of the police and their subsequent timidity, the press’ patronage of certain Tories and leading Blairites and the influence of various other powerful businessmen and women were, to draw a parallel with phone-hacking itself, not down to ‘a few bad apples’, but institutional. Not only are there limits to what may be published, or broadcast set by the state, but there is also active involvement in the production of media. Thus opposition to regulation on principle is a sophisticated slight of rhetorical hand, and nothing more. We must, as per usual, consider the circumstances.

And in the circumstances I see no reason to oppose Leveson. A regulatory body, independent of both the press and politicians can, especially when underpinned by law, enforce aggressively the rules already on the books, dispense meaningful fines and penalties should they be broken, and provide a low cost route for tabloid victims to seek justice. There is no avenue in the apparatus being discussed for editorial control or interference by ministers, and therefore no possibility in my mind of the kind of Stalinist censorship predicted in the nation’s newsrooms. Regardless, whilst we must remain vigilant for any signs of mission-creep which may open the door to editorial control, there is much to be welcomed in Leveson’s proposals.
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Carry on Wayward Son- Maniacal 4 Trombone Quartet [Saturday Song of the Week #14]

Not my favourite song in the world, but this cover version is just so magnificently put together that I had to share it. Wait… you can make a trombone sound like an electric guitar now?

Post on the Leveson Inquiry going up first thing in the morning, so watch out cats!

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Milestones [+SOTW]

It has been a week of milestones.

Monday was the 3rd of December, thus marking the halfway point for my stay in Key West. I miss you all, but light is at the end of the tunnel!!

Tuesday marked the 19th anniversary of the death of Frank Zappa, who died on the same day in 1993 at the tragically young age of 52. Cruelly, he died of prostate cancer despite having lead a relatively healthy life for a rock musician (his only vice was cigarettes). During his fight with cancer, he worked 14 hours a day on tying together the many loose ends his endlessly creative mind had left him with, to protect and preserve the remarkable legacy his music leaves us. I wish he was still alive.

I would have dedicated this week’s song to Zappa, my musical idol, if it weren’t for the fact that Wednesday saw the death, 1 day short of his 92nd birthday, of Dave Brubeck, popular jazz composer who pioneered the use of unusual time signatures in Jazz. His 2 ‘classic’ compositions, Take Five and Blue Rondo a la Turk have doubtless been played ad nauseam to mark his passing, so I include my favourite of the less known pieces below with some fantastic dancing to accompany.

On Thursday and Friday nothing much happened. K-Midz left hospital and there was an Earthquake in Japan? Will that do to preserve the theme?

Today’s (yes, it is still Saturday here, by a whisker) milestone comes in the form of a club-record 9 games unbeaten in the top flight for Norwich City, following the white knuckle ride of the 3-4 win over Swansea (it was 0-3 to us at half time!).

And tomorrow marks 2 weeks before my family gets here. Somebody’s a bit excited for that one…

 

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The Reichenbach Cliffhanger: how did Sherlock fake his own death?

Those of you who watched Sherlock, the BBC’s fabulous modern-day adaptation of Conan-Doyle’s deer-stalker wearing detective, may recognise the above title. Those of you who didn’t watch it, should do so. Watch all of it, watch it well, and watch it now. It should only take you 9 hours, then you can come back. Done it? Good. At the end of the final episode of series 2, ‘The Reichenback Fall’, Sherlock appears to cheat death as he jumps from the top of St. Bartholomew’s Hospital only to be seen alive and well in the final shot before the credits (at his own funeral, as it happens).

*SPOILER ALERT* OR MAYBE JUST SPOILER-ISH, SINCE NOTHING’S CONFIRMED

So how did he fake his own death so well? The extent to which my theories* are blindingly obvious is not clear to me, but on the off chance that some of my ponderings come as revelations to you lot, here goes. The timeline of events is as follows. Sherlock asks Molly (the girl in the Bart’s mortuary who Sherlock’s horrible to, remember?) to help him, and relies on her being in love with him to ensure that she a)is loyal and b) takes every effort to fulfil his plan and save his life. The first thing that she engineers is the call from the ‘paramedics’ to Watson that Mrs Hudson has been shot (which later turns out to be untrue). This is in order to remove Watson from Bart’s so that Sherlock can face Moriarty, and also so that Watson can participate (unknowingly) in another part of the plan.

Now, Sherlock meets Moriarty on the roof in order to convince him to shoot himself*. He then waits for Watson to return and calls him the second he gets out of the Taxi to deliver his ‘suicide note’. Before he tells Watson he is a fraud, he makes sure he remains standing exactly where the Taxi dropped him off. This is extremely important, because although the way the scene is shot by the director makes it seem as if John has a direct and unobstructed line of sight to Sherlock, this is not the case. There is a smallish red brick building between Watson and Bart’s, obscuring about the final quarter of Sherlock’s fall from the roof.
Red brick

The Taxi driver, who just so happens to be in Baker Street when Watson emerges from 221b is clearly in on the plan too. Not only does he stop at exactly the right place opposite Bart’s, he also appears to be arguing with somebody who wants a ride outside 221b, suggesting that he is refusing to take any fare other than Watson.
Taxi

The ‘suicide note’ in which Sherlock confesses to being a fraud is also significant. It serves 2 purposes. Firstly, it is an attempt by Sherlock to minimise John’s grief at his death. Secondly, and more importantly, it is in order to ensure he is forgotten. The episode takes pains to show how Sherlock’s increasing fame is making it hard for him to remain an effective ‘private’ detective. His fame is also behind his downfall: so many officers eager to believe he’s a fraud due to a toxic combination of jealousy and embarrassment caused by Sherlock’s success. By instructing John to tell everyone in his life that he is a fraud, to let the newspapers know and remove any chance of him being seen as a martyr, he maximises the likelihood that he can fade away and be forgotten.

When Sherlock jumps, he can be seen to be a fair way out from the building, perpendicular to it.
Perpendicular

As John begins to round the corner of the red brick building following Sherlock’s fall, we can momentarily see a red laundry truck next to Sherlock’s body, which is now parallel to Bart’s.
Truck

John is then knocked down by a cyclist. This is also planned by Sherlock, and executed by members of the homeless network that he employs in order to delay, disorientate and confuse Watson lest he catch on to what Sherlock has done. This disorientation can be shown not only by the director’s emphasis of John’s discombobulation, but also by the disjointed series of events as John is hit. In the frame as John is hit, the red laundry truck is missing, and a crowd of people have gathered around Sherlock’s body.
No truck crowd

However, after John is hit, and is struggling to get to his feet, we are shown a shot with the red truck clearly present, driving away from the spot where Sherlock fell, and the crowd of people just beginning to assemble.
Truck no crowd

So far then, my theory is that Sherlock jumped in to the laundry truck. Then it is my opinion that he burst a capsule of fake blood (supplied by Molly) on his head, took a pill to stop his heart (supplied by Molly, possibly taken whilst still on the roof), and either knocked himself out and jumped on the floor, or had the driver of the truck do it. This explains how he comes to be parallel to Bart’s, and also how he has no pulse when John checks it. There are no gaping head wounds, or any other wounds for that matter, which would not be expected after a fall on to concrete from such a great height (surely?!). The shot directly after the fall where Sherlock hits the floor parallel is, thus, slightly out of sequence.

The paramedics, possibly arranged by Molly, arrive eerily fast and whisk Sherlock away into Bart’s, where his heart is to be restarted, and then wrongly pronounced dead by a complicit Molly. Mission Accomplished**.

Most of my points can be reviewed here:

Excuse me now for a bit whilst I bask in my own smugness***.

*Other theories include Moriarty not really being dead either and gravity being a masonic conspiracy. Not that last one.

** One variant that I considered in an earlier version of my thesis is that the body is an elaborate and sophisticated cadaver supplied by Molly. Seems unlikely to me.

***Please continue the debate in the comment section if you have alternative pointers

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Killing me Softly- Youngblood Brass Band [Song of the Week #12]

I do like me a bit of Youngblood Brass Band. Playing Brooklyn at the Music Society Dinner and the End of Year Assembly with the No-name band will doubtless remain one of my fondest memories (thank you all, once again, for agreeing to play it with me y’all). But it’s time for something new, so here I proudly present YBBB’s cover version of Killing me Softly, from the album ‘Live. Places.’. It was recorded live. At a place (if you listen to the announcer at the end it would appear that this place was in Britain!).

Getting hold of YBBB records on CD is difficult, but should be easier in the US than in the UK, but annoyingly enough a US postal address and a UK billing address won’t fly, so I’m stuck now until I return.

P.S. I have a kickass post about the cliffhanger at the end of Sherlock to post tomorrow, so stay tuned.

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The Problem- Godley & Creme [Saturday song of the week #11]

Thursday this week was Thanksgiving. We cooked a Thanksgiving dinner for the residents on Wednesday which was one of the more stressful events of my stay here! I was relegated mainly to prep work, which whilst it had the advantage of me not being in a position to ruin anything, did mean I ended up chopping, cleaning and peeling all day. So not the best of fun, but a strangely relaxing experience nonetheless.

I didn’t feel in the best of moods today, and I couldn’t quite seem to get anything done. Even procrastination was a struggle, in fact. Perhaps I discovered a way to inflict procrastination on procrastination. This blog very nearly did not get done in time either: it’s 23:23 as I sit down to write it. In keeping with the rest of the day, I am (for the first time!) somewhat lacking in inspiration

The song I’ve chosen is about a problem. A maths problem as impossible to solve as a bad mood, as complicated as a bad mood and as frustratingly opaque as a bad mood. But don’t take it too seriously!

Gah, somebody give me a shot of Serotonin already.

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A few basic facts about the latest Israeli aggression [SOTW#10]

Misinformation is, as ever, rife.

So let me just set the record straight as briefly as possible.

For sources click on the numbers.
1) The total number of Israelis killed by Hamas’ low-tech Qassam rockets ever is 26 (including soldiers!). If, as the Israelis claim, this is ‘genocide’ then it is rather a slow one.
2) Just today 39 Palestinians died.
3) The number of Palestinian civilians killed in the last major Israeli assault, Operation Cast Lead, is 926, including 313 children.
4) Israel’s right to ‘self defence’ is irrelevant as it is clearly the aggressor. As usual, Israel broke the truce, and Israel escalated the violence.
5) Ahmed al-Jaabari had just received a draft peace agreement at the time of his extra-judicial killing. The wonderful Israeli peace activist Gershon Baskin who was involved in the negotiations believes al-Jaabari wanted a ceasefire.

Don’t believe the propaganda pushed by the Israeli government’s increasingly sophisticated apparatus. As the typically excellent Richard Seymour writes on his blog:

“At this point, the excuses for yet another sadistic gorefest in Gaza are looking care-worn.  The same old tired, robotic half-sense: Hamas.  Rockets.  Sderot.  Terrorism.  Something something something, dark side.  Something something something, complete.  There will be some barbarous, nonsensical, infuriating things said in news broadcasts over the next few days.  All uttered in that exaggerated American accent that high Israeli officials seem to learn.”

Plus ça change…

This week’s song is Bone Bomb by noted Palestinian rights activist Brian Eno. It deftly handles the normally misunderstood issue of ‘terrorism’, and what motivates those who blow themselves up seeking a ‘beautiful death’ with great emotional intelligence.

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