Sunday 25 February 2024

A country without a memory

Starmer accuses 'weak' Sunak of harbouring 'extremists' in his party

Sir Keir Starmer has accused the prime minister of harbouring extremists in his party after a senior Tory MP was suspended for "Islamophobic" comments.

A country without a memory is a country of madmen.

George Santayana

Saturday 24 February 2024

The Death of Tony Hancock


One of the very few comedians I look back on now and still think was funny.

Slamming on the breaks

'I moved to a Derbyshire town and the pothole problem is worse than I thought'

One day I had to slam on my breaks after a car crossed onto my side of the road

I recently moved to a Derbyshire town that has potholes on seemingly every corner - my question is, 'Why?' It's no secret that Derbyshire residents are disgruntled about the state of the roads and, just weeks after moving to Belper, I share that frustration.

That's enough blogging for this afternoon, time to take a brake.

Probably Stolen By Aliens

Scientists issue call for help with images of comet without a tail

Amateur stargazers have been asked to help space researchers by attempting to catch a comet with a missing tail on camera.

The comet, known as C/2021 S3 PanSTARRS, is about the same distance from Earth as the Sun and researchers from the University of Reading are keen for pictures from space enthusiasts to help with meteorological research.

Researchers are attempting to develop ways to improve and further analyse space weather.

It's a sign of the times, the comet's tail may be on Galactic eBay by now. It's a mistake to assume that aliens will turn out to be benign or evil, they may turn out to be nothing more than interstellar looters. Our elites should fit in quite well.

As for space weather, wait for BBC and Guardian news that our consumption is having a catastrophic effect on it.

Friday 23 February 2024

Suppressing populist common sense.

Kurt Mahlburg has a useful Mercator piece on the obvious bias of so-called misinformation experts.

Do conservative misinformation experts exist?

I just found out that there’s a peer-reviewed journal dedicated entirely to the topic of misinformation.

It was brought to my attention this week in a tweet by Bjorn Lomborg, who had evidently been browsing its pages.

Misinformation Review is the publication’s rather benign title. Launched in 2020, the open-access journal is run out of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School — Harvard University’s school of public policy and government. Wheels within wheels and all that.

The journal’s website boasts that “over 40 misinformation experts from over 20 different universities and institutes” serve on its Editorial Board, and that its pages are viewed hundreds of thousands of times annually.

What could possibly go wrong?

Plenty, according to Bjorn Lomborg.

Some will have seen this before, but the whole piece is well worth reading. It's a reminder that the rise of so-called misinformation experts seems to be associated with the realisation that ordinary people could become too well-informed for elite requirements. As Mahlburg says, what is being attempted here is the suppression of populist common sense - it is this which we see every day and which is so striking.

It’s no secret that the vocabulary of misinformation, disinformation and malinformation invaded mainstream discourse with a vengeance shortly after Brexit and Donald Trump’s surprise 2016 election victory.

The internet’s fabled democratisation of information — buoyed by the rise of social media and the smartphone in the mid-to-late noughties — had been far more successful than ever anticipated. Brexit and Trump sounded the alarm: trust in Western institutions was in tatters. With the help of independent journalism, the masses had started forming their own views away from the ubiquitous narratives of the legacy press and the bureaucracy.

In short, the misinformation industrial complex was a belated reactionary movement of the elites aimed at suppressing populist common sense.

Seasonal Latest

Money latest: Big drop in energy bills from April - here's how you can get them even cheaper

Ofgem, the energy regulator, has announced the new price cap, and it's 12% lower than the current level. Read about this and more in the Money blog, your place for consumer and economic news. And share your thoughts on any of the stories we cover in the form below.

Does this mean the weather gradually becomes warmer so we use less energy for heating? If so, maybe we need it to be explained in more detail.

Oh, to be in England
Now that April 's there,
And whoever wakes up Ofgem
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lower bills and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England—now!

Not quite Robert Browning

Thursday 22 February 2024

Soap World

TV soaps could be made by AI within three years, director warns

Television soaps could potentially be created by AI within the next three to five years, according to a leading director. James Hawes, vice-chairman of Directors UK and director of the Apple TV+ Gary Oldman spy drama Slow Horses, told parliament’s Culture, Media and Sport committee inquiry into British film and high-end television that digitally made scripts will soon be upon us – particularly for soaps.

“We at Directors UK held a forum about Doctors, the BBC show that’s been cancelled,” said Hawes. “One of the members there started talking about AI and it sent me investigating how long it would be before a show like Doctors can be made entirely by generative AI.”

I'm surprised this isn't the case already. In fact I have my suspicions about the latest House of Commons spat because it looks very much like a TV soap to me. Unfortunately, many of the "MPs" involved are hardly any more realistic than Max Headroom

It's a work in progress I suppose.