Don't Panic
  • One look into James Murdoch's cold, dead eyes as he announced the decision to shut down the News of The World, was enough to reveal that the decision was taken for entirely commercial reasons and had nothing to do with morality or doing the right thing…If making the current staff of innocent people redundant and shutting a paper founded in 1843 can actually be described as 'the right thing.'

    Profit is all the Murdochs care about and despite still being the most popular newspaper in the UK the revelation that the NOTW had hacked and deleted messages on murdered Milly Dowler's phone, plus the phones of dead soldiers and 7/7 victims was enough to start seriously impacting on advertising revenue (and the News International share price).
    The Guardian reported that: "Most advertisers, including Sainsbury's, Asda, Dixons, Boots, Specsavers, Ford, Halifax, Co-op and Npower had already pulled their campaigns. It is understood News International only had four left — BSkyB, British Gas, Mars and

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  • Fearing Rupert Murdoch is natural because in all likelihood he is the anti-Christ, sent from Down Under to rule over mankind. Admiring him is more challenging, yet that is what I've started to try and do in the hope that I can develop even a tiny amount of the abilities that have made him the seventh most powerful 'person' in the world (according to Forbes.)

    Being pro-Rupert is a bit like rooting for Marcus Tandy in Eldorado or supporting Manchester United, you have to learn to love an undisguised, immoral lust for power and an ability to relentlessly keep winning (if Rupe had been allowed to buy Man Utd it would have hastened The End Time.)

    It has been a big week for us Rupert supporters this week because he notched up another big victory by gaining approval to gobble up the whole of BSKYB despite the fact that he already controls a massive proportion of what we watch and read. I genuinely admire his drive, which is combined with an undisguised contempt for any politician who tries to

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  • Schadenfreude, that is delighting in other people's misery, is an uncommon emotion you may experience while watching footage of people sheltering under a tarpaulin after an earthquake or another similar disaster, but for some reason I'm on schadenfreude overload whenever I see people up to their necks in mud in inadequate Argos tents at Glastonbury.

    What we needed this week was a nice dry spell from Monday to Friday so rain wouldn't stop play at Wimbledon and then a biblical downpour during the weekend to ensure maximum misery for all those who'd invested in the annual shindig on Worthy Farm.

    This emotion is at odds with the fact that the festival has seemingly brought joy to the lives of millions while maintaining its progressive ideals, best expressed by the continued donations of part of the profits to charities like Oxfam, CND and Greenpeace. By 2003 £1 million was given away. In fact Buster Merryfield impersonator and festival boss Michael Eavis seems like a thoroughly decent

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  • Shares in Pfizer, manufacturers of Viagra, dropped this week when it was announced 85-year-old Hugh Hefner's marriage to 25-year-old Crystal Harris is off.

    Shareholders' losses were the world's gain as we will be spared the stomach churning spectacle of creepy Heff taking the blonde bunny up the aisle. Why someone so ancient is getting married is a mystery to me — he's had more intimate encounters than the whole of the Premier League combined.

    Way back in his 1960s heyday Heff admitted to be involved with around 11 out of the 12 calendar bunnies a year and was often 'dating' around seven women at once, and why not? He was young, rich, single and was living a hypocrisy free lifestyle which he espoused in the pages of his magazine.

    Heff was no smut peddler either because back then the cliché about buying Playboy for the articles was actually true, as the roster of writing talent contributing to Heff's organ was truly awesome, including Arthur C. Clarke, Ian Fleming, Vladimir Nabokov,

    Read More »from From playboy to playgeriatric; why some men grow old disgracefully
  • Nobody seems to have a grip on the issue of privacy and the Internet, most certainly not US Congressman Anthony Weiner who this week took a photo of his crotch and tweeted it to a 21-year-old student only to claim it was all an accident, and that his phone had taken a picture in his pocket and then tweeted it.

    This week it was also announced, by technology company Cisco, that the number of Internet-connected mobile devices is set to hit 15 Billion by 2015, alongside other news that the number of Facebook accounts will reach 1 Billion by next year.

    This perfect storm will massively increase the potential for more Weinergate scandals and offer serious challenges to privacy and even the way society functions. No longer is it possible to make an ass of oneself on a night out knowing all will be forgotten the next day because someone's going to take your picture and post it on Facebook for everyone to see.

    Last week once again showed us that technology and the people who use it can't be

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  • People in Britain don't have a problem understanding what Cheryl Cole is talking about although it always seemed likely that our American friends were going to struggle to comprehend her Geordie accent, after all they nearly subtitled the Scots in 'Trainspotting'.

    Perhaps we ought to be sympathetic as Britain has more accents than other countries, partly due to the length of time we've been speaking English and the number of different people who've arrived on these shores. Speaking of which the Newcastle dialect had already come to the fore for the wrong reasons earlier in the week in the despicable MTV programme 'Geordie Shore', wherein young, orange people wearing revealing clothes vomit all over the place… that's entertainment, according to MTV.

    Before getting into an extended rant about the insidious rubbish that gets on telly these days it's worth noting that this sort of programming has highlighted the almost anthropological interest we take in the different tribes dotted about

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  • As I write this 'Le Perv' (the banker formerly known as Dominique Strauss Kahn) just checked out on bail from New York's Riker's Island jail where he was cooped up for allegedly attempting to rape the chambermaid cleaning his $3000 per night hotel room.

    The contrast between the five star Sofitel and the prison must have been stark and perhaps if DSK is found guilty the disparity will be compounded if the authorities decide to submerge the well-groomed banker in the Gen Pop. He may have the opportunity to gain a better understanding of what fending off a rapist is actually like.

    British prisons don't have the same fearsome reputation for extreme sexual violence as American lock-ups and so he wouldn't need to keep his soap on a rope if he'd assaulted a maid in The Savoy. That is if he even ended up inside given the government's fumbling of rape law reform this week.

    The Women's Resource Centre stated that "[The Justice Secretary] Kenneth Clarke's appalling comments over rape sentencing

    Read More »from New rape sentencing plans will just be counterproductive
  • Ugandan MP David BahatiWe don't stand outside the Houses of Parliament chanting "UK, UK, UK" after a national triumphs like the Royal Wedding or winning the Olympic bid, because a bit like whooping, it's just not British. In fact as a nation we tend to be self depreciating which can lead us to overlook some of the good things about Britain such as the progress we have made toward eliminating racism, sexism and homophobia.

    Whilst it's true that The English Defence League and the BNP still exist in opposition to our national characteristics and there are undoubtedly all sorts of abuses still occurring, like this week's attack on Celtic manager Neil Lennon, we've still come further than most other countries I can think of. Our tolerant national character has been codified in progressive legislation which has, for example, served to massively reduce workplace discrimination. Every time Clarkson, Littlejohn and their ilk whine about 'political correctness gone mad' it's worth peering at countries without

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  • Osama bin Laden's $1million compound is probably worth more like $250,000 according to property dealer Muhammad Anwar, an expert on the local market who commented from his Abbottabad office. "This is not a posh area. We call it a middling area."

    The White House probably exaggerated the value of the most-wanted's lair to create the perception that he was Livin' la Vida Loca in the lap of luxury, rather than scratching out an existence in some forsaken cave, so as to undermine his martyr status with his followers still slugging it out with our boys in Afghanistan.

    And who can blame our American allies for adding a few bucks onto their valuation? If Foxtons got their greasy paws on the compound they would probably value it at way more than a million and neglect to mention the unfortunate 'incident' that occurred in the desirable, secure and south facing modern fort complex: "Don't worry about those stains, the previous owners were big claret drinkers." It's probably unfair to single out

    Read More »from The obsolete route to riches
  • Cancun, MexicoI'm currently sat in the lobby of a large American-owned hotel in Cancun, Mexico, which is densely stacked with similarly massive internationally owned establishments, alongside chains like McDonalds and Hooters (where I was surprised to see lots of families with young children dining.)

    I'm insulated from the sweltering heat (in fact shivering in Baltic blasts of air-con) and left wondering,what exactly is Mexican about this place except for its location? I'm really lucky to be here of course, it just strikes me as odd that people should travel thousands of miles to be surrounded by all the same stuff we have back home. My friend and I are actually considered 'adventurous' by other guests, not because we have raided some Mayan tombs, avoiding blow dart spitting statues and the rest, but because we caught the local bus to the Walmart to get some supplies.

    Whilst the Americans make an easy target (I could say something about them being too chunky to miss but won't) us Brits are just as

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