Robert Hampton

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February 2011

4th February 2011

I suppose a book’s out of the question?
Posted by at 6.10pm | In the News | No responses

Protesters are taking action against cuts to library services:-

At least 80 events will take place tomorrow, with a roster of notable authors coming out against the cuts, which now threaten more than 400 libraries across the UK

When did libraries become something that needed to be defended? Surely the value of access to free literature and knowledge is beyond dispute? Only an utter Philistine would consider cutting libraries…

…but then again, look who we have in power. In a few year’s time the population will be so dumbed down that the only reading material of any significance will be the Sun. It would be good for Rupert Murdoch and the Conservative Party, but terrible for everyone else.

5th February 2011

Pain in the neck
Posted by at 1.30pm | In the News | No responses

A very important news update:-

Snoods have been put under any other business for when football’s lawmakers meet on 5 March and, to the horror of some stars, may be banned.

Excellent news – footballers should wear fewer clothes, not more. Except Wayne Rooney, for whom a full burqa would be appropriate.

7th February 2011

A room with a view
Posted by at 10.35pm | It's My Life | No responses

Loft conversions are not something to be undertaken lightly. We’ve just had one done, and a lot of upheaval was involved. I missed most of it myself because I was flat-sitting for my friend Andrew while the worst of the work went on, but my unfortunate family had to live in a house with no roof for six weeks.

Still, it was worth it, and I now have a new “pad” (as the cool kids like to say) to be proud of. Alert MTV Cribs to send a camera crew!

New Bedroom 1 New Bedroom 2

It would be nice to have a home that isn’t attached to my parents’ house, but I’m working on that. At least I have a proper space for my important world-domination work to be carried out. There’s even enough room for a basic videoblogging set up, but that’s a project for another day…

9th February 2011

I don’t follow
Posted by at 8.20pm | In the News | No responses

Toothless watchdog in “slightly interesting ruling” alert.

The Press Complaints Commission ruled on Tuesday that information posted on Twitter should be considered public and publishable by newspapers after it cleared the Daily Mail and Independent on Sunday of breaching privacy guidelines. … The Daily Mail and Independent on Sunday argued that the messages were public and could be read by anyone.

Well, of course messages posted to a Twitter account (or blog, or YouTube channel, or anywhere online) are not private. Everyone, even non-followers, can call up your Twitter page and see what you’ve written (unless you lock the account, but that wasn’t the case here). So there’s no invasion of privacy.

It doesn’t seem at all right, however, to use someone’s personal tweets to attack her. She made it quite clear that she was posting in a personal capacity and there doesn’t seem to have been any scandalous leaks of secret documents or anything like that, so the actual damage done is zero. It basically seems to be mischief making by the papers in question – the sort of thing we expect from the Daily Mail, I suppose.

I’m glad that I rarely, if ever, blog or tweet about work these days. If I did, I would end up in hot water faster than a lobster in a seafood restaurant.

17th February 2011

Watson, come here, I need you

If they ever do a new version of Catchphrase, Mr Chips could actually be a contestant:-

IBM’s supercomputer Watson has trounced its two competitors in a televised show pitting human brains against computer bytes.

After a three night marathon on the quiz show Jeopardy, Watson emerged victorious to win a $1million (£622,000) prize.

The really worrying thing here is that Jeopardy usually uses a “returning champion” format where the winner comes back the next day to play again. That computer could conceivably play indefinitely, winning thousands of dollars every day. After a few years, it would own most of the world’s wealth. And then you have all sorts of problems – can a computer open a bank account, for example?

I, for one welcome this development, and plan to enjoy the few years I have left before the inevitable day when robots overthrow human civilisation.

22nd February 2011

The day the Earth roared
Posted by at 9.57pm | In the News | 2 responses

Sitting in safety half a world away from New Zealand, it’s difficult for me to comprehend the horror of the Christchurch earthquake. This heart-rending account from a journalist who was in her office when the quake hit brings it home:

We walked down the back stairs which were OK, as we left I looked to my right. All I could see of the busy newsroom was the roof of the three-storied building. No people in sight. I had just walked through there 10 minutes prior.

A split second decision to answer an email instead of having a cigarette break probably saved my life.

Outside the inner CBD looked like a war zone. Outside on the street strangers were holding each other and crying and gazing bewildered at the gutted ghetto surrounding us.

The Press’ incredible fashion editor, Kate Fraser, 70, and I linked arms. I tried to tell myself it was for her benefit but she was steadying me.

I saw colleagues crying, people covered in blood. We congregated in a spot left empty by the September 4 quake.

The editor, Andrew Holden, a strong and stoic man, kissed me on the cheek and as he did so I saw he had tears in his eyes.

Read the rest of it.

28th February 2011

All out at 24
Posted by at 1.10pm | Gay | 4 responses

Here’s a good news story to start the week, as England cricketer Steven Davies reveals that he – ahem – bats for the other team:-

The 24-year-old Surrey player said he had decided to make the announcement after months of personal conflict.

In a frank and moving interview with today’s Daily Telegraph, Davies, who started his professional cricketing career with Worcestershire when he was 18, said he could no longer bear to lie about his sexuality.

I like to think that it was James Anderson’s nude photoshoot for Attitude a few months back that helped him along. In fact, I just like to think about James Anderson’s nude photoshoot.

The extended interview with Davies is well worth reading, even for non-cricket fans. It’s a textbook example of the problems faced by someone who is hiding their sexuality. The misery of being in the closet is a situation I can sympathise with.

In dressing rooms, hotel rooms and coffee bars he felt uncomfortable and dreaded being asked even the most innocuous questions about his love life. “Sooner or later, the conversation would come round to whether I had a girlfriend. I was scared of that. I could never be totally relaxed.”

Some will dismiss his announcement as unimportant and irrelevant. Maybe, in an ideal world, it would be. At this moment in time, however, the reality is that gay people in the world of sport face huge barriers which still need much work to break down. So well done to Steven Davies – not just for coming out, but for doing it in the Daily Telegraph of all papers. Retired colonels up and down the country will have been choking on their marmalade at breakfast.