Robert Hampton

Another visitor! Stay a while… stay forever!

April 2011

2nd April 2011

What a Buerk

There seems to be an unwritten rule for well-known BBC employees that, once you have left the job, you run to the right-wing press to slag off the organisation which paid your wages for decades. The latest to do this is Michael Buerk.

Although he praised some BBC managers, including Mark Thompson, the director general, Mr Buerk said some of his bosses were “totally transparent t******.”

Mr Buerk, 65, has previously criticised BBC newsreaders, saying their role was “the only job that actually requires no talent at all”.

Mmm… How much talent does it take to provide the voiceover for Louie Spence’s Showbusiness, Michael?

5th April 2011

King Ridiculous

He had a dream — as did, apparently, the person who came up with this:

Organisers of an art project have apologised over claims Martin Luther King Jnr’s “I have a dream” speech was penned in Liverpool’s Adelphi Hotel.

Liverpool Discovers, set up to “celebrate the greatest stories seldom told” about the city, published the claims in a tourist pamphlet.

The report goes on to say that the information in the Liverpool Discovers leaflet was based entirely on contributions from members of the public — a research technique known as “The Wikipedia Method”.

Martin Luther King Jnr is such a revered figure. This event’s organisers should really have been a bit more careful about using his name so casually.

6th April 2011

Freshly squeezed
Posted by at 8.15pm | In the News | No responses

Maybe April 6 should be the real April Fools Day:-

Few people will consider it a cause for celebration – but 6 April marks the start of the new tax year.

This coincides with a series of changes to taxes, some benefit entitlements, and rights for employees.

I’m not sure if I’m better off or not. I’m squarely in that bracket that apparently benefits from the changes: male, no children, income under £25,000 and single (come and get me, guys!). However, the prices of so many things seem to have gone up, such that my disposable income gets swallowed faster than a plate of chips served to John Prescott.

It’s all very depressing at the moment, isn’t it? With cuts in services and prices going up, there’s not much to be cheerful about OH LOOK ROYAL WEDDING!!!!!111

8th April 2011

National Express
Posted by at 8.07pm | Liverpool | No responses

Woman wearing a doughnut hatThe three day Grand National meeting is in full swing at Aintree. Fake tan has been flying off the shelves of shops across Merseyside over the past few days as women across the region prepared for Ladies’ Day.

On the first day of the meeting two women were arrested for streaking. Today, however, the main crime is against fashion, with some truly unconventional outfits on display.

The Daily Mail — of course — revelled in the chav-tastic dresses, and engaged in some good old-fashioned sneering. It’s to be expected from them: they like to have a pop at Liverpool whenever they can. It’s unpleasant, but not really worth rising to the bait.

Of course, the Liverpool Echo felt the need to rally to the defence of Scouse women, and printed a stirring endorsement of Ladies’ Day in today’s edition.

I can’t help but think, however, that they could have picked a better title for the article:

Ignore the Ladies' Day knockers!

It was kind of difficult to ignore the knockers: some of them were dangerously close to falling out of the dresses.

11th April 2011

Hubble, Bubble, Royal and Trouble
Posted by at 7.42pm | In the News | 1 response

The Sun is alleging that local councils around the country are obstructing street parties by insisting that interested people pay out for insurance and other costs. Its editorial singles out Labour-run councils for “hiding their Stalinist hatred of all things Royal behind a smokescreen of health and safety.” (link goes to the Guardian; I refuse on principle to link to the Sun)

I suspect if councils are being unhelpful, it’s because they have been stripped of millions of pounds in funding by Murdoch’s mates in No.10. Personally I’d prefer that councils spend the money on important things like libraries instead of facilitating the consumption of jelly and ice cream in honour of the heir to the throne.

12th April 2011

Hobbit Forming
Posted by at 1.14pm | Gay, In the News | 1 response

Sir Ian McKellen is touring schools in an attempt to educate teenagers on gay issues and combat prejudice.

Schools, with their social cliques and pressure to fit in, are frequently a bastion of homophobic bullying, so it’s great that a prominent figure like Sir Ian is taking the time to do something kike this. The lovely idea is made even better when anecdotes like this come up:

“Do you know any gay people?” asks Sir Ian McKellen asks. Silence. Heads shake. “Well, you do now. I’m gay.” It’s my turn to speak up. “You know two now. I used to go to this school – and I’m gay,” I offer. “You know three now,” a sixth-former chips in. The other pupils don’t look too surprised, and he seems admirably comfortable in his sexuality. Silence. Then: “Erm. Well. You know four now.” Heads shoot around to see a uniformed boy, leaning close to McKellen. Mouths fall slightly open – including mine – but nobody speaks. Then McKellen says, in that mellifluous voice of his, “Well. How about that? It turns out we all know quite a few more gay people than we thought we did.”

As is usual with online newspaper articles, it’s best to ignore the comments.

17th April 2011

A kiss is just a kiss
Posted by at 6.02pm | Gay, In the News | No responses

I’m out of date – whenever I hear the initials “PDA” I instantly think of a Palm Pilot, but apparently it also stands for Public Display of Affection. That subject has been in the news this week, because two men were kicked out of a Soho pub on Wednesday night after another customer complained about their lip-locking.

It’s probably stating the obvious to point out that, if you find same-sex affection offensive, Soho is probably not the best place to go for an evening out.

James Bull and Jonathan Williams, the pair at the centre of the storm, claim that they have been discriminated against. The drinker who complained told BBC Five Live they were “over the top”. Whatever the facts, the important consideration is whether the same standards apply to both homosexual and heterosexual couples. Would a man and a woman be asked to leave? Would anyone have complained in the first place? There are lots of questions which need answering.

The pub’s management haven’t helped their case by not issuing any comment whatsoever. When Guardian reporter Adam Gabbatt contacted the pub, he was told, “stop calling this number please, or we’ll have you done for harassment.”

Some may say that they should have gone to a gay pub to do their canoodling. But it’s 2011 and we should be well beyond the times when gay people had to hide themselves away for fear of upsetting people.

The story also serves as another illustration of the power of social media. One half of the couple took to Twitter to complain about his treatment. He was retweeted around the world and a Facebook group had been set up even before the story was picked up by the media – first by gay web site Pink News, then the Guardian, who not only put it on the front page, but launched a live blog. The blog is slightly tongue-in-cheek, which is how the problem started in the first place.

Two days later and, through the power of the Internet, a mass protest had been organised in the form of a “kiss-in”. It was attended by such luminaries as Peter Tatchell and both the BBC and Sky News gave it coverage.

James and Jonathan have apparently agreed to go on a second date, which will hopefully be less eventful than the first. More power to them, I say. I’m not a big participant in public displays myself (partly due to the lack of anyone to do it with). However, if two people sitting at the next table to me want to kiss – sure, go ahead! I’m quite liberal on matters of affection and sex. Anything short of Bonobo-style penis fencing is fine by me.

20th April 2011

AV Leads
Posted by at 8.31pm | Politics | 1 response

On 5th May the country will hold a referendum on changing the voting system. If the public votes “yes”, MPs would, in future, be elected to Parliament using the Alternative Vote system.

Under AV voters do not choose one candidate. Instead they rank the candidates in order of preference. If no candidate wins more than 50% of the votes, the candidate in last place drops out of the contest and the next preferences of those who voted for him are distributed among the other candidates. This is repeated until one candidate gets over 50%, and they are declared the winner.

Let’s take a couple of real examples. In the constituency where I live, Liverpool Riverside, Louise Ellman was elected in 2010 with 59% of the vote – a clear winner and AV would not change this. However, over in Wirral South, the result was less clear cut:

  • Labour 40.8%
  • Conservative 39.5%
  • Lib Dem 16.6%
  • UKIP 3.2%

The Labour candidate was declared the winner on a minority of the vote, with the rest of the votes (more than half) ignored completely. That doesn’t seem right to me, and that is why I am voting YES in the referendum.

It’s no secret that the Lib Dems want electoral reform and this referendum is only happening because they successfully negotiated for it as part of the coalition agreement. It may be tempting for some to vote “no” just to piss off Nick Clegg, a man without any discernible backbone or principles. I think we should put that aside and look at the bigger picture: this is a golden chance to improve our democracy – one which we may not get again for decades.

There is more info on the Alternative Vote system from the Yes to Fairer Votes web site.

24th April 2011

Cardinal Sin
Posted by at 10.48am | Gay, In the News | No responses

Happy Spring Sphere Day everyone! Here’s more of that Christian love we keep hearing so much about, as the leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland attacks “aggressive secularism” in his Easter sermon. And what is the worst part of that problem? You’ll never guess…

In a reference to equality legislation preventing discrimination against homosexual people, Cardinal O’Brien will denounce what he claims is the way Christians have been prevented from acting in accordance with their beliefs because they refuse to endorse such lifestyles.

Cardinal O’Brien seems to think that people like me need his permission to live our “lifestyle”. Last time I checked, that wasn’t the case.

Of course, there are plenty of Christian groups who do embrace gay people, and organisations such as the Lesbian & Gay Christian Movement. It’s not as simple as the repeated “Gays v Christians” stories in the media make it appear.

25th April 2011

You (and they) know where you are with a smartphone

Interesting news emerged over the past few days that many smartphones collect data on the user’s location and store it in a hidden file, with the data being used to improve geographic targeting of adverts. The first revelations involved the iPhone, but Google’s Android software also does something similar.

The Register explained why such tracking could be harmful. Outside of technology circles, however, there has been a distinct lack of outrage. In a world where everyone (except me, apparently) is checking in on Foursquare or Facebook Places every two minutes, I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me.

Judging by the number of Tweets in my feed from mobile phones, which display completely inaccurate locations, the technology is far from perfect in any case.

29th April 2011

Luvly Couple Blinda Data
Posted by at 6.27pm | In the News | No responses

Aren’t they a great couple! Oh, look at the lovely hats! Isn’t it amazing how many people turned out. Wasn’t Kate’s dress special? Aw, they kissed on the balcony! Doesn’t it make you proud of the monarchy?

Sorry, I’m not being too convincing, am I? I think I would have been more well-disposed towards the whole thing were it not for a couple of things which left a sour taste:

Firstly, the news on both TV and the newspapers has been nothing but non-stop Royal Wedding madness for weeks beforehand. Yes, it’s the Royal Family, but to cover them so extensively, when more important events are transpiring elsewhere, is ridiculous. To be honest, I’m surprised we’re not getting minute-by-minute coverage of the honeymoon with Eamonn Holmes reporting live from outside the hotel (“I’m getting unconfirmed reports from Sky sources that consummation HAS occurred!”).

Secondly, some people on the right made out that anyone who shows less than unflinching adoration to the Monarchy is a hateful anarchist (and probably supports Labour). This was supposed to be a unifying event for the country, not an excuse to bully councils in working-class areas into holding street parties.

Watching the wedding this morning, it was great to see the BBC do what it does best: cover a big national occasion with style and panache. The Daily Mail complained about the number of staff the Beeb were using to cover the event, but I think it was justified (although if they did need to trim numbers, perhaps they should have lost Fearne Cotton?). Twitter this morning was full of comments from Americans who had switched over from CNN, Fox et al to enjoy the understated BBC feed.

We also got this ace “look how great we are” trailer right after the Royal Wedding had finished:

Oh well, it’s all over now. As you were, everyone.