Robert Hampton

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19th August 2013

Miranda wrongs
Posted by at 7.55pm | In the News | No responses

Here’s something you should be outraged about:-

The partner of the Guardian journalist who has written a series of stories revealing mass surveillance programmes by the US National Security Agency was held for almost nine hours on Sunday by UK authorities as he passed through London’s Heathrow airport on his way home to Rio de Janeiro.

David Miranda, who lives with Glenn Greenwald, was returning from a trip to Berlin when he was stopped by officers at 8.05am and informed that he was to be questioned under schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000. The controversial law, which applies only at airports, ports and border areas, allows officers to stop, search, question and detain individuals.

He was held for “almost nine hours”, just less than the maximum permitted under the Act. As the Guardian points out, this is unusual; only 1.2% of those stopped are held for more than three hours. The article goes to point out that anyone detained under schedule 7 is not entitled to legal advice, and is not entitled to even remain silent – outrageous, in a country that is supposed to value civil liberties and justice.

Why was he detained? No-one is telling at the moment. Some have suggested that he was carrying sensitive material on a USB flash drive. However, schedule 7 is supposed to only be used against people suspected of terrorism. Journalism (even journalism which embarrasses the Government) is not terrorism. The length of time he was held makes it look like an attempt to intimidate and harrass someone, and that is very bad news for a supposedly free press. To his credit, Glenn Greenwald refuses to be cowed:

I already share [Miranda’s defiance], as I’m certain US and UK authorities will soon see.

Pleasingly, this does seem to have caused a genuine fuss. The BBC news is currently leading with the story, as are several other news outlets. Keith Vaz and Yvette Cooper of the Labour party are asking questions, and so are senior human rights lawyers.

What with this, and the Government’s ongoing proposals for internet censorship, we seem to be sinking into an undemocratic police state. When Amnesty International is condemning your tactics, it’s safe to say you’re in the wrong.

I hope the debate continues and ends up with this draconian piece of legislation being scraped or drastically curtailed. I’m probably being far too optimistic there, mind you.

27th October 2010

Meerkat Manor
Posted by at 8.28pm | Television | 2 responses

I’m not sure what to make of the news that “Simples!” has made it into the Collins dictionary.

Some people are speaking about this as if it marks another step in the decline and fall of our civilisation. Really though, it’s just another example of the power of advertising to infect the public consciousness. Aleksandr Orlov could soon in the same league as the Milkybar Kid and the Smash Martians.

To anyone who is offended by the ads (especially that Guardian columnist who claimed they were racist) I say: relax, it’s just a 30 second clip that you can fast forward through on Sky Plus anyway. Just resist the urge to punch those annoying people who say “Simples!” in real life, and everything will be fine.

Having said all that, releasing a book for Christmas might be taking things a bit too far…

I successfully resisted the urge to use the phrase, “calm down dear, it’s a commercial!” — oh…

31st December 2009

2009? More like Woo! Thousand and Nine!

Was this year an exciting way to say goodbye to the decade? Here’s a reminder of what happened on planet Hampo this year (part 2, hopefully, follows tomorrow):-

January started out with one of my favourite shows being revived. Despite being up against EastEnders and being hosted by Ben Shepherd, the Krypton Factor did well enough to be recommissioned for a second series. We found out Who would replace David Tennant, and a year later we still haven’t actually seen him in the role. ITV’s latest attempt to ape the success of Doctor Who was Demons which failed spectacularly; the only creative thing about it being the number of different excuses the writers found for Christian Cooke to remove clothing.

In the wider world, various eras were drawing to a close, as Woolworths closed its doors, Tony Hart kicked the bucket and Dubya left office. Meanwhile, yours truly had an enjoyable night in London Theatreland.

Read the rest of this post »

22nd October 2009

Please Mr Postman look and see, if there’s a letter, a letter for me
Posted by at 8.14pm | In the News | No responses

I like ordering things through the Internet; it’s far better than the alternative method of purchasing things, i.e. going into a shop. Several times a week my postman arrives laden with parcels, freeing me of the burden of having to leave the house and talk to people. Therefore, when the CWU announced strike action, I was somewhat perturbed, not least because I had just ordered several items online, all of which had been posted just in time to get caught up in the possible industrial action and sit in Copperas Hill for an extended period.

So I was really pleased to arrive home and find this waiting for me tonight:-


Yep, every single item I was waiting for has been delivered. Thank you Mr Postman — as far as I’m concerned, you can now strike to your heart’s content (until 12th November, when I’m expecting a DVD preorder to be posted)!

A lot of people complain about our postal service. Me, I’m actually quite satisfied with the Royal Mail. In my experience, items generally arrive intact, within the timeframe they’re supposed to, which is all I want really. Occasionally in work we get letters addressed to the Clayton Square branch of Boots, but apart from that there are few problems. I don’t know about all the behind the scenes stuff, but something is clearly seriously wrong with industrial relations and perhaps some heads need to be knocked together.

The Guardian had the nice idea of posting three satellite tracking devices and following their progress in real time. Unfortunately they didn’t read their own news stories and hence nearly missed the strike, with two out of three items arriving on time and only the third getting stuck.

I also made the mistake of browsing the BBC’s Have Your Say page on the subject earlier today, but quickly clicked away after seeing the inane comments posted. You got letters today because the delivery workers are on strike tomorrow, idiots!

14th February 2009

Posted by at 2.04pm | Politics | No responses

I’m a bit late posting this, but never mind. Useless government minister Hazel Blears made the mistake of slagging off Guardian columnist George Monbiot — prompting this frankly quite wonderful response:-

You remained silent while the government endorsed the kidnap and the torture of innocent people; blocked a ceasefire in Lebanon and backed a dictator in Uzbekistan who boils his prisoners to death. You voiced no public concern while it instructed the Serious Fraud Office to drop the corruption case against BAE, announced a policy of pre-emptive nuclear war, signed a one-sided extradition treaty with the United States and left our citizens to languish in Guantánamo Bay. You remained loyal while it oversaw the stealthy privatisation of our public services and the collapse of Britain’s social housing programme, closed hundreds of post offices and shifted taxation from the rich to the poor. What exactly do you stand for Hazel, except election?

Go and read the rest of it.

27th September 2008

Guardian of Forever
Posted by at 7.18pm | Fun | No responses

Thanks to a friendly lady who was loitering inside Liverpool Central station last Friday handing out 50% off vouchers, I’ve been buying the Guardian at a substantially discounted rate all week, and have used said newspaper as a handy prop to convince my fellow commuters that I’m an English teacher or social worker.

For yours truly, living in a household where the only source of national news is the Daily Mail, it’s come as something of a revelation: turns out asylum seekers are not all filthy terrorists, the BBC is actually quite good, and gay people are not out to corrupt our children!

The surest sign that we’re in a very different country, however, came today when I opened Guide supplement and found this ad in the Soulmates dating section:-

Disembodied, neo-cortex, afloat inside a tank of nutrient, solution, has ability to see back and forth in time, communicates via a synchronised swim team of dolphins, WLTM sim, 36-42, 44, Ldn.

6th May 2008

Posted by at 6.11pm | In the News | No responses

The Guardian, taking time out from slagging off Boris Johnson, has helpfully listed some donation points for the Burmese cyclone victims.

23rd December 2007

Bore on Christmas
Posted by at 11.59am | In the News | No responses

This great piece by Polly Toynbee from Friday’s Guardian should be the last word on the “OMG Christmas has been Banned!” nonsense that surfaces every year.

Birmingham City Council never actually renamed it Winterval, y’know.

19th November 2007

Laughter and Applause
Posted by at 7.44pm | Television | No responses

In the Guardian, Graham Linehan makes a persuasive case for traditional “filmed before a live studio audience” sitcoms:-

There are some actors who come alive in front of a crowd, and if you’ve cast it right, there’s an energy between cast and audience that can be exhilarating for both parties, then enjoyed by the audience at home. I’ve seen Hugh Laurie be good in a lot of things, but I’ve never seen him funnier than he was on A Bit of Fry and Laurie and Blackadder. In fact, everyone in Blackadder is working the audience mercilessly, pitching their performance to elicit the greatest number of laughs.

Comedy doesn’t need a studio audience to be funny. On the other hand, some of the best TV comedy moments have been accompanied by gales of laughter on the soundtrack: that episode of Red Dwarf where Rimmer walks in on Kryten trying to pull Lister’s underpants off; the episode of Frasier where the radio station manager thinks Frasier is gay; pretty much all of Father Ted.

I never understood why some people have a problem with a live studio audience anyway. What if they go to watch a comedy play at the theatre? Do they keep telling the rest of the audience to be quiet, because it’s ruining it?