Libel law reform

October 15, 2009 Leave a comment

It’s clear from this week’s events, and indeed to everyone with access to either eyes or a braille reader, that English libel law is a disgrace that needs reformed.

As far as I can make out, the only objection to libel law reform is that in countries like the US with a sensible (i.e. unenforceable unless you’re a previously unheard-of member of the public or the libel is obviously malicious) libel system, mad buggers can get away with describing anyone vaguely heard-of as a demented antisemite/Islamophobe/etc.

I’ve yet, however, to hear any reason why this matters.

If you’re a serious commentator, some mad bugger describing you as an antisemite doesn’t make any odds at all. Similarly, if you’re a serious commentator, describing random selections of people as Islamophobes is likely to get you relegated to the “not serious commentator” pile in short order.

(and as someone who’s been maliciously libelled, whilst almost certainly counting as a public figure for US purposes, I can honestly say that the concept of using English libel law against the nutter in question was about the least appealing option in either my or my solicitor’s arsenal, despite the fact that we were both very clear I had a case and would have won).

But let’s assume, against all actual evidence, that libel laws provide some protection to the truth or to Brave Individuals Being Victimised By A Cruel System: in that case, let’s 1) provide legal aid to libel victims and aggressors [*], 2) cap all costs awards to a legal aid payscale. I can’t think of any way, even in the bizarre parallel world where serious people believe that Private Eye is a threat and James Goldsmith is a victim, that this would cause Terrible Injustice, and it means that the occasional poor (in both senses) sod smeared by the tabloids actually has a chance of redress. What’s not to like?

[*] the beauty of this system is that it’s entirely down to the reader to determine who’s whom, and hence doesn’t matter. Obviously I’m Arkell vs Pressdram on this.

What I’ve been up to, week ending 2009-10-11

October 11, 2009 Leave a comment
  • Inbound plane has finally landed. So if nothing else goes wrong we'll only be 5 hours late #
  • Something else went wrong, so we were 5h45m late despite some heroic high-speed flying. Better get some bloody compo #
  • Poor red pandas, destined forever to disappoint people who click headlines about them #
  • like lionel blair, kate bush, keith bin laden, etc #
  • Ah, London. I love going to India, it makes our infrastructure seem amazing. Suspect Austria trip tomorrow will have opposite effect #
  • Slightly misleading of BBC to say 'no individual was prosecuted': the driver who caused it was killed! http://bit.ly/cALI0 #
  • …and it's the end of my 39-hour day. Feel strangely energised. #
  • And it's another trip to LHR, this time to lecture Austrians on interior furniture. #
  • The wireless is free in Vienna Airport, and the beers are only €4.75 a half-litre. Congratulations, Austrians, on your lack of thievery. #
  • unequivocally, @PennyRed is wasted on blogging. Someone give her a columnist gig, please: http://bit.ly/1XXJSv #
  • Can access all media via mobile, except work email. If I had less to do, this'd be a Good Thing. #
  • just passed the Number 1 Fetish Shop. I suppose that's less horrific than the Number 2 Fetish Shop… #teutonicstereotypes #
  • Also passed the Hotel Goldenes Einhorn. wonder if they're affiliated? #
  • I hope she gets masses of compo: http://bit.ly/BOZy9 – although sadly the court can't order tabloid editors birched #
  • Evening now involves rather more working than previously planned. #tretcherusbasterds #
  • "This is a memorial to the soldiers of the Soviet Army who died in 1945 to free Austria" #unconventionalhistory #
  • What's wrong with drinking champagne, FFS? Does recession really mean we all need to become hair-shirted Methodists…? #
  • Wahey, it's *another* tedious puritanism scandal! http://bit.ly/itW04? #
  • Why on earth did Powers That Be decide to run LHR trains to suburban nowhere, rather than central London? #
  • And yes, Mr IK Brunel also scores a Massive Fail for that one. #
  • Cab driver listening to TalkSport. Consensus among callers is that England should be given World Cup because Premiership is quite good #
  • Not entirely sure whether they mean hosting, or just awarded-by-default. I suspect both. #
  • I hate Camden. And cabs. And general travelling whilst my friends have fun at my house. #curmudgeon #
  • I particularly hate cab drivers who're polite to other traffic. You're doing this on my time, so I shld get to choose who you let thru. #
  • …which is nobody, unless they've a blue light on the roof. #
  • Fafblog, making all other political commentary obsolete since 2003: http://bit.ly/18cFyL #
  • Amused by, but unable to comment on for professional reasons, one of the current most-Twittered stories by UKmeeja types #
  • "Oxford slips in international university ranking as Asian rivals 'snap at heels" http://bit.ly/w8Efd …except that # Asians in Top 20 = 0 #
  • Bleg time: pls to send me a Wave invite #googlewave #
  • Ways to deter fighting for digital rights: RT @Openrightsgroup Fight for digital rights and get free Cory Doctorow novel http://is.gd/46NDg #
  • RT @quincytweetz I would have sold my brown cow for a beanstalk, too. #
  • Richly deserved RT @benlocker Delighted to see old people on train were so busy slagging off teenagers that they missed their stop. #
  • Listening to Neil Hannon's delightful Casanova. I miss political sex scandals. One of the few plusses of the next lot is we might have some #
  • I love the way halloumi squeaks when you eat it. I've never tried a live mouse kebab, but I'd give it a go… #
  • Hahahaha: RT @libcon Article:: TaxPayers' Alliance's director doesn't pay UK tax http://bit.ly/EchjW #
  • I like this: RT @alaindebotton The secret life of airline meals: http://bit.ly/LFZAI #
  • Shorter Hugo Rifkind: "Harold Shipman lives next door, so it doesn't really matter if I bump off the occasional granny" http://bit.ly/qbMaq #
  • Wow. Piccalilli and pastrami on toast makes a surprisingly excellent breakfast. Almost ready to face the pub… #
  • It's amazing how 28-days-later even Z2 London can look at 8am on a Sunday… #
  • "and out with the kegs of eau de vie" #
  • Peep Show excellent; 4OD abysmal. Not convinced overall re merits of merging C4 w/BBC, but if it got Peep Show on iPlayer I'd be all for it. #

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What I’ve been up to, week ending 2009-10-04

October 4, 2009 2 comments
  • Much left-web sillyness re Polanski. If you think 'rejected prosecution accusation' = 'fact it's reasonable to assert', go read the Mail… #
  • Joy in heaven over 1 sinner who repents? RT @antonvowl Sun Hillsborough disgrace was before it backed Labour. They should've complained then #
  • It's amusing, for some values thereof, to know that most lib-bloggers would happily have committed Oscar Wilde to jail… #
  • (it being unequivocally established that Mr W was a fan of teenage boys. Yes, they *might* have all been 16+) #
  • Enough of that. I'm sure the next moral panic'll be some Daily Wail nonsense we can all agree on. #
  • meanwhile, "a commission has determined Georgia started last year's war". I await their findings on bears, Popes. #
  • Why is "estate agents in Dungeness focus on nature park not power station" a headline story on BBC World Service news? #bears #Pope #
  • "committed suicide" = "bad person"; "took own life" = good-ish person #tritedocumentaryconventions #
  • Quite up for a beer with @mrpower next time he's Darn Sarf. Wanna hear his I Hated Them Then Too take on more 70s icons, in over 140 chars #
  • Is it the NME Awards tonight? – RT @realnickgriffin sitting down to watch the MOWOs #
  • Didn't my tweet last PM "He's a filthy old man who had sex with a young girl, shouldn't have, and should be punished for it" make it clear? #
  • Time to make "Asian Babes Hotline" ad! RT @kingblues: BNP freephone number 0800 0086191, every call will cost them (via @Ladymcscamp) #
  • A quiet night in Hyderabad. Like every night in Hyderabad, in fact. #
  • Celebrating Gandhi's birthday with a beer and some meat. #culturalinsensitivity #
  • Right. Work done, B3TA read, bedtime it is. Terrifying trendy Mumbaikaar clubbing tomorrow, apparently. #
  • Met some interesting vendors of posh-looking custom solar panels. Ideal for the Cameroonite in your life… #
  • Don't let the door hit you on your way out, dear: http://bit.ly/6KqWP #
  • Against my better judgement, being roped into Facebook-based farm games. #thingstodoonarainyIndianSunday #
  • Dear God, this is awful even by their standards: http://bit.ly/ei2ZX (via, like, everyone) #
  • Ooh yeah: http://bit.ly/1tkgJl – #newsportsfor2010 #
  • I save them for women's beach volleyball, myself: RT @sarabedford Watching X Factor to find out the finalists. Got the tissues ready! #
  • Actually quite glad to be in a developing-world airport and not in front of telly tonight #xfactor #
  • …especially as said airport has become appreciably more developed in the last 6 months. 30 mins entrance-to-lounge good by any standard #
  • No upgrade tho. Again. Next regular-long-haul-flights job, J-class goes in the contract… #
  • Mumbai Sapphire and tonic truly is drink of gods. didn't have anything like enough gin this summer #
  • "I Drove All Night": sweet love song when by Cindi Lauper, creepy rapist song by Roy Orbison, crime against humanity by Celine Dion. #
  • And people suggest the BBC is *left*-biased? http://bit.ly/4ej88x – repetition as fact of Cameron's lies #
  • Things that I am in: uncomfortable cramped chair surrounded by strangers. Things that I'm not in: aeroplane. #
  • Places that aeroplane is not in: here. Places that aeroplane is in: the air, having previously landed in the wrong bloody city #
  • Things that I am not: pleased. #

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What I’ve been up to, week ending 2009-09-27

September 27, 2009 Leave a comment
  • This is true, but not how he suggests RT @tygerland You think you can write, then you read AA Gill and you consider alternative careers #
  • I like this: http://bit.ly/4ydwzI – good to be reminded that GB is popular abroad, despite ignorant witch-hunting domestically #
  • "You should update Adobe Flash Player right now" – no, I'll update it whenever I so choose. It should be illegal for software to hector you #
  • Almost impressed by VC of Buckingham University: it's a rare skill to actually live in 2009 academia whilst believing you're in Lucky Jim #
  • Last chaise longue "nervous": http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8273396.stm #
  • Fantastic lunch burrito. Why aren't http://www.chilango.co.uk an enormous Londonwide chain already? #
  • Wine and pork: the best hangover cure in the world, ever. #
  • Feel ignorant. Have just discovered "Like Someone In Love" is jazz classic, not Bjork original #
  • What's Bjork up to these days, anyway? Quirky songs need recorded and photographers hit. #
  • Yes, indeed – RT @Nosemonkey The Swiss are dicks: http://bit.ly/78I28 #

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Banditry fail

September 23, 2009 1 comment

Yes, I know – it’s a poor show when the blog consists entirely of Twitter updates, and they consist entirely of Saturday night-Sunday morning tweets. And it’s not even primarily riotous-living-based.

Is it total disillusionment with political bunfighting? Is it working really hard? Is it writer’s block? Yes to all three, combined with the fact that the thoughts I have had are all expressible in sub-140 characters…

Anyway. If you want to see a very old New Orleans Creole lady put Jamie Oliver firmly in his place, go to 04:40 here. It’s 4OD so you’ll have to wait a minute or so for the annoying adverts up front, but it’s worth it.

What I’ve been up to, week ending 2009-09-20

September 20, 2009 2 comments
  • Just caught up on the Adebayor stuff. As is often the case, football confuses me. #
  • Stamping on Persie's face v bad, victory dance in front of Gooner fans hilarious – but he seems to be getting most stick for the latter #
  • Bloody rain. Actually, bloody rain would be far better than the watery rain that's currently about #
  • Keys. They're shit. See also: flatmates being on holiday is shit; supposedly cheap London hotels are shit #
  • Reunited with keys. O frabjous day. #
  • I endorse this sentiment: RT @quantick My hangover is so bad I just shouted at it. #
  • The posh deli at St Pancras wants gbp3 for a bottle of Sam Smiths IPA. It's less than that in the pub, ffs… #
  • ?!?!?!?: http://twitpic.com/i8ayg (via @catdonn) #
  • Another day, another moronic 'scientist' trying to destroy childhood: http://bit.ly/T2r69 #
  • Disagree with @libcon on B Scotland http://bit.ly/DxHSq – nowt wrong with employing illegals, but ministers shld follow their own silly laws #
  • The pub opposite Archway station has a big sign up advertising that it cashes cheques for commission. Is it me, or is that kinda sad? #
  • A superb piece of historical context from the Economist re Islamophobic scaremongering – http://tinyurl.com/lhajft #
  • Earliest Sat night EVAH. Am officially lame. Nice to be in own bed for once tho. #
  • RT @drsamueljohnson Mister BAIRD'S Idiot-Lantern makes a Buffoon of every Man, esp. when enact'd by fellow Scotchman COLTRANE #
  • The only alternative to Frog a la Peche is even worse: Peche a la Frog #
  • If anyone isn't watching @james_blue_cat livetweet the midsomer murders in french, they should be #
  • Peep Show 6.1 quite surprisingly good. 4OD player really quite dreadful. Why do people who aren't the BBC have to make decent telly? #
  • (and yes, I know that Peep Show is pretty much the sole .uk example of people who aren't the BBC making decent telly) #

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What I’ve been up to, week ending 2009-09-13

September 13, 2009 Leave a comment
  • Made 2359 Stansted Express off 2330 Ryanair arrival. Yay speed-walking and ruthlessness #
  • In the town where I was born, just long enough for the train to stop and start again. Maybe one day I'll get out & see what it's like #
  • just moved to new office. sadly a) is building site b) nearby train station is building site c) nearby Tube station is building site & shut. #
  • However, when works are finished in 2011 all will be wonderful #
  • am juvenilely amused by the overlap of responses between @cathelliott and @antonvowl #
  • Doctors 'can bugger off': http://tinyurl.com/n45qkp #
  • Dammit, I thought I'd escaped from Orange: http://tinyurl.com/m3vm7z #
  • "Army makes safe 600lb border bomb" http://bit.ly/Xnsmy – I'm not sure the Army should really be making bombs, but I'm glad they're safe #
  • "Boyle edges closer to porno" – having read the headline, I was very relieved by the content: http://bit.ly/L4h2Z #
  • Apple are fantastic, but Safari is actually the worst browser I've ever used. It makes IE look Excellent. C'mon Google, Mac Chrome NOW. #
  • Fuck. Need to be in Bristol in 1h20m. Still in bed. Sceptical this will work. #
  • On train back from Bristol having visited 2 old friends and a v new one. A good day. #
  • Presumptious of me to call someone not yet capable of sitting up 'friend'; she may decide to hate me once able to formulate opinions… #
  • There is, quite literally, nothing better than the second (metaphorical) side of Abbey Road. If you think there is, you're mistaken. #
  • Finished The Corner. War on Some Drugs v depressing. Then read daft 'evil bankers' piece from R. Nader. Ignorance of lefties v depressing. #
  • Authoritarian nonsense, driven by the Nazi tendencies of the lower-middle-classes, is why we're screwed. The bankers are an irrelevance. #
  • See: grog. Legal, enjoyed by almost everyone, Paul Walsh doesn't shoot anyone, all fine. Admittedly, tis also in the puritan twunts' sights #
  • Meanwhile the bankers have given us a decade of cheap entertainment, followed by one year of rubbishness, all at the expense of the Chinese #
  • Compared to the puritans, they're Solomon and Santa Claus rolled into one #
  • Annoyed I'm following @quincytweets already, a Twitter poem (twoem?) would be qualitative. #
  • I was hoping #DavidCookRocks was some kind of crack fiend anthem, but apparently it's just appreciative of a lame Pop Idol singer #
  • Headphone review tweets from @tygerland reminding me why I stopped reading What Hi-Fi… #
  • …and yes, Twitter is a radically stupid medium for trying to express complex ideas. Back to my book & whisky… #
  • Do physicists call higher dimensions "branes" out of deference to N Molesworth? String theory def makes my brane hurt. #
  • Why is Ian Rankin the UK's most successful crime author, and Christopher Brookmyre, erm, not? Edinburgh more glam than Glasgie, is it…? #
  • "Scotland is beautiful. It's also cold, cruel and unforgiving if you don't treat it with respect" – this is why I like Scots birds^H^Hwomen #
  • Depressed by the tweets of people who've achieved things today. I've reheated some pasta and eaten a passionfruit. #
  • I suppose my liver has probably been working fairly hard. Well done it. #
  • I might have a kebab later, depending on whether I can face leaving the house. In the meantime I'm watching downloaded eps of Fist of Fun #
  • When I saw Fist of Fun 14 years ago, I assumed that at 30 I'd be a famous and successful comedian and writer like @richardherring #
  • Although looking on the bright side, I'm about as likely to get my own TV show as he is… #
  • Nice kebab or horrible pizza? Latter involves not leaving house or spending money. But is horrible. #
  • If only I had a servant I could despatch to the kebab establishment. And borrow money from. #
  • I made it to the kebab shop. I had a large kofte. It was excellent. Then I watched some Anthony Bourdain. #
  • Achievements for day: left house, put on dishwasher, cut nails. Hooray for six billion years of evolution. #

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As usual, David Mitchell is spot on

September 13, 2009 3 comments

The expenses scandal demonstrated three things: first, that British politicians can be dishonest, albeit in a petty way that genuinely corrupt political cultures would find quaint; second, that they can be idiotic, either in their stubborn refusal to concede that there were any irregularities or their spineless acceptance of every criticism hurled; third, that they weren’t paid enough either to stop them ferreting for perks or to preclude the aforementioned morons infiltrating their number. I can’t see which of these three problems reducing ministerial salaries and increasing the price of salads in the Palace of Westminster will solve. Surely it will exacerbate the last two.

Read, as they say, the whole thing.

What I’ve been up to, week ending 2009-09-06

September 6, 2009 Leave a comment
  • RT @DrSamuelJohnson The Tory sees the BBC as a Nest of Whigs, the Whig sees it as a Nest of Tories, when 'tis a Nest of FOPS #
  • Conjecture: if someone's been dead over 5 years, then IT'S ANCIENT HISTORY JUST FUCKING LET IT GO. See: Lockerbie, Chappaquiddick, etc. #
  • Half a day more work. Then Ryanair *shiver*. Then port, sun & wedding. Yay Oporto. #
  • Not mine, obviously. LADIES OF TWITTER, I'M STILL AVAILABLE. #
  • BUT NOT DESPERATE. #
  • Genius ad. Absolute quality, and makes a good point: http://bit.ly/2cfM3l – unsurprisingly, idiots are offended #
  • Much as I dislike Chelsea, the FIFA ruling is utterly bloody ridiculous #
  • Litigious billionaire terror-supporter dead. Hurrah! http://tinyurl.com/mrc85h #

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What I’ve been up to, week ending 2009-08-30

August 30, 2009 Leave a comment
  • Chris Grayling is halfwit http://bit.ly/RQQwb #Britainisntbrokenyouridiculousjokers #
  • Blimey, the right-whingers are going mental at Kennedy's death. I reckon "40 years political service" outweighs "once crashed a car" #
  • The phrase "I'm not being funny" is almost invariably correct. #
  • Early night w00t #
  • Complete this sentence: "Fraser Nelson is the new …." #
  • Anton Vowl & The Femmes are one of my favourite bands too – RT @Jennymac22 #ff – Just follow everyone I follow. Esp @antonvowl and the fems #
  • #ff @johnb78 #rampantegotism #
  • RT @DrSamuelJohnson #Carnival comes to Notting-Hill. I shall parade dress'd as Emperors Frederick of PRUSSIA & Haile SELLASIE. #
  • Looking to increase the "might be"'s to "might have been"'s ratio in my life. "Might be"'s, make yourselves known. Many req'd. #
  • Crook. Dirty old man. Both proveable. What else can you say to *actually damage* the man's reputation? http://tinyurl.com/ndya5n #
  • This could work: RT @antonvowl My plan to save the newspaper industry http://bit.ly/VU0MB #
  • Just received Mattressman *monthly* newsletter. Mattressman make good mattresses – currently reclining on one – but surely 3 yrs more apt? #
  • National Express ads 4 horrid bus trips on Spotify. Just cos ur not allowed to run trains nemore doesn't mean you have 2 spoil it 4 everyone #
  • Is it too early to point out that HAHA, YOU DAFT THICK DADROCK-LIKING-TWASSOCKS, BLUR FUCKING WON? Just wondering… #
  • Excellent LC piece: http://tinyurl.com/nvb6co – conservatives hate the BBC because it reflects the fact they lost the argument long ago #
  • "I'm robbing your country blind, send me home" – OK Amanda, would love to http://tinyurl.com/knog2m #
  • Breakfast of black pudding, mushrooms, half a dozen oysters and a pint of Guinness #livingthedream #

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