Such a Beautiful Game…

I’ve been working on Ghost Stories II and on copywriting a lot lately so my indifferent ignorance radar has been turned to low. Or maybe the thought of analysing Mohammed Emwazi is too depressing to make a reality. Actually, the rest of the news is pretty grim as well, and I feel like it’s way too soon to make jokes about the sex abuse in Oxford or baby deaths in Cumbria.

It may never be a good time for joking about those things.

In fact, the most laughable piece of mainstream news at the moment is the Qatar football fiasco. When the bid was announced, I a) didn’t care and b) thought that they had already decided to host the competition in December. Apparently it’s taken until now for Fifa to make anything official, and people are grumbling about the fact it will upset league competitions.

Shouldn’t Fifa have thought about that before they accepted bribes from the Qataris? I mean, if I was going to take money for something, and if I knew other people were going to know it, I’d take pains to make sure I got a deal so sweet no one cared about the corruption. Or maybe the Fifa people decided they got paid enough not to give a shit about anything else.

Sometimes I am very glad that I’m not invested in team sports. What do you think the odds are that, by the time 2022 rolls around, Fifa will think the same thing?

The Six O’Clock News: News About the Six O’Clock News

I’ve been thinking about tweaking the way I do this section of the blog – should I call it a feature? An aspect? – and the section itself is probably the best place to do it!

I started the News because I wanted to incorporate school work with home stuff, and discussing aspects of my Government and Politics course was ideal. Since I’ve finished school, though, I’ve wanted to branch out a bit. Analysing a news piece every single week can sometimes be quite hurried, especially if the story hasn’t reached its ‘finale’. Sometimes I feel like a columnist, bashing out a half-formed opinion to meet a deadline. 

From sunshinethekatt.tumblr.com
From sunshinethekatt.tumblr.com

So I’ve been thinking that it might be more fun to do something once a month or once a fortnight which is a bit more thought out and makes me feel less like I work for a paper. It might also be fun to do more audioblogs or maybe videos so there’s more variety to the whole process… what do you think? I mean, I’ll probably let whatever I do just evolve but you guys have to look at it, haha.

The Six O’Clock News: Quickfire Commentary

Audioblog time! I decided to commentate on each of these stories (don’t worry there are things to look at while you listen):

Taken 29th August 2014 at 4:45pm-ish
Taken 29th August 2014 at 4:45pm-ish

Too bad I talked about things in the wrong order and forgot how to talk and read simultaneously.

Story One, in which we should perhaps panic.

Story Two, in which I haven’t heard of an actor

Story Three, in which a judge tells a lawyer that he looks like something out of Harry Potter

Story Four, where an MP got egged by passionate (or stupid) pro-independence campaigners

Story Five (which I actually thought was six) about rich philanthropists who are going all vigilante since someone has to

From stunningpicture.tumblr
From stunningpicture.tumblr

Story Six (which I thought was five), in which people crash cars

Story Seven (totally lost now) when some people set the precedent for the London riots

Story Eight in which parents are well-meaning but misguided

Story Nine, where cats are even more popular when they’re dead

Story Ten, in which I am bitter about the Bake Off, although so are several other people

This may have taken longer than in-depth analysis.

The Six O’Clock News: What It Takes to Re-Focus the Media (sort of)

Let’s address the obvious first and foremost and take a moment to appreciate what journalists are doing in certain parts of the world at the moment. While the tabloids are going crazy over Cara Delevigne’s holiday with Selena Gomez, there are people from across the globe who are quite literally the front line of communications in areas where for various reasons events can’t be broadcast to the world as easily as the weather bulletin. Not that the world seems to be listening most days anyway – James Foley is the tenth journalist to be killed in Syria so far this year and the 44th to be killed worldwide, yet the Syrian civil war isn’t even on the main news most days.

So since it’s taken the brutal beheading of a journalist to draw the West’s attention to the shithole that is current middle eastern politics, let’s have a look at how the West’s covered it so far.

Actual Broadcasters

Not long after the news of James Foley’s death broke, James Kirkup over at The Telegraph pointed out that people calling the murder an “execution” are linguistically wrong; execution occurs as a punishment and the only crime that’s been committed has been the murder of a journalist by a group of people who call themselves a state but actually have zero legitimacy. IS isn’t a geographical piece of land with boarders and a government. It does not have the consent of its citizens. It doesn’t actually have any citizens (has anyone actually come across somebody endorsing the things they do? So far every piece of commentary I’ve seen, from all areas of the political and religious spectrum, has condemned IS as a total piece of shit).

The BBC has a nice page dedicated to explaining all that’s going down in Iraq – I had a look at an article about what happened to al-Qaeda (they’re a bit old-fashioned according to modern, hip Islamists) and it has lots of links explaining all the different varieties of ‘violent Islamic extremists’ that are currently besmirching the good people of the Muslim faith.

Shit Broadcasters

The Mail did actually run a story in which there may be some actual reporting, but I couldn’t finish it because I got distracted by the sheer number of scantily dressed women in the sidebar. Well, I know what I’ll add to this site if I ever want to put you off a post…

Conspiracy Theorists

Yep, some people genuinely think the video was faked. The commentators on this mildly depressing Reddit thread cite “zero emotion”, “no blood” and the video’s “fade to black” as reasons why the CIA/IS/US government faked the entire thing. None of those things can have anything to do with the fact that Foley was an experienced journalist who knew he was going to die and had worked in enough war zones to accept the risks… or the probability that the IS guys know their way around iMovie, especially since many of them are from the West.

Social Media

I was quite surprised, both when his name was a trending topic and on a general search just now, that most Twitter commentary has been pretty decent; most people have expressed their disgust at the whole situation. That said, Twitter’s been getting better at preventing total pillocks from airing their ignorance, so maybe we just can’t see the bullshit.

All right, I’ve depressed myself enough for one day. I almost titled this What It Takes for the Media to Give a Shit About Syria but I thought it was a bit too Vice. Any thoughts on the whole rigmarole?

The Six O’Clock News: Keeping Up With Current Events

With the ever-changing nature of ‘current events’ and the complications of understanding it anyway, I thought the Israel-Palestine conflict (war? See, defining this shit is tough) would be a good topic to use to discuss ways to keep up with the news. All the cool kids are doing it, so listen up!

The Traditional Way: Newspapers and Magazines

Aw, print media. A declining medium and usually so full of editorially-biased bullshit that often it’s not worth going near anyway. We all know that tabloids aren’t worth even opening (I discovered a Daily Mail parody on Twitter the other day. It’s beautiful) but what about the broadsheets?

Well darlings, there are some good choices. The Guardian and Telegraph, traditionally a bit leftie and rightie respectively, have pretty decent articles which give a detailed explanation of a story, usually with some photos or maybe an infographic. I don’t usually get the Financial Times but I’ve heard it’s good too, as is The Times, if buying something owned by Rupert Murdoch doesn’t give you the heebie-jeebies. Then there’s the Independent and its sister publication the i, which I loved to read at school because it’s really short and has super-duper-easy-to-digest articles. It’s also only 30p and available from Starbucks, so you can look smart while sipping a skinny mocha polkadot frappe. All the papers have websites too so you can read an article as many times as it takes for your blood pressure to return to normal!

That’s pretty much the extent of my paper knowledge and I encourage you to utilise your local library and have a read of whatever you can get your hands on – you’ll find your favourite style of writing pretty soon. One word of warning: even the news articles will contain bias. Not as much as a column – not as obviously much as a column, anyway – but differentiating between reported fact, the writer’s opinion and a senior management-based reference (like a journalist highly rating a film released on a company owned by the newspaper’s owner) is a fun and useful skill. One that Daily Mail readers are lacking above all others.

In terms of magazines, there is only one I read, though I read it more thoroughly than I do all papers: Private Eye. Edited by the dude who sits on the left in Have I Got News for You, it’s predominately satire but also has some serious reporting and its Street of Shame section calls out other newspapers’ crap. If I remember correctly, it was one of the few publications that picked up on Cyril Smith being a paedophile about 20 years before the Jimmy Savile scandal – I think they got sued over the allegations. They get sued a lot. The Economist is also useful if you want to get really intellectual – and the ads in the back are brilliant if you want to pretend you have a PhD.

The Family Debate Way: Television

Ah, the real Six O’Clock News. I love it. If you’re anything like me, couch-surfing wise, you start your channel-flicking marathons around the entertainment channels (Virgin Media 121) and go up to music (Kerrang! TV is 342) and maybe into films (avoid the porn channels just past them).

This is stupid.

Go straight to the good stuff: the plethora of news channels. BBC News 24 HD is 604 for me and it’s on all the time. So if you’re out at ten o’clock or eating at six you can keep in the loop! I’m assuming your family bought a huge massive mega TV broadband phone package deal, in which case you probably have access to CNN, Al Jazeera English, Euro News, BBC Parliament and if you’re unlucky FOX.

The good thing about TV news is that because they’re broadcasting to everybody, they have to explain everything. Hence why reporters go to whacky places or walk through green screened graphics – the information needs to be understandable to the average viewer. You’re not the average viewer because you’re a) reading this and b) you know that you can access CNN.

A downside to the TV is that because most non-24-hour slots are short, detail can be missed from a story, and some stories aren’t told at all. Syria is big news when there’s been a huge bombing or war crime, for example, but gets overtaken by the next big thing. The same thing happened in all areas of the mainstream media to #BringBackOurGirls and Flight MH370. Both are still missing, by the way.

 The Hands-Free Way: Radio

You know, the way they kept up with business in World War II. Radio is cool because you aren’t rendered immobile and you can listen while you’re in the car or doing boring stuff, like chores. BBC Radio 4 has a good broadcast in the morning, which I discovered completely accidentally when I was searching for a radio station without jingles or adverts for my morning alarm. I’ve also heard good things about the BBC World Service, which apparently has a worldwide following because it’s an alternative to propaganda-ridden state media.

The Hipster Way: Websites and Social Media

I should probably point out that I’m not entirely sure what a hipster is, although many of the people I’ve known who have declared themselves to be one have actually been twats. I’m not sure if that’s the point. Anyway, social media basically sparked the Arab Spring, because for the first time people had ways to communicate meet-ups and ideas quickly. So instead of using Twitter to hashtag how great your favourite band is to promote a crappy MTV contest, use it to keep up with a conflict or political situation as-it-happens. There was a Russian soldier who posted a picture of himself with Russian weapons inside Ukranian borders on Instagram, and Osama bin Laden’s house’s siege was posted about on Twitter as it occurred, which says it all. The people inside war zones are exactly the same as everyone else so you can see the actual stuff that’s going on. You don’t have to follow accounts if it bums you out, but searching a tag here and there makes you like well intelligent.

Word of warning: social media is the least moderated of all broadcasting platforms and there are just as many idiots posting political things as there are idiots posting pictures of themselves in their underwear or bitching about their boss. Take with a bucketful of salt and always use two sources to corroborate information, especially if it’s for a school thing. I once stumbled upon a Hammas-supporting website which bitched a lot about Israel and the stats I collected were totally the opposite to the ones we learnt in school. For quick info, use the BBC News app and for research, the CIA World Factbook has great profiles on each country – well, they would – and lists states numerically by how great their literacy rate or GDP is, amongst other things. The BBC also has great country profiles for getting a simple explanation and timeline of a country. This explains Kosovo perfectly, for example.

The Fun Way: Entertainment

Not going to lie, Tim Minchin taught me the background to the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Then there’s Have I Got News for You, Russell Howard’s Good News, The Daily Show… the list  of programmes is endless. If you’re prepared to put up with some Hollywood gloss, films and books are useful. Some, like Shooting Dogs or books by Khaled Hosseini, don’t have gloss. They may make you cry noisy tears and expand your cynicism. But they’re actually really important because you’re more likely to empathise and understand the nuances of a situation through fiction than you are just by watching the news.

Documentaries are also excellent because it’s their job to make sense, tell the truth (again: apply salt) but keep hold of your attention. Plus your teachers will support the concept of watching them instead of doing a timed essay. Probably. Possibly.

Okay, I’m off to watch the diving at the Commonwealth Games and keep a tally of my parents’ homophobic comments regarding Tom Daley. Let me know if I’ve forgotten a supercool way to follow the news!

The Six O’Clock News: the Queen Does Smile!

To be totally honest, I wanted to do the News about the Commonwealth Games so I could include this:

 from @_JaydeTaylor
from @_JaydeTaylor on Twitter

I heard that the Queen isn’t ‘allowed’ to smile in official photos or at big occasions, which is definitely a tradition that needs to go because elderly ladies smiling is always brilliant, especially when they posses a) excellent hats, b) the keys to the kingdom or c) both.

I feel like we should also discuss dancing Tunnock’s Teacakes, which I spent my childhood getting caught in my hair. I had no idea they were Scottish… I also forgot that John Barrowman is Scottish and that he likes to kiss people, so thanks for the reminder, opening ceremony!

From somethingiincredible.tumblr.com
From somethingiincredible.tumblr.com

Speaking of kissing and all that, Huff Post did a nice piece condensing the whole Commonwealth-countries-being-homophobic issue complete with a Vine of said kiss. I don’t tend to follow people’s relationships online (with the exception of mine – hi Facebook!) but part of me really hopes that Tom Daley’s boyfriend will be hanging out at the diving. If he’s the guy I think he is, he’s made films about LGBT stuff – so it’ll be fun to see what the international broadcasters make of it all… Bet you regret re-outlawing homosexuality now, huh India?!

Or not.

The funny thing is, we looked at the Commonwealth in Politics and its most contentious issue revolves around its foundation as a group of countries that the UK used to own… plus some others who thought it looked good. By its very nature, the Commonwealth represents loads of historical shit to do with the British Empire and colonialism.

From @TheTweetOfGod
From @TheTweetOfGod

Somebody on Twitter pointed out that it’s England when stealing but Britain when giving them back, which is kind of like how Andy Murray is British until he loses, in which case he’s Scottish – or how I’ll say I’m British most days, but when the EDL do something stupid I think “thank God I’m only half English”. (I should probably point out that I’m only totally sure of about two thirds of my ethnic heritage, if that’s what it’s called. I did some maths once and “half English” sounded way more interesting than “totally British until we get to great-grandparents and does that  even count well yes because I’m dark enough that some people have been a bit racist but the joke’s on them because they got my race wrong HA HA HA”. I digress. I think my family’s entirely Commonwealth though.)

That Tweet pretty much sums up the Commonwealth actually – when things are good, the countries involved are very proud to be a part of it – like during cool sport stuff when we are united in admiring athletic prowess/athletic muscley people. When things are bad, we distance ourselves. I wouldn’t be surprised that, if the human rights lark gets heavily promoted at these games, some of the worst abusers will distance themselves a little from the organisation politically… I can’t see them all inviting John Barrowman over for teacakes anyway!

The same is true of Scotland and the referendum thing. When Team GB did well at the Olympics, there were probably people who thought “hey this UK thing is all right” but when Westminster’s fucked up again, they lean toward independence… I know the English do anyway. Could we do that? Could the UK get independence from the UK government?!

Right, I’m off to do some writing and my holiday ironing. I might get distracted by looking up Commonwealth Scotties… Never thought I’d go for a pedigree but they have beards.

The Six O’Clock News: Insert Story Here!

Usually the news is an hour or five late because I have life stuff on – it’s rarely written early and it’s never been a week and a day early. What the hell am I supposed to write about? For all I know, Current Me is typing this in normal life but by 18th July 2014, normal life may be over due to a terror attack or accident or excellent event (why can I never think of examples of good stuff?) and Future Me might be living like a Killjoy (or not living at all which is a really fucking depressing thought). I usually make a point of ignoring The Outside World when I’m on holiday because I spend roughly 350 days per year attached to the Internet and my only other time off is Christmas.

So let’s look back.

In 0064 AD, according to DatesInHistory.com, Rome burnt while Emperor Nero played the violin. In 1536 the Pope was officially, ah, outed by the English so Henry VIII could get married. In 1830 Uruguay adopted its first constitution. In 1925 the first edition of Mein Kampf was published and in 1951 Uruguay “accepted its constitution”…

Let’s assume today has been just as lovely! Apparently the football World Cup will have been over by then… what’s the next thing? The Euro cup? The Olympics?

Eh I think Frank’s new album is out in August.

The Six O’Clock News: Pizza on Flights, Unless You’re Prevented from Flying by a Faulty iPod, etc.

Presuming that I don’t have my electronics/right to fly removed, when you read this I will be either asleep or eating, which isn’t a huge difference to normal, although it will be a) eight o’clock where I am, and b) I won’t have a clue if it goes wrong because my one holiday rule is that I ignore the Internet. But I’m not ignoring you, right? I’ve rigged up some magic so you can read this!

Here is a fun travel story about a pilot who bought his passengers pizza when they were stuck on the plane for hours. Pretty sure there’s a Cabin Pressure joke to be made somewhere…

This isn’t news, and it’s too big to upload as a picture, but I think everybody needs to see Aeroplane Sleep Positions and contemplate the best way to keep comfy on a flight.

(There isn’t one.)