Toby Young in the Spectator explains why so many Brits get top jobs in the US media: because they are “ghastly knuckle-dragging troglodytes and, when it comes to man’s inhumanity to man, about as sentimental as a bog brush”. In a good way, obviously. Quote unquote:
You can get a sense of what American journalists’ priorities are from looking at a 96-page report that the New York Times has just produced about… the New York Times. I’m not talking about the words, obviously, which are far too boring to read, but the pictures. On page three of the report, there’s a photograph of the paper’s top brass gathered around a computer terminal, having just discovered that the Grey Lady has won yet another Pulitzer prize. The staff are gathered around them on the stairs — hundreds of them — and one of the editors is looking up and humbly applauding them: ‘Well done, folks. You knocked it out of the park… again.’
That’s what most American journalists care about — winning prizes that affirm just what noble tribunes of democracy they are. In Britain, we have less lofty ambitions. For us, it’s all about selling newspapers.
Edward St Aubyn’s novel Lost for Words, a satire on book prizes, has won a book prize, the 15th Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction. Quote unquote:
The prize for winning the award is a locally bred Old Spot Gloucestershire pig, and a selection of Bollinger champagne, which will be presented to St Aubyn at the Hay Festival on Saturday May 24.
The Telegraph review was less enthusiastic but found lots to admire. Quote unquote:
I wonder, for example, whether the retired spy-turned-thriller-writer who chaired the Booker panel in 2011 will read the bits about a civil servant who cranks out spy novels using a computer program called Ghost (you type “assassin” and it spits out “his eyes were cold narrow slits”) with an entirely quiet mind.
That retired spy-turned-thriller-writer would be Dame Stella Rimington, whom we met previously here in 2012.
Matt Nolan at TVHE expresses his views on the 2014 Budget. He is an actual economist so knows what he’s talking about. Quote unquote:
[Our] centre-right party is currently more focused on social inequities than both of our centre-left parties. I first realised this when Cunliffe took charge, and I said to Labour party supporters “why doesn’t he take on welfare/education instead of IT as his shadow portfolio, and focus on these outcomes” – they told me there was no votes in that, because people don’t really care and there wasn’t much need to do anything different to National. If that is the case, I don’t know what the left is offering other than industrial subsides – and I find those abhorrent, and a direct affront to social policy issues.
This is unnatural to me. I grew up in the 1990s, and had it ingrained in me that National was the party that reduced transfers to the most vulnerable, while Labour was the party who would go the other way. It is an illustration of how changeable actual political parties are.
A discussion at Tim Worstall’s blog about where the money goes in pop music, after Lily Allen complained about getting only ₤8000 for singing on an ad for retailer John Lewis. Tim rightly points out that songwriters make the dosh – Lennon and McCartney made more than Harrison and Starr, Jagger and Richards more than Wyman and Watts – but the comments, mostly informed, go further. Quote unquote from “Squander Two”:
As the KLF pointed out, music copyright law was written by white Europeans in the 19th century, so songwriting is legally 50% vocal melody, 50% lyrics; had it been written by black Americans in the 20th century, it would be 10% vocal melody, 10% lyrics, 80% groove, and Bo Diddley would have been one of the world’s richest men. Which he arguably deserved to be.
I met Bo Diddley in 1989. In Hollywood, on a movie set, just saying. He was nice – loomingly large, but nice. And so here he is, on 20 November 1955, on the Ed Sullivan Show, performing “Bo Diddley”: