Tag: BBC

Why did the Airbus A380 fail?

Friday, 15 February, 2019

That was the question posed yesterday by Daniel Thomas, “Business reporter, BBC News.” Despite typing more than a dozen paragraphs and providing two infographics, Daniel failed to deliver anything that resembled an answer. The truth, perhaps, is too unpalatable because the simple fact is that the Airbus A380, a prestige project of European state capitalism, couldn’t survive in the free market. That’s why it failed.

Airbus A380


When snowfalls were a thing of the past

Sunday, 13 January, 2019

On Friday, the BBC reported: “Snow brings parts of Europe to standstill.” The item was replete with images and video of the horror. If we are to believe the media now, snow is very much a thing of the present, but back in March 2000, the same industry was telling us a very different story: “Snowfalls are now just a thing of the past.” That’s what The Independent declared in a piece authored by one Charles Onians.

Why is there no link to the story? Because The Independnt removed it from its website due to the persistent gaiety that resulted from this classic example of #FakeNews. Still, the internet never forgets and here’s a PDF (2.78MB) of the infamous prediction. And what became of Charles Onians? Why, he’s the Rome correspondent @AFP. Which proves once more that there’s no business like snow business, eh?

Snow scam

Meanwhile, from our own correspondent in Munich, snow lodging on tables.

Snow in Munich 2019


Venezuela: The sadism of 21st century socialism

Saturday, 3 November, 2018

Apologists for the sadistic socialism now being lived out in Venezuela include Michael D. Higgins, Ireland’s cracked President; Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the crackpot US Democrat; Jeremy Corbyn, the sinister leader of the UK Labour Party and Oliver Stone, the deranged Hollywood director — “one of Latin America’s most dynamic countries.”

For them, and their many fellow travellers in academia, the media and the arts, this BBC report: “Venezuela crisis: Mothers giving away babies, children living on streets.”

“Extreme poverty has jumped 40%, deaths related to child malnutrition are on the rise, and millions have fled the country in the past two years… Mothers and children have been among those hit hardest, as the BBC’s Vladimir Hernandez found when he spent time in the capital, Caracas.”


Fifty Inventions That Shaped the Modern Economy

Thursday, 22 June, 2017 0 Comments

That’s the title of the new book by Tim Harford, best known to readers of the Financial Times as The Undercover Economist. True to elitist form, he conjures up pieces for that paper with intros like “Some things are best left to the technocrats: On any piece of policy, the typical voter does not understand what is at stake.”

The upcoming book is based on Harford’s BBC podcast 50 Things That Made the Modern Economy. One of them is the iPhone, and Harford trots out his typical take on its revolutionary impact thus: “Surprisingly, Uncle Sam played an essential role in the creation and development of the iPhone — of course, much has been written about the late Steve Jobs and other leading figures at Apple and their role in making the modern icon, and its subsequent impact on our lives. And rightfully so. But…”

But there’s always a “But…” However, here’s the blurb for Harford’s book, which will be published on 29 August:

“New ideas and inventions have woven, tangled or sliced right through the invisible economic web that surrounds us every day. From the bar code to double-entry bookkeeping, covering ideas as solid as concrete or as intangible as the limited liability company, this book not only shows us how new ideas come about, it also shows us their unintended consequences — for example, the gramophone introducing radically unequal pay in the music industry, or how the fridge shaped the politics of developing countries across the globe.”

Very Harfordian that, “…the gramophone introducing radically unequal pay in the music industry.” And it all began so harmoniously. In 1903, HMV in England made the first complete recording of an opera, Verdi’s Ernani, on 40 single-sided discs, and on 10 June 1924, George Gershwin recorded a shortened version of Rhapsody in Blue with Paul Whiteman and His Orchestra. It was released on two sides of Victor 55225 and ran for 8 minutes and 59 seconds. But as Tim Harford would say, “But…”

Rhapsody in Blue


Series of the Year: The Night Manager

Thursday, 22 December, 2016 0 Comments

In an age of sleeplessness and over-extended streamed series, The Night Manager manages to get in and out in six, 90-minute episodes. That’s a serious plus for the time constrained. This co-production by the BBC and AMC is a lavish update of a 1993 John Le Carré novel that feels a bit like James Bond meets Tom Ripley. In fact, Hugh Laurie meets Tom Hiddleston in the most picture-postcard parts of Egypt, Britain, Switzerland, Morocco, Spain and Turkey.

Laurie plays arms dealer Richard Roper, whose ability to fly beneath the radar has frustrated British intelligence agent Angela Burr (Olivia Coleman) for more than a decade. She’s obsessed with catching this Big Fish and her angler turns out to be Hiddleston as Jonathan Pine, the hotel night manager of the title.

Director Susanne Bier pans between the treacherous, charming Laurie and Hiddleston, a former soldier turned stylish night manager at upscale hotels. Elizabeth Debicki is the elegant American arm candy for Laurie’s character and her attraction to the attractive Hiddleston gives the storyline a needed touch of animality. Typically le Carré, the plot features elaborate conspiracies at almost every turn. Add in lots of drinking and you’ve got what’s needed to make The Night Manager our Series of the Year.

The Night Manager

“Promise to build a chap a house, he won’t believe you. Threaten to burn his place down, he’ll do what you tell him. Fact of life.” — Richard Roper, The Night Manager


Emmys for The Night Manager

Monday, 19 September, 2016 0 Comments

Good to see that Susanne Bier won the Best Directing award for The Night Manager at the Emmys in Los Angeles last night. It beat out HBO’s All the Way, directed by Jay Roach; Fargo, directed by Noah Hawley and The People v. O.J. Simpson directed by Ryan Murphy. At last weekend’s Creative Arts Awards portion of the Emmys, composer Victor Reyes picked up the Outstanding Music Composition award for The Night Manager.

“It’s a very rare thing, Jonathan Pine, for me to trust a person, but you were special. You were from the first moment I saw you. Saved my son, risked your life. Should’ve known something was wrong.” — Richard Roper

“Promise to build a chap a house, he won’t believe you. Threaten to burn his place down, he’ll do what you tell him. Fact of life.” — Richard Roper


Post of the Year

Monday, 21 December, 2015 0 Comments

On 10 November, BBC Sport reported: “Eleven-time Flat racing champion jockey Pat Eddery has died at the age of 63. Eddery, who rode more than 4,600 winners and won 14 British classics in a 36-year career, is regarded as one of the greatest jockeys of all time.”

The report went on to note: “Ireland-born Eddery, who retired in 2003 and was awarded an OBE in 2005, had been suffering from ill health.” That “ill health”, while a statement of fact, was also a term of discretion. Out of respect for the dead and, perhaps, for the sensitivities of an industry that has a special sponsorship culture, there was no further elaboration.

The world didn’t have to wait long for an explanation, however, and when it came it was especially moving because of its honesty. “Filled with grief this morning that my dad Pat Eddery is no longer here,” wrote Natasha Eddery, and she named the culprit: alcohol. She hadn’t seen her father in five years, she confessed in her Instagram post:

“…we stayed in touch and spoke on the phone, I never missed a birthday etc and not a day went by when I didn’t think about him. The last time I saw him face to face was when I brought him home from rehab and he drank straight away. I turned to him and said ‘dad if you choose to drink over health and family, I can’t be part of that life for you.’ Sadly his addiction was too strong and he couldn’t overcome it.”

Pat Eddery

Pat Eddery came from a country with a long history of alcohol abuse and it was not his fault that he couldn’t free himself from this destructive legacy. It was his good fortune to be part of a business that helped make him a winner; it was his misfortune that the same business fosters a fatal attraction. Natasha Eddery receives the Rainy Day Post of the Year award for declaring her love of her father and for naming the disease that destroyed him.

Tomorrow, here, the Object of the Year.


L’immobilisme is destabilizing France

Thursday, 6 November, 2014 0 Comments

“As the Hollande presidency stumbles past its half-way point, it is hard to overstate the depths of pessimism in the country.” So writes the BBC’s Hugh Schofield in a grim piece titled “French ‘mess’ threatens real civil strife.” The cause of the latest bout of l’immobilisme is “a melange of incompetence, powerlessness, timidity and indecision to which the country’s government has fallen prey.”

The hapless Hollande brings out the Churchillian in Schofield’s prose: “The president makes a boast of being ‘normal’, when the times require exception. He invites ridicule, when France needs someone of stature. He vacillates, when France looks for steel.” Tonight, in an “interview exceptionnelle” at prime time on TF1, Hollande will face the nation, but Atlantico is convinced that nothing will change — until everything changes.


Democracy defined

Monday, 5 May, 2014 0 Comments

Jonathan Dimbleby attends a party in St Petersburg and discovers that the concept of “democracy” is not very well rooted there. But what is democracy. In 1943, when democracy was under threat, E.B. White attempted to define it for readers of the New Yorker. Snippet: “Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time. It is the feeling of privacy in the voting booths, the feeling of communion in the libraries, the feeling of vitality everywhere. Democracy is a letter to the editor.”


Journalist of the day: Kenneth Williams

Thursday, 10 April, 2014 0 Comments

The English actor and comedian Kenneth Williams was one of the main characters in the popular Carry On films. He lived alone and had few friends apart from his mother, and no significant romantic relationships, but his journals contain references to homosexual liaisons, which he describes as “traditional matters.” His last words in his diary were “Oh, what’s the bloody point?” The cause of death was an overdose of barbiturates.

10 April 1966: “Michael C. [Codron] told me this story about Lady Dorothy Macmillan saying to Mme. de Gaulle at the Elysée Palace. ‘Now that your husband has achieved so much, is there any particular wish, any desire you have for the future?’ and Madame replied, ‘Yes — a penis.’ Whereupon Gen. de Gaulle leaned over and said, ‘No, my dear, in English it is pronounced Happiness.'” Kenneth Williams (1926 — 1988)

Tomorrow, here, we end our week of journal entries with one that documents what happened when Lenin spent a night beside his mother-in-law’s death bed.


Israel and apartheid: The asinine Nigel Kennedy should stick to fiddling

Friday, 9 August, 2013 12 Comments

“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s a bit facile to say it, but we all know from experience in this night of music tonight that, given equality, and getting rid of apartheid, gives beautiful chance for amazing things to happen.” So spoke the British violin virtuoso Nigel Kennedy at the Royal Albert Hall last night, following a performance of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons by the Palestine Strings, the Nigel Kennedy Quintet and Kennedy’s Orchestra of Life. The most repellent thing about Kennedy’s use of the word “apartheid” is that it was amplified and blessed by the BBC in its broadcast of this Proms concert. It would be too much, perhaps, to expect Kennedy to understand that unlike the racist South African apartheid laws, Israeli law guarantees Arab citizens the same rights as other Israelis.

Although vocal on Israel and its failings, Nigel Kennedy, like most “artists”, has been silent on Syria and its savagery. Apparently, no amount of butchery there can provoke a comment or a concert from those devoted to enhancing our cultural life. Still, it would be nice if Kennedy and his ilk were to comment on today’s Independent news story, headlined: “‘I lost consciousness in the blast. When I woke up I was in a hospital in Israel’: Casualties of Syria’s war find salvation in an unlikely place.” But because this does not fit the facetious “apartheid” narrative, an artistic response cannot be expected any time soon.

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