Tuesday, March 31, 2009


What do you think of the BBC? There is a whole website devoted to picking holes in its daily output and certainly some of the barbs are true. The BBC news and current affairs output is consistently pro-Palestinian, anti-Israel; pro-Europe, anti-American; pro-left, anti-right; pro-global warming, anti-warming sceptics; pro-Muslim, anti-Christian; pro-Republican, anti-Loyalist; pro-multiculturalism, anti-British; pro-gay/Lesbian/transsexual, anti-conservative life style; pro-EU, anti-UKIP. Recent documents released under the 30-year rule have demonstrated that the BBC played a significant part in the undermining of the Shah of Iran and in hastening the Khomeni revolution. Even when the British electorate so keenly wants to get rid of Gordon Brown and the whole of Nu-Labor, the BBC persists on trying to make the ruling party look good while trying to besmirch the Conservative Party.

However, I have noticed that even Alan Sullivan over at Fresh Bilge, whose conservatism doesn't differ much from my own, often turns to the BBC for news items that are simply not carried by the American media.

There are some things that the BBC does exceedingly well. I might mention period drama such as the recent 'Cranford', 'Bleak House' and 'Little Dorrit'. The output of the Wild-life center at Bristol is also impressive. The photography of documentaries like 'Blue Planet' and 'Alien Empire' presented by David Attenborough is worth getting Blu-ray for. (The effect is spoiled by the specious pro-evolution commentaries). The output of the main television channels is junk, of course, but that is true for most television anyway. Radio programs are better and downloadable as podcasts. I recommend looking at their selection.

This morning my son sent me a link to a series of articles on statistics by Michael Blastland that are worth a second look. They are a remedy for all the hype you read in the newspapers and watch on the news. Take this remarkable fact. Headline figures for GDP are usually wrong. The true state of the economy is not established for three years, when the tax returns are analyzed. In the UK the first figure is almost always too pessimistic whereas in the USA it is mostly over-optimistic. A recession is defined by two three month periods when there is negative growth (or shrinkage) in the economy. Who knows, when the final figures come in we may not even be in a recession.

There is a great deal of hype surrounding the current economic circumstances. Reading Micahel Blandford will probably set your mind at rest over all sorts of stuff you see in the newspapers. Statistics matter, but don't trust anyone other than a statistician making an argument from them. All politicians are liars, they can't help themselves. Journalists prefer a story to the truth. Salesmen want a sale. Businessmen want a profit.

The other thing the BBC does is "The Archers". Giving up "The Archers" is like giving up smoking. You can go for years without them, then just a single puff and you're hooked again.


Burke said...

"All politicians are liars, they can't help themselves. Journalists prefer a story to the truth. Salesmen want a sale. Businessmen want a profit."

Isn't this evident only for those who think short term and without looking at all the consequences?

Looked at another way, is it really in one's self-interest to live a life of crime, even if he's able to avoid prosecution and conviction?

Aren't such people giving up the personal and psychological benefits of just being honest with others?

Can, say, an unfaithful husband really have a full and satisfying relationship with his wife, even if he is never found out?

Terry Hamblin said...

I was of course using hyperbole, but you pose an interesting question. I think that politicians are short-termists because of the need to be re-elected. Journalists are few in number who are so secure that they can write for the long term rather than for the moment. Wanting a sale and wanting a profit are legitate ideals in those particular job - unfortunately the more ruthless members of these communities tend to prosper. America locks up more people per head of population than any other country. It tell us that the harder you look for criminals the more you find. Few indeed are people like you who gain psychological ease from being honest. The number of adulterers in the world gives evidence that most people are able to compartmentalise their little pecadillos and keep them walled up from the scrutiny of their conciences.

Burke said...

"America locks up more people per head of population than any other country."

I know a good deal about this. The main problem here is the drug laws, which make criminals out of people who use drugs and who commit other crimes in order to get money to buy them at prices made high because of their illegality.

But that's just part of it. Look at the problems in places like Mexico, Afghanistan, and Columbia, where they don't have stable governments or economies because there is so much money to be made in the illegal drug trade.

The fact is that if people want to kill themselves with drugs, they will do it--and drag the rest of the world down with them.

The War On Drugs here is Prohibition a billion times worse.

Terry Hamblin said...

War on drugs was the private war of FBI chief, Hoover.