We few, we happy few … bloggers vs. The Guardian (which has a lesson to learn from computer geeks)

Old Media contemplating the leap into the New (Huma Mulji's 'High Rise'; Ozier Muhammad)

Old Media contemplating the leap into the New (Huma Mulji's 'High Rise'; Ozier Muhammad)


Dear Comrades
, including those of you who once blogged with me on the books site of The Guardian – whether or not we’re still on speaking terms,

…The signs point to a victory over Goliath. . . Yes, we few, we happy band of bloggers … have won, by refusing to let that newspaper shut us up — behaving just like Tony Benn resisting the BBC’s attempt to silence him in this riveting clip @Hazlitt posted here.

The incontrovertible proof of our triumph? That the moderators on that site can no longer openly ban us.

Because they couldn’t ban for instance, me, in the last half of August, they stooped to imitating Richard Nixon’s Dirty Tricks Department – remember Watergate? — to keep me out.

Why? Because we have taught the Guardian’s managers that a banned blogger quickly becomes a cause célèbre – not least because this site, with one or two others, initiated a tradition of publishing any comments censored by the newspaper’s trigger-happy moderators. (see Salvage Operation, part 1 and part 2.)

It would have been hard for The Guardian to ban me outright. Far from attacking or abusing anyone in my only two attempts at posting there as @wordnerd7 since last winter, I wrote a comment praising a piece on the newspaper’s site.

Before I tidy all that out of sight — and to ensure that the newspaper’s editors will never be able to dismiss the incidents as paranoid and imaginary — I’m summarising the sequence of happenings in this spot. On August 22, I had an automated message informing me that a comment warmly supporting an article by Aaron Akinyemi on the books blog had been siphoned off into ‘pre-moderation’. While I waited, mystified and with misgivings, I pasted in a draft of that comment on this site. On August 26, four days after it disappeared into the bowels of the online Guardian, it reappeared heavily edited – with links to two articles on this site agreeing with Aaron’s argument lopped off. Sentences of mine were slyly inserted under the screen name ‘@wordnerd’ – and not ‘@wordnerd7’, as they should have been. At the bottom of the butchered comment, a remark addressed to ‘@nuges’ was added to my words – a remark never made by me.

When I saw that on August 27, I immediately wrote a new comment, protesting about the censoring, blatant distortion and additions to my original comment — asking the Guardian’s moderators for an explanation. This attempt at posting also vanished into pre-moderation, never to be seen again. I put an exact replica of that post here.

Another wait. Then, on August 28, a comment of which I never wrote a single line appeared in the Akinyemi thread under ‘@wordnerd’. The post attributed to me amounts to a simple-minded and crass statement about racial differences at the furthest extreme from my own beliefs (……………as anyone interested will discover in reading these threads: Will Barack Obama bring back heroism? and A bit more on heroes: Barack Obama’s odyssey, part 2)

Just to be perfectly clear about what must be obvious, The Guardian has never answered my question about why the first post was censored and doctored – and it prevented my enquiry from ever appearing on its site. (I have a copy of the second pre-moderation notice.)

So that’s what I mean by ‘dirty tricks’, and I’m creating this careful record of the incidents for anyone else who might encounter the same behaviour by the authorities responsible for that site.

Now this, mark you, is a newspaper that has a whole segment of its website labelled Liberty Central, advertising the image it likes to project – and can sometimes justify, in other spheres – as a friend of freedom and the oppressed.

As I pointed out at the time, it’s clear that The Guardian is severely rattled by bloggers questioning its authority with substantive objections. There is other – constructive and heartening — proof of our arrows finding their mark. Over the last few weeks, there have been several articles on the Guardian’s books blog objecting to the commercialisation of book publishing – for instance, this one about promotional author-videos and another about Margaret Atwood.

They make a striking contrast with the prevailing opinion of the editors on that site two years ago, when they ran piece after piece endorsing book publishing’s increasing dominance by marketing executives (at the expense of literary quality) – starting with one titled Selling Yourself as a Writer. As recently as last November, strong – but politely worded — objections to that unbridled philistinism were deleted by Guardian moderators.

An entry in this blog spelling out those objections in detail seems to have been heeded: Since when was a newspaper strictly a mercantilist tool?

In effectively banning me in late August, though, the authorities concerned appeared to have had a fit of acute irrationality – spiced with malice.

Arbitrary and punishing authoritarianism is out of temper with the times, dear Guardian. We know how difficult it must be for Old Media to adjust to online publishing, which needs new rules for all sorts of processes and procedures, including the correction of errors, as I demonstrated last month.

Look to the technocrats who gave us these magnificent new communication tools to see how you should be making every facet of your modus operandi more egalitarian. Power structures are flattening out. You don’t seem to have noticed, but they aren’t shaped like pyramids any more. Last March, Scott Rosenberg, who has just published a history of blogging, Say Everything, received a grant of $335,000 from the American Knight Foundation to explore a system for correcting errors in the media that mimics the cheerfully collaborative spirit in which coders of open-source software have debugged each other’s work for decades.

Instead of getting huffy and defensive about the mistakes they make when these are pointed out by readers, in Rosenberg’s vision, newspapers and other media will respond with a collegial graciousness. As he has explained, about his test site:

We’re a place on the Web (independent and not-for-profit) where you can bring specific errors, issues and problems you’ve found in media coverage in your community and try to get them fixed.

[…]

Q: Why should I bother?

A: Because you know that good public information is the lifeblood of democracy. And that journalists are human beings who sometimes make mistakes. And that they work for institutions that don’t always respond to criticism. Instead of posting an angry rant on your blog or just shrugging your shoulders, MediaBugs will give you and those journalists a chance to have civil exchanges about the inevitable errors and problems that crop up in their work.

… As for my fellow-bloggers, with whom I began. Make sure that you have your own blog. I’d have been beside myself if I’d had no way to expose the behaviour of the Guardian’s moderators over the last two weeks. Get your own site, and think hard about commenting on newspaper articles there, not on the newspapers’ sites – to ensure that you will always own the words you write, and can make up your own rules about what you can and can’t say.

Withhold your clicks from their sites, if necessary, and put your weight behind the thrilling new democracy that the new communication technologies have brought us. And do not doubt for a second that our words are being read where it matters.

. . . We few, we happy few, we band of bloggers;
For we today who save our clicks for freedom
Shall e’er be comrades; be we ne’er so vile
Our band shall speed the media revolution:
And Grauniad moderators in their cups
Shall cry themselves a river they were so foul,
And took for monkeys commenters loyal and fair
Who looked for thanks and justice, all in vain.

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50 Comments

Filed under Book publishing, Censorship, Editors and editing, The blogosphere, The Guardian, Visual art & artists

50 responses to “We few, we happy few … bloggers vs. The Guardian (which has a lesson to learn from computer geeks)

  1. An ideal footnote to this entry in the blog — written for another site by someone posting here as, I think, @Desmond Swords … It’s a proposal for a discussion leader to share her Old Media public poetry platform with her loyal and enthusiastic commenters, from time to time.

    OhGodNotHimAgain

    06 Sep 09, 1:45am

    . many ideas there are floating in our heads: […]
    One idea would be to have published and unpublished guest presenters, introducing in 400 words or less, a favourite poem – with Carol introducing the weekly poster of that weeks piece.

    It is a fair idea, not totally stupid or unreasonable to propose, as a possible scenario for upping – not only readers but – participants, here, on potw where some of the most committed practitioners of the mad mad art, are singing their hearts out to a post-cold war world. Alternate the seat, between anonymous and known, drawing from a list, of colleagues and anyone who wants a go at telling the world, what a favourite poem is, in less than 400 words.

    The form is all there, and perfectly balanced. Carol gets to stay top, running the ship, of a whole new and inclusive, never before been experiment of post-noughtie poem of the week.

    Imagine it.

    Another idea, would be to start an interview thread, of poets willing to speak of what it is they do: in the casual blog-way of free exchange; self-regulating scene we could turn into a place to be read, a coming together of all in the poetic spectrum, where the hobbyist and professor can meet on equal terms, as blogging human beings with an interest in ditties.

    Imagine that.

    o Recommend? (4)
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    What an excellent suggestion, Des.

  2. Hi,
    I’ve been off the radar for a while with various family things and now busy writing up the first draft of novel 2. I just read your ‘to do’ with the Guardian Blog with disbelief. The fact that ‘Black Shoes ‘ is self-published is interesting. Stereo-typing of races and the Euro-centric obsession of publishers continues.More authors from every section of society also need to contribute to the mainstream and challenge such a status quo.It is a shame that you were misquoted, censored and misrepresented by such a prestigious newpaper.

  3. ==== It is a shame that you were misquoted, censored and misrepresented by such a prestigious newpaper. ===

    My thoughts too, @Leela – precisely. I’ve been chilled to the marrow by the implications of such a paper doing what you only read about in reports about the worst police states – the attribution to dissenters of statements wholly fabricated by authorities or their minions.

    And what if such newspapers were all we had to alert us to our own government’s surveillance tactics, invasions of privacy, and other instruments of control and repression? The Guardian certainly wouldn’t have a leg to stand on, protesting about anything of the kind. . . . Think of its editors trying to confront dictatorships repressing, torturing and killing people when they can’t tolerate free speech on relatively minor matters themselves. . . and in the land of Magna Carta.

    I’d be as interested as you are to learn that paper’s reasons for deleting links to blog entries bolstering Aaron Akinyemi’s argument about Black Shoes.

    About book publishing, … I’d suggest that ethno-centricity is one facet of the larger problem of accommodating outsiders and new perspectives of every kind. Both in London and New York, the most striking feature of publishing has been a cosy insularity, which made its managers lazy and unimaginative – as you can see in this clip from a recent interview in which a former head of Simon and Schuster says,

    === When I grew up in publishing in the 1970s, the process and the tools were relatively simple. Marketing worked like this: whatever book that Doubleday Bookstore chose to feature in its Fifth Avenue store window (now Prada) usually became a best seller. The Book of the Month Club judges — the Simon Cowells of their day — selected what they considered the very best. We were a small community of authors, editors and agents, …

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/06/jobs/06pre.html ===

    Now the Blogosphere is challenging the complacency of the people in those small communities. Those who have climbed the ladder to the top in the usual way – usually with connections sparing them any great struggle – are hostile and defensive. They are furious with persistent questioners of their decisions who are complete outsiders, or people with insider-outsider status, like me. . . In the case of the Guardian, its smear tactics are destroying the last few shreds of credibility it had left.

    … Sorry for this slow reply. Six hours on the road separate me from the last place from which I posted here. . . Still haven’t got around to ordering your book – but I can truthfully say I’ve had no time for any other novel, either.

  4. … About the links deleted by The Guardian — to discussions here of what Obama’s victory might mean (see the main post, above) … One of the strangest aspects of those debates was the commenters undisturbed by one blogger’s insistence that since Obama – as she saw him — couldn’t possibly be the man of refined literary and cultural tastes his autobiography described, he must have a secret yearning to be ‘ghetto-fabulous’. . . He had just two choices: to be (a) a man of high culture; (b) someone longing to trick himself out in bling and keep company with pimps and gangsters.

    A few weeks ago, I came across this article by a first-rate analyst of cultural trends, Kurt Andersen … Pop Culture in the Age of Obama. It shows Obama readily naming what he loves in the pop scene – including The Godfather films … a far cry from a pretentious cultural snob:

    And then there’s Obama the tasteful pop-culture-consuming American, redefining presidential regular-guyness. On his iPod, Obama says, are “probably 30 Dylan songs,” “African dance music,” “Javanese flute music,” Yo-Yo Ma, Howl­in’ Wolf, John Coltrane, Jay-Z, Frank Sinatra and Sheryl Crow. Having admitted getting high as a young man, as president he met with the Grateful Dead. The first movie he watched in the White House was “Slumdog Millionaire.” He doesn’t just name-check, but convincingly declaims — he prefers Spider-Man and Batman to Superman because “they have some inner turmoil.” And — crucially — he’s even acute and impolitic enough to discriminate between quality and crud: his favorite movies are the first two “Godfather” films, but he acknowledges the inferiority of “Godfather III” and says his wife “likes ‘American Idol,’ her and the girls, in a way that I don’t entirely get.” Yet the democratic spectacle of “American Idol” is of a piece with Obamaism, of course, given that the show is all about the excitement of watching a telegenic, talented nobody transformed by national referendum into a celebrity.

  5. Pingback: Is blogging together being like Iceland? « acciaccature

  6. antiphonsgarden

    Thank you for your comment and response.
    I had a little walk on the blogs and saw people of very different mindset complaining about the abusive behaviour of moderation. I might not agree with some about their fundus, and to some I would say, stop using moderation “report abuse” as manipulative lobby tool yourself, but I would agree that all get publish, because I believe that the open discourse is far nearer to citizen democracy than a bunch of cafe late kids plotting to push in “their” specific agendas and mock those “non fitting” their narrow mind frame as “trolls”.It is very clear that the enormous amount of supporters some article writers get are as artificial in breaded as cloned tomatoes on “ingroup” fertilizer jelly.The mobbing rage this territory markers can develop against someone contradicting their petty games is of great intellectual immaturity, and devastating all the comments written over a long period just for the zest of an arrogant attitude of illusionary superiority, reminds too sadly book burning dictatures of “good taste”. Thank you all, willing to think further than the career plan of few.The cynicism of a “comment is free” where one has to avoid writing on pages like “what do want to say”,
    is typical to a state with 3 neoliberal partys pleased by a bunch of neostalinist punishing nannys.
    You, over there, pick up your bubblegum paper from the street, use the scissor in your head,
    the epigenetic of the traumatising finger pointing Cromwellian era is still burning witches and non believers in the gracious war machine for the “good cause”.

  7. Delicious stuff, @antiphonsgarden:

    The cynicism of a “comment is free” where one has to avoid writing on pages like “what do want to say”,
    is typical to a state with 3 neoliberal partys pleased by a bunch of neostalinist punishing nannys.

    ….. [ my ital. ]

    ; )

    … And yours is a clever screen name — responsible for a rewarding trip to Dictionary.com …:

    an·ti·phon
       /ˈæntəˌfɒn/ Show Spelled[an-tuh-fon] Show IPA
    –noun
    1.
    a verse or song to be chanted or sung in response.
    2.
    Ecclesiastical.
    a.
    a psalm, hymn, or prayer sung in alternate parts.
    b.
    a verse or a series of verses sung as a prelude or conclusion to some part of the service.

    Origin:
    1490–1500; < ML antiphōna responsive singing < Gk (tà) antíphōna, neut. pl. of antíphōnos sounding in answer, equiv. to anti- anti- + phōn(ḗ) sound + -os adj. suffix. Cf. anthem

  8. antiphonsgarden

    Not to forget the philosopher :
    http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antiphon
    (sorry, found him only in french, I am multilanguaged and dyslexic in all!)

    I consider him, far earlier than Freud as an early describer of a psychotherapeutic situation, and it has been a great eye opener to me, to discover the presocratics who too often gets disminished after 2500 years of neolplatonist division of the human from his own nature, for the sake of privileges and “higher aim”.They are far nearer to our actual needs to heal the mess, this “good/bad””higher/lower”,”soul/animal” division has created in and around us.

  9. Wonderfully mysterious etymology, @antiphonsgarden – since the word apparently breaks down into 15th-century ecclesiastical Latin … ‘anti-phonarium’ – with no mention of your old Greek woolgatherer, as far as I can tell, .. so far. … But since these some of those ecclesiastics would have known about him, could there really have been no connection?

    What do you think Antiphon cultivated in his garden?

  10. antiphonsgarden

    Considering Plato did his best to eradicate each memory of the presocratics, and the monotheist patriarchal religions are based on his inner division, it is clear that the flower of liberty through dialogue, antiphon cultivated, got shadowed for century.

    I am thankful to :
    http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michel_Onfray
    For his summer lectures at :
    http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/France_culture
    to have highlighted all the “hidden philosophers”
    (even if I don’t agree mostly with him on his vision of Freud, but that is another topic.).

    I was hearing about these antic Greek philosophers as I was caring for my mother who had Alzheimer up to her death at home. It was terribly hot, I had a friend in the Irak war and was exhausted. This daily bites of wonderful insights
    helped me to survive this phase with hope.

    In France, all children with in the last 2 class till the baccalaureat still learn philosophy, means even the future plumber, doctor or housewife.That makes many of us to a bunch questioning the parameters.

  11. antiphon however it appears that once again support for the Front National is growing in France which either means the philosophy learnt is encouraging a kind of nihilistic paralysis in many or that what’s learnt isn’t getting through.

    I’d usually consider the UK to be a less civilised country than France however it’s to the population’s huge credit that in the last general election the far right didn’t get a single MP in parliament. Unfortunately with the current coalition government in power we are about to return to a nanny-knows-best vindictive austerity favouring business men above all else but at least, for the moment, the far right have been told what the public thinks of them.

  12. I was hearing about these antic Greek philosophers as I was caring for my mother who had Alzheimer up to her death at home. It was terribly hot, I had a friend in the Irak war and was exhausted. This daily bites of wonderful insights
    helped me to survive this phase with hope.

    Ah. I understand this perfectly, @antiphon. . . Makes you laugh, doesn’t it, at all the super-practical, super-pragmatic types who rave about the uselessness of philosophy. But life would be intolerable without its consolations.

    In France, all children with in the last 2 class till the baccalaureat still learn philosophy, means even the future plumber, doctor or housewife.That makes many of us to a bunch questioning the parameters.

    I didn’t know that, but yes, that explains the quality of conversation with people of every kind in Paris.. . even the ‘faux’-philosophers, yes? : )

    Please forgive me for not being able to follow your links, at present, or say much more than this. . . An excessively action-packed week, … which the wonderful talk here will help me survive. Better replies after Friday, I hope …

  13. antiphonsgarden

    Dear new blog friends,(if I might be allowed to call you so!),
    I just put the links there, not a “must see” but optional if someone wants to know more and by hazard speaks French.So, no hurry.
    The most who vote FN are old rancid complexity phobic people and recycled right skinheads.Many of these people drooped school early and their “philosophy” is mostly mindless projection of the undigested Petain France .I think these kind of people exist everywhere on the planet. My mother was active in the resistance, and gave me the idea, that how desperate the situation looks like, going for the own values matters. I heard that philosophy is now introduced in some French kindergarten in a playful way, the kids loves it.
    I don’t say France is a paradise, but I prefer a country where people rant openly controversy and still have critical media (mister bling-bling wants to bring under his almighty thumb “!), to a country where seriousness rhymes with Cromwellian “keep quiet and stay in line”mannerism and the city reigns that much that strikes or work abuses don’t get even mentioned .I am not nationalist, I went to an international school, have study and lived in different country, come from a pilgrim tribe and my heart beats “human”first. I simply enjoy and fight to preserve the rest liberty, we seem to have still partially saved here , its still visible that the pseudo “successful” neoliberal “way of death” has not swallow completely our “art de vivre”.

  14. @antiphonsgarden, … You couldn’t be more welcome here, and this blog is honoured to have a visitor whose mother served in the Maquis. … You are also brave. Your willingness to engage in conversations on a blog in a foreign language – and maintain a site of your own in English – puts relatively unadventurous English speakers like me to shame. : ( … … As I can almost smell the Boulevard Saint-Germain in your posts (never mind if you are actually in Lyons or Beaune), you are saving me the price of an airline ticket to Paris.

    Like @Edward, I was very pleased with the message Britain sent the lunatic fringe in the election – proving that it is exactly that. . . . I hope that you are right about your surmise about a relatively uneducated minority infected with Petainisme, but because of what @Edward hasn’t mentioned – that France is only one of several European countries with xenophobia on the rise – am afraid that you might be mistaken. . . What did you make of the analysis in France blaming the immigrant team members for your World Cup defeat? It astonished me, and was the first sign I’ve seen of apparently increasing alienation – since team sports are usually a country’s greatest hope for building unity … yes?

    … On aristocrats, … the code is indeed a fine one, but few people able to claim aristocratic pedigrees are able to live up to it, alas. As I read your words, I thought of that film of the late 1990s, Ridicule, which so disgusted me that I had to stop watching it halfway through and was reminded of why next Wednesday is such an important day in world history. . . And then your mention of nouveaux riches made me think of the appalling Bordelais in Mauriac’s marvellous Preseances – are you a fan of that book?

    Many thanks, also, for telling us about Michel Onfray. . . It’s close to tragic that we don’t know – or at least, I certainly don’t – that France has bestselling writers of his calibre. . . A bit of hedonism would be alright. But I fear that I could never make a good anarchist – being passionately fond of quiet, if not silence … and my impression of anarchists is that they are rather noisy beasts. : ) … I was particularly impressed to learn about him using some of his wealth to finance the Université Populaire. I have known come across very rich people on the extreme left in Britain, and listening to them rant and rave, have found myself thinking, ‘But when are you going to give away some of _your_ pile to the downtrodden?’

  15. Dear acacciatura

    I read each of your answer, in the way they appear at my comments list (meticulous me!).
    I think, that the discourse in France is simply not broomed under the hypocritical “political correct”carpet, what I consider as a sign of a more vivid participative democracy not afraid of his own controversy. The old say, Italians are the charmers, French are the ranters might be true, but its reassuring to me that people say what they think, instead of pretending “its all right!”in a extreme class society.
    Over here the hottest discussion might end together at a shared meal, and I know some “right winger” who just welcomed some asian stepdaughter and arabian origin French as stepson for his two kids. le coeur a ces raisons….!
    My mother (later art professor, and artist) engaged very young into the resistance and was beside other activities passing people from Paris to her cousins , who brought them over the pyrenees. She fought also actively in the liberation of Paris. She neglected each medal & honour after as she found this kind of things would hang on too many pompous breasts already. She was befriended with Boris Vian, Camus, Sarte and Simone de Beauvoir, to name few you might know, and was quiet a “character”.
    My bunch is quiet eclectic , but I think, we have a good taste in friendship (just asking myself if grandfather s affair with Kiki can be count as such,…his friendship with Stefan Zweig for sure!).
    After few kings and manouches (gypsy’s) in the family ( grandmother line) and a bag full of determinate stubborn ancestors , history appears a bit like a family story.
    The good thing, I feel totally free of any hierarchy consideration( the view behind the mountain!) , and by that liberated from social class considerations beside a bit of past glory decadent self ironic snobbery. My sense of values is more related to the inner quality of my co-humans. I wished the new riches would figure out that real luxus is “something else” than their quiet poor game.I don’t mind being considered as anarcho aristo, even if labels are…reductive. Michel Onfray s father was Farmworker if I remember well, and he is a real gentlemen in my eyes.
    I think, what truly matters is the “aristocracie du coeur” who is not bound to anything else, than the own attempt to be truly human amongst humans.
    The champagne pseudo labour have mocked the hopes of many and have create only more gobetween nepotist poseurs, who than voted torie to belong to the real clicque, or neolib, to still pretend whatever. All this people, everywhere, stinks the fat cat pleasing lobby careerists.
    A bunch of very bad overpaid actors (the last “summet” was a rare moment of a sad show filled with empty noises and coached touch&smiles).
    Its time to think in other therms than party appartchi-chics.Direct democracy is possible.
    Sorry, if my text was a bit long!VIVE L HUMAIN!
    and warm greetings from “the Loire “, the garden of France.

  16. The Englishman on my side, just corrected me, so I know, when I wrote quiet I meant quite.
    I have not read this book of Mauriac, one more on the list. The film “ridicule” should be a better introduction in some petty mocking games (instead of that horrible petitfour filled Sophia C. fantasy) of few “in” people from the guard, who as I could experience are delighted in such “end of reign” games.I might be a dandy, but for sure not “exclusive”. I guess some of the new lot in “power” will have to experience the guillotine of a crashing economical system to gain a bit of “post everything” humour, at least we wear since then our heads out of politeness under the arm, and looking down the nose is very difficult that way.
    When ever you get a ticket and succeed to find us in the middle of nowhere, you are warmly welcomed in my humble nest.

  17. @antiphonsgarden, thank you for this wonderful image:

    === at least we wear since then our heads out of politeness under the arm, and looking down the nose is very difficult that way. ===

    : )

    You also said,

    === I don’t say France is a paradise, but I prefer a country where people rant openly controversy and still have critical media (mister bling-bling wants to bring under his almighty thumb “!) ===

    … but then, idly browsing on a newspaper site a few hours ago, I found this:

    === Mr. Bonnet said the financial dependency of the French press had instilled a culture of caution, creating a journalistic void. First, that was filled by alternative publications like the satirical weekly Le Canard Enchainé, and now, by Web sites like Mediapart.

    “The written press in France is in a terrible crisis,” he said. “It doesn’t take risks anymore in terms of journalism.” ===

    === These sites frequently scoop newspapers, television and other news media in France, […] That distinguishes France from other European countries, where the mainstream media still break most of the big news stories. When a scandal over parliamentarians’ expenses rocked Britain last year, for instance, the reports appeared in a newspaper, The Daily Telegraph.

    “It’s a sign of the weakness of the traditional media in France,” Mr. Haski said. “If you look around Europe, there’s no other country where sites like ours have emerged.” ===

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/09/business/global/09mediapart.html?src=busln&pagewanted=all

    What do you make of all that? …. The article is mainly about a hugely successful startup, a French news website that is actually able to charge for access – unlike its counterparts in the English-speaking world.

    … Just this short reply for the moment. I was going to answer other parts of your comments when I caught sight of that report. I know that it contains at least one factual error. The MPs’ expenses scandal was the revelation — after years of hard digging — of a freelance journalist. The Telegraph simply followed in the trail she had hacked out. I am sure that the Westminster specialists on that paper and all the others would have continued to ignore the story under their noses if she hadn’t come along.

  18. … Oh, I nearly forgot two other links that might interest you.

    There was this good discussion of the Comment-is-(really not)-free site on another blog I like to visit, run by someone called @olching: https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=2280164525129068686&postID=7460470965466328864

    And I feel sure that @Edward would be pleased to have a real gardener’s reaction to this trailer video for one of his shows … <em>Compost Mentis.

    … and thank you so much for your très gentil et doux invitation … === find us in the middle of nowhere,=== … Not, by any chance, a house mentioned by a certain A. Fournier?

  19. How intuitive you are, not far from his “chemins de travers”. A bit more south, and you would find the echos of George Sand and her cercle d amis.

    Yes, its a strange French paradox, that the media/Press is so under “impact”, but on the other side, a person crossing through different informations can figure out few things . I enjoy ARTE TV often, and listen to Radio France(France culture, France musique) where the battle of empowerment is just happening. But, I trust deeply in the French “frondeur” mentality, who tends to react even less “well adapted” the more some try to control the opinion.Right now, the government tries to play the Bettoncourt story down, acting out the offended card, during this, a large majority of citizen considers the most politicians as a corrupt specie and the mockery’s about their games are not easy repressed .
    the story of :
    http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/St%C3%A9phane_Guillon
    shows that the media are “under pressure”, but at the same time, the more pressure, the more courageous active ironic solidarity of colleagues, healthy reaction instead of bending down in fear of own disadvantages for the own career).
    Those who in other country’s ends reaching down the “austerity meme”, rebel over here and go on the streets instead of accepting each social destructuration of society. Sous le goudron neoliberal “omnipotent” , l esprit reste libre!

  20. Poor PB, I mostly disagree with him, but I consider him as an honest men.I remember being mocked like him by the “thought police” for having contradicted that prostitution is “just a job like any other one”, who ended that way that I got call a pornograph because I was asking about the “feelings” during that “normal”work. A rare situation of the twisted paradoxes of these “think right” people, who don’t even see how absurd they are, when shortly after an article writer complains that her “erotic oeuvre” got misunderstood.
    I think their string of thoughts is that of day flies and the controversy sugar-salty pudding resulting in pleasing the different lobby’s ends as big blob mess.That they proposed him to write as (WHAT???lefty? I thought of him as conservative)makes me wonder.
    I must say, I enjoy right now a bit of disinterested from being overly concerned about this pseudo progressive paper.Realising what kind of plotting kids many are, made me doubt they might ever understand or enjoy my contributions. I get bored of pleasing minor minds lost in petty careerism.

    I hope once to end as 98% biodegradable compost.
    But If I see my compost EVER producing such a city and an army of cloned guys, I will pour vinegar on it, before it swallows me.Very funny!

    I am “City Penguin”phobic. (all this masses in uniformed dress codes, London at end of office hours looks sometimes like the surrounding of a Scientology building).
    Have you noticed how rainbow coloured some garden worms are? (and no, I did not have little mushrooms in my dinner).

  21. @antiphonsgarden,

    I hope @Edward sees this delicious reaction to his video:

    I hope once to end as 98% biodegradable compost.
    But If I see my compost EVER producing such a city and an army of cloned guys, I will pour vinegar on it, before it swallows me.Very funny!

    … I would not have understood vinegar’s marvellous powers as an enemy of bacteria until a crisis of about eight years ago … In my absence in a heat wave (temperature of about 40 degrees C), there was a long power cut … several days …The refrigerator and freezer had meat and fish in them. . . Can you imagine the horrific consquences? No commercial cleaning fluid, no matter how powerful, could get rid of the stench. In desperation, I rang the maker of the still new-ish fridge, where a man who must have wings growing out of his back gave me instructions involving various dilutions of vinegar. Magic!

    I am “City Penguin”phobic. (all this masses in uniformed dress codes, London at end of office hours looks sometimes like the surrounding of a Scientology building).

    Yes, other people who raise the entertainment quotient on this blog seem to be like you — for instance, @Hazlitt, who has told us about avoiding that Penguin look for most of his life (if I’ve remembered right). . . You are our first dandy, though. . . But I have to ask, are you sure about that? Please ask your Englishman to look at you closely and pronounce judgment. . . You see, I have never heard of a dandy capable of growing tomatoes in the middle of nowhere.

    Intuitive … yes I have been told that before. But it’s the coincidences that have been amazing me. I’ve been reading for some days about Mme de Stael, and had just turned pages describing how she plotted and even paid for the escape of dozens of people from the Terror … before I came here, only minutes later, and read about what your mother did in the Resistance.

    This is a lovely post on your blog. . . And the new fleur-de-lys design seems just right.

  22. Far from me to be a fashion geek, even if I might have been seen repicking beetroot’s in an empire dress , I associate dandyism more with the inner freedom of an “autonomous lifestyle”. I just post you 2 form of political rebellion, not well knowed who could be seen superficially as “no fitting outlook” but meant far more:
    http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Incroyables_et_Merveilleuses
    http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zazous
    From early age I had “my ways” and lucky me, I did not face too much opposition to go to school with victorian curles , a flower tutu, father old corduroy, and my schoolbooks in a fishermen basket. As one of the school speaker, I organised the first ever seen general school strike of this select establishment at 13 (and got kicked for too short dresses and political activity 3 years later! with amused congratulation from parental side).
    As model later(short time phase during my study s), I was more an inspiring muse, than a mindless doll. Not to compare with this actual morose faces pushed over the catwalk by some drag queens.
    That where the times.
    Would life not be so much more funny, if people instead of following some sheep tribe false “individualism”, like this mass tattoo or piercings, or tribal clothes (office clothes ARE tribal clothes), would truly show some individuality inside/outside?
    Holes in trousers gets improved by the embroidery of my coat of arms. Recycling quality clothes is a holy duty!

  23. My Englishman just served me his home made vinegar picked eggs. I must admit, I can live without.But I might use the vinegar to clean the sink.Vinegar is THE bio cleaner, so, no need to buy the overpriced “bio cleaners”.
    Did you know how easy it is to make your own?
    Over here potters even make little jars with a opener. You can make your own with a vinegar mother (the jelly stuff at the bottom of old vinegar) or simply with apple skins or wine.

  24. pickled eggs :
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pickled_egg
    I prefer the salty version.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vinegar
    My favourite is the mild Raspberry vinegar.

  25. Oh dear, no, … not pickled eggs (originally made by your own hens?) for breakfast, and I might not be too keen on them at any other time. But if he’s grilling kippers … mmmm. . . another matter altogether.

    In an empire dress, @antisphonsgarden, I see. Perhaps toiling over your beetroot crop looking like this? – … http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fichier:1799-Cruikshank-Paris-ladies-full-winter-dress-caricature.jpg … the one in yellow on the right is the best look for that task, I think. And if there’s someone there who could take a photograph, I’d be thrilled to put it at the head of my next post. . .

    Thank you for educating me about the recovery from the reign of Robespierre. It’s easy to imagine your magnificent Cocteau as the child of un Incroyable and une Merveilleuse – except for the slight inconvenience of his having been born a century too late … Couldn’t agree more about the lack of imagination – and courage – betrayed by tattoos, piercings, etc. . . And for some reason, that’s reminded me about your comment on the Coppola version of Versailles and the queen imported from Austria. No disagreement there, either. I wouldn’t dream of wasting my time watching that film, even if I couldn’t sleep or read on a plane where it was the only entertainment on offer. . . And from fashion and body fashions to Hollywood’s version of Versailles, … the logical progression of this conversation must be to multi-coloured worms. Yes I have seen some that would fit the description, but not for many years. I seem to remember the colours not being _in_ the worms, however, but reflected on their shiny wet bodies. Is that possible?

    … Now that’s all much too weighty. Strictly for leavening, I have two unrelated questions. How can you be an anarchist even in part when that could mean people coming in and helping themselves to your lovingly tended crops, even your house, land, transat en bambou .. and raspberry confiture? … The other: do you know anyone who is or was a member of a group of Le Monde readers that was trying to protect that paper’s independence? This club had a name something like, Les Amis du Monde — ? … I heard about it from someone en passant some weeks ago, looked it up in Google, didn’t have time to read what I found … and now it seems to have disappeared from the net or, more likely, I’ve forgotten the organisation’s actual name … I couldn’t agree with you more about most liberal newspapers in the UK being unable to live up to their slogans and window-dressing. I’ve been wondering, could a more powerful version of Les Amis du Monde force them to pay more attention to readers’ criticism of the way they are run … Yes I know that things have gone in the opposite direction for Le Monde, where I believe that the journalists have agreed to cede control over the management of the paper to protect their jobs. But that paper is in a special category: ultra-serious; very small circulation.

  26. I hope, I don’t divert the original topic too much with my “wild comments”, but lets consider it as a lady s laughter, running through a flower field (beware of ticks!) with a revolutionary BEEThoven soundtrack in the back. I am sorry to not being very helpful on the “monde”. It seems that as all these liberal newspaper now gets owned by wealthy people, I get some doubts about their true “leftness” liberty of publishing anyway. Are our blogs some post punk fanzines free spaces and for how long ? Its worth looking all the Guard background too, to understand few things.
    You shall not be scared of a bit of good old peaceful anarchism, as the backside of this inner freedom means individual responsibility too.Far more than what one can expect from these fake serious power gambler pushing humanity into self destruction. I have enjoyed living in open minded and sharing communes and consider “our” place here as neo bloomsburian.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloomsbury_Group
    maybe with a bit of pickwickian friendly failure:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Pickwick_Papers
    One deeper look over my old therapist glasses, and “bad ghosts ant unthoughtful attention suckers” run away as fast as possible, if they ever had the strange idea to visit. May the wind of change protect us all!

  27. You shall not be scared of a bit of good old peaceful anarchism, as the backside of this inner freedom means individual responsibility too

    Yes, I believe I know precisely what you mean here … no, not afraid at all, as I have been leading a highly — you might almost say, dangerously — individualistic life myself, … and have been accused of being responsible to a fault. (An over-developed conscience, … in the genes, I suspect.)

    No, no, that was only affectionate teasing about the progression from fashion to worms. I _love_ wildly discursive conversations with clever and imaginative people. Am so glad that you somehow found this blog. . . I am always taking risks when I tease people, but this is hard not to do if you were brought up in a family in which teasing was inseparable from love.

    Will be back later … would like to reply to other points you make.

  28. Hazlitt

    “Recycling quality clothes is a holy duty!”

    How right you are Ant.
    Bell and I,often shop at the “Old Hat” in Fulham near Putney Bridge.Lots of old tweed and corduroy for winter and plenty of cotton for summer strolls along the river during the Henley Regatta.All as cheap as chips.One can even pick up the odd Victorian corset,which together with Bell’s penchant for salt beef sarnies and fresh pigeon,might soon be obligatory rather than a fashion fad or an innocent guilty pleasure.Ahem.

    “Old Hat is the fruit of decades of dedication to vintage clothing by David Saxby. His expert eye focuses sharply on all aspects of gentlemanly attire and etiquette. Not only does Old Hat specialise in mens vintage clothing, but they also sell a selection of Edwardian and Victorian women’s wear. In addition to this, accessories to compliment your chosen attire include bowler hats, short morning coats, double breasted waistcoats and ties.”

    May I suggest you place “Old Hat” at the top of the agenda on your next London visit.

  29. But where do you and Bell wear your rosbif sandwiches, @Hazlitt, and do you wish to look like quite such a chauvinistic cliché?

  30. Hazlit, thank you for the links.
    The Hut needle is a underestimated surviving tool in revolutionary times!

  31. Hazlitt

    The hat needle is making a fashion comeback Antiphon and we musn’t underestimate the contribution made by Bell who wouldn’t go anywhere without a strong hat pin to secure his winged cornette.Bell only wears his cornette on Vincent de Paul outings.Talking of nuns we were strolling along the New Kings Road having just left the “Old Hat” when Bell announced he was so hungry he “could bite the arse off a nun through a cane chair”.When he’s hungry he becomes impatient and complained of his corset stays and began to twirl his parasol,before tripping over his new slingbacks.I swear a field full of Trappist monks would have died laughing.To cheer him up up,I promised a slap up in Harvey Nicks.

  32. I recommend “pet de nonnes” in such instants.
    Delightfull fluffy cloudy little cakes.
    http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pet_de_nonnes

    That reminds me a friend who visited us after leaving his monastery (and his vow of silence!).
    He spoke for days and days without pauses.
    holy patience!, ours.
    That much to restraining nature!

  33. Hazlitt

    “He spoke for days and days without pauses”

    Surely the eighth circle of hell?

    Antiphon,the next time he visits I suggest you feed him those delicious Nun Farts you recommended.With a mouth full of Nun Farts the poor man might be saved.Here is a recipe I am busy making.

    http://www.europeancuisines.com/France-Pets-De-Soeur-Pets-De-Nonne-Nun-Farts

  34. I dont know how much old French sayings sounds “rude” these “little mind finger rising days”, but I remember old people saying about an excellent wine” c est comme du pipi de petit jesus, ca coule tout seul!”(translate on your own!).
    My favorit saying from my grandma was :
    “Il ne faut pas prendre les enfants du bon dieu pour des canards sauvages!”(means: “cant fool us!”)

  35. By the way, I just heard recently that the eating eggplants was forbidden in England up to the 19 century, as it was “too evocative”.
    That much to piano leg coverings.

  36. Hazlitt

    c est comme du pipi de petit jesus, ca coule tout seul!”(translate on your own!).

    Antiphon.I’ll take a Premier Cru Chateau Margaux any day over “du pipi de petit Jesus”…….:))…

    “Il ne faut pas prendre les enfants du bon dieu pour des canards sauvages!”(means: “cant fool us!”)……Never imagined I could…:)

  37. @Hazlitt and @antiphonsgarden, … Dear comrades, might you two have got just a bit mixed up in your conversation? …. I mean, could you be confusing the upper and lower ends of the digestive system? … I thought @Hazlitt introduced the subject of food, and since then, well … there seems to have been a curious switching of poles. . . An unintended consequence of that unpronounceable volcano popping its top in Iceland, perhaps? … [… discreet cough turns into a fit of hacking …]

  38. What goes in must go out.
    Why considering the one end over the other.
    But In England, humans might ethereally evaporate.

    I have a great respect for the work on that matter of :
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerda_Boyesen
    Considering the amount of nervous cells in our stomach, listening to what we have to say there is as much of interest as “upwards”.

  39. ‘Ethereally evaporating’ … Can truthfully say that I’ve never seen the fundamental process described with such economy, clarity and perfect comprehension. And this, by a foreign observer! I might only add that that … as a biological coda of sorts, typically, the scent of lavender is released into the air when the sequence of evaporative events ends, … airborne particles that aren’t just aesthetically pleasing, but which act as a natural germicide, insecticide, etc., … Now let’s see … where did I see that description? … something to do with bathing curtains in a heat wave … hmm …

  40. Fritz Perls has written a good book relating the digestion to the psychology of integration or rejecting interaction with the word.
    “hunger,I and aggression”(Hope my memory works on that tittle!)probably like all good psychology books, “gone!”.
    Wilhelm Reich would have probably associate the English pudibondry with the retentive stiff class system.
    Recently an americain author has called the anglo saxon world who is on one side obsessed and on the other uptight about body functions and Eros,
    “immature”, but we can see on Chaucer, it has not always been like that and one wonders what impacted it that way. Very paradox in a country who s state religion was in stored to allow a royal , oh no, am I going to say fornication?

  41. === relating the digestion to the psychology of integration or rejecting interaction with the word. ===

    Mon dieu! … just an expression, don’t panic, please … Who is rejecting any word? The complaint was about you and @Hazlitt apparently finding it impossible to remember which end of digestion you were discussing. Hard for the rest of us to keep up with your conversation. C’est tout.

    As for rating one process above the other … or separating them at all . . . If you see no difference, are we to assume that you set tables with your finest Sevres plates in the smallest rooms in your house? … More efficient, I suppose.

  42. … but thank you for posting this, which does make sense to me …:

    ===
    Considering the amount of nervous cells in our stomach, listening to what we have to say there is as much of interest as “upwards”. ===

    The astonishing effects that states of mind can have on the stomach, and vice-versa, can be read as simple, straightforward evidence we have all experienced of the incontrovertibility of a ‘mind-body’ connection. . . And yet there are people mad enough to insist that there is no such thing.

    … and thank you for the pointer to Gerda …

  43. Well, I own some old porcelaine who once was meant to help lady’s to not have to run outside during long sermons.

  44. Headline in yesterday’s New York Times: Oh, Porcelain, How I Miss It! … A writer called Joyce Wadler was describing life without a bathroom — as hers was being renovated.

  45. Et oui! back to the essentials!

  46. It’s a funny article … the NYT changed the headline to make it easier for search engines to put the piece in the right slots: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/15/garden/15remodel.html?_r=1&ref=bathrooms_and_toilets&pagewanted=all

    The author set these conditions for herself: she would not leave her flat during the renovation; she would not ask friends and neighbours if she could use their bathrooms while hers was out of commission … paid a terrible price for her self-sufficiency, but did not lose her sense of humour.

  47. How good we have a garden in such cases!
    Viva the mulch toilettes.
    Each who had to face such a daily life drama knows what matters more, the dinner room or the “petit coin”.

  48. Careful, careful … How do you know that your local gendarmes don’t read this blog?

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