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AE on Telly News (NEW CONCEPTS)
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Mick Harper
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Here's an example of the difficulties of 'body count'.

Vietnamese, in uniform, to camera: Two American companies were pursuing us but we outmanoeuvred and destroyed them. We paid a high price, I had ninety men, sixty or seventy were either killed or wounded.

Well, what was it? You were there, was it sixty or seventy? Killed or wounded? Out of the war wounded or purple heart wounded? And why no 'missing'? Seems odd in a prolonged battle of movement. But what of the Americans? Two companies represents about five hundred men so 'destroying' them would get banner headlines in the New York Post. My guess would be five killed, thirty wounded out of an original force of between one and two hundred. The Americans might even have chalked this down as a W.
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Hatty
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In: Berkshire
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In the penultimate episode of this excellent Vietnam documentary, the famous 'Napalm girl' photo came up and I was astonished at the controversy around it. It wasn't, for once, American planes but South Vietnamese planes dropping bombs on civilians.

The girl's nakedness was the controversial bit though I hadn't even noticed she was naked! Her pain and terror made an instant impact -- surely the photographer's point. It did get published of course, later winning the Pulitzer Prize, but last year Facebook briefly removed it for the same reason. Why are Americans so peculiarly prudish?
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Mick Harper
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Was I the Sixth Man?

Last night's programme on Burgess (of Burgess and Maclean) struck a few home truths.
1. J D Bernal got an oblique mention. How did I know he was going to appear on the telly this week when I mentioned him here just last week?
2. The 'gentleman from Prague called Benes' referred to in Burgess's conversation with Winston Churchill was, though the programme didn't allude to the fact, the Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia at the time, about whom I was writing only this morning.
3. Goronwy-Rees was the bloke who helped Burgess with arrangements the day before the defection. I knew his daughter.
4. Burgess and Maclean left on the SS Falaise. I used to travel on the SS Falaise.

The authorities have been informed.
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Mick Harper
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I trust everyone has now watched The Garden of Eden: Revealed. Rarely have I watched so triumphant a vindication of one my theories (Chapter Ten of Megalithic Empire, setting out the origins of farming). Rarely have I watched so many academics putting so many carts before so many horses in so short a time.
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Boreades


In: finity and beyond
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Grant wrote:
Isn't it amazing how seemingly rational journalists present news stories in which the evidence itself contradicts what they are saying, but they just can't see it?..... Any better examples?


Here's one from the Guardian. See the outrage that plebian engineering firms (and working-class people with hands-on experience of what works) are ignoring the theoretical models produced by upper-class authoritative academics. And do note the confusion about the nature of "scientific evidence".

The news that many water companies use dowsing to locate underground water has prompted outraged demands from scientists that they desist at once from wasting time and money on “medieval witchcraft”. They are right to call this practice deluded. But it reveals how complicated the relationship is between scientific evidence and public belief.

When the science blogger Sally Le Page highlighted the issue after her parents spotted an engineer dowsing for Severn Trent Water, the company responded to her query by claiming that “we’ve found some of the older methods are just as effective than [sic] the new ones” (such as the use of drones and satellite imaging). The engineer concerned told her parents that dowsing works for him eight times in 10.

Further inquiry elicited the comment from Yorkshire Water that “although few and far between, some of our techs still use them!”, while Anglian Water said: “There have been occasions where we’ve used dowsing rods.” Le Page says that 10 out of 12 British water companies she approached have admitted to the practice. But “admitted” isn’t quite the right word; what is striking is the jaunty tone of these responses, as if to say: “Yes, isn’t it extraordinary that these old methods work?”


Update:
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/nov/22/water-firms-backtrack-admissions-divining-rods

Water firms have hastily distanced themselves from their own admissions that they use divining rods to detect leaks amid widespread alarm at publicly listed companies using witchcraft. Ten of the 12 water companies in the UK told the science blogger Sally Le Page, via Twitter, that they use the practice of water dowsing despite the lack of scientific evidence for its effectiveness. But after the disclosure was first reported in the Guardian and picked up by media across the world, many of the companies have tried to row back on their admissions or blame rogue engineers. One of them, Welsh Water, has even deleted a tweet in which it acknowledged using dowsing rods.


Widespread alarm? Using witchcraft?
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Hatty
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This article gave rise to some derision among the Forteans on Facebook. Cognitive dissonance, they said. So many people, including the British army in Aden, have undertaken dowsing for water, reportedly successfully, that the article's scope might be too limited to be representative of the 'scientific method'.
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Boreades


In: finity and beyond
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Mick Harper wrote:
the SS Falaise..


Built in 1947 in William Denny & Brothers yards at Dumbarton on the River Clyde in Scotland, SS Falaise has enabled the Southern Railways to reopen liaison between Saint-Malo and Southampton. She was then assisted by the steamer-ship Brittany, which included this service before WWII.


Oooh, isn't he bold, using that word liaison? It's the old Franco-Scottish cordial raising its head again ... and you know what "assisted" means ...

http://www.bateaux-de-saint-malo.com/en/fiche%20Falaise.htm

Roll-on post-brexit 2019 and they'll all be back at it again, smuggling all kinds of "duty-free" stuff.
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Hatty
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Messrs Burgess and Maclean sailed on the SS Falaise according to Ben Macintyre's documentary. Contraband can indeed go both ways.
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Mick Harper
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News of the Fifth Man has just come out thanks to the government belatedly releasing the 'miscellaneous files' -- the ones kept under lock and key in the Cabinet Office (and therefore not subject to the Thirty Year Rule).

... it was not until 1990 that John Cairncross was publicly confirmed as the “fifth man” in the Cambridge spy ring.

Care to know why?

In March 1964, Cairncross, who was by then was working as an academic in the US, confessed to having spied for Russia between 1936 and 1951, during which time he had worked for the Foreign Office, Treasury, GCHQ, MI6 and the Ministry of Supply.

Not many civil servants work for quite such a glittering array of security-sensitive departments ('Supply' was in charge of atomic weapons). Looks like there was someone in the higher echelons of government shifting him around.

After failing to secure the cooperation of the FBI in returning Cairncross to stand trial because they did not consider him a current security risk

A most remarkable statement.

Macmillan, then prime minister, agreed that the case should not be made public because it could lead to criticism of the Americans

Well it would most certainly lead to criticism of the FBI since Macmillan had just negotiated with the Americans to acquire Polaris, the most secret weapons system in the world at the time.

but also because “it would be bound to call into question the position of Cairncross’s brother”.

Poor chap. Any other reason?

The then cabinet secretary, Burke Trend, said that quite apart from the “distress and embarrassment” to Cairncross’s economist brother, Alec, “we have to ask ourselves what would be the probable result, in terms of public policy in the widest sense, if it became known that the government were employing, as their chief economic adviser, a man who was the brother of a self-confessed Communist spy”.

Not to mention the even wider embarrassment of admitting that first, second, third, fourth and fifth men were emerging at regular intervals with no end in sight. Better put a lid on it for a bit.

As a result, no further action was taken in 1964 and it was not until 1990 that John Cairncross was publicly confirmed as the “fifth man” in the Cambridge spy ring.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2017/jul/20/government-cover-ups-revealed-in-secret-files-on-profumo-and-philby
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Boreades


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Grant wrote:
Isn't it amazing how seemingly rational journalists present news stories in which the evidence itself contradicts what they are saying, but they just can't see it?..... Any better examples?


Here's another one from the Guardian. (I'm sure there must be other newspapers?)

*Everybody* (reading the Guardian) *knows* that the whole of the Antarctic is melting. Well, alright, just the Western side, but why complicate the story?

But now we have ...

Scientists discover 91 volcanoes below Antarctic ice sheet - This is in addition to 47 already known about and eruption would melt more ice in region affected by climate change - Scientists have uncovered the largest volcanic region on Earth – two kilometres below the surface of the vast ice sheet that covers west Antarctica. The project, by Edinburgh University researchers, has revealed almost 100 volcanoes – with the highest as tall as the Eiger, which stands at almost 4,000 metres in Switzerland. Geologists say this huge region is likely to dwarf that of east Africa’s volcanic ridge, currently rated the densest concentration of volcanoes in the world.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/12/scientists-discover-91-volcanos-antarctica


So, we have more active volcanoes than anywhere else in the world? And it's melting? But the melting is still because of climate change. These must be very special volcanoes, a special kind that doesn't produce heat that would melt ice.
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Wile E. Coyote


In: Arizona
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Witnesses: A Frozen Death is currently on BBC 4

Beautifully shot, it's part True Detective, part The Killing, but more stylish than either. That means it's French.... which also means it's a bit bonkers in a good way....

The beautiful Audrey Fleurot, (the very naughty solicitor in Spiral) plays an amnesiac, linked to err....15 dead men found frozen aboard an abandoned bus. Lieutenant Sandra Winkler, the brilliant but flawed cop, trying to be a good mum but failing, is quickly on the scene.

It's all set around Mont St Michael and ancient creepy legends about the past intrude.

Gripping.
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Hatty
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I'm sick of neurotic women, of whatever nationality. Except Scandi.
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Mick Harper
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You're not Scandi, are you, dear?
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Mick Harper
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Bancroft (ITV)

Hatty will clue you in on the neurotic count, my concern here is with racial stereotyping. In these liberal times getting the baddies right is always a challenge, but since the Rochdale et al grooming cases, Asians are now the villains of choice. However, to give balance, forensics is being handled by an Asian women (Ph D, glasses) who will be coming up with the vital breakthrough shortly.

White males are now reduced to retired, retiring, or ought-to-be-retired figures though one was seen in the background making tea. It goes without saying all the leith polieth are women, and this will be the second crime series in a row in which the lead investigator also happens to be a homicidal maniac. It happens.

But don't get too settled. Post-Brexit the baddies will be mainly Belgian.
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Grant



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I'm sick of neurotic women, of whatever nationality.


Have you noticed the latest trend in perfume adverts? A beautiful woman runs around behaving like a total nutter - throwing beads on the floor, jumping off buildings. What's that all about?
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