Bertie Mcboatface does an Outside Broadcast

March 31, 2016



A  dream inspired by a BBC news item that many libraries had closed and full-time jobs replaced with volunteers

Was it only a dream? It is still so vivid in my imagination.  The doors of the library open, and a man clutching a microphone enters.

Man with microphone: [voice quivering with deep emotional and empathic overtones] Hello. I’m Bertie Mcboatface from the BBC.  We are doing a programme on the wonderful and magical places that are our libraries.

Library Assistant:  I’m only a volunteer doing Tuesdays and Fridays. We run knitting circles, film nights…

Bertie Mcboatface: Our wonderful and magical tradition of service to others, so admired around the world.

Library Assistant [nervously]: If you wait, I can get the librarian…

Bertie Mcboatface:  Books.  The evocation of childhood!  The smell of furniture polish on the library tables.  The touch as you turn the pages over. It makes the hairs ride up at the back of my neck, just thinking of it.

Library Assistant: He’s just attending to another enquiry…

Bertie Mcboatface: The report out today says more than 20% of library jobs have been lost in the last five years. 350 libraries closed, 8000 full time jobs, gone. 25000 volunteers fill in. What would you say to  fifty year old Millie from Penzance who has been looking for another job for six months?

Librarian Person [hurrying up]:  Thank you, Library Assistant, I will deal with this request.  Mr Mcboatface?  How may I help?

Bertie Mcboatface: A very good morning to you, Mr Librarian Person.  You are live on BBC, talking to millions taking part in our wonderful and magical debate on library closures.

Librarian Person [worried]: Closure?  We announced our new opening hours after lengthy consultation.

Bertie Mcboatface:  But I noticed you are now a kiddies’ play centre and pensioners drop in centre.

Librarian Person:  Yes, we find the integration so rewarding.. We call it our cradle to grave project.

Bertie Mcboatface:  Humbling to learn of cradles and graves so beautifully put together. But why no spaces for bicycles outside, or indeed anywhere I could officially have tethered Jessica?

Librarian Person: Jessica?

Bertie Mcboatface:  My beautiful Westie. You can see the photograph of us I posted on our website.

Librarian Person, [weakly]: Dogs aren’t allowed, except for guide dogs.

Bertie Mcboatface:  We did that topic  in our people’s debate recently.  Most of our callers said that dogs should be allowed in libraries, shops, public toilets and crematoria.

Librarian Person: [desparately]: Excuse me, there’s something happening outside I must attend to

Bertie Mcboatface:  That will be my daughter. I tethered her to no-parking bollard with Jessica, to keep her company.  So it’s  back to the studio for the weather forecast. Don’t miss next week’s people’s debate: on are people who hire cleaners idle sluts, or the sort of hard working tax payers needed to keep the economy booming?

Charisma watch: in Westminster: Making a spectacle of themselves

March 28, 2016

 Joseph Chamberlain

 There is political turmoil in the Westminster bubble, with ministerial resignations, budgetary U turns, and emergency sittings.  The presentation of self through TV broadcasts makes a fascinating topic for investigation

Take, for example, the choice of ocular aids. The Prime Minister, spic and span, is only transformed as he whips out a pair of unobtrusive spectacles to read from a supplied answer before him. He then replaces the specs as quickly as possible.

The entire Government front bench has been a near Spec-free zone in the absence of Michael Gove with his heavy duty spectacles. Maybe childhood bullying and taunts of ‘specky four eyes’ means there is reluctance among leadership wannabes to risk revealing an ocular weakness. Nor was there sign of that symbol of the ruling classes the magnificent monacle as espoused by Joseph Chamberlin.

In contrast, the opposition were fearlessly flaunting their spectacles. Leader Jeremy Corbyn rarely allows his features to appear specless in public. I pondered on the way leaders build their self-image in public.

 The Charismatics

I tried to remember the spectacles favoured by charismatic leaders. Gandhi  and John Lennon gave fashion credibility to the style of the aesthetic and creative individual. Then there is another recent  charismatic American politician whose spectacles were part of a spectacular brand image. I refer, of course, to none other than Sarah Palin.

 The Intellectuals

There is an intellectual heavy duty design which I associate with French heavy duty intellectuals. England can offer Michael Gove, aready mentioned above, in this respect. From America there is the intellectual, humourist and film-maker  Mr Woody Allen.

 The proposed research project

How to study this fascinating subject?  Clearly it calls for an exploratory or pilot stage. The classification of spectacles will be of itself an interesting part of this.  Our political figues could be classified according to preferred choice of spectacle, leadership style, and perhaps political effectiveness.

To be continued

Perhaps with a comparison of beards, or even hairstyles …








BBC Three Plans New Watchdog Programme on Scamming

March 26, 2016


The BBC Watchdog programme continues its series on phishing and scamming. We report from a LWD subscriber on a classic scamming attempt

My first semi-smart phishing message purportedly from an old friend was realistic.  It said that he was trapped, having lost his wallet and passport in a hotel in Singapore. We had worked together there, and it was at least possible that he was there on a business trip.

This was a few years ago, before the scam became tiresomely obvious. Its slight error was to leave the impression through its style that it was that phoney. It was not quite how my friend would have written it (no mention of our shared experiences, for example, although these would not ‘prove’ much).

I can’t remember when my initial suspicion turned into certainty, but I ignored the message.

Since then I have had various versions, including the classics on:

The billions available to me in Africa

The unpaid bills I must pay

The inheritance awaiting confirmation

The ‘check’ on my corrupted bank account.

These are mostly implausible   A few I report to the IT department of my employer, whose name I will not mention here. These have always turned out to be rubbish to be deleted.

My advice is: do not reply directly. Never supply information of a sensitive nature. Check by other means where your friend is.

Best wishes

Suggestions welcomed

Suggestions welcomed, although I hesitate to publish any that might incur wilful scamming from malicious spirits out there [TR]


The strange case of Boaty Mc Boatface

March 23, 2016


Creativity researchers have been trying to pin down  the qualities of a creative idea for many years. We look at how the prize-winning name for a boat meets the criteria

The research has been developed in factor studies of names voted creative.  This approach results in creativity being interpretative (some call it subjective).  Typically, a panel of experts rates names on factors believed to be associated with creativity. A contest to name a new boat would make a nice illustration of the research.  Or we could use the research to assess the creativity of the most popular name.

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Stan Lee is an inspiration to all Creatives

March 18, 2016



The creator of Spider-Man and many Marvel characters reveals how his fertile imagination is triggered

He was talking to a BBC reporter recently [March 2016] about his creative processes. His story matches dozens I have come across from creative individuals. According to Lee, he was looking for a new character when noticed a fly on the wall, and started playing around with ideas about a super-hero that could fly. He didn’t mention the great Superman, but in some way that didn’t matter, because he started adding ideas that would build on his first thought.

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Doping in Tennis. Nadal plays an attacking game

March 15, 2016

Rafa Nadal

Three years ago we published a post about doping in tennis. The story re-emerged this week as Nadal says he intends to sue for remarks about his alleged drug taking.

The original post suggested that tennis may be in denial about the state of drug taking in the sport.

A colleague with legal experience suggested I leave the specific aspects of the post out of the more recent publication Tennis Matters.

This post will be updated as the story develops.

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The BBC and the paradox of neutrality

March 11, 2016


The BBC has been hailed as an example of a broadcaster with a reputation for balanced reporting. However, its commitment to balance contributes to beliefs that it is institutionally biased. I call that the paradox of neutrality

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