Women in broadcasting: a sour note
I really don’t want to hear any more bollocks about and from women in broadcasting.
Yes, pay levels should be set according to the demands and responsibilities of the job, not according to the feebleness or pushiness of individual broadcasters and their agents when it comes to negotiating fees; or according to gender, or how how white and middle-aged you are.
In my day, he said loftily, having worked at the BBC for all of eight, or was it 18, months (all memory gone), you had proper pay grades. I was an MP (for Management and Production) Grade 2 , or something, and I worked as a regular on-air announcer – also writing the hourly main news bulletins and producing trails – for the breakfast programme, Rush Hour. Had I stayed, instead of taking up a more exciting but ultimately disastrous management role with a commercial radio start-up, I should have progressed inexorably up the spine, whatever it’s called, to MP5 and the job of Director-General, obviously.
Nowadays a BBC staff contract could get you anything from £150 thousand to £650 thousand a year, depending on your gender, just for reading a script into a microphone. Back in the day, I was getting £42 a shift on a monthly renewable deal.
Anyway, I’m not talking about pay here, but about the endless moaning noise we hear on the subject of representation; or lack of it.
Depending on your gender, sexual orientation, colour or ethnicity, there are never enough of you around in the office to make you feel secure, are there? Unless you’re a middle-aged white guy, right?
So, I woke up early this morning and switched on the Today show. Two female co-presenters, one of them Muslim, of Pakistani parentage. Handing over for the 7 o’clock news to a female newscaster. Who reads the first story, about our female Prime Minister making an important speech in Florence, and hands over for the expert analysis to the BBC’s chief political correspondent, Laura Kuennsberg. Second story down the bulletin, and the fourth and fifth, contain reports voiced by women presenters/reporters. A report has Alice Oswald being appointed as the BBC’s new poet-in-residence; one of two producers of the show is credited as a woman.
Let’s put that one to bed, shall we? Regardless of the fact that Huw Edwards is 103, women are adequately represented in broadcasting. Period.
“Any less pleasant sweaty smells early on quite soon disappear, as the natural bacteria you have been scraping off, poisoning and flushing down the drain for years reassert their beneficent command of your flora.”
Women in politics: a shower note
On the subject of women’s representation, a BBC News report today highlights Western Cape Premier Helen Zille, founder of South Africa’s opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, who “has revealed that she only showers every third day.”
Strict grammarians might be tempted to ask what she does on the other days? Journalists nowadays are not taught where to place the auxiliary adverb. She ‘only showers every third day’ means one thing, she ‘showers only every third day’ another entirely.
“I shower briefly‚ once every three days‚ and for the rest wash in the hand basin. I used to wash my hair every day‚ but now only when I shower‚ with visibly negative consequences,” Ms Zille wrote in a column. (Note the correct placement of ‘only’.)
There is of course a reason for Ms Zille’s shocking revelation, her apparently antisocial behavior: she wishes to inspire the populace to save water. As Granny Weatherwax has previously recorded in a Post on this bogl:
“The Western Cape – famed for its winelands, mountains and beaches – has been experiencing severe water shortages which have worsened in the last year due to a drought in the region.”
The news has inspired the usual bollockstorm of tweets speculating nastily on the premier’s personal hygiene and lack of fragrance. I have news for the pathetic dimwits who cannot imagine living without a bathroom full of overpriced bottled products offering to mask their natural aroma of ‘Twit’ by Lenthéric: it really isn’t necessary to bathe every day, it is a habit inculcated I believe on purely social grounds by the Romans, a bonding rite, which continues to be plundered profitably to this day by companies such as L’Oreal, Johnson & Johnson, Body Shop and Laboratoires Garnier.
For the past eight months or so, I have been secretly conducting a small personal experiment.
I had heard or possibly read of freelance journalists desperately seeking original material to write about, who have gone along for months not showering, washing their hair or changing their clothes, to observe the effect on their fellows. An Australian newscaster, for instance, wore the same suit to the office daily for a year and was able to wring many lucrative articles and interviews out of a media curious to hear about his experience of not being challenged even once by colleagues or viewers over his sartorial experiment.
It started really without me being aware of it. As time went on, apathy took over from disinterest. Living alone, unpartnered, with no-one to seize the moral high-ground, no-one to cajole me, I simply grew out of the habit of washing altogether, contenting myself with a wipeover from week to week with a damp flannel or a wet-wipe (point of order: DO NOT FLUSH WET-WIPES down the loo, they clog up the sewers).
This was in, I think, about February – there was no starting-point to the experiment, it just overtook me. (I confess to having one shower, in early May, prior to a social event. Just the one, and no hairwash.)
And what, QED, has been the observed result?
I have determined that if you keep your clothes clean and change them regularly, you don’t live on the streets or wander the byways of Britain pushing your worldly goods in a pram, and you don’t jog, play netball or over-exert yourself on hot days, you should not become offensive at all. I have received no complaints from colleagues, friends and family, noticed no surreptitious edging away or wrinkling of nostrils. You should not become infested with rats, cockroaches or pubic lice; nor should you develop scabies, alopecia or leprosy.
Any less pleasant sweaty smells that manifest early on quite soon disappear, as the natural bacteria you have been poisoning, scraping off and flushing down the drain for years reassert their beneficent command of your flora.
The skin has natural mechanisms for cleansing itself, as does the hair. A greyish discoloration here and there does little harm. I keep my hair short, but otherwise ignore it. Should it become itchy, as has happened once or twice in the past months, it is permissible to rinse the scalp with plain water. My beard comes and goes according to whether or not I have been cast to play a pirate this season, but generally I keep it short and, where it grows in the wrong places, trimmed. (A bigger problem my face faces is that beard refuses to grow at all in the right places.)
The privies, of course, are another matter. Those intimate areas need to be kept under control; especially if you are an elderly gentleman and have problems as a result of prostatic hyperplasia. I recall actually quitting a choir in which a rather gamey old baritone insisted on sitting next to me at every session (I generally give off the right notes) who smelled overpoweringly of stale urine; only to find later on that I myself could on occasion detect a similar hint of nocturnal retention. A simple procedure however quickly remedies the defect; as does more frequent replacement of the undergarment.
“I shower briefly‚ once every three days‚ and for the rest wash in the hand basin. I used to wash my hair every day‚ but now only when I shower‚ with visibly negative consequences,” Ms Zille wrote in a column. “However‚ I regard oily hair in a drought to be as much of a status symbol as a dusty car.”
It is an all-too human foible, that many people who daily strip their hair of its natural oils using astringent shampoos then set about replacing them with expensive oily product to regain lost body and shine.
My advice to Premiere Zille is this: if you shower and wash your hair every three days, by the third day you will certainly have personal freshness issues. If you wish to save water and heat-energy on environmental grounds, and you don’t want colleagues to shun you at meetings, you need to stop washing altogether. After a couple of weeks no-one will notice, I promise you.
And provided you can resist writing a column about it, you will feel empowered by your little secret to achieve more on the days when you used to ‘only shower’.
“Just for this totally non-urgent delivery, that could have arrived Monday and I’d have been delighted, an entire economy has been pressed into gear to ensure my consumer satisfaction…”
Is it all uber?
Look, I’m going to make a comparison. London may have 500 thousand people who love Uber, and 40 thousand drivers who may soon be in other employment, but out here beyond the Styx we’ve never heard of Uber, and couldn’t frankly give one.
The town station precinct is stiff with minicabs, until you happen to need one urgently during the school-run hour, when they become as rare as dragons’ teeth. Out here, we are all rather elderly. Our version of WhatsApp? is more ‘What’s an app?’. It’s hard enough getting a phone signal, let alone mess with data.
But I’m a voracious consumer of other people’s news and so I’m aware that this formerly innocent ride-sharing service that’s been taken over by ultracapitalist raptors like George Osborne’s BlackRock Corp. and turned into a market-devouring monopoly monster has been deemed not fit for purpose by Transport for London, who have withdrawn their operators’ licence.
Which brings me more to the point, to that other social paradigm-shifter, Amazon UK.
For, reading between the lines, it would appear that while issues of public safety and concern for the welfare of Uber drivers stuck on their treadmill and being ripped off for 25 per cent of their already cut-price fares by a bunch of billionaire beanbags in California may have played their part, nevertheless it’s the dystopian nightmare of an unregulated world of instant consumer gratification that is at the root of TfL’s unease.
Not having to stand outside the theatre in the rain trying to do that whistling thing with your fingers, metaphorically, is making me queasy too.
Yesterday afternoon, I realized two things of monumental insignificance: one, that a guitar I have advertised for sale has some superficial pick-abrasions I hadn’t noticed before; and two, that I was out of guitar polishing wax.
So, as you do, I went online to Amazon.uk and after a bit of browsing and consulting the five-star reviews, mostly professionally copywritten, I popped a bottle in my shopping basket. Immediately, with a little prompting from a passing algorithm, it occurred to me that I might also benefit from clipping one of those handy digital tuning dinguses to my gorgeous new Fibonacci guitar, as my ear for ‘perfect pitch’ has been a little off lately. So I stuck one of those on the bill too.
That was at about five o’clock, and I was expecting nothing until maybe Monday, given that Amazon are still sulking over my withdrawal from the free 30-day Prime service they had suckered me into trialling. But at about one a.m., when all good retailers should be tucked up in bed, my phone pinged to tell me my orders had been dispatched. (I find it odd that people can get through with these kinds of messages, but you have to stand in the road here to make a call.)
I assumed it must be the previous day’s orders, but at nine forty-five in the morning, incidentally a Saturday, the doorbell went, and there was a postman bearing two brown cardboard envelopes, a digital delivery recorder, and a welcome rebate of £300 overpaid Council Tax from the Finance Office.
And I feel guilty.
Just for this totally non-urgent delivery, that could have arrived Monday or even Tuesday and I’d have been delighted, an entire economy of staggering complexity has been pressed into gear to ensure my consumer satisfaction ratings never flag.
I mean, where would Amazon keep a spare bottle of GHS Guitar Gloss (No Cloudy Build-Up!) AND a D’Addario digital headstock tuner with colour display, so that a postman out here on an industrial estate in the outskirts of a Victorian seaside town which, while being famously agreeable, is nevertheless three hours from anywhere, could trudge up my garden path bearing these obscure and inexpensive little items packed and invoiced, barely 16 hours after I ordered them?
How many underpaid, overworked warehouse night-shifters and delivery drivers and postal sorting office workers and postmen and machines and vans and clever computer systems and vast distribution nodes with automated picking robots and tax-avoidance specialists with all the latest technology are involved in, and dedicated entirely to, this totally spurious enterprise, designed merely to intimidate and undercut the traditional retail sector and to convince the population that the corporate sector offers us the gleaming prospect of infinite abundance forever?
And what will happen when, like British Airways’ operations last spring, some exhausted and underpaid maintenance technician accidentally yanks out a plug and the whole thing breaks down under the weight of its own complexity – and the alternative, the competition, the ‘analog world’ if you like, has already been eliminated?
These services designed for the instant gratification of our every whim are truly becoming a menace, a threat to civilization. Driven by an insane philosophy of creating entrepreneurial ‘visionary’ billionaires, lunatics more like, trapped in the whirligig imperative of their own developmental logic, in re-engineering all our futures they have lost sight of what it means to be human.
Just in time, then, for the end of the anthropocene.
“No power stronger than human denial”
Granny W: It’s more of the same
SE Asia: Cat 4 Typhoon Doksuri with 135kph winds causes major structural damage and flooding in Vietnam, 8 dead. ‘Tens of thousands’ of homes damaged. Now heading across Laos on track to hit Mymanmar’s capital, Bangkok, head-on. Heavy rains from Doksuri have also affected Thailand, with flooding around Phuket. Over a metre of rain (115 cm) falls on Phrae in the Khan Sathan National Park (16 Sept.). Most parts of the country have severe weather warnings.
Japan: Cat 4 Typhoon Talim has battered the southern Japanese archipelago and though weakening over higher ground is heading up the mainland. Widespread urban flooding around Tokyo. 100 thousand evacuated. Heavy rain causing landslips. Three dead, many injured. On 15 September the western eyewall of the typhoon was dumping nine inches of rain an hour.
Malaysia: Penang experiences record rainfall: major flooding. Fucking lunatics keep driving cars, bikes into 3ft of water and float away. No power stronger than human denial. Severe flood damage caused in rural West Sumatra.
Mexico: Surprise mini-typhoon, briefly Cat 1 Max brings flooding to Mexico’s west coast, particularly Acapulco, San Marcos and Catatlan. Not even an especially powerful storm, Max carried more rain than many an old-timer could remember ever experiencing.
Guatemala: “Mazatenango in Suchitepequez department recorded almost 300 mm of rain in 48 hours to 19 September. Local media say that levels of the Sis River in Mazatenango are dangerously high….Floods have affected areas of Petén, Suchitepéquez, Retalhuleu and San Marcos departments.” The country has experienced more than 250 incidents of flooding so far in 2017, with 21 deaths attributed.
Dominica: exceptionally heavy rains bring severe flash floods to the small island; on track this week for Cat. 5 (or more!) Maria. One death reported on Guadeloupe. Puerto Rico directly in its path but the superstorm – more powerful than Irma – is forecast to turn north and head up into the Atlantic without making landfall in the US. It’s so big however that many territories not directly hit, such as the Dominican Republic and the Turks and Caicos islands – and eventually the Carolinas – will experience very strong winds, tidal surges and high levels of rainfall between now and the weekend.
Puerto Rico: “Hurricane Maria remains a category 4 storm with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph as it barrels over Puerto Rico.” … Flash flood warnings out for much of the island. “River levels are approaching or exceeding record levels according to data from the US Geological Survey. The Rio Grande de Manati near Ciales has broken record levels by almost a foot with much more rain to come.”
23 September: entire island without power, possibly ‘for months’. Authorities struggling to evacuate thousands in the path of possible flooding from a failing dam.
Argentina: widespread flooding affects beef market prices, with shortages developing. Many cattle drowned. Agricultural production is down by 25% after months of flooding.
Spain: Powerful thunderstorm suddenly forms and strikes beach resort of Alicante, with torrential rains, hurricane-force wind, thunder and lightning strikes. Big hail, streets flooded. Watch CEWN at 42′.30, eerie scene as street cafe furniture seems to move by itself.
Romania: ‘at least five killed and 30 injured’ in powerful storm that hit Timisoara on 17 September. Parts of the city trashed by cyclonic wind: terrifying scenes of destruction.
Poland: “Over 80 mm of rain fell in 24 hours in the city of Elblag in northern Poland on 19 September. City officials say that streets had to be closed due to flooding after the Kumiela River overflowed.”
Africa: “At least 12 people have died and another 92 are missing in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo after torrential rains caused a river to overflow. The heavy rain has also triggered landslides in the area.”
- US wildfire costs for 2017 now exceed $2.2 billion.
- Heavy snow blankets the Sierra Nevada: winter has arrived a month early in northern California. One car driver killed.
Climate and Extreme Weather News #68/ Floodlist/ The Guardian/ BBC News
“The hurricane of controversy that surrounds his every misdeed and misplaced thought has attained proportions so overwhelming, that there is no point of entry any longer: the devastation is almost total, beyond repair.”
Is this the end of Pumpkin mania?
Readers and, indeed, no-longer readers of this, muh bogl, may have noticed something is missing.
That’s right. There hasn’t been an issue of The Pumpkin for quite a while. What’s gone wrong?
The answer is simply that The Pumpkin has finally tired of reporting the antics of the burly old thug, Trump. What is left to say? We’re done insulting him, we’ve run out of epithets. The hurricane of controversy that surrounds his every misdeed and misplaced thought has attained proportions so overwhelming that there is no point of entry any longer: the devastation is almost total, beyond repair.
We know he’s not right in the head, never has been. We blame the parents, of course – advancing senility, syndromic narcissism and untreated ADHD. We know he’s a finagler, a double-dealer, a bullying, vindictive and unpleasant screwer-over of rivals, has been all his miserable life; and not a particularly successful one, although he’s got away with it. We know he’s not really a billionaire, as he claims, other than in the negative sense; just a miser.
We know he’s overweeningly vain, boastful, solipsistic, childishly vindictive, morally defective, a compulsive liar and fantasist, believing in no God but only the power of money. We know his money has done nothing good in the world. We know he looks up only to those who are richer and nastier than he is and regards the rest of us as mere losers.
We already know the severe limitations of his intellect make him almost an imbecile: inarticulate, unlettered, incoherent, inchoate, incompetent, a graceless baboon, he lacks any knowledge or the desire or even the concentration needed to gain knowledge of any part of the job of President of the United States of America, other than the power to fire or pardon, or to set-off Armaggedon; and so he just wings it.
We know too, all about his debts to Russian and Chinese banks, his at-any-cost approach leaving him open to accusations of treason; his squalid business methods: his career-long associations with organized criminals, trafficking of underage models and unhygienic financial habits that render him perpetually open to prosecutions he generally has bought his way out of, using other people’s money.
He is so awful, it almost makes him interesting.
We know that he is so petty, he once stole seven dollars from his own tax-exempt charity foundation to pay his son’s subscription to the Boy Scouts of America, to whom this July he gave the greatest speech they had ever heard; not. Alternatively, a load of self-pitying bullshit and vain bragadoccio. We hear too of him cutting-off an allowance his late father had made to cover health bills for his chronically invalid cousin; and of how he skimmed half a million dollars from his son Eric’s fundraising activities on behalf of a children’s cancer charity, for use of his tacky golf resort facilities.
We know, in short, from what everyone has said that he is a disgusting, mentally defective, spiritually void, morally reprehensible apology for a human being, unfit to hold office or to represent any higher values of the American nation than grubby nepotism, expediency, delusional thinking and greed.
Believing we know all that is not helping. Saying it is not helping – he has already started the process of picking on even the least of his critics and leavening dire threats against their persons and careers. We can hope only that Mr Mueller, the FBI and Congress between them can bring this grotesque feral clown down before he brings them down, and the world with them, crashing down about his waxy old ears.
But it’s not looking hopeful.
Why on earth does this keep happening?
So, it’s happened again. Two days ago, the sea retreated from the shore at Recua do Mar, Guaratuba, Brazil. ‘Scientists’ are still saying it’s due to a low-pressure bulge sucking water in from around, owing to some massive storm in the south Atlantic. Scientists often offer crass explanations when they haven’t a clue what’s going on.
It’s not an impossible proposition – a similar effect was seen as Hurricane Irma passed the Bahamas two weeks ago. In this case a cursory check of the weather satellites over the region shows once again – this phenomenon started to be observed in mid-August – there is no storm off the coast of Brazil.
But there is further north, as Hurricane Maria has just chewed its way across the northern end of the Caribbean, causing destruction on a grand scale in the Virgin Islands, Costa Rica and the Turks and Caicos islands.
Now, that’s hundreds of miles from southern Brazil. The likelihood of its having an effect over such a distance seems small.
Or does it? (dat-dat-daaaahhh… dramatic incidental music…)
Climatologist Paul Beckwith of Ottawa University has just posted an intriguing series of three podcasts asking the question, can hurricanes cause earthquakes?
The answer appears to be yes. Beckwith points to numerous ‘coincidences’ when hurricanes such as Sandy (2011) have triggered seismological events all across the North American craton, leading to major M6 and M7 earthquakes on the west coast of Canada.
Mexico has been hit or near-missed by four hurricanes and several tropical storms over the past couple of months, while at the same time suffering an unusually intense series of earthquakes and volcanic eruptions – 60 in just the past seven days, including the devastating M7.1 earlier this week. At the time of writing, Oaxaca province has just been hit by a M6.1 earthquake to go with the M8.1 that hit just off the coast two weeks ago. Beckwith also refers to a report we carry briefly above, that the weight of floodwater from Hurricane Harvey was so great as to have depressed the earth’s crust by an inch. That will now be springing back as the waters recede.
I’ve mentioned before, the website of one ‘MrMBB333’, a relatively sane-sounding weather blogger who picked up this story back in August and threw in for good measure, some speculation about the ‘South American Roll’. It’s a way-out theory that suggests that the South American craton (a craton is a continuous, supposedly unfractured and stable tectonic plate) is not stable, and that the subcontinent is threatening to rollover – obviously, when the earth’s geomagnetic poles ‘flip’, as they do approximately every 65 thousand years.
If the force of a large hurricane hitting the East Coast can transfer all the way across the North American plate to cause an earthquake off Vancouver island, is it not possible that even bigger hurricanes like Harvey, Irma, Norma and Max, Tropical Storm Lydia and, now, Hurricane Maria, might be powerful enough to cause the very slight roll, or tilt, of the unstable South American craton that might be needed to briefly expose a few extra meters of the shallow east coast continental shelf off Brazil, without triggering any earthquakes other than in nearby Mexico?
I think we should be told.