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Old Alumni Part 2 – Alex Cameron

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Alex Cameron and I first met at college. He was a fun andAlex_Profile_small.jpg unconventional dude, with unkempt hair, a loud voice, a quick wit and
a tendency to go that one step further than everyone else. At one
memorable party, while we were busy drinking and telling Charlotte
Vaughan how nice her house was, he was busy removing all the internal
doors from the entire place and hiding them, before moving downstairs
and exploding an egg in their microwave. He was that kinda guy.
We left college, went our slightly separate ways, and I
occasionally met up and talked with him about computers and old
friends. Then, a couple of years ago, he burst onto the scene –
starting a Mayfair-based company (Digital TX) and harbouring an
incredible idea that could take on the likes of Sky and Virgin Media.
It was always going to be tricky, but if anyone could do it, Alex
could with his enthusiasm, knowledge and downright audacity. He gave
speeches, consultancy, advice, the whole works. He began to know
everybody. He, frankly, was on his way to a dang good future, and he
wasn’t shy of letting everyone notice.
And then, last week, I received an email from him titled “The Offer Of
A Lifetime”. Ominous, I thought. He was over in America, getting finance for his company, and someone had offered him a job. Not just any job, mind you – it’s an absolute
stonker. He’s been offered a multi-million pound deal as a “director… for the newly formed Digital Hollywood consortium”, as he put it. After I’d read the email, a couple of swearwords of admiration passed my lips. If anyone deserves to be obscenely rich, Alex does…
I remember saying at college that Alex, despite finding him a great guy, would end up either incredibly successful or face down in a ditch, such was the wild but brilliant antics. Thankfully, it seems the right path has prevailed! The culture shock of piles of money and success can often bring about that nasty second option – although I think Alex is level-headed enough to cope. Go get ‘em, Alex!

Saddam Shame

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So, Saddam’s dead then, which will surely come as a shock if you’ve been living under a large rock this Christmas. But, in these cases, it’s always worth looking beyond the headlines. Robert Fisk has two articles showing the emerging murky facts about the execution. In “Our complicity dies with him,” Fisk notes that the many secrets Saddam Hussein had about the West’s business dealings with Iraq are gone forever. which is handy for George and Tony. In “A dictator created then destroyed by America“, he points out that “Osama bin Laden will certainly rejoice, along with Bush and Blair.” And finally, for those that wondered why the “official” execution video had no sound, IraqSlogger describes the common-sense and divisive conclusions you can draw from the timing of the execution and the soundtrack on the new sneaky mobile phone video of the execution. Nothing’s as it seems, is it? Happy New Year, Iraq!

“Let’s keep it melancholy.”

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Jac and I have been following the band Easyworld since we were young. Well, younger. When they split, we mourned a little. then David Ford, the lead singer, went solo, and we cheered up a little bit. He is a musical genius, able to play almost any instrument you can think of, and write lyrics that are painfully incisive. Here are some of Easyworld’s videos, and some of David’s own stuff (his own site is davidford.mu.
Anyway, that’s enough of the promotion, I want to boast. David’s been touring Australia and America, and was offering a one-night-only show in London. Tickets sold out before I’d even had the chance to log on and find them. Then he moved to a larger venue – again they were sold out before I got back from work that day. So, clutching at straws, I emailed Jac, who has made some usual friends while trying to get into the music industry. “Can you get some tickets?” I asked him, resigned to the fact there was almost certainly no chance.
And then, an email from Jac. “I am amazing,”, it started, which was no surprise – he’s become a One Man Publicity Machine of late. Yes, yes, I muttered, why this time? “I have got tickets for David Ford tonight.”
As I entered The Borderline venue that night, I had to admit that for once Jac was amazing. Here we were at a sold out gig, with two free guest tickets. Ford’s supporting act were the surprisingly good Angus and Julia Stone, a brother and sister who had travelled from Australia to break themselves in over here. And then, sweet lord, it was David Ford, telling everyone who cheered to “keep it melancholy, alright?” It was the first time I’d seen him live, and he was better than I’d even imagined. Using everything he could lay his hands on to make musical sounds, he was a one man band with a difference, proving that music can be everywhere and that he actually didn’t need any other band members at all. Jac’s musical review is here. Word has it he’s doing well in America at the moment – let’s hope he doesn’t stay over there. He’s a bit of a secret on the music scene at the moment, and perversly I’d quite like him to stay that way…
And then the train drivers went on strike, meaning that I spent an uncomfortable 90 minutes in the back of a taxi with two Guildford-based indians who could barely speak English. It was worth it, though…

The Right Man

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Now, I’m not usually one to dabble in American politics on here. Bloggerheads is the place to go for that stuff. However, that’s not to say I don’t follow the yanks with their political planks. I don’t know how many of you have stumbled on The Daily Show, broadcast in America and syndicated over here – it’s meant to be a humourous view of American politics, but manages to be almost the only truthful show out there. The video archive site YouTube has loads of show clips – have a look at all of these. The show came to reach epic proportions when its presenter Jon Stewart went on a “serious” political discussion show Crossfire, and instead of being funny managed to rip them to shreds – so much so that Crossfire was taken off the air a couple of months later. Jon Stewart gave his reaction to the appearance, too.
The reason I’m telling you this? Well, tonight I found this gem of a clip from The Daily Show that manages to ridicule President Bush so brilliantly simply. I’m in awe of the show and its presenter, can you tell?

Blown Away

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New Orleans. I’d always wondered what it’s like. Now, I suppose, only photographs and video will be able to tell me thanks to Hurricane Katrina. If you need a wake up call as to how the situation has descended into anarchy, read this email that was sent to BoingBoing, and read this account of the current anarchy in what used to be one of the iconic cities of America. Watching the news last night, they revealed that with rivers covering the sides and a huge lake on the fourth, it was such a precariously-placed city that its no wonder it would eventually succumb. The defences, bizarrely, were only built to deal with a Category Three storm. Hurricane Katrina at points became a top-notch Category One hurricane.
Of course, it’s not just New Orleans that has taken the brunt. Gulfport has been utterly thrashed. have a look at the photos on Flickr for up to the minute sights and minds…

The Daily Show – A Seminal Moment

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Political apathy is evident everywhere nowadays. There’s discussion on the cause, but most agree that the media are guilty of marginalising the power of the vote. I just thought it was this country – but The Daily Show, hosted by the razor-witted, sharp-tongued, Emmy award winning Jon Stewart, shows that it’s alive and kicking in America too.
The Daily Show started as a comedic look at the days’ political events in America. Now, it’s the only show which gives it to you straight, in a humourous way that really sticks in your mind. Jon Stewart, in my opinion, is the funniest political comedian I have ever seen, and his show appears to outclass all other “news” shows in America.
So, why am I telling you this now? Well, Jon was invited yesterday onto “Crossfire”, a popular political show on CNN, to discuss his new book. But, instead of promoting, he accused the mainstream media – and his hosts in particular – of being soft and failing to do their duty as journalists to keep politicians and the political process honest.
It was one of the most powerful televised exchanges in recent history. Instead of pushing the tome, Stewart used his time to verbally slap the network and the media for being “dishonest” and “doing a disservice” to the American public. After co-host Tucker Carlson suggested that Stewart went easy on Senator John Kerry when the candidate was a guest on “The Daily Show,” Stewart unloaded on “Crossfire,” calling hosts Carlson and Paul Begala “partisan hacks” and chiding them for not raising the level of discourse on their show beyond sloganeering.
“What you do is not honest. What you do is partisan hackery,” Stewart said. “You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably. I watch your show every day, and it kills me. It’s so painful to watch.”
It takes balls of steel to do something this large. As one of the commenters on Metafilter put it, “Not only is our most honest news program not really a news program, but the only guy on TV who wants to be serious about living up to journalistic responsibility isn’t even a journalist.”
Good luck in the elections, America…
LINKS (because you really have to watch this):
More on the event: Jon Stewart Bitchslaps CNN’s ‘Crossfire’ Show – MTV
Clips from Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show: herehere
The Crossfire showdown: BitTorrentQuicktime videoAnother Quicktime videoWindows Media Player (WMP) videoAnother WMP videoTranscript and videos
Comments/articles on the broadcast: MetafilterMTVSalon.com

You couldn’t make it up. But Bush could…

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Bush Administration Accused of Manufacturing the News (via bloggerheads.com). Ready-made news “packages” were sent to news stations in America, showing pro-Bush reports and using paid actors.
There’ll come a point where the De Niro-based Wag The Dog (tagline: “A Hollywood producer. A Washington spin-doctor. When they get together, they can make you believe anything”) becomes more of a documentary than a film. That time is near, folks…

I Believe in the BBC

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Blair obviously thinks he’s on to a winner with these Inquiries. First the whitewash, now the obscure-question-that-nobody-asked Inquiry. We all want to know the reasons we went to war, and why Blair made the decision. So what does he do? Order an enquiry into intelligence services that, whatever the outcome, doesn’t even touch any political decisions made by him. I’m in awe of the audacity.
But back to the great white Hutton Report. Tim, of bloggerheads fame, has started a campaign to support the BBC in its troubled times:

Click here to find out why.

Click it. Go on. And as Expat says, “The BBC is a venerable institution providing a service to the world, and to have it crippled or eliminated on the basis of an increasingly questionable government investigation would be a travesty.” A travesty that Rupert Murdoch would be pleased about – his media empire loyally reporting the BBC’s demise in America is enough to make you retch…