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Archive for the ‘Things I’ve done’ Category

Titanic Express case to feature in Channel Four short tomorrow evening

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At 7.55pm on Monday evening I’ll be on Channel Four,  in the first of a series of short films for the week of the 60th anniversary of the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

I’ll be talking about the massacre that formed the subject of my first book, Titanic Express – in relation to article eight of the UDHR, the right to justice. The film was made by Native Voice films, in collaboration with Amnesty International, and will be showing on Channel Four’s “3 minute wonder” slot. To give some sense of the detail that can go into a TV production, this 3 minute short took the best part of two days to film, with many hours more for editing. It was a fascinating process to be involved with, and from the edits I’ve seen so far I think they’ve done an excellent job.

There’s more background here about the Titanic Express ongoing campaign, and more here on the history of the case.

Written by Richard Wilson

December 7, 2008 at 6:35 pm

I tried “adding value” to Hazel Blears’ weblog, but all I got was this lousy error message…

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Yesterday I wrote about Communities Minister Hazel Blears’ widely publicised attack on political bloggers, in which she claimed that:

There are some informative and entertaining political blogs, including those written by elected councillors. But mostly, political blogs are written by people with a disdain for the political system and politicians, who see their function as unearthing scandals, conspiracies and perceived hypocrisy.

Unless and until political blogging adds value to our political culture, by allowing new and disparate voices, ideas and legitimate protest and challenge, and until the mainstream media reports politics in a calmer, more responsible manner, it will continue to fuel a culture of cynicism and despair.

Just as an experiment, and in the spirit of “adding value”, I went over to Hazel Blears’ blog earlyish yesterday and left a fairly friendly comment about the debate that she’s started.

I got a friendly on-screen message back suggesting that the comment would go up within 1 working day of being received. No sign of it yet…

I suppose it’s possible that the comment, despite my best efforts, fell foul of Blears’ decency rules in some way. According to the note on the website, “all comments are subject to approval by Communities and Local Government, as outlined in our terms and conditions“.

If you then click on the link to find out what these “terms and conditions” are, you currently get this message:

Technical problem

Sorry! An error has occured whilst trying to deliver the page to you. Apologies for any inconvenience caused.

I can’t think of a more appropriate slogan for the UK government online media experience. Welcome to the future of blogging, New Labour style!

See also: “Blears lays the blame”, “That Hazel Blears Speech”, “Hazel Blears, bloggers and the end of civilisation”,“Hazel Blears, bloggers and professional politics”,”Not Nihilistic, Realistic”

*UPDATE 11/11/08: I’m pleased to say that the comment was published yesterday, with a cordial reply from Hazel Blears.

Simon Blackburn on relativism, and whether it matters…

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From Butterflies and Wheels

First the Buddhist talked of the ways to calm, the mastery of desire, the path of enlightenment, and the panellists all said ‘Wow, terrific, if that works for you that’s great’. Then the Hindu talked of the cycles of suffering and birth and rebirth, the teachings of Krishna and the way to release, and they all said ‘Wow, terrific, if that works for you that’s great’. And so on, until the Catholic priest talked of the message of Jesus Christ, the promise of salvation and the way to life eternal, and they all said ‘Wow, terrific, if that works for you that’s great’. And he thumped the table and shouted: ‘No! It’s not a question of it if works for me! It’s the true word of the living God, and if you don’t believe it you’re all damned to Hell!’

And they all said: ‘Wow, terrific, if that works for you that’s great’.

Written by Richard Wilson

October 3, 2008 at 12:01 am

Posted in Things I've done

News just in… I’m rich beyond my wildest dreams

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From; Mrs. Susan Sweeney
Office Address:
Tower 42,Level 35 25 Old Broad
Street London,
EC2N 1HQ DX: 557 London
United Kingdom 
I bring to your notice the winning letter from British Email Promotion Company held on the 4th of AUG, 2008 using an Automated Internet email ballot System, your email address has won the sum of #1,258,250.00 GBP United Kingdom Pounds or $2,500,000.00 USD United States Dollars in category ‘B’ Your winning informations to claim your prize are stated below; 
Reference number: 4365/87NL
Ticket number: 667-87641257
Serial number: 3134/1198 
To claim your prize contact  the paying bank
TEL: 234-80-62479487
….and I particularly liked this deal-closing detail: 
This email promotion is jointly sponsored by Chelsea FC owner Roman Abramovich and Microsoft corporation owner Bill Gates to promote the use of the internet email facility….

Written by Richard Wilson

September 23, 2008 at 8:00 pm

Posted in Things I've done

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Shiny new books!

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While I was at work this morning I had a call from Heleen, who was at home because of a doctor’s appointment (our baby’s due date is more or less a month after the new book comes out!).

Ten shiny new copies of Don’t Get Fooled Again had just landed on the mat – (OK – it was actually the obligatory man turning up with a box and asking you to scribble incoherently on his Ipod, but symbolically it was mats all the way).

It’s the first time I’ve seen a finished copy – they look brilliant – I’m in awe of the graphic designer. After all the late nights, early mornings, emails, phone calls and footnotes, it finally feels as if the job’s done…

Written by Richard Wilson

August 27, 2008 at 9:36 pm

Contacted by the dark side…

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A lot things seem to be happening at once right now: The Guardian has kindly featured an article I’ve written about the latest shenanigans with the Foreign Office, my big sister Charlotte, and the extremist group who killed her in December 2000, Palipehutu-FNL. Burundi’s bad boys recently made contact with me via a supposedly neutral intermediary called Dieudonné Haburagira.

Less than 24 hours after that article was published, the Foreign Office gave their response to the Freedom of Information Act request I made several weeks ago, asking for details of their secret (not any more) meeting with the Palipehutu-FNL leader, Agathon Rwasa.  It makes for an amusing read – the letter listing their reasons for withholding most of what I’ve requested is significantly longer than the document containing the meagre information that they are prepared to give… 

More background on this here – and there’s a burgeoning Facebook campaign on the issue here.

PS – and here’s what my Mum thinks.

Written by Richard Wilson

August 27, 2008 at 7:48 pm

Latest blurb for DGFA

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All being well, this is the text that will actually appear on the cover!

Why is it that, time and again, intelligent, educated people end up
falling for ideas that turn out on closer examination to be nonsense?

We live in a supposedly rational age, yet crazy notions seem increasingly mainstream. New Age peddlers claim to cure Aids with vitamin tablets. Media gatekeepers stoke panic and regurgitate corporate press releases in the name of ‘balance’. Wild-eyed men in sandwich boards blame it all on CIA… Even the word ‘sceptic’ has been appropriated by cranks and conspiracy theorists bent on rewriting history and debunking sound science.

But while it may be easier than ever for nonsense to spread, it’s never been simpler to fight back….

Don’t Get Fooled Again offers practical tools for cutting through the claptrap and unravelling the spin – tackling propaganda, the psychology of deception, pseudo-news, bogus science, the weird cult of “Aids reappraisal”, numerous conspiracy theories (including the one about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq), and much more.

Richard Wilson’s book is user-friendly, enjoyable, shot through with polemic – and argues forcibly for a positive solution. Don’t be a cynic – be a sceptic!

Written by Richard Wilson

August 10, 2008 at 5:23 pm