Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not

Danny Baker’s Rockin’ Decades: The 70s Slumped in front of the tv last night after a long day of fieldwork about energy usage in Worcestershire, I got Peter Hooked into Danny Baker’s pop music o’ the past chat programme on BBC4, Danny Baker’s Rockin’ Decades. Despite the (I have to assume deliberately) naff title, itContinue reading “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not”

Different Class

BBC research: new UK “class” system Our traditional three classes are now seven. A research unit within the BBC, BBC Lab UK, has conducted a study delving into class identity in Britain to come up with a more meaningful, contemporary sets of groupings. Prof Mike Savage of the London School of Economics and Prof FionaContinue reading “Different Class”

Start The Week: on “big data”

Start The Week (Radio 4): Big Data Here’s a link to this morning’s Start The Week, discussing “big data” and mathematical modelling of data. Well worth a listen. Contributions are from James Owen Weatherall on physicists in finance, Marcus du Sautoy, Kenneth Cukier and sociologist Tiffany Jenkins. While there is an unstoppable logic to gatheringContinue reading “Start The Week: on “big data””

Tips from an even better writer than Joey Barton

Start The Week on Radio 4 this morning is about political writing, using George Orwell‘s essay Politics and the English Language as a launchpad: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01q8l31. Orwell came up with six practical rules to help people avoid bad writing: Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing inContinue reading “Tips from an even better writer than Joey Barton”

Culture on Radio 4; Kulturkampf in Ulster

Melvyn Bragg on the Value of Culture Happy New Year! Caught some of this Melvyn Bragg series yesterday (link above for those in the UK) and today while dragging myself up from hibernatory winter sleep, exploring the history of debates over the last century and a half about ‘culture‘ – what the word means andContinue reading “Culture on Radio 4; Kulturkampf in Ulster”

How We Took Control Over Our Stiff Upper Lips

Ian Hislop’s Stiff Upper Lip – An Emotional History of Britain I never tire of watching Peter Cook‘s WW2 officer announcing to valiant subordinate Jonathan Miller in Beyond The Fringe: Perkins, I want you to lay down your life. We need a futile gesture at this stage … Miller as Perkins accepts his fate withContinue reading “How We Took Control Over Our Stiff Upper Lips”

Knocked unconscious

Last night’s Horizon on BBC2 was really fascinating – throwing some light onto the unconscious mind. Thanks John Habershon of Momentum for alerting me to this through the ICG email group. Horizon: Out of Control? Some great stuff to show how unaware people are of what their brain is making them do: an experiment whereContinue reading “Knocked unconscious”

White Light, White Heat: A Social Experiment

Like the BBC’s flagship new drama series White Heat, I’m thinking just now about being young again. No, I’m not consulting Goldie Hawn‘s face doctor, I’m just doing a little job for the AQR. Having noticed that my youth has slammed the door on me, the AQR is involving me in a little initiative toContinue reading “White Light, White Heat: A Social Experiment”

Katy Brand, John Gray and the folly of pinning all our hopes on science

Here’s a quote and a half – from the brilliant Straw Dogs by John Gray (Professor of European Thought at LSE), written ten years ago now: Modern humanism is the faith that through science humankind can know the truth – and so be free. But if Darwin’s theory of natural selection is true this isContinue reading “Katy Brand, John Gray and the folly of pinning all our hopes on science”

Boiling it down should make you sweat

Diane Abbott‘s twitter controversy last week was something of a storm in a teacup (white or black tea, it certainly could have done with some more sweetener in it). But what interested me was her defence: that it was hard to capture the context – discourses about the legacy of colonialist thinking – in 140Continue reading “Boiling it down should make you sweat”