Lies, Damn Lies, and Advertising

Lies, Damn Lies, and Advertising

Getting away with blatantly bad advertising is harder than you’d think. Car mileage, credit cards, and vacuum cleaners flagrantly twist the rules into knots, but their facts and figures are rarely made up out of nothing. More often than not, their fine print is thick with disclaimers and messages which give the ‘real’ numbers underneath. The reason that these companies stick so close to the real-life numbers isn’t because of their outstanding morals or ethics, it’s the law. There are…

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As Seen on BBC News!

As Seen on BBC News!

Perhaps someone at the BBC thought a mid-week feel-good story was just the ticket at a time of global misery. Perhaps they thought a rags to riches, pull yourself up by the bootstraps tale would be heart-warming motivation to get us through a bleak midwinter Wednesday in lockdown. How and why that story was spun, is perhaps more interesting than the tall tale itself. The BBC front page led with the interesting story of Ben Gulliver this week. A 20-year-old…

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The Things We can(‘t) Afford

The Things We can(‘t) Afford

The economy is a bizarre thing. The word alone is as useful as a magic spell is to a movie franchise superhero. It’s brought into action by politicians and pundits to justify everything from the atrocious to the strange. Stick on a channel, any channel, and you’ll very often hear—we simply can’t afford adequate (one week) foodbank stocks right now. We just don’t have the money. Healthcare, justice, policing, and education have been wrung-dry for over the last decade for…

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Several Ways to Defeat a Pandemic

Several Ways to Defeat a Pandemic

The language we use in talking about COVID is difficult to get right. Do we borrow the military dictionary—already co-opted for medical use in cancer treatments and unrelated illnesses—describing our efforts as a ‘battle’ against an invisible ‘enemy’? Rhetoric which was counterproductive, unhelpful, and outdated two decades ago may be a poor choice for this particular diagnosis. The pandemic might be more accurately described as a natural disaster instead. Fitting more appropriately in a list which includes hurricanes such as…

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A New Model

A New Model

During a particularly strange period of unusual and unprecedented measures, perhaps the strangest of all is the shift of the newspaper industry to begin self-censoring its data. The industry dedicated to frequent fact publishing very suddenly decided to stop. In an era that should be defined by transparent and open media, the centuries-old institution has gone suddenly coy on its own facts and figures. In the final weeks of 2019, the last published figures revealed a freefall in distribution numbers….

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Late Decisions

Late Decisions

If we’ve learnt anything at all from modern news coverage, it’s that we’re unable, or at least unwilling to engage with anything at all unless it’s compressed and simplified into the format of dull sports journalism. At least that is the commonly held belief of every major media outlet and political commentator in the country today. Leave vs Remain, Left Vs Right, Cummings Vs Sense, Masks Vs Freedom, Lockdown Vs the herd. Even a biological pandemic is a political hot…

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Philosophical Differences

Philosophical Differences

When pressed for a reason why it’s worth bothering to vote, you’d find it hard to do better than the response and aftermath of the emerging COVID crisis. If there was ever a cure to the mass apathy and voter lethargy brought on by successive elections then it could be easily found in contrasting responses to the 2020 pandemic. “They’re all as bad as each other” and “it doesn’t matter which one you vote for” are sentiments being proven false…

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End Game

End Game

The world is a terrifying and dangerous place, at least so the saying goes. There are those who would have us believe that daily life is more dangerous today than it has ever been in living history. None of it’s true, of course, and those who would try to convince us it is are almost universally selling right-wing ideology, religion, or newspapers. Occasionally all three. Those selling as if it were, don’t really need it to be true either. A…

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Doubling Down In A Crisis

Doubling Down In A Crisis

The way we respond to crises and adverse events is perhaps the most telling and the most interesting into our own behaviour we have. It’s certainly a lot more revealing than a social media photograph of our own meal or a selfie taken in a queue. It’s the way we do act weighed against the way we wish we, and others around us, acted instead. It’s tempting to imagine we’re highly adaptable creatures who can weather most storms—even pull through…

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Woeful Response

Woeful Response

It would be useful to know how close to home a lesson has to be to learn anything from it at all. Does a near-crash prevent you from speeding in the future? What if it happens to the car in front or the one behind? Does near-death illness prevent drinking, smoking, or drugs? We now know China is too far from home, too remote, and too different to apply lessons learnt from the outbreak to our reaction here. With over…

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