Who knew?… Anti-virus company founders are the new rock n’ rollers

I have never had any interest in any anti-virus software. I don’t know anything about it, I just want it to work, rather like seeing an oestepath when I’m in pain, I only think about it when something goes wrong.

How wrong I was. The past two weeks have seen John McAfee, the eponymous founder of the McAfee anti-virus software company go all Colonel Kurtz Continue reading

If it wasn’t for Private Eye we’d be morons like the rest of them

Earlier this week my fortnightly copy of Private Eye came through the post and I sighed, rather like a Labrador after it has just pilfered some pig belly crackling.

Like many others I was always minded of Private Eye‘s genius whenever I watched Have I Got News For You or saw the magazine at an airport or railway terminus. Now, thanks to my mother-in-law’s largesse I now receive 26 copies a year.

It is more British than James Bond and even though they turned me down when I offered to work as an intern, I love it more than just about anything else because it reminds me of when journalism was great.

In many ways it is how the Daily Mirror was before Maxwell took over and sidelined the likes of John Pilger and Paul Foot (the latter carried on writing for the Eye and is buried, somewhat bizarrely, opposite Karl Marx in Highgate Cemetery).

The Mirror broke stories such as the killing fields in what was then Cambodia, had a quizword that would challenged Rubik and even reported on sport without being *too* sensational. I used to read it in conjunction with The Guardian and thought I had most information bases covered. Ah, youth, youth, youth.

Nowadays the reason Private Eye is so wonderful because it mixes the truly dull with satire and (for God’s sake) it still uses more than one cartoonist. I’m not overly fond about the machinations of dodgy councillors in Rhyl or somewhere, but I know it’s as important as busting bigger Parliamentarian fish.

Hopefully, now that Newsweek has mutated into a digital-only magazine, Private Eye can take over the airport stationers’ plinths that the former used to occupy and long may it live, as long as sentient people still need news. SUBSCRIBE NOW!

But not it is not only Private Eye that is keeping up great journalism, I found out something interesting yesterday about the New York Times. Apparently they only engage journalists on one-time 18-month contracts, ensuring that its journalism is fresh and its writers do not become too complacent.

That sends out a message and editorial of hope that the world’s publishers still take this game seriously.

Perhaps the future will see many more Martha Gellhorns than Piers Morgans and reporting on how we behave takes its rightful place at the centre of our civilisation…. fingers-crossed.

Ultimately we’ll eat each other and still complain about the salad

This morning, instead of turning on my laptop before I thought of brushing my teeth, I arose and read 100 pages by Pierre-Joseph Proudhon, not (only) because I am a pretentious twit but because I am addicted to reading print.

It behoves me to do so because I am a perennial student and the day I stop learning is the day I rot, but I find it difficult to do anything without reading a book or newspaper. Pure panic attacks me when I enter the *gentlemen’s room* without something to read, it’s certainly not the soothing experience it usually is.

So when I continually hear about (or read about) the death of print something pierces me painfully in the heart and in the bowels. Can this be true? Will the very essence of my being be taken away to be replaced by the first, second, third or whatever screen? SAY IT AIN’T SO, JOE!

I thought it was all talk until recently, I assumed there would be a report that said looking at all these screens not only renders the viewer stupid but destroys eyesight and concentration. Independent bookshops would reopen and the intellectual world would be saved.

It appears not, newspapers are disappearing in traditional form and most of the ones that remain just look like hard copy websites. The Guardian is laying people off after (sadly) living above its means and it is only the weekend newspapers that contain any serious analysis.

Furthermore, the extraordinary collection of British newspapers at the British Library in the North London suburb of Colindale is to close. This collection contains every single newspaper published since the 18th Century; yep, every single one. It is THE resource of our nation.

The collection has now been digitised as the British Newspaper Archive and the newspapers are to put into storage in Yorkshire with the Colindale now a ‘residential opportunity’ for property developers… this is the news about print that has broken me.

Twenty years ago after a working life of managing betting shops in London’s White City estate or Kilburn High Road, and riding motorcycles extraordinarily dangerously as a wannabe Alpha Male of the capital’s despatch riders, my first smart job was a gig at the Colindale Library.

The job was temporary and lasted three weeks. Along with six denizens of Hackney’s squatland (I lived in a proper flat up the road in Stokey, over there I could almost see the class struggle etc) we drove across London to sit in front of reels of Microfiche researching US newspapers and noting down any health stories that were in them.

Our overseer was a small German man who worked for Big Pharma, neither I nor my squatter mates cared about that, it was cash in hand and it was great. I was lucky enough to have the San Francisco Chronicle of the late 1960s as my focus.

Amazing. The moon landings, the dudes in Haight-Ashbury, the terrible killing of Sharon Tate by Charles Manson’s acolytes, Dylan, The Stones, it was the history of my childhood when I had been too young to read or understand it.

When that experience at the Library was over, the German paid us so we took him to an abandoned church in Lower Hackney after the pubs were shut… to see a circus. Bonkers, industrial goths, pimped-up Minis, more anarchic than Archaos had ever been. Crazy stuff, but he loved it and we loved him for the great job he’d given us.

To think that all that history, culture and print beauty is going to be put into storage in Yorkshire renders my world in two and twists my blood around my heart. It’s like humankind eating a brother, eating a sister, setting fire to itself.

In the interim before our imminent doom, the entropic finality of our dying being is being enacted all around us, but we don’t care. We’ll carry on being trivial and eschew our canniablism while we contentedly moan about the quality of the salad.

I’m off to the pub…

‘Hotels’ such as Premier Inn are the cause of death for many a salesman

‘I was sleepin’ like a rat when I heard something jerkin’, there stood Rita looking just like Tony Perkins.’ – Bob Dylan

In Henry Miller’s 1950s deeply scabrous play Death of a Salesman the dying Wily Loman represents the loser side of capitalism and remains the warning for every man who doesn’t make the most of his chances in his career. Continue reading