Wednesday 11 August, 2021

Quote of the Day

“War is the unfolding of miscalculations.”

  • Barbara Tuchman

Exactly the thought I have as I watch the unfolding of Chinese/American rivalry.

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Brian McGrath | Blackthorn Hornpipe, The Blackthorn Reel and The Killarney Boys of Pleasure


Long Read of the Day

The politics of lies: Boris Johnson and the erosion of the rule of law

Terrific dispatch by Annette Dittert, London bureau chief for Germany’s public broadcaster, explaining to her fellow-citizens what has happened to Britain.

And, yes, I realise that we (residents of this sceptered isle) know it all. But it’s interesting to see what a perceptive external observer makes of it.

Thanks to James Miller for spotting it.

How media coverage trivialises harbingers of climate catastrophe

Interesting critique by the Columbia Journalism Review:

The heat wave that swept the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada in late June was an extraordinary disaster. A mass of high-pressure air over the region trapped heat there, creating a “heat dome”—a term that recurred in news coverage. In Oregon, power cables melted; in Washington, roads buckled. Record-breaking temperatures in Lytton, British Columbia, and nearby First Nations communities, were followed by a devastating wildfire.

The sustained temperatures in Washington have since been called “the state’s deadliest weather-related disaster.” According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 800 heat-related deaths occurred across the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia between June 25 and 30. An additional 2,800 people across Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska ended up in an emergency room due to heat-related illness.

The devastating heat—more harbinger than anomaly—exposed weaknesses in the media’s representation of deadly temperatures as well as their connection to climate change. The images that led news stories widely minimized the event. Many photos made it look like a run-of-the-mill heat wave; some were so banal as to conjure stock photography. Photo slideshows confused the issue with a juxtaposition of the ordinary and extraordinary.

For example, this Reuters photograph in the sainted New York Times, which at first sight might suggest a picnic.

The Oxford Reuters Institute published a useful report a while back about international media coverage of the climate crisis.

En passant: Here are the front pages of the main UK newspapers yesterday morning — the day after publication of the IPCC report.

Putting yourself in the shoes of a harassed news editor and you can see why wacky or quirky pictures of people apparently coping with intense heat might be popular. But in aggregate they contribute to public complacency about the looming catastrophe because their subliminal message is: “we can hack it”.

Chart(s) of the Day

So basically the Tory dream of turning Britain into a homeowning democracy looks like a fantasy.

And the consequence of this? An entire generation at the mercy of a rentier class.

(Images from a new website associated with a forthcoming book by Bobby Duffy.)

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