Davos Newbies Home

Every MP should have one 

Labour MP Clive Soley: “There are now at least four MP’s with web logs and I suspect the number will grow in the next year or two. Soon every MP will be expected to have one. The teenage use of chatrooms is producing an interactive computer literate generation who will expect MP’s and other elected representatives to use this type of communication.”

“One comment on my Fabian paper started with ‘What a load of balderdash’ and went on in a fairly aggressive argumentative style. But it ended with ‘…it is privilege for all of us to be able to debate openly…’

“That’s why I’m a blogging MP!”

Sceptic on the thwarted gas attack  

Sadly, Channel 4 News’s John Snow doesn’t have a weblog. What he does write, however, is a daily email to provide a heads-up on stories for his 7pm newscast.

Today, he’s a sceptic about reports that a terrorist poison gas attack in Britain has been foiled. Here’s Snow:

“ABC Television News in America is making the startling claim tonight that Britain has been spared a major chemical attack using a substance called osmium tetroxide. Now I’m not a chemical man but this sounds suspiciously like the gas that might be exuded from the decomposing body of Osama himself. Now, given that Osama is not yet, so far as we know, decomposing, I am suspicious in the extreme. However as the BBC and Sky have gone big on it given the global nature of telecommunications these days, we are bound to take a sniff. And I can tell you if you do, this particular substance is foul indeed.

“But can it really be used as an agent of chemical warfare… doubtful. Frankly, this is one of those moments when I shall hope to persuade my fellow hacks here that how ever much noise people are making about this ‘revelation’ we have absolutely no independent corroboration that there is any truth in this story.

“But I can tell you, I can see the headlines now ‘Terror Gas Attack on Britain foiled’, ‘Smelly Gas threatened to Kill Thousands’ and perhaps ‘Gasman Cometh’. Now I don’t want to jest we all worry about chemical attacks on Britain, but chemical attacks aren’t easy, this gas is obscure and so far I don’t buy it. And by that I don’t mean the gas, I mean the story. Tom Clarke is on the case. Sorry to go into all that at length but you know in these dicey times it’s a good idea to set one’s stall out and sort out the chaff from the wheat and frankly, this has all the whiff of chaff.”


Via Crooked Timber, here’s a wonderful essay on Yiddish by Michael Chabon. A brief extract:

“I dream of two possible destinations. The first might be a modern independent state very closely analogous to the State of Israel–call it the State of Yisroel–a postwar Jewish homeland created during a time of moral emergency, located presumably, but not necessarily, in Palestine; it could be in Alaska, or on Madagascar. Here, perhaps, that minority faction of the Zionist movement who favored the establishment of Yiddish as the national language of the Jews were able to prevail over their more numerous Hebraist opponents. There is Yiddish on the money, of which the basic unit is the herzl, or the dollar, or even the zloty. There are Yiddish color commentators for soccer games, Yiddish-speaking cash machines, Yiddish tags on the collars of dogs. Public debate, private discourse, joking and lamentation, all are conducted not in a new-old, partly artificial language like Hebrew, a prefabricated skyscraper still under construction, with only the lowermost of its stories as yet inhabited by the generations, but in a tumbledown old palace capable in the smallest of its stones (the word nu) of expressing slyness, tenderness, derision, romance, disputation, hopefulness, skepticism, sorrow, a lascivious impulse, or the confirmation of one’s worst fears.”

Telegraph joins the RSS train 

I was looking at something on the Telegraph site and I noticed a familiar orange box at the bottom of the page. It turns out the Telegraph has a bunch of RSS 2.0 feeds. I may not agree with its politics, but somebody there knows what they’re doing.

The Guardian, which is generally light years ahead in its web presence, makes finding feeds a difficult task. I know there’s this, but I couldn’t find it on The Guardian’s own site.

By my reckoning, the Telegraph now joins the BBC (there’s an unlikely match) in making it easy to subscribe to a feed.

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