mcgillianaire: (India Flag)


It's not often an English pop song is a copy of a Tamil film song, but one example is American hip-hop artist will.i.am's "It's My Birthday", a UK number one hit single last year. It's surprising how this song escaped my notice, but it's always a pleasure to make such discoveries. Wikipedia confirms the connection between the two songs. Indeed there is a reference to the Tamil original in the opening lines of the English song. To come across this while listening to piano renditions of English pop songs on Spotify was especially gratifying, because I had just wondered whether Spotify also stored piano renditions of Tamil and Bollywood numbers. I still don't know the answer to that question, but you could be fooled into thinking there was at least one in the database.
mcgillianaire: (India Flag)

The documentary banned in India. If this video is removed then I will try and replace it with one that works.
mcgillianaire: (South Park Me)


"Lottery commercials are incredibly seductive and they're also everywhere. States spend half a billion on them every year and the reason they do that, is [that] the lottery is a massive moneymaker for them. Last year alone, lottery sales totalled about $68 billion. That's more than Americans spent last year on movie tickets, music, porn, the NFL, Major League Baseball, and video games, combined. Which means Americans spend more on the lottery than they spent on America." (Gorra love John Oliver.)
mcgillianaire: (Union Jack)

And wot would an entry about the British fourth estate be without one of my favourite comedy moments making yet another appearance on this blog:

mcgillianaire: (BBC Logo)

Paul Dacre, speaking passionately against press regulation in October 2011.

A fortnight ago, I couldn't even picture the man running Britain's second biggest-selling newspaper, The Daily Mail. I knew who Paul Dacre was, and I had (irrationally) grown to dislike him, but beyond that, I didn't know anything about him.

I had absolutely no idea about his life, what he sounded like, or whether his own views coincided with the controversial ones propagated by his middle-market tabloid. He was an enigma. A hidden sort of satanic figure, an imaginary Norman-Tebbit-Spitting Image-like-puppet machinating in the background. Now, a fortnight later, and the devil has been unmasked.

It began with BBC Radio 4 profiling him, as a response to the furore caused by a Daily Mail article written by Geoffrey Levy at the end of last month, provocatively headlined "The Man Who Hated Britain", referring to Ralph Miliband, the late father of Labour Party leader - and Daily Mail bete-noire - Ed. Then, yesterday, Dacre ventured into the dark side himself by writing in The Guardian, his rag's arch-nemesis in the eyes of his mob, sorry, readers. Sound a bit dramatic? It certainly felt surreal.

Throw into that mix a running feud between The Mail and Auntie, the post-Leveson repercussions, the Snowden revelations, and you have the perfect ingredients for a box office blockbuster. And best of all, we still don't know how it'll end yet.

For what it's worth, I'm with Paul Dacre on press regulation. I do believe that along with certain other things, such as: parliamentary privilege, free, fair and secret ballot elections, and an impartial judiciary wedded to the rule of law; a free press, warts and all, is essential to the healthy functioning of a democracy. Dacre is right to point out the disproportionate coverage by the BBC over the Ralph Miliband story, in comparison with the Guardian's revelations of the Edward Snowden documents.

As much as I am Auntie's cheerleader and part-time Guardianista, I would rather live in a country that allowed all views to be aired freely, even ones that disgust me. That does not mean the press can publish whatever they want. Nor should they be limited by a Royal Charter or even self-regulation. The solution lies in the application of existing laws on defamation, contempt and other relevant crimes as and when necessary. Some of the existing laws are already too stringent, particularly those relating to the freedoms of expression and privacy as embedded into English law by the Human Rights Act, via the European Convention. Even so, I would still prefer judges to recalibrate the imbalance on a case-by-case basis, rather than a regulator.

In any democracy worth its salt, there needs to be a clear separation of powers between the legislature, executive, judiciary AND (especially) the press. Many constitutional law textbooks do not include the press as an organ of government, and perhaps rightfully so, as it does not directly partake in the law-making process. However, it is precisely because of that unofficial status, it should be able to remain independent and hold the State to account. The last thing we need is for an official branch of government to interfere with a centuries-old institution, that has done more good than harm. Let those who break the law be held to account by the courts, and let the Great British public decide for themselves who deserves their readership or not.
mcgillianaire: (BBC Logo)


I watched this video for the first time a few days ago and it inspired me to make an entry about the interviewee, Enoch Powell. Little did I know that I'd be posting it here tonight because of the interviewer, Sir David Frost. At the moment I read the news on Sunday morning via a tweet, I felt numb and disoriented. Only a few hours earlier I had watched the latest episode of Al Jazeera's The Frost Interview, with Marc Andreessen, Silicon Valley software pioneer and co-founder of Netscape browser. I hadn't watched the Qatari-based news channel in many weeks, and I wasn't really paying attention to the telly when I switched over to it. Until I thought I heard a familiar voice. As I turned around I realised it was only a voice-over, which made me a tad hesitant that it was really him, but within a few seconds he appeared on screen and removed all doubt. It felt like a reminder to finalise that entry on Enoch Powell. Turns out dad watched the same programme last night as well.

Sir David was my favourite political interviewer, but unlike most Brits, Americans and Australians, who may have had the pleasure of growing up with him in one form or another, I didn't really get to know him until I moved to Montreal for university in 2002. Until then, I had been fed scraps from his Breakfast with Frost programme that was broadcast on the BBC World channel that we received in Oman. However once I had access to high speed internet and the freedom to do as I please, I was able to watch every episode of Breakfast with Frost, in full, via the BBC website. In those days, a number of Auntie's political TV programmes were available internationally. However, by the summer of 2004, several were made unavailable. But not Breakfast with Frost. Those were the heady days of the Iraq War and Frost's interviews with Bush, Blair and other prominent politicians, made for gripping as well as entertaining viewing from across the pond. I was struck by his warm and charming interviewing manner, in which his guests were lulled into a false sense of security, before he delivered a knock-out punch. He was the smiling assassin. He always seemed so interested in what the interviewee had to say. Whether he meant it or not was irrelevant, because he seemed to be at pains to make the participant feel at ease. And he was obviously so knowledgeable. He struck me as a conversationalist with the gift of listening. He could be cocky and witty too.

By the time I moved here in the summer of 2007, I had become aware of the Frost/Nixon play, and thanks to YouTube, I was able to play catchup with what I'd missed. Then came the Frost/Nixon film in the autumn of 2008, and a programme in 2010 on BBC Four, presented by him on the history of satire on TV. As a massive fan of political satire and history, it was more than I could've asked for. But it was not until the satire documentary that I realised his original connection with America, nor how big he became there over the years. In more recent months I came across a YouTube account of TV-am clips from the moment of its inception in the 1980s. Until then I had never realised Sir David's role in it, nor how he was almost solely responsible for introducing breakfast television, which we all take for granted today, into these Isles. I also never realised his connection with Australia as a result of that venture. The more I watched of him, the more I grew to like him. In particular I loved his style in front of the camera from programmes such as That Was the Week That Was. I think it's fair to say he was a lot more cocky and direct in those days, and although he may have mellowed in later years, he never lost that knock-out punch technique which floored many an interviewee. His was a stellar career spanning over fifty years, spread over four continents. He was perhaps the best known British journalist outside these Isles until BBC World arrived in the 1990s.

And then there's the hour-long interview with Enoch Powell from 1969, a year after Powell's explosive speech about immigration. As I watched the interview I was impressed with how well Powell kept his cool, despite Sir David's provocations. I doubt any modern politician or their media minder would allow someone to get away with such style of questioning today, but there was still something charming and witty about it. None of his modern successors are a patch on him. Not Paxo, not Andrew Neil, nor Jon Snow. The nearest equivalent is perhaps Eddie Mair. Frost was certainly one of a kind. A man of many talents, who paved the way and brought new ideas. In his tribute on the radio a couple hours ago, Barry Cryer described him as a practicing catalyst. He was certainly that. And although oft overused, he was certainly a legend too. We may never see the likes of him again and for that, he will be sorely missed. Farewell, good night, and thank you for the memories.
mcgillianaire: (Union Jack)


I consider this speech one of the greatest ever and I remember the goosebumps I felt when I heard it for the first time ten-and-a-half years ago. Even after several dozen viewings a decade later, it doesn't fail to induce the same feelings. As the West prepares to attack Syria in the coming days, it's worth reminding ourselves of the arguments against military intervention without international agreement or domestic support. Robin Cook's passing was a great loss to British politics.

EDIT @ 16.30, AUG 28:
Does anybody recognise the other politicians, besides Cook and Corbyn, in that still-image of the video? I feel like I should know the names of the chap sitting immediately to Cook's right, and the chap sitting immediately behind him to his left (with hands crossed), but I haven't been able to figure it out in ten years, leaving me with little chance to figure out the others either. The chap on the top left of the screen reminds me of Richard Griffiths.
mcgillianaire: (BBC Logo)
Radio 4's Today presenter James Naughtie interviewed the late Christopher Hitchens and his equally feisty brother Peter at the 2005 Hay Literary Festival about their controversial views, the Iraq war and religion. Listen here. There's also a transcript of another interview with the two from the same Festival. And below is an interview with a cancer-stricken Hitchens from last year.

mcgillianaire: (Cricket Stumps)


Barring the "blip" in England over the summer, it's been a great year for Indian cricket, and it's fair to say we've got the Windies on the ropes in the 2nd Test at Kolkata. Laxman's love affair with Eden Gardens continued with his fifth Test century there in 10 matches, adding to Dravid's fifth Test century of the year from yesterday. And if fading light hadn't curtailed play we probably would've grabbed another wicket. I still reckon we can win it by Thursday. To think they said we'd lost our appetite for Tests...
mcgillianaire: (South Park Me)


All you need to know is that this guy's a candidate for the 2012 U.S. Republican Party presidential nomination.
mcgillianaire: (Ari G)


There's a good chance this is going to be the next Number 1 single on the Official UK Asian Charts and although it was only officially released a few weeks ago, it made its way to the airwaves at the beginning of the summer. Composed by an Indian musical director as part of the soundtrack for the Bollywood movie Ra One, the singer is Senegalese-American pop star Akon. And it's got English, Hindi and even Tamil lyrics. With a catchy beat it's win-win-win as far as I'm concerned!
mcgillianaire: (Cricket Stumps)
Two videos to remember the former English Test fast bowler.



mcgillianaire: (Lock Stock Still-frame)


Can you think of a better way for the most famous musical act in history to sign off, than this impromptu live gig on a central London rooftop? It was a cold day in January 1969 and The Beatles had not played live since 1965. They were in the midst of recording their final album, Let It Be, when they found themselves on the roof of Apple Records on Savile Row and disrupting businesses' lunch nearby. The Fab Four played five songs from their last effort including Get Back in the clip above (accompanied by Billy Preston on keyboards). You can watch a longer version here. By the time the Old Bill made it to the roof, a healthy crowd had gathered on neighbouring rooftops and the street below. And in response to their warm applause at the end of the last song (a repeat of Get Back because the coppers had missed the beginning of the show!), Lennon quipped, "I'd like to say 'thank you' on behalf of the group and ourselves, and I hope we passed the audition!" (Hat tip)

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