Dirty Feed

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By John Hoare. Read about the site, visit the archives,
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21.05.17

Dirty Feed III

Posted 21st May 2017

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Ah, how time changes. Back in 2010, changing the name of this site from Transistorized to Dirty Feed only warranted a tweet, not a proper mention on here. In 2011, the same was true for a brand new design for the site. These days, however, I’m prone to long, rambling posts on the subject instead. Many apologies. On the other hand, I have been promising a redesign of this place for fucking years, so finally launching it deserves at least a little ceremony.

So, what’s new?

A responsive design
The old site was pretty unfriendly on mobile, and I’m not entirely sure it being designed in 2011 is much excuse. Finally, you can view the site on your phone without it being a pain in the arse. (Though knowledgeable people shouldn’t dig through my CSS too much. And beginners shouldn’t try to learn anything from it. In fact, nobody should go near it, ever.)

Proper archive pages
Trying to navigate the archives of the old site was rather annoying, and I always meant to fix it… but never did. You can now view a chronological list of articles by year, and I’ve also vastly improved the categorisation of articles. Finally, you can see all my edits articles in one place. Or perhaps you’d like to help me with my collection of sitcom recording leaflets?

Best Of
Speaking of categorisation, all the articles which aren’t quite as shit as the other ones are now to be found in one handy place.

Comments
I very nearly got rid of comments on the new site entirely1 – partly because some articles on here don’t really suit having comments at the bottom, and partly to get rid of the spam problem – but that seemed a blunt instrument considering comments can be really useful. So I’ve decided to take a more selective approach – articles where comments are useful will have comments open for a couple of months or so. Other pieces will never have comments open in the first place.

Have a mess around, and let me know of any issues you find – either on Twitter, via email at jhoare@gmail.com, or in the comments below. The previous design rather stagnated – think of this one as a living, breathing thing, which will hopefully improve over time. It’s nowhere near perfect – and some articles from 2010-2013 aren’t fully converted to the new design yet – but hey, it’s a start.

Right, I’m off to watch every single episode of Come Back Mrs. Noah and attempt to extract something meaningful from the experience.


  1. More exactly, I nearly got rid of being able to add new comments to the site. I never would have got rid of the old ones

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17.05.17

The only post on the internet which uses McDonald’s to talk about the intricacies of television playout

Posted 17th May 2017

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McDonald's logo on black

Let’s take one of this site’s brief excursions into something which is actually a current news story.

“McDonald’s has decided to withdraw its latest TV advert, which was criticised for exploiting childhood bereavement.

The fast food giant had already apologised for “upset” caused by the advert, first aired on 12 May.

It features a boy who struggles to find something in common with his dead father until he goes to McDonald’s.

A spokeswoman for McDonald’s said the British advert will be removed from all media this week and it will review its creative process to avoid a repeat.”

I don’t really want to get into whether the advert is offensive or not; there are plenty of places elsewhere where you can get into that kind of debate. I want to pull my usual trick and pick out one sentence in the story and talk about something entirely different instead.

Today, that sentence is the following:

“Due to the lead-times required by some broadcasters, the last advert will air on Wednesday 17 May.”

My response: what the fuck?

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25.04.17

Wikitribune: The Real Revolution

Posted 25th April 2017

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So, today sees the announcement of Wikitribune, a brand new news site:

Jimmy Wales, the co-founder of Wikipedia, is launching a new online publication which will aim to fight fake news by pairing professional journalists with an army of volunteer community contributors.

Wikitribune plans to pay for the reporters by raising money from a crowdfunding campaign.

Wales intends to cover general issues, such as US and UK politics, through to specialist science and technology.

Those who donate will become supporters, who in turn will have a say in which subjects and story threads the site focuses on. And Wales intends that the community of readers will fact-check and subedit published articles.

Describing Wikitribune as ‘news by the people and for the people,’ Wales said: ‘This will be the first time that professional journalists and citizen journalists will work side-by-side as equals writing stories as they happen, editing them live as they develop, and at all times backed by a community checking and rechecking all facts.'”

I shall leave it to others to ponder whether this style of journalism is a good thing, or even if it will actually work in any way whatsoever. (I find the launch video ridiculously simplistic – there was some bad journalism in the old days, and some great journalism now – but maybe a more nuanced take is impossible when you’re launching something like this.) As ever, I want to concentrate on something else.

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13.04.17

The Layer Tennis Archives

Posted 13th April 2017

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“We’ll be playing matches using lots of different applications, from Adobe® Photoshop® to Adobe® Flash®, but the basic idea is the same no matter what tools are in use. Two artists (or two small teams of artists) will swap a file back and forth in real-time, adding to and embellishing the work. Each artist gets fifteen minutes to complete a “volley” and then we post that to the site. A third participant, a writer, provides play-by-play commentary on the action, as it happens. The matches last for ten volleys and when it’s complete, everyone with an opinion sounds off in the Forums and we declare a winner.”

“How The Game Works”, layertennis.com (2009)

One of my favourite things to do on Fridays used to be to sit and watch a game of Layer Tennis. It’s a very difficult thing to describe exactly how much fun watching this was, and I never thought anyone involved with the game quite managed it either. It’s something you really have to experience, moment by moment, to fully get how much fun the game is.

The other day, I was thinking back to one of the game’s most memorable matches. That was between Shaun Inman and Gregory Hubacek; the final of Season 2, back in 2009. This was notable for the huge delay on one of Hubacek’s serves – I distinctly remember the tension in the air as we all waited… and waited… and waited. With all the genuinely brilliant serves from the many talented participants, this being a particular memory is probably massively unfair, but what are you going to do? Memorable sporting moments come from somebody breaking their leg in half as well as genuine sporting achievement.

Full of all these memories, recently I decided to search for the match in the site’s archives. But oddly enough, there was no record of the match there at all. Which is really, really weird, considering it was the final of Season 2. What kind of archive doesn’t include the final match of a whole season of play? And if the archives miss out that match, then what other matches have gone AWOL?

With the help of The Wayback Machine, I’ve done some investigating. There have been four seasons of the game under the name Layer Tennis. (The previous incarnation of the game, Photoshop Tennis, is not examined here.) Of those four seasons, the fourth has every match included in the archive in full. But matches are missing for each of the first three seasons.

Let’s take a look at which ones, shall we?

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10.04.17

Customs Clearance Ltd

Posted 10th April 2017

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Today, I had to pay a customs charge on a t-shirt order from Threadless.1 This article is not moaning about that customs charge. Sure, I don’t expect to be hit with one when I select the “Standard Plus with Prepaid Customs” shipping option, but that’s not my real issue.2

No, my real issue is: why the hell does brokerage company Customs Clearance Ltd do everything possible to make themselves look like a scam site, even though they aren’t?

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  1. I’m especially looking forward to this one

  2. UPDATE @ 11:25pm: Here’s customer service for you. I idly complained about this on Twitter, and Threadless’s help team found the tweet and refunded the extra customs charge within five minutes of contacting me. That’s some of the best service I’ve ever experienced with any company. Fantastic. 

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06.04.17

History of a Joke: Enid Blyton’s Been Keeping Busy

Posted 6th April 2017

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The following is the most popular tweet I have ever written. (In fact, the only tweet I’ve ever made which has seriously gone viral in any meaningful way.)

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02.04.17

Now That’s What I Call Alan Partridge:
2017 Mixcloud Edition

Posted 2nd April 2017

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Back in 2010 – long before this bugger was released – I created an I’m Alan Partridge soundtrack album. It featured not only songs from the show, but also clips and jingles and a few surprises, hopefully all mixed together in something approaching a fun way. It’s by far the best thing I’ve done on this site, and it’s been a slow inexorable decline ever since.

Originally it was hosted by MediaFire, until it got booted off for copyright infringement. Then it was hosted on my Dropbox, where amazingly it managed to survive until very recently. But with the latest disabling of all Dropbox public folders, it managed to fall offline yet again. So I thought it was about time I uploaded it somewhere legal rather than trying my luck once more.

Enjoy.

Now, I really must get round to making that Maid Marian and Her Merry Men album…

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22.03.17

Nico Hines Redux

Posted 22nd March 2017

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Congratulations, apologising in a red alert situation, a new record time: 220 days, 14 hours, and 33 minutes.

Yes, seven months after this unpleasantness, Nico Hines has finally said sorry. Though to be honest, I don’t really want to dwell on his apology too much. Seven months is far too late, and I really don’t feel anything behind his words.1

But Nico himself always bothered me less than The Daily Beast as a whole in this story. And the worst thing about that article is the “Editor’s Note” attached to it. Here is the most pertinent section:

“We’ve said it before: as a newsroom we succeed together and we fail together. Our belief in this has not changed. After months of internal review and discussion – made more poignant by our current national climate – we as a newsroom are as mindful and committed as ever to the responsibility we have as independent journalists to not only tell the truth but further the public good. We will continue to stand up to bullies and bigots, value an inclusive culture and be a proud and supportive voice for the LGBTQ community.”

Here’s the thing. It’s all very well saying you’ve had a lengthy “internal review”. But without reporting the results of that review, any repeated apologies are pointless. The really important thing about this story isn’t Nico Hines’s behaviour, however pathetic it’s been. The important thing is the complete and utter failure of The Daily Beast’s editorial processes. And after seven months, The Daily Beast STILL doesn’t seem to get this.

I don’t mind them saying they succeed or fail as a newsroom together. I have no problem with that. But they still haven’t managed to explain how the bloody hell they failed.

This is not an impossible thing to do properly. I point everyone yet again to how Grantland dealt with a similar controversy. I’m not going to quote any of that again here – it’s worth reading the whole thing in full. And after reading it, you have a full understanding of exactly what their editorial process were, how they failed, and exactly what they did to improve them – and not in generalities, but how they applied to their specific error in judgement. In excruciating and excoriating detail.

All we’ve had from The Daily Beast are vague apologies, and promises to do better. For some mistakes, that’s enough. Not this. The potential consequences of this one were just too dire to hand-wave away. As it is, they’ve had seven months to tell us what really happened, and they’ve failed. At this point, they clearly have no intention of actually doing what they really need to do.

Nico Hines may well have gone on a leisurely seven month journey to enlightenment, but The Daily Beast as a whole clearly haven’t. I will waste precisely zero further time on them.


  1. Incidentally, isn’t it weird that Nico Hines hasn’t tweeted a link to his apology? And yet he’s updated his bio to remove the reference to Rio. Hmmmmmm. 

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19.03.17

The Cook Report: Colin Stagg

Posted 19th March 2017

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The Cook Report, 26th November 1996, ITV, 8:30pm:

ROGER COOK: Colin Stagg was the the prime suspect in the Rachel Nickell murder case. He was charged after an undercover policewoman enticed him to talk about his fantasies of sex and violence. A judge threw the case out before a jury was even sworn in, and condemned the murder squad’s tactics. Although innocent in the eyes of the law, many people still see him as guilty.

Stagg was found not guilty. Robert Napper pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Rachel Nickell in 2008.

COLIN STAGG: There’s nothing there to tie me in with any crime whatsoever.
ROGER COOK: There’s no forensic evidence.
COLIN STAGG: No forensic, no.
ROGER COOK: Which there wouldn’t be, one would think, after two months. If there had been, it would have gone, wouldn’t it?

Stagg was found not guilty. Robert Napper pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Rachel Nickell in 2008.

COLIN STAGG: Nobody can remember what they were watching on TV two months ago, at a certain time, but it was around about that time quiz programmes were coming on.
ROGER COOK: So it fitted what you needed to say, some people might say?

Stagg was found not guilty. Robert Napper pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Rachel Nickell in 2008.

ROGER COOK: Question 28 on the lie detector test said “Are you a violent man?” – and you said…
COLIN STAGG: I said no.
ROGER COOK: Right. Did you stab your brother?

Stagg was found not guilty. Robert Napper pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Rachel Nickell in 2008.

ROGER COOK: There are two good examples of violence there.
COLIN STAGG: I was reacting like any normal human being would.
ROGER COOK: Well, that’s for others to judge, I guess. Some people though would say that this is another example of your continuing inconsistencies, and that there have been so many untruths, so many lies told, perhaps you don’t know the difference between the truth and a lie.

Stagg was found not guilty. Robert Napper pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Rachel Nickell in 2008.

ROGER COOK: In all, Lizzie James was sent dozens of letters, each more revolting and sexually depraved than the last, some disturbingly similar to the attack on Rachel.

Stagg was found not guilty. Robert Napper pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Rachel Nickell in 2008.1

ROGER COOK: But the lie detector was only one of three tests we asked Colin Stagg to take. We also took him to a hypnotist used by many doctors, who told us he’d resisted all attempts to induce hypnosis. And after a psychiatrist explained that the truth drug – though completely safe – was also difficult to defeat, he finally refused to take it.

Stagg was found not guilty. Robert Napper pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Rachel Nickell in 2008.

ROGER COOK: Yet all these other questions, Colin Stagg, remain unanswered.
COLIN STAGG: I’ve answered them as best as I could, and I did my best.
ROGER COOK: Then it’s up to the viewers to decide who to believe.
COLIN STAGG: Fair enough.

Stagg was found not guilty. Robert Napper pleaded guilty to the manslaughter of Rachel Nickell in 2008.

*   *   *

One final thing, in case anyone thinks that all this is very easy to point out with the benefit of hindsight. When Colin Stagg was acquitted in 1994, Justice Ognall said the honeytrap set by the Met police was “not merely an excess of zeal, but a blatant attempt to incriminate a suspect by positive and deceptive conduct of the grossest kind”.

That was 1994. This episode of The Cook Report was 1996. And yet it constantly relies on clip after clip after clip of Stagg’s police interview, along with Cook stating the police’s point of view over and over again.

To call this programme reprehensible doesn’t need hindsight. It’s the fact the programme entirely missed the actual story which was plainly in front of them which is hard to believe.


  1. Thank fuck Roger Cook doesn’t have access to my browser history. He’d have me down as Jack the Ripper within minutes. 

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18.03.17

Improving ‘In Case You Missed It’

Posted 18th March 2017

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Despite howls of protest – at least among the hardcore users – Twitter is obsessed with trying to give us non-chronological timelines. And not just with its show “best” tweets first feature – at least that can be turned off. No, we’re talking about the dreaded ‘In Case You Missed It’, cluttering up our timelines something rotten. Which you can helpfully request to be shown less often… but can’t switch off entirely.

Maybe it wouldn’t matter so much if those tweets you missed were actually worth catching. But in my experience, they so rarely are. Still, as an extremely unscientific test, I asked people to send me examples of my own tweets which Twitter somehow thought they needed to see again. With thanks to Mike Scott, Paul Buckle, Richard Goodwin, and David Swallow, here’s what delights from my feed Twitter thought needed a second chance.

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