Sunday, March 18, 2007

New era: post-sabbatical, post-humanist

Updated: Monday 19th March Watch this space (having problems with Blogger !!!)

Even a blog in meltdown mode needs a new posting from time to time. In fact some might question whether this semi-abandoned shell still qualifies as a blog, given that the facility for leaving a comment has been withdrawn.

But as indicated, comments are one thing. It's the graffiti that I object to, and in my new post-humanist Mr. Not Nice mode I am frankly not too bothered whether my recent decisions represent the greatest good for the greatest number. That's another principle I've abandoned - from now on, what matters is peace of mind, and a measure of protection for me and my remaining readership from the world's growing population of scumbags, now empowered by the internet to exorcise their demons on a largely defenceless blogosphere.

Speaking of which, I mentioned earlier Shane Richmond's invite to an Open Day (well, evening) at the Telegraph HQ in Victoria. I responded eagerly, getting in the first comment. Later in the thread, who should appear but none other than Richard of Orléans.

To save you going to the link, I have cut-and-pasted my comment and R of O's.

Read them if you have time, especially the second.

Look forward to meeting you

Nice one, Shane. I must hand it to you folk at the Telly - when it comes to the human touch you are streets ahead of the competition.I went to a similar hospitality "do" quite recently at the headquarters of Nice Matin, on the outskirts of (not surprsingly) Nice. That was most interesting - I've been meaning to post my video, complete with noisy soundtrack, but with my own modest blog in semi-hibernation mode, I have not got round to doing so yet. Have just this minute booked my flights - in on the 12th, back the next day. I look forward to meeting you and your splendid team. PLEASE don't change your mind .....

Colin Berry (Antibes, France) at 14 Mar 2007 15:39

CO2 neutral

Shane, your meeting is a nice idea. I just have one concern. In these green times I believe this type of meeting should be as CO2 neutral as possible. Excessive and unreasonable travel should be avoided. I suggest you limit your invitation to those people who live in a 1000 km radius of London. People beyond this limit who really want to attend could come on a bicycle or in a rowing boat. Alternatively take a one way ticket only

Richard of Orléans at 16 Mar 05:57

The question in my mind is this: was the Telegraph right to publish R of O's comment, given that it addressed no issues, and was intended purely as a snipe at a particular expatriate Brit (guess who ?) flying in from a distance of 1000km or greater ( carefully chosen to include Antibes, but exclude Orléans).

There was some later discussion on the thread as to whether Rof O's comment was a good joke. Any views ? If so, emails are invited.

Please indicate whether you are happy for some, or all, your comments to be reproduced here.

First comment (from Louise)

I'm sorry, Colin, but Richard's comment on Shane's blog made me laugh - not about you, just that he manages to whizz in with a few choice words and gets everyone in a flap!'We' know that he was having a prod at you, but Shane is not involved in our blog baiting, so there is no reason why Richard's remark was not published.You can publish this if you wish. Louise

Thank you for the prompt reply, Louise. I have a "post-humanist" response to that which I would not have dared to express in the old era, but will say nothing for now. Any other opinions ?

Update: Sunday 15:45

I'll wait till tomorrow am to see if there are any further comments, and then respond to Louise's comments.

As said earlier, this "blog" is in meltdown, and still in a state of flux as to future shape or direction . When Louise sent her comment which not surprisingly meets all conceivable criteria for acceptability, it was inserted, as you can see, into the body of this post, instead of going to the usual Comments section. I'm obviously aware of a practical problem here - that it's harder to see if one's comment has been used if there's no Comments section.

But then I got to thinking about Comments sections in general, and the way that they can become the tail that wags the dog. No disrepect to Colin Randall, but did he really intend his Telegraph blog to become a chat-room ? Ceri Radford once hinted that it was not how the Telegraph had really intended things to be ( and I can't but help wonder if the new model was not deliberately designed to prevent a recurrence, and to inhibit cliques such as "ours" from taking over the Telly's blogs, given that blog postings now have a very short shelf life - a few days at most).

It's not so long ago that I had to endure Bill Taylor's taunts that Dreams and Daemons was not attracting as many comments as Louise's blog. He said I must be "eating my heart out" as a consequence. My thoughts at the time were unprintable, and still are, where that man and his cheap shots are concerned. Suffice it to say that Louise has herself said there is little or no pleasure to be had from a 100 comments if they are the result of undignified dogfights, to which I confess having contributed to most. But in my defence, it's usually through trying to defend oneself against the kind of baiting that I had from BT and R of O.

But that's now a thing of the past. I've abandoned personal blogging because I'm sick of the baiting, the wind-ups, the questioning of my right to be living in France etc etc. I blog to discuss ideas and issues, with the possibility of a meeting of minds. Which is why the present experiment with emails instead will continue for a while. You see, what I'm doing here is defending the primacy (?) of the blogger's post, and his prerogative to decide what does and does not appear on his blog. At present, a Comments section may run for days, and acquire a life of its own, which may or may not be a healthy thing. But in this model, I'm free to say at any time, "Thank you for your emails. That's enough on that topic. Some have appeared in the body of the post, some maybe I've held back for one reason or another, not to suppress free-speech, but to keep a topic focused and on-track."

Because that is how I see my Mark 2 blog : I'd rather have a good one-to-one with someone who is interesting and well-disposed towards me personally, even if we disagree on a particular issue, than leave a vacant noticeboard on which any passing scoundrel can scrawl their graffiti, and then accuse me of being Hitler if I dare to delete it.

Why make oneself a slave to Blogger's software package? Why not tweak it, customise it, until (to use that hackneyed phrase) it's "fit for purpose" where it is we, the individual blogger, who defines the purpose of our blog, and the niche it's intended to occupy in the blogosphere ? My blog was not designed as a fireside rug on which rottweilers curl up, and wait for ladies to come and make a fuss of them.

To be continued.......

Update Sunday 19:45

Richard of Orléans has just posted again to Shane Richmond's blog ( inviting us to see the Tell's HQ next month):

Title : Take it as read

"Why would no one take it (CO2 neutral comment) as a serious relexion that we shouldn't be polluting our surroundings with CO2 and noise for the sake of non essential meetings?Or has environmentalism now become "stalking", to our rather heavily polluting American co-inhabitants of planet earth?"

Richard of Orléans at 18 Mar 2007 14:55

I have just sent off this reply. It remains to be seen whether the Telegraph will allow it. We shall see.

"Anyone still reading this thread, Shane, whose eyes are not completely glazed over by now, may be wondering what on earth "Richard of Orléans" is blathering about (see "CO2 neutral" etc).

Well, it's certainly not a genuine concern for the environment, as "geejay" above has correctly surmised, despite Richard's solemn assurances. It is in fact a case of "Richard of Orléans" using your post as an opportunity to snipe at someone he regards as the arch enemy.

Now why would he do that, you may ask ? It's for a number of reasons, but mainly for my having had the temerity in the past to challenge his oft-stated anglophobic views - despite his being a UK national himself, a long-term resident in France (although still unnaturalized) - and for my having the effrontery to retire to France, which he considers "sponging".

Here's a comment he posted yesterday to Louise's "Chocolates and Cuckoos" blog (see link below) which should leave readers in no doubt as to this man's true agenda:

"Colinb for me is the quintessential Englishman: free speech if you say the right thing, democracy if you vote for him, free trade as long as you buy his goods, fair play provided he wins, justice subject to him writing the laws as well as being judge and jury.

There is an island set aside for people like him, he should go there."

3/17/2007 5:12 PM

Note in particular the final sentence, which ties in with his reference above to that "one-way ticket". He expects me, it would seem, to sell up, and return to the UK, because I and fellow retired Brits are deemed to be economically non-productive (despite spending freely on a multitude of French goods and services, and paying an assortment of taxes etc). The fact that I'm legally resident under EU and UK rules appears to cut little ice with this self-appointed defender of the French national interest, as seen through the prism of Orléans. I don't know about you Shane, but Richard of Orléans would appear to me guilty of at least a degree of self-indulgence in his questionable use a Telegraph blog to grind his particular axe. But then, you know this guy's modus operandi: he's almost an institution on Telegraph blogs, but may still have newcomers shaking or scratching their heads.

Some might consider this man to have a confounded cheek, obsession even, to be pursuing one particular UK expatriate in particular, especially as he hides behind a pseudonym, while I use my real name.

Perhaps we could discuss the issue of problematical posters such as Richard of Orléans when we meet next month. "