On Gary Lineker

Before we begin: the T&Cs. Because I know that this post is going to annoy some people, and if it does, I really do want to it to be for all the right reasons. So…

This post is NOT about:
The rights or wrongs of the UK Government’s new policy on immigration.
The rights or wrongs of the opinions of Gary Lineker on said policy.

There is enough stuff out there about those things, and I’m not even providing a link to anything about this story, because this is a political thing and so the views out there on this are completely polarised and will either strike you as “spot on” or “bullshit hate speech” depending on your political stance. It’s not difficult to google “Gary Lineker”, click the “News” tab, choose your site, read the article and then either applaud or rage. Have fun.

My point is rather more about Gary Lineker’s contract with the BBC. Contracts are important things. Gary Lineker wouldn’t get paid for his Match of the Day work if he didn’t have a contract. But it’s a two way street, because equally, he wouldn’t have to turn up for his Match of the Day work if he didn’t have a contract. But he does turn up and he does get paid, so everyone’s happy*.

The thing is, because he’s working for the BBC, Gary Lineker earns more than £1,350,000 of taxpayers’ money each year. Is that reasonable? IT DOESN’T MATTER – that’s not what we’re discussing here.
But when he signed the contract to allow him to be paid that amount of money, he also agreed to abide by the BBC’s guidelines on social media use. Is that fair? IT DOESN’T MATTER – that’s not what we’re discussing here.

The fact is that the two-way contract street says that yes, he gets paid, but no, he can’t share his political opinions on social media. And by signing that contract, he tacitly said that he was ok with not expressing his political opinions on social media, as long as the BBC paid him £1,350,000 to present MOTD.

And because it’s a two way street, and no-one has got you at gunpoint signing anything, you always have a choice:
Don’t like the terms of the contract?
Don’t sign it.
Don’t present MOTD.
Express your political opinions freely on social media.

But also, don’t get paid £1,350,000 a year.

You can’t have your cake and eat it.

And so, whether you agree with the Government policy or not, and whether you agree with Gary Lineker’s opinions or not, is completely immaterial here. He clearly broke one of the terms of his contract, and, just like you or I or anyone else who is lucky enough to have a job might expect if we broke one of the terms of our contract, his employers have taken issue with that. But are they right t… IT. DOESN’T. MATTER.
Stop bringing your emotions and politics into a simple black and white issue.

The upshot of this is several-fold:

  • There will be no MOTD presenters or commentators this evening, and the BBC viewers will instead have the international PLP feed – including Jim Beglin. Eish.
  • The BBC will be pronounced by both political sides as biased. (An aside: the fact that one can look at such polarised political opposites both complaining that the national broadcaster is prejudiced against their particular viewpoint actually indicates to me that the BBC is doing quite a good job of being impartial.)
  • Gary Lineker will either back down (nope) or he will have to leave the BBC and be seen (by some people at least) as some sort of martyr for free speech. But…
  • The more likely outcome will be that the BBC (and/or any other employer watching this and not wanting all this shit coming their way) will surely make their contracts clearer and more restrictive when it comes to this issue, thus “stifling” “free speech” even further.

Personally (and again, this is without prejudice towards this case – this goes for each and every one of them), I would love it if the opinions of celebrities and TV personalities weren’t given more credence and gravity simply because of their public status. It’s ridiculous that because Matt le Tissier had a somewhat successful career as a footballer in the 80s and 90s, we should somehow pay particular attention to his views on vaccines. It’s pathetic that because Gwyneth Paltrow won an Oscar for her acting ability, we should consider her as some sort of expert on nutrition.
Happen to be a minor celebrity because you were the keyboard player for a 90s band and you have several qualifications in particle and quantum physics? Then that’s fine: you tell us all about the universe. But tell us about it because of your academic qualifications, and not because you came up with the riff on the band’s big hit.

The Gary Lineker issue is clearly very emotive and multi-factorial. But while there are many difficult conversations to be had around each of those matters, it seems to me that him clearly choosing not to obey one of the terms of his contract with the BBC is probably the most simple thing to grasp of them all.
Equally, how that breach of contract is dealt with shouldn’t be complex at all, but given the inevitable outrage from the all-knowing public, it almost certainly will be.

* I know, I know.


This has been on the internet a lot over the past week, but I’m here to mop up the stragglers who haven’t spotted it yet.

You can now enjoy over 16,000 sound effects recorded by the BBC Sound Effects Department. And what’s more, you can download them and use them (with certain conditions applied) wherever you want.

Fair enough.

What you can do is use it for non-commercial purposes. Or just have loads of fun with it.

This being the BBC, and these sound effects having been collected over a number of years, they are stuffily described in great detail:

This camera, for example:

Multiple shutter click with wind-on of 6 by 6 cm SLR Hasselblad camera.

Or this cash register:

Type Ninety-Six One – keyboard operated, ticket produced, drawer opens, bell, change given, coins put in drawer and closed – 1969 (23Z,reprocessed)

As if someone looking for a cash register noise was ever going to turn around and say:

“Oh dear. I was looking for a Type Ninety-Six TWO. This will never do. Back to the drawing board, I guess.”

The search feature seems to work very well, which is good, given that there are 16,013 different files for your delectation.

I was quite intrigued by this offering:

Beagle Pup, exterior recordings. Aerobatics.

Why can’t our beagle do that? That would be spectacular.
But then I realised that:

The Beagle B.121 Pup is a 1960s British 2–4 seat single-engined training and touring aircraft built by Beagle Aircraft Limited at Shoreham Airport and Rearsby Aerodrome.

If you want to experience a far more realistic version of being a beagle owner, you should listen to this gem:

Dogs: Beagles, Interior, two being fed, fight breaks out at 1’50”, growling and sniffing.

Yep. Sounds pretty much par for the course. 😐

Drones are bad, mmmkay?

Look, I’m not stupid. (Careful now.)

There’s no doubt that some people will use drones illegally and will do bad things with them. Just like some people have done and will continue to do bad things with basically everything else that exists: shoesvans, turtlesfixings, sports equipment, cutlerybits of musical instrumentsdogs, diggers – even fruit.

I could go on, but I’m sure you get my point.

But this BBC article – ostensibly about how criminals using drones can or could be detected and brought to justice – does seem to go out of its way in order to portray drones in an extraordinarily bad light. (Which, incidentally, makes for less than ideal flying conditions.)

I mean, just look at the image they chose to illustrate it:

That’s exactly what I look like when I fly my drone.
Furtive. Disguised. Illegal. Determined. Criminal.
(And with a jaunty tilt on my remote control.)

Still, an excellent demonstration of VLOS. Well done.

And then there are words, like these:

Whether it is flying illicit goods into forbidden places, spying on people, interrupting the work of the emergency services or worrying wild animals or aircraft, the threat they present is growing.

Spying on people? Have you any idea how absolutely amazing your drone equipment has to be to “spy” on people? My Mavic has a 12MP camera. It’s half as powerful as the one on my cellphone. And a lot noisier.
My DSLR and its telephoto lens though? Silent and powerful, like a beagle fart. Amazing for spying on people, and yet its ownership is wholly exempt from any legislation. Hmm.

Sure, someone managed to get some cigarettes and a DVD player (actually quite impressive) into a prison using a drone. And that’s not good. But then, naughty people put mobile phones into chocolate bars to get them “inside”, so should we…  should we ban the sale of Mars bars or something? No. No, we shouldn’t, because they’re delicious and most people just eat them, completely legally.

For the article to then go on and use a quote from a “drone expert” suggesting that drones could be used to disperse bio-weaponised anthrax does seem to be just a teensy-tiny bit scaremongery. Because yes, while it is technically possible, the issue there is not really the drone, but rather the bio-weaponised anthrax, no?

All in all, this does seem to be a disappointingly one-sided article. Yes, it’s about crime and drones, but in telling us about those things, it does seem to suggest that crime is all that drones are going to be used for, tarring all drone pilots with the same sticky brush, and conveniently ignoring the many thousands of us who are operating wholly within the law.
But then of course, we must remember that it’s ever so cool to hate these new-fangled tools of annoyance and terrorism – and their users – at the moment, so maybe it’s just trying to tap into the Daily Mail-created zeitgeist.

I completely understand the need for some legislation around this hobby (both flying drones and production of bio-weaponised anthrax), but I’m growing increasingly tired of the incessant anti-drone rhetoric I seem to be seeing everywhere these days.
I just hope that the individuals charged with making the rules are a little bit less alarmist and blinkered than journo Paul Marks and… well… everyone else, actually.

Shocking report was shockingly reported – shock.

When that BBC report came out, someone remarked on Facebook:

Kan dit nie glo nie. (I can’t believe it.)

I commented:

You’d do well not to believe it. Or indeed anything else that uses Ernst Roets as a credible source.

But how was I to know just how right I was?

Do 400,000 whites live in squatter camps in South Africa, as claimed in a recent BBC report. Are there really 80 “white squatter camps” dotted around Pretoria? The answer to both is no.

Africacheck.org has looked at the 2011 census and found out that those figures are (as both the ANC and the DA suggested) inaccurate, exaggerated nonsense:

The claim that 400,000 whites are living in squatter camps is grossly inaccurate. If that were the case, it would mean that roughly ten percent of South Africa’s 4.59-million whites were living in abject poverty.

Census figures suggest that only a tiny fraction of the white population – as little as 7,754 households – are affected.

The claim that there are 80 or more “white squatter camps” in the Pretoria area would also appear to be grossly overstated. Many of the places referred to are not camps at all.

AfriForum’s Roets gave the BBC inaccurate figures and the BBC took them without apparently checking, producing a skewed piece of journalism that failed to accurately reflect reality.

And this on a story that veteran journalist John Simpson put his name to. Very sad.

In no way am I suggesting that the fact that there are 7,754 white households (or the 1,868,325 “black African” households in the same situation) living – existing – in those sort of conditions, is acceptable.

I am, however, suggesting that you shouldn’t believe everything you read on the internet.
Even from the BBC and especially from Ernst Roets.

UPDATE: From Anton Haber:

I am appalled that a seasoned journalist like BBC world affairs editor John Simpson should produce… such a half-arsed, skewed view of reality.
This is an appalling piece of journalism, not worthy of the BBC.

My thoughts exactly.