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Blog : Posts tagged with 'celebrity'



In which we try to stay rational

Now I know that, according to tradition or superstition or some ancient charter, the deaths of the famous are always supposed to occur in threes. But just recently, there’s been an enormous flood of them. It’s seemed this week that every day yet another well-known person has turned their toes up. I know it’s just coincidence, because I do have a rational side; but sometimes you do think: what, another one?

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In which we double-check Heather Mills’s numbers

I’m not one to care about celebrities, and so I don’t write celebrity stories on here. So think of this, instead, as a maths story.

Heather Mills-McCartney. You know who I mean: the famous amputee who will soon be rich enough that she won’t ever have to work again, thanks to her upcoming divorce. You’ve also probably heard about her going mad on telly a few days ago. In which she said, specifically, that she’s been hounded by the tabloids for 18 months, and had 4,400 abusive articles published about her.

Let’s just assume for a minute that she’s implying all of those articles appeared in that 18-month period. That’s about 550 days.* Or, in other words, 8 newspaper articles per day. In Britain there are 5 papers that are definitely tabloids, plus another couple that are, well, rather mad and right-wing. If she was only referring to British papers, then she’s claiming that every “tabloid” newspaper** had an article about her every single day, and that all of those articles were abusive. Now that really would be obsessive.

I’m not exactly surprised that her PR agent resigned very quickly. He was probably sitting, with his head in his hands, moaning softly to himself. “Heather! Heather! Don’t you realise how much work I did, to get all that lot published!”

* I’m assuming she didn’t mean 18 months to the day

** It’s a difficult term now there are a couple of serious newspapers that are tabloid-sized. I’m being charitable to The Times here, you understand

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Sense About Science

In which we try to teach

I was intrigued by yesterday’s news story on Sense About Science, the public information charity who has produced a leaflet aimed specifically about celebrities, in the hope of persuading them not to talk rubbish in public. They’re distributing it around celebrity-infested places, but if you’re not a celebrity yourself you can download it from their website.

It’s an admirable attempt by an admirable charity, to reach people who could potentially have a lot of influence but who probably don’t read Bad Science regularly. I can’t help thinking that they would have had more effect distributing it to celebrities’ agents, rather than the celebrities themselves. Moreover, I think that a lot of media organisations overestimate the level of influence that celebrities in particular (and the media in general) have on your average person.

Furthermore, are any celebrities who read the leaflet going to believe it? Apart from being recognisable, they’re generally fairly average people. Not particularly clever, not particularly smart, maybe more charismatic than the average,* but on the whole fairly ordinary at heart.** They’re not scientists, and they’re not going to realise how little they know about science, because, as a general rule, the less you know on a subject, the less you realise just how little you know. The less you know about scientific ideas, the worse things you’re likely to say along the lines of “natural things are chemical-free”, or “green plants are healthy because chlorophyll will oxygenate your blood”,*** and the less likely you are to believe the truth on the topic.

* this is starting to sound like an RPG statsfest, I know

** despite what some of them may think.

*** the first is a common trope; the second is a Gillian McKeith piece of wrongness.

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People you bump into in the post office

In which FP recognises someone

In case you were wondering: last week, I was away in Wales. I was staying in the small, snowy town of Aros Heddlu,* Merioneth, doing some volunteer work.** Of course, I came back from my holiday needing another one to recover from it.

I managed to come across as a bit of a mad English tourist, whilst I was there, whilst I was in the local post office. The post office’s Lottery machine, you see, had a cardboard advertising hoarding on top of it. “Do you have a spare one?” I asked.

“I’m not sure,” said the shopkeeper. She started to hunt around. “I’m sure we have one somewhere.”

“I don’t mean to be any trouble,” I said, “but if you had one handy – I’ve been looking for one of those.”

“I’m sure we did have another,” she said, wondering what the hell this mad English tourist wanted with a cardboard Lottery advert. “I’ll have a look for it and put it to one side for you.”

“Oh no no I don’t want to be a nuisance,” I said, feeling slightly embarrassed. “I just wanted one because that” – I pointed at the picture on the advert – “is my friend W, and it would be nice to have one. Well, um, thank you anyway. I really don’t want to put you to any bother.” And I left the shop, leaving me feeling embarrassed for causing a fuss, and her baffled at these strange tourists with friends off the adverts.

* Not its real name, as people with Roadsign Welsh vocab will probably realise.

** “…with the mentally ill,” as one of the other people there said. I think it was The Goon, who may well be reading.

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Still not dead yet?

In which we try not to anticipate things

I can’t help but feel slightly sickened at pre-obituaries – the endless news reports on the life and actions of famous people who are dangerously ill. It didn’t seem too bad during the slow death of George Best,* but the coverage of Ariel Sharon’s stroke has been terrible. As I’m writing Sharon is in a coma, but definitely alive; but for the past day or so every news report I’ve heard has been about how Middle-Eastern politics will change after he is gone – or, even worse, what his impact on history has been. These really are just obituary reports under another name.

(yes, I know they have a partial excuse that he’s almost certainly retiring – but even so, I still don’t think it’s right)

* or maybe it was just drowned out in my mind by the volume of post-death tributes

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