Simon Round

Flag day at the BBC

By Simon Round, September 12, 2008

Is the BBC as objective and unbiased in its news coverage as it maintains? According to a source at the BBC, the Middle East Section of its online news service is run by two journalists - one with a Lebanese flag on his desk, the other with a Syrian flag adorning his workstation.

It is an interesting interpretation of "balanced".

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The Middle-East war, at a stadium near you

By Simon Round, September 12, 2008

The world is changing frighteningly fast. House prices go up and then down again, petrol prices go up and then even further up, and all the time the glaciers and rain forests are disappearing. Through all this uncertainty, I have always taken comfort in one solid, unchanging fact. The team I support, Chelsea, are the world's richest football club and have more spending power than then most medium-sized nation states.

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Big up the Hendon massive

By Simon Round, September 12, 2008

Songs of Praise
BBC1, Sunday September 7

I, along with perhaps around 80 per cent of the population of Great Britain, have never sat through an entire edition of Songs of Praise, despite the fact that it has been showing ever since I was old enough to be depressed on a Sunday evening.

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So that’s Esther’s life, then

By Simon Round, September 4, 2008

Who Do You Think You Are?
BBC1, Wednesday September 3
God on Trial


BBC2, Wednesday September 3

 

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Palestinians' bad timing

By Simon Round, September 4, 2008

The time is a- changing in the Gaza Strip, though not in the West Bank. Such is the level of feuding between the Hamas administration in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah that they cannot even agree on what time it should be.

Gaza Mean Time, or GMT, went back to Daylight Saving last Friday, whereas the Palestinian Authority put its clocks back on Sunday with the onset of Ramadan.

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Swamped with immigrants? If we’re lucky

By Simon Round, September 4, 2008

Immigration is a bit like the dark - people tend to be scared of it despite the fact that it is unlikely to do them any harm. There is now only a small minority of people who do not think that our society has been enriched over the past 50 years by the huge cultural wealth brought to this country by successive waves of immigration. However, whenever cyclical immigration picks up, there is a wail of hysteria within the pages of certain tabloids which is pounced upon by a section of the public too stupid to buy a better paper.

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Interview: Ruby Wax

By Simon Round, September 4, 2008

Ruby Wax is the queen of rapid-fire comedy. But, as she tells Simon Round, humour hasn't healed the legacy of depression left by her Shoah-survivor parents - and so she trained as a psychotherapist

 

You do not need to research Ruby Wax particularly deeply to know she had a problem childhood. Over the years, her comedy has been peppered with lines about the strange upbringing by her eccentric and neurotic parents.

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Don’t get too pretty, girls

By Simon Round, August 29, 2008

According to blogger Modesty Blasé writing in the Jerusalem Post, there is a new phenomenon among Jewish mothers. They are encouraging their daughters to be mediocre.

Says Blasé: "They shouldn't be too pretty, too smart or too competent for fear of scaring the boys away,"

So is the world being turned on its head, or has April Fool's Day come early?

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Lamarr’s ‘sex with Hitler’

By Simon Round, August 29, 2008

Adolf Hitler may have based his career on Jew-hatred, but it did not stop him having sex with a Jewish girl - and not just any Jewish girl, but Hollywood film star Hedy Lamarr.

In a new book about the legendary actress, biographer Devra Hill claims that Lamarr fled Austria to embark on an acting career in Hollywood after she was forced to make love to Hitler by her first husband, Austrian munitions dealer Fritz Mandl.

Devra claims that Hitler was unable to resist Lamarr.

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Does AP have it in for Joe?

By Simon Round, August 29, 2008

Either AP has got it in for former Democrat, now Independent, Joseph Lieberman, or the news agency needs to employ better proof-readers.

A recent AP story should have read: "Connecticut Sen. Joe Lieberman, the Democratic vice-presidential pick in 2000, who is now an independent..."

Except, somehow, an "r" was inserted in "pick" between the "p" and the "i".

Whoops!

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Where on earth is Israel?

By Simon Round, August 29, 2008

Noticed anything strange about Google World?

A JC reader saw that there were a few crucial little details missing from the site which gives satellite maps of the world . Although almost the entire planet is covered by Google, there is one important exception - Israel.

Whereas other countries have all major cities highlighted, Israel has nothing but a dotted line to separate it from the Territories.

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Springer wells up like his guests

By Simon Round, August 28, 2008

Who Do You Think You Are?
BBC1, Wednesday, August 27

V If you are familiar with Who Do You Think You Are, you will know that it has addressed the Holocaust before. David Baddiel, Stephen Fry and Natasha Kaplinsky have all uncovered the horrors of their families' experiences.

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Broiges of the week: Lucian freud v Bernard Breslauer

By Simon Round, August 28, 2008

We're not sure whether it is halachically possible to have a broiges involving a dead person, but this one is worth recording. The late Bernard Breslauer, a millionaire antique-book dealer, sat for a portrait by painter Lucian Freud. He was so upset at how his double chin had been painted that he deliberately destroyed the painting. This, is in turn, has reportedly infuriated Freud.

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In the long run, we joggers live longer

By Simon Round, August 28, 2008

This week, I've set myself a tough task - to find a cheerful, upbeat news story. What with the credit crunch, rising food and fuel prices, property values plummeting and unemployment on the way up again, it has been tough to find uplifting subjects for a column, particularly now the Olympics has finished.
However, against the odds I think I've managed to find a way to brighten up your weekend. But first a caveat - if you are a convinced couch potato you might as well stop reading now because there is nothing for you here.

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We win gold for excuses

By Simon Round, August 21, 2008
Israeli athletes have been attempting to explain their Olympic failure. Our favourite is gymnast Alexandr Shatilov's excuse: "This is the first time I've fallen like that."

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Kosher wine crime rises

By Simon Round, August 21, 2008

What is the most shoplifted item at the North Finchley branch of Waitrose? Well, amazingly, it is Palwin.
This information was divulged by the branch's manager to a customer attempting to find a bottle of the syrupy kiddush wine.

However, it is not middle-aged housewives feeling the credit crunch who are responsible for the Shabbat-wine crime wave, but rather the area's alcoholics, or "the dregs of society", as the manager poetically put it.

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New statesman loses plot

By Simon Round, August 21, 2008

The New Statesman has invited readers to vote for their favourite ideas for in-depth investigations. The magazine has opened a comment thread on its website so that readers can suggest ideas.

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Obama has a dream…

By Simon Round, August 21, 2008

What does the future president of the USA dream about?

Well, thanks to a new booklet called Jewels of Elul, we now know. The booklet is the brainchild of spiritual folk-rocker Craig Taubman, who wanted to mark the month of Elul when Jews look within themselves in preparation for the High Holy Days. So Taubman asked prominent Americans to disclose their dreams.
Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain both replied promptly. Dreamed Obama: "We must reclaim that basic American Dream for all Americans."

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A tip: never hunt for dinosaurs on a rainy day

By Simon Round, August 21, 2008

It's 7.45am - the summer holidays. I'm looking after my children, five-year-old Lucy and three-year-old Alex. I have two main problems. I am outnumbered and it is raining outside. A quick look at the weather forecast confirms that heavy and frequent showers will merge into a continuous downpour.

I call my mother. "How do you feel about the Natural History Museum today? I bet no one else has had that idea." She swallows hard and agrees to come with us.

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See the rich slum it? Works for me

By Simon Round, August 21, 2008
The Secret Millionaire
Channel 4, Tuesday, August 19

The Secret Millionaire is a strangely Dickensian concept. Find a tycoon, parachute him into a poverty-stricken area to spend time undercover working with the deserving poor. Then, at the end of the programme, he rewards them with some of his own hard-earned cash.

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