Near miss

Observer (my butler reads it): Meteorite 'could have devastated northern UK'
The meteorite that caused devastation in the Urals on Friday could have struck Britain if it had entered the atmosphere at only a slightly different time of day, astronomers revealed yesterday.

The region around Chelyabinsk hit by the meteorite impact is 55 degrees north, the same latitude as northern England. Had the meteorite's timing been only few hours different, it could have caused widespread damage in the British Isles, astronomers at the University of Hawaii said yesterday.

Phew! On the other hand, had the trajectory of the lump of space-rock that became the meteorite been only a fraction of a degree different, it might, long, long ago, have collided with the much bigger lump of space-rock/comet that took out the dinosaurs before it actually took out the dinosaurs, thereby altering its course by an even smaller fraction of a degree, so that it didn't, in fact, actually take out the dinosaurs. In which case, none of us would be here. Thanks, lump of space-rock!

Meanwhile, in related news, had Frederick Miller not lost an eye in a freak golfing accident back in 1885, I might be Prime Minister right now. And wouldn't the world be a much nicer place?

Unless you're a cat, obviously.

Flat Earth News

John Lanchester (London Review of Books): Riots, Terrorism etc

Nick Davies's Flat Earth News [...] is a genuinely important book, one which is likely to change, permanently, the way anyone who reads it looks at the British newspaper industry.

A really interesting piece. It sounds like a great book. I'll certainly be buying it.

Postscript: I did indeed buy it. Review here.

Feeding the masses

BBC: BBC Trust commissions news review

The BBC's governing body is to review the corporation's coverage of news across the UK following devolution…

BBC trustee Richard Tate said the devolution of powers in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland had presented "new challenges" for the corporation.

That's all well and good for those parts of the UK which have devolved government, but what about the rest of us?

It's a matter of continuing irritation to those of living beyond the M25 just how little news coverage we receive in so-called national news broadcasts. The BBC's dismissive attitude to those of us living north of Epping Forest—those odd chaps who pronounce their A's short and live on tripe and whippets—is nicely illustrated by the role of North of England Correspondent. Note the singular: the BBC thinks it proportionate to dedicate as many correspondents to the whole of the North of England as it does to a handful of German toffs down the Palace who pronounce their A's long.

I live in the biggest county in England: Yorkshire. I can't remember the last time I heard national BBC News coverage of anything that happened in this county. What's that you say? Yorkshire is four counties. I stand corrected. Well, our neighbours in North Yorkshire live in the biggest county in England, and I still can't remember the last time I heard national BBC News coverage of anything that happened in that county.

But perhaps that's because national news bulletins are becoming increasingly irrelevant. I gave up on national BBC TV and Radio news coverage years ago, and now totally rely on RSS feeds for my news coverage. I have a really nifty feed which delivers any news stories which mention Hebden Bridge direct to my desktop, and another for stories which mention Charles Darwin. Oh, and I also have (at the last count) 157 other news feeds, all of which are relevent to me. If Stense gets mentioned in the arty-farty press, I pick up on the story almost immediately (and totally freak her out by sending her a link—I suspect she thinks I'm stalking her). If someone links to Gruts or comments on one of my photos on Flickr or publishes the latest edition of a podcast I like, I am informed automagically. It's like having my own very, very personal newspaper.

So, if you haven't got into RSS feeds yet, why not give them a go? Hell, there's even one for Gruts. All you need is an RSS Reader (I use and recommend Google Reader), and the world is your oyster in a nutshell.

Gaa! The the cat's out of the bag! Now you know how it is that I am so incredibly well informed.

Responsible journalism

From the front page of today's Sunday Times:

Slaughtered cows

Environment department officials check some of the cattle culled yesterday in response to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease at Wanborough in Surrey.

Good to see responsible journalists flying helicopters over quarantined areas infected with airborne viruses. It's all in the public interest, you see.

We know what dead cows look like, thank you. There really is no need to put any more living ones at risk for the sake of a few snaps.