Thanks to Making a Murderer, Wisconsin’s bovine incompetence has been exposed

Making a Murderer 2's mesmerising dea ex machina Kathleen Zellner
Making a Murderer 2’s mesmerising dea ex machina Kathleen Zellner

How long do the state authorities think they can get away with it?

I wonder if Wisconsin has any idea what an international embarrassment it has become? By rights it ought to be an unexceptionable place, little more than the quirky answer to the occasional trivia question: ‘Where is the Badger State?’; ‘Whose state governor shares a name with the singer of “The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine (Anymore)?”’; ‘Which US state makes more Swiss cheese than Switzerland?’

Sadly for this unassuming Great Lakes state — pop. six million — it has instead become an exemplar of the kind of official corruption, mendacity, hypocrisy, bovine incompetence and rampant injustice less often associated with the leader of the free world and the beacon of democracy than with Islamofascist republics, equatorial African kleptocracies and other third-world hellholes.

This is all thanks to the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer, which holds the state’s apparatus responsible for one of the most egregious miscarriages of justice in recent history.

Read the rest in the Spectator.

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In defence of university drinking rituals

(Photo: Betty)

When the Fawn saw the selfies Boy had taken in the aftermath of his college football club’s initiation ceremony, first she burst into tears, then she was spittingly furious, then she finally settled into a state of gnawing anxiety and despair.

‘There’s a lesson there, son,’ I told him. ‘And I hope you’ve marked it well. There are some things you simply do not share with your mother on the family WhatsApp group.’

I hated having to say this because we’re one of those families that likes to be open about stuff. If my kids are ever going to end up doing drugs, say, I’d rather they did so after some expert advice from their dad — not guiltily and in secret at some scuzzy dealer’s dive. But still there are occasions when discretion is the better course — and that photo was definitely one of them.

Read the rest in the Spectator.

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How did mild-mannered eye doctor Bashar al-Assad end up a mass murderer?

Former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and his wife Anisa with his children (l-r) Maher, Bashar, Bassel, Majd and Bushra. Photo: Louai Beshara/ AFP/ Getty Images
Former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and his wife Anisa with his children (l-r) Maher, Bashar, Bassel, Majd and Bushra. Photo: Louai Beshara/ AFP/ Getty Images

Perhaps the saddest thing about this fascinating BBC2 documentary was realising just how completely avoidable the Syrian conflict was.

‘How did this mild-mannered eye doctor end up killing hundreds of thousands of people?’ someone wondered about Bashar al-Assad in BBC2’s extraordinary three-part documentary A Dangerous Dynasty: House of Assad (BBC2, Saturday). It’s a question we’ve all occasionally pondered as the Syrian body count rose — 500,000 thus far — and as six million refugees fled the country. The answer is so lurid and complex that it could have come from one of Shakespeare’s tragedies.

Chinless, studious, polite Bashar was never meant to become president of Syria. His thuggish military officer father Hafez, who seized power in 1970, had earmarked the job for his dashing equestrian soldier son Bassel. But when Bassel was killed in a car crash, the reluctant Bashar (rather in the manner of Michael Corleone replacing his elder brother Sonny) was forced to take on the role that would transform him inexorably from a healer to a killer of men (women, and children…).

Read the rest in the Spectator.

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Hell hath no fury like an irate teenage girl

Something troubling is happening to our girls. I noticed it again most recently at this years Battle of Ideas–the annual festival of free speech staged at London’s Barbican by Claire Fox. It’s a wonderful event, where ex-revolutionary communists like Claire rub shoulders with Thatcher-ite radicals like me and we’re reminded how much we have in common. I feel right at home among the bright, engaged friendly crowds and when I speak, I generally get a warm reception.[/caption]

Read the rest in the Spectator.

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The new Doctor Who Jodie Whittaker is a delight – but the script isn’t

The phrase ‘get woke, go broke’ captures well why Doctor Who was losing fans – and I’m not sure the writing in the new series dispenses with this problem.

Doctor Woke

You won’t be aware of this because the BBC has been keeping it very quiet. But the new Doctor Who is — wait for it — a woman!

Let me say straight away that Jodie Whittaker is a delight. Opening as the new Doctor is never easy — all that tiresome establishing rigmarole you have to go through along the lines of ‘I’m feeling all funny. Almost like I’m a completely different actor but in the same body. What can it be? Who am I? Has anyone watching at home worked it out yet?’ But already we like her. Yes, at the moment she’s still a bit of a mishmash of previous Doctors but this will change as she grows into the role. Definitely, though, she’s a personality that we’ll be more than happy to explore the galaxy and fight monsters with every Sunday and her casting was a much-needed fillip to a flagging brand.

Read the rest in the Spectator.

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The curse of having to go vegan

I’m on a no-alcohol, no-caffeine, no-sugar, vegan diet. It’s less fun than it sounds. Occasionally I cheat, but mostly I don’t, because I don’t want to upset the lovely doctors at the Infusio clinic in Frankfurt who gave me my stem cells for the Lyme disease treatment and who insist they need the right anti-inflammatory, alkaline diet to thrive. And besides, even though it’s horrible, I’m quite enjoying, in my masochistic way the rigour and the punishing asceticism. Also, it has given me insights into a world which I never imagined in a million years I would ever enter.

Read the rest in the Spectator.

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Forget the BBC: Only Channel 5 Does Proper Documentaries These Days

You don’t get quite the same production values in things like C5’s How the Victorians Built Britain but you don’t get the PC bollocks of Bodyguard and King Arthur’s Britain

Richard Madden in Bodyguard

 

What a load of utter tripe Bodyguard (BBC1, Sundays) was. Admittedly, I came to it late having missed all the sex scenes with Keeley Hawes and Robb Stark, which may have dazzled me in the way they seem to have dazzled many impressionable viewers.Sex scenes in TV drama are a bit like the chaff used by fighters to distract radar-guided missiles. You’re so busy feeling simultaneously awkward and embarrassed and half-titillated, covering your eyes with your fingers, wishing your other half wasn’t watching with you because then it would be proper porn and you could enjoy it, that you sometimes forget to notice what convoluted, implausible tosh the surrounding drama is.

Read the rest in the Spectator.

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15 reasons to fall in love with Germany and Germans

Be sure to lose your wallet in Germany. Photo: Getty

Things I learned about the Germans after a fortnight living as a non–tourist in Frankfurt:

1. Germans, and Germany generally, are among the world’s most underrated things. True they are not so adept at wit, snark, banter, jocularity or general frivolity. But they are kind, welcoming, generous and unlike, say, the French, charmingly grateful when you attempt to speak their quaint, guttural, impossibly inflected language even though — stimmt! — they speak yours so much better.
2. Here’s what happened when I lost my wallet.

Read the rest in the Spectator.

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Meet the queens of cryptocurrency

James Delingpole on the women shaping a male-dominated industry

Perhaps it will still fly to the moon.

Read the rest in Spectator Life.

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Gloriously macho: Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan reviewed

It’s trash of course, but high-octane, watchable trash: John Krasinski and Wendell Pierce in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (Amazon Studios)
It’s trash of course, but high-octane, watchable trash: John Krasinski and Wendell Pierce in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (Amazon Studios)

For too long the leftie-dominated entertainment industry has been ignoring the truth about our world

This week’s guilty pleasure is Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan (Amazon Prime). It’s trash, of course, but very well done, high-octane, watchable trash. And if you want to feel better about your lowbrow tastes, make sure you read the finger-wagging critique by one Sonia Saraiya in Vanity Fair first.

Jack Ryan feels like a machine designed to turn us all into the sort of viewers who disappear smiling down jingoistic Fox News rabbit holes,’ she says, enticingly. And: ‘Both its protagonist and its plot are based on the foundational, unquestioned notion that American-military might — the best-funded killing infrastructure in human history — is helping to save the world.’ And: ‘Its other primary story objective is proving that Jack Ryan deserves his white male entitlement…’

Not so much a guilty pleasure after that little lecture, then; more a bounden and sacred duty.

Read the rest in the Spectator.

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