About Five Chinese Crackers

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A history of Five Chinese Crackers

Back in the mid 2000s, when you'd see men in starched collars riding around on pennyfarthings, you could buy a house and still get change from a tarnished ha'penny and soot-smudged kids in flat caps made their own fun in the cobbled streets with a hoop and a stick, I spent a load of time in the British Library reading rooms because someone, somewhere was wrong on the internet.

Arguing that owning guns made your house safer, someone in a discussion had linked to a Mark Steyn column about how there are more 'home invasions' in the UK than in the US. Because of guns. He'd referenced a criminologist who'd done a study about the number of burglaries where someone was at home and everything.

My trips to the British Library were to read the criminologist's study to see if it backed up what Steyn said. It didn't deal with what Steyn said it did, but it was rubbish anyway. The long and the short of it is that the study looked at burglaries with someone in the house. UK figures count more things in that category than US ones. In the US, anything where someone comes into direct contact with a burglar is instantly classed as a robbery; in the UK everything up to and including minor pushing and shoving is still classed as a burglary. There was a bit more wrong with it than that, but I won't get into it here.

The Steyn article had completely missed the point and opened with a story of a robber smashing their way into someone's house and burning the householder with an iron. He claimed the study I'd been looking at proved there were more of these sorts of crime in the UK because people here don't have guns. But it didn't. It looked at burglaries, not robberies. Not only was the study a bit shonky, but a journalist had misreported it.

What to do?

Why blog?  Why Five Chinese Crackers?

Hello cheeky!  It's 5cc!
I set up a blog, where I thought I'd post up what I'd found out. 'Five Chinese Crackers,' I thought, 'there's a reference to Britain and up your arse and bang bang bang bang bang in it. It's the perfect title for a blog about gun laws!' But then I didn't post anything because I realised I didn't actually care that much about gun ownership and would almost certainly never say anything about the issue ever again. And you know what? I never did.

So, the blog laid unused for ages while I spent my time reading great blogs like Obsolete, Chicken Yoghurt, Bloggerheads and Lenin's Tomb, along with others that sadly no longer get updated like Bartlett's Bizarre Bazaar, Not Saussure and Stalinology. I never thought much more about it until I saw a BBC Question Time in which everyone argued - extremely badly - that a schoolgirl should be forced not to wear her Muslim attire at school.

'I could write about this on that blog I set up,' I thought. 'Nobody will read it anyway and it'll be a good place to practice writing and that.' My first post was born. I'd intended to blog about everywhere I saw bad arguments and poor reasoning dressed up as brilliant incisiveness, but that ended up mostly being tabloids.

Blogging about crap newspapers

Finally, I had a brainwave. Although the blogs I liked so much did often critique press stories, I'd never seen a blog or website devoted entirely to critiquing the press. Mine would become such a place! I could practice a bit at Five Chinese Crackers and then set up a proper blog. As I said at the time:
Because I'd ended up like a shouty loon on the bus banging on about one thing - that'll be what the blog's for now. Not shouty loons on buses - the one thing.

Newspapers are full of crap. Especially the tabloids. This isn't new to most people. What I want to do here is show how they're full of crap. Sometimes they use language in a dishonest way to create a false impression, sometimes they omit relevant information. Sometimes they just make shit up.
So that's sort of what I've been doing. Sometimes a non-newspaper related post creeps in now and again and I spend less of my time doing straight fisks of articles than I once did, but there you go. I guess I'm still practicing. I never got round to setting up that proper blog and people managed to find their way here anyway.

There are plenty other media bloggers to choose from now. You've got Enemies of Reason, TabloidWatch, No Sleep Til Brooklands, Minority Thought, Exclarotive, Primly Stable, Atomic Spin, Press Not Sorry and Only That In You. There are also the media watch blogs, which you'll also find me occasionally writing for, with MailWatch, ExpressWatch and The Sun - Tabloid Lies. Have a look at all of them if you like this sort of thing, and if you've found your way here from any of them (or Liberal Conspiracy, where you also might find me occasionally) - hello.

Hope you like it here. If not, why don't you go back to your own country? We used to say 'when in Rome' but now they've banned Christmas. It's PC idiots like you who have ruined this once great country. Can't say anything any more without someone calling you racist.  Piss off.