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February 3, 2017

Wasteful and profuse luxury

The wasteful and profuse luxury depicted in the photographs above reflect the insatiable need for constant growth -- the boundless, directionless quality of the drive to accumulate, possess, and consume. The current system encourages and facilitates this disposition in an increasingly narrow section of society.

These decadent lifestyles stand in stark contrast to the principles of austerity being forced on the vast majority in the West's recession-plagued economies. Amid deepening inequality, images like these can justifiably provoke anger: Lord Aleem, a nineteen-year-old, self-styled Rich Kid of Instagram from Birmingham, regularly posted photographs of his collection of luxury cars outside his home until four of his £500,000 fleet were torched by arsonists last year.

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July 11, 2016

Boris, Have I Got News for You (HIGNFY)

ALEXANDER BORIS DE PFEFFEL JOHNSON is very sad

Boris is very sad.png


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June 29, 2016

Economics of News: New Statesman Alan Rusbridger on paywalls and funding schemes

Knives out for the Beeb; is Facebook a threat or opportunity ?

Is there an economic model for serious news? Let's hope so - but the gales blowing through my old industry are now truly frightening. When I stepped down from the Guardian just over a year ago, my Guardian Media Group colleagues were happy to go on the record to emphasise their confidence in increasing digital revenues and a future based on growth. But something profound and alarming has been happening in recent months and all our eyes ought to be on the West Coast giants - especially, but not only, Facebook - that are cleaning up quite extraordinarily.

-- Alan Rusbridger, former editor of the Guardian and principal of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford.

June 20, 2016

Krugman on Brexit / Remain: the credibility of pro-E.U. experts is so low

You can argue that the problems caused by, say, Romanians using the National Health Service are exaggerated, and that the benefits of immigration greatly outweigh these costs. But that's a hard argument to make to a public frustrated by cuts in public services -- especially when the credibility of pro-E.U. experts is so low.

For that is the most frustrating thing about the E.U.: Nobody ever seems to acknowledge or learn from mistakes. If there's any soul-searching in Brussels or Berlin about Europe's terrible economic performance since 2008, it's very hard to find. And I feel some sympathy with Britons who just don't want to be tied to a system that offers so little accountability, even if leaving is economically costly.

An adviser (Dan Davies) for Frontline Analysts, a global research outsourcing firm, supports Remain.

April 15, 2016

Facebook: leading the ranking algorithm

At first I was pretty proud of myself for messing with Facebook's algorithms. But after a little reflection I couldn't escape the feeling I hadn't really gamed anything. I'd created a joke that a lot of people enjoyed. They signaled their enjoyment, which gave Facebook the confidence to show the enjoyable joke to more people. There was nothing "incorrect" about that fake news being at the top of people's feeds. The system--in its murky recursive glory--did what it was supposed to do. And on the next earnings call Mark Zuckerberg can still boast high user engagement numbers.


-- Caleb Garling.

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January 15, 2016

Represent poverty through recognisably Dickensian tropes -- the too-big hand-me-down boots, the thick socks, the bad teeth ?

It's almost redundant to call the republication of In Flagrante, Chris Killip's classic work of the 1970s and 1980s, a timely one. In the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher punished the north for rejecting her party by refusing them any means of humane transition into a post-industrial world. Killip's depiction of the effects of this policy on the coastal towns of the north-east was a metonym for a more wholesale dismantling and dereliction. The book affords us a way we might think about how our own poverty currently looks.

The new edition is shorn of the original text by John Berger and Sylvia Grant; their collaborative essay has not aged well, and did Killip's images no favours. No scene was not apparently charged with some larger allegorical responsibility, no figure not contemplating the bleak future or the human condition -- or worse, salvaging some small redemption from the ashes; even a patch of Brussels sprouts was obliged to shoulder the burden of human hope. But there's little redemption in these photographs, and therein lies their power. (The new edition also loses Killip's own introduction, where he describes his work as "a fiction about metaphor" -- a scrupulously unhelpful remark, as much of its time as Berger's essay. I have still no idea what he means. The work is not a fiction, nor is it concerned with metaphor, if either of these words are to be conventionally defined.)

Helen and Hula Hoop, Seacoal Beach, Lynemouth, Northumberland

Continue reading "Represent poverty through recognisably Dickensian tropes -- the too-big hand-me-down boots, the thick socks, the bad teeth ?" »

May 26, 2015

-Shire vs -ton

The Tories are the party of shires and fords, and to a slightly lesser extent of woodland clearings (-ley, -leigh) and woods. Labour meanwhile are the party of -hams (as in, a farm or homestead), of -tons (or towns), and of fields.

shire_ford_ley_wood_ham_ton_field_politics-english-landscape.png

Via KH.

January 24, 2014

journalists see value in journalism


"in the main journalists are convinced or easily persuaded that what they do is so good and important that someone should pay them to do it", but this is too broad a conviction to be persuasive to non-journalists. A more carefully argued version of what journalists feel would be that, when done well, institutionally produced news has distinctive, socially advantageous qualities. It can pull together large groups of people with diverse perspectives and interests into a shared public conversation. Jürgen Habermas has presented the rise of the press as having been essential to the creation of the public sphere, and newspapers are also central to Benedict Anderson's idea of nations as "imagined communities". Journalism can provide verified, impartial information about public affairs, rather than offering up a cacophony of opinion and conflicting claims as the internet often does. Reporters can surface and present to the public important material that otherwise would not be available, for example about the misdeeds of the powerful.

-- Nicholas Lemann

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September 21, 2013

Aeon magaine


People say Aeon Magazine is great.

Soon, if it's not true already, magazine brands will matter more as marks of quality or tone than they do as gatherers and arrangers of content in a unified experience. By predicating its publishing model on stories that can be pried from the bundle and whose ideas stand on their own, Aeon confirms itself as a bankable brand synonymous with quality and depth. It publishes stories based not on how many clicks their headlines might generate, but on engaging people's attention for a meaningful period of time. That is the standard to which magazines of the mobile era must aspire.

-- Pando


"The longer we can defer making any commitments to a specific business model, the better we'll be," says Paul Hains,, "because the landscape is changing all the time."

That means Aeon's stories are free, even while the publication pays its writers at rates comparable to those paid by broadsheet newspapers. (The founders won't say exactly what that rate is, but Brigid Hains says 60 cents a word is "not a bad guess.") It also means there are no ads, and the editors don't mind if you leave the Aeon website to read a story somewhere else. A link to "Read later or Kindle" is placed on the same line as the by-line and the word-count, a subtle indicator that the story is king, even if it means readers ultimately spend less time on the site.

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June 10, 2013

Essex chav car culture waning


The financial crisis and disappearance of easy credit contributed to the contraction, but there's also been an aesthetic backlash. The popularity of Max'd cars peaked after the 2001 release of the first installment of the "Fast and the Furious" movie franchise, which centers on the illegal street racing culture, said Mark Guest, a former editor of the now-defunct magazine Max Power.

After the movie, modified cars "became very cool. Everyone wanted cool black civics and undercar neon. But now, modifieds have become associated with 'chav' culture," said Mr. Guest, using the derisive term often attached to white, working-class British youths some associate with criminality. "The image of the 'boy racer' became so unfortunate that the scene was driven underground," he said.

At its peak in the mid 2000s, Max Power sold 250,000 copies a month, Mr. Guest said. By 2010 it was out of business.

Weekly get-togethers, or "cruises," became targets of police intervention and public scorn, said Mr. Guest. In February, the local government in Southend-on-Sea, the Essex town known for its robust modified scene, issued an injunction against a planned cruise, citing prohibitions against, "cars driving in convoy, excessive speeding, racing, performing stunts, making excessive noise by, for example, sounding horns or playing radios."

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February 20, 2013

Banksy was Robin Banx


Banksy observed: "I've learnt from experience that a painting isn't finished when you put down your brush -- that's when it starts. The public reaction is what supplies meaning and value. Art comes alive in the arguments you have about it."


Some are out-and-out sight gags -- giant scissors with cut-here dotted lines stenciled on a wall. Some are doctored works, replacing the Mona Lisa's famous visage with a yellow smiley face or flinging some shopping carts into one of Monet's tranquil water gardens. And some are oddly philosophical meditations: showing a leopard escaping from a bar-code zoo cage, or a woman hanging up a zebra's stripes to dry on a laundry line. What they have in common is a coy playfulness -- a desire to goad viewers into rethinking their surroundings, to acknowledge the absurdities of closely held preconceptions.

Over the years Banksy has tried to maintain his anonymity. He has argued that he needs to hide his real identity because of the illegal nature of graffiti -- that he "has issues with the cops," that authenticating a street piece could be like "a signed confession." But as obscurity has given way to fame and his works have become coveted -- and costly -- collectors' pieces, critics have increasingly pointed out that Banksy has used anonymity as a marketing device, as another tool in his arsenal of publicity high jinks to burnish his own mystique.

The journalist Will Ellsworth-Jones's new book, "Banksy: The Man Behind the Wall," examines the conundrums behind Banksy and the growing Banksy brand, the paradoxes involved in an outsider trying to hold onto his street cred while becoming an art world insider, and artworks that question the capitalist ethos becoming highly coveted commodities themselves.

Mr. Ellsworth-Jones, who was chief reporter and New York correspondent for The Sunday Times in Britain, writes as a reporter, not an art critic. Although his book does not do a terribly fluent job of conveying the magic of Banksy's work (or an understanding of its iconography, its references or its place in a historical context of engagé art), it does pull together a lot of information about Banksy and his work from interviews with colleagues and former associates, from earlier books and from various online and print articles. It also provides an intriguing account of the making of the acclaimed Banksy film "Exit Through the Gift Shop" (which some regard as a documentary and others see as another Banksy stunt) and efforts by Banksy and his team to control and shape the mythology around him.Banksy observed: "I've learnt from experience that a painting isn't finished when you put down your brush -- that's when it starts. The public reaction is what supplies meaning and value. Art comes alive in the arguments you have about it."


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June 28, 2012

More right than left: UK newspapers


Looking at the three left of centre dailies: The Guardian sold 367,000 copies a day five years ago, it now stands at 214,128; The Independent 249,536 versus 98,636 today; the Daily Mirror 1,537,243 versus 1,084,355.

Collectively that is a sales decline of 35 per cent.

Looking at the main right of centre dailies, the Daily Mail was selling 2,300,420 copies a day five years ago versus 1,991,275 today; the Daily Express 760,086 versus 568,628; the Daily Telegraph 898,817 versus 576,790; The Times 629,157 versus 393, 187 and The Sun 3,047,527 versus 2,624,008.

Conclusion: tech-savy young lefties don't buy print.

May 21, 2012

School of Life


School, which sells 'programmes and services concerned with how to live wisely and well', is a step towards 'an ideal new sort of institution', a 'university of life' that would encourage its students 'to master their lives through the study of culture rather than using culture for the sake of passing an exam'.

-- School of Life, on Marchmont Street in Bloomsbury

April 13, 2012

Ray Hudson, the Murray Walker of Football (soccer)


Watchers of the bilingual soccer channel GolTV are treated weekly to the cockeyed enthusiasm of the British commentator Ray Hudson. A blog, Hudsonia, was inspired by his ability to "coin phrases that defy both logic and belief" and by his unending quest to "invent a new language in English."

In Hudson's words, Hernandez has "chameleon eyes" and is as "slippery as an eel covered in Vaseline" and plays with the predatory appetite of a "zombie hunter looking for a Twinkie." Somehow, out of incomprehension comes clarity. Even poetry.

Robert Lalasz, the editor of the Web site Must Read Soccer, has assembled Hudson's verbal improvisations into verse, the way others previously did for the Yankees broadcaster Phil Rizzuto. One of the poems, "He Doesn't Live There," opened this article.

Here is another:

"Neither With Net nor Trident"

The genius, the genius of
Football
In our modern-day life
Utterly
Unpredictable
He doesn't know
What he's going to do
So how the hell
Do the defenders
You cannot contain him
With a net
Or a trident
He's got pace
He's got power
He's got vision
Technique!
And he's got
Finishing power
His cup
Runneth over ...
Magnificent Messi
Wild man
He doth bestride the Earth
Like a Colossus

December 27, 2010

Intellectual capture of regulators


What one might call intellectual capture. While I would strongly argue that the FSA in my day did not favor firms unduly, it is perhaps true that we--and in this we were exactly like our American counterparts--were inclined to believe that markets were generally efficient. If willing buyers and willing sellers were trading claims happily, then, as long as they were "professional" investors, there was no legitimate reason to interfere in their markets. These people were "consenting adults in private," and the state should avert its gaze.
We now know that some of these market emperors had no clothes--and that their activities were far from benign: They could result in severe financial instability and generate serious losses for taxpayers, not to mention precipitate a global recession. That has been a grave lesson for regulators and central banks.

-- Howard Davies, former chairman of Britain's Financial Services Authority and a former deputy governor of the Bank of England, is director of the London School of Economics. His latest book is Banking on the Future: The Fall and Rise of Central Banking.

November 12, 2010

Daydreaming



People spend 'half their waking hours daydreaming'

Daydreaming 'does not make you happy'
Continue reading the main story
Related stories

The joy of daydreaming
People spend nearly half of their waking hours not thinking about what they are actually doing, according to a US study conducted via the iPhone.

More than 2,200 volunteers downloaded an app which then surveyed them about their thoughts and mood at random times of day and night.

The Science study suggested minds wander, even from demanding tasks, at least 30% of the time.

October 31, 2010

Four Loko, for people who take drinking seriously


Four Loko joins this warped tradition. And what I quickly came to see was that if you set out to engineer a booze delivery system that is as cloying, deceptive and divorced from the usual smells, tastes and presentation of alcohol as possible, you'd be hard pressed to come up with something more impressive than Four Loko.

It's a malt liquor in confectionary drag, not only raising questions about the marketing strategy behind it but also serving as the clearest possible reminder that many drinkers aren't seeking any particular culinary or aesthetic enjoyment. They're taking a drug. The more festively it's dressed and the more vacuously it goes down, the better.

Four Loko cans -- I paid $3.50 apiece for mine -- are something to see, each sporting a few ultrabright, childlike hues in a kind of rippling weave that evokes a camouflage pattern. Fatigues like these are what an army of Teletubbies would wear into battle.

This obsession with vivid colors extends to the beverage itself. The watermelon-flavored Four Loko, for example, is a shade of rosy pink that put me in mind of sherbet. Or bridesmaid dresses.

Continue reading "Four Loko, for people who take drinking seriously" »

October 24, 2010

Triathletes extend life from 20s to 40s, and consume


"Triathlons are much better for the body than long-distance running. With triathlons, when you are injured running, you can still swim and bike."

-- Dr. Michael J. Neely, the medical director at NY Sports Medicine and Physical Therapy, based in Manhattan.

... And leads to branded consumerism:

all the accessories and lifestyle brands that now cater to him and other triathletes. They can now buy TriSwim's shampoo to remove chlorine, and sports drinks like Hammer Nutrition Heed, which is sold on Web sites like One Tri. There are aerodynamic helmets and sunglasses made for triathlons, as well as wet suits and tri-specific running sneakers made by K-Swiss, Asics, Zoots and Newton.

At Placid Planet, a bicycle and triathlon shop in Lake Placid, N.Y., the new must-have accessories are Zipp wheels and compression tights. "Zipp wheels are an aerodynamic carbon wheel that increase speed by reducing drag on the wheel," said Kenny Boettger, the owner. Compression tights and socks, he said, help athletes recirculate oxygen and blood. "This is the big thing right now and it works," he said.

There are also magazines like Lava, which began publishing in August and offers testosterone-fueled articles and profiles that appeal to men who dream about being Ironmen. With page after page of Lycra, equipment reviews and training tips, the magazine is geared for "hardcore triathletes who want to get right inside the fiery molten center of triathlon," according to its mission statement.

Lava's macho-man mantra is simple. "Forty is the new 20," said John Duke, who publishes the monthly magazine in San Diego. "And in triathletes, 40 isn't old. The median age of the sport is 41."

Good thing, too, since triathlons don't come cheap. "Forty-somethings are also the ones who can afford the sport," said Scott Berlinger, the head coach of Full Throttle, a 120-man triathlon team that is based out of the Chelsea Piers in Manhattan. "I tell my athletes everything costs $100 -- shoes, helmets, glasses -- and the big purchase is your bike."

A bicycle -- the tri-world equivalent of the red sports car -- can cost anywhere from several hundred dollars to more than $10,000. After the bike and the chiropractor bills, the biggest item is individual coaching, which can easily run $100 an hour.

"Triathletes are a discerning group of alpha consumers, with $175,000 average salaries," said Erik Vervloet, vice president for sports marketing at K-Swiss, which jumped into the tri-market three years ago. "The average Ironman spends $22,000 a year on the sport."

The high price is an issue, particularly for spouses. "I still argue with the wife about the costs," said Mr. Goodman, the triathlete from Stamford. His gear includes a $5,000 Cervelo bicycle, a $3,000 Pinarello bicycle, Xterra Vector Pro2 wet suits, Izumi Tri Fly 111 bike shoes and a Lazer Tardiz helmet.

But his wife, Amy, eventually came around. "At first it was a bit hard for me to swallow," said Ms. Goodman, 32, who is attending graduate school in the field of public health, "but when I saw that the bike wasn't going to hang on the wall, I thought, in terms of self-indulgences, this is one of the best things he could be doing."

Continue reading "Triathletes extend life from 20s to 40s, and consume" »

November 7, 2009

Taxing somebody other than taxpayers

Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain, leading a meeting here of finance ministers from the Group of 20 rich and developing countries, said such a tax on banks should be considered as a way to take the burden off taxpayers during periods of financial crisis. His comments pre-empted the International Monetary Fund, which is set to present a range of options next spring to ensure financial stability.

Continue reading "Taxing somebody other than taxpayers" »

October 21, 2009

Surveillance 'totally unwarranted'

Suspected of sending children to an out-of-distrct school, state collected a surveillance report and the family's telephone billing records.

"As far as I'm concerned, they're within their rights to scrutinize all applications, but the way they went about it was totally unwarranted.

Continue reading "Surveillance 'totally unwarranted'" »

September 6, 2009

How big is UK cel / mobile phone market

BERLIN -- Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom said Tuesday that they were planning to merge their struggling mobile operations in Britain, creating the largest mobile phone operator there.

The companies said the 50-50 venture, combining Britain's third- and fourth-largest operators, would have 28.4 million customers and a 37 percent market share, according to Gartner, leapfrogging the market leader, O2, with 27 percent, and Vodafone, with 25 percent. The companies said they expected to sign an agreement by the end of next month.

Merger Would Create U.K. Mobile Giant

By KEVIN J. O'BRIEN
Published: September 8, 2009

Britain's popultion is about 61 million.

August 26, 2009

verdes Vadera, green shoots, he scores

The popularity of the term "green shoots" shows the kind of social epidemic underlying our changing thinking. The phrase was propelled in Britain by Shriti Vadera, the business minister, in January, and mutated into a more contagious form after Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, used it on "60 Minutes" on March 15.

The news media didn't need to change the term for different cultures around the world. With nothing more than a quick translation -- brotes verdes, pousses vertes, grüne Sprösslinge, etc. -- it is now recognized as a symbol of a revival coming soon.

All of this suggests that a social epidemic is supporting renewed confidence. This confidence can keep growing by contagion, as a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy, and we may see the markets and the economy recover further.

Continue reading "verdes Vadera, green shoots, he scores" »

May 23, 2009

Late night safety bus

If public transport and public health could merge, there would be a safe way to get home at night.

Atrios would approve, if public safety is a public good.


Phoenix, AZ 2009 May 21:

The Valley's light rail will soon extend its hours on the weekends.

Currently, the light rail makes its last run at 11 p.m.

However, starting July 1, the trains will leave from both ends of the line at 2 a.m., which means if your stop is somewhere in the middle, the final train will sometimes come past 2 a.m.

On Wednesday, the METRO Board of Directors approved the new hours.

The change was made after getting feedback from passengers and businesses along the light rail route.

Melissa Harrigan, a bartender at Zuma Grill in Tempe, said she thinks the change will be good for business because people will be able to stay longer.

She also said that she feels it will keep the roads safer because a bigger group of people won't be drinking and driving.

According to a METRO news release, the estimated fiscal and maintenance impact for extended weekend service is $254,500 annually to the METRO operating budget.

After six months, the Board will review ridership statistics and costs associated with the service extension to see if the change is cost effective.


Published in transit, urbanism, UK, SFO, ny.

August 12, 2008

FT Alphaville

FinancialTimes' ftalphaville. Instant trends, market moves, as seen from the City outside the USA.

January 10, 2007

FX UDS EU by Bond Dad

FX: US$ vs Euro, US$ collapsed 2002-2005.
Noted by Bond Dad.

November 3, 2006

Music ban strikes a chord

Campaign for quiet passengers and quiet electronics
(cel phone ring tones, iPod, walman headphones).

Music ban strikes a chord.
-- Headline that could have been used.

Continue reading "Music ban strikes a chord" »

September 21, 2006

Separated by a Common Language

Separatedbyacommonlanguage compare US English to British English.

June 16, 2006

Jimmy Carr

Best use of dramatic pause.
-- Jimmy Carr.

April 28, 2006

Belgian assembly

Brussels Journal tracks crime in Europe and faults the Beeb.

December 24, 2005

Patrick Crozier

Patrick Crozier, more linker than thinker, points
to many good quotes.

In a comparison of a 1973 algebra textbook and a 1998
“contemporary mathematics” textbook, Williamson Evers
and Paul Clopton found a dramatic change in topics.

In the 1973 book, for example, the index for the letter “F”
included “factors, factoring, fallacies, finite decimal,
finite set, formulas, fractions, and functions.”

In the 1998 book, the index listed “families (in poverty data),
fast food nutrition data, fat in fast food, feasibility study,
feeding tours, ferris wheel, fish, fishing, flags, flight, floor plan,
flower beds, food, football, Ford Mustang, franchises, and
fund-raising carnival."

October 26, 2005

Dave Cross, data munger

Dave Cross, London based perl guy, has long been in my pingoshere.

Picks up on techs trends, not ASAP, but as they start crossing the
chasm. And summarizes them.
Also a fierce advocate for good customer service, with
emphasis on forthcoming non-deceitfulness over pampering.
And lefty local pantser.

Update 2006 Mar 01: Now on OnLamp.

Continue reading "Dave Cross, data munger" »

August 10, 2005

lyrics

Cornershop, as explained by Mr GrumpyGus.

There’s Dancing Behind Movie Scenes
behind The Movie Scenes, Sadi Rani
she’s The One That Keeps The Dream Alive
from The Morning Past The Evening
to The End Of The Light

Brimful Of Asha On The 45
well, It’s A Brimful Of Asha On The 45

May 6, 2005

Ben Hammersley

Ben Hammersley, web-centric technology coverage, presentented with
excellent minimalist page layout.

">Archives, Twitter.