July 25, 2008
stansted airport: security types enforcing the no liquids/creams over 100ml rule, jamming the departure queue, being surly, causing stress and general unpleasantness.
gatwick airport: greeters dressed in bright yellow, helping people get their less than 100mls into clear plastic bags, advising where to get small containers, taking passengers through fast track if the process had delayed them.
July 22, 2008
St Giles Church, Cripplegate was the only thing standing on the site of what is now the Barbican in 1945. It’s still there, surrounded by modern brutalist (in the nicest possible way) architecture. And every now and then it sells second hand books ridiculously cheaply. Last week i picked up Black Swan by Nassem Nicholas Taleb, it was a review hardback, still containing a press release within its pages. i think i remember Terry saying he liked it, but maybe not for the writing. Well, I liked it immediately, particularly for the writing, somehow less pretentious than the Gladwellisms these kind of books normally display. It’s refreshing rant on the tyranny of the bell-curve, the impossibility of prediction and a jaunt through his own history. In a previous book, published before 9/11 he’d mentioned a plane crashing into an office tower. After 9/11 he was inundated with requests asking him to explain how. In this book, in a footnote to a passage headed “naive globalization” he says
the government sponsored institution Fanny Mae, when I look at their risks, seems to be sitting on a barrel of dynamite, vulnerable to the slightest hiccup. But not to worry: their large staff of scientists deemed these events “unlikely”.
July 15, 2008
another day another dive in the FTSE and other exchanges. The FTSE closed below 5200. One analyst predicted a fall to 3000. 3000 would take us back to 1994. 4000 is almost a conservative view now. the banks are busy with rights issues, but you can pick up shares on the market cheaper than the offer prices. if rights issues fail that isn’t going to help the credit squeeze. companies wanting to borrow tens or hundreds of millions for acquisitions or major projects are being offered rates a consumer would turn down for a loan on a car. this isn’t the way it is supposed to be.
unemployment is about to rocket. inflation is going up and there is no instrument with which to curb it. interest rates are being kept stable but with this kind of outlook they’re only going down, fraction by fraction. not that the banks will pass on any falls, there’s nothing in the pot.
July 11, 2008
i was recommended fip (click “ecouter”), which is a french radio station. odd and quite charming. thanks to icaro.
linux is a pain in the arse at times. whilst i can’t imagine going back to a mac or windows, i do find myself annoyed rather too often.
the kids are on holiday for 7 weeks and i’m jealous. how nice is that? i would like to spend the next seven weeks sleeping and reading.
i saw murakami interviewed(ish). he doesn’t actually do interviews, apparently. he views himself as a “resource”. quite right, too. i’d read hardboiled wonderland and a couple of others, people talked about his stuff a lot, but i was ambivalent. the doco made me want to read kafka on the shore. i went out with a couple of people shortly after seeing the programme who told me it was “not as good as” hardboiled etc. suffice to say it was so much better. love it.
i failed to complete a fourth day of yoga and am irked. it’s good, must try harder.
i’m getting less pleasure than i anticipated in watching the global economic collapse.
now listen to fip!
July 6, 2008
i love nick cave’s ’stagger lee’. at the end of this evening ita and i watched a bit of cave in concert on bbc4. just as he did when i last saw him (in alexandra palace), he played this song as an encore.
It was back in ‘32 when times were hard
He had a Colt .45 and a deck of cards
He wore rat-drawn shoes and an old stetson hat
Had a ‘28 Ford, had payments on that
the song relates to a pretty dull killing in 1895. It was first recorded in 1928 by Mississippi John Hurt and has been covered many times since, including woodie guthrie, tina turner, the isley brothers, neil diamond, the clash, and cave.
and all starting out as a simple killing over a hat. From the Globe-Deomocrat of St louis, Missouri in 1895:
William Lyons, 25, a levee hand, was shot in the abdomen yesterday evening at 10 o’clock in the saloon of Bill Curtis, at Eleventh and Morgan Streets, by Lee Sheldon, a carriage driver. Lyons and Sheldon were friends and were talking together. Both parties, it seems, had been drinking and were feeling in exuberant spirits. The discussion drifted to politics, and an argument was started, the conclusion of which was that Lyons snatched Sheldon’s hat from his head. The latter indignantly demanded its return. Lyons refused, and Sheldon withdrew his revolver and shot Lyons in the abdomen. When his victim fell to the floor Sheldon took his hat from the hand of the wounded man and coolly walked away. He was subsequently arrested and locked up at the Chestnut Street Station. Lyons was taken to the Dispensary, where his wounds were pronounced serious. Lee Sheldon is also known as ‘Stag’ Lee.
She saw the barkeep, said, “O God, he can’t be dead!”
Stag said, “Well, just count the holes in the motherfucker’s head”
She said, “You ain’t look like you scored in quite a time.
Why not come to my pad? It won’t cost you a dime”
Mr. Stagger Lee
it’s available on lastfm, full track and all.
July 1, 2008
gone are the days when a woman’s second husband was the guy who killed the first. gone are the days when the dust cloud on the horizon meant your village, or your city, was about to get wiped out by the hoard. despite the obvious butchery of the 20th century, life gets better, for more people, over time. yes, and happier.
The people of rich countries tend to be happier than those of poor countries, but even controlling for economic factors, certain types of societies are much happier than others.
“The results clearly show that the happiest societies are those that allow people the freedom to choose how to live their lives,” Inglehart said.
“The events of the past 25 years have brought a growing sense of freedom that seems to be even more important than economic development in contributing to rising happiness,” Inglehart said. “Moreover, the most effective way to maximize happiness seems to change with rising levels of economic development. In subsistence-level societies, happiness is closely linked with in-group solidarity, religiosity and national pride. At higher levels of economic security, free choice has the largest impact on happiness.