Saturday, September 27, 2003
""Another reason to invest in Italy is that we have beautiful secretaries... superb girls,..
[To be a judge,] you need to be mentally disturbed, you need psychic disturbances... If they do that job it is because they are anthropologically different from the rest of the human race."
Iain Murry puts it succinctly: "With all due respect, I'll steer clear of a country with congentially insane judges, whatever the secretaries look like."
Thursday, September 25, 2003
They've done Seinfeld, the Simpsons and the Matrix in a series on this - I'm curious as to what their next pick will be. But would prefer the Matrix book...
The idealistic speechwriter is well-liked by just about everyone. He's known for his excellent writing, sense of humor, and tendency to be clutzy. Although being younger than the rest of the staff, he's often treated as so, much to his dismay.
:: Which West Wing character are you? ::
Wednesday, September 24, 2003
"Neath have called on the Welsh Rugby Union to discipline Aberavon coach Chris O'Callaghan for his pre-match comments.
O'Callaghan released a tongue-in-cheek statement ahead of last weekend's Premiership match between the two clubs, saying "I hate Neath so much that I've changed our kit to get rid of the black [NEATH PLAY ALL IN BLACK]".
"It's right to hate Neath, it's a part of what we in Aberavon are all about - it's as natural as the stink from the steelworks and the lead that addles our brains," O'Callaghan said.
"I was born in Neath but I won't admit it, lived in Neath but want to forget it, and when I die I want to be buried face down on a mountain overlooking Neath with my arse poking out.
"Let the hatred wash over us, lets wallow in it for one afternoon - the Blacks are back and I for one have missed them badly." "
Oh yeah. Feel the aggression....
Tuesday, September 23, 2003
"The recording industry needs your help. It can't seem to figure out a business model that takes advantage of the way the Internet has changed the economics of music distribution. Perhaps you can. Beginning today, I'll be accepting submissions for "The Great Recording Industry Business Model Contest." I'll post the best in GMSV as I receive them and I'll reward the author of the winning entry with the appropriate plaudits and a SiliconValley.com t-shirt in CEO-prison-scrub orange. Have at it. mailto:Jpaczkowski@knightridder.com"
"AP reports that the owner of the Dewey Decimal Classification System has sued the Library Hotel (a hotel overlooking New York's Public Library) over its use of the Dewey Decimal System to number its hotel rooms (for example Room 700.003 has books on the performing arts), arguing that the use of the system falsely suggests that the hotel is connected with the owners of the system.".
Anyway, apparently Larry Lessig is a great powerpoint artist, and this is an on-line version of one of his. Update - it looks pretty cool to me. Not wholly applicable in a commercial context, but enough good stuff for someone who feels ultra-confident in their presentation to play it that way.
- A person who has unpopular political beliefs of left or right that might lose them their job or promotion.
- A person who is homosexual but their family does not know.
- A teenage girl secretly visiting her boyfriend. He is of a different race to her family, and they have forbidden her to see him.
- A man who is seeking to change his job needs to attend interviews with other companies. He doesn't want his present employer to know for fear that if the interviews don't work out he might end up worse off than before, having lost the confidence of his boss.
- A woman scouting out places to go to get away from her violent partner.
- Someone going to Alcoholics Anonymous or drugs rehabilitation sessions.
- Someone going to church, synagogue or mosque who fears the scorn of their secular friends, colleagues or family.
- Someone attending classes of religious instruction prior to converting to another religion who fears the vengeance of their family if their apostasy becomes known.
- A son or daughter visiting an estranged parent without the knowledge of the parent they live with.
- An ex-criminal seeking to go straight who must meet his probation officer or register with the police.
- An adulterer. (I think adultery is very wrong, but I don't want the government involved in exposing it - besides the intrinsic nastiness of state intervention in such matters, you can bet they would expose the adulteries of their opponents and pass over the adulteries of their friends.)
"If I wanted my son to get into Britain's ruling class, this is what I would now have to do, according to these plans. First, I would get him into the most expensive private school I could possibly afford. Then at sixteen I would have an arranged divorce with my wife, and I would move with him to the worst sink estate I could possibly imagine. Somewhere grim and remote would do the trick, perhaps the Belle Vue South estate in Carlisle?
And now comes the tricky bit. Once ensconced in Carlisle, we would track down the very worst comprehensive school or sixth form college in North Cumbria, and bung him right in there on the register. But what we wouldn't do, of course, is actually send him there, oh no. ..."
Monday, September 22, 2003
"A: I don't think about the reaction of the Americans before I say things. I just speak my mind -- which is trained in the world's best schools, and refined by a thousand years of French cultural superiority. I'm sympathetic to the Americans incapacity to comprehend my thought process. After all, their nation has yet to spawn any genuine philosophers or legitimate literature. All their finest minds are devoted to developing ways to make hamburgers faster and cheaper. Does that answer your question?
Q: I think so. Back to the Iraq issue -- how much does your own personal military service during the Algerian war of independence shape your thinking about Iraq?
A: You mean the illegitimate rebellion in Algérie Française?
A: Well, there is a significant parallel between our battle against the Muslim extremists, and the situation the U.S. faces in Iraq today. I would hate to see an Algerian-style quagmire in Iraq.
Q: I'm not sure I see the connection. Wasn't France a greedy, self-interested colonial ruler which had oppressed Algeria for 132 years, before the Algerians threw off the yoke of foreign domination?
A: That's not nice a very nice way of saying it. You are an uncultured person.
Q: On the other hand, the United States has overthrown a dictator who had oppressed and murdered his own people and ignored international calls for disarmament. How are the situations alike?
A: Again, if you were French, you would have better manners than to ask a question like that.
Q: So what's the parallel between Algeria and Iraq?
A: I cannot explain it to someone so dull of mind.
Q: Was it a mistake to overthrow Saddam? "
Read the rest.
- see the poster , protest the stifling of useful information conduits on the California recall, get all het up. Go!
However, the rest of you should make time to download free electronic post-it notes (via Daimnation!)
Sunday, September 21, 2003
"EVER wondered why French children are so unnaturally well-behaved in restaurants? Could the liberal use by French parents of a firm smack be responsible? According to one poll, 84% of them admit to smacking their children, a practice banned in countries from Sweden to Germany, and 51% say they do so often.
The French like to appear baffled, even amused, by others' efforts to ban the habit. A recent British move to outlaw smacking by child-minders made Le Figaro's front page. Certainly, there is no taboo against smacking in public: many a harassed parent can be seen unapologetically slapping a tot in a park or supermarket. It is part of the repertoire of unsentimental child-rearing practices that set France apart from the indulgent child-centric American tradition. Surely, say the French, parents can be trusted to know the difference between the odd slap and repeated physical abuse?"
Being a long way off parenthood, I get to avoid issues like "to smack or not to smack". But it seems France is only just getting round to thinking about the issue, and whether smacking should be banned.
"In the Park’s world-famous Miniland, suspended next to Tower Bridge, a small David Blaine lookalike LEGO minifigure can be seen, preparing for another night of isolation and starvation, locked inside his plexi-glass box with only a LEGO water bottle and blue blanket for comfort."
"ROMANS are to be offered cut-price family meals in a novel attempt by the city’s authorities to curb inflation that has plagued Italy since the introduction of euro notes and coins at the beginning of last year.
The scheme, called Shopping Sport, starts on October 1 in the city’s 140 street markets. Stallholders will be asked to offer shoppers a basket containing enough ingredients to make a meal for four people, including meat or fish, vegetables and dessert, for ¤12 (£8.34).
Restaurants, bars, hairdressers, garages, plumbers and supermarkets have also been asked to join the campaign. For example, restaurants will be expected to offer a starter, a pizza and a pudding for ¤12 — and it should be possible to get a morning cappuccino and croissant for ¤1.50 (£1.05). The authorities will publish a list of the businesses taking part.
Italy’s consumer groups, trades unions and bankers are united in their criticism of Istat, the national statistics agency, which they accuse of using an unrepresentative “basket” of goods to calculate the index.
Newspapers run stories almost daily on the “real” inflation rate, which some put as high as 30%. Even everyday items such as bread and milk have risen by 16% and a bus ticket by 29% since December 2001, according to Consumer’s Contract, a group that lobbies for consumers’ rights. "
Now, if prices have risen, someone is presumably making more money. However, it appears that there are a great many intermediaries in the Italian economy. If at each step in the chain, they've rounded up their prices (because of the Euro translation), then if you try to control the end price, you'll basically just punish the end retailler (in the short term).
Of course, the current situation could lead to windfall gains until prices readjust back down (as at higher prices, the customer will buy less, so the retailler tries to cut input prices, so there's more price competition between wholesalers, so the manufacturers are put under price pressure, and so most of the gains bleed back out of the system - there's no permenant increase.
However, if you really could limit the end price, then there will be far less "upstream" price pressure (I suspect). The retailler has his margins capped and loses out. But since he needs volume still, the suppliers are under less pressure (as the end market is staying the same). I.e. - I suspect you're redistributing profits in the supply chain to earlier stages. No exactly the sort of thing I like to see by government fiat.
On the other hand, it was all their stupid idea in the first place - maybe they should get to try poor solutions first....
* There are strong theoretic benefits to single currency areas. However, they really only make sense when you have the right areas, ones with either economies that are (nearly) uniformly responsive to economic shocks, or ones that are highly adaptive (e.g. high labour mobility) or both. Neither the EU, nor the Euro area, meet the relevant criteria. The UK's not a brilliant fit, to be honest, but we all start from somewhere. The main optimal currency area theorist has moved over the years, I understand, to thinking that the only optimal currency area in practice would be global, and hence it's a bit pointless....