A Mongrel Mouthful
Stephen Fry: Most of the people who think they’re the ones who care about language are the kind of absolute arse-witterers who write letters to newspapers […] moaning about the confusion of “disinterested” and “uninterested” and thinking that they are terribly well educated and that they really understand language and that they know the derivation of words....
We Are the Not Dead
Pinar at My Modern Net: Photographer Lalage Snow, who is currently based in Kabul, Afghanistan, embarked on an 8-month-long project titled We Are The Not Dead featuring portraits of British soldiers before, during, and after their deployment in Afghanistan.
Punking the CEO
A worker in the gaming industry pulls an interesting prank on her CEO. I stood in the entryway, dizzy with joy. It was glorious. There Brosie stood, proud, nipples testing the air like young gophers in springtime, the post-apocalyptic breeze gently swaying his banana hammock. Brosie said, loud and proud: “Get ready, world! I am here to lubricate your joints and tighten your socket.” It’s...
Conflicts of Interest
George Monbiot: Over the past few days I have asked the Shell professor of earth sciences at Oxford, the university itself and the umbrella body Universities UK to explain the ethical difference between taking tobacco money for cancer research and taking fossil fuel money for energy research. None of these great heads, despite my repeated attempts to engage them, were prepared even to attempt an...
So humans can survive 214 metres under the sea
Jet-lagged from my recent trip overseas and unable to sleep, I decided to watch a DVD that a colleague had sold to me during a clear-out of his apartment last month. The last time I watched Le Grand Bleu was when I was sixteen on an exchange trip to Toulouse in France. At the time, I had been shown the film in French and since then I had either forgotten or not realised that it was actually filmed...
An Excel Error? Seriously?
This blog post seems to have sparked a near-riot, criticizing the Reinhart-Rogoff paper that concludes that debt levels above 90% of GDP harm economic growth. This passage caught my eye: If this error turns out to be an actual mistake Reinhart-Rogoff made, well, all I can hope is that future historians note that one of the core empirical points providing the intellectual foundation for the...
Ang Lee, the Uncertainty of Success, and...
A thought-provoking piece about how long it took Ang Lee to get his break in film making; six years in his case. Put yourself in his shoes. Imagine starting something now, this year, that you felt you were pretty good at, having won some student awards, devoting yourself to it full time… and then getting rejected over and over until 2019. That’s the middle of the term of the next President of the...
I bring quadruple diversity to the Senate,” Hirono said at a rally earlier in...– Hawaii sends nation’s first Asian American woman to Senate (San Jose Mercury News)
Michael Lewis' Profile of Obama
Michael Lewis, one of the best long-form journalists around, has scooped an incredible story this time. He contacted the White House, asking to write a story that puts the reader in President Obama’s shoes. To do this, he needed to follow the President around, play basketball with him, attend meetings, etc. Incredibly, they said yes. If you haven’t heard of Lewis before, you may want...
I was one of 13 children, although only eight of us made it past infancy. We...– Last of the Gorbals boys died in 2003
Twitter Should Have an App Store
Looks like some big changes are coming to Twitter in the next few months. I can’t believe that Twitter would be so stupid as to cut off all third party clients that do no more than replicate the core Twitter experience. That wouldn’t be shooting yourself in the foot, it would be shooting yourself in the gut. I can understand that they want tighter control over the experience and that...
Spaceflight will never tolerate carelessness, incapacity, and neglect....– The Kranz Dictum by Gene Kranz (played by Ed Harris in the Apollo 13 film). From a speech that he made in a meeting of his branch and flight control team on the Monday morning following the Apollo 1 disaster that killed Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee.
Simplicity is not the absence of clutter, that’s a consequence of simplicity....– Jonathan Ive: simplicity isn’t simple
Facebook iOS App to Go Native →
Maybe this came up when Apple and Facebook were discussing integration. The much improved Google+ app might have been an influence too.
The U.S. didn’t ratify the Kyoto accords, of course, because Al Gore and I left...– Bill Clinton with some good ideas about how to stimulate the U.S. economy.
Films I've made a note to watch
I’ve been making a note every time I come across a film that sounds interesting. This is the list so far: Perestroika Cherry tree lane London to Brighton - seen it. Really good. Recommend it. World’s Greatest Dad - seen it. Awful. Don’t touch it. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives Of Gods and Men Cool Hand Luke Once upon a time in the west Ballast Confessions...
On August 18, 2007, on Fox News Channel’s Cavuto on Business, Stein...– http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Stein
A Game Of Thrones
Today I read this article in the New Yorker about George R.R. Martin. He has already sold more than 15 million copies of his fantasy book series and with HBO doing a TV series right now, he’s sure to sell a lot more. The article talks about the anger he’s getting from fans who have been waiting six years for the next installment in the series, despite his promises that he would finish...
[On Japan] Yes, the outstanding public debt level is very high, though there...– One of the foremost experts on the Japanese economy, Adam Posen, in his remarks on the 13th of April. Japan Can – and Will - Be a Normal Economy Again [pdf]
Some thoughts on Tweetbot
The rave reviews for this new Twitter client interested me and considering the inordinate amount of time I spend tweeting and the cheap price, I decided to give it a whirl. I’ve been a fan of Twitter for iPhone (the app formerly known as Tweetie) for some time and other clients haven’t managed to lure me away. I’ve been using Tweetbot for about a week non-stop and it has...
Household Debt in the UK needs to rise for the... →
“Given the tax and benefit changes Osborne is presiding over, households have little choice but to borrow more to make ends meet. And that is how Osborne plans to drive down public debt: by increasing the household debt that helped cause the crisis in the first place.”
We find that there is no episode in which a country facing the same...– New Working Paper: “The Boom Not the Slump: The Right Time for Austerity” Obvious. Now with historical evidence.
we can only properly harness the power and wealth of oil companies for...– And not just for oil. Ideally, we need to create a business environment where producing greenhouse gases is unprofitable for any private enterprise. Source: David Mitchell’s always entertaining column in the Observer
Investigation of Beslan School Hostage Crisis →
Long but well worth reading. An incredibly detailed account of the events that took place in September 2004 at School Number One in Beslan, Northern Ossetia. Put together using a large number of eye witness accounts, this is a powerful story of cruelty, insanity, bravery, suffering and horror.
In some countries, most notably Japan and China, interest rates are set...– A great article on the very important, and difficult, question of whether we should be worried about sovereign debt levels or not. Quite a heavy piece but some of the points in it explain why Japan can tolerate such high debt levels. I can appreciate the point made in this quote but the figure he...
As they struggle to reduce huge budget deficits, western politicians almost...– The idea of rating agencies playing any part in determining government policy enrages me. The rating agencies were one of the key parties complicit in the creation of the toxic assets that set the financial crisis off. Their ratings were so wrong on so many occasions that it astounds me that anyone...
A large part of the activity of the financial sector seems to be a machine to...– Martin Wolf http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f2e4dbb0-4caa-11df-9977-00144feab49a.html
Organising Office Parties →
I’ve written about using name seals (inkan) in Japan before. Their main use is for stamping documents saying that you’ve read the contents and approve. They’re also used in other non-official…
Salt & Lime for Breakfast →
Kirin have brought out a drink that I haven’t seen before. Picked it up from the conbini on the way to work. Salty Lime in Japanese, Salt and Lime in English. It tastes exactly like it sounds. I…
Email forwarded by my Dad
Believe it or not most of this is true!! From a Grumpy Old Man (Your Dad) From: Subject: We was brung up proper CONGRATULATIONS TO ALL MY FRIENDS WHO WERE BORN IN THE 1930s 1940s, 50s, 60s and 70s ! First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us and lived in houses made of asbestos They took aspirin, ate blue cheese, raw egg products, loads of...
Your wheely bin
A dustbin man is going through the neighbourhood, picking up people’s rubbish. He comes to one house where the rubbish hasn’t been placed outside so he rings the door bell. A Chinese man opens the door. “Yes? Can I help you?” “Sorry to bother, I was just wondering. Where’s your bin?” “Well, I bin inside.” “No! Where’s your...
What’s the point? →
This blog post has been written in response to a request for tips on how to live frugally in Japan. Those of you who don’t live in Japan may wish to skip the “What you can do” sections. When I was…
The Eternal Boy Band →
Imagine, if you will, the boy bands that were popular in the early 90s. For those of you in the UK, that would probably be Take That. For those of you in the US, perhaps New Kids on the Block?…
More Difficulties in Claiming Overtime →
In a previous post, I wrote about the work ethic in Japan and how it can be difficult to go home early and take holiday. Today, I’ve made some surprising discoveries about how my company…
Applause for the New Employee →
I’ve posted before on how hard Japanese people work, and how you find yourself in an environment where you are encouraged and supported to do so. It all starts on the first day, when you are…
手締め Tejime →
At the end of the nomikai in my last post, the evening was brought to a close with an activity called tejime. The Japanese encyclopedia describes tejime as a celebratory rhythmic clapping of hands…
Doh is for DONUTS! →
During my time at my present employer, I have of course been drinking with my colleagues on quite a few occasions. It’s always fun and we have a laugh. Last Tuesday was different… With the…
Signed, Sealed, Delivered →
My signature is atrocious. Anyone who takes a moment to look at my hasty scribble will surely snicker at the childlike mess of pen strokes that are somehow supposed to suffice as evidence of my…