Spotify – your adverts are off.

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U2, Kings of Leon, Word magazine (one of these ridiculous magazines with endless articles on Neil Young and Zep): Spotify you gotta be joking?

Guy Dammann: Can science explain our taste in art? | guardian.co.uk

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A “no” then, since I quite like modern art and atonal music, even noise,

One of the implications of Dutton’s blindness to this distinction is his decision to try to write off the entire category of “difficult” modern art. Modernism, according to Dutton, is an aesthetic irrelevance because it seems to bear little relation to the complex of instinctual desires he argues make up our art instinct. Now you may, or may not, agree that much of what passes for art in the last 100 years has been an aesthetic irrelevance. But to bash it with the bluntest reactionary instrument in existence – the “it’s not in our nature” gambit – is about as wrongheaded as it is possible to be. It is wrong because, as has been argued and shown for at least two-and-a-half millennia, art exists precisely to change and reshape what is “in our nature”. It is wrong because it is bad science (entomologists don’t criticise ants for their strange behaviour; they try to explain it). Most of all, it is wrong because there is no structural difference between such pseudo-naturalising in an artistic context and in more obviously moral contexts, such as when our esteemed Holy Father denounced homosexuality on the grounds that it was a deviation from our duty to reproduce.

Guy Dammann: Can science explain our taste in art? (No) | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

iPhone 3.0 Copy and Paste Described – Mac Rumors

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iPhone 3.0 Copy and Paste Described - Mac Rumors

Terry Hall speaks sense on U2 and Richard Hell (The Observer)

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We U2 haters are taking over the world.

I couldn’t care less about what U2 think if I illegally download one of their songs, not that I would. I think it’s shit, man.

Terry Hall speaks sense on U2 and Richard Hell (The Observer)

The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost…Amazon.co.uk: Richard Wilkinson, Kate Pickett: Books

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The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost…Amazon.co.uk: Richard Wilkinson, Kate Pickett: Books

The Equality Trust

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The Equality Trust

The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett review | Non-fiction book reviews – Times Online

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Their book charts the level of health and social problems — as many as they could find reliable figures for — against the level of income inequality in 20 of the world’s richest nations, and in each of the 50 United States. They allocate a brief chapter to each problem, supplying graphs that display the evidence starkly and unarguably. What they find is that, in states and countries where there is a big gap between the incomes of rich and poor, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, obesity and teenage pregnancy are more common, the homicide rate is higher, life expectancy is shorter, and children’s educational performance and literacy scores are worse. The Scandinavian countries and Japan consistently come at the positive end of this spectrum. They have the smallest differences between higher and lower incomes, and the best record of psycho-social health. The countries with the widest gulf between rich and poor, and the highest incidence of most health and social problems, are Britain, America and Portugal.

Richard Wilkinson, a professor of medical epidemiology at Nottingham University, and Kate Pickett, a lecturer in epidemiology at York University, emphasise that it is not only the poor who suffer from the effects of inequality, but the majority of the population. For example, rates of mental illness are five times higher across the whole population in the most unequal than in the least unequal societies in their survey. One explanation, they suggest, is that inequality increases stress right across society, not just among the least advantaged.

The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett review | Non-fiction book reviews - Times Online

Quote by Robert Wagner (Scott Eyman review | Times Online).

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Retirement is a collusion between life insurance companies and cruise companies.

Quote by Robert Wagner (Scott Eyman review | Times Online).

Amazon.co.uk: Pieces of My Heart by Robert Wagner

A View from the Foothills: The Diaries of Chris Mullin review | Non-fiction book reviews – Times Online

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Blair misleading MPs (or “lying” if you want to) once, twice, thrice … about WMDs and Iraq,

The remarkable thing is that while Blair (“The Man”, Mullin calls him) was extraordinarily persuasive, both in the chamber and at private meetings of the parliamentary Labour party (where he faced a sort of sulky but, in the end, ineffectual opposition), the analysis that he presented to MPs was almost always wrong. In late February, Mullin reports him saying to the backbench parliamentary committee that he believed there would be a second resolution from the UN giving the go-ahead. There was not. On the question of a veto by France or Russia, he said: “I can’t be certain, but I don’t think there will be a veto.” In January, Mullin records Blair cheerfully telling the committee that the entire Arab world would be united in its support of an invasion. “They are saying, do it quickly,” he told his MPs. Earlier that month, he seemed to rule out the prospect of a war without a second UN resolution: “There is no doubt that we have got to take a stand against weapons of mass destruction and that it has got to be done through the international community. It’s got to be done the right way.” Later, he shifted the ground again.

Amazon.co.uk: A View From The Foothills

A View from the Foothills: The Diaries of Chris Mullin review | Non-fiction book reviews - Times Online

Red Riding: big budget, but no Yorkshire ripper – Times Online

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AA Gill sums up the first episode of Red Riding more eloquently than my own summary,

The good things about it, and there were many, were mostly technical. The grading of the film stock was fabulous; the location scouting and set dressing a designer’s dream. The costumes were brilliant. This all came together to make an atmosphere that was as thick and pungent as crematorium smoke. The feel was matt noir, a cross between The Night of the Hunter and Get Carter, but the setting and the style were so mordant and heavy that they smothered the plot. The only suspense was from the creeping realisation that the story really was this unsophisticated.

That may well work in a book — all sorts of things work in books but don’t make much sense on the box. The simplest TV rules of procedural storytelling were ignored or discarded for more atmosphere and moody scene-setting, the action was repetitive, the dialogue soupy and inconclusive. The denouement, when we finally got there, was a flaccidly Wagnerian blowout that bore little relationship to what had led up to it. There was no detection, as such, no unfolding, no explanations. Just a thrown-away confession.

The cast was good. Andrew Garfield, as the trainee journalist who never seemed to do any writing, was grittily methodical and throbbed with Stanislavski. And then there was Sean Bean: a latterday Stanley Baker, but without the breadth. Bean is a performer who has all the dramatic range of a tiddlywink, albeit a very angry tiddlywink.

Red Riding: big budget, but no Yorkshire ripper - Times Online

The term Baroque comes from a Portuguese word barocco, which means a misshapen pearl.

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The term Baroque comes from a Portuguese word barocco, which means a misshapen pearl.

Via a Waldemar Januszczak piece on baroque in The Times (TV series coming up).

Spotify mini player: yes we want it.

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Spotify mini player: yes we want it.

But I am not going to sign up to some website to vote for it.

Notes for a possible full article on the death of the CD.

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Overall idea: buy music because you want to, not because you feel charitable for certain labels or artists. Long term the latter is not sustainable (at least not as a business (this is not about artistic value). Music was reduced to cheap plastic and a stream of bits -> Spotify is its conclusion.

  • Quality: tiny PC speakers, iTunes, Spotify
  • Superior technical quality will only help in niche markets, ie audiophiles into classical or jazz might buy Blu-Ray; no one else will
  • Good quality covers or series might not be enough: ie Rune Grammofon or Ghost Box
  • Limited editions or small runs of CDs and vinyl: make it unique, signed and numbered even better
  • Make it even more unique: hand-painted covers
  • Gigs: stand out, does not to be Alice Cooper, but sheer quality, showmanship or manic front-figure
  • Games: iTunes, GTA IV
  • Movies
  • Copyright started out in the thirties, goldrush to slightly modify traditional tunes and claim them as your own (as shown on “Folk America”, Billy Bragg is the new Cliff Richard)

El Chapo: the narcotics king who made it into Forbes magazine | World news | The Guardian

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They say that when Joaquín ‘El Chapo’ Guzmán was courting his third wife he threw her a party in her remote northern Mexican mountain village that nobody there will ever forget.

It began when a small army of men with automatic weapons arrived to secure the area on 200 all-terrain motorbikes. It really got going when the cocaine kingpin stepped out of a convoy of six light aircraft that flew in for the event. The middle aged drugs baron proceeded to dance for hours with the 17-year-old village beauty queen to the oompah-pah rhythms and accordion riffs of a well known local band as expensive whisky flowed.

Money was already no object for El Chapo. Mexico’s most wanted drug trafficker has become fabulously rich on the back of his murderous trade, so rich in fact that this week he featured at No 701 on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people, with an estimated $1bn fortune.

But in a sign of how vilified he has become in government circles, even the Forbes publication elicited apoplectic responses. Mexico’s president, Felipe Calderon, castigated the magazine for glorifying its enemy number one. “Magazines,” he said, “are not only attacking and lying about the situation in Mexico but are also praising criminals.”

Forbes is not “praising criminals”, they are just exposing how much money can be made on drugs and how silly the “war on drugs” is.

El Chapo: the narcotics king who made it into Forbes magazine | World news | The Guardian

Spy in sky, 12 miles high (coming to the UK?) | The Guardian

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It is the ultimate in unmanned drones: the Pentagon has revealed plans for a surveillance aircraft that will fly more than 12 miles above the ground for 10 years without landing.

“It is absolutely revolutionary,” said Werner Dahm, chief scientist for the air force. “It is a cross between a satellite and a Global Hawk [spy plane].”

The 450ft-long (137-metre) craft will be developed at a cost of $400m (£260m), with a prototype one-third of that length due to be ready by 2014.

The US military hopes the blimp, floating 12 miles above a surveillance area in near space, will give it a better understanding of events on the ground. It will be equipped with a radar system able to provide unprecedented detail over a wide area from hundreds of miles away.

“It is constant surveillance, uninterrupted,” Dahm said. “To be able to observe over a long period of time, you get a much better understanding of how an adversary operates.”

The UK authorities will use to monitor littering and whether you are home or not. The can start with Jacqui Smith.

Spy in sky, 12 miles high (coming to the UK?) | The Guardian

Diana Athill on getting it right | The Guardian

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I can remember only two remarks about it which I took to heart, and hold to. Both were made by writers whose work I admire greatly. The first was Jean Rhys, who said several times that the most important thing, to her mind, was “getting it like it really was”. The second was Vidia Naipaul, when we were talking of writing about places and people remote from the experience of your readers.

If, he said, you “really get it right”, they will understand. Those two simple remarks became my one most important rule, so that I can’t see the point of writing about anything unless you try hard to follow it; and since I have never been moved to write about anything but my own experience (a narrowness I regret but am unable to remedy), including the very personal is simply necessary.

Diana Athill on getting it right | The Guardian

America cheers as satirist, Jon Stewart, delivers knockout blow to TV finance gurus | World news | The Observer

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America cheers as satirist, Jon Stewart, delivers knockout blow to TV finance gurus | World news | The Observer

Ian Pindar reviews “Shaping the Day : A History of Timekeeping in England and Wales 1300-1800” by Paul Glennie and Nigel Thrift

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The earliest clocks were alarm clocks, designed to wake monks for nocturnal prayer. Medieval monks used water or mercury clocks at first, but many monasteries had mechanical clocks as early as the 13th century. The counting of hours in a monastery began at dawn, but although this time-discipline was all about God rather than money, it was as standardised and coordinated as in any factory.

Rural communities - so easily idealised - were just as disciplined. There were set times for harvesting, grazing, gleaning and moving livestock, as well as ancient bylaws and regulations using natural markers such as sunrise, noon, sunset and various subtle distinctions of daylight. There was also a well-established working week: 6am to 6pm, Tuesday to Saturday (Sunday and Monday were the weekend). Another Thompsonian myth busted by Glennie and Thrift is that clock time was a masculine preserve and women had little grasp of it. Women were just as clued up about time as men, generally getting up earlier and going to bed later.

Ian Pindar reviews “Shaping the Day : A History of Timekeeping in England and Wales 1300-1800” by Paul Glennie and Nigel Thrift

ComicConnect :: First Superman comic sells for $317,200

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ComicConnect :: First Superman comic sells for $317,200

Times Online: The 10 greatest conmen of all time

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Times Online: The 10 greatest conmen of all time

Top 10 Famous Con Men – The List Universe

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Top 10 Famous Con Men - The List Universe

Inside the sex club for girls – Times Online

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This is straight from Ballard. The short version: girl find the City to sexist, so she launches an upmarket sex-club. Go figure.

She describes how she was there until four o’clock in the morning, engrossed in the wildly decadent vibe: the first-timers — quietly apprehensive — stealthily fumbling in the corners with their partners; the seductive anticipation; the beautiful people in costumes; cat ears; über-expensive lingerie; hushed chatter; Louboutins; black silk bows; long sparkly limbs; silky bodies; furtive glances and a haze of cigarette smoke. And upstairs a mass of nakedness, where 30 partially clothed bodies squirmed on black leather beds pushed into an enormous square in the centre of the room, with about the same number standing watching and chatting at the sides. She tells me how, as the party went on, and the massive bed cleared and exhausted couples sloped off home, members filtered through the house into smaller, hidden rooms. She peeked into a dark, cupboard-sized alcove and made out the figures of three Middle Eastern businessmen hunched in a group, sky-high on coke. “You can only see into the next room if you do a line,” one of them said, chopping at the white powder in front of him and offering her a note. As she moved into the space, he lunged towards her — placing his hands on her breasts.

Inside the sex club for girls - Times Online

Free and legal (cc licenced) music downloads – Jamendo

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Free and legal (cc licenced)music downloads - Jamendo