Down the Docks

February 26, 2008

Wrote To Them

Filed under: Current Affairs — ealing @ 7:55 am

After years of saying how great it and its predecessor are, I finally used WriteToThem yesterday for the first time. I wrote to my local MP, Simon Hughes, asking him to vote against the ridiculous Sound Recordings (Copyright Term Extension) Bill. Wish I’d done it ages ago. Now I might tackle him on his silly support for homeopathic hospitals.

Meme parent: BoingBoing, as usual.

February 24, 2008

Territory

Filed under: Current Affairs, Politics — ealing @ 2:34 am

In the BBC’s report on Serbian protests over Kosovan independence, a girl by the name of Bojana Vuckovic is quoted as saying, “We don’t want to let it go because it’s ours, even if the majority of people there aren’t Serbian.” The ‘we’ of her statement is presumably Serbians. The majority of the people on the march would presumably agree to that statment or something similar.

What’s interesting is what ‘ours’ means in that sentence. I am no expert, but I guess that large parts of Kosovo are privately owned, and that neither the old Serbian nor the new Kosovan government would claim ownership of them. However, those governments would claim that their laws extend over that land. The ownership that Bojana is talking about is being in charge of, rather than having exclusive rights to.

So what I’m left thinking is that Bojana believes that, no matter who buys the land of Kosovo, Serbia must remain in charge. Even when Kosovo is 90% or more ethnic Albanian, Serbia must be in charge. I doubt that it’s cost-effective for Serbia to rule a land that doesn’t want to be ruled. So in the absence of an economic motive, why do some Serbs want so badly to be in charge of Kosovo?

January 27, 2008

Life Quickly Imitates Art, Even Sci-Fi

Filed under: Books, Current Affairs, Technology — ealing @ 1:12 pm

Charles Stross is now one of my two favourite currently publishing SF authors (the other is Iain M. Banks). I got a copy of his latest, Halting State, from Amazon a couple of days ago. I haven’t finished it yet, but so far it’s about economic sabotage in an MMORPG, set in 2016.

Like another modern Aristotle of SF, Neal Stephenson, Charles Stross seems to understand everything, including economics. More importantly, he understands why it’s important (something I only started to grasp a couple of years ago) and can explain it without killing the story. So Halting State spends some of its time discussing money supply and inflation within virtual worlds. So far ahead of the curve, so Charles Stross, I think.

Last night I picked up this week’s Economist, to find mention in the business headlines of Second Life‘s financial crisis. Halting State‘s characters refer to Second Life as a metaverse, not a MMORPG, but I still find this amazing. Theoretical GDPs and game-currency-to-hard-currency exchange rates have been published for a while now, but maybe the crossover from amusing sideline to area of serious interest is closer than even Charles Stross thinks.

June 5, 2007

The Staggeringly Obvious, pt. 312

Filed under: Current Affairs — ealing @ 12:36 pm

LA police admit riot ‘mistakes’. Check the last two paragraphs:

Meanwhile, the union which represents the LAPD’s more than 9,000 officers has called for members of the unit involved in the melee and their commanding officers to attend training in crowd control.

Such training had been abandoned in an attempt to save money.

Apparently, in stressful situations, most people can’t do what they haven’t been trained to do.

May 18, 2007

One Laptop Per Child

Filed under: Current Affairs, Technology — ealing @ 3:15 pm

I love the whole project, and I really want one of these. Hopefully they’ll do something other than green, though

January 1, 2007

Laughing at Yourself

Filed under: Current Affairs — ealing @ 9:00 pm

Over dinner a few days ago, I expressed a sneaky admiration for the French. They simply don’t care what people think of them, and will test nukes, burn sheep, block roads, sink ships belonging to charities, make their own search engines, &c. &c. A lot of this is very objectionable, but there’s something likable about France’s persistent, hotheaded refusal to see what the rest of the world sees.

BBC News has an item on a demonstration on New Year’s Eve in Paris, parodying this same refusenik tendancy.

September 9, 2006

Bad Science, Bad Education

Filed under: Current Affairs — ealing @ 8:34 pm

The badscience blog brings up an impressively misconceived “study” to take place in County Durham.

(more…)

August 28, 2006

Perhaps my Career is Safe After All

Filed under: Current Affairs, Technology, Work — ealing @ 1:05 am

A little while ago Vinnie Mirchandani suggested that Indian outsourcing growth in the US would likely stall. I think he might be close to the mark in Britain too.

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May 15, 2006

Jail this Thug

Filed under: Current Affairs — ealing @ 8:14 pm

Vandal assaults police officer and two members of the public, given community service order.

I wonder what the Daily Mail would make of it.

April 19, 2006

Nuclear Power

Filed under: Current Affairs, Environment — ealing @ 7:31 am

My previous post on power got a reaction about my inclusion of nuclear so far up the list. I'm not the only one who thinks nuclear isn't such a bad idea, but nuclear power is in the headlines for another reason right now: it's the twentieth anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.

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