Twisted, backwards logic

December 24th, 2007

Will Smith's PR people are going to earn their money this week:

The Men In Black star, 39, is determined to see the best in people, and is convinced the former German leader did not fully understand the extent of the pain and suffering his actions would cause during his time in power in the 1930s and '40s.

He says, "Even Hitler didn't wake up going, 'Let me do the most evil thing I can do today'."

"I think he woke up in the morning and using a twisted, backwards logic, he set out to do what he thought was 'good'. Stuff like that just needs reprogramming."

Remember folks, this is a man who keeps saying in interviews that he wants to run for president someday.

[Via Bifurcated Rivets]


"David's example stickes somewhat with us."

December 24th, 2007

From The Economist, a history of census-taking:

People started finding the sorts of patterns in the resulting data—life expectancies, crime rates, causes of death, and the mix of religions and races—that are now part of our familiar mental furniture. In the 1800s, for instance, two French statisticians, André Michel Guerry and Adolphe Quetelet, analysed the tables of crimes against individuals and property that had recently started to be published. They were astonished by the hitherto-unsuspected regularities they found. Guerry was particularly struck by the fact that the method by which someone committed suicide could be predicted from his age. The author of an English commentary on his work described his findings thus: “The young hang themselves; arrived at a maturer age they usually blow out their brains; as they get old they recur again to the juvenile practice of suspension.”

[Via Qwghlm]

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December 24th, 2007

David Marsh, the style guide editor for the Guardian, wonders:

Is Xmas a bad thing?

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December 24th, 2007

DymaxionWorldJohn provides the most succinct account I've seen in a while of why the music industry as we know it is doomed.

[Via Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal]

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Coraline footage

December 23rd, 2007

Henry Selick's stop-motion adaptation of Neil Gaiman's Coraline is still a year away from release, but Gaiman has put up a sneak preview consisting of about 30 seconds of footage. Looks quite promising.

Checking the film's IMDB entry, I see that They Might Be Giants are doing the film's soundtrack. Sounds like a match made in heaven.

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December 23rd, 2007

Gordon McLean has posted some lovely photos of frost-laden trees.

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APOY 2007

December 22nd, 2007

Astronomy Picture of the Day's Astronomy Pictures of the Year is, as always, worth seeing.

My favourite is The Strange Trailing Side of Saturn's Iapetus. It's just a shame that the Cassini probe's camera isn't quite up to the task of picking out that black monolith.

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December 22nd, 2007

John Lanchester's article for the London Review of Books on Cityphilia is well worth a read:

There is no mystery about how we got to this point: successive governments have, in policy terms, given the City more or less everything it wants. One of the last big things any government did to piss the City off – truly piss it off – was the windfall tax on profits imposed in 1981 by Mrs Thatcher’s chancellor Geoffrey Howe. (Blair or Brown would never dream of doing anything like that to the City.) But the abolition of exchange controls in 1979 and the increasingly international flow of capital, combined with the abolition of restrictions on trading practices which culminated in the ‘Big Bang’ in 1986, have all led to the City’s increasing dominance of British economic life. This, in turn, makes it all the more striking how little knowledge most people have of what goes on in the City: what it is for, what it does, and how it affects everyday life for everybody else.


Kynaston, discussing ‘City cultural supremacy’, says that ‘in all sorts of ways (short-term performance, shareholder value, league tables) and in all sorts of areas (education, the NHS and the BBC, to name but three), bottom-line City imperatives had been transplanted wholesale into British society.’

This uncritical and uninformed governmental Cityphilia received its biggest shock in decades this autumn, with the near collapse of Britain’s fifth largest mortgage lender, Northern Rock. Britain’s first genuine bank run in more than a hundred years shone a light in many places where the sun doesn’t routinely shine, and one of the first things to be brought into question was the ways banks work. As I’ve already said, my father was a banker, and I grew up hearing about that mythical beast, the bank run. It was often spoken of but rarely seen in the wild. Bankers are said to dread a bank run, but my dad talked about them with a certain black humour. They were always a sign that somebody had fucked up, big-time. They can also be a sign that something in the financial system is fundamentally wrong. The question hanging around in the residue of the Rock’s near implosion is which type of bank run this was – a fuck-up, or a harbinger of meltdown?

[Via Memex 1.1]

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December 22nd, 2007

Wrong. So very wrong.

[Also, I dread to think where the shavings come out.]

[Via Bifurcated Rivets]

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Nine Inch Noëls

December 18th, 2007

Possibly the least seasonal music imaginable: the Nine Inch Noëls.

[Via GromBlog]

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