Monday, January 31, 2011
So here's my prediction - this is the end game for Mubarak. The army has announced that they're not willing to shoot at protesters. My guess is that Mubarak will be out within the week, probably within the next 48 hours. My estimate of the probability for this is between 0.7 and 0.8. I'm well aware that this is perhaps already late in the game and the prediction might be at the point of not being controversial, but it's my two cents anyway.
Revolutions happen in very quick succession, and the break point is always the same. 100,000 people turn up on the streets. President gives order for army to shoot. At that point, the only question is how much internal discipline the president and top commanders loyal to him have over rank and file troops.
If the army actually shoots, game over for the protesters. See Rangoon, Tienanmen Square. Unarmed protesters against live ammunition is an outcome that's not seriously in doubt. And not many people keep turning up to the streets to get mowed down by machine gun fire - the instinct for self-preservation kicks in, and the dictator stays.
If the army doesn't shoot, that's the end for the president. See the Philippines, Czechoslovakia. When people begin to suspect that the president doesn't have the power to stop them, they start descending on wherever the president is, and he goes from radio announcements that all is well to hopping on a plane for Switzerland. .
We'll see soon how well calibrated I am.
Update: In case I end up being right and it looks like this was a gimme prediction, here's the top suggested Google news article for 'Mubarak', from 40 minutes ago:"Analyst: No Sign Egyptian President Mubarak Will Step Down". So just remember, this was posted when the outcome was at least partly unclear. If I'm wrong, well so much better for the 'Analyst'!
Saturday, January 29, 2011
One of the cases where this was done was in Australia with drink driving. Traditionally, drink driving was viewed as a bit of a laugh - a kind of blokey, she'll-be-right type affair where everything was kind of funny as long as you made it home okay and avoided the cops.
Some time during the 80s, the government began a concerted public relations campaign to de-legitimise it, much the same way that smoking used to be publicly acceptable everywhere and is now largely shunned. They ran a series of quite effective campaigns with the slogan 'If you drink and drive, you're a bloody idiot'.
The idea was to get people to view drink-driving for what it is - an activity where in expectation you kill people because you were too cheap to pay for a taxi.
Which, when viewed in that light, is disgusting. Saying that you didn't kill anyone this time is like saying that playing an involuntary game of Russian Roulette with the general public is okay, as long as it landed on an empty chamber. If you actually kill someone while drunk, I'd charge you with murder.If you crash or get picked up, I'd send you to the slammer for at least some period of time, no matter the excuse.
As you can perhaps tell from my attitude, the campaign was largely effective. Australians generally now view drink driving as not something funny, but something that makes you a scumbag.
Which is why it's strange to see people who clearly don't think that way. Witness Ludacris, in his song 'Move, Bitch':
"I'm D.U.I., hardly ever caught sober,
And you're about to get ran the fuck over."
It's bizarre to me that he would think this makes him sound cool. I take it as given that rappers are generally a) dumber than a bag of hammers, and b) about as good role models as the hobo down the street. But I do expect them to have a sense of what makes them sound cool - after all, appearing cool is their main job description. Since Ludacris is fairly successful, I'm guessing he probably has his finger on the pulse of public opinion better than me. If so, so much the worse for public opinion.
I guess you've got to do something to make yourself sound like a big man, especially when you're only 5'7". Little Man Syndrome claims another victim.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
It takes even bigger brass balls to be so good at it that you manage to receive both the MBE and Iron Cross.
For services to the Allies in fighting the Nazi menace and generally having enormous cojones, Juan Pujol Garcia is posthumously awarded honorary membership of the Shylock Holmes order of "Guys who kick ass".
Check out how eloquent, well-reasoned and thoroughly grounded in economics their arguments against slavery-based sanctions are:
We firmly believe that free labour, properly exercised, is cheaper than slave labour; but there is no pretence to say that it is so at this moment in our West India colonies; and we undertake to show, in an early number, in connexion with this fact, that the existence of the high protecting duties on our West India produce has done more than anything else to endanger the whole experiment of emancipation.
But, moreover, our West India monopoly,—the existence of the high prohibitory differential duty on sugar, is the greatest, strongest, and least answerable argument at present used by slave-holding countries against emancipation. The following was put strongly to ourselves in Amsterdam a short time since by a large slave owner in Dutch Guiana:—"We should be glad," said he, "to follow your example, and emancipate our slaves, if it were possible; but as long as your differential duties on sugar are maintained, it will be impossible
But now were it otherwise:—have the professors of these opinions ever considered the huge responsibility which they arrogate to themselves by such a course? Let these men remember that, by seeking to coerce the slave-labour producer in distant countries, they inflict a severe punishment on the millions of hard-working, ill-fedconsumers among their fellow countrymen; but they seem always to overlook the fact, that there is a consumer to consider as well as a producer;—and that this consumer is their own countryman, their own neighbour, whose condition it is their first duty to consult and watch;
Note the lack of polemical assertions on economic matters far in excess of what economics can actually establish ("Stock markets are clearly overvalued, and the Fed should raise interest rates to fix this").
Examine how they deal with the anti-slavery trade restrictionists who share many of their aims, but who they feel are incorrect on some matters:
We must, however, in doing so, make a great distinction between the two classes of persons who are now found to be joined in an alliance against this application of free-trade principles; two classes who have always hitherto been so much opposed to each other, that it would have been very difficult ten years since to have conceived any possible combinations of circumstances that could have brought them to act in concert: we mean the West India interest, who so violently opposed every step of amelioration to the slave from first to last; and that body of truly great philanthropists who have been unceasing in their efforts to abolish slavery wherever and in whatever form it was to be found. To the latter alone we shall address our remarks.
We trust we shall be among the last who will ever be found advocating the continuance of slavery, or opposing any legitimate means for its extinction; but we feel well assured that those who have adopted the opinion quoted above, have little considered either the consequences or the tendencies of the policy they support.
Compare this with the sneering condescension of the modern magazine towards the Tea Party, who ostensibly share many of the aims of the magazine:
For all the talk about practical electioneering, some of [the Tea Partiers] teetered on the edge of the extreme and wacky. Mr Tancredo denounced the “cult of multiculturalism” ... Andrew Breitbart, the founder of a news site (Breitbart.com), railed in a speech against the hostile “mainstream media” in hock to the far left.Wacky! Extreme!
I'd definitely renew my subscription to the 1843 Economist.
(via Marginal Revolution)
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
-Staff of Lefty New York magazine 'Harpers' join a union, magazine owner suddenly discovers the virtues of non-unionised labour (via Ace of Spades)
-Rahm Emmanuel booted off ballot in election for Chicago Mayor, based on minor technicality that he doesn't actually live in Chicago as the law requires. Court reverses decision of earlier officials, including super transparent and disinterested "hearing officer, and the full Chicago Board of Elections". (Sadly, the Illinois Supreme Court has stayed the ruling until it considers it)
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
The first hint that this information is useless is that every company seems to mention it. Now, they can't all be cheaper than each other, although that's certainly the impression that their ads convey. At a minimum, you might think there's some subset of non-advertising ripoff insurance companies that have only imbeciles as customers, and this is the segment that's being targeted in the ads.
The reality is different. It's obvious that customers who actually switch will save money, because nobody switches to a more expensive insurance company. The relevant statistic is what percentage of customers who actually get a quote from you end up choosing your insurance. Because that tells you whether it's worth spending the 15 minutes typing in information to find out if they're actually cheaper. Of course, they never tell you that, because the number is probably pretty low, and probably wouldn't actually motivate you to visit their website. It's much better to just tout the savings of the guys who switch, hoping that idiots won't realise that it's useless information.
Let's assume that all insurance companies are ex-ante identical, and that when a customer comes along, they form an estimate of the premium required for that customer that is drawn from the customer-specific random variable.- e.g., each insurance company quote for you is drawn from N(Shylock mean, Shylock Std Dev). A customer gets their first quote, then goes to the second company for a second draw from the distribution and chooses company #2 if it's cheaper. They repeat this process until they estimate that the time cost of drawing another quote is greater than the expected saving.
Now, in this model all insurance companies are equally good ex-ante. But there'll be some people who start with company A (who had an abnormally high quote), then get a quote from company B that's lower and switch. This will be offset on average by the same number of people whose first quote from B was at the high end, then got a draw from company A that was cheap and switched.
In other words, every company will be able to tout the same pointless statistic about how much their customers saved, even though it actually tells you nothing about the average cost of insurance from that company.
All it tells you is that insurance companies have different premiums for the same customer. Which, when you think about it, is a very interesting point. But somehow I don't think they're spending all this advertising money to raise interesting questions about microeconomics.
Update: The Greek notifies me that he in fact was able to write down a proper version of the model sketched above which generate the conclusions listed. Now that's intuition you can take to the bank!
Monday, January 24, 2011
One thing I find surprising in modern America is the number of women with high-pitched voices. Now, I may be imagining this, but to my ear the average Australian girl speaks at something closer to the alto rather than soprano end of the scale like here. And this puzzles me, because we're talking about white people drawn from fairly similar Anglo-Saxon and European genetic stock. I don't know of any obvious 'high-pitched' races, and certainly not any that also would explain (by virtue of differing demographic representations) the average female pitch in the two countries.
But here's where it gets weird - we normally think that voice pitch as something you're born with. It wouldn't be high on my list of culturally determined things, and certainly not something that people deliberately change.
And yet that's where the data seems to point me. Either consciously or unconsciously, some fraction of women are deliberately speaking in higher pitched voices. My guess is that part of the appeal is that of appearing more girly and youthful. Women's voices drop too when they hit puberty, but not by nearly as much as men. By talking like an 8 year old, it has the same appeal as getting a Brazilian wax, but visible for the whole world.
Consistent with this, having a high-pitched voice is a fairly strong negative signal on my 3 second judgments of personality. This is not because I find the actual voice intolerable, or because it's a massive moral or character failing. But it's about correlations - a desire to make yourself look artificially girly and innocent is likely to be correlated with you being superficial and annoying (conditional on the voice being artificially high, and not just naturally high).
The signals to respond to the most are those that are the most informative about personality in general, not necessarily those that are the biggest problems in themselves. Can you think of any other signal of superficiality that you can identify within half a second of a person talking, regardless of what they're talking about?
Sunday, January 23, 2011
Friday, January 21, 2011
Totally, totally cash.
It produces awful cars at first, but as each generation passes it gets better and better.
Evolution - it can produce a car right before your eyes, and yet people still believe in creationism. It's a crazy world alright.
Even ignoring the science, it's hard not to think that creationists are really missing out - the website 'And then God created a car by magic!' wouldn't be nearly as entertaining to watch.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
"Child Abduction Alert!
1999 Grey Chevy Tahoe
Now, the natural response of most people is 'Child Abduction? How terrifying! Imagine if my kid got abducted by some stranger when we were at the park'.
Perhaps I'm a cynic, but my natural response is a little different. The first question that springs to my mind is this - if your kid were at the park and got abducted by some stranger pedophile, what are the chances that you'd actually know the number plate of the car that took them?
The answer, at least in my mind, is 'the chances are vanishingly small'. I'd expect abductions to happen precisely when the parents weren't around to see the number plate of the car. And if that's the case, wouldn't the immediate report be 'missing child', not 'child abduction'? How do you know they were actually abducted?
Given all this, it seems overwhelmingly likely that the parents in question must have known who it was that abducted their child. That's how they can give a name to the cops, and look up the person's car details with the DMV.
So who are the parents whose kids are being abducted by people they know? To ask this question is to know the answer. Dollars to donuts, the kids were abducted from their mother's custody by their father, who's now refusing to give them back, and whose whereabouts are now unknown.
Now for sure, this is something the law should get involved in. There's a chance that the dad has gone troppo, and the kids are at risk of some kind of murder suicide. But it's also possible (and to my uneducated guess, much more likely) that the dad is not planning to harm the kids, but is just not planning on giving them back to the mum. And give the way that divorce courts tend to screw over fathers, it is perhaps not surprising that some desperate fathers resort to these kinds of measures. That doesn't make it right, but it does make their motivations here a little more understandable.
Now think back to the red alert sign on the freeway. If it read 'Mother's sole custody of children violated! Family court decision over allocation of visitation rights under threat!' you might feel a little differently.
More infrequently, you get child abduction alerts that don't feature a number plate, just a vague description of the car. That's when I cross my fingers and hope for the safety of the child, because they really have been abducted.
Instead, it's common to cling to the feeblest pretenses that this won't in fact be the last meeting. The modern age has made this easier, particularly things like email and facebook. We'll stay in touch! I'll come and visit you when I'm passing through Japan. Never mind that you don't have any plans to visit Japan, and that once you do, it will probably be in 8 years time. At which point, of course, it would probably feel awkward and forced to call up that person and stay at their house. What would you even say to each other?
The reality is, the world is a huge place, and this is almost certainly the last time you will actually see each other. But nobody wants to admit that.
Part of the problem, I think, is that in English we don't have common expressions for this situation, so people don't know what to say. In their mind they're thinking 'Well, I hope your travels go well, and...'. But how do you finish that sentence? 'Have a nice life' sounds far too flippant. 'Goodbye' and 'It was nice to meet you' aren't definite enough, and lack the gravitas. 'It was nice to have known you' is better, but still not great. So they fill in the gap with 'what's your email address?', even though that's not really what they want to say.
I always liked the French 'adieu'. The literal translation of it is 'Until God' - meaning, I shall see you again in heaven. This is perhaps the nicest spin you can put on a final meeting. It offers the right measure of serious contemplation of the inevitableness of sad departures, but with the bittersweet possibility of that glorious day in the afterlife when we will all be together once more.
The problem with 'adieu', however, is that precisely because of its gravitas, it gets used very sparingly. Part of this is also that it would be awkward and anticlimactic to say goodbye forever and then see the person again. Interestingly enough, the Spanish 'adios' (which has the same meaning) is used much more liberally, which makes it accessible, but undermines the seriousness.
When I spent some time travelling on my own and meeting people, I decided that I didn't want to run with the 'let's chat on facebook!' goodbye, and tried to come up with a more satisfactory farewell.The formulation I settled on is the following:
"Well, I don't know when or if I shall see you again, but it was a true pleasure nonetheless."
which is the best I've been able to come up with.
In Imperial China, it was much harder to pretend that you actually were going to bump into each other in a few months, and so serious men had to give the matter much more thought. So rather than closing with my relatively poor words, I instead leave you the much wiser and better thoughts of the Tang dynasty poet, Du Fu.
To Wei Ba, who has Lived Away from the Court
Like stars that rise when the other has set,
For years we two friends have not met.
How rare it is then that tonight
We once more share the same lamplight.
Our youth has quickly slipped away
And both of us are turning grey.
Old friends have died, and with a start
We hear the sad news, sick at heart.
How could I, twenty years before,
Know that I'd be here at your door?
When last I left, so long ago,
You were unmarried. In a row
Suddenly now your children stand,
Welcome their father's friend, demand
To know his home, his town, his kin -
Till they're chased out to fetch wine in.
Spring chives are cut in the night rain
And steamed rice mixed with yellow grain.
To mark the occasion, we should drink
Ten cups of wine straight off, you think -
But even ten can't make me high,
So moved by your old love am I.
The mountains will divide our lives,
Each to his world, when day arrives.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
DA: Pa. abortion doc killed 7 babies with scissorsUh, isn't that what he's paid to do?
A doctor who provided abortions for minorities, immigrants and poor women in a "house of horrors" clinic has been charged with eight counts of murder in the deaths of a patient and seven babies who were born alive and then killed with scissors, prosecutors said Wednesday.Oh, the babies were outside the womb at the time. Send in the prosecutors!
Peter Singer just called to say 'So if the scissors go in before the delivery that's a woman's choice, but if the delivery goes before the scissors, that's 20 to life? Is that really the most important distinction to draw here?'
Everyone else replied 'LA LA LA we can't hear you!'
Woe be to the man who inadvertently exposes the hypocrisy that's inevitable when society makes difficult compromises.
JAPANESE researchers will launch a project this year to resurrect the long-extinct mammoth by using cloning technology to bring the ancient pachyderm back to life in about five years time, a report yesterday states.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
A classic rant about magic wristbands (via TJIC )
When you see my face,hope it gives you hell,hope it gives you hell.When you walk my way,hope it gives you hell,hope it gives you hell.
Truth be told, I miss you.And truth be told, I'm lying.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Sunday, January 16, 2011
Perhaps because I've studied too much statistics, I don't quite think this way. The mark of a good algorithm is that it reaches the best possible conclusion with the smallest possible amount of data. For certain you don't want to form conclusions that aren't justified by the evidence available. But if the person is actually a dickhead (or if they're a nice guy), then you want to reach that conclusion in the shortest available period of time.
For better or worse, I form aggressively fast estimates of other people's personalities. I would say that the impression I form within the first 15 seconds ends up being internally correct about 85% of the time after more data is added. By that, I don't mean to say that if I think a person is a tool within 5 seconds, then they're actually a tool by some cosmically objective measure (thought they might well be). I just mean that if I hang out with them for another week, 85% of the time I'll still think they're a tool at the end. This may still be judging too quickly (with the initial judgment colouring my subsequent perceptions). But on the other hand, there are a non-trivial number of reversals - cases where I write someone off and then subsequently change my mind. So it's not a final decision.
The fact is, you already know a huge amount about a person within a few seconds if you pay attention. Suppose I'm sitting in a cafe and I see a girl across the cafe talking to loudly to her friend about a guy she knows. What will I be thinking?
Firstly, she's complaining about a guy. This is a weakly bad sign for several reasons. One, if the first randomly chosen words coming out of her mouth are a complaint, it raises my estimate she's likely to be a princess and/or high maintenance. At a minimum, it suggests someone slightly pessimistic about life, and disinclined towards seeing the happy side of things.
Second, the impression of princess behaviour is reinforced by the fact that I can hear her conversation two tables away. This implies a subtle lack of consideration for the other cafe patrons. It also implies a lack of shame about airing one's relationship dirty laundry to her friend (which is understandable) and other nearby strangers (which seems a little more self-involved).
But it's not all bad traits. The girl seems fairly well put together - she's fairly pretty and dresses nicely in a conventional fashion. Takes care in her appearance, hair nicely done. Early 20's. White. We're sitting in a trendy suburb, which suggests a middle class upbringing. Probably graduated college a couple of years ago and working some regular white collar job. Slim - probably goes to the gym a couple of times a week. The fact that she's sitting in a cafe with her friend indicates a general level of sociability, as well as hinting at acceptable SWPL tastes.
If I've gotten the above correct, I start thinking about more speculative propositions (i.e. still true on average, but more likely to be wrong). I'd wager that her parents are probably still married and she came from a fairly stable home. The indications of princess behaviour raise my estimate that she was doted on too much by parents - only child perhaps. Not unlikely that she has either a cat or a small dog.
Back to the conversation she's still going on about the guy. It sounds like he's some guy she's dating, and he's blown her off from some date. Suggests a susceptibility to dating assholes, which is not uncommon for princesses. She won't break up with him though - her complaints hide a sense that she likes his aloofness. Doesn't seem self-aware enough to realise this.
Overall, if I were single I'd be mentally estimating that she seems like more trouble that she's worth as a dating prospect in any medium term sense. I'm not writing her off completely - I'd want to talk to her a bit more and find out if she's just having a bad day and is actually quite sweet. You'd probably have a better estimate after a first date. But as a betting man, that's not how I'd wager. I don't like princesses, or complainers.
The point of this story, dear reader, is that I'm thinking all of these thoughts within the first couple of seconds of overhearing her conversation. Sometimes (such as hearing the above complaint about a boyfriend), it's within the first half a second.
The reality is that behaviours are highly correlated. You might feel that you're completely inscrutable and that I don't know you personally. But if I'm paying attention, I don't need to - I can take what I observe, and add in the information from years of observing about how personality traits tend to go together. It's the same way that you only need to enter 5 movie choices before Netflix can suggest movies to you - it knows the correlations of your choices, and that's enough.
Given enough data about the world, nobody is a mystery. It's all just correlations.
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Friday, January 14, 2011
Yesterday I received my Green Card, that famous piece of plastic for which so many billions of the world's poor yearn. Since I've already been working on these fair shores for a while now, I'm anticipating the enjoyment of some smaller benefits, namely:
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
In many studies in asset pricing, it is common practice to not include stocks with prices less than $5 - they're too small and unreliable in terms of what information is included in the price. And for good reason too, as told in the story of the 50 cent stock.
In another version of the famous story of Entremed story, Curtis '50 Cent' Jackson buys $750,000 in shares in a crappy stock, H & H Imports (HNHI in the over-the-counter markets). How crappy? Let MSN tell the story:
H&H is an extremely sketchy investment and even got the dreaded "going concern" notice last March as its auditor shared doubts about the company's future. The company reported less than $300,000 in revenue last quarter but lost $1.3 million, the Post reports.So it might not exist as a company next year. What's the big deal?
There are some funny loans at the company as well, the Observer notes. H&H lent $141,000 to what it describes as "an entity in which our chairman's brother is an officer and owner."Now that's governance you can take to the bank! As long as it's a bank owned by your cousin's husband.
Okay, so you've lost a ton of money in a stock because you're a dumbass. How can you double down on stupid? Simple - start giving out dubious financial advice to people to buy the stock! Everyone knows the SEC has a great sense of humour about that kind of thing.
So in a move straight out of the Rene Rivkin playbook, 50 cent decides to start spruiking the stock to his twitter followers.
"You can double your money right now,"
"Just get what you can afford."
"They are no joke get in now."Because people who invest in OTC markets are largely imbeciles, the share price rose 240% by the close of the next day's trading. Originally this was reported as a stroke of financial genius - 50 Cent had just increased the value of his holding by $8.7M!
Eventually, 50 cent (or more likely his lawyer) figured out that randomly posting tweets about stocks he owns and recommending their purchase (especially without disclosing his clear conflict of interest) was probably in breach of several securities laws, not to mention exposing him to a range of civil suits from morons that actually followed his advice. Some of the tweets were deleted, and he posted a series of hilarious follow-ups:
"I own HNHI stock thoughts on it are my opinion. Talk to financial advisor about it."
"HNHI is the right investment for me it may or may not be right for u! Do ur homework."Apparently the financial genius is having second thoughts about the whole thing.
Shylock's prediction - given how ferociously the SEC pursued Martha Stewart for making about a buck eighty five on a dubious insider trading charge, I'll be surprised if we've heard the last of this incident.
Red hot tip kids - buy index funds, not shitty OTC stocks. If you're tempted to make an active trade based on something 50 cent says, it ought to be to short any publicly listed stock that he's pushing. And if you have a brain meltdown and decide to follow the financial advice of people whose business experience consists of making rap albums, save yourself the bother and just set fire to the money now.
On the other hand, there is a certain rawness to the Fijian culture. I don't know exactly what word I'm after here - something like 'primitive', but without the condescending connotations that has. 'Primeval' perhaps, but that's not quite right either. I was on a whitewater rafting trip inland, and there was a village there. We were going down the river, and heard a commotion ahead including some loud animal noises. As we got closer, I realised that the noise was coming from a group of small children, perhaps around age 5 or 6, holding large sticks and laughing while attempting to beat a stray dog to death. I yelled out at them angrily as we approached, and they stopped, unsure of how to respond to the adult authority figure yelling in a foreign language. This gave the wounded dog enough time to jump in the river and escape. 1km downstream, we came across other children from the same village, happily swimming up to our rafts and playing around with us when we got out of the water. The juxtaposition was quite jarring. Particularly so since I'm sure that if we'd come across the children in the former group on a different day, they would have been just as adorable, out in the water greeting us too.
Wikipedia tells me that warlord who united Fiji, Seru Epenisa Cakobau, renounced cannibalism in 1854 on his conversion to Christianity.
Monday, January 10, 2011
No, porn involves more basic elements. It's ultimately a voyeuristic enjoyment of watching someone else carrying out a desirable activity that one fantasizes about. This then serves as a substitute for the (unavailable) option of doing it for one's self.
Seen from this perspective, plenty of porn doesn't involve sex at all. The most common one to me is cooking shows.
Cooking a great meal and enjoying both the tasty food and the satisfaction that you made it yourself is something deeply appealing to many people. It's also hard and time consuming. But it's easy to watch someone else do it and fantasise that you might do it yourself tomorrow.
The fiction of cooking shows is that they're teaching you how to cook. This is of course transparently false. How many people who watch cooking shows ever try out the recipes they see demonstrated? Even when they do, what's the relative proportion of time spent watching cooking versus doing cooking?
In food, as in sex, porn is usually a substitute for the real thing, not a complement. The people I know who are good cooks spend a lot of time cooking and trying out recipes, and basically no time watching cooking shows. The people who watch a lot of cooking shows seem to cook very little (The Hammer is one who comes to mind!).Of course, people need the fig leaf that it's about cooking skill - saying out loud 'I like watching other people make and eat food' seems absurd. 'I like learning how to cook' is however entirely respectable.
The principle goes much further. Many years ago, ADQL insightfully described the original Kill Bill as being 'blood porn', which got me thinking along these lines. (UFC and professional boxing are the same). It's all voyeurism and vicarious enjoyment - the only difference is the choice of sense pleasure.
Saturday, January 8, 2011
Nah man, it'll really kick-start your career again!
It's the surest possible sign that your career peaked a couple of years ago, and the best you can hope for from here on out is playing 6 nights a week at an off-strip hotel in Vegas and drinking yourself to an early grave, with a possible appearance on 'Where Are They Now?'.
Check out these depressing odds for duets he did with artists that I've at least heard of:
|Name||Known For||Duet Year||Done Anything Worthwhile Since?|
|Rob Thomas||Push, 3am (1996)||1999||Released lots of shitty songs, 'Lonely No More' peaked at 5 on US charts but was still awful|
|Everlast||What It's Like (1998)||1999||No singles made Billboard charts, career death in slow motion|
|Eric Clapton||Layla (1971), Tears in Heaven (1992), lots of other good stuff||1999||No, but he's still cool|
|Lauryn Hill||The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill (1998)||1999||Crashed and burned on second album, now hides from publicity|
|Wyclef Jean||Killing Me Softly (with the Fugees, 1996)||1999||Ran For President of Haiti and got universally mocked, filed for bankruptcy|
|Dave Matthews||Crash, 7x Platinum (1996)||1999||Yep, he's still got it. 2002's Busted Stuff was a great album|
|Michael Jackson||Billie Jean (1983), Bad (1987), Liberian Girl (1987), Black or White (1991), kicking ass||2001||Released some crap songs and then died, thereby making lots of people who'd called him a pedophile for the past decade pretend they'd liked him all along|
|Seal||Crazy (1992), Kiss From a Rose (1995)||2002||May as well not have|
|Chad Kroeger (of Nickelback)||How You Remind Me (2001)||2002||Album "All the Right Reasons" had commercial success. Got pelted with rocks during a heavy metal concert in Portugal in 2009, caused millions of LOLs as a result|
|Michelle Branch||All You Wanted (2002)||2005||Played 'All You Wanted' at concert, said 'Now here's something from my latest album..', whole crowd left (N.B. I have no specific evidence that this happened, but honestly, would you be willing to bet against me on this one?)|
|Steve Tyler (Aerosmith)||Walk This Way (1975), Don't want to miss a thing (1998)||2005||Continued to be despised by the other members of Aerosmith|
|Kirk Hammet (Metallica)||One (1989), Enter Sandman (1991), Nothing Else Matters (1992)||2005||Kept bitching that people were illegally downloaded his music, found that the strategy of suing your fans is not commercially viable|
The second worst phone call is 'We'd like you to do a duet with Tom Jones'. I leave you to compile that list yourself.
Friday, January 7, 2011
Thursday, January 6, 2011
Bwaa ha ha ha!!!
THE cleaners arrived first - to hose away the filth beneath Clovelly beach's shanty town-on-wheels.
They were quickly followed yesterday by police and council rangers determined to evict a group of illegal campers who had set up their base at Clovelly beach.
In an operation stretching from Clovelly to Malabar, the inhabitants of 45 vans and stationwagons - about 100 backpackers - awoke at 6.30am to the rapping knuckles of council rangers and police to receive their marching orders.