It may look like vandalism, but how else are you going to chase away the demons of the old year?
Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
False positive is an amazing comic. It’s fantastically drawn and terrifyingly hilarious.
Sometimes you wonder – where did all the monsters go? Did we kill all them all? What happened to them? But here they are. They are here.
11 Jan 2011: The Telegraph quotes Bob Diamond, chief executive of Barclays: “There was a period of remorse and apology for banks. I think that period needs to be over”
28 Feb 2012: Jamie Dimon, CEO at JP Morgan, is quoted by the WSJ as saying “We need top talent, you cannot run this business on second-rate talent”
15 May 2012: Washington Post reports that the US Department of Justice is preparing a criminal investigation into JP Morgan’s $2 billion loss. Dimon: “There were many errors, sloppiness and bad judgment”.
27 Jun 2012: US Justice Department releases statement: Barclays admits to misconduct, agrees to pay $160 million penalty.
3 Jul 2012: Barclay’s chief Bob Diamond steps down. Diamond: “I know that each and every one of the people at Barclays works hard every day to serve our customers and clients. That is how we support economic growth and the communities in which we live and work.”
The Independent reports that mr Diamond’s severance package is still under discussion.
Tineke Netelenbos, former minister of Verkeer en Waterstaat and currently presiding over the Royal Federation of Shipping Companies appeared in the news today to sound the alarm about piracy – not digital piracy (does anyone still care about that?), but the swinging, swashbuckling kind (see above). According to Netelenbos, the continued threat of piracy and the Dutch laws that prohibit the protection of ships by private armed guards are causing an increasing number of shipping companies to “reflag” their ships – basically, circumventing Dutch law by registering their ships under a jurisdiction that will allow the use of private armed forces. This means lost revenues for the Dutch state and diminished standing for the traditionally strong Dutch merchant fleet.
A lot has been said on the topic of present-day piracy and there’s little point in rehashing that here. That private enterprise complains when the state does not do enough – and also when the state does too much, as the case may be – is not new and it must be recognized that their concerns are not groundless. A recent report from Oceans beyond piracy puts the number of hijack attempts in 2011 at nearly 200 (then again, the report also inaccurately claims that the Dutch allow private armed guards on their vessels). But neither does it take a legal scholar to recognize that there is something deeply problematic about having the state surrender its monopoly on force to accommodate private or even semi-public, mercantilist interests. Volker Eick has analyzed the policy debate in Germany and concludes that Germany’s decision to allow private armed guards on board commercial shipping vessels in effect subverts democratic oversight and constitutional safeguards. Rule of law, but only if it doesn’t get in the way of what is truly important…
It’s a cynical position, perhaps, but it’s hard to avoid the feeling that we seem to be moving from the nightwatcher state to the welfare state to the “random state”, which has abandoned all pretense at principle in favor of “expediency”. What results is a global competition who can be the most “expedient”. Need Rambo on your ship? Come to us! Need nimble children’s fingers to assemble your stuff? Come to us! Need to get rid of your nuclear waste? Come to us! This competition, we are assured, in the end results in the most optimal distribution of goods and services and prosperity for all.
Instead, we get piracy and privateers. Arr.
Statistician Simon Raper used Wikipedia and the open source graph visualization software Gephi to create a map of the history of philosophy. For me the most underwhelming aspect of this – and there is something tiresome about enumerating the ways in which things suck – is how it sets up an expectation of awe and wonder – something about the thrill of big data and cybersomething and rhizomatic whatever – when there is nothing to wonder about. It’s just a graph created by a standardized tool which belches out graphs in a way that has inspired awe and wonder in the past. That’s not to say that the map is meaningless or uninteresting, but what is incongruous is that while the map derives its appeal from the subject matter, the subject matter in this case seems wholly subordinate to the process imposed on it.
On July 5 the Shard will be inaugurated in London. What an immense, intransigent building. When I first saw the Shard it was perhaps a year ago, I think the structure was mostly finished but the top floors were still naked. I had come off a late-night easyjet flight to Stansted, or Gatwick – it’s all the same, a dance of machines you participate in, and I guess that’s the point. At London Bridge station a friend picked me up and we chatted a bit, walking across the bridge towards Shoreditch. I was still a bit dazed from the airport handling, or perhaps I was already a bit sick. Everything had the color of nicotine fingers and the few stragglers and the odd cab or Vauxhall speeding by just made the place seem more desolate. When we crossed the bridge I turned and saw it, if not beautiful, then spectacularly fitting, a jagged mess of metal rising up into the sky like a wrecked spaceship, just a stone’s throw from the London Tower and the Tower Bridge, with HMS Belfast in between, all these symbols of power, riddling sphinxes glowering in the dark.