Archive for October, 2008



Good grief

Uh..

via BoRev.

Horn Section

What was it like to work with Stevie Wonder?

” (Laughs) I never can get used to him being my friend. He calls me and says, ‘This is Stevie.’ I always say ‘Stevie Wonder?’, and he’ll just say, ‘Stevie.’ Remember when I said, ‘please welcome Stevie Wonder’ on that song (“Never Give You Up”)? He wasn’t on the record when I said that, I called him afterwards and told him, “I need you on this record real bad.”  We’ve done a couple of things together; we did the Luther Vandross tribute, where he sang and I produced that, so we have a history. We’re also both Tauruses, and our birthdays are one day apart, so we call each other ‘Taurean Brothers.’ My old friends back home in Oakland probably fell on the floor when they heard it, because they know how we all used to just sit there and go ‘wow, Stevie Wonder….’ He did the same thing when he invited Dizzy Gillespie to be on his song (“Do I Do”), and just then, it was my turn. It’s pretty incredible: people asked me what it was like to win a Grammy, and I say ‘Man, I won when I got Stevie Wonder to play on my album.’ It’s just a blessing.”

A blessing indeed. Stevie’s harmonica break shifts Never Give You Up from the sublime to the…ridiculously sublime. The rest of Raphael Saadiq’s new album is also pretty damn good too.

Les Mains Sales

In matters of personal hygiene, it is men who are viewed as the grimy sex while women strive to keep them scrubbed. But a survey has revealed that female cleanliness is a myth. Women were up to three times more likely to have dirty hands than men.

The difference between the sexes was starkest in London, where 21 per cent of women were carrying faecal bacteria on their hands, compared with 6 per cent of men.

One potential reason for this, I suppose, is that women in general spend a lot more time wiping children’s bums.

Curses

As I made my way across the Sean O’Casey bridge this morning, I was wondering what to write about the budget, in light of the fact that I had not seen any news coverage of it. And I figured that I would write a nice little riff about self-serving talk of the need to protect the most vulnerable in society, because I was as sure as hell that Brian Lenihan would have mentioned it, and because I wouldn’t have time to delve into the consequences of each measure outlined in the budget anyway. Imagine my aghastness when I open the Irish Times website and find a fine piece by Vincent Browne that addresses just that. So the only thing left for me to say on the matter, for the moment, is to congratulate the government for a budget that will ensure we protect the most invulnerable in society.

Update: Read Michael Taft. Lack-of-money quote:

Not only does Fianna Fail deepen the recession in a most regressive way, mortgaging our future to higher debt; they provide no foundation for pulling us out of the recession.

Free At Last

The US Government is to spend up to $250 billion buying direct stakes in banks and other financial institutions under a controversial emergency plan which President Bush insisted today was “not intended to take over the free market but to preserve it“.

Bush also said that he intended to demolish a bottle of Southern Comfort in order to cure his alcoholism once and for all.

Ride a Black Swan

What the Black Swan dude is saying here is quite compelling, though I know nothing of the tools used by banks to calculate risk.

Where you have institutions whose foundational imperative is the generation of profit, any activities within those institutions, no matter how exquisitely objective their methodologies appear, are beholden to this imperative. Generation and interpretation of data, and resultant decisions, are conducted not as part of a disinterested endeavour, but as part of efforts to generate profit. In this dynamic, no-one is employed to say ‘I don’t know’ for any length of time.

I think the point with Taleb, though, if I get him right, is that even if this data interpretation were a matter of consciously disinterested endeavour (and not, say, class war), it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference since people in their analysis would still fall prey to all sorts of ex post facto rationalisations of prior events that affect their subsequent decision making processes, and the sheer amount of data available on any matter you can think of renders people highly susceptible to all sorts of confirmation bias.

Hugh Green’s Investor Tips

OK, it’s Great Depression time, which means it’s only another 9 years until 1938. But since it’s always 1938 I have no idea how long this Great Depression will last. I also feel a twinge of guilt about calling it a Great Depression since it mightn’t be one, what with loose lips sinking ships and financial systems. But I do know this: in times of crisis, people put faith in all sorts of far-out shit. So the longer this goes on, the longer the market for books about how to converse with angels will become an attractive one. But keep a close eye on things: the angel literature bubble may burst once irrational desperation peaks and people start to pull themselves together and stop acting the eejit because it’ll get them nowhere. Also, sell all your stocks in producers of contraceptives and sex aids and plough what remains into chastity belts as a new puritanism takes grip.


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