Posts tagged with ‘news’

Barclays: why no criminal prosecutions?

After the credit crunch, it was very natural to think that surely someone somewhere ought to be punished for what happened. But I was open to the argument that what had happened was a combination of incompetence, greed, systemic failure and macro-economic forces, rather than actual fraud — or at least that fraud was a small part […]

The weird existence of tax havens

Tax avoidance/evasion is in the news again, and once again I find my mind drifting back to that book Treasure Islands, which I read a year ago and stuck with me since. Because a lot of these issues of tax policy are inevitably messy and complicated, both ethically and as a matter of pragmatic policy; but […]

Half a cheer for Formula One

I’ll say one thing for Bernie Ecclestone: he may be a greedy, ruthless, vindictive, amoral little shit and a panderer to tyrants; but as far as I know, he’s never come out with any self-serving pablum about how Formula One brings the world together in peace and harmony, and thus promotes understanding and brotherhood amongst […]

Ooh, apparently I’m being militant again

There has been a bit of a kerfuffle in the UK over the past few days, since a court ruled that it was unlawful for Bideford town council to have prayers as a minuted part of its council meetings. The Daily Mail had a big front page headline CHRISTIANITY UNDER ATTACK; for once the Times […]

My Prime Minister went to Europe and all I got was this lousy veto

So, David Cameron went off to Europe, with the continent in desperate need of an agreement that might stave off financial catastrophe. And it was always going to be difficult to come to a deal which was acceptable to all the various countries, which was why the wrangling has been going on for months. But […]

Needling camels

I think it’s fascinating the way that, quite accidentally, the Church of England has been drawn into a debate about the state of capitalism. Because the protestors were not targeting the church; it was a pure accident of geography that a protest aimed at the Stock Exchange should end up camped around St Paul’s. But […]

Michael S. Hart, RIP

Until this morning I’d never heard of Michael S. Hart, but it turns out he invented the ebook and was the founder of Project Gutenberg. So it was sad to learn of his death. I remember when Wikipedia appeared, it seemed like this was a great new model which would be applied to all kinds […]

Riots, again

There was a story on the front of the Times today (I’d link to it, but it’s behind a paywall), about a young woman, recently graduated from university, who was passing a looted store on the way to get some McDonald’s, and on impulse went and stole a TV. And then three days later, unable […]

London riots

I suppose I ought to make some kind of comment about the fact that London seems to have suddenly gone nuts. But I don’t know what the fuck to say. I certainly didn’t see this coming, so I can hardly claim any insight into the causes. I mean, it’s possible to step back and paint […]

Out of sync

It’s always odd when you find yourself out of sync with public opinion. Specifically at the moment it’s the phone-hacking thing… there is a growing strand of opinion that the reaction is overblown and hysterical, that the media is only obsessed with it because it is a story about the media, that we should really […]

In defence of tabloid journalism (sort of)

The irony of the current situation is that at a time of much hand-wringing about the future of journalism, the News of the World was one newspaper that was actually making plenty of money. Unlike, for example, the Guardian, who exposed them. Or the Times. And I like living in a country which has a […]

The news of the News of the World

It has been an extraordinary run of events at the News of the World over the past week. The analogy that sprang to mind when I was lying in bed last night was, of all things, the fall of the Berlin Wall. I know that must seem like a ludicrously overblown analogy, particularly to my […]

Flat Earth News by Nick Davies

This book apparently started as an attempt to get to the bottom of a particular news story which went around the world but turned out to be, broadly speaking, a load of cobblers: the Millennium Bug. Davies wanted to trace the process by which a story could start with such limited foundations and keep going round […]

A thought on AV

I’m sure the whole world is on the edge of its seat on the eve of the UK’s referendum to change its voting system. I don’t particularly want to go over the arguments about voting reform again [previous posts for the truly interested], but I’m interested by the psychology of the supporters of first past the […]

Royal wedding weirdness

Interesting to see that the crown Prince of Bahrain has said he won’t be coming to the Will&Kate wedstravaganza because he doesn’t want the political situation in Bahrain to be a ‘distraction’ from the wedding. Because news stories about the arrest, beating and torture of political dissidents might be an unnecessary turd of realism in the […]

Kate Middleton confirmed into the Church of England

According to sources close to Miss Middleton she chose to be confirmed because of her own personal journey into faith rather than because of the Royal Family’s role in the Church of England. Yeah, right. I suppose it’s not actually impossible that she happened to have a religious flowering just in time to marry the […]

Treasure Islands by Nicholas Shaxson

Of course no non-fiction book these days is published without a subtitle; this one is Treasure Islands: Tax Havens and the Men Who Stole the World. It is a book with a particular argument to make, that tax havens are a Bad Thing. And it does a good job of making it engaging and readable, considering […]

Egypt, Libya, foreign policy and honesty

I have been following events in north Africa closely, both via the usual media outlets and Twitter (see, for example, Andy Carvin’s one-man newswire for all the latest rumours swirling around). But I haven’t said much about it on this blog because, well, it’s a complicated subject of which I am ignorant. It has often […]

Yes to AV.

Just a quick pointer to a couple of my blog posts from last year’s election: ‘First Past The Post makes politicians lie to us’. And the follow-up: ‘FPTP makes politicians lie to us (hypocrisy update)’. I would actually favour some kind of proportional representation — this one seems quite ingenious — but at least AV would […]

Egypt, the cricket, and dead tree news

The current situation in Egypt has been the second thing recently that has made newspapers feel like a ludicrously old-fashioned technology. The first, more trivially, was the cricket. England were playing in Australia, and because of the time difference, each day’s play was starting just before midnight and running until 7.30am — optimally designed to […]

Egypt joke

A joke I heard a few years ago, can’t remember where: Three agents are drinking in a bar, from the CIA, Mossad and the Egyptian secret police. After a few beers, they all start boasting about their tracking skills, and have a bet to see who can be quickest to head out into the desert […]

Gay marriage through the eye of a needle

Oh, for fuck’s sake. Someone is blaming the recent bird deaths on ‘the fact that America is violating God’s prohibition on homosexuality with support for gay marriage and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.’ This is annoying on so many levels, but the particular one which is bothering me today is this. I’m no […]

More thinking about Wikileaks

One interesting thing I’ve noticed since Wikileaks exploded out of its relative obscurity: I keep finding myself of things which I wish someone would leak to them. So, after FIFA awarded the World Cup to Russia and Qatar in what is widely asumed to be a more-or-less bent bidding process, I thought ‘there must be […]