Author Archive

The only good communist…

January 4, 2008 Leave a comment

Very sad to hear that Marxist economist Andrew Glyn, who had the dubious honour of teaching both me and Chris Dillow, has died.

As a not-very-socalist, I’d second Chris’s view that:

He never gave those of us who shared his views an easy ride, and was never less than generous to those who didn’t share his views; his conservative and liberal students held him in as high regard as I did.

…which isn’t a bad (professonal) epitaph for an academic.

Categories: Uncategorized

International house of stupid comparisons

January 4, 2008 1 comment

In a Computing Which? survey, Bebo has been rated the best social networking site, ahead of Facebook because its security settings make it harder for unwanted ‘friends’ to get user information. Yahoo Groups was rated as poorest, due to its lack of social networking features.

Relatedly, in a Sarcasm Which? survey, C-BBC has been rated the best TV channel, ahead of Channel 4 because its content guidelines make it unlikely that users will see adult-oriented content. Radio 4 was rated as poorest, due to its lack of visual content.

Look, computing-Which-people: Bebo is a networking site for kids, so it makes information sharing harder (note: this is a bad thing per se) so that weirdos can’t stalk them, groom them or nick their photos and post them on pervy websites (obviously, this is a good thing that outweighs the bad thing). Facebook is aimed at grown-ups, so it doesn’t. And Yahoo Groups isn’t a networking site at all.


Categories: Technology

Quick house bet

December 18, 2007 Leave a comment

It’s possible that house prices will fall a little in 2008. It’s just about possible they may even fall by a lot (although I’d happily stake my life that they’ll fall by less than 20%).

However, it’s absolutely certain that house prices by the end of 2012 will be higher in real terms than they are now. And it’s highly likely that the return on house prices between now and the end of 2012 will exceed the base interest rate.

“So, why don’t you put your money where your mouth is?” – well, because I’m quite happy in my current rented set-up, I’m not sure about where I’m going to be living for the next two years (during which time I accept I could lose money), and I don’t want to be a landlord right now.

Still, anyone who thinks that an investor with more than five years’ liquidity/time before they’d like to sell will lose money (say, the government on Northern Rock’s house estate…) is an idiot.

Categories: Uncategorized

Just in case your blog is Top Sekrit

December 4, 2007 5 comments

[sorry, this post is written in Incomprehensible Geek. If you don't understand what the four letters and three characters before "" on your screen to the top-left of this post mean, then it's not for you. On the other hand, if you're using a browser esoteric enough that the address isn't displayed Up Top, then it almost certainly is.]

Does anyone know of a blog that’s hosted on a secure http site? Or perhaps more relevantly, can anyone think of a reason why the hell anyone would choose to host their publicly accessible blog on a secure http site?

What about ftp? Does anyone write a blog in text documents and upload it to their ftp server? Does this strike you as a sensible thing to do? How about writing your blog on Usenet and linking to articles in a “news:xxxx-xxxx-xxxx-xxxx” format? No? How about hosting it on a telnet server, for that true retro 1980s feel?

Let’s be honest, here – if you have a blog, then its URI will always, always, always begin with “http”. So why the sodding hell do some of the comedians who write blogging comments software insist on you including the protocol when asking you for the site address? ‘Ah yes, thanks for rejecting my comment there; after all, I didn’t specify the protocol, and wouldn’t want people to miss my amazing Gopher page’.

Eejits. Just because you’re programming a computer, doesn’t mean you have to accept the same degree of meaningless anality about your inputs that a machine would…

Categories: Technology


November 30, 2007 3 comments

Apparently it’s Daniel Davies Day today (even if the TV schedulers and sellers of greetings cards have failed to notice).

In tribute, I’m linking to his two best ever pieces: It was a wonderful headbutt and (allegedly, pseudonymously) Why the Bombings Mean That We Must Support My Politics.

If you don’t follow Dan’s writing, a) you should; b) you’re an idiot. Go here, here and here, and keep reading for the rest of the day…

Categories: Uncategorized

A photograph of a bare ankle

November 16, 2007 1 comment

This is good: spoof Tube announcements, from the woman whose voice is used on the real ones.

My favourites include “will the gentleman in the pinstriped suit“, and “passengers should note“…

Categories: Transport

In which we recycle exciting headlines

November 15, 2007 Leave a comment
Categories: Uncategorized

Exciting Jumbo Jet Fact Of The Day

November 13, 2007 Leave a comment

The largest number of people ever carried by a Boeing 747 was 1,122.

NB while these passengers were Ethiopians, any use of 1980s playground jokes is nonetheless strictly frowned upon.

Categories: Transport

Who’ll we get to run our bank?

October 31, 2007 1 comment

I’d thought it was a nearly-amusing coincidence that Northern Rock’s ex-chairman Matt Ridley shared a name with the journalist and science writer.

But no, apparently they’re the same guy. Now, I know that chairman is a non-exec role, but even so – if I were selecting a chairman for a major bank, I’d probably opt for someone with more experience in financial services than, err, none at all. Or at least, someone with more experience in running a medium-to-large company than, err, none at all…


Categories: Uncategorized

But financial standards ARE interesting, dammit

October 31, 2007 Leave a comment

I’ve got a new Sharpener piece up on the unholy trinity of Craig Murray, Alisher Usmanov and Prem Sikka. It’s got accountancy, it’s got bribery, it’s got a respected writer making himself look like an idiot and accidentally libelling people – what more could you ask?

“A post which isn’t about transport or accountancy, please, John…”

Maybe one day. The thing is, my social life is so extreme and hectic [*], and my professional life so amazingly fun and high-powered [**], that it’d just sound too gloating-ish if I were to post about them on my blog. Talking about financial standards and transport projects is the only way I can stop your jealousy of me reaching unbearable levels. Honest.

[*] last night I went to two pubs, and considered going to a third
[**] last month I got taken to a lasagne factory in Wales

Categories: Uncategorized