Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Languages in Danger

The number of distinct languages in the world gives pause for thought, as shown by this Interactive Atlas of the World's Languages in Danger. Loss of language means loss of a capability of expression.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

How classical music lost its audience

Contemporary classical music is increasingly irrelevant to most people today. Yes, orchestral scores are written for film, some very inventive and beautiful, but as a genre, western art music has pretty much lost its way, disappeared so far up it's own arse that it can see the conductor just past the tonsils. Why is this?

ISJ has published an excellent article by Simon Behrman on the subject of classical music today, noting how what was once popular music (in the sense of populace) was in effect stolen by bourgois wankers intent on seeing themselves as superior. For example, prior to (and even during) Beethoven's time, the "town band" was often synonymous with "orchestra", in that the musicians were skilled but not isolated in a "classical" tradition which scorned (say) fairground dance music - the performers would have played all kinds of music.

I myself suspect that in fact the MAJORITY of melodies and forms of classical music have been lifted directly from "popular" music; not just obvious examples such as Bartok, RVW and Ives, but the work of almost every "composer" since and possibly before Bach. My contention is that this debt to "folk" music is rarely acknowledged by those who consider themselves connaisseurs of classical music... though I need to investigate this further.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

The Iraqi people won

Patrick Cockburn notices the quiet victory of the Iraqi people:

Private security companies will lose legal immunity. US military operations will only be carried out with Iraqi consent. No US military bases will remain after the last American troops leave in 2011 and in the interim the US military is banned from carrying out attacks on other countries from within Iraq.
This almost equates to a complete neutering of the American war machine in Iraq, and is a major U-turn from the wishes of the US at the beginning of 2008.

Shakespeare, Zim-style

Thanks to a friend of mine, who knew the director, I saw an excellent production of Two Gentlemen of Verona, by Two Gents productions at the Oval House Theatre.

Very refreshing to experience Shakespeare so fresh and full of life, and so close to the action too. The two actors played all the parts, bar one or two, for whom they borrowed astonished members of the audience.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

An Address in Mayfair - Hedge Funds 101

Accessible article at LRB about Hedge Funds - how they work, what they are, how their role might change after the recent financial hoo-haa.

Paradoxically, though, the dramatic events of this autumn may lead, over the next few years, to an even greater role for the hedge funds that survive. With so many banks having been bailed out by the world’s taxpayers, they will be under considerable pressure from governments and regulators to concentrate on their core functions (receiving deposits, making loans to individuals and businesses, processing payments etc) and to reduce proprietary trading – that is the trading of financial instruments in order to make a profit for the bank, not to serve the needs of customers. Even banks that haven’t needed to be bailed out are moving in this direction: on 4 November, J.P. Morgan announced it was closing its global proprietary trading unit. As banks retreat from trading risky financial instruments, a potentially very profitable space will open up for those still prepared to do so, and hedge funds will step in to fill it.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I got the bsatards

Rode my machine to work today for the first time in a long while. Promptly got a parking ticket from the City of London.

Couldn't be bothered arguing, so I went to pay online. After registering and logging in, I went to update my password and BANG the site went down... and STAYED down! No amount of refreshing the home page brought it back.

Where is the custom error page, the Global.asax handler, or at least the "remote only" setting? ASP.NET newbies built their site?!

Update: looks like cScape is to blame: