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Topics - Demolition_Squid

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Apple Talk / Shamblers
« on: December 19, 2012, 03:05:29 pm »
We spent countless hours preparing for this very end, but when it came, nobody seemed to realize until it was much too late. The Crash came, and with it, the zombies. But I’m sure everything will be alright.

It might not even have been The Crash, looking back, it seems like many of our institutions were showing warning signs even before then. Heightened aggression, insatiable thirst for human flesh, repetitive behaviour and rictus grins. Not to mention a gradual lowering of higher brain function and reliance on stock phrases. I’m sure everything will be alright. The warning signs were all there, but nobody seemed to really notice or take action.

The Crash was definitely when things got so bad they couldn’t be ignored. These dead institutions have shambled on for years, holding in their guts with one hand and devouring their fellows with the other. We struggled to find a cure, but the rot just spread in deeper. Things have gotten pretty bad. What’s worse is that we seem to be trying to convince ourselves that it isn’t happening! I’m sure everything will be alright though. Some countries have attempted to purge the infection with fire, but that doesn’t seem to have helped slow it at all. If anything, it has speeded the rate at which living, breathing officials have been replaced with dead-eyed bureaucrats hungry for more.

The truth is we weren’t prepared for this kind of zombie. Sure, sure, fiction named a hundred different variants, but none working quite like this. Cut off the head all you like, the body will either thrash around and become even more violent, or else simply grow a new one; the only appreciable difference being a more desperate gleam in the eye. I’m sure everything will be alright. There are probably experts working on it.

Having identified the infected by their dead-eyed stare and repetition of phrases such as ‘for your safety’ and ‘quantitative easing’, it is important first of all not to panic. They are, thankfully, quite stupid and only dangerous if panicked. Quickly make your way out of the area, doing your best to adopt a similarly haggard and stressed demeanour whilst uttering platitudes. Be certain not to make any sudden moves or question their assumptions. Remember, everything will be alright. There are probably experts working on it.

As there seems to be nothing which can kill one of these monsters than another of their  kind, it is best not to interfere. All we can do is hunker down and hope that they don’t mess up badly enough to cause the lights to go out. So long as we have the illusion of normality, we can just keep pretending this isn’t really happening and everything will go back to normal if we just keep the faith. Even if things won’t go back to normal, I’m sure everything will be alright.

Apple Talk / Not Quite Dead
« on: December 17, 2012, 11:33:52 am »
I think it has been about six months since my last spurt of activity here?

Amsterdam made a spirited attempt at killing me. I managed to make it home, and when I did, found out that I lost my job. Two days later, the entire editorial team at the website I was working at was fired, and sales put onto a fully commission-based payment structure. Given that what they were selling before was editorial time, I have no idea what they actually sold or what the existing clients made of it. The website still seems to exist though.

Did a brief internship where I thought I was going to get more editorial experience but actually they shifted me onto telesales and at that point I quit.

Money ran out, unsurprisingly, and I've had to move back in with parents. Mostly I'm thankful that this is actually an option. I've got a few corporate grad scheme apps out (god these things take so long - one failed yesterday that I'd been enrolled in for I think four months?). Managed to get christmas work at a supermarket over the holidays. I'm hoping that'll translate into something full time as I seem to be getting tons more hours than everyone else. It is a little depressing that I'm doing something I could have done straight out of high school, only if I'd started straight out of high school I'd probably be further up the chain by now. That's life, though.

I've also started writing again. Got the beginnings of a roleplaying system thrown together, though it still needs tons more work before I start seriously ramping up to try and get it Kickstarted. I have vague dreams that if I can catch the internet RPG flavor-of-the-month wagon, I can translate that into a kickstarter for a physical product and then roll that forward into a game line. The trouble with that notion being that you generally need proven experience in the field already to be seen as a credible investment. Which is fairly understandable; I'm not credible, at the moment, it is a pipedream. Getting to credible is a big challenge. Still, the system has bought a lot of fun during playtesting thus far so it isn't as though I've gotten nothing out of it.

My grandmother has rekindled my love of poetry. My father reminds me on a daily basis why I despise politics. My friends are all working every hour there is and about half have moved away. The past few months have been insane for that. Oh! And my best friend is going to have a kid. Which is still sinking in.

At the start of the year my goal was to move out of my parent's place and get a better job. I managed the first, briefly, but now I'm back at square one and feel like I'm treading water career-wise. My parents have offered to fund me in obtaining journalism qualifications if I can find out which ones would be worthwhile. I kind of hate the thought of spending another year-eighteen months leeching off them, but if it seemed like it would actually get me a decent job I might have to go for it and pay them back later.

I've been lurking around for a while. Fact is, I was embarrassed when I realized just how long it'd been since I was posting here.

And in ten minutes I have to run for my next shift. I just thought it was about time I popped up and confirmed that the trams didn't get me. Yet.

I still think I catch glimpses of them out the corner of my eye every now and then, though...

Apple Talk / I Will Not Leave This Place Alive.
« on: March 27, 2012, 05:34:47 pm »
Okay I have to get this down because I am not convinced that Amsterdam is going to be the end of me.

As some background, I am not unfamiliar with large cities. I have never gotten on well with them, but I have always maintained a healthy respect and fear of them.

London and I could be said to be on speaking terms. One of my earliest memories is as a child on the tube, where some bastard put a cigarette out on my hat. My parents didn't notice until three stops later, when I asked if... that was an alright thing to do, because it sort of, had ruined my hat.

That casual malevolence is something that I've maintained with London ever since. London is simply too large to care about you. It oozes contempt, and its inhabitants tend to move with a kind of listless violence. In other words, if you are aware of yourself and your surroundings, you'll largely be okay. London is also very loud, I feel this is important in the context.

I have also lived in Birmingham. Birmingham, despite London's reputation, has always struck me as a far more harmoniously multicultural landscape. In London, communities tend to be... very well demarcated. In Birmingham, things are a hodge podge which I loved - I lived in a small house located between a Methodist church, a Mosque, and within walking distance of a Synagogue. The accent I heard the least in my time in Birmingham was, in fact, the Birmingham accent. Birmingham too was largely happy to let you get on with what you were doing, with little interference.

I have even spent time in other European cities - not for more than a couple of weeks at a time, you understand. Paris and Brussels were pleasant enough, though. They obeyed the same rules. They were boisterous, but had their own characters. Brussels felt very cramped, Paris very aloof. 

Not so Amsterdam.

The first thing that I noticed in Amsterdam was how quiet the place is. There's some traffic noise - I can here it now, attempting to calm me down in my hotel room, audible over the sound of the blood drumming in my ears - but it is not the deafening roar of activity I am accustomed to in large cities.

The second thing I noticed is how clean the place is. I understand this now; if you stay still long enough to leave a mark, you will be destroyed.

My taxi ride to my hotel was uneventful, though I noticed at the time that the driver seemed to be in a rush. I could swear that he came within six inches of ploughing into a tram, but, taxi drivers often seem to inhabit their own special areas of the road. I thought nothing of it.

The hotel should have been my first warning.

I had read reviews of course; I am not totally inept. They had mentioned the stairs being the main downside, but the place is cheap, and I am young - what are some stairs? I can deal with that, I thought. After seven hours of travel, however, to be greated by this was... foreshadowing.

My room - I have had to pay up front, I presume because the hoteliers know as well as I that I shall not be leaving this place alive - was on the top floor. That is the view which you are granted with when you open the door of the 'hotel'. Three more flights of stairs and I was able at last to reach my room, where I laid out my luggage and prepared myself.

I have one day to myself on this trip, in which to see the sights. I intended to make the most of it. I particularly wanted to see the Van Gogh Museum, so I charted out my journey using my map - apparently it was very close to the hotel!

I walked outside, and was almost immediately nearly hit by a motorbike.

You see, in Amsterdam, they use many bikes. You have probably heard this. What I was unprepared for was the way that the cycle paths seem to blend seamlessly into the pavement. Well, I thought, I am not a fool. I will be more careful. Just a matter of keeping my wits about me, but damn if that motorbike didn't seem... quiet.

I found somewhere to eat, and noted that London is not the only place which will gouge you for food and drink. (Incidentally, I have yet to find something like a supermarket - the heat has necessitated that I spend almost £20 on drink alone thus far.)

Theoretically the museum was within 4 minutes walk of my hotel. It actually took me a half hour navigating the strange, blending pavement/road/cyclepaths to get to the place. I enjoyed taking in the exhibit, though. Van Gogh, it is said, found the cities nerve wracking and thus could not abide living in them. I begin to sympathise.

After that, I decide to try and find my way to the university theatre - it is where I will be spending the next three days. I chose this hotel because it was recommended by the organizers of the workshop. It is the closest hotel that was not booked up, and it is 20 minutes away. I begin to walk.

My memory of this time is hazy. It is quiet and nowhere seems to go where it should. I walk down one street to find it failing to connect with the next according to my map. I find myself twice in the path of oncoming bikes. I take two hours in total before I am exhausted completely and can go no further. By some twist of horrible fate I recognize the street I am on at this point as being close to my hotel. I come home. I beg the receptionist to tell me if there is a taxi service he recommends.

"Not." He says, "That I would recommend. But I may call you a taxi. Where do you want to go?"

I tell him I need one in the morning, to go to the university.

"Mostly you should go to the road, stick your thumb out." He gives the gesture, in case I have never seen it before, "And hope. If you wish to call, though, there is a phone, there." He points. Behind a potted plant, there is indeed, a phone. "Seven sevens."

That cryptic advice given he seems to lose interest in me. I return to my room, nearly killing myself on the stairs, and drink some water. I post on I feel a little better. This is not too bizarre, I tell myself, I am making a fuss over nothing.

So I go out to get something sweeter than water to drink, so I can review my papers for tomorrow and maybe get an early night's rest. I am so very tired.

I fail utterly to find somewhere like a supermarket, as I mentioned. I am barged into by three flamboyantly gay men who laugh and say something I cannot understand. Nearby I spot a pink I sign. Tourist information, I think, but when I get closer I notice that it is specifically gay tourist information. That confuses me. Will they sense my heterosexuality and deny me service? Is making use of this service some betrayal of trust? Which way is it back to my hotel? I'll make do with water.

But I do spot a kiosk selling large bottles of drink. Two of them and some waffles set me back almost ten euro. I am so pathetically grateful to find something I might want to drink that I don't question it. I turn, I notice the green walking sign.

And then I am almost hit by the tram.

A tram is not a small method of locomotion. It is not inconspicuous. It should not be that quiet. But Amsterdam works in these ways. It is quiet, and it confuses you, and when you think you have gotten a handle on something - for instance, being told it is safe to cross - then it will strike.

By some miracle I am not hit. I have to jump, and then I keep walking. It is the walk I use in London. The walk which says, I know where I am going fuck you get out of my way, you do not exist to me. As though I can ward myself from this place by pretending I understand where I am and what I am doing. As though I do not expect several tons of silent death to barrel down on me at a moment's notice.

I have made it back to my hotel room now. I am shaking as I type this, and I feel certain that I will not be returning home. Amsterdam has apparently marked me in some way. I find myself thinking of Tucson, and how Sister Fracture says that the city sings to you.

But Amsterdam does not sing. It is silent, as calm and reasonable as its people.

And then it hits you with a tram.

send help

Apple Talk / The Laughing Man
« on: March 23, 2012, 12:06:17 pm »

Why does the laughing man laugh?

You wouldn’t know that he is doing it, if you saw him on the street. He looks just like you, just like everyone else. That’s the ingenious thing. We live in a world which idolizes appearances. To this end we are encouraged to subsume our individual identities into those of others. We are encouraged to dress the same as those of our subset of humanity. We are encouraged to use the same language. We are encouraged to think the same thoughts. There is no hard enforcement here; the penalty for not doing so is nothing more than the suspicion of your fellows. This can be more than enough. We have so much information to catalogue and consume on a daily basis, trying to remember which opinions, desires, wants, needs drive your friends is simply one more irritating detail. It is far easier if you can ascribe to them a preconceived set of conditions.

The Laughing Man understands this innately. Subsumed into the popular culture through people who mimic his actions, he then sheds the mask and becomes invisible. The Laughing Man is Anonymous. The Laughing Man is also smart enough to realize that being Anonymous in public is simply one more set of preconceived conditions. The system has become resistant enough to change that to set oneself up as a symbol of it is to be co-opted. The Laughing Man realizes that it is more effective to manipulate the mechanisms of power through action rather than rhetoric; to engage in rhetoric is to be undermined by the need for legitimacy that the system makes a precondition of dialogue.

The narratives constructed by this dialogue are innately constraining, manipulating the viewpoints presented in order to set things up in a way which requires little conscious thought to absorb. The Laughing Man has realized that this dialogue is just one more tool in the machinery of power; to disrupt it requires moving beyond the easy definitions of mainstream media. It requires the escalation of the inherent contradictions within the flawed façade that society reproduces for its citizens. It requires that people are made to become self-aware of their own desires, aware of their wants, needs, and thoughts, rather than allowing themselves to believe that they are defined by some arbitrary label. It requires that the members of the tribe realize that they have more power than the tribal council. To disrupt this system will necessitate the destruction of rhetoric and discourse; the revelation of people’s true selves, rather than the face they are forced to wear.

The Laughing Man knows all this, and in knowing, undermines the tools of the system in order to subvert it. He presents himself as he must be presented; he acts as he must act, in order to avoid drawing attention. When he does move, it does not appear to be he who is responsible at all. He does not seek credit or acclaim; he is not in it for the ‘lulz’ (though there are certainly many laughs to be had) nor does he act in order to achieve any glory or notoriety for himself.

So why does he laugh?

Because he has realized that he is living in a grand joke. It is not a pleasant comedy, this, but to think of how easily humanity has allowed itself to be divided upon arbitrary lines, how effortlessly it has been convinced to continue inflicting unnecessary hardship upon its greater mass, how swiftly it forgets lessons that it paid for with countless lives within the span of its own living memory…

What choice but he have but to laugh?

Techmology and Scientism / Yahoo vs Facebook
« on: February 28, 2012, 02:30:15 pm »
So for a while now, Yahoo has been flailing around trying to find some way to become a viable business again. They've been on a pretty steep downward trajectory, their search and email services beaten out by Google and fewer and fewer people using them at all.

A little while ago they elected a new CEO, and a radical new strategy has been implemented - sue Facebook for violating their patents!

I read this on the FT but they are funny about sharing articles, so this is the best other source I could find in thirty seconds:

Quote from: New York Times
The paper quoted a Yahoo spokesperson as saying, "Yahoo has a responsibility to its shareholders, employees and other stakeholders to protect its intellectual property. We must insist that Facebook either enter into a licensing agreement or we will be compelled to move forward unilaterally to protect our rights.”

Facebook spokesman Barry Schnitt, however, told The Times, "Yahoo contacted us the same time they called The New York Times and so we haven't had the opportunity to fully evaluate their claims."
It isn't clear how much Yahoo thinks it is owed by Facebook but the fight comes at a sensitive time for both companies. Facebook is getting ready to go public in the next few months and Yahoo is trying to establish its new identity under recently named CEO Scott Thompson.

The FT had an additional quote from Yahoo basically saying that it has nothing to do with Facebook's upcoming initial public offering, and instead is purely a new strategy by Scott Thompson to try and turn Yahoo around.

Really interesting that it is even possible Yahoo could threaten this legitimately. Apparently Facebook has secured 58 patents and has another 410 pending.

Aneristic Illusions / Lets Talk Theory.
« on: February 15, 2012, 11:44:57 am »
We talk a lot about how the system works, but we generally do it in relation to specific examples. I thought it might be helpful to get some discussion rolling about the political world we live in, at least how I understand it. I fear it is a little shallow in places, but I think what I’ve got below is a pretty good jumping off point. I haven’t touched too much on economics, as I think that is worth looking at in more detail as a specific system; this is just meant to be an overview of general politics and international relations from the top down.

At the top of the tree in politics you have the nation state. A nation state is held to be autonomous, have legitimate right to rule the territory it claims, and exerts control over its citizens to some degree. Laying out a specific definition of what constitutes a nation state and a citizen can be tough, but for general purposes it is fairly self-explanatory.

Below the nation state you have the various organizations that nation states subscribe to; The United Nations, European Union, Arab League, NATO and so forth. There’s often some confusion at this level because people tend to be confused about the behaviour of nation states in regards to these organizations. Although there are certain expectations set up for membership, nations cannot be compelled to act, though they can be pressurized. For instance, most of the European Union members lied and cheated on their accounts and were known to be doing so in contravention with the agreed limits on government borrowing. There was nothing that the EU as a body could actually do about this without popular support, so the rules were meaningless.

The recent removal of governments in the EU to be replaced with technocrats is an interesting example which could be seen to contradict this, but in truth it is a vessel for the interests of France and Germany. Supranational bodies continue to exist and are redefined by the nation states which make them up, rather than having innate power in and of themselves. Nation states exert pressure on each other through various threats; in the past these have largely been of a violent nature, but they can also include sanctions, restricting access to resources or territory, ceasing trade contracts, or working against their political interests through supranational bodies. It can also include more positive forms of manipulation- giving aid or grants, support on the national stage, treaties and alliances and so forth. Ultimately all these things are ways for one nation to bend another to their interests, either through coercion or bribery.

Below these bodies you then have international corporations. These organizations do not have direct control over the workings of government, and they cannot flout international regulations without risking serious fines and problems. Even when they work within the system, if a strong enough government decides to screw them over, they generally will be screwed. Russia vs BP is a fun example of that.

Ultimately, how strong these corporations are tends to be related to how strong their home nation is. If the United States Government stands behind the actions of their corporations, you can be sure that the countries they operate in will be very aware of this. How much money corporations can throw into their operations also has a major role, with some of the biggest in the world having the ability to strongly warp international standards around the regulation of their businesses. This is most evident in the banking system, where the major banks work as a cartel in order to threaten and bully governments with dire warnings should their interests be threatened. They do not have ultimate authority, however, as they do not have state sanctioned violence to fall back on of their own regard. They have to buy it in, and that means that they have to keep the largest countries on side if they are going to keep having their interests served.

Within countries, then, you have the government at the top, and then the major industries which make up the economy of that country. The ultimate aim of any government is to remain in power, and in order to do that they need to keep being seen as legitimate in the eyes of their people. That does not necessarily mean democracy, but it does mean making sure that their right to rule is uncontested through whatever means.

That means keeping most people largely satisfied with the status quo. Change, in government, is a bad thing. After all, the system which exists put you into power, why would you want to change that? The ultimate aim is to make it so that people cannot even conceive of an alternative system. The End of History, as Fukuyama called it.

A large part of that is keeping the economy stable and people employed. Modern relations between states are somewhat more complex than they used to be as a result of globalization; the economies of countries throughout the world are more intricately linked than they used to be. This has opened up more routes for conflict than just violence, with trade sanctions, control of trade routes (such as the Strait of Hormuz) and other resources now understood to be potentially catastrophic in ways they were not necessarily before.

The media is a mirror of the culture which produces it. There isn’t necessarily a conscious and directed conspiracy of the media in order to control output and reproduce particular ideological ideas; there doesn’t have to be. A very small group of people control the media, and they have done very well out of the status quo. For the same reasons that governments fear change, these people are resistant to ways of showing information which do not fit in with their expectations.

People generally want to believe that their nation is doing well, and that the system which they live in is a good one. Without that belief, the legitimacy of the culture itself is questioned, and that tends to result in feeling pretty uncomfortable. We feel a natural connection to the country of our birth because we impose the norms and values that we group up with on it. The nation state is a kind of imagined community; we will never know even a tiny fraction of all the people who subscribe to it, but we still have a tendency to imagine that we have something in common with them. It is the modern ‘tribe’ and it invokes an Us vs Them response in relation to all other nation states.

Or Kill Me / Future Shock
« on: February 03, 2012, 11:26:06 am »

Almost $50 billion wiped off stock markets today due to fears of instability with 2/10 people under the age of 25 out of work. JOIN THE DISCUSSION on the job crisis we must act to prevent further humanitarian crisis with hundreds dying daily due to lack of basic necessities such as failing support for the Eurozone. YOUR VOTE COUNTS FOR THESE FINALISTS At an all time low, German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated that she would not allow the project to fail, and offered to blockade the Strait of Hormuz. WE TAKE YOU LIVE TO THE SCENE The IMF reiterated that such an act could result in a massive spike in the price of oil leaving thirty two dead. BUT DO PEOPLE REALLY UNDERSTAND IT? WE TOOK TO THE STREETS OF LONDON TO FIND OUT The Costa Concordia disaster is being blamed on the irresponsible actions of 2,818 Occupy movements listed worldwide. DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOUR CHILDREN ARE? We'll bring you more on that after eleven. PRESS THE RED BUTTON NOW

Tune in again tomorrow for more.

Aneristic Illusions / Michelle Obama
« on: February 02, 2012, 01:27:04 pm »
The First Lady of the United States can do 25 pushups.

This is apparently important news which we must all be made aware of.

Carry on.

RPG Ghetto / ATTN: Luna (Warning: TORbaggery)
« on: January 31, 2012, 11:51:17 am »
You mentioned wanting to know if other people play TOR?

WELL I DO!  :)

I picked it up a couple of weeks ago because I'd heard good things about it and it is the first MMO that I'm actually enjoying. I'm largely pootling around on my own, teaching myself the ropes (My highest character is only level 17 at the moment), because it sure feels like people expect you to understand everything there is to know about MMOs, and I'm way too non-committal to want to sign up for a guild or something that requires regular, scheduled questing. I already have a job! Though a few friends of mine in the states have put together a relaxed guild and I might join that when I'm a higher level. I understand you pretty much need a guild when you max out in order to get the most out of endgame content.

I have yet to really explore PVP, either. I'm just having fun running around as a Sith stabbing fools and being cartoonishly evil. The stories aren't masterpieces, but they are engaging and a hell of a lot more immersive than WoW, which I just couldn't bring myself to care about. I'm sure I'm terrible at the game, but it is providing enough fun for the moment to justify a little bite out of my entertainment budget.

The main complaints I've heard seem to be around PVP and the Light Side story. I've got a level 10 Jedi Shadow and that's as far as I've bothered to go down that route because the stealthy gameplay failed to click with me. What are your experiences so far? The Sith Warrior story just had me grinning like a loon all the way through so far. I've carefully avoided all spoilers, so I'm impressed with the fact it has grabbed me more than Skyrim and looks set to do so for at least another three or four months as I go through the other stories.

Apple Talk / I feel sick
« on: January 31, 2012, 11:26:13 am »
Right down in my guts. The problem is, I don't have time to vomit.

When I took this job it was because my employer believed my stringent accuracy would be an asset. Our job is to provide information; the veracity of that information should not be called into question. Our aim was to provide a true picture of areas in the UK (and later, the rest of Europe) so that investors could look at that picture and come to an informed decision about where they should consider going. When I started this job, we compared ourselves to 'a more reliable and focused Wikipedia'.

It is interesting to see how that project has changed over time.

Money is, of course, the ultimate decider. My employer has made it perfectly clear that we are bleeding money at a fantastic rate. Our primary concern, therefore, is to keep our paying customers happy. That means that those areas which give us the cash for more space on the site don't just get more wordcount to describe their area, they get whatever they want.

We no longer describe ourselves as Wikipedia. Now our promotional literature references Amazon.

Impartiality doesn't pay the bills, and the truth (even on such a small scale) isn't good enough. We have to exaggerate and take wildly misrepresented figures. We use superfluous adjectives. We upsell.

I took this job largely because I wanted to avoid a retail or sales position. I took it because I didn't want to have to lie to people in order to get money. Naive, really.

We're even now talking about distorting our maps, to resize those areas with a large amount of paying clients. Literally warping the world in order to make our clients seem bigger, more important.

But I don't have time to vomit. If I spew, I'm not babbling platitudes and promises to our clients. We need the money, you see, because if they stop feeding us those bills, we're not going to have a business any more. I'm pretty sure this is better than nothing. It might not be what I signed up for, but at least it is keeping me busy, right?

Aneristic Illusions / BREAKING: Human beings not rational.
« on: January 25, 2012, 03:12:58 pm »
"You have to assume that you don't have rational consumers. Faced with complex decisions or too much information, they default ... They hide behind credit rating agencies or behind the promises that are given to them by the salesperson," said Mr Wheatley, in an interview with the Financial Times.

Martin Wheatley, the head of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), said regulators should ban potentially dangerous products to protect consumers from themselves, suggesting the FCS will be far tougher than the current Financial Services Authority in policing the retail investment market.


This could be very interesting. It remains to be seen whether the FCA will be any more successful than the organization it is replacing (the Financial Services Authority) in regulating the financial services sector. Wheatley seems to be breaking the assumption that the FSA held, that investors are ultimately rational and markets can be understood as a collection of rational individuals... which could hopefully be a step in the right direction! It'll be a while before anything is decided. The roadmap is:

Quote from:
July 2010: Coalition government launches plan to break up the Financial Services Authority, creating the Prudential Regulatory Authority and a new consumer protection and markets authority

February 2011: Ministers decide the new consumer watchdog will be called the Financial Conduct Authority and will have the power to ban specific financial products or limit their distribution. Martin Wheatley named head of FCA

June 2011: Draft legislation unveiled. The FSA outlines the approach the FCA will take towards protecting consumers and regulating financial products.

September 2011: Martin Wheatley starts work.

Winter 2011: Parliament holds hearings on the draft bill and recommends that the FCA been given extra powers to regulate consumer credit and promote competition

Jan 31 2012: Treasury response to industry consultation and Parliament expected

April 2012: FSA supervisory teams to split in two and begin overseeing conduct and prudential regulation separately

May to August 2012: Legislation to be discussed, amended and adopted by Parliament

2013: PRA and FCA to open for business

Apple Talk / Escape
« on: January 23, 2012, 11:21:35 am »
It was the goal that the games industry had been striving towards for as long as anyone could remember. True virtual reality, not 3D, not motion control. Plug yourself in, and be taken to a world of infinite wonder.

It started on the fringes first. Early adopters and geeks leapt at the chance to live out fantasy lives saving (or dooming) the galaxy, saving (or dooming) fantastical empires, questing for beautiful royalty and to earn fame and glory unobtainable in reality.

Eventually it became more mainstream and the technology was found in every home. The advertising purposes were obvious; capture your product at its most perfect, and pump that experience into the brain of the audience. A whole new vista of media opened up, selling emotions. Who could share the most perfect sensation of love? Who knew joy better than anyone else?

The final outcome was inevitable in hindsight.

Again, it started gradually. The first person to decide to live entirely in their virtual world was a scandal. At first it was the rich, the only people who could afford to pay for the machine and the electricity to keep their physical needs cared for without working for the rent and the bills. People sell the best moments of their life, commoditizing their emotions to fund their eventual escape.

Demand grew. The market responded. Automated hotels where you could fit yourself in relatively cheaply sprang up. Pay forward your pension and savings, you could plug yourself in for a hundred years. You’d pass away before you came out again. But why strive for anything else?

If you can't control this world, why not move to one which you can?

The ultimate escape.

Apple Talk / Oh jesus christ
« on: January 19, 2012, 01:39:51 pm »


Oh jesus christ


This has been your bizarre British fad for the day.

Literate Chaotic / Sherlock
« on: January 15, 2012, 10:47:44 pm »
Just finished watching the climax to the second season of Sherlock.

I don't know if the first season has made it across to the states yet, but Sherlock is the updating of several of (unsurprisingly) Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes stories to a modern day setting.

I forget how often I've ranted here about my general hatred of 'modernisation' adaptations. I generally feel that you lose a lot when you take things between mediums let alone when you stuff stories into new time periods.

Sherlock is a pleasant break from that, possibly because the actors in it are all excellent. Sherlock and Mycroft both stand out for me, with Moriarty a very close third.

The stories aren't direct adaptations, which helps a lot. The set pieces remain the same but the actual mysteries tend to be twisted a little, which keeps it interesting. Each episode is 90 minutes long, so although there's only three episodes in each season, it is the equivalent of a movie trilogy.

It is the only series I've bothered following since Black Mirror and Doctor Who stopped, and now it is over again... there's nothing worth watching on the TV. If you find yourself in a similar position and haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend getting hold of the seasons (be sure to start with season 1 as it informs season 2).

It also involves a fantastically savage beating given to a Jack Bauer style CIA agent for his interrogation methods. Beautiful to watch.  :)

Apple Talk / Distance sucks.
« on: January 14, 2012, 09:57:16 am »
So, the majority of my friends, I met through the internet.

I don't mean that I don't have any friends IRL - I do. I just know more by volume over the internet. This is good and bad. Sometimes, you lose touch. It is easier to walk away from an online community than a real one, and never find out what happened. I've even done it sometimes. About a year ago, I walked away from an online game because I didn't have time commitments any more. As a result I lost touch with a lot of people who I only knew through the game.

I decided to log back on this week.

One of my friends there I used to chat to a lot at insane o clock. She's canadian, incredibly talented with tailoring, did a lot of cosplay and was very pretty. She was also married, successful, and had a good sense of humour. What I was unaware of was that she also has social anxiety disorder and used the internet as a way of getting around a crippling fear of being around more than six people at a time.

At the end of December her husband declared that he no longer loved her and walked out on her.  I obviously don't know the full story, but she had a breakdown. She cut off all her hair, cut herself trying to work up the guts to cut her wrists. Thankfully her roomate found her before she did it and she got to spend a week in a mental health unit.

She seems to have stabilized and no longer wants to kill herself. Her husband wants to see if there is anything left by dating again. His idea of doing this is apparently taking 21 year old women (he's 33) to expensive dinners and then taking his wife to Denny's on her birthday.

It is times like this that I hate distance more than anything.

If she lived in the same country, even, I could drop everything and go and at least take her out to dinner to try and cheer her up. If she lived in the same city I could hang out with her and actually support her. I could kick her husband in the nads.

But she lives on the other side of an ocean.

The internet lets us do a lot of wonderful things. It lets us forge these relationships despite never really seeing each other face to face. But it can also make us powerless to help when we'd most like to. 

And that sucks. Communication makes the world seem smaller than ever, but in the most fundamental ways, it is still a huge place.

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