22 Oct 2010, 12:39 a.m.

Johann Hari on the "Swingeing Cuts" - Essential Reading for the People of Britain

If you live in Britain, you need to read this. Even if you just live on this planet it's still ten minutes well spent. Writing in The Independent today, Johann Hari provides the clearest overview I've yet seen of why Cameron/Osborne's economic policy - that of "swingeing cuts" - is deeply ill-advised, is vindictive and will ultimately be disastrous for Britain.

Johann Hari: Britain Just Became a Colder, Crueller Country - and for Nothing.

I'm no expert in economics - I barely scraped an A-level in the subject - but even I can see just how wrong the policy is: decades ago John Maynard Keynes taught us how to survive a recession. Similar cuts in Britain in 1918, and more recently in Ireland, have shown us how not to, in spectacular fashion. Bewilderingly, Cameron and Osborne have chosen the latter route.

Once you're done with Johann's article, and if you're interested in a little more of the economic theory behind the state we're in, then I can recommend reading Robert Skidelsky. His Future Generations Will Curse Us for Cutting in a Slump and By George, He Hasn't Got It: What Would JM Keynes Think of George Osborne's Budget? are particularly apposite.

For a lengthier read, Skidelsky's eloquent biography of Keynes, named Keynes: The Return of the Master, is a skilful relation of Keynesian theory to the current crisis, in fairly layman-friendly terms.

You may be pleased to hear that I'm unlikely to blog on the subject of economics a great deal in future, but I feel pretty strongly about all of this at the moment. Perhaps that's partly because, as a left-leaning liberal, I'm incensed that my vote has been misappropriated to help allow this to happen. But that's another story.

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18 Aug 2010, 3:07 p.m.

Musical Interlude: Joe Bonamassa Plays "Just Got Paid" at the Albert Hall

I haven't blogged much at all for a while, so it's probably time to remind my dozen or so readers that I'm still around. My excuse is that I've actually been working on a number of other projects, almost all of which will be covered here in due course, so do stay tuned.

In the meantime, here's a musical interlude, and it's perhaps the greatest thing I've seen on the 'net in some time: Joe Bonamassa covering ZZ Top's "Just Got Paid" live at the Albert Hall back in 2009. I don't really know where to begin in explaining how awesome this is, but I'll draw your attention to the twin drum battery, the one-man synchronized Theremin/Flying V duel, and Joe's incredible tone, playing and pure showmanship - which is all the more endearing if you happen to know what a humble, down-to-earth guy Joe actually is.

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27 Apr 2009, 4:09 p.m.

Some Highlights from TED

You need to know about TED, if you don't already. TED stands for "Technology, Entertainment and Design" and is essentially an annual conference renowned for the quality of its speakers and presentations.

You can't go to TED talks unless you're remarkably eminent - a former US president or Nobel Prizewinner, say - but it is to TED's eternal credit that you can watch hours and hours of video recordings of talks online, for free.

The subject matter is eclectic, to say the least, but the one thing that all the talks have in common is that they are utterly fascinating. It's kind of tricky to pick highlights, and far easier to just dive in and spend hours clicking around. But nevertheless, here are three talks from TED that particularly appealed to me.

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13 Jul 2008, 3:21 a.m.

Richard Feynman is Basically My Hero

And I'm glad that these interviews were captured on tape, and have been preserved for you crazy kids.

The books are easier to read than the videos are to watch: Feynman was always a spiky character.

But whatever, here he is. Legendary physicist, safe cracker, bongo player and all round gent, Richard Feynman.

And later:

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27 May 2008, 5:19 p.m.

Clay Shirky on the Cognitive Surplus

I came across this via a recent post on Jeremy Zawodny's blog, and found it fascinating.

I've been meaning to post something about this for a while, ideally accompanied by insightful and witty commentary. But that didn't happen so I figured I'd let Clay's presentation, from this year's Web 2.0 Expo, speak for itself.

In short, by the term Cognitive Surplus, Clay is referring to the huge amount of spare time and spare brain power that you guys have. That cognitive surplus has so far been swallowed up by the cultural black hole of TV, but little by little people are turning away from TV, and towards more interactive media, specifically the 'net. The upshot of all of this is that we might just be in the throes of something that rivals the industrial revolution in its significance.

I think he may well be right. You make up your own mind.

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24 Mar 2008, 5:41 a.m.

The Get Up Kids are The Greatest Band That Ever Existed

The Get Up Kids are the greatest band that ever existed. To prove this, I would like to draw your attention to some very early live footage.

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8 Mar 2008, 4:21 p.m.

Herding Cats

For as long as anyone can remember, the term "herding cats" has been used as an analogy for the challenges involved in managing developers. The implication being, of course, that developers tend to be smart, wilful, single-minded folks. Personal experience suggests this is often the case.

The analogy was reflected in the title of a book named "Herding Cats: A Primer for Programmers who Lead Programmers", written by the impressively named J. Hank Rainwater. I mention it because this is a decent read for anyone who develops, or who works with developers - whether in a management capacity or not. It's not in the same league as "The Pragmatic Programmer", but I'm getting off the point now.

So anyway, I came across this video via Yahoo MySQL guru Jeremy Zawodny's blog. It's so slickly made that you're not surprised when it turns out to be an ad for a big expensive professional services company. But I liked it.

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