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Archive for June 20th, 2008

london, for free

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Hey, I didn’t know that Patrick Keiller’s London is available on-line… You have to watch it very, very small though.

Strange thing, how centrally important this film is over here, how relatively unknown it is on the US side. (I have to admit, I’d never heard of it before I arrived…)

(I hope this link works outside of the UK – please do let me know if it doesn’t…)

A question for another day: why is it that New York City seems to resist or at least has proved unfertileground  for the production of psychogeographic / hauntological materials? Is it simply the relative youth of NYC as a city? Does it have something to do with the wider arc of political aspiration / disappointment that exists in London? An issue of the co-location of political and economic and cultural power in London, whereas NYC only has two of the three? Or is the answer more material, more architectural? London’s weird (to me, anyway) chaos of hub-and-spoke villages provokes more ruin sifting than the rectilinearity of NYC? Or does the significant difference lie at the site of intellectual production, the funding of a documentary culture in the UK that’s missing in New York. (The exception, in a way, proves the rule on this point – as WNET has made forays in this direction…. such as this series, but it’s still far too sunny and touristical to qualify). Or, there’s the last chapter of Marshall Berman’s generally under-appreciated All That Is Solid Melts Into Air, which is far far closer….

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June 20, 2008 at 11:15 am

Posted in distraction, movies

testmarketing the October Surprise

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Ah, interesting, horrifying. Every summer on the summer in the run-up to major elections…

WASHINGTON — Israel carried out a major military exercise earlier this month that American officials say appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Several American officials said the Israeli exercise appeared to be an effort to develop the military’s capacity to carry out long-range strikes and to demonstrate the seriousness with which Israel views Iran’s nuclear program.

More than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters participated in the
maneuvers, which were carried out over the eastern Mediterranean and
over Greece during the first week of June, American officials said.

exercise also included Israeli helicopters that could be used to rescue
downed pilots. The helicopters and refueling tankers flew more than 900
miles, which is about the same distance between Israel and Iran’s
uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, American officials said.

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June 20, 2008 at 10:17 am

Posted in distraction, war

cavendish bananas against consumer choice

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NYTimes, interesting on bananas:

The final piece of the banana pricing equation is genetics. Unlike apple and orange growers, banana importers sell only a single variety of their fruit, the Cavendish. There are more than 1,000 varieties of bananas — most of them in Africa and Asia — but except for an occasional exotic, the Cavendish is the only banana we see in our markets. It is the only kind that is shipped and eaten everywhere from Beijing to Berlin, Moscow to Minneapolis.

By sticking to this single variety, the banana industry ensures that all the bananas in a shipment ripen at the same rate, creating huge economies of scale. The Cavendish is the fruit equivalent of a fast-food hamburger: efficient to produce, uniform in quality and universally affordable.

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June 20, 2008 at 10:12 am

Posted in Uncategorized

schadenfreude too is a form of market fundamentalism

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Britain’s social housing industry suggests £1bn spree on empty stock – Times Online

The group representing Britain’s social housing industry is in talks with the Government to free £1 billion of public money to help to bail out the new homes market.

The funds would be used to buy tens of thousands of mostly inner-city flats and family homes at a heavy discount from beleaguered housebuilders.

These properties were originally expected to be sold to private buyers but are now part-built or empty as the sector struggles to deal with the sharpest slump in sales for more than a generation.

The proposal from the National Housing Federation (NHF), the umbrella body for the UK’s housing associations, is under consideration by ministers at the Treasury and the Department for Communities and Local Government. If the package is agreed, it could kickstart the moribund housing market by buying at least 10,000 units. That would help the big housebuilders, whose share prices have collapsed over recent weeks amid fears that they will be unable to service their debts as cashflow dries up.

It would be really nice if someone a bit more economically numerate than me could maybe write some thing explaining why any coming housing collapse isn’t simply going to be the real opportunity to get on the property ladder that you’ve been waiting for – that, in fact, unless you have stacks of cash sitting around the house (and if you did, you’d likely have a house already, and thus be wrapped up on the downside of this thing) it’s not going to be any easier for you to obtain a lovely little 2 bedroom in Brooklyn or whatever than it was before. The housing crunch is structural, it has largely to do with mortgage rates, not underlying consumer demand. Have you noticed any fewer people milling about? Nope – everyone’s still here and everyone still wants a roof over their heads. The only winners will be those, say, emerging with their college degrees and a stack of dad’s cash to spend without financing. Oh, and property speculators. They’ll win because they always do.

Donc, maybe a little more thinking like the above and a little less hand-rubbing anticipation of the bargains to come. They won’t.

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June 20, 2008 at 9:26 am

Posted in economics, socialism