November 2010

Ireland…

by Limbic on November 26, 2010

Brilliant Paul Krugman on the Irish fiasco.

The Irish story began with a genuine economic miracle. But eventually this gave way to a speculative frenzy driven by runaway banks and real estate developers, all in a cozy relationship with leading politicians. The frenzy was financed with huge borrowing on the part of Irish banks, largely from banks in other European nations.

Then the bubble burst, and those banks faced huge losses. You might have expected those who lent money to the banks to share in the losses. After all, they were consenting adults, and if they failed to understand the risks they were taking that was nobody’s fault but their own. But, no, the Irish government stepped in to guarantee the banks’ debt, turning private losses into public obligations.

Before the bank bust, Ireland had little public debt. But with taxpayers suddenly on the hook for gigantic bank losses, even as revenues plunged, the nation’s creditworthiness was put in doubt. So Ireland tried to reassure the markets with a harsh program of spending cuts.

Step back for a minute and think about that. These debts were incurred, not to pay for public programs, but by private wheeler-dealers seeking nothing but their own profit. Yet ordinary Irish citizens are now bearing the burden of those debts.

Or to be more accurate, they’re bearing a burden much larger than the debt — because those spending cuts have caused a severe recession so that in addition to taking on the banks’ debts, the Irish are suffering from plunging incomes and high unemployment.

But there is no alternative, say the serious people: all of this is necessary to restore confidence.

From: Eating the Irish – NYTimes.com

{ 0 comments }

Bare breasts for immigrants

by Limbic on November 13, 2010

From Politik:

Immigrants seeking to come to Denmark should watch movies with bare breasted women in them, believes [the Danish Folks Party].

Danish People’s Party’s foreign spokesman Peter Skaarup, is annoyed that no Danish girls with bare breasts are in the “Denmark” movie, part of the new immigration test, which comes into force on Monday.

Topless women on a beach would be a good illustration of Danish liberalism, he said.

“If you come from a strict religious community, perhaps it is something you just could trim a little over and think, oh no, it will not help us,” says Peter Skaarup.

‘Bare breasts would be a way to make clear that one might find on a Danish beach. “

Peter Skaarup has not yet even seen Denmark film. But one of DF’s employees have reported on the lack of breasts.

[The] Denmark film will be used as preparation for the immigration test, which all those seeking family reunification, from next Monday need to pass. The test was inspired by a similar Dutch example, and in that movie there were topless women.

The film is little more than a half hour long and available in Danish and 18 other languages. It can be seen on the Immigration Services website nyidanmark.dk

My first reaction to this was one of derision. This was the same Danish People’s Party that condemned a Danish tourist video depicting a woman looking for the father of her baby from a one night stand.

Whilst I appluad the intention of making the point to newcomers that Denmark is a liberal, tolerant and free country, I think that showing bare breasted women to make the point is both futile and unwise.

Apart form the fact that some people will be genuinely offended by it, it may be counter-productive by cheapening the great tradition of European liberty to mere sexual freedom and nudity.

I also think that whilst language requirements and tests are good idea, citizenship courses are a gimmick. They are token efforts offerd by governments to show they are getting tough on immigration, but they obscure the real serious issues and unpleasant truths.

Immigrants are not integrated by a video, or a citizenship course, or even speaking the local language fluently. There needs to be a strong culture of both expectation and accommodation in the host culture.

40 years of multiculturalism has led turned the opportunity that immigrants offered Europe, into the nightmare of failed integration, ghettos, social unrest, crime and alienation that is the storey of so many of Europe’s immigrant communities.

There is something faintly sad about the Danish People’s Party and its plans. The noble objective of preserving Europe’s magnificent tradition of tolerance and
freedoms is mostly in the hands of intolerant and most
reactionary populists. Here they are exhorting Europe to flash her tits to make a point about how free she is, whilst it is more likely to simply reinforces the widely held racist stereotype of European women being easy sluts.

The immigration debate has been mired in dogma and orthodoxy for years. Its time for all sides to break out of their outdated ideological positions and address this most serious off issues with the gravity, urgency and honesty it requires.

{ 0 comments }

Real artists ship

by Limbic on November 11, 2010

Lovely post by matt Mullenweg on just getting it out there and shipping. This whole shipping/bias-to-action/cult-of-done meme has exploded since Seth Godin revived Stephen Pressfield’s (“The War of Art“) cult status in “Linchpin“.

But I the first person to introduce me to the idea was another Apple alumni, Guy Kawasaki, in his book “Art of the Start“. I have referred to the ship it ethos as the Kawasaki model for years.

…if you’re not embarrassed when you ship your first version you waited too long.

…Usage is like oxygen for ideas. You can never fully anticipate how an audience is going to react to something you’ve created until it’s out there. That means every moment you’re working on something without it being in the public it’s actually dying, deprived of the oxygen of the real world. It’s even worse because development doesn’t happen in a vacuum — if you have a halfway decent idea, you can be sure that there are two or three teams somewhere in the world that independently came up with it and are working on the same thing, or something you haven’t even imagined that disrupts the market you’re working in. (Think of all the podcasting companies — including Ev Williams’ Odeo — before iTunes built podcasting functionality in.)

By shipping early and often you have the unique competitive advantage of hearing from real people what they think of your work, which in best case helps you anticipate market direction, and in worst case gives you a few people rooting for you that you can email when your team pivots to a new idea. Nothing can recreate the crucible of real usage.

From: 1.0 Is the Loneliest Number — Matt Mullenweg

{ 0 comments }

Brutal Ireland

by Limbic on November 4, 2010

Hard to read story of one man brutalised by Irish gangsters, culminating in the murder of his son. A must read to understand just how far removed modern Ireland is from the myths of the diaspora:

The catastrophic chain of events began six years ago in one of Collins’s pubs, with the refusal of a drink to a 14-year-old girl. Wayne Dundon, the Limerick gangster, took offence and made a graphic death threat to Ryan, Steve and Carmel’s nephew and adopted son. Twenty-nine minutes later Ryan was shot and maimed by a man in a crash helmet wielding a .45 Magnum. Their family’s evidence, given after careful consideration, sent Dundon down for 10 years. The payback was the murder of their son Roy, last year, by a Dundon gang member.

Meanwhile, the family business is in melt-down. Collins’s €15 million property portfolio, including three pubs and a casino, built up by the former electrician and his family over 20 years of 18-hour days, is hardly worth a third of that now, he says.

One thriving pub was burned to the ground a month after Dundon’s imprisonment; three pipe bombs were planted at a second, cutting business by half; a third left the family too exposed, so it has been rented out. The casino is closed. A price remains on Collins’s head and on those of his two Limerick-based sons.

So why haven’t they cut their losses and joined the witness-protection programme? Because there isn’t one, apparently.

From: ‘I didn’t expect to lose a son. The guards took their eye off the ball’ – The Irish Times – Sat, Aug 21, 2010

{ 0 comments }