The perils of photography

by Chris Bertram on September 17, 2007

Eszter blogged a couple of days ago about the rather addictive project that she and I are engage in over at Flickr. There are lots of changes to my perception of the world, along the lines suggested by Dorothea Lange’s words “A camera is an instrument that teaches people how to see without a camera”. But not all of that change in awareness is perceptual. I’ve come to realise just how much petty harassment people suffer for pursuing a fairly innocent hobby. The worst I’ve had to put up with myself is being pestered by a security guard for photographing university buildings. But many people in London get stopped by the police and questioned under terrorism legislation. Generally, this isn’t much more than a minor annoyance, but there are places where it is much much worse. One guy, who was present at our last Flickr meet in Bristol, is a teacher working in Thessaloniki, Greece. He was brave enough to take some pictures of the Greek police on a demonstration. This earned him a dislocated shoulder, fractured nose, multiple bruising and smashed glasses. Story and pictures “here”:http://teacherdudebbq.blogspot.com/2007/09/beaten-for-taking-this-picture.html .

Catechisms and cliches

by Henry on September 17, 2007

Alan Wofle (no, sorry, I mean _Wolfe_ ) is quoted in the “New York Times Review of Books”:http://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/16/books/review/Donadio-t.html?ei=5088&en=8eccc04ecbaf21ee&ex=1347595200&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&pagewanted=print

As Alan Wolfe puts it, “Everyone’s read ‘Things Fall Apart’ ” — Chinua Achebe’s novel about postcolonial Nigeria — “but few people have read the Yeats poem that the title comes from.”

Having just written a post with a title taken from that poem in the assumption that many/most CT readers would get the allusion, I perhaps have a little too much skin in this game to be entirely objective. But this seems to me to be a frankly bizarre assertion (about the poem, not the Achebe novel). The poem is so well known that minatory prognostications about slouching towards Bethlehem have passed beyond cliche into kitsch – Christopher Hitchens had a very funny review of one of Conor Cruise O’Brien’s books a few years ago which belaboured it, _inter alia,_ for trotting the rough beast out yet again (I wonder: does it ever chase after the owl of Minerva when it’s let out for its night-time pee???). Am I wrong here? Are there vast multitudes of the canon-educated public, which is what Wofle (damn! I did it _again_) is supposed to be talking about, who _don’t_ know Yeats’ poem?? I’d find it surprising (but I’ve surely been wrong about many weightier things than this).

Via “The Valve”:http://www.thevalve.org/go/valve/article/a_clai/.

Microsoft gets clobbered

by Henry on September 17, 2007

Microsoft received a very significant setback this morning – its appeal against anti-trust actions taken by the European Commission was rejected by Europe’s Court of First Instance (with the exception of one, more or less unimportant aspect of the Commission’s oversight regime) (NYT story here, Court press release “here”:http://curia.europa.eu/en/actu/communiques/cp07/aff/cp070063en.pdf. This is a very interesting ruling, not only for the EU but for US markets as well. While Microsoft can (as it has done in the past) continue to sell tailored products for the European market only, it is likely to find its business model quite significantly constrained by the threat of future action. More detailed analysis below the fold … [click to continue…]

its hour come round at last

by Henry on September 17, 2007

Those interested in John’s post below should also take a look at Cosma Shalizi‘s long awaited, long heralded, post on econophysics, which went up yesterday. Following quickly on the heels of part IV of “dsquared’s Freakonomics review”:http://d-squareddigest.blogspot.com/2007/09/freakiology-yes-folks-its-part-4-of.html, this is surely a sign that End Times are upon us (biblical authorities seem to disagree on what the Third Sign is going to be; I leave plausible speculations thereon as an exercise for the reader).

Rationality and utility

by John Quiggin on September 17, 2007

Over at Cosmic Variance, Sean Carroll offers some admittedly uninformed speculation about utility theory and economics, saying

Anyone who actually knows something about economics is welcome to chime in to explain why all this is crazy (very possible), or perfectly well-known to all working economists (more likely), or good stuff that they will steal for their next paper (least likely). The freedom to speculate is what blogs are all about.

[click to continue…]

Lost

by John Holbo on September 17, 2007

Here are some follow-up thoughts to my long story arc TV post. Let me step back and take in the bigger picture. Seasonality. It’s pretty weird that it makes sense to try to deduce what is going on in a war from long-term seasonal trends. This is one way in which TV and foreign policy differ. In the TV case it is perfectly fine – good, even – to indulge in long arc story-telling. Things don’t always have to make a bit of damn sense, episode by episode, so long as there there is a satisfying up and down, up and down, in the long term. But foreign policy seems different. [click to continue…]