Monday, December 15, 2014

Those formidable bank robbers


"The Calabrian family gangs (again the meaningless journalistic term ’Ndrangheta blurs their diversity) who delivered the cocaine northwards were and are incapable of coping with the reverse flow of used euros, zlotys and rubles. Their first need was to pay the Colombian suppliers, who refused to accept cash because it was no good for investing in Miami real estate or local hotels and restaurants. The Calabrians needed real money: not bundles of paper but deposits in bank accounts that could be wired to the Colombians. Their second need was to have their own laundered money, to invest in property: Umbria became a particular favourite, as did the high streets of major cities. Ignorant of foreign languages, unfamiliar with international banking practices, the semi-literate Calabrians could supply cocaine to distributors but turned to the Sicilians to launder their profits. With a century of experience in the export trade and the fluent English of educated men, the Sicilians organised the system – still operating today – that sends banknotes from Calabria to Beirut, Dubai, Kaliningrad and other places where money-changers will accept vast sums in many currencies, paying for them with personal cheques that can be deposited in local banks. Funds can then be wired to commercial accounts in Western Europe, perhaps by way of an additional passage (Cyprus was a favoured way until the Sicilians were scared away by those formidable bank robbers the European Commission and the ECB)."

The Honoured Society

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dog Eat Dog

Just got my copy of this delightful game:

"Dog Eat Dog is a game of colonialism and its consequences. As a group, you work together to describe one of the hundreds of small islands in the Pacific Ocean, defining the customs of the natives and the mores of the outsiders arriving to claim it. One player then assumes the role of the Occupation force, playing their capable military, their quisling government, and whatever jaded tourists and shrewd businessmen are interested in a not quite pacified territory. All the others play individual Natives, each trying in their own ways to come to terms with the new regime. The game begins when the war ends. Through a series of scenes, you play out the inevitably conflicted relationship between the two parties, deciding what the colonizers do to maintain control, which natives assimilate and which run amok, and who ends up owning the island in the end."
A Game of Imperialism and Assimilation in the Pacific Islands

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Those who cannot afford justice must do without it

"Maybe we are an overly litigious culture, too quick to insist on our rights and unwilling to compromise in the face of reasonable disagreement. Maybe many disputes are made worse by the legal framework within which they operate. Maybe. But Clarke and Grayling didn’t plan to kill all the lawyers. Instead, the plan has been to place law out of the reach of the poor."

Necessity or Ideology

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Interstellar - Main Theme



Parts of the piano/organ reminded me of Philip Glass's "Koyaanisqatsi".

Tinkerbell

"Fact is, when I see the eagerness of Western supporters to celebrate the Hong Kong democracy movement, I reminded I’m still waiting for the Asian Edward Said to write about the West’s need to frame, appropriate, and validate its 21st-century concept of the “Orient”—and self-validate its own values, attitudes, and increasingly embattled sense of superiority—by defining, parsing, and condemning the mainland Chinese Other it chooses to observe across the Pacific."
Clap Harder or the Hong Kong Tinkerbell Gets It!

Monday, November 03, 2014

The singular accomplishment that is Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri

When I think of the watersheds of thought, SMAC stands out as something that enabled intense engagements with ideas.

Its value as a cultural artifact should be judged by its ability to successfully go beyond entertainment and wish fulfillment. And in so succeeding, SMAC changed the outlooks and expectations of a whole generation.



Wednesday, October 22, 2014

To defend inequality, and make acceptable the status quo

"... this is an establishment that has had experience of not being the establishment, although it has always drawn most (though, crucially, not all) of its membership from the ruling class. It ‘is made up – as it has always been – of powerful groups that need to protect their position in a democracy in which almost the entire adult population has the right to vote’. These groups are ‘amassing wealth and aggressively annexing power in a way that has no precedent in modern times. After all, there is nothing to stop it.’"

"Most startling to our descendants will be that ‘this was passed off as normal, as entirely rational and defensible,’ and that ‘institutions run by the elite’ had ‘considerable success’ in redirecting ‘people’s anger to those at the very bottom of society’."


Who will stop them?

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Longevity

"... when pundits discuss the future, the excitement around driverless cars and nanotechnology gives way to long faces when the topic moves to human longevity. It may be nice to live longer, but what about the effect on the economy? The question is absurd. Economic growth is about giving people more choices, and no choice is more earnestly sought than the chance of a longer life"