March 2012

Lobbyists, Guns and Money

Paul Krugman:

We seem to be turning into a country where crony capitalism doesn’t just waste taxpayer money but warps criminal justice, in which growing incarceration reflects not the need to protect law-abiding citizens but the profits corporations can reap from a larger prison population.

Scary yet unsurprising story about how organisations like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) are not only supporting, but writing wholesale legislation to benefit their corporate benefactors.

Of course, if it’s happening in the US, it’s happening here in Britain too. Indeed, I was reminded of this fascinating article by Adam Curtis, which charts the rise of the political ‘think tank’:

If you go back and look at how they rose up – at who invented them and why – you discover they are not quite what they seem. That in reality they may have nothing to do with genuinely developing new ideas, but have become a branch of the PR industry whose aim is to do the very opposite – to endlessly prop up and reinforce today’s accepted political wisdom.

Our political leaders are no longer interested in the concerns of the electorate and increasingly led by lobbyists – regardless of what destruction (societal, economic, environmental…) may result from their policy suggestions.

It surely can’t carry on like this, can it?

The Journey

A new pair of jeans, the reignited love for a city and an inevitable answer to a surprisingly surprising question. Just some of the artefacts collected during two weeks in America.

On The Road Again

On The Road Again

Once again, I’m in Austin for SXSW Interactive; the forth time I’ve attended an event I find easy to disparage. Yet this is the first stop on a trip that will take in several hundred miles of Interstate highway between here and San Francisco; two points of familiarity on an itinerary that promises to be anything but predictable.

DuckDuckGo

Not a week passes without there being a controversy involving Google. If they’re not pilfering a Kenyan business directory, then they’re jumping into bed with opponents of net neutrality or subverting default cookie settings. Even if you ignore these concerns, it’s hard to deny that their search engine is starting to suffer too. Fortunately, there’s an alternative.

Middle Class Memories

Heritage Lawn was an embarrassingly lavish name for a desperately average cul-de-sac. Yet, in and around a maze of opulently named cul-de-sacs, a few areas of wilderness remained.