How much is music worth?

Universal’s spin is that they’re going to give away music downloads to defeat the file sharers. It’s not true. To understand why the Spiral Frog announcement is important you need to understand what Apple’s iTunes Music Store has done to the music industry. iTunes is important for all sorts of reasons, obviously but – as… Continue reading How much is music worth?

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Morality and Labour Mobility

Labour mobility is a good thing. That much is economic orthodoxy. It spreads wealth and makes economies more efficient. In Britain, over the last two years, we’ve been experimenting with the limits of labour mobility. As a result, we now know that if you open your borders to poorer states their more enterprising young citizens… Continue reading Morality and Labour Mobility

Elstein loses it

Everybody says David Elstein is clever. I’ve met him once or twice and he’s certainly an entertaining critic of TV and media in general – a real Maverick from outside the liberal public service media consensus. So it’s disappointing to learn that he’s turned into a silly old git. In this week’s New Media Age… Continue reading Elstein loses it

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Scientific curiosity in action

Space scientists have been preoccupied for a while with the tantalising prospect of life in the ultra-cold oceans and ice-sheets and deserts of the solar system’s rockier lumps. Their readiness to believe that organic life might thrive even in these nasty, inhospitable places has got earth’s biologists thinking about life here. If there could be… Continue reading Scientific curiosity in action

What’s the point of inheritance tax?

The trouble with defending inheritance tax is that it’s impossible to do so without sounding like a miserable, money-grubbing pensioner-basher (although I suppose you’re actually bashing the kids). The best its defenders can manage is the obviously contradictory: “It’s worth £3Billion per year and hardly anyone pays it anyway.” The tax systems of the world… Continue reading What’s the point of inheritance tax?

Three new planets: astrologers not bothered

Of course it turns out that the planetary scientists opted not to demote one planet but to promote three new ones. Brilliant. I can see Michael Hanlon’s Daily Mail story already: “Dumbing down is out of control: now even frozen lumps of rock qualify as planets. What next: asteroids?”. Remarkably, it looks like the new… Continue reading Three new planets: astrologers not bothered

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What is profiling?

Psychologists, ethnographers, market researchers, coppers: correct me if I’ve got this wrong. I think profiling works like this. You start by watching the behaviour of lots of people (more likely a representative sample). From your laborious, systematic observations, you infer characteristics so that you can say, with some certainty, “this behaviour = this characteristic”. Then… Continue reading What is profiling?

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It’s planetary correctness gone mad

The Mail‘s Science Editor Michael Hanlon can be relied upon to recruit even the most obscure and disinterested branch of science to the cause of rampant political correctness. Today he takes on the ‘loony’ planetary scientists who want to ‘demote’ poor Pluto, removing the plucky planetoid from the list of proper planets all together. He… Continue reading It’s planetary correctness gone mad

Reuters and Photoshop

I’ve met Tom Szlukovenyi, Reuters Gobal Picture Editor, a few times and almost all we talked about was his practically pathological hatred of ‘photoshopping’ and all other kinds of doctoring, fixing, enhancing and otherwise fiddling with his precious news photographs. The idea – spread by the warbloggers and by the Israeli media – that he… Continue reading Reuters and Photoshop

Media bias?

Peter Wilby failed to endear himself to British Jews whilst editor of the New Statesman, what with that stupid Star of David cover and everything. Still, his media column in the redesigned mag is always worth a read – cynical, funny. This week’s piece examines allegations of bias in the British media from both sides… Continue reading Media bias?

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