Tag Archives: jon snow

Economic Doom and Gloom: A Starbucks Dystopia

20111203 Massage Chair Face 150x150 Economic Doom and Gloom: A Starbucks Dystopia

This picture of a massage chair was sent in by Tim. If only it had been framed a little lower it would have been perfect.  Are you sitting comfortably?

There was more economic doom and gloom this week and about a week ago I tweeted a story about the OECD predicting a double-dip recession for the UK in 2012.  The mainstream media reported the story two days later.  In George Osborne’s Autumn Statement growth for 2011 was slashed to 0.9% and the pension age raised to 67 –  fifteen years earlier than planned.  Public sector workers went on strike over pension arrangements, mistakenly believing they have the God-given right to be exempt from the Global Financial Catastrophe.  I don’t generally subscribe to Tory slogans and ideology, but did someone say, “We’re all in this together”?  Give that man a biscuit and his dog a cigar!  Most of us would be lucky if we could retire at all.

10 days until Eurogeddon

In another corner of Europe, EU Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn warned that we had “10 days to save the Euro”.  With previous warnings that another Eurozone country bailout would spell disaster for the global economy, this should have had us trembling in our boots.  The thing is, headlines like these are beginning to lose their impact.  It’s a bit like crying wolf, except there really is a wolf and it’s such a gigantic ravenous bastard, there’s nothing you can do; it will eat you and all your friends but no-one cares anymore.

But really, 10 days?  We have known about this crisis for months and we’ve had that long to do something about it.  Why the sudden self-imposed urgency that’s only going to aggravate markets when deadlines are inevitable missed?  Incidentally, those bilateral liquidity swap arrangements: did you see the markets jump on the news?  Utter nonsense in my opinion; I suspect we’ll see a “correction” in the near future (he says, writing as a bewildered cynic).

As I write, there is talk of a Eurozone fiscal union and an new EU treaty, which actually sounds quite exciting, particularly when watching a debate between Nigel Farage (UKIP) and Matt Hancock (Conservatives) on Channel 4 News last night, in which the Conservative Party looked refreshingly progressive, albeit because their hand is being forced.  Stability has to be good for the Eurozone and for Britain.

I’m keeping my eyes on the Italian 10- year bond yield, though.

Starbucks Dystopia

In a previous article I rhetorically posed the question about the end game in global economics.  Jon Snow of Channel 4 News fame recently tweeted that 2011 is the year the “expert” died, referring to the fact that no-one had predicted the Arab Spring.  By extension, there are so many so-called financial “experts” who have disparate outlooks; the gold bugs, the doom mongers, the profiteers like Alessio Rastani (who incidentally predicted a collapse of a large UK-based bank in early 2012 based on unconfirmed rumours in the city).  Max Keiser thinks we are all going to end up playing Zynga games in virtual gulags.

My dystopian vision for the future? Last week it was reported that November saw a decline in manufacturing, it being at its lowest in 2.5 years, whilst Starbucks announced it would create 5,000 jobs in the UK.  I reckon we will all end up working for Starbucks, serving each other coffee, the same coins going round and round in a poverty-inducing vicious circle, as we all become ever more addicted to caffeine.

Are you still sitting comfortably?

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Phantom of the Broom Cupboard

20110512 Smiling Speaker 150x150 Phantom of the Broom Cupboard

Musicals, plays or just plain music?

People seem to fall into one of two categories: those who like cats, those who like dogs, those who like neither or both and those who can’t count.  I call it a dyscalchotomy.

A similar trichotomy exists for plays and musicals, with the third option being people who like neither.  And then there are, of course, people who like both…  See?  I can’t count and I’m a Structural Engineer…

Plays vs. Musicals

I have seen a few plays in the last year or so – one amateur production and the rest professional.  These were Waiting for Godot (with Matthew Kelly and Ian McKellen), Far Away, A Christmas Carol and George Orwell’s 1984.

This is not a play review, so I’ll keep my opinion short and snappy: Waiting for Godot was an hour and a half of nothing but dialogue and 1984 was too “artsy minimalist” and unnecessarily shouty from the get-go.  I found A Christmas Carol and Far Away quite enjoyable, the latter even more so because Jon Snow of Channel 4 News fame hosted a discussion session afterwards.

A friend of mine doesn’t like musicals and once argued that he couldn’t suspend his disbelief like he can with film and plays.  As a result he would get bored and he thought all the prancing around was a little too camp.  I personally prefer musicals, not for the thrilling storyline, but more for the show and the live music and entertainment factor.  To me, it’s not about the story; I struggle to suspend my disbelief even with films and plays.

In a slightly oddball way, I’m glad I prefer musicals over plays.  If someone asked me the question, there’d be no risk of accidentally – and incorrectly – proclaiming, “Oh, definitely plays – I’m a ‘play-boy’, me!”  which just sounds wrong…

I’m definitely a musicals man – oh and for the record, I prefer cats (the animals, that is).

Fancy Dress 

In Britain we seem to have an obsession with fancy dress.  I don’t know what it is, but it was never that common in the Netherlands – at least when I lived there.  In Dutch there is a saying, which translates loosely as “Act normal – you’re crazy enough as you are!”  And they say the British have a stiff upper lip!  I believe a playful culture breeds great comedy and we definitely know one or two things about that over here.

I have been invited to a birthday party, the theme of which is characters from musicals.  The birthday girl suggested I dress up as Erik from The Phantom of the Opera, so I thought I’d try it out.  Have a look at two of my costumes below, one as Erik and one as a character from Hairspray.  What do you think?

 20110512 vic hairspray musical Phantom of the Broom Cupboard20110512 vic phantom of the opera Phantom of the Broom Cupboard

From musicals to plain music

As I said above, I love live music, which probably explains why I like musicals.  I didn’t really dig Miss Bollywood, which I saw several years ago.  I was slightly disappointed because the music was all pre-recorded and even the singing wasn’t live.  It was basically an hour and a half of dancing and miming to a mix tape.

Bristol, England is a great place for live music and one of my favourite haunts is The Old Duke.  For my non-Bristol based readers, The Old Duke is a pub in the historic city centre of Bristol and is situated on an old cobbled street.  They have live jazz/blues every night of the week and it is totally free of charge.  You do have to pay for drinks and they do come round with a collection bowl, but donations are entirely voluntary.  Last weekend I was at The Old Duke’s sister pub on Gloucester Road called The Golden Lion, which I never knew existed.  That is where I saw a smiling face lurking in one of the speakers. It was upside down, though.  Thinking about it, it’s a bit of an unfortunate metaphor.  It seems to suggest that music turns your smile upside down – or worse still: your entire face!!  What could it possibly mean?  Discuss…

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