Mayor Boris Johnson

Dear god London, I leave you alone for 5 minutes and this is what you go and do! Don't make me come over there. (Seriously, don't. I'm having fun over here.) On the plus side, it will reduce the number of cracks about Arnold Schwarzenegger I get. At least he used to run a successful business.

MicroHoo: a temporary reprieve?

So Microsoft has walked away from the Yahoo! deal, and I'm glad, but cautiously. The tech blogosphere has been busily going apeshit since the deal was announced, so I'm loath to repeat too much into the echo chamber, but I want to give a brief summary of the situation as I see it anyway. Firstly, Ballmer made it clear that he walked away from the deal because Jerry Yang was going to make it too hard to do. This has two corollaries: first, some shareholders are going to feel like this was neglect of his fiduciary duties -- i.e., not in the best interests of the company -- and sue accordingly, especially if the stock nosedives on Monday (as is pretty widely expected). Secondly, it means that Ballmer would still like to do the deal, and a collapse of Yahoo!'s stock price would make it easier for Microsoft to come back later and try again. In fact, many are speculating that this is just a hardball negotiating strategy on Ballmer's part. I'm not so sure. I think Ballmer may actually be done with Yahoo!, because...
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Forgive me

John C. Dvorak weighs in on the Yahoo-Microsoft deal: Earth to Microsoft: Yahoo! is not worth $44 billion. You could buy General Motors lock, stock, and barrel for $14 billion, name all the cars "Google Sucks" and get more bang for the buck. Heck, you'd have enough left over to buy Ford for around $16 billion, and you could name all those cars "Google Sucks More" and still have $14 billion left over for a big party.
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Hillary Clinton, it's time to go.

Dear Hillary, You are a fine candidate. You have run a good campaign* and fought hard**, but the math is undeniable. Not only can't you win, you can't even catch up: you would have to win 84%-16% in every single remaining state to even approach catching up (thanks to Slate's excellent delegate calculator, a lovely little piece of engineering so good that every other commentator on the web is using it without modification). After tonight's surprise result, this is even more true. Nearly all the polls had you 5 or more points ahead in Indiana, and Barack only 5 points ahead in North Carolina. Instead, North Carolina was a 14-point blowout and you won only by the skin of your teeth in Indiana, with a 1.7% margin. It's time to concede defeat and drop out. Perhaps that's why you've cancelled all your public appearances tomorrow? We can only hope. Sincerely, L. * Though a bit complacent to start with. ** Maybe a bit too hard. Did you have to be quite that vicious?
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In cartoons there is often a moment when a hapless character, having galloped over a cliff, is still unaware of the fact and hangs suspended in the air, legs pumping wildly, until realisation dawns, gravity intervenes and downfall ensues. That's the Economist describing the current state of Hillary Clinton's campaign. Ouch. P.S. It's also a pretty complimentary article about Obama in general; I think they will endorse him for the general over McCain.
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Journalists do the best catfights

The latest entry in the fake diary of Steve Jobs is an excellent rant about why Dell will not bounce back. I agree with his conclusions, but I like it mainly because it opens with this hilariously bitchy paragraph: I love Charles Cooper of CNET and I respect the fact that he's got to print so many column inches per week in order to earn his paycheck but I have to take issue with his latest effort (see here) where he tries to argue that while Dell looks like crap today, in fact Dell could bounce back just the way Apple did. Coop is light on details and specifics and just sticks to the argument that "times change" and that "Dell has bounced back from previous stumbles so who knows?" This is what passes for "news analysis" at CNET? I'm sorry but the article is glib and facile and, frankly, this kind of hollow pap is the reason CNET itself is headed for the dustheap. This made me laugh, but c|net isn't doomed. It's just a low-margin magazine business, and always will be. You certainly can't blame their...
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Why I'm supporting Obama, redux

A friend of mine who I've not spoken to in a while contacted me on Facebook today and asked me, in essence: "Why do you support Obama over Hillary? Aren't they basically the same?" I started to give a brief reply, but bubbled over with a huge list of reasons. Since I get asked this question a lot, and the more general question ("Why is a white guy from another country who can't even vote volunteering for Barack Obama?") I figured I'd post it here. There's a lot of reasons. At a personal level, Obama just has a fundamentally more optimistic, positive attitude to politics. Hillary is a mean and dirty fighter and she's made a lot of enemies over the years; her ability to get things done is compromised by how fiercely some people oppose her, even within the party. Hillary knows how to play the game, but Barack wants to stop playing games altogether, and treat the public and politicians like grown-ups. At a policy level, he's also got a much better grasp of the issues that are going to be important in the next...

Good things this week

A lot of bad things happened this week, as they do all the time. Ongoing disasters like Myanmar's cyclone and China's earthquake spring easily to mind. But some good things happened in the last seven days, so I'm gonna talk about them. In reverse chronological order: Gay marriage became legal in California today, as a result of a Supreme Court decision which ruled that an earlier ban on it was unconstitutional. This makes it legal only at the state level, which still denies couples federal benefits*, and the marriages might all get annulled if a ballot initiative goes through in November to modify the state constitution to make it illegal again. But tell that to the thousands of people who turned up in the Castro tonight to celebrate. Mostly it was just an excuse for a party, with San Franciscans pulling their usual trick of manufacturing an instant parade, complete with a music truck, several DJs and hundreds of people in costume. However, in amongst them were couples holding hands, walking together,...

A Surprising History of the Caribbean

I recently finished reading A Brief History of the Caribbean, apparently one of the definitive works on general Caribbean history (I seem to recall it being a history textbook when I was at school, after I had stopped taking history). The thing about reading a history of the place where you live is that you discover you don't know the place nearly as well as you thought you did. All sorts of things that you take for granted because you grew up with them actually have strange and convoluted back-stories. Even more interestingly, I discovered that the sketchy history of the region that I had been taught in high school in Trinidad was a sanitized, almost bowdlerized version that exaggerated the role that Trinidad played and downplayed the less savoury aspects of our recent past. The first genocide: the Amerindians Even my sanitized high-school history was pretty clear about one point: when Columbus discovered the islands, they were inhabited by natives, and within a very short time they were all dead, of...
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Twitter does not have any competitors

I know it's kind of ridiculous to chime in on the ongoing bitchmeme about Twitter vs. Friendfeed vs. Google Reader(?) vs. Pownce but whatever, it's my blog and I'll whine if I want to. Let me be clear: nothing is going to kill Twitter because no currently existing service competes with it. I don't mean "they're not as good", I mean nobody is doing what Twitter does, and the sooner people realise this and shut the fuck up the sooner I will stop screaming at my iPhone as I read Techmeme. What does Twitter provide that nobody else does? SMS updates IM updates An XMPP (jabber) gateway The first and last of these are not convenient extras, these are the absolute foundation and the bright future of Twitter and why it is so useful, so flexible and so popular. SMS is the foundation of Twitter The most important, far and away the most important feature of Twitter is its SMS aggregation feature. It drives me insane that people don't seem to get this. Twitter doesn't require mobile Internet access. It works on...

No More Dates. Ever.

After being aggressively targeted by ads on Facebook, I eventually gave in and clicked on NoMoreDates, a service that professes to use advanced matching algorithms to find the people perfect for you. They make a big deal about being specifically about over-25, urban, professional types (hence the targetting on Facebook, one of the few places that can reliably distinguish to that level of detail). It's also specifically for people who are looking for something long-term, hence the name. You sign up, and fill in an exhaustive, hour-long survey about your personality, interests and temperament. You can do it in stages -- I did the first 10 minutes about a month ago, then finally was bored enough to finish it off tonight. At the end of all that, it was finally ready to search its database: You have no matches. Yes, I know. That's the problem you're supposed to be solving. It's been that kind of week (and it's only been 2 days of week so far).