Iraq and the Long Tail of conflict

If you are not familiar with the concept of The Long Tail, I recommend that you head over to Wikipedia or the original article and learn about it, because it's really fascinating. If you want the executive summary: the principle behind most of the web's biggest success stories, such as Amazon, Google, Netflix is that real-world ventures must limit their inventory to the top-selling items, and their profit is concentrated there, while online ventures can have vastly larger inventories, and so the bulk of their profit shifts instead to the huge catalog of less-popular products. It springs from the statistical observation of a Pareto Distribution: there is equal volume under, for example, the first 10% of the graph as the remaining 90% of the graph*. Most companies have traditionally concentrated on the first 10%, but new companies are being enormously successful by finding ways to serve the remaining 90%. One venture that's been pretty successful recently is international terrorism, and it struck me...
0 comment

Bank Error

A couple days ago I checked my statement at my bank and noticed that I'd been charged twice for something -- the reason I noticed being that the charge was from the unusually named (but really good) Busaba Eathai. So I dropped my bank an email via their secure messaging system, part of their online banking. Today the second charge has been refunded, as well as another duplicate charge that I'd failed to spot -- with no reply from the bank, either in notification or apology. Some questions: Does this happen a lot? Has this ever happened to you? How can this happen at all? I assumed, when I thought it was a single charge, that the restaurant had accidentally pressed the button on the credit card machine twice. But the second charge is from a completely unrelated store, and on the same day, so some kind of error happened at the bank itself. Anyway, well done to HSBC for promptly returning the extra £80 they'd taken, not so well done for the lack of an apology. Check your statements, kids. Also:...
tagged with
4 comments

Your unexpected fact for the day

One of Keira Knightley's earliest roles was in Star Wars Episode One. She was the Queen's decoy. Under all that makeup, no wonder nobody recognized her.
0 comment

Baby Pandas

Officially the cutest known form of life.
tagged with
4 comments

DJ

The company Christmas party is tonight, and the wild'n'crazy theme chosen by popular vote was "Black Tie" (damn you, reserved British culture!). So now I have to rent some sort of clothing. Is there such a thing as a non-boring dinner jacket? An stylish tuxedo? If so, where does one find such a thing? Answer in the comments ASAP, please, as I have to rent the damn thing this afternoon. Comments along the lines of "oh, but tuxedos are already stylish!" or "suits look great!" will not be accepted. They may look good on other people. I look like a trapped monkey. However, I'm having a terrible feeling about this. From the website of Moss Brothers Rental: The great thing about black tie ... is that it is so easy. It doesn’t demand a great deal of choice, or even much fuss for that matter. It is, essentially, a uniform, and it is very hard to get it wrong. Aaaaaaaaaargh! I hate uniforms! I demand choice! *sob* :-(
13 comments

Party!

I'll bet you 50p that our Christmas party was more fun than your company's. Unfortunately, the suit looked stupid, although that was pretty much a given. Luckily it got taken off very early on in favour of dancing a lot with my co-workers, who were making considerably more efficient use of the free bar than I was. A good time was had by all, I think. Somebody left with my extremely expensive, very new, wonderfully warm winter coat though(!) :-( I hope a company-wide email retrieves it tomorrow or I shall be a sad panda. Also, it's 3am and I'm still awake. I have consumed near-toxic levels of caffeine. Luckily, thanks to the joy of hangovers I am still going to be one of the most alert people at the office tomorrow. Update: Coat was returned by some woman from finance who was very cagey about how it came into her possession. Bless drunk people.
tagged with
9 comments

The Lion Roars

Now that is how I like my epics. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe absolutely kicks epic fantasy butt. This is not a movie based on the book, this is the book brought into rich, textured, magical life. It sucks you in slowly, letting you gradually suspend your disbelief until the appearance of a pair of talking beavers is not a surprise so much as an expectation. The visuals are, of course, the biggest treat. The wintry waterfall, the house of Tumnus, the lamp post in the middle of nowhere, the wonderfully choreographed battle are all brilliantly imagined and spectacularly executed. And while the visuals are amazing, the movie by no means relies on them. The four child actors put in generally credible performances (the rather delectable William Moseley being one to look out for in future. He's 18, so it's okay to fancy him, but he was born in 1987, so it somehow still seems wrong...). But the show is well and truly stolen by the Winter Queen. Tilda Swinton kicks great big, heaped buckets of ass...
tagged with
4 comments

Geek fact for today

King Kong cost more than $207m to make. That's a huge amount of money. But actually, the only reason movies sounds like they’re constantly getting more and more expensive is because of inflation. The Elizabeth Taylor version of Cleopatra cost $45 million in 1963 (a low estimate). According to this handy purchasing-power calculator, that’s worth $270m in today’s money. Far more expensive than King Kong. And King Kong isn't even close to the most expensive film ever made. At the moment, that title is actually held by Harry Potter and the goblet of fire. At $308m, it cost nearly 50% more than King Kong, and more than was spent making all three Lord of the Rings movies. All of this, of course, has absolutely no effect on my desire to see the great big monkey film, which remains at peak.
4 comments

The Sky at Night

At 6am this morning housemate T was startled awake when all her north-facing bedroom windows rattled simultaneously. When I got up later, a large grey cloud was visible to the north, and it drifted slowly over our house for the rest of the day. That was this thing: Who needs terrorist attacks when we can cause enormous, devastating explosions by accident? Luckily, there have yet to be any fatalities and even the number of injured is less than fifty. We also went to see that Jon Stewart thing tonight. It was a bit "meh"; I'm glad we bought the cheap tickets -- it was not so much Jon Stewart as a lot of reading from the book, although Ricky Gervais walking on halfway was a nice surprise. I have a cold, so I'm off to bed early-ish -- it would have been early, but I'm at the beginning of season 6 of the West Wing and currently very exciting things are happening to my favourite character. Reading: Misspent Youth, Peter Hamilton. Not his best, but nice concepts. Eating: pigs in a blanket...
tagged with
0 comment

Christmas Spirit

Hot chocolate, unwrapped presents, Christmas lights... even if it was in Waterstone's, it felt like Christmas. Packing: for Trinidad on Thursday morning Feeling: A little bit sneezy Ready: For my vacation
tagged with
0 comment

Off to the tropics

It's Christmas holiday time! Next post hopefully from Trinidad. Must remember to pack camera... I'm back in time for New Year's Eve, so do include me in your plans...
1 comment

Low-fi reality

Hello people. I'm extremely relaxed and not doing anything of note. Internet access here is painfully slow, so pictures will get uploaded when I get back. I have a few blog-worthy thoughts but I'll probably write them offline as we go from Trinidad to Tobago tomorrow, and it is likewise short on broadband...
tagged with
1 comment

I'm back, baby!

I'm rested, fit, tanned Belami orange and haven't talked to a man who is not an immediate blood relation of myself in two weeks. It is imperative that someone take me out clubbing immediately. After I've had a few hours sleep, anyway. 273 photos taken this holiday; a selection will turn up on my flickr stream as soon as I've got some sleep. I've also done some offline blogging that will hopefully turn up over the weekend after I transcribe it. Update 1.45pm: Awake again now. It seems while I was gone Google's imagebot has spidered the whole site; I am getting shedloads of trafffic from lost souls looking for a picture of Orlando Bloom.
2 comments

Comedy photo of the day

Adding further weight to my suspicions that CNN's picture editors have a sense of humour, CNN writes a story about exploding fireworks factories, and illustrates it with a photo of some guy who looks like Wile E. Coyote just after he's accidentally had a cigarette in front of a petrol depot:
2 comments

The Year in Blog

I was going to write a year-end review, but I realised: I have absolutely no memory; I can't remember what I did last week, so how can I write a review of 12 months? Luckily, I blog most everything important that happens to me. So this year's review will be produced mainly by referring to earlier blog entries. I wrote 256 entries entries this year -- roughly one every 33 hours -- so it's pretty comprehensive coverage, and my most active year for blogging yet (by about 30 entries over 2003). It's not quite the one entry per day I resolved to do, but hey, it's 72% of that goal, which makes it a first-class effort. January It started out bad, with everyone still reeling from the tsunami I made my resolutions, and kept none of them. But man's reach must exceed his grasp, I'm sure. I comprehensively photoblogged my vacation in Trinidad I also reviewed 2004, half-heartedly. February Met American Boy J. He's back in the US now, but I promise he's very memorable. Also in the above post, I...
tagged with
0 comment