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The actor who plays the Know-It-All kid in the Polar Express looks exactly how I’d expect him to look

Eddie Deezen

His name is Eddie Deezen.

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Salman Rushdie’s next novel will be serialised on Substack

The Guardian [c]:

It will be a digital experiment in serialising fiction (“the way [it] used to be published, right at the beginning”) with new sections coming out approximately once a week over the course of about a year, he says.

A surprising number of the classics were originally serialised: Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers is the best known example, but there is also Madame Bovary, War and Peace, and Heart of Darkness. Rushdie references the experience of Samuel Richardson, who serialised his novel Clarissa in 1748.

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Cunningham’s Law

Ward Cunningham’s Wikipedia page:

Cunningham is credited with the idea: “The best way to get the right answer on the Internet is not to ask a question; it’s to post the wrong answer.” This refers to the observation that people are quicker to correct a wrong answer than to answer a question.

Cunningham was the inventor of the wiki with his ‘WikiWikiWeb‘, by the way.

Here’s a random interview [c] of him done by Dave Winer of Scripting.com. It’s a little basic and quite clearly recorded in a restaurant or bar after they’ve had a few beers. Still, might be worth your time.

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‘China to Cleanse Online Content That ‘Bad-Mouths’ Its Economy’

Bloomberg [c]:

China kicked off a two-month campaign to crack down on commercial platforms and social media accounts that post finance-related information that’s deemed harmful to its economy.

The initiative will focus on rectifying violations including those that “maliciously” bad-mouth China’s financial markets and falsely interpret domestic policies and economic data, the Cyberspace Administration of China said in a statement late Friday. Those who republish foreign media reports or commentaries that falsely interpret domestic financial topics “without taking a stance or making a judgment” will also be targeted, it added.

The move is aimed at cultivating a “benign” online environment for public opinion that can facilitate “sustainable and healthy development” of China’s economy and its society, according to the statement. It followed a draft proposal issued earlier Friday by the cyberspace regulator to regulate algorithms that technology firms use to recommend videos and other content.

One of the reasons I’m keen on direct indexing becoming more mainstream is so I can take countries like China out of my pension investment portfolio. I do want the diversification of a ‘world index tracker’, but it would be nice to take dodgy countries like China out of the pot.

And it probably wouldn’t even cost me anything. I mean that’s half of the reason I want to take it out! Sure, morally I disagree with China. But I also think they simply won’t perform in the long run.

They haven’t done especially well over the past 10 years:

Oh and in other China news, ‘China Slashes Kids’ Gaming Time to Just Three Hours a Week‘ [c]:

Gaming platforms from Tencent Holdings Ltd. to NetEase Inc. can henceforth only offer online gaming to minors from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Fridays, weekends and public holidays, state news agency Xinhua reported, citing a notice by the National Press and Publication Administration. The new rules, which limit teen playing time to three hours most weeks of the year, is a major step-up from a previous restriction set in 2019 of 1.5 hours per day, most days.

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Amazon’s Lord of the Rings TV show explained. What can they film?

Amazon Chronicles (Tim Carmody) [c]:

In his lifetime, J.R.R. Tolkien published two works of fantasy set in a section of the planet Arda called Middle-Earth: The Hobbit and then its multi-volume sequel The Lord of the Rings. While there are hints of other lands and ages in The Hobbit, it’s really in The Lord of the Rings that it’s decisively revealed that these stories take place at the end of the Third Age of Arda…

Over his life, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote and revised many stories about the First Age. These were collected and edited after his death by his son Christopher, and published in the books The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, Beren and Luthien, The Children of Húrin, The Fall of Gondolin, and others. It’s a rich and full mythology, and a television studio could take years to tell those stories.

Amazon has the rights to none of them. The Tolkien estate didn’t sell those. (And Amazon doesn’t have the Hobbit/Lord of the Rings-era stories either.)

What the Tolkien estate sold was the rights to the Second Age, but reportedly not the parts of those stories told in the books primarily about the First Age (the Silmarillion, etc.) At the same time, Amazon cannot contradict those stories either. Amazon’s series will have to be consistent with the Tolkien canon, while at the same time drawing on the vaguest, least detailed portion of it: genealogies, a few outlines of stories, and not much more.

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‘The Mormon Church Amassed $100 Billion. It Was the Best-Kept Secret in the Investment World.’

The Wall Street Journal [c]:

[Ensign Peak’s (The Mormon Church’s investment division)] assets did total roughly $80 billion to $100 billion as of last year, some of the former employees said. That is at least double the size of Harvard University’s endowment and as large as the size of SoftBank’s Vision Fund, the world’s largest tech-investment fund.

[…] Church officials acknowledged the size of the fund is a tightly held secret, which they said was because Ensign Peak depends on donations—known as tithing—from the church’s 16 million world-wide members.

[…] “We don’t know when the next 2008 is going to take place,”… “If something like that were to happen again, we won’t have to stop missionary work.”

During the last financial crisis, they didn’t touch the reserves Ensign Peak had amassed, church officials said. Instead, the church cut the budget.

[…] Whereas university endowments generally subsidize operating costs with investment income, Ensign Peak does the opposite. Annual donations from the church’s members more than covers the church’s budget. The surplus goes to Ensign Peak. Members of the religion must give 10% of their income each year to remain in good standing.

Dean Davies, another member of the ecclesiastical arm that oversees Ensign Peak, said the church doesn’t publicly share its assets because “these funds are sacred” and “we don’t flaunt them for public review and critique.”

Imagine being a Mormon. You’re not allowed to even drink coffee, and you’re required to give 10% of your income to the church. And then you find out your religion has an investment fund worth $100 billion. Although Mormonism has always been a joke of religion, so perhaps it’s fitting.

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‘UK truck driver shortage signals a broken labour market’

Financial Times [c]:

In 2010, the median HGV driver in the UK earned 51 per cent more per hour than the median supermarket cashier. By 2020, the premium was only 27 per cent. They have faced a particular pay squeeze in the past five years: median hourly pay for truck drivers has risen 10 per cent since 2015 to £11.80, compared with 16 per cent for all UK employees. “Why would I want to be a truck driver, with all the responsibility, the long, unpredictable hours, if I can go to Aldi and earn £11.30 an hour stacking shelves?” says Tomasz Oryński.

[…] As a result, the workforce is ageing. In 2000, there was an even split between over-45s and under-45s. Now the over-45s account for 62 per cent.

 

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Pictures

Dickens house

Something about this engraving of Charles Dickens’ house brings me peace. (via The Guardian)

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Landlord Lloyds

The Guardian [c]:

It is already the UK’s largest mortgage lender, and now Lloyds Banking Group aims to become one of its biggest private landlords, with a target of buying 50,000 homes in the next 10 years.

Each year property prices seem to rise, wages seem to stagnate and now Britain moves closer and closer to modern feudalism. (Can you tell I’m trying to get on the property ladder right now?)

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‘Hospitality crisis deepens chef shortages’

Financial Times [c]:

This week, more than 2,100 chef roles were posted within a five-mile radius of Soho alone.

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Choose an expert

I think about this quite a lot. I do my best to educate myself on subjects. But I’m no expert. At the end of the day all I’m doing is trusting an actual ‘expert’ and hoping I chose wisely. (via Alexey Guzey)

By the way, as of yesterday, I am now double vaxxed 🙂

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‘Ben Franklin’s bitter regret that he didn’t immunize his 4-year-old son against smallpox’

Washington Post [c]:

Five weeks had passed since the death of Benjamin Franklin’s son, and rumors were swirling. Four-year-old Francis “Franky” Franklin had died after being inoculated for smallpox, the rumor went, and now his pro-inoculation father was trying to hide it.

The gossip reached such a point that on Dec. 30, 1736, the grieving father, then 30, confronted it in the pages of his newspaper, the Pennsylvania Gazette.

“Inasmuch as some People are, by that [rumor] … deter’d from having that Operation perform’d on their Children,” he wrote, “I do hereby sincerely declare, that he was not inoculated, but receiv’d the Distemper in the common Way of Infection.”

It must have been hard to admit — Franklin had long advocated inoculation as a “safe and beneficial practice” — that his own son had gone unprotected.

“I intended to have my Child inoculated,” he explained, “as soon as he should have recovered sufficient Strength from a Flux [diarrhea] with which he had been long afflicted.”

More than five decades later, in his autobiography published posthumously, he said he had “long regretted bitterly, and still regret” that he had chosen to wait.

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Pictures

There’s always some dude inexplicably loving it

Afghanistan right now is being overrun by the Taliban. As they moved into the capital of Kabul [c] locals were attempting to escape the country on various aeroplanes at the airport. As planes filled up and doors were closed, desperate people even began to hold onto the outside of the place to escape.

Anyway, I noticed in one of the videos that there were a few people almost having fun:

And it reminded me a bit of scenes from the Bradford City fire:

It seems that no matter how dire the situation, there’s always some dude who inexplicably enjoys the drama of it all.

(Full video from Kabul below)

.mp4 copy

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Money

Just invest

Banker on Fire:

Remember: there’s never a time when the stock market looks like a good investment. Things are either “too scary” or “too good to be true”.

Transferring your hard-earned money out of your bank and into an investing account and then hitting that ‘buy’ button is always scary. Because there is always a reason to just stay in cash. But remember, the perfect time to invest simply doesn’t exist (without hindsight anyway). So simply understand your risk tolerance, choose the appropriate asset allocation, and just invest.