More Meet For the Social Networking Grinder


I received an email today from the development director of a new social and business networking site called Co-unite based in Altrincham, a town in the Cheshire ‘stockbroker’ belt between Chester and Stockport. They had apparently culled my name from existing sites that I has subscribed to.

In the mail I was offered “We will provide you with a free 12-month subscription and would just ask for you to visit the site on a regular basis after the launch, invite some of your business or social contacts along and provide us with some monthly feedback on the site performance. We can ensure you that you will be impressed with the features and functionality, and will greatly benefit from this membership.”

Little bit perturbed by the free 12-month subscription statement that implies it may get expensive afterwards unlike LinkedIn, Orkut or AlwaysOn Ziabatsu.

Some of their own words about Co-unite “This exciting new site takes a global approach to networking using a complex contact management application that identifies your connection to other Networkers. We believe it will be the most comprehensive networking site ever launched with the industry’s most advanced communication tools including Voice over IP.” So the project is buzzword compliant for any vulture capitalist with some pennies burning a hole in their pocket.

The sites launch follows the demise of some of the UK’s first generation of networking sites: BuddyNetwork and Pollen, so we’ll see how they go.

Police Not Relying On British Summer To Deter Ravers


An old clubbing pal of mine from Birkenhead Si forwarded on this interesting article in the Western Morning News. According to the article police are preparing to use the wide ranging powers of the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2003 to clamp down on unauthorised open-air gatherings, in conjunction with provisions already made by sections 63 – 67 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act 1994. With its definition of music as an emission of a succession of repetitive beats, thus allowing unscheduled opera performances but not young peoples music.

While I can understand people’s concerns over noise I am more concerned about the right to associate, freedom of expression (by speech, music or visual media) and the two standards allowed in the law making ‘ravers’ second-class citizens.

And politicians wonder why so many voters are apathetic?

May it have something to do with:

– the persistent erosion of voters rights?

– a lack of clear differentiation between many of the social policies of both major political parties?

– legislation that no longer represents the social mores of much of the electorate?

– a collectively small amount of life experience amongst professional politicians, the significant majority of which are trained lawyers?

– a cynical political process that means that politicians go after softer targets rather than dealing with the big policing issues in the UK, such as organised crime, rise in violent crime, white collar and corporate crime?

Si also generously included a link to lots of information on free parties here, just remember its free as in speech; the parties do cost money to put on.

RAVE ON!

Counterculture Boutique


I’ve had a number of links sent to me that were too good not to share with you all. A veritable boutique of counterculture:

– Donkey Bong

JoeCartoon clogged up many networks in the late 90’s with his un-PC and puerile flash animations, creating characters like the Cheech & Chong ‘Stoned Fly’ and Gerbill. The most memorable animations like the frog in the blender and gerbil in the microwave allowed office workers to unleash the passive sadism that lies beneath us all and put the phrase Who’s ya Daddy? into popular English usage. His work has defined what a viral campaign is. He is back with another dollop of surreal weirdness and ultraviolence. More on it here.

– Graff Jewelry

No not Graffthe most fabulous jewels in the world, but graffiti enabled by the reverse setting on a diamond ring by Tobias Wong. Get caught making use of your ring to make your mark on the world by tagging car and train windows, luscious pearlescent paint work on a TVR or your boss’ computer screen. You can see Tobias’ diamond project here.

– American Public Money Spent on Vanity Corporate Film On Adult Entertainment industry

OK, we are currently pitching for a UK-based adult entertainment orientated television channel and web site, this this website designed to complement a PBS Frontline documentary on the adult entertainment industry was useful for research into the business . Seriously though, looking at this, there are some scary people out there, interesting facts – a starlet in the industry has an average career lifespan of just 12 months. Sombre, disturbing and yet compelling reading here. Glamourous like Boogie Nights it ain’t.

– Jump Up & Get Down Massive Scene!

Email text from Supercharged Records: “Click on the link below to hear an exclusive preview of all the tracks from the forthcoming Freestylers ‘Raw As F**k’ album!

Turn audio off on the front page and click on ‘album info’ and then ‘preview album’

 

http://www.thefreestylers.com/

We would also like to take this opportunity to say thank you to all of you how have purchased Push Up. Thank you!

The album is out in the UK on the 5th July, contact you local record store to pre-order a copy!”

Hudson Institute Economic Update


This was originally posted to the email list for interesting-people.org.

IRWIN M. STELZER 21 June 2004

When markets talk, politicians would do well to listen. The oil markets are doing more than mere talking — they are shouting for the attention of policymakers who seem determined not to listen.

First, we have the recent run-up in crude oil prices, which fluctuate around $40 per barrel. That rise was in part due to the fabulous growth of the U.S. and Chinese economies, which sent demand for oil soaring. But a further driver is OPEC’s manipulation of the market, creating a situation in which rising demand cannot elicit the increased supplies that would flow in a competitive market.

Lesson number one for policymakers: it is no longer prudent to ignore the OPEC cartel, or to rely on it for mercy. Trust busters have had time to worry about less important price conspiracies — the commissions charged for selling old master paintings is less likely to affect the economy than is a conspiracy to fix oil prices — but have shied away from attacking the OPEC cartel. Now would seem to be the time for the voice of the Antitrust Division to be heard above that of the State Department, ever-eager to avoid a diplomatic row with the house of Saud.

The markets are also saying something about the state of the gasoline market. The margin between crude oil prices and gasoline prices has doubled in the United States, driving refining profits up several hundred percent. Yet, refining capacity has not increased. Oil industry executives with whom I have spoken say that environmental and other permitting restrictions make it virtually impossible to build new refineries. Lesson number two for policymakers: restrictions that were appropriate when crude oil was selling for $10 per barrel and gasoline for $1 per gallon are not economically sensible at current price levels. Revise them to allow more refineries to be built.

These are important messages from the market. But not as important as the persistence of the so-called risk premium of between $5 and $10 per barrel that seems to be built into crude oil prices. Part of that premium is a response to the continued disruption of supplies from important producers. Terrorists in Iraq periodically sabotage that nation’s pipelines. Unrest and violence in Nigeria, Africa’s largest producer, make that country an unreliable source of oil. Islamic terrorism casts doubt about the reliability of supplies from Kazakhstan.

Add self-inflicted wounds by important producers. Russia, which rivals Saudi Arabia as the world’s largest producer, Vladimir Putin and his old KGB buddies have frightened foreign investors by jailing the country’s richest oil baron, Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Venezuela’s Castro-loving president, Hugo Chávez, has replaced the nation’s skilled oil industry managers with political appointees, causing a loss of 500,000 barrels per day of production from that important supplier of the low-sulfur oil most suitable for use in U.S. refineries. Iran’s mullahs have stifled the foreign investment that Iran’s oil industry so desperately needs.

But even these multiple threats to a steady flow of oil pale by comparison with developments in Saudi Arabia. The Kingdom sits on 25% of the world’s known reserves, but that figure understates its importance. The Saudis can tap their reserves for over 80 years without slowing output. And it is well known that the Saudis haven’t really attempted to explore for new reservoirs because they already know precisely where some 260 billion barrels are located. “You don’t plant potatoes when you have a cellar full of spuds,” a grizzled denizen of America’s “oil patch” once told me. Not only are the Saudis sitting on the largest known reserves, and on the cheapest, most easily discovered as-yet “unknown reserves,” they are also the only country in a position to increase production quickly should some other supplier be knocked out of action.

But Saudi Arabia is no longer the stable rock in a turbulent Middle East sea. The terrorists funded by the Saudis have turned on their benefactors, and are killing foreigners to cause a flight of oil-industry and other trained personnel. They are winning because they seem immune to capture, because many top Saudis insist that it is the Zionists, rather than Al Qaeda, that are causing the mayhem, and because hundreds of thousands of unemployed youths see no future for them so long as the royal family siphons off the nation’s wealth to support its opulent lifestyle.

Whatever the reason, it is far from certain that the corrupt geriatrics who run the country will be able to head off the threat to the Saudi industry’s ability to produce a steady flow of oil. True, the production facilities are well protected, but by troops of uncertain loyalty. And pipelines are difficult to protect, as are port facilities.

Final lesson for policymakers: prepare for the day when bin Laden and associates are in a position to topple the Saudi regime and withhold supplies of oil, causing a major economic trauma in industrialized countries and a humanitarian catastrophe in the undeveloped world. That means continuing to build strategic reserves, but much more. Alternative sources of energy for transportation uses cannot be available in the relevant time frame, if ever; places such as Alaska take a long while to develop, and anyhow don’t have enough oil to matter; renewables such as solar and wind power are not replacements for gasoline; conservation can be useful when prices rise gradually, giving consumers time to adjust to higher prices, but not when there is a price explosion.

I was asked many years ago at a gathering of government and industry experts to lay out an energy policy for America, to cope with a supply interruption. Two words: “aircraft carriers.” That remains true today. Iraq is not a war for oil. The next U.S. intervention in the Middle East may well be.

A version of this Update appeared in The Sunday Times (London)

Irwin Stelzer is a Senior Fellow and Director of Economic Policy Studies for Hudson Institute. He is also the U.S. economist and political columnist for The Sunday Times (London) and The Courier Mail (Australia), a columnist for The New York Post, and an honorary fellow of the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies for Wolfson College at Oxford University. He is the founder and former president of National Economic Research Associates and a consultant to several U.S. and United Kingdom industries on a variety of commercial and policy issues. He has a doctorate in economics from Cornell University and has taught at institutions such as Cornell, the University of Connecticut, New York University, and Nuffield College, Oxford.

George W Bush Election Campaign Site


Not….