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pregnancy diet June 30, 2008

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Well, hello, turns out that what you eat when pregnant may affect the foetus. On the other hand, if you have to work two jobs to make a living, maybe it’s not so simple to eat healthy.

margaret drabble, property and finance in the 1970s (or why don't we learn from the past?) June 14, 2008

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I have been enjoying Margaret Drabble’s The Ice Age. Although some things have changed since 1977 when the book was published, there’s some resonance with the current financial mess:

What had happened to those days of easy money in the early seventies, what had happened to the boom, to all those spectacular profits? Why had all the confident experts been so taken by surprise? Anthony had been seduced and corrupted by these confident experts into believing that profits would go on multiplying forever, unlikely though that had always seemed. Go for growth, had been the slogan, and everybody had gone for it. Now some were bankrupt, some were in jail, some had committed suicide, and only the biggest had survived unscathed. Casualties of slump and recession strewed the business pages of the newspapers, hit the front page headlines. Old men were convicted of corruption and hustled off to prison, banks collapsed and shares fell to nothing.

eu-us summit June 10, 2008

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The EU-US summit takes place in Brdo today. The programme mentions talks, but also shows lots of opportunities for the taking of photographs. And there’s a special Ladies Programme too for the spouses of the leaders. What would they call it if one of the leaders were a woman? The men get to do masculine stuff like visiting the Lipizzaner riding school programme and meeting members of the armed forces. The ladies get to do feminine stuff. This isn’t bad – they go to visit an interesting sounding exhibition at the National Gallery of Slovenia and then afterwards Mrs Bush and Mrs Turk go to the National Museum of Slovenia and participate in a debate about student volunteering, while Ms Bacovnik and Mrs Barroso get to visit a breast cancer centre.

alan swan June 8, 2008

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It is a very sad day, as I learned that my colleague, Alan Swan, died earlier today.

the iconography of michelle obama's purple dress June 8, 2008

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The New York Times suggests a symbolism for the purple colour of the dress:

it was particularly the color Michelle Obama chose Tuesday night that seemed symbolically rich, even if its message may have been so subtle as to be subliminal.
“I don’t know if that’s something they consciously thought about,”said Mr. Anthony, referring to the fact that purple is, as every schoolchild knows, created by mixing the primary colors red and blue.

But purple has other connotations – for example, it is associated with royalty, nobility and wealth – a colour redolent of leadership. I certainly don’t think she is preparing for a purple-wearing old age in this sense.

virtual world machinima June 8, 2008

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It’s intriguing that different vws work out differently as the background locations for machinima music videos. With WOW you get a sense of the characters in the songs, even if the characters’ movements and gestures are stock movements with little range. But the runescape characters are so small and the perspective on the scenes makes the characters seem so far away that there’s little hope of being able to relate to the characters in the songs at all.

runescape code monkey 2 June 8, 2008

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what about money June 7, 2008

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The FSA has a new website with financial advice for young adults, called what about money?. The Press Release announcing the website states:

In building the website, the watchdog has engaged with young adults and asked them what information they want, how they want it provided, and who they want it from. The site is broken down into life stages and subjects that young adults told the FSA that they were most interested in….
This young adults website has been developed in partnership with YouthNet — a charity with expertise in communicating with this age group — on some of the content. The site also links to the FSA’s main consumer website — www.moneymadeclear.fsa.gov.uk — which aims to cut out confusing jargon and give consumers the impartial facts about financial products and services, helping them to make informed decisions.

The website has forums for discussion, and links to online resources available at other websites. It is advertised as impartial financial information, but is not completely separated from financial firms. For example, the site links to resources at Get Safe Online, a site which describes itself as being “sponsored by the British government and leading businesses to give you free, objective advice”. One of the leading business sponsors is HSBC. I find the format a bit clunky – because they have decided to point readers to resources in various places rather than setting out information on the one site it isn’t very easy to find exactly what you might want to know. The moneymadeclear site is much better organised in this respect (many of the resources linked to are in fact here). But if millenials really aren’t into linear thinking, perhaps this format works for the target readership.

runescape code monkey 1 June 7, 2008

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uk banking regulation reform June 6, 2008

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The Chancellor in Parliament yesterday:

Yes, the banking reforms are necessary, but we have just finished a period of consultation and spoken extensively to banks and other institutions about the reforms that we need. We want to get the reforms right, and the overwhelming view of the British Bankers Association, which is working co-operatively with us, is that we can see where we want to get to. We need to get the detail right, but I intend to introduce legislation during this parliamentary Session. I hope that that legislation will receive all-party support, because the sooner we get it on to the statute book, the better. Of course, the Banking (Special Provisions) Act 2008 that we put on the statute book following the taking into public ownership of Northern Rock will help, in that it provides powers that the Government and the other authorities simply did not have before then.

I’m sure we all feel a lot better now.