Pizza Hut Rebranding

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Pizza Hut has rebranded as 'The Hut', with a logo and name that now look more like a low end mid century modern furniture store than a pizza chain.

It true that the original logo was both awful and dated, but so does the new one. By European standards, The Hut looks very 1990s.

Pizza is an iconic part of American culture, much more so than Italy, where pizza may have originated but doesn't have the same history. This design could have been so much better if it had some how paid homage to that history in the manner than countless small, family pizza joints do effortlessly and subconsciously.

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Greenwashing Iran

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[ Andrew Sullivan posts a Churchill style Victory V, to symbolize Obama’s response to Iran. Unfortunately, it’s shown from the back, and where Churchill comes from this means “fuck off”. ]

Twitterers are twatting, 10 a second, in breathless support of Iranian democracy, painting little icons green and spewing vapid, cliche ridden, 140 character essays which represent the general level of depth and understanding of Persian politics.

The general train of thought seems to be this – we have democracy, democracy is good, Iranians want democracy, Mousavi says he represents democracy, he must be good.

Except nothing is quite that simple.

The Iranian election results are weird, and they look rigged in the details. In the overall outcome, however, they do not look rigged – Mousavi was always way behind even in polls by neutral foreign observers.

Mousavi may indeed look like the moderate, but these things are relative. He may not have called for the extermination of Israel in the manner of his odious opponent, but he was involved in killing 30,000 political opponents, supporting the US Embassy hostage taking and Prime Minister of a repressively religious regime. Sure, he might be reformed, but resumes with their listings of past achievements are important when looking for a job at McDonalds let alone running a country.

But then again, the Khomeini regime was put in place in ’79 by majority will, to replace a brutally repressive and corrupt secular dictator, the Shah. On one level it was a triumph of a democracy, on another it was a democratic installment of the anti-democratic, as happened tragically in Algeria. Democratic election of the undemocratic is to tolerate intolerance.

The Shah was put there by the US and UK. A democratic Iran would not be a triumph of America bringing democracy to the world and more than it would be a triumph against America and the UK who paid street gangs with bundles of cash to beat the crap out of people and start the coup which ousted the democratically elected leader in the 50s. Coincidentally, it was my former room mate’s father who organized the coup.

Perhaps the twatting is understandable, Iran, after all, has a notably young population gagging for reform and Mousavi seems up for it. But unless you are Iranian the sentimental support on social networks normally remarkable for their transient superficiality smacks of fashion rather than reason, like sticking a Che Guevara poster on a dorm room wall.

In particular lets not get carried away as Andrew Sullivan does for The Atlantic:

“The rejection of al Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan; the ground-up election of Obama in America; and now the rising up of Iranians for freedom and civility with their neighbors: these are the green shoots of recovery from 9/11 and its wake”.

These are pendulum cycles, and elsewhere like in Britain, Holland, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria etc. they are swinging back to the right. This is not an Obama trend and if it were it wouldn’t represent an American trend because the American influenced trend in the region is not democracy.

A more sober Tweet might be: we have democracy (but we took it away from Iran), democracy is good (unless you elect anti-democratic people), Iranians want democracy (Iran has elected un-democratic people before), Mousavi says he represents democracy (he didn’t used to), he must be good (if you believe what he says now rather than did in the past).

But, of course, you can’t say something like that in 140 characters.

In the end these things are relative, as the image at the top of Sullivan’s post, accidentally and ironically shows. It displays two fingers, painted green, in a Churchill style Victory V under the heading “Obama’s Response”.

Unfortunately it is photographed from the back, which, where Churchill came from, traditionally means “fuck off”.

A Suitcase Currency Nuke

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Last week, a pair of middle-aged Japanese men were caught trying to smuggle a single suitcase into Switzerland that contained bonds representing the world’s 4th largest US debt (more than all of the UK and just short of Russia). One alarming theory was that they were Japanese government agents on mission to dump dollar assets before others realized and joined in, thus devaluing any remaining assets. These were bonds, James Bonds.

American officials confirmed the notes were forgeries, but it has fueled conspiracy theorists and dollar doomsayers – since, well, they would say that, wouldn’t they.

The sheer strangeness of the story is perhaps at least symptomatic of volatile times for the dollar.

More details here.

The Farce of Europe

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Andrew Brons, a UK Fascist, once a member of a group that bombed synagogues has been elected as a political representative of an organization (European Parliament) which has no mandate to govern and where it is illegal to promote race hatred, irrespective of freedom of speech.

He is a European MP who wants to dismantle Europe, voted for in an election where 60% of people couldn’t be bothered to vote.

In other words, Europe is being governed by a body which can’t govern, by politicians which break its own laws as policy and advocate its own destruction.

Welcome to Europe, a place where nobody lines the street to wave a European flag and where politics is turning towards flag waving nationalism of the most egregious kind.


Science reinvents the economy: The human factor

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“Purely mathematical approaches to the economy have a big drawback: the irrational behaviour of people.”

This seems like nonsense. Are people more chaotic than the weather?

Most things are chaotic, and provably unpredictable at the micro level, but that does not make them unstudyable, in terms of mathematics. Secondly, people are clearly not totally irrational, so one might expect the rational behavior of people to be the unusual feature in an otherwise totally chaotic system.


A Soho Loft Answering Machine from 1992

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answer phone tape

Jim Nachlin has a site with a collection of transcriptions of his audio cassettes. My favorite is the answering machine from the Soho Loft that he grew up in from the 70s. In a complete reversal of today, NY outside was scary, but lofts were cheap enough to ride a bicycle inside.

This is the answering machine tape from my parent’s place at 46 Great Jones Street.

It won’t be of much interest to you if you’re not Maggie Nachlin, Wendy Young, Jason Leaf, Matt Israel, Ben Posnack, Sonya Newell, Isabel Pippolo, Lisa Townsend Rogers, Mikaela Frank, Doug Margolis, etc. (or David Galbraith)

The place was two lofts, the third and fourth floor, of an 1880s factory building, in which my sister Maggie and I grew up. My parents bought them in 1970 or 1971 when they were cheap and their friends said “why the hell are you moving all the way over there”, so let that be a lesson to you, real estate speculators, not that you haven’t learned it already. It was great growing up there. New York in the late 70s and the 80s sucked, so I spent a lot of time indoors. I learned to ride a bike in there. These were big apartments.

46 Great Jones Street answering machine

Model Shows Quack Remedies Spread Precisely Because They Don’t Work

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“Ineffective treatments don’t cure an illness, so sufferers demonstrate them to more people than those who recovery quickly after taking real medicines.”


A mathematical evolutionary fitness model was used with variables for a treatment’s:

Rate of adoption and abandonment.
Odds of recovering naturally or dying.

Starting from one person demonstrating a treatment, either fake or real, it measures the rate of spread.

Fake things that people want to believe often cannot be absolutely disproved (particularly if they are placebos, like homeopathy or religious treatments such as praying), they spread better because treatments and evangelizing periods are longer since they do nothing, and people are not good at measuring success.

Situations where evidence is more likely to be persuasive, such as recurring diseases, tend to weed out quackery more naturally.

Clearly this has important implications for all sorts of areas from steak knife peddlers to management consultants and therapists.

If the model applies generally, for example, therapists would be more successful if fraudulent or bogus.


FTSE Takes Worst Ever Fall

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The dismal performance by the London stock market leaves City high-flyers facing much reduced bonuses and foot soldiers fearing thousands of redundancies…With no obvious turnround in sight some of the gloomiest market watchers are making comparisons with other share meltdowns such as the 1929 crash. The FTSE 100 index is now down 43% from the peak reached on New Year’s Eve 1999.

Wall Street traditionally enjoys a late rally in the last couple of weeks of December but this time the fillip failed to materialise. The Dow is also ending down for the third consecutive year. The Nasdaq has dropped even more sharply, recording a 31% drop this year.

The Dow has now suffered a cumulative fall of almost 38% since January 2000, compared to a slide of 45% during the 1970s oil crisis and an 89% drop during the depression of the 1920s and 1930s.

This was 2003, right in the middle of the UK housing boom and a 15 year stretch without a recession. The point being that things can get better quickly, but that the UK markets still have a long way to drop, relative to the gravity of the downturn.