Linky Love: 25th January 2010

1) Torrent Freak – Pirates are the Music Industries best customers:

Once again the music industry has come out with disappointing results for physical music sales, which they blame entirely on file-sharing. What they failed to mention though, is that their findings show that music pirates are buying more digital music than the average music consumer. Since digital music is the future, pirates are the industry’s most valuable customers.


Compared to music buyers, music sharers (pirates) are…

  • 31% more likely to buy single tracks online.
  • 33% more likely to buy music albums online.
  • 100% more likely to pay for music subscription services.
  • 60% more likely to pay for music on mobile phone.

These figures (as reported by the music industry) clearly show that file-sharers buy more digital music than the average music buyer. In fact, the group that makes up the music buyers category actually includes the buying file-sharers, so the difference between music sharers and non-sharing music buyers would be even more pronounced.

2) Matthew Taylor -Good News is No News:

On the face of it last week contained two really good bits of news. First, there was unemployment apparently peaking at nearly half a million fewer people than most analysts, including the Government’s, were predicting this time last year. Second, the crime stats showed an 8% headline fall, again defying the widespread prediction that there would be more offences committed during the recession.


I am sure the Government wishes more attention was being paid to the good news, and hoping an effect might show up in the opinion polls. If so, ministers will have been disappointed to open Sunday newspapers, brimming not with glad tidings but endless analysis of the child assaults in Edlington, plus pages of speculation about how the current and previous Prime Minister will perform in the Iraq inquiry. But it’s not so much the politics that interest me.


It’s a cliche that the news focuses on bad things. [But] so wedded are we now to social pessimism that we are unwilling even to acknowledge that as a country we appear to have become both more economically resilient and socially responsible. If we don’t take in the good news we will be even less able to deal intelligently with the bad.

3) Hagley Road to Ladywood: Can evil always be explained?

With the shocking case of the Edlington attacks coming to court, I’ve lost count of the number of hacks and politicians explaining what turned those two children into “monsters”.

David Cameron was quick at pointing the finger at “Broken Britain” and all that is “going deeply wrong” in society under Labour… To be fair, Robert Reiner is even more pathetic. In his view, the fault lies with “the key aspects of neo-liberalism”, he writes in today’s Guardian, adding that “the embrace of unfettered free-market economics by [Cameron’s] party in the 1980s and by their buddies around the world” is to blame… David Wilson follows similar lines. “Boy torturers were already tortured”, is the headline to his article in the Guardian. He insists that the two torturers already experienced a background lined with neglect, that they were even allowed to watch porn or gory films like Saw and that they often witnessed their aggressive father in action. All ingredients that would make 3/4 of the UK population potential “monsters” then.


However, what if -for once- we stopped our finger pointing and quit digging up explanations at all costs? Can pure evil always be explained? Could it be that the responsibility lies solely with the perpetrator and that the irrational, inexplicable evil streak that runs through humankind sometimes cannot be deciphered?

4) Skeptical Science: On the reliability of the US surface temperature record:

The website enlisted an army of volunteers, travelling across the U.S. photographing weather stations. The point of this effort was to document cases of microsite influence – weather stations located near car parks, air conditioners and airport tarmacs and anything else that might impose a warming bias. While photos can be compelling, the only way to quantify any microsite influence is through analysis of the data. This has been done in On the reliability of the U.S. Surface Temperature Record (Memme 2010), published in the Journal of Geophysical Research. The trends from poorly sited weather stations are compared to well-sited stations. The results indicate that yes, there is a bias associated with poor exposure sites. However, the bias is not what you expect.


Poor sites show a cooler maximum temperature compared to good sites. For minimum temperature, the poor sites are slightly warmer. The net effect is a cool bias in poorly sited stations. Considering all the air-conditioners, BBQs, car parks and tarmacs, this result is somewhat a surprise.


Does this latest analysis mean all the work at has been a waste of time? On the contrary, the laborious task of rating each individual weather station enabled Memme 2010 to identify a cool bias in poor sites and isolate the cause. The role of is recognised in the paper’s acknowledgements in which they “wish to thank Anthony Watts and the many volunteers at for their considerable efforts in documenting the current site characteristics of USHCN stations.” A net cooling bias was perhaps not the result the volunteers were hoping for but improving the quality of the surface temperature record is surely a result we should all appreciate.

5) Stumbling and Mumbling: The Markets Blurt it Out:

Why have bank stocks reacted badly to President Obama’s proposals for a Glass-Steagall II? In principle, these plans are intended to make banks less risky – which should be good for share prices, not bad. It’s not because the plans introduce uncertainty into the future of the industry. The uncertainty was there all along, and not least of the uncertainties is whether the plans will come to anything at all: EoC says “there’s zero chance” of the proposals becoming law. This should have mitigated equities’ response. So too should the fact that equity analysts’ reaction has been quite mixed.


Here’s my theory. Stock markets have acted as if the leftist critique of banks is correct. In marking down bank stocks, they seem to believe that traders don’t possess great stand-alone skills but make money only thanks to the good fortune of having a big bank behind them. They also seem to think that banks have for years captured the state and used it for their own purposes.

6) Richard Kim: IMF Clarifies Haiti’s loan conditions:

As the IMF announced its $100 million loan [for Haiti] under vague and presumably onerous terms, debt relief activists like the folks at Jubilee USA were already calling for a different kind of global response. They were demanding that aid to Haiti come in the form of grants, not loans. But given the magnitude of the crisis and the fact that the IMF does not issue grants, they welcomed the IMF loan in the hopes that its terms could be altered in the future and that Haiti’s entire debt could be canceled. At the same time, Naomi Klein and others warned about the possibility that the earthquake would be used as a pretext to amp up Haiti’s exposure to the shock doctrine. Activists started a Facebook group, No Shock Doctrine for Haiti, and over the course of less than a week, it has attracted almost 18,000 members. Appeals for debt relief and for the recognition of Haiti’s economic sovereignty were written to the Obama administration, the IMF, the World Bank and anyone else who might play a role in Haiti’s reconstruction.

Today, the IMF put out an announcement clarifying the terms of its new loan to Haiti–it’s “an interest-free loan of $100 million in emergency funds.” A spokesman for the IMF told me that “the US$100 million loan does not carry any conditionality. It is an emergency loan aimed at getting the Haitian economy back to function again…” The IMF’s managing director Dominique Strauss-Kahn said in a statement that the IMF would immediately work to cancel the entirety of Haiti’s debt ($265 million) to the fund:

“The most important thing is that the IMF is now working with all donors to try to delete all the Haitian debt, including our new loan. If we succeed–and I’m sure we will succeed–even this loan will turn out to be finally a grant, because all the debt will have been deleted.”

In other words, as the IMF is processing a loan, it is also making a public promise to try to cancel it.

7) Jack of Kent: A Bible Without Verses?

Bible verses, however, are relatively new: the versification of the New Testament, in particular, dates back only to the 1500s. For one and a half millennia, the Christian churches managed happily without any such organising method to their sacred texts.


We could, even today, have Christianity and the bible without verses, or chapters.


A lack of versification would also tend to undermine the idiotic wrenching out of context by many Evangelicals of certain passages in Leviticus and elsewhere.

Christian fundamentalists would probably be at a loss without this (artificial) versification: they would actually have to take the books of the bible seriously, and not just their favourite sentences.

8) Giles Wilkes has some useful links on Macroeconomics.

9) Meanwhile, Devil’s Kitchen has a Libertarian Roundup for your delectation.

10) Radiohead – True Love Waits