The Null Device
With Britain facing a general election this year, the New Labour Party faces a bloodbath, with many MPs expecting to lose their seats. Given the poorly state of the economy and job market, perhaps it's not surprising that 52 MPs have applied for peerages, which would entitle them to places in the House of Lords (now more like the House of
Tony's Gordon's Cronies), from now until they breathe their last, without all the bother of having to win elections or be accountable. You can't make it up.
Guardian correspondent and self-styled "new media whore" Paul Carr investigates the last.fm/CBS/RIAA rumour, comes to some somewhat ambiguous conclusions:
Fact One: Last.fm is innocent.Chances are, Carr writes, the rumour was a hoax, sent in to TechCrunch for some uncertain motive:
Fact Two: And yet, there are certainly trust issues between some at Last and some at CBS.
Fact Three: Techcrunch is not full of shit. Any more.
Fact Four: Techcrunch made every attempt to verify the story.
The answer, as I head towards my penultimate paragraph – the one in which a columnist is suppose to tie everything up with a neat conclusion – is that I don't know who's to blame. And neither does Last or Techcrunch. Something is still missing and sources at both companies remain equally baffled at why so much effort would go in to smearing one or other of them. Only one man, or possibly woman, can say for sure what the truth is – Techcrunch's original tipster. And, wouldn't you know, he or she has since vanished off the map, despite Techcrunch offering both anonymity and expensive legal representation.
To figure out the current state and direction of the global economy, economists are turning to somewhat unusual indicators, such as the membership of extramarital infidelity websites and the price of prostitution in Latvia:
The Web site crunched its traffic and membership numbers and found that there was a big increase in both when there was a turning point in the FTSE-100 index, which measures the leading companies listed in London. When the market collapses, people plot affairs. And when the bulls rage, the same thing happens. When it is trading sideways, they stick with their partners.
“It has to do with people’s confidence levels,” says Rosie Freeman-Jones, a spokeswoman for the site. “When the markets are up, they think they can have an affair because they feel they can get away with anything. When the market hits the bottom, they are looking for a way to relieve the pressure.”And here is more information on the prostitution index, and why prostitution prices make a good economic indicator.
Anyway the problem is that most industries have contractual arrangements which fix prices. Wages are very hard to flex downwards. Rents are fixed over sustained periods and the like. All of this means that people go bust rather than reduce prices – simply because prices are sticky.
Well – most prices. The contractual terms of prostitution are short (an hour, a night) and entry to the industry is unconstrained. That means that the prices are very flexible. Extraordinarily flexible.