Bond, James Bond: A good book will never say die

Lost and Found Books

Skyfall, the 23rd James Bond film, has already attracted huge audiences and rave reviews in Britain and around the world. It opens November 9th here in Canada and the US (release dates here).

A night at the movies with the dashing 007 is what I consider a good reason to get a babysitter:

Skyfall is not based on one of Ian Fleming‘s original James Bond books–it is an original screenplay, which will not be turned into a novel. But it continues the exciting story of 007, the handsome and brave intelligence officer who works for the British Intelligence Service — known as MI6. Fleming based the character on a number of secret agents and “commando types” whom he met while serving in WW2.

Fleming was a dashing figure, who lived and played hard just like his famous character.

But unlike 007, Fleming died young (28 May 1908 – 12…

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Why Does Running Water Make You Want To Pee?

How Measles Made a Comeback

Is it merchandising that drives gender bias in Hollywood casting?

Iron Man 3 changed the gender of the film’s villain from female to male after pressure from the production company Marvel, which feared toy merchandise would not sell as well.

This is a rather frank admission of what drives gender bias in Hollywood casting decisions. Its customer preferences – customer discrimination. It was not nasty producers and directors choosing not to hire women.

It was producers and directors casting a movie that might sell at the box office given what the box office wants. The great majority of box office sales is outside of the USA and US cultural values, interests and concepts of humour.

Hollywood is a cutthroat market where producers and directors do do whatever it takes to make their movie sell at the box office. But would not last very long if they indulge their personal preferences at the expense of the box office.


Not every movie has the merchandising potential of action films but they still have to pay careful attention to what audiences want to avoid having produced a run of flops and never get financing again.

That is not made any easier by the first law of Hollywood economics, which is nobody knows nothing. Audiences have a constant demand for novelty but they do not know what they want delay see it.

Just watched The Sting in full for the first time

I recorded the Sting the other day. When I replayed it, I discovered that I have never watched it from the start. I must have  watched it when it came on by chance on late-night TV and always started about the 10 minute mark and never noticed this oversight.

Greece in a monetary union: Lessons from 100 years of exchange rate experience, 1841-1939

Mostly Economics

Greece’s troubles on economic front are hardly anything new. They are as old as it gets.

Matthias Morys sums up the experiences of 100 years since 1841-1939.

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Where did all the farmers go when the tractors came from their jobs?


Source: How Machines Destroy (And Create!) Jobs, In 4 Graphs : Planet Money : NPR.

Natalie Bennett’s Best Bits | Gaia Fawkes

Source: Natalie Bennett’s Best Bits | Gaia Fawkes

What happens when the tax credits go?

Flip Chart Fairy Tales

UK citizens are among the the least likely in the EU to be trapped in poverty according to ONS statistics released yesterday. Around 6.5 percent of the UK population is in persistent poverty, compared to an EU average of 10.4 percent.

The report uses the EU’s definition of poverty as an equivalised disposable income of less than 60 percent of the national median. Persistent poverty is where people fall below that measure in the current year and at least 2 of the preceding 3 years.

The figures show that, while the percentage of people in overall poverty in the UK broadly tracks that of the rest of the EU, the persistent poverty rate is lower and has been falling since the recession.

Persistent and overall poverty rates, UK and EU average, 2008 to 2014, percentage total population


The reason for this is that, while the UK has relatively high rate of entry into…

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The Treasury on immigration policy

croaking cassandra

The other day Treasury released a 29 page set of slides put together in September 2014 for an internal “Immigration Policy Forum”.   The Forum discussion –  probably gathering all the key people in Treasury –  seems to have been designed to help Treasury come to a “clearer shared position on immigration policy”.  For a time, at least, there seemed to be two schools in Treasury –  a “microeconomic wing” championing the gains to New Zealand from immigration policy, and a “macroeconomic wing” –  perhaps somewhat influenced by some of my arguments –  uneasy about the possibility that the macroeconomic pressures (eg on real interest and exchange rates) resulting from high target rates of non-citizen immigration might be impeding New Zealand’s medium-term economic performance.

I’m not entirely sure why Treasury chose to release these slides now.  They aren’t a response to an OIA request, but may have been prompted by my recent OIA…

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