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Vast distances 

Felix Salmon has a very lengthy post about Japan. It defies summary, but it’s well worth reading. And, in what must be a record for most disconnected consecutive weblog posts (assuming someone keeps a record), his sister Rhian writes a truly poetic reflection on immensity from her Antarctic base.

Economically trivial 

I love Martin Wolf’s no-nonsense economic rationalism. His column in the Financial Times today (subscribers only) argues for a relaxation in Britain’s planning regime so that more houses can be built, particularly in the crowded, desireable southeast of England. He is particularly agitated by the uneconomic dominance of farmland in much of southern England.

I can just imagine the Nimby brigade and the rural romanticists spluttering in their morning coffee.

“In 2003, according to the final report on housing supply from Kate Barker of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, land in residential use in the south-east of England was over 300 times more valuable than agricultural land — at £2.76m per hectare against a mere £9,122. This negligible value for agricultural land is not surprising. Even at inflated market prices, farming generates only 1 per cent of gross domestic product. At world prices, its contribution cannot be much more than half that. Yet 68 per cent of the UK’s total land area and even 57 per cent of the south-east’s is devoted to this economically trivial activity.”

Internet rights and classical music 

The BBC announced this summer’s Proms schedule yesterday. For the first time in memory, no US orchestra will be playing at the world’s biggest music festival. It’s partly because of traveling fears by US orchestras, and budgetary problems. The Cleveland Orchestra, however, was booked for the Proms but had to be scratched late in the day.

The problem? The BBC not only broadcasts all the concerts live, it streams them on the Internet. The Cleveland Orchestra apparently could not reach agreement with the BBC on the Internet rights to its concert. So they are out.

I find this very puzzling. Other orchestras with sophisticated marketing operations, like the Berlin Phil, seem to have no problem with the BBC policy. Where’s the rub for Cleveland?

Cleveland were going to be playing Olivier Messiaen’s wonderful Turangalila Symphony. Fortunately, the London Sinfonietta have been booked to fill the gap in the repertoire.

What did you say again?  

I generally don’t approve of sites that offer only partial RSS feeds. But a fun example of what can happen did turn up in my aggregator courtesy of Downing Street Says yesterday.

Here is the RSS feed in its entirety for a post entitled European Constitution: “Asked for a reaction to Valery Giscard D’Estaing’s comment this morning that the UK would not be kicked out of Europe if there was a no vote in the referendum, the PMOS said that M. Giscard D’Estaing was a…”

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