Today I stumbled upon Hugar

A beautiful collection of songs from Iceland. Hugar are Bergur Þórisson & Pétur Jónsson. Haunting and uplifting tunes, which provides an evocative soundscape to relax too. Þórisson & Jónsson have been playing together for many years in all kinds of different bands but in early 2012 they decided to form a group of their own where they could experiment.

The album is available on Bandcamp on a name your own price basis. The other instrumentalists are, Ólafur Arnalds – Drums, Pétur Björnsson – Violin, Sólveig Vaka Eyþórsdóttir – Violin, Guðbjartur Hákonarson – Viola, Hrafnhildur Marta Guðmundsdóttir – Cello, Björgvin Ragnar Hjálmarsson – Clarinet and bass clarinet.

Sniffing and Spoofing

At the core of the digital world sits a new generation of electronic gatekeepers: a mixture of highly sophisticated computer algorithms tended and programmed by a small cadre of elite technocrats who determine what we see in the online world.  In 2010 the stock exchange suffered a ‘flash crash’ when shares fell by 6 percent in 5 minutes. The crash was caused by trading algorithms. Trading algorithms are now so sophisticated they can feed on each other’s intentions and try to trick each other into making buys or sells favorable to the companies that unleashed the algorithms in the first place. Some trading algorithms, for example, can detect the electronic signature of what is called a V-WRAP (Volume-Weighted Average Price.) This important because V-WRAP’s are a trading benchmark used especially in pension plans, so they are relevant to the overwhelming majority of people. The detecting of the electronic signature is nicknamed ‘algo-sniffing’ and can earn its owner substantial sums: if the V-WAP is programmed to buy particular shares, the algo-sniffing program will buy those shares faster than the V-WAP, then sell them to it at a profit. Whatever the ethics, algo-sniffing is legal. Some trading algorithms are specifically designed to fool other trading algorithms. This process is called ‘spoofing.’ A spoofer might buy a block of shares and then issue a large number of purchase orders for the same shares at prices just fractions below the current market price. Human traders would then see far more orders to buy the shares in question than orders to sell them and likely to conclude that their price was going to rise. They might then buy the shares themselves, causing the price to rise. When it did so, the spoofer would cancel its buy orders and sell the shares it held at a profit. It’s very hard to determine just how much of this kind of thing goes on, but it certainly happens. In October 2008, for example, the London Stock Exchange imposed a £35,000 penalty on a firm (its name has not been disclosed) for spoofing.

Sell Yourself

Each year, Ofcom the UK’s telecom watchdog publish a report on the state of the international communications market. The report includes data from countries including the US, UK, France, Germany, and Japan. In the latest edition, it says that 39% of Americans agree or strongly agree with the statement “I am happy to provide personal information online to companies as long as I get what I want” the highest of the nine countries sampled. While 70% of respondents either agreed or were indifferent to the commercial use of their personal information in return for free services.

Karl Lokko – Urine Village

Karl Lokko – Urine Village

I first met Karl almost eight years ago in Brixton, London. He is quite an imposing person given I stand 6ft, and he still towers over me like a giant from Han Christian Anderson fairy tale. As with many Black kids growing up within our inner cities, Karl had tough choices to make and dangerous lessons to learn. The first day we cast eyes on one another I was in my local government uniform and tie he was wearing a bulletproof vest. He talked rapidly about the life he was leading, the inspirational pastor who was helping him to rebuild his life, his dreams, his aspiration. He was young, but already time was catching up with him. Over the years he stumbled but resisted a return to the life he once led. Today Karl is a husband, poet, activist, influencer, and incredible human being who I am proud to call a friend. This is Karl’s first release of his poetry online. If you want to know more about Karl then click here.

Today I stumbled upon Hope Sandoval

Today I stumbled upon Hope Sandoval

Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions (click here) latest album Until the Hunter (November 2016) is an evocative and beautiful landscape of lullabies. Track 4 on the album is entitled Let Me Get There and features the wonderful Kurt Vile in a duo.

Sandoval started her musical career with a friend (Sylvia Gomez) in a folk duo called Going Home in 1986 and would later form Mazzy Star with David Roback and release three albums in the 1990s. Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions have also released Bavarian Fruit Bread in 2001 and Through The Devil Softly in 2009. Sandoval also featured on the Massive Attack track Paradise Circus from the 2010 Heligoland album.

Goodnight Express

A free newspaper is thrust into my midriff.  Most people simply walk past the young man distributing them. He is hardly captivating, wearing headphones, comatose in a faraway land, going through the routine.  Above the announcements Waterloo Station is a cold place at the best of times. I take the paper and without looking I make my way to the bottom of the steps. I glance at it. Noticing copies are bundled on the adjacent wall, burgeoning out of refuge bins, littering the immediate pathways.

The New Musical Express (NME) was once an important and valued commodity. In fact, alongside John Peel’s radio programme, Sounds and Melody Maker, the NME was a crucial source of information on band tours, interviews, the latest record releases. I make my way to Jubilee Gardens, under the shadow of the London Eye, sit and flick through its pages. It takes about 2 minutes to glance through the photographs with bubble quotes and advertisements. The images are shiny, precise and sterile. I am old and everything is well and truly in its place.

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