Hard News by Russell Brown


Deadly Exuberance

They're calling it Shopocaplypse: the day that Thanksgiving retail fever took three lives in America. The most alarming death was that of a New York Wal-Mart employee, trampled to death as the door of the store were lifted off the their hinges by a crowd hungry for retail satiation. Bargain-hunters simply walked on or over Jdimytai "Jimbo" Damour and his workmates, on their way to the shelves.

The other two deaths were those of the respective fathers of two households who confronted each other in a California Toys R Us after their teenage daughters fought. Wow.

And yet, according to NZIER and even Mr Bollard, it is consumer exuberance that will haul us out of recession next year -- or may even have already done so. The Dom Post has a story this morning in which commentators marvel over the size of yesterday's OCR cut -- and predict another of the same size next year in response to the crazy business unfolding on foreign shores. It is, really, difficult to get a handle on.

Meanwhile, anyone who does the vege shopping will be noticing the sump in the retail price of produce: I have no figures on it, but it seems to me that January prices have arrived at the beginning of December; driven down, at least in part, by the plummeting price of petrol. Confused? You have a right to be,

But I wonder if this will be remembered as the crisis of the flat-screen TV, the somewhat affordable luxury still expected to ship nearly a hundred million units worldwide in 2009, thanks largely to intense price-cutting from manufacturers. We will rationalise our purchases as we scoff our unseasonably cheap vine-ripened tomatoes.


Further evidence that the world is all widescreeen. YouTube is now delivering some clips in 720p HD. They stream surprisingly well, but if you go here, you'll find a very helpful bookmarklet that will allow you to download the HD clip as an MP4 file. Just drag the link from the page to your bookmarks bar, then click that when you start to load an HD clip. It will generate a download link in the grey box to the top-right of the YouTube page; just right-click and save. I'm not sure if this works on anything other than a Mac.

You can also invoke the HD version, if available, by appending &fmt=22 to the YouTube URL of a clip.

Clips include this amusing work of homebrewed computer effects, some NBA basketball and some nature porn.

And you really cannot miss this.

Friday track: a freaky but alluring mash-up of the Kings of Leon and Likke Li.

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