Cities

Tom Perkins, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist, made a terrible mistake by comparing criticism of rich Americans – the “1 per cent” – to the Kristallnacht attack on Jews in Germany in 1938. Mr Perkins, co-founder of Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers, has since apologised.

John Gapper

Microsoft's Steven Sinofsky introduces a new tablet computer. Image by Getty

The unexpected departure of Steven Sinofsky as head of Microsoft’s giant Windows division has some inescapable similarities to that of Scott Forstall, who ran Apple’s mobile software. 

For me, the most poignant photograph of the destruction left by hurricane Sandy was of the Fairway supermarket in Red Hook, Brooklyn. I used to shop there on weekends and, in the café at the back, next to two disused trams, would enjoy the vista of New York harbour and the Statue of Liberty.

Andrew Hill

There’s a tantalising glimpse of Oliver O’Brien’s wonderful interactive map of London (and the UK) in Tuesday’s FT. The map is in the style of the great Charles Booth, who researched London poverty 120 years ago and displayed it cartographically. Our analysis contains the sobering observation by Mr O’Brien that “London’s mix of rich and poor changes dramatically from street to street. But what you see even 120 years after Booth is that many of the patterns remain the same”.

Visitors to the Olympic Games may want to take a look at the map before heading for the Olympic park to gain a little socio-economic perspective amid the glitz and hoop-la. As my colleagues James Pickford and Chris Giles write in their analysis: 

John Gapper

The financial crisis has come full circle. Having started in Florida, home of speculative property development and sub-prime lending, it is culminating in Dubai, the most fragile of the United Arab Emirates.

The ambiguity over the financial strength of  Dubai,  a trading entrepot that relies on Abu Dhabi, the richest of the emirates, for financial backing ended on Wednesday with the disclosure that it wants investors to agree a debt standstill at Dubai World, its flagship holding company

John Gapper

Someone at AT&T is a reader of this blog, it seems.

One of my posts was last week picked up by AT&T and quoted at length in a complaint that the company made on Friday to the Federal Communications Commission about Google Voice. The first I knew about it was when I read news reports at the weekend. 

John Gapper

This Wednesday turns out to be the 35th anniversary of the introduction of those machine-readable stripes now found on every packet and tin in every store.

Here is a brief history of the Universal Product Code according to GS1 US, the organisation responsible to administering (and updating) the system: 

John Gapper

I spent today at court in lower Manhattan watching Bernie Madoff being jailed. Here is my account of it for the FT:

The end of Bernie Madoff’s liberty came swiftly. “It is my intention to remand Mr Madoff. I do not need to hear from the government,” said Judge Denny Chin briskly, a second after Ira Sorkin, Mr Madoff’s attorney, had ended his hopeless plea for his client to remain on bail. 

John Gapper

In these tough economic times, it is sometimes hard to think of a silver lining. But Richard Florida proposes an interesting one: that what is bad for financial services firms may be good for artists and psychiatrists. I think he may be on to something.

In an essay in the latest Atlantic magazine, Florida suggests that New York City may not be as badly affected as some other US cities by the recession – despite being the home of Wall Street – because a lot of New Yorkers work in other industries, some of which are counter-cyclical. 

John Gapper

The news of cholera outbreaks in Zimbabwe reminds me of reading The Ghost Map, Steven Johnson’s gripping account of the discovery of the causes of cholera in London in the 19th century. This was my review of it in the FT.

It seems improbable now that there could be cholera in Soho in the middle of London, but an outbreak there in 1854 led to the proof that the deadly illness was caused by drinking sewage-infected water. 

John Gapper

Since I am the father of two members of the target demographic, I have just been to the cinema in Manhattan to see Walt Disney’s High School Musical 3. I quite enjoyed it (as did the demo) but the main thing that struck me as was how apposite it was to Barack Obama’s election.

A summary of the plot: a multi-racial bunch of kids at a high school in Albuquerque, New Mexico, put on a musical, indulge in innocent romance and plan to go off to college. The end.

Troy Bolton, the basketball-playing hero, is white. Gabriella Montez, his girlfriend and the leading lady, is Hispanic. His best friend, Chad Danforth, is black, as is Chad’s girlfriend Taylor McKessie, who is going to Yale to study political science and intends to become the US president.

They are, in other words, a perfect representation of the amiable multi-racial fantasy of many youth films in which the realities of discrimination do not intrude. They make the audience feel good about itself by presenting a sanitised version of reality. 

John Gapper

This is not about business but, since it is a historic occasion, I will make an exception.

I watched Barack Obama’s victory in the presidential campaign tonight with friends in Fort Greene, a mixed race, gentrified district of Brooklyn. Then I walked back home after midnight. 

John Gapper

There is a fascinating analysis of how the financial crisis is affecting the United Arab Emirates – including Abu Dhabi and Dubai – in the FT this morning, co-written by Lionel Barber, our editor, who was visiting when a bank bail-out was being crafted.

It makes me think that my recent note on the booming residential property market in Abu Dhabi may have coincided with the top of the market. (I also like the photograph that goes with the article, of Roger Federer playing Andre Agassi on a helipad on top of the Burj Al Arab hotel.) 

John Gapper

hadid600.jpg

As an antidote to the property-related crisis sweeping over Lehman Brothers, I went over to the Javitz conference centre in Manhattan yesterday to learn about one property development that is not short of money.

It is Saadiyat Island, the mind-boggling $27bn project to develop an island next to Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. At about $1bn per square kilometre, the emirate is not stinting on Saadiyat.

I suppose the falling oil price may crimp the style of Abu Dhabi and its next-door emirate Dubai a little. But it is not stopping the creation of Saadiyat, which will not only have nine resort hotels along a 9 kilometre beach but a cluster of world-class museums. 

John Gapper

I have never seen Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor of California, in person so I took the opportunity to do so this lunchtime at the Milken Institute Global Conference. I have to say that I was impressed.

Mr Schwarzenegger was talking about his push to build infrastructure such as roads, rail links and schools in California. He has also linked up with Ed Rendell, governor of Pennsylvania, and Michael Bloomberg, mayor of New York to spread that message across the US.

I expected him to be amusing and unusual but he surprised me with his fluency in talking about the topic and his charm. Maybe it helped that he was in a room full of business people (and financiers with an interest in the subject) who were on his side.

I also liked his lack of tact. At one point, eulogising about why his state was “the greatest place in the world” he compared it to other states. “People are not dying to go to Iowa,” he said. I can only imagine the apology he will have to make for that.