Social Security…

“If you wanted to call Social Security an investment, you would say it is a play on the proposition that America’s GDP will continue to grow over the long term. This is the safest play one can imagine making, which is why the returns are so modest.”

Social Security: A monstrous truth | The Economist.

The Ice Cream Van of the Apocalypse…

Is it part of the student experience it seems.

“The architecture of Hulme was a strange mix of 60s sci-fi futurism and bleak eastern European uniformity, the kind of place JG Ballard had nightmares about. It was grimly cinematic, so much so that the photographer Kevin Cummins had used it as the background for his iconic photographs of Joy Division, the most existentially miserable band of the 70s. At nights, as the sun went down and the lights came up around the McEwans beer factory, which wafted noxious fumes across the entire misbegotten district, it seemed more like a scene from Blade Runner than the landscape of a thriving northern town. At regular intervals gangs of straggle-haired youths, who appeared to have escaped from the set of Mad Max 2, would drift across the overpass that traversed the Mancunian Way, shopping trolleys of worthless loot pushed religiously before them and umpteen dogs on various bits of string prowling behind them picking off survivors. Occasionally, an incongruous ice-cream van would creep its lonely way from one hideously uninviting tower block to another, its broken chimes turned up to maximum volume, creating a hellish racket that was somewhere between a nursery rhyme and a death rattle. As far as anyone could tell, it was selling drugs. We called it “The Ice Cream Van of the Apocalypse”.

Mugging was a fairly common occurrence in Hulme, as was burglary and the occasional assault by packs of wild dogs. When I first moved into Otterburn Close, my third-floor flat had a pathetically inadequate H-frame door that was one part rotten wood to 10 parts flimsy “security glass”. The first time I got burgled, the door was broken so badly that the council were unable to fix it, so they replaced it with a newfangled “security door”. Unlike their predecessors these were largely made of wood, with three tiny window slats allowing the people inside to look out without allowing everyone outside to come in. These new doors were such a whizzo idea that everyone wanted one and the council just couldnt keep up with demand.”

Mark Kermode: How to make an intelligent blockbuster and not alienate people | Books | The Observer.

I’m going to have to buy this book.