Breaking Atoms

For bedroom demagogues and armchair fans.

Chi-Town Boyz

Should note that while I agree with many of the ideas expressed in that article on Latin America, I’m aware they’re not all being put into practice as well as the writer expresses. As always though, the comments are fun (some top bant, lads).

But it did lead me to do a bit of reading about the 'Chicago Boys', a name that kept cropping up below the line. They were a group of young Chilean economists, most of who trained at the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman and Arnold Harberger, or at its affiliate in the economics department at the Catholic University of Chile. The articles about them online are mostly complimentary (ah just Google it), explaining how they ensured Chile’s economic success, but if Wikipedia is to be trusted (yeah yeah), The Chile Project is fascinating and a bit fucking Manchurian:

The training was the result of a “Chile Project” organised in the 1950s by the US State Department and funded by the Ford Foundation, which aimed at influencing Chilean economic thinking. The project was uneventful until the early 1970s. The Chicago Boys’ ideas remaining on the fringes of Chilean economic and political thought, even after a 500-page plan based on the Chicago School’s ideas called El ladrillo (“the brick”) was presented as part of Jorge Alessandri’s call for alternative economic platforms for his 1970 presidential campaign. Alessandri rejected El ladrillo, but it was revisited after the 1973 Chilean coup d’état on 11 September 1973 brought Augusto Pinochet to power, and became the basis of the new regime’s economic policy. Eight of the ten principal authors of “The Brick” were Chicago Boys.

Juan Gabriel Valdés, Chile’s foreign minister in the 1990s, described the Chile Project as “a striking example of an organized transfer of ideology from the United States to a country within its direct sphere of influence… the education of these Chileans derived from a specific project designed in the 1950s to influence the development of Chilean economic thinking.” He emphasised that “they introduced into Chilean society ideas that were completely new, concepts entirely absent from the ‘ideas market’”.

And Read All Over, also known as "you don't know my struggle!"

Stupid buzzword, middling Brad Pitt film and holistic sporting strategy that it is, Moneyball has been misused constantly in relation to Liverpool since FSG have come in. But Coutinho for £8.5m is a great example of the concept - a player most observers agree to have great potential for an undervalued price (Inter are in the middle of sweeping changes to reduce wages and stay within FFP rules). Under Rodgers, a coach with a proven track record with young players, he could flourish. If not, Liverpool can still sell him on for a profit. It’s just plain old common sense. 

As I type this, our previous target Tom Ince has just scored for Blackpool - if his desire to come to the club is real, Liverpool could nab him in the summer as his contract winds down and move Downing on - replacing an old English player with a young one.

Stupid buzzword, middling Brad Pitt film and holistic sporting strategy that it is, Moneyball has been misused constantly in relation to Liverpool since FSG have come in. But Coutinho for £8.5m is a great example of the concept - a player most observers agree to have great potential for an undervalued price (Inter are in the middle of sweeping changes to reduce wages and stay within FFP rules). Under Rodgers, a coach with a proven track record with young players, he could flourish. If not, Liverpool can still sell him on for a profit. It’s just plain old common sense.

As I type this, our previous target Tom Ince has just scored for Blackpool - if his desire to come to the club is real, Liverpool could nab him in the summer as his contract winds down and move Downing on - replacing an old English player with a young one.

At Last

23 years. That’s how long it’s taken for one of the biggest cover-ups in modern British history to be revealed for the vicious lie that it is. A few hours ago, David Cameron officially apologised to the families of the Hillsborough victims. Vindication? Perhaps. Justice. Not quite yet. Solace? Never. I’m still wrapping my head around it all myself so I thought I’d start typing and see what comes out - as a Liverpool fan.

As a Liverpool supporter, I’ve been well-versed in the details for years - but not being a Liverpudlian I didn’t always fully understand the ways the events of 15th April 1989 still affected the club and indeed the city as a whole. Liverpool is well known to be a close-knit city, bordering on tribal (which might be part of the allure for so many fans from around the world) and has traditionally felt a sense of isolation from the rest of the country (“Scouse not English”) for a lot of reasons grounded in economic, political and social history. Liverpool and Everton might be fierce local rivals, but the clubs and their supporters band together in times of need. The narrative spun by the South Yorkshire Police, promoted by the Sun and advocated by politicians wasn’t just profoundly cruel and incorrect - it fed a sense among others that Liverpool was a city with a victim complex, and Liverpool Football Club fancied itself the most tragic institution of all. 

Having grown up in London and supported the club in the shadow of these events, I’m acutely aware of how the events have shaped the way others perceive the club. The dark cloud of Hillsborough has followed it around and combined with the glorious history and lack of recent success, Liverpool FC and its supporters are always accused of being fixated on the past. As someone who spent a fair chunk of my youth trawling online forums and comment sections I’m more than well-acquainted with the way other fans deride this mentality, despite being too lazy to think why this might even be. You often read commenters who say Liverpool fans need to “get over it” - imagine how that would make your blood boil if you were a victim’s relative? I’m completely glossing over the darker accusations - the fuckwads who blindly peddled the Sun’s lies years after the event. But it all added up to a certain perception, and one that was both irritating as a fan, but interesting as someone who’s ostensibly an outsider peering in.

That’s what has been on my mind today. For two decades, football fans have thought a certain way about Liverpool Football Club and its supporters because of a lie. It doesn’t need to be said how little this means when compared to the horror of the actual events, but it’s an interesting thought. For two decades, Liverpool as a city and as a club experienced a tragedy and were then accused of perpetrating its own pain - I can only imagine how enraged they felt. Will the narrative change? I still can’t believe today has happened, but I’m so glad it did.

(P.S. Brian Reade and Henry Winter have written some worthy, if harrowing, pieces worth reading.)

The Consequences of Caring

A lot of people have been underwhelmed by Nas’ recent output. I’ll leave my personal feelings about his career for another day (in a word: conflicted), but on ‘Daughters’, with a cadence that borders on awkward and a rhyme pattern that doesn’t really warrant closer inspection, Nas sounds compelling again.

You don’t have to know why Destiny Jones was being written about by frothy-mouthed, basement-dwelling rap bloggers to hear the regret in Nas’ voice as he details his failures as a father and his wish to do right by his kid. It’s the same soulful, introspective tone that instantly hooks anyone listening to Illmatic for the first time. It seems fitting that the rapper who seemed unbelievably wise beyond his years as a teenager back in 1994 seems to be catching up with himself now, as he approaches 40. Richer, wiser, but still figuring out how to react to the world around him.

The Eternal Disappointment of Drizzy

So, Drake, a.k.a. Canada’s Favourite Mixed Race Son, a.k.a.Wheelchair Jimmy, a.k.a. Sweater Boi had his new album, Take Care leaked a couple of days ago. He seemed fairly ambivalent about it.

I’m nowhere near as big a Drake fan as a lot of people I know, but Drake’s pre-release tracks (Trust Issues, Dreams Money Can Buy, Free Spirit, Club Paradise) had me excited that Drake and 40 were going to go in a darker, more compelling direction. My mistake*. It says a lot that the next rap sensation, ASAP Rocky (who just signed a $3m record deal) had a more compelling mixtape, despite being a less technically accomplished rapper. The best song (“Lord Knows”) doesn’t even really sonically fit with the rest of the album, since Just Blaze has such a different production style to 40.

In all fairness, the album does have some great moments (“Hell of a Life” soundalike “We’ll Be Fine”, “Marvin’s Room” and Andre 3000 featuring “The Real Her”) but if we’re to hold it up to the high standards Drake supposedly holds for himself, Take Care ultimately falls short of what we now expect (and demand) of him.

* - (Although ‘back in the days/Acura days’ from “Underground Kings” is probably one of my favourite lines of the year.)

There’s a cool story about There Is a Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths, where Johnny Marr explains the opening guitar chord sequence was added partly as an in-joke to see whether critics would be all ‘yo, Marr stole that shit from The Velvet Underground’s There She Goes Again’, but he was like ‘bro, they stole that from a Rolling Stones cover of the Marvin Gaye song, Hitch Hike, get your shit right.’

Can’t hate.