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This is a graph of yesterday’s financial market trading in the USA as monitored by the Dow Jones Industrial Average Index.


You’ll notice that just after 1:00 pm there was an almighty drop which lasted a few minutes. By about quarter to four things had recovered pretty much on to an even keel.

The reason for the drop was, quite incredibly, the hacking of Associated Press’s Twitter account, which announced that President Obama had been hurt in a series of explosions in the White House.

The Twits at Sadler's Wells

Roald Dhal’s ‘The Twits’ – Not the New York Stock Exchange.

The following is from the Washington Post:

The swift reaction demonstrates once more how vulnerable the markets have become to technological glitches. The bombing in Boston last week and the harrowing manhunt that ensued probably hastened the response from an already jittery investing public.

The tweet popped up on traders’ screens shortly after 1 p.m. The AP used social media, its Web site and its corporate blog to announce that its Twitter account had been hacked. The company said it was investigating the matter with Twitter, and the White House weighed in to calm nerves.

“The president is fine,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said. “I was just with him.”

But in the investing world, where super-high-speed computer trades dominate the market, the reassurances did not come quickly enough to prevent momentary chaos. The Dow Jones industrial average fell more than 100 points between 1:08 p.m. and 1:10 pm.

“And it wasn’t just the stock market. It was the bond market and commodity market and everything,” said Joseph Saluzzi, co-head of the equity-trading firm Themis Trading. “The event was done before humans could even process it.”

Saluzzi said he saw the post immediately, because he keeps an eye on Twitter for the entire trading day to learn about any potentially market-moving events. Market experts say such close tracking of social media has become the norm in trading.

“Firms are looking for information wherever they can find it,” said Larry Tabb, chief executive of Tabb Group, a financial research and consulting firm. ”They’re analyzing real time news feeds, scanning the Web and mining Twitter feeds. . . . They price news.”

But increasingly, the method has backfired. During a one-week stretch in February, hackers infiltrated the Twitter accounts of Burger King and Jeep, spreading false posts that each company had been sold to a rival.

A string of such corporate Twitter hacks in recent months prompted traders at Jones Trading Institutional Services to sit tight when they spotted the AP tweet on Tuesday, said Tom Carter, a managing director in the firm’s Los Angeles office.

The traders in Carter’s office, who stay connected with the firm’s other offices via a loudspeaker they call “the hoot,” were immediately suspicious.

“Someone said over the hoot that there’s a Twitter report about explosions at the White House,” Carter said. “We had a desk analyst and he told us to just wait. We watched the stock drop, then it stopped, and then it started bouncing around and it popped straight back up again.”

The FBI is investigating the matter, said FBI spokeswoman Jenny Shearer.

The financial markets. Just like a big bookies’ shop with the same excitable, fearful, superstitious reaction to events that punters tend to indulge in, in such environments. And it would seem with computers in control of that excitement, fear and superstition so that it can be executed with precision.

The financial well-being and decisions of the planet -its nations and their institutions, companies and citizens is predicated on such nonsense.

There surely has to be a better way.


Drug Store Washington DC 1920

Again from shorpy.com, this is ‘”Peoples Drug Store No. 3″, 91 years ago:

For the full size photo click here

Here’s the interior;

Click here and here for the full size shots.

This is the store rather impressively lit up at night;

For full size of this one go here.

Hey Man! Don’t I Know You From Somewhere?

From 1992 to about 1997 I was front man (singer and moothie) with a blues band called “Burst Oot Greetin'” (geddit?) We had a few different guitarists during that time and one, a very nice player called Stuart Lynch arrived at rehearsal in 1995 with a tape (remember them?) of this song:

Charlie Sayles – Hip Guy

He said it was from a blues compilation and the only info we has on the performer was that he was called Charlie Sayles. On listening to the track (Hip Guy) I noticed right away that it slowed down considerably between beginning and end! It involved a lot of rudimentary ‘sook-blaw’ harmonica but the overall sound and groove of the record was good so we rehearsed it and put it in our set. It quickly became one of our best numbers. One day in the now defunct Tower Records in Glasgow, I sought out a Charlie Sayles’ album (I got something to say) from which Hip Guy came and found that he was not a bad player and there were some other good tracks on it.

Charlie Sayles busking in Washington DC

Fast forward then to summer 1996 when Sue and I were in the USA. Strolling down a broad avenue in Washington DC I heard the sound of amplified harmonica and some singing going on. Curious, we followed the noise and found a busker belting out some blues.

The photo here is a photo of my original as I don’t have a scanner here at the moment.

It was the eye patch that gave it away. The busker had a guy helping him, passing the hat round for money. “Ask him if he knows a song called Hip Guy” says I

“Why he sho’ does man – this is the man who wrote Hip Guy!”

I explained about performing the song and having the album and Charle was fascinated that a guy from Scatland (is that in Europe?) would know one of his songs let alone have played it.

Small World eh?

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Random Photos

I was looking for some photos I took of Trump Tower in New York in 1996 when Sue and I did a whistlestop USA (& Canada) tour. I haven't found the photos in question yet but I did find some others that I took on the trip.


I took this from a helicopter above the Horseshoe Falls at Niagara. These are the Canadian Falls. The much less impressive USA falls are a few hundred yards away.

We also took a sail in the world famous "Maid of the Mist" the little pleasure craft that sails close to the thunderous waters. You get issued with a pac a mac type jacket to keep you dry (it doesn't work!)

Cliftonhill, the Canadian town where people go to visit Niagara is even more tacky than Trump Tower! You can take your pick from a squillion souvenir shops selling the same old tat.

However the sight of the falls at night when they are illuminated is well worth the visit. We spent a truly memorable couple of days there.



This photo is from a day we spent going round the absolutely fantastic Smithsonian Museums in Washington DC. There are two climates in Washinghton, hot and humid and cold and humid. When we were there it was hot and humid!

The photo is of one of the most famous (infamous) aircraft in history which now resides at the Flight and Space Museum in Washington. Enola Gay was the plane which dropped the bomb on Hiroshima at the decisive point at the end of WW2.



I'm going to have a look through some of my other photos from that trip and I'll relate the tale of how I bumped in to a guy busking on the streets of Washington DC whose album I had and one of whose songs I performed with the band I was in at that time.


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