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Wednesday, 30 March 2011

What's wrong with this picture from the BBC?

Yes, that's right. The lefties at the BBC can't bring themselves to admit that David Cameron is doing quite well as an international politician and might well be considered as a "world leader" (whatever that means), so they insert the face of a Scottish has-been and never-was who was actually a laughing stock on the world stage.

Remember the $5 trillion fiscal stimulus he announced at the G20? 'Nuff said.

Monday, 28 March 2011

I'd like my £425,000 a year too

Let's be charitable and go with the organisers number of 400,000 marchers, and less be less charitable and assume that they were all either welfare recipients, public sector workers or other beneficiaries of government largesse.

What were they marching for? In short that the government's budget deficit should be maintained at £170,000,000,000. My long division is not as good it was when I was 9 years old and was really quite god at this sort of thing, but whichever way I look at it, that is £425,000 per marcher. That is not the amount that they would like the government to spend, but the amount they would like the government to spend in excess of what is collected from taxes (an send the bill to our grandchildren). And of course being WR/PSW/OBGL (see above) that means spending the unaffordable £2,125,000 on each one of them and their mates who didn't go to the march over the life of the parliament.

I'd quite like the government to do the same for me, but I don't expect them to. And it should be blindingly obvious to even the most obtuse union leader that there simply aren't enough bashable banks or tax dodging corporations to come close to making up the deficit.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Remind me again

9 years ago, was there a big clean up after the Countryside Alliance marches? Or do you have to a left-wing to smsh up other people's property? I thought their protest was about the robustness of the economy, so it makes no sense to be destroying shops.

As I recall we had our fair share of anarchists along for the ride, but I don't remember any trouble.

P.S. I have no issue with the occasional demo. They can be quite fun. But who is going to pay for the policing fo this weekend and what budgets will be cut to pay for it?

"Many" people are becoming "increasingly concerned"

So says the BBC about the Japanese nuclear issues.  They don't say who these people are , or how this increase might be measured, but as the BBC's own College of Journalism notes:

"... when almost all of the scientists who have worked on nuclear for decades are saying something that conflicts with alarmist statements by world leaders, the media should ensure that the scientists' words are a prominent part of the story. On several days last week, it was almost impossible to find this important caveat in any of the headlines and amongst the acres of reporting on the 'deepening crisis' "

So contrary to the journalists self-image, they don't always know best.  Sometimes the experts should be listened to and maybe instead of getting media studies and Oxbridge generalists to do their reporting and editing, they should get someone who knows what they are talking about to produce their reports.

Oh and this mornings reports bout radiation being millions of times higher than normal.  Turns out it was a false alarm.  I am not that surprised.

Things I wish I had known earlier #94

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Hurting the most vulnerable in society

So the London protesters may have caused some damage at Fortnum & Mason, because it is a symbol of wealth and privilege, not that that has ever been a reason for criminal damage any more than attacking an Oxfam shop might be justified because it is a symbol of poverty.

But leaving that aside, the damage will have to be repaired reducing the profits to its owners Wittington Investments and to that company's 79.2% owner, the Garfield Weston Foundation, a charitable foundation that last year made 1518 donations with a total value of £37.6 million in the Arts Community, Education, Environment, Health, Religion, Welfare & Youth. (details here).

Perhaps some of those attending or organising today's march might like to volunteer to pay for the damage so that the most vulnerable in society do not lose out.

Something we never expected to see

After days or weeks publishing the hysterical reports of Richard Black and other anti0-nuclear eco-warriors, the BBC actually publish a report from someone who knows what they are talking about. Wade Allison is a nuclear and medical physicist at the University of Oxford, the author of Radiation and Reason (2009) and Fundamental Physics for Probing and Imaging (2006).

OK, you might say the author has a vested interest in all things nuclear, but as an academic that is hardly the vested interest of a nuclear power engineer, so I would sat this report deserves a good read.  Mostly by BBC reporters.

A message to the few thousand

non-tax payers, public sector scroungers and six-figure salaried union rabble rousers who think that government spending of more than 50% of GDP isn't enough and who spent the day whingeing through the streets of London.

We had an election about this last year. You lost. That's democracy. Get over it.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Global Warming Update: 97 ships stuck in ice

Icebreakers have been called in to free dozens of ships that are trapped in ice in the Gulf of Finland near St Petersburg.

The administration of St Petersburg's port said yesterday that at least 97 ships were still waiting for help.
The eastern Gulf of Finland has not seen such thick ice since 1992, according to the Federal Agency of Sea and River Transport. Most of the trapped ships were cargo vessels, but there were also some passenger ferries. Many had been trapped for several days.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Jeremy Kyle meets academia

Things I never knew, but am glad I have learnt #94:

Dysfunctional families have their own academic magazine, and its called the Journal of Family Issues, and you can get it online (paid) here.  In next month's barnstorming issue we will learn that women chose to cohabit because they are looking for lurve, while men are looking for other benefits, not necessarily home cooking.

These are my policies; if you don't like them I have others

Eighteen months ago the Energy and Climate Change Secretary (Ed Miliband) told us that we would  have to enact ‘big changes’ in our lifestyles because there would be a painful transition from polluting energy sources like coal fired power stations as Britain tried to hit legally binding targets to reduce carbon emissions by 34 per cent by 2020 and by 80 per cent by 2050.  Actually CO2 isn't a pollutant but a naturally occurring gas that predominated in the terrestrial atmosphere before we had the benefit of photosynthesis and it hasn't killed us off so far, but let's leave that aside.

And then the Labour government put up fuel duty to make the point.

But today the Leader of the Opposition pipes up with "George Osborne needs to stop dithering and act now," she said. "He should help hard-pressed motorists by listening to Labour and immediately reversing the Tory VAT rise on fuel."

Politicians, don't you just love their hypocrisy.

The great thing about leaving the country in a mess is people soon forget and then you can have fun shouting at those trying to clean up. The bigger the mess, the bigger the clean up and the more you can shout.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Why Japan is not about to disappear in a nuclear meltdown

Sensible informed writing unlike the hysteria found elsewhere:

Unlike the BBC's Richard Black
"This opens the possibility of a serious meltdown - where molten, highly radioactive reactor core falls through the floor of the containment vessel and into the ground underneath."

Ain't gonna happen, the primary reaction was switched off days ago and the activity in the core is residual heating caused by decay secondary radioactive material, and a small fraction of the normal thermal output

Read this from the IAEA befor eyou believe the scare stories from the BBC and the Guardian.

Japan Earthquake Update (14 March 2011, 05:15 CET)

Based on information provided by Japanese authorities, the IAEA can confirm the following information about the status of Units 1, 2, 3 and 4 at Fukushima Daini nuclear power plant.
All four units automatically shut down on 11 March. All units have off-site power and water levels in all units are stable. Though preparations have been made to do so, there has been no venting to control pressure at any of the plant´s units.
At Unit 1, plant operators were able to restore a residual heat remover system, which is now being used to cool the reactor. Work is in progress to achieve a cold shutdown of the reactor.
Workers at Units 2 and 4 are working to restore residual heat removal systems.
Unit 3 is in a safe, cold shutdown.
Radiation dose rate measurements observed at four locations around the plant´s perimeter over a 16-hour period on 13 March were all normal.

Are minor parties really worth it?

The Lib Dems held a weekend gobfest in Sheffield. The police, who had staffed up in anticipation of "10,000" angry protesters have sent in a bill for the weekend's policing: £2,000,000.

That's £200 of police time for every potential angry protester, most of whom didn't turn up anyway.  But the really annoying point is that most of the likely protesters were supposed to be Lib Dem members objecting to their own party's policies.

So once again, it is you dear tax payer who will be footing the greater part of the bill for this event.  The cost to you collectively will be equivalent to around two thirds of the annual donations paid to the Lib Dems by their members, and this wasn't even their annual conference.

When it costs more to the country to protect a party (mostly from its own members) than the party collects in subscriptions from those members, isn't it time to consider preventing it from meeting?

Or should the police send fewer police and employ more robust tactics, such as stamping on their sandals and pulling their beards (especially the women)?

Sunday, 13 March 2011

Japanese engineering

The pictures from the Japanese tsunami are both terrible and awe inspiring, but I have to say that if I am going to be swept away in a 15 ft tidal wave I want to be inside on of those white Japanese vans.  Incredibly, most of them seemed to be floating with the water covering little more than the wheel arches, and while the saloon cars had their noses deep in the water, the micro vans, minivans and kei cars were flat on top of the water.

I knew the Japanese did a lot of earthquake planning, but I didn't realise they built their cars to have a fighting chance in a tsunami.

Save the thesps

From some left wing rag (I forget which):

A cast of stars from the first rank of British acting talent has sounded the alarm about the future of theatres in which many of them made their names.
Funding cuts to regional and subsidised venues will halt the flow of skilled performers and damage one of the most admired, commercially successful sides of cultural life, says a distinguished cast of household names at the forefront of a campaign being launched this weekend by Equity, the actors' union.
"The cuts are a kind of idiocy," said television and stage star Tim Pigott-Smith. "These people are buffoons and philistines. We cannot rely on an endless supply of good actors and directors with no investment. Funding is already right on the edge and these will not be cuts; they will be amputations."

Which is why, thank goodness we are not governed by luvvies.  If something is successful, then it doesn't need government money.  If on the other hand it may or may not be successful but needs the skill and judgement to assess whether a venture might make sense, then the last people who should be making those judgements are unqualified civil servants or self-interested politicians.  leave it to the professionals.

If government really has to hand out free loaders who want to offload risk onto the public purse, perhaps in the current financial climate we should be concentrating on those projects that will have an enduring and tangible benefit rather than pandering to the whim of some over-rated has-been loitering in the West End.

The last government cost the Treasury a small fortune by falling for the idea that the British film industry could be stimulated by having British made films supported by tax breaks.  A major factor was the luvvies poncing in front of the camera saying that their "industry" needed to be saved, forgetting that one way of saving whatever it was would be to be paid less.  It didn't strike these film stars as at all odd that they should be campaigning that their exotic lifestyles should be subsidised by the taxes paid by other much less well off than themselves.

The net effect of granting accelerated capital allowances on "British" films that a bunch of Hollywood producers pocketed 5-10% of the notional value of their largely unBritish films as upfront cash, the lawyers and banks had a field day, while high net worth individuals (bankers and footballers) sheltered large chunks of income from the tax man, and you dear reader / tax payer (I seem to be ending a lot of posts this way recently) picked up the bill.

Friday, 11 March 2011

And these guys don't want their pay frozen?

I was at school with the recently retired head of the National Policing Improvement Agency.  He was bright enough to get into Oxford and then progress to being a Chief Constable before retiring at a bit over 50 after 30 years no doubt on a solid pension, so not that dumb, but it has to be said not outstandingly clever, but probably the one of the very smartest in the police force.

Why do I point this out?  Because the average competence of today's police force is as low as it ever has been as evidenced by an instruction given by the Met to police officers at the student protests last year.  Under the heading "negative photo opportunities", police were advised not to draw attention to themselves when waiting around in police vans: "If drinking coffee or reading the paper when embussed, please be discrete."

Forget about "embussed" (it's in the Collins Dictionary even if it doesn't get through the spill chucker on this post and the military use it), but did the person responsible for that instruction really intend police officers to be

  1. apart or detached from others; separate; distinct.
  2. consisting of or characterized by distinct or individual parts;discontinuous.
  3. Mathematics:.
  • (of a topology or topological space) having the property that every subset is an open set.
  • defined only for an isolated set of points.
  • using only arithmetic and not involving calculus.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Most home routers are crap

The BBC gives us the fascinating insight that home wi-fi is '30% slower' than fixed broadband, and go on to imply that this is something to do with sharp practice by the ISP.  Well no this is actually saying that routing data to your PC via a wired Ethernet connection, presumably from a router that is within 10 metres of the PC performs better than a wireless connection that could be anywhere in the house.

I would expect the wired connection to be good and efficient but the wireless connection could easily have data errors that require retransmission and other issues that slow up the speed. So obvious I don't know why I am posting this but we have to fight the dumbing down from the state broadcaster.

Actually I don't know what is meant by "30% slower".  How is slowness measured: seconds per bit, perhaps? I am sure the BBC don't know either.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Who are you gonna trust with the news?

So the Tchenguizes have been arrested according to another pink paper. This may be completely unconnected with the arrest last week of Tchenguiz pal, associate, friend Nick Levene for his not-even-a-Ponzi scheme, but although the SFO has not disclosed any names, we know this on the authority of the FT.
Robert (left) and Vincent (right) Tchenguiz 

I can't help thinking that the FT ought to know that their caption should read "Vincent (left) and Robert (right) Tchenguiz"

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Q:When is a university fee not a university fee?

A: When it is a tax.

One of the problems with governments is that they tend to think that our money is their money.  An example is when a company, particularly a state owned company is fined for bad behaviour, often for overcharging their customers.  The fine of course goes to the Consolidated fund, not to the poor customers who are often charged more to allow the company to rebuild its business.

A similar flaw arises in the new proposal for university fees.  Some universities think that they have to charge £9,000 to continue to give a high standard of education notwithstanding the funding they get from the state.  Well, maybe, and perhaps there will be some students willing to pay those higher fees.  But if they think they will  get an incremental £5,710 worth of education they can forget it.  £900 of that will be routed into paying for bursaries for the "less well off".

Well blow me but that is just under a 20% tax on the extra amount.  I thought education was supposed to be a public benefit and largely free from tax.  Even private schools largely fund their bursaries from endowments, but this government has forced the cost onto current fee-payers, not that these fee payers are particularly affluent because they will all take out loans.  Yes, take out student loans to pay for somebody else's education.

I don't care what The Sun says

I have to admit that I admire The Sun and in particular its content.  Not I hasten to add, for its pictures or even the sentiments that it expresses, but for the pithiness of its writing. It manages to get to the point very quickly, and it doesn't mince its words, but I have to disagree with its opinion on the £50 fine meted out to some Islamic protesters, supposedly for the burning of poppies.

The Sun argues that a £50 fine is insufficient, but I have to say it is £50 too much for just burning poppies, although I accept that it seems about right for deliberately disturbing a Remembrance Day Service and causing offence thereby.  £50 for a breach of the peace seems about right.

But I would defend Mr Choudhury's right to burn as many poppies as he likes, or even to tell our boys that they "will burn in hell".  It's an opinion, not one with which I agree, but still an opinion.  And we have been burning poppies in Afghanistan for the last 5 years and I don't remember any body making a fuss about that. At this point I might be tempted to quote Voltaire, but as any Sun reader knows, he didn't actually say it, so I won't.

Monday, 7 March 2011

Do as I say not as I do

Will Mr Cameron be asking himself some tough questions about the use of fake passports by British "diplomats" and their military escorts?

Bob Diamond's millions

£6.5 million bonus and £250,000 salary.  Pathetic.  That's less than the guaranteed £175k a week (paid in cash, not shares) that Fernando Torres is paid for not scoring at Chelsea, and that's doesn't include appearance money, win bonuses and image rights (for Torres, not Diamond).

A stupid idea for our times

In one of the more stupid populist ideas for a long time, a Lib Dem MP has proposed giving away the government's shares in RBS and HBOS, because he feels that they will be more accountable to the people.

Like that really worked the last time.  No, having spent £30 billion and more of tax payers' money, the government's job is to get that money back by squeezing the banks, not to give the shares away.  The idea that any company becomes more accountable when it is held by 40 million people is laughable.

The responsibility for ensuring that the banks behave themselves for the sake of the economy lies with the government supervisors at the FSA and/or Bank of England not with millions of small shareholders.

Like a fly on a dung heap

One of life's great mysteries to the more mathematically inclined is the tale of how plain Peter Mandelson was in the late 1990's unable to afford to buy a £500,000 house without the aid of a loan from Geoffrey Robinson, but ten years later, after several years as an MP on £65,000, a few of which  were enhanced by a ministerial salary of £80,000 and a couple of years as an EU Commissioner on around £170k, but all taxed at a marginal rate of 40%, the by then ennobled Lord Mandelson could afford to splash his cash on a £2 million house.  This being prior to any book deals.

The mystery has never been solved, but we have seen how Mandelson has been attracted to foreign sources of dodgy cash just as flies will settle on a dungheap, and the Corfu villa of the Rothschilds has been a more congenial and private place to meet the scum of the world.  I am sure you all remember how Mr Deripaska told the BBC that his aluminium interests had benefited from his "friendship" with Mr Mandelson, but that friendship was formed not through meetings at Mr Mandelson's offices at the EU (where he was responsible for the EU aluminium tariffs), but on Mr Deripaska's yacht, the Lady K in the Caribbean.

But the latest revelation about Mr Mandelson, who despite BBC attempts to boost his reputation, is not widely regarded as an effective trade negotiator, is his role in Libya.  What have we learnt since the latest uprisings in the Middle East?  Well first of all, in addition to its role as a funder of terrorism (IRA, Lockerbie), we discovered that the Libyan government has had very strong links with the UK Labour Party and the left wing bodies such as the LSE for many years.  We have had to listen to Ed Miliband telling David Cameron that he was slow to act in the Libyan crisis, but then we discover that Saif Gaddafi was invited to give the Ralph Miliband lecture at the LSE a few years ago.

But in the middle of this all we hear that the arch slimeball has also had his spot in the Libyan limelight.  Learning that when they take a break from brutalising their own people the Gaddafi family have been spraying cash like confetti on British academic institutions, it transpires that Mandelson had agreed that every British university should be twinned with a Libyan institution.  Of course, the BBC fails to ask under what authority he did this, not being responsible for education, and doubtless no British university was asked whether they wanted to do this but doubtless Mr Mandelson reckoned the fees for setting up such arrangements would help him to augment his real estate portfolio, and coming from the murderous thugs in Libya, conveniently private.