Sunday, December 25, 2016

The stupidest thing I've heard all year ...

And it has been an exemplar year for idiots and their utterances: 
Elf on the Shelf is easily the most violently dreadful thing to happen in 2016.
FFS. You've had Aleppo, a regular if discontinuous series of Islamist murders, Daesh / ISIS / who cares, Trump, anti-Trump riots and Jessica effing-Valenti,  and people are worried about a bloody doll?

Well, okay, not "people". Guardian commentators**. If I got an invite to their New Year bash, and unlikely amounts of weaponry*, there might just be a violently beautiful thing happening on the cusp between 2016 and 2017.

* Well, and a morality bypass. Which sufficient gin might just enable.

** Who can't use Amazon. Apparently EoS costs £31.95. Without looking hard, I can get that down to £4.44. Which takes it from the "this seems unreasonably expensive" to "the sort of cheap tat that kids can be bought without thinking about it too much***."

*** From an unreasonably okay-ish professional pov. I appreciate that four quid is quite a lot of money for some people. 2/3rds of a bottle of Buckie, for a start.

Notes: Mind you, he's not the only one who doesn't like EoS:

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Another graph for Tim W

Apropos of this discussion, here is a graph of annual incomes for the 25th and 50th percentiles of British (GB) households. These are "before housing costs" and in 2013-14 "prices" (so I'm assuming normalised to 2013-14 Pounds).

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Some Musings on Tax

So, pace a discussion chez Timmy, a couple of graphs. Firstly, the distribution of UK after tax income in 2013-14:

Tax Year 2013-14, UK Govt Figures
At Richard's request, the same distribution for tax year 1999-2000:

Tax Year 1999-2000, UK Govt Figures

Then we have the %age change (NB: all positive), for each centile, in after tax income between tax years 1999-00 and 2013-14:
%age increase in income 2000-2014
Note that the above chart isn't corrected for inflation or anything else - raw figures from the data published here, as of the 1 Mar 2016 update. But Bank of England inflation figures state that inflation 2000 to 2014 was 50% (suspicious but true - check yourself) so, for clarity, the inflation adjusted graph is here:
Inflation Adjusted %age increase in UK after tax income, 2000-2014

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

The BBC - They hate Britain, don't they?

From here:

Argentine forces landed on the Falklands on 2 April 1982 to stake a territorial claim, but by 14 June they had been ejected by a British military task force

In non-BBC speak:

Argentinian forces invaded the Falkland Islands on 2 April 1982 but by 14 June they had been defeated by a British military task force.
Also, I'd note that I technically agree with Fallon that Corbyn is a bigger threat to the Falklands than Argentina, but that is a comment on the current (and changeable) military capabilities of the UK and the detached and local Falkland Islands forces versus the current Argentinian capability, as opposed to the understandable views of the un-named, by the BBC, "chairman" of the Falkland Islands Legislative Assembly. Un-named, possibly, because there is no such role? They may mean the Speaker, Keith Biles, who chairs the Assembly.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Guardian - ignorant again.

Is any painting really worth $179m?

Sarah and Tiffany scream at each other, ignoring, across the hardly-crowded bar of Comment is Fatuous, the public. Sarah is, apparently, a "cultural sociologist", while Tiffany has the job that rightly belongs to Brian Sewell* at the Torygraph.

They add:

Pablo Picasso’s Les Femmes d’Alger (Version O) set a new world record last week for the most expensive painting sold at auction

What they fail to realise is that value is purely in the eye of the purchaser, or potential purchaser. That's it. All of it. The definition of value. To the purchaser, who almost certainly doesn't care what a fundamentally unimportant pair of British metro-ignroant harpies decide.

On a personal equivalency, I've paid a couple of hundred quid for various bits of debris this month, much to Mrs SE's disgust. Admittedly, they are 4.6 billion year (a few 100,000 years less for some of them) debris so I think I have a point. Her opinion varies.

Would I have paid staggeringly large amounts of cash for that Picasso? No. Even if I had the wodge. Which I don't. Would I have sacked my entirely hypothetical investment portfolio manager if she had? No. Because she isn't interested in art. She's interested in gain after tax.

* Who is, actually, for all the acerbic front, a really genuine bloke. Well, not "bloke". Possibly "chap".

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Christians should resist persecution without violence

Dear ++Cantur,

Whilst I understand the theological derivation, even certainty, behind your message, can I politely suggest that reality will generally say "Sod that for a game of victims"?


Surreptitious Evil.
(A clerk under minor holy orders.)

Monday, February 09, 2015

Now, I got this completely wrong ...

BBC headline:

"Lawyers bite over 'Left Shark' model"

So, there's me thinking some lawyers complaining about some other lawyers new form of sales strategy which describes the participants as sharks.

Nothing so amusing. Instead, it's a rather boring IPR thing about Katy Perry's Superbowl show.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Politicians. Why are they so ignorant?

Okay, so there was some politician* ranting on the Today programme about how utopia would arrive when she became Lord Protector (I think.) Anyway, the usual spend, spend, spend (costings to be explained in our manifesto in March) but this wasn't, definitely, not, a manifesto for the 2015 General Election. No way.

Anyway ...

One of her key points was "to raise the Living Wage to £10 per hour". Now, this is pig ignorance of the highest quality, and went unchallenged by the leftists on BBC Radio's flagship programme. Demanding that, or stating that they would, increase the Minimum Wage, that would be logical, if not necessarily sensible.

However, the Living Wage is a measure of what you need to be able to spend to not be considered poor. It is a combination of Purchasing Power Parity rates and social expectations (Adam Smith's linen shirt example.) Raises the Living Wage is a matter of general inflation and changes in social attitudes, not political diktat. In an ideal world, the Living Wage should be very low (although as social attitudes and spending expectations change, it is unlikely ever to go below Minimum Wage levels, whether legally enforced or set by the markets.)

If you assume that the Living Wage Foundation, who have taken this over from the Joseph Rowntree Trust, spend reasonable care in their calculations, then this probably is a better guide to an aspiration wage (remembering in work benefits) although I'm still more convinced by Tim's arguments about the difference between the taxed Living Wage and a putatively untaxed Minimum Wage (both at current rates.)

* Google suggests it was Natalie Bennet. This means that what she is actually talking about is the maximum wage anybody can afford to pay once Green Party economic policies have been widely implemented. 

Monday, December 15, 2014

That evil Benefits Cap

Driving to the train station this morning, I listened to the denunciation of the Benefits Cap on the Today programme. Typical for the metro-socialist tendency of al-Beeb.

Key amongst the points made was that, against a climate of rising Housing Benefit, the saving from the Benefits Cap was neglible.

This, of course, missed the point. The Benefits Cap was not, fundamentally, introduced to provide significant savings to the Exchequer. It was introduced because it was felt that it was wrong, improper, or even immoral, that some people were earning more in benefits than the average earnings - hence the £26000 figure. Barring some people with significant disability costs (such as live-in carers, which almost certainly could be dealt with outwith the benefits system, or even just excluded from the Cap - which, of course, they currently are), it does take a particularly statist mindset to see this as unreasonable (albeit that the London-centric media will quibble about the specific level being unfit to keep a family in Fairtrade organic quinoa.)

However, specifically, there was a note that most of the families hit by the cap had seen a reduction in Housing Benefit by over £100 per week. This was interesting - I don't live in a tiny house, nor in a particularly cheap housing area, although I don't live anywhere near London. £100 per week, £440 per month, is just under half of my mortgage (and the mortgage was for pretty much the entire purchase price, since I hadn't sold the previous property at the time, and had been subsequently extended for a central heating replacement.)

So the _cut_ in Housing Benefit, not the full amount they had previously been getting, would have paid half the mortgage on a mid-Victorian farmhouse.

Is it any wonder normal working people found this appalling?

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

The "rule of law" should be suspended for people we dislike


Responding to the ruling NSPCC Wales head of service Des Mannion said: "It is extremely frightening that a child rapist described as 'very dangerous' and unrepentant has been released back in to the community due to what seems like a legal technicality surrounding the timing of the offence."

This is increasingly common, not least amongst the Richard Murphy tendency.


As a starter, in my opinion, it is bad enough that the law is as complex as it is. The average punter has nothing expect the increasingly vague moral framework we inherit from our environment (and, of course, mandatory testing on the Road Traffic Act) to determine what is actually legal. Professionally, I have corrected senior counsel on their interpretation of the law (albeit it in a field of professional and personal interest) - and I have had fewer law lectures than I have had stats ones. And, to their credit, they admitted (after lunch) that I was correct.

If we require people to obey the law as it might be framed in the future?

This has nothing to do with whether the appropriate sentence for a specific (or any) rapist should be less than the statutory maximum - which is life.

Saturday, October 04, 2014

Is this a made up name?

From here, talking about organised, paid, pro-Putin trolling:

"Kristina Potupchik is probably kicking herself right now," he adds, referring to the blogger, now seemingly retired, who for years led trolling efforts by the pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi. "In her day, of course, there wasn't nearly the budget for Internet pollution as they have now."

Whatever. But Kristina "Pop Up Chick"? Seriously?

Thursday, September 04, 2014

I'm puzzled.


In Reprieve's eyes, BT was therefore partly responsible for deaths dealt from Djibouti drones, and should be answerable for it.

So I had a look at the OECD document that Reprieve are complaining BT are in breach of. One of the first things I see is

They provide non-binding principles and standards for responsible business conduct in a global context consistent with applicable laws and internationally recognised standards.

So, actually, the guidelines are completely irrelevant. What is relevant and what BT should be accountable for is any breach of applicable law.

Of course, if Reprieve win, it will effectively signal joint-supplier liability for any multinational from providing any products or services to any military or paramilitary organisation anywhere. Even in their home-base country. Which, frankly, ain't going to happen.

Oh, and, if BT can crack the encryption that the Yanks will have put on the carrier circuit, then they better not tell the NSA.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


(Ed notes: I drafted this on the train in to work this morning and had pretty much a day of end-to-end meeting hell. Although I now know that a [coughs] "long-term" ceasefire has now been agreed, I don't think it changes the sentiment of what I had written.)

The population of Gaza is some 1.8 million people, crammed in to an area of 139 square miles. Not quite Macau, or even Hong Kong (which I had thought was the most crowded 'country') but certainly quite cramped.

Over the last seven weeks, the planes, tanks, attack helicopters and infantry of the Israeli Defence Forces have, according to Hamas figures, killed some 2200 of them. Roughly 0.1%.

In contrast, the Rwandan genocide, conducted with machetes and fire, saw the slaughter of some 70%* of the Tutsi population.

What can we judge from this?

Either that there was (Ed note: I originally wrote 'is') no attempt to commit genocide in Gaza or that the IDF are simply not very good at it. In fact, very bad at it.

* 'Fact' from Wikipedia. YMMV.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Yes, the USA is different ...

We know the Yanks do things in different ways. From playing the World Series*, to which the world is not invited, to ignoring almost everything they do to alleviate poverty in calculating their poverty statistics ... The USA is different.

This time, it is the BBC banging on about the environment:
Beef cattle need 28 times more land and 11 times more irrigation water than pork, poultry, eggs or dairy.

The research has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 

Well, yes. Almost everybody else allows beef cattle to graze and then supplies them with fodder over the winter. Famously not, of course, Kobe beef cattle nor the vast amount of US beef cattle which are grain fed.

The statistic may be true for the US, but the watermelons are already out denouncing the wholly different European method of beef farming.

* Yes, I know it is claimed that even Yanks aren't this parochial and the competition is named after the "New York World" newspaper but, it probably wasn't. From Snopes: "The New York World never had anything to do with the World Series, however, other than being one of the many newspapers to report the results."
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