Wings Over Scotland

So, I was all ready to get outraged about this:

The Electoral Commission has fined influential but controversial pro-independence blogger, Wings Over Scotland £750 for failing to file complete spending returns for last year’s referendum.

Why in buggery should a blogger register for anything? Fuck off etc.

Then I see:

The elections watchdog said Stuart Campbell, who runs the website from his home in Bath, south-west England, failed to submit the necessary invoices and receipts after registering as an official yes campaigner during last year’s independence referendum.

Describing himself as a former Lib Dem voter, Campbell raised more than £330,000 through online crowdfunding – more than any other yes campaign achieved from such appeals – for his own opinion polling, pro-independence advertising, his Wee Blue Book of pro-independence analysis and economic data, and to pay himself a wage to run the site.

Whether the rules are right or not he did voluntarily sign up to them and took peoples’ money having done so. Cough up those invoices matey.

Is Corbyn too dim to be Prime Minister?

Jeremy Corbyn is too thick to be Prime Minister

Two Es at A-level and a lack of clear natural talent means that Mr Corbyn simply isn’t quick witted enough to become leader of the country

It has to be said that exam grades that would struggle to provide entry into a teacher training college don’t inspire awe really. And as one who used the local teacher training college as a girlfriend farm for a time I know some of what I speak.

However, the Telegraph isn’t exactly outdoing itself either:

Well, let’s park that thought for a moment while we consider that 2 Es were exactly the grades Jeremy Corbyn achieved when he took these exams around 40 years ago.

Show me one thing that Corbyn, now aged 57,

Err, Corbyn is 67, he took the exams around 50 years ago. 40 years ago he was already a councillor in Haringey.

Telegraph Watch

Oh dear:

Fancy having the power to throw the political world into turmoil? Follow our guide to becoming a Lord and you may end up receiving that lofty power – and maybe a moat.
Perks of the job
300 quid a day just for turning up to work. Most of us feel we deserve that on a Monday morning, anyway…
You can make your friends kiss your hand and curtsey to you, as you now have a title.
You get to wear a really fancy cape.
You can really annoy the people elected to government. Especially George Osborne.
Your mail will be addressed to Lord or Baroness.
Lords get fishing, hunting and mining rights denied to everyday citizens.

The sort of Lordship that gets you into the House of Lords doesn’t have any special fishing, hunting or mining rights. Certain Lordships of the Manor have some such rights attached. But a Lordship of a Manor doesn’t get you into the House of Lords.

There was a time when this sort of distinction was bred into the very bones of the Telegraph.

Ehu fugaces, tempus fugit etc.

My suggestion is that we purchase for the Great Redacto two very large and very sharp machetes, perhaps with a Viking battleaxe for backup when they blunt, conduct an intervention where we read the past few months of such soleicisms to him while providing run and coke liberally laced with Angel Dust and then set him loose in the Telegraph newsroom.

Might not actually help that much but would certainly be cathartic.

We would, of course arrange that he be able to sub his own newspaper’s report on the incident from his psychiatric ward cell.

Err, no

Death in Helmand: Is Alex Blackman murderer or merely mortal?

No, really. Whatever the facts of the case (and I know too few to be able to judge) the point is not that Blackman is mortal or not, but that the people he shot turned out to be all too mortal.

Buying at the top ain’t a good idea

It missed repayments on its debt pile after buying an Indian iron ore mine as the market froze following the financial crash. In 2013 PwC was appointed by Stemcor’s lenders to restructure its borrowing, agreeing a deal in March last year.

That Indian iron ore mine now being worth very much less than it was.

But Stemcor, eh?

Stemcor, which was once controlled by the Oppenheimer family – which includes Margaret Hodge, former chairman of the Public Accounts Committee – ran into trouble in the wake of the financial crisis.

Amusingly, the one and only name we have of someone who used the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility is one Margaret, Lady Hodge. And it seems to be turning out that she needn’t have bothered.

The agreement, which has High Court backing, means the creditors have taken a $1.5bn haircut, with their original exposure of $3.1bn being reduced to closer to $1.6bn following a debt for equity swap.

That equity now being worth very much less. Couldn’t happen to a nicer group of shareholders.

Yes, I know about the Run Rebellion and all that

The distinctive Australian accent is the result of a “drunken slur” caused by the heavy drinking of the early settlers, according to a communication expert from the country.

But the problem with this idea is that early Australia wasn’t notably more boozy than other societies of the time.

If I were to look for a cause (and as ever, I’m entirely willing to pontificate on something I know nothing at all about) I’d look to the rural/urban split. It’s well known that urban accents are faster than rural (just compare Cockney with Dorset, Boston with Maine). Oz was a very rural society for the important developmental part of its history. For that first century or so it was a giant farm for the Empire.

Lord Noon

After the July 7 bombs in London, he said that anyone “preaching sedition and treason” should be stripped of their British nationality and sent back to the country they came from. “These are monkeys who tie bombs to their chests and pull the strings. They are kids. They have been brainwashed,” he declared. “The Muslim community has a responsibility to make sure that those in the business of brainwashing people [are] brought to book. If people are not happy here then they are free to go anywhere in the world. They are not here at the invitation of Queen Elizabeth or the Prime Minister. They can f— off.”


What a career she’s launched!

Drinking societies are an archaic institution that have existed for centuries at Oxford and Cambridge universities. Steeped in exclusivity and privilege, these clubs are where public schoolboys prepare themselves for the echelons of power. Former members of the Bullingdon Club, a drinking society based at Oxford University, include the prime minister David Cameron, chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne and London mayor Boris Johnson. It was recently alleged that Cameron had inserted a private part of his anatomy into a dead pig as part of an initiation ritual at Oxford’s Piers Gaveston drinking society in the late 1980s. Such tales of debauchery would almost seem funny if one ignored its function: to cement the succession of power and influence in Britain among a narrow elite.

University-based drinking societies are the perfect training ground for young boys seeking entry to the old boys’ club. The existence of drinking societies is the antithesis of equality, and widening inclusion and access to Oxbridge. Women are locked out of them, and later effectively excluded from proportional representation in heavily male-skewed professions (law, politics, finance, etc), which are dominated by the elites that have been established at university.

Give it 40 years and she can have a gardening column like Germaine Greer.

Women’s drinking societies emulate the lewd behaviour of the male equivalent but without access to men’s bodies. They are not an example of equality, but of collaboration and cooperation in an objectified and degraded role. If a woman drinks to intoxication, engages in sexist banter and ritual humiliation, then she is held to earn the status of “one of the boys”. In fact she is simply capitulating to the boys’ ideal of a disposable lust-object.

Wonder if her hedge fund boyfriend gets much legover?

and one in five women is sexually assaulted on American campuses.


Isn’t this fun?

Labour MPs who repeatedly defy Jeremy Corbyn by voting against the party’s agreed position in the House of Commons should face a reselection challenge in their constituencies, Ken Livingstone has said.

I believe, but am not sure, that Corbyn has defied the whip more often than any other Labour MP.

Timmy elsewhere

A little selection of pieces that have appeared elsewhere. By request from some readers.

Aldi Pulls A Costco On The Minimum Wage, Leaving The Supermarkets To Play Walmart

If Iceland Can Jail Bankers For The Crash Then Why Can’t America?

Now Venezuela Tries To Control Profit Margins-Sheesh

Bad News For Baidu And Alibaba: China Raises Cap On Bank Deposit Rates

Bullish On AbbVie: Management Thinks They’ve An At Least $1 Billion A Year Product Coming

IBM’s Long-Term Strategic Problem

BP’s Take On The Revolution In The Oil Market

Erm, why?

Will Hutton’s quite right here, of course he is

Telegraph does SEO again

This is going to be one of those slow but steady earners:

How much does it cost per year to charge my electric toothbrush?

An important subject for the nation’s leading broadsheet, no?

Ask an expert: Does it make a difference if I keep my electric toothbrush on standby or if I wait until the battery goes flat?

Sort of article it costs $5 to buy over the internet.

Persian Gulf could be too hot for humans by 2100

No, this ain’t gonna happen.

Global warming could create peaks of humid heat in the Persian Gulf beyond human tolerance by century’s end, according to a study published on Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change.
If greenhouse gas emissions continue unabated, heatwaves occurring on average once every 10 or 20 years would, by 2100, exceed the capacity of a young, healthy person to maintain a normal body temperature, the study found.

It’s the “continue unabated” which is wrong. Simply because we know damn well that emissions aren’t going to continue unabated. It doesn’t matter whether we use the older SRES scenarios or the newer RCP ones. The mistake, and it is a mistake, whether an honest one or a manipulation, is to take the very worst of the scenarios that have been mapped out and then claim that this is the “business as usual” one.

The point being that no scenario is “the” business as usual one. I know much more about the SRES than I do the RCP ones but the same is true of all of them: all are business as usual ones. That is, all are equally possible outcomes of the normal interplay of the number of people, the wealth of them, and the technology they use to power their civilisation (this is much more explicit in the SRES literature than the RCP).

So, to pull out RCP 8.5, which is what is done here, and claim that this is what would happen is simply wrong. It’s what could happen if the specific emissions pattern modeled happens.

And the lovely thing we know about RCP 8.5 is that we know, absolutely, that it’s not going to happen. It assumes high population growth (higher than is happening), lower technology growth (lower than is happening…..and yes, lower technology growth leads to higher emissions) and poorer people. And that we get more of our primary energy from coal in the future than we do now for fuck’s sake. It’s very akin to A1FI from the SRES. An outcome that just isn’t going to happen.

For example, we know very well that solar is going to become properly price competitive in the next few years. Might be 2020, 2025, but we know it’s coming. It’s already properly competitive in poor parts of the world (because it doesn’t require the building out of the grid). Yet RCP 8.5 assumes that everyone will recapitulate the use of coal as they develop. It just ain’t gonna happen.

But everyone is still using it as their “business as usual” model. They’re just wrong.

And this is more than just a whinge at people publishing alarmist papers before COP in Paris. Google shut down their research arm into alternative energy because they didn’t understand this point. They looked at the business as usual projection then measured what they thought they could achieve against this. They concluded that they couldn’t solve it so they went off to do something else. But their BAU was A1FI from the SRES. They completely neglected to think about how their research might affect other equally likely scenarios.

This emphasis on only measuring the effects of the very worst possible outcome actually closed down a vast research effort into what to do about it.

I’ve actually had a brief interation with Michael Mann over this. Over on Twatter back a while there was a challenge from Mann. So, Worstall, can you do better than this paper showing the effects of climate change?

Yep, I could and I did. The paper had assumed A1FI. I just pointed out that you have to consider all of the BAUs, then assign probabilities to them (not something anyone does) in order to reach your expected outcome. Entirely agreed, for the purposes of that argument, that *if* you assume A1FI then that paper’s fine. But a better answer would be to give us the expected outcome by considering all equally likely scenarios.

He shut up after that. Because that did make the paper better.

This is also how James Hansen gets to $1,000 a tonne as being the correct carbon tax. He looks at the worst possible scenario, calculates (reasonably fairly) the highest possible value of the carbon tax that implies and then states that that’s what the tax should be. No, it shouldn’t be: the tax should be based upon the expected value, calculated by looking at all BAUs and then weighting them by probability.

What annoys me so much about the whole climate change thing is that the scientists are rather ignoring the economics of what’s going in and then ignoring the economics of what’s coming out. I have no hope whatsoever of understanding what they’re saying about radiative forcing and all that. But I do grok most of the economics. And they’re all woefully misusing it.

Should Varoufakis keep his speaker’s fees?

Asks The Telegraph.

The answer is obvious: yes.

An email from an agent of the London Speaker Bureau, published by Proto Thema, an Athens weekly, said that Mr Varoufakis now charges $60,000 (£40,000) for one speech given “outside of Europe”. The sacked minister has a sliding scale of fees, according to the email. Mr Varoufakis will speak anywhere inside Europe for $5,000 (£3,000) – and he will give a university lecture for $1,500 (£1,000).
“The man who contributed to the Greek economy’s catastrophe by obstructing talks with international creditors and leading the country to capital controls is making a mint,” said Proto Thema.
The email reminds anyone thinking of booking Mr Varoufakis that he would also “require business class travel, accommodation, airport and ground transfers, meals and incidentals”.

We’re all absolutely delighted when an out of office politician makes an honest living. It reduces the chances of his trying to make a dishonest one while in office.

We should give up bacon for this?

Its report says each 50g of processed meat a day – the equivalent of one sausage, or less than two slices of bacon – increases the chance of developing bowel cancer by 18 per cent.

Incidence is of the order of 50 cases a year per 100,000 people. So, if we assume (wrongly) that that’s among the non-processed meat eaters, the risk rises to 60 cases per 100,000 per year.

For this we should give up bacon?

It’s also worth considering the counter-factual: what’s nutrition going to be like without processed (ie, preserved) meats? Maybe in the rich world we can all afford to eat fresh meat only but I wouldn’t bet on that being true of everyone even in the rich countries. It’s most certainly not true of everyone around here in Portugal, let alone poorer countries.