Amazing how the circle jerk works, isn’t it?

The Times Higher Education asked me to contribute to their Christmas edition in which a range of people select their books of the year.

And who did others pick as their book of the year?

Moreover, tax is much more than economic policy – it is an element in the construction of our collectivity and in decisions about what kind of society we want. In The Joy of Tax: How a Fair Tax System Can Create a Better Society (Bantam), Richard Murphy takes on all this with gusto, moving from forensic deconstruction of the current common sense to a proposal for a chancellor’s statement that might set us on the road to change.


Hurrah! For contrast (can I really mean relaxation?), I devoured The Joy of Tax: How a Fair Tax System Can Create a Better Society by Richard Murphy (Bantam). Now I have an inkling about government spending. Is it really true, as Murphy asserts, that nowhere in the UK university sector do we teach why we tax? Shame on us.

Those recommendations from a geographer and an engineer. They’ve still not found an economist to endorse it yet….

This is just fascinating on Google News

I’ve remarked on this before but it’s really strong today. Someone has worked out how to spoof good traffic to their website from Google News.

What they’re doing is scraping the content off the Times website. Which is behind a paywall and thus doesn’t normally appear in Google News. They then publish it on a site which mimics the Times (Google lists it as being from “The Times”).

But the actual URL changes. Last time I saw it it was the standardtimes or something like that. Today it’s

And this process has them as 7 of the 19 stories listed on Google News UK this morning.

This doesn’t make a fortune, it has to be said, but assuming that it’s all automated it will produce a decent income. Wouldn’t surprise at all that they get 100k page views from that today. £500 in income, maybe more?

Gender discrimination in the art world

Apparently it’s rife, people just aren’t valuing female artistic output in the same manner they do male.

Terrible, eh?

Valeria Napoleone, an art patron who has spent her professional life collecting work by female artists, argued it is high time for women to take their place in an art establishment still dominated largely by powerful men.

“Women artists, like in many other fields and life in general, suffer discrimination and underrepresentation,” she told the Telegraph.
“It’s changing a little bit but it’s not there yet, obviously.
“There has been a wave of exhibitions dedicated to women artists with everybody ticking the box to say they are politically correct and have done their jobs.
“It has become fashionable, and that’s great. But this is really just the beginning.”

Bint who owns lots of art made by birds thinks that art made by birds should be worth more.

Pick the incentives out of that, eh?

Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime

An audit shows that tens of thousands of choir members, bell ringers, flower arrangers and grand parent volunteers at schools are being forced to get Disclosure and Barring Service checks, five years after Theresa May, the Home Secretary, promised that the number would return to “common sense levels”.

We have criminal records checks on bell ringers.

So, St. Tone’s true statement was that we shall create a bureaucracy that disappears up it’s own arse.

Well done there, well done that man.

Amanda Marcotte and humour don’t quite go together

Presents for the Republican candidates in your life lead to this:

Donald Trump’s been having a hell of a year, so you’d think he wants for nothing. But that isn’t true! He does seem to be deeply unsatisfied with all of woman-kind’s ability to please him. They are all too ugly and keep having body functions like urination and menstruation, even though this is the 21st century and we should have licked that problem by now. So why not get him a Real Doll, a life-sized, realistic sex toy that looks like a woman but has all those unpleasant parts — body functions, normal human faces, opinions — removed.


No love, you’re supposed to be vicious. Just point out that he’s already had two such since Ivana.

What’s worse is that there is a good joke in there, that licked it one, but I’m absolutely certain that was unintentional, a product of the writing style, not thought or intent.

Now that’s clever

Several other species, including deer, have been known to acquire gender fluid characteristics. In some species of deer, the male will not develop antlers so that it can surreptitiously breed with females while the males are fighting for dominance.

Yes, this is discrimination

FDA lifts decades-long ban on gay men donating blood — but only if they haven’t had sex for a year
The deferral period is still discriminatory against men who have sex with other men

But sadly for the argument discrimination isn’t a bad thing.

Just to be crude about matters if I decide that I would like to have a child it would be useful for me to discriminate about who I fuck: a fertile female, given that I’m male, would probably be a better idea that whatever is lurking behind the bushes on Hampstead Heath.

There’s other discriminations for example we don’t hire people with your melanin rating, which we might find to be objectionable.

But discrimination itself is a value neutral term. what we want to know is whether the ban on blood donation connected to sexual practices is rational discrimination or not.

No, I don’t know either, but the cry of “discrimination” isn’t a slam dunk I’m afraid.

Stars of yesteryear who are still making a fortune from those evergreen Christmas hits

The astonishing sums journalists make in freelance fees from festive hits, going back decades, would be enough to put a smile on anyone’s face this Christmas.
Despite their pieces being published mainly through December, showbiz journos can expect to pull in thousands of pounds.
Fees from the annual story about Slade’s Merry Xmas Everybody, The Pogue’s Fairy Tale of New York and from Jonah Lewie’s classic Christmas tune Stop The Cavalry royalties have meant that 68-year-old Jemma Buckley has ‘never had to get a proper job’ following the success of the first such piece in 1980.

Time to burn down Washington DC again

British Muslims have been prevented from travelling to the US, without explanation or compensation. The UK cannot allow such discrimination to continue.

It’s the only way to teach them, obviously, send in the Marines again. Burn the place to the ground again.

Hmm, what’s that? Some other countries maintain that they should be allowed to deice, as they themselves wish, who is allowed to enter their country? But that’s entirely unacceptable!

War it is then, eh?

So Corbyn’s going to break up the BBC then, Hurrah!

The Labour party is developing policies to break up the UK’s largest media companies, according to leader Jeremy Corbyn.

In an interview in Monday’s Morning Star, Corbyn said the party also wanted to promote co-operative ownership models for the media.

“We are developing a media policy which would be about breaking up single ownership of too many sources of information, so that we have a multiplicity of sources,” he said.

“And actually promoting co-operative ownership and access, including local TV and radio stations and newspapers like the Morning Star.”

That is what he means, isn’t it? Breaking up the hulking leviathan at the centre of our media world?

The truth is out there

Four politicians have been found guilty of deliberately creating problems in Germany.
The four men, who have not been named under German privacy laws, wanted to show off their political skills in order to gain votes.
The small town of Ahrensburg in northern Germany saw more than 100 spurious problems in the space of just a few weeks in a 2013 electoral campaign that initially left police mystified.
Manufactured problems about refugees, sexism, the patriarchy, income and wealth inequality were presented then solutions offered that caused an estimated €1 million (£730,000) of damage.
Local residents were stunned when four members of the town’s own council were arrested over the lies.
A court heard how the four men aged between 20 and 22 deliberately started the controversies so they could play the role of heroes by presenting political plans solving them.
The leader of the group was impaled, the others will be executed later.

The truth of the political system revealed at last. No, really, this is how it works.

Good to see. Retailers doing their bit against sexist rip offs

Leading retailers including John Lewis and Asda have been accused by Labour of being ‘sexist’ for forcing girls to buy sports kit which is marketed for boys.
Research carried out by the Labour Party found that John Lewis has a ‘Children’s Sportswear and Equipment section’, in which they stock ‘Football wear’, ‘Cycling’, ‘Martial Arts’, ‘Rugby wear’ and ‘Cricket’ under the boys section, but none of these categories are available for girls.
Supermarket chain Asda has a ‘Sports and Dancewear’ section for girls, but any girl looking for football boots, football shorts and rugby shorts would have to go to the shop’s Boy’s section.

Excellent news, don’t you think? For as we learnt yesterday, retailers have a habit of charging more for rather the same goods aimed at women, displayed in the womens’ section, than they do for goods aimed at men and displayed in the mens’ section.

This practice of non-segregation thus saves those girls money: fight against the patriarchy!

Drivellingly stupid Guardian question of the day

Has Spain’s fragmented election called time on two-party politics in Europe?

Germany has been ruled by coalitions since whenever, the UK has just ceased to have a coalition government, or, as the LSE pointed out in 2010:

Currently across the 27 countries of the European Union, 20 (or nearly two thirds) are currently coalition governments. Looking in more detail, ten EU countries (including France, Germany and the UK) have governing coalitions are composed of a mainstream centre-right party in coalition with a Liberal party.

Is it actually necessary to be ignorant these days?

So that’s the plan then

We should all return to the diets of medieval peasants:

This, above all, means swapping most of the animal protein we eat for vegetable protein. It’s not painful, unless we make it so. Many British people used to eat dhal every day. They called it pease pudding, pease pottage or pea soup. As in South Asia, its ingredients varied from place to place and season to season. It’s just one component of a diet that offers plenty of variety – without trashing the great variety of life.

You know, the entirely organic, free range, one, that had everyone dead at 35.

And I think I know what’s wrong with these figures (and if this isn’t correct then do of course tell me):

The figures were so astounding that I refused to believe them. I found them buried in a footnote, and assumed at first that they must have been a misprint. So I checked the source, wrote to the person who first published them, and followed the citations. To my amazement, they appear to stand up.

A kilogramme of beef protein reared on a British hill farm can generate the equivalent of 643kg of carbon dioxide. A kilogramme of lamb protein produced in the same place can generate 749kg. One kilo of protein from either source, in other words, causes more greenhouse gas emissions than a passenger flying from London to New York.

Typically in these studies they measure the total emissions from all of the land used for the production. In he same way that that gigatonnes of water to make a burger counts all the rain that falls on all the grazing land used.

What they then don’t do is subtract from that water/emissions number whatever the water usage/emissions from the land would be without that production taking place. We thus get given the gross numbers, not the net.

So let us imagine that the uplands rewild, as George desires they do. Rabbits, deer and lynx presumably take over. And what are the emissions from that ecology, that we must then subtract from the current managed one, in order to reach the net figure?