What Horrors, What Horrors

Part of the problem is that during the campaign and beyond, the sources of right-wing disinformation have been diffuse. Some of it comes from Russian-backed sources, absolutely. But a lot comes from sleazy right-wing operators stateside. Many of these folks aren’t even getting paid, but are part of a volunteer army of “alt-right” propagandists.

Isn’t it just appalling when the citizenry talk among themselves? They might even be guilty of Notgoodthink, eh?

There’s a very simple answer to this

The London Metal Exchange is investigating whether cobalt mined by children is being traded in London after members raised concerns about a Chinese supplier.

The exchange is also surveying members to ask how they will guarantee “responsible sourcing”, which it says is part of a “broader push” that it was pursuing independently.

Amnesty International investigators have traced cobalt from small independent mines that use child labour in the Democratic Republic of Congo into electronic goods made by famous brands, via Chinese trading companies.

OK. No doubt that it happens as well. The question being, well, what do we do about it?

One answer is nothing.

Another is that we push out the blood minerals legislation to cobalt. That would be a very bad idea indeed. The system designed by the idiots currently costs 100 times what we were told it would.

So, is there a better system?

The LME said in an email to its members that it “would expect that any specific concerns will be addressed as part of our existing efforts”. A spokeswoman said: “We have strict guidelines and criteria for brands [producers] wishing to list their products on the LME. Any evidence of sub-standard practices that fall short of our requirements would be investigated by the LME and action would be taken.

Yes, there is. The LME doesn’t just trade a specific metal. The producer has to meet certain standards. And they really do go check the consistency and so on. Further, being and LME “brand” is something that is valuable. So, incorporate the industry smelter controls into the LME standard (the industry is, with those blood minerals, actually rather good at checking the origin of ore etc for the covered materials) and we’re done. We’ve got economics on our side. People using the child produced material will get a lower price. Users who are concerned about child labour can buy an LME brand knowing that they’re not eploiting.

We’re done aren’t we?

Good grief, I didn’t realise this

Pettigo is unique in Ireland as it is the only village divided by the border after Ireland gained independence from Britain in 1922. The river that runs beneath his workshop window places Johnston’s Protestant family in Northern Ireland and his largely Catholic neighbours on the other side of the 1820s cut-stone bridge in the republic of Ireland.

So Spike didn’t look that far for the name Puckoon then.

Quite my favourite part of which (well, favourite single joke) is the way the border runs through the pub. So there are two different tax regimes, two different sets of opening hours. The regulars moving across the room to cross the lines as appropriate.

Nonsense twatty stupidity over stamp duty

Helping first-time buyers is noble, but movers need a stamp duty cut too, says SIMON LAMBERT… and perhaps the seller should pay

Incidence, incidence!

However, the general whining over on the left is that this won’t reduce house prices. So,? And?

Transactions taxes gum up a market, make it less liquid. That’s why they’re such bad taxes. Their deadweights are hugely high as compared to income, consumption or land taxes. They’re actually even worse than capital and corporate taxes in this manner.

So, get rid of bad transaction taxes, raise other less bad ones for a neutral overall stance and we’re better off just be changing how we tax, not the level of taxation.

Interesting factoid – the IFS has an old paper out there pointing out that stamp duty on shares, total revenue will rise upon its abolition such are the deadweights of transactions taxes. Another factoid – the EU insisted that a financial transactions tax would lower total revenues, such are the deadweights. I wouldn’t want to insist that this would be true of stamp duty on houses but it wouldn’t surprise me if that were the outcome as well.

Transactions taxes are bad taxes, we shouldn’t have them.

Isn’t the level of economic knowledge here remarkable?

UK productivity is dire, and will not improve on the basis of the paltry sums to be spent on training mentioned yesterday, welcome as such pittances are. In that case growth is not going to happen, and any inflation there is arises purely from exchange rate shocks, which cannot be addressed or corrected by Bank of England action. So, to put it another way, interest rate rises should be off the Bank of England agenda for a very long time to come.

1) The idea that productivity is something determined by government spending.

2) The idea that interest rates and monetary policy do not influence the exchange rate and thus cannot influence inflation caused by the exchange rate.

It’s worth our recalling that this man is employed to teach economics in a British university.

Again, the misuse of “despite”

Despite a national hunting ban, the attitude to bears has become increasingly hostile, with some remote villagers taking matters into their own hands

As is so often true it should be “because.”

Then, last October, the Romanian government made a surprise decision to ban the hunting of bears and other large carnivores altogether. The environmental minister, Cristiana Pașca Palmer, a newly appointed, avowedly progressive politician largely at odds with her political surroundings, claimed that under European law “hunting for money was already illegal, but it was given a green light anyway.” The idea that hunting was acting to protect citizens from bears was, she claimed, just a cover for the hunting industry and based on nothing but pseudoscience. Conservationists across the world threw their hands together in applause.

Sure, nature is nice to have around but apex predators are indeed apex predators. And when there are two around, humans and bears, that second needs controlling in some manner. Or, obviously, the humans and their activities will be predated.

This will be very amusing indeed

Malia Obama’s boyfriend has been revealed to be a former British public schoolboy who met the former first daughter at Harvard University.

Rory Farquharson, a former head boy at the prestigious Rugby School, was linked to Barack Obama’s eldest daughter after footage emerged appearing to show them kissing during the Harvard v Yale American football game.

Just the idea of the airheads populating American news reporting attempting to pronounce that name. Even I’m not sure how the family actually does it but I would guess something close to “Farson.” There’s an amusing little blog there in clips of people trying to say it…..

Well done to My Lord Melchett here, Oh very well done indeed My Lord.

No, not the Blackadder one, this is Peter Melchett of the Soil Association. He’s taken issue with something from yesterday and left this in the comments:

Peter Melchett
November 22, 2017 at 4:23 pm [Edit]
Tim Worstall says ‘to big up organic farming’ the Soil Association decided ‘to make up this stuff about a cocktail’ of pesticides. This week’s Conference at the Royal Society of Medicine heard presentations from scientists about recent (peer reviewed, published) scientific research. Papers cited include: Pettis, et al; 2013; PLOS ONE, 8 (7) 70182 ; and Traynor et al; Scientific Reports, 2016; 6: 33207 DOI: 10.1038/srep33207, which suggest that mixtures or ‘cocktails’ of pesticides present at well below the official regulatory level (the MRL) pose a risk, and that eating a succession of pesticides at well below the MRL can also pose previously unidentified risks (Ashauer et al; Environ. Sci. Technol., 2017, 51 (5), pp 3084–3092). No MRLs are set for mixtures or succession consumption, nor given the potential diversity of mixtures and successions, could they be. Given this, a scientist at the conference was asked what people should do, and he said the only way to minimise pesticide intake was to eat organic food.
Peter Melchett, Policy Director, Soil Association and organic farmer.

Hmm. Well, Pettis is here.

Recent declines in honey bee populations and increasing demand for insect-pollinated crops raise concerns about pollinator shortages. Pesticide exposure and pathogens may interact to have strong negative effects on managed honey bee colonies.

That’s not exactly about pesticide cocktails, is it? Rather more about the interaction between exposure and infestations with mites and the like.

Traynor is here.

This study measured part of the in-hive pesticide exposome by analyzing residues from live in-hive bees, stored pollen, and wax in migratory colonies over time and compared exposure to colony health.

Not really about cocktails either. Ashauer:

“The dose makes the poison”. This principle assumes that once a chemical is cleared out of the organism (toxicokinetic recovery), it no longer has any effect. However, it overlooks the other process of re-establishing homeostasis, toxicodynamic recovery, which can be fast or slow depending on the chemical. Therefore, when organisms are exposed to two toxicants in sequence, the toxicity can differ if their order is reversed.

Well, yes, if I’ve already fried my liver then booze will have a different effect than if I have the booze, recover, then fry. But then it’s not really cocktails, is it?

And let’s remind ourselves what the Soil Associations’s original claim was, the one I was commenting upon:

The number of chemicals on supermarket vegetables has increased by up to 17 fold in 40 years, data shows, as the organic food industry and scientists have warned that consumers are exposed to a “toxic cocktail” of pesticides.
Figures released for the first time by the Soil Association, which certifies organic food, show the number of toxic chemicals found in onions, leeks, wheat and potatoes has been steadily increasing since the 1960s.

Well, yes, two studies on bees and one on a crustacean, all about direct exposure to pesticides and none specifically about a cocktail of them nor the effects of, is used as proof that a declining level of pesticides, but more varieties of them, upon supermarket vegetables is a threat to human health.

Up to a point Lord Copper, up to a point.

Given this, a scientist at the conference was asked what people should do, and he said the only way to minimise pesticide intake was to eat organic food.

Well, yes, when considering the cocktail of natural and man-made pesticides in food eating only organic will reduce your pesticide exposure by perhaps 0.1%, maybe 0.01%.

So, hands up all who believe My Lord Melchett is attempting to advance science here and how many think he’s the head of a trade union for organic farmers trying to big up the practice?

Ritchie’s budget speech

I believe that they need a national government that will negotiate a new agreement with the European Union that will be in the best interests of the people of the whole of the UK; that will keep us in the Customs Union and the Single Market; that will prevent a crisis in Ireland, that will provide stability for the businesses of this country; and which will let us continue to work in partnership with our neighbours on issues such as economic development, academic research,

Ah yes, that’s right. His EU grant doesn’t last until retirement date, does it?

How people do misunderstand

Well, no, not really:

When feminists fought for rights such as not being sacked for becoming pregnant, or maternity pay, many business owners argued that this was an infringement of their rights. Some believed that a woman asking a small, struggling business owner for maternity pay while she couldn’t work was profoundly selfish.

This was solved by the taxpayers (through the reduction in NI payments collected) coughing up for the maternity pay.

Growing up being perceived by others as a feminine gay boy certainly wasn’t easy, but once I transitioned, in my 20s, things radically changed. The flashes of misogyny I witnessed when I was younger are now, as they are for most women, a daily reality. Some of this is banal – like the men on dating websites who call me a “stuck-up bitch” or a “desperate slag” when I turn them down. Some is more structural: when I get into my 30s, the gender pay gap will widen and I will find myself on the “wrong” side of it.

Well, no. Childless women don’t particularly have a pay gap. In fact, on average, never married childless women in their 40s have a pay premium.


The study produced by a team led by psychologists from City, University of London, was based on evidence collected by different researchers across the Western world over decades, with some dating back to the 1930s.
It said: ‘Despite methodological variation in the choice and number of toys offered, context of testing, and age of child, the consistency in finding sex differences in children’s preferences for toys typed to their own gender indicates the strength of this phenomenon and the likelihood that it has a biological origin.’
The paper added that there were robust differences between the toy choices of girls and boys, and that this was so across decades and in different experiments.
This, the study said, ‘indicates an innate influence on this behaviour.’

Girls and boys might be different shocker!

An interesting thought is that if they’re not then why have profit maximising toy producers been making the distinction all these years?

Well, yes, I suppose it is

Danone did not give details about the environmental impact of the process, but said on Tuesday ocean water was a renewable source and that Kona Deep sources it in a “responsible and sustainable manner.”

Not sure this bit works though:

After being pumped through a pipe that reaches 3,000 feet below the ocean’s surface, Kona Deep desalinates the water using reverse osmosis, and bottles it.

The two-year-old company says its water has a unique blend of naturally occurring electrolytes and minerals that make it extra-hydrating.

Desalination is the removal of those minerals and electrolytes.

Numbers, numbers

The group behind Jeremy Corbyn’s rise to the top of Labour is backing a policy to treble council tax to more than £10,000 year for people living in the largest homes.

Far left activists in Bristol are proposing to increase council tax for the largest homes by 200 per cent to stop cuts to council services.

The council tax changes could raise £25.8million if the owners of the top eight per cent of homes – around 15,266 households – paid the new charge.

It’s not an entirely terrible idea to be honest. 200% might be rather over cooking it.

But 15,266 households? 1.5 million maybe…..

Any tech type like to collaborate on a little adventure?

So, continuing to look around for things that can be done. And why not start to think like an economist a bit?

What is it that I know that I can do? What’s a comparative advantage?

Well, after a decade of doing it I do know that I can write stuff that Google picks up. Not necessarily exactly and absolutely the very finest of everything going viral but sound enough stuff that doesn’t violate guidelines an appears high enough in search (especially Google News).

So, perhaps that is what I should be doing?

But I have zero technical skills. And someone with reasonable technical skills would make a site trying to do that work much, much, better.

So, that’s the adventure. I’ll put in all the grunt work of producing material that appeals to search engines. On the tech side I need a site, all the background stuf that aids in search engine picking it up, plus signing up to ad networks an all that.

A little more. I’m convinced that static sites are the way to go here. Django, something like that. The front end should look like a newspaper site. Back end, as far as possible, something like WordPress (or other similar editor). But in the technical sense the site is static, not dynamic, in order to increase loading times. That increases search ranking all on its lonesome. Ads obviously will be dynamic but that doesn’t matter, Google ranks according to the page load, not what happens after that.

Hmm, so, anyone? I’ve a proven ability – on the right platform – to get 500k to 1 million page views a month. Ad rates, when you have a few different ads on a screen, are perhaps $5/000.


Anyone any experience with essay writing services?

Casting around for some work. One obvious possibility is the various essay writing services out there. I should be able to turn out an econ essay after all.

Anyone got any experience as a writer of them? As a supplier to these companies? Any suggestions and all that?

I have something of a feeling that this is generally being done by Third World types and the rates of pay reflect that but who knows, maybe that’s not true?

This is truly fun about the Whitefish contract

So, Whitefish is the two man company that was hire to deal with Puerto Rico’s power system being down.

The basic idea of hiring a tiny company isn’t that strange. Much of the US Federal contracting system works this way. Hire some tiny company to run the subcontracting process – because that gets all of it away from the horribly restrictive rules on how direct Federal employees must be hired and treated.


So, why did this specific one win the contract? Well, there’s talk about political pull and who the hell knows? But something we do know. PR’s credit rating is somewhere between non-existent and in the toilet. The other companies contacted were asking for substantial upfront payments therefore. Whitefish asked for much less in advance.


When asked by the CNN interviewer if he would do this again, Techmanksi paused and replied: “I would, I would do a lot of things different.”

“I would probably get paid a lot more up front to cover the risks.”

Oh, why’s that?

Prepa said that pending payments had been halted after a Whitefish subcontractor contacted the authority requesting the stoppage because Whitefish owed them money. “Faced with this claim, Prepa had to stop the pending payments to Whitefish until the situation with the Whitefish subcontractor is clarified,” its statement read.

Isn’t that a classic move? Bankrupt your supplier and then cut the amount owed through negotiating with the liquidator. Or even taking over the company itself now that it’s bust. Or, perhaps, negotiating down the amount that must be paid to aid it in avoiding bankruptcy.

And the reason Whitefish got the contract was because those other potential suppliers were wise to this perhaps? Or even, were large enough that the trick couldn’t be pulled on them?

No, no, they don’t

Russia reports radioactivity 986 times the norm after nuclear accident claim

Rather, they report levels of one specific radioactive isotope near 1,000 times normal.

Background radiation up to 1 k normal levels would be a crisis. 1 k normal levels of this type of Ruthenium are an interesting little puzzle we’d like to find the answer to but not a danger to anything in any manner.

An increase of 1,000 times in the amount of music being played would be a large change. An increase of 1,000 times in one specific single being played on the radio is something different, no?

Well, yes, isn’t this interesting?

The number of chemicals on supermarket vegetables has increased by up to 17 fold in 40 years, data shows, as the organic food industry and scientists have warned that consumers are exposed to a “toxic cocktail” of pesticides.

Figures released for the first time by the Soil Association, which certifies organic food, show the number of toxic chemicals found in onions, leeks, wheat and potatoes has been steadily increasing since the 1960s.

We have indeed been increasing yields etc since then with more science.

This is despite industry data showing that the volume of pesticides found on supermarket vegetables has halved since the 1990s.

That’s also a fairly important finding, isn’t it?

So, what is really happening here? The Soil Association has got tired of us all pointing out that there seems to be no evidence at all of any harm coming from the level of pesticides found on supermarket veg. Thus, to big up organic farming they’ve decided to make up this stuff about a cocktail of them.

There isn’t anything else going on here.