Quote of the Day

“There are basically two ways to fight the US military: asymmetrically and stupid.”

HR McMaster

Little thing that interests me here. McMasters is, in that picture, wearing only 6 ribbons. Which is about what you might expect on a seasoned British officer (campaign medals etc without any gallantry awards, around and about these days, no?) but that’s a pittance for a septic. Gongs get handed out for learning how to fold the paper before wiping.

So what’s the story? Does he have some unusually low number of gongs for an American officer of his age and rank? Is he wearing some special short list to not show off? What?

OK, looking at Wikipedia he’s got a much longer list than he’s wearing in the picture. So, what’s the story there? You only wear the important ones with the posh uniform?

Doesn’t sound quite right, does it?

The Met Office is warning of significant disruption from gale-force winds and heavy rain in much of Britain as the balmy start to the week is due to be blown away by Storm Doris.

Doris? A storm called Doris?

Names are very strongly associated with fashion and thus the age and class of the person with that name. Commonly, a name will start out as a Royal one – or more recently very well known in some other manner – and then move down the classes over the years.

Yes, OK, Doris Day, Doris Lessing, but the current position of the name in the British iconography is about right for a great grandmother of no great status or position in life (other, of course, then being the matriarch). It’s just difficult to think of a Storm Doris, what, a storm of teacosies and chilblain plasters?

Spud should take note

I like pineapples, just not on pizza. I do not have the power to make laws which forbid people to put pineapples on their pizza. I am glad that I do not hold such power. Presidents should not have unlimited power. I would not want to hold this position if I could pass laws forbidding that which I don´t like. I would not want to live in such a country. For pizzas, I recommend seafood.

Politics is not about forcing people to follow your tastes.

That unbreakable position

Emmanuel Macron has warned British leaders that the UK can expect no concessions in Brexit negotiations if he is elected French president, vowing to take a rigid line on access to the EU’s single market and the powers of the European Court.

Macron, a frontrunner in France’s increasingly fraught presidential race, stood on the steps of Downing Street and also vowed to lure bankers and talented professionals from Britain.

Mr Macron vowed to push for an unbreakable “Franco-German position” to defend the collective interests of the EU, presumably to prevent the UK trying to split off countries as talks drag on. He would ensure that British withdrawal from the union is fully compliant with the strict terms of EU treaty law.

That Franco German position being the French get to spend the Germans pay because guilt, right?

Something of a shitstorm coming

ABritish Islamic State fighter who carried out a suicide bombing in Iraq this week is a former Guantanamo Bay detainee who was paid £1 million compensation by the government.

Jamal al-Harith, a Muslim convert born Ronald Fiddler who detonated a car bomb at an Iraqi army base near Mosul, was released from the US detention camp in 2004 and successfully claimed compensation after saying British agents knew or were complicit in his mistreatment.

He was freed following intense lobbying by Tony Blair’s Labour government.

Still shouldn’t lock people up without convicting them of something…..

Who’s the client?

A leading tax lawyer is planning to challenge Uber in the courts over what he alleges could be a £20m-a-year black hole in its tax payments in the UK.

Jolyon Maugham QC said he was preparing to submit a case to the high court that would argue the US taxi app company should be paying VAT on fares, which he estimated would total almost £20m for 2015.

Lawyers tend not to work for free after all.

Think he might have a hole in his reasoning too. He’s supporting the claim with he idea that drivers have worker status, thus it’s Uber providing the transportation. But UK law distinguishes between worker and employed status…..

Still, the way I read this is as with The Spud. Let’s do some agitating in order to gain ermine. The QC deciding to avoid, in my opinion of course, the hard work and low pay of being a judge along the way.

Quite true, that’s ephebophilia

“You’re misunderstanding what pedophilia means,” he told the hosts of a podcast. “Pedophilia is not a sexual attraction to somebody 13 years old who is sexually mature. Pedophilia is attraction to children who have not reached puberty.”

It’s a difficult distinction to make in front of the mob though.

Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos resigns ……

Is it?

My word:

As readers of this blog are well aware, who gets what from economic globalisation is as much a function of the machinations of finance as any relative productive capacity in the strictest physical sense.

The distribution of rewards from economic globalisation appears to be going absolutely as anyone would have predicted.

The highly paid low skill labour has been, at worst, not gaining very much while the lowly paid low skill labour has been making out like gangbusters. The owners of the now more scarce capital have been doing well for themselves.

Given that we don’t think we will ever be adding another couple of billion low paid low skilled workers to the global economy that’s that done with. And given demography we expect the global labour force to be shrinking from here on in. At which point we also expect returns to capital to be lowering, returns to labour to be rising.

Really just absolutely standard stuff and fuck all to do with the machinations of finance.

So stop bloody flying around thew world then Mason, you idiot!

It hits you in the face and clings to you. It makes tall buildings whine as their air conditioning plants struggle to cope. It makes the streets deserted and the ice-cold salons of corner pubs get crowded with people who don’t like beer. It is the Aussie heatwave: and it is no joke.

Temperatures in the western suburbs of Sydney, far from the upmarket beachside glamour, reached 47C (117F) last week, topping the 44C I experienced there the week before.

Oop North

This is not, however, a complete answer. We cannot leave the North of England with a 19th-century economy of whippet flanges and barm cake production purely because it’s more lucrative to upgrade southern commuter lines. And IPPR North are quite correct that at a more basic level, it is supply-side reform that we need.

Milo’s in a bit of trouble then

Reading around it appears that a bit got lost in translation. He using British (and possibly slightly gay) English and referring to boys with older men, meaning twinks of 16 to 18 with 30 and 40 year old boyfriends. Americans leaping in and insisting he means 13 year olds with adults.

Hmm. The problem with the case for the defence here is that Americans are odd about age gaps anyway. Not entirely but in general they think people should only date within their own age group, a couple of years different perhaps. A decade gap is looked upon as really rather odd, especially late 20s reaching down into late teens.

Don’t insist that’s it of course, just that’s my reading of it so far.

I tend to think that this won’t work out well

An Aim-listed miner is hoping to drive off with a slice of the European electric car market by reviving an old lithium mine near Dresden.

Bacanora Minerals, which is developing a lithium project in Mexico to cater for the Asian market, now wants a toehold in Europe, and believes it can feed the German auto industry by reopening the Zinnwald mine in southern Saxony.


The company will pay €5m (£4.26m) for a 50pc stake in Zinnwald, and put another €5m into a feasibility study over the next 18 months. Should the project pass muster, it will have the option to buy out its partner, SolarWorld AG, for a further €30m.

‘Coz, y’see, I know SolarWorld and their work on this deposit. And at least at the last update I got it made economic sense if the mineral containing the lithium was already above ground. But it didn’t if you had to go and dig it up.

Bacanora would use processing techniques developed at its Sonora mine in Mexico in its German operation,

Don’t really see that happening either. It’s entirely different minerals, y’see?

But, obviously, I can be wrong about these things.

Appropriate really

The Star-Spangled Banner looked more starry than usual during one of US Vice President Mike Pence’s appearances in Brussels.

A background picture of the American flag that went up alongside the European Union flag as Mr Pence and EU leader Donald Tusk spoke on Monday had 51 stars instead of the usual 50, one for each state.

We are joining them after we bugger off, aren’t we?

But what’s actually amusing about it is, well, where in buggery do you get one with the extra star anyway?

Not really the way it works matey

The European Commission wants Britain to be paying into EU projects for four years after it has signed a Brexit deal, with final payments continuing up until the end of 2023, the Daily Telegraph has learned.

The plan is part of a European Union demand that Britain settles a €60bn “Brexit bill” before being granted a deal that will govern future trade relations.
The aim of the payments would be to help smooth over the €10bn-a-year black hole left in the EU budgets by Britain’s departure from the EU, which could see richer countries like Germany and France paying more, or poorer countries, like Poland and Hungary receiving less.

No, our bill isn’t determined by your post-our-departure budget.

Sexism at Uber

After the first couple of weeks of training, I chose to join the team that worked on my area of expertise, and this is where things started getting weird. On my first official day rotating on the team, my new manager sent me a string of messages over company chat. He was in an open relationship, he said, and his girlfriend was having an easy time finding new partners but he wasn’t. He was trying to stay out of trouble at work, he said, but he couldn’t help getting in trouble, because he was looking for women to have sex with. It was clear that he was trying to get me to have sex with him, and it was so clearly out of line that I immediately took screenshots of these chat messages and reported him to HR.

Uber was a pretty good-sized company at that time, and I had pretty standard expectations of how they would handle situations like this. I expected that I would report him to HR, they would handle the situation appropriately, and then life would go on – unfortunately, things played out quite a bit differently. When I reported the situation, I was told by both HR and upper management that even though this was clearly sexual harassment and he was propositioning me, it was this man’s first offense, and that they wouldn’t feel comfortable giving him anything other than a warning and a stern talking-to. Upper management told me that he “was a high performer” (i.e. had stellar performance reviews from his superiors) and they wouldn’t feel comfortable punishing him for what was probably just an innocent mistake on his part.

I was then told that I had to make a choice: (i) I could either go and find another team and then never have to interact with this man again, or (ii) I could stay on the team, but I would have to understand that he would most likely give me a poor performance review when review time came around, and there was nothing they could do about that. I remarked that this didn’t seem like much of a choice, and that I wanted to stay on the team because I had significant expertise in the exact project that the team was struggling to complete (it was genuinely in the company’s best interest to have me on that team), but they told me the same thing again and again. One HR rep even explicitly told me that it wouldn’t be retaliation if I received a negative review later because I had been “given an option”. I tried to escalate the situation but got nowhere with either HR or with my own management chain (who continued to insist that they had given him a stern-talking to and didn’t want to ruin his career over his “first offense”).

So I left that team, and took quite a few weeks learning about other teams before landing anywhere (I desperately wanted to not have to interact with HR ever again). I ended up joining a brand-new SRE team that gave me a lot of autonomy, and I found ways to be happy and do amazing work. In fact, the work I did on this team turned into the production-readiness process which I wrote about in my bestselling (!!!) book Production-Ready Microservices.

Umm, this is sexism?

It’s a number of things, sure, including most undesirable that management should be propositioning those who work for them, but sexism?

The other stuff about organisational chaos and bureaucratic backstabbing seems like every large organisation everywhere everywhen.

Fake News Scandal!

One of Britain’s most successful orchestras is moving to Belgium amid fears that its musicians may be among the victims of a post-Brexit crackdown on immigration.

The European Union Baroque Orchestra has been based in Oxfordshire since 1985, but will give its last UK concert in its current form at St John’s Smith Square, London, on 19 May, before moving to Antwerp.

Marmite, is there nothing it cannot achieve?

History will remember the glory and romance of Lincoln City’s improbable triumph, memories fixing on the drama that has propelled a non-League club into the FA Cup quarter-finals for the first time in more than a century.

Yet the secrets underpinning this remarkable leap to immortality are rather more mundane. Theirs is a success founded upon hard work, and Marmite on toast.

More proof needed here

The average driver will spend 32 hours a year in traffic jams, a report has found as online shopping is blamed for the rise in congestion.

The UK was found to be the third worst country in Europe for traffic congestion, with the direct and direct costs of hold-ups reaching £31 billion last year, an average of £968 per driver.

Online shopping has contributed to the rising levels, according to analysts, with figures showing the number of delivery vans on the roads has increased in the last five years.

A rise in the number of delivery vans, yes. But presumably a fall in the number of trips by car to the shops.

And yes, one stop by a van will only drop off one thing, while one trip to the shops will buy many things – normally. But then one delivery round by a van will, presumably, deliver many more things that a trip to the shops.

I don’t know the actual outcome here. But it’s more complex than more vans thus more congestion.