Good

Looking at a listing of the Grammys. Just the major three sets of nominations, song, album, record.

I realise that I’ve heard none of the nominations. In fact, haven’t even heard of the majority of them or the artists.

Good.

This is really quite amazing

US public transportation is notoriously underdeveloped compared to most other wealthy countries. In fact, according to a recent study, the New York City subway is the only US rail system that ranks among the 10 busiest in the world.

Another report found that transit ridership fell in 31 of 35 major metropolitan areas last year, including in Washington, DC, Chicago, and New York City. However, 2018 has birthed some new transit projects, including a high-speed rail line from New Haven to Hartford, Connecticut, and the TEXRail, which will travel from downtown Fort Worth to DFW Airport.

Christof Spieler, a structural engineer and urban planner from Houston, has lots of opinions about public transit in America and elsewhere. In his new book, Trains, Buses, People: An Opinionated Atlas of US Transit, he maps out 47 metro areas that have rail transit or bus rapid transit, ranks the best and worst systems, and offers advice on how to build better networks. I recently spoke to him by phone about what cities are doing right and wrong in investing in public transit, and what they should focus on for future projects.

The bloke who works as an urban planner says that the cities doing well are those that employ lots of urban planners.

Remarkable that.

Oh joy

Cory Booker will decide whether to run for president ‘over the holidays’

Yup, only 23 months until the election.

Fortunately Ocasio Cortez is still too young. So it’s going to be Bernie, Pocahontas and some number of nobodies.

Joy.

Pensions are indeed deferred wages

Urgent talks are under way to avert a mass walkout on the railways in a growing row over pensions.

Tensions have risen over the Pensions Regulator’s demands that train companies and workers plug yawning deficits in their final-salary schemes.

Well, yes.

“We will always seek to protect our members’ deferred wages and resolve any issues in the best way possible, based on their wishes.”

Pensions are deferred wages. Therefore we’d better include pensions in our calculations of wages, hadn’t we?

So, public sector, you underpaid are you?

Willy Hutton’s gusset dampener

Huawei may protest its innocence – it’s a private company undertaking its own research – but nobody is fooled. Every substantial company in China has a Communist party committee overseeing it.

Will Hutton’s vision for Britain is only that those who sit on the committee be different. Federasts of course, the group clearly and obviously including Willy Hutton. Other than that there’s no difference.

This is amusing

Dalia Fleming of KeshetUK, a charity that works with LGBT+ Jews, says people in the Orthodox community faced “an impossible choice” between their sexual or gender identity and their religion.

“There has been a shift,” she said. “There is much more information available now, but there definitely needs to be more support for people who are LGBT+ and want to stay in the Orthodox community.”

Umm, well.

Bit like insisting you want to remain a Catholic priest after getting married*. It’s an either or really. To have come out rather does mean coming out of the community which insists that coming out is an anathema and those who do must be shunned.

*No, you can’t, although you might be able to become a priest already being married.

Didn’t think Downside would make the list

Using published figures, among the schools and colleges with the highest number of Oxbridge admissions are:

Westminster School, London (independent) – an average of 70-80 pupils each year have been offered places at Oxford and Cambridge in the last five years, the school says
Eton College, Berkshire (independent) – in 2014, 82 students were accepted to Oxbridge. The following year 68 were accepted
Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge (state sixth form college) – an average 60 pupils receive Oxbridge offers, the school says
St Paul’s School, London (independent) – 53 students went to Oxbridge in 2016 and 41 in 2015
Peter Symonds College, Hampshire (state sixth form college) – an average of 48 students received offers from Oxbridge over the past three years
St Paul’s Girls’ School, London (independent) – an average of 45 students went to Oxbridge each year between 2015 and 2017
King’s College School, London (independent) – sent 48 students to Oxbridge in 2017
Magdalen College School, Oxford (independent) – 44 students went to Oxbridge in 2018

Anti-Catholic bias I call that.

And what a surprise to see that the children of Oxbridge academics get into Oxbridge?

For Owen Jones – Any And Every Target Will Be Manipulated

Bless the cute cotton socks of the dear little boy. He’s still not grasped why that idea of a planned economy won’t work:

The educational segregation of children according to the bank balances of their parents – private education – needs to be abolished. But in the interim, it has always struck me that the only solution is to automatically enrol the best performing students from state school, taking class into account. If you grow up in a deprived ex-mining community and get two As and two Bs at A-level, you have outperformed someone at Harrow or Eton from a family of millionaires who gets four As. And until Oxbridge does this, it needs to stop pretending it represents Britain’s academic elite: because it doesn’t.

You’ve not got firm targets, written in stone. Within milliseconds they will be gamed. As with even the current reports that some are taken out of nice and private schools to be finished off at sixth form colleges so as to gain those deprivation points for their Oxbridge entry. Not that it woks all that well given the discretion the interviewers have these days…..but take away the discretion and it would.

Her numbers never do add up, do they?

Eight-year-old Finley has always had things tough. He has autism and a bowel condition, and is scared by crowds and noise. Finley’s mum, Lisa, is disabled and does the best she can, but the costs are colossal. Finley’s special nappies alone cost £60 a month. Since Lisa became too ill to work, social security has been their lifeline – from specialist food to keep Finley healthy to therapy toys to make him less anxious.

Then universal credit came in. The inbuilt six-week wait stopped the family’s only income – “[It] left me with literally no money in that time,” Lisa says – and her benefits now vary month to month.

What’s more, under universal credit, disabled kids like Finley are seeing their child disability payment cut in half – that’s a loss of more than £1,750 a year – and Lisa has had to start using her own disability benefits to top up Finley’s.

The family car recently broke down and they were housebound as they saved to fix it. Respite care for Finley – a precious breather for both him and Lisa – has ended. Even Christmas has to be rationed.

“We’ve had to limit Finley’s expectations about Christmas, saying that Santa will bring one or two presents this year,” Lisa says. “We’re not taking him to see Santa in the runup to Christmas because we can’t afford it.”

Who is the “we” here? And why isn’t the other part of the “we”‘s income included in the calculations?

Something about the American system

Moments before the execution, Miller was asked if he wanted to say anything, but his reply was not understandable. He was asked again and his attorney clarified that he was saying: “Beats being on death row.”

No, I’m not saying that there should be no punishment. But:

The study, “Designed to Break You,” collected accounts from former death-row prisoners who had been exonerated or who had received lesser sentences after their death sentences had been overturned. Their stories revealed numerous problems with death-row conditions, including, “mandatory solitary confinement, a total ban on contact visits with both attorneys and friends and family, substandard physical and psychological health care, and a lack of access to sufficient religious services.” Every prisoner on death row spends about 23 hours a day in an 8-by-12 foot cell for the duration of their time on death row.

Takes about 15 years to progress from sentence to execution.

Nah, sorry, don’t care, that’s wrong.

Where’s my cut?

Inside China’s audacious plan for global media dominance

Beijing is buying up media outlets and training scores of foreign journalists to ‘tell China’s story well’ – as part of a worldwide propaganda campaign of astonishing scope and ambition.

I’m always dubious about these people buying up journalists stories. Simply because I’m part of – even if a minor part of – the target market. And on one ever does offer to send me these sorts of cheques. Maybe I’m too minor but…..

It’s like the great climate change cover up. So, where’s my cash?

Am I being fair here?

A “generation of innovators” has been appointed to run the military in a shake-up of the top ranks of the Army, Navy and RAF.

The Ministry of Defence has announced new heads for the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force and two major promotions in key roles across the Armed Forces.

Senior military sources said the incoming defence chiefs were “innovators” who could ensure Britain’s armed forces would be fit to embrace new technology and a “reformist agenda”.

Innovator” here meaning woke and into the SJW mindset?

Be a bit more careful matey

NO PLATFORM, NO PROBLEM

Hmm.

To borrow from Oscar Wilde, it would take a heart of stone to read about the fall of Milo without laughing.

Milo, if you’re lucky enough to be unaware of him, is a vicious right-wing troll (and former Telegraph journalist) who managed to build a very lucrative empire by saying and doing hateful things. “Feminism is cancer” was one of his hits.

Milo discovered that the more hateful your views, the bigger your profile becomes – and the bigger your profile, the more money you can make.

His rise demonstrated that despite what people in the media may have you believe, terrible views don’t die when you expose them; the people with those views just gain some more followers and make the world a slightly worse place. The same trick is working for the stupid man’s philosopher Jordan Peterson, and for former Trump strategist and human bin fire Steve Bannon.

Milo was kicked off Twitter, the no platforming worked.

Well, yes. And to take an example which isn’t personal here. It really wasn’t all that long ago that society said that the promotion of homosexuality was something that shouldn’t have a platform. Not long before that the act itself was a crime. And it was only two centuries ago – a blink in real terms – that this country executed more men in one year for buggery than murder.

A reasonable lesson from this being that no, we don’t want to no platform. Because if that power is around then it might well be us subject to it.

The Potato Planner Speaks!

The UK is a relatively lightly taxed country – and it shows

Oh aye?

The UK is much less lightly taxed than, say, Germany, the Netherlands and France.

As the OECD notes:

The OECD average tax-to-GDP ratio rose slightly in 2017, to 34.2%, compared to 34.0% in 2016. The OECD average is now higher than at any previous point, including its earlier peaks of 33.8% in 2000 and 33.6% in 2007.

OK. So, UK taxation?

Britain is on track this year for the highest tax burden since 1969-70, at 34.6 per cent, according to forecasts released by the Office for Budget Responsibility alongside last month’s budget.

Aren’t we, err, averagely taxed?

The questions are obvious. The first is whether our light taxation is worth it: we are getting dire services and poor social protection as a result.

Actually, if we’re paying about the same and getting worse shouldn’t we be having a vociferous work or two with the fuckwits doing the spending?

Even by the OECD slightly different definition we’re still mid-list.

Seems reasonable

Potential jurors hold “alarming” views about sexual violence, a major report into attitudes towards rape has revealed.

A survey commissioned by the End Violence Against Women Coalition found that a third of people in the UK think it isn’t usually rape if a woman is pressured into having sex but there is no physical violence.

Almost a quarter of the 4,000 people questioned in the Attitudes to Sexual Consent survey carried out by Yougov believed sex without consent in long-term relationships was usually not rape. Laws against rape in marriage have been in place since 1991.

The results came as Jeremy Corbyn warned that the country was facing a “rape crisis”, and as MPs welcomed a survivor of Rotherham’s child exploitation scandal to the Commons.

The report revealed a stark generational gap in attitudes – with more than a third of over-65s believing that in most cases sex without consent with your wife or partner was not rape, compared with just 16% of 16- to 24-year-olds.

We’ve not actually had laws against marital rape since 1991. What the Lords found was that the exception to rape – the general consent to conjugal bits given by the fact of marriage – wasn’t actually an exception which existed in law. But pendantry.

But that peoples’ attitude, beliefs about, something reflect what reality was when they were young and learning? The surprise here is what?

What fun eh?

The rate of babies diagnosed with milk allergies has risen 500 per cent in a decade due to links between the formula industry and doctors, an investigation suggests.

Experts warn that the health of infants and their mothers is being harmed and rates of breastfeeding damaged thanks to over-broad diagnostic criteria drawn up with the help of vested interests.

Published in the British Medical Journal, the investigation found that prescriptions for specialist formula milks used to treat cows’ milk protein allergy (CMPA) rose from 105,029 in 2006 to more than 600,000 in 2016, with the NHS bill increasing from £8.1 million to more over £60 million annually.

Change the population and you’ll change the incidence of genetically rated conditions, won’t you?

Further, a generation or two after you’ve created formula that doesn’t kill – essentially, clean water for all – you’ll find lactose intolerance rising as those who carry it won’t have died as babies.

Sure, there’s also that possibility of bribery but……

Essentially, the complaint is that the NHS allows the formula companies to print leaflets about cow’s milk allergies. Ho Hum.