More on David Lammy’s Oxbridge numbers

Only one in four Cambridge colleges made offers to black British students in every year between 2010 and 2015. Of those, many made just one or two offers apiece. And each year over that period, a quarter of colleges failed to make any offers at all to black British applicants.

Hmm, OK, well, is this bad or is it statistical normality?

During this period, an average of 378 black students per year got 3 A grades or better at A-levels.

It’s not quite true that 3 A grades is the starting point for Oxbridge access because they will indeed take the potential not just the achievement to date into account. But, still, a useful starting point.

There are 38 colleges at Oxford, 31 at Cambridge (close enough anyway). Given that not everyone with that sort of level of academic achievement actually tries to enter Oxbridge then what do we think should be the offer rate to these Black Britons? It’s most certainly not 4 offers per college per year, is it? Or 6, or whatever 400 divided by 70 is.

Given the small numbers the stats are going to be weird anyway, but what is the number of total offers made by all colleges, related to the total number of people who get 3 A grades? Vriance from that would probably be a good starting point for us.

Lammy does however make a good point:

With this degree of disproportionately against black students, it is time to ask the question of whether there is systematic bias.

I’m certainly willing to believe there is. I am not deluded enough to think that Britain is perfect, nor its education system. But I would probably start with the thought that the bias is in the system that leads to the 400 not with the selection within it.

Or, in the vernacular, inner city schools are shite and that’s the problem. You know, the stuff already being done near exclusively by the State?

None of these excuses stand up to scrutiny. In 2011, 103 state-educated students in Sunderland got 3 A grades or better at A-levels, yet only four offers of a place at Oxbridge were made to applicants from Sunderland. Over the course of four years (2011-14 inclusive), 851 students in Wigan got 3 As or better – so why did only 29 get offered a place to study at Oxbridge in that same period?

Lammy laddie, how many applied?

And now, here, we see the game:

It is time to move away from the highly subjective college-based system and centralise admissions.

That’s what he’s really after. Move selection into a central bureaucracy and then it can be controlled in the usual SJW manner. We only need to look at HR departments in large companies to see how that works out.


Rees-Mogg was praised by some sections of the media for “politely taking on” protesters. But let’s be absolutely clear: this isn’t a gentleman’s debate: it is a material fight against a ruling class waging economic and political violence on working-class people. As nervous as I was, I knew that I had to voice the opposition to his views.

Wolfie Smith was comedy not documentary.

Trots do as Trots do

Nick Dearden is one of the Trot Boys over at Global Justice Now (Used to be World Development Movement until people realised how nutty it was). Here we have him on antibiotics:

First, take pharmaceuticals – the most profitable sector in the world. The so-called big pharma companies maintain their profit margins through very long monopolies on new (or newly adapted) drugs, as well as all manner of financial shenanigans. Far from requiring these decades-long patents to allow them to research new drugs, these companies actually spend far more on advertising than they do on research. They also spend more on stock buybacks to keep their share price high in the money markets.

This is to miss, entirely, why we have patents in the first place. Which is that the regulatory structure leads to it costing $1 to $2 billion to get a new drug approved. But that cost is a public good. Once it’s been done it’s easy to copy, so, how do we make it so that people can profit from spending the $2 billion so that people spend the next $2 billion.

Note that this is nothing at all about how they ought to, or it is righteous that, they make a profit. It’s about how do we get the next drug discovered for the next $2 billion?

Our answer is, and it might not even be the right one, that we give a 20 year exclusivity to the production of the approved drug. This actually works out as a decade or so, as the patent runs from the entry into the system, not the approval, that approval taking perhaps a decade.

I, and just about everyone else, am willing to consider whether this is the right solution. But it is necessary to understand the problem that we’re trying to solve.

As to advertising spend and so on – well, yes, if you’ve got only 10 years to make back your $2 billion wouldn’t you want to tell people and quickly?

Big pharma is the epitome of monopoly capitalism. It’s not going to waste its time developing new, fallback antibiotics that will only be used as a “medicine of last resort” – because by the time their use becomes widespread, the patents will have expired and the profits will be gone.

Now, that is actually a problem, yes. One that many people are working upon, up to and including direct subsidy of drug producers to create new antibiotics so as to overcome that very financing problem.

Clamping down on antibiotic prescriptions might be important, but we also need to transform the corporate model that brought us here. Big pharma and agribusiness requires heavy regulation.

Ah, no, Trot Boy has the answer, just let me play Fat Controller and she’ll be fine.

What wondrous obfuscation

According to a new report from Quartz, Facebook plans to sign conservative magazine Weekly Standard as a fact checking partner. Several outlets currently work as fact checkers for the platform, though all the outlets Facebook has signed thus far have been approved by the Poynter Institute.

Poynter does not include any right-wing news outlets on its list of media that follow its code of principles, but according to one person briefed on Facebook’s plan to strike a deal with Weekly Standard, the partnership is part of Facebook’s attempts to to “appease all sides.”

No one has applied long enough ago to go through the process that is. Several have applied and are in the process.


The Weekly Standard has a history of publishing far-right talking points, including saying the Iraq war was a “war to be proud of” in 2005 and calling medical marijuana a “charade” in 2010.

The conservative magazine also has a history of denying the reality of climate change, and recently ran an article it called “Dadaist Science.”

“Look under the hood on climate change ‘science’ and what you see isn’t pretty,” Nathan Cofnas wrote for the magazine in July.

In 2009, ThinkProgress reported that the magazine misrepresented an MIT professor’s study estimating the costs of cap-and-trade. At the time, the professor told ThinkProgress’ Joe Romm that “the Weekly Standard reporter ‘feigned stupidity’ in an effort to elicit answers that could be taken out of context and misrepresented.”

In order for the Weekly Standard deal to go forward, Poynter would have to approve the Weekly Standard as following its code of principles, a process that could take several weeks.

The obfuscation being that the code of principles means following the code when fact checking, not when publishing opinion pieces in your own magazine.

Well, obviously this would happen

It can also be revealed that until last week Mermaids was advertising “same day” cross-sex hormone treatment for children. NHS guidelines do not allow the treatment, which causes irreversible bodily changes and can compromise fertility, for anyone under 16.

In a court case, reported last year, Mr Justice Hayden removed the seven-year-old child, known as “J”, from his mother after finding she had caused him “significant emotional harm” and “pressed [him] into a gender identification that had far more to do with his mother’s needs and little, if anything, to do with his own”.

There really are people out there more than a little nutty on every subject under the Sun. This will be true of sex changes for kids just as with anything else. Clearly and obviously this will happen.

Well, so McCarthy was right then

Popular ‘Blacktivist’ social media accounts were reportedly run by a Russia-linked group – not American activists – according to CNN. They used these accounts to spread pro-racial diversity messaging like topics on #BlackLivesMatter and and to promote anti-police brutality events. CNN reported on Friday that they also used the accounts to manufacture and sell merchandise such as t-shirts with black pride slogans. Apparently, the aim of their activities was to “stoke outrage” and “amplify racial tensions” in order to influence the 2016 U.S. election.

Well, OK, not McCarthy as he’s long dead. And not actually BLM either, as there’s nothing at all to suggest that Russia has been paying them. But, still, fun, no?

Lisa Nandy says

The state must also act to limit the power of corporations. This can only be achieved through international action, through those very institutions – the EU and Nato – that have been so attacked and discredited in recent decades.

Nato is part of corporate regulation now?

That march through the institutions has gone a long way

Levi Gahman, Lecturer: Radical Geography and Critical Development Studies, The University of the West Indies: St. Augustine Campus and Gabrielle Thongs, Assistant Lecturer, Geography Department, The University of the West Indies: St. Augustine Campus

Just got to love that first title there, don’t you?

These are not isolated instances of random bad luck. As University of the West Indies geographers who study risk perception and political ecology, we recognize the deep, human-induced roots of climate change, inequality and the underdevelopment of former colonies – all of which increase the Caribbean’s vulnerability to disaster.

Disaster risk is a function of both a place’s physical hazard exposure – that is, how directly it is threatened by disaster – and its social vulnerability, specifically, how resilient it is.
Across most Caribbean islands, hazard exposure is about the same, but research shows that poverty and social inequality drastically magnify the severity of disasters.
Haiti, where eight out of every 10 people live on less than $4 a day, offers an example of how capitalism, gender and history converge to compound storm damage.

The least capitalist economy in the area, Haiti, gets hardest hit by such disasters.

That’s not, obviously, the conclusion they draw, is it?

Bernie’s an idiot, isn’t he?

Foreign policy is not just tied into military affairs, it is directly connected to economics. Foreign policy must take into account the outrageous income and wealth inequality that exists globally and in our own country. This planet will not be secure or peaceful when so few have so much, and so many have so little – and when we advance day after day into an oligarchic form of society where a small number of extraordinarily powerful special interests exert enormous influence over the economic and political life of the world.
I am not naïve or unmindful of history.
Another challenge that we and the entire world face is growing wealth and income inequality, and the movement toward international oligarchy — a system in which a small number of billionaires and corporate interests have control over our economic life, our political life, and our media.

This movement toward oligarchy is not just an American issue. It is an international issue. Globally, the top 1 percent now owns more wealth than the bottom 99% of the world’s population.

In other words, while the very, very rich become much richer, thousands of children die every week in poor countries around the world from easily prevented diseases, and hundreds of millions live in incredible squalor.

Cretinous stupidity, this system, whatever its faults, has just delivered the largest reduction in absolute poverty in human history.


Idiot, idiot, damn stupidity

Nestlé Makes Billions Bottling Water It Pays Nearly Nothing For

Yep, the water’s pretty much free, just bubbles up out of the ground.

It’s the bottling plants and the transport which add the value. The bottling plants and the transport being done by Nestle. Why shouldn’t the people adding the value get the value?

So, let’s consider that other essential for life, oxygen. Say you’re in hospital, and need an extra supply. The people who stuck that compressed oxygen into that bottle and transported it to where you need it not to die. They got it for free! Just sucked it out of the common atmosphere they did!

So, should the people who did the work to get it to where you need and want it gain the added value? The profit? Or should it be just, y’know, a free resource which your failing lungs can try to suck out of the atmosphere?

Actually, it would be fun to try starting an NGO which campaigned on this and see if anyone’s idiot enough to contribute. My bet is that there are some who really are that stupid.

Well done to Bryce Covert here

In at least 40 other countries — including Belgium, France, Germany, Italy and Spain — credit reporting can be done by a public credit registry. It is usually operated by a central bank that already oversees the financial institutions that feed information into the reports. These reports tend to be more accurate because the operators have a legal right to demand data from banks as well as a mandate to ensure it’s correct and that errors are fixed.

The United States government is, of course, not impervious to data breaches, nor does it have a perfect track record of fending them off. In 2015, it announced that hackers had stolen “sensitive information” on 21.5 million people. But the government is at least accountable to public pressure. Equifax never will be, even under the tightest regulation. Credit bureaus have proved to be complete failures at safeguarding the public. Let’s demand we get our data back.

She’s saying nationalise Equifax and the other two. And, from her own reference source about those public registries:

With regard to public credit registries, it is clear that they are not a substitute for private
sector registries, but rather, a complement.

Ho hum. Don’t these people ever even read their own sources?

We’ve clearly and obviously solved all the real problems then

Footage has emerged of United fans singing the song about Lukaku, who signed from Everton in a £90 million deal in July, during the club’s 3-0 win at home to Basle in the Champions League last week. It is understood that United fans repeated the chant on Sunday at Old Trafford when their team beat Everton 4-0 in the Premier League.

The song, to the tune of the Stone Roses’ Made of Stone, makes reference to the size of the striker’s penis. Kick It Out said that the song should be banned because it reinforced the stereotype that black men are better endowed than others.

Within the lifetime of near every reader here black football players in the UK used to be greeted with chimp noises and the throwing of bananas. Today they’re singing a – congratulatory I assume – song about how one of them has a big dick. This might not be quite how the bien pensants think it should be but I find it very difficult indeed to think that this isn’t an advance to a point where the problem is solved.

Gotta love Salon, eh?

The water is disappearing in San Felipe Ecatepec, an Indigenous town three miles outside of San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, in southern Mexico.

“In the past four years, our wells have started drying up,” says Juan Urbano, who just finished a three-year term this February as the president of the Communal Territory of San Felipe Ecatepec. “People sometimes walk two hours a day to get water. Others have to buy their water.”

Where is all the water going?

In between San Felipe and San Cristobal lies a Coca-Cola bottling plant, operated by the Mexican company FEMSA. The plant consumed over 1.08 million liters of water per day in 2016.

San Cristobal alone is some 200,000 people. Average usage of water in Mexico is 35 gallons a day, call that 100 litres among friends.

San Cristobal uses 7.3 billion litres a year, the Coke plant 370 million or summat, or 5%.

Sure, the Coke plant will ave an influence at the margin bu it’s not the problem, is it?

The result of a post-graduate course in something or other no doubt

The mythic maximalism of Darren Aronofsky’s “Mother!”
There is a noble (possibly divine), if baroque, purpose behind the kinesthetic density of Araonfsky’s lofty work


This is the credo of the artistic maximalist: more is more. And if there’s one American filmmaker whose talents reveal themselves when stretched out to such spectacles of scaled-up bigness, it’s Darren Aronofsky, whose new film, “Mother!” (stylized “mother!”), might be the most daring, intoxicating, head-shakingly unbelievable, utterly, unashamedly maximalist American motion picture released by a major studio since Terrence Malick’s “Tree of Life” in 2011, or even Richard Kelly’s “Southland Tales” more than a decade ago. It is a film of mythic proportion that valiantly strives to do, well, pretty much everything.

Er,, yes….

Aronofsky is not the artist-as-God but the filmmaker-as-Frasier-Crane, frantically conducting his overblown orchestra of violence, sex, cannibalism and swollen biblical metaphor, energized by a deeply felt belief that, sometimes, more is more.

This is either the result of a post-graduate course in critical something or other or a spoof and a damn good one at that. I’m going with the Sokal solution, that use of Frasier is the give away.

Gosh, this is amazing

Banning size zero models is small fry. What fashion needs is diversity
Bethany Rutter
Catwalk shows will be almost identical despite the pledge of France’s top fashion houses. If you’re a size 20 like me, high-end brands still won’t be interested

What, they don’t use size 20 models? You sure?

Can anyone spot the flaw with this argument?


Capitalism is completely ill equipped to provide for the basic needs of society in ordinary times, never mind when dealing with a disaster.

At the same time as Hurricane Harvey was wreaking havoc on Texas, and Irma was laying its trail of destruction through the Caribbean, another crisis was unfolding across South Asia. The region has been hit with one of the most severe monsoon seasons in the past 30 years. 1,400 have been killed in the floods; millions of livelihoods are threatened.

Extreme weather events like these are occurring at six times the rate they were in 1980, according to an analysis by insurer Munich Re. If the current warming trend continues, we can expect this to increase even further in the years and decades ahead.

The danger posed by this situation doesn’t lie just in the direct impact of the events themselves, but in the way they are used by those in power to further their extreme economic agenda at the cost of workers and the poor. As Naomi Klein put it in an article for the Intercept:

“The right will waste no time exploiting Harvey … to peddle ruinous false solutions, such as militarised police, more oil and gas infrastructure, and privatised services. Which means there is a moral imperative for informed, caring people to name the real root cause behind this crisis – connecting the dots between climate pollution, systemic racism, underfunding of social services, and overfunding of police.”

In addition to connecting the dots, we need to offer an alternative. The alternative is socialism – a system built on human need, not private profit, in which our collective resources could be fully mobilised not only to respond to disasters like this, but to build a society on the basis of genuine democracy, equality and sustainability.

It’s amazing what gets published these days

Donald Trump is not an outlier. He is part of a long tradition of racial fascists, a tradition which includes the genocidal infamy of Adolf Hitler and the Nazi regime.

And this is just fabulous, glorious:

In an effort to understand how Donald Trump’s fascist movement is part of a much larger (and older) global racial project, I recently spoke with James Q. Whitman. He is the Ford Foundation Professor of Comparative and Foreign Law at Yale Law School and author of the new book “Hitler’s American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law.”

In our conversation, Whitman explains the troubling connections between the recent events in Charlottesville and resurgent Nazism, what the Nazis and Adolf Hitler learned from American racism, and how the United States’ legal traditions could actually help racial fascism take hold.

Just glorious.

So, it’s bad, right, don’t sweat the details

The research, which went viral this week, used a sample of online dating photos, limited only to white users, to demonstrate that an algorithm could correctly distinguish between gay and straight men 81% of the time and 74% for women, suggesting machines can potentially have much better “gaydar” than humans.

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Glaad, two of the most prominent LGBTQ organizations in the US, slammed the study on Friday as “dangerous and flawed … junk science” that could be used to out gay people across the globe and put them at risk. The advocates also criticized the study for excluding people of color and bisexual and transgender people and claimed the research made overly broad and inaccurate assumptions about gender and sexuality.

Note there’s no actual comment about whether it works or not.