Poppy Noor and statistics

Well, yes, this is The Guardian but still. On wages:

This year, prices in the private rental market dropped for the first time in six years, with the UK average rent falling to £921 a month. ONS data puts the average UK wage at around £27,000. This figure is skewed upwards by the small number of people who earn disproportionately more than the average,

She links here to show us those wages:

In April 2015 median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees were £528,

Just in case any Guardian writers should stumble upon this the median is where 50% of the population (here, the population being defined as full time employees) get less and 50% more. This number is not subject to distortion by those who earn disproportionately more than the average. That form of average would be the mean, which can indeed suffer from such distortion.

Our Cambridge graduate in politics and sociology doesn’t understand this. To the point that when she tries to explain it she gets it the wrong way around. Note further that the Guardian’s subs and editors are equally clueless for allowing this to go to print.

but if even you are lucky enough to earn that, you’re still spending around 50% of your wages on rent every month.

That’s a slightly different little statistical trick. The average rent is, at least I think it is (altho it doesn’t in fact matter that much for this point, it still stands if it’s the median) the mean rent across the country. And it’s the mean rent for all types of households. Four bed houses in Chelsea, bedsits in Hull.

And how many one earner households (which are in a minority note) are occupying the average amount of dwelling space for the country?

I don’t actually know, this is a guess, but I would suspect that the average (mean or median) British dwelling is a 2 or even 3 bed house. We should be comparing the rent of that against a single wage earner why?

There’s also this:

I currently live in a three-bedroom house with four other people (luckily, I live with couples) in order to bring my rent down. Far from being fancy, it was one of the cheapest places I could get – on the top floor of a council estate. Even so, I need to work at four jobs in order to afford the rent and still eat each month.

Umm, yeah. Average rent in London is higher, yes, £1,200 perhaps. Note again that’s per dwelling, not person. That rent would be split 3 ways perhaps, normal enough to split by bedroom not number of people, so £400 a month? Hell, let’s call it £600 a month for Poppy alone.

Four jobs? Umm:

Currently a Policy Officer in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Soon to be a Frontline Social Worker (July 2015 Cohort). Previously managed the QA Review for Challenge Partners. Co-founder of the Letsspeakclearly blog. Contributions to The Guardian Newspaper, Channel 4 News, The Evening Standard the ‘Yet We Still Rise’ UpRising Blog and the MyPersonality Wiki. Features in The Mirror and Varsity. London Board Member for UpRising. Pro-bono tutor for The Access Project, occassional runner for the GoodGym and an alumni of the Future First Network. Founding member and ex Vice-Captain of Trinity College Women’s Football Team and the Trinity College Politics Society. Ex-Access Officer for Trinity College.

OK, maybe she’s not updated Linked In.

Poppy Noor is a London-based freelance journalist. She writes about class, politics, inequality and education, and has provided social commentary for Channel 4 News and Newsnight.

Err, what’s her definition of a job? Freelance? Or is she counting doing a piece or two for The G as a job, doing bits for Newsnight as a job, Channel 4 another? She does get the concept of freelance, does she? By her seeming definition I’ve got 7 jobs as regular gigs……

We’re used to numeracy not being a requirement at The G but surely they still demand at least a tad of logic?


Little moments like that kept adding up, incrementally nudging me away from leftism but not yet to full conversion. In 1988, watching a John Pilger documentary with lefty friends, another such moment occurred.

Pilger, as usual, was complaining about colonialism and racism and Aboriginal injustice, so naturally we—uniformly white, urban and privileged—were lapping it up. The documentary then shifted to the former nuclear testing site at Maralinga in South Australia, where seven British bombs were detonated in the 1950s and 1960s. Pointing to a sign warning of radiation danger, Pilger observed mournfully that it was written in several languages—“but not in the Aboriginal language”.

Startled by this claim, I looked around the room. Everyone was silent, including a few who had studied Aboriginal history in considerable depth, and so must have known that Pilger’s line was completely wrong. So I just said it: “There is no single Aboriginal language. And no Aboriginal language has a written form.”

Not many people raging that day

Around 100 protesters gathered in Shepherd’s Bush from 11.30am before starting their march to Downing Street at shortly after 1.30pm – delayed by 30 minutes due to a low turn-out.

Within an hour, the protest swelled to around 200 people and began taking up three lanes of the road as it forced drivers to slow down. The group arrived in Westminster at around 3.45pm, with smoke and flares set off in the crowd on Whitehall.

It’s called acting love

However, it is not Bomer’s incontestable conventional attractiveness that is setting off alarm bells. It is his off-screen gender and the consistent issue of cis performers playing people of trans experience in film.

Recent years have seen both Jared Leto and Eddie Redmanye win Oscars for their respective trans-woman roles in “The Dallas Buyers Club” and “The Danish Girl”. Chloë Sevigny, Felicity Huffman, Elle Fanning and other notable cis-gender actors have taken on parts that show trans people either during or mid transition. Almost all of these actors have collected praise from the mainstream press for doing so.

Lauding cis actors for delving into trans experiences has long been a Hollywood tradition. The frequency of those plaudits has only more regular more and more films take up the trans narrative at different angles.

And yet, even as more trans stories surface across all media, actual trans actors are often shut out of telling stories that are — in many senses — theirs to tell. It’s a trend that’s been a regular source of criticism and genuine concern.


Someone really needs to get across the point that this is all just pretending in front of the cameras.

Lone nutter or a logical extention of Berniedom?

James “Tom” Hodgkinson, the gunman who shot congressman Steve Scalise during an attack on a Republican congressional baseball practice session on Wednesday, was a leftwing political activist with a record of domestic violence.
Hodgkinson also posted messages criticising the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, whom he described as “Republican Lite”. He showed strong support for Clinton’s rival in the Democratic primary, Bernie Sanders. “I want Bernie to win the White House,” Hodgkinson posted in August 2016.

Sanders said in a statement on Wednesday that he had been told Hodgkinson had “apparently volunteered” on his presidential campaign. Media reports suggested Hodgkinson volunteered in Iowa.

Nothing to do with Bernie of course.

Just as random nutters aren’t the responsibility of Trump, Breitbart and so on. Right?

Right? Bueller?

Robert Icke volunteers for a pay cut

Theatre will be dead within 50 years unless outrageous ticket prices are curbed, an award-winning director has said.

Robert Icke, who is currently directing Andrew Scott as Hamlet in the play’s transfer to the Harold Pinter Theatre, said younger audiences simply could not afford the amount now charged for seats.

Scott, who agreed to Hamlet’s West End transfer only on the condition that it would offer cheap seats for the under 30s, called modern price schemes “disgusting”.

If there’s less money coming in from the punters then someone, somewhere, on the producer side has to be getting less. We can and should assume that Mr. Icke is volunteering, yes?

You may well believe it

Farmers have hit out at a ruling by the advertising watchdog that organic dairy farming is not “good for the land”.

The Advertising Standards Authority banned an Arla advert for organic milk, saying it was “misleading”.

The watchdog upheld a reader’s complaint that the ad, which also claimed the milk was “helping support a more sustainable future”, was misleading on the grounds that dairy farming was not good for the land.

But Michael Oakes, NFU Dairy Board chairman, said the ruling was “disappointing”.

“It’s been a long-held belief that that organic farming does hold benefits,” he said.

But the ASA demands to know whether it’s true or not, not whether you believe it.

The ASA said: “We acknowledged that Arla had provided evidence regarding the organic farming methods used and that they believed this was more sustainable than non-organic farming.

“However, we did not consider they had substantiated that organic milk production had an overall positive impact on the environment, taking into account its full life cycle.

“We therefore concluded that the claim was misleading.”

So, no then.

This is an assertion, not a fact

The book is about the conversations people have, but also the silences…
Absolutely. There’s an assumption that we all enter the conversation about race and racism in Britain as equals; but the point is that racism is structural and its purpose is to consolidate power. There’s a power balance at the heart of every conversation, particularly when people find themselves the only one of their race in a room full of white people. Sometimes it’s safer to stay quiet if you have a social position to protect.

And the interesting part of the conversation to have is whether the assertion is true or not.

And as far as a white bread middle aged man can give an answer. Having lived in a number of societies around the world England (I have very little direct experience of the wider Britain) is perhaps the least racist place I have experienced. And that goes double for London. That people employ, are employed by, shag, date, marry, have children with, people of other racial backgrounds is simply not something that makes any damn difference to anyone these days. Anyone here being the general run of the mill, there are always loonies in any society.

The three other societies I have direct personal experience of, the US (on both coasts), Russia and the Czech Rep (the average attitude towards Gypsies is, by UK standards, unbelievable) are vastly more racist than England. Which isn’t, I’m willing to agree, perfect, but it is better than anywhere else I’ve been.

And in the longer term the “problem” is being solved the way these islands have always solved this particular problem, from the Celts onwards. Shag until there is no meaningful difference after the generations. There was, from memory, one lovely point made in I think The G. Woman talking about her and her friends nattering away about racism in London and all agreeing about how appalling it was. Until she pointed out that among the group she was the only one whose children were not mixed race.

The next but one Marquis of Bath will be quarter Nigerian – how much integration do we need before we agree that it’s happening?

It’s not because she’s black it’s because she’s incompetent

Mr Mason later tweeted: “You know what. It’s time somebody called out the dog whistle racism behind Tory insults to Diane Abbott and I just decided to do it.”
Interrupting, Mr Mason went on: “Why is everybody picking on Diane Abbott? What’s this racism about Diane Abbott?”

Mr Dale said: “She’s unfit to be Home Secretary,” before Mr Mason added: “Why do you hate a black Home Secretary?”

Not calling out Abbott as being unfit to be Home Sec because she is black would be racism. Just as would be saying she’s not fit because she’s black. For racism is to criticise or not, to claim fitness or not, because she is black or not. Non-racism is to insist that she’s an idiot, whatever the colour of her skin or racial background, and then critique or not, comment upon fitness or not.

Umm, what?

But in February 1966, a military coup backed by the CIA overthrew Nkrumah, and the country remained politically unstable until 1979, when another military coup brought the neoliberal Jerry Rawlings to power. With the help of international financial institutions, he made Ghana a model of African neoliberalism.

I think it might be true that Rawlings became neoliberal but he didn’t start out that way, did he?

It’s called freedom Baby

Meanwhile, if reports of the Kislyak meeting are accurate (the White House has not denied them), the fact is Mr. Kushner, while still a private citizen, met secretly with officials from a hostile power

Is the US at war with Russia? We talking treason or sedition here?

Umm, no, we’re not, are we?

And that little freedom thing does mean that private citizens are allowed to talk to whoever they damn want to. Yea, even without the permission of the New York Times editorial board.

It’s free speech Honey

You have the right to say anything you damn well want to. And also the right to take the consequences:

Kathy Griffin, the American comedian who sparked outrage by staging a photoshoot with Donald Trump’s severed head, has accused the president of trying to destroy her.

Griffin, 56, broke down in tears on Friday at a press conference called with womens’ rights lawyer Lisa Bloom.

“I don’t think I will have a career after this,” she said.

“I’m going to be honest. He broke me.”

But she then struck a defiant tone.

“If you don’t stand up, you get run over. “What’s happening to me has never happened in this great country. A sitting president of the US is personally trying to ruin my life forever.”

Ms Bloom said that her client had been “bullied” by the Trumps.

“As a result of the first family bullying her, she has been vilified, getting death threats, fired from multiple jobs and had multiple events cancelled,” she said.

Amazingly, the First Family just doesn’t have this sort of power:

The photos were published on Tuesday, and the outcry was immediate.

On Wednesday Griffin was fired from her role hosting CNN’s New Year’s Eve programme, which she had co-hosted alongside Anderson Cooper since 2007. Cooper had immediately condemned her actions, stating: “For the record, I am appalled by the photo shoot Kathy Griffin took part in. It is clearly disgusting and completely inappropriate.”

It was followed by the cancellation of an endorsement deal with Squatty Potty, a line of bathroom footstools, and at least five of her stand-up shows.

In fact, given the current crew in the White House no one believes they would be able to coordinate such even if they had the power to.

You said something outrageous and good for you. And now you’ve got to take the reaction to your having said something outrageous. That’s just how it works.

This is an interesting idea

A simple decade-long moratorium on private housebuilding would bankrupt housebuilders, scare off the capital, and collapse the price of land, allowing councils and social housing providers to purchase land and build homes that Londoners desperately need.
Michael Ball
Waterloo Community Development Group, London

Most, umm, interesting.

Amanduh tackles effective demand

And the result ain’t pretty:

If the goal is to help working people do better — as opposed to helping rich people buy diamond-encrusted water bowls for their dogs — then it’s critical to keep fully funding programs like Medicaid and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), better known as food stamps.

“When you give people money to spend on food or to go out to get health care, then that money is directly being spent on the economy,” explained Kate Bahn, an economist for the Center for American Progress, in a phone conversation.

Conservatives have long argued for “trickle-down” economics, saying that hefty tax cuts for the rich will lead to more investment and more jobs. Instead, it tends to lead to more conspicuous and gratuitous consumption.

But it’s still consumption, isn’t it honey? Which affects demand the same way…..

“In reality, economic growth in the United States since World War II has tended to be greater in times with relatively high top marginal income tax rates,” policy analysts Alexandra Thornton and Harry Stein wrote in a 2015 paper for the Center for American Progress, citing multiple studies analyzing the relationship between tax rates and economic growth.

Sigh. A result that relies upon the manner in which high post-WWII growth happened to coincide both with the rest of the world’s economy having been bombed flat and high tax rates to pay the debt from said war.

I agree, this is an outrage

As an example, Dr. Redman argued that a black woman with four children who goes to the gynecologist is more likely to get pushed into a long-acting form of contraception than a similarly situated white woman, who is more likely to have a chance to engage in dialogue with a doctor about whether or not she wants any more children.

That’s actually a real example being used to portray the inequalities inherent in the system.

OK, it’s Amanduh, it’s at Salon, but even so it’s really a pretty weak thing to be railing against, isn’t it?

Interesting that this is in The Guardian

Previous work with twins has shown that genes account for about half of the difference that is seen in IQ scores across the population, with the rest being shaped by factors such as conditions in the womb, nutrition, pollution and a person’s social environment. “Genes do not determine everything for intelligence,” said Posthuma. “There are so many other factors that affect how well someone does on an IQ test.”

Because if you published in the comment pages on the implications of this – that the tabula rasa argument is wrong, that not all can do everything – then you’d be howled down.


Chanel has been denounced on social media for appropriating Indigenous Australian culture by producing a $2,000 boomerang derided as the ultimate in useless status symbols.

Yep, Abos invented, so far as we know at least, the boomerang.

Slightly brownish people invented the concept of zero, rather pinkish ones the deep iron plough, possibly yellowish ones the stirrup and so on.

Ad where would we all be without such cultural appropriation?

Ideas in The Guardian

They ask some writers for what they’d really like to see political parties promising:

Think of the weightless laziness that envelops you when you realise it’s a bank holiday and you have nowhere you especially need to be. Now imagine that feeling of bliss repeated every working week. It could be reality if we all worked no more than 30 hours a week. And crucially that we did so without a detrimental impact on pay.

So, just to illustrate, let’s assume that we all work 40 hours a week now. We move to 30. OK.

Labour input drops by 25%. Great. But how do we all gain the same real incomes? Output has just dropped by 25% hasn’t it?

OK, marginal productivity declines as the work week lengthens, we know that. So, output only falls by 10%, or 15%. We are all, in aggregate, 10 to 15% poorer. How can we all be having the same incomes then?

George Monbiot asks for more cycling lanes which is at least achievable.

Prime World problems

For when First World problems isn’t enough:

One thing is clear: when we lose title sequences, we are losing something of artistic value. The title sequence has a unique and colorful path through history, and it deserves consideration as an art form itself.

Netflix now gives you the choice of skipping the opening credits of a film.

This is an outrage.

Why Netflix’s ‘skip intro’ feature is bad news for classic films
Noah Gittell
The ability to avoid watching the opening credits of certain titles is a sign that the company lacks reverence for cinema history

Jeebus people, it’s the viewers doing the skipping, not the company.