Oh dear

Usually huge droves of spectators cramming onto street corners signifies the visit of a high-profile celebrity or member of the Royal family.

But hundreds of people lined the streets of Somerset to watch youngsters ride Vespas, vintage cars and Hummers to a school prom that accepts thousands of guests each year.

What is usually a proud day for parents turned into an event of huge proportions in Midsomer Norton, Avon,

Well, which, Somerset or Avon?

Running from memory M Norton never was in Avon although it might still have a BAx post code. And Avon doesn’t really exist any more anyway.

Sunday lunch

Nowt grand, but a nice bit of lamb. The dog got the bone, obviously. I then excavated the teeth of the little bits of meat let over. To find the dog whining at me as she thought I must be eating something – the toothpicky thing – that was much nicer than her bone.

She’s a very sweet dog but….

The costs of modern living

It’s true that I live in rural Portugal. I’m not exactly starring at regular red carpet events, my clothing budget doesn’t have to carry that sort of strain.

And yet, modern life has become rather cheap, no?

And yes, there was significant use of the discount rails of older stock. But, yesterday’s insistence by the other half that a clothing upgrade was necessary led to two pairs of trousers, a hoodie, five t-shirts, two pairs of shorts, some cotton not espadrilles but of that sort of thing and a set of jammies. For a fraction under €60.

Thank the Lord for those sweatshops in Bangladesh, eh – where, yes, most of this was made. Those same sweatshops which provide 80% of export revenue, pay triple the national minimum wage, employ 4 million people and are the major cause of the country’s 6 to 8% annual GDP growth for the past two decades.

Bangladesh has made remarkable progress in reducing poverty, supported by sustained economic growth. Based on the international poverty line of $1.90 per person per day, it reduced poverty from 44.2 percent in 1991 to 13.8 percent in 2016/17. In parallel, life expectancy, literacy rates and per capita food production have increased significantly. Progress was underpinned by 6 percent plus growth over the decade and reaching to 7.3 percent in 2016/2017, according to official estimates. Rapid growth enabled Bangladesh to reach the lower middle-income country status in 2015. In 2018, Bangladesh fulfilled all three eligibility criteria for graduation from the UN’s Least Developed Countries (LDC) list for the first time and is on track for graduation in 2024.

Sounds like a bargain to me and the joy is that it actually works.

Yet still there are those against this. Difficult to understand, isn’t it?

I object to this

We can agree that heavy-handed price controls are poor economic policy, but even free market commentator Tim Worstall of Forbes conceded that this only indicts non-market forms of socialism, since we can “conceive of a socialist economy that does work, it just needs to be a market and prices based economy among socialist organisations like cooperatives.”

How is a free market commentator conceding anything when he insists that markets work, non-markets don’t?

What the heck is salmonetta?

Our local little prix fixe restaurant is a bit of a bargain. 19 euros for lunch for two – in total that is. Olives, cenoura salad, mixed such, bread, bottle of wine (vino plonko obviously, but entirely fine) water, amuse guele for dessert, coffee, plate of grilled fish, plate of the best chicken piri piri for 50 km, chips – the last being made from real potatoes, our shorthand for somewhere doing something right. Portion size on the chicken is half a bantam, the Portuguese still eat properly.

And chicken piri piri comes from these parts. It’s “estilio da Guia” more formally, Guia being a village just outside Albufeira. That Nandos is exactly that filtered through colonial Mozambique then South Africa.

There is always the chicken and then whatever fish seems decent that day. Sea Bass, Sea Bream, Golden Bream, sardines, mackerel, horse mackerel, all have been on offer – but usually only one on any particular day.

Saturday there was “salmonetta” and I am struggling to find out what it is. Google gives me a couple of pictures of it from Spain but nothing else. No English name for it. It might be small red mullet – it’s got the pinkish tinge to the skin.

Anyone actually know? That it’s most yummy might not aid all that much in identification….

So why are there warning balls on electric power lines?

Driving around here in Sunny Portugal we’ve become a little puzzled.

So, high energy – voltage? – power lines have little balls on them. Different colours, red and white perhaps. OK, that’s fine, it’s obviously a warning. “Here be high voltage power lines.”

And it’s on the top strand of the set going from pylon to pylon. That’s fine.

Could be for birds I guess, something that scares them. Maybe planes? Dunno, but that’s not the question.

Observation (two incidences, you can tell we’re doing science here) says that these balls are only on that line when the lines cross a road. But they’re far too high up to have anything to do with the road. The spans away from the road don’t have the reflectors/birdscarers/whatever on.

So, err, why?

That’s my job at Islington Technical College screwed then

So, there’s a letter from 1,100 economist floating around. Insisting that trade agreements have made the world much richer blah, blah, blah. So, I was going to write a typically Worstallian piece. Nah, it’s not trade agreements, it’s lower transport costs. Agreements are nice, useful, make us richer etc, but transport hugely outweighs tariffs etc.

And, you know, all economists would agree when this is pointed out, it’s just we don’t normally bother to do so.

Just before I charge off thought I’d just check the drop in transport costs. I know absolutely it’s true for late 19th century, let’s just check it is for post-war 20th.

It ain’t. Ad valorem shipping rates have been pretty constant actually. Complicated stuff – what gets shipped has changed etc, times are much shorter, smaller load can be shipped, less theft – but my thesis isn’t, really, very true at all.

So, not writing a piece on that claim then.

But that is my application to teach at Islington Technical College screwed then isn’t it? Altering stuff on the basis of facts?

Just to make it worse, then looked up a bit of trade theory to see why I disagreed with it. Turns out I misunderstood it. Ho hum….

So, who’s got good Google Fu?

Just back from the ancestral acres in Ireland. And one of the stories we heard was that Patrick Kielty, from the same village (Dundrum in Co. Down) did a show on an abandoned house/shop in the village.

Apparently this is on YouTube. I can’t find it – can anyone else?

The interest being that the place was, in its time, the shop of great grandfather in Dundrum. The show and abandonment are long after his time, but would be interesting to see the piece if anyone can find it.

Just as an aside would point out that Journalistic Investigation Method No. 1 still works. Wait until starting one’s second pint then ask the barman. Lo! Within 10 minutes we had the location of the g-gfather’s shop and garage down pat, along with a quick guided walk up and down the street.

It did help that the pub, the Dundrum Inn, was a whole 20 yards from either and both.

Tech help

Printers, printers.

OK, so, in the print queue on one machine I’ve a document it says is “deleting”. I cannot get it to print anything else while that is going on. But it’s bneen going on for days now, that deleting.

Know it’s not the printer, have hooked another machine up to it and printed something.

So, how do I get shot of that thing clogging up the print queue? Have highlighted and deleted. Have “cancel all print jobs”, all the obvious things that the system allows.

But that damn file is still there, blocking the queue.

Any ideas?

We’re looking for writers

Over at Continental Telegraph.

No, don’t get excited, it’s definitely unpaid.

But we would be interested in more people joining the roster. There is no commitment to regularity, you don’t need to sign up to do a regular column or anything.

Pieces should be unique tho’. We’re not going to become simply a place to reprint blog posts.

If you’ve an expertise, or a point of view, we’re interested. If you’ve specific books, records, video games you’d like to review and tell us all about that’s fine too. That second might well suit those who review stuff at Amazon for example.

Drop me a line at “timworstallATgmail.com” and we’ll get things moving.

Elsewhere

Much brain power is being overused in attempting to make the US tech giants contribute more to Her Majesty’s Revenue. The initial complaint, that the current international business taxation system doesn’t deal well with digital, is entirely correct – it doesn’t.

The problem is that almost all of the suggested solutions to this inconvenience run up against two rather harsh economic facts. One is that businesses never really pay any tax at all, and the other is that the problem of not paying any taxes at all is already largely solved.

If only Ritchie could grasp both points, eh?

In other news, am doing a piece for the Independent, writing my little fingers off at Continental Telegraph and how are you all?

Yes, things will happen here once we’ve got that running……

Road Trip!

Fear not for blogging and its frequency. Short road trip to Porto going on.

So far complete and abject failure at tracking down the bloke I was at school with who owns one of the port trading houses.

The only time I’ve ever tried to use that old buy network and it’s not working. How is it that it’s such a powerful force in British life then?