Sigh

Referring to here.

And he doubles down:

And more:

Someone’s really going to have to tell him at some point, aren’t they?

How lovely to see that my piece is now an official report

Jeremy Corbyn’s claim that many people want to pay “more tax” to clear the national debt or fund public services has been undermined by official figures.

Figures disclosed by the Government show that just 15 taxpayers made financial gifts worth less than £200,000 to the Government over the past two years.

The Labour leader said in 2015 that “many well-off people I speak to, in Islington and around the country, would be quite happy to pay more tax to fund better public services or to pay down our debts”.

He added that “opinion polls bear this out – better off people are no less likely to support higher taxes”.

Typically cash which is gifted or bequeathed to the Government is channelled through the Government’s Debt Management Office.

The Debt Management Office said that £180,393 in 2016/17 and £14,558 in 2015/16 was made in these voluntary payments.

Most of this came from a single bequest of £177,700 in the last financial year. The other donated or bequeathed by the other 14 people were for relatively trivial sums. Someone gave 1p, another gave 3p and a third person handed over £1.84 to the Government.

11 years back I did a piece for The Times which pointed out that only 5 people had in fact volunteered to pay more tax. Thus, given what people do rather than what they say, there was only a marginal movement for more tax to be paid.

This was, I am really pretty sure, the first mention of this point.

LAST YEAR there were five people in Britain who thought that their taxes were too low. No, this isn’t the number of people who have called for higher taxes. Rather, it is those who were so convinced of the righteousness of state spending that they voluntarily sent extra money to the Treasury.

When I wrote that there were no official figures. Took the Treasury a month or so to round up the numbers, they just weren’t collated as a matter of course. What fun that they do now both collate and release them?

A long way from us – but we’re getting the smoke

Forest fires have cut off a town of 2,000 people in Portugal, as firefighters struggle to control two large blazes in the centre of the country.

“It’s impossible to leave or to enter Mação because of the flames and the smoke,” Vasco Estrela, mayor of Mação, told Lusa news agency.

The blaze erupted on Tuesday evening, and by Thursday morning it had surrounded the town. “It is continuing unabated,” he said.

This is all a couple of hundred miles north of here. But we’re getting he smoke. The whole area from Albufeira to Faro was covered in smoke yesterday. The winds are just blowing it all down here.

We do get our own fires down here, obviously, but we tend not to have the forests, so we get scrub fires.

It’s also worth pointing out something else. This isn’t so much a product of the current heat. It’s, as summer fires usually are, a product of a wet winter. The land around here always dries out in the summer. We usually don’t see rain for 7 or 8 months, not in any quantity at least. So, all the vegetation does dry out, every year. A wet winter means more winter growth, thus more vegetation to dry out when the summer comes.

The same is true in California, climactically very similar. It’s a wet winter with lots of growth that is the warning sign for a bad summer fire season.

The return to the car boot sale!

Somehow, even at a Czech car boot sale, I don’t think they’re selling even broken (genuine) Rolex watches at $25. So I didn’t buy those three.

But, I think I’ve worked out what happened about those solver coins. A collector had as his method anything that was about the size and colour of a silver dollar. Hey, why not, it worked for him. So, 1 Bolivar coins from Bolivia in the 1960s, a couple of clearly fake coins (even the Ugandan mint wasn’t going to issue a Chuck and Di Crown with the date as 1086), what might well be a magician’s coin (German on one side, Panama on the other) and some “silver trade coins” and other such bits and pieces. And a couple of Maria Theresa Thalers, some Swiss shooting competition medals and other things which are indeed silver. Various of the “professionals” at the boot sale had a couple of pages each of these coins from what was obviously an album.

All in all I reckon I spent about $100 to buy 50 ounces or so, maybe a little lower at 40 ounces, of silver. Pretty much nothing has any numismatic value although there’s a hint that one of them might be worth the purchase price alone.

Of course, I’m much more likely to just leave them on the shelf to be sold off at my own estate clearout than I am to start listing the damn things on e-Bay but still……

And one more thing, how do you check whether Rolex is real or not?

Anyone know of a good guide to old watches?

Years back in Moscow I nearly bought an Audemars gold half hunter. Been kicking myself ever since that I didn’t as a friend who knows about these things pointed out that it must have been old, from before the firm merged with Piguet.

Hmm.

So, not that I’m going to get into this full time or anything, just something to do while trawling the occasional car boot sale here, no more. Why not have a wander around in the summer sunshine with a donut or two, eh? But what to look for while wandering?

But, obviously, this requires a little boning up on things. Anyone know of a good guide to old watch brands therefore? As I have near zero actual knowledge, other than having seen the ads for today’s expensive brands just like everyone else? Online, book form, whatever people know about.

Any ideas?

Traveling Timmy

So I managed to go the right way out of the city, went toward Prague airport, not Dresden as I have been. And I found my booked parking space, remembered the rest of the way to the airport, found the supermarket, bought lunch, went through passport control and……Easyjet regrets that the flight to London is delayed because Xvvvvrb.

So, I know I’ve got to hang around just not quite why.

Hmm.

I do love the smell of a bargain in the morning

So, car boot sale type thing. Pottering around, much of it unmitigated tripe and tchotchke. A few bits and pieces which you’d have to know about to get it right. Some old watches for example. Know your brands and maybe you might get somewhere. Old cameras (but I’m pretty sure everyone knows a Leica is really valuable). An operational Remington Portable.

Just don’t know enough about these things.

Then some old coins. Girt big silvery ones. Size of the old Crown. One in fact was an old crown, from late enough that it’s Cu Ni. Hmm. But one of the others was a 1922 Liberty Dollar. That’s definitely silver.

300 Ks for the 8 coins. Call it £10 maybe.

Hmm, if the others (Peru, Ghana, Korea some Arab place I’ve no idea about) are Cu Ni then that’s a reasonable price for some souvenir type thing. If on the other hand the others are all also Ag then that’s a bargain price.

Paid up, got them home, looked them up. I’ve just bought 6 ounces of silver for £10.

Result!

The margin here is wondrous. The volume not so much.

No, not really

Should the Americanisation (or Americanization) of English worry us?

The use of the z there is archaic English which the Americans have preserved for example.

Me being me I’ve always been rather perverse about this of course. When at school I would deliberately use the z in order to annoy teachers, insist that it was just fine really. Which they would agree it was, if archaic. Now, writing largely for Americans, I insist upon using the s.

It’s the small things in life which produce the joy, no?

I make the dictionary

Hmmm.

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for July 15, 2017 is:

copacetic • \koh-puh-SET-ik\ • adjective

: very satisfactory

Examples:

“… if you’re going to be traveling with us it just wouldn’t look too copacetic for you to be carrying that ratty old bag.” — Christopher Paul Curtis, Bud, Not Buddy, 1999

“In terms of living standards we’re now back to where we started which while not making us entirely copacetic is at least better than not having recovered as yet.” — Tim Worstall, Forbes, 8 Aug. 2016

Amusing perhaps, using an Englishman – who also manages to get it slightly wrong – to define American. For I am using it to mean “very satisfied,” not the definitional “very satisfactory.”

Actually, it’s worse than that, as I thought it meant “overjoyed,” perhaps “massively excited.”

But, you know, fame and all that. They spelt the name right.

Science and journalism

Today in science:

Driverless cars will be given MORALS: Scientists develop an ethical formula which will enable them to make life or death decisions

Three years ago in journalism:

When Should Your Driverless Car From Google Be Allowed To Kill You?

It’s not and never has been about whether we can code an ethical formula, it’s what in buggery should that formula be?

Timmy’s recolonisation effort

As regulars around here will know I picked up a little column in a Bangladeshi newspaper while I was out there. The payment for which is at Bangladeshi rates and thus not significant. It’s also damn near impossible to get money out of the country anyway. Thus the fee, on that minimal but weekly basis, just gets passed on to the lad who was my minder when I was out there. You know the sort of thing that happens in a less than developed country, someone local to make sure you turn up on time, that the local police don’t shake the Westerner down, all that good stuff.

That lad then having spent the money upon:

And as you know this is the holy month for all the Muslim across the globe, as we fast throughout the month. Adding your contribution with ours we have organized a small lunch program for the underprivileged children, orphans and old people who was fasting and works hard on the road all day long.

Children and the elderly are not covered by the injunction to fast during Ramadan and the general injunction for the month is to be more charitable, as well as that obligation to fast for everyone else.

Looks like a damn good way to spend £80 a month to me. Although there is this ever so slightly disturbing worry that I might be feeding more poor children than the entirety of DfID.

Difficult to take this seriously really, isn’t it?

So, I said the economically obvious thing, India needs fewer people doing peasant agriculture and more doing manufacturing and services. That’s just how a country develops.

I am criticised with a concatenation of non sequiturs. Perhaps the best of which is this:

A cursory look at the global economic scenario will make it amply clear that Worstall’s advice is totally misguided. The world economy is stagnant or contracting. Real wages have been stagnant for decades. Consumption is at an all-time low.

Are these people even phoning this in from our own universe?

There’s the added joy that they seem to think I support EU and US farm subsidies. And they make that wondrous mistake about farm productivity. Which is to insist that low input farming is more productive per acre. Sure it is, or at least it can be. But it’s much less productive per hour of human labour, which is what determines the living standards of the farmers.

Sheesh, I mean really, sheesh.

Grr

So, was off on a 6 am flight. Up at 2.30 am to make it. Check email.

Cancellation. Now flying at 2 pm. Grr.

Grr.

Am up, no point in going back to beddy byes. Grr.

Apparently lots of flights cancelled out of Munich yesterday over weather, meaning no plane here to do the first morning trip. Sigh.

Still, will give the Krauts something for efficiency. While I was on the phone talking to them about rebooking their computer sent me an email with the automatic rebooking that it had done. Not perfect, of course, but pretty good all the same.

Grr.

What? No, don’t bother scrubbing her, leave my tent unsullied

When Eleanor Tomlinson made her first red carpet appearance at the Deauville Film Festival in 2006, she was 14 years old and looked every inch the gawky schoolgirl, with her hair its natural dirty blonde and her teeth in traintrack braces.
A decade on, at this weekend’s Baftas, she’s been transformed into a veritable goddess. Her hair is now flaming red — dyed for her role as Demelza in the BBC’s Poldark — while her striking red-carpet look is the work of stylist Nisha Grewal.

Whatever the perkiness of those norks not a natural redhead kills the deal I’m afraid. She’ll have to go find some other sugar daddy.

I didn’t have to give evidence in this trial after all

Four precious metals investment scammers have been jailed for a total of 29 years after duping hundreds of customers out of £7.75million in savings and pensions in exchange for ‘worthless barrels of junk’.
Using a misleading website and inaccurate glossy brochure they either cold-called victims with scripted patter or placed adverts offering the opportunity to purchase supposedly lucrative metals vital to 80 per cent of the world’s industry.
Ringleaders Christopher Sabin, 44, of Sevenoaks, Kent, and Tobias Ridpath, 52, from Hastings, East Sussex, were both jailed for nine years.

Prolific salesman Nicholas Start, 35, of Tadley, Hampshire, who pocketed at least £132,000 in commission over a few months, was handed a seven-year sentence.
William Berkeley, 52, of Horsham, West Sussex, joined the scam near its conclusion and was sent to prison for four years.
The group were convicted by a jury at Blackfriars Crown Court of conspiring to defraud investors by making false representations. A Proceeds of Crime Act hearing will follow to confiscate their profits.

Prosecutor David Durose told jurors Denver Trading – started by Sabin and Ridpath – was run from a short-term £860 per month office in the City.
The court was told Start headed a ‘prolific’ brokerage – London Commodity Markets – and Berkeley took over the Swiss branch of the business after the original director quit, claiming the business ‘stank horribly.’
One typical investor, Cecil McMurray, invested £243,000 and ‘lost a vast amount of money’.
Another client bought 100 kilos of rare metals in September 2012 for £39,000. Two-and-a-half years later that investment was worth £285.

I was booked to do so but then they decided I wasn’t needed. As to why I was booked to give evidence:

Investors were wooed with promises of returns on investments in Rare Earth Metals and Rare Earth Elements, which were vital in engineering and manufacturing.
The court heard father-of-three Sabin and father-of-two Ridpath founded the company in the Seychelles on February 23, 2013 and quickly gave it the trappings of a successful business.

I think that’s slightly wrong, they started in 2012.

I called it almost immediately:

Investing in Rare Earth Metals: Don’t Do It!

As my written evidence pointed out:

He added: ‘There is no resale market for these metals. They were almost useless as an investment.’

Dib Dib Dib I guess.

On community and being local

A quick trip down to the throbbing metropolis of this part of rural Portugal reminded me of what it is to be local. The florist sports a remarkably dreadful strawberry blonde, mullet, toupee. No one has quite pointed out that he needs, after these passing years, to be dying the grey out of his sideburns and moustache to make it even slightly believable.

And yet if someone were to come up from the Big City, all 15,000 people of it and fully 20 km away, and make fun of the remarkably dreadful strawberry blonde, mullet, toupee all of us locals would be rather put out by that. Because it’s our remarkably dreadful, strawberry blonde, mullet, toupee.

I’m sure great philosophers have tried to delineate, define, quantify even, community and what it is to be local but I can’t help feeling that I’ve grasped the nub of it right there.