Complaint from a reader

Here is your message from anonymous:

Maybe you don’t care, but you use a lot of comma splices in your articles. I even saw one in a title (“It’s Not Greece The Eurozone Needs To Worry About, It’s Italy Defaulting That Would Be a Problem”). I enjoy reading your work, but this bugs the hell out of me. Please think before you comma.

You can respond the reader directly using the email address below (if available).

Name (optional): anonymous

Email (optional): fake@fake.notreal

Err, what in buggery is a comma splice?

Update, thanks to those who pointed to Wikipedia. So, it violates White and Strunk does it? Good, must do it some more. If I understood what it was of course. My command of grammar isa too slight to understand the explanation.

Today’s offer that can be refused

Asked to go off to deepest Asia to give a rousing speech on the value of sweatshops in economic development. Crib some from Krugman, bit more from Hans Roslin and Max Roser, add some Timmy-type rhetoric and we’re done.

So, why not?

Ah, yes, 35 hours odd flying time and to be done on my own dime. Ah…..

Update—-so, we’re up to economy class ticket plus hotel room now.

Still no.

Hmmm

A long-quiet yet huge supervolcano that lies under 500,000 people in Italy may be waking up and approaching a “critical state,” scientists report this week in the journal Nature Communications.

Based on physical measurements and computer modeling, “we propose that magma could be approaching the CDP [critical degassing pressure] at Campi Flegrei, a volcano in the metropolitan area of Naples, one of the most densely inhabited areas in the world, and where accelerating deformation and heating are currently being observed,” wrote the scientists—who are led by Giovanni Chiodini of the Italian National Institute of Geophysics in Rome.

All long known about of course. Just one thing:

A smaller but still sizable eruption was observed at the supervolcano in 1538. That event lasted eight days and created the mountain Monte Nuovo. But since then, the volcano has been quiet, slumbering for more than 500 years.

I spent a couple of years of my childhood living on Monte Nuovo.

This is amusing

It might be one of Germany’s biggest businesses – but Volkswagen clearly believes British is best.
The car giant, which includes Audi, has announced it is switching its official language to English in a bid to be more welcoming.
Bosses say the move is designed to improve recruitment as some prospective employees are put off by the need to understand their home nation’s language.

Mate of mine here does management training for Skoda, owned of course by VW. And he’s been pitching the idea of me doing a few day’s training, obviously in English, not Czech. We actually did a day for a supplier a few months back and they really liked it (my idea was stolen from Corrigan – WWI military, Germans had trained troops, complex tactics, lots of delegation, Russians idiot conscripts and no delegation at all, entirely centralised orders. British in 1916 simple troops, simple tactics, by 1918, trained troops, complex tactics – how you manage your workforce, what you delegate or don’t, is going to depend on how well they’re trained. Plus mixing in Coase on the Theory of the Firm to talk about interfaces, when to delegate, when not to etc.).

So, if VW goes entirely English, will Skoda follow and will we then get the work?

Travelling Timmy

That I’ve not shot my mouth about some idiocy so far today worries some. This post being brought to you by the hotspot at Munich airport.

About which. There used to be free coffee machines courtesy of Lufthansa in this terminal. They’ve been replaced by paying ones. Fair enough, all airlines have it tough these days.

They put in the same number of paid machines as there used to be free…..not quite as economic as one might think.

And what worries me is my reaction. Not, bugger, no free hot chocolate. But, bugger, didn’t they think of that?

Is it possible that I am becoming (or have become) a monomaniac?

The life of a freelance

A small insight into how this works. So, read the papers, see if there’s anything being talked about over which one can be a contrarian and thus offer a piece to this or that publisher. Something that, given that it’s me we’re talking about, can be turned into a few hundred words of sneer and bile that someone will pay me for.

Excellent, it’s 08.30 am, three ideas fired off to a publisher. Who says, well, like that idea, yes, that one, but can we confirm at 10.00 am?

Publishers, you see, having been to many a drinks party. You do not pursue, exclusively, the first fit looking bod you see and chat to. Try to place a marker upon, sure, maintain in a holding pattern, but always keeping an eye open for whatever better might turn up. So it is with freelance pieces – who knows who might offer something gorgeous in the next 90 minutes?

This is the way the newspapers work generally on their comment pages. Pitch by 10.30, they have their editorial meeting, come back by 12 or so (before that long lunch with booze that doesn’t really happen any more) to say yes (if it’s no you never hear back) and then please file by 3 or 4.

Which is why I do so little newspaper work. There’s a vast effort that goes into trying to make that pitch with a low expectation of being accepted. The actual return, if published, is good, several hundred quid, but the expected return is very much lower. Because the writing part, to be honest, is easy, it’s getting accepted that’s the tough part.

Yes, I knew you’d be fascinated. And it’s also why I display such bile to those who complain about the gig economy. Or that bint who works freelance and keeps moaning about zero hours contracts. What the fuck it it you’re working to as a contract, honey?

Linked in and their algos

You made the news!

So says the missive. Great! Where?

And now, in the Straits Times
As Mr Tim Worstall, a fellow at the Adam Smith Institute in London

Err, yes, where did this appear?

You appeared in timworstall.com

Blimey, that’s a service and a half, isn’t it?

Tim Worstall appeared in timworstall.com?

What I’m wondering now is whether this will be reported to me tomorrow and if it is then how long can I keep this ‘bot iterating?

And now, in the Straits Times

As Mr Tim Worstall, a fellow at the Adam Smith Institute in London, argued this week, the relationship between what the royal family ostensibly owns and how the income from those holdings is distributed and taxed is fiendishly complicated. But the narrow truth is that the Crown Estate, which belongs to the monarch, pays its profit to the Treasury. In the most recent accounts, that was worth more than £304 million; in the past decade, the estate has handed over £2.4 billion. As Mr Worstall says: The important point to grasp is that Buckingham Palace does not belong to Mrs E. Windsor, it belongs to the monarch. The Crown Estate does not belong to Mrs E. Windsor, it belongs to the monarch. And the profits on one part of the monarch’s estate are being used to pay for the upkeep of another part of the monarch’s estate. That is, the Crown is already paying for these repairs to Buckingham Palace. Which is what makes demands that the Crown, or its estate, should pay for the repairs to Buckingham Palace so damn ignorant.

It’s actually a reprint of something from Bloomberg.

And I know this is trivial and so on, but I really do still get a kick out of this.

I know why I wrote that piece, it was just looking around for something to scribble to earn the 200 crisp ones that I’ll get paid for it. And now it turns up in the fish wrapper in Singapore. Yes, it’s trivial, there’s a childish glee to this. But that glee is there. I still find it difficult to really get my head around it all.

Oh, and one more point. So, some bloke in the Czech Republic scribbles something, up onto this telegraphic contrivance, and a day later there’re snippets and quotations being fed to millions around the world?

And we’re in a time of technological stagnation, are we?

Oooh, hmm

From Matt Ridley:

After all, the purpose of all work is consumption, as Adam Smith nearly said. The economist Tim Worstall puts it this way: “There will continue to be jobs for humans as long as there are unsatisfied human wants and desires. Once all of those are satisfied then jobs don’t matter, do they?”

Will have to tell him that I’m not an economist……

Dentistry in foreign

So, a tooth came out, it’s at the front, something must be done. Standard Czech procedure is to craft a fake one and stick it to the ones around.

Called a “bridge” here. OK.

No insurance, not trying it on the State or anything. Total cost 700 korunna and change. Call it £20 plus a half pint or so.

This is for two visits, the taking of the cast, creation of the fake and the fitting. Most reasonable I thought. And certainly less than I think the NHS would try to charge me, if the NHS would even take me.

Hmm, perhaps we should be setting up something to make stag weekends actually stag 5 days? They get to get drunk and exercise the ferret etc and they also get their teeth done at the same time?

Another Downside production then

I have seen Jared Harris terrible. In a dire theatre production ten years ago of Les Liaisons Dangereuses — where, as it happens, he met his second wife, Emilia Fox — the actor not only rendered the seducer Valmont sexless, but rendered him thus in the voice of John Mortimer. I have also seen him acting well. His Lane Pryce, the English advertising executive hoping to make it among the Mad Men of Madison Avenue, may have talked in a strangely unconvincing accent, but who was not shocked, and moved, when he hanged himself?

Now, however, I have seen Harris being utterly magnificent. He plays George VI in Netflix’s extraordinary forthcoming serial, The Crown, a £100 million dramatisation of the Queen’s reign, written by The Audience’s Peter Morgan and starring Claire Foy as Elizabeth II.

I wonder where Jamie Harris is in all of this. Morgan and Jamie were in my year at Downside, Jared the year (?) above.

Perhaps that thing about social groupings formed at exclusive schools has something to it? Although we’ve still got to explain my absence from any such of course (the explanation being that there was a decent amount of mutual hatred going on there).