There\’s an Explanation for This

It is possible, I suppose, that even now I could outgrow these prejudices. In my early twenties for example, I finally discovered a love for salted anchovies. Until that point I had hated them. Now if I see the word anchovy on a menu I\’m likely to order the dish. I was actually in my early thirties when I finally discovered a taste for goat\’s cheese. Previously it had tasted too much for me of what the animal smells like. I think I just became a little earthier and decided I liked that smell.

It\’s because both your sense of taste and sense of smell decline as you age. Thus you do reach a point where what were previously extravagantly strong flavours become palatable. Nothing to do with becoming earthier, it\’s because you yourself are crumbling into the grave.

Happens To Me Too

I have accidentally reached that terrifying age at which I am conscious that familiar things are disappearing, facets of life that once seemed immutable. Sometimes they melt away in pairs, leaving behind only a trace of melancholy.

Honesty in public life, rationality in public policy, they seem to have melted away….

Cannabis Hysteria

Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity Sane, said: "While many people can smoke a joint with no long-term effects, for some young people regular use can double their risk of developing schizophrenia, in which a person may hear voices, and experience strange thoughts and paranoid delusions."

That\’s a blitheringly stupid statement, isn\’t it? "Some", "can double" ….there\’s no information there, is there? If we define our set for whom smoking dope is dangerous as those for whom smoking dope is dangerous…well, we\’ve not actually said anything, have we?

As we know from when this was raised previously, there are some (depending upon who you believe) 2 million to 8 million regular dope smokers in the country. The number said to present with psychiatric problems as a result has near doubled, from some 600 or so to 950 or so in a year. So our definition of "many" is in fact damn near "everyone" and out definition of "some" is damn near "none".

That\’s without even including the fact that we already know that incipient schizophrenics (not quite sure if that\’s the correct word, but those descending into the hell that is that disease) self-medicate heavily before it truly takes hold and is diagnosed. They might do it with tobacco, might do it with alcohol, might do it with whatever other drugs, legal, prescription or not, that come to hand. Given that the downgrading from Class B to Class C will have made dope more readily available (rather the point of doing so in fact) that those on that slope self-medicate with dope more often than they did so previously (sorry, to be accurate, those suffering now do so more than the previous cohort) is really not a surprise.

We\’ve go the classic confusion over causation here. We\’re not distinguishing between those who become psychotic as a result of smoking dope and those who are smoking dope because they\’re becoming psychotic.

And we\’ve got all these people using such glaringly, obviously, incomplete facts (to be generous) to decide upon public policy?


Changing the Licence Fee

The BBC is contemplating a radical revamp of the television licence fee to make it more acceptable to the public.

Corporation bosses and TV Licensing, the authority that collects the money for the BBC, believe the existing name and logo are old-fashioned and unattractive.

They aim to make the image more appealing and to reflect the fact that the BBC also provides radio and internet services, as well as television programmes online and on mobile phones.

There\’s more to it than just updating the image. They need to empahsise that internet and mobile phone part.

For, you do not need to own a television set in order to have to pay the TV licence fee. You need to own equipment capable of receiving TV programs in order to be liable for you to need a licence. And that includes broadband internet, that includes a mobile phone that is capable of an internet connection (which just about all new ones are). If a phone is capable of playing, say, an iPlayer (is that the name of it?) clip from the BBC\’s site (whether you do or not) then you need to have a licence. Yes, even if you\’re a tourist.

So this rebranding isn\’t just to update the image: it\’s to ensure that we all get the point. If you\’re connected to the net in this modern world then you have to cough up for the BBC.

Doesn\’t Look Good

Peter Hain employs his 80-year-old mother on a Commons salary of £5,400 a year, he has admitted.

The former cabinet minister, who recently resigned after donations to his Labour deputy leadership campaign were referred to the police, has employed Adelaine Hain as a part-time secretary for 16 years.

Then again, where else are you going to get someone literate for that sort of sum?

Owen Paterson, the shadow secretary of state for Northern Ireland whose wife Rose is paid almost £30,000 year to work for him, said: "If you can find me a Cambridge graduate who has an encyclopaedic knowledge of my constituency, who is willing to work long and anti-social hours at very short notice for that sort of salary then good luck. Until then, my wife is the best person for the job."


Those Tory Changes

Oh dear, still some educational work needed here I\’m afraid. Remedial educational work too:

Mr Osborne signals that, if elected, a Tory government would try to reverse the increase and adds: "I\’m a Conservative who believes in lower taxes. If I am chancellor I will approach each Budget seeing whether the country can afford lower taxes."

The country can always afford tax cuts. The question is whether the spending desires of the State can afford tax cuts. The country and the State are not in fact the same thing.

That the police should charge people lesser crimes rather than the CPS: isn\’t that a simple return to what we used to have? But this:

The party would also bring in "virtual courts" – linking custody suites at police stations and magistrates\’ courts by video – to allow some hearings to take place without offenders having to be brought to court.

That really depends. If it\’s a hearing about whether the trial should be on Tuesday or Thursday afternoon, why not? But if it\’s a hearing to charge someone, or to try someone, then it\’s a very large change in the basics of the law: that you be physically present when you\’re tried. It is, in fact, if it were to extend to say charging hearings, an abolition of habeus corpus. And I thiink we\’ve gone far enough down that path, of destroying basic freedoms and liberties in this country, don\’t you think?

Outrage! Outrage!

This will cause frothing at the mouth in certain quarters:

Husbands with multiple wives have been given the go-ahead to claim extra welfare benefits following a year-long Government review, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

The advancing dhimmitude of Europe no doubt. I can\’t actually manage to brace myself enough to see what Brussels Journal, Little Green Footballs and Our Mel have to say about it.

Just another one of these things that would be solved by having a citizens\’ basic income. As it would be paid regardless of marital status we simply wouldn\’t have to worry about such things, would we?

One question for anyone who actually understands Sharia law though. I\’ve got the impression (and it is only an impression, that\’s why I\’m wondering whether anyone actually knows) that while a man may indeed have multiple wives, he\’s only supposed to do so if he can actually afford to do so. So why would someone be claiming benfits?

Wikipedia Edits

My, I do seem to have pissed someone off:

Tim Worstall (b. 1963, Torquay) is a complete jackass English writer and blogger, who writes about a variety of topics, but particularly about economics. In his day job, he sucks himself and works as a consultant and dealer in scandium and other exotic metals.[1] He occasionally is a retard and humorously refers to himself in his blog and articles as a member of the "international scandium oligopoly."

Worstall has badly written a blog since April 2004.[2] The blog received approximately a dozen visits in the year to August 2006. It had a readership of one in that period, though most of the visits came from mental hospitals and Europe.[3]

Two of Worstall\’s articles about the 7 July 2005 London bombings have been archived by the UK Web Archiving Consortium.[4]

Worstall has written regularly for the online magazine "Retards, it takes one to know one" TCS Daily since May 2004.[5] In a 23 June 2005 article, he coined Worstall\’s Law of stupid: "All and any morons will in the end be judged by other morons, I Tim Worstall am a moron." [6]

In November 2005, Worstall butchered the book 2005 I\’m a Moron: Dispatches from the Retardosphere, an anthology of blogging.[7]

Since September 2006, Worstall has been an intern to The Philadelphia Inquirer\’s "Editorials & Commentary" page[8]

He lives in a hole in Portugal with his wife. Hopefully no where near Malaga.

Clearly not, Malaga is in Spain.


What\’s the Frenchie for " the law is an ass"?

PARIS — Société Générale says wayward trader Jérôme Kerviel lost the bank $7.2 billion. But that was last week. He\’s now on his way to cult celebrity — and he still hasn\’t lost his job.

Société Générale has stopped paying Mr. Kerviel and told him not to come to the office, but it hasn\’t managed to formally fire him. French law stipulates that to do that, the bank must first call him in for a sit-down meeting and explain its dissatisfaction. He has the right to bring along a trade-union official, a lawyer or anyone else he\’d like.

That will be complicated: A pair of Paris judges this week released Mr. Kerviel from custody but forbade him to have contact with the bank.

Exxon Results

A reasonable year:





    2007   2006   2007   2006
  Earnings / Earnings Per Share              
  Total revenues and other income 116,642   90,028   404,552   377,635
  Total costs and other deductions 96,920   74,467   334,078   310,233
  Income before income taxes 19,722   15,561   70,474   67,402
  Income taxes 8,062   5,311   29,864   27,902
  Net income (U.S. GAAP) 11,660   10,250   40,610   39,500
  Net income per common share (dollars) 2.15   1.77   7.36   6.68

Net income per common share – assuming dilution (dollars)

2.13   1.76   7.28   6.62

$40 billion to shareholders, $29 billion to the tax man.

Oh, and if this is to be believed, another $71 billion in further taxes (oil royalties et al).

The public coffers get two and a half times what the shareholders do. My, how we are all ripped off by the oil companies.

Contract Riders

Those little things that stars put into their contracts. Lily Allen seems to have got things about right:

Bottle of Jack Daniel’s whiskey.
Four bottles of champagne.
Twelve packets of Monster Munch (pickled onion flavour).
Puppy (nighttime only)

But really, who knew that there was someone sensible and with taste in the Jackson family?

Janet Jackson
Chaise longue.
Ten black roses.

Dear Mr. Pierce

The lack of adequate government funding for the arts is a major problem.

I\’m afraid you\’ve fallen at the first hurdle. That there is any government funding for the arts is a major problem.

Yet, instead of acknowledging this and fighting for a better deal, the Arts Council started wittering on about "relative excellence" and value for money.

If there is to be such funding you object to its being spent in the most efficient manner possible?

But we know why there was a capitulation yesterday. Not because the Government and Arts Council saw the error of their penny-pinching, target-driven ways. They gave in because Dame Judi and Sir Ian, and the other luvvies, pack a powerful punch in the media.

Indeed, it\’s us the taxpayers being robbed to pay those who have celebrity. It\’s easier for the politicians to pay the blackmail than it is to tell them to go swivel.

As you point out, those who cannot get onto the front page of the newspapers with their ransom demands do not get them paid.


I think there might be one or two people out there in the blogosphere with something to say about this:

The pathetic spectacle of Derek Conway, greedy, on the take and humiliated, will not be the last such abuse of taxpayers\’ money.

The problem stems from MPs\’ belief that they deserve an entourage.

I would concede an MP needs a secretary, and am happy for that to be his spouse – for if the spouse doesn\’t work hard for the MP, the MP may soon be out of a job.

But why do they need research assistants? MPs never used to have them: they just had their secretaries get information from the House of Commons Library.

What research was young Conway, or his catamite, doing? I am unclear what learned pamphlets the disgraced MP has published on the basis of this work, or even speeches illuminated by it.

The way forward is a massive cut in allowances. If MPs need advisers, let their parties pay for them. Taxpayers are put upon enough without having to fund such swindles.

These folks perhaps.

At least one of that duo did the work that led to Owen Patterson\’s plans for the reform of fisheries. That is, the only economically sensible plan (and one which of course had no hope of actually being adopted) which has been proposed to reform the Common Fisheries Policy: for it was the only one which recognised what the problem actually was, a Commons Tragedy and one which could thus only be solved by the allocation or management of property rights.

I don\’t know about you but I\’m absolutely delighted that taxpayers\’ funds are used to come up with such obviously sensible proposals. Beats anything that\’s coming out of other parts of the apparat.


Up to two thirds of people claiming incapacity benefit are not entitled to the state handout, the Government\’s new welfare adviser warns today.

Ya Think?

Anybody at all who has looked at these figures knows that Incapacity Benefit has been a parking place for long term unemployed.

I\’m not sure about the rules now but a few years ago I remember asking someone running a successful football blog why he didn\’t take advertising. The answer was that even the modest (he might have made £100, £150 a month) income would have threatened his Incapacity and other benefits. As those included housing benefit etc it simply wasn\’t worth the risk.

That, I think, is the worst part about the benefit system: it\’s so damn hard to climb out of the dependency gradually. There\’s a huge swathe of income levels from paid work where disposable income can actually fall.

Just another are where a cbi can help.

Oh, Mark, Please!

Good Grief!

I think we should go further, instead of taxing profits only when they become excessive, we should recognise that oil reserves are a gift of nature. The distribution of the wealth derived from their exploitation should reflect this and be spread among all citizens, not disproportionately in favour a minority of the already wealthy. A large proportion of Shell\’s profits arise because oil companies are allowed cheap and sometimes free access to oil reserves when they should be paying the rest of us for the privilege.

Can we try and drag ourselves into the 20 th century at least, if the 21 st is proving too difficult? Are you not aware that everyone already does this? Petroleum royalties? Special rates of corporation tax?

The UK appears to have charged the oil companies some £ 63 billion for precisely that, the gift of nature, distributing that wealth amongst all citizens. (That number may well be off as the tax regime ain\’t that simple, see here.)

It\’s one thing to insist upon higher taxation, quite another to insist that we immediately need to bring in a system which has already been extant since, ooh, say, the Petroleum (Production) Act of 1934.