The funky drummer funks no more

It took only 20 seconds for Clyde Stubblefield to drum his way to immortality. They came near the end of James Brown’s “Funky Drummer,” recorded in a Cincinnati studio in late 1969. Brown counts him in — “1, 2, 3, 4. Hit it!” — and Mr. Stubblefield eases into a cool pattern, part bendy funk and part hard march. It’s calm, slick and precise, and atop it, Brown asks over and over, “Ain’t it funky?”

It was. That brief snippet of percussion excellence became the platonic ideal of a breakbeat, the foundation of hip-hop’s sampling era and a direct through line from the ferocious soul music of the civil rights era to the golden age of history-minded hip-hop of the 1980s and 1990s.

Though Mr. Stubblefield wasn’t enamored of the song — “I didn’t like the song. I still don’t really get off on it,” he told Paste magazine in 2014 — its mark became indelible. Public Enemy’s “Fight the Power,” LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out,” Boogie Down Productions’s “South Bronx,” Sinead O’Connor’s “I Am Stretched on Your Grave,” George Michael’s “Freedom! ’90” and Kenny G’s “G-Bop”: Mr. Stubblefield’s “Funky Drummer” break appeared as a sample in all of those songs, and over a thousand more, beginning in the 1980s, right up through present day.

It’s not a sample here but it is copied as the basic beat of the piece:

Sounds about right

Any future nationalist government of Scotland would face Greek-style austerity cuts of about £19 billion in the event of a “Scexit”, a leading economic forecaster has warned as speculation grows that the country will face a second independence referendum.

A new analysis by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) predicts that the gap between what Scotland raises in taxes and spends on public services will rise to an “unsustainable” 9.4% of GDP in 2017-18.

And of course if the demented porridge wogs think that’s worth it then we should not stand in the way of their leaving.

For, of course, we’re the people pickling up that bill at present….

I don’t actually like football

But I do love the FA Cup.

An excruciating few seconds as the technology calculated whether it had crossed the line. Then – finally – a whistle and a raised arm. And then pandemonium. Improbably, impossibly, little Lincoln – small in status but enormous where it counted – had won the day. The last eight of the FA Cup will have its first non-League representatives since 1914.

For those who don’t know what makes it great is that pretty much every football club that is organised enough to be a football club has the right of entry. 750 of them or so is the usual entry in recent years. There’s no seeding (although the big clubs enter later in the competition). No round robins, no group stages, just simple knock out matches all the way up. The first matches are in August, leading to the final the next May.

So, for example, Anstey Nomads FC, down at Level 10 of English football, with a ground capacity of 1,000, and quite possibly not in fact paying their players at all, is in competition with Manchester United here.

OK, so what you might think, but I think that makes it great. Because while the way to bet is that the race is to the swift etc, on the day it’s possible for the good little ‘un to beat the good big ‘un.

The French are weird

A workmen’s café in central France was overwhelmed with gourmet customers and TV crews after it was awarded a Michelin star — by mistake, it later turned out.

OK, such things happen.

Prospective customers were astounded when they turned up at the Bouche à Oreille, in the small town of Bourges, to find a cheap and cheerful eatery with red and white polka dot tablecloths, serving a fixed price lunch menu with homemade lasagna or beef bourguignon for about €10 (£8.50).


The other Bouche à Oreille, in Boutervilliers near Paris, offers linen tablecloths and dishes such as calf’s brain, lobster flan and chocolate pear crisp, with a €48 menu including a glass of champagne.

Weird little Froggies. Seriously, a decent beef stew or a cow’s head? Which would you prefer, which would you pay more for?


Russia plotted to assassinate the prime minister of a European nation and overthrow its government last year, according to senior Whitehall sources.

An election-day coup plot to attack Montenegro’s parliament and kill the pro-Western leader was directed by Russian intelligence officers with the support and blessing of Moscow, to sabotage the country’s plan to join Nato.

This is just me and my prejudices of course but I do tend to think that if this was actually planned from the centre then it would have worked. There’s an amazing number of rather less competent hyper-nationalists out there who might dream of trying something like this though.

Yes, we know this

More than 20 peers expected to force changes to the Brexit Bill this week are still earning tens of thousands of pounds from Brussels, it can be revealed.

Lord Mandelson, Labour’s former communications director, Lord Kinnock, the party’s former leader, and Lord Patten, who served in Margaret Thatcher’s cabinet, all still receive EU pensions.

Many other former MEPs and European commissioners are also receiving payouts from a Brussels pension pot estimated to be worth £10 million.

And it’s scandalous. They don’t even have to declare their interest when they speak.

What fun, I didn’t know this

Mar-a-Lago (English pronunciation: /mɑɹ.ə.lɑ.goʊ/) is an estate and National Historic Landmark in Palm Beach, Florida, built from 1924 to 1927 by heiress and socialite Marjorie Merriweather Post. Post envisioned the house as a future winter retreat for American presidents and foreign dignitaries, and following her death in 1973 it was bequeathed to the nation. However, successive presidents declined to use the mansion, which was returned to Post’s estate in 1980 and in 1985 was purchased by Donald Trump, later 45th President of the United States.

It was actually intended to be a sort of Chequers….

Well, yes….

Robert Mugabe’s Wife Says he Could Run in Election ‘As a Corpse’

There’s a rather large number of people who wish he would too.

At which point an interesting question. Is there anyone at all who has managed such economic catastrophe to be visited upon a country in the absence of a shooting war?

Suppose it depends upon whether you think Pol Pot was an outcome of a war or not, that sort of thing. But Mugabe has managed to achieve worse results than even Stalin. Is this a record?

Err, yes. Or no, maybe maybe

A Medical Theory for Donald Trump’s Bizarre Behavior
Many mental health professionals believe the president is ill. But what if the cause is an untreated STD?

Valuable diagnosis here:

Physicians like me have also taken notice of Trump’s bizarre, volatile behavior. Given our experience, we can’t help but wonder if there’s a medical diagnosis to be made. After all, many medical conditions exhibit their first symptoms in the form of psychiatric issues and personality changes. One condition in particular is notable for doing so: Neurosyphilis.


Does Trump suffer from this condition? I cannot, of course, establish this diagnosis from a distance.

Tertiary syphilis sometimes produces insanity and delusions of grandeur. Trump appears insane and has delusions of grandeur.

And that’s the extent of the diagnosis.

At which point allow me to add my own diagnosis, one that has the advantage of coming from someone with no medical training at all. It’s extremely unlikely that we’re going to see tertiary syphilis is someone exposed to the regular use of antibiotics common in the last 50 years of American medicine.

Yes, yes it does

Why does the £5 note debate matter? Because it’s state power v minorities
Chas Newkey-Burden
The Bank keeping tallow, or beef fat, in the new fiver sends a message to vegans, as well as Hindus, Sikhs and Jains, that our values don’t matter

It says exactly that, your values do not matter to the rest of us.

Because that’s the way that a liberal polity works. We have to tolerate your nostrums, as you must tolerate ours. But we do not have to respect them, accord with them nor even organise society so as to make it easy for you to keep to them. Sure, on the no skin off my nose principle we’ll not deliberately make it difficult for you to keep to your desires. But equally we’re not going to bend over backwards to accommodate each and every view of the universe.

Tallow is near universally used in plastics. Including those plastic shoes you’re wearing in place of leather ones. Tough titty frankly. You’re right, your values aren’t important enough to us for us to try to find a substitute for half a cow’s worth of tallow in the nation’s banknotes.

Tant pis, eh?

Worse, perhaps they could turn out to be waaacists

Streets should no longer be named after local heroes because they might one day be named as paedophiles, according to official guidance.

Councils have been told that places should not be named after individuals – including fallen soldiers – in case they are later linked to “inappropriate activities”.

It comes after hundreds of streets, footpaths and plaques named after Jimmy Savile had to be altered when the star was exposed as a child abuser.

Hmm, so what do we call that bit of London where the tailors hang out now?

Ha, great headline

Warren Buffett’s Dealmaking Ketchup Giant Kraft Heinz Heads Abroad In The Age Of Donald Trump

So, Kraft made a bid for Unilever, so that’s what the story is about. Donald Trump these days in a headline always gets more traffic. Warren Buffett has been driving search engine traffic for as long as I’ve been on this here internet. The only wondrous buzzword that’s missing there is Apple which can’t quite be shoehorned into this story.

Nor, actually, the 100 character limit on headlines at that gig.

A masterpiece….

Doesn’t this just show why Pruitt is right?

Employees of the Environmental Protection Agency have been calling their senators to urge them to vote on Friday against the confirmation of Scott Pruitt, President Trump’s contentious nominee to run the agency, a remarkable display of activism and defiance that presages turbulent times ahead for the E.P.A.

Many of the scientists, environmental lawyers and policy experts who work in E.P.A. offices around the country say the calls are a last resort for workers who fear a nominee selected to run an agency he has made a career out of fighting — by a president who has vowed to “get rid of” it.

“Mr. Pruitt’s background speaks for itself, and it comes on top of what the president wants to do to E.P.A.,” said John O’Grady, a biochemist at the agency since the first Bush administration and president of the union representing the E.P.A.’s 15,000 employees nationwide.

Yes, but he’s the President, duly elected, and you’re the drone to do his bidding….

Yes, it’s glory time again


The Wall Street Journal is heavily paywalled so a synopsis will do: what it is important to realise is that the assets in short supply are, most especially, government bonds. The main reason is that government bonds now play a crucial role in the world’s financial markets as collateral when lending.

This is a relatively new phenomena: until 2008 companies were willing to put massive sums on deposit with banks without requiring security to ensure that they would be repaid. Then the banks failed. As a result what became apparent was that banks’ capacity to repay was dependent upon the whim of the governments who were really underwriting their solvency. The significant growth of what is called the repo market is the consequence. To simplify somewhat, companies do not now deposit money overnight, leaving them as unsecured creditors of the bank. Instead they sell the bank the most secure and financially stable asset they can use (government bonds) with a contract that guarantees them the right to require the asset the next day with the price adjusted for overnight interest.

A cash depositor will sell a bank a security instead? Err, buy perhaps?

And it’s not about companies, here’s the WSJ piece un-paywalled:

The world is running out of safe financial assets. One reason may be regulators’ push to make trading safer.

A scarcity of safe collateral can create bouts of volatility in the markets where investors fund their purchases. Economists also worry that a lack of quality public-sector assets leads the private sector to create less reliable and riskier substitutes.

Global rules increasingly require that investors deposit cash as security, called margin, when they trade with each other. This money is often left at clearinghouses, which are intermediaries that stand between buyers and sellers and step in if one of the parties won’t make good on a transaction. Regulators are trying to give these clearinghouses more heft to make the financial system safer.

The clearinghouses, in turn, have to do something with the cash, and they frequently take it to repurchase, or “repo,” markets , where they lend it out in exchange for high-quality assets such as German bunds or U.S. Treasurys.

That has the effect of vacuuming up safe assets. Paradoxically, cash—at least its electronic form—isn’t ultrasafe: It needs to be left in bank deposits, and even the strongest banks have some risk. Treasurys and bunds don’t.

It’s clearing houses, not companies. And they buy, not sell. And they don’t sell anything to a bank either.


Getting this wrong

Mrs Ranjan’s supporters point out that Indians spend a staggering one fifth of their lifetime earnings on weddings.

The fathers of girls in particular save for their entire lives to amass a dowry that will secure for their daughters the best match possible in a respectable home. Even among the mega-rich, men mortgage their homes and sell off assets to pay for the weddings.

India’s recent cash crisis that followed Narendra Modi’s surprise decision to scrap the country’s two largest banknotes at a moment’s notice has underscored the precarious financial position in which households place themselves during wedding season.

Thousands of weddings went to the wall because fathers could no longer pay dowries with their now-worthless savings.

Dowries don’t pay for the wedding you twit.

Not quite sure you’ve got this matey

Amazon and Apple are profiting from an anti-vaccination documentary directed by the discredited former doctor Andrew Wakefield.

The film, which backs his fraudulent research linking vaccines with autism, is available for customers to watch for 99p on Amazon Instant Video and £6.99 on Apple’s iTunes. On Vimeo, a popular YouTube-style streaming service, it costs £3.17.

Scientists and autism campaigners urged the web companies to remove the film Vaxxed after The Times discovered that it had been put on sale in Britain this week.

Edzard Ernst, professor emeritus of complementary medicine at Exeter university, said: “Any company or person trying to make money by alarming people and thus endangering public health is not just unethical and immoral but also despicable and irresponsible.

“Wakefield’s data has been shown to be wrong. That he still insists on discouraging people from getting vaccinated is disturbing and a risk to public health. I just hope that the British public recognises a charlatan when they see one.”

Wakefield is indeed wrong, he’s even dangerous. And yet he still enjoys the same free speech rights as the rest of us.

Those rights don’t include forcing someone to sell his film, entirely true, but insisting that they don’t sell his film because you don’t like the content is pretty limiting, isn’t it?

Cuts Can’t Cause Deaths

Moreover, to blame an increase in a single year on ‘cuts’ to the NHS budget is arithmetically impossible given that budget rose by almost £15bn between 2009-10 and 2014-15.

You know, given that there haven’t been any cuts.

An unprecedented rise in mortality in England and Wales, where 30,000 excess deaths occurred in 2015, is likely to be linked to cuts to the NHS and social care, according to research which has drawn an angry response from the government.

The highly charged claim is made by researchers from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Oxford University and Blackburn with Darwen council,


Prof Danny Dorling from the University of Oxford

Ah, yes, obviously it’s bollocks then.


Driverless trucks: economic tsunami may swallow one of most common US jobs
America is producing more than ever before, but it is doing so with fewer and fewer workers. Once trucks become automated, where will these jobs go?

Well, those jobs will be gone, won’t they?


Along with buggy whip makers and dunnikin divers.

There’s a lot of this about

Chancellor Philip Hammond is an “economic illiterate” and does not understand the benefits of free trade, according to veteran economist and former Treasury advisor Professor Patrick Minford.

Mr Minford published a new paper yesterday calling for unilateral free trade, with the immediate elimination of all taxes on imports into Britain.

Minford is correct of course.

“This is economic illiteracy. I don’t know how one deals with an economic illiterate other than to say ‘come to my lectures’,” the professor said, speaking at the launch of EFT.