Entirely believe the what, it’s the why…..

A new study found would-be mothers who feel overwhelmed or depressed are at greater risk of suffering a miscarriage if they are pregnant with a boy.

Scientists at Columbia University in New York said that, in many cases, women will not yet have realised they have conceived when the pregnancy fails due to stress.

The team correlated birth outcomes in a group of 187 pregnant women with 27 indicators of psychosocial, physical and lifestyle stress.

They noted that the boy-to-girl ratio in women who were physically stressed was 4:9, and 2:3 in women who were psychologically stressed.

This is compared to 105:100 boy-girl ration across the whole population.

Published in the journal of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study appears to explain longstanding trends showing an increase in births of girls relative to boys following national traumas, such as 9/11, the assination of JFK and various earthquakes.

The researchers believe the phenomenon may be explained by the fact male foetuses take longer to complete their early developmental stages, leaving them more vulnerable to sub-optimal conditions in the womb.

Sure. And we see much the same, tho’ stronger, in times of real stress like near famine. Male female ratio at conception stays the same. Girl ratio at birth soars. There’s selective abortion (not, perhaps, spontaneous as it’s being caused, but not consciously) going on. Even if it’s abortion by unthinking hormones rather than adult human action.

The argument deployed. Children born after a pregnancy at a time of stress are usually smaller. Assuming that the stress lasts for some time they’ll also be nutritionally deficient during childhood – the chances of stunting rise.

Male children who grow up runty lose out in the having grandchildren stakes. Female children, assuming that times aren’t so hard that the plumbing still works, will still have those grandchildren even if runty.

The aim of life is grandchildren. Thus, selective abortion of male foeti in times of stress. Why bother to invest in what won’t produce the point of the exercise? Clear it out and start again, better luck next time.

We’re really pretty sure this is true of famine and near. So, why not with other forms of stress?

BTW, this is also used as the reason for Downs rising with maternal age. It’s not eggs decaying. Rather, when there’s plenty of time for another conception why not clear out the near failure. But when this might well be the last one then why not carry on?

Facts and transphobia

Apolice force has been accused of “incredible irresponsibility” for treating the display of transphobic stickers around Oxford as a “serious crime”.

Some of the stickers, which have been dotted around the city centre, state: “Woman: noun. Adult human female” and “Women don’t have penises”.

Thames Valley Police has announced that those responsible could be charged with a public order offence and has appealed for witnesses.

It said: “Officers are investigating a large number of offensive stickers that have been placed across Oxford city centre containing transphobic comments.

Interesting to see what actually counts as transphobia, no? Presumably “Blacks have more melanin” is racist therefore, “Buggery, not just for homos” is inclusive?

Michael Biggs, Associate Professor in Sociology at the University of Oxford, suggested that the police had overreacted.

“This is literally the Oxford English definition of what a woman is,” he said.

“I can’t believe that needs any stance at all. To say that a dictionary definition is a terrible hate crime is extraordinary. The police is being incredibly irresponsible.”

How NewSpeak we’ve become. Quoting the dictionary is a crime now.

This doesn’t look right to me

But I’m willing to be corrected:

More than half the children in custody are from ethnic minorities for the first time amid a rise in knife crime, according to figures from the chief inspector of probation.

Justin Russell said there were 415 blacks, Asians and minority ethnics (BAME) aged ten to 17 in young offender institutions or secure units compared to 396 whites in May.

It is the first time they have topped 50 per cent despite only comprising 18 per cent of the general population and 27 per cent of those who received a caution or conviction in 2017/18.

Average BAME (actually, “non-white” which may not be the same thing) is about 14% for all age groups. With a very definite bias younger. For over 80s it’s perhaps 4% for example. So, only 18% in that age group? Don’t think so.

It’s still nowhere near half of course.

I’d suggest another alteration too – let’s look at central urban populations only. At which point it wouldn’t hugely surprise to find that 50% of the total age group are in fact BAME. At which point, well, do we think that inner city teens are more likely to be arrested, be in custody, than non-inner city teens?

Dunno, but I think that just those two alterations would get us a lot of the way to explaining this number. Rather than what we’re going to get told it is, the rassssist British State.

We can tell what comes next

Living next to green spaces such as parks, allotments, golf courses and playing fields can boost the price of a property by £2,500 on average, statisticians have found.

Living within 100 metres of a public green space can add thousands of pounds to property prices, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has reported.

For I actually have seen the argument made. Which is that if parks make properties worth more then we should have lots more parks. Thus all properties will be worth more.

Err, no, the parkside thing is a relative good, the one with more parkside is worth more than the one with less. This doesn’t change according to the absolute number of parksideness, only with the relative.

The Nobel

Perhaps children learn better on a full belly? Or perhaps parents keep children away from school simply so that they can feed them? Or even send them to work so there’s enough money to feed that child? Any of those would suggest that feeding the child at school will lead to more learning and a better attendance record. Michael Kremer has evaluated just that, and finds that it’s true. Feeding children in absolute poverty (the $1.90 a day income kind, not something that exists anywhere in the United States) leads to much better educational outcomes. So if we subsidize school lunch in places too poor to afford it, we make the world a better place.

At which point we come back to one of the older lessons of economics: Just because something should be done doesn’t mean that getting government to do it works. A charity called Mary’s Meals does just this for $20 per child per year. The U.S. government has a program to do the same, which costs about $200 per child per year. Both are feeding millions a year — which is great, but think how much more could be done if it were all being done efficiently?

Banerjee, Duflo, and Kremer are well deserving of their Nobel Prize — not so much for making this vale of tears less dreadful, but for arming us with more of the tools we need to work out how to do that.

Or, of course…..

But gambling with dice was common in Rome, two millennia ago. There’s something strange about most Roman dice. At first sight they look like cubes, but nine tenths of them have rectangular faces, not square ones. They lack the symmetry of a genuine cube, so some numbers would have turned up more frequently than others.

Even a slight bias of this kind can have a big effect in a long series of bets, which is how dice games are normally played. Only in the middle of the 15th century did it become standard to use symmetric cubes. So why didn’t Roman gamblers object when they were asked to play with biased dice? Jelmer Eerkens, a Dutch archaeologist who has made a study of dice, wondered whether a belief in fate, rather than physics, might be the explanation. If you thought your destiny was in the hands of the gods, then you’d win when they wanted you to win and lose when they didn’t. The shape of the dice would be irrelevant.

The odds adapted to the different probabilities…..

Therefore no one made a profit out of privatisation

The CBI really needs to learn double entry accounting and something about business valuation before it talks about the costs of nationalisation


But, second, it gets worse. This payment is apparently a ‘cost’ to government. It’s as if the CBI thinks that in every takeover in British history value was destroyed and the acquiring company wrote off the asset bought through the profit and loss account as an expense straight after the purchase. That, of course, is not what happens. And there is good reason for that: valuable property have been acquired, as would also be the case here. In other words, this is not a cost. It is an investment. And the investment goes on the country’s balance sheet in that case. Which means it is not a cost.

Third, the CBI then claim that the interest cost of the acquisition, which would be just £2bn a year, is a burden to be suffered. But that, of course, ignores the fact that these assets acquired have earned a return to date, which is precisely why they attribute such high value to them. In that case they are more than capable of covering a £2bn cost of interest. But the CBI forgets this.

So is any part of the CBI claim as to value, asset accounting or income cost true? No: not a single part is. The CBI apparently does not know how to value assets and account for takeovers, and nor does it realise that costs might have income compared to them.

To describe their claims as a shoddy piece of work worthy of a fail in sixth form business studies is to be too kind to them. It’s just incompetent.

If the CBI does not like nationalisation it will have to do a lot better than that. And understand some basic, but essential accounting as well.

Therefore privatisation was just double entry bookeeping as well, wasn’t it? Govt got what the assets were worth.


I’d pay to see the reaction

Making profit should not now be the primary goal of a business: being net-zero carbon should be

I should add that I have already written to Mark Carney on this issue.

It’s that Pooteresque mixture of idiocy and self-importance……

The actual task – as Stern and others have pointed out – is how to make it profitable to be less carbon emitting. ‘Cuz us humans tend to do more of things that are profitable.

This is the point of doing testing

In the UK’s trials of voter ID so far, significant numbers of people were denied a vote. When some majorities can be as small as two, every vote matters.

Voter ID being sold as a solution to a problem that we do not have

So, when we test voter ID we find that a number of people don;t pass the test. This shows that the test isn’t necessary.


I have a plan

More than twice as many children are waiting to be adopted as there are families willing to adopt, campaigners have warned.

Figures from the Adoption and Special Guardianship Leadership Board (ASGLB) show there are 4,140 youngsters across England where a decision has been made by authorities that they should be adopted.

In comparison, there are about 1,700 families who are approved to adopt and waiting to be matched with children.

There are 2,760 children where a placement order has been made for adoption but they have not yet been placed.

Relax the process by which potential parents are cleared for adoption.


Despite its myriad problems, the Cuban economy has proved resilient when times get tough, according to Pavel Vidal, a former economist at the Cuban Central Bank who now teaches at the Javeriana Cali University in Colombia.

“In normal conditions, Cuba’s centrally planned economy impedes economic growth, progress and innovation,” he said. “But in times of crisis, having a plan to assign resources where they are needed is an advantage.”

Prices allocate resources efficiently. So, when we’re short of resources we shouldn’t use prices?

No wonder the place is fucked with that sort of insanity.

Umm, why?

“Broke men are hurting women’s marriage prospects,” the NY Post recently declared, citing a study from the Journal of Family and Marriage. The article claimed that “most American women hope to marry” but there is a shortage of men with stable incomes and lives, making it tough for women to do so.

Why is it necessary for the bloke to have a stable income before he’s marriageable. Unless, of course, it’s the stable income that’s being married?

Data confirms that more women have begun to realize that there are far worse things than dying alone, which is great news for women but bad news for the patriarchy.

Women marry incomes is bad news for the patriarchy?

Bravo gentlemen, bravo

There was no such reprieve for the northeastern town of Kamaishi, where flooding had left the organisers with no choice but to cancel the lunchtime game between Canada and Namibia.
With their match at the Recovery Memorial Stadium cancelled, Canadian players grabbed shovels and helped clear the mud from Kamaishi’s streets.

Nowt larger than that, just well done, vry well done those men.

Piketty? Sowell? For the Nobel?

Big names in the economics world have missed out. Thomas Piketty, the French economist, has just published his follow-up to the bestselling Capital. Titled Capital and Ideology, it expands on the themes of the first book. Sales of Capital topped 2m copies but have not put him in the running, possibly because at 48 he is too young to have built up enough citations among economists.

Thomas Sowell, 89, has the track record and another bestselling book under his belt, but fails to make the cut. Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover institution, Stanford University, and his brand of laissez-faire, anti-government economics is at the opposite end of the spectrum to the leftwing Piketty.

Err, no, don’t think so. Only a few hours to find out but I really seriously doubt either of them.

Especially Piketty. As part of the process of waiting a bit is not so that the citations can build up, rather to see if anyone shoots own the hypothesis. Which ,given that most of Piketty’s data is wrong is likely to happen.

Oh Lordy, another piece of bollocks

Yet more nonsense about slavery and the Confederacy:

Black Confederates: exploding America’s most persistent myth

Set up a straw man, fail even to burn that down, then proclaim the New History.

“For many people, that is evidence of black Confederate soldiers,” Kevin Levin told an audience at the National Archives in Washington last month. “But it’s not. In fact, no one was confused during the dedication that this was in fact a body servant.”

In other words, an enslaved man.

The American civil war has never been in short supply of myths, but Levin describes black Confederates as the “most persistent”. Hundreds of articles, organisations and websites rewrite history by asserting that between 500 and 100,000 free and enslaved African Americans volunteered as soldiers in an army fighting to preserve slavery.

Just because it is counterintuitive does not make it true. In the wake of Donald Trump’s election and the white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, where a statue of the Confederate general Robert E Lee still stands, the issue resonates beyond the halls of academia.

Levin, a historian, educator and author of the blog civil war memory, has been writing on the subject since 2008.

The straw man – that there were black confederate soldiers shows that the South was right.

The supposed disproof – there were slaves that whities brought along to take care of them in camp.

The disproof has the obvious merit of being correct, in that there were camp slaves.

But that there were camp slaves does not mean there were no black volunteers who fought for the Confederacy. It’s not a disproof that is.

The matter wasn’t so, err, black and white. Not all blacks in the South were slaves. Rather more importantly, not all slave owners in the South were white. There were indeed black slave owners. Actually, the first person to actually own a full on chattel slave in the US was black.

That slaves fought for slavery may or may not be true. That some blacks fought for the Confederacy – voluntarily – is true. Just as it’s also true that some blacks owned black slaves.


Some Royal wealth is conspicuous. Take Balmoral Castle and Sandringham House, for example: both were bought with public funds and qualify for taxpayer support when they are used for official business. They remain the Queen’s private property, all the same.

Balmoral was bought with Albert’s private funds, wasn’t it?

Anyone know more about this?

Mr Baker, an MP for 18 years,

Did Baker claim mileage when he used his own car on public business?

One up on Eton

Sure, the place might have produced Prime Ministers but how many Presidents?

Rodrigo Duterte, the abrasive president of the Philippines, returned last week to one of his favorite laments — his poor health — and declared he was suffering from a chronic immune-system disorder.

The timing does not seem accidental. The Supreme Court, its benches now packed with his appointees, is set to issue a crucial ruling about who should be a heartbeat away from the presidency.

If the 74-year-old Duterte — who is prone to long, unexplained public absences — gets his way, his current vice- president would be replaced by Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, son of the late dictator who ruled for 21 years.

Assuming it comes to pass, Worth 1, Eton 0.