The perils of impotence

At one point he fretted to his analyst that he thought he might be impotent after a disappointing encounter the night before.

“You tell me that you had sex 29 nights in a row with different girls. On the 30th, you say you’re impotent,” his doctor replied drily. “You know, even God rested after six days.”

This is an interesting start, isn’t it?

Al Franken has repeated his contention that some of his fellow senators think Donald Trump is “not right mentally”.

“A few” Republicans are so concerned, the Minnesota Democrat told CNN’s State of the Union on Sunday. “It’s not the majority of them, it’s a few.”

Such concerns are expressed, he said, “in the way all of us have this suspicion. He lies a lot, he says things that aren’t true, that’s the same as lying I guess”.

Start with the he’s a bit odd thing some Rs and within a couple of months it will have moved to “All Rs think he’s mad so impeach!”

Seriously?

She may be known as the Queen of the Aga saga, but Joanna Trollope claims that the moniker is sexist and “damaging” to her literary career.

The author, whose tales of rural intrigue have made her into a household name, said that the Aga saga tag had been applied to her novels as a result of gender discrimination within the literary establishment.

Then again, in a world where some seriously claim that standing while peeing is sexist what is there that cannot be claimed as sexism?

What a fun, fun, argument

Britons may have to work longer if immigration is cut in the wake of Brexit, according to a warning from the Government’s pension adviser.

John Cridland, a former CBI director reviewing the state pension age for the Government, said the “Brexit Factor” had made the future of the state pension uncertain.

The Government’s decision on pension changes, due in May, will be informed by Mr Cridland’s report to be published one month earlier.

Probably a true one too. Given the low rate at which we indigenes reproduce there aren’t all that many young people to pay for the old. So, it’s necessary to import more younger and more fertile in order to pay for the old.

Or, pay the old less or for a shorter period of time.

But the real point here is that governments have lied for the past century and more. The way they set up the pensions system was not sustainable, that’s exactly what we’re being told here.

Called free speech honey

Books why deny the Holocaust are available on Amazon:

Karen Pollock, chief executive of the Holocaust Educational Trust, said Amazon’s decision to promote Holocaust deniers on the platform was “shocking and wrong”.

“The Holocaust was one of the most well documented and researched periods in history, yet even in 2017, over 70 years later, there are still those who deliberately deny, denigrate and belittle the memory of the Holocaust,” she said.

“Holocaust denial is highly offensive and the intent is anti-semitism, pure and simple. To have this offensive material widely accessible via any retailer is shocking and wrong.”

See headline.

Rilly? Scots want less government?

Ministers are under pressure to scrap Scotland’s increasingly costly free universal public services, with a majority of Scots keen to abolish free university tuition and personal care for the elderly.

A Sunday Times investigation has found that amid growing pressure on the public purse, the cost of the flagship free policies has soared to about £2.5bn.

In the case of free personal care alone, the price tag has risen by 287% since it was introduced in 2002 — up from £132m to £500m. Scotland’s ageing population means the cost of that and other free services for elderly people is likely to continue to rise sharply.

Taxpayers are also footing an annual bill of £1.3bn for more than 100m free prescriptions dispensed in the community.

And currently it’s not even the Scots paying for it all. Wonder just how much government they would vote for if they really were paying for it all themselves?

Hang on a minute!

Physicist Steven Desch has come up with a novel solution to the problems that now beset the Arctic. He and a team of colleagues from Arizona State University want to replenish the region’s shrinking sea ice – by building 10 million wind-powered pumps over the Arctic ice cap. In winter, these would be used to pump water to the surface of the ice where it would freeze, thickening the cap.

The pumps could add an extra metre of sea ice to the Arctic’s current layer, Desch argues. The current cap rarely exceeds 2-3 metres in thickness and is being eroded constantly as the planet succumbs to climate change.

“Thicker ice would mean longer-lasting ice. In turn, that would mean the danger of all sea ice disappearing from the Arctic in summer would be reduced significantly,” Desch told the Observer.

Desch and his team have put forward the scheme in a paper that has just been published in Earth’s Future, the journal of the American Geophysical Union, and have worked out a price tag for the project: $500bn (£400bn).

But geoengineering is wrong, isn’t it?

And if it isn’t wouldn’t we be better off spending $20 million (perhaps) on iron seeding the Southern Ocean to capture a billion tonnes a year of CO2?

This goes from reasonable to absurd

In its annual audit of the far right, Hope not Hate, the UK’s largest anti-racism and anti-extremism movement, said that although conventional far right groups such as the English Defence League continue to fracture, new forces have surfaced that can reach a vast international audience and bolster support for the “alt-right”, which is defined as the far right with a fringe “white nationalist element” that opposes multiculturalism and defends “western values”.

There’s something of a difference between calling for Jews to be reintroduced to gas ovens and wondering whether the vibrancy offered in Rotherham to the young girls in council care is a good idea.

But apparently all are the same now.

An example of these activities is provided by London-based Paul Watson, described as “editor, staff writer” for the conspiracy website InfoWars – whose most popular article on Friday morning was headlined: “Trump destroys leftist judges.” Watson, who has 483,000 Twitter followers and 764,872 subscribers on YouTube, is named as a central disseminator of the conspiracy theory concerning Hillary Clinton having debilitating health issues in the runup to the US election, including the “Is Hillary Dying?” hoax.

I’ve no idea about this bloke and maybe he is one to stoke up the ovens. But given that Hillary did in fact publicly collapse from “pneumonia” it’s hardly either Alt Right or Ctrl Left to question her physical fitness now, is it?

By the way, the answer to the dying question is “Yes.” As with all of us, one day at a time.

During a series of unashamedly conspiratorial videos that were viewed millions of times, Watson, originally from Sheffield, suggested Clinton might have had syphilis, brain damage and Parkinson’s disease as well as alleging she was a drug abuser.

Syphilis, in these days of antibiotics, is most unlikely. But we do in fact know that she has brain damage–that knock on the head did indeed produce a blood blockage. Now you might not want to term that brain damage but it is, in a strict sense, exactly that. And Parkinsons is a possibility although there’s vanishingly little proof.

But the important point here is that sure, there really are vile people out there with some horrible views. Asking whether Hills is ill doesn’t make you one of them nor is it a vile view to hold.

Another Briton said to have had an influential intervention in the US elections is 52-year-old Jim Dowson, a Scottish Calvinist who founded the far right, anti-Muslim party Britain First. Dowson, from a hub in Hungary, set up a network of US-focused websites and Facebook groups with the intention of promoting Trump and denigrating his rival during the US election.

Dowson’s websites include Patriot News Agency – whose postings have been viewed and shared tens of thousands of times in the US – and whose articles on Friday include a critique of a new Netflix series which it accused of stoking anti-white racism. An investigation by the New York Times in December claimed that although a sizeable volume of US election fake news emanated from central and Eastern Europe, Dowson’s operation was the only obviously politically inspired intervention.

Horrors, eh? Free speech rights being exercised by the wrong person.

And then the reveal. Of course, the obvious dividing line between these behaviours has to be blurred so that they can get Milo and Steve Bannon into he evil stoke the ovens grouping.

Sorry to have to tell he Hope not Hate folks this but simply disagreeing with you is not evidence of anything other than simply disagreeing with you on the design of The Good Society. Shouting Heil Trump and listening to David Irving respectfully are good evidence of idiocy if nothing else but really, you’re doing your whole cause a disservice by equating this with sneering at Hills.

All seems sensible

Judges are labouring under antiquated notions of chivalry in awarding women maintenance payments which extend years into the future, despite the fact many divorcees go on to earn good salaries on their own, says a leading female peer.

A Bill tabled by Baroness Deech calling for a three year cap to be placed on most maintenance payments is now set to go to the Committee stage after passing its second reading in the House of Lords.

The cross bench peer says this would reflect the situation in Scotland, the rest of Europe and North America, where a short time limit is set on maintenance payments in divorce cases. Baroness Deech says that far from doing women a favour the law as it stands in England is both patronising and stops them being treated seriously in the workplace.

“If there is one thing that stops women getting back on their feet and being treated seriously and equally at work it is the assumption throughout the legal system that once a woman is married she is somehow disabled and incapable ever of managing on her own for the rest of her life. It is a very serious impediment to equality.”

It’s entirely possible to design a reasonable sort of contract here. Money from before the marriage is personal, not part of the marriage. Anything earned in the marriage is 50/50 and the richer of the two offers a few year subsidy to allow the other to readjust upon divorce.

After that it’s just child maintenance to deal with.

The interesting question is why the law isn’t that way – I believe it is in part in Scotland.

Lordy

Richard Murphy says:
February 11 2017 at 10:09 am
Right wing libertarianism is an abuse of the idea of Liberty because it is indifferent to the liberty of others

It’s actually the definition that my liberty extends only so far as it does not constrain your.

From a left wing perspective the need to reconcile the absolute reality of conflicting aims is apparent and mechanisms for doing so are recognised to be necessary

Which is why left wing libertarianism is the only true form of the idea because the right wing form is actually an excuse for abuse

Still entirely missing it. Even the Randians agree that where rights conflict a resolution mechanism is needed.

There (might) be a new blog!

What occurred to me is that most of those looking to make a contribution share a characteristic in common. They are able, willing and opinionated writers on issues that matter to a lot of people. I have on occasion used some of their material as blogs. But that is only occasional: I am well aware that, for better or worse, this blog gets its character from the fact that it is my own stream of conciousness. What, though, in that case if those who write here regularly were to create a parallel blog? I would promote it here, with links. I might even, if permitted, write for it on occasion. The aim would, though, be to give others a bigger voice.

What to call it? That’s a detail to be sorted out, although I have some suggestions (well, one, actually).

It would need an editorial team and some people willing to moderate it.

It would require a modest budget to get it going, but I think a little crowd funding could sort that.

A budget. Yep, someone should pay for Carol Wilcox and Ivan Horrocks to write at each other. Why, this could be the start of an entirely new political party!

But it would be essential that editors undertake due diligence on writers: the chance that someone would try to infiltrate would be very high.

Don’t worry, I really wouldn’t bother.

“This is where neoliberalism has got us (amongst many other shite situations):

‘In parts of Croydon, south London, where developers have been given a free-for-all to convert old office towers into residential units however they like, some are just 15 sq m. The idea that you can fit a bedroom, kitchen, eating area and bathroom into 12ft by 14ft is frightening. I was told many years ago by a private developer in London to only buy a three-bed home with a garden, because that’s the one thing families want, and the one thing they were no longer building. Demand would soar because supply was non-existent. I took his advice, and he was right.

Today’s young adults are effectively being told that they must live in ever-smaller homes without gardens. Those in their 20s are already earning less than those in previous generations. They must put off starting a family until later in life. They cannot expect to buy their own home and must rent, instead. They must work until 70 to pick up a pension. And that pension will be less generous than their parents enjoyed.”

Horrocks hasn’t realised that it is the Curajus State insisting upon ever higher housing density.

Next non-Spud comment is inevitably from Wilcox.

The Guardian gets worried because it doesn’t understand

Well, this is finance:

A huge increase in the amounts borrowed by already indebted households in Britain and the US to buy new vehicles is fuelling fears that “sub-prime cars” could ignite the next financial crash.

British households borrowed a record £31.6bn in 2016 to buy cars, up 12% on the year before, said the Finance and Leasing Association on Friday. Nine out of 10 private car buyers are now using personal contract plans (known as PCPs), which have boomed since interest rates fell to historic lows.

Terrors, terrors.

Some of the car-leasing loans in the US and the UK have been packaged into asset-backed securities, to be sold on to investors such as pension funds. This was an asset class that played a ruinous role in the credit crunch, except this time the collateral for these assets is cars, not houses. The ratings giants, Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s, have given most of these batches of loans a triple-A safety rating.

The 2008 problem was that those bonds were *not* sold on to end investors like pension funds. Instead they sat around on bank balance sheets, often leveraged up 25 to 30 times the capital base supporting them. That was the problem – value impairment mean the banks had to dump them before their entire capital base was exhausted setting off a spiral of downward valuations.

If these bonds are with unleveraged final investors then this will not and cannot happen. Thus there’s no problem. If values fall then pensions fall a tiny bit in value. Shrug.

Not quite as bad as it looks at first but still

French Jews holding dual Israeli citizenship will have to give up one of their nationalities if Marine Le Pen, the far-Right candidate, wins the presidential election this spring.

The leader of the anti-immigration Front National said she would bar French nationals from holding the citizenship of countries outside the European Union, except for Russia, which she described as part of “the Europe of nations.”

The first paragraph is horrible of course, the second shows that it’s not quite that bad although still bad (Russia for fuck’s sake?). As to the EU I don’t think she can ban it, can she?