The Lithium Bubble

It’s really pretty obvious to me that we’re in a bubble concerning investments in lithium supplies. I’ve seen one project get funded just recently where I know, absolutely, that the technology they’re using is not in fact viable. It works, but it’s not economic. They are relying upon coproduction of other metals to make up the numbers and that’s a risky thing in mining.

Oh, sure, if you’re going for copper then you’ll take account of the gold, maybe the molybdenum credits, but they should be extra spice, not what pushes you over the line. Not that this is a law, rather just a rule of thumb.

However, bubbles o mean that interesting things get financed:

Claims that Cornwall is sitting on a multibillion-pound lithium bonanza are due to be tested after a start-up ­project that plans to drill for the metal raised £1m from a trio of experienced mining investors.

Cornish Lithium aims to extract the resource, which is in increasing ­demand for batteries, from hot underground salt water. Its new investors include Norwegian financier Peter Smedvig, founder of Smedvig Capital, whose net worth has been estimated at more than £900m.

I have absolutely no idea whether this will work, obviously. But it strikes me as being something which logically could.

Lithium “deposits” tend to be disperse. Another one I know of, there’s mountains of rock, in which there is zinnwaldite, that being 1.3% Li. So, you dig up the rock, crush it, get the zinnwaldite out, then process that. Sure, it can be done. That’s proven. Getting the rock out and the zinnwaldite out of the rock, is expensive.

There are other areas of the world where those mountains of granite have been worn down by erosion and the Li is now sitting in vast plains of salts. Much easier, which is why we get much current Li from such salt plains. There are also areas of the world where hot water has been circulating through rocks and so there are brines with it in. The rest of world production comes from this.

So, hunt for more brines underneath the right sort of granite mountains – which Cornwall is – and you’ve a good chance there. Granite with tin, tungsten in it is likely to have Li, and those Cornish rocks do.

The reason I know all of this is because the same structure should also contain Sc, or at least can. Unfortunately the hydroxide of Sc isn’t soluble in water meaning that you don’t get Sc concentrations in the brines. Sadly.

As I say, don’t know if Cornish Li will work although we do know it’s there in the slurry pits of China Clay mining. But it is a logical place to go looking, that’s for sure.

The Germans do indeed have a problem here

One of Germany’s most prominent politcians has launched an oustpoken attack on the increasing use of the English language in every day life, and called for a crackdown.

“Co-existence can only work in Germany if we all speak German,” Jens Spahn, seen by many as a potential successor to Angela Merkel, said. “We can and should expect this from every immigrant.”

Mr Spahn, currently junior finance minister, reserved his greatest anger for the growing number of people who work in the German capital despite speaking no German.

“It drives me up the wall the way waiters in Berlin restaurants only speak English,” he told Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung newspaper.

Comparing Germans’ often relaxed attitude to the fierce French protectiveness of their language, he added: “You would never find this kind of lunacy in Paris.”

The thing being that the very idea of “Germany” is based on language. Hitler took it all a little far with that talk of “Volk” but there really was a strong 19th century movement that people of the same language were the natural national unit. As with Czechs, Slovaks, Poles and so on. Germany rather became Germany, with a lot of help from Prussian designs, as a result of that underlying idea.

To find that language isn’t quite working as the binding force must hurt to some extent therefore.

A very stupid thought

So, the various copies of the Lotus 7, Caterham, Westfield, LoCost and so on. Go like shit off a hot shovel, acceleration is superb given low weight of the total machine. Motorbike on 4 wheels sorta stuff.

Electric cars accelerate very well indeed. Battery weight a bit of a problem.

Hybrids, when on their batteries, accelerate like electric cars, actually better given low battery weight.

So, when does someone put a hybrid into a Lotus 7 copy to gain the acceleration? Umm, yes, I know, different drive train and all but when does this start to happen?

Quite remarkable finding by Spudda

Scotland is the only part of the UK running a consistent trade surplus

Natural resource producer runs goods trade surplus.

Quite remarkable, don’t know how they do it.

…..but for those with an interest in Scottish economics the implication is at least interesting. The persistent claim that Scotland has a weak economy and is unable to sustain itself is not supported by this data. The chance that it may now and certainly did, support the UK economy as a whole, is, however supported.

Whut? A goods trade surplus indicates a strong economy? Err, but, the US had a massive trade surplus during the Depression…….

Question in The Guardian

Don’t know how much of a response it will get:

A serious question here.

“Surely we can do better than this? When it comes to straightforward supply chain, eggs should be easy and yet the supply chain has been revealed to be fundamentally chaotic. Along the way, the humble egg became a cypher for a globalised food system where the opportunity for spectacular disaster is never far away.”

Can anyone point to a time and place when the food system managed two things together?

1) Feeding everyone, well. By this, in volume, with variety, without periods of dearth let alone starvation and at a less than extortionate cost. Say, perhaps, under 20% of household income.

2) Was locally based with short supply chains?

If there had ever been such a time then of course we could just go back and copy what they did. If there hasn’t then we’ve a bit of a problem really.

Yep, they want to control you all right

My feeling is that if we care about social mobility, then we should care about reducing assortative mating.

Because social mobility is such an important value we should therefore control who people marry.

Hmm, yes.

This is not a good combination either, for here comes the idiot stupidity:

The obvious way to do this would be to reduce social segregation in our education system. Even if we don’t meet our life partner at school or university, we might meet them later on through the lifelong friendships we form there.

What’s driving the rise in assortative mating is that people pair of later, doing so with people they meet though work. Which, in itself, is going to involve a certain stratification, innit?

We shouldn’t stop at schools. I’ve often struggled to explain why academic selection at 18 is OK when – off the back of the evidence – I could never support it at 11 or 14. Maybe because it’s not. In one of the most thought-provoking papers I’ve read recently, Tim Blackman, the vice chancellor of Middlesex University, argues a comprehensive university system in which more young people of mixed abilities go to their local university could bring similar academic benefits to comprehensive schooling.


Miliband is interesting here

In a scathing article in the Observer, Miliband wrote: “Delegating to May and Davis, never mind Johnson and Fox, the settlement of a workable alternative to EU membership is a delusion, not just an abdication.”

The elected government of the day must not enact the result of a referendum. We should do it the EU way of course, keep having votes until the right answer is reached.

And this is his opening line:

For many years Britons and Americans have been proud of the quality of their governance.

We have?

Blithering nonsense

An American rival — Cincinnati-based Vantiv — has launched a £9 billion takeover bid. Although 5,000 UK jobs are at risk, it seems that Worldpay bosses, led by former CBI president Sir Mike Rake, have succumbed with barely a murmur.
This supine cave-in typifies the attitude of our political and business elite.
They seem totally unconcerned at the speed with which British high-tech firms — built by the scientific and engineering skills of some of Britain’s greatest brains — are falling into the ravenous maw of foreign firms.
With Brexit on the horizon, the timing could not be worse.
Instead of stopping our national assets and technological genius being stripped, employers’ groups such as the CBI — who were used as puppets for the Cameron government’s cynical Project Fear — should now be straining every sinew to protect Britain plc.
This is why the fate of Worldpay — Britain’s largest and most profitable financial technology (‘fintech’) group — is so vitally important.

Dunno who is paying for this but all the signs of a bit of financial PR.

The bit being missed is that the company does not belong to Britain it belongs to the shareholders. Who are getting 9 billion spondoolies for their troubles.

Another insistence by the experts that turns out to be, err, wrong

Midwives have dropped their decade-long campaign for “normal birth”, saying that it made women feel like failures.

Women will no longer be told that they should have babies without medical intervention, the Royal College of Midwives has said in an overhaul of “misleading” professional guidance.

The imposition of the one central rule upon something that we, and our predecessor species, have been doing for tens of millions of years is wrong then what hope anyone getting the rules right for something we’ve only just started to do, like trade, mechanisation, capitalism and large scale voluntary exchange?

Asking for a friend.

So here we are, the true demand

One Thursday night in the next couple of years we could go to sleep knowing that, by Friday morning, neoliberalism in Britain will be over. If a left-led Labour party comes to power, leading a coalition determined to scrap free market economics, that will be a good day for working people. It will be a bad day for Virgin Care, Portland Communications and Saudi Arabia.

The very slight problem here being about Paul Mason’s dreams that free market economics works, not free market economics does not. That is, this is not an optional part of our universe, it’s just reality.

As I have pointed out endlessly this is not about cooperatives and worker ownership, socialism, v the capitalists, this is about the incompatibility of the complexity of a modern economy with detailed planning. Certainly, there are some things markets don’t deal with at all, things they need aid in dealing with – public goods and their mirror, externalities – but there are vast swathes of life where markets and their prices are the only tool we’ve got that actually works. To “scrap” this is not possible, this is just what is. We can fail to take note of it of course but that’s not going to work very well now, is it?

Because Chapman’s move illustrates where the real centre of gravity of a new centrist party would have to lie: it would be a liberal Tory party. The party of Notting Hill and Canary Wharf; the party of free market economics, globalised finance and social liberalism. And its major impact on British politics would be to split the Conservative party, not Labour.

That’s pretty hopeful too. For to most of the rest of us the split is over where Momentum starts, between those who acknowledge reality and those who don’t.

Paul Mason is a writer and broadcaster on economics and social justice

Amusing thought that one can combine those two…..

Not wholly sure this works mechanically

German officials are planning to tackle one of the multiple remaining inequalities between the sexes: the queue for the loo.

A scheme has been proposed by Berlin authorities to develop urinals for women at public lavatories across the city.

A 99-page document titled ‘The Toilet Concept for Berlin’ has been produced by the city’s environmental council in collaboration with the private sector.

It concludes that “pissoirs” (urinals) should only be offered in future in combination with unisex lavatories and that female urinals should be developed.

“In the future urinals which can be used by all genders should be offered,” the report states.

I’m just wondering why such an obvious thing has not already been developed? Could there be some mechanical reason why it doesn’t work very well?

There is also a slight wonder, how does this interact with the rules further north, in Sweden, where there is that agitation to make it illegal for a man to piss standing up?

The true value of journalism

The minister’s comment came in response to a journalist who said there are journalists with postgraduate degrees who start their journalism career with only Tk8,000 a month.

That’s £80 a month, or at PPP perhaps about £240 a month. It’s also a 60% upgrade to those entry level jobs in the garment factories.

Perhaps it’s just a poor country, maybe journalism isn’t a highly paid occupation or possibly there’s very little value in advanced degrees in grievance studies.

Homelessness is actually about the nutters

Mental health services – which have been faced significant cuts in recent years – are also essential to support many rough sleepers. In particular, there’s frequently a gap in provision for people with dual diagnosis of addiction and another mental health problem.

Quite Abi, quite.

We’ve got a large system which deals with people at risk of not having a roof over their heads. Rough sleepers are those that system doesn’t deal with. And as some actually note, the majority are suffering from one or other or both of those problems. It being rather more difficult to keep such in accommodation than to find it for them.

To a useful approximation rough sleeping isn’t in fact about housing at all…..

No, of course the UN isn’t left wing. Nor Ding Ding Loonie, not at all

These developments were the result of nearly 40 years of free market economics and what is increasingly seen as the depredations of “hyper-globalisation”.

In the now all-consuming British debate over Brexit – a rupture with the EU caused in part by austerity – it is important not to lose sight of the bigger picture. The catastrophic collision between Anglo-American de-regulation, the crash in the financial markets it engendered, and the strictures of German and Eurozone austerity sent a firestorm through southern European economies that should never have been allowed to join the single currency in the first place. And it has helped fuel populist movements on both left and right.

Despite some of the EU safeguards, hyper-globalisation has encouraged an explosion in debt, a continued fixation with short-term profit, and a failure to invest in long-term productive manufacturing – all largely to the benefit of the top 1%, today’s greedy and gross super-elite. Not only do we know that the catastrophic collapse in the Anglo-American financial markets resulted in precisely not a single banker being held accountable – but today it is still largely business as usual for the banks. Ironically, EU competition law that largely prevents state bailouts or nationalisation, was suspended in the case of the banks, who had trillions thrown at them or which were nationalised, courtesy of the taxpayer.

A report published by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development next month identifies some of these corrosive trends and suggests ways of reordering the world economy.

Err, yes.

Mark Seddon is a former UN correspondent for Al-Jazeera English, and speechwriter for the UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon

It’s the Wimmins

Middle-aged men from disadvantaged backgrounds are twice as likely to be single as those from rich families, according to a new study that highlights the lack of social mobility in Britain.

Research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies shows that men’s marriage prospects are linked to their upbringing, and that the disparity between those from well-off and poor families has widened in recent years.

The study found that one in three men from disadvantaged backgrounds were single at the age of 42, compared with one in seven from rich backgrounds.

Not that marriage or not particularly shows anything these days. But let’s deal with what they’re talking about. So, women choose men at least partly upon the basis of the social status of the man. Lower social status men are less likely to get picked.

Thus sports cars, big watches and status competition among men.


Err, yes, this is how humanity works

When they agreed to take part in a unique DNA project, residents of a close-knit Cotswolds village thought they might, at best, discover a far flung relative in an exotic location.

In fact, more than half of participants, who included the pub landlord, a local artist and a farmer, learned they were instead related to each other.

Really, this isn’t all that odd at all:

The closest found was that of Graham Harris and Gloria Warren, 74, who turned out to be third cousins, sharing a great great grandparent as their closest ancestor.

Camilla Bowditch, 68, and Andrew Packe, 66, were revealed to be fourth cousins and had no idea of their genetic link, despite living just minutes away from each other.

Can’t remember what the number is but by the time we’re 16th cousins all of Europe is related, no?

People rarely moved all that far, people couldn’t travel all that far and yet they shagged – thus some measure of shagging the more distant cousins along the way.

We couldn’t actually have a common ancestor and also have diverged in obvious appearance quite so much if this were not true.

Still, lucky they didn’t try this in Norfolk, eh?

Now they want price regulation of sweets

Shoppers in Scotland buy cheap snacks containing almost 110 tonnes of sugar every day, according to research.

Experts at the charity Cancer Research UK calculated that the equivalent of 4.3 million chocolate bars or 3.1 million cans of cola was being purchased each day at discounted prices in Scotland.

The figures heap further pressure on the Scottish government to bring in regulations restricting discounts such as buy-one-get-one-free on sweet snacks when it announces its obesity strategy this autumn.

Nothing will ever satisfy these fanatics. We should therefore cut to the quick and tell them to fuck off now.

Really not sure this argument works

I have since read Damore’s memo, which runs to ten pages, and that, too, was an education. Who knew, for instance, that you can simply read your own biased assumptions as “evidence’’? Who knew you could boldly say “men and women biologically differ in many ways’’, followed by “these differences aren’t just socially constructed because they are universal across human cultures’’, without feeling the need to qualify either statement?

Who knew you could simply ignore, for instance, Cordelia Fine’s brilliant work on “neurosexism’’ or the work of Margaret Mead, who spent time in Papua New Guinea with the Tchambuli tribe, where the men adorn themselves and gossip all day while the women do all the heavy-lifting?

Really not sure that using Margaret Mead as science really works these days, does it?