How interesting

Ritchie’s just posted some of his stuff at a place with an open comments section.

So if we must have a surplus earned on student debt, then at least it should actually contribute to the exchequer and the supposed cost of paying the interest “burden” that the nation supposedly suffers under. Sell this student debt, and the margin earned goes to someone else. And the more debt that is sold, the more that is the case.

Sorta misses the basics of the capital value of a debt stock, doesn’t it?

Hey, maybe Nicola will hand out a peerage?

I’ve said it before and no doubt I will say it again: he is a charming man who I like. But he is not a suitable leader for the Labour Party or the Opposition. And the result is that when watching parliament anyone can see Labour in disarray and next to it is the SNP, working together to great effect to achieve common aims that let them put their differences aside to deliver their message to great effect. If the Labour leadership had one tenth of that gumption maybe it would take a fight. But right now it’s hasn’t. And we’re all the losers as a result.

At least Widmerpool did something other than stare out the window to get his.

My word this is gorgeous idiocy

The FT reports this morning that:

Fund supermarket Hargreaves Lansdown has broken UK company law on dividend payments to shareholders, who include founders Peter Hargreaves and Stephen Lansdown.

The FTSE-100 listed broker admitted on Wednesday that it was “technically” in breach of the Companies Act because it had failed to file accounts justifying its dividend payments.

They’re not alone: other companies including Next have done this recently. No doubt others will follow in their path. And there’s good reason for that. It’s because for all practical purposes no one enforces company law in the UK. It could be argued that the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy should, but it does not. Partly because that’s because there is almost no one left there. And partly it’s because they pass the buck to Companies House. But Companies House is quite certain it is not a regulator; it says it is only a registrar. And other possible agencies, who do in any event have only very limited scope, such as the FCA, let such matters be swept under the carpet by retrospective action (as will happen here) or a mild wrap on the knuckles.

For:

Ian Gorham, Hargreaves’ chief executive, said it was a case of “not submitting a sheet of paper” to Companies House.

“Effectively, the [Financial Reporting Council] picks accounts at random to review, and it’s quite a substantial review, but they identified a technical issue by [us] not submitting this sheet of paper and we have to go through some bureaucratic hassle to fix it.”

The FRC is enforcing company law, that’s how they got caught.

Ritchie’s position is that we’ve just hung someone for murder therefore we must make murder something we prosecute.

What a bugger, eh?

Anton, who has been put back on his schizophrenia medication, travelled through at least 10 countries from Canada, including the United States, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil – all without a passport and with little more than the clothes on his back.

His brother said he had one bizarre mission; to get to the National Library of Buenos Aires in Argentina.

Tragically, when he finally made it to the library, after walking thousands of miles, he was turned away because he didn’t have any identification. So he turned around and began his trek into Brazil where he would eventually be found.

I dunno about tragically. That’s the one bit of it that makes the entire story.

Parliament is sovereign of course

The amendment that had the most potential to cause chaos for the Government was clause 43, tabled by the Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron, which called for a second public referendum before Brexit finally happens.

The Prime Minister has already agreed that Parliament will get a vote on the final deal before it goes to the European Parliament for ratification, but Mr Farron had argued that a referendum on the deal was vital to stop Britain going “over the cliff”.

Just 33 MPs backed Mr Farron’s proposal as the amendment was crushed by a majority of 307.

Still the Lords to go of course but given that Parliament really is sovereign that would seem to be the end of that, no?

Unless, and perish the very thought of it, sovereign is here meant to mean “doing as I wish”.

Hans Rosling

The essential lesson on offer being, and one without which we simply have no hope at all of deciding what to do next, that the good old days are right now. Further, that as long as we don’t mess up there is no reason why they shouldn’t keep getting better off into the future.

That is, roughly and imprecisely to be sure, with backsliding here and there, we’re on the right track with this economic development thing, with that just passed greatest reduction in absolute poverty in the history of our species.

Rosling wasn’t feted and awarded in the same manner that Paul Ehrlich, who has been wrong on every point concerning the same matter, has been but then that’s just how society seems to work. Gloom sells better than optimism.

All (all!) that Rosling did was stand up and tell us the truth about our world. A worthwhile thing to do with a life, don’t you think?

A sociologist explains

During February, it’s not uncommon to hear the refrain, “If there’s an African-American History Month, why isn’t there a white one?”

This question, and its close relative “What’s wrong with being proud of being white?” sometimes comes from people who sincerely, if oversimplistically, think racial equality should mean identical treatment for all racial identity groups.

It doesn’t?

Idiot is idiot

The Guardian has reported this morning:

The government is on course to impose steep cuts in public spending from April and increase taxes by the end of the decade to their highest level as a share of national income since 1986-87 to combat the UK’s persistent budget deficit.

But slower economic growth following the Brexit vote will still leave the UK with one of the largest black holes in public spending in the developed world, meaning the next government must find £40bn to eliminate the budget deficit in the next parliament, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

I will be honest: I have not read their full report. But let’s also be clear the premise of their report is nonsensical because there is no need for any government to balance a budget. What is more, technically it is simply not possible for a government to choose to do so. In that case the IFS are just peddling fear whilst recycling government propaganda that a balanced budget is necessary.

No, the IFS is saying that because the government has declared closing the budget deficit to be their target therefore they will have to…..

Hmm

The current favourite to become the next president of France has been forced to deny rumours that he is enjoying an extra-marital gay affair with a high-profile media chief.
Emmanuel Macron, the 39-year-old former economy minister, has been rumoured to be seeing Mathieu Gallet, the 40-year-old boss of Radio France.
This is despite Mr Macron being married for the last decade to Brigitte Trogneux, who is 20 years older than him.

I do like that “despite” there.

I’ve never really believed this and not sure why

Well after the Industrial Revolution, many people in Britain still swore by the health benefits of a ‘first sleep’ and ‘second sleep’.

For centuries, according to a sleep historian, they would use the time when they woke up at night to do household chores, visit friends – or make love to their spouse.
Sleeping through the night is by comparison a ‘modern invention’, according to Professor Roger Ekirch of Virginia Polytechnic and State University.
Speaking yesterday at the Royal Society of Medicine, he said: ‘Middle of the night insomnia was a rare problem before the late 1800s. As early as in the 16th century it was utterly normal, unworthy of comment.’
Bedtime was historically around 10pm, after which, he added: ‘Most individuals awakened shortly past midnight to an hour or so of consciousness, in which they meditated, they conversed and made love – not necessarily in that order.

I have a feeling that this is like that 80 days holiday for medieval peasants thing, a confusion between holiday and holy day there.

What makes me suspicious of the two sleep story is the cost of light. OK, so you don’t need the candle on for a shag but you do to do chores etc. And candles were expensive.

We also, at least so far as I know, don’t see such behaviour in people living at that same standard of living today, the $3 to $5 a day peeps out there.

But just because I don’t quite believe it doesn’t mean it’s not true. What would bolster my disbelief would be working out what is it that is being confused here, as with holy and holi days.

Fun fact

Twice as many euros are traded in London as in the 19 countries of the single currency combined.

That division and specialisation of labour thing.

Even more fun is their plan for what should happen next:

“Brexit involves risks for market integrity and stability, because the EU including the UK has been crucially dependent on the Bank of England and the UK Financial Conduct Authority for oversight of its wholesale markets,” states the report. “Without the UK, the the EU27 must swiftly upgrade its capacity to ensure market integrity and financial stability.”

Nicolas Véron, a co-author, said the EU faced a mix of risks and opportunity, but had barely started discussing post-Brexit financial regulations.

“What is important is for the EU27 to find its feet in the new financial system of the post Brexit landscape,” he said.

Rather than creating “27 clones of the FCA and Bank of England”, the EU should instead design “a more centralised consistent architecture”, with central authorities for banking regulation and conduct, Véron added.

The answer to someone storming off in a huff over excessive centralisation is more centralisation.

Ho hum.

Raise the propaganda levels Comrades!

This is actually someone who runs part of the Guardian occasionally:

As we get to grips with living in an era in which the White House is going to call the press “very, very dishonest” people who are suppressing information, we, as journalists, are going to have to wrestle with how to deal with this. Infowars, Breitbart, Britain First – the sort of websites and organisations that are spreading the far right’s anti-Muslim, conspiracy-theory-ridden ideology – are not going to be afraid to double-down on spreading their message. Fact-checking their spurious claims is one thing – but what does it achieve? To really challenge the spread of this nonsense we need to work out what we are going to do about more effectively spreading the truth.

But which truth comrade?

Blimey, George Monbiot is turning Conservative!

Looks like genetics will out:

There are hundreds of examples of how this might begin, such as community shops, development trusts, food assemblies (communities buying fresh food directly from local producers), community choirs and free universities (in which people exchange knowledge and skills in social spaces). Also time banking (where neighbours give their time to give practical help and support to others), transition towns (where residents try to create more sustainable economies), potluck lunch clubs (in which everyone brings a homemade dish to share), local currencies, Men’s Sheds (in which older men swap skills and escape from loneliness), turning streets into temporary playgrounds (like the Playing Out project), secular services (such as Sunday Assembly), lantern festivals, fun palaces and technology hubs.

Turning such initiatives into a wider social revival means creating what practitioners call “thick networks”: projects that proliferate, spawning further ventures and ideas that weren’t envisaged when they started. They then begin to develop a dense, participatory culture that becomes attractive and relevant to everyone rather than mostly to socially active people with time on their hands.

Aka Edmund Burke’s little platoons.

Tears in heaven over sinner that repenteth and all that.

So, we know this is bollocks then

The findings were published in the journal Tobacco Control.

All that remains is to find out why it’s bollocks.

Vaping acts as a gateway to smoking, scientists have warned, after finding teenagers who used e-cigarettes were four times more likely to start smoking tobacco within a year.

Researchers from the University of Michigan say vaping may desensitise youngsters to the dangers of smoking, even when they were initially aware of the harms.

The new study 347 teens were questioned about their views on drug use, vaping and smoking and followed up a year later to see if their opinions and habits had changed.

Hmm:

Conclusions These results contribute to the growing
body of evidence supporting vaping as a one-way bridge
to cigarette smoking among youth. Vaping as a risk
factor for future smoking is a strong, scientifically-based
rationale for restricting youth access to e-cigarettes

What the paper doesn’t even attempt to discuss let alone explain is that the rise in vaping has coincided (at the very weakest, caused could be more likely) with a large fall in the rate of teenage smoking. It’s thus really very unlikely that vaping leads to smoking.

Of course we’ll wait for Mr. Snowden to do the proper analysis of this bollocks.

That housing paper

Likewise its insistence that, “Up-to-date plans are essential because they provide clarity to communities and developers about where homes should be built and where not, so that development is planned rather than the result of speculative applications,” is little different to Nicolas Maduro insisting he knows what the correct price of rice in Caracas is.