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…..


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.


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.

Senate Democrats to Vote For Andy Puzder as Labor Sec

Labor Secretary nominee Andrew Puzder acknowledged Tuesday that he had employed an undocumented worker as a housekeeper, putting him again at odds with President Donald Trump’s push to keep jobs in American hands.

Puzder said in a statement that he and his wife were unaware the housekeeper was not legally permitted to work in the U.S. during the years they employed her.

“When I learned of her status, we immediately ended her employment and offered her assistance in getting legal status,” Puzder said. “We have fully paid back taxes to the IRS and the State of California.

Well, obviously they will, right? Because the Senate Dems think that the undocumented should not be discriminated against, should be aided in becoming legal residents?

I have got that right, yes? No one would play just mere politics with something like this, would they?

I’m rather slow to many technical things

This Spotify is rather good, isn’t it?

Might well, next time I upgrade the computer and sound system, pay for the higher quality though some rather larger speakers.

So, I’m what, 5 years late to this party? That’s actually early for me in matters technical.

And they’ve got JJ Cale albums I’ve never even heard of!


Together, they herald a new international feminist movement with an expanded agenda: at once anti-racist, anti-imperialist, anti-heterosexist and anti-neoliberal.

Some 97% of women are heterosexual. Why would 97% of women be against heterosexism therefore?

Ritchie wants the magic money tree to pay Ritchie

This is not, of course, the first such sale, but each sickens me. Each turns education into debt slavery. Each reduces large numbers of young-ish people into just another commodity for the financial sector to trade. Each alienates them further from a society that should want to transfer the skills they need to them so that they can flourish.

And each shows how wrong the priorities of government are. Remember the government is still subject to a debt repurchase programme by the Bank of England right now. And at the same time it is selling student debt, wholly unnecessarily. Indeed it could simply sell it to the Bank of England and have it effectively cancelled instead of making this sale to the private sector right now. Nothing would liberate entrepreneurialism, the ability to buy a house, the chance to save for a pension and even boost growth more than doing so, I suspect. But instead the dogma of financialisation rules.

I despair.

The students of Ritchie presumably gain value from being taught by Ritchie. Why shouldn’t the students of Ritchie thus pay the costs of being taught by Ritchie?

But no, instead the magic money tree must levy an inflation tax upon all rather than the students of Ritchie paying what his education skills are worth.

Polly’s rather talking it up isn’t she?

For Ukip the stakes could not be higher. Lose here and the party is well and truly dead: its new leader, and its candidate here, Paul Nuttall buried on his first outing. Byelections are the great hope of insurgent parties, when voters can indulge in risk-free protest. No seat could be riper than this Brexit hotspot, where almost 70% voted leave: Stoke perfectly matches this week’s BBC research showing the closest correlation between high Brexit areas and low education qualifications.

Only the idiots vote for Brexit says that last line.

Not beating Labour in a seat which has been Labour since creation in 1950 (and one of the constituent parts was Labour back before 1910 as well) would be most disappointing but not a disaster.

But then, you know, Polly, shape expectations, all that.

Outrage over divorce settlement

How could a judge make me hand over £2.7million to my ex-wife 10 YEARS after we divorced? Glenn’s cautionary tale and a ruling that could have consequences for all divorced couples
Glenn Briers, 61, from Willenhall, West Midlands, has a £10m fashion empire
He has already given ex Nicola £600,000 home and a £10,000 a year salary
The father-of-three divorced in 2005 and said they were amicable until recently

The reason is actually in the piece:

Had Glenn tied up their 2005 divorce agreement legally, he suspects it is unlikely that Nicola would have had a case to bring.

She sat in front of the solicitor and it was drawn up, but we never signed it.

Silly Billy makes a Glum Glenn.