Your statistics lesson of the day

Despite staggeringly long odds of 11 billion to one – a wife recently cracked open an egg to find four yolks inside.

The odds of this happening are 1 in 1.

Because it has happened.

The odds of any one egg having 4 yolks may indeed be 11 billion to one.

Yes, of course, trivial and pendantic, but this sort of misunderstanding (sort of, not exactly) is what led to Sally Clark serving time.

Sports birds on the rag

It doesn’t actually matter, does it?

With their promise of cramps, headaches and mood swings, most women dread their periods coming every month.
Even women with light bleeding can still find it uncomfortable, and for women with heavy bleeding and bad side effects, it can be much worse.
But what about women in sports whose career success depends on their physical capabilities?
For these women, periods are a much, much bigger deal.

As long as sports are girl on girl (and given the differences between male and female physique, that’s unlikely to change much) then it’s perhaps boring, predictable and maybe it does affect performance. But it’s going to, over time, affect each participant equally, isn’t it?

Well, this makes sense

When it comes to their love lives, the study found Germans are reassuringly conservative, with 60 per cent sticking to the missionary position, and only 4 per cent claiming to be in “open relationships”.
One stereotype that did prove true was Germany’s enduring romance with das Auto, with 69 per cent saying their loved their car.
Among women, the figure was even higher, at 71 per cent.

The car, presumably, being more interesting than the sex. After all, it goes more places.

Interesting this

The report, which went through European budgets on a line-by-line basis, established that the EU spent £560million directly on promotions and communications.
However, the figure is likely to be Conservative as many promotional activities are included in larger budgets and not detailed separately.
Business for Britain said that the EU committed to £3.1billion worth of spending which included “corporate communication of the political priorities of the Union” – more than the advertising budget for Coca Cola.

The standard left wing line about advertising is that it only exists to persuade us to buy things we don’t want or need.

Thus, logically, if people are spending money on advertising, then we don’t want or need that thing, do we?

Quite so

While we might believe that having sex for money is neither wise nor good, democratic and free societies now allow adults—married or unmarried—to make their own choices regarding why and with whom they have sex. It’s time to stop policing the private, consensual sex lives of adult women who support themselves in morally unconventional ways.

Not that such a call to proper liberalism is going to get all that much of a hearing from the New York Times readership.

Ritchie and those offshore trillions

Compared to $21 trillion estimated to be offshore these sums look low. There are four possible reasons.

First, voluntary schemes have not lured the big money in: that is holding out in the belief that automatic information exchange for tax havens will not work or that there will not be staff in home tax authorities to use it, which is certainly possible in the case of the UK.

Second, the countries with the highest proportionate wealth offshore – many of them developing countries – are not on this list.

Third, the money has moved: there are still, unfortunately, places to go.

Fourth, the wise have read the runes and the money has been quietly coming back.

Actually, there’s a fifth reason. As with those Swiss accounts and the Liechtenstein Disclosure stuff. Other than one or two politicians that Ritchie shills for the vast majority of this offshore money isn’t, from the UK tax system point of view at least, tax dodging. It belongs to non-doms (who MUST keep it offshore, entirely legally, to miss the UK tax system) or UK citizens who are not resident (who do not owe UK tax on it anyway).

That pot of gold for the tax system just ain’t there. As was so embarrassingly proved when people actually tried to go collect it as Ritchie and the TJN had insisted they must. There’s rarely been as useful a proof of the stupidity of their ideas as the Swiss bank deal.

“There’s billions in Switerland to tax!”

“We are the Swiss banks and we combed through every account and there ain’t”

“We never said that!”

Lying toads.

Not the Swiss banks of course….

And Ritchie weighs in


The graphs show three things. The first is that in interest terms Labour delivered new low levels of interest cost until US banks collapsed.

Second, they show that public sector net debt was also at a low rates under Labour until US banks collapsed.

And, third, that public sector net borrowing was especially low, and better under Labour than under the 1979 to 1997 era.

In other words, Labour could not have in any way caused a crash by overspending because, quite simply, it did not do so.

And what the fuck were they doing running a budget deficit at the peak of the longest modern times boom?

That, of course, added to aggregate demand at that peak of that boom. Meaning that when the bust came, as it was always going to (yes, free market capitalism is prone to boom and bust) we were even more fucked than if the boom had been tempered, as standard Keynesianism says it should be, with a bit of fiscal austerity during that boom.

That’s the overspending story: that they were spending the shit out of the economy when they shouldn’t have been.

Well, yes, I suppose so really

They are expected to be among more than 50 new peers, including around 40 Tories, who will be named this week along with a list announcing other honours.
The list is thought to include knighthoods for former Lib Dem ministers Vince Cable and Danny Alexander, who are reported to have turned down peerages.
The pair, who both lost their seats at the election, will be nominated for the gongs when the post-election honours list is published.
Both are thought to have turned down the chance of becoming members of the House of Lords.
The raft of gongs for former political figures will spark criticism that the honours system is being used by political leaders as a reward for failed politicians kicked out by the voters.

That’s what the dissolution honours list is for. So, using it to do this doesn’t sound all that awful really.

Nice try Larry but no cigar

It has been a catastrophic political blunder not to challenge the myth that Brown’s government caused the crisis and the austerity that followed. The choice, correctly framed by the economist Simon Wren-Lewis, is whether to pretend Osborne’s version of events is true and own up to perceived past mistakes or to contest it.

Pleading guilty seems the easier line to take, but it isn’t. The confession would be brandished by the government for the next five years as proof that Labour should never again be trusted with the public finances.

Instead, Labour needs to start its fightback by rehabilitating the record of the Blair-Brown years, making the point that the purpose of the pre-crisis borrowing was to modernise and improve the NHS and shabby schools. It also needs to challenge the idea that all borrowing at all times is bad. If that were the case, individuals would have to save up the entire asking price for a house rather than buying it on a mortgage and there would be no startup capital to launch businesses.

That’s not the argument about why Labour was profligate. Rather, look to the entirely standard Keynesian story. Yes, we should (using automatic stabilisers by preference, not spending sprees) increase aggregate demand in a downturn. But the flip side of that is that we should be running, yes, including that “investment ” shtick, a significant surplus at the peak of the boom. And we were at the peak of a boom: the longest one of modern times in fact, dating back pretty much to 1993.

No, not so as to pay down the national debt, no, not to save money for the future, not even to increase the firepower available for stimulus when the downturn inevitably comes.

Rather, to suck excessive demand out of the economy. There should have been, as with Ireland and Spain (not that it saved them, but things would have been even worse if they hadn’t been doing this), substantial budget surpluses in the period 2000 (or so) onwards. That’s the profligacy, that Labour didn’t even follow the standard Keynesian prescription.

Good point about Ted Heath and kiddie fiddling

There were, back then, persistent rumours he was gay. But that, as we have surely learnt by now, is very, very different from being a paedophile.

Yes, that’s obvious. But this:

The same is true of some of the other allegations aired this week, which cover the period after 1965 when he became Leader of the Opposition. From that moment on, every minute of every day would have been recorded and accounted for in his diary. He would have had a government driver and, from 1970 when he was elected as Prime Minister, would also have had Special Branch officers with him at all times, right up to his death in 2005.

Yes, we know the Met was bent for a good part of that time but that bent?

Not really, I think, eh?


Australia’s government says Vegemite sales should be limited in some communities to prevent the yeast-based spread being used to make home-made alcohol.

Well, yes, yeast based, but the yeast is dead isn’t it?

It’s boiled till it is dead and then salt is added. There’s no live yeast left there, is there?

And it’s not as if there’s ever a shortage of yeast about, is there? You’ve usually got some just on the bloom of any fruit you’ve got lying around….

As Peter has written in to point out

Middle-aged people will be encouraged to get more sleep as part of a government campaign to help them live more healthy lifestyles and reduce the risk of serious illness.
Public Health England is planning to encourage adults between the ages of 40 and 60 to spend more time in bed as part of a wide-ranging campaign to boost the nation’s health.

Well, yes:

“More than a third of the population sleeps for less than six hours a night which raises their risk of early death by 12 per cent according to Sleep Council.”

So if you reduce your sleep time by 25%, from 8 hours to 6 hours, you get to see 13% more of life & most of it when you’re young enough to enjoy it.

Sounds like a no-brainer, to me.

You what?

Camila Batmanghelidjh’s Kids Company is being investigated over claims that thousands of pounds of the charity’s money was spent on paying the boarding school costs of her chauffeur’s daughter.


Late last night Batmanghelidjh contacted The Mail on Sunday to say she could prove to the Charity Commission that no money had been paid by Kids Company to the school to cover academic fees because they had been covered by the school in the form of a bursary.
It is understood the bursary covered the cost of boarding fees, not ‘extras’ and other costs incurred by the girl at the school.
When asked why her charity’s accounts had shown thousands of pounds being paid to the school on behalf of the girl, who was listed as a client of the charity, Batmanghelidjh said: ‘I don’t have the accounts in front of me. I don’t know what those figures relate to.’
A source who until recently worked at the charity said last night: ‘I can confirm that Ms Cavolli was registered as a client at Kids Company, and that Kids Company funds were spent supporting her while she was at school.’ It is understood that the amount paid was a five-figure sum.

A charity nominally devoted to deprived children ran to pay for a chauffeur for the boss?


Well, yes, we do

Well, that may be true, but only so long as you subscribe to the mantra of unfettered global trade in food.

It’s been making Britons richer since the repeal of the corn laws. Thus we think it’s a good idea.

For me, it seems glaringly obvious that agriculture should not and must not be treated like any other industry.

Says the small scale organic farmer in Wales…..

Me, me, Me, MEEE!

For a start, let’s insist on the introduction of a fair trade milk label for family dairy farmers and include the requirement that the herd size be no larger than their capacity to walk to grass twice a day during the grazing season. This would reverse the trend towards ever-larger herds.

Let’s have a bloke with a red flag walking in front of these newfangled cars.

Of course, you can do whatever you want as a voluntary scheme but that’s perhaps not quite how you see it, is it?

Patrick Holden is the founding director of the Sustainable Food Trust


Stealing the waiters’ tips

The law may have changed here but I think that this is actually illegal:

A spokesperson for Pizza Express said that its admin charge was to cover the cost of running a “tronc” – a standard pay arrangement used to distribute tips among staff. “We went to great lengths to set up this tronc system which is chaired by a troncmaster and run by a committee of waiters and pizzaiolos, who independently decide how tips made by electronic card payment are subsequently distributed between front and back of house restaurant team; a system run by employees for the employees,” she said.

Tips (as it used to be at least) which are distributed purely by the employees have certain advantages: they don’t pay NI or VAT. But, the flip side of this is that the company, management, cannot have any of it: it belongs to the employees.

If management is taking a slice then that money, obviously, does not belong solely to the employees. Thus it should be paying NI and VAT.

Any sensible management, seeing that wedge appearing between gross income and net for the waiting staff will therefore happily swallow the couple of percent that the credit card companies charge for tips on cards.

I left a job over this once, back in the day.

Numbers, eh, numbers

This figure has been widely interpreted as the number of vulnerable children with whom the charity works, providing emotional support, therapy and practical help. However, figures in the same report suggest the actual number is far lower.
Under the heading Why Kids Company Is Needed, it states: “In 2013 we worked with 750 exceptionally vulnerable young people.”
It reinforces the impression that Ms Batmanghelidjh was able to attract a large amount of funding and publicity out of proportion to the actual work carried out by her organisation.
The figure of 36,000 ‘clients’ included 19,000 children at dozens of schools in London and four in Bristol, with whom Kids Company workers came into contact in some way, along with 7,000 parents or family members, some of whom directly benefit from therapy and other support.
But the youngsters in its figures included the classmates of those children taking part in its activities. Kids Company justified their inclusion on the basis that the children benefited from the knock-on effects of the activities.

Important things, numbers….