We’ve got that fucking for virginity thing again

Britain still needs all-women shortlists to correct sexist stereotyping

In order to conquer sexism we must be sexist.

But fair play to the picture editors at The Guardian. No, really, this is monstrously magnificent. For the illustration is of Harriet Harman. Who made sure that her husband, Jack Dromey, could be parachuted into a safe seat in spite of the fact that it was supposed to have an all women short list.

Hats off to whoever that was: gonads of steel there.

Wrong way round here

Why do we permit this? The transfer of wealth between generations is an injustice: it is a reward for no work, and a form of access to privileges that are otherwise beyond reach. Professor Thomas Piketty, in his new book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, makes the argument that, after a social-democratic blip in the middle of the last century, inheritance is once again becoming the key route to wealth. Piketty argues that if wealth is concentrated and the return on capital is higher than the economy’s growth rate, inherited wealth will grow more rapidly than that stemming from work. This returns us to the terrain of Balzac and Austen, where the road to financial security is to target those who already possess wealth and, where possible, marry them. The data Piketty analyses – a huge and comprehensive set – suggests that the proportion of people receiving a sum in inheritance larger than the lifetime earnings of the bottom 50% is set to return to 19th-century levels in the next couple of decades. Pleasant news for our neo-Victorian government; less pleasant for the rest of us, and a disaster for anyone who cares about inequality.

It is difficult to justify inherited wealth from anything other than a class-partisan position. It is the point where the already threadbare veil of “meritocracy” falls off to reveal a fiscal system designed to reward already concentrated pots of wealth. Far from a Keynesian “euthanasia of the rentier”, we are seeing the triumph of a rentier economy: in such conditions, rather than further accumulation by the sons and daughters of the wealthy, we should instead demand an end to inherited wealth entirely.

Yes, inherited wealth brings freedom to a life. Which is why we should be working towards everyone being able to inherit it, not none. For the desirable outcome is where all have that freedom to do as they wish, not none.

So bleedin’ what?

And yet, despite its status as king of all fruit, we discard an estimated 1.4 million bananas every single day. And that’s berserk because bananas aren’t just delicious, they’re endlessly useful.

Seriously, who cares?

Which is, as I say above, a lot of bananas. But it’s not actually that many bananas. World production of them is some 145 million tonnes a year. There’s a thousand kilos in a tonne, say a banana is 100 grammes (sounds about right, four bananas to the pound, ten to the kilo) or 1.45 trillion bananas a year eaten around the world. Divide again by 365 and 24 to get the hourly consumption rate and we get 165 million bananas consumed per hour.

From Mr. Serwotka

PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “The rhetoric from the government on the need to tackle tax avoidance, which deprives our economy of tens of billions of pounds every year, is completely undermined by its actions.

Err, no.

It might deprive the Treasury of tens of billions, the public purse, public services even, but it doesn’t deprive the economy.

Which way will Polly jump here?

Thousands of terminally-ill cancer patients could be denied life-extending drugs under new plans from the NHS rationing body, charities say.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) will today announce proposals to change the way it decides which medicines the health service should fund.

The body was asked to change its funding formulas to ensure the NHS gets best value from the drugs it funds.

But last night charities said the new proposals amounted to a “devastating” attack on cancer sufferers – which could mean more than 12,000 terminally-ill patients a year are denied drugs they currently receive.

Under its existing formula, Nice uses “end of life” criteria to approve some drugs if they are the only hope of extending life, and might otherwise have been ruled out on cost grounds.

Back a while, when Labour was running the NHS, Polly argued that of course there was rationing and that obviously, we shouldn’t spend vast sums prolonging life for a few weeks or months. Wonder if she’ll hold to that or will this become another evil Tories killing off the poor old folk thing?

I thought we already knew this about autism?

A small study that examined brains from children who died found abnormal patterns of cell growth in autistic children. The research bolsters evidence that something before birth might cause autism, at least in some cases.

Clusters of disorganised brain cells were discovered in tissue samples from brain regions important for regulating social functioning, emotions and communication – which can all be troublesome for children with autism.

The abnormalities were found in 10 of 11 children with autism, but in only one of 11 children without the disease. The children’s brains were donated to science after death; causes of death included drowning, accidents, asthma and heart problems.

The authors said the clusters, detected with sophisticated lab tests, are likely defects that occurred during the second or third trimesters of pregnancy.

“Because this points to the biological onset in prenatal life, it calls sharply into question other popular notions about autism,” including the scientifically debunked theory that childhood vaccines might be involved, said lead author Eric Courchesne, an autism researcher at the University of California, San Diego.

This simply confirms Simon Baron Cohen’s theories, doesn’t it? A hormonal influence during brain development in utero?

Bit strange

Printer Philip Lewis was looking forward to a relaxing drink after work when he stopped at an Esso garage.

He was in for a disappointment however. The assistant would not serve Mr Lewis, 58, who has a moustache and receding grey hair because he could not prove his age.

Mr Lewis did not have any photographic identification on him – and was forced to leave empty-handed.

Phil used to drink halves of bitter in the OGT.

Ah well, tempus mutandis and all that.

Umm, guys, you know prohibition doesn’t work, right?

Medical experts have called for a permanent ban on selling cigarettes to anyone born in this century in a bid to eradicate smoking from Britain entirely.

The radical plan would see the age limit for buying tobacco – currently set at 18 – rise every year until the last cigarette smokers died out, at which point smoking would be illegal for everyone.

Doctors have asked the powerful British Medical Association to lobby the Government for a ban on tobacco sales to people born after the year 2000.

Sigh, apparently not.

There’s prejudice and then there’s prejudice

Porn model fired as the face of German far-right party because she has sex with a black man in her new movie

Ina Groll, or ‘Kitty Blair’, was face of National Democratic Party of Germany
She encouraged men to join far-right party by dressing in revealing outfits
But she has been fired after senior NDP officials watched her new porn film
In the movie, titled ‘Kitty Discovers Sperm,’ she has sex with a black man

Well, yes, obviously

But in a letter Tory MP Andrew Bridgen – who had raised concerns about the appointment – Mr Katz said Mr Weldon’s ‘specialist expertise’ in economics was more important than his training as a reporter.

He said: ‘Duncan was one of several candidates we considered who came from an economics rather than a conventional journalistic background…we believed a deep knowledge of economics was more important than journalistic experience for this role.’

Given that most journalists, including most of those writing on business, economics and or politics, wouldn’t know a good economic argument from a plate of steamed rhubarb yes, it is indeed a good idea to hire someone who knows their economics and teach them the journalism rather than the other way around.

Especially since journalism itself is a craft, something that you learn by doing.

Putting this in a slightly different manner. Who do you want as an economics editor, someone with an MA in Journalism and a copy of Samuelson? Or someone who understands economics and would need a bit of direction on the house style on semi-colons?

At which point we might note that the chief economics leader writer of The Guardian is an historian. Which explains the other side of this same problem really.

A mild amusement about Melissa Kite pictures

This is, I agree, entirely trivial. However.

Melissa Kite’s photo at the Telegraph.


OK, so that’s a little older than these next two.

Melissa Kite at The Mail.


And Melissa Kite at The Guardian.


Those last two are current: although obviously they need not have been taken at the same time.

Now if you were making sure that you carefully differentiated your brand for different newspaper markets is that the way that you would do it? Bit of the free spirit hippie chick for The G and a more restrained and tamed hairstyle for the Mail?

Yes, I think it would be. And doesn’t that tell us something interesting about the perception of the audience at those different places?

OK, very mildly interesting perhaps….

Russia is finding out something interesting

The scale of capital outflows leaves the Russian government in a quandary. The central bank has already raised interest rates by 150 basis points to prevent a collapse of the rouble, but this is choking the economy.

“If rates stay this high for another two or three months, there will be serious trouble,” said Mr Pawlowski. “There is no free-lunch. You can defend your currency, but if you do that you wreck your economy,” said Mr Pawlowski.

While Russia’s reserves of $494bn are enough to defend the rouble, the central bank cannot easily deploy this money in a recession since foreign exchange intervention entails monetary tightening. The money supply collapsed in 2009 when it ran down reserves by almost $200bn to slow the slide of the currency.

Yet it is risky for the authorities to let the rouble keep falling since Russian banks and companies owe $650bn in foreign currencies, of which an estimated $155bn must be refinanced over the twelve months.

The rouble has already fallen 11pc this year. It is becoming ever harder for struggling Russian companies to repay dollar debts.

That interesting thing being that if you’re going to have an open market economy then you’ve actually got to have an open market economy.

Sure, you can have an autarkic and not very market economy which allows you to get up to pretty much whatever you want to. Much as Tony Benn (and to some extent today, Ritchie) argued for. But if you want to get that foreign capital, that trade, that makes everyone so much richer then you’ve got to keep playing by those open and free market rules. There really is a choice here but it’s an either or choice.

What you don’t get to do is take advantage of the foreign capital and the trade and then start playing silly buggers with any part of the overall system.

Worth noting that much of the left’s hatred of things like the Washington Consensus is exactly because it is making very much the same point. Yup, you do indeed give up many of the opportunities for social engineering by opening up the economy. It’s worth it because of the wealth that is then generated: the left, perhaps implicitly, insisting that the social engineering is far more important than any mere wealth creation.

They’re getting a bit desperate, aren’t they?

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has come under fire for using taxpayers’ money to pay for a swanky penthouse suite in Brussels.

The Euro MP, who has previously criticised the European Union for its wastefulness, is renting the luxury property in one of the most exclusive addresses in the Belgian capital.

It is thought to be worth a staggering £500,000 – featuring two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a garage and a private cellar.

He’s shared it with Godfrey Bloom for however long it is. And seriously, screaming half a million quid is going to make Londoners laugh, isn’t it?