This is fun

Victims of revenge porn and other image abuse online are set to get the same legal rights to anonymity as those who are raped under plans being drawn up by the Government.

Because if anonymity is needed – they’re identifiable – then it’s not going to work, while if they’re not identifiable from the images then why is it necessary?

It’s also more than a bit dodgy as a piece of legal reasoning. Rape anonymity is because of the vicious crime committed against them and the interaction of that with ideas about purity etc. The whole point is that the act itself, the sex, was involuntary. But revenge porn and so on, the act was entirely voluntary – otherwise it would be rape of course- it’s the sharing that is the supposed crime.

Which might not amount to quite the same justification, eh?

Some people are idiots

Economics has helped to destroy the environment. Can it be used to save it?

Sigh. Economics is a way of understanding the world. So how can that destroy the environment?

Not understanding it, perhaps – but then they go on to discuss how understanding more will be better. So, more economics will save it.


Anyone in Pittsburgh?

I seem to recall that at least one reader here is from Pittsburgh? Possibly, maybe, might still be in Pittsburgh?

Another reader and contact of this blog has recently landed a job at U of P in P and given the common interest of reading here perhaps could be taken out for a beer and a “don’t eat the hoagies here, this is the right place” sorta thing?

Or, maybe there isn’t a resident, just an escapee from, reading here. Let me know please.

Don’t you know who I am?

Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts is calling on Congress to pass new legislation to rein in Big Tech companies after Elon Musk ignored an information request. “Elon Musk could respond to my tweets but failed to respond to my letter by yesterday’s deadline and answer basic questions about Twitter verification,” Markey tweeted Saturday. “Congress must end the era of failed Big Tech self-regulation and pass laws that put user safety over the whims of billionaires.”

They oughta pass a law!

One random legislator in one of the 192 legislatures that Twitter is subject to gets all pissy about not gaining personal attention.


Seriously Reuters, seriously…..

U.S. Black Friday online sales hit record $9 bln despite high inflation- Adobe Analytics

Inflation over the past 12 months, since the last Black Friday, has been what? 8%? 10%? So if sales are absolutely flat, no real increase at all, they will be up by how much nominally?

Online spending rose 2.3% on Black Friday

Real sales are down 6 to 8%.


The weird effects of long covid

Spud picks up on a conversation about rentierism. Thinks it’s fascinating, a real issue that just has to be dealt with properly. I agree of course:

In a week where a fogged brain has prevented very little real thinking, this has been one of the few issues that has really engaged me. Rentierism has disguised itself as if it is normal business activity. It is not even close to it, but because it has been able to sow confusion as to its nature and purpose it has become the de facto norm for those seeking to maximise their profits in our economy, leaving the rest of us dispossessed. That is true both politically and economically since the acceptance of rentierism is now normal amongst mainstream political parties. That is why we need to name it, but the aim is not to shame it: the aim should be to eradicate the abuse it creates.

One of the reasons I agree is that the people having that discussion about rentierism are a fellow Senior Fellow at the ASI, the former executive director of the ASI and so on over at Works in Progress.

Meaning that Spud is going to change his mind as soon as that covid fog clears, right?

This is enjoyably strict

Two universities have threatened striking academics that they will be docked all of their pay “indefinitely” in a move that has been described by a union as “brutalising staff into submission”. The University and College Union (UCU) claims record numbers of its members, at 150 higher education institutions across the UK, went on strike on Thursday and Friday. More action is planned for Wednesday.

Academics expect to have their pay docked for the three days they are striking. However, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL), a member of the prestigious Russell Group, and Wolverhampton University have caused outrage by threatening to continue docking 100% of academics’ pay unless they reschedule all the classes they have missed.

Very enjoyably strict. Note that the union calls it “immoral” so we have to assume that it is in fact legal.

QMUL has already shown it is prepared to crack down harder than other institutions on those who take industrial action over pay, contracts and pensions. In July the university deducted 21 days of full pay from more than 100 staff members, because they refused to mark students’ work in June. Many staff opened payslips with nothing in them.

Thwack, thwack, eh?

Err, right

Plans to build the biggest lithium hydroxide refinery in Europe in Teesside have been given the go-ahead, paving the way for the creation of 1,000 jobs and a local supply of a key battery material.

Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council approved the plan for the plant, which is expected to produce the metal in refined form from 2025.

Since when is a hydroxide a metal?


No, they’ve not really quite grasped this.

The plant will receive material that is already quite high in lithium content after an initial refining process is carried out near to the mines in Australia which will supply it.

The refinery will then use green electricity from vast North Sea offshore wind farms to separate the material into lithium hydroxide and sulphuric acid as a byproduct, which can be sold to chemical firms locally.

Separate? Err, no.

Currently, it is estimated that more than 90pc of rare earth minerals are processed in China, even though the unrefined materials can be found in countries including Australia, the US, Chile and Argentina. Refined lithium is then used to make batteries for electric cars and a plethora of gadgets.

Lithium a rare earth? Err, no.

The other issue is that by definition such a plant processes spodumene concentrate. Which, given the rise of brines, geothermal and clay deposits might end up being the marginal production, the most expensive and the first to close as those other supplies rise. It’s a big bet that is, not a certain investment.

Has a certain ring to it

Antonio García Martínez, a former Facebook product manager turned tech commentator, sums up the movement as “a revolt by entrepreneurial capital against the professional-managerial class regime that otherwise everywhere dominates (including and especially large tech companies)”. He adds: “That same PMC (which includes the media) is treating it as an act of lèse-majesté”.

At the heart of this new philosophy is the complaint that professionals are constraining risk taking founders by forcing them to conform to a bureaucratic worldview founded on values that opponents consider “woke”.

Or, as Martinez puts it, Musk is targeting “the entire HR regime, the ESG grifters, the Skittles-hair people with mouse-clicking jobs who think themselves bold social crusaders rather than a parasitic weight around any organization’s neck”.

Yes. Lions. With Lasers.


Then there was the allegation last week by the Insider journalist Julia Black that Musk, along with other billionaires, appear to be engaged in their own personal eugenics programme via a movement called “pronatalism”. Black writes that pronatalism – an ideology centred on having children to reverse falling birthrates in European countries, and prevent a predicted population collapse – is “taking hold in wealthy tech and venture-capitalist circles”, with the aid of hi-tech genetic screening.

Bit of a misunderstanding of human nature there, isn’t there?

Men gain access to mating opportunities by gaining social position.


Possibly, possibly

Savers are putting away twice as much cash as they did last year as they make the most of rising rates.

The Building Societies Association (BSA) said that savings balances at building societies increased £8.4 billion in the three months to October — double the £4.2 billion that was saved in that period last year. It was also 80 per cent more than the £4.7 billion stashed away in the three months to July.

“It looks as if those who are able to are building their savings buffers, while rising interest rates and turbulence in other investment asset classes make cash savings attractive,” said Robin Fieth, the chief executive of the BSA.

Also, possibly not. Income and substitution effects. Weirdly, we do often see people increasing their cash savings as inflation rises. Because that future money is worth less, so more must be saved to smooth lifetime incomes.

Weird, but there we are.

In which I try to get down and wiv’ da youf

The aged attempting to be achingly hip never does come across well but still
The aim of our having an economy, a civilisation at all – hell, that coming down out of the trees bit – is simply that more people can have a great time more of the time. That’s it. There is no other.

The definition of great time is to be made by those having it. That’s also it.

Wrong field

A Tasmanian flower farmer who planted a new line of “really beautiful poppies” has issued a warning to other gardeners after learning she had mistakenly grown opium poppies.

Thing is, this isn’t, in fact, illegal in Tasmania.

Tasmania is the largest alkaloid poppy producer in the world, and supplies almost half of all global demand.

Growing them in the wrong field, without the correct licence, that’s illegal, yes.

So here’s the real reason

An island dependent on the hundreds of millions of pounds in tourist revenue brought in by Britons every year (about a third of its holidaymakers come from the UK) is pursuing institutions such as Lloyds of London, Oxford University and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

Barbados’s prime minister Mia Mottley is leading the charge.

She is hailed in diplomatic circles as the new “voice of the global south”, the cheerleader for the developing world, despite being prime minister of a country with a population of just 300,000.

In Ms Mottley’s republican Barbados, once dubbed “Little England” for its rolling hills, churches, manor houses and red postboxes, new friends are being sought in Africa, the Gulf and in China to fund her vision of a country that will rely less on “sun, sea and sand” tourism.

Well, it’s a vision, certainly. One can agree with it or not, to taste, but it is a vision. So, what’s driving it?

Ms Mottley is the favourite to become the next general secretary of the United Nations

Ah, personal ambition.

The Mayor of Bradford wishes to become Prime Minister sort of thing. Oh well, might well do Ms. Mottley’s career all sorts of good but Barbados perhaps not all that much.

As I’ve been saying for some decades

Good to see the Treasury has taken the point onboard:

Recommendations published alongside the Treasury’s annual pay report highlighted home working as one of the key policies that it believes will drive down a 17pc gap between what men and women are paid at Britain’s finance ministry.

For we do not have a gender pay gap. We have a primary childcarer pay gap. If folk can work from home and so be primary childcarer and also, well, work, then that gap will diminish.

Whether we want to solve this gap is another question – I’m fine with the idea that people who make different choices in life gain different rewards – but at least we’re getting the cause of the gap correctly identified these days.


Ladies-in-waiting had to familiarise themselves with curtsying, and Campbell-Preston would be expected to curtsy on seeing the Queen Mother in the morning, at lunch and on saying goodbye or goodnight. There were, however, exceptions. Early in her waiting life, while awaiting the arrival of German royalty, she asked the Queen Mother if she should curtsy to them. She retorted: “Curtsy? Of course not. They’re Germans.”

Do fuck off, Laddie

New research from SilverRail shows that beyond the environmental benefits of trains over planes, the true time of travel for rail is on par with air for the four most popular domestic British flights: London Heathrow and Gatwick to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Phasing out these four routes would save the equivalent of 488,076 tonnes of CO2 every year.

Let’s not forget that fast electric trains between London and Leeds helped to end those short-haul flights. The intercity journey is 130 minutes quicker in total and saves an estimated 10,380 tonnes of CO2 every year. The opening of the Elizabeth Line and better rail connections can also transport passengers to airports who would just be connecting to international flights.

OK, that electrification to Leeds. No idea what it cost but clearly it was something. So, the benefit is? According to the Stern Review it’s $80 per tonne CO2-e. $830,560 a year benefit then. Around and about £500k.

So, is half a million a year worth that investment of whatever it was in the electrification to Leeds?

Quite. Fuck off, Laddie.