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Comments should be back to normal

Cost to me £128 a year to make it so. So, play nicely folks. There’s no advertising that pays for that (latest Google numbers were 50 pence for 10 days).

There were 56 spam comments killed off in 10 minutes this after noon. Dealing with that by hand is what has made comments stutter this past week.

Hello Mr. Bourlag

Ahundred years ago, the plant scientist Arthur Watkins launched a remarkable project. He began collecting samples of wheat from all over the globe, nagging consuls and business agents across the British empire and beyond to supply him with grain from local markets.

His persistence was exceptional and, a century later, it is about to reap dramatic results. A UK-Chinese collaboration has sequenced the DNA of all the 827 kinds of wheat, assembled by Watkins, that have been nurtured at the John Innes Centre near Norwich for most of the past century.

In doing so, scientists have created a genetic goldmine by pinpointing previously unknown genes that are now being used to create hardy varieties with improved yields that could help feed Earth’s swelling population.

Of course, population’s about to top out and we’re probably very close to peak wheat. But if it makes them happy…..

Twatto is Twatto

Now, the measurement of GDP, as it’s called, has many problems inherent in it.

Yes, true.

When are you going to talk about the growth in our well being, Rachel Reeves and not just the growth in the bank balances of some within the UK?

It also doesn’t measure bank balances nor the change in them. It’s the value added, at market prices, within the economy that year. A useful but not complete thing to measure. But when critiquing it it helps to know what it is.

Ah, but could she parallel park?

Baroness Ewy von Korff-Rosqvist obituary: rally racer who banished myth women can’t drive
The Swedish ‘Baroness of Mercedes’ was part of the first all-female crew to win an international rally against men and did so by more than three hours


Serving a network of farms in the surrounding area, she had to learn to drive. Jönsson passed the test, but only because her traumatised driving instructor wasn’t sure if he wanted to spend any more time in a car with her. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” he asked. “A rally driver?”

Possibly one of those stories that got polished over the years….

Ah, yes, dictators

Mr Bukele is hugely popular, with an approval rating of around 85 per cent, thanks to his draconian approach to the mara gangs, which has ended their reign of terror in El Salvador.

He has locked up nearly 80,000 young men, often without evidence that they are gang members, in harsh conditions, with dozens to a cell and paraded before the cameras in their underwear.

But it’s not necessarily true that all ideas crossing synapses are going to be good ideas:

Yet the economy has long been Mr Bukele’s Achilles heel. The poverty rate, now 30 per cent of the population, and the national debt, now $30 billion or roughly 80 per cent of GDP, have surged since he took office in 2019.

Basic foodstuffs such as bread, eggs, meat, beans and fruit jumped 30% in Mr Bukele’s first four years in office. But government inspectors say some prices have tripled in recent months.

Meanwhile, his flagship economic policy, adopting Bitcoin as the national currency, has baffled ordinary citizens, failed to generate jobs or growth, and antagonised the International Monetary Fund, whose support he badly needs.

So, you know, dictators.

is increasingly associated with the hard Right

Is that how they’re doing it these days? If socialism isn’t working it becomes hsrd right populism?

Interesting idea

That is because, in their opinion, growth supports the value of a currency. For once, they are likely to be right. If growth increases either the value of trade from a jurisdiction or productivity within it, then the value of its currency invariably increases.

The UK exports more than it used to, hte UK economy is larger than it used to be. The £ is worth less than it used to.

Proof is, therefore, somewhat lacking for this contention.


British Airways comes to rescue of England fans with more flights and bigger planes for final
Supporters had been facing travel misery for Euro 2024 showdown with Spain in Berlin due to lack of direct flights

Business spots profitable short term niche, no?

I have a theory

Pod of 77 whales found in worst mass stranding in century

We are, generally, seeing more strandings, more whale corpses and so on.

My theory is that this is simply a reflection of that we no longer hunt them. Populations are recovering. The sheer mass of whales out in the ocean in the “natural” state is something we’ve not seen for many a century. We may be getting back to it, at least partially. Which is what explains these increases in sightings of the dead via varied forms and methods.

One of those definitely something to it but how much? ideas.

The part and the whole

Our accountant turned economics professor has an idea:

That means that the interest charge on this will be around £3,000 plus a year, and the average student is repaying in England and Wales, a little over £1,000 a year in student loan. The total repayments in the last year for which I can get data from HM Revenue and Customs, who actually collect student loan repayments, is about £4 billion in a year.

The total interest charge on the £200bn outstanding in student loans was at around that 6 – 7 per cent figure. – well, you can work it out for yourself, £12 – £14bn. In other words, the interest being charged is never being repaid by the students who are borrowing this money, supposedly.

So, what is the point of charging this interest to students when we know that over 30 percent of all student loans will never be repaid? because people will reach the age where the cut off on repayment arrives well before their loan balance is settled out of their wages, and that’s true even under the new schemes just being introduced.

So, let’s not charge interest on student loans!

Erm, some number – from the above, 70% of them – of student loans are repaid, including the interest. This aids in subsidising the cost to everyone else of the 30% which are not. As, you know, that’s how interest rates work – there’s the time value of money plus the risk of default. So, if we stop charging interest at all then those richer, higher earning folk – those who do repay their loans with interest – stop subsidising those lower paid – who do not repay – and the taxpayer has to pick up the balance.

Well, interesting in a way I guess. First time we’ve seen Spud arguing for the higher paid to stop subsidising the lower paid. But other than that there’s not a lot to recommend it.

If only he knew

First, interest rates are not coming down soon, if Pill gets his way. Apparently, inflation at 2% or thereabouts is not enough to justify bringing interest rates down from 5.25%.

Someone who wishes to comment upon matters economic really, really, ought to know about matters economic.

Smurf is the one who has kept saying that it’s food and energy – things not amenable to interest rate changes – which have been driving inflation. Therefore interest rate changes won’t change inflation.

No, leave aside the truth or not of that. Let’s just accept his reasoning. OK:

Core CPIH (excluding energy, food, alcohol and tobacco) rose by 4.2% in the 12 months to May 2024, down from 4.4% in April; the CPIH goods annual rate fell from negative 0.8% to negative 1.3%, while the CPIH services annual rate eased slightly from 6.0% to 5.9%.

Core inflation is inflation stripped of those non-interest rate concerning items. And is, thus, the inflation that is amenable to interest rate changes. Core is well above the inflation target. Therefore the puishment beatings won’t stop.

Note that we can reach this by Spud’s own reasoning. But Spud can;t reach it by Spud’s own reasoning. Ho Hum.

This is before we get to the real crux of the matter. Spud is arguing that the real interest rate should be negative. Why?


‘Everyone was paddling to get away’: seals with rabies alarm South Africa’s surfers
Seals have been biting people in the first big outbreak of the disease in marine mammals, writes Nick Dall in Cape Town

Yes, obviously, rabies is a problem for a mammal, death will ensue, no? By hydorphobia in a marine mammal is gonna be tough.

Once doesn’t matter, obviously

A group of well-dressed partygoers dubbed the “Prosecco Nazis” have sparked a police crackdown after they sang a song telling foreigners to go home while one performed a Hitler salute.

A video shows the revellers in the Pony nightclub on the German island of Sylt, a high-end holiday destination, singing to the tune L’amour Toujours by Gigi D’Agostino.

“Foreigners out, Germany for the Germans,” they sing while one performs a Nazi salute and moustache gesture in apparent reference to Adolf Hitler.

Drunks – even posh drunks – in a nightclub are only ever a very local problem.


Police say that between October 2023 and June 2024 they have been called over 360 times to reports of the chant, according to the German news agency RND. Arrests have been made.

Ah, it’s striking something of a chord, is it? And always remember, it’s not the acction itself, it’s the chord, that matters. One singing of a nazi-style song isn’t a problem. Mass incidents of it being sung are.

Just a thing about freelancing

It’s very, very, like a gang. There’s the capo who has his little league of gentlemen. How the gentlemen do depends upon where the capo’s placed.

Lewis at The Register used to like my stuff so he employed me. Lewis got fired and so did I – no complaints, that’s just how the gangs work. Lewis got hired at the Telegraph, I start getting work from the T. Until a capo de capi decided he didn’t like my stuff and that then stopped. Oh well.

Two people at places I’ve done work for have just swapped jobs. One doesn’t like my stuff much and has gone from a place with a budget for freelance work to one without. The other likes my stuff more and has gone from a place without that budget to the one with.

Not that this is making hay time, it’s covers the household bills – water, ‘leccie etc – sums but still, that’s nice, no? One of my capos has just got a better place so I as one of the gentlemen……

And, really, that is how freelancing works.

What an idea!

The chancellor insisted there would be a clear distinction between the NWF and GB Energy, another publicly owned company proposed by Labour. While GB Energy will focus on the “production of clean, low carbon energy”, investment made via the NWF will seek to deploy £1.8bn to ports, £1.5bn for gigafactories including for electric vehicles, £2.5bn to clean steel, £1bn for carbon capture and £500m to green hydrogen.

Reeves said the new government was in a prime position to attract investment, amid ongoing political uncertainty in other major western economies. That includes the US, where Donald Trump is due to challenge an under-fire Joe Biden in the November presidential elections, and France, where elections resulted in a hung parliament.

“I think for the first time in a long time investors will look at Britain and say it’s a country with a stable government. It’s got a clear plan, but clear mandate in the election. And that’s different from some other countries around the world today,” Reeves told journalists.

So, it’s gonna make a profit, right? Green steel, ports, gigfactories, they’re all gonna make a profit, right?

Oooooh! What Fun!

Labour has appointed one of the country’s foremost climate experts to lead a “mission control centre” on clean energy.

Chris Stark, the former head of the UK’s climate watchdog, will head a Covid vaccine-style taskforce aimed at delivering clean and cheaper power by 2030.

As is becoming true – language always does change, obvs – “expert” now means “propagandist”.

Lawfare, nope, never happens

French investigators have opened an inquiry into the campaign finances of the far-right leader Marine Le Pen during her failed 2022 presidential election bid against Emmanuel Macron, as politicians on the left continue to discuss how a new government could be formed in France.

The Paris prosecutors’ office announced on Tuesday that an investigation had been opened last week to examine allegations over Le Pen’s campaigning funding, which include embezzlement, forgery, fraud, and a further allegation that a candidate on an electoral campaign accepted a loan. No further details were given.

We’ve also the news that Mrs. Sarkozy is being investigated on campaign finance fraud re hubby’s Presidential bid.

Hmm. Could be that all French politicians to the right of Stalin are crooks. Could be that all French politicians are crooks. Even, but whisper this gently, could be that the French state has decided to use the law against these pesky rightwinghers.

It’s even possible that all three are true…..

So, whadda we do about it?

Research from BookTrust found that only half of children aged 1-2 from low-income families are read to daily. Furthermore, children from low-income families who do well at the end of primary school are twice as likely to have been read to early in their lives.

“Reading isn’t a silver bullet to solve world poverty, I know that. But it is a major way to improve equality and bring fairness. To dramatically improve the quality of family life and open up possibilities, opportunities. We know children who read have tools for life at their disposal,” Cottrell-Boyce said.

“It is not right and not fair that children who could benefit the most are deprived of a life that is rich in reading.”

I think there’s a truth there but that’s not the point. So, what do we do about it?

Second hand kiddies books are what, 50p each? So each household with a kid in it gets £10 to create a library. We’re done. Or, at least, we’re as done as government policy can make it.

That is, even if there is a real point here there’s not a grand amount that the state can do about it…..

At no cost, eh?

Now, we know that banking hubs work. We know that banks can cooperate to create these hubs. We know that one person in a banking branch can help people over multiple banks with such things, because let’s be honest, the person who needs assistance from Barclays is very similar to the person who needs assistance from NatWest, and the systems from Barclays are very similar to the systems from NatWest, or Lloyds, or HSBC, or Santander, or whoever it might be.

But, we need to have that presence because banking cannot be remote from society and we can demand it. Why? Because all these banks operate under the terms of a license from the Bank of England. And the condition of that license should be that all the banks should cooperate to make sure that these banking hubs are available in every community of any size in this country.

It would transform the way that people can access bank accounts. It would make it possible for people who currently have difficulties with banking to go to talk to someone.

And there’s something else that could happen at the same time in this banking hub. It could also be the Post Office, because there are far too few of them in this country now. And people need access to Post Offices as well.

So put together the two, and have a banking and post office hub. And in every town, and even large village in this country, you would have a centre where people could go to get financial advice and undertake the transactions that they need to make their lives possible.

Labour could do that. It would cost them literally nothing.

There are, apparently, 44,500 or so cities, towns and villages in Britain. We’re therefore going to have to have 44,500 staffed (and that will require at least two staff per oulet, holidays, days off, extended hours and so on) offices. Which will cost nothing.