January 2012

Converting Teh Gays

This is all most amusing:

The joint letter states: \”Psychological care for those who are distressed by unwanted homosexual attractions has been shown to yield a range of beneficial client outcomes, especially in motivated clients … Such therapy does not produce harm despite the Royal College of Psychiatrists and others maintaining the contrary.\”

It concludes: \”Competent practitioners, including those working with biblical Judeo-Christian values, should be free to assist those seeking help.\”

Yes, it\’s woo doctors trying to convert those who are of Teh Gays into solid heterosexual citizens, \”solid citizens\” as defined by evangelical Christianity.

There\’s two sources of amusement. One, the undercover journo who started the whole thing by applying for such treatment:

In May 2009, Mr Strudwick attended a therapy session at Mrs Pilkington\’s private practice, based at her home in Chorleywood, Herts, and recorded the session on a tape machine strapped to his stomach.

On the tape, Mr Strudwick asks Mrs Pilkington if she views homosexuality as \”a mental illness, an addiction or an anti religious phenomenon\”. She replies: \”It is all of that.\”

Last year, Mr Strudwick said: \”Entering into therapy with somebody who thinks I am sick … is the singularly most chilling experience of my life.

Do stop being a twat laddie. Of course your therapist, your doctor, thinks you are sick. That\’s why you\’re there, in front of that therapist, doctor. If you weren\’t sick then both of you could be \’round the corner having a pint.

The other source of amusement is rather more subtle. We have these woo doctors who insist that being Teh Gay is something that is curable. We also have everyone else who insists that a) it\’s not something that needs to be cured and b) it\’s innate and thus not curable.

The amusing thing is that both are correct.

We can argue about quite how human sexuality is distributed (might be a normal distribution, might be like Matthew Parris thinks, more like the neck of a champagne bottle, his simile) but there\’s no doubt that there are those who are firmly same sex only, those who are firmly opposite sex only and a goodly number of those who are variable dependent upon chance, opportunity and situation. The difference in same sex behaviour among those in single sex and mixed sex environments is really all we need to know that.

Which means that there are those whose sexual behaviour, desires, are malleable and those whose such are not. There are men (alter as needed to describe women) who are only into getting it on with other men, who are never into such, who will if offered but not exclusively and those who will if no alternative presents itself. The first group aren\’t going to be changed by being hectored by some fundamentalist wingnut:

Homosexual men are sent on weekends away with heterosexual men to \”encourage their masculinity\” and \”in time to develop healthy relationships with women\”, said Mrs Pilkington.

Those who would regard that as an interesting dating opportunity.

There are also those in the latter two groups who might well change their behaviour (if not their inner desires) as a result of such \”therapy\”. To offer an analogy, there are those to whom celibacy is the natural state. There are those for which it most definitely is not but they accept it for some other reason: might be religious, might be temporary having committed to one and only one other from whom they are temporarily separated etc.

This middle group of any port in a storm could well be convinced that certain ports are not to be entertained for social, religious or other reasons. Not saying they should be, only that they could.

Which is, as I say, a source of some amusement. Both those who say that all same sex attraction is immutable and those who say that all is mutable are wrong. It really does depend upon where on that distribution of sexuality the individual is. Thus the \”therapy\” \”works\” for some and not for others.

Bit like most therapy in fact…..

Seems rather strange

Medical regulators are drawing up new advice for more than 30,000 Britons who have received “metal-on-metal” devices because of fears that they are even more dangerous than previously thought, a Sunday Telegraph investigation has found.

Problems occur with such devices when friction between the metal ball and cup causes minuscule metal filings to break off, which can seep into the blood and cause inflammation, destroying muscle and bone.

There are also concerns that the fragments could put the nervous system, heart and lungs at risk of being slowly poisoned.
tests to establish the levels of cobalt and chromium in their blood,

Err, why are levels of cobalt and chromium to be tested? The usual metal for such implants is titanium.

Co and Cr would be strange metals to use in the first place: given that they can indeed be toxic inside the blood system. I\’ve had a look around and I cannot find anything about what metals these implants are in fact made from: Ti, Ta or Nb sound to me like the most likely ones for they are, as far as the human body is concerned, inert.

The presence of Co and or Cr indicates that they were, or at least are being assumed to be, made from a high grade stainless steel (Co perhaps substituting for Ni). Which sounds like a slightly odd thing to make implants from.

Anyone got more info?

Update, note first comment. CoCrMo alloys are used for implants. Seems a bloody strange alloy to use but then what the hell do I know?

There\’s no escaping Worstall\’s Law

Last year, a former executive director, Charles Secrett, accurately accused it and other green groups of being “out of touch, ineffective and bureaucratic”, adding: “Interminable meetings, not action, are the order of most days.”

Happens even to Friends of the Earth.

Worstall\’s Law: In the end, any and every organisation will be run by those who can stay awake in committee.

Greek economic independence: what independence?

It was also being reported last night that the German government wants Greece to hand over control of tax and spending decisions to a \’budget commissioner\’ appointed by the rest of the eurozone, before the country gets its second bail-out.

The budget commissioner would have to power to veto decisions made by the Greek government, according to a proposal seen by the Financial Times, marking a significant step-up in the EU\’s powers over the sovereign governments of member states.

I wonder if they\’ll actually have the balls to appoint a German as Gauleiter?

Non-national benefits cap

A good idea, clearly:

The largest proportion of money paid out is for housing, he says. “While all that £500 a week might get you in central London is a one-bedroom apartment, in Rotherham, Yorkshire, it would get you a six-bedroom house,” Mr Byrne says.

He proposes a body that could decide what level of benefits cap is right for each area of the country.

We don\’t really need a body to do this. We\’ve already got the figures for regional value added right down to borough level. And I\’m pretty sure we\’ve got figures on median/mean incomes down to that sort of level. So, just set the cap at watever it is nationally, then adjust by those borough level figures.

But there\’s a much more important point than this to be made. We\’re seeing the first breach in the everything must be nationally the same: we\’re getting the benefits post code lottery if you like. And once that wall is breached then two other highly desirable things become possible.

Having the minimum wage regionally determined and even more important, abolishing the national wage bargaining in the public sector.

Once the principle of a national one size fits all is gone it is gone and there\’s no reason why those other two should not follow. Other than that the usual suspects won\’t like it that is.

This new little Samsung is being a right pain, anyone help?

OK, this is now solved, thanks to everyone who gave advice.

I know have a useless 1 GB memory card and a 2GB in the machine, courtesy of the little shop around the corner. Fortunately, as is true all over the world, computer nerds speak English.

So I\’ve now 1 GB of free RAM with Windows, Vodafopne, Firefox etc running in hte 1 GB they were all taking up before. For €25 which is a bloody liberty I tell \’ee. Why I remember when that upgrade to 640 kb was a big and expensive deal…..mumbles into his grey beard and falls asleep at the table drooling in senescence…

I\’ve got a new little netbook to travel with. And the little bastard just keeps running out of memory.

I\’m already running Firefox without downloading images. And that seems to take 250 MB or so of the 1GB RAM available.

As far as I can tell cache is set  to 4096. I really shouldn\’t be having Firefox repeatedly crashing as out of memory.

However, poking around and looking at system resources etc I seem to have something which is demanding 600-700 MB just as normal usage. I am running the Vodafone internet acess through a pen app. But that shouldn\’t take up that much. And, looking in the apps running window of Task Manager, that is all I\’m running, windoes and the Vodafone app.

So, err, where\’s all the memory gone? And why isn\’t some of it going to cache etc?

In short, how do I get a system that doesn\’t keep falling over for being out of memory?


So, update. Looking at task manager as this thing is right now.

Firefox, 120 MB.

Mobile broadband, 39 MB

Exploer 15, Plugin Container 12 and nothing else over 5 MB.


And yet something is using 800 MB and change altogether.

1013 Physical Memory, 150 cached, 214 available and 71 free.

814 MB in use according to resource manager.

And I\’m beginning to get an inkling of an idea: l;ast time it fell over I had a look there and there was 300 MB or so \”modified\” rather than in use or free.

So what\’s doing that \”modified\” bit then?

For what does happen is that it\’s fine from a cold start and then a few hours later it falls over (it makes Firefox fall over that is) until I cold start it again. So is there some process filling up memory?

Oh, and using AVG not Norton and AVG is pretty light itself isn\’t it?

Update 2:

\”Oh that\’s a point, the standard Windows look-as-stupid-as-a-Mac interface uses up shitloads of GPU, and if your little netbook hasn\’t got much of a GPU, that\’ll slow it to a crawl, so turn that off and use the standard XP type theme.\”

Erm, OK, how?










Oh Dear God, they\’re not that stupid are they?

But Labour will adopt one good policy. They will bring back rent controls.


Second only to aerial bombing in a major war as a successful method of reducing the available housing stock.

Doesn\’t anyone actually remember? The 70s, early 80s? When it was near impossible to find rental property anywhere in the country?

Who has proposed this and tell me, are they really this stupid?


I\’ve found out from Polly. Liam Byrne is about to propose it.

No, no, of course people don\’t make decisions based upon tax

Under UK tax rules, any non-resident athlete performing in Britain is subject to income tax on both their appearance fee and any associated worldwide endorsement payments. However, Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, said the Government has decided to waive the rule to attract the best talent to the Games.

It is not the first time the tax break has been granted. Competitors at this year’s Olympics have been exempted, as were the footballers at last year’s Champion’s League final at Wembley.

The levy has proved a deterrent to athletes in the past. In 2010, Mr Bolt, the Olympic 100 metres and 200 metres champion and world record holder, missed a Diamond League meeting in London because of the rules. Tennis players and golfers are also believed to have stayed away from smaller UK tournaments due to the tax. They are still taxed on the income in their home country.

See? It\’s entirely a lie that people will change their behaviour as a result of tax rates or rules.

Entirely possible to fleece the population without any changes in behaviour at all.

My word, this is amazing!

Undercover and uniformed officers have been monitoring three lay-bys off the A165 after residents of Skirlaugh and Coniston, East Yorks, repeatedly complained about the misbehaviour, known as dogging.

Despite 18 people being stopped in less than a month, none were found to be committing an offence and were given a leaflet with guidance on public sex.

No one arrested because no laws being broken! This isn\’t good enough for one politician of course:

Matthew Grove, an East Riding councillor, said: “These public areas have been stolen from the community by individuals who are using them in a way they were never intended. These are not courting couples, these are large groups of people engaging in behaviour which is simply not acceptable.

Not acceptable to you perhaps but obviously acceptable to those engaging in the activity. Agreed that this all getting very close to breaching the not frightening the horses clause of liberalism but that\’s just the way freedom and liberty pan out. Some people will do things that other people think they shouldn\’t do.

To which the correct response is \”tough titty mate\”. Which at this time of year is probably what everyone is in fact getting.

Err, no

“Tax provides the funding to run the country: hospitals, schools and everything else,” he says. “Every time someone pays cash in order not to pay VAT, the nation gets diddled.”

The nation is not the government, the nation is not the government finances.

The nation contains within it the government, of course, contains the government finances as a subsidiary part of said nation.

So it is true to say that tax evasion diddles the government, diddles the government finances, but not that it diddles the nation. For tax evaded gets used or spent somewhere else in said nation, by another part of said nation. Yes a builder having a bevvy off a non-taxed transaction is indeed still part of the nation. It isn\’t lost to the nation at all: only to the government finances.

Which, as above, is not the same thing as the nation at all.

Timmy elsewhere

At the ASI.

CSR increases profits: which is why profit maximising companies do some of it. Just perhaps not quite as much as the campaigners think they should, for that level of it isn\’t profit maximising.

Partial feminism

Is we all supposed to be equal or not?

Like most gender differences in outcomes, there only ever seems to be concern when women are under-represented in fields like politics, and never any concern when men are under-represented for outcomes like bachelor\’s degrees, master\’s degrees, doctor\’s degrees, graduate school enrollment, biology degrees, veterinary degrees, optometry degrees, pharmacy degrees, etc. The only exceptions are when the outcomes are negative like prison populations, learning disabilities, occupational injuries and fatalities, motorcycle injuries and fatalities, suicides and drug addiction and then there is no concern about female under-representation.

Ritchie on the National Debt

My, this is interesting.

Essentially, we don\’t have a girt big national debt because we can just ignore 20-30% of it.

However, it should be noted that the government has done something else at least as significant. Through the quantitative easing programme the Bank of England has repurchased or will be soon repurchasing near enough £275 billion of that debt (I’ve shown the last £75 billion as happening in Q3 of 2011 as that’s near enough when it was authorised).

Now the Bank of England is owned by the UK government so if, in accounting terms, a consolidated set of accounts were to be prepared the £275bn owed by the Treasury to the Bank of England would simply be crossed out, or ignored. The actual debt would only be £725 billion.

In static terms we could look at it this way, yes. BoE has printed money to buy gilts, that is what QE is. However, static ain\’t quite the way to look at it, dynamic is.

It’s all a matter of getting the story right and on this occasion it takes an accountant to do that.

That\’s where the problem is, yes. The national debt isn\’t quite as amenable to an accountant\’s take on it as the accountant thinks.

Nor is there any hint now of this QE causing inflation, all of which can safely be said to have had other causes, not least because as Government accounts also show, the M3 measure of money supply has fallen steadily since 2009, meaning there is no prospect of inflation in the future either as a consequence of this process.

It\’s here that we start to get into those problems. QE doesn\’t impact directly upon M3. Only indirectly. Now I get as lost as everyone else in these Ms, M0, M3 etc.

But roughly speaking the relationship is that M0 is what the BoE has been creating to buy the gilts. This is money if you like, printing the stuff (or calling it into existence on a computer). M3 is what the money supply is after we\’ve gone through the mulitplying effect of fractional reserve banking. You know, all that \”banks create credit for nothing\” stuff.

Which gives us something of a problem. Imagine, if you will, that the banking system starts to lend again. You know, like all of those plans that Ritchie has to make them lend again? So, that multiplier between M0 and M3 goes back to something like historic levels. At which time we do get inflation, because we\’ve got a lot more M0 to be multiplied into M3.

Which means, of course, that the BoE now needs to sell those gilts and cancel the money creation so as to reduce M0 and thus not have inflation.

Just to reiterate, it\’s true that M3 ain\’t surging: but as soon as the banking system is sorted out it will which is why we need to reverse QE when the banking system is sorted out.

So, we can indeed look at it in the static terms that Ritchie uses but we shouldn\’t. For the whole thing must be looked at in dynamic terms, not static.

This is the mistake he makes about Green QE as well: he misses that the whole point of QE is monetary and also needs to be reversible. Getting the BoE to print up £200 billion to go spend on real things doesn\’t have the same effect at all: we end up increasing M3 by whatever is the, currently low agreed, multiplier to M3.

As I said above, I can, like most, get lost in those M0 and M3 things. But even if I\’ve got the precise definitions of the monetary aggregates wrong the basic argument is still true. QE creates base money, base money is multiplied by the banking system. That mulitplier is currently low as a result of the credit crunch (low multiplier equals credit crunch in fact) and when the multiplier returns to normal we have to reverse the base money creation thing.

So while the BoE does currently own said debt it won\’t forever.

And then this, which is simply quite lovely:

And in this case that would be absolutely the right point of view. There is no hope at all that this debt will ever be sold back into the markets: there’s enough new debt to sell to meet all market demand for UK debt without ever re-selling this stuff.

Do you see what he\’s said there? We\’re already going to be issuing all the debt the market wants. On current plans. Which means that the borrow to do stimulus to get out of recession plan won\’t work, will it? Because that would mean issuing more debt: more debt which, as Ritchie says, would be more debt than the market wants. Which would mean that if that more debt (to do the stimulus which Ritchie says we should do) were issued then the price of the debt would fall, yields rise and we\’d find any nascent recovery being chocked off by higher interest rates.

Isn\’t that lovely? Part of Ritchie\’s proof that we\’re not in as much debt as we thought is the proof that we cannot issue any more debt than we already are?


Might be why we have bankers not accountants running Central Banks really.

Any excuse Nick, any excuse

Coalition plans to raise the income tax allowance to £10,000 should be accelerated to tackle the growing economic crisis, Nick Clegg will say.

, you need to be even braver than this. And steal a real political march on those to the left of you.

Annouce that the minimum wage, full time, full year, is to be the new personal allowance. One changes, both change.

This is just and right: if it is immoral that someone earns less than x then it is immoral that someone earning less than x is taxed.

It also entirely kills the living wage argument. For the difference between the minimum wage and the living wage, post tax, is almost entirely the tax and NI that people pay on the minimum wage.

And then there\’s still an aspiration to go for: raising the NI limit to being the same as the income tax personal allowance.

To pay for this? Lower the qualifying income for the 40% tax bracket.

Without doing the calculations I would expect that you could do this leaving post tax incomes at that current 40% limit equal to today\’s, higher taxes for those over it, lower for those under it.

Even if you cannot, yes, I do think making the top 10% to 15% of income earners (heck I\’d support the top 50% paying more so that people working part time on min wage pay no tax) pay more tax so that the poor pay no tax is a good idea.

A Robert not a Richard, but descriptive all the same

He conceives that the business of the magistrate is not merely to see that the persons and property of the people are secure from attack, but that he ought to be a jack-of-all-trades, architect, engineer, schoolmaster, merchant, theologian, a Lady Bountiful in every parish, a Paul Pry in every house, spying, eavesdropping, relieving, admonishing, spending our money for us. His principle is, if we understand it rightly, that no man can do anything so well for himself as his rulers, be they who they may, can do it for him, and that a government approaches nearer and nearer to perfection in proportion as it interferes more and more with the habits and notions of individuals.”*

Bloody Hell, Germany\’s a strange country

So here I am in Freiberg, getting stuff sorted out. Rent a flat, buy a bed, get lamps in, all this sort of stuff. Yesterday, went and bought desk, kitchen table, shelves.

Well, I say desk and kitchen table. Two cheap doors on four trestles, no point in wasting the shareholders\’ money.

So I\’d wandered up the hill (3, 4 clicks away), bought them for delivery. They give me the noon to 6pm delivery slot.

It is now exactly noon at pixel time. And the man turned up 20 minutes ago, unloaded, said thanks and I\’ve already got the desk up and running.

There\’s something terribly wrong with this picture isn\’t there? Delivery early, but early enough to be really on time?

Or yesterday, I had to register in Germany (and no, I won\’t be here more than 183 days a year!) So off to the Rathaus (yes, that and Ratskeller do still make me laugh) and the Tuesday afternoon possibility for you to register. And we have no common language. My German extends to \”Wo ist\” sort of stuff, where you speak English but with a heavy accent, no more. Their English was at a similar level and we weren\’t going to get anywhere with schoolboy French or supermarket Portuguese, not in this corner of Europe. My Russian\’s very rusty and I have a feeling that it\’s still impolitic to use it around here.

But still, we got the registration done with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of embarassed smiles as we stumbled through various mistakes (no, you can\’t put down my citizenship as Irish, that all rather changed around 1920 or so whatever g-grandpops thought about it). 15 minutes all told. Then round to the bank, with the registration, to open an account.

Only person there who spoke English (other than a very cute and pneumatic girl who backed out saying she was still studying English and therefore didn\’t feel up to it) was the branch manager so he opened the account.

He made me a cup of coffee and by the time I had drunk it we were done: card and PIN on the way.

How the hell did any country ever end up with bureaucracy that works?