March 2016

Stump thinking

According to the FT the trading revenue of most investment banks collapsed in the first quarter of this year

OK. Different post:

The UK is home to more than 75% of Europe’s top paid bankers

If investment banking profits fall then bankers’ pay will fall. At least, it would, if they were still being paid with bonuses. Problem solved, eh?

This is fun too:

Those watching the steel industry should take note. That adds value,

Since when is making a loss adding value?

Misunderstanding to happen in 3….2….1….

The Associated Press news agency entered a formal cooperation with the Hitler regime in the 1930s, supplying American newspapers with material directly produced and selected by the Nazi propaganda ministry, archive material unearthed by a German historian has revealed.

How long before this migrates into insisting that the Daily Mail did (not that it’s record on the point was all that great).

Not everyone being bright enough to note that Associated Press and Associated Newspapers are different organisations.

Tuna flavoured beer!

Why not combine two male enjoyments into one product?

A Polish company has set up a crowd-funding page to raise money for a new brand of beer which it claims will be made with bacteria taken from a woman’s vagina.
The Order of Yoni – which takes its name from the Sanskrit word for vagina – is asking for £118,000 (150,000 Euros) to launch ‘Bottled Instinct’, a drink which contains the ‘quintessence of femininity’.
A post on crowd-sourcing website Indie Go Go claims the beer will be made from the ‘lactic acid bacteria’ of Czech model Alexandra Brendlova, who appears in the adverts in negligee.

Slightly weirdly I know someone who has dated Brendlova. No, no news on how the beer will taste, sorry.

Who couldn’t see this coming?

Doctors should have the right to take organs from patients who want to die so they can be used in transplant surgery, a prominent medical researcher has suggested.
Those who want to be killed should be sedated in hospital then allowed to die after the removal of their vital organs, according to the proposal published by a British-based medical ethics journal.
Using organs for transplant surgery from patients who have been helped to die is allowed in Belgium and Holland, the European countries where euthanasia is legal.
But ‘dead donor’ rules mean there must be a gap between the death of the patient and the removal of organs, with the delay meaning their quality may decline.

And there’s people out there who tell us that slippery slope arguments aren’t valid in logic.

This isn’t really possible

Although the importance of the steel industry to the UK economy has declined, it possesses attributes that are critical to the economy’s success. The industry produces a trade surplus, its productivity, investment in R&D and training per employees are higher than the general UK economy.

As far as I can tell the steel industry is currently making a loss. Productivity is therefore negative. Productivity being the value of output created over the value of inputs.

It’s entirely true that labour productivity could be quite high: value produced per hour of labour input. but that’s not quite the same thing, is it?

To explain Tata’s Port Talbot problem again

Liberty House, which has already agreed to rescue two of Tata’s sites in a deal brokered by the Scottish government, said it would consider some of the firm’s other manufacturing sites but was unlikely to take on the biggest plant at Port Talbot, in South Wales.

“While the downstream operations will be of interest, we’re clear that taking on the iron and steelmaking facilities present a huge challenge,”

They just don’t want the blast furnaces. Not needed: surplus to requirements. The bits that transform steel into usable stuff, sure, that’s fun and interesting, but making basic steel? Why?

Why is it that Ritchie is so damn ignorant?

The Bank of England Financial Policy Committee said that leaving the EU was a financial risk yesterday. You would think that a statement of the obvious but in a highly charged environment it was contentious.

No one should be surprised: central bank independence has always been a neoliberal sham that suggests that life can be compartmentalised into what is political and what is not; what is rational economics and what is subjective opinion. There are no such divides, whether in the NGO or academic worlds, or in Threadneedle Street. To pretend there are is to lie in support of a world view that is both intensely political and deeply oppressive of alternative views.

At the end of the day, the Brexit campaign is not, I suspect, going to upset that world view. The pretence that the Bank of England is independent will be restored soon as a result.

Sigh.

In the European Union, the principle of central bank independence has a quasi-constitutional basis. Article 108 of the Treaty establishing the European Community states that:

“ neither the ECB, nor a national central bank … shall seek or take instructions from Community institutions or bodies, from any government of a Member State or from any other body”.

The Bank of England can only become non-independent if Brexit succeeds.

Why is it that our 0.2 of a Professor is simply ignorant of every subject upon which he pontificates?

Flatulent tosspottery of the most egregious kind

A video showing a black female San Francisco State University (SFSU) student corner and assault a white male student over his dreadlocks because “it’s my culture” has gone viral.

Goldstein is seen to defend his hairstyle, and asks the female student: “You’re saying I can’t have a hairstyle because of your culture. Why?”

She is heard to reply: “Because it’s my culture.”

Next time I see some fat bird I’m going to scream at her that she must slim down. Because as a fat white middle aged male I insist that being fat is the appropriation of my culture.

Oliver James seems a bit out of step with reality here

Are poor people poor because of inferior genes? This notion is especially popular with members of the ruling elite, who like to think their position is the result of genetic superiority rather than the fact they have privileged backgrounds.

Low intelligence and high rates of mental illness are more common in poor people. Geneticists maintain that genes play a major role in causing both. But if they were right there would be an inexorable logic that suggests inferior DNA caused poor people to sink to the bottom of the gene pool.

In the light of the findings of the human genome project, however, that idea is no longer defensible – as the leading psychologist Ken Richardson recently pointed out in the house magazine of the psychology profession. On the contrary, the implication of the unimportance of genes is that if we changed society in the right ways, we could virtually eradicate not only low academic performance and mental illness but also criminality and problems such as substance abuse.

Hmm:

HAIDT: Not fundamentally different, but different in predispositions. The most important finding in psychology in the last 50 to 100 years, I would say, is the finding that everything you can measure is heritable. The heritability coefficients vary between 0.3 and 0.6, or 30 to 60 percent of the variance, under some assumptions, can be explained by the genes. It’s the largest piece of variance we can explain.

What annoys me about the tabula rasa nonsense is that if genes don’t have any effect then how in fuck did we get here? How did intelligence develop, why is the intelligence of our species different than that of other species, if genes don’t have a part to play?

Tee hee

Long term vegetarianism can lead to genetic mutations which raise the risk of heart disease and cancer, scientists have found.

It’s a generational thing though, so you can be a veggie but you mustn’t make your children so.

Lentils for you and t-bones for the kids!

How amusing about Skorzeny

A notorious former SS officer known as “Hitler’s commando” reportedly worked as an assassin for Israeli intelligence.
Lt-Col Otto Skorzeny, once described by British and American intelligence as “the most dangerous man in Europe”, was secretly recruited by Mossad after the Second World War, according to Israel’s Ha’aretz newspaper.

But then I think there were quite a lot of such around. No, I don’t mean just Nazis who went on to do other things. But men for whom the excitement of war and battle was so great that the actual cause wasn’t the important point at all.

There were such on the British side too, popping up all over Africa in the next few decades. A proper shooting war simply suits some people. They revel in it.

Who in hell needs this?

Kuvée recently rolled out a smart bottle that can keep wine fresh for up to 30 days, and it comes packed with extra features.

Who has a bottle of wine that lasts more than an hour or so after opening?

So let’s privatise academia

Business wants a flexible labour market, and the right to hire and fire.

But that means it is not worth investing in training.

What is more business does not want to pay tax.

But they do want the government to ensure that the employees business refuses to train are readily available, on tap, when required.

The words cloud, cuckoo and land come to mind.

It really is time that those writing reports of the type referred to realised four things.

The first is that if they want to make profit they must invest.

Second, the biggest investment required in a skills based economy is in people.

Third, government is good at providing training but it is bound to be generic: it cannot be as specific as most businesses need.

And fourth? Training has to be paid for. And logically the person to pay is the person requiring the skill.

It really is time business stopped trying to free-ride everyone else and then blame anyone but themselves for the consequences.

So, privatise academia and business will indeed be paying for its training needs. Job done!

If I could ask a very politically incorrect question?

There’s a central dictum in engineering, in medicine, in life, at which Theranos, the controversial blood test company, has constantly failed. “In God we trust,” the mid-century statistician William Edward Deming quipped. “All others bring data.”

Now, once again, Theranos does not have data to bring. But researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mt. Sinai have done their own analysis of Theranos’ tests, which replace needle jabs with finger pricks. They have found them wanting.

At stake is the fortune of Elizabeth Holmes, Theranos’ 32-year-old founder and the world’s youngest self-made woman billionaire. Forbes values it at $3.6 billion based on her 50% in Theranos and on private investments others have made in her company. Also at stake is her self-stated mission to transform the business of blood-testing, which she says lacks transparency and too often does not put patients first. Theranos’ tests, which replace stabbing needles with tiny finger pricks and return results more quickly, are her path to changing the world.

How much of this is due to her being a cutie? In a male dominated tech world where cuties are in short supply and the nerds aren’t all that well equipped to deal with cuties?

Yes, most un-PC question, but one worth asking perhaps?

This is the point of a prom, isn’t it?

A teenage boy likely thought he was being thoughtful and romantic when he came up with the idea of using live rabbits to help him ask a young girl to go to prom with him.
But the would-be Casanova didn’t count on the furry fiends totally stealing the spotlight from his sweetly-staged promposal by vigorously mating in front of the pair of them while he was trying to ask her that all-important question.

At least in every American coming of age movie ever that’s the point and purpose. Although they tend not to call it mating.

Well, yes, but FFS it’s in Magadan

A dazzlingly ornate apartment with gold walls and even a gold toilet seat has gone on sale in Russia.

The sale shows the way that the sanctions are hitting even the rich, after it went on sale for just 6.5 million roubles (£67,000).

The bizarre apartment is located in the centre of the city of Magadan in north-eastern Russia’s Magadan Oblast region, where it is located on the 2nd floor of a 4-story building.

It’s a standard warning in the property game that you can overdevelop a place for its location. Much beyond running water and a heating system is overdevelopment for Magadan…..

To explain modern art for you

Bhamber, who has an art degree, was enchanted when she discovered the history of her acquisition. “I really didn’t have any idea of what the painting depicted, but I fell in love with it,” she said.

Somebody with an art degree no less, has a painting but has no idea what that painting is of.

He tried to capture its character – which he described as a “diabolical contraption, a dusty hunk of electric and mechanical hardware that reminded me of the disturbing 1950’s Quatermass science fiction television series” – in a near-lifesize two metre by three metre Portrait of a Dead Witch, which he also intended as a joke about the contemporary craze for computer-generated art. He described it as a portrait rather than a still life: “I think I had some idea that the painting brought the computer back to life, or at least to another life.”

It’s a portrait…..