March 2017

Because the State does things so well, eh?

There are many reasons why I became homeless, but no one was surprised it happened. I’m just another care leaver who lost control of their life. Almost every person I lived with in children’s homes and foster placements has since experienced mental health problems, stints in prison, and battles with drug and alcohol addiction. What would make me so special that I could avoid the inevitable breakdown?

Quite an opening statement. Everyone who is brought up by the State breaks down.

The local housing advice service was no help. I was told that to be considered a priority need, I had to demonstrate that I was more vulnerable than my homeless counterparts. As one adviser put it: “I have to establish that you would be worse off than me, if I were homeless.” It may interest people that local councils are now running a misery contest for housing, a sort of X Factor for the destitute. Maybe my audition would have gone better if I’d had a few more missing teeth, and wet myself while singing Oom-Pah-Pah.

And then I befriended a resident of a residential charity for the homeless. He was far more helpful than the housing advisers, and managed to organise a place for me at the charity.

When I entered its walls, which were inside a converted factory, the place immediately struck me as having similarities with a Victorian workhouse. I was told by the “community leader” that I would receive basic subsistence: a room, food, clothing and a modest weekly allowance, in exchange for 40 hours’ labour.

Private charity helps him out. Bit of stability an address, food and in the warm. But he’s got to work for it.

Hmm, the bastards, eh?

These regulations not only strip homeless people of the right to a decent wage, but of all their other employment rights too. Because residents of such charities are not classed as employees, they cannot claim unfair dismissal or sick pay. Many people have lived and worked at the charity for up to 15 years, yet they can be sacked and evicted with no legal right to appeal.

I accept that residents, some of whom have suffered with long-term alcoholism and drug dependency, are far better off within the charity home’s walls than they would be on the streets or living alone. The environment is predominantly a positive one, where residents are well fed and safe, and are overseen by conscientious staff. The charity does give individuals the chance to participate in meaningful work and contribute to a community, sometimes for the first time in their lives. But none of this alters the fact that residents are forced by poverty to work for no pay.

So let’s insist that minimum wage must be paid shall we? That’s going to work well…..

I like this idea

One Conservative backbencher, Peter Bone, was only half-heartedly dismissed by Theresa May when he claimed instead that the EU actually owes Britain £184bn, which is a full refund of its total net contributions since joining in 1973.

It’s not a very serious idea, sure, but I like it. Given that all that money has only been pissed away how about we extract it from the assets of those who did the pissing away? The entire political class of Europe into debt bondage for a century say?

OK, still only a fraction of the money but fun, eh?

Won’t happen, not a chance

Sir Richard Branson has raised the prospect of planes being made entirely from the so-called wonder material graphene within 10 years, as the airline industry battles a 50pc increase in fuel in the last 12 months, sparking a desperate need for ever lighter fleets.

The Virgin Atlantic president, who founded the airline in 1984, described the super-lightweight material as a ‘breakthrough technology’, which he said could help revolutionise the airline industry and transform its cost base.

It’s wonderful stuff, no doubt about it. But it’ll not be making airplanes in a decade’s time.

For the simple reason that the testing process for a new airplane alloy is more than 10 years.

Woo lives on

Homeopathic medicines will escape an NHS prescribing ban even though the Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies has dismissed the treatments as ‘rubbish’ and a waste of taxpayers money.

Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, has previously voiced his support for the controversial treatments and even asked Dame Sally to commision a review of evidence into their efficacy.

It is estimated that NHS spends around £4 million a year on homeopathic treatments, yet although the health service vowed this week to clamp down on the prescribing of ‘ineffective, unnecessary, inappropriate or unsafe’ treatments, homeopathy was not included.

Old joke alert. Just reduce the budget further to make it even more effective

Just a thought about race and sub-species

Prompted by that gracile and robust thing in apes in the comments this arvo.

We have two really rather things out there, race in human beings and sub-species in animals. In animals it is right on to insist that we must preserve the sub-species. In humans it is right on to deny that there is even something called race. Yet unless I’ve really missed some important part of science they strike me as being very much the same thing.

So, with animals, tigers and lions can breed but the result, the liger or tigon is rarely – but not never – fertile. So, OK, different species.

The domestic house cat is cross fertile with the European lynx – at least with the Iberian version. This must be so because they ask people with tabbies to not have them near the rare lynx areas. And the Scottish wildcat is closer again. And then we get to what are quite obviously the same species but also different sub-species. Fully and totally cross-fertile but of different colourings perhaps, size, location. And we very definitely find that we’re supposed to be preserving each and every one of these sub-species. It would be an outrage if the Florida panther disappeared despite it being only a swamp dwelling version of the standard panther found all over the Americas.

But when we consider race we get a flat out denial that the concept even exists in humans. And yet a Pygmy and an Eskimo differ by more (while still being cross fertile–not sure anyone has ever tested that pairing but there’s nothing we know which says they aren’t) than many of what we’re told are different sub-species of animal.

Now, it’s not uncommon that different people hold different views on something or other. Nor even different people holding different views on different subjects. But this rough equivalence between race in humans and sub-species in animals looks pretty robust to me. And yet it’s largely the same people who insist that we must preserve the one and then deny that the concept of the other even exists at all.

So, given that you all know more than I do, is there some great gaping hole in my scientific understanding here? Or is it just that people themselves are inconsistent in their beliefs?

Just morons, morons

Sustainable degrowth is a downscaling of production and consumption that increases human well-being and enhances ecological conditions and equity on the planet. It calls for a future where societies live within their ecological means, with open, localized economies and resources more equally distributed through new forms of democratic institutions. Such societies will no longer have to “grow or die.” Material accumulation will no longer hold a prime position in the population’s cultural imaginary. The primacy of efficiency will be substituted by a focus on sufficiency, and innovation will no longer focus on technology for technology’s sake but will concentrate on new social and technical arrangements that will enable us to live convivially and frugally. Degrowth does not only challenge the centrality of GDP as an overarching policy objective but proposes a framework for transformation to a lower and sustainable level of production and consumption, a shrinking of the economic system to leave more space for human cooperation and ecosystems.

What in buggery do they think the economy is if it isn’t human cooperation?


Which is where the real problem is in this demand that women’s household work be included in GDP.
No, not that it violates economic principles, rather, that your mother, who conceived, carried, bore, suckled, trained you and even now drops hints wondering when the grandchildren will arrive, you’ve now got to go and tell her that all those years of her labour are valued at about what a rickshaw driver gets a month.
It’s easier just to say that including household labour in GDP violates some economic principle or other, isn’t it?

Would improve the food if they used it

An antique cookbook from 1793 listing a recipe for curry was discovered by monks, and now budding chefs will have the chance to try the dish at home.
The book, which contains the oldest oldest known recipe for an English curry as well as other Georgian-era recipes, is to be turned into a modern day cookery book.
The unusual book was found in the archives of a Benedictine monastery and painstakingly transcribed.

Yes, of course, Downside.

Really not got the point about evolution here

So, teach evolution earlier and in more detail. Why not?

But it would be about more than learning why our bodies are the way they are. We would become better, more caring, citizens of Earth if we were reminded each day of our animal heritage. A daily reminder that we must play by the same laws of the universe as any other creature; that we can’t take, take, take from nature and expect infinite reward, because nothing comes from nothing.

For that’s the most significant manner in which we differ from the other products of that shared evolution. We manage that nature, that environment, greatly increasing the productive capacity in a manner that really no other animal does.

Think it though for a moment, we’ve escaped the Malthusian trap. We are all, entirely voluntarily, limiting our reproduction and holding species size well below the available food supply. This is, remarkably, more true the greater the food supply too – a larger food supply is synonymous with higher GDP and fertility is most definitely negatively linked to that.

The whole point about humans is that in this very sense, the abstraction from nature, we don’t play by the same rules as other animals. He’s entirely missed the point.


My learning disability doesn’t mean I should be paid less. I’m furious
Ismail Kaji

Of course we should not make fun of the afflicted. That is reserved for those who are stupid and or malevolent like Spud, not those who are truly afflicted. But…

Less than 6% of people with learning disabilities who are known to social services are in employment, but many more can work, and want to do so.


The biggest barriers we face are negative attitudes and the idea that learning disabled people are not capable of work, or that it will be too time-consuming to employ them, or it will cost the company a lot of money.

So reduce one of those barriers maybe?

Below the line we get some marvelous Graudianista:

No one should be paid less due to any form of physical and or mental health disability or illness

Rent/ mortgage,food,transport etc etc etc is the same price for everyone or have I missed something?


Quite so

Cameron’s legislation has not happened, and there’s a simple reason; encryption is a binary. Either something is encrypted, and thus secure from everyone, or it’s not. As the security expert Bruce Schneier has written: “I can’t build an access technology that only works with proper legal authorisation, or only for people with a particular citizenship or the proper morality. The technology just doesn’t work that way. If a backdoor exists, then anyone can exploit it.”

That’s the crux of the problem. While you can legislate to only give state agencies access to terrorists’ communications, and with proper oversight and authorisation, you cannot actually build encryption that works like that. If you put a backdoor in, it’s there not just for security services to exploit, but for cyber-criminals, oppressive regimes and anyone else.

There is no way around this. Either we can say that end to end encryption is legal or that it is illegal. There is no way to have it being legal but not really encryption…..

These people are crazed loons

A plan to extract millions of litres of water out of a Unesco world heritage site, send it by pipe to the coast and ship it to foreign markets for bottling has ignited a campaign over water resources in New Zealand.

An export company is proposing to collect 800m litres a month of the “untapped” glacial waters of Lake Greaney and Lake Minim Mere, mountainous dams that are fed by rainfall on the Southern Alps.
Jen Branje, the founder of protest group Bung the Bore which initiated the petition to parliament, said the government must halt the practice.

“We want a ban on all bottled water exports until we have legislation in place to protect this resource.

“Currently it is being given away willy-nilly for free and it is depleting our own reserves and that shouldn’t be happening.”

According to government figures, New Zealand’s annual freshwater resource is 500tr litres, of which 2%, or 10tr litres, is extracted.

This particular effort is 10 billion litres a year or so. That’s 0.002% of a renewable resource’s annual regeneration capacity.

We’re not exactly hitting Hardin’s limits to Marxian extraction yet, are we?

Very Heinz Kiosk

But let’s, in the absence of a terrorist explanation, ask what drives a 52 year old man to such behaviour because if it wasn’t terrorism it begs even bigger questions of our society in which, I stress, he’s always reported to have lived.

We are all guilty, no?

Tee Hee

Donald Trump handed the German chancellor Angela Merkel a bill — thought to be for more than £300bn — for money her country “owed” Nato for defending it when they met last weekend, German government sources have revealed.

The bill — handed over during private talks in Washington — was described as “outrageous” by one German minister.

No, it doesn’t make any sense, we all know that. But as theatre…..

Hmm, so, did they?

New questions are emerging over Barclays’ rescue fundraising in 2008 as the Serious Fraud Office and the Financial Conduct Authority extend their inquiries into the deal.

Court documents filed in a civil case related to the £7.3bn injection from Middle Eastern investors have drawn attention to a separate transaction at around the same time.

Barclays lent £2bn to Qatar just weeks after the announcement of the role played by the Gulf state’s principal investment vehicle in the bank bailout. The debt component of Qatar Holding’s investment was for the same sum of £2bn.

Was that money just round tripped? Be fascinating to know…..

The point being that the bank needed capital. It had pots and pots of dosh, of deposits. But it needed capital.

So, lend some of the deposits which then come back as capital…..terribly naughty if that’s what they did do.


The paper isn’t by Vigdor’s colleagues. It’s actually by Vigdor. And isn’t that just so much better? At which point let’s lay out the logical structure Meyerson has used here.

Minimum wage rises don’t cause job losses. Jacob Vigdor is just a blue meanie spouting the usual propaganda when he says that Seattle’s minimum wage rise has had job loss effects. As proof of this, to refute his baseless assertion, we should read this paper, by Jacob Vigdor, on the job loss effects of Seattle’s minimum wage, which found that there are some. Anyone who disputes this finding is merely a right wing academic propagandising rather than relying upon empirical evidence. This violates the norms of most economic reporting.

Signed, H. Myerson.

Isn’t that just so cute?