April 2017

So, who uses what dictation software?

I know I’ve asked this before but let’s try again.

Is there anything which really produces a good experience? So that you end up typing at speaking speed or close to it? 100, 150 wpm sort of speed?

i know of Dragon and have experimented with it but that was some time ago and perhaps it has got better since then. I assume there’s a google product out there as there is one for Android but is there a web version and how good is it?

And for anyone who does use dictation software how the hell does it deal with punctuation? Do you end up speaking like Victor Borge?

Sigh

The nnumber of individuals applying for insolvency jumped to the highest level in almost three years in the first three months of 2017, in a further sign of the mounting financial pressure facing UK households.

Personal insolvencies in England and Wales totalled 24,531 between January and March, up 6.7% on the previous quarter and 15.7% higher than the same period a year earlier.

Thus trend can only get worse. As I have noted in the last couple of weeks, pay increases are now falling behind inflation and there are signs that the availability of consumer credit is falling. Increasingly ends will not meet and people will be facing bankruptcy. Brexit will impose a very high human cost.

Then it is explained to the Snippa Spud:

Solanum Tuberosum says:
April 30 2017 at 8:58 am
I think you’re mistaken that this is a portent of doom. The increase is down to a rise in IVAs, and over the last year or two it has become easier to get one with the bottom offer now being as low as £60/month and quite a few ahem ‘factory practitioners’ appearing in this sector. In addition some companies providing informal debt management plans have been pulling out and when their clients are reassessed and being transferred from the informal sector onto an IVA.

Reply
Richard Murphy says:
April 30 2017 at 9:37 am
What colour gloss is your favourite?

Reply
King Edward says:
April 30 2017 at 10:24 am
The data is a sum of three elements : IVAs , Debt Relief Orders and Bankruptcy orders. The last two of these are broadly flat. The rate of company liquidations recorded separately are also broadly flat. The figures do not show those on Debt Management Plans. So the rise in the headline number being down to an increase in IVAs is not in doubt.
So why should IVAs have been rising when the others have not?

There’s some information here
https://www.fca.org.uk/news/news-stories/helping-consumers-debt-management-plans
which shows people coming off Debt Management Plans. They have likely been switching to another option i.e. an IVA.

Sigh.

Fun stuff

The Queen is among a clutch of landowners set to share a £3.8bn windfall from the largest mine dug in Britain. Dozens of small farmers in North Yorkshire could become multimillionaires thanks to a gigantic deposit of fertiliser a mile below the moors.

Sirius Minerals lifted the lid last week on the riches that will be unlocked for local people and estate owners by its mine. It broke ground on the project in North York Moors national park this year.

The company aims to tap a 70-metre deep seam of polyhalite, a mineral-rich form of potash. The £2.3bn mine is expected to reach peak production in the mid-2020s.

Sirius, which moved from the junior AIM market to the main board last week, said it would hand out royalty cheques of £65m a year. Under current projections, the payments will total £3.8bn over the lifetime of the project. The national park authority is set to receive £772m.

Minerals belong to the landowner. Except for gold, silver, fossil fuels, which belong to the Crown.

Just think how much easier fracking would be if the landowners got the royalty cheques…..

Seems entirely logical to the rest of us

For this is what you do in a negotiation:

Brexit negotiations began with a blazing row yesterday as Brussels flatly rejected Theresa May’s negotiating position and accused the prime minister of living in a “parallel reality”.

The other 27 EU member states took just four minutes to agree a hardline stance on Brexit at a summit meeting in Brussels before Jean-Claude Juncker, the head of the European Commission, and Michel Barnier, the chief European Union Brexit negotiator, rounded on the prime minister.

They told EU leaders that May had used a meeting with them on Wednesday night to demand that a “detailed outline” of a future free trade deal be in place before the UK agrees to pay any money to Brussels as part of the Brexit divorce deal. An EU diplomat said: “This was a rather incredible demand. It seemed as if it came from a parallel reality.”

Everything’s on the table until nothing is.

They want 60 billion, eh well, we’d like free trade please. Hmm, no free trade? Then wave bye bye to the money. That’s just the way you do negotiate.

Think of trying to negotiate a software contract the EU way.

“We’ll settle the price first”

“Umm, the price for what?”

“Never mind, agree the price first”

Umm, no, not really

Labour’s aimless stroll towards oblivion in Glasgow
Kevin McKenna
Years of bad management and lack of vision have left the SNP and Tories poised to expunge the left from north of the border

The SNP are better described as another flavour of the left……

Err, no, really, that’s not how it works

Handsome Devil, by contrast, tries to make a different point: “That LGBT issues are mainstream and they should be funded by the mainstream. We should be seeing $50m LGBT comedies with realistic couples at the middle of it. Because it’s one in 10 of us, you know? We belong in the mainstream.”

It’s not 1 in 10. Nothing like.

Further, that’s not the way that business works. You’re looking for the marginal customer when going big, not trying to address some core.

To be stupid about it compare the scandium business with the hamburger one. Maccy D is trying to sell to anyone and everyone. Thus big productions, lots of shops, big ad budgets and so on. They get some portion of that market of course. When I was selling scandium there were maybe 10 people in the world I needed to reach. All the effort went intoidentifying those 10 people, plus a bit of finding out if there were an eleventh or twelfth.

The strategy for trying to sell to a core audience of perhaps some 3 or 4% (to be generous about LGBT numbers) of the population is rather different than the one required for trying to sell to the marginal member of the general population.

Sigh.

Labour pledges to outlaw freelancing

Labour has pledged to ban all zero-hours contracts,

Which is a bit of a bugger really.

Obviously, I can see the difference between CapX saying yes they want a piece from me today, or no, they’ve enough from other people so nothing today Tim, and someone getting or not getting a MaccyD shift that day.

But I can’t really see the difference in law.

Anyone? How can we still have freelance work on demand and no zero hours contracts?

Amusingly, Macron’s wife would be in jail today

Yes, I knew about the teacher bit, but not that it was while still at school:

One of Emmanuel’s friends – at whose grandmother’s home near Chantilly, he was supposedly studying for his baccalaureate exams – rang to organise the coming weekend. His mother, Francoise Noguès-Macron, realised then that “Manu”, who called her every day to tell her about his day, was not actually in Chantilly. At the end of the week, his father went to the station to collect his son on his supposed return from a week’s revision with friends. There were raised voices when they returned home.

“What mattered to me was not the fact he was having a relationship with Brigitte but that he was alive and that there weren’t any problems,” says Francoise.

Nope, that’s being in authority etc, hands off territory.

Amazingly, I’ve not seen anyone noting this….

Err, whut?

The government often appears eager to appease the fuel lobby. One populist pressure group, Fair Fuel UK, cares only about the right of its 1.4 million members to drive their vehicles, full of cheap fuel,

What cheap fuel? Where?

UK fuel is already taxed at twice the rate that the Stern Review would set a carbon tax at…..

You what?

A Republican congressional candidate has financial ties to a number of Russian companies that have been sanctioned by the US, the Guardian has learned.

Greg Gianforte, who is the GOP standard bearer in the upcoming special election in Montana, owns just under $250,000 in shares in two index funds that are invested in the Russian economy to match its overall performance.

According to a financial disclosure filed with the clerk of the House of Representatives, the Montana tech mogul owns almost $150,000 worth of shares in VanEck Vectors Russia ETF and $92,400 in the IShares MSCF Russia ETF fund. Both are indexed to the Russian equities market and have significant holdings in companies such as Gazprom and Rosneft that came under US sanctions in the aftermath of the Russian invasion of the Crimea.

The holdings, while substantial, make up only a small portion of Gianforte’s wealth. The congressional candidate, who made a fortune starting a software company which was later sold to Oracle, has assets estimated to be worth between $65m and $315m, according to his financial disclosure.

So he’s got 0.1% perhaps of his wealth in an index fund which owns some Gazprom stock?

Alert the media!

Umm, actually, that’s what they have done, isn’t it? But why is any bugger writing a newspaper article about it?

Richard Nephew, the former principal deputy coordinator for sanctions policy at the state department, told the Guardian that “there is definitely a question here but my initial reaction is that this is not something to freak out about”.

He added: “Index funds are usually just like mutual funds, excluded from consideration from a sanctions perspective because the ownership stake per person is incredibly small.”

Snigger

It was supposed to be the most glamorous event of the year, with all the selfie opportunities and flower-crowns a young, gym-bodied social media influencer could dream of. But Fyre Festival, an elite concert event on a deserted island in the Bahamas with tickets priced up to $12,000 has quickly turned into a terrifying B-movie, with flocks of Instagram models forced to seek shelter in an airport after arriving to discover a lack of food, violent locals, appalling accommodation and feral dogs roaming the grounds.

As a result, social media has exploded overnight with tales of Instagram-filtered terror and disappointment, with beautiful festival-goers arriving on the island to discover half-built tents, their luggage being thrown out of the back of a truck, muggers and thieves laying in wait to steal wallets from trust fund kids, unhelpful staff, and “gourmet cuisine” that turned out to be nothing but ham and cheese sandwiches.

So, err, not well organised then?

What a thing to complain about….

MESSAGE TO UBER: HIRING A WALMART EXECUTIVE IS INSULTING TO ALL OF AMERICA’S WORKERS

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Making Change at Walmart Director Randy Parraz issued the following statement in response to Uber’s consideration of former Walmart chief information officer, Karenann Terrell, in its search for a #2 under Chief Executive Travis Kalanick:

“That Uber would consider a former Walmart executive to help in the field of ‘complicated labor and operational structures,’ is not only insulting to the thousands of Americans paid so poorly by Walmart that they rely on government assistance to survive, but is also threatening to the advancement of American wage and job standards as a whole.

So, err, senior female executive doesn’t cut it any more?

Phew, my seat’s safe then

In Brighton we’re working together to oust the Tories. Corbyn and Farron take heed
Caroline Lucas

Last night something remarkable happened in Brighton. Local party members from the Liberal Democrats stood aside in Brighton Pavilion, and the Greens stood down in Brighton Kemptown. People who have spent years campaigning in these places took the decision to put aside party allegiances and work together so we have the best possible chance of delivering a fairer voting system and beating the Tories on 8 June. These choices were not easy, indeed they are acts of political bravery.

Guardian wibble closes comments again

Yep, the moderators had to close comments again:

It’s a story many black women will find familiar. Pain and discomfort endured because we thought it a necessary price to pay for hair that was closer to “good”, flowing, white women’s hair. By telling us that “hair hate is real”, SheaMoisture’s advert took black women’s stories of physical and emotional torment bound up in our hair and served them back to us with a good dose of whitewashing, plus a healthy sprinkling of colourism for added bitterness. This is a company birthed by the recipes of a Liberian woman, but which has plainly erased dark-skinned black women out of a picture of our own making.

Why did no one mention a course of psychiatric help rather than one in journalism?

It’s just so damn predictable, isn’t it? MOAR Europe!

Europe should create a new class of supranational MEPs after Brexit in order to demonstrate that the European project is “alive and kicking”, a high-level EU ministers meeting was told on Thursday.

Under the new plan, the 73 British seats in the European Parliament that will fall vacant after Brexit will be transformed into new seats representing a “a single European constituency”, according to a document submitted to EU’s General Affairs Council in Strasbourg.

The proposal over how to re-allocate the seats, which was tabled by the Italian foreign minister and has been seen by The Daily Telegraph, would enable all the “the European political families to contend them on a trans-national basis”.

First 10 seats on each of the major party lists will be jobs for life. At the disposal of the people running the parties and selecting the candidates of course. The voters won’t even get a look in.

But, you know, more Europe.

Is she dim or lying?

Elizabeth Warren:

In the book, I talk about the revolving door and how people work on Wall Street for 20 years, and then take a spin through the revolving door and work in the Treasury Department, and then spin right back to Wall Street. The giant payouts that they give to people to go work in government are just stunning. I mean, millions of dollars. These big corporations! “If you go teach, we got nothing for you. If you want to go build houses for Habitat for Humanity, we’ll give you a firm handshake. If you’ll go work in government, we’ll write you this giant check to go do that.” What is that, except by way of saying, “Remember us, because you’re going to be the one driving the bus, and when you’re driving the bus, keep in mind all the things we care about.”

I’m really pretty sure that corporations don’t pay people lots of money to go and work in government.

I have a feeling they might pay out on a contractual arrangement when someone leaves to go and join government though. In a manner that they don’t if that same person were to go off and be a high school teacher. You know, because the point and purpose of the arrangements is to retain the labour of the person…..but they’ll make an exception for government.

But that’s not quite what she’s saying, is it?