July 2018

Dawn Foster’s numbers

They just never do work out, do they?

Yet for thousands of families, the six-week school break is characterised not by play schemes and day trips in the sun, but acute financial stress, hunger and malnourishment, due to the absence of free school meals for children on low incomes that costs a family £30-£40 a week.

£30 to £40 a week to feed a child?

OK, let’s say two kids, the UK modal family size.

Aaaaah – she means that school meals cost £3 a day. And poor peeps get them free. So, if there’s no school and people aren’t getting the free meals then that costs them £3 a meal.

Which is unadulterated bollocks of course. But then Foster’s numbers never do add up, do they?

Shame on Molly Scott Cato

So what’s the game? Why would a politician representing the good people of North East Somerset – whose livelihoods depend on the stability of our economy and who would be devastated by the no-deal Brexit he is happy to promote – seemingly behave so irresponsibly? Could it perhaps have something to do with personal economic gain rather than national economic opportunities?

Despicable cow.

We must declare war on Brussels

From the revision of treason paper:

The law should recognise and reinforce the duty of non-betrayal,
both to signal clearly that society views treachery as a distinct assault
on the whole and to punish those who breach the duty, thereby helping
deter those who might otherwise consider breaching it. This duty has
historically been upheld by the law of treason. However, the UK’s law of
treason is ancient law and is now unworkable. The Treason Act 1351 has
been overtaken by changes in modern social and political conditions; it is
not a secure ground on which to mount prosecutions. It stands in contrast
to the law in other common law jurisdictions. The UK needs to update its
laws to make clear that the underlying ethos has not changed – betrayal
is a specific crime against society and one that deserves punishment. At a
minimum, Parliament should reform our law to follow Australia and New
Zealand and thus make it clear that it is unlawful to aid the enemy either
in an international armed conflict or in a non-international armed conflict.

Quite so. Declare war on Brussels, send over a platoon to wave rifles at the Berlaymont and then we get to be all Ecksian on the Remoaners.

Can’t fault it myself.


Ministers are considering a so-called “retirement levy” which would see taxpayers pay a lump sum to the Government in order to meet the spiralling costs of residential and social care in old age.

The proposals would see retirees make a one-off payment into a ‘national care fund’ which would go towards meeting the costs of funding their stay in residential homes, it is understood.

Why not just let people pay a lump sum to an insurance company? Even, finance it over a working life with monthly payments?

Why, we could invent a word for it maybe. Assurance possibly? A pension even?

The secret of the under volcano base

A parasite spread by cats could be the key to being a successful entrepreneur, scientists have concluded.

The discovery suggests there may be a bizarre advantage to being infected by the organism, Toxoplasma gondii.

According to the findings, the single-celled parasite worms its way into the brain and causes personality changes associated with risk-taking.

The white cat causes the excess of entrepreneurialism rather than being a symptom of it.

A thought

Assume MMT. Tax is to reduce inflation.

Taxing incomes reduces inflation. Taxing companies doesn’t – all corporate income is of course income to someone at some point.

Therefore MMT says abolish corporation tax.


The question next assumes that when the government spends it’s at cost to other activity elsewhere in the economy. But this is only true when the economy is at productive full employment. We’re a long way from that right now.

We’ve the highest employment to population ratio since the early 70s, the lowest unemployment rate since about then. We have skills shortages all over the place. We’ve lots of excess capacity, do we?

What does this even mean?

Launching Labour’s campaign to boost manufacturing after Brexit, he is expected to say: “Our exporters should be able to take proper advantage of the one benefit to them that Brexit has already brought, a more competitive pound.

“After the EU referendum result, the pound became more competitive and that should have helped our exporters. But they are being sold out by a lack of a Conservative government industrial plan, which has left our economy far too reliant on imports.”

Jezz Corbyn.

I think we can answer this one, can’t we?

Dangerous liaisons: why syphilis and gonorrhoea have returned to haunt Britain

Clinic appointments fill up in minutes and babies are once again being born with syphilis – what is behind Britain’s sexual health crisis?

People are being insufficiently selective about who they stick it in – or who they allow to do so.

Next question?

But what is ringing alarm bells is a rise in cases of gonorrhoea, up tenfold since 2008, and syphilis, an infection that had virtually been wiped out in Britain but is now running at levels not seen since the second world war. The rise is mainly among men who have sex with men, but not entirely. The Victorian spectre of babies born with syphilis is back, with three newborns infected by their pregnant mothers last year.

“When I started working in an STD clinic in 1988, syphilis had been eradicated in Britain. It took 18 months before I saw a single person with syphilis for the first time. Last week, we saw five or six in a day,” says French, who also works with the British Association of Sexual Health and HIV. “It’s the same with gonorrhoea; it became rather uncommon with the advent of HIV. And now it has become really common. Something really dramatic has happened.”

Yep, lack of selectivity.

Jessica doesn’t seem to quite get this partnership thing

About one in four heterosexual couples that the census looked at had wives that earned more than their husbands. In those cases, though, husbands over-reported their income while their wives under-reported their own. (The census sorted all this out when it matched couple’s answers to their actual IRS filings.)

Now, we can’t know for sure why the exaggeration happens – perhaps couples want to present themselves as more traditional to the census, maybe husbands feel insecure about making less or wives are anxious that their salary difference will “emasculate” their spouse. Whatever the reason, though, it serves as a good reminder that it’s not just political equality we need to fight for – it’s equality in the culture, and our relationships.

If we don’t have parity in our homes, we won’t have it in our country. And if men and women aren’t even comfortable talking about equality, how can we expect anyone to fight for it?

Well, no, living with someone is a constant experiment in compromise. We could even mine Jessica’s past columns for the things that men really should do for the women in their lives. You know, be honest about bum look big in this, compliment the new haircut, have chocolate available one week in four. If in return fragile male egos need a little massaging about who is bringing the cash into the household well, why not? You know, swings and roundabouts?

Dear Lord this is annoying

I’d no more listen to a physicist’s advice on my fertility than I would let a mechanic cut my hair.

You mean you don’t? OK, random rudeness about Guardian columnist’s photos over. This is intensely annoying:

The backlash against birth control apps is growing. Yet, women do need more readily available information about their own fertility, as well as about the side-effects of the contraceptives they are prescribed. Technology appeals because the medical profession too often dismisses and fails women, and has ignored the concerns of many women disenchanted with the side-effects of hormonal contraception. No wonder Silicon Valley steps in, seemingly offering a natural and smart solution that looks – and is – too good to be true.

But doctors should ask why so many women would consider trusting an app over a medical professional, and researchers should look at why so many people are unhappy with the prescribed pills, injections and implants, and work to improve them. All of us emerged blinking into the light from a uterus: fertility should be taken more seriously, and women should be trusted when reporting symptoms and anxieties, rather than be treated as unreliable witnesses and hysterics.

The thing is, anyone who came up with a better form of contraception would make a fortune. In fact, all those people who did come up with marginal improvements on the previous methods did make a fortune. It’s all one of the things that capitalism has done the best that is possible given the current state of technology. It’s even one of the things, under that capitalist impulse to gain pelf and lucre, driving technology along.

Sheesh, we’re all doing the very best we can and yet still complaints?

Just how many numerical errors are there here?

The Torygraph’s subs:

Google owner Alphabet batted off recent clashes with European regulators to post second quarter results which topped expectations, sending its shares surging in after-hours trade.

Excluding the €4.34bn (£3.9bn) fine handed down from the European Commission last week, Alphabet’s earnings per share came in at $11.75 (9p), up from $8.90 a year earlier.

Revenue jumped 26pc to $32.7m, a substantial beat on the $32.17m analysts had been expecting, driven by a 24pc rise in advertising revenue and a 37pc increase in ‘other revenue’, which includes its cloud division.

It’s difficult to know what they got wrong there. Well, obviously, m should be b. But how does $11.75 become 9p? £9.00? There’s some special class of shares worth 100th of a normal one, sorta a reverse ADR?

Or do they just not have subs these days?

You just can’t get the servants these days you know

A Kuwaiti social media star ignited a backlash after criticising a law allowing domestic workers one day off a week, prompting cosmetic brands to sever ties with her.

Sondos Alqattan, a make-up artist, had uploaded a video on social media earlier this month bemoaning new regulations that allow domestic workers a day off every week and the right to keep their passports, which employees often confiscate.

“How can you have a servant at home who has her passport with her?,” Ms Alqattan asked indignantly in a video posted on Instagram to her 2.3 million followers.

“She will have a day off a week, and work six days a week. And of course you won’t know happens on these days, while her passport is with her.”

Imagine that, eh? An entire day off a week?

Snowflakes are simply more emotionally aware

That’s the claim:

The “snowflake generation” of young people who lack resilience does not exist, they are just better at admitting to their feelings, mental health experts have claimed.

In recent years, millennials have been criticised for their over-sensitivity to confrontation and unwillingness to consider controversial or opposing views.

Some universities have even introduced “safe spaces” and “cry closets”, where students can retreat to get away from what has been dubbed “micro-aggression”.

But speaking at a briefing ahead of the British Association for Psychopharmacology summer meeting, experts said that young people are no more emotionally brittle than older generations, they are simply “more likely to talk about anxieties and worries”.

Well, no, not really. The first mistake they make is in being terribly un-English, in talking about their emotions. The second is to think that anyone else gives a shit. Which, of course, they don’t.


But none of this would surprise those troubled by the rise of what “We Were Feminists Once” author Andi Ziesler has called “marketplace feminism”—the belief that female choice and individual self-actualization prove the primary means of achieving equality. “Consumer empowerment dovetailed nicely with third-wave feminism . . .,” Zeisler explains, “and this empowerment was certainly of a piece with the neoliberal ideal in which individuals operate independent of culture and economic influence.”

But in a blown-out, “Lean-in” world where self-branding is the status quo, a woman’s ability to even achieve financial solvency is ever more predicated upon not only what she consumes to fulfill aesthetic expectations, but by how she herself is consumed in both the real and digital spheres. So as much as it may feel “empowering” to Instagram pics of a svelte post-baby body, or upload a luminous headshot to a LinkedIn account, danger lurks when one’s power is based less on the capacity to produce something than project an image of ineffable confidence and economic well-being. In other words, when we privilege capital—or the illusion of such—above all, a woman’s gains are measurable only insofar as her body and labor retain market value.

Stunning finding, eh?

Darwin comes to town: how cities are creating new species
From the nut-cracking crows of Sendai to ‘Turdus urbanicus’ (the new urban blackbird), animals are changing their behaviour and evolution in cities – and in dramatic and surprising ways

The essence of the theory being that random mutations are sorted for fitness to survive by the environment.

So, change the environment and different genetic mutations thrive.

Stunner, eh?

Isn’t that exotic

A teacher at one of the country’s leading boys’ schools has been charged with trying to meet a 13-year-old girl for sex.

Dr Ken Zetie, who taught at St Paul’s School for 17 years, is accused of attempting to arrange the liaison as part of an undercover police sting.

Wouldn’t working at a girls’ school have aided the quest?


To be clear: There is simply no empirical evidence or plausible economic mechanism to support the claim that cutting top tax rates spurs economic growth.

But then Nick Hanauer always has been an idiot, no?

As I’ve been saying

Zuckerberg quickly apologized for his comments, but they did not occur in isolation. The previous day, The Wall Street Journal reported that roughly half the outlets present at a recent meeting between Facebook and publishing executives were conservative outlets, some of which regularly traffic in propaganda and “breathless, bad faith partisan hype,” as BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith told Neil Patel of The Daily Caller, which was represented at the meeting. What Smith and HuffPost’s Lydia Polgreen had objected to was that Facebook was treating legitimate news organizations as the liberal equivalents of conservative rags like The Daily Caller.

The war against fake news is really just “ban those bastards over there” isn’t it? I mean, seriously, HuffPo anything other than a liberal rag?