Tim Worstall

This should be fairly easy

That task joins a long list of priorities: Democrats have to pass a bill on government funding by February 18 in order to avoid a government shutdown; they are trying to complete work on an update to the Electoral Count Act and a bill aimed at increasing the US’s competitiveness with China in the next few weeks; and they hope to restart talks on their massive climate and social spending initiative, the Build Back Better Act,

Stop trying to pass BBB and increase the US competetiveness with China….

Something very human about this

When electronic screen trading took off in the 1980s, Tullett resisted, aware of how much he used to learn from tones of voice. “The screen gives you the price,” he said, “but the voice gives you the market.”

No, not at all that we should all be old fuddie duddies. Rather, we humans have evolved with other humans as our main competitors in everything. We’ve thus become very good – really, very good indeed, whatever women say about their husbands – at reading other human beings.

Again, it’s not that direct interaction gives you tells as to what’s really going on, it’s that we’ve evolved to spot the tells….

Sounds perfectly sensible to me

Leading climate scientists have ridiculed and criticised comments made by controversial Canadian psychologist and author Jordan Peterson during an interview on Joe Rogan’s podcast.

During a new four-hour interview on Spotify’s most popular podcast, Peterson – who is not an expert on climate change – claimed that models used to forecast the future state of the climate couldn’t be relied on.

Peterson told Rogan that because the climate was so complex, it couldn’t be accurately modelled.

He said: “Another problem that bedevils climate modelling, too, which is that as you stretch out the models across time, the errors increase radically. And so maybe you can predict out a week or three weeks or a month or a year, but the farther out you predict, the more your model is in error.

“And that’s a huge problem when you’re trying to model over 100 years because the errors compound just like interest.”

Peterson said that if the climate was “about everything” then “your models aren’t right” because they couldn’t include everything.

This doesn’t sound sensible.

“He seems to think we model the future climate the same way we do the weather. He sounds intelligent, but he’s completely wrong.

“He has no frickin’ idea,” she said.

Different models produce different outputs. Different assumptions put into the same models produce different outputs. We have no one model, with fully known interactions, which all accept as being valid.

Different runs of the same model produce varied outputs.

We have a range, that is, of answers, not the one true and valid one. What Peterson has said is entirely true.

Not, really, quite true

“Spike wrote 250 episodes of The Goon Show in a 10-year period,” says Newman. “In every series, there are many, many references to the war. Pretty much after that, he stops – and in his later work, hardly mentions it again.”

Sorta missing the books there, no?

Is this how they get rid of Kamala?

Joe Biden is under pressure to nominate the first African American woman to the US Supreme Court, after it emerged one of its three liberal justices plans to retire within months.

Hmm:

Patty Murray, a senior Democratic senator, said she trusted Mr Biden would put forward an “exceptional nominee” who will “break barriers and make history”.

Well, that ensures it won’t be Screechy K.

And yet the Dems do have a problem. Ms. Screech is the heir apparent and is in pole position to run after Joe goes to meet his senior diapers. But no D with any sense desires her to be the actual candidate, given how the performance will pan out. So, stick her over onto the SC and clean up aisle 7 that way.

Thing is, are even the Dems that cynical?

The definition of sexism seems to have got a bit weird

Konta groans. “As a woman, you start getting to a certain age, hitting certain milestones and then it is straightaway assumed – ‘okay, well, when’s the baby coming?’” she says, flatly.

Umm, yes?

Taking the decision to retire at the relatively young age of 30, and after indicating in previous interviews she had no intention of playing on tour as a mother, Konta understands there is “no malice” intended in the question. But she does query whether it exposes a double standard. “I don’t think it’s done with any harm, but it would be nice to talk about my career and things like that – like my male counterparts in the sport,” she says.

“I’m not sure they’re asking Rafa Nadal when he was finally going to marry his girlfriend before he did, or when he is going to have kids.”

That we are a sexually dimorphic species, viviparian, mammal, does make the question of rather more salience for one half of the species than the other.

In a first interview since retiring, the former British No 1 reflects on sexism,

Note that it’s the weasels at the Telegraph who call this sexism…..

Not sure about this

Raising National Insurance contributions will lead to higher prices in the shops, a report by MPs has warned Boris Johnson.

The Commons Treasury Committee says that the planned increase in April risks driving up inflation while the country grapples with a cost of living crisis.

Standard analysis would say that sellers, being profit maximisers, would already have pushed prices up as far as they can go. Wages are sticky downwards, therefore profits will take the first hit. But that hit itself will lower the gains to be made from employing people. So, fewer people will be employed. At which point nominal wages might not fall, but real wages will not rise as they might have done. Also, fewer people will be employed than without the rise – therefore wages also take that second hit.

Eventually the system reaches equilibrium, the net effect being that profit margins return to whatever rate employs all the capital and all the people but at a lower wage rate than in the absence of the NI rises.

So, where’s the gap for prices to rise?

Leave ‘im Tim! ‘Ee’s not worf it!

The programme set out to say that the rich got richer, and it succeeded in making clear that this was the objective of the Bank of England and the 2010 government, but beyond that little was added to understanding. Call it an opportunity lost, if you like. I will still, however, watch the second programme when it comes out even if I have a little expectation that it will really seek to answer the question that the program should have addressed, which is why this was allowed to happen.

Sigh.

The entire aim was to increase the price of assets. So as to reduce the yield on safe assets. Thereby pushing investors out along the risk curve in search of yield. That was the announced plan, the intended one and the performed plan.

Why does he still not understand this a dozen years later?

Just a little though about miners

I’m testing something elsewhere but still a little point about the mining of minor metals.

Clearly, supply anything and you’ve got to be slightly worried about all the other suppliers. OK, you’re a wheat farmer and one more wheat farmer doesn’t;t change very much. An entire country getting it right for the first time in a century – Ukraine exported wheat under the Tsars, does independently, but couldn’t under the Soviets – does make a difference.

So, with many minor metals it doesn’t take much to upset the price applecart. China restricted rare earth exports in 2010, Lynas and Molycorp both opened up and both effectively (Lynas only needed a recapitalisation) the one killed the other. The market might have supported one but not both that is.

So, graphite, hot new thing for the battery market. But how many people are going to go mining for it? Which might be a problem for one of those miners, Tirupati Graphite:

How many other people are prospecting for, financing, opening graphite mines? Note that this one mine is 5 to 7% of global demand. Tirupati’s profitability is going to depend upon how many other people also add 5 or 7% of global demand to global production.

You don’t need that many mines each at 5% of global d[production to rather change that supply and demand calculation, do you?

Never sure whether the lippy effect actually exists

There’s an idea out there called “The Lippy Effect”. Which is that when times are hard folk will give up on those now out of reach luxuries and will substitute down to something that’s just a small luxury. This can be large enough – sorta Jevons Paradox effect even if not really – that sales of the small luxury can rise in those hard times.

The intuition coming from the idea that women who can’t have the new outfit, the full cut and hair pamper, might go for a wash and blow dry, or perhaps a new lipstick just to pamper in the manner that can be afforded.

Elsewhere I’ve wondered whether this might be true of booze as well when talking about Diageo:

There’s also something called “The Lippy Effect” which is derived, of all things, from female behaviour in recessions. This is that often enough lipstick sales actually go up as those of fashion, handbags and so on go down. The observation being that we all desire a little luxury, a little pampering, and if we can’t have it on big and major things then we’ll take a little bit of it by buying smaller yet premium items. It’s easy enough to see how this could happen with spirits. That luxury of better whisky for a few pounds more when the tens or hundreds of pounds to spend aren’t available. As long as things don’t get so bad we’re all back to bathtub gin of course.

The thing I’m not really sure about is the Lippy Effect itself. Sure, I’ve heard it said but I’ve a vague memory of seeing someone scouring the figures and showing that it doesn’t actually happen.

As to booze it’s possible. If the pub is out of reach financially then might we upgrade the home consumption? Dunno to be honest….

So, err, move it north?

Rising temperatures caused by the escalating climate crisis mean future Winter Olympics will struggle to find host cities with enough snow and ice, according to a study.

Only one of 21 previous Winter Olympics locations would be able to reliably host the Games in future if global greenhouse gas emissions remain on their current trajectory, the report says.

The European Union are indeed idiots, why do you ask?

At least 100,000 “ghost flights” could be flown across Europe this winter because of EU airport slot usage rules, according to analysis by Greenpeace.

The deserted, unnecessary or unprofitable flights are intended to allow airlines to keep their takeoff and landing runway rights in major airports, but they could also generate up to 2.1 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions – or as much as 1.4 million average petrol or diesel cars emit in a year – Greenpeace says.

“The EU Commission requiring airlines to fly empty planes to meet an arbitrary quota is not only polluting, but extremely hypocritical given their climate rhetoric,” said Herwig Schuster, a spokesperson for Greenpeace’s European Mobility for All campaign.

Not that we normally side with Greenpeace around here but this is indeed just stupid.

Even if the practice is good in normal times – no one can buy up slots, then not use them, creating a cartel or monopoly, in exceptional times the rules do need to be changed.

And that’s the thing that the EU – hell, the entire idea of Roman Law – is terrible at, changing in the face of changed circumstances. Because everything is determined by law then some variation in reality requires a change in the law. Rather than folks just reacting to reality and getting on with it.

And reality is always changing, which is why the detailed regulatory state gets worse and worse over time.

Cheap cloggies

The move came after an investigation by Dutch broadcaster NOS revealed VU’s Cross Cultural Human Rights Centre (CCHRC) had received between €250,000 (£210,000) and €300,000 each year from the Chinese institution in 2018, 2019 and 2020.

NOS reported that the CCHRC has used the money to fund a regular newsletter, organise seminars and maintain its website, which has published a number of articles denouncing criticism of China’s human rights record.

A number of academics with ties to CCHRC even visited four cities in the Xinjiang province and concluded there was “definitely no discrimination of Uyghurs or other minorities in the region”.

Would our Holland and the Brabants correspondent care to tell us of the local reaction to this? Pah, what should we expect from academics, cheap or what? Or outrage?

Isn’t this terrible surprise

Traditional phrases sent to the knacker’s yard as most under-50s no longer use them

Like science, languages advance one death at a time…..

“It would seem that many of the phrases which were once commonplace in Britain are seldom used nowadays.”

Err yes:

Wepyng and waylyng, care and oother sorwe
I knowe ynogh, on even and a-morwe,’
Quod the Marchant, ‘and so doon oother mo
That wedded been.

Well, no, not really

A “heroic driver” who intervened to try to prevent a mother of two being stabbed to death should not be charged with murder, the victim’s family said on Tuesday.

Yasmin “Wafah” Chkaifi, 43, was killed just a few minutes away from her home on a busy road outside the entrance to a park in Maida Vale, west London, on Monday morning.

A 26-year-old motorist is alleged to have run over and killed the suspected knifeman, Leon McCaskre, during the assault, before being arrested on suspicion of murder. He has since been released on bail.

The knifeman, who was Ms Chkaifi’s ex-partner, was said to have been crushed beneath the wheels of the Renault Clio while “begging for help”.

That’s not how it works. Or, sorry, not how I think it should work.

It’s pretty clear he killed the bloke. It’s pretty clear there was at least some forethought to it. He’s not claiming his hand just slipped on the wheel after all.

So, there’s a case for a murder charge there. Who gets to decide whether he’s guilty of it or not? The jury, that’s what they’re therefore. So, trial and see what they say.

Good way to choose a career

Invalided out of the Marines, he had no idea of what career to pursue until one day when wandering down London’s Gower Street he noticed a parade of young women entering the door of a building and decided to follow them. It was Rada, and he immediately signed up and joined an intake that included Peter O’Toole, Alan Bates and Glenda Jackson.

As with a story about an accountant. So, why did you decide to get into film accounting?

Well, the rejects from the business are still above average totty….