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Detailed management is difficult

Wedding guests will have to keep face masks on during the ceremony despite being allowed to remove them during the reception, under Nicola Sturgeon’s “nonsensical” changes to Covid restrictions.

At the reception they will eat and drink so obviously, no masks.

But it’s an interesting exemplar of the base contention – detailed management of society is difficult, isn’t it? Possibly so difficult that we’d better not try it?

This is fun

More than 50 companies dealing in cryptocurrencies could be forced to shut after failing to comply with UK anti-money laundering rules.

The City watchdog said an “unprecedented number” of crypto firms are withdrawing applications from a temporary permit scheme that allowed companies to continue trading while their applications were being assessed.

The Financial Conduct Authority said: “A significantly high number of businesses are not meeting the required standards under the money laundering regulations resulting in an unprecedented number of businesses withdrawing their applications.”

All those know your customer, know their source of funds etc rules.

Not that I think that Bitcoin et al are the new revolution but it’s being strangled by bureaucracy all the same.

Suppose we can’t really call him a twat, can we?

Will Young has threatened to report The Grand Tour to Ofcom over its alleged “homophobic” content.

The pop star accused the Amazon Prime motoring show – hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond – of making “repulsive” jokes at the expense of the LGBT community.

During the latest episode of the show, the trio drive through Colombia, with Clarkson in a Jeep. His co-hosts suggests the vehicle is for gay people, with Hammond suggesting Clarkson needs a new grooming routine and a change of clothes.

He said: “Maybe some nice chaps. Suede but ventilated at the back.” Later, The Weather Girls’ hit It’s Raining Men plays from the Jeep’s stereo.

After raising concerns over the episode on Twitter, openly gay Young said on Tuesday evening he had received no response from Amazon, so industry regulator Ofcom “beckons”.

That’s a rather, erm, expansive meaning of the word homophobia, isn’t it? I mean sure, “hate the pooftie shirtlifters who’ll all get AIDs” might be something we’d prefer TV shows weren’t beaming into homes. But a very mild joke indeed about chaps?

Which, one should note, the point of which is that they are all ventilated at the back, that’s the difference between them and trousers anyway.

This sort of level of whining is as if the actress and Bishop stuff is anti-clerical. Or even luvviephobic.

He added: “Enough is enough and I’m pissed and fed up. I want Amazonprime and the producers of grand tour to meet young lgbt who want to kill themselves because of shaming and laughter and normalising of shaming homophobic narratives.

“Your time is up and it’s time to take a stand. Is there a legal case ? Who knows . ……. watch this space.”

Young, who rose to fame after winning Pop Idol, said the show was guilty of stereotyping.

He said: “I DON’T drive a Wrangler Jeep. I DON’T wear pink shirts . I DON’T wear arseless chaps. You can be honest and funny without this ridiculous ‘lad’ ooh being gay and let’s laugh about it mentality . It’s repulsive and how DARE you do it and put it out @PrimeVideo.”

Get a life matey.

Well, no, not really

Residential streets should be blocked off to prevent smart apps turning sleepy roads into polluted rat runs, campaigners have said.

People living in the quiet areas between main roads are being increasingly plagued with jams and accidents because software like Waze, or Apple Maps which direct motorists into back streets to avoid traffic.

Already some areas of London have begun trialling ‘Mini-Holland’ schemes, in which roads are blocked off with bollards so that they can only be accessed by motorists who live there.

Road space is a scarce resource. That’s why we have congestion.

The apps make use of other road space. Space that exists already, but which is being underutilised. This is an increase in capacity utilisation, an increase in the Solow Residual, therefore it makes us all richer.

Far from wanting to stop this we want to encourage people to use them.

So who was it who agreed to build that multiple gallows?

Devastated parents have hit out at ‘disgusting’ council red tape after they were refused planning permission for their children’s Wendy house.
Michael Heron and Jenna Hulme spent £239 on the play area for their one-year-old daughter Remie and four-year-old son Jacob, and put it in their front garden.
But bosses at Oldham Council have ruled that the toy is an ‘unacceptable development’.

Whoever it is, could you please hurry up with the construction?

Best line of the day

Re that report that says that smoking breaks cause £ billions in losses.

Even if smoking breaks reduced productivity, it would – strictly speaking – be an externality created by smoking bans, not smoking per se.

That lad Snowdon’s pretty good, y’know?

Well, yes, of course I agree with this line of thinking

Most, of course, are simply trying to protect consumers. But is that strictly necessary? Have we really taken leave of our senses? We are all perfectly capable of using the equipment we possess, along with common sense, to take responsibility for ourselves. Both sniffing and examining fresh ingredients is a perfectly reliable way to tell if it something has deteriorated too far. The olfactory memory is an excellent device and can instantly summon the scent of fresh chicken to compare with one that smells a bit iffy. We are alerted by a stench, attracted by a ripe odour and seduced by fragrant aroma. Smell, discolouration and shape tell us much.

It\’s just that this line of thinking seems to contrary to the current zeitgeist. Which is of course that manufacturers of any and everything have to be rigidly controlled by bureaucratic laws or they will poison us all in our beds.

Vide my favourite EU law, the jams, jellies, marmalades and sweet chestnut purees one, which lays down the allowable composition of compotes for 500 million people. Including the delightful assertion that carrots are fruit.

The problem is here that we human beings are really rather good at playing repeat games. We see this all the time in that new field of behavioural economics: we\’ll punish people, at our own cost, if they make what we consider an unfair division of the spoils. When we\’ve an activity, an interaction, which is repeated multiple times these social methods of controlling the propensity of others to cheat work very well: they\’re baked into us as a species. It\’s what explains why brands work, they\’re a signal of continued trustworthiness. It\’s trivially easy for such a brand to be destroyed if and as when the collective experience turns against it (see Ratner, G.) and it is thus something which is rigorously protected by not allowing quality to fall and thus damage said brand.

We human beings are also not so good at playing not repeat games. The once off purchases in life, the ones where the payoff comes many years into hte future, these we\’re not so good at. A pension for example. Which is of course why those who would sell us such products work so damn hard to have an image, a brand, of probity and reliability.

But all of this added together tells us that the rational form of consumer protection is to have a sliding scale of it. From, at the routine end of life, not very much at all in a regulatory sense: let humans be humans there. Allow exactly that human behaviour, experience, at repeat games, to do the product sorting. At the other end, with those once off decisions that we\’re more likely to get wrong, pensions, wills, probate, more regulation is just fine.

One of the things wrong with the modern world is that to an extent we do this exactly the wrong way around. We have rigid bureaucratic rules governing those day to day products like jam and leave the really big decisions to professional reputations. You know, if someone screws up probate, by definition a once in a lifetime event, it\’s the Law Society that you complain to about their not following professional standards…..



Blimey, a sensible government decision on smoking

This is a surprise:

The government\’s \”nudge unit\” wants to encourage the use of smokeless nicotine cigarettes, banned in many countries around the world, in an attempt to reduce the numbers killed in the UK by smoking diseases each year.

The Cabinet Office\’s behavioural insight team – better known as the nudge unit – wants to adopt the new technology because policy officials believe the rigid \”quit or die\” approach to smoking advice no longer works. Rather, they want nicotine addiction to be managed to help smokers who otherwise won\’t quit – an approach the unit believes could prevent millions of smoking deaths. Ten million people in the UK smoke, and smoking claims 80,000 lives a year.

Cue hysteria from ASH in 3…2…1…

Excuse me, but yes, I would like to hang them all

Allotment holders have been banned from donating home-grown vegetables and jam to local hospice – because the gifts breach health and safety rules

No, you\’re still allowed to donate for the patients to eat: after all, they are already dying. No, it\’s this:

For years amateur gardeners at Botcherby Paddock, Carlisle, have donated their produce to Eden Valley Hospice to sell at its city centre shops.

But hospice managers told them this week they would not take any more because it contravened health regulations.

And in detail:

The Food Standards Agency\’s Food Labelling Regulations insist that packaged products sold regularly to the public must have stated on them: the name of the food; a list of ingredients in descending weight order; percentages to show what proportion of the food each ingredient make up; a best before or use by date; storage instructions; name and address of the manufacturer, packer or seller; \’how-to-use\’ instructions and place of origin.

The FSA said: \”The rules don\’t apply to food that isn\’t prepared as part of a business. So this means that most food being sold for charity won\’t need to be labelled, including food sold at one-off events such as church fetes and school fairs.

\”But if you regularly sell packaged food for charity, for example, jars of jam or boxed cakes, you might have to follow the regulations.\”

Now yes, these are EU regulations and no, there\’s nothing we can do about it. But it\’s not (solely) the EU that is the target or cause of my ire here.

There really are people (people that is, not that mutant race known as bureuacrats) who really do believe that all of life must be labelled. Organised, regulated, \”acceptable\”.

To such there is no room at all for the messy variability of small scale production, of experimentation, of innovation (see the precautionary principle for more examples of this). There\’s no room in their world view for peeps simply to be peeps.

And I say the hell with the lot of them. They can take their monstrous regimentation and clutch it to their shrivelled breasts as we throttle them slowly from the lamp posts.

There is a lady here in her 90s who has made jam for the hospice for years and she is devastated.

What the hell is wrong with these people? Fuck off and go and catalogue your paperclip collection and stop treating people as things to be catalogued.

A note on Britain today

A PUB landlord who was jailed for defying the smoking ban says he was allowed to light up in his cell.

Nick Hogan, 43, claims he was even given tobacco, cigarette papers and matches by prison officers.

He got six months after refusing to pay fines for flouting the 2007 ban.

And he was stunned to be given cigs by staff at Forest Bank jail, Manchester.

Interesting country really. You can smoke in a jail cell but not in a pub.

Heck, you can smoke in the jail cell to which you are sentenced for allowing people to smoke in a pub.

There\’s just some nagging little voice at the back of my head insisting that this isn\’t quite right, you know?

This new invisible explosive

About this Flight 253 thing:

Abdulmutallab, the privately-educated son of one of Nigeria’s most prominent bankers, managed to smuggle his bomb aboard the aircraft by strapping a condom filled with the high explosive PETN to the inside of his leg and then attempting to detonate it using a syringe filled with a liquid chemical. The PETN powder caught fire but did not explode, sparing the lives of all those on board.

Investigators are worried that AQAP has developed what is effectively an “undetectable bomb” involving PETN that can only be found by using expensive and intrusive full body scanners at airports, with huge implications for airport security.

PETN ain\’t new. First World War German uses are known for example.

But skimming the Wikipedia page I don\’t see that it\’s really all that much of a problem. OK, so there\’s this liquid used to ignite it.


You still need two things. You need an actual explosion, not a fizzle. And (and this is where I could be very wrong) usually an explosion isn\’t caused actually by the explosive. It\’s caused by the containment of the explosive. Set off a pile of gunpowder and you get an interesting fizzle. Contain the gunpowder and as it burns, the pressure rises, then you get the explosion from the bursting of the containment.

The second thing you need is that liquid. And how much liquid are you allowed to take into a cabin these days?

Quite, So how much explosive can you set off with your 100 ml? Even if you can contain it are you going to get anything more than an interesting pop?

I agree that I could be wildly wrong here and that this is simply mildly informed speculation. But might we not be in a situation where the system really is working? The current regulations mean that even if PETN is undetectable, the restrictions on liquids mean that no one\’s going to be able to get enough together and explode it on a plane to actually do any damage?

Oooooh, lovely!

Can\’t you just feel the incomes policy coming?

But there is growing support to restrict bumper pay in financial services. A hearing in Brussels this week was told by one witness that \”in the same way that remuneration and fees structures caused the risks within the banks\”, the high levels of pay within hedge funds and private equity also posed a threat.

What a nice back door that is.

Anyone want to try a watertight legal definition of \”private equity\”? One that captures people like John Moulson at Apax Partners, but doesn\’t capture me investing my money in a private company which I also manage?


Modern day eugenics

Count yourself lucky dear.

A heavily pregnant woman and her fiance have gone on the run after social workers threatened to take away their baby at birth.

Kerry Robertson, 17, and Mark McDougall, 25, had been told that she was not bright enough to raise their child and that they would have to give him up.

It\’s not all that long ago that the caring sharing lefties would have happily sterilised you rather than allow you to reproduce.

This is all very interesting

But entirely futile:

The research released to mark Alcohol Awareness Week this week coincides with another report which found that alcohol is being sold for as little as 9p per unit. It means that three pints (six units) could be bought for 54pence, approximately the cost of a Mars bar.

Professor Martin Plant, lead author of the work said: “The UK has been experiencing an epidemic of alcohol-related health and social problems that is remarkable by international standards.

“This could be done by introducing a minimum unit price of 50p which would cut alcohol-related hospital admissions, crimes and absence days from work.

For these puritanical prodnoses seem not to understand where the power actually resides in our modern society.

A minimum alcohol price would be illegal under EU rules. Doesn\’t matter what Westminster says or does, it cannot happen therefore.

I don\’t believe you!

Certainly, at this stage I don\’t believe you.

Early results of a study commissioned by the Department of Health revealed heart attack rates dropped by about a tenthin England in the year after the ban was introduced in July 2007.

Separate research found an even sharper decrease – 14 per cent – in Scotland, where the ban was imposed a year earlier. Another study in Wales is expected to reveal similar results.

As I recall that Scottish study was very much cherry picking the data, wasn\’t it? One town only and the results were well within random variation? Or is that an American study about the same sort of thing that I\’m thinking about?

Anyone who actually knows their health stats care to comment?

What excellent news!

The latest statistics indicate that, between March and May this year, a record 927,000 individuals were working fewer than 30 hours a week because they could not find a full-time job, a rise of 38 per cent on last year. The figures include new employees who have been hired on a part-time basis and existing staff who have been offered reduced hours.

Isn\’t that wonderful?

Think of all those work life balances being tipped towards more life and less work!

Entirely disregard the point that this is involuntary: the proles don\’t know what\’s good for them anyway, as is proven by the way that so many insist that we should not work more than 48 hours proves.

After all, if we\’re all too dim to work out our own life/work balance, as all too many insist we are, then whether it\’s the law or economic circumstance which leads to it being determined for us makes little difference, does it? It\’s still all to the good that we spend more time with our families, building community feeling, rather than working for the man and filthy lucre, isn\’t it?

Banning tobacco displays

Alan Johnson told us that the display of tobacco products will be banned. It worked in Iceland at reducing teenage smoking rates so it will work here.

Hmm. Gosh, I wonder if the statistics hold up there?

Umm. No.

The statistics don\’t hold up. Such a surprise, eh? Government Minister lying to the public. Big news, eh?

Teenage smoking rates have been falling everywhere in recent times. In those places which did not ban tobacco displays and in those places which did.

Oh do bugger off would you?

The snack vans, often found in busy lay-bys, must now offer soup, salads or low fat yogurts with their artery-clogging kebabs.

They must also limit the amount of mayonnaise served – because it has been branded a "very high fat product".

Environmental health officers will inspect menus during routine hygiene checks.

And traders who fail to meet the strict new standards in Guildford, Surrey, will be refused a street trader\’s licence when it comes up for renewal each year.

Councillors at Guildford Borough Council this week reviewed their street traders policy for the first time in seven years and insisted every menu has at least one healthy option.

I am, of course, all in favour of diversity of provision. That there are hundreds if not thousands of different things with which we can, to taste, assuage our hunger/stuff our gobs.

But there are two ways of having that diversity. We can insist, as above, that each individual outlet provides a diverse menu. Or we can have a number of different outlets, each creating their own menu, the diversity coming from the fact that each menu will be different.

Consumers can thus eat healthily (to the extent that the docter in Woody Allen\’s "Sleeper" was wrong) by choosing which outlet to eat at rather than forcing each menu to offer them that option.

I would prefer that latter method of gaining the diversity we all applaud. Unfortunately it doesn\’t offer an opportunity for tax funded council prodnoses to interfere, so of course it won\’t be the method adopted.

Hang them, hang them high!

Karl Walker was told by a cleaning firm that he is not old enough to use hot water, washing up liquid and furniture polish or to empty bins.

The AS-level student and a friend were hired by Apollo Cleaning and worked in offices in Chippenham, Wiltshire, for a week until a regional manager ordered them to stop. The firm says it is following government guidelines by insisting on safety clearance.

At 16, Karl is old enough to join the Army and fire a gun, play the lottery, have sex legally and get married, but the firm said he required special permission to use cleaning equipment, including vacuum cleaners.

Karl, who is studying for four AS levels, said: "I just don\’t understand what is going on. How can I be too young to use a vacuum cleaner? It is so stupid. I want to earn a living."

His mother Susan, 47, said: "My son is legally old enough to get married or join the Army yet these people think he is too young to be able to hoover up. The entire situation is a joke."

Is there actually anything else that can be said about this other than hunt down the cretins who imposed this law upon us and kill them? Clean up the gene pool? Rid ourselves of those swimming in the shallow end?