Just on this very specific point

Some people kicked back on the tweet thread asking, “Why should basic decency be applauded?” These encounters are not examples of brilliance; they are examples of good practice, and shouldn’t be held up as something special.

Because that’s how a society works. Disapproval – from physical chastisement to a raised eyebrow – of things we disapprove of and praise and celebration of those we approve of. Reinforcement of the behavioural patterns we collectively desire.

Exactly the phrasing or action used to reinforce doesn’t matter so much. Some societies use a ticker tape parade to show that approval, others just a muttered well done that man. It’s the same incentive to the behaviour either way.

So consistency isn’t the thing for our Rhiannon then

On Friday Wales began a two-week national “firebreak” Covid lockdown in an attempt to give some breathing space to its health service, which risks being overwhelmed by the rise in cases. It has not been without controversy – a ban on supermarkets selling non-essential items was criticised over the weekend. In the English press, the first minister, Mark Drakeford, and the Welsh government have been labelled as “clowns” who are trying to turn Wales “into a wartime, command economy: East Germany, except not as efficient, and with more sheep” (note the tedious xenophobia).

The criticism over the essential items rule is less about lockdown and more about what individuals consider “essential” during times of crisis (the government has now indicated that supermarkets will be allowed flexibility – hardly the actions of a Soviet dictatorship).

Speaking to friends and family in Wales, most people feel the Welsh government knows what it is doing.

One of the things the Welsh government has done is state that tampax, maxipads and all that wimmins’ stuff, is not an essential item.

Now try to imagine Rhiannon agreeing with that statement if it were not being said or done by Welsh socialists. Quite.

Nice idea but I don’t buy it

Magnus Henrekson, the head of Sweden’s Research Institute of Industrial Economics, points to the country’s lack of any form of wealth tax as a key motivation for entrepreneurs to make and keep their money.

Sure, without a wealth tax there’s more incentive to become wealthy. But there are many places without a wealth tax and not all of them have a start up scene like Sweden.

CGT at 30% when income tax can top 60% (including social charges) might be an incentive. No inheritance tax so dynastic fortunes can be created might help. Being a more free market economy than the UK or US could be a boost too. But the absence of a wealth tax? Naah, that’s too common a feature.

A new scam

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Got to admire the inventiveness if nothing else.

It would be rather a fun job – if I actually knew how to accept Bitcoin, organise spam emailings and all that – writing such appeals. This week protect the trans from JK, last it was BLM and next it’ll be aid elderly VPs in retiring gracefully etc. As I say, it would be rather fun having to be this inventive……

Note the elision

The decline of the journalism business is not being driven by a lack of interest in the news, which is robust, but by the collapse of the advertising-based model that has traditionally paid for news gathering. The problem began two decades ago, when papers started losing classified ads to digital sites like Craigslist and eBay. To compete, print outlets built extensive web operations to tap the growing digital advertising market—only to see that market cornered by two monopolistic tech platforms. By 2018, Google and Facebook were sucking up 58 percent of all digital advertising revenues at the national level, and 77 percent in local markets, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Facebook and Google haven’t monopolised the classifieds. They have taken the display business but that was a different revenue stream for the newspapers anyway. It’s Monster.com, e-Bay (as stated), Craigslist (ditto), Glassdoor and all the rest which have taken the classifieds.

Therefore, if a solution is necessary, it’s one that involves e-Bay, Monster and so on, right?

But if you really want to know what’s going on here:

The Washington Monthly would like to thank Knight Foundation for sponsoring this special issue.

The Knight Foundation being the charitable arm of Knight Ridder – or at least very closely connected – and KR own lots of traditional newspapers.

Spice nationalism

What’s in a name? Plenty, when it comes to asafoetida or “devil’s dung”. The evil-smelling spice is a stink bomb that unquestionably lives up to its moniker. Inhalation at five paces can make someone with a blocked nose stagger back. It has to be stored away from other spices to prevent it overwhelming them. Just a smidgen can cure indigestion. Yet it is a staple in Indian cuisine, adding a certain subtle aroma, pungency and flavour. For the Jain community, whose religion forbids the use of onion and garlic, “hing”, as it is called in India, is a lifesaver for the flavour it adds. Hing is India’s answer to Japan’s umami.

Yet, until now, no one in India has grown the spice.

So, now some has been planted and Huzzah.

Although spice nationalism does sound like a pretty silly thing to be worrying about. Rather ignores the whole benefit of that trade thing….

Previously Indian cooks benefited from the labour of Afghans. Now they won’t. This is an advance how?

Well, OK, but……

An Australian woman has described the “terrifying” experience of being taken off a Qatar Airways flight by authorities who strip-searched passengers as they tried to identify the mother of an infant found in the Doha airport toilets.

Kim Mills was one of nine women taken off a Qatar Airways flight bound for Sydney on 2 October and led through the bowels of the Hamad International airport to what appeared to be a dark carpark or turning circle, where three ambulances were waiting to perform medical examinations to determine if any of the women had recently given birth.

Mills was the only woman not subject to an examination.

“They told me to step forward, to go into the ambulance, and as I stepped forward another officer came round and stood in front of me and said: ‘No, no, you go, you go’,” Mills told Guardian Australia. “And as I was standing there with this officer telling me to go, a young lass came out of the ambulance and she was crying and distraught.

Terrified by not being strip searched seems a bit much.

But let’s try this the other way around. There’s a newborn right there. Abandoned. We tend to think that’s a bad idea. Further, the new mother might actually need medical attention herself. Right. So, how do you work out who the new mother is?


Interesting logic from Kara Swisher here

Prop 8 passed on Election Day in November 2008, the same day that Barack Obama won the presidency. The historic Obama win was overshadowed by the poison of that ballot initiative, especially for my family.

We watched television that night in our house in the Castro neighborhood of San Francisco as election results came in. My then 6-year-old eldest son, upon hearing that Prop 8 had passed, was terrified and asked me whether our entire family — his other mom and I had married in the state years before — was now “illegal.” What a punch to the gut.

So Ms. Swisher was married years before 2008. As I recall her wife was/is a Google exec.

Marriage was not an option for people like me until the Supreme Court affirmed, in a 2015 civil rights case, Obergefell v. Hodges, that same-sex couples have a fundamental constitutional right to marry.

Ms. Swisher was not able to marry another woman until 2015.

Strangely, I’ve rarely rated Ms. Swisher’s journalism.

An interesting way to put it

Mighetto is on the front line of a battle over not just the future of Uber but the gig economy itself. The app-based casual-work industry has become a force in the modern economy. The conflict will come to a head in nine days when a powerful coalition of five gig-economy giants, led by Uber, attempts to rewrite employment law in California. The five have ploughed an astonishing $195m into the campaign.

The companies claim their proposal will ensure flexible working for millions. An oddity of California politics means that if you can gather 623,000 signatures from the state population of 40 million, you can put any measure you want on the ballot. Voters will decide on Proposition 22, as the gig-economy measure is known, on November 3 — the same day they choose the next US president.

If approved, the move would exempt app-based services from a law, passed in 2018 and put into effect in January, that requires them to treat their workers as employees, guaranteeing higher wages and benefits such as paid holidays.

We might even suggest that Uber et al are just trying to return employment law to where it was three years ago.

This new law, as an example, says that if I were to write a column for a California newspaper – you know, normal weekly stuff – then I would have to be an employee of that newspaper or magazine. The idea that freelancing should be banned being more than a little odd…..

Benenden never really was about education

Rather more about training in the social subleties of the English:

The headmistress at a top boarding school has “unreservedly apologised” for using the word “negro” in an assembly as a wave of protests by black pupils against “white privilege” sweeps across schools at the end of Black History Month.

Samantha Price, 46, headmistress at Benenden, the Kent girls’ boarding school where Princess Anne was a pupil, was explaining to pupils the origins of the month in 1926. At the time it was, according to Wikipedia, called “Negro History Week” in America, she said.

Some of the senior girls protested about her use of the word, fearing that other pupils would think they were also entitled to use a word some find as offensive as the n-word.

So, I suppose the standards are being upheld there then.

And boy are these birds going to get a shock when they read Huck Finn.

Interesting complaint

Unknown Warrior likely to be white soldier because of ‘bias’, research suggests
The National Army Museum suggested bias may have influenced the selection of the body whose remains were interred at Westminster Abbey

The British Unknown Soldier might be British.

You don’t say, eh? And that is actually the complaint. All the documents refer to finding a “British” soldier to bury in Westminster Abbey so of course it was racism.

Bill Bailey

That age thing about coppers looking young, judges. Rather worrying when a teenage drinking mukka is the old one on Strictly.


It was the other half of the Rubber Bishops I knew better but still….

Indeed, quite so John

And then there was the shift in judicial thinking about antitrust triggered in the late 1970s by the prominent legal thinker Robert Bork and promulgated by the economics and law faculties of the University of Chicago. The essence of this new philosophy was that the size and dominance of corporations were only a problem if they resulted in consumer harm, inevitably measured by prices. And if the products were “free” (Google, Facebook and Twitter, say), where was the consumer harm?

Guess which argument John Naughton doesn’t try to refute in his piece here?

This is excellent news, isn’t it?

“We call on the UK government to match the pledges of the Welsh and Scottish governments and the Northern Ireland Executive, to continue to provide children from low-income backgrounds with free meals over the coming weeks and to then extend this at least until the Easter school holiday.”

The letter praises Rashford as a “source of inspiration” for his campaign, which continued to attract a groundswell of support last night. Hundreds more businesses have signed up to help provide meals this weekend and scores of councils, including prominent Tory-led authorities, have agreed to fund local programmes.

Given that businesses, local authorities and jus’ plain good folks have stepped up to the plate – the little platoons – there’s no need for central government to do anything, is there?

Why did anyone think this wouldn’t happen?

Earlier parts of the inquiry, which have looked at institutions including the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church, focused on many of the worst-known scandals involving such organisations. It was anticipated that the organised networks strand of the inquiry would examine the most infamous examples of group grooming and exploitation.

Over the past decade, big trials have exposed a previously hidden crime model that involves the systematic targeting and sexual abuse of teenage girls by groups of men who were largely of south Asian origin.

Since 2011, groups have been prosecuted for sex-grooming in towns including Rochdale, Rotherham, Oxford, Telford, Burnley, High Wycombe, Leicester, Dewsbury, Peterborough, Halifax and Newcastle upon Tyne.

The IICSA held two weeks of public hearings for its “organised networks” investigation from late September, and a final day for closing submissions is due to take place on Thursday. It decided to hear no evidence from survivors or those with expert knowledge of the crime pattern.

The inquiry chose instead to select six areas of England and Wales: St Helens, Tower Hamlets in east London, Swansea, Durham, Bristol and Warwickshire “because they represent a range of sizes, demographics and institutional practices”. None of the six has witnessed a major prosecution of a south Asian sex-grooming gang. In all six areas, according to the 2011 national census, the proportion of the population that is of Pakistani origin is lower than the national average.

Henrietta Hill, QC, lead counsel to the inquiry, told the hearing on its opening day that the inquiry “carefully considered the extent to which, if at all, it should focus on areas such as Rochdale, Rotherham and Oxford, all of which have attracted public attention”.

The IICSA decided, she explained, that it was “more appropriate” to focus instead on “different areas, not least because it was intended that this was a forward-looking investigation building on analysis that’s already been done”.

Lions, with fire.

Actually, lions with flamethrowers riding T-Rexs with head mounted laser beams.

The Guardian interviews Owen Jones

Universities must act to eradicate discrimination against working-class students, including the mockery of regional accents, equality campaigners have said.

A Guardian investigation has found widespread evidence of students at some of the country’s leading universities being ridiculed over their accents and backgrounds, in some cases prompting them to leave education.

The analysis found discrimination against working-class students was particularly prevalent among Russell Group universities. The group, which is made up of 24 institutions, has a reputation for academic excellence.

In a series of Guardian interviews, students past and present reported bullying and harassment over their accents and working-class backgrounds. Some said their academic ability was questioned because of the way they spoke.

Young Owen, famously, listening to George Formby records while at Oxford in order to preserve his accent.

Because pensions

Prentii says:
October 23 2020 at 10:22 am
If it is caught by IR35 (and almost all of those roles should be and should have been even prior to public sector contract changes) then there isn’t much tax advantage that I can see to the contractor. The whole £1000-£2000 per day will get netted down after allowing for ER NI, EE NI and PAYE. What it does do is keep this contractor off any employment benefits, including pension.

Many contractors see these conditions as the worst of all worlds – mind you there are plenty who could cope with that indignity for up to 2 big ones a day.

Or can you see how the contractor can game the system?

Richard Murphy says:
October 23 2020 at 10:34 am
But why not employ them then?

Why play a game that is wholly unnecessary and too closely related to tax abuse?

Because pensions, holiday pay, maternity leave and all the rest for a contract that is going to last 5 months…..

Or, as we might put it, if you’re going to make employing someone expensive then you might well want a trapdoor in the system when you want to only employ someone for a few months…..