Archive for July, 2012

My bet is still on October for the Euro to hit the fan.

July 31, 2012

A neat little summary, from FullerMoney of the present political farce of the Eurozone

Let us summarise the problem:

A number of European countries remain in recession, even Germany is at risk of contraction and unemployment remains stubbornly high on the periphery.

The European banking sector is broke.

No one has a clear idea of what the sector’s liabilities are.

To date governments have been too optimistic in their forecasts for earnings potential and not pessimistic enough about the scale of the losses which need to be written off.

While governments agreed to the idea of a central banking authority for the Eurozone last month, the implementation process remains fraught with uncertainty.

Policy across Europe is now focused on deeper integration but politicians are having difficulty convincing electorates of the merits of such moves.

Yes! In many parts of Europe, protests are ongoing but are not getting reported.

Politicians must think the Olympics a god-send.

What will they do when the last story has been chewed over and there’s no meat left on it?

September could be exciting, especially when MP’s get back from their hard-earned rest in October.

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Scientific research is only affordable by Governments and they don’t have the intellect to understand it.

July 30, 2012

Research has always been carried out by people with the funds to indulge their Hobbies.

Most Scientific/Mathematical discoveries have been made by rich men, or sometimes,  those who are patronised by rich men.  Rich men, who shared the hobby but lacked the intellect.

Wartime saw this hobby-led research proving beneficial to the war effort and politicians realised that they should help promote this research, in case the enemy gained an advantage.

During the Cold War the research into rocketry and nuclear missiles became an imperative and spin-offs such as Teflon extended the competitive aspect to the commercial World.

This research had to be put under Political control and, because of its escalating expense, it had to become publicly funded.

It is to be noted that many new Government departments began to spring up around this period, as pressure groups claimed that Science and Technology was being favoured (and justifiably so) over The Arts, etc.

Supporting the Arts, mainly means providing publicly paid for entertainment for the rich (ballet was originally a Victorian equivalent of lap-dancing) but became favoured by politicians as a means of currying favour with the powerful, gaining a facade of intellectual appreciation and providing jobs for supporters  through the setting up of Quangoes under the direction of Government Ministers.

We now, seemingly, have almost as many Government posts as there are MP’s (compare http://www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/content/list-government-departments-and-ministers

with http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conservative_Government_1866%E2%80%931868)

This growth of patronage later lead to a call for cuts in spending, post Glasnost and the re-emergence of Capitalist theory.

But whilst you can slim a department, you can’t cut it.

Public services were cut, whilst a new quango was set up which meant that Scientific and Technological research was required to offer demonstrable benefits. Serendipity wasn’t measurable and so pure research gave way to mechanical research, except in one instance.

CERN is a prime example of pure research which should have gone to the wall but was saved by its Glamour.

Nowadays, Politicians have degenerated into parasites on Society, rather than servants of it.

They have no glamour, themselves, and like to rub shoulders with those who have it.

That is why they keep jetting off to various venues such as Olympics (sports badge), G20 summits (superceding U.N. summits for Peace badge), Carbon treaty summits (superceding whaling quota summits for the Green badge) and inviting Pop stars to dinner (pop culture badge).

The saving grace with CERN is that its research is too expensive for any one country and its Maths is too complex for even the brainiest politician to understand the Janet and John version.

Politicians can throw public money at it and bathe in its glamour, safe in the knowledge that should it prove profitable, they can claim Kudos.

Whilst, if it proves a dry well, they can point to the other foreign politicians that supported it.

Plus, chances are that no-one will be able to understand its function, or cost, well enough to  successfully attack the funding, as they would be able to do with the less glamorous research into fusion energy or space exploration, which have easily understandable dangers.

Why do TV progs keep re-hashing the thesis that Tyrannosaurs were scavengers?

July 30, 2012

TV in search of new shock, horror themes and palaeontologists in search of funding keep throwing the thesis at us that tyrannosaurs were scavengers.

It’s getting “old”.

If Tyrannosaurs were simply scavengers then either there were other species making the kills, or all the animals died of old age.

The last is unlikely because of the convergent evolution principle.

These alternate predators were able to kill the huge herbivores by being pack hunters, or they were large predators themselves.

Either way they should have been able to take on Tyrannosaurs.

So we have a large dinosaur that couldn’t kill its own prey but was able to defend itself (they were around for a very long time).

How?

Was it so fast it could run away?

Were other predators unable to attack it from behind?

Is there any evidence of Tyrannosaurs being attacked by anything other than bigger Tyrannosaurs?

I look at pike and crocodiles and wonder why Tyrannosaurs puny arms are considered to be a significant failing.

The clincher is supposed to be that they had an exceptional sense of smell like hyena’s.

Okay, hyena’s prefer an easy meal but they are still predator’s. and, anyway, so do lions.

Tyrannosaur’s are always pictured in desert terrain. Is that because their bones are found in modern desert terrain?

Personally, I suspect that Tyrannosaurs were jungle predators and attacked from ambush like pike, crocs and kimodo’s.

Also, if they were jungle predator’s then smell would be their most important sense.

If they were ambush predators, then small arms may have been an advantage in allowing a more open vista for the huge head attacking through brush.

Thinking about it; how many predators use their forelimbs in an attack?

How many large predators do we find in modern deserts? (even the Namib lions prefer the peripheral regions).

Someone found that they must have had a good sense of smell and posited the idea that this meant that they were scavengers.

I suspect that this would have happened, not because the researcher actually believed the theory, but, because, since the bean-counters took over deciding who gets research funding, the researcher knew that such sensationalism would attract more funding for him to conduct his hobby.

 

Twits insisting the third verse of the National Anthem to be sung at The Olympics points out that we need a new British Anthem.

July 30, 2012

One consequence of this confusion of identity, through devolution and the rise of Nationalist feeling is that some British athletes are refusing to sing the National Anthem.

No disrespect to Her Majesty, but it is a trite song created from the jingosm of the Victorian Music Halls (apparently derived from a Scottish hymn).

It maybe should be kept for State, or Ceremonial occasions, when we wish to assure Johnny Foreigner that we aren’t being aggressive; particularly in the presence of our Queen. (not sure about Charles)

The National Anthem doesn’t stir the emotions, especially when the twits of the Olympic committee insist on adding the banal third verse.

Men of Harlech, Scotland The Brave, Land of Hope and Glory, The Marseillaise, Deutschland Uber Alles are all stirring tunes that encourage the tribalism and emotional impetus to do well in sporting events and other contests..

If we are to have a British song, for the Olympics, then let’s have something that commemorates our joint efforts in two World Wars and the creation of The British Empire.

It needs to be something that can be sung with gusto, with rising crescendo’s.

Something that says “we’re better than you”.

But for God’s sake don’t let it be some be a wishy-washy, discordant diplomatic piece of poetic nonsense, like so many modern foreign national anthems; ” we like our country it has nice hills, a lovely wise leader, we’ll be nice to visitor’s”.

It shouldn’t a “Youf” inspired piece; especially Rap style rubbish.

It shouldn’t be a mismatch like “the Star spangled banner” , which has a great tune but crippled lyrics that most have difficulty remembering and often makes a mockery of the centrepiece of “The Superbowl”.

I’m English but I’m also British (and a bit Irish and a bit Welsh and few other odds and sods)

July 30, 2012

My nephew, Shaun, posted this to me on facebook:

Love this explanation of Nationality from the BBC website;
 “The English are British and lots of people think the British are English but that annoys the Scottish and Welsh because although some think they’re British and some think they aren’t and some think they are but don’t want to be, they all agree that they definitely are not English. The Irish mostly think they are Irish, apart from the ones who are Northern Irish. Some say that makes them British and Irish. But others disagree and say they should just be Irish and then some say they aren’t British either but part of the United Kingdom. People from England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland can all play cricket for England because they’re British as can those from Ireland even though they aren’t British. So can South Africans. The English play football for England unless they aren’t that good when they might try to play for Ireland.”

The resurgence of Nationalism, on these  islands does seem strange, when so much of our blood is mixed.

I understand the wish to know who you are, to know your roots (as per Alex Haley) but people can over-identify with their local group.

Personally, I revel in the successes of LFC (Istanbul was special) and  I’ll feel pleased about whatever Olympic medals Britain manages to garner, even though I won’t be watching them win them.

However; we need to bear in mind that we are a mix of different blood lines.  I liked that Danny Boyle included Danny Boy in his British pageant, acknowledging that many of us Brits have Irish blood, as well as English Welsh, Cornish and Scots. I regard myself as English by virtue of my birthplace and my upbringing but I am aware that I can’t disown my ancestry and that it goes right back to Eve, in Africa.

Some thoughts on ancestry. I recall reading that all the people living in Wales are mainly Anglo-Saxon, in respect of their DNA. People in Scotland and Northern England have a preponderance of Viking (Danish and Swedish) DNA. The English that we speak is derived from the language of the inhabitants of the Faroe Islands (Germans). Welsh (the original, as opposed to the modern invented Welsh) was thought to originate in the Middle East. In fact all European languages originate in India.

Why aren’t Afro-Americans just Americans. Many have more European genes than African ones, it’s just that African genes tend to be more dominant. One shade lighter and Obama would have difficulty classing himself as Afro-.

For me, it’s me and mine, whether blood kin, or adopted. Those links spread out becoming more tenuous but going as far as Human over Tiger and Tiger over Snake.

Patriotism and even Racism are innate to all of us.

We should accept that, as fact, but moderate it.

If you read any anthropological studies, the common theme is that you don’t attack strangers for being strangers but you unite against strangers, who attack those with whom you  have strong, unbroken links.

Where does Vince Cable stand on Europe? @Nigel_Farage @LibDems.

July 25, 2012

Reading Vince Cable’s speech to The European Parliament

(http://www.libdems.org.uk/news_detail.aspx?title=Vince_Cable_delivers_keynote_speech_to_European_Parliament&pPK=86e1bfcc-c51e-420c-9b66-b16bd79aeea2),

I get the impression of a man who believes that the European ideal is viable and admirable and rightly based on supporting Business.

Cable subscribes to the European Superstate and to free market forces.

He seems to believe that the many faults of the European superstate, as it exists, are merely a transitional state to a Democratic World Power.

My impression is of a man, who having ascribed to The Common Market, has succumbed to the blandishments of the Eurocrats and the monetarists.

A man who may have once believed in the rights of the Common Man but has been seduced into regarding him as a sacrificial pawn in the greater scheme.

A man who, despite the continued protectionist policies of The French, still believes that The French can be persuaded to put European interests ahead of their own Nationalist interests.

(This is a man, who has lived through the decades of their Common Agricultural Policy, destruction of our Fisheries, butter mountains, milk Lakes, embargo on New Zealand lamb and other Commonwealth Goods (alienating us from our former dependencies, whilst claiming that theirs are part of France itself), straight banana’s, De Gaulle’s “Non”, De Gaulle’s trade war with the USA, The insistence on maintaining Strasbourg, the sale of Exocet missiles and Mirage Jets, during the Falkands War build-up and numerous other examples including the blockades and destruction of British goods at Channel ports, under the watchful eyes of The Gendarmerie).

His words of “hope”, “urge” and “friendly exchange” suggest that he thinks that reason can prevail in our dealings within Europe.

That reason can prevail in terms of ending the abundant corruption of the European Parliament, which, seemingly has never had its accounts approved.

That reason can prevail in getting the Superstate to agree to the same austerity measures that are being asked of its Member States.

That reason can prevail in persuading elected politicians to deliver up their electorate to a legislative regime that is more profitable for Business interests. (i.e. repeal legislation against longer working hours and lower retirement ages).

It is being mooted that the next Government could be a coalition between Ed Miliband’s New Labour and a Vince Cable led Lib Dem (Cleggie having taken up a sinecure in the European Superstate).

So, as only 5% voted for UKIP, we seem destined to become a vassal of either Germany, or, as the French presumably believe, The French.

No wonder Scotland wants to jump ship.

@Daily_Express Ann Widdecombe’s column gives us a valuable insight into the mindset of The Tory Party

July 25, 2012

I find it increasingly difficult to believe that Ann Widdecombe was a Cabinet Minister, who had graduated from Oxford.

Her column today begins with the assertion that we are all being unfair to banker’s and priests.

The two groups are not comparable, in that the charges levelled against priests are directed at specific front line priests. Condemnation of their superiors is based on their covering up the crimes of their front-line personnel.

With banker’s the situation is almost the reverse.

Here the criminal acts are being committed at the top level, not by your local branch manager or front-line cashier.

Here the crimes are occurring at the banker’s equivalent of The Vatican.

Her defence of Bob Diamond is based on the assertion that the problem lay with a few rogue trader’s, although all the reports, in your paper, have indicated that they were members of a culture of such behaviour and that this behaviour was possibly endemic throughout the whole banking sector.

I’m sure, based on past articles, that Ann would be quick to assert that Bob Diamond deserves his huge salary and bonuses, because of the responsibility that he bears.

What responibility could that be, when she denies that he could possibly be aware of how his hired help (who hired them, or the people who hired the hirer’s?) misbehaved?

She ventures further, into the money laundering scandal, and asks that we (who have to offer up passwords, proofs of identity and details of our inside leg measurement’s just to speak to one of their call centre’s) believe that Higher echelon bank officials asked the same questions of the men offering them suitcases of cash.

I’m sure that most people like myself have an image of the banker looking only at the cash and thinking Ker-ching!

In our present economic circumstances, it is difficult to think “banker”, without adding the adjective “greedy”.

Her brief muddying of the situation by comparing bank’s with hospitals doesn’t really work very well, in view of the numerous stories and exposé’s of how Hospital Trust Administrator’s are over-riding the clinical decisions of their medically trained hired help.

And how crass to offer, as a plea, how much of our money The Bank’s give to charity .

Hhow crass to try and excuse their behaviour by reminding us of how much the banking sector brings into the Economy, as if an honest banking sector couldn’t be just as profitable and as if this money was her clinching argument for consenting to drop any moral argument.

Again, Ann pushes on with her worship of the profit motive by discussing the refusal of private refuse collection firms to wheel wheelie bins to their refuse collection wagons.

She adds this scandal to the lists of Health and Safety fiasco’s, blithely side-stepping the fact that the original reason for the refusal has more to do with privatisation of refuse collection and the acceptance of the lowest tender.

This is not about strong and healthy male employee’s (I’ve not noticed any geriatrics or 16yr old girls doing the job) putting their Health at risk.

It’s about the time and cost of operatives walking an extra 2 yards per house.

It’s about Time and motion,

It’s about piecework.

I doubt very much if their employer’s give two pins for the health of the operatives, so long as it doesn’t cut into their profits.

Finally, she has a go at us for not being patriotic.

She condemn’s us for not rejoicing in The Olympics, in the same way as we welcomed the Jubilee celebrations and The Royal wedding celebrations.

Presumably Ann has her tickets to the Olympic VIP lounge’s, if she wishes them.

We, the public, have paid far more for the Olympics than for our contributions to those other events, mentioned.

We, the public, were also given an open invitation to view the spectacles associated with those other events.

Not so The Olympics.

Outside of London The Olympics are just another 20-odd BBC channels, which we are paying for.

Within London, they are an extra few hours a day on the daily commute.

Yes!  Some people were able to afford Some tickets and yes, they were actually lucky to enough to get tickets.

Some were, even, lucky to get tickets to the events that they particularly wished to see.

Apparently, having a relative competing in an event wasn’t as important as having the right contacts.

The jaundiced view, from where I sit, is that this is a jolly for politicians, corporate sponsorship’s, politician’s and P.R.’s, with merchandise to promote.

Again with another crass observation from Ann:

The security risks are dreadful but no more than during other huge events including the Jubilee”

Really?

The Queen (or the tax payer) shelled out £56 million to G4S to provide security?

Were thousand’s of extra troops called in to protect the Royal Barge?

Were missile sites set up to protect The Cathedral?

The only good comment that I can make about her column is that it gives an insight into the thinking of the people, with whom Ann socialises.

The people in charge of this country.

@number10gov where our pension funds are going.

July 24, 2012

Another piece from Fullermoney. If you want to know where your pension money is going, look no further.

Politician’s scrambling to  keep the Euro gravy train running , are doing so by throwing by feeding your money into the maws of these people:

Hedge Fund Places Faith in Euro Zone – This is an interesting article by Nelson Schwartz for The New York Times. Here is a sample:

  Now, even as Europe’s economic problems worsen and the markets punish giants like Spain and Italy, Mr. Lasry is betting on a long-term comeback for the Continent. This month, his hedge fund, Avenue Capital, finished raising nearly $3 billion for a fund that will invest in the debt of troubled European companies.

 He has committed roughly $75 million of his own money to the new fund. That’s still a small part of his estimated $1.3 billion fortune, but Mr. Lasry is among a coterie of hedge fund and private equity managers who are gambling that the euro zone will stay intact and revive over the long run.

 Besides Avenue, Blackstone and Kohlberg Kravis Roberts plan to buy assets in Europe and in some cases already have done so, as have other well-known money managers like Leon Black of Apollo Global Management.

 Not that Mr. Lasry is expecting a quick turnaround for Europe. “It’s not a three-month bet or a six-month bet,” he said. “It’s a three- to five-year bet.”

 Last week, renewed worries about Spain’s ability to keep borrowing sent stocks in Europe tumbling and sparked about a 1 percent decline Friday on Wall Street, though the major United States indexes were up slightly for the week. Mr. Lasry and Richard P. Furst, a senior portfolio manager at Avenue who directs the European strategy, say they expect worries about the Continent to keep rattling the markets, creating buying opportunities for the new fund.

 So far, Mr. Lasry and Mr. Furst have put 25 percent to 30 percent of the fund to work, deploying an additional 5 percent or so each month.

 “We could invest the whole fund today but you want to average in,” said Mr. Furst. “There will be relief rallies, but when the fear comes back in, we buy.”

 The two money managers are using the broader fears about Europe to load up on troubled debt of companies in healthier countries in the region. The biggest chunk of the new fund’s assets have been invested in Britain, followed by France, with purchases in Sweden and other northern European nations, as well.

 They are avoiding Greece, the country where the euro zone crisis began, and the home of one of their more notable mistakes, a losing bet in 2010 on the debt of a Greek casino operator in an earlier European fund. That position has steadily lost value as Greece’s outlook has deteriorated. Mr. Lasry and Mr. Furst are also steering clear of troubled giants like Spain and Italy.

 Instead, they see opportunity as banks in Europe come under pressure from regulators to shrink their balance sheets and unload debt at deep discounts. Financial institutions also are focusing on home markets, prompting Italian and Spanish banks, for example, to sell off debt from other countries.

My view – I believe Warren Buffett is doing the same thing, on the basis that whatever happens to the euro, Europe will still be there.

 Wealth is created in down markets and realised in up markets.

#occupy what are the politician’s trying to achieve? or are they just well educated moron’s?

July 22, 2012

A friend of mine becomes extremely passionate about issues and can descend  into vulgar, obscene language and vile imagery, when expressing his views.

Unfortunately, this is a switch-off  to anyone chancing on one of his pieces of vitriol.

At the base of his words is usually a sentiment that is worthy of airing, even if it is ultimately rejected.

Basically I’m saying that his views are not being listened to because his passion overwhelms his appreciation of what people are prepared to stomach.

Not many people  will bend down to pick up a penny. Even fewer will dip their hands into a heap of excrement (note the euphemism) to retrieve it.

What I’m saying is not that my friend needs to moderate his Tourette’s style diatribes but that even the vilest person needs to be heard.

My friend is strongly anti-Nazi and has actively confronted them.

My concern is that mainstream politicians throughout Europe are ignoring these people and their antagonists at their peril.

The Fascists are feeding on public anxieties about lack of Law and Order, increasing austerity and lack of employment (as occurred inthe 30’s).

These are situations presently being fostered by our political master’s.

The only wat to stop this new tide of Fascism is not by opposing it, as my friend does, but by removing the policies that are feeding it.

Politicians need to hear the message concealed beneath the vitriol and respond in a responsible manner.

Unless, that is, it is their  deliberate intention to bring about the breakdown in Society that was the precursor to both the Russian and French revolution’s.

ACLU is fighting the three strike rule.

July 22, 2012

The ACLU is fighting a piece of legislation that will bring the “three strikes rule” into another State’s legislsation.

I can understand the wish to push this legislation , i.e. to stop releasing persistent offenders, from prison, to prey on the Public again..

I can also understand the ACLU’s horror of its enactment.

The theme has cropped up in US TV progs, where two-time-losers are blackmailed by dirty cops, or supposed friends, into serious criminal or dangerous acts.

Usually the third felony is something trivial, but the punishment has escalated from a two month sentence, or even a fine, into a life sentence, because of the three strikes rule.

This seems a absurdly simple solution , so maybe I’m missing something, but why not make the third ( and fourth etc.) strike rule be a simple doubling of any mandatory sentence.

E.g. a a $5 fine becomes a $10 fine.

A 5-year sentence becomes a 10-year sentence.

It breaks down at State execution but I think even the most rabid right-winger would be content with killing someone just the once.