Thursday, 31 December 2009

Happy New Year

As we end the noughties 

And as the teens begin

I resolve to be less haughty: 

Less righteousness, more sin. 

How To 'Fix' The Sunday Morning Shows
I think you miss the point. These shows are not about facts, they are about opinion: first, the opinion of the interviewer and then the opinion of the guest, if there is time.   Facts are only used to support pre-held opinions and, so, can be made up on the spot by both sides. 
      Since the purpose of the show is winning arguments, rather than exploring ideas or having a conversation to discover anything new, checking facts seems a bit churlish. It is just a post-facto test of how well one side or the other invents on their feet - i.e.  just another way of deciding who won the argument.
Latest Public Option Concession Comes Into Focus
What do we lose with state-based exchanges?
1) buying power, to get costs down
2) government jobs, to run each state exchange
3) political patronage, appointing friends to state insurance commissions
       However, there is a compromise that solves all 3: have state-based exchanges but allow people to buy insurance out of state (on any state exchange). As people flock to the best value-for-money insurers, larger pools can spread risk better and bring costs down. Since no government or bureaucracy ever reduces staff just because work load goes down, state government jobs and patronage will be unchanged.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Leading article: The lessons of Flight 253
"The most shocking aspect of the whole case" is that NONE of the new "security" procedures would have made the slightest difference to Abdulmutallab. He would have walked/sat through them all and still ignited his bomb.
      However, neither politicians, government agencies or airlines can be seen to do nothing in the face of a media incident, so these new measures are ones that have been waiting in the wings for a publication trigger.
      Here's an assignment for the budding investigative reporter: what other "security" measures are in the queue, waiting for the next media-covered incident?

PS: What would have helped?  Profiling might have, but that is doubtful. Following their own procedures: e.g. being extremely thorough - with a minute examination of everyone on a watch list - would have.
The failure here is not panic myopia: prohibiting nail scissors with a 1-inch blade while allowing 6-inch sharpened pencils. The failure is not being thorough before any passengers arrive at security screening

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Windfall for Blairs as Sedgefield home sells
How is it a windfall? They bought it, then sold it a quarter-century later for more than they paid for it - just as most sensible property investors have done for generations. Does the Independent now consider all profit to be windfall? Indeed, if the Indie figures are correct, they seem to have just recouped their capital and paid off their mortgage,
Biodome plan will bring Congo to Cheshire
Orwellian Newspeak had_it wrote Thursday, 24 December 2009 at 01:53 pm (UTC)
Sanctuary for endangered animals - does that mean prisons are sanctuaries for endangered people?
Unesco criticised over dictator's $300,000 prize
Cheap at twice the price had_it wrote:  Thursday, 24 December 2009 at 01:57 pm (UTC)
Hey, for 30 years of oppression, that's only 10k per year. Oppression usually costs a lot more than that.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

FDIC Strangely Resembling A Private Investor
Well, that's a step in the right direction then.
Balloon Boy Prosecutor Seeks Maximum Sentence
How much jail time did the media get for blasting this story to the front of the news?
Smokers find haven on Tokyo's smoke-free streets
A first step had_it wrote: Wednesday, 23 December 2009 at 09:45 pm (UTC)
Now if we can just get obese people off the streets as well. On-the-spot fines might work here too.

Monday, 21 December 2009

Pay deals for public sector fat cats need justifying
Pretty easy fomula had_it wrote:Monday, 21 December 2009 at 11:51 am (UTC)
Just present the average wage in the department or agency concerned and ask the candidate - publicly - how many times this average worker's wage s/he thinks s/he should get.  
Healthcare reform reaches US Senate
Tragedy - or an amusing mistake? had_it wrote:Monday, 21 December 2009 at 11:45 am (UTC)
When we listen to presidential candidates make promises about what they will do if elected, anyone who has worked or lobbied anywhere the US legislature just laughs. They know that the president can't do any of those things. Only congress can pass laws - and they will only pass laws that will bring them a personal benefit and not hurt their re-election chances.

"the White House failed to hold out for more radical measures that the president promised during his soaring election campaign" If the white house wanted to do this, they would be holding out for a long, long, long time.
Teacher sacked for offering to pray for sick pupil
One strike and you're out had_it wrote: Monday, 21 December 2009 at 11:34 am (UTC)
    I hold no brief for silly superstition, but I would hope that this instance was merely an excuse to get rid of a supply teacher that was not up to snuff in other regards.
    If not, if the policy is actually to stop using a supply teacher on the first mistake, I despair of supply teachers ever improving.
    If she is any good as a teacher, help her to understand what she did wrong, get her to agree not to do it again, then send her back out,
China stands accused of wrecking global deal
We lucked out had_it wrote: Monday, 21 December 2009 at 11:23 am (UTC)
While China and the US got slammed, the EU (the world's 3rd largest polluter) barely copped a mention. The EU got exactly what it wanted: no reductions targets with consequences, and the chance to play holier than thou

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Thousands spend night trapped in Channel Tunnel
Philippe Serna from Lincolnshire: "The journey was very long but it was fine to be honest just boring, frustrating and a bit stuffy."
What a sensible man. Whiners please take note.
Eastern Britain warned of more snow
Rail and Road Chaos had_it wrote: Saturday, 19 December 2009 at 04:02 pm (UTC)
Hey, give the authorities a break. After all, winter only happens once a year - we can't expect the bureaucrats to plan for an event that is so rare, can we?.
China is a country that dislikes being told what to do
Gee, and most of us like it so much
Prince Charles and the looming constitutional crisis
Shut up King had_it wrote: Saturday, 19 December 2009 at 03:49 pm (UTC)
How dare he act like a human being when we (unwrittenly) require an automaton.

80 MPs revolt against ruling to repay expense claims
Good for them had_it wrote: Saturday, 19 December 2009 at 03:56 pm (UTC)
Either we have a rule of law or we do not. Retroactive changesto compensation would have any trade union out in the streets.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Bonus row heats up as RBS says it must pay
Missing the point  had_it wrote Wednesday, 16 December 2009 at 10:39 am (UTC)
"under the Companies Act each director must act in the way he considers would be most likely to promote the success of RBS for the benefit of our shareholders as a whole."
     The government thinks it no longer is required to run RBS in the best interest of the shareholders, since the shareholders are now the taxpayers. Now the government can run the bank in the interest of getting elected and the taxpayer/shareholders can go hang.

Johnson building an army of private police
Keep coersion nationalised.  had_it wrote:Weds, 16 Dec 2009 at 10:05 am (UTC)
Police are meant to be a coercive arm of the state - using the threat of force and other menaces to extort taxes & licence fees, and actual force to make citizens to behave in certain ways. Private police forces can be used to do the same thing: the mafia is a good example.
Newspapers victorious in battle to protect sources
Good decision [info]had_it wrote: Wednesday, 16 December 2009 at 09:54 am (UTC)
Although I agree with the EU decision to overturn UK sovereignty on this issue, there is one small, niggling caveat: did the papers have to disclose how much their source made by short-selling the stocks before s/he leaked the information?

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Wall Street Shorting the Dollar
Shorting is trivial; small change. The real problem comes from interest rates.
Banks can borrow here for 1% and invest in countries that pay 5%.
Given that option, what would you

COP 15: Accepting Responsibility

Imagine you live in a community that has garbage collection. The landfills are almost full and somethng must change if the town is not to drown in its own garbage. The less well off say that the richest 20% must cut their amount of garbage by 50% - recycling the other 50% by themselves. Meanwhile, the 80% less well off will be allowed to continue increasing the amount of garbage they put out for collection (albeit at a slower rate) and the richer citizens should pay them a fee for not increasing their garbage output faster than they did the year before. This fee will not relate to the amount of decrease in their garbage growth nor will it relate to the amount of recycling that the less affluent do: it will be a flat transfer of money that they say they will spend on recycling and garbage reduction - but if they do not, they will not have to pay it back. That's the G77 position.

Monday, 14 December 2009

Hopes of global emissions deal at Copenhagen fade
Plus ca change [info]had_it wrote:Monday, 14 December 2009 at 10:18 am (UTC)
So nothing has changed - everyone wants to reduce greenhouse gasses as long as someone else pays for it. Pretty much like the average household then.
Leading article: Speeding into the future?

There is a difference  [info]had_it wrote:  Monday, 14 December 2009 at 10:03 am (UTC)
I am all for investing in rail, but I am strongly opposed to having my tax dollars supporting fares - especially the fares of commuters into London.   That is just a straight subsidy of their lifestyle choices.
Keep government investment confined to the infrastructure and let the consumers pay for themselves.

The cruelty of locking up child asylum-seekers
Let these people go!  [info]had_it wrote: Monday, 14 December 2009 at 09:58 am (UTC)
These children (along with their parents) should be released on their own recognisance in their home country to await the decision on their case in the UK.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

How Homeopathic Medicines Work: Nanopharmacology At Its Best
This is not only wrong, it is dangerous:  Not only does it promote the placebo effect as all that is needed, it also promotes the idea that a pill can solve all mental and physical health issues.
Patients should be able to sue for medical malpractice all homeopaths who do not deliver on their promises.

Does Death Exist? New Theory Says 'No'
This is not a scientific theory. To present it as such is disengenuous.
In fact it is pseudo-scientific babble.  It is  too vaguely presented to determine whether it even has anything to add to the philosophy of reality and perception.
Does Death Exist? New Theory Says 'No'
This is pseudo-scientific babble, NOT a scientific theory. To present it as such is either a silly grade-school level mistake or a deliberate lie. As a contribution to the philosophy of reality and perception, it might be germane, but is too vaguely expressed to decide either way.

Friday, 11 December 2009

Spending squeeze for NHS
Sounds like healthcare industry: they get more tax-payer money but say they are being squeezed
MPs who have – and those who have not
Only the wealthy will be MPs?  That is true already. If poor people get elected to Parliament, they are no longer poor.
The problem with relatively low remuneration (though still generous compared to UK average incomes) is that the best and the brightest run, not walk, to the nearest exit. Parliament will not become richer, it will become ever more mediocre.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Has the internet brought us together or driven us apart? are we losing our culture?
The short answer is: Yes.
Just as the printing press led to the loss of theocracy and divine right monarchy (and some say memory)
Radio led to the loss of ships at sea disappearing without a trace (and some say the ability to entertain oneself)
TV led to the loss of candidates being chosen in smoke-filled back rooms (and some say imagination)
      Every new overlay of invention loses some things that are good and some that are bad and changes many of the rest.   There is only one way to deal with this phenomenon: get over it.
Synchronised bombings kill 46 in Pakistan
They stay on course  had_it wrote  Tuesday, 8 December 2009 at 02:41 pm (UTC)
Once again the Taliban murder innocent Muslim women and children, as is their policy.
When will there be a jihad against this stain on Islam?
I will pay more tax because I haven't found Mr Right?
All targeted taxes are discrimination.
Progressive income tax is discrimination against those who make more money.
Fuel taxes are discrimination against people who drive a lot.
Rebates on hybrid vehicles are discrimination in favour of those who drive green.
Family allowances are discrimination in favour of those who have children
You just don't like the government discriminating in favour of two-parent families.

As the research show that children in two-parent families do better than those in one-parent families, this discrimination seems to serve a legitimate government purpose - whether or not you or I agree with it. 
So to whine about discrimination makes you no different than the bankers who oppose the super-tax on bonuses.
America Needs Jobs Bill, Federal Deficit Shouldn't Stand in the Way
Too right, Bob. Let our children and grandchildren pay for us to return to the lifestyle we have come to expect as a right.
We Are Now in a Crucial Moment
"borrowing money from China to buy oil from the Persian Gulf, and then burn it in ways that destroy the planet. Every bit of that’s got to change."
        Yes, Al, but it is hard. The Chinese want to lend so we will buy their goods, Persian Gulf states want to sell because they have little other income, and the bankers make a profit on every leg of the cycle that they do not want to give up. Finally, politicians feel they can't live without the campaign contributions from the importers, the oil companies and the banks. 
        Good luck breaking this impasse and let us know if there is something you think that Joe Public can do to help.

Monday, 7 December 2009

Look on the bright side had_it wrote: Monday, 7 December 2009 at 04:52 pm (local)
The best way to reduce carbon emissions is to reduce the population of the planet by 10-20%.
If serious (+4 degrees C) climate change actually does come, the rising sea levels, water conflict  and falling agri-production should accomplish this nicely. Problem solved.
Big squeeze hits middle classes and rich
Try to remember   had_it wrote: Monday, 7 December 2009 at 04:20 pm (UTC)
The poor in Britain, including unemployed single mums, are incredibly wealthy by world standards, being in the top 30% of the world by possessions and consumption
    The middle class in Britain are in the top 10% of the worlds most affluent people.
    The rich - the top 1% - are much of a muchness world-wide. (OK, they will now have only 9 times more money than they can sensibly spend, as opposed to the 10 times more they had before the latest crisis.)
MoD 'did not want to breach privacy of detainee'
Sorry?  had_it wrote: Monday, 7 December 2009 at 04:24 pm (UTC)
"the British government has taken no steps over the past five years to ensure that they receive legal assistance" If the British government is responsible for providing legal assistance to every enemy soldier it captures, either war will become far too expensive for the country to wage or there will be an increase in 'take no prisoners' actions.
New world disorder: The age of uncertainty
Financial inevitability had_it wrote:  Monday, 7 December 2009 at 04:40 pm (UTC)
It was not just the arrogant incompetence of G.W. Bush.
There was no way that America could prosper while paying for the defence of Europe and Asia for the past 60 years. Had the US, like China, ploughed it's money into industry, instead of the defence of others, it would not be about to be overtaken economically. True, it could be argued that - by buying American debt - it was actually China and OPEC that paid for the defence of Europe and Asia. But the USA still has to repay that debt, so it's economic fall is inevitable.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

The scandal of invisible harassment
This problem has gone unreported for years. 
Journalists and their efforts should rightly be placed under scrutiny. 
Those not doing enough should face legal action.

Anti-Surge Lawmakers Write Letter Of Opposition To Obama
These three had a their chance and put their point of view. After considering their views and those of many others, the Commander in Chief made a decision - so shut up and soldier.

Will Not Testify About Gatecrashing Salahis

Dear Congress
Get off of this silly season stuff and get on with your real job. 
This investigation, including figuring out how to fix the problem, can be handled by any low-level bureaucrat. So stop grandstanding and get back to work.

Lou Dobbs: 'Who The Hell Does This President Think He Is?'

He is the man the American people elected as their president, Lou.  
Who the hell are you?

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Mortgage Modification: Bank Bailouts By Another Name?

Let's look at it another way: Some people borrow 500k to buy stocks and bonds, because they believe the hype that the markets are good long-term investments. Their investments are now underwater (worth less than they paid for them). These people would be better off giving the banks their stocks to write off the loan, then rent them back (buy options). What government support can they get?

Afghanistan: Obama Drops The Other Shoe

Was the Monty Python Holy Grail option (Run Away!) not even considered? 
How could they not contemplate having all  the UN forces simply abandon  moderate Afghan men and all Afghan women to their fates?