Friday, 30 December 2016

Imaginative News Flash

The Right On Ms Justine Greening, Secretary of State for Equalities and a few other things of lesser importance, such as Education, will announce in the New Year the abolition of aunts and uncles.

These words no longer fit into the word structures, formerly language, deployed in the current verbal and written interactions employed as forms of communication between sentient beings.

Hitherto persons who were defined in terms of being an "aunt" or "uncle" will be termed Siblings Of DNA Source, or SODS in short. All aunts and uncles will therefore become SODS on 1st January 2017 by regulations issued under the Royal Prerogative.

Breaches of these regulations will be referred to a Tribunal which will specialise in Sods Law. Those found guilty will be required to give community service in orphanages.

This is likely to be followed by similar provisions for persons once said to be parents, mums and dads, mothers and fathers. They are to be defined as DNA Origin Providing Entities, or DOPES, in short.

The Government press release states that these measures are consistent with 21st Century culture, thinking and lifestyles.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Football Fodder

The notion that man is what he eats has been around for a time now. Its application in sport in no secret and has had many and various fads and diets of one sort or another in the past.

During the high days of Liverpool F.C. under Bill Shankly in the 60's and 70's he insisted on steak, chips and peas in quantity before matches and it is possible it did help when playing against teams of that era who were more given to liquid lunches. Things have moved on.

A new regime at the club under Jurgen Klopp has the usual fierce trainer for the action. But there is a skilled nutritionist in place who has persuaded the players that proper and wise eating can do wonders.

It is a longish but clear article from the New York Times and might give you cause to think. Mona Nemmer came from Munich in Bavaria and has ways of making them eat, even salads. Footballers eating greens, whatever next, organic fresh foods? Apparently, times do change so watch this space.

In a way, we have been here before. In the late 1940's after the War when rationing was very tight, especially for meat etc. the Liverpool team went over to America to tour in the summer and put as much quality food down them as possible before the English season began.

Also, it is alleged, they brought back a lot that was frozen and one of the local cold stores was forever Liverpool. This was not strictly legal, but as the employees there had their cut, literally, nothing was said. My uncle, when I stayed with his family, might come home with lamb chops and would advise me that discretion was paramount.

The 1946-47 Division One, then the top Division, Champions were Liverpool, picture above, Bob Paisley is by the goalkeeper.

Will the fans soon be singing "Chew on, chew on..." instead of "Walk on, walk on......"?

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Flogging Dead Horses

It was strange. On Thursday the 22nd December we had an hour of Radio 3 dealing with Sergei Prokofiev and the problems he had during the Stalin regime with his opera "War And Peace" through the Committees of Culture and their ideas of political correctness. He survived but many intellectuals were being liquidated.

Then we went to BBC1 TV for an hour of "Who Do You Think You Are?", the family history show, this one starred Riccy Tomlinson, the actor comedian. The way in which his story was handled by the BBC would have done any hard line Stalinist proud. Riccy, for those who do not know it is heavy on his Scouser, that is Liverpool, image.

The programme did tell me is that his family history is parallel to mine. He had forebears who were carters and so did I at the same time and in the same streets. He had an ancestor family whose father did young leaving them in dire poverty, so did I. He had an ancestor family living in one of the overcrowded courts off Scotland Road and so did I.

One part of the programme with the stamp of Stalin was that it was said that in Liverpool there was a great divide. Prod's there and in these jobs, Cat's there and in other jobs. Then in 1911 came a Leader, of sorts. A Marxist, Tom Mann, who led the Liverpool Great Transport Strike gave a speech to 100,000 men and at a stroke ended the divide. The workers were united in a common cause and became as one forever.

Except it didn't. T.P O'Connor continued to be voted in as an Irish Nationalist M.P. for the Liverpool Scotland constituency until 1929 and in others it was accepted that a good many worker's votes would be for a Unionist candidate. The divisions continued, strict for some, less so for others, and were still there in the 1940's in my memory.

But the agents for change were not Marxist organisers and speakers. They were the new films and music fashions. The big new dance halls took anyone and everyone as did the cinemas. Then there were two world wars, that went unmentioned. In WW1 tens of thousands volunteered and went to the trenches together. Their chaplains worked jointly, especially in no man's land.

In WW2 Hitler flattened many of the slums which certainly brought people together. You did not ask which faith had which air raid shelter. Then came the Yanks, hundreds of thousands of them through and many around Liverpool. Forget the media depiction. The ones we knew where young, polite and decent men and doing their duty, reinforced by what they saw around them.

To return to 1911 and the late 19th Century, the important bit that the BBC did not mention was that there were major problems in Ireland and therefore in Liverpool as the Nationalists were pressing for change. There was a good deal of violence and what we call now terrorism.

Also in that period the Government did not simply send in the troops. Firstly, any local magistrates and police authority facing civil disorder etc. that it could not cope with could request the local volunteer or reserve military for assistance. If that was not enough  then the Home Secretary would be asked for other assistance.

If it looked dangerous then regular troops would be ordered in. In Liverpool, given the large Irish Nationalist element with some looking for real trouble, violence and major damage to property would have been inevitable.

The Liberal Government Home Secretary was Winston Churchill and Prime Ministerial approval was needed as well as the agreement of the War Minister and the Admiralty, as a ship was ordered to The Mersey. Churchill was cavalry and well aware that putting down riots etc. won many more votes than lost them, especially if they were minority communist and nationalist inspired.

But back to the carting. The BBC could have mentioned that road haulage in the late 19th Century before the age of oil had its structural complexities and in Liverpool was not just about the docks. Firstly, to my mind, there were all those breweries and pubs. However, economically, there were the railways and Liverpool had a lot of them with extensive goods yards.

In the 1960's The Scaffold had a hit song, "Thank You Very Much For The Aintree Iron", which referred to the huge goods and coal yards just over the Liverpool boundary. The programme had a part, said to be in Everton where they overlooked the sea suggesting that the Tomlinson family had "moved up."

Well, it was uphill and the view to the docks was over Bootle. which is not Liverpool. Also Walton beyond Everton was an ideal place for a carting business to be. Easier access all round and closer to sources of forage. As Wellington insisted, no forage, no horses, no horses, no victory. Checking out the detail the population structure on that patch was much the same as on the Scotland Road.

It was at Aintree in the 1860's that Thomas Ferrier did a spell as a railway guard. His son, William, who became a teacher, was born there although they returned to Blackburn soon after. William was the father of Kathleen Ferrier. The BBC did not mention this and "Our Kath" with her broad vowels and bonnet making grandmother is much too posh for them these days.

Also, up in Everton in the 1860's and into the 70's round the corner was a man who became one of the giants of show business, Leslie Stuart, born Thomas Augustine Barrett in 1863, see Wikipedia. The name change was necessary because when he began another Thomas Barrett was famous. Among the many and various show hits he had were other songs, "Soldiers Of The Queen" for one.

Then there is William Godfrey, later Cardinal, Apostolic Delegate, Archbishop of Westminster and formerly Archbishop of Liverpool, see Wikipedia, born in 1889 to the carting family of Godfrey's, a little above mine and Riccy's perhaps. These were cart owners and had teams of their own and were located close to mine and the Tomlinson's, who may have been among their carters or were clients.

A horse and cart was a major investment with heavy running costs, beyond most ordinary carters. It was not an easy trade as the cutting below from the Preston Herald of 25 May 1889 shows. The man killed was George Godfrey, his second son William, the future Cardinal was born five months after his death.

So there we have it, a programme claimed to be reuniting celebrities of the present with at least some of their families of the past. But the past is another place and the people there not quite what we may like or identify with. You can try to put it simply but that has its risks. What I do not understand is the risk the BBC took with the year 1911.

I have posted on this subject before. In the centre of Liverpool that year is the Hitler family working in a Lyons teashop and did Adolf drop in for a few days? Errr, nationalisms? Socialism? Great Leaders and mass movements? Lyons was a tad pricey for most ordinary families, with or without a slice of nice Victoria Sponge, so might not have been patronised by any of our families.

But there might be another part of our mutual heritage. I have mentioned before that in 1881 Karl Marx had Edwin Willis of the leading organ makers as a next door neighbour in London . The Willis firm had a factory in Liverpool close to my and Riccy's forebears. There was a good deal of carting to be done for them.

So pull out all the stops Riccy, I'll hum it and you can sing it.

Monday, 26 December 2016

Retail Retreat

We did not go shopping last week.

We are not going shopping this week.

We shall not be going shopping next week.

Have a nice day.

Saturday, 24 December 2016

Seasonal Grouching

Sometimes I wonder if the whole Christmas and New Year thing would be a great deal cheaper and easier were we to trot along to the local gaol along the road, knock on the door and ask for admission.

I would be quite happy to biff a warder on the nose if that was the only way. It is not easy however. It seems that to get to gaol you have to upset a "snowflake" rather than any of the old robbing banks etc. options.

The 19th Century cartoon, above, tells us that none of this is really new. But there may be a chance, there is a Maserati on the car park.

If I could get into it............

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Dirty German Overalls

If you do not understand the title of this item, just try humming the tune. What is it about the leaders of Germany and their aides that mean that they have ideas which they insist on regardless of facts, consequences or the effects on ordinary people?

Possibly they still hanker for the days of the Holy Roman Empire which wasn't either Holy or Roman, it was Germanic and bent on absolute earthly power. They may have worshiped saints but as one historian, who I have forgotten, remarked, they acted like the devil.

At present we have the Empress Angela who has ruled supreme. It is said that one of the major financial institutions which is her pride is the Deutsche Bank, which carping critics claim is in such a bad way that it might bring down if not the European then perhaps the world monetary system.

Another financial institution close to her heart is the Euro project. This was intended to be the Deutsche Mark writ large, a currency controlled by Germany to enable and enhance its supremacy in Europe. The key to this to persuade others was to have, in theory, a currency without the usual supervision but under indirect political control.

The result of this was to say goodbye to the Greek economy and now it seems to the Italian as well. France is in waiting. Why do we never see any mention much of Spain? Perhaps the situation is becoming so bad nobody wants to mention it. In the UK the SNP want to join it and be its saviour. On borrowed money.

Then there has been the EU drive to the East, a project in which Germany has played the central part. This has been tried often in the past. It has never really worked and has been a part of many of the major disasters in European history. But as Angela might say, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again.

While we contemplate the chance of 2017 bringing us another world war beginning in Europe when Putin of Russia is pushed beyond the point of no return by a German inspired Brussels we seem to be having one or two problems at home with persons who have another Empire for us in mind.

Only they call it a Caliphate. Angela, one for noble ideas despite the cost or the consequences, decided to set an example to us all in bringing in over a million migrants in one year which were mostly young men with ideas of their own.

So far, it appears that of all those intended to save us from the demands of our aged only 34,000 actually have jobs. Soon we will have more dependents of this kind than we have aged and presumably the aged will have to find the money.

These are not ideas which most ordinary people in Europe are comfortable with and indeed in stark conflict with several other of Angela's noble ideas. Originally, she hoped to do the same and more in future years so ensuring her political supremacy and to force others in Europe to follow her example.

Had she paid more attention to Hollywood and its fascination with gang warfare among migrant groups she might have realised that being the Godmother of Europe has its problems. She may think of herself as a Marlon Brando as The Don, but her acting is terrible and she cannot remember the script.

This can only get worse as grandmother said when watching an Old Mother Riley film, the one where she goes into politics. In fact the more I see of Angela the more I realise that Old Mother Riley lives on in Germany.

Goodbye democracy, goodbye freedom, goodbye tolerance and goodbye Western Civilisation and thank Angela for it.

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Trains And Gains

The world, Europe and capitalism today are not what they were around 1980. Then they had changed a great deal since around 1950, ditto back to 1920, then 1890, then 1860. At that time when Marx who informs the thoughts of many on the subject was writing about capitalism as he understood it. Again, during the 1860's there were significant changes from the earlier generations.

It was in 1830 when the railways as we know them began to be built. Capitalism, raw in form and operation did not last long. In the 1840's in the UK the government began to regulate. As time went on this increased radically, all those smashes and financial crashes.

By the time the First World War broke out in 1914 we had in the UK a complicated group of companies building lines, caring for the infrastructure and providing services. A key element in this was The Royal Mail letter and parcel carriage via the GPO, a state company.

The war tested this to and beyond the limit. By 1919 there were serious problems, notably the viability and existence of some key companies. Rather than deal with these in detail which would have been difficult politically, notably trade unions, especially the drivers who would strike at the drop of a flag, there was the Rationalisation of 1923, with almost all the lines merged into four mega companies.

Essentially, the bulk of the railway services did not change or improve much, although there was a good deal of headline grabbing long distance passenger services on select main routes, for example the London to Scotland. They were in reality state sponsored local monopolies. Then came the Second World War, longer and more damaging leaving a railway system close to breakdown.

The companies remained but became essentially government agencies linked through the Ministry. By 1945 given the huge backlog of repair and maintenance and added damage, it was unlikely that the companies would see any profit for decades to come. In effect they were bust, so Nationalisation as per Labour policy came as a relief, especially to the shareholders.

By 1980 as well as ending the age of steam in locomotives, British Railways had run out of steam in terms of organisation and management, phrases such as the age of the dinosaurs were not far off the mark. There were improvements and some initiatives but as a whole it was an industry in sharp decline.

By then the motor car and commercial carriage of goods trades national and local had taken away a great deal of its income and British Rail became a large subsided beast of burden to the economy and government. Also, the top management was beholden to politics first and last. Something had to change so Mrs. Thatcher and her ministers decided to do something.

Whatever we have now it is not remotely capitalism by any sensible definition. There may be profit making companies involved, but that arises from the cut and shift of state subsidies and the way the money is moved round. It does not arise from service or production.

We have franchises given out to firms that only run services with carriages. The infrastructure is Network Rail, allegedly a state firm which gives networking a bad name. Are you trying to travel this Christmas? The deal is that the operating firms will get a "profit" which is enough loot to keep them in the business.

Some things do not change, in that we have the revival of unions striking for all sorts of reasons and proclaiming an end to capitalism. What they may get if they are not careful is the end of the railways as British.

If they are looking for capitalists perhaps they should try China, Russia or the Middle East, who could be the next owners of our railways.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

Seasonal Sniffing

Around our patch we have what is called in weather terms "a blocking high", that is a zone of high air pressure that does not move and there is little wind. One can last for days and has done. So the air outside now where we live stinks and this is bad for us being old.

But the BBC Weather and the Meteorological Office tell me that the Air Pollution is low in this area, that is 1 on a scale of 1 to 5. So is it us or is it them? Are some of the oldies being hauled off to A&E gasping just pyscho' cases as they croak and heave?

There may be a reason. The nearest weather station is at the top of a hill miles outside town and the measuring devices are in a box or up a pole. So it is around 400 or more metres above sea level. Up from town we are at 150 and down in town by the river not much.

Also, there is what is in the air that the station measures. If it is not the same chemicals that are causing us trouble then it will not register. So while for the officials and experts the air is relatively clean, for us what have to breathe it this is not the case.

There is a specialist forecast for pollen, great in December, but not for air pollution. Between us and the weather station and much nearer to us is one of the most heavily used motorways in the UK, day and night between London and Dover. This generates a lot of traffic around our town.

Apparently, it is only recently it has been realised that the fumes from diesels have a toxic element that has hitherto been ignored. In London, I read that they have now been putting devices in place low down at traffic level designed to measure this.

This suggests that there is a problem. Outside London, this has not happened. So between the motorway and the number of trucks etc. on our local roads we do not know just how much pollution we are getting.

During the day we like to have the windows open for a time and during the night, if not too cold, to have a little air coming in. We have not been able to do this now for days and are fed up with it. And there is no answer.

But for the Department of the Environment, the BBC etc. and the experts there is not a problem. Because the source of their information is up the pole and cannot and does not measure what needs to be measured.

Mind you, it is much the same at The Treasury.

Saturday, 17 December 2016

Promotion Blues

If you ring fence groups of people to prevent them from being insulted, the subject of jests or indeed criticism then if that process goes on you have fewer and fewer to have a go at.

There is no shortage of people who feel that neither they nor anyone like them might be questioned etc.  The trouble is that this leaves you with fewer and fewer groups open to mock or detract.

Simon Jenkins in The Guardian on Pale Stale Males has been bold enough to be one of the first to put his head above the parapet to remind us that old white men have become the target for today and tonight. As a chap well on in years and classified as male, I declare an interest.

A reason for old white males having many senior positions is because they are of a generation when white males were commonly recruited to work which had prospects and many in fact did rise through the ranks to top jobs.

Moreover these are people who did not skive off into retirement ASP like some I know and so lasted a longer time in such jobs. Those days we are told are gone and regarded as rightly so. The future is feminine and foreign and we will be all the better for it.

Having done my virtue signalling for the day, one take on this which caught the eye is from that serious philosophy site The Daily Mash which has the item below under the heading "Old White Man Isn't Sure Why He Isn't Massively Powerful.


AN 81-YEAR-OLD white man is confused about why he isn’t running the world.

Widower Roy Hobbs spends his days gardening and watching documentaries about bridges that got blown up in the war, but he would happily control the stock market and hold governments in the palm of his hand. He said: “Apparently old white men run the world, but I can’t even get someone round to fix my boiler.

“I wouldn’t mind being a business kingpin or head of some secret banking society, making decisions that influence the lives of millions. Not that I’m particularly into those things, but it’d give me an excuse to chat to more people.“A bit of power might be good though.

In my big office I’d be like ‘bring me some Hob Nobs!’ and bang my fist against my massive desk. “Then a young lad would appear with Hob Nobs and a cup of tea that is neither too milky nor too strong.

“But perhaps that level of influence would corrupt me and I’d end up demanding crab paste sandwiches with the crusts removed. That’s when you know you’ve lost it.”


The command of the British Army at Waterloo should have been given to  Kitty Pakenham instead of that dreadful Arthur Wellesley.                                                                                                 

Friday, 16 December 2016

Pass This On

As this is a time of year that brings people together in families, small and large groups, old friends and sometimes enemies, it is also the time to exchange bugs. In how many years did our increased seasonal social life result in this cold or that or worse?

If you feel like staying at home and not doing much there are now good reasons for doing this. It is that a lot of bugs, bacteria, have become resistant to medication notably antibiotics.

The media has mentioned this albeit in a random, not very well informed way. But if you are interested a long in depth article in Reuters picked up from Automatic Earth explains the situation. It takes time to read and absorb.

Losing the war on bugs is here. The problems are not just the bugs, or the medication that no longer works or the science. It is also the economics and the business models involved in making new drugs to counter the new bugs.

And the law, the USA Supreme and Federal Courts being keen on defending our interests are creating a situation where it no longer pays to research, produce and market the antibiotic drugs that will be needed.

Excuse me, I need to go to the bathroom.

Thursday, 15 December 2016

Swim Or Swamp

There is a good deal of political talk these days about "draining swamps", the inference being that swamps are bad and the waters, plants and creatures within harmful to our human existence.

But for your average environmental activist they are entirely the opposite. They were the bringers of life to the earth and now sustain many things that are essential to our future. Even, no swamps then sooner or later no mankind.

For extreme activists the elimination of humanity might be a very good thing for Earth or Gaia as you wish. The way things are at present they may not even have to do much since human beings seem hell bent on getting rid of each other as soon as possible.

The "Swampy" who could be relied on to turn up at eco protests in the media against one new build or another everywhere is still around. But some of that kind were a contradiction in that their politics were of the authoritarian left. Some were anarchists, others for the company they chose to keep.

It is said that Mr. Trump has soon given back word on his financial swamp draining, perhaps he has discovered that he is one of the creatures of the swamp who might have to go as well. Or it may be that as the developed world has become one big global swamp that's just the way life is folks.

The latest news is that Mr. Trump has been talking to the Titans of Tech, the current big boys on the block who rule the gizmo etc. world. What he may not realise is that these men are swamp drainers par excellence and out to both defend and promote their interests.

Perhaps the rest of really need a warm welcoming swamp full of the nutrients and liquids that keep us going.

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Looking Forward

On the web there is an intelligent capable young lady. Carole Newman, from Trinity College, Dublin, talking for three minutes plus on the economic challenges facing Africa.

This short video link on Youtube is easy watching, coherent and clear and you understand what she is driving at. On the other hand we might think about the wider implications.

Is there anything in what she says worrying for us in the UK and for others in Europe and perhaps elsewhere?

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

Predicting And Predictions

One of the fun news items of the day sometimes is seeing what the latest prediction is in the Daily Express.  One in the last few days is that the volcano of Cumbre Viejo in the Canary Isles is going to shed a large part and the ensuing 80 foot/metre or so tsunami will do for a lot of cities and places where it hits.

Probably it will at some unknown time but this is not exactly news. I have known about this risk for many years and it may be about as much news as President Eisenhower will stand for a second term of the Presidency. This would be around the time that vulcanologists began to get wiser about what was going on inside volcanoes.

Today's big one is that in the UK we are in for a freeze that will be comparable with that of the winter of 1962 to 1963, Wikipedia has a page on this. I remember this one well, indeed I still have the fan heater I bought to try to avoid freezing. As well as electric fires kept on the two months plus added heating costs did serious damage to the family budget, even the beer allowance had to go.

Then, there was no easy credit, no credit cards or anything other than the loan sharks. With that choice it was overcoats and scarves on at home as well as outside. Yes, it was that bad. But what could such a freeze do these days?

That it can happen does not say it will happen. Also, in theory we have more robust etc. systems, we think. The major question is the energy supply and if the experts are right there may be cause for worry. Because it will not be just the UK affected, it could be part of Europe.

There could be a major problem with how people react. Fifty odd and more years ago a bad freeze came under the been there and done that category. We knew what the score was and what it meant.

Today when most of us, especially the young, blissfully assume that all will be done exactly the way we want it and we must not be offended or inconvenienced, it could turn quite nasty. The real snowflakes will have the human snowflakes in a serial panic.

The idea that it is the weather and all the problems mean it is best to shut up and put up and get on with common sense ways of dealing with it consistent with consideration for others is foreign to our modern lifestyles.

The Express is usually wrong so with any luck it will be wrong again. That is if we are lucky. Is it this year the luck runs out?

Monday, 12 December 2016

Breathing In Short Pants

Politics being politics we can expect some matters to be said to be  of the highest priority whatever else might be going on. It is now one of the staple tricks of the trade that whenever there are real problems and things we might not like going on then something, anything, will be found to distract us.

One key issue of the day for the media is the pair of leather pants featured on our Prime Minister, Ms. May. In our 21st Century age of personal philosophy when we say pants we mean pants as in the American definition and not Euro under pants; over wear and not under wear.

Who wears the pants is an old issue and this ancient Scottish ballade asks the pertinent, pert not pant, question. This has been at the heart of folk lore and culture for some time. There is a better version on Youtube, but filmed at Leeds Grand Theatre which is not quite right. For many decades it staged a good pantomime.

In contemporary youth culture leather is a butch item for clothing etc. In the past it has had its customers, motor cyclists, tradesmen of many kinds and workers in dirty jobs. At one time boots and shoes would be leather for the mass of the people. Perhaps Ms. May should have affected a fashionable brand of trainers to be a little more with it.

For me there is one good reason to avoid leather pants, over or under, and it is sweat rash. This comes with redness, an urge to keep scratching and a bad temper.

Is Ms. May trying to tell us something?

Sunday, 11 December 2016

We Have A Problem......

After the occasional ups and many downs of the last couple of decades or so there is a great deal of interest in risk and how to avoid it so that economies and finance can run smoothly.

The trouble, it is alleged, is politics, sharp intake of breath.

This article in Naked Capitalism by Lambert Strether seeks to deal with the problem, or at least explain it. In discussing The Limits he says,


 Whatever independence is claimed, in practice the financial authorities are authorised by, controlled by, and gain their legitimacy from the political leadership.

Not surprisingly, the mandate from political leadership is to look at financial and economic risk, not to look at risk that has been created by politicians themselves.

This makes it hard for the financial authorities to incorporate political risk as a determinant of systemic risk, despite its importance.


We are all doomed.

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Snow Job

The word "snowflakes" has been taken out of its seasonal and meteorological context to describe persons who are ultra sensitive not just to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune but all the glancing by-blows, bumps and irritations of living a life.

As many suggest, it is becoming ridiculous. Worse, it is becoming an excuse for a person with authoritarian leanings to stamp on anyone who differs, remarks or jests in a way that is not to their taste. If I was minister in charge of the DCMS, culture, media and sport I would ban all mention of Arsenal.

It is December and time perhaps for real snowflakes, those white bits of frozen water to come down from the skies to paralyse life as we know it in Britain. Many of us have a strong dislike for snow. It disrupts the diary, makes shopping difficult and far worse might entail some physical effort. Yes, I know snow can mean another thing, so please don't go into a tizzwas.

It is not all bad, because this is the season when the ballet "The Nutcracker" is favoured by many for a couple of hours easy living and listening. Above is a desktop picture for the part of the ballet known as The Waltz Of The Snowflakes. If you are an ultra sensitive person you might use it.

There is a lot of this on Youtube, notably the Royal Ballet version and if you like to detach yourself from the real world there are worse ways. Even better, it is not "challenging" "socially real" with the crash bang wallop, shouting and blood and guts etc. that is so much of TV and film in the 21st Century.

And I am not just talking about the football.

Thursday, 8 December 2016

Carney's Banking Bust

We have been told, no less, by the Guv' of the Bank of England, Calamity Carney, that the last decade's since 2006 missing growth and messy economics is the worst since the 1860's. Oh really?

First, before making comparisons, ensure what is being compared is comparable. Second, make sure that you do not stick to narrow estimates of figures within complex political and economic structures. Third, what the figures say and what was actually going on may raise other cogent questions.

Is he saying, for example, that the periods of 1910-1920 and 1940-1950 were far superior because no doubt of high levels of QE, government spending etc and economic activity? I have little doubt that those alive then might have cause to disagree.

In the 40's my parents earned good money. The trouble was you could not spend it on food, clothes and other luxuries. All those guns and battle tanks and airplanes were reserved for select elite groups. Their use required high levels of replacement etc. which meant work for the factories.

As for the 1860's, just what were the economics of Japan? In China there was major civil war, check Chinese Gordon. In the USA they had a Civil War. In Africa, I suspect hard economic data was hard to calculate. Germany and Italy were just in the making, France was broke because of a high cost Emperor and Spain was poverty stricken.

Back in dear old Blighty the speculators in railway shares, bills of exchange, gold and silver and metals that did wonders for the money figures were having a high old time. The sudden advance in technology notably the compounding of steam engines was leading to major spending on uprating existing maritime and land systems of communications.

The Overend Gurney banking crash of 1866 resulted which caused a lot of trouble, but the City and economy recovered surprisingly quickly. The provinces then were a lot more detached from London than now. Also, possibly, because The City then was the major player in the world game and could rely on its own resources.

And Skittles, Catherine Walters, courtesan extraordinary and Scouser, had an affair with Edward, Prince of Wales, that caused Queen Victoria some grief, and boosted media activity.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Time Of The Year

It is December, the time for fun and forgetting the bad stuff. So here are some reminders.

China and the bread basket is from Dr. Mercola, who does not do much for economics but thinks about the health things.

Tony Blair feels fragile in Zero Hedge and don't we all, and who we may ask was one of the most responsible?

India is a big economy and according to Project Syndicate its boss has just trashed the monetary system because cash is untidy. The trouble is that 90% of the population use it.

If you are buying online The Guardian tells us to beware of the cookie monsters.

Choose your friends carefully Science Daily suggests and as grandmother used to say.

Have a nice day.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

I Spy With My Big Eye

As someone adult before Theresa May was born the passing of the Investigatory Powers Act on 29 November is not exactly a surprise or a shock. It is very likely that this or something like it has been done on the quiet for a very long time. That it is now legal does not make it better.

In the UK once it did have its advantages, especially the phone tapping. In a period when on moving to a new house one of the most difficult things was getting a telephone. What was sometimes even more tricky was getting one fixed in the event of failure.

Personally, I never had any trouble. On one occasion I told someone when making a call that the connection was dodgy and the GPO were round in the hour.

This Verge article linked from Samizdata shows what is now done in the new age of the 21st Century. As there are a lot more people to be watched on a lot more devices it is necessary to apply high tech' and automation to deal with the bulk and extent.

Also, it could be easier for people to realise that someone out there is interested and not just those who hate adblockers or want to sell things.

It is not all bad. The use and risk of misuse of information relating to the present is something certainly to be very wary of especially in the hands of politicians and others with particular agendas.

Information can only be trusted if handled by people who are trustworthy for proper purposes. But if we are looking at the past the extent of information becoming available can give many new insights.

For example, we might think we need all there is to know about the Civil War of the 17th Century. But much of it is just scraping at the surface. In the British Library there is under English Civil War: Thomason Tracts a gold mine of documents yet to be fully studied because of their volume and extent. Roll on digitisation.

As for the internet and modern gizmos, be careful, very careful.

Monday, 5 December 2016

Not Going Shopping

In the last couple of decades not only in our local town, but others we know, we have seen a rapid and continuing process of the shops in the town centre and elsewhere changing.

There are many complicated reasons for this, but among the specialist and other shops you might have expect to have a longer life or remain they now seem to be going just as rapidly.

We may have put it down to the internet etc. but there could be another major reason for this destruction of traditional retailing.


From Eileen Appelbaum and Rosemary Batt’s book,

For instance, one way that private equity overlords enrich themselves at the expense of the businesses they acquire is by taking real estate owned by the company, spinning it out into another entity (owned by the PE fund and to be monetized subsequently) and having the former owner make lease payments to its new landlord.

The problem with this approach is usually twofold. First the businesses that chose to own their own real estate did so for good reason. They were typically seasonal businesses, like retailers, or low margin businesses particularly vulnerable to the business cycle, like low-end restaurants. Owning their own property reduced their fixed costs, making them better able to ride out bad times.
To make this picture worse, the PE firms typically “sell” the real estate at an inflated price, which justifies saddling the operating business with high lease payments, making the financial risk to the company even higher. Of course, those potentially unsustainable rents make the real estate company look more valuable to prospective investors than it probably is.
Now where can I find some shoelaces?