Saturday, 23 July 2016

I am an extremely lucky bloke...

Friday, 22 July 2016

An easy way to remember all eighteen Pokémon types.

My little girl understands the rules of the game and can reel off the different types in some sort of inherently logical order.

I find it easier to remember them in the following order

ELECTRIC(ity) is used to make
STEEL which comes from iron ore, which is a type of
ROCK which is found in the
GROUND on which grows
GRASS in which you find a
BUG which might be
POISON(ous) or it might be
FLYING. Something else which can fly is a
FAIRY which is a kind of
GHOST who talk to people who are
PSYHIC who have séances in the
DARK which starts with the letter "D" like
DRAGON which breathes
FIRE when it is
NORMAL people fight fire with
WATER which when frozen turns to

I hope that this comes in useful one day, I wasted ten minutes working that out and memorising it.

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Hollande - not very good at logic or negotiations.

From the BBC:

French President Francois Hollande will tell Theresa May he wants to start talks on the UK's exit from the EU (1) as soon as possible, when they meet later. The UK's new prime minister has said she does not want to start the formal Brexit process until 2017.

But Mr Hollande has rejected any "pre-negotiations" (2) - and said the UK could not access the EU free market without accepting free movement of people(3).

... He said there should be no pre-negotiations before full and formal exit talks and added: "Access to the single market cannot be guaranteed unless free movement of workers is respected.(4)

... Pascal Lamy, a former World Trade Organization director general who was also chief of staff to ex-EU Commission president Jacques Delors, also said European leaders wanted to know what Mrs May was looking for. "What sort of relationship do you have in mind with the European Union?" he asked.(5)


1. He can speak for France but he does not speak for the EU as a whole.

2. If he wants talks to begin, then why would it matter whether they are "formal" (meaning that the UK has applied to leave under Article 50) or "pre-negotiations" (meaning it hasn't)?

3. Free movement of people is an EU obsession, but is quite a separate concept from free trade in goods or services, which in turn could be dealt with separately.

We have plenty of precedents, such as the customs union between the EU and Turkey:

Goods may travel between the two entities without any customs restrictions. The Customs Union does not cover essential economic areas such as agriculture (to which bilateral trade concessions apply), services or public procurement.

They also agreed to a common foreign tariff, which sort of makes sense. If Turkish import tariff for Chinese goods is lower than the EU tariff, then people in the EU would import Chinese goods via Turkey.

UPDATE. The Fat Bigot points out in the comments: if Hollande has started harping on about free movement before Art 50 has been triggered, then he is engaging in pre-negotiations himself.

4. Real weasel words here. "[C]annot be guaranteed" is meaningless. A doctor cannot guarantee that a treatment will work, even though it usually does. "[U]nless free movement of workers is respected" is even vaguer. I can respect other people's places of worship and superstitions despite being an atheist who thinks it is all a load of cobblers and never takes part.

5. Lamy is not authorised to negotiate for the EU either. And I think the UK has made it pretty clear what it wants.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Theresa May: hopes raised, hopes dashed.

Via DBC Reed, from the FT, hopes raised...

On to housing. The wealth of some pensioners has expanded by more in retirement than it did in work simply because the value of their homes, which they tend to own outright, has risen so rapidly. That price expansion is largely due to repeated shortfalls in home construction and the increasing use of housing as a financial asset. Neither is directly the fault of baby boomers, but it means younger people are spending greater proportions of their net income on housing and taking on debt for longer periods — the Council of Mortgage Lenders reports that almost three-fifths of first-time buyers take a loan of more than 25 years.

Mrs May acknowledged this is an undesirable outcome: “Unless we deal with the housing deficit, we will see house prices keep on rising. Young people will find it even harder to afford their own home,” she said at her campaign launch [a fortnight ago]. “The divide between those who inherit wealth and those who don’t will become more pronounced.”

[The 'increased supply' thing is ineffective in itself, it has to be done together with a whole bundle of other things as the UK did pre-1980s to keep prices down. It fell far short of proper LVT but did the particular job on a rough and ready basis].

From The Evening Standard today (I can't find the link), hopes dashed...

Responding to the Labour leader calling for an end to austerity, she snapped "He calls it austerity, I call it living within our means."

(As background, the Tory government is running and historically they have always run, larger deficits than Labour governments. Weird but true.)

The brief exchange set out her battle lines against Labour on spending and home ownership. Mr Corbyn attacked the upper limit for [government subsidised loans to encourage first time buyers to pay more for housing] set out in government policies, saying it was too high.

But Mrs May pointed out that it reflected everyday life for people in bis Islington constituency.

All right, sod her, she's an evil Homey witch like the rest of them who has abandoned any principles she held a fortnight ago.

FFS, if the government wastes taxpayers'  money on encouraging first time buyers (a sub-set of taxpayers) to get even deeper into debt in order to pay even more for overpriced housing, how does she square that with the worthy idea of "living within our means"???

The revolving door spins ever faster...

There's a good article in The Daily Mail on the topic.

Here's the pithiest bit:


SIR NICHOLAS MACPHERSON: The former permanent secretary at the Treasury will become chairman of C Hoare & Co, a two-day a week position at Britain’s oldest bank. It has been accused of helping the wealthy cut inheritance and capital gains tax bills

SIR DANNY ALEXANDER: He was Chief Secretary to the Treasury before losing his Liberal Democrat seat in last year’s general election. He has been taken on by the Chinese-run Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank as vice-president and corporate secretary

SIR ERIC PICKLES: The Communities Secretary from 2010 to 2015 has been cleared to become director of a recycling and waste management company Leo Group. He spent his time in Cabinet trying to persuade councils not to axe weekly bin collections. But ACOBA said there was no conflict of interest because recycling was the responsibility of the Energy Department

NICK CLEGG: The former Deputy Prime Minister and Lib Dem leader has been given the go-ahead to take up six positions. They include working for News Presenters Ltd as a speaker, writing a column for the London Evening Standard, and starting a think-tank

SIR ED DAVEY: The ex-Lib Dem Energy Secretary can take up five posts. These include chairman of Mongoose Energy, a renewable energy firm, and consultant for MHP Communications, which has dealt with EDF Energy. He signed a money-spinning deal with EDF to build Hinckley Point nuclear power plant when in office.

They're all cashing in on the favours they did while in office. Bastards.

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

IMF: getting it arse backwards yet again.

From The Guardian:

The International Monetary Fund has slashed its forecast for UK growth next year after warning that the decision to leave the EU has damaged the British economy’s short-term prospects and “thrown a spanner in the works” of the global recovery…

Oh noes! Sticking with Project Fear. So what does the IMF suggest?

Policymakers in the UK and the rest of the EU have a vital role to play in reducing uncertainty, the IMF said. “Of primary importance is a smooth and predictable transition to a new set of post-exit trading and financial relationships that as much as possible preserves gains from trade between the UK and the EU.”

Well, duh.

That's what everybody wants, Leavers and Remainers alike. Mainstream opinion here appears to be that we are quite happy to remain in the tariff-free Single Market in both directions, it's just that - for whatever reason - we don't like unrestricted free movement of people from certain EU member states, and quite understandably don't like chipping in £12 billion a year for Eurocrats and subsidies for  agricultural landowners in other EU member states (insanely, the pol's are happy to subsidise UK farm land owners, many of whom are not UK resident, of course…)

It's only the top bods at the EU and the French who want to teach us a lesson and throw a spanner in the works. So go and have a chat with them, eh?

"Where Eagles Don't Dare"

From Wiki and the BBC:

In the summer of 1943–44, U.S. Army Brigadier General George Carnaby, a chief planner of the second front, is captured by the Germans when his aircraft is shot down en route to Crete.

He is taken for interrogation to the Schloss Jeremy Corbyn, a fortress high in the Alps of Islington. A team of Labour MPs, led by Angela Eagle and Owen Smith, is briefed by Colonel Turner and Admiral Rolland of MI6. Their mission is to parachute in, infiltrate the castle, and rescue General Carnaby before the Germans can offer him a job in the Shadow Cabinet.

Early in the mission, two of the operatives are mysteriously killed, but while Owen Smith is unperturbed, Angela Eagle throws away her uniform and weapons and hitch hikes home again.

Pokémon GO: rapidly reaching parody singularity.

Two headlines which caught my eye...

Pokemon GO 'is un-Islamic', Muslim cleric suggests

Warning: Pokémon GO Could Be A Death Sentence If You Are A Black Man

Bonus points for the first person to see the game being described as a gateway drug or claiming it reinforces gender stereotypes, and double bonus points for spotting the first article in The Daily Mailexpressgraph saying the main reason young people don't "get on the housing ladder" is because they waste too much time on it.

"London Bridge and East Croydon commuters face chaos on Southern Rail as sinkhole opens in Forest Hill"

Spotted by TBH in The Evening Standard.

Not much detail on how big or why, but the picture looks pretty unsettling, to say the least.

Monday, 18 July 2016

Fun Online Polls: Tony Blair & Renewing Trident

The responses to last week's Fun Online Poll were as follows:

Which of the following revelations in the Chilcot report were NOT blindingly obvious back in 2002 or 2003?

Bush was looking for an excuse to invade Iraq - 5 votes
There was no link between Al Qaeda and Saddam - 5 votes
Blair was Bush's poodle - 4 votes
The British Army was unprepared for a second war - 9 votes
MoD procurement is staggeringly incompetent - 10 votes
Saddam had no WMDs - 16 votes
There would be total chaos in the Middle East afterwards - 10 votes
Blair would mysteriously become very rich after leaving office - 28 votes
None of the above - 68 votes

Total - 114 voters

To me. all of those things were blindingly obvious except the last one - why Blair would mysteriously become so very rich afterwards. I did not see that coming.

Maybe Chilcot should have just followed the money and done a report into who channelled all those millions to Blair and why. That would have been much more interesting. Especially when Chilcot does a "David Kelly" half way through, of course.

What nobody else saw coming is that the Chilcot Report would be delayed for years and years and then 'released' two weeks after the EU Referendum, ensuring it would quickly disappear off the front pages. A coincidence? Was it fuck.
This week's Fun Online Poll: should we renew Trident or not?

Vote here or use the widget in the sidebar.