Thursday, 21 February 2019

"Young people living in vans, tiny homes and containers"

From the BBC, following the journalistic guideline "Don't mention land or access to land! It's only about the physical building!":

Case One

Harriet Baggley, 24, her partner, Tom Offen, 25, and their son, Ruben, two, live in a van fitted with a log-burning stove, insulation and a makeshift kitchenette.

The 2008 Volkswagen Transporter 4, nicknamed "Iggy", has been their home since they left rented accommodation in April last year. They move their home-on-wheels to different spots every few days, spending two to three nights a week at a relative's more conventional home while helping them with child care.

They appear to be doing it the hard way, and I hope it works out for them.

Case Two

For Aubrey Fry, 37, and his wife, Clare, 34, life in a repurposed 40ft shipping container was only meant to be short term.

Three years later and the steel box is still home, sweet home. The pair moved to Hay-on-Wye, where Aubrey's family own a farm, after growing frustrated with London property prices. They wanted to keep their costs low, while building their new home and business premises on the land, and Aubrey had an itch to try something different.

Yes, the couple have access to free land. On her parents' farm.

Aubrey would also appear to be stupidest man in the UK:

"I've always wanted to develop a shipping container and make it into a home," Aubrey said. "There are millions of them all over the world, they get used once and then get taken out of action; and I think they are a good space to live in."

Correct, he actually said "they get used once"

Case Three

Tom, who lives in Porthleven, Cornwall, is hoping to build his [tiny home aka caravan], mount it on a trailer and then move it between his friends' smallholdings.

So he's an intermediate case between the Baggleys and the Frys. What will happen when his friends get tired of him, or some officious planner tell him that he's not allowed to live on a smallholding semi-permanently?

Wednesday, 20 February 2019

Nobody move or your children get hurt!

From the BBC:

Children's safety could be put at risk if the UK leaves the EU without proper plans for child protection, the UK's four children's commissioners warn.

Child abuse, exploitation, abduction and how family law matters are dealt with if a child has one parent from the EU, are all "immediate issues".

In a letter to Stephen Barclay, the minister for exiting the EU, the commissioners ask for reassurance...

The commissioners highlight their fears over co-operation on child protection and law enforcement after Brexit, saying that prevention of child abuse and exploitation often involves international collaboration.

Honda Closure

This is something of a follow-up of my previous post about car making but I thought I'd specifically cover Honda.

It's personally sad for me because I worked at the Honda factory last year. Wore the overalls like everyone else. They're a really good bunch of people and they care about what they do and constantly aim to improve quality. I wouldn't hesitate to recommend a Civic or a Type-R based on what I saw.

How much can I share? I never know, but I tend to avoid sharing anything that also isn't out in the public.

First of all, is Brexit a factor? Honda say no. There's people saying Honda are just being polite, but Honda were very much talking about there being an impact of leaving the customs union. If Brexit was the killer factor, why wouldn't they say it? If even no deal would have seriously affected them I think they would have made that threat.

As I said in the other piece, there's a lot of forces affecting car making around the world. But, none of those affected this. There's 3 things that I think are working on this.

  • Japan-EU trade agreement. The explicit reason Japanese car makers set up car factories in Swindon, Sunderland and Derbyshire in the first place was because of tariffs. Make your cars in the UK, you take 10% off. That makes them competitive with the Renaults and Fiats. Tariffs on cars are being phased out and will be something like 5% in 2021 and fall to zero over the next few years.
  • Decline in "car" sales. Overall, car sales are flat. but "car" sales are falling as people are preferring SUVs. The Honda factory in Swindon makes the Civic and Type-R, which are cars, rather than SUVs. Swindon cut 900 jobs 6 years ago because of this.
  • Honda plan to be 2/3rds electric by 2025. This means huge factory investment. You can't just start making electric cars on an existing line. Diesel and petrol cars are on separate lines. Electric needs another line, or maybe they ditch diesel for electric. To fit that needs a factory closure to do the installation, lots of new equipment, retraining and so forth.
Put all that together, and someone figured that there were few advantages making in Swindon rather than Japan. The tariff saving is disappearing, so few financial savings and lots of downsides in investment and having one factory allows them to use the same workforce across multiple lines based on the shift from petrol to electric.

I'd also like to add that in typical media fashion, this is painted as a catastrophe for Swindon. Because all media know is giant factories. I'm not saying it's good, or even not that big a problem, but the factory is 3500 jobs in a town of 105000 jobs, and maybe another 3500 in local supply chain. Swindon has a couple of companies of a similar size: Nationwide and WH Smith. But most of it is SMEs you've never heard of in fields like software, machinery and healthcare. 

Anodyne Waffle And Meaningless Platitudes Of The Week

The "statement" on the official website of the SevenEight Dwarves is a masterpiece in waffle, it just goes on and on an on until you lose the will to live:

Our values

We believe:

* Ours is a great country of which people are rightly proud, where the first duty of government must be to defend its people and do whatever it takes to safeguard Britain’s national security.

* Britain works best as a diverse, mixed social market economy, in which well-regulated private enterprise can reward aspiration and drive economic progress and where government has the responsibility to ensure the sound stewardship of taxpayer’s money and a stable, fair and balanced economy.

* A strong economy means we can invest in our public services. We believe the collective provision of public services and the NHS can be delivered through government action, improving health and educational life chances, protecting the public, safeguarding the vulnerable, ensuring dignity at every stage of life and placing individuals at the heart of decision-making.

* The people of this country have the ability to create fairer, more prosperous communities for present and future generations. We believe that this creativity is best realised in a society which fosters individual freedom and supports all families.

* The barriers of poverty, prejudice and discrimination facing individuals should be removed and advancement occur on the basis of merit, with inequalities reduced through the extension of opportunity, giving individuals the skills and means to open new doors and fulfil their ambitions.

* Etcetera etcetera etcetera.

Their official colour seems to be grey, but the whole thing is just... beige, with taupe highlights.

The only thing of mild interest is (are?) the boxes next to each statement which you can tick to say "I agree". There aren't any for "I disagree".

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

Killer Arguments Against LVT, Not (452)

I've not done one of these for a while, mainly because there aren't any but the Homeys haven't even bothered rehashing old ones.

From here, two years ago:

Chris: The average income is £27k a year, a yearly increase in tax of £2,591 to a household with one working parent would represent almost a 10% increase in income tax.

Any Government that attempts this will make the poll tax riots look like minor in comparison and even more so when their manifesto states that no one earning under £80k a year will pay more tax – it would be a blatant lie.

Most people are only vaguely aware of how much income tax and NIC they are paying; very few are aware of how much NIC their employer is paying (average £2,000 per employee p.a.) or how much domestic tariffs (VAT) cost them (average £4,000 per household p.a.). People only care about Council Tax because they know how much it is (about £1,000 per household p.a.).

Administratively, the best way of collecting LVT is through people's PAYE codes, i.e. deduct directly from wages or private pension, get it over with, it's a straight swap - LVT instead of income tax/NIC.

People care most about their net pay, so if the LVT deducted is less than the reduction in income tax/NIC, and no visible Council Tax bill, people will be fine with it.

We can divide UK households into four categories
- working owner-occupiers (about 40% of all households)
- working private tenants (about 20% of all households)
- pensioner owner-occupiers (about 20% of all households)
- people in social housing (about 20% of all households, a mix of working, not working and pensioners)

Let's boil it down to five households (two in category 1 and one in each of the others) and assume income tax/NIC is reduced by £5 and £5 is collected in LVT instead.

The three working households in category 1 and 2 are currently paying one-third of the income tax/NIC each = £1.67. Thereafter, the LVT on each home is £1.

1. The two households in the first category will each save £1.67 and pay £1 LVT instead; their net pay goes up by 67p.

2. The household in the second category will save £1.67; their net pay goes up by £1.67.

3. The pensioner household is now paying £1 more tax; if they can't afford it, they can roll up the unpaid tax and whoever inherits the home can pay it.

4. For people in social housing it is difficult to say who pays more or less; on the whole it will average out to not much either way.

5. Landlords will be paying a shed load more in tax, but it's a tiny minority of people.

I find it unlikely that pensioners, their greedy heirs and landlords are going to start riots, so it's not a problem. Usual rioters are the young unemployed and students, who are tenants, least affected by the shift to LVT and more likely to find a job.

Chris also overlooks that the Poll Tax Riots happened because Thatcher wanted to get rid of a progressive tax (Domestic Rates) and impose a regressive one (Community Charge).

By reverse logic, they won't be any riots if a government did the opposite, and replaced regressive taxes (especially NIC, Council Tax, VAT) with a progressive one (LVT).

So his argument is about as fucking stupid as Richard Nixon saying "Students rioted when LBJ and I ramped up the Vietnam War. Therefore we can expect them to riot again if I throw in the towel and withdraw troops from Vietnam."

Chiaroscuro: The Light and the Dark

I may have misread the news yesterday. But, as I understand it, Tom 'Fat Boy Slim' Watson is deeply upset that Lucrezia Borgia has left the Labour Party. Lucrezia, a long time supporter of dead, Renaissance characters, among other mental health issues within the Labour Party, said last night: she could no longer put up with 'racist, Spanish and Italian Banker insults', during a tearful speech to key socialist leaders in the City of London. Many, otherwise mostly ignored, gilded historians, have come out in support for her on Twitter and Facebook.

Watson too, applying his Humpty Dumpty logic of putting things back together again that he has just broken, says, late tonight, that he will arrange a meeting between himself, Lucrezia and Jeremy Corbyn over a 'jolly nice glass of red wine' to 'sort things out' once and for all.

Updated today:

As you can see from this CCTV image, the meeting did not go very well. A visibly startled Corbyn on the right of the photo, seems to have been completely surprised by the old Lucrezia' 'ring finger' trick. We showed this picture to a leading Labour MP, and trusted , BBC source, who chanted a mantra growing louder and louder within the PLP, ' Get in there Tom - Machiavelli 1 Marx 0' and ' No Gold, No Swiss'.

Monday, 18 February 2019

Greenhouse gas levels through the roof, and..?

What can't speak can't lie.

CO2 level nearly double its average for last 800,000 years; CH4 level nearly quadruple. Those are the two main ''greenhouse gases" which could be attributed to human activity.

Click on pictures to see source:

Given that the levels of CO2 and CH4 have gone through the roof, can somebody please explain to me why global temperatures are pretty much in the middle of the range they've been in for the past few thousand years..?

Daily Express on top form

Fun With Numbers - energy efficient vacuum cleaners

Over at Physiocrat's blog.

He reckoned that the EU vacuum cleaner regulations would reduce total electricity usage in the EU by 1/100,000. He updated the post for my calculations saying it would be about 1/500.

Neither of claims to be accurate within +/- 50% or so, but clearly, at least one of us is wrong by a few orders of magnitude!!

Comments here disabled, leave comments under his post.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

Fun With Numbers - divisibility tests

I got a bit lost on YouTube, via Chinese Remainder Theorem and Modular Functions, I ended up with divisibility tests.

Telling by eye whether a number divides by 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9 or 10 is pretty straight forward, non-prime numbers like 12 or 15 are also easy enough, you just usually have to do more than one tests; if it divides by 3 and by 4, then it must divide by 12 and so on.

There is a neat way of checking whether a long number divides by a prime number, short of actually doing long division. I have no idea what practical purpose this serves, it's just a bit of Fun With Numbers.

You just have to remember the "magic numbers" in this table of all prime numbers:

1,-0......11,-1.....21 n/a.....31,-3
3,+1.....13,+4....23,+7..... 33 n/a
7,-2......17,-5.....27 n/a.....37,-11
9,+1.....19,+2....29,+3..... 39 n/a

See caveats/footnotes!

If you can remember the first column, the "magic number" for the prime numbers go up/down by -1 or +1 for numbers ending in 1 or 9, and by +3 or -3 for numbers ending in 3 or 7. So you can reconstruct the whole table just with those two rules. It goes on forever AFAIAA, so the "magic number" for 73 would be +21. There's no such thing as -0 of course, that's just to help you remember the pattern.

What do we do with the "magic number"?

If you have to work out whether a large number divides by a particular prime, you proceed as follows:

1. Multiply the last digit by the "magic number" for that particular prime and add that to the remaining digits (i.e. subtract it if the "magic number" is negative, or add it if both the "magic number" and the last digit are negative).

2. Do the over and over again until either:
a) you get to zero; a number that divides by the prime you are testing for; or a circular calculation where the answer remains constant (pass); or
b) you end up with a number that clearly doesn't divide by the prime you are testing for; or the calculations start flipping between positive and negative numbers without settling down (fail).

Let's test if 169,682 divides by 37:
16,968 - (11 x 2) = 16,946
1,694 - (11 x 6) = 1,628
162 - (11 x 8) = 74
If it's not obvious to you that 74 = 37 x 2, then keep going...
7 - (11 x 4) = -37
-37 clearly divides by 37, that's a pass.
Interestingly, if you keep going...
-3 - (11 x -7) = 74
A nice circular calculation that will flip back and forth forever, or until you notice it's a pass, whichever is sooner.

Let's test if 169,680 divides by 37 (it clearly doesn't):
16,968 - (11 x 0) = 16,968
1,696 - (11 x 8) = 1,608
160 - (11 - 8) = 72
Clearly a fail, but let's keep going...
7 - (11 x 2) = -15
-1 - (11 x -15) = 164
16 - (11 x 4) = -28
-2 - (11 x -8) = 86
At this stage you are flipping from positive to negative numbers without settling down, so we can declare this a fail.

a) 21, 27, 33 and 39 are not prime numbers. The entries would be 21,-2; 27, -8; 33,+10; and 39,+4. But I put n/a because the test does not necessarily work for non-prime numbers. The "magic numbers" for both 13 and 39 are/would be +4, and not all numbers that divide by 13 also divide by 39, obviously.

b) I've completed the table for the easiest to remember/smallest "magic numbers". This is a modular function, so for 7, you can use -2 or +5; for 11 you can use -1 or +10 etc.

Does 121 divide by 11?
12 - (1 x 1) = 11 (pass)
12 + (10 x 1) = 22 (pass).

This is also an example of a circular calculation where the answer is itself, if you overlook that 22 divides by 11, then here's the clue - apply the calculation to 22, you get 22:
2 + (10 x 2) = 22 (pass)