Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Stretched Police Resources #1

From the Guardian

Transport for London and British Transport police have urged commuters to come forward if they have received so-called fat-shaming postcards on the tube.

Images of the leaflet, claiming to be from a group called Overweight Haters Ltd, have now been shared thousands of times on social media, with many speculating it could be a poorly judged publicity stunt.

British Transport police (BTP) said they were investigating reports of cards being handed out but could not elaborate as to whether victims had complained directly.

It's not very nice, but what's the crime? Upsetting fat people?

Note: The "Stretched Police Resources" is for any news story involving the police where no crime, or something hardly warranting a crime, was committed.

[Xmas lights] Before and after.

Monday, 30 November 2015

Ouch that hurt, but let's try again...

Torygraph hack Matthew Lynn has found some interesting stats on housing in Europe:

* The UK is now fourth from bottom of all 28 member states for homeownership
* 96% of Romanians live in owner occupied housing
* The average British home is now 96 square metres, the smallest in Europe

He suggests we might like to worry that the disenfranchised might turn to "populist, brain-dead redistributionist politics of the sort pushed by Jeremy Corbyn". But fear not, for Mr Lynn has a populist, brain-dead redistributionist solution of his own:

  ... why not re-introduce mortgage interest tax relief, abolished in the 1980s? That was the one policy that kick-started home ownership and it makes getting on the property ladder dramatically more affordable.

One last roll of the dice?  They wouldn't, would they?

Who Says that Markets 'Fail' to Price in Externalities?

Good little vignette here that pleases me on so many levels.

1.  It is clear that house, aka land, prices suffer a reduction compared to similar locations if they are on a busy road.  That is the market is pricing in the externality.  Well.  Well.  Who'd a thunk it?

2.  DA is just another rent seeking homeownerist looking after No. 1.

3.  What's more DA appears to be using her position to further the scheme that will enhance her personal land value. Allegedly.  It cheers me up no end to see that cronyism is alive and well in JC's acolytes.


I was so gleeful at fatties cronyism and hypocrisy that I did not set out this post as well as I should have done - as MW pointed out.

Obviously the cost of the externality is not falling on the traffic using fatty's street.  But there is a lower price for living in that street.  And since that price will rise when the traffic is magiked away by said fatty's mates there is clearly some price discounting going on by the market because of the traffic blight. I call that the market succeeding, albeit not in the way that actually penalises the polluters for their externality.


Ich bin ein Hamburger!

(As JFK never said.)

From the BBC:

Residents of the German city of Hamburg have voted against hosting the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Hamburg was one of five cities left in the running, alongside Rome, Paris, Budapest and Los Angeles.

But 51.6% of residents of the city voted no in a referendum on Sunday. The No camp argued that money earmarked for the Olympics could be better spent...

Hamburg's mayor Olaf Scholz was disappointed with the result: "That's a decision that we didn't want, but it's clear."

Well done lads!

Fun Online Polls: Islamic State, again.

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

What is the most likely cause of Islamic State?

The usual violent Islamic tendencies and outside meddling in Syria - 74%
Climate change - 0%
The Killer Cornflake Conspiracy - 10%
Other, please specify - 15%

So no takers for 'climate change' then. It appears that more people would give credence to the 'Killer Cornflake Conspiracy', which is something equally fictitious.

As to 'outside meddling', from the comments it appears that people interpret this to mean Western meddling. That's only a part of it - the Iranians, the Saudi Arabians and possibly the Turks are just as guilty if not more so.
Being a democratic blog, it's a free vote this week with no party whip this week:

If the UK bombs ISIS targets in Syria, this will…

Make us safer from terrorist attacks
Make us more a more likely target
Not make any measurable difference
Be a waste of money better spent controlling our borders and combatting domestic terrorism
Other, please specify.

Vote here or use the widget in the sidebar.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

The Real Diet Programme

OK, as someone who has recently lost close to 2 stone in weight after the doctor told me I had to, I thought I'd share my plan for how I made this happen:

  • Stop Eating so much shit
More specifically:
  • Fill up at breakfast. I'm having porridge every day, or some cereals and fruit and maybe some toast.
  • Cut right down on the sugar and fat.
  • Get a bit of exercise (but really, that's like 30 minutes walk most days)
  • Don't go hungry, but snack on healthy things or have something to drink.

I'd really love to be able to expand this into a diet programme with books and packets of expensive things for sale, especially as it works, but honestly, that's about it. And the last one is my best advice: there is nothing else to do with feelings of hunger but to eat or drink. Just don't eat shit.

And you don't need "diet" foods. They're just small portions of garbage (diet drinks seem to be pretty much OK, although I have no ideas what the chemicals inside them are doing).

There are a few neat tricks that I found, too. Like:-

  • Use healthy flavourings. So, mustard instead of pickle in a ham sandwich. Replace the creamy salad sauce with a light vinaigrette. Use spices or garlic to flavour foods (which are like no calories).
  • If someone offers you cake, have a tiny piece. It's not like you taste it after the first mouthful anyway. Same with chocolate and sweets - I'll grab 3 or 4 of the kids ones occassionally and leave it at that. After the initial pang of desire is gone, I'm OK.
  • Buy tastier natural products. So, I'm buying gourmet coffee that tastes great, which means I don't feel like adding sugar.
  • Have healthy stuff around to snack on and eat if you feel like it. If I'm working late and get that "must eat" feeling, I just grab a carrot, some fruit or some raisins. We've got a little popcorn maker and popcorn with nothing on it is healthy. You can throw some cinammon on it and it's still healthy. Or salt as long as you don't have too much.
And I'm not being entirely good. There's a Swiss cafe at Zurich airport and I figured I had to have something traditional while I was there, so had some bratwurst with rosti and gravy. Which was lovely, but that'll be my bad meal for the week. Oh, and I don't need some "points tracking" bullshit either. You know full well if you've eaten the unhealthy stuff, and you can do it occassionally. If your weight isn't going down, you need to make it more occassional. Job done.

And while you can calorie count, or sugar/fat count, and while you probably should eat grapefruit because it's better than oranges, the numbers are academic. Fruit is better for you than cake. Grilled fish is better for you than kebabs. There's probably some stuff in the middle, but there's a lot of stuff that's a no-brainer about eat/don't eat. 

See, I think most diet programmes are just for people kidding themselves. It's like people who buy a musical instrument, or A Brief History of Time. They think the action of buying is enough. And the more elaborate you make it, the more the diet seems worthwhile.

Correct use of the word "like".

Two of these sentences are grammatically correct and are verifiable statements of fact (true/false). One is meaningless to the point of being gibberish:

1. "I am sitting in the garden."

2. "I like sitting in the garden."

3. "I am like sitting in the garden."

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Can you spare 15 minutes to wreck the economy some more?

Do you have some spare time and money to campaign against taxes on landlords? They're not taking these attacks on their way of life laying down.

In the more recent comments, NW Landlord reveals:

One of my business partners has there own manager within the council personally handling all of the claims and issues with payments because they are that worried that if he decides not to benefits they will have literally hundreds of families looking to be housed and with this universal credit it’s going that way let alone clause 21. where are all these families going to live if we can’t meet our tax bills and government pulls the plug?

Gareth Wilson spots an opportunity:

Perhaps your friend or even his manager could be convinced to write to the Mail as well or any number of the other members of public office we have been trying to awaken. Should our arguments be voiced by an individual within a council, they could carry more weight.

Manchester Landlord has a cunning plan:

In a few years Conservative party members will have the opportunity to vote for the next conservative leader in the run up to the election. As a collective of tens of thousands of landlords we could threaten to become members and vote for his opposition. Call it bribery or blackmail or whatever you like, but this will make him listen very carefully.

But Darren Bell would favour a more direct approach

A landlord strike would have a powerful effect. Put a load of tenants on notice and whilst the local authorities are trying to deal with the problem throw the ball back into Gorden Osbourne’s court. Result, new tenants on higher rents, GO with his tail between his legs.

Ros likes Manchester landlord's idea best:

I’m loving it! Depends who is standing against him of course – we don’t want to get rid of the Shah only to end up with the Ayatolla – but I agree it is a potentially brilliant idea, ML. And if we all agree on it, we should start publicising the idea asap so that he gets wind of it.

All right then, fuck off.

Continuing our occasional series of flimsy arguments for remaining a Member State of the EU which on closer inspection are arguments for leaving, from the Evening Standard:

A vote to quit the European Union would trigger a flood of up to 100,000 banking jobs out of London, senior City figures have warned.

One board-level banker told the Standard that “Brexit” would force dozens of banks that have their European headquarters in London to relocate highly-paid professionals to rival EU financial centres such as Frankfurt, Luxembourg and Dublin.

He estimated that staffing levels at some investment banks in London could fall by as much as half, with a huge knock-on effect for the broader economy and property prices.

What conclusions can we draw from this?

1. The banks, being the most corporatist of corporatists love the EU. So the EU is guilty by association and we should vote to leave.

2. If you want shot of a few bankers, vote to leave.

3. If you would like London housing to be a bit less unaffordable for ordinary people, vote to leave.

While I'm on the topic, other world financial centres like New York, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo - remind me, are they in the EU or not?