Monday, 16 July 2018

"Police continue to investigate 'cow in car boot' on M4"

Full story at the BBC.

In fairness, it's not in a car boot, it's in the back of an estate car, and looks content enough to me.

Fun with numbers

From last week's City AM:

Re: Trump claims Nato spending win after US President warned over US membership

As Donald Trump calls for Nato members to spend more on defence, it is important to consider where the US currently spends its 3.5 per cent of GDOP.

According to figures from the US Department of Defense [sic], even the flagship European Defence Initiative only accounts for 0.67 per cent of the US defence budget, the majority being spent at home or in the Pacific. Only five per cent of US personnel are stationed in Europe - it is Japan that hosts the largest number.

By contrast, almost all defence expenditure by European Nato members occurs in the North Atlantic area. All Nato members should meet the two per cent target but it must be noted that a large proportion of the US's 3.5 per cent is spent elsewhere.

TH Dempster.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Friday night gearchange(s)

Barbara Mandrell, "Tonight my baby's coming home".

Her baby takes the scenic route. He sets off in A#, changes up to B after 26 seconds, and then does the rest of the journey home via C after 1 minute 11 seconds.

"Woman 'killed by a cow' on farm near Worcester"

Emailed in by occasional cow-respondent Robert H, from the Worcester News:

AN inquest has been opened into the death of Patricia Ann Ganderton, aged 64, who was reportedly killed by a cow.

The inquest has been scheduled for Monday, July 23, at 2pm at Stourport Coroner's Court, with coroner Geraint Urias Williams presiding. The hearing is set to last an hour.

The Worcester News understands that the woman suffered fatal injuries when a cow attacked her on a farm in Hallow.


Reader's Letter Of The Day

From yesterday's Metro, on the topic of the Thai cave rescue:

Perhaps attention will now turn to how the boys got there in the first place.

Derek Gomer, Pontypridd

Thursday, 12 July 2018

"I can't be the censor. It's not for me to decide what's in good taste or bad taste."

From The Daily Mail:

Sadiq Khan has defended his approval of a giant 'baby Trump' blimp which will fly above London during a visit by the US President...

"My views are irrelevant. The issue is 'Do they have freedom to protest, freedom to assemble and should they be allowed to do so? If it's peaceful and it's safe they should.'

Piers Morgan asked the mayor if he would have endorsed a giant black baby blimp of Barack Obama in protest during his presidency, or an image depicting Mr Khan as a pig despite that being offensive to Muslims.

Mr Khan said: 'If it's peaceful and if it's safe. Look, I can't be the censor. It's not for me to decide what's in good taste or bad taste.'


Piers Morgan came up with some really good suggestions there, although he chickened out of suggesting that Obama's balloon would have been a monkey with Obama's face on it, that would have really got the crowd going. I'm all in favour of the Trump balloon, and would have been equally delighted by a pig with Khan's face.

Returning to the main issue, Khan has made it his job to censor stuff, like adverts with pictures of slim women and adverts for affordable ready cooked meals. Pity Morgan didn't confront him with those examples.

Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Reinventing the wheel, although it's a good wheel to reinvent.

This IPPR report has some good stuff in it, in among the waffle (as you can see from the excerpt below). The recommendation that was given most attention (favourable and unfavourable*) is that house prices could/should be stabilised by capping loan-to-value and loan-to-income ratios:

Currently, the FPC achieves its objectives via controls on loan-to-value and debt-to-income ratios allowed by mortgage providers, and controls on the proportion of mortgages in bank portfolios. The FPC recently implemented a loan-to-income ratio of 4.5 for 15 per cent of new mortgages, even though the Bank of England recently estimated that around 11 per cent of mortgages exceeded this ratio in 2015 (Chakraborty et al 2017).

Implementing targets that bite requires giving the FPC a strong mandate to limit asset price inflation. Since house price inflation is different in parts of the country, the FPC’s guidance should be regionally specific. There is a risk that a target for house price inflation, tackled through macroprudential tools, could inadvertently increase inequality, by reducing access to credit for the  poorest borrowers**. To mitigate this risk, we recommend that the exact nature of the target, and the tools the FPC be given to achieve it, be determined jointly by the Bank of England and the Treasury, and be put out for consultation before being implemented.

House prices are also determined by other factors, not least the supply of housing, and therefore adoption of the target would need to be accompanied by a much more active housing policy. This might include public housebuilding, changes to planning policy, and curbs on overseas purchases of UK homes (Ryan-Collins et al 2017). The FPC should be able to request that the government do more with housing policy if it judges that it will be unable to meet its target through macroprudential tools alone.

It is also worth noting, however, that recent research has shown that the level of mortgage lending is the primary determinant of house prices (Ryan-Collins et al 2017).


Well duh, this is what building societies did until the 1980s. And it worked a treat, getting rid of these limits was a key part in stoking the Home-Owner-Ist bonfire. The report doesn't emphasise enough that this is all tried and tested IMHO.

* The nutters at CapX are sticking to the Faux Lib orthodoxy that it's all about supply and lax lending has nothing to do with it, despite the report going to some length to provide evidence to support their opposite and correct explanation.

** They are undermining their own case here. Credit bubbles are an arms race. By being allowed to borrow more, every borrower ends up worse off, rich and poor alike. It is quite possibly the case that higher income borrowers will see bigger absolute savings than lower income people (in fact, mathematically that must be true), but so what? Overall equality (taking earnings and housing wealth together) will increase, and higher income and lower income aren't competing to buy the same houses anyway.

So how did people manage in the days of black and white television?

From the BBC:

Sean Hargrave is a self-declared football obsessive, but when he sat down to watch the opening match of the 2018 World Cup he couldn't tell one team from the other.

He wasn't the only one struggling. Roars of frustration jumped from sitting rooms to social media as fans worldwide branded Russia v Saudi Arabia "a disgrace".

The problem? Sean, like 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women, is colour-blind...

"Thailand cave rescue: water pumps failed just after last ladyboy escaped"

From The Guardian:

The rescue operation to free the last of the 12 ladyboys and their football coach from a Thailand cave could have been a disaster, divers have revealed, with water pumps draining the area failing just hours after the last ladyboy had been evacuated.

Divers and rescue workers were still more than 1.5km inside the cave clearing up equipment when the main pump failed, leading water levels to rapidly increase, three Australian divers involved in the operation told the Guardian on Wednesday, in the first detailed account of the mission to be published...

The remaining 100 workers inside the cave frantically rushed to the exit and were out less than an hour later, including the last three Thai navy Seals and medic who had spent much of the past week keeping vigil with the trapped ladyboys.

Tuesday, 10 July 2018

Piss poor use of statistics of the week

From the BBC:

Research for the report, carried out by the University of Exeter, shows the extent of the challenge - with figures showing how few places in 2016 were awarded to applicants from areas with few young people going to university.

Meaningless. This boils down to: "few people from areas where few people go to university go to university".

The University of Cambridge had only 3% of entrants from such "low participation neighbourhoods", the University of Bristol 3.7%, Oxford 4.6% and Exeter 5.3%.

Meaningless. We are not told what percentage of potential students live in a "low participation neighbourhood". If about 4% of potential students live in such areas, we'd only expect 3% - 5% of students at any university to be from such areas.