Tuesday 30 August 2022

Get back to the office, you plebs!

From The Telegraph:

Home workers are likely to be driven back to the office en masse this winter, experts have suggested, because of the added cost. Ofgem, the energy regulator, confirmed on Friday its energy price cap would jump by 80 per cent to £3,549 per year in October.

As a result, average monthly energy bills will hit £789 in January for home workers compared with £580 for those going into work, according to price comparison site Uswitch. This equates to £209 a month and £2,508 a year. Remote working will still add £131 to energy bills each month from October, Uswitch found.

Sure, for a single person in an average home, which they could leave empty and unheated during the daytime, and whose extra commute costs would be materially less than £2,500 a year, this might tip the balance towards going to the office.

That is a small subset of all workers. What if there is another adult who would be at home most of the time (working from home or raising kids)? Or kids who come home early from school every day or are an school holiday? Or whose extra commute costs would be materially more than the vaunted £2,500 utility saving (if you include cash cost plus time wasted each day)? That's a lot of people.

Monday 29 August 2022

"Find the area of the square"

Another one from Mind Your Decisions that YT suggested I watch a week or two ago:
He then does it the obvious and quick but rather boring way, using Pythag.

I watched the first minute (so that I didn't know his method or the answer) and then decided to drift off to sleep to see whether my subconscious could work out how to do it using the 'co-ordinates' method. At four in the morning, I dreamed that I knew how to do it and was explaining it to my daughter (who's doing a maths degree). So I woke up and tried it; my subconscious had cracked it for me!

First, redraw the picture, mentally at least:
The formula for a circle is X^2 + Y^2 = 1.
The two blue outlined squares touch the origin (0,0) and point D.
The equation for the green line is Y = X/2.
Point D has co-ordinates that satisfy both equations.
So (X^2)/4 + X^2 = 1.
Point D has co-ordinates X = √0.8, Y = √0.2.
Point B has co-ordinates (0,√0.2).
Length AB = √0.2.
The orange triangle must be a 90-45-45 triangle, so length AC also = √0.2
Length BC (using Pythag) = √0.4.
BC is the side length of the square, so the area of the square = 0.4.

Thursday 25 August 2022


I've just come across a reference to this book, Victims of Groupthink, A psychological study of foreign-policy decisions and fiascoes. Written in 1972, it investigates the decision-making involved in the Bay of Pigs fiasco, as well as the policy debacles of the Korean War, Pearl Harbour, and the escalation of the VietNam War.

The book sums up Groupthink as a process of three main parts:

First, a group of people come to share a common view, often proposed by a few individuals deemed to be credentialised have authority in the subject. It is a view however, not based in reality. These adherents may be convinced intellectually that their view is right, but their belief cannot be tested in a way which could confirm it – beyond doubt. It is simply based on a picture of the world as they imagine it to be, or more to the point, would like it to be.

The second rule is that precisely because their shared view is essentially subjective and not provable, Groupthinkers go out of their way to insist that it is so self-evidently correct that a ‘consensus’ of all right-minded people must agree with it. Any contradictory evidence, and the views of anyone who does not agree with them, can be disregarded entirely.

Third, and highly significant, is the rule which states that in order to reinforce the conviction of the ‘in-group’ that their viewpoint is right, they need to treat the opinions of anyone who questions it as wholly unacceptable. These latter people are considered to be obtuse, and who should not be engaged with in any serious dialogue, but rather should be shut down. Those outside the bubble must be marginalised and if necessary, their views mercilessly caricatured to make them seem ridiculous.

If this is not enough, they must be attacked in the most violently contemptuous terms, usually with the aid of some scornfully dismissive label – such as ‘bigot’, ‘prude’, ‘xenophobe’ or ‘denier’. Dissent in any form cannot be tolerated. Some members of the group take it upon themselves to become ‘mind guards’ and correct dissenting beliefs.

Remind anyone of anything?

Monday 22 August 2022

"Like a bull in a china shop"

I've always imagined it much like this, from the BBC:

Sunday 21 August 2022

So that makes it OK to blow her up, does it?

The BBC reports the death of Darya Dugin when her car was blown up. After half a page on which neither disapproval of the act, nor any sympathy for the relatives of the victim is expressed, the article comes out with this:

Darya Dugina was herself a prominent journalist who vocally supported the invasion of Ukraine. Earlier this year she was sanctioned by US and UK authorities, who accused her of contributing to online "disinformation" about Russia's invasion. In May, she described the war as a "clash of civilisations" in an interview and expressed pride in the fact that both she and her father had been targeted by Western sanctions.

Doesn't seem much of a reason for murder, does it?

Call that a consensus? This is a consensus!

It looks like real scientists have just about had enough of the crap that the climate "scientists" spout.

The so called "consensus" on the anthropogenic nature of climate change, which was based on a meta-study of papers published on climate change was flawed as the vast majority of scientists who can be bothered to or are paid to, publish papers about climate change can only be bothered to or are only paid to, because they, or their patrons, feel that climate change is anthropogenic, hence it is something that man can and thus should do something about. The ‘World Climate Declaration (WCD)’ shows the consensus amongst non-climate scientists that what the climate "scientists are doing isn't real science:

Particular ire in the WCD is reserved for climate models. To believe in the outcome of a climate model is to believe what the model makers have put in. Climate models are now central to today’s climate discussion and the scientists see this as a problem. “We should free ourselves from the naïve belief in immature climate models,” says the WCD. “In future, climate research must give significantly more emphasis to empirical science.”

The WCD also points out that the "consensus" is, to a large extent, enforced by its own adherents:

The scale of the opposition to modern day ‘settled’ climate science is remarkable, given how difficult it is in academia to raise grants for any climate research that departs from the political orthodoxy. (A full list of the signatories is available here.) Another lead author of the declaration, Professor Richard Lindzen, has called the current climate narrative “absurd”, but acknowledged that trillions of dollars and the relentless propaganda from grant-dependent academics and agenda-driven journalists currently says it is not absurd.

Unfortunately, I suspect it will take more than this to change the tide of bigotry. There's none so blind as them that don't want to see.

Friday 19 August 2022

Sadiq Khan - does he actually believe the crap he spouts?

From The Telegraph:

Sadiq Khan blamed the cost of living crisis for the crimewave sweeping London as police faced a backlash over a recent spate of murders...

“Before the summer holidays began, the police, myself and others were warning about what we’ve seen in previous summers – we have seen an increase in violent crime and the cost of living crisis exacerbates this,” he said, “Why? Because one of the complex causes of crime is deprivation, poverty, lack of opportunities and so forth."

The 'crime wave' started shortly he took over as London Mayor six years ago. Why not blame Brexit, global warming and the war in Ukraine? At least he can't blame 'the obesity epidemic', which he claims to have single-handedly solved - based on the most made-up statistics ever.

And it's "I", not "myself" in that context, so he's either pretentious or badly educated or both.

Thursday 18 August 2022

First Rule of Home-Owner-Ist Club

House prices may not fall, whatever the cost (to the taxpayer). From The Torygraph:

Government failure to provide support for struggling homeowners will trigger a “tsunami of repossessions” which will damage house prices, experts have warned.

And who are these experts, pray tell?

Andrew Wishart, of Capital Economics, a research firm, said: "We now forecast that the unemployment rate will rise from 3.8pc to over 5pc, which will push up repossessions, though they should remain well below the levels reached in the house price crashes of the early 1990s and 2008." Capital Economics has forecast a 7pc house price drop over the next two years...

The article does not say on whose behalf they did this research, he who pays the piper calls the tune. And there are another three years to go before it all collapses again, they should know that by now.

A Government spokesman said: “We recognise people are struggling with rising prices which is why we are protecting the eight million most vulnerable families with at least £1,200 of direct payments this year, with a £150 top-up payment for disabled people.”

Why would banks lend shed loads of money to the "eight million most vulnerable families", knowing that any rate rises would tip them over the edge? Because they know the government will bail them out? It works out far cheaper (i.e. saves the taxpayer money and makes a reliable small surplus year on year) just building council housing for them.

And it's another reason for simply nationalising all lending to home buyers. Why let commercial banks make hay while the sun shines and bail them out when it starts raining? That way the taxpayer gets the profits in the good times, as well the losses in bad times. Without house price/credit bubbles and reckless lending, banks would be far more resilient and there'd be no need for taxpayer-backed bail outs.

The English Rain Dance

In some cultures, if there's not enough rain, they do ritual dances and so on, I doubt very much that they work. Apart from attracting tourists.

The English appear to have stumbled across the secret - if a drought threatens, the water suppliers announce hose-pipe bans, and hey presto, within a couple of days we don't need them any more. We've seen this happen often enough in our lifetimes.

Clearly, it will take months for aquifers, rivers and reservoirs to get back to normal, and I do not know whether or when the farmers will have had enough rain to harvest their crops, bearing in mind they have to dry out a bit first, but I'm glad to see the back of the heatwaves.

Wednesday 17 August 2022

Home-Owner-Ism and rent seeking taken to its logical conclusion

Excellent article about a specific case from the BBC with lots of gory details.

Worth reading in full, there's no point me summarising.

Tuesday 16 August 2022

Scientists paid to find evidence find evidence - shock

From the BBC:

The record temperatures in the UK last week would have been "almost impossible" without human-induced climate change, leading scientists have concluded...

The findings are released by the World Weather Attribution group - a collection of leading climate scientists who meet after an extreme weather event to determine whether climate change made it more likely.

When they say "determine whether", they clearly mean "determine that". They are hardly likely to spend years putting out press releases saying "nothing to see here", are they?

The whole thing is nuts anyway. Temperatures have been going up and rainfall patterns changing in many parts of the world since the Little Ice Age ended (they have been surprisingly stable in other parts). By definition, higher (or indeed colder) temperatures and different rainfall patterns indicate "climate change". Their job is entirely superfluous.

We have few records on the what happened during transition from the Dark Ages cooler period to the Mediæval Warm Period and even less (fewer?) on how quick the start of the Roman Warm Period was, so nobody has any idea whether this is "normal".

Monday 15 August 2022

Cattle news

From The Daily Mail:

* Sharon Eley, 51, was surround by 20 cows who headbutted her in a brutal attack in the Lancashire countryside.
* She was walking through the countryside with her dog and a friend when they encountered violent animals
* Her injuries included 15 broken ribs, a punctured lung, shattered ankle and broken clavicle and severe bruises
* A keen and experienced walker, Sharon spent a month in hospital and underwent two surgeries to repair ankle
* She is now urging others to be wary when they cross fields with cows in them so they may avoid the same fate

Don't cross fields with cows in them, full stop. And what's often fatal is having a dog with you, especially if there are calves present, which there were in this case.

Her companion warned her about this: "It was only when they entered the second field that they spotted the 20 cows, including calves, huddled together around 20ft away. 'My friend said to me 'oh God I'm not sure about this Sharon' and I said 'it's ok, we'll just wide berth them,' Ms Eley said. 'Don't worry, don't run, it's all good, just stand behind me, don't worry about it'."

And this year's Spanish bull runs were a huge success, from the bulls' point of view. From the BBC:

Three men have died in 24 hours from wounds suffered during bull-running festivals in eastern Spain. They had all taken part in the Valencia region's traditional bous al carrer (bull-running), when bulls charge through towns, often with people running ahead of them.

Animal rights groups have long complained of the dangers for the public as well as the animals. They say 20 people have died in the region in the past eight years.

Thursday 11 August 2022

Mind Your Decisions - maths fail

Watch the first minute or so of his recent video, until he's explained the question, then press pause:

He rambles on for another five minutes explaining, rather too quickly, an unnecessarily complicated way of working it out. Try doing it my way (below) first to really torture yourself when you are watching it!

I left the following comment:

Far too complicated!

It's length 4 from one corner of a hexagon to the opposite corner.
'Vertical' height of each triangle in the hexagon = sq rt 3.
Put the square flat on the table, fold up the flaps and look at it from the side.
Point E/F is 1 'across' and has hypotenuse sq rt 3.
Acos 1/sq rt 3 = 54.74 deg (no need to know length of the other side).

Then rotate the square so that you are looking at it diagonally from one corner.
Distance from E/F to a point diagonally opposite (assuming there are four hexagons all folded up) = 4 x sq rt 2.
Distance diagonally across the square = 2 x sq rt 2.
So point E/F is sq rt 2 'across' and has hypotenuse 2 (side length of hexagon).
Acos sq rt 2/2 = 45 deg (no need to know length of the other side).

Took my daugher two minutes once I had explained the basic approach. OK, she's studying maths...

Tuesday 9 August 2022

The "Science" behind Alarmism in a nutshell.

Ironic, because the writer of xkcd.com is himself a Believer.

Sunday 7 August 2022

Covid-19 - four-month waves (part 3)

AS I said in March: "Looking at that, I won't be surprised if there's another peak in June 2022."

It seems that the various variants of the virus are mutating more slowly and/or resistance (from previous infections or jabs) is waning more slowly, because the peak of the current wave wasn't until late July. From Worldometers:
But better roughly right as precisely wrong as they say. The good news is that even at the peak, daily deaths were only a fraction of previous peaks, and barely up from the low in June. Unless 'they' just can't bothered collecting/faking* the numbers any more (* delete according to taste).

And I guess the next wave in four or five months' time will be barely noticeable and we can concentrate on worrying about something else, like World War Three, the cost of living crisis or Ukraine-related mass hunger.

Saturday 6 August 2022

It's like having a new car!

The man at the garage had been saying for some time that the gear box in my MR2 (pre-facelift 5-speed) is 'very noisy', whatever that means. And it was definitely on its last legs, gear changes were crunchy and painful, so if possible I'd start in 2nd, get up to 40 mph and then shift straight to 5th (it is very short ratios!).

I finally got organised a month ago, went up to Carlisle to collect a new-ish box (the later facelift version 6-speed) from Dick Sloan (£650), the local garage faffed about for three-and-a-half weeks (£614 incl. new clutch, incl. VAT) and I picked it up again yesterday.

It's like having a new car! I've had clutches replaced before, but they were just incremental improvements - this is a world apart, and it was a great car before anyway. Combined with the new-ish 6-speed, it is quieter (he was right about the noise); gear changes are buttery smooth; the ratios are the same as the 5-speed with a longer 6th, so you can do 70 mph at 3,000 revs not 3,500 (so doubly quiet on the motorway and better fuel economy); it seems to accelerate better (although this is possibly illusory, bugger all happens in 6th of course); etc etc.

£1,300 all in (incl. petrol to Carlisle and back) seems a lot if you say it like that, but nowadays that's 20 visits to the petrol station, and it will extend the car's life by five or ten years. So worth every penny.

Friday 5 August 2022

Beyoncé - good at singing and dancing, rubbish at filthy lyrics

Ms Knowles, a squeaky clean living God-Botherer in her early 40s, decided to have a go at a bit of 'dirty talk' in one of the the songs on her latest long-playing record.

The disability campaigners are up in arms about the use of the word "spazz".

Had she intended to insult or make fun of people with disabilities, I would wholeheartedly agree with them. Having actually listened to the song with lyrics on YouTube, it is quite clear that she simply doesn't know how to swear properly.

The offending word is in a verse is towards the end of the song which also contains words like "titties" and "pussy", so falls far short of the high bar set by Azalea Banks with "212" over a decade ago, which is gloriously and wantonly filthy and offensive from the start, even with all the swearing edited out.

She invites her sexual partner to "spazz on that ass". From the context it is quite clear that she means "jizz on...","spunk on...", "spaff on..." or possibly "wazz on [my] ass", but she somehow jumbles these words into "spazz". Unless she is verbifying the word "spasm" in the medical sense i.e. an involuntary muscle contraction such as an ejaculation.

Thursday 4 August 2022

Headline Of The Week

From The Metro:
Angry man permanently banned from every Sainsbury’s threatens to never shop at Sainsbury’s again

Sliced and diced

For argument's sake, let us assume that this from the BBC is actually a good interpretation of what actually happened, and the whole thing is not false conclusions drawn on the basis of a carefully manipulated series of PR events. Maybe Zawahari was a fictitious character whom the Yanks photo-shopped into existence so that they could later claim credit for eliminating him with a non-existent weapon, what do we know?

The Zawahiri strike, he added, "sounds like a model application" of the [assassination] process. "It sounds like they were very careful and deliberate in this instance to find him in a location and at a time when they could hit just him and not harm any other person," Prof Banks said.

In the case of the Zawahiri strike, it has been suggested, but not confirmed, that the US also used a relatively unknown version of the Hellfire - the R9X - which deploys six blades to slice through targets using its kinetic energy.

In 2017, another al-Qaeda leader and one of Zawahiri's deputies, Abu Khayr al-Masri, was reportedly killed with an R9X Hellfire in Syria. Photos of his vehicle taken after the strike showed that the missile had cut a hole in the roof and shredded its occupants, but without signs of an explosion or any further destruction to the vehicle.

Here is a picture of said vehicle, from The Daily Mail, so that seems like a reasonable conclusion based on scanty evidence:
Anyway, returning to the story:

"... His family protested his innocence and said they were distraught. His wife was reported to be in pieces. Funnily enough, so was he."

Wednesday 3 August 2022

"Mortgage rules eased as Bank of England scraps affordability test stokes the flames in the run up to the next big crash in 2025-26"

From The Independent:

Mortgage borrowing rules have been eased by the Bank of England making it easier for thousands of potential homebuyers to get on the property ladder.

It will not make it easier (i.e. cheaper) for first time buyers, it will just force them to borrow larger sums to pay higher prices for what they would have bought anyway.

The affordability “stress” test forced lenders to assess whether people applying for a mortgage would be able to cope if interest rates rose to 3 percent.

The Bank of England said that the change should not be seen as a “relaxation of the rules”, adding that a number of other measures still in place “ought to deliver the appropriate level of resilence to the UK financial system, but in a simpler, more predictable and more proportionate way.” The test was introduced in 2014 following the 2008 financial crash and was designed to stop reckless lending to people who could not afford it.

But hey, let's allow reckless lending again, now that what happened fourteen years ago is fading from memory. It's like banning guns, seeing gun crime fall and then legalising them again on the basis that gun crime is low.

Another rule, which is still in place, limits most new mortgages to a maximum of 4.5 times a borrower’s income. The Bank of England’s financial policy committee said in 2021, after a review of the rules, that this other limit “is likely to play a stronger role than the affordability test in guarding against an increase in aggregate household indebtedness and the number of highly indebted households in a scenario of rapidly rising house prices.”

FFS. How is borrowing 4.5 times your income, especially if it 4.5 x joint income of a couple, not reckless? Back in the sensible days of Georgism Lite, that limit was about 2.5 x main earner's income.

Added to a decent deposit, that's enough to pay for the bricks and mortar value or the cost of building a new one (with a sane profit margin for the builder), which depresses the price paid for the land/location value, hooray. We know this is true because they were building plenty of new homes for FTB's during Georgism Lite (landlords were frozen out by rent controls, tenant protection and high taxation of unearned income), and the insurance value of housing was pretty close to how much they cost to buy.