Saturday, November 19, 2005

Coal Prices

Me no understand doctor.

Domestic coal prices are about £140 a metric tonne and anthracite at about £165 - unless my coal merchant is robbing us blind. If you buy it in plastic bags on special offer you might get £150 a tonne.

According to the DTI, top quality steam coal in 2004 was a maximum of £37 a tonne.

Prices for internationally traded steam coal imported into North West Europe was around £20/tonne in 2002, but have risen strongly since then and reached an average of £37/tonne in 2004. Between 2003 and 2004, international imported steam coal prices increased by 49 per cent on £ sterling basis. Prices received by UK producers for sales to generators have been in the range £26/tonne to £28/tonne over the period 2002-04.

OK, so the generators are buying the stuff a million tonnes at a time. But that's still a hefty discount for quantity.

They dig excellent steam coal out of the ground at Tower Colliery, the last deep mine in Wales, about 90 miles from my place. £150-plus would be the domestic price.

A 3.5 ton tipper Transit costs about £300 for a week's hire - say £500 with the diesel, excess miles, VAT and a washdown for the vehicle afterwards. Given seventeen(ish) Gloucestershire folk needing a tonne each, what pithead price would you have to get to make a profit and undercut the £150 price ? One return trip a day, 3.5 dropoffs, 17.5 tonnes at £120 a tonne - that's £2100 worth of sales. Pay yourself £500 (this is a cash business), your costs are £1,000 plus the price of the coal, which would be £62 a tonne - still over 50% above the bulk price.

I rang Tower Colliery a few years back and asked if I could take a truck over there. No, they said - all their domestic sales were handled by a local reseller in Hirwaun. I rang them - £150 a tonne.

Either my on-the-fly cowboy no-tax-or-insurance business plan is useless - or somebody's making money out of UK coal.

Dalai Lama ...

Is back in Scotland. Let's hope Johann Hari gets another interview.

We take some quick photographs, and, as he poses, I try to ask him to elaborate on his comments criticising the massive inequalities of wealth in the West. "Yes, it is wrong," he says as he smiles. "Why do the rich need so much? We each only have one stomach. Well, not you," he says, looking at my belly. "You appear to have two."

I see that Johann is a fan of Chris Dillow, who has just been Normed, revealing a love of Hank Williams and Gray's Elegy, but a dislike of public schoolboys.

Chris Dillow went to a State grammar and was obviously well educated there, but I think bashing publicans is, while great fun, otherwise pointless. In huge areas of Britain (i.e. those with comprehensive education) they will soon be the only educated people to be found.

Bradford Robbery And Murder

Poor girl. And her poor children.

Sharon Beshendsky, 38, a mother of three children and two stepchildren, was killed on her youngest son's fourth birthday. (The BBC have since changed 'son' to daughter').

Two probationers together ? Couldn't they have had some brawny Tyke with them ? Morley Street is only a stone's throw from Bradford police HQ.

I didn't know travel agents had much cash on them - I'm pretty sure Lunn Poly wouldn't be much of a target. It was after a Bradford travel agency robbery that the heroic Tasawar Hussain was killed.

Hawala ? Just a thought - but even then that wouldn't necessarily imply cash on the premises. It's a wonderful system, based on trust - which you don't find a lot of in UK retail finance. A comprehensive guide here - and that doesn't imply it's all about laundering money. Lots of things can be put to good or bad uses.

UPDATE - the Mirror reports :

"Businessmen claim there could have been thousands of pounds in the shop which offers a service transferring cash to friends and relatives in Pakistan."

And Tasawar Hussein's killers had robbed a Lumb Lane travel agency of £40,000 in cash.

Thursday, November 17, 2005


In the US, like the UK, sex offenders have to register with the police. But in the Land Of The Free their locations aren't kept hidden from the public.

4,400 registered sex offenders were evacuated from the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina.

But only 92 have been re-registered.

In other news, three evacuees have been charged with murdering an elderly church worker who offered them work. Nice people.

Good News From Academia

"Racial integration increasing, study shows", said the Guardian.

UK 'growing more racially integrated'

Well, integration must be a positive thing, surely ? So it's good news at last, after the depressing series of riots in British cities over the last five years - and there's more.

The study also says that immigration is not the reason for increased numbers of non-white Britons over the past decade, and that "white flight" from inner cities is another myth.

So all those deluded commentators are worrying about nothing, then ?

Well, not exactly. The study, by Dr Steve Simpson of Manchester University, takes as a measure of integration the number of electoral wards with an ethnic minority population of 10% or above. I'm not sure this measure of integration is quite what most people would mean by the word. They'd consider it implied some sense of shared values, of 'cultural signifiers' held in common. Physical proximity rather than cultural commonality isn't necessarily a recipe for a happy society, as the 1947 Punjab, 1990s Bosnia or 2005 Lozells attest. The Guardian report itself notes that Birmingham now has 27 'integrated' wards out of 39, an increase of exactly 50% in ten years.

Stripped of it's 'integration' spin, Dr Simpson is showing us the simple fact that an increasing proportion of the English population is non-Native, a trend that shows no signs of abating.

What about the claim that the increased ethnic minority population is nothing to do with immigration ?

"The common myth is that the growth of the ethnic minority population is due to immigration. That's not true - it is more due to the growth of [ethnic minority] people born in Britain."

Ethnic minority populations are younger and have fewer elderly people than white communities. The number of Asian and black people is increasing because fewer die from old age and they have more women of childbearing age relative to white people.

I see. And rain is caused by little drops of water falling from the sky - it's got nothing to do with those grey fluffy things that block the sun.

You could just about stretch his 'point' - if you argue that the descendants of immigrants (not immigrants themselves) have a high birthrate. Otherwise, where are all those women of childbearing age coming from ?

But of course it's not even true by that measure. A professional demographer like Dr Simpson must be aware of the ONS figures (p75) showing that nearly one in five of all babies born in England has a mother who herself was not born in the UK ?

You'd almost think Dr Simpson was making the facts fit some pre-conceived agenda - but surely not - the man's an academic who will look dispassionately at the facts. Does this (I forgive him the apostrophes, painful though they are) read like the work of a man with a political axe to grind ?

Certainly on current demographic trends we can look forward to many more such cheery reports in the Guardian.

PS - in my post of last December I opined that Fiji might be, not exactly a model - more a warning of our political future.

I wonder if Mark Steyn read it ?

State Education - Ruth Kelly Lashes Out

"Let me be crystal clear. These arrangements will be within the admissions code that ensure fair admissions. There will be no free for all. And there will be no return to selection by ability by the front door, back door, trap door, green door or any other door at all."

"We will continue to ensure that no state-educated child goes to a school anywhere near as good as the one I went to".

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

"I will never trust another doctor'"

"When a doctor does go wrong, he is the first of criminals. He has nerve and he has knowledge." - Conan Doyle, The Speckled Band.

She certainly has the nerve. Most NHS trusts like to get a court order before they pull the plug against the family's wishes.

A doctor has been found guilty of serious professional misconduct for taking measures to end the life of a patient against his family's wishes.
Dr Ann David's treatment of a patient at Basildon Hospital was "irresponsible and unprofessional" the General Medical Council (GMC) found on Wednesday.

The hearing found that Dr David, 47, of Rayleigh, Essex, was "clinically unjustified" in withdrawing treatment.

She had taken Robert Symons, 60, off a ventilator despite family objections.

The panel also ruled this was "inappropriate" and "premature".

Charges against her alleged that she brought the life of her patient "to an end earlier than would have occurred naturally".

Essex Police later launched an investigation into Dr David over allegations about the death of a number of patients, but the matter was dropped by Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) due to lack of evidence.

In other news, the trial of two men charged with bringing Anthony Walker's life "to an end earlier than would have occurred naturally" continues, with full coverage on all major news channels.

And the trial of three people who "took measures to end the life" of Christopher Yates continues with no coverage at all.

Let us hope that the murderers are punished as they deserve. As all murderers should be.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Young Businessman Of The Year

"statistician and bomb-maker"

It's not a combination you see often in the obituary columns.

Compare And Contrast ...

Gary Younge :

The children of immigrants to France do worse economically than the natives.

This is a Bad Thing.

Yazza :

The children of immigrants to England do better economically than the natives.

This is a Good Thing.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Too Tired To Blog ...

So take a look at Irene Adler on the censorship of the European riots and Pub Philosopher on the idiotic Children's Commissar.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

This ...

Is why those who can afford it send their kids to schools where a love of learning doesn't come with a trip to hospital thrown in.

"I was really pleased to get the awards and my name was called out in assembly," said Danielle Price, who had to have a gash to her eyelid glued together in hospital and needed treatment for cuts.

"But as I was on morning break I was lured over by a group of older girls.

"I thought they were going to congratulate me but I was jumped on from behind and my neck was grabbed.

"I was battered in the face by this girl - I was terrified.

"My nose was bleeding, my eyelid was split and all my eyes were swollen up. It should have been one of my best days in school but I spent the rest of the day in hospital."

Scary ...

BBC's Radio 4 Analysis (RealAudio, 'til Thursday).

Now I'm not against all aspects of political Islam - that Sayyed Qutb talks a lot of sense - but what scared me were the interviews with students at London's School of African and Oriental Studies (SAOS), a place which the Magna Mater calls the School of Orchestrated Anti-Semitism.

Asked about the terrorist attacks in Iraq, Muslim students pointed out that it was quite possible that the bombings were being carried out by the British and Americans. I paraphrase :

"Why would they want to do that ?"

"To give them a reason to stay in Iraq"

What about the attacks by al-Zarqawi's group on Shia Muslims ?

"To me, they're not Sunni or Shia - they're Muslims. We don't believe in dividing them into different groups"

"But al-Zarquawi has declared war on the Shia"

"We don't necessarily believe everything we hear reported from Iraq. We know that divide and rule is the technique the British Empire used"

They've been taught that, as have two generations of university students and a generation of schoolchildren. You should see my son's school history texts. As Dalrymple said only the other day, British Islamism is a potent cocktail of Islamnic grievance with Brit liberal guilt. Ideas have consequences.