Saturday, December 06, 2008

"Pure Evil" ?

Can't quite find it in me to join the chorus of abuse directed at Karen 'pure evil' Matthews. I think the other copper who held forth on the subject, Norman Bettinson, made more sense :

Lack of "personal responsibility" was at the heart of the Shannon Matthews case, a senior police officer has said. West Yorkshire Chief Constable Norman Bettison told BBC One's Panorama programme that the nine-year-old's mother, Karen Matthews, had lived her life "without the sense of having to answer for the consequences of her actions".

That's exactly it. She's behaved irresponsibly all her life and sugar daddy State's picked up the tab every time. She never grew up and never had to. It's not surprising she thought she could get away with it - partly because she's not the sharpest knife in the drawer and partly because she got away with everything else - how was she to know where the limits were ? As for her accomplice, I almost feel sorry for him.

There are tens of thousands of 'families' like the Matthews' all over the UK. Karen's just a particularly prominent peak on the benefit dependency skyline.

Ian Duncan Smith says it again about the underclass and points out one of Laban's favourite themes - that what used to be "the working class" in left rhetoric is now the non-working class.

Britain is witnessing a growth in an underclass whose lifestyles affect everyone. Perhaps the reason why most people haven't been aware of the extent of this is because housing policy has, over 20 to 30 years, ghettoised many of these dysfunctional families. In the Seventies, only 11 per cent of households on the estates weren't working; today barely a third of working-age tenants have full-time work. Less than 15 per cent are headed by a couple with children. Two-thirds are occupied by lone parents, lone men or lone women.

Ms Matthews was a great Jeremy Kyle fan. At which point Dalrymple says it all :

What, then, is left for them? Entertainment and personal relationships. Entertainment, absorbed passively, informs them, through television and films, of a materially more abundant and more glamorous way of life and thus feeds resentment. A sense of their own nothingness and failure breeds powerful emotions—especially jealousy and the intense desire to dominate or possess someone else in order to feel fully in control of at least one aspect of life. It is a world in which men dominate women to inflate their egos, and women want children "so that I can have something of my own" or "someone to love and who'll love me."

Personal relationships in this world are purely instrumental in meeting the need of the moment. They are fleeting and kaleidoscopic, though correspondingly intense. After all, no obligations or pressures—financial, legal, social, or ethical—keep people together. The only cement for personal relationships is the need and desire of the moment, and nothing is stronger but more fickle than need and desire unshackled by obligation.

Unfortunately, the whims of two people rarely coincide, and thus the emotional lives of people—who, remember, have very little else to console or interest them—are repeatedly in crisis. They are the stars of their own soap operas.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

What Is To Be Done ?

It's rapidly becoming apparent - to me, anyway - that GB and NuLab in general are fearful of depression - forseeing civil unrest and all the other consequences of ticking the Weimar boxes.

And it looks as if their least worst option is to inflate their way out of it. They're simultaneously spending lots of money they haven't got, and slashing interest rates to way below inflation. Cue for collapse of sterling.

At this point, long after the smart money's made its exit, Laban wonders if it mightn't be a bad idea to convert his savings into Euros. Gordon seems intent on driving the pound down to 1-1 parity (and then Euro entry), so why not preserve a little value ?

Trouble is, it looks as if the European Central Bank's got the same idea.

Mr Sarkozy said the goal of restoring France's dilapidated public finances to good order could wait for better times. "Not doing anything now would have cost us much more. We're not going to sacrifice the present for the future. This crisis is an ordeal, a painful ordeal and a terrible ordeal, but we have to keep faith," he said.

Italy needs a stimulus package even more badly but is having to tread with care as markets fret over some €200bn of Italian state debt that must be rolled over next year. The yield spread on 10-year bonds has risen to 123 basis points over German Bunds. Giulio Tremonti, Italy's finance minister, insisted yesterday that state bonds were at no risk. "Buy them. They are absolutely solid".

Mr Trichet signalled for the first time that the bank is considering some form of "quantitative easing" (QE), the term used to describe the emergency measures pioneered by Japan during its Lost Decade and now being adopted by the US Federal Reserve.

"We are supplying liquidity on an unlimited basis. We will continue to look very carefully at the situation of the market and if needed we will take new decisions," he said, when asked about QE measures.

I really hoped the historical memory of Germany, the strongest Euro economy, would prevent the ECB attempting to inflate its way out of trouble. Seems not.

Two questions

a) where should a man with some cash put it ? The garage is already full of tins of beans.
b) in the hyperinflation of Weimar, who profited ? What investments preserved value ?

UPDATE - thanks for the helpful advice. Commenter Dawn suggested that in Weimar it was the professional clever-clogs with government contacts ("government power brokers") who could make big profits.

And what's this ? Jonathan Weil :

If you had considered betting against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac this summer -- that is, when the Securities and Exchange Commission wasn't banning short sales of their stocks -- the biggest risk wasn't that they would surprise investors by turning in a good quarter. It was that Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson or Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke would show up before Congress to talk up their stocks and squeeze the shorts.

Your worry is the same if you're thinking of shorting Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. or Citigroup Inc. All Paulson might have to do to separate you from your money is call a press conference. And if you bought toxic mortgage bonds, just before Paulson canceled Treasury's purchases of troubled mortgage-related assets, you've felt his sting already.

When the government let Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. die, there at least was the sense, for a day or so, that somebody very large wasn't too big to fail. Today we understand better: The government is picking winners and losers ...

So, for the time being, the clearest path to making money in the public markets is to know in advance what the government plans to do next with which companies, and when - and then trade on it. Let there be no doubt: Plenty of people with access to such inside information are enriching themselves this way now.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Enough of this idle banter ...

Wrap your lugs round another classic female vocal - LaVern Baker with a backing band as tight as her dress.

Lancet - New Figures Shock Horror

In the most shocking shock issue since the last one, Lancet editor Richard Horton fearlessly exposes the price that British children are paying for George W Bush's War For Oil.

  • Horton and series editor Richard Turner reveal that child maltreatment in the UK has risen by over 6,000% since the start of the Iraq War, with over 950,000 preventable deaths. A child conceived in England and Wales has about a one in four chance of being killed before its first birthday.
  • Aussie social worker Dorothy A Scott recounts the hidden threat that landmines pose to school sports.
  • Top paediatrician Carole Jenny calls for more support for top paediatricians - especially those making outrageous allegations against innocent parents.
  • More top paediatricians call for support for top paediatricians - and for smacking to be made illegal in non-Muslim countries.
In a major development, the heads of all UK children's charities said in response that more money should be given to children's charities. Social work heads thoughout the UK have welcomed the report, saying that it underlined the need for more resources to be devoted to social services.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Defend Miss Snuffleupagus !

She's right that if it all goes pearshaped, which it looks like doing, she'll have to chuck blogging and stick with teaching only. Because her concern for the kids shines through her writing. I love her blog, but I love more the fact that she's out there doing it - which without the blog I'd never have known about.

I'm not an employment lawyer - does anyone know one - ideally one with 'new media' experience ? There's a growing legal field if ever there was one. That and (with growing volumes of fraud) election law.

By the way, if anyone knows of an excellent employment lawyer who they would recommend and who works in London, please email me:
(I notice from her site that most of her archives, including all her 2007 posts and some of her most heartbreaking tales, have vanished)

Monday, December 01, 2008

The Rubaiyat of Gordon Brown

This Kipling parody of the Khayyam/Fitzgerald masterpiece was written for Sir Auckland Colvin, an Anglo-Indian financial administrator who found his Government a bit short of the readies :

In January 1886 he converted some annual licence duties in certain provinces into a general tax on non-agricultural incomes in excess of Rs. 500 per annum. This unpopular proceeding was immortalised in Kipling's Departmental Ditties by The Rupaiyat of Omar Kalvin, which represents the finance member as plying the begging-bowl among his European countrymen.

But doesn't it remind you of our Glorious Leader, Omar Brown - another one "Who hath not Prudence" ?

Now the New Year, reviving last Year's Debt,
The Thoughtful Fisher casteth wide his Net;
So I with begging Dish and ready Tongue
Assail all Men for all that I can get.

Imports indeed are gone with all their Dues--
Lo! Salt a Lever that I dare not use,
Nor may I ask the Tillers in Bengal--
Surely my Kith and Kin will not refuse!

Pay--and I promise by the Dust of Spring,
Retrenchment. If my promises can bring
Comfort, Ye have Them now a thousandfold--
By Allah! I will promise Anything!

Indeed, indeed, Retrenchment oft before
I swore--but did I mean it when I swore?
And then, and then, We wandered to the Hills,
And so the Little Less became Much More.

Whether a Boileaugunge or Babylon,
I know not how the wretched Thing is done,
The Items of Receipt grow surely small;
The Items of Expense mount one by one.

I cannot help it. What have I to do
With One and Five, or Four, or Three, or Two?
Let Scribes spit Blood and Sulphur as they please,
Or Statesmen call me foolish--Heed not you.

Behold, I promise--Anything You will.
Behold, I greet you with an empty Till--
Ah! Fellow-Sinners, of your Charity
Seek not the Reason of the Dearth, but fill.

For if I sinned and fell, where lies the Gain
Of Knowledge? Would it ease you of your Pain
To know the tangled Threads of Revenue,
I ravel deeper in a hopeless Skein?

"Who hath not Prudence"--what was it I said,
Of Her who paints her Eyes and tires Her Head,
And gibes and mocks the People in the Street,
And fawns upon them for Her thriftless Bread?

Accursed is She of Eve's daughters--She
Hath cast off Prudence, and Her End shall be
Destruction . . . Brethren, of your Bounty
Some portion of your daily Bread to Me !

Saying The Things The Natives Can't Say ...

(not without getting arrested, anyway) :

Britain should close its borders to all immigrants for up to 10 years to prevent potential racial unrest, according to one of the country's highest-profile Indian-born businessmen, Sir Gulam Noon.

"We can only accommodate so many. If the room will only hold 10 people, hold a meeting for ten people and not 20. It is simple logic. There is always a danger that for the sake of political correctness, or a party's political advantage, we find ourselves filling up the country with too many immigrants who will disturb the balance and upset the people, particularly the young people, of the host community."

For a party's political advantage ? Who could he be thinking of ? Mr Noon should know of what he writes. Last week he found himself involved in a little disturbed balance in his Bombay hotel.

On the other hand, the "host community" are busy hitting record abortion rates and generally trying their hardest to minimise the number of young Brits. Maybe it won't be the "young people of the host community" he has to worry about.

Que ?

What on earth does

India’s position in this is unique. It has the largest Muslim minority population in the world (13.4% of the population, or about 150m) but unlike Muslims in western Europe, they are not immigrants.

They have been part of India for centuries.

This is why all Indians — Muslims and Hindu alike — know that the deepening divide threatens the country’s existence.

In what sense would there be a difference between India and a western European nation, under Islamist attack, with a 13.4% Muslim population which had been there for thirty or forty years ? In what sense would the country's existence not be threatened in Europe ?

Is he saying that India as a concept, an idea of nationhood, is intrinsically a Hindu/Muslim/Sikh/Jain/whatever mixture - and that any change to that idea is a threat to the existence of the idea ? And is he saying that that ISN'T the case in Europe ?

If so, he doesn't seem to have grasped what's going on here. The 'nation of immigrants' may be a politically correct fiction, but it's the official narrative.

But either way, I'm not sure how much difference it makes to the practicalities of coping with terror - in India or Europe.

More UK terror links ..

via Ross, this and this. You can see why a Muslim might complain of double standards when apparently Hindu and Sikh terror is not so bad.

Genderanalyzer ...

It's slightly better than tossing a coin ... some work needed I think.

"In our lab it seems to work pretty well"