Tuesday, January 07, 2014

Women being abused on the internet?

I have just listened to Caroline Criado-Perez again talking about internet abuse as a women's issue. Saying that women who wish to get involved in the political debate are being shut down... She even implied that Isabella Sorley had been abusive because she was probably brought up in a misogynist environment.

Well, there are a few home truths here..

Abuse happens on the internet. It isn't pleasant, clever or nice. It would be nice if it stopped, but it isn't directed at women. It is directed and men and women.

Anywhere there has been interaction in an um moderated way on the internet there is always some sad sorry individual who will happily issue all sorts of abuse, including death threats. Where such places are moderated those death threats tend to go to the moderators. I know, I've had a few as well as an on and off stalker.

So, Caroline Criado-Perez, stop trying to monopolise internet abuse as either your own personal cross, or a mostly women only cross, it's a cross we all have to bear and the police devote relatively little resource to dealing with it who ever you are.

The BBC has this.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

What of the Olympic legacy?

I have been thinking about this. London 2012 is of course only half over, we still have the fantastic spectacle of the Paralympics to go, but what of the venues and the fantastic infrastructure built to get people to and from them?

There has been much talk of legacy, of bits you can take down and so on.

Stop.... why? Haven't we the imagination to make use of the most fantastic stadia built?

There is just so much that could be done.

Lets start with the main stadium, well it could be the most spectacular concert venue ever! Did you see those light shows! Only shame is that ELO are no longer about, but wow!

That would provide quite a lot of the running costs, then, athletic events could be held there, even televised, and here's an idea, what about an annual or biannual British youth games?

The tickets would have to be cheap, and given to family members of competitors but what could we do with seeing the best of our youth competing?

Can you imagine a better way of inspiring the next generation?

Thursday, July 26, 2012

UK in recession? I don't believe the numbers.

I know people will think that I don't believe the numbers because I don't want to.

Well, it's not that I don't believe the UK GDP could have shrunk by 0.7%, it's just that I don't think it could have done so whilst at the same time the number of people employed could have risen by 180,000 In fact we have had 3 quarters of employment growth matched by 3 quarters of GDP contraction. It's simply not credible to believe both numbers at the same time, the maths just don't add up. Imagine if I said what happens if you take 2 from 2? How could you get 4?

So what is actually going on?

I haven't got a clue, other than to say there is something odd going on.

The disparity is of course not completely inexplicable, as I can see some special factors that could lead to a growing economy with an oddly shrinking GDP.

Well, there is people working either short time, part time, or self employed. This could well be a large factor leading to employment being buoyant whilst the economy is slack, but we are at record employment rates at the moment.

Other things are playing a part as well. For example oil. if you look at this current graph on the BBC* you will note that in March the price of Brent crude was $125 a barrel, and fell as low as $90, over the same period the pound has risen and fallen to end at roughly the same vale, or in short if the same amount of oil and gas was produced from the North Sea, it's actual value dropped by 24% which is a huge drop. So how much is the oil and gas industry as a percentage of GDP? Well apparently from what I have googled the best  estimate I could come up with is around 6% of GDP. So in one quarter that fell by around a quarter, or 2% of GDP, but "production" in which this sector falls, fell 1.3% total, of which actually oil and gas is huge (About a half so 2% reduction in GDP would mean a fall in production of something like 15% to keep it to 1.3% means a massive growth in other parts of the sector). There must have been massive growth in the rest of production to hold the numbers up that well.

There are some other odd factors. Garden centres. Sounds lame, and this production is lost, but they haven't been busy during a very wet spring. Garden furniture and bedding plants remain unsold.

So what's the story? Personally I think there is growth, and indeed strong growth, hence the jobs numbers, but crucially, oil and gas as well as all other commodities are very volatile, and we produce a lot of oil and gas.

The next thing is construction. Well the sector is far from a boom, but one of it's problems has been the rain. There is a lot of construction that can go on rain or shine but a lot that can't be done in the rain. In short I expect construction to grow in the next quarter.

* This graph will take you to 12 months historical figures from the date you click on the link not when this article was written.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Costa Concordia Captain's lucky escape!

Apparently Francesco Schettino, Captain of the cruise liner Costa Concordia did not abandon ship, he tripped and fell into a lifeboat.

How lucky is that? I mean what are the odds?

Rumours that he tripped over 3 disabled people and a small child have been strenuously denied.*

Meanwhile Captain Schettino has hired Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf as a public relations consultant to shore up his reputation and provide credible answers.**

The BBC has this.

*I made that up.
** That too. Should I become a journalist?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cameron was wrong to use the EU veto for city interests!

We have heard allot about David Cameron wielding the veto in European negotiations for the UK's national interests as far as our financial sector was concerned. It was wrong to wield the veto for that reason.

It is true, that were they the only reason to use the veto, I would have done it, however a better reason is that the deal on the table, whether it involved us or not, was wrong for the following reasons:


  1. It does nothing to actually address the Euro's sovereign debt crisis, which was the purpose of the summit. Crucially there is no stated mechanism for the ECB to become the lender of last resort.
  2. It proposes a set of rules that Euro members promised to keep to last time, and most did not but the Euro countries promise to be really good from now on. It's not credible.
  3. The rules allow a country to run up it's debt to GDP ratio in good times as well as bad, creating an automatic structural deficit if a recession hits. (Gordon Brown would have met those rules.)
  4. It has too little flexibility in the event of an actual recession for those countries who have behaved well to borrow what they need to as a recession hits. 
So, I don't disagree with the veto being used, but it should have been used because the deal does not fix the problems of the Euro zone, it makes them worse, and punishes the UK for it.

What we could do with though, is counter proposals. The French and German governments are busy trying to look like they are doing something useful, and forcing others to back them when all they are doing is coming up with quarter measures to keep their electorates on side. This will work in the short term. Sarkozy has an election next year. The problem is last weeks summit will only work until the new year, and then only if they are lucky. The ink will never dry on the last deal to be signed in March 2012 because it will be renegotiated at least twice before then.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Worlds smallest steam engine? No!

The BBC has an article entitled: World's 'smallest steam engine' built in Germany, except if you read the article, it is obviously not a steam engine at all.

It is in fact a Stirling engine, originally invented by the Rev Dr Robert Stirling (and his brother) in 1815 as a safer alternative to steam engines because many of his parishioners had died in boiler explosions. It is positively not a steam engine and is nothing at all like one.

I know journalists love to bask in utter ignorance, but this is really irritating. You do have to wonder where else they talk compete and utter rubbish because they are simply ignorant of the facts.

That may sound like an unfair rant, and in some ways it may be. However the news media spread knowledge and information and it is dangerous when they get it wrong as they frequently do.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Nabila Ramdani twitter spat Another thought.

I want to point that Nabila Ramdani seemed to make it her business as a French citizen of Algerian decent to keep popping up on places like the BBC claiming that Libyans were as a group, inflicted with a tribal mentality such that they could not get on without Gaddafi to keep them in some kind of line. Should he fall Libya would, by implication turn into some version of Somalia. Whilst Libyans were dying in numbers, it is unsurprising therefore that Libyans seemed to take some exception at being described as such and as a consequence may have described Nabila Ramdani in terms which were either less than charitable or possibly not repeatable in polite company. Given the nature of her comments, were you to cast Libyans as a race her comments would be racist and as such I can entirely understand their anger.

Then when Gaddafi met his fate, it appears she changed her tune a bit. (In part because spouting the same somewhat inexpert nonsense would not do her any favours.) Some began to speculate at he volte face and indeed possible motivation for spouting bile about Libyans in the first place and subsequently changing her tune. It is in this context that the tweet was made and the reply given which was retweeted by me.

The moral of the story is, calling 6 million people who are dying to overthrow a vicious dictator a bunch of tribal ingrates may not get polite responses from them.

If after reading what I have just written you think my actions are capable of any criticism I would welcome hearing why.