[syndicated profile] el_reg_odds_feed

Posted by Team Register

West Yorkshire Police reveal their worst summer nuisance calls

The West Yorkshire fuzz have released recordings of nuisance calls requesting a cat be arrested for eating a man's bacon and a complaint about a noisy washing machine, as well as a request to identify the actor in Magnum PI*.…

[personal profile] cupcake_goth
Tonight we celebrated our wedding anniversary 3 months early by going and seeing our favorite musical, Wicked

[personal profile] kambriel my darling, the lightweight bustle dress is still one of the best pieces I've bought from you. Elegant! Stunning! Appropriate for summer.

The two leads on this tour were possibly the best I've seen. Their range and control were astonishing. And the stage production just keeps getting more elaborate. Besides my long-standing dream to cosplay Elpheba, I also want to cosplay a random fancy Oz citizen. I could deal with an all-green outfit ...
[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Mike Smithson


Electability has to be paramount or else what is the point?

One of the things that is often said, particularly by Tories, is that excluding Tony Blair the last time Labour secured an overall working majority was in 1966. That was a very long time ago.

For in Labour’s entire history just three leaders, the ones pictured above, have led led the party to working majorities at general elections. And only one of these, the “virus” as we are being told, secured more than one sustainable working majority.

Clement Atlee did it almost exactly 70 years ago this week. That followed the great changes in British society that had been caused by the war. He won again in 1950 but only just and had to go to the country the following year when LAB lost.

Harold Wilson chalked up a 4 seat majority in 1964 after a dismal period for the Tories when it had become battered by Vassal and then Profumo affairs. Wilson’s went to the country again in 1966 and won an overall majority of just under 80. Although he lost in 1970 Wilson returned to power in a minority in March 1974 and secured a minuscule majority six months later.

The party then had to wait until the Blair landslide in 1997 before returning to power.

The point I’m making is that winning a working majority for any party or leader is very difficult particularly since we moved away from two party politics.

In terms of working majorities, ones that were able to sustain the party through the parliament, you can argue that the last one for the Tories was Mrs. Thatcher in 1987. Defections and by-elections losses meant that John Major’s 1992-97 government did not have a working majority by the end.

It is too early to say whether Cameron’s victory on May 7th produced a working majority that will sustain the party for the whole parliament.

What is clear is that LAB needs to be led by someone with exceptional appeal to those parts of the electorate that are normally beyond reach.

Mike Smithson

“Behind the Trees”

Jul. 31st, 2015 03:08 am
[syndicated profile] neilgaiman_feed
posted by Neil Gaiman

 I love my wife so much. This is an animation by animator Avi Ofer that uses a voice memo from Amanda's phone of a conversation she had with me while I was asleep. 

(I can have conversations while I am asleep, I am told). 

She found the message she had left on her phone for herself, whispered in a bathroom while I slept,  a year or so after she’d left it, and played it to me. I said it sounded like an animated film, and she agreed, and used her Patreon to make it happen…

Only watch it if you want to know what the inside of my head is probably like while I am asleep.

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[syndicated profile] skepchick_feed

Posted by Rebecca Watson

Support more videos like this at patreon.com/rebecca

Sorta transcript:

Donald Trump, the GOP front-runner for president . . . I’m sorry, that should be the only part of this video that’s important. Donald Trump is the GOP front-runner for president of the United States, you guys. Donald Trump.



Anyway, it gets worse. Trump went on record to say that Mexicans are coming into the US and raping our women, and if it isn’t Mexicans, well then who is raping our women? Well, according to Trump’s ex-wife, the answer would be Donald Trump.

Back in 1989, Ivana Trump stated during a divorce deposition that Trump had raped her. According to her, he was angry at her for recommending a plastic surgeon who gave him a painful scalp reduction, and during a fight he violently raped her. When a tell-all book was being published that included the incident, Donald Trump denied that it had happened, and his lawyers got a statement from Ivana in which she doesn’t contradict her initial account, but says though she felt violated at the time she wants to make it clear that she didn’t mean he raped her in “a criminal sense.”

Since she didn’t alter her description of the actual event, only the word she used to categorize it, this sounds, in my opinion, like a victim who has convinced herself years later that she wasn’t really a victim. That’s actually very common — rape survivors deal with their assaults in a variety of ways, and often their responses may seem counterintuitive. Researchers have shown that this may be due to them trying to cope and normalize a very not-normal event.

Redefining a something that is legally rape as something else, like a “violation,” is common enough that psychologists have a label for this type of person: an unacknowledged rape victim. This type of victim is most common when the assailant is someone the victim knows or had previous sexual contact with.

Unacknowledged rape victims are also much more likely to continue to have a relationship with the rapist.

Of course, at the end of the day we have to rely on Ivana Trump’s words, and she says her current relationship with Donald Trump is great and that she thinks he’d make a super president.

Donald Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, is enjoying a slightly less intimate relationship with his boss after telling the press that Trump was definitely innocent because you can’t even rape your wife, legally speaking. Despite being a lawyer, it appears that Cohen is unfamiliar with the fact that has been illegal to rape your wife in New York State since 1984. Trump responded to this less-than-effective defense by apparently having a campaign worker tell CNN that nobody speaks for Mr. Trump.

So is Donald Trump a rapist? According to his ex-wife, yes, and no. But no matter what, he is still the GOP front-runner for president of the United States of America, and that’s all that really matters.

Bonus gif:

If it's not the Mexicans raping our women, then who could it be? Well, according to Donald Trump's ex-wife, the answer is...Donald Trump

Born That Way, Or Not

Jul. 31st, 2015 01:41 am
[syndicated profile] scalziwhatever_feed

Posted by John Scalzi

Was pointed today to this interview with developmental psychologist Lisa Diamond, on the subject of sexuality, and additionally, whether it matters whether people who identify as gay or bisexual are “born that way” or not. She takes the position that ultimately it really doesn’t matter:

It is time to just take the whole idea of sexuality as immutable, the born this way notion, and just come to a consensus as scientists and as legal scholars that we need to put it to rest. It’s unscientific, it’s unnecessary and it’s unjust. It doesn’t matter how we got to be this way. As a scientist, I think it’s one of the most fascinating questions out there and one that I will continue to investigate. As a lesbian and a progressive, I think it’s totally irrelevant and just politics.

I don’t know if in fact Diamond is correct, but I’ll note that for a very long time now I’ve personally held the position that I don’t care why or if someone decides to love someone of the same sex (physically and/or emotionally and all the stuff in between), simply that if they do, that love should be respected, legally and socially. I think it’s entirely possible that some people are “born that way,” that some people become that way through environment (Diamond notes that “environment” should be considered a term rather more expansive than “how you grew up and with whom”), and that others might have become so by a combination of both, or some other factor entirely. Ultimately it doesn’t matter, outside of a dry and somewhat abstract set of academic questions. However you got there, you got there.

Diamond also talks about sexual fluidity, which “means that people are born with a sexual orientation and also with a degree of sexual flexibility,” which is to say (at least as I understand it), you know your general sexuality, and you also know how much leeway you give yourself inside of that understanding. So for example you might identify as straight but be willing to acknowledge that every once in a while you find someone of the same sex attractive, or gay but with occasional hetero crushes, or bisexual but with a lean one way more than another on average. Or, you know, you might identify as something rather more expansive than that.

This also makes a great deal of sense to me. People have been talking about the Kinsey scale for years, but I find that sort of linear sexuality tracking a little limiting. I picture it as multidimensional with a number of axes: Gay-straight might be one; sexual-asexual might be another; conservative – opportunistic might be a third. A guy who is largely straight but highly sexual and somewhat opportunistic might not turn down a same-sex encounter because, hey, sex; another man who is gay but closer to asexual and conservative might turn down the same opportunity.

These three axes are not necessarily the complete set, I would note; likewise I would note that not every dimension of sexuality has the same range on every person. And finally, of course, one’s understanding of one’s sexuality may change over time — again for various reasons.

All of which is to say, sexuality: There’s some complex shit going down there.

And all the more reason, from the point of view of social and legal acceptance, not to actually care how someone arrived at their sexuality. The law should care if sexual encounters are consensual; society should discourage (to use a word mildly) non-consensual encounters. Other than that, you know, fair play.

Note that I think that people should know, as much as they are interested in the subject, the hows and whys of their own sexuality. I think knowing who you are and what led you to that understanding is useful to help you avoid behaviors that aren’t good for you, and to help you find which ones are. But your personal knowledge of yourself is different than society or the law demanding you are who you are, sexually, is because of one factor exclusively, or more than another, in a precise recipe. You should care about your sexuality. I’m not convinced the law or society needs to care anywhere as much.

mark: A photo of Mark kneeling on top of the Taal Volcano in the Philippines. It was a long hike. (Default)

Dreamhack server is back

Jul. 30th, 2015 05:13 pm
[staff profile] mark posting in [site community profile] dw_dev

Hi all,

Sorry for the delay, there was a most unfortunate timing as I was in Europe without Internet access. Anyway, the Dreamhack server is back up and running so you should be able to log in and such.

I'll also be making sure that at least [personal profile] alierak has access to the control panel so this kind of thing won't be a single point of failure on me in the future.

[syndicated profile] uk_polling_report_feed

Posted by Anthony Wells

ComRes’s monthly poll for the Daily Mail is out, topline voting intention figures are CON 40%, LAB 28%, LDEM 7%, UKIP 10%, GRN 5%. The poll also asked about military intervention in Syria. By 56% to 33% people supported British airstrikes against ISIS in Syria and while the public are opposed to sending British group troops against ISIS, it’s less overwhelming than most of the polls I’ve seen in recent years that have broached the topic of sending British ground troops into conflicts – 49% are opposed, 41% would support. Tabs are here.

California Dreaming: Woodstock

Jul. 30th, 2015 10:55 pm
[syndicated profile] andrew_hickey_feed

Posted by Andrew Hickey

Crosby, Stills, and Nash had not originally intended to form a band at all.

Crosby and Stills had both been at loose ends after leaving their respective bands, and were looking for something else to do, and had been jamming together a little and writing the odd song. Graham Nash had left his own band, The Hollies, and moved to LA recently. But when they first got together, it wasn’t with any particular intention in mind.

It was just normal for the musicians who hung out in the Laurel Canyon area, where most of the LA-based musicians had moved, to sing and play when they got together in Peter Tork’s pool or Cass Elliott’s kitchen.

And Cass Elliott’s kitchen might be where it happened — or it might have been Joni Mitchell’s house. No-one seems quite sure. But either way, there was a party, and Steve Stills and David Crosby were singing a new song of Stills’, You Don’t Have To Cry. Graham Nash asked them to sing it again. And then he asked them to sing it a third time, and improvised a high harmony line over them.

The three-part harmony sounded stunning to those listening — the three men’s vocals gelled in a way that Crosby and Stills on their own hadn’t. It was very quickly decided that the three would try to get signed to the same record label (Stills and Nash were at the time signed to different labels, while Crosby had been dropped by Columbia) and record an album. The result, Crosby, Stills & Nash, featured two top forty singles and was one of the most influential albums of the late 60s.

But they had a problem when it came to playing live. Apart from the drums, played by Dallas Taylor, and a couple of acoustic guitar parts, all the instruments on the album had been played by Stills, and neither Crosby nor Nash was an especially accomplished instrumentalist.

The original plan was to hire a bass player and keyboardist to fill out the band’s sound, but instead of the keyboard player, they were persuaded by Ahmet Ertegun, and rather against their own initial urges, to take on an extra lead guitarist — Neil Young.

Young became a full partner in the band, now officially a quartet, while Greg Reeves, their new bass player (and flatmate of Young’s former bandmate Rick James) did not, although the next album, Déjà Vu, was credited to (in large lettering) Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (in smaller lettering) Dallas Taylor & Greg Reeves.

Young joined half-way through recording that album, but in time for the band’s first gig, supported by Joni Mitchell (who was at the time Nash’s girlfriend). Their second gig was rather more stressful — a music festival in Woodstock, New York, whose organisers had decided at the last minute to make it free. Half a million people showed up.

Joni Mitchell hadn’t gone to Woodstock herself — she’d had other commitments — but she heard about it from Nash, and she wrote a gentle song about it, with the chorus “we are stardust, we are golden, and we’ve got to get ourselves back to the garden”. Her song, titled simply Woodstock, was released on Ladies of the Canyon and as the B-side to the hit single Big Yellow Taxi.

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young also recorded the song. They made a few minor lyrical changes — notably adding the line “we are billion year old carbon” to the choruses (it had originally just been a backing vocal line in the last chorus of Mitchell’s version), but the major change was to the music. In their hands it was a loud, noisy, hard rock track, with duelling squealing lead guitars played by Stills and Young, and with Stills growling out a blues-rock lead vocal.

The result had little to do with the pastoral, gentle, song that Mitchell had originally written, but was chosen for the end credits of the film released of the festival, which became a massive success, and the single went to number eleven on the charts. And Déjà Vu, the album from which it was taken, did even better, going to number one and having two other top forty singles released from it.

The band’s success was short-lived though — Stills and Young’s relationship had always been fractious, and Crosby was going through a particularly difficult patch in his life — and by the end of their summer 1970 tour they had split up, having released one last single, Young’s Ohio, a protest song about the shootings at Kent State University, which went to number twenty. While they would all continue to work with each other in various combinations in the future, and there would be occasional reunion tours, there would not be another Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young studio album until 1988.


Composer: Joni Mitchell

Stephen Stills (guitar, vocals, keyboards), Neil Young (guitar), David Crosby and Graham Nash (vocals), Dallas Taylor (drums), Greg Reeves (bass)

Original release: Déjà Vu, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Atlantic SD-7200

Currently available on:
Déjà Vu, Atlantic CD

Tagged: california dreaming, david crosby, graham nash, joni mitchell, neil young, steve stills
[personal profile] tajasel
Yesterday I rode my first Audax sans-[personal profile] damerell, and have now officially failed to finish more Audaxes than I have successfully completed, which is not quite the achievement I was hoping for.

It was meant to be a very hilly ride - starting in Marple, up into Glossop and Hadfield, past the reservoirs and over Holme Moss (one of the categorised climbs from the Tour de France's Grand Depart in Yorkshire last summer), then down into Langsett and Midhopestones and Strines, and then back into the Peak District through Edale, Chinley, New Mills and finishing again in Marple.

Well, it was a very hilly ride, and I did make it up to the summit of Holme Moss, with a bicycle, using only the power of my legs.

At the summit of Holme Moss

I also enjoyed descending the hills, and spotting road paintings leftover from when the TdF came past last summer.

Ey Up! / Go Yates Go! Allez Allez Jens!
Shut Up Legs Vive Le Tour!

However, I did come undone a little on a hairy descent out of Midhopestones - taking a corner much wider than I should have and probably somewhat faster too - I know that I was going for 66kph on the approach to the corner; I was braking heavily so probably didn't hit the ground at that speed, but still a little too fast. Unfortunately, on a 25% reverse-incline with a tailwind, there's a lot of factors against you...

So that goes some way to explaining why my front wheel was the wrong shape when I dropped the bike off at my local bike shop this morning, and also why I've got a small-ish rugby-ball shaped lump on my elbow, and why I had the help of Northern Rail to avoid the final big climb of the day (Mam Nick) - which is why I officially didn't finish the ride.

On arrival at the ride rendezvous point, the ride organiser (an old family friend) offered to take me and my bike home and deliver me to the A&E department up the road, where I hung about for three hours or so, had a number of X-rays, and eventually got sent home with painkillers and the good news that nothing was chipped, fractured or otherwise broken.

I have acute neck/shoulder pain today, leaving me wondering if I did bang my head after all (I knew that I hadn't lost consciousness, but didn't know if I'd hit my head or not) - but I'm at work until Saturday morning so unless it gets any worse I'm just going to assume whiplash.

Incidentally, how to make a hospital receptionist really struggle not to laugh at you:
"What's the problem?"
"I came off my bike and my elbow is the wrong shape."
"Was it an RTC?"
"No, just stupidity."

Think I'll stay away from hills for a little while.
[syndicated profile] political_betting_feed

Posted by Harry Hayfield

Hilton, Woodside and Stockethill (SNP defence) and Kincorth, Nigg and Cove (SNP defence) on City of Aberdeen
Result of council at last election (2012): Labour 17, Scottish National Party 15, Liberal Democrats 5, Conservatives 3, Independents 3 (No Overall Control, Labour short by 5)

Hilton, Woodside and Stockethill
Result of ward at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 1,421, 271 (45%)
Scottish National Party 512, 823 (36%)
Independents 87, 101, 55 (6%)
Liberal Democrats 145 (4%)
Green Party 99 (3%)
National Front 41 (1%)
Candidates duly nominated: Roy Begg (Con), Neil Copland (SNP), Peter Kennedy (Green), Charlie Pirie (Lab), Jonathan Waddell (Lib Dem)

Kincorth, Nigg and Cove
Result of ward at last election (2012): Emboldened denotes elected
Labour 291, 1,250 (38%)
Scottish National Party 1,389 (34%)
Independents 471, 120 (15%)
Liberal Democrats 331 (8%)
Conservatives 219 (5%)
Candidates duly nominated: Donna Clark (Lab), Stephen Flynn (SNP), Ken McLeod (Lib Dem), Phillip Sellar (Con), Dan Yeats (Green)

When Aberdeen became a unitary authority in 1999, Labour in Scotland dominated. Of the thirty two local authorities in the country, Labour controlled or ran twenty of them, four were Independent, three were in the hands of the Scottish National Party, the Conservatives had a hand in running East Renfrewshire and the Liberal Democrats a hand in running Aberdeenshire. And Aberdeen was no different, Labour won 30 seats on the new council (and had an overall majority of 10). However, things went south for Labour on the day of the elections to the new Scottish Parliament. They lost control of eight authorities (the biggest upset being Falkirk) and they lost over a hundred seats overall. Aberdeen, however, they held on to and must have fancied their chances of holding again in 2003 but by then the Liberal Democrats were on the advance as they gained outright control of Inverclyde from Labour held their position in Aberdeenshire and became the largest party on East Dunbartonshire and Aberdeen. But by the time of the next elections in 2007, the rules had been shaken up and the Single Transferable Vote had been introduced and across Scotland the effect was devasting to Labour. Labour lost control of eleven of the councils they had run under First Past the Post and were only left with North Lanarkshire and Glasgow. The Liberal Democrats could now claim to run Scotland’s second and third largest cities (Edinburgh and Aberdeen), the SNP broke through in East Dunbartonshire and the Conservatives suddenly found themselves in a position of influence in South Ayrshire, Dumfries and Galloway and the Scottish Borders. And although Labour managed to recover some ground in 2012 (gaining Renfrewshire and West Dunbartonshire), the SNP gained control of Angus and Dundee and had an influence in the running of Aberdeenshire, Perthshire, Stirling, North Ayrshire and East Ayrshire) but as we have seen since the referendum in 2014, the SNP appear to be an unmovable force and when the Scottish councils come up next for election in 2017 it would not suprise me at all if the SNP become the new dominant force in Scottish local government.

North Hykeham Mill on North Kesteven (Lincolnshire Independent defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 28, Lincolnshire Independents 8, Skellingthorpe Independents 2, Hykeham Independents 2, Independent 1, North Kesteven Independent 1 (Conservative majority of 14)
Result of ward at last election (2015) : Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,478, 1,005 (59%)
Lincolnshire Independent 1,013 (41%)
Candidates duly nominated: Elizabeth Bathory-Porter (Green), John Bishop (Hykeham Independents), Diana Catton (Lib Dem), Mike Clarke (Con), Terence Dooley (Lab)

North Kesteven is a council that seems to believe that unless you are a Conservative or an Independent then you have no reason to be on the council at all. Back in 2003 there were nine non Con and Ind councillors (five Lib Dems and four Labour). The Labour councillors were wiped out in 2007 (going to the Conservatives) and the Lib Dems were wiped out in 2015 (going to the Independents) so what the electors of North Hykeham will do (based on past history) is either split 48% Con and 48% Hykeham Independent or decide that it is better to stick with the existing arrangement and elect another Conservative councillor to join the previous one.

College on Northumberland (Lab defence)
Result of council at last election (2013): Labour 32, Conservatives 21, Liberal Democrats 11, Independents 3 (No Overall Control, Labour short by 2)
Result of ward at last election (2013): Labour 878 (91%), Conservatives 90 (9%)
Candidates duly nominated: Peter Curtis (UKIP), Chris Galley (Con), Andy McGregor (Lib Dem), Mark Purvis (Lab)

Northumberland has been very interesting in parliamentary terms. Although between 1992 and 2010 it returned two Labour MP’s (Blyth Valley and Wansbeck), one Conservative (Hexham) and one Liberal Democrat (Berwick) it did a great deal of swinging around. In 1992, Labour led by 9% which increased to 24% in 1997 with the Liberal Democrats taking second place. That lead dropped to 15% in 2001 and then to just 6% in 2005 and then in 2010 the Liberal Democrats “won” Northumberland by 2% so 2015 was a literal example of “crashing and burning” as not only did the Lib Dems lose Berwick but their vote share collapsed from 32% across the county to just 12% (ending 3% behind UKIP) and for the first time since 1992, the Conservatives “won” the county by 1% making Northumberland possibly one of only a few counties to have gained from one party to the other via the Liberal Democrats. So the question has to be asked in College with the previous Labour councillor clearly having a massive personal vote, could this provide another Lib Dem fightback moment, could the Conservatives spring a suprise or could UKIP get another foothold in another council with no UKIP seats?

Droitwich East on Wychavon (Con defence)
Result of council at last election (2015): Conservatives 39, Liberal Democrats 5, United Kingdom Independence Party 1 (Conservative majority of 33)
Result of ward at last election (2015): Emboldened denotes elected
Conservatives 1,587, 1,201 (44%)
Labour 775 (21%)
United Kingdom Independence Party 724 (20%)
Liberal Democrats 534 (15%)
Candidates duly nominated: Andy Morgan (UKIP), Jacqui O’Reilly (Lab), Rory Robertson (Lib Dem), Karen Tomalin (Con)

Wychavon (the council between Worcester and Redditch) has been trending more and more Conservative with every election. 31 Conservatives in 2003, 35 Conservatives in 2007, 38 Conservatives in 2011 and 39 in May and as such the opposition has been slowly wittled away from 14 in 2003 to just six now, so presumably a Conservative hold is expected but at the same time could it also be another Lib Dem fightback win, a shock Labour gain or a UKIP win? That’s the problem with rural English councils, no one can really tell (but that’s the fun of local by-elections isn’t it really?)

[syndicated profile] markpack2_feed

Posted by Mark Pack

The Guardian reports:

A police investigation into claims that former Liberal MP Sir Cyril Smith was released by officers after being found in possession of child abuse images has closed due to a lack of evidence.

Simon Danczuk, the current Rochdale MP, made a series of claims about the late Smith’s sexual activities, including that Smith was stopped by police who discovered he had child abuse images while travelling on the motorway through Northamptonshire.

But Northamptonshire police said they could find no records or witnesses to corroborate the allegations, made by the Labour MP.

james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

Does there exist

Jul. 30th, 2015 04:30 pm
[personal profile] james_davis_nicoll
A Japanese account of William Adams in Japan?

Mr Macnee - you're needed.

Jul. 30th, 2015 09:06 pm
[personal profile] magister
Channel 4 in its early years was something of a goldmine. It showed an awful lot of old ITV and American TV as well as vintage films - presumably because the programme budget was a bit short to fill it with original programming. Hence, it's where I first saw films like the Lon Chaney Phantom of the Opera and Hunchback of Notre Dame as well as TV shows like Thriller, Callan and The Avengers.

Pat Macnee was not the typical hero for a spy series - by and large they tended to be either more physically imposing - the likes of Patrick McGoohan or the various incarnations of James Bond - or more ordinary everymen - Alec Guinness's Smiley or Edward Woodward in Callan. Macnee's genius was to turn the originally rather bland John Steed into a character who would not have been out of place in an Oscar Wilde comedy.

There's something rather fitting that he should die a matter of days after Christopher Lee - they were the same age, had been schoolmates and had acted together in episodes of The Avengers and also as Holmes and Watson. Their styles were pretty much mirror images - Lee often playing outwardly forbidding figures who revealed moments of frailty, while Macnee seemed harmless at first glance, but hid something much more ruthless at heart. His most famous stage role was the deluded games player Andrew Wyke in Shaffer's play Sleuth - someone who appears playful and harmless but proves to be far more dangerous.

He will be sadly missed. One can only hope that wherever he is, there is a magnum of champagne on ice and he is keeping a watchful eye out for diabolical masterminds.
james_davis_nicoll: (Default)

It's so hot here

Jul. 30th, 2015 02:09 pm
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_forbes_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

And what a spanner it is that the International Monetary Fund has thrown into those talks over how to solve, once and for all, Greece’s debt problems. I think we can take it, as a result of this, that as the Fat Lady hasn’t sung yet then the opera isn’t over.

What the IMF have actually said is that they simply do not regard the current deal as being viable, viable in the sense that it would allow Greece to pay off those debts, so it won’t take part in that deal. And that’s where the trouble starts:

The International Monetary Fund’s board has been told Athens’ high debt levels and poor record of implementing reforms disqualify Greece from a third IMF bailout of the country, raising new questions over whether the institution will join the EU’s latest financial rescue.

We got a later confirmation of that:

The International Monetary Fund will not reach a deal on a new debt program with Greece until Athens reaches an agreement with European governments that would ensure it can pay its debts, an IMF official said on Thursday.

Which is all something of a problem. It’s not actually an economic problem though: it’s a political problem about an economic problem.

It works like this. Germany, led by Schaeuble on this point, is adamant that no euro country can default on official debt. Because the end result of that would be some number of eurozone countries doing that in the future and it would always be Germany picking up the bills. And Germany only agreed to the whole project if it wasn’t picking up the bills. So, someone who wants or needs to default must leave the euro.

Then there’s other members of that eurozone group who insist that the IMF must be a part of any final solution. Because they’re terrified of what the political and economic integrationists might do in the absence of a firm hand like the IMF. Which would be, from all European Union precedence, lie about everything and hope to use whatever fall out there is to bring about economic and fiscal union.

And the IMF insists that it cannot take part in a purely political deal, it must be something that can be seen to work right now.

Then there’s those political and economic integrationists, those I call the federasts, who are adamant that no one will ever fall out of the euro. Because it’s a one way street only to ever greater union.

Now, given the actual Greek debt dynamics, it’s not obviously possible to reconcile all of those positions. Germany might be willing to ease the terms on the debt (this has the same economic effect as a partial default, but is not the same politically) but the IMF has already said that this would not be enough. So, the IMF can’t go along with that. The eurozone group can’t go along with anything that doesn’t include the IMF and the only solution therefore is Grexit: which the political group cannot go along with. And this is before anyone bothers to ask Tsipras and the Greeks what they want.

The reality here is that only the most delicate balancing act can manage to allow everyone to pretend that they’ve got what they promised they would get. And any one of these actors actually saying “No, sorry, we really did mean what we said” makes that balancing act near impossible.

I maintain that Grexit is the best solution available to all. Obviously, many disagree with me. But the problem is that no one can agree on any alternative, at least not for long enough for everyone else to agree to it.

Dear God, this is bad, isn’t it?

Jul. 30th, 2015 04:42 pm
[syndicated profile] tim_worstall_feed

Posted by Tim Worstall

The first is that so much capital was invested in them with such lasting benefit, albeit not always that anticipated. Of course the circumstances were different from now when some (such as the Ffestiniog) were built, and we would not wish to replicate the economic conditions of that time today, but that’s not my point. What did happen was that capital was used for profit in ways that delivered considerable long term social gain.

D’ye think he’s even ever heard of railway mania? when a few honest folk and a much larger group of unscrupulous thugs (eerily reminiscent of the dot com era) raised vast sums of capital from the general public, as private investments, to do all of that. The public investment came much later, when all the good projects had already been done.

We put so much attention on the paid economy and yet so often it fails so spectacularly to provide the work people need of to use their talents to best advantage.

As has been pointed out, this from the man who thinks that paying tax is better than private charity. You know, that largely volunteer stuff? And I’m sure I’ve seen him slagging off the RNLI at some point.

And third, it strike me that the agent that has done most to release this talent of late are those publicly funded bodies

I am thinking, for example, of the millions invested by local authorities and others in the Welsh Highland Railway. I am sure there are many who would argue that the state should have no part to play in such activity. I disagree. When there is no private capital now available for such schemes it is the state that needs to develop such projects in partnership with enterprising individuals who can deliver real economic gain for a region but do not have the capital required to do so. This is a totally appropriate use for state capital funding from which very large numbers benefit.

But if there was a benefit that could be captured then private capital would happily invest. If there’s a public benefit that cannot be captured (ie, we’re in public goods territory) then sure, state invest away. But can we have the proof of that public goods problem first please? And according to the real definition?

Gonna be bloody hard with a full scale model railway.

Like when the RNLI stopped taking govt grants because they lost more than a £ in donations for each £ in grants?

matgb: Artwork of 19th century upper class anarchist, text: MatGB (Default)

British Liberal, house husband, school play leader and stepdad. Campaigner, atheistic feminist, amateur baker. Male.

Known to post items of interest on occasions. More likely to link to interesting stuff. Sometimes talks about stuff he's done. Occasionally posts recipes for good food. Planning to get married, at some point. Enjoying life in Yorkshire.

Likes comments. Especially likes links. Loves to know where people came from and what they were looking for. Mostly posts everything publicly. Sometimes doesn't. Hi.

Mat Bowles

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I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats & the membership secretary for Calderdale Lib Dems and run the web campaign for the local candidates. I have a job, a stepdaughter and a life.

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