In actual terms, someone earning about £25K today is close to the average, and probably struggling to get by. But a hundred years ago, that would've been a very comfortable living. Two hundred years ago, that would've put you in the very wealthiest sector of society, with servants to do your bidding and every need catered for.

Triple that today, you're looking at a good earning for a member of the professions: a doctor, a lawyer, an MP. A hundred years ago, it'd give youa millionaires lifestyle. Two hundred years ago, a billionaires lifestyle. So I thought I'd do a poll...

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Poll #5213 The days of yore
Open to: Registered Users, detailed results viewable to: All, participants: 23

You have a fixed income of £75,000 per year, when would you rather live

View Answers

19 (86.4%)

3 (13.6%)

0 (0.0%)

0 (0.0%)

0 (0.0%)

You have a fixed income of £75,000 per year, when would you happily live

View Answers

22 (100.0%)

12 (54.5%)

9 (40.9%)

8 (36.4%)

You are male and have a fixed income of £27,612 per year, when would you rather live

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10 (47.6%)

7 (33.3%)

1 (4.8%)

2 (9.5%)

1 (4.8%)

You are male and have a fixed income of £27,612 per year, when would you happily live

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20 (95.2%)

13 (61.9%)

10 (47.6%)

8 (38.1%)

You are female and have a fixed income of £22,152 per year, when would you rather live

View Answers

14 (73.7%)

5 (26.3%)

0 (0.0%)

0 (0.0%)

0 (0.0%)

You are female and have a fixed income of £22,152 per year, when would you happily live

View Answers

15 (93.8%)

4 (25.0%)

4 (25.0%)

3 (18.8%)

My answers to the above poll, with some explanations )
I'm a liberal. I don't like banning things. I'm an environmentalist, I think destroying the planet is a Bad Thing, and am fairly convinced by the science on climate change. But, as is always the case, liberalism wins out. Banning traditional lightbulbs is a bad idea.

Sometimes, they're the most efficient method of both heating and lighting something; lava lamps my be kitsch decorative junk not to everyone's taste, but there's no reason to ban them. Snake and reptile housings also benefit from a combine light/heat source, etc. Sometimes, they're simply a very cheap alternative, and when you're living on very little money at all, and generally don't use lights that much but need to have them, they're an acceptable option.

The answer, therefore, is not to ban them. The liberal answer is to apply a pigouvian tax on them. You can even, if you like, apply a pigouvian subsidy on the much more expensive, complex and hard to dispose of safely "environmentally friendly" bulbs containing mercury and other expensive poisons to make them cheaper. But banning something? It's just asking for trouble:

German heatball wheeze outwits EU light bulb ban | Reuters (via)
Rotthaeuser has pledged to donate 30 cents of every heatball sold to saving the rainforest, which the 49-year-old sees as a better way of protecting the environment than investing in energy-saving lamps, which contain toxic mercury.
I think Herr Rotthaeuser and his brother-in-law deserve a little bit of praise for their Heatball project. And they're not even breaking the law, just showing it up as the futility it is.
OK, for those under a brick, headline news most of the last week has been the argument between the two Labservative parties over the planned National Insurance increase. It's dull and longwinded; palpably obviously, no one commenting on it in the media seems to actually understand it at all. Boy George Gideon Osborne doesn't.

I suspect Darling does, but is keeping schtum for political reasons, and I'm pretty sure Vince is doing the same. Why would they both do this? Y'see, unless my understanding of economics generally is completely off base (and I've been trying to do a lot of understanding of economics over the last 5 years), increasing National Insurance does cost jobs. Channel 4 FactCheck certainly think so. Here's why:

It's all about Tax Incidence and Marginal Costs )
It's not about the overall tax bill )
Tax incidence: who pays )
Note that when Vince has attacked the Tories on this, he's not argued with them too much over the NI stuff; he's argued with them over how they're going to pay for it; he's right to say that the money they're using is pretty much fictional, from what I can tell.

The "a price worth paying" argument

What the Govt could, and perhaps should, be doing is actually admitting that there will be a small decrease in the rate of fall of unemployment (which is basically what the above means), but that the greater economic stability makes us all better off medium term, etc etc etc. Y'know, the "a price worth paying" argument. Except that doesn't tend to go down well with the Trades Unions, who, well, are bankrolling their election campaign.

And I'm not sure, myself, that it is a price worth paying, there are better ways of raising money; capital gains tax taper relief anyone?

Isn't politics fun?

Oh, wait, no, this is several billions pounds of national debt and about 100,000 jobs we're talking about here. Not really fun at all.
In lieu of propper content, and because I'm a) doing more childcare than normal and b) getting addicted to the damn wii, have some links to posts by others that you should be reading.

Firstly, on the Atheist Bus campaign[1], three scientist bloggers, Dave Godfrey, Debi Linton and Strangefrontier who says:
Dear Christians on my friendslist, when you feel that atheist campaigners are generalising about your whole faith and railing against you, the real target is folks like Stephen Green. The problem is that he and others like like are so damn loud and have such a constant media presence, they drown out the normal, decent and sane* Christians. No matter what positive PR you throw out there, the attention will be given to some cunt shouting, "God hates fags!"
I especially liked Dave's line If he didn't exist I think the atheists would have to invent him, he's launched a case on which the crux is he has evidence of the existence of God. Well, like Dawkins, if you can give me some proof I'll change my opinion...

Anyway, next topic. Woolworths has shut down. Since he finished his degree, [ profile] doctorvee has been working for them, in a number of branches, and I heartily recommend his series of posts on the history of the company and the experiences of working there in its dying days. Like him, I loved Woollies as a kid but found them fairly pointless as an adult, they definitely had no clue what they were trying to be as a chain, and Wilkinson's have definitely displaced a lot of their business in Yorkshire. I had no idea that the company had started out as the early equivalent of a pound store, they only dumped their fixed price policy because of rationing during the war.

Sad news however. Number 6 is dead. In an era where his "I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered, I am a free man" speech has increasing relevence, it remains an iconic series and I really hope they don't mess up the reimagined version with Sir Ian as Number Two. RIP Patrick, you were great.

Cool news: Molecular Analysis Confirms Tyrannosaurus Rex's Evolutionary Link To Birds. They didn't die out, they evolved. Next time you eat a chicken dinner, that's one of T-Rex's relatives you're chomping down on ;-)

Want: Trends Are Cyclical: the Asus Eee Keyboard. It a complete fully functioning computer, all inside thin keyboard. How cool is that?

Have to say, I pretty much agree with Tim here, economic protectionism makes us poorer and damages our economy more than it benefits us. Buy British if you want, but if it's not the best deal, buy whatever, the economy benefits from the transaction regardless. ETA: Friday's More or Less is a politics special starring Vince! Yay!

Last up, [ profile] innerbrat wants to declared this year as the International Year of True History to commemorate both Darwin and Galileo. She's wrong to call it "true" history of course, everyone knows that real history started at about 1600, everything before that is pre-history, but it's a nice idea.

[1] From which I've taken this icon, I yoinked the LJified version from [ profile] strangefrontier but it was designed by [ profile] jonworth_eu_fd who coordinated the intial fundraising campaign before it all got a bit bigger than anyone expected. I'd forgotten how good a blogger he is until I found him on Twitter, Labour party members that can actually write well about politics are worth paying attention to, methinks[2].

[2] On a similar line, [ profile] blimpish_fd is back, one of the few Tory bloggers that doesn't make me want to shout at the screen at the idiocy and ignorance.
This is cool. Noted Science Fiction fan and blogger Paul Krugman has won the Nobel Memorial Prize for economics for studying:
the effects of free trade and globalization & the driving forces behind worldwide urbanization
or, in other words, making it fairly clear that imports make us rich, and exports are the boring shite we do to pay for them, something that's fairly well known to anyone that understands Ricardo. Shame that most journalists and politicians don't.
Well, I tried setting up the cross poster (again), but it keeps crashing on me, so here's my linkspam of the last day or so redone with stripped html—sorry about some of the weirdness.

New Statesman - Richard Reeves

Wrote the bio of JS Mill I'm currently reading, which means I like him already. Very interesting set of columns, well worth looking over, even if they are in Staggers.

Edible Dirt,—Easter Sunday, Jesus wakes up

Not original, probably offensive to those that care, rather funny

10 Unfortunate Facts of Life | f*cking c*nts

This amused, it's about time I cleared it from my linklog and actually posted it somewhere

to funny life sex ...

theweaselking: Abortion discussion

Key quote from comments: "It's a hard enough choice without having to make it in an alley. I'll always be pro choice, period."

Why I am an abortion doctor

Read this: 'I can take a woman, in the biggest trouble she has ever experienced in her life, and by performing a five-minute operation, in comfort and dignity, I can give her back her life' Safe, legal, rare, why is there still a controversy?

How to Pack Up & Leave LiveJournal (A Tutorial) (://URLFAN)

Not a bad little how-to. Not how I'd do it specifically, I've already backed up everything including comments to a Wordpress install, but still not bad.

drjon: The LJ Strike (which is today)

Containts a nice little history of previous fusses on the site, with a balanced overview and points out that, well, we've won already

Pharyngula: EXPELLED!

Creationists premiere dodgy movie near home of famous science blogger, specifically ban him from viewing, but not his family or his guest. This is a really dumb move...

It's Just a Game... - Review: The Bible

Funny: "Summary: A confused film, half effects laden, no-brain blockbuster, half cinema-verite talking-heads, lacking a conclusion or climax to justify the budget. Poor plotting and characterisation lead the audience to sympathise with the villains rather | The Undercover Economist | Dear Economist: How can I create an incentive scheme to keep our house clean?

Sounds familiar: "My fiancee is moving in with me. We’ve lived together before, and we hate housework. Before, we didn’t do work in retaliation for housework not done by the other." Good to know that even economics doesn't have all the answers

Today is one of those birthday things. I knew it was coming up, because the BHA invited me to their annual event but a) I'd have had to pay and b) it was in London, so have fun all that do go, I'm sure it'll be good. Fortunately, [ profile] bagrec reminded me this morning, so I half inched this image from him Charles Darwin. Evolution was, I used to think, something that we generally all just accepted, sure, there were a few minority extremists that thought otherwise, but anyone with a decent education, including the entire Catholic Church, just know it to be real, right? Unfortunately the internet reveals this to be untrue, and that someone who is an avowed Creationist has a good chance at the Republican nomination (although no chance at the actual Presidency) is something that really does bother me. Fortunately, there are voices of reason out there, including my better half, and we all know what Theory means, etc, right? Ah well, if you need a bit more explanation, ask a skientist, I recommend Debi the evolutionary morphologist if you don't have another one handy. I'm sure her hangover will allow her to answer questions in her comments ;-)

In other news, Anonymous vs Scientology had a good weekend of protests it seems, [ profile] deathboy went to the London protest and has a good report, and the Phoenix protest got /.ed. There's a little bit of me that dislikes the thing as a whole bunch of people, including people that have their own personal different brand of sky fairy, are ganging up on the Scientologists—I'm all for mocking all religions, but a dog pile seems a bit off when your allies are also batshit. Then I remember that they're Scientologists and that it's therefore OK anyway, right?

Last up, I've been promising various people for ages a post on markets, economics, and why I like them despite being a lot of a lefty, but while that's still on the planned list with a bunch of other stuff, Tim Harford continues his climb up my "top people" list by writing a post about why markets can at times fail, and how analysis of these "externalities" can help them get back on track and do a lot of good; "Green taxes" and similar are a method of dealing with externalities, and are generally much better than simply banning stuff.

Right, that's it for now, I have a fiancée to go snuggle for a bit before [ profile] shrublette gets home...
Tim Harford simply rocks. One of my three choices for best book I read last year was his Undercover Economist. He's currently on a major tour plugging his follow-up, The Logic Of Life. Which includes appearing on The Colbert Report:
It's logical to vote with your gut, Pepsi and Coke are like straight sex and oral )
I keep meaning to write it up, I've been promising a few people a post on markets and why they're important for ages, just haven't actually done it. You'd be better of reading his book anyway. If you want a more sane but long reason, he's on Authors@Google as well:
Look, it's 55 minutes long, I'm about 15 minutes in, you expect me to summarise it? Rationality of crime and economics of communities )
Logic of Life is heading rapidly up my wants list, paperback is out in a week or so, yay!
The ever excellent [ profile] chris_dillow_fd has an excellent summary of the banks reaction to Northern Rock at Stumbling and Mumbling, and naturally I concur completely:
This episode shows that many bosses don't really believe in free markets. Instead, they are like the slaggiest single parent. They pretend to be victims, and expect the state to save people from the consequences of their own stupidity and promiscuity. Indeed, they are worse
A large number of capitalist managers and owners pay lip service to markets, but when it comes down to it would rather not worry about that dangerous 'competition' stuff.

Which is why calling markets 'right wing' is both blinkered and stupid--markets are a tool, a means to an end, and are neutral on left/right alignment. But they are a fundamental tenet of a modern free society.
OK then; I've got so behind posting stuff that hald the links I stored are done already. Meh, have some of the best/more recent while I keep sorting things out.

Softpedia reports that Windows Vista is essentially spyware and Microsoft will be able to track a big chunk of what you do; yes, they're unlikely to pick on individuals, but the EULA gives them carte blanche to give everything away.

Cthuugle--the H. P. Lovecraft search engine. Do Werewolves Roam The Woods Of England? Probably not, but some interesting stuff, even if the guy writing it is a bit, shall we say, touched? How about instead a bunch of 3-D Starmaps? So very very cool.

Reading this Register article on Conservapedia I discover the wonder that is RationalWiki, a slightly satirical riposte to the loons and their delusions. Conservapedia has managed to clean up all the blatant vandalism that it got hit with soon after it launched. Now the edits are much more subtle.

On the subject of wikis, anyone fancy a game of Wikington Crescent? Very very silly way to kill time, but you never know. [ profile] sunflowerkits recently attended a Gothic Bellydance workshop and has videos of some of the teachers dancing; it is actually very impressive, and I'm not just saying that because they're also quite hot.

On to a bit of politics. My old friend [ profile] paulatpingu compares Gordon Brown's position to that of Londo Mollari. Yes, that Londo Mollari, the one with the silly hair and the tentacle penis. Scarily, he's actually got a point, although as I commented there it's not going to happen any time soon.

Silliness. Turn the subjects from any feed (including your public LJ posts) and burn them into Lol!cats. Results can vary between the impressive, the funny and the downright stupid. And of course there's an online macro generator, which even works from LJ userpics. Yes, I've ued it, and it's actually not a bad overall tool for quick-and-dirty actual design work.

Lastly? How about a survivors guide to Doctor Who fandom? So very true, especially the Rose-fen; I only really started follwing the online fans since Torchwood started, and seriously, they scare me. Especially the Jack/anto shippers. SRSLY, they're warped. Not interested? Ok, how about an economic argument against the smoking ban combined with an assertion that passive smoking isn't actually dangerous. Ok, that last comes from the Torygraph, and is thus a little sus, but not hugely, the science he researches is real, and I remain of the opinion that car exhaust fumes do more damage than someone else's smoke ever will.

Not bad that, cleaned 16 links out of the folder. You really don't want to know how many there are in total. Trust me on this. Oh, look at that, I've managed to do that silly Doctor Who quote meme without even trying. Bargain.
Hmm, good news for a change, Masterfoods no longer evil:
Mars said it became "very clear, very quickly" that it had made a mistake.
Merely very very stupid. Was going to post about the sheer idiocy when [ profile] mooism first posted on the 8th (note, that was 6 days before the BBC caught up), but things got lost in the shuffle. They were using the excuse that "only strict vegetarians" would be affected, and in a way, they'd be right. When I eat out, I don't tend to worry whether the cheese is made using rennet, I'm not that strict. But if a company does something blitheringly stupid, and says that it shouldn't bother me at all?

Worse, for them, it would've meant that many of my non-vegetarian friends and family would have stopped buying their products; why buy Masterfoods when Cadbury do something just as good? Stupid stupid company decision. Still, while I'll try to stick to Green and Blacks when I can afford it, and Cadbury when I can't, I can still buy Masterfoods now, they're idiots, but they're not
evil like Nestlé. Ah, informed consumers making choices within an active market, and forcing companies to change. You can see why so many capitalists are anti-market at heart, right?

The only problem of course is that some of the statistics used to claim how many vegetarians there are in the country are likely very very wrong. Why? Because even smart people are stupid:
Twenty years after the IQ tests were carried out in 1970, 366 of the participants said they were vegetarian - although more than 100 reported eating either fish or chicken.
Guys? Vegetarians don't eat fish, let alone chicken. So as virtually every survey of the nature relies on self reporting, and approx 1/3rd of self-described vegetarians are pescetarians at best, the market impact might be smaller than it should be. People assuming I can eat fish despite being vegetarian is probably one of my biggest pet-hates, and it isn't helped by the ignorance of some who self-describe wrongly. It's a bit like self-described Christians who don't go to church; they may quack like a duck, but they sure as hell don't walk like a duck.

Oh, it's National Vegetarian Week as of tomorrow, so expect dodgy media coverage, false assumptions and some of my more idiotic ethical eaters to be a bit too assertive in various places, sorry about that.
Via [ profile] baseballchica03, The world's first and only stand-up economist gives us a translation of Mankiw's Principles of Economics (written version).

Jarvis Cocker's Meltdown 2007 - Jarvis will be the director of this years Meltdown Festival at the SouthBank centre. Y'see this? This is a Mat very happy he moved to London.

YouTube - Unicorn vs. Narwhal. Via [ profile] tyrell and [ profile] kobold almost at the same time; very very cool.

Man cleared of murder by TV comedy gets LA pay-off - seriously, his alibi was proven when his lawyer went through some crowd scene out takes after five months in jail.

And via Debi and Katy, again right next to each other on the friends page, Shaggy Blog Stories: a collaborative blog-stunt for Comic Relief. Go through your archives for a funny post from the last year, and send a link to it to Mike, or re-write it, edit it up, and send it. He aims to have an entire book ready to go to print by next Wednesday. Yes, the man is mad, but, y'know...

And finally, some good suggestions in my poll of yesterday, a few more and I'll do a run off. Ruling out [ profile] raggedhalo's suggestion though, [ profile] chickenyoghurt did that one already...
Economics should be taught at a basic level right from age 11. Understanding the ruules of supply, demand, a free market and a free economy are essentials to get on in the modern world. Otherwise?

You get this sort of thing. Still, it killed time while I was eating lunch.

You either believe in a free society with markets, or you want a command/control economy where everything is fair and there's no dynamism or diversity. This little socialist gets it, why can't the 'normals'? Seriously, there are some obtuse people in there. Apparently, touts are killing live music? WTF?

ETA: Link fixed. OK?
Meh. Um, yeah, pirates. Talk like a seagoing criminal day? historical seagoing criminal day? Spacegoing criminal day? Humourless git day?

I like movie pirates. I like pop culture pirates. I also, (whispers) like ninjas. Like most Lib Dems, I want it both ways and am somewhere in between. Thoughts on the modern term 'pirate' )

So, yeah, talk like a pirate. Use a silly icon. Have a giggle. Only, LJ? Next time you decide to celebrate International Talk like a pirate day? Could you make it so the little tricks you put on the profile and update pages showed up for people using English English as well as US/LJ English? Thx muchly.

notes from the basement

[ profile] lithium_doll managed to get to 1000 comments. Utter insanity. Cool.

Also? How not to hunt for a place to live in London. Not a good day. More seriously, [ profile] jantshira really could do with a stroke of luck finding a room to rent in London. If anyone reading this knows someone that could help?
Well, I remembered why I switched from Mozilla to Firefox, and went and did an OK Cupid! test. The browse didn't crash. Shame I can't say the same about Thunderbird; I've found all the mail, and been told how to reboot it so it loads it back up, but it won't give me a profile with access to it. Gah!

Anyway, to topic. I took the OK Cupid politics test ) and found the results to be a little weird to say the least, although they didn't surprise me. Essentially, I'mstrong on social freedoms, but strong on social protection. The problem with these things is it judges a desire to give a safety net and an equal start to everyone as being economically controlling, and makes me non economically permissive.

Wrong! I'm a strong believer in the principles of a market economy, the Market is undoubtedly the most efficient means of distribution and exchange yet discovered, and it's pretty good with assessing the value of an individual product, as long as it is a functioning market.

The thing is, I don't believe in corporate ownership, and would rather shop in small, local businesses than chain stores whenver possible. But every tick in favour of controls on corporations makes me "less" in favour of economic freedoms. This isn't tied to online tests, it's endemic within commentary on economics. It's assumed you're either 'Left' or 'Right' economically, there doesn't seem to be any understanding of the difference between social justice, fair trade and a functioning market analysis.

Sorry, rant over, I return you to your regularly schedule of me bouncing all over the room and worrying about the phone bill.
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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October 2015


Stuff and nonsense

I'm the Chair of the Brighouse branch of the Liberal Democrats.

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