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This Ain’t News; Benedict Cumberbatch Is Alan Turing’s 17th Cousin

Well, OK, perhaps it is news that Benedict Cumberbatch is Alan Turing’s 17th cousin because the Mail has decided to give us a story that tells us that he is. Other than that through it really isn’t news at all. What would be much more remarkable is if any two random Englishmen were not 17th cousins, at least.

In fact, we generally assume that pretty much everyone in the UK (except the most recent immigrants) is at least a 12th or 13th cousin. So this finding is in fact really telling us that Cumberbatch and Turing are less related than any other two random Englishmen.

He has been praised for his star performance as the code breaker Alan Turing in his latest film role.

But it seems Benedict Cumberbatch’s uncanny resemblance to his subject may be down to more than just good acting…because it turns out they are related.

The actor, 38, is a distant cousin of the celebrated mathematician, who broke the German Enigma code during World War Two.

Both men share a common 15th century ancestor, John Beaufort, the Earl of Somerset, making them cousins 17 times removed on his father’s side, experts from the genealogy website Ancestry said.

The problem with this is that as we go back in time the number of our ancestors increases exponentially. We’ve two parents, four grandparents, 8 great grandparents and so on. By the time we reach 17 generations back we’ve got 131,000 ancestors just in that one generation. And back then the population of the UK was 4 million or so. And yes, that does mean that the odds of any two of us being 17th cousins is higher than 50/50. Much higher: it’s close to a certainty.

The math is here:

To answer the question of “How likely is it that somebody is your 16th cousin” we can just look at how many ancestors you have back there. 16th cousins share with you a couple 17 generations ago. (You can share just one ancestor which makes you a half-cousin.) So your ancestor set from 17 generations ago will be 65,536 different couples. Actually less than that due to duplication, but at this level in a large population the duplication isn’t as big a factor as it becomes later, and if it does it’s because of a closer community which means you are even more related.

So you have 65K couples and so does your potential cousin. The next question is, what is the size of the population in which they lived? Well, back then the whole world had about 600 million people, so that’s an upper bound. So we can ask, if you take two random sets of 65,000 couples from a population of 300M couples, what are the odds that none of them match? With your 65,000 ancestors being just 0.02% of the world’s couples, and your potential cousin’s ancestors also being that set, you would think it likely they don’t match.

Turns out that’s almost nil. Like the famous birthday paradox, where a room of 30 people usually has 2 who share a birthday, the probability there is no intersection in these large groups is quite low. it is 99.9999% likely from these numbers that any given person is at least a 16th cousin. And 97.2% likely that they are a 15th cousin — but only 1.4% likely that they are an 11th cousin. It’s a double exponential explosion. The rough formula used is that the probability of no match will be (1-2^C/P)^(2^C) where C is the cousin number and P is the total source population. To be strict this should be done with factorials but the numbers are large enough that pure exponentials work.

That’s for everyone in the world, not the much smaller number of people who are descended from 15th century England.

There is one thing remarkable about this through. That’s that they can actually trace the connection back to one named individual: that is more remarkable. But the 17th cousin thing? That makes the two less related than the average Englishman is to any other random Englishman.

Posted: 12th, November 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

So Why Have Hungarians Making Sandwiches In Northampton Then?

There’s a certain joy in watching someone manage to get ahold of entirely the wrong end of the stick. And so it is with this story about the sandwich making factory in Northampton. The one that can’t find enough people locally to make the sandwiches and has thus gone off to Hungary to look for people who would be prepared to come and do it. There are those insisting that this shows that the UK is a low wage economy, making low productivity things like sandwiches. And this is, of course, all the fault of the Tories if not of Thatcher the Milk Snatcher.

So, as The Guardian tells us:

The UK, I fear, persists in the delusion that it is a high-skilled high-productivity, high-pay economy when for at least a decade or more it has been nothing of the kind.

Umm, really, just quite remarkable how the wrong end of that shitty stick is being firmly grasped there.

so, think it through for a moment. If there’s only low pay jobs around (and by definition, low pay jobs are going to be low skill and low productivity) then when a company offers some low pay jobs then there’ll be plenty of people who want them. Because they’ve not got anything else to do so why the hell not? £6.50 an hour is better than starving, right?

And what’s happening here? People are not turning up in droves to do those low pay jobs. Which must mean that they’ve got something else, something better to do. Like, a job elsewhere for higher pay. And that’s why they’ve got to go to Hungary, to find someone, some people, willing to do this low pay work.

It’s exactly because wages are higher in the UK than Hungary that people are willing to move. That shows, obviously, that the UK must be a high wage economy. And the only way you get high wages is by having high productivity.

So, exactly the thing The Guardian is using as evidence that we’ve a low wage economy is exactly the evidence that we’re actually a high wage one.

Just perfect, isn’t it?

Posted: 12th, November 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

If The Sun Drops Page 3 It Dies With The Other Newspapers

File picture, dated 17/11/1969, Rupert Murdoch looks at one of the first copies of The Sun newspaper, at the News of the World building , in London.

File picture, dated 17/11/1969, Rupert Murdoch looks at one of the first copies of The Sun newspaper, at the News of the World building , in London.

NEWSPAPERS are dying. So are the readers who grow up with them. That’s tragic. But it’s life.

Print sales of The Sun dipped below two million a day for the first time in its modern history last month.

Average sales of the paper dipped 8 per cent year on year to 1,978,324 making it still the UK’s best-selling daily.

Publisher News UK is expected to release an update later this month on the progress of the paper’s digital subscription strategy which may soften the blow of falling below two million.

The Daily Mirror dropped below two million copies in 2004 and fell below the one million mark last December.

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Posted: 10th, November 2014 | In: Money, News | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

The Ludicrous Claim That Susannah Constantine Is A Bad Mother

This has to be one of the more stupid claims being made presently: that Susannah Constantine is a bad mother because she’s teaching her daughter where food comes from. No, seriously, apparently there are those who think that teaching the kiddies to get the blackberries from the hedgerows, or the mushrooms from the forest, or in this case the duck from the pond, is in some manner “bad motherhood“.

Keen hunter Miss Constantine shared a picture of ten-year-old Cece proudly clutching a dead duck and with her face smeared with blood to mark her first kill.

The little girl is also shown holding guns and taking part in hunts in a series of photos dating back almost a year and published on her and her mother’s public Instagram profiles. The photographs are accompanied by captions such as ‘First duck’ and ‘No food left after Christmas. Cece off to save the day’.

But Miss Constantine has been condemned by animal rights campaigners, who claimed the pictures call into question her abilities as a mother and branded the decision to let a child hunt ‘depressing’, ‘irresponsible’ and ‘dangerous’.

“Call into question her abilities as a mother”? What tosspottery is this?

Pretty much the most basic and important task of any parent is, once the babby has been taught to piss and shit in the pot, to get it to understand what food is and where to go get it. This has been true for the hundreds of millions of years that mammals have been around, most certainly, and it obviously long predates the history of our own species.

Our forefathers, both Homo Habilis and earlier, then Homo Sapiens sapiens, that being us, actually succeeded in surviving precisely because parents would teach children what was OK to eat and also how to go get it. We were hunter gatherers: that means that we had to know what to gather and how to hunt.

It’s also true that we generally think that it’s the men who did the hunting, with the boys being taught, and the women who did the gathering with the daughters being taught. Here we have a daughter being taught how to hunt: shouldn’t we be celebrating that as a smashing of the patriarchy?

Posted: 10th, November 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Let’s Crush The Tower Poppies With Tanks!

This is most certainly an interesting idea. Perhaps not an overly sensible idea but an interesting one all the same. The thought that instead of carefully plucking the ceramic poppies up out of the moat of the Tower of London instead we should send in a regiment of tanks to roar around and crush them all. That would really remind people what war really is all about:

The poppy memorial at the Tower of London should be mown down by a tank to commemorate the horror of war, the actress Sheila Hancock has said.

Hancock, now an author, said leaving the ceramic poppies “shattered and broken” would symbolise the sacrifice of the men who went to war.

Speaking on the Andrew Marr show, she added it would avert “any danger” of the public thinking of the First World War memorial as simply “beautiful”, bringing home its true meaning.

Well, yes, as we say, interesting but perhaps not all that entirely and completely sensible. For several reasons.

The first being that they’re rather hoping that people will pay for those poppies, to keep them as mementos. And in paying for them thus pay for the entire installation itself. The second being that it is supposed to be a memorial. Racing the tanks through it would be on a par with racing a squadron through the Menin Gate and over a few thousand of those massed and ranked gravestones. Or blowing up the Cenotaph to show what happens when an artillery shell goes off.

As we say, interesting but probably not all that sensible. But then perhaps Ms. Hancock is really showing a deeper truth about actors. There’s a reason we give them a script which tells them what to say rather than let them project just their own ideas.

Posted: 10th, November 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Why Do Dancers Get Piss Poor Money?

Because there’s many more people who want to be dancers than there is demand for people to be dancers. And then there’s some special cases:

Dancers at the Royal Opera House are being paid less than box office assistants, the union which represents performers has revealed.

Professional freelance dancers in one production were paid just £9.14 an hour for entertaining thousands of audience members each week, according to Equity.

Meanwhile, the income of those selling tickets to customers was £10.70 per hour over the same period.

The wages paid in a market reflect the balance between the demand for those to do the job and the supply of those qualified to and able to do the job. London is flooded with those who would dance upon the stage. With those who would sit in a ticket office not so much. For, you know, dancing upon the stage is rather fun in and of itself. You don’t have to talk to such dancers for long to hear them say “But I just love to dance” and the like. Ticket office workers tend to express the same sentiment rather less often.

And as to why the ROH is paying such shitty wages there’s a clue in the union complaint:

The letter goes on to ask: ‘Why are we not paid above or at least equal to that amount when working for one of the largest, most heavily subsidised arts organisations in the country?

“Most heavily subsidised” also means “losing the largest amount of money”. That’s why wages are low: the value added seem to be low compared to the revenue that is brought in. You know, that market thing again?

All of this is clear and obvious to anyone who has ever spent any time at all around the West End. Why it still befuddles the union is something of a puzzle.

Posted: 9th, November 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

The Latest Madness: Let’s Create A Race Of Mini-Putins

There’s politics, there’s eccentricity and then there’s out and out madness. Given the strangeness of Russia it’s difficult to know which pot to put this latest proposal in. But here it is: Putin should artificially inseminate all Russian women in order to create a new super-race to govern the Russian state for all eternity.

No, really, that is the proposal:

A lawmaker wants to hand out Vladimir Putin’s sperm to Russian women en masse in a bid to create a new generation of ‘military and political elite’.

Yelena Borisovna Mizoulina, the Chairwoman of Parliamentary Commission on women’s affairs, children and family, told colleagues that giving the president’s sperm to would-be mothers would improve patriotism in Russia.

Note that this women is actually elected and that she does in fact chair a parliamentary commission. In the Russian system she’s about as senior as Margaret Hodge is on hte Public Accounts Committee in the Commons.

According to the Russian-language newspaper, Trust, she told the State Duma that Putin’s brood would then be given ‘special allowances’ from the state, in return for their ‘devotion’ to the country.

She said: ‘The essence of my proposition is simple.

‘Every citizen of Russia will receive by mail the genetic material of the president, to get pregnant from him and have a baby. These mothers will receive a special allowance from the state.’

The only person in history who tried anything like this at all was Genghis Khan whose DNA can now be found in some 10% of the entire human race.

However, there is a bright side to this. The usual numbers are that you can get some 10 pregnancies from each “dose” of sperm donation. There’s 130 million or so Russians of whom perhaps 20% will be women in their child bearing years. 26 million women then, all looking for a donation and Putin would need some 2.6 million donations to cover them all.

So, if he were to crack out 10 donations a day (he is, after all, a real man, isn’t he?) it would take him 712 years to cover them all. Not really going to work out, is it, despite the amusement of him wanking himself to death rather than bugging the rest of us as he does now.

Posted: 7th, November 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Chelsea Balls: John Terry ‘Takes A Pay Cut’ To Reduce Ticket Prices And Hell Freezes Over



TO Chelsea, where, as the Sun reprots, “JOHN TERRY vows this week to speak to Chelsea’s board of directors about the sky-high ticket prices at his club.”

Good old JT, sticking up for the fans.

But the Chelsea players are hoovering up all that cash – “69 per cent of it [income] went on wages.”

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Posted: 6th, November 2014 | In: Chelsea, Money, Sports | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Idling: 70% Of Porn Traffic Comes From Office Computers During Work Hours

DO you work hard at the office? Roland Paulsen, author of Empty Labor: Idleness and Workplace Resistance, counts the minutes:

Most work sociologists tend toward the view that non-work at work is a marginal, if not negligible, phenomenon. What all statistics point towards is a general intensification of work with more and more burnouts and other stress syndromes troubling us.

Yet there are more-detailed surveys reporting that the average time spent on private activities at work is between 1.5 and three hours a day. By measuring the flows of audiences for certain websites, it has also been observed that, by the turn of the century, 70 percent of the U.S. internet traffic passing through pornographic sites did so during working hours, and that 60 percent of all online purchases were made between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. … Even if the percentage of workers who claim they are working at the pinnacle of their capacity all the time is slowly increasing, the majority still remains unaffected. In fact, the proportion of people who say they never work hard has long been far greater than those who say they always do.

Slacking off, jacking off and clocking off…

Posted: 4th, November 2014 | In: Money, News, Technology | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

What I Learned Working In A Sex Shop

Soho, London - 2011

Soho, London – 2011

I once worked as a ‘marketeer’ in brothels (placing cards in phone boxes, mostly). They were flats in London’s West End, rented out for the day by owner’s who’d gone to work. The prostitutes were bright and making a choice. They had not been trafficked and were, as such, the victims of repeated rapes.

They offered me ‘freebies’ instead of cash. No thanks. I wanted the money.

None of the women were on hard drugs. But what I noticed – what any one would notice – was that Class A drugs and other criminality followed them. These women were forced into a world of crime.

That prostitution is illegal is iliberal. Shouldn’t consenting adults be allowed to buy and sell their own bodies? Plans are afoot to make the buying of sex but not the selling a crime. You might not like prostitution, but it exists. Turning consenting adults into criminals is unhelpful.

Laws that should apply to commercial sex are those that apply to non-commercial sex: consent, age, rights.

That preamble leads us to Russell Dean Stone, who shares the “enduring truths” he’s learned about working in a sex shop:

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Posted: 2nd, November 2014 | In: Money, NSFW | Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Weird sexual practices not so weird actually

As ever the boffins researching that subject of great fascination to most human beings, sex, have come up with another startler of a result. That while there’s definitely some odd sexual desires and behaviours out there most of them actually aren’t that weird. On the entirely logical and simple grounds that weird means unusual and if lots of people have roughly the same kinks then they’re not weird.

Do you ever worry if what floats your boat sexually might be a little unusual? Or even downright bizarre?

If so, a new study claims to set everything straight – and define the demure from the deviant.

Its conclusion? Men hoping for sex with two women is ‘normal’ – for women, the general theme is more 50 Shades of Grey.

These were just two of the findings of a research project that claims to scientifically define sexual deviation for the first time ever.

There’s definitely things that are still deviant of course. That bloke who likes to make love to cars is indeed off his rocker. Not in the sense of being mad you understand, but in the sense being used in this study. As there’s only a few other people who like to get it on with automobiles (rather than in the back seat of someone) then he’s weird. But a little bit of S&M, a tad of troilism, these are such common fantasies that they’re actually normal, not weird.

Which, we all can now say, is a bit of a relief really. That Ferrari does produce a phwoar, but not for sexual reasons, so that’s OK, and the jumbled images of what it would be like if the wife’s best friend joined in for a slap as well as the tickle is so commonplace as to be normal.

Posted: 1st, November 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Apple’s CEO Tim Cook Should Be Banned From Russia For Being Gay

So, at least, says a particularly repellent Russian commentator. That Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, should be banned from Russia after his recent public coming out as being gay. The reasoning being that he might bring Aids, or even Ebola, to Russia:

Hours after Apple CEO Tim Cook publicly addressed his sexuality for the first time, a St Petersburg politician has called for him to be banned from Russia.

According to a translation by Buzzfeed, anti-LGBT campaigner Vitaly Milonov, a member of the Legislative Assembly of St Petersburg, drew on stereotypes of homosexuals to suggest Tim Cook could bring “Aids and gonorrhea” to Russia.

He told the FlashNord website: “what could he [Cook] bring us? The Ebola virus, Aids, gonorrhea? They all have unseemly ties over there. Ban him for life.”

Quite what the connection between being gay in San Francisco and Ebola is is uncertain. And the connection with Aids is truly absurd. For Russia has an HIV problem of immense scope. A toxic combination of no clean needles and rampant drug injecting has meant that an horrific percentage of young Russians is already infected. These days you’re actually more likely to get infected screwing around in Russia than you are in a gay bathhouse in SF. Which makes this contention, that Cook should be banned from Russia for being gay, ludicrous.

Posted: 31st, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

If You Want To Avoid Prostate Cancer You Should Fuck Your Brains Out

But, err, only with women. That’s real science too: the more female sexual partners you have over a lifetime the lower your risk of getting prostate cancer. And the more male sexual partners you have over a lifetime then the higher the risks of prostate cancer. That’s an effect that has actually been observed and there’s also a couple of convincing stories about why that should be:

Association between sexual activity and prostate cancer risk was examined.
•Having had >20 female sexual partners associated with decreased prostate cancer risk.
•Having had >20 male sexual partners were suggestive of greater prostate cancer risk.
•Self-identification as a homosexual was suggestive of greater prostate cancer risk.
•No association found between sexually transmitted infections and prostate cancer.

Don’t forget that just having some data isn’t enough: torture the data for long enough and you can find patterns in absolutely everything. It’s only when there’s some theory theory about what’s going on that we can start to take it all seriously.

An the basic theory about more female sexual partners is as follows: the prostate actually produces the seminal fluid which is part of the ejaculate. More sex more often means this gets flushed out more often and that’s why they think that the cancer risk declines.

But, of course, that isn’t all. for presumably the same effect could be gained simply by having lots more sex with just the one person, rather than having many partners. The response to that being, well, yes, but that ain’t the way that relationships work as anyone who has ever had more than one of them will attest. The early phases of a new relationship are going to involve a great deal more rumpy pumpy than the later stages of one: meaning that someone who has had a larger series of new relationships almost certainly will have had more rumpy in total.

As to the rise in cancer from the number of male lovers this is explained in the paper simply by the mechanics of anal sex.

Posted: 29th, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Amazon Loses $500 Million: Now, About That Tax Bill

One of the amusements of recent times has been watching the tax campaigners like Margaret, Lady Hodge, huffing and puffing about how terrible it is that Amazon doesn’t pay much tax here in the UK. And it’s true, it doesn’t. But there is actually a good reason for this: Amazon doesn’t make much in the way of profits either:

Amazon, the US retail giant, has revealed its lost nearly $500m in the past three months, the largest amount in its history.

Shares in the company dropped 11pc in after-hours trading, wiping more than $15bn off the value of the company. The company increased sales by a fifth to $20.58bn in the three months to October, but it plunged $437m into the red as it spent heavily on new projects. That figure is more than 10 times the $41m loss Amazon reported in the same period a year earlier.

We’re generally told that the solution to the way that Amazon dodges UK tax is to adopt something called “unitary taxation”. This means that we entirely ignore all the various dodges and loopholes they use internally. We simply look at their sales around the world, the profit they make around the world, and say that if 10% of sales are in one country then so are 10% of profits. A reasonable enough system you might think.

But look at what happens here when we talk about Amazon: exactly the company that the tax campaigners have been saying this rule should be applied to.

The UK is about 10% of Amazon’s sales. So, therefore, 10% of Amazon’s profits (or losses) must be applied to the UK. So, in the last 3 months Amazon has, under this system, lost $50 million in the UK. And companies that lose money in the UK do not pay profit tax in the UK.

So, Hodge and those campaigners, all of whom are screaming for Amazon to pay more tax, are really arguing that amazon shouldn’t be paying any tax at all. Rather sweet of them really, isn’t it?

Posted: 26th, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Asda About To Get Screwed By Equal Opportunities Legislation

Asda is about to find itself having to explain a slightly uncomfortable set of facts: the men in its warehouses who load up the trucks get paid rather more than the women who unload the trucks onto the shelves do. And, since it can be argued that loading and unloading a truck is rather the same thing then, given that it’s mostly men doing the one, and getting paid more, and mostly women doing the other and getting paid less, then therefore this is sexual discrimination.

And that’s exactly what is being alleged:

Legal firm Leigh Day said it had been approached by 19,000 people – mostly women – after it announced it was taking action against the retailer.

The legal business said the case centres around women employed in Asda’s stores being paid less than male colleagues doing a similar work in its distribution chain.

“In the supermarkets the check-out staff and shelf-stackers are mostly women,” said Michael Newman, an employment law specialist at Leigh Day. “The people in the warehouses are pretty much all men. And, as a whole, the group that is mostly men gets paid more.”

“Our investigations suggest that the jobs are pretty much the same, in that warehouse staff are responsible for taking items off shelves, putting them on pallets and loading them into lorries.

“In the supermarket, they do the reverse: taking the pallets off the lorries, unstacking them and putting the items on the shelves.

“Where the jobs are not similar, we still think they are of equal value.”

Paying people for the same work differently is illegal of course. Illegal if it’s based upon such things as gender or race that is. There is another view possible, of course there is:

An Asda spokesman said: “A firm of no-win, no-fee lawyers is hoping to challenge our award-winning reputation as an equal opportunities employer.

“We do not discriminate and are very proud of our record in this area which, if it comes to it, we will robustly defend.”

And then there’s the more nuanced view that an economist might offer. Those warehouse jobs are indeed largely being done by men. Those instore jobs are indeed largely being done by women.


The obvious assumption is that there’s something about either end of the work that preferentially attracts (or repels) men and or women. None of us do think that Asda is being stupid enough to insist that only men can work in the warehouses, or only women in the stores: that’s so illegal that we really don’t think they’re that dumb. so, why do we have this gender segregation? We can come up with all sorts of theories but the most likely one is that there’s a difference in the physical strength required. Manhandling a tonne or two of pallet onto a truck is going to be rather different from placing the tomato sauce bottles on the shelf. And that is one area where there really are differences between the sexes: men do have greater physical strength (on average and in general).

Quite how the case will play out no one is at yet sure: but I’d run with the lawyers trying it on as my own opinion.

Posted: 25th, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Higher Education Is All About Debt: Pricking The University Bubble

loans students

DID you sign up for Bachelor of… degree? Did you borrow money to pay your fees? The UK is not America – yet, where sky-high college fees are an affront to ideal of freedom. B ut it;s getting that way. Higher education is big business. And you owe it:

It is likely that there are at least as many adult Americans with student-loan debts outstanding as there are living bachelor’s degree recipients who ever took out student loans. That’s right: as many debtors as degree holders! How can that be? First, huge numbers of those borrowing money never graduate from college. Second, many who borrow are not in baccalaureate degree programs. Three, people take forever to pay their loans back.

Some retire before the loan the paid off.

That pension pot is shrinking: 

 “A]n estimated two million Americans age 60 and older … are in debt from unpaid student loans, according to data from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. Its August Household Debt and Credit Report said the number of aging Americans with outstanding student loans had almost tripled from about 700,000 in 2005, whether from long-ago loans for their own educations or more recent borrowing to pay for college degrees for family members. . . . While older debtors account for a small fraction of student loan borrowers, who have accumulated nearly $1 trillion in such debt, the effect of owing a constantly ballooning amount of debt but having a fixed income can be onerous, said Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging.”

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Posted: 24th, October 2014 | In: Money, News | Comment (1) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Is Jay Rayner An Idiot For Insisting That Food Is Too Cheap?

Answer: yes.

Families need to pay more for food and have become ‘far too used to paying too little’, Masterchef judge Jay Rayner told MPs today.

The food critic and author told a parliamentary committee that food was too cheap to support British farmers.

He said: ‘We pay too little. We’re far too used to paying too little. And the only way we have at our disposal, I think, to secure a robust food supply is by investing in British farming and that does mean consumers pay more and look for that label.’

There’s four sets of idiocy here.

The first is that no one at all is insisting that you must buy cheap food. If you want farmers to have more money you can quite happily go out and buy more expensive food: locally produced, organic, free range, whatever tickles your fantasy. If you really want to you can just stick some cash money through the farm gate.

The second is that a robust food supply is not achieved by relying upon the farmers of one country to supply it. You might have noticed that there’s not been any famines in the UK for the past century and a half or so. Which is about the same time that we’ve been importing a decent fraction of our food. The connection between these two being that when the weather makes the crops fail in this country, as it still does from time to time, we’ve got other places to get our food from.

The third is that the falling real price of food is one of the things that has made us all richer in recent decades. It really wasn’t all that long ago, within my lifetime, that food made up 30% of the average poor families’ monthly budget. It’s now more like 10%: freeing up money to be spent on other things, making us richer.

And finally, the fourth, is that if British farmers can’t make a profit doing farming this is the universe’s way of telling them to bugger off and do something else other than farming. In short, there’s just too many people trying to be farmers.

Yes, Jay Rayner is being an idiot here.

Posted: 23rd, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Facebook Pays No UK Corporation Tax For Second Year

The usual lefties and liberals are up in arms about the fact that Facebook seems to have paid no corporation tax here in the UK for a second year. There’s a couple of really very impotant points they’re missing though:

Facebook paid no UK corporation tax for the second year in a row in 2013, while employees received shares in the company worth tens of millions of pounds.

The world’s largest social media company reported a pre-tax loss of £11.6m in the UK last year, despite its US parent company reporting a net profit of $1.5bn (£900m).


The company employed an average of 172 UK staff, who were paid £40.8m last year, almost double the 2012 figure of £21m.

This is because of a £15.5m payment cost for “share-based payments”.

UK staff received 1.52m free Facebook shares worth $118m at their current share price of about $78.

So, why didn’t Facebook make a profit in the UK? Because it gave out shares in the company to the employees. And over in leftyland we always thought that was a good idea: you know, the workers owning the means of production and all that? And Facebook UK has actually given the workers absolutely all of the value created in the company: the workers get the lot, the bastard capitalists none of it. So why isn’t there singing and dancing in the streets?

And there’s one other rather important point to make: those workers will have been paying 45% income tax on most of that money that they’re being paid. And if getting tax revenue is what you’re interested in that’s a rather higher rate than the 24% corporation tax rate for that year. And if you do care about the tax revenue then getting more tax is better than less, yes?

It’s just difficult to see why people are whining so much.

Posted: 23rd, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

The Use Of Dildos Turns Women Off Sex Apparently

It’s possible to surmise that the use of a dildo might turn a woman off more bipartisan forms of sex. Pleasuring oneself with the “Extra Large Mandingo” model could lead to a certain disappointment with the more regularly sized equipment provided by the average male. That Rampaging Rabbit’s ability to still be firm in 20 minutes of activity, the lack of required recovery time, might make the more normal masculine two minutes of squelching less appealing. But over and above that we’ve the possibility that the dildos themselves could be causing women to desire less sex:

Chemicals found in PVC flooring, plastic shower curtains, processed food and other trappings of modern life may be sapping women’s interest in sex.

A study has linked low libido with the additives used to soften plastics which are found in every home.

Women with the highest levels of phthalates in their bodies were more than twice as likely to say ‘not tonight dear’ as those with the lowest amounts.

The problem here being that phthalates are used to soften plastics. This softening meaning that they don’t have hard edges like the earlier artificial products like Bakelite used to have, and also that softening leads to their being warmer to the touch. Those are quite desirable attributes in the manufacture of sex toys and so all of those sex toys that are indeed made of plastic do indeed use phthalates. Where, of course, they are being introduced directly into the female body and thus, presumably, contributing to that loss of desire.

There are material alternatives, of course there are, for there were sex toys long before there were plastics. But wood (splinters!) glass (rather cold) stone (ditto) were all superseded by those plastics when they became available precisely because of those drawbacks.

But it is fun to see that modern dildos are actually solving the problem they were created to solve. Women not getting enough sex: great use this to have sex and you’ll want less sex in the future.

Posted: 22nd, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Viagra To Be Used To Treat Heart Disease

You and I might think that giving blokes with weak hearts Viagra so that they stride around with stiffies might not be all that good an idea. Which shows how much we know, eh? For the medical profession is urging exactly that: got a weak heart, get a stiffie!

A daily dose of Viagra could become a safe treatment for heart disease, researchers have said, after finding it improved blood flow.

The drug, normally used to treat erectile dysfunction, was found to prevent changes to the heart associated with disease.

Because it is already on the market and known to be safe, the researchers said there was no reason it could not be used immediately but said larger trials would be beneficial.

It’s not actually quite as stupid as we’ve made it sound. for there is a certain section of heart muscle that is very similar indeed to the muscles used to gain an erection. And Viagra works on those extremely similar muscles in exactly the same way, beneficially in both cases. So, for that particular kind of heart problem it’s not a bad idea at all.

But the real joy of this finding is that it brings the whole story full circle. For Viagra was originally designed as a drug to treat heart disease (a very slightly different kind that it’s now being touted for). And they found out, when they tested it on various groups of both male and female pensioners that the men didn’t want to give their extra tablets back at the end of the trial while the women didn’t are a hoot about that. At which point a little more investigation was done into why the men didn’t want to give the pills back and thus was found the effect. That the drug didn’t do all that much for the heart but it provided those stiffies that the older male can find so elusive. Especially, given the way that erections work, those that have heart problems find so difficult to attain.

Of course, Viagra has actually been treating heart disease all these years anyway. Even a few minutes now and then of gentle and stimulative exercise is known to have a beneficial effect upon the heart so those stiffies have been put to good use in the treatment of the more general condition.

Posted: 21st, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Porno Titties For Breast Cancer

pornhubThis might be the finest offer of corporate sponsorship ever. It is simply, in it’s initial form, so perfect that the refusal of the donation is absurd. For what one of the porn sites on the web did was offer a donation to one of the charities dealing with breast cancer. More than that, it offered a sum of money for each video of boobies watched in the relevant, let’s all be aware of breast cancer, month:

In 2012, the Susan G Komen Foundation declined a donation from which had raised one cent for every boob video viewed on the site,

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: 21st, October 2014 | In: Money, News | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

£5 Fine Warning: What To Do With Your Library Books If You Catch Ebola

WHAT to to with your library book if you catch Ebola:


Screen shot 2014-10-18 at 23.16.16


A fiver for catching Ebola is a small price to pay when compared to the late return charges…

Spotter: @jamiesont


Posted: 18th, October 2014 | In: Money, News | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0

Greenpeace Lies About Golden Rice. Again

One of the founders of Greenpeace has hit out, yet again, at that organisation. The example he’s using of how Greenpeace has slipped its original moorings is that of golden rice. One of the big killers in the world is Vitamin A deficiency. And so a type of rice, this golden rice, has been genetically modified to produce it as it grows. This is entirely non-profit, there are no patents, this isn’t big agri-business. And half a million children a year die from the vitamin deficiency: so rolling out this rice would be a rather good idea.

Yet Greenpeace won’t allow it:

On the organisation’s position of golden rice, he said: ‘The thing about golden rice is it’s a least-favourable option and it doesn’t actually exist yet, it’s been many years in proposal and… it doesn’t work

‘The real solution to this is a proper, balanced diet like the home gardening initiatives in Bangladesh have achieved.’

That’s flat out lying. Golden rice exists and it’s good to go. But such is Greenpeace’s resistance to any GMO that they’d prefer that half a million children a year die than that their ideological purity be affected in any manner. There’s a word for bastards like that. So it’s not all that much of a surprise to see one of the founders of the group saying the following:

Dr Moore told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: ‘My problem with Greenpeace is they have lost any humanitarian roots they had.

‘When we started Greenpeace it was to stop nuclear war and the destruction of human civilisation, that of course is the “peace” in Greenpeace.

‘The “green” is the environment and that’s good as well, but they lost the concerns for humans… They have turned, basically, into an evil organisation.’

He gave the example of so-called ‘golden rice’, a crop enriched with vitamin A which supporters say would help millions of the world’s poorest people improve their diet.

Dr Moore said the fact that Greenpeace opposed the idea showed that they no longer care about people.

The Save the Whales part of Greenpeace is just great. But it would be a vastly better organisation if there was also a part of it that would turn it’s mind to Save the Kiddies.

Posted: 16th, October 2014 | In: Money | Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed:RSS 2.0