Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay
THIS amused me: the new wristbands containing all sorts of lovely electronic gizmos to aid in monitoring your health actually make you ill. Fitbit, the company that makes them, apparently forgot about how you’ve got to be careful of the nickel content of something that you’re going to put onto a human being who then starts sweating:
Fitbit, a maker of wristbands that track physical fitness, says it is “helping people lead healthier, more active lives.” But complaints continue to mount from users who say Fitbit’s newest product, the Force band, is causing blisters, rashes and itchy dry patches on their wrists.
User forums on Fitbit.com, the website of the San Francisco company that also makes other wearable devices, include hundreds of comments about skin problems from wearers of the $129 Force.
One woman said she developed a burn-like red patch on her wrist that required medical treatment after wearing the wristband for seven weeks. She said Fitbit offered her a financial settlement, which she declined.
THIS is one of those stories where you just have to put your head in your hands at the gross stupidity of our fellow citizens:
When he vented his frustration about holiday prices shooting up during the school half-term break, Paul Cookson struck a chord with other parents.
His rant to 250 Facebook friends quickly went viral as outraged parents shared his post about rip-off prices 143,000 times.
Now the issue may even be debated in Parliament after more than 100,000 signed an online petition calling for the Government to curb prices.
Yep, 100,000 people are entirely mystified about why the price of something might rise when more people want it. Completely blind to the way that prices, supply and demand interact. You wonder how they manage to exist in a market economy really.
Forgive me but I think this is rather amusing, a website called Forgotify. The business structure of whic is that the more successful it becomes then the faster it will close itself down.
Err, yes, that’s right. The more people use the site then the faster it will go out of business.
You might think that you own the stuff you’ve bought from Amazon and iTunes. After all, you’ve coughed up the cash for it, all that music, those electronics books, they’re all on your devices. But sad to say you don’t in fact own it: you’re only renting it.
More than £30 billion of films, music and books bought through iTunes and Amazon could vanish when their owners die.
YOU may think this is absurd but nevertheless it’s is actually true. From somewhere around a lot to all of rising household inequality has been caused by womens’ lib. Which is, of course, an exciting finding:
The economists test this by comparing the Gini coefficient against their model of what the Gini coefficient would have been if men and women married randomly. In 1960, the actual Gini coefficient in the U.S. was 0.34, almost indistinguishable from the Gini coefficient produced by their random model (0.33). That suggests there was very little assortative mating back then. (Think of all the executives who ended up with their secretaries.)
By 2005, the Gini coefficient was 0.43. That’s a big increase. What’s more, the economists found that “if people matched in 2005 according to the 1960 standardized mating pattern there would be a significant reduction in income inequality; i.e., the Gini drops from 0.43 to 0.35.”
WE’RE being told, endlessly, that we must raise the minimum wage in order to increase the incomes of the working poor. It’s an outrage that people cannot support themselves in the style we think they all ought to be simply by the sweat of their brow. Thus the minimum wage must be raised to a truly living wage to make the world a better place.
However, here’s why that’s not actually all that great an idea:
Across the bulk of the income distribution, a 10% rise in the NMW leads to an increase in net family income amongst NMW families of around 3%; this is around 4% for families where the NMW is the main source of earnings, and around 2% for families where the NMW is the secondary source of earnings.
POOR, hard-up Prince has shocked his fans after The Purple One launched some legal action against 22 people for posting copies of live performances online.
Court documents say that the accused have distributed bootleg recordings using social networks and blogs.
THERE are various ways you can look at this but it does seem to be true that four out of five, or 80%, of all new private sector jobs are in London:
Talented young people are leaving provincial cities in their 20s, making a success of their lives in London and never go back. London is where the work is: the capital was responsible for four out of every five jobs created in the private sector between 2010 and 2012.
The brain drain meant that every major city outside the south-east is losing young people to London. One in three 22-30 year olds leaving their hometowns end up with Oyster cards and Boris as their mayor.
SO we’re told by a report about international online trade: the UK has the world’s largest trade surplus in it. Woo Hoo!
Makes up for the fact, well, just a little bit, that we’ve been running trade deficits for as long as most of us have been alive. Here’s the good news:
The value of online exports in six of the top e-commerce markets will grow fivefold to $130 billion by 2020, with Britain currently generating the biggest online trade surplus by selling more goods abroad, research showed on Monday.
It’s just that, well, I didn’t believe this. So I went off and got a copy of the report and asked the people who had written it quite how they had come to this conclusion.
IT’S something of a pity that the various taxmen across Europe don’t actually understand the tax laws that they’re supposed to be administering. We had the case a couple of weeks back of Italy trying to impost the “Google Tax” in clear violation of EU law and here we’ve the French taxman going after McDonalds. Again, seemingly ignorant of the fact that they’re just not allowed to do this under EU law.
THOMAS Perkins is being persecuted. His bloodline is a story of horror and systematic abuse. You see, Mr Perkins is rich. He is one of the one percent. Hell, he’s worth $8bn. He’s one of the one percent’s one percent. And he’s feeling persecuted. He’s living in a gated community, or ghetto, from which he can only leave at the gatekeeper’s approval. His house is full of uniformed spies, the eyes and ears disguised as maids, drivers, toothpaste squeezers and gardeners. Mr Perkins is a JEW. No. He’s not an actual Jew. He has Jealously Earned Wealth.
In a letter to the Wall Street Journal, Perkins speaks of “parallels” between the treatment of lower-case Jews in Nazi Germany and the “progressive war on the American one percent”. He notes:
”Writing from the epicenter of progressive thought, San Francisco, I would call attention to the parallels of fascist Nazi Germany to its war on its ‘one percent’, namely its Jews, to the progressive war on the American one percent, namely the ‘rich’.
LIGHTS out at Lancashire brewers Daniel Thwaites. Well, some of them are out. Following an announcement that the company is moving from Penny Street, Blackburn, to an unnamed location and cutting jobs, a few of the lights went out. The sign at the factory went from this:
THE big news over the Pond today is that Warren Buffett is offering a billion dollar (yes, really, $1,000,000,000) prize about basketball. And the thing is, yes, this is a pretty big prize, but it’s pretty certain that no one’s going to win it. Indeed, it’s set up almost to make sure that no one will.
WE’VE been having all sorts of lovely fun the last couple of years as people uncover the stories about how little the various internet companies pay in tax. Google sells everything in from Ireland, as does Facebook, meaning that they pay tax on their UK profits over there. Well, with a cure deal that lets them send all their profits to Bermuda without tax. Amazon does much the same from Luxembourg: meaning that the poor old British taxman never sees a penny in tax on the profits being made in the UK.
All of this is, of course, entirely legal. So, the call has been that the law must be changed so that these companies are paying more tax. And everyone went off to the OECD (the club for rich countries) and they said OK, we’ll have a look at it.
Proposals for a tax crackdown on digital companies such as Google and Amazon are to be dropped, as governments push ahead with measures affecting the global economy.
Designing special tax rules for internet companies would not be viable, given the growing digital presence in large parts of the economy, an international task force has concluded.
PLENTY of small companies out there have found themselves sliding down the Google search results after they paid some consultant or other to improve their web rankings. Because the consultants then go out and buy links from blogs and other websites: something that tricks the Google search engine into thinking that the site is more important than it is.
NOW here’s a thing. The Scott Trust Limited, which owns the Guardian Media Group, which in turn owns The Guardian, is just about to make a vast profit. And it will pay no tax at all on that vast profit.
Which is interesting, don’t you think, given that newspaper’s constant refrain that big business is ripping us all off by not paying taxes?
TRUE fact: The 8th richest man in the world is called Ka-Shing. Excellent nominative determinism:
IT’S unusual for someone to go through two entire technological revolutions in their own, one, lifetime, but I think it might be happening to me. Might have to hope I can hang on for another decade or so to see it entirely becoming true perhaps. But I’m referring to the rise and the fall of the PC.
Personal computer sales slipped even further in the run-up to Christmas, capping the worst annual decline in the PC industry’s history.
Research firm Gartner estimates that worldwide PC shipments for the three months ending in December dropped 7pc compared with the same period in 2012. It marks the seventh consecutive quarter of decreasing PC sales.
It means PC sales plunged a total of 10pc in 2013. Shipments of desktop and laptop computers have never fallen so dramatically. The numbers show that annual PC shipments have now dropped to levels last seen in 2009.
OK, we might not think that is all that dramatic: they’re still shipping 90 million or so after all, even with those declines.
THIS is a seriously astonishing little piece of information. Skype now carries enough international phone calls that its own traffic is equal to 40% of the entire international calling market. And there’s an important point here about why economic growth seems to be slowing too. Here’s the basic news in the WSJ:
More importantly, Skype’s traffic was almost 40% the size of the entire conventional international telecom market — that is, for every ten minutes spent making international phone calls on every mobile and landline network in the entire world, four minutes are spent on Skype. The service is gradually eating its industry.
THE music streaming service, Spotify, now allows unlimited free listening. This is seen as a great step forward: the company’s technology is getting better, they’re getting better at selling ads and all that sort of stuff. This may or may not be the actual reason they’re lifting their previous limits though:
Spotify’s advertising engine and paid customer conversion funnel are finally working well enough that today it eliminated all limits on free, ad-supported web listening in all countries. It’s an important milestone for the scalability and sustainability of Spotify’s business that contrasts with other streaming music services like Ex.fm and Rdio that are stumbling or shutting down.
MY response to this appalling worry of modern life is that I’m just fine with children in restaurants although I will admit to preferring them boiled rather than fried. This isn’t quite how a Guardian writer called Ben Pobji sees things of course: he is insisting that he should be able to inflict his snotnoses on you:
Fine, say the kiddie-banners. Then hire a babysitter. Go out without the kids. Excellent. But guess what? Sometimes you can’t get a babysitter. Sometimes life happens and you’re stuck holding the nappies. But more than this – sometimes, believe it or not, we want to take our children to a nice restaurant. We all know that in general parenthood is a lifelong struggle to avoid spending time with the kids, but every now and then, incredibly, mum and dad might enjoy their children’s company and would rather have them around than dump them and run.
And perhaps most importantly, if you don’t allow kids in restaurants because of how they behave, what you’re doing is raising a whole bunch of kids who’ll never know how to behave in restaurants. I consider taking my kids out to eat an educational moment: teaching them while they gorge.
THIS is a bit of a surprise really, given RyanAir’s long standing policy on being listed upon any of the flight comparison sites like Skyscanner. That they’re going to team up with Google in order to build a site that will be incorporated into the Google home pages and search index:
There are some very exciting developments with Google, where we have been working with them on sharing the pricing.
We’ll be sharing the Ryanair pricing through all of the Google outlets, so when you go in, there’ll be route selections, cheapest prices and so on. Google are developing a price-comparison thing themselves.
They want to launch with us and we’re working with them on that kind of product. It’ll blow comparison sites like Skyscanner out of the water.
IF only the French could fight their wars as bravely as they fight against markets, eh?
The latest is that several Parisian taxi drivers have beaten up someone driving an Uber limo: this is even after the French Government just passed a, quite probably illegal, law to favour the taxis over the Uber drivers:
It seems that protest turned to guerrilla warfare this morning as one Uber driver, carrying Eventbrite CTO Renaud Visage & Kat Borlongan from the airport to Paris, was attacked by multiple assailants, who allegedly, after smashing one window and slashing two tires (as seen in the photo), as well as defacing one side of the car with glue, attempted to enter the vehicle. Borlongan says their Uber driver manoeuvered the two out of the situation before anything could happen, leaving the three stranded on the shoulder of the freeway.