Anorak

Money | Anorak - Part 4

Money Category

Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay

Polly Tonybee misses the point about Kensington and Chelsea property tycoons

Polly Tonybee is writing about London property in the Guardian.

Empty property bought by investors to sit unused is a scandal the Guardian has exposed this week, finding 1,652 in the Grenfell borough of Kensington and Chelsea alone.

Why is buying expensive property a scandal? Tonybee says these “mothballed houses” ares”sitting there as gold bullion in the bank, not homes for anyone.” Are the kind of people who can afford to rent gold bullion-homes are of prime concern in the poster pats of London?

Even the prospect of collecting £10,000 a month is not enough to encourage wealthy owners to fill their vacant properties

Rich invest money to get richer. Not exactly news, is it, let alone a scandal on a par, say with blood diamonds or blowing the crap out of oil-rich Iraq? (What changes his mind?” asked Tonybee in 2003. Her question was rhetorical because she swiftly answered: “Only the barrel of a gun up his nostril.”)

She then adds this – and it’s great:

What happens at the top end of the market knocks on all down the chain – and what’s happening at the bottom is a disaster.

She’s right. And the top end is booming. If the big property developers build more, then good. No matter who buys the bricks, it’s the building of more than makes things work. The story should not be about affordable homes; it should be about more homes.

PS: Polly Tonybee knows all about foreigners buying property overseas and leaving it empty for most of the time. She owns a second home in Tuscany. It’s all that non-working-class Left-wing politics. Hold the equality and fighting the powerful, Polly’s into class guilt, the family firm and prejudice.

PPS: This from 2016: “More than 7,500 local authority properties across the capital are lying empty as thousands of Londoners struggle to find a home.”

Posted: 4th, August 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money | Comment


Politician sues god for failed promotion

india money sue god

 

Life imitates Billy Connolly movies in India. If you hire the priest to perform the service then the service must be done. Or else:

An MLA, who belongs to the ruling party in Telangana, paid Rs 50 lakh to two tribal priests to perform a special pooja so that he gets a ministerial berth. However, when the duo failed to give him the promised political fortune, the MLA sent them to police custody.

A Lakh Rupee is one hundred thousand rupees. The politician paid around £60,000 for prayers! You trust this man’s judgement?

Spotter: India.com

 

Posted: 17th, July 2017 | In: Money, Politicians, Strange But True | Comment


Dash Cam: biker jumps onto bonnet of car in compensation attempt (video)

Idiot of the day is the biker who leapt on the bonnet of car in an attmept to win compensation cash. Dash cam – you got on?

Posted: 15th, July 2017 | In: Money, Strange But True | Comment


Arsenal player donates £19,000 to Grenfell fund

Footballers get such a bad press it’s useful to focus on the good they do. Arsenal defender Hector Bellerin has kept his pledge to donate £50 for every minute he played for Spain in the European Under-21 Championship. The sums have been done and Bellrin will give £19,050 to the Red Cross fund helping survivors of the Grenfell Tower fire.

This follows news that Manchester City’s Raheem Sterling, who grew up in north west London and played for QPR, has also made a substantial donation to Grenfell survivors.

NOTE: Let’s hope all the money goes to those who need it. According to the Third Sector, the British Red Cross paid its highest earner £173,000 in 2017. Thirty-seven charities paid their top earner more than £200,000.

Posted: 3rd, July 2017 | In: Arsenal, Money, News, Sports | Comment


After Grenfell Tower: let’s envy the ‘victims’ in their luxury flats

Kensington Row grenfell tower

 

After Grenfell Tower, news that displaced residents will be rehoused in “Posh New £5m Flats” (Star) at a new-build complex called Kensington Row located around a mile and a half from the disaster. The development has 68 flats, where the three-bed and four-bed flats are worth “around £5m” each.  These bigger flats, says the paper, are where “a majority of the survivors” will live.

Over in the Express there’s news that only “some of the victims” will be rehoused in the new flats. I’d say none of the victims will be. They’re dead – at least 79 of them. It’s the survivors who are being rehoused because their last home was a toxic time-bomb.

The flats, secured by the City of London Corporation, are worth even more in the Express. Now homes on the plot are worth up to £8.5m. Residents have access to a “gym, swimming pool, spa, private cinema and 24-hour concierge”. Are we supposed to envy them, or just marvel at the insane London property market which keeps so many people off the property ladder?

 

Kensington Row grenfell tower

The Mail says those survivors are living the dream

 

And then we learn that the City of London Corp paid around £10m (source: The Sun) for the 68 flats. That’s not £5m each is it – even if Diane Abbott is doing the maths. The majority of survivors are not living in £5m flats. It’s just under £150,000 for each, on average. Yes, I know that’s not the asking price, but the base price. The developers have “sold the properties at cost price”. But it proves that the flats’ monetary value is affected by many forces, not least of all guesswork and the legal requirement that all new complexes contain an element of low-cost housing.  The government defines affordable housing as “social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing provided to specified eligible households whose needs are not met by the market”.

The need for a decent roof over your head is not a luxury or an investor’s punt. It’s a basic human requirement.

Oddly, the Mirror makes no mention of the new flats until Page 5. Buried in the 14h paragraph of a story on how Grenfell Tower became enveloped in a “deadly cyanide cloud”, we learn that “some Grenfell residents” will be rehoused “in a £10m deal”.

The Mail leaves it to pages 20 and 21 to focus on the flats. Now the flats are in “£2bn blocks” and worth up to £13m. The flats are “the stuff of dreams”. Well, the privately owned ones next door the council flats on the same £2bn development are. The council homes will have a lower spec.

The rehoused Grenfeell Tower survivors will, the paper observes, “live near multi-millionaires”. Not everyone’s a multi-millionaire in London – yet. There are people in the city who live in social housing and do menial and blue collar jobs. Who knew?

Posted: 22nd, June 2017 | In: Money, News, Tabloids, The Consumer | Comment


Man sues date for texting during Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2

Brandon Vezmar is suing his date for $17.31, the price of the movie ticket he bought her. Vezmar claims the woman’s behaviour on their night out “is a threat to civilized society”.

Vezmar, 37, of Austin, Texas, is unhappy that whilst on a date at Barton Creek Square cinema, the woman, 35, became disinterested in the 3D showing of Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 and began texting.

He talks to the American-Statesman. “It was kind of a first date from hell,” he says. About 15 minutes into the movie she took out her phone and texted. “This is like one of my biggest pet peeves,” he adds. In his small claim’s law suit Vezmar claims the woman “activated her phone at least 10-20 times in 15 minutes to read and send text messages”. This, he states, was a “direct violation” of the cinema’s policy on mobile phone use.

He says he asked her to stop. She refused. He invited her to text outside, which she did. She left and never returned. She took off in the car she and Vezmar had shared to reach the cinema, leaving him to make his own way home.

“I had my phone low and I wasn’t bothering anybody,” she says. “It wasn’t like constant texting. I’m not a bad woman. I just went out on a date.”

This being America, the woman says “she planned to file a protective order against Vezmar for contacting her little sister to get the money for the movie ticket”.

This one will run and run.

Posted: 16th, June 2017 | In: Film, Money, Strange But True | Comment


For the unlucky not the few: Michael Lewis narrates the parable of the lucky man and the fought cookie

cookie michael lewis

 

In 2012 Moneyball author Michael Lewis gave addressed Princeton University. He tells the gilded youth arranged before him that they “owe a debt to the unlucky”.

I now live in Berkeley, California. A few years ago, just a few blocks from my home, a pair of researchers in the Cal psychology department staged an experiment. They began by grabbing students, as lab rats. Then they broke the students into teams, segregated by sex. Three men, or three women, per team. Then they put these teams of three into a room, and arbitrarily assigned one of the three to act as leader. Then they gave them some complicated moral problem to solve: say what should be done about academic cheating, or how to regulate drinking on campus.

Exactly 30 minutes into the problem-solving the researchers interrupted each group. They entered the room bearing a plate of cookies. Four cookies. The team consisted of three people, but there were these four cookies. Every team member obviously got one cookie, but that left a fourth cookie, just sitting there. It should have been awkward. But it wasn’t. With incredible consistency the person arbitrarily appointed leader of the group grabbed the fourth cookie, and ate it. Not only ate it, but ate it with gusto: lips smacking, mouth open, drool at the corners of their mouths. In the end all that was left of the extra cookie were crumbs on the leader’s shirt.

This leader had performed no special task. He had no special virtue. He’d been chosen at random, 30 minutes earlier. His status was nothing but luck. But it still left him with the sense that the cookie should be his.

This experiment helps to explain Wall Street bonuses and CEO pay, and I’m sure lots of other human behavior. But it also is relevant to new graduates of Princeton University. In a general sort of way you have been appointed the leader of the group. Your appointment may not be entirely arbitrary. But you must sense its arbitrary aspect: you are the lucky few. Lucky in your parents, lucky in your country, lucky that a place like Princeton exists that can take in lucky people, introduce them to other lucky people, and increase their chances of becoming even luckier. Lucky that you live in the richest society the world has ever seen, in a time when no one actually expects you to sacrifice your interests to anything.

All of you have been faced with the extra cookie. All of you will be faced with many more of them. In time you will find it easy to assume that you deserve the extra cookie. For all I know, you may. But you’ll be happier, and the world will be better off, if you at least pretend that you don’t.

Of course, cookies make you fat. You should thank the greedy sods for prolonging your lives.

 

Spotter: @goldman, Kottke

Posted: 11th, June 2017 | In: Money, Reviews | Comment


Fabulous playing cards inspired by Karina Eibatova’s bird art

We love a beautiful set of playing cards. This set designed by Karina Eibatova with LUX Cards features her birds and feathers drawings.

 

 

You can buy AVES  here. And you can learn how to play at the online casino at RedBet.

Posted: 9th, June 2017 | In: Money, The Consumer | Comment


Donald Trump and the cancer charity horror story

21st Century Bastards Donald TRump- action figures for the post-truth age

 

Occasionally you read something that shocks you. Forbes’ Dan Alexander has a story about Donald Trump’s son Eric and a charity golf event .

The real star of the day is Eric Trump, the president’s second son and now the co-head of the Trump Organization, who has hosted this event for ten years on behalf of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis. He’s done a ton of good: To date, he’s directed more than $11 million there, the vast majority of it via this annual golf event. He has also helped raise another $5 million through events with other organizations.

Fabulous. Overlooking the grandstanding, doesn’t just one extra dollar raised make the entire thing worthwhile? Surely it does.

The best part about all this, according to Eric Trump, is the charity’s efficiency: Because he can get his family’s golf course for free and have most of the other costs donated, virtually all the money contributed will go toward helping kids with cancer. “We get to use our assets 100% free of charge,” Trump tells Forbes.

That’s not the case. In reviewing filings from the Eric Trump Foundation and other charities, it’s clear that the course wasn’t free–that the Trump Organization received payments for its use, part of more than $1.2 million that has no documented recipients past the Trump Organization. Golf charity experts say the listed expenses defy any reasonable cost justification for a one-day golf tournament.

Additionally, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which has come under previous scrutiny for self-dealing and advancing the interests of its namesake rather than those of charity, apparently used the Eric Trump Foundation to funnel $100,000 in donations into revenue for the Trump Organization.

Read it all on Forbes.

The wonder is that President Trump should know that charity can never replace government social assurance. Nothing and no-one has the financial capacity of the federal government. Contributing your celebrity to the cause is not enough:

Donations rise during good times and fall during bad; the $316 billion given last year is high, but it’s still less than any of the three years leading up to the last recession. It’s understandable that people would have less to give when times are hard, but happens to be the exact time when the need is highest. …

The food stamps program cost $78 billion last year, and Medicaid cost, $251 billion. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, or what used to be called welfare, cost another $31 billion. Once the Obamacare exchanges reach something like full capacity in 2017, federal subsidies for insurance on those exchanges is projected to cost about $108 billion. And that’s before we even mention Social Security, which cost $773 billion in 2012.

So the idea that a reduction in these programs could somehow be made up for by an increase in private giving just doesn’t reflect reality.

Over to the President…

Posted: 7th, June 2017 | In: Money, Politicians | Comment


Man takes exquisite revenge on VERY LOUD business meeting in a coffee shop

When people use the coffee shop for business meeting that can be loud.  VERY LOUD. One man has exacted revenge:

 

Guy has perfect revenge on people having VERY LOUD business meeting in coffee shop

 

Spotter: @sehnaoiu, The Poke

Posted: 20th, May 2017 | In: Money, The Consumer | Comment


Lottery winner’s millionaire son sues parents for more money

Can love be measured in cash? Michael Dawes was given a pot load of cash by his dear old dad. But he reasoned that dad should have been more generous. The matter game before the Beak:

A man who was given nearly £1.6m by his father after he won £101m in the Euromillions has had his claim for more cash thrown out by a judge.

Best check the will.

Michael Dawes, 32, took his father, Dave, and stepmother Angie to court after they stopped giving him more money. He claimed the couple had promised to ensure he and his partner, James Beedle, 34, would never have to worry about money again.

All depends on how much they spend, right? A £1.6 million windfall – tax free because it’s a fit – is not a small sum of money. Spread over his working life – 18-70, say – and all things being equal, the sum gives young Dawes an equivalent income of  over £30,000 a year in today’s money. In April 2016 median gross weekly earnings for full-time employees were £539. Not too shabby, then, for young Dawes. Or he could invest the sum wisely and get more – something achievable by stashing the cash on multiple high-interest-paying current accounts and taking a long-term view on funds and shares.

So what did he do with the money?

Michael Dawes was given £1m by his father and stepmother soon after their win, but the judge said nearly all of it had been spent within a month.

Sound investments?

About £550,000 was spent on a house in Portsmouth, where Michael lived, but he also gave nearly £250,000 to friends and his partner’s family, and quit a well-paid IT job.

He quit his job? Dad had won big on a low-risk/high-reward activity. Why work when you can just ask?

At one point, the pair were spending up to £30,000 a month, including £1,000 a week on groceries.

And he wanted to be kept in the style to which he had become accustomed. But the judge dismissed his claim.

You can’t pick your family, but you can pick your numbers. Best of luck!

Posted: 19th, May 2017 | In: Money | Comment


He’s right: Jeremy Corbyn’s high income does not make him wealthy

jeremy corbyn money

 

Is Jeremy Corbyn a wealthy man? We don’t know. We haven’t seen his tax returns. All we do know is that he earns well. The UK average salary is around £27,000 a year. Corbyn earns more than £137,000  year. According to the Mirror, the pay gap is a “grotesque chasm between a rich one per cent and the other 99% of the country”.

Is Corbyn grotesquely rich? An annual income of £100,000 is enough to put you comfortably within the top 2% of all earners.

The Mail spots Corbyn speaking with Julie Etchingham on ITV’s Tonight show:

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has REFUSED to say that he is a wealthy man – despite earning more than £137,000…

He said: ‘I consider myself adequately paid, very adequately paid for what I do…. What I do with it is a different matter. I consider myself well paid for what I do and I am wanting to say to everyone who’s well off, make your contribution to our society.’

Ms Etchingham, 47, reminded him that people at home will be ‘shouting at the TV saying “of course you’re a wealthy man on a £137,000″‘.

But he replied: ‘No, I’m not wealthy because of where I put the money, but I’m not going into that.’

He’s right. Wealth is having a great deal of money, resources, or assets. We don’t know if Jeremy Corbyn is wealthy. We do know that he is paid well and his income affords him choices. Wealth inequality is not the same as income inequality. The two can be linked. But they are not cause and effect.

 

Posted: 15th, May 2017 | In: Money, Politicians | Comment


US tech titans mint millionaires as globalised business model pays off

When the web first boomed, the dream was to become a dotcom millionaire for running you own website. Now you can rich by working for someopne who built a website that went huge. The trick is to work for one that operates on a global scale and is based in the US. In “Tech titans pay $20bn in bonuses” The Times’ Danny Fortsun writes:

Apple, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook and Google’s parent Alphabet doled out a combined $20bn (£15.4bn) in share payouts last year, on top of the techies’ salaries, according to an analysis of stock market filings…

The $20bn bonanza equates to $29,850 for each of the quintet’s 670,000 employees. Last year Britain’s bankers and insurance workers took home £13.9bn in bonuses, an average of £13,400 per employee.

Well, quite. As Tim notes: “Global industry pays more in bonuses across the world than the one country sector of a global business.” If you’re tax efficient, the share price will rise leaving more money to dish out amongst friends and employees back at HQ.

What we don’t know is that bonuses the  Big Five’s UK-based workforce took home when compared to their colleagues in the USA, say, or Luxembourg?

Posted: 7th, May 2017 | In: Money, Technology | Comment


The Nomadic Gardener: this man will hire your garden to grow his vegetables in

 

Jim Kovaleski is the nomadic gardener, a doyen of “portable farming” at one point he hies your garden to grow his produce in.

This nomadic gardener travels between Maine to Florida gardening leased front yards. With a frugal lifestyle and revenues as high as $1.5K a week, he’s living the dream.

It’s win-win. You rent out your land for an itinerant worker to farm. You, the gardener and your land become useful and profitable parts of society. If the price of land is lowered because of this new industry, then good. Landu s the largest inout cost. Reduce that and we should rejoice.

Spotter: Kottke

Posted: 4th, May 2017 | In: Money, The Consumer | Comment


Nigerian spy chief had $43m dollars in his Lagos flat

Can it be that the bloke whose been emailing you all these years has been caught? Police in Nigeria have noticed Aoy Oke, the country’s National Intelligence Agency boss, after finding $43 Million in cash at his four-bedroom Lagos flat.

Police also found $36,000 worth of British pounds and $75,000 worth of Nigerian naira.

Nigeria’s anti-corruption body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, said it suspected the funds were linked to unlawful activities.

 

ayo oke

“It’s amazing what you find down the back of the sofa”

 

Oke’s been suspended from his job.

Oke has’t yet made a public statement, but unnamed intelligence sources told local media there’s nothing to see here, and the cash was just being held for covert operations.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari isn’t buying it, and has suspended Oke pending an investigation. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo will head the investigation and report back to Buhari with findings in two weeks.

Meanwhile, that email about a pressing need to deposit tens of millions of dollars into your Post Office savings account might not be all that far-fetched after all.

Spotter: Foreign Policy

 

Posted: 21st, April 2017 | In: Money, Strange But True | Comment


Google tax is not cheating tax on revenue

Most of us view the web via Google. The company makes huge amounts of money for showing adverts to internet users. But should it pay more tax? The Daily Mail says Google paid “just” £36.4million in UK corporation tax last year. This sounds like a lot of money. But the Mail’s says it’s not a lot when you see the figure in light of Google’s “£1billion in revenues” – i.e. turnover.

A politician is outraged. Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman Susan Kramer thunders: “It is appalling that Google are still getting away with paying such a paltry amount of their total revenue back in taxes.”

Er, no. Revenues are not the same thing as profits. You’d think a leading politician would now that.

The Government describes Corporation Tax as a 20% on profit. Google made a pre-tax profit of £149m in the UK for the 12 months to the end of June 2016.

But accounts filed by Alphabet, Google’s parent company, show UK sales of almost £7bn. But Google’s UK sales are booked in the Irish Republic, where corporation tax is 12.5%. Ireland boasts of its favourable rates. The Republic of Ireland’s IDA seeks to secure inward investment. It produces this handy guide to its corporate tax rates:

 

google tax IDA ireland

 

Such are the facts.

 

Posted: 1st, April 2017 | In: Money, Politicians, Reviews | Comment


Brexit brings an end to the Common Fisheries Policy’s bloodsports

Animal lovers should be delighted the UK is leaving the European Union. The UK’s farmers and fishermen tend to abide by the rules. What kind of reaction would there be if British farmers adopted the French habit of force-feeding geese to make foie gras? In 2013 it emerged that Spanish farmers were getting cash under the Common Agricultural Policy to rear bulls for bullfighting.

The latest news from Theresa May’s Brexit folder is that she’ll take Britain out of the Common Fisheries Policy. That’s the agreement that allows European fishing vessels to access waters six to twelve nautical miles from British shores.

The EU says the Common Fisheries Policy aims to ensure that fishing is “environmentally, economically and socially sustainable”. But the quotas, agreed under Ted Heath’s Tory government, allowed Britain’s fishermen 13 per cent by value of the new “common resource”. This led to the depletion of Britain’s fishing feet and the hideous fact that fishermen were forced on pain of law to return to the sea millions of dead fish for which they had no quota.

In 2015 fishermen targeting certain demersal species such as haddock, sole and plaice were told to “land all their catch”. From 01 January 2019, vessels of all gear types will have to land all catches of quota species and count the landings against quota. And: “Non-quota species such as gurnards, lobsters or pipefish can continue to be discarded. Prohibited species will have to be discarded.”

The landed fish – which the fisherman has caught and brought to land at no small effort and cost – can then be used as…landfill.

As for the alternative – and it’s hard to think of a worse one than throwing away tonnes of fish – the BBC notes, a 2016 House of Commons Library paper suggests the UK could allow foreign vessels to fish in its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) – “Outside the EU, an EEZ extends 200 nautical miles (370km) off a country’s coastline, giving the state the authority to exploit and control the fish resources within this zone.”

Over to you, Theresa…

Spotter: Telegraph

 

Posted: 26th, March 2017 | In: Money, Politicians, Reviews | Comment


Europe’s robot sex brothel provides stiff competition for sex workers

The robots are coming! Well, not yet. But one day they will. The Daily Express says flesh and bone prostitutes have forced a mechanical sex parlour in Barcelona to shut. What the paper calls “Europe’s first sex robot brothel” is no longer open for business because women complained that the plug and play sex dolls were ruining their livelihoods.

We hear from Janet, a sex worker in city’s Raval district. “It is another strategy of the patriarchy that presents us as objects without rights or soul,” says Janet. “A privilege of the wealthy classes.”

 

lumidoll sex brothel

Live cam

 

For those of you uncertain if you were shagging an on-the-clock polymer sex doll or an on-the-clock woman, the Express tells its readers who have been on Stag dos, rugby club dinners and business trips to the Spanish city that the the house of ill repute was at 2 Baixada de Sant Miquel “in the Spanish city’s Gothic quarter, north of the cathedral”.

“The rooms are decorated with candles,” the paper noted in a previous story, “a single glass of cava and a bowl of strawberries, with pipped music that is similar to Michael Bolton. The TV also plays pornography.”

Yeah, that one. The one that shows Keeping up with the Kardashians on loop.

Posted: 22nd, March 2017 | In: Money, Reviews | Comment (1)


Unions are good because it’s hard to sack bad workers

There are many way to praise the public sector but in the Guardian you can read about a new one. In a story entitled ‘Do the maths’  Abi Wilkinson praises unions and the work they do securing workers’ rights and improved pay. All good, then. She tells us unions ‘save taxpayers money in the long run’.

‘Research undertaken on behalf of the Trades Union Congress found that, in the public sector, there are 8,000-16,000 fewer dismissals every year thanks to union reps,’ she tells us. Employers prevented from sacking staff they consider inefficient or slack is a good thing and makes sound economic sense. Who knew?

Not stopping there, she adds, ‘Recruiting and training new employees is expensive, and it’s estimated that £27m-£54m of public money is saved by reducing staff turnover.’

How on earth does it help productivity and efficiency if you create an environment wherein its very hard to get rid of failing workers?

Posted: 16th, March 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money | Comment


The F-rating doesn’t give an F-word about movies

The movement towards creating explicit codes of behaviour for every aspect of life – especially the messy bits about sex –  welcomes the Internet Movie Database (IMDb), which is now using the ‘F-rating’ to signal films of a feminist type. This is “so [viewers can choose films that fairly represent women on screen and behind the camera.” It is “applied to all films which are directed by women and/or written by women and/or have significant women on screen.”

That part about ‘significant women’ opens up a few issues, not least of all when it comes to grot movies, especially the girl-on-girl sort. The F-rating might not be the best guide to family entertainment or indeed anything approaching entertainment of any strain. But, then, the F-rating is not about films; it’s about educating the masses and turning people – wonderfully complex humans – into quotas. The official F-rated website explains the vision:

‘The stories we see on screen need to be told by a broad spectrum of people to represent our diverse culture. Without change, we will train the next generation to only recognise white males as the protagonists and the ones in control of the cameras, scripts and budgets. As well as equality on screen and behind the camera, more female film critics from diverse backgrounds and ethnicities need to be welcomed into the industry so that opinion and feedback is balanced.’

It’s certainly not about viewers, many of whom are women. It’s about gender. The thinking is that female film fans go to the cinema not to seek escapism but to reaffirm their identity. You’re not watching them; you’re looking at yourself. But you’ve already got free use of Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook to gawp at idealised filmic versions of yourself, so why spend good money on watching a narcissistic film?

Note 1: If equality is the mantra, then the IMDb could look at itself. According to Wikipedia, the IMDb ‘originated with a Usenet posting by British film fan and computer programmer Col Needham entitled “Those Eyes”, about actresses with beautiful eyes.’ Col is a white male – and since he flogged the site to Amazon, a very rich one.

Note 2: Amazon is owned by Jeff Bezos, a rich white male. Amazon Inc. has 7 ‘Officers’. All are white. One is a woman. Amazon has 11 directors – 9 of whom are male. Should businesses get an F-rating, too – and if so would the IMDb warrant one?

Posted: 15th, March 2017 | In: Film, Money, Reviews | Comment


The North Face’s revenues v profits

More financial illiteracy in the Guardian (natch.), wherein we learn about those anoraks TV reporters love to wear:

It’s a sales pitch that has yielded big profits. The North Face reported annual revenue of $2.3bn last year, with 200 stores around the world.

Profit does not equal revenue. They’re not the same thing. The North Face is a thriving business controlled by the VF Corporation, which also owns brands like Vans, Reef, Timberland and Eastpak. To equate annual revenue with profit – negating all costs – is absurd.

As for which brands are doing best, the company’s report for 2016 tells us clearly:

 

the North Face profit

 

The profit margin across all brands for 2016 was 9.95%.

 

Posted: 7th, March 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Money | Comment


Uber driver are workers not employees and Travis Kalanick should drive

uber row

 

The video of Uber chief executive Travis Kalanick arguing with an Uber driver is all over the media. Kalanick is seen talking with Uber driver Fawzi Kamel. The conversation between the man Forbes estimates to hold a net worth of over £5.1billion and the mini-cab driver runs like this:

TK: Good to see you man, thank you.

FK: Good to see you too. I don’t know if you remember me but it’s fine.

TK: So we are reducing the number of black cars on the system over the next six months.

FK: Yeah it’s good.

TK: Yeah you probably saw it on the email.

FK: I saw the email, it starts in May. It’s all about the rating but you, you’re raising the standard and dropping the prices.

TK: We’re not dropping the price on black cars.

FK: Yeah but in general.

TK: We have to, we have competitors. Otherwise we’d go out of business. 

FK: But you have the business model in your hands, you could have the price as you want but you choose to buy everybody a ride.

TK: No, no, you’re misunderstanding. We started high end. We didn’t go low end because we wanted to, we went low end because we had to.

FK: Why? (Because of) Lyft?

TK: Yeah.

FK: That’s a piece of cake right there.

TK: No, it seems like a piece of cake because I’ve beaten them. But if I didn’t do the things I did, we would have been deep (inaudible).

FK: Why? We could go higher and more expensive.

TK: So here’s the thing. Luxe is in San Francisco so I have guys working on Luxe which will be 15 to 17 percent more expensive than black…

FK: But people aren’t trusting you anymore. Do you think people will buy cars anymore? We’ll buy them through Europe and invoice, nobody wants to buy a car. I lost $97,000 because of you. I’m bankrupt because of you. You keep changing every day.

TK: Hold on a second, what have I changed about black?

FK: You dropped the prices.

TK: On black?

FK: Yes.

TK: Bulls***. Bulls***.

FK: We started with $20. How much is the mile now, 2.75? 

TK: You know what, some people don’t like to take responsibility for their own s***. They blame everything in their life on somebody else. Good luck.

FK: Good luck to you too but I know you’re not going to go far.

Kalanick comes across as a greedy and rude swine.

Newsweek says this is just the latest episode in a company mired by a ‘dysfunctional culture, bad press, a sketchy financial outlook [and] dissatisfied employees’.

Is there a certain delight in hoping the mighty will fall? ‘Every time we take an Uber we’re spreading its social poison,’ says Laurie Penny in the Guardian.

Keep in mind she’s talking about catching a taxi when she writes:

What we’re dealing with here is a new class of bastard: the bro gone pro, the freewheeling post-Randian slimeball whose insecure sense of entitlement is the foundation of his business model… This matters because Uber is more than just a tech firm. It is a social engineering outfit masquerading as a tech firm… Here’s the awful truth: we have entrusted the reorganisation of our social infrastructure to the sort of people who shout at their subordinates and drivers and view women as a collection of parts. We do not owe these people our money or our admiration.

All that from hailing a car. And more!

It remains to be seen whether Uber will be damaged by the activist call for riders to please, for goodness sake, stop using this service. A great many people feel they have no option but to be complicit. Uber grew in the social sludge of American cities with patchy and precarious public transport provision and high unemployment. In areas where there are few late-running trains and taxis are unaffordable, taking an Uber home is the ethical equivalent of the greasy late-night kebab: you know it’s bad for you, but there’s a filthy, guilty pleasure in being able to meet your immediate animal needs. Your gut might make you answer for your midnight takeout, but it won’t kill you.

Using a service like Uber, however, is slow social poison. We are living in a socioeconomic reality whose driving philosophy can be accurately described by a sauced-up frat-boy in the back of a taxi, and we continue to venerate its winners. How much complicity can we tolerate before we get off this dodgy ride?

First world problems never got so important.

Another Guardian writer is conflicted. Sonia Sodha writes: ‘My finger has hovered over the delete button on more than one occasion. So far, I haven’t pressed it.’

And you thought President Trump had issues with that other button.

And then he looks at the fact – and gets them wrong:

The extent to which drivers are satisfied in the here and now is irrelevant to whether they are employees or self-employed in the eyes of the law, and the rights to which that entitles them. In a scathing ruling last year, an employment tribunal ruled that Uber drivers are, in fact, employees, because Uber exerts a degree of control over them – including dictating the price they can charge consumers – that should not exist between a company and its self-employed contractors.

Wrong. They are classed as ‘workers‘. Workers enjoy some of the rights of employees but not all. They also get a degree of flexibility, which many Uber river prefer.

Such are the facts.

Posted: 5th, March 2017 | In: Broadsheets, Key Posts, Money, Reviews | Comment


Fake views: George Osborne on post-Brexit Protectionism

It’s not fake news – it’s just spin. In a story called ‘Project Fear is BACK’, the Mail spots former Chancellor and perpetual Remainer George Osborne warning that the UK leaving the European Union without trade deals would be the ‘biggest act of protectionism’ in British history.

Speaking at the British Chambers of Commerce annual conference in Westminster, Osborne opined:

“Let’s make sure that we go on doing trade with our biggest export market, otherwise withdrawing from the single market will be the biggest single act of protectionism in the history of the United Kingdom and no amount of trade deals with New Zealand are going to replace the trade that we do at the moment with our big European neighbours.”

What utter nonsense. Protectionism is about what you import not what you export.

If tariffs can be rebranded as protectionism, which is bad, why not allow free trade on goods traded with all countries? Mixing politics with trade is fraught with bias and agendas.

By way of an example as to how stupid things can get, the Economist told us:

FORD makes transit vans in Turkey, with passenger seats in the back. When the vans are shipped to America, the brand-new seats are immediately torn out and recycled.

Why? Because 46 years ago, Europe slapped tariffs on American chickens. America retaliated with a tax on European commercial vans.

To get round this, an American firm’s European factory adds passenger seats to its commercial vans so they can be classified as passenger vans, which attract a lower tariff. Then it trashes the seats once the vans are safely landed in Baltimore.

Sometimes the rules that make the least sense last the longest.

Unless you vote out of a trading bloc and trade the world as an open market.

 

Posted: 1st, March 2017 | In: Money, Politicians | Comment


Coffee-housing to win The World Series of Poker

We often hear of a poker face, but what of a poker mouth? Most of today’s tournament players try not to give anything away in the game’s cut and thrust. They sit still, stoic in baseball caps, hoodies and sunglasses. They only speak to state their move. It was very different at the 1973 World Series of poker, where the aim was to rile and unsettle opponents with ‘coffee-housing’, what would now be called ‘banter’. Get a reaction by irritating opponents and watch them go ‘on tilt’. Keep going and look for ‘tells’. These verbals unsettle and misdirect the other players. If used skilfully they can mask the talker’s own ticks and telltale signs.

It’s not civil. It’s not sportsmanlike. But it sure can be effective. Poker is a human game. Communication is not banned. Your noisy bluff can get your opponent to fold – which might be your only chance of winning the pot.

The 2016 WSOP Tournament Rules dealing with table talk are listed below:

113. Table Talk / Disclosure: participants are obligated to protect the other participants in the Tournament at all times. Therefore, whether in a hand or not, participants may not:
a. Disclose contents of live or folded hands.
b. Advise or criticize play at any time.
c. Read a hand that hasn’t been tabled.
d. Discuss strategy with an outside source while involved in a hand.
e. The one-participant-to-a-hand rule mentioned in Rule 111 will be enforced.

Special Exceptions:
1. A participant is allowed to mention the strength or content of his/her hand if no other participant in the hand will have a decision to make.
2. In heads-up events or when down to the last two participants in a Tournament, participants may speak freely regarding the contents of their hands.
3. The Floor Person reserves the right use his/her judgment to determine if one participant intentionally helped another participant. Participants who violate this rule are subject to penalty in accordance with Rules 40, 111, and 112.

116. Etiquette Violations: Repeated etiquette violations will result in the imposition of penalties assessed by the Tournament Staff. Examples include, but are not limited to, unnecessarily touching other participants’ cards or chips, body, or clothing, delay of the game, repeatedly acting out of turn, betting out of reach of the dealer, or excessive chatter. Excessive chatter includes, but is not limited to, talking or conversation that causes a disruption of participants who are in a hand.

The video hereunder of that 1973 series features Walter ‘Puggy’ Pearson ‘making a speech’, telling Bryan ‘Sailor’ Roberts: “I’m not trying to bust you now. I guess you trying to bust me, go ahead.” Roberts goes all in. He’s holding a flush. “Sailor, please have a hand,” says Pearson. “He can’t have one this big.” Pearson then reveals his pocket aces. Will Roberts cave in and fold? No.

The last card is served. Person gets lucky and scores a full house. Roberts’ flush is beaten.

 

Posted: 27th, February 2017 | In: Money | Comment