Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay
THIS lassie on STV News being told about the 2.5% rise on train ticket fares…
LOVE this from @Reuters. I don’t *think* they meant it to be interpreted as a Venn diagram
It’s a bit off my having to agree with hte Wee Eck here but it is true all the same that Alex Salmond is correct about a newly independent Scotland being able to continue using the pound sterling.
Alex Salmond has given his clearest indication yet that he would want an independent Scotland to keep the pound, even without a formal currency pact, after stating “we are keeping it, come what may”.
OUR latest little excitement on the political front is that a Labour MP has decided to try to massage the facts about the gender pay gap. You’ll see it all over the papers today, the gender pay gap is 20% or so, that this is appalling and only the Labour party is going to do anything about it. Here’s the Mail as an example:
It will take another 60 years before women earn the same as men at the current pace of change, Labour warned today.
Women still earn just 80p for every pound men take home and the pay gap widened last year.
Shadow women’s minister Gloria De Piero accused the Tories of the ‘turning the clock back’ for female workers by failing to do more to reduce unfairness in the workplace.
Latest figures show that in April 2013, men earned £12.86 per hour and women £10.33, a gap of 19.7 per cent.
It marked an increase on 2012, when the gap was 19.6 per cent, with women paid £10.05 to men’s £12.50.
Since 2010 the pay gap has closed at a rate of only 0.3 per cent per year on average, according to the House of Commons library.
That’s the question that’s asked over in the New York Times, whether Apple deliberately slows down its old iPhones so that people will go out to buy a new model. And the answer is, well, you might think so, but probably not. For it’s true that there’s evidence that everyone complains about how slow their old phones are when a new one comes out: but that’s a function of technology, not active malevolence:
A new study is backing up long held suspicions that Apple slows down older models of its iPhones to encourage users to buy a new release.
The U.S. study analysed worldwide searches for ‘iPhone slow’ and found that the search term spiked significantly around the time of new iPhone launch.
It then compared those results with similar searches for the term ‘Samsung Galaxy slow’, and discovered the term was unaffected by new releases from Samsung.
A report newly in telling us just quite how bad the screechings of Justin Bieber are. So bad that they actually scare away the wild animals. so bad that they’ve just saved a Russian hunter from the maulings of an angry bear:
Igor Vorozhbitsyn had his life saved by a Justin Bieber ringtone, when his mobile phone went off during a potentially fatal attack by a brown bear.
The 42-year-old was pounced on as he was walking to a favourite fishing spot in northern Russia’s Yakutia Republic and firmly believed that he was going to be killed.
But as the bear began to claw at him, Igor’s mobile went off. The singer’s hit Baby rang out and the bear turned tail and fled back into the forest.
So now you know what to do. If you’re out in the wilds and a pack of ferocious animals are trying to eat you then start singing Bieber. Assuming you know any of his songs that is. Should work with wild boar in the Forest of Dean, wild bears in Yakutia and lions in Africa, no doubt about it.
Which leaves us with just one important question. What the hell was a mighty Siberian hunter doing with a Justin Bieber ringtone in the first place? Doesn’t, as with Bieber’s singing itself, sound quite right, does it?
And no, it’s not just because of what Barbie said, “Math is hard”. We really are seeing evidence in empirical (that is, when people go out and study the real world rather than just theorising in ivory towers) studies that men are, on average, better at maths than women on average. But do not that this is about averages: plenty of women are better than most to nearly all men at maths. This tells us nothing about any one individual however true it might be of the population:
Men’s and women’s brains really are different.
Researchers say that if both sexes had access to the same levels of education, they’d expect women to do best on tests of memory – and men to excel at maths.
The prediction comes after an analysis of how the sexes’ abilities varied across Europe across time.
More than 31,000 men and women aged 50-plus from 13 countries were put through three tests of brainpower.
They did all the things you should do, controlling for education levels for example (this being very important as it wasn’t all that many decades ago that women in southern Europe were educated to a very different standard than men. Where I live in rural Portugal it’s not unusual to find women in their 60s or 70s who are profoundly, completely, illiterate and innumerate).
And they found that in verbal ability it all looked about the same, in maths men were better and in memory women were. All of which solves one great confusion of modern life, why can women remember anniversaries and birthdays and men not? But which leaves us with another: why can men not calculate these things with their better maths?
Google’s UK accounts have been filed and thus, as sure as eggs is eggs, we’ve got the Waily Mail chuntering on about how appalling it is that the company is dodging all of this tax. Except the truth is that Google simply isn’t dodging, not avoiding and most certainly not evading, tax in the UK. It’s doing exactly what the law in general says it may do, what European law actually encourages it to do:
Google is facing fresh outrage over its meagre contribution to the UK taxman, after revealing it paid just £20million in corporation tax last year.
The California-based internet giant has faced stinging criticism for using a complex corporate structure that allows it to route UK sales through Ireland to slash its tax bill.
And the scheme appears to have again paid off.
Last night it revealed in accounts filed to Companies House that it paid £20.4million in taxes last year – despite admitting earlier this year that it pulls in £3.3billion of revenues in Britain, largely from advertising.
But in accounts filed last night Google UK said it made a profit of £70.8million before tax on sales of £642million.
But it doesn’t “route” those sales through Ireland: it actually makes those sales from Ireland. Which is exactly what this whole Single Market malarkey is all about. The EU wants corporations to treat the EU as that one single market: this means that they are not just allowed but encouraged to sell to all 29 countries from one single base in just one of them. Which is exactly what Google does. And as to whether this is tax avoidance, here is our own dear HMRC on the subject:
Non-resident trading companies which do not have a branch in the UK, but have UK customers, will therefore pay tax on the profits arising from those customers in the country where the company is resident, according to the tax law in that country. The profits will not be taxed in the UK. This is not tax avoidance: it is simply the way that corporation tax works.
Most major economies operate corporation tax in the same way as the UK, so UK-resident companies are treated in a similar way in other countries. In other words, UK companies do not pay corporation tax to another country on the profits from sales in that country, unless they trade through a branch based there. Instead, they pay corporation tax in the UK.
Note that: the bleedin’ taxman says it isn’t tax avoidance. So, therefore, it ain’t tax avoidance, is it?
THESE might well be the sexual preferences of many of us, not just politicians. It’s just that we tend not to expect a politician to say so quite so publicly. But fair dinkum to the Ozzies, they have managed to elect one who actually tells it like it is:
Jacqui Lambie, an Australian MP who shares the balance of power in the upper house, has apologised after declaring in a radio interview that she is looking for a partner who is “well-hung” and loaded with cash.
“They don’t even need to speak,” said Ms Lambie, a 43-year-old single mother of two.
The late and dearly beloved (to those of a certain age that is) Bernard Levin once wrote an entire column in The Times in praise of the Advertising Standards Authority’s existence. I do not have the great man’s eloquence but I would like to repeat that praise as a result of this decision over whether pyramid teabags are actually better than round ones. For it does make exactly the same point that he noted about the earlier adjudication over whose crisps were the crunchiest:
It is a debate that splits tea lovers – which tea bag makes the better cuppa. But now the Advertising Standard’s Authority has ruled that pyramid shaped bags are more effective than the more traditional flat, round tea bags when making a brew. The advertising watchdog has said that PG Tips has successfully shown the infusion of tea leaves in its pyramid shaped bags was more efficient than in round tea bag as used by rivals Tetley. It made the ruling after Tata Global Beverages, the makers of Tetley, complained to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) about a PG Tips TV advert starring Johnny Vegas and his sock puppet monkey. Tetley said the ad, which showed the difference in ‘brewing power’ between a pyramid and a round tea bag, was exaggerated and misleading to viewers.
How Glorious for out Happy little isle, that we have a department, an organisation, who can devote the time to deciding on these important matters. This must mean that we’ve solved all of the important problems, yes? We’ve dealt with housing for the poor, clothing for the naked, food for the starving, so that we can devote those precious scarce resources of society to deciding which shape of teabag infuses more quickly (do note, this decision is a matter of law now) or which crisp is crispier?
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IT’S a common enough idea, that you need to practice at something for 10,000 hours to actually be any good at it. And that might well be true, too. However, the idea does sometimes (ie, in almost all of he UK education system) get mixed up with the idea that if you do 10,000 hours practice then you will be good at something. And that just ain’t true.
…AND she’s not even got to the practical part yet, where what she’s been told is 6 inches causes problems. This is really quite amazing, this lady has managed to fail the driving theory test 110 times:
YOU may have heard about the slow legalisation of cannabis in certain US states. First came medical marijuana, treatments for things like the nausea produced by chemotherapy, to reduce certain eye conditions and so on. Sadly, just desiring to get a buzz isn’t worthy of such medical treatment.
Then, in the face of deep opposition from the Feds, came a couple of States (Colorado and Washington) that have simply legal cannabis for all on sale.
Of course, someone was always going to go further and wouldn’t you know it that it’s the ultimate liberal gulag, Berkeley in California, that has done it. Now there’s free pot for the poor:
Dispensaries will have to give away free cannabis to very low-income folks, per the new regulations. The amount of free cannabis must equal 2 percent of a dispensary’s gross weight sold. The council specified Tuesday evening that first in line for the free pot would be Berkeley residents and collective members.
Another in our series on sex research and wondering how in buggery we can get to join the research teams. For yes, there’s more of that research that we’d very much like to take part in.
The researchers were interested in studying nymphomania: or in more modern parlance, hypersexuality. How many women have, or try to have, enough sex that it actually impacts on other areas of their life. And the researchers don’t mean how many women have a dreamy smile a couple of times a week. As they say:
They called for more research into the issue – and recommended those who suffer to get therapy.
What we’d like to know here at Anorak Towers, is how do we sign up for doing more of that research: or, if that’s not possible, how do we become therapists for this condition? Assuming, as we do, that the therapy is providing what the women desire?
Biggest ever study of hypersexual women found they tended to be bisexual
Do we just monitor hot girl on girl action or are we supposed, as therapists, to take part?
But as ever the Mail manages to slightly get the wrong end of the stick:
German researchers found problems may be linked to high rates of masturbation and pornography use.
Err, no, that’s rather more of a symptom than a problem really.
THIS rather proves Steve Jobs’ point that “those jobs are never coming back”. For Apple’s iPhone 6 is to be assembled by robots rather than by hand as has been done with all previous generations of iPhone.
iPhone maker Foxconn has revealed Apple’s new iPhone 6 could be the first to be made using its ‘robot army’.
The firm has pledged to have a million robot workers by the end of the year – and CEO Terry Gou has revealed the robots, dubbed ‘Foxbots’, are in the final stages of testing.
It is believed Foxconn will install 10,000 robots as a test.
Jobs made the comment originally to President Obama. He was asking, well, all those jobs that are now in China, all those manufacturing jobs, when are they going to come back to America? The answer being “those jobs are never coming back”.
THE Mail brings us the glorious news that beer is actually good for us:
Mine’s a pint: Full of vitamins, high in fibre, low on sugar and good for your hair – the benefits of beer
Beer is being hailed for its health benefits and vitamin levels
Research suggests drinking beer might help prevent Alzheimer’s
Hops have ‘aphrodisiac-like qualities’ and could balance hormones
Contains minerals including phosphorus, iodine, magnesium and potassium
Well, yes, aphrodisiac qualities: who has not suffered from beer goggles at one time or another? But those health effects are quite true and some of us have the bellies to prove that we’ve known this for decades.
WHY are British homes the smallest in Europe? Because we’re the only country in Europe stupid enough to insist that they must be small.
This really isn’t a surprising finding from Cambridge University:
British families are living in some of the most cramped conditions in Europe with more than half of homes falling short of minimum modern space standards, new research has found.
The study found the UK has the smallest homes by floor space area of any European country with the average new build property covered just 76sq m compared with almost double that amount of 137sq m in Denmark.
The reason for this is that the government of the country has been taken over by morons. They’re in the grip of a delusion that we’re short of land to put houses on these days. When in fact only 3% of England is actually houses: we could therefore build another 33%, or make all housing 33% larger, just by using 1% of the country.
We just don’t have a land shortage. Heck, in Surrey, there’s more land under golf courses than there is land under houses. And quite a lot of people would like to live in Surrey too.
It’s actually so bad, this delusion, that if you do get planning permission to build on a bit of land then you’ve got to crowd them in. 14 houses to a hectare is the minimum that anyone will ever let you get away with. All of which is very different indeed from the old demand that any and every house (from post WWI, “Homes for Heroes” and all that) must have at least a quarter acre garden (you can only get 8 of those to a hectare, including some room for the houses themselves) so that people can grow their own veg.
The reason that new British houses are titchy is because the law currently insists that they must be titchy. It’s crazed lunacy. And it’s a problem that we can solve really easily. Loosen up the planning permission system and two things will happen. First, building land will become cheaper meaning that houses don’t need to be squeezed in. Second, that the law won’t insist that houses have to be crammed in.
This is all, absolutely, the fault of the law, nothing else. Except, perhaps, the cretins who make that law.
HALF the time we’re told that the entire country is becoming obese, waddling around with dripping rolls of fat hanging from our frames, the other half the time we’re being screamed at for our unhealthy obsession with being thin. And in that latter conversation we’re also always being told that being thin is very unusual and women of the past were never like that. I mean, look at Marilyn Monroe! Hips and tits on ‘er and she was even an actress!
Today it’s Hannah Betts in the Torygraph whining about it:
Chillingly, a US size 000 measures up to a UK size 0, five sizes smaller than a UK size 10, itself on the smallish side in a culture in which the average British woman is a size 16, and the public’s ideal physique a size 12 (according to YouGov). A US size zero measures 25 inches around the waist; a triple zero, a meagre 23 inches.
It can be difficult to visualise the bodies behind such unvital statistics. My eight-year-old nephew, so lean that he can fit into his baby pyjamas, has a waist of 23.5 inches; his lithe nine-year-old sister, measures 24 inches. The girths of these adult women are smaller, despite their being significantly taller, in a way that seems hardly possible. The average triple zero poster girl stands at 5ft 7in. To be so narrow-framed at this scale is to be emaciated.
A petite therapist friend puts matters into perspective. “I am the smallest person in the world and my childlike waist is about 28 inches,” she says. “I have bought UK size 6 clothes from Topshop’s petite range, which is horrifyingly too small, making me wonder if they require ribs to be removed, or whether it is actual children who wear them. I am truly shocked.”
THIS really is a turn up for the books. A union funded and financed think tank has decided to reveal to the world that the cure for all that ails us is that unions should have more industrial and political power. Just allow the shades of the recently departed Bob Crow to have their way and everything would be peachy.
No, really, I’m not joking either:
This paper argues that we must now recreate a movement with the political and social influence that enabled the former labour movement to achieve the major reductions in inequality during the middle decades of the 20th Century. A fairer and more sustainable future is possible.
IT’S taken its time but the basic problem with the UK housing market seems to be seeping into even Labour Party minds. That problem being that there’s not enough housing so it’s too bloody expansive. We should therefore try to build more. As the Labour Party’s head of their investigation into the housing market says:
Sir Michael Lyons told the Guardian he had identified protracted delays in the release of land as the single biggest cause of Britain’s housing crisis.
This is all really very simple. There’s no shortage of land in the UK. Only about 3% of it is houses at the moment: in some counties we have more than that in use as golf courses than we do houses.
DESPITE what The Guardian would love to be able to tell us it simply isn’t true that poverty has doubled in the past 30 years. Inequality has increased, that’s true, but poverty and inequality are not the same thing:
Poverty hits twice as many British households as 30 years ago
The UK economy has doubled in size since the early 1980s – yet the number of those suffering below-minimum living standards has grown by more than twice, a study claims
That’s what the paper would like us to believe. But it hasn’t actually happened that way.
STING, as we know, is an incredibly smug man. Not surprising really, given that he’s got shedloads of money, a talented and “occasional aviation-fuel” using wife and everyone thinks he’s really good at the sex. It’d be nigh-on impossible not to think highly of yourself if you take all that into consideration.
However, his kids might not think much of him as he’s showing them the meaning of money and achievement by cutting them out of his will.
Sting’s sat on £180m and he doesn’t want his children to have it.
THERE’S another report out detailing what’s wrong with the current system of inheritance tax in the UK. And this report gets right to the heart of what’s actually wrong with this current system. Which is that the rich bastards don’t actually pay it while anyone who owns a house in London does. It’s not actually a tax upon the rich: it’s a tax upon the middle class:
People with estates worth many millions are able to avoid the brunt of inheritance tax through complex schemes, including moving the cash offshore or investing in agricultural land and small business shares. Those avenues are closed to “moderately well–off” people whose only assets are their home and pension, Mr Johnson said.
Oh yes, everyone thinks that if you have a lot of dosh when you pop your clogs then the State gets 40% of it5. But that’s not actually how it works. Farmland for example: no inheritance tax upon that. So multi-millionaires make sure they buy a large farm or two which the kiddies then get tax free: and, of course, sell after a year or two and make off with their bundle. Small company shares also do not pay inheritance tax. So owning a company worth a few millions pays no tax. There’s endless other ones like this. If you’re rich enough to hand over the estate 7 years before you die then there’s no tax to pay either. And those are all entirely legal. Without even mentioning the idea of buggering off abroad so that the British taxman can be told to go take a hike.
THE Dispatches team over at Channel 4 has uncovered shocking evidence of the way that Perrier is woefully overpriced, actually being more expensive than honest to goodness beer and cider. Clearly the Frenchies are simply ripping us all off:
An investigation by Channel 4’s Dispatches found three supermarket chains selling lager cheaper than sparkling Perrier water.
Tesco sold multipacks of Fosters, Carlsberg and Carling lager at 69p a pint and Strongbow cider for 65p a pint. This compared with Perrier mineral water costing 73p a pint.
In Asda, the same beers could be bought for 72p a pint, compared with 76p a pint for Perrier.
And at Sainsbury’s, 20 cans of Fosters lager was 72p a pint while 15 cans of Strongbow cost £8, equating to 69p a pint, 7p less than a pint of sparkling water.
Alternatively of course the Dispatches team are simply being dipsticks. Perrier is a luxury good: a Veblen Good even. It is in fact just water with bubbles put into it: it’s not naturally bubbly at all. And they deliberately make it and advertise it as being expensive. The point being that no one actually likes the stuff it’s just there to be expensive. So that when you buy it people can see that you’re the sort of person who buys expensive bottled water. That’s how it differentiates itself from the supermarket bottled water which is 19p for two litres in the same aisle.
YOU’LL recall that Wonga just got into very hot water over sending threatening letters to people who had not repaid their loans. The problem was that they made the letters look like they came from solicitors of debt collectors: but they were in fact just run off on the company’s own printers using a few names cobbled together.