Money in the news and how you are going to pay and pay and pay
AN interesting little report trying to insist that people who grow rice are more social, more cooperative, than people who grow wheat. Unfortunately, while the phenomenon they describe might well be true they’ve not quite ascribed it to the correct cause. It’s not the crop being grown that makes the difference but the method of growing the crop:
Scientists have long wondered why the U.S. and Europe are so culturally different to China and other countries in Eastern Asia.
Now one study claims the answer lies in an unexpected area: the different farming methods used by people living in the East and West.
While Westerners are known for their individualism and analytical thinking, eastern culture tends to be interdependent and holistic, the study claims.
ONE thing you can always rely on, with the music industry, is that someone is going to sue someone else, trying to stake a claim to a song, or music, they had no part in writing.
And people wonder why the music industry is on its arse.
This time, the High Court in London is hearing arguments in a copyright dispute over 13 songs by Bob Marley. You’ll know Bob Marley because, to 90% of the world, he’s the only human on Earth who ever recorded a reggae record.
ONE of the great problems in this modern world is that people are forever confusing cause and effect. Or if you prefer, forgetting that correlation does not mean causation. And so it is with this latest report that the internet is making our precious little children sad. For what’s forgotten, not even considered here, is that it could well be that sad people, those with few friends in the real world, go on hte internet more than others, instead of it being going online that makes people sad:
Children who spend too much time on the internet are developing mental health problems, according to government health advisors.
Those who sit behind a screen for more than four hours a day are particularly at risk, although very low levels of use can cause issues, they say.
Public Health England, which issues guidelines to the NHS, said children face social problems such as loneliness, depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and heightened aggression as a result of overusing computers.
The huge improvements made in children’s welfare over the last 20 years had now been “curtailed and may now be in reverse”, it said.
In a dossier to MPs it warned of a clear relationship between the amount of time spent on social media sites such as Facebook and “lower levels of well-being”.
ONCE again the scientists have come to our rescue, explaining one of the world’s great mysteries. Why is it that some people en up having more sex with more people than some others? We could posit that good looking people have more offers. Or that intelligent people know how to manipulate people into offering it. Or rich people flash the cash and get offered it. Or, well, come up with your own theory, why not?
As it happens this vital research has been one for us and the answer is that more highly sexed people get more sex:
How intensely a person responds to sexual images can be linked his or her number of sexual partners, according to a new study.
Researchers at the University of California of Los Angeles asked 40 male and 22 female subjects how many sex partners they had last year before they showed them 225 images, both sexual and non-sexual.
The researchers analyzed subjects’ ‘late positive potential, which reacts to images depending on their emotional intensity,’ by using an electroencephalogram (EEG), according to a press release. People with more sex partners reacted in the same way when they looked at ‘graphic and less-graphic’ images.
BACK in April, the New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson told us about the T-for-Times tattoo on her back.
One month later Abramson was sacked. Her offence? She had been moaning about her meagre wages.
As executive editor, Abramson’s starting salary in 2011 was $475,000, compared to Keller’s salary that year, $559,000. Her salary was raised to $503,000, and – only after she protested – was raised again to $525,000.
She learned that her salary as managing editor, $398,000, was less than that of the male managing editor for news operations, John Geddes. She also learned that her salary as Washington bureau chief, from 2000 to 2003, was a hundred thousand dollars less than that of her successor in that position, Phil Taubman.
IT’S a generally accepted bit of health woo that there are good animal fats and bad ones. The nice tasty kind, lard, beef dripping and so on are very bad for you: cause a heart attack as soon as you look at them. There’s also the good ones, like from fish, seal and whale blubber, known as Omega 3 fatty acids. These must be good for you because they taste like crap.
And thus we get thousands of people waxing rich on flogging us fish pills to protect our hearts.
There’s even some sciency bits behind this. For researchers did declare that Inuit (aka Eskimos to us less than PC types) had low levels of heart disease because they ate all that fish and whale blubber.
IT’S quite remarkable how scientists manage to come up with proofs of what everyone over the age of 12 already knows. Time and time again we get press releases telling us that this or that piece of obvious, culturally embedded, good sense is indeed actually true. That they’re proving these things with our tax money does rather grate but perhaps it’s better that these people be kept in the labs rather than being out in the community or anything.
The latest is proof that beer goggles exist:
Finding people more attractive after a few drinks has long been known as the ‘beer goggle’ effect – but experts are divided about whether this phenomenon actually exists.
To put it to the test, researchers from Bristol conducted lab experiments to gauge whether drink changed people’s perceptions of what is attractive.
Volunteers were asked to look at photos of men, women and landscapes before and after drinking – and in every category alcohol affected their perceptions.
SO. Gary Barlow’s been found to have “invested” in a tax avoidance scheme. So therefore there are cries that he should be stripped of his OBE, or hand it back himself. The very idea of which is bloody stupid.
For he’s not actually broken the law as yet. He’ll only do that if he doesn’t stump up the tax which HMRC now thinks is rightfully due.
David Cameron today insisted it is not ‘necessary’ for Gary Barlow to be stripped of his OBE despite a court ruling the Take That star had invested in a massive tax avoidance scheme.
Barlow has been branded ‘unethical’ by one MP and faced a barrage of criticism on social media, but the Prime Minister insisted the singer had ‘done a huge amount for the country’ including raising money for charity.
Much as it pains me to say this Cameron is correct here. Even if not for the right reason.
WE’D like to thank the United Nations for awarding Anorak $950,000. The email from the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s personal Yahoo account was a surprise. We’d not talked before. But he took the chance and wrote to me. And I have accepted:
In regards to the recent meeting between the United Nations and the present USA government to restore the dignity and economy of the nations. Base on the agreement with the World Bank assistance to help in making the world a better place for all with by abolishing poverty.
We have been having meetings since early this year as to find possible means of eradicating poverty with the then secretary to the UNITED NATIONS. this email is to all the people that have been scammed in any part of the world, the UNITED NATION in conjunction with the present US government and world bank have agreed to compensate Scam victims with the sum of USD950,000.00 This includes every foreign contractors that may have not received their contract sum, and people that have had an unfinished transaction or international businesses that failed due to Government problems etc. Our investigation shows that a lot of people are going through stress and poverty as a result of scam, this why we introduced this programmed in conjunction with the World Bank as a means of eradicating poverty.
Your name is among those in our list and that is why we are contacting you, this has been agreed upon and has been signed. You are advised to contact Mr. Godwin Emefiele he is our foreign representative in Africa being responsible for immediate dispatch of your ATM CARD credited with the total sum of USD950,000, contact him immediately for your ATM CARD.
The ATM CARD have being credited and can be used in any ATM machine over there. Therefore, you should send him your full Name and telephone number/your correct mailing address where you want him to send your card.
Contact Mr. Godwin Emefiele for your Card:
Person to Contact
Name Mr. Godwin Emefiele
Hoping to hear from you as soon possible.
Making the world a better place
Ban ki moon
On behalf of the United Nations.
THIS isn’t, perhaps, entirely the wisest public complaint that a restauranteur or hotelier has ever made. The whine is that people are turning up and insisting that they’re very important reviewers on Tripadvisor. Therefore, give me a deal:
Hotels and restaurants are being targeted by ‘blackmailers’ who demand free meals and stays in exchange for not writing bad reviews on TripAdvisor, hospitality chiefs have warned.
The fraudsters are telling staff they will post bad comments on the review site if they don’t get better service, free food or upgrades.
Restaurant, hotel and B&B owners across the UK have reported a huge rise in the number of customers who use TripAdvisor as a threat.
SO. How do you get to marry actress and rubber glove model Helen Mirren? Thankfully, the guessing is over as Mirren told Hello! why she plighted her troth to Taylor Hackford.
“We didn’t get married for 15 years after we met each other… I couldn’t see the point until a financial adviser told me how much money we’d be saving. I was on board immediately.”
Love is… a widow’s pension…
THIS is going to cause an awful lot of shouting around and about the place but it’s also an excellent idea. That the NHS should start charging people when they make a doctor’s appointment. The shouting will come from those who insist that the NHS must be free at the point of use. The excellent part comes from the way in which the NHS should not be free at the point of use.
Here’s the report:
GPs are to hold a vote on charging for appointments.
The idea is to deter patients from missing consultations – a problem that costs £160million a year. The fees – possibly between £10 and £25 – would be the first since the NHS was founded in 1948.
One GP said an entire morning’s work was lost when 14 patients failed to turn up. Others believe the free care offered by the Health Service is unsustainable in the face of an aging and increasingly obese population.
It is feared however that charging would stop patients seeking help or encourage them to go to overstretched casualty units.
The proposal is to be debated at the British Medical Association’s local medical committee conference in York on May 22.
YOU may have noticed in all this talk about whether Pfizer should be allowed to buy AstraZeneca a certain amount of economic nationalism going on. You know, It’s ours, British, don’t let the bastard foreigners have it? That this isn’t in fact true, it’s not British, is obvious, as the Institute of Directors has pointed out:
“It is misleading to present AstraZeneca as some kind of UK national champion. The company is a truly multinational enterprise that was created through the earlier mergers of UK, Swedish and American companies. The majority of its employees are based outside Europe and its shareholders are overwhelmingly foreign institutional investors. It is run by a Frenchman and chaired by a Swede. It is a multinational company active in a global economy.”
A NOT uncommon question: why the hell do we have markets now in the NHS? Given that everything is being paid for by the taxpayer, shouldn’t we have the politicians, those representatives of the taxpayer, organising and running the NHS? Why should we let some private firm come in and skim some profit out of such a vital national resource?
The answer comes from something very few understand. Here’s a complaint about how much money the NHS needs as against how much it is getting:
The insatiable growth of the NHS’s demands for cash have never been more graphically illustrated than under the present government. Though “ringfenced” from the coalition’s spending cuts, the NHS is widely believed to be deteriorating to the point of collapse because it needs an annual budget increase of at least 4% (in real terms) to meet rising expectations. It probably needs more, as cuts in care services put extra burdens on GPs and hospitals.
IN what might not be the very best share tipping column ever the Daily Telegraph is telling us all that we should unload our Twitter shares immediately. This isn’t sensible advice: or rather, it might be but it isn’t for the reasons they’re giving. Which is that the lock in is about to end and thus lots of people might start selling their stock:
Twitter investors should sell shares now as a clause that prevented the majority of shares being sold is about to expire next Monday, May 5. This could cause another sharp fall in the share price as a flood of shares comes to the market from employees looking to bank gains.
When twitter floated last November it offered 70m shares for trading on the US stock markets. However, there are 589.5m shares in existence today but holders of those shares have their hands tied by a “lock-up” clause that prevented them from being sold for 180 days from the November 6.
PUNKS and money have always been a funny thing, mainly because the entire foundation for punk is to not give two hoots about cash. They mean it, maaan. Anti-establishment, lone wolf rock music, that does things on its own terms without caring about what the SUITS think.
Right on! And all that.
Of course, all punks soon get tired of being poor and living grottily, which prompts them to say everything was just one big Art Jape. Look at John Lydon – poster boy for punk, later, advertisements for butter and appearing on reality TV shows in the jungle. Har de har har, all that stuff about being real? It was a joke wasn’t it? And all the reunion tours and reissues of our old records? Yeah, when we said ‘no future’, it was supposed to be funny! This was always likely to end up being our pensions! Hark! We even say ‘we’re only in it for the money!’ and talk about ‘filthy lucre’!
WE all know that the London high end property market is out of control as all those rich bastards from other countries pile in to buy themselves a Mayfair mansion. And we all also know that there’s a terrible shortage of housing in London that normal people can actually afford to live in. Which makes it interesting what the Duke of Westminster is doing: flogging off some of those expensive Mayfair houses to rich foreign sods and then using the cash to build affordable housing that normal Londoners can actually afford to live in:
The property company owned by the Duke of Westminster has sold off £240million of luxury homes in central London amid fears the capital’s house price bubble may be about the burst.
Grosvenor Group said it was cutting its exposure to high-end residential properties after growing concerned that the rate of growth in the London luxury house price market was unsustainable.
IT has to be said that Donald Sterling, the owner of the Clippers basketball team, doesn’t sound like the very brightest of bunnies. He’s a billionaire, self-made, so obviously he has some brains. But if you had fairly racist views would you really go into a business where you’re going to end up paying black men tens of millions of dollars a year? Which is pretty much that the owner of a basketball team in the US NBA does end up doing.
THIS is a story to really take the cake. So, Chavez in Venezuela, decided to start spending the oil money on improving the society. OK, that’s a good idea. But then we come to what he actually started spending the money on. Like a farm with no water. No, really:
Work on William Lara, the rural version of the Steel City, stopped last year after about $120 million was spent on clearing the land and building the first 176 houses.
The construction will resume after the government figures out a way of bringing water to the site 125 miles south of Caracas, Agriculture Minister Yvan Gil said.
“This is a technical problem, that our specialists are working to resolve,” Gil, 41, said in an interview in his Caracas office on April 10. “The project is advancing.”
That’s a pretty big thing to overlook when you’re planning a farm, where the hell’s the water going to come from?
WE’VE all been bombarded with the spam about the herbal Viagras for so long now that none of us actually believe that they work, or are anything other than the most atrocious scam.
On the other hand, now that Viagra’s off patent anyone can make the drug itself: they can’t call it Viagra and you still need a prescription for it though. So, thinking through this problem some bright sparks decided to make a herbal stiffy making drink that really did work. OK, so they put Levitra, not Viagra, into it, but it sure as hell did work:
A herbal energy drink designed to give men a boost in the bedroom has been banned – because it also contained an erectile dysfunction drug.
MosKa is marketed around its natural ‘performance enhancing’ ingredients such as Red and Siberian Ginseng.
But its manufacturer has now discovered the drink also contained ‘an underclared ingredient’ – Vardenafil, or Levitra.
WHO wants to be Nigel Farage’s PA? That’s not euphemism. You won’t have to sleep with him. He’s not a Cabinet Minister.
Granted, his current PA does get to inhale his man-of-the-people’s breath after a night in the Pint & Castella. HE;s his wife – his German-born wife. And he can enter the contest to find her replacement on the website of recruitment firm Xpat Jobs.
HOW was the bedroom tax for you? Did you manage to save for your next egg? Did you keep up with payments? The Housing association Valleys to Coast in Bridgend thanks you for fighting on through the austerity crisis by sending you a letter in the post and the chance to pick up a 60p ‘Creme Egg’.
Locals are welcome to take their own (rotten) eggs round to the Money Matters team and return the favour.
YOU may or may not worry very much about some of the richest workers on the planet getting screwed over by the companies they work for. We tend to worry more about the poor getting so screwed. But Google, Apple, Intel and a number of other big Silicon Valley firms are getting sued by their engineers for the way in which they’ve screwed them over in recent years.
But next month, Google, Apple, Intel and Adobe will be in the dock to face the same opponent.
A group of technology executives is suing the companies for alleged collusion to suppress their wages, after they signed a series of “no-poach” pacts barring them from recruiting each other’s staff.
The companies, whose collective value tops $890bn (£530bn), could be forced to pay handsomely to compensate them for the losses, but they are likely to be far more worried about the details the case will expose.
THE claim is that garden centres lose £5,000 each by being forced to close on Easter Sunday. This is, of course, an intolerable imposition of Christian rules on a country that isn’t in fact very Christian any more.
However, it should be said that their claim doesn’t have quite as much power to it as they seem to think:
Garden centres want rules reviewed which force them to close on Easter Sunday, causing them to lose up to £75m in takings.
The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA) said trading rules, which force shops of more than 3,000 sq ft (280 sq m) to close on Easter Sunday and Christmas Day are old fashioned and should be reviewed, allowing families to enjoy garden centres for longer.
They also said the laws mean garden centres lose out on around £5,500 each by staying shut for the day.
Raoul Curtis-Machin of the HTA told BBC News: “That’s a potential economic boost to the country of up to £75m.”
It’s that economic boost to the country thing there that is wrong. It’s true that if those shops all stayed open and if they all sold £5,000 worth of gear then recorded GDP would change by £75 million. We would have £75 million more GDP recorded in the garden centre sector. However, just because garden centres are open on one extra day7 does not mean that shoppers are going to spend more in garden centres. We would expect at least some of that being spent to move from other days. Easter Monday takings, or Good Friday ones, might well fall as a result of being open on Easter Sunday.
And it’s also true that the total amount of what people spend on everything isn’t going to change as a result of people being able to buy aspidistras on Easter Sunday. What isn’t spent in garden centres will be spent in cafes, fish and chip shops, pubs, whatever.
Being open or not being open on Easter Sunday will really only change that portion of what we’re all going to spend anyway that goes to garden centres: and much of the extra turnover will be the movement of purchases at garden centres from one day to another. There won’t be any change in overall GDP as a result of their being able to open that one extra day.
All of this is nothing to do with whether they should be open on that day, whether we are being religiously sectarian in insisting upon these rules, but the argument they’re putting forward themselves just doesn’t really work.
AS two different people have now noted, Matt Yglesias and Matt Levine, Yahoo is now officially valued at less than nothing. Which, for a company that has a $40 billion price tag on the markets is a pretty strange thing to try and say. But it also happens to be true.
The conundrum is explained by the fact that there are really two different things here. One is the business that makes up Yahoo, the other the company that owns that business. And that company owns not just the business Yahoo but also good sized chunks of two other businesses, Yahoo Japan and Alibaba, a Chinese internet company (not unlike Amazon). If we take the value of Yahoo the company and subtract from it the value of the stake in Alibaba then we get a negative number. Take away the value of that stake in Yahoo Japan and it becomes even larger.