Money | Anorak - Part 12

Money Category

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

Yes That’s The Joke: a brilliant tumblr for Twitter people who miss the punchline

Tumblr of the Day is YesThat’sTheJoke, a site featuring pedants and other people who missed the joke…


Like this exchange featuring @MrnickHarvey:






And @hrtbps:


Screen shot 2015-04-28 at 20.24.16



And @animladrumss:

Screen shot 2015-04-28 at 20.25.24







And our pick of the bunch from @bechillcomedian:


Screen shot 2015-04-28 at 20.29.08




More here

Posted: 28th, April 2015 | In: Money | Comment

Max-Hervé George might be the world’s richest man if Aviva acknowledges his existence

herve aviva


“Dear god almighty, you’ve got to read this,” writes Tim Worstall.

He links to a story on the FT about Max-Hervé George, 25, who has taken on insurance company Aviva France.

Dan McCrum says it is “the worst contract in the world”, a peculair thing first reported in the French magazine Challenges:

The company was L’Abeille Vie. In 1987 it began to offer a special deal to its richer clients, a Fixed Price Arbitrage Life Insurance Contract… prices for the funds were published each Friday, and clients were allowed to switch funds at those prices anytime before the next price was published, even if markets moved in the meantime.

As Kottke says, it’s “like Grays Sports Almanac from Back to the Future II, only for financial markets.

He’s rich. Very rich.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: 28th, February 2015 | In: Money | Comment

London job seeker makes a bad first impression on the Tube

Is it advisable to make a bad first impression and then set about undoing it? We ask in light of the story of the man on the London Underground. Last Mondy, a passenger as blocking his way. Our hero did as the mild-mannered Englishman must: he shoved the blocker out the way and told him to eff-off.

He then continued on his journey for an interview as Python Developer at Forward Partners.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: 20th, February 2015 | In: Money, Strange But True | Comment

Davos: G21 tribal elder Bill Clinton’s $60,000 platinum Rolex points towards wealth redistribution

How’s life treating the great and good in Davos? Last time a mountain people were on the news, it was the Yazidis up Sinjar “mountain of death”. Is the G21 Tribe fairing any better?

Kevin Williamson writes:

“The stories add up: Jeff Greene brings multiple nannies on his private jet to Davos, and the rest of the guys gathered to talk past each other about the plight of the working man scarf down couture hot-dogs that cost forty bucks. Bill Clinton makes the case for wealth-redistribution while sporting a $60,000 platinum Rolex.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: 25th, January 2015 | In: Money | Comment

World Economic Forum Watch: 10 messages from Davos to make the 99% puke

The great and good are meeting in Davos. It’s the World Economic Forum, dummy, the rich and powerful’s AGM. It’s here they elect what free gifts banks can give customers, who Prince Andrew shags and if attacking Mars is worth it.

We’ve had look at some of the tweets and news emerging from on high.

Grab a bucket. It’s a puke-arama!


Screen shot 2015-01-23 at 22.02.38


Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: 23rd, January 2015 | In: Money, Reviews | Comments (2)

New Hampshire lottery introduces bacon-scented scatch cards

new hampshire


Can bacon be associated with failure? Can the smell of bacon be link with wasting your money on games of chance?  The New Hampshire Lottery has launched its first scratch-and-sniff scratch ticket.  “I Heart Bacon Scratch Ticket” costs $1. The big prize is $1,000.

You scratch the ticket and relase the heady scent of bacon.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: 21st, January 2015 | In: Money | Comment

Job advert of the day: The Government needs a URL typist

Job ad of the day:

Screen shot 2015-01-06 at 10.17.03

Spotter: @scottreid1980

Posted: 6th, January 2015 | In: Money | Comment

Strange happenings on holiday

Partner post:

Strange happenings on holiday:

The fun of travel is in finding new and exciting cultures, trying novel foods, and generally expanding your horizons—literally and figuratively. But how would you feel if one of these happened to you while you were on holiday? Strange things can occur anywhere, but we think these take the cake!

Coming across a chalk outline

This icon of criminality is probably not your favourite thing to encounter while trying to relax… but unfortunately, if you visit the University of Dundee, you may well come across one.


Finding a goat…

Specifically, one dressed like Abraham Lincoln. We don’t totally understand how it happened—though since it apparently involved a stag party, maybe we shouldn’t be so surprised.


…or a top hat.

Speaking of leaving valuable things in odd places, how about we all start trying to keep track of our top hats? Or, for that matter, our stuffed mice and refrigerators, all of which have at some point been left on an airplane for the cleaning crew to dispose of.


Duck parade, anyone?


The Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, prides itself on a twice-daily duck parade that, according to the hotel’s website, was the brainchild of two friends who went on a hunting trip to nearby Arkansas. The website claims: “The men had a little too much Jack Daniel’s Tennessee sippin’ whiskey, and thought it would be funny to place some of their live duck decoys in the beautiful Peabody fountain. In 1940, Bellman Edward Pembroke, a former circus animal trainer, offered to help with delivering the ducks to the fountain each day and taught them the now-famous Peabody Duck March.”


Oh, by the way… DUCK!

If you happen to be in South Africa for New Year’s, you may want to watch your head… apparently it’s a tradition to drop old appliances out the window in Johannesburg. Talk about out with the old, and in with the new flat-screen!


Hang out in a sewer pipe

Linz, Austria is home to the Das Park Hotel, where you can spend the night in your very own, state-of-the-art, super-luxurious sewer pipe. Actually, we have no idea how these could be comfortable, but at least they’re affordable!


We appreciate our taxi drivers, we really do

We just don’t always appreciate how mind-bendingly awkward they can make a journey. For example, this guy, who apparently wants J.Lo to take him “away from this life.”

Or this driver, who apparently has a thing for TLC. Though then again, who doesn’t?


A pilot who seems less than confident

You probably don’t want this announcement on your next trip: “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome aboard this British Airways flight to Denver. If your travel plans do not include visiting Denver, then now would be the perfect time to make yourself known to a member of the cabin crew.”


Got any strange occurrences from your last holiday? We’d love to hear about them!

Posted: 23rd, December 2014 | In: Money | Comment

The Guardian ask readers how they survive without a cleaner

The Guardian is not beyond parody yet. The story is headlined:

After a pay cut we had to sack our cleaner. Now nothing is being cleaned! How do other couples manage to get the work done?

Was the sacked clearned married?

A pay cut means we have had to sack our cleaner to save the £25 a week she cost, but, a month on, nothing’s being cleaned and the house is starting to resemble a squat. We set aside two hours on a Saturday morning but it’s not happening.

Readers are invited to respond.


Posted: 14th, December 2014 | In: Money | Comment

So. I found a secret capsule full of treasure in a Tennessee wardrobe

You ever find treasure? Real treasure? One Reddit user went to his grandpa’s home in Tenneessee and found a haul. Evilenglish writes: “I always dreamed of finding something like this.” You and use all. 

The adventure began on April 22 2013:

“Found a secret safe under the stairs while cleaning my Grandparents house!:

My dad passed away a few years ago and he inherited an old farmhouse in middle Tennessee from my Grandparents. The house was a home for my Grandparents for 20 some odd years. They bought this house in the late 70’s/early 80’s to escape the oppressive summer heat of the South.



My Grandfather was an avid sportsman and enjoyed collecting various firearms. My Grandmother was a collector of coins and other antiques and curiosities. My Grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1998, but I think the last time they had traveled to the Tennessee house was around 1997. After my Grandfather passed away, neither my Grandmother nor Father returned to the house. My Father passed in 2009 and we’ve been working to close out his estate and traveled to the farmhouse to prepare it for sale.

Lots and lots of work to do here as it is an old house. I was working in a closet below the stair case, and saw that the rug was pretty disgusting.


The wardrobe:

capsule 1


He pulled iup the carpet:


capsule 2


I started pulling up the rug and noticed a block of concrete. This was very out of place since all of the downstairs flooring is hardwood.

I pushed the carpet back further and saw a round cap with a circle indentation on it.


capsule 3


“I pulled off the cap and… a secret safe!”


capsule 4


I gave the handle a tug, but it wouldn’t budge. If you twist the handle it will still spin.

I called several locksmiths in TN, but it is impossible to get someone to come out on a Sunday up there (the whole city shuts down about noon on Saturday). Couple that with a 20 mile drive back to town to get cell service. Will try to head back up on a Friday and deliver.

The history:

I spoke with my Mom, and she said that my grandparents had a safe in Florida and the combination was my Dad’s birth date. She also recommended trying his SSN as a back up to that.


I called Major Safe Co., now known as American Security and confirmed the unlock sequence. Left 4x then #, Right 3x then #, Left 2x then #, Turn back to the Right until it stops. Also trying to work it see if I can switch off days and drive back up to the farmhouse tomorrow (Tuesday, 4/23).

But no joy:



The locksmith arrives:


capsule 5


And on April 30th, 2013…

Here is our locksmith scoping out the safe. He said about 30 mins into this that if he had known what he was getting into, he would have referred the job to someone else. It looked like a complete pain in the ass to open this up. He had to keep his weight above the drill and the workspace was very uncomfortable.

capsule 4


capsule 7


It looks so different with the flash on. I looked down in there and it looked like there were several stacks of bricks. I also noticed a LOT of moisture inside the safe. I remember that there was a pipe leak in the house a few years back. I’m sure some of the water from that had accumulated in the safe. Very dark…. Where are my gloves again?

The door opens:


capsule 8




This one looks like a book of coins from a particular year. There were so many like this down there. The moisture in the safe makes the covers very mushy, but the coins inside are in surprisingly good shape!

10 11 12


Lots and lots of coin boxes! I knew my Grandmother collected coins, but I thought we had found all of them!


16 17





Silver bars found…


In a rusty tool box in the bottom of the safe, jewellery is uncovered.

19 20 21


Readers help out:

“Just so you know anything from 1964 or older is 90% silver worth about 20 time face value of the coin. $0.50 = $10, $0.25 = $5, $0.10 = $2.00. I also believe 1965-1971 coins of those denominations are 40% Silver and still worth more than face value as well. That’s a pretty good score even if half of those pre-date 1965 and not to mention those silver bars!! They’re worth about $22.10 per ounce. 16 ounces in a pound = $353 and those are most likely Kilos which are 2.2 pounds and worth $778″.

Evilengish adds:

I should also say that early last year my brother in law and I was moving some of the furniture. He went to move one of the coffee tables and when he went to pick it up, the table top came off of the base. Underneath the table top of the coffee table was a hidden, standalone safe. It was pretty heavy, but we were able to load it in the truck. He took it to work and was able to cut it open. Inside of it were several pistols (.22s, a 357, and a few others) there were also about 300 single one dollar bills. We found out that there were “Barr Notes” and supposedly rare because that particular Secretary of the Treasury died like 29 days in office.

Get digging. Anf never fall out with older relatives…

The Reddit user promises to post more pictures once he cleans the items up. Stay tuned!


Posted: 14th, December 2014 | In: Money, Strange But True | Comment (1)

Don’t Worry About ISIS’ Dirty Bomb. It’s Nothing Serious

ISIS, IS, Islamic State, whatever they’re calling themselves this week, claim to have enough uranium to make a dirty bomb. Which they probably do: but it would be a pretty useless dirty bomb if truth be told. They’re simply not got enough material of any sort of power or problem for a bomb to make any difference to anything.

Islamic State fanatics claim to have constructed a dirty bomb after stealing 40kg of uranium from an Iraqi university.

Militants boasted of the device on social media, with one even commenting on the destruction such a bomb would wreak in London, four months after the chemical was reported missing from Mosul University.

Among extremists making online threats to the West is British explosives expert Hamayun Tariq, who fled his home in Dudley, West Midlands, for the Middle East in 2012.

Yeah, well
, that uranium is not the sort of stuff you make a nuclear bomb out of. Which is why they’re talking about a dirty bomb of course. But it’s not going to be much use as a dirty bomb either. There’s just not that much radioactivity there. The stuff they’ve got is actually the stuff that was used all over Europe as a tile and pottery glaze before WWII. And no, the bathroom tiles in your old house are not going to kill you and nor would a dirty bomb with this amount of this type of uranium do any harm (after the actual explosion itself of course).

Quite seriously, if they set this off in Oxford Street then after the area had been washed down (or it had rained perhaps) you’d not be able to tell that it had gone off. There’s more uranium in the tarmac on the street than there is in this supposed bomb.

Posted: 1st, December 2014 | In: Money | Comment

Black Friday: The Asda Cheerleaders Fight To The Death Over Underwear At Victoria’s Secret

It’s Black Friday, the day when shops seduce shoppers with bargains.

Two faces of the show:

1. Cheerleaders at the Asda store in Wembley, north west London during Black Friday.





2. Victoria’s Secret, Liverpool.

The morgue:

Screen shot 2014-11-28 at 12.55.12

Screen shot 2014-11-28 at 12.56.14

Posted: 28th, November 2014 | In: Money, Reviews, The Consumer | Comment

Ladies: If You’ve Got Big Boobs Then You’re A High Spender

It’s quite amazing the things the Daily Mail is able to tell us about sex, society and that all important feminism stuff. And here’s a case in point. According to information gathered from Alibaba, the Chinese tat emporium similar to Amazon and or eBay (depending upon which division of it you want to talk about) the bigger a woman’s tits are the more likely she is to be a spendthrift.

No, really:

It’s not the size of your purse that reveals your shopping habits, but the size of your bra, according to new research.

Ladies with a cup size of B or smaller tend to save their pennies, while more well-endowed women are more likely to splurge on luxury items, claims e-commerce group Alibaba.

The Chinese group compared underwear sales on their site to the total amount spent and placed customers into five categories: low, slightly low, middle, slightly high, and high.

The data revealed only seven per cent of B-sized women buy in either of the ‘high spending’ categories.

Around 17 per cent of C-sized are high spenders, D-sized women are at 24 per cent, and E-sized women are at 33 per cent.

The reason offered for this was that the younger and more slender women are more likely to have lower incomes than their older sisters. Which sounds sorta reasonable but not really reasonable enough.

Other explanations do come to mine: for example, a Chinese lady who tops out at an EE is rather more likely to be willing to pay a bit more money to corral those monsters than a bird with an A cup or two who can bother or not bother with a bra as she sees fit. And they were comparing spending upon bras with bra sizes.

Delving a bit deeper into human motivation we can think of other explanations too. For example, it could be that those with more money have already gone out and bought themselves a larger chest. It’s not exactly unknown for this to happen in our modern world.

And there’s been a wag or two pointing out that larger boobed ladies are likely to have access to the wallets of richer men to buy their lingerie with too.

Quite exactly what is the driving factor here is unknown: so we’ll end with that ritual call that more research is needed. Volunteers form a cue to the right please.

Posted: 22nd, November 2014 | In: Money | Comment

Academics Say: Poor People On Fuel Lead To Road Deaths

How can roads be made safer? Well, you could do what they’ve done in London and charge a high fee for cars to enter the ‘nondom zone’ and make parking very expensive. Less cars. And more chance of being hit by an insured driver with an executive motor.  Win. Win.

In Australia, academics have picked up the idea:

More than 200 lives could be saved on Australian roads a year if fuel prices were increased to the same level as prices in Britain, a study by an Australian National University academic suggests.

Dr Paul Burke and his co-author, visiting Japanese academic Dr Shuhei Nishitateno, compared road deaths and petrol prices from 144 countries between 1991 and 2010.

They found that eliminating fuel subsidies around the world would mean 35,000 fewer deaths a year among drivers, passengers, cyclists and pedestrians – 3 per cent of the global death toll.

Higher fuel prices meant fewer vehicles on the road, shorter distances travelled and lower-speed driving to save fuel. Lower prices also had a disproportionate effect on high-risk drivers – the young and old, who were especially sensitive to prices, according to the study.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: 21st, November 2014 | In: Money | Comment

Yvette Cooper Wants To Tax Brits Going Abroad

Worse than that, worse than trying to tax Brits who want to jet off for a bit of sunshine, Yvette Cooper is also proposing that that tax money should go to foreign governments. This is not, you might think, really all that sensible a thing to be proposing.

What’s she’s suggesting is that foreign types who desire to come to the UK to enjoy our lovely weather should have to pay 10 quid for the privilege of not having to pay 100 pounds for a visa to come here. That income can then be used to hire more immigration officers.

Labour will seek to beef up its pitch to voters on immigration with a pledge to pay for 1,000 extra border guards by imposing a charge on visitors from the US and 55 other countries.

Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary, will criticise other parties for engaging in an “arms race of rhetoric” on the issue, which has been thrust to the centre of political debate by the rise of Ukip.

But she will accept that the opposition “needs to talk more” about public concerns and will say action to restore public confidence that illegal entrants are being caught and dealt with is “vital for a progressive approach”.

Under the proposals, nationals in countries enjoying a “visa waiver” system of fast-track permission to enter the UK will be hit with a charge of around £10 per visit, which the party said would more than cover the £45m cost of the additional staff.

Well, yes, except that there’s a problem here. Which is that all visa systems work on the following basis. Whatever you do to our citizens then we will do that to your citizens. So, if we start charging Johnny Foreigner to come to Blighty then Johnny Foreigner will start charging us to go in foreign. And it’ll be the same amount too.

And here’s the thing. We’re pretty certain that more Brits go out of our country than Johnny Foreigners come in. So, we Brits will then be paying more money to foreign governments in visa waiver fees that HM Treasury will be collecting in them.

This isn’t a great way to raise money in tax really, making sure that foreign governments get more than the British one does.

Just not thought through this proposal, just not thought through.

Posted: 19th, November 2014 | In: Money | Comment

Someone, Somewhere, Is Wrong about Prostitution, Clients And The Numbers

We’re often told that there’s some 60,000 to 80,000 prostitutes in the UK. And there’s some assumptions made about how many clients they have, how much money they make and so on. And we’ve also got various bits and pieces of evidence about how many men actually pay for sex. And when we compare the two numbers with each other it just doesn’t seem to add up really. Someone, somewhere, has to have some of the numbers wrong.

For example, the ONS (the government’s statistics arm) thinks that there are around 60k tarts in the country. They each have 25 clients a week as well. Each trick pays around 60 and that’s how we get to the idea that prostitution amounts to 6 billion a year or so in the economy. That’s actually part of the official figures of how large the economy is now (and is part of the reason we’ve got to pay that extra €1.7 billion to the EU).

However, on the other side we’ve also got this:

One in nine British men have paid for sex, according to a new study.

And the likeliest to do so are 25 to 34-year-old single men in managerial or professional occupations, and those who have had a high number of partners.

The research, published in the journal Sexually Transmitted Infections, revealed that 3.6 per cent of the 6,000 men surveyed admitted visiting prostitutes in the past five years.

One in nine have ever done this. And it’s only just under 4% who have done this in the past five years.

Well, how many men are there in the country? Roughly 25 million (64 million of us, take off the children and then 50/50 men and women). 4% of that is 1.25 million men who have, at any time in hte past 5 years, bought sex.

But back to our 60,000 tarts and their 25 customers a week. That’s 1.5 million visits a week: and yet there’s only 1.25 million men making those 1.5 million visits?

We’re supposed to believe that all of the men (on average) who have ever bought sex in the past 5 years are buying it more than once a week?

This just doesn’t add up. It simply cannot be true that all of these numbers are correct. Someone, somewhere, is very wrong.

At a best guess it’s the number of clients that each tart has in a week. Rather than there being that number full time there’s an awful lot of them doing a bit of part time work here and there. But through the fog of these incorrect numbers it’s difficult to tell.

Posted: 18th, November 2014 | In: Money | Comment

Money Buys Happiness: Lottery Winners Reveal What Happened Next

Esther Tracey, a 24-year-old unemployed nursery nurse from Poplar, East London, celebrates her National Lottery win of £1,373,571 at The Ritz in London.

Esther Tracey, a 24-year-old unemployed nursery nurse from Poplar, East London, celebrates her National Lottery win of £1,373,571 at The Ritz in London.


WHAT happens after you win millions on the lottery?

The Daily Mail says it’s mistery and more msiery:

Why so many lottery winners like me end up losers in love: Every week it seems another couple splits after scooping a Lotto jackpot

But it isn’t. That just makes the losers feel better. Money does buy happiness:

Dean Allen: 26 when he won £13,861,061:

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: 17th, November 2014 | In: Money, Reviews | Comment

Newspaper Asks Its Journalists To Deliver Door To Door

NEWSPAPERS are in peril:

– One of California’s largest newspapers has asked reporters and other employees to help deliver papers on Sundays, according to a memo obtained by Reuters, the latest sign of the toll that financial woes are taking on print journalism.

The Santa Ana-based Orange County Register, which recently stopped contracting with rival Los Angeles Times for delivery services, is offering $150 gift cards to staff members if they deliver 500 to 600 papers, according to the memo sent on Thursday, which was confirmed by the paper’s top editor.

“The entire company — all departments, including our newsroom — has been asked to help during what has clearly been a difficult situation,” editor Rob Curley said in an email to Reuters. “It’s strictly voluntary.”

Looks like another job for the interns…

Posted: 17th, November 2014 | In: Money, Reviews | Comment

The Scientific Proof Of Why Blokes Don’t Go For Fat Birds

And it’s not what you might think either, it’s not just an aesthetic preference, it’s all about evolution. And as we know, evolution is science and science is right, right? The fact is, the reason men don’t go for fat birds is because fat birds are less fertile.

‘These changes may reduce the chances of conception for overweight women, and may even have long-term health implications for the children of overweight and obese women.’

The latest study found that eggs from women who are overweight or obese were significantly smaller than eggs from women of healthy weight, and less likely to reach a crucial stage of development called the ‘blastocyst’ at around five days after fertilisation.

Researchers found embryos from overweight and obese women that reached the blastocyst stage did so on average 17 hours faster than comparable embryos from women of a healthy weight.

This acceleration in early development meant fewer cells were formed in blastocysts from overweight and obese women, which could have a deleterious effect on the placenta – the ‘support system’ for the growing baby.

Now, given that the vast majority of us spend a great deal of effort in making sure that our sex lives don’t lead to there being a baby on the way this might sound like a good thing. But of course our basic desires aren’t driven by what we think right now, nor what has been happening in the past few decades. Those are drive by evolution: what has been happening over the past few hundred thousand years?

And there, if fat chubbies are indeed less fertile than slim little things then there’s the explanation. No, it’s not to say that we consciously think of how fertile someone might be before we try to shag them. It’s because we’re all descendants of those whose preference was to shag fertile people. Thus we find attractive those signs of potential fertility.

Assuming that this finding is true, that overweight women are indeed less fertile then that on its own explains why men tend to find fat birds less attractive than their thinner sisters.

Posted: 13th, November 2014 | In: Money | Comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The math is here:

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

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

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

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

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

Posted: 12th, November 2014 | In: Money | Comment

So Why Have Hungarians Making Sandwiches In Northampton Then?

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

So, as The Guardian tells us:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Just perfect, isn’t it?

Posted: 12th, November 2014 | In: Money | Comment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: 10th, November 2014 | In: Money, Reviews | Comment

The Ludicrous Claim That Susannah Constantine Is A Bad Mother

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted: 10th, November 2014 | In: Money | Comment

Let’s Crush The Tower Poppies With Tanks!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Posted: 10th, November 2014 | In: Money | Comment