Saturday, 20 January 2018

Small Englanders

The result of a YouGov pol yesterday - Fog in the Channel - Continent Isolated...

Surprisingly, 55% overall thought it a bad idea and only 26% thought it a good idea. Younger people thought it a good idea and the older the cohort became the more they thought it a bad idea.

Given an added route for holidays and trade is undoubtedly a good idea - even if only because of the jobs it creates, one wonders why so many think it a bad idea, unless it's the Boris effect - they're making a judgement on a Boris idea as opposed to the idea itself.

The Kipper result I can understand though - they're not noted for rational thought.

Friday, 19 January 2018

The Chairman's Admin Service

Last February we invested a large sum in a start-up using a government SEED scheme which guarantees 50% of your investment back in the tax year following the investment. The paperwork that enabled me to claim the 50% was allegedly sent in the summer of last year, but neither Hayley nor myself could recall receiving the certificate. We've spent an entire week persuading my accountant to lodge the claim without the actual certificate, which he was reluctant to do - and we were fast approaching the end of January deadline for self-assessment. Getting another certificate could take months. I'd actually forgotten about the tax relief - I'd already submitted my self-assessment in November, so it was a case of a retrospective application on having my memory jogged.

Given we were assured by the MD of said company that the certificate was sent by post, rather than via email (as was our assumption), Hay persuaded me to look through my important paperwork file rather than concentrating on my email archive. Hey presto! It was languishing in a little-used section of the filing system, heavily disguised as an HMRC tax certificate for SEED investment. My accountant was happy, Hayley was happy and I was happy and the revised self-assessment was duly resubmitted on Wednesday - enough, near as dammit, for a year's frugal living expenses. It was a close call.

Hay has now suggested I set up a business administration firm.....

Thursday, 18 January 2018

The Sartorial Elegance of Free Speech

I do believe I've reached the age where I can't care less about what I'm wearing - fashion holds no attraction for me whatsoever and stains on clothing (especially biological ones ones) are a badge of honour. Sure, I'll make an effort for business meetings, but in all other aspects of life comfort takes precedence over style. I call it the manopause.

Hay spotted these nifty items in a shop yesterday and suggested they'd be perfect for me as both day and evening wear. Practical, is what I'd call them...

Talking of the manopause, Being 8 years into it with no end in sight, Hay has been following a series of items on Woman's Hour about the menopause. One bloke rang in to the show to ask how he can best support his wife during the menopause. Hay shouted at the radio; "Leave for a few years, take the kids with you and lock up all the kitchen knives."

I note the government has banned a prominent American Holocaust denier, Mark Webber. I wonder how they reconcile this with government calls for free speech in UK universities? Methinks they just want an enforced platform for their views among the young, where their views are not well received. Mind you, Conservative views are not being that well received throughout the country at this present time, although the hedge funds have done well from Carillion's collapse by selling short. Rees-Mogg and his Somerset Capital Management missed an opportunity there, although the Conservatives allegedly accepted a £50k donation from one of the short selling firms.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Absolute Strength Carillion Candles

When checking the performance of Sterling I'm constantly annoyed at having to check it against several currencies and keeping a mental note of what's happening in each pairing. This led me to think about tracking currencies against something more absolute than just another currency, such as gold, but even gold suffers from the effects of supply and demand.

This induced me to do a bit of research and I came across the concept of Absolute Currency Strength, which is the strength of a currency against a basket of currencies. This is the chart for yesterday morning:

The chart can be found here. The meter takes readings from every forex pair over the last 24 hours, and applies calculations to each. It then bundles together each the associated pairs to an individual currency (eg, EUR/USD, EUR/JPY, EUR/GBP etc) and finds the current strength. The only problem is that it spans just 24 hours, which is not long enough for my purposes - a week or a month would be better. With 24 hours the results go up and down like the proverbial whore's drawers.

This problem got me searching Google Play and I came up with Currency Strength Indicator, where you can set the time frame from anything between 1 minute and 1 month and a sample of between 10 to 100 points in that time.

Don't know why, but I detest coloured candles, especially the ones that are dipped to achieve the colour. Hay had a couple of left-overs from her dad, so my OCD getting the better of me I peeled them with the potato peeler to remove the red wax dip. Feel much happier now...

Could someone explain how, if the government has existing contacts with Carillion and was paying for them, taking control of those contracts through existing Carillion staff and paying them, is going to cost more? Surely, with the profit element gone and the staff being paid the same, it will cost less than under the liquidated regime? The only answer that makes sense is if the government has paid up-front and the money has already gone, although I can't believe anyone would be so stupid. If the company is in liquidation, then I suppose the creditors would have first dibs on any assets, so there is that to factor in - and assets would need to be bought back from the liquidator by the government. However, assets would be going for a song in a fire sale.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Flashing Onion Cats

Oops - I made two posts yesterday by mistake. One was meant for today.

I'm a criminal - got flashed by a traffic camera in Bristol at 5am last week while on the way to the airport. I was doing 50 in a 40 zone - that'll teach me to have Waze on silent! Rather than pay the £100 fine and obligatory 3 points on my licence, I've opted to go on a re-education programme. Evidence shows that people who choose these programmes are less likely to offend again, but I wonder if they just don't think; "That'll teach me not to have Waze on silent again."?

Last night there was a lot of squeaking taking place in the kitchen, meaning one of the cats had brought in a mouse. It being about midnight, I wasn't in a mind to go downstairs and rescue it - not that I could have. I'm not making any accusations - it could have been Kitty, Blackie or Gingy - but it was either eaten in its entirety (a rare occurrence, as one particular item of mouse viscera is usually left for me to clean up - invariably the stomach), or a dismembered mouse has been deposited under an item of furniture again.

Lots of media attention to supermarket packaging and then Lidl goes and starts selling pre-peeled onions in plastic. Not a good PR move - however, I don't like peeling onions either. Until such time as supermarkets stop selling pre-prepared (not only peeled, but diced) vegetables, it's a bit unfair to single out just one vendor. Look in any Iceland store and every vegetable is pre-peeled and diced, or mashed - and in plastic. Anyone ever peeled a pea, or do you prefer the podded, frozen variety?

Monday, 15 January 2018

Neanderthal Racism on a DM Bike

Is it racist to have a go at races that no longer exist? Can you poke fun at neanderthals with no consequences?

There again, neanderthal genes still exist in the population - in some more than others (or is that a racist comment?).

Talking of neanderthal genes, Branson has reversed his decision not to stock the Daily Mail and some are hailing it as a move against censorship. Virgin trains doesn't stock the Jewish Chronicle - I wonder why? It has been said that passengers on Virgin Trains prefer the on-line version of the DM as it provides great sport by being able to read the comments sections and baiting the fascists. No self-respecting Libtard Snowflake, like myself, would be seen dead with a paper copy.

Libtard - a favoured put-down by the right. It's an oxymoron to start with, but the users don't realise this. There are literally hundreds of academic studies showing that liberals are more intelligent that conservatives. Then there's Political Correctness - a useful club deployed by the right to beat out any dissent as they rampage about the place saying unacceptable things. Freedom of speech has legal limitations but also confines that are judged by the broader consensus of society.

On another favourite DM topic; I was listening to an item on immigration on Radio 4 yesterday morning and the argument about its effect on local jobs was mentioned. This stirred a memory of one Norman Tebbitt a few decades ago calling on the jobless to get on their bikes. I wonder how people felt about immigrants from Liverpool or Sheffield coming in and taking their jobs. Then again, remember the phenomenally successful Auf Wiedersehen, Pet?

A Carillion for Recycled Wellingtons

So Carillion has gone bust - a familiar story of an obsession with size, takeovers driven by boardroom egos, the lure of the City and good old government incompetence. That's just how British manufacturing declined and now it's spreading to the construction / services industry. It's yet another kick in the backside for privatisation where a service has to be provided with a profit element. The British taxpayer will now step in to save the bits it relies on - another familiar story. I wonder how many MPs have shares in Carillion.

I resurrected my kefir grains over the weekend; they'd been frozen for at least 4 months, if not more, and produced an excellent batch of kefir 1st time - so freezing definitely works as a means of preservation. They're back in the freezer again now and probably won't brought out again for at least 6 months.

Why do socks come off when you wear wellingtons? Perhaps I need to invest in some long socks - could be why you see farmers with their socks rolled over the tops of the wellies?

Old people and recycling - what is it about recycling that they don't get? Open Hay's dad's bin and it's crammed with stuff that should go into the recycling bins, but no. It's the same with our elderly neighbours. Having lived though the war you'd think they'd gravitate to recycling quite easily, but it's almost as if they're saying; " I've done my bit."

Sunday, 14 January 2018

Cheesy Charts

Trump and his cancelled visit: I was reading a book on Oliver Cromwell last night and a passage jumped out at me; "Vanity is a dangerous attribute in a politician." The sentence was not about Cromwell.

Used to like reading Rod Liddle in the Sunday Times, but he's become rather illogical since he came out as a Brexiteer. Today, in response to Farage's pronouncement that perhaps there should be a 2nd referendum, he suggests best of three. Bring it on I say - as the disaster that is Brexit unfolds before our eyes and the cost mounts (it has already cost more than the projected savings, not that there are any when the loss of trade is taken into account), each referendum will produce an even bigger swing to Remain as more of the Brexit propaganda turns to dust.

The Ukip Fuhrer's girlfriend's Tweets - you couldn't make it up! Talk about imploding...

Continuing with the theme of food, I spotted this cheeseboard in one of the local shops yesterday - a cheeseboard with three knives.

Now how many bloody cheese knives does one need. I remember when there was only one shape for a cheese knife, and even that was a tad highfalootin' when an ordinary knife would suffice. Three though?

Here's an interesting chart - make of it what you will - it reflects the incidences of the words NHS Winter Crisis in the press and is from Full Fact.

Saturday, 13 January 2018

Daily Mail Offal

Harking back to an earlier post this week about United Cattle Products Ltd's restaurants in the 60s - the UCP chain - I was in our local butcher's yesterday to buy some faggots, a large piece of belly pork and some ham hocks and spotted a bag of chitterlings.

Now chitterlings are pigs' intestines that have been turned inside out and washed - nothing more, nothing less. I wonder who first came up with the idea of chitterlings? It's not as if anyone is ever going to become a chitterling baron along the lines of Bernard Matthews and his turkey empire. Looked up some recipes, but could only find ones from American southern states. Possibly something that US servicemen introduced in WWII when everything was used except the oink and the tail. Hay's dad remembers them, and not fondly either.

There was a highly illustrative YouGov poll about Virgin Trains' decision to stop providing the Daily Mail on their trains...

The Daily Mail is claiming, somewhat ridiculously, that Virgin's decision was an attack on free speech. I do worry about the Daily Mail and its grasp on reality. Still can't forgive Branson for suing the NHS or screwing up the East Coast Rail franchise though.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Manufacturing Hoodies

Brexiteers are hailing the recent increase in manufacturing output as a vindication of their position; however, what they're not taking into account are the following two and incontrovertible facts - not opinions, but facts:

  1. Sterling has dropped from its value before the referendum, making our products more competitive, and
  2. We are still in the Single Market, meaning no tariffs are being levied on our EU exports. You can check this, but I believe you'll find I'm right.
Rather that it being an argument for leaving the EU, it's a somewhat forceful and cogent argument for remaining in the EU - from a manufacturing perspective, at least. Manufacturing output increasing is a result of a drop in sterling, occasioned by the market's reaction to the mere prospect of us leaving the EU, coupled with us still being in the Single Market in order to be able to take advantage of the drop in sterling AND zero tariffs.

Getting this through some people's skulls is almost impossible, which just demonstrates how emotions governed the Brexit win, rather than rational logic. This alone justifies a 2nd referendum - following a period of enforced, public education at a government Remain Camp.

Now sterling is creeping up again but, once tariffs some into effect, Brexiteers had better hope to Hell that sterling crashes through the floor - which it probably will - so it's no use crowing about sterling's recent rise as if it's some magic talisman. The rise in sterling is down to a variety of reasons, not least of which is the political situation in Germany, the EU's most important economy, and the fact Germany has no government. This has weakened the Euro, but Germany will have a government in the near future.

Of course, the corollary of this is that perhaps we should threaten to leave the EU every couple of years or so, just to give exports a boost.

Ref yesterday's post about the 'racist' hoodie; seems I was wrong about the parent being on-set (one of the few occasions she was not), but right about the parent not seeing the hoodie as racist. There again, she lives in Sweden, a highly evolved country.