Saturday, 28 January 2012

Psychic Powers ?

Uri Geller rose to fame as  a psychic - who could bend spoons using just the power of his mind
and his hands and fingers.  Strangely for someone using the power of his mind, he still had to touch the spoon, key, fork etc.

Presumably the power of his mind was meant to travel out of his fingers into the spoons  to bend them.
Tellingly, he could never bend things that couldn't otherwise be bend by hand, or by for example using a table or a chair to bend them against. So if he was using the power of his mind, he was bending spoons the hard way.  All of which makes me wonder how he has continued to make a living of of a rather feeble collection of conjuring tricks.

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Mrs Thatcher and saving money

Files released by the National Archives under the 30-year rule include a note about the cost of refurbishing the Prime Minister’s official residence, in which Baroness Thatcher pointed out that she and her husband, Denis, used only one bedroom and already had their own crockery. She wrote: “I will pay for the ironing boards and other things, like sufficient linen for the one bedroom we use. The rest can go back into stock. MT”
So the nation saved £19 on the ironing board, and it was instead paid for by Mrs Thatcher, who was married to Millionaire Denis. The cost of the entire refurbishment is listed at less than £2000, far less than the £600,00 refit for David Cameron.

Ironically, it is the same Mrs Thatcher who authorised the purchase of Trident Nuclear Submarines - for what even in those days was a cost of £10 billion pounds.

There is a saying look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves. Save all the small sums and they will add up to a big sum.
In this case I think the appropriate phrase is penny wise - pound foolish.
Save the little sums but waste the big ones !

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

News of the World

Anyone doubting that the unethical practises at the News of the World started recently ought to take a look at the book "News of the World, Fake Sheikhs and Royal Trappings"

I picked up my copy in poundland - which is probably less than a copy of the News of the World would have been.  A tell example of most people's values.

Familiar names like Andy Coulson and Piers Morgan turn up, along with a well researched and evidenced examples of how the News of the World invented stories, told blatant lies and ruined the lives of innocent people.

The usual defence of the News of the World is that the bad is outweighed by the good -  but, actually, there are few examples of good journalism amongst the garbage that filled the pages of what was the UK most popular paper.

Many people might say they never believe what they read in the papers, it's all harmlesss fun and celebrities deserve it. However, the reality is that it is often believed, it isn';t harmless and no one deserves to have malicious lies told about them.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Friday, 6 January 2012

Screaming Lord Sutch

The man who was Screaming Lord Sutch - by Graham Sharpe ISBN 1-85410-983-9

David Sutch was best known as Leader of the Official Monster Raving Loony Party, he was also  one of the UK's first rock stars.  

His book is both a fascinating and ultimately sad read.

Sutch was a unique talent - he was one of the first people to have really long hair (2ft) way before the hippies.  He had a inventive knack for creating publicity and for many years entertained the public with his 'horror' rock act.

He was a pretty terrible singer and never had a hit record, but he managed to make more than a living out of music.  Some of his early records are surprisingly good.
He overcame many obstacles, such as being dyslexic and suffering from depression (probably bi-polar disorder)

He mixed with a huge number of people involved in music and has a cult following amongst those who care about such things

Politically, he could genuinely claim to have influenced mainstream politics far more than most MPs - from lowering the voting age,to introducing commercial radio to killing off the SDP- Lord Sutch had a hand.

In later years both politically and musically he became a pale parody of his former glory. Sadly, he became a compulsive hoarder and finally committed suicide.


The europhobes are out gunning for the Euro.  They keep repeating the Mantra that a single interest rate cannot work across more than one country - and that is why the Euro Zone economies are in trouble. Scrap the euro, allow the currencies to devalue and hey presto, problem solved.

Like all much economics, this view is both political and prejudiced. Economics used to be called political economy such was the obvious link between political views and what economic outcomes might be sought and therefore how to achieve them.

I question whether the Euro zone has a single interest rate.  Conservative MP John Redwood was this morning without irony pointing out that Government bond rates in several Euro zone countries were much higher than their neighbours.  

"Hungary, a candidate to become a member of the Euro saw her bond rates forced up to almost 10% and is now seeking help from the IMF. Italian state 10 year borrowing rates went above the magic 7% again, whilst Spanish 10 year rates also rose to 5.63%." So much for a single interest rate.

Of course UK interest rates are officially 0.5%   - do you believe that if you have a mortgage or a credit card or take a loan at 2000% pa as advertised on TV ?     

Even if the europhobes were right and a single currency/interest rate is better/worse for some areas, this applies as much within countries as between them.

Would Wales be better off with it's own currency ? the Isle of Wight ?  Liverpool ?

How quickly people forget that devaluing currencies did not often solve economic problems - more often it switched them or made them worse. Rarely is it mentioned that the Euro was partly popular because of the actions of currency speculators who could pick on individual countries on the currency markets in turn with impunity and cause them huge economic problems.

It seems to me that the Europhobes look back with rose tinted spectacles to a time that is long gone. The root cause of the problems in the Euro seem to me to be that Government borrowed and spent to much and that people in financial markets created 'mirage' profits and paid themselves vast sums or doing so.