Wednesday, 10 August 2016

One for the (comic) trainspotters

Ooofty, Luke Cage is coming suckahs .. but in the meantime am luvving the subtle nod to the original Blaxploitation Power Man (aka Luke Cage) outfit in the trailer for the new Netflix series. Quality nerdage

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Brexit is Scotland’s fault

No, it really is. The Scottish independence referendum was a landmark event, one that saw folks from Inverness to Inverurie take the time to educate themselves about politics and economics. To give an example, the precise nature of Scotland’s currency in a hypothetical post UK situation was a subject of serious discussion and a matter of informed, reasonable, if those HM Treasury papers are cast to one side for the shite they were/are, debate.

Faced with Brexit, the great and the good appeared to have looked at what had happened in Scotland and what had won and chose the same tactic; scare the bejezuz out the fuckahs in a (massively exaggerated way) in the hope that something approaching rational debate would win. But, it didn’t because the Brexit lot never took the time to educate themselves about anything. They already had their bigoted prejudices and that was what counted.

So yeah, sorry England, Scotland set a standard you couldn’t reach, one you didn’t even recognise and still refuse to acknowledge. Fail.

Brexit is dumber than Trump

As with Trump supporters in the US, a pro-Brexit argument here was that it was a vote against the corrupting influence of “big business” on the polity (albeit not necessarily expressed in those terms). The thing is, in this regard the Trumpists are a couple of military grade, semi-automatic shots behind the Brexiteers in the which country can shoot its feet off the fastest race both sets of clods have shat over the rest of us. The why is straightforward; British governments don’t go after, reform or penalise big business for being naughty to anything like the same degree the EU does.

Fer instance, when Microsoft moaned in 2006 about the EU fining it for abusing its (effectively a) monopoly position, the EU response was to threaten to up its $1.5m a day fine to $3m. Similarly, the EU subsequently fined Intel $1.44m for abusing its influence as a parts supplier to feck up its rival AMD by giving rebates to PC makers Dell, Hewlett-Packard Co, NEC and Lenovo if they bought most of their computer chips from them.

There’s other examples, go find them later, but in the meantime compare/contrast with how us Great British folk treated much of the British construction industry after the OFT found out they’d been rigging tenders for public sector contracts for years; 103 firms were fined a total of £129m in 2009. Chew on that for a second … 103 firms were fined £129m for ripping off the public sector i.e. us, for years. That’s 103 firms, including Balfour Beatty and Carillion and £129m. 103 firms. Over a 100 firms and barely £1m apiece on average for ripping us all off.

So whereas the EU really does stand up to “Big business”, left to its own devices, the British government barely manages a smack on the wrist. So by voting for Brexit, all of us will be left more exposed and vulnerable to abusive, Big Business behaviour. Shit.

Compare/contrast this with Trump; his rhetoric about NAFTA etc., suggests he’s less keen on free market access (to the US) and the associated scope for moving production from the US to lower wage economies.  On the other hand, this outsider’s outsider has said hee haw about actually reforming the political process to reduce the influence Big Business has. But, here’s the thing, a pro-Brexit vote still appears dumber than voting for Trump. 

Friday, 29 July 2016

(High) Trump stakes

The Brexit parallels with Trump in the US are painfully apparent making this article describing how he’s moved politics there from conservative vs liberal to normal vs abnormal so relevant. However, the point, commentators aren’t getting or acknowledging is simple; we‘ve done normal (and rational), it worked and works plenty fine for “them”, but hasn’t done any good for "us" for a good long while now, in fact it’s done an increasing amount of bad, 

Which is weird, and gawd knows where's next.

Wednesday, 20 July 2016

A lil insight ... just a lil

“Two HSBC executives have been charged in the US for allegedly conspiring to rig international currency markets.

When is an executive not an executive? When he’s a “head of”. A more accurate description of a “head of” would be senior manager or even baby executive, but one thing they are not is especially senior, “global” or otherwise, which prompts a few questions:

1)  So (US) regulators are going after currency traders now, not just libor bods, interesting…. (it fits the still subterranean narrative of every market that could be gamed appears to have gamed i.e. fraud was committed, and slowly but surely folks are gonna pay)

2)  thought traders got the big bucks because they superstar moneymakers, not crooks?

3) The folks that’re gonna pay aren’t that senior, meaning the real senior guys are going to keep getting away with it

4) Why are people who aren’t that senior being misrepresented as being senior?

5) And Jezuz, Shitting Christ and his 12 disciples, why has been going on for years? (compare/contrast re: how long it takes to prosecute "plebs")

As an aside, given these guys look like they’re getting hauled up in the US, I’d be shitting myself if I was them (see here for instance).

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Flying high, but then an unfriendly sky

Nice short documentary here about Concorde, a moment when Britain and France united to take on the US and the Russians in a technology race and won, producing one of the most sublime pieces of engineering in the process. And then there’s Airbus, that pan-European marvel, arguably built to help reb-alance the trade deficit of however many European countries because they were importing too many Boeings.

Anyhoo,  here’s a link to a scientist explaining how Brexit is already fucking science in Britain, a thing that creates jobs, companies and money at the same times as enriching and advancing us all as a society and as a civilisation. Compare/contrast/and cry.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Bitches in high placces

Reflecting on how the debate about Barclays and HSBC leaving the UK fizzled out when they all got caught at it by US regulators I noted; "Or was it the reality of not having UK regulators to back them up when the Americans got a hold of their nads that prompted second thoughts?"

I was close I guess, it was actually the Chancellor who successfully backed them up against the Americans with a congressional report in the US stating that when HSBC was getting done for money laundering, " the UK "hampered" the probe and "influenced" the outcome."

Self-congratulation aside, HSBC subsequenrly started the whole debate all over again in a gob smacking display of ingratitude. Gits.

Monday, 11 July 2016

The devaluation of devaluation

One of the reasons Greece is so fucked is because it's in the Euro it doesn't have a currency to devalue to make itself more competitive, draw in foreign investors etc., etc., So arguably, the post Brexit vote devaluation of Sterling is a good thing for the British economy ... ish.

British manufacturing has spent decades being restructured into a sector at a remove from immediate price senstitivties; you don't buy a Rolls Royce jet engine because it's the cheapest, you buy it because it's the best. Similarly, you don't buy Scottish whiskey because it's 37p cheaper than a Bulgarian equivalent.

Britain simply doesn't make much in the way of price sensitive goods anymore, but is reliant on imported materials to make things (and to eat) and imported things are now more expensive.

Similarly, devaluation might have attracted more foriegn investors, except their access to EU markets is now up for debate. So again, no win there.

True, it should boost tourism a bit, except will the tourists be asked when they're going to leave because we (by we, I mean Brexit voting fucktards not me) won the vote?

Saturday, 9 July 2016

How Facebook won the referendum

Sitting beside a colleague from the North of England opining on the Brexit vote, I thought “pffff”. Her view was that much of it was to do with the failure on the part of the Remain campaign to put across its message effectively. Neither they did, but so what?

Brexit was probably more about Facebook than the Arab Spring ever was. It, and twitter I guess, let Brexit voting fucktards stew in their own ignorance to an unprecedented degree. Reading what a friend of a friend of a friend on Facebook just posted let them live in a bubble of bollocks whilst claiming they were getting the real facts from real people, not those big business, politician ivory towered elite bastards; that it was typically bullshit free from facts, analysis or understanding was by the by.

As a result it arguably didn’t matter what Remain said, they’d already been either dismissed out of hand or were simply ignored regardless of whether they spelled out the practical consequences of leaving. And is funny the BBC ain’t reporting on this aspect of the vote, the bit that implies they’re a banjaxxed irrelevance (for a direct parallel see how they also completely ignored the internet leaking aspect of the we are the 99% thing, rendering it another implicit example of swarthy types being seen to be more susceptible to what's online, whereas us white folk are assumed to know better and have better public broadcasters). And yet here’s the thing, all but the dumbest of Brexit voters is now slowly waking up to the fact they’ve shafted themselves and most other folks in Britain too; racist and xenophobic assaults have spiked, Britain has been downgraded, companies are holding off taking on new staff and the pound has fallen meaning it’s worth less in your pocket because all imported goods and service are more expensive (and this is just the fucking beginning).

Anyhoo, as we head into a probable recession, I reckon it’s worth gathering up the collective wisdom of the Brexit voters so they can get their noses rubbed in their own, tangy ignorance; My favourite was originally a moron who explained she was voting out because of the Turks, Turks being "dirty bastards"  (Turkey ain’t joining the EU any time soon for those who don’t know). However, this has been overtaken by "cos it means the EU can’t stop us bringing back hanging”. Yep, those are two actual reasons why some folks voted for Brexit, the fucking, ignorant nuggets.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Brexit and the lessons from history

In what remains a delicious essay, the eminent (and dead) Economic Historian Carlo Cippola, a man who earned his spurs contributing to our understanding of change over looooong periods of time, postulated there were 5 basic laws of human stupidity. Brexit makes his case perfectly.

Go read the essay, seriously, it’s great and when you do think about law 1 “Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.”. Yep, a majority of sensible adults didn’t actually think England and Wales would be stupid enough to vote for Brexit.

Law 2 is kinda dull, but law 3 states  “A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

Yep in spades. In the UK, Wales probably benefits the most from EU grants and funding than any other part of the not going to be United for much longer Kingdom; and yet a majority of failed Englishmen voted for Brexit, a thing that will cost us all plenty over the next few years.

Or there are the rural areas that proved disproportionately likely to vote for Brexit; do farmers actually think the UK will subsidise them to the extent the EU does or that France, that nation of sheep burning road blockaders, will let them have the same access to European markets they currently enjoy? Face facts farmer barleymo it ain’t just Welsh hill farmers hopped up on sheep dip that’ll be blowing their brains out over the next few years.

Law 4 says “Non-stupid people always underestimate the damaging power of stupid individuals. In particular non-stupid people constantly forget that at all times and places and under any circumstances to deal and/or associate with stupid people always turns out to be a costly mistake.

See above, see kinda anything to do with Brexit basically or read some fool tweeting in his best I read the Daily Express voice, about how this means his vacuum cleaner will no longer be subject to EU laws and think does this plammff not realise yes it will otherwise it won’t be acceptable in any EU markets?

Then there’s law 5 “A stupid person is the most dangerous type of person.” – Yep. Brexit proves that in spades the way it’s taken us back to death of Princess Diana territory, that other time in living memory when a cretinous mob drunk on it’s own self-rightous bile, ignorant indignation and fury at its limp impotence sought to remake our nation in it’s own, ghastly image. Except, this time they actually have.

S’funny. In the run up to the FIRST Scottish referendum, lots of Northern English people chatted about wanting Scotland to take them in. Well, here’s one, updated, Scottish response, nah, fuck off ya nasty wee xenophobic pricks. Don’t want your sort in here, cos we’re better than that (and you).

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Andy Hornby vs The Great British Public (2- Nil)

Andy Hornby is famous for a couple of things, one – thank you an obviously aggressively policed Wikipedia entry – is graduating first out of 800 students when he got his Harvard Business School MBA. Woooooooo, nice. 

The other is being the CEO who fucked HBoS so hard the taxpayer had to eventually step in with billions of bailout pounds. So that was Andy Hornby one, the British public nil. But wait, there’s more. …

A recent Guardian expose lifts the lid on Boots the chemist and how it’s hard driving staff in ways that put the health of people getting prescriptions at risk and also milks the taxpayer by effectively setting sales targets for medicine use reviews (or MURs), which the taxpayer pays for.

The article dates the start of this back to Boots being acquired by a private equity house. And who did the private equity bod in charge appoint as CEO? Yup, Andy Hornby, so two nil Andy, but it’s OK, cos he left in 2011 and is now CEO of Coral, the bookies.

But, lets pause for a second and reflect on the great service Andy Hornby has given us, the British public, given taxpayer money has been so integral to the Andy Hornby 'business model'  ... (when doing so forget about all the big company directorships and chairmanships this moral titan will soon be vying for).

There, have you had a pause and some thoughts? So whaddya think  about this scion of industry and his apparent immunity to the very real, very material consequences of his decision-making and leadership have had and say about today’s ruling class, how they get to be there and what they’re willing to do to employees, the public and taxpayers to make a quick buck.

Anyhoo, that he’s currently the Coral CEO , a big wheel in an industry that fuels as it profits from  the flames of however many tens of thousands of gambling addicts is by the by I guess, because Andy Hornby is a true leader and an utter  ____  (you fill in the blanks).  

And the way things work in today’s Britain, that’s just dandy it appears.

Guess the business fail

Picture the scene, a long established British business that’s seen better days gets taken over by a  new management team that’s bought it for a derisory sum and even received some multi-million pound sweeteners in the process from it’s former owner.

The new team doesn’t have a business plan worth a damn or access to the funding needed to finance it or basically anything remotely credible. But, as proud owners of this long established concern, they do have the authority to extract millions of pounds for themselves in management fees before things go ‘kerphut’.

Even better, having been politically expedient when they bought the company, the new folks can be blamed when it all goes wrong and 1,000s of people start losing their jobs, leaving the state i.e. us, to pick up the tab, give or take some MPs huffing and puffing.

So, you decide, what company am I talking about, Rover, subject to a multi-million pound state enquiry from which lessons should presumably have been learned, or BHS?

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Panama (c)anal

Making a prediction is a great way to be wrong about something, but what the heck; the Panama Papers will produce widespread revulsion, but limited, widespread reform because the ruling class doesn’t want there to be any*.

Remember, we’ve already been here with the leak of HSBC Swiss bank account details. HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) got the data in 2010, identified 1,100 dodgy people out of the c. 7,000 listed who hadn’t paid their taxes and yet 5 years later, only one tax evader had been prosecuted. EVentually, MPs huffed and they puffed, as they do, did some grandstanding and then ...... no much really, which was as unsurprising as it was disgraceful.

HSBC’s name, it being the money launderer’s bank of choice, looms large in the Panama Papers. But, then so do those of other banks including the majority state owned RBS (via it’s Coutts business). This is not a surprise. As HSBC’s own post-Swiss leak statement made clear -  "We acknowledge that the compliance culture and standards of due diligence in HSBC's Swiss private bank, as well as the industry in general, were significantly lower than they are today," - tax evasion was (is?) an industry-wide problem conducted on an industrial scale.

The Panama Papers provide detailed evidence of this if anyone wants to investigate further or even demand other banks release the details of thousands of other tax dodgers with the threat of losing their UK, French, German and/or US banking licences as an incentive.

Similarly,  Mossack Fonseca is (soon to be was) only the world's fourth-biggest provide of offshore services, so what about numbers 1, 2 and 3 or even 5? If Mossack Fonseca was at it, then what were/are they up to?

Except, we know this won’t happen. Rather than demand banks identified as being dodgy in the Panama Papers release any account details, here it’s already getting boiled down to a politicised debate about the Prime Minister’s father. Similarly, it’s hard to imagine the US going internationally hardcore after any other offshore service provider the way it went after FIFA (??) or say Gary MacKinnon because too many rich and powerful people simply don’t want them to.

The lesson is simple and backed up by the biggest leak in history, there is one set of laws and institutions for them, the rich and the powerful, and another for the rest of us. And they are not the same. 

One more wee thing, if the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes, then how does trickle-down economics, that great justification of rampant inequality, work? We appear to live in an era of wealth hoarders, wealth hiders and tax dodgers, not wealth creators.

* Would be lovely to be wrong, but I doubt it