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Friday, 21 November, 2008

Ian Lacey | 16:17 UK time, Friday, 21 November 2008

It's a busy day for Kirsty, she's presenting both Newsnight and Review. Here's her run down of what's on the former (details of the latter here).

Chancellor Alistair Darling in 2007PBR
Tonight we're talking big numbers. Ahead of Monday's pre budget reportNewsnight is distilling all the figures down to the key elements. Is our borrowing in comparison with the rest of the world healthy or unhealthy? Are we, as Treasury officials say, about to have a mammoth shock to the economy. How much borrowing can this country afford? And what real difference will it make to the household budget? Is Alistair Darling, as George Osborne would have it, about to unleash a tax bombshell primed to detonate after the next election? Tonight we gear you up for Monday's big announcement.

BBC
There were red faces at the BBC earlier in the week over John Sergeant's resignation from Strictly Come Dancing but the Corporation has today faced severe criticism from its own Trust over the more damaging Sachsgate Saga. The telephone calls by Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand to Andrew Sachs have been judged by the BBC Trust to be a "deplorable instrusion with no editorial justification." How will the BBC respond?

USA
As the world anticipates the appointment of Hillary Clinton as Obama's Secretary of State, a new report predicts that US global influence is on the wane. Countries like India, China and Russia will challenge US dominance over the next two decades, according to the National Intelligence Council. So can Obama maintain America's status as top dog?

Join us at 10.30 tonight.

Kirsty

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    GORDON GOES FOR THE "I DIDN'T KNOW" DEFENCE.

    But hasn't Jacqui told him? Gordon says he didn't even know they were whores, let alone that they were linked, through a chain of others, to very murky international 'vice'. (Although he thought it prudent to admit that he knew the money was 'trafficked' - repeatedly.)

    Now he is angry with America for allowing him to get caught up in their disgraceful ways. After all - he is no Hugh Grant!

    But it isn't going to get you off Gordon. It won't be smiley Yates of the Yard who comes to feel your dollar, it will be Jacqui of the WHOLE NINE yards; and what she doesn't know about men informs every smack you are going to get!

    So with Gordon's moral compass now pointing to 'Blame America', what might we infer? It all looks awfully like the last refuge of a scoundrel to me.

  • Comment number 2.

    It was inevitable that the US Western hegemony of the past couple of decades would eventually be overtaken by the growth in power of the other 90% of the world. The impact of George Bush Jr. and his neo-cons was to bring forward the time when this shift took place; and to significantly weaken the US position as the world entered on its new multi-polar future.

    Indeed, Obama will find the US almost isolated from the rest of the world. It has lost its military lead. It has lost its economic power, and is no longer the model for the developing world. Worst of all, it has lost its moral authority. Its citizens may think they are still the leading example of democracy, but nobody else does.

    Obama has, therefore, to recognise that the US is now primum inter pares. He can no longer impose the US will on the rest of the world, but will have to persuade his new peers in the international community to follow his lead. But neither will this new multi-polar world, driven by multi-lateral decision-making, be able to impose its will on the US; which will still be a key player, as the top poodle.

  • Comment number 3.

    After the performances Ross, Brand, Frankie Boyle and their apologists, there's still no sign that anyone at the BBC is capable of distinguishing between a joke and an insult.

  • Comment number 4.

    BROADCASTER'S BAFFLING CHANGE (#3)

    I have read of men who were injured in quarrying or mining accidents (steel bar through the head, and the like) suffering a complete change of character, and this is how the BBC now comes across, in all its facets.

    Nothing remains static, but I heard some BBC worthy today effectively declaring that one MUST 'refresh'. So all that beautiful meadow that has bloomed for a hundred years, needs to be ploughed up and refreshed? And ancient woodland likewise?
    I venture: 'If it aint stale, don't refresh it!'
    I remember Jimmie Young got 'refreshed'. Moira Stewart; she too was 'refreshed'.

    I think it would be a good idea to 'refresh' all those currently responsible for the BBC's complete change of character. Perhaps some of those refreshed into unwarranted retirement - perhaps for having some stable values - might be brought back as management?

  • Comment number 5.

    and come / came back again

    Does anyone at newsnight read e-mails to the ED, posted one a week ago yesterday, no reply as yet.

    Tis/was a simple ?

  • Comment number 6.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 7.

    #5 dAllan169

    Not as far as I am aware. Over 8 years never had so much as an automated acknowledgement.

    Same with letters to anyone in BBC, never had a reply or anything. Apart from Breakfast News. They sent me a standard letter which clearly showed they had never read mine.

    Don't worry its not you.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 8.

    #7 Re #5
    I have fared a little better. I once asked for a "human scale" explanation of of oil prices reported by the BBC (I don't buy a lot of Brent Crude, by the barrel). What I got was worthless; something to do with the oils sweetness.

    Also, I once tried to explain that the CPI has never been 3.2 % and that a 3.2% year-on-year change was not a sensible measure of inflation when prices were subject to sudden changes. All I got was a reference to the ONS page from which they had taken numbers they had misinterpreted. 4.5% inflation they say, even though prices (as per CPI) FELL last month. It beggars belief.

  • Comment number 9.

    SCOTOMA

    barrie (#4) So many people these days confidently exclaim that they don't see what's wrong as if this were ever the same as saying that there isn't anything wrong.

    Paxman and Buerk have commented on this 'downturn'.

    The stats say it all, and I've said often enough - there's a bigger price to pay for all this than most appreciate.

  • Comment number 10.

    STUFFED CAPON

    Funny that Paxo should speak out when it would appear (particularly when Mistress76 blogs) that his arrogant histrionics either appeal, or go unnoticed, and his pay is deemed 'well earned'. Perhaps he is not, actually, that smart? Any other lady bloggers care to comment on the Paxo allure? (Of course, he is tall . . . )

    PS points taken JJ. Links followed.

  • Comment number 11.

    So Brown has finally admitted to Jeremy Vine that he got things wrong - arguing
    that 'of course politicians make mistakes'.

    But of course politicians - at least in our democracy - normally face electorates to
    give the people a chance to kick them out.

    Gordon Brown doesn't like elections though.
    Indeed: he is now telling Britain that he will
    not be going to the country next year either.

    This is scarcely satisfactory ........................

  • Comment number 12.

    The government are trying to borrow our way out of trouble, when it is borrowing that has got us in to trouble.

    Until we get the monetary reform proposed by Abraham Lincoln and C H Douglas whereby the government creates money as credit, rather than allowing the banks to borrow it into existence as a debt, we will not get away from boom and bust.

    The mechanism of getting our economy back on track exists, and it is reform of the money system that powers the economy, rater than the economy itself. Free from increasing debt, it can sort itself out.

    A good subject for a BBC series, I would have thought. Michael Rowbotham's "The Grip of Death" would be a good place to start.

  • Comment number 13.

    For most of this week, clicking the link to view Newsnight live has crashed my browser. Is there a technical problem or are overseas viewers being denied live streaming Newsnight deliberately? (It is the only streaming link that has ever crashed my browser).

  • Comment number 14.

    'SUPERANNUATED MARXISTS'

    The missing Paxman link in case mistresss76 has forgotten it.

    A quote: "Television is increasingly dominated by production companies set up by superannuated Marxists and kept afloat by young people willing to work for no pay. Some household-name newspapers are no better."
    //
    "If they're successful, most will find themselves producing garbage for cynics who think the only way to advance is to pander to the lowest common denominator."

    Take note Newsnight.

  • Comment number 15.

    "It's a busy day for Kirsty, she's presenting both Newsnight and Review"

    Obviously the reason why she can't conduct an interview containing questions relating economics and climate change.

    Newsnight you are so many years behind the curve. Get with the programme!

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 16.

    You really need to start asking the right questions!

    Not a single politician, not one commentator or presenter and certainly not a single 'expert' in the news has correctly identified the two interlinked problems the world is facing today:

    1. The little financial difficulty: True, it started with sub-prime mortgages, BUT it is far deeper than that. After all the total of sub-prime mortgages is reported as being some $1.5 trillion, whereas Governments have so far pump close to $10 trillion into the banks. If the problem was just sub-prime mortgages, or 'banks not lending to each other', this $10 trillion cash injection would have solved in one go.

    No, the problem is 'derivatives'. These debts and bets are worth some $500 trillion. Compare that to the GDP of the whole planet of just $50 trillion and you get some idea why this fantastic burden of debt can NEVER be repaid.

    The only solutions are
    a) hyperinflation to degrade the whole of that debt (following Zimbabwe)or
    b) legal cancellation of all derivative contracts (!!) or
    c) collapse of the whole financial system incl just about all banks, and starting all over again.
    We need to choose one and go for it. The future is bleak whatever Gordon does, but pumping borrowed money into the economy in the utterly vain hope of recovery is just about the worst possible strategy.

    2. The little problem of Energy and Growth.
    Next year the world production of crude oil will, for the first time in history, decline for geological, not political or economic, reasons. Peak Gas will follow some 10 years later.

    2008 is the end of the Era of Growth (as growth is predicated on the availability of cheap energy) and the start of the Era of Decline.

    No matter what investment is made in oil or gas fields, the total production from 2009 onwards will decline every single year by perhaps 4%, thus our energy sources will halve every 20 years or so. This has already happened in 60 oil producing countries around the world, incl USA (1972) and UK(1999) and now, in 2009, global production will begin to decline.

    The 1930s depression was bad enough, but this decline will be on a massively larger scale. To start with, it will be at least 40 years long. 40 years will take us to about 25% of current energy usage, which is what we can expect from all renewable sources combined. So at that stage, provided Governments have been wise enough to have invested massively in renewable energy, renewables may be able to take over from fossil fuels and perhaps stabilise the world economy.

    So, what should we do now? I suggest:
    a) embrace the Green New Deal (£50 billion per year invested in renewables)
    b) forget about tax cuts or other increases in current spending, they won’t do any good anyway and just add more and more to national (mine and yours) debt
    c) choose one of the strategies above for the self inflicted financial crisis - and follow through
    d) and go sustainable (if you can't continue doing the same thing for say 100 years without damage, then its not sustainable

  • Comment number 17.

    JUST HOW UNFIT FOR PURPOSE IS THIS MAN?

    Today, Gordon informed his adoring public that his father used to say: "A stitch in time, saves nine." Surely he is not using his father as a political prop? (I suppose families CAN go up, as well as down.) Is he REALLY unaware that EVERYBODY used to say that? All too reminiscent of when Margaret Thatcher told us (at some length) of the song about two little boys, or Dubya invoking a poster out in the West - "Wanted, dead or alive" with reference to Bin Laden. Major drove past his old home climaxing: "It's still there" and Blair ended up with so much 'history' on his shoulder, he scarpered without paying his dry cleaning bill.

    We vote these ciphers into Westminster and then stand by as the dross-most float to the top. We are no better than the BBC!

  • Comment number 18.

    #16 PaulS

    Don't know why you have been moderated. But have checked your last comments.

    I know what to search for on the web that isn't reported in the main stream media or Newsnight.

    There is criticism of the G20, especiallly from Canadian news sources. These relate to comments from UNEP IPCC and the New Green Deal.

    I hate the word Green, but remember Obama never attended the G20. Nothing has been decided.

    Neil Robertson a really good poster on the Newsight blogs posted a link to the 'declaration' of the G20.

    There are months before it can be discussed.

    Try Googling G20 Ecological but searching in news and blogs.

    There is an under current even from the UNEP that is 'dissing' GB and all the UK political parties approach.

    It ain't over until the fat lady sings. Don't let the the UK political/ media elite (inc Newsnight) allow you to belive that GB is getting global opinion to fall into line with him.

    It isn't and the movement will grow. There are many players moving into the debate.

    If I put links to legitimate news sources ourside the UK, there is a chance this will not be published.

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 19.

    threnodio (#13) We're a nation of anti-semitic sexist-racists don't you know (grin).

  • Comment number 20.

    LIES, DAMNED LIES AND COMPLICATIONS

    KingCelticLion (#18) "I hate the word Green, but remember Obama never attended the G20. Nothing has been decided."

    It isn't easy being green. In fact, rather than being the new red it may be the new Brown.

    Isn't politics complicated?

    PS. Food for though: How is President-Elect Obama of the USA like President Saakashvilii of Georgia?

  • Comment number 21.

    Oops - sticky keyboard/virtual memory - 'food for thought'.

  • Comment number 22.

    "Neil Robertson a really good poster on the Newsight blogs posted a link to the 'declaration' of the G20."

    I'm glad someone appreciates my links!
    I've just received a nasty letter from a
    Blogmoderator in UK DfID accusing me
    of being partisan [coming from Mr. D
    Alexander's Ministry that is v. ironic!]
    and all sorts of other misdemeanours
    that I find hard to square with posts
    I offered DfID Bloggers on .e.g. roads,
    water, mother and child issues, not to
    mention statistical support for Africa??

    Even Gordon Brown makes mistakes
    - so maybe they issued this banning
    order in error ..... or were they a bit
    upset I wonder that I included links
    to yesterday's report from Kandahar
    by Robert Fisk of "The Independent"?

    http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/fisk/robert-fisk-once-more-fear-stalks-the-streets-of-kandahar-1026330.html

    Or was it the link to the Channel 4
    News story about how bonuses we
    pay desk civil servants in both Iraq
    and Afghanistan exceed the salary
    of regular frontline Scottish soldiers?

    http://www.channel4.com/news/articles/politics/domestic_politics/war+zone+civil+servants+cash+in/1053347

    I guess I will never know because at the bottom of the banning letter they say it
    is apparently UK DfID policy not to enter
    into any further discussion ..... So there!

    http://blogs.dfid.gov.uk/

    In future they will pay for my professional advice!

  • Comment number 23.

    #12 Quorthon

    You seriously misunderstand the nature of money. You distinguish money created as credit and money "borrowed into existence as debt". ALL money is credit (in modern banking systems). I read the loony site you recommend. I found this:

    "Superstructure of credit

    The 'new money' will provide the banking system with the collateral for more lending. "

    Lending requires no collateral; only borrowing does.

    What the loony site calls "new money" does not provide a basis for lending; only high-powered (base) money does that. Only the Bank can create that.

    I was surprised to see The Money Reform party is based in Faversham. I know it well. Finger is a fine ale. Strong. You shouldn't drink too mucch!

  • Comment number 24.

    Neil and all

    It's snowing here! What's it like in Dundee.

    Will post tommorrow. Going to get some sleep and get up early go up the hills between here and Dundee and take some pictures over the Isla valley.

    Theres a watch tower near Newtyle that's my goal.

    I want some pictures of why this planet is worth saving and not sacrificed for some short term absract stabilisation of the economy.

    Sweet Dreams

    Celtic

  • Comment number 25.

    neilrobertson (#22) "I guess I will never know because at the bottom of the banning letter they say it is apparently UK DfID policy not to enter into any further discussion ..... So there!"

    Sounds a bit like Guardian's 'CiF' (Comment Is (only) Free (so long as it's 'on message'). Ask NewFazer about the amazing Guardian 'memory hole' when one says something off-message which violates 'house rules'.

    The Anthony Giddens piece here was most revealing given that the posts from 'Anatoly' to which he refers were deleted beforehand!

    Newsnight - I suggest you put your thinking caps on. Not all your contributors are 'proles'.

  • Comment number 26.

    My personal views -

    PBR and Government Debt

    Current Government Debt stood at 640.9 billion excluding investment debt (PFI type schemes), that's 43 % of GDP, reported by the BBC on Thursday.

    News Night comparison of countries debt levels for 2007(source IMF), but those UK figures exclude PFI debt ?

    Do France, Germany and Japan use PFI to hide their investment debt ?

    Could that be why France, Germany and Japan's debt looks higher when compared to ours ?

    Is this not a odd way to compare like with like ?

    Spending our way out of a recession

    Has anyone got any examples of this working ?

    I have yet to hear of one !

  • Comment number 27.

    THERE'S ANOTHER COUNTRY . . .

    Does anyone else get the feeling Westminster is some sort of self-governing principality, ruled over by 'Prince Martin the Eccentric'? Did Gulliver miss this one?

    As usual, I am no expert, but it becomes ever more apparent that all sorts of laws do not apply there and cultural norms, of the country as a whole, break down within those walls.

    I am of the opinion that their isolation from OUR realities and their immunity from our needs and wishes (elections are just 'musical chairs') have made Westminster a monster, out of control; above and beyond party politics.

    Just take Prime Minister's Questions: the spectacle transcends disgrace (where is the Ross-Brand furore?) questions are ignored and Mr Speaker is happy, as the rules put no relevant onus upon him. Were he accountable to the people, he would not last a day!

    Governance seems secondary to 'the game'. Ah - might it be that little has changed since its inception; except that the privileged players are now chosen by parties rather than blood/status?

    The merits of gunpowder are daily more apparent.





  • Comment number 28.

    3 ....capable of distinguishing between a joke and an insult....

    for that you need a training in the method of construction. These days who reads platos symposium and finds out why the same person who can write tragedy should be able to write comedy.

    if the comedy skill is not understood then its easy to accept fake comedy. e.g the news quiz has become little better than lefty snarling.

    anyone interested in a vid then try this playlist. its deals with exploring the structure and method of upon which comedy and tragedy are based as found in plato.

    http://uk.youtube.com/view_play_list?p=B7652758DD7FCBCB

    after that its easy to see why the bbc not understanding comedy but thinking it does is in fact the essence of a comedy.

    and why a comic with a wrong belief of comedy is in fact a tragedy.

  • Comment number 29.

    5. At 8:14pm on 21 Nov 2008, dAllan169

    Does anyone at newsnight read e-mails to the ED, posted one a week ago yesterday, no reply as yet.

    I doubt it. Any more than they read these blogs very often, much less getting bothered about correcting factual inaccuracies.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/newsnight/fromthewebteam/2008/11/thursday_13_november_2008.html#commentsanchor

    As to complaints, I have just had a considered 'reply' regarding one I made on this progamme's website pretty much ignoring Glenrothes until after voting day (when a surprise result became flavour of the month) by obsessing on some foreign election to the exclusion of all else.

    Classic cookie-cutter template that totally ignores what I was complaining about and waffles on about how 'they think they got the balance about right'.

    A joke and, like so many else from this force-funded entity, one in very bad taste.

    I want my money back.

  • Comment number 30.

    WHAT'S THE DEAL?: NOT FIT FOR ANTI-FASCISTS (FREE MARKETEERS)

    "Fascism was really the basis for the New Deal. It was Mussolini's success in Italy, with his government-directed economy, that led the early New Dealers to say 'But Mussolini keeps the trains running on time.'"

    Ronald Reagan (1976)

    A few thoughts on the Federal Reserve System and corporatism in these troubled times

  • Comment number 31.

    The NIC has been indeed wrong about a lot of issues, not least the Iraq WMD and the real threat of Alqaeda.
    Also, I believe that there is at least one thing the NIC didnt dare to mention as future threat to the US dominance is the spread of Islam- this is either omitted deliberately in order not to upset Muslim allies or not to draw the attention to it being spread further.

    Al Qaeda is indeed not popular in the Muslim World, but the 9/11 events ( its biggest operation) caused people curiousity about Islam. So they went to look for it.

  • Comment number 32.

    LOL. Feert auntie beeb of what ?

    sex did not feature in my last comment, in your perception it did.


    RE letters / email to the ED I supose they are treateED as Junk cant say I blame you so much nu junk around dont u think

  • Comment number 33.

    GETTING IT ABOUT RIGHT (#29)

    I am often struck by the way BBC and politics use the same 'devices' - particularly as trotted out by the Beeb during the Ross/Brand event.

    A friend and I came to regard the phrase: 'I think we are getting it about right' as copyright to Radio 4 producers, if 'Feedback' is any guide. However restrained, cogent and justifed a complaint might be, that was the stock answer.

    Incidentally - did you hear - Hazel Blears is concerned that politicians are coming over as vacuous - must be true; Hazel always gets it about right . . .

  • Comment number 34.

    MUDDLING TERMS AND INADEQUATE STATISTICS

    Something doesn't add up. On the one hand we're told we have a 'downturn' and the problem is that banks aren't lending enough which is bad for the economy, and yet we also hear from the banks:

    "... the British Banking Association announced today that lending to small businesses grew by £1 billion in the third quarter of 2008 - only a marginally lower rate than in the same period of last year.

    Total lending grew by 10% to £44.8 billion over the 12 months to September, while overdraft borrowing was up 4% over the year at £9.3 billion.

    BBA statistics director David Dooks said: "A rise in lending in the third quarter, consistent with growth in the previous quarter and the corresponding quarter of 2007, shows banks continuing to make finance available."

    Elsewhere we're told (albeit by a lobbying group!!) that 1 in 3 small businesses are having a hard time getting credit, and that foreclosures are on the rise. But given property prices are still falling and many of the job losses have been in the bloated financial sector and its professional support services, presumably many of those who overextended themselves with buy-to-let mortgages are no longer able to fund their BTL property portfolios....If people have several homes, they may well be losing some of their homes, and how many of those BTL portfolios are classed as small businesses and how many small businesses relied on this sector to provide luxury services? Banks understandably won't want to lend to businesses which no longer have customers or to individuals (small businesses) people who don't have the means (incomes) to pay them back.

    Are banks being unjustly blamed for problems which they're not responsible for, and which government has no control over? Are we hearing disporportionately from those who did well out of the property boom and cheap credit, but overstretched themselves or planned businesses which are no longer financially viable?

    What's lacking is detail in the reporting.

  • Comment number 35.

    Barrie #33

    Its not as if the BBC is going to shoot its number one, overpaid, over-rated " Corporate Nazi " icon. They love him because he represents the corporate illusion that any half baked Londoner can become a major celebrity. In reality its all about knowing the right people who can get you a start, always has been, always will be. Look what happened to Fred Dibnah.

  • Comment number 36.

    EUPHEMISM IN THE FOOT

    Every time the dopey politicians use 'downturn' as their chosen word to avoid saying crash, slump, collapse, etc (like the use of 'undertaker') my pedantic mind just sees an event without subsequent correction - i.e. no associated upturn. I feel it would be FAIRER indeed more PRUDENT to at least find a word that implies the whole deal, seen through. One might even craftily imply a pleasant experience: 'dell' or 'coombe' would do nicely, as they say in plastic money rectangles.
    I envisage: "While passing through the coming dell, the government hopes everyone will stick to the path, pick berries sparingly, and help one another in true British spirit."

    I am available for spin doctoring jobs, during the coombe.


    JJ Your point well made.

    Brossen99. Regret I am an admirer of Dibnah, we really shall not see his like again. Can we substitute Bruce Forsyth?

  • Comment number 37.

    FROM KOSHER CHICKEN TO AMERICAN ANTI-FASCISM

    A war against central planning/fascist Axis Powers in 1941, a Cold war against central planning USSR in the late 1940s, a war against Stalinist Korea in the 1950s, a war against Stalinist Vietnam in the 1960s, two wars against Baathist Iraq since the 1990s, a war on Islamic fascism/terrorism and threats to Iran because it has the potential to develop WMDs.

    If Iran joins the SCO (along with India, Pakistan and Mongolia) although not strictly a military pact like the CIS, what's this bunch of 'Central Planners' likely to do if Iran is attacked by Israel or the USA? Adding them all up they appear to comprise the majority of the planet.

    Is the SCO ever likely to welcome liberal-democracy given the mess it made of Russia and our own demographics? How can Bush credibly ask the rest of the world to embrace hands-off government whilst at the same time acknowledging that markets need regulating?

    How can 'small government' regulate markets? Mny people posting to blogs asking why governmnets don't do moe don't seem to appreciate that in our free-market libertarian democracies, the legislature basically passes laws to oil the wheels of free-enterprise. If one wants government to do more, one has to a) pay for it through higher taxes and a stronger public sector (which has been eroded over te last 30 years) and b) one has to relinquish some freedom. But as we keep hearing in these blogs, some people will do anything to preserve their 'freedom' - they'll attack, or threaten to attack fascist countries, essentially to keep it at bay in their own and thereby preserve the anarchistic, free-market from which they venally profit.

  • Comment number 38.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]
    If one prefers green apples to red apples is one a vile fruitist? Why is it that we tolerate Black, Asian and Jewish associations/websites, but not White?

    Through electing weaker and weaker (smaller) government over three decades have we not effectively made the country less democratic and more anarchistic?

    Hegemony.

  • Comment number 39.

    Barrie

    I like watching Fred Dibnah and always found him really entertaining except for the fact that he was a virtual alcoholic, Guinness or otherwise. Having had a fairly in depth engineering training and long time technical interest in most of the things Fred liked I must admit that he never came off as a competent engineer himself.

    He was pretty good at bullshiting, made up a lot of his alleged facts, no idea about railway history. Likewise his choice of any old bit of brass to put in the front wheel bearings of his steam tractor, which failed quick style. Also the piston covering up the steam admission port at the front end of the cylinder, obviously he had measured the boiler wrong, half an inch too short. Grinding out the port was a real bodge and I suspect that's why even after modification the tractor lacked real power. Sorry if I have destroyed the myth for anyone but he did make excellent comedy.

  • Comment number 40.

    Brossen99 (#29) You may be right - I respond much the same way when I see people popularising (and profiting from) a distortion of what's really the case. But then I remind myself that TV (and the media in general) is a facet of the entertainment/fantasy industry, where ratings are more important than truth. They are in the business of viewer/reader market share - nothing more.

    Newsnight will have to decide whether it's a serious, investigative, news programme or a populist (Focus Group driven) 'twiddly knob' shaped anachronism.

    Sady, it seems to be tilting towards the latter due to nefarious pressure from licence-fee-hostile lobby teams like Murdoch's and an ever dumbing consumer-base/electorate.

    It doesn't bode well.

  • Comment number 41.

    #36 Barrie

    Den is the Scottish equivalent of Dell, I walked through one yesterday definition 4.

    But I suppose if it is politicians you are referring to definition 2 might be more appropriate.

    http://dictionary.die.net/den

    Celtic Lion

  • Comment number 42.

    HALF A LOAF (THAT ME THAT IS) (#39)

    I am O'level Woodwork and ONC Chemistry (scraped). I have used the 'wrong' material and equipment for just about everything one can. I built, from the ground up, a chemical processing business 'misusing' so much stuff that I was able to compete with, and supply, a range of big names (via a big name 'front' who 'knew me'). When you are certain of what CAN'T be done (I reckon) applied technology is less fun, and discovery less frequent. The crux of my endeavours was building a continuous production, pressurised (250 psig) high MP wax dispersion device, that featured all domestic plumbing (stainless) and domestic fan-oven elements (straightened and run under immersion). Just the sort of thing I think Fred would have appreciated! Because I discovered stuff that was 'off the map', and my costs were held down, the business ran 35 years (until voluntary dissolution - bless the developers) and meantime, I had a ball. (:o)

    Barnes Wallis used to say: "Why Not?"
    I would say: "There's always another way". I now follow the 'Electric Universe', 'Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth' and a lot of other maverick stuff (very wary of orthodox climate models).
    My guiding principle is now: 'Disbelieve nothing - believe reluctantly'.

    Sincerely, in blogship, Barrie.

    PS My headmaster said: "Singleton, people like you don't get on." That'll do nicely. (:o)

  • Comment number 43.

    INFORM EDUCATE ENTERTAIN EVOLVE

    JJ's 'twiddly knob anachronism' sums up the Beeb. When I+E+E was the credo, it fitted the times. TODAY we need a BBC that informs, promotes and defends integrity in British life.

    It should be a cultural bastion, peopled by the wise and philosophical, who fearlessly tell it like it is. Let's have 'Wise Kindly Grandparent Broadcasting". WKGB: Sounds American - Nothing like America!

    What now passes for entertainment can safely be left to The 'Dante's Inferno Media'
    (DIM). As for education, I am amazed at the time it is taking to use broadcasting to a far greater effect. It should be it's own man (woman or don'tknow).



  • Comment number 44.

    QUOTE FOR TODAY: 'ECONONIC STORM'

    The Prince of Darkness was talking to Andrew Marr this morning. He used, twice, the (new to me) term: 'Economic Storm'. I had become quite fond of Global Turbulence, Credit Crunch and Downturn.

    I immediately infer there has been a meeting of the 'Word and Phrase Group', and 'Downturn' is now off the palette.
    I have always found Yvette Cooper the best barometer (thermometer?) of current claptrap, so will be watching for 'Economic Storm's' enthusiastic 'upturn'.

    I suppose, in the mind of a spin doctor, a storm is finite, and then the SUN COMES OUT?
    The odd yachtsman (ah - yachts are back) gets picked up by 'Labour Rescue',
    and then: on to the election! Hurrah.

  • Comment number 45.

    PERFECT STORM

    Time to drag this one out again?

    A generation, 30 years. Low TFR, high differential fertility and large scale immigration.

    It's dysgenics. Shayer is a tad misleading. He has a vested interest in cognitive acceleration programmes.

    It isn't pretty, but ask this hard nosed question: If this could be improved through teaching why hasn't it been? The hard nosed fact is that we have no evidence that we can raise IQ through teaching which is hardly surprising given the high heritability and that which is not genetic is probably down to pre and post natal damage.

  • Comment number 46.

    PATHFINDER PROGRAM (helping 'lost' people?)

    Hazel Blears - one of our most overtly disingenuous, obfuscating politicians, is trying to win hearts and minds of Muslims. She should start by persuading Whitehall politicians, cast in the same disgraceful mould as herself, to take on HONOUR and INTEGRITY, as a way of life. That way, even if she fails to get the attention of a single Muslim, she will get mine! There is certainly no better way to gain respect.

  • Comment number 47.

    IT'S ODD WHAT FOLK BELIEVE

    The root problem is that the majority of social workers, psychologists, teachers and 'social scientists' are unwitting Marxists in the sense that they don't question whether people behave the way that they do largely as a consequence of how they are physically (genetically) made. Instead, they believe (until they have years of sobering experience which enlightens them) that people can be molded through sprinklng verbal pixie dust. If one tries to put an old head on young shoulders they argue from inexperience......effectively telling one that they don't agree with reality.

    To have any hope of changing what's insidiously happening to the liberal-democracies there's going to have to a change to breeding and migration trends. Some of the 54 articles in the Lisbon Treaty's Charter of Fundamental Rights make that unlikely for EU member states, or at least, render future legal challenges more likely, further reinforcing the pernicious influence of political correctness.

    Did you of a Website of the European Monitoring Centre on Racist and Xenophobic phenomena. (EUMC "responsible for "gathering intelligence" on racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic phenomena and demonstrations in the Member States with the support of the European Racism and Xenophobia Information Network. (RAXEN)"

    That's Article 21:

    NON-DISCRIMINATION

    "1. Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.
    2. Within the scope of application of the Treaty establishing the European Community and of the Treaty on European Union, and without prejudice to the special provisions of those Treaties, any discrimination on grounds of nationality shall be prohibited."

    Does anyone see a problem?

  • Comment number 48.

    That's Article 21:

  • Comment number 49.

    FEEDING OFF ITSELF

    Good grief JJ. I am almost lost for words.
    The EU is getting a sort of fundamentalist feel to it. The governing body are distilling themselves out of reality, and the rate is increasing.

    It will be touch and go whether I end up dead or in jail first.

    Message ends.

  • Comment number 50.

    POT AND KETTLE

    "So the BNP started a process of "detoxification". They hit the streets with newsletters and petitions. Their website and blogs reached thousands. They played on people's apprehensions. They peddled pernicious but plausible lies. They attacked the political establishment, and presented themselves as "anti-politics"."
    H Blears MP, Sat 2nd Nov 2008, The Guardian

    "They played on people's apprehensions. They peddled pernicious but plausible lies. They attacked the political establishment" ...Hmmm... which party has been the most botorious peddler of "pernicious but plausible lies" in recent times whilst breaking up the establishment?

    She doesn't say what the "pernicious but plausible lies" are. Still, I guess the BNP will decide if it has a case of libel against her.

  • Comment number 51.

    FOOD FOR THOUGHT

    In the late C19th East European racism was white on white. It resulted in a mass exodus to London and New York, which in turn led to immigration legislation to curtail what was regarded as anti-statist politics from these recent, highly political, immigrants. This continues today, with immigration, feminism, human rights, and a host of other movements being used to undermine non Jewish European nationalism/hegemony. Why does this happen? My guess is that it comes down to a higher frequency of a genetic polymorphism of a gene on chromosome 6p21 which is reponsible for a critical step in the syntnesis of the sex steroids (estrogen and testosterone from cholesterol) by the adrenal glands. It's known as Non Classic Adrenal Hyperplasia. One of the peculiarities of this anomally is a higher responsivity to stress and a slight shift of the sexes in the opposite direction behaviourally. 1/3 of this group are carriers and 1/27 are homozygous. It is the most common autosomal recessive polymorphism known to man. CAH males tend not to be treated (with dexamethasone), and NCAH of either sex not at all.

    This is just a hypothesis, but the extra estrogen in affected males may account for their shorter stature (look out fior them in politics etc), it may account for their higher verbal than spatial ability, and possibly their higher neuroticism and Personality Disorders on Axis II Cluster B like NPD?

    See Charmandari et al. 2004. I hasten to add that other groups are also prone to this polymorphism, i.e. it is not unique to the above group, it's just much more common in this group (although it's still infrequent, meaning it's by no means typical of this group by any means).

  • Comment number 52.

    Jaded Jean As a newby here, may I ask you a question? I have read that the gene for intelligence is only on the x chromosome, do you think that is right? If it is surely men should chose more wisely when selecting a partner to procreate.

    I can't find the original article but did find this.

    http://discovermagazine.com/2005/oct/sex

  • Comment number 53.

    ULTIMATE CHOICE (#52)

    Hi Lizzy! I am under the impression I understood much of that link - thanks!

    However, is it not more a matter of choosing ones parents CAREFULLY - mother, anyway?

    This bears on my repeated assertion that human culture should stress the fundamental right NOT TO BE CONCEIVED. All else is secondary. (Our 'willy-nilly' culture being crass.)

  • Comment number 54.

    ecolizzy (#52) To the best of my knowledge, a qualified no, but I do suspoect the sex-chromosomes are involved. What I say below is a simplification, but it's more of less right.

    Whilst some attention has been paid to the sex chromosomes, it's been to areas which both the X and Y share, the homologue areas at the tips, the Pseudo Autosomal Region (PAR) - cf. protocadherin) and the work has looked at cerebral asymmetry and language. There's actually very little good Molecular Genetic research on intelligence, and that which there is ha focused on autosomal genes not the sex chromosomes. It's widely held that the genetic contribution is likely to be polygenic, i.e. a Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) rather than a single gene. This makes the research extremely difficult statistically. To the best of my knowledge, there is currently no impressive Molecular Genetic research on intelligence, the evidence rather is from what's called Quantitative Genetics. Twin studies etc indicate that there is high heritability, but pinning in down biochemically is still a long way off.

    There's also bit of a myth/confusion about the sex chromosomes. People say females have two X chromosomes and males just one. This is true, but females don't have two active X chomosomes in most of their (somatic) cells - the second one is (largely) inactivated (there are individual differences in how much the second is inactivated, it starts at the centromere and works out to the telomere). In fact, females only have two X chomosomes active in their gametes (ova), and of course, there, one egg will have one X and another a different one (randomly speaking). In fact, males and females are quite similar in terms of sex chomosome gene dosage, except for the above mentioned female extra dosage through incomplete inactivation. males are less prone to X linked disorders because unlike males, they have one X randomly inactivated very early on in cell division.

    Bottom line - not enough is known about the Molecular Genetic basis of intelligence.

  • Comment number 55.

    erratum: "Females are less prone to X linked disorders because unlike males, they have one X randomly inactivated very early on in cell division."

    That is they have a 50-50% chance of inactivating a mutant gene, affected males, only having on X, are stuck with it. As I say, there is a lot of unwittingly misleading material out there, (and I'm hoping that I'm not being misleading).

  • Comment number 56.

    #54/55Thanks JJ : ) Yes I did follow you fairly well, but I'm no scientist! I particularly understood your points in the second paragraph, I'd assumed that females did have two active x chromosomes.

    Yes I had already guessed your correction! : )

    From the few posts I've read of yours I can see that intelligence is of strong interest to you. My youngest child is a new teacher and I'm constantly amazed at how little the children know. They don't seem as well informed as my peers were, but perhaps I was just naive about how much we really knew. But there does seem a general sloppiness about people nowadays they don't seem to want to learn, just be entertained all the time. There seems no ambition, and people seem so dejected and even repressed.

    #53BS I don't quite understand, how can a feotus decide who it's parent's are? Or am I missing a punny here! ; ) But if you're saying more contraception, I'm with you there!

  • Comment number 57.

    'PUNNY' THE ULTIMATE PUN!!! (#56)

    Hi Eco. I love 'thinking behind the arras', and paradox. We hear so much about human rights, but no one ever seems to realise that most sperm and eggs never get to see the light of day (or feel the stress of night). No howl of affront goes up - even from the Vatican.

    Unless one is into reincarnation - in the way of souls wanting/needing to return and do a bit more on the wheel - no one regrets never existing. But life is a Hell (advisedly) of a lottery; why else would we have recourse to so many pairs of cerebral rose tinted glasses?

    Those unfortunates who find they left the rose-specs in the womb, when they irreversibly latched the front door, have a really tough time; and the rest suffer more than they care to admit. (The current truth-avoidance about money, is a perfect parallel in mundane life.)

    But while there are discoveries to be made, such as the ultimate pun: 'punny' I'll stay a bit longer . . .

  • Comment number 58.

    I am hoping that as "Zimbabwe's rival political leaders are due to meet on Tuesday to salvage a power-sharing deal." there may be a piece on that tonight.

    To save time with the goose steppers I am very content that the people of Zimbabwe are able to handle their own affairs.

    So no need for spurious statistics that the general scientific community (but on previous posts they are all Jews aren't they) don't accept about race, IQ and political systems.

    There is no evidence to support the notion of racial superiority.

    Some posters could consider less verbage and more facts.

  • Comment number 59.

    ecolizzy (#56) There was a time when individual differences in cognitive ability was central to psychology (both academic and applied). Concern about deterioration in national ability levels goes back to at least the 1930s. What bothers me today is that there are so many people who presume that it's just a matter of teaching people required skills, but a) they don't seem to know what learning is, and b) they assume that people's 'capacities' are (to use a Popperian image) like unfilled buckets rather than variable powered searchlights which are selected, shaped and directed.

    I think you're right, we're deteriorating. , Part of the problem is large scale immigration of low skilled people and the other is that many bright females these days are not having children, choosing instead to work and be independent. I think I've analysed the problem correctly, but in our Liberal-Democracies I don't see there being a solution, so I can only dysgenesis getting worse.

    The X chromosome misapprehension is very common. You'l even find it in scientific papers, in text books etc, i.e. places where one would expect not to find it. But then lots of people believe things which are not true as you'll see in these blogs. Sometimes there's no correcting them either as they think they're entitled to their beliefs :-(.

  • Comment number 60.

    PS

    Not so much 'more contraception' - though that might be a consequence.
    I seek more cultural REVERENCE for what is set in train when a highly sentient life is created.

    If there were a COSMIC TEST for fitness-to-create-and-parent, I doubt any of us would pass.

  • Comment number 61.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 62.

    Golly, this is getting almost Glenrothian in reluctance to start a thread about the day's events in advance of the sparkly 'interpretation' of them that we have come to know and... well... know a bit longer, at least.

    As I am not as well versed as many... most... in the fine details of economics and financial prudence it's all getting very hard to comprehend, so I was hoping to get the fine minds that still inhabit this blog to help.

    On a national scale the logic seems to be to 'help' by borrowing lots more. From whom? Everyone seems to be borrowing from everyone else. I 'know' (because Mr. Brown and the BBC tells me) it's all America's fault, but are Messrs Brown and Obama simply borrowing from each other?

    And, having borrowed, a few minor twiddles are trumpeted that seem to be based on the public going out and blowing what little they have left or saved 'to stimulate things'.

    Meanwhile I learn that in my county, Herefordshire, the number of 'public sector workers' numbers 1 in 5.

    Is me popping down to Argos with my VAT refund to splurge on Xmas tat supposed to pay for them? And my kids their pensions?

  • Comment number 63.

    REALITY DENIAL?

    thegangofone (#58)

    Question: Are there differences between Cox, Braeburn, Granny-Smith and Bramley apples apart from differences in skin colour? Are some types of apple superior to others for certain recipes? If one says yes, is one a (vile) 'appleist'?

    Question: Are there differences between Greyhounds, Terriers, Poodles and Great Danes? Are some breeds superior to others for racing, as guide-dogs etc? If one says yes, is one a (vile) 'dogist'?

    It's all about language. We have laws to protect people from unfair discrimination not proscribing discrimination per se. The latter is central to all intelligent behaviour. Without it, we'd treat everything as the same, we'd have no use for nouns etc.

  • Comment number 64.

    JOIN THE LEAGUE AGAINT PREJUDICE.

    I'll collect the subs.

  • Comment number 65.

    Go1 #58

    I know Zim very well. I have known her since she was Rhodesia when she was a beautiful and prosperous country. I still have family there.

    It is self evident that the people of Zim are not able to handle their own affairs. Else why would their economy be in ruins, why would they still be killing each other, why would they poison their own land and why would the country still be wracked by AIDS?

    There is a large and solid body of evidence supporting the 'notion' of racial differences.

    "Some posters should consider less verbage and more facts." Couldn't agree more old chap.

  • Comment number 66.

    #63 JJ

    I think a few days ago Barrie in humour asked if a professor would say black people ran faster then whites.

    I thought this was accepted I am sure work was done on it can't find refs.

    http://www.jonentine.com/reviews/Daily_Express_9_8_2000.htm

    http://sportsmedicine.about.com/od/anatomyandphysiology/a/MuscleFiberType.htm

    Now it doesn't bother me that black people might be a few tenths quicker over a 100 metres genetically than me. There is also variation across white genetics. Whites have different body types.

    Returning to sport look at world strongest man competitions. See how the Scandinavian countries are always well represented in strength.

    Now I worked as a groundworker for 8 years. Gruelling 8-12 hour days, strength and endurance, often wet and cold. I have never met a black race groundworker.

    2 years ago I was working just south of the Cairngorms as a shuttering joiner. In Nov/ Dec the puddles were frozen all day. A couple of miles to the north, just a few fields really, the mountains suddenly got really serious.

    While working we could see a white out appearing and see the blizzard heading towards us. Someone would always notice it and shout a warning. Snow 1 mile. Bang we were in white out conditions, screaming winds battering us.

    I was working with blokes from Shetland we just laughed and carried on working. It made no difference to us. Guess how many black race worked on that site.

    We have to accept there are differences, horses for courses. Ecolizzy in another post talked about not minding the cold up here. My experience having moved up here a few years ago, it is the light. Though not really the Arctic circle, this is a bit further north than the borders.

    Around 3 in the afternoon it is starting to get dark. If you are in the mountains the sun can disappear a lot earlier, then in seconds the temperature drops. The seasons are a roller coaster, in June the sky is still light at the horizon at 2 in the morning. In winter you accept the darkness.

    Just as there are variations in climate and environment, can we not accept certain variations in genetics to go with them?

    A very blue eyed (Viking not Celtic?) lion.

  • Comment number 67.

    CL #66

    ":A very blue eyed (Viking not Celtic?) lion."

    Much Viking blood mixed with Scots. Most of it 'peacefully'. When I had hair it was blonde to go with my blue eyes, my mother came from Fort William.

    We also get a strip of brown fat down our backs which remains with us throughout life. I'm told that is why I don't 'feel the cold'. Most folk lose it after the first few months of life. I'm not sure of this but I have read that black folk do not have it at all. (Any anatomists out there?) But they get loads of melanin so they don't burn in sunny climes. Seems reasonable.

    Yes, many differences between races.

  • Comment number 68.

    #66, #67 - I suspect/fear there may be some who post amongst us who do not subscribe to the 'view' that we are what we are, and we behave as we do because of how we are physically (genetically) consitutued. For them, our bodies are just repositories for a soul, or 'mind' and all souls/minds not being corporeal, are equal.

    It's all I can conclude from what otherwise appears to be a blatant, dogmatic, rejection of scientific evidence. Either that they are a)not very smart or b) subversives.

    One of the most persuasive hypotheses for the slightly higher mean IQ of North Europeans and East Asians is that as they migrated out of Africa and went North, the harsh climate culled many and selected those who built, engineered, clothed, manufactured and hunted well against the odds. There's also less UV at these latitudes, so mutation of melanin, change of diet to oily fish to get Vitamin D and protection against ricketts etc. Add in assortive mating and you get divergence in genes from those they left behind, and with it, divergence in behaviour, habits..

    This all happened 30-100,000 years ago. Some still believe the Earth was created just over 5000 years ago of course, and their calendar reflects this. It is heresy for some to believe otherwise.

  • Comment number 69.

    SPARTACUS

    The excuse for behaving this way is that allegedly, other people persecute (or irrationally just don't like) them. The truth of the matter is that what is practiced and disliked is a classic female psychological tactic (largely unwitting) which is used instead of physical force given that females don't have the strength, to deflect criticism of selfish, narcissistic behaviour (females put a lot of store by image/appearance/public relations - something Islamic countries try to curtail)

    One should be wise to what this is - i.e. a facet of the battle of the sexes. But note, sex is not entirely genitally based here, some males behave this way, and some females do not, some groups are more feminised some less so. People who care about one another (including parents and their progeny) fight, not to hurt one another, but as sparring (play-fighting) in order to practice, and protect against less benevolent (genetically related) adversaries.

 

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