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The Glass Box for Wednesday

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Eddie Mair | 16:36 UK time, Wednesday, 22 August 2007

What did you think of the programme?


  1. At 05:42 PM on 22 Aug 2007, FoeFoe wrote:

    Ah, fixed the Glass Box already, I see!

    . . .

    My friend Lin and I should be jailbirds by now.

    I took Lin to her first ever experience of the Rocky Horror Show at a Theatre Royal in a northern city that shall be nameless.

    During the song You're A Hot Dog, she and I were enthusiastically throwing cocktail chipolatas into the Stalls from the Dress Circle.

    One of these lodged either in the elaborate coiffure of the lady in the row in front of us, or in her capacious decolletage.

    ...it was a long time ago. I have always been very, very sorry and never threw a chipolata in anger again.

    Question: should I be deported to Scotland?


  2. At 05:45 PM on 22 Aug 2007, JimmyGiro wrote:

    Bush is a dingbat. If the Yanks had not gone into Vietnam there would probably have never been a Pol Pot or the killing fields of Cambodia.

    As for being a danger to the US by leaving Iraq, does that imply culpability to the erroneous logic of needing to attack Iraq in the first place, so as to make the US safe!?

  3. At 05:55 PM on 22 Aug 2007, beetee wrote:

    Was someone trying to take a pot shot at the philosopher at his lovely party?

  4. At 05:56 PM on 22 Aug 2007, Sheila wrote:

    I have discovered that slugs can't tolerate plain old vinegar. Cotton wool (or similar) soaked in this keeps slugs and snials at bay. Just keep the vinegar off theh plants as it accts as a good week killer too!!

  5. At 05:57 PM on 22 Aug 2007, African wrote:

    Don't if my first attempt worked so i apologise in advance if this goes twic.

    Here we go aagin, another western do-gooder, would rather give us Aid than accept our trade or products.

    She and her colleagues want to invent a new world trade system which means we Africans won't trade with the West in the traditional way.

    Food for thought, Nigeria barely produces 3000MW of electricity, UK produces over 300,000MW for less than half Nigeria population! and it's our African framers who are killing planet by flying some perishable produce over to Europe

  6. At 05:59 PM on 22 Aug 2007, African wrote:

    Don't if my first attempt worked so i apologise in advance if this goes twice

    Here we go again, another western do-gooder, would rather give us Aid than accept our trade or products.

    She and her colleagues want to invent a new world trade system which means we Africans won't trade with the West in the traditional way. Meanwhile we shouldn't trade whilst we wait for this new way!

    Food for thought, Nigeria barely produces 3000MW of electricity, UK produces over 300,000MW for less than half Nigeria population! and it's our African framers who are killing planet by flying some perishable produce over to Europe

  7. At 06:02 PM on 22 Aug 2007, John Lomas wrote:

    With reference to David Cameron's proposals to deal with society's problems.

    One of the measures proposed is to stop young offenders driving.

    How on earth does he propose to do this without totally maiming them.

    Removal of existing licences and refusal to let younger offenders get a provisional in the first place would have absolutely no efect on these offenders.

    There are estimated to be 1.2 million uninsured drivers in Britain, a large number of these are also unlicenced.

    Since the introduction of the New Driver Act new drivers who have amassed 6points in their first 2 yrs have had their licences revoked, they have only to reapply for their provisional and retake their 2 tests (Theory and Practical) to be back on the road, and yet around 73,000 of them have NOT done this.
    Are they just not driving? No.
    Have they tried to re-pass their tests?
    No, not if the experience of my colleagues in driving instruction is anything to go by.
    We just don't have them coming for lessons, other than in very small numbers.

    If this is the attitude of "normal" young people, who have just fallen foul of traffic law whether by carelessness or deliberately, how much notice of "You Can't Drive" are out and out villains going to take?

  8. At 06:12 PM on 22 Aug 2007, mac wrote:

    In 2002 at Queens and Coltrane Universities I told the economics departments there that the DUP and Sinn Fein were the obvious bed fellows for successful NI government.
    The analysis followed easily from elementary considerations in social choice theory.
    Whilst the style resonances between the two are working well as a force of unity, the proper policy content of the alliance has yet to emerge, it appears.
    The source of that policy alliance is of course to be seen in the endless rows of mean houses that working class cats and prots have had to endure.
    The united policy is simply one of redistribution from the NI middle class, cat and prot alike to those impoverished communities. And from those members of the bourgeoisie who slip across the border to enjoy their ill gotten gains.
    Your report contained a contribution from an NI political economist who is surely against all government spending of every sort, if I identify him correctly. The unemployment and the housing stock for working class people there and the standard of living of so many in employment makes government aid from London, and to some extent perhaps from Dublin, very, very necessary.

  9. At 06:14 PM on 22 Aug 2007, Steve Westaway wrote:

    Given the headline reporting about the immigration figures yesterday and the emmigration figures today - I would have expected to have had the conservative spokesman who lambasted the government invited back so we could have heard his argument in the contect of both figures -
    Yesterday - it seemed to me - that the only person who made sense was the representative of the Polish workers who made exactly the point that today figures confirm.

  10. At 06:20 PM on 22 Aug 2007, mac wrote:

    The real problem was America's presence in the first place and France's before her.

    Eisenhower said it was pointless giving south east asians the vote, they would only vote communist.

    If you attack the majorities who oppose you in countries across the world until each country retreats into barbarism, its your fault for being there and doing that. The remedy is not to stay longer but to give these countries the slim chance of recovering by getting out now, Yanqui.

    Your attacks on democracy, theoretical and real, are bringing the world to its knees.

    (Catch Discussion 25 at the link - not 22, ho!ho!)

    I swear we are on the wrong side in the fight for majority voting if we do not fight America.

  11. At 06:24 PM on 22 Aug 2007, Elizabeth Smith wrote:

    I was fascinated by the article about shops stocking specially large sizes for obese children. I wish shops would also stock 'old' sizes for my slim, healthy daughters aged 8 and 10. They are exactly the same size that my sister and I were 40 years ago, at which time we were able to buy clothes which fitted us perfectly. I do not remember large waists and baggy dimensions ever being an issue for us.

    Why does noone ever talk about the knock on effect of childhood obesity on normal, slim, fit children? My 2 daughters are unable to find any trousers which fit them round the waist. The clothes chains have made the proportions of children’s clothes more and more generous in recent years and now they have introduced ‘tabs’ at the waist which allow slim kids to pull the waist in to a smaller size. This may sound a good idea but it means that they walk round with great wadges of material all gathered up round their waists, making their willowy figures look bulky and shapeless.

    When they buy skirts, dresses and shorts the girls now buy clothes for a child 3 or 4 years younger (my 10 year old buys shorts for 6-7) but in the case of trousers they need the length associated with their real age and so they cannot find anything to fit.

    If the chain stores expected all slim women to wear clothes designed for a size 18 but pulled in with tabs to fit a size 10 there would be a riot. Why is it acceptable for children?

    My daughters will only get the chance to wear trousers which fit once they are adults and can buy slim fittings. There ought to be ‘slim fittings’ for children. It is very unfair that slim kids have to pay the price for the overweight. Slim children will start to think there is something wrong with them because clothes off the peg imply that they ought to be chunkier and need adjustment – as if slimness is a problem and obesity is normal.

  12. At 06:28 PM on 22 Aug 2007, Squirrel wrote:

    Q: FoeFoe (1) "should I be deported to Scotland?"

    A: That depends.. Are you a net contributor to the ENGLISH economy? ..or not, because you send all your money back to Scotland and your children's education costs more than the taxes you pay?


  13. At 06:38 PM on 22 Aug 2007, K.M.NELSON wrote:

    Are food miles fair miles?
    I listened with interest to your news article regarding the carbon footprint of produce sourced from Kenya. This debate is important and necessary, especially if it is not to be hijacked by merchants of misinformation and fear of the unknown. It is not fair or right to penalise produce from Kenya and other developing countries by piggybacking on carbon footprint, countries whose overall co2 emissions are no where near the Western worlds minimum. The current recommendations amounts to trade embargo through the back door and should be discouraged before we loose the arguments. Produce grown under the sun in Kenya has the lowest carbon footprint when compared to produce grown in greenhouses and intensive production systems in Europe. It is the supply chains in Europe and shoppers habits which contribute a significant percentage of the carbon emissions associated with such products and consumers need to told extractly that, not a sugar coated response like the one from the MEP you interviewed. Kenya needs trade not aid, and innovative aid as alluded to in the MEPs response is long past sell by date. If the idea is to safe the planet by maintaining current life and ensuring future sustainability, which we all subscribe to, then Kenyan produce is the solution and not the problem. The best option for a low carbon product enjoyed by many in the North while sustaining many livelihoods in Kenya.

  14. At 07:09 PM on 22 Aug 2007, Roger Mellie wrote:

    ..how to keep slugs at bay?

    .......chuck cocktail sausages at them..

    Vis ( its the way we bl**dy do it )

  15. At 07:11 PM on 22 Aug 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    K M Nelson (13),

    "If the idea is to safe the planet by maintaining current life and ensuring future sustainability"

    Then it's clearly an idea spawned in an insane asylum.


  16. At 07:21 PM on 22 Aug 2007, Gillian wrote:

    What a wonderful birthday party.....a Real-Life F*c*b**k! Someone should invite the host to join us Froggers!

  17. At 07:25 PM on 22 Aug 2007, mac wrote:

    What about the Kenyan flowers industry?

    Its carbon foot print is apparently less than those of lfowers grown in England, comparing carbon content at the garage forecourt.

    But is that the point? The wages paid in those industries are derisory in Kenya.

    Worse, the flowers are grown on prime land where only a few hundred miles further north people are on the edge of starvation all the time.

    If land is tied up in green bean and chrysanthemum and carnation production for English markets whilst people to the north starve it is no answer to to point to the relative carbon efficiency of the specialisation.

    Why is that land not used for producing food to be sent north? If the people there had the money to pay for good food would Kenya still be growing beans and blooms for England? (That's a genuine question. The answer on input - output analysis might be 'Yes', but I doubt it)

    I wish the starving of northern Kenya and southern Sudan and in Ethiopia and Somalia had bigger carbon footprints than they do.

    If these peopel should be fed by the White Highlands (which they surely should) tnen indeed flying green beans and red roses to London would be wrong economically nad ecologically.

    African and Nelson, if what I am indicating is the right restructuring of the Kenyan agricultural effort and the White Highlands are finally used properly how else is that to be achieved except by aid?

    Maybe Natasha Kaplinski can tell us given her stunning seires of programmes during the BBC Africa week 2005, when she returned to Kenya where she was educated and interviewed some of the women who put carnations into bunches and then into bits of cellophane for us on Valentines day.
    She was not able apparently to interview any of the starving to the north. Well, thats show biz,

  18. At 07:33 PM on 22 Aug 2007, Squirrel wrote:

    I understand that if I buy locally farmed fruit & veg while it is in season, that reduces my "carbon footprint" by reducing it's "food miles".

    But what if I want something that's not in season? With recent weather in the UK, this could soon include potatoes! What if I fancy a mango even?

    Can anyone tell me if it is "better" to buy food grown in a field and having AIR "food miles".. or.. Is it better to buy food with less "food miles" but which has been grown in a heated greenhouse?

    Also, are people generally aware that when they buy "locally produced" food in a supermarket, it may well have many more "food miles" than you would expect? Often fresh food is exported for sorting, packing, processing, etc before returning to the UK for distribution.

  19. At 07:35 PM on 22 Aug 2007, Edward Wheatley wrote:

    The reason for the increase in emigration is painfully clear to everyone outside the BBC.

    It’s white flight, folks !

    The NHS: the social services: law and order: transport: housing: not to mention our way of life and old-fashioned values have all cracked under the pressure of mass immigration.

    I’m a 70 year old pensioner but if I were 10 years younger or £100 a week better off and could find somewhere that would have me, I’d be off too.

    One thing is certain - things can only get worse !

  20. At 07:43 PM on 22 Aug 2007, mac wrote:

    I should perhaps add that Natasha Kaplinski was visibly upset during the interviews with African flower women.

    She was distressed that none of them seemed camera conscious and willing to interpret a statement ending on a rising tone as a question. Poor Natasha suffered huge embarassment on their behalf as she had to give some of the women as many as three cues.

    The effect of this programme supporting Kenyan trade on giving to the then running starvation funds is not recorded.

    Natasha returned to England to Celebrity Come Dancing success. The African women still pack our carnations for us.

    That is the poverty of our history.

  21. At 07:49 PM on 22 Aug 2007, stewart m wrote:

    e smit(11) We too have normal i.e.slim kids. Agree that whilst the tabs to take waists of trousers in are a great idea. its a fudge. Never though about it in "adult" sizes but yes we would all be angry if trousers were in a 40 waist and we rucked them up to fit. There must be demand for slim fits.

  22. At 08:18 PM on 22 Aug 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Stewart M (21):

    Actually I *am* angry that adult sized trousers are 40" waist and above. Not always, but I often find that trousers start at 36" and get ever larger so there's nothing for me at 32". I was looking for T-shirts at the weekend and the smallest available were for 39-40" chests a good 3-4" too big for me.

    And don't het me started on this strange fad of having extra trouser pockets almost at knee level. What kind of gorilla-men are buying trousers in my local shops? What could possibly be the point of pockets that you have to bend double to get into?

  23. At 09:09 PM on 22 Aug 2007, peter samsom wrote:

    With reference to both slugs and beans, I planted just 11 bean plants in my greenhouse in early May and 5 of those survived the slug onslaught. We've been eating beans about once a week since the middle of June and are now about to move on to the ones grown outside. No fuel, just sunlight; no transport other than walking to the allotment; no supermarket and on the plate within minutes. We're in the middle of the bean season, surely no need to import them from anywhere.

  24. At 09:46 PM on 22 Aug 2007, Anne P. wrote:

    Sheila (4)- thanks for the tip about vinegar I shall try it tomorrow. Never had such a bad year for slugs and was coming to the conclusion I'd have to build a wall of copper around the entire plot. Beer traps and nematodes usually work but not this year.

  25. At 10:10 PM on 22 Aug 2007, mac wrote:

    The markets up 2 percent in London. Another 30 billion safely in the coffers of the rich.

    I am told the Christian housing groups that tried to fund poor peoples housing in America, taking advantage of the low interset rates after the dot com boom bubble burst, are now regularly going into bankruptcy in the States.

    As we stash away the extra billions we can be sure that the guilty have been brought to book - i.e. those with the temerity to try to house the poor at only 2 percent above prime rates.

    When it should have been 10 percent of course. Then markets wouldn't have lost 'confidence'.

    Which term I still say is better described as 'brass neck'.
    The overall losses were small beer to world markets. When they, the financiers, have these attacks of conscience, feeling that they can't continue to get away with the scam that is their international finance captal pricing, they always find a scapegoat.

    Their own nerve fails them from time to time and then their current minor difficulty is called the cause of their loss of sheer arrogance.
    The scapegoat is usually someone more obviously dishonest than even them. This time its the goodly weak.

    And given how tied in to the teat of world markets we are here they will always find apologists too, Simon Worrall.

  26. At 11:20 PM on 22 Aug 2007, mac wrote:

    America has failed in Iraq.

    She is occupying a sovereign country with 200,000 troops. That is defeat for America.

    There is widespread killing and lawlessness there despite the UN requirement that America maintains a civil society there. That is defeat for America.

    The people of Iraq want America to leave their country. That is defeat for America.

    The best and the strongest of Iraq society are prepared to fight to get rid of America. That is defeat for America.

    Damned Yanquis, go home! In the name of God, GO!!!

  27. At 11:41 PM on 22 Aug 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Thanks for the namecheck Mac, I love you too!

    What you've kind of overlooked in your ferocious bigotry and hatred is that the long article I submitted on Monday last week was a reply to Witchiwoman, explaining in relatively simple terms how the markets got into their predicament, since she had expressed a total lack of understanding. It was not an apologia for the money markets.

    It didn't delve into the bitter dislike of a tiny minority for a free market system. It didn't express any liking for dealers, market-makers, bankers and the whole gamut of people who work in those fields. Nor did it express any dislike of them, which I guess is what upset you?

    It was not an attempt to take sides, nor to delve into the strange exoticness of derivatives, futures, short-selling and all the peculiar ways that the worlds stock markets work. But it tried to simply explain how a piece of idiocy committed in the mortgage markets of the USA caused mayhem around the world.

    I'm truly sorry if you feel that I've let you down by not being as narrow-minded or as monothematic and biased as yourself.

    Actually forget that. I'm damned glad that I can take a dispassionate view of these events.

    My crime, as you would see it, is that I don't believe that directed economies work. History gives examples from the USSR and China under Mao. Every attempt at a centralised economy failed because people didn't put the work in when there was no prospect of reward for their effort awaiting them. Whether you like the free market system, or hate it, it has survived for centuries, through barter to currency-based systems. Nothing better has ever emerged.

    Every person is entitled to receive the best remuneration for their effort and/or skill. Every person has equal value as a human being (which gets very close to the bone on the Learco Chindamo thread). But not everybody has the same economic value. Whether for good or evil societies throughout history have determined that some people attract greater remuneration than others.

    Items and commodities have also attracted variable prices at all times. Gold has always been admired, that admiration determines its value. Van Gogh's work is much admired and that sets its value. Innocent's smoothies are expensive, but people pay for them. Organic fruit & veg is more expensive than alternatives, but increasing numbers buy them. The true value of any particular thing is what someone is willing to pay for it. So it is with human labour and skills. So it is with stocks, shares and bonds.

    At times throughout recent history traders have lost a measure of common sense and traded in commodities and other financial instruments at prices in excess of what they are realistically valued at. Such overpricing is usually hauled in by corrections, or more rarely crashes or bursting bubbles. One can only observe a bubble after the burst.

    On one specific point you mentioned; Those housing groups plainly borrowed money which, in the event of a rise in interest rates, they could not afford to repay. They gambled without taking due cognisance of their risk. They lost. That's harsh on them, but an accurate fact. They should not have borrowed the money, the lender should never have lent it to them. Both took an unwarranted risk. Both have probably lost as a result.

    Don't make the mistake of misjudging me as some kind of market apologist or flunky. I don't bow down to Mammon. But I don't hate it either. It's a mere tool, a means to an end, like a car, a computer, a paintbrush, a pad of paper and a pencil.

    My observation is that those who complain loudest about it are those who envy others for what they have and which they desire for themselves. They end up full of hatred because they don't have it themselves and they feel they're entitled to it. I dare say that if you were a City dealer than you'd have a radically different opinion of the entire process?

    This post won't change a thing. You'll continue to hate others because they have something you want. You'll continue to rail against the inequality of it all. You'll continue to revel in every fall, no matter how many ordinary people it hurts. You'll continue to have an attack of the miseries with every rise, no matter how small, no matter that it will improve the pensions of those same people.

    Is there anything more to you than this ongoing and single-track vitriol about the markets? If there's more to Mac than this please show yourself.


  28. At 12:23 AM on 23 Aug 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    My mother used to make a lot of my clothes when I was a child. Might that help those of you who are concerned that your slim children cannot fit much shop-bought clothing?

  29. At 12:26 AM on 23 Aug 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    My mother used to make a lot of my clothes when I was a child. Might that help those of you who are concerned that your slim children cannot fit much shop-bought clothing?

    I'm surprised by what you say about children's clothing, because I honestly don't see great numbers of obese youngsters around: I've long thought the stories of increased weight problems amongst young people to be mostly scare-mongering.

  30. At 01:13 AM on 23 Aug 2007, squirrel wrote:

    Simon (27) :

    Shelter (housing) shouldn't really be a matter of 'risk' and interest rate changes in a modern society should it?

    Are you really saying that those unable to grasp the complex world market system deserve to be made homeless? Do people who have lost all their pension fund because they were given bad 'advice' by the finacial 'experts' only have themselves to blame?

    My point is that people who don't work in the city, have no control over these crazed market movements. At the same time they have no choice about labouring to support those who have the control. Is that ok? Just a fact of life?

  31. At 01:59 AM on 23 Aug 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Mac (26),

    America is failing worldwide, and dragging its poodle along with it:

    New York - The US is losing the war on terror. That's the assessment of the nation's top foreign-policy, intelligence, and national-security leaders from across the ideological spectrum. In this year's Terrorism Index, a survey released Monday by Foreign Policy magazine, 84 percent of these experts believe the nation is losing the war on terror, while more than 90 percent say the world is growing more dangerous for Americans.

    See my namelink above for an interesting summary view


  32. At 09:04 AM on 23 Aug 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Mac, Simon...

    Markets are an utterly hopeless way to run an economy. So are any attempts to have a directed economy.

    Basically economies are broken by their very nature and there's never going to be a properly working one. Mostly free markets - where there is proper regulation and independent scrutiny - are probably the best we're likely to get. Still rubbish though.

    Exactly the same as governments; democracy is a flawed and near useless system of government. It's still better than all the alternatives.

  33. At 09:34 AM on 23 Aug 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    No, that's emphatically NOT what I'm saying. Your first sentence cannot be faulted for accuracy. But if housing should not be a matter of risk and interest rate changes (down as well as up, don't forget!) then the charities of which Mac spoke should not have been gambling by borrowing money in the markets, should they? By doing that they have explicitly accepted risk of rate rises.

    Don't want the risk? Take out a mortgage fixed for its entire duration, they're starting to be available out there now. The French, for example, have had them for years. My parents mortgage on their house in France was 15 years fixed throughout. It's subject to exchange rate fluctuations, but not interest rate changes.

    Those rises have duly arrived, after a time of unprecedentedly low rates, and some borrowers have been caught out. Whoever carried out their risk assessment and due diligence should be fired. So should the lenders who lent to them without carrying out a similar analysis of the risk and ability to repay.

    All investment is a gamble, those selling investments in the U.K. have been obliged for years to include a disclaimer that "the value of investments can go down as well as up".

    And advice can only be seen after the fact to have been either bad or good. I don't suppose that any responsible Financial Adviser sells a product in the belief that it will fail. Those who take their responsibility seriously (the overwhelming majority, I hope) simply use the information they have at their disposal to guide people to the best investment for their individual circumstances. If some people have suffered loss because their investment has turned out to be poor in hindsight then that is regrettable, but that is the nature of gambling. Sometimes you back the horse that ends up as dogmeat.

    So, in answer to another of your questions, anyone who gambles by investing only has themselves to blame if they end up losing. It's the golden rule of gambling; Don't gamble if you can't afford to lose. The warnings are there to be read and understood. Ignore at your peril.

    Are these facts of life? Undoubtedly 'Yes'. This is the way that global markets work. "Crazed market movements"? Not often, this has been one of those things that come around from time to time. Most of the time the markets move a little each day, up or down, with a rising trend. These latest perturbations are very much the exception, rather than the rule.


  34. At 10:09 AM on 23 Aug 2007, Paul wrote:

    On slugs. As an extremely eager gardener with a good size well stocked cottage garden I have to say that I have actually noticed a decrease in slugs and slug damage this year. I think this is partly because I plant heavily to take account of any slug damage which also attracts lots of wildlife which feed on them. On crops I tend to surround the beds with dwarf annuals which the slugs do eat.

    About ten years ago I decided to go out at night, collect the slugs in order to kill them. I didn't feel good about it, so I took them to the woodland area at the back of the house and set them free.

    The point I'm trying to make is that on occassions we appear to be a little obsessed with destroying slugs, snails indeed, most insect life in the garden. I prefer to work with them rather than being in a constant state of 'horror' at their existance.

  35. At 10:19 AM on 23 Aug 2007, donald holden wrote:

    May I agree with Edward Wheatley regarding the causes of emigration, and note that the countries to which the majority of Brits are going have a far more robust attitude to whom they give citizenship.
    Age does lend a perspective to the vast changes wrought to this country, and what many would view as an increase in brutishness,and ignorance, coupled with a political class in thrall to money and political correctness which views the voter's opinions with contempt.
    It seems telling that no option appeared to have been given to emigrants to state as a reason for leaving that Britain is finished! ,if it had I suspect it may have been the first choice.
    Donald Holden

  36. At 10:56 AM on 23 Aug 2007, Belinda wrote:


    I tend to go through my garden by hand and then fling the slugs through to the air to a few metres away, where there is a conveniently placed bunch of weeds. I have been doing this for a few weeks now, and my vegetables/plants are all largely fine* while the weed area has been eaten.
    I also use the Guinness in a saucer option occasionally, although it did disturb me to find out that slugs and i have the same taste in drinks.

    *Well, those which haven't been drowned by the weather.

  37. At 11:00 AM on 23 Aug 2007, Gonzo wrote:

    On eating slugs, apparently it isn't necessarily safe...


  38. At 11:05 AM on 23 Aug 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    In light of Edward and Donald's posts regarding reasons to leave Britain, etc.;

    Edward makes the very bold assertion that it is "White flight", with its ugly implication of inter-ethnic problems in our multi-cultural modern Britain. Is there any demographic support for this view in the data? Is it indeed the case that the proportion of emigrees who are white is very high, compared to national demography?

    This very morning on BBC Breakfast News there was an interview with a couple leaving for Australia. I don't know how the husband would describe his ethnicity, but he wasn't white. So it's not the blanket case that the whites are leaving. It's more complex than that.

    The reasons given vary from person to person, that I've seen or heard being interviewed. But thay all fall into the broad category one might describe as 'Quality of life'. Violence, taxation, climate, 'the surveillance society', the intrusion of government into private life, are recurring themes. It seems that the Poles and other from Eastern Europe are beginning to leave for other climes too.

    It may be 'white flight' as Edward suggests. But that may be a simple reflection of ability to leave. Is there any reason to believe that other ethnic groups wouldn't also leave if only they had the ability to do so?

    I seem to recall a fairly recent news item that the 'Empire Windrush' descendants (and others from a Caribbean background) are equally fed up with Britain and increasing numbers are leavig to return to their ancestors place of origin.


  39. At 11:33 AM on 23 Aug 2007, mac wrote:

    Simon at 27.

    Thank you very much indeed for taking so much trouble in replying to me.

    I must say it is difficult answering you because what you say has a kind of seamless quality like a dream. All of your own.

    You say you are dispassionate.

    I think you should like the good you see in the world and dislike the bad you see. Risk a few moral judgements. Get involved.

    Yuo say you are dispassionate. But you choose a particular account of how financial markets work. An account which the market participants themselves are using to save their bacon.
    You know, I have tried to indicate, there are other accounts of markets despite your agreement with only one such account. How is your selction of a particular view dispassionate?

    You say markets are like cars and computers, machines to be used. I'd say you are right about that but I wonder whether you really do believe it.

    Markets with initial equal allocations to all consumers result in final allocations to all voters which have the same value. Euality. (In such economies you would own a proportionate share of my labour product - as you would of everyone's labour).

    With appropriately labelled labour markets one can bring about any distribution of labour (people to jobs) that one would wish. (The entry ticket to a particular labour market is allocated according to fairness rather than family background).

    These examples show that indeed markets can produce whatever end effect our democratic society would wish. In which case why not choose the end effect and implement that directly- say school for under 16 year olds, retirement for elderly people, dental care for everyone, sick pay for the poorly, safe conditions at work etc. Are you sure, Simon, that the present arrangememts result in what majorities want? I think those who benefit from the present arrangements spend a great deal of time and money trying to persuade us that how things are is as good as it can get.
    I think you would at this point say, 'People want markets' So I say 'To achieve which outcome, which income, wealth and work distribution, world wide?' Not surely the present one.

    You say everyone has the right to the fruits of their labour as determined by markets. Why do you think that then? What if a few are talented and the many less than competent? 'If living was a thing that money could buy, Then the rich would live, But the poor would die'!!).
    What if the few were powerful and the many weak?
    What if the few had persauded us that they are entitled to the best renumeration for their efforts and markets give them that?
    Would refusing to take sides then be praiseworthy?
    Well, QED, that is how things are now and it isn't praiseworthy not taking sides.

    You say that socialism produces 'free riders' (scivers) But you don't mention Mirlees optimal taxation stuff - capitalist to the core. He says it would be better if a significant fraction of the population were idle on benefits than struggling to do jobs they find impossibly difficult. Those of us in that category are grateful free riders. Under capitalism. Whats wrong with that?

    Your dispassionate stance surely gets uncomfortable when it comes to suggesting reforms to the market system. For you there seem to be only foolish actions (and 'clever' actions?) So that what went wrong this time was some people in America being foolish. How can you recommend any reform whatsoever from your dispassionate point of view?

    You think my views would change if I were, say, a private venture capitalist. Do you really believe that crooks don't think their stealing is wrong? Its a game they say. We're on one side of the law, you on the other.

    You say you can only know a bubble when its over. In which case how do you know that the price crash isn't a bubble in reverse - a downward self fuelling price movement?

    I say the attempt by financiers to inflate their assets is what drives our markets. In their dishonesty they get crises of conscience just like everyone else. And collectively. That 'conventional wisdom', from smug satisfaction to panic is what Keynes was talking about. (Inter alia). During the panics they seek to blame someone. Often someone even more obviously dishonest than they are.
    This time its the poor of America.
    But the effects of the poor was so small that the crisis in the financiers 'brass neck' arrogance must be seen as the REASON for making a fuss about the poor. The actions of the poor, in terms of financial scale, could not have caused the crisis.

    You think I hate. Wrong.

    I must say though, I don't quite see what that's got to do with it. '2+2 =4' said the hateful mac. 'Wrong' said the loving Simon. Or vice versa.

    For me I hope you have a more partisan other self. Someone with, say, Italian flare. Your Simon Worrall self seems to me to be a limp bloodless sort of chap, patronising to an enormous degree, hugely self satisfied and usually playing to the gallery. Try 'Who am I' by Country Joe.
    Would that there were a little of the humility of doubt at your core!

    You think I'm mono - thematic (sic). But my posts above at this thread seem to me to be about different things.

    Everything you say seems tinged with a wish to recruit people to your team no matter whether you are misinforming them or not.

    You do however have a very high opinion of yourself. You are dispassionate. I am not. Apparently were I a City dealer my views would change. To yours?
    Would that make me dispassionate?
    Would your views change if you were a City dealer?
    Would you then hold such views passionately?
    Can you see how vacuous your drivel is?

    There was a crisis. The Beeb carried one 'subprime - adjustment' account after another. I tried to put another view. People have to decide how to continue after crisies. We deserve more than one view.
    Putting another view is not easy because the herd instinct is very strong and running with the herd very pleasing.
    For my pains Simon Worrall calls me mono thematic.
    Yet he was rehashing the account given in every BBC news item (except for his own flight of fantasy that it was all Al Qieda's fault).
    (Try Gavyn Davies, 11th Aug Guardian to see how views other than Simon's can surface even here):

    'For a time the crisis seemed confined to the sub-prime sector, which seemed manageable. Estimated losses of about $150bn in that sector would be just a drop in the bucket for global financial markets. But then the major investment banks started to find difficulty in offloading loans they had promised to make on large private equity buyouts, and the share prices of even the best of these banks, like Goldman Sachs, tumbled by 25%. In the last couple of weeks, the epicentre of the crisis has shifted to this side of the Atlantic, with the failure of a medium-sized German bank, IKB, and the suspension of withdrawals from three investment funds run by BNP Paribas, which said the assets of the funds could not be correctly valued at present.'
    The full aricle is at the link.

    To repeat there are other views. Simon's willingness to offer a standard anodyne (from the point of view of criticism of markets) view is not dispassionate: it is deeply selective. In a crisis it reads like an apologia. He blames the poor of America, I, the ruthlessness of the rich and the powers financial markets give them. And one of these views is hateful. The other dispassionate. Which is which, Simon?

    Goodness, I wish I had Squirrel's capacity for incisive, decisive and brief comment.

    Anyway Simon I leave you in your extraordinary position of ignoring me but wanting to hear more from me and of thinking that those who complain most about something want it themselves. You secret Stalinist, you. (Joke).

  40. At 11:37 AM on 23 Aug 2007, Anil wrote:

    America is failing worldwide, and dragging its poodle along with it: I agree with you Ed

    Americans got thrashed by the gooks in Nam using AK 47s and the Iraqi camel jockeys will give them another well deserved thrashing using AK47s. Its about time. The 190.000 AK47s lost by the US Army have now been distributed widely. Its seem the humble AK47s don't agree with the Americans

    We have lost in Iraq. Its been a strategic defeat in Basra. So we have to eat some humble pie

  41. At 11:54 AM on 23 Aug 2007, Paul wrote:

    I was expecting Hugh to come up with a recipe for a nice tasty slug pate, (i'm a veggie) given that slugs and snails have so many similarities. Slugs have actually evolved from snails. Their external shell has been replaced by an internal plate that protects their lungs.

  42. At 12:32 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Missed nearly all of the programme. Simon's comment, "...tried to simply explain how a piece of idiocy committed in the mortgage markets of the USA caused mayhem around the world." has caught my eye. Who was responsible for the idiocy? My vote goes for those who raised the interest rate. Doing that always causes immediate problems, including inflation.

  43. At 01:03 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Fifi wrote:

    A word, please, to the increasingly tetchy froggers who are ... and I know because they tell me ... spoiling the frog for many of us.

    * BEHAVE !!!!!! *

    IF you want to rant at each other in a doomed attempt to change polarised opinions, kindly adopt an old thread and do it where you won't upset those of us who enjoy a debate and regard 'agreeing to differ' as an acceptable outcome.

    IF you tend to have a favourite topic which seems to apply to every other issue, recognise it as such and take it to the Furrowed Brow where you'll be in excellent company. Every thread can't be about one thing; it's boring and people will leave!

    IF you disagree with a comment, please have the courtesy to limit your thoughts to the content, and don't make assumptions (or assertions) about the frogger who made it.

    Remember, the frog is not like any other blog. It is a real community and unless we all accept a few compromises it'll go the way of most other blogs and end up deserted.

    If anyone thinks this is heavy handed of me, apologies -- no, really. I don't like taking on this role, and I'm probably not very good at it.

    We used to be able to have fascinating and illuminating discussions without resorting to name-calling. Surely we can manage that again?

    Either that or * I'm * off.


    PS I will post this again on every other thread where I see this nonsense going on. Then take a view as to whether it's worth bothering.


    PPS How typically froggy.... apparently I'm being malicious! HAHAHAHAHAAAAAA!......

  44. At 01:23 PM on 23 Aug 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Fifi (43):

    Big breaths...

    ("Yeth and I'm only sixthteen!") ;o)

    You're right of course. The Furrowed Brow is the place for serious discussion, let's keep all our general biug-bears over there and leave the Glass Boxes for discussion of programme articles.

    Let's all remember that everyone else isn't obsessed by our obsessions, so we don't have to bang on about them all the time.

    I'm not going to call for a group frug, but this blog is a fun and interesting place with fun and interesting people, so let's step back a bit.

    Take a breath before you post. Ask yourself, "Is this new? Is it interesting? Is it funny? Or is it just the same stuff I've posted a dozen times before?"

    If it's the latter, don't post. Or better yet, post about something you've never posted on before. We want to hear from everyone; the old fogeys (frogies?), the first time posters, those who dip in once in a blue moon... everyone. But play nice.

  45. At 01:24 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Anne P. wrote:

    Just in case anyone feels Fifi (43) is alone in this, I too would very much appreciate a return to debate free from rancour in which 'agreeing to disagree' when necessary is the order of the day.

  46. At 01:24 PM on 23 Aug 2007, UptheTrossachs wrote:

    On the piece about obesity in schoolchildren, did I really hear someone say something like "there are children who are tall because they are slim, and children who are tall because they are fat". Did I? I was slightly distracted at the time because the pipe-band had just started practising in the square and I was trying not to drip paint into the bath..... but it's been puzzling me ever since.

  47. At 01:42 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Karen wrote:

    UTT (44)

    I heard that too and was likewise puzzled.

  48. At 01:43 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    Paul (41) I was eating my lunch when I read that! Yeurch!!! :p

    I have nothing against slugs generally. It's just the slippery squelch when you tread on one as you're taking the rubbish out that gets me.....

  49. At 02:04 PM on 23 Aug 2007, sacrebleu wrote:

    Nomination for phrase of the week by Eddie: " And was the sausage the crucial part of this incident?"

  50. At 03:21 PM on 23 Aug 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Fifi (43):

    Big breaths...

    ("Yeth and I'm only sixthteen!") ;o)

    You're right of course. The Furrowed Brow is the place for serious discussion, let's keep all our general biug-bears over there and leave the Glass Boxes for discussion of programme articles.

    Let's all remember that everyone else isn't obsessed by our obsessions, so we don't have to bang on about them all the time.

    I'm not going to call for a group frug, but this blog is a fun and interesting place with fun and interesting people, so let's step back a bit.

    Take a breath before you post. Ask yourself, "Is this new? Is it interesting? Is it funny? Or is it just the same stuff I've posted a dozen times before?"

    If it's the latter, don't post. Or better yet, post about something you've never posted on before. We want to hear from everyone; the old fogeys (frogies?), the first time posters, those who dip in once in a blue moon... everyone. But play nice.

  51. At 03:23 PM on 23 Aug 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:


    Here's me banging on about not banging on about the same thing over and over and I only go and post the same thing twice!


    Or more sort of steely with a bronzy tinge?

  52. At 03:42 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Paul wrote:

    Fearless Fred (48)

    Sorry I put you off your meal it wasn't intentional. Perhaps in a parallel universe slugs don't like the squelch of humans they tread on as they're taking out the rubbish.

    Tut tut!

  53. At 03:57 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Annasee wrote:

    KAren & UTT (44 & 47) I too heard that comment - through the tea-time chaos. I didn't understand it either. Now that you've reminded me it's going to annoy me until I can forget it again. Probably about 2 minutes.
    Honestly, if I didn't come to the glassbox, I would have absolutely no recall of the programme within minutes of it finishing. I sometimes wonder if I have a colander for a brain.
    SSC - if you're blushing, that would make you a sort of pinky/grey, surely? Not bronzy.
    BTW if you've got nothing better to do, I've got a heap of irony here that needs doing. No? Oh well... I'm waiting for Jonnie to rig up some sort of remote ironing service via the cransley cam. I'm sure it's not beyond his capabilities.

  54. At 04:23 PM on 23 Aug 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    Annasee (53):

    Well, I *am* off work this afternoon so I have time to do your irony, but I've just cut my hedge and planted some autumn plants, so about all I have the strength to iron is smalls. Maybe a medium or two...

  55. At 05:05 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Fearless Fred wrote:

    No problem, Paul! I was hungry enough that I recovered quite quickly :)

  56. At 08:08 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Edward Wheatley wrote:

    Mr Worrell 38

    No doubt this couple were carefully chosen as are all BBC vox pops as part of the Corporation’s policy on ( if possible) not asking white middle-class middle-Englanders about anything - especially regarding ethnic matters. And of course editing material by the same criteria. So no surprise there.

    As to the reasons given in the survey - people have become shamed into suppressing their real views by an overbearing media and use weasel words to disguise them. Unfortunately many of our problems stem from this censorship as real antagonisms are not given an airing and left to fester.

    I too have heard of older generation West Indians returning home to retire and Asians buying up property on the sub-continent. But I suspect these are a tiny minority. If any new Eastern Europeans are off, then I bet it’s the skilled ones without families requiring education, etc..

    The problem as I see it is that most of those leaving are from the indigenous population whilst hundreds of thousands of foreigners are arriving. It was also stated yesterday that 25 per cent of new born babies are to non-indigenous mothers.

    This to me is simply a recipe for anarchy - at best !

  57. At 09:35 PM on 23 Aug 2007, ul wrote:

    Mac (39)

    Don't want to intrude but some of your comments seem delightfully down to earth. If I've got hold of the wrong end of the stick, apologies.

    Superiority can only be achieved by the illusion of inferiority. That is, people know deep down that they are not inherently superior because of opportunity or privelage so they need others to feed off , the poor or Chavs if you like.

    The poor of the world haven't ruined it. The rich and greedy have done it all by themselves. The Welfare State hasn't been plundered by the poor and inarticulate. It has been plundered by the articulate, middle classes.

    I tire of hearing that the poor should take personal responsibility when in reality going through life with few financial resources and facing hidden barriers and unspoken rules takes a lot of intelligence.

    Of course, if a person defines intelligence only in terms of being book read the they'll be at a loss as to what's been said.

  58. At 09:51 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Paul wrote:

    Edward Wheatley (56)

    Very well put indeed on every point.

  59. At 11:01 PM on 23 Aug 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Thanks for the reply, which is appreciated.

    It's worth noting that the gentleman in question is the only non-ethnic-white person I have seen being interviewed on this news item. As to the ethnicity of those on the radio one can only guess. :-)

    I would imagine that the large majority of the commentators on this Blog are both white and broadly of the middle-class. Their views seem to be fairly unfettered by censorship to me. Certainly hot and contentious opinions are expressed every day, you may note some on this very thread. There is, nonetheless, a broad spirit of scholarly debate, where one can hold opinions contrary to those of others without suffering from personal insults as a result. This unwritten rule is only rarely transgressed. I have never seen anyone complain of censorship or editing by the BBC at all, although it is known that the Blog is moderated for, shall we say, vulgar content. That tends to damage your theory, espoused above.

    Nor do I detect any signs of people feeling that they cannot express themselves freely, indeed there are occasions when some commentators express themselves all too freely! Real antagonisms do develop here, they grow and fester sometimes. Fortunately perhaps they do not tend to last too long. This undermines another point of your argument.

    If your latter points, about migrants being fecund and producing more children than would be proportionate, were indeed to result in anarchy then how have the nations of Australia, New Zealand, the USA, Canada, South Africa managed to survive so long? In those nations the immigrant population is in the vast majority in most cases, or held political power as a minority in the case of SA. Yet there is no anarchy, society has not caved in there.

    Your contention thus falls apart. A population can be overwhelmingly immigrant and yet be stable and democratic. You will not accept this assertion, that I understand. But to allow such virulently unpleasant notions to go unchecked would not be right.

    As it happens I think you are probably correct in your prime assertion of "white flight". But I also believe that this is largely due to a persons ability to emigrate, having the qualifications, work experience and financial means to do so. I would not be surprised to find that those of immigrant descent lack these requirements and are not therefore in a position to make that move anyway.

    I worked for some years alongside an Indian workforce in IT for a large British company in Berkshire. They regarded Britain as only second-best, every man and woman of them wanted to get into the USA, that was the first choice of each and every one. They were here because it paid very well, by their standards. But given a free choice they wouldn't have been here in the first place.


  60. At 11:46 PM on 23 Aug 2007, mac wrote:

    ul I agree with every word you write. More power to your keyboard.

  61. At 01:42 AM on 24 Aug 2007, Julie wrote:

    Simon Warrell (59)

    You appear to paint a rather rosey view of the BBC in it's approach to censorship and editing.

    I have to point out that on this blog and beyond much has been said about the BBC's inability to tackle it's odious culture of bias.

  62. At 12:51 PM on 24 Aug 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Edward (56)

    "This to me is simply a recipe for anarchy - at best !"

    Anarchy at best!


    Malicious Anarchy? First today!

  63. At 07:02 AM on 27 Aug 2007, Edward Wheatley wrote:

    Mr Worral 59.I apologise for not responding sooner.

    I was not suggesting that there is censorship of views on this blog (though I have suspicions about message boards in general).

    However, after the all the evidence I cannot believe anyone does not now accept that the BBC has manipulated the broadcast news agenda to promote its anti-English ideas.

    I haven’t yet seen Jeremy Paxton’s speech or Andrew Marr’s latest comments but to quote an earlier contribution from Mr Marr - “The BBC is not impartial or neutral. ….It has …a cultural liberal bias.”

    With regard to disproportionately large immigrant populations bringing anarchy -
    Perhaps the indigenous populations of Australia, Canada and New Zealand and South Africa (to which in my view the indigenous Brits correspond) would regard the influxes of white Europeans that overwhelmed their ways of life as worse than anarchy (There are a few things worse hence my “…anarchy - at best” Mr Inglehart 62)

    With regard to the USA - the proportion is not yet overwhelming if you are referring the Spanish speaking immigrants, but there’s still plenty of time…

    Frankly I don’t see the relevance of your final point - the fact that your Indian colleagues only regarded the UK as second best yet came here anyway.
    However, it certainly doesn’t endear them to me.

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