The trouble with Corbyn

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So labour have elected Jeremy Corbyn as its leader (again). However while he’s wildly popular with his party base, many others in the party, notably the PLP have serious misgivings and perhaps for good reason. Hence a split in the labour party is now a very real possibility.

Take for example Corbyn’s stance on Brexit. He’s spent most of the last few months going around apologising for the swivel eyed loons who voted for Brexit, trying to portray it as a revolt against globalisation. Well I don’t remember once hearing that word mentioned in the campaign, I seemed to remember a lot of xenophobic screaming about migrants and some BS lies about billions to the NHS. And while yes it is known that many neo-fascist parties are opposed to globalisation (not because they want more socialism, quite the opposite!), that still doesn’t make them you’re friends. However, it does hint that Corbyn secretly did vote for Brexit and he has no intention of opposing it.

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This puts him at odds with most of the country’s left leaning voters and indeed most of his own party, who tended to vote remain. It means that he’s chasing the votes of the 37% of the electorate who voted leave. However the Tories and UKIP have that voting block pretty much tied up. Meanwhile the 63% of the country who were either denied the opportunity to vote, or voted remain are left with nobody to speak for them. From a party politics point of view, this is a disastrous strategic mistake.

Left wing “Muesli Brexiters” as I prefer to call them (like Corbyn or George Galloway) are few in number, because most on the left are all too aware that leaving the EU is throwing the baby out with the bath water. The Tories will now use it as an excuse to roll back all sorts of legislation protecting the environment, workers rights, pensions and access to welfare. All while trying to turn the country into a low tax haven (oh btw, the tax codes of tax havens do not make it cheaper to live there, often VAT rates are high, flat taxes dis-proportionally hit the poor and the general costs of living are high). And Brexit has given comfort to bigots to go out and hurl racist abuse. It has also made it harder to tackle many of the world’s pressing global issues, which require co-operation and collaboration, not division and selfishness.

To draw an analogy, imagine Corbyn’s trying to sell burgers at an old firm game. Rather than parking at the Celtic or neutral supporters entrance, he instead drives his green coloured biofuel powered burger van down to the Rangers end and tries to sell them Hipster Vegan burgers made of Tofu. Chances are he’ll do very little business, get accused of being a Papist sent to poison them and earn a plastic fork in the eye for his trouble.

So far this lack of action, either during the referendum or afterwards, hasn’t really eroded his support base, but inevitably it will. We’re in a sort of “phony war” stage on Brexit, the really bad news hasn’t arrived yet. Inevitably once it does arrive and people start losing their jobs, their rights and employment protections, many of those who just voted for him as labour leader will realise he intends to do nothing to help them (because ultimately he wants Brexit). Obviously at that point he may not be so popular. But understandably many in the party don’t want to wait for that. As it means labour essentially sitting on its hands through one of the most important periods in recent UK politics.

Corbyn’s supporters have tried to portray anyone who opposes him within the party of being Blairites and left wingers in name only. While this is a fair point when it comes to the likes of Alastair Campbell or Peter Mandelson, but many in the party, including Owen Smith or Tom Watson are certainly not Blairites. And while they might not be as left wing as Corbyn’s its not his left wingness that worries them, its his unelectability. As a comedian joked at the Fringe, he’s turned PMQ’s into Gardener’s question time. “Prime Minster I have a letter from a David from Rotherham and he has problems with his NHS services…..and his Azaleas”.

The PLP are all too aware that the majority of the public just aren’t that turned on by Corbyn’s policies, poll after poll and meetings in their constituency offices has told them that. And regardless of their own views on the matter (its not as if they have to agree with every policy coming out of labour HQ), they know that the UK’s first past the post system makes trying to win an election on such a platform very difficult, if not impossible. Ultimately the PLP’s concern is more a matter of job security that ideology. They reckon he’s going to cost them their seats and that they will lose those seats to UKIP and Tories.

 

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Corbyn actually polls below “don’t know” and is less popular than an incumbent PM

One of the dangers for the Tories with pulling the pin on the Brexit hand grenade was always the risk that in the fallout that followed a hard left leader would come to power and he’d be then in the position to roll back market capitalism and run the non-doms out of town. However I would argue this is now very unlikely to happen. Corbyn has positioned himself such that come the next election the hard Brexiters will pivot towards UKIP, while those who want to see it stopped or a 2nd vote (on the terms of it or to rejoin the EU) will pivot towards the lib dems, greens and in Scotland the SNP.

Now the irony is that the Tories having gone to all this trouble to kill off UKIP, its quite possible UKIP will emerge from the next election stronger than ever. Ordinarily this would spell defeat for the Tories, the FPP system meaning they should lose seats to labour. But Corbyn’s labour party will also be haemorrhaging votes (he’s already down 9% in the polls, despite all the problems in the Tory party). Consequently the balance of probability is (and I’ve seen polling analysis which suggests this is now the most likely outcome) the Tories will still be the largest party, although they may fall sort of a majority. Note that as they’d then have to go into coalition with either UKIP or the lib dems, that would all but guarantee a 2nd vote on Europe in some way shape or form.

Corbyn’s supporters will say, but the media have been against him from day one. And yes, I agree, they have not given him fair treatment. If he rescued a baby from a burning building, they’d accuse him of being anti-fire and taking jobs away from hard-working firemen. But he has sort of made things easy for them, what with going around in dodgy tracksuits and that whole traingate business. If you lean over in front of your enemy and he kicks you up the arse, I mean what did you think was going to happen?

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When I first saw this photo, I’d didn’t click it was Corbyn, I thought it was going to be a story about some chav who robbed a charity shop

And if Corbyn thinks the media are being hard on him now, wait until we are in an actual election campaign. While inevitably Brexit and its fallout will impact on the next election, it will not be the terms under which it is fought. No, the next election will be fought on the unsuitability of Corbyn for the post of PM. The Tories will make sure of that. I mean look at what they did to Ed Miliband and all they had to go on was him looking awkward for a split second while eating a bacon roll. Can you imagine what they’re going to do to Corbyn? What the labour party members decided to do last week was vote to let an old guy get dragged into the street and watch him get beaten senseless for the next few years.

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After Corbyn looses the next election, the balance of probability is that the Blairites will take over again and they’ll change the voting rules to make damn sure this never happens again. They’ll pivot the party to the right and labour will essentially become the equivalent of the democrats in America. Alternatively the party splits, either before the next election or not long after it. This new party (we’ll call them the UK Democrats, because that’s essentially what they’ll be) gradually takes over labour’s position, becoming a slightly more centrist version of the lib dems (perhaps even merging with them), while Corbyn’s labour, robbed of much of its voters, finance and support declines and joins the ranks of the many other parties of the socialist left, whom it spends the rest of the time fighting with.

Perhaps I can illustrate the danger Corbyn posses via my own position. I’m exactly the sort of left wing voter he’ll need to persuade to vote labour next election if he’s to win. I’ve voted labour in the past and I’ve voted for other left wing parties before (Greens, SNP, etc.). I generally vote labour back in Ireland, noting that they are a “proper” labour party in Ireland, not any of this new labour nonsense. So will I vote labour in the next UK election with Corbyn in charge? NO! Is it because he’s too left wing? No, nothing to do with that. I voted remain, I want someone who speaks for the 63% of us who didn’t vote leave. Corbyn is clearly not up to the task. Ultimately, he has very little chance of getting elected. If I want to see left wing or liberal policies implemented, I’m better off voting lib dem or Greens (or in Scotland SNP). They have some chance of implementing those policies as a coalition partner in a future government and are providing much more robust opposition to the Tories at the moment.

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Quite a few labour members have posted on twitter them cutting their labour party membership cards up after Corbyn’s re-election

So the question to Corbyn supporters is, if you can’t persuade me to vote for him, or the thousands of his own party members cutting their membership cards in half this week, what chance do you have of persuading the millions of centre ground voters (who will decide the next election) to vote for him? Labour have just voted to lose the next election. Its time for Corbyn and his supporters take take a healthy dose of Realpolitik.

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The greater fool fallacy and Trump

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There are some who support Trump even though they know he’s a bigot and a racist, but they support him despite this, because they think he offers the possibility of significant change (same goes with quite a few who voted for Brexit). That he can be manipulated into doing certain things other politicians won’t do. Other politicians would feel the need to run things by “advisors” and “experts” and worry about public opinion (or put the idea to focus groups), then realise its not going to work and hesitate. A shoot from the hip type president will do things others won’t, because he’ll act first without thinking things through.

Examples of those looking to exploit a future president include space cadets, the far right and even some elements of the far left (Bernie Sanders types who took all that anti-Hillary stuff way too seriously). I’ve even heard it argued by some Chinese that Trump would be better for China than Hillary because she’ll stand up to China, while he’s such a good business man (the sort that’s gone bankrupt 4 times?), he’d do a deal with them. At the very least Trump undermines the case for democracy, which Beijing likely sees as helpful. In all cases the assumption of these groups is a variation on the “greater fool theory”, in that they think he’s a bigger fool than them and hence can be manipulated. However as I will discuss, this is a dangerous fallacy.

By way of example, let’s take the space cadet brigade. Much of the pro-Trump rhetoric I’m hearing from them is more or less identical to the stuff I was hearing about G. W. Bush back in 2000. The assumption was he was more pro-space than Al Gore, largely because Bush was seen as an amiable dunce. How did that work out? Well within the first few months of office, he gutted the NASA’s science budget to pay for tax cuts to his wealthy donors. Several important projects were cancelled, from space missions to Jupiter (only recently resurrected and flown under Obama), the Helios solar drone project (as I discussed in a recent post), various shuttle replacement proposals and much more, all were defunded. This put NASA in an awkward position after the Colombia crash as they were left with no obvious alternative to the shuttle.

The Colombia disaster did give Bush the opportunity to reset US space policy. And he did come up with something a little more appealing to them. But his policy was completely disjointed. His proposals were a mishmash of whatever he felt would appease the space cadets and the corporate lobbyists, yet without any extra funding attached. The Ares 1 rocket was clearly one designed by lobbyists rather than engineers, whose sole purpose was to make sure the same contractors building and servicing the shuttle kept their jobs. As one commentator at the time put itNASA is being expected to carry out John Kennedy’s space program with Bill Clinton’s space budget”.

Within months critics were panning his plans as unworkable, I was even hearing rumours  of Bush’s plan being referred to as “project Cancellation” within NASA rather than its official title Constellation, as it was widely assumed that such an obviously unworkable project would not survive multiple president’s and multiple layers of congressional oversight. Indeed it was mostly all cancelled by the end of Obama’ 1st term. So Bush (again the supposed champion of the space cadets) score card would show that he ran NASA into the ground and essentially ended US manned space flight.

So what’s likely to happen with Trump in charge? Well my guess is that he too will initially gut NASA’s budget, to pay for tax cuts and various other vanity projects. And as a vain and insecure person who bears grudges he will cut not what’s cutable but what cuts will punish his perceived enemies. If California votes against him (as expected) he’ll likely shut down JPL or Ames. If Virginia votes democrat, what’s the bet that Langley will be closed? Naturally anything with the word “environment” in it will go too, which is a lot of NASA’s budget (often one of the best ways of learning how the atmosphere of Mars works is by studying our own).

While I suspect Trump could be eventually persuaded to back something like a mission to Mars (as a vanity project), he will only be doing so on basis of lining his own pockets. The contracts won’t go to someone sensible like Elon Musk (unless Musk bows before him and kisses his rings and slip him a few quid in the next few months), but to whichever of his cronies promises him the largest cut of the money they skim off the top. Who knows maybe he’ll do what he did with the Trump towers and give the contact to some Mafia front (Goodfella’s Rocket Company?). Which is probably rather fortunate because it will prevent him actually flying any hardware that might kill someone. Any proposal backed by Trump for a Mars mission will likely either be some sort of one way suicide mission (with Hillary and Elizabeth Warren slated as flight crew!) of the Mars one variety, or a two way Banzai charge of the sort the Mars society proposes.

As for those on the left, do you honestly think Trump a wealth corrupt buffoon is really going to promote a leftist agenda? Yes he may pull back from international trade agreements, but what he replaces it with will be written to suit the elites like him. And those on the far right, yes he might build a wall or do something about immigration, but he’s not going to end it or deport anybody. After all some of these Mexicans work in his hotels. Do you think he wants to end up having to hire a load of Americans instead? They’d be asking for minimum wage and paid vacation time, then keep bringing up their “rights”. Trump’s plan will be to control immigration for his benefit, not end it.

As for Brexiters, Trump is not going to sign up to a trade deal with a post-Brexit UK which would put those who funded his campaign or his blue collar supporters at a disadvantage. And as for the Chinese, while I suspect Trump would eventually leave China better off after launching a trade war (or worse an actual war) with China and losing, but this is hardly positive. Its like arguing that Hitler was an all American hero because his actions left America much stronger after world war II. For sure Hillary will be a pain in the ass, both for the UK and the Chinese. But she’s not going to do anything stupid. She’s not going to start a war for the sake of the Philippines (doubly so now they’ve elected their own version of Donald Trump).

And bringing up the matter of Hitler, its worth remembering that he too was a product of this “greater fool” fallacy. Many of those who helped him into power, notably those on the centre right of Germany at the time did so because they saw him as a useful idiot, who could be manipulated and controlled once in power. Of course they soon found out this wasn’t the case. Putin too came to power as a result of being seen as a puppet, who like his predecessor could be manipulated and controlled….just one who could stay sober for more than five minutes. But quickly Putin showed himself to be less a puppet of the Oligarchs and more the puppet master.

Voting for a madman like Trump on the assumption that you can control him is a bit like opening the gate on a lion’s pen and assuming you can control the lion, just cos you saw someone do it on the Discovery channel. Its a logical fallacy and amounts to a tacit admission that whatever you are advocating is basically unworkable. Any plan or proposal that is unable to withstand the rigours of conventional politics and requires a madman in charge to implement is by definition a bad idea.

Weekly roundup

Veto warning

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At a conference to discuss the post-Brexit future of the EU, the UK was warned that the EU would make leaving “very painful”, if any form of immigration controls were included. Indeed, the threat was made of a possible veto of any deal by four Eastern European countries, if the UK refused to guarantee freedom of travel. Its unclear if this applies to just current EU citizens in the UK or future arrivals. However, the message is clear, the Brexit position on immigration is not going to be allowed, it is not and never was a deliverable possibility.

But we do 60% of our trade with the EU the brexiters claim, why would the EU jeopardise that? Well because it might be 60% of the UK’s trade, but its only about 10% of the EU’s trade. And certain countries will bear the brunt of that. Others, such as the Eastern European countries making these threats, will not be seriously effected. There is no way the rEU or the UK can bully them out of a veto. So if the UK tries to stonewall the EU, as the three brexiters seem to plan on doing, they will be in for a rude awakening.

Keep in mind at the point where this veto will be made it would be at the back end of negotiations where the UK has likely just days or weeks away from essentially being chucked out of the EU and EEA if it doesn’t get a deal. In such circumstances a panicked climb down by the UK seems very likely.

As always my suspicion is that cooler heads will prevail long before we get to this stage. Some sort of horse trade will be done, EU citizens will have to fill out some forms and will not be entitled to benefits for a few years (although that could result in a rebate of their taxes back to their country of origin). The swivel eyed loons will be told they’d got immigration controls, but in truth nothing substantial will have changed.

 

Academic poaching

And as if to underline what’s at stake here, there have been warning about how much of the UK’s key science centres are now a risk of being poached. Either individual scientists, or the entire institutes themselves might well move in the next few years.

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As I mentioned in previous posts, a lot of the funding for these institutes comes from the EU. And they also get quite a bit of private sector funding too (often the EU funding is dependant on them raising matching funds from the private sector). And many research centres and university’s in Britain will have a small network of high-tech start ups around them, which will both assist and be dependant on the success of said institute at securing funding. Getting that funding outside the EU gets very complicated very quickly. Freedom of travel is also crucial to science and I can’t see how these institutes could function if that were to end.

So the price the UK could pay, is much of its very best and brightest, everything from Fusion energy research to graphene could potentially move overseas in the next few years. Then again, many Brexiters seem to be the anti-science troglodytes who’d rather go back to the 1950’s. Well be careful what you wish for……

 

ITT Tech

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Just prior to the Brexit vote the Universities minister issued two statements which caused great concern in academia. The first was his intention of allowing for-profit universities in the UK. The 2nd was his statement that “some providers may exit the market”, or in other words, the government is okay with the thought of universities going bankrupt.

Well we had a warning this month of what the likely consequences of such a policy would be. ITT Tech, the parent company of several for-profit universities across the US went bankrupt just before the start of term. This left tens of thousands of students out of pocket and with no university place to start or continue their studies at. Many of them have now been left in limbo.

And the reasons for their collapse? Poor standards of education, well below those of mainstream universities and accusations of predatory practices. ITT tech students were some of the the most heavily indebted students in America. And incidentally some of that debt was owed to the US government. Students are now refusing to pay back these loans, arguing the collapse is the fault of the government for failing to regulate ITT tech properly.

So I would ask anyone in the Tory party or any government minster, do you really want to see this sort of scandal play out in the UK? And before you answer that question, take out an electoral map of the UK, work out how many marginal seats are in (or near) a university town and after you’ve worked out how, estimate by how much you’d lose the next election, perhaps then you might decide to reconsider this policy.

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Tweeting twits in cars

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There was recent talk about increasing the number of penalty points for mobile phone use in cars to 6 . In some respects I can see the point of this. Far too often I’ve seen people driving along, not just talking on a mobile held to their ear, but texting with it. And I mean sometimes when I’ve been cycling or walking along at night I’ve noticed drivers gliding along with their face down at the phone, trying to drive with one hand and half an eye on the road. You do have to worry about some people.

However, the danger with such knee jerk legislation, is that it can often lead to overzealous enforcement by the police. Keep in mind the cops have done people for blowing their nose at a traffic light or threatened to arrest a four year old child for riding a kiddies bike on the pavement. Given the cops an inch in the UK and they will take things to an illogical extreme.

What counts as mobile phone use in a car? For example, I’ll sometimes use my mobile as an Mp3 player. Now I’ll plug it in and set everything up before I start driving, but occasionally I might need to just hit the volume button or turn it on/off (without taking my eyes off the road of course and only when its safe to do so). Does that count? Should I get 6 points for that? Now okay, maybe you say yes it does count, in which case I suppose I’ll just listen to the radio instead, will adjusting the volume on the radio now get me 6 points? Because its essentially doing the same thing. Or how about adjusting the air-con, or the sat nav? Keep in mind that there are time you’ll need to adjust these systems for safety reasons (e.g. its night, the sat nav display is too bright so you turn it off or tap it into night mode, your coming up to a busy junction, you hit the mute button on the radio so it doesn’t distract you, windows start to fog up, you need to clear them, etc.).

And I bring this up because it has a legal bearing for me. I have an Irish license and while the Irish government does transfer points issued by the UK authorities onto Irish license, they don’t give the UK courts a rubber stamp. We have this long standing principle in Ireland of “rights” and “due process”. And any Irish court would likely take a dim view of saying doing such and such a thing with a mobile is enough to lose you your license, but doing the same thing with the car radio is okay. Indeed the Irish government has been having difficulty securing convictions for its own laws against in car mobile use.

And to go slightly off topic, but there’s a Brexit dimension here. While I suspect the transfer of penalty points across the Irish border will continue (its a bilateral agreement and nothing to do with the EU) I’m not sure about other EU countries. I suspect any such rules the UK has with the rest of the EU will end with Brexit. Meaning Polish lorry drivers will be able to not only use their phones while driving without fear, but speed as fast as they like and park wherever they like and there’s basically nothing that plod can do about it other than go whistle Dixie. Keep in mind I already know people from the continent who regularly just tear up parking tickets they get in the UK and put them straight in the bin. Such rules are difficult to enforce at the moment, post Brexit it will be impossible. And again its the tendency of the UK legal system to ignore the basic principles upon which any proper legal system is supposed to work that’s to blame.

But I digress. Clearly one has to wonder how out of hand such measures could get and how difficult it becomes to enforce. Might I suggest a more common sense approach. If you are so addicted to your phone that you can put it down for a few minutes while driving maybe you need to decide which is more important, your ability to drive safely or your phone? Keep in mind that if you travel by public transport instead not only can you text and tweet to your hearts content, but many buses and trains theses days come with free wifi. #OMG

And in much the same way that anyone stumbling out of pub with car keys is likely to be rugby tackled and subject to a citizens arrest these days, if you see someone in the car behaving recklessly with a phone (or turning his head away from the road and trying to tune the radio), point out to them how dangerous this is. #where_did_that_tree_come_from? #Sad face

 

Unsporting behaviour

There was some controversy this week when one of the Brownlee brothers helped the other across the line to win a bronze medal. The British media looked on this as brothers in arms, or good sportsmen ship. Ah, no! I’m afraid its what’s known as “cheating”.

The rules of individual sports like the triathlon are very clear, you cannot assist in any way another competitor, nor can they or should they except such help. Riders have been disqualified in the past just because a spectator (never mind another runner) was seen to push them. Until a few years ago triathletes weren’t even allowed to slipstream during the cycling stage of a triathlon. Giving or accepting aid like this isn’t just against the rules, it violates the very spirit of the sport itself.

Put it this way, if a Polish or Chinese athlete had done the same thing and a British athlete had been denied a medal, would the UK media be reacting the same way? Probably not. We can’t have one rule for those who are popular with the media (and have a good sponsorship deal) and another rule for everyone else. There’s little point in getting worked up about Russian doping, if were going to apply the full weight of the law to one group of athletes and ignore them for others.

So while I hate to be mean, but both brothers should have been disqualified for this. And should another “hand of god” like moment happen in a future football match, I don’t want to hear any English whinging about how unfair it all is. You’ve gain just as much, if not more, unfair advantage in sports as everyone else.

 

Not so fancy bears

And speaking of sports there were more revelations about the medical records of British athletes. Now to be fair, if the Russians are trying to tar everyone with the same brush, they are failing. What these records show is that the sort of massive state sponsored doping isn’t going on in the UK or US. However, that’s not to say all of the UK’s athletes are angels. The revelations do flag up some worrying questions.

Quite a few appear to regularly be benefiting from what’s called TUE’s basically an excuse to use a banned substance for medical reasons. The problem is that known drug cheats like Lance Armstrong were known to use these as a way of getting around tests, when they realised (or feared) they might fail a test. So an athlete regularly getting these, while it doesn’t prove anything, it certainly doesn’t look good. In short, anyone who believes doping begins and ends with Russian, think again.

 

The Empire club

A restaurant in Australia is in hot water after calling itself the Colonial club, a sort of colonial themed restaurant for public school boys who are ignorant of history. Naturally this is causing much offence and there are calls for it to be closed down. One wonders if they do a Jallianwahla Bagh cocktail, or an Irish Famine potato salad or how about the Hola special?

What is it about Empire that the Brit’s don’t get? One of the Brexiters put up a tweet (in reaction to another one showing the EU top of the medal table at the Olympics) claim the British Empire “won” the Olympics. British need to understand that to some people this is the equivalent of going up to a Polish person and saying how much better they were under the third reich. There are only two occasions where bringing up the British Empire isn’t going to get you in trouble:
A) You’re Prince Philip (we sort of expect this stuff from him!)
B) At a memorial for the victims of a British empire massacre, explaining why it was so terrible

 

The joys of Hitchhiking

A French hitchiker in New Zealand went beserk this week after spending 4 days by the side of the road and not getting picked up. To be honest, I think if you are hitch-hiking, you need to have a better strategy. And in a remote area, you need to have a plan B in case you don’t get picked up, e.g. walk to where you want to go and if you don’t get picked up along they way, you’ll get there anyway. Or have a public transport option you can call on.

One of the issues I take with this story was how he was called “a spoilt millennial”. First of all, Millennials are really an invention of marketeers who like to segment people into neatly defined groups. An many of those qualities they ascribe to “millennials” don’t actually gel with the facts, as this Adam Conover video discusses. I teach a lot of “millennials” and I know of just as many who are spoilt selfie takers with a sense of some sort of god given entitlement, as I know similar people from previous generations. It certainly does not fit the description of the average Millennial I know. Indeed it was mostly baby boomers with there sense of entitlement who voted for Brexit, not millennial’s (whom the baby boomers screwed over).

Brexit now comes with a price tag

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The Tories have been accused of pulling the pin on the Grammar school hand grenade, not because they think its a good idea, but because they want to distract from the shambles of the Brexit fallout. We’ve already learnt that a points system isn’t going to happen. Then it was a restriction on entry unless migrants had a job. They’ve gone quiet on that one too now, so presumably that’s been ditched also, for what should be obvious reasons. Now they seem to be planning on requiring entrants to have a work visa.

What’s wrong with that? Well because it constitutes what Sarah Palin would describe as “central planning”. Its distinctly anti-business and authoritarian. Decisions on recruitment will be taken away from employers and they’ll be left at the whims of government policy. This is the sort of thing that will result in crops rotting in the field, projects put on hold because of a lack of skilled labour or businesses shutting down as they can’t get the staff they need. Inevitably employers will relocate outside of the UK to the rest of the EU where they can recruit more freely. Indeed its interesting to note that the post-Brexit shares rally now appears to be over, the FTSE 100 & 250 have been falling for the last few days, possibly because the penny is finally dropping that it might not be business as usual.

Keep in mind that British citizens count towards inward migration figures. And perhaps not surprisingly UK nationals make up the vast majority of those entering the country. Last time I checked the figures of those entering the UK to permanently take up residence 83,000 of them (25%  of the total if we include students, 55% if we exclude students) were British. As the EU states will reciprocate with any restrictions, its likely that what you’ll see is a slight drop in EEA citizens coming, cancelled out by a sudden jump in UK citizens coming home permanently. Only difference is instead of getting nice young Polish people with skills the country needs, we’ll be getting older people (in many cases retired) who’ll be taking more money out of the state than they contribute.

The only way net migration could be cut to “the tens of thousands” is by bringing in North Korea like border controls and essentially banning British people from moving abroad (or moving back to the UK).

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Its likely that the only way this visa idea would work is by doing something along the lines of the Swiss, with no specific restrictions on numbers allowed in, just so long as they fill in the necessary paperwork. In other words it will be an empty formula, consisting of a bit of form filling and paying a fee. It will change nothing, aside from making the job of EU citizens coming in, or British going out, that little bit more bureaucratic.

And speaking of the Swiss, a situation in Switzerland whereby the people voted for immigration restrictions mirrors the situation in the UK. The Swiss tried to stonewall the Europeans, the EU refused to budge, guess whose blinked first? Yep, the Swiss seem to be on the verge of caving in. They’re looking for some window dressing so that they can claim to be compiling with the wording of the referendum decision while perverting its original intend, much as Theresa May will be doing in about two years time.

And if the stakes weren’t high enough, there’s the matter of the Etias. This was an anti-terrorism measure proposed back in 2011, similar to the visa entry system to the US. Whereby non-Schengen citizens (i.e. anyone outside the EU, Norway and Switzerland) will have to pay a fee and fill in an online form 72 hours before entering the EU. Now originally the UK was supposed to get a pass on this, or some sort of opt in. However, given the recent talk of immigration restrictions, its increasingly unlikely the UK will get any leeway from the EU (short of the UK joining the single market without condition).

Now for a tourist having to apply 72 hours in advance of travel to the EU is just plain inconvenient. But to some British, airline staff, truck drivers, salesmen, its potentially crippling. We could see waves of these people loosing their jobs, replaced by EU citizens or their company relocating across the channel. Its increasingly likely I would therefore argue that the UK will be sent packing with their tail between their legs once these Brexit negotiations start. The EU won’t get nasty, they don’t need too. All they’ll do is read the UK the riot act and force them to confront the cold hard facts of life.

Indeed the very fact Theresa May has resorted to chucking around dead moggies and bringing up Grammar schools, does tend to suggest they know they’re not going to get their way. And the frustrations seem to be building. Liam Fox, who was recently sent packing by the Australians (he’d been talking up the possibility of a trade deal with them), went so far as to insult UK small business owners for not being suitably patriotic. Ya, like the Russian cosmonauts who weren’t suitably patriotic enough to hold their breath for ten minutes after their soviet leaders sent them up in a shoddy capsule. Business leaders have naturally pointed out they are doing the best they can but some dickheads decided to have a referendum on EU membership and that’s kind of screwed them over.

In short, the Tories lies on Brexit are starting to catch up with them.

Trump v’s China

And speaking of China, a key theme of Trump’s poisonous rhetoric is to stoke fears about China. How America’s predicament is somehow the fault of China….No, its not America’s decision to pursue neo-liberal policies that sold working class communities in the country down the river, it was China’s fault. It does raise the prospect that if Trump wins he will try to confront China. Suffice to say this would be a disaster for the US and likely lead to victory for the Chinese.

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Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks at the National Federation of Republican Assemblies on Saturday, Aug. 29, 2015, in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

China has a trade surplus of around $600 billion, with a GDP of $20 trillion and debt to GDP ratio of 17%. The US has a trade deficit of $530 billion, a GDP of $18 trillion and a debt to GDP ratio of 76% and climbing . Any economic war between China and America will only ever have one winner. And China could end any such confrontation in a single day. All they’d need to do is take the $1.4 trillion in US bonds they hold and dump them on the open market. Within 24 hrs, the US would be bankrupt.

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But can’t the US just default on its debts and screw the Chinese over? Well yes, a $1.4 trillion hit would certainly hurt the Chinese, hence why they are unlikely to opt for their “nuclear” option of dumping bonds unless provoked (unfortunately, Trump’s exactly the sort of moron who might just do that). However, it would pale in comparison to the economic mess unleashed in America. 67% of US public debt is held internally (mostly by pension plans!), v’s the 8% held by the Chinese. We’d be talking about the Chinese catching a cold, while the US gets Ebola. It would be the equivalent of the defenders of a castle burning it down (while they were still inside) in order to save it from the enemy.

How about a military confrontation? Well aside from the obvious risks of starting a war with another nuclear armed states, there’s the not so small issue of costs. As in you do know wars are expensive? The war on terror cost $4.4 trillion, about $1 billion a day on top of a military budget of about $1.4 billion per day. How would Trump pay for that? Is he going to go around and collect the gold fillings from his supporters mouths? Maybe he can build a wall in the Pacific and get the Chinese to pay for it?

Even if we ignore these thorny little issues, the US would be committing to a fight it can’t win. It would be like pitting a bantamweight boxer against a Japanese sumo wrestler. Yes, the boxer will get in some telling blows and give the wrestler a bloody nose, but he’s not going to knock the Sumo wrestler out. The boxer will tire eventually and the sumo wrestler will likely then end it with one punch.

It has never been the policy of China to defeat the US (contrary to what the movie Red Dawn or the likes of Alex Jones might have you believe), but to endure the US. The American military would certainly inflict a lot of damage and destroy much military hardware. But China would be losing stuff it can afford to lose. Their massive industrial capacity means that they could easily replace any loses pretty quickly. And they’ve no shortage of people from whom to recruit to replace any losses in manpower.

The US by contrast does not have the industrial capacity any more to endure heavy losses….nor indeed could they afford to pay for replacement equipment with a bankrupt economy. Consider for example that with their new long range carrier killing” missiles the Chinese could take out a US aircraft carrier in just a few minutes, while it takes the US several years to build a new one. A single salvo of these missiles could inflict losses that it would literally take America decades to recover from. And the same missiles could also be targeted at US ground bases too, forcing the Americans to either endure crippling losses or withdraw their forces out of range of the Chinese.

In short, the result of any such confrontation would almost certainly be a Chinese victory and an end to the US as the world’s leading superpower, and we’d have Trump to thank for it! If you worry China is getting too big for its boots, then you really need to vote for Hillary, Her attacks on China’s human rights record, or using diplomatic pressure to challenge them on their claims to the south sea, are far more troubling to the communist party than any amount of bluster from an orange haired buffoon.

The awful consequences of Populism

A few months back the Philippines elected a Populist nut job, Rodrigo Duterte, as their President. A man described as “Asia’s Donald Trump”. So how has that worked out?

Well the current estimate is that 2,500 have been killed by vigilante’s and police in a supposed anti-drug crack down. Will this get drugs off the street? For a while perhaps, then (if events in Mexico are anything to go by) many of these vigilante’s will be in the drug trade themselves. So long as there’s a market for drugs someone will try to sell them. You are better off tackling the social problems that promotes this drug addiction, as some European countries have successfully managed to do.

On the international stage, Duterte embarrassed himself at a recent summit. Obama cancelled a meeting with him and other leaders more or less gave Duterte the cold shoulder. Pissing off the Americans is a bad idea for the Philippines, as they are (or were) backing them up in a dispute with China over the South China sea, where the Chinese have been building artificial Islands to reinforce its claim to large areas of sea (that might contain oil or gas reserves).

Oddly enough, despite a favourable recent ruling, Duterte seems to be unworried by any withdrawal of American support. Indeed he seems to be increasingly favourable to the Chinese. Leading some to wonder if he’s just a shill for the Chinese (literally a Manchurian candidate).

So what’s the economy been doing? Foreign investors are already withdrawing their money and making their way towards the exits, the country seems will on its way to becoming another basket case. And recall, he’s only been in the post about a month. What’s it going to look like after 4 years? My guess is we’ll never find out. The Philippines has a history of military coup’s and I’m guessing we’re now just months or a year or two away from another one.

In short, Duterte shows everything that is wrong with electing populist leaders into government. No matter how bad you think Cameron, Blair, Clegg or Hillary might be, trust me there are people ten times worse.

Brexit betrayals continue

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Before the referendum Brexit voters were warned that they were being conned. But Brexit was simply a means to an end for many in the leave camp, the goal being to further their own careers or line their pockets, they didn’t care about the consequences. They would betray the votes as soon as the referendum was over. And indeed time and again this has been proven right. The £350 million a week to the NHS claim didn’t even last 24 hrs. The vote leave website was shutdown and scrubbed clean within hours of the vote. And given the likely impact of Brexit on staffing and NHS costs, its inevitable the current problems in the NHS will only get worse post-Brexit.

One of the main issues during the debate was immigration. We’ll get a points system they were told. As I for one discussed sometime before the vote, no you’re not going to get a points system, because that would be silly and it won’t work. Low and behold, we’re now told we no there’s not going to be a points system. As I pointed out in a recent post, Theresa May has two choices, she can betray the UKIP bigot brigade and keep borders open, or she can betray the middle classes, pensioners and business tycoons who put the Tories in power, by leaving the single market. Given that its quite clear that the three Brexiters in her cabinet have no clue what to do about immigration, it seems increasingly likely she plans on betraying the bigot brigade.

Yes some window dressing will be applied, Theresa May has shown herself to be a masterful user of the so-called dead cat approach (see here and here). There’s talk for example of a rule that EU migrants will have to have job before moving over. Or in other words they do the job search over the internet, come over on a tourist visa for the interview (or do it via Skype) and then apply for residency. No doubt firms offering to “employ” migrants on a zero hours contract (for literally zero hours) for a fixed fee will soon spring up. The same way some fake colleges are being used to help non-EU migrants to come in. In short it will change nothing. In fact given that the UK leaving the EU will make it easier for genuine refugees from within the EU to claim asylum in the UK, and there’s a good chance of current customs arrangements ending in Calais. So its likely more will be coming in not less, post-Brexit.

And given that the UK will essentially be handing over sovereignty for a whole host of areas to the EU, as part of some Norway model plus, its difficult to avoid the argument that the UK will be worse off with less control over its trade policy. And keep in mind that one of the areas where the UK will retain some leeway is in areas such as employee rights. i.e. those pesky EU laws that stop your boss forcing you to retire because your seen as too old, or the laws protecting your right to strike or join a union, or guaranteeing you can’t be forced to work unreasonable hours. Its difficult to see a Tory government resisting the temptation to roll back these laws.

Farmers were warned that leaving the EU would mean an end to farm subsidies. The leave camp were very careful to say that they won’t end subsidies, or that they would, depending on which audience they were talking too. Well now its likely farm subsidies are going to come under a twin pronged attack. On the one hand there is the environmental argument that subsidies should only be paid out if they provide real environmental benefit. On the other hand, its difficult to see the government paying such generous subsidies to such a small group of voters. And wealthy landowners will be well aware that cutting this lifeline would present them with the opportunity to buy up small holdings and add them to their estates (then likely rent it back to the same poor sod!).

And what about those fishermen who sailed boats down the Thames? Well they’ve already been told not to expect any increase in catch quota’s post-Brexit. I was in Norway at the time of the vote and have been in Iceland before. Their main bone of contention with the EU is over fisheries, not because the EU is too strict but that it isn’t strict enough. And the expert advice is that UK fish catch levels should if anything, get cut.

In short, Brexit voters have been conned on a scale unseen in electoral history. Now politicians do tell porkies from time to time, but I’ve never seen such a outright and blatant betrayal of voters. What Brexit voters need to understand is that those when you saw those Tory placards saying “take control” that slogan wasn’t aimed at the common voter, but at other rich and wealthy elites who fund the Tory party, as Brexit is going to allow one of the biggest transfers of power and wealth within the UK for many generations.

Which brings us to the debate over the 4.4 million petition to re-run the referendum. In the absence of that I think it is fair to argue that Parliament should vote on the matter, prior to invoking article 50, it should be free vote, in both houses. After all this is the very job Parliament exists for, to stop the people being conned into doing something that is neither in their best interests nor the country’s.

Apple’s devolution

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Maybe Apple are just pissed off at having to pay an extra $13 billion in tax. But they announced that they were releasing the new i-phony i-phone without an audio jack. I’m reminded of this sketch from collegehumor. I mean they’ve basically released a product that is less useful than the previous one.

No doubt they will point to the history of the audio jack. Did you know the basic design dates back to 1878? . However equally one could argue the basic design of the wheel dates back to pre-history. Is apple going to try and come up with a new one (i-wheel?). Obviously the real reason is just so they can sell you wireless head phones at $160 a set (which you can then easily loose), while a pair of cheap head phones costs $10.

Suffice to say, this is why I don’t buy Apple products. I mean Microsoft are a bit of a monopoly, but Apple is an outright scam for people with more money than sense.

America’s shale oil slow down

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I’ve been watching the EIA’s Drill productivity reports for a couple of months now and they do hint at a slowdown in US shale oil and shale gas production.

Certainly it has to be said that over the last year the overall figures show production is up for gas, although down slightly for oil. However as figure 1 shows this represents drops in older legacy fields being replaced by new production in less mature fields. But in some cases the rate of replacement lags behind the rate of decline, hence why production from some fields is now down and oil is now down overall.

figure1_dpr_august_oil_gas_ovr Figure 1: Overall production changes for various shale oil & gas fields [Source: EIA, August 2016]

One of the issues with shale oil and shale gas fields is that production rates tend to tail off much more rapidly than with a conventional oil or gas field…

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Sunday service

A few stories that caught my eye over the last week……

Blackouts & Newspeak

With Hinkley C now hanging in the balance, the National Grid seem to be waking up to the realisation that its unlikely we’ll be getting any new power infrastructure in time to offset the likely decommissioning of the UK’s ageing coal and nuclear plants. So they seem to be putting their faith in energy efficiency measures instead.

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Keep in mind a few years ago, I was scoffed at for making such a suggestion at a conference by someone from NG, who felt such measures were unnecessary or that they won’t work (he was trying to argue the case for Hinkley C and how the ground would open and swallow the country if it isn’t built). And these very measures were part of the so-called “Green crap” Cameron cut to keep his allies in the fossil fuel and nuclear industry happy, just a few years ago. So there’s a certain “newspeak” element to this whole story as a result.

Now, I’m all for energy efficiency measures. I have long argued they are a big part of the solution. If we can’t build renewables quickly enough (nor nuclear for that matter) to meet the growing need for power and reduce carbon emissions, then we need to cut consumption. However, this road to Damascus conversion ignores three crucial points.

Firstly, there’s a law of diminishing returns in play here. You can make some big drastic savings early on (if you build the right infrastructure of course), but beyond a certain tipping point, you’ll be scrapping the bottom of the barrel. Energy efficiency, by saving people money, can actually encourage further energy use. Think about it, if I could double the fuel economy of your car, you’d probably drive it more regularly won’t you? Ultimately you still need to be producing power, and you will need to build some new power plants (be they renewable, fossil fuel fired or nuclear). This whole crisis is a result of the UK government’s failure to adopt a long term energy policy, throwing one industry under the bus after another, to the point nobody in their right mind would invest in a power station in the UK (renewable, nuclear or otherwise) unless you basically bribe them.

Secondly, a lot of the better energy efficiency measures require changes to how the grid works. They will not go ahead unless the government gives firm signals that it is adopting an appropriate long term energy policy. For example, the most obvious way of cutting carbon emissions is to switch from a handful of centralised thermal power stations, to a network of smaller decentralised CHP plants. Even running on fossil fuels, this cuts carbon emissions by at least 25%. Some European countries get 40% of their electricity from such power stations. They can also effectively backup intermittent renewable energy sources. But again, without building the hardware, you can’t implement it. And they will only work as part of a coherent overall strategy.

And thirdly there’s the ticking clock. Any energy plan for the UK needs action to be taken now. There are no quick fixes, no easy short cuts. Those boats sailed some time ago. The government has to take action asap and put its money where its mouth is, or any energy plan no matter how well meaning it is, will fail.

Irish apple…..and not the fruit!

For years Apple had been playing the double Irish tax dodge, only to recently get caught out. The EU’s just tapped them for 13 billion euro in back taxes. To put that in prospective, that’s about Ireland’s health budget for a year.

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Oddly enough rather than Leinster house cracking open champagne bottles and starting to work out what we’re going to spend all this money on (that’s enough to buy every adult in the country about 900 pints of the black stuff…now there’s a thought…), they are thinking of appealing. Why? Okay it does hurt Ireland reputation a bit, but so what, if Apple was here for the reasons it claims (i.e. to take advantage of a well educated workforce, I know they do a lot of co-funded research with Irish uni’s), then this ruling shouldn’t change anything.

If they were here for the tax dodge then feck em. They want to piss off back to California, fair enough. The Brexiters were dancing a jig about how Apple might move to the UK. That’s unlikely as the rate of taxation in Ireland is still lower than the UK’s. And lets be clear about what the Brexiters are proposing, they think that British tax payers should subsidise the profits of one of the world’s largest and most profitable companies. Seriously? Try selling that one in the middle of the next election! Voting for Corbyn suddenly starts to sound like a good idea.

So I say hang’em out to dry!

Olympic hijackings

And speaking of which, Brexiters have been trying to talk up how great everything is post-Brexit. They’ve picked up on everything from the Olympics, ignoring the fact how most medal winners are mostly young people, i.e. the people who voted remain, plus quite a few are from immigrant families and won’t be here if the UKIP brigade had its way, doubly so if lottery funding was ended, as some on the right have been long calling for. UK sports also receives money from the EU btw.

Speaking of which, Trump has been unusually quiet about the Olympics. Probably because it doesn’t fit into his narrative of a “broken” America, when they are finishing top of the medal table. And if Mexico isn’t sending the US their best, how about those Mexican American medal winners? Or what about the American Muslim and Jewish athletes? How unamerican of them to train hard and win medals! I particularly like Libertarian Gray Johnson’s tweet, he questioned if Trump was only watching the Olympics to see how high the Mexican pole vaulters could go.

Oh and incidentally, while many athletes didn’t want to talk about Brexit or Trump, those that did ain’t exactly supporters.

Brexit blues

But I digress, Brexiters have also jumped on the slightest hint of good economic news, ignoring the fact that things like factory output or employment figures often reflect conditions several months ago, i.e. before Brexit was announced, or can be thrown off by seasonal factors.

The real threat from Brexit was, and still is long term trends. As the saying goes its the bears that get you in the end, not the stags running for cover. Brexiters might want to spare a thought for example to the workers at Catepillar in Northern Ireland, who were told this week, hundreds of whom were losing their jobs. Further job losses appear to be imminent in ICL. Its possible they may follow in Ford and Nissan over the next few months and years, with other car makers likely to follow. Lloyds of course axed 3,000 last month over Brexit.

Solent News

Indeed recruiters argued that they were seeing a slow down in recruitment levels even before Brexit, as companies brought in hiring freezes in advance of the referendum. In some sectors recruitment rates are now “in freefall, as many companies have held onto those hiring freezes since then. Also even if you’ve been given leave to recruit, as my uni’s been finding, its next to impossible to hire new staff. Think about it, if you’ve got a job already would you risk changing jobs in the present climate? If you move jobs and your new employer decides to start down sizing, it will likely be last in first out, so who in their right mind would want to move? They only way we can recruit now is by hiring people on contract and paying them exorbitant day rates.

And yes, I’m aware there are employment laws meant to prevent LIFO type layoff’s, however I think you’ll find the fine print says they are EU laws. And the chances of a Tory government protecting the rights of employees is somewhere between slim and none.

Now all of this was inevitable. As I’ve pointed out before, UK manufacturing is going to take a hit and Northern Ireland is going to have it the worst post-Brexit. Companies aren’t going to rush for the exits, but they will slow down investment in the UK and stop hiring. Of course this will leave UK factories uncompetitive, meaning any time things are looking lean, they will inevitably pull production in UK firms first, particularly those in Northern Ireland. So let’s not kid ourselves people are losing jobs, or the opportunity to get a job as a result of Brexit. And if you think things are bad now, wait a few years!

Ambushed on Brexit

Indeed Theresa May appears to have been ambushed at the latest G20 talks, by both the Japanese and Americans, who are starting to put the squeeze on the Brits. As I mentioned in prior posts a UK government post-Brexit is going to come under enormous pressure, from international leaders, business, the army and even the government’s own civil servants. This means Brexit, actually might not mean Brexit, or it might just mean the UK becoming a sort of side kick to the EU (sorry, hero support!).

A winter of discontent?

The doctors are threatening a 5 day strike, so I hope everyone’s feeling fit and healthy and not planning on getting ill for a while. And southern rail is still in the grip of industrial action by disgruntled staff…while announcing a £100 million in profit! In both cases the employers are blaming the workers for the strikes…or even Jeremy Corbyn! Which is a bit like overloading a donkey with stuff and then getting angry with the donkey when it collapses from exhaustion.

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The fact is that the government’s policy of squeezing doctors isn’t working, its creating major problems for the NHS. And their policy on privatisation (health care or the railways) is inherently flawed. So their solution is to paper over the cracks and pretend they aren’t there. And likely thanks to Brexit, make strikes harder to hold in future. Will this means things improve post-Brexit? No! Doctors will likely move overseas, we’ll find it even harder to recruit new ones and similarly the situation on the UK’s trains will get even more strained.

You could argue that both junior doctors and the southern rail company are the canaries in the coal mine for problems the rest of the NHS and the rail network will experience further down the line.

Corbyn caught out

And speaking of trains, Corbyn claimed to have sat on the floor the other week all the way to Newcastle, as the train was “ram packed”. But Virgin revealed that actually that wasn’t how things had panned out. Clearly this was a half arsed attempt at the sort of political street theatre other parties engage in all of the time. The trouble is that Corbyn is such a hate figure for many that he can’t pull something like this off. He seems to drive people to a level of maddening hatred. He’s less a party leader and more of a punch bag.

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Consider that I once lost my bag on a Virgin train. I reported it, but they were never able to relocate it. They knew the train, the carriage and the seat number I was in, how much trouble would it have been to go through the CCTV and try to trace the bag? But instead they were quite happy to look at the CCTV footage for several carriages on likely more than one train for several hours to see what Corbyn got up too. This should show you how far Corbyn’s opponents will go to stick the knife in….and how little Virgin cares about its customers.

SpaceX explosion

SpaceX the upstart rocket company founded by Elon Musk suffered a serious technical failure the other day, with a rocket exploding on the pad. They’ve not said why yet, but I could not help but notice that the explosion seemed to start at the upper stage. This suggests some sort of malfunction with the rockets controls (e.g. the upper stage motor fired early), or perhaps a flash fire further down precipitating upwards (think of a champagne bottle…just one filled with rocket fuel).

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Some have started to question if this accident now threatens the future of SpaceX. Well it shouldn’t. Rockets are the very definition of extreme engineering. The most reliable rockets in the world have a success rate of 92%….or put it another way they blow up 1:12 of the times they are launched. SpaceX’s record, if we count this explosion as its 2nd failure out of 29 attempts counts as a 1:14.5 failure rate, well below the best the rest of the industry can manage. Its just that most of the other rockets tend not to fail so publicly, so the media don’t notice.

And SpaceX has pointed that even if the rocket was manned, its escape rocket system would likely have saved the crew. So rumours of SpaceX’s demise are perhaps greatly exaggerated.

Pulling power

One of the first things you notice state side is how much bigger cars are there. There seems to be lots of people who opt for some outrageously large SUV or pick up truck. The perfect thing for towing the boat they don’t own up the mountain they don’t live near. I’ve always felt skeptical of these behemoths feeling they are more pony and less draft horse. Well now I’ve got proof.

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Consider this video of a tug of war between a British Land Rover defender, with a 2.5L engine (at most 160 hp) and a kerb weight of about 1.6 tonnes (they do aluminium bodied versions that weight even less than this, I’m assuming this is the standard steel bodied version) against a Dodge Ram 3500 (Cummin’s Diesel version) with a 5.9L engine and weighing in at closer to 3 tonnes. Who wins?

Well if you watch the video, you’ll see its the Land Rover. Which is not that huge a surprise if you know anything about power to weight ratios. The Land Rover might be smaller and lighter, but that just means its got more power to devote to pulling the Dodge backwards. Driver skill and a manual transmission (with I assume a low torque selector and a diff-lock) also probably makes a big difference.

Plus a lower kerb weight means for lower ground pressure, an important feature in a 4×4 given the need to drive across muddy fields. Hence why real farmers or off road drivers use a Land Rover (or a range of other similar and more practical vehicles, the Toyota Hilux for example). While things like the Dodge Ram are aimed at men, with Trump like small hands, seeking to compensate for something else that’s very small.

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