Sunday, 18 January 2015

That Swiss currency peg

Say what you like about the Swiss decision to abandon its Euro currency peg, given that most of the hedge funds that have blown up as a consequence are likely to be American ones it provides a neat come-back for all those fines of Swiss banks, and attacks on Swiss banking secrecy, by the U.S.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Testes 'most distinct human tissue'

So says an article on the BBC's web site. What they mean by 'most distinct' is the number of specialist genes expressed during the normal functioning of the testicular tissue. So: testes, 999; cerebral cortex 318; the liver, 172 and so on.

At the end of the article it's suggested that the testes have 'more distinctive proteins because of their focus on producing large numbers of sperm without any errors in their genetic code'. I'm not sure I can detect an argument there, but doubtless a read of the original paper would be more informative.

One thing not present in the BBC article, but suggested by a moment's thought, is that this may have something to do with the modern drop off in sperm quality. The more genes expressed, the more pathways that are doing something, and the greater the possibility that exposure to some random chemical — be it industrial or pharmaceutical — will make something go wrong.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

What is happening to America?

When I grew up in 1950s / 1960s Britain, feelings of goodwill and gratitude towards the U.S. for the role it played in the second World War were strong, and I retained them into my 40s and even my early 50s — though there was no denying that Dubya's foreign policy, especially in Iraq (or should I say, especially towards Saddam, since it was clearly a personal thing) was deeply flawed.

Looking back, Bush senior seems to have been the last president that I could have much respect for, and the progression Clinton, Dubya, Obama has marked a clear decline not only in competency but also in morality, and not only abroad but also at home. The country is well on the way to being a police state, and its foreign policy is now the Gold Standard for wilful stupidity and wretched incoherence globally.

Not content to have created ISIS by its policy of arming the Syrian rebels, thereby causing the utmost misery in both Syria and Iraq (and soon, Europe and the U.S. itself, as the chickens come home to roost), America now seems to be embarking on a plan that I can only call evil. It will bomb ISIS inside Syria, to deny it any place of safe refuge, but it will also bomb and destroy targets and installations of the Assad regime, to maintain balance. That is, it won't allow Assad to profit from America's destruction of ISIS assets. Seemingly lost amongst all this is that the U.S. will be violently terminating human lives, in their dozens and hundreds if not thousands, belonging to members of the Syrian armed forces (I don't care about the ISIS abominations) for symmetry. This is inhuman. The U.S. has become a plague among nations, a rabid dog. I never thought I would see the day.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Just found this site and read a few articles, got to say that so far it looks superb. The articles I read not only skewer the BBC's biased reporting, but they provide a very clear intellectual framework and vocabulary to allow you to do the same yourself!

Moreover, there's a helpful guide to complaining to the BBC here.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Dump the fish oils

From the Canadian Journal of Cardiology:

During the 1970s, two Danish investigators, Bang and Dyerberg, upon being informed that the Greenland Eskimos had a low prevalence of coronary artery disease (CAD) set out to study the diet of this population. ... This was the beginning of a proliferation of studies that focused on the cardioprotective effects of the “Eskimo diet”. ... we conducted a review of published literature to examine whether mortality and morbidity due to CAD are indeed lower in Eskimo/Inuit populations compared to their Caucasian counterparts. Most studies found that the Greenland Eskimos as well as the Canadian and Alaskan Inuit have CAD as often as the non-Eskimo populations. ... Our conclusion is that this hypothesis lacked a solid foundation.

Another diet fad bites the dust. You won't be hearing about this result down at the health food shop!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The ongoing collapse of Japan

Required reading: How Japan Blew Its Savings Surplus: What A Keynesian Dystopia Looks Like. Especially frightening: "even at today’s absurdly low and BOJ rigged bond rate of 0.6%, nearly 25% of government revenue is absorbed by interest payments".

The comments on this article are also interesting, there being one or two enlightening observations along with the usual ZH circle-jerk. Notably: as the balance of payments declines, asset sales abroad and consequent repatriation will put upwards pressure on the yen; if there is private selling too, though that will presumably mostly be JGBs so no exchange rate effect, there will be inflation; inflation plus a high exchange rate equals stagflation! And more, faster selling.

Look also at an article from yesterday: Japanese Bond Futures Volume Collapses To Zero Even As Service Sector Implodes. The Bank of Japan is now the only buyer for Japanese Government Bonds, and as Japan goes today, so America will go tomorrow.

Friday, 6 June 2014

The BBC's stunning hypocrisy

In a truly shameless example of the pot calling the kettle black, my Feedly stream from the BBC today contains an arresting link: "Russia's 'Stalinist' propaganda machine". I'm drawn to click on it because I've been constantly reading about the developing crisis in the Ukraine, since the days of Nuland's taped phone call, where she was discussing how the U.S. was fomenting the rebellion that finally boiled over into an armed coup. Also, for those who appreciate the tragicomedy of life, the irony of the epically Stalinist BBC accusing others of being propagandists is ... well ... just, well...

Tellingly the writer, one Bridget Kendall, spent some time doing postgraduate work in the U.S., and seems to be also a Guardian contributor. 'Nuff said!

The article starts off with an attempt to evoke a suprisingly elegiac existence ("the heady scent of lilac on the long warm evenings") — that of young Muscovites — and segues into how it may be on the brink of disaster because of the adventurism of the Russian President ("It's as though everyone is a spectator at a sporting event, or watching a game show on TV - a detached enjoyment, as though this orgy of Russian patriotism carries no consequences, so there is no point in thinking where it might lead."). It's a bit like watching a poor B-movie, where the bad things that are going to happen are heralded by a sudden fearfulness in the music. Interesting also that the word she uses to describe a display of patriotism is "orgy", with its many negative connotations. Indeed, since the word "orgy" must not now have anything except a positive connotation at the BBC when used to describe yer actual group sex, the negative usage seems to be restricted to what our ancestors thought were the old virtues.

After quoting a few more dissidents — academics who bemoan the country's slide into materialism and its inexplicable lack of appetite for the goals of the liberal intelligentsia — she finishes with a little dig at one of Putin's academic supporters, who apparently "smiles slyly" — ooh girl, the shivers are fairly coursin' down me spine!

All in all, an excellent example of why the BBC should be shut down immediately.