versatilism

David Cameron (from Wikipedia 2100)

Prime Minister of UK (including Scotland until 2014) from 2010 to 2017. Widely seen as the catalyst behind the renewed decline of the UK, after a brief respite in the 30 years previously (see entries for Margaret Thatcher and Gordon Brown). On becoming Prime Minister in 2010, embarked on a fiscal austerity programme which delayed a recovery from the Great Recession until 2013, accelerated the privatisation of public services and encouraged social hostility to immigration and the poor.

This proved to be a decisive factor in Scotland narrowly voting Yes to independence in 2014. (The other was his decision not to allow a third option for greater devolution.) His administration was then bogged down in negotiations with Scotland for the next two years, which caused increasing bitterness between the two countries. In the UK election of 2015 the SNP captured many Scottish Labour seats, but refused to form a coalition government with Labour, allowing Cameron to continue to lead a minority government with tacit support from the LibDems and (initially) UKIP.

Most historians naturally point to his promise of a referendum on EU membership as his biggest mistake. In the short term this meant that UKIP’s success in the 2015 election was as much at the expense of Labour as his own party. But his decision to recommend voting Yes to continued membership in the EU referendum in 2017 led to an attempt to unseat him as leader which narrowly failed (see entry on Boris Johnson), and then large scale defections of MPs from his party to UKIP. Campaigning under the slogan ‘If Scotland can do it, so can we’, and with the support of large sections of the press, UKIP leader Nigel Farage achieved a very narrow majority to leave the EU, forcing Cameron to resign. Some argue that the Scottish independence decision was critical here, as he would have won the referendum vote if Scotland had stayed part of the UK. A few argue that the decision to break up the BBC and allow partisan broadcasting, and in particular the rebranding of ITV into FOX-UK, was a more important factor in losing the EU vote.

There is some dispute as to how much Cameron himself is to blame for these events, or how much was the work of his Chancellor (and his successor as Prime Minister) George Osborne. There also remains some controversy over whether the inability of the economy to make up the ground it lost during the recession was due to the initial austerity plan, renewed austerity after 2015, controls on immigration or the uncertainty created by the referendum itself and subsequent EU exit.

It is a great irony that the only leader of this period whose current reputation is lower than Cameron’s is his opponent in the Scottish independence debate Alex Salmond, now widely known in Scotland as the Great Deceiver. Scotland’s own economic decline following independence was far greater, following a collapse in oil prices and the loss in UK markets when Scotland joined the EU.

By Ann Pettifor & Jeremy Smith, 15th September 2014

The Scottish campaign for independence is effectively an uprising against the British state and its collusion with the globalized, mobile finance sector and supranational corporations. It is a protest against an economic and political system increasingly centralized and aloof—a protest bound to spread to other equally neglected regions.

It is a campaign to end allegiance to Westminster politicians that promote and/or tolerate austerity and the accelerating privatisation of the NHS and other national assets.

Rising anger against the establishment has mobilised support behind the campaign for Scottish independence. We share this anger and believe the Scots are right to challenge both the above, and also the narrow focus of Britain’s politicians on, e.g., voters in marginal seats.

But the uprising is led by a political party (the SNP) whose campaign will lead to Scottish subordination to the British state on the one hand, and to multinational corporations on the other. And make no mistake: the SNP’s determination to fragment the British state—even if achieved peacefully and even if it were possible to define a Scottish government as progressive—ultimately serves the interests of footloose finance capital more than those of the Scottish people. 

The currency question

The SNP seems to have ruled out an independent Scottish currency and central bank, which we and other economists recommend as the only solution consistent with sovereignty and independence—even if it, too, is a risky strategy for a country of less than five million taxpayers.

The SNP’s commitment to a currency union with Britain, as many have argued, is a commitment to subordinate Scottish economic independence to the control of the British Treasury and the Bank of England (BoE). As the Governor of the BoE Mark Carney repeatedly says: a currency union is not compatible with sovereignty.

Under a currency union, the Bank of England and Treasury will influence and shape the exchange rate of Scotland’s currency (sterling) and Scotland’s interest rates. Furthermore, the British Treasury will insist on final control over an independent Scotland’s taxation and spending policies, and the management of its public debt. Scotland can today have some say over Treasury policies. An independent Scotland in a monetary union will have no say.

Post-independence, 59 million British taxpayers will not be willing to guarantee, via the BoE, the bank deposits of 5 million Scottish citizens. The BoE will no longer regulate, manage or lend to Scottish banks. As a result and over time, money will flow out of Scottish banks, bankruptcy will loom, so banks will quickly migrate their HQs to London, to flout free market ideology and seek protection from losses from British taxpayers.

The SNP and the Euro

The SNP have also argued they do not want and are not obliged to join the Euro. This is legally wrong, unless, as is most unlikely, they can negotiate an opt-out from the Euro, on the same basis as the UK and Denmark originally.

To join the EU requires Scotland to sign up to economic and monetary union, including eventual Euro membership. Pre-Euro member states have a ‘dispensation’—not an exemption from joining the Euro, but from immediate adoption of the Euro. Strictly, a member state can be obliged to adopt the Euro once it meets convergence criteria. The SNP argue they are not so obliged because joining the Exchange Rate Mechanism is ‘voluntary’. This is to misread EU Treaty requirements.

Moreover, Treaty provisions imply that every Member State must have its national central bank, which could perhaps be the Bank of England in a formal currency union, but not otherwise. But a union in which one party (residual UK) is not bound to adopt the Euro, but another is bound to work towards such union, seems fraught with potential contradiction.

Looking to the long-term, an independent Scotland that joins the EU will join the Euro. This will curtail Scotland’s economic independence.

Furthermore Scotland under the SNP will follow Ireland and attract multinational corporations by cutting corporation tax, making Scotland one of the friendliest European jurisdictions for Big Business.

In conclusion, while the uprising against the British establishment is wholly justified, the SNP’s project for political independence tied to economic dependence, will lead Scottish politics down a blind alley. Independence under the SNP will not liberate the Scottish people. On the contrary: Scottish interests will be subordinated to London (under a currency union) or ultimately, under the Euro, to an unaccountable central bank in Frankfurt.

Our biggest concern remains this: de-regulated, supranational Haute Finance welcomes the fragmentation of states, which tends to increase their dependence on inward flows of capital and global bond markets. Unless they have a large surplus (as with Norway) small states can easily be pressured to adopt Finance-serving policies.

So while the current level of political engagement, debate and anger is right and courageous, the channels along which it is directed by the SNP leadership will maintain a state of dependence on the very politicians, policies and institutions they are keen to reject.

That would be a tragic defeat for the rising political consciousness and growing political power of the Scottish people.

This article by PRIME’s co-Directors is cross-posted from the New Left Project’s website

smartercities:

Smart ideas can turn city into a better place, here’s one. The dancing traffic light.

mapsontheweb:

The short-lived North Sea Empire ruled by Cnut the Great c. 1028. Red: Cnut was king Orange: Vassal states Yellow: Allied states

mapsontheweb:

The short-lived North Sea Empire ruled by Cnut the Great c. 1028. Red: Cnut was king Orange: Vassal states Yellow: Allied states

frigginboom:

Did you know the new Apple Watch is for spying? Cause it totally is.

frigginboom:

Santa vs.Wonka

frigginboom:

Santa vs.Wonka

"[Robert R. Taylor] was just driving to work one day and he had been looking at the soap in the sink and seeing how messy it was and he was like, ‘There’s got to be a way to not have to deal with that,’" …

He came up with the marketing concept first. Then, through home experimentation and some trial and error, created the soap.

He planned to begin selling SoftSoap in 1980 through his small company, Minnetonka Corp., but realized that if it caught on, huge home products manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson, where he had once worked, would copy the soap-in-a-pump-bottle idea and quickly put him out of business.

So he leveraged his company for every penny it was worth, $12 million, and bought 100 million little bottle hand-pumps from the only two U.S. manufacturers that made them. It created a back order so huge that the businesses couldn’t make pumps for anybody else for more than a year, giving Taylor’s brand time to become established.

In six months, he had sold $25 million worth of SoftSoap. Earlier this year, Inc. Magazine declared his cornering of the hand-pump market one of the three shrewdest business moves ever made.

Robert R. Taylor, creator of SoftSoap, dead at 77, AP

Completely missed this when the news broke at the end of July.

The revelation will increase concerns that the justice secretary is intent on ramming through the privatisation programme regardless of the consequences.

An email chain seen by Politics.co.uk earlier this month showed a member of staff at a probation trust informing an employee with 20 years experience that he was selected for one of the new Community Rehabilitation Companies (CRCs) by random lottery.

"Can you please advise me on the criteria of how the PSOs [parole officers] were selected between CRC and NPS [National Probation Trust]," the parole officer wrote.

"I have heard a disturbing rumour that names were placed in a hat, hopefully this was not the case."

The support manager wrote back: “There was a random selection process and employee numbers were used to select between NPS and CRC.

"Employee numbers were drawn out of a hat by a panel of three."

Shocking treatment.

Grayling is keen to force through the contracts before 2015 so that they cannot be easily cancelled by Sadiq Khan if Labour gets into power.

Reports about chaos in probation are starting to seriously concern experts, who fear sex offenders and other potentially dangerous individuals could slip through the cracks of a fragmented system.

Analysts are particularly concerned about the way that separate commercial operations will limit probation staffs’ access to information on people who fall under the jurisdiction of a different company.

Whereas probation staff could previously check the IT system for information on a given individual, certain elements of the individual’s track will now be blocked off to them because it is under contract with a separate firm.

Is this really something we want to rush through without fully considering consequences?

The companies will be paid on the basis of how many people do not go on to re-offend, although there are concerns that it is impossible to isolate the causal link to why offenders go on the straight and narrow.

Most prisoners have a mixture of difficulties, such as low literacy levels, mental disorders, broken family connections and employability.

To make the contracts potentially profitable, firms have been handed very large quantities of cases, with large payments being front loaded to cover the additional costs of supervising all prisoners subject to short prison sentences.

The MoJ has failed to provide thorough information about the expected costs of the programme, any anticipated savings, likely reductions in reoffending or estimates about impacts on the future cost of the system.

Khan has demanded that the £6 billion contracts are not signed late in the parliament and that they include a break clause which would allow a new government to walk away from them.

smartereveryday:

Wow… and actual volcano explosion shock wave.  Insane.  Hey!  We can do math on this!

The explosion happens at 0:12 seconds in, and the shock wave hits at 0:25 seconds.  13 seconds for the shock wave to hit the boat.

The speed of sound at sea level is 331.5 m/s (741.5 mph)

Velocity = Distance / Time

Therefore

Distance = Velocity x Time

Distance = 331.5 m/s x 13 seconds: = 4,309.5 meters

Ok.. so now we know the distance to the volcano… we can assume:

Density of the air at sea level = 1.224 kg/m^3

Speed of sound = 331.5 m/s as above

r = 4,309.5 meters from math….

If we had a calibrated microphone on the camera we could use the following equation from the paper "Generation and propagation of infrasonic airwaves from volcanic explosions"  to calculate the pressure in the volcano at the moment of explosion.

Acoustic Energy Equation

My raw notes for posterity.

brooklynmutt:

Daily Mail informs readers iCloud is not an actual cloud.
via theguardian.com

brooklynmutt:

Daily Mail informs readers iCloud is not an actual cloud.

via theguardian.com

Have an idea? Tell everyone you meet about it: Entrepreneurs often make the mistake of keeping their idea to themselves out of fear that it will be stolen. Ideas aren’t immobile, concrete things that can be stolen. They’re living, breathing, social beings that benefit greatly from coming into contact with other ideas.
Replace formulas with values with a simple wiggle, Chandoo
WHO KNEW

Replace formulas with values with a simple wiggle, Chandoo

WHO KNEW

Now that you mention it... why are tripeds not a thing? What makes the 2n-pedal system more effective?

edwardspoonhands:

It’s not that it’s more effective, the fact that all animals have an even number of legs is a byproduct of evolution. 

The most primitive animals (think sea sponge) don’t have any symmetry…they don’t have specialized tissues either…there’s no real blue-print for their body. But as animals got more complicated, they needed some way to lay out their body tissues. Initially, this was done radially. There was a center, and all tissues radiated out from that center. Jellyfish, star fish, those spikey things that I can’t remember the name of for some reason.

Radially symmetrical organisms are the only ones you could argue might have an odd number of legs (like starfish) but they don’t /really/ have legs at all.

Eventually, a new base blueprint arose that spread like crazy…bilateral symmetry. So, basically, there’s only one way you can slice me in half and get roughly the same thing on both sides. That’s true of the vast majority of animals. 

Symmetry is easier for genetic evolution because (very basically) you only have to code things once to get it twice. There’s actually all kinds of examples of efficient coding…like the genes that code for each of your fingers and toes (which are kind of like non-2n little legs on the end of your legs) are almost all the same genes, just expressed slightly differently for each different finger and toe. 

I’m getting off track…basically animals have even numbers of legs because they have bi-laterally symmetrical bodies because they are all related to each other and because symmetry allowed animals to evolve into more forms more quickly.

If you want to read about the specifics of how all this works on the genetic level, google “hox genes.”

Big fan of hox genes. Very cool.

I am pushing an unusual way of considering economic health. I call it “distributional thinking.” It requires that you not aggregate everything into one statistic, but rather take a few samples from different parts of the distribution and consider things from those different perspectives.

So instead of saying “things are great because the economy has expanded at a rate of 4%” I’d like us to think about more individual definitions of “great.”

For example, it’s a good time to be rich right now. Really good. The stock market keeps hitting all-time highs, the jobs market is great in tech, and it’s still absolutely possible to hide wealth in off-shore tax havens.

It’s not so good to be middle class. Wages are stagnant and have been forever, and jobs are drying up due to automation and a lack of even maintenance-level infrastructure work. Colleges are super expensive, and the best the government can do is fiddle around the edges with interest rates.

It’s a really bad time to be poor in this country. Jobs are hard to find and conditions are horrible. There are more and more arrests for petty crimes as the violent crime rate goes down. Those petty crime arrests lead to big fees and sometimes jail time if you can’t pay the fee. Look at Ferguson as an example of what this kind of frustration this can lead to.

Once you are caught in the court system, private probation companies act as abusive debt collectors, and nobody controls their fees, which can be outrageous. To be clear, we let this happen in the name of saving money: private for-profit companies like this guarantee that they won’t cost anything to the local government because they make the people on probation pay for services.

And even though that’s an outrageous and predatory system, it’s not likely to go away. Once they are officially branded as criminals, the poor often lose their voting rights, which means they have little political recourse to protect themselves. On the flip side, they are largely silent about their struggles for the same reason.

Once you think about our economic health this way, you realize how comparatively meaningless the GDP is. It is no longer a good proxy to true economic health, where all classes would be more or less better off as it went up.

And until we get on the same page, where we all go up and down together, it is a mathematical fact that no one statistic could possibly capture the progress we are or are not making. Instead, we need to think distributionally.

Distributional Economic Health, Mathbabe

I’m not a great believer in dictate and control. If you get behind them and encourage them and listen to their world and give them a bit of ownership about how to approach it all, I feel that’s the best way to get the best out of people.

“…I met Steve Peters [the sports psychologist], who gave me a fantastic insight into how the human works. Meeting him was the right time for me, because how you use power, aggressiveness and assertiveness – they’re subtle [issues].”

Long-term versus short-term is another vital subject, especially in football, parts of which are lurching into a 12-month cycle of sacking managers with no heed to strategy. I see this as one of modern football’s most corrosive problems, and Brailsford offers a vision I would like to see more often in my own industry.

He says: “If you haven’t got a vision of where you’re going in the next four, five years, it’s going to impact on the here and now.” Success brings its own dangers, as we both know: stale routines and a possible drop in hunger.