May 2, 2008

English Nationalism

The fact that English Nationalism has been weak in recent history should be a cause for celebration. Nationalism creates a division, an ‘us and them’ mentality that breeds mistrust and that tends to encourage confrontation. Nationalism is a throwback, something to be avoided, a sign that one is not mature.
Although it is difficult when you are provoked by people like Alex Salmond and French politicians, remember you are an individual first before you are English. Strive to be an individual before a member of any group and you will feel a far greater sense of pride than comes with nationalism.

April 27, 2008

On dumb = cool

Filed under: Musings, Observations — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — conceptualizer @ 10:32 am

I originally posted this in June 2006 as a comment on a post that bemoaned how it was not cool to be smart; worryingly, I think the situation was in school. Anyway, by chance I came across it again a few days ago while searching through my documents and thought it deserved one more mirthful outing, this time on my own blog.

It may be cool to be dumb, but only amongst the dumb. Those of you who are not dumb can pretend to be so if you wish, because the truly dumb will never guess. So we can all be cool, but the not so dumb can in their angst eventually find less dumb things to do with their smart brains than pretend to be dumb. If you don’t find better things to do, then you must in fact be dumb anyway and ergo cool, even though you never realised it. You people should stop worrying about being cool or dumb because you are both, apparently. If you are deeply dumb you were probably lost somewhere a couple of sentences ago and are very cool anyway; you lucky people. If you read this far and are not confused you are probably not dumb, or at least have plenty of time to figure out what un-cool people talk about and are now laughing with your cool mates. If the latter you may want to consider the possibility that you are borderline dumb or have non-dumb tendencies and should perhaps check what you are wearing, in case some of it is un-cool. If the former you can congratulate yourselves on not being dumb, but you mostly likely look a terrible sight. However, in a kind of inversion of the deeply dumb you won’t care and are wondering what all the fuss is about having speed read this or just skipped it because you could see where it was all going. As for the majority of you that think those dumb people and smart people are lucky not to have all this cool and dumb stuff to worry about, consider yourselves lucky. You can choose to look fairly cool or be reasonably smart and have found a distraction at your level, that is why you are the ones most likely to be reading this.
If you respond to this post what does that say about your dumb / cool credentials? Would it be smart or dumb? Everyone will know!

October 31, 2007

Advanced mathematicians required by the public sector

Wow, what a lot of people got involved in this debate.
It must be so important, or vote worthy!
I would be pleased if we could just find some people who can count.
Can it be that complex to organise counting people on and off an island?
Another bloody shambles!

October 30, 2007

Lets hide the debt problem!

Filed under: Economics, Musings, Observations, Worries — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — conceptualizer @ 5:16 pm

The Master Liquidity Enhancement Conduit (MLEC) fund has been created by several big US banks with between $75bn and $100bn (depending upon who you believe) to buy up debt from Structured Investment Vehicles (SIV) which in simple terms are mortgage providers. The debt is largely in the form of Residential Mortgage-Backed Securities (RMBS) and Collateralised Debt Obligations (CDOs) – i.e. mortgages. SIVs, which own about $400bn of assets, are investment pools used by banks, but most enthusiastically by Citigroup who originated them in the 1980’s. It is now clear SIVs have been too keen to offer debt to financially dubious property buyers. The MLEC is an attempt by the private sector to mitigate some of the risks associated with bad debt incurred during the US property price bubble. That bubble was inflated by the poor lending strategies of the SIVs and ultimately those that initiated them. The MLEC fund will be accepting only the best risks, leaving the worst in the SIVs, so they will flounder rather than the banks. It is interesting to speculate as to why this cause was not taken up by the IMF, whose role it is to promote international financial stability. Perhaps they do not see it as a big enough problem.

So can this fund help? Well as an attempt to reintroduce confidence to the market and hence stability, to some extent that is going to happen, especially as it has the tacit approval of the US treasury. However, ultimately the problem is rooted in lending money on the basis of economic growth that was not there. Now that position has to unwind and the costs of the overestimate will have to be dissipated. This fund can only act as a buffer, trying to spread and slow the normalisation cost, it still has to happen. So in that sense it is more like an attempt to convert a painful punch into a protracted uncomfortable pressure. The problem has to be handled and it seems that somewhere someone has made the decision that the drawn out normalisation approach is the better option. So as we get used to the inevitable slowdown, the remaining market confidence will be subdued rather than demolished. In that sense it is a better strategy as stability and confidence are perhaps the most essential assets of a reliable economy. Ultimately the costs of this failing will be carried by everyone, the banks will ensure that, rather than just their shareholders.

September 29, 2007

The age of politicians

Filed under: Debate, Musings, Politics — Tags: , , , — conceptualizer @ 3:15 pm

What is the ideal age for a politician? Clearly neither extreme is good, so as we converge toward the middle ground there must be a best range, perhaps even a best year. It probably varies a little from person to person, but roughly where is it? I was thinking perhaps 45 to 55 might be the golden years. What do we think? Is Menzies Campbell too old, Davis Cameron too young and Gordon Brown about right?

September 25, 2007


Filed under: Musings, Politics, War — Tags: , , , , , , — conceptualizer @ 1:46 pm

Current events in Burma remind me of dire situations in many countries. I have to wonder if those countries ever will have a government of hard working, well balanced, honest, intelligent and visionary leaders. It seems that they are always lost to the lowest common denominator in their people.
Western governments too are a very long way from perfect, even though they like to crow about their high moral principles. It is relative I suppose. They very rarely torture or kill protestors and dissenters, or nakedly display the turpitude and corruption of their executive. However, a clear unadulterated vision seems to elude them, lost in the fog of petty bureaucratic hegemony they flounder. I suppose they would answer that things are not as simple as they seem to the uninitiated, but perhaps would also admit that somewhere along the route they strayed.
Is it inevitable and a symptom of human nature that people who end up with positions of power will be corrupted and misuse them? Or is it that the most corrupt and corruptible peruse power most earnestly? Are people improving over history, or not? Or, in this is a dog-eat-dog world, do people on balance tend get what they deserve, after all, their leaders are culled from among them?
I like to think that things are changing for the better, but it is hard to make a good case for the notion. My own country (the UK) recently took war to another country that was no threat to it at all. A shameful state of affairs, however it was arrived at, via incompetence or lies. Can this be the best of all possible worlds?

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