MichaelCD - The Blog.

The thoughts of Michael Cadwallader. Coffee loving, history book reading, Cheshire man.

Friday, July 28, 2006

The MSM catches up...............

One of my hobby horses is oil (and energy) led inflation, and why, in the current economic climate, we will not be able to tackle it effectively. Many mainstream economists are so bullish on this subject that it is usually given little coverage. In fact, I still have the WSJ predictions from the start of the year, in which they state that oil will hover around the $55-$65 a barrel mark. And, as a consequence of this, interest rates would not be raised after March. They were spectacularly wrong on both counts.

So, I have almost given up on mainstream journalists talking any sense on this issue. However, today, on MSM money, an article tackling this very subject appeared. Here are some of the best bits:
For the global economy this latest conflict, like so many before, is not about what has happened but what might happen. Neither Lebanon, nor Israel for that matter, produces significant amounts of oil. If Syria, a small producer, or more particularly Iran, a huge one, are drawn into conflict then oil supplies may be at risk.

This matters particularly now because there is almost no spare capacity in the world oil supply system. Even a small cut in output could have a big effect on oil prices. The risk to global oil prices is clearly on the upside,” said Julian Jessop, chief international economist at Capital Economics.

And the crunch:
However, while central banks normally fight inflation by increasing interest rates, when faced with the oil-induced combination of imported inflation and slowing growth (stagflation) they are less likely to push up interest rates than when faced with home-grown price rises. That is why the stock market reaction to the Middle East conflict has so far been relatively subdued.
He also talks of the danger that hurricanes pose, as I mentioned in June.

To see such an article linked to on the home page of MSN UK, is immensely satisfying. People need to be aware of the problems facing the economy in the next few months, and articles like this will certainly help.

As I said before, buy some gold!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Compare and Contrast

First, a nice quote from Alan Johnson, Education Secretary:

He told the UK Youth Parliament that exams were not getting easier and critics were sentimentalists harking back to a "mythical golden age".

Critics claim that the rising exam pass rates are evidence of "dumbing down".

But Mr Johnson told the meeting in Leicester that the nation should "take pride in these improvements".

He cited research showing that standards of grammar and punctuation had improved over the past decade.

Hmmm. Well, let's have a look at a little example. This is from The Telegraph's education section, within John Clare's any questions?:

A friend of my daughter has just taken a GCSE in "leisure and
tourism". How difficult is that? Here are some questions from this year's paper set by Edexcel: "Describe two duties of each of the following jobs: chef; lifeguard;
tourist information officer (12 marks); explain how table reservations
and a children's menu could meet the needs of families using a restaurant (6 marks); explain why Australia is classed as a long-haul destination (2 marks); explain why the amount of money people have to spend affects what they choose to do in their leisure time (4 marks)."

Then there is: "Two 20-year-old Swedish girls travelled by plane to London for a three-night short break. They used the London Underground from the airport to their hotel. Each day the girls bought day travel tickets, which they used on buses and the Tube in central London. Explain why they used a bus to travel around London (3 marks) and why they did not travel by taxi from the airport to their hotel (4 marks)". Together, these questions accounted for a third of the marks. The
subject "leisure and tourism counts" as two GCSEs. I hope that this answers your query.

Now let's contrast it with something posted on a Yahoo messageboard:

8th Grade Final Exam: Salina, KS -1895 Five hour exam.

Grammar (Time, one hour)
1. Give nine rules for the use of capital letters.
2. Name the parts of speech and define those that have no modifications.
3. Define verse, stanza and paragraph
4. What are the principal parts of a verb? Give principal parts of

" and "run."
5. Define case; Illustrate each case.
6. What is punctuation? Give rules for principal marks of punctuation. 7
- 10. Write a composition of about 150 words and show therein that you
understand the practical use of the rules of grammar.

Arithmetic (Time, 1:25 hours)
1. Name and define the Fundamental Rules of Arithmetic.
2. A wagon box is 2 ft. deep, 10 feet long, and 3 ft. wide. How many
bushels of wheat will it hold?
3. If a load of wheat weighs 3942 lbs., what is it worth at 50
cts/bushel, deducting 1050 lbs. for tare?
4. District No 33 has a valuation of $35,000. What is the necessary levy
to carry on a school seven months at $50 per month, and have $104 for
5. Find the cost of 6720 lbs. coal at $6.00 per ton.
6. Find the interest of $512.60 for 8 months and 18 days at 7 percent.
7. What is the cost of 40 boards 12 inches wide and 16 ft. long at $20
per square meter?
8. Find bank discount on $300 for 90 days (no grace) at 10 percent.
9. What is the cost of a square farm at $15 per acre, the distance of
which is 640 rods?
10. Write a Bank Check, a Promissory Note, and a Receipt.

U.S. History (Time, 45 minutes)
1. Give the epochs into which U.S. History is divided.
2. Give an account of the discovery of America by Columbus.
3. Relate the causes and results of the Revolutionary War.
4. Show the territorial growth of the United States.
5. Tell what you can of the history of Kansas.
6. Describe three of the most prominent battles of the Rebellion.
7. Who were the following: Morse, Whitney, Fulton, Bell, Lincoln, Penn,
and Howe?
8. Name events connected with the following dates: 1607, 1620, 1800,

There is more, but you have probably already got the point. The point is, can anyone with a straight face really admit that there is no difference?

Sunday, July 23, 2006

The Home Office Saga

Perhaps we have a reason explaining why the Home Office is so 'deliberately negligent':
John Reid has embarked on a major transformation of the Home Office, but one of the causes of its failure has been ignored. In 1999 it was set a target to ensure that 25 per cent of its work force in London was from ethnic minorities by 2009. It exceeded the target by the halfway stage in 2004 and ethnic minorities now make up more than 38 per cent of head office. [...]

Mr Reid has blamed Home Office staff for their failures, but the racial quotas were imposed by his Government. Many officials, police officers and others have watched in stunned disbelief while recruitment on merit has been discarded to meet ethnic targets. They quickly learnt that it was best to keep quiet, and staff who spoke up in favour of fair procedures found themselves in hot water for "inappropriate behaviour".

To make it clear that opponents of ethnic targets stood no chance of promotion, a range of "diversity-related assessments" were included in all staff selection processes from March 2005. What does this mean in practice? A 19-year-old female candidate for the police service recently learnt a hard lesson in diversity awareness. She had passed her written tests, and in her interview was asked what she would do if she needed advice. She replied: "I would go to my sergeant and ask him for help." She failed the interview for referring to the sergeant as "him", thus revealing her lack of gender awareness.

Instead of providing diversity training and lowering standards to increase pass rates, the Home Office should recruit solely according to personal ability, regardless of race, creed or colour. It is not only the best guarantee of quality in public services but also the best safeguard for impartial treatment of ethnic minorities.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A bit of perspective

So far, in the 'Middle Eastern crisis', 229 people have been killed.

On average, every day in Iraq this month, 100 people died. In total 3149 people died in Iraq in the month of June.

If the Lebanon situation is a crisis, what is the adjective needed to describe the current situation in Iraq?

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Lagos and Sagres

Isn't it always the way that as soon as you get to a holiday destination, a nasty bug takes hold of you? It's certainly true with me. I suspect that traveling is to blame, but I am not sure whether it's the plane, or the general stress of traveling.

Anyway, onto the Algarve. Staying in apartments with a large number of British residents, and in a town with a huge number of Irish bars, it felt like Britain in the sun. Maybe that it some people's idea of a great holiday, but not for me. So I decided to see a bit more of the Algarve, especially the area where the ancient Portuguese mariners sailed from. With this in mind I booked myself on a tour of Lagos and Sagres.

The tour bus spent an age picking up people from different apartments and hotels. And there was an large number of different nationalities Americans, British, French, Dutch, German e.t.c. Unfortunately, this turned the tour into a bit of a farce. Some people stayed in the same seats, whereas some people kept chopping and changing. Things then became a bit heated, as couples who had been sitting together were split up. It certainly made the tour a lot more interesting!

Lagos was certainly a pretty town, although there wasn't particularly much to see. It's main claim to fame is that it was the ship building centre of Portugal in the time of Prince Henry the Navigator. So, for me, the highlight was the famous harbour, and here there was a full sized reconstruction of a mid-15th century Caravel.

We then moved onto Sagres, where the ships left for Africa. The tour guide explained that after the death of Prince Henry, the centre of Portugal's maritime empire moved to Lisbon. And Sagres declined markedly after that. It certainly showed, as all that is left is a little fishing village.

Finally, we saw the 'end of the world', Cape St Vincent. The lighthouse is one of the world most powerful, with a beam that can be seen for hundreds of kilometers. It was impressive, although the high cliff did nothing for my fear of heights!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Adeus - For Now.

I will be taking a brief hiatus from blogging, for approximately the next ten days. The reason being that I'm off to the Algarve for some r&r. It's probably a good time for a break as well, considering that interesting news stories have been few and far between recently. Before I do go, I have a couple of observations which I wish to make, on two subjects close to my heart.

Firstly, on 'Dave' Cameron. Today was the straw that broke the camel's back. I will
not vote for the Conservative Party whilst he is leader. Yes, I can hear the incredulous voices of people reading this, asking: Didn't you realise he was a phony before? Of course I did, but it is not that simple. I personally know and like my local Conservative candidate. And this consideration was always at the back of my mind, when I thought about voting. But seeing that 'Dave' has now been unmasked as an immigration enthusiast, leads me to the conclusion that personal loyalty can only go so far.

Secondly, the economic fog is clearing all the time. Do you know what has happened to oil prices recently? They have hit the roof, again. The reasons are twofold; supply can't keep up with demand, and the Dollar is becoming more and more worthless. The solutions to these problems are for demand to collapse, thanks to a recession, or the Fed to stop printing so much money, in an attempt to service its debt. Neither of these scenarios are likely.

Ben Bernanke's hawkish words on interest rates, have been replaced by dovish ones recently. It's understandable; stuck between a rock and a hard place, which do you choose? The fact is a recession is politically unacceptable, and its effects on a highly leveraged society would be devastating. So, instead, we are left with uncontrollable inflation.

Such a scenario, and its effects, leads us nicely on to my post from Wednesday, and Martin's comment on it. Many families are already racked with debt, they are also faced by escalating bills. The very people who will desperately need wages increases, will be faced with the prospect of 50,000 Bulgarians and hundreds of thousands more illegals in the job market, stagnating wages further. It all adds up to a lot of people getting poorer, the only question is, how many of these will be Labour Party donors?

Finally, being the shameless Italophile that I am,
per domani sera, Forza Italia, Forza Azzurri!!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

The Mess That Gordon Made?

The average family is 10 per cent worse off than it was five years ago, according to a new analysis of income and outgoings before and after tax. The accountants Ernst & Young said yesterday that average incomes had risen but most households' mortgage and fuel costs had increased by even more. Motorists' costs over the period rose by more than a third.

Higher council tax, national insurance contributions (NICs) and income tax helped to knock £82 a month off a typical family's discretionary spending power, said Tim Sleep, of Ernst & Young. The accountants used figures from the Office for National Statistics, the Bank of England and many other sources to measure domestic income
and expenditure. Taking a couple with two children aged under 16 as their typical
family, Ernst & Young calculated that income before tax increased by 18 per cent to about £3,670 per month, or £44,000 a year. But, during the same five-year period, income tax and NICs jumped by 25 per cent to leave them with net income of £2,640 per month, or £31,680.
Heavier borrowing secured against property caused typical mortgage costs to jump by 66 per cent to exceed £600 a month. Motorists' costs rose by more than a third while some household utilities, such as gas, now cost half as much again as they did five years ago. The cumulative effect on the average family has been to cut the cash it has to spend on whatever it likes by one tenth, to about £740 per month. Mike Warburton, of the accountants Grant Thornton, said: "This is why we have the Government telling us we are better off while we feel worse off, because we are left with less to spend on things we enjoy."
The property/equity pips have been squeezed to the max, now the pips are squeaking like a pack of rats in a burning house!

Monday, July 03, 2006


Do you know the reason why Ghana was eliminated from the World Cup? I thought it was because they couldn't defend if their lives depended on it. But no, apparently it's because of, yes you guessed it, racism.
The dust created by human stampedes still looms low in the air after hastily arranged street protests appeared around Ghana. Scrawled slogans on torn pieces of cardboard read "Africa boycott the World Cup," and "The white man has ruined us again," emphasising the strength of feeling against the obrunis - white people - their alleged discriminators.
Referee Lubos Michel is the guilty one. He's the white man who is responsible for favouring the opposition, Brazil over the poor Ghanaians. Yes, you read that right, Brazil, hardly a team full of Nordic types!

Of course it's all very unsurprising. Africans will always be 'victims', in both their own eyes and in the eyes of the liberal West. And this s
myth will make sure they always remain 'victims'.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Ninety Years Ago Today

On this day, ninety years ago, 20,000 British soldiers lost their lives. Whatever you are doing today, spare a moments thought for them.

The Soldier

If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.

And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.