Monday, 30 March 2009

Not a Morning Person

Volatility Explained

Since the start of 2008, the cumulative return to holding the S&P500 between 9.30am and 2pm been -54%. In contrast, the cumulative return to holding the S&P500 between 2pm and 4pm has been +35%.

This has been worked out by those charitable folk at Goldman Sachs. We must suppose, now that they have told us, that their prop desk has decided it no longer behaves like this.

But I believe that this is yet more evidence that a good City lunch, paid for by someone else's shareholders, benefits everyone.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Breath of Fresh Air, contd

Chapter two. In which our hero discusses the NHS and small government with a (admittedly) right wing news channel in America.

What I like about Hannan is his uncomplicated philosophy. He does not attempt to dress his views up in political terms, either to make them sound more centrist, or to help his own advancement. He is honest. I'm thinking of inviting him to become Patron of my nascent political movement, the No Nonsense Party.

Friday, 27 March 2009

Political Science

For those who do not read the estimable Croydonian, he has posted a GREAT LINK that many of you will enjoy. None more so, I suggest, than the Tuscan, for whom this kind of information provided the inspiration for his blog all those years and posts ago.

The number 1 global political totty is pictured above. A leftie, but full of Peruvian promise, it seemed. She beat Mara Carfagna, about whom the Tuscan has trumpeted, into second place. The Croydonian, his heartbeat quickening, rushed to Google images for more 'evidence' of Peruvian Luciana's pulchritude. He came away disappointed, as did I. Has the 20minutos voting got it right?

The way to solve this is for you to spend a bit of time scrolling down the list (waste no time on Ms Flint of Great Britain), and post your top ten, in order, in the comments. All in the name of political science, of course.

How numbers 32 and 43 got in, we'll never know; presumably to increase the number of random hits, as they are somewhat more famous than the real totty on view.

The best named, I need hardly suggest, is number 18.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Rat Jumps Into Sinking Ship

"An Essex Conservative council leader has quit his party and joined Labour.

Terry Hipsey blamed the Conservatives' taxation policies for his decision, as well as Prime Minister Gordon Brown's handling of the recession."

I beg your pardon? Surely shome mishtake. Full story here. Actually, it can't be the full story; something else has happened, I'll bet. Anyway, that's Terry Hipsey for you. Middle name Hoon, I think.

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Dan Hannan Fillets McBust

Magnificent. Proud of my MEP. Good to see that the European Parliament allows uninterrupted ad hominem broadsides like this. A combination of a biased Speaker and orchestrated backbench shouting and yobbery makes this impossible in the Mother of Parliaments.

Monday, 23 March 2009

Gawd Bless 'er

Thank God for traditional British memorial art. They have made a good job of the new Queen Mum statue at Carlton House, standing beneath the old King. Simple, regal and profound. Sort of thing a chap likes to look at on his way to his club for lunch. I was so impressed, I took a snap for you.
A bit of an improvement on the GCSE Art failure of the Queen Elizabeth Gate at Hyde Park Corner:

Does that lion rampant have golden balls? Is it a lion at all? Looks more like a monkey climbing a tree. Not a bad unicorn, but it looks a bit hard-trained, more like a racing greyhound. As for the peacock and the floral tree, beats me. The tourist guides probably witter on about their significance as a metaphor of her life, etc, but it strikes me as a load of balls.

Friday, 20 March 2009

Change the Law and Let Patsy Hewitt Top Herself

The answer, since you asked, to yesterday's teaser was: Tessa Jowell and Patricia Hewitt.

Jowell, the oh-so-nice, oh-so-innocent friend of just about everyone in Westminster, is demonstrably idiotic. Whoever let her loose with the Olympic budget should have been weighed down with shot-putt balls and thrown into the synchronized swimming pool to drown. When she told us that the Olympics would cost less than £3bn, it was clear that she was A) stupid, or B) dishonest, neither of which recommended themselves as reasons to put this woman in charge of such a big and expensive operation. Where are we now on the budget - £13bn? Do I hear £14bn?

Patsy Hewitt, that supercilious blue-stocking who oozes sanctimony and cant in a way as yet unequalled by her NuLabour colleagues, managed to spend something approaching £15bn on the world's worst-ever computer implementation project. For her next trick, she managed to bugger up the careers of thousands of newly-qualified doctors, many of whom had to leave this country to work overseas, after the considerable expense of training them, which costs around £250,000 per quack, I gather. Even if she was telling me that I'd landed the Euromillions lottery, I'd still want to strangle her, so ghastly is That Voice.

And then today, she pops up from nowhere, supporting a change in the assisted suicide law. Fantastic! I'll drive you to Clifton Bridge myself and watch you jump.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

Is This Man the Worst Minister Ever?

Sion Simon - journalist, socialist, onanist, rapper, MINISTER of the CROWN. Jeesus! This is a man of no discernable talent whatsoever. Frank Field languishes on the backbenches whilst this hopeless fool draws a ministerial salary and a Ford Mondeo plus driver. He is a barrel-scraping, a typical fin-de-siecle government appointment; the political equivalent of being the last boy picked for a game of playground football. A howling embarrassment, and no mistake.

His performance on the Today programme this morning, being lightly grilled by Humphrys over a cock-up that has resulted in many higher education establishments becoming insolvent, was a career-ending ten minutes, surely. When I listen to Labour ministers prevaricating and obfuscating, I expect them to do better than this. (Between 0810 and 0820, when they put it onto playback). [Update - Dale has the link and the transcript]

Of course, this is not a one-horse race. There are one or two names that immediately come to mind, one of whom held much more responsibility than little Sion, therefore her shit-to-bucks ratio was considerably higher. No prize for the first person to name her. Actually, I can think of two wimmin who answer to such a description. Small prize to the first one to name them together.

It is natural to concentrate on the last 12 years of Labour government, but we should not ignore the claims of some members of the Major government, which at times threatened to equal Ted Heath's years as the worst Tory government of the C20th. Stand up, David Mellor! Take a bow, John Gummer!

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Holidays in Hell

The stockmarket meltdown and crippling school fees have resulted in the idle family booking their next holiday from the less salubrious end of the wine list, as it were. Trip Advisor is a crucial tool under these circumstances. You get a sense, from the comments sections, of the people you are likely to be standing next to at the breakfast buffet:

"We bought 'Ray-Ban' sunglasses for five euros from a street trader, only to find out they were fake."

"No-one told us there would be fish in the sea. The children were startled."

"It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England; it took the Americans only three hours to get home."

"My fiancé and I booked a twin-bedded room but we were placed in a double-bedded room. We now hold you responsible for the fact that I find myself pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked."

"I compared the size of our one-bedroom apartment to our friends' three-bedroom apartment and ours was significantly smaller."

"The brochure states: 'No hairdressers at the accommodation'. We're trainee hairdressers - will we be OK staying here?"

"There are too many Spanish people. The receptionist speaks Spanish. The food is Spanish. Too many foreigners."

"The sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as yellow but it was white."

"We had to queue outside with no air conditioning."

"It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel."

"I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts."

"It's lazy of the local shopkeepers to close in the afternoons. I often needed to buy things during 'siesta' time - this should be banned."

"On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don't like spicy food at all."

"We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our swimming costumes and towels."

"Our African game lodge overlooked a waterhole, where I spotted a visibly aroused elephant. The sight of this rampant beast made me feel inadequate and ruined my honeymoon."

"The beach was too sandy."

"Topless sunbathing on the beach should be banned. The holiday was ruined as my husband spent all day looking at other women."

Thursday, 12 March 2009

At Odds With His Position

His good points outweigh the bad many times over, and I will forgive him any number of weird stories about incorrectly-squeezed toothpaste, the boiling of three eggs to ensure that one of them is perfect, and the shipping of his Bentley to foreign parts ahead of his official visits. I am delighted that he has made an honest woman out of Mrs Parker Bowles after years of cuckolding her husband, a gallant and patient brother officer of HM's forces. The Prince's Trust is a superb organisation, about which he is very modest. His sons clearly love him and respect him and he seems to have done a good job with them, despite the obvious complications. I support the monarchy without reservation.

Constitutional monarchs-to-be of democratic countries don't do economics; this is a sound principle, for economics means politics, and politics is a no-no. Instead, the PoW has championed Green causes. For many years, this was the stuff of rainforests, sustainable development, drinking water and sensible farming. No sane person could object to his heartfelt objection to the grubbing up of hedgerows, unnecessary plastic packaging, and his encouragement of wildflower meadows. If he wanted Highgrove to be organic, so be it.

But that was then. Over the past decade, the new religion of man made global warming has taken root like ragwort and the Prince, with Al Bore and Bongo, the singing Irish eejit, has been among the most famous adherents to this new orthodoxy. Politicians, on the look out for zeitgeist currents, have paddled out to join him. It takes a political leader of rare independence of mind to row in another direction. Sadly, only Vaclav Klaus appears to have been in the queue when they were handing out cojones. What this has turned into is perhaps the major economic issue of our times, and therefore a political issue. One of limitless taxation potential.

So the Prince, mindful of his position, would be wise to retreat to a less exposed position. Instead, he is upping the ante, telling us that we have 100 months to save the world, and kicking sand in the face of the puny little banking crisis, telling us that we risk spending too much time and effort (and money?) on the economic meltdown and not enough time doing whatever it is that will, indeed, save us. Something to do with nano-technology, perhaps. I might have got that bit wrong; perhaps those nanos were going to take over the world and we should be terrified. Anyway, one of the two. He does not appear to acknowledge dissenting scientific voices and evidence.

The Prince is riding for a fall with this, and it could end in tears. His advisors need to put some bromide in the royal lapsang souchong, and quick.

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

An Uncommon Death

This is a surprising and regrettable story. There was I thinking you could only get your hands on one of these if you signed for it and were left with Q's exhortations ringing in your ears: "And 007, DO be careful with it!". But I do not mean to be light-hearted. This is deadly serious.

The rat-loving, bunny-hugging, human-loathing sabs appear to have got hold of one, with which they irritated the hell out of the Warwickshire Hunt and then, perhaps deliberately, used it as a lethal weapon:

From The Times
March 10, 2009
A keen hunt supporter has been killed after being hit by a gyrocopter believed to have been monitoring hunts in the area.

Trevor Morse, 48, died after the incident at Long Marston airfield, near Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, yesterday. Two men were arrested on suspicion of murder and were being questioned by officers in Leamington Spa last night.

Between 80 and 100 huntsmen were out yesterday at the hunt in Moreton-in-Marsh on the last day of the Warwickshire hunt season. The hunt met at the village of Todenham at 11.45am and the light aircraft, first spotted at noon, followed it for about two hours.

It is understood that an animal rights group, Protect Our Wild Animals, has been monitoring the Warwickshire and the Heythrop hunts from a gyrocopter over the past three weeks. Masters of the hunt told The Times that one of the low-flying aircraft had been reported to the Civil Aviation Authority and the police about ten days ago, amid fears that it was upsetting animals. It was said to have been swooping in an aggressive manner over the hunt.

Emergency services were called to the airfield just after 3pm yesterday after reports of a collision involving an aircraft and a pedestrian. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene. It is believed that Mr Morse had gone with a friend to the airfield to try to discover who had been piloting the gyrocopter. He and a woman were believed to have approached the aircraft as it was refuelling.
The airfield manager, Anthony Hodges, 57, said: “It was the only aircraft to land all day and I believe the aircraft hit him as it was taxiing on the runway.”

Murder seems unlikely to stick, I think, unless there are independent witnesses. If murder it be, I hope they go to prison for life. But stout-hearted Trevor might have been untrained in how to approach aircraft with rotor-blades. We shall see. Condolences. RIP.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Tally Ho

At least one old tradition survives - the Huntsman and hounds of the Royal Artillery Hunt parade up the straight at Sandown on Friday before the Grand Military Gold Cup. Pisspoor photo taken on old Nokia E61i.

Another tradition survives - idle fails to back a winner and sees many bets go down in the shadow of the post. Lady Idle, however, lands two out of three modest bets and goes home £5.80 richer. Better put her in charge of the stock trading......

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

Debauching the Honours System

"Veteran US politician Ted Kennedy is to be awarded an honorary knighthood by the Queen".

What? The disgraced stupid youngest brother of the dead Kennedys, who allowed a girl to die in his car, whilst saving himself? Who hid from the police, lied and prevaricated? To be given an honorary knighthood? By the Queen?

"Prime Minister Gordon Brown will announce the award during his address to both houses of Congress today".

Ah. So it isn't the Queen, it's McBust, on his Save Me tour of Washington. A man who claims to be a great student of modern political history, particularly American history. A man who used to spend his summer holidays on Cape Cod. A man who 'writes' books about (wait for it) courage.

You would have thought that he would have heard about the Chappaquiddick incident, looked into it, formed an opinion. Or perhaps he just took Ted's word for it.

However, when one of the most boring speakers in the history of world politics gets his fifteen minutes in the American limelight addressing a few hundred American congressmen, his normal speak-your-weight delivery isn't going to cut the mustard. No siree. And his joke telling isn't just bad, it's non-existent. Those Yankee politicos gonna nod off like Grampa on his porch, 'cepting the ones who are pissed at this Limey sleazeball for blaming his woes on the Americans. Others will be transfixed by the facial tick - "What's with this guy's fish impressions? He looks kinda weird doin that gulping thing".

No, a gimmick is needed. Got it! - give a gong to the last surviving Kennedy! Chappaquiddick shmiddick - who cares any more? Friend of the IRA? - nah, they're all in government in Ulster now, having achieved the square root of fuck all in their attempt to unify Ireland, just thousands of deaths and thousands of pounds of pension to look forward to in their retirement, and all their mates out of prison. Ted, stupid? - yes, but he's a KENNEDY. They're American royalty, it's been said a million times. And anyway he's knackered, got a brain tumour, fell into his soup at the inauguration lunch, won't last long.

I've got an idea. Why don't we give him Sir Fred's gong?

A quote: " Do we operate under a system of equal justice under law? Or is there one system for the average citizen and another for the high and mighty? "~ Senator Ted Kennedy, 1973