Friday, 28 August 2015

Paper Chinatowns

From imdb and imdb:

Adapted from the bestselling novel by author John Green, the coming-of-age story centres on JJ 'Jake' Gittes, a sixteen-year old private detective who specializes in matrimonial cases.

He is hired by his enigmatic neighbor Margo, who suspects her husband Hollis of having an affair. After Margo takes him on an all-night adventure through their hometown, JJ does what he does best and photographs Hollis with a young girl

Margo suddenly disappears - leaving behind cryptic clues for JJ to decipher. When her husband is found dead, Jake is plunged into a complex web of deceit. The search leads JJ and his quick-witted friends on an exhilarating adventure that is equal parts hilarious and moving.

Ultimately, to track down Margo, Quentin must find a deeper understanding of true friendship - involving murder, incest and municipal corruption all related to the city's water supply - and true love.

*DBC Reed says that this one has a Georgist sub-plot: "Chinatown = struggle to divert water to supply new development. Good film too. There is an academic paper that demonstrates that Americans nowadays accept the film's version of the Owen's River takeover as the bare unvarnished truth."

"Young goths at risk of depression"

Somebody at the BBC has decided to have a go at writing an Onion style article.

It's hilarious:

In this study, researchers looked at 3,694 15-year-olds based in Bristol. They found the more young people identified with the goth subculture, the higher their likelihood of self-harm and depression.

The goth movement - with its emphasis on black clothes, heavy black make-up and sometimes gloomy music with doom laden lyrics - has been attracting adolescents for many years.

But for the original and best, see for example here.

Thursday, 27 August 2015

Killer Arguments Against LVT, Not (368)

I was drafting a couple in my head, but then I saw this at the Facebook LVT page.

Gemma Seymour knocks various Faux Lib, Homey and waffly Georgist assertions out of the park:

"The obvious implication is that land is, morally speaking, a commons—anyone can use it, nobody can exclude anyone else."

This is utter nonsense. Of course we allow a license to exclude, for which the licensee must pay back to the community the value of that license. This is the whole *point* of the reclamation of economic rents.

"There is no obvious limit to what government is entitled to make me do."

Again, rubbish. There are very clear limits on what government actions may be considered legitimate.

"The argument for the efficiency of land taxation depends on the government that imposes it distinguishing the site value of land from the value that is due to [the owner's] action."

Which anyone even marginally familiar with current property tax valuation practices knows is already the current practice. This is a non-issue.

"I am an anarchist rather than a Georgist."

How absurd. There is no such thing as "anarchism". There is always a power structure. The human brain is incapable of forming trust relationships beyond Dunbar's number, and all civilisations of any complexity require abstraction of trust—government.

Great, saved me the bother.

No wonder Scottish retailers are struggling...

... they don't do maths.

From some some special pleading by the Scottish Retail Consortium aka Scottish Commercial Landlords Consortium:

3. The retail industry contributes around £2 billion in taxes per year in Scotland across the top five taxes of VAT, income tax, national insurance, business rates and corporation tax. Of the £2 billion, retail contributed close to £700 million in business rates...

5. In 2005, business rates made up around one-third of all taxes borne by retailers. By 2014 this had grown to nearly 50 per cent.

Have I missed something or are they deliberately lying?

They pay £2,000 million in taxes, of which £700 million is Business Rates. That means Business Rates make up 35 per cent of their total tax bill, not 50 per cent. So the share has gone up from "around one-third" to 35 per cent, in other words "not at all".

And I find it baffling that they focus so much on Business Rates. Their single largest tax bill is going to be VAT. Total UK VAT receipts are over £100 billion a year; total Business Rates receipts under £30 billion. And if it's not VAT, then it will be PAYE. Business Rates will be a distant third and corporation tax will be an even more distant fourth.

(H/t Thomas Hall and Lola).

This will come as no surprise to anybody who uses the Tube...

All-night Tube service will be delayed

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

"Jeremy Corbyn backs women-only public toilets"

From The Evening Standard:

Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn would push for women-only public toilets to be introduced to curb sex attacks, he has said. The Islington North MP, currently the bookies' favourite for the party’s top job, made the comments while launching his campaign against sexual harassment.

“Some women have raised with me that a solution to the rise in assault and harassment in public toilets could be to introduce women-only facilities. My intention would be to make going to the bathroom safer for everyone whether in the pub or on a train.

"However, I would consult with women and open it up to hear their views on whether women-only make-up sessions in night clubs would be welcome – and also if piloting this where harassment is reported most frequently would be of interest."

British Toilet Police recorded 1,399 sexual offences in 2014-15 in Britain’s toilets and washrooms, an increase of nearly 300 on the previous year and a new record.

Retailing - it's all about location, location, location.

From City AM:

... [Morrisons supermarkets] is paying the price for its scatter gun approach to buying convenience stores. Last week, it emerged Morrisons is considering a sell-off of its 150-strong M Local estate to a consortium of investors just months after closing 23 shops...

Had it moved into the market earlier and picked stores in better locations at competitive prices, then it could have been better placed today, Jonathan de Mello, head of retail consultancy at Harper Dennis Hobbs, told City A.M.

“The main challenge facing the sector is the fact that it is becoming increasingly crowded, and Tesco, Sainsburys and M&S Simply Food – given first mover advantage – were able to cherry pick the best sites.

"[Morrisons’] desperation to build a critical mass of convenience stores to catch up with the competition led it to over-bid for sites in order to secure them – often with Tesco and Sainsburys only bidding to push up the price as much as possible.

“Average turnover of an M-Local store for example is circa [sic] half the average turnover of Tesco Metro – a function of poor site selection. This issue was compounded by the high rent being paid in order to secure the site – leading to very low or negative margins. Morrisons are right to dispose of their stores at this stage given this, and need to start afresh once they have stabilised their core supermarket business,” de Mello said.

This was also part of the reason for Tesco doing so badly recently. Their success in the 1990s and 2000s was not so much down to their skill as retailers, but the fact that their crack squad of land specialists had snapped up a load of good sites cheaply in the 1990s and stifled the opposition with various planning ruses.

Tesco executives thought "We are opening new stores and profits are going up. Which means we are better at retailing than the others, and that if we keep opening new stores, profits will continue to go up". This was all hubris. Truth of the matter is, they are no better or worse at the actual 'retailing' bit than the rest of the competition and all they were doing was tapping into the hidden profits which they had already secured back in the 1990s when the best locations were cheap.

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Bradford's "Jesus Man", RIP.

From The Daily Mail:

For more than 50 years the ‘Jesus Man’ of Bradford walked the streets spreading good cheer wherever he went with a wave and a warm smile. Geoffrey Brindley cut a distinctive figure dressed in his familiar brown robe and sandals with a satchel around his neck.

No one really knew where he was walking to or what he was doing, but this Christian figure somehow brought joy to people’s lives by his friendly demeanour. A ‘gentle and spiritual man,’ he simply brightened the day by smiling at strangers as he passed by...

It's true! When I was a lad, we saw him a couple of times out of the car window on the way home from the shops, and even from that distance, you felt he had given you all a smile and a wave. My Dad claimed that the man had been walking around since time immemorial (which wasn't quite true, the man was only ten or fifteen years into his journey by then) and pondered whether he was The Actual Wandering Monk.

My Dad also said that once when it was really chucking it down, he had pulled up and offered the man a lift, but the man just said that didn't need a lift where he was going.

I always wondered whether I had somehow imagined all this (a bit like small children believing in Santa Claus) and/or that my Dad had embellished one or two chance incidents into an urban myth. Turns out it was true.

"Harman vows to weed out all cheats"

From the BBC:

Harriet Harman has said 3,000 alleged "cheats" have so far been excluded from migrating to the UK, with more expected.

The acting Labour leader said: "It is not funny or clever for people from other countries to try to cheat their way into our system," and only people who supported the "aims and values" of the United Kingdom would be allowed to enter.

She was speaking after a meeting with the four leadership contenders. She said the verification process was "robust" and would go on until the "very last minute"...

Under new rules introduced by her party in 1997, residents of other countries could sign up to become British citizens with a minimum of vetting procedures. More than 160,000 people a year took up permanent residence in the UK.

The party said this brought the total size of the population to 64,000,000.

The Times channels The Daily Mail

Emailed in by MBK from The Times:

A millionaire lawyer who jumped in front of a tube train was racked by guilt that she “hadn’t been a good enough mother”, an inquest heard.

Sarah Johnson, who lived in a £12.5 million mansion in an exclusive area of London with her husband, a banker, and three young children, died in April this year.