Thursday, July 31

Random things you learn on the web #2

A Shih Tzu can get so excited its eyes pop out.

I mean, really, why continue to breed such a stupid creature?

Would getting absolutely stuffed be good for us this time?

I'm sure a couple of years ago I was looking forward to seeing Michael Vaughan return - now I have to say I feel I'd be glad to see the back of him. Yes, he was good once, but your ability can disappear fast at the top level of sport, and his appears to have completely deserted him with the bat.

But more to the point is that reading a lot of the press, there seems to be an unpleasant air about the whole thing. Selection seems to be a "pick your mates" type of thing, almost like being back at school. If you're not quite in the inner circle and your form dips you get dropped for a while (Strauss) or apparently permanently (Hoggard), but if you are, you can be straight back in without having to prove you've remembered how to bat (Collingwood). It almost makes me miss the days when the selectors would panic after a defeat and haul in whoever was doing well in the county game at the time.

The dropping of Broad for Collingwood seems bizarre. I could see the point in dropping Broad for a batsman in form - arguably, Broad has been lucky, as if he was really that good he should have been scoring in the county game too. I could see the point in dropping Broad for a bowler in form - Broad hasn't been taking wickets, and England need to bowl South Africa out to win, or at least avoid humiliation. Collingwood is out of form. Broad is in form - his Test average is far higher than his county. More to the point, Collingwood is really struggling with the bat, it's not like he's scoring fluently then being a bit unlucky, while Broad has been attracting plaudits for his batting. Yes, he's not a Test number six. Not yet, anyway. But Collingwood sure as hell isn't playing like a number six either.

So this leads me to the though - how much of this is the fault of the coach and captain? And is getting absolutely stuffed for the rest of this series enough to force them out?

And they'll pay for this how exactly?

Perhaps it is my pessimist tendencies, but I've been reading the news reports on falling house prices for some time with a "I said so" feeling. Particular sensations of smugness emanate in that I've been shown to have been right when so many of the pronouncements of people who actually work in the industry have been shown to be utterly wrong. While I'm not normally in favour of people's gut instincts and "it stands to reason, dunnit" arguments trumping those with expertise in the field, when the experts appear to be lacking an explanation for why something has suddenly changed for ever (in the housing market case, how can people with a large amount of personal debt already afford to suddenly spend far more on a mortgage without increasing their income), I do have to wonder if they really know what they're talking about.

So here's a rant about some witless reasoning going on in this quote from a BBC News report:

But the National Housing Federation said that it was expecting house prices in England to rise by 25% by 2013.

It said that the number of new homes being built was not keeping up with rising demand as a result of people living longer, getting married later and getting divorced more.

How? How can they rise 25%? Who will have the money? I could afford another 25% per month expenditure, but I'm just about the only person I know who can. The banks won't lend more than they were lending last year, as they've realised that last year's lending was unsustainable. Living costs will have gone up hugely. Wages won't. So seriously - how can house prices go up 25% without people being able to pay 25% more in mortgages? Answer - they can't. People living longer won't mean house prices going up, it'll mean more poor old people unable to pay their heating bills, and more rich old people occupying family sized homes that young couples can't afford to buy - so they won't start a family. Marrying later? Well, they'll be sharing and renting instead, because they can't afford to buy on their own. Getting divorced more? Well, they'll have to move to a smaller house or get a lodger, because people who could only just cover the mortgage on one property between them aren't suddenly going to be able to manage one each. And the people they appear to think are going to be able to suddenly pay all this extra money are the young, the very old, and the newly divorced!

Perhaps the fact that an organisation called the National Housing Federation can come up with some patent rubbish is an indicator of how we managed to get in such a mess to begin with...

Wednesday, July 30

Banks. Don't you just hate them?

Tried to pay off my credit card online today. I couldn't log in to the server as it was going slow (all the other websites I tried to access today - fine).

Chances of them accepting this if I miss the payment? None whatsoever.

If they expect a penny of taxpayers money to bail them out for their credulous greed in the mortgage markets, I'll be protesting to my MP. Mind you, he's probably given up all hope of lasting past the next election already.

Tuesday, July 29

Nationalised mortgages?

Latest news on the mortgage crisis (i.e how can banks that don't have any money lend it to people who can't afford to repay it to allow house prices to continue rocketing up because "there's demand") - the bankers solution appears to be a partial nationalisation of the mortgage market. Blimey. You wouldn't have thought they'd be in favour of nationalising it.

Except... the bit they seem to want to nationalise is the risk. I bet they've still got the potential profits as privatised.

Sunday, July 6

Green and Pleasant Land

One thing I like about England is that we very rarely get weather conditions that would be viewed as remotely severe in other parts of the world. The occasional winter storm can be pretty nasty, but in general, the weather conditions are simply mild.

Compare the average US news story on tornados to a British one - like this one from BBC News.

It reports that a funnel cloud was seen over Lancashire. Yes, that's right, it didn't even touch the ground. Was it a big one? Well, they quote the Met Office in the story...

If this funnel cloud had touched down it could have badly damaged a tree or a shed roof.

Tuesday, July 1

The Prisoner

"Where am I?"
"In the Village."
"What do you want?"
"Whose side are you on?"
"That would be telling…. We want information. Information! INFORMATION!"
"You won't get it."
"By hook or by crook, we will."
"Who are you?"
"The new Number Two."
"Who is Number One?"
"You are Number Six."
"I am not a number — I am a free man!"

Don't mess this up, ITV. For pity's sake, don't mess this one up...