Shooting The Dollar

November 29, 2007

It now takes over to two US $ to buy one Brit £, in part because the world’s financial industry – hence its investors – regard the US as too risky.

The US has the world’s largest external debt – bigger even than the profligate Brits. In both countries, the books are balanced by selling assets – businesses and real estate – to foreigners.

That’s why a Saudi prince and the government of Abu Dhabi now own about 9% of Citibank.

There’s nothing inherently unhealthy in this, but for it to work, foreigners have to be happy to buy our assets, and in the case of the UK they are – which is why the £ is holding up.

But the $ has tanked, here’s one reason why:

The “NatWest Three”, who were extradited to the US in July 2006 amid much public protest, changed their plea after five years of protesting their innocence in a partial bid to reduce their time behind bars.

The British men…could have faced up to 35 years in jail as a result of the charges being brought by the US government. They agreed to change their plea following four weeks of bargaining with US prosecutors, in which they agreed to one count of fraud in return for the rest being dropped.

The men may be guilty, although from my limited experience of high finance, they seem no guiltier than the average practitioner.

But we’ll never know – the men were trapped in the US, could not work, and faced spending the rest of their lives in jail. So copping a plea was rational, regardless of guilt.

The three now have to serve time in Brit jails, but the US is the big loser:

– Foreign courts will be reluctant to agree more deportations to US jurisdictions, since forced plea bargains are generally considered unfair. That means foreign terrorists get to stay home.

– Foreign financial professionals will avoid exposure to US entities, to avoid the fate of these three men.

– And that means less US assets will be purchased by foreigners.

– And hence the dollar will tank to balance the equation.

Of course a weak dollar means more US exports and less imports, and both are good.

But it also means more US assets will be bought by people who the US won’t dare annoy – cash-rich Arabs, Chinese, and Russians.

That is not good.

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Time To Flog Islam

November 26, 2007

Saudi Arabia is home to Mecca, the center of Islam, so its sentencing a 19 year-old victim of gang rape to 200 lashes defines Islam as beyond civilized discourse.

First strike:

November 2, 2006. A Saudi court has sentenced a gang rape victim to 90 lashes of the whip because she was alone in a car with a man to whom she was not married.

The sentence was passed at the end of a trial in which the al- Qateef high criminal court convicted four Saudis convicted of the rape, sentencing them to prison terms and a total of 2,230 lashes.

Second strike:

November 17, 2007. A Saudi court has increased the sentence given to a gang rape victim to 200 lashes of the whip and six months in prison because she had been alone with her attackers.It also ordered disciplinary action against her lawyer for talking to the media.

The Brown and Bush administrations have remained silent on this barbarism – even inviting the Saudis to the Annapolis farce.

To her credit, Clinton objected:

Said Mrs. Clinton, “This is an outrage. The Bush administration has refused to condemn the sentence and said it will not protest an internal Saudi decision. I urge President Bush to call on King Abdullah to cancel the ruling and drop all charges against this woman. As president I will once again make human rights an American priority around the world.”

Muslim depravity isn’t unique to the Saudis:

November 26, 2007. A British primary school teacher in Sudan is facing 40 lashes and up to six months in prison after allowing her pupils to name a teddy bear after the prophet Mohammed.

It’s Islam that needs flogging, not teenage rape victims, and we should cease to sell it weapons, stop buying its oil, and exclude it from our societies.

That won’t happen anytime soon, but the disgust of ordinary westerners for the culture of these primitives will ultimately prevail.


Incompetence Shall Set Brits Free

November 22, 2007

The lesson of the Great Data Loss is not that the Brit government and the civil service are incompetent (although they are), but that in a market economy the government can’t hire competent IT people. That’s good for Brit freedom.

The scandal:

Searches were continuing for two CDs containing the names, addresses and bank details of 9.5million adults and the names, dates of birth and National Insurance numbers of all 15.5 million children in the country which went missing after being put in the post by HM Revenue and Customs.

It has since emerged that the National Audit Office, which had asked for the CDs, had specifically requested that bank details and other sensitive data be removed from them when it asked for other copies of the Child Benefit database in March, but a senior manager refused to do so on cost grounds.

On October 18 two unencrypted CDs were put in the post, unregistered and unrecorded, which never arrived at the NAO.

As a result the bank details of every parent in the country are now missing, and experts have warned that criminal gangs could use the information to commit fraud and identity theft for years to come if the information falls into the wrong hands.

Obviously culpability lies with the guy who exported & burned the data and mailed the disks insecurely, and responsibility lies with the management chain above him, including Brown.

But the real fault is with the design of the database, which any competent developer would have built so that only encrypted data could be exported.

A major government IT system has such an obvious fatal flaw because the people who designed, built, and maintain it are second rate.

The Brit government gets IT talent either through direct hires, or (more commonly) by subcontracting to big consultancies. But any first rate system designer or developer will avoid government work like the plague because:

1. The specification, rather than being rooted in the market realities of a commercial customer, will instead be set by pols, and they change with the wind, taking the spec with it. Spec changes make for bugs, low productivity, and frustration as good work has to be junked.

In this particular case, until recently data sharing between government departments was forbidden, but the Blair/Brown soft fascism reversed that, and now all sorts of private data gets sent between government departments – when I recently booked a flight with British Airways, they told me they had to pass all my booking data to the Brit Customs and Tax authorities, even though I don’t live in the UK.

So my guess is the export facility in this case was kludged on to an older system. But since data export is a hugely complex area, without first rate designers it was done wrong.

2. Good developers hate bureaucratic development methodologies, because they know they do much better and faster work in small tightly integrated teams. But governments prefer micromanagement and (apparent) risk-avoidance and mandate large teams of people, with each developer working on a tiny piece of functionality.

3. Still, money talks, and government would get quality if it paid good developers what it pays senior ministers. But of course it won’t.

So that’s why every Brit government IT project has been a disaster, and why the National ID system will quickly be compromised

More generally, this limitation blocks the Brit elite from ever getting the Orwellian control of citizens it so relentlessly seeks.

And when the Brits do finally decide to revolt, their government’s second rate IT systems will easily be subverted by a few smart hackers.


The Real Climate

November 21, 2007

Rather than waste energy explaining why the UN and its climate satraps are dishonestly predicting our doom, here’s a summary of what the climate has actually done over the last few hundred thousand years, and how that effected humanity.

I can’t find a book that directly deals with the connection between climate and history, so have constructed a summary for this post, using data from this book and its sources, this book and its sources, and Wikipedia.

Ice Ages

At least for the past half million years these happened every 100,000 years and lasted about 90,000 years – leaving just 10,000 years on average between ice ages. The last one finished about 10,000 years ago, so based on history, we’re due for another one soon!

The numbers (based on ice core analysis) are here and plot out as follows:

creative commons

Temperature is the top, blue, line with axis at left.

During ice ages, the sea level drops hundreds of feet, glaciers cover most arable land (which is in the northern hemisphere), and there are massive droughts, since less sea water is evaporated to form clouds and then rain.

CO2

Is 0.038% of the atmosphere. Animals exhale it and plants convert it into growth. Plants release their CO2 when they die (which is why the trendy carbon offsets are nonsense).

CO2 is absorbed by water, the amount depending on temperature. If you heat sea water it will outgas some of its CO2. That’s why the CO2 line (colored green) above lags behind the red temperature line -the earth warms first and then the sea outgasses CO2. So temperature rise is a cause not an effect of CO2 increase.

UN Climate Models

These are so complex they need supercomputers to run them – I think three in the US and one in the UK.

None of the models correctly predict recent past climate. That’s because the physics is not fully understood, and the computational problem is very hard.

Predicting climate is much harder than predicting currency exchange rates, which lots of clever and highly motivated people have also failed to do, in spite of massive computing resources.

Human History

Modern Homo Sap is thought to have appeared about 130,000 years ago, so our species has spent most of its time in an ice age. Life at first will have been very nasty, brutish, and short, with lifespans of 20 years.

There were advantages – the massive sea level fall facilitated migration, for example opening a land bridge from northern Russia to north America. A small group crossed it about 18,000 years ago and populated the both north and south America within just 2,000 years.

During this ice age, the UK was connected to France.

Interglacial Period

That started about 10,000 years ago and is we’re still in it, waiting for the next ice age. As you’ll see from the graph above, interglacial periods have temperature ups and downs, and those for the current period have substantially shaped our history, as follows.

Early Interglacial Period: 10,000 to 9,000 years ago

As temperatures rose, our numbers and longevity increased, because:

– We’re much less prone to die from heat than cold (by a factor of 10).

– As glaciers retreat, more land becomes available for hunting and farming.

– The CO2 liberated by the warming oceans fertilizes trees and crops.

– It gets rainier as the climate warms (more water evaporated from the sea), and that further boosts plant and hence animal life.

So life started looking up 10,000 years ago, and we soon invented farming, which enabled us to build larger and longer-lived populations.

Holocene Climate Optimum: 9,000 to 5,000 years ago

The temperature rose several degrees over current levels and stayed that way long enough for us to invent civilization, starting with cities, about 7,000 years ago.

It’s possible our many legends about Gardens of Eden look back to this time of warmth and plenty. Towards its end the Minoan civilization emerged, which lasted an extraordinary 1,500 years.

Pre-Roman Cooling: 5,000 to 2,200 years ago

In this and all subsequent cooling phases, island or archipelago nations have become dominant. In this case, Greek civilization emerged, laying all the foundations of western art, science, and politics.

Roman Warming: 2,200 to 1,400 years ago

This was several degrees warmer than now – much of the bread part of Bread and Circuses was produced in north Africa. The Romans completed the edifice of Western science, art, and politics on the foundations inherited from the Greeks.

In the UK, the population reached about 5 million, a level it was not to reach again until the late 1700s.

During this period China became a single nation, and the Classic Mayan Empire flowered.

Dark Ages: 1,400 to 1,100 years ago

Temperatures plunged, taking crop levels and population down. The Roman empire collapsed, in part because of multiple invasions by hungry barbarians.

Disease was rife everywhere.

The Mayan Empire collapsed.

Islam got started when a warlike desert people conquered and enslaved the weakened Christian population around the Med.

The island/archipelago warriors of this phase were the pathologically nice Norwegians and Swedes, who became the Viking pillagers – the English prayed “From the wrath of the Norsemen protect us.”

Medieval Warm Period: 1,100 to 700 years ago

Food and populations recovered.

The Vikings were whacked by the recovered Brits, and Europe came back to life, starting to push Islam back in Spain. Most of our grandest cathedrals were built then.

The diverted Vikings founded Iceland, Greenland, and settled in north America (Vinland).

The Little Ice Age: 700 to 150 years ago

Temperatures plunged again, and the weather became unsettled. Malaria was rife in Europe (it needs sun on stagnant water, not high temperatures), featuring often in Shakespeare’s plays as “the ague”.

The island-based conquerers in this cold period were the mild-mannered Brits, who were helped by being safe on an island warmed by the Gulf Stream. Plus they were used to lousy weather.

Hence the nation which has “mustn’t grumble”as its motto came to build the world’s greatest empire, invented modern agriculture and industry, and (via the US) modern democracy.

Incidentally, the late Little Ice Age is the climate of Dickens’ novels – snowy Christamasses, freezing houses, etc.

Modern Warm Period: 150 years to ?

This latest cycle is as natural as all the previous ones – the best current theory is they’re caused by fluctuations in the solar wind.

The now-warm Brits relapsed back into not grumbling and other nations overtook them. Lifespans and populations grew massively across the world.

The graph above shows the past interglacials were a degree Centigrade warmer than we are now, so there’s more to come, and that will enable the 5 million outside our first world to match our standards of living.

That warming and prosperity will also help us prepare for the coming ice age – by settling other worlds, improving food production, and building cheaper power sources.

If man-produced CO2 is enhancing this warming, that’s entirely good – both for the 5 billion people still in poverty, and for all of our descendants who must inherit, and master, a freezing world.


Good News And Bad News For Brit Liberty

November 20, 2007

A Brit TV documentary recorded Muslim preachers in Birmingham inciting their flocks to murder and child abuse.

The local cops ignored the incitement and asked the Brit FCC (Ofcom) to penalize the TV program makers for “undermining community relations”.

The good news is Ofcom has told the Birmingham cops to take a hike.

Ofcom dismissed a complaint from West Midlands Police against a Channel 4 documentary, Undercover Mosque…

Ofcom also rejected 364 complaints from viewers that it said appeared to be part of a campaign.

A separate complaint – also dismissed – was lodged by the Saudi Arabian government over suggestions that “the message of hatred and segregation is … influenced by the religious establishment of Saudi Arabia”.

The bad news is the cops have left the preachers free to advocate this medieval barbarism:

* “Allah created the woman deficient”.

* “…it takes two witnesses of a woman to equal the one witness of the man”.

* “By the age of ten, it becomes an obligation on us to force her [young girls] to wear hijab, and if she doesn’t wear hijab, we hit her”.

* “…take that homosexual and throw him off the mountain”.

* “Whoever changes his religion from Al Islam to anything else – kill him in the Islamic state”.

* “There will be a House of Commons but they will decide every issue in accordance with the Book of Allah and the example of the Prophet.”

So Birmingham residents will have to protect Brit freedoms themselves – not hard since mosques are easy targets.

That really will undermine community relations.


Races and Religions Do Differ Genetically (2)

November 20, 2007

The Liberal lie that we’re all genetically equal under the skin justifies a reasonable end by dishonest means – in this case the end is to avoid a repetition of the Holocaust.

This lie has not prevented further race-based slaughters, of the Tutsis by the Hutus, the Tibetans by the Chinese, and of course non-Muslims by Muslims in our countries, Africa, and Asia.

Racial and religious differences are to be expected, as peoples adapt to their local physical environment and religiously-sanctioned breeding habits lock in good and bad traits. Since much human behavior is hardwired, the traits are mental as well as physical.

Thus Islamic incompetence and violence probably results from 1200 years of cousin marriage, and the Japanese tendency to brutality from the high level of the MOAO gene in that isolated population.

As you’d expect, the Jewish people also have strong genetic uniquenesses – good and bad – here’s a Jewish woman:

…when my sister discovered a lump in her breast five years ago and diagnosed with breast cancer, a genetic test discovered a variation of the BRCA2 gene, one of three forms of this cancer that target Jews almost exclusively. While the general female population faces a 10% possibility of developing breast or ovarian cancer, the lifetime risk with one of these mutations may rise to 80%.

Most geneticists believe that these three mutations trace to Jews who lived 1,000 or more years ago when European Jewry numbered less than 25,000 people.

While the first sketch of the human genome, unveiled in 2001, underscored that humans are more alike than different, the sequencing of the entire genome has ushered in a more precarious era. Geneticists are identifying chunks of DNA, known as haplotypes, and the results of their research stretches the limits of acceptable public discourse.

HapMaps suggest that humanity is better understood as a collection of overlapping but identifiable populations that, remarkably, mirror traditional racial and ethnic groupings. Genetic blocks linked to human characteristics, including body type, behavior, skill sets, and brain architecture, vary among ancestral populations.

Harmful mutated genes usually disappear because people who carry them die at earlier ages or have difficulty finding mates. Why haven’t the deadliest genes passed out of the Jewish gene pool, eradicated by natural selection?

Three scientists — Henry Harpending and Jason Hardy of the University of Utah and Gregory Cochran — have offered a fascinating and scientifically testable theory suggesting that Jews may be compensated by nature for suffering diseases because the genes that partly cause them are linked directly or indirectly to intelligence.

These scientists, all Christians, were intrigued by the remarkable success of Jews — insert Jewish doctor or lawyer joke here — and their startlingly high scores on IQ tests, which almost all scientists believe are heavily influenced by genetics. Ashkenazi Jews average between 107 and 115, significantly higher than the world average of 100.

Messrs. Harpending, Hardy, and Cochran identified 19 “Jewish diseases,” including Tay Sachs, Gaucher, and breast cancer, that affect the enzyme pathways which influence neurological and brain development. They suggest that single variations of a disease gene may juice the brain while two may cause a crippling disease. And like a feedback loop, Jewish nurture may have reinforced Jewish nature.

So, all men may be created equal, but different races differ in smartness, creativity, physical competence, and their susceptibility to disease.


The German Soft Target

November 18, 2007

Germany is currently the EU’s most populous and richest nation and its location makes it key to Europe’s defense against the Mullahs and Putin’s Russia. But, as previously noted, it’s a paper tiger and unlikely to change. That’s the strongest reason for Brits to distance themselves from it.

Mark Helprin of the Claremont Institute has the numbers (my ellipsis):

Whereas in 1989 (the US) kept in Europe 325,000 troops, 5,000 tanks, 25 operating air bases, and 1,000 combat aircraft, we now keep approximately a fifth of that. Whereas the Germans in 1989 could field a half-million men and 5,000 tanks, they now can deploy less than half that number.

As the Soviet Union dissolved, much of its military capacity followed it into oblivion. But as Western Europe dismantles its militaries, Russia builds, encouraged as much by European pacifism as by the Russian view of America’s struggle in Iraq as a parallel to the Soviet’s fatal involvement in Afghanistan.

Like Germany between the wars, Russia is now eager and determined to reconstitute its forces, and with its new-found oil wealth, it is doing so…

So Germany is powerless against the increasingly threateningt Russians. Then there are the Mullahs:

Germany must fascinate the Jihadists, too–not for displacing America as the prime target, but as the richest target least defended…

…in 2003 Germany found a September 11th facilitator guilty of 3,066 counts of accessory to murder and sentenced him to seven years (20 hours per person), he was recently reconvicted and sentenced to 43 hours per person, not counting parole…

But, more importantly, the variations in European attitudes and capabilities vis-à-vis responding to terrorism or nuclear blackmail are what make Germany such an attractive target. Unlike the U.S., France, and Britain, Germany is a major country with no independent expeditionary capability and no nuclear weapons, making it ideal for a terrorist nuclear strike or Iranian extortion if Iran is able to continue a very transparent nuclear policy to its logical conclusion…

Looking at Germany, then, Iran sees a country with nothing to counter the pressure of merely an implied nuclear threat. Jihadists see the lynchpin of Europe, easy of access and inadvertently hospitable to operations, that will hardly punish those who fall into its hands, and that can neither accomplish on its own a flexible expeditionary response against a hostile base or sponsor, nor reply to a nuclear strike in kind.

This is all fixable – Germany could build nukes, and increase its military spend above the current derisory 1.4% of GNP. But it’s not likely to do that until the enemy is at the gates. And that will be too late.

Meantime, the Brits can’t help – they won’t risk (say) Manchester to head off a Russian or Iranian nuke threat to Hamburg. And the Brit military will be tied up for the indefinite future in Afghanistan and Iraq (where German troops are respectively confined to safe areas and AWOL).

The worst outcome for the Brits would to be to get half involved in a German tragedy that can’t be prevented.

So as soon as the Brits get a decent government, it should remove itself promptly from this continental entanglement.