Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Who's Afraid Of Quantitative Easing?

Robert Peston, BBC Economics Editor, is probably the most trusted economist in the country. This is not saying much, perhaps being on a par with least intolerable lawyer. And to paraphrase Woody Allen, lawyer is only a notch above child molester. Notwithstanding this qualification it is worth having a look at his commentary today on the vastness of QE - Loadsamoney

You will of course be holding off from important investment decisions until you have heard the Overgraduate world economic view, so without further ado I will give you the lowdown. I wonder whether Warren Buffet is one of my followers. The wonderful people at blogger.com make it possible for me to track the distribution of those reading my oeuvre and I have marginally more American hits than British. Which is a bit weird when you think about it.

Anyway that lowdown I promised you. Now it seems to me that economic bubbles burst when even the frigging idiots in capital markets realise that they are bubbles. We had a bubble inflated by private debt and it duly burst when the boys in the flash suits listened to Robert Peston. We supposedly avoided catastrophe and have blown up a brand new bubble using the oxygen of government money. The key's going to be holding your nerve as long as you can and successfully guessing when the coke fuelled loons of the City will twig that this grandiose pyramid scheme has to collapse. Just before that point you must sell up and head for the hills. Your guess is as good as mine.

Last one out switch the lights off and remember - it's only money.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Unfathomable

This will surprise you - I don't know the answer on this topic - Immigration

This is not even the lead story on today's news and yet we are talking about three thousand migrants drowned already this year. Rather glibly I wrote a couple of weeks ago that open borders and a substantial welfare state are incompatible. I stick to that but this is not some diverting abstract debate - it is life and death.  Being human is problematic.

Good Will Hunting

As I've said before, I'm a harsh judge, so when I give Good Will Hunting 7 out of 10, you can say that I was pretty impressed. Ben Affleck was good in Gone Girl but his authorship (with Matt Damon) of the screenplay for this film is a greater achievement.

In essence an old fashioned melodrama dressed up with tough modern language (which some might judge overdone) and eminently watchable. Robin Williams was well suited to sentimentality and this film has it in bucket loads. Good stuff and available on Netflix.

Also on Netflix we have been watching the American version of The Killing, having enjoyed the Danish original. Seattle makes a good substitute for Scandinavia. Far cry from Frasier Crane mind.

Friday, 24 October 2014

My Shakespeare

My Shakespeare is a little series running on Sky Arts. Now I know that I should probably deride Sky Arts as the televisual equivalent of Classic FM but I must confess to a liking for Classic FM - so much less daunting than Radio 3. Does that make me a bad person?

Overgraduate's fave play
So far I've watched the first two editions and the remainder are lined up on the old Sky box. The first was Morgan Freeman on Taming of the Shrew - a play with which I do despite my every effort still struggle, what with me being a feminist and all. Mind you I did like the idea of a Wild West set Shrew. The second was closer to my home territory: Kim Cattrall on Antony and Cleopatra, which, depending on the direction of the cultural wind, can be my favourite Shakespeare. Cattrall has played Cleopatra under the direction of the estimable Janet Suzman and Suzman was one of the interviewees on the programme. So was the even more estimable Jonathan Bate. But despite these star turns the show missed a trick. Bate (who really ought to be given a show, no a series, of his own) was given too little time and in particular was denied the chance to expound his theory that Enobarbus was a role Shakespeare wrote for himself. That however is a personal little quibble. The far graver offence was the prominence it gave to the ridiculous Vanessa Redgrave - great actress but specialist in risible opinions. I've scolded her before for her professed support of the premiss of the lamentable Anonymous, and this time she postulated that Antony never actually loves Cleopatra. I think the technical term is - bollocks. Rather more worthy of consideration was Patrick Stewart's insight that he had decided to play Antony as an alcoholic - Antony as alcoholic that is, not Stewart.  

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Gone Girl

I really don't go to the cinema often enough. There is something almost spiritual about the communal submission to the darkness. Plus no amount of televisual clarity replicates the full screen cinematic experience.

But a couple of weeks ago we did venture out to the pictures to see Gone Girl. Well? Pretty good actually. Perhaps 6.5 out of 10; and I'm a harsh judge. Sadly we went to the first screening of the day and the hot dog heater hadn't warmed up so I was thwarted in my dietary desires. So it goes.

We're All Climbing Up The Sunshine Mountain

just for information I'm not as fat as the bottom left picture suggests - I had my top knotted around my waist!
Well actually once we got past half way on the Pyg track we were shrouded in mist. To complete the difficulties there were very strong winds but nothing was going to stop the Overgraduate and his number one daughter (I speak chronologically) from reaching the peak of Yr Wyddfa (that's Snowdon to you and me) last Saturday. A brilliant day in excellent company and with Sharon acting as taxi at either end of our exertions. This was part of Helen's training for Kilimanjaro next January. As for Snowdon I'm going to do it again on a sunny day when I can see for miles. Bosting fun. And there was surpassingly excellent home made chilli con carne back at base camp.

We went up the Pyg track which is not for those averse to a bit of scrambling but discretion was the better part of valour on the way down and we came down the Llanberis path. The winds were brutal enough to blow me off my feet at one point in the descent, fortunately suffering nothing worse than a sprained ankle. I repeat, bosting day.


Tuesday, 14 October 2014

A Good Day Is Any Day That You're Alive

Thirty minutes ago I thought my computer was broken but turns out it was merely having one of those inexplicable moments pieces of machinery have around me - a high tech equivalent of the afternoon nap I suppose. So when the screen was being obstinately blank it felt like this had decided to be a bad day. But it turns out that it wasn't and I should learn to be more optimistic. So today is the first day of the rest of my life. And so is tomorrow.

Somewhere in, let us say, California there will be someone who has today seen his or her psychiatrist, had a hair cut and then been for a run. Today I have done all of these things and you know what, the pale English autumnal weather doesn't spoil it. Today has then been a good day.

The psychiatrist was measured and reassuring and has reduced my drugs. Now don't get me wrong, I'm grateful for the medication that has supported me for the last half dozen years but it feels good to be stepping down the regime and the vanity in me will be pleased if the attendant weight increase becomes a little less attendant.

As for running, I managed thirty minutes without too much agony and I did of course wear the Oakleys. I know that possibly makes me look a dick but you may as well go the whole hog when you're already wearing lycra. You can't knock the hair cut though - number 2 buzz cut all over, tapered at the back and well clear around the ears. Pretty fly.

You read it here first - new improved all-smiling little ray of sunshine Roberts hits the mean streets tomorrow morning. As for tonight, the claret beckons and I'm going to watch some baseball. A good day is any day that you're alive.

PS. I had spaghetti with squid pieces for my tea


The Discipline Of Law

Beware the late night blogger nursing both a glass of wine and a grievance. Step away from the invective.

Trust me I'm a lawyer - a phrase that constitutes a not meritless joke. But joking aside - trust me I'm a lawyer, and something is bugging me about the way I am these days asked or counselled to practise my trade. You see the thing is this - any half-educated pillock can be the sort of lawyer who can only ever tell you the reasons why you shouldn't do something. The better educated pillock (for there is no ground rule that precludes any stamp of lawyer from being a pillock) will tell you not only why you can do something but also tell you the efficient and lawful way of doing it. Good lawyers are enablers not road blocks. My hero Lord Denning put it well in Packer v Packer in 1954,
What is the argument on the other side? Only this, that no case has been found in which it has been done before. That argument does not appeal to me in the least. If we never do anything which has not been done before, we shall never get anywhere. The law will stand still whilst the rest of the world goes on: and that will be bad for both. 

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Looking For Reasons To Be Cheerful

They're hard to find, reasons to be cheerful at the moment.

On the home front I lamented the poverty of our politics a couple of weeks ago, but now that the party conference season is over (it ended with the poignant irrelevance of Nick Clegg yesterday) I should be permitted one more moaning spree. All over the place are the deafening sounds of silence, as truths are conveniently ignored. Bloody Ed Miliband, bless him, even managed to forget completely to mention the budget deficit. We were invited to admire the man delivering a speech without notes and instead found ourselves wondering from what planet he had landed. Looks weird, sounds weird, is weird. Earlier this week that prize clown Vince Cable was back to his best liberal flummery, although I suppose that to have being neither George Osborne nor Ed Balls as your unique selling point is not exactly bad marketing.

All of which domestic stuff can make us fail to notice the truly dreadful things that are going on in the rest of the world. In Hong Kong democracy protestors were beaten back by the weather, which might lead some to the uncomfortable conclusion that God is a totalitarian. The economies of mainland Europe are contracting back towards recession, dragged there by an inefficient single currency. Worst and most terrifying of all, ISIS (or whatever we are today supposed to call them) butcher their way towards their destiny of an all conquering Caliphate. Sadam, Gadaffi, Assad, Khomenei - all look to have been positively cuddly by comparison. The state of Israel will not survive unscathed in the face of a Caliphate and the attempted destruction of Israel will lead to global conflict.

So here are a few of the truths that go unacknowledged.

  • We may negotiate with God.
  • You can't have open borders and a worthwhile welfare state.
  • Sovereign states can and will default on their debts.
  • You either uninvent money or you have to balance budgets. The alternative is government as a gargantuan Ponzi scheme.