Friday, 22 January 2016

Baltic Dry Index causing excitement

Economic pundits are always on the lookout for the next crystal ball, and they think they have found it in the form of the Baltic Dry Index, which measures the cost of shipping dry goods (ie, not oil) around the world. Currently the BDI is sitting on an "all time" low (where "all time" means since 1985 when the index started.)


And yes, it is looking a little cheap to buying shipping space ATM, the index is around 300 compared with over 4,000 in 2010.

But what is the major cost ingredient of shipping? Cheapo Asian sailors? No. Ship building? No, ships last forever. The major cost is the fuel - oil. Unlike cars and planes and things, cargo ships have not gotten more efficient or cleaner over the years. No laws control their emissions. They fill the tanks tax free and pollute as they like. And what has happened to the oil price recently?


Yes, fallen off a cliff. So not surprisingly the cost of shipping tat from China has also fallen.

Which is not to say the economy is not on the turn; it is. Trade volumes have also fallen. But the BDI is a cracked crystal ball.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Irony of Planet X

For a hundred years scientists have been searching for a planet in the outer solar system beyond Neptune and Pluto (whose orbits cross over so they alternate being the further body.) This putative planet was called Planet X, both because it would be the 10th planet (from Latin numerals) and because X traditionally denotes the unknown.

Now boffins at CalTech think they have proved the existence of Planet X by looking at perturbations of smaller objects in the Kuiper belt.

Planet X: One of its years would be 10,000-20,000 Earth years

The irony is that while they were searching Pluto has been downgraded to a dwarf planet so the new world is only Planet IX.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Winston is right

Friday last, Winston Truman MacKensie was ejected from the Big Brother house after citing his Christian values and expressing the view that homosexual adoption was "child abuse". 

Winston: "Backs to the wall, chaps!"

The entire house contemned Winston's views and his housemates voted 13:1 to eject him. It probably did not help that Winston is a weirdo who claims to be a politician, indeed he is the English Democrats' candidate for Mayor of London in 2016, but has never been elected to anything, and has been a member of just about every political party including one he started himself.

Even the show's main presenters, Emma Willis and Rylan Clark, took pains to excoriate Winston; Emma eventually dismissing him with the words, "You are free to go," like he had been a prisoner under interrogation.

Lost in the furor was Winston's basic premise, that same-sex adoption is child abuse. He was charged and convicted of homophobia without his core assertion being examined in any depth or detail; probably because the Big Brother house currently contains an unlikely collection of misfits, freaks and deviants. Several have admitted to possession of Class A drugs; a couple admit to massive promiscuity and one seems to have confessed to paedophilia. Clearly such a bunch cannot tolerate a righteous Christian man in their midst.

So how is same-sex adoption child abuse? This needs to be examined from the point of view of the child being adopted. Imagine two "married" homosexual men persuade a woman "surrogate" to produce a baby for them. A baby is born; the woman paid, and the two men take their prize home, and quite possibly do an excellent job of looking after baby - bottle feeding it every four hours, changing its nappy, and generally doing for it everything the biological mother would have done bar the obvious.

These two men love their baby and it completes their "family". Everyone is happy, with the possible exception of the person who at that age has no voice - the baby. The baby will never know a mother's love. It will grow up with a void in its life that has no name and quite possibly the child will not even realise what has been missing all its life. It will never experience the absolute mother love which sustains people into adulthood and even into old age. It has been deprived of a right which every baby going back to the dawn of time has had - the right to have a mother.

Many people will say that two dads easily adds up to one mother. They will claim that provided the love is there it does not matter where it comes from. Effectively they take the view that love is quantitative. This blog however takes the view that it is qualitative and no amount of dads can add up to a mother and the child raised never knowing motherly love will suffer emotionally even into old age from the lack of early maternal care. Hence: child abuse.