Lies, damn lies, and...


A friend posted a Business For Scotland piece recently that was, on the face of it, shocking.

Scotland had the lowest percentage of households in the highest earning households of GB. The Eurostat GDP data for Scotland, however, showed all but the Highlands having decent GDP, and the area around Aberdeen being in the highest band.

This was interpreted to mean that Scotland's wealth was being syphoned off wholesale to London, leaving Scotland at the lowest level of GDP in GB.

However, the wrong indicators were being used. Having the lowest percentage of wealthiest families in GB tells us nothing about how wealth is distributed in families lower down the wealth scale. In fact, if you think about it, a more equitable society may well have less families in the wealthiest household band, but more families in median income bands. This is a personal feeling, but I think Scotland is one of the more equitable parts of the UK, if not the most equitable.

So, how can we check this?

The Office of National Statistics has a nice current report on Regional Gross Disposable Household Income, and this figure of the GDHI per head is illuminating:

Suddenly Scotland is not the more hard-done-by region - in fact it is better than all of the north of England and Northern Ireland, and only bettered by London.

Whatever choice Scotland makes on Thursday, I hope they do not put too much weight on statistics like that in the Business for Scotland article in making a decision.

The Business for Scotland article:
The ONS Report on Regional Gross Disposable Household Income, 2012:
Big news

Funny Censorship at the 'internet's Best Science site'

There's a climate denial blog called "Watt's Up With That" (henceforth WUWT), and in common with most denial sites it's more interested in "OMG! They're lying to us! Listen to me - I'll set you right, I'm not one of THEM!" rather than "That's an interesting point - tell me more...oh so that explains X! Good, what about Y? Oh? So that's not relevant to this case because of W? Thanks for talking us through that!"

Anyhoo, one of their heroes has earned their ire, due to doing his own independent research and discovering that the denialists are, well, 100% wrong. This, understandably has not garnered a "tell me more" from WUWT - but a predictable "You're one of THEM!". My mirth was unleashed upon reading the last comment on the thread:

"John T says:
April 4, 2011 at 8:22 pm

[Reply: Contribute something worthwhile to the conversation or leave. Gratuitously insulting the internet's Best Science site is not appreciated by this moderator. ~dbs, mod.]

Best Science site! Priceless! :D

Supreme Logic Fail

It appears that the Minister for Regional Development has been providing training for staff to learn Irish, if they so wish. Whilst I am not opposed to people learning Irish the rationale given by Conor Murphy is lacking in logic:

"There have also been practical benefits, as staff have been able to use their skills to assist the department to deal with telephone calls, correspondence and other Irish language issues."

Are people from the Gaeltachts in the South calling up the department? For the life of me that would be the only reason for needing staff able to communicate in Irish. And that would beg the question as to why Northern Ireland had gained responsibility for these areas of the the Republic.

Last paragraph tongue in cheek of course.

Personally speaking, I wish the Minister had bothered his arse to respond to my query on his position on reform of English Libel Laws - seeing that he is my MP. Perhaps I should have written it in Irish.

Wiki Uselessness

Who would ever have guessed that Victor Gollancz has only been publishing Science Fiction from 1998 - thank you for clearing that up Wikipedia. I must now re-edit my childhood!

Heat and Veg

I find it incomprehensible, when reading the comments in the "Watts up with that?" climate denialism site, to come across people making the claim that the increased warming being caused by greenhouse gasses will result in increased agricultural productivity - as it will apparently result in a "climate optimum".

Case in point: we've had our summer extended by one extra month in Japan, and with that agricultural productivity has changed - in a downward direction. Rice quality is apparently down, the quality of vegetables in our supermarkets is also down, prices are up.

The heat also messed with the growing cycles of various produce - one local news report mentioned farmers who grow both rice and grapes facing the problem of both crops maturing at the same time, and so either having to try and hire extra hands at harvest, or leaving one crop to rot.

Some climate optimum!
The British Isles

Claudy Bombing and The Catholic Church

According to the BBC the NI Police Ombudsman has finally released his report into the police investigation of the Cluady Bombing of 1972, which killed 9 people. The basic thrust of the report is that a senior RUC Officer approached the Catholic Church and asked them to remove Father Chesney, one of the suspects in the bombing, from Northern Ireland. This was done, compromising the investigation.

Cardinal Brady has said of the report:

""The Church was approached by the secretary of state at the instigation of senior members of the RUC," he said.

"Furthermore, the Church subsequently reported back to the secretary of state the outcome of its questioning of Fr Chesney into his alleged activities.

"The actions of Cardinal Conway or any other Church authority did not prevent the possibility of future arrest and questioning of Fr Chesney."

All well and good - but the report should not be seen as the ringing endorsement that the Cardinal would have us believe.

The Church colluded in moving a man they believed to be a mass murderer out of the legal jurisdiction in which his crimes were committed.

They kept silent about the acts of Father Chesney as long as they could.

They could have at least defrocked him, but instead let a murderer tend to the flocks they sent him to guide.

The Church should not find any solace in this report - and take the people of Ireland to be fools if they attempt to do so.

I wonder what the long term consequences of the Church handing a defrocked Father Chesney over to the police would have been? I cannot believe it would have been all bad - and may have established some trust of the Church and its establishment in areas of Northern Ireland where mistrust of Catholics and their church were deep-rooted.

Racism in Japan

“The pride of this country that has been built up by the Yamato (Japanese) race must be passed down to our children, otherwise there will be no future for the country,” said Masahito Fujikawa, 49, an LDP-backed candidate in the Aichi electoral district.

This in response to the idea that permanent residents of Japan should be able to vote in local elections.

Watch out for those filthy foreigners in other words...

More here
Uncle Andy?

Moral fail for a moral cause

There was an anti-war religious group collecting signatures in our town centre yesterday. The petition was opposing the arms trade. Now I didn't sign as I find such things misguided, however worthy the sentiment (Case in point: I have yet to come across any such group pushing to ban the AK47 - the world's foremost weapon of mass-destruction).

My wife did sign later (we had split up to sort the shopping out quicker). She was gob-smacked when the campaigner whose petition she had signed suggested she sign for our son, as details such as age and address didn't have to be put on the petition. My wife politely refused to sign - if I had been there I would have been a bit more public in my disapproval.