Tuesday, January 08, 2008

A very costly decision

Back in 1999, our then chancellor, Ol' Golden Brown, no less, took the unprecedented decision to unload a large proportion of the UK's gold reserves at a time when the price of gold was at the bottom of the market. Dealers still term that price as the "Brown Bottom". (Full story in The Times).

At the time, there was much concern, and many forecasts that it would cost the UK dear. "The 17 auctions achieved prices for the gold of between $256 and $296 an ounce, with an average of $275." The total loss, back in April this year was estimated at some £2 Billion. (It would have been considerably more had not the Euros purchased with much of the proceeds not appreciated in value.)

Well, the price of gold now stands at a record $872.10 per ounce. That means that our PM is directly responsible for a loss to the UK of some £3 Billion+.

Now if I (or anyone else for that matter) had taken such an appalling decision and lost such an immense amount in business I'd have been sacked on the spot. It just goes to prove that there is no such thing as accountability in politics nowadays.

ADDENDUM - Brown's big hitter - When in the mire, don't whatever happens try and sort it out. Hire a better person to explain why it isn't.

ADDENDUM 2 - Unhappy new year to you all!

Money well, expended

Fit for purpose?

Are you mad?????

Spending perfectly good money on actual tangibles that get delivered directly to where they can do the most good to the most folk... and, worse, with the notion of reward-based incentives attached taboot!

This is heresy.

What we need is more departments, and initiatives, and announcements and quangos and massive communications budgets with oodles of pre and post research to get the BBC to read out as gospel.

However, fair point on weather, etc. But as a matter of principle a heck of a better way to be thinking than the current 'ban, guilt, accuse and refuse' notions and their jaw-dropping black hole budgets.

This notion applies across every area of our lives too, of course.

The agricultural albedo effect

We've had the mirrors in space idea, and we have people experimenting with dumping iron filings into the oceans to encourage algal blooms, amongst many other strange geo-engineering ideas.

Now scientists have come up with the shiny plant idea. Let's grow lots of crops with shiny leaves and the albedo effect "could reduce maximum daytime temperatures in agricultural regions by as much as 1.9C".

There's that great word again: 'could'.

ADDENDUM by Junkk Male - Great minds...?

Start as you mean to carry on?

Isn't life grand? Asks Newsnight.

Well, not if this is how they see the future of quality news in the year ahead. I rather expect my national broadcaster to devote its pages to weightier issues than having a snipe about someone else being nasty about them, unless it is to correct a factual inaccuracy.

I thought it was just middle age when I moved from Radio 1 to Radio 2, but mainly it was when the 'new yoof' celeb DJs like Chris Moyles decided the listeners needed less music and more on them and their dissin' spats with equally uninteresting nobodies of but minor relevance through 'working' for other iconic media brands.

I could care less what you lot and anyone else from any ratings obsessed, agenda-driven media extreme think of each other, but as a licence fee payer (I can at least opt not to pay for the Daily Mail) I do care a lot about what you are paid to provide: relevant, objective, intelligent, accurate news.

Hard to see any hint of that here. As no link was provided to the piece in question I have no clue as to what was or was not in it, so the only purpose seems to expose a degree of unhealthy self-obsession and importance at the expense of relevant journalism.

ADDENDUM - Oddly, after three attempts over a few days my post has not made it up. I can only presume it did not fit the BBC or its Editor's standards of... whatever they have standards left of. Even more oddly, on the page counter there are 6 replies listed as being posted. Only three are visible. Omission in many ways is the most pernicious form of censoring of all. What I wrote was critical to be sure, but I'd also say justified. On an open blog to exclude the comment seems... telling. I'll try again in a few more days in case it's one those 'tech errors' that often serve to let the passage of time smooth the view in the rear mirror.

ADDENDUM 2 - Nope. Still nothing. One can only wonder why. Go via here via 4 Jan to see how 6 become 3. Not Newsnight's, the BBC's or the cause of honest and balanced journalism's finest hour.

ADDENDUM 3 - Well, there's a thing. It is now (14:29. Tue 8) up now. And I am sure, with some embarrassment, my whinge that it isn't will follow. Good job I did a page capture a few days ago. Rather oddly (still), my comment is now inserted before that of a chap whose comment was up a few days ago (but probably after mine). What an odd system it is.

Answering the call

Gordon Brown calls for single food labelling scheme

What, in the great smoke and mirrors scheme of things, does 'calls for' actually mean, or translate as?

I rather suspect this is yet one more in an exponentially expanding series of politician double speak up there to join 'this is not acceptable (but sod all will be done)', 'we're going to look at this (at arm's length, and then wait until it goes away)' and, my personal favourite 'lessons need to learned (then filed and forgotten)'.

I hate to break it to our Dear Leader, but this horse has already long bolted and this consumer is well beyond contusion. He's already at 'if they don't know or care to sort it out sensibly, why should I bother?'. So, as I am on a mixed metaphorical roll, it will be fun to see how this genie gets popped back in it's bottle.

Especially as, at least from my reading of this article, the additional fun of the already several competing and contradictory carbon/food miles efforts already out and/or proposed to add to the screed on packs seems not to be in this mix. Or at least not mentioned.

I'm betting that after a ton of 'working with', which should keep a load of public servants in pensions and consultants in fees until well after the cows have finished burping methane, the most I predict will be several vastly expensive 'campaigns' instead of any tangibles from several left/right hand quangos, so at least the ad and media world may still benefit.

Just not so sure about the consumer or planet's health, though.

Guardian - Energy firms feel heat from government over surge in prices - I'm sorry, but how 'expressing concern' translates into anyone on the other end 'feeling heat' is a stretch.