Tuesday, 14 October 2014
Syria and Iran
Saturday, 11 October 2014
(The need for education)
Containment and education
Screening and tracking
Sunday, 5 October 2014
The young warriors who have gathered in the desert to proclaim an
Islamic State, a Caliphate, seem to have got lost. They seem to have
turned away from Allah and the teachings of Muhammad.
Is not Allah Merciful? [Al-Qur'an 4:25; "And Allah is Oft-Forgiving,
Most Merciful."][Al-Qur'an 5:74; "..And Allah is Forgiving and
Is not Allah Just? [Al-Qur'an 4:40; "Allah is never unjust in the
It therefore seems that the warriors of the so-called Islamic state
have turned away from Islam towards injustice and brutality.
If they die they will not die as martyrs. It does seem that their
victims are nearer to heaven than they.
If any warrior wishes to experience the Mercy of Allah it would be
well for him to seek out an Imam and beg him to teach them the way.
Saturday, 27 September 2014
Major General Jonathan Shaw, the only sane voice that I have heard on
IS and the present bombing spree.
Listen 6min 20 sec into the following link.
This is "a battle for the soul of Islam", and it should be left to
them. The involvement of the West is a distraction, a distortion, and
is counter productive.
(Is not democracy a "government of the people by the people for the
Some people think of the middle east as an 'oil-rich' area, the source
of much of OUR oil. They forget that it is the homeland of millions of
people who have opted for a way of life and a religion that is
different from ours. Some think our 'homeland security' requires us to
invade their homeland. Golly!
12 Longhirst Village,
MORPETH, NE61 3LT, UK
Tel: 01670 791880
Tuesday, 5 August 2014
Annotated Index to Blog Postings
Monetarism 2: Keynesianism and Stagflation
Sunday, 6 July 2014
The changed brief of the central banks makes monetarism obsolete?
In 1923, hyperinflation in Weimar Germany  was caused by the central government printing money to pay for its obligations to employees and millions of striking workers in the Ruhr. The absurdity of this was (surely) obvious to all. The so-called Austrian School of economics  arose based on the apparently inexorable link between an increase in the quantity of money and the decrease in its value. At that level it was satisfyingly faultless, irrefragable, unassailable, for it was a priori .
But what is money? In the twenties and thirties the definition was relatively simple: it meant notes-and-coin. That is to say, the unlimited production of notes-and-coin soon swamped everything else. Over the subsequent decades innovations in banking have made the definition fuzzy and obscure. But obscure because fuzzy. It has become hard to define what should count as money in the context of the monetarist formula because different assets can have different roles depending on time-scales, and personal psychology. Is the money in my current account mine or the bank's? What about in my deposit account, or my 90-day account? Is an asset like a house to be included? No? But what if I sell the house and spend the proceeds? What if I merely think I could sell the house? What if I can sell the house but think I cannot? Quantitative Easing in the USA and Europe since 2008 has seen a dramatic increase in the Monetary Base (which on existing theories should have caused an even more dramatic increase in commercial activity), but there has been no sign of concomitant inflation, and surprisingly little effect on employment.
The Austrian School is in trouble. People now spend days and weeks researching and writing papers to define money in such as way that the Austrian School's formula can be shown to be valid. (This problem is thoroughly aired in reference .) Gone is the certainty of the a priori. A fuzzy definition brings in judgments, and fuzzy answers. If money is in short supply, it is not spent; but the reverse is not equally true; money does not have to be spent simply because it is there. Humans are as much emotional as logical.
The Austrian School is in trouble, but worse is to come. It is the duty of Central Banks to maintain: [a] maximum employment, [b] stable prices (including prevention of either inflation or deflation), and [c] moderate long-term interest rates (insofar as it is possible to reconcile those three different aims) . They are not required to maintain a constant supply of money as such. Many years ago it became clear that it was necessary to release more money in mid-December when it is needed, and withdraw it again in mid-January when it is idle. Money is now created when it is needed. If you want to predict inflation, do not look at the money supply, look at inflation; for that is what the Bank of England is doing (or should be doing***). If money supply (however calculated, M0, M2, M4, MA, MAex, etc), is not a leading but a lagging indicator, there is no point in monitoring it. Nothing will be learned from it that could not be learned earlier by looking at the triple target of the Central Banks, viz employment, prices and interest rates. (The only gain will be for the 'Austrians' themselves if they finally find the right measure of the Money Supply; they will then be able to say they were right all along.)
(*** Of course people make mistakes. House prices in South East England are inflating steeply. So let us build lots more houses, in North East England where there is unemployment and plenty spare land. "Oh! Sorry! Now you tell me that house prices are falling in the North East. Wish you had told me earlier!")
Cawstein, Morpeth, U.K.
Saturday, 21 June 2014
Government of the People, by the Rich, for the Rich?
The marginal propensity to consume.
Wednesday, 18 June 2014
The difficulty of Keynes's Style
"Since we are here concerned in determining what sum will be spent on consumption when employment is at a given level, we should, strictly speaking, consider the function which relates the former quantity (C) to the latter (N)."
Since we are concerned in determining what sum will be spent on consumption (C) when employment (N) is at a given level, we should, strictly speaking, consider the function that relates the two.
"....; whereas they do not resist reductions of real wages, which (that) are associated with increases in aggregate employment and leave relative money-wages unchanged, unless the reduction proceeds so far as to threaten a reduction of the real wage below the marginal disutility of the existing volume of employment."
"Men are involuntarily unemployed if, in the event of a small rise in the price of wage-goods relatively to the money-wage, both the aggregate supply of labour willing to work for the current money-wage and the aggregate demand for it at that wage would be greater than the existing volume of employment. "
Wednesday, 4 June 2014
Saturday, 12 April 2014
Debt 6 — How bad is debt?
"Neither a borrower nor a lender be; for loan oft loses both itself and friend, and borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry." Hamlet 1.3
These words have found resonnance in puritan heads from Shakespeare till the last part of the 20th century. Polonius could have said more against borrowing. A debtor who is unable to repay his debts finds himself at a considerable disadvantage; he may lose his liberty, or his house, or find himself tied to a tredmill, paying interest he can ill afford without hope of escape. Furthermore, Polonius mentioned none of the advantages of debt.
Is debt, in general, a good thing or a bad thing?
Well, it is a good thing for the lenders who can expect a return on their capital of 2 or more % above inflation, even if their loans are of the non productive sort. And it is a good thing for the entrepreneur who is trying to expand a winning business model (productive borrowing). But it is a bad thing for the "over indebted". Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB) estimate that keeping up with bills and other financial commitments is a burden (or worse) for nine per cent of the population .
But the 90% who can manage their affairs intelligently can freely choose to enjoy a house and a car while they are young and pay as they get older. Inflation will considerably mitigate the amount they lose in interest payments. If they come on hard times they could lose their house; but end where they started, little the worse. Many young people nowadays will take thought, and borrow. The case will depend on: [a] rate of inflation, [b] stability of the jobs market; but can be skewed by governmental tamperings such as [c] capital gains legislation, [d] income tax relief, etc. Another factor is [e] temperament; cautious individuals will overestimate the chance of losing their job while the reckless will underestimate that.
Since 1975 the household debt as a fraction of annual disposable income rose in most western countries; in the UK it almost trebled from 0.64 in 1975 to a peak in 2008 of 1.80, from which it has sunk in 2012 to 1.55  We are more deeply indebted than the US, but trail Denmark, Norway and Switzerland. Since 2000, Germany has almost halved its debt/income ratio, while most other countries have only reduced personal debt in the last 5 years. One suspects that these data reflect a spectrum of several underlying factors: caution, stability, cost of the housing stock, age distribution of the population.
(Unscrupulous lending (offering money to someone unable to calculate the consequences) is a social evil, like drunkenness, and should be subject to social and even legal regulation. Predatory lending (where a secured loan is offered in the hope that it cannot be repaid so that the lender can acquire the security) would be criminal were it possible to prove.)
Though it goes against my gut feeling to let myself be beholden in that way, I conclude that there is little case against debt if it is entered into with due thought, but that it should not be encouraged by the state (to the benefit of the bankers and to the detriment of the economy and society generally. Furthermore, there should be closer scrutiny, and better means of regulation and redress.
Ian West, 12 Longhirst Village, NE61 3LT
My remedy is fair, logical, and (with a stroke of the legislative pen) could be made legal. It is not hyper-novel as it enshrines a principle accepted in most civilisations from Roman times till the modern barbarism of the capitalist era; the distinction between usury and capitalism.
As soon as the accumulated interest paid on a loan equals the amount borrowed, the loan should be regarded as discharged. A low interest rate (say, inflation plus 1%) should then replace the original high rate, but calculated back to the beginning of the loan.
Ian West, 12 Longhirst Village, NE61 3LT
Thursday, 27 February 2014
The man presented no chink of doubt. We must all take statins from infancy up. He kept saying that a 1mM (mmol total cholesterol per litre blood) drop in total cholesterol causes a 25% lowering of risk of vascular event; but, while his curves showed a steep line of correlation for 40 year olds, it was an almost flat line for 80 years. (So for me there is practically no benefit).
In no case was the vertical axis on any of his graphs 'General health'; he was only talking about 'Rate (or risk) of vascular event'. To a hammer everything looks like a nail and to a cardiologist the object is to lower risk of a 'vascular event'. What about the adverse side-effects; the muscle pains, and increased risk of diabetes (both of which Young conceded), Alzheimer's, ALS, and Parkinson's (which were mentioned by Stephanie Seneff)?
Cholesterol is essential. Ian Young correctly remarked that blocking the synthetic pathway at HMGCoA synthase (as statins do) will indeed cause a shortage of cholesterol and lead to scavenging pathways and the relocation of existing cholesterol. If the scavenged cholesterol is from coronary plaques, well-and-good; but what if it is in brain myelin or muscle cell membranes (as emphasised by Stephanie Seneff)? And what about ubiquinone and dolicol, which are also essential and also on the pathway blocked by statins (as emphasised by Stephanie Seneff )? If there ARE INDEED adverse side effects of statins it is easy to see why!
So the clinical debate should be about the side effects versus benefits. I heard a paper in a Glasgow Heart meeting in the late 1990s which concluded that for over 40 year olds (or over 50) the OVERALL benefits of statins do not outweigh the OVERALL damage. I was impressed (staggered, indeed) at the failure of the clinical cardiologists to see that this trumped the (undenied) fact that statins lower cardiovascular risk.
I am certainly not going to take statins. I do not feel I need them. And whether or not I should lower blood cholesterol there is something too utterly daft about poisoning myself at great expense in order to achieve that; and simply to switch from a healthy death from a coronary to a lingering death from mental, muscular and neurological decay. If I were under 40 and had familial hypercholesterolaemia, I think I would try diet, red-wine, and niacin (e.g. brewer's yeast) before I tried statins. (There are many types of familial hypercholesterolaemia; the most common by a factor of 2 is a defective LDL-receptor, which presumably hoicks LDL particles out of the circulation and into some (presumably) removal pathway.
Professor Ian Young talked away about nuts, expensive margarine, salt, exercise, the 'J'-curve for alcohol, etc. But he conceded that only 10% of our cholesterol comes from diet. So, surely the question is why do we MAKE too much? What regulates the synthetic pathway? [**] Does alcohol in excess of 2 units per day, or smoking, etc, up-regulate the synthetic pathway, or affect the partitioning between pools of cholesterol, e;g; by enhancing oxidative damage. What is the rôle of lipid oxidation (briefly mentioned by Young)? [** My colleague Loranne Agius suggests that excess carbohydrate feeds into fat production in the liver which requires cholesterol for its excretion]
Young pointed out that HDL-cholesterol is "good"; that low 'cardiovascular risk' correlates with higher HDL (in the 1 - 2 mM range, independently of LDL or total Ch.); in fact high HDL-Ch is 10-fold healthier than low HDL-Ch (while low LDL-Ch is only 3 times healthier than high); the best predictor of heart disease is therefore the ratio LDL/HDL, the next best is HDL, the least good is LDL or total blood cholesterol. So, what determines partitioning between the various 'pools' of cholesterol: HDL, LDL, its 'locus operandi' (where it is needed, in muscle and nerve membranes), and its 'locus morbidus' (i.e. coronary plaques where it is not wanted - we suppose)? What is the rôle of lipid oxidation (briefly mentioned by Young) in affecting the partitioning? Presumably the HDL particle is picking up and re-locating cholesterol and is wholly good. But it is HDL-cholesterol that is measured, so we do not know if the HDL is largely unloaded or nearly full; the latter giving the impression of plenty of HDL particle, but actually being nearly useless as a scavenger. There is a route for elimination of lipid, lipid-cholesterol-ester and cholesterol which involves liver, bile and gut. Guessing here, and maybe naively, but is it damaged (e.g. oxidized) fat/cholesterol that is eliminated, rather than merely surplus? So many unanswered questions.
Perhaps the coronary plaques are, in a wider sense, beneficial. After all, they protect us against Alzheimer's disease, and a lingering death! What are the evolutionary benefits (to the genes) of surviving beyond age 70? They must be very small and may be negative; a little 'grandparenting', and 'advice' (perhaps), but is that sufficient to pay for the food and space?
Coming to Stephanie Seneff (2011), I believe this contains errors, and her fundamental technique is strange and (I suspect) fallible; that of looking at a bunch of statin-based and non-statin-based reviews and counting in each the incidence of words like 'dementia'. If 'Statin' reviews mention dementia, that does not necessarily mean that Statins cause dementia. What if statins PROTECT against dementia, or the paper says STATIN DOES NOT CAUSE dementia, while on the other hand diuretic pharmacologists may focus on salt balance and blood volume, even it their drugs do actually cause hallucinations. I do not follow Seneff's argument about lactate and acidosis; splitting ATP to ADP and Pi generates H+, but there is 10 - 100 times as much lactic acid synthesized as ATP split (and ATP is resynthesised while lactate accumulates). I think she has the oxidation of cholesterol-sulphate to cholesterol-sulphide wrong, for that is surely a reduction, and I have never heard of there being any useful energy available from that. (Indeed, I had not heard about cholesterol-sulphate or cholesterol-sulphide.) But she is right about cholesterol being needed. And statins being toxic. Is she right about statins causing raised fructose, or dementia, or ALS, etc? That needs checking, not dismissing.
But I am no expert.
Ian West, (12 Longhirst Village, MORPETH, NE61 3LT)
Monday, 24 February 2014
You have been very helpful. However, I shall still warn everyone I
know to beware of "Amazon Prime". I found a page on your website which
said "click this button to begin a 30 day free trial". It DID NOT say
that I would automatically upgrade to a paying member after 30 days.
And in any case I DID NOT PRESS that button. Furthermore, I looked at
all three emails from Amazon sent on 13th Jan and NONE of them say
anything about Amazon Prime, let alone automatic conversion to full
Fee Paying Membership after 30 days.
I may well have opted for "1 day delivery and free 30 day trial of
Amazon Prime", thinking that it was indeed 'Free'. (How naif can you
get!). But as you rightly observe I do not know what Amazon Prime is
and certainly did not wish to join that. The 30 day period was,
however, very educational; I know I want nothing to do with Amazon
Prime; and I did not know that before.
Unfortunately I have stopped that Credit Card. Not, I should say,
because of the erroneous £49.00 charge, for I had stopped the card for
another fraud before I noticed this entry. I think TSB should manage
to credit my account, but there may be some problem.
You have been very helpful. If you are this helpful to all customers I
think this 'Amazon Prime' idea must count as one of Amazon's few
Best wishes, Ian West
12 Longhirst Village,
MORPETH, NE61 3LT, UK
Tel: 01670 791880
On 24 Feb 2014, at 17:25, Amazon.co.uk wrote:
Message From Customer Service
This is Jason from Amazon Customer Services,
Further to our conversation I've checked your account and found that
the charge of GBP 49.00 relates to Amazon Prime. When you placed an
order on the 13 January 2014, you chose the following delivery option:
"One-Day Delivery with a free trial of Amazon Prime (1 business day)".
While you weren't charged at sign-up, your membership is upgraded to a
paid membership plan for your own convenience once the trial period
As you didn't cancel your membership once the trial period ended, our
system automatically charged you the annual subscription fee for
Amazon Prime, GBP 49.00.
However, our records indicate that you haven't used your Amazon Prime
membership, so it doesn't seem that the Amazon Prime service is
something you'd benefit from.
I've now cancelled your Amazon Prime membership and requested a refund
of GBP 49.00 for the membership fee.
Refunds usually go through in 2 to 3 business days so you should see
this credited to your account on your next statement. Please note,
this does not include your bank's processing time.
Cancelling your Prime membership means that you'll lose your Prime
benefits. Any new or pending orders may be subject to delivery costs.
Cancelling your membership will also cancel the membership benefits of
any invited household members. You will also lose access to Kindle
Owners Lending Library.
For more information about Amazon Prime, including the Terms &
Conditions, please visit our Help pages at:
I hope this helps. We look forward to seeing you again soon.
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