Don’t let “race relations tear at your soul”, Hillary

Keith Hudson

Don’t let “race relations tear at your soul”, Hillary.  Don’t blame rising inequality or institutional racism in the criminal justice system. Blame yourself, or your advisors, or your fellow politicians for not keeping up-to-date. Evolutionary biologists, ethologists, anthropologists, behavioural psychologists and other scientists have been trying to point out for 20 or 30 years at least what the recent riots in Montgomery and Baltimore have really been about.
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Everything to hand for punter-man

Keith Hudson

We have had hunter-man, farmer-man, factory-man and we are now into the era of punter-man. Most of us today are punters. We are being taken for a ride by the financial wunderkind, and even those who are very rich among the financial wunderkind don’t know whether governments will not at some stage cause the whole of the monetary system to collapse so completely . . .   Continue reading

Most will fade away

Keith Hudson

As I’ve suggested two or three times in the past few months, the recent re-growth in the UK and US economies is not at all what it was cracked up to be. The prospect of a future healthy growth rate of 2% or north of it is already dashed. In this country last quarter’s growth was minimal and, yesterday, America’s was also shown to be so.

The 2008 Credit-Crunch precipitated, not caused, the no-growth economy . . . Continue reading

The problems of longevity

 Keith Hudson

Our fast extending lifespan in the advanced countries is too often spoken of as a great step forward and something we should congratulate ourselves about (or, rather, that of the medical profession!).  In one respect, yes, the increase in longevity is a great achievement in that it means increasing victory over a great number of serious mid-life killers such as heart diseases, cancers, obesity . . . Continue reading

Despite thousands of economists

Keith Hudson

The reason why humans are top dog among all other species on earth is undoubtedly due to our high intelligence.  This is a consequence of rapid brain evolution, mostly during the past few million years of the Ice Ages, when our brain expanded some two-and-half times over those of our ape ancestors.  It was by the application of intelligence that governments such as the European Neolithic, Egyptian, Chinese and Inca civilizations lasted for millennia. . . . Continue reading

The quality control of the species

Keith Hudson

Rape is so serious because it contradicts the natural order whereby, instinctively, it is females who do the choosing.  Males only have the option of refusal. To assist both parties in making choices both sexes become exhibitionistic in their teenager years, the males much more overtly so, the females more subtley.  Young men like to show their manly qualities in physical activities, . . . Continue reading

A flat-lining economy, or worse, for most

Keith Hudson

To those economists who still believe in incessant economic growth in a finite world with the certitude and enthusiam of a religious convert, the news that this country has resumed resumed growth has been music in their ears.  But the very recent growth of about 2.5% p.a. — and euphoric talk of 3% or 4% before too long — is likely to be a temporary phenomenon.. . .  Continue reading

Present-day exploitation of children

Keith Hudson

Children were mercilessly exploited in the first 50 years or so of the Industrial Revolution.  Tens of thousands of children were mercilessly exploited by their parents in sending them into the hundreds of cotton-spinning factories in and around Manchester working 12-hour or even 15-hour days, many thousands more were cleaning chimneys (by climbing up them), loading trucks in coal mines and so on.

Although it seems far-fetched and a great deal more subtle, children are also being exploited ln our state educational system., , .  Continue reading

Dandelion juice to save the rain forests

Keith Hudson

We can now hope that large rain forest regions, where the orangutan and other creatures live, may not be needed for rubber production in future years.  Dandelion juice has now been shown to be as good for top quality rubber production as the white latex sap flowing down in helices under the bark of Hevea brasiliensis, the rubber tree.  Molecular biologists from the Fraunhofer Institute in Germany have developed high-yielding strains mainly derived from the Russian dandelion. . .  Continue reading

The most important question in the world today

Keith Hudson

What is the most important question in the world?  According to Larry Summers, President Obama’s former chief economic advisor, speaking a day or two ago, it is:  How is America going to reform its education system and its health care & welfare so that all Americans can share the benefits? And, not least, he says:  How can America redeem its present debtor status as the world’s greatest borrowing nation? Continue reading

Tales of the Chukchi Sea

Keith Hudson

Shell announced recently that it was returning to drill in the Chukchi Sea under which there might be immense underwater reserves of oil and gas.  This lies just north of the Bering Straits between Yakutskaya (Russia) and Alaska (US), partly within the Arctic Circle and thus partly frozen over in the winter months.   Because of the ice, it will be a difficult and expensive exploratory rig to install and supply.

The Chukchi Sea has only been used by man twice before. . . . Continue reading

The creation of new ideas

Keith Hudson

Most ideas are ten-a-penny, occur in one mind only, and the vast majority of them, once conceived, are then forgotten about. The quality of new ideas rise according to the amount of experience or preparatory thought that had gone into them beforehand — hours, days, weeks, sometimes years in the case of the major ideas that win Nobel prizes or create large new businesses or change the culture in a powerful way (though often without ever being anticipated). What’s important, when an idea has been first conceived, is that it’s given a friendly reception, or at least not a hostile one.

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Advanced countries dividing into two populations

Keith Hudson

No book is more eagerly awaited among politicians and opinion-makers in America (and this country) than Robert Putnam’s new book Our Kids: the American Dream in Crisis. His first book, Bowling Alone, published 25 years ago, spoke of the loss of local community and the growing isolation of people. In his second book, he is now saying that America, with a well educated, well-paid elite with its own culture is now separating from the majority of the population which, with decreasing levels of education and skills . . . Continue reading

A lonely Hudsonia Godwit

Keith Hudson

A Hudson is visiting the Somerset Levels, wading and feeding in the wetlands not far from where I live. He or she is recovering from a trans-Atlantic flight. Setting out from South America originally, it has misfired its breeding grounds in Canada and Alaska by 4,000 miles. It is probably a young bird which became detached from its flock when flying up the east coast of North America and either re-joined the wrong flock or was wind-blown to us. It is a Hudsonian Godwit, a small wading bird with a long, very slightly curving beak which is ideal for probing into the mud and spearing delicacies there.

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A poor proposal for Iceland’s banks

Keith Hudson

The 2008 Credit-Crunch caused the bankruptcy of Iceland’s three largest commercial banks, leaving four today. Considering that Iceland’s population is only 322,000 then, compared with the UK, it is considerably over-banked. But even in a small country, competition between banks is healthy. It would much more accurate to say that the UK is far too under-banked with only four major banks in a population of 63 million. Fortunately, since the Credit-Crunch, at least a dozen smaller banks, with the benign help of Treasury officials (a new attitude for them), are now seriously setting out . . . Continue reading

Waiting for the Chinese . . . or for monetary collapse

Keith Hudson

Are we living in Normal Land or Fools’ Paradise? Let us ask some central bankers. We can’t ask politicians. None of them have the years of experience nor any time during the day to devote to studying the money basis of our present-day economic system. There are probably more central bankers who could tell us but, as far as I’m aware, there are only three — very eminent central bankers however — who have allowed what they think to seep into public consciousness. Who are they? They are Continue reading

Nonsense, Lord Stirling!

Keith Hudson

In an article published today with Nick Butler as co-author, “We ignore national security at our peril” — there’s no argument against that! — the subtitle runs on “The risks of further defence cuts makes Britain more vulnerable than ever”. Arguing on this point means considering whether what is already being spent makes sense anyway.

And in the article itself we learn what is meant by defence. It means more of the “hard power” that the Army, Navy and Air Force . . .  Continue reading

Welcoming the lynx, the beaver and the bear again

Keith Hudson

Besides the earthquake tragedy in Nepal, a topic on breakfast television this morning was the re-introduction of the lynx into England. Re-introduced into the Hartz mountain region in northern Germany some years ago, its release into eastern England — a distinctly flatter domain! — is being contemplated for the same reason. It is to keep the deer population down. In this country, roe deer and the muntjac especially are proliferating excessively, threatening . . . Continue reading

The day I disconcerted the Living Goddess of Kathmandu

Keith Hudson

I once disconcerted the Living Goddess of Khatmandu — or rather her predecessor of some 15 years ago — and, since hearing about the tragic earthquake yesterday, I’ve wondered whether the current one has perhaps been spared. Otherwise known as Dyah Meiji or Kumari, the Living Goddess lives for the whole year — except on one especially holy day called Indra Jafra — in Kumari House. Like many other buildings in Kathmandu, Kumari House was of simple, though ordinarily sturdy, timber frame construction of several storeys very similar in style to our . . . Continue reading

The growth of a post-capitalist financial economy

Keith Hudson

One well-known, but supposedly intelligent and well-read economist in this country, wrote recently that the earth can always find alternative resources for anything we may run out of for, he implied, centuries to come. In particular, he actually thought that we will always be able to grow enough food for a world population that might be adding a billion or two in the coming decades. He was obviously totally unaware that at least half the population of the world are already eating far less than a nutritious diet . . .  Continue reading

How to tax, or not tax, foreignors

Keith Hudson,

“Non-dom” status has suddenly reared its head as an election issue. If a foreigner lives in this country he can apply for non-domiciled (“non-dom”) status which immediately raises confusion over what the word “domiciled” means. In ordinary language, being domiciled means being resident. So, if he’s already resident here, how can he be non-domiciled here at the same time? This confusion is due to the legal language used in this particular part of taxation law. What “non-dom status” means — legally — is that . . . Continue reading

Our diamond thief heroes!

Keith Hudson

Heroes to many — if not most of the population — are the thieves of the Hatton Garden Safe Deposit Company in London’s diamond quarter over the Easter holiday period. So far, the half-dozen miscreants have got away with the crime — £60 million worth, so it is reported. Abseiling down a lift shaft, drilling their way through several feet of reinforced concrete, loading supermarket trolleys with steel safety boxes and coolly trundling them out to a . . . Continue reading

We have no “Human Rights”

Keith Hudson

Louise Cooper, whom I very much admire for her chutzpah when she’s on television, ends her recent e-mail circular on housing with: “A warm, dry secure home to bring up your family is a basic human right.” Well, one is sympathetic to that sort of statement. But, unfortunately, there’s no such thing as a “human right”, much though the term is used. It is a political slogan that is very fashionable these days but, even in advanced countries, a warm, dry secure home for . . . Continue reading

Two remaining questions for me

Keith Hudson

There are two pieces of information I would love to know before I die. The first is whether Dark Matter exists or not. Is it real or could it be a figment of astronomers’ imagination because the existing repertoire of physics is still incomplete? If it is shown to exist, then what is it made of? Is it of any substance already known to man — or, indeed, of any substance at all? Or is Dark Matter just another manifestation of information — which some physicists think . . .  Continue reading

Two housing myths put about by the rich and influential

Keith Hudson

Those who protest against Labour and LibDem’s proposals to bring about a ‘mansion tax’ on expensive houses (the rich and influential — and also estate agents, of course!) are now trying to contradict the housing market. They are saying that, because rich people are now fearful of buying the sort of house they normally buy in London, there is now a logjam at the upper end and that this is trickling down and affecting the smooth running of the whole housing market, particularly for young buyers.

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Don’t laugh too loudly at Homeopathy

Keith Hudson

The EU Commissioners are ‘mandating’ farmers to use herbal homeopathic methods for treating sick animals. We can reliably say that, because homeopathy requires diluting ‘remedies’ a million or a billion times, it simply does not work. Homeopathy is one of early Victorian medical treatments which parallels blood-letting and the application of leeches — in short, quite as worthless as most treatments of Medieval times (although many Medieval herbal treatments . . . Continue reading

“A watched pot never boils”

Keith Hudson

“A watched pot never boils”. Such is one of those self-improving aphorisms appearing in the Poor Richard Almanack of 1739, one of the products of the Western Enlightenment — a warm glow of new thinking and innovations wafting through northern Europe. In this country where the 200 aristocrats who owned most of agricultural England took the Grand Tour of Europe to soak up the culture and the learning of the past. They built libraries in their countryside mansions and . . . . Continue reading

Sex and the Church

Keith Hudson

Diarmaid McCulloch’s programme last night on BBC was a double triumph. Firstly, it was an hour-long presentation which presented the facts and told a story as documentaries used to do on television 30 or 40 years ago, and not one of those travesties we have today which  repeat every fact many times to cater to viewers with 10-second attention spans. McCulloch told us . . . Continue reading

Allister Heath is being naive

Keith Hudson

Allister Heath is being naive in today’s Daily Telegraph where the headline of his article is “UK’s jobs boom would not survive a Left-wing war on business”. Does he truly think for one minute that the Labour Party, if it gets into power in General Election on 7 May is going to compromise the (weak) recovery that’s going on now?

And besides, what is this “jobs boom”? Additional high-skill jobs . . . Continue reading

Thumbs down for driverless cars

Keith Hudson

There’s a lot of hoo-ha going on at present about driverless cars. It’s one of Google’s BIG IDEAS in the last year or two (compared with the Big Ideas or merely big ideas that Google is given to). Google Glasses was one of their BIG IDEAS which didn’t somehow come off. Both are comparable with Microsoft’s BIG IDEA of some 20 years ago — the Computerised Home in which everything . . . Continue reading

The flood into a confused Europe will intensify

Keith Hudson

The EU has fluffed it.  The meeting of 27 Foreign Ministers two days ago solved exactly nothing.  Yes, they’re going to help Italy in patrolling the Mediterranean and save lives by plucking migrants off floundering rubber dinghies. No, they’re not going to closely patrol the coastlines of North Africa and Syria to prevent the boats setting out in the first place.  Everybody on-shore would then realise that the EU really means business and word would diffuse back into the source countries.

Instead, the problem will be sent to the United Nations for a decision.  And would the Security Councul approve the only possible sensible solution?  It’s doubtful.  But whether it will be a Yes or a No, how long will the decision take?  The procrastination will only intensify the migration.  The EU, already flummoxed by its financial problems will be more confused than ever.

Designer babies are almost upon us

Keith HudsonGreat controversy has already erupted on the news that that a live human embryo has been ‘genetkically engineered’ for the first time in the world.  Junjiu Huang, at  Sun Yat-Sen University in Guangzhou, is already being talked about as a Nobel prizewinner.  Note that the 86 embryos in his team’s experiment could not have developed into babies.  They had been derived from a fertility clinic where there are always a proportion of eggs that have been accidently fertilized by two sperm . . . Continue reading

This is the biggest problem of today

Keith Hudson

If we are honest we have to confess that each one of us, at our core, are totally selfish.  The crucial thought-experiment is this: Let us say you were in a situation of extreme danger with one other person randomly selected from the total population of the world. Only one of would could escape and only you can take the decision.  What would you decide?  The answer is obvious.   In short, we are selfish because, like all living forms, life is about surviving.

But, like our all instincts, we have counter-balancing . . . Continue reading

Will Saudi Arabia crack first?

Keith Hudson

There can be little doubt that the present low oil and gas prices are due to the conspiracy by OPEC (the cartel of many, but not all, oil- producing countries) to increase their production. OPEC, particularly Saudi Arabia, are in fear of the brand new American fracking wells from which “tight oil” and gas are being gained from very deep shale rock at prices that were much lower than prices of a year ago. Ten months ago, the conventional OPEC producers have artificially undercut Continue reading

The ambiguity of flash-trading

Keith Hudson

Should Mr Navinder Singh Sario, a UK trader in stock market shares, be extradited to America for causing the “flash crash” on the New York Stock Market on 6 May 2010 which wiped off $500 billion of value temporarily? Although he is still innocent so far, the evidence — from what we learn in the press — certainly suggests that the London Metropolitan Police had good cause to arrest him yesterday on behalf of the FBI. Apparently, he traded on the S&P Index . . . Continue reading

Demented gymn fitness fanatics

Keith Hudson

Those hundreds of thousands of obese individuals who do work-outs at gymns every week (or even every day) in the hope of losing significant amounts of flab ought to have realized early on that exercise is not the best way of keeping trim. To lose a respectable amount of bulging body fat, these gymn fanatics ought to be spending all day at it. It has been clear for some time what biologists and dieticians have been telling us: carbohyrdayes — and sugar particularly — is what adds the excess weight. The editorial in the current British Journal of Sports Medicine . . . Continue reading

The craziness of unlimited Free Trade

Keith Hudson

The powerful migration into Europe is fast becoming both a human tragedy and a political farce. As I suggested a few days ago, European Union Foreign Ministers (meeting today) are now being forced to consider patrolling the coastline of northern Africa in order to prevent boatloads of migrants setting out in the first place. The phrase “limited military action” is also now being seriously suggested!

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A new growth industry

Keith Hudson

It was heart-warming this morning to learn of a 15 year-old boy, Daniel Wheeler, who has been cured of a deadly genetic disease. He had a rare blood condition called Wiskott-Aldrich Syndrome. He had been in and out of hospital for years with severe eczema, asthma and an inadequate immune system.

His older brother had already died from the disease and, with little doubt, Daniel would have died sooner rather than later. . . Continue reading

Not in women’s nature

Keith Hudson

When Dean of Harvard, Lawrence Summers made some comments about male-female differences some ten years ago and was hounded so much by ‘politically correct’ staff that he had to resign. He had surmised that, because women didn’t appear so often as men in tenured positions in the science and engineering faculties, then this might have been due to women not having the same aptitude. In the ten years since then there has been a significant rise in the number of younger women . . . Continue reading

There were gentlemen in those days

Keith Hudson

Only recently is Alfred Russel Wallace appearing in the biology text books along with Charles Darwin as the co-discoverer of the Theory of Evolution. Or, rather, of the fundamentally important principle of the selection of the ablest in each generation. Both he and Darwin had arrived at the theory after many years of work and thought. Darwin had been examing dead specimens in his study in Kent and Wallace collecting museum specimens of plants, birds and insects in the rain forests of Indonesia. . . .  Continue reading