Another day, another billionaire Twitter storm

Billionaire Lloyd Blankfein joked as he announced his 2018 retirement as Goldman Sachs CEO that he looked forward to “unrestrained tweeting” in the years ahead. But the Twitter life apparently bored the billionaire, and his twitter account went silent for three months — until last week when Senator Bernie Sanders won the New Hampshire primary. …

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688,000 people will no longer receive food stamps

Over the summer the U.S government announced a new plan to end the food stamp program for thousands of low-income people, mostly immigrants.The new rule will tighten work requirements for able-bodied adults with no dependents, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a call with reporters. Under current law, able-bodied adults without dependents can receive …

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Recycling waste

Newsletter note from a neighbor who moved to the US from China: “Hi neighbors, I know lots of you have heard of the recycling crisis in the US since China’s ban on importing foreign garbage in 2017. There are many articles about this issue, such as this one from the guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2019/jun/21/us-plastic-recycling-landfills. It says: “As …

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Young adults need a home of their own

“Home ownership is in steep decline, but don’t let it bother you, declared The Economist recently: the British need to get over their property “fetish”. I beg to disagree, says Liam Halligan. The fact that well over half of 25- to 34-year-olds today are locked out of the property market should concern us deeply. Only …

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Complaining about service (part 1)

Although most of us gripe about service headaches to family and friends we seldom—studies show it’s as few as one out of four—complain to the company that dropped the ball. And many consumers who do complain to businesses do so ineffectively. A lot of consumers remain silent because it seems like too much trouble to …

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Monopolies again, and why they are un-Epicurean

Contrary to impressions outside the US America is a very expensive country. Mobile phones, for instance cost on average $100 a month, twice the cost of a similar service in France and Germany.  Healthcare costs are huge. I recently spent ten minutes with a foot doctor for correcting an in-growing toenail, billed at $473.00   Pharmaceuticals …

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Boeing again: crashes and lousy management

Boeing timeline: 29 October 2018: A 737 Max 8 operated by Lion Air crashes after leaving Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board 31 January 2019: Boeing reports an order of 5,011 Max planes from 79 customers 10 March 2019: A 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashes, killing all 157 people on board …

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Fired Boeing head gets $62 million

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing boss fired last month, will receive equity and pension benefits worth $62m.  This was the head of a company whose staff have quietly told the Press that management are incompetent and interested mainly in maintaining profits and share price.  346 Passengers are dead because the company sold planes whose electronics were faulty, …

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Monitoring tweets

”If you thought “the thought police” existed only in Orwellian fiction, then you haven’t been following a case in the U.K High Court.  Douglas Murray Miller, a former constable, had posted a few ribald tweets on the subject of transgender self-identification. (Sample: “I was assigned mammal at birth, but my orientation is fish. Don’t mis-species me”.) …

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The Robert Harris prediction

  We may think we’ll be here forever – but Robert Harris reckons our civilisation is probably doomed. “The Roman Republic, Cicero, those people were just as clever,” says the novelist, 62. “The things that their society produced – its oratory, its philosophy, its painting – were as sophisticated as anything we do. But still …

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Apostrophes and how to use them

John Richards, who is 96 and founded the Apostrophe Protection Society in 2001, is now terminating the Society.  He is quoted as saying, “Fewer organisations and  individuals are now caring about the correct use of the apostrophe in the English language”.  So I thought a brief run- down on the rules would be a good …

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The Good Husband Guide for 2020

Care of the Husband’s Person On 8 April 2010 the London Review of Books reviewed a 14th Century Parisian book of household management called The Good Wife’s Guide: A Medieval Household Book.   This is a compendium of medieval lore which aimed to instruct young wives how to be good, efficient, and obedient.  The following is …

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How we should treat others – a seasonal exhortation

I suggest that anyone who is reasonably self-aware and seeking to follow in the footsteps of Epicurus should ask whether they have the following personal characteristics which I think are important for humanity.  We might think of them as areas to work on for the New Year where instinct tells them they are a bit …

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Linguistic misunderstandings

When they hear the phrase “With the greatest respect…”, 68% of Britons think it means “I think you are an idiot”, while 49% of Americans interpret it as “I am listening to you”. When told “I’ll bear it in mind”, 55% of Britons assume it means “I’ve forgotten it already”, whereas only 38% of Americans …

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A home is not a wallet: homelessness in the UK

“Most of the ills relating to our housing start with the morally reprehensible idea that it’s OK in a time of shortage to treat dwellings as mere investments. Yet when the Labour Party in Britain reasonably suggests holiday homes should pay double council tax, affluent owners whimper. Any suggestion of stiffer capital gains gets pearls …

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