vrijdag, februari 20, 2009

Adelard of Bath

Allegedly, the first English scientist. Here, a little time line of his life beginning around 1080. Although he travelled quite alot, when he returned eventually back home, he turned his eye to his countrymen to discover

...that its chief men are violent, its magistrates wine-lovers, its judges mercenary, its patrons fickle, private men sycophants, those who make promises deceitful, friends full of jealousy, and almost all men self-seekers`

Times never change, do they?

The cause of this brief spasm of research was the book review of The House of Wisdom

Speaking of which, All Arabic numbers we use today are ideograms created by Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Musa al-Khwarizmi (c.778 - c.850).
Al-Khwarizmi was born in Central Asia, where today is placed the Uzbekistan, and then he moved to Baghdad, where he worked as a mathematician during the first golden age of Islamic Science, at the "House of Wisdom".


In more current times, it appears the Britain's national debt will now (if it hasn't already) realistically leap-frog to 150% of national income. Of course it all depends on whose calculator you're using but nonetheless, one keeps getting tiny peaks into the window of this nearly unfathomable financial disaster which, owed to bank bailouts, house market crash and general global economic meltdown appears to be growing daily.

Martin Wolf at FT considers the UK Monetary Policy:

The resulting analysis risks missing the underlying processes at work and so risks being, in the words of John Maynard Keynes, precisely wrong rather than roughly right.

I would stress one lesson of the past and one challenge for the future.

The lesson of the past is that inflation targeting failed. This does not mean that it is impossible to target inflation successfully. The evidence is that it has worked, so far. But stabilising inflation has not, in practice, stabilised the economy. On the contrary, success with inflation helped destabilise inflation itself, as we now see, by boosting a credit explosion, foolish risk-taking and ultimately a financial meltdown.

Within its two-year policy horizon, the monetary policy committee had to ignore the risks of such long-term feedback effects, via credit, money and asset prices. They were unsustainable processes. But when they would break was unpredictable. Yet, in hindsight, policy should have taken them more into account. This could have been done by adjusting interest rates or by regulatory means.

This lesson of the past also relates to the challenges ahead. Again, will it be possible to manage the powerful destabilising processes we see? The economy, the public finances and indebted homebuyers have suffered large negative shocks. Deflation is the immediate fear. But one must also ask what role inflation might play in redistributing these losses in future.

This is not a true reflection of taxpayers’ likely future liabilities from banking losses, which Goldman Sachs estimates at 8 per cent of national income – or £120bn – and internal International Monetary Fund estimates, put at 13 per cent of national income – or £200bn. Together the IMF estimate and the latest forecasts for public borrowing put underlying public sector debt at about 80 per cent of national income by 2011, twice the former “sustainable investment rule”.


But it's all a happy place. If you aren't bankrupt yet and can still afford a pint, if you quaff it in your local, you're likely to have the privilege of having Big Brother Efficient Government watching you while you do.

The Met of course, pooh-pooh the idea. They explained that they did not "impose" CCTV, but merely put it forward as a "recommendation" to the relevant Licensing body. We also asked why they had mentioned a requirement for all licenseholders to make images available "on request" – which would be a serious extension of police powers.

It's a joke really, coming from the same government which appears to believe if something can't be taxed it should be banned and if it can't be surveilled it mustn't exist.

The Daily Mail has a typically rational response in its headline http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1148244/Pubs-ordered-install-Big-Brother-CCTV-cameras--risk-losing-licences.html

How do you a police a society of thieving, rabid, drunken, violent dogs? Perhaps they should let the FSA regulate them. After all, look what a brilliant job they've done regulating financial services.

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