Monday, 31 August 2009

Blog stat pron - August

Good afternoon and welcome to my regular first day of the month blog traffic stats review. According to google analytics, for August, this blog got:-
908 Absolute Unique Visitors
1,944 Pageviews
Compared to July's
1,136 Absolute Unique Visitors
2,344 Pageviews
Statcounter reckons I have 1,499 Unique Visitors, and an average of 62 pageloads per day, down 10 from last month, sadness prevails once more, the target for September will be a somewhat unfounded and optimistic 80 ppd.
Looking at how traffic has increased of the past eighteen months or so, we can see that I've kind of reached a plateau, which I find reassuring, but not very useful.

Here are the metrics of of my RSS feeds on various feed readers:
21 subscribers - GoogleReader (up 6 from last month)
4 subscribers - Bloglines (same as last month)
6 followers - Blogger (up 3 from last month)
These are my top referers for June (not including google wanderers)
1. Twitter - 121 visitors
2. EUReferendum - 71 visitors
3. Facebook - 60 visitors
4. UK Bubble - 38 visitors
5. Mark Wadsworth - 22 visitors
6. Counting Cats - 12 visitors
7. Longrider - 7 visitors
8. Charlotte Gore - 6 visitors
9. YouPorn - 6 visitors
10. Daniel 1979 - 5 visitors
Lets take a brief moment to consider which were the most viewed posts during July.
1. What Have I gotten myself into - the TFTA scam (71 views)
2. Indietracks videos (63 views)
3. Facebook ChainRxn graphs and hints (61 views)
4. Origami flapping bird animation (38 views)
5. Facebook IQ test gubbins (37 views)
6. London Bloggers Meetup sponsored by Starbucks VIA (36 views)
7. Morning Blogulation 11-Aug-2009 (26 views)
8. Veolia flytipping in Camden (26 views)
9. Animation with windows movie maker (25 views)
10. Facebook Scramble graphs (23 views)
Thats it for August's blog stat pron. If there's any other metrics you want to know about this blog, let me know in the comments.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Saviours of the British economy

A piece on the BBC about how the economy hasn't shrunk by quite as much
The rate of contraction of the UK economy in the three months from April to June has been reduced by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

Gross domestic product (GDP) has been revised to a fall of 0.7% from 0.8% compared with the previous quarter.

The year on year decline has been revised to 5.5% from 5.6%.
The article has some rather fancy-pants graphs of GDP showing that what we're suffering from right now is worse than what we suffered in early nineties. Anyhoo, I'm not concerned by it, I'm concerned with the line that says...
The ONS said the revision was due to better-than-expected output from the manufacturing, energy, wholesaling and motor vehicle sectors.
What did that better than expected output look like on the job front? Well, here's a graph sprung forth from my google docs spreadsheet of job vacancies

So we can see that from April to June, the manufacturing and motoring sectors did grow, as you'd expect in a busy sector. Manufacturing seems to have declined a bit in July though, and motoring has just kind of leveled out in August.

I only started tracking jobs in the energy sectory in August, so its not too helpful, just showing a decline. Admittedly just checking jobs listed on one website isn't the most authoritative means of collecting numbers, but its better than nowt, and the April-May-June growth is validated.

Job vacancies update - Endispiece

Hi there, my name's Chris, author of ground-breaking attack blog 'illandancient'. Since the middle of February this year, I've been building up a spreadsheet of the number of jobs listed on various websites in the UK, namely:-
  • (since 16-Feb-2009)
  • Job Centre Plus (since 20-Mar-2009)
  • Guardian Jobs (since 12-Jun-2009)
  • Gumtree (since 8-Aug-2009)
On I've been tracking the number of jobs for each 'sector' and on Gumtree the number of jobs in each region.

This information I've been using to compile graphs and extrapolate figures for the UK which I've been publishing on this website every week or so.

It was an interesting distraction from actually looking for a job. Luckily, I've now found a job and so I'm not going to have so much time for messing about with graphs and spreadsheets.

All the data I've accumulated is now up on this google docs page

With it anyone should be able to conduct their own analysis for whatever ends you have. And able to create such thrilling graphs as this one.

For more authorative information on the number of job vacancies in the UK, I recommend the Office of National Statistics Vacancy Survey here, its updated monthly.

I'll be updating the google docs spreadsheet occasionally, and will still churn out graphs as and when something catches my interest.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Morning blogulation - Wed 26-Aug-09

Eeep, in a hurry this morning, so moving swiftly one, here's some interesting post on t'internet...

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

You and me baby ain't nothin but mammals

Via Boing Boing, I like this

Morning blogulation - Mon 25-Aug-09

Eee, I've started eating again, a huge bowl of cheap and cheerful fruit oaty stuff from Tesco. There was some blog I was reading yesterday about how with the British welfare system isn't not really possible to starve and die, there'a always benefits you can claim. But, well, in my case they just keep knocking back my claims. I currently have no income and the JSA, Benefits Agency and Housing Benefit think I'm not entitled to anything. Still the internet's here for me... Here are some posts I've been readingt his morning...

Monday, 24 August 2009

Job vacancies update - 24-Aug-2009

Good day and welcome to your regular amateur analysis of the UK's job vacancies scene from ground-breaking attack blog illandancient.
Total vacancies in the UK
Down 5.8% from last month
Down 9.4% from last quarter
Here's a graph showing how many job vacancies are listed on, the Job Centre Plus, The Guardian's Jobs pages, GumTree's London pages and all of Gumtree's regions added together. I've ripped up the y-axis a wee bit so they all fit, and you can see how much each has changed in relation to each other.

After doing these blogposts for however many months its been, I believe that GumTree is the most reliable site showing the state of the job market. Its the biggest, its compiled by the users, and its pretty cheap so how much money has been ploughed into the site doesn't make much difference. Compared to Job Centre Plus who's acquired 9,000 extra staff or Guardian and Reed who I guess get paid vast amounts of money from the companies who's jobs they pimp.

So GumTree shows signs of growth. Not in London mind, but for the rest of the country the number of jobs listed has increased by around 5% in a fortnight. It will be interesting to see whether it sufferes from the same monthly cycle as the Job Centre Plus does.

So what I do with these figures is I average up the daily change across each site and then modify whatever the Office of National Statistics reckons is the number of vacancies for each quarter. Its pretty accurate, I'm within 1% of what they publish.

So here's a graph showing how the number of job vacancies have changed since February.
If that graph is too prickly for you, here's one with just monthly averages.

It looks like August down a lot for job vacancies.

Not for me mind, in the past fortnight I've had two interviews for real jobs (rather than scams), one of them I cocked up by being late and not the best candidate, and the other interview went fine. I'm going to be working in a factory making sandwiches, pies and soup for minimum wage.

I think sandwich making comes under the sector of Fast Moving Consumer Goods, FMCG on Reed. Its one of the fastest growing sectors for jobs. Maybe in the great scheme of things it means that the UK is becoming a more cost-effective manufacturer than China, or that people are now more willing to take up lower paid jobs to hand make consumer stuff than they were last year.

Anyhoo, here's some graphs showing how the number of vacancies listed on has changed for the top couple of sectors and for the worst performing sectors, as percentages of their average. So its not so much showing which are the biggestsectors, just which ones are growing quickest.

Its a bit of a mixed bag I guess.

Thats it for this thrilling job vacancies update. I'm going to be busy working from now on so I can't promise much in the way of updates. I'll try to take snapshots every month to get a feel for how things are changing.

Take care space cadets, and good luck.

Morning blogulation - Mon 24-Aug-09

Bah, and bah again, damned the postal service. My ma mailed me fifty quid in Sainsburys vouchers, she does worry about her poor skint son, and after three weeks they haven't arrived. Other post seems to get here fine, but not sorely need funds for food. I've been living off potatos and rice since Thursday, but do the postal service care? Here are some internet links to keep you entertained.
Actually, I don't think the coca-cola thing is appreicated enough in the West, they brough the internet and modern farming to developing nations and the eastern bloc, along with McDonalds they're strong leaders in enlarging the Amazon-sphere (that part of the world where you can order stuff on Amazon and it arrives as and when expected), they provide consistency and quality, filtering away any corrupt authorities, and making the world a better place for it.

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Does shisha kill?

This is interesting, from the BBC news site:-
Smoking a shisha pipe is as bad for people as smoking tobacco, the Department of Health and the Centre for Tobacco Control Research has found.

People who smoke shisha, or herbal tobacco, can suffer from high carbon monoxide levels, its research revealed.

It found one session of smoking shisha resulted in carbon monoxide levels at least four to five times higher than the amount produced by a cigarette.

High levels of carbon monoxide can lead to brain damage and unconsciousness.
When I was wandering through Regents Park today I saw a woman parked up with a pram and a shisha pipe thing having a sook, and I wondered how come there's no great clampdown on such things as there is for smoking.

So, here scientists have shown that you get high carbon monoxide levels, but thats not quite the same as cigarettes. Cigarettes give some people lung cancer and some people die of it. A greater proportion of people who smoke cigarettes die of lung cancer than people who don't smoke cigarettes, so great a proportion that cigarette smoking gets banned, pubs close, society collapses.

But that's very different to this shisha thing, no one's saying that smoking shisha causes a death. That's not what the news story says. The news story says quite specifically that shisha just increases carbon monoxide levels.
"If my mum sees me smoking shisha, she isn't going to take it as seriously as if I was smoking cigarettes," said a British Pakistani man.

It was this misconception - and finding dangerous levels of carbon monoxide in a pregnant woman who had stopped smoking tobacco, but continued to smoke shisha - which prompted the research.

"We found one session of smoking shisha - that's 10 milligrams for 30 minutes - gave carbon monoxide levels that were at the lowest four and five times as high as having a cigarette," said Dr Wareing.

Has anyone ever died from shisha smoking? Has it ever been found to be the cause of death?

I doubt it.

I calculate therefore I am

I am no longer unemployed, my new job starts at the end of next week. I am no longer living off the state, my benefits were mysteriously cut six weeks ago.

I am in limbo.

My attractive young ladyfriend is far away. I am left to my own devices, so I calculate.

I don't know when I'll next have money coming in, weeks at least. So my existance until then is on expending as little money as possible, but still staying sane.

Sure, I could stay home, spend all day watching tv, surfing the net, blogging. Eating just the 5kg bag of rice, wisely acquired last year, the dried pasta left over by generations of departed flatmates, my potatos still have another crop in them and the onion could be ready soon.

If I minimise the energy I use, could I live on 500 calories a day?

I am at a gig, it was free to get in. MJ Hibbett's Dinosaur Planet, returning to London after a victorious run at the Edinburgh Fringe. To save on transport costs, I walked here. Five miles I guess. Five hundred calories, more than I consumed for breakfast.

So to the supermarket I must go, carefully comparing the price and calories of sandwiches.
  • 362 calories for £1 with egg and cress
  • 384 calories for £1 with cream cheese and ham
  • 562 calories for £2 with the brunch triple pack
Cream cheese and ham wins, I shuffle to the self-service tills to pay by credit card, saving the £3.50 in coins in my pocket for buying drinks at the gig.

How come a half pint of cola with no alcohol duty costs the same as a pint of beer? And half of it is ice too. Its a culturally accepted rip off.

Sure, it makes sense so that a non-alcohol round costs the same as an alcohol one and these places are owned by breweries so making soft drinks more competitive would just put more places out of business.

I spent just over £100 on a pre-owned XBox 360, this you already know. Two months ago the same would have cost £120. God knows how GAME justify it, Cliff the store manager juggled the special offers to make it so, selling me the £129 golf package and buying back the free game.

Anyhoo, it went on the credit card, money I don't have. Spending it quick before it runs out. It makes no sense. Am I subconsciously banking on hyper-inflation to render my debts worthless? Probably.

I'm still trying to resolve it. To place a value on my leisure time.
  • Cinema for 2 hours cost £8 = £4/hr
  • £Gig for 3 hours cost £6 = £2/hr
  • Dinner for 2 hours cost £24 = £12/hr
  • XBox for 100+ hours cost £100 = £<1/hr
  • Playing ukulele for 40+ hours cost £20 = £<0.50/hr
  • Jogging for 1 hour cost £1 = £1/hr (one cream cheese and ham sandwich)
It doesn't create money, but it justifies it.

So once I start work and the money begins to roll in, the minimum wage not quite covering costs, having the XBox will slow the flow rate.

There are other possibilities. If I somehow can make extra money from the leisure activites, become a professional gig/cinema reviewer, do such things exist? Get paid to play ukulele?

No, I'm damned, all I can hope for is hyper-inflation.

Project Google Street view Racing v0.1

When I got my XBox 360, the cheapest game in the shop was Project Gotham Racing 3. I love the PGR series cos it allows you to drive round real life cities.

Back in the old days of working for Linn Products, we used an original XBox and PGR2 for testing digital surround sound. I loved it cos I'd been to many of the cities in the game, Edinburgh, Stockholm and Hong Kong, it was so cool to play, hurtling round these cities without fear of speed cameras.

Anyhoo, PGR3 has a London track. I've been comparing it to Google Street:-

Taking fifty or so screengrabs from google, animating them and tracking them onto a video of the game.

I'm going to head out into real life with my camera taped on top of my car and get some real life footage to flesh out the video a wee bit. It might take a bit of time though.

The video could do with more engine noises and some better camera angles. So this one's just a proof of concept, aye.

Morning blogulation - Sun 23-Aug-2009

I spent hours last night playing PGR3 on my new XBox 360, I love it so dearly, but still thatnagging suspicion that since I couldn't afford it, I shouldn't have bought it, so now I'm trying to justify it by quantifying my leisure time. The XBox cost £100, I've played it for 8 hours so far, £12 per hour. By the end of the week it'll be kind of justified. Anyhoo, right now, I'm scanning the internet...

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Reviewing gigs

I do enjoy going to concerts, Songkick reckons I've got over five hundred under my belt. But for reviewing them and getting it done properly there's so much effort involved. I can't just let it go, so here's a list of what I do:-
  • Go to gig
  • Take photies of gig on old IXUS 50 digital camera
  • Take photies of gig on Blackberry
  • Tap out a review on Blackberry and email to blogger
  • Go home
  • Log on to blogger and check for typos, add tags and links to bands websites
  • Upload camera photies to flickr
  • Pimp photies on Twitter
  • Crop and adjust photies in photoshop to make them cool
  • Add photies to review
  • Log the gig in Songkick
  • Add photies in Songkick
  • Add reviews in Songkick
  • Pimp the reviews on Twitter
It takes hours and hours.

And why do I do it? Well, cos no one else is going to. Aye, in the great scheme of things it doesn't matter, but for the bands and the music scene, I reckon this sort of thing is vital. I increase the number of poeple at the concerts by at least one, I increase the number of reviews of the band on the internet by one, the number of photies, the opportunities and the chance of other people hear about the band, and hear the music.

Its not exactly a thankless task, I get no money for it, but bands are broadly grateful and occasionally buy me a drink, occasionally they leave comments on the blog and the traffic increases by a few hits.

Sometimes I think I'm wasting my time, but then, I do it for love.

If only there was some way I could be paid for this sort of thing.

Morning blogulation - Sat 22-Aug-2009

I'm starting to feel a little guilty about buying an XBox 360 yesterday, I didn't save up for it, it wasn't a gift, it was just bought on my credit card, with money I don't have, that I'll never be able to pay off, but having said that, playing Project Gotham Racing completes me, it fulfills an ambition I've had for the last five years, it satisfies. But getting an XBox this way isn't a valid accumulation of wealth, it breaks the system, it makes no sense. I am damned. Here are some pages from the internet...

Friday, 21 August 2009

Done gone and done it

The waiting is over, after months and months of dreams and despair, and patience, the end has been reached.

I now have a job. I start next week. With my dozen GCSEs and vintage A-levels, with my fading degree and successful career in the high tech sector, I now have a minimum wage job in a sandwich factory.

The salary is less than half what I was on in my previous job.

I dunno, maybe if I do the sums I'll be taking home more than if I just stay jobhunting living on benefits, most likely I'll be taking home the same money. I have a sneaky suspicion that my disposable income will be lower, I will be making a net loss. Every month that I work, I shall become poorer, less wealthy than if I was not working.

Any ambitions I had, dreams of what I wanted to do slipping further and further out of reach.

And for this reason, I finally took the plunge and bought myself an X-Box 360 and one game.

Technology and inflation has moved on and it's become cheaper than ever. And compared to how much in debt I am already and how much the bank charges me for going over my overdraft limit because the JSA/HB cocked up and cut off my benefits for a few weeks, there's abolutely no reason to put off buying one for a moment longer.

Oh, how I've dreamed of slipping in the Project Gotham Racing 4 disc, watching it spin into life and finally taking up the controller and racing round London. Months? Years? Who knows?

But now its within my grasp, all I must do is wait patiently a few hours more until my flatmate has vacated the living room and I can finally plug in.

The wait is over.

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Orthorexia - no, me neither

Whilst looking for a piece about the recent doubling of wheat exports from the UK, I stumbled upon this article in The Telegraph about the rise of Orthorexia
The condition, which affects equal numbers of men and women, is described as a "fixation on righteous eating".

Experts says sufferers with the obsession for healthy eating tend to be aged over 30, and were middle-class and well-educated.

"I am definitely seeing significantly more orthorexics than just a few years ago," said Ursula Philpot, chair of the British Dietetic Association's mental health group.

Deanne Jade, founder of the National Centre for Eating Disorders, added: “There is a fine line between people who think they are taking care of themselves by manipulating their diet and those who have orthorexia.
Well, it was always a wee niggly thing at the back of my mind that some people take healthy eating a little too seriously. And apparently that's the very nature of the problem.
“I see people around me who have no idea they have this disorder. I see it in my practice and I see it among my friends and colleagues."

The condition, named by a Californian doctor, Steven Bratman, in 1997, involves rigid eating eating which includes not touching sugar, salt, caffeine, alcohol, wheat, gluten, yeast, soya, corn and dairy foods.
The problem is that people aren't aware of a condition that was only named twelve years ago? Perhaps its not really a medical condition, just part of the human condition, some people are fussy eaters and some people aren't. I can see this blowing up into a huge campaign that the government have to 'do' something about.
The obsession can lead to some sufferers ending up malnourished, lead to pressures in personal relationships and make them become socially isolated.
Should any professionals actually be giving a shit about this?

By professional, I means someone who gets paid for what other people do for free. This is clearly a case for friends and family to take sufferers out for a decent kebab, and not a case for a new medical condition to be classified and campaigned about.

Morning blogulation - Fri 21-Aug-09

I've been at Centreparcs for the past few day the neice, bless 'er, she loves swimming so much, and I'm absolutely knackered, I got home yesterday afternoon and have slept for about 18 hours, anyhoo, here's the internet, well, the only pages worth reading...
Right, I've had it up to here with almost every libertarian blog I read humping each other backwards about Iain 'bloody' Dale's Top 20 UK Libertarian blogs, so from this day onwards I'm cancelling my RSS subs to those twenty, never again shall they feature in my morning blogulation.

Monday, 17 August 2009

On A-Levels and exam results

Some think tank reckons that A-Levels are becoming 'Mickey Mouse' qualifications.Maybe they are are, maybe they aren't but the yearly improvement in results is something to be concerned about.

I see yesterday Usain Bolt set a new world reckon for the 100m sprint, 9.58 seconds, and in the past hundred years mankind has taken a whole second off the time for that distance.

Within the species, some people are getting faster, stronger, taller, more long lived and smarter.

But that's very different to the average improving, and at the other end of the spectrum people are slow, weak, short, dead and stupid.

Not many people can run as fast as Usain Bolt, and his existance doesn't actually prove that people on average can run faster now than ever before.

I reckon kids today are on average as smart as they were when I was at school, and when my father was at school and a hundred years ago. Maybe the smartest are smarter and maybe the dullest child no gets more support and educating than he did a hundred years ago, but that doesn't mean that the average has shifted.

Can exam grade not be just a representation of the decile? So that every year the top 10% of students in any subject gets an A, the next decile 80% to 90% gets a B and so on until the last 20% in any subject just get a fail. It would be more honest, and more representative.

It would be easier to compare two candidates for a job, it would be easier to validate the ease of exams from year to year.

It would give better direction to those who create exam papers so that from year to year if there's any bunching within the great spread of results, then the papers get harder, to seperate the wheat from the chaff, rather than easier to increase the number of passes.

Why can't life be made more honest like this? What's wrong with the world?

As a post-script, I'm wondering why the womenkind seems to have stopped making progress on the 100m sprint time, it was more than twenty years ago that the time was last improved. Since 1988 female athletes have been slowing down by 0.1s every ten years.

Sunday, 16 August 2009

Morning blogulation - Mon 17-Aug-09

Its too warm, and I feel like I'm losing my way, my sense of purpose, here, take a look at some other blogs...

Little bits

This one time when I was pretending to be an artist, my definition of art was vaguely something that makes the viewer see things in the way the artist wants them to. I thought it was quite neat.

So the other week, when I saw MJ Hibbett's Dinosaur Planet, there was this song about how scientists all add just a little bit to mankind progress rather than great huge bits that get on the news, when I heard him play it, I instantly thought of this blog post about sliced bread that I'd read months before.

Here's a video that's recently appeared on YouTube of the song "A Little Bit" from Dinosaur Planet recorded at the Edinburgh Fringe

And here's the relevant bits of the blogpost on Cafe Hayek
In fact, think of human material prosperity as being like water contained in a gargantuan swimming pool. The higher the “water” level, the greater is our prosperity. Call it the “prosperity level” in the prosperity pool.

How is this pool filled? Mostly, small drop by small drop. Countless people line the edge of the pool, each dripping in a drop or two of additional “water” – additional prosperity – from time to time. Very few single drops have any noticeable effect on the prosperity level. Had water noodles never been invented and produced, no one would have noticed. Ditto for almost everything else that comes available on the
market – new shades of paint color for homes; improved quality of stereo speakers; improved food-freezing techniques; slightly longer-lasting light bulbs; a new fusion cuisine; a more-efficient machine for weaving fabric; improved corkage for wine. The list is practically endless.

A very few drops are large – say, the polio vaccine, and Henry Ford’s innovation for producing automobiles. But almost all drops are tiny. These tiny drops, though, together result in an enormously high level of material prosperity.

Friday, 14 August 2009

Morning blogulation - Fri 14-Aug-09

Dear lord, my desktop puter takes so so long to boot up, luckily I splashed out the last of my redundancy pay months ago on a wee Acer netbook thing, and after having month of problems with it, I installed Ubuntu, and that springs into life in mere seconds. So whilst the big beast is booting I get to explored the blogosphere elsewhere...

Thursday, 13 August 2009

Job vacancies update - 13-Aug-2009

Good day and welcome to your regular amateur analysis of the UK's job vacancies scene from ground-breaking attack blog illandancient.
Total vacancies in the UK
Down 2.36% from last week
Down 4.17% from last month
Down 11.68% from last quarter
Here's a graph showing how many job vacancies are listed on and the Job Centre Plus. I'm using a rolling seven day average to smooth out weekends where no new jobs are posted.

and here's a graph showing the number of jobs listed on The Guardian's Jobs pages and GumTree's London pages.

We can clearly see that all the agencies are showing steady declines except for the Job Centre Plus. Why oh why? Well, it comes down to money, whilst Gumtree, Guardian Jobs and Reed are out in the real world, struggling through the recession, trying their hardest to round up and advertise job vacancies as best the can to stay in business, Job Centre Plus is getting extra funding from the government, they have increasing time and resources to find jobs to list, 9,000 new staff recruited. Its not so much a sign from the Job Centre Plus that there are an increasing number of jobs out there in the UK, just that they are getting better at listing them.

Its still kind of odd also that the Job Centre Plus has a dip at the start of every month and the other agencies don't.

Having said that, the number of jobs listed at Gumtree London, isn't very representative of the whole of the UK. Whilst London jobs are declining, over the same period jobs in the Midlands have been increasing. I'm going to have to start tracking the total number of jobs listed on Gumtree across the UK, adding up all the regional numbers. It currently stands at around 165,000 jobs, up from 163,000 a week ago.

The other day the ONS announced the latest unemployment figures and in amongst the coverage on the BBC was the stats that in the three months to March the government reckons there were 464,000 vacancies and in the three months to June there were only 429,000. So if I feed those numbers into my great spreadsheet, I can churn out this wonderful graph.

So basing my graph on the average daily changes in each job agency gives me an error of less than 1%. Its nice to be validated like that.

If that graph is too prickly for you, here's one with just monthly averages.

It looks like August is a bit crap for job vacancies. Maybe the government are right, and giving the Job Centre more money and resources is a good way to help in the recession, but its not actually creating more jobs, the only thing which will do that is slackening the pressure on employers, to make it easier for them to employ people.
  • Lower the minimum wage - I'm unemployed and willing to work for less money
  • Cut employer National Insurance Contributions - its a ponzi-scheme anyway the sums will never add up
  • Slacken planning permission rules - it should unlock the construction industry just a wee bit
  • Revoke IR35 - it penalises contractors and small companies
Another thing to consider is that as the number of unemployed people grows and the number of vacancies shrinks, there's more competition for jobs. The level of competition as increased by 50% since January, see:-

So now selecting a suitable candidate from the heap of CVs is just a bit more time consuming for HR departments even if an employer is taking on more staff. That graph's just assuming people only apply for one job. In real life I hear anecdotes about McDonalds getting 10,000 applicants for 100 positions or Toys R Us getting 3,000 applicants for 40 positions. How on earth are HR supposed to deal with an order o magnitude more CVs on the pile? Its not even a wealth creating role in the company, but its drawing in ever more resources.

Moving on, lets look at some pretty barcharts showing the decline of vacancies in some sectors during the recession.

For people who tell me to become a teacher, yeah, we're crying out for teachers...

But not crying out for teachers as much as six months ago.

Engineers, yeah, the UK needs more engineering graduates...

Again, not quite as desperate for them as we were six months ago, likewise for any kind of graduate job...

'Shitting dead rats' would be an apt description of the graduate job scene. Not so bad if you're in accountancy mind...

Still, 50% fewer jobs than in February.

Anyhoo, me, I've got an another interview this afternoon, for a minimum wage job in a food factory. I have 13 GCSEs, 4 A-Levels, a degree in Manufacturing, a long career in high-tech electronics, really computer literate and an IQ of 140.

Must try harder.

Morning blogulation - Thu 13-Aug-09

I awake hungry, switch on the old 'puter, since my benefits were unexpectedly cut the other week, I've been economising on food, for breakfast I eat two fortnight out of date eggs, scrambled, I pick up my ukulele and play a couple of old Plimptons songs, remembering past times, richer times, I load up Firefox and venture back into old Bloggington.
  • Coffeehouse reckon's Mandelson's 500,000 jobs saved figure is full of shit
  • Open Europe reckon's the Generation Yes campaign in Ireland is full of shit
  • EU Referendum reports on the Bovine TB epidemic and how it has now passed to humans
  • Junkfood Science reckons those who peddle the unhealthiness of being fat are full of shit
  • Longrider covers the government misallocating funds
  • The BBC reports on France and Germany coming out of the Recession
  • The Adam Smith Institute suggests scrapping the minimum wage to deal with unemployment - nice idea, but there's no way parliament would do it
  • Ambush Predator has noticed that councils aren't cutting jobs in the recession

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Morning blogulation - Wed 12-Aug-09

I drive home, switch on my computer, marvel at the weather, brush my teeth, wait for my ancient computer to finish booting, absently consider the options for acquiring a new computer, and then finally set forth on my daily mission through the blogoscape.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Flat tax and the Chevy Volt

Over on Liberal Conspiracy Tim Worstall is duking it out with the progressives in the comments, pimping the idea of a Flat Tax system.

Rather than having several tax rates depending on income, there's just one flat tax rate, and a sizable untaxed allowance.

Some of the lefties are saying its not a progressive tax, and Tim's defending that it is. I guess the problem is that its not progressive enough to satisfy. Its that untaxed allowance that makes it so great and progressive - the poor pay less.

Here's a graph showing the rate of tax for various income levels under three different tax regimes (the current tax system, a flat tax of 30% with an allowance £12,000 and my own flat tax plan 45% tax rate with an allowance equal to the median income of £25,000)

I reckon there are merits to having a really high allowance and a really steep rate, it kind of encourages the folk who decide pay levels to pay the underlings more, rather than raising their own salaries, that thought at the back of the mind that if the underlings get the money, then the government will get less money through tax than if the more highly paid people got the money. But that's just my philosophy. The underlings will undoubtly spend the money rather than save it and eventually it ends up in the treasury's coffures.

For future governments, if they find they need more or less money, they have the two options of changing the tax rate, which will lead to rich people leaving the country or coming here depending on the change, or they can change the allowance which will lead to more or less middle class people voting for them depending on the new allowance.

There's a problem in conveying the merits of each tax scheme in a single number, if you say the latter flat tax rate is 45% then the middle classes shudder, but if you say its 20% then the lefties moan that it doesn't tax the rich enough. And if you have a system with lots of different different tax bands and tax reliefs and all that then its horrendously expensive to implement, this is what we have at the moment.

Elsewhere on the internet the Chevy Volt is trending because the American EPA are giving it a 230 miles per gallon rating, the first vehicle to achieve a triple digit mpg.

My first thought was "hang on, the Chevy Volt is an electric vehicle, it doesn't use gallons of any fluid fuel". My mistake, its a hybrid, it's electric batteries give it a range of 40 miles before the gasoline engine kicks in. The gasoline engine gives it efficiency of about 50mpg.

This is the same graph as the flat tax, the initial all-electric range is the tax free allowance, and after that the gasoline engine mpg is the taxable income, and its nothing special. I get 60mpg in my Smart car, sometimes 70mpg if I'm on the motorway.

This 230mpg figure comes from including the electric only range, if you drive 55 miles, only the last 15 miles uses gas, and thats where 230mpg comes from. If the drives does 300 miles fuel efficiency is only 62mpg.

So aye, I reckon claiming 230 miles per gallon is misleading, and pretty dishonest.

That sort of thing is just going to lead to car companies developing greater battery capacity to increase the electric-only range, when in the great scheme of things, improving fuel efficiency would mean making the electric motor more efficient. They ought to be pimping some measure of miles per watt hour for the electric drive chain and also the miles per gallon for the gasoline engine, rather than pimping just the single misleading number.

Another thing to consider is when the future finally arrives and we're all driving electric cars, how will the state charge fuel duty on electricity?

Morning blogulation - Tue 11-Aug-09

Good morning dearest blog readers, and how are you? Any exciting plans for the day? What's doings? Me, I'm setting forth on the internet trying to read every single blogpost that matters. Join me.

Monday, 10 August 2009

Veolia fly-tipping in Camden

I read a well interesting piece on Schneier the other day, it changed the way I think about risks, security and rules
...yet another conference presenter complaining about security awareness training. He was talking about the difficulty of getting employees at his company to actually follow his security policies: encrypting data on memory sticks, not sharing passwords, not logging in from untrusted wireless networks. "We have to make people understand the risks," he said.

It seems to me that his co-workers understand the risks better than he does. They know what the real risks are at work, and that they all revolve around not getting the job done. Those risks are real and tangible, and employees feel them all the time. The risks of not following security procedures are much less real. Maybe the employee will get caught, but probably not. And even if he does get caught, the penalties aren't serious.

Anyhoo, last night we made elderberry and blackberry tart, here's a photie. It was yummy, even more so as we'd picked the berries ourselves bushes along the wee alley at the bottom of my road, by the West Hampstead Thameslink tracks, here on google maps.

I was somewhat surprised this afternoon to find that all the bushes and trees had been trimmed and cut back. This is kind of a good thing, its nice to think that our council tax goes to pay for tidying up overgrown alleys. Crikey, the number of times I've had to duck to get by overhanging branches, and then been terrified by suspended spiders.

The other week I went along to a meeting of the Camden Federation of Tenants and Residents Associations, they were quite annoyed that the council caretaking services had been out-sourced as part of a cost saving exercise. I'm all for cost-saving myself, it sounds like a good idea, but this particular cost saving saved about £19,000 at the same time as the council recruited a couple of new assistant directors on £100,000+ salaries. And also, when the private company the outsourcing went to was conducting a pilot scheme to check their standards, they were found to be crap, so the council changed the specification to allow them to get the contract. It all seems a little dodgy to me.

Veolia are the mob who got the contract to provide a lower standard of cleaning services to council tenants.

On my way to the bank today I saw three different Veolia chaps pushing their trolleys around the street, sweeping just a little. I saw them in Maidenhead last week, and furthermore, I saw them down the far end of the Thameslink alley last week, starting to cut back the overhanging bushes.

Here's a rather relevant photie of the alley, and what's that sign attached to the lamppost? Lets take a closer look.

Hmm, now I wouldn't dream of doing anything that could land me a £20,000 fine. I'm thousands of pounds in debt already. But I guess if you're a big company with a caretaking contract, and you have the choice of carrying all the cut bits of bush and tree down the alley to a van you've hired, and then taking it to some kind of proper composty waste dump, or you could just sling it over a fence and no one will find out, you weigh up the risks and take whichever option seems most cost-effective.

So, of course all the cutting have been slung over the fence next to the railway lines, heaps and heaps of it, every last bit. Absolutely none has been taken away to be properly disposed of.

This isn't quite the cost-saving I expect from the council. I expect cost-savings without breaking any laws, that's just my natural 'rule of law' inate philosophy of life. Maybe Veolia don't have the same philosophy, therefore they need the risk of being prosecuted for fly-tipping to be more of a real risk, to cost them money, and not just a cost they can pass on to the council.

It doesn't even make sense, according to the Veolia website they have several composting sites for disposal of green garden waste, yet instead of taking it there, they just chucked it over the fence. That's just laziness, thats not what we paid for, that's taking the piss. Veolia are full of shit.

Veolia fly-tipping in West Hampstead

Veolia fly-tipping in West Hampstead

Back when I was doing volunteering on Hampstead Heath for Heath Hands, we used to make dead-wood fences out of cutoff bits of trees and bushes, the rangers told us where to lay, but this is not a dead wood fence, this is clearly fly-tipping, chucking stuff over the fence cos they can't be bothered taking it to a van for composting.

Veolia fly-tipping in West Hampstead

Here's the bit on the Network Rail webpage about how they work with British Transport Police to find and prosecute fly-tippers.

Wouldn't it be cool if they got fined £20,000 for fly-tipping.

Migration of job cuts to the public sector

This here piece on The Register reckons that things are starting to level out for the private sector in terms of job cuts, but for the public sector the future's not so rosy.
The quarterly survey covered 900 employers in all sectors of the economy found some signs of recovery compared to last quarter. The difference between organisations expecting to hire more people and those expecting to cut headcount is -10 per cent this quarter, compared to -19 per cent last quarter. For private firms the situation is even better - the negative balance is -2 per cent versus -30 per cent in the spring.

But in the public sector this figure has slumped from -3 per cent to -28 per cent.
Me, being unemployed and having plenty of time on my hands, I like validating such things, so I had a look at my job vacancies spreadsheet to see if the public sector is cutting the number of job vacancies it has listed.

So aye, the number of vacancies are down from their peak two months ago, but for the Public Sector and Social Care categories on, the number's still way above the level they were at in April when the budget was announced.

In the great scheme of things, the number of vacancies is pretty level barely fluctuating by 10% over the past six months. In other categories, Graduate jobs have fallen by 70%, Management jobs by 40% and Manufacturing jobs up 30% over six months.

Morning blogulation - Mon 10-Aug-09

I wake up, switch on my puter, realise its been days and days since I went online, feel a little sad, but then realise that I have been quite drunk recently, and also I still have half a raspberry pie in the fridge, eat said pie, wait for puter to finish booting, crack open Firefox and leap out onto the unsuspecting blogiverse...

Friday, 7 August 2009

Morning blogulation - Fri 7-Aug-09

I awake with something of a hangover, yesterday's interviw more promising that these things usually are, my eyes open slowly and I fumble for a cup of Starbuck's Via instant coffee, its like the taste of Starbucks at home. Outside the weather is overcast and I've got 'things' to do today, but before any of that I must lather up and slide my way into the bloggobrane.
  • Londonist reports of more strike action coming soon
  • Burning Our Money has tales of banking and government conspiracies
  • Capitalists@Work on the coincidence of quantative easing and government debt outrun
  • UK Housing Bubble has the dangers of quantative easing
  • Coffeehouse on how this recession is longer, deeper and slower than the previous three
  • EU Referendum covers defence procurement and The Gray Report
  • Constantly Furious notices the BBC reporting the complete opposite of everyone else
  • Raedwald nicks the Economist's graphs on the UK's energy supply problems
  • Open Europe looks at the costs of the energy supply issue
  • Ambush Predator quotes some entertaining frothing at the mouth feminists

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Job vacancies update - 06-Aug-2009

Your regular amateur analysis of the UK's job vacancies scene from ground-breaking attack blog illandancient.
Total vacancies in the UK
Down 5.48% from last week
Down 0.92% from last month
Up 2.69% from last quarter
Here's a graph showing how many job vacancies are listed on and the Job Centre Plus. I'm using a rolling seven day average to smooth out weekends where no new jobs are posted.

The Job centre is doing its usual thing of having a dip at the start of the month, but otherwise its a marked incline throughout each month since the budget was announced in April, as opposed to Reed which has been declining at a remarkably consistent rate since the summer jobs blip in the middle of May. Here's a graph showing the number of jobs listed on The Guardian's Jobs pages and GumTree's London pages.

They're both showing declines, its too early to say whether GumTree is just having a month end doldrum and as its just a regional thing I haven't used the numbers there for calculating the bigger UK job vacancies figure...

Based on Gordon Brown saying there was 500,000 job vacancies in PMQs back in February, we can look at how the number of vacancies on the job sites have varied and we extrapolate it up to a total figure of monthly averages for vacancies in the UK.

If that graph is too prickly for you, here's one with just monthly averages.

No much change on the overall picture since April then. If any government wants to reduce unemployment, they're going to have to do something very different to whatever they're doing now.

I'm willing to give the government the benefit of the doubt right now what they say that they've created X hundred thousand new jobs, maybe if they hadn't done the lines on the graphs would be declining more steeply than they currently are, its complicated to prove otherwise. Unless of course you look at how the number of vacancies change in each sector, and compare to how the government's 'job creation' has targeted them.

Now bear in mind that the following barcharts are purely based on jobs listed on, which has had declining overall jobs rather than Job Centre Plus with its increasing numbers of listed jobs:-Looking good, that car scrappage thing has kind of helped here.

Kind of okay, just some decline over the past fortnight, could it be to do with the strength of the pund against the dollar, but otherwise a growing sector for jobs.

What's happened to charity jobs over the past fortnight? Is it to do with the government pimping the voluntary charity work over paid charity work?

Finally the banking sector...

Seems to be in rude health, good for them.

Me, I've got an interview this afternoon, so fingers crossed.

Morning blogulation - Thu 6-Aug-09

I wake up, wonder what the beer monkey has done to me this time, climb out of bed, crawl to switch on my puter, sleep some more, wake up once more, grab a nice cup of Starbucks Via instant coffee, its like the taste of Starbucks in your own home, wait for my puter to finish booting, somehow focus on the screen, and set forth into the blogosphere....
Also, there appears to be a new Labour Party website

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

London Blogger Meetup - Coffee

The London Bloggers Meetup group, an elite band of diverse London-based bloggers brought together by the the internet.

This month the event was sponsored by Starbucks Via "The taste of starbucks at home", they were giving away sachets of their new instant coffee, I managed to grab ten. There's two different flavours, 'Colombia' and 'Italian Roast', so far today I've only had the Colombia flavour, and its all right. I'll try to do a blind taste test on my attractive young ladyfriend next time I have her in my grasp.

The meetup was at The Crown on New Oxford Street, Starbucks had provided a free bar, which was very kind of them, also they had supplemented the usual blogger population with lots of smiling marketing people asking what we though of the Starbucks Via and videoing our drunken ramblings. I rambled drunkenly, but I doubt it was up to my previous talking-head drunken rambling.

There was also a talk by a gentleman from The Londonist.
Londonist is a website about London and everything that happens in it. That means news, reviews and events; the history and future of London. We celebrate the quirks, eccentricities, hidden and surprising bits that make up the alternative side of the city.

Upbeat and eclectic, Londonist is created by an incredibly talented and diverse team of contributors who share a passion for the city with our readers. We're a bunch of London obsessives who live the city and share our best discoveries.
If I was somehow roped into writing for The Londonist, I would be interviewing my favourite London-based indiepop acts, such as Pocketbooks, MJ Hibbett and The Gresham Flyers, but its been over a decade since I last wrote compelling band interviews.

There was a third speaker, a gentleman from Platform A, talking about the use of affliate links for bloggers as an alternative to just using google adsense. Advertising money on the internet is getting spread more thinly so folk are going to have to adapt their monetisation.

Anyhoo, linkiture... blogging folk who I chatted to:-
Blogging folk who I made brief eyecontact with and possible some hint of recollection from somewhere or something:-
Blogging folk who were there but I neither spoke to nor made eye-contact with:-
  • Krista
  • Kim
  • Rob from The Wine Conversation
  • The blonde one from bananarama
Hmm, I'm sure there were other folk too, like people who people were talking to, brief introductions drowned out by background noise.

On the way home I saw the wee cat that me and my attractive young lady friend usually temprarily adopt, but the wee soul ran away and actually hid from me.


Morning blogulation - Wed 5-Aug-09

I wake up, wonder if I'm still drunk, switch on the puter, get a phonecall about a real life job interview, do cartwheels, make myself a cup of Starbuck Via cofee, a new way to make a great cup of coffee, marvel at the sunshine, wait for the puter to finish booting, take a deep breath and only then set forth into the bloglight zone.

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Morning blogulation - Tue 4-Aug-09 featuring webcomic roundup sub-paragraph

I wake up, switch on the puter, phone the benefits agency about my JSA, get told to fill in JSA3 for income-based support, have a shower, wait for the puter to finish booting, wonder if having 500,000 bots is what's slowing everything down, pick my nose and then, as usual, stagger unsteadily into the depths of The Blogobrane.
Webcomic Roundup sub-paragraph

Monday, 3 August 2009

Pay Rises?

This gentleman here, is Andrew Walker, his salary recently rose a band of £115,000 - £120,000 to £125,000 - £130,000. He's been in charge of the fees office at the House of Commons since 1977, thirty two years.

Now, in the light of the MPs expenses scandal earlier this year, would you say he deserves a pay rise? And furthermore, in the light of the current recession and belt-tightening and need to cut government spending, would you say he ough to have a pay rise?

Jesus wept, where do these people think the money comes from?

When I was young, I recall saving up for months and months to purchase a Sega Megadrive. I saved up for it, my own pocket money and doing chores like mowing lawns and washing cars, and once I had accumulated enough money, I bought it.

I didn't take out a loan, I didn't 'bring forward future spending'. I was twelve years old and I was more fiscally responsible than the current government.

Unless of course, this whole recession thing is a hoax, unemployment is at a low and tax receipts have never been higher. Somewhere along the line the powers that be forgot to tell us its a joke and actually they have money spewing forth from every orifice.

And this blurry cam shot is Dr Malcolm Jack, Clerk to the House, the BBC tells us:-
His salary rose from a pay band of £170,000 - £175,000 to £190,000 - £195,000. He also received an increase in benefits in kind from £20,000 to £25,000.
How the blazes? What kind of justification, how? I'm almost speechless.

Roof Jumpers

I was driving home from the supermarket in Sudbury yesterday and spotted these chaps being filmed jumping off the roof of Sudbury Primary School.

They had a large inflatable jumpy landy cushiony bag thing and a couple of professional camera set up. There were two guys in army fatigues, a chap in white shirt and stuff, and a chap with long dark hair and black clothes. If it wasn't broad daylight I'd say that last chap was a vampire.

I dunno, could be new series of Torchwood, but its a longway from Cardiff, same for Doctor Who. Maybe a movie, but there were only a couple of people there, rather than the great mob you usually see in movie making.

Exciting stuff though.