Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Of bad use of language

Today, Emma Thomson is complaining about bad use of language. I, myself, am a big fan of original use of language and I like street innovations and changes. Language is a living thing.

But some things do annoy me. Near my work exists the Taberna del Alabardero. This grates with me every time I walk past it due to the double use of the definite article (i.e. 'the'). The "del" indicates "of the" and the "al" on the start of Alabardero is "the" in Arabic. Thus, it is called "Tavern of the the Bardero".

For some silly reason, this really annoys me. Maybe I should get a life.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Welcome to Lagos

Big HT to TI.

I am loving this series:

Friday links

Back due to an effective mix of popular demand and threats!

2/ Study shows religion makes you narrow minded. Literally - more religious = less ability to see the bigger picture and more focus to details

4/ An illustrated Marxist take on the financial collapse. Very good. One part is not true though and is essential to the story. The author decides that wages have declined in consumption. Well, that might be true because consumption has gone up due to borrowing from abroad. But wages have remained pretty steady as a share of PRODUCTION. The part of the story then that says that wages have gone down as a share of production meaning so the money had to be found to purchase all those goods made from somewhere - and that somewhere is credit cards - is not true. Rather, wages have held up, purchased all the goods, and the credit (which came from mostly China) was used to purchase more goods than were produced (partly from China). With this, the story actually breaks down... (HT: SS)

5/Narcotics checkpoints. Should you leave the motorway?

Virginia proudly executes mentally retarded woman*

*Correction: her IQ was 72 not 70, therefore she was only borderline mentally retarded. But I doubt this difference is statistically significant suggesting that there has been some violation of the 'reasonable doubt' that is applied in the legal system.

Read an eye-witness account of this barbarism in the Daily Mail, or the Reprieve version, or watch it on CNN - the story - not the execution - Virginia is not Guatemala, you know.

At least America only executes people with a MENTAL AGE of 13 - it would never stoop to such lows as executing 17 year olds as in Iran. No - this place has become far more civilised since 2005.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Of alcohol and guns

I walked past a school in Washington, DC the other day and was surprised to see signs all over the fences stating that:

Possession of alcohol is prohibited within 1000ft of the school and
Fire arms are prohibited within 500ft of the school

and that offenders WOULD be prosecuted.

This qualifies for my recently created but rapidly growing 'stupid' label.

I don't really know where to start with this one. Apart from the fact that it is utterly impossible to enforce, even if it were enforced it would result in the rather farcical situation of someone being prosecuted for carrying home a bottle of wine from their local store. It is possible that the police and courts have nothing better to do, but I doubt it. Even if they didn't, it is hard to understand how this could be seen as anything other than rather idiotic.

And how about that comparison? Alcohol can harm kids from 1000ft (about 30ometres) but guns can only do damage from 500ft (15ometres). I am sorry? What?

Of course, I am making the assumption that the point of keeping certain things away from schools is due to potential harm they could do to children - either physical, social or mental. I could be wrong. Other suggestions are welcome.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The paradox of choice

(HT: HM)

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Hypothetical question

A good reform is supported by the relevant minister. The program is carefully designed to as to minimise the chances of corruption whilst achieving all the benefits (sometimes there can be a negative correlation between level of corruption possible and the 'ideal' program).

Suddenly, the minister loses all interest in the reform and it may now not go ahead.

The implication is clear. Would it have been better to have a slightly worse program that allowed the minister (or his friends) some personal benefits in order to ensure the program goes ahead?

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Violent crimes in Lesotho appear to be on the rise...

... that is, of course, just anecdotal evidence.

There have been several recent attacks including one fatal one of a Peace Corps volunteer and another fatal one of a well-known and well-liked Mosotho who ran a bakery. The ex-pat blogs have talked about it - here, here and here.

It doesn't surprise me that crime is increasing around now - I knew over a year ago it would. The economy is starting to feel the pinch; it is getting warm (nicer for criminals to be out after dark when it is warm - but maybe not when it is raining?); and continued border troubles (entirely the fault of Lesotho Government inaction following the 'if it ain't (yet) broke, don't fix it - let it rust away instead' rule) resulting in young men with jobs in South Africa not being able to get to them - so they are unemployed, broke and with a knowledge of South African violence but hanging around Lesotho.

Myself, I'm a rather large male (even if not that prone to violence). Only crazy people, large groups, or people with guns or knives would attack me. Unfortunately, one rather disturbing fact (for me) falls from this; anyone who attacks me is either crazy, in a large group or armed.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Ministry of Finance and Development Planning cares about my health

In order to protect my health, tea bags, sugar and coffee (ground and instant) should be stored in a filing cabinet and not on a table.

The soap dispenser in the toilet has been empty for a week.

Go figure.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

How close a Lesotho bank account in under 3 hours

1. Turn up at your branch at 8.30am - the quietest time according to the Bank.
2. Tell the lady at reception that you want to pay in a cheque and close your account and be directed to some seats.
3. Wait ten mins to be called forward.
4. Be told that you need to speak to a different customer service adviser.
5. Sit back down.
6. Wait five mins to be called forward.
7. Be told that you have to queue to pay in your cheque first and then go to another branch to make an international transfer of your money or withdraw it all before coming back to close the account.
8. Queue up and deposit your cheque - make sure it is cleared (as you can do with salaries).
9. Walk to a different branch a few hundred yards away.
10. Locate the counter where international transfer are made and request this service.
11. Learn that in order to make an international you need to open a special account and a letter from your employer is required for this (as was the case when the original account was opened).
12. See that the queue in this branch is very long for withdrawing money and drive to a third branch which is newly opened to see if the queue is shorter.
13. Be told that you are not a high enough class customer to use the services at this branch.
14. One hour gone - take a toilet and drink break*.
15. Drive back to original branch and join queue to withdraw money.
16. Wait for 1 hour and 10 minutes reading your Kindle* and chatting with a man who appears to be an expert in international politics, was particularly interested in David Cameron's new baby, had heard of Southampton FC, told me kindly that it is okay not to believe in God, was curious about Northern Ireland and worried about terrorism.
17. Arrive at the front of the queue and say you want to withdraw all your money except for 1 cent.
18. Be surprised when someone else comes and gets you and takes you into their office.
19. Sit there while they fill out forms, type things on a computer and ask you to sign various forms. Give them two photocopies of your passport.
20. Get taken back to the original teller.
21. Receive your bank balance (approximately) and be told that it is all done.

Time: A record breaking 2 hours and 40 minutes.

This is a fairly standard way of having to 'feel' your way through administration in Lesotho.

*Part of the Insights into the Exciting Lives of Economists series.