Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Black and white

Nothing to do with Paul McCartney and his piano, but the observation much of what I write is seen in terms of black and white rather than shades of grey. To me this is a left field accusation, as if I'm talking about what I know well enough to write about it, I either know it sufficiently or not, so shades of grey only conveys one thing, uncertainty or vagueness.

Now I read and hear these style of arguments in the written and spoken media every day, and to counter my position will use James Delingpole's 'Dogshit in yogurt' scenario. Rather than do your best to keep dogshit and yogurt separate, those using shades of grey will interminably (as there is and can never be a right answer when black and white have been removed) discuss how much dogshit should be in yogurt, with camps of 'as much as you like', 'as little as possible' etc, but the end result actually being identical, ie dogshit in your yogurt. Black.

So extend that to knowns and possibly knowns, what in the list is black and white or not?

The Mafia
Britain being in the EU
Climate change/global warming
Taxing the rich more than others

etc etc.

I did not decide to specialise in any particular subject or area besides my actual job as a therapist, all other academic pursuits were imposed on me by the demand to pass a degree after three A levels. Between them all I learnt slightly more than most as I changed subjects for a year each time, thus including a year of A level science and degree level accounting on top of law and humanities.

The eventual outcome of 'individual pursuit', ie leaving college at 31 and finally being free to learn unrestricted by exam requirements, and the result was I learnt to decipher the difference (and level of) between shades of grey (uncertainty or personal opinion) and black and white (eg cancer is not a matter of degree, ie how much cancer do you want in your body?' is not a valid question.

This means I put every single item through the monochrome machine and it comes out the other end with a shade and reason for it. That was almost entirely through my legal training and years of application as a teacher, and will add here that in teaching you only use shades of grey to moderate students' essays, and not what you teach. 'It may be a good thing to punish thieves' was and never will be part of a legal lesson, although I do recall seeing a few in the media trying to argue it.

Examples are listed here, and each topic I can assign a number from 0-10 as to greys or black and white, based on the available evidence.

Wind turbines- Rating 10: My evidence is easily available, absolutely impossible to misread or measure badly, so given the opportunity and patience you can do a simple budgetary account of their output v input costs, and it is around break-even to negative, based on average wind speeds and durations and fixed and variable costs. The bottom line is they perform no function whatsoever. How can you have grey when they waste resources 100%?

Quantitative Easing: This has a few reasons, known by those who carry it out (governments) otherwise why would they do it? These are:

1) Keep interest rates low:

These (using basic accounting methods) benefit some people at the expense of others. Low interest rates guarantee twice as many individuals lose than gain, as the savings on mortgages are half the losses on savings. But the government and banks borrow at these levels so save money themselves.

2) Keep the currency low

I won't go into pages here, but devaluing your currency makes savings worth less than they were, and shifts cash into commodities, as they have innate value, like gold, food and oil.


3) Causes inflation: Governments know this, but don't mind as inflation reduces debt by a similar amount, the government are in debt, so it means the amount they owe is worth less than it was without adding a single thing to the GDP. That is fiddling with numbers, and in the real world referred to as 'False Accounting', and is illegal. It is also currency and market manipulation, which in the real world is referred to as 'Serious Fraud'.

Rating 9 (as some people do benefit).

EU membership:

There are solid knowns, as the profit and loss account (we lose, trust me), and then opinion pieces, such as 'Who do we want making our laws, our elected politicians or foreigners with no means of regulating through democracy?

Rating 8 (as some involves political choice, which can never be black or white).

Cancer I'll let you rate this one.

Mafia Membership- Rating 9 (as it benefits the small minority in the mafia at everyone else's expense)

Gay Marriage 0 on its existence, as how can anyone else have an opinion what other people do which only affects them, and marriage is only a cultural artifice with no physical basis in reality, but 9 as far as whether the word 'marriage' is used to nominate it, as marriage is a union between a man and a woman once you choose to accept it as part of your own culture.

I hope these give enough examples to demonstrate the Howard patent pending topic rating system. Therefore if a topic has a rating above 8 or so it becomes a 'known', and anyone then arguing as if it's a 3 or 4 can fuck off  be sure they haven't really thought it through or done their homework as the only ways you can treat a fact as an opinion is when you don't know enough to pass the exam.

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