Archive for the 'Economics' Category



Teacakes: the new jaffa cakes?

If anybody was in any doubt as to the importance of the ‘is a teacake/jaffa cake a cake of a biscuit discussion’… it’s about £3.5m, according to the European Court of Justice, after UK customs incorrectly classified the teacake as a biscuit and put VAT on it.

Of course, the taxman could have just sorted this out by seeing if a teacake gave a satisfactory dunking experience, which it clearly doesn’t.

Speaking of which, I need another cuppa.

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ISPs surprised to find people use internet to download stuff

Internet Service Providers have suddenly woken up to the fact that it’s not just BitTorrent users etc who want to download stuff from the internet. Now that established brands, most noticeably the BBC and their iPlayer, are offering free, legal downloads, the ISPs have suddenly realised they haven’t quite got the infrastructure and, well, that clearly has to be somebody else’s fault – namely media companies for supplying all these downloads and, as such, the BBC should pay for it.

Come again? This is a bit like a small venue putting on a one-off gig from, say, The Smiths, then getting surprised when thousands of extra fans come along, then trying to charge the band and their management for the cost of roping in extra staff to do the security and work the bar.

David North has an excellent analysis:

“I can’t see the ISP’s case here at all essentially they have fallen behind the new technology appearing – some of which has been around sometime. Certainly the move to video isn’t much of surprise so why haven’t they tried to keep up?

By trying to trying to pass the buck onto content providers means these companies aren’t going to be so willing to innovate new technologies because of the costs that might be passed on which could effectively clip the UK’s ability to keep on the cutting edge.”

And, as he points out, it’s not just the BBC who provide this service, and many more companies will join the field.

If you’re not willing to invest in the extra technology, then somebody else will and your ISP will get left behind because it’s slow, inefficient and doesn’t give the customer what he or she wants, and no amount of whining to the government and stomping your feet like a Big Baby will change this.

So, I finally cracked

And did the inevitable – a piece on Exeter City and the past and present debt problems over at Soccerlens.

In my defence, it was late, I’d had a busy weekend, was knackered after the drive back from Weymouth and lacking inspiration.

Typically, I’ve now thought of another couple of subjects to write on.

Still, if Exeter City or football finances are your bag, go and have a read.

Brave, Rafael, very brave

Rafael Behr has a quick look at the issuessurrounding the Max Gogarty entertainment roadshow. Unsurprisingly, many points he makes are missed by the many of the commenters. Which is a shame, as there are some good ones in there, not least tackling the myth that the web is some benign, happy community.

Sadly, many people think that just sticking something up online is enough to show they’re engaging (whatever that is) with the web community (whatever that is as well). Ok, not everybody has a good understanding of web usage (and nor would you expect them to), but if you’re looking to use the web for something in a big way, you better know like hell what you’re getting yourself into, and that internet stuff has a tendency to take on a life of its own. [I’m being deliberately vague here].

I like Rafael’s summing up on his personal blog:

“There is nothing intrinsically democratic about networks. The web is not civil society. It is something else. Not sure what.”

And that’s one of the joys of the net.

It sits nicely alongside Tim Worstall’s comment on his piece:

“”The network itself is amoral.”

Exactly: as are markets. Indeed, the network is a market, one of opinion.”

And my genuinely, hand-on-heart-send-me-to-Thailand-with-a-gap-year-student-if-I’m-lying last word on Max Gogarty, to tie this poorly made argument together.

I have no problem with Max writing badly on a topic that has been done a million times before on a blog on the internet. I just get a bit miffed when a national newspaper thinks it would a) make a good column, and b) pay him for it. There’s a lot of good opinion out there, both in newspapers and in blogs. There’s also a vast pile of rubbish in both as well. And for both, those that get their audience right and can string a pretty decent sentence together do alright, and those that are truly bad either get pulled up, or no hits.

I’m still hoping Max resumes blogging somewhere. It’d be interesting to see what, if anything, he’s learnt from his rather bruising experience, and if it makes his writing any better.

UPDATE: This genuinely is the last word, I promise. I didn’t buy the Observer yesterday, so missed the article about poor old Max in what I’m assuming was the main paper.

Firstly given where Max is heading to, isn’t the choice of phrase from his dad about a “tsunami of hate” somewhat, erm, unfortunate?

Secondly, why is this even a news article? Yes, I’d be surprised if Emily Bell and A N Other (Rafael in this case) hadn’t blogged about it, but that article didn’t do anybody any favours. Somebody, somewhere doesn’t understand that the majority of the ire seemed to quickly move from Max onto the Guardian itself and the travel editor who commissioned the piece.

Yes, some of the comments directed at Max was unnecessarily vitriolic, but the same could be said for a good proportion of comments that wind-up on Comment is Free every day. But there were a lot that were funny, and almost all made the same point: the article wasn’t very good. And that point seems to have been lost in the resulting melee. 

UPDATE 2: Sorry. I’m a liar. But Tim Ireland is quite good on this.

TCKNAGAN Update

Just an update to the Ebbsfleet post from a couple of days ago…. there’s a load I’d like to say on this but haven’t quite had time. Thankfully 200 per cent has had more time on his hands than me and has read through the relevant documents for MyFc. This was his conclusion:

“what I might have described as my “mild concerns” over the long term well-being of this club have now escalated to what I can only describe as “alarm”.”

I’ve also asked a couple of questions on fans boards to what I assume has been one of the MyFC hierarchy, who also posted a comment on 200 per cent’s original post. The responses, which I’ll try and go into in the next couple days, raise as many questions as answers.

Chris Dillow and Tim Worstall have also given their opinions, which I hoped they would. Chris gives an excellent, reasoned argument as to why he’s skeptical, while Tim also makes a very good point:

“This is one of the joys of liberal capitalism. That people can go off and make these experiments and then report back on whether they do work or not.”

I hope, for Ebbsfleet’s sake that it does work. I still suspect that, in the long-term, it won’t.


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Yes, this is my name. And my email. Use it wisely or you're not getting a biscuit with your tea: garyllewellynandrews [at] gmail [dot] com
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