Brexit, the UK Constitution and politics - do not confuse the rules with the game

The recent judgement of the High Court in R (Miller) vSecretary of State for Exiting the European Union [2016] EWHC 2768 (3 November 2016, Admin) seems clear enough. The issue is one of law. Is there, as a matter of law, power in the executive to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union?   The consequences of this decision fall into the political domain. But the decision itself is not political. It is not about what is the right thing to do, it is about who has the power to that thing. The conclusion of the judges, after hearing full argument, is that there is no power in the Executive (which draws its power from the Crown) to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union .  So, the Executive/ Crown cannot change the rights of UK citizens without the consent of Parliament. A deep and very important cornerstone of UK civil liberties.  The judges are right to guard it even in the face of miscomprehending public hysteria whipped up by cynical and misl

Weep for the children

In an appalling attack Boko Haram appears to have attacked using a remotely detonated bomb strapped to a 9 year old girl who was reported not to fully realise what was going on. The press are struggling for the correct language. No, it is not 'suicide bomber', nor is it 'girl bomber'. The correct term is 'girl bomb'. The memory of a child should not be tainted by the malevolent motives or amoral code of those who murdered her. see:

Very long term property investment and inflation

The  Herengracht Index  was a very long study (1628 - 1973) of house prices of a particular property development in Amsterdam where the buildings have persistently remained of constant high quality over time.  The study compared: a real terms price index linked to the use value of the property; with the nominal value of the property (i.e. cash value).  The study demonstrated that in the very long run house prices generally rise with inflation. There are market cycles but this is the very long term trend. Data points: 1628 - 1973 - biennial logarithmic price changes in the Herengracht index Nominal index: mean 1.83 standard deviation 17.65 Real index: mean: 0.45 standard deviation 18.50 Note the wide standard deviations reflecting price volatility. Another key observation is that there was a jump in nominal price in the face of an essentially flat real index after the Second World War. This jump arose (and continues) because the reserve currency of

Great YouTube online lecture series on physics (Mechanics)

Classical Physics - Susskind Classical physics: Balakrishnan Quantum Mechanics - Susskind Quantum mechanics - Balakrishnan

Unisex premiums for driving insurance? EU crazy?

The recent judgement of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) dealing with the problem of sex discrimination as it related to actuarial risk calculations in insurance contracts (1) was a Belgian case where the ECJ had to interpret Article 5 of Directive 2004/113 (2). The Dire ctive itself emanated from the Council of the European Union. Article 5 states that: "1. Member States shall ensure that in all new contracts concluded after 21 December 2007 at the latest, the use of sex as a factor in the calculation of premiums and benefits for the purposes of insurance and related financial services shall not result in differences in individuals’ premiums and benefits." but then goes on to say that: "2. Notwithstanding paragraph 1, Member States may decide before 21 December 2007 to permit proportionate differences in individuals' premiums and benefits where the use of sex is a determining factor in the assessment of risk based on relevant and accurate actuarial

Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité et Justice

"Days of Glory" is movie that is presently on general release on DVD. It highlights the actions of the French Government in relation to the colonial soldiers who fought and died fighting for France during the Second World War. It was originally released in 2006 as "Les Indigenes". An interesting BBC website article observes, albeit somewhat wryly, how the French Government modified its policy to these soldiers in reaction to the film. Just another reason for the French to feel proud about the war. We await with anticipation the movie exploring the actions of the British Government in relation to the Gurkhas.

NICE, politics and puppetry

There has been a call for NICE to see cancer drugs differently from other treatments. Has NICE really got it's sums wrong? The payor and the beneficiary have been separated by the existence of a political promise that the NHS will deliver treatment to the patient free at the point of delivery. Assume a treatment that carries proven clinical benefit. From the perspective of a patient a treatment is free when they do not need to pay for themselves directly. But almost any such free treatment, however small the potential net benefit, which gives a potential for an increased chance of survival almost inevitably carries utility. Cost free utility carries value and is the driver for infinite demand. NICE is the politicians tool to address the demand side of the supply-demand imbalance for healthcare within the NHS. NICE answers the question whether the drugs are value for money from the perspective of a fee-payer with a finite resource who is seeking to discharge a duty to deliver care.