Noted in passing –
- I doubt I shall watch the reincarnation of BBC’s “Top Gear” as often as I did the Clarkson/May/ Hammond version. Not only because of the dumbing down represented by having Chris Evans as the main presenter but also because, I suspect, he will have difficulty to add value. Now with Joey from Friends (Matt LeBlanc) joining Evans, it increases the dumbing down and reduces the likelihood for value addition even further. In the BBC TV show “Bake Off”, the two giggly presenters add no value at all and are an embarrassment, but the substance for the show is provided by the two judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood. With Evans and LeBlanc, I don’t see where the substance can come from.
- So the UN has come out in favour of Assange. Of course this is not binding on either the UK or Sweden but the moral high ground goes to Assange. The UK has a point that as long as the Swedish arrest warrant remains in force they have no choice but to implement it. The whole case is driven by a feminist prosecutor in Sweden on very flimsy statements (with little or no evidence) from the self-proclaimed victims, long after the alleged offences took place. That was after the public prosecutors office had first decided to drop the case for lack of any evidence beyond the statements of the alleged victims. But in Sweden it is politically incorrect to drop a “feminist cause”. This leads to a bit of a dilemma for the Swedish media and the establishment in that UN statements are also very politically correct. The clash between the prosecutor’s feminist correctness and the correctness of solidarity with all UN statements should be interesting to observe.
- Saudi Arabia is said to be ready to put troops into Syria (in support of Turkish troops?), but don’t expect them to support any Kurdish groups or to act against any ISIS factions fighting the Kurds. The Russians are not amused. Meanwhile the Syrian regime is preparing to retake Aleppo.
- Markets have gone well below the the bottom I was expecting (oil price $30 and Shanghai Composite at 3100 or less), but my guess is that we are not far from the bottom. P/E ratios – especially for those companies who are maintaining their earnings, now look positively attractive.
- The French are accepting reality and the power of the internet. They are officially proposing to revise the spelling of some 2400 words: “They include the deletion in some words of the hyphens and the circumflex. The accent disappears from above the letter i and u in certain words and not from the letter o”.
- There is no evidence that organic foods are any better for health than non-organic foods. I find the whole fad about “ecological food” rather ridiculous and just a marketing gimmick to charge higher prices. I usually say nothing when somebody tries to promote “ecological food” but I am usually thinking “why do you insist on displaying your gullibility?”
- It is a leap year and the 2016 Indian budget will be presented on February 29th. Lots of advice from every one but I think the budget assumes greater importance in the current depressed state of the global economy. One of the few potential bright spots which could help change the global mood would be an expansionist budget – but that does not come without risk of galloping inflation being unleashed. I think the choice is for either subordinating all actions to global fears or to try and lead the way out of the morass. My fear is that it will be a sad wishy-washy thing which tries to satisfy all and ends up doing nothing.