Daily catch-up: old London, America not so unequal after all, and the schrödinbug

Plus the SNP heading for disaster, and biblical interest rates

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1. “Behold a view of the magnificent St Pancras railway station in London as it looked whilst under construction c1867.” Sir William Davenant.

2. Regulars will know that I take an interest in inequality and in particular in trying to point out that the pervasive myth that the gap between rich and poor in Britain is widening dramatically and has been for some time is untrue.

One of the common confusions is with America, where inequality has increased continuously since around 1980. Even there, care is needed. An article in The New York Times two days ago pointed out that inequality in the US has not risen since the financial crisis. (Thanks to esteemed former colleague Matt Hoffman for drawing it to my attention.)

Since 2007, the rich have become poorer, proportionally more than the poor. They have made up some of that fall since, but are still behind. So, although the US is a very unequal society, and became more so between 1980 and 2007, there has been a blip.

The UK became more unequal in the 1980s (income) and 1990s (wealth), but the ratios between rich and poor have been broadly unchanged since then, and we, too, have seen an equalising blip after 2007.

3. A couple of seasonal jokes. First we had Moose Allain (see more below) complaining that he couldn’t use his electric pancake maker because the battery was flat. Then we had Chris Heaton-Harris’s announcement:

“Have given spell-checker up for Lint.”

This prompted Damian Counsell (‏@PootBlog) to note the bonus joke level: The generic name for software checking for suspicious language use is “lint”.

In fact, Wikipedia entries about software bugs are endlessly absorbing. I love the definition of a schrödinbug here: “A bug that manifests itself after a programmer notices that the code should never have worked in the first place.”

4. Meanwhile, the Scottish National Party has slumped to a 17-point lead over Labour. At this rate the SNP will struggle to win 50 seats out of the 59 in Scotland. Almost every serious commentator looks at these polls and says that Labour under Jim Murphy will pull something back at the election. I merely ask why, with the SNP now averaging nearly 2,000 mostly new, energised members in every constituency, it shouldn’t win more than 50 seats.

5. Thanks to Ed Conway for this important graph:

“In case you doubted interest rates had ever been lower than today, here’s a chart going all the way back to 3000BC.”




6. And finally, thanks to Moose Allain for this:

“Sad to hear that the creator of the world’s longest lasting candle has finally snuffed it.”