Happy 25th Birthday to Mosaic Web Browser

25 years ago the first web browser was born.

Happy birthday Mosaic!


Click here to listen this report.


Brexit: a lot of energy is being expanded so that as much as possible remains the same.

On January 4th of this year, Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade tweeted that the “IMF predicts 90% of growth will come from outside the EU”.

This obsession with “growth outside the EU” is an implicit admission that disruption to current free trade with the EU may negatively impact growth in the UK. Perhaps the Secretary did read in that same IMF report that projected growth for the EU in 2019 will reach 2% while it will be only 1.5% for the UK.


Two months later, on March 2nd, the Prime Minister made this threat explicit stating that “the reality is that we all need to face up to some hard facts.”

The hard facts may be that at least some sectors of the UK economy will be hurt when even a few barriers to trade and custom restrictions will reappear. How much pain there will be is still unclear because there are no details yet on any future trade agreements.

These hard facts could become even harder than those Theresa May hinted at in her “five tests”. The entire Brexit economic gamble rests on the notion that the UK will do better economically than if it had remained a member of the EU.

There are two main hurdles to this gamble.

The first is that two of the three largest world markets, the US (number one) and China (number three) are threatening to move towards more, not less protectionism. In this context, how much leverage the UK might have when asking the US and China to allow more access to UK goods and services?

Is there much negotiating might in saying “listen we just left the second largest trading area (the EU) so we need you to hurry up and sign a deal with us”?

This is particularly acute with the US given that the UK has a trade surplus and Donald Trump is not keen on losing “trade wars”.

Secondly, it may sound surprising to some that it is possible to export to China and be a member of the EU. In fact, the EU is China’s largest trading partner. Germany and France both export more to China than the UK. The question for the trade minister is this: what kind of trade deal with China might compensate, at least partly, for any loss of trade with the EU?

The balancing act for the UK is this: “what is the minimum level of change required to officially qualify as Brexit while minimizing any negative economic impact?”

No wonder a lot of energy is being expanded so that as much as possible remains the same.


USA-UK Trade Data in Two Charts

How important is the UK to the USA as a trading partner?

Here is the data from the US Census for Septembre 2017.

For the US, the UK represents a whopping 4% of total worldwide exports and 2% all imports.

Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 19.50.13Downlod the table USA-UK Trade Data

Screen Shot 2017-11-28 at 19.54.37



College Budget Spreadsheets

Here are two spreadsheets to calculate your college expenses.

Download the excel format College Budget (.xlsx)

College Budget Spreadsheet

College Budget Spreadsheet


Where does hot chocolate come from? Some in America think it comes from brown cows. That’s according to many blogs but also a surprising number of established sources such as CNN and the Chicago Tribune.

Hard to believe but it’s probably why this news item went viral. It’s difficult to resist the temptation to spread a rumour that at once makes us (those in the know) feel superior and bemoan how clueless some of our fellow citizens might be.

So how do we know this is true?

Neither CNN nor the Chicago Tribune provide a link to the source of this information but after a few clicks I found the reference on iflscience.

Milk it for all its worth.

In case you hadn’t noticed yet, June is “National Dairy Month” in America. You might be forgiven because you probably had to contend with “Garlic day” or “Deep-Dish-Pizza Day”. As reported by NPR there are bucketful of made-up celebrations by industry groups of all stripes and pedigrees.

In addition to this crowded pasture of holidays, per capita consumption of milk plunged from 247 pounds per person in 1975 to 155 in 2015 according to USDA. (Spreadsheet).

We shall not be cowed.

One of the most effective weapons of PR is to publish surveys. In this particular case, the survey from which the 7% figure was milked is DairyGood. DairyGood itself is part of the National Dairy Council.

When asked to supply the data and methodology DairyGoods issued this answer.



Nordtrom’s $425 Fake Mud-Dirty Jeans


Nordstrom has recently made available for sale a $425 pair of jeans. Nordstrom Dirty Mud Jeans

These jeans are described as “Heavily distressed”.

Moreover, they embody the

rugged, Americana workwear that’s seen some hard-working action with a crackled, caked-on muddy coating that shows you’re not afraid to get down and dirty.

A clean looking equivalent in the same site would cost “only” $!88.

There has been outrage and scorn on twitter

On the other hand, you could argue that the outrage is misplaced and delayed. After all the more holes in a pair of jeans the more it costs.

Ripped Shredded Jeans Macy's

Fear Of Missing Out #FOMO


On a recent episode of Hidden Brain NPR host Shankar Vedantam interviewed a woman who spent a lot of time on Facebook. One of the reasons why she did so is because of #FOMO, the fear of missing out on fun or happiness other people might have.

Is there cash inside?

This morning at Victoria Station in London I saw how brands exploit this fear.

The popular Walkers Crips brand challenged travellers to find money in a given amount of time. The way it works is that a person goes inside the box and is subject to a storm of worthless paper, but among these sheets of paper there might be actual money.

Obviously most people come out without have won anything (I didn’t see any winners while I was there) but a substantial number of people were clamouring to try their luck.

So if you are susceptible to #fomo perhaps you should play the lottery. You never know.