New Chess Master

Viswanathan Anand has been topped ranked player since April in the ELO ratings, he become the undisputed World Chess Champion on September 29, 2007 after winning the 2007 World Chess Championship Tournament held in Mexico City. Anand scored 9 from 14 points, without losing a single game and finished a full point ahead next player.

He previously won the title in 2000, but at that time there were 2 governing bodies in Chess, with Gary Kasparov also claiming the word title. From 1993 to 2006, there was the “classical” world title determined by traditional matches, but not sanctioned by FIDE. The FIDE world title has determined by several methods, most recently by round-robin tournament. In a unification match, the 2006 World Championship, classical champion Vladimir Kramnik defeated FIDE champion Veselin Topalov. In June 2007, Kramnik stated that he would recognize the winner of the 2007 championship as the new World Chess Champion – he then took the world champion position in this tournament.

Chess Master Anand image from Youtube
Viswanathan Anand, image from wikipedia.

You can find all the games from the tournament here: Chess base 2007 FIDE World Championship.


UK gold reserves fail to meet gold standard

“This is not about purity, this is about physical appearance,” Says a spokesman for the Bank of England. Mervyn King was not risking making the statement himself.

It has been discovered that some of the bars of gold held in the bank of England have been poorly made and have started to show cracks. The gold showing signs of deterioration was originally imported from America in the 1930s and 1940s falls below the proper LGD(London Goods Delivery) standard as specified by the London Bullion Market Association. The Bars are reported to have the proper assay markings added at the time of manufacture to assure the purity, however the paper work is unavailable.

Gold Ingots
Picture from Wikipedia article about Gold

The bank currently holds a reserve of 320 tonne on behalf of the treasury and they say this could temporarily reduce the value, the gold may have to be re-refined. The gold held by the Bank of England is an insurance policy in case of turmoil in the world’s money markets and the reserve is currently worth around £4 billion. However much of the reserves have been halved in recent years according to government policy lead by Gordon Brown to diversify the holdings.

Revelations about its physical deterioration were secured by the trade journal Metal Bulletin. It’s suggested that pure gold should not crack or exhibit fissures and that therefore the gold may not be 100% pure.

Peter Ryan, an analyst at the consultant Gold Field Mineral Services, said: “I would guess that it would only be a small proportion that doesn’t conform to standards and it would only be an issue if they needed to sell the gold. Some of this gold was acquired 30 or 40 years ago and standards do vary, but it is not difficult to fix.” The gold price has been soaring recently as investors seek a hedge against the falling dollar and inflation worries. Strong demand from India, the biggest gold-consuming country in the world, has also boosted prices. There, gold jewellery, ingots and coins are a favourite wedding and festival gift.

Quoted from Times online article covering this story; All that glisters may not be gold.

DeLorean manufacture to resume

This iconic car is well remembered because of it’s appearance in the Back to the Future movies. Now there are plans to build a small number of the cars. The DeLoreans will be built in a suburb of Houston, Texas, where Liverpool born Stephen Wynne has a 3,700 sq m warehouse chock-full of DeLorean car parts, which were sold by the liquidators when the company flamed out after less than two years of production. Until now Mr Wynne has been using the spare parts to maintain the 9000 cars that were originally built during the two years of production.

The car was made with a stainless steel body, this saved on capital costs since no paint baking line was needed. Possibly a better solution than Henry ford making all of his Model-T cars black because the paint dried faster.

Picture from Wikipedia DeLorean DMC-12 article

The Gaurdian business supplement had a story in August covering the plans to resume production: Back to the Present for DeLorean.

The UK government originally invested £78 million UKP to attract production of the DeLorean to Northern Ireland. That works out as a subsidy of £8667 UKP per car. Margret Thatcher became Prime Minister in 1979 and was a person who took a dim view of government subsidy of industry. However the cars were to be built in a employment black spot, and Nothern Ireland was a hot political issue.

John DeLorean was arrested suspected of Drug Trafficking in 1982 by the FBI but was found not guilty in of the charges in 1984 after using a defense based on Entrapment – the accusation was that the money from trafficking was meant to bail out the ailing company.

The new DeLorean company plans to make around 25 cars per year. With basic price of $58000 USD.

Allergy Epedemic

Allergy epidemic gets ‘poor care’ reports BBC.

Poor care and confusing advice is being used to deal with an allergy epidemic in the UK, experts have said.

But the story contains no information about why this epidemic is occurring.

The land of the free

Amazing footage of police causing a disturbance at a town Hall Forum. University of Florida student is asking some possibly unwelcome questions of John Kerry. However police move in before he even asks his question to try to tell him to not take so long. He then gets more aggravated/distressed and continues to ask his questions. Two police then try to remove him from the auditorium, he protests (I don’t believe he actually did anything wrong up to this point) and it ends in him being tased as he resists the police (5 or 6 isn’t enough to restrain him – just how strong is this guy?!).

The questions he was trying to ask John Kerry was why did he concede defeat in the election so easily given reports of inaccurate vote counting (electronic voting, etc), black voter disenfranchisement and other irregularities in the election. John Kerry may actually have won.
He also wanted to ask should Bush be impeached, and if it was true that John Kerry and George Bush belonged to the same secret society (Scull and Bones) whist they were at Yale.

Northern Rocked

One of the main themes in the coverage of the Northern Rock story is that customers have been acting irrationally in wanting to draw money out from the seemingly ailing bank. This is particularly rich from people working in the financial markets, who must already realise that it is often perfectly rational to move with the crowd. Especially if you lack sufficient clout to polarise the market in your favour, there is little choice, except to avoid risk.

Reuters Coverage


Raw fear and crowd psychology appear to play a big part in whipping up a seemingly unstoppable tidal wave of panic when a bank run takes hold. “If a crowd is heading in one direction, people are loathe to go the other way. In a world of uncertainty often the best thing is to follow the crowd,” said Avinash Persaud, a risk consultant who heads Intelligence Capital.

With certainty, if everyone decides to draw their money out of the Bank it is going to cause it problems (even if it borrows the majority of it’s money from other banks it needs some assets of it’s own one, i think it’s safe to assume!). If I have little to lose by moving my money to another bank why wouldn’t I do that?

Money in savings account is meant to be a low risk investment, people can’t afford to lose these savings, otherwise they would be more likely to have invested them in stocks shares or housing (especially with the rise of the buy-to-let phenomenon triggered by the [previously] low cost of borrowing). So it is perfectly rational to draw your money out of an ailing bank (perhaps losing a few months interest ~0.3%?) to avoid the chance of losing in the best case 10% and spending who knows how long getting it back, or perhaps all of your money.

Since the `Run on Northern Rock’ the government was forced to step in to support the bank, in the hope of preventing a similar fiasco at any of the other banks. The panic was initially caused by the announcement by the Bank of England changed it’s position and said that it would support Northern Rock. The announcement was met with the same level of skepticism that as when the director of a football club saying he fully supports the manager. The public started drawing out their money, and only stopped after the government said it would guarantee that they wouldn’t lose any of their cash.

Predicting the Future

Cartoons seem to be a pretty good way to predict the future…

No one will walk in the Future.
Brown County Democrat, December 28, 1900.

Segway picture

… to think those guys in 1900 probably thought they were being funny.

I wonder if this proves Karl Marx was right in what he said about consumerism leading to production of useless products.