bookmark_borderBoth solutions are wrong

On the bus to work this morning, I read a letter to the editor by Mr. G. C. King in The Herald suggesting a solution to the rising number of repossessions: “The UK government can promptly pass a law that says any lender repossessing a house must accept the proceeds of sale in full settlement of the outstanding debt. If the outstanding loan is £100k and a forced sale releases only £60k, the bank cannot pursue the borrower for the balance.”

On the bus back home this evening, I then read an article in The Economist suggesting that a big problem with the housing market in the US is that this is the case, because it gives people an incentive to run away from their home and their mortgage as soon as they go into negative equity. They just send the keys to the mortgage lender, and they’re free again. This means that they’re not motivated to find alternative ways to pay their mortgage, and more homes than necessary end up being repossessed.

So what is the solution? Clearly the British system is bad because it gives the lender an incentive to repossess early rather than giving borrowers payment holidays or the like, and the American system is just as flawed, just in the opposite way.

It seems a system should be found whereby both parties share the pain. For instance, if a house is repossessed and doesn’t bring in enough money to pay off the remainder of the mortgage, the resulting debt should be split equally between the lender and the borrower. Would this work?

bookmark_borderCurry cheating

Many Indian cookbooks are mostly about Indian home cooking. The food is nice, but it’s not what you encounter in Indian restaurants here.

However, some years ago I bought a most astonishing cookbook: The Curry Secret.

It’s a small paperback without any photos, but is teaches you how to do Indian restaurant cooking at home.

The trick is to make a basic curry sauce (which you can make in huge amounts and freeze in practical amounts) and to precook the meat (which again can be frozen).

When you then want to cook a nice curry, you just fry some of the basic sauce with some precooked meat and/or vegetables, and you add the relevant spices.

For instance, today I cooked both a dopiaza and a korma in less than half an hour. This was possible because I had made the basic sauce and the meat over the weekend.

Both the curries were lovely and very different – you couldn’t tell they were derived than the same sauce!


Cartogram of predicted US election
Cartogram of the predicted US election. Each state has been scaled to according to the number of electoral college votes.
I’ve found a few nice web sites about the upcoming US presidential election.

First and most importantly, FiveThirtyEight is a great site if you’re into opinion polls. The guy running it does a lot of number crunching based on published polls (and makes nice illustrations), and in addition he writes interesting blog postings.

In addition (and linked to from 5:38), has nice maps updated on a daily basis.

Finally, and on a more light-hearted note, The Economist’s Global Electoral College is asking everybody on this planet to vote, and the result at the moment is 9120 electoral college votes for Obama, and 158 for McCain.

Only Iraq is strongly in favour of the latter – could that be because most people accessing the internet from Iraq are American soldiers…?

bookmark_borderKristelig splittelse

Det er interessant at se Kristendemokraternes formandsudskiftning. Det forekommer mig at være et evigt splittet parti.

I begyndelsen af 1990erne, da jeg var ret aktiv i Radikal Ungdom, havde vi et glimrende samarbejde med Kristeligt Folkepartis Ungdom, der var domineret af unge, der ikke var ret kristne, men blot havde fokus på etiske problemstillinger.

Jeg mener også, det var i de år, at en muslim meldte sig ind i Kristeligt Folkeparti, fordi han mente, de bedst repræsenterede hans holdninger.

Han blev ekskluderet, fordi for de fleste af medlemmerne mente, at de var kristne, ikke kun etisk-moralsk orienterede.

Og sådan vil de vel fortsætte, så længe partiet består: Nogle af medlemmerne vil bare være Etisk Folkeparti, men andre vil være den politiske arm af Indre Mission, og de skiftes til at have magten.


I have been noticing recently that some products in Asda have been labelled as being Delia cheat ingredients.

This intrigued me, so I bought the book on Google.

It’s basically a cookbook for when you’re in a rush, so lots of the ingredients are frozen or from tins or boxes.

Lots of the recipes look really nice, although I think some of them are cheating a bit too much for my taste, such as by using frozen mashed potatoes.

Marcel seems to like the idea, though, so he’s already bookmarked some dishes that he wants to cook. Excellent!

bookmark_borderFact and fiction

I’ve almost completed reading Brian Sykes’s The Seven Daughters of Eve.

I must say I thoroughly enjoyed the first two thirds, although the book is a tiny bit out of date. It’s one of those nice examples of popular science that actually gives you a feel for how things happen in the engine room, rather than just presenting the results.

However, towards the end he starts writing fictional stories about the seven “clan mothers” of Europe, and this is definitely the weakest part of the book.

He assigns hair colour and other physical characteristica to them, although he obviously doesn’t know this.

Also, to make the descriptions seem realistic, he strays into areas about which he clearly has little knowledge.

For instance, he writes about one of them that their “language was not elaborate, but quite sufficiently developed to impart […] basic information.” As a linguist, I know this is nonsense. All human languages, whether spoken by hunter-gatherers or by invest bankers, are equally elaborate and highly developed.

So read the first part of this book, but skip the seven fictional chapters.