Tim Worstall

Contact Mail Follow Twitter RSS feed
Tim Worstall is an Englishman who has failed at many things. Thus his turn to writing, the last refuge of many who could make a living no other way. He is, as an example of his business and financial perspicacity, the head of the international scandium oligopoly: the only commodity which has not risen in price in the past decade.
The Register breaking news

Pacific rare-earth discovery: Actually just gigatonnes of dirt

There has been a lot of excitement over a recent paper by Japanese researchers who have discovered billions – hundreds of billions – of tonnes of rare earths under the Pacific Ocean. Those rare earths, you will recall, are essential to so much of modern technology, from those sweet little earbuds of your iPod and the magnets in …
Tim Worstall, 04 Jul 2011
The Register breaking news

The freakonomics of smut: Does it actually cause rape?

Does porn cause rape? It could do: rape fantasies causing porn is a certainty. While there are many who would argue that porn causes rape, what we would really like to know is whether it is true. There's not much actual evidence that it does, that seeing graphic representations of sex, even violent sex, increases the acting out …
Tim Worstall, 30 Jun 2011
The Register breaking news

90% of visitors declined ICO website's opt-out cookie

As we know, no one is on time in implementing the EU's cookies directive. Well, two countries managed to get their laws in place in time, the other 25 didn't bother. The UK has given everyone a year to comply, a year longer than we're supposed to have. Not fixing your website doesn't seem to be an option, given the £500,000 …
Tim Worstall, 29 Jun 2011
The Register breaking news

Does it pay to be bad? Silver Lake's Skype sale fine print

We knew there had to be something evil when Microsoft was involved but in this story of the purchase of Skype it isn't actually the Evil Empire of Redmond, at least not according to Reuters journo Felix Salmon. He's branded Silver Lake, the seller, as being evil, rather than Ballmer's Ball Boys*. It's an issue of semantics. The …
Tim Worstall, 29 Jun 2011
fingers pointing at man

Cloud storage survey FAIL: May have to, er, back up

The self-seeking company-commissioned survey is anathema to all right-thinking people. This is especially so when journos simply repeat its assertions without examining it for bias and agenda. However, when the research conducted by said company actually undermines the very case for the service that the company is trying to sell …
Tim Worstall, 28 Jun 2011
The Register breaking news

Groupon faces multitude of legal headaches in US

Groupon may have rather more legal woes than people generally think. The problem isn't particularly that it's doing anything wrong - it's that the major limitation on most innovation is the old way of doing things. In this case, that's the laws about the old ways of distributing and using coupons. Research from Harvard seems to …
Tim Worstall, 27 Jun 2011
Withings WiFi Scales

You have to have standards – or do you?

Given that so much of the time and effort expended by you technical and computing types revolves around standards, just how important are they in the larger sense? And if they are important, who ought to be devising them, and should they be voluntary or imposed? This might sound a tad odd in this modern age, for the default …
Tim Worstall, 27 Jun 2011
The Register breaking news

Kindle Store awash with auto-generated crap 'books'

Tsk, kids of today, eh? Give them something free and they spam it, thus making it all entirely unusable for the rest of us. As Reuters reports, this is now happening with the Kindle Store. Now that you can upload an e-book, price it and sell it, for free, hordes of wouldbe publishing millionaires are doing exactly that. Except …
Tim Worstall, 17 Jun 2011
The Register breaking news

Facebook's mega-billion-dollar bubble ... will it float?

So just how much is Facebook going to be worth by the time it eventually IPOs? Given that prediction, especially about the future, is very difficult, who knows? If we take recent movements we can still come up with any number we like: "As for the valuation spurts, Facebook was said to be worth $23bn in June 2010, nearly as much …
Tim Worstall, 16 Jun 2011
The Register breaking news

So, how does your economy grow?

The economy is, as is being gleefully pointed out to us, gathering speed as it swirls its way towards the U-bend. No or little economic growth, unemployment still monstrously high. The glee comes of course from those who say we should be doing more to polish it up: not always simply a euphemism for spending more on whatever it …
Tim Worstall, 13 Jun 2011
The Register breaking news

Oxfam's 'Grow' world hunger plan: More peasants

Oxfam's latest campaign, "Grow", seems so lovely and cuddly that to criticise it is almost like torturing puppies. What could be wrong with trying to feed the hungry and thus make the world a better place? Alas, if wishes were kings we could all be monarchs for the day and what's wrong with the campaign is not the initial wish …
Tim Worstall, 06 Jun 2011
The Register breaking news

What Carthage tells us about Amazon, Fukushima and the cloud

Sometimes, the Anglo Saxon parts of our language, rich though they are in epithets, insults and methods of swearing, simply aren't enough to allow one to express the complete and total lunacy of some people out there. In such cases new words are required, say, "McKibben". The need for that particular one is because a certain …
Tim Worstall, 11 May 2011
The Register breaking news

Royal Weddings, PCs and Cameron's brass balls

Wedding to wedding, Osborne to Osborne: not a lot seems to have changed over the past 30 years, does it? Di and Charlie did the aisle tango back in 1981 and now their son is about to follow suit. We all get a day off and well, ho hum, not much seems to change in Britain, does it? But it is also the 30th anniversary of both the …
Tim Worstall, 29 Apr 2011
The Register breaking news

Save the planet: Stop the Greens

I find myself in an uncomfortable position over this climate change thing. I've no problem with the existence of man-made climate change, no problem with the idea that we ought to do something about it. But what we are actually trying to do about it seems bonkers, counter-productive even. So how did we get into this mess? To …
Tim Worstall, 27 Apr 2011
The Register breaking news

Fuel foolery, merger warnings and Budgetary boons

What a difference a new government makes, eh? Only parts of the budget are entirely lunatic rather than all of it. I dealt with the playing around with fuel duty and further taxation on oil companies years ago when it was being proposed by idiot Lefties rather than idiot Tories. That it's someone from supposedly my side of the …
Tim Worstall, 25 Mar 2011
The Register breaking news

European parliament loves the Tobin tax

Sometimes it seems the Gods themselves are trying to screw us over. At other times it is our own politicians who attempt to to fubar the world all on their lonesome. This seems to be the case with the European Parliament's recent decision to try and impose the Tobin Tax upon us all. The logic behind the decision seems impeccable …
Tim Worstall, 15 Mar 2011
The Register breaking news

All hail our cloud computing overlords

We all know what's going to be so frabjous about cloud computing: it's going to make the damn stuff work. Yes, yes, we have computing systems that work now, but they need that priestly caste made up of Reg readers sitting in front of them, in charge. Think of it this way: a coach and horses and a car both manage to get you …
Tim Worstall, 25 Feb 2011
The Register breaking news

Evil grain-speculating OVERLORDS will starve us ALL

Darn those evil speculators in food! You know, them, those men in offices playing with futures and derivatives in wheat and corn: they're starving the poor you know! For there is evil in the marketplace and we know where evil comes from: men in offices playing with money. Therefore the evil must be caused by said playing with …
Tim Worstall, 11 Feb 2011
The Register breaking news

Those govt cuts - slasher horror or history-changing brilliance?

So, these Tories and Lib Dems, eh? Baby-eating bastards or careful correctors of a drunken sailor's spending spree? The most painful cuts since Abraham's circumcision or a mild trimming of the fiscal sails? You can read it all either way and depending upon your pre-existent political prejudices you probably have done. coalition …
Tim Worstall, 16 Nov 2010
The Register breaking news

Two-faced world spends billions on climate help, fossil fuel

The International Energy Agency tells us that the world is entirely cocked. For while we're spending tens of billions ($50bn by its estimate) in subsidising renewables and low carbon energy installations to beat climate change we are also, at the same time, spending $500bn in subsidising the use of fossil fuels to cause climate …
Tim Worstall, 09 Nov 2010
The Register breaking news

Don't let China hold rare-earths to ransom again

We're all screwed over this China rare earths thing, aren't we? After five weeks of withholding shipments, the Chinese seem to have let some of them go again, but if they can keep their precious cargo to ransom once, they can do it again, can't they? The problem is, as those who stayed awake in chemistry class will know, that …
Tim Worstall, 08 Nov 2010
The Register breaking news

How much is Facebook worth?

How much is Facebook worth? Hundreds of billions or spit? The answer to that question depends upon who you're asking: and indeed how you're doing the asking. “At what price would you buy Facebook stock?” will get you a very different answer than observing how many people are willing to dig into their wallets at that price. The …
Tim Worstall, 03 Nov 2010
The Register breaking news

Rocks, hard places and Congo minerals

What should we be doing about these conflict minerals from the Congo, eh? Even MPs are raising Questions in the House on the topic. It's certainly true that some of the violence in Eastern Congo has been associated with access to minerals. What's a lot less certain is which way around the causality goes: is it people being …
Tim Worstall, 02 Nov 2010
DVD it in many colours

Danube sludge peril: Brown trouser time or not?

Millions of tonnes of “red sludge” flowing into the Danube: sounds like Hungary's got something of an environmental problem, doesn't it? And indeed they do, but it's a short-term one, not the long-term disaster that the likes of Greenpeace (hey, surprise!) are telling us all it is. It isn't actually “red sludge”, the technical …
Tim Worstall, 08 Oct 2010
The Register breaking news

The long and the short-term of it: Apple's future

We all know that markets are terribly short term things, don't we? Well, we're told often enough at least: the City and the stock market are only interested in what can be had now, immediately, and are not ready to invest for the long term. Venture capitalists want quick returns, not to build a solid business. The whole Anglo …
Tim Worstall, 26 Jun 2010
The Register breaking news

Bloody George's Budget: How bad is it really?

Oooh, I do love a good budget. It's an opportunity to poke fun at all the nonsensical misunderstandings of economics that politicians are prey to. Even if someone proposes something sensible you can be sure that the opposition to it will be rooted in a misconception of reality. So, what does this budget have for us today? …
Tim Worstall, 22 Jun 2010
The Register breaking news

Tech resource woes won't be solved with Afghan minerals

Wondrous news don't you think? Afghanistan is stuffed to the brim with $1 trillion worth of valuable metals. We can just flog off a few mineral concessions and the country is rich, rich beyond the dreams of avarice while kittens gambol happily in the Kabul sunshine. Sadly, no, not really: there's a few minor little problems with …
Tim Worstall, 18 Jun 2010
The Register breaking news

Why the banks aren't scared of the Robin Hood Tax

Thank God the adults have arrived, finally. The IMF has just come out with its suggestions for how we might want to tax and reform parts of finance and is saying things which are sensible, at least in part. In doing so they've continued the process of killing the Robin Hood Tax stone dead, which is great news. Well, something …
Tim Worstall, 22 Apr 2010
The Register breaking news

Skewing statistics: Booze, money and sex

Sorry to bang on about these things again but yes, they're lying to us. No, this isn't just the normal drink-induced paranoia common to such as I - we really are being lied to again and again by those who claim to be our lords and masters. We've had Lord Adonis pompously announcing that he's minded to change the drink drive laws …
Tim Worstall, 04 Apr 2010
The Register breaking news

The myth of Britain's manufacturing decline

Woe unto us for we don't make anything any more. We've given up on manufacturing and that's what ails the UK economy. We must therefore invest heavily in a renaissance of making things that we can drop on our feet and all will be right with the world. You don't have to be all that much of a newspaper fanatic to recognise that …
Tim Worstall, 22 Feb 2010
The Register breaking news

China's doomed attempt to hold the world to ransom

The Chinese government is trying to corner the rare earths market and that isn't good news for the tech business. Those with good memories of Chemistry O Level will know what the rare earths are: the funny little line of elements from Lanthanum to Lutetium at the bottom of the periodic table, along with Yttrium and Scandium, …
Tim Worstall, 15 Jan 2010
The Register breaking news

Doing the maths on Copenhagen

Copenhagen is dead. Hurrah! And I say that as someone convinced that climate change is happening, we're causing it, and we need to do something about it. However, what we don't need to do is the ghastly mess that was being cooked up in Denmark. They've essentially agreed to, um, well, try - and they'll think a little bit more …
Tim Worstall, 22 Dec 2009
The Register breaking news

Who owns science? Manchester Manifesto can't answer

Who owns science could be an interesting question: who should own science even more so. Sadly, the latest attempt at asking exactly these is less than interesting in its answers. The Manchester Manifesto (pdf) is a report from the Great and the Good over how we should change the intellectual property system so as to make it …
Tim Worstall, 04 Dec 2009
The Register breaking news

How the Dunning-Kruger effect will stop techies buying houses

By Jove, I think we've finally got an explanation for the unremitting horrors of so much of modern life - the way in which anything touched by politics, bureaucracy or officialdom simply turns to shite. No, it's not simply the current shower of authoritarians who are in power, and it's not that they're all paid too much/too …
Tim Worstall, 18 Nov 2009

How I rebuilt Europe after the Berlin Wall collapsed

Morgan Computers has shuttered its stores as we celebrate the fall of the Berlin Wall. The coincidence might not mean much to you, but Morgan and the Wall go together for me in a strange way: it was Morgan that indirectly funded my wanderings over the rubble that the Wall's collapse revealed. I - like everyone else of age - had …
Tim Worstall, 09 Nov 2009
The Register breaking news

What on earth do you think you are doing, Darling?

Well, wasn't that a wonderful little budget? We're broke, borrowing the entire output of many a small nation, and this as a result of the policies from the man who promised to abolish boom and bust. But it's not all bad news. Some of it is worse. Take, as a minor example, the increase in statutory redundancy pay announced. Some …
Tim Worstall, 24 Apr 2009
The Register breaking news

The pan-European Office for the Ecodesign of everything

Paul Krugman, our most recent Nobel Laureate in economics* has pointed out that while productivity isn't everything, in the long run it’s almost everything. As, on average, labour becomes more productive then for each hour of work there are more things made, meaning more things to share around. Rising productivity is thus the …
Tim Worstall, 01 Feb 2009
The Register breaking news

Spinning the war on the UK's sex trade

The British Government plans to make it illegal to have sex with a prostitute if said tart has been trafficked, or is being controlled. Nor will this crime will be limited to offences committed in the UK - it will apply to what British men get up to wherever in the world they may be. Now I'm a classically liberal type, and I'm …
Tim Worstall, 04 Jan 2009
The Register breaking news

101 uses for a former merchant banker

So how are we going to get out of this recession thing, then? If we just cut interest rates to zero and crank up the printing presses, will everything return to being fine and dandy? Well, possibly, although I have to say that I personally severely doubt it. Such alarmingly simplistic Keynesian policies might help us along the …
Tim Worstall, 29 Dec 2008
The Register breaking news

Climate Bill scores a fail in economics

The stated objective of the Climate Change Bill, recently passed by Parliament, is: "To avoid the impacts of dangerous climate change in an economically sound way." It's an excellent idea, one worth supporting - but possibly not entirely the one that the Government itself is pursuing. The quote comes from the Government's own …
Tim Worstall, 28 Nov 2008
The Register breaking news

Study clears cannabis of schizophrenia rap

Regular readers will recall the confused mess that is this government’s cannabis policy. There has been a drop in cannabis consumption since it was downgraded from Class B to C, but nevertheless they want to put it back up to Class B again. Yes, we know all about the argument that what you ingest is entirely your business, it …
Tim Worstall, 06 Nov 2008
The Register breaking news

New Scientist goes innumerate in 'save the planet' special

If you’re going to start demanding a new economics, as the New Scientist just has, then it would be useful if you understood what the old economics you’re trying to replace has to say... as the New Scientist clearly doesn’t. Take this seemingly uncontroversial statement: "We live on a planet with finite resources - that's no …
Tim Worstall, 30 Oct 2008
The Register breaking news

'You can't use Google' - EU Parliament

A number of bullets were dodged as the European Parliament voted on the Harbour proposals for the European broadcast, telecoms and internet industries this week. A couple, sadly, struck home all the same. The banning of the use of encryption as a way of identifying those breaching intellectual property rights didn't even make it …
Tim Worstall, 25 Sep 2008
The Register breaking news

Fines all round! EU blames everybody for illegal employment

As Bismark didn't quite point out, both sausages and laws are desirable and necessary things (mmm, sausages!), but you don't particularly want to be there when they're made. Recent experience inside the Brussels saucisson factory rather brought this home to me. To set the scene: they're trying to get EU-wide laws covering …
Tim Worstall, 23 Sep 2008
The Register breaking news

Bet against the bubble - how to head off a subprime crisis

We all know what to do about this subprime mess, the credit-crisis final-end-of-capitalism farrago, don't we? Hang the bankers, hang them high, banish greed and stupidity from the human soul, bring in a very real change to our mass, crass, consumerism and usher in a society free from the shackles of late stage fiancierism? OK, …
Tim Worstall, 01 Sep 2008
The Register breaking news

Windfall taxing big oil: how to make the gas crisis worse

There's something about the oil business that turns even intelligent people into frothmouthed loons: they're raping the planet, shafting Joe Sixpack or, from the other side, insisting that the drill in every back yard is the very definition of America. I realise that in the middle of an election that the small still voice of …
Tim Worstall, 13 Aug 2008
The Register breaking news

The FDRs of Green explain the gentle art of planet saving

A "triple crunch" of financial crisis, climate change and soaring oil prices threatens the world with a new Great Depression so, 'drawing inspiration from FDR' the Green New Deal Group proposes "a modernised version" of the solution. FDR himself being unhappily unavailable, we have the newly-formed group and its eponymous report …
Tim Worstall, 25 Jul 2008
The Register breaking news

Cap, trade, subsidise - Obama's energy plan goes off piste

One of the huge surprises of the way that climate change is being discussed and the way we ought to try to deal with it, is that the orthodox economists have won. We don't have crazed Naderites screaming that carbon must be regulated and legislated out of business, as we did only a couple of decades ago with chlorofluorocabons …
Tim Worstall, 23 Jun 2008
The Register breaking news

MEP tries to ban lightbulbs with mercury amendment

As Bismark pointed out, laws and sausages have things in common - both are highly useful, but you don't want to see either of them made. An example of the turning of lips, ears and arses into comestibles came this week in the European Parliament. One idea quite seriously put forward was to close down the entire European …
Tim Worstall, 22 May 2008
The Register breaking news

The economy: A big Arab did it and ran away, claims PM

It's all OPEC's fault, according to Gordon Brown. Speaking at Google's recent Zeitgeist conference, the UK prime minister told the audience that the world's current economic woes can largely be blamed on the scandalous behaviour of the oil producer's cartel. They're just not pumping enough oil, he claims: Gordon Brown yesterday …
Tim Worstall, 22 May 2008