Sep 222023

Now that Sunak has reversed a policy that didn’t exist in the first place – taxing meat – the question is whether it would be a good idea or not?

I can already hear the howls of protest from meat eaters, but bear with me …

Firstly there are all sorts of good reasons to discourage meat eating – environmental reasons and health reasons chief amongst them.

Secondly we should encourage the occasional consumption of high quality meat rather than constant consumption of low quality meat. This might mollify some of the British farmers – at least those who have very sensibly concentrated on quality rather than quantity.

So what we want is a flat rate per kilogram of meat – perhaps 25p per kilo of mince which would make Quorn mince a relatively cheap option, but not make much difference to quality mince.

Make meat a luxury not a necessity (because it isn’t).

Filthy Roaring Beasts Rushing Along The Scar
Aug 262023

The most recent example of mass slavery, and the dominant experience in the Americas (including the USA) has been of black slaves with white slave masters. But if you look at the history of slavery, a different picture emerges – many of the slaves caught up in the Atlantic slave trade were enslaved and sold by black kings.

And there were white slaves too – Vikings made an industry out of taking slaves. Even the very word slave supposedly has origins in the defeat and enslavement of Slavic peoples.

Let us scratch the surface of those slave masters, slave traders, and those who enslave people and we find bad people. Those who fought against slavery were good people. There are also those who accept the prevailing conditions of their society and we can label these as neutral people.

If we judge people on their behaviour, we have good, bad, and neutral people (in their attitude towards slavery) and we don’t have any “but cases” (such as the British West Africa squadron or Mary Faber) to confuse things.

Doesn’t this make more sense than to use the colour of the dead stuff that keeps the squishy bits on the inside?

The Bare Family
Aug 192023

One of the strangest things that comes up in discussions of metrification, is that US traditional units (“feet”, “inches”, etc.) are referred to as Imperial units.

They’re not the same.

Correctly speaking Imperial units began with the British Weights and Measures Act of 1824 which essentially rolled up all previous legislation, repealed it, and set up a full set of standards for weights and measures. This was obviously after the US declared independence so had no effect over there.

The US units were based on traditional English units which were chiefly defined by the Exchequer Standards or the Winchester Standards (technically there were several standards that could be called “Winchester” dating back to Alfred the Great). That is an oversimplification – various “laws” (the earliest ones were simple pronouncements of the monarch) covering weights and measures are within every single century from the 10th century onwards.

The differences between US traditional units and Imperial units are subtle, but significant in the area of volume – Imperial units of volume don’t distinguish between “wet” and “dry”. A US wet pint is 473mL, a US dry pint is 550mL, and an Imperial pint is 563mL.

So the old saying “a pint’s a pound the world around,” is complete nonsense.

To throw more petrol (or gas) on the fire, both US traditional units and Imperial units are defined by legislation in terms of metric units, so as defined today, neither are proper units of measurement.

No Fun At The Fair
Aug 182023

A fair few videos are popping up at the moment responding to a description of the Bamber Bridge incident. This post is mostly adding a few points from the British perspective.

US military authorities insisted that local British authorities impose a colour bar

The British pubs co-operated and stuck up signs saying “Black troops only” – which is obviously not what the US authorities wanted.

Well of course they did – under what kind of authority do the ‘US military authorities’ have to impose a colour bar? They are after all nothing more than guests in the country, so of course British pub owners would interpret it “perversely”.

It is nice to think that this is an indication that the British of the time weren’t racist. Wrong of course – Bamber Bridge is just a couple of hours away from Hartlepool where according to legend a ship-wrecked monkey was hanged for being a French spy. The British regarded themselves as better than anyone else (so just like everybody else then), but the presence of non-whites was very low especially in a small town without a port.

And besides, the British were told to be nice to visiting US troops and nobody mentioned that it wasn’t supposed to apply to non-white US troops. And of course there is sympathy for the underdog.

What Happened Afterwards?

At least the videos I’ve seen neglect to mention what happened after the incident. Except to say that many of the black troops were court-martialed.

But what also happened was that the general in charge (Ira Eaker) placed most of the blame on the white officers and MPs, merged the unit with other trucking units, and purged the new unit of racist and inexperienced officers. Which is supposed to have improved things considerably for black troops.

British Racism?

It is easy to assume that the British attitude during the incident means that the British aren’t racist. The fact is that black people were relatively rare in Britain during WWII and were most likely concentrated in the great port cities rather than a small village in rural Lancashire.

Immigration of black British from the colonies was strongly encouraged after the war, and with their arrival racism reared its ugly head. I would argue that the racism in Britain against black people was never quite as bad as in the USA, but I’m white, so what the hell do I know?

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