Feb 092023


There is something that certain entitled motorists keep banging on about – “road tax”. There hasn’t been a road tax since 1937; it’s currently called vehicle excise duty and the income (£8 billion) goes into the general taxation fund. It sounds like a lot, but is just a drop in the overall public spending budget. And it isn’t reserved for spending on roads.

And local roads are mostly paid for out of council tax – in other words the roads that cyclists and pedestrians actually use are paid for out of local taxes.

Which has an interesting side effect – a motorist on a local road is likely to be a local road user, but a significant proportion will be visitors. Meaning that they haven’t paid for the road. Whereas a cyclist or a pedestrian is more likely to be a local.

Meaning that on any road that isn’t a motorway, the cyclists and pedestrians pay more for that road than the motorist.

Posts leading out to the sea.
Into The Water; Stillness and Motion
Feb 082023

Aeons (well perhaps not quite) an ancient Greek (not Ptolemy although he wrote it down on his map) rocked up on these misty islands and after overcoming the initial language barrier asked “Well, who are you”. “We’re the Prydain” replied his hosts.

And thus British Islands, overlooking the fact that Ireland was inhabited by a different branch of the Celts. Of course Ptolemy later used the names Hibernia and Albion, and an awful lot of wasted bits would be saved if those had stuck.

But for better or worse, it didn’t stick. But also it wasn’t the English who invented the term; it was widely used amongst geographers a thousand years before the Saxons invented England (to appease the Angles otherwise we’d be called Sexland).

But to those who like to gloss over 1,500 years of history, it can easily seem like a conspiracy to claim ownership by the English. Which tends to overlook that everyone has been trying to seize power over all the islands; and it was the Scottish who succeeded in the end.

But if we were to translate “British Islands” into modern English it would be “Celtic Islands”.

Entering The Great Hall

Dec 302022

Nazis were Nazis. But not infrequently online arguments will result in accusations along the lines of “Nazis were ${X} so ${X} are Nazis”. Which is incredibly shallow thinking of course. A Nazi could well be a stamp collector, but what made them a Nazi was membership of the NSDAP.

There are ‘interests’ that would be indicative of membership of the NSDAP – ‘racial purity’, anti-semiticsm, etc. but they are specific types of interests and something as innocuous as stamp collecting isn’t indivicative.

But concentrating on Socialism because Socialism appears in the name of the party.


The full name of the Nazis party was Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei[ (National Socialist German Workers’ Party). The “socialist” appears right there in the name of the party, so of course they were socialists.

Well, no. It isn’t quite that simple.

The first indication is that once the Nazis acquired power, they immediately started suppressing socialists of all varieties – the first imprisoned in Dachau concentration camp were Hitler’s political opponents. Including members of the SDP and KDP (see the list of those killed by the Nazis although not all of those killed were socialists).

There are those who will argue that socialists turn on each other. Certainly the authoritarian ones do have that tendency but not to the extreme that Nazis did. For example, members of the German SPD for forced to join the communist party in East Germany. Even Lenin’s Russia didn’t immediately suppress non-Bolsheviks (Mensheviks and the Socialist Revolutionary Party); they were finally suppressed after each was involved in separate uprisings.

The next indicator are economic policies. This is slightly harder to justify because some of the Nazi government spending during The Depression looks a bit like Keynesian but most of the government spending was very often aligned with Nazi military ambitions. Plus they were always very friendly with corporations and had abolished trade unions.

Finally, the Nazis were originally called Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (German Workers’ Party). After Hitler took over the party, it was renamed to Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei in a deliberate attempt to deceive working class voters. Hitler was initially opposed to the name, but he was persuaded to accept it

No serious historian is going to call the Nazis socialists and people who do usually turn out to be far-right idiots trying to demonise the left with quite possibly the silliest argument ever invented.

Peering At Each Other
Sep 262022

So the queen is dead, and Twitter went berserk with all sorts of tweets. Some of the anti-colonialism ones were a little tasteless …

“Chief monarch”? Have we got additional monarchs scurrying around? Not that I’ve ever heard of.

Even if the queen was responsible for the crimes of the British Empire, wishing she would die in excruciating pain is tasteless in the extreme. After all, we didn’t torture Hitler’s henchpersons to death – they got a quick hanging.

And blaming the queen for all the evils of the British Empire shows a remarkable lack of knowledge about how power in Britain works. After all real power has been delegated to parliament, and has been since Charles II (in 1660 so it’s been a while).

Sure some earlier monarchs were involved in the slave trade and were directly responsible for the establishment of certain colonies. But the last monarch with that kind of power was Charles I who was demoted with an ax.

Blame the governments of the time, or the relevant person in charge of the atrocities.

The Republicans

Now I’m no die-hard monarchist – I certainly lean in the direction of republicanism, although I’m of the opinion that there are bigger political problems to solve first. And I don’t have a problem with republicans campaigning honestly and with legitimate issues.

Although expecting change on a monarch change is a bit unrealistic – the next in line becomes the new monarch immediately upon the death of the old one. Whilst parliament determines the rules of succession; once in place as law, the succession takes place automatically. All the ceremonies that take place are merely confirmation.

No the ones I’m irritated with are those who exaggerate the power of the monarchy to make their point. Almost all of the power of a monarch is wielded by parliament itself (with the exception of the King’s Consent which needs to go). These are either ignorant or are being dishonest.

The fact is that the undemocratic nature of our current electoral system is a far bigger problem that which puppet we stick a crown on.

Jul 232022

A certain bunch of … let’s call them idiots to be relatively polite … have been spewing forth idiocy in the online comments of various places labelling the heatwave warnings as “scare-mongering”. Mentioning the summer of 1976 and saying we all coped.

The heatwave of 1976 although it went on for longer, didn’t get as hot (36C was nearly reached). That’s 4C below this year’s heatwave peak. And people died during that heatwave too – there was a 20% increase in “excess deaths”.

So no we didn’t cope in the 1976 heatwave; at least not those of us who died.

A lot of criticism was aimed at the Met Office for the heat warnings, and mainstream media channels for repeating the warnings so endlessly. “Oh! We see such temperatures every year on holiday” the numb-brained drawl. No, you don’t; at least not often.

And when you do, it’s when you’re sleeping in air-conditioned hotel rooms beside a pool, with plenty of shade around. You aren’t stuck in offices with no air-conditioning, even hotter work-places (such as kitchens), or outside in the sun (nailing tiles to a roof). You’re not sleeping in a bedroom with the choice of leaving the windows shut (and building up heat), or opening them to let hot air (and noise) in.

When experts issue warnings, it is wise to pay attention to them. Whilst I understand an instinctive distrust of authority (I share it), subject specialists should be trusted – not blindly but (for example) when the Met Office issues heat warnings, it isn’t just one expert thinking it. If you want to question an expert, get as much education as they’ve had.

In short :-

  1. That heatwave was dangerously high and justified the number of warnings issued.
  2. It isn’t natural and was made more severe by climate change.
  3. Being that guy who claims that we’re all snowflakes for being concerned about it just shows that you’re an idiot.
Two Posts in the Sea