Dec 272021
 

In honour of the traditional family argument about whether Christmas Day is a bank holiday or not, I shall be wittering on about it for a while. The UK government web site on Bank Holidays, lists it as a bank holiday. Incorrectly, although it’s understandable why it does.

The Act of Parliament currently in force establishing “bank holidays” is the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971, which lists the following as bank holidays :-

The following are to be bank holidays in England and Wales :-

Easter Monday

The last Monday in May.

The last Monday in August.

26th December, if it not be a Sunday.

27th December in a year in which 25th or 26th December is a Sunday.

Note how the 25th doesn’t appear! Within the text of the Act, it also states :-

No person shall be compellable to make any payment or to do any act on a bank holiday under this Act which he would not be compellable to make or do on Christmas Day or Good Friday

There are of course other missing bank holidays which are proclaimed on a yearly basis by the queen, but Christmas Day and Good Friday are special – they’re Common Law holidays that have been taken as public holidays since time immemorial (6 July 1189) as traditional customary holidays.

Those two days appear many times in legislation dealing with restrictions on what can be carried out on those days, but nowhere is it declared that they are public holidays – it is just assumed.

There used to be a good deal more customary holidays – in 1833 the Bank of England shut for 33 days a year but in 1834 shut for just 4. When bank holidays were first established in 1871, they were intended as public holidays but were expressed in financial terms – specifically so banks couldn’t be declared bankrupt for not being able to process a promissory note or a bill of exchange.

Which is why we call them “Bank” holidays. And why they aren’t strictly speaking “holidays” for workers – they are really just holidays for banks as there is no guarantee that you can take a bank holiday off work.

The Bare Family

Dec 182021
 

A while back something popped up on my Facebook stream claiming that Pushkin (Alexander Pushkin – the Russian poet) was black as a way of saying “look at all these incredible things blacks have done”. I don’t have a problem with that. I might just question the logic of classifying Pushkin as black.

Of course I also question the use of the colour of the dead stuff that keeps the squishy bits on the inside, to divide people into arbitrary categories. But we’ll gloss over that for now.

Pushkin was at least partially black because his great-grandfather (Abram Petrovich Gannibal) was black; that’s one sixteenth. So he was also 15/16ths white. Can someone be both black and white (presumably without stripes)? Of course the racists amongst us were the ones who set the standard for excluding people from the privilege of calling themselves “white”. And just to irritated the bigots, it pleases me to declare that Pushkin was white; and to avoid making those who look to trumpet the accomplishments of black people foolish., it also pleases me to declare that Pushkin was black.

Which is ridiculous of course, but that’s kind of what I feel about the whole obsession with skin colour anyway.

And finally, take a look at Abram’s bio – he’s probably more accomplished than his descendant Puskin.

King Alfred Looking Down At The Runners
Nov 272021
 

I can accept “Saving the Planet” as a political slogan for those who advocate taking action to combat climate change – political slogans don’t have to be entirely accurate although I might argue that “Saving People” is more accurate. Because no matter how serious climate change gets, the planet will carry on.

Don’t get me wrong, I think climate change is really serious – we will see millions of deaths at least; quite possibly billions of deaths. And climate refugees will make the Syrian refugee crisis seem like just a tiny taste of what the real thing will be like. And some historians put the collapse of the western Roman empire down to climate change refugees – I don’t think it’s that simple but it was certainly a contributing factor. That is the level of disruption from climate refugees that we can expect.

And if you’re one of those inhumane nasties that imagines military level forces using lethal force to stop refugees, you can forget it – not only are there enough of us bleeding heart liberals who will shout “fuck that shit”, but it is doubtful that any level of military force could stop millions of refugees.

Climate change won’t destroy the planet; it won’t even destroy the environment. It will change the environment catastrophically and humans are to blame. Whole species will become extinct, but probably not humans; we’re too adaptable and we’ve survived through extinction events before (although sometimes only just).

But before anyone gets too complacent, if we don’t do anything, humanity will survive by the skin of its teeth – if just 90% of us are killed, we’ll be lucky. If we act today to make drastic changes, we might keep things down to just a few million dead; if we had acted back in the 1980s, that would be considerably less.

Walking The Beach
Sep 202021
 

In the UK there is something known as “vehicle excise duty” which the owners of some motorised vehicles have to pay. Before 1937, this was paid into a road fund used exclusively to pay for the creation of the road network. But from that date, roads are funded out of general taxation and local council taxes.

Which means that everyone (or just about everyone) is paying for the roads and that is no bad thing – we all benefit to some extent (although the pollution is a bit of a drag).

Filthy Roaring Beasts Rushing Along The Scar

The interesting thing is that because local roads are locally funded (to an extent), there is a good chance that a pedestrian is paying more for the roads within a city than the car driver – the driver is more likely to be a visitor to the city and thus pays considerably less. So by the argument that whoever pays should have priority, it should be the pedestrian who does!

Sep 182021
 

There are a fair number of memes out there at the moment throwing rocks at people who “do their own research” (meaning reading a few articles online).

The point they are trying to make is not unreasonable – casual reading up on a subject doesn’t trump the results of professional researchers results.

On the other hand, reading the right sources is research; not as valuable as academic research with all that extra “stuff”, but research nevertheless. The OED definition includes :-

To engage in research upon (a subject); to investigate or study closely.

Doesn’t say a whole lot about publishing papers in a peer-reviewed journal, the scientific method, or all that other tedious stuff that separates the professional academic researcher from the amateur.

There is of course a whole other post on how to do research properly in terms of background reading :-

  1. Wikipedia may be a good start but it’s just that – a start.
  2. You need to assess the trustworthiness of a source; if nobody trusts the source you’re reading it probably means the source can’t be trusted.
  3. You’re looking for accepted wisdom; you need to do a lot more work to start looking at the kooky stuff.
Unnatural Nature
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