Oct 112023

Almost every time that something about Britain is mentioned online, there will be someone claiming that we all have rotten teeth. Seemingly unaware that British dentistry has changed over the last century; perhaps stuck with stereotypes learned from WWII soldiers stationed in Britain.

If you check, you will find that according to international surveys, British teeth quality (in terms of cavities) is actually quite good. The last link ranks the UK fourth compared with the USA’s ninth – it often seems that those saying the equivalent of “Ah! What about your teeth” seem to be Americans.

And we’re definitely not getting wooden teeth (just for once it’s a semi-relevant photo).

Wooden Teeth
Oct 072023

Historically, countries ruled by monarchs dictated that the religion of choice was the same as that of the monarch – Anglo-Saxon kingdoms became christian when the king did. Nobody had a choice; at least openly (you do have to suspect that paganism might have officially died out when the king switched, but it may have taken longer in the backwoods where the banjos are played).

In fact it could be worse – the christianisation of the Isle of Wight occurred when a pogrom of all the pagan believers was enacted.

This didn’t please the non-conformists of England during the 16thC and resulted in a number of religious colonies in what would become the USA. Of course not all of the colonialists were non-conformists, but they had better conform to whatever non-conformists were in charge of their relevant colony!

Religious conflict was almost inevitable – both in Europe (although some of these ‘religious wars’ were arguably and to a greater or lesser extent political in nature) and in the colonies that would later become US states. For example, Maryland had a time of Plundering, and there were the Salem witchcraft “trials” plus a whole lot of individual level persecution (just ask early Quakers).

So history tells us that an established church has a history of repressing religious minorities. Sometimes in terms of a lack of rights (such as the prohibition of catholics holding public office in England before the 1829 act), forced to pay a “church tax” to the established church (such as the church tax in Denmark), or violent measures.

And lastly, and probably most importantly, everyone in favour of some form of theocracy is somehow under the belief that it will be their church that is favoured. It won’t be of course because there are so many different choices that somebody will be disappointed.

And for the record, I fully support the establishment of the Satanic Temple.

Church And Lighthouse
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