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A Journey to the Source of the Nile
An duine og is a chail ne dhiadh
Reading changes us, and some of those changes only become apparent after years, and only after some reflection.

So how did Sir Terry and the Discworld change me?

I learned that humour need not be cruel - indeed, that the best of all humour isn't cruel at all - through my reading.


And I learned it rather later in life than I should have.








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Anyone seen this, From the Tax Reseach blog?

Please Don't Argue That We're Overtaxed.

I don't mind paying more than the average; I earn more than the average. I do mind that people earning more pay less.Read more...Collapse )
Here and now, I'm not getting what I'm paying for, and this is getting worse. So, too, is the galling inequality of obligation, whereby the even-better-paid pay less, and the profiteering parasites at the very top pay nothing. So, too, is the risk that we'll see a rerun of 1978, where the middle classes were squeezed in a panic-stricken struggle to 'balance' a deficit that was largely caused by a collapse in tax compliance among large companies and the wealthy.

The moral case for taxes has been degraded, and the economic case for avoidance or evasion has become increasingly compelling.

That is, of course, an effective 'emigration' out of the social compact, without actually going anywhere. It would be better to take up German or a Nordic language and leave.



Libertarians need not apply...Collapse )

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Morning all: I am trundling Londonward from Leicester, having celebrated my father's 85th birthday with the wild party animals of Oadby Launde Rotary Club.

I am not a morning person. Nor, it would seem, are my fellow-passengers on the 05:43: if you've heard the phrase "All the hours God sends", I can now tell you that this train travels in the hours sent by the other lot, and I fully expect to be met at St.Pancras Station by a mob of peasants - pitchforks, torches, and crucifixes held aloft - led by some intrepid member of the clergy who has signed up to a traditionalist view of what to do with an invading army of the undead.

[Update: 0625, Somewhere near Wellingborough]Collapse )





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Does anyone remember the Trafigura toxic waste scandal a couple of years ago?

Dust off the newspaper cuttings, or look up that link: it - or something like it - will be news again, soon. Or worse, not news: secretly disposed of, and silently killing people.

A bit of background on "Tank washing"...Collapse )
The short version...Collapse )
So my prediction is: the recent tumble in crude oil prices will have extremely negative environmental effects.

There will be other effects, and I won't have heard of them - would anyone else like to chip in?









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Oh dear: I've just read an unfavourable review of the Chancellor's Autumn Statement, by an accountant .

I have maintained the view that Osborne's sole economic objective is to accelerate the concentration of wealth; and, measured against his objective, he is the most effective and successful Chancellor that we have ever had.
No, really: I *am* going to say something nice... EventuallyCollapse )
So I would suggest that we should all find something nice to say about our Chancellor, the Right Honourable Mr. Osborne.

Here's my contribution: he's not a twin.

Unless there's something I don't know about the front bench of the Labour Party.


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I am going to tell you about a bad thing, and a Very bad thing, which you must never, ever do.

I would like to make it clear that I have not actually done these things, nor have I ever seen them done. I may, perhaps, have advocated them.

Picture the day: an office move, first day at a new desk, and your plastic crate of crap is tagged and waiting by the little 'pod' of cheap and nasty steel filing drawers, sitting on it's little squeaky castors under your desk.

Cut to spare readers of a nervous disposition...Collapse )





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The #Loncon3 panel on Ideology vs Politics in Science Fiction is about to start.

Should I have made those Libertarian Bingo Cards?

Meanwhile, we await the arrival of a missing panelist: Laurie Penny - hope she can make it.

[update]
Laurie is here. She has apologised for being delayed by a banana.







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Today my LiveJournal is ten years old. Appropriately enough, it started with a pun .

I could do a series of indulgent 'on this day' reposts, but a quick review of the LiveJournal calendar reveals the awful truth: there are some highlights, but much of what I write is rather dull.

So tell me: What's your favourite Hairyears post?

And, as the greater part of any LJ is the comments, given and received: What's your favourite Hairyears comment?

Bits of Hairyears-on-LJ trivia for you...Collapse )

There are people I should thank a *lot*. But, for the big things in life, we never do: the best we can hope for is to pay it 'forward', rather than pay it back, passing on the grace to others.







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Did you hear about the March Against Austerity yesterday?

"The what? I didn't hear about that!"

Somewhere between ten and fifty thousand people - the Metropolitan Police are refusing to provide an estimate - marched from the BBC headquarters to Parliament, where they held a speaker meeting.

That's a lot of people, enough to fill St Stephen's Green - the large square outside Parliament - and that kind of thing gets you noticed. And you didn't hear about it on the BBC, because they didn't cover it.

Given where it started, you can't say the BBC didn't notice.

[UPDATE]
At 11:00 the following day, the BBC website put up a short clip with no commentary. It's someone else's footage, and the text looks like the barebones header off the Reuters feed.

See if you can find it on BBC.co.uk without being told where to look: this isn't broadcast news.
[/UPDATE]


So where can I see the news on TV..?Collapse )

We're not one of *those* countries, with censorship, mass surveillance, deaths in police stations, and 'People's' this and 'Democratic' that plastered over institutions which are nothing of the sort, and falling living standards for the masses while the people who run the place are salting money away in Switzerland.

...Are we?

Well, the BBC are making a jolly good British effort to reassure us that we're not. Or at least, showing a proper British dignified reserve.

Broadcast Britishness: it's what they're for.

But what *are* we? What is Britain?

It seems we have entered a post-democratic phase of government, governance, and politics. And I have no idea what that might actually mean.







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Some election punditry for you all, expanded from a comment I made elsewhere...

This week's local and European elections show that the Labour Party have gained from UKIP's split in the right-wing vote - and I believe that Labour will gain even more in Parliamentary constituencies next year, where splits in the opposition magnify the distortions of a first-past-the-post electoral system.
Read more...Collapse )





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