Thursday, 23 October 2014

Sound And Fury





The trouble with going to live performances is other people.  You all know who and what I mean.

Quite why they spend a large part of their disposable income going to a performance only to do anything but either listen or relate to it is one of life's mysteries.

In recent years there have been a few critics maundering on about accessibility and easy audiences say that classical concerts ought to be more like pop concerts.

There is an alternative view that pop concerts really should be more like classical concerts.  Jessica makes a good case for music as it is and should be.  What are called "live" events are often soulless and sad in reality.

Our central issue is sound.  The use of amplification is a no no not because of the ear drum damaging decibel levels but it is the altered sound you get and not the real performance.

Moreover for those who have a "musical ear" which is pitch sensitive to the frequencies and essence of the sound then amplifying literally murders the music.

This is a debate that will never be resolved.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Football Crazy




The shock, horror, wow, whatever next story of the day is about the American Football NFL coming to Wembley Stadium on a regular rather than occasional basis.

This is The Standard story and it alleges that George Osborne is involved.  This should make it easy then, depending on whose money it is.

If it is that an existing outfit is moved here is my idea.

The New England Patriots should become the Old England Georgians.

Life Is A Lottery




Yesterday, Tuesday, the blog Capitalists@Work, pondered on whether it would be the big one and the author the winner of £143 million smackers.  If so, the real problem was what to do with it.  Quite why, I am not sure, he could buy the government with that.

However, my concern is that in a humorous discussion on a subject of intense interest to all those with a ticket he (or she or other) failed to take account of who else might read it.  If the leaders of our political parties did so then he might have triggered a political media storm.

The Deputy PM and chief bottle washer, Nick Clegg of the Lib Dems would be out of his hutch like a startled rabbit to claim that it was a human right for the buyers of tickets to win not just a measly few pounds but at least a million and preferably more if the Lib Dem's gained power.

This would be supported by high words and emotive whinging to claim how this would make the UK and the world and especially those in marginal constituencies happier, better people , freed of worry, work or the need to do anything for themselves.  It would all be paid for by property taxes.

Ed Miliband, for Labour, after intense talks with his advisers and a call from Len McClusky, the General Secretary of the Unite trade union, would announce that the State would take control of the Lottery which would then plan for an allocation of funds that would reflect national, or at least party needs.

Purchasing a ticket would guarantee you would never need  benefits.  Indeed the bedroom tax would be reversed, you would be paid extra for all the added rooms.  Not only children, but pets, visitors arriving from abroad on the backs of lorries and anyone defined as being close would have separate rooms.

Moreover, everyone would be given an income of at least twenty per cent more than the average wage.  Employment would be optional.  House prices would be geared to allow trading up.  Those in social housing would be compensated by giving them a grant in lieu of being unable to trade in property.  None of this would ever be paid for and done by increasing government debt.

The Conservatives would have to respond to all this and quickly so Cameron will be on the stump declaring while there would be winners and losers in this free lottery economy, the losers would be entitled to interest free loans with no penalties for default from selected financial institutions.

Additionally, money flows would be created by credit creation that would allow ever increasing GDP of ten per cent at least a year, much of which would allow infrastructure projects and extended building programmes, again by selected companies that would end unemployment.

The government would borrow the money from the Bank of England who would raise the money from the government who would divert all the pension liabilities it has via the use of imaginative financial products churned through specially selected financial institutions which would make London not just the greatest but the only financial centre in the world.

You read it all here first.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Employment Figures








Above are pictures of three vessels.  One is the new "Edith Maersk", registered at Roskilde, Denmark, a place once used by Viking longships, and one of the biggest, if not the biggest, cargo ship in the world.

It is said to have a crew of 13. The "Edith" will certainly require and have a number  of shore based back up staff monitoring and advising but limited in numbers.

The second is the "Lady Lilford", 1838-1851, which for a period was in the hands of a Master Mariner ancestor, who did well out of it.  We wish that one or more of the Kashmiri shawls he imported had been kept in the family.

By my highly advanced rule of thumb on the back of an envelope calculations, it would need 285 or so "Lady's" to shift the same amount as that of the "Edith".

This would mean not just 285 Masters and 285 Mates etc. but a total crew count in the order of 8,500 according to my recorded crew lists.

As for, third, a Viking longship now preserved at Roskilde in Denmark, by the same method of calculation you might need over 1500 to 2000 or more vessels and say between 60 and 120 thousand men.

On the other hand if consumer demand does collapse in the near future we may not need any "Edith's" at all.

Monday, 20 October 2014

Carry On Europe





There is a political row going on at present involving the leading lights in UK politics and in the EU over what may or may not be done and the laws involved.

Necessarily the media has to keep it simple.  There are some blogs, notably EU Referendum, who say it is very complicated and too few, if any, of our UK political leaders either know or understand the legal basis of the EU.

This link may help you fathom the nature of some of the complexities, if you have a year or more to spare trudging through it all.

This is but one academic department.  Out there must be dozens, if not hundreds of them.  If you want specifically a Barroso take on things there is a 2011 thesis to help you.

The download for the thesis by Luis Barroso on The Problems And The Controls Of The New Administrative State of the EU is here giving you 175 solidly written pages of text about the joyous and fun lifestyle of EU administrative law.

Well, up to a point, Lord Copper.  How did we get into this?  How do we get out of it?  How on earth can you run economies on this basis?  How on earth can you run anything?

Come back King Philip II of Spain, all is forgiven.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Cargo To Move




The weather is fresh, wet and windy and takes me back sixty years to an October morning when the Sergeant told us to wear our fatigues (denims) for morning parade and to lay out our kit first to be checked.

The reason for the departure from mindless bull and square bashing was simple.  We were on standby to go to Southampton Docks to take over the work of the striking dockers.  This meant that what might have been the worst part of our national service became a strange interlude of relative sanity.

Churchill and his cabinet had run out of patience with the London dockers who were looking to a national dock strike.  The far Left and men like Jack Dash (see Wikipedia) were seeking to exert control over crucial parts of the economy to bring about a Stalinist revolution.

It was about four years later that I met Jack Dash after one of his talks.  We had things in common.  He was the same age as my father.  Both had been useful boxers and dock work was in the family.

The point of our brief discussion was that had the Army gone in and been allowed to do the work in the way it wanted the result might have been that they would have shifted twice as much cargo in half the time. Jack Dash had been in the Army at one time and knew the risks.

Had the strike lasted a lengthy period instead of ships queuing for berths there would have been berths ready and waiting for them.  It would have laid bare the inefficiency, inadequate facilities, the bane of demarcation issues and the antique management and administration of the docks at that time.

Much of the paperwork was 19th Century in form and function.  Across so many areas of work Britain was slow to change not just in working practices but in supervision, management and many other ways.

It was in this period, 1955, that Anthony Eden became Prime Minister, called an election and increased the Tory majority from a marginal figure to a working one.  At the time there was a strong modernising group in the Party relating to the domestic economy and society and their message appealed to many of the electorate as did concern over trade union power.

But Eden's interest lay in Foreign Affairs and it was here that he blundered into the Suez Crisis by which he came to be known to history.  Whether it was fully his idea or the benzedrine he was on at the time is now a matter of debate.  He failed and we had Macmillan, another Foreign Affairs man who avoided difficult decisions in home policy.

What is striking is the way much of Tory domestic policy in the brief time of Churchill's later period running into the time of Eden prefigured that of Margaret Thatcher twenty and more year later.  After it was the lost generation of British politics when we failed to admit, recognise and deal with the changes that were under way.

Hugh Gaitskell, for a short period Leader of Labour after Attlee, recognised it but he died too soon and we had Wilson, a numbers man who fiddled the figures and sincerely believed that a statistical plan would work.  Heath took us into Europe as the answer and now we realise that Europe is the problem.

It is one of the "What If's" of history.  Overall the Eden cabinet had a strong bias to Foreign Affairs.  There was still the view that the future lay in being a "Great Power" and the economy was a secondary priority.  Had he structured his cabinet to provide a better balance and to realise  and grasp the greater need for far attention to domestic issues it might have been very different.

For some time Jack Dash and others had their day.  But the world had begun to change more radically than any of them knew or might understand.  Containerisation of cargo had begun, which transformed transport costs and capability and now the old docks have gone.

And so have the dockers.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Demos And Demographics





One of our more respected and better regarded persons, David Attenborough, the naturalist, thinker and broadcaster, in that order, took some heavy flak when he suggested that global population growth at present rates was bad for the planet and for many other forms of life therein.

It indicates that we are at a stage at present when any attempt to look at population in terms of demographics, economic history or statistics risks the wrath of the racism lynch mobs and the ideologues determined to quash rational discussion.

So when there is an election in which migration and movement have become questions and the politicians are involved it all becomes very confused and emotional.  Also, there are consequences.

One of the latest ones is that it is suggested that we need to build 45,000 properties a year in London to cope with expected inflows.  This would cater for about one to two hundred thousand people a year in that area alone, perhaps a few more.

Once upon a time it is claimed we humans existed by hunting and gathering alone.  Whether it was some Garden of Eden or nasty, brutish and short is one of the debates. However, if we look at The Atlantic Isles alone what does this mean in terms of the numbers?

Again, we are in intricate and argued areas of academic debate based on limited evidence.  But if we take the thesis that an extended family then needed around fifty square miles to sustain itself, this means something like 2500 of them amounting, say, to between one and two hundred thousand across the whole area, perhaps a few more.

As humanity grew in numbers, clearly something would have to give and it did.  We changed to cultivation of crops and animals.  This enabled a continuing and rapid growth of numbers, curbed by periods of conflict, climate and weather pattern variations, diseases, and shortages in foot or water supply or in forms of energy needed to power systems.

If the academics who study all these things are correct there have been many times in the past when either locally or more generally events and happenings have impacted not simply on population growth but size.  With this has been movement with its own consequences.

At the moment we have a number of pots on the boil.  In the USA we are told that in California the San Andreas has been stuck in parts now for too long and could glitch.  There are overheated volcano watchers secretly hoping for Yellowstone to blow with the big one.  Others think it is time for a volcano series to bring about global cooling or a mini ice age.

There are those who watch the seas and extreme weather.  In the UK at this moment there is a hurricane out there, Gonzalo, which could knock out the power over large areas. And so on and so on, never mind long term energy, water and other matters.

The key one is food.  The Atlantic Isles has to import a great deal of it and does not hold large stocks.  It depends on complex and highly organised logistical systems for the mass of the population.  We who go down to the farms are but a very small minority.

Food has to be paid for, as well as being transported.  Food prices can vary.  As a lot of food supply and provision is governed in the last analysis by financial speculators and operators it is also dependent on sound credit and finance.

The more people and the more they are concentrated into crowded urban areas the more we are all reliant on the money systems as well as all the other facilities, few of which we have much control over.  And as we see time and time again these are neither reliable nor certain.

We have the pre-conditions in place for either problems or worse.  If it has happened before it can happen again and it has happened before very many times and it is all down to the numbers.

But let's not talk about it.