Autumn

I’ve been wanting to get back out on my mountain bike for months. As much as pulling the kids along is great fun(!), there’s nothing quite like shooting through the trees, twists and turns of a good single track. So I made a last-minute decision to go for a ride today, and what a lovely ride it was.

Autumn is coming and there was a low sun pouring through the trees.

After spending some time working in town I walked home the scenic route. Minster Pool was unusually calm and the setting sun provided just the right amount of illumination to show off those first few yellow leaves of autumn.

It’s a beautiful place.

New Star Trek series confirms there is no God in the Trek universe

After the nonsense of the “wormhole Gods” in DS9 I’m glad to read that there is no God in the new Star Trek series.

It’s no surprise that Star Trek TNG was a God-free zone, given creator Gene Roddenberry was an ardent atheist. Some of his thoughts on religion were worthy of so-called “New Atheists”:

For most people, religion is nothing more than a substitute for a malfunctioning brain.

I credit Star Trek with guiding a lot of my philosophy on life – my atheism and socialism – and I’m excited for the franchise. It’s welcome news, to me, that Star Trek Discovery will continue the future free of religion that Roddenberry envisioned.

Fight Dementia

On Saturday I’ll be going for a walk, and I need your help.

With me will be – at least – sixteen members of my family, all doing the Alzheimer’s memory walk in remembrance of my Dad.

Amazingly we’ve already beaten our target of raising £500 for the Alzheimer’s Society. The charity helps people with dementia and their families to deal with the effects that this horrible, incurable disease has. They also help fund research into the condition in the hopes that we might find a cure one day.

However, I want to raise much more than that. Here’s why…

Figures compiled just two years ago show that while combined government and charitable funding for cancer research reached £544 million, just £90m was spent on dementia research. The figures for coronary heart disease and stroke were £166m and £56m respectively. In contrast, the combined health and social care costs for dementia totalled £11.6 billion – more than cancer (£5bn), stroke (£2.9bn) and heart disease (£2.5bn) combined.

Dementia is a devastating incurable disease that causes a huge amount of suffering for families affected. Unless you’ve been through it it’s hard to articulate how painful it can be to experience.

We need more funding for the invaluable support the Alzheimer’s Society provides, and for the scientific research to end this disease once and for all.

Will you help me, by sponsoring me and my kids, Mom, sisters, brother-in-law, nieces, nephews, aunties and cousins to do the memory walk this Saturday and help us fight Dementia?

Donate here.

Review: Rennie Mackintosh Hotel, Glasgow

The good: Staff were friendly, the bed was comfortable and my room was reasonably well lit. All the usual refreshments were in the room, too.

The not-so-good; The floors throughout were wonky and creaky, coupled with a low ceiling made it feel a bit like a fairground crazy house. There is no lift, and access to the top (and my room) was via a long spiral staircase – not good when you have a big suitcase, and no assistance was offered. I could hear my neighbours pretty well from across the (slender) hallway. Better sound proofing wouldn’t go amiss.

Improvement needed: There needs to be more attention to detail in the rooms. By way of an example, on my room the TV didn’t work, the bathroom mirror light didn’t work, the bathroom extractor fan was noisy and blocked a lot light from the main bathroom light, and there was a mess of cables around the table for the kettle, hair dryer and so on.

My Travel To-Do List

Having never been much of a traveller, getting a job that means at least two trips per year has led to a big change in my attitude about travelling. In fact, the day I joined the company I was in Lisbon meeting my new team mates!

Since then I’ve been to Park City, New Orleans, Philadelphia, Vancouver, New York and Barcelona. It’s given me the thirst for more travel (especially to find good beer!) so I’m making a list of the places I want to visit.

  1. Brussels & Bruges (for the beer, of course)
  2. Florence (for the food)
  3. Japan (because I’m a short-arse)
  4. Seattle (beer again)
  5. Calgary (well, the Rockies, because I want to go stay in a log cabin in the snow!)
  6. Nova Scotia (for the cycling)
  7. Iceland (for the Aurora Borealis)
  8. San Francisco (I’m a techy, what do you expect?!)
  9. New Zealand (probably because of my hobbit feet)

I voted.

There not being a Something New candidate for Lichfield (maybe next time) I voted for;

  • Proper funding of the NHS,
  • An end to pay freezes for nurses and doctors and other public sector staff who make our country function,
  • The school that my son will attend in September to have more money, not fewer teachers, materials and educational trips,
  • My Mom to be allowed to leave her house (our family home for over forty years) to me and my sisters as she wishes, rather than it being taken by the government,
  • My Mom’s pension to be protected so she can enjoy her well-earned retirement,
  • My children, nieces and nephews to be given the chance of a good education – regardless of their parents’ wealth – so that they can become the highly skilled workers of the future this country needs,
  • Those I know on low wages to have the dignity of a real living wage, not the pittance of a minimum wage that doesn’t cover the cost of decent living standards,
  • A country I can be proud of, that doesn’t blindly engage in military intervention in other countries causing instability and fuelling terrorism,
  • A leader who has the basic humanity to reject the concept of knowingly and deliberately ordering the death of millions of innocent civilians,
  • Investment in our essential national infrastructure like rail, energy and communications,
  • An end to public money – OUR MONEY – being siphoned off into the back pockets of the billionaires who own our national infrastructure,
  • A government that uses immigration sensibly to meet the needs of our economy, not sets unachievable arbitrary targets to appease xenophobes.

I voted unselfishly.

I voted for the many.

I voted for Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party.

Thoughts on “equal” taxation, LTV, deficits and stable economies

Today I replied to a friend on Facebook who takes issue with Labour’s proposals to increase income tax, and he mentioned a few points which I wanted to take the time to respond to with more independent voices on those topics. I thought it worth sharing:

I won’t try to change your mind, only plead with you to make sure your vote is as informed as it can be by people outside the political parties who are obviously biased. To that end, let me share a few things with you about specific bits you’ve mentioned.

An “equal” tax, while it sounds good (I used to think so too!), actually creates INequality. Flat taxes are also not simpler, and are designed to demolish the state – a flat tax would destroy the NHS overnight for starters, and probably a lot more because the state would have a LOT (£bns) less income. See economist Richard Murphy on flat taxes and if you’re bored enough, his report on flat taxes.

I’m glad you agree Labour’s spending commitments are needed (so do 129 economists!) and with government services, like any other services, you get what you pay for. Lower tax will always mean fewer or poorer quality public services. You only have to look at the fact austerity has given us fewer police officers, less school funding, and an NHS crisis to confirm this is the case.

On the Land Value Tax, that’s actually a very sensible change (e.g. supported by the Institute for Fiscal Studies). You personally would probably end up paying less than you pay in council tax. Have a read of Full Fact on that one. There was a lot of scaremongering about LTV, most of which was nonsense, and besides the Tories would probably want to introduce something like it anyway.

As for the deficit, the first thing is to recognise is that the state is NOTHING like a household. In fact, sometimes a deficit is absolutely essential to a well-functioning economy. As for a sustainable economy, wages are falling and inflation has been rising for two years, which means people are less able to spend which takes money out of the economy, making it harder for businesses to succeed. If we judge them by their record, as Amber Rudd asked us to, they are not going a great job.

I don’t expect you to read all those 😀 but please please don’t just accept whatever the political party press releases and platitudes say. On a personal note, I’ve always benefited personally (in a financial sense) from Tory governments but I consider it my responsibility to vote for what’s best for everyone, not just me, and I could never countenance voting for them while they are cutting thousands of pounds from the school my son will go to.