Official statistics

Written 24 June 2021 I saw in the BBC a really quite big story this week with very wide ranging implications. Well it seems like a big story to me, then I find stories in the statistics/economics/public policy/Brexit space pretty interesting, but I do accept that this puts me in a small minority! Anyway, the story concerns the numbers of EU nationals applying for settled status in the UK as the deadline approaches and the BBC coverage is here. It appears that as at 31 May 2021 some 5.6 million applications had been made under the scheme. The UK government...

The Remembrance of Earth’s Past

Written 24 June 2021 I thought my next venture into the science fiction genre would be to read The Dispossessed by Ursula Le Guin and while it’s still on the list I didn’t find myself approaching the prospect with any real relish so looked for something else. These books were recommended to me on Twitter and having read the review of the first book in the series I thought I’d give it a go, or at least read the first book The Three-Body Problem. I have started writing this review despite being just half way through the third and final...

Green Philosophy

Written 17 June 2021 Having read and reviewed his Fools, Frauds and Firebrands just a short time ago I wasn’t expecting to read something else by Roger Scruton for some time.  But sticking to resolutions is something I’ve never been terribly good at, so here I am reviewing another book of his. I think it came up on my kindle at a particularly appealing price, so maybe that is what tipped me into downloading it. Anyway, I found it a much more interesting and engaging book in every sense. It is easier to read, touching on a narrower and more...

The Left Hand of Darkness

Written 23 May 2021 I came upon this book while searching for my next read and it popped up in a number of lists of can’t miss science fiction. Written in 1969 and set on a planet inhabited by “ambisexual” or androgynous humans who mainly live in a state where the male/female distinction is redundant it has also gained real status as it deals with the absence of our conventional notions of gender, so it is pretty topical. The book is part of a series of six novels (the Hainish Cycle). It is not difficult to find reviews eulogising the...

Shtisel

Written 17 May 2021 I have just finished series 3 of Shtisel on Netflix. Or rather, I watched series 1 and 2 last year, started watching series 3 and then my wife said after watching a couple of episodes that she’d always wished she’d watched the earlier series so we went right back to the beginning and so I watched it all the way through. Israel seems a real hotspot for producing good TV over recent years. Well, I say that and it’s my experience having watched Shtisel itself and before that Fauda, but I have to say I watch...

A Fine Balance

Written 12 May 2021 This novel is described as an epic, it is certainly sweeping and describes the interconnected lives of characters in post-Independence India. Most of the storyline is set during the time of the emergency laws of the mid-1970s and it wraps up shortly after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in 1984. The cast takes in Muslims and Hindus and Parsees, and it is set largely in Mumbai (the big “City on the Sea” in the novel is never named but it is clearly Mumbai).* The book is long, but as with all well written books it soon...

England and Ideology

Written 8 May 2021 I’m writing this as the Hartlepool by election result and most council elections are through but before having final results from Scotland and London. Certainly more than enough to keep the opinion columnists busy, and to be honest it’s unlikely I’ll be able to add too much to the huge amounts that will be written over the coming days and weeks let alone the reams over recent years on the realignment in English politics we are seeing. What we are seeing is the working out through the first past the post system of changes that have...

Scotland (1)

Written 6 May 2021 I’d been meaning to put something down on Scotland before now but find myself on the day of what we are told are huge elections writing in rather a hurry. It’s perhaps indicative of the state of the United Kingdom that one feels one must make an apology for writing a piece on Scottish independence as an Englishman, but never mind. I’m English (with some connections to Scotland) and a UK citizen so I do have an interest in the question. My position on Scottish independence is that I would be rather sad if Scotland did...

Fools, Frauds and Firebrands | Thinkers of the New Left

Written 3 May 2021 I had “something by Roger Scruton” on my list of books to read this year and have managed it. I’ve become more interested in Roger Scruton over the last few years and have come to see him as a thinker who touches on very important themes and deserves to be taken seriously, not least because he is at least able to articulate what a political conservative is, a task that seems to be beyond all politicians standing for notionally conservative parties. When I was growing up in the 1980s he was, with a small group of...

Technical 1

Written 28 April 2021 This is just to form some sort of record on what I’ve done: I started from basically having effectively no knowledge on how to build a blog, and that’s still the case. I have something up and running, I understand a few basic concepts, but I have a very long way to go and lots still to learn. Rather naively, when I looked into starting a blog about a year ago I got my self a WordPress account and then thought that was it. I was away. I don’t know when I realised that in fact...