Poor Things

Written 02 February 2024 I saw this last night at Plymouth Arts Cinema. The cinema itself was much fuller than normal, possibly because the film is nominated for Best Picture, but it was good to watch a film in a great venue with lots of other people; about a dozen is a good turn out for the films we tend to go and see there! It’s a long film, about two hours and twenty minutes long and I have to say that for the first hour and three quarters I was not enjoying it at all. The film presents us...

Plan 75

Written 26 May 2023 I went with my wife to see this last night at the excellent Plymouth Arts Cinema. Described as “Japan’s submission for this year’s Oscars…set in a chilling, near future in which the country has gone to extreme lengths to manage its ageing population and consequent economic distress” I was very much looking forward to it. I’m interested in end of life and demographic questions as I see them growing in importance over the coming years as well as providing a real insight into fundamental shifts in societal values currently underway. Plan75 is a joint Japanese/French production....

Labour’s Churchill by Andrew Adonis

Written 26 July 2022 I have had John Bew’s biography of Clement Attlee (“Citizen Clem”) on my list of books to read for some time and will get round to it soon enough. But I was after something a bit shorter, saw this one pop up (it’s about half the length) and decided to give it a go. This is a biography of Ernest Bevin, a hero of the Labour Movement. I think there are likely to be more definitive biographies available, but for someone who wants to know the facts and to get a real sense of the man...

A Glimmer of Light? Possibly?

Written 24 June 2022 It’s now six years since the UK voted to leave the EU. I voted to leave, despite not because of the Leave and Remain campaigns, and I have absolutely no regrets in voting the way I did. I was a bit floaty on the day, the campaign was really boring but also hysterical but in the event I put my cross in the leave box because I could do no other. I was a member of the Labour Party and delivered leaflets for it in Slough in the 1983 general election, when leaving the (then) EEC...

Where Is My Flying Car by David J. Storrs Hall

Written 24 June 2022 I heard about this book recently and thought it had a catchy title so read it this week. The book is written by a nanotechnologist and is really a stock take of how human progress and development appear in many ways to have substantially halted over the last half a century and to put forward reasons for why that’s happened. It does this through the story of the flying car. Or rather, it uses the stalling of the development of flying cars to illustrate why we haven’t got the “future we were promised”. It’s a pretty...

A Water Tax

Written 15 June 2022 Dominic Frisby wrote a really good and thought provoking piece here on water as real estate, the housing crisis and tax. Like him I am a bit of a Georgist in these matters and I thought he outlined a really positive vision for how we can use our available resources to make our towns and cities nicer as well as build housing. Alright, the houses are floating, but they’re still houses in my book! It’s well worth a read. I worked for about five years for Sutton Harbour Holdings in Plymouth, which owns Sutton Harbour (including...

Sustainable Energy – Without the Hot Air by David J. C. MacKay

Written 05 June 2022 It’s become increasingly clear to me over the years that abundant, reliable and cheap energy is the cornerstone of progress we have enjoyed in the developed world for many years now. It also lies at the heart of environmental questions that are set to be at the centre of our political life for the rest of my life and so I’ve been looking to read more on Energy this year. I started with The Prize by Daniel Yergin which deals with the history of the oil industry (reviewed here), then Helen Thompson’s Disorder (which touches on...

An airport, regulation, stagnation and ill feeling

Written 30 May 2022 The Plymouth Herald reports today that the future of Plymouth Airport is once again “under discussion”. This is a long running saga down in these parts and is a subject I have some familiarity with having worked for Sutton Harbour Group (SHG, the current airport owner) between 2013 and 2018. I’m not interested in the question of whether or not the site has a viable future as an airport, but as an interesting illustration of all the things that are wrong with the way we approach infrastructure, housing and (my main interest) taxation in this country....

Has he still not gone yet?

Written 24 May 2022 Partygate has never really gone away and has burst back to the top of the news this week as pictures emerged of a party in No10 in November and we are going to have the Sue Gray report published this week. It’s looking tricky for Boris Johnson and it remains to be seen whether he can navigate the coming days. I don’t really have too much to add to my earlier post from January on the question of whether Boris Johnson should resign. I think he should, and I still hope he does, but I can’t...

That Pesky Podcaster

Written 3 February 2022 I’m still on a Twitter break, while dipping in almost exclusively on read only mode. I often get the urge to respond or put something out, particularly if kicking back in the pub and scrolling through, but it’s reasonably under control. Goodness, haven’t things blown up at Spotify? I signed up for my free trial a week or so ago (for the music really, I have used Podcast Player for podcasts until now which does me just fine). Neil Young, Joni Mitchell have pulled their music, apparently with the aim of pressuring Spotify to remove the...