Thursday, 8 December 2016

Friendly meal

For a meeting with a friend of Anita's we chose The Crab Shack for lunch.  A small restaurant on the sea front at Worthing, it served us all excellent seafood.    We took a very short stroll around the town before eating.  This busking trumpeter played very well, to a cheesy pre-recorded accompaniment.  There's a lot of recorded accompaniments on the market these days, and for various instruments; some of them are cheesy, but it's the quality of the live performance that counts.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Coastal walk with little sis

A bright, sunny, late afternoon, just before sundown.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Trumpetty trump

Anita wondered if they sell trump cards?

Thursday, 1 December 2016

A leisurely walk on a bright crisp day

The façade of the new museum looks shiny and new (because it is).  Some of the mill barrages on the Erve are open at this time of year "to clear the river of mud", but not, apparently, this one.

Frost on the leaves, and a deep blue sky reflection in the river.

Another view of the museum, and a feline lord of all he surveys.

Wednesday, 30 November 2016


I have enough oak planks to finish one side of the compost heap, but not the rest.  So I went to our local DIY to price up something to make up the other dividers.   A cheap option would be to use chicken wire, but I have concerns that it would get damaged too easily, so if wood cladding is not too much more expensive, I'll use wood instead.

French for cladding: bardage (m), and the cheapest bardage at the DIY is treated pine - it looks solid enough, it's identified as "bardage agri" (presumably for agricultural use), and it's just under 9 euro the square metre - not too bad.   I need just a bit more that 2m square per divider, so we're looking at say 20 euro per divider.   Only it's not expected back in stock until mid-December.  I will have to wait.

I looked up the verb barder, and the most common usage appears to be in the phrase "ça va barder", which means something like "sparks will fly", "there'll be trouible", or if you prefer "the shit will hit the fan".   Alternatively it describes loading something up, or covering e.g. a chicken with bacon, or armouring a horse or person.   You always wanted to know that, didn't you?

Anyway, here's the outer side of the compost heap, clad in rustic oak panels and finished in Cuprinol "Woodland Green" waterproofer.

Monday, 28 November 2016

What are politicians for?

The Archdruid in his weekly report last Thursday defended the virtues of trade barriers and customs tarrifs between trading countries.  It's an unusual argument to hear today, when free trade is widely accepted, in economic terms, as being beneficial.  He argues that trade barriers between countries help establish a trade equilibrium, and he observes that free trade between nations has resulted in the past, and is resulting today, in enormous inequalities in wealth, along with increased poverty.

Donald Trump has persuaded Ford not to transfer their small car production to Mexico where costs are lower.  This is good news for American Ford workers, but bad news for Mexicans.  Mexicans on average will be poorer; the American car workers will be richer, and the American public will be slightly poorer, having to pay more for their Fords.  Economists will tell you that as a result, mankind overall is worse off as a result.

Let's imagine a large island, a continent that is a single country.  Business goes on as usual.  Goods are traded freely across its entire surface, people move about according to their desires and money flows where it will within the border.  This is normal national management and it proceeds as well as the government of the day can make it.

Now let's imagine that accidents of history, war and politics have resulted in this same continent being divided into three different countries, each taking about 1/3 of the area, with borders dictated by nothing but the hazards of time and chance.  Suddenly trade barriers between these areas are a good thing?  Why should that be?  Our Archdruid argues that they reduce inequality, and he might well be right, but what is the difference between our continent of one country, and the same continent divided into three countries, that necessiates trade barriers in order to reduce inequality?

Britain comprises three nations: England, Wales and Scotland.  When Wales play Scotland at rugby, it's an international match.  The three nations form a free trade area, with monetary union, free movement of goods, services and people, and it has been successful for .... well, a long time.  It's so transparent that many people forget that it is a successful example of monetary union and free trade between nations.   The difference between Britain and our hypothetical continent of three countries is that Britain is centrally governed, and has a central and universal tax system; fiscal union.

When companies are free to move money into different countries with different tax regimes and different costs of business, the money tends to flow to the most advantageous place and stay there.  What doesn't happen is that it gets freely distributed around the countries where the company operates, and it doesn't get taxed everywhere either.   (Apple for example sits on an enormous cash pile held outside of the USA, and has, I believe, borrowed money in the USA because it's cheaper than paying the tax).

Is this the root cause of the increasing transfer of wealth to the 1% (or 0.1%)?    Does this mean that the people arguing for fiscal union in Europe are right?   Noting as an aside that the tragedy of the commons applies to the planet as a whole and not just bits of it, do we need a world government?

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Compost progress

The compost heap project is progressing.  I have concreted in the four posts that mark the corners of the first area, and marked one with the Hand of Sauron to ward off evil spirits.

The sides are being prepared, the idea being to create a faintly rustic effect by using the old unfinished oak fence panels.  They don't look very promising (they're starting to rot), but I'll dry them off, slather them with wood preserver, and paint them with green Cuprinol on the outside, and black creosote on the inside.   The far plank on the trestles is as rescued from the garden, the near one has been worked on to take off the worst of the surface rot.

You can see the current compost heap behind the posts.  It's big.   Once the new area is properly in place I can shred the outer layers of compost and deploy the good stuff underneath around the garden.

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