Friday, 30 January 2015


Here's a picture of our bird feeder taking during the recent snowfalls

Friday, 23 January 2015

Your money or mine?

When is once not for you to be able be able to spend as you wish?
It's an interesting question put into focus the other day when a UKIP candidate suggested welfare claimants should not be be using taxpayers money to get about in a car.
One reason Mr Farage gets a free pass with me is he stepped in, indicated this wasn't party policy and arranged for the candidate to be spoken to about it which is quite right but I think he's done us a favour as mainstream parties have floated ideas of a similar nature before now.
I think one good starting point is to remember many UK citizens are also welfare claimants working or not as they get tax credits not just Job seekers allowance or payments for disabilities. 
Tax credits themselves are meant to make up the costs of say child care or the difference between what you might earn and what is recognized as cost of living in our society that can include the costs of getting about or of in the general sense of being entertained.
In that sense then, the proposition may not make sense as in some districts public transportation may be poor to non existent which the candidate suggest they ought to use and may even able a person to take up a job offer.
If for example I were to spend money on say model railways as a claimant, provided I don't go short, should this be prevented?
To me having been given a sum of money society recognizes as what it costs to live, I can find the money to it then is my choice and my right as an independent adult requiring no approval by some back bench Member of Parliament.
He has no more a right narrowly define what I spend any the more than I have of his which I pay for by taxes levied on me.
Some have argued in favour of specific vouchers to be given instead for say food provisions, clothing etc but it would be unlikely a legal requirement to accept would be put on all retailers so often the least expensive places would not accept and there is the problem of how that would work with online sales which many families use for food.
To me it's hard to argue on the one hand in favour of monthly payments, direct personal budgeting and bill paying on the grounds of treating everyone as responsible adults while pushing for a system more akin to treating them as children with preset allowances with limited redeeming.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

On freedom

Last week wasn't exactly a great week for me so sorry in advance for this being a bit later than usual.
The weeks international events leave me thinking very much what is the meaning of freedom, how that ties into responsibility and so on.
Freedom as a concept for me can take on two differing angles, the first being the freedom to do that which isn't prescribed and the other is the freedom from certain conditions such as poverty, discrimination and needless offence.
One thing that most of us living if not raised in the West  take very much for granted is the proposition we have the right to express any opinion on any subject be it face to face, online or in the media usually subject to some rider such as not inciting riot or hatred against those that are the subject of them.
That may still leave a large swathe of opinion that some may feel insults them, their institutions and beliefs and poses the question "What is the the appropriate response?" if you feel that's so.
We can express our disapproval in the form of reported interviews outlining where we feel we've been misinterpreted or portrayed offensively or write letters to newspapers.
We have the right to protest such views, publications and  programs provided it is peaceful, being within the law.
We have the right to request something be withdrawn or removed because we find it offensive although I would stress that not only isn't something we can just demand as of right in a free society as it weakens our collective freedoms if exercised frequently.
Do we have the the right to injure or kill those who offend us? My answer is a categorical no no matter how angry we may feel because we disrespect the freedom that allows us our own right to live our lives only subject to the Laws that apply to all.
As the mayor of Rotterdam, himself from an immigrant background put it more colourfully than I would , if you so dislike living in the free society you came to wishing to remove much of it, then perhaps you're in the wrong Country because you cannot expect to change any Country whose people you joined their fundamental values just for you even if you were right.
It's why we came.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

The Abbey Road merry-go-round

Christmas is over so we have the first post of the New Year.
Sometimes you like an album that much you spend quite a bit in the pursuit of what may appear to be the best sounding lp version and so you from time to time compare them and that was the years first major activity.
This is an album I love and it's one probably you do, Abbey Road by the Beatles and in the decades I've had a number copies go through my hands.
The one I've had for a good while was a late 70's UK analogue cut copy (a -4/3HTM set of stampers), a copy many do like the sound of but there are a few clicks on the first side of my copy and this tends to be one album it can be hard to find a copy that plays mint no matter how the surfaces may look.
I did get around September a European pressed digitally cut copy based on the 2009 cd remasters and issued in 2012.
That cd was pretty good although like the whole series there was a extra bit of limiting the sound compared to the originals as well as a bit of bass boost I wasn't so keen on.
The lp when it arrived proved to be a disappointment for while it was dead quiet (tm), it sounded dead with very little high frequency content especially on side one, with a few of us saying it sounded nothing like the cd.
I remembered a much hyped US digitally cut copy from 1995 that some at a infamous music forum liked and ordered up what I thought was a copy but it transpired to be the US pressed version of the 2012 lp.
My heart sank.
When I finally got around to opening the shrink wrapping and playing though this surprisingly sounded much more better and research into it suggested part of the process used to make the stampers, the plating, had been done by RTI in the States so they didn't just use the European parts.
While this does lack a few of the subtitles of a UK analogue cut original it is very good indeed.
Just for interest I also acquired a Japanese pressing from 1976 (EAS80650) which was the quietest of the bunch for background noise but the tape it used to cut it from clearly were inferior to the UK or even that US digital version and also had a very noticeable rise in high notes that jarred and I can't recommend it.
Of course the real answer to this search will come when a new analogue sourced from the tapes version is cut and pressed in the way the Beatles In Mono and RED and BLUE stereo compilations last year have. They sounded fantastic.
If you must have new for the silence and don't wish to pony up a lot for a really mint new copy, it's the current US pressed copy you want.
If your prepared to take a chance for the current best ever a  used -4/-3HTM or 2-/-2 UK set of stamped copies are what you need