For the rain it raineth every day

When I was a young boy in Poplar I used to look out of the window on the first floor of the maisonette where we lived when it rained. Our yard was made of large concrete cement flags, bound with bitumen but the slabs were unevenly laid in this Festival of Britain development so rainwater collected in large puddles and when rain it the puddles they made bubbles.

When that I was and a little tiny boy,

With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
A foolish thing was but a toy,
For the rain it raineth every day.

Today we are puzzled that so much rain has fallen this December; we look for reasons why so much of the places where people live are affected by floods while other places, previously fertile, are affected with drought. In most places we watch through the window of the media and do not understand whether what we see is the beginning of the end or simply a temporary change in the order of things. And so we speculate and enact out our speculations.

 

A great while ago the world begun,
With hey, ho, the wind and the rain,
But that’s all one, our play is done,
And we’ll strive to please you every day

 

Happy New Year

The Trends of 2015

It is almost shirtsleeve weather in London. The quiet interregnum between Christmas and New Year is usually a time of cold dark days, but this year has been warm and bright in London.

Soon the media will start their reviews of 2015, and tell us who did what, who succeeded, who failed and who died. These reviews seem to avoid the trends which are becoming more prevalent. Most of these trends move in undesirable directions. Here are some examples:

  1. The trend of police everywhere to be more ready to use weapons and more ready to use violence in circumstances that do not require it.
  2. The trend of governments everywhere to be more authoritarian and less liberal.
  3. The trend of joining wars because “something must be done” without bothering to think whether doing something as opposed to doing nothing will make things worse.
  4. The trend of lawmakers to enact new laws, bad laws detailed laws which wrongly regulate the lives of people.
  5. The trend of cowardice, which in all kinds of ways, is displacing courage.
  6. The trend of promoting law, at the expense of justice.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas 2015

Limited and Fastidious Intervention in Iraq and Syria

It is an odd war that is being fought in Syria and Iraq. It seems that the intervention of foreign powers in the war, albeit limited and fastidious, has one aim of wishing to expunge the soi disant Islamic State (which is neither Islamic nor a state) but other aims of supporting or toppling President Assad, depending on which intervention you are thinking about. There are other subsidiary aims – a home land for the Kurds, expansion of neighbouring states, political ideology and philosophical and religious dogma. War makes death; if you fight for principles those principles must be stronger than life and must support life. Continue reading

Descendants usually praise their ancestors: ours are likely to curse us

It is unseasonably warm in London; I suppose that it is sod’s law that we get a warm winter when energy prices are falling. This illustrates the difficulty that policy makers have when they deal with two key and interlinked areas of policy – energy and climate change.

The warm winter and the record rainfall in parts of Britain are linked to climate change; we do not know enough to be able to claim a direct causal link,  but with 2105 likely to be the warmest year on record, thin Arctic sea ice in winter, and unusual weather events are all classic precursors of climate change, according to climatologists.

It is not our problem today (apart from those affected by these events) but is likely to be the problem that our descendants have to deal with in practical terms. They will look at the talking done at meetings like the Paris Climate Change Conference which results in opportunistic money grabs by some nations and a new improved target of holding back temperature rises to half a degree less than the previous target, and wonder about our intelligence and wonder at our greed.

Descendants usually praise their ancestors: ours are likely to curse us.

Space: the Game is Worth a Candle

A great deal of fuss was made about the first “official” Briton in space. He went to the Russian built space station in a Russian built rocket with another Russian and an American, and joined the roll of hundreds of people who have visited space. This international co-operation works in space, but not on planet earth where the same nations are making accusations of perfidy against each other.  Continue reading

How to Defeat Isis

I am not a pacifist but I do abhor war. History teaches that we must defend ourselves from aggression and nations are entitled to do that and when they do that they must pursue their defence with all possible means that accord to the rules of war and are consistent with accepted civilised conduct. The activities of ISIS in Syria and Iraq are considered by many world leaders to be a threat to many nations and those leaders believe that threat extends to acts of terrorism carried out in places other than Syria and Iraq.  Continue reading