Five All Time Greatest Bail Outs


I love banking bail outs, and so should you.  What would life be like without them?  Without bail outs bankers would have to behave like the rest of us, and where is the fun in that?  Of course, banking could be a pretty straight forward job.  You look after people’s savings by investing them in profitable enterprises.  The savers get a return on their money, the enterprises thrive and a little way down the road society as a whole is richer.  It is not very different to laying bricks or running a shop really.  A bit of common sense and some hard work; you make a nice living and do your bit to improve life for everyone else.

But be honest, wouldn’t that just be so dull!  It is a lot more fun to lend out more money than you actually have to lots of very risky projects which pay a good return.  Continue reading Five All Time Greatest Bail Outs

Pussy Riot – the background

Pussy Riot (Thanks to Wikipedia for the image)


Pussy Riot are the only Russian punk group I have heard of.  I think I am in good company on that, as they seem to be a lot more interested in getting publicity for their political protests than their art. On the whole I don’t approve of either religion or authoritarian tendencies in nominally democratic governments.  So I am sympathetic in a general sort of way to what Pussy Riot seem to be doing.  On the other hand, religious people are entitled to hold whatever beliefs they have and to practice those beliefs.  And those rights ought to include not having a punk band set up without permission in a cathedral.  So I am not sure that Pussy Riot have got their tactics quite right. Continue reading Pussy Riot – the background

Wisconsin and the Gracchi

There is no particular consensus on who was responsible for the current financial crisis.  Credit was definitely involved somewhere along the way.  But was it the people who lent it, borrowed it or regulated it who are culpable?  Nobody seems to know, though some people have some pretty strong opinions.  But there is one group of people who would seem to be in the clear.  Organised Labour don’t advance loans, issue credit ratings or set the rules for banking operations.  So whatever else you think about your local union, you have to at least concede they didn’t wreck either Wall Street or the EU. Continue reading Wisconsin and the Gracchi

Diamond Jubilee Special Post

Well I have just got back from a street party to celebrate the 60th anniversary of our dear Queen’s coronation.  I have had some beer, almost but not quite got up to dance and joined in with singing God Save the Queen.  I always enjoy this kind of shared national experience, though I don’t really count as a flag waving patriot.  I did actually buy the Sex Pistol’s God Save the Queen as a teenager when it came out, and I can easily put an argument forward for why it is an anachronistic institution that we should get rid of.  But would I get rid of the monarchy if I could?  I don’t think so.  It does have some advantages, and it is hard to imagine anything that could easily take its place.  As a lover of history I can’t help thinking about what an event like today’s tells us. Continue reading Diamond Jubilee Special Post

What have the Southwark Good Stewards got against gays?


Have you ever had two tabs open on your browser and found an unexpected connection between the pages?  Here’s a thing. Is there something relating these two?  In one there is a story about conservative Anglicans in London who have come up with a great wheeze.  They have set up an organisation called the Southwark Good Stewards Company.  This is a way of making sure their cash doesn’t fund congregations that support liberal things like toleration of homosexuals.  Continue reading What have the Southwark Good Stewards got against gays?

Lessons of Greece

Soviet communism was a failure.  In particular, it failed by the most basic of measures.  You wouldn’t want to live there.  By the time it ended just about everyone was fed up of it and it has subsequently had few mourners.  Certainly nobody is likely to get very far trying to bring it back. But I think that even though it basically didn’t achieve what it set out to do – which was improve the standard of living of the average worker – the story of the USSR isn’t quite as bleak as most people think of it. Continue reading Lessons of Greece

UK Local Elections – History Books Review Analysis

As I blogged recently, I don’t follow the news very much on the grounds that I am better informed if I don’t.   But there are some stories I make a conscious effort to keep up on, one of which is what is happening in politics.  But I try to take a broad view.  I want to know what is going on, not just what has happened and certainly not what an overpaid drunk with the attention span of a chipmunk that needs the loo thinks.  So let’s have a look at the recent local elections in the UK. Continue reading UK Local Elections – History Books Review Analysis

I am better informed about current affairs if I read history and ignore the news

I think it must have been about 2004 that the penny dropped.  But habits are strong things, and it probably wasn’t until around 2008 that I had modified my behaviour.  Following the news makes you less informed than reading history.  I still watch the news when something is going on that has caught my attention.  Who wouldn’t want to hear Barak Obama’s first speech as president?  And long running events like the Arab Spring and the financial crisis have a sort of soap opera like ability to keep you tuning in to see what happens next.  And it pays to know the name of the head of state of countries in Europe.  But I no longer feel that I need to consume the news every day or follow every twist and turn of what is going on with any great degree of attention.  Instead, I have increased the amount of history I read.  As a result, I feel better informed. Continue reading I am better informed about current affairs if I read history and ignore the news

Libya – What does the West Really Want from it?

Libya was the first country in which bombs were dropped from an aircraft during a conflict.  The year was 1911 and the bombers were Italian fighting the Ottoman Empire for control of what was at that time one of their provinces.  The use of this advanced technology gave the Italians a distinct advantage over the Turks, but led to a huge escalation in costs making the war much more expensive than had been anticipated.  Continue reading Libya – What does the West Really Want from it?

Return the Elgin Marbles

I’ve thought that the Elgin Marbles should be returned to Greece ever since I first saw them at the British Museum.  The display at the museum is fine, but as soon as I saw them in three dimensions I knew it was wrong to keep them.  I can’t explain it logically or make any eloquent case in the way Steven Fry has recently done.  I just think that they should be back where they came from. Continue reading Return the Elgin Marbles