A Dangerous Species

 Beware of the Financial Advisor. It hangs around in ex-pat haunts such as Doha's Champion's Bar, listens in to conversations for hints of affluence, and ingratiates itself with unsuspecting individuals who might be looking to invest some hard-earned money. It is likely to use a pseudonym, like Decent Bloke, Helpful Guy or John Hunt. But what it is really trying to do is scam you with some  dubious investment scheme   Having received its commission, it won't want to know you any more.

The need for pragmatic politics

Personally, I see no convincing evidence for the existence of supernatural beings. But even supposing I am wrong and the firmament is positively teeming with spirits, ghosts, angels, demons, saints, archangels, deities of every flavour, even that would not be reason enough for our political life to concern itself with anything other than immediate secular pragmatism. Politics, like ethics, should not ask "How did we get here?" Apportioning credit or blame for the status quo is an exercise for armchair philosophers. Government should address two questions: "Who is suffering genuine hardship?" and "What can we do to help?" There is work enough in a programme based on these two questions to keep politicians busy for years. If in doubt as to the meaning of genuine hardship, Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs is a good starting point. As long as we have people struggling to find food, shelter and basic security, we should not even give ear-time to the complaints o

Gamma corrected payscales

Instead of wasting time with prime ministers, chancellors and 'independent' pay review bodies (all of whom seem only to understand percentages and not very well at that), we should give the task of resolving the various pay disputes to a Broadcast Engineer. Here's how it would then work: Decide on the salary level at which nobody can really justify a further increase right now. For argument, let's say £100k. Call that 'peak level' and normalise to it. Now apply gamma correction to the entire workforce earning less than £100k. By this approach, the hierarchy is preserved (i.e. nobody overtakes anyone else) but those most in need receive proportionately more generous increases. This is far cheaper and fairer than applying a flat rate percentage. It is also simpler. Having fixed the peak figure (e.g. £100k) it only remains to decide on gamma. For example, for gamma = 0.7, someone currently on £10k would receive an increase of £9,950, someone on £50k an increase of

A Question for Republicans

Krishna teaches that the eternal soul journeys from unmanifest to manifest through conception, pregnancy and birth. Death, whenever and however it occurs, returns the soul to the unmanifest where it awaits rebirth. The point being that the eternal soul cannot be destroyed. Abortion, like any form of killing merely destroys the manifest state, but the soul is imperishable. What is the Christian view on this? Shouldn't the fate of the soul be of more concern to the faithful than the fate of the body?

How to weigh a car using a tape measure and a tyre pressure gauge

There are two pretty good ways to weigh a car: Drive it to the nearest public weighbridge and wait your turn. Look up the manual under General Specifications, ‘kerb weight’ But let's suppose the nearest public weighbridge is fifty miles away and you've lost the manual (and temporarily forgotten how to use public libraries and the Internet) and the burning urge to weigh your car just won't go away- what can you do about it? The good news is, you need hardly any equipment. All you need, for a reasonably accurate result is: a hand-held tyre pressure gauge which can be analogue or digital a retractable steel measuring tape a calculator, pencil and paper, or a good head for mental arithmetic The method Park the car on some clean, level concrete Observe that the car is held up by its four tyres (!) Measure the width of the tread of one tyre: e.g. 6 inches Measure the length of tread in contact with the ground: e.g. 7 inches Work out the area of tread touching the ground: e.g. 6 x

Not For Me

Not For Me is the working title of a new song. It's a work in progress, awaiting a finalised lyric, but the musical elements are all in place. Hope you like it!