Louis XV

This is my Louis XV chair, which with folies de grandeure I think of as my 'reading chair'. It's right below the window where the resident smokes his Galois and looks out at the Loire.

I went to La Souris Gourmande for lunch, and a fellow diner was a famous person. I didn't recognise him myself, but people came up to him and asked for selfies. All I can say is that he wore immaculately white trainers, and that he ate fondue with two friends.

You distracted me there, but in that chair I was reading C. P. Snow's The Sleep Of Reason. I think he may be one of my favourite authors. There's a bit where he says that free will may not exist, but you have to go in as though it did. It's not a very satisfactory answer to the problem, but it's the same (provisional) conclusion I've come to.

Well the task for me now is to find a suitable bar to watch France v. Romania in the opening game of Euro 2016.


Mon Ami Jaeger

He's allowed on the chairs at the café!

Hello Again Jaeger

Through a great green front door, thick with decades of layers of paint. Up ancient, rickety, Dickensian stairs in the gloom, each step yielding a creak. Then into the apartment looking out onto the Loire in the dazzling sun.

I've renewed my friendship with the black Labrador called Jaeger at Les Blancs Manteaux, and thereby came to an act of civic heroism. An elderly man walking a small dog was trying to hold back the Jaeger, but was too frail. I promptly grabbed Jaeger by the collar and the old man gratefully carried on his way. The people of the town have commissioned a statue in honor of my bravery.

The Loire burst its banks in the deluge, and there are still parts of the riverside path that are inundated. Walking along, a woman on a bike stopped and asked if the way I had come was flooded. I replied that it wasn't flooded, and it was clear for her to keep cycling along. She didn't seem to grasp what I was saying, and so I became quite insistent that the way was clear. This went on for some time until she pointed behind her at a flood that I was about to encounter. It dawned on that she hadn't been asking me about her way ahead, she had been warning me about my way ahead. I laughed, but she did not.

Even though I'm a hypochondriac, I'm convinced I've got a sleeping disorder.


Police Commissioner Elections

Just remembered to vote in the Police Commissioner elections. My area is Avon and Somerset and my vote was:

Kerry Barker (Labour)
Chris Briton (Green)

I voted Barker because of his policy of helmet mounted cameras, and Briton for his drug decriminalisation stance.


UK Budget 2016

Looking at the main points of the UK 2016 budget, I'm pleased that the Chancellor is cutting spending, but I'm not happy about where he's cutting it. Here are some comments on the specific items:

  • Abolition of Class 2 National Insurance contributions. Good. National Insurance is a regressive tax, and should be abolished entirely.
  • The threshold at which people pay 40% income tax will rise from £42,385 to £45,000 in April 2017. Bad. If there's money to spare for tax cuts it should be used to cut the taxes of the poor.
  • Tax-free personal allowance to rise from £11,000 to £11,500. Good. This is cutting taxes for the poor, which tackles inequality.
  • Capital Gains Tax to be cut. Neither. Capital Gains should be taxed at exactly the same rate as income.
  • Annual Isa limit to rise from £15,240 to £20,000. Bad. ISAs should be abolished. They're bureaucratic and the money should instead go to abolishing taxes on the poor.
  • New "lifetime" Isa for the under-40s. Bad. As above.
  • New state-backed savings scheme. Bad. As above.


An Anarchy Of Nations

Walking through Green Park Station in Bath, a man from the Leave the EU campaign saw me and proffered a leaflet. I said that I was in favour of remaining in the EU. He asked why and I explained that at the European level we've got democracy at the moment, but if we were to leave the EU we'd go back to having Europe as an anarchy of nations (two world wars etc). He said, 'well if you follow that logic we'd have a world government!', I said, 'yes we should have a world government', at which he recoiled and gave me up as a hopeless case.


Dear Ben Howlet, please vote against the bombing of Syria

Here's the letter I sent to my MP Ben Howlett:
Dear Ben Howlett,

I am writing to urge you to vote against the bombing of Syria.

The onus is on those making the case for military action to show that it will do more good than harm. In my view they have not done this.

The legality of bombing is also in question. In order to go ahead with the bombing there would need to be a security council resolution passed that would allow it. As far as I no there has been no such resolution.

We do know that bombing raids will put the lives of our air crew at risk, and we do know that innocent civilians will die, no matter how careful we are. And for what? With the Russians supporting Assad, Turkey against the Kurds, Turkey and Russia in conflict with each other, Assad fighting everyone else in Syria including civilians, bombing by the USA and allies, the situation is so confused that it's impossible to be certain of the consequences of our actions.

Instead I advocate that the UK take two actions:

* Continuing with the safe havens outside Syria that we're already funding.
* Attempting to create an international strategy under the UN that would block all arms going into Syria, and also a financial blockade against ISIS.

I am not a pacifist, and in the case of ISIS in Iraq we are right to continue military action as this is entirely legal and has the clear aim of restoring Iraq to the Iraqi government.


Tony Locke.


Will The Future Workplace Still Need You?

My friend Kazim Ladimeji has written a book called Will The Future Workplace Still Need You?, which I've just finished reading. As he says, this isn't a book of philosophical speculation, but a practical guide on what action the individual should take to avoid being replaced by a robot. The time-scale goes from the present to about 20 years in the future.

One of the things that impressed me about this book was that it's based on a number of rigorous studies, and concrete examples are given that are properly referenced. In short, it's well researched.

Kazim tells us about jobs that have already been automated, and then those that will be automated in the near future. He also talks about jobs that have a low probability of being automated, and new jobs that don't exist yet. These new jobs include Nostalgist, Rewilder and Robot Counsellor. When I saw the title Robot Counsellor I thought it meant people that talked to robots that had problems. To find out what it actually means, you'll have to read the book!