2010-10-26

Tax Child Benefit And Keep It Universal

I disagree with the government's decision to remove child benefit from higher rate tax payers. They should have taxed child benefit instead. As Stephanie Flanders writes:
Mr Osborne could have [...] raised a similar amount, £1.1bn - by simply taxing child benefit.
This would have meant that:
  • The benefit would still be universal, and money wouldn't be wasted on means testing.
  • The higher your income before tax, the higher your income after tax. In other words, you're never penalised for earning more. There must be a special phrase for this, like there is for regressive / progressive tax or flat tax. Can someone tell me what it is please?

2010-10-24

Absolution Gap

After reading Diamond Dogs and Turquoise Days I got another Alastair Reynolds out of the library. This is the final book of the revelation space sequence. Now I've just got to read the middle one!

People say he's a Gothic writer. What does that mean? Is it people who put black stuff around their eyes? I went to a Halloween party last night (I know it's not Halloween yet, but it's fine to have it early). I met Kazim in Bath and bought some beer. Incidentally, I picked up a box of 4 Asahi bottles and the cardboard somehow tore and they smashed on the floor of Waitrose.

I stood there gormlessly; Kazim claimed to have seen it coming. A Waitrose guy came and cleared it up. I apologized and slunk off.

As an aside, you can see on the label it says Super Dry. Is this trying to cash in on the popularity of the clothing label?



Well what I was trying to say before you distracted me was that for the Halloween party I put on white face paint, with black bits round the eyes. Kazim didn't do any dressing up at all. I didn't now how to put the black bits on. How is it done? I didn't look cool or scary, I looked like a Panda.

The book! The book! It was nice and long and I like the fact that the science is all plausible. It's a good sign when you want a book to carry on going. I dislike anything with the supernatural in it. It just makes me angry. Like Prince Charles and his homeopathic claptrap.

2010-10-20

Suffering In Julian Barbour's Nows

My question is simple. If time were stopped, would people carry on feeling the same sensation as when time stopped? Or would they stop feeling anything? Or some other answer?

I tell you why I ask. I was going for a jog and it was really cold. I was cold, aching and just wanted to get home. I thought to myself, if time were to stop, would I carry on feeling like this for eternity? In fact is there another me in one of Julian Barbour's Nows that will always feel like I did?

To put the question another way, if time were stopped, distance would still exist, but motion would not. Is sensation like distance or like motion?

2010-10-19

No Nuclear Subsidy. Really?

The headline for Chris Huhne's ministerial statement published yesterday on nuclear power was, 'No Nuclear Subsidy'. Really? That would be good if true, but the small print says that the UK, 'currently caps operators’ liability at £140m'. Why does the tax-payer have to pick up the bill if something serious goes wrong? I'd expect a wind farm or gas fired power station to be fully insured by the owner, not the tax payer. Why should a nuclear power station be any different?

Imprimatur-018

I've just released Imprimatur 018, the changes are:
  • GETs don't follow redirects by default.
  • Fixed example given in tests directory.
  • If no arguments are given on the command line, throws an exception saying no file specified.

2010-10-10

Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days

This is a book of two short stories by Alastair Reynolds. I've read and enjoyed his work before.

My question is, are the stories linked? Is the bulb of toxin from the spire in the Diamond Dogs? I felt that the text hinted at that. Am I reading too much into it?

If forced to choose between the two, I'd say Diamond Dogs was my favourite. I wanted both stories to go on longer. Maybe that means they were the right length!

I enjoyed DD, TD so much that I sought out another Reynolds, Absolution Gap, which I'm reading now, and it's excellent.

2010-10-07

Green Deal Jobs

I've just read the DECC Green Deal press release about how it'll create loads of jobs. My economic hackles always rise at government job creation schemes. Call me old fashioned, but productive jobs are created when there's a genuine demand for goods and services, and companies need people to fulfil that demand.

Government spending is only useful for creating the infrastructure for the private sector (the police, army, NHS, schools etc.), government can't generate wealth itself. It's the private sector that creates real wealth. Too much government means the private sector can't support it, and the nation ends up in debt. Too little government and the private sector doesn't have the infrastructure to survive. Government can *never* create productive jobs.

Don't even get me started on the perverse incentives of the Green Deal. A few months ago, I insulated my roof. Now, as I understand it, I will be forced by law to pay extra for my electricity, in order to subsidise those without insulation. Not fair, and an example of big government sapping the initiative of the individual.

Let's have a carbon tax-back scheme instead.

2010-10-02

Aberystwyth

We went to Aberystwyth in May this year. Here are a few photos. This first one is of Clarach Bay where we stayed.


And some shots looking out from the bay:


We went to a bike race that our friend Mike was taking part in. They had a dance tent...

At one point a helicopter departed. We hoped it wasn't someone injured in the race.




The Night My Double Glazing Imploded

My bedroom is in the loft, and it has two Velux windows in the sloping roof. Earlier this week, on the morning of the 28th September, I awoke to see one of the windows smashed, with shards of glass on the floor.
At first I thought that someone had thrown a stone or something. Then I noticed that it was only the inside pane of the double glazing that was broken. I phoned Velux and they explained that there was a manufacturing fault in some of their smaller windows. The fault means that the argon between the panes leaks out and somehow the pressure inside becomes lower than outside, and the inner pane implodes. Velux were pretty good, and they said they'd come round on October 11th and replace the glazing in both of my windows without any charge. They're replacing the other window because it may be prone to this fault too.