Rite of Passage Wednesday, Mar 23 2011 


My eldest son has had a little bit of ‘top lip shadow’ for the past couple of weeks, making him look like he has a dirty face.  So today we bought a razor, and I showed him how to shave.

By the time he has proper beard hair that is tougher than his bum-fluff, he will hopefully have got the technique down.

Earning £100,000 extra Friday, Mar 18 2011 


Right Wing British politicians (The Tory party, the Labour party) argue that tuition fees are fair because graduates earn, on average, £100,000 more than non graduates, over their working life.

On an extra £100,000 they will pay £20,000 Tax (MINIMUM, assuming they never get into the higher tax bracket), £11,000 national insurance.  Their employers will pay £12,000 over and above this £100,000 in Employer’s National Insurance.  A total to the govenment of AT LEAST £43,000.

The graduate wil be left with £69,000.  If of that money he spends just £30,000 extra over his life time on ‘luxury’ items (computers, TVs, cookers…) the Government will receive another £5,000 in VAT.

One assumes if a company pays extra, it expects extra profit, so they would pay tax on that (or investors pay tax on dividends).  A well educated workforce makes the UK an attractive place for future high tech companies, thus bring jobs to the UK, thus garnering more tax.

The BBC reveal today that it is quite possible the cost of the student loan in interest, will be the same as the loan.

SO, to summerise.

Pay £30k+ in fees and loans, pay another £30k for interest, pay £37k in extra tax.  Benefit the government with attracting employment to the UK, even though they have made no investment (because it’s a loan with interest, it costs them nothing), they will receive £50 grand or more, plus non-monetary, or knock on benfits.

Worth the £75 per year average the graduate will end up with.

Cost of Civil Service Pensions Saturday, Mar 12 2011 


The net cost of paying public sector pensions in 2009/10 was a little under £4 billion. The cost of providing tax relief to the one per cent of those earning more than £150,000 is more than twice as much. The total cost of providing tax relief to all higher rate taxpayers, on their private pensions, is more than five times as much.

Just saying…

(Information from http://www.taxresearch.org.uk/Blog/2011/03/10/public-sector-pensions-a-response/)

Black Powder – Broken Brigades Saturday, Mar 5 2011 


The Broken Brigade rule in ‘Black Powder’ is considered overly harsh by many players.  These are the amended rules we play.

1) A brigade is broken when OVER half the units in it are shaken or destroyed.  i.e.  in a six unit brigade 4 units shaken/destroyed are required to break the brigade – not 3 as per the rules.

2) Units in a broken brigade can be rallied if the ‘break’ status is due to Shaken units, and disordered units may reform.  For the above  brigade with 6 units

– if 4 are destroyed, the Brigade is permanantly Broken

– If 3 are destroyed, and one Shaken, the Shaken unit may be rallied.  Once it is no longer Shaken, the brigade is no longer Broken.  Remember ‘Rally’ is the last order a commander may give. 

– if 2 are destroyed and 3 Shaken, then 2 must be rallied to 2 hits or less to ‘unbreak’ the brigade.

While a brigade is broken it must still retire on initiative so units are more than 12 away from the enemy.  As movement on initiative counts as an order, a further Rally order can not be given that turn.  This encourages the opponent to keep up pressure on Broken Brigades to stop them reforming, rather ignore broken brigades that are almost useless.

We feel this method is a fairer reflection.  It also means that cavalry, who are easy to shake due to their hand to hand role, act like historical accounts – they charge, become blown and spend some time reforming before rejoining the fight.

Rhyming ‘ough’ Thursday, Mar 3 2011 


John Betjeman famously wrote

Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!

Such is the history of the English language and geography, that for non-native speakers – like Americans* – it would not be immediately obvious how to pronounce ‘Slough’, though the next line’s rhyme –

It isn’t fit for humans now,

would demonstrate it

However, if he had written

I’ve had just about enough

they would be none the wiser.  Of course he could have used

Your belching chimneys make me cough

and it would have still looked right, though I can not imagine how it would rhyme with

It is a God forsaken borough

Though (look another one) this would have let him go on to

You are not as fine as Edinburgh

to really confuse things.  Or maybe the second line could be

You’re roads have become really slow.

We are of course talking about the language where we have ‘mouse’/’mice’ but the plural of ‘house” is not ‘hice’, and the singular of ‘dice’ is not ‘douce’.

*Foot note

Listening to an American saying ‘Worcestershire Sauce’ is one of the great maddening pleasures of life.

Questions for bankers Tuesday, Mar 1 2011 


http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/deborah-ross-your-questions-for-bankers-answered-2228579.html seems fair.

My bank once phoned me, then refused to talk to me unless I proved who I said I was.  I’m hoping they will do it again so I can ask them security questions.  I may also include the phrase “this phone call will be recorded for purposes of being riduculed on the internet.”