Sunday, October 20, 2019

People's Vote March - 19 October, 2019

The weather in London was sunny for the People's March, and there were a lot of people - more than for the first march in March.

The EU flags were everywhere. A sober tone, knowing that it takes a lot to keep going in the face of Governments bent on avoiding the push for a new referendum on Britain exiting the EU.

And then it rained. We had come to a standstill, anyway. So many people were trying to get to Parliament Square that the march came to a stop.
So we stood for a little while, and some people sheltered from the rain. I took a photo of some of them. It was only when I looked at the photo on the computer that I saw that a man to the right of the frame seemed to be pointing and perhaps saying something to the man in the flat cap and glasses.
The people closest seem disturbed by what the pointing man was doing. I wonder what was going on? It was the only note of discord (if that is what is was) in the whole time Tamara and I and my daughter Madelaine were there.

And then Tamara shouted across for me to take a photo of the woman holding the placard that read Help! I’m trapped on an island run by mad people.


Madness? Yes, at some level it is madness to want to turn the country into a Neo-feudal society.

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Olympics 1936-1948

Travellers in the Third Reich by Julia Boyd is a book about tourists, business people, students, and diplomats who were in Germany in the 1930s.

What did they think, what did they notice? Mostly they didn’t notice much. They did little mental gymnastics to avoid characterising the rise of the Nazi state for what it was.

We all know how the black American Jesse Owens was cold-shouldered when he got Gold in the Berlin Olympics.

But a snippet about the Olympics that caught my attention was a quote by Sir Robert Vansittart, a British diplomat who was head of the British Foreign Office in Berlin in the 1930s.

After the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games he said that the stupendous cost of putting on the Games made him thankful that Britain had relinquished its claim to the next Olympiad in favour of Japan.

I didn’t think there was a 1940 Tokyo Games, and that led to me to this little trail of events:

First, the 1940 Olympic Games never happened. The Japanese pulled out in 1938 because they were otherwise engaged with the Second Sino-Japanese War that broke out in 1937.

The Games were then to go to Finland, the runners-up to the original bid. The 1940 Helsinki Games were cancelled, though, because of Finland was at war with the Soviet Union.

The 1944 Olympic Games were due to be held in London, but they were cancelled due to World War II.

So it wasn’t until 1948 that an Olympic Games was held after the 1936 Berlin Olympics.

They were held in London and they were known as the Austerity Games because Britain was nearly bankrupted by the Second World War.

Food was still rationed, and would be until 1952. Things were so bad that the Government had to issue regulations to allow the athletes at the Olympics to be fed more than twice the UK national rationing allowance.

Some countries didn’t attend the 1948 Games.
Germany and Japan were not permitted to send any athletes to the 1948 Olympics, and the Soviet Union didn’t send any athletes because of the deterioration in East-West relations.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

2019 Brecon and Radnorshire By-Election results compared

2019 Brecon and Radnorshire By-Election results
Turnout: 59.72%

Chris Davies (Conservative): 12,401 (39%)
Tom Davies  (Labour): 1,680 (5.3%)
Jane Dodds (Liberal Democrat): 13,826 (43.5%)
Des Parkinson (Brexit Party): 3,331 (10.5%)
Liz Phillips (UKIP): 242 (0.8%)
Lily the Pink (Monster Raving Loony Party): 334 (1%)
Turnout: 59.72%

2017 Brecon and Radnorshire results
Turnout 73.8%

Chris Davies (Conservative): 20,081 (48.6%)
James Gibson-Watt Liberal Democrat): 12,043 (29.1%)
Dan Lodge (Labour): 7,335 (17.7%)
Kate Heneghan Plaid Cymru: 1,299 (3.1%)
Peter Gilbert (UKIP): 576 (1.4%)

Jane Dodds is the current leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats
At the 2017 election, James Gibson-Watt was the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Interesting Word Origins

Quintessential comes from quintessence, which in ancient and medieval philosophy meant the pure essence of which the heavenly bodies are composed, and is literally the fifth essence (from the Middle French word ‘quinte’) beyond the four essences of the physical world – fire, air, earth, and water.

Motley, which nowadays means a rag-bag or varied and ill-sorted collection of people or things, has a secondary meaning that is no longer used, which is clothes that are varied in colour. It comes from the archaic word ‘mote’ meaning a spot or speck of something such as dust.

Bumper as in ‘a bumper crop’ is an upbeat word and is derived from the very word ‘bumper’ which was the name used in the 17th century for a particular drinking vessel that was filled to the brim.

Aristocracy is from the Greek, where it means ‘the rule of the best’.

Milieu is from the combination of two French words meaning ‘middle + place’.

Brawl is from a dance of the Middle Ages called the Brand, or Branle, or Brawle, that was noted for being rowdy and boisterous.

Phew is one of those onomatopoeic words the origin of which is uncertain, but which for some reason we thought was a fairly modern word. So it was a surprise to learn there is a recorded instance of the use of the word from 1604. It is somehow pleasant and interesting to think of someone in Shakespeare’s time saying “Phew, that was a close shave.”

Haggard is a word whose meaning has drifted from its meaning of ‘wild’ or ‘unruly’ as recorded in the 1500s, through to ‘careworn’ as recorded in the 1800s, until its meaning today.

Othello calls Desdemona haggard when he accuses her of being an unfaithful wife, and he surely did not mean that she looked gaunt and starving. The word comes from the French, and is the adjective that was used to describe a wild falcon that has been captured young for training rather than one reared in captivity from birth.

Lurid is an interesting word because it has meanings that are diametrically opposite. One meaning is the one we normally associate with the word, namely to describe something shocking and sensational, as in ‘the lurid details of the murder’. But there is a second meaning, which is to describe something pale in color, even death-like in its paleness. This meaning harks back to the Latin origins of the word, luridus (pale) luror (paleness).

The attribution for this tidbit goes to Joseph Heller, in his novel Something Happened, in which the main character explains the meaning of lurid.

Planet is an interesting word derived from the ancient Greek word meaning to wander. And that is because the planets move in the skies, unlike the stars, which appear fixed in place. Except that a sidereal day (the time it takes the Earth to rotate relative to the stars) is four minutes shorter than a solar day (the time it takes the Earth to rotate around the Sun), so that the stars do appear to wander, but very slowly, with some disappearing over the horizon as the weeks progress, while others appear over the opposite horizon.

Frugal – meaning the sparing use of the things one has – derives from the Latin word frugi, meaning the proper profit or value obtained from something.

That in turn derives from fructus or fruit, as in the reward from the fruit of the earth that is to be used sparingly.

Ostracize – meaning to exclude from a group – derives from the word for potsherds (pieces of broken pottery), which was the material upon which citizens of ancient Greece wrote the names of those who they thought were a danger to the State. Anyone whose name came up repeatedly was banished or ostracized.

Coupon – a noun meaning a printed form that offers a discount – derives from the french verb couper meaning ‘to cut’. In its narrow sense, a coupon is a detachable part of a ticket or advertisement and this is obviously where the cutting or clipping aspect originates.

Tour – as in a tour of duty or a visit to a number of interesting places for pleasure and then back home – has its origin in the Latin ‘tonare’ meaning to round-off something as one might on a lathe, so there is that sense of visiting and returning to one’s starting point.

A Commuter is a person who purchased a commutator ticket that was introduced by US rail and road companies in the late 1800s. A commutator ticket was what we would nowadays call a season ticket. So the word commuter is really very recent.

Slew, meaning a large number of things or animals or people originates from the Irish word sluagh meaning a large number. And it is connected to the word slogan which means the battle cry used by a large number of people.

Agenda was originally theological and is the complementary to credenda. Credenda is a matter of faith and agenda is a matter of practise.


Hidebound dates from the mid 16th century, when it meant malnourished cattle, then emaciated human beings.
Only later did it begin to be used figuratively to mean narrow in outlook, unwilling or unable to change because of tradition or convention.

Harry Laugh Circle


In the news a couple of weeks ago:
Prince Harry raged about social media at today’s meeting on youth mental health: ‘Growing up in today’s world, social media is more addictive than drugs & alcohol. Yet it’s more dangerous because it’s normalised & there are no restrictions to it. We are in a mind-altering time.


One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.
This is from: 
“Je crains […] que l’âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins.” (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)


The position of the Arctic Circle is not fixed; as of 27 July 2018, it was 66°33′47.2″ north of the Equator. Its latitude depends on the Earth’s axial tilt, which fluctuates within a margin of 2° over a 40,000-year period, due to tidal forces resulting from the orbit of the Moon.
Currently, the Arctic Circle is drifting northwards at about 15 metres (49 feet) per year. 

Scything At Wimpole