Now that’s a calculator!

I remember my brother building this Sinclair Scientific calculator many, many years ago. Powered by 4 x AAA batteries and operating with reverse polish notation. I used it in earnest doing my HND at Southall College of Technology. And still working! Both me and the calculator.

Battery life better than expected as people who borrowed it quickly returned it when they couldn’t find the ‘equals’ key. And there isn’t one.


The secret life of Dr Marie Stopes

Author unknown (image is more than 100 years o...Image via Wikipedia

I have to wonder why the BBC is giving the revisionist whitewash treatment to Marie Stopes. Howard Falcon-Long seems to be deliberately leaving out the bits that taint her life and character by the standards of today. She is portrayed as a female pioneer in a man’s world, someone with hidden depths and talent. Which in a way she was. But why has the more unsavoury aspects of her career and her thought been left out?

We can start with eugenics. She was an advocate of selective breeding and eugenics to ensure racial purity. She disowned her son because his chosen wife needed to wear glasses. She campaigned to get people of mixed race, the poor and the sick sterilised. She continually called for the compulsory sterilisation of the diseased, drunkards, or simply those of bad character. That’s Parliament dealt with then!

She seemed to have a soft spot for Hitler and admired his initial policies on racial purity. She attended a Nazi party congress on ‘Population Science’ in 1935. The lower classes, the ‘working class’ were another of her special targets, hence the opening of her ‘birth control’ clinics in poor areas.

I think she would fit in rather well today given the recent furore surrounding the idea of compulsory sterilisation that we see in the news.

BBC News – The secret life of Dr Marie Stopes

The Tallyman Cometh

I just got an email from Compass Online telling me about their campaign to put a cap on the rate of all forms of credit. In reality it’s an attempt to protect the poorest members of society from what’s become known as legal loansharking. This is where short term loans are offered with a very short repayment period ( which is why they’re also known as payday loans ) which also have incredibly high interest rates which kick in should the loan not get repaid on time.

A noble cause I’m sure. But who is this going to benefit?

Let’s look at why people use these services. In fact go back maybe a hundred years and you would find the same practices going on. In fact you would find this going on as long as our society has been going down the road of consumerism. There is a need within all of us to belong, to be part of something. In our society it expresses itself in conformity or a desire to share in goods or services, many of which aren’t essential to life but promise to lift us out of the doldrums of poverty, albeit for a short time. So, many years ago people would use the tallyman to obtain what they needed or desired. And they used the tallyman because they had been disenfranchised from consumerism by circumstance, society and the banks. They didn’t earn enough to buy direct, they didn’t earn enough to get an official loan from the reputable banks so the tallyman appeared to fill the need. Offering money or goods he met the need of the people where reputable society wouldn’t.That’s not to say the reason of the tallyman and the organisations behind them was pure. There was a profit, albeit at a higher risk, hence the high interest rate. So you needed school uniform for the kids? Just get the tallyman to call.

I don’t know if we still have the tallyman in England but their position has certainly been taken by the payday loan industry. It exists because it meets a need among the poor and dispossesed. And if you legislate out such an industry without having something in place to meet those needs then I would suggest you do more harm than good. There is intense pressure on people and parents to live the lifestyle or to get the ‘latest’ for their children and they will turn to whatever is there. It’s no good pontificating on the evils of the system without offering an alternative. People will find alternatives, opportunists will find ways to meet that need. And you can bet they will be worse than the payday loan industry. Interest rate caps on loans would hurt the poor and vulnerable in society whilst warming the cockles of the capitalist.

So back to the question, But who is this going to benefit? I would suggest that it will be the consciences of the metropolitan chattering classes.

Who cares about Pakistan?

Pakistan floods: thousands of houses destroyed...Image by Oxfam International via Flickr
An interesting page on the BBC News website asking some ‘experts’ and the public on why donations to Pakistan relief are slow. Some very good points, and some very predictable ones, especially from the public.

BBC News –
Who cares about Pakistan?

I believe donations from the West will perk up when we read that it has been confirmed that Muslim nations such as Saudi Arabia have donated sizeable sums.

You bet. Perhaps it’s the same sort of scenario when a stranger falls ill in public. Nobody wants to go to their aid, but as soon as one does then others follow. So be the first.

If they can afford to be a nuclear country and boast about it, then they should be able to look after their own people.

What’s the betting that the poster of the comment above won’t apply the same logic when the ConDem government start chopping his health service and welfare system, or the services that he relies upon?

I don’t think it’s necessary to donate any money to Pakistan because there’s enough money – and support – available within the Islamic community

Well that’s ok then.

Pakistan has a long history of corruption…….the slow response for help, I believe, is due to its links to terrorism.

You should spend more time looking at the UK Parliament and local councils. Corruption in Pakistan would likely pale to be insignificant in comparison. And as for terrorism the people of Pakistan have suffered terribly as they seek to deal with the ‘war on terror’.

Of course you can always give.

Islamic Relief
Red Cross

Some related reading….

The Socialist Way (1)
The Socialist Way (2)

BBC News – Who cares about Pakistan?

Things I Should Have Done – St Gerasimos

St Gerasimos (Gerasim)Image by jimforest via Flickr

Was on holiday in Kefalonia a few years ago. Had a choice of excursions. One was to do something, I don’t know what. The other was to join the celebrations of St Gerasimos‘ feast day.

Because of his reputation as a healer his relics are brought out each year and passed over anyone who is suffering with an illness in order to effect a cure. Would have been interesting.

Needless to say we did the other, a beach bbq I think. Now where’s my time machine.