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Month: May 2018

Spread the Word

Spread the Word

I’ve now been blogging for almost a month and am hugely encouraged by the response I’ve received – thank you to you, all of my readers. Substantive posts now regularly get well over 50 views, with total views per month pushing towards 2000. More importantly, I really appreciate the great comments and discussions we’re getting, both on the site itself and on social media, with some really interesting differences in views and perspective. It would be great to build this…

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Book Review: The Three Body Problem

Book Review: The Three Body Problem

Minimal spoilers only – less than reading the blurb of the three books. Quite simply the best science fiction I’ve read in a decade. Cixin Liu’s Three Body Problem, with its two sequels (the trilogy is collectively titled ‘Remembrance of Earth’s Past) is both gripping and immersive, intensely human in its depiction of characters yet of almost unimaginable grandeur in its scope and scale. The science feels robust, firmly rooted in today’s theories and possibilities, even when speculating on future…

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More Deals and No Deals

More Deals and No Deals

In the discussions (on and offline) following my recent post ‘No Deal is Better than a Bad Deal’, one idea that came up a number of times was that there was a third option, to call the whole thing off. This was invariably suggested by people who had originally voted Remain. Whilst including this option would make a much less snappy television show title, it is obviously theoretically correct that this is an option. I will even go further: if…

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On the Categorisation of Hymns

On the Categorisation of Hymns

NB: This is intended to be a light-hearted and not entirely serious piece. I do not consider the classification below to be based on far reaching principles or to have great explanatory power. Hymns(1) are often categorised according to their style of music: old or new, upbeat or staid, intended to be played by organ or by guitar. However, by focusing on the lyrics, an alternative categorisation appears. Theological. The principal feature of these hymns is that they fit in…

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No Deal is Better than a Bad Deal

No Deal is Better than a Bad Deal

A simple statement, this nevertheless seems to cause consternation in the hearts of those who never wished to leave the EU. And yet it is trivially, self-evidently true. Leaving aside the utter folly of announcing any other policy – one does not get good results from a negotiation by telling the other side you’ll accept any offer, no matter how bad – it is obvious that there are some deals that are worse than no deal. The deal in which…

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Answer to Monday’s Puzzle

Answer to Monday’s Puzzle

On Monday I posted the following puzzle: “A prisoner is given a choice between two doors; one of which leads to freedom and the other of which leads to certain death. In front of the doors stand three guards, one of whom always tells the truth, one of whom always lies and the other of which answers randomly. The guards will only answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to questions. The prisoner does not know which guard is which. In only two…

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Democracy in Action

Democracy in Action

I attended my first election counting on Thursday evening. If you’ve never been to one, it’s a sight to see. Utterly simple yet incredibly effective; a community coming together to provide one of the most important public goods that we know of: democratic government. There must have been close to 200 people in the hall that night: counters, the returning officer, candidates and observers, all working through the night. The counters are (usually) employees of the local council, whilst the…

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Plastic Bags, Social Change and Competition

Plastic Bags, Social Change and Competition

Tesco and Morrisons have stopped providing plastic bags for 5p – instead, the cheapest bag you can buy costs 10p (and is slightly higher quality, intended for reuse). Asda has announced it intends to do so at the end of the year. Sainbury’s still offers 5p bags (though they are also higher quality and intended for reuse). M&S and Waitrose (which have a noticeably smaller market share than the big four) still offer 5p bags. This is a fascinating development….

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