Watching the 1988 BBC adaption of the Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe for the first time in years – so much nostalgia & special effects have definitely moved on!

Hadn’t noticed before how similar the Professor’s argument about the existence of Narnia – that Lucy is lying, mad or telling the truth about Narnia – is to C. S. Lewis’ trilemma arguing for the divinity of Jesus, i.e. that Jesus is mad, bad or God.

(That trilemma doesn’t consider other options of course, such as the Gospels and St Pau;’s Epistles not accurately reporting what Jesus said.)

Also, like many – including Philip Pullman  who essentially wrote the atheist anti Narnia – I’m still annoyed at what C. S. Lewis did to Susan in the Last Battle – a book never dramatised as far as I know.

Your freedom of movement rights:

I already voted (Remain) back in May – since I leave for work before 7, and if I have plans after work (as I do) won’t be back by 10.

And cards on the table, I have benefited from the EU as many have – I would never have been rich enough to study in Germany without freedom of movement rights on my ERASMUS exchange year. Even with the situation in Greece and Spain.

And like my friend Dan Boddice, on principle I agree with the long term aim of as much free movement as possible for people who aren’t rich, and hope one day it will be feasible to stop imprisoning much of the world’s population in their countries of birth (or a small number of countries) – unable to leave legally even for tourism – with visa and massive income requirements.

But that isn’t my main point.

I doubt many people’s minds will be changed at this late stage, and people close to me are on the other side.

And I’m sick of both official campaigns and just want it to be over. Which is why I haven’t posted that much that I’ve written myself this campaign – as well as procrastination of course.

I just want to remind everyone of one thing, what the Remain campaign has been too afraid to bring up or try to defend for the most part: freedom of movement is reciprocal.

At present those of you who are British citizens have the right to live, work, study (sometimes for free), and live with boyfriends or girlfriends without needing to get married and prove your income and get interrogated about your relationship in 27 other countries.

If Leave wins, then either – like Norway, Switzerland & Iceland – those reciprocal rights will remain as the price of access to the free market and many Brexiters will cry foul that little has changed – except it will have, Britain will be obeying most EU laws with little or no influence over them.

Or, if Britain does restrict EEA/Swiss migration then it is not Project Fear to say there will be reprisals. And the countries you have a right to live in will likely only be two – the UK and Ireland.

And the lives of millions of British expats and their right to live, work, and own property on the Continent will be thrown into turmoil, being made hostage to how Johnson, Gove or whoever is PM treats EEA/Swiss migrants (exc the Irish) in the UK.

Even if, hopefully, there is a grandfather clause, present migrants are protected and dozens of my friends in these islands and on the Content aren’t forced to move en masse, or apply for expensive visas and permits as supplicants now they have lost their free movement rights…

Do you really want yourself, your children and grandchildren in the future to potentially have to apply under an Australian syle points system to do any kind of legal work on the Continent, or to have to pay and apply for a visa – that may be refused – to simply spend over 90 days in any 180 in the Schengen Area?

Or – if we’re treated the same way we treat non EEA/Swiss nationals now – to have to have thousands in savings on your account for months on end and generally prove your family is so Rick you don’t need to work to get a student visa – and pay non EU student fees when in many EU countries EU students pay no fees at all?

Or to need to earn over £18,600 – more if you have kids – to marry and apply for for a permit to live with someone from another country, as is presently the case for British citizens marrying most of her world’s population.

Please just bear this in mind. And make sure you vote.

Dear Sir or Madam,

I am writing in anticipation of this year’s German market, which I’ve enjoyed every year since moving to Birmingham from the south for uni in 2007 – except the year I was studying in Germany.

I would just like to raise again the issue of crowd control on the route between Chamberlain and Centenary Squares. Especially the Paradise Circus bottleneck, which did last year have crowd control during some of the busiest periods (Saturdays and weekday evenings).

It concerns me that since last Christmas the work on Paradise Circus has potentially made the crowd control situation even more challenging and the bottleneck at Paradise Forum even more crowded – and even potentially dangerous considering incidents like the Love Parde disaster.

Since last year, one alternative pedestrian route between Chamberlain and Cenntenay Squares has now disappeared – the route via Congreve Passage behind the old library and past the Copthorne.

The opening hours of Fletchers Walk have been reduced, and the steps – which acted as an escape valve from the crowds (for the able bodied at least) – between the Paradise Forum-Centenary Square bridge that led to Paradise Forum and the rest of Broad Street are blocked off.

This leaves Fletchers Walk as an alternative route during its limited hours – although it is normally closed on Sunday (I saw people walking on the edge of Fletchers Walk in the carriageway to avoid the crowds one Sunday), and then far longer persions via the Mailbox, or via the Newhall St pedestrian crossing over Great Charles St Queensway.

Due to the above, I would like to strongly suggest at a minimum that Fletchers Walk is kept open on Sundays for the duration of the market to partially alleviate the Paradise Forum bottleneck.

I also feel in addition to occasional crowd control far better signage is required pointing to alternative routes, especially since so many visitors unfamiliar with the city centre come to the market – as do many Birmingham residents who aren’t always familiar with alternative routes.

Moreover, people on foot who aren’t visiting the market should easily be able to avoid the area during the busiest periods to avoid adding to the overcrowding.

Last year an “Alternative route to New Street station” sign was put on Broad St pointing towards Fletchers Walk and the Mailbox (though only a few days after the market began) which is a step in the right direction. But no clear signage seemed to point through Fletchers Walk or through the Suffolk Street Queensway underpass by the Mailbox.

And as far as I’m aware, there has never been persion signage pointing past the Town Hall to Fletchers Walk, nor persion signage at the Chamberlain Square entrance to Paradise Forum itself pointing past the BCU buildng and down the steps to Fletchers Walk (if this route hasn’t also been closed due to the works) which I believe would help considerably, since so many people feeding the Paradise Circus bottleneck last year clearly weren’t aware of alternative, less crowded routes.

I wish you all the best and look forward to drinking my German beer and English cider at a fun and safe market.

Yours sincerely,

Alex Wright

Harborne, Birmingham


For starters, the obsession with fitness/able-ness to work is abhorrent, this obsession of labelling how able/disabled someone is, is abhorrent, this obsession with defining ourselves, defining our ‘worth’, based upon being able to work is abhorrent, life ISN’T just about working, or at least it shouldn’t be.

There isn’t some universal magical line that separates someone or a health condition/disability as either being/causing someone to either be fit or unfit to work. All jobs require different physical abilities, different skills, different intellectual abilities, different mental abilities, different levels of physical/mental levels of energy or concentration, jobs require different emotional and/or personality attributes, different jobs require a whole host of a wide variety of different abilities, skills, capabilities, time, effort, availability etc. etc. Not only that but not all jobs are available in all parts of the country, not all jobs are flexible to circumstances, jobs don’t just require one of…

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“For Ruth, the memory of the time she spent in the house of ‘her loving friend’ was the reverse of pleasant. It comprised a series of recollections of petty tyrannies, insults and indignities. Six years of cruelly excessive work, beginning every morning two or three hours before the rest of the household were awake and ceasing only when she went exhausted to bed, late at night.

She had been what is called a ‘slavey’ but if she had been really a slave her owner would have had some regard for her health and welfare: her ‘loving friend’ had had none. Mrs Starvem’s only thought had been to get out of Ruth the greatest possible amount of labour and to give her as little as possible in return.”

(p. 71 Wordsworth Classics edition, or click on the link and search for ” slavey ” )

More utter lunancy from Osborne:

If maintenance grants are turned into increased loans for kids from less well off families (or kids who say they live with the poorest parent) this won’t even save money anyway, since most of it will never be paid back – especially by poorer graduates who are less likely to earn over the c £21 k repaymement threshold.

If anything they should do the opposite and stop means testing adults based on parental income at all, and give the full amount to all students.

c £6000 a year (that’s what loan plus grant was in 2011 outside London when I finished uni, probably a bit more now) with rent often at £3000 a year or more isn’t exactly much to live on (less than a year’s JSA and Housing Benefit for a 25-34 year old in Birmingham), though it’s more than the c £4000 a year students from middle income families get that disappears in rent nearly immediately and plunges those without savings into their overdraft, whose parents often can’t or won’t help financially.

Whilst kids from the very wealthy families often get their rent and even postgraduate degrees paid for, as well as their living expenses whilst in unpaid internships of course. So this is unlikely to affect their privileged position, as long as their families don’t cut them off.

Perceiving History: it's past, present and future.

Stroll through any library shelf dedicated to housing books on the Holocaust and you will see a vast collection of published testimony from Holocaust survivors. Although each testimony offers a unique story and perspective of the Holocaust collectively they overwhelmingly portray a Jewish perspective. Naturally most would seem this was logical, after all, the Holocaust was a crime against Jews. The Oxford English Dictionary defines the Holocaust as ‘the mass murder of the Jews by the Nazis in the war of 1939-1945’. To many the term Holocaust is replaced in favour of the השואה or shoah which is the Hebrew word for catastrophe. However this statement is not true, the Holocaust was not just a Jewish Holocaust, Jews were not the sole group to be persecuted by the Reich. I understand the use of the word shoah from a Jewish perspective as the word Holocaust has seen to be very…

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My friend, Deborah Harrington, gives her two cents on where money comes from, and criticises the nonsense behind austerity that compares a state with a sovereign currency to a household and implies that the private sector is somehow required to have money and to fund the public sector.

To the below I’d just add the idea that money (or at least fiat currency, and particularly bank-created money) is given value at least partially because it is accepted in taxes, as argued by David Graeber in his book on debt (also a BBC radio series available free at the time of writing) and in this thought experiment on a Modern Monetary Theory website.

Deborah on money:

The simplest way to follow it, I think, is to imagine money circulating, rather than building up and being taken down in piles (which is the paying down debt image).

Money comes from somewhere! Neoliberal economics would tell you that government spending is dependent on government getting money from the private sector to spend. It says government has two ways to do this – it can tax people, or it can borrow from the markets by selling bonds (also known as gilts because they are a very safe investment)

In this scenario money creation is seen as something only the private sector can do. They make money, government takes some to spend on the poor, or necessary services.

But no one asks where the private sector gets the money. The simple answer is that they make it by selling goods and services. But that simply rephrases the question, it doesn’t answer it. Where do people get the money to buy the goods and services? They go to work for the private companies……..

You see? It runs to a dead end, or at least it’s a ne’er ending circle. And it still doesn’t answer the question of where the money comes from.

And the answer is that it comes from two sources. It comes from government, in sovereign money creation and it comes from banks as debt money in the shape of overdrafts, loans, mortgages, etc.

Governments are not, in fact, borrowing money from the private sector at all. They are creating it. They create it by public spending. What happens when the government employs people? They are paid. Their income isn’t spent in government shops, it pays mortgages, rents, food…well, stuff! And that is provided by the private sector. And the government builds things, hospitals, schools, etc, so builders are paid, brick makers are paid…you get the picture. And schools need books and equipment, so does every public service. All bought from the private sector.

Finally we have a source of money, not just the goods and service creation of the private sector, flowing into the economy.

BUT we have to then look at what money can buy. In the real world it pays for all the things we need and want but they are in finite supply. So if the government keeps on creating money there will be too much money chasing too few goods. Result? Inflation! Inflation isn’t actually a bogeyman, but when it spirals out of control it is very destabilising. So, in order to make sure there isn’t too much money you tax things. This controls the money supply.

Why, then, is it important to have progressive taxation? Because you are removing a portion of people’s ability to spend and if you don’t withdraw it from the rich you increase the disproportion with which they have the power to spend and to increase their real wealth.

The housing market offers a simple explanation of how what is called demand-push inflation works. You used to only be able to borrow very tightly controlled multipliers of your income to buy a house. A deposit was mandatory and your proof of ability to pay very strictly checked out. As a result house price inflation was very low and the housing market moved pretty slowly.

Then lending was deregulated. People believe that house price inflation is because of a shortage of houses. But houses for sale have increased because of all the public housing that transferred from public to private ownership. No. House prices increased because the amount of money targeted at that particular form of expenditure increased exponentially with no counterweight from government in the form of regulation or taxation.

“Is it ethical not to intervene when 21st century medicine could treat diseases and injuries that are an unavoidable part of living in the wild?”

No it isnt. These are human beings, they don’t just exist to be left mostly in ignorance of the rest of the world against their informed consent in nature reserves for others’ amusement.

I’m mostly in agreement with this blog:

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