Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Response to 'Small Steps: Immigration'

I replied to this blog on immigration, but it has been awaiting moderation for a few days so I thought I'd blog it here before I forget about it.

My reply:

If the UK has basic income for citizens and migration was only available to those who had jobs, immigration would pretty much take care of itself.

If a migrant worker can compete with a native worker (who receives an additional £12k a year basic income), then they are probably a benefit to the country…

To take home the same money, a native worker could accept a salary £12k less – unlike at present where native graduates need a salary 10% higher than a migrant (to cover university loan fees).

Reply to 'negative income tax and basic income are pretty much the same thing'

Original blog here:-

I commented (as follows), but its been awaiting moderation for a few days, so thought I'd blog my response here before I forget about it!

My reply:

Indeed they are the same thing.

And with flat tax on all income there is no need to phase out ‘basic income’. Pay it to everyone (who wants to claim it) for the unemployed it replaces benefits, for the employed it replaces their ‘tax free allowance’.

Better still – if all wages are taxed at the flat tax rate, it can be collected directly from the company as a %age of their wage bill – no need for individual accounting.

Align the flat tax rate with the corporate tax rate and companies get a single tax bill – a single straight %age of wages bill+profits.

Also most ‘public services’ can be pretty much eradicated, as every individual will have ‘basic income’ to fund the services they value (individualy or in groups if they so choose).

Basic income needs to be set at least at subsistance level (we don’t let people starve). Plus whatever is ‘freed up’ from abolishing public services (which would formerly have been available to them anyway).

Introducing the flat tax is the biggest challenge, as current salaries are set assuming current tax rates – if the tax rates are unexpectedly changed, salaries should be reset to take this into account – so no windfalls/hardship from the switch itself.

Friday, 27 June 2014

Eco Show Brighton Centre - Some Good Stuff.

Spent a couple of hours at the Eco Show at the Brighton Centre yesterday (the Landlords Show was on as well, so popped in there too afterwards).

I am looking at getting a small holding, off grid, in a few years so am keen to see what self-reliant renewable tech is available. I am also keen to see what bogus stuff is being touted too!

The best single product has to be the civilised composting toilet - it was there last year, and seems to have been on the up since then - with an even smarter stand this year. Waterless and with a solar powered fan, a completely isolated device for your 'convenience'. In fact they do a toilet cabin (complete with shed) that can be dropped off complete,  put anywhere, for around £1000.

Sussex Uni had a display - a product that caught my eye was a reservoir that catches the first cold water from your shower before the hot comes through (rather than letting it run straight down the plughole), and then feeds it back into the flow when the water is hot. A saving of 10pints of water per shower would mean an annual saving on a water bill of over £100 for a family of four. No power required, all done passively!

Rainwater reclaiming was interesting to - for the garden/car etc and can be used for flushing toilets. They all now seem to have mains 'top up' feeds, so no need for two pipes to everything - which is neat. We may well put  a big flat vertically mounted tank on the back of our garage...

Saving the best service till last...

The Green council have savaged our public transport to help their pet Coach company get a bus route, and have thrown millions at cycle lanes which help a few central Brighton cyclists but inconvenience all Brighton motorists... This means my wife and I have to give regular giving regular lifts to our lads, either to a better served bus stop (loads of short, inefficient trips) or all the way to/from college/work.

But at the show we discovered 'Wheels to Work'/'Wheels to Collage' - who rent fully serviced/insured etc electric bikes and motorbikes to victims of the Greens, like ourselves. Just need to check the cover the city, not just the county(!).

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Voting and keeping (resurrecting?) confidence in it.

English voting is kept reliable and secure by the physical security over the ballot papers - so simple a child can understand and be sure of the system.

The principle is that a single paper is issued to a voter, and is then monitored from voting booth to the count. It is either in sight, or in a box with a seal -approved by the polling staff and candidates (or their agents). So a candidate can be as confident as humanly possible that there has been no tampering to rig the result.

Postal votes are a different matter, as they enter the polling system by post - there can be no certainty as to who they were completed by, and no assurance that a ballot is even received by the polling staff - it needs complete reform.

I believe it should be a criminal offence with a significant minimum term (say 5 years) to mark or tamper with another voters ballot paper in anyway.

Any alternative voting system, must retain this simple, visible, security - electronic/mechanical voting or counting should only ever be considered if it can meet this same standard. A machine for counting ballots may be possible if it visibly cannot introduce, change or discard ballot papers, and its results can (could) be manually verified.

A voter must be confident that their vote has been accurately counted, and that only (and all) valid votes cast by other legitimate voters are included in the result.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

It is essential to resist a tyranny before it exists - G.K.Chesterton. Vote #UKIP

The wisest thing in the world is to cry out before you are hurt. It is no good to cry out after you are hurt; especially after you are mortally hurt. People talk about the impatience of the populace; but sound historians know that most tyrannies have been possible because men moved too late. It is often essential to resist a tyranny before it exists. It is no answer to say, with a distant optimism, that the scheme is only in the air. A blow from a hatchet can only be parried while it is in the air.

G.K.Chersterton, 1922

Monday, 12 May 2014

Crash Intro Homebrew Ale - How To - 101 - Part 3 of X


This isn't a masterclass of style - just a crash intro to get your first 40 pints down the necks of you and your mates!

Is your brew ready to be bottled?

Make sure your beer has finished brewing (about a week but maybe two if your kitchen is a bit cold!) - if you bottle beer that is still brewing, the bottles may explode, the beer will be way too fizzy and sediment will be stirred up as soon as you take off the lid.

To make sure mine is done, I push down the middle of the bucket lid and seal the lid. I'll check every half hour or so for the next few hours and see if it has puffed up - if not, its done.

You can check with a hydrometer, but if you stirred it right at the start, and it went a bit wild on the first day and is now flat then you can be pretty confident its ready to bottle.

Even when ready, it will be fine in the bucket for a while - so you can wait till the next week end if needed.


I brew in a bucket with a tap near the bottom - it twists out the way to stand on the floor - but don't accidentally undo the thread(!) - while brewing I put a plastic bag over the tap with an elastic band so it stays pretty clean.

In addition you'll need a bottling wand (a long stiff plastic tube with a gravity close/push to open valve on the end).

Bottles enough for your whole brew - I use brown plastic PET bottles - brewing bottles are special as they are laminated with a oxygen barrier membrane to stop oxygen getting through the plastic and your beer going off, and the brown keeps the UV out - remember lids!. I reuse bottles and lids - a rinse/wash as soon as the beer is poured out to drink and packed away (upside down in the original box) clean for next time.

Sterilizing Solution.

Sugar (preferably bewers sugar) say 100g for 40 pints.

Stirring Paddle.

Tea Towels.

Botting - Prep

First wash your hands and sterilize your kit. (not the bottles yet).

Carefully put your bucket on a table with the tap over the edge where you will sit to bottle - no shocks and don't stir it up.

Put the sugar in a pan with boiling water (enough for it to fully dissolve.. probably bit less than a pint).

Gently pour the sugary water into your brew, stirring to mix - but try not to get air in, and try not to stir up the sediment. This sugar 'primes' the brew - it will wake the yeast up enough to give your beer a bit of fizz after about about a week in the bottle - needs to be reasonably evenly stirred in, but no need to go mad!

While your primed brew settles (any sediment that got stirred up) sterilize your bottles.

I put the caps in a jug of sterilizing solution

For the actual bottles I quarter fill one with sterilizing solution give it a good shake around pour the solution into the next and put it upside down to drain, back in the box (with a tea towel in the bottom - so cardboard doesn't get wet!). Soon get through them all.

Make sure the bucket tap is clean, fit the sterilized bottling wand.

Put the caps on a tea towel to drain.


Turn on the tap (the wand valve should ensure it doesn't pour yet) - make sure the bucket lid is unsealed. Have a box of bottles to hand, then one by one, push them on the want 'till the brew is at the top, and take the bottle off. Moving the bottle off the wand will stop the flow, and as the wand comes up the level will fall slightly, so with a bit of practice you can go to the top without spilling, and then have a small air gap.

Pour yourself a small taster - it should taste OK - probably just a bit bland and flat.

Put a cap in the bottle (use a cloth - you can get blisters tightening 40 odd bottles!) - wipe the bottle of any spillage, put it back in the box right side up... repeat 40 times :)

To get the last few bottles out (just above the sediment), you'll need to tip the bucket and mess around trying not to stir up the sediment - improvise! Sediment isn't fatal - all bottles will have a bit anyway from the yeast that makes it fizzy.

Wash up the bucket - all that slimy sediment(!) and the crusty ring around the top from the initial brew... and all the other kit.

Wait a week - give a bottle a daily squeeze, you'll find it gets firmer as the yeast adds the fizz (and a bit more flavour) - try a bottle... another week try another bottle... once you find it OK, you (and your friends) can drink the lot - or it will keep pretty much for ever...

Pour carefully - there will be sediment - rinse the bottle as soon as its poured and it will all wash out with no fuss - when clean/dry store it upside down back in the box, ready for your next brew.

If your beer is too fizzy (overdid the priming sugar 85g won't but 100g+ might) it will fizz up and stir up the sediment... making it impossible to pour a clear glass - if this happens just go through all your bottles opening enough to hear the hiss then immediately closing... repeat this for a few days as required(!).

Friday, 9 May 2014

Crash Intro Homebrew Ale - How To - 101 - Part 2 of X

Get your brew on.

This isn't a masterclass of style - just a crash intro to get your first 40 pints down the necks of you and your mates!

You have all your stuff, and a place to brew so...

*Don't let your stuff get dirty in storage! - deep cleaning is a PITA, so store it where it (at worst) will get dusty, so only a quick wash is needed!*

Get your pan(s), kettle, bucket, lid, ale kit, tin opener, paddle, tea towels (or oven gloves) - WASH YOUR HANDS and make sure the equipment is are clean.

Make up some sterilising solution (half litre is plenty, but its cheap so 1/2 cap/two litres - meh). Put the lid on the bucket , swirl it all around.

Wipe everything else (except the tea-towels/gloves and kettle) over with sterilising solution - wait for 20 mins.

Tip away sterilising solution - ready to go!

- You need to heat the tins of malt so it pours - so put the whole tins in  a pan with water an heat them - take the tops off so there is no risk of explosion!
- Put the kettle (or other pan if not using a kettle on to boil).
- Once malt is warm and runny - pour it into the bucket.
- Fill each (now empty) tin with boiling (very hot) water swill it around (or stir with paddle) to dissolve remaining malt.
- Pour the hot solution into the bucket with the malt (holding with oven gloves/tea towel!)
- Add another tin full of boiling/very hot water to the bucket.
- Stir the malt solution in the bucket very, very well until the malt is dissolved. No sludge at the bottom!
- Add loads of cold water to the bucket, keep stirring and get lots of air in too.
- Make it up to 40 pints and a bit more (a pint or two) lo cover wastage/loss later
- (but less water means stronger beer, so it doesn't matter too much!)
- Sprinkle the yeast on the top, put on the lid (NOT AIR TIGHT)
- Cleanup your work area.
- Leave for a week or so (as per kit instructions)
- In the first day the bucket content will go a bit wild, then it will slow down a bit for the rest of the fermentation, and finally stop.
(the yeast is eating the sugar and making alcohol/CO2 - the yeast stops when it runs out of sugar or it gets poisoned by too much alcohol!).

About one week on and you now have a big bucket with 40 pints of very young, flat ale!

Bottling to follow!