Tag Archives: book

HS2 & ‘The Case’


This Week on Facebook: In last week’s post I included a comment by John Redwood with the title, Would you invest your money in HS2 that was (in general terms) opposed to its development. This week I am including  some alternative responses to the HS2. Although in general terms the cost of HS2 generates more article against the scheme than for it. The article associated with the image below gives the impression that the responses of the disgruntled, are not just those of the nimby. The case for or against HS2, is given in the included articles below and the references¹⋅²⋅³.

ICT solutions such as video and teleconferencing solutions have become an integral way to conduct business, but as we can see from the increasing demand for passenger journey, travel is still very important. Developing efficient transport links is important for economic growth, but of course HS2 is not the only solution to support this. (3)

Stop HS2 — click image

Kipper-Williams-on-HS2-009


1. HS2 — 12 arguments for and against: The first phase between London and Birmingham will open in 2026. A V-shaped second section will be added in 2033, going to Manchester and Leeds. The government says it expects 70% of jobs created to be outside London. A government-commissioned report by accountants KPMG suggests that the Midlands and north will benefit more than the capital.

2. HS2 to boost UK economy ‘by £15bn a year’ says report: The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) criticised the scheme, saying: “So far, the Department [of Transport] has made decisions based on fragile numbers, out-of-date data and assumptions which do not reflect real life.” The committee also said there was no evidence the line would help the growth of regional cities and would instead draw even more business to London. KPMG’s report to the department was commissioned by HS2 Ltd, which is a non-departmental public body wholly owned by the Department for Transport.

3. HS2 — can the technology meet expectations? The UK’s railway system is the oldest in the world and was established about 180 years ago. It is a mixed usage system, which means the track needs to serve three major purposes; long haul intercity journeys, short haul commuting journeys and freight. Intercity connections are very important, which is one reason the government chose to prioritise the service, but that squeezed the capacity around larger cities like London and Manchester.

4. Transport experts call for independent review of HS2 options: Alternatives to HS2 should be reconsidered, a group of travel experts have warned in a report saying the high-speed rail line could be five times as expensive as an equivalent railway in France.

5. Unlocking the benefits of HS2: Government policy is to build HS2, both phases one and two, and to improve regional rail connectivity through schemes like Northern Powerhouse Rail and Midlands Connect. To do one without the other is a foolhardy choice and does a great disservice to the country. Nowhere would feel the full benefits of HS2 if we see it as a binary choice between HS2 and other programmes to better connect our regions. The great towns and cities across the North and Midlands, from Bradford to Birmingham, need both.


Referenced Articles Books & Definitions:

  • A bold text subscript above and preceding a title below (¹·²·³), refers to a book, pdf, podcast, video, slide show and a download url that is usually free.
  • Brackets containing a number e.g. (1) reference a particular included article (1-5).
  • A link (url), which usually includes the title, are to an included source.
  • The intended context of words, idioms, phrases, have their links in italics.
  • A long read url* (when used below) is followed by a superscript asterisk.
  • Occasionally Open University (OU) free courses are cited.
  • JSTOR lets you set up a free account allowing you to have 6 (interchangeable) books stored that you can read online. 

¹HS2 Phase Two—Economic case advice for the Department for Transport (pdf): Risk analysis shows that the case for the Phase 2a increment is robust to a variety of potential changes to both scheme and cost assumptions. The majority of the sensitivities tested — including variations in construction costs, fares and GDP — provide over a two-thirds chance of the scheme providing medium, or higher, value for money.

²The Economics of High Speed 2 (pdf): Before spending more taxpayers’ money on this project, we believe that Government should answer the questions raised in this report. It needs to demonstrate that HS2 is the most effective way of achieving the declared objectives of the project and, if it is not, then the plan needs to change. The lengthy passage of the enabling legislation for the first phase of the construction provides an opportunity to examine the case for HS2. There should be no embarrassment in being prepared to revise the project: the objectives and cost are too important.

³Economic evaluation of the High Speed Rail (pdf): All over the world, governments of different political orientation are investing in high speed rail (HSR) infrastructure. In some countries the enthusiasm is more intense than in others. There is no a single pattern. UK and the US are now closer to building HSR infrastructure but until now they have been reluctant to give the definitive approval, and the money allocated to HSR has not gone beyond financing the cost of the evaluation of its economic and financial viability. Other countries, like France and Spain, have been keener on HSR than other European countries like Norway or Sweden, for example, whose governments are still studying whether this type of investment is socially worthy. Spain is a unique case because with much less traffic density than other countries (and much less congestion) in the conventional rail network, it is going to very soon be one of the first countries in the world measured in HSR kilometers.

Poetry & other ‘things’!


This week on Facebook: Not that I am short of things to write about but sometimes even I get bored with myself and my tendency to rabbit on and on Still, when I meet my ex-colleague for our monthly ‘pie and a pint’ we often discuss how little things have actually changed. Then we are both getting old and hold the geriatric view that the world is going to hell in a handcart.

Of course materially things have changed quite dramatically, particularly post WWII and especially for the following generations. Although I’m not sure that today Aaron Copland could call his piece Fanfare for the Common Man without raising a controversy. I’m sure that any such controversy would get a mention in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, unlike Copland’s sexuality. It seems that todays society has a predilection for declaring and writing about sexual orientation something that has yet to occur, at least in our conversation over a ‘pie and a pint’. But then it may all be part of a geriatric view that the world really is going to hell in a handcart.

Not so the epigram plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, which is probably familiar to most of my generation. However, some of my family may read my reflections so for their benefit I will add that it was a somewhat cynical remark by Alphonse Karr translated as, “The more things change, the more they stay the same”. 

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Sunday 28/7/2019


I did consider withdrawing this post, but it has made me look at ‘Measuring Worth‘ in a new light and is useful to me. Specifically it made me consider how complex the issue of inflation actually is in a fiat money world. Especially in the light of the Retail Price Index and the Consumer Price Index that comprise the items making up the UK’s ‘shopping baskets’.

The best that I could do was to measure the value of one pound (UK) using three sequential periods from 1947 until 1970 and from 1972 until 2018. I missed out 1971 as it was the year that fiat money was introduced into the global economy. Even so the cost of inflation to the consumer for a basket of goods not included in the RPI or CPI indices was hard to identify. This is particularly true of groceries that are considered to be a necessary expenditure. Food is approximately 10% of the basket depending on the percentage variability of the other included items.  The following notes below point out that measurements of inflation are based on a fiscal policy that is related to the RPI, CPI indices.

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Screwtape revisited


This week on Facebook: Any human thoughts on Theism present many different conclusions, as do human thoughts on the subject of Atheism and you must draw your own conclusions. To a certain extent the Inklings shared religious views¹, particularly on Christianity. Views that were certainly more prevalent than they are today, I mention this because their shared religious views was probably the glue that held the Inklings together, that and the friendship between C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien)². Read more of this post

Sunday 14/7/2019


I essentially use Facebook as a repository for my WordPress account, having had my fingers slightly burned by the demise of a previous social media site. Last week I was looking at some previous postings on C.S. Lewis that I was going to make reference to and found that some of the url links were ‘lost’, which is a common feature of social media. I replaced or deleted the links and next week intend to revisit C.S. Lewis with a posting titled ‘Screwtape Revisited’. most, if not all, of my C.S. Lewis reprises refer to Screwtape. Not long after I started seeing with my ex colleague for a ‘pie and a pint’, he remarked that any theist must lack intellect to believe such nonsense. I would not say that C.S Lewis and his ‘Inkling Friends’ lacked intellect. Read more of this post

We the People


This week on Facebook: I would venture that there never has been a time in history of mankind when there was not a wealthy Aristocracy. The Encyclopaedia Britannica opens with the definition that aristocracy means, ‘government by a relatively small privileged class or by a minority consisting of those felt to be best qualified to rule’.

Of course the vast majority of people supporting this ‘privileged class’ have no desire to rule, they are only interested in their own welfare. However, the even smaller privileged class¹ that they currently support most certainly do. Furthermore, be they capitalists or socialists, or even the demos (whoever they may be), the ruling elites always claim that they represent the views of ‘we the people’.

It seems to me that the nature of the ultimate revolution with which we are now faced is precisely this: That we are in process of developing a whole series of techniques which will enable the controlling oligarchy who have always existed and presumably will always exist to get people to love their servitude. (Aldous Huxley – Berkeley 1962)

Written nearly 500 years ago and preceding Aldous Huxley’s remarks, the prescience of Étienne de La Boétie ought to be remembered for his essay The Politics of Obedience — The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude. Both are now largely forgotten by a demos that loves its voluntary servitude under a controlling oligarchy. However, searching for a political system on which there would be a consensus in the nature of a more perfect union is a fruitless task, as is any reliance on ‘we the people’ seeking political solutions to their subjugation. Read more of this post

Aasof: “You know how to whistle don’t you?”


This week on Facebook: My post last Sunday brought home the fact that I belong to the Pinocchio generation, that of the Walt Disney era but including Sabu and long before Disney’s Jungle Book. I now realised why my mum took me to the pictures so much during WWII, but that’s an anecdote for another time. Lauren Bacall belonged to my mum’s generation and the memories of the films she took me to see live on my mind. Excerpts from the films may be enhanced by references in the social media, but I now belong to a generation whose memories increasingly have little in common with my children and nothing in common with my grandchildren.

Why coming to see death’s naturalness should have caused belief in an afterlife to melt away, I am unsure, but it did. Diana Athill¹

Born in May 1939, on becoming an octogenarian I thought it an appropriate time on Facebook to at least mention the inevitability my demise. I know that some of you have already passed the octogenarian milestone — as had my mother-in-law, whom I told a story about in 2016 (encounter with the dying). I trust that demise never become millstone, like a dead albatross hung around the neck².

The following video by Peter Saul talking about dying was really enlightening and had a profoundly serious effect on my approach to the subject, increasingly so in my attitude towards others. Among the many articles that I found ‘Talking about death and dying’³ seems an appropriate adjunct to Peter Saul’s talk.

In the event that you became too sick to speak for yourself!
Who would you like to speak for you?

Peter Saul


1. “Memento more.” It’s time we reinvented death: (2012) As if we needed any reminder. While few of us know exactly when death will come, we all know that eventually it will. It’s usual to talk about death overshadowing life, and the passing of loved ones certainly casts a pall over the lives of those who remain behind. But contemplating our own deaths is one of the most powerful forces in our lives for both good and ill driving us to nurture relationships, become entrenched in our beliefs, and construct Ozymandian follies.

2. What Good Is Thinking About Death? (2015) But we’re not always actively thinking about it. When people are reminded of death, they employ a variety of strategies to cope—not all of which are as well-adjusted as Stoic gratitude. That many kinds of human behaviour stem from a fear of death is the basis of one of the most prominent theories in modern social psychology—terror-management theory.

3. What It’s Like to Learn You’re Going to Die: (2017) The shock of confronting your own mortality need not happen at that instant, Coyle notes. Maybe you look at yourself in the mirror and suddenly realize how skinny you are, or notice your clothes no longer fit well. “It’s not necessarily verbal; it’s not necessarily what other people are telling you,” Coyle says. “Your soul may be telling you, or other people’s eyes may be telling you.”

4. How to Recognise When Your Loved One Is Dying: (2018) Death is a personal journey which each individual approaches in their own unique way. Nothing is concrete, and nothing is set in stone. There are many paths one can take on this journey but all lead to the same destination. What happens in the journey of dying, beginning one to three months prior to death, during the last two weeks before death, and during the last few days of life? In this continuum, how can you know when your loved one is dying?

5. Let’s talk about the art of living and dying well: (2019) In a society that struggles to view any death as “good”, it is also an unmistakeable opportunity to share what at least constitutes a better death. Acceptance is foremost. Some of my most remarkable patients have accepted early that they have not been singled out by misfortune, that suffering in different shapes is the course of humanity.


Referenced Articles Books & Definitions:

  • A bold text subscript above and preceding a title below (¹·²·³), refers to a book, pdf, podcast, video, slide show and a download that is usually free.
  • Brackets containing a number e.g. (1) reference a particular article (1-5).
  • Links reference a source and where necessary, those words that include a link in italics are intended to indicate its context.
  • A long read url* is followed by a superscript asterisk.
  • Occasionally Open University (OU) free courses are cited.
  • JSTOR lets you set up a free account allowing you to have 6 (interchangeable) books stored that you can read online.

¹It’s silly to be frightened of being dead (url*): Death is the inevitable end of an individual object’s existence – I don’t say “end of life” because it is a part of life. Everything begins, develops – if animal or vegetable, breeds – then fades away: everything, not just humans, animals, plants, but things which seem to us eternal, such as rocks. Mountains wear down from jagged peaks to flatness. Even planets decay. That natural process is death. Killing is the obscene intervention of violence, the violation which prevents a human being or any other animal from reaching death as it should be reached. Killing certainly did affect the minds of those exposed to the first world war. It shocked most of them into silence: many of the men who survived fighting in it never spoke of it, and I think it had the same effect on most of those the men returned to. It was too dreadful. They shut down on it.

²An introduction to death, dying and grief (url/OU Free Course): Explore interesting and challenging ideas around death, dying and grief. This free course, An introduction to death, dying and grief, invites you to think more deeply about death and dying and encourages you to think about it in different ways. This course will introduce you to different perspectives on death; ethical issues related to dying and end-of-life care; as well as expressions of grief. Please note that this course includes video about people talking personally about their experiences in relation to death and dying. If you have been affected by the issues in these videos, there are resources included in the course for further information and support.

³Talking about death and dying (url): It’s not always easy to know how to talk about dying. Awkwardness, embarrassment and fear means we tend to shy away from connecting with those who are dying or those who are grieving. But when we don’t talk about what matters it can increase feelings of isolation, loneliness and distress.

 

Aasof ‘whistling in the wind’


This Sunday on Facebook: Some years ago my youngest son gave me ‘Mort’ by Terry Pratchett, I don’t think that he gave it to me to start a conversation, I’m sure he just thought I would like it. It turned out to be one of those books that I ‘skimmed’ through, being (for my part) a time when my immortality was assumed. The book by Terry Pratchett was quite amusing in parts but not being a ‘Discworld‘ fan, as the reviewer above clearly is, I didn’t enjoy the read that much.

PS: I am a fan of Douglas Adams  and my son did present me with The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in hardback book form, but you may like the 1978 BBC Radio 4 version.

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Cassandra on Climate Change


This week on Facebook: I think that action on climate change (which I have been writing about) is a euphemism that enables people to write about the effects of Mathusianism, particularly when comparing economic growth and climate change. Not only is Malthusianism influencing world populations, it is increasingingly being used as a political weapon. A Malthusian catastrophe (in this case) precipitated by an Anthropocene Epoch which not even Thomas Malthus foresaw — a Malthusian world tied together more by individual  concerns over economic growth of their State, rather than the ideology of climate change. Read more of this post

Challenging Climate Change


This week on Facebook: It’s relatively easy to do research into environmental matter on line, I am a bit surprised how difficult it is to thoroughly research any view that may be contrary to the seemingly perceived consensus the climate change/global warming (call it what you will). However, perhaps a former president of Greenpeace¹ provides some explanation to this dichotomy. Read more of this post

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Martin Widlake's Yet Another Oracle Blog

Oracle performance, Oracle statistics and VLDBs

The Land Is Ours

a Landrights campaign for Britain

The Bulletin

This site was created for members and friends of My Telegraph blog site, but anyone is welcome to comment, and thereafter apply to become an author.

TCWG Short Stories

Join our monthly competition and share story ideas...

The Real Economy

Blogs and stuff from Ed Conway

Public Law for Everyone

Professor Mark Elliott

Bleda

Am I my Brothers keeper?

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