Quotulatiousness

September 25, 2017

London’s foolish Uber ban

Filed under: Britain, Business, Government — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Iain Murray on the decision by London bureaucrats (backed by the Lord Mayor) to ban Uber in favour of established cab companies:

When I lived in London in the 1990s, I had to use pricey Black Cabs to get around the city at night. However, heaven help you if you wanted to go South of the Thames (as I did when I lived there) after midnight – Black Cabs would just refuse to take you. On one occasion I watched in horror as the cab driver got out and literally started a fight with a driver who had cut him off – and he kept the meter running throughout the fracas.

London’s days of high prices, uncertainty, and danger ended when Uber started operating there in 2012. It went on to dominate the London private hire car market. Today, that was all thrown out as Transport for London (TfL), an Uber competitor in that it runs the Tube and franchises bus services, revoked Uber’s license to operate.

Safety First?

The decision was ostensibly based on health and safety grounds. TfL said:

“TfL considers that Uber’s approach and conduct demonstrate a lack of corporate responsibility in relation to a number of issues which have potential public safety and security implications. These include:

  • Its approach to reporting serious criminal offences.
  • Its approach to how medical certificates are obtained.
  • Its approach to how Enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks are obtained.
  • Its approach to explaining the use of Greyball in London – software that could be used to block regulatory bodies from gaining full access to the app and prevent officials from undertaking regulatory or law enforcement duties.”

These grounds are puzzling. Uber has a dedicated team responsible for working with the police regarding incidents with cars that use the Uber app – something London’s Black Cabs lack. Uber’s drivers go through exactly the same background checks and approval processes that Black Cab drivers do. And Uber denies that the Greyball feature has ever been used in London.

Moreover, accusations of violence, especially sexual violence, by Uber app drivers are overblown. As Reuters reports, “Of the 154 allegations of rape or sexual assault made to police in London between February 2015 and February 2016 in which the suspect was a taxi driver, 32 concerned Uber, according to the capital’s police force.” If Uber was uniquely bad in having drivers who attempted sexual assaults, that share should be much higher.

On Saturday night, Perry de Havilland reported on the petition to rescind the TfL decision:

The #SaveYourUber petition has, as of 10:45 pm in London, attracted 600,000+ names, and one of them is mine.

Of course the best way to save Uber is to get rid of Sadiq Khan and make the issue politically radioactive.

The Truth About Stonehenge – Anglophenia Ep 6

Filed under: Britain, History, Religion — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 26 Jun 2014

Siobhan Thompson follows up ‘One Woman, 17 British Accents’ with a video dispelling a commonly believed myth about Stonehenge.

And by the way, Stonehenge isn’t the only stone structure worth visiting in Britain: http://www.bbcamerica.com/anglophenia/2014/06/impressive-british-stone-structures-arent-stonehenge/

Photos via AP Images.

September 24, 2017

Why Was Haig Still in Command? I OUT OF THE TRENCHES

Filed under: Britain, Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

The Great War
Published on 23 Sep 2017
Ask your questions here: http://outofthetrenches.thegreatwar.tv

In this week’s OOTT episode we talk about Douglas Haig, the trenches on the British Islands and silencers.

September 23, 2017

Roger Scruton – On ‘Harry Potter’

Filed under: Books, Britain, Media, Politics, Religion — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Conservatism Archive
Published on Sep 4, 2017

The Very First Troop Trials SMLE Rifles

Filed under: Africa, Britain, History, Military, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 4 Apr 2017

1902 A Pattern: Sold for $31,625 – http://jamesdjulia.com/item/1647-396/
1902 B Pattern: Sold for $31,625 – http://jamesdjulia.com/item/1648-396/

One of the British lessons from the Boer War was that the distinction between infantry rifles and cavalry carbines was becoming obsolete. In 1902, they would initiate troop trials on a new short rifle pattern, intermediate in length between the old rifles and carbines, and intended to be issued universally to all troops. This would become the much-loved SMLE – Short, Magazine, Lee Enfield rifle – but first a few choices had to be made.

The 1902 trials rifles were a bit remarkable in being widely liked by the different troops that used them – only a few changes were to be made before formal adoption took place. However, there were two different patterns of the trials rifles, with different models of rear sight. The B pattern used a friction-locked range adjuster, which was found to migrate during firing (not good). The A pattern had a much more secure set of spring loaded locking notched, and would be chosen as the better of the two.

Despite a thousand of these rifles being produced for the trials, these two are the only known surviving examples. The remainder were converted to .22 caliber training guns around 1907, as their non-standard nature made them unsuitable for issue after the formal adoption of the SMLE MkI (later to be retroactively redesignated the Rifle No1 MkI.

September 22, 2017

British Advance At Passchendaele I THE GREAT WAR Week 165

Filed under: Britain, Europe, Germany, History, Military, Russia — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Great War
Published on 21 Sep 2017

Herbert Plumer had a cunning plan to crack the German defences at Passchendaele, he would “bite and hold” only small pieces of the German Hindenburg Line instead of aiming for the big breakthrough. It was still a costly tactic but it achieved results and the Germans under Ruprecht, Crown Prince of Bavaria, were worried.

September 20, 2017

Tiger Day VIII at The Tank Museum

Filed under: Britain, Germany, History, Military, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Mighty Jingles
Published on 19 Sep 2017

It’s Tiger Day once again at The Tank Museum in deepest, darkest Bovington! This time I actually managed to get there and I wasn’t disappointed…

The Tank museum: http://www.tankmuseum.org/home

September 19, 2017

The Merchant of Death – Basil Zaharoff I WHO DID WHAT IN WW1?

Filed under: Britain, Business, Europe, History, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

The Great War
Published on 18 Sep 2017

For arms dealers like Basil Zaharoff, the late 19th and early 20th century was a time of never ending business opportunities, the great European powers modernised their armies drastically and conflicts like the Russo-Japanese War or the Balkan Wars meant that weapons of all kinds were always in demand. But no other man knew how to influence and profit from the warring nations like “The Merchant of Death” – Basil Zaharoff.

How Millennials Worship The Establishment

Filed under: Britain, Politics — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 3 Sep 2017

Brendan O’Neill http://brendanoneill.co.uk/

QotD: A Nice Cup of Tea

Filed under: Britain, Quotations, Randomness — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard as golden:

First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ‘a nice cup of tea’ invariably means Indian tea. Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad. Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water. Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners. Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly. Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference. Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle. Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one’s tea is always half cold — before one has well started on it. Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste. Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.

Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk WITHOUT SUGAR. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tea-lover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.

Some people would answer that they don’t like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.

George Orwell, “A Nice Cup of Tea”, 1946.

September 17, 2017

But is it full of eels? If not, feel free to visit the British Hovercraft Museum

Filed under: Britain, History, Military, Technology — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In their continuing series of “Geeks’ Guide to Britain”, The Register takes a trip to the former HMS Daedalus, a Fleet Air Arm seaplane training base that is now home to the Hovercraft Museum:

Did you know that the word “hovercraft” was once patented? And did you know that Great Britain is a world leader in the design and manufacture of the floaty transporters, and has been for half a century?

These and other surprising facts – including that some of the largest commercial hovercraft ever to be used in revenue service spent their lives shuttling booze cruisers back and forth across the English Channel – can be found at the Hovercraft Museum, at Lee-on-Solent in the south of England.

A century ago, what is now the site of the museum was known as HMS Daedalus and used as a Fleet Air Arm seaplane base. Back in the early days of aviation, and especially naval aviation, the station was at the forefront of naval and aviation technology alike. Seaplanes and skilled pilots were in great demand by the Royal Navy for anti-submarine patrols, and a new training base had to be set up to fill the service’s demand.

Thus came about the “temporary” Naval Seaplane Training School at Lee-on-Solent, with the new training school being based around a large local property, Westcliffe House. Slipways and hangars were duly erected, with the former leading down into the waters of the Solent itself; of the latter, one of the original J-class hangars, capable of being erected by just 15 men, survives to this day.

[…]

To truly appreciate the hovercraft, one should actually ride one of the things. This is easily done by a short journey along the coast from Lee-on-Solent to Britain’s only scheduled hovercraft service, which operates between Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight.

Operated by Hovertravel, whose sister company Griffon Hoverwork also builds the craft operated by the company, the service runs about every half an hour during the day, with more frequent services during the morning rush hour and a gradual winding-down into the evening.

September 14, 2017

The EU doesn’t want Britain to leave amicably – they want to punish Britain pour encourager les autres

Filed under: Britain, Europe, Politics — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Individual national politicians within the EU may clearly see there is no real benefit to be had in forcing a “hard Brexit”, but the permanent bureaucracy and the EUrocratic leadership seem determined to use the process to inflict as much harm as they can, for fear that other countries may decide to get out, too:

Last week’s headlines in the United Kingdom focused once again on the words of two men: the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and Brexit secretary for the UK government, David Davies.

In the ongoing negotiation between Her Majesty’s Government and the European Union, three main issues remain unresolved, notably the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, EU citizens’ rights who reside in the United Kingdom, and the infamous ‘Brexit divorce bill’. The latter has caused considerable outrage in the British public, as the French negotiator demands a full £90 million ($117 million) in payments in order to pay for the expenses caused by the British exit.

I believe the demanded payments are actually billions of pounds rather than millions. Mere millions would be a rounding error in the budget for the UK.

The measure is so unpopular that even a majority of British people who voted to remain in the European Union now oppose it.

A week ago, the UK government refused to cover this large sum and has since issued thorough explanations why it holds that position. This apparently left EU leaders flabbergasted, whose clear intent is to make an example out of the United Kingdom. With Brexit being the first time an EU-member state has chosen to get out of the union, the team around Michel Barnier and EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has every interest in making the Brexit situation a deterrent for large eurosceptic movements in other European countries. In fact, Barnier has been crystal clear on this. As the BBC reports:

    Speaking at a conference in Italy on Saturday, Mr Barnier said he did not want to punish the UK for leaving but said: “I have a state of mind – not aggressive… but I’m not naïve.”

    “We intend to teach people… what leaving the single market means,” he told the Ambrosetti forum.

Asked by the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag if other member states would follow Britain’s example of quitting the union, Commission chief Juncker said: “No. Britain’s example will make everyone realize that it’s not worth leaving.”

How exactly is the EU expecting to bring other members off their eurosceptic tendencies remains unclear. With a considerable trade imbalance in favor of the Brits, which are still one of the most important economic players on the globe, it is hard to imagine that Angela Merkel will want angry Volkswagen producers before her decisive parliamentary elections and that Emmanuel Macron will want to deal with enraged Bordeaux wineries before the upcoming senate elections.

At the same time the Brexit negotiations rumble on, the EU is now making it ever more clear what their plans are for the future:

Jean-Claude Juncker has confirmed the EU will pursue a policy of ever-continuing expansion, create its own army, and force constituent countries to open their borders and join the beleaguered Euro in an speech which will only serve to confirm the decision of every Brexit voter. In his ‘State of the Union’ address to the European Parliament this morning, Juncker restated the EU’s commitment to an expansionist set of policies to further erode the sovereignty of member states; a platform which Remainers will find difficult to explain away.

He explicitly re-stated his ambition to see the European Union continue to expand:

    “We must maintain a credible enlargement perspective for the Western Balkans… the European Union will be greater than 27 in number.”

On immigration and free movement, Juncker said the Schengen passport-less area would be extended “immediately” to Bulgaria and Romania:

    “If we want to strengthen the protection of our external borders, then we need to open the Schengen area of free movement to Bulgaria and Romania immediately. We should also allow Croatia to become a full Schengen member once it meets all the criteria.”

He confirmed that the EU will create a ‘European Defence Union’ by 2025 – that is, an EU army:

    “And I want us to dedicate further efforts to defence matters. A new European Defence Fund is in the offing. As is a Permanent Structured Cooperation in the area of defence. By 2025 we need a fully-fledged European Defence Union. We need it. And NATO wants it.”

September 12, 2017

Inside A British WW1 Airbase – Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome I THE GREAT WAR Special

Filed under: Britain, History, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

Published on 11 Sep 2017

Visit Stow Maries Great War Aerodrome in Essex: http://www.stowmaries.org.uk/

The Royal Flying Corps and later the Royal Air Force maintained aerodromes and airfields around Great Britain for defence against German Zeppelin and Gotha Bomber raids. But would a WW1 aerodrome actually work?

The River Thames: “London River” – 1941 Educational Documentary – WDTVLIVE42

Filed under: Britain, History — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 31 Aug 2017
The River Thames, Key to London’s Importance as a Centre of Commerce and Government

‘At Tilbury, near the mouth of the River Thames, liners from all over the world come into the landing stages, past long lines of barges and battalions of cranes. Higher up-river are the giant London docks, the busiest in the world, where the work of importing and exporting cargo us carried on unceasingly.

Westwards, up-river, are huge warehouses; cranes and smoking funnels line the banks. Approaching the City, ships pass beneath Tower Bridge, close to the imposing Tower of London. Nearby is the world of wharves and dockland offices, and directly linked to the river are London’s famous markets – Billingsgate for fish, Smithfield for meat and Covent Garden for fruit, vegetables and flowers. Here, too, is the world of finance – “the richest square mile in the world” – with the Stock Exchange, the Bank of England, and important banking and business houses known throughout the world. Further up-river is County Hall, magnificent headquarters of the London County Council; and on the left bank is the historic City of Westminster, home of the Empire’s government; lining Whitehall are big Government departments and, nearby, Westminster Abbey; and on the water’s edge, the Houses of Parliament with their elaborate and beautiful architecture. Beyond Westminster the character of the river is changed yet again, and giant Power Stations give way to residential houses, roads to gardens. Beyond Richmond, with its willow-lined banks, are the Tudor chimneys and turrets of Hampton Court; higher still is Windsor and its Castle, the home of the King.

As evening falls there is peace on the river at Windsor, but at the mouth of the Thames activity goes on into the night. There is no sleep for the greatest port in the world.’

(Films of Britain – British Council Film Department Catalogue – 1940)

September 10, 2017

Special Air Service (SAS) – The Falklands Campaign

Filed under: Americas, Britain, History, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 13 Jul 2016

Special Air Service (SAS) – The Falklands Conflict

When Argentina invaded the Falklands in April, 1982, Britain dispatched a large Naval Task Force to recapture the Falklands. Steaming south with the British fleet were D and G Squadron of the SAS, with supporting signals units.

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