This is Robin's personal site which he uses to note down his thoughts. He hopes you find it interesting. Enjoy.
He apologises for writing in the third person, but otherwise the idea behind the site's domain name, as seen in the header, doesn't work!
by Paul Johnson
This is an easy to follow whirlwind tour of where the UK government gets its money from and how it spends it. Full of facts and figures as well as some insightful commentary and significant critiscism of past taxation decisions across all parties. The biggest one being the lack of consistency, closely followed by lack of foresight and unwillngness to challenge current vested interests to improve the future of the country overall. Note that the latter is less about big business and lobbying and more about not wanting to upset the electorate.
Definitely worth a read as it won't take you long. It took me a week. But what is missing is any real solution to these problems. Politicians have to win elections every few years so taking decisions which make some people poorer in the short term, but others better off in the long term is hard if you want to be re-elected. This conunmdrum is not solved by the book, which finishes with lots of good tips none of which will necessarily lead to an election victory in the current political climate. It finishes with the simple comment "must do better if we are to cope with the next crisis". (Which, according to the book is going to be the climate crisis hitting at the same time as a really ageing population comes along.)
by Iain M Banks
The 8th book in Iain M Banks' series of Culture novels. It took me 2 and half months to slog through this book. Somehow I could not get into it eventhough the idea behind the Shellworlds is quite incredible. What I do like about the Culture novels is that even if the plot is not your thing, each book reveals a little more about the galaxy within which the Culture civilisation operates.
The story itself is OK in this book, perhaps not one of the better culture series storylines, but stil enjoyable. However it was not always captivating enough to keep me going. So I ended up putting it down for weeks at a time. I seemed to read it in spurts, including the last 100 pages on a Friday afternoon when work was slow.
The best summary of this book I've seen is "Matter lacked substance".
According to the Website Carbon Calculator each view of this site's homepage produces 0.07g of CO2. It is therefore cleaner than 94% of web pages tested. Hurray!
Comparing with other sites, it seems like the main component of this calculation is filesize. The homepage is about 300kB, depending on how many images happen to be on it. The biggest permanent component is the font file, which is 134kB and therefore contributes over a third of the CO2 prodcued by this homepage without actually contributing much to the function and usability of the site. Is the font file necessary? Perhaps I should switch back to using Arial? It's interesting how seemingly innocent design choices can have such an impact on the environment. For now it will stay as pretty much no one looks at this site.