Monday, 21 May 2018

My interview on Mises UK

The other day I was interviewed by Andy Duncan on the Mises UK website about "Freedom, Whisky, Scotland, & Secession". I am the Scottish spokesman of Mises UK.

And here it is.

Enjoy!

Friday, 18 May 2018

Scottish referendum in 2014

The day after the referendum I was interviewed by Jeff Deist of the Mises Institute. Here is a link to the interview in which we discuss the referendum from a libertarian angle.

Nikon virtue signalling

I've used Nikon cameras for over thirty years and am currently considering a new camera purchase. For the time being I'm holding off to see what Nikon brings to the mirrorless market later in the year.

But then I read over on Nikon Rumors that Nikon have decided to withdraw from this years National Rifle Association event.

On of the top commenters on Nikon Rumors writes:

I agree, however there are many of us who would like an explanation of why they choose this stance. I have invested some 50k plus in Nikon camera equipment and believe in the company. I also invest in the NRA to the sum of about 100 bucks a year. Clearly Nikon gets much more of my money than the NRA. If it's due to political correctness in order to some how think that we can destroy the NRA then Nikon is no better than a terrorist group that seeks to silence. The NRA does so much for the good of the people we will never hear about

When Delta Airlines cancelled a discount scheme for NRA members (that had only ever been used 13 times!) the airline's home state of Georgia retaliated by cutting a tax break worth $40 million to Delta.

I wonder who on earth made this decision. Was it Nikon in Japan? Nikon's top management in the US or some virtue signalling fool lower down in the hierarchy?

The Second Amendment is supported by a majority of Americans and I'd guess that the kind of folk who buy expensive camera equipment are likely to fall into that group. Nikon, like Canon, are falling behind in the new mirrorless camera world. Pissing off your customers is not exactly a winning strategy.

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Recently read


The Debatable Land: The Lost World Between Scotland and England

A fascinating history of the territory that was once neither English nor Scottish but was Britain's wild west. I was born very close to the Debatable Land, in Annan, Dumfriesshire - my mother's home town. My father came from just over the border in Cumbria. I can recall my maternal grandfather telling me about the rescue of the Border reiver Kinmont Willie from Carlisle Castle in 1596. The chief rescuer was the then Duke of Buccleuch. The current Duke is an upright member of the British establishment! In four hundred years or so I expect that most members of the upper house will be libertarians.

Who Built Scotland: A History of the Nation in Twenty-Five Buildings

Good stuff here from Alexander McCall Smith,  Alistair Moffat (a fellow borderer), James Crawford, James Roberston and Kathleen Jamie. There's lot more here than  Edinburgh Castle although, inevitably, it's mentioned.

The Railway Detective

Edward Marston has written a series of these books set in the classic period of Victorian railways. I've read eight of the books so far and can thoroughly recommend them. We have the usual set-up: the inspector in charge of the case and the trusty sergeant side-kick. Just as with Rebus, Morse and so many others. Inspector Colbeck is more a Morse man than a Rebus. The inspector was educated at Oxford, became  a barrister, and then joined Scotland Yard. To catch criminals rather than prosecuting them, but always with the help of Victor Leeming, the tough London sergeant. I detected a touch of the Atlas Shrugged in these books: the great sense of optimism in the railway world with an understanding of those who have Skin in the Game as opposed to those in the predator class. Plus ├ža change.

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

My talk at Glasgow University

Back in January I was asked by Keir Martland, of Mises UK, to give a talk to a Glasgow University student group. Here are the notes that I used for my speech:



Austrian Economics and Libertarianism

David Farrer. University of Glasgow 31stJanuary 2018.


Quiz: I buy a pair of shoes for £50. How much are they worth?

Both parties (and society) benefit otherwise there would be no trade.

Personal Introduction.

Trigger Warning: I am not an academic!

Born in Dumfriesshire, grew up in Ayrshire. Five Highers from Ayr Academy.

Moved to London because of father’s job. Worked in insurance, then advertising.

The 1960’s – “Swinging London”. Social freedoms beginning to emerge. 1968: student demonstrations, Vietnam, Kent State, Paris, Grosvenor Square. Started reading newspapers and books. The IEA. Ted Heath and the Selsdon Group.

Qualified as a Chartered Secretary while working full time. Headhunted by GGK (Swiss ad agency) and became Company Secretary and then Finance Director.

Later I obtained a First in History and Economics from the OU while working full time. No sympathy for student subsidies!

In 1970s became the eighth member of the Libertarian Alliance and also its treasurer. Read widely including the Austrian School.

Met Hayek, Friedman and Rothbard at the Alternative Bookshop.

Saw my LA Hayek photo on wall of San Francisco bookshop! According to Chris Tame I had the largest collection of libertarian books in the UK.

Eventually moved to Edinburgh. Wrote the Freedom and Whisky blog. Scottish spokesman of Mises UK. Tuesday Club treasurer.

Libertarianism

Positive and Negative liberties. Problems with these terms.

Show the Nolan Chart. Positions for Con, Lab, LibDem, Communist and Nazi. Show Libertarian position (not left or right). SNP – new chart or where on main chart?

17th Century. James VI and I. Charles I. Jenny Geddes 1637 and National Covenant. England and taxation. War of the Three Kingdoms. Cromwell. Puritanism and social restrictions. Restoration and Charles II. Puritans to Massachusetts.

(Hillary Clinton is Oliver Cromwell and Donald Trump is Charles II.)

James VII and II. All goes wrong again. King Billy! Still relevant here in Glasgow: Rangers and Celtic!

Bill of Rights 1689. Separation of powers and freedom of speech. Keep and Bear arms.

1775, 1776, 1783 and 1787. No taxation without representation. First and Second amendments. Separation of Church and State. Separation of Economy and State. US originally more or less libertarian in limited state form.

Non-Aggression Principle. It’s wrong to initiate force or fraud.

How to deal with those who breach the NAP?

First libertarian solution proposed is to form a special institution for that purpose and for that purpose only. It’s called the State.

This is defined as a “Limited State”.

Typically, the State has the police to protect us from domestic force and fraud initiators, the military to protect us from foreign force initiators, and a court system to decide whether someone has or has not aggressed, and, if so, what to do about it. Restitution and reimbursement of costs is to be preferred whenever possible.

But, say other libertarians: this “State” is financed by taxation and is itself a force initiator. Some limited statists (Ayn Rand) have suggested possible ways round this.

The second suggestion is anarcho-capitalism, which means the privatisation of all government functions.

A priori and empirical approaches to AnCap.

Mention Murray Rothbard and Man Economy and State. Power and Market.

Interlude.

Adam Smith (from the Boston Review) John Paul Rollert

When he wrote The Wealth of Nations, he devoted an unusually large amount of space to accounting for the superiority of the Scottish system—and the inferiority of the English.

Universities such as Oxford guaranteed “large salaries” to professors, rendering them “altogether independent of the diligence and success in their professions.”

If a professor is paid regardless of whether he discharges his duty as a teacher, he will tend “to neglect it altogether” or, if he is subject to some higher power, to “perform it in as careless and slovenly a manner as that authority will permit.”

In contrast, at Scottish universities the salaries were fairly small, and professors depended on course subscriptions for the majority of their income. At Glasgow, students paid tuition to gain access to the university, but they also paid honoraria to their particular professors. The fees were small, but taken together, they provided a substantial part of a professor’s income, giving him a strong incentive to become a superior teacher.


So, the question tonight is this. Should all professors at Glasgow University publish their lectures on YouTube, like the blessed Jordan Peterson, and on these professorial websites should there be a “Donate Button” and should a substantial part of a professor’s income be earned in that manner?

On to Austrian Economics.

Fifteenth Century. Followers of St Thomas Aquinas at Salamanca University. These were the Late Scholastics. Economic laws were much like other natural laws. Supply and demand, exchange rates, causes of inflation. Advocates of property rights, freedom of contract. They opposed excessive taxation, price controls and other regulations. Moral Theologians. Tell governments what they cannot do.

Richard Cantillon. Thought experiments. To explain economics. (1730). The market as an entrepreneurial process. Austrian theory of money creation. Enters the economy step-by-step. The Cantillon effect. Now, with added QE!

Turgot, Say and Bastiat. No over or underproduction in a free market (Say). Broken Window Fallacy (Bastiat).

Labour value theory held in Britain leading to Marxism.

Carl MengerPrinciple of Economics1871 founder of Austrian School, continuing on from the earlier folk. Jevons and Walras at same time.

Subjective basis of economic value and theory of marginal utility.

Money emerges in the free market as the most marketable commodity. What about Bitcoin?

Science of Human Action.

Historical School. Berlin. Nazis.

Freddy von Wieser. Eugen Bohm-Bawerk (Positive Theory of Capital) – normal rate of profit is the interest rate.

Ludwig von Mises.

Theory of Money and Credit. Marginal Utility applies to money. The regression Theorem.

Human Action.

Economic truths derived from self-evident axioms. Cannot be empirically tested.

Austrian theory of the business cycle.

Impossibility of calculation under socialism because it has no private capital nor a market in capital goods. No way of knowing what to make. The end of civilisation.

That’s why Corbynism can’t work.

See the Soviet Union. 120 million dead.

Mises to Switzerland then USA. Rothbard and others. Man, Economy and State.

Rand and the libertarian movement.

Hayek. Road to Serfdom. IEA. Anthony Fisher. Harris and Seldon.

Ludwig Erhard.

Mises Institute. Lew Rockwell. Jeff Deist (interviewed me after Scottish referendum). Hans-Hermann Hoppe.

The institute is not in the beltway.

Science of Economics

Only individuals choose. Not groups.

The study of the market order is fundamentally about exchange behaviour and the institutions within which exchanges take place.

The “facts” of the social sciences are what people believe and think.

Utility and costs are subjective.

The price system economises on the information that people need to process in making their decisions.

Private property in the means of production is a necessary condition for rational economic calculation.

The competitive market is a process of entrepreneurial discovery.

Money is non-neutral. Prices do not adjust instantaneously throughout the system (Cantillon effect). QE. Inflation is socially harmful. It steals from the productive. Arrest Mark Carney now!

Capital Structure consists of heterogeneous goods that have multispecific tasks.

Social Institutions often the result of human action but not of human design. E.g the market economy and the price system.

Any questions?


Friday, 27 April 2018

Count Dankula and the Scottish press

I posted a link to my Monday Airdrie photos and now wish to give some observations on the whole Dankula affair. 

What was particularly fascinating was the reporting and commentary in the Scottish media.

Take for example this piece in the Herald.

Haggerty acknowledges that she is "leaning more favourably towards the free speech side" but that "context is everything". She goes on to discuss the "far right" but gives no definition of that term. She states that legacy publications like the Herald "understand the need to balance freedom of speech with responsibility" and compares that process to how things are done on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, their processes supposedly allowing the "far right" to dominate the digital space

What's completely missing here is any acknowledgement that the big digital platforms are dominated by cultural Marxists who hate not just the "far right" (however defined) but also traditional conservatives, classical liberals and libertarians. That's why so many on the "right" have had their digital platforms removed without further ado. How many leftists have been similarly targeted? Not many.

The idea that Trump became President by using social media "in the darkest way that we have ever seen" is bizarre in the extreme. He became President by campaigning strongly in the key swing states that determine the outcome in the electoral college. Hillary Clinton ignored those states and even referred to their inhabitants as "deplorables". That one word probably cost her the election. Simply put, she was a terrible candidate despite having overwhelming support from the legacy media in the US and indeed over here in the UK. The Herald itself loved Hillary and still does.

Haggerty misses out a hugely important point. Mark Meechan (Dankula) used to have a picture of Lenin on his wall. Meechan was a communist, not a nazi, and communists murdered many more folk than even the nazis. We libertarians are opposed to both international socialists like Lenin and national socialists like Hitler. Why can't the press distinguish between freedom and tyranny? Using terms like "left" and "right" is so last week...


Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Rules of the road



Last week I attended an event in Edinburgh. After dinner there was discussion about prisons and their role in society. One of our number suggested that unnecessary drug laws were responsible for many folk ending up in prison. I agreed and also made the point that the state was far too intrusive generally. For example, pub owners should be allowed to decide whether smoking should (or should not) be allowed in their premises.
 

I was asked whether it should be compulsory to wear seat belts and I replied in the negative. Afterwards I realised that I’m far too used to discussing such matters with fellow libertarians. I would have elaborated further had there been more time.
 

The correct answer is, of course, that it should be up to the owner of the road to decide.
 

A farmer who has a private road running to his farm should be free to make the rules for that road, including whether or not someone should be obliged to wear a seat belt.

Similarly, the private owners of Silverstone allow Grand Prix drivers to go at rather more than the “national” speed limit of 70 mph. I don’t think that any of those drivers get speeding tickets.

My questioner was no doubt thinking about state owned roads. As always, the owner gets to set the rules. Including when the owner is the state. Whether or not the state should own roads is quite another question…

If I owned the M8 or Lothian Road I’d set rules for users. Those rules may well include the use of seat belts and speed limits. In fact, they probably would.

We libertarians must remember that not everyone spends all day studying the finer points of our philosophy.

Count Dankula

You can see my photographs taken at the Count Dankula sentencing over here:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/56701337@N00/sets/72157668143762528

Starting again..

I've decided that it's time to restart this blog.

The very first post in 2002 started as follows:


Welcome to this new blog. The title Freedom and Whisky links the two themes of this blog: libertarianism and Scotland. The libertarianism will, however, sometimes extend beyond events in Scotland and I shall also be covering non-political news of interest to me north of the border.


There's really nothing to add to that. 


Freedom and Whisky will continue just as before.


So why the long gap?


In the lead up to the 2014 referendum I had entered into semi-retirement and was able to spend a vast amount of time following the national debate. Like most Scottish libertarians whom I know I voted for Scottish independence as the more decentralist option. Similarly I voted for Brexit, also the decentralist position. Needless to say this doesn't mean that I support the current extraordinarily authoritarian Scottish government nor indeed the utterly incompetent UK one. After the Scottish referendum I'd just become totally "blogged out", and since then have spent far too much time reading other folks' online pronouncements.


Now mine will start again...



Sunday, 22 April 2018

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

I wrote this over on the Libertarian Alliance website

Nigel gets it.

Over the years, opinion polls here show that Scotland is only one or two percent more socialist than England – when the questions are about specific issues rather than about Labour v Conservative.

Since the war, only the Tories have won more than 50% of the Scottish vote in a UK general election. Except that it wasn’t really the Tories: it was the Scottish Unionist party that won in 1955. Replacing the Unionists (seen up here as Scottish patriots) with a London-centric Conservative party was a huge mistake. Almost everyone here thinks that Scotland is a nation, albeit one that can be happy in a union with the rest of the UK. But the Tories are not seen as embracing that primary loyalty to Scotland. This explains why so many folk in traditional Conservative areas now vote SNP.

Another thing to consider is that we have a four party system up here. The Labour vote is efficiently distributed in that they get few votes in rural and small town Scotland but lots in the cities. That enables Labour to mop up Westminster first past the post seats often with less than half of the vote. But now we have PR in Scottish local elections. In Glasgow in 2003 under first past the post Labour won 71 out of 79 council seats. A Labour city? But they only achieved 47.7% of the vote. In 2012 under PR Labour got 46.72% of the vote but only 44 seats. Not so Labour as you might have thought. And that’s why Labour is now panicking. The first past the post system in May could wipe out large numbers of Scottish Labour seats at Westminster.

Sean said that Scotland is more community minded than England. I’ve lived in both countries and am half English and half Scottish. I think that Sean is correct.

But why?

In the Highlands and Islands – the romantic heart of Scotland – the land is poor and the seas rough. Crofters and fishermen have always had to co-operate for survival. Community mindedness is essential.

In small town Scotland – in which I grew up – a sizeable proportion of the population never move away. I was at a funeral a year ago and almost all of the attendees still lived in my old hometown. That inevitably leads to a greater sense of community than in the ever-changing suburbs of London, Manchester or Birmingham.

And even in the cities there is a simple explanation too. Glasgow and Edinburgh are far more like continental cities than English ones. The West End of Glasgow and the New Town of Edinburgh are among the most desirable and expensive residential areas in the UK. But they are communitarian because of the shared nature of the buildings many of which are occupied by the Scottish middle class elite. Scottish life is either remote or concentrated – so unlike suburban England.

But communitarianism doesn’t necessarily imply socialism, does it? As Hans-Hermann Hoppe teaches us, a libertarian society would of necessity be more communitarian.

But without the state.

How to get there is the question.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

London is ruining Britain

I am qualified as a Chartered Secretary. The very nature of the job means that company secretaries tend to be employed in head offices.

The ICSA operates throughout the UK and abroad. I've done an analysis of UK jobs advertised in our latest journal. With Scotland having around 9% of the UK population one might think that the percentage of jobs up here would reflect that. Most months there are Scottish jobs advertised but there are none at all this month.

So what about the rest of the "provinces"? Here's what I found.

Jobs in Northern Ireland: 0%

In Wales: 0%

In the Northwest of England: 0%

In Yorkshire and Humberside: 0%

In the Southwest of England: 0%

In the Northeast of England: 1%

In the East Midlands: 1%

In the East of England: 1%

In the West Midlands: 6%

In the Home Counties: 22%

In London: 69%

So, 91% of these well-paid head office jobs are in London and its outer suburbs. Market forces say our southern friends. We're just so much more entrepreneurial than the rest of you. I don't believe that for a moment.

Surely the huge centralisation of the UK state apparatus leads to private companies needing to base themselves in the Southeast. Fortunately we in Scotland have a way out.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Comments

I've managed to copy the two comments from e-mail notifications.

The first:

I doubt the Daily Mail thinks voting for twenty years of socialism is inline with their target readership. Wealthier Nation needs to outline a clear path to a parliament that reflects actual Scottish values which consistently show that on most issues people are not as left wing as our representation suggests.

The second:

Do you think you would join with the Scottish conservatives and right leaning people from the SNP after a yes vote? If a large enough popular party cannot be built then there seems to be an overwhelming consensus that reducing poverty and equality will be done through higher taxation and access to the huge oil revenue stream.
Wealthy Nation certainly plans to demonstrate the compatibility of liberal (in the original sense of the word) ideas with Scottish values.

WN takes no view in favour or against any political parties. Our argument is that Scotland is inherently a wealthy nation that would benefit from independence.

Comments

I'm very sorry to say that I accidentally deleted two comments that were awaiting approval. Please resubmit. I think there was reference to the Daily Mail and to the future of the Scottish "right".

Sunday, 26 January 2014

No voice for Yes

There was a fascinating article from Pete Martin in the Scotsman the other day:
With dwindling readerships and financial problems aplenty, you’d think Scotland’s editors would stop at nothing, stoop to anything, to boost circulation. They would bend over for Satan, red hot poker in hand, for an extra sale.

Apparently not. There’s one sales ploy to which no Scottish-based title is prepared to sink. And that’s coming out in favour of Scottish independence.

Consider this extraordinary piece in yesterday's Scottish edition of the Daily Mail. I attempted to respond but comments seemed to have been shut down after a mere 24 replies. I can just imagine the reaction of my late mother, a Daily Mail reader...

After today's poll in Scotland on Sunday that shows a five percent increase in Yes voting intentions some media folk might just jump at an obvious business opportunity.

David Reid

On the third of January I attended the funeral of David Reid, one of the founders of the Prestwick Airport Aviation Group.

Here is an appreciation that was published in the Herald:

Enthusiasts come in for much ill-informed flak. However, a sub­stantial number who were inspired by their enthusiasm in the club and sustained by Davie Reid have made significant careers in aviation and other fields and have risen to high positions that include head of airworthiness for Airbus, commander in chief of the Canadian Air Force and head of quality for British Aerospace.

Davie's legacy to us and to Prestwick Airport is great and manifest.

This appreciation was part of a tribute given during the church service. Right at the moment of Davie's coffin being lowered a Boeing 737 passed directly over Ayr Cemetery.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Wealthy Nation

I am please to announce that I've become a supporter of Wealthy Nation, a new Scottish site "in favour of Empowerment, Independence, Economic Liberty and Self Reliance".

Here is the introductory article from Michael Fry.

Welcome to Wealthy Nation. We are a group of Scots who stand to the right of centre on the political spectrum and who are going to vote Yes to the independence of our country in the referendum on September 18, 2014.

To some observers this intention may come as a surprise, but we think Scottish independence is a logical extension of our belief in personal, political, social and economic freedom". On the Wealthy Nation website we have set up, we want over the coming months to discuss and define the relationship between that national goal and the principles we hold. We will show also how the kind of practical policies we advocate will make the Scotland of the future a much richer and happier place.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Is it really ten years?

I was having a look at some old posts on this site and came across this 2003 one about Edinburgh's buses. Note the quote from the Scotsman:
It is felt the changes would make the area a much more pleasant shopping environment once trams start running in the capital.
Trams running! Good grief!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Weegism: the menace that stalks Edinburgh

Poor Tony Winters has become a bit of a laughing stock:
“I said I thought it was racist that if you come from Edinburgh you can get brown sauce free but people from elsewhere, who like ketchup, have to pay. They just said it’s what they do.

We went to another chip shop and the guy was killing himself laughing when we told him. It reeks of racism. Just because we come from the west and tend to like ketchup instead of brown sauce. It’s clear they’re discriminating and I don’t think it’s right.”

Most of the commenters see this for the nonsense that it is. But the real point is that there shouldn't be any laws concerning human action whatsoever so long as there's no initiation of force or fraud. All laws against "racism" should be swept away along with those laws that restrict freedom of speech and of association (and non-association).

Monday, 26 August 2013

Edinburgh New Town 2013

I've updated my Scottish Clouds blog with some new photos.

Here's one of them:

DSCF0053 by David Farrer
DSCF0053, a photo by David Farrer on Flickr.

Friday, 16 August 2013

Time to return

First I'd like to mention ScotFree2014

Welcome to the ScotFree2014 blog. It represents libertarians who are going to vote for Scottish independence in the referendum on September 18, 2014. Here we want to discuss all the issues that will arise in winning freedom for Scotland, economic, social and political. But above all we want to explore how this new freedom will enrich the personal lives of the individual men and women who live here. We look forward to hearing from you.

Monday, 19 November 2012

Who, exactly, is doing this "allocation"?

I've more-or-less given up on reading stuff about the economic prospects of an independent Scotland. We'd be prosperous or poor according to the extent that property rights are supported. That's about it.

But I just can't stop myself reading this sort of thing:

Scotland’s economic future would be brighter if North Sea oil and gas revenues were allocated on a geographical basis, as the IFS claims its public finances “look to have been somewhat stronger than the UK’s in recent years”.

However, the report warns that if Scotland was to receive oil and gas revenues based on its population rather than geography, the situation would leave the country’s economy in a much weaker position in the long term, due to public spending outstripping tax revenues.

Now I don't believe that the oil belongs to any government. It should be solely under the control of the companies that drill it from under the seabed. Subject of course to any justifiable compensation to fishermen who had previously mixed their labour with the relevant parts of the North Sea.

But if one accepts that government may tax the oil then it surely follows that the government of the country in whose waters the oil resides would be the one to levy any taxation.

The oil in question has already been allocated by geography and geology. Unsurprisingly, international law accepts that the vast majority of the oil in question lies in Scottish territory. If you're not too keen on technical legal matters, consult a map.

If the oil is to be "allocated" on a population basis then it follows that around 8.5% of the M25 would belong to the government of an independent Scotland.

Monday, 5 November 2012

The recovery of 5,000 comments

For the past few weeks I’ve been downloading old comments onto this new template and it’s been quite a job. So let’s go back to the beginning of Freedom and Whisky.

I started F&W back in April 2002 using the original system developed by Blogger.com. Back in those days blogs didn’t have comments. Then a company by the name of Haloscan came up with some software that could be placed onto the Blogger template and this enabled commenting on Freedom and Whisky.

After a while Google acquired Blogger but the only difference was having to log on using a Google password instead of a Blogger one. Haloscan was also acquired by another company – in this case Echo.

Google gradually introduced various new template styles and the later ones included built-in commenting facilities. I resisted upgrading the template because of various reports that I may lose old comments. That was probably a mistake.

On 1st April (Ha! Ha!) this year Echo (formerly Haloscan) announced that all comments would disappear on 1st October. Not to worry though, I could download something called an “XML file” and use it to upload the historical comments to another commenting provider.

I then decided that it really was time to use an up-to-date Google template.

Many web searches indicated that the Disqus system would best be able to cope with this, but, alas, that was not to be. To cut a very long story short, Disqus managed to "download" around 160 out of 5,000-odd comments from the XML file to the new template, but without any of them actually being readable on the blog!

Back to the drawing board.

I went back to the original template. By an amazing stroke of good luck I discovered that I could change the Haloscan/Echo system's controls to show the comments directly onto the face of the blog rather than it being necessary to click through to read each post's comments. That meant that I could copy and save all of the monthly archives, including comments, into around 120 files instead of perhaps 5,000!

I did that during August and September.

Then I switched back to the new template and started the process of copying and pasting the old comments onto the new template, with each post's comments being transferred as a batch. The job was finished earlier today. Here's the control document:


Almost all comments ever written have been transferred, although quite a few in 2003 seem to have completely disappeared from the commenting history. And since then only the last 25 comments from each post have been recovered. The vast majority of posts attracted less than 25 comments but some did go up to 57 comments!

Nevertheless, I reckon that around eighty to ninety percent of all comments now appear on the new template.

If any aggrieved commenter has records of any missing comments please get in touch...




Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Ahead of its time...

I'm still copying the comments across from my old template to this new one. It's very interesting re-reading some of my old posts. Like this one from July 2004:

The Bank of Scotland: RIP


Ever since the "merger" of the Bank of Scotland with the Halifax there's been an outpouring of complaints from irate customers of "The Bank". Hardly a day goes by without a letter being published in the Scotsman and today we have three. (Here's one from Monday.)

My mother's family banked with the British Linen Bank in Annan. They even lived in Bank Street! Ever since moving away in the 1940's my mother always kept a small balance in "her" bank and didn't mind too much when it became part of the Bank of Scotland. Out of the blue she received a letter "thanking her for choosing to bank with the Halifax". She hadn't, nor had any of the other Bank of Scotland customers whose accounts were unilaterally transferred after the "merger". My mother is now unable to communicate with the Annan branch - that's no longer allowed.

My wife and I both opened ISA accounts with the Bank of Scotland - it offered the best rates at the time and we liked the Scottish connection. These accounts were also unilaterally transferred to the Halifax after the "merger". Last night my wife phoned the bank to transfer a sum from her ISA account to her current account, which is with the Clydesdale Bank. First she had to "re-register" her account with a new security code and was then told that she could only make a telephonic transfer from her ISA account to a current account with the Halifax/Bank of Scotland and not to an outside bank. She would have to go into town, withdraw cash from HBoS and deposit it into her own bank! These were the new rules that now applied to ISA accounts according to the phone operator. We cursed Gordon Brown. After the call we had a look at my wife's ISA statement and saw that she had indeed made a similar telephonic transfer to the Clydesdale not too long ago. This morning she phoned HBoS again and was asked to "re-register her account with a new security code" although she had done that last night! Today's operator confirmed the new rules: they're nothing to do with Mr Brown but are the result of the bank "integration". She also said that we could change our accounts from "branch-based" to "telephone-based" ones, and that would enable us to transfer funds to another organisation by telephone in future. This would take ten days to organise! But our accounts weren't opened at any particular branch - the forms were sent by post from the Bank of Scotland's head office. We never chose to have "branch-based" accounts. We were also told that the telephone account would pay an extra 1% interest. Why weren't we told of this option before? All-in-all this "merger" has been an unmitigated disaster and looks like destroying one of Scotland's oldest and proudest businesses. It's such a shame.


My immediately previous post was about "forthcoming" financial problems involving the US housing market...