Sunday, 27 September 2015

Men of Yore: Friedrich Koenig

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity. 

Friedrich Koenig

He was born at Eisleben on April 17, 1774, and, after attending school, was apprenticed to a printer of Leipzig and then worked as a journeyman. His first improvements were made in connexion with the ordinary hand press. To further his projects he came to England in 1806, and it was soon after this that he met his countryman, Andreas Friedrich Bauer (1783–1860), who possessed the mechanical skill Koeng lacked. Four patents were taken out between 1810 and 1814 and from these came the power-driven flat bed printing machine in which the paper was pressed against the type by a cylindrical roller. Through John Walter (1776–1847), two of Koenigs machines were installed for printing the Times, and with the appearance of the issue of November 28, 1814, a new era in newspaper production began. Koenigs success, however, was but the prelude to a long struggle against difficulties. Returning to Germany with Bauer in 1817, he founded a works for the building of printing machines at Oberzell near Würzburg, only to find it next to impossible to obtain properly skilled artisans. Five years indeed passed before the partners completed their first German printing machine, and throughout his life Koenig met with little but adversity. He died at Oberzell at the age of fifty-eight years. The business was carried on by Bauer and relations, and after-wards gained a wide reputation. The speed of an early Koenig machine was about two thousand sheets an hour. Improvements by Cowper and Applegarth raised the speed to 5,000—10,000 sheets an hour, the Hoes of America then built machines doubling the capacity and to-day the rate of printing is some fifty times as fast as that in 1814.


The ability to communicate ideas quickly, cheaply and conveniently (mass-media) is something we Westerners take for granted.  Radio, tv, the internet, wi-fi, smartphones, social media and all the rest has resulted in us being able to swim in a sea of information (with all the benefits & hazards it brings with it).  But this wasn't always the case.

Prior to Friedrich Koenigs revolutionary printing press all printing had to be done the same way that Gutenberg did it 300 years previously: one sheet at a time, and by hand.  It was slow and expensive.  Koenig had the genius idea of mechanising the process and making it cyclical, much like modern day production lines: which comprise a linear-progressive part (the coke bottle travelling along the linear conveyor belt) and multiple cyclical-repetitive parts (e.g. the bottle filling contraption, the bottle capping contraption, the bottle labelling contraption, all doing the same job over and over again).  This is precisely what Koenig did with his genius idea of using a roller as a method of printing repeatedly.

The result of his invention is of course the growth of the printed-press media (newspapers, journals, comics, magazines etc) and all the benefits that these things brought us.

P.S. The linear and cyclical elements in a production line are like the linear and cyclical elements in life: linear = masculine, cyclical = feminine.  For example the linear view of history tends towards the progressive view (history as forever improving), and the cyclical view of history tends towards the repetitive view (history as forever repeating e.g the Indian Yugas, or Oswald Spenglers cyclical view of history etc).


Monday, 21 September 2015

Short Story: "Why've you never settled down? Found a woman, squatted in a hovel and raised sproglets?"

[Foreword: A short story offering one perspective about luuurrrvv, nookie and marriage in the 33rd century.

As with the other short stories on this blog the setting is the science-fiction computer game world Frontier:Elite.  Knowledge of the game isn't important and the story can be read and understood without knowing anything about it. It's just an environment to experiment with different ideas, like a proverbial 'sandbox world'. A sandbox world is one that anyone can express themselves in without any consequences.  It's what makes fiction and fantasy so valuable: that a world can be created without consequences.]

"Why've you never settled down?  Found a woman, squatted in a hovel and raised sproglets?"

Location: Mitcheldever, Turner's World, Alioth System
Date: August 3214

    Bardza and Luther were in a spartanly furnished dining room, sat on either side of a cheap 2x4 foot dining table which was pressed up against one wall.  An old fashioned analog clock hung on one of the walls.  The duo were sipping algae-liquor and talking about their one-ship interstellar business.  They had just gotten back from a month long trading expedition to different planets in the populous Alioth system selling crates of Tesla-Resonance-Tubes (quarries used TRTs instead of TNT explosives to mine rock) to any miner who would buy them.  With some of the money earned from the expedition Bardza had used it to put a down payment on a new house for him and his wife, who was presently in the kitchen making the men some lunch.  The couple were in the process of furnishing the house, hence it's spartan condition.

    The conversation moved off from topics such as interstellar tax and insurance policies to more prosaic matters.

    "So why've you never settled down?  Found a woman, squatted in a hovel and raised sproglets, me ol' mate?"  Asked the 40-something, red-bearded, lumberjack-esque Bardza in his thick Australian accent.
    "Me?  It's not for me."  Replied the 30-something, bearded, Luther.
    "Partnerships, marriage, call it what you will."
    "Why's that then?  There ain't nothing wrong with yur tackle is there?!" Bardza joked.
    "No.  It's.. It's two things really.  One, I got my heart broke by an android back in 3204.  One of those seduction-droids that hang on the sidewalks waiting for stray Johns to pick up."
    "The hooker 'droids?  You mean the human looking ones?"
    "Yeah, I couldn't tell the difference first time I saw her.  They look identical.  It wasn't until after I was rid of her that I found the truth."
    "Well, I've visited a fair few brothels, but they don't have the connivin' bots in there.  What're they like then, these seduction-droids?"
    "They make you fall in love with them."
    "That's it?"  Bardza said dissapointedly.
    Luther looked squarely at Bardza.  "I mean 'really' fall in love with you.  They've got special programming inside them that uses hard-core psychological profiling to ensnare unsuspecting humans.  Inexperienced humans like me.  Then they use pheromones, body language, clothing, inflection, phrases and all the rest of it to make you fall deeply in love with them.  The Federation have banned seduction-droids because of the harm they do.  They're like a drug-pusher who forces you to get dependent on his supply.  The seduction-droid works in the same way, but with a robots efficiency."
    "How long did she work her magic on you for?""
    Looked down at the floor again.  "Nine months.  Then I found her one night getting shafted up the arse in an alleyway by a swarthy corpulent docker.  Broke my heart."  He had a swig of liquor.  "But she tried to work her magic, you know, like human women all over the galaxy do, and claim he meant nothing to her."   He shook his head and had another drink.  "I managed to put some distance between her and me, a few dozen light years.  The feelings for her still lingered though; for a long time afterwards.  It's like falling in love with a human woman, but oh so much worse, because.."
    "Because it's a seduction-droid."
    Luther nodded.  "Which means that they are extremely efficient and good at their job.  Like they're designed to be.  The designers did a top-notch job.  Can't fault them for that."
    "And there's no chance of you recovering?  I mean, nearly all other men can get over a woman.  A little heartbreak in someones life is a common thing ya' know."
    "This is different.  The Federation Psychological Association have even made official research into it."
    Bardzas eyebrows jumped.  "No kidding!"
    "Yeah, it's 'that' endemic throughout the brothels.  The Federation Navy have reported that it's effected the morale of their sailors."
    "Well bugger me.  I never would've figured that brothels could get so mechanically efficient at their job.  Not like the brothels in the Independent systems.  Now that's where you can get some proper lovin' with real flesh 'n' blood human women!"
    Luther finished off the last of the liquor then put the tumbler on the table.  "And that's one of the reasons why I can't get married."
    "I hope the other's not as bleak mate.  Or I might have to go and open the misses' barrel of white wine Spritzer and end it all!"  Bardza said sarcastically.
    "It ain't that bleak.  It's quite simple: I don't like living over people."
    "What d'ya mean?"
    "Ruling over them, being their superior.  I just feel like I'm compelled to manage other people.  To tell them what to do every day.  And I hate the thought of having to manage someone for the rest of my life.  It'd be the end of me."
    "Woah..  It must be something close to yur heart.  Either that or the liquors gettin' to ya!"
    "It is something close to my heart.  Living with people on the level, as free men or partners in a business like we are, that I can cope with.  It's the way that all men should live: as equals.  But ruling over people or being ruled by people is a no-no.  I couldn't stand the thought of having to, being put in the position where I have no choice but to give them orders."
    "So you hate having no choice?"
    "I hate being un-free.  Being un-free means I have no choice."
    "Is that what marriage is to you?  Not having a choice?"
    "Of course.  If I rule over someone then I don't have any choice in the matter 'but' to rule them.  I would have no options, no choice, no future.  I wouldn't be a free man anymore.  It would be an imposition on me; a burden.  Why would a free man want that kind of life?  If I 'was' put into a position like that then I would inevitably end up hating the people I ruled over.  I would despise them for existing because their existence would be the cause of my own misery: my lack of freedom.  They would be despised by me and therefore they would be miserable.  With us both miserable what kind of life would that leave?  For either of us?"
    "It ain't that way with the missus and me."
    "That's different.  You want to rule over her.  That's your choice.  That's what you and her decided."
    "It ain't rulin' it's more like leadin', and we're happy because of it."
    "Great.  That's what you want."
    "But don't ya see mate.  I can be her boss 'and' enjoy it at the same time.  I don't see her as a burden like what you do."
    "That's probably because we're different people Bardza."
    "Hmph.  So, what're you saying?  That I like be the boss of me missus?"
    "It strikes me that way yes."
    "And if I'm the boss, that means that I should have fewer choices right?  Like what you believe."
    "Yeah, in theory."
    "But I'm not."
    Luther paused for a second.
    Bardza continued.  "And d'you know why?"
    "'Cause I see her as an opportunity and not a burden.  Something I can play with and use as I best see fit.  Importantly, for the betterment of both of us."
    "Well that's the fundamental difference between us then isn't it?  I couldn't do that to another human being.  I can only treat people as equals."
    "Like what gods do?"
    Luther was taken by surprise by the Left-Field remark.  "Gods?  What?  I don't.."
    "Like what gods do.  Oh, I don't mean the big-man 'God', I mean lesser gods.  You know the metaphysical structure of the cosmos right?"
    "Yes.  It's a three tier hierarchy." Luther gestured with his free-hand.  "There's an infinite God at the top tier, like Plotinus described; then an infinite-number of finite-form gods beneath them, the gods of the old pantheon or the realm of regular physics; and then the finite-lump of infinitely-malleable matter beneath that, the realm of quantum physics."
    "What do you mean 'yeah'?  I don't understand what you're saying.  What's your point?"
    "You want to treat every one as equals right?  And you have a pretty firm and unyielding character right?"
    "I wouldn't say that, but.."
    "I know 'plenty' of people who'd say otherwise mate!"  Bardza joshed.
    Luther didn't find the remark in the slightest bit funny and gave Bardza a look that said so.
    Bardza decided not to force the joke and continued.  "Anyway.. what it means is that you are in the second tier of existence, the tier with the fixed form gods."
    "I don't have a great relationship with God I'll admit that."
    "That's it then.  You're basically like a god instead of like God, and want to exist with all other gods as 'free men' like you say: with no-one ruling over anyone else."
    "Hmm.  Are you saying that I need to get with God to be able to have a happy marriage, is that it?"
    "Not just to have a happy marriage, but to be able to lead other people.  To lead them.  If you want to lead gods and matter like what God does, then you need to get one with God.  Sort out whatever beef you have with him and then you'll be able to lead other people, like God does with the cosmos."

    After the minute-hand on the analog clock had revolved several times, the reverie in the room was gently broken by the gentle 'pad-pad-pad' of Bardzas homely yet cute wife who walked barefooted in to the room carrying two plates of rice and curry, and a different mood.
    "Ahh this looks smashin' luv!"  Exclaimed Bardza.  "I hope it's better than that batch you cooked up last week.  That cuttlefish-Vindaloo.  Strewth!  That lot left me on the toilet for days on end!"  He teased.
    "Bardza!"  The missus said, badly failing to stifle a grin.
    "Hahaha!"  He bellouously laughed.  Then slapped her cheekily on the arse as she left the room.  She let out a 'yelp', tittered, and then 'pad-pad-pad'-ed back in to the kitchen.
    "Well tuck in mate.  Best get it whilst it's still hot.  We got a lot of work to do this avo.  No point wastin' time now is there?"
    Luther looked at the the plate of curry, picked up a fork.  "No, I guess not."  Then tucked in.
    It was going to be a long afternoon of contemplation and work.


Friday, 11 September 2015

Men of Yore: Carl Bosch

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity. 

Carl Bosch

Carl Bosch was born at Cologne on August 27, 1874, and grew up there. From 1894 to 1896 he studied metallurgy and mechanical engineering at the Technische Hochschule in Charlottenburg, but started reading chemistry at Leipzig University in 1896. He graduated under Professor Wislicenus with a paper on organic chemistry in 1898. He entered the employ of the Badische Anilin- und Sodafabrik, Ludwigshafen, Rhine as a chemist in April 1899 and participated actively in the development of the then new industry of synthetic indigo under the guidance of Dr. Rudolf Knietsch.

At the turn of the century Bosch became interested in the problem of the fixing of nitrogen and his first experiments in this field were done with metal cyanides and nitrides; in 1907 he started a pilot plant for the production of barium cyanide.

Bosch's opportunity for really large-scale work came when in 1908 the Badische Anilin- und Sodafabrik acquired the process of high-pressure synthesis of ammonia, which had been developed by Fritz Haber at the Technische Hochschule in Karlsruhe. Bosch was given the task of developing this process on a large industrial scale. This task involved the construction of plant and apparatus which would stand up to working at high gas pressure and high reaction temperatures. Haber's catalysts, osmium and uranium had to be replaced by a contact substance which would be both cheaper and more easily available. Bosch and his collaborators found the solution by using pure iron with certain additives. Further problems which had to be solved were the construction of safe high-pressurized blast furnaces, a cheap way of producing and cleaning the gases necessary for the synthesis of ammonia. Step by step Bosch went on to using increasingly larger manufacturing units and thus created the industry which deals with the production of synthetic ammonia according to the high-pressure process.

From this work resulted the second task of making the thus won ammonia available for use in industry and agriculture. Bosch succeeded in working out methods for the industrial production of nitrogen fertilizers, thus providing practically every country in the world with sufficient fertilizers for agricultural purposes. The Stickstoffwerke (Nitrogen works) in Oppau were opened in 1913, followed by the even larger Leunawerke near Merseburg in 1917, where the synthesis of methanol and the hydrogenation of oil were added to the production programme. Bosch was appointed Managing Director of the Badische Anilin- und Sodafabrik in 1919 and in 1925 was made Principal of the I.G. Farbenindustrie Aktiengesellschaft, which was created by the merger of the German coal-tar dye works. In 1935 Bosch was appointed Chairman of the Board of Directors of the I.G. Farbenindustrie A.G.

Bosch was honoured in many ways and not only for his achievements and inventions in the field of industry, but also for his research in pure science, which he considered to be his duty. He received the honorary doctorate of the Technische Hochschule in Karlsruhe (1918), of the Landwirtschaftliche Hochschule (Agriculture College), Berlin (1921), the Technische Hochschule in Munich (1922), of Halle University (1927), the Technische Hochschule in Darmstadt (1928). The distinctions of Honorary Senator of the Universities of Heidelberg (1922) and Leipzig (1939), and of Honorary Citizen of Frankfurt (1939) were conferred upon him.

He received the Liebig Memorial Medal of the Association of German Chemists, the Bunsen Medal of the German Bunsen Society, the Siemens Ring, the Golden Grashof Memorial Medal of the VDI (Association of German Engineers), the Exner Medal from the Austrian Trade Association, and the Carl Lueg Memorial Medal from the Association of German Metallurgists. In 1931 he was awarded the highest international honour, the Nobel Prize for Chemistry, jointly with Friedrich Bergius, for their contributions to the invention and development of chemical high pressure methods.

Bosch particularly enjoyed his membership of various German and foreign scientific academies, and his chairmanship of the Kaiser Wilhelm Society of which he became its President in 1937.

He died after a prolonged illness on April 26, 1940.


Fooooood.  Some have too much of the stuff (the obese), some have the wrong sort (the diabetic), some waste it needlessly (a yuppie with bag of salad rotting in the bottom of the fridge), some throw the stuff around (kids at food fights), yet despite all of this wastage there's still plenty enough of the stuff to go around.  And 'why is that' I hear you cry?!  Why it's because of men like Carl Bosch, men who provide us all with ways of producing even more food.  Bosch co-invented the Haber-Bosch process which allows us to manufacture nitrogen fertilisers.  Nitrogen fertilisers which increase the yield of world food production by a significant factor: 'Conservative estimates report 30 to 50% of crop yields are attributed to natural or synthetic commercial fertilizer.'

Without men like Carl Bosch, John Deere, Turnip Townsend, Norman Borlaug (father of the 'Green Revolution') it's likely that many of us would be subsidence farmers toiling aways for a few bushels of grain, instead of living the luxurious existence that their innovations have allowed us.


Monday, 7 September 2015

Alternative Lyrics to Well Known Songs 42 - Still Can't Get Laid

('Still Can't Get Laid' is based on 'All Around the World' by Lisa Stansfield)

This weeks 'alternative lyrics post' is a cautionary tale about one naive youngster who fell for Roosh V's spiel about 'game', the PUA lifestle, and how to score with women.

The youngster in this tale follows Roosh's advice down to the letter: he bought Roosh's book, flew out to Asia (where the so-called 'easy' women are), he adopted the 'Dark Triad' persona, etc etc, and despite this he still couldn't get laid.  Yet despite our heroes failure to score he blames himself for his failings and not Roosh's bad advice.  This is a sad fact about gurus (sex, orlifestyle, or personality, or business or whatever) that the people who follow them sometimes blame themselves for failing to succeed instead of blaming the guru and their duff advice.  Alas, it's just the way it is - the naive getting ripped off.  The unfortunate truth is that some folk have to learn the hard way - by first hand experience.

I don't know how to score with women, so I don't blog about it.  Roosh doesn't know about getting laid either (it costs him $6,500 per woman, and roughly 3-8 women per year), so he shouldn't blog about it either.  He should blog about microbiology and bacteria or whatever he did before become a full time shyster.  It would save a lot of men a lot of wasted time and effort.  Time and effort that they could spend on their own lives rather than throwing it away imitating some charlatan's fictional life.  Blogging about microbiology would also benefit Roosh because he would be informing the world of information about topics that he does know about rather than polluting the world with lies about topics that he doesn't know about.

Now, on to the music!  And before you say anything yes, yes, yes, I 'know' it 's a Lisa Stansfield track.  You don't need to rub it in.  "Lisa Stansfield!  What 'are' you thinking of?!" you say.  "I'm a child of the '80's..." I say, "...I can't help it!  It was everywhere when I was growing up: it was on the radio in the car, in the house, in the supermarket.  After a while it gets into your bones like a bad dose of radioactive fallout!"  On the up side it has provided me with the opportunity to write lyrics about social issues to pop-songs which are as cheesey as you like (which lightens the whole mood).

It has also taught me that young whipper-snappers learn song lyrics almost subconsciously, probably because of the emotion of the song (the music and the singers inflection); and they often learn those lyrics better than boring subjects that they are taught in school, again probably because of the presence of emotion (emotions are important in memory formation).  I'm sure you can all sing a verse or two of Don McCleans American Pie easy enough, but how many of you can remember what you learnt in eighth grade chemistry?  Difficult innit?!  That's emotions doing there thing: aiding the formation and recall of memories.

Play the music video above and sing along using the alternative lyrics given below.

# Still Can't Get Laid #
I don't know how to get laid.
But I know that, somewhere, somehow.
I'm gonna get lucky with Roosh's advice.
I'll never give up looking to get laid.

Been around the world and I, I, I.
I still can't get laid yeah.
I don't know yeah I don't know why.
Why I can't get laid.
'cos I did everything he told me, old Roosh V.
So it must be me.

I read his book, and I flew out West.
I followed his instructions, right down to the bone.
And I was oh oh so bad.
And I did the whole dark triad thing, mm mmm.
Roosh gave the reason, the reason to be bad.
And he said "being bad-ass is how to score."
And that he was oh oh so bad.
And that's how he got ho's in the sack, in the sack.

I couldn't score at home.
It was all forlorn.
Now I'm here in Bangkok, I, I, I..

Been around the world and I, I, I.
I still can't get laid yeah.
I don't know yeah I don't know why.
Why I can't get laid.
'cos I did everything he told me, old Roosh V.
So it must be me.

So much time wasted, in the wrong bars.
I was a fool, the biggest fool of all.
And now I'm oh oh so bad
Yet still can't score in the sack, in the sack.

I couldn't score at home.
It was all forlorn.
Now I'm here in Bangkok, I, I, I..

Been around the world and I, I, I.
I still can't get laid yeah.
I don't know yeah I don't know why.
Why I can't get laid.
'cos I did everything he told me, old Roosh V.
So it must be me.

Been around the world and I, I, I.
I still can't get laid yeah.
I don't know yeah I don't know why.
Why I can't get laid.
'cos I did everything he told me, old Roosh V.
So it must be me.
I need to find him, old Roosh V.

I couldn't score at home.
It was all forlorn.
Now I'm here in Bangkok, I, I, I..

Been around the world and I, I, I.
I still can't get laid yeah.
I don't know yeah I don't know why.
Why I can't get laid.
'cos I did everything he told me, old Roosh V.
So it must be me.

[End of lyrics.]

Friday, 4 September 2015

Men of Yore: Rowland Hill

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity. 

Rowland Hill

Sir Rowland Hill KCB, FRS (3 December 1795 – 27 August 1879) was an English teacher, inventor and social reformer. He campaigned for a comprehensive reform of the postal system, based on the concept of Uniform Penny Post and his solution of prepayment, facilitating the safe, speedy and cheap transfer of letters. Hill later served as a government postal official, and he is usually credited with originating the basic concepts of the modern postal service, including the invention of the postage stamp.

Early life

Hill was born in Blackwell Street, Kidderminster, Worcestershire, England. Rowland's father, Thomas Wright Hill, was an innovator in education and politics, including among his friends Joseph Priestley, Tom Paine and Richard Price.[1] At the age of 12, Rowland became a student-teacher in his father's school. He taught astronomy and earned extra money fixing scientific instruments. He also worked at the Assay Office in Birmingham[2] and painted landscapes in his spare time.[3]

Educational reform

In 1819 he moved his father's school "Hill Top" from central Birmingham, establishing the Hazelwood School at Edgbaston, an affluent neighbourhood of Birmingham, as an "educational refraction of Priestley's ideas".[4][5] Hazelwood was to provide a model for public education for the emerging middle classes, aiming for useful, pupil-centred education which would give sufficient knowledge, skills and understanding to allow a student to continue self-education through a life "most useful to society and most happy to himself".[6] The school, which Hill designed, included innovations including a science laboratory, a swimming pool, and forced air heating. In his Plans for the Government and Liberal Instruction of Boys in Large Numbers Drawn from Experience (1822, often cited as Public Education) he argued that kindness, instead of caning, and moral influence, rather than fear, should be the predominant forces in school discipline. Science was to be a compulsory subject, and students were to be self-governing.[3][7] Hazelwood gained international attention when French education leader and editor Marc Antoine Jullien, former secretary to Maximilien de Robespierre, visited and wrote about the school in the June 1823 issue of his journal Revue encyclopédique. Jullien even transferred his son there. Hazelwood so impressed Jeremy Bentham that in 1827 a branch of the school was created at Bruce Castle in Tottenham, London. In 1833, the original Hazelwood School closed and its educational system was continued at the new Bruce Castle School of which Hill was head master from 1827 until 1839.

Colonisation of South Australia

The colonisation of South Australia was a project of Edward Gibbon Wakefield, who believed that many of the social problems in Britain were caused by overcrowding and overpopulation. In 1832 Rowland Hill published a tract called Home colonies : sketch of a plan for the gradual extinction of pauperism, and for the diminution of crime, based on a Dutch model.[8] Hill then served from 1833 until 1839 as secretary of the South Australian Colonization Commission, which worked successfully to establish a settlement without convicts at what is today Adelaide. The political economist, Robert Torrens was chairman of the Commission.[9] Under the South Australia Act 1834, the colony was to embody the ideals and best qualities of British society, shaped by religious freedom and a commitment to social progress and civil liberties. Rowland Hill's sister Caroline Clark, husband Francis and their large family were to migrate to South Australia in 1850.[10]

Postal reform

Rowland Hill first started to take a serious interest in postal reforms in 1835.[11] In 1836 Robert Wallace, MP, provided Hill with numerous books and documents, which Hill described as a "half hundred weight of material".[12] Hill commenced a detailed study of these documents and this led him to the publication, in early 1837, of a pamphlet called Post Office Reform its Importance and Practicability. He submitted a copy of this to the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Thomas Spring-Rice, on 4 January 1837.[13] This first edition was marked "private and confidential" and was not released to the general public. The Chancellor summoned Hill to a meeting in which the Chancellor suggested improvements, asked for reconsiderations and requested a supplement which Hill duly produced and supplied on 28 January 1837.[14]
In the 1830s at least 12½% of all British mail was conveyed under the personal frank of peers, dignitaries and members of parliament, while censorship and political espionage were conducted by postal officials. Fundamentally, the postal system was mismanaged, wasteful, expensive and slow. It had become inadequate for the needs of an expanding commercial and industrial nation.[15] There is a well-known story, probably apocryphal, about how Hill gained an interest in reforming the postal system; he apparently noticed a young woman too poor to redeem a letter sent to her by her fiancé. At that time, letters were normally paid for by the recipient, not the sender. The recipient could simply refuse delivery. Frauds were commonplace; for example, coded information could appear on the cover of the letter; the recipient would examine the cover to gain the information, and then refuse delivery to avoid payment. Each individual letter had to be logged. In addition, postal rates were complex, depending on the distance and the number of sheets in the letter.[16]

Richard Cobden and John Ramsey McCulloch, both advocates of free trade, attacked the policies of privilege and protection of the Tory government. McCulloch, in 1833, advanced the view that "nothing contributes more to facilitate commerce than the safe, speedy and cheap conveyance of letters."[17]
Hill's famous pamphlet, Post Office Reform: its Importance and Practicability, referred to above, was privately circulated in 1837. The report called for "low and uniform rates" according to weight, rather than distance. Hill's study reported his findings and those of Charles Babbage that most of the costs in the postal system were not for transport, but rather for laborious handling procedures at the origins and the destinations. Costs could be reduced dramatically if postage were prepaid by the sender, the prepayment to be proven by the use of prepaid letter sheets or adhesive stamps (adhesive stamps had long been used to show payment of taxes, on documents for example). Letter sheets were to be used because envelopes were not yet common; they were not yet mass-produced, and in an era when postage was calculated partly on the basis of the number of sheets of paper used, the same sheet of paper would be folded and serve for both the message and the address. In addition, Hill proposed to lower the postage rate to a penny per half ounce, without regard to distance.[18] He first presented his proposal to the Government in 1837.

In the House of Lords the Postmaster, Lord Lichfield, a Whig, denounced Hill's "wild and visionary schemes." William Leader Maberly, Secretary to the Post Office, also a Whig, denounced Hill's study: "This plan appears to be a preposterous one, utterly unsupported by facts and resting entirely on assumption". But merchants, traders and bankers viewed the existing system as corrupt and a restraint of trade. They formed a "Mercantile Committee" to advocate for Hill's plan and pushed for its adoption. In 1839 Hill was given a two-year contract to run the new system.

The Uniform Fourpenny Post rate was introduced that lowered the cost to fourpence from 5 December 1839,[20] then to the penny rate on 10 January 1840, even before stamps or letter sheets could be printed. The volume of paid internal correspondence increased dramatically, by 120%, between November 1839 and February 1840. This initial increase resulted from the elimination of "free franking" privileges and fraud.

In May 1840 the World's first adhesive postage stamps were distributed. With an elegant engraving of the young Queen Victoria (whose 21st birthday was celebrated that month), the Penny Black was an instant success. Refinements, such as perforations to ease the separating of the stamps, were instituted with later issues.

Later life

Rowland Hill continued at the Post Office until the Conservative Party won the 1841 General Election. Sir Robert Peel returned to office on 30 August 1841 and served until 29 June 1846. Amid rancorous controversy, Hill was dismissed in July 1842. However, the London and Brighton Railway named him a director and later chairman of the board, from 1843 to 1846. He lowered the fares from London to Brighton, expanded the routes, offered special excursion trains, and made the commute comfortable for passengers. In 1844 Edwin Chadwick, Rowland Hill, John Stuart Mill, Lyon Playfair, Dr. Neill Arnott, and other friends formed a society called "Friends in Council," which met at each other's houses to discuss questions of political economy.[21] Hill also became a member of the influential Political Economy Club, founded by David Ricardo and other classical economists, but now including many powerful businessmen and political figures.[9]

In 1846 the Conservative party split over the repeal of the Corn Laws and was replaced by a Whig government led by Lord Russell. Hill was made Secretary to the Postmaster General, and then Secretary to the Post Office from 1854 until 1864. For his services Hill was knighted as a Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath in 1860. He was made a Fellow of the Royal Society and awarded an honorary degree from University of Oxford.

Hill died in Hampstead, London in 1879. He is buried in Westminster Abbey; there is a memorial to him on his family grave in Highgate Cemetery. There are streets named after him in Hampstead (off Haverstock Hill, down the side of The Royal Free Hospital), and Tottenham (off White Hart Lane). A Royal Society of Arts blue plaque, unveiled in 1893, commemorates Hill at the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead.[22]



Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Alternative Lyrics to Well Known Songs 41 - Old Oppressive Town

('Old Oppressive Town' is based on 'Hazard' by 'Richard Marx')

Cities can principally be used as centres of production & perspicacity or centres of consumption & comfort.  The former tends towards the masculine and the latter tends towards the feminine.

The character of a city is decided by the people living in it.  After all they are the ones that that built it and sustain it (repairs etc) with their energy.  If the inhabitants of a city are the kind of people that want to do things and go places then it will become masculine and will produce new things (tangible things like are produced in factories, or intangible things like are produced in research facilities), on the other hand if the inhabitants want to use the city as a form of escapism/security from their mundane everyday lives then it will become feminine.

Unfortunately as all of you are aware the centres of our cities are now meccas for consumption and comfort.  The High Street (or Main Street in the USA) is full of shops stocked with the latest goodies imported from third world countries.  Little in that high street shop contains anything that was manufactured from the home nation; and practically nothing that was sourced from that town or county.  If that city were more masculine then the shops would be factory-shops, like European cities used to be, where goods were both manufactured and sold.  This should be easier than ever as the technology to manufacture goods is getting cheaper and cheaper.  And now with the arrival of 3-D printers (both plastic, metal, and genetic printers) manufacturing goods in the same shop as they are sold should be easy as pie.  It would also mean that the goods could be custom made (but 3-D printers in factory-shops is a whole other topic, so I won't ramble on about it).

There are also shopping centres/malls in the heart of every medium and large city which are like theme parks for shopping.  They house the proverbial 'shopping experience' whereby people go and experience the pleasure of looking at the latest products, the latest goodies, which temporarily distract them from their lives.  Sometimes this comfort shopping, or worse still window shopping (just looking at goods), is used as a form of escapism. 

Escapism implies that they the shopper is trying using the shopping experience to escape from their own lives that they'd rather not live (albeit for a short period of time, roughly the same period of time as a heroin trip: about 2 hours ).  And it makes one wonder why they are trying to escape their own lives, what is it that is so insufferable that they go into a theme park for shoppers and ogle at the latest goodies in the shop aisle?

It's possibly the fact that their lives are, for want of a better phrase, messed-up.  "Messed up by what?" you say, "I don't know." I would reply.  I know enough about causes to know that reductionism isn't going to help you very much because it inevitably ends up with an absurd conclusion (like Marxism, or Satan, or 'not getting laid', or high interest rates, is responsible for all the problems in the world).  Just look around the internet for what people think is the cause of problem X, Y and Z, there's lots of whacked out theories out there.  The result of rejecting the reductionist approach and taking on a holistic outlook is that correlations and intuition/hunches become as valuable, or sometimes more valuable, than causes.

In a healthy city they would be making new products (either in the work place or at home or both) and thinking new thoughts.  These new products and thoughts would be things that they had made because they wanted to.  Because they wanted to express their own creative drive in it's unique way rather than conform to the norm, the expected way of living.

How one can remedy this feminisation of whole cities in our culture is beyond me.  But what I do know is that cities are made by the inhabitants, and they are sustained by inhabitants.  So based on that preposition one method of turning a feminine city back into a masculine one it by encouraging the inhabitants to express their own creative drive wherever and whenever the opportunity arises.  This way they will be producers rather than consumers and more masculine than feminine.  Whether that creative drive is expressed is in the workplace, or in the homestead, or in the environment doesn't matter, so long as it is expressed.  This will not only benefit the individual (who should feel more satisfied with their life) it should also benefit the community and ergo the city as a whole.

A note on the lyrics: the song is about a person who used the city in a feminine way - as a form of security, because he found the outside world too intimidating.  After a few years he found it's security to be oppressive and ended up moving back out into the countryside.  The song is framed within the context of the Nordic mythology.  It mentions Midgard (which is the 'middle world' where humans live), and Al-father (which is the 'All-Father', one of Odins many by-names).

Play the music video above and sing along using the alternative lyrics given below.

# Old Oppressive Town #
All-Father made me alive in that place called Midgard.
It was day and the whole place was alive with joy.
But then came night.
After midnight is when it started to get scary
The whole place changed from one of comfort to fear.
It gave me the frights.

I couldn't stand to face the fear.
I couldn't stand to feel the dark.
I needed comfort from those feelings.
That's when I saw this place called 'Town'.

I entered the Town some day or another.
It seemed like bliss and comfort from my former life.
That changed in time.
Routinely accused of breaking their laws.
The years flew passed and that's when it became clear to me
I could do no right.

"I swear I lived my life by your laws.
I swear I never did you wrong.
Despite this you're intent on judging me.
So I'll leave your old oppressive Town."

I think about my life gone by
and how I did me wrong.
I traded my Father's free life
for one of safety yet one of oppression.

"I swear I abided by all your laws.
I swear I never did you wrong.
Despite this you're intent on judging me.
So I'll leave your old oppressive Town."

[End of lyrics.]