Defining the seasons

There are two basic definitions of the seasons and they are six weeks out of line with each other.

From a solar perspective (and also a farming, countryside, and neo-Pagan one) the seasons change on the cross-quarter days, thus:

Winter: 31st October to 2nd February (Samhain to Imbolc), with Midwinter's Night (the longest night / shortest day) bang in the middle on 21st December.

Spring: 2nd February to 1st of May (Imbolc to Beltaine), with the Spring Equinox bang in the middle. This roughly coresponds with most plants coming to life again after the Winter.

Summer: May 1st to 2nd August (Beltaine to Lammas), with Midsummer's Day (longest day / shortest night) bang in the middle on 21st June.

Autumn: 2nd August - 31st October (Lammas to Samhain) wth the Autumn Equinox bang in the middle.

However, the "official" seasons seem to be:

Winter: Midwinter's Night to Spring Equinox.
Spring: Sprint Equinox to Midsummer's Day.
Summer: Midsummer's Day to Autumn Equinox.
Autumn: Autumn Equinox to Midwinter's Day.

Personally I think the solar / pagan version makes a lot more sense and not just because I'm a pagan, but because it better reflects both the solar situation and the growth of crops and plants. I think the reason for the "official" dates is because the amount of heat we feel lags behind the sunlight to a degree (and usually by about six weeks) - so for example even though we have long days from 1st of May onwards it usually takes till mid-June before the weather starts to feel really warm, and even though the days start to get shorter from Midsummer onwards, it's at least August and often September before we actually start to notice the weather turning colder - before that there's still enough heat arriving from the sun to keep temperatures rising even though the days are shortening. Same thing happens in February - the days are lengthening but it's mid-March or later before we start to notice the temperatures rising.

The Aftermath


It is done. The votes are tallied, the dream is over. The Union endures.

And so goes that last, best hope of meaningful change in UK political direction.

In some respects the Scottish Nationalists have scored a great victory, as it seems they will actually get something close to the "Devo-Max" option they wanted but which Westminster refused to allow on the ballot paper, and they have, albeit briefly, utterly terrified the London-based UK political establishment in the process. There will be change too in England, Wales, and Northern Ireland as the new powers for the Scottish Parliament will be balanced against new powers for the three other countries that make up the United Kingdom. And the Tories can press ahead with their UKIP-beating In/Out referendum in 2017 knowing that Scottish "In" votes will help them stave off the nuclear option of a unilateral withdrawal from the EU.

David Cameron's Conservative (and Unionist) Party have re-established themselves as the natural governing party of the entire United Kingdom - Labour will need to steal even more Tory policies and move even further to the right if they ever want to win another UK general election. Following the unionist victory I fully expect the Tories to win the 2015 general election by a landslide, David Cameron is now the Tory hero Prime Minister who saved the Union, and got the leader and senior figures of the Labour party dancing to his tune in the process. That was one hell of a high risk gamble, but it has paid off handsomely. Damn well played Mr Cameron, damn well played.

Looking back, the coalition Conservatives have actually achieved a huge amount over their term in office.

  • First they comprehensively slew the dragon of Proportional Representation, ensuring the UK retains it's winner-takes-all first-past-the-post electoral system. It may not be a fair system but it leads to strong and stable governments, and favours the Conservative Party.

  • Then David Cameron brought in Equal Marriage, as his own personal campaign, overcoming opposition from within his own party and uniting coalition partners and the opposition in moving social progress forward. Just like Margaret Thatcher before him, David Cameron is very good at reading social changes, and riding them to victory. Equal marriage was inevitable, and so he seized the moment for the Conservatives, writing his own place in the history books in the process.

  • And now the Scottish Nationalist dragon is also slain, and while the dream of an independent Scotland will never fully fade, as a realistic concept it's now dead for a generation at least. Salmond has won Devo-Max. Cameron has won the Union.

The markets are happy, shares have risen world-wide and the pound briefly hit a two year high against the Euro last night. Business is happy, the future is now one of certainty and union instead of the invariably unpredictable birth-stages of a new nation.

The UK's rightward drift will continue. While I'm sure we will retain our National Health Service in some form - some institutions are too embedded in the national psyche to ever fully abolish - full-scale privatisation is now more or less inevitable. This isn't vindictiveness, or even entirely self-interest, from the Tories, rather most Conservatives genuinely believe that state services are best provided by private for-profit contractors instead of what they see as bloated and inefficient public sector organisations riven by internal politics and empire-building. And meanwhile the welfare state will continue to move from being "support for all, paid by all", to a form of government-administered charity, run through private contractors, providing support to "the deserving" while mercilessly hounding those regarded as scroungers.

From a purely personal point of view, even as a lifelong believer in Scottish independence, there's no point crying over what might have been, and instead I plan to do the very Scottish thing of taking the situation as it is and making the most of it.

  • My Glasgow flat will probably rise in value, markets like stability. Possibly I can remortgage it and wipe out my debts, freeing up money currently going in payments to go into investments, towards the deposit for my next buy-to-let, instead.

  • The companies which will provide the soon-to-be-privatised NHS services are probably going to do very well over the next few years. I currently have an underperforming endowment policy left over from an old mortgage, possibly I should cash it in and invest the money in the private health sector.

  • The future of the Caledonian Sleeper trains from London to Scotland should now be assured. Scottish MPs will continue to travel to and from Westminster and many of them use the train as a more convivial and civilised (not to mention environment-friendly) option over flying. A deal was recently struck to replace the current 1970s sleeper fleet with all-new coaches to be built in Spain, hopefully those vehicles will run for at least as long as the current ones have. I've used the sleeper occasionally and it is the most civilised possible way to travel to Scotland short of actually owning you own private train.

  • I can carry on living and working here in Yorkshire, where I have very many dear friends and colleagues, without the nagging feeling that I really should move home and help to build the new nation. That was one that really did bother me about the possibility of independence.

On thing that will change - I'm going to spend a lot less time on social media, especially Facebook, from here on. During the campaign I really have let it take over my life, it was affecting my work, it was affecting my ability to get new material for my website out on time, I was spending far, far longer than I should have debating political points and writing posts. Much as I love all my on-line friends, I need to refocus and spending far less time on Facebook will be a big part of that. I'll still post sometimes, especially if there's club stuff (either my Infernal or Howard's Carpe Noctum) to promote, but the endless debates and point answering needs to stop - I need the time for other things. Anyone who needs to contact me personally should email, will always reach me.

I will of course still read all followups to my own posts though, so please feel free to reply to this one!

So, to sum up, onwards to a new future. Not the one I hoped and dreamed of, but the only one we have. All steam ahead, into the rain and mist.
  • Current Music
    Epica - The Imperial March

Scotland, sovereign power is in your hands - Vote Yes for a better future!

To the people of Scotland, my homeland, and to which I hope one day to return: Please vote Yes tomorrow.

Yes for a better Scotland, governed by a parliament you voted for, making decisions and laws to benefit Scotland and the Scottish people - and also for a better England and the rest of the UK, as faced with a bastion of social justice and genuinely representative government north of the border, even Westminster might finally be forced to look beyond the financiers of the City of London and actually pay attention to what all the people it governs care about, instead of just a few of them.

This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It's not about Alex Salmond or the SNP - once independence is won you can vote for whoever you like, knowing that with a fair voting system the Scottish Parliament will actually reflect your votes, your dreams, your hopes, and your choices.

Sovereign power is in your hands. Seize it, and step forward into a better, brighter, fairer, and more just future. Do it for yourselves, for all of us ex-pats across the world, for your children and all of our grandchildren.

Please, vote Yes.


Some thoughts on Social Security and Labour's pledge to be harsher than the Tories.

Labour will be tougher than Tories on benefits, promises new welfare chief

Rachel Reeves vows to cut welfare bill and force long-term jobless to take up work offers or lose state support

(from The Guardian)

Labour. Party of the people. Well, as long as they are working people and not benefit scum. Because clearly, the way to get ahead in UK politics is to hammer the underclass as hard as possible while pledging oaths to Santa that you'll do it even harder next time.

Now, as a fiscal conservative, I do believe that those who really are scroungers should indeed be hammered as far as is practical - but not to the point that the system becomes completely unusable for those it's actually supposed to help. There's also the valid argument that paying a certain amount of "scrounger money" keeps those who really don't want to work out of crime, and helps maintain social order. A close check needs to be kept and those who really are abusing the system (e.g. working on the side while claiming) need to be hounded out, but there's a dangerous attitude developing out there in society that seems to think anyone who's living on benefits isn't really part of society and shouldn't be allowed to have things like entertainment or any luxuries, but should instead live a monk-like existence of purity and piety to the state. Which is a complete negation of the whole concept of "social security".

Why "No more Page 3" is a bad idea (from Hunter Not The Hunted)

Hunter Not The Hunted - Why "No More Page 3" is a bad idea

Now this is a very, very interesting article, and I find myself agreeing with the author completely. I've always believed that if people chose and want to do sex work, they should be allowed to do so, and found the moralising of people who'd ban erotica but happily condemn those who used to live off it to wage-slavery in dead end jobs, abhorrent, but Hunter Not The Hunted puts it very well indeed.

As they sat, Page 3 isn't the problem, and given it features willing, paid models who know where their pictures are going, is arguably much less of a problem than the "slut shaming" paparazzi shots that litter the Daily Wail's website, and are in large part responsible for that site's vast local and international success - one of the most visited newspaper sites in the world.

"The problem" isn't women's bodies, regardless of whether wrapped in burkhas or willingly exposed in pornography, the problem is a global culture that says other people have some right of control over the bodies of women they've never even met, on the basis of either aesthetic preference or perceived morals, or both. This is what leads to female genital mutilation. This is what leads to teenage girls being kicked to death by a mob for daring to like or speak to the wrong person. This is what leads to so many young women having "body issues". And this is what leads to the suppression of the female half of our species.

Mixed up in it is the idea that only "nice girls" can be feminists. That feminism is incompatible with kinky sex, or BDSM, or going to nightclubs in insane heels, spandex, and corsets. Feminism is only "real" if it's frumpy women in baggy dungarees and no make-up. And don't even whisper that there might be guys (and girls) out there who actually get more turned on by women in dungarees than naked ones, because that would shatter the illusion that women can only be free if they have no sexuality. Which of course is just the old virgin purity thing that drives horrors like female genital mutilation all over again.

I'm a feminist. and I'm a guy. A guy who shoots fetish movies for sale. Sometimes of women in kinky boots. I'm pretty sure all of my models are feminists too, given we all regard each other as equals and believe in the freedom of the individual to do whatever he or she likes within an equal legal system, achieve our own goals, and generally agree to do or not do things on the basis of whether we want to, not whether some random third party, or holy book, is going to worry about any of our morals.

I don't have a problem with Page 3, even though I've no interest in it (yes, I'm one of the weird people who prefers women in overalls to naked ones). I do have a major problem with moral crusades though, especially ones with absolutely no objective evidence to back them up. I'm aware of research in the USA which suggests that in fact the incidence of rape actually declines when there is easier access to pornography. Until there is some objective data available, I'd really prefer the government to stick to fact-based policy making.

Why recreational drugs should be legalised.

If we banned everything that's bad for people or hard to give up, there'd be no cakes, no cola, no mountain climbing, no speedboats, no bike races, no horse riding...

Drugs may be bad for people. But in a free society, people should have the choice of what they do to themselves. Making drugs illegal does not stop people taking drugs. What it does do is hand a vast multinational industry lock, stock, and barrel to criminal gangs who pay no taxes, and lumber society with the costs and damage of gang wars, drugs cut with poisonous substances, people committing crime to buy drugs entirely because the gangs can charge whatever they like.

If they were legalised, something like half of all organised crime would be wiped out overnight, there'd be a massive drop in shootings and stabbings, and the tax revenue from the legal drugs would wipe out the deficit and provide billions of extra revenue to the government. There'd be no need for any further spending cuts, and there'd probably be enough coming in to allow tax cuts for the rest of us.

Keeping drugs illegal is totally and utterly insane, the only people who benefit are crime gangs, and the police who get massive budgets for fighting the "war on drugs". Every single one of the rest of us loses, we pay higher taxes to fund the "war" and suffer massively increased crime in society.

Writer's Block: B.Y.O.B. Holidays

Which December holidays do you celebrate, and why? One random answer will win a $50 Amazon gift card. [Details here]

I celebrate Midwinter's Night, the night of the Solstice, the longest night of the year. I'm neo-Pagan, Midwinter is one of the eight greater sabbats, and marks the start of the deepest part of Winter, the bitter cold from Midwinter to Imbolc, in distant February.

I also celebrate Commercial Christmas, the midwinter festival of money, food, and wealth, under the watchful eye of the great god Santa Claus, bringer of joy and material goods to people across the developed world.

On Neil Kinnock's "Speech of a lifetime"

A friend linked to this: - Neil Kinnock's 1983 "Speech of a lifetime".

Sorry, but that speech is balderddash. Had Labour won the 83 election, amongst other things they'd almost certainly have implemented the Serpell Report, just as Labour in 64 implemented Beeching with a frenzy that surprised the Tories who'd originally commissioned it. We would no longer have a railway network, and public transport would have more or less ceased to exist. London would be like LA.

Instead the Tories won, the economy boomed, Serpell was rejected and BR given funds to invest, which turned out to be just as well given what followed from both an environmental and oil-price perspective.

I know it's popular in Yorkshire to hate Thatcher, seemingly mainly because she is blamed for having killed the coal industry. Because of course it's very important that everyone should have an opportunity to spend their working lives digging coal far underground in an industry that is amongst the most dangerous on earth and which if it doesn't manage to kill you, will almost certainly give you a chronic lung disease that will in turn kill you not long after you retire, thus saving the pension funds a fortune.

All Kinnock's comments on credit and mortgages are nonsense too, the 80s saw a massive rise in home ownership as people swapped rent for mortgages and bought their council houses. This was taken to extremes in the 21st century housing bubble, but the 80s Tory policy was sound and sensible.

Labour in the 80s was a shambolic disaster. Electing them would have been national suicide.



Live for the moment. Dance because you can.
No regrets, no complications. Fire and forget.

This is not a Goth night. This is a one-off social night of music that Goths like.

DJs Sinister, Orange, and Pyromancer.

Sunday 9th October 2011, 7pm - Midnight.
Upstairs at Santiago's, The Grand Arcade, Leeds.

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