Day: July 23, 2011

Saturday, 23 July 2011

10:45 – My poor FedEx guy must hate me. Yesterday, he delivered several large boxes that contained a couple thousand polyethylene dropper bottles in different capacities and a hundred laboratory splash goggles. I’ll use the dropper bottles to build prototypes and initial inventory for the biology kit that goes with the home biology lab book I’m working on now, as well as in a future forensics kit and possibly some others. The goggles are included in all kits.

In all of the discussion about the Euro crisis, the UK hasn’t gotten much attention other than in that country’s newspapers. From what I’ve read in UK newspapers ranging across the political spectrum, I think it’s safe to say that there’s been a sea change in the attitudes of UK subjects. Previously, a substantial majority were in favor of the UK’s membership in the EU, and the electorate was roughly equally divided pro and con on adopting the Euro. The current numbers are dramatically different. A large majority now opposes joining the Euro–no surprise there given recent events–but the really significant change is that UK voters are now about 3:2 in favor of withdrawing from the EU itself.

They rightly perceive the course of the EU shifting even more strongly toward a fiscal and political union, neither of which is acceptable to a large majority of Brits. Ideally, most Brits would prefer to return to the original common market concept, where trade barriers were minimal but each country retained its own currency and full sovereignty. Even in the absence of full fiscal and political union, Britain has found, as Thatcher warned, that the obvious benefits of EU membership are far outweighed by the hidden drawbacks. Despite the fact that the UK is not a member of the Euro, British taxpayers subsidize other Euro members. For example, a significant percentage of the €50 billion in annual agricultural subsidies paid to French farmers comes out of British pockets. Nor are all the economic costs so obvious. For example, fishing rights have for years been a bone of contention between the UK and the EU.

When all is totaled up, it’s clear that the UK is suffering economically from its membership in the EU, with the economic benefits far, far outweighed by the direct and indirect economic costs. If the EU fractures, as I expect, into one group of wealthier northern nations and a second group of poorer southern nations, I expect to see the UK join the northern group, if indeed it chooses to join any union at all.

12:14 – The morning paper had an article about people flocking to the local Borders for its going-out-of-business sale. The store is advertising “up to 40% off”, which really isn’t much of a deal, even if it applied to most things. One woman quoted in the article mentioned that she’d bought several books at 10% to 20% off list price, which is no deal at all, particularly since all sales are final. As she said, she could have gotten them cheaper at Amazon.

Given the very limited selection at Borders–many publishers stopped sending them new books months ago–they’d have to be offering at least 60% off list on paperbacks and 70% off on hardbacks to temp me in there, and even at that I might not bother. Most of what I’d be looking for is fiction, and most of that I can get for $2.99 or less for my Kindle. And since my Kindle TBR stack is currently at something like 300 titles, I really don’t need any more fiction anyway.

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