Sunday 30 December 2018

Dancing To The Music Of Time

Being saved to the box is the 1968 film, "The Charge Of The Light Brigade" made at a time when the Lefties made it fashionable to look down our noses at the military. The USA being in Vietnam had us very worried that we might become involved. Having just scrambled out of nearly all the Empire all we wanted to do was sit back and think of consumerism.

The cartoon characters of the film about the Crimean War of 1854 to 1856 if anything detracted from the reality of the disaster and the failures of government and command that were entailed. In particular one character; Mrs. Duberly, who went to the Crimea with her husband was a travesty of the real Fanny Duberly, see Wikipedia, whose journal is an invaluable part of the history.

Yesterday, I was reading The Bedfordshire Mercury of January 1867, one likes to keep up to date, and came across a major front page story that tells us much about the past of that period. It is a report on the Oakley Hunt Ball, and there are the Duberly's along with others of very high society, headed by the 7th Duke of Manchester.

The ball began at 10.00 p.m. and ended at 4.00 a.m.; today's teenagers and young have nothing on the vitality of their ancestors and a great time was had by all, well all the guests. The poor lot who had to serve and wait on them and all the carriage men outside may not have done, and the band played on with the dances of the time; physically I think a lot more demanding that the twerks and twists of the present.

The list of names is a long one. Perhaps a full scale analysis of who and what they were could be done, but it would take time and be more of an academic research job than a brief blog. But there in a provincial town, which just happened to be close to the Whitbread estate, one of the richest families in Britain, if not the world at the time.

This family in the histories are listed with the Whigs and reformers etc. notably because of the inter marriage with the Grey's of Howick, who had a Prime Minister and private secretaries to Queen Victoria among them, let alone other marriages into the landed aristocracy.

One name on the list of guests at the ball is Mr. T.A. Macan, Turner Arthur Macan, a child of Mrs. Whitbread from her first marriage. The military were well represented at the ball, and he had been one himself before selling his commission on being set up as a local squire, magistrate and Master of the Hunt by William Henry Whitbread. His father, also Turner Macan, had died in Bengal in July 1836.

William Henry Whitbread was a leading figure in the scholarship of Eastern Studies arising from his senior position in the Royal Asiatic Society and Turner Macan the elder had played a crucial role in salvaging the Shah Nameh of Firdausi and The Thousand and One Nights from Middle Eastern literature of the long past, almost wiped out with much else from the ancient cultures there by the rise of strict Islam.

It seems such a minor event, a local hunt ball in a small town, yet there could be much more to it than that. It wasn't many years later when the East India Company was dissolved and Queen Victoria became Empress of India.

Perhaps the ball was one of the last gasps of the old Empire before the new one of the late 19th Century.

Friday 28 December 2018

Stamping Grounds

The Royal Mail is under the cosh for its D Day Landings anniversary stamp. While being only a month out in terms of dating, the picture is the wrong place with the wrong troops and the wrong type of landing craft.

We know what can happen when you are in a hurry, are not precise enough in the words you put into search and do not check the detail. Many bloggers and journalists no doubt are nodding their head.

It could have been worse, see the picture above of a notable landing and siege during the Crimean War; as Lord Cardigan might have said to Lord Raglan on more than one occasion.

Back To Work

Ah, glad to see you, hope you enjoyed the holiday.

Two of our senior managers would like to have a few minutes with you.

It's about some changes being planned.

Thursday 27 December 2018

Vicky And Bert's Big Day

When it comes to history there is nothing better than the detail to what was what. It can change perspectives and allow a more critical view of what you might read in books and especially see on screen. As ever it always, well almost always turns out to be more complicated than you think or are supposed to think.

The ninety minute TV item fronted by Lucy Worsley on the wedding of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert leads us there. It was an engaging and interesting tale of what was involved, why and centred on the actual ceremony.

The implications were that it was not simple. The programme was more about the frocks and occasion than anything but expecting it to do much history would be wrong. It would need months of mega series to do that.

Who were the bridesmaids is an example and could be seen as a simple matter on screen but this link will give a longish and much fuller detail. Quite clearly who they were and what they became was a major matter, as were who were the guests at what in the ceremony.

To think about history. Prince Albert died in 1861 aged only 42 so how great a loss was he? He was certainly an active man in a number of worthy fields and had come to be respected if not entirely liked. Hard working and capable he had views on the world and what it should be. Which asks the what if questions.

In UK politics what might have been had he been granted another thirty or so years of life? One is that Victoria would not have fallen under the spell of Disraeli and he might have been able to ensure that Gladstone was better organised and less voluble. His interest in reform may have driven earlier action in education, local government, housing and health.

He was also a European of high standing and his death was at the beginning of the rise of Bismarck in Germany with all that followed. Could he have stopped or prevented the wars against Denmark and then France? Might Germany itself become a real federation and not a Prussian dominated Empire?

Imagine a France without the Third Republic. Could the Scramble for Africa been avoided? In another place could he have persuaded the Confederacy to abolish slavery?

Further afield there was the bungling in the Middle East that dragged Britain into invading Egypt by accident, there was China and in particular there was the Raj in India. It is possible that he might have had other ideas about the Empire that would have meant a very different kind of interest, intervention and rule.

We shall never know, we shall recall only a young man and girl getting married and having a large family.

And the frocks.

Tuesday 25 December 2018

Domesday Books

This is an article by Carol Symes of the University of Illinois about another Domesday Book, the Exeter Collection, which sheds light on the more famous one of William The Conqueror in 1066.

Nearly a thousand years ago, a famous king created a famous book, later given the title "Domesday" (pronounced "doomsday"). At least that's been the common story: William the Conqueror, 20 years after his 1066 invasion of England from Normandy, ordered a massive survey of his new realm.

One year later, he got a book with the results—a record of the nation's wealth and resources, everything from property to sheep to servants. The "Great Domesday Book," as it was later named, is perhaps the most famous document in English history after the Magna Carta.

The book's origin story, however, had not been thoroughly investigated until University of Illinois history professor Carol Symes took up the task. "What had never been resolved is how this massive text was really created," Symes said, "and in this incredibly narrow timeframe."

Now, after years of research, Symes makes the case in the journal Speculum that the final "Great Domesday Book" came years and perhaps decades later than the 1087 date to which it's attributed, also the year of William's death.

It also was not the orderly bureaucratic enterprise that's often assumed, but instead "enabled hundreds of thousands of individuals and communities to air grievances and to make their own ideas of law and justice a matter of public record,".

 We're watching people pushing back, or at least letting their voices be heard because they're fed up," she said. In one example, the text records townspeople bitterly complaining about the levelling of houses to build a castle.

"We need to rethink what has seemed to be a straightforward, top-down royal project, but is revealed to be the tip of a big, monstrous iceberg that involves the agency of many historical actors and often preserves their voices.

This helps to tell a very different story about one of the landmark events of England—the Norman conquest and its aftermath—that is not just a story about 'the great man."

The universe of the "Domesday Book" is complicated, to say the least. The name is attached to two different bodies of text, "Great Domesday" and "Little Domesday; the first covering all of the country's shires except three in the southeast, the second covering those three, but in more detail, suggesting it was an earlier draft.

There's also "Exeter Domesday," a collection of 103 booklets that appears to be an even earlier draft of survey results, mostly covering three shires in the southwest.

Curiously, London does not appear in any of these records, which likely is a sign its citizens either ignored the inquest or overwhelmed it with grievances, Symes said.The Exeter collection is just one of many "satellite" documents that have some connection with the survey or book but have received little scholarly attention, Symes said.

 For many who focus their research on "Great Domesday," the book has been "the sun around which everything else spins." Among Symes' contributions is to suggest ways that the different texts relate to each other, since that hasn't been clear. "I think I have figured out the workings behind how this book ("Great Domesday") was made,"

The Exeter collection and another satellite document, a small fragment of parchment roll, perhaps the oldest in England, from an abbey at Burton-on-Trent in the northwest of the country. In both cases, she examined the original documents.

The Exeter documents provide numerous clues on how "Great Domesday" was assembled, but also serve as a window on the people and the process. A bishop can be seen intervening with the king's advisers when his property is not recorded. Teenage scribes make drinking plans in the marginal notes of manuscripts.

The abbey's parchment fragment, however, is key to Symes' contention that the final book came years and even decades later. She ties its contents to the comings and goings of a man who served at one time as its abbot, who had access to the survey data that went into "Domesday" and may even have been involved in the survey.

"It plugs a huge hole that we had in our evidence. It suggests that the process of creating the thing we call 'Great Domesday' actually took a lot longer than people had thought."Symes said she was attracted to this particular book as part of her interest in medieval manuscripts, especially the complex ways in which they were "mediated—i.e., written, handled, copied, recopied, added to, edited, interpreted and heard by audiences, all in an age before the printing press.

Historians need to take a text's complex mediation into account, she said, even considering the parchment on which it was written, to fully understand and not misinterpret it.

Symes also likes messiness—finding out "how the sausage gets made." She was attracted to Domesday, in part, "because it's a messy document that people pretend is not messy. It's taken to be this pristine, transparent thing when it's not."

Tne value in the Domesday research, she said, is in "realizing that the people of almost a thousand years ago were real people with real human emotions and needs. We're putting on a different set of glasses to look at these sources, and what we see is all those people who were written out of the record. We're getting to see and hear them again."

The "wonderful irony," Symes said, is that we can do that through one of the most famous books created in the Middle Ages, by a king.

Monday 24 December 2018

The Alternative Queen's Speech

This is from 2013, perhaps it still works.

As we come to the end of a difficult and demanding year, my husband and I have begun to consider not our own future but that of all the peoples of the United Kingdom.  We have agreed that we should leave a legacy to them which should be the greatest service possible to mark the sixty years since the Coronation.

To that end I will dissolve Parliament on the first day of January and make a Declaration of British Independence.  As the existing government has chosen to use the Royal Prerogative to force through change so will I use it to reinstate and repair the essential principles of the British Constitution in a new structure of government and elections.

This will require a period of interim government of brave and devoted people to make the transition and put in place a governance which will be truly democratic, responsive to the real needs and wishes of our peoples and allow the United Kingdom to regain control and authority over its own affairs.

We have learned that there are no less than fourteen thousand treaty and agreement commitments and obligations that have been made, largely during my own reign.  I look back on this with a feeling of shame that I have been a party to the careless shedding of sovereignty and loss of responsibility that has occurred on such a scale and with so little thought as to the effects and consequences.

With the Dissolution of Parliament will be a decree to the effect that the end of this form of government equally means an end to the membership of the European Union.  For whatever arrangements would be sensible or useful in the future we will look forward with interest to any constructive proposals that might be made from Brussels.

The intention will be that any agreements made for trade or for common aspects of law or regulation neither will Brussels be binding on the United Kingdom nor vice versa.  Whether or not any legislation or regulation in Europe applies there, it will apply in the UK only on the full agreement of the new form of Parliament to be elected in the course of the coming year and can be amended or ended by the will of that Parliament.

Equally, we will take a good hard look at the range of United Nations and related organisation commitments that have been entered into in the past.  I have no doubt that some are now redundant and some damaging to our economy and polity.  We shall attempt to keep the best and rid ourselves of the worst.

Further to that it is my intention, after much heart searching and thought to abolish the Commonwealth.  I deeply regret that as a young and impressionable monarch I was inveigled by Harold Macmillan into this charade of empire and influence.

On a personal level this has meant welcoming some rulers who have been malign dictators, some corrupt and some evil along with many others who were good men and women in their ways but whose connection to the UK has become increasingly tenuous.

I am bound to say that  the Commonwealth has become at best a salesman's convention.  To that end our Foreign and Commonwealth Office has become a dishonest and corrupt sales operation.  It will disbanded forthwith and replaced by a new department whose duties will be the analysis of real policy and the gathering of hard information to enable us to conduct foreign affairs on a sensible and peaceful basis.  The old Foreign Office Library will be restored forthwith.

The Special Relationship with the USA similarly will be declared to be at the end of its useful life.  It has decayed already to become an embarrassing and grovelling fiction that serves little purpose other than to involve us in unnecessary and dangerous wars.  Clearly we will want to continue sound diplomatic and trading contacts and relationships that are peaceful and serve our common interests but this will be done in a clear sighted manner and not masked by false pretenses.

The new Parliament will be one of two chambers both elected and both involved in legislation, regulation and the examination of administration and related activity.  Retaining the former names the House of Commons will have 350 members elected from a number of multi member constituencies to be determined and from a voting system that enables a balanced representation from all the parts of the United Kingdom.

The House of Lords, the word "Lord" has long been an elastic description, will be of either 150 members elected on a different basis or made up of three representatives from each of the counties of the United Kingdom.  This will be determined by urgent discussions at an early stage.

For this purpose the ancient counties of the United Kingdom would be reinstated with the intention of a reorganisation of local government in the near future on that basis.  This I believe will enable an empowerment of the people at a far more local level than is possible at the moment.  It would be up to the individual counties to consider any joint arrangements with others for the running of services on a wider basis.

As far as possible both administration and responsibility will be devolved from many parts of our government to the local entities.  The dictatorial centralisation and micro-management that has become a deadening and destructive feature of the recent past will end and communities will be encouraged to revive their mutual support and interests in welfare.

In order to assist this the use of Private Finance Initiatives, PFI, will end and realistic and effective means of dealing with local capital investment will be introduced.  Existing PFI contracts will cease forthwith.  Those which are deemed excessive or too extractive from essential services will be replaced.  Others will be taken in to normal debt facilities.

For the National Health Service, perhaps the one that is of most interest to many the approach will be more gradualist.  It is my wish to avoid the expensive and costly series of reorganisations of the past and return to a more balanced and responsive service.  This will involve on the one hand a greater role for those in the medical professions to be matched by a more open and sensitive relationship with the public.

A particular field of interest is the Legal Profession and the administration of justice as well as maintaining law and order. It has been disquieting to me to see the manner in which Ministers of the Crown seek to intervene and comment on complex cases in court involving personal acquaintances.  It is of more concern that the complicated effect of foreign rulings and obligations have allowed the legal system to be brought into disrepute.

Clearly, police services need to be more local in many respects with a real presence on the ground, notably in districts where crime is now rampant and gangs are in control. Equally, I am aware that there is a need for both regional and national policing for other forms of crime.  I will not pretend that there are easy answers here but it is my intention to be rigorous in setting up arrangements which meet the crying needs of our time.

One area in which I will take a personal interest is in the pursuit of financial crime and fraud.  There will be a thorough and vigorous approach to this on the basis that much of what has occurred is akin to the vicious piracy of old and deserves to be treated as such.  Britain has been captured and colonised by those engaged in global commercial interests whose only ambition is for personal profit, control and the extraction of our wealth, both public and private.  This is entailing the enslavery of our peoples to those interests.

There are many other aspects of the Constitution and our lives  which need either restoration or a new approach to the different and fast changing world in which we live.  Our present sclerotic, corrupt and secretive system is simply too bad and flawed to work and is actively damaging every aspect of our lives.  It has to end.

Last but far from least there is the primary function of The Crown, that is the Defence of the Realm.  In the new forms of aerial war and its needs the Royal Air Force will need much new equipment and facilities.  The Senior Service, the Royal Navy will have to be given wider scope and enabled to both defend and watch our shores.

Then there is the Army.  The thoughtless and ill considered serial reorganisations since the 1960's have reduced it past the minimum necessary for it to fulfil its wider duties in many spheres.  Moreover, at one time the Army was both local and part of the heart of our communities.  To fulfil that role it is my intention to restore the structure of County and other regiments as far as possible and notably enable the Cavalry to become a truly mobile force.

In Scotland the former regiments will be restored to their communities.  Among the first decrees I will issue in January will be for the re-mustering of that fine and loyal regiment, The Scottish Rifles, The Cameronians and I shall be proud and pleased to take the salute at their first parade.

My husband and I wish you all a happy Christmas and this time our wish for a New Year that leads to progress and prosperity may become a reality. 

Sunday 23 December 2018

The Daily Dose

If the TV advert's are any guide or other commercials this Christmas many will be giving and getting gifts that smell and pack a bigger punch than any WW1 gas warfare or Porton Down trials. Only you/we are paying for it in more ways than one. This is a long post but becoming a major issue.

In his first documentary film production, Jon Whelan, single dad after his wife died from breast cancer, presents overwhelming evidence that dangerous chemicals are added to products by design. As he discusses in this interview about his documentary “Stink,” available on Netflix and YouTube, also see Wikipedia, fragrances and scents are a dangerous, yet purposeful addition to products you use daily.

Your sense of smell is one of the most primal of your five senses. It is a key to survival, is often the first warning of safety or danger and is linked to memory. In fact, a powerful attraction to fragrances is manipulated by advertisers and marketers in order to sell clothing, personal care products and laundry products.

You can recognize up to 10,000 different smells and, according to Dr. Stuart Firestein of Columbia University, this system is very closely connected to the limbic system, said to contain your most basic drives.

A study in 2015 published in Chemosensory Perception investigated how odor-evoked memories influence consumers’ perception of a product. Researchers found fragrances evoking stronger personal emotional memories were preferred by the study participants.

It is not surprising scent is powerfully connected to emotion and memory and drives buying decisions. Unfortunately, companies add toxic fragrances to mask the odour of noxious chemicals and as scent branding to acquire new customers and keep customers.

Smelly Pajamas Led to Documentary Film

The documentary film, “Stink,” was triggered when Whelan purchased a pair of pajamas from the children’s clothing company Justice for his daughter. After opening the package, he found a weird smell. Whelan called the company to be sure the clothing was safe, but was stonewalled by company representatives.

Returning to the store, he found all of the packaged pajamas had the same odour. At this point he decided to tape the conversations he had with Justice and other companies, and began delving into the addition of chemicals to clothing and personal care products.

In a telling conversation with Procter and Gamble, manufacturer of a long list of cleaning and personal care items, including Crest toothpaste, Dawn dish soap, Pampers diapers, Tide laundry detergent and Pantene shampoo, the representative claimed they didn’t add a carcinogenic chemical to their products, it was just “there.”

 Here’s a transcript of the conversation Whelan had:

Whelan: "I read an article online yesterday and it said something that if it has a chemical in it called 1-4-dioxane it might cause cancer. I just wanted to be sure that it's not true.”
Representative: “It's not something we add to the product, OK, it's something that's in the product.”
Whelan: "Can you tell me who adds it then?"
Representative: "Pardon me?"
Whelan: "You said you didn't add it. I was wondering who does add it?"
Representative: "It's in all of the ingredients. You know what I mean?"
Whelan: "No I don't."
Representative: "OK, OK, how can I say this. . . you know if you do 1,200 loads of wash a day, it's still at a safe level."

As with exposure to many different toxins, one exposure at a low level may not trigger an immediate health condition, but what about repetitive or chronic exposure? Imagine smoking one cigarette and claiming the product had no health effects since you didn’t immediately get sick.

The effect from toxins is cumulative, and can add up quickly when you’re exposed to chemicals in your food, furniture, air and clothing, all at once, and on a daily basis.

Whelan believes if the legislature won’t ban a chemical regulators know causes cancer, then it may be nearly impossible to fight for transparency and health protection against a highly-motivated and richly-funded industry destined to forfeit profits if they are forced to stop using cheaper, damaging and dangerous chemicals.

For instance, scientists and regulators know the dangers to consumers from asbestos. This material, used for insulation for decades, is known to trigger the development of mesothelioma. However, despite this knowledge, asbestos is not banned in the U.S. and its use may actually increase, as I discussed in a previous article  about crayons and markers.

Dangerous Endocrine Disruptor Chemicals

Whelan uses the example of endocrine disrupting chemicals in his documentary, stating exposure to these has an inverted dose response curve. In other words, the danger is higher with lower level exposure over long periods of time. Your exposure occurs with use of personal care products, food packaging materials and clothing.

Vague arguments and claims have been used to dispute reports showing the use of toxic chemicals may be poisoning adults and children, causing damage beginning even before birth. Following an op-ed piece in The New York Times by Nicholas Kristof, the American Council on Science and Health claimed Kristoff would have flunked eighth grade science, saying:

“Look at all these lethal things: toothpaste, soap, shower curtains. It's amazing we all aren't dead yet. Mr. Kristof's ‘research’, if you can even call it that, relied heavily on well-known anti-science activists, such as the Environmental Working Group. Mr. Kristof has demonstrated time and again that he is entirely ignorant of the basic principles of chemistry and toxicology.”

However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a group of over 65,000 well-educated and science-based pediatricians in the U.S., agree with Kristoff and are asking parents to limit their children's exposure to endocrine disrupting chemicals found in plastic.

They warn these chemicals, such as phthalates, nitrates and bisphenol, may damage children's health for years to come.
Research from the World Health Organization (WHO) has even suggested a ban on endocrine disrupting chemicals may be needed to protect the health of future generations.

 Their research is one of the most comprehensive studies on different disrupting chemicals to date. Dr. Leonardo Trasande, an expert in children's environmental health, believes children are more susceptible due to their dose exposure.

And, as noted by Dr. Claire McCarthy, pediatrician at Boston Children's Hospital,  “Because the exposure is small and gradual we don't even realize it's happening.”

Fighting to Keep Chemicals in Your Products

Whelan believes the solution should be mandatory transparency so companies would make better decisions about what they use in their products and consumers could make informed decisions about what they buy.

Instead, companies are operating under the honor system set up by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) while fighting to keep cheap chemicals in their products so they can be made inexpensively, thereby protecting profits.

Unfortunately, the public pays for these cheaper products on the back end by spending thousands treating diseases triggered by overexposure to chemicals, which can build up in your system when you’re exposed to multiple products, such as personal care items, new furniture and carpeting and even clothing.

Whelan points out the world knows formaldehyde  causes cancer, yet manufacturers are not removing it from their products. In fact, the U.S. was caught using products with heavy levels of formaldehyde in environmentally damaged areas.

For instance, trailer homes deployed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) along the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina were found to emit high levels of formaldehyde gas. In testing, 519 trailer and mobile homes were nearly 40 times customary exposure levels, triggering breathing difficulties, nose bleeds and persistent headaches.

California Prop 65 Mandates Labeling Federal Government Doesn’t Regulate

California has taken a more proactive approach to the health of their citizens. In a study spearheaded by the Environmental Working Group, researchers found 287 chemicals in the cord blood of newborns. These babies were essentially born pre-polluted before ever consuming a single manufactured product.

In 1986 California voters approved an initiative best known as Proposition 65, requiring the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer or birth defects. Since it began, it includes nearly 800 chemicals, and manufacturers are required to notify consumers when these chemicals are included in their product.

According to the American Cancer Society,15 the risk of developing cancer was 40 percent in men and nearly 37 percent in women as of 2014. Their global cancer facts and figures suggest this number will grow to 50 percent by 2030.

Europe Practices Precautionary Principles; the US Does Not
In the documentary, Whelan reveals the American Chemistry Council spent $121,000 per congressman to assist election campaigns. The influence pays dividends since it requires legislative action to alter the current status where manufacturers release chemicals under an honor system requiring proof chemicals are safe for consumer use prior to distribution.

Currently, the U.S. does not use precautionary principles, but rather acts under the assumption chemicals are “innocent until proven guilty.” The opposite is true in Europe, where if a chemical is suspected dangerous, it’s phased out.

However, proving guilt is nearly impossible in the short term as these chemicals often accumulate over years in your body before effects are noticeable. This works to the advantage of the industry. For example, one of the world’s most popular chemical weed killers, Roundup, made by Monsanto (now Bayer), has been on the market since 1974.

After 45 years on the market, Monsanto was recently ordered to pay $289 million when a jury found Dwayne Johnson’s non-Hodgkin lymphoma was at least partly triggered by glyphosate in Roundup , to which he was exposed as a school groundskeeper. The judge upheld the guilty verdict but later reduced the damages to $78 million.
After the verdict, the presiding judge, Suzanne Ramos Bolanos, commented the company "acted with malice, oppression or fraud and should be punished for its conduct." In the past, Monsanto had sued California’s Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment for adding glyphosate to their Proposition 65 list of cancer causing chemicals, and lost.

In filming the documentary, Whelan did not receive a response to a question he posed to manufacturers: "What are the consumer advantages of buying products with hidden chemicals that cause cancer and birth defects?" He believes a safe compromise is transparency, allowing consumers to decide what exposure they will endure.

Secondhand Fragrances

It isn't only the chemicals in the products you purchase to which you are exposed. Secondhand fragrance contamination is a public health concern as 30.5 percent of the general population find smells irritating and another 19 percent experience adverse health effects from air fresheners.
Thirty years ago the issue was secondhand smoke, but today scent from perfume, air fresheners, scented laundry products and numerous other products on which fragrances are used are triggering health issues. Reactions to these fragrances created in the laboratory may include:

Hay fever symptoms
Muscle aches/spasms
Heart Palpitations
Mucosal symptoms in eyes and airways24
Gastrointestinal problems
Vomiting, Nausea
Asthma attacks
Neurological problems
Contact dermatitis25
Breathing and respiratory difficulties

The chemical cocktails in fragrances are often toxic as they are derived from petroleum and coal tar, and not made from the essential oils of flowers or sweet smelling plants. As soon as you smell an air freshener, scented candle or laundry detergent, you have already absorbed the chemicals into your body as they enter through your lungs.

Even when you no longer smell the fragrance, you're still absorbing the chemicals through your clothing, bedding and towels. Some synthetic fabrics have unpleasant odors, prompting manufacturers to cover them with masking fragrances.

Secondhand fragrances are difficult to avoid as most public places use some type of air freshener, and make available scented hand soaps.

Although the number could potentially be falling, 85 percent of women wear perfume and over 60 percent of men use cologne and aftershave. A small number of schools, colleges, businesses and hospitals have enacted fragrance-free policies.

Are You Releasing Volatile Organic Compounds Into the Neighborhood?

The scent and chemicals manufacturers add to your clothing aren’t the only ways toxic chemicals are released. Since fragrances are essentially an unregulated market and manufacturers are working on the "honor system," it's not possible to find information on product labels about exposure to dangerous chemicals.

 Fabric softeners  and dryer sheets are one such fragrance-laden product. One University of Washington scientist, Anne Steinemann, Ph.D., professor of civil and environmental engineering and public affairs, has done a large amount of research into what chemicals are released by laundry products, Air Fresheners, cleaners, lotions and other fragranced consumer products.

One study focused on chemicals emitted through laundry vents during typical use of fragranced products, and was published in Air Quality, Atmosphere and Health in 2011. Steinemann found the following dryer vent emissions from 25 of the most common brands of scented laundry products:
More than 600 volatile organic compounds (VOCs) were emitted, and only two of those compounds were listed on any associated material safety data sheet. None of the chemicals were listed on any of the 25 product labels.

Two of the VOCs (acetaldehyde and benzene) are considered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to be carcinogenic and unsafe at ANY exposure level.

Seven of the VOCs are classified as "hazardous air pollutants."
The highest concentration of emitted VOCs was acetaldehyde, acetone and ethanol.

Only 25 percent of the VOCs were classified as toxic or hazardous under federal laws.

Virtually none of the VOCs detected in her study were listed on product labels or the product’s material data safety sheet. Instead, labels listed only general categories, such as "biodegradable surfactants," "softeners" or "perfume." Even more disturbing, the "greener" products were just as bad, if not worse, than the conventional products.

Tips to Help You Avoid Toxic Chemicals

Whelan hopes his movie will move agencies to focus their efforts in the war on cancer toward prevention first. If you have information showing a product you’re purchasing has dangerous chemicals, it could change your buying decisions — which is what manufacturers are trying to avoid.

Considering all the potential sources of toxic chemicals, it’s virtually impossible to avoid all of them.

Saturday 22 December 2018

Delivery Boys Rule

The media today has become a target for our dissatisfaction about the way things are and how they don’t work. We have forgotten that it is nothing new and historically is just another bunch who have London and its politics in their grip and under their influence.

It was Stanley Baldwin who used the wonderful line of Kipling’s, his cousin, about media control, “Power without responsibility, the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages” in 1931. He was attacking the press barons, Lord Beaverbrook and Lord Rothermere and the extent of the influence they enjoyed.

The Harmsworth (Rothermere) family and their adjuncts are still around and have the Daily Mail, whose online success is owed to its free access and extensive celebrity sensation and other scare stories. Its print sales are helped by a series of promotions designed to appeal to the poorer end of Middle England.

The first Harmsworth, Alfred, from the 1890’s to the 1920’s was said to have a major influence on politicians and who finally went mad before he died relatively young. Whether this streak of megalomania is genetic or environmental is open to debate.

Max Aitken, later Lord Beaverbrook made a sudden decision to try his luck and money in England in 1910 after a scandal in Canada to do with cement and bought his way into influence very quickly. Spotting the main chance he took on the Express newspapers and developed them into a popular and strident sheet.

The Beaver became a Minister of the Crown in both World Wars and is credited with helping to deal with munitions crises. He was certainly close to Churchill who relied on him for good company, cigars and trenchant advice about the capabilities of other politicians. His judgement went badly wrong in the 1950’s with Eden whose health was not up to the job of succeeding Churchill.

The elections of 1945 were something of a blow to his reliability and this may be because they had not seen the Daily Mirror coming up on the rails. This paper had captured a good many of the working class and began to wield influence in its turn. By the 1960’s it was a force to be reckoned with.

At the helm was Cecil Harmsworth King (yes, his father married a Harmsworth) and it was him in 1968 who was alleged to have tried to organise a putsch in 1968 to rid the UK of Harold Wilson and a crew of Westminster politicians who lacked credibility with the people.

We can go back a long way with this. In the 17th Century there were the leading pamphlet writers most of whose identities are not known, many pieces form the Thomason Collection at the British Library. In the 18th Century there was already a formidable press with many contributors.

One in the Public Advertiser, under the name “Junius” (see Wikipedia) had special influence because he clearly had full access to those who held power. Current opinion suggests that he was Sir Philip Francis but I suspect that others were involved. Looking at the connections it may be that Jeremy Sneyd was a source.

By the middle of the 19th Century The Times had moved to centre stage and was known at “The Thunderer”, but it was still part of an extensive press that could move votes and therefore politicians. A high point was the Crimean War when The Times was right about the treatment of the troops.

In 1884-1885 the General Gordon fiasco in Egypt and The Sudan arose because a government with a lot on its plate allowed itself to be pushed into action by a lynch mob media against the better judgement of many of those responsible.

How many of the imperial ventures and how much of the effort involved could be attributed to a gung ho media urged on by City speculators and other interests in the name of glory and circulation is a good matter to debate.

This culminated in the summer of 1914 when The Times under Wickham Steed urged the Empire to make war against the German Empire along with other press support. This was at the height of the “Summer Season” with all its engagements. In London, the politicians bungled until war became the default option.

In retrospect had the dilettante Premier Asquith, along with Grey and perhaps even the King made a rapid journey to Berlin with full scale Foreign Office action designed to halt the mobilisation of the Armies of Europe might war might have been avoided?

But they did not and became involved in a war of incredible destruction of men, material and Empires.  By 1918 the world had changed, arguably much of it for the worse. But at least the newspaper circulation and advertising had held up.

The real question is just how much influence it has had in the military and financial ventures of recent years that have done so much damage.

Friday 21 December 2018

Playing The Card

People may say I am nuts, never mind those who assert I am crackers.

But I did like the seasonal message above.

We shall be watching and especially listening.

Snowflakes rule OK.

Thursday 20 December 2018

Politician Lost For Words

An elderly bloke who still has to work, Jeremy Corbyn, has the job of sitting for hours and hours on a bench in a hot stuffy room filled with heavy breathers with nothing to do but listen and occasionally add to the hot air with speeches of his own in the House of Commons in Parliament. No wonder he sometimes mutters or thinks to himself causing the lips to move.

But he has been caught out by modern technology. One of the more interesting things about watching football is lip reading the things that footballers say in times of stress and what referees tell them. So anyone anywhere who has a camera on them and thinks a thought should the lips move they can be banged to rights.

Corbyn has been caught napping perhaps having a thought in his head during a speech from the Prime Minister; he has my sympathy, I switch her off after five minutes. If I became Prime Minister I would be tempted to bang her advisers up in a cell where they could be treated to a reading of Burkes Peerage over and over again.

What I wonder is what thoughts Winston Churchill might have had, either as Prime Minister or Leader of the Opposition when during a long and wearying debate the handbag of Bessie Braddock had caught the Speaker's Eye to the groans of not only the Tories but most of her Labour Party as well.

Churchill was cavalry, a 4th Hussar and familiar with military language usage. When I played rugby against 4H at the time he was Prime Minister we had Lancers and Dragoons, Light Infantry and even a couple of Engineers. It got very fruity indeed and I have no doubt Churchill could have matched them word for word.

In keeping with our modern sensibilities about what people say and think and what they can be judged to have thought in the past, what might be done? HIs views on Bessie are well known so perhaps Churchill should be removed from the history books.