Sodium is a highly reactive metal, which burns with a bright yellow flame, characteristic of urban street lighting - sodium lamps. The latter fill the dark nights with light, by which we may find our way, but they also drown out the faint light of many thousands of stars. Then again, sodium spectral lines are also a very common component of sunlight and starlight. They are both natural and artificial phenomena; part of a message but not the whole ...

A chorus in classical Greek drama was a group of actors whose song and dance would offer some exposition, commentary or counterpoint to the main action. It is also an effect by which similar sounds of slightly varying pitch may seem to merge and be perceived as one.

A drunken sodium chorus outsang the moon,
pitching and swaying like an angry Aegean ...

This is not exclusively a political blog. It is partly a place to rant and rave, to throw ideas into the aether and start conversations about all manner of things, including: society, science, politics, ethics, ideas such as democracy, freedom, truth, justice, even consciousness or quantum mechanics. It may also turn out to be a sort of diary, a record of happenings as well as thoughts. Sometimes, I will express ideas in verse form, because ... just because.

What is the 'libertarian left'? I used this phrase to describe my blog as a kind of challenge to those who would appropriate the idea of liberty for the right of the political spectrum. In the past 40 years especially, a notion has arisen in mainstream discourse that the left tends towards authoritarianism whilst the right is the standard-bearer of liberty. This is simplistic but the idea has left its mark in the way debates are conducted today. The terms 'nanny state', 'libertarian' and 'neo-liberal' are all examples of how this kind of thinking has become commonplace. It was not always so, and even if we look at recent history, this right-wing interpretation of liberty has not succeeded even by its own measures.

My first post was about a kind of tax protest, but not the sort beloved of right-wing American 'tea-partiers'. The protest was about fair taxation, not lower taxation in general. It embodied a principle of liberty beyond a narrow, simplistic kind of economic freedom: there is no liberty without justice. A world of zero taxation would not be a free world, but a world in thrall to the power of plutocrats. On the other hand, taxation can be oppressive - e.g. the 'poll tax' of Margaret Thatcher's government - when it is unjust. This can happen when the tax is levied by an authority without sufficient democratic accountability. Genuine democracy is a pre-requisite for justice. Unfortunately, no country in the world today is anywhere near democratic enough to guarantee justice for its people. In fact, democracy has been in retreat across the world for at least 20 years, in my view, despite - and even because of - the end of the Cold War.

Still, I am not a politician, or even an economist. I am trained in science and mathematics, so I tend to focus my view of the world through a lens supplied by these disciplines. I also like to talk about science and mathematics themselves, as if they were somehow unsullied by the tawdry concerns of politics and economics, existing in some Platonic realm of pure thought. Sadly, the reification of science and mathematics in the form of universities and academic journals and their coverage in the media makes them subject to all the usual human vices. This is something about which I may also have plenty to say.