Tuesday, 26 March 2019


Quite long but worth watching. The institutional bias of the BBC by journalist and former BBC insider Robin Aitken.

It is much as a BBC outsider might expect, but worth saying, partly because Robin Aitken saw it from the inside and partly because as suggested near the end of the video - change is in the air.

Mr Aitken wrote this article in the Daily Mail back in 2007 giving more details of his career in the BBC.

Sunday, 24 March 2019

Blue lagoon

Dene Quarry near Cromford in Derbyshire - we skirted the quarry on our walk today. A sense of scale is indicated by parked vehicles towards the top left of the photo.

Whenever we walk by this quarry I have a sense of unease at the size of it and what it says about our demand for raw materials. It is easy enough to put aside such thoughts because if asked are you prepared to do without x, y, z then my honest answer would be no thanks. But the sense of unease remains. 

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Antique Heseltine for sale

Hemswell Antiques Centre has what appears to be an interesting dummy Heseltine for sale, complete with leather carrying case. A talking point perhaps? Maybe it could be made to explain the advantages of the EU in Greek. It seems to be complete apart from the wig.

Thursday, 21 March 2019

Two women

The other day I noticed two women sitting together in a cafe enjoying a coffee and a natter. Both seemed to be about the same age. Mid sixties would be my guess but in their outward appearance they were quite different.

One was slim, grey-haired and neatly but quietly dressed. She looked like a retired head teacher.

The other carried much more weight, had long wavy hair dyed black, wore lots of makeup and jewellery and managed to look like a pantomime dame.

In other words one carried her age well while the other did not. It doesn’t matter in the sense that nobody really bothers anyway and for all I know the well-groomed lady could be an undetected mass murderer.

Yet it is impossible to avoid the thought that some people do not see themselves when they look in the mirror. No doubt in our heads we all gild the proverbial lily when we gaze at our own reflection, but surely we do at least see something resembling reality. Don’t we?

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Cyclists' hearts

Not sure what to make of this. We all know that major sports stars have to be dedicated but this feels more like madness than dedication. 

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Terrifying hours

An article in Tablet by David P. Goldman is interesting. As we know the world is changing rapidly and Chinese technology, money and ambitions are driving much of the change.

Huawei is employee-owned and its highly-incentivized employees put in terrifying hours. Its founder, Ren Zhengfei, owns a reported 1.4 percent of the company, valued at $450 million. His executives and workers own the rest. The Huawei campus covers 500 acres and makes Stanford University look dowdy. The executive dining center features an enormous artificial waterfall, young women in traditional costume playing ancient Chinese instruments, and three-star quality Cantonese food (or so I’m told; I eat kosher). We dined in a small private room with a Huawei executive, whence a guide escorted us to the exhibition hall. We passed thousands of Huawei workers returning from lunch. “They all have a futon under their desks,” said our guide. “They take a nap after lunch because they work until 10 o’clock.”

The Huawei tour took three hours. It might be the largest technology museum in the world, bigger than the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, or the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, except it shows only new things. One exhibit consisted of a 4-by-6-yard wall map of Guangdong City, glistening tens of thousands of small lights. “Every one of the lights is a smartphone,” said our guide. “We can track the location of every phone and correlate position to online purchases and social media posts.”

And what do you use this information for, I inquired? “Well, if you want to open a new Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise, this will help you to find the best location,” said the guide. Yeah, right, I thought. The Ministry of State Security knows where everyone is at all times and whom they are with; if the phones of two Chinese who posted something critical about the government are in proximity, the State Security computers will detect a conspiracy. That was before China installed high-definition video cameras with facial recognition software powered by Huawei chips at 100-meter intervals in major cities.

There is much more context than Huawei - the whole piece is well worth reading.

Mr Happy

When a man is very happy, his brain, as is well known, is not very active.

Ivan Turgenev - The Diary of a Superfluous Man (1850)