Tuesday 30 July 2019

The wisdom of Alexandria

But what is the point when we only have twelve years left? Unfortunately there is more -


Monday 29 July 2019

Crap jobs

The other day found us tootling along Derbyshire roads with the top down on a lovely sunny day. Lovely for us but not necessarily for those who had to work outside in the heat and the full glare of the sun.

We passed one of those temporary traffic control systems where two guys have to hold up STOP GO boards. Both wore full hi-vis overalls so it must have been a sweltering job. If that had been my job I’d have put a great deal of effort into moving on. In fact I’d have put a great deal of effort into avoiding such a job in the first place.

It’s an element of career ambition. Maybe it isn’t easy to say how important it is generally but from my perspective it is very important. The notion of a fulfilling career is probably a fantasy for most of us - avoiding the crap jobs will generally do.

Sunday 28 July 2019

Thick as a post

Just before bunging this post onto the interweb I realised it’s my 3000th post. Not a huge number by blogging standards but when I began I didn’t expect – well I don’t quite know what I didn’t expect. Here it is anyway.

There is a vital sense in which we need eccentrics, extremists and perhaps even criminals. From the harmless nutter to the politically correct loon to the megalomaniac, we need them as boundary posts. They indicate where sanity comes to an end and insanity begins. They are the boundary posts put there by bitter experience to indicate where we must not go. It’s where the expression thick as a post comes from. Actually it isn’t, but perhaps it ought to be.

The trouble is we also need similar boundary posts for a completely different reason. These boundary posts indicate where we have gone wrong and how we should change our boundaries in the future. Spotting the difference between them can be a problem.

For example, Jeremy Corbyn is an obvious boundary post of the don’t go there type. An intransigent extremist who over more than three decades has contributed little of political, economic or moral value to any public debate. An easy boundary post to spot one would think but for many voters apparently not.

An example from the US could be Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who if given the opportunity could do a great deal of harm to the US. Ursula von der Leyen seems to radiate post-like qualities and of course the EU itself is an enormous institutional post. Our leaders ignored that one on our behalf.

The problem of boundary posts is an old one, but current difficulties seem to stem from our history since WW2. One might suppose that WW2 and communism left us with a number of massive boundary posts in Hitler, Stalin, Mao and co. Compared to that lot Al Capone was a cuddly teddy bear of a businessman.

Hitler, Stalin, Mao left us with huge clues about the boundaries of political endeavour. Vast clues only a raving lunatic could miss. Unfortunately the posts have been moved and all we are really left with today is Hitler because numerous intellectuals, journalists, politicians and activists choose not to see the others.

The Guardian is an institutional boundary post, as is the BBC, both showing us how the upper middle class pulls up the social ladder to minimise social mobility. This is why we have comprehensive schools – the grammar school educational ladder was pulled up.

The Daily Mail is yet another institutional boundary post, warning us that tits, bums and celebrities aren’t everything. The Pope is another post as is the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Unfortunately ours is also the age of fake boundaries such as identity politics fake racism, fake sexism and the wider problem of numerous fake prejudices. These boundary posts show us where free speech is being abused and where language itself is abused.

Climate change gives us a huge boundary post to indicate where science is corrupted by politics if we are foolish enough to cross over to the mad world of invented physical phenomena. As with all such problems, rational argument goes nowhere. Ignore the boundary post, cross the boundary and reason no longer functions.

Thursday 25 July 2019

The GaryBox

Hooray, BritBox is coming to the UK.

BritBox: ITV and BBC set out plans for new streaming service

Shows like Love Island, Gavin & Stacey, Gentleman Jack and Broadchurch will be on ITV and the BBC's streaming service BritBox when it launches this year.

The broadcasters are joining forces to set up the subscription service in the UK as a rival to the likes of Netflix.

It will cost £5.99 per month in HD, launching between October and the end of December.

New programmes will also be made specially for BritBox, with the first arriving next year.

Not the same thing technically, but here’s another idea. How about a GaryBox for the BBC? This would be a simple inexpensive box of tricks sitting between the aerial or satellite dish and the TV. On a particular well-publicised date BBC terrestrial and satellite transmissions would be scrambled but the GaryBox would unscramble them for viewers who have paid a fee.

To make the GaryBox work, BBC viewers without an internet connection would buy time-limited cards which slot into the GaryBox, allowing them to watch all BBC output, including of course Gary Lineker on Match of the Day. For those with an internet connection the GaryBox would be updated via an internet account and Direct Debit. That would be the majority of viewers, making the GaryBox easy to operate.

The GaryBox would do away with the TV licence and allow people who don’t watch the BBC to watch TV without worrying about TV licence bullying. I know from personal experience that there are people who don’t watch BBC but pay for a licence to avoid any possibility of licence bullying but that’s the Beeb for you. Gary must be paid.

Wednesday 24 July 2019

Pulling up the ladder

There is much to be said for the idea that pulling up the social ladder lies at the core of all political movements and systems. This is why socialism is so middle class, why covert stifling of social mobility seems so important to both socialism and the many flavours of left wing politics.

Entangled with this is the selective control of information. In other words there is also a fundamental difference between those who value comprehensive explanations and those who for social and political reasons prefer partial explanations. Partial explanations are easier to understand and promote, easier to mould into ladder-pulling slogans.

There is a vastly important type of partial explanation which offers a sense of moral strength while pulling up the social ladder. In these cases the whole ladder-pulling game is viewed from a standpoint of moral strength, Everything is done for the common good, especially for those at the bottom of the social pile.

But of course the moral standpoint is spurious because what is created is dependency and dependency is all that is left once the ladder has been pulled up.

Monday 22 July 2019

High in the water

Sky has this story about a dodgy Chinese swimmer

Sky Views: Podium protest against China's 'poster boy' shames swimming's governing body

There were several contenders for standout moment of the swimming world championships in South Korea this weekend.

Not least, Adam Peaty producing possibly the finest performance by a British swimmer in history, becoming the first person to break 57 seconds for 100m breaststroke.

But it was the image of Australian Mack Horton refusing to share the podium with China's poster boy Sun Yang that will endure.

The terms "drugs cheat," "dirty," and "doper" are already being attached to Sun Yang by his rivals before he has been convicted of anything, over and above a warning relating to the latest scandal.

But that is the environment FINA has created with its disgraceful approach to doping control and toothless punishments of drugs cheats.

The piece lists the evidence against Sun which, one might think, should be enough to have him barred from competitive swimming. Apparently not.

In other news, Chinese geneticists have a new breed of drug-free swimmers in the pipeline. With huge feet, webbed hands and a breathing hole in the back of their heads these super-athletes are expected to consign the whole sorry drugs mess to sporting history.  

Saturday 20 July 2019

Independently batty

The Independent is a weird outfit. Take this piece which appears to suggest that Extinction Rebellion should be exempt from criticism.

It is no longer acceptable to question climate change. So why is it now mainstream to criticise Extinction Rebellion?

Okay it's only the Independent so we shouldn't take it too seriously, but real people actually sit down and write this kind of thing and it gets worse -

In response, Policy Exchange, a think tank set up by three Conservative MPs in 2002, has released a paper labelling the group as “extremist” and seeking “to break down the established civil order and liberal democracy in the UK”.

XR protests are, by their nature, provocative, and whilst there is widespread sympathy for their ambitions to save the planet, there has also been a pronounced backlash. The Policy Exchange report’s conclusions have been greeted with pleasure by tub-thumping right-wingers, hysteria by some of the media, and bemused incredulity by most of civilised, normal Britain.

To my mind bemused incredulity seems about right, but not in the way the Independent suggests, but it gets even worse -

We should be a country that embraces protest. We should be a country that challenges ideas, not actions, because actions are protected in law.

Does that mean anything coherent? If we have a spate of local car thefts do we expect the police to challenge the actions of the thieves or do we expect them to rest content with challenging the the idea of car theft? 

Thursday 18 July 2019

Fantasies and futures

If Mrs H and I decide to downsize, where will we move to? Hmm – let me imagine the kind of house and location which would suit us –

As we all know, human beings have a highly developed ability to imagine future scenarios. So much so that this is one of the capabilities which appear to set us apart from other animals. Yet political narratives seem to misuse this crucial ability as a matter of course. Political scenarios may sometimes be plausible futures. Too often they are simple stories which only sound plausible at first sight. Often not even that.

We’ll bring about real change by putting real money into the NHS, schools, training, the fight against climate change, cute fluffy animals...

The problem is highlighted when children puzzle their way through childhood stories which adults know to be fantasy. For some reason we seem to think this is a good way to bring up children. Maybe it is but only for those children who make it to adulthood knowing the difference between fantasy and reality. Unfortunately that isn’t all of them. Although political stories tend to be just as formulaic as fairy stories, spotting their implausible nature does not seem to be a universal adult ability.

The usual way to explain this is to suggest that adults become biased in favour of their allegiances. Stories bolster those allegiance. Fair enough – it’s a very common explanation of these things and both sides in any debate are quite likely to use it to accuse the other lot of bias.

Yet many people do not seem to have a well-developed ability to imagine plausible political futures in the first place. As if we are losing the ability to see these things. As if prosperity and comfort have blunted our real world experiences. As if we are losing the ability to analyse.

Stories are taking over and there is little we can do if a catastrophic future lurks just over the horizon. However bad that future may be, collectively we are unlikely to foresee it.

Wednesday 17 July 2019

Mere speculation

This is merely speculation but I’ve been wondering why the global warming climate change climate emergency stories have recently been spewed out in even greater numbers than usual by the mainstream media. Why have the usual suspects suddenly started to declare climate emergencies all over the place? It's unprecedented.

Anyhow here’s the speculation - and it is merely speculation. Maybe some authoritative source has quietly put it about that we are in for a protracted period of unambiguous cooling. In which case the official story will be – it could have been worse. Not an original thought of course, but something seems to be in the air. Not snow I hope.

Crashing Pelosi's Party

Tuesday 16 July 2019

Time running out - again


When any one asks me what I think of the weather or of the Prime Minister, does my answer report anything that I have previously thought? Probably not; my past impressions are lost, or obliterated by the very question put to me; and I make bold to invent, on the spur of the moment, a myth about my sentiments on the subject.

George Santayana - Scepticism and Animal Faith (1923)

Monday 15 July 2019


Today, walking by the river Wye from Monsal Head we found the old weir has been fenced off using barbed wire and stern notices. Seems odd as the weir has been accessible for as long as I can remember. Certainly since my parents brought us as youngsters.

Yes it is dangerous, but it looks dangerous and sounds dangerous. As does the A38. There will be reasons of course, there are always reasons for making things that bit crappier.

Saturday 13 July 2019

Sack time

Theresa May's final Number 10 interview

In an exclusive broadcast interview in Downing Street, the prime minister has told the BBC that she will leave the job with a "mixture of pride and disappointment".

Speaking to BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, Theresa May said that she didn’t "recognise" herself in the criticisms made of her during her time in the job. But she admitted that she had "underestimated" divisions in Parliament.

Maybe she kept them up too late.

Ministers are reportedly planning to issue guidance on how much sleep people should be getting every night.

The recommendations are expected as part of a series of proposals aimed at improving public health in the UK.

According to a leaked draft of the plans seen by The Times, up to three in four adults do not regularly get at least seven hours sleep per night.

If this is government business it is no wonder that ministers and MPs struggle with Brexit. The most dispiriting aspect is that the mind no longer boggles at such nonsense.

Thursday 11 July 2019

The very idea

From a 1952 copy of Punch. Intended as a joke of course - a possibility that screen-based teaching could take over the classroom. The very idea.

Wednesday 10 July 2019

Alexa - I said hoarse not horse

From the BBC

People will be able to get expert health advice using Amazon Alexa devices, under a partnership with the NHS, the government has announced.

From this week, the voice-assisted technology is automatically searching the official NHS website when UK users ask for health-related advice.

The government in England said it could reduce demand on the NHS.

What if such a system actually does reduce demand? Hard to imagine because even if it does reduce demand the statistics may not show it for one reason or another.       

Monday 8 July 2019

Money talks

An £845,000 project has been launched in eight areas of Derby to encourage parents to talk to their children - at mealtimes, during play and through everyday conversations.

What are they supposed to talk about though? Maybe that comes later.

Friday 5 July 2019

Boris for PM?

If elected leader of the Conservatives it is impossible to predict how Prime Minister Boris Johnson will tackle such a poisonous chalice. The leader’s character is only one facet of a complex web of political forces – the EU, civil service, media, Parliament and the electorate. Whatever his strengths and weaknesses, failure seems more likely than success.

Boris comes across as a colourful, clever, likeable but somewhat idle and unreliable chap who may have no clear idea about tackling the job of Prime Minister. He may simply be very ambitious and achieving his core ambition, tasting the pinnacle of political power, lining himself up for another move when things fall apart – that may be enough. We can’t tell.

Yet the Conservatives need a real leader, a breath of something different, a clear contrast with the politically correct loons and grey managerial types we encounter in modern politics. They need someone to take on Jeremy Corbyn and make him look foolish. Not a difficult task of course but still essential if the party aims to deal with the Brexit Party and find a way through Brexit intact.

Many Conservative MPs may see Boris as worth a punt and perhaps he is. At least he’ll be interesting but it leaves us with the question of why modern political leaders have largely abandoned leadership. Political leadership is an actor’s job, a performance designed to inspire and enthuse followers while blunting the attacks of critics and opponents. Boris seems to realise that, but apart from Nigel Farage he appears to be the only political leader who does.

As if the leader has been supplanted by the manager, the uninspiring functionary who is almost bound to fail simply because failure to enthuse leads to failure.

Thursday 4 July 2019

Jeremy storms into fourth place

Labour are backed by fewer than one in five voters and are only the fourth most popular party, according to a new poll.

In a fresh YouGov survey for The Times, Jeremy Corbyn's party dropped to 18% behind the Conservatives (24%), Brexit Party (23%) and Liberal Democrats (20%).

Mr Corbyn never fails to entertain, but a slightly disturbing aspect is that he still attracted 18% of this particular poll. People who respond to such polls need to pull their socks up - 0% would have been far more entertaining.  

Wednesday 3 July 2019

A waste of bacon


A quick visit to the past - if you type ‘Ed Miliband’ into Google the second most likely bit of additional text offered by the Mighty Search Machine is ‘bacon sandwich’. All that expensive image management effort wasted. I don’t know why they bother.

Yet while we are on the subject of bacon sandwiches, eating is a rum game anyway isn’t it? Take the bacon sandwich for example. Firstly we insert it it into our mouths as elegantly as possible. Then it is masticated, absorbed and as if by magic turns into enough energy to mow the lawn.

Which is fine if you want to mow the lawn or do something else equally useful, but what about politicians such as Ed? If they eventually manage to gobble up a bacon sandwich they are liable to turn it into enough energy to talk bollocks for a few hours. Seems like a waste of bacon to me.

Monday 1 July 2019

Insignificant individuals have no role

This is another in an occasional series of mostly non-technical climate posts. To begin we have one of the many obvious questions thrown up by the catastrophic climate change project.

Does anyone actually believe we are headed for climate catastrophe?

To my mind the answer to this question is obvious – no. To a good approximation nobody believes it and nobody ever did believe it. Look at the behaviour we see around us.

Climate leaders fly all over the world and climate followers drive cars, take holidays, heat their homes in winter, cook their food and use electrical appliances. We see large houses being built in the traditional manner, packed airports at holiday time and hybrid cars such as the Toyota Prius doing 80mph down the motorway.

Moving on to international climate mitigation policies we are confronted with technological solutions such as wind turbines and solar panels which cannot deliver reliable energy at the level we have come to rely on. If we consider international climate treaties such as the Paris Agreement we are confronted with the China issue - there is no point to emissions treaties if China doesn’t join in.

If we consider energy technology which has the capacity to deliver a low emission future we are left with nuclear power and nothing else. The climate industrial complex doesn’t want nuclear power, the one technology which would deliver us from the supposed climate emergency.

To a good approximation nobody believes catastrophic climate predictions. Nobody ever did.

So what is the real game?

Again this is well known - Agenda 21. The climate game is a global bureaucratic and political project initiated and sustained by the UN with the willing cooperation of numerous interested governments, NGOs, journalists, universities, businesses, criminals and celebrity virtue-signallers.

Insignificant individuals have no role.

But that’s the plan anyway.