Thursday 30 January 2020

Decaff clothing?

Our 2.5-layer Barricade™ technology works by bonding the water repellent face fabric and the waterproof-breathable membrane together. A print is applied to the inside face of the fabric to protect the waterproof membrane, and this time we’ve introduced a new P4Dry™ printing technology.

Sustainably created from used coffee grounds, P4Dry™ provides excellent moisture management properties by quickly transferring moisture to the surface of the bonded fabric to be released into the air. This results in a drier feeling that removes that clammy sensation you can sometimes get with waterproof shells, as well as improving odour control.

I've no idea how effective this is because I haven't tried it, but used coffee grounds? Imaginative maybe, but the suspicion remains that middle class folk will buy anything if a bit of virtue-signalling is woven in.

Wednesday 29 January 2020

Good news

The job cuts announced on Wednesday include the previously announced closure of BBC Two's Victoria Derbyshire programme.

BBC News currently employs around 6,000 people, including 1,700 outside the UK. Its budget after the changes will be around £480m per year.

Unsworth, who is director of BBC News, said: "The BBC has to face up to the changing way audiences are using us.

I would never have guessed that BBC News employs around 6,000 people. What the blue blazes do they all do?

Monday 27 January 2020

Old progressives

In any case he did not like old men. The War had carried him with the rest upon the swing of that popular cry “Every one over seventy to the lethal chamber.”...

...“I don’t think we ought to be governed by old people,” said Jane. “Every one over seventy ought to be buried whether they wish it or no.” Joan laughed aloud. “Of course they wouldn’t wish it,” she said.

Hugh Walpole – The Cathedral (1922)

Almost a century ago Walpole used these two fictional comments to indicate how bleakly facile rootless progressives can be. He was a popular novelist, yet The Cathedral is a dark and strangely disturbing tale set within the narrow confines of cathedral clergy.

At the novel’s heart is the subtle scheming of one clergyman to undermine and remove another simply because he thinks cathedral life would be more comfortable that way. This is his only motive for destroying a colleague.

It highlights something which has always been a fundamental tenet of progressive thinking – sweep these people away and all will be well.

Saturday 25 January 2020

The High Street

Belper has been named as having the best high street in England at a glitzy award ceremony in Edinburgh.

Great British High Street judges celebrated the town and it's Love Belper group, even awarding "hero" status to its leader, Laura Armstrong.

The ceremony brochure stated: “Using the #lovebelper hashtag, visitors can enjoy virtual showcases of this UNESCO World Heritage status town, including The Pumpkin Trail, Bunny Hop and Fiver Fest.

“Many businesses have undertaken Belper ambassador training and all have signed up to being breastfeeding-friendly.

“Shops have also been audited for accessibility too. Declaring a climate emergency, the town has introduced initiatives like a Sharing Not Wasting project and the new Repair Café.

Belper is within easy reach for us and the High Street is okay as high streets go, but we hardly ever visit. Why? Shops are shops and for us a nearby shopping mall has more attractions.

Soulless it may be, but the mall has a huge free car park and a regular bus service, is clean and there is absolutely no litter. Go there early enough and you see staff wiping down the litter bins after making sure they have a fresh bag inside. There are no derelicts, no drunks, no drug addicts, nobody sleeping in doorways, no charity shops and no Big Issue sellers.

Not that Belper has these issues to any significant degree as far as I know, but the mall doesn't have them at all. That soulless atmosphere tells you that it doesn't intend to have such problems - ever.

Of course it is merely a shopping mall and shops are shops, but the whole place is managed very professionally. High streets have no chance.

Thursday 23 January 2020

The obvious question... long before it smells of urine?

Cruise said it was designed for shared ownership: "It's not a product you buy, it's an experience you share."

Chief executive Dan Ammann wants drivers to move away from individual ownership to a sharing model, to help reduce emissions, accidents and congestion.

Speaking at the launch in San Francisco, he said the Cruise Origin was not a concept vehicle: "It is self-driven. It is all electric. It is shared."

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Make it go away

Why do the establishment plus certain segments of the middle classes hate Donald Trump with such venom? Is it his policies, his actions, his manner or something else?

Presumably it is all of these things but in particular is seems to be his language. Trump knows how to speak the apolitical language of ordinary working people. The language of employment, living standards, traditional values and the adverse trends which are likely to impact those pragmatic concerns. That is to say he speaks the language of those who voted for him where the establishment speaks a purely political language. Trump is leading the long delayed battle between the apolitical and the political.

If we don’t speak or think of something does it go away? Of course it does. If we don’t talk about something within the public domain, where does it go? Where could it go but the sidelines? It fades away like the Cheshire Cat, sometimes disappearing altogether. This is the rationale behind political censorship, political correctness and political language generally – to make apolitical ideas go away.

Not thinking about witchcraft, not taking about it, not invoking it as the cause of natural disasters – these slow but inexorable changes made witchcraft go away. A desirable change we may say.

Honesty is much the same. Not thinking about honesty and what it is, not talking about it, not invoking it as a desirable ideal – these slow but inexorable changes are making honesty go away in the sense that it migrates to the boundaries of public discourse. As an ideal for public discourse it is being supplanted by other criteria. Clearly an undesirable change.

The key arena is the public domain where ideas circulate, grow, shrink, morph into other ideas, become fashionable, unfashionable in the endless evolutionary dance that is human discourse. As propagandists well know; if ideas are squeezed out of the public domain then in a crucially important sense they disappear.

The effect is similar to the decline of languages such as Cornish. As the number of people who speak Cornish declines, the language fades out of the public domain even within Cornwall. It doesn’t disappear completely but becomes increasingly sidelined. Similarly, as the number of people who speak apolitically declines, the language of apolitical discourse could fade from the public domain. It will not disappear but could become increasingly irrelevant.

What we may call the language of apolitical analysis has been going the same way in recent decades. As the number of people who analyse social and economic issues apolitically declines, apolitical analysis fades out of the public domain. It doesn’t disappear but becomes increasingly irrelevant.

Apolitical analysis is the big one. Political classes including political dilettantes such as major celebrities almost always prefer the ease and security of fashionable political mantras over the difficulties and pitfalls of apolitical analysis. They always have. There is little point in addressing such people in apolitical language as they do not understand it, do not approve of it and refuse to answer apolitical speakers in their own language.

If the number of apolitical speakers declines, apolitical analysis will decline in importance but possibly not everywhere. In the developed world there are few major apolitical speakers in the public domain, but Donald Trump suggests there is an untapped demand for plain apolitical speaking. Maybe it will survive him, but an enormous effort will be made to ensure that it doesn’t. Orange man bad – make him go away. It seems to be that primitive.

Andy Pandy – a quantum view

Here is an interesting question. In the early days of children's TV, did any child ever enjoy watching Andy Pandy? My guess is no – however there is a deeper question. How do we explain the Andy Pandy phenomenon?

Allow me to suggest an analogy with quantum mechanics. As we know a subatomic particle such as an electron can behave as a wave or as a particle depending on the nature of the observing experiment. In an analogous way, Andy Pandy can be viewed as creepy or daft depending on the nature of the observing child. We may call this the creepy/daft duality by analogy with wave/particle duality in quantum mechanics.

Andy Pandy duality may even be observed by a two children in a manner analogous to the two slit experiment. Seen through one child's eyes Andy Pandy is daft, seen through the other child's eyes he is creepy but try to see him through both children at once and he is inexplicable.

The only other Andy Pandy question we must resolve is an analogy with Schrödinger's cat. Is Andy Pandy in the basket with Looby Loo?

Tuesday 21 January 2020

24 hours of snow

Time lapse, 24 hrs, Snow. Blizzard St. John’s, Nest Camera, Newfoundland. January 18, 2020

Monday 20 January 2020

No other option

Says the chap who once had more options in his life than most of us see in a lifetime. Mrs H, who is perceptive about such matters thinks Harry's main underlying problem is that he is dim and I agree. Harry's position was no gilded cage - he could have devoted his life to any number of causes and activities.

The cage he seems to have entered quite willingly is that woke and whiny culture where rational discourse is forbidden on pain of excommunication. Harry gives the impression that he could have risen above such absurdities. It's a pity he never did, but as things stand we'll forget him and move on until the divorce.

Saturday 18 January 2020

The dustbin muse

An enduring childhood memory of mine is a warm dustbin. In the fifties we had one of those galvanised metal dustbins and because of where it was situated at the rear of the house, it could become quite warm on a sunny day. I distinctly remember sitting on it one day, enjoying its warmth and wondering what the future might hold. I was too young to be wondering about the future in any profound sense, but in those days there was a good deal of optimism about in spite of the austerity and colossal damage caused by WWII.

Flying cars, unlimited atomic power and a dazzling array of domestic electrical gadgets from refrigerators to telephones, from televisions to vacuum cleaners all seemed to promise a future far removed from the grey fifties.

Yet although some of that post war promise has been fulfilled in a material sense, the optimism has not been sustained. The establishment, major bureaucracies, the media, the political classes and major charities all seem to prefer an aura of pessimism underpinned by a deep sense that it is fashionable and even desirable to be emotionally needy. It is equally fashionable to be emotionally needy on behalf of other people. Or even the environment. Or fish. Or anything really.

We see this in major projects such as climate change where demented pessimism is the approved response. We also saw demented pessimism by the bucketful when the UK electorate dared to be optimistic about a future outside the EU. We saw it and still see it in hysterical reactions to the election of Donald Trump. In a different sense we saw it in Jeremy Corbyn, a politician who personifies the endemic pessimism of modern political doom-mongers.  

Of course there is nothing remotely new about doom-mongers, but our modern versions seem intent on creating an emotionally needy population, one which thinks it needs more bureaucracy, more laws, more interference in daily life. The optimism I glimpsed on that far off dustbin finds no favour with the establishment. It had to go and to a large degree it has.

Yet ironically we should perhaps be pessimistic about the intense and unrelenting promotion of political pessimism.

Friday 17 January 2020

In this stupid world


In this stupid world most people never consider that a thing is good to be done unless it is done by their own set.

George Eliot - Middlemarch (1871-72)

Again and again it is made glaringly obvious to us that the political game attracts the wrong kind of people. 

Thursday 16 January 2020

Too long

This morning I tried on a new shirt at one of the shops in our local shopping mall. I liked the colour, the fit and the price, but the arms were two to three inches too long. Explains the large price reduction I suppose, but if my arms were that long I'd almost be able to fondle my knees while standing to attention.

No doubt lots of people come across this kind of thing all the time. Or maybe my arms are shrinking because I wouldn't usually bother trying on a shirt if it claims to be my size. Usually I buy a shirt, take it home, try it on and the fit is fine. Oh well - the price reduction was quite large.

Mrs H recently had a similar problem with walking trousers. She isn't short for a woman but a particular brand of women's walking trousers supposedly made for a short leg length turned out to be several inches too long when Mrs H tried them on. They would probably fit a woman six feet tall, but if they were a short leg length, who were medium and long intended for?

Wednesday 15 January 2020

Harry and Megs spoiler alert

Mercatornet has leaked the ending of the Harry and Meghan soap opera.

Let me tell you where this Harry and Meghan trail of destruction is going to end: on Oprah Winfrey’s couch. Trust me. A fair few seminal moments in celebrity culture have occurred on that couch (Tom Cruise never recovered) and Meghan is first and foremost a celebrity.

Meghan will be weeping. Oprah will be there with a comforting hand, and you, dear reader, will play the role of the baddie. Meghan will spend much of her time on Oprah’s couch telling her how racist and sexist and generally odious we all are. This will happen less than three years after the British public lined the streets to wish Harry and Meghan every happiness at their wedding as they glided by in an actual horse and carriage, Meghan with an actual princess crown atop her head...

Soon enough Meghan will be on Oprah Winfrey’s couch calling us all racists. You can take that to the bank.

So that's it - no point watching any more.

Tuesday 14 January 2020

An extraordinary swipe

Justin Trudeau had to say something of course, but this seems particularly weak and particularly dishonest.

Justin Trudeau has today blamed the US 'escalation' in the Middle East for the Iranian shoot-down of a passenger jet in an extraordinary swipe at Donald Trump.

Echoing what Iranian officials have said, Trudeau said the dozens of Canadian crash victims would be 'home with their families' but for the tensions started by the US killing of Qassem Soleimani.

The Canadian PM said the international community had to 'manage the tensions in the region that are brought about by US actions'.

After initially denying involvement, Iran admitted on Saturday that it had shot down the jet in error just hours after launching missile attacks on US bases in Iraq.

Tehran said today it had made multiple arrests as president Hassan Rouhani promised to punish those responsible.

Monday 13 January 2020


Last year I read a short book about Apache leader Geronimo. Essentially an autobiography where in 1905 over a number of sessions Geronimo dictated his life story to S M Barrett via a translator. Well worth reading even for someone knowing very little about this aspect of American history.

At times Apache life seems to have been idyllic.

I was born in No-doyohn Cañon, Arizona, June, 1829. In that country which lies around the headwaters of the Gila River I was reared. This range was our fatherland; among these mountains our wigwams were hidden; the scattered valleys contained our fields; the boundless prairies, stretching away on every side, were our pastures; the rocky caverns were our burying places.

When we were old enough to be of real service we went to the field with our parents: not to play, but to toil. When the crops were to be planted we broke the ground with wooden hoes. We planted the corn in straight rows, the beans among the corn, and the melons and pumpkins in irregular order over the field. We cultivated these crops as there was need.

Yet much of the book describes what seem like endless bouts of violent conflict, particularly against Mexicans, but also against the forces of the American government and settlers from the east.

During my many wars with the Mexicans I received eight wounds, as follows: shot in the right leg above the knee, and still carry the bullet; shot through the left forearm; wounded in the right leg below the knee with a saber; wounded on top of the head with the butt of a musket; shot just below the outer corner of the left eye; shot in left side; shot in the back. I have killed many Mexicans; I do not know how many, for frequently I did not count them. Some of them were not worth counting.

At times the Apaches seem to have been strangely incompetent.

We shook hands and promised to be brothers. Then we began to trade, and the Mexicans gave us mescal. Soon nearly all the Indians were drunk. While they were drunk two companies of Mexican troops, from another town, attacked us, killed twenty Indians, and captured many more. We fled in all directions.

As for all those scalps -

After a war party has returned, a modification of the war dance is held. The warriors who have brought scalps from the battles exhibit them to the tribe, and when the dance begins these scalps, elevated on poles or spears, are carried around the camp fires while the dance is in progress. During this dance there is still some of the solemnity of the war dance. There are yells and war whoops, frequently accompanied by discharge of firearms, but there is always more levity than would be permitted at a war dance. After the scalp dance is over the scalps are thrown away. No Apache would keep them, for they are considered defiling.

Towards the end of the book there is this plea from the old warrior.

There is no climate or soil which, to my mind, is equal to that of Arizona. We could have plenty of good cultivating land, plenty of grass, plenty of timber and plenty of minerals in that land which the Almighty created for the Apaches. It is my land, my home, my fathers’ land, to which I now ask to be allowed to return. I want to spend my last days there, and be buried among those mountains. If this could be I might die in peace, feeling that my people, placed in their native homes, would increase in numbers, rather than diminish as at present, and that our name would not become extinct.

Sunday 12 January 2020

Harry and Megs - which way?

This way?

Queen set for showdown talks over Harry and Meghan's future role
The Queen, the Prince of Wales, the Duke of Cambridge and the Duke of Sussex will meet to discuss the future at Sandringham.

Harry and Meghan have a ready-made brand which could earn them "an absolute fortune" and make them bigger than the Beckhams and Obamas, according to brand experts.

Some analysts say the couple could easily earn up to £500m in their first year of independence, their brand will be ethical and luxury on par with the Obamas and Bill Gates, and they will move to North America permanently.

Not much of a head-scratcher is it?

Friday 10 January 2020


While watching the grandkids' swimming lessons we always have a cup of coffee served in cups which claim to be 100% compostable. To test this claim I took a one home, half buried it in the garden and photographed it every now and then over a three month period to see if the claim is realistic.

Not a fair test because standard composting conditions are much more vigorous - see note below. Yet after three months the cup was certainly well degraded. The composite photo below shows it at the start and after two then three months. The last photo was taken on December 19th 2019 so the ground was pretty cold and any biological activity would be slower.

I'm quite impressed because the cup has to contain hot coffee without damage but seems likely to sail through a standard composting test. 

The next effort was a National Trust magazine bag made from a material which contains potato starch. Again, not a fair test for the same reasons but I thought the bag would degrade quite rapidly, the National Trust being so reliable on matters environmental hem hem. The two photos were taken about three months apart but I could see no degradation at all, although it did get a little dirty and that could suggest a small amount of surface degradation. Nowhere near as impressive, which for me was a surprise. 

Compostable materials are materials that have been certified to break down completely into non-toxic components (water, carbon dioxide, and biomass) that will not harm the environment, given the right conditions. The time it takes for something to break down depends largely on the product itself and the composting conditions.

Some materials can decompose in your home compost (like loose tea leaves and apple cores) but not all compostable materials are suitable for composting at home. Bio-plastics (compostable alternatives to conventional plastic packaging like our tea temples) are fully plant-derived and fully compostable but they require higher levels of heat, water, oxygen and micro-organisms to fully break down than what your home compost can provide. For anything to be legally labelled compostable, it has to have been certified to break down in industrial (council) composting facilities within 180 days.

Thursday 9 January 2020

Harry and Megs run off to join the circus

As we all know by now, Harry and Meghan have run off to join the Global Media Circus. Why have they done it? It is surely no great mystery. Our royal source tells us –

Harry and Meghan feel they will only find themselves if they have more freedom to give all that they know they have to give to the global community. After months of soul-searching they have come to understand how essential it is to be themselves, to talk bollocks to a wider and less discerning audience.

It’s a brave move but I am sure we wish them every success in their quest to be somebody, to share their emptiness with those who understand.

Wednesday 8 January 2020

The Wrong Daily workout

Sometimes political events are baffling. As we know Jeremy Corbyn recently steered the Labour party to its worst general election defeat for decades, but that isn't the baffling bit.

That means the Conservatives will have their biggest majority at Westminster since Margaret Thatcher's 1987 election victory.

Labour, which has lost seats across the North, Midlands and Wales in places which backed Brexit in 2016, is facing its worst defeat since 1935.

One might assume that every single surviving Labour MP would immediately conclude that Something Must Be Done. Seems reasonable enough but these days the party does not seem to be particularly adept at pinpointing what that Something might be.

Yet the best plan for Labour is surely the most obvious - move decisively away from the Corbyn disaster and begin by finding a more pragmatic and more charismatic leader. Even if the search seems futile it must be worth trying. For example it might be a good idea to avoid a boring Corbynite with no charisma who looks like a puzzled assistant deputy librarian struggling with mental arithmetic.

But apparently not.

Rebecca Long Bailey is pitching herself as the "carry on Corbyn" candidate.

It's no big surprise - she has long been a stalwart of Camp Corbyn. She's been ultra loyal to the Labour leader in the shadow cabinet and in the NEC (the party's ruling body).

In her launch article in the Tribune, she makes absolutely clear that she stands by the Corbyn policies that the party put before the electorate.

I do hope Wrong Daily wins. Such fun.

Tuesday 7 January 2020

Full faith in his own powers

How often it happens, that, when a catastrophe occurs, if we inquire into the cause we find it originated through the obstinacy of one with little ability, but having full faith in his own powers.

Victor Hugo - Claude Gueux (1834)

Why does political life attract so many with little ability, but having full faith in his own powers? Plus full faith in her own powers we may as well add. Why so many untalented egoists? It’s an important question we rarely get round to answering in any depth. Perhaps that is because it feels somewhat dismissive like the veiled abuse we refer to as serious political discourse. 

Yet the question remains - why does political life attract so many obvious egoists? We know it attracts them in droves, so why don’t we voters make some practical political use of our knowledge?

Egoism in politics leads to –

A pseudo-moral outlook where a normal moral compass won’t do because other people then have to be treated as moral equals. Can’t have that. The political egoist leans towards an amoral political compass based on the flexibility of political doctrine rather than solid moral mantras such as do as you would be done by and its variants. Normal people feel that do as you would be done by is the fundamental moral deal. They feel a moral obligation to other people in their bones but egoists do not. An egoist’s pseudo-moral outlook leads to –

A pseudo-honest outlook where real life becomes life as the egoist thinks it ought to be. Life as it ought to be is much simpler, much more suited to sound-bites and more satisfying than gritty, problematic reality. In the world as it ought to be, the political egoist has a more central role and reality a lesser, more subservient role. For the political egoist, political doctrines guide reality and honesty simply disappears.

Not that this says anything new, but modern political life allied to the media and celebrity culture seem to have made the problem of political egoism more acute. There is a flippant observation which says - politics is show business for ugly people and when we focus on political egoism we see more than a little truth in it. There is a strong element of dishonest but showy virtue-signalling in political life. A sense that far too many political actors are not only useless at the job they are supposed to do, but actively harmful in how they continue to stroke their own ego amid the failures.

We often see the egoism whenever a political actor is obviously unable or unwilling to grasp simple arguments, ideas and lines of reasoning. When he or she insists on a world as it ought to be instead of the world as it is. Egoism leads to two core problems – a rock-solid inability to see the obvious or a rock-solid unwillingness to see it.

A further problem is caused by political parties because the nature of party leadership can push entire parties towards an essentially egoistic political ethos which in turn attracts more egoistic personalities. The world as it ought to be is so delightfully easy to preach.

We may wonder why political parties tend to be so middle class and so out of touch with the electorate they supposedly serve. We may blame pressure groups, vested interests and the media for the shortcomings of our political parties, but a deeper problem is the people parties attract. They attract, promote and sustain the wrong people who inhabit a world which does not exist. They think it ought to exist and that is enough for them. They also think it should be enough for you.

Political parties frequently seem to mistake egoism for self-confidence, which to some degree it is. Mainstream media like to focus on egoists for good, solid headline generating. Egoists are dramatic, quotable, controversial, amusing and always liable to make headlines as they willingly involve themselves all kinds of controversies and high-profile spats they don’t actually understand.

The glaringly obvious problem is that political egoists don’t care about the electorate, they only care about manipulating the electorate. Once ensconced in a safe seat they don’t even care about that. The only bright spot in all this is that exposure to the internet tends to highlight egoists in a way that newspapers and television never really did because they need them as invaluable headline generators.

Yet who knows? Things may change as mainstream media become less relevant. Maybe we’ll eventually admit that we have a problem with egoists.

Monday 6 January 2020


Scary thought. To identify aliens already here maybe we need - er - identity politics? 

Sunday 5 January 2020

Demoralised MPs

A thought which popped out of the previous post - do some MPs cause other MPs to become at least mildly demoralised? Are some MPs so dire that other MPs only have to see them blundering down a corridor to become disheartened with the whole business? Do they feel a sudden need to hide somewhere and wonder what it is all about?

I'm thinking of MPs such as Anna Soubry, now departed because surely she was somewhat depressing even for the most robust MP. In which case a further thought arises. How many demoralising MPs would it take to demoralise the entire House of Commons? Presumably duds such as David Lammy and Anna Soubry could easily spread the demoralising virus to far more than one MP each. A multiplier like that could be devastating. 

Of course there is a further point. MPs probably don't become demoralised by even the most ghastly fellow MP. They are immune.

Saturday 4 January 2020

Ruled out

Probably the best move as everyone else had ruled him out anyway.
Writing in the Observer last month, Lammy suggested he would make a decision during the Christmas period on whether to run, having assessed who best could counter the “populist, ethnic nationalism” of Johnson.

Lammy said: “The alternative to Boris Johnson’s ethnic nationalism that Labour should offer is a civic nationalism. Rather than basing national pride on biological heritage, skin colour or religion, civic nationalism says that we can be united around shared values and institutions.”

What shared values would those be? Endless attempts to make race the issue even when it isn't?

Wednesday 1 January 2020

Maybe it is time to retire the monarchy

Prince William has announced what was described as “the most prestigious environment prize in history” to encourage new solutions to tackling the climate crisis.

The “Earthshot prize” will be awarded to five people every year over the next decade, the Prince said on Tuesday, and aims to provide at least 50 answers to some of the greatest problems facing the planet by 2030.

They include promoting new ways of addressing issues such as energy, nature and biodiversity, the oceans, air pollution and fresh water.

If this is Prince William's Big Idea he is wasting our time. Pandering to snowflakes isn't a worthwhile constitutional role and by now he should know that. Or at least he should know how to access the kind of advice which would give him a more accurate and nuanced picture. 

On the face of it this is no better than Harry's efforts so maybe it is time to say goodbye to the House of Windsor.