Thursday 31 December 2020

Happy New Year


Happy New Year everyone. Let us hope that 2021 isn't as crappy as 2020.

Wednesday 30 December 2020

Almost too obvious

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine has been approved for use in the UK, with the first doses due to be given on Monday.

A further 20 million people in England will join the toughest tier of Covid restrictions from Thursday.

Approve the cheap vaccine then ramp up the restrictions. Nudge millions of people towards actively wanting the vaccine. Almost too obvious.

Dork of the Year 2020

Not quite as inevitable as some years, but after much anguished deliberation the Dork of the Year (DotY) committee has settled on the overall winner for 2020 - 

Prince Harry.

A fine performance I’m sure everyone will agree. In the end it wasn't a difficult decision. There were no fisticuffs or duels in any of the DotY committee meetings. Poor Harry was a highly regarded man with nothing whatever to prove until he went full woke and showed us how shallow it all was. Truly a Dork’s Dork. 

However, 2020 has been an excellent year for Qualifying Dorks and the committee felt it could not set aside the extraordinary claims of Professor Neil Ferguson . We felt obliged to award Professor Ferguson an honorary 700% of the committee vote in recognition of his sterling work in the field of epidemiological models. 

Many thanks to all those who put forward candidates. As a result, honourable mentions also go to the following, but in reality any of them could have won –

Whitty & Vallance, that well known double act
Matt Hancock
Keir Starmer
Prime Minister Carrie Symonds
Boris Johnson MP *
Joe Biden
The Vicar of Dibley
Prince William
Ed Davey
Piers Morgan
Nicola Sturgeon
Astrophel Sang
James Wong

* Boris Johnson may yet redeem himself via Brexit, but it is worth reminding ourselves that this appears to be he chosen political persona – the man who may yet redeem himself.

Tuesday 29 December 2020

Just sniff it

North Korea is ramping up COVID-19 disease control efforts ahead of the Eighth Party Congress that is scheduled to be held in January, Daily NK has learned...

The heads of inminban, North Korea’s lowest administrative unit, are keeping close tabs on hygiene among the households they watch over. In practice, this means that inminban heads are checking that people are abiding by quarantine rules and sanitizing their houses and hands four times a day.

Locals have reportedly been ordered to make their antiseptic solution from the extract provided by their inminban. One source said that the head of a local inminban told residents under her charge to boil water with half a spoon of salt for two hours if they are running low on antiseptic solution.

Inspectors also urged households to add garlic concentrate to their side dishes every day or even to just “sniff it” to prevent infection. They are spreading other unverified disease control information as well, including the claim that “a nation that eats soybean bean paste and kimchi can get out from under this infectious disease.”

Must work because North Korea claims it does not have a single case of COVID-19. Not allowed of course.

Monday 28 December 2020

Cheap Whine

A tedious aspect of mainstream media is the constant whining. As if a persistent whine is used as an easy substitute for rational argument. Children do this as we know. Lacking the language skills of adults, they may nevertheless try to persuade adults by protracted whining over some slight defect in their world. The aim is to wear down adult resistance.

Over recent decades the media have adopted the whine as a way to wear down rational discourse. The motive may well be a simple one – whining is cheaper and easier to present than considered analysis. Huge numbers of supposedly educated adults now appear to accept the constant media whine as a legitimate tool of public discourse.

It’s an obvious, slightly superficial yet unsettling conclusion this one. A decidedly unhealthy change in the tone of public debate. Changing the whine habit back into something more analytical and constructive seems to be virtually impossible. It almost seems trite to push it as akin to arguing with children, but when we consider how infantile mainstream media can be – then it doesn’t seem trite.

A man pretends to be a woman and we are expected to join in the game or there will be tantrums or worse.

A celebrity pretends to know that the weather will get much worse unless we stop driving cars. Again we are expected to join in the game and again there will be tantrums or worse if we don’t.

An academic pretends to know that white people have some kind of ineradicable racial privilege. Yet again we are expected to join in the game and yet again there will be tantrums or worse if we don’t.

Once a culture sinks into infantile substitutes for adult discourse there appears to be no way back. Apart from a major shock perhaps, a grow up or die kind of shock. I’m convinced that one aspect of Brexit is simply an urge to find some way of growing up culturally before it is too late, some way to stem that constant whine.

Sunday 27 December 2020

Casting long shadows


Mrs H and I on a hill above Bakewell. A lovely day but strewth it was cold. Not so bad when we came down off the hill.

Saturday 26 December 2020

Try reading this one out loud

This week, a woman was strolling in my street, walking in circles and speaking out loud to herself. People were looking at her awkwardly, but she didn’t particularly mind, and continued walking vigorously and speaking.

Yes, that woman was me.

Like many of us, I talk to myself out loud, though I’m a little unusual in that I often do it in public spaces. Whenever I want to figure out an issue, develop an idea or memorise a text, I turn to this odd work routine. While it’s definitely earned me a reputation in my neighbourhood, it’s also improved my thinking and speaking skills immensely. Speaking out loud is not only a medium of communication, but a technology of thinking: it encourages the formation and processing of thoughts.

The piece is worth reading, partly because it raises a question about making speeches. Political speeches for example - they do not appear to encourage the formation and processing of thoughts. Conversation or more ad hoc speeches possibly do, but it does appear to depend on the speaker. 

For example, I didn't speak this blog post out loud. 
Maybe that was a mistake. 
No I don't think so. 
Or do I? 
Hard to tell.

Thursday 24 December 2020

They simply were not worth anyone’s pay anywhere

A longish series of quotes from Hugh Walpole’s novel The Joyful Delaneys. All the main characters might be described as upper middle class with even some fragile links to the aristocracy, but all are unable to earn their keep in a modern meritocracy. A few possessions, inadequate rents or dwindling investments are all they have. There is a somewhat contrived happy ending, but even here we are left with an impression that the future of the world is not theirs.

It left this reader with a feeling that we are going the same way but on a much grander scale. Millions of middle class incompetents with nothing to offer a competitive world unless they find a secure niche under the wing of government patronage. Now their incompetence is valued but the day may come when it is not.

Firstly one the characters, Claude St. John Willoughby, a timid, poor and lonely old gentleman of seventy trying to hang on to the world he once knew in a cheap and shabby Mayfair attic. He goes without food in his forlorn efforts to keep up appearances. 

He drew to the fire the old armchair with the tear in the right arm that always greatly distressed him because he thought that it must distress the chair who had been for so long a good and faithful friend to him.

He said ‘the fire,’ but that was a title by courtesy, for the girl who had lit it an hour and a half ago had used the coal extravagantly, and now, when there were but embers and a piece of vexed-looking charred stick, he did not wish to put on more coal because in that case his allowance for the day would soon be exhausted. So he drew his dressing-gown about him and, smiling at one winking coal as though it were his best friend, stretched out his legs and read his paper…

At length in his blue suit with the dark tie and grey gloves and cane with the ivory head of a dog, and his soft black hat, he was ready to venture…

Although it was half-past three in the afternoon there was still a faint sun-stained fog about. He liked that sun-stained fog almost beyond any other weather that London provided, and it seemed especially kindly and reassuring now, for London had been so very dark of late…

…here is the life of Half Moon Street on any afternoon in the week. ‘On tiptoe for flight,’ you might imitate Mr. Keats by calling it, for it will not remain as it is much longer. There is ghostly scaffolding about the houses and the smoky-dusty-carpet-geranium-smelling-iron-bedstead-basement-toastmaking-damp-washing period is nearly over and ended…

You might fancy that you caught the echo of Sam Weller’s ghostly greeting or the ponderous dogmatism of Samuel Johnson, Mrs. Gamp’s husky endearments, the shrill cry, like a call from the battlements, of King James’ apprentice, the ghostly song of Piers Plowman himself finding this soil still stream-watered. Time marches on, and yet there is no Time here…

The Delaneys were happy, healthy, strong, altogether most excellent people, but not Fred nor Bullock nor Kitty had ever been trained to compete with the present incredibly efficient workers of the world. They simply were not worth anyone’s pay anywhere.

Hugh Walpole - The Joyful Delaneys (1938)

Merry Christmas everyone and many thanks to all who visit this little blog.

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Pantomime season

I’m trying to write a topical pantomime loosely based on Aladdin. Instead of the magic lamp we have a magic vial containing Vax the genie who pops out when the vial is rubbed and releases people from house arrest. He doesn’t do anything else though.

Characters so far are Fergie, Halfcock, Princess Nut Nut, Bozza the clown and one or two others. Much work to be done, but here is an incomplete duet between Fergie and Bozza which may sound familiar.

There's a hole in my model
Dear Bozza, dear Bozza
There's a hole in my model
Dear Bozza, a hole
Well fix it dear Fergie
Dear Fergie, dear Fergie
Well fix it dear Fergie
Dear Fergie, fix it!
With what shall I fix it
Dear Bozza, dear Bozza
With what shall I fix it
Dear Bozza, with what?
With numbers dear Fergie
Dear Fergie, dear Fergie
With numbers dear Fergie
Dear Fergie, with numbers!
But the numbers are too small
Dear Bozza, dear Bozza
But the numbers are too small
Dear Bozza, too small
Well fudge them dear Fergie
Dear Fergie, dear Fergie
Well fudge them dear Fergie
Dear Fergie, fudge them!

A distant future where Brexit talks still go on


Monday 21 December 2020

Petty Rogues

Imagine a meeting where a new procedure is being finalised. Doesn’t matter what it is, but it is a new procedure within a bureaucracy. There are people in the meeting who insist on adding checks and balances which sound reasonable but they will have a number of practical drawbacks. The procedure will inevitably be more cumbersome than it need be.

However, the unmodified procedure would improve efficiency in a number of areas with the potential for a reduction in the workload of those in the meeting. Naturally enough, the procedure does not remain unmodified, efficiencies are not achieved and workloads are not reduced.

We wouldn’t usually describe as rogues the people who engage in this kind of behaviour, yet in an important sense they are taking something which doesn’t belong to them. Money could have been saved, so in effect they are taking money they no longer earn. There are other costs too, depending on what the procedure was. Petty rogues do make a difference in all kinds of ways.

Or the rude and unhelpful receptionist who runs the front desk to suit herself and not the people she supposedly serves. Again she is in a sense taking something which doesn’t belong to her – the time of other people. A minute here, a minute there. She also increases the burdens of daily life instead of taking them away where she can.

The nurse who trundles along at her own pace, chats with others at the desk and forgets things she could easily remember. Again she is in a sense taking something which doesn’t belong to her – payment for work she isn’t doing. Here again she increases the burdens of hospital life instead of taking away the burdens of ill health.

A lavishly paid TV presenter presents news items in such a way that they are clearly misleading and clearly do not accurately represent even the basic outline of what is going on. Yet again he is taking something which doesn’t belong to him – the ability of viewers to make sense of their own world. The time viewers waste in being misinformed could be added to that.

A well paid, well qualified and ambitious scientist presents the science behind topical news items in a politically convenient but misleading way. He does not accurately represent the uncertainties, caveats and risks inherent in what is going on. Yet again he is taking something which doesn’t belong to him – the ability of others to judge risk in their own world. The costs of mitigating exaggerated risks must be added to that.

The fault is partly ours of course. We have a powerful tendency to accept things as they are, adapt and move on because there is just too much of it. Too many petty rogues taking what doesn’t belong to them.

Sunday 20 December 2020

Creative v Destructive

A bad man, no, for she was wise enough in her own generation to know that bad men and women do not exist. Only we are destructive or creative; in greater or lesser degree there is always that distinction. Creative or destructive of course only, for certain, at the moment of contact; but that which we are frequently we become finally.

Hugh Walpole - The Joyful Delaneys (1938)

A quote worth filing away in my view - it can take us away from good and bad into more interesting territory. 

Creative or destructive may not be an exclusive dichotomy but it is a useful way to assess political actors, governments and political or social life generally. It requires a degree of cynicism and does perhaps oversimplify matters, but it often clarifies them too.

For example, in the last UK general election, millions of people voted for a Labour party led by Jeremy Corbyn, a man whose political career has been notably destructive. A man whose political ethos has a history of being unforgivably destructive in terms of human life, freedom and tolerance. It is still worth dwelling on this and what it implies for our chances of staving off further national decline.

Woke culture and woke political agendas are essentially destructive too. Destructive trends aimed at language, free speech, education, personal responsibility, meaningful democracy, human relationships, the arts, science and the developed world generally. There is nothing creative here. 

Following this approach we could assess the creativity or destructiveness of Boris Johnson and his government via three major criteria.
  • Green politics and energy policy – destructive.
  • The coronavirus debacle – destructive. 
  • Brexit – potentially creative. 
Unfortunately the first two appear to establish Boris Johnson and his government as politically destructive. A creative Brexit would not be in keeping with them. Perhaps we’ll soon know the answer, but the two leading indicators are not good. So far Boris has shown himself to be a politically destructive individual running a politically destructive government.

Saturday 19 December 2020

Could be useful

The planned relaxation of Covid rules for Christmas has been scrapped for large parts of south-east England and cut to just Christmas Day for the rest of England, Scotland and Wales.

From midnight, a new tier four will be introduced in areas including London, Kent, Essex and Bedfordshire.

Elsewhere in England, Scotland and Wales, relaxed indoor mixing rules are cut from five days to Christmas Day...

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the changes for England at a Downing Street briefing after scientists said a new coronavirus variant is spreading more rapidly.

If this lockdown stops the spread of the new coronavirus variant we'll know lockdowns might work. Inconclusive of course, but it would be evidence. 

If the new variant continues to spread we'll have good evidence that even draconian lockdowns don't work so we can forget all about them. We know that anyway but it would be nice to have it confirmed. Could be useful. 
But probably not.

The modern world in two sentences

Now I think there are two unforgivable things (there are probably many more, but here at least are two!). One is to think that you are unique when you are unhappy, the other is to burden other people with that same unhappiness.

Hugh Walpole - John Cornelius (1937)

Another aspect is fake unhappiness which has always existed but we now seem to be drowning in it, especially political versions. A related type of emotional mendacity is pretending to be offended - we certainly know what a burden that one is.

Friday 18 December 2020

When relevance becomes confirmation

'That is so. But your question, Anstey, exhibits the difference between the legal and the scientific outlook. The lawyer's investigations tend to proceed along the line of information wanted: the scientists tend to proceed along the line of information available. The business of the man of science is impartially to acquire all the knowledge that is obtainable; the lawyer tends to concern himself only with that which is material to the issue.'

R. Austin Freeman - The Cat's Eye (1923)

It’s an interesting quote this – yet another angle on what we already know. The legal approach of eliciting the line of information wanted is one reason why both bureaucracies and legislatures are so poor when it comes to gathering objectively relevant information. That which is material to the issue depends on whatever the issue is presumed to be. Everything else is screened out.

Today we might call it confirmation bias but we tend to apply it to individuals rather than government. Somehow we expect governments to be pragmatic behind the façade. Yet this is where the real damage is done – behind the government façade where relevance becomes confirmation and disconfirmation is irrelevant.

Objectivity is lost and some degree of policy failure becomes inevitable. Yet failure doesn’t always matter to those responsible because still the legal approach is followed – defend or deny failure by sticking to the line of information wanted.

Carstairs - how do we wriggle out of this one?
The usual approach Minister – stick to the official line.

There is no way round this endemic weakness as legislatures are rarely designed to attract people engaged in making something work in the real world. This requires pragmatic experience rarely found in those who embark on a political or bureaucratic career early in life. What we get from these people is the line of information wanted and it doesn’t work. The real world cannot be made to work merely by throwing words at it, however well crafted.

Even where objectivity is supposedly valued there are familiar problems. Science, engineering and construction don’t mix well with government bureaucracy for example. The legalistic approach subverts technical relevance and attracts ambition rather than competence. Again and again the line of information wanted supplants the line of information available wherever the greasy pole and prestige are career drivers. Policy-driven evidence usurps evidence-driven policy.

There is a similar problem with voters who lack experience of the real world. This level of experience is not acquired by the age of eighteen. The voting age is clearly far too low. The minimum age for MPs is clearly far too low. Take Jeremy Corbyn for example. He hasn’t mastered the role at 71.

“Hands Off Our Stunt” Says Stunt Rag


The Tory minister Jacob Rees-Mogg has come under fire for accusing Unicef of a “political stunt” after the UN agency stepped in to help feed deprived children in the UK during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Commons leader hit out at Unicef, which is responsible for providing humanitarian aid to children worldwide, after it launched its first domestic emergency response in the UK in its more than 70-year history.

As we know, a cornerstone of woke politics favoured by the Grauniad has to be the art of the stunt. It could almost be described as a three-legged stool. Mendacity, virtue-signalling and stunts being the three legs. Kick one away and where are they?

Thursday 17 December 2020

Green Jobs Taskforce


How about a Green Jobs Moot Hall?

Green Jobs Taskforce

To ensure we have the skilled workforce to deliver net zero and our Ten Point Plan, we have launched the Green Jobs Taskforce, working in partnership with business, skills providers and unions, to help us develop plans for new long-term good quality, green jobs by 2030 and advise what support is needed for people in transitioning industries.

Does being a member of the Green Jobs Taskforce count as a green job? If so, why not create thousands of them to speed things up? 

Tuesday 15 December 2020


Imagine a fantasy world in the not too distant future which is divided into three social classes – Upper, Lower and Tech.

To this add a second fantasy where everything is recycled.
A third fantasy is where all energy is sustainable. 
Fourth fantasy - everything is made, grown and distributed by AI and robots.
Adjust the whole fantasy to make almost all Lowers disappear.

This could give us a world of, say about half a billion people or less. It would consist of Uppers with Techs to keep things going and a few Lowers for a certain amount of inevitable drudgery.

This is the Malthus-inspired fantasy world which seems to attract and motivate our Uppers and their useful idiots. It’s an ideal, half-buried in evasions and knowing hints laced with a dash of dark humour, but real enough as an ideal. They probably think it is, or could be, or ought to be technically feasible. More than an ideal perhaps.

As a political ideal, it certainly seems to be in the driving seat of global political trends in a number of key areas. There is not the slightest sign of it being rethought either.

Outrageously cynical, grossly over-simplified and far too conspiratorial perhaps, but in broad terms this is the global political ideal we have glimpsed over and over again for decades. It isn’t particularly well hidden. Malthus still rules those dark, dark places where comfortable people wonder what is to be done about the teeming billions.

Monday 14 December 2020

An odd way of putting it?

The Duchess of Sussex has made her first appearance since revealing she suffered a miscarriage, praising the "power of the human spirit" shown during the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month, in an article for The New York Times, Meghan - who shares 19-month-old Archie with husband Prince Harry - discussed her "almost unbearable grief" after losing her second baby in July.

So Meghan shares Archie with Harry. Is it me or is this an odd way of putting it?

Pointing out grass

What is a blogger supposed to do as we drown in official stupidity? Pointing out official stupidity is like pointing out grass. "Look - isn't that grass over there?" 

Oh well – adapt and survive I suppose. I’ll have a go at rooting out something which has been done well…

Hadrian’s Wall was impressive…

Sunday 13 December 2020

"I'm no eco-freak" claims eco-freak at eco-freak convention



I almost admire the man's gall, his brazen chutzpah and the breezy way he ingratiates himself with such a slimy crew. Almost admire.

Merely one of the audience

Gullibility is a rum thing isn’t it? It has parallels with the suspension of disbelief we are so familiar with when we enjoy various types of fiction. Suspended disbelief which should have been turned on again but never was. As if suspended disbelief seeps out of fictional domains into real life and jams on the gullibility switch forever.

Yet we are familiar with the need to suspend disbelief while enjoying fiction in novels, theatre, movies or television. We understand what it is. We know Oliver Twist didn’t exist, Jeeves was too brainy to be real, Superman violates the laws of physics and we don’t learn history via Hollywood. Or anything else useful really.

Knowing all this while suspending that knowledge is what we do. We are accustomed to our roles as readers of fiction, or members of a TV or movie audience. TV and movie audiences are is the big ones of course, the ones which exploded from nothing over the past century.

Modern movies are also pushing the boundaries of reality as they have never been pushed before. As indeed they are pushing their audiences as they have never been pushed before. Maybe it is possible for the suspension of disbelief to become too big a part of daily life. Perhaps a seat in the audience has become too easy and familiar. Too much mental popcorn clogs the critical faculties. 

We are certainly asked to absorb large quantities of some bizarrely impossible fiction via movies and TV. Much of it relies on what we may as well describe as magic. The powers of Superman are essentially magical. He violates physical laws with impunity and relies on magic to do it. As does Dr Who. As do the Teletubbies. It begins early.

Taking this a little further, maybe suspension of disbelief and the role of audience member have become core parts of our roles in life. More so for some than others, but clapping the NHS was both a suspension of disbelief and a seat in the audience of a medical drama. Clappers clearly accepted their role as an audience.

The idea sits well with celebrity culture and its almost universal invitation to suspend disbelief when it comes to fashionable causes. Yet huge numbers of people are not taken in by it and are not particularly gullible. Unfortunately huge numbers of people do wish to be part of the audience, are determined to be part of it. As for the real world, that's outside where it belongs. 

Saturday 12 December 2020

Tell it as it is


A video on issues around the Emily Jones horror story, one I originally watched before moving on to other things, but perhaps worth revisiting. 

From about 1:35 - "I have no idea at all why we are importing mad Albanians." 

Indeed, and I have no idea at all why this question isn't asked more loudly and asked again and again until something is done. Something more substantive than "lessons learned" of course. As usual I'm not holding my breath. 

Friday 11 December 2020

A woke aristocracy

It is easy enough to see woke political trends as a foretaste of a future aristocracy. There are a number of aspects supporting the idea such as the decline of democracy, the rise of woke bureaucracies and woke business sentiment, woke policing, the steadily increasing reach of woke censorship and woke celebrity culture. Voters and the right to vote are slowly becoming irrelevant.

Yet there is something else going on too. Gigantic corporations with hundreds of millions running into billions of customers. Tech giants with billions of users – they need those customers and users in those numbers. They need vast numbers of people to earn, spend, use their systems, buy their products and to continue earning and spending to do just that.

It isn’t easy to see how this chimes with a woke aristocracy which does not value those same people in anything like the same way. It’s an extremely basic conflict of interests.

Thursday 10 December 2020

Residents only

It has become clear enough and has been said before, but a core aim of woke politics is to bury the idea of national citizenship. In woke world we are residents not citizens.

Here in the UK, it doesn’t matter if your genetic inheritance shows your ancestry going back over a thousand years. In woke world you are merely a UK resident with no more moral right to be here than the next boatload of migrants.

It doesn’t matter if you have paid UK taxes for fifty years, if your parents paid UK taxes for fifty years, if your grandparents paid UK taxes for fifty years. In woke world you are merely a UK resident with no more moral right to be here than migrants.

Not that this is admitted officially, but this is a consequence of woke politics. For all the hot air, the issue seems to have been an underlying factor in Donald Trump’s popularity. Many American citizens wish to remain as American citizens, including those with ancestors who didn’t actually come over on the Mayflower. They expect to be more than mere residents. Here in the UK, that ship has sailed. 

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Dork of the Year candidates

As you may know, previous winners of the Dork of the Year (DotY) award have been

2019 Jo Swinson
2018 The British Electorate
2017 Michael Heseltine
2016 Mark Carney
2015 Ed Miliband
2015 Naomi Klein

All worthy winners, but what about 2020? Unfortunately a certain amount of turmoil has hit the Dork of the Year committee this year. An earlier suggestion that it should be renamed Harry of the Year has been shelved because a number of major Qualifying Dorks have emerged since Prince Harry tried to run off with the award.

Although we have a preliminary list of Qualifying Dorks from which to choose, in these egalitarian times the DotY committee is inclined to treat even high level dorkishness as a team game. In which case the winner is merely appointed as captain of Team Dork. Below we have a preliminary list which may well grow substantially over the next few weeks. 

Prince Harry
Matt Hancock
Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Carrie Symonds
Joe Biden
The Vicar of Dibley
Keir Starmer
Prince William
Ed Davey if he's still around

Tuesday 8 December 2020

The same old problem



Could be a major step forward of course, but the non-medical problem is the same as it always is when political reputations are at stake. The question is so obvious as to be embarrassing, but how likely is it that adverse reactions will be openly admitted in a timely manner?

One a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is a completely open admission of adverse reactions, I'd put it round about 2. I'm an optimist. 

Monday 7 December 2020

Let's all join in



Here’s a rock solid prediction. By the year 2080, the whole world will have forgotten how to fry food. As diet fads become more and more extreme and the cult of the healthy diet goes global, the art of frying food will be completely forgotten. Frying pans will be obsolete because nobody knows what they are for.

If I’m wrong by 2080 I’ll own up and admit it, but here’s another rock solid prediction. By the year 2080, the whole world will have forgotten about sexual intercourse as we understand it. Gender politics will have become so extreme and convoluted... 

…crikey this is easy. Maybe I should be a journalist.

Sunday 6 December 2020

To boo, or not to boo, that is the question

As we would expect, there has been priggish media disapproval of the Millwall football booing. Easy stuff to write I suppose.

George Eustice, the Environment Secretary, has declined to condemn booing Millwall fans as players took the knee in opposition to racism.

Appearing on Sky's Sophy Ridge programme, he was asked for his opinion on Saturday's Millwall match, which saw some of the 2,000 fans booing the players' gesture...

Mr Eustice, when shown the Millwall clip during the Sophy Ridge on Sunday programme, said: “There has been problems obviously with racism in football in the past...

“My personal view is that Black Lives Matter – capital B, L and M – is actually a political movement that is different to what most of us believe in, which is standing up for racial equality.

To my mind Mr Eustice is right and players taking the knee are effectively making a political salute. Perhaps this should be pointed out more often, but the media aren't likely to do it. Craven is their watchword.

Saturday 5 December 2020

How will the Brexit Circus finale go?



I wonder what they have planned for the grand Brexit Circus finale? Boris parachutes into Brussels on New Year's Eve trailing coloured smoke just as Big Ben begins to strike? I'm no circus expert, but having the clowns on all the time hasn't really worked.

Measured, moderate and damning


Another video from Ivor Cummins - the coronavirus debacle from an Irish perspective via Mr. Martin Feeley, a vascular surgeon. As with Neil Oliver - a measured and moderate viewpoint which is also damning.

Friday 4 December 2020

Beware fakes


The shadow of Old Nick

I’ve used this Dickens quote before. It is one of my favourites as it so neatly encapsulates an endemic and ineradicable feature of the law –

The one great principle of the English law is, to make business for itself. There is no other principle distinctly, certainly, and consistently maintained through all its narrow turnings. Viewed by this light it becomes a coherent scheme, and not the monstrous maze the laity are apt to think it. Let them but once clearly perceive that its grand principle is to make business for itself at their expense, and surely they will cease to grumble.

Charles Dickens - Bleak House (1852-53)

Even better - the quote may be adapted to generate a number of grand principles simply by substituting something equally applicable in place of the words English law. For example –

The one great principle of the establishment is, to make business for itself. There is no other principle distinctly, certainly, and consistently maintained through all its narrow turnings. Viewed by this light it becomes a coherent scheme, and not the monstrous maze the laity are apt to think it. Let them but once clearly perceive that its grand principle is to make business for itself at their expense, and surely they will cease to grumble.

Another example illustrate how virtue may replace business, take may replace make and still it works –

The one great principle of the establishment is, to take virtue for itself. There is no other principle distinctly, certainly, and consistently maintained through all its narrow turnings. Viewed by this light it becomes a coherent scheme, and not the monstrous maze the laity are apt to think it. Let them but once clearly perceive that its grand principle is to take virtue for itself at their expense, and surely they will cease to grumble.

To my mind Dickens has given us a fascinating insight where, in a range of guises, this is what the establishment always has done at our expense. Almost as if in the basic shape of the thing we see the malign shadow of Old Nick himself.

Thursday 3 December 2020

Just round the corner

The point really is that I was always certain that there was a miraculous state of being just round the corner if I could only find it.

Hugh Walpole - John Cornelius (1937)

Government intervention is always an easy sell.
Government non-intervention is never an easy sell.
Many know it.
Too many don’t.

Hence the coronavirus debacle - government intervention was an easy sell. Still surprising to many perhaps as we gave away to much, but clearly it was an easy sell. 

1918. Dr. Wise on Influenza


Local Government Board influenza public information film from 1918.

Wednesday 2 December 2020

Incompetence - an egalitarian failure

They talk about ‘Above the Battle,’ but I think that it is really ‘Below the Battle’ — that just below all this noise and confusion and hatred the real life is continuous, always there waiting for us to find it.

Hugh Walpole - John Cornelius (1937)

We have always known how ruling elites cannot avoid a certain level of incompetence even though they make strenuous efforts to hide it. From bungled military adventures to incompetent industrial interference to inept social policies to fashionable environmental fantasies to imposing useless bureaucratic burdens, we have known about elite incompetence forever.

Even so, the whole business of rulers and ruled in a democratic society does require some kind of assumption that rulers must be broadly competent to rule. Why else are they there?

The corollary assumption is that those who are ruled are not competent to rule themselves. The trouble with this latter assumption is that within a just framework of laws and law enforcement, most of us are quite competent enough to rule ourselves. It’s what we do.

An example of this is going on now in what we hope but cannot assume are the latter stages of the coronavirus debacle. In spite of the most ludicrous elite incompetence, life still goes on ‘Below the Battle’. Which battle is that? Clearly there is a coronavirus policy battle between the incompetent intransigence of the ruling elite and competent critics.

Incompetence also seems to highlight a remarkable failure of the egalitarian ethos. Elites appear to feel that they are entitled to much more incompetence than anyone else. Their position also allows them to be incompetent on a grander scale, multiplying the inequality. Sometimes they manage to hide their wealth of incompetence, but not completely because they are not even competent enough to do that.

The outcome is obvious enough. Eventually elites try to engineer situations where it doesn’t matter if they are competent or not – their incompetence entitlement is unlimited. This is what they may be doing now with the coronavirus debacle. They may be drawing it out as long as possible to wear down criticism, hoping that a sense of relief when it is all over may damp down the inevitable verdict of hindsight.

Unfortunately this appears to be the most favourable interpretation but not necessarily the most likely. There are others where the elites intend to make themselves permanently immune from effective criticism. The internet is shining a harsh light on their incompetence and as official coronavirus policies have been so extraordinarily incompetent, permanent repression is not an unlikely outcome.

Tuesday 1 December 2020

Can’t add much to that



Most of them are mere politicians, charlatans, and intriguers, third-class lawyers and doctors, literary failures, semi-educated stump-speakers, bar-room, club, or clique orators, and vulgar climbers. Left behind in private careers, in which one is closely watched and accepted for what he is worth, they launch out on a public career because, in this business, popular suffrage at once ignorant, indifferent, is a badly informed, prejudiced and passionate judge and prefers a moralist of easy conscience, instead of demanding unsullied integrity and proven competency. Nothing more is demanded from candidates but witty speech-making, assertiveness and showing off in public, gross flattery, a display of enthusiasm and promises to place the power about to be conferred on them by the people in the hands of those who will serve its antipathies and prejudices. 

Hippolyte Taine - The Modern Regime (1890-93)