Thursday 30 September 2021

Can There Be Any Doubt?

Francis Menton has an interesting piece on the indictment of lawyer Michael Sussman on September 16th. Well worth reading.

Can There Be Any Doubt That Hillary Was Behind The Trump/Russia Collusion Hoax?

I feel that I should comment on the indictment of lawyer Michael Sussman by Special Counsel John Durham while the issue is still current. Very likely you have already read extensively about Durham’s indictment of Sussman, which came down on September 16. Sussman was one of the lawyers, although not the head lawyer, at the firm of Perkins Coie, who worked for the DNC and the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign in 2016.

This indictment is another instance by which we are learning step by step how the Democratic powers and their press side-kicks, through strict control of a “narrative,” think that they can get a critical mass of the American people to believe literally anything, no matter how preposterous. And to a remarkable extent, they are right.

Wednesday 29 September 2021

Bad Person Politics

Are you a bad person? Politically you may well be, as I am.

Nobody can possibly have missed the climate change debate which has been going on in a one-sided manner for decades now. The most interesting aspect has been a very common political strategy lying behind the official climate narrative.

It’s a very old political strategy we see all the time. People who do not accept the official climate narrative are presented as bad people. Frequently this is done overtly by the use of such terms as ‘climate denier’ and sometimes covertly via insinuation, but this is the real core of the climate debate.

Most of us have no wish to be a bad person, but increasingly this means not being on the minority side of certain political debates which mass media have made very one-sided. The effect is probably much stronger than not wishing to be a bad person. More a case of absolute refusal to be a bad person at any cost. It applies to organisations and institutions too.

Naturally enough, political debates are defined in this way because it works. As a direct result, many people are induced to go along with absurd, damaging or even malign political projects. The desire to avoid being a bad person overrides the critical faculties and even self-interest.

In particular, middle class people appear to be powerfully influenced by bad person politics. So much so that conventionally intelligent, well-educated people give their assent to narratives which are clearly dubious, false or even meaningless. The official climate narrative is a blend of all three.

The Donald Trump presidency was an example, where openly supporting an obviously capable president made one a bad person politically. So much so that it did not matter to millions of people how capable he was nor what he achieved. Many people saw Trump as capable but many were quite unable to see it. To see it would be bad.

An even more bizarre situation has emerged with the Joe Biden presidency where openly supporting an embarrassingly incapable president does not make one a bad person. The whole world seems to know how incapable Biden is, but it does not matter. It appears that most people refuse to be classified politically as a bad person, even at the expense of their own integrity.

We saw the bad person strategy during the coronavirus debacle. Bad people examined the data and questioned containment policies instead of accepting the official view backed by officially selected experts. As a result, policies were not as rational as they should have been. In the UK, bad people did not clap the NHS.

Of course there are other shadings to bad person politics. A bad person in this sense may be viewed as stubbornly misguided, incompetent, feckless, obtuse, or even evil, but at the very least a bad person is slightly beyond the pale. There are many words used to classify bad people so conformists need not argue with them if it is too painful – which it often seems to be.

Must be climate change - tax it

NASA scientists baffled by discovery Jupiter's Great Red Spot is accelerating

Curiously, the speeding up has only occurred within the so-called high-speed ring of the storm - the winds near the centre are slowing down, according to observations from the Hubble Space Telescope.

The Great Red Spot, a storm on Jupiter which has been observed raging for more than 150 years, is spinning faster and faster, baffling scientists.

Tuesday 28 September 2021

Topped Up

Topped up the 4x4 with diesel this afternoon. Wasn't too bad, didn't take too long and there were no fights. Not as reported in the news at all. I'm not a key worker though - not even a worker. Yet for some reason I don't feel guilty. Maybe I should work on that.

Nauseating hypocrites

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle seen as 'nauseating hypocrites' at Global Citizen Live

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle may have thrilled the crowd during their speech at the Global Citizen Live concert in New York over the weekend. But not royal biographer Angela Levin, who said their appearance appalled her.

The author of "Harry: A Biography of a Prince" criticised the couple's appearance on stage and likened them to cheerleaders. Especially the Duke of Sussex, who was seen cupping a hand to his ear as he waited to hear the cheers from the crowd...

She said the 37-year old acted "like a cheerleader, or master of ceremonies, whipping up the crowd with shouts of 'Come on, we want this! and the crowd yelling 'Yeah!' and Meghan chipping in with, 'It's got to happen.'"

Levin pointed out that the couple can hardly be considered experts about COVID-19 or climate change. She called them "vacuous and superficial" and attacked them for their use of private jets despite their lectures on sustainability.

Yes they are hypocrites, but it is also a situation requiring more than condemnation. Presumably a cheering audience doesn't see them as the charlatans they so clearly are. 

Individual audience members may be aware of the hypocrisy but possibly they don't care because their message is up there on stage and to them that matters more than hypocrisy. Like football supporters they cheer their side even if the star player is a hypocritical creep.  

Monday 27 September 2021


It’s my birthday today. Not an excuse for wild celebration here in Derbyshire, but it does raise the question of treats. How do we treat ourselves and each other in such a prosperous age? Leaving aside government attempts to make us far less prosperous, what would a special treat look like?

Special meals maybe, but if food is reasonably good quality and well cooked, then the rest lies mostly in the imagination. It’s steak and Stilton pie from a good local farm shop for us this evening. Maybe a superb chef could conjure up something better, but not enough to see our pie as a lesser treat. An evening out at a top class restaurant would perhaps be more of a treat, but much of that is flimflam.

Special holidays, cruises, exotic destinations are fine but when they are not out of reach or something similar is not out of reach then most holidays cannot be the special treat that they were to previous generations.

A trip around the planets of the solar system would be a treat, but that’s not going to happen. Maybe the day will come when even that isn’t a treat because virtual reality will have virtually taken us there years ago.

Come to think of it, the collapse of the Labour party would be a treat. Followed by the Conservatives. Maybe two treats in a row is expecting too much though.

The Loons Are Back


Fact Spat

Labour conference: Not right to say only women have a cervix, says Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer says it is "not right" to say only women have a cervix amid a row involving one of his MPs.

Rosie Duffield came under fire after supporting online criticism of a tweet, which referred to "individuals with a cervix" to be inclusive of trans men.

The incident was called transphobic by trans rights supporters - but Labour MP Ms Duffield rejects the claim.

Asked about the row, Sir Keir said claiming only women have cervixes was "something that shouldn't be said".

So that's free speech up the spout. It's a rock and a hard place position for Sir Keir, because he knows that nobody actually misunderstands the situation. In which case there are two questions. What is his political ambition and is it a worthy ambition for a principled man? 

The answer to the second question is 'no'. 

Sunday 26 September 2021

Scum Spat

Labour conference: Angela Rayner stands by calling Boris Johnson 'scum'

Angela Rayner says she will apologise for calling Boris Johnson "scum" when he retracts past comments she described as homophobic, racist and misogynistic.

Labour's deputy leader was reported to have called Tory ministers "a bunch of scum" at a Labour conference event.

She should look up the word 'unedifying'. I don't know how we descended to this level, but Angela Rayner always manages to create the impression that she has further depths to plumb. Quite an achievement that.

Saturday 25 September 2021

51 Calls

A few days ago Mrs H tried to contact our GP surgery for advice on an ankle sprain which is taking a long time to heal. The usual procedure is to phone the surgery at 8:00am when the lines open. When the engaged tone sounds just call again - it’s the only way to get anywhere. After 51 calls Mrs H gave up but eventually managed to get in touch with the physiotherapy service in the afternoon.

In future, if we need to contact the GP we’ll use two phones because our experience and the experience of other people suggests we need to make at least 100 calls between us to have any chance of getting through. Envy of the world you know.

Friday 24 September 2021

Pre-Covid was a long time ago

The 1930s is barely more than a lifetime ago yet novels and films of the period seem increasingly antiquated. Every now and then a phrase, assumption or an aspect of social life crops up and the whole period becomes another world.

To my mind the most elusive difference between then and now is the importance of the senses. It is something novelists stress of course, so not to be taken as a reliable guide. Yet the sensory impression created by daily life were different in the past because daily life was different in myriad ways.

To some elusive degree, the world of the 1930s was still interpreted through the senses in a way that we are losing. Wind, rain, snow and frost, a flickering fire, smoking chimney, fogs, mists, damp woollens, tobacco and the aroma of cooking. Wood and leather, horses and carts, haystacks and country lanes. Street sounds, silent Sundays, church bells, slums, factories, shabby clothes, silk hats and the local hunt.

We have not lost any of it completely, but the emphasis has changed, the social meaning, the interwoven threads of daily life have changed. The visceral world of the senses seems to have subsided. Somehow, that older world has been overlaid with a less sensory world dominated by behaviour. It always was this way to some degree, but our world is now brighter and louder while the world of sensory impressions has been tuned down, dimmed, left outside.

Almost as if there is a covert intention, to create an Alice in Wonderland world where the reality of the senses is less important than the artificial drama of mass media, mass culture and the constant beating of political drums.

The world of the 1930s is a reminder of how subtle change can be, but not merely social and economic change. This in turn reminds us of a more immediate assault on our wider sense of reality. Pre-Covid was a long time ago.

Thursday 23 September 2021

Really Boris - you don't want the world to grow up

‘On the road to extinction’: PM says world needs to ‘grow up’ over the climate crisis or the planet will become ‘uninhabitable’

  • Boris Johnson will warn world leaders they need to 'grow up' on climate change
  • At the UN in New York, prime minister will warn the world will be 'uninhabitable'
  • Comes after President Biden yesterday said he was creating £73bln climate fund

Whatever one thinks of Boris, it has to be admitted that he is both an accomplished showman and talented liar. Ruthless too - it's a powerful combination. But his talents are absolutely incompatible with grown up politics - whatever that may be. We have yet to find out.

Wednesday 22 September 2021

Net Zero Illustrated


Old Jabber

‘By Jove! an excellent idea. Here's one of the free and independent electors of G--writes to ask what my views are on the subject of compulsory vaccination. Do pen a reply and I'll sign it.’

‘But what am I to say?’

‘The ghost of Jenner alone knows…’

George Gissing - A Life's Morning (1888)

The first speaker is a wealthy young Conservative MP. A principled man, but willing enough to admit that he has no genuine interest in people below him in the social hierarchy.

Tuesday 21 September 2021

Boris forgot coercion and informers

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson dismissed the idea of a sweeping vaccine mandate like the one President Joe Biden announced two weeks ago, adding that Britons are 'great lovers of liberty' in an interview on Tuesday.

Johnson suggested Biden might be better off using 'sweet reason and persuasion' to convince people to get a COVID shot.

Speaking to NBC's Savannah Guthrie in New York City amid the United Nations General Assembly, the UK leader was asked whether Biden's unprecedented order would narrow the gap between Americans' vaccination rate and that of Brits'.

Where do we start? The dishonesty is so brazen, it isn't easy to go beyond a shake of the head but unfortunately he seems to understand the electorate. There was no serious opposition to his coronavirus police state.

Monday 20 September 2021

Deaf to moral discords

For Christianity, in its essence and origin, was an urgent summons to repent and come out of just such a worldly life as modern liberty and progress hold up as an ideal to the nations. In the Roman empire, as in the promised land of liberalism, each man sought to get and to enjoy as much as he could, and supported a ponderous government neutral as to religion and moral traditions, but favourable to the accumulation of riches; so that a certain enlightenment and cosmopolitanism were made possible, and private passions and tastes could be gratified without encountering persecution or public obloquy, though not without a general relaxation of society and a vulgarising of arts and manners.

That something so self-indulgent and worldly as this ideal of liberalism could have been thought compatible with Christianity, the first initiation into which, in baptism, involves renouncing the world, might well astonish us, had we not been rendered deaf to moral discords by the very din which from our birth they have been making in our ears.

George Santayana - Winds Of Doctrine Studies in Contemporary Opinion (1913)

We certainly have a ponderous government neutral as to religion and moral traditions - and the din is a good deal louder now. The tone is changing too. There are shrill sounds of outrage that things are not going well for the world of indoor fantasy.

Presumably they all cycled to New York

Rich countries must do more to help developing nations cut carbon emissions, Boris Johnson will tell other world leaders at a high-level gathering in New York.

The prime minister will be hosting the meeting on climate change with UN secretary general Antonio Guterres.

It is understood Mr Johnson is likely to focus on coal, cash support, cars and trees, which soak up carbon dioxide.

The prime minister is also expected to discuss global warming with US President Joe Biden in a meeting at the White House in Washington.

Presumably they all cycled to New York...
But of course they didn't, they were wafted there in luxury and security via the essential agency of fossil fuels. Oh well - it would be interesting to listen to Boris having a discussion on global warming with Joe Biden. Interesting in a ghoulish sense.

Sunday 19 September 2021

Two Deliveries

1. Placed an Amazon order yesterday for delivery today. This morning our account showed us the times for our delivery slot. The package has just arrived within the delivery slot. The delivery van drove off and seconds later an Amazon email arrived telling us the parcel has been delivered.

2. Placed a medical supplies order yesterday for delivery who knows when because the GP surgery is involved. Off the shelf items but delivery likely to be about three weeks as usual. That's my estimate - they don't have one. There will be no time slot and no email telling me the package has been delivered.

Saturday 18 September 2021

The real problem - why is she there?

Living, and having ever lived, amid idealisms, she was too subjective in her interpretation of phenomena so new to her. 

George Gissing - A Life's Morning (1888)

In Angela Rayner's case that would be phenomena provided by reality such as human reproductive biology. That's certainly one she should have grasped, but apparently not -

Angela Rayner has “doubled down on her support for trans people”, according to the perennial drongos over at journalism parody PinkNews. This afternoon, Ms Rayner — presumably taking a break from her day job as an MP to work within Labour’s burgeoning side-hustle as “Demolition Experts (Red Walls Only)” — retweeted the article with the inane addendum:

Solidarity with my trans brothers and sisters today and always. The Labour Party is absolutely committed to advancing trans rights and updating the GRA to introduce self-declaration for trans people and upholding the Equality Act. Your fight is our fight.


To criticise people such as Angela Rayner may be necessary, but the real problem is why she is in a position to warrant it. Should she really have the opportunity to be preposterous in a position where it matters?

Card Tables

Yesterday evening and this morning we’ve been amusing Granddaughter by playing a game called Ding. It’s a card game where you aim to make tricks and move pieces around a simple circular board depending on how many tricks you made. A good game to play with youngsters because they pick it up easily and each game doesn’t last too long.

Because of increasingly creaky knees we decided we'd had enough of playing the game on the rug. Instead we rigged up a low card table from a stool and a couple of chairs. It worked well enough, saved the knees and reminded me of my parents’ card table from the days when families still amused themselves without the aid of electronics. Their card table was a simple folding affair with wooden legs and a green baize top. At one time such tables must have been made in vast quantities.

In those days, Mum and Dad would sometimes have a contract bridge evening with a couple of friends or relatives. Those evenings I still recall quite vividly because of the tobacco smoke and hot dogs served afterwards. We were used to the tobacco smoke and hot dogs were a real treat.

There are still plenty of old card tables to be found on the antiques market, some Victorian examples being both impressive to look at and perfectly usable today. Not that we’d ever buy one. The stool will have to do.

Friday 17 September 2021

Stuck in a time loop

A PARANORMAL investigator believes a photo taken at a former Working Men's club in York is "100 per cent" evidence of spirits.

The picture was published on Rightmove by Ashtons Estate Agents as part of the listing for the former New York Club & Institute on Blossom Street.

It appears to show two figures - wearing a black jacket, jeans which are slightly frayed at the leg and black shoes - looking out of a now boarded up window.

We asked Alex Brown - the man behind The British Paranormal Society, followed over 40,000 people on Facebook - what he thought about the strange image...

The York-based expert believes the photo has captured people who are stuck in a time loop or people whose energy is trapped in the building.

Could be worse I suppose - stuck in a time loop. Stay with a known shambles rather than having to adapt to an endless series of new ones. Yes - apart from being dead there are advantages.

Thursday 16 September 2021



What the surrounding lackeys thought of this singular episode I will not guess. Indeed, the longer I live, the less I care to meditate upon what lackeys do think. But that the adventures of their employers provide them with ample food for thought there can be no doubt.

Arnold Bennett - The Ghost (1907)

Seems too dismissive, but the coronavirus debacle has hammered home the message that these people are establishment lackeys. There is little indication that they aspire to be anything else. It is not even clear that there is what we might call the political space to be anything else.


While weaving the car through endless roadworks on the school run this morning, Mrs H noticed a truck claiming to offer ‘Logistics Solutions’ or some similar marketing claim. It seems obvious enough that businesses would claim to offer solutions to something or other, but the word 'Solutions' seemed superfluous. A logistics outfit wouldn’t offer ‘Logistics Problems’. 

Lots of businesses seem to offer 'solutions', but it occurred to me that I’ve never seen a claim to offer ‘Political Integrity Solutions’. Maybe there's no market for it. Another thought could be the division of public and private sectors via their approach to solutions.

Private. Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions.

Public. Don’t bring me solutions, bring me problems.

Wednesday 15 September 2021

L'Inconnue de la Seine


A few weeks ago we saw one of these putative death masks for sale in an antiques centre.

L'Inconnue de la Seine (English: The Unknown Woman of the Seine) was an unidentified young woman whose putative death mask became a popular fixture on the walls of artists' homes after 1900. Her visage inspired numerous literary works. In the United States, the mask is also known as La Belle Italienne.

The one we saw wasn't expensive but it's a morbid item to stick on the wall. A talking point perhaps, but still morbid. 

Tuesday 14 September 2021

Snakes in the Grass

Edward Spalton has written an excellent CIB piece about global bureaucratic threats to nation state democracy. As we know, the threat is far wider than the EU.

CIB chairman Edward Spalton notes that the EU is not the only threat to nation state democracy. Other international organisations such as the United Nations and the World Health Organisation have powerful bureaucracies with officials who aspire to supranational technocratic rule. We must continue to be alert to threats to our independence in all their guises...

The World Health Organisation (WHO), founded in 1948, is in the news today for its role in attempting to manage the COVID pandemic at a transnational level. But had wider ambitions from the start. Its first Director General, Dr Brock Chisholm, certainly aspired to be more than family doctor to the world. Above all he wanted power, writing:

To achieve world government it is necessary to remove from the minds of men their individualism, loyalty to family, tradition, national patriotism and religious dogmas. The reinterpretation and eventually eradication of the concept of right and wrong which has been the basis of child training, the substitution of intelligent and rational thinking for faith in the certainties of old people, these are the objectives…

Quite a number of these objectives are well on their way to achievement.

It is well worth reading the whole piece as a reminder of just how deceitful our political leaders have been over many decades and how serious the anti-democratic threats still are in spite of Brexit.

Boris: The police state is far from over

Boris Johnson will today warn that the pandemic is 'far from over' as he unveils his 'winter plan' - admitting that another lockdown cannot by completely ruled out.

The PM is set to flesh out his strategy in a press conference this afternoon, after Health Secretary Sajid Javid has given the outline to MPs in a statement.

He will insist that vaccines can be the main defence against the disease, with boosters for the over-50s and jabs for under-16s starting soon.

Monday 13 September 2021

Those respectable disguises

On the long list of those respectable disguises under which we assert our own importance, or gratify our own love of meddling in our neighbour's affairs, a moral regard for the welfare of others figures in the foremost place, and stands deservedly as number one.

Wilkie Collins - Man and Wife (1870)

That’s a few jobs done, evening meal finished and dishwasher chugging away. Time to scan the headlines, but great heavens what have we here? The coronavirus mess is in the news again!

A striking feature of the coronavirus debacle is how the UK government and the media have used it to swamp our attention. A related and equally striking feature is how the swamping has been accepted.

Yet we might suppose that our attention is a most private matter, a key aspect of our personal world, our personal space and the importance we attach to all manner of encounters. All that has changed and as things are, seems likely to have changed forever.

How bad is it?

It is good for us to be held down, as the Platonic Socrates would have held us, to saying what we really believe, and sticking to what we say. We seem to regain our intellectual birthright when we are allowed to declare our genuine intent, even in philosophy, instead of begging some kind psychologist to investigate our "meaning" for us, or even waiting for the flux of events to endow us with what "meaning" it will. It is also instructive to have the ethical attitude purified of all that is not ethical and turned explicitly into what, in its moral capacity, it essentially is: a groundless pronouncement upon the better and the worse.

George Santayana - Winds Of Doctrine Studies in Contemporary Opinion (1913)

To my mind there are a number of intractable problems when confronting the totalitarian games played by modern political actors. One is assessing how bad things are now and a second, linked problem is how damaging political trends are likely to become in the medium to long term. After all - life has to be lived and we do adapt.

Both problems are intractable in that however clear and malign political trends may be, the future is unpredictable. There are bound to be unknowns and there are hints of other trends yet to make an appearance. However pessimistic the outlook, there are uncertainties.

A third problem is that political trends and substantial political change usually occur slowly from the perspective of a single human life. I may wish to see certain changes in my lifetime but my wish will probably not be granted even if the changes do eventually occur. Expecting change at unrealistic speed is – unrealistic.

A fourth problem is that only a few, very unusual people are likely to have a positive effect on political trends by democratic means. There are many more ambitious players who bypass democratic processes in one way or another. This creates many unknowns, many uncertainties, much ethical corruption and many flaws in almost any democratic system. The many we don’t elect undermine the few we do to our general disadvantage. And their advantage of course.

In which case, where does all that leave us? Perhaps we should do as we often do anyway and focus on issues which should not have become issues. Suppose we take a single topical issue – the UK drive towards net zero carbon emissions.

Whatever one thinks of the orthodox climate change narrative, the UK cannot affect global carbon dioxide emissions to a measurable extent, let alone global temperatures. Even going back to the stone age would not achieve that. The policy is so foolish that we are in some danger of forgetting that it is also unethical. As an absolute minimum, the policy is woven from misinformation and exaggeration. Outright lies are there too, but there is no need to stress that to make the point.

To my mind this is where Santayana comes in. The point to be made is not that net zero policy is monumentally foolish, but that it is unethical because of the misinformation and exaggeration. This ought to be an important aspect of the argument, but the unethical nature of misinformation tends to be overlooked as a fundamental violation of ethical public discourse. We tend to tackle misinformation mostly as misleading information when perhaps we should go no further than its unethical nature.

This feels like a weak conclusion to a major problem because at the root of it is a general public degradation of ethical significance. On the other hand, durable ethical standards are durable. Misinformation is morally wrong - we know that and so does almost everyone else. A strong ethical aspect to the public domain is how we are supposed to restrain the charlatans.

It is also instructive to have the ethical attitude purified of all that is not ethical and turned explicitly into what, in its moral capacity, it essentially is: a groundless pronouncement upon the better and the worse.

How bad is it? Ethically it is vastly worse that it should be. Not one of the main political parties is worth supporting. They all foster exaggeration and misinformation for their own political gain. They have all staked their claim to the wrong side of a very clear ethical boundary. The rest is distraction.

How bad is it? The UK supposedly has a democratic political system, yet viewed ethically it isn’t worth voting. How bad is it? How unethical does it have to be?

Sunday 12 September 2021

Pluto Time



Rather nerdy this, but NASA has a tool to see how bright it would be if you happened to be standing on Pluto. A chap would need his thermals to do that of course, but I tried it this morning and found it to be brighter than I expected. To be honest, almost pitch dark was what I expected.

Pluto orbits on the fringes of our solar system, billions of miles away. Sunlight is much weaker there than it is here on Earth, yet it isn't completely dark. In fact, for just a moment near dawn and dusk each day, the illumination on Earth matches that of high noon on Pluto.

We call this Pluto Time. If you go outside at this time on a clear day, the world around you will be as bright as the brightest part of the day on Pluto.

Saturday 11 September 2021

Imagine a school

Imagine a UK school where all pupils are required to take regular lateral flow tests. In one case the test is positive so that pupil is sent home in the middle of the day with a requirement to arrange a PCR test before being allowed to come back. Imagine the disruption.

This imaginary pupil takes another lateral flow test at home on the same day. To the surprise of nobody, this test is negative. A hastily arranged PCR test later that day is also negative, that result being reported twenty four hours later. In other words the initial lateral flow test gave a false positive result.

Now imagine a situation where the same school actually had about forty positive lateral flow tests on the same day. Imagine that disruption. A second confirmation lateral flow test in school could possibly minimise the disruption if the false positives are random, but that would miss the point. The testing is not a diagnostic test but a bureaucratic procedure. What matters is that the procedure is followed, that boxes are ticked. 

Insane? Of course it is.

Friday 10 September 2021

The most useless machine in the world

World’s biggest 'carbon-sucking' machine is switched on in Iceland: $15 million device will capture 4,000 TONS of CO2 per year and could help 'reverse climate change'

  • Orca based in Iceland is the world's largest direct air capture and storage plant
  • It uses a filter to extract and permanently remove CO2 from the surrounding air
  • Orca runs fully on renewable energy from the adjacent geothermal power plant

Thursday 9 September 2021

A conglomerate that has no name

Tablet has an interesting pandemic piece by John P.A. Ioannidis. It is well worth reading the whole thing as it is both measured and damning.

Honest, continuous questioning and exploration of alternative paths are indispensable for good science. In the authoritarian (as opposed to participatory) version of public health, these activities were seen as treason and desertion. The dominant narrative became that “we are at war.” When at war, everyone has to follow orders. If a platoon is ordered to go right and some soldiers explore maneuvering to the left, they are shot as deserters. Scientific skepticism had to be shot, no questions asked. The orders were clear.

Who gave these orders? Who decided that his or her opinion, expertise, and conflicts should be in charge? It was not a single person, not a crazy general or a despicable politician or a dictator, even if political interference in science did happen—massively so. It was all of us, a conglomerate that has no name and no face: a mesh and mess of half-cooked evidence; frenzied and partisan media promoting parachute journalism and pack coverage; the proliferation of pseudonymous and eponymous social media personas which led even serious scientists to become unrestrained, wild-beast avatars of themselves, spitting massive quantities of inanity and nonsense; poorly regulated industry and technology companies flexing their brain and marketing power; and common people afflicted by the protracted crisis. All swim in a mixture of some good intentions, some excellent thinking, and some splendid scientific successes, but also of conflicts, political polarization, fear, panic, hatred, divisiveness, fake news, censorship, inequalities, racism, and chronic and acute societal dysfunction.

Whatever do they mean?

Keir Starmer should be inspired by Biden - not Blair, TUC chief declares

Labour leader Keir Starmer should look to Joe Biden for inspiration rather than Tony Blair, TUC leader Frances O'Grady has said.

The general secretary of the trades union group said endemic low-pay and insecure jobs must be replaced with a "new age of dignity and security at work", and that post-Covid Mr Starmer should emulate the US President's approach to "levelling up".

Presumably they don't mean Sir Keir should go senile and rig the next general election. What else though? Can't arrange an absurd shambles in Afghanistan as Joe has already done that so what's left? Global laughing stock?

Wednesday 8 September 2021

Surely the net should be wider

Major changes to cut number of Welsh MPs published

Major proposals to change Wales' Westminster constituencies have been published, as the number of Welsh MPs drops from 40 to 32.

Surely it would have been better to put the horse before the cart and focus on getting rid of all the showboating charlatans and idiot MPs in Westminster first. Then think about their constituencies. Who would do that though? Not voters obviously.

Sources say

COVID-19: 12 to 15-year-olds to get 'final say' over COVID jab if disagreement with parent occurs

Sky News understands ministers are optimistic that COVID-19 vaccines will be offered to all 12 to 15-year-olds despite advisers failing to recommend it.

Sources say the government is keen to offer vaccinations to all children in that age group - and think parents would find it reassuring.

Sometimes the bias leaps out at us like a hyperactive pantomime dame. 

Ministers are optimistic about vaccinating children even though advisers failed to recommend it. Maybe the optimism of ministers offsets the failure of advisers, although trying to make sense of any of it is an uphill task. As for the anonymous Sources, they seem to think it is all very reassuring.

It isn't.

Tuesday 7 September 2021

Blessed is the Machine

He has chosen his path - Boris Johnson redrawing lines of what it means to be a Conservative

The prime minister has broken two manifesto promises in an afternoon as he increases National Insurance to raise money for social care and pauses the triple lock on pensions.

'The Machine,' they exclaimed, 'feeds us and clothes us and houses us; through it we speak to one another, through it we see one another, in it we have our being. The Machine is the friend of ideas and the enemy of superstition: the Machine is omnipotent, eternal; blessed is the Machine.'

E.M. Forster - The Machine Stops (1909)

Yes Boris Johnson is redrawing the lines of what it means to be a Conservative. In one sense it means becoming Blue Labour as many have been pointing out for some time. 

In a more significant sense it means taking the Conservatives beyond party politics into the bowels of the Machine, where there are no longer any democratic exits. Where there are no exits at all apart from catastrophic collapse.

Monday 6 September 2021

Zero-carbon football

Sky and Tottenham partner for world's first major net zero carbon football game against Chelsea

#GameZero will demonstrate the green steps that the sporting world can take to work towards a zero-carbon future; #GameZero partners want the game to raise awareness of the threat of climate change and inspire fans to make simple changes that will help reduce their carbon footprint

Lots of exciting, forward-looking, responsible green possibilities here. Fortunately we already have a picture of a net zero football pitch in winter. 


If at first…

A junior government minister has admitted that the recently introduced immortality vaccine does not appear to provide long-term immortality. The effect seems to fade over time, particularly among the elderly and those with serious pre-existing conditions.

Unfortunately in a very small number of cases, the efficacy of the immortality vaccine seems to have worn off completely within a matter of a few weeks and in one or two tragic cases it wore off quite suddenly in the vaccination centre car park.

Obviously this raises the question of whether or not the immortality vaccine is suited to mass vaccination. The government has set up a working party to look into the matter which will meet as soon as all its designated members feel a little better.

Sunday 5 September 2021

Adapt and Die

Not all readaptation, however, is progress, for ideal identity must not be lost. The Latin language did not progress when it passed into Italian. It died. Its amiable heirs may console us for its departure, but do not remove the fact that their parent is extinct. So every individual, nation, and religion has its limit of adaptation; so long as the increment it receives is digestible, so long as the organisation already attained is extended and elaborated without being surrendered, growth goes on; but when the foundation itself shifts, when what is gained at the periphery is lost at the centre, the flux appears again and progress is not real.

George Santayana - The Life of Reason (1905 - 1906)

I often sit here with my laptop, gazing through the window while thinking about the obvious problem of adapting to change. The problem is not what we should do about obviously malign change but the simple observation that a huge number of people adapt to it as opposed to resisting it.

We see the problem with major UK political parties which have clearly slipped into a long process of incompetence and moral decline. Yet voters simply adapt to the decline. They do not switch their vote in favour of individuals or parties who do at least acknowledge the problem and also have something to prove.

We could call it voter apathy which it is, but apathy facilitated by the way we adapt so quickly to changed circumstances. Even drastically changed circumstances easily observed by anyone with some knowledge of recent decades or some desire to acquire that knowledge.

It seems to be a particularly intractable problem when circumstances change more slowly than our ability to adapt. How quickly do we adapt? Very quickly indeed. The coronavirus debacle hammered that one home.

Even after the introduction of a coronavirus police state, if a general election were to be held tomorrow, the vast majority of voters would still vote for one of the major political parties. After that it will be too late to change anything.

Friday 3 September 2021

The liberating opportunity

Are there, infinitely varying with each individual, inbred forces of Good and Evil in all of us, deep down below the reach of mortal encouragement and mortal repression—hidden Good and hidden Evil, both alike at the mercy of the liberating opportunity and the sufficient temptation? Within these earthly limits, is earthly Circumstance ever the key; and can no human vigilance warn us beforehand of the forces imprisoned in ourselves which that key may unlock?

Wilkie Collins - No Name (1862)

The idea of liberating opportunity is perhaps worth a thought or two in these vexed times. 

For example, any wholly truthful government narrative would, in an important sense be a lost opportunity. In one way or another, lies, exaggerations and misinformation always offer the liberating opportunity to reinforce a narrative, weakening any ties it ever had to a far less manipulative reality. 

It is much the same with mainstream media. Anything wholly truthful would be a lost opportunity too - which is why we don’t see it.

Meal on the wing


This isn't a comment about the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, but herring gulls eat anything they can swallow and shit all over the place. Doesn't mean they spread viruses to humans but it does make a chap wonder how porous modern societies must be when it comes to contact with viruses.  

Thursday 2 September 2021

Made in England

While using my decades old retracting tape measure today, Granddaughter noticed that it says Made in England on the tape. Not something I'd noticed, but to Granddaughter it was unfamiliar and she was interested to see it. Even at eight years old she is quite aware that this kind of thing is usually made in China.

Wednesday 1 September 2021

It's time to dissolve the National Trust

The Critic has published a very nice hatchet job on the National Trust. Well worth reading in full as the quotes below are merely a taster.

Tim Parker, who’s just resigned as chairman, had the same role at the Post Office while they were wickedly persecuting subpostmasters over supposed fraud (in fact IT failure); Helen Ghosh left her position as director-general in 2018 to run Balliol College, Oxford; previously she was permanent secretary at the infamously institutionally incapable Home Office. This is the ignorant, complacent, uncultured, bureaucratic establishment that has primly taken the Trust to its present sorry place...

For over a decade the National Trust has consistently indulged gangster-capitalist attitudes towards their holdings and responsibilities as a landlord, regularly and demonstrably bullying tenants, visitors and employees alike, alongside mass redundancies and exploitative policies which run contrary to their fundamental purpose.

This abhorrent catalogue of immoral business practice is spearheaded by a tired, faded Who’s Who of bland establishment figures with no specially relevant qualifications or expertise in heritage, casually trampling working class livelihoods and pensioners’ qualities of life, whilst posing smugly for photos at fundraising events and enjoying bottomless expense accounts with no apparent accountability.

The following paragraph is likely to linger with me because of its relevance to wider aspects of political life and what it describes as "the copy-and-paste civil service aristocracy who now run all institutions identically".

Of course, they argue that permanently obscuring, modernising, or destroying some of the historic property they have been tasked to preserve is justifiable if they use the profits from said destruction to better preserve the rest. By this rationale, they’d be justified in selling, demolishing or redeveloping half of all their properties, so long as they then invested the profits into preserving the other half. It’s psychopathic business logic, of the sort we are too familiar with thanks to the copy-and-paste civil service aristocracy who now run all institutions identically, with no apparent qualifications beyond the lifelong accumulation of wealth and/or power.


An expensive but "game-changing" anti-cholesterol drug could soon be offered to hundreds of thousands of people in England and Wales on the NHS.

NHS England says inclisiran, given as a twice-a-year injection, could save about 30,000 lives within a decade.

It normally costs nearly £2,000 per dose but Novartis, which makes it, has agreed an undisclosed discount.

It can lower bad fat in the blood when other cheaper drugs, like statins, have not done enough, says draft advice.

Medical advances are generally welcome, but the political aspects of 24/7 media health obsessions are interesting too. As if here in the UK, the wider focus of government social policy is changing in ways which nobody ever voted for.

From - a house, a decent job and a decent education.

To - a place to live, universal healthcare and entertainment.