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Sunday, 31 October 2021

Electric Motoring - London to Glasgow



COP26: How easy is it to drive from London to Glasgow using an electric car?

Cars are one of the four areas Boris Johnson has promised action on at COP26 but with more and more people making the switch to electric, how good is the current infrastructure?

I've been attracted to the idea of an electric car for decades - well before Clive Sinclair's disappointing C5. Yet in spite of the hype, old problems still seem to be waiting for major technical advances.

I was driving a Kia e-Niro, a family SUV with a range of about 275 miles. With the map telling me it was 400 miles to the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow city centre, I reckoned two charges should see me through.

As the article makes clear, those two charges were more problematic than expected. Our 4x4 would take us there and halfway back on a single tank of diesel. 

Most of the time an electric car would work for us because most of our journeys are short, but electric cars are expensive and don't do everything our diesel does. I'm not convinced they ever will and I'm pretty sure nobody else really expects them to. In the longer term it's public transport for the likes of us. 

A pessimistic conclusion perhaps, but to my mind the political games being played are a key factor of our supposed electrically mobile future. Particularly totalitarian games such as COP26 - they certainly do not inspire confidence in a mobile electric future comparable to the mobility and freedom we have now. Or maybe that should be the mobility and freedom we had a few decades ago.

Saturday, 30 October 2021

By the pricking of my thumbs



'Witchcraft' abuse cases in UK revealed including parent who sought exorcism for child 'pushed down stairs by ghost'

A rape suspect last year accused the alleged victim of involvement in witchcraft, while police were called after a parent said their child was "pushed down stairs by a ghost or spirit" and a priest had been asked to do an exorcism.

How comforting to be reminded again that we have been importing witchcraft belief for years. Yet surely we have enough witches of our own without adding to their numbers. Perhaps it tells us something about our immigration controls.

That's Easy



Why do we turn the clocks back?

Winter is well and truly coming, which can only mean one thing: the clocks are going back.

They're going back by an hour at 02:00 on 31 October and this is sometimes considered the ‘good one’, as you’ll have one hour more in bed.



Why do we turn the clocks back? Because it holds back Climate Armageddon for another hour. I'm surprised Boris didn't spot that one.

Any analogy will do for the proles



COP26: Boris Johnson invokes fall of the Roman Empire as he warns world faces uphill battle in climate fight

The PM warns that failing to act on climate change could consign future generations to shortages of food, conflict and mass migrations, all caused by global warming.

Boris Johnson has warned that "team world" was "5-1" down at half-time in the fight to tackle global warming, as he implored world leaders to act now on the eve of two global gatherings.

It leads a chap to wonder about every word Boris has said in the past or ever will say in the future. The coronavirus debacle for example. Was anything he said about the pandemic reliable? Does he also attract and appoint an equally unreliable clique of rented voices?

Friday, 29 October 2021

A Land Without Truth

 


Surely he won't glue himself to the M25



Pope urges 'radical' climate response in exclusive BBC message

In a message recorded exclusively for the BBC, Pope Francis has called on world leaders meeting next week at the UN Climate conference in Glasgow to provide "effective responses" to the environment emergency and offer "concrete hope" to future generations.

The words "concrete hope" could be some kind of coded message of course. Yet I'm sure he is not planning to follow the M25 example and glue himself the the runway at Glasgow airport - he can't mean that.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

The Primary Key



In Michael Reuel’s book, Robin Hood Existed, he formulates an interesting analysis of ancient Robin Hood ballads by what he calls primary, secondary and tertiary keys within the ballads. The primary keys are a few common but essential features without which the ballads would dissolve into disconnected stories.

In the case of Robin Hood, the primary keys are that he is a woodland outlaw with a band of men, a skilled bowman and an enemy of the sheriff of Nottingham. Secondary and tertiary keys distinguish the ballads from each other and make them entertaining, but are less obviously essential for a clear view of the main character – Robin Hood. The primary keys tie the ballads together around him.

We may easily use the same approach for political movements. For example, we could suggest that communism, fascism and socialism have a common primary key.
 

Everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State.

Benito Mussolini


This approach makes it easy enough to escape misleading political language by classifying it as secondary or tertiary. It is equally easy to see how political language commonly seeks to focus on secondary or tertiary keys, on the difference between movements rather than similarities. Perhaps political language does that to avoid primary keys.

To my mind, the use of Mussolini’s dictum as a totalitarian primary key is particularly useful when we consider the political nature of the climate change movement. Looked at in this way, the climate change movement clearly shares the same primary key as communism, fascism and socialism. For example, we could reformulate the whole movement in this way –

Everything in the Planet, nothing outside the Planet, nothing against the Planet.

Yet it could be made more general such as –

Everything in the Schema, nothing outside the Schema, nothing against the Schema.

Where Schema could be anything from a political movement to the planet to political correctness generally. It highlights how political correctness shares the primary key derived from Mussolini but in a more general sense.

A useful aspect of this approach is that the Schema itself becomes a series of political secondary keys, but the essential primary key is still there. The primary key says there is to be no political escape route. You are ours it says and the message is unmistakably totalitarian.

And COP26 is a totalitarian political rally.

'I'm just another pundit' admits pundit



COP26 latest news: Vallance warns people must change diets - but Sunak says 'I'm not telling anyone to eat less meat'

Latest updates ahead of COP26 as: Alok Sharma says the outcome of the climate summit hangs "in the balance"; Sir Patrick Vallance warns that people need to change their diets and flying habits but Rishi Sunak gives a different message; India says net-zero targets are not the answer.

Wednesday, 27 October 2021

Sewage - there is a lot of it about




Environment Bill: Government U-turn over water firms dumping raw sewage after fierce backlash

The change in direction comes after several Tory MPs faced a huge backlash from constituents when they voted down the amendment to the Environment Bill tabled by the Lords last week.

The government has U-turned by deciding to put legal controls on water firms dumping raw sewage in the sea and rivers across the country despite recently forcing Tory MPs to vote down similar proposals.

First Covid all over the place and now sewage. Global warming could make it all very unpleasant.  The issue mainly relates to storm overflows. Spend enough money and the problem could be resolved apart from extreme flash flooding. Cancel HS2 and allow some of that waste to flow into more practical civil engineering for example.  

But it is worth taking a sideways look at sewage too.  Last year net migration to the UK was 313,000. If we take the volume of wastewater generated per head in the home as 150 litres, we have the UK producing an increased 47 million litres of wastewater per day over a single year thanks to inward migration. 

Back of an envelope stuff but worth doing because apart from anything else the sewage has to go somewhere. Unfortunately the political class doesn't really like numbers though.    

For example, the sewage generated by 30,000 COP26 delegates would swamp the sewage works of a small to medium sized town such as Matlock. That's an impressive amount of sewage, but it does have the UN behind it.

Tuesday, 26 October 2021

Fallen leaves

 



It's the mince pie season already so last week we treated ourselves to coffee and mince pie in Hall Leys Park, Matlock. This is the bandstand which at the time struck me as something from another age. It clearly is of course, but it it still seems that way as I look again at the photo.

It was very pleasant though, to sit on a bench with coffee and mince pie while toddlers laughed as they threw fallen leaves into the air. Yet one day they will have their mobile phones and perhaps the fallen leaves will be forgotten. 

Monday, 25 October 2021

By voyaging in the seas of charitable enterprise



Mr Carter was still secretary to the hospital where Reardon had once earned his twenty shillings a week, but by voyaging in the seas of charitable enterprise he had come upon supplementary sources of income; for instance, he held the post of secretary to the Barclay Trust, a charity whose moderate funds were largely devoted to the support of gentlemen engaged in administering it.

George Gissing - New Grub Street (1891)


Now the thing is done on a grander scale where the funds are not at all moderate.

Some Good News At Last



COP26: Boris Johnson 'very worried' climate conference will not be a success

The prime minister said he believes the agreements can be done but is concerned that it will be very tough as he spoke to schoolchildren ahead of COP26 starting on Sunday.

A complete disaster would be far better of course, but the usual miserable failure will have to do. Still far better than anything the climate faithful would count as success. They may have to keep on gluing themselves to the M25. Boris should join them. And Prince William. And...

Sunday, 24 October 2021

Fashionably Mad



We’ve endured a cold, wet morning here in Derbyshire, so Mrs H and I toddled off for a stroll round town in our wet weather gear. We even popped into the Co-op coffee shop because it was that kind of day. The kind of day where it is not unpleasant to linger over a coffee, to chat and gaze at passersby through rain-spotted windows.  

Over coffee we found ourselves chatting about madness and how common and even fashionable it has become in modern times. Not padded room type madness, but mild versions which one might almost imagine to have become lifestyle choices. As if decades of psychology have not cured madness but promoted it as a socially fashionable condition within certain, equally fashionable limitations.

Celebrities especially – they seem remarkably keen to exhibit their mental problems to the whole world. Even wallowing in it, as if mild madness conveys some kind of artistic kudos, although they all seem disinclined to cut off one of their ears. They don’t usually take it that far.

As if it has become fashionable to be a little unstable, to have a screw loose or to be the proud owner of some fashionably expensive psychiatric problems. Apart from medication, the main remedy appears to be unconditional sympathy. Almost as if sympathy is a contributory factor, but that is hardly a surprising observation. 

Yes - fashionable madness does leave a chap with an obvious suspicion because excessive sympathy also appears to be a disease of our times. That is not to say that more people should be told to get a grip of themselves, but maybe more people should be encouraged to unlearn some of the social games they play…

No – on reflection more people should be told to get a grip of themselves.

Saturday, 23 October 2021

Cascade


Throughout the coronavirus debacle, face masks were an embarrassing nuisance. There was no attempt to apply any kind of standard for porosity, material, nose piece, fastenings or instructions. 

In other words, any leaky old bit of cloth would do as long as it looked like a mask. Ours were home made bits of cloth and elastic with no quality control whatever. But they were good enough because appearance was all. So what were masks all about, other than some kind of compliance badge?

To my mind, masks were both a compliance badge part of an engineered availability cascade

An availability cascade is a self-reinforcing cycle that explains the development of certain kinds of collective beliefs. A novel idea or insight, usually one that seems to explain a complex process in a simple or straightforward manner, gains rapid currency in the popular discourse by its very simplicity and by its apparent insightfulness. Its rising popularity triggers a chain reaction within the social network: individuals adopt the new insight because other people within the network have adopted it, and on its face it seems plausible.

The intention was to make masks into the most visible part of official policy. They were used to ensure that the whole coronavirus issue revolved around centrally planned pandemic mitigation. Nothing else. Masks were a central planner’s tactic.

Here in the UK, COP26 is apparently being used as an availability cascade for Net Zero. The absurdly heavy media coverage of COP26 certainly requires some explanation as the event itself is both uninteresting and most unlikely to advance beyond futile.

 COP26 coverage in the UK feels like a highly artificial availability cascade. As if the intention here is to ensure that Net Zero discussions only revolve around the “we must do something” position, ensuring it is by far the most widely familiar public position. In other words, the only available position for most people. Another central planner’s tactic.

 To my mind, there is no doubt whatever that this Boris Johnson government is a central planner’s dream. A totalitarian government where all we really vote for is the face on the TV screen.

Surely 'window' should be plural here


Charles warns of ‘dangerously narrow window’ for green recovery

The Prince of Wales has warned there is a “dangerously narrow” window of opportunity in which to tackle climate change.


Surely he means 'dangerously narrow windows'. He may not have been counting over the years, but he must know there have been many such windows, all desperately critical. 

Friday, 22 October 2021

Having no skin in the game



Why do BBC presenters receive such extraordinarily generous salaries? Supposedly they are paid some kind of market rate, but surely any jobbing actor could do what they do.

A more convincing explanation is that a huge salary is used to haul them into a particular social class and nail them there for the duration. It ensures that they have no skin in the game when it comes to certain social and political trends which damage social classes below their cosmopolitan comfort zone. For the common good of course.

For example, relentless attempts to make COP26 seem relevant to real life are driven by those with virtually no skin in the game. They can afford the obvious stupidity as payment for a Malthusian perspective to offset what to them should be minor financial downsides. It may not turn out like that, but this is their narrative.

The expensive energy, the inevitable restrictions on mobility, holiday travel, air travel. The colder houses, unaffordable winter heating, the inevitable impact on low income families. The chattering classes have far less skin than most of us in these, more serious downsides.

They never had any skin in the immigration game either, only ever viewing it from a comfortable cosmopolitan perspective. Having no skin in the game there was never a motive to explore the legitimacy of other, sharper perspectives further down the social ladder. Neither is there a motive to consider the inner city violence, the erosion of a successful culture or even the rewriting of history.

They have no skin in the increasingly forlorn need to preserve free speech. Just the opposite - they have skin the censorship game. They benefit from restrictions on criticism and even language because their social class created a need for heavier censorship. For the common good of course.

Thursday, 21 October 2021

Strewth - we really are stuffed



Climate change: How dirty is the air in your area? Find out how much carbon dioxide is emitted where you live

ONS interactive maps show how CO2 emissions have changed over time and how much of your area is covered by woodland.


We breathe out a vastly higher concentration of CO2 than is found in the atmosphere. It is essential for plant growth. It is essential for life on Earth. How can it possibly be dirty?

We really do need gibbering stupidity to become markedly less fashionable if we are to survive.

More Net Zero Tech

 




Government boffins have developed this fully recyclable Personal Ablution Module (PAM) to replace old fashioned showers and baths as Net Zero is rolled over the UK.

The idea is to part fill the module with rainwater then use it in a similar manner to the old style bath although it is intended that old soaps and bathing gels will not be used with the PAM. Instead, it is envisaged that PAM users will rub themselves down with healthy, aromatic and sustainable bundles of dried grasses.

The boffins have also developed a luxury warming accessory for those who wish to add that special touch of swank to sustainable Net Zero living. 

Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Wolf's Milk

 

Who remembers I Spy books? They are still around and certainly encourage kids to observe the world around them because the art of observation is considered to be a Good Thing. 

The art of observation is a rum game though. At one time it was considered essential for a particular kind of acute, penetrating intelligence epitomised by the scientist in a white coat but it went much wider than that. In detective fiction, Sherlock Holmes was the ultimate observer but there were many others from Miss Marple to Ludovic Travers. By contrast, Holmes’ plodding companion Dr Watson hardly appeared to observe anything but the obvious.

Back in July I took this photo of what I thought might be some kind of fungus, but it seems more likely to be an example of Wolf’s Milk. Quite common on decaying wood in the UK apparently, so why haven’t I observed it before? Surely even Dr Watson would have spotted it lots of times.


Yet oddly enough, the art of observation appears to have been downplayed over recent decades. As if a Dr Watson fog has drifted across the public domain, where the ability to observe even the obvious is tuned out by endless media clamour.

It isn’t merely media noise though. There is a covert message that it is not nice to observe everything. It never was in certain circles of course, but those circles appear to have widened considerably. In a widening circle of circumstances, those who observe too much have become bad people.

A striking example is the coronavirus debacle where there is very strong media pressure not to observe but to accept. Yet the simplest observation tells us that many countries had a better pandemic outcome than the UK in spite of having less advanced health services. Merely one of numerous observations we are not supposed to make.

Another striking example is US President Joe Biden where simple observation suggests that he lacks the mental capacity to carry out the role - lacks it by a wide margin. Simple observation also tells us that the mainstream media do not intend to tackle this issue. Those who observe this one are definitely bad people. Even very bad people and you don't want to be one of those do you?

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

As if they are living in a parallel universe



Ben Sixsmith has a nicely sarcastic piece in The Critic about opportunist attempts to stifle public discourse on the back of the murder of Sir David Amess. It is well worth reading the whole piece.


There is something about Twitter that makes it almost impossible to resist not only making but publicising snap judgements. As soon as news broke that Sir David Amess MP had been stabbed, online commentators were drawing conclusions. Some blamed incendiary verbiage from the left, such as Angela Rayner MP calling Conservatives “scum”. Others blamed the government, with former PCC Arfon Jones, saying “this is what happens” when you have a government that “sows hate”. No one, to be clear, knew what had happened.

Evidence that has emerged since, following Sir David’s tragic death, has not been kind to the “civility in politics” narrative. The killer is reported to have been Ali Harbi Ali, apparently the 25-year-old son of a former media spokesman for the Prime Minister of Somalia. The suspect had reportedly been referred to the government’s anti-radicalisation scheme Prevent and has been detained under terrorism legislation. This makes it unlikely, though not impossible, that he was radicalised by watching people argue about Brexit or lockdowns.


Somehow, journalists and politicians have maintained their initial narrative. It is as if they are living in a parallel universe where none of this news has been reported. Their discourse flows on, river-like, and nothing one hurls into it can make a difference.

Admin Note

This is just a note about personal emails sent to me at the blog email account. I receive a few of these plus lots of automated email notifications as a result of subscribing to this and that. The automated email mount up pretty quickly, so after a quick scan I'll usually block delete them and it is just possible that I could inadvertently delete a personal email.

I'm not aware of having done this and take some care to avoid it, but it is as well to point out the possibility.

Monday, 18 October 2021

Because he was fond of lying



His talent for improvising useful falsehoods is innate; later on, at maturity, he is proud of this; he makes it the index and measure of "political superiority," and "delights in calling to mind one of his uncles who, in his infancy, prognosticated to him that he would govern the world because he was fond of lying."

Hippolyte Taine on Napoleon - The Modern Regime (1890-93)

Have we always been lied to by elites and their minions? I think we have in that they always claim to mediate on our behalf. Essentially they always claim directly or indirectly to mediate between some kind of higher necessity and the lower classes. Even when the lower classes have no power to change anything they still do it and they still lie about what they are doing.

Are some people fond of lying as Taine said of Napoleon? Clearly some people are fond of lying in that they do it and seemingly build a parallel world of some kind via their lies. I’ve known of ordinary people who are said to lie as a matter of course. Something I suspect many people have come across. It isn’t wildly unusual, especially if we include dishonest exaggeration and elaboration.

Lies commonly seem designed to establish some kind of socially superior position from petty one-upmanship to large scale political lying designed to establish and maintain political power.

Is COP26 an elaborate festival of lies? Of course it is, that’s how power games are played. It isn't a game of croquet. We have always been lied to by elites and their minions and it isn’t likely to stop now. Neither is it likely to be thwarted by scientific integrity. Again - integrity is not how the game is played.

Time for them to go



Climate change: 'Your future depends on the future of the planet,' Prince Charles warns children in documentary

The Prince of Wales said his grandson, George, is already learning about the impact of climate change on young people.

I've never been a republican but times change. Charles, William and Harry are sufficient to convince this old curmudgeon that the monarchy should not go beyond Elizabeth II. 

Actively promoting a weird, intrinsically dishonest and totalitarian form of nature worship is not what our monarchy should be doing. Promoting it to children is even worse. To my mind nothing good will ever come from dragging the whole sorry monarchy business any further.

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Theranos

 



Not a recent video, but a useful reminder of the background to the Elizabeth Holmes fraud trial. I wonder how many of us understand a character such as Elizabeth Holmes because most of us are just not like her. Conscience and aspects of the real world appear to be blotted out by something most of us don't have and don't really share.

When the clues assemble themselves



The man arrested by police following the killing of the MP Sir David Amess has been named as Ali Harbi Ali.

The 25-year-old is being held under the Terrorism Act and officers have until Friday to question him.

The BBC understands Mr Ali was referred to the counter-terrorist Prevent scheme some years ago, but was never a formal subject of interest to MI5.


It’s odd, but as soon as the news broke I was pretty sure that the alleged perpetrator’s name would not be something like Steve or Thomas. No doubt millions of others were equally sure - even internationally.

The observation isn’t meant to be particularly sarcastic because nutters kill innocent people all the time, but the clues seemed to assemble themselves within seconds. Stabbing, prominent victim, tardy reporting of any details about the alleged perpetrator. Even MPs will have guessed correctly within a matter of seconds. The clues assemble themselves.

Saturday, 16 October 2021

A world where sanity is an outlier



COP26: Minister says nations that don't attend climate change summit will be 'outliers' - amid report China's Xi set to snub Glasgow gathering

An unidentified British source is quoted in The Times as saying: "It is now pretty clear that Xi is not going to turn up and the PM [Boris Johnson] has been told that."

Entertaining in a way, because that's the primary climate change message - don't be an outlier. As it was and still is with the coronavirus debacle. Totalitarian politics in other words - or just 'politics'.

Recycling centre reverts to scrapyard

 

source


source

Friday, 15 October 2021

Chips with everything



How do you make air travel greener? This Rolls-Royce pledge is a big part of the answer

The hunt is on for ways to make air travel less carbon-intensive, especially with demand set to soar as countries emerge from the worst of the pandemic. An announcement on Thursday by Rolls-Royce is a big step in the right direction...

Rolls has previously said that sustainable aviation fuel, which is produced from feed stocks such as cooking oil, non-palm waste oils from animals or plants and solid waste from homes and businesses, offers "net CO2 lifecycle emissions of at least 75% less than conventional jet fuel".



Sounds good but we clearly need to make sure green feed stocks are adequate. Cooking oil is an obvious area we could easily boost via a number of measures.
  • Green subsidies for fish and chip shops.
  • Replace BBC presenters with much more rotund folk.
  • Develop BBC food programmes such as the Great Green Fry Up.
  • Introduce a Green BMI of 30 to make people less anxious about their weight.
  • School meals could have Green Fry Up Day every week.
All easily implemented and pretty inexpensive considering the catastrophic alternative so let’s get frying.

Thursday, 14 October 2021

Grate branes not kneeded



Prince William criticises billionaire space race after William Shatner's Blue Origin flight

The Duke of Cambridge says the focus should be on repairing the Earth, not trying to find "the next place to live".

In an interview ahead of his inaugural Earthshot Prize, the Duke of Cambridge told the BBC: "We need some of the world's greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet, not trying to find the next place to go and live."

If we don't have "some of the world's greatest brains and minds fixed on trying to repair this planet" there may be a reason. It is just possible that the climate game doesn't attract them. William could even ask himself why those great brains do not see the issue as important enough to take a professional interest in it.

Reading The Authoritarian Mind



Javid sorry for Covid losses but says he has not read Commons report in detail

Health secretary falls short of apologising for government decision to delay first lockdown but says ‘there are lessons to learn’

A major assumption slipped in there. Claiming that Javid has failed to apologise for an initial lockdown delay assumes that at the time we knew lockdown was the best policy. Right from the off it's a whopper of an assumption.

I've found you have to possess an authoritarian mind to read the Guardian, a mind where important assumptions automatically escape further analysis. Makes it surprisingly difficult to read.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

What - no locust plagues?



Climate change: 'Adapt or die' warning from Environment Agency

Hundreds of people could die in floods in the UK, the Environment Agency has warned in a hard-hitting report that says the country is not ready for the impact of climate change...

The apocalyptic tone is deliberately intended to startle governments, companies and communities into preparing for global warming effects such as higher sea levels and more extremes of rainfall and drought.

Ignoring the possibility of devastating locust plagues seems to miss a rather obvious opportunity here. For one thing, a locust narrative would be able to employ the term 'biblical' quite legitimately. 

To my mind the omission should be corrected in case public alarm levels drop to an alarmingly low level. 

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Sounds like a good idea



Teachers in Yanggang Province mobilized for the potato harvest

Daily NK has learned that teachers in Yanggang Province have recently been mobilized to harvest potatoes. A source says they are heading to the farms earlier than in previous years with a poor harvest expected this season.

The source, who is based in the province, told Daily NK on Thursday that the province’s education department assigned local teachers potato quotas from Sep. 25. He said early October is the optimal time to harvest potatoes, but with the authorities expecting insufficient supplies, they are putting teachers to work in the fields about 10 days earlier than last year.

Government Slammed In Made Up Numbers Shock



Covid: UK's early response worst public health failure ever, MPs say

The UK's failure to do more to stop Covid spreading early in the pandemic was one of the worst ever public health failures, a report by MPs says.

The government approach - backed by its scientists - was to try to manage the situation and in effect achieve herd immunity by infection, it said.

This led to a delay in introducing the first lockdown, costing thousands of lives.

As we cannot run the pandemic again under different policies we cannot possibly know if the policy pattern actually followed was optimal or not. Almost certainly not, but given the circumstances that is scarcely surprising. To claim that lockdown delay cost thousands of lives is worthless rhetoric.

We can reasonably maintain that policies followed were less than optimal in both political and cost benefit senses. In which case an earlier lockdown could have made things worse, but lockdown fans have simplicity and hindsight on their side. 

Monday, 11 October 2021

William Preaches Against Sin



Stars ready to join Prince William for ceremony recognising best ideas for tackling climate change

The event will include performances by Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, KSI and Yemi Alade, and Shawn Mendes, and an appearance by Sir David Attenborough, who will share the optimism he feels about environmental challenges.


William is making an ancient claim here. It is a covert claim but clear enough in its essential character. He is effectively claiming to mediate between Gaia and the feckless consumer. That’s us, but you already knew that. It has been made abundantly clear over recent decades. 

It comes as no surprise that our inevitable role has morphed from sinner to feckless consumer but the role is much the same. It is our job to support a new priestly caste on our collective backs, a caste which is somewhat hereditary as it always was. As it certainly is in William's case. 

We are in the process of acquiring other sins too. The feckless smoker of course, but we've moved on from that. The feckless unvaccinated for example. The feckless car driver, the feckless drinker, the feckless holidaymaker and so on. Even the feckless eater. That's one to dwell on.

Welcome to the world of the new priesthood where sin is inescapable. Unless you join the priesthood of course. 

Sunday, 10 October 2021

Natural Ability



Imagine a school teacher with so much natural ability as a chess player that he could have aimed at becoming a world class player, even a world championship challenger. Yet on the whole he appears to have preferred teaching. 

Henry Ernest Atkins (20 August 1872 – 31 January 1955) was a British chess master who is best known for his unparalleled record of winning the British Chess Championship nine times in eleven attempts. He won every year from 1905 to 1911, and again in 1924 and 1925. A schoolmaster, Atkins treated chess as a hobby, devoting relatively little time to it and playing in only a handful of international tournaments. He was an extremely gifted player who would likely have become one of the world's leading players had he pursued the game more single-mindedly.

Atkins even dropped competitive chess completely for over a decade.

After the 1911 Championship, Atkins retired completely from tournament chess for the next 11 years. He later remarked, "I really can't say why I didn't play after 1911 for so many years."

By way of contrast, today we are plagued with celebrities who appear to have no natural ability at all. And MPs. And...

Saturday, 9 October 2021

Restating the obvious



It is sometimes worth restating obvious aspects of human nature and politics because their importance can be overlooked. Often deliberately overlooked, but as we know that's part of it. Climate change offers one of the most obvious examples of what we are.

If you create a fashionable, well-funded and scary scientific paradigm which supposedly affects everyone on the planet and is always in the news. If that paradigm is full of holes but it can be made plausible by scientific cherry picking and exaggeration, then you will attract plenty of second-rate scientists to support your paradigm. Most scientists are second-rate. That’s just how we are.

The same problem affects the sinister and crushing growth of globalism. Presumably this is a key reason why Boris went for Brexit. If globalism rules our future then why bother with the EU? On the global stage there are more and better opportunities for a former Prime Minister.

Friday, 8 October 2021

Who needs turkey at Christmas?



One night I lay broad awake, perhaps from having shot a curlew, and eaten him, without an onion sewn inside while roasting, but he had been so hard to shoot that I was full of zeal to dine upon him, and had no onion handy.

R. D. Blackmore - The Maid of Sker (1872)

City of Culture



UK City of Culture 2025 longlist revealed

Eight places have been longlisted for the prestigious UK City of Culture 2025 title



Blimey, Derby is on the list. We no longer go there apart from having the cars serviced. Even then we leave the car and come home instead of strolling into Derby for a coffee. I wonder what they mean by Derby culture? Maybe this is an example.

I'm not sure how many people are swayed by these PR stunts but we aren't. Derby has history but not much culture.

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Travel Light



We are whizzing off for an overnight hotel stay this weekend. Packing begins tomorrow, although Mrs H seems to have started already.

Years ago when I used to attend distant work meetings, an overnight hotel jaunt meant little more than packing underwear, toothbrush and razor. Now we seem to be putting in a fair amount of effort to keep the packing down to three holdalls for two of us.

Something has changed.

The Box



The other evening Mrs H and I were watching a television programme, something we rarely do now. It was ITV so there were lots of weirdly infantile adverts where actors pretend to be maniacally happy about clean floors or somehow they manage to appear cool and superior while driving a dull, mass produced car.

Apart from the ads, what struck me more forcibly than usual was how crappy television really is. Not a hundred percent crap, but close enough to wonder if we should ever have allowed the goggle box into our homes at all. Perhaps we should have left it in the showroom because it did far more damage than we knew.

What damage would that be? It seems possible that we have drifted away from the spoken and written word towards the moving image. Something which may be an example of that occurred during the recent Facebook outage.

Out of interest during the outage I skimmed through a fair number of comments left at various websites, comments which appeared to have been left by Facebook users impatient to see the issue resolved. Numerous comments may have simply reflected Facebook argot but they also seemed to reflect an unwillingness to string words into sentences.

Even when words were strung together, they usually had to reflect a familiar image. Words are often supposed to do that of course, but the importance of the image seems to have grown. The image directs the words even when it should be the other way round. Television does it all the time.

Of course it is possible that television changed nothing fundamental, it merely plugged itself in to what was already there and made the image into the dominant theme of our lives. In which case the question is answered, we should not have allowed television into our homes and our lives.

Or the question is not answered because we were bound to adopt television with almost universal enthusiasm. It's how we are made.

Unlike most of the electorate, MPs and media



Boris Johnson's party conference speech 'economically illiterate'

The prime minister's speech was big on bluster but business leaders were left feeling short-changed.


Surely economic illiterates are his target audience.

Wednesday, 6 October 2021

An ungodly disaster

 


Surely asylums are due for a comeback



Insulate Britain Invokes WW2 Collateral Damage to Justify Deaths Caused by Protests

The spokesman for Insulate Britain implicitly stated that deaths caused by ambulances forced to wait in traffic because of one of his protests was like allowing soldiers in World War Two to die in order to keep secret from Nazi Germany that the UK had cracked the code for the Enigma machine, per his interpretation of historical events he had seen in the 2014 film The Imitation Game.

New



A development during my lifetime has been the way newness has become a major criterion of taste. It has been noted and commented on for many decades yet it still persists as strongly as ever. New domestic d├ęcor, new cars, new clothes, new holiday destinations, new gadgets, new cookery recipes – the list is endless.

In one sense newness has become destructive in that we are required to admire new political policies, new leaders, new laws, new sources of energy, new ideas about the environment, new genders, new fashions, new attitudes, new celebrities, new words, new cliches. This list is growing.

The media seem to find something new to add every week, although that isn't a new problem. It may be a stretch but is surely not impossible that we have become conditioned to accept newness as inherently good. Conversely we are losing the capacity to see that it often isn’t.

I wonder how Boris and his new cabinet will perform?

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

Unslashed



Seeing the same GP over several years helps patients live longer and stay out of hospital, study finds

  • Lasting relationships with GPs also slashes risk of heart disease and diabetes
  • Findings come from new study by scientists at the University of Bergen, Norway
  • Patients who had same GP for 15 years or more were 30% less likely to need out-of-hours health services than those who knew theirs for less than a year
  • Long-term patients were also 28% less likely to be admitted to hospital

Leads a chap to wonder about the impact of effectively having no GP here in the UK. Presumably the risks of heart disease and diabetes remain unslashed. 

Monday, 4 October 2021

The millionth echo



Two quotes for the political party conference season here in the UK.
 

Side by side they walked in quick step, as to the beating of a drum; eyes direct, as looking along a barrel, ears pricked for the millionth echo of an offensive remark.

George Gissing - Isabel Clarendon (1885)


You see what I am like; they take something from you, and you give them something else as well and say, ‘Take that, too.’ They strike you on the cheek and in your joy you offer them your whole back. Then they try to lure you like a dog with a bun, and you embrace them with your foolish paws and fall to kissing them with all your heart and soul.

Fyodor Dostoevsky - Polzunkov (1848)


It has always been obvious enough that core aspects of the human condition are old and intractable. We do not have the ability to eliminate them. The best we may do is ameliorate them, but we elect leaders who tell us otherwise. And too many of us listen to them.

Office Equipment

 


A nice cast iron Victorian embossing stamp press. Office equipment built to last for several lifetimes. Plus several more lifetimes if we still had a use for it, although I believe flimsy modern versions are still available.

The Vermin Club



Kit Kowol has a piece in The Critic about political name calling in relation to Angela Rayner referring to Tories as 'scum'. He suggests 'rhetorical appropriation' is the right way to deal with it. Entertaining and worth reading.

Name calling in politics. Get it right, and in just a few words you can create a pithy line that permanently defines your opponent. The term “guilty men” to describe those who supported appeasement, for example, was one that haunted Conservative politicians for decades. Get an insult wrong, however, and you can look dangerously out of touch, especially when the insult refers to voters — think of Hillary Clinton’s reference to “deplorables”...

Labour Minister of Health, Aneurin Bevan, described the Tory party as being “lower than vermin”. Like Rayner’s, Bevan’s words were aimed more at shaping his image within his own party than communicating with the country. Known for enjoying the hospitality of wealthy Conservative socialites, most famously the newspaper magnate Lord Beaverbrook, Beavan made his “vermin” comment during a speech describing the poor health that he and his friends experienced in his native South Wales. As a result, Bevan claimed, “no amount of cajolery, and no attempts at ethical or social seduction” could eradicate from his heart “the deep burning hatred for the Tory party that inflicted those experiences on me”. While the speech and the furore surrounding it certainly helped secure Bevan’s reputation as a working-class warrior — you can even buy t-shirts with Bevan’s words emblazoned on them — it also induced an equally strong reaction on the Right in the form of the creation of the Vermin Club.

Sunday, 3 October 2021

Bleak Headline



Conservative Party conference 2021: Boris Johnson promises 'big, bold decisions' to rebuild Britain after COVID - amid fears of looming winter crisis

As Conservative Party members began arriving in Manchester, Boris Johnson is championing the event's "Build Back Better" slogan with a message that the UK's recovery from the COVID crisis will not see a return to the "status quo ante".


Ten seconds thinking time – here’s three big, bold decisions to show willing but there are many, many more.

Cancel HS2
Sell off the BBC
Repeal the Climate Change Act

And so on and so on. It isn’t difficult but Boris will make it so. Makes a chap wonder what Roman citizens thought as it became obvious that the empire was crumbling. Something pithy in Latin I expect.

The Joy of Mediocrity



Bureaucracies are like food, we need them but not too much and quality can be very variable. Unfortunately bureaucracies prefer bloat to quality. 

As a consequence, containment has become the lifeblood of government bureaucracy where problems are generally contained by bloated regulations, not solved. Bureaucratic containment can be a job for life, but solving the need for it is not. Solutions could cause bureaucrat redundancy and that would never do.

In the bureaucratic world, even problem solving can be a tactic to generate more opportunities for containment. Naturally enough, containment endures because we do need a certain level of regulation and enforcement. Red tape is not necessarily destructive, but it is an opportunity to push containment further and deeper until it becomes destructive. Even this offers more bureaucratic opportunities.

As an example, we have a UK drugs problem. Containing it provides a permanent bureaucratic workload. Consequently we have a drugs policy which isn’t intended to solve the problem but to contain it. Politically this is satisfactory – the problem is contained and a few drug seizures create the impression that something is being done. Which it is, but not necessarily the best that could be done. Nobody is interested in that.

As another topical example we have a net zero carbon policy because it won’t work, just as we have other climate policies and regulations because they won't work. The huge bureaucratic advantage of climate policies is that they do not even make sense. The climate narrative offers containment opportunities which are simply invented to mitigate imaginary problems in an imaginary future.

We have mass immigration in the UK, not because it is beneficial but because it is not beneficial, because it offers numerous integration problems as opportunities for bureaucratic containment.

Race relations bureaucracy is a spin-off from mass immigration. It too has delivered numerous bureaucratic containment opportunities, some invented, some created by opportunistic containment policies. It all serves to generate laws, regulations, education, training and an endless source of virtuous aspiration.

We have state education because it doesn’t work as well as education could be made to work. As with other bureaucratic activities, mediocrity offers endless opportunities for containing poor performance without curing it. Even superior educational performance becomes a driver for further bureaucratic initiatives which turn out to be containment rather than improvement.

Even information offers bureaucratic containment opportunities. As we know. That’s the sinister one.

Saturday, 2 October 2021

A Stark Contrast



They passed a very pleasant day at Sker (as I was told that evening), pushing about among rocks and stones, and routing out this, that, and the other, of shells and sea-weed and starfish, and all the rest of the rubbish, such as amuses great gentry, because they have nothing to do for their living.

R. D. Blackmore - The Maid of Sker (1872)


Imagine David Attenborough pottering along a seashore telling us about shells and sea-weed and starfish, and all the rest of the rubbish

It's a reminder of how sentimental we have become. In Blackmore's day, those who had to make a hard living from the sea were not sentimental about it as we are. In my view it is one of the changes which is killing us off – our diminished ability to be unsentimental.

Friday, 1 October 2021

In the bleak midwinter



Energy crisis: Fuel poverty warning as price cap goes up at time of 'chaos' for economy

Labour is warning of a "winter of discontent" ahead as rising bills combine with disruption in the economy to leave the government facing claims it is presiding over a period of preventable chaos.

For once Labour is right. Winter is coming while Boris preaches to the world about zero carbon targets, saving the planet and other matters he does not appear to understand.

From a political perspective it is not easy to see how Boris is to avoid being exposed as someone who does not understand what he is talking about. I apologise in advance for the horrible image, but that would be an emperor's new clothes level of exposure. Very stark indeed.

On the other hand, we could even see some welcome exposure of the entire climate change narrative. Could be an interestingly bleak midwinter.