Saturday 31 December 2022

Happy New Year

Knighthoods for MPs who caused Boris Johnson headaches

Ex-minister and COP26 president Alok Sharma also receives a knighthood.

Sir Alok led the UK's efforts to secure a deal at last year's climate conference in Glasgow.

Is the political climate likely to improve in 2023? Not without significant changes, but you knew that. 

A happy and prosperous New Year to all.

Friday 30 December 2022

Seems too easy

11 creative ways to repurpose your real Christmas tree after the festive season

The festivities may be coming to an end, but it doesn’t mean we have to completely say goodbye to our Christmas trees. For those of us who opted for real trees, there are plenty of clever, eco-friendly ways to repurpose them.

I don't really understand this, because it seems too easy. For example, I could creatively repurpose our Christmas tree by shoving it up Matt Hancock. Fair enough you may say - that's one. Yet I could creatively imagine repurposing well over hundred trees in this creative way. Probably more.

So many celebrities and politicians could be involved in this type of creative repurposing, that I suspect 11 is a misprint for 111. Or more.

Socrates and Net Zero

Powerful responses to the apocalyptic climate narrative are not only found in the flaky science, they are also found in human behaviour which hardly ever matches the rhetoric.

The personal behaviour of its proponents almost always shows apocalyptic climate claims to be an imposture. The imposition of increasingly rigorous climate “duties” by media, politicians and celebrities are clues to the imposture. The "duties" are imposed on us, not them.

This method, the Socratic method, consists in accepting any estimation which any man may sincerely make, and in applying dialectic to it, so as to let the man see what he really esteems. What he really esteems is what ought to guide his conduct; for to suggest that a rational being ought to do what he feels to be wrong, or ought to pursue what he genuinely thinks is worthless, would be to impugn that man’s rationality and to discredit one’s own.

With what face could any man or god say to another: Your duty is to do what you cannot know you ought to do; your function is to suffer what you cannot recognise to be worth suffering? Such an attitude amounts to imposture and excludes society; it is the attitude of a detestable tyrant, and any one who mistakes it for moral authority has not yet felt the first heart-throb of philosophy.

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

Telling the general population to do what they cannot know they ought to do and suffer what they cannot know they ought to suffer in the name of climate change - that should not be mistaken for moral authority. It is an imposture.

A large majority of people promoting the climate imposture politically and in the media, cannot know why it ought to be pushed nor why it ought to be endured.

As for people we encounter socially who profess to believe the climate imposture – most of them cannot know why it ought to be pushed nor why it ought to be endured.

Simple, widely observable human behaviour tells us quite clearly that the apocalyptic climate narrative is an imposture. The science may be blatantly flaky, but ignorant behaviour is the bigger clue.


We toddled off for a walk along the promenade this morning. The sea was rough and it was not far off high tide, so lots of entertainment as the occasional wave flung a high deluge of water over the rail. Keep an eye on it if you stray close to the rail - or you'll be drenched. You'll amuse the onlookers though. 

Over the years, we've seen a number of unwary people caught out this way and if I think back, it always seems to  be young people. This morning it was a teenage girl. Crash, splash, squeal.

No big deal of course, people end up no wetter than they would in a sudden downpour, it's just a good deal quicker and more of a surprise. Young people who end up being drenched by an unexpectedly big wave do seem to be taken by surprise. Not entirely surprised of course, because being too close is part of the fun. Slightly surprised though - as if they thought they would be quick enough to dodge it.

Thursday 29 December 2022

Was it ours?

Doncaster surgery sends cancer text instead of festive message

A GP surgery accidentally told patients they had aggressive lung cancer instead of wishing them a merry Christmas.

Askern Medical Practice sent the message to people registered with the Doncaster surgery on 23 December.

Mrs H told me about this story while we were tootling down the M5 towards Devon this morning. "Was it ours?" was my automatic reaction, because I wouldn't have been astounded if it had been ours. 

Then I wondered how many other people would have reacted similarly before being told which GP surgery it was. Not a small number is my guess.

Wednesday 28 December 2022

Inviting Contempt

We buzzed off to a local shopping centre this morning, because Mrs H needed something for our New Year break. A foul morning it was too. Cold, grey and murky with heavy rain as a bonus and hardly light by 9am.

Driving conditions on the A38 were as poor as expected, but as usual some drivers seem to think they will be fine if they ignore the reduced visibility and standing water on the road. No need to drop below their usual 80mph. It's not so much the speed, as an inability to alter driving habits to suit the conditions. Of course they could have been professional drivers with razor-sharp anticipation and the reflexes of a cat, but I suspect not. 

Crossing over the M1 on the way home, we noticed that traffic heading north was at a standstill. Another predictable accident of course. Mrs H checked the traffic news and it wasn’t the only M1 traffic accident either.

At times like this, it is easy enough to imagine how the broad mass of road users must be regarded with a degree of contempt by the police and the emergency services. We may criticise them, but there are times when official contempt for the generality of motorists is not difficult to understand.

Dork of the year 2022


Sir Anthony Charles Lynton Blair KG

It’s a crowded field this year, as it is every year, but more than any previous year, 2022 seems to be the Year of the Dork - as will 2023 of course. Many thanks to everyone who left suggestions - they all demonstrate what a ridiculously packed field it is.

Inevitably, the DotY Committee has had a difficult time of it, but still managed to reach a conclusion with only a few biscuits hurled across the room and no fisticuffs. One very attractive suggestion was a contest between Dork Duos such as

Meghan and Harry
Shearer and Wright
Biden and Corbyn
Fauci and Whitty
Truss and Kwarteng
The Gary duo – Lineker and Neville.

A suggestion which will be followed up. In the end, the DotY Committee was swayed by a timely, if unpleasant reminder of Tony Blair in his KG garb. It turned out to be a powerful visual argument.

For all his pretensions to be a charismatic schemer, it is easy to lose sight of Blair the Dork. He even managed to choose the wrong political party, the one with Brown in it.

The hat, the Committee decided, says it all.

Tuesday 27 December 2022

Our Friend the Charlatan

Few Englishmen had a smaller endowment of practical ability; few, on the other hand, delighted as he did in speculative system, or could grasp and exhibit in such lucid entirety hypothetical laws. Much as he talked of science, he was lacking in several essentials of the scientific mind; he had neither patience to collect and observe facts, nor conscientiousness in reasoning upon them; prejudice directed his every thought, and egoism pervaded all his conclusions. Excelling in speciousness, it was natural that he should think success as a politician within his easy reach; possessed by a plausible theory of government, he readily conceived himself on the heights of statesmanship, ruling the nation for its behoof.

George Gissing - Our Friend the Charlatan (1901)

It's an interesting passage this one. I couldn't read it without thinking of various political figures who fit the description rather well. David Cameron for example, but there must be many others.

Yes and Yes



We may as well add a supplementary question here - could a chatbot act as a child nutrition activist?

Monday 26 December 2022

Hunting for loopholes

Calls for crackdown on hunting 'loophole' ahead of Boxing Day parades

The League Against Cruel Sports said there were 303 combined incidents of hunt havoc (trespass, road interference and disturbing animals) and illegal fox hunting between 1 November and 7 December.

It said there were 78 reports of a fox being visibly pursued, eight reported kills and three suspected kills during that period.

Somewhere between eight and eleven foxes killed over the monitored period. As far as national importance goes on a scale of 0 to 10, I'd say that's a zero.  

Dodgy Drone

North Korean drone reaches north of Seoul

South Korean military officials say North Korea has flown several drones across their mutual border.

The "unmanned aerial vehicles" violated South Korean airspace in the border areas around Gyeonggi province, said the country's joint chiefs of staff.

One of the drones flew to the north of the capital, Seoul.

I'm no expert, but from the photo it looks as if the wings fell off. Maybe there is a connection with this story -

N. Korean air force commander executed for failing to properly maintain drones

The loss of the UAVs due to poor management was too much of a political burden to cover up, so commanders dealt with the matter with extraordinary haste

Saturday 24 December 2022

Merry Christmas


A Merry Christmas to all who venture to this little corner of the internet.   

Scrooge Repents


Christmas eve found Scrooge in his place of business, alone with his ledgers and his solitary candle. Bob Cratchit was away with a slight cold although Scrooge had a suspicion that Bob had taken time off because he was busy decorating his new house.

Scrooge sighed a curiously dissatisfied sigh. The Cratchits had moved up the social ladder since Scrooge raised Bob’s salary. Bob himself was becoming more rotund on good living, and as for that great hulking son of his, Tiny Tim –

There had been a good many changes over the last few years, Scrooge reflected, a good many changes. He sighed a deep sigh as he donned his coat in preparation for making his way home. Wearily he extinguished a single tallow candle before trudging through dark, snowy streets towards a lonely, but richly decorated home. No uncarpeted floors now.

As always on Christmas eve, Marley’s face appeared on Scrooge’s door knocker, but this time, Scrooge responded by punching the ghostly image on its ghostly nose. All he received for his pains were bruised fingers.

Later that lugubrious evening, crouched over another savoury but remarkably expensive dinner, Scrooge reflected on his years of manic generosity. All brought on by Marley’s untrustworthy ghost, Scrooge mused, and those visitations from three Christmas spirits. Thanks to their urging he was surely headed towards destitution.

“A trickle of income enough to pay Bob Cratchit his ruinous salary and keep Tiny Tim supplied with pies plus more dinner than I can eat for myself”, Scrooge muttered when a muffled step on the stair disturbed his musing. Scrooge listened intently. He had heard that sound once before

The chamber door slammed open and an unearthly voice boomed out –

“Scrooge – are you there Scrooge?”

“Of course I am. Where else would I be? I presume it is you again, Marley.” Scrooge barely troubled himself to glance around his chair to see, as expected, Marley’s spirit.

“It is I, Marley,” boomed the spirit, as if determined not to be upstaged by the chilly indifference exhibited by his erstwhile business partner.

“So where are all the chains, cash boxes and what not?” Scrooge scrutinised Marley’s spirit more closely than before. For indeed all the ponderous chain that formerly had burdened Marley’s spectre with such regretful anguish was gone. Every link, every cash box. All gone.

“All gone thanks to you Scrooge,” intoned the spirit. “Thanks to your inestimable generosity.”

“Thanks to my foolish spendthrift imbecility,” muttered Scrooge into his dinner. “My ruinous generosity,” he added bitterly.

“Once you did not believe in me,” the spirit boomed, as if anxious to change the subject.

“Oh I believe in you now,” Scrooge glared through Marley to the seat buttons at his intangible back.

“Well then,” Marley continued, “I have arranged for three spirits –“

“Oh no, oh no Marley. Not those three spirits again.”

“Three different spirits Scrooge. Three completely different spirits with an entirely different yet wholly altruistic purpose. They all appear on the stroke of one – a very good night to you Scrooge.” With that, Marley’s ghost vanished as completely as if it had an urgent appointment after a painful but necessary duty.

Reluctantly Scrooge retired for the night after a sour glance in the direction of richly expensive bed hangings which he heartily regretted purchasing in a moment of madness. He soon fell into an uneasy slumber as was his wont in those difficult days.

The church bell struck one o’clock. A deep, sonorous note, an unearthly note –

“Who is that? Who is there?” Scrooge awoke with a start, peeped cautiously through the bed hangings but all was darkness –

“Nothing.” Relieved, Scrooge lay back on absurdly expensive silk pillows when – hark! What is this? A brilliant light filtered into his by now somewhat doubting eye. Three ghostly figures stood by his bed.

“You again – and bless my soul there are three of you now. I presume you three are the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future all come together. How efficient of you, if I may say so.” Wearily Scrooge peered through the bed curtains. “That is to say my past, present and future so I should be greatly obliged if you just get on with it.”

“Certainly,” replied the spirits in unison. They immediately disappeared, only to reappear after a few seconds, laboriously pulling a huge trunk across the floor. “My word this is heavy,” said Christmas past, seating himself on the great trunk while mopping an insubstantial brow with something equally insubstantial.

“Frightfully heavy,” Christmas present added. The ghost of Christmas yet to come said nothing.

“As if hoping for a tip,” thought Scrooge. “What is in it to make it so heavy?” he asked.

“Your riches, all of your gold accumulated over all those years. Until you squandered it of course. You never did remember the lesson old Fezziwig should have taught you.”

“What lesson – ” Instantly Scrooge was transported to exactly the location of his previous ghostly visit, the workplace and abode of old Fezziwig.

Scrooge and the three spirits were just in time to catch old Fezziwig taking a break from the Christmas festivities while his employees danced on. Old Fezziwig winked at his wife and whispered quietly, “only cost a few shillings Mrs Fezziwig, only a few shillings.”

“Was old Fezziwig such a cynic?” Scrooge asked the spirits.

“No – merely a realist,” replied the ghost of Christmas past. “Nobody would suggest that he should endanger his business to celebrate Christmas. Others would suffer too were he to allow that to happen.”

“As I suffer now,” Scrooge was heard to mutter as the spirits whisked him away. “That didn’t last long,” Scrooge grumbled as the spirits unceremoniously deposited him back to his bed chamber.

“You cannot afford a longer tour, as you probably realise by now” replied the spirits. “Goodbye.” With that, the ghost of Christmas past vanished and the Christmas present stepped forward to Scrooge’s bedside.

“You, as I already know, are the ghost of Christmas present,” Scrooge gasped, still somewhat breathless after such a rapid return from such a brief spell with the Fezziwigs and his own past.

“I am the ghost of Christmas present,” replied the spectre, “and we may as well get on with it because we don’t have much time. We’ll begin where my compatriot left off.”

“But – ”

Scrooge attempted to protest at what he deemed to be undue haste, but before he could add voice to his protest he found himself in a vaguely familiar street. The ghost of Christmas present stood before him. The ghost of Christmas yet to be lurked behind.

“I already know what they are.” Scrooge pointed a trembling finger in the direction of two bulges under the spectre’s coat. A young boy and girl peeped out, but not as before, not by any means. These children were distinctly overweight for one thing.

“Spirit! are they yours? But I asked that the last time.” Scrooge could say no more.

“They are Man’s,” said the spirit again. “This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased.”

“Well their requirements are substantially unchanged from last time,” observed Scrooge, “although bodily nourishment does not appear to be wanting.”

“You are probably right, times change.” The spirit shrugged insubstantial shoulders and in a moment, both spirit and children vanished. Scrooge found himself in a familiar, sombre location, a dark and gloomy street apparently bereft of all life save Scrooge himself and the ghost of Christmas yet to be.

“Hello ghost of Christmas yet to come – we met on a previous occasion,” said Scrooge, almost cheerful as his ordeal seems to be nearing its end.

The spirit said nothing but merely pointed towards the great chest which the three spirits had transported to Scrooge’s chamber, the symbol of lost wealth.

“What am I to do with that?” asked Scrooge.

The spirit shrugged, vanished and the pure light of a snowy Christmas morning filtered through Scrooge’s bed curtains as he awoke. He leaped out of bed and rushed to his chamber window, just in time to see a boy strolling through the snow below his window, almost the same boy Scrooge had paid to deliver that huge turkey to Bob Cratchit a few short years ago.

“Hello there, little boy,” shouted Scrooge through the opened window.

“Watcha,” said the boy.

“What a delightful boy – excellent boy and probably cheap enough for what I have in mind. Hey little boy, do you know where Bob Cratchit lives?” Scrooge shouted.

“Do I know that big new ‘ouse? I should say so, old ‘un,” the boy replied.

Delighted with the boy’s response Scrooge scribbled a hasty note requiring Cratchit to attend the office for the whole of Christmas day or face instant dismissal. “Take this note round to Bob Cratchit and I’ll give you a shilling,” said Scrooge, tossing the note and the shilling down to the boy.

Scrooge slammed the window and rubbed his hands. “Sixpence would have been enough, but I’ll sell those bed curtains next,” he chuckled. “The vultures may have the old ones when I’m gone – why should I care? I’ll rebuild my fortune before that – and won’t I enjoy building it?”

Scrooge rubbed his hands again. “Gruel first, then the office” he said cheerfully.

Friday 23 December 2022

Out of the frying pan into the freezer

US faces coldest Christmas in years as Arctic storm raises 'bomb cyclone' alarm

A deep freeze enveloping most of the United States early on Friday combined with a massive winter storm to leave two-thirds of the nation under extreme weather alerts, confounding travel plans for millions of Americans.

By Thursday evening, most states from Washington to Florida were under wind-chill alerts, blizzard warnings or other winter weather advisories, the National Weather Service (NWS) reported.

The warnings affect more than 200 million people, about 60 per cent of the US population.

It's just weather of course, but an unusually warm Christmas would be climate change, increase taxes, ban fossil fuels, ban fracking, drive electric, we're all doomed, evil oil, glue ourselves to paintings, hysterical screeching Christmas.  

Freeze or screeching. Not much of a choice really.

Let's not waste the title though

Fox News calls Kate Middleton ‘Princess of Whales’

In a Fox News broadcast on Wednesday, co-hosts Bill Hemer and Dana Perino discussed how their predictions for 2022 had gone.

One of Perino’s was that the Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton, 40, would become pregnant with her fourth child, which didn’t happen.

On the screen, under the section that explained what happened instead, it said: “Kate becomes Princess of Whales after Queen Elizabeth’s passing”.

I'm thinking of an annual competition here, analogous to beauty contests. Of course we'd have a Prince of Whales too.

Either you think —

Either you think — or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you.

F. Scott Fitzgerald - Tender Is the Night (1934)

It’s an interesting word to have used - pervert. Which is the easier course to take though? Obviously the path of least resistance is to have others think for us. That’s the easier, inconspicuous and superficially virtuous path.

For a huge part of our lives, this is what we must do anyway - imitate behaviour which is accepted, including the behaviour we call ‘thinking’. We must do it simply in order to understand each other and foster social cohesion.

Imitation is not thinking though - not what Fitzgerald meant by thinking. We don’t have to make a deliberate virtue of imitation, but people do. Sometimes they even end up watching the BBC or reading the Guardian which take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes. As we know.

Thursday 22 December 2022

Surely some bits should be missing

Sheffield steel Covid memorial sculpture design revealed

A stainless steel sculpture representing a willow tree is to be installed in Sheffield as a permanent memorial to the Covid pandemic.

Mr King, an architect and sculptor, said of his winning design: "A willow has a strong trunk, which symbolises how people worked together to create the strength needed at such a difficult time.


Fine, but I don't see the missing bits to represent those who didn't work together, GPs being just one example.

Full-on Newspeak mode.

From a link kindly passed on by Sam Vega, we have the BBC in full-on Newspeak mode.

Ambulance strike: A&Es braced for influx of post-strike patients

Hospitals were quieter than normal during Wednesday's ambulance strikes, but Thursday is likely to be "very challenging" with lots of patients turning up, health bosses say.

Only the most serious 999 calls were responded to.

Jason Killens, chief executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service where 50% of ambulance service workers went on strike, warned of a rise in demand for ambulances after fewer people called 999.

He told BBC Breakfast: "I wouldn't necessarily say we got away with it yesterday - there was certainly a lot of disruption - a lot of patients that waited longer than we would have liked and there some patients that didn't get a response at all, so there is definitely an impact on communities as a result of the strike action."

It's a typical of the BBC to include a quote where patients that didn't get a response leads to an impact on communities. Not of course an impact on real people. Can't say that.

The Seven Deadly Rules

Not to be taken seriously as I just made them up before breakfast, but for budding journalists, here are the seven rules of the mass media story –

  1. Avoid insights
  2. Be entertaining
  3. Stroke existing biases
  4. Promote establishment biases
  5. Promote anxiety and fear
  6. Attack stereotyped enemies
  7. Keep it simple

Wednesday 21 December 2022

A Conscious Choice

Ambulance strike: Union fury over minister Steve Barclay's claims

Ambulance unions have reacted with anger after the health secretary said they had "taken a conscious choice to inflict harm on patients".

Steve Barclay said unions had refused to work with the government at a national level on how they would cover emergency calls during strike action.

Unison said it was "utterly shocked" by the comments, while the GMB union said they were "insulting"

So obvious it is hardly worth pointing out, but if no harm is inflicted on patients there is no point to the strike. The union language is as entertainingly formulaic as ever, as the language of disputes often is. There are many possible translations, such as these suggested below -

The words "union fury" mean "unions disagree because that's their job". 
The words "utterly shocked" mean "unsurprised".
The word "insulting" means "we're still thinking about that".

On being wrong

The Wise do at once what the Fool does at last. Both do the same thing; the only difference lies in the time they do it: the one at the right time, the other at the wrong.

Baltasar Gracián - The Art of Worldly Wisdom (1647)

Here’s an imaginary situation. Suppose you are arguing with a person we’ll refer to as X. You and X are arguing about a media report. The report is so obviously misleading that you describe it as indistinguishable from a lie but X does not even agree that it is misleading.

A common enough situation, so suppose we focus on why X is so unwilling to identify the obvious lie. One simple explanation is that X is not so only unwilling, but also unable to identify the lie. Spotting media lies is an ability which X may not have sufficiently developed. Maybe X lacks a level of analytical ability analogous to the ability to solve crossword puzzles. Unwilling or unable? Unable is often simpler.

Usually we put this issue down to different attitudes or viewpoints, but it is worth exploring a simpler idea – X may be unable to do the sceptical analysis. This ability-based scenario seems arrogant of course, but it is simple and fits what we frequently have to deal with.

We navigate through life by avoiding surprises, which are anomalous situations requiring brain work to resolve them. It is more energy-efficient to avoid such situations so we evolved to do just that. Suppose we look at one common anomaly well worth avoiding - being wrong. Usually, being wrong about something is socially negative and best avoided, so we do avoid it.

We could push this along by crudely dividing the population into two general outlooks, the orthodox outlook and the sceptical outlook. We all possess both of course, but years of browsing the internet suggest to this observer that sceptical ability is far from being evenly distributed through the population. There are some incisively sceptical minds out there, but only other sceptics appear to be listening.

The orthodox tend to give their allegiance to power, majority, authority and virtue.

Sceptics tend to withhold their allegiance in favour of analytical scepticism.

Both of these general outlooks go some way to avoid being wrong and in that respect both are successful. Ironically, the orthodox have a greater likelihood of not being wrong than sceptics because they have the power to deny that wrong really is wrong. The power of perception does the rest.

Sceptics also have an effective avoidance strategy. They put a greater emphasis on the importance of uncertainty, on a wider range of possibilities, on avoiding the possibility of being wrong at some future point.

Inevitably, the orthodox always have too much power and too little sceptical ability. Psychological manipulators such as the Nudge Unit have an inbuilt tendency to downgrade this ability even further, and in so doing, make things even worse. It’s in the system.

Tuesday 20 December 2022


Jeremy Clarkson's column about Meghan becomes most complained about ever

It comes as a letter was signed by a total of 64 MPs after the former Top Gear presenter's "hateful" remarks about the Duchess of Sussex sparked backlash.

The regulator said the piece, which has since been removed from The Sun's website at Clarkson's request, had received more than 20,800 complaints as of 5pm on Tuesday.

A tiny percentage of the adult population complains, so presumably we should call it a tiny backlash. A more urgent issue is whether the complainers are supporting Meghan or expressing hatred of Clarkson. Are these hate complaints? 

I hate more than I love. All we humanitarians and pacifists have hatred as our mainspring.

John Buchan - Mr Standfast (1919)

I lack the essential spark


People of a certain age may remember the actor Dennis Price.

In the book British Film Character Actors (1982), Terence Pettigrew wrote that Price's most successful screen characterisations were "refined, self-centred, caddish and contemptuous of a world inhabited by inferiors. Everything about him was deceptive. He could be penniless and still manage to look as if he owned the bank. But behind all that grand talk and lordly ways, there skulked, in his characters, the most ordinary of shabby, grasping souls."

Things didn't go well for Price in later life, with gambling, financial difficulties and alcoholism all taking their toll. I always thought he was at his best as a caddish comedy actor, but his quote below is one I remember. Not many people in public life would care to go this far, however appropriate it may be.

I am a second-rate feature actor. I am not a star and never was. I lack the essential spark.

Monday 19 December 2022

Is that a hamster I see before me?

Derby sceptic-turned-psychic saw spirit of hamster rising from its body

Author Helen Ellwood, who has written the new book Love, Death and Beyond about her experiences, also claims to have had dreams that predicted the future

A Derby sceptic-turned-psychic has described how seeing the soul of her friend’s dead hamster rising from its body has led to hearing messages from other deceased animals.

Helen Ellwood, 64, a trained occupational therapist who lives in Allestree, says after a sceptical early life she has found an unspecified faith in an afterlife, now describing herself as “slightly psychic”.

I can't think of anything to say about that. Nope - nothing has come to me apart from visions of little transparent rodents floating through the air.

Politics and Inflated Balls

I'm not a great user of the electric television apparatus, so when Scrobs suggested Gary Neville as a Dork of the Year candidate I saw a need to be more familiar with Neville's dorkish qualities. 

Strewth - it's painful to watch.

Sunday 18 December 2022

No draw for you my lad

No apology for you, Harry! Duke told Firm will remain silent until he 'admits his fault'

Prince Harry has been told that the Royal Family will remain silent and will not issue an apology until he "admits his fault" in the ongoing disputes. The Duke and Duchess of Sussex made a series of explosive and incendiary claims in their Netflix docuseries aired last week and watched by millions around the globe.

It is now claimed that the former Royal couple wants a face-to-face meeting with members of the Firm to talk through their grievances.

In particular, they are said to want the Royal Family to acknowledge the pain and hurt they put the couple through.

Usually, when chess players find themselves in a losing position, they don't suggest a draw to the other player. It's cheeky. They certainly don't ask the other player to resign unless as a joke.

Harry's royal connection is a losing position, because time rolls on, interest wanes and that's all the creepy couple have. One of them probably knows it.

EU settles angels on head of a pin question

European Union negotiators reached agreement early on Sunday morning (18 December) to reform the EU’s Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS), the biggest carbon market in the world and the bloc’s flagship climate policy instrument.

The ETS currently caps the emissions of around 10,000 factories and power plants, allowing those with surplus credits to make a profit by selling CO2 permits on the market.

The scheme is now being extended to cover more sectors of the economy in order to align with the EU’s 2030 climate goal – a commitment to reduce net emissions by 55% before they are eventually brought down to zero by 2050.

Offer a career, a salary and status - the useful idiots will flock to your door.  

Saturday 17 December 2022

Mending the fire

At the hairdresser today, Mrs H heard a term neither of us has heard for decades. The hairdresser was describing her solid fuel fire at home and mentioned 'mending the fire'. It's a term we were both familiar in the days of coal fires and no central heating, but we'd forgotten it for so long it now sounds a little odd.

Anyhow, the wood burner has been burning well but it needs mending so I'll chuck on another log.

Another small step

Damp walls and poor insulation: Thermal images show life inside England and Wales' coldest neighbourhoods

A new series of thermal images by photojournalist Grey Hutton - and released by Friends of the Earth - shows the impact of the energy crisis in some of the 100 coldest neighbourhoods in England and Wales.

As we know, Friends of the Earth is one of the outfits pushing the orthodox climate change narrative. In their small way, they helped cause the problem, yet even a cold spell can be turned into a virtue-signalling stunt.  

It feels more sinister than that though. Imagine local councils with thermal imaging inspectors for example. Another small step towards your house not being your house in any meaningful sense. 

Friday 16 December 2022

Talking festive booze could be next

Gin swizz! M&S sues Aldi claiming the discount chain copied look of their 'very Instagrammable' light-up festive bottles of gin

Marks & Spencer is suing supermarket chain Aldi for allegedly copying the look of their 'very Instagrammable' light-up festive gin bottles.

The British retailer has taken its German rival to the High Court, claiming it has infringed the design of its 'light up gin bottles' sold during Christmas 2020, which M&S says had a 'wow factor' that 'got the nation talking'.

I suppose illuminated gin bottles have a 'wow factor' but not in the sense suggested. How about talking festive booze for next Christmas, or has that already been done?

Dork of the Year candidates

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

2021 Jacinda Ardern
2020 Prince Harry
2019 Jo Swinson
2018 The British Electorate
2017 Michael Heseltine
2016 Mark Carney
2015 Ed Miliband
2015 Naomi Klein

All worthy winners, but what about 2022? As Mrs H said recently, the world becomes sillier week by week. The silliness comes from an uncountable number of Qualifying Dorks so an annual award becomes ever more difficult, even though Joe Biden currently appears to have an unassailable lead.

However, we do have a preliminary list of Qualifying Dorks, culled from the hordes of usual suspects. As in previous years, it may be expanded as suggestions arise.

Joe Biden
Jill Biden
Hunter Biden
Sir Keir Starmer
Gordon Brown
Prince Harry
Matt Hancock
David Attenborough
Angela Rayner
Marlene Headley
Jane Fonda
King Charles
Prince William
Gary Lineker
Eddie Izzard  

Comfortably Mad

Both the characteristic modern parties believed in a government by the few; the only difference is whether it is the Conservative few or Progressive few. It might be put, somewhat coarsely perhaps, by saying that one believes in any minority that is rich and the other in any minority that is mad.

G.K. Chesterton - What's Wrong with the World (1910)

A characteristic which seems to have evolved into both major UK parties and their more influential supporters being comfortably mad. Not necessarily rich, but certainly comfortable financially. And mad of course. Even their professed virtues are mad.

Political madness is a barrier to entry, keeps out the troublesome sceptics. If they ever do breach the barrier the solution is obvious - tell the servants to pile on more madness.

Thursday 15 December 2022

Don't tell the proles


Can't unclap them now

Who is striking? How Thursday 15 December’s walkouts will affect you

Christmas may be very close but when it comes to strikes good tidings are in short supply.

On Thursday nurses will walk out in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. The advice is this: if you haven't heard your appointment is cancelled, assume it's going ahead. There's no need to call your local hospital to check.

Meanwhile our Tesco delivery driver will arrive later today as they always do unless something actually breaks down. In spite of the cold weather, he'll be cheerful and chatty too, because they always are.  

Oh - and yesterday I contacted a local locksmith because the lock on our back door had given up working. I told him it wasn't an emergency, but later that afternoon he had an hour spare so he came and fixed the lock in freezing conditions just before nightfall. For him it was another earner before Christmas and for us a fixed lock. Incentives on both sides.

Wednesday 14 December 2022

The NHS will never have enough staff

Fiona Bulmer has a useful CAPX piece on staffing levels within the NHS.

Without reform, the NHS will never have enough staff

It is accepted wisdom that the NHS is desperately short of staff. We regularly hear reports of the record number of vacancies and the need to use expensive agency cover. Yet the NHS in England employs the full time equivalent of 1.2 million people, nearly 200,000 more than they did in 2012. The increases in staff numbers are accelerating. The Institute for Fiscal studies has found there are 10.7% more nurses and 10.2% more hospital consultants than in 2019. The government is also on course to meet its target of having an extra 50,000 nurses in place by 2024.

The whole piece covers familiar ground but is well worth reading. For example, this paragraph makes a telling point.

Much of the problem is that NHS lacks many of critical elements of good organisational management. The fact that 12600 operations were cancelled last year due to administrative errors is just one indicator of this. Huge amounts of money has been wasted on commissioning management consultants to identify solutions but their reports are never implemented because the culture of the NHS resists and subverts any such changes in working practices.

In my experience, worthwhile reform of the public sector certainly can be subverted from within, and not necessarily at a senior level.


When shall we three meet again?
In thunder, lightning, or in rain?

When the hurly-burly’s done,
When the Netflix milk is gone.

That will be ere the promised sum.

Where the place?

Within the breach.

There to meet with Macmeg.

I come, Fey Markle.

Ginger calls.


Fair is foul, and foul is fair;
Hover through the Montecito air.

Tuesday 13 December 2022

The Manufacture of Mediocrity

Government offices are part of a great scheme for the manufacture of the mediocrity necessary for the maintenance of a Feudal System on a pecuniary basis — and money is the foundation of the Social Contract.

Honoré de Balzac - Melmoth Reconciled (1835)

It’s an intriguing speculation – do governments deliberately manufacture mediocrity? Of course they do, the speculation is no such thing, it’s an observation. This is not merely cynical, governments do need mediocrity to control progress and change and keep democracy at bay.

Suppose governments were to base their actions on a dispassionate search for truth, the most objective way to assess any situation, the most practical approach, the most even-handed way forward, the system least open to corruption and so on.

All this would be highly democratic because these approaches are open to all. It would be too democratic, too open, too exposed to a change of direction when better approaches come to light, too flexible and not naturally hierarchical. Mediocrity and hierarchy are linked. Not in all hierarchies, but in government they are linked.

Government hierarchy needs mediocrity if the government answer is to take unambiguous precedence over the best answer. At least until government is able to absorb the best answer and claim it as its own. Often enough, that means never.

The magic of 192

Tuesday 13 December 2022

Breakthrough nuclear fusion experiment could 'revolutionise the world' with clean energy

The experiment involved 192 high-powered laser beams being fired at a capsule containing the elements deuterium and tritium, heating it to a temperature of more than three million degrees centigrade - thus briefly simulating the conditions of a star.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

Laser fusion test results raise energy hopes

An article in Science showed the plasma is far less of a problem than expected.

The report is based on the first experiments from the National Ignition Facility (Nif) in the US that used all 192 of its laser beams.

Along the way, the experiments smashed the record for the highest energy from a laser - by a factor of 20.

January 1987


A photo from January 1987 sent by microdave. I've just checked Met Office records and it was a particularly cold month, but imagine the reaction if we have something similar in 2023. 

Monday 12 December 2022

Dystopian games

Kurt Mahlburg has an interesting Mercatornet piece on Elon Musk and the Twitter files.

The Twitter Files: my paranoia has been vindicated
'Twitter is both a social media company and a crime scene,’ says Elon Musk, its new owner.

It is now without question that Twitter executives colluded with the FBI to systematically censor the speech of American citizens and a sitting American President. Their motives were political: a conclusion that is inescapable since Twitter’s leadership did their dark deeds in violation of the platform’s own policies.

Major figures at Twitter played their dystopian games while lying to the public. “We don’t shadow ban, and we certainly don’t shadow ban based on political viewpoints,” former CEO Jack Dorsey claimed during the Trump presidency.

The whole piece is well worth reading, but as we all know, highly one-sided media bias is hardly new. A Morning Star headline reminded me of that this morning - not that I needed a reminder. Creating powerfully exclusive allegiances such that even the centre ground is seen as too extreme - that isn't new either. Sceptics are never welcome in politically charged debates.

We could see a poisoned centre ground as characteristic of our times, but of course it isn't. It's an old tactic which isn't likely to fall out of use however much we may deplore it.  

Net Zero Memory

Many older people must still remember those tiny bedroom fireplaces where a fire was only lit if someone was ill and even then, not much heat was generated. Our nineteen thirties house has them, but they are boarded over now.

A chap is bound to wonder if Net Zero is driven entirely by people with no memory of how cold a UK house can become in winter without what we now think of as adequate heating. I've used this quote before, but it illustrates an issue which appears to come ever closer.

In the middle of the night Edwin kept watch over Auntie Hamps, who was asleep. He sat in a rocking-chair, with his back to the window and the right side of his face to the glow of the fire. The fire was as effective as the size and form of the grate would allow; it burnt richly red; but its influence did not seem to extend beyond a radius of four feet outwards from its centre.

The terrible damp chill of the Five Towns winter hung in the bedroom like an invisible miasma. He could feel the cold from the window, which was nevertheless shut, through the shawl with which he had closed the interstices of the back of the chair, and, though he had another thick shawl over his knees, the whole of his left side felt the creeping attack of the insidious miasma.

A thermometer which he had found and which lay on the night-table five yards from the fire registered only fifty-two degrees. His expelled breath showed in the air. It was as if he were fighting with all resources against frigidity, and barely holding his own.

Arnold Bennett – These Twain (1916)

Even Santa has to be trained


From Bill R

Sunday 11 December 2022

It wouldn't be Christmas without sweetened water


Thin Ice

We woke up to unusually unpleasant weather this morning. Cold, grey and damp with the hills shrouded in mist, so Mrs H and I toddled off to Matlock for a stroll and a coffee. The roads were dirty too, with a fine spray of brownish gunk from passing lorries spattering the windscreen. Almost anything is better than staying in all day though.

The boating/duck pond in the park was about half covered in surprisingly thick ice and Mrs H wondered how long it would be before someone, somewhere managed to kill themselves falling through ice which turned out not to be thick enough. Not long apparently -

Solihull lake rescue: 'Number of people' in 'critical condition' after falling through ice as search continues

Reports from the scene and videos on social media indicate that people had been playing on the icy pond and had fallen through, the fire service said.

I hope they are okay, but it reminded me of a story I read only a few weeks ago. I was skimming through a book of stories for boys published in the nineteen thirties, mostly looking at the illustrations of the period. There was a typical story about a dramatic rescue of someone who had fallen through the ice on a frozen lake.*

We may ask why people do these things, well knowing that every year there are likely to be similar tragedies. Almost as if it's a numbers issue. Within a sufficiently large number of people, one or two will do something inexplicably foolish. It would be no great surprise if the people concerned cannot explain why they did it.

*  The rescuer was initially thought to be a bit of an outsider and possibly a rotter, but he turned out to be made of sterner stuff. Gosh.

Heavy v Light

Snow: Motorways shut amid treacherous conditions


Motorways have been closed after heavy snowfall caused a series of crashes and left drivers in treacherous conditions.

The M54 between junctions 3 and 2 in Shropshire was shut on Sunday, while major congestion was also reported on the M5 slip road to the M6.

The text below the police photo above says "Snowy conditions have shut the M54 carriageway." It would perhaps be more accurate to say "We have shut the M54 carriageway," but who does accuracy in such dramatic conditions? 

Drivers still have to be careful of course, but from the photo I'd say that's what we used to call light snow. Wouldn't stop us doing the school run for example - assuming the school hadn't closed anyway.

Saturday 10 December 2022

And Still Nobody Is Surprised

EU vice-president and Greek socialist MEP Eva Kaili is ARRESTED by Belgian police in 'Qatar lobbying scandal': Politician is suspended from her party amid corruption claims

Ms Kaili is a member of the Panhellenic Socialist Movement and was voted in as one of 14 vice-presidents in January 2022. She has been an MEP since 2014.

The BBC adds this snippet.

The day of the arrests, 9 December, is international anti-corruption day, designated by the UN and also marked by the European Parliament.

Corruption costs the EU economy between €179bn and €990bn a year, representing up to 6% of EU GDP in lost tax revenue and investment, according to a 2016 estimate cited in a document published by the European Parliament to mark the day.

And still nobody is surprised.

Friday 9 December 2022

One for Harry

Given money and a respectable position in life you had to do openly something that defied openly the social laws before you could step into a free world, and the free world into which you stepped by any such action was not free at all. It was dreadfully limited, ugly in fact, the kind of world inhabited by—well, say, by movie actresses.

Sherwood Anderson - Dark Laughter (1925)

Useless Admin

Something we notice about small local trades such as plumbers, electricians and carpenters is how many of them have poor admin. People who answer the phone, respond to enquiries, arrange quotes and invoices and follow up regular servicing visits can be quite remarkably casual.

We had an example of that this morning with a local plumber we’ve used for years. Mrs H’s parents used them for decades, so as a family we’ve probably used them for fifty years. Good plumbers too, but their admin has always been useless.

We owe them money for a recent service and they owe us for a gas fire part and a fitting date, but the person on the other end of the phone had no idea about either transaction. They don’t appear to have a simple computer system where they can look up jobs against our name and it’s been like that for years. 

Oh well – they are good at plumbing.

Thursday 8 December 2022

Professor Legutko on the EU quasi-parliament

Another tipping point

UK weather: Why is it so cold right now?

The UK is in the grip of a spell of severe cold weather, with snow and ice warnings in place in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and the east coast of England.

Forecasters think we're likely to be experiencing icy temperatures until at least early next week and maybe beyond that, but what's causing the cold snap and should we be surprised?

Naturally the word 'climate' is excluded from the article for familiar reasons. It's a tipping point. Spells of warm weather are due to climate change, but when cold spells come along, the explanation tips over into 'weather'. Simple really.

Wednesday 7 December 2022

The average person

The BBC has an interesting piece on the recent arrest of a tiny group of political nutters in Germany. The piece is interesting in the light it shines on its target audience - the Beeb's idea of the average person. A far more disturbing notion than the purported fantasies of a few fruitcakes in Germany.

Germany arrests 25 accused of plotting coup

Twenty-five people have been arrested in raids across Germany on suspicion of plotting to overthrow the government.

The group of far-right and ex-military figures are said to have prepared for a "Day X" to storm the Reichstag parliament building and seize power.

They post in support of the Sovereign Citizens movements, which at its heart believes they are immune from government rules. Ultimately this group has co-opted a range of conspiracy beliefs that push the idea evil cabals are looking to control our lives - and they've got to overthrow them.

It might sound like a pretty outlandish plot to the average person, but it's emblematic of something important.

Brass Monkeys

It’s turning very cold here in Derbyshire. The time here is about 6:35pm and it’s already freezing.

This phenomenon is the result of what climate experts refer to as a tipping point which began with the catastrophically warm weather of a few months ago. This was caused by our car exhausts, but has now tipped over into freezing cold weather caused by our car exhausts.

These catastrophic tipping points used to be known as seasons and weather before climate experts successfully monetised the issue. Fortunately, people who travel by private jet are endeavouring to rectify the situation for us.

Foolish enough to talk

The capricious influences which combine to make us happy are never so certain to be absent influences as when we are foolish enough to talk about them.

Wilkie Collins - The Fallen Leaves (1879)

It’s a rum quote this. A fascinating insight, but how are we supposed to talk about it? A bit of a bummer for psychologists and politicians too, but those silent influences are real, and any reflective person knows it. 

Gazing at rain-drenched limestone hills and valleys as droplets of rain cling briefly to the brim of my waterproof hood. A fine sight. The Derwent valley filled with early morning mist. Sunrise over misty fields.

It’s not quite happiness, gazing at uplifting sights, but a cousin of happiness. Talk doesn’t add much to it either. Just gaze, enjoy the moment and move on. Wilkie Collins was right.

All the talk in the world won’t capture such moments and won’t tell anyone how to capture them. We could even turn it around and suggest that this is where the Harry and Meghan circus falls over. All talk, talk, talk but just gaze for a moment at what they do. It’s ugly.

Tuesday 6 December 2022

Jane Fonda Discusses Climate Science


Science is for the little people.

China would be proud

An unfolding issue, but Salvatore Babones has an interesting Quadrant piece on Elon Musk and Twitter censorship.

The Twitter Censorship Files: ‘China Would Be Proud

It’s the story of the year, it’s unfolding entirely in public view, anyone could milk it—and only Fox is covering it. Twitter CEO Elon Musk passed a horde of internal e-mails to freelance journalist Matt Taibbi, documenting the platform’s extraordinary efforts to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story, and Taibbi returned the favor by publishing the best bits on Twitter. Tucker Carlson jumped on it. The rest of the mainstream media ignored it.

The piece isn't long and is well worth reading, even though we do not yet know how the issue will develop. The paragraph below sums up the problem very neatly.

The leaders of the Western political establishment, from its 99-year-old godfather Henry Kissinger through the Bidens, Clintons, Obamas, and Cheneys right down to the Romneys, Trudeaus, and Arderns, are all scared to death of the potential of social media to shape an information narrative outside of the control of their own particular social class. To a person they admire China’s governance mechanisms, and they are jealous of the media management tools that the Chinese Communist Party has at its disposal. That’s why they’re so comfortable with TikTok. From their standpoint, the more Western social media come to resemble China’s, the better.

Pointers have been obvious for some time - the Western political establishment does see China as a model for social media and the shaping of information. In a wider political sense, Klaus Schwab has referred to China as a model.

Monday 5 December 2022

From 0 to 10

Colchester, Redditch and Tunbridge Wells are UK's 'unhappiest' areas, according to survey

Torridge, in north Devon, Pendle in Lancashire and Lichfield in Staffordshire were among the towns ranked highest when a survey by the Office for National Statistics asked people how 'happy' they felt, while Redditch in Worcestershire and Tunbridge Wells, Kent, were among the lowest.

The figures are from the ONS's most recent annual well-being survey, in which people were asked to rank "how happy did you feel yesterday" from 0 to 10.

A sensible person, perfectly happy with where they live, will surely respond with a score of 0 to keep house prices down and discourage hordes of visitors. 

It's a reminder of how the climate narrative works. People are effectively asked to rank "how happy did you feel yesterday about the world coming to an end because of climate change" from 0 to 10. A sensible person would respond with a score of 10 to that one.

This is weird

N. Korea accelerates efforts to raise status of the Kim dynasty’s next generation

The North Korean government recently disseminated a document emphasizing the revolutionary work conducted by members of the “Mount Paektu bloodline” and organized a related lecture for senior cadres, Daily NK has learned.

The document about the Mount Paektu bloodline, which is said to have been jointly composed by the Propaganda and Agitation Department and the Organization and Guidance Department, described “all the precious children of the Mangyongdae lineage and the Mount Paektu bloodline” as being “the holy foundation for the completion of our revolutionary work,” the source said.

North Korea may be distant and deranged, but the whole piece is worth reading as an extreme example of political deification.   

But high-ranking sources in North Korea agree that Kim’s recently debuted daughter has not been chosen as the successor who will carry on the family line.

“The daughter revealed to the public cannot become the successor. If she were to be the successor, she wouldn’t have been shown holding her father’s hand or being carried like a child,” another high-ranking source told Daily NK.

Idolization consists of the process of deifying a leader who was born with unique qualities that set them apart from the masses. Therefore, the leader being idolized cannot be depicted as a weak child in need of protection, the source said.

Weird but fascinating as a deification thread running in various guises and degrees throughout human history.

Sir Keir shifts the blame

Politics latest: Keir Starmer outlines 'blueprint' for a Labour government - written by ex-PM

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer outlines a "blueprint" for his party in government, drafted by Gordon Brown - including a pledge to abolish the House of Lords and ban almost all second jobs for MPs.

Sir Keir thinks we have two key government issues to resolve - the House of Lords and too much outside experience. 

Hmm - 

Sir Keir suggests that these are the issues which go a long way to explain why the House of Commons is so useless. Of course, he is not likely to see things that way at all, but it shifts the blame and he probably hopes Labour voters and potential Labour voters are dim enough to swallow it. He may well be right. 

Sunday 4 December 2022

Numbers and the Grauniad


A strange message encountered on a recent Guardian website visit. I only visit the place occasionally while browsing the latest mainstream nonsense. 52 articles in the last year sounds about right for the Guardian - one per week. 

Surely that can't make me one of the top readers globally. If so, the Guardian would be facing an unprecedented catastrophic tipping point. Can't be right.

Simplest explanation - it's the Guardian and numbers. 

Royal Mail

Currys has stopped using Royal Mail due to strikes

Currys has stopped using Royal Mail for parcel deliveries "for now" following a wave of strike action at the postal services firm.

Alex Baldock, chief executive at the electronics retailer, said Currys used Royal Mail for "relatively few, smaller parcels".

The business was "easily switchable to another provider", he said.

If we were buying something online from Currys, this would be a plus for us. When we buy anything online, we prefer suppliers who do not use Royal Mail. From our perspective, the business is better than it was, but does not seem to have shaken off its public sector ethos. Strikes just hammer home that message. 



I don't know if this does occur outside common problems with lost files, but presumably it could be done covertly by a powerful central authority such as the Chinese government. It sounds technically feasible.

Saturday 3 December 2022

Fashionable Ignorance

Better Mad with the rest of the World than Wise alone. So say politicians. If all are so, one is no worse off than the rest, whereas solitary wisdom passes for folly. So important is it to sail with the stream. The greatest wisdom often consists in ignorance, or the pretence of it. One has to live with others, and others are mostly ignorant.

Baltasar Gracián - The Art of Worldly Wisdom (1647)

A striking aspect of modern life is the spectacle of ambitious people in pursuit of ignorance rather than truth. The greatest wisdom often consists in ignorance, or the pretence of it wrote Gracián over three and a half centuries ago and he was right. Ambitious politicians engage in fashionable ignorance because they must. Fashionable ignorance is important for oiling the wheels of social position and political power.

On the one hand, she had contact with the world of fashionable literature, on the other with that of fashionable ignorance. Mrs Lane’s house was a meeting-point of the two spheres.

George Gissing - New Grub Street (1891)

In a technical world such as ours, the pursuit of truth is a narrow and comparatively unrewarding path to tread for the politically ambitious. Facts can be checked, claims destroyed by uncertainties, dishonesty exposed. Yet fashionable ignorance may be expanded, elaborated and pursued with boundless enthusiasm. As we know.

Politically, technical matters are not important unless gross technical incompetence leads to a level of embarrassment where even the most adroit ignorance is no defence. 

Yet a crowning achievement of fashionable ignorance has been gender politics, the fabrication of a ludicrous fantasy version of human reproductive biology. Obviously it has mostly generated fake ignorance, but ignorance does not have to be genuine – merely fashionable and therefore exploitable.

Good Exercise

We've been emptying the kitchen this morning because the floor is being ripped up and replaced on Monday. Still some work to do, but the whole thing has turned out to be surprisingly good exercise. I must have walked a few miles round the house already, looking for things.

I'll be making afternoon coffee in an hour or so. I know the bits and pieces for making coffee are in in the front room somewhere. Milk is in the fridge in the hall...

Friday 2 December 2022

Youth and Propaganda

William Briggs has an entertaining piece on young people being used to promote climate change politics even though they clearly know virtually nothing about it.

Why The Continuing Appeal Of The Appeal To Non-Authority Fallacy?

Ladies and gentlemen, allow me to introduce to you proof that “climate change” has completed its transformation from Science into yet another foolish global panic grift, a grift embodied in this young lady, twenty year old Sophia Kianni.

This is the first tweet in a thread in which that young lady describes her duties.
One is to “Attend meetings with UN officers and country ambassadors to exchange ideas on how the United Nations can drive climate ambition and action to steer the planet to a path of sustainability by keeping global warming under 1.5C”.

I want to be both hyper-precise and perfectly accurate here. Sophia, like Great Thunberg before her, is ignorant on these matters. She knows almost nothing about them. The bulk of what little she does know is hyperbolic propaganda.

There is nothing this woman has to offer on this subject. Not one thing. Can she suggest better cloud parameterizations in GCMs? Does she know the amounts governments should force companies to pay in “carbon” taxes?

The whole thing is well worth reading because it raises questions as to why young people are used to promote things about which they know nothing. Briggs offers an analogy with advertising and maybe that's it, but to my mind there is something even less healthy lurking in there.

People trust non-authorities more than they trust politicians on the same subjects, because of the likability and the supposed disinterest of non-authorities. What do kids have to gain by mouthing a “carbon” tax? They must be sincere!

The Non-Authority is, after all, how much advertising works. A beautiful woman drinks a beer, a swarthy man drives a truck, a film actor endorses a pop or reverse mortgage. We buy because we like and trust these non-authorities. This fallacy is used at all levels of culture.

Funny thing is, nobody ever confesses to be taken in by it.

Buggins' turn


Ms Dixon is on the left

Chester by-election: Labour hold seat in Rishi Sunak's first electoral test

Samantha Dixon was elected with a 10,974 majority, and a 61% vote share - Labour's best ever result in the seat.

Ms Dixon said voters "are fed up with the government".

In her victory speech, she said voters had said "Rishi Sunak's Conservatives no longer have a mandate to govern".

"I don't think they believe that the Conservatives have the answers, I think they think it's Labour's turn now," she added.

A crushing comment on the democratic wit of our electorate, but Ms Dixon is probably right, they think it's Labour's turn now. Or enough do to swing it in Sir Keir Buggins' favour.

Thursday 1 December 2022

If you tell a lie big enough...

North Korea says US and South Korea ‘kneeled’ before its air force might

State media hails DPRK’s show of force earlier this month, which it claimed included 500 fighter jets and other aircraft

Meanwhile in the real world -

Digital Shuffle

Alex Klaushofer has a useful Mercatornet piece on our shuffle towards a digital society.

Sleepwalking towards a digital society: everybody’s shuffling there and nobody’s talking about it

Are convenience and security a good trade-off for surveillance and control?

As the internet becomes ever more crucial to day-to-day life, the world seems to be drifting towards a world where our personal data is no longer personal. Around half the world’s governments are looking into introducing a central bank digital currency or CBCD, with many also pushing for digital IDs.

Ten countries have launched a digital currency, with China expanding the pilot project it’s been running for the past two years. In India, the government aims to have a digital rupee in place by 2023, when the European Commission also plans to introduce legislation for a digital euro. In the US, a recent executive order from Biden has made research into a national CBDC a priority while in New York a pilot for a digital dollar has just begun.

Leading the race for digital ID is India, which started the rollout of its biometric system Aadhaar in 2009. Now, with most of the country’s 1.3 billion population having exchanged fingerprints, iris scans and photos for a 12-digital unique identification number, digital ID is effectively compulsory for participation in Indian life. Internationally, there are suggestions that the two systems should be linked. At a recent meeting between the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Groups, speakers agreed it would be good if CBDCs and digital ID were paired “as a package”.

The implications are colossal, but the World Cup comes first in the mass media game. Then people gluing themselves to art works, then celebrity angst, then hardship stories... 

Meanwhile -

Discussing the possibility of a CBDC in the UK in 2021, Sir Jon Cunliffe, a deputy Governor at the Bank of England said that programming a digital currency for commercial or social purposes is something the British government needs to consider: “You could think of giving your children pocket money, but programming the money so that it couldn’t be used for sweets,” he said. “There is a whole range of things that money could do, programmable money, which we cannot do with the current technology.”

Yet the BBC still finds time to air its obsession with unidirectional racism. Not as irrelevant as it seems of course, not with social credit systems on the horizon.

Wednesday 30 November 2022

Stress Test

Elon Musk warned by European Union that Twitter will be banned unless he sticks to bloc's digital rules - report

EU industry chief Thierry Breton made the threat during a video meeting with Musk on Wednesday, the news outlet said, citing people with knowledge of the conversation.

In a readout of the conversation provided by Breton, he told Musk: "There is still huge work ahead, as Twitter will have to implement transparent user policies, significantly reinforce content moderation and protect freedom of speech, tackle disinformation with resolve, and limit targeted advertising."

It's almost entertaining to wonder how Musk is supposed to significantly reinforce content moderation and protect freedom of speech. For the most part of course, EU bureaucrats are merely making business for themselves.

As a result, the pair agreed that the EU will carry out a "stress test" at Twitter's headquarters early next year to assess the company's compliance with the rules.

It isn't likely to be a small group of bureaucrats carrying out that "stress test" and neither is it likely to be the last test, even though it may be called something else. It's what bureaucrats do.

The Great Pretender

Jean Hatchet has a scathing Critic piece on Eddie Izzard.

The Great Pretender

When does acting stop and real life begin?

Former Sherlock Holmes, Robert Downey Jr, once said, “I know very little about acting. I’m just an incredibly gifted faker.”

It is perhaps a blueprint for acting that Eddie Izzard is tempted to adopt in excess. So much so that he blatantly attempts to blur the lines between acting and his real life, to the point where we might wonder when Eddie is acting and when he stops. Is it when he says he’s a woman and puts on a dress and stiletto boots, or when he plays the part of a man, as a man, for a huge salary?

Familiar territory, but well worth reading as a reminder that celebrities rarely seem to resist the temptation to treat the rest of us as fools. It is no great stretch to conclude that the entertainment industries generally treat us as fools.

I can see why Eddie doesn’t choose “girl mode” when he seeks a film role. Eddie is not a girl, because he’s 60 years old — and he’s not a woman because he’s a man. His commitment to “womanning” seems to be secondary to his desire for top billing. A woman by contrast can take off her lipstick and whistle. No one will come and offer her the role of Sherlock. Izzard knows this very well.


I once knew a chap who would agree with something I said with the single word “correct”, as if marking my words with a tick. He also appeared to see himself as personally acquainted with God, so maybe he also saw the word “correct” as appropriate. Correctness does come from above.

Ki K'ang was consulting him about the direction of public affairs. Confucius answered him, "A director should be himself correct. If you, sir, as a leader show correctness, who will dare not to be correct?"

Analects of Confucius

It’s an old form of social control, the idea of correct behaviour, correct language, correct appearance. Very much top down as Confucius made plain to Ki K’ang, and it seems to have remained this way for a long time. Trickle down correctness we could call it.

“Next stop Euston!” The worlds of pleasure and of business meet on that platform to await the great train with its two engines. The spacious pavement is crowded with the correctness of travelling suits and suit-cases; it is alive with the spurious calm of those who are about to travel and to whom travelling is an everyday trifle.

Arnold Bennett - Whom God Hath Joined (1906)

Yet in a world of mass communication, suppose the whole notion of correctness were to be seized by political reformers and progressives. Suppose they were to correct our ideals of correct behaviour in all its multifarious aspects - from political to academic to arguments about football. How would we correct spurious ideas of correctness?

No sagacious man will long retain his sagacity, if he live exclusively among reformers and progressive people, without periodically returning into the settled system of things, to correct himself by a new observation from that old standpoint.

Nathaniel Hawthorne - The Blithedale Romance (1851)

There is no obvious way back to the settled system of things because that was merely whatever worked socially and politically at the time. In our time, many old but pragmatic ideals do not have to work as they did in the past. Not until corrected by the impersonal workings of reality, by which time, reformers and progressive people have moved on.

Those reformers and progressive people are busy laying their incompetent hands on what were fairly pragmatic ideals of correctness. We have seen it for decades. Workable, practical ideals are nudged to one side by doctrinal experiments from the fevered minds of academics, political fanatics, useful idiots and power-hungry calculators.

Correctness is often experienced as a sense of what is handed down from above, whatever ‘above’ might be, but that too can be manipulated. Celebrities ought not count as ‘above’ but they do. Even Prince Harry, even Greta, even... but the list is too long.

Our older sense of correctness was always shallow and potentially vulnerable with nothing deeper to get hold of apart from a feeling that it was 'the right thing to do' and generally seemed to work. Yet even the sense that it worked may be labelled as politically incorrect and many people don’t want to know why – it goes no deeper. That’s the vulnerability of it.