Wednesday 31 August 2022

No facts, only opinions and feelings

Princess Diana broke the mould - but did the Royal Family learn the lessons?

What happened with the Sussexes has made people question whether the royals really did learn from the fallout from her divorce, the public outrage after her death and the accusations that the Royal Family was out of touch.

Twenty-five years on, it is still impossible to imagine how two boys were woken up and told their mother had died in that car crash.

A heartbreaking family tragedy that rapidly became a moment of global mourning. An anniversary the world still talks about today.

Absurdly sentimental guff of course. Diana's death never was a moment of 'global mourning', whatever that means. Yet her status as saintly victim of an out of touch Royal Family seems to have become the good citizen's standard narrative, so maybe the guff is aimed at them. Yet as Edward Fitzgibbon says in in a not entirely unrelated TCW piece.

How ‘being a good citizen’ could kill civilisation

EVEN a casual perusal of the social and political history of Europe, particularly since the Second World War, will reveal a phenomenon of such importance that it is difficult to overstate its potential to make civilisation unsustainable.

I refer to the creeping tide of moral relativism and left-wing social deconstructionism, which could be defined as ‘my truth is whatever I want it to be’. There are no facts, only opinions and feelings.

The Blatnoy

Douglas Century has an interesting Tablet piece on Jewish gangsters thriving precariously on the corruption of the Soviet Union.

The following excerpt is adapted from “The Last Boss of Brighton: Boris ‘Biba’ Nayfeld and the Rise of the Russian Mob in America.” The book chronicles the rise and fall of Nayfeld, the notorious Belarusian-born Jewish mobster who ran a global racketeering empire in the 1980s, 1990s, and early 2000s from his homebase in the Little Odessa neighborhood of south Brooklyn. The following excerpt picks up in the Soviet Union, when he had, in his late-20s, become a full-fledged blatnoy—literally, a “guy with connections”— but common Russian argot for a gangster, a “professional criminal,” a young man willing to risk everything to line his pockets through the Soviet Union’s flourishing black market, known as making money na levo or “on the left side.”

The whole piece is well worth reading as it highlights how corrupt and dangerous the Soviet Union was.

Across the USSR, under the blat system, embezzling from the state was taking place on a vast scale. All it took was knowing the right factory managers, paying off officials. “You could make a fortune in the ’70s if you were smart, had some balls and the right connections,” Boris says. “We didn’t even think of it as ‘organized crime’ yet. To us, it was survival—making a living under the corrupt communist system. Some guys did it with the underground factories. I did it with my work crews. I’d go out to Siberia each season, put together a crew, and pocket my cut from dead souls. Once the season was over, I’d come back to my hometown loaded with black cash.”

The dangerous aspect was the risk of being shot for having too much money outside the protection of the Soviet state and the communist party.

At this time in the Soviet Union, if you were caught in possession of anything over ten thousand rubles, you were looking at the death penalty. The best-case scenario meant fifteen years in prison and confiscation of all property. You’d end up broke and barefoot. The worst case was execution by firing squad.

Tuesday 30 August 2022

Nonsense on steroids

UN appeals for $160m in emergency funding after Pakistani floods

Pakistan has been devastated by flooding in recent days, with more than 1,150 people killed and nearly half a million people displaced.

"Pakistan is awash in suffering," UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said in a video message for the launch of the appeal.

"The Pakistani people are facing a monsoon on steroids… people's hopes and dreams have washed away."

A desperate situation, but absurdly flowery language from a career bureaucrat doesn't help. Guterres has form in this respect.

The United Nations secretary general, António Guterres, issued a dire warning on Monday to representatives from 40 countries at the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, calling for more concrete action to tackle what he called a “climate emergency.”

“We have a choice,” Mr. Guterres said in a video message. “Collective action or collective suicide. It is in our hands.”

Retirement Party

Moqtada al-Sadr: At least 15 dead amid fighting in Iraqi capital

At least 15 people have been killed in clashes between Iraqi security forces and supporters of a powerful Shia cleric in the capital, Baghdad.

Officials say dozens more were injured after protesters loyal to Moqtada al-Sadr stormed the presidential palace.

The violence began after Mr Sadr announced his retirement from politics.

I hope we don't see something similar when Justin Welby retires from politics.

Monday 29 August 2022

On Its Knees - Again

‘A horrible winter lies ahead’: next PM will inherit an NHS on its knees

In a television studio in Stoke-on-Trent last month, Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak traded blows over everything from credit card economics to Channel migrants to the accessories chain Claire’s. The list of issues the pair clashed over was dizzyingly long.

There was one glaring omission, however. In the hour-long debate there was not a single mention of the NHS – despite being engulfed in its biggest ever crisis. The NHS now shares the same traits as many of those relying upon it to keep them alive and well: it is elderly, has multiple comorbidities, and is in dire need of emergency care. Summer has left it on its knees. Worse is expected this winter.

The NHS never adopts any other posture, it is always on its knees, especially in Guardian land. The NHS is too old and needs replacing with a model borrowed from a better health service elsewhere. A new public teat to suck on won't haul it up off its knees because it thinks that is where it belongs. 

Has anyone ever heard of the NHS on its feet, nipping around cheerfully doing its job while keeping our spirits up with an endless stream of medical optimism? I haven't.

A Strumpet Nation

Donald Forbes has a piece in TCW on President Macron's difficulties.

AS HIS country returns to work after its two-month summer break, President Macron has delivered a grim message about what is in store for France and by extension for its EU allies: the fat years are over.

An accumulation of crises signals a future of which the disruptive Covid lockdowns were only a foretaste...

With this in mind, his remarks to the first post-holiday meeting of his ministerial cabinet were broadcast live so that the public could share his account of the difficulties ahead and hear his plea for national solidarity and for sacrifice from a fickle nation which is divided against him in the National Assembly.

What stuck in everyone’s mind is that he considers ‘abundance’ to be a thing of the past.

It is worth reading the whole thing, but I'll just finish the post with one of the comments as I can't resist a solid piece of invective. These difficult times certainly deserve invective. An abundance of invective perhaps.

France should be a prosperous and stable nation but it is a strumpet 'nation' sold itself off to the empire and la cinquieme republique run by a series of megalomaniac clowns with grand delusions but no clue about small state necessity. Maas immigration, a banking system flat broke and breathing fumes, inflation running rampant, it's nuclear fleet on its knees and imminent energy rationing, a state sector unaffordable and somehow the circus is still going, oh yeah funny money/ecb bond purchasing. A mental dwarf in charge. Crikey the UK by comparison is a success story - but that ain't saying much.

Sunday 28 August 2022

Good Runner

Princess Diana's Ford Escort sells for £650K at auction

A car which was used by the late Diana, Princess of Wales has sold for £650,000 at auction.

Princess Diana, who died nearly 25 years ago, drove the black Ford Escort RS Turbo for nearly three years from August 1985.

She was pictured with the car outside the boutique shops of Chelsea and in Kensington.

The car, registration C462FHK, was eventually sold by Silverstone Auctions in Warwickshire to a buyer in Cheshire.

I never understood the sentimental fog surrounding Diana. Still don't. We sold our Ford Escort for about £250 although it wasn't an RS Turbo had a high mileage and was a swine to start on cold, damp winter mornings.

Imagine driving to Tesco in Diana's car, nobody would know what it was. Even if it had a auction house provenance document in the window, there would still be a credibility problem.

Saturday 27 August 2022

Long-lasting effects

Some people won't agree with this CAPX piece by Laura Dodsworth and I'm one of them. Yet it is well worth reading as a reminder of what happens when governments meddle in psychological manipulation. 

More evidence – as if it were needed – that ministers terrified the public into complying with lockdown

When one of the highest ministers in the land admits the British public was deliberately ‘scared witless’ by the Government, it’s time to face the music. And what depressing music – its drumbeat was fear and the cadence was gloomy.

In an interview in The Spectator, Rishi Sunak has revealed that the Government used targeted messaging to frighten the public and stifle dissent. This is no surprise to me, because advisors to the government broke cover to share their concerns about nudge and fear-mongering for my book A State of Fear. Simon Ruda, one of the founders of the Nudge Unit reflected in Unherd that ‘the most egregious and far-reaching mistake made in responding to the pandemic has been the level of fear willingly conveyed on the public’. The recommendation to ‘raise the level of personal threat among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging’ was even minuted by SPI-B in March 2020.

I didn't see any evidence of people being terrified by the pandemic, but the government certainly managed to instil compliant, we're all in it together, clap the NHS, follow the rules anxiety in far too many people. Much of the anxiety seemed to be anxiety about not following the rules. Plus priggish anxiety about other people not following the rules. 

When governments have yet another bash at psychological manipulation, they appear to be no better at it than they are at everything else. Unless instilling fear wasn't the game being played which it probably wasn't.

Sunak explains that one of his big concerns about fear was that it can have long-lasting effects. This is known to disaster planners: fear makes recovery harder. We can still see the effects of it now, in the trigger happy calls for masks or lockdowns whenever case rates go up. He singled out the gruesome posters showing Covid patients on ventilators, but fear was amplified and weaponised in many more ways.

Those long-lasting effects are surely far more complex than fear. Contempt for government by expert is one, contempt for the media is another. On the other side of the political fence, the casual acceptance of a thoroughly totalitarian political ethos is yet another. That's the sinister one, the one we should fear.

Mole People


Friday 26 August 2022

Unconscious Disappointment

Today we trundled back home after a very pleasant two weeks by the seaside. It was a reasonable journey back up the M5, although the bank holiday traffic heading south seemed heavy. As usual it felt good to be going in the opposite direction.

This evening found me back home preparing the evening meal and for some reason I noticed our cutlery and how different it feels in the hand when compared to the cutlery in our holiday cottage. How boring to notice that you may think, as I do.

It’s not only boring for a chap to find himself noticing the feel of cutlery, but disappointing too. Presumably my unconscious mind had accustomed itself to the tactile nature of cutlery supplied in holiday cottage.

Which I suppose is okay, but when I do get a glimpse of my unconscious mind beavering away, I’d prefer it to be grappling with something interesting, profound or even a little spooky. The tactile nature of knives and forks is a very long way from any of those things and that’s disappointing. I blame the BBC.

A Problem Problem

It is not necessary to fathom the ground or the structure of everything in order to know what to make of it. Stones do not disconcert a builder because he may not happen to know what they are chemically; and so the unsolved problems of life and nature, and the Babel of society, need not disturb the genial observer, though he may be incapable of unravelling them. He may set these dark spots down in their places, like so many caves or wells in a landscape, without feeling bound to scrutinise their depths simply because their depths are obscure.

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

Wake up and smell the coffee - we’ve all heard that one, it’s too common to be anything but a cliché even though it encapsulates a problem we often have when arguing against conventional but blatantly dubious points of view. Sometimes conventional viewpoints seem to owe more to dreamlike fantasy than analysis, as if those who subscribe to them really should wake up and smell the metaphorical coffee. 

We navigate through life by avoiding surprises because surprises have to be resolved and that involves effort and risk. Avoiding surprises is the low risk, low effort way to go. Also the most efficient in that we avoid unnecessary expenditure of energy, especially cerebral energy. What counts as a surprise though?

In one sense, a surprise is problem to be resolved, but here we seem to have a key difference in how people perceive certain social and political problems. Not a sharp difference with no overlap, but one of those fuzzy differences which are nevertheless real and important.

We could attempt to clarify this by saying that some people are reality-bound. They take reality as the ultimate arbiter of what counts as a problem. All problems are aspects of the real world and have to be defined as such even if they are social problems or problems of human behaviour. They navigate through life by avoiding inadequate descriptions of reality in favour of better ones. Frequently this requires us to acknowledge uncertainties without feeling bound to scrutinise their depths simply because their depths are obscure.

Others are more socially-bound, although everyone is of course both. But some people seem to sleepwalk into a social consensus they cannot analyse objectively. To do so would be deemed socially inappropriate even if uncertainties are an inescapable aspect of the problem. In these situations, socially appropriate equates to true – there is nothing beyond it. Socially inappropriate is to be ignored or made to go away.

Social hierarchies could be guided by real world problem-solvers but too often they are not. They are frequently guided by those who peddle socially appropriate answers which cannot be analysed objectively. The battle lines are drawn, the abuse begins and problem-solvers are left beyond the pale.

Then reality takes over.

Lever List

Liverpool shooting: Murder arrest over Olivia Pratt-Korbel's death

A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after a nine-year-old girl was fatally shot in her own home.

Olivia Pratt-Korbel was hit in the chest as her mother struggled with a gunman at the door of their house in Dovecot, Liverpool, on Monday.

If the eight o'clock walk were to be brought back, then I suspect a list of offers to pull the lever would not be a short list.

Thursday 25 August 2022

Walls of flimsy

Europe's record-breaking heatwave will be an 'average' summer sooner than you think

The heatwaves will kick in even if countries stick to their current climate targets, but refreezing the Arctic could curb dangerous changes, former chief scientific advisor Sir David King says.

Thus Alice built her walls of flimsy, working always gaily, or with at least the air of gaiety; and even as she rattled on, there was somewhere in her mind a constant little wonder. Everything she said seemed to be necessary to support something else she had said. How had it happened?

Booth Tarkington - Alice Adams (1921)

I think I'll pass on this one

Rumors swirl that North Korea preparing to allow people to enter country

Six informed sources tell NK News they’ve heard of changes to border controls, though some aid workers remain skeptical

Rumors are swirling that North Korea is preparing to make bold changes to its strict COVID-19 border controls, multiple informed sources have told NK News, including the possibility that both DPRK citizens and foreigners will soon be able to enter the country for the first time since early 2020.

Supper arrives too early


Wednesday 24 August 2022

An Intentionist

‘Ford will create an impression in the part; but I don’t think the piece will run.’

‘And why? Because the public is too stupid?’

‘Partly, and partly because Price is only an intentionist. He cannot carry an idea quite through.’

George Moore – Vain Fortune (1891)

Intentionist - it’s a delightful word even if dictionaries don’t rate it. We elect intentionists, we are intentionists, we bond with other intentionists and learn how to become more intentionist ourselves.

Net Zero is an intentionist debacle. Trump was hated by intentionists because he isn’t one. Joe Biden is beyond all that but didn’t intend to be.

Too young, not enough experience

Under-fire Finnish PM Sanna Marin says even politicians need fun

Sanna Marin has insisted she works hard as Finland’s prime minister but should also be entitled to a private life, after a photograph taken at her residence of two topless women kissing sparked renewed criticism of her partying.

“I am human,” Marin told reporters on Wednesday at the conference of her Social Democratic party, describing the past week as “quite difficult”. On the verge of tears, she said she too sometimes longs “for joy, light and fun amidst the dark clouds”.

Yet another example of a major political figure who is clearly too young with nowhere near enough experience. A familiar symptom of our times.

Tuesday 23 August 2022

The New Puritans


A useful video on the nature and origins of woke culture. Andrew Doyle discusses his upcoming book, "The New Puritans: How the Religion of Social Justice Captured the Western World". Particularly apt are the comparisons he makes with the Salem witch trials.

To live at someone else’s expense

Robert James paints a useful picture of the art world in TCW.

How art has been turned into a woke battering ram

Artivism: The Battle for Museums in the Era of Postmodernism, by Alexander Adams; Imprint-Academic, August 2022; £14.95, available here.

LIKE the poor, revolutionaries will always be with us, so it behoves those of us who wish to conserve the best that has been said, thought and created to understand the scale of the threat posed to museums and galleries today. Alexander Adams’s forensic examination of the problem is a very useful guide.

The term ‘artivism’ means political propaganda masquerading as art. ‘Artists’ receive funding from ‘cultural entryist’ museum directors, who have politically captured the institutions they run, then launch some ‘installation’, ‘hub’ or ‘happening’. As Adams acutely observes, this ‘art’ is left-wing without exception.

The piece is quite short and well worth reading because the problem is much wider than the art world.

What can be done? Adams is somewhat circumspect about this, losing himself in doubt about the elites’ ultimate motivations. For me, the broad answer is simple: turn off the money tap; axe the Arts Council and turn over arts funding for our major museums, galleries and orchestras to a ministerial department. That is not perfect but would at least raise the possibility of kicking out the parasite ‘artivists’ – for a while.

How you keep woke out of museum management is a more difficult problem. As Adams notes, museums and galleries have always been vulnerable to capture by the radical middle classes, whose aim is to live at someone else’s expense.

The last sentence applies all over the place. Many publicly-funded activities are vulnerable to capture by the radical middle classes, whose aim is to live at someone else’s expense. Hence the BBC, climate change, Net Zero, sustainability, dodgy charities and the mess we are in now.

Monday 22 August 2022

Activists don't really do humour

Tory conference: LGBT group unveils politics-themed condoms

Conservative activists will be offered free condoms and dental dams at this year's party conference.

The prophylactics - featuring humorous slogans such as "strong and stable" and "honourable member" - will be handed out by the LGBT+ Conservatives group.

Strewth, politics could hardly be less edifying than it is already but some people clearly think there is further to go down the primrose path. 

Although the story itself does have more than a hint of BBC malice woven into it.

Fascinatingly Horrible

A large number of disease control and security officials in Pyongyang and other parts of the country, blamed for the spread of COVID-19 in late April, were sent to political prison camps in early May, Daily NK has learned.

A source in Pyongyang told Daily NK on Monday that about 450 people from the capital and provincial regions who were “connected to the personal safety” of the North Korean leader were sent to political prison camps on or around May 12.

“They were dragged off without proper trials, and it seems completely unlikely that they’ll reenter society,” he claimed.

Imagine being dragged to a political correction camp because you failed to identify an infected person photographed while standing 20 yards from Liz Truss.  

On May 1, Kim Jong Un took a commemorative photo with Pyongyang university students and young workers who took part in the Apr. 25 military parade to mark the 90th anniversary of the founding of North Korea’s military.

Daily NK reported in mid-May that a university student who attended the photo shoot was infected with COVID-19. According to a source at the time, the authorities considered this a serious incident that could not be overlooked because it was matter connected to the personal safety of the nation’s supreme leader.

It's a harsh way to deal with official failure, whereas our standard approach of almost unconditional forgiveness is... 

Sunday 21 August 2022

A more interesting speculation

Royal family 'kept in the dark over contents of Prince Harry's tell-all memoir': Prince Charles and Prince William 'will only get to read book at the same time as public and have not been told when it will be published'
  • The Royal family has not received an advance copy of Prince Harry's memoir
  • Charles and William will get to read the book at the same time as the public
  • The family is not privy to the book's release date, which is expected this year
  • The Queen is said to be the only family member notified about Harry's book
In the dark about Harry's book is where I'll be and where I expect to stay. Any speculation that it could be interesting is misplaced - Harry simply isn't interesting. There are two interesting speculations though -

Has Meghan told Harry what's in it?
Will he receive an advance copy?

Don't mention the TV licence

Young watch almost seven times less TV than over-65s - Ofcom

Young people now watch almost seven times less broadcast television than people aged over 65, according to a report from regulator Ofcom.

It said 16 to 24-year-olds spend just 53 minutes watching TV each day, a two-thirds decrease in the past 10 years.

Meanwhile, those aged 65 and over spend just under six hours on average watching TV daily.

This "generation gap" in viewing habits is wider than ever before, according to Ofcom's annual Media Nations report.

Not something we didn't know, at least in general terms, but the whole piece manages to avoid mentioning the TV licence. Maybe the BBC hopes Sir Keir will ride to the rescue.

Saturday 20 August 2022

It's a weird, weird world where Sir Keir is the answer

Will the cost of living crisis put Starmer in No10? Labour storms ahead of the Tories with 13-point poll lead - their biggest in nearly 10 years - as public 'turns against the Conservatives' amid biggest squeeze on households in 60 years
  • YouGov has revealed that the Labour party has backing of 43 per cent of voters
  • This is Labour's biggest lead since Feb 2013, and biggest vote share since 2018
  • Tories are at their lowest figure since January during height of partygate scandal
A world where Sir Keir and Angela Rayner are the answer is a weird world indeed. There is no comfort to be drawn from the Tories losing the next election if voters simply lurch into the clutches of Sir Keir's honking gaggle of creeps and bunglers. What the blue blazes is the point of that? 

Oh well, I suppose we'll have a few laughs as the ship goes down. 

Fake Progress

Speaking exclusively of observational and experimental sciences, it is obvious that progress can be accomplished only at the cost of destroying or modifying current theories; for if a theory suffices to explain facts discovered after its promulgation, knowledge may be increased; but there is no true progress unless our general outlook is altered.

Alfred Walter Stewart aka J. J. Connington (1880-1947)

Alfred Walter Stewart was a successful academic chemist who also found the time to write four chemistry textbooks plus a series of detective novels, a few other novels and some short stories under the pseudonym J.J. Connington.

I don’t know much about old Alfred, but he comes across as a dry old stick and maybe something of a misogynist. It’s an interesting quote though - there is no true progress unless our general outlook is altered. Yet as we know, progress has come to include certain supposedly science-based political doctrines which must not be altered. The climate change narrative being one of the most obvious.

Suppose we apply Stewart’s quote to the political reality of the climate narrative. It would run something like this - there is no true progress unless our general outlook is unaltered. A sarcastic way of putting it I know, and the faithful would never put like that. Yet floods, droughts, hot, cold, snow, rain, drizzle, grey skies or blue skies all are supposedly consistent with climate doom - scientifically consistent. Genuine progress in orthodox climate science has not been possible for decades because its general outlook has to remain unaltered.

It’s the bureaucratic way – we see it in action every time our UK government and its acolytes push the Net Zero narrative. It doesn’t matter if it is not possible for the UK to make even a theoretical difference to global temperatures. Once Net Zero had been settled at government level it ossified. From that point it has not been possible to make genuine progress in UK energy research and development because our general outlook must remain unaltered.

Yet as Stewart pointed out many decades ago, it is characteristic of genuine progress that our general outlook in the observational and experimental sciences should be altered. If it isn’t altered, then the progress we have supposedly made is fake.

We could take this further. When a political establishment recruits any profession to its ranks, then progress within that profession is curtailed or even halted altogether. Journalism could be a topical example.

Friday 19 August 2022

From Ancient Rome to Richard Burgon

Matthew Lesh has a timely piece on price caps in CAPX

From Ancient Rome to Richard Burgon, price caps have always been fantasy economics

‘What is more useful–newspapers or television?’ the Soviet joke goes. ‘Newspapers, of course. You can’t wipe your arse with a TV.”

Shortages in the Soviet Union, extending from toilet paper to pretty much everything, were driven by the failure of prices to reflect anything meaningful. Prices were set arbitrarily by Gosplan, the central planning agency, based on crude estimates of input costs; rather than on the basis of actual production costs or consumer demand.

Comparisons with the Soviet Union, like those with the Nazis, are usually ridiculously hyperbolic. But recent days demonstrate that the lessons of history are often ignored and bad ideas rarely die.

Fantasy economics is back with a vengeance.

The whole piece is well worth reading, partly because it highlights how endlessly willing the political classes are to push failed policy ideas. They must know they can't work, but if enough people are prepared to accept them then they will push them. It's what they do.

The sad truth is that higher prices are necessary to send a signal that the underlying cost of products has increased. That does, unfortunately, mean that Britain is a poorer nation than it would have been. There are plenty of things we can do to try to arrest that slide and turn things around, but Soviet-style price controls belong in the dustbin of history.

Thursday 18 August 2022

Booze Boost

Japan encourages its sober young people to drink more and boost economy

The Japanese government has launched a nationwide competition to revitalise the alcoholic beverages industry which has been shrinking due to demographic changes, lifestyle choices and the coronavirus pandemic.

The country's national tax agency's Sake Viva! campaign, which runs until 9 September, asks people aged 20 to 39 to come up with ideas for new "products and designs" to "stimulate demand among young people".

This includes boosting Japanese alcoholic beverages such as sake (rice wine), beer, whiskey, wine or beer.

I have a simple idea. Show episodes of Maigret on Japanese TV and give it lots of positive publicity. I'm thinking of the version where Rupert Davies played Maigret. His character drank even while on duty trying to find the murderer - smoked like a chimney too. Could also help with the ageing population problem.

Wednesday 17 August 2022


Balls in sport: Their impact on the planet and searching for sustainable solutions

Balls are a fundamental part of many sports and millions are produced around the world each year.

Many are made of leather - it takes 35,000 cow hides to make the 700,000 balls used in a regulation NFL season - while the use of rubber and plastic is also widespread.

The materials used, the production processes and the fact many end up either in landfill or in the sea means balls can have a negative impact on the environment.

So what are the issues and can anything be done about them?

I'd like to suggest that this is a surprisingly self-aware spoof by the BBC, but I won't suggest it because it isn't.

Addressing New Waves

Most people with Omicron didn't even realise they had COVID-19, study finds

This "low level of infection awareness has likely contributed to the fast spread of Omicron," said Dr Susan Cheng.

The lack of public awareness about being infected means that people can't take steps to prevent themselves transmitting the virus further, which is a major stumbling block for addressing new waves of the pandemic.

Sounds much the same as stupidity. Those infected with it seem to be unaware that they have it and may even pass it on to other susceptible people including children and the BBC. 

Even worse, a cascade of horrors we aren't aware of may be lurking just over the horizon, waiting to pounce at even the faintest indication that normal life may finally rise from the ashes.

Crackdown Epidemic

'At last cyclists will be accountable for their actions': Motorists and taxi drivers say 'long overdue' plan for 'reckless' rider crackdown will improve road safety with cyclists forced to have number plates, insurance and obey 20mph speed limits

Mrs H and I see many examples of poor road use by cyclists. The worst in recent months was a cyclist trying to overtake me while I was navigating past light-controlled road works. Insanely risky for him, but fortunately I saw him in my mirror, slowed right down and allowed the loon to pass.

Many driver must have similar examples to relate, but even if this proposal is squashed for now, we seem to be well past the point where a constantly expanding bureaucratic juggernaut can be stopped. If we accept zero tolerance towards all public safety issues, then there is no way to exert any kind of democratic control over the central bureaucracy.  

We may as well be cynical here as well - the proposal closes a gap in the opportunities to be a police informer on our roads. Motorists can inform on each other via dashcams. Cyclists can inform on motorists in a similar way. With this new proposal, motorists will be able to inform on cyclists.    

Tuesday 16 August 2022

The blight of intransigent mediocrities

In his absence, a former work colleague was once described as intransigent by another colleague and  nobody disagreed. I liked him and we always got on well but he was intransigent, I knew that. He was seen as intransigent because he refused to support second best when something better was clearly attainable.

Odd situations arose around this chap because what he was opposing was another and more damaging kind of intransigence, the intransigence of mediocrity. There is such a thing and it is too common in the public sector.

Clearly, mediocrity is easier than excellence and from the perspective of mediocrities, mediocre outcomes are easier to achieve. With majority support they become the preferred option. Add a dash of PR and they may even become the only option and an example of how things should be done.

To my mind it’s an important problem, especially in the public sector. It is not particularly uncommon for forceful mediocrities to be intransigently mediocre. Frequently their intransigence carries the majority towards yet more mediocre outcomes.

Mediocre is usually the default state of affairs where there is little competitive incentive to do better. Most of us have to work hard to be a little better than mediocre in any event, so any forceful and intransigent mediocrity is almost certain to offset that hard work.

Hence the uphill struggle which is remarkably common in the public sector. Much of it is down to intransigent mediocrities.


Robert Colvile has a useful piece about droughts, politics and water companies in CAPX.

Knee-jerk nationalisers have no idea how the water industry actually works

It’s a pattern as predictable as the water cycle itself. Britain has a drought. The newspapers discover that billions of gallons are being wasted through leaks. There is unanimous agreement that the water companies must be punished. The Guardian calls once more for nationalisation.

It’s not just the left that get agitated. In the last few days, both Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss have weighed in to castigate the water companies for permitting too many leaks.

Ed Davey, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, has gone even further. He told The Independent that consumption targets ‘feel utterly pointless whilst Thames Water waste a quarter of all their water from leaking pipes’. He added: ‘It is time someone stood up to these companies. That should start with a sewage tax to clean up rivers they pollute and a ban on CEO bonuses until pipes are fixed.’ But this entire narrative rests on a galactic misunderstanding about how the water industry in the UK operates.

The whole thing is well worth reading, partly as an antidote to the politics and partly because it raises a useful question. How many people would take ten minutes to read a piece like this and how many prefer the knee-jerk reaction?

Of course we already know Sir Keir is a knee jerk. Sorry - I had to squeeze that one in.

I’m not trying to claim that privatisation is a panacea. There are plenty of things wrong with the current system: witness the way that the companies have piled on debt, as mentioned above. (If you want a fuller list of their failings, the best place to start is this speech by Michael Gove, during his time as Environment Secretary.)

But it’s a bit grating to hear knee-jerk calls for nationalisation from people who apparently have absolutely no understanding of how the water industry is structured, or the incentives it operates under, or the changes and improvements that have happened since privatisation.

Monday 15 August 2022

It doesn't have to be workable

Five-minute read: Is Starmer's plan to stop bills rising workable?

Credit Sir Keir Starmer for at least trying to come up with a costed plan to tackle the UK's burgeoning household energy bill crisis. It's more than Boris Johnson's zombie government or the two people vying to succeed him have done.

That said, Labour's proposals to freeze the energy price cap at the present £1,971 at best raise more questions than answers. At worst, they are deeply flawed.

As the Labour party is not the governing party, Sir Keir's plan does not have to be workable. It is a move in the Great Game aimed squarely at those who believe in the magic money tree. Magic money tree deniers are not the target audience.

Extremely Normal

Double misery for weather-weary Brits: Scorching heat turns to torrential downpours and thunderstorms in Scotland bringing 'risk to life and businesses' with flooding - but extreme rain still won't be enough to recover from driest July on record

Presumably this headline is telling us that old-fashioned torrential downpours have been upgraded to "extreme rain" by official weather upgraders. Still doesn't sound quite right though - there are so many extremes that extreme situations are becoming the normal state of affairs. 

Extremely normal I'd say.

Sunday 14 August 2022

Parking lottery

Walking back after a stroll around town, Mrs H and I saw a young woman in a battered old car trying to park by the side of the road. Her car was rather like my father's before he finally gave up driving. Dents and marks at all four corners.

She was attempting to fit her car into a tight space between two other cars, a space I certainly wouldn't have tackled. Leaning out of the window, she inched backwards and forwards and somehow it was possible to tell she wouldn't manage it. The space was just too tight.

As we continued up the road we heard the inevitable bump. The driver climbed out of her car to inspect the damage, something she must be quite familiar with by now.

Old Trousers

I think I may have discovered a new natural law. Not a fundamental law such as the second law of thermodynamics, but still an natural law. It concerns old trousers.

As we know, when trousers become too dilapidated to wear while out shopping, in mixed company or even in the pub, they tend to be downgraded to gardening or DIY trousers. However, gardening and DIY trousers are hardly ever unfit for gardening or DIY, so they tend to accumulate in the bottom of the wardrobe.

Admittedly charity collections may have made some difference to the rate at which old trousers accumulate, but this is a rate change rather than a phenomenon which invalidates the basic law. Of course, strictly speaking this isn't a new discovery of an important natural law because an enormous number of people have observed it over many years.

It possibly goes back to Neolithic times when hunting trousers were made from animal hides. When these trousers were worn out or irretrievably gashed by mammoth tusks, they may have been downgraded to spear-wipers. In which case, Neolithic spear-wipers will have accumulated via what is essentially the same natural law.


Saturday 13 August 2022

Missing Water



No crocodile and sausages

Here we are on our summer holiday by the seaside after a 4:30am start and an easy journey. As we know, it’s so sunny that the Met Office has issued an Extreme Heat Warning, yet the hordes on the beach seemed to be entirely unaware of the dangers. Most weren’t even wearing a coat or hat. Wait until the Met Office Enforcement officers arrive.

Moving on to other matters, the seaside reminds me of Punch and Judy shows and inevitably this reminds me of politics and attempts to choose a Prime Minister we didn’t vote for. That's the way to do it. 

The whole political game seems to have evolved into a kind of weirdly implausible show where Punch and Judy pretend to fight over the next batch of regulations. No crocodile and sausages though. At least that would be entertaining.

Friday 12 August 2022

Easy to forget


It's too easy to drift away from these things and forget how sinister it all was, and how easily led so many of us are. Easy to forget clapping the NHS and the flags and slogans. 

Surely the days will soon be used up

World Elephant Day 2022: History, significance and facts

World Elephant Day is celebrated on 12 August every year to raise awareness about the plight of elephants all over the world. World Elephant Day tries to highlight why these animals should be protected and what laws and measures can be enacted to ensure their survival. There are many risks that elephants face, from illegal ivory trading to increased human-animal conflict. Their habitats are also threatened by human activities. You can celebrate World Elephant Day by sharing solutions for preventing the exploitation of these majestic creatures, and by learning more about them. You can also support the non-profit organisations who work towards protecting elephants.

I've nothing against elephants, but does this mean we can't recycle August 12th as World Mongoose Day or World Sobriety Day or even World Veracity Day? 

If August 12th is lost to elephants forever, we'll only ever have 365 excitingly special days of this kind. World Veracity Day could be February 29th perhaps. Seems appropriate somehow.

Thursday 11 August 2022

A question of scale

We're whizzing off for a holiday on the south coast this weekend. Packing begins tomorrow, but according to the BBC weather forecast, we could see the maximum daily temperature fall by ten degrees over a couple of days as all this sunshine clears off. Packing the right clothes could be a headache.

Ten degrees is a large drop in temperature over a couple of days, but we'll just have to adjust. Certainly a bigger temperature change than even the most dramatic climate forecasts for this century...

oh hang on...


A few decades ago, a work colleague told me about a chap he knew who had a senior job in an English tourism outfit. I can’t recall which particular outfit it was, but this chap went all over England promoting it. He had a road atlas because this was long before sat nav came along and whenever he had to travel somewhere by car, he marked his route on his road atlas.

If he had to do the same journey again he would as far as possible follow a different route and mark that on his road atlas too. His idea was to see for himself as much as possible of the country he was promoting.

Most of us probably don’t do that, especially in the age of the sat nav. Even so, we generally find a reasonable route from A to B and stick with it. This cuts out the uncertainty of navigating a new route as the destination is mostly what matters.

A naïve analogy of government activity is that it plots routes to desirable destinations on our behalf and that’s what we vote for. A more accurate analogy suggests we should look out of the window occasionally and check the route. Governments follow routes towards destinations we did not and would not vote for. Winter 2022/23 for example.

It’s a problem with the way we are and it runs deep. Most of us will not vote for a political route even when it is a worthwhile strategy in itself but the destination is uncertain. In that respect, Brexit was a surprising result.

Yet we will vote for what seems like an attractive destination but without bothering to look out of the window at the route. Winter 2022/23 again. It is not easy to see how this could possibly change.

Have I mentioned winter 2022/23? Ah yes.

Wednesday 10 August 2022

Vituperation is an art

Katherine Bayford treats us to a good, solid dose of vituperation in The Critic. It isn't necessary to agree with all of it because vituperation, when done well, is an art all may admire.

Why are British politicians such utter bores?
Mediocre people for mediocre times

One of Boris Johnson’s final, whimpering acts of power in his premiership was to appoint a new cabinet. Fatally wounded by a team of ministers made up of those with little charm, intelligence or experience, who was actually left for Boris to replace them with?..

It’s not a matter of our politicians not being able to write anymore. Compared to the recent past they can barely speak. Political debates have succumbed to an entropic, deadening mediocrity. Recent discourse between a patronising, bland Sunak and a po-faced, blank Truss was not a nadir: it was standard fare.

The whole piece is well worth reading. It isn't long, first class vituperation rarely is and there may be interesting reasons for that.

Mediocrity requires mediocrity in order to survive. When judged against excellence — or even simple competence — the insufficiencies of today’s politician become intolerable. It is this which leads the public to distrust politicians more than their policy choices.

Every so often we simply have to stop making limp excuses for the mediocrities who would rule over us. There is a place for limp excuses, but vituperation does clear the air.

Tuesday 9 August 2022

Flame proof ice cream


Surely part of the fun of ice cream is having to eat it quickly enough to avoid it melting and trickling down your sleeve. 


Any one could see, that he was simple-minded, slow at working out the twists of thought, accustomed to let his ideas flow into the mould of words, before dealing with them.

R. D. Blackmore - Christowell: a Dartmoor tale (1882)

A useful analogy this – we certainly can be said to let ideas flow into the mould of words. We see examples of it everywhere, particularly on the internet but also in real life. We all do it, but many people are like Blackmore’s character, they seem to be mostly unaware of it.

The obvious value of Blackmore’s mould analogy is how it highlights something real and important – our thoughts do flow into word moulds, our responses are moulded responses. We are that shallow.

A socially approved word, phrase, sentence or even a non-verbal gesture – these are the moulds. We do not have ideas in the traditional sense, our responses flow into existing word moulds, shaping our response into something socially familiar. It works, but there is nothing creative about it.

To my mind this is one reason why creativity is so readily corrupted into tawdry slogans, woke culture, banal sentiment, comic book media, celebrity culture, vacuous art and the ghastly hollowed-out emptiness we call the entertainment industry. 

Yet curiously enough it is quite possible and generally quite easy to prevent ideas from flowing automatically into a mould of words. It is enjoyable too, but marginally more difficult to be creative and allow thoughts to mould new words and avoid being moulded by old ones. Only to a limited degree perhaps, but it can be done, creativity is real.

Oddly enough this does suggest that we undervalue creativity. That would be “undervalue” in the sense that we corrupt it and in corrupting creativity we corrupt everything.

Monday 8 August 2022

Fifty Years Ago

Anniversaries are rum things aren’t they? Completely predictable they trundle round exactly as they are supposed to trundle round but some anniversaries do feel special. For example, fifty years ago today Mrs H and I first met. Not a date we’d usually bother with, but fifty years is a long time so we nipped out early for a favourite breakfast and indulged ourselves in a few reminiscences.

Trying to remember my beard phases for example. I was growing one when we first met, shaved it off for the wedding then grew it again until the grey streaks became too apparent. We can't remember when that was but maybe old photos will help.

Foods we have known was a subject we inevitably discussed over breakfast. Angel Delight was quick and easy but now I’d rather not know what was in it. Lots of experimental cookery, some of which worked and some didn't. Kidneys on toast was one which didn't work at all. 

Nipping out for a Chinese or Indian meal was certainly something our parents never did but it was the thing to do at our age fifty years ago. We’d meet up in Derby after work and go for an Indian meal. In later years it was a steak at the local Berni.  

To keep things topical, we had no central heating until we moved into our second house in the mid seventies. It must have made a big difference in winter but I don’t remember noticing the difference at all. Maybe we didn’t have it on all the time. Maybe we’ll have to get used to that again.

A major difference between then and now, apart from all the memories and being much older is that life now feels far more engineered by outside influences, especially government. Fifty years ago it didn’t feel like that.

Sunday 7 August 2022

Only as parasites

A conspicuous aspect of our current Prime Ministerial beauty contest is how irrelevant it all feels. Boris Johnson knew he needed to do something striking which seems to be why he seized on Brexit. This may have encouraged many of us to expect more, but although the coronavirus debacle intervened, Boris was never likely to deliver much more.

Political narratives framed by the media are problematic in a number of ways. One of them is that most aspects of real life go on in the background and work as they are supposed to. Problems, glitches and genuine catastrophes do happen of course, but do not loom over us on a permanent basis as presented by the media.

We were given a very clear view of this during the coronavirus debacle where it could be said without undue exaggeration that apart from the media, the private sector kept things going. GPs went into hiding, supermarket checkout staff didn’t. This gave us an unambiguous view of something else we already know - the media do not reflect the way things are, how real life is actually kept on the road.

The laptop on which I type these blog posts for example. Billions of components working together as they should. It’s a device which could be criticised, but is still a remarkable technical achievement which does what it is supposed to do extremely well.

The laptop is composed of other devices manufactured in huge quantities for markets requiring hundreds of millions or even billions of customers. As is my phone sitting on the table next to my chair. As is my Kindle which is also on the table.

On a smaller but equally interesting scale, we’ve used the Tesco online delivery service for over two years now and it works well. There are minor glitches of course, but nothing remotely comparable to the glitches we put up with from the NHS. Tesco glitches are quickly and smoothly corrected while our GP service is still worse than it was before the pandemic.

We’ve been Amazon customers for years and that works very well too. A colossal global business serving vast numbers of customers and it just works. Two more examples help make the point, which becomes increasingly obvious as political inadequacies also become increasingly obvious. These examples could be the large scale production of cotton or coconut products but there are many more. 

There is no need to push this further except to reiterate that there are many huge businesses requiring huge numbers of customers to keep them going. Trillions of dollars worth of business activity. And our activity too - we are part of it.

Yet the point to be made is so vast and complex that it isn’t easy to encapsulate, especially as constant anti-business propaganda has always been with us, some of it deserved and some not, some sinister and some not. Either way, there are huge, interlinked global business activities with huge numbers of ordinary people as their customers. They need the little people, not a few rich people who travel by private jet.

This is not a claim that big business is on the side of the little people against totalitarian politics. This would be hopelessly unrealistic. It is a suggestion that there is some conflict of interest between totalitarian politics and huge businesses serving massive customer bases via processes which work as they are supposed to. It is a suggestion that traditional governments are becoming less relevant to all this.

Governments seem to have become more parasitic as they become less relevant to a world which appears to be leaving them behind. Authoritarian trends may be a counter to that. Not a surprising idea because many of major political and bureaucratic actors are parasites. Only as parasites are they relevant. This is a weakness.

When weather really was weather

Harry Hopkins has a worthwhile piece in TCW on weather extremes of the past and how we accepted and dealt with them more pragmatically than is the case today. 

1963 and 1976, when weather really was weather

I VIVIDLY remember the winter of 1962-3. It was one of the coldest on record. Rivers, lakes and even the sea froze. I was fortunate enough to be at a school where the teachers were genuinely interested in their pupils: not just from an educational point of view, but from a personal development angle as well. Our headmaster was a silver-haired gent called Charles Mcgregor, a Scot with an artificial leg. He was one of those post-war teachers who, having seen action in the Second World War, was now in a leadership role with us kids. He was a marvellous master and my thoughts of him are filled with affection and respect. He had teachers in his mould too, and they willingly gave up their spare time to us on outdoor hikes and expeditions.

Then there is a more recent example of extreme weather, one I still remember well. 

Fast forward to the summer of 1976. It was considered the hottest summer in Europe during the 20th century. High pressure moved in during late May and stayed there until the first traces of rain on August 22. Three months of scorching weather. During this spell, temperatures exceeded 32 deg C at several weather stations every day for three months; Cheltenham had 11 successive days of 35 C. Roads melted, rivers and reservoirs dried up and standpipes were introduced at various locations. Yorkshire alone had 11,500 of these pipes as people queued for water.

The slogan ‘Save water, bath with a friend’ appeared everywhere and caused much mirth. This 16-week dry spell was the longest recorded over England and Wales since 1727. Large tracts of countryside were cordoned off and the public were not allowed to walk or hike because of the risk of fires, though many did break out and destroyed trees, moorland and property. From mid-summer on, wild fires became a national preoccupation and the news was dominated by the spectacular accounts of ‘pyrotechnics’ when Surrey heaths and the North York Moors went up in smoke.

The whole piece is well worth reading as an example of another extreme - a situation where even the weather is made into a major political issue. 

Saturday 6 August 2022

Creeps Being Creepy

Laura Dodsworth has a piece in CAPX on the domestic energy debacle and the creepy activities of the Behaviourial Insights Team or Nudge Unit;

In October 2021 Boris Johnson pledged that Britain could meet its ambitious net zero targets ‘without so much as a hair shirt in sight’ as the Government set out its plans to decarbonise the economy. ‘Green is good,’ he said, and not ‘inextricably bound up with a sense that we have to sacrifice the things we love’.

Rather than good, green will be very cold and very dark for millions of Brits this winter. We will be sacrificing heating and lighting, never mind the things we love. With energy bills at £3,615 by next year, we might be glad of a few hair shirts.

Don’t worry though, the Government is here to help…

Or rather, the government aims to keep the lid on things via various wheezes such as local league tables.

Lis Costa, managing director of the Behaviourial Insights Team – aka the Nudge Unit – has said her team is ‘considering the full remit of its policy toolbox” to reduce household demand. Along with subsidies for vulnerable households, she has proposed sending letters to households to let them know how their energy use compares with their neighbours.

This is not the first time the Nudge Unit has proposed ‘energy leaderboards’. Back in 2011 they suggested emulating US firm Opower’s ‘success’ in a neighbourhood energy comparison scheme which resulted in a reduction of 2-3% in energy use.

The whole piece is worth reading as it gives a number of examples to suggest that this kind of nudge is not particularly effective and what little effect there is tends to peter out quite quickly.

Friday 5 August 2022

The hardest thing in life

“My friend, I’ve been telling lies all my life. Even when I told the truth I never spoke for the sake of the truth, but always for my own sake. I knew it before, but I only see it now.... Oh, where are those friends whom I have insulted with my friendship all my life? And all, all! Savez-vous... perhaps I am telling lies now; no doubt I am telling lies now. The worst of it is that I believe myself when I am lying. The hardest thing in life is to live without telling lies... and without believing in one’s lies.

Fyodor Dostoevsky - Demons (1871-72)

The political classes have solved this problem – lying is not the hardest thing in their lives. They don’t try to live their political lives without telling lies and they manage to tell those lies without believing them.

Yet Dostoevsky was mostly right. Few of us have the ability to lie as the political classes lie and we never fully understand how they do it.

Not So Great Expectations

Taiwan news: China steps up military drills and ends climate change talks in anger over Pelosi visit; 10 warships used in exercises near island

Taiwan latest as China announces it will sanction US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on her visit to the island, which says it is in a state of "combat readiness".

It's a sign of our times that the same headline includes both China stepping up military drills and China ending climate talks as if the two are somehow comparable. As if there is some kind of genuine expectation that China intends to climb on the climate bandwagon. 

Thursday 4 August 2022

The Death of Photography


The Near Future

"Do we have a picture of that warehouse fire in Arizona?"

"Not yet."

"Okay - just tell the system to create one for now - make it really scary with dozens of fire trucks. Oh - and add in the senator directing operations."

"She's supposed to be in India."

"But that wasn't our story. Anyhow she's been dead for months."

Competitive lunacy

Concerns raised over 'phallic' Antony Gormley sculpture on Imperial College London campus

The six-metre tall sculpture 'ALERT' has been described by the artist as a figure "balancing on the balls of the feet while squatting on its haunches".

It seems like yet another example of competitive lunacy, but could be a valid concern. Imperial College has lots of expertise in valid concerns as we found during the coronavirus pandemic. Just ask Neil Ferguson. 

Wednesday 3 August 2022

Whatever Happened To Starlite?


An interesting video. I particularly liked this comment on the YouTube site, although you have to watch the video to see the joke.

I think that he wanted all that money up front because once they figured out it was cake batter made with glue he would already have the money.

Another Batgirl

Batgirl: DC Comics film shelved by Warner Bros after poor reviews in test screenings

The movie, which reportedly cost between $70m and $90m to make, would have featured an all-star cast including Leslie Grace as Batgirl, J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Jim Gordon, and Michael Keaton as Batman.

Reminds me of the Liz Truss show for some reason. Another project where test screenings suggest the whole thing should be shelved before it sinks like a brick.

Monday 1 August 2022

What a way to go

Then, as he topped the brow of the incline, above the whine of his motor, the crackle of road-metal beneath the tires, and the boom of the rushing air in his ears, he heard the sharp clatter of hoofs, and surmised that the gendarmerie had given chase.

Louis Joseph Vance - The Lone Wolf (1914)

The Lone Wolf is the nickname of the fictional character Michael Lanyard, a jewel thief turned private detective in a series of novels written by Louis Joseph Vance (1879–1933). Many films based on and inspired by the books have been made. The character also appeared briefly on radio and television.

I’ve only read one example of Vance’s output and it was certainly a easy read for anyone accustomed to old tales. Melodramatic and fast-paced without much character development, it felt to me like a forerunner of The Saint. Vance managed to kill himself in a melodramatic manner too.

Vance died alone in his New York City apartment on December 16, 1933, in a fire that resulted from his falling asleep with a lighted cigarette. His death was ruled accidental. A simple funeral took place December 20, 1933, at St. George's Protestant Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, with honorary pallbearers including Marc Connelly, Will Irwin and Samuel Merwin. Vance's widow received an estate of less than $10,000

There is a suggestion that he was intoxicated at the time. Must have been as intoxicated as a newt.

That's not how I remember it

Nichelle Nichols: 'Trailblazing' actress who played Lt Uhura in Star Trek dies

Nichelle Nichols broke racial stereotypes by sharing an interracial onscreen kiss with co-star William Shatner in the show - extremely rare in the 1960s.

I watched Star Trek all those years ago and don't remember noticing the racial stereotype at all. Lt Uhura was an attractive actress and that's all I recall noticing at the time. 

This is not to say that racial stereotypes did not exist at the time because they certainly did, but since then we have been subject to the relentless message that they are fundamental to what we are. 

It's a complex question, but we could turn this article around. The tone of it is yet another reminder that those same racial stereotypes have been perpetuated by the same political pressures which are still supposedly intent on eliminating them. But we knew that.