Friday 30 September 2022


Heavy rain in our bit of Derbyshire this afternoon and I had to pick up Granddaughter from school in the car as we live a few miles away. Short notice, but not a problem because we knew we might have to do it. As usual when raining, the road by the school was crammed with cars and Friday afternoon always seems to be worse anyway. But people cope, the traffic moves.

Life goes on, the school road becomes calm again because people do what they need to do. It's as if we live in two worlds. One world is daily life and the other is media world where panic, crisis, high drama and rampant hysteria pervade every nook and cranny. In this world, there are hardly any calm places where events are analysed by people who know how.

Some snippets of media world are relevant to real life or will be eventually, but it would be a major gain if the media were to focus their collective attention on the relevant bits, do some dispassionate analysis and drop the constant hysteria.

This afternoon it was raining – no problem. People have suitable clothing and umbrellas and if not, they don’t actually dissolve in a spot of rain, not even heavy rain. Yet in media world, even heavy rain may be reason to turn on the hysteria. It isn’t going to end well.

Candlesticks for sale


Seen at a local antiques centre.

Thursday 29 September 2022

Talk Like a Royal


Or we watch television

The ideas we have of things are not fair portraits; they are political caricatures made in the human interest; but in their partial way they may be masterpieces of characterisation and insight. Above all, they are obtained by labour, by investigating what is not given, and by correcting one impression by another, drawn from the same object—a thing impossible in the intuition of essences. They therefore conduce to wisdom, and in their perpetual tentativeness have a cumulative truth.

George Santayana - Scepticism and Animal Faith (1923)

Most of us accept the reality of cumulative abilities. We know we can’t acquire any kind of skill, knowledge or expertise in a single flash of inspiration.

We don’t become better tennis players by watching Roger Federer – not even in our own minds. We don’t acquire much insight by watching television. Our pursuit of truth is cumulative in an analogous manner – we go out there and pursue truth with serious intent or we watch television.

Wider problems in pursuing a cumulative truth as it unfolds step by step are obvious. The media are not interested unless it is an unfolding scandal or something which can be unfolded into a scandal. Political actors are not interested because it isn’t immediate enough. There is no persuasive finality in cumulative truth. Unless charlatans give it that persuasive finality of course.

Yet Santayana was describing how we make thinking worthwhile – the perpetual pursuit of cumulative truth. That’s it – the whole shebang. Cumulative experience of right, wrong, true, false, dubious or promising. Outside of this, thinking really isn’t worthwhile. It isn’t even thinking if it doesn’t attempt to accumulate better over worse.

Unfortunately, not everyone wants thinking to be worthwhile in all circumstances – or so says one result of cumulative truth.

Wednesday 28 September 2022

Woke gremlins sit jabbering on their shoulders

Harley J. Sims has an entertaining mercatornet piece on Amazon's invasion of Tolkien’s Middle-earth.

Tolkien’s Middle-earth has been colonized by a media giant and its woke gremlins

More money, less quality: why Amazon’s version of Middle earth is stale, boring, and lame.

There are a few reasons why fantasy exists and why it is so popular, but I imagine most people would agree it’s because of escapism. Escapism doesn’t require fantasy – we can escape into any imaginative circumstance from sports to sci-fi – but fantasy offers a kind of escapism further removed from reality than other genres.

Often set in alternative worlds, it can present belief systems, languages, cultures, and forces of nature far different from our own. Even physical laws – i.e. ‘the science’ – can be left behind, allowing for immersion in truly exotic waters.

The whole piece is well worth reading for the way it highlights the cultural damage done by entertainment behemoths.

Fans of The Lord of the Rings will recall Gandalf’s advice to Frodo about the One Ring – “Keep it secret. Keep it safe.” Well, the same can be advised of fantasy in general, and it was a lot easier to follow it before the genre became as ubiquitous at is now. Though the memory of those days is rapidly disappearing, there was a time when what are now-multi-billion-dollar properties belonged to the realm of geeky outsiders – intensely imaginative types and introverts – whose interests didn’t jive with what was popular. A lot of it had to do with the literary nature of fantasy – reading and obsessing over its details requires uncommon patience and intelligence as well as a tenacious sense of escapism. Now that the material has been popularized by film and other more immediately accessible media, what were once tranquil properties have become prime stomping grounds for the entertainment giants, as well as the woke gremlins that sit jabbering on their shoulders.

Put another way, reality has invaded the fantasy. Our 21st-century Zeitgeist, with all the hubris of its self-righteousness and revisionism, has possessed the body of Tolkien’s work, thrusting aside its old soul no less sickeningly than the demon did the little girl’s in the Exorcist. It intends to impersonate what we love, and to teach us why we suck for not enjoying what it pukes at us.

Coffee and Persuasion

Granddaughter’s school intends to hold a Macmillan coffee morning. Seems iffy to me, holding one in a junior school, but they seem to hold them all over the place.

This is merely an anecdote I know, but some years ago, we had our only contact with Macmillan services and that turned out to be entirely negative. Second-rate people and second-rate facilities. The only advice we received turned out to be almost catastrophic. A much smaller, local charity was far more effective.

Perhaps our experience was atypical - it would have to be, or they would struggle to survive. Yet it is easy to be suspicious of large charities which have grown to be more like businesses than charities. Macmillan seems to spend heavily on promotion and fund raising, but after our dire experience I’d never contribute. 

And I still think it’s iffy to hold that coffee morning in a junior school.

Tuesday 27 September 2022

Shifting Ground

Sir Keir Starmer to declare Labour is ‘party of the centre-ground’ once again

He was set to quote Sir Tony Blair by claiming Labour was the “political wing of the British people” as he sought to seize from the Tories the reputation of the party of “sound money”.

The words will be seen as an attempt to rebuff Tory allegations that his party is in the pocket of the unions and bury for good the Corbyn era which saw Labour suffer such a humiliating 2019 General Election defeat.

This would be a "centre-ground" where a man in a frock suddenly becomes a bona fide woman if he says so - that "centre-ground". You couldn't make it up but they do - all the time. 

Politics - strewth - how the blue blazes do people have the stomach for it? 

Almost reassuring

A dive into N. Korea’s world of multiplayer gaming

“Women in their 30s and 40s sit in the market and play smartphone games when they are not selling anything or have time to kill,” a source told Daily NK

As more and more North Koreans have smartphones, the country has intensified its efforts to develop a range of applications, too. North Korean developers continue to create game apps, which are reportedly quite popular among smartphone users.

All very familiar, but this aspect is even more familiar -

As smartphone-based games grow in popularity in North Korea, this has led to the rise of various social issues, however.

“Teenagers are looking at their phones when they walk on the road, when they’re on the bus for field trips to revolutionary historic sites or revolutionary battle sites, and even when the guides at revolutionary battle sites are giving their lectures,” said the source.

“Since they are looking at their phones, they don’t greet local elders even when they run into them,” he added.

Based on the source’s report, it appears that “smartphone zombies” – people absorbed in their smartphones at the expense of everything around them – are commonplace in North Korea.

Almost reassuring but not quite. If “smartphone zombies” are tolerated in North Korea, it's not an entirely reassuring angle on smartphone technology generally.

Monday 26 September 2022

No botox for Winston

Botox could reduce anxiety and depression

Botox injections that stop people frowning could help reduce negative emotions such as fear and anger as well as treat depression and anxiety, according to a new scientific study.

Researchers found that botox injected into the forehead area relaxed facial muscles and prevented a "negative feedback loop" between the face and brain.

Maybe it's the way I make connections, but on reading this I was immediately reminded of Winston Smith having to make sure his facial expression did not lead to "negative feedback loops." Rather more serious feedback loops in his case, but maybe the comparison is not wholly unwarranted.  

Winston turned round abruptly. He had set his features into the expression of quiet optimism which it was advisable to wear when facing the telescreen.

George Orwell - 1984 (1949)

Sir Keir's Antiques Roadshow

Labour pledge to 'build British industry' through state-owned investment fund

Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, will say on Monday that the proposal is a "real plan" for "growth", "the climate" and "levelling up".

In her speech later today, Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, will set out the party's industrial strategy, which includes promises to invest in national projects from battery factories to clean steel plants.

She is expected to confirm that the projects would be funded by a National Wealth Fund.

Crikey - Sir Keir wants industry to follow the lead of the public sector. Reminds me of the TSR2 project for some reason.

All modern aircraft have four dimensions: Span, Length, Height and Politics. TSR2 simply got the first three right.

Sir Sydney Camm

A healthy mind...


Sunday 25 September 2022

Eleventh hour drama

Prince Harry makes ‘eleventh hour attempt to change tell-all memoirs’

The Duke of Sussex is worried that some of the revelations in his book “might not look so good” following the public outpouring of support for the monarchy, both at home and abroad, it is claimed.

The book, part of a three-title deal worth £36.8 million, is expected to be published this autumn, but the Duke is now said to be worried that it will be ill-timed as his father the King begins his reign.

He reportedly wants to make “refinements” to the manuscript, which had already been signed off by publishers Penguin Random House, though industry sources have questioned whether it might be too late.

Almost dramatic, isn't it? Surely not dramatic enough to induce many people buy his ridiculous book though - nothing could be lurid enough for that.

There is an interesting theory about celebrity books such as this. The theory says that every single copy is bought as a present for someone the buyer doesn't really like. It's why they end up in charity shops so quickly. Only the other day I saw one of Michelle Obama's books in a charity shop. Seems appropriate  somehow.


It’s a rum day is Sunday. There was a time when it was the day of rest, when shops were closed and it was generally a fairly quiet day. Some people even went to church.

Now, if we want to buzz off around Derbyshire on a reasonably fine Sunday, we have to be off by 9:30 at the latest. It’s not that 9:30 is particularly early, but if we don’t stick to it, we’ll hit the Sunday traffic queues and car parks will be filling up.

Even with a 9:30 start we have to avoid our usual route if we aim to miss the Sunday car boot traffic. An advantage of doing that is that we also miss that strangely unpleasant aroma of fried onions wafting over the car boot field hedge as we drive past with the top down.

Today we beat the café rush by about ten minutes. That’s cutting it rather fine, so maybe our 9:30 start needs reviewing. Day of rest indeed – it’s ancient history now.

Saturday 24 September 2022

Ploughing The Clouds


A recent charity shop find was a copy of Sir David Low’s political cartoons published between 1945 and 1953. The cartoons give an interesting flavour of the times. Each one has the publication date and a brief explanation of its subject. Text under the above cartoon reads –

12 February 1946

Failure of the monsoon had driven the food situation from bad to worse for the 500 million people in India and the East. Five to fifteen million Indians were threatened with death from starvation and conditions in Malaya were nearly as bad. The United Nations were made aware by urgent messages from the Director-General of UNRRA that food came before politics as the first and greatest problem of the Far East.

Today of course, monsoon failure would be blamed on the developed world via the climate change narrative. It's the kind of thing bureaucrats always do, but we know that now.

Skin in the game

The death of Elizabeth II raised a number of speculations. Here’s an example using the delightfully acute expression “skin in the game”.

Do we ordinary citizens have skin in the monarchy game? A reasonable answer is bound to be complex, but if the alternative is President Tony Blair, then we certainly do have skin in the monarchy game. Rather more than we’d care to lose in one operation. We appear to know it too. It seems to be more than a sentimental, rose-tinted attachment to the monarchy.

Depends on the individual of course, but we often think we have skin in any number of games. Football supporters seem to think they have skin in the game – particularly their team performance and the way their club is managed. Those looking on from beyond the side-lines have no skin in the game, but in the event of a key World Cup match, even they may be persuaded to risk a flake or two.

Low level political activists seem to think they have skin in the political game, but they may be no more than useful idiots. Even MPs may be no more than useful idiots – or simply idiots.

How about those who clapped the NHS, wore masks in their cars and approved of all the lockdown measures? They all seemed to think they had skin in the pandemic game, and it is easy to see why that was so. Persuasion stripped off their skin and lobbed it into the official game. Almost all of it in some cases.

People are persuaded that they have skin in a particular game, even if it isn’t much skin and there are better games. It’s an inescapable aspect of our lives – all that skin stripped off for yet another game. It’s a delightfully brutal expression though – certainly sharpens the nature of allegiance.

Friday 23 September 2022

Full Up


When my grass strimmer battery is fully charged, the battery pack display shows this message. Maybe it stands for Full Up. Maybe it doesn't. 

Thursday 22 September 2022

Guardian-reading with added joss sticks

Jacob Phillips has an interesting piece on personal authenticity in The Critic. Sounds rather lofty but it isn't - the problems he describes are common enough.

The authenticity illusion

We all have a little LARPer inside us

On a December night, sometime between the life I used to lead and the life I lead now, whilst a friend and I were cutting through some backstreets off Oxford Street, we noticed an open church door. She suggested we go in and have a look. It made an intense impression on me. The interior was covered in deeply coloured mosaic tilework, interlaced black and white patterning. Scenes from Scripture were portrayed in dignified, pre-Raphaelite style by friezes on the walls. Incense hung in misty clouds gathered about the pillars in the nave. Around the High Altar was a seamless array of icons of saints, set against deep purple, rich crimson and darkly starlit blues. I desired to know more about this place, and resolved to come back for Midnight Mass.

The whole piece is well worth reading, not only as an interesting story of personal religious conversion, but as a wider comment on the modern search for personal authenticity. For example -

I sometimes encountered people from the old days who were treading a similar path. With one it began because his girlfriend’s uncle was a priest. He told me, in hushed tones, that open conversations with this uncle made him think that this priest was a true free-thinker, compared to so many people we knew who’d started policing pronouns and so on. Another had got involved with a cultish group and gone to live in an Ashram, before realising the values therein were not so much about spiritual wisdom as just Guardian-reading with added joss sticks. I was recently interested to see another old acquaintance write about her own experience of seeking refuge in a church.

The past is a foreign country

The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.

L. P. Hartley - The Go-Between (1953)

A commonly repeated observation on the reign of Queen Elizabeth II is her lifelong dedication to the role, a dedication she explicitly intended to pursue until the day she died. Born in 1926, her generation generally took life seriously. Perhaps it could be said that our late Queen’s generation was the last to take life seriously. The possibility is certainly worth a thought or two. 
By 1926, a whole raft of frivolity was bubbling to the surface of the developed world, driven by technology and economic growth. Cinema, radio, recorded music, television, telephone, mass transport and mass communication all seem to have played a part in promoting mass frivolity.

World War II stamped all over that of course, but the frivolous phoenix did not take long to rise again. Only on this side of the Iron Curtain perhaps, but even that didn't keep the entertainment business buried for long once normal life had resumed.   

Entertainment has always been popular, but it is not a wild exaggeration to describe our previous UK prime minister as an entertainer. Which ought to be a little odd, but it isn't. In a somewhat macabre sense even Joe Biden... perhaps not... but the thought is there.

If we don’t take life as seriously as previous generations, perhaps we don’t need to. As a general rule we could easily claim that entertainment is easy and taking life seriously less easy. As the good old slippery slope cliché reminds us, we do tend to go for easy over difficult even if easy has some obvious perils.

Entertainment is persuasive. Taking life seriously isn’t. Hence…

Wednesday 21 September 2022

Always stretched to the limit

Jamie Whyte has an interesting CAPX piece on modern policing.

Why the police have no interest in fighting crime

What’s happened to the police? Why do they dance the macarena and prance around in red high heel shoes when they cannot be bothered to pursue burglars or arrest looters? Why, in other words, are the police doing such a bad job?

It’s because society has changed in ways that make their job more difficult. That’s the conclusion arrived at by Sir Michael Barber, formerly Tony Blair’s Chief Advisor on Delivery, whose Strategic Review of Policing in England and Wales was published earlier this year.

He is perfectly wrong. The police are doing badly because society has changed in a way that makes their job easier.

Whyte goes on to propose an entertaining imaginary scenario which could be applied to many other areas as well as policing. The whole piece is worth reading as a contrarian view of both the police and the public sector generally.

To understand, ask another question: do the police welcome a declining crime rate? The answer may seem to be an obvious yes. After all, fighting crime is their job. And, if you were to ask any chief constable, he would surely claim to seek nothing more passionately than a society free from the scourge of crime.

But it is an implausible idea. Imagine a new drug reduced the inclination to commit crime by 75% and that, discovering it to be free of side-effects, the Government added it to the water supply. This could only strike a police chief as a catastrophe. With crime falling, the demand for policing would also fall, followed by the budgets of police forces and the salaries of police officers.

Therefore it’s in the force’s own interest for crime to persist. Ideally, they should be ‘stretched to the limit’. So, we could expect the police to respond to the emergence of a less criminal population by applying themselves to things that look like police work but which do not prevent crime.

Tuesday 20 September 2022

The weird world of the bureaucrat

UN chief Antonio Guterres tells rich countries to impose tax on fossil fuel firms 'feasting' on windfall profits

The leader of the United Nations cannot order members to impose windfall taxes, but his comments send an "important signal".

In spite of saying "polluters must pay" Mr Guterres cannot mandate action from developed countries, many of which are grappling with extreme weather, high food and energy prices and the Ukraine war.

Fortunately for us, Mr Guterres cannot mandate action from developed countries but I'm sure he'd like to change that. 

There are some rather serious aspects of global concern Mr Guterres could mention of course, such as the possibility of leaks from virology laboratories. He prefers to pretend we can control the global climate though. A weird world he inhabits, but well paid.


Monday 19 September 2022

Absolute Indifference

A few days ago, I idled away a few minutes in a local leisure centre car park waiting for Grandson. A slight breeze rustled the leaves of trees planted around the car park. I tried to imagine how a similar breeze had rustled through similar leaves a million years ago and will still do so a million years from now.

A familiar enough notion, but perhaps not something we often dwell on apart from quiet moments. In a sense, we can’t really dwell on it because it is well out of the range of human experience. A million years is too vast to contemplate. Yet we live in a universe which is so vast, so indifferent to our concerns, that perhaps it is best avoided except in moments of quiet contemplation.

The universe is too vast to be anything but indifferent, something many have realised for a long time. Vast and vastly indifferent. Almost as if vast indifference is some kind of universal absolute, a necessary feature of the universe without which it would make no sense. 

And maybe there are times when we catch a glimpse of it, even in the breeze, in the rustling of leaves. Absolute Indifference.


 It's quieter than Christmas Day out there.


This blog layout is non-standard which seems to cause a few problems, so at some point soon I'll change to a bog-standard layout and see if that improves matters. 

Sunday 18 September 2022

Climb to raise awareness

French 'Spiderman' Alain Robert scales 613ft skyscraper to mark 60th birthday

Robert, who turned 60 last month, climbs without a harness, using only his bare hands, a pair of climbing shoes, and a bag of powdered chalk to wipe off the sweat.

Robert, who also wanted to use the climb to raise awareness about the need for climate change action, had already climbed the TotalEnergies tower on numerous occasions.

A great idea - surely all climate activists should give this a go. Especially as it raises awareness of the need for climate change action. Much more authentic than gluing yourself to the M25 which is bound to be seen as a somewhat sedentary form of "action" when compared to the exploits of M Robert.

Net Zero is Newspeak

Suppose we suggest, as B.F. Skinner did, that science is a form of advice –
  • Follow this procedure and this is what you will see.
  • Apply this theory and these are the effects we expect to see.
Grossly oversimplified of course, but a powerful viewpoint just the same. Describing science as a form of advice links it to numerous other disciplines where traditional divisions obscure important similarities. From where to find a good plumber to a mathematical model to a soup recipe, a chemical analysis or an interpretation of Shakespeare, all may be viewed as forms of advice.

The power of linking disciplines via the common ground of advice is to distinguish useful advice from loaded advice where loaded advice is more demand than advice. A blurred distinction because teaching may include loaded advice, but a distinction worth making in this case. 

Moving on - it is worth focussing on loaded and often covert advice about the use of social and political language –
  • Say this and you are a good person.
  • Say that and you are a bad person.
Again, this is grossly oversimplified but it makes a point that there are social and political demands concerning the politically correct use of language - as we know. Demands which are a close relative of Newspeak. Linking disparate disciplines by recasting them as advice brings out the distinction between advice and politically loaded advice about language. It brings out the Newspeak within our own culture.

Woke culture is a framework of partially covert demands concerning the politically correct use of language, not advice about the real world. When applied to the real world it fails in real world terms. We cannot use language to place demands on the real world. Should be obvious, but in the political world it often isn't.

For example, the UK Net Zero policy is clearly not advice about the global climate. We in the UK cannot possibly affect that. Recasting Net Zero as advice brings out how absurd the advice is, because in the real world there is nothing we can do about the global climate whatever language we use. Net Zero is not advice about the behaviour of the global climate, but a framework of loaded advice about the use of climate and energy-related language.

Wind turbines and solar panels are the incidental products of this loaded political advice, where political power overrides real world competence. In other words, Net Zero is Newspeak. But we knew that.

And the chocolate ration has been increased to 20 grams.

Saturday 17 September 2022

So many scams

Every now and then, Mrs H receives one of those Apple Pay scam text messages on her iPhone which says - "Apple Pay has been suspended on your device". Of course, it includes a link for mugs to click where the supposed problem can be fixed.

The biggest scam clue is that Mrs H has never set up Apple Pay, but of course these are scattergun scams. Fool a small percentage and presumably the scam is worthwhile. 

Scam texts and calls can be reported to Ofcom, but still they come. I'm sure the number of scams has increased over the past few years. I blame climate change. Or is it Brexit?

Friday 16 September 2022


Queen dies: A queue for the queue - mourners waiting to see coffin now placed in holding pen

Mourners are continuing to arrive at the closed queue to see the Queen lying in state - and have been placed in a holding pen.

The official queue to Westminster Hall was closed after hitting capacity at 9.50am, with officials saying it would not be reopened for at least six hours.

Not a reaction I would have expected only a few weeks ago. Pumped up by the media no doubt, but before the death of Queen Elizabeth, I would have expected a more muted reaction to her demise. Not that I gave it much thought, but it is sobering to have been so wrong.

Thursday 15 September 2022

Webs Within Webs

Hayden Ludwig has an interesting Tablet piece on the labyrinthine funding of US political lobbying and in particular the influence of philanthropic consultancy, Arabella Advisors.

The For-Profit D.C. Firm Staging America’s ‘Grassroots’ Movements

The great American tradition of spontaneous local protest is funded and staffed to a large degree by a ‘dark money’ network controlled by Arabella Advisors

Behind the closed doors of an unassuming philanthropic consultancy in Washington, D.C., is one of the most powerful lobbying forces in the United States. The Atlantic has called it “the massive progressive dark-money group you’ve never heard of” and “the indisputable heavyweight of Democratic dark money.” The Washington Post believes its potent lobbying arm is reason enough for Congress to enact forced donor disclosure laws, while Politico labelled it a “dark-money behemoth.” “The system of political financing, which often obscures the identities of donors, is known as dark money,” wrote The New York Times, “and Arabella’s network is a leading vehicle for it on the left.”

Meet Arabella Advisors, the brainchild of ex-Clinton administration staffer Eric Kessler and the favorite tool of anonymous, billionaire donors on the progressive left. Since 2006, the Arabella hub has overseen a growing network of nonprofits—call them the “spokes”—that collected $2.4 billion in the 2019-20 election cycle, nearly twice as much as the Republican and Democratic national committees combined.

The article is fairly complex, but an interesting read. The interest stems partly from the scale and complexity of political lobbying plus the influence of wealthy donors, but partly from the last two paragraphs.

The court fights point to a conspicuous feature of Arabella’s network as a whole: Despite the amount of money it can raise and deploy, it’s been able to buy relatively few political victories. And despite billions of dollars in funds and a seemingly infinite supply of professional activists and mega-wealthy donors, the dominant image of Arabella’s political significance is of a handful of people in their 30s dressed up as fictional characters unsuccessfully protesting Supreme Court nominations on weekday mornings.

For now, it seems, no amount of “dark money” can turn evangelical ministers into climate change activists or convince Mainers to get rid of Susan Collins. Perhaps that, if nothing else about Arabella, should give Americans continued confidence in their democracy.

To my mind it raises an interesting speculation. For example, if I happened to be a billionaire, then I might consider funding the stunts of political extremists for two reasons -

One would be to bring them out into the open and attract media attention. The other would be to label their cause as a nutcase cause.

Now I know who you are

You blaspheme! Now I know who you are! The apple does not fall far from the tree! Now I understand the whole craft of Satan. You build the Lord a house for a brothel as an offering to a harlot! You play wizard and magician to get people to fall down and worship the denier.

August Strindberg - On the Seaboard (1890)

Depending on social and political circumstances, in Strindberg’s day a denier was perilously close to a blasphemer. Something similar could be said today as the term ‘denier’ has been appropriated by secular puritans. Woke culture defines the world narrowly in terms of what can and cannot be said without attracting the pointing finger of secular puritanism.

It goes further of course, as puritanical fanaticism often does. Woke culture demands not only the avoidance of secular blasphemy but witch-hunts in pursuit of blasphemous backsliding. Even a lack of enthusiasm for Woke doctrines may be construed as denial, plus any hint of being out of touch with the latest nuances.

It is possible that this level of puritanical fanaticism will fade into joyless obscurity, but it is also possible that it has not yet peaked. It would be unwise to assume that anything so inhumanly shrill is about to collapse. It more likely to morph into something equally inhuman, equally shrill.

Inhumanly shrill is a recurring feature of political reality. Every now and then it flaps its ghastly wings as it lurches from the old cause to the new. and the screeching begins yet again.

Wednesday 14 September 2022

Prince of Piffle


A cogent reminder of what we already know. Charles has never been the sharpest knife in the drawer when it comes to spotting and avoiding bonkers ideas. Or bonkers people for that matter. 

As the late Christopher Hitchens made clear, our new monarch was always attracted to the most abysmal piffle.

Tough Test

King Charles faces a tough test if he wants to keep his personal climate fight alive

If King Charles is to maximise his impact in the battle against climate change, he has a very narrow path to success and must avoid at all costs any whiff of blinkered and intolerant privilege.

What a weird way of putting it. The climate game reeks of "blinkered and intolerant privilege". It's played by the upper middle classes, using their privilege to swamp the media, corrupt democracy, recruit dodgy scientists, shout down criticism and screw the proles.

Charles will find his mother is an impossible act to follow. He is already much too far behind to make up lost ground. He must hope that the climate game remains afloat for as long as he does or display enough agility to skip across to another environmental fatuity. That's a tough test.

Tuesday 13 September 2022

Cité Soleil


Didn't take long

Center Parcs U-turns over plans to turf out guests on day of Queen's funeral

The company has emailed all customers who will be affected by its decision, but many people on social media say it has only landed them with additional stress at a time of national mourning.

Tripadvisor comments should be interesting

Center Parcs tells guests ‘stay somewhere else’ on day of Queen’s funeral

Center Parcs has been inundated with complaints after announcing it will close UK sites on the day of the Queen’s funeral, with holidaymakers told to leave.

It said today that the five UK parks will close for 24 hours from 10am on Monday.

Guests part-way through holidays will be forced to spend the night elsewhere or go home early.

Monday 12 September 2022

F is for Factism

Frank Wright has an entertaining take on Clown World, which as we know to our cost is our world. A few examples give the flavour of it.

The ABC of Clown World

A is for Albaphobia

With this one new trick – blaming Whitey for everything – you can relax into a stupor of legitimised racist hatred. Every instance of crime, disorder, injustice and those horrid attempts to employ people on the basis of competence can be dismissed as the evil project of Mr and Mrs White, who must never have any more children.

B is for Brave

See also ‘stunning’. Any noteworthy attempt on the life of our national culture is ‘brave’, along with acts of public depravity and gluing your bottom to a window to save the planet.

F is for Factism

Factists base their worldview on observation and evidence – such as crime statistics and medical coincidence – and are therefore dangerous extremists dedicated to an ideology of hate.

Hijacking the brain

Weekly obesity jab halves the risk of diabetes and can spark sufficient weight loss to treat range of issues, research suggests

Patients can inject themselves with semaglutide, which works by hijacking the brain to suppress appetite and slash calorie intake.

Instead of being hijacked by cake and takeaways presumably. 

Sunday 11 September 2022

When we’ve seen it all before

This is not a post about chess, but there is a strikingly useful analogy to be found in the difference between amateur and professional chess players.

World chess champion Magnus Carlsen has said he generally plays chess intuitively rather than analytically. Professional players quickly recognise patterns which turn out well and those which do not without necessarily having to work out why. They have seen similar patterns many times before. Carlsen sees this as a key difference between top level players and lesser players who have to rely on step-by-step analysis of most positions.

A more well-known example of intuitive pattern-recognition might be driving a car, where we recognise road situations and respond to them without needing to analyse why we respond one way rather than another. We recognise patterns we have seen many times before. It is even possible to drive the daily commute without being able to remember the journey afterwards.

Similarly, many sceptics do not have to analyse the climate change narrative scientifically. Long experience of real life allows them to recognise patterns of human behaviour instead. People don’t glue themselves to the M25 in support of a scientific theory. They don’t demonstrate, wave placards and refer to sceptics as ‘deniers’ because a scientific theory cannot be wrong. 

The behaviour of the climate faithful does not fit patterns of behaviour we recognise as open scientific enquiry. It does fit patterns of behaviour we recognise as strong and even fanatical political allegiance. We recognise the behaviour patterns without a need to analyse them because we have seen them so often before. On that basis we may conclude that climate science is window dressing for something which is not science, and we know what that something is.

It’s not rocket science. It isn’t science at all and even more interesting – it’s obvious.

Electric Scooter


From Bill R

Saturday 10 September 2022


There are many things being said about the death of Elizabeth II, often elaborations of existing viewpoints as we might expect. To my mind, her extraordinary sense of duty has lobbed a moral depth charge into the public arena which is worth dwelling on because the ripples will soon subside. 

For example, the Harry and Meghan circus now seems to be starkly exposed as a kind of supercharged tawdriness almost beyond the ken of ordinary decent people. It always seemed tawdry, but there is now an additional aspect, a disease dredged up from the sewer of modern life we call the media.

It's a reminder that Harry and Meghan may be ghastly, but were never important and a wider reminder that most media output is not important either. The climate change narrative is not important, it never was until the media made it so. Political gender fantasies are not important and as with climate change, they never were until the media made them so.

This morning, I scanned the top news stories aggregated by Bing and four of the top ten were Guardian pieces. A miserable extremist rag like the Guardian is not important, but the media make it so. They suck in the clicks because they know how. It's a disease and as yet there is no cure.

Giddy Edge


As we know, people react very differently to heights. This is an area we walk fairly often but we've never tried Giddy Edge, a short path above Matlock Bath. 

There are more precipitous paths elsewhere and I'd do it for a bet, but when we're up there on Tuesday, Giddy Edge won't be part of the walk. The viewpoints are fine - they have guard rails.   

Friday 9 September 2022

Monarchs Mysteries and Majorities

These rich men have no secrets from each other. They form a coterie, closer than any coterie of ours Eugen, and far more powerful. They talk, and in talking they rule the world, these millionaires. They are the real monarchs.
Arnold Bennett

The Government, that is, the aristocracy of lawyers and bankers who represent the country to-day, just as the priests used to do in the time of the monarchy, has felt the necessity of mystifying the worthy people of France with a few new words and old ideas, like philosophers of every school, and all strong intellects ever since time began.
Honoré de Balzac

In fifty years there will be nothing in Europe but Presidents of Republics, not one King left. And with those four letters K-I-N-G, go the priests and the gentlemen. I can see nothing but candidates paying court to draggletailed majorities.

Weekly Tesco Shop

Yesterday our weekly online Tesco delivery was cancelled at short notice due to ‘technical reasons’. It’s the first time this has happened in about two and a half years, so we weren’t too annoyed.

During that time, we’ve picked up odds and ends at various supermarkets, but haven’t done a weekly shop where you push one of those wire trolleys around the aisles looking for stuff. This morning we ventured into our local Tesco store after the school run for an old-style weekly shopping trip.

Strewth it’s tedious. Now we know why we stayed with online shopping.

Thursday 8 September 2022

An Era Passes


Monarch for all or most of our lives and the embodiment of an unsurpassed sense of duty. Impossible not to admire that, but an era now passes which perhaps had already passed.


A few days ago, Mrs H had a phone consultation with one of our local GP doctors concerning a troublesome affliction. It is not serious enough for referral to a hospital consultant, but some preliminary treatment and investigation is required.

The doctor said she had consulted a flow diagram on her computer which defined what should happen over the next few months, the range of possible diagnoses and the medications required to clarify the next stage of treatment should a next stage be required.

A question inevitably arises of course. How much training would be required for a nurse or pharmacist to follow the same flow diagram? How much training for anyone to follow it? From her phone conversation with the doctor, Mrs H thought it sounded like a procedure anyone could easily be taught in six months or less.

From what we see, a fair amount of work done by GP doctors seems akin to senior managers coming down to the lab to do routine pH measurements.

Origins of Bluebottle


Wednesday 7 September 2022

The junk mail clue

Royal Mail workers to stage another two-day strike in pay dispute

Members of the Communication Workers Union were already preparing to walk out on Thursday and Friday this week but they have added two further days of strike action.

Mrs H and I were chatting about this only a few days ago. Times change and we've barely noticed the two previous one day Royal Mail strikes. They made so little impact on us that I had to look up when those two days were. 

Looking back, maybe we had a little less junk mail shoved through the letterbox, but if the strike had not made the headlines we wouldn't have known about it at all. There are two more strikes planned for tomorrow and Friday apparently. 

Maybe the junk mail will mount up and we'll notice when the strikes are over and a little heap of it ends up on the doormat. Or maybe not. Times change.

Australian Greens in turmoil

Timothy Cootes has a very readable Mercatornet piece on viciously insane squabbling within the fantasy fog that is the Australian Greens trying to cope with trans activism.

The sanguinary daydreams of trans activists
Civility and politesse have taken an extended holiday in discourse about trans issues

I am delighted to inform you that the Australian Greens are in turmoil. For the last few months, various members have been trading verbal blows and bunging around legal threats all because of — come on, what else? — serious accusations of transphobia.

To get you up to speed, City of Melbourne Councillor Rohan Leppert raised some mild concerns about Daniel Andrews’ latest edict on “conversion therapy”. In a closed Facebook group, Leppert wondered if the government’s potential criminalisation of anything less than enthusiastic embrace of transgender affirmation might have unintended or even somewhat deleterious consequences. Of course, his comments leaked and there was some predictable whingeing about the terrors of intraparty debate.

The piece covers ground which is depressingly familiar, but still worth reading as a reminder that modern political activism is a weird mix of lunacy and evil, quite often within the same person.

The Victorian Greens, keen to spook any other dissenters in the ranks, charged Leppert with blasphemy and apologised for the words that undoubtedly caused “deep harm to trans and gender diverse people.”

While in the naughty corner, Leppert has found the company of Linda Gale, whose election as Victorian Greens convenor has just been overturned. By a handy coincidence, some procedural irregularities with the vote were uncovered soon after the re-circulation of a 2019 policy paper in which Gale expressed horribly transphobic views.

Cootes goes on to describe some of the extraordinarily vitriolic attacks within the debate, although we can hardly call it a debate without being guilty of yet more distortion. Yet the whole mess is so demented that we may eventually see a countervailing movement in favour of reality.

There is also a growing parents movement keen to excise all this radical gender theory from the children’s curriculum and return to more traditional learning areas, ones not featuring drag queens, for example.

This conversation, though, is one from which the necessary participants continue to exempt themselves, especially in Australia. As the Greens remind us, entering the debate at this late stage would still cause grievous “harm” to already marginalised people. In fact, they’re so marginalised that their defenders can publicly fantasise about assaulting and killing their interlocutors before they can even get a word in.

Still, one must always tell the truth; it’s the best form of self-defence.

Tuesday 6 September 2022

Rufford Ford


Rufford Ford is in north Nottinghamshire.

A gauntlet of boos

'It was just me, me, me': Royal experts say Meghan made One Young World speech 'all about her' as she referenced herself 54 times during seven-minute gender equality talk after she and Harry ran gauntlet of boos as they arrived in Manchester

It's a rum game, the celebrity game. From early in the Meghan-Harry circus, it became clear enough how it was to be played and with each subsequent move it became clearer. Nobody can be unfamiliar with people who see the world in terms of themselves, in me, me, me terms. 

With no mystery left, with the moral vacuum exposed to the whole world, a reasonable person might assume their game is effectively over, but all we see is more of the same. Their game is effectively lost in terms of social and moral prestige, which was the only one they could have hoped to play with any prospect of success. 

Yet still the game grinds on. Even without moral or social prestige, the celebrity wheels still turn. A weird mix of the absurd and the odious but we already knew that.

Monday 5 September 2022

The sphere of her usefulness

What does the prime minister actually do?

Liz Truss has been announced as the UK's next prime minister.

Boris Johnson will step down on Tuesday and Ms Truss will become the third British female PM.

“Physician, heal thyself,” is the hardest, and most unanswerable of all taunts — in the present condition of medicine — and when it is proved against the parson of a parish, that he cannot keep the Prince of evil out of his own house, the sphere of his usefulness — to put it in the mildest form possible — becomes restricted.

R.D. Blackmore - Christowell. A Dartmoor Tale (1882)

Forgive the antique language, but it does the job well enough. It remains to be seen if Liz Truss can keep the Prince of evil out of the House, because it has come to that. If she cannot keep malign totalitarian forces out of our democracy, then the sphere of her usefulness — to put it in the mildest form possible — becomes restricted.

This superficially selfless concern for strangers

Back in August while we were on holiday, Joe Nutt had an interesting piece on levelling up in The Critic.

Levelling up to where?

The chatterati are in no place to lecture

It’s clear that levelling up is looking every bit as intransigent a political goal as social mobility — which shouldn’t surprise anyone who thinks that both phrases have never been anything more substantial than slogans, the former replacing the latter as soon as voters started to smell a rat. The idea that British citizens can, in these first few decades of this new century, stand back and admire their children’s progress up some increasingly slippery social ladder, is an idea that merits fierce interrogation. That’s not just because global events and nervous economies have rendered the prize more elusive. It has always rested on some hugely questionable premises.

As Nutt says, the advocates of social mobility are not acting out of selfless altruism. It is not about improving the lot of others, of the great mass of strangers comprising the general population.

Where does this desire to level up and to improve total strangers really come from? If levelling up is merely about dishwashers and trips to Disneyworld, what professor Goldthorpe calls inequality of condition, then why not just go hell for leather down the road of a universal basic income and embrace the idea that the State really is everyone’s Nanny McFree? I suspect it’s because the most enthusiastic advocates of social mobility and levelling up are doing something else entirely, and it’s really all about them.

The whole piece is well worth reading as a call to look after our own lives and reject what Nutt calls "this superficially selfless concern for strangers".

What’s needed is a radical reversal of this superficially selfless concern for strangers. If you can’t care for your own offspring, successfully enough to transform them into stable, secure adults willing to do the same, what can you possibly offer others less well-resourced in either material or human terms? We should primarily focus on our own lives, our own immediate family and that miniscule part of the real world that any of us ever occupies.

Sunday 4 September 2022

Winter Camping


There is a certain rugged appeal to be found in videos of this type. They certainly set a number of thoughts running, one of which is the way camping has become gentrified over recent decades. Toilets, showers, running water, electric hook ups and even a clubhouse for example. No wolves.

Derelict Grammar School


Take a look inside this derelict Grade II listed Derbyshire grammar school

Pictures from an anonymous urban explorer have revealed the extent of disrepair inside an empty Grade II listed Derbyshire grammar school which has been derelict for eight years...

The school was designed by Derbyshire-born, school architect virtuoso George H Widdows and constructed at a cost of £15,000 nearly 110 years ago.

Mrs H was a pupil here when it was a grammar school. Lots of wood panelling, stained glass windows and polished parquet floors. Quite depressing to see the state of it now - a reminder that there is no way to wind back neglect and incompetence. 

Saturday 3 September 2022

A great big fat frightened rat

BBC presenters: What's behind the large number leaving?

A large number of presenters have left the BBC in recent months - either by force or by choice. Their departures have invited some uncomfortable headlines and questions for the corporation in the process.

And yet, it is hard to pinpoint a single driving force behind the recent exodus, because there's a whole host of reasons for it.

One reason is that the BBC can't compete in a digital world. There are people making videos in their kitchen doing a better job.

Steven Barnett, professor of communications at the University of Westminster, says: "Because the BBC was forced - partly through a campaign driven by a self-interested press - to reveal top salaries, its commercial competitors know exactly where to pitch their offer.

And those BBC competitors know who they want, who they don't want and why, so the 'talent' pool drains away.

Dorothy Byrne, former Head of News & Current Affairs at Channel 4 News, says: "Key journalistic talent now leave because they believe rightly that the BBC's erroneous interpretation of regulation regarding impartiality prevents it from telling viewers and voters the truth. The BBC has always been a timorous beastie. Now it's a great big fat frightened rat."

We cannot vote against what we are

Suppose we claim that for any social or political issue, eighty percent of the population can be induced to go along with a misleadingly simple narrative while twenty percent cannot. It’s a crude use of imaginary numbers, but even imaginary numbers may be used to make a point about the link between political games and media headlines.

The point to be made is that a simple political narrative backed by an apparently authoritative consensus is easy for the eighty percent to accept. The consensus need not be genuine in the sense that it is a majority head count of experts, but it must dominate media headlines.

This is the case even if a modest amount of analysis would show the narrative to be implausible, the reliance on authority misplaced and the consensus not genuine. Eighty percent won’t do the analysis.

In this sense, narratives grow into the eighty percent from a seed which is simple, politically appealing, easy to take on board and easily identifies outsiders as bad people. A seed narrative is injected it into the media who expand it into a narrative of mass concern. Why would the media do otherwise? It’s a free drama with the promise of many more episodes, possibly for years or even decades.

From this perspective, an influential political group which seeds a new narrative, or a variant of an existing narrative may be remarkably small. Imagine twelve influential people, each embedded in other political, professional and media networks which are equally influential. 

The new narrative spreads like a pandemic when it hits the media, because eighty percent of the wider population cannot resist infection by carrying out even the most basic analysis. But we knew that because we see it all the time. It’s as aspect of what we are as social beings.

What we are as social beings is exploited to our disadvantage even in supposedly democratic regimes. It is inevitably divisive, but we cannot vote against the eighty percent. We cannot vote against what we are.

Friday 2 September 2022

Irony Extinction

Extinction Rebellion activists superglue themselves around Commons Speaker’s chair

Protesters tweet photo showing three members in front of Speaker’s seat as two others hold up signs

The campaign group tweeted a photo showing three women standing hand in hand in front of the green leather chair where the Speaker sits when parliament is in session. Two men stood either side holding banners.

One read “Let the people decide” and the other said “Citizens’ assembly now”.

The irony is that they show not the slightest interest in "the people" deciding anything. Of course, it's a traditionally totalitarian term, "the people", often comically so as in this case. 

Trash Talk

Tom Harris has a disturbing CAPX piece on the incompetence of the SNP. Disturbing as a reminder that incompetence is not necessarily a huge electoral liability when the politics of grievance are pushed with sufficient vigour.

Trash talk – will Scotland ever face up to SNP incompetence?

It’s been a busy few weeks for TV’s Nicola Sturgeon. The showbiz personality and Festival Fringe favourite has been interviewed numerous times on Edinburgh’s stages in the last month, sharing her opinions with the likes of Iain Dale and Brian Cox (not the one who lives here; the other one).

But, ever the trooper, she still found time to jet off to Copenhagen to open the Scottish Government’s new Nordic Office (which has been described as a sort of Scottish embassy, but is reportedly more accurately described as a desk in an existing UK government building).

Harris covers the refuse workers strike of course, linking it to what he calls "cynical responsibility-dodging", a characteristic of Sturgeon's SNP which even south of the border has been obvious for years

Such cynical responsibility-dodging has not been successful for the SNP, however. Just as a settlement was reached in Edinburgh, the strike spread throughout the rest of the country, including the SNP-run cities of Glasgow and Dundee.

The nationalist administration will survive all this, of course. It will take more than the smell of rotting nappies and having to fight off a ravenous rat while you’re trying to enjoy a quiet, outdoor lunch on the Royal Mile to persuade most Scots that governing isn’t really the SNP’s forte

Even the revelation that Sturgeon herself was not inconvenienced by the strike, because she employed private contractors (at public expense) to remove the rubbish at her official residence of Bute House, will do little to dissuade at least some ordinary Scots that everything is just fine.

Well worth reading as an example of just how cynically incompetent major political actors and their parties can be, yet still they thrive. 

Thursday 1 September 2022

The Celebrity Population Explosion

I don't know if this is real or not, but the number of celebrities appears to be growing year by year. Every time I scan the media, I seem to come across another celebrity I've never heard of, as if large media outfits are pumping out ever increasing numbers of the blighters.

Equally alarming is that most of them seem to be celebrity celebrities, people famous for being a celebrity rather than someone who has achieved something beyond the celebrity circus. Official celebrity statistics would be useful here, because in the age of social media we may be on the verge of a celebrity pandemic.

The celebrity pandemic could perhaps be tackled by digital social distancing. It is possible to envisage an internet app which automatically blocks any online video, image or article featuring a celebrity. Sounds useful already.

The app could be similar to an ad blocker with a number of blocking criteria. It would obviously begin by blocking BBC newsreaders plus Harry, Meghan and Tony Blair as its default setting. 

There would also be a range of adjustable settings for political celebrities, environmental celebrities, sporting celebrities, entertainment celebrities, celebrity pundits, comedians who aren't funny and so on. It sounds feasible to me.  

Quick Type


This level of dexterity is way beyond my abilities. In spite of all the blogging, I've not moved much further than two finger typing. My mother could type very fast though.