Tuesday 31 October 2023

May as well ask around the pubs

Little Britain sketch racist and outdated, Ofcom research says

A Little Britain sketch has been deemed "explicitly racist and outdated", with some viewers surprised it is still available to watch on BBC iPlayer.

TV watchdog Ofcom showed people a number of clips as part of a study into views on potentially offensive content...

Polling company Ipsos questioned 115 people on Ofcom's behalf for the research.

The most interesting aspect is that the BBC and presumably Ofcom refer to this activity as research, as if the participants had no idea what the approved answer might be. May as well ask around the pubs on a Friday night.

Another interesting aspect is that Ofcom clearly sees itself as the official UK censor, but we knew that.

Old Photos

I've sorted out a winter job for myself, digitally scanning stacks of old photos from loads of old albums. It's also an opportunity to clear shelves and get rid of lots of photos we don't want to keep, even digitally.

Oh well, here we go - the first album I'll tackle this afternoon is our previous house being built in the 1980s.

I ought to delete lots of digital photos too, we have far too many.

Monday 30 October 2023

The Catastrograde

Carbon emissions threaten 1.5C climate threshold sooner than thought - report

Human fossil fuel emissions are threatening a key climate threshold twice as quickly as previously thought, a new report says.

Researchers say the 1.5C limit could be continually breached by 2029, rather than the mid 2030s.

They say record emissions of carbon dioxide over the past three years are a key factor.

"Sooner than thought" implies that scientific thinking was involved but we'll let that pass. The real problem for carbonistas is that it isn't possible to make 1.5C sound like a large number. It's pretty difficult to avoid it sounding like a small, insignificant and not at all worrying number. A strategic blunder from the beginning I'd say.

What the carbonistas should have devised was a large, scary unit which was bound to become larger and scarier. They try to do that with predictions of doom by such and such a date, but the date passes and yet another prediction drops into the dustbin of carbonista history. Even King Charles has tried that.

No, some other unit was required from the beginning such as the Catastrograde. This could be linked to the date so it would be guaranteed to become larger and larger over time. Merely a suggestion, but worth thinking about.

The BBC is hopelessly lost in its bias

Kathy Gyngell has an extremely short TCW piece about the shrinking audience for BBC Radio 4. Too short to quote apart from the headline and one sentence.

375,000 listeners switch off BBC Radio 4 Today programme

That's the headline, this is the sentence -

The BBC is hopelessly lost in its bias as we have reported endlessly over the years.

Yes the BBC is hopelessly lost in its bias, but so is the social class to which it belongs and so are our major political parties. That's likely to be the issue in the next general election, a political elite and a permanent establishment, both hopelessly lost in their bias.

Avoiding bias was once a virtue, however imperfect, partly because it is possible to become hopelessly lost in it.

A shrug and a moan are more likely

Customers heartbroken as popular Derbyshire café and deli forced to close

A popular Derbyshire café has been forced to close its doors due to increasing costs.

Bramhalls' Deli & Café at the Market Place in Ashbourne has announced its permanent closure earlier today, leaving many loyal customers upset.

Sad for the owners, but customers are hardly likely to be heartbroken. Oh well, that's local journalism for you. 

More likely is customers giving a shrug and a moan about the demise of the high street. Then time moves on and memories fade, but Ashbourne is still the gateway to some of the most beautiful scenery in Derbyshire. 

Sunday 29 October 2023

How is anyone to tell?

Scottish Government’s commitment to boost solar energy welcomed by industry

A Scottish Government commitment to increase solar energy generation by 2030 has been welcomed by the industry.

Lorna Slater MSP, co-leader of the Scottish Green Party, announced at the party’s conference in Dunfermline that the Scottish Government has made the commitment.

She said: “Today I’m pleased to announce that the Scottish Government’s forthcoming Energy Strategy and Just Transition Plan will commit to a bold deployment ambition of at least four, but up to six, gigawatts of solar power by 2030. That’s 10 times our current solar generation capacity.

Well, they behave like lunatics. If you behave like a lunatic how is anyone to tell that you’re not one?

Josephine - Brat Farrar (1949)

A Master Theme

There are a number of political ideas which are not widely discussed in mainstream political discourse. Sometimes they are encountered in old novels – vaguely Malthusian ideas such as limiting educational opportunities for the majority, limiting their income, their opportunities, the areas where they live, their housing or their ability to travel and their ability to move and find something better. 

It seems obvious enough that these old ideas have not disappeared but have evolved into underlying themes rather than explicit ideas able to withstand open discussion. 

Themes which validate social class and socially superior political judgment. 

Themes which validate malign social consequences for those on the wrong end of those socially superior political judgments.

Themes which say "our scams are legal, you stepping out of line isn't."   

Themes which validate Malthusian politics even though nobody ever says “I am a Malthusian”.

No, nobody ever says “I am a Malthusian”, but it lurks beneath the surface of politically correct social discourse. Net Zero is a master theme, it ties many others together. A malign Malthusian project presented as a global virtue, but viciously damaging for those who do not belong, never could belong and aren't wanted.

Saturday 28 October 2023

The Sewage System

Ed Conway has a useful Sky piece on the intractable problem of sewage overflows and where the responsibilities lie. Unusually even-handed by the environmental standards of big media and well worth reading for those interested in the issue.

Down the drain: What went wrong with Britain's water system?

If you were going to design Britain's sewage system from scratch today, the one we have, to put it mildly, isn't the design you'd pick. But for most of the country, it's simply too late. Most urban areas have systems that "bake in" sewage spills pretty much forever.

Surely that's part of the job

GenAI Penetrates Broadcast News Rooms at a Surprising Pace

It looks like TV and online news operations nationwide are already moving at breakneck speed to capitalize on a broadening range of benefits delivered by generative artificial intelligence.

Fears about the potential ramifications are well founded, according to Graham Media’s Michael Newman.

The focus on the efficiencies enabled by GenAI generates fear of job loss in the newsroom, he noted. With more content streaming around the world than ever before, there are worries about a growing pool of unreliable information that AI can draw from. And, he added, “We need humans to tell critical pieces of the story that AI misses.”

Surely that's part of the job, missing critical pieces of the story. Difficulties could arise if AI doesn't miss those critical pieces, but I'm sure humans will intervene to correct the stories. Just ask the BBC how it's done.

Friday 27 October 2023

Windfail Bonus

Customers to again be paid for not using electricity

Households and businesses can again be paid for cutting electricity use during times of high consumption.

It can be useful when low amounts are being generated by renewables and demand is high, especially during cold periods and at peak evening times.

Energy users can sign up via their energy provider. Last time, 31 providers registered to provide the DFS and £11m was paid out to the 1.6 million participants.

Gosh that's almost £7 each. With an offer like that, we're bound to see crowds of people swaggering into Poundland to splurge their windfail.  

Thank you, Tony Blair

Gail MacDonald has a neat TCW piece on the link between devolution and ego.

Devolution equals ego inflation

TWENTY-FIVE years into devolution, and the outcomes for health, education and the economy don’t so much scream success as whimper to be put out their misery. But leave aside the big devolved political mess, and It’s not all bad. Nicola, Alex, Humza, that Welsh guy and Sadiq Khan have been having quite the time, and now we can see what happens when devolved powers go to the head. An exponential rise in ego is what happens.

Short, but the whole piece is well worth reading. When it comes to pushing policies of the permanent administration, strutting egos are happy to make them their own. 

So you throw a little power around and before you know it, ego inflation is rampant. Thank you, Tony Blair, you Frankenstein you. Now your grandiose and pompous monsters are running around the world, attacking your UK government. A little power to sort out some things and what happens? Egos blow up and people get carried away with themselves.

Put them on Celebrity Big Brother to feed their souls. We owe them that much. But someone please end this vanity project once and for all before someone gets hurt by an exploding head.

The fate of the loyal voter

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

Fyodor Dostoevsky - Polzunkov (1848)

Thursday 26 October 2023

Inadvertent mistakes

Labour's Rachel Reeves urged to 'explain herself' amid 'plagiarism' row over 20 examples of other people's unattributed work found in her new book - as shadow chancellor

She said 'inadvertent mistakes' in The Women Who Made Modern Economics 

Labour's Rachel Reeves is at the centre of a row over alleged plagiarism today after 20 unattributed examples of other people's work were found in her new book.

But what we call experience is merely the revelation to our own eyes of a trait in our character which naturally reappears, and reappears all the more markedly because we have already brought it into prominence once of our own accord, so that the spontaneous impulse which guided us on the first occasion finds itself reinforced by all the suggestions of memory. The human plagiarism which it is most difficult to avoid, for individuals (and even for nations which persevere in their faults and continue to aggravate them) is the plagiarism of ourselves.

Marcel Proust or Rachel Reeves

Spooks, surveys and other figments of the imagination.

More than one in five Brits believe their house is haunted, according to new survey

Whenever Halloween comes around, all things paranormal enter our thoughts and it turns out many of us Brits (69 per cent) believe ghosts, spirits and apparitions are real – and not just figments of our imagination.

In a Paramount+ survey to celebrate the launch of the new supernatural thriller, The Burning Girls, it found that 38 per cent are convinced they have seen something ghostly that unnerved them, with 51 per cent of those insisting the presence was friendly (phew).

A far more interesting investigation would be the number of people who don't take surveys seriously and answer accordingly. I don't and would.

Paranormal Note
As far as I know this blog isn't haunted by an uneasy spirit or an apparition.

Climate change and the shrinking dog mystery

Nobody should be alarmed by this, but small breeds of pet dogs seem to be even smaller than they were only a few years ago. Everyone must have noticed this strange trend because it’s impossible to miss. 

Many super-titchy dogs don’t even look like dogs, more like animated toys on the end of a lead. Today we saw a matching pair resembling small, elongated mop heads. It's remiss of me, but I didn't check to see if the paving behind them had been swept clean. Next time perhaps.

Some dogs are so tiny that a chap is bound to wonder why owners don’t just shove them into a pocket with the car keys. Is it because the little creature might chew the car keys or wallet? I’m sure they aren’t big enough to swallow them.

Cheap pets to feed I suppose, but whatever the answer to the shrinkage issue, it must be a stone cold certainty that the whole thing is directly caused by climate change. Your car and gas central heating boiler are stunting the growth of small dogs, making them ever smaller. 

It's an opportunity for dodgy scientists to grab a few more headlines I’d say. Maybe they have already.

Wednesday 25 October 2023


Bristol grandma climbed M25 gantry 'in climate emergency protest'

Ms Delap, a mother of two, said she had been given climbing training by a Just Stop Oil mentor before taking part in the protest.

Ms Delap, who said demonstrators had gone to a "safe house" the night before the protest, said she had climbed a ladder and sat on the gantry.

Blimey, unless they were having her on, the the JSO lot are so up themselves that they talk about going to a "safe house" beforehand. In hushed voices with mobile phones turned off I hope. 

Or maybe the idea was to see how far the BBC's leg can be pulled, because the daft old Beeb seems to swallow anything like this. 

Not hilarious perhaps, but certainly amusing.

Remembering Faces

Yesterday I went out for lunch with some former work colleagues, chaps I’ve known for decades. We often refer to ourselves as a group of old men which we are, but because I’ve aged with them I can’t see a great change in their facial features. I’d recognise them anywhere.

When we recognise and recall faces, we seem to rely on quite a narrow range of features which don’t change much over the years except for children as they grow into adulthood. We know this of course, and we also know that the facial features we use for recognition aren’t necessarily the same from person to person.

Take two of my cousins for example. I’ll call them cousin A and cousin B. When Mrs H and I go on holiday in Devon I sometimes meet up with cousin A because she only lives about an hour from where we stay. This year I emailed a photo of cousin A to cousin B because he hasn’t seen her for decades. After looking at the photo, cousin B thinks cousin A looks like her mother, but I don’t see the similarity, so I assume we are recalling different facial features.

If I try to remember the faces of people I lost touch with fifty odd years ago, I find I recall hair styles and certain facial features, but a more complete image of a face remains elusive. Yet add in a voice and a few hints and I’d probably recognise them if we met again. And we'd both be mildly horrified to see how old we are.

Matt should have read Gracián


Keep the extent of your Abilities unknown. The wise man does not allow his knowledge and abilities to be sounded to the bottom, if he desires to be honoured by all. He allows you to know them but not to comprehend them. No one must know the extent of his abilities, lest he be disappointed. No one ever has an opportunity of fathoming him entirely. For guesses and doubts about the extent of his talents arouse more veneration than accurate knowledge of them, be they ever so great.

Baltasar Gracián - The Art of Worldly Wisdom (1647)

Tuesday 24 October 2023



First broadcast in 1969. Doesn't appear to have dated much, but I'm not a librarian.

Two Headlines


World shift to clean energy is unstoppable, IEA report says

BBC Again

Scotland's winter death toll worst in more than 30 years

Monday 23 October 2023

Wood and Lessons

Hyesan schools demand firewood and cash from students to prepare for winter heating

School administrators are worrying that they might have to close their facilities this winter because they cannot heat the classrooms, a source told Daily NK

Schools in Yanggang Province’s city of Hyesan are demanding students contribute firewood or cash to purchase firewood to heat classrooms during the coming winter, Daily NK has learned.

Speaking on condition of anonymity for security reasons, a source in Yanggang Province told Daily NK on Oct. 12 that “schools in Hyesan that have to find ways to get firewood on their own to heat classrooms in winter are pressing students to contribute firewood or cash [to purchase firewood].”

Ho ho, it's only North Korea, but this paragraph is a reminder of how Net Zero is developing.

“Everything here in North Korea is resolved through non-tax burdens placed on ordinary people, but the worsening of people’s finances is leading to increased difficulties,” the source said, referring to items, such as firewood or manure, that the government demands from its people. “The reality faced by people here is shown by the fact that parents have to contribute firewood if they don’t want students to have a tough time this winter.”

A phrase worth remembering - non-tax burdens placed on ordinary people. Our lot are doing that and have been ramping it up for a while. It's an obvious outcome of Net Zero. And outcome indicates intention.

Evil River

We buzzed off to Matlock today as all roads appeared to be open and it was forecast to be a reasonably fine day. As it turned out there wasn’t much sign of flooding apart from the A6 road surface being unusually clean.

Strolling by the river Derwent Mrs H observed how evil it looked and it certainly did. The river was still in spate after all the rain, deep brown and whirling its violent way under the railway bridge. It’s where folk sometimes practice their kayak skills during more normal flows. Today they would be lucky to survive.

Ugly streamers of trailing debris caught in the lower branches of riverside trees showed how high the river had risen when it peaked. Not a pleasant sight and yes, it did look evil, as if  intent on drowning anyone unlucky enough to fall in. Even here, the natural world isn’t always nice and attractive.

When neither is a positive good


The lad he employed in his office was run over by a cab one slippery day, and all but killed. Piers visited him in the hospital, thus seeing for the first time the interior of one of those houses of pain, which he always disliked even to pass. The experience did not help to brighten his mood; he lacked that fortunate temper of the average man, which embraces as a positive good the less of two evils. 

George Gissing - The Crown Of Life (1899)

As we know, Tweedledee and Tweedledum are probably the only candidates with a realistic expectation of becoming Prime Minister after the next general election. Even when neither party leader is a positive good, that seems to be the only choice. Although neither Tory party nor Labour party is a positive good either, one of them is likely to be embraced by the electoral system.

Yet anyone may easily imagine a situation where the media often point out party similarities as well as differences, where media analysis commonly includes the constraints of external pressures, the number of inexperienced MPs, the paucity of their technical knowledge, their general lack of business experience and examples incompetence and weakness displayed by the permanent administration. 

But look, a soundbite squirrel!

Sunday 22 October 2023

The death of politics

Derrick Berthelsen has a useful Critic piece which represents our failing political system as an example of failing homeostasis. It's a useful way to express the familiar problem of elites failing to understand the importance of feedback between their class and the rest of society.

Homeostasis and the death of politics

Ignore feedback mechanisms at your peril

Homeostasis, according to Britannica, is “any self-regulating process by which biological systems tend to maintain stability whilst adjusting to conditions that are optimal for survival”.

Whilst stability appears to be a steady state, in reality it is anything but: “the stability attained is actually a dynamic equilibrium, in which continuous change occurs yet relatively uniform conditions prevail.”

How does the system know what and where to change, in order to reach and maintain homeostasis? “Any system in dynamic equilibrium tends to reach a steady state, a balance that resists outside forces of change. When such a system is disturbed, built-in regulatory devices respond to the departures to establish a new balance; such a process is one of feedback control.”

The whole piece is well worth reading as a reminder of how out of touch our MPs are. For example -

According to Parliament, today only three per cent of MPs in the House of Commons have any experience of blue-collar work. In numerical terms, the number of MPs who had working class jobs before entering politics can today be counted on two hands, whilst conversely nearly one in five MPs have only ever worked in politics straight from University.

And this reminder that both major UK political parties are relatively uniform in their make-up.

As Professor David Runciman explained it in his piece “The key flaw in our democracy: MPs don’t represent the people”:

This points to the need for a more profound reform of how parliament represents the people. The problem goes deeper than partisan divides: neither of the main parties is able to bridge wider social divisions because both parties are relatively uniform in their make-up


It has been going on for years now, but hugging seems to be reaching epidemic levels. I saw a group of people hugging away in a café this morning, as if they hadn’t seen each other since school days.

Nothing wrong with it, but I’m not a natural hugger so it tends to come across as rather too gushing to chime with my social outlook. 

I’ll tentatively hug back if hugged, but never initiate hugs, I leave that to the huggers and generally stay beyond hugging radius. Fortunately the typical hugging radius seems quite short so I don't have to disappear towards the horizon. 

A failure selling bootlaces

All that the street had to give for the moment was a bishop and an actor mounting the steps of the Garrick Club, an old lady with a black bonnet and a milk-jug, a young man in a hurry and a failure selling bootlaces.

Hugh Walpole – The Captives (1920)

Doesn’t happen now, no failure has to sell bootlaces or even admit to being a failure. Politics, a life on benefits, a sinecure here, a charity there. We rid ourselves of failures selling bootlaces decades ago.

A good thing too, but not an unalloyed good. It’s a reminder that there are quite a few people in public life who should be selling bootlaces.

Saturday 21 October 2023

She felt Britain needed "more normal people going into politics"

Georgia Harrison 'had talks' about becoming Labour MP

TV personality Georgia Harrison has said she has had "serious conversations" with Labour MPs about a bid to represent the party in Essex.

The former Love Island star, 28, told the Sun she felt Britain needed "more normal people going into politics".

Ms Harrison has campaigned on violence against women and girls - and hopes a run for Parliament would inspire girls.

Her ex-partner Stephen Bear was jailed earlier this year for posting intimate footage of her online.

What a splendid idea, we do need to see "more normal people going into politics" as opposed to "Sir" Keir's weird dimwits. Unfortunately for Georgia, experience is important too.

Perhaps it counts as experience, but I don't want to know what Love Island is, it won't be edifying. Maybe real life has turned into a soap opera, it does feel like that at times.

Unprecedented local flooding

Flooded again yesterday

On the buses


From our friendly bus driver –

"I'll have a return please driver."

"Where to?"

"Back here please."

Jubilantly humble

I’m the heir to Blair, says Starmer after Tory ‘armageddon’ by-election defeats

Sir Keir Starmer has cast himself as the heir to Sir Tony Blair after his party clinched two major by-election victories in Tory safe seats – a result that he jubilantly declared a “game-changer”.

The Labour leader insisted his party would stay “humble” – but boasted that he could see the “summit” of a general election victory, as he cited Sir Tony’s 1997 triumph.

It's not easy to prise any nuggets of optimism from that. A significant number of voters could end up holding their noses very tightly while they vote Tory merely to keep him out. That's how it works of course, but "Sir" Keir is certainly making a fine job of playing the two party game by being quietly odious. 

Still Raining

Blimey it's still raining here in our bit of Derbyshire. Soon Mrs H and I may have to venture out in search of coffee. 

We may be gone for some time.

Friday 20 October 2023

Underestimating Argentinian discontent

David Smith has an interesting Critic piece on the perennial woes of Argentina

Argentina, crying for change

Outsiders are underestimating the scale of Argentinian discontent

Sometimes, living in Argentina, you have to pinch yourself to believe how a country blessed with so much can deliver so little — first to its own people, then perhaps to the world. Yet, if you shed a tear some days, it’s not just about the state of the country at home, but the way some in that wider world misread what’s happening here. They see modern Argentina as a cradle of brave, left-wing pioneers, instead of corrupt, power-hungry folks who have run the place forever.

The self-inflicted damage is all too evident. Argentina represents one of the world’s leading breadbaskets, with farmland that can do it all, yet almost half of its own population lives below the poverty line. Hunger is truly a scandal when you consider Argentina’s potential to feed a billion people across our planet.

The whole piece is well worth reading, not only as a reminder of Argentina's problems, but also a reminder of how damaging and resistant to reform corrupt governments can be. Even the UK Guardian has a role in failing to diagnose the problems.

The Left in Europe is often trapped in the past when it comes to Latin America. It celebrates a political class that espouses socialism and care for the poor, whilst ignoring the obvious consequences of their policies: spending a lot more than they have and printing money so much as to fuel sky-high inflation. This is not to mention the theft of hundreds of millions of dollars whilst in power — corruption writ large.

Grow your own

Hull: The city set to give people the 'right to grow'

Hull looks set to become the first UK city to give people the "right to grow" food on disused council land.

Councillor Mark Ieronimo, the council's infrastructure portfolio holder, says the city is "blessed with green areas", adding there are also spaces that are no longer used, such as former car parks.

"It's hard to grow your own food," he explains. "I know because of the amount of tomatoes I've lost over the years is incredible.

Fine, let's grow our own veg, nothing wrong with that. Round here there are plenty of terraced houses with long gardens built for miners and other working people. Growing veg for the family was just something people did without the taint of council virtue.

Admittedly some have been used for growing cannabis...



I never know when I’ll next meet Clem. Months go by then my phone bleeps and it’s a terse text saying he’s in the area so how about a moorland walk? It’s always a moorland walk with Clem. Not the scenic bits though, always the bleak stretches. Usually a bleak time of year too.

The last time was early December last year. Haven’t heard much from him since, but we met at our usual café where Clem was as taciturn as always. I suppose we are both that way and perhaps it’s why we get on so well. He seemed slightly scruffier than usual, beard even less neat and his woolly hat had a hole but that’s Clem. He isn’t hard up – far from it.

We were both equipped with boots and waterproofs because the weather forecast wasn’t good and after a quiet coffee, off we went. Our usual walk begins with a stiff climb which I swear is steeper than it used to be, but we reached the moors soon enough. A dull December afternoon it was, great stretches of tussocky brown heather under low grey skies.

“I love all this,” Clem replied to my comment about the unlovely conditions, “it’s atmospheric.” He always says that. Possibly it is.

After about six miles we took a break and sat for a while on a cold gritstone rock for a drink. I had my flask of tea while Clem took an old glass bottle of apple juice from his pocket. He said it was apple juice, but he seemed to enjoy it far more than I would.

“What would most people think of this?” Clem waved an arm to take in a great sweep of moorland.

“It’s too bleak, much better when the heather’s out, and maybe a bit of sun, and some blue sky would improve the visuals. And some warmth,” I added, squinting into a bitter breeze.

“It would be horribly crowded though,” Clem answered, “and that’s not the point of being here. I reckon what we see in places and times like this is the beat of the universe. On and on and on. It never stops, never pauses, never repeats itself. Not a single second is ever repeated. Now that’s worth slogging up here for.”

“Oh, well - maybe so if you want to paint in some mystique, but it’s only a stretch of moorland and we’ve been here before. It looks much the same to me.”

“Ah but we haven’t been here before, not exactly. It changes and will change forever and we can’t come back. We never can come back. That must be worth contemplating – once we’ve left this rock we can’t quite come back.”

“That’s Heraclitus saying you can’t step Into the same river twice – for the same reason.”

“Of course it is, but we forget don’t we? We never really listened to the man, never took on the broad insight.”

“Okay, suppose we never listen. Why do we think that is?”

“Because out there…” Clem paused. 

“Because?” I replaced the plastic cup on my flask, because I was ready enough to leave our cold rock and the thickening gloom and gathering mists of late afternoon.

“Because out there is the river of Heraclitus,” Clem continued. “It’s the same truth, slightly less easy to see, but we can sit here and see what he saw. Perhaps he saw God.”

“But you aren’t a believer.”

“No I’m not, that’s a stumbling block.” Clem stroked his beard. “But out there is an eternal indifference which has handed us a whole lifetime to do with as we will. That eternal indifference – name it as you will, it’s worth contemplating. We only get one short lifetime to do it, one flicker then out we go and no coming back for another attempt.”

After that bit of Clem’s philosophy we trudged back to the café for another coffee. Not quite the same coffee of course – as Clem just had to remind me. By then it was almost dark outside, the café virtually empty. Somebody had left the door open so I pulled it shut against the cold, but that made the place seem even more empty.

“It’s the problem of yesterday,” Clem suddenly said while stirring his coffee with a small twig he’d picked up from the moor. He took the twig from his coffee, stared at it for a moment before dropping it on the table. It lay there in a tiny brown puddle of coffee.

“Take the perennial yearning for Utopia,” he continued. “Even if we get there, Utopia today becomes Utopia as it was yesterday because today it isn’t quite the same. Can’t be. The beat of the universe goes on and our precious Utopia slips away into last week, last year and never ever comes back as it was. It changes and the changes can’t be fixed. Slowly, slowly our Utopian dream slides away down the memory hole. Inexorably…”

Then Clem seemed to wake up, knocked back his coffee and climbed to his feet. “Time to be off.“

Thursday 19 October 2023

Shallow Doom

Greta Thunberg joins climate protest outside JP Morgan

It follows a protest on Tuesday in Park Lane where oil executives had gathered for the Energy Intelligence Forum.

Ms Thunberg, 20, was arrested at that demonstration and charged with a public order offence. A further 26 people were charged.

An aspect of this story and many similar is that the demonstrators do not need to know much about the global climate. They have to learn some simple phrases, but the rest is performance. It’s shallow because it doesn’t need to be anything else.

Climate catastrophe language is positively reinforced socially, especially within certain pressure groups and major media corporations. The language and the performance are socially rewarding, even if challenged by police and the law, because invited challenge is part of the performance. Even unlawful activity may be positively reinforced by supporters and sections of the media - that's what matters.

When protesters protest and shout their catastrophe language, it is most unlikely that they feel the imminence of climate disaster. Theirs is not that kind of behaviour, it is a shallow social performance which is rewarded strongly enough to perpetuate it.

It’s all very shallow, but we are shallow as part of our adaptability. If we observe the protesters and listen to what they say, their behaviour is clearly controlled by social rewards, not the global climate. Shallow virtue is what it's all about.

Our drivel takes precedence over yours

Investigation launched into Worcester Bosch over hydrogen marketing concerns

The move follows a Sky News investigation which highlighted potentially misleading claims made by a number of heating and boiler companies and prompted Worcester Bosch to remove some information about hydrogen from its website.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has announced it is investigating leading boiler manufacturer Worcester Bosch over whether it has been misleading consumers by marketing a range of gas boilers as "hydrogen-blend ready".

The general responsibility for propagating sustainability drivel lies with the government, the same outfit which can't manage our future energy needs, build a modern railway from London to Manchester, defend our borders or manage a relatively minor pandemic without trashing the economy. 

Look, a hydrogen squirrel!

Wednesday 18 October 2023

Ronald Blythe - The Rector of Stiffkey

More info here.

Epic Scale

MI5 head warns of 'epic scale' of Chinese espionage

More than 20,000 people in the UK have now been approached covertly online by Chinese spies, the head of MI5 said.

It comes amid a new warning to tens of thousands of British businesses of the risk of having their innovation stolen.

Crikey that sounds like a dodgy situation. 

Maybe China is interested in the secrets of HS2, Net Zero technology, the technological battle against climate change and how we make use of China's solar panels without enough sunshine.

Or maybe the real focus is on more subtle secrets such as how the BBC manages to keep going and why senior media officials such as Gary Lineker are paid so much. 

Although they may already know all of that.

Tuesday 17 October 2023

Running Fantasy

London Marathon: International competitors to be charged climate levy

International competitors in the London Marathon will be charged a £26 climate levy as part of efforts to make the race net zero by 2030.

London Marathon Events (LME) said the funds will be used to pay carbon removal company CUR8 to pull 280 tonnes of CO2 from the air.

Organisers said they were being "more ambitious" on climate targets.

Quite right too, but surely an even more ambitious approach would be a requirement that all international competitors should run all the way to London shortly before the race.  

I hope no competitor is allowed to wear clothing or footwear derived from oil-based products. Nothing made from fibres processed using fossil fuels either, so no cotton, wool or linen. That just leaves fur and wooden clogs or bast shoes I suppose. Should be more entertaining than usual.

Beyond Everything

It has been clear for years that the UK Nudge Unit is only one aspect of official attempts to mould public behaviour via behavioural psychology. Even at the time of it’s formation, the basic idea of moulding behaviour via this kind of mass therapy cannot have been new to many senior officials. Nor to many international bureaucrats.

For example, Klaus Schwab founded the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 1971, the same year that American psychologist B. F. Skinner published his book Beyond Freedom and Dignity.

Beyond Freedom and Dignity is a 1971 book by American psychologist B. F. Skinner. Skinner argues that entrenched belief in free will and the moral autonomy of the individual (which Skinner referred to as "dignity") hinders the prospect of using scientific methods to modify behavior for the purpose of building a happier and better-organized society.

A few decades later we have the notorious "You'll own nothing and be happy”, also associated with the WEF via its originator Ida Auken.

"You'll own nothing and you'll be happy" (alternatively "you'll own nothing and be happy") is a phrase originating in a 2016 video by the World Economic Forum (WEF), summarising an essay written by Danish politician Ida Auken. The phrase has been used by critics who accuse the WEF of desiring restrictions on ownership of private property.

There are numerous indications that influential people in the developed world have similar views on the general direction of modern government. That direction is relentlessly top-down because a government rationale based on moulding public behaviour cannot be anything but top-down.

Like hordes of amateur psychologists let loose in a humongous asylum, officials and major political actors do not require input from the inmates – or voters as we used to call them. Democracy has faded into the pages of history, to be replaced by weird totalitarian therapy. 

Monday 16 October 2023

Reduce Farming To Feed The World

Kerry forgets to make sense again. 

The gods themselves battle in vain

Can we imprison carbon dioxide?

Carbon dioxide is the big villain in the causes of global warming - the "most wanted" for crimes against the climate that we'd love to lock up.

In Merseyside and North Wales, they're putting a posse together.

It's called HyNet and it's a group of around 40 carbon-intensive industries brought together as a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) cluster.

‘Your Excellency does not read Schiller, I suppose. You are probably not acquainted with his celebrated line: mit der Dummheit kämpfen die Götter selbst vergebens.’

‘What does it mean?’

‘Roughly: Against stupidity the gods themselves battle in vain.’ ‘Good morning.’

W. Somerset Maugham – The Door of Opportunity (1951)

Sunday 15 October 2023

Make it a year

Australian Indigenous leaders call for 'week of silence' after referendum defeat

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australian Indigenous leaders called for a week of silence and reflection after a referendum to recognise the First Peoples in the constitution was decisively rejected by a majority of the population.

More than 60% of Australians voted "No" in the landmark referendum on Saturday, the first in almost a quarter of a century, that asked whether to alter the constitution to recognise Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people through the creation of an Indigenous advisory body, the "Voice to Parliament".

More Twaddle

Humza Yousaf signals change in independence strategy

Humza Yousaf has said he would welcome an independence referendum "tomorrow" as he signalled a change in his preferred strategy...

Winning a majority of seats rather than "most", the SNP would argue, gives a stronger mandate for an independence referendum.

Winning fewer seats would give a stronger mandate says Humza. 

Hmm - may as well tag that as "twaddle" and that's generous.

Saturday 14 October 2023

Here’s what you think about things

MP who defected to Tories likens SNP to ‘cult’

Lisa Cameron announced this week she would cross the floor, claiming there was a “toxic” culture within the SNP group at Westminster...

In an interview with the Scottish Daily Mail, Dr Cameron said she regretted not leaving sooner than Thursday, when she was just hours away from hearing the outcome of a selection contest in her East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow seat against SNP staffer Grant Costello.

Dr Cameron told the paper: “It is almost like, with the SNP, you sort of get indoctrinated a bit, I feel in an unhealthy way, and your identity gets merged with the doctrine. It’s like, ‘Here’s what you think about things’.

It's odd that a consultant clinical psychologist had to join the party, be selected as a parliamentary candidate and become an MP before she made this unsurprising discovery. Many people who aren't consultant clinical psychologists managed to work it out without going through all that.

Levelling Down

“Has he given up his money?” Sir Leonard asked scornfully.

“Not a bit of it! You’re not abreast of the times, dad. Socialism doesn’t mean levelling down, it means levelling up. Robert is waiting for them to level up!”

Vernon Loder – Death in the Thicket (1932)

It’s slightly odd to encounter a quote on levelling up from over ninety years ago. At the time it was a rhetorical response to conservative jibes that socialism was levelling down.

Even odder is a modern Conservative government making this old and weak rhetorical defence of socialism into government policy.

Friday 13 October 2023

Disinformation panics

Fred Skulthorp has a fine Critic piece on disinformation.

The next great disinformation panic

Journalists gain trust by trusting the public

The first great disinformation panic started roughly around 2016 and lasted right up until the present day. Every time you logged on to your social media, you were at risk. Your vegetative scroll through the timeline became a multi-million pound information defence operation aimed at countering “fake news” and “disinformation”.

In the space of just half a decade, an entire new infrastructure of media was set up to tackle this grave threat to Western societies. “Expert” NGOs signed lucrative contracts with government departments and social media companies. Philanthropic donors, from Google to Bill Gates, pumped money into “not for profit” newsrooms to garner audience trust around issues that were supposedly being wrecked by this age of fake news and misinformation.

The whole piece is well worth reading, as among other aspects it highlights what disinformation has become. Like Net Zero, climate change and sustainability,  disinformation has become a brand, a marketing tool. Connection with physical reality is loose and flexible, manipulating people is the primary purpose. 

Disinformation is no longer really about “fact checking”. It’s a brand — a marketing tool. Since the pandemic, it has lost interest in determining the truth via the methodology of “disinformation”, having found out the task was both impossible and doomed to hypocrisy. Unsurprisingly, a definition of determining wrong information around “information intended to mislead” ended up getting abused by its many practitioners. During the pandemic, the amount of evidence we now have of the inaccurate labelling of perfectly legitimate information as “misinformation” means that the only serious debate is whether this amounted to a form of censorship.

Sub-cycles of the Financial Entropy

"your insightful delineation of the temporal attractiveness of cash captures the broader oscillations inherent in the financial cycles and sub-cycles of the Financial Entropy."

dearieme's twaddle example for today

Commenter dearieme has suggested regular posts on twaddle encountered while browsing the internet. Good idea, submissions welcome - if I receive them I'll post them. It probably won't be particularly regular as nobody wishes to spend too much time in twaddle swamps.   

Right up to the desks

Imagine a secondary school where local streets are temporarily clogged with cars every school morning and afternoon. So clogged that sometimes local people cannot drive onto their own driveway until pupil delivery and collection have dissipated.

It's nowhere near as bad where we are, but it is for some people we know. The deputy head of the school once visited them and said -

"They would drive right up to the desks if they could."

Thursday 12 October 2023

One big Gordian Knot of intertwined policies

Awkward Git has a worthwhile TCW reminder of where the Welsh 20mph speed limit comes from.

The real reason for Wales’s 20mph speed limit

SUDDENLY out of nowhere the population and politicians of Wales are shocked that a 20mph speed limit has been imposed across much of the country.

In fact it has been in the making for many years, since at least 2010, when the UN’s little-known Economic Commission in Europe (UNECE) held a workshop to ‘raise awareness about the important challenges that climate change impacts and adaptation requirements present for international transport networks . . . The workshop highlighted that while transport is responsible for greenhouse gas emissions it is, at the same time, heavily affected by the impacts of climate change. This workshop demonstrated the urgent need to prepare appropriate policy actions.’

The piece is short and well worth reading because our political establishment has no intention of standing the the way of such measures. There are many roads round here where 30mph is much too fast, but to say that risks missing the political point. 

As Mr Git neatly puts it, the source of the new limit is like one big Gordian Knot of intertwined policies.

Everything seems to be an integral part of the sustainable development and Great Reset agendas.


I’m not any more now I can see the Big Picture and where it leads.

It’s like one big Gordian Knot of intertwined policies that are designed to ensnare and enslave us while proclaiming it will enhance our physical and mental wellbeing, make us safer, happier, healthier and so on and on and on.

Curious Clocks and Watches

 A glimpse into another world.

Wednesday 11 October 2023

Make no mistake

Emma Burnell has an interesting CAPX piece on Keir Starmer and the Labour party. Interesting as it is a Labour supporting journalist's perspective on Starmer's grip on the party, yet it comes across as the progress of a competitive game with no reference to anything beyond the game.

Make no mistake – Labour is Keir Starmer’s party now

The first standing ovation for Starmer’s speech was about Labour being a changed party. The second was for his making it very clear that Labour stands firmly behind Israel.

Make no mistake: This is Starmer’s party now.

He couldn’t have scripted the protest moment better. A wally with glitter and no message gave Starmer the opportunity to show his ‘no drama Starmer’ persona in full. Casually removing his jacket and rolling up his shirt sleeves made him look like a man ready for business.

This is the interesting aspect - Disraeli's Great Game portrayed as a game and nothing else. "He couldn’t have scripted the protest moment better" - or a tactical move fell into his lap.

"Casually removing his jacket and rolling up his shirt sleeves" was a move in the game. Starmer made use of a fortunate opportunity to profit from lax security and an individual's foolishness. There was nothing else in it. It did not represent "a man ready for business", it represented a player's move in the Great Game.

There were several standout stars of this conference. As I said at the top, this is Starmer’s party now. But his confidence in that is demonstrated when he allows others to shine. The response to Rachel Reeves’ speech was almost as ecstatic as it was to Starmer’s. There were seven standing ovations (Keir had 13) and both were standing room only.

Comparison with a football match is difficult to resist, especially the description of loyal supporters sensing that their fortunes have turned after years trying to avoid relegation. They might even score a goal, but unfortunately they aren't playing for our side. 

It’s not for me

During a relative’s recent hospital visit, a hospital consultant was asked if he intended to go on strike. He said he would but not for himself, he was striking in support of the junior doctors.

The consultant also works in a private hospital. Any person with a cancelled NHS appointment may wonder if his strike action applied to his private work as well, but he wasn’t asked that question.

Climate Froth

Climate crisis will change taste of beer and make it more expensive, say scientists

Some European hop producers give beer the citrus, floral and fruit aromas which have become so popular among UK drinkers.

Experts said with falling hop yields, British and European drinkers should expect to see the cost of beer increase in the coming years.

They aren't trying very hard, this one isn't even scary.

Tuesday 10 October 2023

NHS reform and the incompetence of the state

Kristian Niemietz has a pointed CAPX piece on fixing the NHS.

If there was a way to fix the NHS, we would probably have found it by now

Last week, I spoke at a panel at Think Tent 2023, a series of fringe events jointly organised by the Institute of Economic Affairs and the Taxpayers’ Alliance which was running alongside the Conservative Party Conference. The panel was on the question of ‘How can we improve Britain’s health service?’, and my take was that we probably cannot, fundamentally. The NHS has been reorganised more times than anyone can count. If there was a way to fix it, we would probably have found it by now.

The whole piece is short but well worth reading because of his key point. The known incompetence of the state is an obvious obstacle in switching from the NHS to, for example, a ‘Social Health Insurance’ (SHI) system.

One of my fellow panellists, Toby Brown from the King’s Fund, made a reasonable case against a switch to an SHI system. His issue, though, was not with the destination, but with the way to get there. He accepted that SHI was ‘a great healthcare system for many countries across the world’. But he also cautioned:

‘We’re talking about a state that is failing to build a railway from London to Manchester. Are we going to trust it to completely rewire the health service?’

That is an entirely fair point. One could have added the chaotic Brexit process, and the messed-up, endlessly delayed rollout of Universal Credit, as further cautionary tales.

Maybe they tried eating it in the dark

North Korean seafood sales experience slump in China

Daily NK found that North Korean exporters have been asking for twice as much as market prices in China today

North Korean attempts to sell seafood on the Chinese black market have not been going well recently, Daily NK has learned. One of the primary reasons for the slump in demand for seafood inside China is Japan’s release of radioactive water from Fukushima.

Forgive the bias, but maybe North Korean seafood is something of a culinary last resort. It sounds even more unappealing than Walkers crisps.

Maybe this is why I'm not keen on sprouts

Liz has been a fussy eater all her life. Now experts say people like her may actually have a little-known eating disorder

Avoidant restrictive food intake disorder (ARFID), was only recognised in 2013

There are lots of other possibilities here because I'm sure I have Avoidant restrictive media intake disorder (ARMID). Luckily there is no cure.

Monday 9 October 2023

That's not very encouraging

Rachel Reeves promises ‘iron discipline’ in Labour conference speech as Mark Carney weighs in for shadow chancellor

Rachel Reeves declared Labour “ready to serve, lead and rebuild Britain” on Monday as she unveiled her vision for the nation with her party feeling power tantalising within its grasp.

The shadow chancellor promised “iron discipline” to restore Britain’s “dire” public finances and won a resounding endorsement from former Bank of England governor Mark Carney who said it was “beyond time we put her energy and ideas into action”.

The presence of Mark Carney isn't encouraging, or maybe he is even more discouraging. He's certainly no friend of ordinary folk, but neither is the Labour party - hasn't been that for a very long time.

Gentrified Nature

We buzzed off on a short walk in the hills around Cromford today. A very pleasant day it was too, but one of the woodland paths had a new marker, a carved wooden pillar with the number 10 on it.

It was probably something like the markers dotted along the kind of walks found in leaflets displayed in visitor centres and cafés. They often show colour-coded walking routes such as blue, red and yellow designating walks of different distances.

As Mrs H once said of a recently visited wildlife wetland - it’s like gentrifying the natural world. It’s also akin to the walks laid out by landowning gentry in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Easy paths with seats provided along the way so that guests could amble through the estate and admire the views.

Now we have colour-coding, information boards and leaflets with simple maps. There is nothing wrong with any of it, it is still very easy to get away from the gentrified areas, but it all becomes our world rather than the natural world as it would be if left alone.

Sunday 8 October 2023

Universal impotence

He told Bruce of his plan. “There’s a note I’d like to strike. It’s about impotence. Have you noticed, going along the streets, that all of the people you see are tired out, impotent?” he asked. “What is a newspaper—the most impotent thing in the world. What is the theater? Have you gone much lately? They give you such a weariness that your back aches, and the movies, God, the movies are ten times worse, and if this war isn’t a sign of universal impotence, sweeping over the world like a disease, then I don’t know much.

Sherwood Anderson - Dark Laughter (1925)

Given a certain level of security, impotence seems to be something middle class people willingly vote for and elites willingly provide.

Faith, Masters and Fetters


It is life that, little by little, case by case, enables us to observe that what is most important to our heart, or to our mind, is learned not by reasoning but by other powers. And then it is the intellect itself which, taking note of their superiority, abdicates its sway to them upon reasoned grounds and consents to become their collaborator and their servant. It is faith confirmed by experiment.

Marcel Proust - À la recherche du temps perdu


What would you have? The government has freed us from the dependence of serfdom--and many thanks to it! but the habits of slavery are too deeply ingrained in us; we cannot easily be rid of them. We want a master in everything and everywhere; as a rule this master is a living person, sometimes it is some so-called tendency which gains authority over us.... At present, for instance, we are all the bondslaves of natural science.... Why, owing to what causes, we take this bondage upon us, that is a matter difficult to see into; but such seemingly is our nature. But the great thing is, that we should have a master.

Ivan Turgenev – Smoke (1867)


Cold, hunger, animal terror, a burden of toil, like avalanches of snow, block for them every way to spiritual activity--that is, to what distinguishes man from the brutes and what is the only thing which makes life worth living. You go to their help with hospitals and schools, but you don't free them from their fetters by that; on the contrary, you bind them in closer bonds, as, by introducing new prejudices, you increase the number of their wants, to say nothing of the fact that they've got to pay the Zemstvo for drugs and books, and so toil harder than ever.

Anton Chekhov – An Artist’s Story (1896)

Whatsit cannot afford to be boring somebody says

Adam Boulton: Starmer cannot afford to be 'boring' – Labour has to show it's shifted into top gear towards election win

Despite the excitement after Labour's by-election win in Scotland, it is not a done deal yet. At the party's conference in Liverpool, Sir Keir Starmer will need to go beyond "if not them, why us?" during his speech, writes Adam Boulton.

Saturday 7 October 2023

Why us?

'If not them, why us?' Keir Starmer needs to give people a reason to vote Labour

Change: the simple reason Mr Sunak is trying to position himself as a change candidate despite leading a party in power for 13 years. He has no option, however much of a stretch it may seem.

Both parties' polling shows that voters overwhelmingly want things to change.

What they are yet to be convinced of is that the change has to be a Labour government. Sir Keir's task in Liverpool this week then is to answer the question: "If not them, why us?"

Rather than pretend this has everything to do with voters looking for reasons, it may be better to view it as a decision the media must make - which way to push swing voters.

Both of the Parliamentary Collective's main teams, Tory and Labour, are there to take the flak when things go wrong. Yet things going wrong isn't an undesirable state of affairs from a media perspective, because that's where the political stories are. More foul-ups, more stories.

Which brand of fake change will the media go for? That's the question.

Stifled By Clerics

Pervez Hoodbhoy has an interesting Dawn piece on Pakistan compared to the world’s Muslim-majority countries.

Is Pakistan unusual?

IS Pakistan unlike the world’s Muslim-majority countries? In some respects, certainly, but not in others. While religious violence there is on the higher side, it shares some striking similarities with other Muslim countries.

Turkish author Ahmet Kuru helps situate Pakistan within a broader context of authoritarianism, underdevelopment, and ongoing conflicts in Muslim countries. Kuru is a professor of political science at San Diego State University and director of the Centre for Islamic and Arabic Studies. Much of what is below derives from his award winning book, Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment – A Global and Historical Comparison. The rest comes from my public conversation with him this week over Zoom before an audience in Islamabad.

The whole piece is well worth reading, particularly Ahmet Kuru's explanation for the decline of the Islamic Golden Age - the stifling rise of fanatical clerics. A comparison with the hordes of functionaries who surround our seats of power is both interesting and not entirely misplaced.

The Islamic Golden Age owed its vitality largely to independent scholars and Arab merchants who scoured the world for trade and brought back new ideas. Broad-minded caliphs of that era welcomed such individuals to their courts. Muslim, Christian, and Jewish scholars filled the royal courts.

But around the 11th century, rulers and usurpers discovered the usefulness of clerics in endowing legitimacy to their rule. An ulema-state alliance emerged, hugely empowering the ulema. The number of clerics surrounding the caliph shot up but that of merchants and independent scholars dwindled. By the 12th century, clerics were firmly in the saddle.

The impact on Muslim society was catastrophic. As just one example, in Turkey, influential ulema decried the printing press, invented by Gutenberg in 1436, as the devil’s machine. It was finally deemed Sharia-compliant in 1727 — a whopping 293 years later! Consequently, while the literacy rate in Europe of the 1800s stood at around 31 per cent that in the Ottoman empire was a pitiful 1pc. Clerical resistance also delayed banking by about three centuries. The very first bank in a Muslim country was the Imperial Ottoman Bank (1856) followed by the Egyptian Arab Land Bank (1880).

Darracq and FIAT Washer Dryer Range


Friday 6 October 2023

Blowing the doors off

Labour 'party of change', says Sir Keir Starmer after Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election win

Michael Shanks won the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election after former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier was ejected from her seat having broken COVID guidelines.

Speaking after the win this morning, Sir Keir said: "We've changed. And because we've changed we are now the party of change here in Scotland. We're the party of change in Britain, we're the party of change right across the whole country."

"When I left here a week ago with the team, I said 'you've got to win it'. You blew the doors off!"

It is an axiom of narration that truth should coincide with probability, and the realist is perpetually hampered by the wild exaggeration of actual facts.

W. Somerset Maugham - Mrs Craddock (1902)

"You blew the doors off" is of course a reference to the film, The Italian Job, but at this point, perpetually hampered realists may wish to scroll down to see what "Sir" Keir meant by it.

But turnout was low, with just 30,531 votes cast from an electorate of 82,104 - meaning just 37.19% of those eligible took part in the election.

This compares to the 53,794 - 66.48% - who cast ballots in the 2019 general election.

The professionals know how to pitch their nonsense

This is merely something I do while browsing the internet, but it must be common enough for anyone paying attention online. One example will do.

It isn’t particularly uncommon to come across a video making lurid claims about a major corporation where the share price is supposedly crashing because of some dramatic event which in a sense serves the corporation right because –

At this point I pause the video to check the share price of the business. It's the check everything principle because too often the supposed crash is nothing out of the ordinary. In which case, I'll stop watching the video and move on.

This is merely one example of many. It could be new technology about to destroy the car industry or a secret weapon about to overturn all established military assumptions or floods likely to bring a major government to its knees. 

There are many over-hyped variants, but unfortunately is is necessary to check everything which sounds too dramatic because it probably is. Video channels wishing to compete with established professional media too often adopt ridiculously pumped-up versions of professional drama-peddling. It doesn't work, the professionals do at least know how to pitch their nonsense.

Thursday 5 October 2023

We didn't notice anything

Huge cannabis farm discovered in former Marks & Spencer in Buxton

A 34-year-old man, believed to be an Albanian national, was arrested on suspicion of cannabis cultivation and immigration offences

Almost 1,000 cannabis plants have been found growing in a former shop unit following a raid on the premises by Derbyshire police. Officers found the large-scale cannabis grow in the former Marks & Spencer building in Spring Gardens, Buxton, following a tip-off from the public.

We were strolling around that part of Buxton only a few weeks ago and didn't notice anything unusual. We never thought much of that M&S store anyway. 

It’s good to leave Derby

Today Mrs H and I had lunch with my cousin and his wife in a pub in the outskirts of Derby. It’s an area we know well, although we left the area well over thirty years ago.

On the drive home we trundled round the Derby ring-road in fairly heavy traffic as usual, then foot down and off we went up the A38. 

Both Mrs H and I had the same thought once we hit the A38. We soon see hills, villages and green fields and whenever we travel this way our immediate sensation is always the same – it’s good to be leaving Derby behind again.

The UK's very own Kamala Harris

Somebody should tell her not to attempt another rousing speech. Even boring everyone would be better than this effort - ask Rishi. 

They only talk among themselves

Prediction is in effect the conjectural anticipation of further sensory evidence for a foregone conclusion. When a prediction comes out wrong, what we have is a divergent and troublesome sensory stimulation that tends to inhibit that once foregone conclusion, and so to extinguish the sentence-to-sentence conditionings that led to the prediction. Thus it is that theories wither when their predictions fail.

Willard Van Orman Quine - Word and Object (1960)

How to charlatans get round that one? By making sure that their predictions always nestle safely in the future. Their predictions never come out wrong and wither because the future they predict never quite arrives. It isn’t difficult to spot, we’ve known about it forever and we also know that people who do it are either charlatans or deluded or –

Or elites. Elites have always maintained a certain fondness for conjectural anticipation which somehow always comes down hard on the peasants.

Today, we weary peasants see celebrities and politicians making endless conjectural anticipations while promoting the climate game and more recently the pandemic game. Their sentence-to-sentence conditioning doesn’t wither when their predictions fail because they only talk among themselves. The sentence-to-sentence conditioning isn’t extinguished in the manner Quine described.

It isn’t stupidity or intransigence - they only talk among themselves.

Wednesday 4 October 2023

Inundated with points of no return

Warming world nearing 'point of no return', says Pope Francis ahead of COP28 climate change conference

In a new document - Praise God - released ahead of the conference, the pope highlighted the transition to renewable energy from fossil fuels was not progressing fast enough, which could have a devastating impact on the planet and its people.

Pope Francis has appealed to world leaders to address climate change before it's too late, warning the planet is nearing a "point of no return".

Overheard in the café

The other day Mrs H and I dropped into a café before a short walk and overheard two chaps chatting about financial matters. They were discussing the relative merits of various investments, particularly stock market investments, when one chap began to tell the tale of a scam he’d fallen for.

It sounded as if it occurred a while ago and the nature of the scam wasn’t entirely clear from what was said, but involved him buying something fairly expensive online. “I was sold the dream”, he said, although it wasn’t clear what the dream was.

Anyway, he paid for the dream by bank transfer, received nothing in return and both addresses of the outfit he thought he was dealing with turned out to be bogus. Once he found this out he contacted the police.

He never saw his money again but the scammer had taken in a number of people and the police managed to find out who he was. He turned out to be someone running the scam from prison so eventually he had another few years tacked onto his sentence.

The interesting aspect for us was that the chap who was scammed admitted that he couldn’t understand how he fell for it. He thought of himself as financially aware, familiar with the hazards of an online world, yet he was taken in by the emotional appeal of the scammer’s swindle. He didn’t sound particularly bitter about it, but still puzzled about being taken in.

Maybe it’s not wildly different to politics – hit the right note and you get the vote.

Tuesday 3 October 2023

Public life is becoming uglier

Harry Clynch has a fine Critic piece on the modern trend towards dull and ugly language.

Political correctness contra aesthetics

Public life is becoming uglier, duller and more soul-destroying

I’ll give you two choices. Which of the following pieces of writing strikes you as more powerfully and thoughtfully crafted as a piece of literature?

You start to die the moment you are born. The whole of life is cutting through the pack with death. So take it easy. Light a cigarette and be grateful you are still alive as you suck the smoke deep into your lungs. Your stars have already let you come quite a long way since you left your mother’s womb and whimpered at the cold air of the world.

Or …

Birkett was an ex-Tory MP, famous for promoting covid/vaccines/mask-wearing/5G conspiracy theories, which had spilled over into the usual anti-immigrant, anti-EU, anti-BBC, anti-MSM, anti-cultural Marxist, Climate Change Denial pronouncements.

The first extract is taken from Ian Fleming’s Live and Let Die, as the heroic James Bond contemplates the transiency and fragility of life on this cruel earth. The second is from the novelist Charlie Higson’s pale imitation of the original Bond — a reincarnation in which Fleming’s womanising, boozing, thrill-seeking secret service operative is transformed into something more akin to an overpaid diversity, equity and inclusion professional working in a local council.

The whole piece is well worth reading as a reminder of our drift into totalitarian language and the way it pollutes everything, because language is everything. This quote from Christopher Isherwood for example.

Does this say something important about the woke movement? For one, there’s the argument that bad writing is often the result of bad thinking. As the novelist Christopher Isherwood once remarked: “bad writing is bad not just because the language is humdrum, but the quality of the observation is so poor.” Whilst it would be a logical leap to suggest that one inevitably follows the other, bad thinking is likely to be part of the problem.

Pure Vandalism


Monday 2 October 2023

Party conferences aren’t the answer

As we know, the Tories are pontificating in Manchester. The curious thing about party conferences is a strange reluctance to open the windows to free speech. 

We all know this, or most of us do. We know that almost everything said by elites, their minions or the media is far from being all that should be said. We know there is much that is kept from the cold blue light of reason or the glittering eye of basic moral rectitude.

The failure of bad ideas appears to a slow process of slow discovery which party conferences do nothing to speed up. From the start, some people see bad ideas for what they are, but too many don't. Net Zero and the pandemic debacle are examples.

Yet even many seriously bad ideas have to undergo a painfully slow and damaging collision with reality before they are widely recognised as bad. Furtive politics, biased media and a gullible population seem to be the problem. Party conferences aren’t the answer.


Tom Hanks warns dental plan ad image is AI fake

Tom Hanks has warned an advert that appears to be fronted by him is in fact an artificial intelligence (AI) fake.

"There's a video out there promoting some dental plan with an AI version of me," the actor wrote on Instagram.

As AI systems have grown in power and sophistication, so have concerns about their ability to create ever more realistic virtual versions of real people - what are sometimes called deepfakes.

I'm not sure why this type of AI fake is called a deepfake. I'd have expected a more dramatic name such as a superfake, megafake or ultrafake. Maybe deepfake sounds more sinister.

At least it's a reminder of the deepfake conservatives assembled in Manchester.

They get the rewards, we get the penalties

Broad brush this, and entirely familiar, but perhaps worth revisiting during the Tory party circus.

There is a difficulty in classifying certain political ideas, government policies, projects, laws or regulations as stupid. Even if they are obviously stupid the problem remains because we are almost compelled to add that the promoters of a stupid project must be stupid, dishonest, corrupt or perhaps all three.

A more useful outlook is that the stupidity of a government project must in some way reward those promoting it, otherwise they would not promote it. It’s a change of emphasis from the stupidity to the rewards. We do it all the time in a what’s in it for them? sense, but don’t take it far enough.

As we all know, even stupid things are done because they are rewarding in some way for some people. The reward may only be to assure the approval of an important social group, but that in itself is of interest because then we know a social group is promoting the stupidity.

The point to be made is not that stupidity is stupid, but a far more useful outlook is to focus on rewards and penalties because this is how human nature works. A rational political outlook will mesh seamlessly with commonplace experience of rewards and penalties, the reasons why we all act as we do.

In other words, the people we elect as MPs plus the permanent administration should all have a personal history of experience and practical achievement. Parliamentary candidates should have a history of getting things done which reward more people than themselves and their social circle.
  • Voting for a candidate for party reasons makes no sense. Personal history is more important.
  • Voting for a very young candidate hardly ever makes sense, with too little relevant history there is not enough information to be worth a vote.
  • Voting for a professional politician makes no sense for reasons similar to candidate who are too young.
  • Accepting a permanent administration with obscure capabilities makes no sense for similar reasons. Not that we are in a position to do much about it, yet we vote for people who could change the situation but find it more rewarding not to.

In general we don’t vote rationally and don’t demand anywhere near enough from the permanent administration. They get the rewards, we get the penalties.

Sunday 1 October 2023

Foxx v Clintons

Nicking Junk

Shoplifter: Police need to stop people like me

A persistent shoplifter has said the police need to do more to stop people like her stealing from businesses.

She said shoplifting was easy, and even the clothes she had on were stolen.

Amy, not her real name, is a shoplifter. She says she has to steal from shops in Nottingham because her partner has an addiction, which leaves her with no money.

The mind-numbing tedium of having to deal with people like Amy - it's easy enough to imagine. Strewth - I'd rather go after people on social media.

Back in Nottingham, a young couple invited the BBC to look into the back of their car to see their "graft bag".

A man who identifies himself as "Jordan" tells us: "I robbed £400 worth of cosmetics this morning."

His girlfriend, Rose, who is in her 20s, flips down the sun visor above the steering wheel and looks in the mirror. She pulls out a pink tub of Soap & Glory Body Butter and begins rubbing it into her face.

"I robbed this," she says. "I'd rather pay for it, really. But it's too much, I can't afford to pay for it. So you have no other option.

"You rob it or that's it, you can't have it. "