Thursday 30 November 2023

The Political Crown

Britain's King Charles in UAE to urge action on climate at COP28

The king, who arrived in the Gulf state overnight, is due to give an address on Friday at the U.N. climate negotiations that are scheduled to run in Dubai until Dec. 12.

It will be his first major speech on climate change since he became monarch in September 2022. Other world leaders including India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak are also expected to attend the talks. U.S. President Joe Biden and China's President Xi Jinping are not.

These, though they have not the least degree of knowledge, profess yet that they have mastered all.

Desiderius Erasmus - In Praise of Folly (1511)

Time to stonewall the UN

Andrew Tettenborn has an interesting CAPX piece on Stonewall’s spat with the EHRC and an attempt by Stonewall to undermine the EHRC via the UN.

Time to stonewall the UN?

The Equality and Human Rights Commission represents an unsung success of this government. Set up in 2006 by Tony Blair as an umbrella super-agency to promote and enforce human rights and non-discrimination, by 2020 it had become, in effect, a progressive pressure-group led by a self-perpetuating leftism drawn from the genteel quangocracy. In that year, however, Liz Truss, then Women and Equalities Minister, riled the establishment by shaking it up, appointing four new Commissioners who did not come from that class, and later a new Chair, Baroness Falkner, a woman of impeccably balanced liberal views and independent mind, who does not suffer fools or grifters gladly.

The new moderate EHRC is, however, now under regular attack from progressives determined to regain control of it. The latest assault comes from Stonewall, once a respectable gay rights organisation, but now a tiresomely shrill trans activist pressure group. This is an attack that can be fought off, but the government needs to keep a cool head.

The whole piece is well worth reading as a reminder of the Eric Hoffer quote -

Every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and eventually degenerates into a racket.

Stonewall’s spat with the EHRC arose in April this year, over women-only spaces and the issue of whether a person who self-declared as female had a right to be admitted to them. Having weighed submissions from all sides, including women’s organisations that wished to keep such spaces free from biological males, the EHRC recommended amending the sex discrimination legislation to make it clear that sex meant biological sex rather than chosen gender. In other words, the mere fact that you said you were a woman (or a man) should not guarantee you a legal right to be treated by all and sundry as if you were. This recommendation was accepted by the government. Stonewall, an organisation that brooks no dissent from its own different and very dirigiste views, was livid. Finding no joy at home, six months ago it attempted to internationalise the dispute through the UN.

Bogs that swallow you whole

48 hours in Derbyshire

Derbyshire weaves a funny spell on anyone from south of Watford: cragged peaks, peat bogs that swallow you whole, ancient limestone, fell wind and rain swim into view. What it also heralds, at least to us weedy Southerners, is immense distance: literally everyone I speak to thinks that Derbyshire is years away, like fusion power, or the North Pole, or Luton.

That's right, don't come to Derbyshire, it's years away and those peat bogs that swallow you whole are everywhere. It's best avoided.

Yet it’s very close. Barely a brisk three-hour drive away on the M1. Since my mum grew up in the Lathkill Dale way back when it was still fleeced by Ash trees, since I used to spend every summer in Buxton with my grandparents and since I am also, at least in theory, capable of reading a map, you’d think I wouldn’t need reminding.

Well okay, Lathkill Dale is worth visiting but in an EV you just won't make it. 

A light sprinkling

There has been a very light sprinkling of climate collapse here in Derbyshire this morning. Rather picturesque it is, with parked cars on the street all white.

It's a good job we have COP28 to tell us about these things and show us what to do about it. If we had a private jet in the garage I'd pop over there to lend my support.

Oh well, fifteen minutes from now I'll be thinking about these crucial matters as I remove the ice from the car windscreen just before we set off on the school run. I don't know why we have a 4x4 though, there must be some reason.

Wednesday 29 November 2023

Just pay Gary less

BBC's Newsnight to be cut back as part of savings plan

BBC Two's Newsnight is to be cut back and have its format overhauled as part of a plan to save money in the corporation's news department.

The long-running show will lose its dedicated reporters, be shortened by 10 minutes and drop its investigative films to focus on studio-based debates.

The word "less" in the post title can be taken to mean much less...

or to be more honest it means nothing at all. 

Christmas is coming - again

It is always rather a problem how to spend Christmas. Forced festivities can often be as tedious as forced isolation, and over-eating has definite drawbacks.

A.G. MacDonell – England, Their England (1933)

Not that they do, but anniversaries seem to come round more frequently than they did. Christmas has certainly arrived and it is still November so that sense it has become more frequent. The garish Christmas decorations at our local garden centre began to appear in late October.

Christmas may be an oddity of an anniversary, but birthdays and other anniversaries do seem to descend on us more frequently than in the past, even though they obviously don’t. We have two significant milestones popping up in 2024. Mrs H and I will have been married for 50 years and it will be 30 years since our daughter died.

When our daughter died we were told it would it would mark us for life. We weren’t told that in a dismal sense, but to prepare us for the annual occurrence of anniversaries. Off they go and back they come. Many people must be in a similar situation to ours, but we are all ticking off birthdays and significant decades as the years roll by.

A 10th birthday doesn’t seem especially significant, but three years later at 13 we have the teens, then various age milestones such as 16 and 18. Then 20 comes along, then 30 and the decades become more ominous as we become more aware that life just rolls on at the same rate towards the same distant outcome. An outcome which isn’t ever as distant as it was the last time we thought about it.

To my mind, that’s the problem with Christmas, it is no longer the snowy, cheery, apple-cheeked festival Dickens portrayed. It begins far too early, goes on far too long, intrudes into aspects of daily life to an absurd degree. Almost as if modern Christmas is designed to be slightly depressing, a reminder of mortality, of our insignificance. A reminder of futility even.

As oldies know and youngsters don’t, age does affect outlook, so over the years it is possible to become bored with Christmas and perhaps other overplayed anniversaries. But there is an indeterminate point where excess blends into futile, where the point of it all has faded and no amount of excess brings it back to life.

Tuesday 28 November 2023

Fire Truck

Unique specialist fire truck still not used in Cornwall after 18 months

The piece of kit is an all-terrain vehicle with a crane used to lift on and off ‘pods’ which are boxes full of specialist equipment that complement what stations around the county normally have. There is a line rescue pod, a wildfire pod, a disaster response pod and an icy roads pod.

A firefighter of three decades' experience in the county has contacted CornwallLive to warn tax-payers who have footed the bill for the Unimog that the specialist piece of kit, described by Cornwall Council as "unique" has not answered a single operational call yet.

This story reminds me of another related by my father. During the 1950s he worked in the main Derby fire station, although he wasn't a fireman. While he was there, the chief fire officer came up with an idea to tackle domestic chimney fires which comprised a large proportion of fires in their area. He bought a simple commercial van painted red and equipped it with basic kit needed to tackle domestic chimney fires.

I can’t recall what the kit was, maybe ladders, buckets and a stirrup pump as used in the war. Whatever it was, the idea worked well and once it had proved its usefulness, the chief fire officer presented the idea to a gathering of fire officers in other areas. 

The end of the story is easily guessed. Fire officers from other areas weren’t interested.

UK Priorities

BBC News Headline

First transatlantic flight using 100% green fuels to take off

At least 20,000 annual UK cancer deaths avoidable, says charity

Monday 27 November 2023

Robots all at sea

Deep-diving robots checking for climate collapse in our oceans

Scientists in Scotland are using robotic subsea gliders to check ocean currents for signs of climate collapse.

They are monitoring the "conveyor belt" which carries warm and cool water between the Caribbean and the Arctic.

Scientists fear a weakening of the system would have a devastating effect across large parts of the planet.

Strewth, I'm sure the BBC is getting worse. Not possible I hear from the folks at the the back. I don't know about that, it certainly seems to be possible. 

It isn't clear what climate collapse could possibly be, but it can't be a situation where the climate actually collapses by fainting and falling to the ground. Neither can it mean that the climate simply disappears like a burst bubble and we are left with no climate at all. No - can't be that.

I suppose climate collapse is effectively funding collapse, a scary situation where scientists have to seek alternative employment.

They could try filling in potholes.

The scourge of potholes

Potholes: AA advises drivers to avoid puddles to limit vehicle damage

The AA is advising drivers to "avoid puddles" after a record month for breakdowns caused by potholes.

"Continuous poor weather" and recent storms such as Babet, Ciaran and Debi have contributed to poor road surfaces.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak pledged more than £8bn in funding last month to tackle what he called the "scourge of potholes".

I think most of us worked that out a long time ago. No doubt it's partly a consequence of anti-car policies, but drivers are keeping their cars for longer and presumably trying to take care of them by not bouncing through rain-filled potholes. I know we are.

Mutated gene

Mutated gene 'found in 4% of people' could help scientists tackle obesity

Researchers found the gene can affect a region of the brain known as the hypothalamus, which controls appetite, food intake, hunger and thirst.

A gene variant that helps regulate body weight could aid in tackling obesity, scientists have said.

The ZFHX3 gene mutation - thought to exist in 4% of people - has been found to control parts of the brain responsible for appetite.

Interesting of course, but wander round a shopping centre and the number of people who might initially lay claim to this gene is rather more than 4%. There were more than that in the Adidas store yesterday, which is supposedly aimed at the athletic look. There are obvious social and economic factors too.  

Still interesting though, because people clearly do differ in their ability to regulate food intake. Mrs H and I have no difficulty and perhaps the reality is that we don't regulate our food intake as much as we think, there is a certain degree of autonomous regulation divorced from conscious effort. 

It leads to an ambiguous attitude. It is easy enough to think that overweight people should make more effort while being aware that some of us don't have to make much effort at all. 

Sunday 26 November 2023

A more obvious possibility

Richard Tice: Reform leader denies offering Lee Anderson money to defect to his party

Richard Tice told Sky News "no money or cash" has been offered to Tory MPs - but he has had conversations with senior figures who he claims are "furious" with the government's handling of immigration.

Reform UK leader Richard Tice has denied reports that Tory deputy chairman Lee Anderson was offered money to defect to his party.

Mr Tice told Sky News that "no money or cash has been offered to any Tory MP whatsoever".

I believe Mr Tice, although it now leaves a more obvious possibility unanswered. What would his party offer in order to persuade Lee Anderson not to defect to Reform UK? 

Schadenfreude for Christmas

The Last Generation climate change group has been designated as a “criminal organization” by the Munich Regional Court, which announced the ruling on Thursday after considering ten complaints from the climate activists over searches and seizures.

The court dismissed the complaints, ruling that the Last Generation meets the requirements to be considered an organized crime group – arguing that committing crimes does not necessarily need to be the only purpose of a group to be designated as such.

The court said the group’s activities, including disrupting traffic and damaging property, constitute a significant threat to public safety and order.

Who are they?

The Last Generation, a Germany-based group within the Europe-wide A22 network that includes Britain's Just Stop Oil, has made headlines in Germany with hundreds of road blocks by protesters who glued themselves to the tarmac

Artisan Mobile Phones

It is possible that the EU has ambitions to become a mobile phone designer because a number of clues have seeped into EU law. 

The EU already has laws in place to enforce replaceable batteries and a common charger so presumably there may be more ideas in the pipeline. Bureaucrats don't just sign these things off and move on. One idea could be the EU Artisan Mobile Phone made of wood from sustainable forests. 

Another version could include a small keypad winding handle for mechanical charging when green electricity is unavailable.

Saturday 25 November 2023

Tortoise Politics

Men, it has been well said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one.

Charles Mackay - Memoirs of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds (1841)

Labour ‘unlikely’ to ever meet £28bn a year green pledge

Labour’s pledge to spend £28bn a year on its flagship green economic policy is unlikely to ever be met because of the state of the public finances.

Labour’s “green prosperity plan” promised to pour the money into climate-friendly investments every year until 2030 if it wins the next election.

But it was already watered down by the shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves earlier this year – after she blamed that Tories for “crashing the economy”.

A problem with major political actors and their parties is how slow they are to catch on. This announcement may be a faint hint that the ludicrous nature of Net Zero is seeping into the swamp, but if so it has taken an absurdly long time.

When the process is the punishment

Sofia Hörder has a useful Mercator reminder that the process can be the punishment. It concerns the former Finnish Minister of the Interior, Päivi Räsänen.

When the state engages in cancel culture

Who comes to mind when criminal charges categorised under “war crimes and crimes against humanity” are levied? Likely a dictator, corrupt general, or other terrorist actor. But the world has been put on notice that even a grandmother and longstanding parliamentarian in Finland can fall prey to such odious charges when the state becomes ideologically committed to censorship.

"Hate speech” charges under the Finnish criminal code’s war crimes section for “agitation against a minority group” is what happened to the former Finnish Minister of the Interior, Päivi Räsänen, who has served as a parliamentary representative for nearly thirty years. On the basis of her simple and peaceful articulation of a Christian view of marriage and sexuality, Räsänen was criminally charged and dragged through the courts for over four years, beginning in 2019. If her case wasn’t such a serious warning shot to us all regarding the erosion of the basic human right to free speech, it would be laughable to consider that the legal persecution she faced started because of a tweet.

The whole piece is well worth reading as another reminder that supposedly civilised modern states do engage in cancel culture, including the UK. In particular, it is a reminder that there are powerful, supposedly enlightened people behind it, surely the most disturbing aspect of modern times. 

Some might disagree with Räsänen’s convictions, as is and should be their right. But respect for disagreement is foundational to any healthy democracy, and protecting the principle of free speech is paramount. Vague and subjective “hate speech” laws, the likes of which were leveraged to shut down Räsänen, must be vigorously opposed. For so long as these laws stand, any of us could end up in this grandmother’s shoes, charged with “crimes” we hopefully can agree should be reserved for those who commit actual crimes against humanity, not peaceful Twitter posts.

He stunned the world

US has found 'at least' ten alien bodies in crashed UFOs, says whistleblower

A military whistleblower says the US government has retrieved at least ten alien bodies from UFO crashes.

Speaking on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, David Charles Grusch said the number of crashes recorded was in ‘double digits’, and that the number of extraterrestrial bodies recovered was ‘up there as well, just like with the retrievals’.

Former US intelligence officer Mr Grusch stunned the world earlier this year when alleging the government had evidence of ‘intact and partially intact’ alien vehicles.

No he didn't stun the world, it is far more likely that much of the world was reminded why it doesn't have a high regard for journalists. 

Of course, if all these crashed spacecraft are causing climate change via mysteriously powerful emissions of extra-terrestrial farcene then we might have a story for COP28. Still won't stun the world though.

Friday 24 November 2023

He's noticed

Rishi Sunak says migration is ‘too high’ after record levels recorded

Net migration into the UK peaked at 745,000 in the year to December 2022, which is a record high according to revised estimates published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on Thursday.

The data places migration levels at three times higher than before Brexit, despite a Conservative Party 2019 manifesto pledge to bring overall numbers down.

Servile globalism lurks behind these numbers, the 2022 total being equivalent to the populations of Birmingham and Nottingham arriving every two years. Maybe they all intend to buy an electric car to boost the numbers. 

Apart from that it has been a pleasant, sunny day here in Derbyshire. Cold, but that will be due to global warming. Surely the government got that right, surely it understands sustainability.

Then and Now

Anyone could say that this video compares the best with the worst and perhaps it does. Yet I particularly like the point about how people presented themselves in the recent past and how they present themselves today - that has changed.

Thursday 23 November 2023

Christmas stocking filler


Taxidermy Large Male Lion


It's scary words time

Geert Wilders aiming to be PM after shock Dutch election result for far-right party and calls for immediate asylum restriction – as it happened

It's a live piece so things may change, but in the above Guardian piece via MSN, the terms 'far-right' and 'far right' occur 28 times while 'far-left' and 'far left' don't occur at all. It's scary words time at the dear old Grauniad.

Carry on digging

For Joe Biden, the Israel-Hamas hostage deal is personal

The US president's stewardship throughout the Israel-Hamas conflict has been called into question. But securing the freedom of hostages is unquestionably a success. Events that could, and should, unfold in the coming days go some way to endorsing the way he's played his hand.

US officials describe what they call a "gut-wrenching" zoom call between President Biden and relatives of hostages in the week after they were taken. Thereafter, he took a central role in the delicate process towards securing their release.

The other 'delicate process' was to present Biden as a central figure while sidestepping obvious questions about his ability to be a central figure in the first place. Nobody paying attention is likely to be deceived about that. 

This is the pit they dug for themselves and their only option is to carry on digging.

Maybe it could be a cause too

Can music help treat a severe brain injury? London hospital launches UK-first trial

London scientists on Thursday launched the UK’s first trial into whether music therapy can help patients recover from severe brain injury.

The trial, at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Bloomsbury, will assess whether activities like playing an instrument or singing could help patients with stroke and aphasia.

The thudding music which occasionally blasts out of passing cars does lead a chap to wonder about brain health. Only in a general sense of course, not in a severe brain injury sense. Not quite.

Drivers often seem to have small heads for some reason, but maybe that's just perspective from the pavement. Yet a small head could possibly leave them less insulated against minor sound damage. Or maybe it's too late anyway.

Wednesday 22 November 2023

Always a pleasure

'Don't touch our Camemberts!' France cheesed off with EU over packaging rule

French cheesemakers are furious about a new EU recycling rule which could see the traditional round wooden boxes used to encase Camembert cheese replaced with plastic.

The European Parliament is set to vote on the proposed new regulation which will state that by 2030 all food packaging must be recyclable.

Always a pleasure to see the silliness of bureaucratic rules exposed, especially those concocted by euroloons beavering away in the bowels of the EU.

Stuck in a Rutte

Pieter Cleppe has a very interesting Critic piece on Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte and the difficulties faced by his government within the obstructive constraints of the EU.

Stuck in a Rutte

An assessment of Dutch politics under Prime Minister Mark Rutte

In the run-up to the Dutch elections on 22 November, it is worth taking stock of the achievements of the man who has dominated Dutch politics for 13 years: Mark Rutte.

Rutte became Dutch prime minister for the first time in 2010. Throughout his four terms in office, he has shown himself to be a true political chameleon. He was not shy to depend on seats of the right-wing populist Geert Wilders in his first cabinet — or to make major concessions to the increasingly left-green party D66 in his third and fourth cabinet.

Economically, the Netherlands has experienced moderate growth under Rutte, which also has to do with the fact that the tax burden has invariably increased — something a liberal politician can hardly be proud of. The COVID-19 crisis, where Rutte went along with the failed lockdown model, can only partly excuse this.

The whole piece is well worth reading, because it brings home how much the EU deliberately interferes with the smooth running of national governments, something David Cameron always forgot to mention. For example, as Cleppe explains in the article, the “Corona Recovery Fund” is destined to be yet another headache for EU members.

During the COVID crisis, he gave up his opposition to the so-called “Corona Recovery Fund”.

The latter could prove to be the biggest blemish on Rutte’s record within a few years. The European Court of Auditors is now critical of the audit of the recovery fund, including “a lack of accountability” for the spending of EU citizens’ money. This should come as no surprise, given the warnings that were voiced when it was created. The biggest problem, however, is that the fund risks becoming permanent.

This fund provides €800bn in loans and grants to EU member states. The difference from most other European spending is that this so-called “Recovery and Resilience Facility” (RRF) is not financed by remittances from EU member states. On the contrary, it has been financed by common debt issuance by the European Commission — something that was the subject of legal doubts that, of course, ultimately proved no obstacle to going ahead with it nonetheless.

Within several years these debts will have to be repaid by the European Commission to the creditors who bought these de facto “eurobonds”, and so far it has not been decided how member states will pay for this. It is written in the stars that the increasingly cash-strapped member states will want to avoid a simple transfer to the Commission, and they may not be keen on allowing the European Commission to directly charge European citizens to collect the money. That leaves only one option: taking out a new loan to repay the old one, which is already standard practice for national governments.

Essentially, this means that the Corona Recovery Fund will become a permanent fund. Avoiding such a thing was Rutte’s condition in 2020 for accepting this fund, which was desired by Angela Merkel.

Tuesday 21 November 2023

It's not my fault, I'm owed it

Middle class shoplifters partly to blame for rise in retail crime, says Marks & Spencer chairman

Archie Norman says the "social phenomenon" has become a "global problem".

"Some of it is by gangs or people stealing to fuel a drugs habit," he said. "No doubt that's probably increased a bit, it's always been there.

"Then you get the sort of middle class... with the reduction of service you get in a lot of shops, a lot of people go in and think, 'well this didn't scan or it's very difficult to scan these things through and I shop here all the time, it's not my fault, I'm owed it'.

"So you see with the self-checkouts... just a bit of that creeping in."

It's not my fault, I'm owed it. It isn't clear how many people Archie Norman is referring to, but it's not difficult to imagine a few people making this excuse, at least to themselves.

In our experience, M&S self-checkout scanners aren't particularly good. Less responsive than Tesco or Sainsbury's and more fussy about the position of the barcode. Momentary annoyance followed by excuse - it's not difficult to imagine. It's tempting to wonder how they vote too, but maybe not.

Roses are red

Steven Tucker has an entertaining Mercator piece on a poetry anthology edited by Jeremy Corbyn & Len McCluskey.

Roses are red, So is this book: Jeremy Corbyn’s dire new agitprop poetry anthology

What is the purpose of poetry? Like so many of the best things in life, it is its own purpose: if you even have to ask that question, then I would suggest you just don’t really like poetry very much at all, or even truly understand what it really is.

Two men whose own personal understanding of the artform is self-evidently very limited indeed are the former quasi-Marxist leader of the left-wing UK Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, and his close friend and ally Len McCluskey, one-time leader of the leading British trade union Unite.

The whole piece is well worth reading as a reminder that political obsessives leave nothing uncontaminated and never have.

To finish off both the book and the reader, a special treat is in store: “Calais in Winter”, a poem by Jeremy Corbyn himself, written on the train home one day from a trip to a ‘refugee’ camp in Calais, where he spent an enjoyable time emoting incontinently with the migrants.

According to Jeremy: “There is a poet in all of us and nobody should ever be afraid of sharing their poetry. It doesn’t need to rhyme or scan. It can just be an expression of thoughts that may as first appear as random but, when written down on paper or screen, can become more coherent and take on a deeper meaning.” Translation: It doesn’t actually have to be any good, just so long as the political message involved is the “correct” one. That’s certainly the method Jeremy himself applied with his own poem, which is basically just a short newspaper op-ed piece, split up randomly with arbitrary line-breaks and no punctuation:

They will be stopped
Thunder politicians
The enemy will not land
Say screaming headlines
They are lawbreakers
Say experts on the radio

Monday 20 November 2023

Moonshine Vaults

The doomsday vaults storing seeds, data and DNA to protect our future

Around the world, highly secure chambers are being built to preserve everything we need to withstand any number of worst-case scenarios

Others are looking further afield – even to the moon. In 2021, engineers from the University of Arizona unveiled ambitious proposals for a solar-powered “lunar ark”, which would seek to cryopreserve seeds, sperm and egg samples and store them in a facility built into the moon’s lava tubes – networks of conduits formed by streams of lava billions of years ago. The idea is that the ark would protect the planet’s biodiversity should there be a sudden, cataclysmic event, such as a supervolcanic eruption or a major asteroid strike.

Presumably no copies of the Guardian will be stored in the Earth-based vaults - survivors will need all the optimism they can muster. 

They don't want to stagger out of their doomsday shelters after that supervolcano eruption, only for stored copies of the Guardian to remind them that COP30 is the last opportunity to avert climate catastrophe. 

And Greta Doomberg is due to attend via a balloon filled with green hydrogen. And King Charles. And Gary Lineker...


Boris Johnson was ‘bamboozled’ by science during the pandemic, Patrick Vallance reveals

Sir Patrick Vallance’s bombshell diary entries revealed in excruciating detail how the former prime minister struggled to understand graphs and ‘just could not get’ some scientific concepts

Boris Johnson was “bamboozled” by the science during the pandemic and had to have details explained to him “repeatedly”, the Covid inquiry has heard.

Sir Patrick Vallance’s bombshell diary entries revealed in excruciating detail how the former prime minister struggled to understand graphs and “just could not get” some scientific concepts.

If Boris was bamboozled then he was bamboozled by people not science. 

Our school physics teacher used to say something I've never forgotten - if you don't understand a scientific explanation, then the person giving the explanation doesn't understand it properly either. He went on to say that everything is reducible to terms which match the experience and capabilities of the listener, giving the theory of relativity as an example.

The pandemic point is obvious, it was Vallance's job to give understandable explanations to those making the political decisions. It was by far the most important aspect of his role. Why he apparently couldn't manage it is an interesting question, but not Boris Johnson's responsibility. 

Cromford canal walk

We went for a walk along Cromford canal this morning, hoping to see the last of the late autumn colour which we did. It's an interesting walk where road, canal, railway and river all follow the Derwent valley. Surprisingly quiet even for a weekday. Maybe folk are shattered after all those Christmas markets.

Late autumn colour on Cromford canal

Train leaving Whatstandwell station on its way to Matlock. When it comes to houses, location is everything they say. 

Train leaving Whatstandwell station, Derbyshire 

Sunday 19 November 2023

Why not now?

The feat required thought: it required a faith so childlike as to verge on the imbecile.

E. F. Benson - Miss Mapp (1922)

Merely a casual Sunday evening observation this one, but there is something grimly childish about Net Zero. It’s the familiar cry of the child who wants something so desperately but horrible adults say no.

In this case, some of the more horrible adults are physics, chemistry, engineering, economics and the most horrible of all, common sense. But still the call goes on – why not now?

And still they don’t see it.

Each pretended to accept the other

They said things that were more revealing than they intended — but each pretended to accept the other at face, or rather word, value.

F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Beautiful and Damned (1922)

Chancellor says 'everything on the table' in autumn statement as he promises to remove tax 'barriers' for business

Jeremy Hunt tells Sky News the tax burden is "too high", as he hints at cuts ahead of Wednesday's major fiscal event.

"I am not going to talk about any individual taxes as that will lead to even more feverish speculation," he said.

But the chancellor admitted the tax burden is "too high" and the government "wants to bring it down", with lower tax "essential to growth".

As the high tax burden appears to be deliberate and the burden of Net Zero certainly is deliberate, it isn't easy to see why any interviewer would take Hunt seriously, or even pretend to. But that's what they do.

Click and Queue

After our Bakewell trip yesterday, Mrs H and I are convinced that Christmas mania is even more frenetic than previous years. This morning the Argos click and collect queue in Sainsbury’s was so long that a chap was phoning someone about it as we strolled past. Indeed it was so long that another chap felt impelled to write a blog post about it.

Mrs H says it’s a result of the Black Friday deals. It certainly seemed to involve lots of cardboard boxes, so recycling bins will be more full than usual. Do we count all that extra recycling as a boost to sustainability?

Saturday 18 November 2023

Check the fingerprints

David Thunder has a worthwhile Mercator piece on the EU digital identity wallet. Those who pay attention will have their eye on it already, but  it's worth reminding ourselves of it every now and then.

Europe's new digital identity wallet: guarantor of digital security or backdoor to tyranny?

Last Wednesday, Thierry Breton, EU’s Internal Market Commissioner, proudly announced on Twitter/X that he had struck a deal with MEPs to create a European “digital identity wallet”, which would permit all EU citizens to have “a secured e-identity for their lifetime”.

According to the European Commission’s own website, the European Digital Identity can be used for a whole range of transactions, including providing personal identification on and offline, showing birth certificates and medical certificates, opening a bank account, filing tax returns, applying for a university, storing a medical prescription, renting a car, or checking into a hotel.

The whole piece is well worth reading because as ever it's worth knowing which fingerprints are on this totalitarian wheeze. The biggest and most suspicious fingerprints being the EU itself, but Thierry Breton is in there too:-

PARIS — As the EU's top official in charge of industrial affairs, Thierry Breton has often brought up his past as a tech CEO to show how he's particularly well-suited for the job.

But now that Atos, the French tech company he led before joining the European Commission, is in the midst of collapsing and being sold off for parts, that private-sector track record is starting to look more like a liability than an asset for the Frenchman who's made no secret of his political ambitions.

An even more dubious fingerprint is Ursula von der Leyen's, with her remarkable ability to fail upwards.

Politicians like Thierry Breton and Ursula von der Leyen, and those MEPs and member state governments that cheered them on during the pandemic, were prepared to treat citizens like cattle or disease vectors to be vaccinated and tested en masse, with scant regard for their personal medical history and risk factors. It is surely only a matter of time before people with this sort of contempt for individual liberty would be inclined to take advantage of a technology like a universal digital ID as a lever to control people’s private choices with a view to advancing their own careers and policy goals.

As ever - check the fingerprints.

Demented Christmas Crowding

Visited Bakewell this morning. Set off reasonably early as usual, aiming to arrive shortly before 10am which is generally okay for Bakewell even on a weekend.

Strewth – one car park was already full, the other filling up rapidly, people all over the place and it wasn’t even 10am. It wasn’t a special event, just a bit of a scrubby market, but demented Christmas crowding seems to have taken a firm hold now. What's the attraction? The aroma of fried onions? I don't know.

Just managed to get a coffee on our third attempt to find a coffee shop which wasn’t full, drifted round the antiques centre which wasn’t too busy, bought what we’d originally gone in for and left. By then the roads in Bakewell were jammed with traffic queuing for the car parks and for about a mile beyond Bakewell.

Made it curiously satisfying to be leaving.

Friday 17 November 2023

Twaddle - or the voice of a generation

Passed on by Dave R

Sailing to school and the daily issues of climate change

It is dawn on the rugged shores of Loch Craignish and two little boats are setting off into the sunrise.

This is the school run with a difference.

For six weeks, a handful of students have been unable to take the bus to Lochgilphead High School after a landslide cut off the community of Ardfern during the wettest two-day period ever recorded in Scotland.

A trip by sea is, for now, their commute.

We have become used to seeing the fight against climate change fought by the young. Greta Thunberg has become the voice of a generation demanding action, and action now.

The 'voice of a generation' seems to be twaddle learned from adults. Maybe the kids would be better off taking a break from school.

"This has really punched us straight in the face," says Graeme Dailly, director of infrastructure and environment at Angus Council, surveying the damage to the flood defence scheme in Brechin.

"We are facing a climate change emergency," he adds.

We’ve never warmed to the impersonal

‘It’s so accidental, the whole business,’ she remarked, branching off to another aspect of the case in order to mask the confusion caused by the sincere flattery in his voice. ‘It was only by chance that Milly had that particular part at all. Suppose she hadn’t had it. What then?’

‘Everything’s accidental,’ he replied. ‘Everything that ever happened is accidental, in a way — in another it isn’t. If you look at your own life, for instance, you’ll find it’s been simply a series of coincidences. I’m sure mine has been. Sheer chance from beginning to end.’

Arnold Bennett - The Old Wives' Tale (1908)

It’s strange how something so familiar yet so mysterious is intimately woven into all of our lives. It’s one of those old and impossible questions – how much of my life was accidental? How much could have been otherwise? Begin totting it up and the answer becomes impossibly daunting.

My known history could begin in the nineteenth century with my great grandfather moving from Leicestershire to Derby to work on the railway. Or my great grandmother moving from Ulverston to Derby for unknown reasons. Before that – who knows? In the seventeenth century, maybe a young Jedidiah first glanced at Mary in church, seated in a nearby pew. But for that conjectural glance I’d never have existed.

Any life is an impossibly complex matrix of events which could have been different with different outcomes. How different we’ll never know because myriad lost possibilities didn’t happen. Chance meetings, major decisions, catching the wrong train, applying for the wrong job, applying for the right job, meeting the wrong person or staying at home a rainy day. Petty incidents, a few of which may have major personal consequences.

A hundred petty crimes or petty accidents will not strike the imagination of crowds in the least, whereas a single great crime or a single great accident will profoundly impress them, even though the results be infinitely less disastrous than those of the hundred small accidents put together.

Gustave Le Bon - The Crowd; study of the popular mind (1895)

Stir in genetic speculation and it becomes even more complex. Yet it isn’t necessary to wander through the futilities of a free will debate to see the issue clearly and personally because we are all extremely familiar with it.

An overweight young woman orders a coffee shop frappé. Listed as 400 calories but maybe she has what we call a sweet tooth. Her companion is a slim young woman who orders a skinny latte. Is this two dispositions from two genetic histories reacting to commercial temptation?

A school classroom, the pupils are bored by a teacher who cannot instil even a spark of enthusiasm which might at least benefit some. Why is he there, why is he a teacher? He drifted into it because… well his father was a teacher…

Lives governed by histories and controlling influences, we see them every day, but what do we do about it? Look the other way and keep it autonomous seems to be one answer. We’ve never warmed to the impersonal. 

Thursday 16 November 2023

The Door

Five things we learned from the Biden-Xi meeting

"I believe these are some of the most constructive and productive discussions we've had," President Biden said after the meeting. "We've made some important progress."

President Xi earlier acknowledged that US-China relations have "never been smooth sailing".

After the meeting he added that the door to talks between the two superpowers "cannot be closed again".

Presumably that's because Biden doesn't know where the door is. 

Yes a cheap shot, but the point is made. Must be an odd situation though. Xi will be aware of Biden's limitations and aware that he is talking with officials and senior political aides rather than someone in a position of personal authority. 

It could even be counted as a gain

Labour insist rebellion was no bigger than expected - but loss of Jess Phillips is a big blow for Keir Starmer

Most of the MPs who rebelled against Sir Keir Starmer were minor figures holding low-key posts - but Jess Phillips, the high-profile shadow Home Office minister, was one notable exception.

She's by far the biggest loss to Sir Keir's frontbench team after this rebellion, and the Labour leader will need to be forgiving after a decent interval and is likely to be looking for a reason to restore her to the frontline before the general election.

Surely not a great loss if she flounces off at this stage of the game. Jess Phillips leaving the main stage could even be counted as a gain. Handy for voters too - she has reminded us how ghastly "Sir" Keir's rabble are.

Wednesday 15 November 2023

A jolly good wheeze

Paris Mayor Hidalgo trains sights on SUVs after e-scooter rental ban

Flush from this year's victory over banning rental electric scooters, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo has a new on-street target in her sights: SUVs.

Bidding for a place in history as the woman who made Paris green, she has promised another city referendum...

But the timing has raised suspicions that she's using it to divert attention from her own SUV - as in Startlingly Unnecessary Voyage.

Opposition council members in Paris City Hall scent blood over a two-week trip taken by Anne Hidalgo to New Caledonia and French Polynesia in the South Pacific in October.

The first half of the visit was supposedly on official business, but from 21 October she stayed on in order to visit her daughter living on the Polynesian island of Raiatea.

Even one or two useful idiots must notice how often the climate emergency is used by the upper echelons to whizz off on yet another international jolly.  

The hallucinate hallucination

Cambridge Dictionary
reveals word of the year – and it has a new meaning thanks to AI

Tools such as chatGPT have sparked a surge of interest in AI technology in 2023. However, as some people have learnt the hard way, AI-generated text can't always be relied upon.

The traditional definition of "hallucinate" is when someone seems to sense something that does not exist, usually because of a health condition or drug-taking, but it now also relates to AI producing false information.

The additional Cambridge Dictionary definition reads: "When an artificial intelligence (= a computer system that has some of the qualities that the human brain has, such as the ability to produce language in a way that seems human) hallucinates, it produces false information."

Strewth, what does a chap say about that? No mention of false information from the usual suspects of course. They are all certified 'fact-checkers', certified by themselves.

Tuesday 14 November 2023

That Letter

I've been out all day so I've only just read Suella Braverman's letter to Rishi Sunak.

By gum, even allowing for political peeve, Sunak comes across as a dishonest creep with the backbone of a small, non-stinging jellyfish. 

Or possibly not. Maybe he's there to sink the only mainstream political party with a faint, a very faint prospect of resisting globalism. 

No, it's a fairly obvious possibility but I'll stay with creep for now.

Christmas market

We visited the Chatsworth Christmas market today. A long day and not one of our usual haunts, but we enjoyed it. It was a freebie which always adds a certain something. The house was certainly decked out at what must have been enormous expense. Impressive too, even from the perspective of this Christmas cynic.

I don't know if this is a local perspective, but from what I see Christmas is being pushed particularly hard this year. Our local garden centre is more of a Christmas grotto than a garden centre. So much so that we won't be going back until after Christmas. It certainly doesn't have the Chatsworth look.

Predictions that never come to pass

I have tamed that savage stenographic mystery. I make a respectable income by it. I am in high repute for my accomplishment in all pertaining to the art, and am joined with eleven others in reporting the debates in Parliament for a Morning Newspaper. Night after night, I record predictions that never come to pass, professions that are never fulfilled, explanations that are only meant to mystify.

Charles Dickens - David Copperfield (1849-50)

We all know this, but one of the great curses on our age is prediction. It attracts crooks, charlatans and cranks, causes immense and obvious damage yet still it goes on.

Where will it all end? Don’t ask the crooks, charlatans or cranks, they don’t know. 

Monday 13 November 2023

Let us go back, dear friend


Let us go back, dear friend, and play at ministerial fatuity with all freedom and without reserve; it may be the last performance that we shall give in this town.

Stendhal - La Chartreuse de Parme (1839)


'Tourists are rethinking their relationship with Earth'

It was while visiting an Italian city for work that Silvia Ombellini and her husband Simone Riccardi dreamt up the idea to set up a website dedicated to sustainable tourism...

To feature on the site, accommodation providers must meet at least five of 10 standards. These are - use 100% renewable energy, serve organic or locally sourced food, collect and reuse rain water, have low consumption lightbulbs, use solar power to heat water, see that more than 80% of waste is recycled, use eco-friendly cleaning products, have water flow reducers fitted, include environmentally-friendly architecture, and be accessible without a car.

The obvious question is how sustainable tourists travel to their destination without inadvertently causing a climate emergency. Presumably they have to live within walking distance of the accommodation which seems to defeat the point of it. Or maybe an African Chukudu would be acceptable to help with the luggage.

I do like the word 'rethinking' in the headline though. This level of box-ticking is surely aimed at people who never rethink anything.

I wonder how many Learjets are being spruced up for COP28?

Sunday 12 November 2023

We are on our own

Now that we know what knowledge is necessary to us, we must describe the way and method in which we must know with this knowledge the things that are to be known. To do this, the first thing to be considered is that this inquiry must not be one stretching back to infinity: I mean to say that in order to find the best method of investigating what is true, we must not stand in need of another method to investigate this method of investigating, nor in need of a third one to investigate the second, and so on to infinity. For by such a method we can never arrive at a knowledge of what is true, nor any knowledge whatever.

Baruch Spinoza - On the Correction of the Understanding (1667)

In Spinoza's sense we are on our own with whatever seems to work as our personal criterion of worthwhile knowledge. Usually this means agreeing with or tentatively accepting a consensus which seems to work in a way we recognise as working. Often not even that.

Yet even limited personal autonomy requires us to grasp and question some of the social agreements we make when it comes to what we think we know. Why were we told it? Why are we assumed to believe it? Who gains? When we ask these questions we are striking out on our own, so the easier thing to do is don't ask them. That way we don't even know that we could ask them.

Yet without such questions there isn’t even limited personal autonomy.

Six Coulds

Floating factories of artificial leaves could make green fuel for jets and ships

Cambridge University scientists develop a device to ‘defossilise’ the economy using sunlight, water and carbon dioxide

The Cambridge project is based on a floating artificial leaf which has been developed at the university and which can turn sunlight, water and carbon dioxide into synthetic fuel. The group believe these thin, flexible devices could one day be exploited on a industrial scale.

I have no idea if this project is doomed from the start or the greatest thing since cheese and tomato on toast. Yet the word 'could' occurs six times in a comparatively short piece. 

It could work or it could be a complete flop. As media folk know well, the word 'could' allows them to take advantage of a wide range of possibilities. Flop is my guess.

Saturday 11 November 2023

Impressively blatant

Electroverse has a piece which is well worth a look. The core of it comes from two impressively blatant Center for Biological Diversity headlines.

“Now, climate scientists say the Arctic could be completely ice free in the summer by 2012.”
– Center for Biological Diversity 2009

“Now climate scientists say the Arctic could be completely ice free in the summer by the 2030s.”
– Center for Biological Diversity 2023

I blame Brexit


Out walking near Rowsley on a fine, sunny day today. I took this photo which Siri identified as Mount Etna. Alarming for Derbyshire folk I suppose but we couldn't see any sign of volcanic activity around Chatsworth. 

I blame Brexit. This is the photo, a view of fading autumn colour above the Derwent. However closely you look, I don't think it is possible to spot Mount Etna.

Friday 10 November 2023

Off on a jolly

Rutley in Chile to celebrate 200 years of bilateral relations and to sign an Antarctica cooperation protection Letter of Intent

The Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office’s Minister for the Americas and the Caribbean, David Rutley MP, arrives in Chile, from Peru, to strengthen collaboration between the UK and Chile, as both nations celebrate 200 years of bilateral relations.

While in the country, Minister Rutley, together with Chile’s Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs, Gloria de la Fuente, will sign a joint commitment to work together to enhance the protections for the Antarctic...

During his visit minister Rutley will also meet young climate leaders who have been selected by Chile to attend COP28 later this year. He will hear about their work with the British Embassy Chile and discuss the efforts of both countries to mitigate the impacts of climate change and achieve the roadmap to net zero.

Take taxpayer funding, subsidies and upper echelon jollies out of the climate game and there would be no climate game. Climate emergency solved. 

Control and Controllers

As we’ve known for years, the UK Nudge Unit was set up to make government psychological control respectable. Government has always been about control, so why not make it respectable and nicer? Crude, but it does seem to have been the rationale.

This seems to be one reason why the main UK political parties make little difference to political direction. Politically diverse nudging by government wouldn't work, so the role of the political class is to evade countercontrol on behalf of the controllers.

The great problem is to arrange effective countercontrol and hence to bring some important consequences to bear on the behavior of the controller. Some classical examples of a lack of balance between control and countercontrol arise when control is delegated and countercontrol then becomes ineffective. Hospitals for psychotics and homes for retardates, orphans, and old people are noted for weak countercontrol, because those who are concerned for the welfare of such people often do not know what is happening.

B. F. Skinner - Beyond Freedom and Dignity (1971)

Headlines Out of Control Say Headlines

No-fault evictions in England ‘soaring out of control’, say campaigners

Private debt is out of control

Plastic waste problem ‘spiralling out of control’ in Africa, says Tearfund

Out of control XL Bully bites small dog after harness breaks

'VAR has got out of control' - Man Utd lose again on chaotic night in Copenhagen

Humanity is out of control, and AI is worried

Thursday 9 November 2023

Out of control

Suella Braverman is 'out of control': Home secretary sparks fresh row over 'inflammatory' newspaper article

Writing in The Times newspaper, the home secretary suggested "some of Saturday's march group organisers have links to terrorist groups, including Hamas".

In an article for The Times newspaper, the home secretary once again described pro-Palestinian protesters as "hate marchers".

And she went even further, adding: "I do not believe that these marches are merely a cry for help for Gaza.

I haven't read the Times article, but there is no need to take sides in order for the phrase 'out of control' to jump out of the virtual page. An entirely obvious response is to question where the control is supposed to lie - as if we didn't know. 

The assumption behind that little phrase is that 'control' doesn't lie with the Prime Minister, his cabinet or his party, it lies with the permanent administration, the media and their political ethos. Challenge that in any way and you are 'out of control' - their control. 

The Substitution

A curious feature of woke-talk is the impersonal nature of it. Even when a single individual frames their conversation within the approved narrative, it fails to come across as coherently personal, as if behind it there is an idiot crowd babbling away through one set of vocal cords.

Organised crowds have always played an important part in the life of peoples, but this part has never been of such moment as at present. The substitution of the unconscious action of crowds for the conscious activity of individuals is one of the principal characteristics of the present age.

Gustave Le Bon - The Crowd; study of the popular mind (1895)

Imagine a situation where communication has become so slick and easy that the individual becomes hopelessly subsumed into the communicating crowd and is that much less an individual. Thanks to mobile phones and social media we end up with The substitution of the unconscious action of crowds for the conscious activity of individuals.

So far the substitution isn’t going well.

Wednesday 8 November 2023

Try not to focus on the hat


Scottish expert to attend COP28

Yousaf to attend Cop28 climate summit in Dubai

The Scottish First Minister said his attendance will show Scotland’s ‘commitment to being a good global citizen’.

Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf is to head to Dubai for the Cop28 summit, saying doing so shows the country is making a “constructive contribution” to tackling problems such as climate change.

He said he will use his visit to call on other nations to “urgently step up to address the injustice at the heart of climate change” by providing more support to poorer nations who are suffering the most from rising global temperatures.

William learns the ropes

William hopes Earthshot Prize will eradicate climate change anxiety by 2030

The Prince of Wales has said that he hopes the Earthshot Prize will lead to the next generation not having to deal with climate change anxiety by 2030.

Speaking at the first ever Earthshot+ event, held the day after the third annual awards ceremony for his environmental prize, he laid out his vision for it over the next seven years.

He said: “We’ll be able to look the next generation in the eye in 2030 and say: ‘We started to turn the dial,’ and climate anxiety will no longer be something that the next generation fear.”

As we know, there are two main strategies to be grasped when learning how to play this game. William seems to have absorbed them both -

  1. Make full use of carefully crafted sentimental drivel. 
  2. Make full use of forgettable predictions.   

Well done William, your father must be proud. 

Tuesday 7 November 2023

AWOL yet again

BBC forced to apologies after 'bias' in Covid coverage: 'It was not proportionate'

The BBC has apologised after admitting that it showed “bias” towards an MP over his comments regarding Covid vaccines.

Andrew Bridgen, a Reclaim Party MP, raised his concerns over the impact of vaccines during an adjournment debate that was broadcast by BBC Parliament.

Alongside his comments were captions provided by the BBC which “corrected” the figures Bridgen was using as part of his argument.

The BBC is not making a great success of its fact-checking pretensions. 

Biased coverage of Mr Bridgen's claims was what the government, most MPs and the permanent administration favoured so strongly that he had to join another party. Faced with that, BBC fact-checking seems to have gone AWOL yet again.  

It's more interesting than the news

'Britain's dullest man' has huge collection of PG Tips boxes - but prefers herbal tea

A dad who claims to be “Britain’s dullest bloke” has amassed a £5,000 collection of PG Tips boxes – even though it’s not really his cup of tea.

David Hart displays his 500-strong collection of teabag boxes, bought online and from charity shops, in a giant cabinet. Wife Charlotte complains of the smell but his two kids find his hobby “hilarious”.

Graphic designer David, 56, said: “When a package arrives, they say ‘I bet it’s more teabags’. But I don’t drink it that much. I’m more of a mint and chamomile tea drinker.

“I realise it’s bizarre. I’m happy to be called Britain’s dullest man. Other collections don’t go into the detail of packaging that I do. My wife puts up with it. I’ve bought and sold stuff, but I have made a profit. She can’t stand the smell but I don’t think it’s that bad.”

Collecting PG Tips boxes is more interesting than a fair chunk of what passes for news. The next health scare, the latest climate change drivel, yet another Just Stop Everything stunt, the antics of Harry and Meghan, celebrity says something horrible, MP does something horrible, Met Office weather warnings, another political promise from "Sir" Keir Starmer, Sunak's micro-adjustment to something unimportant, more dietary advice...'s time for a cup of tea.

Monday 6 November 2023

Messing about in boats

Prince William ‘a natural’ as his team wins dragon boat race in Singapore

The Prince of Wales was praised as “a natural” as his team won a dragon boat race on the Marina Reservoir against a backdrop of Singapore’s most famous landmarks.

William, wearing a black cap and white polo shirt, was praised by a teammate from the British Dragons before another said the prince “didn’t miss a stroke” after he took part in a race on a 22-seater boat with locals, British expats living in Singapore and representatives from across the Commonwealth on Monday morning local time (1am GMT).

The prince is in Singapore for the third annual Earthshot Prize ceremony, aimed at recognising solutions to “repair” the planet, and will see five category winners presented with £1 million each to scale up their environmental ideas.

Obvious guess coming up here. Prince William probably didn't do his bit to “repair” the planet by travelling to Singapore in a dragon boat. We do the "repair", he does the messing about in boats.

Don't they know anything about Net Zero?

N. Korean coal briquettes in markets are cheaper than last year

But many North Koreans still lack enough cash on hand to buy them

As North Koreans begin to prepare for the winter, the price of coal briquettes — the primary source of heating in the country — has dropped significantly compared to the same period last year...

North Koreans usually buy coal and fashion it into briquettes for winter heating. They typically need between 1.5 and 2 tons of coal to stay warm in winter.

Surely North Koreans are aware of the environmental advantages of wind and solar to stay warm in winter. Don't they know anything about Net Zero?  

We made this discovery years ago

King's Speech: Charles will have to announce measures we know he is bound to dislike

The cameras will be there to record any involuntary reactions and indications of dissent - yet he has practiced all his life to ensure there won't be. It will be one of the many moments he uses to show he understands what it means to be King...

The pressure will also be on because we all know he will have to announce - without flinching - measures we remember from his time as Prince of Wales that he is bound to dislike, rolling back some environmental protections close to his heart.

And now he made the cardinal discovery, which marks an epoch in the life of every man who arrives at it, that world-celebrated persons are very like other persons.

Arnold Bennett – The Old Adam (1913)

Sunday 5 November 2023

Bill Multi-Jet

Bill Gates Owns Multiple Jets He Calls His ‘Guilty Pleasure’

n 1997, Gates joined the elite ranks of billionaires and purchased a business jet, a Bombardier Challenger 604, with a price tag of approximately $21 million. Gates chose to use his personal funds to acquire the aircraft, rather than relying on Microsoft to foot the bill, even though the jet would primarily serve business purposes. This business jet provided Gates the flexibility and convenience he required for his extensive global travels, aligning him with other business magnates who had recognized the value of private jets.

Gates now owns an impressive fleet of at least four business jets. Valued at close to $200 million, his collection includes the elite Gulfstream G650. Beyond ownership, he also runs a private aviation management company and has channeled substantial investments into the largest business jet service provider globally. …

There are forces of madness; I have shown you that I make allowance for them. But they are only dangerous so long as privilege allies itself with hypocrisy. The task of the modern civiliser is to sweep away sham idealisms.

George Gissing - Born in Exile (1892)

Due diligence is beyond its grasp

Ollie Ryan Tucker has an interesting Critic piece on an example of the BBC failing to be careful with its due diligence.

The BBC’s Insta-reality

The BBC should be more careful with its due diligence

It is clear by the adoption of celebrities by online scammers that they are trading on the public profile of those figures to dupe viewers into parting with their cash. In these scams, legitimate individuals or institutions appear to lend credence to otherwise pie-in-the-sky schemes, telling viewers that financial liberation is easily at hand. Both Martin Lewis and Chris Packham appear regularly on national television, be it the BBC or ITV. By that virtue, they are given legitimacy and authority. If the BBC trusts them, why shouldn’t I? That was an attitude many of us have always subscribed to, misgivings about certain presenters’ quirks aside.

This left me surprised that the BBC’s recent documentary on online scams and financial catfishing appears to be hosted by a man who himself is tied up in dodgy companies and distortions. He has left a trail of angry customers who feel defrauded in his wake.

The whole piece is well worth reading as yet another bit of evidence that the BBC cannot be relied on to do even basic fact-checking for its own programmes. It's an entertainment outfit, nothing else.

It’s all very well securing additional legislation on online scams in the new Online Safety Bill, and clamping down on social media companies that allow scams to flourish on their sites. As with much of the commentary on dis- or misinformation, however, it is establishment and legacy media that is letting us down whilst simultaneously and self-interestedly warning us about their competitors.

What does it say about the BBC, with its renewed focus on fact-checking with BBC Verify, that even the most basic and rudimentary due diligence is beyond its grasp?

— and so on

That is to say, I no longer thought of the matter itself, but only of what I was thinking about it. If I had then asked myself, “Of what am I thinking?” the true answer would have been, “I am thinking of what I am thinking;” and if I had further asked myself, “What, then, are the thoughts of which I am thinking?” I should have had to reply, “They are attempts to think of what I am thinking concerning my own thoughts” — and so on.

Leo Tolstoy – Boyhood (1854)

I think Tolstoy was wrong. Ignoring mental images, when we think, we talk to ourselves without speaking. We do it and are aware of doing it, but that’s it. By making it into a series of levels Tolstoy was playing with words. 

Of course he was a young man when he wrote this, perhaps fascinated by the possibilities we seem to see in words. As we know, it's still a problem today. Net Zero is an example.

Saturday 4 November 2023

Even the fire looks tired

It’s been foul weather here in Derbyshire today, grey, cold and wet. So foul that we haven’t been out all day, although that isn’t quite true. As a last resort this morning we set off in the car to a nearby shopping centre but as soon as we’d set off it began to rain so hard that we turned back.

This afternoon it was still cold, still raining, so we thought a last, last resort might be to tog up in waterproofs and walk to Sainsbury’s. No - after looking out of the front door we gave up on that idea too.

It’s evening now, fireworks fizzing and banging outside so maybe the rain has finally ceased. Discounting illness, it’s a long time since we’ve stayed in all day. It's just not something we do. So much so that we’re not used to it and now we’re more tired than if we’d done a ten mile walk.

Even the fire looks tired.

The sensible one

Rewilding at scale not ‘necessarily a good idea’, Princess Royal says

She revealed she does discuss the topic of conservation with her brother, the King, but would not say if they always agree.

But speaking to The Telegraph, the princess said: “I’m not sure that rewilding at scale is necessarily a good idea – it probably is in corners, but if you’re not careful you rewild all the wrong things because they are just the things that are more successful at growing.

“You’ve just got to live with what’s there and make sure it doesn’t get overwhelmed.”

Another findings find

How to measure and improve brain health as the pandemic had 'lasting impact' on those over 50

Pandemic restrictions including lockdown have had a “real lasting impact” on the brain of those over 50 whether or not they had Covid-19, studies have found.

Researchers said this could be a result of not exercising enough, drinking too much alcohol, loneliness and depression - issues which were all exacerbated by the pandemic.

Findings showed the cognitive decline was especially rapid in the first year of the pandemic. It was also higher among those who had already shown signs of mild cognitive decline before the pandemic.

Cognitive decline? The simple answer to that was don't watch television or pay attention to mainstream media. On the whole I think the pandemic has helped a significant number of people towards much more healthy and cognitively alert levels of cynicism.  

What we need now is a few power cuts due to Net Zero and levels of public cynicism could become healthier still, possibly even sustainably healthy.

Bulldozer Dreams


Created with Bing AI

Friday 3 November 2023


Keir Starmer: Labour will bulldoze barriers to British success

Labour would "bulldoze through barriers to British success", party leader Sir Keir Starmer has said in a speech to businesses in north-east England.

The Labour leader vowed to change planning rules and further education in a bid to boost economic growth.

He said next week's King's Speech - in which the government will set out its plans for the coming months - should be used to kick off a "big build".

In his enthusiasm for bulldozers, "Sir" Keir seems to be aiming at planning restrictions rather than bulldozing the BBC, NHS, Net Zero, numerous university departments, state education and one of the biggest obstacles of all, the Labour Party.

No. "Sir" Keir has set his sights on bulldozing defective paperwork, something he seems to understand.