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Monday 15 April 2024

Hypocrisy - it just evolves



Mr. Airlie, picking daintily at his food, continued his stories: of philanthropists who paid starvation wages: of feminists who were a holy terror to their women folk: of socialists who travelled first-class and spent their winters in Egypt or Monaco: of stern critics of public morals who preferred the society of youthful affinities to the continued company of elderly wives: of poets who wrote divinely about babies' feet and whose children hated them.

Jerome K. Jerome - All Roads Lead to Calvary (1919)

Sunday 14 April 2024

Lots and lots of clowns



Ofcom chair Michael Grade says TV has become ‘exploitative, patronising and cruel’

Michael Grade, the chair of broadcasting regulator Ofcom, has said TV has become “exploitative and cruel”.

In a new interview, the peer and former chair of the BBC board said: “The exploitation dial has been switched up more and more for ratings. It makes me mad. I really don’t like it or enjoy it.

“Television has also become patronising in the sense of: ‘This will do for the audience.’ No mind at work behind it. No real craft thrown in. Just bread and circuses.”


The BBC has always been patronising, but I'm not so sure about bread and circuses. Bread and circuses without the bread perhaps, but lots and lots of clowns.    

Why do people prefer others to run their lives?



Thomas Sowell interviewed thirty years ago. His message is even more relevant today.

The boundaries of ordinary life



And, true enough, there was a look of gloom, as the twilight fell silently and sadly out of the sky, its gray or sable flakes intermingling themselves with the fast-descending snow. The storm, in its evening aspect, was decidedly dreary. It seemed to have arisen for our especial behoof, — a symbol of the cold, desolate, distrustful phantoms that invariably haunt the mind, on the eve of adventurous enterprises, to warn us back within the boundaries of ordinary life.

Nathaniel Hawthorne - The Blithedale Romance (1852)


After the forthcoming general election, Keir Starmer will go back within the boundaries of his ordinary life. His social class, friends, Labour party workers, Parliamentary colleagues, circle of contacts and the ordinary life of a prime minister as an annexe to all that. 

But after the electoral battle, Starmer will not venture back within the boundaries his voters’ ordinary lives because he was never there in the first place. He may ignore the boundaries of their ordinary lives for at least five years and that’s what he’ll do without ever needing to acknowledge that he’s doing it.

Yet Labour voters will still vote for a party leader who is not and cannot ever live within their world, because their boundaries are not his. Keir Starmer’s boundaries are Tony Blair's boundaries.

Of course this is merely a roundabout way of saying the world of governing elites isn’t ours, but the point to be made is that this claim is far more than the rhetoric of disenchantment. Their world isn’t ours and they intend to keep it that way.

Saturday 13 April 2024

Certain Afternoons



In England, in London, there are certain afternoons in winter when the clouds hang heavy and low and the light is so bleak that your heart sinks, but then you can look out of your window, and you see the coconut trees crowded upon the beach of a coral island. The strand is silvery and when you walk along in the sunshine it is so dazzling that you can hardly bear to look at it. Overhead the mynah birds are making a great to–do, and the surf beats ceaselessly against the reef. Those are the best journeys, the journeys that you take at your own fireside, for then you lose none of your illusions.

W. Somerset Maugham - The Trembling of a Leaf (1921)


Not only London, these afternoons occur in Derbyshire too, although I don't recall any mynah birds in my winter afternoon illusions.

Whopping



Mercedes upgrades its electric EQS to give the EV a huge 511 mile-range

Buyers of the updated EQS will get an extra 51 miles of range - now a whopping 511 miles in total - thanks to a new bigger battery.

The price is yet to be revealed but starting price will be at least what the current model costs, which is an eye-watering £112,000.



A little less than the range of our diesel with a full tank which we can fill in minutes. If anything, stories such as this make an EV even less appealing by associating an extremely high price with a respectable range. 

It's also a hint to we plebs that a car with a useful range may be out of our reach. Assuming this "whopping" range is genuinely achievable by customers of course.

When the right thing is the only thing



Angela Rayner says she will 'step down' if she is found to have committed a crime

The deputy Labour leader says she is "completely confident" she has followed all the rules as Greater Manchester Police reopens its investigation into her living arrangements before she became an MP.

Angela Rayner has said she will "do the right thing and step down" if she is found to have committed a crime in the police investigation into her former living arrangements.


It would be no surprise if she merely misunderstood the capital gains tax issue, but in a party of tax fetishists which has promised to enjoy a crackdown on legal tax avoidance, the "right thing" is the only thing.

There is another issue which will probably be ignored by the Metropolitan Language Police, but what does "step down" mean is a world of "levelling up"? Surely she means she'll step aside. Or even step up into real life.

Friday 12 April 2024

Just Call Ed

 

We may assume that Net Zero envisages a vast increase in this type of recycling activity. Maybe "Sir" Ed Davey knows how it is going to work. Or Ed Miliband. Or some other Ed. 

  

All the agreeable camouflage



The quotes below are segments of a larger quote from John Galsworthy’s Castles in Spain collection published in 1928. He says that human nature doesn’t change, but the impact of accidental discoveries moulds our collective direction of travel.


The march of mankind is directed neither by his will, nor by his superstitions, but by the effect of his great and, as it were, accidental discoveries on his average nature. The discovery and exploitation of language, of fire, of corn, of ships, of metals, of gunpowder, of printing, of coal, steam, electricity, of flying machines (atomic energy has still to be exploited), acting on a human nature which is, practically speaking, constant, moulds the real shape of human life, under all the agreeable camouflage of religions, principles, policies, personages, and ideas.


Galsworthy was born into the upper middle class which ran the country and still does. He novels reflect his origins and the way he saw events sweeping his social class along with the irresistible evolution of change just as it does with every class. A humane pragmatist, he thought we could make the best of things without all the agreeable camouflage of religions, principles, policies, personages, and ideas.

If we return to the present day, it is easy enough to see that Galsworthy was presenting a useful aspect of what we encounter in our digital world. In spite of political claims to the contrary, there is a strange sense that nobody is really in control. Global communication, vastly more information than we could ever absorb and a far greater ability to select, check and reject any information has eroded the professional ascendency of elites.


After the discovery and exploitation of gunpowder and printing, the centuries stood somewhat still, until, with coal, steam, and modern machinery, a swift industrialism set in, which has brought the world to its recent state. In comparison with the effect of these discoveries and their unconscious influence on human life, the effect of political ideas is seen to be inconsiderable.


We see glimpses of this too. Political leaders and their ideas have become banal, little more than chatter on social media. Impersonal influences have side-lined the political arena and its futile debates. As if governments are partly running on autopilot, the levers of power no longer work as they did and few people want to know why.


For theories arise from and follow material states of being, rather than precede and cause them. British Liberalism, for example, did not give birth to that hard-headed child Free Trade (by Wealth out of Short Sight); it did not even inaugurate the “live and let live” theory; it followed on and crowned with a misty halo a state of long-acknowledged industrial ascendancy

Prussian “will to power” did not cause, it followed and crowned with thorns, the rising wave of German industry and wealth. And outstanding personalities such as Gladstone and Bismarck are rather made outstanding by the times they live in, than make those times outstanding.


The times we live in appear to be moulding themselves into a shape where the main human ingredient is not the political arena but human nature and whatever remains of human cultures.


This is one of two sober truths with which one has to reckon in forecasting the future of civilisation; the other is the aforesaid constancy of human nature. The fact that modern human nature is much more subtle, ambitious, and humane than the nature of primitive man, is not greatly important to creatures who live but three-score years and ten, and who in their mental and spiritual stature are on the whole no higher, and in physical development probably lower, than the Greeks and Romans.


Perhaps those cultures which successfully set aside all the agreeable camouflage are the only ones likely to survive.

Thursday 11 April 2024

Take back control



Labour pledges to ‘take back control’ of bus services and accelerate franchising

Labour has pledged to end the “postcode lottery” of bus services by speeding up the franchising process.

Since de-regulation in 1985, the party said services outside of London have “collapsed”.

Shadow transport secretary Louise Haigh said the plan would kickstart a revival of bus services across England.

The plan aims to create 250 million more passenger journeys per year and allow local transport authorities to “take back control”.


The key word is obvious - it's "control". Based on financial year 2022/2023, 250 million more passenger journeys per year in England would be an increase of approximately 7.4%. They probably don't expect Labour voters to check that. 


In the financial year 2022/23, the number of passenger journeys on local bus services in Great Britain amounted to 3.7 billion trips, a year-on-year increase of around twenty percent. During the same period, nearly 3.4 billion bus passenger journeys were reported in England.

Bet it's not empty by Monday



We’ve had a full diary this week. Grocery deliveries, arranging a walk with former colleagues, dentist check-up, helping Grandson with maths and chemistry GCSE revision, off out to lunch with relatives later today, Granddaughter is with us tomorrow and I have a hospital visit on Saturday. Probably a few other bits and bobs I’ve forgotten.

We have a diary in the kitchen to keep tabs on these things and I've just checked next week. We’ll have the school run but that’s done by 9am - nothing else in the diary. One week has diary entries every day and the following week is clear - that’s how it goes. Events don’t arrange themselves in an orderly manner.

Blimey - an empty week coming, maybe we’ll whizz off somewhere. Bet it's not empty by Monday.

Wednesday 10 April 2024

What's the opposite of product placement?



Rishi Sunak offers 'fulsome apology' to Adidas Samba fans

The prime minister has been accused of "ruining" Adidas Sambas after being pictured wearing a pair at Downing Street - but he has a message for devotees of the classic trainer.

This isn't the first time the prime minister has made headlines because of his shoes.

In 2023, he was mocked for wearing Timbaland boots during a speech about the government's drive to "stop the boats", with people pointing out they were disproportionately large...

The year before that, he was criticised for wearing a £490 pair of suede Prada shoes to a building site.

And in 2021, people were quick to point out his £95 sliders as he prepared to deliver the budget.



I've no idea what an Adidas Samba is, or Timbaland boots, suede Prada shoes or £95 sliders. I now know they are types or brands of footwear though, so that's one benefit of keeping tabs on the news of the day. 

Countries must protect citizens from unicorn droppings



Europe's highest court rules countries must 'protect citizens from climate change' after legal action by 2,000 Swiss women - paving the way for British eco mobs to force the government to implement green policies

The case could open the door for more legal challenges from eco activists across the continent, including in the UK, where campaigners have been to court in recent months to fight the government on its climate policies.

Greta Thunberg was in the courtroom as the The European Court of Human Rights ruling was announced. 'These rulings are a call to action. They underscore the importance of taking our national governments to court,' the 21-year-old Swede said.



Oh well, apparently the lunacy and racketeering are to continue, but legal bods know best. 

IPCC 2001 Assessment Report. 

The climate system is a coupled non-linear chaotic system, and therefore the long-term prediction of future climate states is not possible.

Tuesday 9 April 2024

Small Spaces



People struggling to get out of cars parked in bays due to increasing size of vehicles

Drivers are struggling to get in and out of parked cars because of the increasing size of their vehicles, according to a new study.

Many manufacturers have increased the width of vehicles despite the size of most UK car park spaces being based on guidelines dating back to the 1970s, research by Churchill Motor Insurance found.


It isn't only the size of parking spaces of course, but the problem is something we've noticed. We don't park in our local Sainsbury's car park for that reason, the spaces are too narrow, the chances of some monster pickup parking next to us are too high. Plus the problem of shopping trolley scrapes of course.

A Fraternity


Many people will have seen these results of a recent Rasmussen poll on political attitudes within US elites, but with a UK general election looming, it is worth a reminder. Our elites are not likely to be much different. 

From the video -
For those who are wondering who are the elite 1% because Rasmussen doesn’t spell it out in these clips. It was people who make more than $150,000 a year, have advanced degrees, and live in densely populated cities. And this group gives Biden an 80% approval rating.

Other people will pay



Labour to launch £5bn crackdown on tax avoiders to close gap in spending plans

Rachel Reeves has said an incoming Labour government would launch a £5bn crackdown on tax avoiders to close a gap in its spending plans exposed by Jeremy Hunt scrapping the non-dom regime to finance tax cuts.

Warning households and businesses that Labour was prepared to adopt tough measures to tackle tax fraud and non-compliance, Reeves said the funding would be used to pay for free school breakfast clubs and additional NHS appointments.


It is remarkable how certain adults nurture within themselves such a dismal collection of futilities as represented by this commonplace but abjectly typical example. The ability doesn't appear to demand much training either.  

Yet there is not the smallest, most minute nano-possibility that this magical £5bn will behave itself and do two things -
  1. Turn up as planned. 
  2. Fail to disappear without trace into the gaping maw of the public sector.
Every adult in the room knows this, even those who have trained themselves to stand up on their hind legs and claim otherwise. Every adult in the room knows it is merely an opportunity to emit certain words and phrases thought to suggest that other people will pay. 

They won't. 

Monday 8 April 2024

Scoop

 

Nothing



It’s odd how the notion of sustainability has been appropriated for an unsustainable political meaning. Yet a basic and stable idea of sustainability would be a continuation of what works for any culture. 

At its most basic level this is the stable and sustainable nurturing of reproduction. Without it there is nothing else worth sustaining and within a few generations there is nothing to sustain. At this level, sustainability is that simple.

Here in the UK and the developed world generally, the ideal of a culture which generally works, a sustainable culture has been undermined in a number of familiar ways. Take this Elizabeth Skilton poster used in an earlier post.

 


From one perspective it is an idealised image of nineteen fifties family life. From a more basic perspective it is an image of what can make a sustainable culture sustainable. It depicts family life as one of the principal ways to nurture and sustain the most basic cultural necessity – sustainable reproduction.

Attacks on this ideal were always likely to be destructive, especially as there are clearly other factors at work apart from ideological political meddling. In which case perhaps it is better to stop the ideological meddling and treat sustainable family life as more than an ideal. Culturally we may perish anyway, but without an adequate replacement for this crucial ideal we have little chance of avoiding it.

What else is there beyond the sustainability of reproduction?

What have progressives proposed as a substitute for family life?

Nothing.

What an odd thing to do



Ofcom launches investigation into alleged rule breach by Labour's David Lammy

A radio show hosted by shadow foreign secretary David Lammy is being investigated by Ofcom after it received more than 50 complaints.

The MPs' register of financial interests shows Mr Lammy earns around £1,000 per episode, with his latest entry seeing him paid £5,460 for five shows in January.

And alongside a number of other speaking commitments, he is often cited as the highest-paid Labour MP for his work outside of parliament.


I can't imagine turning on the radio to listen to David Lammy. What an odd thing to do. However - 

This morning we popped into a Costa coffee shop after visiting a garden centre and negotiating the third world roads around Eastwood. It was probably something to do with kids still being off school because of the Easter holidays, but Costa was certainly very busy. 

For the staff it was non-stop, pushing out the orders, clearing the tables and still the queue was no shorter. They hardly had any respite while were there and no doubt weren't paid much above the minimum wage.  

MPs are extremely well paid compared to Costa Baristas because... 

Well - it's an interesting question.

Sunday 7 April 2024

It's hard not to snigger



Angela Rayner 'played by the rules' over tax affairs, claims Labour's David Lammy

The shadow foreign secretary defends his party's deputy leader, telling Sky News he is "confident" she has "done nothing wrong" after fresh reports about her living

But challenged over why she would not publish her tax returns, having called on Rishi Sunak to do so, Mr Lammy said: "I think there's a different arrangement and expectation for the prime minister than there is in this context and we are not yet in government."


Assuming this is the best he can do, support from David Lammy certainly has a chucked under a bus feel to it. I wouldn't want him supporting me. 

"We are not yet in government," he says. Doesn't quite sound like an HMRC consideration. 

But not disillusioned enough



Adam Boulton: Keir Starmer should expect to come under vicious assault from day one if Labour wins landslide


I hope so, we need some entertainment as decline is almost certainly set to continue unless "Sir" Keir's lot are hiding their collective lights under some remarkably opaque bushels.


There is nothing like the enthusiasm there was for the charismatic Tony Blair in 1997 - Keir Starmer has negative personal ratings, only much better than Rishi Sunak.

Voters are more disillusioned by politicians of any kind than they were then but a landslide would be a landslide and there are some comparisons to be drawn.



But not disillusioned enough to stop playing games on their phones and take the time to work out what might be going wrong. 

Saturday 6 April 2024

Alternative view of AI

 

Devolution has been a disaster



Sam Bidwell has a timely and useful Critic piece on Tony Blair's devolution disaster.


Devolution has been a disaster

SNP incompetence is a feature of the system and not a bug

Another week, another terrible Scottish law — this time, it’s the SNP’s Hate Crime and Public Order Act that’s in the spotlight. The new legislation has drawn criticism from the likes of JK Rowling and Elon Musk, who have rightly condemned the Act’s vague and expansive definition of “hate crime”.

So far, so standard — the Hate Crime Act isn’t the first dodgy bit of law-making to ooze its way out of Holyrood. Last year, it was the Scottish Government’s proposed reforms to gender recognition rules which provoked outrage from gender-critical feminists and unionists alike; before that, it was their heavy-handed Covid response, and the murky investigation into former First Minister Alex Salmond. Like clockwork, conservative commentators in London take to their columns to crusade against whatever the SNP is up to, each new infraction lending credence to their narratives about the madness of separatism.



The whole piece is well worth reading as a reminder of how damagingly incompetent the Blair government was. Also how useless tribal voting can be when it comes to dealing with hopelessly incompetent political parties.


In fact, there is no reason to believe that devolution has produced better outcomes for Scotland. At the same time, the competing mandates of Westminster and Holyrood make it increasingly difficult for our national government to govern the whole nation. Scotland’s educational outcomes lag far behind those in England, mismanagement of public contracts has seen the cost of major infrastructure projects rise rapidly, and according to Ipsos Scotland, just a quarter of Scots think that the SNP has done a good job of managing the economy...

It’s partly a human capital problem. Scotland’s best and brightest — whether in politics, administration, or journalism — are often drawn down to England, leaving the devolved government up in Edinburgh to be staffed, managed, and scrutinised by glorified local officials. Scotland’s native media infrastructure is woefully ill-suited to probing the activities of a Parliament that exercises real power over complex areas of policy — and at the end of the day, if things go wrong, the Scottish Government can always blame Westminster. After all, it is still the man in London who — theoretically — holds the purse strings.

Friday 5 April 2024

The zero carbon off switch is the tech to go for



Mini LED vs OLED: which TV screen technology is better?

The world of TVs can be a confusing place. OLED, QLED, LED, LCD, Mini LED, MicroLED... the list goes on. We're here to demystify these terms, and explain what they actually mean for you, the viewer.

This time it's the turn of OLED and Mini LED. We'll explain both screen technologies and see how they compare so that when it comes time to buy a new TV, you'll know which is best for you.

A pint at bedtime



By this time the pot-boy of the Sol's Arms appearing with her supper-pint well frothed, Mrs. Piper accepts that tankard and retires indoors, first giving a fair good night to Mrs. Perkins, who has had her own pint in her hand ever since it was fetched from the same hostelry by young Perkins before he was sent to bed.

Charles Dickens – The Old Curiosity Shop (1841)


Or better still –


Nodding his approval of this decisive and manly course of procedure, the landlord retired to draw the beer, and presently returning with it, applied himself to warm the same in a small tin vessel shaped funnel-wise, for the convenience of sticking it far down in the fire and getting at the bright places. This was soon done, and he handed it over to Mr Codlin with that creamy froth upon the surface which is one of the happy circumstances attendant on mulled malt.

Charles Dickens – The Old Curiosity Shop (1841)

It is impossible that you should be sincere



I am sincere!’ she broke in, with more passion than he had ever imagined her capable of uttering.

‘I cannot call it sincerity. It is impossible that you should be sincere; you live in the latter end of the nineteenth century; the conditions of your birth and education forbid sincerity of this kind.’


George Gissing - A Life's Morning (1888)


An interesting passage where Gissing’s character says that it is not possible for people of a certain social class and education to be sincere in certain circumstances. Today we tend to call this hypocrisy, but it is useful to see it as a selective failure to acknowledge the real world, a failure to be sincere. 

Insincerity is one of the roots of woke culture, accounting for that strange ability to blend ersatz sincerity with blatant virtue-signalling. To outsiders, woke rhetoric seems insincere because it is. It is not rooted in the real world, but in a politically ersatz world where ersatz sincerity is correspondingly necessary. 

Today it is one of the problems faced by sceptics in a world where professional insincerity is no obstacle to advancement. It never was an obstacle of course. Yet although such cultural shifts are nebulous and diffuse, perhaps the value of sincerity has been eroded. It certainly seems like it.

A major problem faced by sceptics is that virtue-signalling is a widespread substitute for public sincerity, as are emotional outbursts, high-profile stunts, appeals to authority, arm waving and so on. But for sceptics there is a reliable guide through the swamp –


As for me, I will believe in no belief that does not make itself manifest by outward signs. I will think no preaching sincere that is not recommended by the practice of the preacher.

Anthony Trollope - Barchester Towers (1857)


This of course is the guide to sincerity which is not ersatz - outward signs. It is the guide in our day just as it was in Trollope’s. 

Today we know all about outward signs which point unerringly towards insincerity. The rich climate activist who travels by private jet, the celebrity with multiple houses, the journalist with a villa in a warmer climate, the callow young activist with wealthy parents.

It is impossible that you should be sincere...

Thursday 4 April 2024

BBC bias ten years on



Back in March, David Keighley wrote a News-watch piece about his ten years spent attacking BBC bias.


TEN YEARS ON, BBC BIAS IS WORSE THAN EVER

ASTONISHINGLY, it is almost ten years since I first wrote my first blog for The Conservative Woman website. By that time, I had been friends with and worked with Kathy Gyngell – whose brainchild it was – for almost 30 years, 14 of them in trying to hold the BBC in check over its outrageously pro-EU coverage, through News-watch.

The springboard to that blog a decade ago? The BBC’s incestuous, self-serving infatuation with Glastonbury. I noted that the Corporation was sending its usual hundreds-strong army to mount disproportionately lavish coverage of the event.

And why? I argued that in the BBC’s warped events diary, this was a ‘woke’ happening par excellence – because at its heart was support for a galaxy of right-on causes such as climate alarmism, led that year by Greenpeace.



Anyone paying attention will know this, but the whole piece is well worth reading as a reminder that no major political party and no government is ever likely to do anything constructive about BBC bias. The political risk isn't worth it. 

Many MPs appear to rationalise this persistent failure by learning to see voters in much the same way that the BBC sees viewers - as the audience. 

We seem to have an inward-looking Parliamentary culture where viewers are voters and voters are viewers and neither guise makes them into decision-makers.    


A decade on has anything changed at the BBC, and is it likely to any time soon? Sadly, no. In late January, Lucy Frazer, the useless Tories’ Culture Secretary, very belatedly released the BBC’s Mid-Term Review (MTR)...

The MTR supposedly beefed up the complaints process by suggesting that Ofcom should become more rigorous about BBC bias. The reality is that since 2017 Ofcom has seen fit to investigate only a handful of BBC complaints. Most of its Content Board have strong BBC connections and instead focus their energies on attacking GB News.

Thus, nothing is happening to halt the ‘progressive’ agenda embraced by everyone at the BBC from the Director General downwards. All anyone can now do to resist BBC bias is to stop watching.

Restricted to everyone



Jill Biden privately pleas with Joe to stop Gaza’s suffering, report says

First Lady Dr Jill Biden is reportedly one of the strongest voices calling for the end of civilian deaths in Gaza in the White House and has been urging her husband, President Joe Biden, to help cease the violence.

Earlier this week, Mr Biden met with Muslim community members – something the first lady allegedly said she disapproved of because of Mr Biden’s support of Israel in the conflict with Hamas, according to a New York Times report.

One meeting attendee, Salima Suswell, the founder of the Black Muslim Leadership Council, said that Mr Biden recounted that Dr Biden had been urging him to, “Stop it, stop it now.”


Do they read as they write, or do modern journalists just skip the reading part altogether? The word 'private' doesn't usually include the whole world.

More likely is that the story comes via Joe's handlers who want to send a political signal, a signal so private it has to be restricted to the rest of the world.

The Seat Reservation

 

Wednesday 3 April 2024

Let's go to Mam Tor

 



Easter weekend traffic to Mam Tor in Derbyshire. Notoriously busy anyway, but we never go there to find out for ourselves.

Vanity Mirrors



Huge row as giant 2,000-acre solar farm to be built overlooking King Charles's Highgrove

James Gray, the Conservative MP for North Wiltshire, opposes the plans.

On his website he said: "Of the ten largest solar parks in England, eight are in our beloved county...We have 42 operational solar farms with a further 12 under planning or construction, nearly all in the north of the county.

"They cover 3,000 acres, which is more than any other county in England...

"And now we have an absolutely outrageous application for vast new solar parks under the misleadingly rustic title 'Lime Down Solar Park'.

"It will be 2,000 acres of vanity mirrors stretching from Luckington to Malmesbury, from Sherston to Hullavington, from the M4 to Corston.


They aren't mirrors of course, and they aren't being planned out of vanity, but it's an excellent way to describe them. 

Mr Gray seems to have a solid record of voting against this kind of nonsense, but it doesn't appear to have had any effect on stopping the rot. I'd have voted for him, but it would have ended up as a Conservative vote, not a conservative vote.

Apart from the vanity mirrors issue, this story does highlight a conservative voter's dilemma. Do I still vote for a decent individual who is a member of a failed party? 

Tuesday 2 April 2024

A cascade of cans already kicked down the road



Sir Keir Starmer needs to level with voters - concrete change may only come in a second Labour term

While the Labour leader will look towards the local elections as an important staging post on his path to power, he may also be trying to manage expectations of what a future Labour government can do...

But beyond the drama of the Conservative fortunes and the prime minister's fate, what is also emerging in this election campaign is the secondary strap of Sir Keir's 'change' message.

When he says change, what he really means is patience, and that is perhaps the national conversation we are going to be having much more in the run-up to this general election.



If concrete change is only scheduled for a second Labour government, then it isn't easy to see what that "national conversation" would be about. A list of things Sir Keir's regime isn't going to achieve could be compiled now, which seems to leave a significant shortage of conversational material for the next five years.

A list of things Sir Keir's regime isn't going to talk about could also be compiled now, so that won't help the "national conversation" either. I suppose football is one possibility.

The exciting world of Net Zero apartments



Why are North Koreans avoiding the upper floors of newly built apartments?

People living on upper floors have to carry everything they need to their homes, including water drawn from wells and firewood, a source told Daily NK

According to the source, the province began building high-rise apartments in Chongjin five or six years ago on the orders of the central government. But because the apartments have no elevators, residents on the upper floors have a hard time getting up and down. They also lack reliable electricity and water, making them unpopular with locals.


With no elevators, no running water, no central heating and unreliable electricity, it sounds as if North Korea has already ventured into the exciting world of Net Zero apartments. 

Our lot must be watching with great interest.   

Monday 1 April 2024

April Fool's Day has become invisible



Trump and Republicans unite in fury at Biden after Trans Visibility Day falls on Easter Sunday by chance

Republicans, led by Donald Trump, are sounding off on Joe Biden after he issued a statement recognising Trans Visibility Day becasue [sic] it happened to coincide with Easter Sunday this year.



Hmm - the most visible group in the developed world needs a visibility day.

It's rank incompetence

 

Let us count the number of people who are surprised



A&E waits: Hundreds of patients a week in England may have died unnecessarily

A study found there was likely an excess death for every 72 patients who spent eight to 12 hours in A&E. Nurses say the "crisis" is "taking lives".

More than 250 patients a week in England may have died unnecessarily last year due to very long waits for a bed in A&E, new estimates suggest.

A study by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine (RCEM) suggests patients are put at risk by spending hours in A&E, particularly after a decision has been made to admit them.

Media Dowsing



I’ve been probing the media via what's called media dowsing. It’s a plausible idea where you imagine you are holding two dowsing rods, but these are mental dowsing rods. 

To dowse headlines and general media guff, first relax in a quiet room. Remove all distractions and with those mental dowsing rods ready, quietly scan headlines, articles and advertisements with as little interest as possible. Not too difficult I imagine.

While mentally dowsing the media, make a quiet note of any word or phrase which, in a sense twitches those dowsing rods. For example, here are three sentences I came up with during a recent media dowsing session. Do they offer clues about what lies beneath?
 

1. Rishi Starmer may Rayner his poll lead say Donkey Sanctuary foresight experts during luxury sustainable housing crisis luncheon.

Okay - my first attempt almost makes sense, so there could be hidden depths in there.


2. Exotic mobile astrology jobs up for grabs in a sustainable world of AI teaching beta politicians about the dramatic solar eclipse of human experience.

No.2 is a little better because it seems to mean more than the first attempt, but in chasing that ephemeral meaning it loses something too.


3. Millions of households behind existential battle for record pizza deliveries after maps turn purple when filming begins with optimistic doom.

Could possibly be something in there, but I’m not totally convinced by the whole idea. Yet our media do have a level of shallowness which could still be worth dowsing in search of something deeper.

Sunday 31 March 2024

There is nothing so exasperating



Earth's Black Box: 32ft steel monolith will be built in Tasmania this YEAR and filled with hard drives documenting our climate change actions as an 'unbiased account of the events that lead to the demise

If humanity is obliterated by climate change, how will we even know it's happened?

That's the question being answered by Australian scientists, who are building Earth's Black Box – a 32-foot-long steel monolith that captures data about our planet.

It'll be filled with hard drives that constantly document climate change, giving an 'unbiased account of events' that lead to Earth's demise.



There is nothing, I think, so exasperating as that sort of falsehood which affects not to see what is quite palpable.

Sheridan Le Fanu - Uncle Silas (1864)

Not party political



Church is not party political, says archbishop amid Rwanda plan spat

The Archbishop of Canterbury has used his Easter sermon to say the church is not party political after facing criticism over his high-profile condemnation of the government's controversial Rwanda deportation scheme.


The word "party" is doing a great deal of work there - not with conspicuous success.

A change election



Tories set for worst election result, major poll suggests

Rishi Sunak’s Tories could be reduced to fewer than 100 MPs at the general election, a new poll has suggested.

The 15,000-person poll was used to create a seat-by-seat breakdown, which indicated the Conservatives would be wiped out in Scotland and Wales and hold just 98 seats in England.

Best for Britain chief executive Naomi Smith said: “With the polling showing swathes of voters turning their backs on the Tories, it’s clear that this will be a change election.”



This is the problem for voters who pay attention. Based on these results there is almost no chance that the forthcoming general election will be a change election unless a marked acceleration of the decline counts as change. Otherwise it's more of the same with different faces and marketing. Even sillier faces unfortunately.

The only real hope for this general election is a major upset of some kind, but a huge Labour victory is not a major upset. Otherwise it's a case of waiting five years for the next general election in the hope that millions more voters wake up.

Saturday 30 March 2024

Two Headlines



E-bike 'explodes outside Buckingham Palace'


An e-biked has seemingly exploded outside Buckingham Palace.

Photos and videos on social media show what appears to be the frame of a bike in flames on Saturday afternoon.


This e-motorbike provides a shockingly fun and functional commuting experience

Himiway, a prominent player in the electric mobility sector, made a big splash at CES 2024 with its new range of commuting machines, particularly the C5 e-motorbike. And finally, the bike is available to buy!

The exact idea of things



Hussonnet was not amusing. By dint of writing every day on all sorts of subjects, reading many newspapers, listening to a great number of discussions, and uttering paradoxes for the purpose of dazzling people, he had in the end lost the exact idea of things, blinding himself with his own feeble fireworks.

Gustave Flaubert - Sentimental Education (1869)


This is pretty much what goes on now if people aren’t selective enough when they look to the media for information. Feeble fireworks rather than adequate information is what they get. Millions still watching the BBC on a regular basis suggests those millions aren’t selective enough and have probably lost the exact idea of things. Not that there are good reasons to assume they have a powerful desire for the exact idea of anything.

Complexity and big media don’t mix. Big media outfits don’t put in the work and money required to untangle complexity, they don’t want to pay for the expertise and effort. It is unsurprising that what we so often see is lying by omission. Beyond the headline, stories often peter out into minimal effort, padded out with conjecture, gossip a few quotes and some stock images.

A good example occurred in the early days of the US presidential election where Donald Trump claimed that the election of Joe Biden was fraudulent. I recall an online BBC response which claimed that Trump’s allegation was false without explaining that this was an editorial opinion, not something the BBC knew.

The BBC response was too quick, it was too early to know one way or the other and probably still is. The issue was too incomplete and complex for definitive analysis to have been done, but big media and complexity don’t mix.

Friday 29 March 2024

Nixon on Fonda


Nixon could have been harsher here, but maybe he didn't need to be. The point is made well enough for anyone but ideologues.

 

Coy



DAILY MAIL COMMENT: Why won't Rayner come clean on tax?

When then Tory chairman Nadhim Zahawi got into bother with the Inland Revenue, she led calls for him to come clean or resign.

And when Prime Minister Rishi Sunak was on the rack over failing to declare his wife's business interests, she volubly condemned the 'transparency black hole'.

Yet when inconvenient questions are asked over her own tangled property and financial dealings, Mrs Rayner becomes uncustomarily coy. This reticence is regrettable.



What fun, but it always is fun to see politicians squirm. This story doesn't yet seem to be on the way out either, especially as the Tories don't have many reasons to indulge in some finger-pointing. 

"Sir" Keir must have doubts about managing his Parliamentary rabble if he is unlucky enough to become Prime Minister.  

The past rushes towards us



The new tech bringing loved ones back to life through AI

When technology entrepreneur Artur Sychov's father was diagnosed with cancer, he was forced to accept a day may soon come when he wouldn't be able to speak to him again.

The 38-year-old knew he would give anything to have another father-son conversation after his dad's death.

So, using artificial intelligence, he got to work on a way that could make it happen for others in his position.

Artur has created a virtual reality tool called "live forever mode". It features digital avatars who can simulate a person's voice, mannerisms and movements after just 30 minutes of the user being observed.


It has been obvious for a while that this is one of the likely directions of AI development. Yet instead of being impressed by the technology, anyone paying attention may well see it as a hint of future stagnation. A step beyond living in the past.  

Imagine a situation where a 'Tony Blair' avatar gives political advice forever and doesn't need to win one of those old fashioned notions called an 'election'...

But surely an 'election' is already an old fashioned notion. The past rushes towards us at an ever increasing rate.

Thursday 28 March 2024

Progressive Teacher

 

Officer Roscoe



Robot police dog shot multiple times credited with avoiding bloodshed

A robotic dog is being thanked by state police in Massachusetts for helping avert a tragedy involving a person barricaded in a home.

The robotic dog named Roscoe was part of the Massachusetts State Police Bomb Squad and deployed on March 6 in a Barnstable house after police were fired upon. Police sent in two other robots often used for bomb disposal into the house to find the suspect along with the robotic dog.

Controlled remotely by state troopers, it first checked the two main floors before finding someone in the basement. The person, armed with a rifle, twice knocked over the robotic dog before shooting it three times and disabling its communication.

Busy Day



We'll be setting off on the school run soon, but with lighter mornings I can see the potholes more clearly. It seems absurd that later this year voters will probably vote for more of the same, a level of malign, unthinking incompetence so extreme it isn't even easy to be angry about it.

Likely to be a busy day today as I have a log delivery and things to do. I'll enjoy stacking another load of logs as long as the rain holds off, but that's another gripe. We'll elect a government which among other things is bound to carry on claiming it can alter global weather patterns. 

Voters should dwell on that one before making their mark on the paper. Then dwell on it again. Most won't.

Wednesday 27 March 2024

Possibly the poorest quality work


 

Prince Philip statue to be removed after Cambridge council brands it 'poorest quality work'

sculpture in Cambridge said to represent Prince Philip is to be pulled down after the city council branded it “possibly the poorest quality work” it had seen.

The controversial artwork is understood to have cost £150,000, and is supposed to resemble the late Duke of Edinburgh in his role as vice-chancellor of the University of Cambridge.

The abstract 13ft bronze - named The Don - takes the form of a towering figure, in flowing black-and-gold academic robes and a mortarboard.

It's not the poorest quality work I've seen. A few years ago I saw a sketch by Tracey Emin which was certainly worse than that - and the dealer wanted money for it.

Surely 1300 won't be enough



Sadiq Khan promises 1,300 new police officers - but only with a Labour Government

The mayor, who is running for an historic third term at City Hall, said that if he is re-elected, he will put in place “around 1,300” additional neighbourhood police officers, PCSOs and special constables.

But he warned: “I can only guarantee a restoration of neighbourhood policing if both I win and the Labour party wins at the next general election.”


I see - so if London suffers the double whammy of a Labour government and another bout of Sadiq Khan, lots more policing will be required on the streets. Well - his concerns are easy enough to understand, but I doubt if 1300 will be enough.  

Tuesday 26 March 2024

Lazy bureaucrats



Andrew Tettenborn has an interesting CAPX piece on a remarkable example of bureaucratic sloth in the prison system.


Lazy bureaucrats are threatening the rule of law

If you want a serious example of broken Britain that doesn’t neatly fit the Left’s culture of blaming everything on populism and underfunding, look no further than what happened at Wandsworth prison earlier this year, as described in a High Court judgment reported last week.

On a Tuesday morning, Westminster magistrates sentenced a Korean gentleman, Bumju Kim, to ten weeks for assault. Since he had already spent more than that on remand, he should have been set free. Instead he was bundled straight back on the bus to HMP Wandsworth. Wandsworth that evening realised something was wrong, but calmly told Mr Kim that even if it was, nothing could be done for a couple of days. Meanwhile, Mr Kim would just have to stay unlawfully cooped up in a stinking prison.



The whole piece is well worth reading, both as an example of bureaucratic sloth and because of the not unfamiliar culture which allowed it.


At about 2:30 on Wednesday morning, a High Court judge issued a writ of habeas corpus addressed to the Governor herself, commanding her either to release Mr Kim or bring him before him by 11am next day. The lawyer rang the prison early next morning, presumably with this news, but the receptionist refused to put him through to either the Duty Governor or the Offender Management Unit. Nor was Mr Kim brought before the court by 11 (though he was released a little later). Ordered by a furious judge to file evidence within seven days explaining her plain disobedience to a habeas corpus writ, the Governor did nothing. She finally responded some days later after a threat to sentence her for contempt of court...

The judge himself hit the nail on the head. The Governor of Wandsworth seemed, he said, to have regarded a court order as not so much an order but a target: as something to be slotted in to the other matters of routine and performed as and when possible. That’s bad enough with orders addressed to private litigants to do this or that. With orders concerning the liberty of the subject it is, as the judge made clear, unforgivable.

Censored Trousers



North Korea censors Alan Titchmarsh's trousers on BBC gardening show

North Korea is known to illegally stream western TV shows including Premier League football, and on Korean Central Television it recently aired an old episode of the BBC programme Gardening Secrets.

In the scene Mr Titchmarsh is kneeling in a garden, tending to plants, when the blurred effect is applied to his legs.

The censoring is said to be linked to Kim Jong Un's regime's efforts to restrict Western fashion and culture in North Korea, NKNews reports.

Blue jeans are said to be a sign of the West, according to the outlet, and have been essentially banned since the 1990s.

Psychic Scammer



Scammer claimed to be a psychic, witch and Irish heiress, victims say as she faces extradition to UK

She has traveled [sic] America saying she's an Irish heiress, a psychic and good friends with a movie star in order to run scores of scams, her victims say.

But now Marianne Smyth is in a Maine jail awaiting a hearing next month that will decide whether she can be sent back to the United Kingdom over a scam dating back more than 15 years in Northern Ireland.

The 54-year-old American is accused of stealing more than $170,000 from at least five victims from 2008 to 2010 in Northern Ireland, where a court issued arrest warrants for her in 2021, according to legal documents. She was located and arrested last month in Maine.


Meanwhile people claiming they can foretell global temperatures decades into the future are welcome to flaunt their crystal balls within the corridors of power, in spite of being endorsed by King Charles. 

It's a funny old world.

Monday 25 March 2024

Plank



English councils to get £295m for implementing weekly food waste collections

Councils in England are to receive up to £295 million to support them to introduce weekly food waste collections, the Government has announced.

New funding will cover the provision of food waste caddies for homes and specialist collection vehicles and will be targeted at local authorities that have yet to put collections in place.

Recycling minister Robbie Moore said: “Weekly food waste collections are a central plank in delivering a simpler, easier recycling system for all.

“It will help to stop food waste heading to landfill and support our goals of tackling both waste and climate change.


Let me see - recycling minister Robbie Moore says a more complex domestic waste system is a simpler, easier recycling system for all. I bet a bureaucrat with a grudge fed him with that line to make him look like a plank. It worked. 

I wonder if people who don't have food waste will be eligible for refunds?

So many layers of rhetoric



Environmental damage should be criminalised with up to ten years in jail, says anti-Brexit campaigner

Gina Miller, who shot to prominence as an anti-Brexit campaigner, has warned that the UK has fallen well behind the EU in terms of environmental protection.

Ms Miller, who came to prominence bringing legal cases over Brexit, said: "Brexit has allowed us to weaken our environmental rules and dilute our climate ambitions.

"We are not only pitifully lagging behind Europe, but we have lost all credibility as a global leader in environmental protection.


There was nothing she did not remember— wrongly; but her halting facts were swathed in so many layers of rhetoric that their infirmities were imperceptible to her friendly critics.

Edith Wharton - The Greater Inclination (1899)

Existential Threat Threat



The rise in the term 'existential threat' from 1800 to 2019 according to Google Ngram Viewer. Seems to have been zero during World War I, the Spanish flu pandemic, World War II and the Cuban missile crisis but has recently rocketed.

Is the rise in existential threats an existential threat threat? If he wins the next election I suggest Keir Starmer needs Minister for Existential Threats.


 

Sunday 24 March 2024

Silver bullet



Government’s ‘silver bullet’ heat pump plan not enough to hit net-zero target

The Government’s ambitious plan to fit heat pumps in homes across the UK in order to hit its net-zero goals is doomed to fail unless ministers quickly adapt their strategy, an industry insider has said.

Ministers say they want 600,000 heat pumps installed per year by 2028 – while just 18,900 were installed between May 2022 to December 2023. By 2035, ministers want to see up to 1.6 million heat pumps being fitted a year.

However, a recent report has found that up to five million homes across the UK may be unsuitable for heat pumps in another blow to the Government’s plan.



I thought silver bullets were a way of dealing with werewolves. If so it may be creepily appropriate as werewolves operate in the dark. 

Yet it's also weird how an article such as this comes to be written. So many obviously silly assumptions that it isn't worth analysing, yet this kind of guff continues to be churned out. It seems to occupy a niche between advertising, PR, official propaganda and possibly horoscopes. 

To a good approximation, nobody believes Net Zero will be achieved, including the government. It is clearly going to make us significantly worse off and the only interesting aspect will come when enough people realise that outcome indicates intent.

They succeed, they get on



Erb looked moody as he closed the satchel. ‘Absorption in self isn’t thought. Children naturally have the most, and even at our age there are some odious remnants; but these people who all their lives seem just made of it — pure egoism, spontaneous self-pushery, instinct for leadership and self-dramatization — why, damn it, they succeed; they get on!

Booth Tarkington - The Show Piece (1947)


If thought is remembered language then maybe this quote works. Absorption in self isn’t thought because it is not remembered language. This may be so if we assume that egoists do not reinforce their egoism by standing before a mirror describing to themselves how special they are. Justin Trudeau may be an exception to that of course, but we can’t be sure.

In which case egoism is not a way of thinking but a self-centred attitude which permeates thinking. Not so much remembered language, but the overriding priority of self which selects what is remembered and ignores the rest. But damn it, they succeed; they get on!

Saturday 23 March 2024

Broken Science


About a year ago William Briggs gave this excellent and comparatively non-technical talk on the problems of modern science. Just over an hour long, but Briggs is a fluent and entertaining speaker who certainly manages to explain why modern science and scientists can be so abjectly unreliable.

 

Jump



'Next pandemic is around the corner,' expert warns - but would lockdown ever happen again?

Four years after the UK's first COVID lockdown was announced, infectious disease experts explain why it's increasingly likely a virus will "jump" from animals to humans and cause another pandemic.

Scientists warn global warming and deforestation are also making it increasingly likely that a viral or bacterial agent will "jump" from animals to humans and cause another pandemic.


Yes it's "expert warns" time and more jumping viruses. The little blighters might even "jump" from a lab - you never know.  The viruses that is, not the experts. Still, they managed to squeeze a reference to global warming so that might lead to a funding jump, which is probably what it's all about. 

A much bigger long-term danger is a kind of collectivist dominance fetish which seems to assist in driving such speculation and many other concocted anxieties.

Friday 22 March 2024

Twaddle In Three Dimensions

 



Dame Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture from Wakefield-born sculptor auctioned for almost half a million pounds

A golden sculpture entitled Three Curves With Strings (Gold Mincarlo) by artist Dame Barbara Hepworth has been auctioned for almost half a million pounds.

Not a symbol, but a fraud



A conception not reducible to the small change of daily experience is like a currency not exchangeable for articles of consumption; it is not a symbol, but a fraud.

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


Familiar difficulties arise when we attempt to define what is going wrong with our political culture here in the UK and elsewhere in the developed world. Many possibilities seem to fit the circumstances tolerably well without quite offering a satisfactory theme. Possibly there is no single theme, but if our various failures stand alone, maybe they do have a few common features.

For example, we seem to have a serious problem with language, more specifically with how we use symbols to connect ourselves with both the familiar world of daily life and the less familiar world of current affairs. Buying groceries, sending the kids to school and the daily commute encapsulate familiar symbols of daily life, they are reducible to the small change of daily experience. Yet they do not fit comfortably with the obviously fraudulent use of symbols in numerous media headlines.

The so-called green revolution is nothing like making coffee and a round of toast while gazing out of the window at garden birds pecking away at the bird feeder. The green revolution has symbols we can see such as wind turbines, electric cars and recycling bins, but these symbols are not reducible to the small change of daily experience. Daily life would lack nothing if we did not have wind turbines, electric cars or recycling bins.


Wind turbines are not symbols of sustainable power, they are based on old technology, are inefficient and unreliable with their own sustainability problems.
 
Electric cars are not symbols of a sustainable lifestyle. They are not yet superior to traditional cars and have their own sustainability problems.

Recycling is not a symbol of a sustainable lifestyle. It is wasteful in terms of human effort and there are practical limits on what can be usefully recycled.

Gender is not a symbol of socially inclusive progress, it is a fact of human reproduction.

Pale skin colour is not a symbol of privilege, it is a fact of biological heritage.

Equality is not a virtuous political policy, it is a fraudulent depiction of social reality.


The point to be made is that the symbols we rely on to navigate daily life, do not necessarily allow us to navigate public debates with integrity or even dignity. Much public debate merely expresses symbols of allegiance, compliance or fashionable acceptance, not reducible to the reality they supposedly symbolise.

The elusive nature of the problem is its weakness, we must use symbols within the public arena. Yet fashionable symbols of allegiance are far too powerful to be demolished merely by confrontation with more honest symbols, For those prosperous people dominating the public arena, their reality is too benign to threaten the fraudulent symbols they use to maintain their dominance.

When this diversity between the truest theory and the simplest fact, between potential generalities and actual particulars, has been thoroughly appreciated, it becomes clear that much of what is valued in science and religion is not lodged in the miscellany underlying these creations of reason, but is lodged rather in the rational activity itself, and in the intrinsic beauty of all symbols bred in a genial mind. Of course, if these symbols had no real points of reference, if they were symbols of nothing, they could have no great claim to consideration and no rational character; at most they would be agreeable sensations.

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


This is the problem - much of what is valued in science and religion is not lodged in the miscellany underlying these creations of reason, but is lodged rather in the rational activity itself.

If important arenas of rational activity are not rational, but fraudulent, then they are valued fraudulently, being based on nothing more substantial than agreeable sensations. That is to say, agreeable to a certain social class. This seems to be one underlying theme of the malaise – fraudulent symbols.

AIR



The other day found me chatting to my old pal Dr Baz Broxtowe of Fradley University. He mentioned his latest study on modern civilisation and what he calls AIR.

“AIR is the acronym for the three pillars of our modern civilisation,” Dr Baz explained. “It stands for Advocacy, Incompetence and Racketeering.”

“And it’s not a joke?” Well - I had to ask the obvious question.

“Absolutely not," Dr Baz insisted. "Let me explain –

Advocacy creates the narratives which support Incompetence and Racketeering.

Incompetence creates the chaotic conditions which support Advocacy and Racketeering.

Racketeering creates the benefits derived from Advocacy and Incompetence.”

“It all hangs together,” I admitted.

“Unfortunately it does,” mused Dr Baz, “so nobody can be found to advocate it more widely. Perhaps it's just as well.” He shrugged.

Thursday 21 March 2024

There's no greater failure



Cath Walton has a useful Critic piece on the BBC, Director General Tim Davie and his abject unwillingness to challenge even the most ludicrous examples of progressive nonsense.


Davie, Davie, give us some answers do

Why the BBC keeps obscuring the truth of sex and gender

Thanks to the final straining filaments of the public remit, we now know that BBC News has an Editor-in-Chief who believes his duty is to be nice to middle-aged men who imagine themselves to be women.

It’s not to tell the truth about them — that they’re men. Heaven forfend anyone tries to tell certain people what they do not want to hear. “We have to be kind, and caring, and nice,” says Tim. His emphasis.

This was the Director General’s evidence to the Culture and Media Select Committee yesterday morning: part of his duty as DG, which means he’d actually prepared for an answer for the inevitable question about impartiality on sex and gender, making it all the more depressing.



The whole piece is well worth reading as another example of how absurd BBC bias has become.


I met Tim a couple of years ago to discuss this, and to ask that the Style Guide be updated to remove self-identification. Self-ID was installed in the Guide in 2013 after friendly meetings with trans activists, and is the root and source of most of the BBC’s biased reporting.

The ink was barely dry on the Equality Act before the BBC helped fund a group that became All About Trans, which subsequently had multiple meetings with BBC journalists, editorial policy executives and — crucially — the then Head of Online. The phrasing inserted into the Style Guide in late 2013 was almost word for word a quote from activist Leng Montgomery — “use the pronouns they prefer” — and it’s survived a number of updates, the latest in December last year...


It’s clear now, however, that gender theory capture has crept up to the top of the BBC. We have an Editor-in-Chief who thinks that telling the truth isn’t nice. There’s no greater failure.

Watershedding



South Africa runs dry as largest city hit by unprecedented water crisis

For two weeks, Tsholofelo Moloi has been among thousands of South Africans lining up for water as the country's largest city, Johannesburg, confronts an unprecedented collapse of its water system affecting millions of people.

Residents rich and poor have never seen a shortage of this severity. While hot weather has shrunk reservoirs, crumbling infrastructure after decades of neglect is also largely to blame. The public's frustration is a danger sign for the ruling African National Congress, whose comfortable hold on power since the end of apartheid in the 1990s faces its most serious challenge in an election this year.

A country already famous for its hourslong electricity shortages is now adopting a term called “watershedding” — the practice of going without water, from the term loadshedding, or the practice of going without power.


The general view on this seems to be that incompetence and corruption are the underlying causes, another symptom of neglected South African infrastructure. 

Taking a wider view, it does emphasise how damaging the slow grind of endemic incompetence can be. We in the UK may moan about having to drive around numerous potholes in our roads, but this is a symptom too. Endemic incompetence took root here some time ago and voting probably won't change that.

The last major UK reservoir was built at Carsington in Derbyshire in 1991.

Far too late



Mental health culture has gone too far, says Mel Stride

Britain’s mental health culture is in danger of having “gone too far” and “normal anxieties of life” are being labelled as an illness, the Work and Pensions Secretary has warned.

Speaking as he unveiled plans to make 150,000 people signed off work with “mild” conditions look for a job, Mel Stride said that the UK’s benefits bill was being pushed up by the problem.

In an interview with The Telegraph, he suggested an increased public focus on talking about mental health had led to people effectively self-diagnosing conditions.


It's revealing when a public figure puts his or her head over the political parapet to state an opinion which has been commonplace beyond the parapet for a number of years. It indicates how tightly narratives are controlled and highlights the efforts made to suppress worthwhile public debate. 

Also revealing are scattered Conservative attempts to sound like conservatives and put some political distance between Conservative and Labour. Far too late of course, but it may sway some.  

Wednesday 20 March 2024

And they won't work from home



Rise of the robot civil servants: AI could take over more than 8 out of 10 repetitive jobs performed by government services, study claims
  • At least 120 million tasks across government have potential to be automated
  • This would save hundreds of thousands of hours of manual work by human staff
Artificial intelligence (AI) could take over more than eight in 10 repetitive jobs performed by civil servants, a study has found.

From processing passports to registering to vote, at least 120 million tasks across government have the potential to be automated.

Every minute AI helped cut per transaction would save hundreds of thousands of hours of manual work by human staff.

To tell meaningful stories



New Banksy mural defaced just days after appearing

The huge green painting on the side of a block of flats in Hornsey Road, near Finsbury Park, was first spotted on Sunday.

But photos show that just three days after it first appeared, white paint has been thrown over the mural.

Islington Council told Sky News: "In recent days, the piece has created a real buzz in the borough and beyond, and we very much want it to stay.

"This is a really powerful piece, which highlights the vital role that trees play in our communities and in tackling the climate emergency.

"Culture is a powerful way to tell meaningful stories, and we very much hope that the piece, which is still fantastic, will now be left alone for people to enjoy."


I thought that throwing paint at artworks was a radical way to tackle the climate emergency collapse crisis. A positive act in other words. Maybe it's the colour of the paint which is important, but it's so difficult to keep track of these things. 

Perhaps Banksy knows which paint colour is appropriate for tackling the climate last decade to do something catastrophe. Perhaps not.

Same theatre, same stage, same play, different actors



Echoes of Rishi Sunak in Rachel Reeves's rite of passage speech

Rachel Reeves was given the chance to follow in chancellor footsteps and outline her economic plans. But we're left wondering if there are any sizeable Labour policies after a speech that was deceptively similar to one that Rishi Sunak gave two years ago...

Perhaps the simplest accusation one can direct at Ms Reeves is that her plan sounds deceptively similar to the ones proposed by the current government.

Indeed, the three priorities from Rishi Sunak's own Mais lecture of 2022 - encouraging businesses to invest more, improving technical skills and cementing Britain's position as the most innovative economy in the world - all feature in Ms Reeves's own lecture.


Interesting that journalists don't yet care to admit that it's effectively the same party. Close but not quite there.

Who says romance is dead?



Ex-cop punched inspector he caught having sex with his wife outside Screwfix

A former police officer accused of assaulting an inspector after catching him having sex with his wife told jurors he was acting in self-defence.

Gavin Harper, 45, found Stephanie Glynn, 40, and Andrew McLullich, 42, in a Screwfix car park in Birkenhead, Merseyside, late on February 16, 2021.

Tuesday 19 March 2024

Birdbox Classics

 

The irresponsible charges of resentment



Doubtless she was posing as a martyr before all who knew anything of her story; why had she refused his money, if not that her case might seem all the harder? It were difficult to say whether he really believed this; in a nature essentially egoistic, there is often no line to be drawn between genuine convictions and the irresponsible charges of resentment.

George Gissing – Demos (1886)


A quote recalled when Barak Obama popped up at No.10.

A useful observation by Gissing which is easy to forget. We see them all the time - public figures with a strong streak of egoism. So often we see the egoism as a fault, note the dishonesty which comes with it but forget the other baggage egoism carries.

Gissing was right, egoists are damagingly irresponsible as well as dishonest. The egoism itself isn’t the only damaging aspect, it’s the irresponsible accusations prompted by setbacks or criticism. We cannot draw a line between an egoist’s convictions and their irresponsible charges of resentment. That is to say, their tendency to fire off irresponsible accusations when things aren’t going their way.

To take another prominent example, we have the spectacle of Justin Trudeau leading Canada down the totalitarian rabbit hole in response to personal political setbacks and criticism. With Trudeau there is no professionalism, no pragmatism, merely an egoist showing us yet again that there is no line to be drawn between genuine convictions and the irresponsible charges of resentment.

There are many other examples, so many that it is remarkable that we ever vote for them. Yet we have been warned about egoists over and over again. We shouldn’t vote for them but we do – which is also irresponsible.

Another EV Glitch



Jaguar I-Pace drivers can no longer charge with cheap Octopus Energy tariff due to software change

Jaguar Land Rover and Octopus Energy are under fire from I-Pace owners after removing JLR electric vehicles (EVs) from the charging app with only a few hours notice.

Over the past week 'furious' users have been taking to I-Pace Forums to share emails they've received from Octopus Energy saying their electric vehicle won't be compatible to smart charge with Intelligent Octopus Go due to JLR software changes...

Jaguar I-Pace owner Judith Dooling told us she received an email 'last Wednesday night from Octopus Energy to say that as of midnight that night I would no longer be able to charge my car [I-Pace] using the Intelligent Octopus Go app. Four hours notice.'...

After hours spent talking to JLR and Octopus 'until I am blue in the face', Judith has not been given a solution on how to get her I-Pace to charge manually.

She said: 'I have tried things suggested on the iPace forum (full of very angry customers) but again last night my car did not charge.


We'll be tootling off to the garden centre in half an hour. I haven't yet decided which car we'll use, but I don't need to check the fuel in either. Unlike the Jaguar Lo-Pace they are not messed up by sudden software changes. 

It beats me why people buy these things before the bugs, drawbacks, best buys and worst buys have become public knowledge. This takes time and so far it all looks pretty negative.  

Monday 18 March 2024

Uncultured and non-socialist pedicabs



N. Korean pedicab driver arrested in Pyongyang after protesting fine

The arrest comes amid a crackdown on pedicab drivers, whom the authorities say are making money in an "uncultured and non-socialist" fashion

“An increasing number of people have been earning money by operating refurbished pedicabs in the suburban districts of Pyongyang, which has led to a crackdown by the Pyongyang police. A man who complained about a police fine is about to be sentenced to six months of disciplinary labor,” a source in Pyongyang told Daily NK on Tuesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.


Driving a North Korean pedicab out of financial necessity sounds pretty close to disciplinary labour to me. Maybe it isn't close enough by those cultured, socialist North Korean standards. 

Two headlines



Five episodes of GB News programmes presented by Tory MPs found to have broken Ofcom rules

The channel has been warned it could face a fine or have its licence suspended if it breaks the same rules again. The watchdog said getting politicians to host news shows "risks undermining the integrity and credibility of regulated broadcast news".


Extinction Rebellion target GB News as offices covered in paint

The front of GB News's offices have been doused in paint by furious protestors who accuse the broadcaster of being an "extemist [sic] organisation". It has demanded an "end to their torrent of climate lies and disinformation".

The unavoidable conclusion



And they were soon in the midst of one of those immense and formless conversations in which a complex subject is discussed without order interminably, and without apparent result, until there comes a moment when the speakers perceive that all the ground has been many times covered and that it is no longer possible to say anything that has not already been said; and pauses occur, and the unavoidable conclusion emerges and shapes itself and imperiously demands acceptance.

Arnold Bennett - Whom God Hath Joined (1906)


There are many cases where an unavoidable conclusion emerges and shapes itself and imperiously demands acceptance. Not necessarily the right conclusion and possibly a stupid conclusion, but an unavoidable conclusion at the time. Of course it may not seem so unavoidable in the future. There are many cases of that too. 

For example, within the UK government the first unavoidable Net Zero conclusion was that it should be pursued vigorously as government policy. It may be that a second unavoidable conclusion is emerging – a conclusion that the policy cannot possibly work or affect the climate. Sceptics saw it from the beginning and in a sense this is what sceptics do, they see the second unavoidable conclusion first.

Why didn’t the government see from the beginning that Net Zero is a stupid policy and why is the stupidity yet to be acknowledged? Governments are stuffed with supposedly intelligent people who attended university, know how to say the right thing in the right circles but push forward with stupid policies.

Perhaps governments did not see the stupidity of Net Zero from the beginning because there are not enough sceptics in government. Anyone from any social class, any level of education and any walk of life can do scepticism. For governments and the elites, something anyone can do just won’t do. 

Are MPs likely to row back on Net Zero, admit it has all been premature and return to whatever works best within the constraints of markets, engineering and the laws of physics?  Are they likely to do it now,  when the stupidity is so obvious and a general election looms? Again the unavoidable conclusion emerges and shapes itself and imperiously demands acceptance - no.