Friday 31 May 2024

More on Green hopey-changey

Robert Hutton has an entertaining and interesting Critic piece on the launch of the Green Party election campaign in Bristol.

Organic snake oil salesmen

The Greens have an easy answer for any question (well, almost any question)

“Woooooaaaaah!” In Bristol, the Green Party were launching their election campaign. This involved a lot of whooping and cheering. The four candidates reckoned to be in with a shout of actually winning seats were brought on stage like contestants in a game show. Carla Denyer, Bristol Central, COME ON DOWN!

Queueing up outside, the audience had seemed a pleasant crowd of retired Bristolians, taking a morning off from looking after the grandchildren or their Senior Zumba class. As the launch began, we realised they were the other kind of pensioner, who would, had they not been yelling their hearts out at this event, have been gluing themselves to the Severn Bridge in the name of Just Stop Oil.

The whole piece is well worth reading, both for Hutton's amusing take on Green pretensions, but more seriously on their addiction to easy answers for complex problems. All political parties have that addiction, but the Greens do it in an entertainingly silly way. 

They do it in a somewhat sinister way too. People can be duped in large numbers by simple answers to complex problems. Doing it deliberately as a route to power has a sinister aspect which isn't trivial at all.

Outside the event, there were boxes and boxes of leaflets for activists to deliver around the constituency, bundled up by street. Oddly, these were rather lighter on the hopey-changey message. Indeed there was nothing at all about carbon reduction, cycle lanes, or even the NHS. “An Important Letter To Bristol On Gaza”, it was headlined, in the colours of the Palestinian flag. “It has been just six months since Keir Starmer ordered his MPs not to vote for a ceasefire,” it began. It was probably an oversight that this subject, on which the party is campaigning so hard locally, didn’t feature in the speeches for the TV cameras.

But there was no opportunity to interrogate any of this, because it turned out the Green Party wasn’t taking questions. This is always the best way to make sure the answers are easy.


Greens launch general election campaign promising 'real hope and real change' in bid to woo disillusioned Labour voters

Co-leaders Carla Denyer and Adrian Ramsay asked voters to elect at least four of its candidates to parliament, arguing it will keep pressure on Labour to be more "ambitious" and less "timid" if it forms the next government.

The Green Party has accused Labour of failing to offer "the real change" voters need as it launched its general election campaign in Bristol.

There is something fascinating about the Greens and it isn't easy to work out what it is. It comes across as the velvet glove of green fantasy and the iron fist of totalitarian politics in a slow political gestation phase. 

Perhaps it's the slowness of the gestation phase, it appears to be sending them mad. Which of course is fascinating. Political madness is fascinating from a distance.

I can imagine chatting with non-fanatical supporters of the Conservative, Labour or Lib Dem parties, but not with a supporter of the Green party. They seem to rule out the non-fanatical aspect and that's essential for civilised conversation over coffee.


The other day found me chatting about AI developments with my mate Dr Baz Broxtowe of Fradley University. We met up at a service area on the M1 motorway because Dr Baz was on his way to an artificial intelligence conference up north somewhere.

It was noisy because lots of kids were obviously off school for half-term or something, but we found a table where Dr Baz was able to outline some recent AI developments in the political field.

“As you probably know, it’s all about language,” said Dr Baz when I finally managed to grab a couple of coffees and work my way back to the table without scalding one of the kids rushing around the place.

“AI systems are essentially Large Language Models or LLMs,” he continued, somehow managing to raise his voice over a nearby argument about doughnuts. “They use complex mathematical algorithms to learn appropriate linguistic responses by being trained on vast inputs of language already in use.”

“Okay I get that,” I replied, “apart from the maths and computing involved I can see how it works in a very, very general sense.”

“In that case you will understand why political parties are interested in it,” Dr Baz continued.

“Boost the apparent intellectual quality of their candidates?”

“Essentially yes. They are interested in the possibility of a kind of dynamic autocue where an AI system is able to formulate responses dynamically even when picking up verbal questions from a live audience. These responses would be piped to the candidate through an autocue.”

“What about when they are out and about canvassing and so on?”

“This is the interesting aspect, the AI system would pick up, say a journalist’s question or maybe a question from the public and it would pipe a response into the candidates earpiece.”

“To a lay person that sounds tricky,” I replied.

“It is tricky, and that’s why the Greens have gone for a different approach.”

“How different?”

“Instead of AI based on a Large Language Model, they have gone for a Small Language Model or SLM as we call it. As they say much the same thing to any question, the Greens think an SLM will do well enough. Really it’s just a collection of what we call eco-phrases, but they seem happy with it.”


“It is, isn’t it?” Dr Baz replied as he sipped his coffee.

Thursday 30 May 2024

Democracy has been... whatever

Corbyn declares ‘democracy has been denied’ as he launches independent election campaign

Jeremy Corbyn declared “democracy has been denied” as he launched his campaign to be re-elected as the independent MP for Islington North on Wednesday night (29 May).

The former Labour leader was suspended by the party in 2020 for refusing to fully accept the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s findings that the party broke equality law when he was in charge.

“Islington North Labour members were denied any vote to decide who their MP is or who their candidate is,” Mr Corbyn said, before revealing that he had sent a message of support to Diane Abbott amid uncertainty over whether she will be able to stand as a candidate for Labour.

It is obviously futile to wave around a political cliché such as ‘democracy has been denied’. We may as well respond with 'democracy has been vindicated' before nipping off for a coffee.

Corbyn has always been part of the problem with UK democracy. Whatever democracy might be, Corbyn hasn't added lustre to it over the decades. From the beginning he attached himself to a party which kept the two party rotational system going to the detriment of voting options. In spite of his known frugality, he has benefitted personally from this system over many years.

What we could say is that Corbyn has at least highlighted a problem with UK democracy - it attracts charlatans and the party system tends to find charlatans more useful than people of integrity. Charlatans deliver the message. 

Although he has spent his political life draping himself with the mantle of inflexible integrity, Corbyn is a charlatan, the political nostrums he sells never cured anything. If democracy has been denied, then he was part of that denial.

Herding the rabble

Labour’s candidate uncertainty overshadows campaign as Starmer accused of purge

Questions about whether Diane Abbott will be barred from standing again remain as the party suspended one candidate and declined to endorse another...

Meanwhile, Lloyd Russell-Moyle, who was MP for Brighton Kemptown, said he has been suspended by Labour over what he called a “vexatious and politically motivated complaint” against him, and that he cannot stand under the Labour banner at the election.

And the PA news agency understands that Faiza Shaheen has not been endorsed to be the Labour candidate for Chingford & Woodford Green in north-east London after she allegedly liked a series of posts on X that downplayed antisemitism accusations.

All three are on the left of the party.

It isn't easy to work out what the political left v right nonsense is supposed to signify, but it seems important to Starmer's lot, especially those hoping for a ministerial car, nice office and some congenial international travel. 

Meanwhile, the nutters, freaks, charlatans, race-grifters, spite-peddlers and imbeciles are fine as long as they loudly support the leadership or join one of the internal factions.

It's a minute nano-consolation, but perhaps it's just as well we have a permanent administration. Doomed we may be, but there are levels of doom even now.

Every little helps


Wednesday 29 May 2024

Sherlock knew


We must look for consistency. Where there is a want of it we must suspect deception.

 Sherlock Holmes

The Allenton Hippo

Following on from the previous post about uncertainty, there is in the Derby Museum a large glass case containing the partial skeleton of a hippopotamus found in Allenton in 1895 when Allenton was a village near Derby.

The Allenton hippo and other animal remains from Boulton Moor all originated from a feature known as the Allenton Terrace – a deposit of river gravels some 6 metres (20 ft) above the level of the modern River Derwent. The deposits have been dated to the Ipswichian Interglacial, approximately 120,000 years ago. The presence of a hippopotamus indicates that the climate was warmer than today. The winters would have no prolonged periods of frost and the average summer temperature would have been above 18 °C

We might expect that such an interesting exhibit would trigger Net Zero doubts in everyone who sees it. The hippo skeleton suggests rather strongly that 120,000 years ago Allenton was significantly warmer than it is now. The Net Zero uncertainty is so obvious, even an MP could spot it. Not Ed Davey perhaps, but most many some MPs.

Access to Uncertainty

It is often pointed out that a notable feature of the internet is that it makes worthwhile ideas more accessible. We could even go on from that to say the internet makes veracity more democratic which is why elites are not keen on it. Not that veracity was inaccessible before the internet, but now it is very much more accessible and much quicker and cheaper to access.

Yet is can be equally interesting to approach this from another angle and recall how the internet has also made uncertainty much more accessible. When we are told that an official policy or assertion is solidly backed by “the science”, it is often easy enough to check the veracity of the claim. Too often it turns out that “the science” is much more uncertain than the official line claims. Identify uncertainty and we often identify lying by omission.

In a world where lying by omission is not at all uncommon, access to uncertainty is often the first step in discrediting a lie. If the claim has unacknowledged uncertainties then there may be no need to take it further. It may not be necessary to promote an alternative version because unacknowledged uncertainty may be sufficient to identify the lie as a lie.

This enhanced access to uncertainty can counter fact-checker claims too. Facts themselves may not be uncertain, but the use to which they are put may weave uncertainties into the overall claim. Uncertainty may be enough to identify the fact-checking as irrelevant or another example of lying by omission.

The point to be made is that access to uncertainty is often a more powerful defence against misinformation than a search for concrete veracity. As ever, a good example is the orthodox climate change narrative where supposedly settled science is riddled with uncertainties and worse.

For example, numerous confident climate predictions have failed to occur as predicted. From the loss of Arctic sea ice in summer to rising sea levels to mass starvation to a whole series of tipping points, predictive failure is commonplace. This is where the power of accessible uncertainty lies, in the simple observation of failed predictions. Lies are exposed by uncertainties.

Tuesday 28 May 2024

A cosmic playwright

About this time much interest was aroused in what has been called the "woman question." The famous Norwegian male blue-stocking had written a play on the subject, and all feeble minds were obsessed by a perfect mania of finding oppressed women everywhere.

August Strindberg - The Confession of a Fool (1893)

It is still mildly surprising to be reminded of a cultural fad which is not a fad at all, but much older than a fad ought to be. A chap could easily go on to imagine that somewhere out there in the mysterious depths of the Unknown there is a cosmic playwright recycling old plays for us to perform.

Old plays with new titles perhaps, but old plots, old characters with new names and plenty of cheaply updated scenery. Apart from that it’s the same old plays where even the script is merely an updated version of the original.


Lib Dem leader Ed Davey falls into Lake Windemere as he makes 'serious message' about sewage

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey took a dive into Lake Windermere while paddleboarding as he outlined his party’s plan to tackle the sewage crisis.

Local Lib Dem candidate Tim Farron joined his party leader at Low Wood Bay Watersports Centre where the pair had mixed success, being pictured taking multiple plunges.

During his visit to the Lake District, Sir Ed said local environmental experts should be represented on water companies’ boards to ensure sewage spills are taken seriously, as he accused Conservative ministers of “sitting on their hands”.

More people = More sewage.

It's been a well-known relationship for centuries, but "Sir" Ed will know that. He's just talking Lib Dem politics, or verbal sewage as we sometimes call it when being polite. 


More than 120 business leaders back Labour 'to achieve UK's full economic potential'

Senior figures, including chef Tom Kerridge and former CEOs of Heathrow, JP Morgan and Aston Martin, said the party had "shown it has changed and wants to work with business to achieve the UK's full economic potential".

They said the public should now "give it the chance to change the country and lead Britain into the future".

Starmer's lot endorsed by a cook eh? Gosh - that's me convinced.


His desolate household, his whole wounded life, choked him at the throat like a death agony. Things were not all for the best because one had bread. Who was the fool who placed earthly happiness in the partition of wealth? These revolutionary dreamers might demolish society and rebuilt another society; they would not add one joy to humanity, they would not take away one pain, by cutting bread-and-butter for everybody. They would even enlarge the unhappiness of the earth; they would one day make the very dogs howl with despair when they had taken them out of the tranquil satisfaction of instinct, to raise them to the unappeasable suffering of passion.

Emile Zola – Germinal (1885)

We see this all the time, corrupt political rhetoric attracting useful idiots and their idiot demands which cannot be appeased.  A few optimistic persons try to circumvent the unappeasable roadblocks left across the arena of public debate, so good for them, it's a public service.

But all we have to tackle it politically is a useless vote. 

And “Sir” Keir Starmer.

And Angela Rayner.

And the BBC.


Monday 27 May 2024

Struggle session

Sir Keir Starmer 'angry' at public's stories of hardship - as he says he knows what it's like to 'struggle'

The Labour leader says it is "disrespectful" of Rishi Sunak to say the economy has "turned a corner" when people are struggling with the cost of living.

Sir Keir Starmer has said he feels "angry" and "emotional" at the some of the stories he is hearing on the campaign trail - because he too knows what it is like to "struggle".

Gosh - I too know what it is like to "struggle", especially when I try to work out which major party has finally "turned a corner" and become less "disrespectful" to voters by presenting them with rational policies. 

I too feel "angry"* when contemplating the rabble "Sir" Keir wishes us to "vote" for.  

* A slight exaggeration.  

Nanny is watching

Iconic cheese-rolling event to go ahead today despite warning over 'mass casualties'

Gloucestershire's iconic cheese-rolling event will go ahead today, despite warnings of 'mass casualties' as hundreds of contestants hurl themselves down a 180m hill to catch a block of cheese...

The Safety Advisory Group said it was willing to assist organisers with the right documentation and insurance in place. Tewkesbury Borough Council said: “We would like to see evidence of safety documentation and risk-assessment processes.”

It leaves a chap wondering what kind of person would demand evidence of safety documentation and risk-assessment processes for an event like this. They won't give up though, they will be back next year and nobody will be surprised if the event is eventually squeezed into oblivion. 

A move in the game

General Election 2024: Sunak 'to double down on National Service plan' as Tories and Labour focus on security

The prime minister is reportedly planning to urge employers to prioritise applications from those who have served in the military. Labour are focusing on security as the "bedrock" of their manifesto...

Security will also be the focus of the day for Labour, with Sir Keir Starmer expected to say in a keynote speech "economic security, border security, and national security" will form the "bedrock" of the party manifesto.

Finally we have an interesting move in the game. Not interesting in the sense of offering a whiff of sound political oversight, that ship sailed long ago, but as a move in the game it's interesting. Crude, sleazy and blatantly opportunistic - but interesting - as a move.

Nobody in their wildest dreams thinks of "Sir" Keir Starmer as having the remotest interest or capability when it comes to national defence. We already know he'd hand everything over to the EU if he could. Then take a glance at the rabble from which he'll choose his ministers. Begin with Rayner, Lammy, Dodds and Miliband - a horrible basis for waffling about national defence.

Nobody thinks thinks of  Rishi Sunak as having the remotest interest in national defence either, but he made the move first. Which makes it interesting, because in this game, the national defence game, other moves suggest themselves almost automatically. For now it's interesting. 

Sunday 26 May 2024

Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia


Refusal to mention me makes this election dishonest

Refusal to mention EU makes this election most dishonest in modern times, warns Heseltine

Lord Heseltine has warned that the 2024 general election campaign “will be the most dishonest in modern times” because of the refusal of the main parties to debate the consequences of Brexit.

The former deputy prime minister, who fell out with the Conservatives over leaving the European Union, has written exclusively for The Independent explaining how the big issues in this general election – the economy, immigration and defence – all need to be debated in the context of the UK’s relationship with the EU.

It's nearly eight years since the EU Referendum and Michael Ray Dibdin Heseltine is now 91. It is surely time for him to let go of his obsessive but ineffective support for an obsessive and clearly ineffective institution.

It's the same game

A section of transcript from yesterday's video - 

6:30 When you have a reporter brimming with ambition (the same ruthless ambition that actors, singers, comedians and other media stars have), the most important thing is their career. Everything else, including the truth, is subordinate to that. 

 Sometimes there is a happy coincidence: the reporter boosts his career by breaking some amazing truth. But given a choice between the two, career usually wins. Such is the nature of the ambition of many in the media.

Many major politicians become a type of media celebrity in their own right and it is worth viewing them in that light - as ambitious celebrities. It explains a good deal about their behaviour, especially their marked lack of interest in veracity. 

To hold their own with reporters, actors, singers and comedians, major politicians must be brimming with ambition too. They must do as other celebrities do, discard inconvenient veracity as they discard it, put their career first and play the Great Game to win. In an important sense, it's the same game.  

An obligation of infinite reach

Henceforth, if he is born an elector, he is born a conscript; he has contracted an obligation of a new species and of infinite reach; the State, which formerly had a claim only on his possessions, now has one on his entire body; never does a creditor let his claims rest and the State always finds reasons or pretexts to enforce its claims.

Hippolyte Taine - The Modern Regime (1893)

Saturday 25 May 2024

How the news lies


Green Shield Stamps

While wandering through an antiques centre today, I spotted a book of Green Shield Stamps. It brought back a few memories because they managed to become a significant part of our shopping lives for a while.

As I remember it, the whole thing eventually became rather tedious because of offers such as "quad stamps" at filling stations. We'd end up with reams of the things every time we filled up with petrol, then we had to stick them into little books like the one I saw. Once we'd filled enough books we'd go to the Green Shield store in Derby to exchange them for something we didn't really want.

Green Shield Stamps was a British sales promotion scheme that rewarded shoppers with stamps that could be used to buy gifts from a catalogue or from any affiliated retailer. The scheme was introduced in 1958 by Richard Tompkins, who had noticed the success of the long-established Sperry & Hutchinson Green Stamps in America.

The Original Klingon

Jeremy Corbyn kicked out of Labour after standing as independent in Islington North

Jeremy Corbyn was on Friday stripped of his Labour membership as he confirmed that he will stand as an independent candidate against the party he used to lead.

The veteran MP launched his general election campaign for Islington North.

Announcing his decision in the local newspaper, he said: “I am here to represent the people of Islington North on exactly the same principles that I’ve stood by my whole life: social justice, human rights and peace.”

In response Labour rushed through its selection process and announced Praful Nargund as its candidate for the seat.

I didn't realise he was still a member - or rather I've always known he's a bit of a member but didn't realise he was still a member of the Labour lot.

At least we have some interest seeping into the election - how many votes will Jeremy receive? No votes at all I hope, but then the Labour stooge will win so I also hope that Jeremy attracts a huge pile of votes to embarrass "Sir" Keir.

Two hopes for the price of one - what a bargain.

Friday 24 May 2024

Coyote Alert


From Bill R

Let the telly decide

Sir Keir Starmer brands Rishi Sunak 'desperate' and says 'of course there will be TV debates'

In an interview with Sky News, The Labour leader also defended his policy U-turns, saying they are the "practical reality of Tory damage to the economy".

Sir Keir Starmer has accused Rishi Sunak of "sounding a bit desperate" after the prime minister accused him of "chickening out" of TV debates.

Useful for spying on the first one

North Korea appears to be preparing to launch its 2nd spy satellite, South Korean military says

North Korea appears to be preparing to launch its second military spy satellite into space, South Korea’s military said Friday, as animosities remain high over the North’s continued weapons tests.

Last November, North Korea placed its first military reconnaissance satellite into orbit as part of its efforts to build a space-based surveillance network to deal with what it calls U.S.-led military threats. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un later told a key governing party meeting that his country would launch three additional military spy satellites in 2024.

Drawing back the curtain

There are many aspects to a sceptical outlook. A situation may be perceived as criminal, crooked, stupid, mistaken, foolish, a result of bias, irrelevant, manipulated, wrong but understandable and so on.

The sceptical aim is to draw back a metaphorical curtain on these aspects, but there is one aspect where drawing back the curtain has problems of its own and that is what we could describe and often should describe as silliness.

A situation may be stupid, misguided or idiotic but it may also be silly or the result of silliness. But then the people endorsing the situation would have to be silly and that would in turn imply a certain degree of childishness. Even hard-nosed scepticism can become uncomfortable when presented with adult silliness, but it is real.

In almost all of us there is a hint of the child we were, a fleeting love of the ridiculous however dominating our adult demeanour might be. However, we have to speak of an infantilised culture every now and then because there is certainly an infantile aspect to the culture of the developed world.

If there is a weak adult ability to handle cause and effect or evidence of absurdity or a streak of the ridiculous in the adult world, then we don’t mind drawing back the metaphorical curtain on that. A problem arises if the inability or unwillingness to handle cause and effect is so pronounced that certain degree of silliness becomes too obvious. Even sceptics are not so keen to draw back the curtain on adult silliness and describe it as silliness.

An example of the problem is the current UK electoral contest between the two main political parties. Draw back the curtain on that and it has an unmistakable aspect of an absurdity which has gone much too far, well into the realms of silliness. 

It not so much that voting for either main party has become silly, but the conduct of the debate has an element of infantile posturing which is too pronounced. There is a too obvious, too theatrical, too infantile determination to avoid the adult world of responsible language and cause and effect.

Draw back the curtain and the silliness of Sunak v Starmer is unmistakable.

Thursday 23 May 2024

Thick covert lines

Party battle lines drawn up as general election date set for 4 July

It comes after the prime minister announced in the pouring rain, outside 10 Downing Street, the country was going to the polls.

Yes indeed, lots of lines out there, mostly circular.

The incumbent parties have drawn thick covert lines around policies and issues you can't vote against, laws and regulations you can't vote to have repealed, Quangos you can't vote get rid of, an NHS you can't vote to replace, a BBC you can't vote to privatise, state education where you can't vote for more parental choice, taxes you can't vote to reduce....

A bitterly uninteresting contest

As everyone knows by now, the UK general election is to be held on July 4th, so it may be worth having a brief look at the main protagonists, the most formidable political actors on the stage – Rishi Starmer and Keir Sunak.

What can we expect from these two political heavyweights over the coming weeks? Well to begin with it is worth adding that each man is likely to be assisted by former prime ministers David Blair and Tony Cameron, so there is to be no lack of political experience.

As this is an initial toe in the water post, suppose we look at an optimistic scenario compared to a more pessimistic scenario.

Both major parties crash and burn.

One major party crashes and burns.

Prophet of Doom.
Neither major party crashes and burns.

So, a stark contrast from the beginning, optimist versus pessimist versus prophet of doom. Expect a bitterly uninteresting contest.

Living without electricity

A very interesting link from commenter microdave. It's a document called "Living without electricity", a detailed report on the the effects of Storm Desmond on Lancaster in 2015.


Over the first weekend in December 2015, Storm Desmond brought unprecedented flooding to North Lancashire and Cumbria, including to parts of central Lancaster. At 10.45pm on Saturday, 5 December, electricity supplies to 61,000 properties in the city were cut. Electricity was progressively restored from 4.30am on Monday but was cut again to most areas at 4pm that evening. 75 large diesel generators were brought into the city and connected to local substations which allowed restoration of supplies over the next few days. By Friday, 11 December, the situation was back to normal...

The loss of power quickly affected many other services that people take for granted. Most mobile phone coverage was lost within an hour; although most landline phone services were available, many people who had replaced their traditional handsets with cordless phones were unable to connect. The internet was lost over most of Lancaster and, even where it was available in the street, electricity was not available to supply domestic routers and Wi-Fi hubs. Electronic payment systems were unavailable and most ATM machines did not work. The local TV booster station lost power, which also affected digital radio (DAB) services...

Mobile phone systems did not hold up. On most networks, the base station (the transmitter that provides the radio signal to communicate with phones in that area) is powered from the local 230V electricity supply. Some have a battery back-up that continues to provide a service for an hour or two but few, if any, cope with the 30-hour loss or supply experienced over much of Lancaster. Inevitably, the loss of a mobile signal resulted in the inability to send or receive text messages or to use 3G and 4G internet services.

Wednesday 22 May 2024

Thanks but we've already taken care of that

As we know, there is a certain amount of media attention currently being devoted to the government emergency preparedness website apparently aimed at promoting anxiety in the general population. Coincidentally, shortly before a general election.

We made our preparations some time ago because of Net Zero and the swarms of dolts who have yet to work out that it isn't going to work. 

Put together an emergency kit of items at home

This could include:

  • Battery or wind-up torch – torches are safer than candles.
  • Portable power bank for charging your mobile phone.
  • Battery or wind-up radio to get updates during a power cut – a car radio can be used, however in severe weather it might be safer to stay inside.
  • Spare batteries for torches and radio and a backup battery for any medical equipment you rely on.
  • A first aid kit (or some first aid items) including items such as waterproof plasters, bandages, a thermometer, antiseptic, eyewash solution, sterile dressings and gloves, medical tape for dressings, and tweezers.
  • Hand sanitiser and wet wipes for hygiene purposes when the water is off.
  • Bottled water – there is no standard figure for this as emergencies can vary in duration and people use different amounts. A minimum of 2.5-3 litres of drinking water per person per day is recommended by the World Health Organisation for survival. 10 litres per person per day will make you more comfortable by also providing for basic cooking and hygiene needs. Additional water might be needed to make up baby formula, for medical devices and for pets.
  • Non-perishable food that doesn’t need cooking, such as ready-to-eat tinned meat, fruit or vegetables (and a tin opener). As with water, how much you need will vary based on your own circumstances. Don’t forget food for pets.

Squirrel v Slinky

I've added a Slinky to the pole of our bird feeder after watching one of the athletic little blighters reach the seeds by stretching to its full length and hanging upside down by its feet off a feeder support arm. 

Our set up is very similar to that shown in the video, but Mrs H and I won't fall over in astonishment if the squirrel masters it.

Strolling around

Meghan and Harry LIVE: Duchess 'in tears' after facing 'unfair criticism' over career move

Meghan Markle is "in tears" over the "unfair criticism" of her new lifestyle brand, American Riviera Orchard, it has been claimed.

The Duchess of Sussex unveiled her latest business venture in March, initially intriguing fans with scant details about the brand. In a tantalising video filmed at her and Prince Harry's Montecito mansion, Meghan was seen cooking in the kitchen and strolling around their opulent family home grounds.

"And however that may be, my dear girl, you must think, you must realize how unclean, how immoral this idle life of yours is," Sasha went on. "Do understand that if, for instance, you and your mother and your grandmother do nothing, it means that someone else is working for you, you are eating up someone else's life, and is that clean, isn't it filthy?"

Nadya wanted to say "Yes, that is true"; she wanted to say that she understood, but tears came into her eyes, her spirits drooped, and shrinking into herself she went off to her room.

Anton Chekhov – Betrothed (1903)

Their lot urge, our lot nudge

Iranians 'urged to mourn' president as funeral events begin

Anti-government protesters in Iran have told Sky News they have received calls from officials urging them to attend mourning events for late president Ebrahim Raisi.

The activists, who did not want to be named, said authorities were "desperate" for public displays of sadness following the leader's death in a helicopter crash on Sunday.

The man of purpose

The man of purpose does not understand, and goes on, full of contempt. He never loses his way. He knows where he is going and what he wants. Travelling on, he achieves great length without any breadth, and battered, besmirched, and weary, he touches the goal at last; he grasps the reward of his perseverance, of his virtue, of his healthy optimism: an untruthful tombstone over a dark and soon forgotten grave.

Joseph Conrad – An Outcast of the Islands (1896)

Who is the man of purpose today, the one destined to achieve little more than an untruthful tombstone over a dark and soon forgotten grave? Rishi Sunak, Keir Starmer, Ed Davey or one of a thousand others? The men of purpose perhaps we should say, and women. A multitude.

It’s a reminder of what the Nudge Unit does for political men and women of purpose. It diverts the desire to understand what they are up to by promoting paths of least resistance for ordinary folk. Not a new political strategy of course, this game has been going on since the death of Socrates and probably long before that.

There is always, throughout history, a persistent official campaign against ordinary folk freely understanding whatever they wish to understand. A campaign which is especially virulent today when it comes to understanding what went wrong with our culture. Especially virulent when it comes to officially suppressed matters of fact. Virulently absurd when it comes to the free expression of common sense such as...

…well it’s quite a list.

Tuesday 21 May 2024


 From the video description -

In 2018, Joe Biden bragged about using US taxpayer dollars to get Ukrainian prosecutor Viktor Shokin fired. Shokin said he was fired because he was investigating Burisma, which had given Hunter Biden millions of dollars.

Expert warns - again

Expert warns Sweden on 'brink of civil war' as country gripped by migrant violence

Sweden is bordering on "civil war" as the country has become gripped by migrant violence, according to a leading expert.

Göran Adamson, a Senior Lecturer in Sociology at Uppsala University, told that his country was becoming a "capital of violence" - partly due to a wave of suspected criminals moving there.

According to official figures from the Swedish National Council for Crime Prevention (Brå), the number of fatalities a year per million from gun violence is more than double the European average.

From the outside it does seem as if "partly due" is an understatement and we did not require experts to see this coming some time ago. It isn't my place to say so, but I wouldn't wait for experts to tell me what the solution might be.

A hugely significant milestone

New semiconductor institute to oversee UK computer chip sector

An independent institute to oversee national strategy on expanding the UK’s semiconductor industry is to be created, the Government has announced.

The UK Semiconductor Institute will bring together the Government, university researchers and the private sector to oversee growth in the computer chip sector, the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT) said...

Currently, production in the sector is dominated by Taiwan, but last year the Government launched a one billion-pound strategy to boost UK innovation.

This is a hugely significant milestone on our journey to becoming a science and tech superpower by 2030

"Sir" Keir Starmer will be cross, this sounds like just the kind of idea Labour would come up with. A national innovation strategy with lots of plans and visits to pleasantly interesting places where innovation can be studied and lessons learned.

However - instead of a boring title such as the UK Semiconductor Institute which already sounds like a dull old buffers' watering hole, it could be called the Hypersonic Strategy 2, or HS2 as a snappy acronym. 

Problem Part 2

The blog post editing problem referred to yesterday still hasn't been fixed, so rather than fiddle around with approaches such as HTML, I'll change the way online media quotes are highlighted. Instead of a red text colour I'll just put online media quotes in bold while quotes from books I've read will still be in italics.

Monday 20 May 2024


There is a problem formatting certain blog posts. It seems to be platform wide and has been reported.  There may be some blogging limitations until then.

That power of living in the present time

“I’m not sure that it is faith that enables them to promenade the state sword about. It seems to me more that power of living in the present time which most people possess to such an extraordinary degree.”

George Moore - A Drama In Muslin (1886)

An interesting quote because there are some people who in one way or another are aware of the past and how we arrived at the present time. Hazy and hugely incomplete awareness, but awareness all the same. Older people have that awareness imposed upon them, an effect which is multiplied if they are also interested in more distant times.

Today we see it all the time - that power of living in the present time which most people possess to such an extraordinary degree. It tends to hide the inadequacies of our times, even major inadequacies. Don’t peer down the memory hole it says, it will do you no good.

Sunday 19 May 2024

Completely predictable


He was not a rascal by predilection

Keene eyed her with observation. He himself had slight depth for a man doomed to live by his wits, and he was under the disadvantage of really feeling something of what he said. He was not a rascal by predilection; merely driven that way by the forces which in our social state abundantly make for rascality.

George Gissing – Demos (1886)

It is probably necessary to take a fragmented view of our dire cultural situation and describe it in a number of ways, from the malign schemes of political fanatics the failings of abject stupidity. The overall problem seems to stretch from one end of this spectrum to the other and all points in between, including important offshoots such as racketeering.

Clearly Net Zero is at least stupid and malign, but there is also a curiously petty aspect attached to it, more parasitic than responsible. Virtue-signalling is abundantly evident as we know, but much of it is petty eco-etiquette where saying the right thing is far more important than doing anything significant.

There is also degree of rascality about eco-etiquette which complicates any effort to untangle motives behind projects such as Net Zero. Malign motives are clear enough, but some dilettante political actors are only prancing around on a bandwagon without any great interest in using it as anything but a bandwagon.

No, the men whom we honour are merely rascals who have had the good fortune not to be caught red-handed.

Stendhal - The Red and the Black (1830)


Labour sets out more detail on pledge to cut NHS waiting lists

Hospitals would be expected to pool staff and share waiting lists as part of a Labour drive to deliver an extra 40,000 NHS appointments a week.

Under the plans, hospitals will run evening and weekend surgeries, with staff and resources pooled across a region.

Pooling sounds like some kind of punishment regime for recalcitrant staff, but probably refers to an NHS vapourware scheme which won't survive the election. 

It probably won't even survive "Sir" Keir Starmer's next opportunity to kneel before another progressive totem. With all that kneeling, his political trousers must take some punishment, but we won't go into that.

Saturday 18 May 2024

Blow that whistle

NHS staff must be able to blow whistle, Health Secretary says

NHS staff must be able to blow the whistle and the health service must listen and act, Health Secretary Victoria Atkins has said.

“It cannot be right that NHS management spends millions of pounds fighting doctors who have concerns over patients’ safety,” she wrote in the Telegraph, referring to an investigation by the newspaper published this week.

“I will never put protecting reputations ahead of protecting patient safety. Every concern should be investigated, and every staff member should be free to raise them without fear of recrimination or damaging their career,” she wrote.

Worthless electioneering by current but not for long Health Secretary Victoria Atkins, but we know that. 

Patients and the relatives of patients have been blowing hard on those whistles for a while. From the patient's anecdotal perspective of course, but the whistling chorus hasn't changed for years.

How about MPs blowing a few whistles on the permanent administration and their tame experts? Lots of scope there.


Drove back from our Norfolk holiday yesterday, there and back on a tank of diesel. We’ve done 340 miles since filling up before the holiday and still have enough range to nip down to the south coast if we wish.

Tootled off to a local shopping centre this morning and as usual there was a row of electric cars being recharged. It’s our Net Zero future apparently.

Oh well - I’ll probably top up the diesel later this week, maybe drop into the Tesco filling station after a school run. It’s not urgent.

Friday 17 May 2024

Not since 1983

Jeremy Corbyn not fit to be Labour candidate at election, Rachel Reeves says

Rachel Reeves has ruled out making former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn a candidate for the party following its antisemitism row.

The Shadow Chancellor said the Islington North MP, who sits in the Commons as an Independent, is not fit to stand as a Labour candidate.

Rachel Reeves seems to have forgotten that the only thing that changes about Jeremy Corbyn is the colour of his beard. He has never been a fit person to be an MP since first being elected in 1983. It is still possible to boggle the mind by recalling that he was once Labour leader. 

As a bonus boggle it is also worth recalling that in 2019 Keir Starmer said -

‘I do think Jeremy Corbyn would make a great Prime Minister’.

The damage being done to trust


Thursday 16 May 2024

Gosh she is a wag

A characteristic of our times is the exhortation for people to be themselves without specifying what that could possibly mean –
  • Be yourself
  • Be who you really are
  • Find your true self

Theresa May has obviously taken these mantras seriously - she thinks she's a bit of a wag.

Theresa May pokes fun at successors but praises Rishi Sunak - and issues warning over populism in politics

Giving a speech to reporters at an event in parliament, she spoke about her recent book tour, joking it was interesting to see how rival political titles would be categorised in bookshops.

"Liz Truss's 10 Years To Save The West?" she quipped. "Well, given Liz's reputation and record, maybe it should be 10 days to save Britain.

"That one probably goes under sci-fi and fantasy."

And how about Boris Johnson's upcoming memoir? "That will undoubtedly be shelved under 'current affairs'," she joked.

Poor old Theresa thinks populism isn't dull enough to be quite nice or even safe, but gosh she is a wag.

Neopalpa donaldtrumpi and others

Steven Tucker has an entertaining Mercator piece on the current fashion for renaming anything with an existing name which doesn't accord with woke dogma. Entertaining because it highlights yet again how silly educated people can be.

Perhaps we were better off when imbeciles were not usually shoved as far as possible through the education mill to see what comes out the other end.

Transgender trilobites: woke taxonomy at work

It emerged in late April that residents of Trump Plaza, a 40-storey skyscraper in the New York suburb of New Rochelle, had a real problem with their address: it was named after Donald Trump. As Trump is considered by all right-thinking American voters to be The Most Evil Man Who Has Ever Lived, some tower-dwellers think association with his name is pushing the potential value of their property down. They are organising a vote to see whether the building should be renamed after someone less controversial – Genghis Khan, Sauron, Darth Vader, Humbert Humbert or Heinrich Himmler, perhaps.

For certain people in New Rochelle, simply having to walk past a building sharing the name of such a notorious racist as Mr Trump, described by one local as being “the Devil himself”, was an act of violence against their very being. Still, the process of renaming a building is a fairly simple legal procedure.

How on earth would such easily offended, over-sensitive souls go about renaming an animal which had been named after The Donald?

There is just such a creature, Neopalpa donaldtrumpi, an endangered species of Californian moth. It was named after Trump because of its unusual orange “hairstyle” (actually head-scales) and “unique genitalia”. The entomologist who named the moth in 2017 hoped it would encourage the then-new President to enact various national conservation measures. In fact his act was more likely to encourage Trump’s foes to head out into the Californian scrub in search of the poor creatures armed with insect-spray and rolled-up newspapers.

The whole piece is well worth reading, partly because it is entertaining and partly because it supplies another strand of evidence that human evolution could be going backwards.

Whilst personally I find it amusing rather than offensive that there is an insect named after Adolf Hitler, there can be no doubt that many flora and fauna have been christened after historical figures of less than stellar moral repute. There is a Lenin’s ichthyosaur (a prehistoric marine reptile), a Mussolini moth (found in Libya, which Il Duce once invaded), and even an O.J. Simpson’s Gazelle, so named for its effortless ability to outrun the police.

Wednesday 15 May 2024

Hedging (1942)


Paula Vennells told to not allow ‘malcontents’ to pollute public service mission

Former Post Office chief executive Paula Vennells was briefed to not allow the “self-indulgence of a number of malcontents” to “pollute our public service mission” ahead of a meeting with MPs.

The Horizon IT inquiry heard that the company’s current government affairs and policy director Patrick Bourke believed the potential unsafe convictions of subpostmasters “pales into insignificance to the bigger, social, mission of the Post Office”.

Mr Bourke, who appeared remotely at the probe on Wednesday, said he regretted using the “florid language” and that it was “born of a sense of frustration”, which he used during his time as programme manager for what was known as the mediation scheme.

The inquiry was shown the briefing note, which was prepared by Mr Bourke for Ms Vennells ahead of a meeting with a group of MPs following a telephone call with Lord Arbuthnot in October 2014.

Remarkably obtuse language, it reminds me of Hillary Clinton's "basket of deplorables" comment. 

What could anyone else do to “pollute our public service mission” even further? Orchestrate a grossly repressive and ludicrously costly over-reaction to a pandemic? I suppose malcontents might say so.

When bureaucrats tackle a problem...

Cycling junction so ‘confusing’ council bosses make guide on how to use it

A cycling road junction in Cambridge is so confusing that council bosses have made a video guide explaining how to use it.

The junction, where the city’s Histon Road meets Gilbert Road and Warwick Road, is based on Dutch intersections where there are far more cyclists than in the UK.

So baffling to some is the layout that the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP), made up of the local councils covering the area, has now uploaded a video explainer to YouTube ahead of a similar junction being created nearby.

The “Cycling Optimised Protected Signals” (Cyclops) junction includes four pedestrian islands, four miniature zebra crossings and eight sets of traffic lights for cyclists and pedestrians. The arrangement creates a circular path for cyclists around a crossroads for cars.

It was installed as part of a £24 million road upgrade project which was supposed to make the area safer for pedestrians, cyclists and drivers alike by separating them from one another.

Let us hope that cyclists are not tempted to watch the video while cycling. They could hit a pothole.

On a more sombre note, this is yet another glimpse into the deranged world of bureaucracy in permanent pursuit of their perfect world. Fanatically detailed control over every aspect of life and it is just that - fanatical. 

Tuesday 14 May 2024

Favourite Pothole


To throw in a bit of fairy dust

‘I was after mystique rather than power’: artist Jonathan Yeo on his radical portrait of King Charles

How do you paint a modern monarch? Jonathan Yeo, in his life portrait of King Charles commissioned on behalf of the Drapers’ Company and unveiled today at Buckingham Palace has achieved this – and it is fair to say, it has been long in the coming...

“I wanted to open up his character to other interpretations” Yeo, who is a personal friend, told me when he first showed it to me a few weeks ago. “The military is not the thing we will know him for. I was after mystique rather than power - to throw in a bit of fairy dust if you like. To that end, I also changed the tone of red to something more artificial and fantastical”

I think I see what he's getting at here - I was after mystique rather than power - to throw in a bit of fairy dust if you like. Fairy dust is a clear reference to the mystical arcana of climate change, the inner mysteries and magical measures used to fight the twin evils of scepticism and veracity.

Through art we catch a glimpse of the majestic workings of minimalist thought and the sublime, the barely comprehensible rejection of superfluous intellectual dignity. 

It's a nice painting too.

We meet the moment by showing up

Harry and Meghan's charity 'delinquent' over records mishap, US authority says

It is understood that the issue centres around a cheque sent by Archewell Foundation that was not received by California's Registry of Charities and Fundraisers.

It is understood that a physical cheque was sent by Archewell Foundation but not received, and a new one has been sent to resolve the issue.

It is believed the charity was only made aware of this when the delinquency notice was published.

Sounds like an admin issue. More amusing is the Archewell Foundation mission.

On its website, the foundation says its mission is to "show up, do good", adding: "We meet the moment by showing up, taking action and using our unparalleled spotlight to uplift and unite communities - local and global - through acts of service and compassion."

The mission sounds like a willingness to meet the moment by showing up for a photo op on your premises. That's not delinquent at all. 

Monday 13 May 2024


Avocado shortage warning as fruit smashed by climate change

A warning has been issued about a future shortage of avocados thanks to climate change.

The best growing regions in countries like Burundi, Chile, Peru, Spain, South Africa and Mexico are seeing productivity shrink due to the more volatile conditions...

The popular superfood, which is high in fibre and healthy fats, relies on a lot of water to grow, making it especially vulnerable in a hotter, drier, more drought-prone world.

That's strange, the BBC recently assured us that climate change makes extreme rainfall more likely.

Many factors contribute to flooding, but a warming atmosphere caused by climate change makes extreme rainfall more likely.

The world has already warmed by about 1.1C since the industrial era began and temperatures will keep rising unless governments around the world make steep cuts to emissions.

Lib Dems embolden themselves

Lib Dems ‘broke equality laws’ over deselection of Christian candidate

The Liberal Democrats have been accused of deselecting a candidate based on his Christian faith in a breach of equality law.

Members have reported the party to the equalities watchdog over accusations that the party has tolerated a “hostile environment” for people of faith, failed to investigate serious allegations of discrimination and harassment and “emboldened those who believe Christians should be driven out of public life”.

You must have either intelligence or spiritual faith to stand up against life.

Hugh Walpole – The Fortress (1932)

It seems unwise of the Lib Dems to reject both intelligence and spiritual faith. We already know they aren't too keen on intelligence, not if "Sir" Ed Davey is any guide to the selection process.

Sunday 12 May 2024

Gizza job

Conservative defector to Labour ‘was bitter at not getting ministerial job’

Tory defector Natalie Elphicke stormed out of the party and joined Labour because she was “bitter” about being denied a ministerial job in charge of housing policy, senior Conservative sources have told the Observer...

On Saturday, Wes Streeting, the shadow health secretary, defended the decision to accept Elphicke. He said defectors must be treated as “converts, not traitors” and urged more to follow suit. 

"Sir" Keir's future difficulties seem to be stacking up even before the election. I wonder how Angela is getting on?

Police 'make contact with Angela Rayner' over her two-homes row

Police have contacted Angela Rayner to arrange a date for officers to quiz Labour's deputy leader over her housing row, it emerged today.

Anything else apart from the rabble? Net Zero, Gaza, Ukraine, immigration, knife crime... 

The poor sap hasn't a hope.

Holiday Tip

We whizzed off to Norfolk yesterday and here we are on the sunny north Norfolk coast. One holiday tip worth passing on concerns the state of the roads and it's this - avoid Nottinghamshire. 

And I thought Derbyshire roads were bad. Lessons learned as they say.

Saturday 11 May 2024

Victimhood by Proxy

A well-known characteristic of modern political rhetoric is the focus on victimhood. An interesting aspect of this focus is how analogous it is to Factitious disorder imposed on another (FDIA), first named as Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSbP). Not an analogy to be taken seriously, but an amusing thing to do in idle moments. 

An obvious example is how the political stance of the UK Labour party has morphed from the mitigation of genuine working class poverty to a much more contrived focus on politically imposed victimhood. An obvious analogy with FDIA is that we could describe political victimhood as Factitious victimhood imposed on another (FVIA).

Examples of the disorder are numerous.

It's as bad as the US

A top Cambodian opposition politician is charged with inciting disorder for criticizing government

The leader of a recently formed Cambodian opposition party has been charged with inciting social disorder, his lawyer said Saturday, in the third major legal action this month targeting critics of the government of Prime Minister Hun Manet,...

Cambodia's government has long been accused of using the judicial system to persecute critics and political opponents. The government insists it promotes the rule of law under an electoral democracy, but political parties seen as mounting strong challenges to the ruling Cambodian People’s Party have been dissolved by the courts or had their leaders jailed or harassed.

Automated marking

Open University accused of using computer to mark crucial dissertations

The Open University has been accused of using a computer algorithm to mark dissertations, The Telegraph can disclose.

A former student who obtained marking transcripts for their MBA dissertation last year has claimed that the university was not assessing students’ work individually.

Instead, the student has alleged that the university was using a computer model to determine final marks, causing concerns about the possibility of incorrect degree classifications.

Maybe we'll reach a situation where the loop is closed, where students use a computer to write their dissertations and another computer marks them. Should save quite a bit on tuition fees.

Friday 10 May 2024

A glorious mediocrity of the most bourgeois kind

Just Stop Oil eco-zealots have gone from 'harmless hippies to committing reckless acts of criminal damage' Tory policing minister Chris Philip rages after Anglican priest, 82, and retired teacher, 85, attacked the Magna Carta

A pair of elderly protestors who brazenly hammered the glass protecting the Magna Carta, before gluing themselves to the display as part of a Just Stop Oil protest, have been denounced for their 'reckless' stunt.

The enemies of all true life, out-of-date Liberals who are afraid of their own independence, the flunkeys of thought, the enemies of individuality and freedom, the decrepit advocates of deadness and rottenness! All they have to offer is senility, a glorious mediocrity of the most bourgeois kind, contemptible shallowness, a jealous equality, equality without individual dignity, equality as it’s understood by flunkeys or by the French in ‘93. And the worst of it is there are swarms of scoundrels among them, swarms of scoundrels!

Fyodor Dostoevsky – Demons (1871-72)

Losing their nerve

Tory MPs losing their nerve because of dire polls, says Jeremy Hunt

Tory MPs are “losing their nerve” because of the party’s poor polling, the Chancellor has said.

Jeremy Hunt told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme the Conservatives were becoming divided because of Labour’s consistent poll lead.

Has Hunt been reading Wodehouse recently? 

Sir Roderick Glossop, Honoria’s father, is always called a nerve specialist, because it sounds better, but everybody knows that he’s really a sort of janitor to the looney-bin.

P.G. Wodehouse - The Inimitable Jeeves (1923)

The failure of hyper-inclusion

Kurt Mahlburg has a useful piece in Mercator on the woes of the US scout movement.

'Boy Scouts of America' is rebranding. Now it's gender-neutral

Boy Scouts of America announced this week that it will rebrand itself as ‘Scouting America’ in a bid to reflect “the organisation’s ongoing commitment to welcome every youth and family in America to experience the benefits of Scouting”.

“Though our name will be new, our mission remains unchanged: we are committed to teaching young people to be Prepared. For Life,” the group’s President and CEO Roger Krone said in a press release.

“This will be a simple but very important evolution as we seek to ensure that everyone feels welcome in Scouting.”

The whole piece is well worth reading as yet another reminder that prizes for all means nobody wins prizes and if everybody is special then nobody is special. Also an oblique reminder that this is what woke culture promotes for the plebs - a world of nobodies. This could be where the seeds of its collapse are planted. 

Absurd as it all sounds, here lies exposed the achilles’ heel of wokeness. By welcoming everyone into the building, you collapse it.

Or to quote Dash from the 2004 film The Incredibles, who was responding to his mother’s half-hearted claim that “everyone is special” — “that’s just another way of saying no one is”.

Here’s a thought. Maybe the last decade’s worth of hyper-inclusion explains why Boy Scouts of America’s membership is at historic lows.

Always pleasant to hear it said again

Dominic Cummings unveils plans for new party to replace the Tories

Dominic Cummings has unveiled plans for a new “Start-Up Party” which he claims could replace the Conservatives.

Speaking to the i paper in his first interview since leaving Downing Street in 2020, Boris Johnson’s former chief adviser said the new party could capitalise on the expected collapse in the Tory vote at the next general election...

“The Tories now obviously represent nothing except a continuation of the sh-- show; higher taxes, worse violent crime, more debt, anti-entrepreneurs, public services failing, immigration out of control,” said Mr Cummings...

Mr Cummings also said a Keir Starmer-led Labour government would offer no meaningful change from the Tories.

“They’ve got a duff leader who’s s--t at politics, can’t communicate, doesn’t actually have any picture of how he wants to be different, he just wants him to be in charge of the broken old institutions and then do what the Civil Service tell him to do all day,” he said.

He added that the quality of Labour MPs was not high and would make it harder for Sir Keir to deliver what voters want.

We know all this, but always pleasant to hear it said again, even from Dominic Cummings.

Thursday 9 May 2024

That went well


Starmer won't refuse

Britain refuses to sign global vaccine treaty that would force it to give away fifth of jabs

Britain is refusing to sign the World Health Organisation’s pandemic treaty while it insists the UK would have to give away a fifth of its jabs, The Telegraph understands.

The UK is firmly against such vaccine-related commitments and will not sign any form of the pandemic agreement that undermines Britain’s sovereignty.

Representatives of the WHO’s 194 member states are halfway through talks to try to agree to the WHO Pandemic Agreement, an initiative first announced in May 2021.

"Sir" Keir Starmer is a technocrat, he'll sign it unless the pushback against it is more powerful than he cares to tackle. In which case he'll probably go for some lesser deal first, but this is his kind of gesture while preserving sovereignty isn't. Not that there is much left to preserve.


Dine-and-dash couple caught on video admit stealing more than £1,000 across five restaurants

Amarried couple have pleaded guilty to carrying out a string of “dine-and-dash” incidents in Wales, leaving restaurants more than £1,000 out of pocket.

Bernard McDonagh, 41, and his wife Ann, 39, admitted leaving five restaurants without paying and racking up a total bill of £1,168.10, Swansea magistrates’ court heard.

They face the prospect of prison when they are sentenced later in May 2024.

I've been wondering why they call it 'Dine-and-dash'.  It doesn't quite capture the flavour of this particular caper. Scoff-and-scarper seems closer.

We've seen a few local scoff-and-scarper cases reported on a lesser financial scale, but I suppose people have to train themselves to reach this standard. The really big pie diet seems to be favoured.

Wednesday 8 May 2024

Slack Scammers

My phone rings, it’s an unknown caller. Although I don’t usually answer such calls, this time I did –

A long pause then what sounded like a recorded voice –

Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs…

...and I cancelled the call. 

Scammers really should keep their recorded voices up to date.

Unbranded Politics

The two main parties in British politics used to be clearly branded. Labour was for the downtrodden working class needing education, healthcare and protection against exploitation and hard times. Conservatives were for tradition, sound money, professions, possessions and the benefits of enterprise.

This fairly well-defined branding has gone, to be replaced by a few tattered old labels still being squeezed and squeezed again for whatever extractable residue they have left. Cheap politics is all we now have on offer. Unbranded, shoddily put together with odds and ends sourced from beyond our shores, ephemerally fashionable, disposable and impossible to repair.

A game selects the players able and willing to play it. It is striking how little mainstream political pundits have to say about Keir Starmer’s political principles and policies. He doesn’t appear to have either, which is no surprise. He clearly plays the modern political game, the unbranded version where he tailors his message to his audience while saying as little as possible. This is how the game is now played.

It is not even obvious that Starmer has any principles which led him into politics, other than some bloodless attraction to the rules of the political game, the first rule of which to have no principles because principles are weaknesses.

This avoidance of political weaknesses seems to be the key to Starmer’s playing style. It is still possible to impress the party faithful with principles, but the party is a mix of lesser players and supporters loosely grouped into factions playing internal games among themselves. To cope with this, Starmer plays the political game with a curious, cynical professionalism which deceives only the terminally gullible.

His style is based on solid defence combined with opportunist strikes at perceived weaknesses in the opponents’ tactics. The fundamental defence tactic is to present opponents and pundits with as little as possible which requires defending – so no firm principles and no firm policies. A secondary defence is to make it clear that he cannot be pinned down to specifics as he is prepared to repudiate anything at a later date.

It is not a complex nor a difficult style in itself but it has the advantage that Starmer is sufficiently uncharismatic to create the impression that he might be sincere. He isn’t at all sincere because this is not how he plays the game, but a lack of charisma helps obscure it.

Running counter to this advantage is that Starmer’s lack of charisma makes it more difficult to hide his lack of political principles. This seems to be a weakness. Not a weakness which is easily attacked politically, but one which is not easily hidden even in the fog of political warfare.

Collectively we get what we deserve, so apparently we deserve Starmer. To recycle a tired, overused but perennially pertinent phrase - what could possibly go wrong?

Tuesday 7 May 2024

BESS Fires


Thoughts which should always be kept to oneself

My friend was perfectly right, though it was not until long, long afterwards that experience of life taught me the evil that comes of thinking—still worse, of saying—much that seems very fine; taught me that there are certain thoughts which should always be kept to oneself, since brave words seldom go with brave deeds. I learnt then that the mere fact of giving utterance to a good intention often makes it difficult, nay, impossible, to carry that good intention into effect. Yet how is one to refrain from giving utterance to the brave, self-sufficient impulses of youth? Only long afterwards does one remember and regret them, even as one incontinently plucks a flower before its blooming, and subsequently finds it lying crushed and withered on the ground.

Leo Tolstoy – Youth (1857)

An old problem we've managed to make worse. It takes time for people to learn that brave words seldom go with brave deeds. We gradually grow into the adult world of trade-off and compromise to learn that carrying out those brave deeds may be too difficult, impossible or best forgotten altogether.

Yet the problem seems to have been exacerbated by modern levels of prosperity where practical, pragmatic insight is much less valuable than it once was. We also have to contend with the expansion of university education way beyond achievable academic excellence. The curse of the well qualified midwit is not a trivial curse.

Hence the perennial problem with student activists and retarded maturity which sometimes never does mature because careers may now be built on the evil that comes of thinking—still worse, of saying—much that seems very fine. Evil careers perhaps, but careers all the same.

Monday 6 May 2024

Misplaced trust - again

Full list of Stroud District Council councillors as Greens become largest party and Tories suffer huge poll blow

The Green Party have won the Stroud District Council elections securing their best ever result but do not have enough seats to control the authority outright. The Greens won 22 of the 51 seats on offer at Ebley Mill and are the largest party for the first time ever while Labour secured 20.

The Conservatives suffered a huge blow and could only keep seven of the 18 they previously held while the Liberal Democrats won two seats. Green council leader Catherine Braun, whose Wotton-under-Edge ward was the last to be declared, thanked all the voters who put their trust in them. “It’s been a fantastic result for the Greens,” she said.

Could be a temporary refuge for disaffected Tories I suppose, but it's odd that anyone would put their voter's cross against a Green candidate. Most come across as worthy enough but untidy, easily distracted and not quite connected with anything that works well apart from being enthusiastic about the wrong things. 

The swivel-eyed loons are in a different world, but a considerably less benign and vastly more damaging world.

Green sharks are just sharks. They are enthusiastic about the wrong things too. For different reasons.

Warming then, much like now

Prehistoric DNA being dug up to see if it can help modern-day crops cope with climate change

Researchers from Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh are working with European scientists to analyse microbes from the palaeolithic period, when, like today, the planet was becoming warmer.

The university team has been awarded £500,000 by Horizon Europe, a European Union scientific research initiative, to spend four years examining ancient soil samples extracted from deep below the Arctic under a project named Tolerate.

Dr Ross Alexander, a plant molecular biologist at Heriot-Watt, said researchers were "using samples from the palaeolithic period, around 100-200,000 years ago, because the planet was warming then, much like now".

Ah, "the planet was warming then, much like now". That would be due to emissions from prehistoric air travel, clogged motorways and lack of sustainable industry...

Nope, doesn't work, too ludicrous for sarcasm. Not the research itself which could be interesting, but endlessly insistent political narrative which supports the funding. How about funding it simply because it's scientifically interesting?

Sunday 5 May 2024

The new Scotland

Sebastian Milbank has an interesting Critic piece on the narrowness of secular Scottish culture as defined by the SNP and liberal elite.

The new Scotland

Scottish culture is narrowing and secularising under the influence of a strident liberal elite

Just over a year ago Kate Forbes was narrowly beaten in the SNP leadership election, in large part because many colleagues and commentators turned upon her following coverage of her (long established) religious conservative convictions on issues of gender and sex. With Humza Yousaf having been forced to resign following the collapse of his agreement with the Scottish Greens, Forbes seemed poised as the frontrunner in the upcoming leadership contest. But news soon broke, amidst negative reactions to her possible return in the media and party, that she would not be standing. What had happened?

The whole piece is well worth reading as a telling comment on what already seems like the inevitable failure of contrived secular cultures.

The point is hammered home at length: “Forbes represents an authentic strain of rural Scottish presbyterianism. But she cannot successfully reconcile the moral strictures of the Free Church with the values of contemporary urban Scotland in all its diversity and dynamism.”

It’s all rather impressive, just as long as you don’t think about it too hard. Why, for example, is Yousaf, a committed Muslim, seen as a good representative of liberal modernity, whilst Forbes, who belongs to the non-conformist Protestant tradition so integral to British liberalism, is considered a reactionary symbol? Humza Yousaf’s religious community is no more accepting of homosexuality than Forbes’, and though Yousaf claims to support gay marriage (an issue neither politician is likely to make policy on in future), he was mysteriously and conveniently absent when it came time to vote on it.


Yesterday, while sitting in a café, we saw a chap who resembled our nephew to a quite remarkable degree. He was a little younger, but face, mannerisms, body shape, voice and the way he laughed were so similar that we had to look twice to make sure it wasn’t him. Then again to make absolutely sure.

We knew it wasn’t our nephew because he lives in London and the age wasn’t right, but the resemblance was so remarkable that apart from the age difference he could have been an identical twin.

Yet we couldn’t very well take a photo of him and there was no point telling our nephew's parents about the resemblance because these things have to be seen to have that double-take effect. Spooky though.

Bring back the typewriter


Saturday 4 May 2024


UK weather: Britain to potentially see tropical warmth or monsoon downpours as 'flabby weather systems' confuse forecasters

‘Flabby weather systems’, a weakening jet stream and a ‘potent’ storm threaten everything from tropical warmth to monsoon downpours.

Headache-stricken forecasters are pulling their hair out trying to predict the Bank Holiday outlook as Britain’s wacky weather cranks up the bonkers factor.

It's odd how the global climate is never flabby. Neither do headache-stricken climate forecasters pull their hair out trying to generate forecasts running into decades. 

Climate must become less flabby and more predictable as it ages.