Friday, 23 October 2020

Rubbish Equipment

A certain person at work who shall remain nameless, seems obsessed with replacing perfectly serviceable equipment with rubbish.

It started when the battery on our works Dyson V6 started to go. It was unceremoniously thrown in the bin, from which I rescued it and purchased a replacement, non-Dyson battery from China. It now works perfectly and has been supplementing our stable of vacuum cleaners at home for about 6 months. The replacement that was purchased was reassuringly expensive, but useless - especially when vacuuming out cars or picking up leaves from the showroom mats.

We had a wonderful leaf blower that developed a hole in the bag. Rather than buying a new bag, a totally new leaf blower was bought, but it looks as if it was meant for kids. It's all of 3 feet long.

I have to assume a stooped over gait to use it, resulting in excruciating back pain if used for more than a few minutes. The old leaf blower is residing in my shed, complete with a new bag, ready for use around the new pond when the hedge starts shedding.

I hate to see good equipment thrown away for want of a small, cheap part.

Talking of rubbish equipment, are you aware that in America, the Tesla is bottom of the list for reliability? In the UK it ties with the Landrover for that position.

Thursday, 22 October 2020

Judge Jeffreys Courts

In order to speed up the backlog of criminal cases that have been held up by Covid, there are proposals to implement Nightingale Courts - the resurrection of courts that were closed down years ago and were deemed too expansive to update. Nighingale Courts is perhaps the wrong name to choose, as Florence Nightingale was never involved in the courts system - Judge Jeffreys Courts would be more apt. 

To really speed up judgements, a single court could be set up with Anne Widdecombe, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Priti Patel presiding. 

Just think of the speed at which they could work if the accused were not allowed to be represented and a system of summary justice were implemented. Even the prosecution wouldn't be necessary, saving even more cash. They could just look at the accused and determine from their dress and demeanour whether they were guilty.

To avoid overcrowding in prisons, scaffolds could be erected outside the courts.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Updating Myself

I'm thinking of updating myself with some hair colour and tattoos. 

When I was a kid, people of my age with grey or white hair, like mine, generally had nicotine streaks in their hair and nicotine stains on their fingers. Beards and moustaches were invariably yellow around the mouth. 

I no longer smoke and haven't done so for over a decade, but I could have nicotine coloured streaks added to my hair and beard and orange/brown tattoos on my fingers for that authentic, 1960s older person look. The new hipster / pensioner look.

Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Bijou AirBnB

Overheard when our AirBnB guests departed:

Chairman: "I'm going to have to time you on how long it takes you to do an AirBnB changeover, like the Formula 1 teams, and work on how we can strip the time down to the minimum by eliminating unnecessary operations.

It didn't go down too well.

We're really getting into this AirBnB thing though. Our AirBnB room is proving quite popular, albeit with the Covid situation. I have suggested Hay make up some fliers for the local elderly care homes - most of our guests live well out of the area and come to see parents in the local care homes.

Some of the places available on AirBnB are ridiculous - and even more ridiculously priced because of it. Sheds seem to attract a high premium and, the worse the state, the higher the premium. Quirky names seem to sell well too.

We have an old shed that No.1 Son used when he came to stay with us when we lived in the caravan while building the house. It has electricity (not always a prerequisite) and is insulated with 75mm of polystyrene (sheer decadence for some) - it was attached to the caravan and he lived in it for 3 years. It's now a bit dilapidated and used by my brother-in-law as his drum practice shed. I could evict him and put it on AirBnB as "The Drum Shed". Nice, quirky name.

I'm trying to persuade Hay that we should rent out our motorhome when we're not using it - not as a motorhome, but as a static in our top par park. It can be hooked up to one of the cabins and water is readily available. We could easily get £50 a night for it.

We could even rent out a carboard box on our doorstep for that real, Spartan, homeless experience and make a killing. 

Renters would be provided with a dog and a guitar and kicked out every morning at 7am after being hosed down, only being allowed to return when they've managed to beg the requisite, and very high rental fee for the next night.

Monday, 19 October 2020


Charity is a strange thing. 

On the one hand, you want to see the effects of your charitable donation, which means you feel the need (well, I do) to place it personally with someone, as giving produces its own joy in the giver. It's a reciprocal thing. I get more back in emotion from giving to a homeless person on the street than a faceless charity. I certainly don't expect to gain a place in heaven by my charitable donation, as I don't believe in heaven. For me, at least, it's a form of natural socialism, which I do believe in. In essence, it's empathy, and too many of us lack this attribute.

Should I have joy in giving? Should altruism be free from reciprocity?

On the other hand, giving personally means you become the arbiter of succour and it can become a competition among those deserving your largesse. That is the downside - the number of deserving people you will leave disappointed and still in dire straits.

Giving to a charity removes the personal aspect of giving, as the donation is distributed in a faceless way where you can't interact with the recipient, but it does overcome the responsibility associated with you playing God with your money. There again, the various charities are themselves in competition for your donation, and retain a large chunk for administration purposes, a lot of which goes into advertising, which is essentially a competition for your money.

The saddest thing is that in the modern world and the relatively rich West, domestic charities are needed in the first place. It's an indictment on our culture.

Sunday, 18 October 2020

Drink Hacks


Hay: "When it comes time to bury you, I'm going to bury you on your side."

Chairman: "Why would that be?"

Hay: "If I buried you on your back, you'd keep the entire graveyard awake with your snoring."

Chairman: "It won't bother me - I'll be dead."

Hay: "I wouldn't bet on that.!

In September I published a blog post about artificial sweeteners and their adverse effect on the gut microbiome and have since given up on using them, or any artificially sweetened products. 

While putting brown sugar into a full cup of coffee and stirring it is not a problem, it tends to linger at the bottom of a small espresso and having to stir it for a while brings the temperature down very quickly. To overcome this, I've started to use a dash of maple syrup with my morning espressos, which disperses immediately and tastes delicious.

Maple syrup, however, is quite expensive when compared to the sugary coffee condiments you can purchase from supermarkets specifically for this purpose - the Monin syrups. I've looked at the ingredients and there seems to be no monkeyed around chemicals or corn syrups in it, which surprises me.

Another food hack I've developed is mucking about with cloudy apple juice, which I mix with about 5 x the amount of water and keep in a bottle in the fridge as a very effective and inexpensive thirst quencher. 

During the first lockdown, Lidl's Naturis cloudy apple juice wasn't available and so I started using Clawson Press' cloudy apple juice with ginger from Tesco - it was delicious, but hideously expensive at £2.30 a carton, as compared to Lidl's £0.80. To recreate this I simply bought some ginger root from Lidl, peeled it, and cut it into French fry sized chips, which I store in the freezer and add to the Lidl cloudy apple / water mix as needed. One ginger root will last months and I only decant the ginger chips from the bottle when the taste dictates, which might be every 5th or 6th refill of the bottle.

Saturday, 17 October 2020

Non Market Marketplace

I'm selling a car on Facebook Marketplace and really get pissed off with people who send a message, enquiring whether the car is still available, and are then never heard of again.

It happens time after time on Marketplace, and I'm at a loss as to explain why people express an interest when they demonstrably have no interest at all. Moronic behaviour.

Friday, 16 October 2020

Benign Neglect

I came across some interesting phrases the other day in respect of parenting; benign neglect and free-range children. The former results in the latter, which are, allegedly, better able to cope with life.

This form of parenting is the antithesis of helicopter parenting and is analogous to the gardener, as opposed to the carpenter. The gardener parent sets the scene, establishes clear boundaries and watches what happens, with some occasional corrective interference, which can result in unexpected fowerings and cross-fertilisations. The carpenter, on the other hand, plans everything to the last millimetre, not allowing room for self-expression, creativity or deviation - in other words, micromanagement.

Essentially, benign neglect is how parenting was conducted when I and my peers were kids. We were sent out in the morning and told not to get into strangers' cars, not to accept sweets from strangers and to be home by a certain time, not forgetting to wear clean underwear in case we were run over and ended up in hospital. Those, and a few other strictures, were the guidelines, which we mainly followed. We were free to make mistakes and have adventures, many of them involving brushes with danger, which gave us either painful lessons or confidence.

Thursday, 15 October 2020

It Was Normal Then

It was claimed that in the 18th century slavery was 'normal'. It was considered normal only by those benefiting from it, who also happened to control the government through their vast wealth derived from slavery. Obviously there were circles where it was not considered normal, else the abolitionist movement would never have existed. 

In a nation of self-professed and devout Christians, anyone who professed the Golden Rule of do unto others, could not, in all conscience, condone slavery and was guilty of hypocrisy on a grand scale - and bishops owned slaves. However, that was the equal to the 2nd paragraph of the United States declaration of Independence, which states that; "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. That statement obviously did not apply to black people.

In his judgment of 22 June 1772, Lord Mansfield held; "The state of slavery is of such a nature that it is incapable of being introduced on any reasons, moral or political, but only by positive law, which preserves its force long after the reasons, occasions, and time itself from whence it was created, is erased from memory. It is so odious, that nothing can be suffered to support it, but positive law. Whatever inconveniences, therefore, may follow from a decision, I cannot say this case is allowed or approved by the law of England; and therefore the black must be discharged. "

It was far from 'normal'.

Had a farm worker or villager of the time, of which there were many more than city dwellers, been asked as to whether slavery was good or bad, I somehow think they would not be on the side of slavery. They were practically slaves to the landed classes themselves. That the proceeds of slavery were used to build schools and hospitals in the UK was better than not is a rather specious justification - it condones El Chapo in the eyes of his cartel; the ends justify the means argument. Had the proceeds been used to recompense the enslaved or build hospitals and schools for them, that would have been infinitely better. However, greed precluded that, as it does in so many human endeavours. 

Once slave owners - which included widows, who had possibly been bequeathed just a single slave and depended on the income that slave generated - had been paid off with vast amounts of cash, the borrowing of which was some 40% of GDP and which only been paid off in 2015, only then could ex slave owners claim the moral high ground, however false that was, and the entire mood of the nation swing toward a more moral and ethical position aligned with its self-professed Christianity.

Given over £20m was paid to slave owners and there were over 40,000 claims, that averages out to £500 per slave, which in today's money is the equivalent of over £40,000. A powerful incentive to abolish slavery but, nonetheless, a prime cause of 19th century inflation.

The Africans who went out and caught the slaves were, to all intents and purposes, free market capitalists who spotted an opportunity to make money off the backs of the misery of others and as such, were no different to their European customers, but they were not the largest beneficiaries in the chain. My, God - they remind me of some politicians of today.

I keep hearing people say; "It wasn't my fault - I and my family had nothing to do with slavery." The all-inclusive 'we' in; "We beat the Germans in two World Wars," when they were not even a glimmer in their parents', grandparents' or great grandparents' eyes during either WWI or WWII, becomes a positive disassociation when slavery is mentioned; it's no longer 'we', but 'them'.

Accusations of rewriting history in respect of highlighting past heroes' links to slavery are logically incorrect and profoundly mistaken - they add to the history and complete it, rather than whitewashing it. 

Wednesday, 14 October 2020

Blame Game

It's reported in the news that some people are having a Covid-spreading last hurrah at cinemas and similar venues before the regional lockdowns, ignoring the entire point of the lockdowns and risking making a bad situation worse and longer lasting.

I remain shocked by the number of people I see walking around without face coverings. I also find it incomprehensible why people claiming to have asthma are exempt. If a face covering distresses you, you should be wheezing, at the very least, without one. 

I have COPD, for God's sake, and I can wear a mask. It seems to be the easiest excuse in the world to fabricate, as no-one is going to challenge you. I personally know someone who will go into a pub and claim he has asthma so he doesn't have to wear a mask, and then goes outside every 10 minutes to have a fag. He no more has asthma than I have beri-beri.

Are we too quick to blame students for the current increase in infections? The government said they had to go back to university, travelling from all corners of the country - not a good decision to start with. They mix in accommodation, pass each other in packed corridors and share kitchens. Is it any wonder universities are hotspots? 

Yes, you hear the odd story of parties, but a single party is perfect fodder for the tabloids, which are renowned for blowing things out of all proportion. The £10k fine for each of 3 students who held a party will put paid to that - as well as their degree chances. If one of my kids got fined for holding an illegal party, I certainly would not be footing the bill for them. Many students are more sensible than a lot of older people I'm acquainted with - witness the smoking, alleged asthmatic above.

Meanwhile, pubs in Liverpool are shut down, but not if they also happen to sell food. Now, if you're closing pubs, it must be because there's a link to infection - else why close them? To exempt pubs that sell food doesn't make any logical sense - both use tables. That's Wetherspoon's safe then - and the north screwed.