Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Hay Fever Cure for Lawn Mowers

On Sunday evening, what with No.1 Son being in London, we decided not to bother cooking and go out to our local pub, The Dog, for dinner. Now I'm a hay fever sufferer and a pint and a half of Pheasant Plucker cider may have exacerbated it (booze is apparently loaded with histamine), but, on having a small scotch just after dinner the symptoms miraculously vanished almost the moment the scotch touched my lips. It might have been coincidence, but my guess is that scotch is a cure. My symptoms are always worst in the morning and evening but, in the interests of a scientific trial, Hay won't let me have a scotch every morning. I did, however, give it another go last  night with Lidl scotch and, although it took a few minutes longer, it did actually work again. I'd be interested if any other sufferers report similar effects.

On the strength of my recommendation, Vicky at The Dog is now marketing Dalmore scotch as a hay fever cure.

On Saturday the cutting deck belt of my ride-on lawnmower parted. Found a site where they sell all manner of lawnmower spares and they listed two alternatives - a genuine manufacturer's part at £96 and an identical, non-genuine part for £19.95. Guess which I'm going for?

Monday, 30 May 2016

Sock Universe Times

Further to Saturday's theory of bubble universes being created by my keys, and other items, ripping apart the spacetime continuum under the influence of vacuum fluctuations; I have developed the theory a little further.

Some universes created by items you think you've lost are oscillating universes; i.e. they expand for some billions of their years and then contract again into a singularity, the other side of which is our universe - the origin universe. The logical consequence of this is that the object you have lost (normally a key, or something reasonably dense) rematerialises, but not where you know, with the certainty that only someone over 60 possesses, that you last put it. That is best explained by the fact the centre of the bubble universe the lost object created may have moved many billions of lightyears within its own spatio-temporal reference frame, but that could be just a few metres from the position in which the object disappeared within our universe (it's all relative). One benefit of this theory is that you can now stop blaming your wife for moving your keys.

This part of the theory will be of interest to the ladies. Now some items have a proclivity to create bubble universes with a positive cosmological constant, meaning they undergo accelerating expansion and suffer a heat death, with no chance of ever collapsing again to form a singularity. The consequence is that the lost items never return and are permanently trapped in the interstices of spacetime as a dying universe. The objects that generally behave in this manner are less dense, such as socks, especially ones which enter the washing machine in pairs. Now, as all quantum physicists know, a pair of socks are quantum entangled; this means you can take a pair of socks, separate them over vast distances and observing the state of one sock  will let you know immediately the state of the other - if one is unwashed, then other will be unwashed; if one is clean, the other will be clean; if one has holes the other will have holes; of one is black, the other will be black. There's obviously some field produced by washing machines, possibly a form of warp drive, that, a) breaks the quantum entanglement of a pair of socks, and b) produces the positive cosmological constant such that one of the pair winks out of existence, never to be seen again,  leaving its companion bereft and isolated within the washing machine drum. Toe cheese could also be the culprit and sentient life forms are highly likely within such universes (especially those of the Trump variety, which are not that highly evolved, but nonetheless have some basic thought processes).

Is it me, or has the once informative Sunday Times magazine slowly transformed into a lifestyle magazine? Hay noticed something similar during her stay in Whitby - what was once known as a chip shop has now become a purveyor of "street food",  and in a cone too.

Sunday, 29 May 2016

Marketing Universal Bands

This last week I've been putting the old Merc at the end of our track, as we have a good record of selling cars there due to the fact we're on the main road into Yate and beyond and catch all the people travelling into and from work, but it hasn't produced much interest. It suddenly struck me that I had the marketing all wrong - the car is a convertible, but I left it with the hard top on. I may prefer its looks with the hard top, but the whole proposition behind the car is the fact it's a drophead. Took the hard top off yesterday morning and I had a steady stream of people calling to ask questions about it. Got at least two people very interested. Now was that because of the Bank Holiday weekend, or due to the Merc looking attractive as summer car - I suspect the latter.

I misheard something Hay said last night while we were watching some 70s rock videos on YouTube (we don't watch TV on a Saturday night anymore - it's just so dire). The upshot is that we developed a new name for a band - Icarus Puss-Puss.

I created two new universes yesterday - key based and vaping stick based..

Saturday, 28 May 2016

Big Bang

What with Hay having been away for the week, No.1 Son and I have been cooking for ourselves - or rather I've been cooking for both of us. That usually means lots of steak and lots of chips.

Last night I was getting the chip oil up to temperature, for which I use a temperature probe to ensue the oil is hot enough and to avoid a chip pan fire. Well, I got distracted and put the probe down. I could have sworn I'd put it next to the chip pan, but could I find it again? No! I proceeded without the probe.

Spent an hour or more searching around downstairs but to no  avail/  I was eventually convinced it had become subject to a  quantum fluctuation and disappeared into the interstices of spacetime to form a new universe, the life forms evolving within it being based on chip oil, rather than carbon - although oils are indeed carbon-based.

I pondered whether my God-like creation of this new universe would mean that the beings that evolve in there would necessarily want to worship me, despite the fact I'm totally oblivious as to whether they're actually there or not, as I  can't possibly interact with them due to them being in a bubble universe isolated from our spacetime. Would they develop God-men who claim me as their father (and all the nasty child benefits that may be incurred within their chip oil based legal system).

I eventually found the probe in my file next to my laptop. The universe I'd possibly created disappeared in a puff of smoke as the probe rematerialised (well, either that or I'd put it there when distracted by an email and it never disappeared at all, but I think not). What for me was about an hour could have been billions upon billions of years within the chip oil universe's spacetime. It was created, lived and died during the time my probe was missing.

Just think about that the next time you lose your keys. They're not lost, merely busy creating a new universe.

All this Brexit stuff must be getting to me.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Football Flower Barber

Hay spotted this in a barber's window in Whitby:

Another ethereal photo of Whitby from Hay:


Apparently 50% of abusive, misogynistic tweets on Twitter are made by women. I've never suffered abusive, misogyny on Twitter, but that's perhaps because I'm not on Twitter.

If a European superstate actually comes about, does that mean we'll end up with a USE football team for the World Cup? Surely that would be unbeatable?

Has anyone ever seen a Swiss cheese plant flower? Apparently they're a member of the Arum family and the flower is identical, but it's notoriously difficult to get them to flower in captivity. Here's my beauty, which is under the spiral staircase, but rapidly outgrowing the space:

Been trying to excise some scratches on the near side window of the car using a buffer and jeweler's rouge. The scratches are from grit that was trapped in the rubber, with continuous use over 23 years having scored the glass in one area quite deeply. While I've had some success, it's toughened glass and at this rate it will take several days of solid buffing to remove them all. Finally decided to buy a 2nd hand window from a breaker's yard for £75. Should have done that in the first place, but I was so convinced jeweler's rouge would do the job. Damned stuff gets into any crevice on paint, door handles - anywhere with a rough surface, and is the very  devil to remove.

I've written a 4 page defence of staying in the EU, refuting most of the bollocks being put about by Boris' mates, as well as misconceptions that for some reason keep persisting in the popular consciousness - or lack of it, from what I've seen. Was going to post it today, but thought I'd stress test it first. Posted it on an Exit Facebook page and managed to get a  bite, but the bugger used the old lawyer's trick of focusing on one word (the use of 'overwhelming' for 64% support for the EU in Scotland) and one reference (my use of Wiki as a source for the UK's budget expenditure) - unjustifiably, as I provided backup data - and rubbishing the whole thing on that basis. Of course they wouldn't argue with me, despite me having broken it up into logical chunks for ease of reference. Never mind - I'll sanity check it elsewhere before posting it. Volunteers welcome.

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Tick-Tock, Tick-Tock

Latest updates from Hay in Whitby. I'm sure she said this is the Capt. Hook Museum, but she never mentioned whether there was a ticking crocodile there:

I beat her to it with this one:

The beach looks a bit chilly:

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Project Fear vs Project Foolhardy

Hay sent me this photo of Whitby Abbey yesterday:

I edited it to this for a more ethereal feel:

If you walk over a high cliff, there's a more than evens chance you're going to kill yourself. Wander across a busy road with earphones and a blindfold and I wouldn't give much for your chances of reaching the other side in one piece. Nor would the RAC, your local council, the National Trust or any other organisation involved in either cliffs or road safety.

Now, some would call these warnings Project Fear. I merely call them sensible warnings of highly probable, self-inflicted outcomes. There would be a high chance of you killing yourself, but there's also a lower chance you'd merely suffer a catastrophic injury. There's a very slim chance you'd be totally unscathed, but it would only be a teeny weeny chance.

Project Foolhardy, on the other hand, will say; "Don't worry - it'll be OK. Those warnings are coming from fearmongerers and The Establishment - they all have vested interests. We have a plan that will avoid you hitting the beach or being hit by a car. Can't tell you what that plan is yet, the cost, what it involves or when we're going to implement it. You'll just have to trust us and believe we can do it because we're a great and resourceful nation, have the Commonwealth and had the greatest empire the world has ever seen. We're also politicians and you can trust us to have your best interests at heart."

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Transgender Whitby Truckers

Overheard in the house:

No.1 Son: "Dad, is Eddie Stobart transgender?"

Chairman: "He's dead. I think you mean Eddie Izzard, and no, he's a transvestite."

Hay is now in Whitby. Looks quite nice too, if a bit too Yorkshireish for me:

Monday, 23 May 2016

Overheard in the Lions' Den

The Chairman wanders into the cabin where Hay is emptying the composting toilet:

Hay: "What are you doing?"

Chairman: "Helping you - by keeping out of the way."

The cattle have been let out on the common and they'll be there now till September. People walking past just don't bother them.

Even our hedgehog decided to come out for a snuffle during the day.

Hay has gone off to Whitby with her dad and his girlfriend for the week. No.1 Son and I are left to look after ourselves, which I think we'll accomplish quite satisfactorily.

Steve Hilton, Cameron's strategy advisor has said; "A decision to leave the EU is not without risk. But I believe it is the ideal and idealistic choice for our times: taking back power from arrogant, unaccountable, hubristic elites and putting it where it belongs - in people's hands." Doesn't he really mean in the hands of another hubristic elite called the government?

Duncan Smith has dismissed the latest Treasury forecast saying no-one ever believes Treasury forecasts. Doesn't that then destroy any Treasury forecast - including any he may later want to rely on to justify an action? I suspect those words will come back to haunt him.

I poked my head into the lion's mouth over the weekend, posting a long and, I believe, well-reasoned argument for remaining in the EU on the Leave.EU Facebook page. My reasoning was based on jobs and the economy, I attracted the usual intelligent rants, like; "Load of crap," and; "With a name like that, go back to where you came from," in obvious reference to my part-Dutch heritage and regardless of the fact I'd been here longer than the ranter.

I was accused of speculation about the impact of Brexit. Well, yesterday it was speculative to say I'd be in work this morning, but, on the basis of probabilities, it was an almost dead cert. While trying to pinpoint-forecast the currency exchange rate or interest rate three months hence may be impossible, estimating general market reaction to a stimulus is a vastly more certain proposition. While individual forecasts vary, they are remarkably consistent on the direction in the event of Brexit. Duncan Smith may trash the Treasury forecast - and indeed any forecast which disagrees with his view - but he singularly fails to produce his own forecast or at least explain why the consensus is wrong.

Some of them did attempt to debate with me, but there was a distinct lack of reasoned argument on their part. Pensions were brought into the conversation, as if the EU is responsible for that particular Ponzi scheme, the basis of which (i.e. a steady ratio of the number of working people required to maintain a pensioner in state pension) has been eroding since its inception. I did point out that the solution to pensions is simple - higher tax, lower pensions, later pensions or immigration. Well, that went down like a lead zeppelin. They were, however, totally disarmed when I refused to trade insults and challenged them to back up their bland statement with some logic.

One had the temerity to say I had no empathy for poorly paid people - as if concern for jobs isn't empathetic toward poorly paid people. The bugger also called me a Tory to boot, which is grossly inaccurate and an insult - perhaps he meant it that way.

Next to immigration, the subject of sovereignty seems to be foremost; however, ask them in which area they feel emasculated or which EU laws they find objectionable and they fall silent. They are merely regurgitating the Exit mantra without any analysis or thought and areas of legislation totally within the remit of our government are attributed to the EU.

Most of them are living in a rosy past of tea on the lawn, full employment, a thriving shipbuilding industry, marvelous British cars that never rust or break down and trusting this will all return merely by wishing it so. However, not a single person had a valid argument to counter mine, demonstrating that the Out camp is basing its decisions on emotion, not reason. One even admitted that the heart said Out while the head said In.

If you haven't seen their Facebook pages yet, I advise a look. It's a tour de force of wrongheadedness, blissful ignorance of the EU itself, wild conspiracy theories, blatant misinformation and invective. If you respond with competing invective they just froth at the mouth, so don't; just politely ask them to justify their assertions and they just melt away. Many of them - not all - seem to prefer the Daily Mail or Sun to a critical use of Google or Wikipedia.

Sunday, 22 May 2016

Pound Shop Depth in the EU

Bag of sugar @ Pound Shop = £1
Jar of mayonnaise @ Pound Shop = £1

Bag of sugar @ Lidl = £0.42
Jar of mayonnaise @ Lidl = £0.75

Enough said!

The Sunday Times is reporting that it will take a long time to find the Egypt Air black box, as it's over 2 miles down. A cursory glance at any chart of the Eastern Med will show the depth there is around 1,000m, and 1,500m at the most. So much for accurate reporting.

Here's an idea - replace those interminable and dreary X-Factor type shows with debates on the EU. Now that would attract an audience, as everyone has a view, and quite rightly so.

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Car Painting & MGBs

I've been spending lunchtimes and evenings getting rid of a rather large scratch and dent in rear n/s pillar of the 500SL's hardtop, but with little success. I've sprayed a number of cars over the years, having totally rebuilt several MGBs in my youth.

The problem is metallic paint - I've never played with it before. Usually, with a solid colour spray paint, you flat the paint down with 1200 wet and dry to remove any blemishes or orange peel before polishing with cutting compound - job done! The issue with metallic paint is it doesn't take well to flatting, leaving hazy marks at the join between the old and new paint due to the alignment of the metallic flakes.

Finally cracked it - you give it several very light coats to eliminate the chance of orange peel (and contrary to what you'd do with a solid colour), don't flat it down at all and simply cover with clear lacquer, ensuring you go well over the 'join' between the old and new, flatting down the lacquer much later, if necessary, and providing it is thick enough to take flatting. Just cutting compound is best, and then just at the feathered edges of the lacquer to remove the spatter texture there. That way you're not even touching the metal flake.

Not a bad job, though I say so myself, and even despite the conditions not being optimum - no garage and quite a bit of wind.

The best car I ever rebuilt - literally a nuts and bolts job - was OEG 81F, a 1967 Tartan red MGB. Took me 2 years in between voyages to sea and college time. When I bought it the car had been bodged into a rubber bumper conversion - don't ask me why. I had intended to run it for a few months before rebuilding it, but it was so unsafe that I started immediately.

It was, naturally enough, a labour of love, but she gleamed when finished and fully restored back to chrome bumper. I was totally surprised when, after 2 years and a complete strip-down (engine included), she burst into life on the first turn of the ignition, albeit somewhat lumpily.

I once parked it at my parents' house when my brother and his kids were there too - imagine my horror when I caught one of my nieces shoveling slow off the bonet with a spade! She thought she was doing me a good turn.

I documented the rebuild in the MG Owners' Magazine and, on the basis of some comments I made, they instituted my 5 point condition criteria for cars sold in the magazine, with slight amendments. I was bloody proud of that car.

Eventually sold it to a neighbour for £1,800 when I bought a Lotus Elite that needed some work doing on it. All told, it cost me more than that to restore it. Always wondered what became of it.

Friday, 20 May 2016

Adding People to Brands

I think it's about time we redefined company accountants - especially the people who do your expenses. Henceforth start calling them Adding Person and see what reaction you get.

I was watching a video yesterday where Martin Lewis was telling people to choose a brand The problem is I can't think of one lower than those we already use - Lidl for food and charity shops for clothes. Any advice gratefully received.

Thursday, 19 May 2016

Trains & Phantom Phone Syndrome

Went to London on Tuesday for a business meeting. Can anyone explain to me the logic of a Circle Line tube train that goes to Hammersmith? Since time immemorial the Circle Line has been just that - a tube line that goes in a circle around London. Now the powers that be define Hammersmith as part of the Circle Line. Never mind about tourists being confused, so was I.

Got on the train at Paddington and found my pre-booked seat, only to be confronted by  a gargantuan man in the seat next to me who thought it was fine to spread the contents of hos bag over my seat, thereby reserving it for himself. Naturally, I glowered at him and proceeded to put his bag contents on his lap. He glowered back, but acquiesced to my unspoken demand and then settled back into his reserved seat. However, he got off at Swindon, whereas the seat was booked to Bristol - it wasn't even his booked seat!

I've been having some strange sensations of late - I keep getting a vibration on my leg in the region of my left hand trouser pocket. I keep thinking it's my phone vibrating on silent, but there is no phone in my pocket. I'm calling it phantom phone syndrome.

Apropos of yesterday's post; if the Brexits  are so concerned with their self-determination and freedom, why the hell is the turnout for the European elections the lowest of any election? It's only now they come out in their droves. The reason is that the EU hardly affects them in their daily lives. It appears to me that they are clutching at straws, citing sovereignty and suchlike, in order to avoid having to say they actually hate bloody foreigners.

Also, out of 73 seats, we have 24 UKIP MEPs - that's 33% and the largest party. If the complaints are that we have little influence in the European Parliament, why the hell are people voting for candidates who have absolutely no commitment to the EU whatsoever and simply want us out. You can thank UKIP MEP voters and those who didn't vote at all for the lack of influence - the very  people who complain about it.

Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Freedom & Self-Determination

Been hearing a lot on social media from those intent on voting out that they want to retain their self-determination and freedom. Freedom to do what, exactly?

Below is a popular OUT meme on Facebook:

This begs the question of how the EU has thus far impacted the self-determination and freedoms of the average British citizen. Here's my assessment:
  • The freedom not to have the EU moniker on your driving licence or your passport has been one freedom that must have severely affected a lot of people. Can you imagine the restrictions that has placed on them?
  • People must really resent the foreign-inspired 5p levy on a supermarket plastic bag.
  • As for being told how to dispose of your old fridge - a severe curtailment of your right to dump it anywhere.
  • Those anti-freedom eco light bulbs are simply demonic!
  • As for mobile phone roaming charges, how dare the EU force mobile phone companies to get rid of them and make consumers pay less?
  • Paying less for European products due to being in a Free Trade Area - now that's a very serious curtailment of our national freedom to pay more!
That's about it - unless you can come up with some more ways in which our freedoms as individuals have been eroded.

I do have some sympathy with the eco light bulb argument and that could sway me toward Brexit...

Self-determination is largely a myth, as rights are given up when we vote in any democratic election, whether that be at local or national level. Majority rule is a denial of self-determination, and that is the dominant form of government within the UK. On the continent, however, there are many countries within the EU that use proportional representation - which arguably enables a higher degree of self-determination.

As long as the costs of remaining a member are not seen as excessive in relation to the benefits accruing from membership, there is a reasonable chance of the federation system of government succeeding. I don't see the above costs being too great. Where federalism can fail is where the federation is multi-ethnic, but ethnically speaking Europeans are the same as us.

In a way the UK, and England in particular,has conquered the rest of Europe already - the vast majority of Europeans speak English as a 2nd language and it is the international language of diplomacy and business and IT.

As for the meme above:
  1. Participation is not a surrender of your right to govern yourself, as demonstrated above,
  2. Ironically, the IN vote depends on the turnout of the young, who are overwhelmingly pro European and not as reactionary as their parents,
  3. Surrendering control of communal life, finances, land, resources and borders is just risible and not even worthy of comment - project scare hyperbole, as demonstrated above. I ask anyone to outline how these have been affected since we joined the EU.
  4. While the senior staff of the Commission are indeed unelected, so are bureaucrats almost everywhere, including those in your local council and in Whitehall. And those staff – as well as being appointed by the elected governments of the member states, and being subject to confirmation in their positions by the elected European Parliament, and having to report regularly to the EP – cannot make final decisions on EU law or policy. Those decisions are made by the Council of Ministers (consisting of ministers from the elected governments of the member states) and the elected EP). The idea that there is a European government in Brussels with independent powers is nothing more than a myth. Perversely, a federal European superstate is the perfect answer to the criticism in the meme.

Tuesday, 17 May 2016

Delia is For Brexit

Delia is a closet Brexiteer, it has emerged. Read this from Delia Online about meringues:

"The proportion of sugar is always 50 g for each egg white. So, for 3 whites weigh out 175 g caster sugar onto a plate and have ready a clean, grease-free tablespoon."

She's obviously using the Brexit definition of 3 x 50 without reference to the rebate to sugar the pill. Not only that, but she neglects to tell you how long to cook the meringues for - a total lack of a plan.

It has been said that Hilter was fond of a meringue or two...

The Electoral Commission brochure for The Vote arrived in the post yesterday. I must say that based purely on visuals, which count so much today, the In Vote blurb looked more attractive than the Out Vote. The Out page was all in red, which has Loony Left connotations. Perhaps an unintentional marketing faux pas in an attempt at making it stand out.

Also the Out page was still using the discredited £350m a week figure. That goes against them, as it's the most easily verifiable figure and any basic search will show it up to be being economic with the actualit√©, as they say. It immediately makes you doubt the whole lot - the old lawyer's trick of homing in on the fallacy to discredit the entire testimony.

Monday, 16 May 2016

The Multiverse of Weddings


Chairman: "What is the exact definition of a sociopath?"

Hay: "Well, someone who doesn't like people or social occasions to the extent it can interfere with their life."

Chairman: "So you mean just like us - normal?"

Hay: "Yup!"

We're homing in on the wedding outfits. Hay  is going for an ASOS wedding dress for £48 - and very nice it is too. I suggested a Carmen Miranda style headpiece comprising bananas, oranges, a pineapple and some other assorted fruit. Hay thought just a single, whole pineapple fascinator would suffice, or else a few tins of fruit salad.

I shall be sporting an off-white linen suit in the manner of Sir Les Patterson. That will require sleeping in it the night before, no tie, a white shirt with grubby collar and a few food stains down the front - not a difficult look for me to achieve, believe me. I was toying with the idea of a badger onesie, but that may be a touch too casual.

Something to think about: somewhere in the quantum multiverse, there already exists a world with Boris as PM and Farage as his enforcer....  It makes you shudder. As for Boris comparing the EU to Hitler, I think he's gone completely off his trolley now and is clutching at straws.His comparison lacks some coherence, as the EU is not gassing minorities, conducting blitzkrieg warfare, attempting to annexe western Russia nor sinking millions of tonnes of shipping in the Atlantic. I don't think his statement will help him, except maybe to get the BNP even further on his side.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Eurovision Pensions

Well, I opened the BBC News website this morning to find the Eurovision Song Contest had come and gone without me even knowing. I was aware something was taking place, as a friend is closely involved and  regularly posts Facebook articles about it, but I was under the assumption is was some interminable vetting process that led up to the actual contest taking place later in the year. I have not heard a single song or indeed know who represented the UK.

The TTIP deal is now the cudgel in the IN/OUT debate, the logic of the OUT camp being that TTIP risks the NHS. However, in its current form, it is very unlikely that the deal will be sanctioned by the EU, as many countries are are concerned about the effect on public services which are not wholly public - not least among which is France, which has one of the largest public sectors in the world.

So, the choices are:
  • Stay in the EU, with a near-zero chance of TTIP, (in its present form) succeeding, or
  • Leave and have Cameron (or Boris) pursue their own version of TTIP with the USA, bearing in mind that the Tories are the ones being accused of dismantling the NHS and wanting to sell it off. It should be noted that Cameron is in favour of the agreement as it is currently written and Labour are in such disarray that they don't stand a chance at the next election.

It's a bit like the Turkey issue and the chances of the entire population of that country descending on the UK in the very unlikely circumstance that Turkey makes the necessary changes to permit EU membership, something it has said it will not do.

Opened a notification from one of my pension companies yesterday to find the value of the fund had declined by 2.1% over the last 12 months - and that's in a reasonably stable market. Another reason for not voting out - I don't want my pension funds being hit even more by the potential for market instability, although I think the level of household debt in the UK is going to bite us all in the bum shortly, whatever happens on the EU.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Spotted at the Pub

Went to the local pub last night for dinner. Spotted this in the car park as we were leaving:

I know we live in a rural area, but that's taking it to the extreme...

Forgot to add a few more conspiracy theories being put about by the Brexiteers - Carney, the IMF, the FT, the LSE and the Economist are all in the pay of the EU and do their bidding. Seeing what Brexiteers write, half of them couldn't even do a weekly shopping budget, let alone understand economics at its most basic level, They're like religious fanatics - no matter what you say to them or what evidence you put in front of their noses they won't change their minds and stick to the discredited mantras. Their decision is not made on the basis of reason or analysis, but something more visceral, primitive and deeply unattractive. Politely point out their errors and you get a mouthful of abuse and told in no uncertain terms that you're wrong, for no other reason than they don't believe you - and never will. I'm at a total loss to understand what they don't understand about the effects of uncertainty (due to the singular lack of a plan) on markets, investment, jobs and the economy. What magical deus ex machina are they relying on to buck the almost a scientific fact that uncertainty is bad for an economy?

I can only put it down to xenophobia and a poor education, both of which tend to go hand-in-hand in people who would cut their noses off to spite their faces. Of course I'm not speaking of politicians here - they just sense a bit of political opportunism, although that's deeply unattractive too. The language used on social  meda is deeply offensive, inflammatory and very abusive, such is their hatred of the dastardly and corrupt Johnny Foreigner. They hark back to the lost days of Empire, warm beer, cricket on the village green and Maypoles (while drinking lager, driving German or French cars and shopping in Lidl or Aldi) and when the world kowtowed to Britons. They simply can't come to terms with the fact those days are long gone, never to return.

Talking of religious people, on Thought For the Day on Radio 4 yesterday (what with it being Friday the 13th) I heard the Bishop of somewhere or other (he sounded a bit Bath and Wellsish, but I could be mistaken) talking about superstition. The words pot, kettle and black came to mind. The words religion and superstition are synonymous in my lexicon.

Some psychiatrist in the USA (who is apparently renowned for peddling pseudoscience) is pronouncing that thinking yourself transgender is a psychological disorder. In saying this he's going against the conventional psychiatric consensus, but consensus is not always right. However, even supposing he's right, there's not necessarily a 'cure' for it - you just have to look at Trump voters (and Brexiteers) to recognise that. No amount of evidence, fact or just plain logic will change their minds. Perhaps their condition should be registered in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) - Trump Dissonance Syndrome?

Friday, 13 May 2016

Carney's Roasting

Mark Carney has put the cat amongs the pigeons and the Brexiteers are furious, resorting to ad hominem attacks.

I saw nothing 'hysterical' about his pronouncements - in fact I'd say the Brexiteers are becoming shrill and hysterical - some are even foaming at the mouth. Carney merely pointed out the glaringly obvious:
  1. There is no plan for the eventuality of an Out vote.
  2. No plan means uncertainty.
  3. Uncertainty means risk.
  4. Investors and markets don't like unpredictable risk.
  5. Risk means investment will dry up until there's a plan.
  6. Investment drying up (even for a short period) means no or even negative growth.
  7. That results in job losses.
And that's even before some businesses pull out of the UK to relocate to the continent to be within the single market. We all know 50% of our exports are insurance and financial services - and just how patriotic these industries are - not.

It's part of Carney's job to assess risks to the economy - that's what the Governor of the Bank of England does. It's his bloody job, as the politicians huffing and puffing with righteous indignation know very well. His job, and that of the MPC is forecasting, and whether his forecasts are accurate or not, the effect of Brexit is a no brainer to anyone with a basic understanding of the effects of uncertainty and risk on markets.

It's all very well saying that everything will be roses in the event of an exit and many countries exist quite well outside of the EU, but the elephant in the room is that they were never part of the EU and then came out. It's a unique event that is likely to cause an economic jolt or at the very least a readjustment - countries that have always been outside of the EU have never suffered such a readjustment.

The comparison with Norway just isn't valid either - the surplus on Norway’s current account with the rest of the world is estimated at NOK 55 billion in the 4th quarter of 2015 - Norway doesn't actually need the EU as it exists on well managed oil reserves which bring in enough to negate anything the EU might do and additionally provides the best social care in the world.  

The only good that could come out of Brexit is that the pound will fall, possibly offsetting any tariffs imposed by the EU (especially if currency speculators get in on the act) and negating job losses, but conversely, anything we buy from the EU (which is more than what we sell to them) will be more expensive.That may facilitate a Buy British drive and an improvement on the balance of payments. However, no-one on the Brexit side is saying this, as it's tantamount to admitting there's no plan and that chaos will reign, and that's heresy in their eyes.

Meanwhile we keep seeing the entirely false claims of £350m to the EU every week, the entire population of Turkey migrating to the UK, most of our laws are set by the EU, our fathers and grandfathers didn't fight and die for this (patriotism being the last refuge of the scoundrel and the politician).

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Cheap is as Cheap Does

Been wracking my brain over the provision of some form of entertainment for the wedding.
  1. Can't stage an EU In/Out debate among the guests, as it'll be all over by September,
  2. A band - but it's about £500 for a mediocre one and over £2k for a good one,
  3. A sword swallower may make the guests gag during the meal,
  4. A stage hypnotists may produce unwanted embarrassments,
  5. Comedians are quite expensive and don't tend to do a single 20 minute set.
Some low-cost ideas please.

Oh dear, that's my sales and marketing head speaking - what I mean is some cheap ideas please.

Have you noticed that while some industries shy away from using the word cheap, it's is used with abandon in the insurance world? Cheap seems to be more prevalent in generic, undifferentiated and commoditised markets.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Customer Service Trade Deficit

Overheard while calling Adrian Flux Insurance:

Pre-Recorded Voice: "Your custom is important to us, We at Adrian Flux treat you as an individual."

10 minutes later.

Pre-Recorded Voice: "Your custom is important to us. We at Adrian Flux treat you as an individual."

Spotted this on the BBC News website yesterday:

So if the EU favours the wealthy Duncan Smith, why is he so against it?

The Leave campaign is saying; "The UK's trade deficit with the European Union is at a record high ahead of the EU referendum in June. The facts are clear - we buy much more from the EU than they buy from us. We are their number one customer. This puts us in a very strong negotiating position if we vote to Leave in the forthcoming referendum - a free trade deal is definite."

Now call me simple or call me stupid, but if you're European and the prices of UK goods go up by 10% due to them having tariffs imposed on them, would you continue to buy British, or would you buy from a European supplier? There's not much we make or provide that's unique to the UK.

There's also the little fact that 50% of our exports are insurance and financial services. Does anyone think the notoriously fickle and self-serving finance industry will remain in London and not move to Frankfurt? The only thing that would convince them to remain in London would be tax concessions.

Also, and most importantly, I don't think European politicians give a toss about the UK's custom - it's not the customers in the EU making the decisions and I can't see concessions being made for the UK which could feasibly lead to the complete breakup of the EU as others jump on the bandwagon.

Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Save a Few Bob

I don't use mouthwash - but there again I don't have that many teeth.

The BBC News website has an item today about how GSK uses shock tactics to advertise Corsodyl - you know, the advert where a woman dreams she's losing her teeth. Corsodyl uses 'chlorhexidine digluconate, an antibacterial agent also used in other generic mouthwashes'.

Now GSK has spent millions on the advert, which is obviously passed on through the price of the product. Given the active ingredient is the same as in 'other generic mouthwashes', just use 'other generic mouthwashes' and save yourself a packet Simples!

Some of things you can ditch as being valueless, according to Imperial College, are flossing, cough syrup, pro-biotic yoghurts, calcium pills and fish oils.

Monday, 9 May 2016

The Town Hall Effect

Well, Hay and I walked into Chipping Sodbury Town Hall on Saturday to have a look at the craft fair being held there and walked out having booked the place for a wedding in September. How random is that?

It has a licence for weddings, facilitates receptions, has a bar and is very Cotswoldy. Perfect venue really - can't think why we didn't latch on to it ages ago. We've been searching for a venue for most of this year, fully intending to get hitched sometime in the summer, but finding a suitable location, without breaking the bank, has been a thorn in our side. The local registry office in Bristol is hideous and accommodates no more than 5 people at a time and is also the Job Centre.

We've set ourselves a very small budget, as we have another cabin to build, so between £2~3k is our limit for everything. I have no truck with these fancy venues where you shell out £3k before you've even thought about food and booze. People spend far too much on weddings these days and seem to use the cost as a status symbol. I also want to set an example to my kids.

Wedding presents? Think I'll start a list at the nearest Mercedes breakers' yard for Mercedes 500SL parts.

Sunday, 8 May 2016

A Tale of Two Mercs in the MN

The Daily Mail is peddling its usual nonsense again. Headline story about a Merchant Navy cadet joining ISIS and his 'high-level skills and exhaustive knowledge of the nation’s shipping fleet represented a terrifying security threat after he fled to Syria'.

The bloke was a cadet, for God's sake, and reading the story he didn't even finish his 4 year course to become a junior officer, never mind about doing the remaining 8 to gain a Master Mariner's certificate of competency. How the hell that makes him an expert is beyond me. He poses no more of a threat than a similar cadet in the Pakistani, Saudi or Iranian Merchant Navy. In fact he's no more of an expert on the UK's merchant fleet (which doesn't actually exist anyway) than a forecourt attendant is about the inner workings of the oil industry.

500SL arrived yesterday and was added to the stable:

Sadly, the 300SL has to go once it has an MoT.

Some slight work to be done on the 500, but not a lot - fiddly little things like finding some buttons that only seem to be available in the USA. The seller was less than honest about some of the faults, but if you know where to look then the parts are readily available. American breakers seem to be willing to dismantle components to sell tiny items, whereas British ones aren't and make you buy complete assemblies; however, shipping costs from the USA are hideously expensive, so it's swings and roundabouts. Pulls like a train and I'm very pleased with the price paid.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Strength and Weakness of Cars

Despite the division between Sunni and Shia Islam, Islam's strength is unity; the West's weakness in the face of Islamification and radicalism is its disunity and the Little Englander mentality. Pull up the drawbridge, hunker down and hope for the best. This is something worth bearing in mind when considering the EU vote - strength in unity.

Had my first taste of Uber while in London this week. Rather than stand there hoping for a black cab to trundle past and not know when a free one was available, I had a taxi within 2 minutes and no cash changed hands in the cab. I'll be using it more frequently in future.

On the subject of cars - what with these driverless cars that are on the horizon, does that mean yet another nail in the coffin of the husband? It could make insurance for teenage drivers affordable once more though.

The 500SL is going to be delivered today at around 2pm. Can't wait - although I hope it doesn't get stuck in the traffic for the Badminton Horse Trials, which are being held just up the road this weekend.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Christmas Children

Trump backs Brexit - that should be a welcome boost for the vote IN campaign.

Our Christmas tree has had children.About 15 years ago a neighbour planted his small, rooted Christmas tree in what has become our garden. It's now some 30 feet tall and regularly showers us with cones. 

I collected some of these during winter to use as firelighters - the shape and natural oils make them excellent firelighters for the wood burner.

 During the drying process they gave up thousands upon thousands of seeds, which I planted a few weeks ago. They sprouted over the weekend:

Perfect for planting (when of suitable size) around the cabins to provide some privacy and landscaping.

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Overheard in the Chemist

Chairman: "Hello, I can't remember whether I ordered a repeat prescription last week. Could you just check for me?"

Chemist's Assistant: "I'm afraid I can find nothing in the box for you."

Chairman: "Damn - well it was my Alzheimer's medication."

Funny look from Chemist's Assistant...

Got the train to London yesterday for a couple of days of meetings and spotted a chap on the platform at Bristol in shorts with two prosthetic legs. I was intrigued by the artificial legs, which seemed to be powered, and struck up a conversation with him. He told me they had microprocessors and pistons, which provided shock absorbency and aided stability, but they didn't provide full mobility, as evidenced when he had to lever himself up into the train. When I asked him how he came to lose his legs he said Afghanistan. It was good to see how technology is keeping people such as him out of wheelchairs.

One of the chaps I was meeting yesterday was an Israeli (I never seem to shake them off) and following the meeting, my colleague and I offered to take him to dinner, but as an observant Jew, it had to be a kosher restaurant. Not a problem in London, you'd think. The first one was closed for some reason, so we had to head into West Hampstead from near the IoD in Pal Mall. There was security on the door of the restaurant and it was like going through airport security. The food was delicious, but with the exception of halibut and red snapper, there was no meat on the menu - lots of salads and dippy things. I left feeling as hungry as when I entered and today is the 2nd of my 5/2 skinny days.

The visit to London reminded me why I left London to live in the country. I thought the Congestion Charge was meant to reduce traffic in London - it's much busier that I remember it from 20 years ago. The Congestion Charge has resulted in precisely nothing - it's just another tax, although I suppose it has reduced the number of poor people driving into the city. Traffic is usually self-limiting anyway, as, if it takes yo forever to reach your destination, you simply won't use a car in the first place.

Voting in council elections and for the PCC today. I have no idea about any of the candidates in either, with the exception of Sue Mountjoy, the current PCC for our area, and that's only because she's on TV quite a lot. I have no idea at all whether she has produced any positive benefits for the area. We need a PCCC to give us some statistics.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Farming Propaganda

Spotted a Facebook post maintaining 58% of farmers are voting OUT. The poll was conducted by Farmer's Weekly and comprised 577 farmers who responded.

If you look up how many farmers there are in the UK you'll find this:

"Despite the relatively large number of farms in the UK, the majority of the agricultural area is farmed by a much smaller number of farmers. Some 41,000 farms (~14% of the total) are larger than 100 hectares and account for over 65% of the agricultural area."

Now on that basis there are roughly 292k farms in the UK - and that's just farms and not farmers. But assuming it's farmers then Farmer's Weekly's claim that the overwhelming number of farmers are voting OUT is based on a self-selecting group, not a scientific representation, comprising 0.02% of possible farmers (and not all readers of Farming Weekly are necessarily farmers - they could be people who sell things to farmers and hence have a vested interest in knocking out the EU competition), That's not a poll, it's propaganda.

It's also exactly the opposite of what the NFU maintains.

Be careful of misleading headlines and spin, on both sides.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Sharia Law in the UK

I  saw a Facebook post the other day calling for the closing down of all sharia courts in the UK. The comments comprised the usual array of foam flecked, rabid, Daily Mail invective about Christians not being allowed to build churches in Saudi and sharia law having no place here. For a start I doubt any of the commentators are Christian, and secondly they show an alarming ignorance of the function of sharia courts in the UK.

The Muslim Arbitration Tribunal (the first sharia count to function in the UK) is a form of alternative dispute resolution which operates under the Arbitration Act 1996, which is available in England. It is one of two services (Islamic Sharia Council is the other) for Muslims who wish to resolve disputes without recourse to the courts system. In that manner it's the same as any other arbitration service, and calling for its closure is the same as calling for the closure of any arbitration service, such as ACAS, and heaping everything on a court system already at breaking point.

I think the people calling for UK sharia courts to be closed are under the impression they are meting out hand amputations and beheadings. Nothing could be further from the truth - they're merely a much cheaper alternative than the UK court system. Anyone can disagree with their rulings and still go to the UK courts, if they have tonnes of money.

Monday, 2 May 2016

SL Kitty Igloo on the BBC

Made it to Wrexham and back in under 7 hours and bought the 500SL. The previous owner is delivering it next weekend on his way to Devizes. It's not as pristine as my 300SL, but it won't take much to get it up to scratch. Looks like the 300SL will be going on eBay shortly. Anyone want to  buy a spotless 1994 Merc 300SL for £5k?

The curious thing is that there were 12,000 R129 300SLs made, which, when you consider the 75,000 production run of the R129 500SL, would make you think the 300 is worth more from a rarity perspective, but the 500SL is much more highly sought after. Just shows that rarity is not always the determining factor in value when it comes to classic cars.

The government has told the BBC not to air popular shows at the same time as independent TV's hit shows as it adversely impacts their advertising revenues. One could be tempted to think the government is trying to destroy the BBC, or at the very least some government members have shares in the independent channels. Surely not?

Hayley bought Kitty an igloo.

It has been located amongs the oak beams upstairs, which is her favourite vantage point.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Bank Holiday Traffic for Red Ken

Just for the record, Ken Livingstone is right. Anyone who actually bothers to check the facts of the Haavara Agreement will discover this, but not those who use the knee-jerk reaction of calling everyone and anyone racist at the drop of a hat. Having worked for an Israeli company and having numerous Israeli friends, I am fully aware that there's almost what amounts to an industry in Israel that works toward the end of blackening the name of anyone who criticises Israel in any way,shape or form.

I was made aware of the EUMC working definition of antisemitism yesterday - was never even aware of it before. If you read it carefully, there are a couple of items that should give cause for concern. The ones I'm dubious about are:
  • Denying the Jewish people their right to self-determination, e.g., by claiming that the existence of a State of Israel is a racist endeavor.
  • Accusing Jewish citizens of being more loyal to Israel, or to the alleged priorities of Jews worldwide, than to the interests of their own nations.
With regard to the first bullet; Nazism and the invasion of countries with large German speaking populations was predicated on German self determination. Self determination can take many forms, and if it entails denying certain people recourse to law, discrimination in education or ownership of land, then I take issue. The US State Department (amongst others) have leveled such charges against Israel.

On the second bullet - what if someone actually is more loyal to Israel than their country of citizenship? Weren't the Cambridge spy ring guilty of allegiance to a country other than their country of citizenship and accused of being traitors because of that?

When all's said and done, you don't have to be Jewish to support Zionism, and some Jews are anti-Zionist. Being anti-Zionist is not being antisemitic. Antisemitism is also a word I have problems with anyway - just try looking up a definition of Semitic. Arabs are Semites.

Definitions can be such tricky things - one man's terrorist is another's freedom fighter...

By the time this post is published I'll be in Wrexham viewing a nice 1993/4 Mercedes 500SL. Spotted it on eBay last  weekend and thought to upgrade my 300SL after being given a ride in one about a month ago by the bloke I bought my SL300 from. The difference is phenomenal. The only problem is that the 500SL never came in red. The saving grace of this one is that the interior is beige, which is infinitely better than the usual black.

I chose today as it's likely to be the least busy day for traffic during the Bank Holiday. Famous last words.

Watch this space.