Wednesday, 30 November 2016


Someone put this conundrum on Facebook recently (you have to determine which tank(s) are full first) and it brought an old joke to mind.

A chap was walking along a canal and spotted someone  on the other side fall in and start to flail around in the water. The poor chap obviously couldn't swim and was in danger of drowning. Suddenly another chap dived into  the canal and pulled the drowning chap to the side, dragged him half out of the water, such that his lower half was still in the canal, and started to administer Holger Nielsen resuscitation (an old technique that's no longer used). Well, water came pouring out of the half drowned chap's mouth, and kept pouring out, and kept pouring out. The first chap who had witnessed the whole event looked a bit pensive and then called out to the rescuer; "Excuse me. I'm no hydrodynamicist, but it strikes me that unless you get that chap's backside out of the water you're going to pump the canal dry."

Ref yesterday's paradox: could it be that May is waiting it out for enough Labour voters to drain to UKIP (as paradoxical as it may seem) so the 17m Brexit voters are evenly split, with neither Labour nor UKIP being a large enough threat in their own right, and then calling a snap election on a Remain platform and calling for the LibDems to join her in a dash for first past the post?

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Political Paradox

UKIP's new leader, Paul Nuttall, says the Labour Party is split. He's right - but UKIP, a party that's essentially right wing and hoping to attract left wing Labour voters (which I'm sure it will), will also be riven from top to bottom between right and left wing views within its growing membership. The only subject that unites them is Brexit; what are they going to do about the deficit, the NHS, education, climate change, taxation, transport? All these issues divide the left from the right. Am I the only one who sees UKIP essentially as a paradox?

That's not to say Labour and Conservative aren't also suffering from the same paradox. The LibDems are, to a certain extent, immune, as it's difficult to be simultaneously both far left and far right if your position is essentially in the middle ground.

Are we about to see UK politics polarised between isolationists and anti-isolationists, with the rest of policy - the bit that actually affects everyone far greater than the EU - in a permanent muddle, causing total and utter political confusion? The LibDems could emerge as the only party without a split personality and a coherent policy. We are indeed living in interesting times.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Christian, Cuban Oppression

A female Christian teaching assistant is claiming discrimination against a school for telling an autistic pupil that she disapproved of gay marriage. It was in response to a question from the pupil. The school maintains the assistant did not present a balanced view to an impressionable 14 year-old. I find it ironic that this woman is claiming discrimination for a view that is in itself discriminatory. I just wonder what the teaching assistant's view about disciplinary action would be if another, say Muslim teacher had told a pupil, when asked about his beliefs, that it is a woman's role to be subservient to men or that Jesus was not the son of God? Except in the context of religious studies (in the multiple and not the singular), schools should not be a platform for religious expression. She should have politely told the pupil it was none of his business.

Been thinking a lot about Castro - ruthless dictator or the saviour of the Cuban people? Whatever your opinion, beyond any shadow of a doubt, he was the product of American support for the corrupt Batista regime; without America there may have been no need for a Castro, or indeed a Guevara. If the charge of ruthlessness sticks to Castro, it must equally stick to America. Castro gained control of a fantastically corrupt and dirt-poor country, provided the population with universal education, healthcare and jobs and the Americans were out to get him by any means possible, including exploding cigars and depilatory unguents to make his beard fall out - could he have been anything other than ruthless when his enemies were American backed? American 'democracy' had failed miserably and the place was ripe for communism.

He does have a touch of the Liam Neesons about him in this famous photo. In others he has an air of Brian Cox - the actor, not the physicist rock star. Image is indeed a strange thing - the enduring image from the Cuban Revolution is not Castro, but Guevara, who was there for a nanosecond and then moved on - a revolutionary rock star.

Sunday, 27 November 2016

British Mobility Christmases


Hay: "On my last trip to Nice I was told by two people that I look like Emma Thompson."

Chairman: "You look nothing like Emma Thompson. There again, the British all look alike to foreigners."

I  wonder how long it will be before councils have to widen pavements. Once we're all in mobility scooters there won't be room to pass or overtake.

When you think what Christmas comprises, it's basically a weekend off work and a Sunday roast. Why the hell does it take some people 4 weeks to organise it? When I was in my 30s I wondered why my parents did less and less each year for Christmas, reaching the point where they didn't even bother with a tree. As I get older and into my early 60s I'm beginning to realise why, but in my case it's nothing to do with being disinterested in Christmas, but more the mass hysteria that now surrounds it. Perhaps our capacity for hysteria is the same as decades ago, but modern technology affords a greater ability to become hysterical.

Hay and I went to a town-edge DIY superstore yesterday to return some unused paint and buy some light bulbs, but came home again when we could find absolutely nowhere to park in a normally two thirds deserted car park - Christmas shoppers were using it as an overflow for the town centre car park, which was gridlocked. 

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Smart Meter Diet Advice

I've been taking daily electricity readings for the last 3.5 years in order to see how much I'm using versus the electricity generated. Yesterday we had a smart meter installed - and of course it was set to zero. I'd neglected to take the old meter reading before the switch, so my readings for yesterday are all squonk now. On the positive side, I realised I'm paying less for electricity than I thought.

Looking forward to my new panettone diet - Lidl has a price discount!

Advice from the Chairman - if you don't have the readies to pay for somethingin the sales, don't buy it. Better still, don't buy it anyway - you probably don't need it.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Animal Candle Underpants

Overheard while watching The Supervet:

Chairman: "There's a symbiotic relationship between man and dog, unlike man and cat, which is totally one sided."

Hay: "A bit like man's relationship with woman."

Black Friday. What a load of over-hyped nonsense. No doubt the unsustainable national credit card debt will notch up by yet another few points today.

I finally got my IKEA mail order candles on Wednesday. 4 of the 6 large candles arrived broken in the middle. 5 days now for them to respond (according to the website) and then another 10 day wait for the new delivery (assuming they're not broken too) and I may just get them before Christmas.

Hay ordered kitchen and bathroom tiles by mail order last week in separate consignments. All of them arrived broken - to give the firm their fair due, they replaced them all and gave us a 10% discount, but they can't be making any profit on that. It happened with the tiles for first cabin we built too.

Do you remember in the 50s and 60s your mum insisting you went out with clean underpants in case you were involved in a traffic accident and had to go to hospital? I always imagined some form of underpants triage taking place at hospitals with the nurse saying; "He hasn't got clean underpants on - put him to the end of the queue. I blame his mother"

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Representation of Safeway

No taxation without representation was a mantra of the nascent USA. In the USA a company is treated as a person through the concept of corporate personhood. In EU law, corporate personhood is established via certain 'human' rights, but without many of the drawbacks. Corporations can claim the right to a fair trial, which not only effectively enshrines their current equality with real people before the law, but means that, for example, corporations cannot be made to incriminate themselves, which may allow them to conceal relevant documents in criminal cases.

Here is an interesting read on the subject in pdf form from Corporate Watch.

The question is, if corporations are accepted as persons, should they be allocated a vote, especially on issues which will affect them more than the average person, such as Brexit, for example? Analyse and discuss.

Health tourism is estimated to cost the NHS £500m a year. When considering how this could be reduced, one has to consider what percentage could actually be recovered (some may not be able to pay and others may simply not pay and skip the country) and the cost of policing/recovery. 

I hear Morrison's is to relaunch the Safeway brand.  Isn't that a bit like rebranding comprehensives as academies and expecting improved results? We've got two of these academies within about 5 miles, and they both need improvement, according to Ofsted. A bit of a damning indictment on ideologically driven policy.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Gemütlichkeit Blood & Cinnamon Girls

What's our fascination with German markets at Christmas? They're popping up all over the show. The Bath one starts tomorrow and has been a feature for many years, but I'm buggered if I ever saw a stall manned by your actual Germans.

They should just call them Christmas markets. However, it could be said that our Christmas was a German invention that the Victorians latched on to. Christmas trees, cards, gingerbread, cinnamon, cloves, etc.

Giving my 15th donation of blood to the Blood Transfusion Service on the 29th. If you're reasonably fit, I would urge you to donate, especially at this time of year when we know there will be many road accidents, and especially if you're O- (apparently they're short of O in general and O- in particular). I'm O+, which makes me what's called a Universal Donor, meaning my blood can be given to virtually anyone without an adverse reaction.

Bringing the two subject together....

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Patented, Globalised Candles

That's the last time I ever order anything to be delivered by IKEA. Bought some large candles and a bunch of tealights ready for Christimas; total order value was something like 40 quid; delivery 10 days. I wouldn't mind, but we have one of their stores not 7 miles away. Should have spent an hour over the weekend going there instead.

While we were having our weekend walk, Hay and I discussed what we'd 'invent' if we were to go back in time some 600 years with today's knowledge. Hay opted for a simple form of food preservation; I  chose electricity before realising I'd first need to invent patent lawyers. Supermarkets would be a good idea and instead of calling it Waitrose, I'd call it War-of-the-Roses, complete with a swords and armour essentials aisle.

Going back to the issue of globalisation leaving people behind; the Industrial Revolution and the British Empire were the largest ever globalisation projects, They were both British and benefited only a few (but not necessarily just those at the top of the pile), but a whole new middle class of entrepreneurs and administrators was created.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Sunday Assembly Roadkill

I  was listening to an item on Radio 4 yesterday afternoon about the Sunday Assembly - for want of a better expressions, an atheist church. All the community benefits associated with traditional church, but without the God aspect, the irrational metaphysics or the desperate need for certainty in an increasingly uncertain world.

There's no doubt that the church was once the focus of community life, but since the decline in belief and the associated decline in churchgoing, nothing has really filled the social void. Social isolation, especially among the old, is a big problem, but if you're not religious you feel out-of-place in a church.

Sunday Assembly is a neat concept which addresses community cohesion in the face of a decline in belief, much in the same manner as the local village hall. The traditional church is constantly fighting a battle to save its fabric, as is the local village hall - all coming from the same community pockets. It's a pity these two community efforts can't be combined within a single, shared building.

The problem with any new movement, however, is longevity. Without a charismatic leader, organisations tend to fizzle out after a while. Sunday Assembly really needs to capture the current popular zeitgeist by having snazzy uniforms (perhaps in a fetching black and silver) and injecting some catchy slogans like; ''I Want My Country Back'. Perhaps there's even a role for a charismatic leader, like Nigel Farrage...

Went on our usual Sunday walk yesterday and came across some roadkill in the verge of one of the little-used country lanes.

Must have been at least 3 kilos. Poor thing obviously had an altercation with a car. Hay and I took turns to carry it as it was so heavy - we called  it a training marrow...

Not sure why Hay was so insistent on taking it home - I hate marrow.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Freezing Mum & Dad

Cryogenic freezing, in the hope of there being a cure for whatever killed you in the first place. Not that I believe it will ever work, but the legal implications for wills is a minefield. Imagine your parents coming back to reclaim the inheritance!

Hay says she couldn't stand having to look at my frozen head in the freezer every day either.

Saturday, 19 November 2016

Coffee Envy in the Big County of Yorkshire

I'm certain this DeLonghi Nespresso machine I liberated from work when we had to close down our office in Southampton is costing me a fortune in pods, even though I use the el-cheapo Lidl pods. However, a couple of espressos in the morning is so seductive, as well as keeping part of Europe alive in our house (and keeping me bouncing around the room).

After having seen the Led Zep tribute band, Whole Lotta Led, the other week, Hay asked me whether there was a tribute band festival - and bugger me, there is - TribFest in Yorkshire!

Talking of The Big County - was watching The Sons of Katie Elder on TV; why is it that the theme of the film (and other films, like The Big Country), having lots of strings and brass, came to be associated with cowboy films in the 60s? I suppose it all changed with The Good, The Bad and the Ugly genre, but for a time it was full orchestras, which you don't tend to get on cattle drives.

Friday, 18 November 2016

The Magic Roundabout

You know those people who insist on using the inside lane of town centre roundabouts to go straight ahead? I'm starting to get quite adept at forcing them to keep going round the roundabout for a full loop once they realise they have to use their car as a dodgem to nudge me out of the correct lane.

It's guaranteed to happen to me at least a couple of times a week. At one particular roundabout it's caused by queues on the run-up to go left due to traffic lights within 100yds of the roundabout exit, so those in a hurry dodge into the right-hand lane to try and beat the traffic and go straight ahead. A dangerous practice.

Remember the mystery yellow road sign from last week? Here it is - any  guesses?

Thursday, 17 November 2016


When I was a kid the only form of shampoo was the super-concentrated sort - it was called soap. Similarly, when I went to sea, unless you brought a suitcase of your favourite shampoo with you (which was impractical) you used soap. Shampoo was almost unheard of at sea.

It was only on eventually coming ashore that I was gradually seduced by the various women in my life to adopt shampoo, as they said they preferred my hair to smell of bubblegum instead of a carbolic soap factory. 

Shampoo is the soap company's way of getting you to part with more of your money than is strictly necessary.

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Ritual Slaughter

Been seeing a few posts on Facebook about banning Halal slaughter, with some vociferous comments that appear to be based more on Islamophobia than concern for animal welfare.

There was a very famous experiment conducted in the 70s by Wilhelm Schultz of Hannover University which concluded that ritual slaughter produces no pain, whereas bolt stunning did and our views are clouded by the feelings for people, not animals:

"Not all is what it seems, then. Those who want to outlaw Islamic slaughter, arguing for a humane method of killing animals for food, are actually more concerned about the feelings of people than those of the animals on whose behalf they appear to speak. The stunning method makes mass butchery easier and looks more palatable for the consumer who can deceive himself that the animal did not feel any pain when he goes to buy his cleanly wrapped parcel of meat from the supermarket. Islamic slaughter, on the other hand, does not try to deny that meat consumption means that animals have to die, but is designed to ensure that their loss of life is achieved with a minimum amount of pain."

That's borne out by the number of times I've cut myself, quite deeply, without even being aware of it until I saw the blood over the floor. Admittedly that was a cut vein and not an artery, but can it be so different?

However, a more recent study by CB Johnson in New Zealand concluded the opposite, but the literature is littered with the word 'likely':

"The precise assessment of the point after slaughter at which non-stunned animals become insensible remains a major methodological challenge. In sheep it is at least 2–8 seconds, but may be 8–20 seconds in duration. In cattle the mean duration is similar, but can commonly be extended to longer than 60 seconds with occasional instances of even greater durations. Taken together, these findings indicate that because the slaughter of cattle, sheep and goats by ventral-neck incision without prior stunning is likely to cause pain, this poses a risk to animal welfare."

The Roman senatorial class' preferred method of committing suicide at the invitation of an Emperor (which couldn't be refused) was to sit in a warm bath and slit one's wrists. People having seen this method of suicide have said it was peaceful.

If you were to be topped, which would you prefer - slit an artery with a razor sharp knife and drift off, or a violent bolt on the head before being butchered? I suppose you could argue that expectation would colour your view. I think I'd prefer exsanguination - I don't know of anyone who has suffered a rugby concussion who didn't say it hurt.

There are undoubtedly good and bad slaughterhouses on both sides of the divide, and nothing should allow such slaughterhouses to survive.

Here's an interestsing paper on the subject so you can make up your own minds.

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Globalised Racism

Who are these people who we're being told have been left behind by globalisation? We have the lowest unemployment statistics in over a decade, for heaven't sake, What has undoubtedly happened is that successive Conservative governments have cut benefits in the name of austerity, which could feasibly be laid at the door of globalisation and the irresponsibility of financial markets.

Is it possible that the jobs that have been created are the wrong kind of jobs, that the remaining unemployment has now been super-concentrated at the unskilled end of the market? When you think about it, all progress leaves someone behind; the hunter-gatherer was left behind with the invention of farming; the manual labourer was left behind with the industrial revolution (hence the Luddites); mass production left many unemployed and the digital revolution is leaving the unskilled behind. However, how can that be addressed? You certainly can't turn back the tide of progress and things can't be uninvented. Reducing the benefits of those left behind certainly can't be the solution, but training can. The problem remains that training requirements can't always be predicted in advance of seismic changes in progress.

Changing tack - are we all racist at heart, under the right (or rather wrong) circumstances?

There have been many attempts to link racism to education and/or income, but while there may be a prima facie case, correlation is not necessarily the same as causation. Closer scrutiny has shown that rich, educated people can be just as racist as some poor, uneducated people. Conversely, many poor, uneducated people are totally devoid of racism.

Could racism be more to to do with proximity to immigrants? If you're middle class and educated or live in the countryside, you are more likely to be insulated from immigrants and as a consequence not see them as a threat - let's face it, you wont find too many immigrants in leafy suburbs or country villages. Live in an urban sink estate, however, and you're more likely to be living cheek-by-jowl with them and see (real or imagined) threats to jobs, culture and security. The result is that most middle class and countryside people view immigrants quite dispassionately and as a consequence could fallaciously believe themselves not to have a racist bone in their body - nothing has arisen to challenge their laissez faire view on race. Change their circumstances and you could end up with a rabid racists. There, but for the grace of God, etc...

That's not to say, however, that there aren't wealthy racists living in rural villages, but that's more to do with warped ideology than fear. Perhaps the racism expressed by some may not be a belief in the generic superiority of their race at all, but a genuine and justified fear of a very small community that gets exponentially extrapolated.

Monday, 14 November 2016

The Man Bag Wines of BT

The Village Hall Committee decided to convert our disused local phone box, which was in a rather shabby state, into a defibrillator station. Hay and I spent a shift yesterday with grinders and wire brushes, helping to prepare it for a repaint (paint kindly supplied by BT).

On Saturday night the Friends of Old Sodbury Church held a dinner and wine tasting event in aid of the fabric of the church. We, along with some friends, attended. The wines were superb and introduced by a vintner from Bath.

Our friend, Dave, from across the road, had brought his man bag, which prompted a comparison with the contents of the ladies' bags.

There was no contest. Whereas the ladies (top two photos) had just 3 or 4 items each (keys, phone and lipstick at most), Dave (bottom photo) had a cornucopia of man-detritus which was simply staggering in quantity:
  • A wallet,
  • A change pouch,
  • Credit card wallet,
  • A password book,
  • Several computer cables, 
  • Spectacle case,
  • A miniature laptop,
  • A phone,
  • A packet of tissues.
I think that was it, but there could easily have been a kitchen sink in there that he kept hidden.

I can heartily recommend the following wines from the tasting (although not that much of a tasting as a serious quaffing):
  • Chateau Laulerie - Circus Molleux Cotes de Montravel 2015,
  • Leyda - Merlot Reserva 2015,
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle - Reisling 2014,
  • Chateau Ste. Michelle - Cabernet Sauvignon 2014Vigne e Vini - 12 e Mezzo Negroamaro del Salento 2012,
  • Leyda - Sauvignon Blanc Reserva 2016 (yes, 2016 - but southern hemisphere).
There was a Prossecco too, as well as another white, the name of which escapes me.

Sunday, 13 November 2016

Analyse and Discuss

The poppy is causing some controversy, what with poppy-shaming, some taking umbrage with the Royal British Legion accepting donations from BAE Systems (an arms manufacturer), white poppies, etc. Are any of the following better than another (in no particular order):
  1. Buy a new poppy every year and wear it, 
  2. Buy a new poppy every year, but don't wear it,
  3. Buy a white poppy and wear it (I don't think anyone who buys a white poppy doesn't wear it),
  4. Shame someone for not wearing a poppy,
  5. Buy an expensive poppy once, which can be worn every year, or
  6. Not buy a poppy, but simply share a picture of a poppy on Facebook or a blog?
The above begs the question of whether the poppy is purely a symbol or a fund raiser for ex servicemen - or both, but with one aim uppermost?

Does the Trump win, and his subsequent policy back-peddling, merely confirm that Machiavelli was right and that some will say anything to obtain support and achieve power by making false claims and promises, using arguments based on prejudice and emotion rather than reason?

Is a rich, American plutocrat, who used inherited wealth, actually a member of the very 'Establishment' he claims to seek to overthrow?

Liberal elite - is that simply a pejorative term for people who have used education to achieve a position of affluence and/or influence and challenge right-wing dogma?

Should the wishes of the sizeable 48% who voted to remain in the EU be taken into account at all when deciding the nature of Brexit, or does a slim majority of 4% justify a hard Brexit?

Had the referendum result been the reverse, should the vote of the Leavers have justified remaining in the EU with no attempt whatsoever at reform?

Analyse and discuss.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Mystery Armistice Road Sign Tablets


Chairman: "We could spend the evening playing Leonard Cohen songs on Youtube."

Hay: "OK - I'll get the razor blades and Diazepam."

I can't think of a single member of my family who died in either WWI or WWII. The Dutch side of my family skews the stats somewhat, as Holland was neutral in WWI. However, the British side of my family was huge, although mostly women, which may explain a lot.

Coming out of one of our local roundabouts there's a mystery traffic sign. A yellow background with a black arrowhead and black spot. Haven't the vaguest idea what it means. Can't even find an image of it on Google. Any ideas?

I see Trumps is already back-peddling on some of his election commitments. Seems the candidate for change is for changing. I wonder how long it will be before his supporters desert him and he's labelled as yet another establishment stooge. There's even talk of him being impeached for something - anything (instigated by Republicans) - in order to put Pence in the White House.

Friday, 11 November 2016

Globalised Kitty Expressions

Kitty seems to have three expressions:
  • I hate you,
  • I really hate you, and
  • Please feed me.

The Trump win and Brexit are being interpreted by some as a reaction against globalisation by those who feel dispossessed by it.

Globalisation is the process by which businesses or other organizations develop international influence or start operating on an international scale. Part and parcel of this is  increased global trade and looking beyond one's own borders. With it comes jobs.

The irony in the case of the UK is that the Brexit supporters maintain that business that's currently conducted with Europe on an FTA basis will simply be replaced by business with the rest of the world - surprise, surprise, on an FTA basis. So, they're not replacing globalisation, but just swapping partners in that globalisation process.

In the USA they've just taken power from "The Establishment" and handed power to a representative of "Big Business", and Big Business is just as much part of The Establishment as politicians are. Again a paradox,

I don't think it has anything to do with a reaction against globalisation and everything to do with baser instincts.

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Rage Against the Machine

First Brexit and then Trump. Pundits were utterly confounded by both, having naturally assumed that voters would vote in their own best interests. Recent events, however, have shown that method of forecasting is no  longer applicable and people are paradoxically, and incredulously, voting against their self-interest as a last resort in order to he heard, even to the extent of biting the very hand that feeds them.

It's as if this is the only means available of changing the status quo - the overthrow of the established order. In both America and the UK this is being achieved by utilising a selfish egotist, apparently without an ounce of compassion, who actually seems to revel in that deficit.

It's being interpreted as Trump and Farage being handy and convenient tools to express frustration with the system. A societal revolution is possibly taking place before our very eyes - but what will follow? Demagogues thrive in such environments by whipping up the angry mob - and a mob is unpredictable, as well as notoriously fickle. It can just as easily turn on those who seek to manipulate it, as lies and deceit are the tools of its trade.

However, what is the problem with the system that needs fixing? What complaint isn't being listened to? I can't help feeling that within certain sections of the electorate it has rather a lot to do with fear of 'others' and their encroachment on what's seen as one's territory (ref yesterday's post). Too much too fast, perhaps? If that is the cause in the USA, then it's rather ironic, since America was founded on mass immigration. A friend in who lives in the USA reported yesterday that Confederate flags (the totem of right wing, white supremacists) are now appearing on front lawns and pickup trucks.

In the UK it's undeniable that immigration features high on the list of UKIP voters, no matter how the argument is dressed up in the figleaf of easily refuted 'economic' rhetoric, and despite unemployment being at the lowest level since 2005 (thus leaving the 'coming over here and taking our jobs' argument dead in the water). As Leon Trotsky once said; "If poverty was the cause of revolution, there would be revolutions all the time".

Another factor is in play too and it's centred on what's now termed 'peak ME! and the narcissism explosion' "I know my rights. Meh - I'll show you, Mr intellectual, I don't need experts!" The cluelesness among some sections of the population is simply breathtaking; the cult of ME and individualism; the selfishness and self-centredness; the utter disregard for others; the demonisation of the judiciary; the infantilisation of culture; the unanalytical and anti-intellecual expressions; narcissistic photos on social media; vicious comments on certain newspaper comments sections; the deification of the Kardashians; unsustainable credit card debt; terminal cynicism; the constant desire for more 'stuff'.

This is finding expression in the school uniform argument, the images of mothers pushing packets of chips through school railings for their children, the number of pushy parents challenging their children's exam results, the rise of violence against teachers by both pupils and parents, the increase in ludicrous conspiracy theories (e.g. climate change), the rage against alleged corrupt elites (despite little or no evidence of such corruption), etc.

Within some sections of the population the balance between rights and responsibilities has become weighted heavily in favour of rights, with almost no focus on responsibilities, civic or otherwise. Many fall into the trap and psychological crutch that threatens all people who see themselves as oppressed; not just one's social circumstances, but all one's own personal faults, weaknesses and vices come to be blamed on the alleged oppressor. It's not my fault, guv!

One is reminded of the eve of the French Revolution, the manner in which Hilter came to power, the Roman Praetorian Guard placing utter incompetents on the imperial throne in exchange for gold. None of it ended well and tremendous carnage ensued and, when it was over and the dust had settled, what replaced it was certainly not the Utopia that was dreamed of - the old order merely came back wearing different clothes. Elites can't be eliminated, we rely on them, by default, to keep order because we just can't be bothered.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

I Want My Country Back

A dark day for the world. The unanalytical, xenophobic, fearful, lunatic ascendancy is increasingly controlling our future. Trump had better beware as there are no more scapegoats. Buy gold!

If history has taught us one thing, it's that populist government doesn't work. Given he thinks NATO a waste of American money, the idea of a European Army ain't so daft now, but we won't be in it.

One wonders if the seat of government will be moved to the Trump Presidential Palace.

I want my country back is a phrase we're hearing rather a lot these days, on both sides of the Atlantic. The problem is it's not your  (or my) country exclusively. Man has migrated since he first popped out of the African savannah - the land he (and she) migrated to wasn't heaven-ordained as his - the lands of the earth belongs to us all equally.

What is now England once 'belonged' to the Celts, then it 'belonged' to the Romans before passing on to the Angles, Saxons and Jutes, then the Scandinavians and then the Normans. Each were temporary custodians and more followed with waves of people seeking sanctuary from persecution.

I  wonder if the descendants of the Celts who were pushed to Wales and the extremities of Cornwall want their country back? Or if the American First Nations want their country back? Or if Maoris and Aborigines want their countries back?

Remember, man is part of mankind.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Ghost of an Independent Judiciary

Let's get this straight - ghosts cannot exist.

Reports of ghosts include people, dogs, cats and horses, but never cows, sheep or other farm animals, or even dolphins, gnats or fleas. Why should that be? Because ghosts are a figment of our imaginations and our imaginations don't usually consider cows or dolphins to be close to us. Dogs, cats and horses, however, are pets and thus close to us. Farmers should possibly see ghostly flocks of sheep or herds of cows, but you don't hear about it.

Look at it another way. Ghosts are meant to be the spirits of the dead, yet they invariably appear fully clothed - are these spirit clothes? Does the ability to transform into a spirit extend to inanimate matter - not that a dead body is animate anyway, but you get my drift? Can a whole bloody coach (and horses) transform into a ghostly coach (and horses)? Can a car transform into a spirit car? If literally anything can transform into a ghost then there should be ghostly towns and cities right next to us, interacting with us on a daily basis, which there clearly aren't.... Oh, I forgot about Dursley.... and Birmingham.... I've changed my mind... ghosts exist.

How can one guarantee the independence of the judiciary? A tall order, as everyone has a bias. The only sure way has to be using Artificial Intelligence programmed with all case law, constitutional law, etc., etc.. Not as daft as it seems and the legal profession is a ripe target for the replacement of humans by AI. However, how can you guarantee that the program hasn't been fiddled with or that the AI system doesn't itself become biased over time? It could become a classic case of who polices the police?

Making the judiciary subject to democratic accountability has its problems - the danger is that it becomes the creature of the mob, and those who lead the mob - the press barons. Given how influential the media is in the voting preferences of the UK electorate, the prospect of the media barons having similar populist influence over the selection of judges fills me with untold dread.

Some states in America have a retention system whereby unpopular judges can be voted out. The criticism is that money can talk to the electorate and fund misinformation campaigns to remove judges thought to be prejudicial to the funding organisation's aims. A famous case was Justice Rose Bird. The anti-retention campaign was financed with seven million dollars raised mostly in small contributions from individual citizens affronted by Chief Justice Bird’s obstinacy on the issue of capital punishment. She and her colleagues spent over four million dollars countering this, most of it contributed by lawyers faithful to the principle of judicial independence. The campaign of misinformation against her was politically motivated and orchestrated by Republican politicians up for re-election with the aim of making the Californian Supreme Court predominantly Republican.

Whatever is said, the UK justice system ranks in the world top 16 for civil justice and top 10 for criminal justice, as well as ranking extremely high for the absence of corruption.

It's a bit ironic that the Indian PM is seeking to link a trade deal with immigration. I can see that setting a bit of a precedent in negotiations with other potential trade partners and Brexit becoming a self-fulfilling own goal. Mrs May is definitely on the ropes; she's alienating Brexiteers by seemingly stalling and she's simultaneously alienating Remainers by not vigorously defending the judiciary - no wonder she doesn't want an election. However, as an early election is the only way of resolving this, she's even alienating those who don't care one way or the other and just want this whole business behind them.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Close the Bloody Door

I walked into a local branch of Clarks at the weekend and I'm starting to get a little upset about these shops that have wide open doors and warm air curtains, or air curtains, as I believe they're called. Here's us being taxed to reduce carbon output and shops go wasting energy by heating the street outside.

The Close the Door campaign says that simply closing the door not only contributes towards the national target of a 34 per cent reduction in carbon emissions by 2020, but also slashes a shop's energy usage in half. The research suggests that if all retailers followed their advice UK energy usage could drop by 2.5 per cent.

The retailers' argument is that they'd lose footfall and hence profits. I'd like to see some analysis of potential lost profits verses the cost of the additional electricity through a trial.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Whole Lotta Hipster Led

Was watching Peter York's programme on iPlayer about Hispters - seems I'm officially a Hipster.
  1. Beard - but had it since I was 16 and it's not Victorian in dimensions,
  2. Tattoo - only one though and not an armful,
  3. Recycling,
  4. Upcycling,
  5. Shop for clothes at charity shops,
  6. Bake my own sourdough.
I'm horrified, although I'm certain I'm far too old to be a Hipster.

The reason for driving into Bath on Friday night was to see  Led Zep tribute band Whole Lotta Led. Excellent evening. If they're playing near you, they're well worth going to see. I took these video exerpts.

Audience were mainly of a similar age to myself, although there was a spinkling of younger aficionados, Even Hay managed to  overcome her abhorrence of tribute bands and was quite impressed with them.

Saturday, 5 November 2016

Squaring the Circle in 4 Weeks

Overheard in the garden:

Colin: "Won't be here on Monday as I have to go to my uncle's funeral. He was 58, looked as healthy as you or me and was dead of cancer within 5 weeks."

Chairman: "If he looked as healthy as you, I'd have given him 4 weeks."

Later when driving into Bath:

Chairman: "Shall we park by The Circus? Is it called The Circus - you know, that round square? Well, it's not exactly square, it's a circle, but a square can be round if by a square you mean a grassed area in the middle of some houses...."

Hay: "I think you should stop there before you disappear up your own backside."

Friday, 4 November 2016

Capability Colin

Water pipe connected and buried, new power supply cable laid and covered - Capability Colin was busy as Hell yesterday.

So the Brexit plan has to be laid before Parliament and we have our country back! Parliamentary sovereignty rules, which is exactly what Brexiteers were arguing for. Two civil wars were fought over this very issue in the 1600s - Parliament had issue with the Royal Prerogative.

The only real way to decide this is through a General Election but, given most Tories are anti-Brexit, it would be a brave move by May to call one. What would be the Tory manifesto pledge be? It's an utter mess and all caused by Cameron pandering to his right wing and not paying attention to the consequences. No  wonder he resigned.

It's certainly true we were taken into the EEC illegally, hence Wilson's retrospective referendum. However, even that was illegal as we weren't in the EEC in the first place.

That said, Parliament is sovereign in this issue, and rightly so. Whether we end up out or in, mob rule is not something I relish.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Mobile Electrickery

A report has found corruption at the top of Jacob Zuma's government. You don't say! That comes as a complete surprise to me and the rest of the world.

Went to Great Yarmouth for a business meeting yesterday and called in at Reading Services on the way back for a coffee, where I spotted  the Daily Mail on the paper stand. It transpires its staff (I hesitate to use the word reporters) snapped 17 foreign truck drivers on their mobile phones within a 90 minute period. I  can't believe for one minute they didn't see any British truck drivers on their mobile phones but, there again, that wouldn't play to their xenophobic gallery quite as well (I think the DM should be rebranded as the Völkischer Beobachter). In my experience of driving, it's usually white van man and women in sports cars who are never off their mobiles. Can't see high enough into trucks to determine whether a truck driver is hanging on his mobile.

2nd cabin has been plastered internally (not that you'd plaster a wooden cabin externally) and the power cable is being laid today.

Couldn't use the power cable going to the first cabin to service the 2nd one, as the load will be too much for the house, so a totally new supply. Might use the new supply for the 1st cabin too, so they are independent of the house should we ever want to separate the house from the cabins in a sale.

The garden is becoming a crisscross of pipes and cables, so we really need to map out all the stuff lying under the soil.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Thruppeny Jurisprudence Weddings

Was watching something on TV last night about the hideous price of weddings and the fact venues increase the price of events when they know the it's a wedding. One apologist said that a wedding requires so much more in terms of emotional support for the couple; isn't that what the family and friends of the couple are for, not someone you don't know from Adam? I suppose if there is to be any emotional support from the staff, it would be limited to the barman.

That old chestnut of sharia courts/councils is back in the news. Lady Cox, a crossbench peer, is a longstanding critic of sharia courts and claims they discriminate against women. She says she receives many complaints from women. Perhaps the British family law system and the divorce courts also need an inquiry into their operation, as there are numerous complaints that they discriminate against men.

No system is perfect and by listening only to those who feel they have been discriminated against you can tend to get a one-sided view. All sides need a voice. I'm sure anyone who has had a judgement against them in any court or tribunal feels they have been unfairly treated.

Only became aware a couple of days ago that a new pound coin is about to be released. Damned thing looks like a thruppeny piece; didn't know the value of the pound had dropped that low. What with plastic fivers, money just ain't what it used to be. Reverting to the Gold Standard would have eliminated the recent fall in the pound but using gold as the currency does have problems; how do you put more gold in the economy to cater for growth? You'd be using gold currency to buy gold with zero gain. You'd have to buy additional gold for minting with something else that you have a surplus of. We could sell our politicians!

Tuesday, 1 November 2016


There's a paradox about the evangelical, religious right in America. On the one hand they have a problem with evolution and yet on the other they tend to practice red-in-tooth-and-claw, Devil-take-the-hindmost, Darwinian survival of the fittest, which in itself is not very Christian. Sometimes I think they removed themselves from the evolutionary process several centuries back.

The quote above if often attributed to Darwin, but he never actually wrote it. That said, it is nonetheless very true.

Was listening to an interview with Alan Bennett last night and he used the phrase: "The drift to the right that comes with age." Now that is so true. I wonder whether it's the increasing rate of social change that causes that - the older you get the more you want things to remain as they were when you were young, hence the more conservative your outlook becomes, and  change has never been so fast.