Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Australia Deal

So Boris Johnson, not satisfied with allowing the Indian (aka Johnson) variant of Covid into the UK in pursuit of an Indian trade deal and delaying 'Freedom Day' (his words), has now negotiated an unscrutinised trade deal with Australia that allows hormone treated beef, produced cheaply on an industrial scale, to enter the UK market. In return, we can sell our higher welfare standard beef into the Australian market at a higher price - good luck with that one.

So much for fighting climate change, what with all the extra food miles that the UK and Australia exchanging a very similar product will produce. Why don't both parties just eat their own beef, rather than sending it, literally, half way round the world, always assuming there's actually a market for higher priced beef in Australia? It seems to be a very one-sided deal.

There are protections for UK farmers, allegedly, but no-one has enumerated these protections, as the deal hasn't been scrutinised in Parliament. That, suggests to me, there aren't any, although we know that tariffs will drop over a 15 year period, which will presumably allow farmers to get out of farming.

Some government flunky maintains British beef farmers will be able to take advantage of this fantastic deal by selling their superior quality beef into Australia. Now, either we're dropping food standards to allow Australian beef in in the first place (in which case our farmers will take advantage of that and follow suit in order to compete with foreign imports), or we're not dropping food standards in order to maintain our beef's quality (in which case Australian beef won't get in in the first place). Someone is telling beefies.

The government has estimated that the deal with Australia would be worth an additional 0.01-0.02 per cent of gross domestic product over 15 years, or £200m-£500m more than 2018 levels. I wonder if this includes the negatives of the effect on our own beef production - I suspect not, as they have a habit of only looking at the plus side of the equation and ignoring the negative. 

Well, that's going to do little to offset the 2.2% drop in GDP from Brexit for this year alone. 146 more of those and we'll actually catch up. That said, it's reported by the government that tractor production is at an all time high.... (that's a euphemism, by the way, and redolent of how the old USSR bigged up bad news).

You know, there's a very simple solution to the Northern Ireland impasse. That is the UK sticking to EU regulations on the foodstuffs causing the problem. Boris can't do that though, as he's boxed the UK into a corner and is hence desperate for trade deals that can only be won by lowering our food standards - Australian beef, American chicken, etc, etc. It's a race to the bottom.

The activities of this government of gentleman amateurs is unbelievable at the best of times. The economist, JK Galbraith, once said; "The modern conservative is constantly engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness."

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Health Mercenaries

Throughout most of history, war has been our No.1 threat. Did we outsource our defence? No, but some city states in Renaissance Italy did - such mercenaries were called condottieri - but it didn't really solve anything and they were in an almost perpetual state of war as allegiances shifted according to who paid most. War was also interminable, as the various condottieri had agreements between themselves to prolong hostilities in a minimally lethal manner so as to maximise profit.

For the last 10 years, at least, it has been recognised, by successive strategic reviews, that the No.1 threat to us is a pandemic. Since 2020 this fact has hit us in the face, hard.

Should we therefore outsource our prime defence against this threat to a third party? That, however, is exactly what we have done by relying on Big Pharma. Isn't it about time that Big Pharma was nationalised in the national interest?

For a strictly more accurate comparison, the military is the equivalent of the NHS and the armaments industry is the equivalent of Big Pharma, and armament manufacture is indeed outsourced; however, our nuclear warheads are developed by the Atomic Weapons Establishment, in which the government has a golden share.

There is the argument that nationalisation causes inefficiency, but one would have to level the exact same argument at our armed forces. That said, removing the profit motive could feasibly result in more diseases being eliminated, and it's also a revenue earner in terms of international sales.

Leaving the development of prophylactics to the free market is no solution; if a drug company has the choice of marketing an anticoagulant that people are going to take for their entire life. or an antibacterial that may be in use for a week, but saves more lives, the choice in terms of profit is simple - the anticoagulant.

Drug development is probably one of the key targets for AI, but we've all had enough of experts, haven't we?

Monday, 14 June 2021

On Yer Bike

Collected the e-bike from the bike emporium on Saturday after its service and having the hub motor and Pedal Assist Sensor fitted. Total cost, £119 - and well worth the expense.

Struggled to get it into the back of the SAAB estate - and struggled - and struggled. What with 29 inch wheels, there was no way it was going to fit. I got it there in the first place in my mate's Berlingo van, so I phoned him to see if he could assist - luckily he could.

The battery is mounted and I've ordered a pannier rack for the controller, as there's nowhere else to put it. I've also ordered a handlebar extender rack for the LED display and headlight.

Total cost to date, including the base bike, is £886 - a lot less than the £1,600 for an equivalent ready-built bike,

The two stroke bike conversion is giving me a lot of problems. For a start, there are three handle grips. One is obviously the throttle and one is a plain handle for the other side, but I'm damned if I know why there are another one having an electrical lead attached to it. Nothing in the instructions explains the anomaly.

Additionally, there are two cables - one for the throttle and the other for the clutch. The problem was that I don't know which was which. The one that logically connects to the carburettor (which I assembled) has an opposite end that doesn't attach to the throttle in any logical manner.

The instructions are useless and the photos accompanying them are just too small to discern what's what. The cable that fits the carb and throttle grip must obviously fit into something else before it connects to the throttle grip - but the instructions don't mention anything.

It was only on my 5th reading of the instructions that I noted the exhortation to fit 'a' kill switch, not 'the' kill switch, which made me wonder if the part I couldn't fathom the use for was the kill switch and the part that solved the puzzle - bingo, it was.

Above is the completed throttle, kill switch and carburettor assembly. The kill switch is essential, as without it there's no way of stopping the engine, except by overloading it with the brakes - not a good idea.

Above is the loosely assembled bike, less drive cog, chain tensioner and chain guard.

Once again, the instructions for the electrics leave much to be desired. Blue to blue and black to black from the coil to the engine makes sense, but there's a free white wire (apparently the generator wire) on the engine side and the kill switch has a green and a white/black wire, although I have no idea what to connect these two wires to. May look for a petrol bike forum for pointers. The fact the connectors don't match up is an added bonus - spade to bullet....

All the difficulties I've had to tackle are due to the seller bringing together parts from different manufacturers using different standards to present a complete package, but without making the necessary changes to make assembly easy. Theoretically, assembly needn't take more than an afternoon, if the instructions were given a bit more thought.

Next comes the most difficult bit - fitting the drive gear on the rear wheel. It doesn't actually fit on the hub, but around it and against the outside of the spokes. Positioning has to be done by eye, spinning the rear wheel to see if there is any wobble in the spinning gear wheel and adjusting as necessary. All a bit hit and miss, but I'll get there in the end.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Strictly Summer Chez The Chairman

The dragonfly nymphs are crawling out of the pond and metamorphosing by the tens; soon it will be in the hundreds. Click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Hay expanded the unmown areas this year, although I'd prefer to tarmac them over, add a mattress or two and perhaps a burn out car as a water feature.

I managed to put the new clutch on Trigger's Ride-On-Mower with the aid of No.2 Son and gave the grounds a quick once over, although Monty Don recommends one shouldn't touch a lawn till July 21st at the earliest in order to give wild flowers and bulbs in the grass (if you have any) time to gather strength.

Against Monty's recommendation, I always leave the clippings on the lawn due to the soil being clay - the addition of vegetation helps to make it a tad more fertile the following year.

And the pond is maturing nicely, despite an outbreak of spyra-gyra, which will disappear as more water plants are added to provide shade.

The edges are still relatively wild, as the spoil from the excavation is heavy clay and will take time to break down into something that plants can be put into and thrive, although Hay has started planting a few shrubs and ground cover plants.

I've come up with a concept to reduce the spyra-gyra - pipe insulation, bent and stapled into circles and covered in plastic. A few of these giant lily pads would cut down the light in the pond dramatically and control algae and spyra-gyra blooms.

Saturday, 12 June 2021

Cummings or Hancock @ G7

There's a choice to be made - either Cummings has told the truth, or Hancock has. Agreed, both might be being a tad economic with the truth, but one has to look at it in the round.

There's no doubt that Cummings was the individual who narrowly brought Brexit over the line, against all predictions, by using lies. However that doesn't mean to say he's lying now, especially when one considers he was being handsomely paid to do a job in the run up to Brexit. He's no longer being paid to lie, nor is he touting for business from this government.

Yes, he told a whopper about the eyesight test, but he was then on the inside the tent looking out and Boris was desperate to retain his services. He's now firmly outside the tent.

Hancock, however, is fighting to preserve his job, which is a great incentive to mangle the truth. His biggest mistake was to insist there was no PPE shortage, which is as blatant a lie as could be told when we all have the benefit of hearing the news at the time and witnessed the dodgy PPE deals, many of which came to nothing, and thus colours his version of everything else he says. He's also part of a government that has weaponised lying as an arm of policy.

I somehow suspect that Cummings has the smoking guns needed to prove his case, but has kept his own powder dry until such time as Hancock was given the opportunity to hang himself in front of the Select Committee, which would make it worse for him. 

My money is on Cummings triumphing and I believe we can expect a steady drip-feed of evidence from Cummings over the next few weeks, in the form of texts and emails. He's a canny operator, when all's said and done.

As for the G7 meeting, I was under the impression that all the horse trading was done well in advance of the leaders descending on the venue by flunkies and that the meeting was merely a jolly and a PR exercise for the media where the results of the deliberations are announced. Yes, there's a bit of social mixing and maybe a few stern warnings issued, leader to leader, but essentially it's all flim-flam.

Friday, 11 June 2021

A Picture of the Queen

So, some post graduate students at an Oxford college (Magdalene) voted to remove a photo of Her Majesty from their common room and the lunatic fringe of the right is in uproar.

It's a common room, not the entrance to the college. It's not an official stance by the college or the whole of Oxford, merely a small bunch of post-grads in one college.

If we're to be told what to hang in our common rooms, isn't that a bit North Korean? They had a vote, after all, and that's called democracy.

I have a suspicion that there's more to this than can be seen at first glance. They're post-grads, so they're not representative of the college. Those who know the college concerned maintain the common room in question is frequented by no more than about a couple of dozen post grads from a cohort of a couple of hundred - a very small group. There is a number of possibilities here:

  1. They merely decided to replace the decor left by the previous inhabitants. Who doesn't change the decor a bit when moving into a new house? It had been there since 2013, after all. 
  2. A large percentage of Oxford post grads are foreign and it's not beyond the bounds of reason that a large proportion are from the Commonwealth and resent a symbol of colonialism in their common room, as stated. 
  3. They possibly are republicans, like myself, who abhor inherited privilege. Why can't I be King? Answer, because I wasn't born into a particular family. It's pure nepotism in an age of supposed merit.
  4. They orchestrated this as a prank to watch the lickspittles run around like chickens with their heads cut off at the insult to Her Majesty. How would anyone have known about the story unless the students released it themselves?  
  5. The students are engaged in a study into how the right wing press manipulates their readers and the results from the study will be published in a year or two, with a couple of the students gaining a PhD from it. This one's highly unlikely, given it's Magdelene College and its specialised subjects, although there is a department of politics.

I wonder how many of those who were commenting negatively actually have a photo of the Queen in their living rooms and, if not, why not? They also probably had no problem with Boris lying to Her Majesty (in my experience of social media, Royal fawners tend to be Brexiteers, Markle haters, those who don't like footballers making a peaceful anti-racist gesture and Boris sycophants).

Perhaps the government should we push for the creation of a new police department that visits our homes to ensure we all have a portrait of Her Majesty on our walls? The Royal Portrait Squad...

Thursday, 10 June 2021

The Bench

A friend on an e-group I'm a member of was crowing about Meghan Markle's new children's book, The Bench, being panned by critics (he's no fan of Markle, for some inexplicable reason). He maintained it was selling at 50% because book shops couldn't shift it.

I did a little searching and discovered that 

  1. It has only been out for a day or two.
  2. It was on a two-for-one deal in a WH Smiths in Newcastle. Such deals are done by the publisher, not the shop. It's a marketing tactic to increase sales and hence interest. 
  3. It was panned by critics in the News Corp press and the Daily Mail - the publications leading the attacks on the Duchess of Sussex and the chief protagonists in the War on Woke.
  4. All other reviews were positive.
  5. It's already in Amazon's top 40 list.
  6. The positive reviews on Amazon UK are all verified purchases.
  7. None of the negative reviews when I looked on Amazon UK are verified purchases - they're negative comments by people who have apparently never even read the book.
Seems the gutter press is leading an assault on Meghan. Nothing new here.

When a review begins and ends with; "A piece of self-indulgent crap," then you can rest assured it's not a review of the book, but someone expressing their hate-filled view of Meghan Markle. 

The acid test is whether your children like the book, not whether you like the writer. I wasn't particularly fond of the literary style of The Hungry Caterpillar and though the plot of The Jelly Monster was somewhat thin, but my kids absolutely loved them and insisted I read them time after time.

I haven't bought or read it, so I'll reserve judgement.

Wednesday, 9 June 2021

Motorhome Plumbing for Bikes

The quality of the plumbing in motorhomes and caravans is appalling. Everything is as flimsy as hell, and bloody expensive to replace, despite being totally unfit for the job at hand.

Over last weekend we experienced a leak around the hot water boiler dump valve - it was either the dump valve itself or the cold water feed connection to it.

I went across to our local caravan and motorhome emporium to get a new dump valve and had already paid for it before I realised I'd parted with 31 quid!

I could have simply used a couple of jubilee clips and a cheap, domestic brass valve, as the pressure is very low.

As it transpired, it wasn't the dump valve itself, but the non-return valve which had come apart. Not being able to find a suitable replacement, I simply Superglued it back together as a temporary solution.

I'm seriously contemplating stripping the entire van of all piping, valves and pumps, replacing same with some decent domestic plumbing that's infinitely more robust and easier and cheaper to fix.

I did some further research on getting off grassy fields in wet weather and came across something called a sand ladder, which is designed for getting off sand, but equally effective on grass and mud. User swear by them.

I bought a set for £26 and they arrived yesterday. They're .made of very robust plastic with one side being rough as a badger's bum and covered in what looks like sand, but is just rough plastic and eminently suited to gaining traction for tyres. The grid-like structure ensures they sink into the grass and don't move. Can't wait to try them out in anger.

The e-bike was dropped off at the bike repair shop yesterday for the motor wheel and Pedal Assist Sensor to be fitted and the gears and brakes to be adjusted. They're closed today, but it should be ready for collection on Thursday afternoon or Friday.

The petrol driven bike has had the aftermarket exhaust fitted, which now requires a tad more adjustment to ensure it stays clear of the pedals.

I'll probably get to work on assembling the carburettor over the weekend, unless the new clutch for the ride-on-mower arrives between now and then - that's a it more pressing.

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Taking a Knee for Crickety Anne

West German Chancellor, Willy Brandt, took the knee in 1970 as a gesture of solidarity, humility and penance towards the victims of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Taking the knee has a long and honourable history in showing solidarity.

Current popular usage began with Colin Kapernick, who took the knee before BLM ever used it. BLM may well have appropriated it since the death of George Floyd, but only in the same manner that the far right in the UK has appropriated St. George's Cross and the Union flag. Does that mean to say we should no longer use St. George's cross, or indeed the Union flag, because of their association with the BNP and Ukip? Dyed-in-the-wool Conservatives would be apoplectic at such a suggestion.

Some on the right are fond of saying that BLM is a Marxist organisation. While it is true than two of the three original founders describe themselves as Marxist trained, it is now a highly decentralised mass movement encompassing many political philosophies from multiple countries, all united by the desire to see social justice for people of colour.

The far right want us to believe BLM is Marxist and will trot out this trope at every available opportunity in order to denigrate it - it's merely an extension of the Culture War, where terms are used without actually understanding what they mean and are cherry-picked for effect. For example, for American Republicans anything not Republican is automatically assumed to be Communist, and this tactic, commonly known as the fallacy of the undistributed middle, is now filtering across the Pond. Nuance is anathema to the Culture War warriors.

Inexplicably, Tory MP Brendan Clarke-Smith compared the gesture to footballers performing the Nazi salute during a 1938 match against Germany in Berlin. How one can veer from Marxism to Fascism is beyond me, but even more surprising is the comparison of a gesture of support for social justice and anti-racism with totalitarianism, when totalitarian regimes have a history of suppressing minorities.

As for booing players who take the knee at an international football match - what is wrong with these people? There is only one, inescapable conclusion, however much they may try to excuse their actions with weasel words. Actions speak louder than words.

They're simply knobs. It's perverse to believe there's nothing more patriotic than booing your own team, believing it's going to improve their performance, especially the black ones. Booing black football players is a well known tactic of racist thugs at matches. 

If you're a booer, ask yourself why you're really booing, especially when it has been explained by Gareth Southgate, in detailed and eloquent terms, that it's nothing to do with Marxist ideology. Do you believe his reason for why team members are taking the knee, or your own warped interpretation? The only people who really know are those who are taking the knee and have explained their reasons. 

One excuse is that sport should not be mixed with politics, but what is international sport? It's international combat without the casualties, and war is, as Clausewitz observed, the continuation of politics by other means. International sport is an avenue for national pride and boycotting sporting events for political aims is well established and successfully isolated South Africa during apartheid.

Let's move on to Jodie Turner-Smith and her portrayal of Anne Boleyn, which is sending the right wing into paroxysms of huffing and puffing with righteous indignation.

The writer, Eve Hedderwick Turner, wanted to portray Anne Boleyn as an outsider, and what better manner in which to do that than having her played by a black woman. This is even more poignant with what's happening with Meghan Markle - a current outsider (for some) whom the right-wing press love to hate (but, of course, it's not because she's the first woman of colour in the Royal Family - or so they maintain).

In Shakespeare's time men played female parts, but no-one complained. Many white actors in film have portrayed characters of a different race - most notable of late is Joseph Fiennes' portrayal of Michael Jackson, for heaven's sake. 

The TV production is a drama, not a documentary. Strict adherence to history is not high on the list of priorities when it comes to film - drama is the priority, else it's very boring. Licence and liberties are taken with dates and the order of events and dialogue is not what was said at the time, which is usually totally unknown. Is there any danger that children in school will be brought up believing Anne Boleyn was black? Highly doubtful, but what if they do?

Ironically, those shouting loudest about historical accuracy have no problem portraying the addition of factual, documented and relevant detail to National Trust properties as 're-writing history' and are more than happy to promulgating a totally false and mythologised narrative about luminaries of the 18th and 19th centuries involvement in the slave trade. Again, a symptom of the Culture War in which the aggressors end up tripping over themselves through logical contradictions.

Lastly, the TV adaptation of the story is art. Art is not always faithful to reality. Show me a film with a maritime theme and I'll pick factual holes in it from now to eternity - it's dramatised for effect and I have to accept that. The history of a National Trust property is factual, not drama, unless you're making a BBC period drama series.

If you're huffing and puffing with righteous indignation, look deep inside yourself and ask why you're really doing it. 

Finally, lets turn our attention to the matter of the cricketer, Ollie Robinson, who sent some pretty despicable tweets when aged 17 or 18. Oliver Dowden and Boris Johnson have excused the Tweets with Dowden saying; “Ollie Robinson’s tweets were offensive and wrong. They are also a decade old and written by a teenager. The teenager is now a man and has rightly apologised. The ECB has gone over the top by suspending him and should think again.”

However, in the case of Shemima Begum, who was younger than Robinson when she ran off to join ISIS, Johnson saw fit to remove her passport and declare her stateless. Both have apologised, but Robinson's apology has more weight with Dowden and Johnson. One wonders why? Again, a case of the missing intellectual consistency - that could be a Sherlock Holmes story.

Some would argue that Begum's crime was worse, but no-one died as a result of her action. The greatest damage was to Begum herself and her family. We don't know what damage Robinson caused, but he seems to not have been averse to a bit of race baiting, which could have made his targets feel devastated.

Both should face the music - Begum should return to the UK and be tried and suffer the consequences of the law, if found to have transgressed it; Robinson should be subject to an investigation and, depending on the result, should possibly suffer a short period of suspension. Most professionals are suspended during an investigation, and that period of suspension while the investigation is under way may be enough. Just accepting an apology at face value, however abject, is not the right message at a time when racism is on the rise in sport, especially as he was also released by Yorkshire in 2014 for what his coach, Jason Gillespie, called “consistently displaying behaviour that isn’t professional”. 

So much for a government that maintains it's fighting racism. There again, Rory Stewart said of Boris Johnson; "Johnson is, after all, the most accomplished liar in public life - perhaps the best liar ever to serve as prime minister. Some of this may have been a natural talent - but a lifetime of practice and study has allowed him to uncover new possibilities which go well beyond all the classifications of dishonesty attempted by classical theorists like St Augustine. He has mastered the use of error; omission, exaggeration, diminution, equivocation and flat denial. He has perfected casuistry, circumlocution, false equivalence and false analogy. He is equally adept at the ironic jest, the fib and the grand lie; the weasel word and the half-untruth; the hyperbolic lie, the obvious lie, and the bullshit lie."  

The Conservative led and gutter press-abetted Culture War is a nothing more than a war on decency and an attempt to take us back to the good old days of the 1960s.

If you were to tell me where you sat on a single one of the issues above, I could almost guarantee to tell you where you sat on the remaining two, as well as issues such as Brexit, cutting foreign aid, refugees, ignoring the Ministerial Code and a host of other contentious issues.

Monday, 7 June 2021

An Injection of Cash

Let me get this straight: Boris Johnson is organising the G7 meeting at the Carbis Bay Hotel in Cornwall this week in order to inject some much-needed money into the local economy. His words, not mine.

For starters, it's very hard to get a booking at the Carbis Bay Hotel, or indeed any hotel - the rooms can be sold many times over in the high season, so no gain there. If they were to be booked in the low season, then there's a good argument that it would indeed inject some cash into the local economy. It's a simple question of supply and demand - if accommodation is in short supply, then there's no additional money; if there's an excess of accommodation, then it is indeed a welcome boost.

Secondly, it's highly unlikely that the G7 delegates would be availing themselves of the local facilities in St Ives and distributing their largesse - the security would simply be a nightmare. I can't really see Angela Merkel or Emmanuel Macron Go Karting in Hayle or playing Crazy Golf in St Erth, much as it would be hilarious. They'll be ensconced within the security ring for the entire week, so no economic gain there. Your average Joe Punter certainly would be spreading some lolly locally.

Thirdly, those who booked the hotel would expect a huge discount for the block booking - discounts not available to the average punter who has been shut out of the venue. I suppose there is an outside chance than the owner of the hotel is a member of Boris' Chumocracy and is being allowed to charge an exorbitant room rate in return for a donation to the Tory Party, but I think it unlikely. Actually.....

PC Penhale might get some additional overtime, but that's unlikely to transform the economy.

Talking of the police, it has been reported that some 130 homeless people have been turfed out of their council-funded accommodation to make way for the extra police that will be drafted in from other areas. So, that is an injection of cash, but at a cost to the local homeless people. Given this was temporary accommodation for the duration of the Covid crisis, you could argue this would have happened anyway to make room for paying guests.

No - this is merely another of Boris' meaningless PR stunts that he hopes the public can't see through. It's almost as if those advising him have never actually run a business before.

There is an outside chance Boris will persuade the other 6 world leaders and their staff to have a go on the UK's longest zip wire at the St Ives Holiday Park. He has previous in this respect.

There again, we may see the emergence of the Carbis Bay Hotel variant of Covid.

Sunday, 6 June 2021


We had an emergence of dragonflies from the pond on Friday, which is strange, as I thought they spent a couple of years underwater as nymphs.

Not the best photos, but these are the husks they left on stalks of grass after breaking out of their nymph bodies. I find metamorphosis absolutely fascinating.

Above is a live one in the process of metamorphosing and below is a dragonfly sunning itself after having broken out.

Saturday, 5 June 2021

Exhaustion on the Intake


Chairman: "This spiral bannister is getting a bit of a patina on it."

Hay: "You have a patina about you - especially on your white T shirts when eating. A similar patina to Sir Les Patterson."

The 3rd party exhaust for the motorised bike has arrived.

We're away in South Devon in the van for the weekend, so No.2 Son has been left with the mission, should he chose to accept it, of attaching and routing it so it clears the pedals.

I was going to leave him the objective of building the carburettor, but I think that's best left to me. I don't think anyone in the household, except me, has ever seen a carburettor, let alone built one from a box of bits.

I checked with the local bike repair shop yesterday and they're prepared to put the Pedal Assist Sensor and motor wheel on the e-bike before they set to work on tuning the gears and brakes, thus ensuring I won't ruin the work I will be paying for by installing the parts after the tuning. Seems a bit of a cheat, but it's entirely driven by pragmatism.

I've noticed that there's a sudden upsurge in the number of bikes available on Facebook Market - there are some really good bikes at very reasonable prices. Seems many of the people who bought bikes during the lockdowns are now divesting themselves of them.

Friday, 4 June 2021

Mis-Selling Delta Variants

What's with this new nomenclature for Covid strains - Delta variant? Does that mean we have to steer clear of people recently arrived from the Galaxy's Delta Quadrant? Naming a variant after its source country at least gives you a clue to keep clear of anyone recently arrived from that country. Naming a variant after the country where it fist evolved also, in light of the government's confusing travel information, also lets you know which countries on the Green List to avoid. 

The argument, apparently, for using Greek letters is that naming a variant after where it developed gives rise to xenophobia - another Greek term. No, it doesn't give rise to xenophobia - the xenophobia was already there, in Xenoland. Bastard Kent people and their bloody variant!

I was listening to LBC the other day and the discussion concerned the lack of catering workers and au pairs from the EU. Some wag phoned in and complained that rather than moan, we should all work together to make Brexit a success. I was desperate to ask him how one exactly makes rabies a success? Working together to make Brexit a success is code for asking one to simply shut up and stop reminding those who voted for Brexit what an idiotic choice they made, and there's nothing anyone can do to make it a success, except work to rescinding it.

Have you been mis-sold a government by this man?

You may be owed thousands of pounds in compensation!

On 'Have I Got News For You', Cummings was apparently shredded for being the person who put Boris in position as PM, but they're completely wrong. If I and many others could see though the lies, why couldn't the rest of us? It's the people who voted for Boris, despite the evidence of their eyes and ears, who are responsible, not Cummings.

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Piano Trike

On Saturday No.2 Son and I went to Lee Bay in Devon for some kayaking. After a couple of hours on the water we took a walk along the SW Coast Path to Ilfracombe for something to eat.

While wandering through the streets I heard a girl singing accompanied by a piano and, on turning a corner to where she was, I saw this:

A piano trike.

No.2 Son had some cod and chips while I had Cheesy Chips a-la Ilfracombe. Hideous!

No attempt, whatsoever, to melt the cheese!

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Bike Tales

Bloody hell! I noticed that a couple of drops of Superglue had dripped on to the polycarbonate lens of the headlamp I'd crafted for the e-bike. Rather than spoil the ship for a ha'poth of tar, I took it apart and rubbed the inside of the lens with 1500 grade wet and dry paper to sand off the glue and smooth it out and then rubbed it with rubbing compound to shine it up.

There was still a small amount of residue from the rubbing compound on the lens, so I wiped the inside and outside of it with something called tar and glue remover - a petrochemical derivative that's used to remove road tar and decal glue from cars. Bugger me - it melted the surface of the lens, fully clouding the inside AND the outside!

Back to square one, but even worse. Had to go through the whole procedure again, which took me the best part of an hour, but I managed to get it shining again.

I've booked the e-bike base cycle in at the local bicycle emporium to have the brakes and gears all checked before the build to ensure I have a sound and safe base to work on, but the bloke there can't work on it till the 10th June. However, it dawned on me that having had the bloke fiddling with the brakes and gears, I'm only going to have to mess with them again when installing the hub motor. Not only that, but I want him to investigate a clicking noise from the crank, which I will have to dismantle too in order to install the Pedal Assist Sensor.

I came to the conclusion that while the bike is being serviced, I may as well get them to install the hub wheel and the PAS, thus saving me a job and the potential of me cocking up all the good work they'll do. All that would be left for me would be to install the controller and throttle. A bit of a cheat, but pragmatic.

Now for another problem - Hay experienced an unexplained leisure battery drain on the motorhome at the weekend and I'm damned if I can find the cause - and we're due to go away in it again on Friday. I'll have to perform some diagnostics later today.

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Assorted Bikes

Made a start on putting the 80cc, 2 stroke engine on my 'other bike'.

The instructions are reasonably lucid, for a Chinese product. I suspect the UK seller has made his own - they sound like they're compiled by someone who went through the motions, yet there are differences between the model the seller worked on and the kit I received - it's as if the manufacturer pulls bits together from different suppliers, but some of the suppliers change their part's spec without informing the company that sells the complete kit. 

Anyway, here's a photo of the start, with the fuel tank, engine and exhaust mounted into place. Next is to build the carburettor, which came in a bag of bits that need assembly.

The exhaust needs some more consideration, as it doesn't fully clear the pedals without some bending and looks stupid, so I've ordered a 3rd party, flexible exhaust pipe for £29.99 that is easier to re-route with the right clearances and extends much further back beyond the rear wheel hub - like this:

And here's the finished mototrised bike. Obviously I've added some paint and a few, small embellishments....

I modified the cover for the e-bike headlight using a soldering iron to cut the casing to fit the LED torch and glued the torch into place. Works a treat and is very bright.

The brackets, however, are unsuited to mounting it on the forks - not enough space on the forks - so I've ordered a couple of cheap, 90 degree brackets to mount it on the handlebars. 

You might ask why I removed the original bulb and used an LED torch. It's because the headlamp in 12v and the bike's power supply is 48v. The LED torch has a mini-USB port (the orange tab), so I can charge it easily,

I trial-fitted the battery pack yesterday, which uses Velcro straps, but leaves much t be desired. I think I'll have to construct something more secure, like a box that I can screw to the frame.

The e-bike base is going to the local cycle shop today before the build to ensure everything is in working order and tickety-boo. That'll take a week, as they're overburdened with work at present.

Monday, 31 May 2021

Oh Dear, Toby

Toby Young, a rabid right political commentator and agitator, has been crowing over the resignation of the Chairman of the National Trust, Tim Parker, who resigned because he stayed on longer than his allotted term because of the Covid Pandemic.

Young maintains Parker resigned because his petition to remove Parker for the crime of Wokeness had been a victory, despite attracting no more than 50 signatures among the 6m NT members. If that's a victory, it's one of Dunkerquesque proportions.

Young Tweeted; “Let’s hope this sends a message to the heads of other national institutions who pander to anti-British, leftwing activists and ignore their patriotic, small c conservative members: Get Woke, Go Broke.” What an arrogant little man! So he and his ignorant ilk are the only true patriots? This can only lead to one place - a very dark one of Trumpian proportions. He may be howling at the moon from atop a gatepost, but there are those with bulldog avatars and swastika tattoos who lap it up.

The War on Woke is taking a few outliers and generalising them as typical - cherry picking is the technical term, or generalising from the specific. Woke is being aware to social injustice - poverty, inequality, racism, sexism, etc.

If I were to ask you whether these issues concerned you, I guarantee that under pressure you'd say they do - to do otherwise would remove your right to call yourself human or caring. However, that makes you just as Woke as me, no matter how you try to divert attention from your own ideology's failures by railing against imaginary enemies, protecting statues of people you've never heard of, worshipping flags, banging on about patriotism while behaving like a proto-fascist or whitewashing our history to eliminate the nastier, but historically accurate bits. 

The political right has been an abject failure at protecting us from real enemies and therefore invents enemies to protect us from - the usual tactic of the demagogue when he's floundering in a sea of incompetence of his own creation. Scapegoats must be found, whether they're Jews, Muslims, people of a difference colour, the poor, immigrants, countries better off than yours, the left, the National Trust - anyone will do. When you can't admit you're lying to yourself, you've lost the argument - with yourself. You can't explain stupid as anything other than stupid.

It's a pity that those who venerate the inanimate don't have as much concern for the animate.