Tuesday 28 February 2023

A Question to ChatGPT

Me: "Given the increasing complexity, interdependence and technologisation of society, how likely is complete societal collapse?"

ChatGPT: "It is difficult to predict the likelihood of a complete societal collapse because it depends on numerous factors and their interactions, many of which are difficult to foresee. However, it is important to note that history has shown that societal collapses can occur, and they often have multiple causes, including environmental degradation, resource depletion, economic and political instability, and conflicts. 

 "In modern society, the increasing complexity and interdependence of systems, as well as the rapid pace of technological change, may make us more vulnerable to a collapse. For example, a major disruption to the global financial system or a large-scale cyberattack could have cascading effects across multiple systems, leading to societal breakdown. Climate change also presents a significant risk, as it could lead to widespread environmental degradation, food and water shortages, and other social and economic disruptions. 

"However, it is important to note that societal collapse is not inevitable. Many societies have faced challenges and adapted successfully, and there are ongoing efforts to build more resilient systems and address global risks. It is essential to prioritize sustainable development, resource management, and cooperation to mitigate the risks of collapse and ensure a stable and equitable future for all."

I would suggest that rather than it being possible, it's inevitable in some degree. Just-in-time being a prime example of where things can go squonk in a very short time.

Better gear me and my family up for self-sustainability and anti-fragility, as Nassim Nicholas Taleb calls it.

Living in the countryside we're at a natural advantage, as there are plenty of fields we can raid for vegetables. Cattle, sheep and chicken stocks may necessitate a bit of a battle, so we'll need shotguns and the common outside our house will have to be fenced off and guarded. Perhaps not just a shotgun, but a complete armoury or a Leopard tank or two, manned by the local Neighbourhood Watch,

We have solar thermal and solar PV, thus we'll have some electricity with which to perform essential activities. Obviously, I will have to conduct a commando raid on the KwikFit up the road for some batteries, and the lighting system will have to be converted to 12v.

The log burner will come into its own, but I will need a bicycle trailer with which to forage wooded areas for logs and fell the odd tree.

I think I may change the current log burner into one that's also a cooking range, with the addition of glass doors, such as the one in the image below.

I'm actually thinking of getting one of these anyway, as they're not expensive - just over £1k. Very versatile too, as most solid fuel ranges lack glass doors and you can't see the state of the fire, nor the condition of what you're cooking.

However, log burners are only 20% efficient at best. A biomass boiler, which controls the combustion process, can be up to 90% efficient, but the problem is getting one that's aesthetic in a domestic environment - most of them look decidedly industrial and are rather expensive. This one doesn't look too bad, but doesn't have an integral cooker and is £4k.

This one, however, is an Italian, biomass cooking range, although I don't know the price yet. It's only 8.3kW, as compared to my 12.3kW log fire.

There is also a 20kW version, with a back boiler, but we have no room for a back boiler where our log burner is sited, so that would be a waste.

I am unable to get more information as the last UK dealer has closed and, while there are dealers all over the world, there are none now in the UK. I wonder what could have caused that!

Biomass boilers use wood pellets as their fuel source and these typically cost around £150 – £200 per tonne. When you consider that a typical home will probably use around 11 tonnes of fuel per year then that's around £2,000 a year - but that's a full year assuming all you have is a biomass boiler, whereas I have solar PV and solar thermal for hot water in summer, which would reduce the amount of pellets to between 3 and 5 tonnes. 

Logs are currently about £140 a tonne, delivered, so bearing in mind the increased efficiency of pellets, they're much cheaper per kW than logs, but you need a large capital investment for the biomass boiler.

Water wouldn't be an issue since we excavated the 11m x 7m pond, which is self-cleaning by virtue of the reeds planted at the edges. There's also a well on the property. We can get a good stock of chlorine tablets from Chipping Sodbury Caravans, which is just up the road.

Hay, being a biochemist, would be able to cater for most medical needs, although she might have to bone up on foraging for healing herbs and a set of surgical instruments.

I'd also need to get a 40kW Nissan Leaf, which would take 20 hours to charge on the 2kW coming from the solar PV, but given I'm only generating 2kW for about 3 or 4 hours on a sunny day, it would take many days; however, at least I'd have the ability to travel around 150 miles for free. For shorter journeys there's always the e-bikes.

How the hell would I get chocolate though? Some form of barter economy would have to develop and we'd need to guard against the feudal nobility attempting to re-establish their ancient hegemony.

Monday 27 February 2023

Bloody DIY

 I started Sunday with the full intent of reattaching the hose reel to a wall, following the building of the garage. I took three trips to B&Q to get various wall fixings, but they were all absolute garbage.

How did I ensure the screws held the reel to the concrete blocks? The simple method we all used before these fancy rawl plugs and expanding cage fittings were invented. I split some kindling into matchsticks and hammered these into the drill holes.

Worked a treat - wish I'd done that first.

Sunday 26 February 2023

In Praise of the Air Fryer

Last week I said I was going to buy a 4L air fryer that Lidl were due to start selling but, on doing a bit of reading about them, I decided to get a much larger 11L job on e-Bay, for which I paid roughly the same as the 4L Lidl one. It was one of those units that are slight seconds, but perfectly functional.

It's an Argos model, which new costs well over £100, so a good deal.

The first test was belly pork, which is one of our favourite dishes. I made up a Chinese-style rub with which to coat the meat area, after having cut it vertically and horizontally. It went into the air fryer in a foil tray, skin side up, with a coating of vinegar on the skin, for 20 minutes at 100 degrees, which dried the skin. Then 40 minutes at 200 degrees and it produced the most wonderful, crispy skin. The meat, however, was a little tougher than my usual recipe, which involves a trivet of sliced onions and a centimetre or two of wine or cider to thoroughly cook the meat.

Next time I think I'll combine the two recipes and use the trivet and liquid within the air fryer, perhaps cooking for longer at a lower temperature before boosting it to obtain the crispy skin.

The 2nd experiment was a whole chicken. I wanted to use the rotisserie, but the limit is 1.2kg, whereas our chicken was 1.6kg. I therefore just placed it in the middle of the air fryer for 40 minutes on 200 degrees - and it was perfect with a crispy skin. 

Hay is definitely a convert.

Essentially, the saving in electricity and improvement in performance is down to the small size. Our combi-microwave, which also has an oven function, is more efficient than our Redfyre cooker by virtue of the fact the business volume is much smaller; the air fryer is more efficient still by virtue of the interior being just 11L, combined with the air circulation being much improved.

My advice? Get one of 11L capacity if you have a family to feed - just check you can get a whole chicken in it. The 4L jobs are only sufficient to feed one. Buy one on e-Bay from a reputable company that sells seconds (they're not real seconds, but more likely Amazon units that have been bought as unwanted presents, were returned and would otherwise be destined for the scrapheap due to the cost of checking and re-packing).

Stop-Press: tried a smaller chicken on the rotisserie and it was perfect. It does roast potatoes very quickly and really crisps them up. Cabbage steaks too are easy in the air fryer - just slice a white cabbage into rounds and drizzle with oil and salt.

Saturday 25 February 2023

Seasonal Veg

Much as I detest Therese Coffey, she's totally correct that we should be eating more seasonal veg, rather than relying on food that a) involves an extraordinary amount of fossil fuels to provide out-of-season and b) has to be transported a phenomenal distance to reach our plates because we don't grow it ourselves.

You can't, on the one hand, castigate the oil industry for promoting fossil fuels and, on the other, bemoan the lack of summer fruit and vegetables in the middle of winter.

Had Jamie Oliver or Jack Monroe had come up with this suggestion it would have been applauded. There's plenty of beetroot, Brussels sprouts, cabbage - red; savoy; white, carrots, cauliflower, celeriac, celery, horseradish, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, kohlrabi, leeks, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, potatoes, rhubarb, salsify, shallots, spring greens, spring onions, squash, swede, turnips, etc. 

I detest turnips and much prefer Swede. Mind you, I'm not keen on salads - it's not as if many have starved for want of salad. I dare say many have starved because there's nothing but salad.

We've become molly-coddled by the availability of out-of-season stuff we can well do without, harming our own farmers in the process.

"So what about the dieters," I hear you say. Can't they just eat nothing and lose weight faster? You may as well eat nothing as eat a bloody salad anyway.

Yes, Coffey made a very valid point, but could have used a better example than turnip, which the continentals use to feed their pigs, eating only the leaves on top. 

It's probably the only thing she's done, as Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs,  to support farmers and the environment.

What I find rather hypocritical and an egregious example of Greenwashing, is supermarkets extolling the fact their meat is locally sourced, when in the next aisle you have cut flowers flown in from Kenya and out of season veg trucked in from Italy.

How about a meal of endangered animal with out of season vegetables?

Friday 24 February 2023

Kissy Kissy

Why do women invariably put an "x" at the end of messages?

Here's what ChatGPT says: "The "x" at the end of messages or texts is often used as a symbol of affection or to indicate a friendly or informal tone. It can be a way to convey a sense of warmth, closeness, or goodwill, particularly between friends or acquaintances. While the use of the "x" is not limited to women, it is more commonly seen in messages between women or from women to men, particularly in the UK and some other English-speaking countries."

I have to say it makes me feel slightly uneasy, as I don't know what the response is meant to be. If a man were to put an "x" at the end of a message, would it be interpreted in an entirely different way? 

I guess it would if it were directed at a man, but I mean if it were directed at a woman, even as a response to a message from a woman that already contains the "x". Because I suspect it would, I never respond in kind, unless it's a close relative.

Thursday 23 February 2023

Overheard Imaginary Conversation

The other day I saw a lady with a large, Akita-type dog and thought to myself that this was unusual, as most women like small dogs, if that's not misogynist of me. I then imagined a conversation between Mr and Mrs Caveman at the time the wolf was domesticated and became man's best friend.

Mr Caveman: "Hey sweetie, I have something to show you that I've been working on for a few years. It's an experiment I performed in that cave over in the next valley, as I wanted to keep it secret.

"I took a couple of wolves and bred them, selecting the most docile from the litter and then breeding them too. This went on for a number of generations and this is what I got - I call it a dog.

"I've bred out most of the aggression, but retained enough for it to protect me, as it has accepted me as the leader of its pack. It's useful for hunting and isn't afraid of fire, so it can sit around the hearth and protect us."

Mrs Caveman: "That's all very nice dear, but could you breed another one that's 1/6th of the size, has fluffy curls and a pink bow in it's hair?"

I wonder whether the dog a man walks is the result of household power dynamics. A large dog, like an Alsatian, and the man is the main decision maker; a small lapdog, like a French bulldog, and his wife is the main decision maker.

Yes, there are compromises, such as the Labrador retriever, which is big, but decidedly docile and a bit daft.

Wednesday 22 February 2023

More Automation

I've discovered a slight problem with the programming for the Smart Switch that controls the Air-Source Heat Pump - the weather forecast.

Tuya, which provides the App that I programme to determine whether the ASHP should be on or off, uses a certain weather forecaster, but it's not always completely accurate due to the wide area of forecast coverage. It can be sunny in my home location, but the weather forecast says it's cloudy, resulting in the ASHP not switching off. It would appear the App will only say it's sunny when there's not a single cloud in the sky over a wide area, which is a fairly rare occurrence. 

To overcome this, and provide a greater degree of granularity, I've bought a Smart Lux Sensor, which measures the sun's light output at its exact location. Cost - £22. Once I take delivery of it, all I need to so is take some measurements over a week or so and determine the best minimum light level (i.e. solar generation) above which to trigger the ASHP into operation.

The drawback? It isn't scheduled for delivery till between the 3rd and 13th of March.

I do have another mechanism at my disposal - the video camera in the house, but it's indoors and in black and white, which makes it a little hard to determine the degree of sunlight. Also, it's not a Smart device, so manual intervention would be required.

Tuesday 21 February 2023

Double Jeopardy

 Spotted this story on the Reuters news App yesterday:

Then I spotted this news story just a bit further on, which had nothing to do with Scotland's health minister:

Oops! Do you think there was a mix up, or was it just laziness?

Monday 20 February 2023

Pee Brain

Overheard in the bathroom:

Hay: "You need a treatment on your face."

Chairman: "You mean an oat scrub and some soothing essential oils?"

Hay: "I was thinking more in terms of an orbital sander."

I'm convinced my bladder has its own brain, which also manages to tap into my proper brain and hi-jack it when convenient.

When I sense I want to go for a pee, it's generally not a problem and I can hold on for ages - hours, in fact, especially if I happen to be driving. However, once my proper brain knows there's a toilet nearby, or I'm due home, within about 5 minutes my bladder's brain manages to detect this and sets inexorable processes and urges into operation, meaning that if I'm not careful I can end up dribbling before I actually intend to.

Oh, the joys of ageing..

Sunday 19 February 2023

Electricity Saving with ASHP

My Air-Source Heat Pump (ASHP) is either on or off, being controlled, in the final instance, by a switch in what I call my engine room (contains all the gubbins for the solar PV, solar thermal, ASHP, the underfloor heating manifold and the 500 litre water tank). 

The underfloor heating has been off this winter in order to save on electricity, as I have written before. However, the ASHP was still running 7 x 24 in order to keep the domestic hot water system providing hot water. 

Now, running the ASHP 7 x 24, just for domestic hot water, costs quite a bit of money - it uses upward of 2-3kW when kicking in. It struck me that I'd be better running it during the day (when I'm more likely to need hot water) and when I'm at least making free electricity through the solar PV system and the temperature is warmer than at night. Better still, I really need to run it only on sunny days and during the hours I'm generating maximum solar power, being an hour and a half either side of midday, so as to minimise cost. Added to that, sunny days kick the solar thermal array into action, taking the strain from the electricity. Ideally I need the solar thermal to kick in for an hour or so to raise the water temperature (which can be 40 degrees, even in winter) and only then start using the ASHP to take it to 50 or 55 degrees.

I did this manually, switching the system on and setting the hot water temperature to 50 degrees (far hotter than I normally run it for the underfloor heating, which is about 40 or 45 when really cold). On really sunny days, like we've had recently, it can raise the water to the required temperature within an hour and the heat captured easily lasts till the next morning, sufficient for a couple of showers. The cost is nothing, as the electricity generated from the solar PV system is free, as is the heat from the solar thermal.

As an aside, I can use whatever electricity I generate with no penalty on the feed-in tariff - I could use 100% of what I generate and yet still get its value from the feed-in tariff..

Doing the switching manually is a pain, as I have to be home to switch the ASHP on and off, so I thought it would be ideal if I could automate the process. To do it properly, switching the ASHP on when sufficient electricity is being generated to run it, would require some fancy monitoring electronics that are beyond me, but I could get a fair simulation of this with a programmable Smart Switch.

I first decided to do an experiment with a Smart Device I already have -  a Smart infrared panel which I bought for the new workshop. I moved the IR panel to the AirBnB room and connected it to the house 2.4GHz network - these Smart devices all run on 2.4GHz only and not 5GHz, which is a bit of a pain, but 2.4GHz has greater penetration of walls than 5GHz, so it makes sense.

Using the Tuya Android App I created a programme to turn the heater panel on between 10:30 and 13:30, only if it's sunny and the temperature in the AirBnB is below 19 degrees. The Tuya App monitors the local weather where it's sited through the Interweb and the IR panel monitors the room temperature itself automatically, which provides a feed to the App. Given it can be sunny at 10:30 but cloudy by 11.30, I made 3 separate programmes, each for an hour long, so the weather is checked 3 times over 3 hours. Just to be safe, I created an extra programme to ensure the panel is switched off at 13:33.

It worked - I used only self-generated electricity. On the basis of this I rigged up a Wi-Fi extender to get 2.4GHz Wi-Fi to my engine room and purchased a Smart Switch from Amazon for £20.90 (I got a 2 gang switch to allow room for expansion into other automated switching applications within the engine room, such as the Gold Pump, which pumps the domestic hot water around the house). 

I didn't think the switch handled the full load of the ASHP, being merely a relay to the control box with a 3 amp fuse in it, so replacing this with a Smart Switch suitable for lighting purposes was assumed to be completely safe (it wasn't).

These Smart Switches have huge protuberances on the back, but the switch backing that was already in situ could easily accommodate the extra depth and fitted the front plate perfectly.

Installation wasn't a doddle, as the existing switch, when I opened it to look at the wiring, is a double pole, for which the received single pole switch wasn't suitable. A double pole switch doesn't work just on one wire, but both, being in-line with two triple cables (L, N and E) and suited to high power applications, such as cookers and water heaters (the latter being the application).

The single pole switch could work, theoretically, by connecting the live wires and inserting the single pole switch into the neutral circuit, but it's not recommended, added to which the single pole switch had no earth connections.

So, I returned the Smart Switch to Amazon and sent off for a double pole Smart Switch (cost £19.99 plus £6 delivery), which took a couple of weeks to arrive.

Two lives, two neutrals, but no earth, not that it needs an earth. The two earth wires just need connecting with a block to maintain the earth circuit. Here it is in position.

And here's the automation profile in the Tuya App.

A scene to switch on between 11am, but only if it's sunny, and a scene to switch off at 1pm, regardless. And it works.

I also ordered a couple of Tuya compatible Smart Plugs, with which to programme the living room lights to go on 5 minutes before sunset and go off again at 9pm, when we go to bed. A bit geeky, I know, not to mention high in capital cost, but I love to try out tech. Sadly, they were a bit shit and one packed up within a couple of days. It's worth getting reliable brands.

The thrust of this post is that ASHPs are fine, if you're using them to heat the house in winter, but inefficient if leaving them on 7 x 24 solely for domestic hot water.

As an aside, given the double pole nature of the switch I used on the ASHP, it strikes me that I can also use one to automate our cooker, which is one of those huge Redfyre jobs, which doesn't have time controls. A Smart Switch fitted instead of the existing one would allow me to set the cooking temperature manually before leaving the house, with a programmable Smart Switch turning it on and off at the required times, or remotely at a time of my choosing.

Naturally, the weakness of all this Smart technology is that it's hackable, so don't go switching on my ASHP just for the hell of it.

Saturday 18 February 2023

New Veg Dish

OK, not a dish on its own, but a rather nice accompaniment to your meat; mashed cannellini beans with spinach.

Hay found the recipe in a Nigel Slater food column and we have a liking for his simple, but very tasty recipes.

I had my doubts, but I have to admit I'm a convert. Take boiled cannellini beans and defrosted, frozen spinach and blitz them, with lots of salt and cracked pepper. Earthy and delicious, with rather a nice colour too.

Here we have it presented with sausages (it's a twist on sausage and mash) with tartiflette.

I make my tartiflette with el cheapo, Tesco Camembert, eschewing the traditional Reblochon. Using Reblochon in tartiflette was a marketing coup for the makers of Reblochon, enabling them to inflate the price, but any soft, rind-washed cheese produces just as nice a result, if not nicer. Many recommend Raclette or Brie.

Friday 17 February 2023

Old Laughs

There's talk of bringing back updated versions of what, at the time, were popular comedy programmes, such as Blackadder and Fawlty Towers.

However, comedy changes with time. What my father found belly achingly funny (Laurel and Hardy, etc.) left me luke warm. I wonder, given these programmes were popular 20 plus years ago, whether the younger generation will appreciate what my generation laughed at?

Thursday 16 February 2023


For Valentine's Day, Hay got me some cheeses. However, she forgot to take the Reduced stickers off, not that I mind, as there should be no sell-by date for cheese.

I was about to tuck into one of them, which was wrapped in the waxed paper cheese used to be wrapped in years ago when you bought cheese in cheese shops and a lump of whatever you wanted was hacked off. I was then totally surprised to discover that inside the waxed paper the cheese was tightly shrink wrapped in that hideous stuff that's impossible to get off.

Why bother with the beautiful, and costly, waxed paper when what's inside is wrapped in garbage? It's a total and utter waste of money.

Wednesday 15 February 2023

Balentine's Meal

Hay and I decided to have a Waitrose Dinner for Two for £20 Valentine's meal last night. Nothing to do with Valentines but simply because neither of us would be home sufficiently early to do a meal from scratch, and £20, including a bottle of wine, seemed a good deal.

We'd wanted the Boeuf Bourguignon, but they had sold out and all that was left was the Coq Au Vin, but if you've ever tried texting Coq Au Vin, you'll know that the v is very close to the b on a keyboard, resulting in me telling Hay I'd bought a Coq Au Bin.

Common mistake, by the look of it.

However, I have a complaint. The Coq Au Bin takes 40 minutes in the oven at 200 degrees, while the cauli cheese accompaniment takes 35 minutes at 170 degrees. You'd think they'd coordinate the main and side such that they at least cook at the same temperature.

Luckily we have a traditional oven AND a convection microwave, making the microwave a 2nd oven, but it is a waste of electricity.

I'm going to invest in an air fryer on Thursday - Lidl are doing Tower 4L air fryers at a very good price. I hope to use it to perfect my crispy belly pork, plus a few other recipes I have in mind.

Tuesday 14 February 2023

Slow, Slow, Quick-Quick, Slow

Seems that having slow-moving, aerial information gathering devices has a distinct advantage over things that move swiftly. A fast-moving object can be caught up with by an intercepting jet to determine exactly what it is, whereas they just zip past slow-moving objects and spend an inordinate amount of time trying to figure out what the hell it is, giving it ample time to observe whatever it's observing.

Slow-moving spying devices can be beneficial because they allow for longer observation times, which can result in more comprehensive and detailed intelligence gathering. For example, slow-moving spy planes equipped with advanced cameras and sensors can gather high-resolution imagery and other valuable data over an extended period of time.

Then there's the fact the Americans might be shooting down alien craft, which might have dire consequences for harmonious, intergalactic relations.....

Monday 13 February 2023

More Tools

Ever had something in a vice and wished you could rotate or angle the vice to get better access? Well, Stanley has come up with an innovative design.

It's a vice on a balljoint and cost only £24.99 on e-Bay. Saw one on a YouTube video and thought it would be a good addition to my workshop.

Sunday 12 February 2023

A Woke Chat GPT

I've been playing with Chat GPT, the AI Chatbot, and fed it a trick question; I asked it for an anti-Woke joke. This was the response (click to enlarge).

Surely that definitively proves Chat GPT is Woke?

I then asked it to compose a poem on the Culture Wars, which is also somewhat Woke.

Saturday 11 February 2023

Money Saving Expert

Ever bought those flavoured syrups for your coffee? I've started making my own for just a few pence.

Take equal volumes of brown sugar and water, boil it up till all the sugar dissolves, let it cool a bit and then add some vanilla essence, or whatever flavouring you like.

The syrup on the left of the above photo was purchased from Tesco for £3.25 and the one on the right is my own, which cost half a cup of Demerara sugar and 10 minutes of hob gas - literally pence.

Avoid using ground spices, such as cinnamon or the like, as it sinks to the bottom and makes the resultant syrup murky.

Friday 10 February 2023

Our Deity

So, the right of the political spectrum is up in arms about the Church of England having a dialogue about whether God is gender neutral. We'll leave alone, for a minute, that Jesus was the epitome of inclusiveness, which is not high on the right wing agenda, and that it's a dialogue, not an edict.

How is it possible for a pangalactic deity to look anything like a corporeal human, let alone a bloke. For God to have made man in His image, God must logically be corporeal, rather like the Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Viking gods. Human, but bigger. Not really what one would expect from an omniscient and omnipotent being that's everywhere in the universe (and other universes) simultaneously.

Then one must consider that humanity evolved in Africa and, if God indeed made man in his own image, then He would be black and certainly not white, which was a later evolution. That reminds me of the old joke; "I have two things to tell you about God, and the first thing is that she's black."

Then we get to The Lord's prayer, which begins with "Our Father," a translation of the word, "abba." But the actual Aramaic transliteration, which is what Jesus spoke, is "Abwoon" which is a blending of "abba (father)" and "woon" (womb), Jesus's recognition of the masculine and feminine source of creation.

Next is the question of whether God even exists. But that depends on what we mean by 'exist'. Something that's in my mind can be said to exist for me, but not for anyone else. I can identify it as I wish - I can identify it as ULEZ Compliant, if I so wish. It's an interesting philosophical debate in its own right.

All human individuals, whether they have an XX, an XY, or an atypical sex chromosome combination, begin development from the same starting point. During early development the gonads of the fetus remain undifferentiated; that is, all fetal genitalia are the same and are phenotypically female. It's why males have nipples - they develop before the Y chromosome kicks into action. Interestingly, male babies are weaker than female babies and have a higher death rate. Female comes first and males are altered females. So much for God created man in His image.

Now for the fact that humanity, for the vast majority of its existence, has been a paternalistic society. Anyone believing they're communicating with the creator of everything in existence would be forgiven if they thought they were talking to a man. If God were actually female, I wouldn't put it past Her to let men believe that.

As Hay said to me; "An omniscient and omnipotent being just couldn't be a man - it would obviously be a multi-tasking woman."

Thursday 9 February 2023

A 30p Deputy & Height

So, 30p Lee has been rewarded for alienating the vast majority of the UK public with his crass statements and dishonest campaign interview setups by being made Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party.

The man who castigates nurses for needing to use food banks and suggests they budget better, but has no problem with a certain Conservative ex PM on £115k expenses allowance and £85k a year salary as an MP needing an £800k loan and showing an incredible inability to budget.

He also didn't want to watch England matches because the players wanted to protest against racism. I mean, why would anyone want to protest about racism.....?

Perhaps Sunak sees Anderson as a typical, working class, Red Wall voter who will appeal to the northern working class. If so, he must think the northern working class are racist bigots.

The Conservatives really are in a Death Spiral, which makes me wonder what they're up to.

Could it be that their assault on our freedoms are a strategy to curry favour with rapacious party donors in the hope of gaining seats on their boards during a long time in opposition?

The fault with this logic is that there are really no longer any benefits to having MPs on boards, especially if they have demonstrated themselves to be totally incompetent. 

Added to this, these assaults can be easily reversed by a Labour government.

So, what are they up to? As someone who would not vote for this current bunch of incompetents, I an actually ecstatic at his promotion and celebrate Sunak's decision to wipe out the Tory party at the GE.

Changing tack somewhat - this Chinese spy (allegedly) balloon. Spy satellites from China and the USA fly over each other's countries on a daily basis, so why the uproar about the balloon? Surely it's merely an argument about height?

Wednesday 8 February 2023

McMafia Amazon

We decided to watch the first series of McMafia again last week on Amazon. We ploughed through the first two episodes in one day, only to find we had to pay on the next day, even for the two episodes we'd already watched. Amazon is the McMafia.

I then started to watch The Irishman on Netflix, the story of an American Mafia hitman. The bloody thing is over 3 hours long.

Anyway, the Mafia merely seem to act like medieval, feudal nobility, operating protection rackets in exchange for 'tax'. The various Crime Families had areas which came under their sway and weren't averse to assassinating the heads of competing families, or even waging gangland wars against each other, into which they dragged the common people. 

We call our Mafia by various names - the Windsor Crime Family (The Firm), the Gloucester Crime Family, etc. They have largely been neutralised, but in exchange for our freedom we allowed them to keep the vast tracts of land they acquired by the sword in 1066. Perhaps that should have been the way the American Mafia should have been tackled or, perhaps we should get back the proceeds of crime and treat them in the same manner as the Mafia are treated.

Tuesday 7 February 2023

Android Hearing Aid

 It struck me the other day that people with hearing problems spend a fortune - £450 or more - for hearing aids, when their mobile phone has all the necessary gadgets for providing them with an aid to boosting volume; a microphone and Bluetooth. All that needs adding is a pair of Bluetooth earbuds for under £20.

There are even several Apps available on Google Play, but it's relatively simple to set up a hearing aid system yourself.

I tried one of the Apps but, for some reason, there was a noticeable delay. It must be a setting.

The advantage is that a set of Bluetooth earbuds are very inexpensive if lost. The disadvantages are the battery drain on the phone and Bluetooth earbuds need charging every 4 to 6 hours. 

Monday 6 February 2023

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

I heard the initial 10 second flute intro and wah-wah-wah of the theme tune to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly on the radio the other day and everyone in earshot completed the opening.

I wonder if there's an age cut-off, after which people don't recognise Ennio Morricone's seminal cowboy film theme.

Sunday 5 February 2023

Invite as a Noun

My ears grate when I hear the use of the word invite as a noun. It's an invitation and to invite is a verb.

I started hearing invite used as a noun in the early 2000s and the dictionary indicates its use as such is informal or colloquial.

Must be an age thing...

Saturday 4 February 2023

Us / Our Variation

The northern English dialect switches 'us' for 'our', as in; "Us mother is going shopping," instead of; "Our mother is going shopping."

There is a number of similar switches, such as replacing 'were' with 'was', as in; "We was rather annoyed," instead of; "We were rather annoyed." It also operates in reverse, with 'was' being switched with 'were', as in; "I were rather annoyed," instead of; "I was rather annoyed." However, the was/were variation is more widespread and occurs in the south too.

Curiously, while this happens in every day speech north of Crew, it doesn't happen in popular music. Vernacular poems, yes, but not popular music.

I wondered whether any of these variants are due to the heavy influence of Saxon grammar, or indeed Danish or Norwegian grammar on the north, but I can't find any definitive answers.

Friday 3 February 2023

Oh, There They Are

Hay is complaining that I'm increasingly moaning about not finding things, only to say 3 minutes later; "Oh, there they are," or, "Oh, there is is," when I discover that the offending item is exactly where I left it.

The issue she doesn't take cognizance of is the fact I didn't remember putting it where I found it. I'm sure that, in more than 50% of the occasions, she moved said item between me putting it down and subsequently finding it.

Had a particularly nasty experience the other day when I was painting the new garage floor. I'd misplaced a whole, 5L container of white spirit and the lid for the floor paint. Took me ages to find them. The white spirit was in the old shed, but God knows why I put it in there, and the lid was found on a garage wall crossmember. Took me about half an hour to find them.

It's a conspiracy.....

Thursday 2 February 2023

Land Usage

Hay religiously watches Countryfile, which I must admit I find slightly boring and would like it offset by Townfile or Cityfile; however, I learned something important on Sunday's programme.

Tenancy terms for farms have been coming down for decades and now stand at around 3 years, which is insufficient for tenant farmer to plan, let alone invest.

Landlords are seeing money in turning their farming land over to solar farms and, while solar farms are good, they should be placed on poor or unproductive land and not that which is highly productive, especially when we, as a nation, are not capable of feeding ourselves, requiring huge imports from abroad. It's driven by market forces, which generally prioritise greed over people.

There needs to be a huge redistribution of land or, failing that, tax incentives for landlords to retain tenant farmers long term. The landlords call themselves farmers, but their only connection with farming is their tenants. They also, invariably, have landholdings that date back to the Norman invasion and were taken by the sword.

Wednesday 1 February 2023

Are You Dead?

I was watching Bangers and Cash the other day and an advert for Sun Life 50-85 life policy.

Blokey in the advert was promoting it by saying they pay out on every policy. I had a short think about this and that's entirely logical - it's a life policy so, if you die, they have to pay out. They can't not pay out, unless you claim while still alive. It's an example of stating the bleeding obvious.