What Do You Think Today?

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What Do You Think Today?

Post by Avatar »

At the moment, it's the transferring of that data. The US and the EU have different data protection laws, and the policy framework that used to tie them together, (Uh, EU-US SHIELD I think it was, no longer exists for some reason I can't remember.) The US protections are not as robust as the EU's GDPR and the consent required under GDPR does not transfer. So when they move the data of EU citizens to the US for processing, they no longer apply and that data (and the use thereof) is not protected as well as the EU requires.

Basically. :D

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What Do You Think Today?

Post by peter »

Sounds to me Av, that your handle on this stuff is way in advance of mine. Hardly surprising - if I recall correctly, you are involved with IT in your daily work, so data and its uses are clearly closer to your domain than mine. Until a brief while ago, data for me was a guy who worked on the bridge of the Starship Enterprise! ;)

While ministers from the government go around sucking each others d***'s because the IMF has said we might avoid recession this year, and the right wing press is crowing that inflation seems to be slowing down so we can all sleep easy in our beds once more, the truth is that for the majority of the UK public the damage is already done.

I mean, what the fuck difference does it make to the average Joe if inflation is slowing, when the prices of the foodstuffs, the clothing and commodities he used to buy has already moved to a place beyond his means to afford? Deflation is the only thing that will bring him back to the place he was in two years ago, and the government's sure to be working to make sure that that isn't going to happen. Either deflation or a hefty wage increase, and again the government seems bent on ensuring this doesn't get onto the books.

Besides, none of it, if you read what the IMF actually said, has anything to do with what the government is doing. Falling energy prices is the key factor behind the fall in inflation, together with the easing of supply chain blockages. Stronger wage growth and fiscal support (that means fiat money printed up by the BofE and pushed out into the economy I'm guessing) are also having their effect.

None of which is indicative that the UK is developing its growth potential in any meaningful way in terms of future performance. The facts are that outside investment is tanking, we remain about as popular in terms of attractive qualities as treading on dog-shit, and we have no trade deals in the offing that will serve to change the growth picture in the near future whatsoever. We might avoid catastrophic recession (largely due to external influences), but we have little to offer as a place to do business with or within, and no amount of sugar coating around inflation and recession avoidance will change that.

And look at the futures that huge numbers of people in the country face. They can barely afford the houses they live in. The BofE has hiked interest rates to unprecedented levels with twelve or so rises in a row. There is no sign of these coming down any time soon and people in their tens of thousands face the prospect of their fixed rate mortgages coming to an end just as their mortgage payments are virtually at a point beyond their ability to pay and they are already facing the prospect of repossession shortly down the road. And those in the rental sector are faring no better. Their rents are through the roof as the property owners themselves struggle to meet the mortgage payments on their buy-to-let investments, and attempt to make their tenants pay the cost via huge rental hikes. The effect of this turbulence in the housing market is to raise the threat of an exodus from property ownership as people cut their losses, and a subsequent crash in property values. This often leaves people with debts around their necks even after they have unloaded the properties that were sinking them, because of the negative equity they must shoulder.

And this while carrying the burden of increasing prices due to the extended period of inflation that the BofE admits today, that it's modelling singularly failed to predict.

So no. This is not a time for back-slapping and sighs of relief. This is not a sign of the 'green shoots of recovery'. This is the sludge and the slurry of the aftermath. The place where we settle and carry out damage assessment before concluding that without a government that has some real ideas about what to do to clear up this mess (and not just run for the hills ala arch brexiteer Dominic Raab, who rather than stay and answer for the devastation his plans have wreaked upon the country, has decided to leave politics for the more comfortable confines of the board room table and the hefty sinecure in return for a couple of hours work a month) we are fucked.

The truth is that we haven't even experienced the full effects of Brexit on our economy yet. The pandemic and the international situation vis a vis Ukraine and the world economy has clouded the picture and skewed the situation beyond any normal measure of understanding. As things settle down on a global scale, then we shall see where our future prospects in the shadow of Brexit truly lie. As other countries gather themselves and begin to return to business as usual, we will finally begin to ascertain exactly where the 'landing zone' of the Johnson withdrawal agreement actually is. Just let me check the map and see where it is situated. Oh yes, here it is down in the bottom corner in a place called......hold on - let me see.....Ah yes, the arse end of nowhere! And Chancellor Hunt wants us to be optimistic? I've got a better name for him - Chancellor...... No. Let that go and settle for a more family friendly Twat!

--------0---------

Does anyone remember the actor Brian Murphy?

He's the guy who used to play the character George in the series George and Mildred, a popular sitcom from the (what) 1980's.

George was a rather weak character, dominated by his sexualy voracious wife (in a way that only a lady of late maturity, shall we say, can be so) and constantly addressed in tones of contempt (to which he replied in whining complaint) in respect of his failure to 'perform'. A thin, balding man in his late fifties, Murphy played the role to perfection...some might say even too well.

Like many a sitcom star, his period of ascendancy was brief if bright, and he disappeared from the mainstream television without much attention being given to his absence or regret at his (metaphorical) passing.

So it was with some small pleasure to hear a guy on the radio some decade or so later recounting the following story.

He had, for whatever reason, recently found himself staying overnight at a Travel Lodge or Premier Inn - one of those soulless travel hotels on the peripheries of cities or near airports - on the outskirts of London. He'd been having a quiet drink in the bar when of a sudden, the door blew open and in rolled a gaggle of late middle aged women, in high spirits and laughing mood. In the centre of the group, was none other than Brian Murphy, he of George fame, who was clearly, despite his no longer frequent appearance on UK television, still enjoying the friuts of his celebrity.

He was (despite it's being a decade and a half later and fashions having moved thankfully on) dressed in the standard attire of a seventies celebrity icon - brown bry-nylon suit and shirt with large rounded collar open at the neck- and was clearly entirely happy with his position as cynosure of all those middle-age eyes. The group proceeded to the bar, where Brian held the floor with a stream of anecdotes that had his adoring group of followers in stitches.

And there we must leave him in happy circumstance, and I for one would wish him the best of it. Being George can't have been easy, and I was just pleased that being Brian seemed to have had its compensations in result. The story is mundane, certainly, and not without a degree of pathos, but in the round it's a happy one and leaves one feeling that the world is not such a bad place. So my take is, More power to your elbow Brian. Rock on and thanks for the memories!

:D
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What Do You Think Today?

Post by peter »

The economy is worse than you think it is and Kier Stamer has a 'cunning plan' to deal with escalating legal immigration numbers.

That about sums up the leading stories on yesterday's television news coverage, so turning to the first, you will no doubt recall that yesterday I posted on the stories on the front pages implying that things were looking up with respect to the UK economy. I expressed my reservations based on what I saw as nothing happening that was going to stimulate growth by addressing the ongoing problems created by Brexit. The newspaper coverage in the Tory supporting press was concentrated however on two different things. Firstly, the IMF had made some passing comments that they approved of Chancellor Hunt's high tax, low spend policies (before going on to warn about the ongoing problems with the economy, which of course the tabloids chose to ignore), and secondly, there had been a fall in inflation from its previously dangerously high level to a marginally less dangerous one.

Rishi Sunak, at PM's questions yesterday in the House also chose to blow hard on the upside of this, but the Chancellor himself was, in interview, less sanguine. He said there were still underlying issues that had to be addressed, not least that inflation, while down, was still much higher than the two percent target figure, and was proving to be stubbornly high despite the measures being taken to reduce it.

The tv pundits,in their analysis of the figures agreed. The rate, they said, was still way above what the Bank of England's forecast predicted it should be and serious questions remained as to why this was the case. They forecast (the pundits) that the BofE would have to introduce further interest rate rises to exert yet stronger downward pressure on the inflation rate, if they were to stand any chance of achieving the two percent goal. This in turn would add yet more pain to families struggling with their mortgage costs and an inflation rate of food bills (taken separately) running at around twenty plus percent.

So not so good at all.

Moving on to the immigration situation, Kier (Keith) Stamer, knowing that there was some really difficult figures for legal immigration in the offing had made some inclusion of the situation in his questions to the PM, and Sunak had responded with the broadside that Stamer had no plans (contrary to the government of course) to deal with it, because underneath the bluster he (Stamer) wanted unlimited free movement of immigrants (both workers and students etc) into the country.

Enter Stamer's cunning plan. (C'm here - there's more, in the words of seventies Irish comedian Jimmy Cricket) Here's how we do it. You know those five million or so people who are sitting doing nothing and drawing benefits since the pandemic? Here's the good bit - run with me - saying we......put them back to work! Then we wouldn't need to be dishing out all of those work visas as we do at the minute! Great eh?

Well okay Keith. But isn't it possible that a good proportion of those five million might have good reasons for not being in work? Like they are actually retired, or sick, or disabled, or suffering from long-covid (or doesn't that one exist anymore?). But okay, ten out of ten for effort, not so much for originality.

But in fairness Keith did score one good hit on Sunak during PMQ's when he observed that he was aware that the Home Secretary had a problem with points systems (referring of course to her recent speeding ticket trials), but that he saw the PM clearly had one as well. This refers to the much vaunted points system for legal immigration that was introduced by Boris Johnson (having been much vaunted by the Leave campaign and Farage etc, prior to the referendum) which, upon introduction, had set the bar so low for qualification for entry that it had effectively thrown open the doors to anyone who wanted to come. Thus Boris Johnson, who stood absolutely on the ticket of reducing immigration as per the Conservative manifesto's of repeated election campaigns, became in his indolence and misunderstanding, the architect of the single biggest influx of immigrants since Tony Blair's catastrophic underestimate of the numbers of Eastern Europeans that would want to come here in the nineties.

So there you have it. Not so good on either front, so let's go and see what the papers have to say this morning.

-------0---------

"Simply The Best" is the headline on three of the tabloids. No need to say more on that one except God speed Tina. In your own way you were indeed.

Baroness Hallet, leader of the ongoing covid inquiry team, is proving to be a nuisance to the Downing St HQ by actually wanting to see the information she needs to in order to do her job. This includes the emails and WhatsApp messages that passed between Johnson and Sunak and the rest of them as the crisis unfolded,and clearly there is some embarrassing stuff in there that Sunak and Co would rather remained private. It's threatening to turn nasty, because Hallet (who we will be hearing much more of in the news in the months to come) has bridled at being given heavily redacted and censored records, when she clearly wants the lot. Downing St says that she has been given all that she needs and requires to do the job, and all the law requires them to provide. She begs to differ and is considering going to the courts to challenge it. Could be interesting. I'm betting we'd see exactly what Boris Johnson thought of the whole situation early in the affair (as if we don't already know - he didn't bother to go to the first five Cobra meetings at all) if she gets her way. (Johnson himself, incidentally, is threatening to sue the government because the Cabinet Office has referred his personal diaries to the police because he appears to admit to having meetings with friends at Chequers during lockdown. Johnson says these were private diaries and they had no right to do this. Anyway, they were "work events" he claims. Now haven't we heard that one before somewhere?)

What else?

:lol: Today's FT is going on about the economy (well, it is the FT isn't it?) and saying how badly the BofE got it wrong. Apparently gilt markets are soaring up near levels that only occurred last when Liz Truss released her tsunami mini-budget on the economy and this is very concerning indeed. The whole system is starting to look very wobbly. BofE chairman Andrew Bailey has admitted that food prices had not really factored that much in their forecasts last year and this was a mistake. To right it was mate! There you were telling us that inflation was running at eleven percent when I, a mere shop assistant could see on a daily basis our prices rising and rising, and yet you guys seemed unaware of it. Perhaps I should have a stint as Governor instead for a while? One commentator has suggested that the inflation situation is so bad that only a substantial recession will contain it. Now there's a thought; actually using a recession to control inflation. Haven't heard that one before (though I'm not sure that that is what he means). I suppose a recession shrinks the economy and exerts a deflationary pressure on prices as everyone stops spending and demand falls to zilch.

Rising gilt prices means increased costs of government borrowing and are reflective of decreasing confidence in the economy, but all the same, reliance on recession to control inflation seems a bit 'scorched earth' to me. But hey, what do I know.
Your politicians screwed you over and you are suprised by this?

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
'Have we not served you well'
'Of course - you know you have.'
'Then let it end.'

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What Do You Think Today?

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Yesterday I learned that my dentist was to shortly cease seeing national health patients and become a fully private practice. If I wish to remain registered with them, I will either have to pay a monthly dental plan of some kind or pay full costs each time I visit or am in need of treatment. Needless to say, the costs associated with such treatment as my aging teeth might require are likely to be horrendous.

This means that my town in Cornwall, which has a population of around twenty three thousand inhabitants, has no remaining national health dental practices whatsoever. Further to this, it effectively removes all cover from any individuals not in a position to either take out a plan or spring the cost at the time of treatment.

What will the consequences of this be.

Firstly it should be understood that dental emergencies are not trivial. People who remain untreated for dental abscesses and the like can die. In the light of this, health centers, ours included, tend to offer limited dental services for those who find themselves in serious straits with acute dental emergencies. So the first consequence of there being no national health cover within dental practices will be that dental caries (ie holes in your teeth caused by decay) that could be treated via filling in their early stages, will progress into emergency situations requiring full medical intervention and tooth extraction under emergency conditions. People presenting in hospital emergency departments and health parks with dental emergencies will rise exponentially. If they remain untreated a proportion will die. Other individuals, driven mad with pain, will attempt self carried out extractions, and will injur themselves seriously in their botched attempts to perform these. These cases appearing in hospitals will also rise exponentially.

People on benefits and low incomes already stretched to the absolute limits of their financial resources will point blank not be able to afford the necessary cover to protect them from such scenarios. End of. What of them?

We are talking of a return to virtually pre NHS existence for a huge number of people in our society, in respect of the single most common source of medical emergency that we humans experience.

Now what of the actual cover for those who can afford to take up some kind of premium.

My wife, who was informed yesterday of our practitioner's intention to no longer see national health patients, was given some information on this. The plan she was offered at a cost of twenty two pounds a month would, she was informed, give her two checkups a year, and one hygienist appointment. Of actual coverage of treatment costs, the lions share of cost in any dental or indeed other medical situation, there was no mention. Another policy did include ten percent coverage of subsequent costs, she thought.

I mean, what the fuck? What is this?

It's like taking out insurance on your car for it to only cover the damage assessment report after you have had an accident. Who wants that! What you want (and get in the case of every other type of insurance cover I have ever heard of) is coverage of the repairs themselves, not the investigation to establish what they are. This is bullshit. Do you insure your pets to have no coverage of the cost of treatment when they get sick? Of course you don't. You take out coverage of the cost of putting them right. No doubt, if you are carrying the burden of treatment costs, the dentists want to get you in for examination as often as possible to ensure their money stream keeps flowing. The bastards should do the checkups free of charge like the opticians do, in the knowledge of the bunce they will take if you are found wanting of treatment (which, in ever increasing proportions, you will be).

This is the American health care situation in its entirety, writ over our dental care. This is what medical coverage is like across the whole of the gamut in the States, and it's coming to a town near you. And how has this nonsensical situation developed - entirely deliberately that's how. The NHS payment levels to dental practitioners has been eroded and eroded and eroded, simply by not increasing payments in line with costs, until the cost of seeing NHS patients simply cannot be covered by the receipts of the monies payed for seeing them. And this has quietly and cynically been done, until the NHS dental service has collapsed in its entirety.

This is the 'safe in their hands' Tories at work at their best. Doing their fifth columnist stuff from the inside, making sure their buddies in the insurance and business sectors get their hands on the pot of gold that is peoples personal wealth, never more available than when they are in pain. Well thanks a bunch you cunts. You've just ensured that no tooth of mine that could ever be saved will be. That my only recourse when faced with a dental problem will be to kiss the tooth goodbye, either by waiting until I'm in agony and presenting at a hospital, or at an earlier stage when in a dentist and informed that work on a tooth is needed.

What a ludicrous, ridiculous, abominable state we find ourselves in. Like a fucking third world country, not one of the richest in the world, with the state of the nation's teeth heading back to where it was in the nineteen thirties. You could barely make it up. And the people of this country just sit and watch it happen. And fuck me, they even vote for the cunts that are doing it!

Jesus give me strength! Give me fucking strength!
Your politicians screwed you over and you are suprised by this?

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
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'Of course - you know you have.'
'Then let it end.'

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Post by peter »

Ex Labour mp Diane Abbot is not a person it is easy to feel sympathy for, but I do think her recent loss of the whip in the Labour Party over a controversial letter she wrote to the Oserver was a bit harsh.

Abbot wrote a letter to the paper in which she suggested that Jews did not experience racism in the same way that black people did and that their experience was more a form of prejudice than the overt racism which black people encountered on a daily basis.

Now this was perhaps unsubtle (she compounded her 'crime' by speaking of the treatment that people with ginger hair experience) but there was an undeniable grain of truth buried within her ill judged comments. In addition, I believe that the subsequent backlash against her within the Labour party and across the media had itself an element of that very particular form of racism directed toward people with black skin, she was referring to.

There can be no denying that the racism experienced by those with black skin has a special kind of 'stamp' to it that puts it in a class of its own and is inherently different to the racism encountered by those whose appearance does not immediately mark them out for categorising as 'different', by those with a mind to think this way.

I'll give the example of a job interview. There are those whose immediate response to seeing a person of color sitting opposite them as candidate for an advertised position, will be to reject them with immediate effect. The darker the skin colour, the more strength will be given to this reaction (for it is a reaction rather than a thought out response). This is in some way qualitatively different from the response experienced by those of different ethnicity, but not marked out by the different colour of their skin, and Abbot was merely in her own unsubtle way, trying to point this out. That she should have been subject to such across the board venting of fury, culminating in her having the Labour whip withdrawn is telling of itself of the manner in which our society deals out 'justice' to those with a black skin.

Abbot alas has other factors working against her in addition to her skin colour. She is not beautiful and she has a tendency to say things in a clumsy fashion that makes her appear less accomplished an individual than she really is. She was the first black female mp and has not only a distinguished career in Law behind her, but has also been a strong advocate of both black and womens rights over the course of her subsequent parliamentary career. In addition to this, her perhaps poorly expressed letter to the Observer handed Kier Stamer a perfect excuse to target one of the few remaining allies of Jeremy Corbyn still sitting on the Labour benches of the House. That he immediately seized upon this opportunity to extract a political end from her indiscretion cannot be doubted - his hatred of Corbyn in particular and the left wing of his party in general is openly evidenced for all to see - but quite possibly also reveals an underlying tendency towards the very racism that he would pretend to condemn in others. In fact, if his actions in the last few months in his purging from the Labour ranks anything and anyone who does not tow the exact same line as he does are taken in the round, a very different picture from that of the 'one hundred percent commited to rooting out all forms of racism from the Party' individual that he would claim to be, seems to emerge. A startling number of those proscribed from standing for Labour candidacy in the next election, ot indeed thrown out of the party for being members of proscribed groups, seem to be individuals of either Jewish or coloured background (if background is the right word).

So yes, Diane Abbot can be silly and unsubtle, but her intent with this letter was not to diminish the importance or malign influence of antisemitism in our society, but rather to contribute to the debate on how racism, in all its forms, pernicious and overt, can be combated.

---------0--------

Quick return to the economy with the news that Chancellor Hunt and the Bank of England are coming under increasing pressure over their failure to get to grips with inflation, and the consequential effects of this on gilt prices.

News yesterday that insurance giant Legal and General are pulling out of the gilt markets because of worries about the security of investments therein, caused a flurry of activities amongst smaller lenders and banks/building societies pushing up interest rates. The cost of borrowing for the UK government is currently higher than that for Italy (which is traditionally held up as the basket case of the European economies) - an unprecedented situation for those who watch such things, and a measure of just how serious things are. Hunt has been lambasted for being sanguine about the idea of going into recession, and this morning is actively being touted as deliberately allowing this to happen as a means of getting inflation under control. It has been suggested that the Tories will have to face going into an election with the economy in recession - a circumstance that Sunak's backbenchers will not be at all happy about and not one that any political party close to an election would relish. It would take a better spinmeister than either Sunak or Hunt to sell that one to the British public, especially as the interest hikes getting ever larger and larger in the BofE's desperate attempts to get a handle on inflation start to drive more and more families into defaulting on their mortgage payments. It's like all of the Tories nightmares come together and Kier Stamer must be absolutely loving it.

And the government's woes are coming thick and fast from other directions as well.

The atrocious immigration figures (if you see it that way which I don't) are crucifying them with their own membership, and even normally trusted stalwarts like Telegraph pundit Fraser Nelson are suggesting that the Tories don't actually want to limit immigration, despite all their rhetoric to the contrary. The media are pilling in against them from all sides, and were the prospect of a general election not coming ever closer over the horizon (and the fact that they've had two unelected leaders on the trot already) then Sunak would be toast. As it is, if things get much worse and they don't get the gilt markets back under control with some alacrity......well, anything could happen. To be perfectly frank, I haven't the faintest where this will all end politically. Socially the picture is more clear. In fact, were it a picture taken from the common cultural iconography that we all recognise, I'd say Munch's The Scream would about sum it up.
Your politicians screwed you over and you are suprised by this?

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What Do You Think Today?

Post by peter »

With fusion power seemingly distant prospect and renewable energy, while a useful adjunct to energy policy, neither reliable nor efficient enough to meet energy demands in their totality, it would seem that nuclear power is the only realistically viable option if we are to wean ourselves off the carbon based fossil fuels that are wreaking such havoc with our global environment.

This is by no means as bad a prospect as conventional wisdom might seem to have it, but there is no denying that the byproducts of the process in terms of the spent fuel it leaves behind is a problem. Mitigating processes such as the recycling of the spent fuels back into usable materials can greatly reduce this waste in terms of quantity produced, and it should also be recognised that much of the radioactive waste produced in the generation of power is not, contrary to popular belief, of long-lasting duration (well - relatively speaking at least).

But do what you will, there is however a hard-core remaining proportion that is of highly dangerous radioactive levels having a half-life running into the hundreds of thousands of years.

What to do with it?

Blasting it into space would seem to be a viable option until one considers that were a single launch to misfire and bring the material crashing back to earth the results would be catastrophic. The reinforced cement casings in which the spent fuels are currently housed are tough - I mean really tough - capable of withstanding a direct head-on collision with a speeding freight train (its been done and filmed, and the footage cac be seen on YouTube), but are they tough enough to withstand a fall from high up in the atmosphere......unlikely at best.

Fortunately this residual high level waste is not produced in great quantities, but that which is produced must still be dealt with. Currently it is held by each country in their own facilities, there being no international arrangements for a shared site to store what amounts to a few thousands of tons produced annually. There is a shared belief among the community of scientists considering the problem that secure underground storage is by far the safest option for dealing with the material; stored deep within the earth's crust in sealed locations, the casings can easily last the required time for the fuels to achieve safe levels of radioactivity, but as yet no agreement has been reached specifying appropriate locations and construction agendas for such sites. That they would or should be internationally shared facilities with locations chosen to minimise risks in transportation of the materials to them is seen as a given, but we are ways away from the levels of international cooperation required for such a program to commence.

But putting this aside, and assuming that we can get our collective act sufficiently together in order to construct the sites, then one problem remains. Once any given storage facility is full, it will have to be sealed off deep within the earth, such that it is unlikely to be stumbled upon by future generations who might, following the passage of such momentous time spans, be totally unaware of what they have run into. And we can have no guarantee that such a chance encounter, should it occur, will be made by individuals who will have any ability to read or understand any information that we might choose to attempt to convey to them, giving warning as to what it is they have found. We are, after all, talking in terms of hundreds of thousands of years here. We have languages and scripts from but a few thousand years ago that we are unable to decipher, so it is no stretch to imagine that by the time a hundred thousand years has passed, any occupants of the earth resident at that point are unlikely to still be using the same language or scripts as we do.

The general consensus is that such facilities should at least be sealed using such technology such that a high degree of technical advancement would be required to obtain ingress to the facilities, but that still leaves the problem of language. The search was on, therefore, to develop such universally understood signs as might simply but unequivocally convey that the future putative discoverers had reached a place where they should go no further, or if they did, proceed with extreme caution.

The vid I saw on this subject, produced by the German theoretical physicist Sabine Hossenfelder (check out her YouTube vids if you haven't come across her) showd some of the symbols/pictures that the team working on the problem had come up with in order to try to tap into a really basic conveyance of danger, a transmission of the information of "proceed no further without extreme caution" in its simplest basic form, and they were to be honest, pretty weak. The one Hossenfelder said they settled on was a sort of field of spikes, steep cones with sharp points, this they felt, being pretty easily interpreted as a suggestion of risk or danger.

Well okay. I'd need to test it out on a thousand or so people not aware of what it was meant to convey in order to be convinced of it. It would certainly give the idea of an inhospitable area I suppose, but how would you respond to it if you came across it unannounced, say nailed to a tree on a walk through an unknown (to you) wood?

All of which got me to thinking, how would I convey the message across a hundred thousand years? How would you?

Can we come up with a simpler, less ambiguous figure or symbol - say a simple square of yellow and black stripes, this seeming to be nature's universal warning colours that one might assume, even in a hundred thousand years, will still be serving that purpose out in the natural world?

It's a knotty little problem and quite fun to think about actually, so give it a go. Come up with your ideas and if you've a mind to, let me know your thinking.

:)

(Edit: Actually, their field of spikes surrounded by a yellow and black striped border might do the trick? That would convey the dangerous area image with the universal natural colours of danger (as understood even by the 'lower' orders of animals)? That could work? Problem might be to develop the coloured pigments to last the duration, but the absence of light down in the depths should help with this.)
Your politicians screwed you over and you are suprised by this?

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
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'Of course - you know you have.'
'Then let it end.'

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Post by peter »

Met Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley has said that the capital's police force will stop attending call outs with a mental health background unless their is a threat to life or some other criminal aspect to justify their presence.

I cannot for the life of me see what they would have been doing at such occurences in the first place.

Of what possible use could a police officer be other than to exercise physical restraint upon an individual intent on damaging either themselves, another or others, or property? To my awareness officers have no counselling skills education as part of their training and so I struggle to see why they would ever be called in the first place. If a mentally ill person is creating a disturbance, fine - a crime is being committed. But what other possible reason other than the risks outlined above could occasion their being called.

Bizarre.

---------0--------

I was interested to see the name of senior oncologist Professor Karol Sicora popping up on the front of the Telegraph today, in a slightly critical suggestion that he'd been duped into recommending the early release of Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, when asked to examine the patient-prisoner as to the prognosis in respect of the latter's cancer. Al-Megrahi was released upon Sicora's prognosis that he had only months left to live, but went on to survive for a further three years following his release.

The story is interesting to me on two fronts. First, it absolutely shows to me the dangers of medical practitioners run when making predictions of this nature. The truth is that they simply cannot know with any degree of certainty how long a patient will survive and are ill-advised to enter into the prediction game in the first place. Yes, there are statistical probabilities, but there is never any knowing where within the bell curve of possibilities any given patient sits, and thus it is unwise to enter any forecast at all. In our veterinary practice, we avoided doing so, simply saying that we would stick to doing everything we could to maximise the quality of life for whatever time our patients had before them, be it days, months or years.

But Sicora cannot in this instance be blamed for entering into the fortune-telling frame, because he was enlisted precisely to do so. Sent to Turkey where al-Megrahi was being held, engaged by presumably the Turkish authorities by virtue of his experience and expertise, he was clearly put in the frame to make some assessment of the lifespan the prisoner could expect, and will no doubt have given his assessment in good faith and on the basis of the information and knowledge available to him and his discipline at the time. In a recently published book Sicora has said that the survival of the prisoner for some three years was probably as a result of his receiving aggressive doses of newly available drugs which were being tested at the time, and whose availability to the patient he could not have known. His prognosis he says, was based upon standard survival times given the usual medical treatments available in the day. I'd suggest that there was an additional factor. The simple unreliability of predictions of longevity in such cases. Doctors are always put out at any suggestion that they do not know (often in subjects completely outside the field of medicine as well as within), preferring to maintain their image of all-knowing, all-seeing wisdom in the public mind. That a particular piece of knowledge is simply beyond them is always a prick to the bubble of their hubris and they don't like it. I have no doubt that Sicora is no different to the rest of the herd in this respect.

Which however brings me onto the second point of interest I found in this story.

Although not mentioned in the Telegraph story referenced, Sicora was one of the leading voices against the now increasingly recognised as disproportionate response to the covid threat, calling out long before the figures of today prove him right, the disastrous effects that slowing down and even stopping the regular treatment and investigating of cancer patients that occurred during the pandemic. He, on this occasion at least was absolutely correct and the rising numbers of cancers now being discovered, sufferers of which will survive considerably less time than they otherwise might have hoped for, as a result of late diagnosis, make his point. He predicted that tens of thousands, if not hundreds, would die premature deaths because of that hiatus in screening and referrals, those missed appointments for chemo and radio therapy, and received nothing but bile and outrage (not to mention being shelved and ignored in the mainstream media) for saying so. This is the legacy of that covid hysteria that has blighted all of our lives since the world suffered it's period of collective madness. The Telegraph might not choose to say it, but where they fail, I at least do not.

Take note of this and come here each day for the alternative view. I can do no better than to recommend this.

;)

-------0-------

You're going to hear a lot more about the Bric countries in the near future.

That's Brasil, Russia, India, China - and now being joined by South Africa and Saudi Arabia amongst others (the running total is nine countries), all of whom are grouping together to form an economic and political center of gravity in the world, distinct from the old West European and American hegemony of world influence. The Bric's are in the process of forming a central bank and their is, I believe even talk of creating a new central currency to rival the dollar.

Because contrary to what our media would have us believe, the war in Ukraine is not isolating Russia, not devastating their economy and driving them to ruin (they've simply found other customers for their oil and gas, beyond the West), but rather it is simply hastening, accelerating a process that was already underway prior to the start of the war. This is the beginning of the rest of the world to get its act together to lead the world into a future beyond the Western hegemony. And Russia, contrary to what our papers and television channels would have us believe, is right at the heart of it. The truth is that as more countries see the writing on the wall and move to strengthen ties with this new emerging force, it is us - the British and Americans - who risk becoming isolated.

The price we pay for the Ukrainian war might be far higher than the cost of the bombs and missiles, the jets and tanks that we will send to make sure that the war is ongoing for as long as possible (that's our trick remember - we did the same in the Iran-Iraq war of the nineties), but rather the hastening of the breaking of our hegemony of world dominance and the development of alternative foci of power within the world of which we form no part.

Sobering stuff.
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You know something is sketchy when the government refuses to hand over crucial information to an official investigation, and that is exactly what they are doing with a request from Baroness Hallet for for the WhatsApp messages and emails that passed between the PM and his ministers at the start of the Covid pandemic.

The ministers in question are Boris Johnson (the then PM, Matt Hancock, Rishi Sunak and a number of others, all of whom made the decisions around which the course of the pandemic and our lives would circle for the next two years.

The government has agreed to release a certain amount of the information/communications requested, but in limited form - limited it says, by its legal requirement to do so - and in redacted form.

But what is it, exactly, that they have to hide?

We all know about Boris Johnson's pretty cavalier assesment of the threat posed by the newly isolated Covid virus, but my guess is that senior figures in today's government, quite possibly Sunak himself, would be shown to have been thinking in the same terms were the unexpurgated versions of the communications to be released. This would clearly be highly damaging for the individuals in question, and they are clearly prepared to go to singular lengths to prevent it happening. All of which has brought about a rather embarrassing confrontation between the government and the inquiry it instigated, which seems to be headed for the courts in order to resolve it, if no other compromise can be found.

The state of play as I post is that Hallet is placing the request in the hands of the courts and the government is instructing its lawyers to defend its decision to provide only those communications that it decides are pertinent to the inquiry. Key figures in the administration clearly fear that this could get messy and you can see why. Despite my belief that our response to the threat from the Covid virus was both disproportionate and disastrous, a knee-jerk reaction based largely on simply copying that which was being done elsewhere (and the media share no small part in the blame for this), in those early days none of this could be known. The Sars Cov2 virus could have been a game changer had it been as virulent as its forerunner the Sars CoV1, and we had every reason to expect that our administration would take it seriously and step up to the plate with the quick initiation of the steps that had been agreed upon in the earlier pandemic response protocols, as agreed upon and set down by the planning committee in (what was it?) 2011. Debate will continue long into the future as to what the effect of the Johnson administration's tardy response was on the final death toll (and indeed what that toll actually was, once the massaged figures have been set aside and new and objective ones been arrived at), but undoubtedly the mindset of the individuals making the decisions at the outset will have played an important role in this, and as such the communications between those individuals are key to giving an indication of where their thinking lay.

I don't believe the inquiry will begin to address the truly important areas raised by our response to Covid, namely did we massively overreact to a threat of minimal level at the instigation of a scientific community flying too high on borrowed wings? Was the epidemiological modelling so flawed, the assessment of the virulence and danger posed by the virus so over-hyped, that we effectively destroyed our own societies and economies in response to a threat that was in truth only of minimal level and limited application in terms of those it applied to? These are questions that our administrations simply have not the courage to broach, so instead will confine their questions as to what could have been done better, what could be done better assuming that the next virus to pop up from an as yet unexplained source does indeed turn out to be the 'death star' virus we thought Sars Cov2 to be.

But still, the communications are relevant and the government should spring them up. Baroness Hallet is absolutely correct to demand this level of openness and if we fail to get it, it will be just one further nail in the coffin of our confidence in the trustworthiness of our administrations.

---------0------------

If I strap a set of wings onto my cat and put a beak on him held on by elastic, does he become a bird? No, I don't think so. What if he believes he is a bird,? No, I still don't think it works. He remains at best, to my mind, an unconventional cat.

This is about as far as I can get into the, "when is a woman a woman, and when is a man a man" debate, and the key phrase in the above is, I believe, "to my mind".

Because that's it isn't it. We are all free to believe what we want on whatever we want - or we should be..... to my mind at least.
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The WhatsApp messages debacle between the government and the Covid investigation committee is descending into the level of farce with accusations and counter-accusations flying in all directions.

Let's see if I can pick the bones out of it.

On the six o'clock news last night the BBC told us that the "fight to stop Boris Johnson's WhatsApp messages being released ......, etc, etc, etc.

First point. It's not just Boris Johnson's messages - It's all of the relevant messages, and that includes those from Sunak and other key members of the administration of the day, many of whom are still sitting in the current administration.

In an odd piece of double standards, the same cabinet office (essentially the Downing Street executive arm of the PM and government) that handed over Boris Johnson's diaries and messages to the metropolitan police a few days ago (under the justification that they might contain evidence of additional law-breaking by the then PM, in the form of accounts of illegal meetings with friends at Chequers) are suddenly reticent to hand over the diaries and emails/message records of their own conversations at the same time, to the investigating committee.

Johnson for his part has said he is perfectly happy for the committee to see his messages and diaries - let's face it, he has little left to loose. The police already hold his diaries and everyone already knows that he didn't make much of the threat from covid at the start of the pandemic. He's perfectly aware that the handing over of the diaries to the police was a spiteful act instigated by Sunak in order to undermine his chances of a comeback by stirring up further scandal around him and has said as much. Now in today's Telegraph he is saying quite openly that the reason that the cabinet office (ie Sunak and cronies, acting behind their civil service screen) is fighting to withhold the messages and diaries is to protect their own skins, should the contents be made public. As if to add weight to this pretty obvious ploy on their part, last evening we had the odd (to say the least) state of affairs developing where at the deadline time for handing over the diaries and messages, the cabinet office suddenly said that they didn't have the requested material. Not one word to this effect had they said in the days and weeks leading up to the deadline - rather it was all arguments that the material was not relevant. And suddenly, as the eleventh hour came to an end, they didn't have the material. Not being funny, but this is not a good look for a government that came into being on a promise of straight dealing and openness.

James O'brien asked yesterday, what is it that they have to hide, and I think the answer falls into two categories.

Firstly there will be those pieces of evidence that show how little seriously some of the cabinet regarded the threat. Secondly there will be the details around what was considered in terms of possible actions once the threat had been acknowledged. The latter will have included all kinds of extreme and draconian suggestions (the mass euthanasia of all the country's cats is one that has already slipped out), the stuff that was put forward and quickly rejected as beyond the pale in terms of what the public would wear or what was democratically acceptable. The names behind those suggestions and the extremity of the same might prove to be very enlightening and embarrassing both.

So this is where we currently stand. On the basis of the government having suddenly 'lost' the requested information, the deadline has been extended, but the battle is by no means over. Set to last up to seven years (now there's a nice little earner for Hallet and Co.) the investigation is to give periodic updates as to its progress, the contents of which will undoubtedly fuel huge furore in the media when they are given. But if the whole process is to be hindered by governmental dissembling and delaying, then what hope of a satisfactory outcome yielding fruitful material upon which to base future policy anyway? They'd just as well pack up and go home now.

-------0--------

Moscow has been hit by a coordinated strike of drones that has caused significant damage and injured at least one individual.

Putin is fuming about the attacks and says he will take severe retaliatory measures against Ukraine for the strikes. Washington is for the moment remaining quiet on the subject, but can only be worried (as must our administration be) by this undeniable escalation in the Ukrainian conflict. Biden has in the past strongly advised against such attacks deep into the heart of Russia, although attacks of lesser scale against targets of lower significance have been carried out, and the Ukrainian decision to ignore this advice cannot but fail to displease him.

Unless of course he is playing a double game.

One wonders at the Ukrainian capability of mounting such technically advanced forms of attack, and one cannot but help being somewhat sceptical that they would have had the capacity to pull this off without help. Someone after all had to supply the drones, the targeting equipment, the expertise in its use. Would it be unreasonable to speculate that the USA must have had a hand in the provision of the requisite equipment and expertise, if not the actual execution of the strikes themselves?

That the economic war that is progressing alongside the physical one on the ground is not going well hardly needs to be said. Russia is not isolated as was hoped it would be, the rouble has not collapsed. There is every sign that now the initial phase of the war is over, the Russians are digging in for the long-haul. And despite what we are continuously being told by our media, they are not on the constant verge of defeat. Look at the maps they are showing on your news screens. The Russians, like it or not, are holding virtually the entire east of the country. They are being routed in this spot, making gains in that, but the front remains stubbornly in place and shows no sign of going anywhere other than where it is in the near future. Perhaps then, despite Biden's words in public, the Americans have decided to up the ante. There is nothing like a few strikes right into the heart of the homeland to bring home to the people the reality of the wars that their governments are prosecuting, and the Moscow strikes will put further pressure on Putin from his own people to wrap this thing up.

And he has said recently that he is open to talks. Western commentators have poured scorn on this, saying that unless he is prepared to pull out of Ukraine, which they say he is not, his words are just that. Mere words, meaningless in terms of content.

Well yes - it would be inconvenient for us to say anything other - but this conflict is exacting a price on Putin's leadership at home and why wouldn't he want out of it if he could. His military might clearly extended less far than he had been led to believe when he instigated this conflict (the early attempts to encircle Kiev showed that with their failure) and he has found himself (as so often occurs with leaders who start wars with third countries - ask the Americans) bogged down in a conflict that he promised could be carried out in weeks. By now it stands to reason that he'd want a resolution that allowed fim to save face at home, and I'd think that on this basis we can probably guess there to be more of a genuine intention in his words than our media would have us believe. Russia is a key part of the Bric development and the last thing it would want is to see its role in this increasingly successful looking venture wasted, squandered on the anvil of a futile war that it has no desire to pursue.

And irrespective of what our media tells us (which will, after all, just be what our government wants them to), President Zelensky and the Ukrainian people must be hearing this. I'd be very surprised if Zelensky himself will not be considering if, when all is said and done, he might not himself be better of seeking some kind of alignment with this emerging power rather than remaining joined at the hip with the Western hegemony in decline. Might not he, behind the scenes and despite his rhetoric when in front of Western tv cameras, be considering the 'realpolitik' of the situation, that just perhaps, when Putin comes bearing the olive branch of peace, alongside his compatriots within the Bric, China, Saudi Arabia, South Africa......might he not think that the clever money has to be at least to hear what they have to say? I know I would.

Our administrations love affair with Ukraine and her people will stretch only as far as their being prepared to do exactly and only what we tell them. Thankfully the cynicism and self interest of our leaderships is not all, but is inversely mirror imaged by the generosity of spirit and compassion of the people themselves. I hope the Ukrainians understand this, whatever course of action they choose for the future.
Your politicians screwed you over and you are suprised by this?

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
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'Of course - you know you have.'
'Then let it end.'

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I find myself oddly disinterested in the offerings of today's front pages - Schofield, inheritance tax, eco protests and the like - but there are a few quick areas upon which I'd like to make passing comment.

Prince Harry and his wife have apparently said that from now on there will be no more interviews and revealing books, no more carping on about how unfair life has been to them and how shockingly they have been treated. "That period of their life is over", spokesperson has been quoted as saying, "There is nothing left to say."

Can they just do that? Just blithely brush away all they have said, like it's yesterday's news? No longer interested in it?

Mmmm..... Let's see how that goes shall we.

Vladimir Putin has said that UK leaders are supporting and promoting the Ukrainian war effort with equipment, arms and training and therefore rendering themselves as legitimate targets for reprisals in whatever form they may come. There is little doubt as to the Russian leader's meaning, and given his propensity for extra-judical killing on territory other than Russian soil (and the methods his secret services elect to use in such activities) one cannot do other than to take his threats seriously.

But I suppose giving Ukraine arms, training and equipment free, gratis and for nothing does put us in a different space from the Russian perspective, than were we simply selling these necessary inclusions for the prosecution of a war on the open market (as it were) to all comers, and Ukraine just happened to be buying. This makes it look like we have 'skin in the game' (which of course we do) to a greater extent that would otherwise be the case.

But either ways, the thing is getting a bit up close and personal, and were I at the top of our governmental tree, I'd be a bit sketchy about anybody approaching me with a rolled up umbrella for the next few years or so!

Boris Johnson, never one to miss a trick, has pilled the pressure onto the Sunak led cabinet office by handing over all his diaries and messages to the government, saying he is perfectly happy for the Hallet led Covid investigation committee to have them in full unredacted form. Sunak, however, is not happy for them to have them, in redacted form or otherwise. Citing privacy concerns, he is digging his heels in and refusing to play ball with the committee request. It's not very often that Johnson gets to take the moral high ground on anything, especially over 'Rishi' (as the cuddly moniker that the commentariat would have us call our PM) and I bet he's loving every minute of it.

Let's have a look, Moody's have said we're heading for recession, free speech under threat in universities, Bulgaria to help in fight against small boats.....ah.....here we are, "Henry the VIII Wasn't Such a Wrong'un!", says the front page of the Star.

"Boffins" (the Star's collective name for anyone who works in an educational establishment higher than a pre-school playgroup) have decided that fat Henry wasn't so bad as his press would have us believe. That would be despite chopping the heads off anyone who got under his wide expanse of skin, bankrupting the nation and alienating us from just about every other country in the known world at the time.

And despite (a deed that the Star failed to mention) deciding on one occasion, to have a man boiled alive in front of him, just to see what it would look like.

Even our Henry, not noted for his empathetic qualities, decided against having the process repeated, saying that it was "not a fit way" for a man to end. Well that was kind of him. Remember that story when you eventually get to tick a box in a referendum on whether we should retain the monarchy. It could help to focus your mind.
Your politicians screwed you over and you are suprised by this?

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
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Taylor Swift fans attending venues on her current tour are reporting a strange phenomena whereby a few hours after the event, having listened to some forty songs belted out by the performer, they are unable to remember a single moment of the event.

Psychologists have suggested that it may be some form of rare collective amnesia, brought about by the high emotion and excitement that the crowd is subject to at the events.

Possible, but I'd suggest an alternative explanation. That the performances are just unusually and exceptionally forgettable.

-------0------

I reported yesterday that it was unusual for Boris Johnson to be able to take the moral high-ground in any situation, but this rare occurence seemed to be the case in his unusual display of openness in respect of his covid related WhatsApp messages and diaries, which he had submitted in full to the cabinet office with instructions that they ne handed to the Hallet covid inquiry team in unredacted form. This is of course in contrast to the Sunak administration desires, who want the material submitted to first be vetted by their own lawyers (ie themselves) to decide upon its relevance for inclusion.

Typically however it turns out that Johnson was being slippery.

The mobile phone he used during the early days of the pandemic, the really relevant part when opportunities to nip the thing in the bud might well have been missed, has not, it transpires, been turned over. This is of course the time period in which ex special advisor Dominic Cummings accuses Johnson of being almost criminally negligent in his level of unconcernedness at the approaching threat, and it is safe to say that this phone would include much of the relevant material in terms of messages and communications, that would confirm or deny this.

Johnson's belated reasons for the withholding are that the phone has been switched off for security reasons since around May of the year in question, some months after the pandemic broke. It may be remembered that at this time a newspaper scandal broke out in which it was revealed that Johnson was using a phone that had a freely listed number available to any old Tom, Dick or Harry, and that this was not considered to be in the nation's security interests given the sensitive nature of the PM's work. He says he has been instructed that the phone must not be turned on and his failure to release the phone is a simple matter of compliance with this. He adds that he is happy to release the phone if the relevant material can be extracted with safety, and awaits the government instruction on this.

Clearly the story has the handprints of the Sunak cabinet office all over it as they attempt to pull Johnson off his moral high-horse; it must be galling in the extreme for Sunak to be shown to be morally wanting by Johnson of all people, and this development is no doubt their attempt to counter that situation. But of course there would be some truth in it; Johnson could no more perform his political act without some degree of legerdermaine than Paul Daniels could have performed his - its simply not in his nature to do anything straight that can be done twisted. Still, he must have enjoyed his 24 hours of moral superiority in which Sunak and his team were made to squirm. But now it's back to slippery business as usual and to be frank, neither party can hold a candle to the other in terms of rectitude and straight dealing. They're both equally bad. We know it. They know we know it.

-------0-------

As predicted, house prices are starting to tumble as the gilt price driven mortgage crisis continues to worsen.

The sector has seen the biggest fall in value of housing stock for fourteen years (since the banking crash) with 9000 pounds wiped of the value of the average 3 bedroom semi.

This will be bad news in the extreme for the Tory Party who absolutely rely on the rising value of property for their continued support from their key voting base, and the news can only increase the disquiet of the Party grandees and backbench MPs with the leadership.

And it isn't going to get any better. Mortgage products are being pulled like sheets of toilet paper from a roll and rates for new purchasers are at their worst for years. Tens of thousands of families face renegotiation of their mortgage deals as fixed term payment agreements come to their end, and huge numbers will simply not be able to afford the new offerings at the significantly higher prices. This will push more housing stock onto the market as these unfortunate people loose their homes, and house prices will be depressed yet further. The cycle, once it begins, becomes self-sustaining and short of governmental action to reduce interest rates (which they cannot do because of the upwards pressure this would put on gilts) it will continue until a new and much reduced property value level has been reached. Ultimately falling prices will bring demand back into the system and prices will stabilise, but by this point the damage to the Tories will be done. They must know this (as must Stamer's Labour Party) and know in their heart of hearts that their goose is cooked.

On Stamer, he has a knotty little problem arising in that Jeremy Corbyn's fortieth anniversary as a Labour MP is coming up in a few days time, and in recognition of his contribution a rally is being held in his constituency (at a local football stadium I believe) to mark the occasion. It promises to be a rallying point for the beleaguered left of the party and Kier Stamer will be hoping that the media will ignore it (which they will) and it will go away without comment. The last thing that the current leader wants is for people to be reminded that Corbyn was working for the rights of people and the Labour Party while he, Stamer, was still in short trousers; perish the thought that they should get the idea that he was actually a good MP, that he wasn't perhaps the evil antisemite that the establishment painted him (aided and abetted by the current leadership itself).

That's the trouble with Corbyn, he just doesn't know when to stop. He never did. Right from the get-go when he was put forth sarcastically as prospective leader by the now disappeared Chukka Umoona (don't know if that's how you spell his name - can't be bothered to check) as an 'alternative candidate' to the all right wing shortlist (to show the so called inclusivity of the party), he never realised that he was not supposed to win. He was supposed to stand, be thrashed, and then dissappear back to the backbenchers to continue with the dull stuff like helping the poor of his constituency, supporting the rights of the disabled, the marginalised and (heaven forbid) the Palestinian people being killed in their streets in far off Gazza and the West Bank.

God, I hope that stadium is full to the rafters! 100 MPs with the genuine commitment of Corbyn for the welfare of the British people in that House could change this country beyond recognition. But that would never do now would it.
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Over the past few days, during the particularly fine weather we have enjoying, I've been taking the opportunity to visit some of Cornwall's best gardens at NT properties around the county. Cornwall gardens are very often so called 'spring gardens', because of their favouring of rhododendrons and magnolia trees, alongside azaleas and cherry trees.

Truly this time of year sees the whole county at its best - the trees and meadows are verdant and the lanes one drives through in order to reach said gardens are things of rare beauty in themselves, wild and colourful with the yellows and pinks of gorse and thrift mixed in with the blues and whites of bluebells and blackthorn. Birds are out in force and the whole buzzing with insect life and small mammals, invigorated and busy within the profusion around them.

Driving along I realise just how lucky I am. I live, at this time of year, in the most beautiful part of the most beautiful country in the world.

And I don't mean this in an airy-fairy way - some off the cuff way that can be taken with a rhetorical pinch of salt and then forgotten - I mean it for real.

I've travelled across all the continents of the world bar Australia. I've seen mountains and jungles, plains and forests, but never - never - have I seen anything to equal the quiet pastoral beauty of the meadows and hedgerows, the tangled beauty of its large country house gardens, the panoramic stretch of its cliffs and beaches, its blue-green seas and rolling cliff walks, anywhere else in the world, in the morning of a spring and early summer Cornwall day.

And I was born and have lived here, for the majority of my life, never further than minutes away from countryside at its best. Tell me I'm not a lucky man.

And contrary to what many will think, this is not just a subjective bias, born out of my hailing from this particular region - one that would be shared by each for his own particular place of birth, when seeing it on the rare days where it would show itself at its true best. I fully recognise the grandeur that many other places can muster, far in excess of anything Cornwall has to offer. Or the mysterious secrets of the dessert, the hidden jewels of colour and vibrancy deep within the jungle, the vast and ancient ranges of the rock formations and flatlands of the Americas......but put this against the quiet meditative quality of a river running by a tree under a Cornish meadow, on the morning of a day in spring and early summer, and I know which one will provide the anodyne to our modern lives in a way that those others cannot begin to approach. If you could bottle this, as they say, you'd be a millionaire overnight.

So situated as I am, as we in my part of the country are, we are better placed to withstand what is coming than anyone else in our nation.

Because as the now inevitable happens - as our country goes into a period of extended decline, brought about by a decade plus of mismanagement and bad luck (think the Brexit lunacy followed by the pandemic idiocy followed by the Ukrainian conflict), and we (the bulk of the people at least) settle to a lower, more constrained existence where we are more confined to the areas we happen to live in, then those of my locality will be more strongly positioned than most to weather the storm.

Ex Tory Party grandee and former Governor of Hong-Kong Chris Patten, talking on the BBC's Question Time the other night, spelled it out in two minutes of honest talk, the like of which you would never hear from a front bench politician, in a month of Sundays. We have inflicted damage upon ourselves, and suffered bad luck alongside it, that will be decades in the fixing. Our standards of living are going to fall, the certainties of medical care and welfare of the past are going to dissappear and life, for the bulk of us will be a meaner and more precarious affair. This is now a virtual certainty and nothing is going to change it.

And the Tories know this. I doubt that they will place much hope in doing anything of note in the next election - never will an eighty seat majority have been spaffed up against the wall either so quickly or so willingly. The last thing that they will want will be to be holding the reins of government when the inevitable shit hits the fan for all of this, and my bet is they will run for the hills for an election cycle or two, until the worst of the dust has settled. That way they can level the blame on Labour for the wrecking ball that they themselves have unleashed on the country, and come back in a decade or so under new leadership.

Not a terribly positive outlook I'm afraid and I fear for those who do not enjoy the benefits of living in an area where consolations are given simply by walking a short distance from where you actually live, consolations that short of locking you inside your house or illness or other misfortune, cannot be easily taken away.

But there it is. We have made our beds, allowed ourselves to be put in this position by our disinterest and shallow appreciation of how we are governed. The 'politics is boring' and 'it doesn't make any difference to me' mindset of the bulk of the people is coming home to roost in ways coming soon to a doorstep near you. Too late to worry about it now.
Last edited by peter on Sun Jun 04, 2023 5:15 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Information is slowly leaking out about the activities of the government's counter disinformation unit (CDU) during the pandemic.

The CDU was set up in secret to work with social media providers to track, and in some cases even censor and remove, posts by prominent individuals who were not towing the official line in respect of the 'crisis'. This included areas such as perceived threat levels, vaccination and passport positions, and overall take on the handling and measures being carried out by the government. A similar body also worked in the USA to the same effect.

I don't know about you, but there is something chilling about this kind of activity, something decidedly Orwellian. Surely vigorous discussion involving all sides of the arguments, is desirable - not just on situations like the covid pandemic, but on all of the activities of our governments, and nothing is achieved by attempting to stifle particular viewpoints, even when they appear to be unfounded or irrational when placed against the known facts of a situation. How long before the use of such units moves beyond that which it considers to be palpably false, into areas of simple disagreement with a particular political line? And who is to say what is and is not disinformation anyway? Who in our crop of politicians do we consider fit to make such decisions?

Surely if disinformation is as it would by definition appear, contrary to the truth, discussion can only serve to expose it as such, not promote it? The way to counter it is by argument not by censorship. The latter will only ever serve to give it credibility. Take flat earth theory or indeed intelligent design as cases in point. Their cases are not diminished by tracking and censorship - they fail and fall because they do not stack up against the facts. To attempt to push them underground by prescribing their message would not impede their spread; on the contrary it would facilitate it. The internet is way too leaky a sieve for this to be a successful strategy even if it were a palatable one, which to my thinking it is not.

Sorry, for our governments to act in this way does not for me pass the 'smell test'. I think that it is, alongside its counterparts of behavioral nudging and psychological moulding, the use of fear tactics and propoganda, spin and distraction, simply a further reason why we should view our governments with suspicion and mistrust. As stories like this emerge, this seems an evermore warranted stance, and one cannot but feel that they are but simply a foretaste of yet worse things to come. We are granting our governments way too much leeway in the manner in which they operate; our levels of tolerance for duplicitous behaviour and methods way exceed that which would have caused outrage to earlier generations, both among the public and the politicians alike. I say with some certainty that politicians such as Churchill and Altee would have recognised in these methods, far more about the ideologies and systems they went to war against, metaphorically and physically, than they would see them as permissable tactics to be employed in dealing with the populations they had been elected to serve.

But this is the place to which we are come and except by exposure and discussion and yes, that other thing that our governments would clamp down on, protest, I can think of no way in which we can oppose the trend.

--------0--------

Apparently the BBC is set to poach Holly Willoughby following the scandal that has overcome her This Morning co-presenter Phillip Schofield in the last few weeks. Whether this will be on Master Chef or one of the other myriad cooking shows we are daily subjected to on the channel (when they are not too busy acting as the government's tame poodle), I have no idea, but I look forward to sampling the dish at a restaurant or greasy spoon cafe of my patronage in the near future.

-------0----------
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Gratifying to see on the front cover of this morning's Telegraph confirmation from the John Hopkins University that the social and economic cost of lockdown dwarfed any lives saved thereby (estimated for the UK at around 1,700), but disappointing in its failure to grasp the true nettle - that of the medical cost resulting from late diagnoses and delayed treatment plans, consequent upon the effective cessation of normal activities within the health service.

Not until an assessment of these collateral costs is made can a true bill of sale be drawn up for the damage we inflicted upon ourselves with our ill-advised and knee-jerk response to the covid virus. Add this to the loss and shortening of life, the toll of quality life-hours lost resulting from the economic shortfalls in terms of services lost as a result of lessened revenue, and the true cost of what we did is staggering. Neither did the Telegraph report, nor will the Baroness Hallet inquiry, touch upon this.

-------0-------

It's been a bad weekend for mortgages with the news that giant lender Santander is increasing rates and TSB is withdrawing ten year fixed rate plans. Around a hundred thousand homeowners are set to see their mortgage costs rocket in the forthcoming weeks as their existing deals come to an end, and the failure of many to be able to meet the new costs they will incur will only drive more properties onto the market at the very time when people are least able to raise the finance to purchase them. This will drive down property prices and the Tories, ever dependant upon a continually rising property market for votes, will suffer at the polls.

I've said above that I'd think many if not most Tory MPs will have pretty much given up the ghost in respect of the next general election, and in fairness, given the economic skip-fire resulting from twelve years of their governance, one could hardly blame them for not being too unhappy to take a backseat for the next few years.

Given this, it is interesting to speculate as to how the next election might pan out.

Set to occur between now and the end of 2024, my bet is that Sunak will wait until the middle of next year and then call a fairly quick election. He is himself looking increasingly weak and beleaguered as a PM, afraid of his right wing and facing a literally horrendous picture economically as the effects of his disastrous furlough scheme and Brexit begin to bite. Government borrowing has never been bigger, nor more expensive. Caught between a rock and a hard place, he's a gonner as leader even were he to scrape an election win.

So it should be fair wind and a sailing over the line for Kier Stamer and Labour really, but if the recent local election figures are any indication of future voting intentions it's by far from in the bag. The truth is that Labour are hemorrhaging support from the left as the traditional working class vote increasingly realises that he is not really their man. This alongside Tory losses to the Lib-dems and Greens is making for an interesting picture as we approach the pre-election period. The latter two parties showed significant gains - really significant gains - I the local elections, and while not enough to bring them power, certainly enough to put them in a position of holding the balance of it. Stamer has all but acknowledged this already, and has ruled out any post electoral compact with the SNP. In other words (words he will not utter, but are obvious by virtue of their not being said) he will be prepared to go into coalition or other arrangement with either of these two parties - or indeed both - if that is what is necessary in order to win power.

And then, further adding to the Tories woes, we have the little talked about but certainly preparing themselves Reform UK Party. Spawned from Farage's Ukip, and led by a presentable and charismatic new leader in Richard Tice (with Farage still absolutely knocking around to lend him support), there will be huge numbers of disgruntled and disgusted Tories - disgusted at what they see as the Tories failure to deliver Brexit and control immigration - who will jump ship to this party, temporarily for this election if not permanently. This is going to knock a chunk of their vote away - certainly enough to loose them the seats in the large number held by only small majorities - and thus could we see what seems to be an almost unassailable eighty seat majority dissappear overnight and leave them out of power, potentially for a very long time. (Luckily they have Stamer fronting their B-Team for them while this term elapses, so they needn't worry too much.)

But back to Farage's Reform UK, Farage himself has admitted that it was an error to pull out of Tory marginal seats in the last election, because in his view it allowed the current administration in to screw up his beloved Brexit, which he assures us could have been made to work in the right hands (ie his). Had he not pulled his candidates at that occasion, it's very unlikely that the Tories would have had their eighty seat majority, and who knows where we would be now. Farage will certainly not make the same mistake again - he doesn't believe Sunak is a true brexiteer and quite probably has more trust in Stamer (still shouting his determination to "Make Brexit Work" to anyone who will listen) than a bloke who, given his, Farage's, way, would not be within a mile of the Prime Ministership anyway (since his parents would never have been allowed to emigrate here in the first place).

So the Tories are going to hammered on all sides. Punished for their failure to deal with immigration, punished for screwing up the value of people's property investments, punished for having an Indian guy as their leader, punished for people's disillusioned perception of Brexit (which only fifteen percent still believe was a good idea). Labour will likely take power, but in much reduced status, since they will likely be reliant upon the Lib-dems and Greens to do so. Maybe, just maybe, something good will come out of it if in consequence Labour are encouraged to once again take up their initial pledge (since dropped because it didn't suit Stamer at that point) to support the introduction of PR. Electoral reform of the first passed the post system that has so blighted our country and left power essentially in the hands of a minority of the population (a tory minority of course), is absolutely key to beginning our recovery as a nation, and if the next election result helps to further that end, then all will not have been wasted.

But anyway, that's my prediction at this point. I'll probably change it a few times between now and the event but hey, it's allowed isn't it?

Have a nice Monday folks.

;)
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Funny how of his five priorities, the only one that Rishi Sunak want's to talk about is his fight against the small boats.

He was out again yesterday, bobbing up and down on a boat, looking like an overgrown Action Man figure (the limited edition one) sitting earnestly while listening to the skipper of the vessel he was riding.

I assume this was some kind of search vessel, guarding our waters against the (what was it Suella Braverman called it?) "invasion" of illegal migrants (rapists and child molesters was it?) attempting to swamp our shores.

We learned that the Bibbi Stockholm accomodation vessel will start taking prisoners (call a spade a spade) in the next few days and that two further prison barges are in the process of being fitted out, each of which will accommodate a further thousand illegals prior to their deportation to 'safe' third countries like Rwanda and Albania.

"The policy is working. The policy is working," shrieked Little Rishi, citing a fifty percent drop in sailings in the last twelve months since the Rwanda scheme was first cited.

Well ok, let's give him that one, always assuming you are prepared to turn a blind eye to the mountain of out of control legal immigration and concentrate on the pimple of illegal. But this was a day following the announcement of swingeing mortgage cost increases to people already screwed into the ground as a result of the disastrous Truss mini-budget and concurrent cost of living rises. Mortgage products are at an all time low, ten year fixed mortgages are being pulled and the chances of young people getting onto the property ladder is fading away to zero unless you earn in the top ten percent of wage earners or have parents dripping with spare gelt. No mention of this though. Rishi prefers you to concentrate on the illegals.

Halving inflation - well, it's down, but neither as far or fast as it should be, and that's majorly important to the future wellbeing of people already on the brink. Little do they realise that there is another hike in food prices (and likely a concurrent drop in availability) coming in October, when the trade sanctions of the Johnson withdrawal agreement are finally set to come into play. At this point, large numbers of EU food exporters will simply cease to export to the UK. It simply won't be worth the time or trouble. So the cost of living priority......mmmm....... let's look at the illegals instead.

Growing the economy? Not seeing much movement there either. We are scrabbling at the cliff edge of recession, clinging on to point zero's of a percent of growth (having sacrificed four percent on the brexit alter), inward investment is tanking as are exports to the EU and there are no trade deals worth anything like that which we have sacrificed in the offing. So no. Let's not look at growth, let's concentrate on the illegals instead.

And cutting the hospital waiting lists? Well we'd seen a modicum of improvement since the end of the pandemic nonsense, but let's face it, it would have been hard not to. Doctors and nurses were working again in something like normally functioning hospitals, concentration was being placed on catching up with the backlog - there was bound to be a slight fall. But suddenly the doctors and nurses realised that their wages, already far behind the peak values they had reached when the Tories came to power thirteen years ago as a result of less than inflation wage rises, were going to be knocked into the woods by the cost of living increases. So they did what was almost unheard of and decided to strike for more money..... and back we were to square one. The government isn't going to talk turkey on wage increases (not their responsibility you see) so back we go. So no Rishi, better avoid that chestnut, better stick to illegal immigration instead.

So you keep bobbing about on the boats, keep pointing out to sea as a distraction from what is really important (and thank the god's for Holly and Phil - the ultimate dead cats sent like manna from heaven to aid you) - but watch out. Back on shore Cruella - sorry, Suella is watching and (not so patiently) waiting. And you know how keen she is on the boats as well. Be careful or you might look up and find yourself 'accidentally' shipped off to Rwanda!

----------0--------

Another day, another bogeyman!

"Two years to save the world from AI!" screams the Times this morning, as we/it/they (take your pick) find yet another existential threat to worry about (add it to the list of global warming, viral pandemic, nuclear war, falling male fertility due to over-tight underpants wearing). Anybody would think we didn't have enough to think about with the very real stuff that is coming down the track towards us with the destructive capability of a speeding freight train.

Yet in the Financial Times, Apple announces its newly available headset, the first product it has produced that you "look through, not at".

Slowly, as you read the papers each day (and not all that slowly actually) you see the shape of the world of tomorrow coming into focus. For an oldie like me, already struggling to keep up in the areas that I absolutely have to (like seeing my wage slips and booking my repeat prescriptions etc) it isn't a place that I'm liking the look of very much. If the world goes through half the change that I have experienced in nearly seventy years, then it will be unrecognisable in another seventy, but the likelihood is that it will change not less, but exponentially more.

I see a place where even if we are not physically joined to our tech, then it will have become so integrated into our everyday lives that there will be not a moment of time in any day where it is not having an input. Look at people going down the roads, heads glued to their mobiles, even now, to see the obviousness of this assumption. These machines are already determining how we think, respond to the input of our daily lives, by virtue of the algorithmic function they apply to us individually. They feed your input, build upon biases that you already have and make you more extreme in your thinking. They echo-chamber your thinking, build up areas of illusiory consensus on the fringes of opinion, and generally distort the critical thinking process in insidious ways you are not aware of. They place barriers between you and the real world, the people who you should be seeing eyeball to eyeball, instead you are communicating with via a screen, as if that is an acceptable compromise. Nature is seen through a screen of 'data'.

Yesterday I walked again through a beautiful Cornish garden. With no phone, no tablet, no screen, just watching and smelling and listening. Inner peace and tranquility? Not exactly. But certainly closer to who I am than the thing I become with a screen in front of me. And bad enough with the screen that I can take time away from. The Apple world of the screen that you look through, the constant two way mirror that watches you, watching it, watching you, seems like unto a dystopian hell to me and I thank the lord that I'll be long dead and gone before it gets into its stride.
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The present is a state of constant conflict between the past and the future. :D

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:biggrin: Indeed Av,and I'll give you a case in point.

I'm constantly amazed by the fact that the media, the pundits and politicians are so focused on the Baroness Hallet led covid inquiry, which skirts around the edges of the issue by limiting itself to a remit of consideration of what mistakes were made in instigation and application of the pandemic policy adopted, what lessons can be learned for the future operation of the same, that they never seem consider the central question of whether the policy should have been adopted in the first place. Why is this not the focus of the inquiry, and why are the commentators not demanding it?

Surely given the catastrophic economic and social cost of the lockdown policy, the equally devastating effects of stopping NHS services in their tracks, and the paltry gains that were made as a result of it (estimated at around 1,700 lives saved in a recent assessment), this should be the single most important question being asked, but it seems that no-one - even the champions who argued vehemently against the policy in the day - is prepared to call out the government on this act of deliberate omission, the slight of hand that says "Look at what I am doing here, not what I am not doing over there."

I believe that this question is being avoided because the answers it would give are simply too much to be born.

That we, under the leadership of a government that rather than sticking to the emergency protocol it had drawn up a decade before, were led by the nose into instigation of a destructive policy of lockdown by virtue of a simple desire to follow the herd and not to be seen to be behind the curve in the imposition of the draconian measures that other nations were following.

That in a bout of collective panic and knee-jerk reaction to a specifically limited threat, we essentially destroyed our country for nothing. And our media is too weak and insipid to call this refusal to address the question to account.

Those who will not in the present, learn the lessons of the past are condemned to repeat their mistakes in the future - or something.
;)

---------0---------

The media is full of the bombing of this dam in the Ukraine at the moment, and while there is no evidence that it was the Russians who carried out this act, are yet still blaming them for the consequential effects of thousands of people having to evacuate their homes, and perhaps more worryingly, of jeopardising the safety of the nuclear plant at Zaporizhzia which is dependent upon the water from the Dnipre to cool its currently inactive fuel rods, thereby preventing nuclear meltdown ala Chernobyl from occurring.

Zelensky is saying that this is a new phase in the war and that the act was one of terrorism and a prelude to possibly worse in that the Russians have got the power plant rigged with explosives and ready to destroy at a moments notice.

Well okay, but why?

In the event of a meltdown (which would apparently dwarf that which occurred at Chernobyl) a good portion of Europe and half of Russia would be effected by the resulting nuclear contamination. What in the blue blazes would Putin do this for? It makes no sense.

Ukraine, Russia, America, the UK.

The longer this thing goes on the more I incline toward the view that there are no good guys at the top of this. Not Zelensky or Bush, or Putin or anyone else. There are just those who would wage and continue this senseless war, and those who pay the cost for it. Lenin, when asked which side he would support in the recently started Great War between Germany and Britain said neither. As far as he was concerned it was a conflict between two capitalist nations in which Russia had no interest. He was jailed for this statement, but nevertheless, there are parallels. We have two essentially corrupt regimes at war with the military industrial complex of the West rubbing its hands together at the thought of the income stream that an ongoing conflict provides them with. Putin cares no more about the people of the Donbas than does Biden. Zelensky was far from caring too much about those people when they led lives of second class citizenry ala the Catholics in Northern Ireland, before the war. And come to that, if the people of Ukraine are so behind the struggle, why are all men of service age prohibited from leaving the country? If this is a fight worth the candle let those people who will die on the front lines decide for themselves whether they choose to enter the fight.

And the tragedy is that when it is settled by diplomatic agreement - and it will be settled in this way, not by military victory or surrender or anything - the chances are that the settlement agreed upon will not be materially different from that which could have been achieved in the very early stages of the conflict, had steps been taken at that point.

But then, British Aerospace would not have its forty billion pounds advance order book which it has announced on the back of the conflict would it? And no doubt multiple equivalents in the US would not be showing the healthy profit forecasts that have shareholders laughing all the way to the bank would they?

So no. Spare me the good guy, bad guy routine in all of this. There is simply those who gain and those who pay the price. The division here is a top-bottom one not an East-West. Don't be fooled by what they are telling us - it's all bullshit.

---------0-------
Our country is judged globally by the state of our press and our government, both of which I believe are at rock bottom. Democracy fails when your press fails to scrutinise and hold the government accountable, and instead chooses to get into bed with them so they can ensure the status quo.
Prince Harry in court yesterday. Need I say more.
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Had a woman in the shop yesterday, early thirties, who I overheard telling a colleague that she was home-educating her two children, 5 and 7 and had been since the pandemic.

Her reason was that she'd been finding the school run difficult due to the placement of her eldest child at the time, at a somewhat distant school from where she lived. She had become used to the home schooling during the period of school closures during the pandemic and had simply continued to do so since then. No, she was not a teacher.

Her children are no doubt among the 'missing' that the authorities have absolutely no idea of their whereabouts since the foolish closure of schools (yet another strike against the ridiculous overreaction we had to the virus), and while I have no doubt about the woman's motives or that she has the best of intentions, I absolutely question her capacity to perform both her normal daily duties and provide sufficient monitored schooling for her two young children, such that their educational needs are met in a manner that will allow them to keep pace with their regularly educated peers.

Besides which there is the question of their social development, their acquisition of the skills needed to read and interact with their age cohort (initially) and ultimately to function within the broader society when they reach adulthood. This period of lower interaction with other children of their age group, with adults who are not their parents, is bound to effect their development and result in their being different people than they otherwise would have been had they been attending schools and mixing in larger groups during this formative period in their growing up.

And then there is the unpleasant but necessary topic of abuse. It cannot have escaped the notice of anyone who watches the news that in almost all of the tragic cases of sustained child abuse that result in the death of a child, that child has been home schooled. It is a vital if not often recognised role of schools, to monitor the health and well-being of children in their educational care, and that that regular and sustained period of opportunity to see the child away from its parents is critical in being able to do so. The hiding of the evidence of abuse becomes infinitely more problematic if the child is expected to attend a school on a daily basis during term time, and an account must be given if it does not. For this reason alone the practice of home-schooling should be discouraged in the extreme if not (as I believe it should) be made altogether illegal.

Besides which, how can it be that these children (and this concern about the number of children that have simply not returned to school since the pandemic has been in the news recently) are just 'missing'? Do schools not keep a list of children that should be daily in attendance? Did they not do so before the pandemic? Surely it would be a matter of simplicity to compare these lists and to make a note of the absentees? The parents could be contacted by phone or letter and told that their children were expected to be recorded at roll call within a week of receiving the letter or the local authority and social services would be instructed to make a house visit without delay. In the event of persistent and ongoing absenteeism by their child or children, the failure to meet the legal requirements in terms of meeting their child's educational needs would be of necessity addressed in the courts. Further it should be legislated that in the rare and unusual circumstance that a child is approved for home schooling (and the bar for this should be set high), the child must by law be presented to a general practitioner once a month to undergo a short physical examination. Failure to do so should immediately be flagged as cause for concern and instigate a visit from the social services in short order.

These may sound like draconian and authoritarian rulings, but given the vital importance of education in a child's development, in preparation of its ability to meet the needs and demands of living and participating, not to mention thriving and succeeding, in the world they will be cast into post schooling, such an approach is justified. The tendency to take the easy course and not insist your children attend school (because few children actually ever want to) will be tempting to even the best of parents, let alone those who by ignorance and personal indolence simply have no interest in their children's education (and there are millions out there like this) and it must be worked against, by increased surveillance and monitoring as necessary, and backed up by legislation. That there is a problem can be seen by the doubling of figures of children not in regular attendance in school since the pandemic, and this situation should be addressed by our government without delay. It is one area where the problem is defined and circumscribed, the solution easy and to hand, and every consideration bending towards it being done. Thus it is a given that our government will do nothing to address it.
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There is no point in sugar coating it. The announcement of the 'Atlantic declaration' by Biden and Sunak as they sat on their chairs yesterday (Biden looking detatched and uncomfortable, and Sunak like an enthusiastic schoolboy who couldn't quite believe where he found himself) effectively put the kibosh on there being any trade agreement (ala Brexit promises) for the foreseeable future.

What we got instead was a tightening of the grip of the USA on our economic freedom to trade anywhere we choose, in return for a thin promise of some cooperation in area like AI and tech development more generally.

Dressed up however the media will spin it, this was an attempt by the US to restrict the tendency toward increasing globalisation, and to increase protectionism as a means of securing its own supremacy as the economic powerhouse of the world in the face of the rising competition from China, India and the rest of the Bric nations. And unable to come clean about its true intentions, Biden had to dress up his comments in rhetoric about protecting our nations from the threats of Russia and China who would steal our technology and turn it against us in both economic and more sinister ways, just as it would use it to advance its own authoritarian interests while doing so.

"The Special Relationship lives!", hailed both men in so many words, but only as long as it suits the US interests to pretend it does, a fact that Biden could barely be bothered to hide as he gave a half hearted thumbs up to a question to that effect by a journalist present at the event.

The American hegemony is failing, Biden knows it, and the US response is the predictable one of becoming defensive and protectionist, as opposed to either accepting the new reality and working with it toward a more productive future for all, or alternatively girding up and getting out there and competing - actually proving your system is superior by winning the fight with the numbers.

And all this, for all Sunak's saucer eyed enthusiasm (like Tony Blair's when he walked us into the illegal Gulf War just as he walked, shirt sleeved and grinning, alongside George Bush on the Whitehouse lawn) is none of it in our interest as a nation.

Because if Brexit was about anything, it was about our having the freedom to trade when and with whom we choose. And if our interests are served better by trading with the emerging Bric nations, if this is where the dynamism and innovation of world trade is growing, then we should be able if we choose, to take part in it. But Biden and Sunak yesterday effectively put paid to this. Biden, in his glamour and minimal promises, effectively bound our nation into lockstep with the USA, hobbling our freedom of choice and ensuring that rise or fall, we are joined at the hip with the US, this tired and failing old leader, iIn which in this sense, Biden is the perfect metaphor for the nation he leads.

Why have you done this Sunak? At what point will our political leaders get that outside of war - and within it as well pretty much - the US acts only in its own interest. It is desperately attempting to revert to a divided world in which it led the pack, instead of continuing to compete on a globalised playing field in which it is palpably failing to keep out in front. And it is tethering us at its side, not because it gives a flying frick about our best interest, but simply because it needs to know that we are not going to start looking at the other team, wondering if the cleverly money might not be to put a little distance between our transatlantic neighbour, edge a little closer to those in the east and south where signs show some of the significant action seems to be stirring.

But as usual, we remain the US poodle, and the picture of the enthusiastic Sunak next to the bored looking Biden in the Whitehouse yesterday summed it up better than any words of mine can. Watch my lips Sunak - the Americans are not our friends! They are economic competitors in a system that they live by and the refusal to do a trade deal with us should tell you everything you need to know about how they view us. We are nothing to them; insignificant beyond the point where we can be a useful tool in showing international support for whatever - and I mean whatever - they choose to do. All they need from us is to set an example to the rest of the world that we are sticking with them rather than keeping our options open. We are of no more economic interest in terms of deals, than a piece of half eaten gum: they might use the rest of it or they might toss it, but for the moment they'll keep it in their pocket.

---------0---------
Your politicians screwed you over and you are suprised by this?

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
'Have we not served you well'
'Of course - you know you have.'
'Then let it end.'

We are the Bloodguard
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peter
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What Do You Think Today?

Post by peter »

So Boris Johnson steps down as MP triggering a by-election (the second of the day) in his narrowly held seat of Uxbridge and South Ryslip.

His quitting was accompanied by a blistering attack on - well, just about everybody. The privileges committee had been a kangaroo court whose intention was to drive him from Parliament from the very start. Factions within the Tory Party parliamentary party had contrived to bring him down as a starting prelude to the reversal of Brexit. The government was a pathetic directionless shambles that had abandoned both Brexit and its core Conservative principles of low tax and small state. And as for Rishi Sunak......well, he wouldn't even deign to mention him.......but it was clear as to where his anger was focused.

The resignation follows hard on the heels of Johnson receiving the final report of the privileges committee into 'partygate' - a report whose contents we are not as yet privy to, but Johnson (who receives an early copy to give him time to prepare his reply) has let it be known that he was to be given a greater than ten day suspension from the House, the threshold for triggering a recall by his constituency for a reselection as MP. So in effect, Johnson jumped before he was pushed.

And it isn't as if it wasn't expected. Johnson had been embroiled in a row with Sunak about his (Johnson's) proposed honours list, which contained lots of Johnson cronies as well as the camp figure of Nadine Dorries going up to the House of Lords alongside his own father Stanley Johnson. The list makes an absolute mockery of the term 'honours' and will taint it and anyone who receives one for years to come, but hey - this is Johnson and the choice was his. We elected him, it was up to us to accept the consequences.

But in a suspiciously timed coincidence, said Nadine Dorries had herself resigned as MP earlier in the day. Sunak had apparently drawn the line at this clown like figure going up to the Lords (though he strenuously denies it) and Dorries name had been pulled from the list. She duly threw her toys out of the pram, but not without having conspired with her former boss first to time their actions. So Johnson's resignation and attack came shortly afterwards and signalled, well, war within the Tory Party really.

Because Johnson is not without support. He it was who after all brought the Tories their eighty seat majority. He did get Brexit done, just as he said he would (well - he didn't really, but technically he did....). There are those with whom his words rang absolutely true. The Tories do not like high taxes, and Sunak and Hunt seem determined to stick with them. The promised land of Brexit seems further and further away every day and Sunak is doing nothing to steer the ship back on course.

And there are those who absolutely support Johnson in his claim that he has been driven out by a witch hunt (which I agree he has......just a justified one). Former Home Secretary Priti Patel has threatened to resign over his treatment (she won't, but she does support him) and the ERG led by Jacob Rees-Mogg will be onside as well. So Sunak is facing his nemesis head on with knives drawn for the first time since becoming PM. The party is splitting into the two factions, for Johnson and against, and there will be blood before its all over.

Johnson has hinted that he may well be back as an MP before long (his resignation was of immediate effect) and there's a pretty good clue as to how he will do it. He has recently bought a house in Henly, the constituency where he first stood as an MP, and it just so happens that the incumbent MP has signalled his intention not to stand in the next election. Johnson would be a shoo in for selection should he desire to stand, and the seat is a much safer one than the Uxbridge one he has vacated. He has also in his broadside about the loss of direction of the government, outlined what he sees as the important footing to get onto if a win at the polls is to be achieved at the next election - stuff about reconnecting with business and getting out and doing Brexit stuff and whatnot - an aim that seems to have been all but given up by the Sunak supporting elements of the party.

So it's exiting times in the political arena again. One wonders how long this Conservative psychodrama can go on without there being a split, but somehow it seems to hang together. I suppose it's because at bottom the ideology is a selfish one and at the end of the day, to split would mean oblivion. Selfish ends are a powerful driving force when the chips are down and can make for strange bedfellows at times of necessity. From the looks that Nadine Dorries keeps throwing in Johnson's direction I've got a pretty good idea of a fellow she'd like to hop into bed with......politically of course!

;)
Your politicians screwed you over and you are suprised by this?

....and the glory of the world becomes less than it was....
'Have we not served you well'
'Of course - you know you have.'
'Then let it end.'

We are the Bloodguard
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