Tag Archives: UK

The wrong experts

What is it with believing in mathematical models? Modelling is great for certain purposes like fluid dynamics and airflows where most of the variables are known and can sometimes help find out where the modelling is lacking. I’m not saying mathematical models are useless, but if they are incomplete or worse still, written in spaghetti code, they’re probably worse decision making guides than playing pin the tail on the donkey.

Let’s take for example the mathematical models for Covid-19 mortality from Imperial College. They have been way off by orders of magnitude. And when I say way off, the models predicted tens of millions of deaths. We were all going to be dropping like flies and have our worthless cadavers thrown into ditches. The reality is, at the time of writing, well under three hundred thousand deaths globally. Current public data here. Add to that little snippet that we are past the yearly peak for respiratory illness in the Northern Hemisphere.

The Imperial college models have failed time and time again. Their stochastic methodology is deeply flawed and has led to several public policy disasters, the current protracted UK lockdown being but one. Another was the foot and mouth epidemic that decimated UK agriculture in the 2000’s leading to kilometre long pyres of dead cattle burning in British fields. The one before that, Creutzfeldt Jacobs disease variant (Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy) that was going to see millions of gibbering and senile zombies lurching around Britain if anyone so much as looked at a British sourced beefburger. Total deaths over the last three decades? Under three hundred and fifty. A number of those being vegetarians who had never so much as sniffed animal protein. The vast majority of cases from sources like contaminated human growth hormone and badly sterilised implants, but none via blood transfusions, as the mathematical models from Imperial predicted.

They call the UK Governments advisory body SAGE. What form this sagacity is supposed to take makes you wonder. Perhaps SAGE could do with some better experts.

Welcome to my nightmare

Well bless my raddled soul. Elder sibling has started his own blog, a chronicle, a mash up of personal experiences and events in the UK. In it he tells of the gripes and tribulations of living in his part of the UK, from supermarket beefs to the media stoked paranoia of certain people he encounters.

Here’s the type of thing he writes;

“I had to attend an outpatient clinic at our local hospital today. To my surprise, it was functioning as normal. No-one was wearing a mask and there were no signs of panic or hysteria.”

This seems to be a common thread. NHS Healthcare staff do not appear to be overstretched and can indulge in behaviours like doing dance routines on Tik tok, or conga lines to ‘celebrate’ an extubation. Look, if it were an all-hands-to-the-pumps situation, would primary healthcare staff have time to indulge themselves thus? Damn straight they wouldn’t.

Then he reports on the fake news items such as;

“Sarah Montague said that all pubs and leisure facilities in cities were closed “for good”.”

No doubt with a good deal of malicious relish on her part.

I have been requested to act as a consultant in this matter to let another frustrated voice into the wild and will be acting as his right hand man on how to handle all the wonders and witlessness of online life. Which could get interesting. At least we have ensured he has a confidential email and a few layers between him and the worst of the Internet. We shall see what we shall see.

No, I’m not going to link to his output, as elder sibling has not asked me to do so. If he does I’ll think about it. Better that he develops his own community.

Yes, he too detests what the BBC has become as I too loathe the fawning arse-licking the Canadian bought and paid for mass media goes in for when it comes to Canada’s glorious leader, that neo fascist Trudeau. Yes Trudeau is a neo-fascist, his government ticks all the boxes but the military one. He cloaks his disdain for all working class northern European descended males in talk of racism and sexism, but those two sins are something Trudeau indulges in all the time. Not sure why. Perhaps he feels threatened and like so many of the middle class, suffers from a deep self-loathing and sense of inadequacy.

Good news from the UK comes via political vlogger Mahyar Tousi. With added steak. Although I think Flat-Iron steaks are much nicer than Rib-Eye. Lovely buttery texture and more flavour.

So, all the accusations leveled against the Brexiteers have come to naught. For now.

Anyway. I’ve done the shopping, fed the hummingbirds and now it’s time to get back to the day job. Sometimes the fun never starts.

Monday is coming…

Mrs S and I were discussing this on the journey out to the accountants today. For the UK I think that the lockdown will shortly be coming to an end. Our reasons for thinking this? Bojo, the UK’s suspiciously unclownish PM is back in the saddle on Monday morning. He has to make a show that he is back in control and what better way than to take advantage of the shrinking death rate by beginning to lift the ‘stay at home’ restrictions and let certain businesses open, declaring that “Britain is back in business.”

He’s had time away from the political firing line to gather his thoughts. He’s had time to risk assess, to consider. Now he has a very small window in which to react. Seven days, tops.

If the NHS is anything like over here it’s understressed. Which is quite likely given the reports of primary health workers, including Doctors and Nurses, having time to rehearse dance routines for Tik Tok.

According to this web site, we on Vancouver Island (at the time of writing) only have one person in ICU and five hospitalised with the dreaded lurgi. Seventy one cases (81%)have registered as recovered. For the more densely populated Metro Vancouver, they have fifty in hospital and eighteen in ICU. Out of a population of two and a half million. The worst is past. See screen shot below.

He should also really let Ms Patel off the leash to discipline those Police Commissioners forcing the UK Police to do all the cringeworthy stuff they’ve been observed doing during the lockdown. Not to mention direct the courts to strike down all those quarantine tickets that were, in my view, highly counter intuitive.

We could do with something similar on this side of the pond. Break time is over. Time to get back to work. Oh, and to stop buying cheap stuff from China.

Update: Watch the video below. Yes it’s long, and Ferguson was wrong about BREXIT, something he later conceded he was wrong about. But, on this occasion I think they’re right, the sluggish big state got us into this mess, but it’s individuals and smaller, private groups that can get us out.

I disagree on how to handle ‘climate change’, but that’s another discussion.

Never mind the NHS

Looking across the pond, I’m disturbed to see a media and government driven fetishisation of our respective health services. By that I mean;

fetishise (UK)

or American fetishize (ˈfɛtɪʃˌaɪz )
VERB
(transitive)
to be excessively or irrationally devoted to (an object, activity, etc)

Derived forms;
fetishization (ˌfetishiˈzation) or fetishisation (ˌfetishiˈsation) NOUN

Is it me or are the UK NHS, and the One size fits all Canadian Healthcare systems being subjected to an unhealthy (Anyone else get the irony?) and obsessive Greek chorus when there are other, far superior healthcare systems in the world? Frankly the whole business makes me worried. It’s obsessive and completely over the top.

The last time I felt this way about what should be quite a mundane support system, like getting your drains cleared or other bits fixed, was that frankly weird squirm-inducing dance routine dreamed up by Danny Boyle for the last UK Olympics. See video below.

Now I’ve worked for the UK NHS, and also over here as a volunteer and part time employee of the Vancouver Island Health Authority. Hospitals and health clinics to me are necessary places, but no more worthy of the hysteria currently being demonstrated than say, calling out an emergency plumber. My taxes pay for the service they provide and the best they are going to get out of me is a sincere thank you when a job is well done. Anything more strikes me as cringe-inducing and more than slightly creepy.

My approval of what medical staff do on a day to day service is no more than what is due to any other type of service provider. Their competence will engender my respect because that is earned. Respect is due for the years of training it takes to get qualified, but this placing an institution on a national pedestal is somewhat disturbing. Yes the front line individuals are doing a tough job, but it’s what they signed up for as medical professionals on their very first day of training.

There’s something strange going on. We’re being subjected to what feels like a massive snow job. I for one am very unhappy with this state of affairs. Never mind our health services, there’s something unpleasant under the surface and I’m not sure what it is, but I sure as hell don’t like it.

I can’t win

It must be cabin fever. Mrs S has received one of those Amazon widgets that does sound and voice control. The kids bought it for her for her birthday. Personally I don’t like them. Won’t have them anywhere near me due to the well documented privacy issues. To me, they are junk that has no real facility. I call them junk because they report to outside entities, rather like Windows 10, which is a shit operating service Microsoft won’t let you control and is full of bloatware. Besides, voice control and recognition has many drawbacks. Did play around with a few voice activation programs a few years ago, but when those report outside of my control, well… ’nuff said.

Today Mrs S waved the uninstalled item at me and said that I “Won’t let her use it.”
To which I had to respond; “Use it if you like, but I want nothing to do with it.” Now guess where I ended up. Go on. Guess. All because I like to keep my personal affairs private.

So the sound on her PC is now ‘inadequate’, because she wants to fill the house with Andre Boccelli singing the Easter Mass, which is my fault apparently. Not Boccelli, but the inadequate sound. If Mrs S wants to install the wretched gadget herself, she can do it.

Not that I care much for opera. The only Opera I’ve got any time for is using it as one of the five web browsers I use on a daily basis. When it comes to some opera I’d rather saw my own head off than be exposed to it any longer than necessary. Opera as an art form is an acquired taste I have chosen not to acquire. Not surprisingly there is no opera in my music collection. There’s classical music, a lot of Prog rock and electric folk, but no opera. Okay, I’d go to a performance if the tickets were free, but only if you didn’t mind tracking where I was in the audience by my snoring.

Add to that I’ve got a minor headache and a seasonal sniffle. A sort of light echo of what Mrs S suffered the day before yesterday and shrugged off in forty eight hours. So today we took a drive out. Unlike in Ontario and New Brunswick, the RCMP here in BC have better things to do with their time than randomly stopping people and demanding to know where they’re going, or if they’ve been buying stuff the prodnoses disapprove of. It was just a nice day for a drive, even if there was nowhere to go.

We have officially been in self imposed lockdown since 10th March. When the panicking is all over I am going to have the mother and father of all timeouts.

Deeply sorry to hear about Tim Brooke Taylor, comic actor who made the nation laugh in shows like I’m sorry I’ll read that again, At last the 1948 show, The Goodies and many more. The man was a national treasure, but now we have to bury him. He’d probably have enjoyed that gag.

Bugger.

Good news

Mrs S was a little unwell yesterday, which gave me cause for concern. A little photophobia, headache and elevated temperature, which has now passed. Being the worry-guts that I am I sat up for quite a while last night before taking to my bed in the spare room. She’s a little tired this morning, so I shall, like the good family guard dog that I am, remain on alert. However, her symptoms have eased. She is feeling much better and currently on a conference call to her sisters and our girls, which is good news.

I hear Bojo, the UK’s suspiciously unclownish Prime Minister is on the mend. Which is also good news. The Pound is up a couple of points on the news and will grow stronger with him. Not sure whether he’s out of hospital to recuperate at Chequers or not. I think as a whole there will be a large but unheard sigh of relief when he’s well enough to be back at the helm. Bojo is in some ways, whether he likes it or not, a symbol, a symptom even of the UK’s post-Brexit health. He’s pulling through and as he does, so will the UK. This is an unusual phenomenon, but nonetheless a welcome one.

What I find a little hard to fathom is the spite and bile for Bojo’s recovery in the FT’s comments section and elsewhere. People wishing him dead or worse. Banging on about his ‘privilege’ and that he’s been taking up a ventilator that should have been reserved for someone else. Who ‘someone else’ should be these people never specify. But heavens to Murgatroyd me ol’ beauties, he’s the UK’s Prime Minister, with one of the largest parliamentary majorities in living memory. Of course he’s in a ‘privileged position’. Would these people expect their favourite politician to sit in a queue with the rest of us plebs, coughing and choking our way to eternity? Don’t be ridiculous.

If Keir Starmer, Nicola Sturgeon and Sadiq Khan et al (All people who in my view need a personality transplant – only the personality might reject them) were to be so afflicted would I wish them dead or at the back of the queue? No. We should be better than that. Obviously there are those who aren’t. Probably rump remoaners still in denial over Brexit and the inevitable slow motion implosion of the EU.

Like it or not, MP’s have their privileges because they are in a position of responsibility. Their job is to debate and discuss the law under which people live, unless of course local PCC commissioners are making law up on the fly, telling their officers to order people in their own gardens indoors and harassing people who are observing social distancing rules while walking the dog or searching their shopping for ‘non-essentials’.

With the responsibility for the nation as a whole, the job of Prime or government minister comes with a few perks, like getting immediate medical treatment when they need it. So Bojo got rushed into hospital after trying to tough it out. He got oxygen therapy when he needed it. He probably got a secure private room and ICU unit to himself because of all these remoaners wishing him dead. Because it’s not unknown for some crazy to take a dislike to someone over their politics and interfere with their treatment. Why isn’t he in with the general run of patients? Because of the remoaners who are so pissed that they’ve lost the Brexit debate (and their reason) so hard that they would lower themselves to cold blooded murder. As if that would fix anything. Which it wouldn’t.

There are far too many small minds. No wonder most of our little clan left the UK. Personally if I saw someone breaking restrictions, would I rat them out to the cops? Probably not unless they posed a real (Not an imagined or existential) danger to me and mine. If they were having a party I wouldn’t say a dickie bird so long as it shut down by 11pm and allowed everyone else to get some shut eye. If their guests caught the lurgi, that would be a consequence of their actions and nothing to do with me. If they end up on a ventilator, again, not my problem.

The curve of Covid-19 infections is beginning to flatten. Although the grim reapers scythe is swinging with a terrible rhythm of its own and there often seems no rhyme or reason to it. Two more weeks of high death rates are likely. However, I think for the UK the worst has passed. Here in Canada, because of the dithering from Ottawa, our worst is yet to come.

Anyway, the US markets are picking up and I will be checking my financial reports with a less heavy heart than last month. The shares I bought at bargain basement prices have already netted a 25% gain with another 220% to go before they reach their previous median price. So after a few fretful nights I’m feeling a little easier in my mind. We’re not out of the woods yet, but the worst I feel is over.

Hopefully this temporary downturn should begin to resolve shortly, then heads begin to poke out of foxholes and look around at this new world. One less reliant upon the totalitarianism of China. Maybe wondering loudly how necessary the worst aspects of this lockdown are. Like our four legged friend below.

Another day

Elderly friend is phoning us at least six times a day from her care home bed, she’s fretting over trivialities because she’s got nothing better to do. Contrariwise I hear Bojo, the UK’s suspiciously unclownish PM has been admitted to hospital and thence ICU. Hope it’s for a treatment that works. I may not like absolutely everything he’s done, but he’s a lot better than many alternatives. That said, he’s in for a rough ride. Good luck to him. Looks like he’ll be hors de combat for the next week or two.

We’re okay. Just hunkering down and weathering the storm like any sensible people. We get out on the deck whenever the sun shines and work allows. I’ve had a minor morning cough, but nothing much. Just a seasonal snotty nose. No other symptoms. Mrs S says I need a haircut because I’m looking a bit shaggy around the edges and has threatened to stake me out on the lawn while she gives me a quick run over with the lawnmower. Unfortunately all the local barbers are shut, so it may well come to that. Am I afraid? Good God yes.

Out in the neighbourhood, every day looks like Sunday. It all looks so peaceful. Neighbours doing chores, mowing lawns, fixing odd bits and pieces, cutting wood. We’ve even sighted a couple of the older deer looking a bit unkempt, but the usual bucks, fawns and yearlings are conspicuous by their absence.

Oh well, another day, another crisis, another fix. This afternoon I was playing around with four man sized Kleenex, a bit of plastic packaging wire, some sellotape and a little twine. Result; twenty minutes later one perfectly adequate limited-use four layer pleated face mask. Not up to Operating Theatre or Intensive Care Unit standard, but good enough to keep the worst of the dreaded lurgi contained or at bay when out and about or in a shop. And comfortable enough to wear for a couple of hours.

Talking of the dreaded lurgi, a clue has surfaced regarding misleading Covid-19 figures from China. Now cell phones are used for everything over there. Even small transactions. Apparently even the smallest street vendor uses them. This being the case, a stat poked it’s head above the parapet recently saying that twenty one million cell phones have gone inactive in mainland China over the last three months.

Now AP says that this is a bit of fake news as it’s all about cell phone users with multiple accounts cancelling unwanted phone plans. Which on the surface makes perfect sense. Okay, it’s rather a lot to happen all in a relatively short time frame, but it’s probably mostly down to their travel ban. People are obviously rationalising multiple SIMs and cell phone accounts, but still, that’s a very high figure. We don’t cancel our phone SIMs just because we’ve had to miss a trip. What is actually interesting is that a total of 840,000 landlines went dead in the very same period. Which is also, upon first examination, a high figure. I have no idea what the usual phone line turnover is, so cannot draw any solid conclusions.

However, other news keeps popping up about mass deliveries of cremation urns being delivered within China, which look, and I’m choosing my words with caution here, look like there are a lot more deaths than official figures would indicate. Then there are the people who are just dropping off the grid in mainland China. The usual crop of dissidents, but still, it’s a lot more than would be expected, so maybe a fraction of those dead cell phone and landline accounts reflect a higher death count than we’re being told. It’s hard to make an assessment with such limited information but enough to flag up on the old bullshit detectors.

What might be useful, as a way of compiling a predictive model, is to reverse engineer the Covid-19 stats from Northern Italy which would give a better idea of what is happening behind the bamboo curtain and great firewall of China. Not that it matters. No doubt the Chinese Communist leadership will be reaping the gales of wrath behind their polite smiles in the very near future, as voices are already calling for a boycott on anything made in the PRC.

For my own part I’m watching the disease stats closely, as they may well impact the travel plans we have for September. We may even need some kind of permit to travel involving getting some sort of ‘we’re immune’ documentation that is recognised on both sides of the pond. That will be when the restrictions are lifted and a decent antigen test becomes available, not those shoddy ones currently emanating from mainland China.

New neighbours

Mrs S and I were having a chat about the news that Harry and Meghan Windsor, possibly the soon to be ex-Duke and Duchess of Sussex, have set up shop on the other side of the Island highway in Saanichton.

Saanichton isn’t that bad an address. At least the rural part of it. a little dull perhaps. But there’s reasonable transport links, the Brentwood to Mill Bay ferry. A decent marina for a hundred foot plus boat. I know it well. Then Victoria (cough) International airport (Only if you’re travelling to the States) isn’t far away. There’s also a cute little seaplane place not far from the Spitfire Grill around the back of the airport. It’s pleasant enough in the Summer months. The traffic on the Patricia Bay Highway can get quite congested when the ferries from Vancouver are unloading, but there are ways around. A couple of winding back roads from the airport through Brentwood and into Saanichton. West Saanich road can also get you off the beaten track and down onto Highway One if you know which turns to take. There are wineries producing rather average Canadian wine, hiking trails, a couple of parks, sea fishing, Kayaking and suchlike. A lot of Deer, and the occasional Bear and Cougar.

Regarding the possible loss of titles, from what I hear Meghan is the major fly in the ointment. She’s been backchatting the Queen and behaving in a most unregal way in public. Which may be one reason why she and Harry are over here on Vancouver Island. If they do lose the Duke and Duchess titles over their lèse majesté, they’ll have to go through the whole immigration process to stay in Canada like the rest of us plebs, or at least their lawyers will.

Now I can’t speak for Meghan, but I’m told Harry is a decent enough sort who is allowing his affection for his wife and newborn to cloud his judgement. If I were him I’d quietly upgrade my military training on helicopters and parlay it into a professional civilian rating. Which wouldn’t do any putative immigration application any harm. At least if he and his wife intend to stay. Canadian immigration rules, okay? Do either of them speak passable French? Mais non? Desolee messieurs dames.

Fortunately they’re both set for life as far as money is concerned, although their security bills will eat through their respective fortunes fast enough without the protections afforded to those on the Civil list.

In addition; for the benefit of those who don’t understand the UK’s Royal Family, may I offer a little insight. An insight which Diana, late Princess of Wales and latterly the ex-Duchess of York, Sarah Ferguson, forgot. They too thought they could do what they wanted, and look what happened there. HM Queen rules, UK? She said frog, they had to jump. Which, after some wandering willies got in the way of their relationships, they declined to do.

The UK’s Royal Family is unique in that it is the last real sacerdotal monarchy left in the world. That means the hereditary head of state, currently Elizabeth II, is both the titular head of state and landlady to most of the UK, she is also the head of the Church of England. Well so what? You might say. Well actually not so much “so what” as what HM Queen does as her job.

From sparrow fart until bedtime Liz II has her whole life mapped out for her, from cradle to grave. She is the head of ‘The Firm’ as Prince Philip once perceptively referred to the Royal family as. Because as Royals their lives are a business, the business of the visible state. All the parades, protocols and flummery that help socially glue the UK together.

Not only that but as head of state Elizabeth II is also the head of the UK’s military. You know when someone makes the rhetorical challenge “You and whose army?” Ahem, well that’s hers, including the tanks. As well as the UK’s Navy and Air Force, which she lets politicians borrow from time to time. Their oath of loyalty is to the Crown (Apart from the Royal Marines, who swear fealty I believe, to the board of Admiralty), which Liz II is the public figurehead of. It’s a strange, symbiotic relationship between the person and her immediate family, and the entity that ensures the continuity of her rule, or rather not rule. The queen is notoriously apolitical. Sometimes, some would say, to her personal detriment.

However as monarch, the Queen’s whole life is bound up in narrow protocols. She has very little say over her daily activities because she is the visible component of the whole machine that is the Royal Family. She can’t publicly disrespect anyone. Not even the nastiest little third world dictator, so long as they’re on a state visit. She has to be on her very best behaviour at all times. No room for even the smallest public slip in decorum.

Unlike Meghan, who seems to think that simply because she married Harry, she can treat anyone any old how. Actually the opposite is true. If she wants to retain her title, she has to apologise to the Queen, promise to do better and then keep her word to the absolute letter. She must now set an example. Follow protocols and precedence. Do the duty of deputising for the sovereign when called upon to do so. Because by marrying into the UK’s Royal Family and taking on the title and privileges, that became her new day job. She is no longer a B-list celebrity actress but a Duchess, which probably requires far better acting ability. Indeed, it could be construed as the role of her lifetime. Unfortunately Meghan doesn’t seem to have the stomach for it and she’s dragging Harry down with her. Which is a shame.

Oh well, there goes the neighbourhood.

The fear factor

While crunching numbers, as I am wont to do because it’s what I earn a crust doing, I was listening to a Timeline documentary on YouTube, where the narrator was telling the tale of the Black Death and the social changes it helped bring about.

The thing that resonated with me was the various fanatic cults that arose during those times, even before the plague arrived in their locale. Convinced that the plague was the wrath of God (Although God has told me he did try to tell them about having a good wash now and then, but no-one was listening – as usual), certain groups of people turned to that good old standby of, instead of trying to deal with their personal hygiene issues and stop killing the cats that kept the rats down, chose self flagellation. That’s right, they went about the streets crying “Woe, woe, we’re all doomed” whilst lashing their own backs with a knout, a nasty sort of cat of nine tails with metal bits sewn into the whip ends. It is said these groups of ‘Flagellants’ as they were known, whipped themselves so hard that their blood would spatter street walls as they passed. It did not save them. In their self-weakened state, most perished.

So it is that I see the “Not my Prime Minister” and anti BREXIT campaigners, driven by their own fear, choose to roam the streets crying “We’re all doomed!” and getting under everyone else’s feet. Rather like the silly ‘Extinction rebellion’ protesters. They achieve nothing and are wasting their own and everyone else’s time. Rather like the flagellants of medieval times. They lack the reasoning ability to connect cause with effect themselves, so in ignorance devolve into a hideously primitive groupthink.

Unfortunately, Youngest is counted amongst their number. Which is a disappointment. I thought she’d learned about people who keep themselves down by being the authors of their own undoing, and that there are no saviours our there. According to her, they’re all apparently terrified that those nasty mustachio-twirling Tories are going to go around gloating over all the “Aha! Some poor people to torment, har-har me proud beauties!” You know, the working people who the Limp Dems and Islington Labour don’t really care about. Except when getting their vote in to support a bunch of unemployables like Corbyn.

What I saw during the campaign was Bojo, the UK’s very unclownish Prime Monster, going around, getting his hands dirty on the shop floor. Which is something I can respect rather than the opposition whose sole electioneering approach was gladhanding activists and loyalists while mostly ignoring the electorate or beating them over the head with scare stories, earnestly trying to re-educate any recalcitrant voter and crying “Vote for us, or the Tories will eat your babies.”. That and calling anyone who didn’t agree with them immediately unpleasant names. Well done chaps. Did it work? No prizes for giving the correct answer.

The thing is that neither BREXIT nor minor variations in the Earth’s climate are going to be harmful. Now they could be, but only if people refuse to rise to the challenge of a bit of extra sunshine rain or snow, or cling to the notion that a bunch of people who have never worked in the private sector over the channel know better than local people with their noses to the grindstone, fixing problems as they arise. Seriously, the immediate future contains more opportunity than threat. At least for the UK.

All the public moaning and groaning from the defeated are like a bunch of mardy teenagers who Mum and Dad have finally called ‘time’ on are achieving precisely nothing. All the Slebs whining like kicked bitches instead of claiming a little grown up dignity and facing their mistakes likewise. Although Lily Allen’s tactic of bursting into tears and sobbing ‘vote Labour’ has given a lot of people a bit of a giggle. It’s not that we’re unkind, it’s just that it’s funny to see all these people who think because they are good at entertaining have any idea about how the world really works.

So all these British slebs who didn’t get their way are going to leave the UK? Yeah, right. But where to? Surely not to that hell hole the Trump-infested US of A? No? Well the Yanks just dodged a bullet there. To the cultural backwater that is Canada? Mm, only if they’re happy to play to the odd bilingual Moose and a couple of puzzled bears. Australia? Watch out for the big hairy spiders and the Salties, not forgetting the deadly drop bears and one extremely unfriendly sheep near Brisbane. Heaven forfend that these ungracious slebs might have to learn another language. Even if they had the brains.

The truth is, as I pointed out to our young companions whilst we were visiting London, despite the odd knife attack, the western world is safer than it has been for quite some time, if ever. Fewer deaths from disease, wars, and even extreme weather events (Explanation here). Fewer road deaths. Indeed, fewer deaths from everything, apart from those claiming a Darwin Award, (Sightseeing on erupting volcanoes and suchlike).

Most of us are living longer and healthier lives to the point where getting a message from HM Queen to centenarians now has to be semi automated. That’s right, more people than ever before in the western world are making three digits, elderly friend included. Even if her wits are somewhere west of their preferred location.

Indeed. it’s getting to the point where pension payouts won’t begin until you’re eighty. Not that it’s a bad thing. One of my cousins just picked up his last P45 at age 79. Wound up his business and was last heard of travelling eastern Europe. Similarly I expect not to officially ‘retire’ until 70. Not that I really mind. Even then I’ll find something to make a few extra bucks on the side. Trusting for state pensions to be your sole source of income in your frail dotage is not a brilliant idea. Personally, I have two pensions in the offing, Mrs S has three and that’s without factoring in our investments. Having lost three pension funds over the years, (2 pots raided by New Labour, one when the company I worked for went belly up big time) I’ve become very cautious about those Ponzi schemes and nowadays employ a broker, an accountant and a lawyer to keep my investments secure. They earn their money.

Oh well, it might not be such a short life after all, and we will have to find our merriment where we may.

Now don’t cock it up….

Well done to the Tories. At the time of writing Boris and his boisterous blue crew have secured a solid majority in the UK Parliament. According to the FT’s tracker they hit the magic 322 seat marker around 5:10am UK time. I went to change into PJ’s and my new dressing gown before heading back for a large whiskey. One minute it was 320, then I blinked and 322 popped up on screen. Not sure what swung it for him but I’m quietly glad it has. I’m sitting here in my PJ’s drinking Black Grouse and nodding to myself in grim satisfaction,

Even if Big Nige and company didn’t get much of a look in, the Brexit party deserve an honourable mention in despatches for getting out there and fighting the good fight. A quiet Knighthood for Big Nige when all the fuss has died down wouldn’t come amiss. He deserves a pat on the back. As do all the Brexit MEP’s about to become redundant. Anne Widdecombe especially. Her speeches have been pure comedy gold. What a trooper.

Anyway…..

5:41am UK time. 352 seats to the Conservatives.

5:47am and all of a sudden it’s 355. Hot damn! I didn’t think they’d make more that 345. Glad to be wrong though.

5:58am and it’s 357 no, I blinked, it’s 358. This has the same feel watching Thatcher’s election victory after the Falklands war. Will it go over 360 seats, I ask myself, sitting in my office a third of the way across the world.


Man, I’m glad I held on to my sterling reserves, I’ve just looked at what the pound is trading at. And it’s due to go higher. An avaricious little smile is threatening to split my face in two, rather like my brokers did yesterday when we discussed our future financial plans.

So what does this considerable 35+ seat majority mean? Well the notorious Benn act can be booted to the kerb for a starter and it’s sponsor Oliver Letwin thrown in the Tower to rot. Britain can exit the EU in January and let the Eurocrats come scrambling after Britain’s crumbs. As I’ve previously mentioned in an earlier post the European Central Bank still thinks that Quantitative easing and putting the printing presses in high gear will solve their economic woes. The data does not support this conclusion. As I said to my broker, “People lie, numbers don’t.”

As for Britain leaving, well, that will not make the SNP happy, but so little does. The Scots will push for a new vote on Scottish independence and if Boris is wise he’ll let them have it. Right in the ballot box. Because as we’ve seen before, when push comes to Barnett Formula, the Scottish electorate will blink. They know why. Who pays for all their social benefits and services? England, that’s who. On it’s own the Scottish economy is like Rab C Nesbitt on a Saturday night. Tottering and barely coherent. The SNP might believe in socialist economics, but their economy doesn’t.

To their credit the SNP booted the Limp Dem leader out of her sinecure seat. Don’t know about who will replace Corbyn. If it’s McDowell, so much the better, he’s a raving Marxist of the worst sort which will turn people away from the ideological dead end that Labour has become. That said, I’m a Marxist too, but at least I’m a Groucho Marxist.

Pass the whiskey and cigars. I’m taking Friday off.

Jesus H Christ on a Bike! The Tory seat count just hit 361!……. I’m off to bed.

Update: Well, well.  Three hundred and sixty five.  That should do it, although I’d be happier if someone was in Parliament that we could be sure would hold the Tories feet to the fire.

Oh well, we’ll see what happens in January.

Recovery mode

Well here we are, back in our chosen BC domicile. Still feeling rather rough around the edges and mildly debilitated. Whatever we have has subsided a little but not gone. It’s just lurking around like a deranged stalker, choosing it’s moment to leap out shouting “AHA! Bet you thought I’d forgotten you, eh?” On the plus side it doesn’t look like either of us are about to die, although our mutual coughs have yet to disappear.

At present there’s a risk we might both get fired as the new accounting system head office set up is (We think) still not fit for purpose. Not that it’s our fault, but the idiot in charge is covering her back, doubling down and setting deadlines which another division have just refused to comply with. That’s right, they’re trying to force us to use a new accounting system which our much larger sister division has just binned. Thus I am working on a Sunday and the following Remembrance day holiday to see if I can iron the bugs out.

So, come Wednesday there was this big video conference where we thought we were going to be hauled over the coals for not being able to make their poorly documented package work. It’s on days like these one feels like Edmund Blackadder on the eve of his proposed epic voyage around the world. That scene where Lord Melchet hands him a blank sheet of paper as a map, asking him if he’d mind filling in the details as he went along. (In episode 3 ‘Potato’) I get annoyed when people do this to me because; firstly I don’t get paid enough and secondly it’s their package which they are paid to manage. Now they’re handing out deadlines and ultimatums? Eff off. I’m no slacker. If a job is at all possible it gets done. If it isn’t, well sorry peeps but you’re not exactly paying megabucks and I’m inclined to do tortoise impersonations to within the shell of my previous job spec. My immediate boss knows this and has written some very pointed emails to the jokers pushing this implementation. Besides, if I can’t do it, I can’t think of anyone else in the organisation who has made it work. Good luck with finding my replacement guys.

Mrs S has seen my reactive scowl and remarked that maybe it’s time we both handed in our papers on this particular company. My response is that maybe it’s time we both moved on.

Well the upshot is that despite feeling like I’ve just had a serious run in with a steamroller we’ve not only beaten their deadlines to a bloody pulp by sheer old fashioned slog, along with a little ingenuity where guidelines were lacking and emerged victorious once more. Having handed in a report on the weaknesses of their systems, as soon as we’ve caught up we’ll be allowing ourselves a bit of a time out.

Despite being disappointed that we weren’t in the UK for BREXIT I see Bojo, the UK’s deceptively jovial Prime Monster has refused to play nice with Big Nige and the BREXIT gang. He may be refusing to be seen to be playing ball with a free trade, free speech faction just in case certain high-rolling donors pull their much-needed shekels from the Tories coffers. Maybe he thinks the election is in the bag. He may be wrong like Treason May was. The remoaners may yet have a sting in their treacherous little tails. The Tories I think, will need any support the light blue faction can offer. Same as they currently need the DUP. Cave, cave Mister Johnson.

However, my judgment is currently very cloudy and I feel like I need a weeks rest to recover fully. As far as any election goes December 12th will be the acid test.

The London Cough

Excuse me, I will be brief. Am currently suffering from what I am calling ‘The London Cough’, an unspecified ailment caused by excessive catarrh build up at the back of the throat. It begins with a rather unpleasant hacking cough, accompanied by repeated feverish episodes that doesn’t follow the normal pattern of a seasonal cold. Usual cold and cough medication barely touches it. Just when You’ve got to feeling somewhere near normal and you’re no longer coughing up dark green chunks, along comes another bout. Not to mention the disruption of sleep which is further debilitating to the point where only repeated naps of up to two hours each are possible. Five days of this so far (Add on top of normal sleep deprivation from jet lag as we’re back in BC now) leading to an overall malaise that makes you feel like you’ve been run over by a truck.

This malady is not quite Flu, as there are no real aches, and the fever comes in short bouts, just like having one cold after another. Very curious, but also debilitating. Mrs S was first to catch it, four days before we were due to fly out and I two days after. Thus our flight back to BC was punctuated by hacking from others so afflicted. Wonderful in flight entertainment, not. Or should that be snot?

See you when I’m feeling human once more.

You don’t hear this every day

A head of state as a caller to a radio talk show? Now that is truly awesome. What a coup.

Let’s face it, Trump lacks subtlety. He’s not eloquent, he’s brash, forthright and occasionally a bullshitter. But not an outright liar as some claim. He exaggerates rather than tells total untruths. Unlike many of his predecessors and detractors who would not recognise truth if it was tugging at their sleeves.

Don’t care much for the man himself, but I do like what he’s doing for the USA economically. The UK could have a piece of that action instead of hiding in a hole and whining incessantly about how bad Trump is.

On that topic, I never understood this reflexive anti-Americanism some people have. Maybe it’s because the yanks are brash, successful and outward looking. Unlike their most vocal critics, who come across as a bunch of petty, jealous, xenophobic losers.

Today on the home front, I’m off to lay a few evil spirits with elder sibling. Following Ma Sticker’s demise in 2014 we had serious disagreements over the estate which almost went to court. Now matters are more settled, I’ll be rubbing his nose in it in a gentle sort of way. Even if I’m not really looking forward to our meeting. I’ll just have to put my game face on, wear my best coat, a dangerous smile and accentuate the positive.

Eldest is currently in recovery mode after long term boyfriend gave her the elbow, the fool. Personally I think they were right on the point of making their relationship permanent, he panicked and ran. Not an attractive quality in a spouse to be. Getting married to raise a family is a big step and requires courage which we now see he hasn’t got. If he ever comes crawling back, I think she should first kick him in the nuts for being such an idiot then buy him a kitten to keep him company in his lonely old age. Tonight, (Australian time) she’s out on the town with her friends in Sydney to have a little personal time and think about getting a better place to live. Whilst we’re able we’ll wire her some pennies to help her keep head above water post breakup. It’s what family is for.

Steak!

I love a good steak. Which is great because steak restaurants are big in London right now. All sorts of ‘Gaucho’ type restaurants are in vogue, some where they give you a large chunk of hot stone upon which you can literally cook your own piece of beef to your idea of perfection and others where they serve a particular cut, medium rare, or should that be medium raw.

Notwithstanding, the customer service I have experienced in all of these has been little short of excellent. The quality of beef though, perhaps not as great as I’d hoped. Living in Canada as I do, the quality of steak cuisine is very good, from the on-a-budget version at a Denny’s roadside eatery to more upmarket fare, I have rarely been disappointed but for one thing, there is a cut of beef that knocks every other for six no matter how barely it is cooked. It is not often served on our side of the pond and unlike cuts I have now come to regard as inferior, can be had at a lower price. Possibly because your average Canadian consumer has yet to recognise true quality of this ‘butchers cut’. They’ll happily sink their teeth into the much chewier Rib-eye, but offer them the piece of flesh I refer to and like as not they’ll turn their noses up at it.

The piece of meat I refer to is called a ‘Flat iron’ steak and I have yet to eat its peer from any breed of cattle. Cut from the inside of the shoulder blade on a forequarter, this particular bit of muscle has an entirely different texture and flavour to any other. Firstly, texture. A flat iron steak has an almost buttery feel in the mouth, it almost melts, even when almost tartare. The grain of the meat runs longditudinally from end to end, not cross grained as with most other cuts. Properly butchered there will be no tough membranous tissue which sometimes mars the wonderful saliva inducing mellowness of this cut. Next, flavour. Mass market beef can be a bit of a flavour desert, not so the flat iron. It has a more pronounced beefiness combined with it’s splendid texture, a taste that might have you wondering why the hell you’d want to eat any other part of a steer.

The best news of all is that there is a chain of restaurants in London which specialise in this cut, serving it a little too rare for my liking, but the butchery was good and despite the redness of the meat, slipped down a treat. Did I also mention that they’re also not as expensive as most of the ‘Gaucho’ style steak houses? A full flat iron steak will feed two hungry meat lovers, even if I would have liked a little larger portion (and hotter) of their Horseradish sauce. Their creamed spinach too is enough to restore a badly Bluto battered Popeye and put a twinkle in his eye that his paramour, Olive Oyle, could not mistake.

Now I don’t do shout outs like this often, if at all, but if you want to get away from the fancy stuff masquerading as food whilst in the UK’s capital, you could do worse than visit one of the nine (At the time of writing) “Flat Iron” franchises dotted around town. First come first served. Expect to queue. Don’t forget your dessert. (Oh, the calories, the calories!)

Unless of course you have the misfortune to be a vegetarian, or worse still, vegan. Then I am afraid there is no hope for you. You poor thing.

BTW: No one really ‘hates’ vegans, vegetarians or other diet obsessives as claimed in the Grauniad.  The rest of us find the endless proselytising somewhat tiresome, even annoying, but no-one really hates them.  For example, one of my stepdaughters is a ‘fish vegetarian’ (Won’t eat meat but will eat eggs and fish).  Which I find curious but hardly a Casus belli.  To truly hate someone over their chosen diet would be to say that the matter was worth taking seriously.  Chacun a son gout.

Another day out

Good old rainy London. Gave my new raincoat a thorough testing today. Wandered around Covent Garden and environs sampling pleasures and tastes while dodging the drizzle tainted crowds. Mrs S directed our steps into a couple of expensive venues I would normally never go anywhere near. For example one of the top rated patisseries in London.

Well colour me impressed. The coffee was excellent. Heavy on the Italian influence rather than the bitter American. Quiche that was divine, and as for the Sachertorte, that was light and melted in the mouth rather than leave you feeling like you are chewing stodge, as happens with so many mass produced versions. Exquisite. I’d had an indifferent pint of IPA earlier, so perhaps I was ready for some quality.

We’ve had a deal of discussions with family and friends of late where the discussion has centred around quality stuff and why it’s worth the price. Reason one; longevity. A really good pair of boots will last ten times as long as a much cheaper pair. Why a good quality suit is a good investment (Buy two, with extras if you can – looking smart is never a bad idea) Nice cotton shirts feel better and last longer. M & S basics more comfortable than the cheap stuff from Primark. A little more spent on the basics means you can go cheap on the accessories.

Anyway, I’m standing outside one store on the Kings Road and an expensive car snorted past. Then another and another. People were walking past me in expensive clothes and a thought hit me. Rather a large thought about the economics of everyday life. It made perfect sense and for a few seconds all the dots lined up, I saw the entirety of human economic activity in action and why free markets really do work.

Every single one of us is connected by a massive web of transactions, be those social, emotional or financial. From the single jet of a fountain to the massive money machine that is the City of London, which in turn is connected to all the other major centres all over the world.

Let me enlarge. The single fountain jet provides social value because as humans we like to look at flowing water, it calms and stimulates us, therefore it has worth. However the fountain jet needs water and power to create that worth. These are not free, the power to drive the water has value, as has the water itself, it needs to be sourced, transported through a network of pipes with a lot of other water. The pipes through which the water flows need to be manufactured, channels dug through the ground for them, the complex net of pumps and storage to maintain an even pressure. All of these need human effort and intervention.

Then there’s the electricity that powers these networks created by investment in power plants made out of millions of complex components from heat exchangers and steam handling technology to the massive transformers and circuit breakers which manage the power output (For the sake of brevity I’m excluding ‘renewables’ here, just talking about base load generation). All of which has to be funded and made by finance. Money must be made, credit obtained to pay for the intricate web of costs that underlie even the simplest nut and bolt. Part of what I do as an investor is loan money to larger companies so that they may pay for new machinery to build and maintain those power plants and networks of water pipes. Which kind of brings me round in a circle to the pleasing spectacle of the fountain jet.

Therefore I posit that anything in motion consumes and creates energy and energy is a function of life. Likewise the market of life is in constant motion. Each of us, is whether we like it or not, is interconnected through diverse voluntary transactions to everything else in this world. Thousands of times a day. Every time we step out of the door. Every leaf swept, every drop of rain cleared, everything man made has multiple costs from the parts of a leaf blower and the parts needed to make the machines which make parts for leaf blowers. The credit and finance to pay that cost has to be raised by financial institutions which are the money machine we are all part of, from the beggar hunkered down outside the supermarket to the flash git in his Maserati posing down the street. Sometimes the chains are not obvious, but they are there nonetheless.

Isn’t this a fascinating world we live in?

Update: Tearful phone conversation with Eldest who dwells in the fabled land of Oz. Long term boyfriend just walked out on her, the idiot. That is all.