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Saturday, 4 June 2011

Polly still doesn't get it, and neither does Dave

1. The State is utterly useless at providing national-scale homogeneous institutional social care; either it's unacceptably substandard or so expensive as to be unaffordable. Neither the NHS nor Whitehall's 'local agents' the councils can do so economically or efficiently 

2. The State's pet private corporations - Crapita, G4S, Southern Cross and the rest - are utterly useless at providing national-scale homogeneous institutional social care; either it's unacceptably substandard or so expensive as to be unaffordable. None of the big national scale private corporations can do so economically or efficiently.

Polly buys into (2) above but denies (1). Cameron buys into (1) above but denies (2). Anyone else with any sense recognises the truth of both, perhaps with some isolated exceptions. 

Statists will now put their fingers in their ears, close their eyes and go 'nyah nyah nyah'. For there is a solution - and it's local. In fact it was working prior to the introduction of the National Insurance Act a century ago - a mixture of strong horizontal family and community ties, private insurance, friendly societies, mutuals and suchlike. How long do you think it will take for them to get it? 

Friday, 3 June 2011

Don't boil the lettuce, wear gloves

If this new strain of E Coli escapes into pandemic proportions then the users of London's buses and tubes will be amongst the first affected. E Coli is transmitted in exactly the same way as the Winter Vomiting Bug - in minute particles of human faeces left on poles, doors and grab-rails by people who don't wash their hands properly after using the lavatory. And London's full of 'em. Even if the source of the bug on salad crops is identified and contained, those already infected will be transmitters unless they too are isolated. 

And paradoxically, this is a good opportunity for British farmers and growers to sell to the public directly rather than through the big supermarkets - the Tesco salads counter will be shunned for the next week or so as fear of Mediterranean muck takes hold. Torrential downpours recently in Extremadura have no doubt contaminated stored water with human sewage and animal manure, which has then been carelessly used to wash or water the salad crops, whilst in the South of France a record drought  has seen draconian restrictions on water use. 

So the answer seems to be don't boil the lettuce as long as it's British, but do wear gloves on the bus. 

Thursday, 2 June 2011

Readers under 45 look away now

Many of you over about 45 years of age will recognise the object below as a British Thornton slide rule - the tool we used in school immediately prior to the introduction of the Casio electronic calculator to do advanced maths. Calculus, logs, cosines and the rest were figured by lining up points on the sliding centre bar and reading the answering figure from the cursor hairline. You can buy them on eBay for under a tenner. No batteries, no electronics and therefore immune from EM radiation, showerproof and therefore a useful aid in the boatyard, it earns its place alongside the kerosene pressure lanterns, the Cat 'C' first aid kit and the British Berkefeld water filter in the land grab-bag. 

Except you may also need your reading glasses or a small magnifier these days to see the tiny figures. Grrr. 

It's not 'Cider' It's 'Horsepiss'

As Dick Puddlecote warns, the days of the poster advertising alcohol are numbered, so if your telephone takes pictures you may wish to snap one of the current saturation-advertising posters from the makers of Wifebeater selling an apple-flavoured alcohol product. This may be the last time we see a public twenty-foot poster extolling the virtues of an alcoholic beverage (think of the children!) so it's a double shame that what's being advertised is, frankly, horsepiss.

It's not 'Cidre' in my book if it contains only 50% by volume of fermented apple juice at 3% ABV and 50% by volume of water, industrial ethanol and apple flavouring to bring the whole up to 4.5% ABV. And the fatuous claim by Wifebeater that it 'contains 70% hand picked apples' means only that 30% of the apples used in making the 50% of the drink that's cider were machine-picked. And given the surplus of East European apple-pickers not much of a claim, frankly. The product's main rival for the Summer, Magners, also 4.5%, is little better - 75% of each bottle is made from commercial apple juice concentrate, sugar and water.

The only real cider is one made wholly of crushed apples and nothing else, fermented with the natural fruit yeasts and matured for, ooh, at least a week in an oak barrel. At £2 a litre and sod the Revenue. And just as the miserablists' anti-tobacco campaign has seen a growing trend for people to grow their own (and yes I was ahead of my time here when I grew a full crop of Nicotiana Tabaccum from seed in the garden of my cottage in Needham Market in 1978, though my ignorance of the curing process left me with 4kg of snuff ) so I suspect will the advance of the joyless Drink Stasi on the alcohol industry see the rediscovery of small-scale neighbourhood production. 

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Is Blackpool the price of cheap gas?

I've no idea whether Dan Cruikshank is one of the dozens of the self-important with superinjunctions in place, but we have an acquaintance in common and as a result I rarely watch his programmes. I did catch briefly a few minutes of Cruikshank on Wentworth Woodhouse, though, best known to me not for its marble floors but as an example of the spite of Socialism. The Fitzwilliams of Wentworth Woodhouse were enlightened mine-owners, deeply concerned with the welfare of their employees and their families in an old-fashioned paternalistic manner, active investors in the community, local leaders, and rooted amongst the people of the area. In short, they were everything that Statist socialists loathed. Manny Shinwell, lauded as a saint by the left, was actually a bitter, bigoted and thoroughly nasty little shit shot-through with all the cruelties of communism. As coal minister in an act of class-war spite he ordered the opening of a new open-cast coal mine to destroy the Fitzwilliams' estate, to mine 'right up to their back door'. In vain did the local miners and the Yorkshire NUM protest to Clement Atlee that the Fitzwilliams were OK, and rather popular actually. In vain did the NCB tell Shinwell that the coal was of poor quality and not worth mining. The excavators and wagons moved in and destroyed the estate. If I ever come across Shinwell's grave I'll happily piss on his bones. 

And so to Blackpool. 'Fracking' for shale gas near Blackpool has been suspended as scientists suspect that the process has caused two minor earthquakes in the town. Shinwell of course would have shrugged and been happy to bury Blackpool and its residents under six feet of rubble in the cause of 'socialist progress' but he and his kind are no longer in power. Whatever your views of the value of Blackpool, this is good news for our respect for private property. It has rightly usually been a difficult, prolonged and expensive process in the UK to over-ride individual property rights to build a new rail line, motorway or airport, but to see the benefits of such obstacles you only have to look at North Korea, East Germany, Cuba or Russia to see how ephemeral and valueless are the results of the vindictive destruction of property for the sake of demonstrating the State's ownership of everything. 

Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Apols for the hiatus

Normal blogging will resume shortly; I'm deeply committed to boaty things at the moment, and the problem of a leaking keel bolt on the latest addition to the fleet.

Sad news on the swan front. Janis and Hendrix are down to a single cygnet, who rides protectively on mum's back these days with no little brothers and sisters to lark about with. A hungry feral cat is a more likely cause than global warming.