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Saturday 11 April 2020

Some things are not easy to say

I've always hated waste. Not just cost, or carelessness, but the idea of waste. I never accepted that 10% of bricks or roof tiles would be broken by handling, or 15% of plasterboard deliveries would be wasted. I always challenged such assumptions - and when I became a CEEQUAL assessor, would try to gently nudge jobs I was assessing not to drop points by careless waste. It didn't even have to be related to value; I once watched a worker assisting in the application of a skin-irritating substance needlessly change pair after pair of latex gloves. It was just deliberately throwing away someone else's money - out of irritation at being employed, being instructed, being constrained. Even an office worker who throws a new biro slow to start writing in the bin before giving it a chance is in part just kicking his boss, his firm and his office. If he was at home, if they were his own gloves or his own biros he wouldn't do it.

So I can understand Matt Hancock's difficulty yesterday in urging health and care workers not to cream through the nation's stocks of PPE quite so vigorously. It's OK to wear the same mask to see two patients in a row; you don't need to change plastic aprons every 15 minutes - well, I guess that's what he wanted to say but couldn't really say it. Can you imagine the press fury at asking NHS workers who are losing their lives to cut back on 10p latex gloves?

We need to remember that just as not all soldiers are gallant, not all health workers are selfless. Many will be feeling pissed off at their well-paid indoors job with no heavy lifting suddenly turning lethal, with no hiding place at home because the bloody neighbours are all standing in their drives clapping every morning at going-to-work time. What makes the workforce as a whole exceptional is that 85% do turn up each day, and care diligently and conscientiously for our sick and dying.

So some PPE will be wasted out of genuine fear and ignorance - this is a training matter. Some will be wasted (a very small proportion, I'd guess) by those wanting to run out of PPE to make a political point - this is a disciplinary matter. But some I'd think will be wasted because wasting a mask, gloves, gown or apron is about the only gesture open to workers working under the most stressful of conditions, with the nation's gaze upon them. I think we must just accept this as a small price to pay.

Friday 10 April 2020

The media have failed - and the public know it

There are three malign motives driving many of the mainstream media in the UK. First is Brexit - which many London journalists have great difficulty in understanding has happened. "Do you think this is a good time to be leaving the European Union?" asked one gigantic numpty of Rishi Sunak at the daily Number 10 press conference; "We have left" replied Mr Sunak. Bitterness over having failed to reverse democracy pervades the newsrooms of the BBC, Channel 4 and Sky and has coloured their coverage of the Wuhan virus.

Second is their left-wing bias. Hence the suggestion that no one has ever made outside the febrile minds of journalists that Mr Johnson should share power with assorted failures and has-beens, mostly of the left but including a Remainer or two to frustrate our EU trade negotiations. Yeah sure. We have a majority of 81. Good reason to let Tony Blair and John Major join the cabinet.

Thirdly is their hatred and envy of Boris himself. Emily Maitlis made her own dislike of the PM very clear in June of last year, when she chaired (appallingly) that ridiculous TV debate with Sajid Javid, Jeremy Hunt, Michael Gove and a jejune attention-seeking Rory Stewart, all perched on uncomfortable bar stools while Emily launched dig after dig at Boris.

Fortunately, they're stupid enough to imagine that using their privileged airtime to slag-off the PM, our government and the nation's response will rouse public anger against the government. Well, cretins, it's had exactly the opposite effect. Our little media heroes have been stunned at the ferocious reaction against them on social media. Peston, Kuenssberg, Maitlis, Boulton, Newman, Burley, Morgan and the Snows hardly dare venture onto Twitter these days - they're immediately destroyed by an enraged public. And this at a time when newspapers are facing severe challenges from loss of physical sales and online advertising, as is Channel 4, and the BBC is facing an imminent decriminalisation of the TV tax. Yep morons. You're facing nemesis.

The final straw is their failure to ask serious questions of China of the sort that Niall Ferguson asks in the Boston Globe - serious and searching questions on the origin of the Wuhan virus, the cover ups, the conspiracy and the disguising of the truth. Peston's stupidity, Kuenssberg's malice, Matlis's meretriciousness and all the rest trying to find gaps through which to shove needles at Boris whilst giving the PRC a free pass have not been missed by the public.

All of which is reflected in the latest popularity poll from JL polling for Times Red Box (9/4); China may be down -45%, but the media is close behind at -29%.

The Boston Globe comes up fine for me, but for anyone missing the linked piece, Ferguson's questions are
First, what exactly was going on in Wuhan that led to the initial emergence of SARS-CoV-2? If, as first claimed but now seems unlikely, the virus originated from a bat at one of the disgusting “wet” markets (for wildlife intended for human consumption), which your regime inexplicably has not shut down, that would have been bad enough. But if it originated because of sloppy practices at the Wuhan branch of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, that is worse. It is insanity for research on potentially lethal zoonoses such as coronaviruses to be going on in the heart of a vast metropolis like Wuhan.
Second, how big a role did the central government play in the cover-up after it became clear in Wuhan that there was human-to-human transmission?
Third, after it became clear that there was a full-blown epidemic spreading from Wuhan to the rest of Hubei province, why did you cut off travel from Hubei to the rest of China — on Jan. 23 — but not from Hubei to the rest of the world?
Fourth, what possessed your Foreign Ministry spokesman to start peddling an obviously false conspiracy theory on social media and why has he not been fired?
Fifth, where exactly are Ren Zhiqiang and Ai Fen, to name just two of the Chinese citizens who seem to have vanished since they expressed criticism of your government’s handling of COVID-19?
Finally, how many of your people has this disease really killed?

Thursday 9 April 2020

The joys of snuff

With that title, I expect for some time we'll get disappointed google searchers hitting this page; internet users are a weird lot. An old post about taxpayer-funded elective cosmetic surgery entitled "Poor women with large tattooed breasts" consistently scored the highest hits ranking of any page on the blog. So to clarify for any puzzled visitors, this post is about powdered cured tobacco.

I took a complete break from smoking about seven or eight years ago and have never craved one since. Physically. Not smoking takes no effort at all, but Oh how I regret having foregone the pleasure of smoking; I loved smoking. Really enjoyed it. If I live to 75, I'm going to start again. Before the smoking ban here this year, I loved to spend an hour or two in the local Gasthaus just for the smell of the dense clouds of cigarette smoke around the bar, a delicious fragrancing of my clothes that I would sniff nostalgically for the rest of the day. Well, Nicotine has been a good friend to me since I was 15, with me at all the big moments in life. So when I took a break from fags, I switched to snuff. Made in an old English snuff mill, a Northern one, that cures and grinds Virginia tobacco.

It's not some eccentricity for public showing-away but a connection with a lifelong physiological partnership. The Nicotine is just a fraction of that from smoking, the dopamine effect imperceptible but the connection remains. With the benefit that one can take snuff when seated on an aircraft, at a restaurant table, in a bar. It confuses the bansturbators - nobody has told them to ban snuff. And sales are so inconsequential that HM Treasury can hardly be bothered to tax it - a 25g tin costs about £2.80 and lasts about a month.

There's only one drawback. As a seasoned snuffer, my sneeze reaction is pretty well under control; one intakes snuff like sniffing a flower, not snorting coke. One of my few pleasures in life is agreeing to let coke-heads take a pinch; inevitably they suck it straight into the upper septum where it takes about a second before leaving them in tear-streaming agony, puce-faced and contorted with pain. But sometimes - when out walking, when in the supermarket - the residual snuff induces a sneeze. No problem, as I always have a snuff-kerchief to hand.

But boy. The looks of fear and horror from anyone within ten metres. A couple of times I've done that little pantomimey thing of shaking the head and waving the hand 'no', though I don't think they were convinced. 

Snuff mills with parts dating to the 18th century still grind exceeding fine in English factories

Wednesday 8 April 2020

Psst ... wanna buy an aircraft?

Airlines around the world are facing up to the reality that air travel is unlikely ever to return to the levels of late 2019, and certainly not within the life of many of their fleet of aircraft. Lufthansa is early off the blocks in announcing that 6 x A380s, 7 x A340-600s and 5 x B747-400s are to go, with another 11 x A320s removed from duty. Subsidiaries Lufthansa Cityline and Eurowings will lose 3 x A340-300s and 10 x A320s, Business Traveller reports.

Emirates are seeking to delay delivery of 8 x A380s, difficult as the aircraft are already in production. And of course Ryan Air have 20 x B737-MAX200s on order - rarely can new additions to a fleet be so unwanted.

It's not just aircraft that are unwanted. Airports face hard times, in some cases after having invested heavily in upgrades. Probably just as well LHR never got its new runway - it will never be needed now. I can see many smaller European airports closing down altogether - too many depend on bribing Easyjet or Ryan Air, and too many just want Summer visitor traffic.

But it's not those holiday-home flights that make money for the airlines but business travel; Politico EU carries a story which I think reflects an unwarranted optimism - "Business travel will come back when HR departments and corporate general counsels decide on a duty-of-care basis that they can relax their prohibition on travel, or actually come out and say, 'It’s time to go travel again'". Of course, with half the world learning to Zoom, manage Whatsapp groups and installing Signal on their phones, those HR departments may just decide that those trips are unnecessary. Of course, folk need to learn how to use those apps. Reader, I have just sent apologies for two Zoom meetings in a row - they are proving an indulgence for those craving attention but who have little of any importance to say. I'm not spending an hour linked to people (who can't pick up boredom signals) to do something that could have been done by email in five minutes.

Even our EU trade talks have resumed, albeit at low speed akin to a crawl, without over the table meetings. Oh, these will be needed at some stage, of course they will; one cannot dispense with all the NVC and interpersonal chemistry, but just maybe we will learn to exhaust the preliminaries by other means before an actual meeting. One can only hope.

Tuesday 7 April 2020

We're with you Boris

Today our prayers are for the recovery of the Prime Minister and our thoughts with his partner Carrie Symonds. C'mon Boris - we need you so badly.

Monday 6 April 2020

Will Starmer defend China?

It is apparent to epidemiologists that three nations - China, Iran and Russia - are not being honest with the rest of the world about the extent and development of the Wuhan virus in their countries. For Iran, the US openly shares satellite images of mass graves but has not yet revealed its satellite monitoring of either China or Russia for fairly obvious reasons. In addition, as the Telegraph reports, China has been flooding Facebook and Instagram with ads attacking the US and even blaming the Wuhan virus on Trump. In Belarus, the unreconstructed Soviet dictator Lukashenko has told his people that driving tractors and drinking vodka will cure the disease. Putin is also pretending that Russians are somehow immune whilst taking what measures he can, given Russia's primitive health infrastructure. In Iran, so many devout Islamists were licking shrines that I have considered changing their moniker from crane-hangers to shrine-lickers. I won't even mention the snake-oil cures peddled within diverse cultures.

These dodgy nations of course sit with us on the world's supranational forum, the UN - two of the epidemiologically irresponsible ones actually on the Security Council. The WHO is run by an Ethiopian chap of no apparent international distinction who has gladly done everything that China has asked of him.

The media is also filled with stories of the failure of that other supranational body, the EU. Failure to offer leadership at time of crisis, failure to implement mutual assistance requests from Italy, and an ongoing failure to release Germany's grip on its gold to help implement the European solidarity they talk about so much.

The reaction of the pro-Globalist, pro-supranational Left in the UK has been predictable; first, accusations of racism against anyone mentioning the origin of the Wuhan virus. Then a vigorous defence of the People's Republic, a defence of the lies, executions, concentration camps, organ removal from prisoners and all. Some bed fellows, Keir. It reminds me of that other old gulag-apologist Nye Bevan - who defended Soviet Russia even as he knew that the Holodomor was killing millions.

Of course, the Left are always helped by the far-right. In this case fake video of crowds at mosques during lockdown, promoted by Voldemort, Hopkins and Batten amongst others, never missing a chance to further their anti-Moslem hate campaign. This allows the Left to add to it's unequivocal support of supranationalism and authoritarian dictatorship its defence of Globalism. Yes, the Left and the global corporates are singing from the same hymn sheet.

Starmer is everything the metropolitan elites are looking for; a characterless technocrat devoid of charisma who supported Remain, adores supranational bodies, excuses Globalism and dismisses the concerns of labour's traditional voters. I'm just listening out for his defence of China - probably just before it's revealed they've been removing the lungs of condemned criminals to implant into Politburo bosses whose own have been compromised by the Wuhan virus.

Qom shrine licker

Sunday 5 April 2020

When Globalism failed

Let's take just a couple of samples from the front pages. From the Telegraph -
One of Britain’s few ventilator manufacturers was still prioritising supplies to China only a month ago, even as the Covid-19 outbreak accelerated here. Breas Medical, which makes breathing equipment from sites in the UK, Sweden and the US and is owned by the Chinese conglomerate Fosun, was focused on demand for ventilators in China until early March, when it was first contacted about boosting supplies to the NHS.
And again, from the FT
According to Tagesspiegel the Berlin police had ordered the masks from 3M. They were produced in a 3M factory in China and were due to be reloaded at Bangkok airport and flown to Germany. Instead the delivery went straight to the US.

On Thursday, US President Donald Trump invoked his authority under a Korean war-era law, the Defense Production Act, with regard to 3M’s N95 respirator masks. That allows the Federal Emergency Management Agency (Fema) to use “any and all authority” to buy “the number of N95 respirators” it “determines to be appropriate” from 3M and its subsidiaries, according to the wording of the act.
We haven't even got to drugs and chemicals yet, but you can bet that most of the kit so expertly assembled by the army to construct those Nightingale Hospitals was made in China. As, absurdly, are the trousers, smocks and stable belts worn by the soldiers, the MoD having outsourced uniform and clothing production to China.

Time after time in comments both here and in the media, in riposte to my attacks on the failures of Globalism, failures that have condemned huge cohorts of our population to hardship, have halted social mobility and have made our children poorer than their parents, supporters of Globalism have pointed out the compensation. That in return for destroyed lives, hollowed communities and social decline, we have enjoyed cheap stuff. Chinese tat. Uniforms and boots so shoddy that many soldiers buy their own kit. Electric drills for £10 and jeans for a fiver.

Of course, every leader and government across the globe knows the deal with the Wuhan virus. Knows that the Chinese government and propaganda machine have lied and lied, have repressed, threatened and removed doctors and scientists trying to be internationally responsible, have lied to the world, have corrupted the WHO and it's pathetic puppet head, Dr Tedros. They all know the 3,000 deaths the PRC reported are really 300,000 or even 3,000,000 - until we have the declassified spy satellite images we just don't know. Yet whilst so much of our essential goods and supplies comes from this hellhole, we are obliged to be politely friendly to the PRC. No government has openly criticised the evil regime - for now, we need those masks and ventilators.

My anger is for the 1%, the greedy, fat bastards who have not only impoverished and limited their own peoples and nation to make themselves rich, but have hobbled our ability to deal with the consequences of their avarice. If this bloody virus doesn't lead us to make a bonfire of their odious Globalism, we are utterly lost.