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Friday 24 April 2020

Feel their pain

Spare a moment this morning, if you will, to feel the pain of the EUphiles. The Wuhan virus has targeted the old, and has targeted BAME persons but let us not forget it has also impacted supranationalists far more than internationalists. As nations and peoples re-assert themselves, the rediscovery of internationalism, of voluntary co-operation, of domestic priorities, is rapidly putting the world back in order. Everywhere, Globalism is in retreat. But you'd need a heart of stone not to cast a grain of pity for those who, having been floored by Brexit, are now being felled for a second time. Der Spiegel's cry is almost pitiable;
The fact that in the Alsace region, critically ill patients were transported to distant – French – hospitals despite the fact that beds in nearby – German – intensive care units were available is a function of the bad habits developed in an old world whose disappearance would be anything but detrimental. It is shameful that Germany, the most powerful country in Europe, has again neglected to take any steps towards strengthening the union. It has once again become apparent that EU headquarters in Brussels has no power and that, in the opinion of EU member states, shouldn't get any. 
Old, nation-state attitudes have deep roots.These attitudes are reflected in small things, such as the fact, for example, that political maps are consistently used to depict the expansion of this virus – as though it were a national problem. The colorings used on the maps are meant to show how each country is doing in the fight against the illness, while diagrams are used to identify model pupils (South Korea) and problem children (the United States). Each country's supply of face masks is carefully enumerated while national stockpiles of medical equipment are compared. It may sound cynical, but the daily tables showing the number of infections and deaths look almost like the medal counts from some macabre Olympics.
Stay safe.

Thursday 23 April 2020

Well fancy that ..

Following a previous post in which I outlined the early and sketchy evidence from China that suggested that smokers had some immunity to Covid-19, the phenomenon has gone European. Austria of course is the chain-smoker of Europe, and smoking in bars and cafes was only banned at the beginning of this year, greatly to the annoyance of the regulars at my local gasthaus.

Fags here are just over £4 a packet - unlike the UK, smuggled cigarettes from eastern Europe cannot easily be stopped, and though the health fascists would dearly love to tax at UK levels, they know that not only would it not reduce smoking but the government would lose tax.

As the Guardian reports, a study at Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris revealed that only 4% - 5% of Covid-19 patients were smokers, when 25% - 30% of the general population smoke. So compelling were the findings that nicotine patches are now to be issued to patients and frontline health workers.

There is no confirmation that nicotine is the prophylactic agent, and the science is still out, but it's just possible that the nicotine fascists whose campaign against smoking (justified) has been extended to a 'war on tobacco' (no justification other than joyless bansturbation) will have nicotine vape blown in their faces. If, and it's an outside chance, some other component of burning cured tobacco leaf is responsible, the race will be on to produce it commercially. BAT, Imperial, Philip Morris and Altria will be happy.

Quinine and caffeine are also alkaloids. There's some evidence that the former has a prophylactic effect, but no suggestion as yet as to the latter. 

Christopher Snowdon in Spiked on this is well worth reading - and a savage condemnation of Public Health England and their fellow lying zealots whose lies will have cost lives. These fools must be indicted.  

Once again, Libertarianism wins out over authoritarian stupidity.

Wednesday 22 April 2020

Our over-central State isn't doing so well

In the inevitable post-Covid inquiry, if it is conducted honestly, it will be found that we lost lives in part because of our over-centralised, ineffective, power-grasping State, obstructive and bureaucratised procurement practises and a refusal by Whitehall to localise, decentralise and delegate. We don't have to look far for the villains.

Public Health England, the woke body whose greatest achievement to date has been to ban smoking in hospital grounds and whose main policy thrust was a campaign against alcohol and sugar, has comprehensively cocked-up Wuhan virus testing, as reported in the Telegraph. With a fantasy aspiration to create a single national testing centre, a fantasy that killed health workers, they have now instructed everyone to switch to commercial tests.

And although the press are giving the government a hard time over shortages of PPE, it really isn't the Health Secretary's job to buy nitrile gloves. Each local health trust, hospitals, the NHS, have their own vast procurement departments - I've seen a figure of over 100,000 buying staff quoted. OK, we should have better maintained a national emergency buffer stock of pandemic gear, but as soon as the virus became apparent in January, these buyers should have been placing orders. And it may emerge that our statist jobsworths delayed buying PPE because of EU public procurement directives that require them to advertise across the EU for 30 days before issuing tender documents then another 30 days to allow tenderers to prepare bids, then a compulsory 'standstill' period, then give themselves another 30 days to evaluate the tenders ... an EU-compliant purchase order can take four or five months between starting the procurement and getting the first delivery. If any dickhead anywhere in our vast health infrastructure has insisted on sticking to EU rules they should be shot.

Everywhere are stories of an innovative, agile and responsive private sector banging on the doors of the State to offer testing, help, assistance, contacts, contracts, gear and lifesaving expertise. And everywhere are stories of official doors being slammed in their faces, of bureaucrats 'hiding behind websites', of unanswered calls, of uncontactable procurement departments, of senior civil servants deaf to advice.

It is clear already that we have been grossly failed by an over-central State. Whitehall is not the model we need. We need deep change in the shape of our government.

Tuesday 21 April 2020

That's the thing about capitalism

Christian Wolmar writes knowledgeably about the madcap race for railways in the nineteenth century; fortunes were won and lost, risks were high but rewards could be higher. Investors willingly put their money into these uncertain ventures in the full knowledge that it could either all be lost or they would become wealthy beyond desire. That's the thing about capitalism. If you don't want risk put your money into gilts or premium savings bonds. It's a matter of choice.

Tax avoidance is also a matter of choice. It's quite legal and proper - though not of course compulsory. Richard Branson, who is seeking taxpayer help in both Australia and the UK to keep Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia afloat, has been a tax resident in the British Virgin Islands now for many years, and has not paid tax in either the UK or Australia since 2006. He's done well - though his £3.5bn fortune is largely in the share-value of his holdings rather than cash.

It's quite legal to pare-down the assets of a struggling company. It's quite legal to lease nearly all your aircraft and even to mortgage your LHR landing slots to bondholders. Nothing illegal there at all.

That's the thing about capitalism. If those Virgin airlines go bust, the aircraft will still be there, the pilots, air and ground crews will still be there and passengers, even in reduced numbers, will still be there when we start flying again. The public won't lose out. The brand was quite cool in the '80s but then so were shoulder pads and Walkmans.

I can't think of a single reason, therefore, why UK taxpayers should pay £500m to preserve Richard Branson's wealth. Why should we? I don't begrudge Branson his fortune, but won't shed a tear if he loses it all. That's the thing about capitalism.

Deaths all-causes stats 
The figures should be out today. After last week's 6k excess deaths, I predicted, if we're on the climb of the curve, that today could see 15k above the long-run average. I really do pray I'm wrong.

Monday 20 April 2020

Peston on antigenic shift and antigenic drift

The sewer press must move on. Murdoch has done his globalist best to throw shit at Boris, after it became clear that having already left the EU we would not extend the transition period. Only the dawning of 1st January 2021 will convince the globalists and remainers that we've really left. The remainer dags on BBC, ITV and C4 - Peston, Kuenssberg, Bolton, Beth Rigby, Newman, Burley and the rest - must now crawl into even more latrine pits to find material with which to attack the government. I predict Peston, having demonstrated before millions that he doesn't know the difference between an antigen and an antibody, will instantly now become an expert on the difference between antigenic shift and antigenic drift as talk moves on to vaccine development.

Meanwhile there will always be those who look to the make the best of a crisis. Amongst them are those seeking to drive a wedge between China and the states of Africa. Africans, it appears, have had first hand experience of their Chinese overseers already and it has not been positive. Now it's emerging that the Wuhan virus is racist, killing people of colour to a disproportionate extent, the wedge-drivers are using social media to squeeze out videos of black people being abused and victimised by the Chinese and even one alleging to show a mob of Nigerians torching a Chinese factory. Whether these come from the CIA, FSB or just opportunistic sources, the effect is the same - they help to undo the billions spent by China in Africa as part of the belt and road drive. 

And finally of course Boris's illness also seems to have provoked hope in the hearts of ambitious Tories. As Boris came close to death, our MPs asked desperately who could possibly replace him, and for at least one Tory MP the answer it seems was 'Me!'

So here's your quiz question for the week. Which Tory MP whom you've probably hardly noticed in the past has been all over social media and the less-demanding broadcast media this week? Also with an article in the Sundays. A couple of clues. He's an obedient soft remainer and is possibly the most tedious and soporific writer and speaker in the parliamentary party. The man is living Ritalin. He could put an entire remedial class of ADD delinquents to peaceful sleep.

Sunday 19 April 2020

I want to be the 'Bells on Sunday' man

For the past two or three weeks the BBC has run out of contemporary recordings of change ringing for the 2-minute 'Bells on Sunday' slot on Radio 4. We've had old recordings instead. So what? many of you will be asking. Some of those bells were cast in the 1500s - they've sounded the same for over 500 years. Why does a few weeks make a difference? Yet in a strange way it does make a difference. You see, I have a strong mental image of that tiny department at the BBC.

It starts with the 'Bells on Sunday' man. He's provided with a BBC technician's van in Brunswick Green livery and each week makes his way to one or two small English or Welsh villages, booking into a small local 3* hotel before an English breakfast and a 10am meeting with the ringers and vicar.

"Righto - I'll use three mics. An external gun mike oriented to the tower louvres, one in the nave and the other on the ringing floor."

"Okay let's go for levels please - ring away"

Then, even if the first take of 'Campion quad bob minor' is perfect "Okeydokey let's go for one more take ..." because with two or three takes everyone feels they're getting their money's worth.

Then onto an agreeable solitary lunch in an ancient pub at least a village away before the next appointment. I reckon the BoS man does two recordings a week, probably by Wednesday, allowing Thursday and Friday for the programme editor, the BBC Controller of Bells, first, second and assistant sound engineers, offline and online editors, archive and rights manager and HR director, all on the payroll of the 2-minute BoS slot, to undertake executive meetings and decide which of the two or three takes from each church recording is to be broadcast. The head office team doesn't waste the time from Monday to Wednesday, you can be sure. On Monday there's the wash-up meeting following the Sunday broadcast -

"I thought the continuity was a little rushed, Jeremy. Schedule a meeting, will you, with the Head of Continuity, the Scripts Editor and the Facts and History Controller, say next week?"

On Tuesday the team meets in plenary session to agree the locations for forthcoming recordings, each with a fat file of photocopied letters from tower captains across the land extolling the qualities of their ring of eight tuned to E

And of course Wednesdays are for the clearance of the equalities statements with the BBC Equalities and Diversity teams. Wednesdays are the worst day of the week.

"I see you've got the next eleven rings planned. All villages. Cheshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire. All hideously white, from the demographics. And despite my previous memoranda, not a single recording of change ringing from a Moslem church"

"Uhm, Controller, there's a problem there. You see mosques don't have ..."

"With respect, I'm not looking for excuses. Just action. I want to hear bells from Moslem, Hindu and Jewish churches in the next three months. Clear?"

"Well of course we'll try. I Expect this is a bit of a change for you from the BBC Climate Change department?"

But most of all I want to be the BoS man in the little Brunswick Green van, never entering Broadcasting House from one year to the next, going home each week to a little pink cottage in a tiny hamlet in the Suffolk brecklands, a comfortable wife and a loving dog.