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Saturday 6 June 2020


Just a footnote on masks. New requirements to wear them on public transport and in other social situations in which it is not possible to maintain a 2m distance will be a new experience for many Britons. And the columns in the papers make quite clear that our journos know bugger all about them. I offer a few notes not as an expert but certainly better informed than the press. Masks are not homogeneous and do different things -

Home made mouth and nose coverings
These range from the pointless (home knitted or crocheted) to the improvised (scarves, shemaghs, bandanas and balaclavas) to self-sewn pleated masks make of paper or fabric. These are intended to protect other people from you in case you are infectious but not showing symptoms. They need to lower the level of the vapour in your breath and droplets from speaking, coughing or sneezing that reaches other people. It's this vapour and tiny droplets that carry the virus particles. If they work, they will get damp and soggy from use as they trap vapour. Will need frequent washing at 60deg or more if not disposable (detergents such as soap and washing powder 'melt' the outer coating of the virus, but the conditions may also encourage moulds and bacterial growth in unwashed coverings)

'Surgical' masks
These will be by far the most commonly available. Disposable and made of pleated layers of paper with a polymer outer coating to give limited protection from inhaling direct droplets. Intended to protect others rather than you. Again, if these are working properly they will get damp and soggy and need frequent changing if worn for prolonged periods. Can be cheap - bundles of 50 sell for about €37 here.

Filtering Face Piece masks - disposable
The most common masks worn by health and care workers in aerosol-generating environments. They have an airtight fit over mouth and nose and are valved - you breath in air filtered through the fabric and exhale through a one-way valve. Primarily to protect you rather than others. FFP2 and FFP3 masks filter respectively a minimum of 94% and 99% of particles including vapour down to 0.3 microns. They will not filter out airborne virus particles (which are between about 0.05 to 0.2 microns), but SARS CoV 2 is not an airborne virus - it is carried in vapour and droplets. I've got a box of FFP2 masks in the workshop bought from Screwfix a year ago for about £1.50 each

Filtering face Piece masks - rechargeable
These are the ones that look like WW2 gasmasks without the eye protection. I've got three or four in the workshop with replaceable FFP3 cartridges - great for cutting masonry with a diamond blade, which creates huge clouds of fine dust indoors. Also excellent protection from SARS CoV 2.

Facial recognition cameras
There's one upside - facemasks, particularly when work with eye protection or reflective visors, completely bugger the new facial recognition cameras installed everywhere in London, as ZDnet reports.

Note - I neither recommend, endorse or condemn the use of facemasks. These are just a few notes on the differences for anyone interested. 

Friday 5 June 2020

Great European Journeys

The trick in politics is to see what's coming before it gets here, and thus have time to control and establish the narrative. Ever ready to keep our telescope trained on the horizon here at Schloss Radders, we bring you news of the Italian Orange Jackets, as reported by Politico EU.

Led by a nice looking old boy who looks like he's raided Michael Portillo's wardrobe, the movement represents the virus sceptics and the views evinced here by many of you; that the Wuhan virus is just a bad flu, lockdown was the worse error, the fake news media are complicit and the elite are still refusing to cede power to the voters. Reasonable and mainstream views - which may, or may not, turn out to be the case, once the evidence is in. So far the first two are not proven, but there's a case to answer, as they say. Oh, and buried deep in the P.EU piece is a throwaway line that the old boy wants to take Italy out of the EU and ditch the Euro. Not really important at all.

Of course Politico.EU is quick to lump in anti-vaxxers and the 5G tinfoil hats with Pappalardo's movement - part of establishing the opposing narrative - and the other side, the communists, socialists, establishment and authoritarians, some of whom would like to see nations locked down under police control for ever, are already grunting about making 'Virus denial' a crime. They couldn't find any Italian fascists amongst the crowd in this report, but give them time. And if there aren't any, well, the media are inventive enough to dress a few tattooed skinheads in orange HiVis vests for the shots.

A minor event, a few hundred people, but like the ripples that precede the wave, it's there on the horizon. Lines and narratives are being drawn. I'll park it there.

Portillo with a socially-distancing Ipswich yottie

Thursday 4 June 2020

Time for Boris to be bold

Everyone it seems is agreed. The PM must move quickly to deal with the most egregious failures of the central State exposed by the Wuhan virus. Public Health England, so obsessed with fashionable caprices that it neglected the nation's fundamental disease control measures; NHS procurement, so focused on gobbledegook management consultant speak that it became incapable of buying PPE, and a government reliance on disease modelling and projection so amateurish, bungling and confused that the code management would not have been tolerated in an Indian app factory.

Allister Heath in the Telegraph this morning is spot-on. The PM must act boldly, take the initiative, not be put on the back foot by an effective opposition and a rejoiner establishment. And above I will add he must not yield to the Whitehall establishment's siren calls that the answer to everything is greater centralisation, much as for Brussels the answer to every crisis is more Europe.

And whilst he's at it, he should scrap the Electoral Commission and replace it with a genuinely fair, neutral and unbiased body. The EC's actions over Brexit have been nothing short of disgraceful, partisan, partial and ultimately corrupt. And while scrapping HS2 would play well in the country, at a time when we will need government created economic activity to keep the economy alive it unfortunately fits the bill.

Above all, I would like to see devolution. Devolve everything to the lowest level at which it functions both effectively and efficiently. And it's the SMEs and small vigorous domestic firms that will burst forth from the coming economic carnage and drive growth and employment; abandon the global corporate behemoths crying for special privileges and billions. Keep BA as a national carrier - it's fat with QE cash and doesn't need tax aid yet - and maintain strategic industrial activities, but don't waste time or money trying to preserve 2019. Let it go.

Boris of all PMs should realise that the challenge he faces is also an opportunity, and he has a green light for bold moves, a restructuring of the central State and an unblinking focus on the future.     

Wednesday 3 June 2020

The cost of public vanity

I've seen a lot of really rubbish architecture in my time, but the biggest waste of space must be the South Bank centre in London. Millions of tourists coming into London over Hungerford bridge must wonder why we chose to build a vast 1970s concrete car park so close to the centre of London, and most Londoners seem to regard it as a free public toilet with carpets and burgers. A very few will realise that there are two resident orchestras buried within a concert hall with the most appalling acoustics in Europe, and squatting on the top like a Halfords roof box is one of the most unsatisfactory art galleries I have ever seen, which surely must have been planned by one who hated visual art with a vengeance.

The whole nasty, tacky, amateurish bodginess of the South Bank was epitomised for me by the Nelson Mandela bust. A big bronze head about six times scale squatted on a pedestal on the outside walkway visible from the train track. Like much of the haranguing by the liberal elite it was meant as a punishment and a rebuke as much as a tribute to the great man. So they put the poor chap not nobly gazing over the Thames but around the side, looking at the scruffy, blackened and spray painted railway arches so as to inflict him on millions of tired commuters, whom they presumably held responsible for the entire apartheid regime in South Africa. Well, one day a frustrated commuter took a hammer to the thing. It was so monolithic, even a 20oz hammer would have left no more a few slight dings, but to everyone's astonishment it knocked a huge chunk through Nelson's breastbone. Turned out it wasn't made of bronze at all but fibreglass.

Well, this was back in the day when the Standard was a newspaper and had journalists and stories and everything. The patrons said they thought they'd paid for bronze, so extortionately expensive was the thing. No, no, said the artist, I never said bronze. I said bronze finish, see? And if that bloke hadn't put a hammer through it, you'd never have noticed. As it turned out, the fake bronze bust was a perfect embellishment to the fake concert centre and the fake art gallery to which it was attached. It was all just a huge con on the public purse.

Anyway, all that was to point you in the direction of a Speccie piece by Norman Lebrecht, who loathes the place as much as I do. His solution is much kinder by far than mine. I would turn the entire place over to an upscale toilet and street food centre, which sometimes seem to be the only two visitor attractions that London gets right.

What happened to the Mandela bust? Oh it was repaired. A few times. Then someone realised that fibreglass is flammable, and burned the thing to pieces. Eventually, we paid up for a copy in real bronze set out of hammer-reach, thus perpetuating the practice of not only paying over the odds but twice for something of questionable merit.

The attractive Shell building obscured by a luvvie monolith

Tuesday 2 June 2020

Public order and disorder

Forget the silly copycat virtue signalling on the streets of London - I think this was merely our exuberant minority having a post-lockdown knees-up - but the riots in the US really do point to an endogenous problem in American policing. A comment to the post below reminded us that the opposite to love is not hate but indifference. It was indifference that gave us Bergen-Belsen and the casual murderous brutality of the Nazis; they simply didn't care enough even to feed or keep alive their victims. The worst crime in the eyes of these beasts was not to be Jewish or Communist but to be inconvenient. This I think is also the problem at the heart of US police violence - indifference.

Many aspects of the US are counter-intuitive. I love this map -

It shows the predominant ethnic origin of each county and the most common is ... German. Apart from Utah and the old states of the NE coast, the English are nowhere. So prevalent was German culture in the US that on the eve of the Great War, the country was ambivalent as to which side to support. This has nothing to do with the seats of the riots, the major conflagrations in LA, NY, Chicago, Atlanta and of course Minneapolis, but I throw it out as an explainer of a cultural difference between the UK and US that we sometimes cannot quite understand.

We have of course no equivalent of the National Guard either. The ease with which the US has used these armed citizens in the past decades, including for those who recall it the shooting dead of 13 students at Kent State University in 1970, is also utterly alien to British culture.

Our own most recent riots in 2011 proved the efficacy of the country's mass surveillance systems. Some 1,292 persons were jailed for a total of 1,800 years. This at least must prove some sort of disincentive to the anarchic inciters, even if it also poses civil liberties concerns for the rest of us.

David Lammy may be happy to be seen trying to start this disorder in the UK, but we really are very different nations. 

Monday 1 June 2020

No-deal seems like a done deal

As the claims, accusations and counter claims bounce back and forth across the Channel this week between David Frost and M Barnier in advance of what is likely to be the final round of talks, at least in advance of an intervention by the Prime Minister with VDL, take comfort in considering that it is all just window dressing and that no-deal is now pretty much inevitable. As John Keiger writes in the Speccie
After Britain’s chief negotiator’s broadside of a letter a few weeks ago on the need for the EU negotiators to get real, David Frost added a further nail to the negotiation's coffin. On 27 May, he announced that a fishing deal with the EU would be ‘very difficult’. But in reality, each Brexit negotiator is merely going through the motions. The pointilliste dots of individual decisions made elsewhere clearly paint a no-deal Brexit picture.
Keiger lists the manifold factors that predicate against a deal. Liability for the EU €750bn bailout, markets so distorted by state-aid that the EU playing field now has the slope and contours of a Welsh village rugby pitch and the fact that business has already decided that a no-deal outcome is the one for which to plan. Not only is Nissan deserting Spain for the UK but the company may close their Renault plant in France also, and bring Micra production back to the UK. Macron, having just bunged Renault €5bn, is not happy.

Over the weekend we have had the opening salvos, summarised effectively by the Daily Express. First an 'ultimatum' from M Barnier that he will walk away from talks if the UK doesn't back down on our red lines, then our chaps saying the EU was being unrealistic. This public bombast will continue. In the past we've allowed the French to do all the histrionic shouting, considering somehow that it was beneath us, but a new age under Boris has brought a touch of the Twickenham bleachers to our approach, and we now shout back. If Keiger is right, it's actually about establishing in advance who is to blame. Not us.

Four weeks to go. The pressure of the global corporates and foreign interests on the UK press and media will continue. They're not helped by the tsunami of QE that is artificially inflating asset prices like the skin of  a Peking duck; once the air has been let out, there is actually very little flesh on those sparse bones, but today it's hard to argue that it's the prospect of a no-deal that is depressing share prices.

There remains a flash of amusement in the pro-globalist publicity offensive. In the Telegraph, which has bled readers as the Barclay Brothers have abandoned their pro-Brexit stance, it's Jeremy Warner who is today the prophet of gloom and despondency. I'm eagerly anticipating AEP's first ever bouncy and optimistic take on our economic prospects.