Sunday, 12 June 2022

Crisis of Confidence. Why not, it's just a daily occurrence

Sometimes we are talking about what is commonly named, ‘crisis of confidence’. It happens in all walks of life, even myself is not immune from that. I have been a Christian for most of my life and many times I wondered what in all honesty was going on. I have read most of the Bible, and many times I wondered what sort of individual wrote such stuff. Great parts of the New Testament text seems just to be some fanciful thoughts occurring to the writer whilst sitting on the shores of Lake Galilee blinded by the rising sun in the east over the Golan Heights. I don’t want to be super critical, the Bible gives much and in particular guidance about how life ought to be. As a communicant member of a local church I get great comfort from the spiritual dimension. There has to be much more about life than just sitting drinking coffee and working, five days a week, your very b*lls of just to pay for your gas to cook the dinner. Or even just to buy enough petrol to get you and your car to work!

Crisis of confidence? Oh sure, I have one. In fact I have a few. Firstly, in the governance of the Church in Wales, having changed the parish system to something called Ministry Areas without really telling anyone why this was necessary. It just seems to have been an attempt to centralize the finances from individual churches or parishes and secondly to close those churches no longer viable. All this will be denied of course, the Church will use the same methods as central governments, deny everything and just carry on. As we know, democracy only really exists in the minds of those who think they live in a democracy. In reality all governance is plutocratic. A great word meaning a society controlled by the richest people. A plutarchy is a society that is ruled or controlled by people of great wealth or income (Wikipedia). Just look at today’s Russia and there you can see a plutarchy controlled by a Mafia. Also, look at Westminster, could you say different?

Everywhere on this planet it is the same thing. Some people desire power, they obtain it, subsequently they become rich. Next you will see friends and family becoming richer as well. It is fun, isn’t it? All under the disguise of ‘We care for the people’!

Even august bodies like the Church suffers from this. The Roman Catholic Church must be one of the richest bodies on Earth. On its own it is not a terrible thing if you could say that these riches were used to alleviate poverty or hunger. Or even aid in the battle of life, medical help and proper governance of resources. Similarly with most other religious bodies. It all is about getting in the finances to support the top echelon. Once these are established and in place, other monies are then free to do a few things like financing more priests and upholding empty buildings.

But as I said, you can be critical, truthfully I don’t have the answers either. That is, if there are answers! But instead of the status quo I would like to see some real change. More realistic change. And if that means the closure of our church then so be it, I can again sit on the closest mountain top contemplating my navel. It is like history is just repeating itself!

Saturday, 11 June 2022

Fraud...are you kidding me?

We hear a lot about fraud, online fraud or Internet fraud, today. Let’s be fair when it is so easy to spoof SMS’ communication or even spoof telephone numbers I am surprised we are not literally drowned in the stuff. I am sure the official bodies, like OfCom and banks themselves, could do a lot more. As well as the Internet companies themselves. Individuals should do more to safeguard themselves. I do not receive many phone calls from persons from India but when they start saying things like ‘Am I speaking to Mr X?’ I know we are in the beginnings of a possible scam and I simply put the phone down without saying a word. If it is important they will phone back but they never do so it cannot be important. On mobiles you can block all calls from people NOT on your contacts list. That is pretty good. So make sure your bank, if you use your mobile, will be one of your contacts. There is no way you can block all emails, spam or otherwise, except you can filter them. Businesses like Google already use pretty good filters but they still end up in your spam box. You could block individual senders but it entails you having to open the email. It is possible this email has the ability to return a signal to the sender showing your email address is valid and used. Resulting in a further avalanche of spam. I have found the best way, especially with Gmail, is to allow Google to send spam to the spam box and simply delete it. You can also redirect it to the ‘Deleted’ box which when closing the email program and having set the relevant switch, will automatically delete everything in the ‘Deleted’ box. What I normally do is ‘scan’ the email headings and take out those (only very, very few a month) that Google marked as spam but are not. They arrived in spam for other reasons, like using words in the message that are marked as ‘trigger’ words. Another thing you can and should do is ‘train’ the spam filter in your email program. You can mark all those unwanted emails from supermarkets to clothing shops as spam and after a short time they will all automatically put in the spam box. Everyone using email systems simply has to be more aware you are open to the world. Every Tom, Di*k and Harry can say almost everything, from having won a lottery which you didn’t even know existed and didn’t buy a ticket, to telling you your bank account has been compromised and you need to change your money to another account immediately. I had a message like that, just simply phone your bank. But don’t use numbers that are shown in the message or click on any UNDERLINED words! The genuine bank telephone numbers are very easy to find. If you have a bank debit or credit card the phone numbers shown on it should be used. Again, if those phone numbers are shown in the email and are underlined – DO NOT CLICK on them! It cannot be overemphasized, phone the bank yourself! There are more things you can do – get a paid for VPN service, use Two Factor Authorisation -2FA where possible, or use a Yubico key or other brand, there are a few. It costs a few pounds but may save you your life’s savings. So, be careful, and keep you ears and eyes open.

Edit: I was not trying to be either a misogynist or racist when I said ‘Indian’. It just so happens that an lot of these calls do come from India or Pakistan, so quite obviously I mentioned it in that way. But all the same, those sort of calls could equally well come from Outer Mongolia or yes, Russia!

Tuesday, 7 June 2022

Boris, you have won... use the prize checker

Ha and so the good ol’ PM has survived his Vote of Confidence. And if I may ask, why not? Is he the worst PM this country has had? No sir, he is not! There were a few bad uns and in fact I would call the present PM a better one than most. Who can say John Major, Theresa May amongst a few more, were good? Look, let’s be fair, who can say they followed ALL the rules? Who can say they NEVER lied? May I say here that if you are that virtuous person WITHOUT any faults whatsoever, what are you doing reading this? You should be in Westminster telling us all to be better! Or perhaps you should have started a new religion. Just look around and have a glance at other world leaders, are we so badly served? Humanity has many faults, that does not mean we should stop trying to be better and improve things. We are all burdened by our genes telling us how to behave. Some of us are better at it than others. Some of us know how to control our inborn traits, some fail and some fail miserably. So, if Alastair Campbell, that example of virtuosity or Chris Bryant the Rhondda underwear fashion model, have something to say about Boris they should have a quick look at their own behaviour. Being part of the lower echelon of the Twitterati, the base load of people who never learned proper English or have a minimal knowledge of British history, they just make a mockery of politics generally. Contributing nothing but a bit of blather and spite.

So, lucky for you Boris, at least a decent majority followed you so just get on with it. If you can because you also have to fight the Civil Service, change our society with its myriad of problems to a more equitable one. Ditch some unworkable ones like heat pumps and concentrate on producing electricity cheaply through solar mats on all the roofs of all the houses in the UK. Don’t ditch plans like the Swansea barrage and spend some investment on research into storage batteries. Just for starters. Put this confidence issue behind you and LET’S GET ON WITH IT. As you intended. Carry on my man!

Sunday, 5 June 2022

A quick look at the situation? Absolutely...

When looking at the world situation we might begin to wonder how this is going to end. Everywhere you look there are tensions. Nations are squaring up to each other all over the place. Even in Europe and that is besides the war in Ukraine. France is spearheading an anti-British feeling thanks to Brexit and still believing it can mediate with the Russians. Germany is saying one thing and doing another, promising to help Ukraine and actually doing nothing much. In Asia China is muscling in on the Pacific area greatly worrying Australia and the US. North Korea is throwing missiles all over the place. Russia itself has embarked on an aggressive policy which it is carrying out bit by bit. Everyone expects the Ukraine will not be the last. In fact it is basically trying to re-instate the old USSR boundaries. It seems that the whole world is bracing itself but for what it has yet no idea. Raw materials, energy, over-population all pressure points. I have mentioned the one-time research about how rats were reacting to over-population after an era of plentiful food and room to spare. They simply started killing each other. Is this the way humanity is going about it already? We are, like rats, mammals with exactly the same outlook. I suppose it doesn’t look good. It doesn’t have to be this way, we can adapt. We can deal with the pressures, we can redress the balance. We need to deal with the inborn human trait that forces some people to want to be top-dog. Even worse want to be top-dog at all costs, to the point that human lives don’t matter. We need to deal with the inborn trait of greed, greed that develops into avarice. Not sure who will tell the Chinese leadership that or the Americans. All in all it seems to be the time we need to take stock. How do we really want to live our lives? Do we want to live under a mafia state government or do we want to have at least some input in a democracy? There are problems in a democracy as well or can be, as we know but it can be worked out. In dictatorial regimes only very few people will prosper, most just must work to keep alive.

These are valid points that need serious thought and maybe our country, the UK could be in the forefront. For all his faults Boris has been correct in support of Ukraine. Actual aid in weapons and training and continuing. Europe for all its bluster about being a superstate and economic superpower, it is nothing of the sort. Within the halls of power there are already overtures of peace. Basically simply this – let Ukraine cede the land Russia has occupied illegally and go into peace negotiations which would mean Ukraine would become a vassal state or just a Russian province. That is Europe for you, a hotch-potch of shivering nobodies who think they still matter. Going on like this we might well see what I mentioned before, Russian soldiers standing on the shores of the North Sea. Let’s just not make the same mistakes as we did in the 1930’s, if we do we will end up with the same ending. And this time it will be curtains for all of us and the planet.

Wednesday, 1 June 2022

Some irreverent thoughts, perhaps....

Sorry if I sound like a ‘partypooper’ but is it not high time to drop this idiocy called ‘Partygate’? This is the ongoing fracas with the ‘meetings’ in No.10 Downing Street where the PM was seen to have a drink and sing along with ‘Happy Birthday’ or some similar jaunty song. Look friends, if you want to get rid of a PM this continual bitching is not doing much. Tell your local MP to send in a letter to force the 1922 Committee to call a vote of no confidence or whatever they want to call it. But let me say this as well, there is no obvious Conservative MP who could lead the government or the party! So, all of this is just a waste of time as Boris will win anyway. 

Now on to something much more important – it is the new problem on the block, holidays. Thousands flooding to the airports where they find their planes have already been sold to Russia or just stand on the tarmac. When there are no people to check passports, clean the toilets, or fly the planes! Yet holiday companies just kept on selling holidays in sunny Spain, or rather overheated Spain by 40 degrees knowing there was no way they could honour all of them. Talk about closing your eyes! But as always there is another side to the story. 

It is not all the fault of the companies. People themselves behave like the proverbial cattle, stampede! Show a bit of a sunny sunrise and thousands gallop en masse to the airports. Possibly a case of ‘To hell with global warming, I fly to where it is warmer’. Putting a few tonnes of CO2 in the air as I am going, why not, a few extra won’t matter, will it? I suppose the Covid lock-down has created a demand which has now been released. The locks have removed from the doors and literally all, people, dogs, cats, babies, even the pot plants have all spilled out onto the roads. It has not helped that we also decided right at this time of upheaval to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee. Most of us cannot recall any other monarch and perhaps she will be the last one as well. 

So, a few days known as a ‘Bank holiday’. Only God knows why we call it a Bank holiday as banks are on permanent holiday known as a ‘Staycation’. That means they cannot go abroad but stay in sunny North Wales where they give you a bear skin to sit on the beach. I know that because when I speak to a bank employee you can hear the seagulls in the background. Mobile phones are a godsend, just ask the Civil Service! Well, all in all I will have a few nice days at home and spend some time in the garden trying to remember why the grass is so high. The beer will be cold as it has stood outside where it is colder than inside the fridge, so happy days!

Friday, 27 May 2022

A worthy epitaph? Not really...

There is not a single day that we can miss reports of climate warming and things associated with it. The exhausts of planes and motor vehicles contribute possibly 25% of the carbon dioxide emanations into the atmosphere. It is remarkable to see that people generally have not yet noticed the way we live is attributable to our eventual demise. This morning I just looked into our sunny sky which by itself is a rarity at the moment because we suffer a regular number of cold fronts, but I noticed well over 10 contrails! Besides the ones that were already dissipating there must have been well over 25 flights within a span of 2 hours! Now I do believe the Ukrainian war might have caused increased flights from the States because of weapon supplies but even so climate warming seems to carry on unabated and in fact the tempo is increasing. It is not just exhausts of course, overgrazing in Africa and population explosion there will contribute millions of tonnes of CO2. 

Wars and accompanying destruction millions of tonnes more! It is not good and already it is reported in newspaper articles that the expected 1 degree is no longer the amount of general warming of the planet but it is now anything up to 3 degrees! Which makes the recent heatwave in Spain believable! Temperatures of 40 degrees and over were recorded. As I have mentioned many times before, I believe northern Africa, the area known as the Sahel will become uninhabitable. Actually the Sahel is increasing southward as well. This will ensure populations will also move southward or as we know, try to emigrate to northern areas. Europe above the Mediterranean the favoured destination. This pressure will increase a thousandfold in the next decade.

What are the possible actions we could take? Well, for one I believe that air travel will need to be curtailed. No fly holidays, if you want to go, use an electric car and plan for it carefully as the required infrastructure is nowhere good enough. But even electric cars are not free from producing CO2. The manufacturing processes and the generating of the required electricity will ensure also thousands of tonnes of CO2. But it must be said, much less overall. Not a good story of human civilisation when our epitaph is ‘We tried, but we failed’.

Saturday, 21 May 2022

Will less be better than more? Well....

There is a lot in the news, the papers, TV reports about inflation and the rise in prices across the board. I am basically a stupid person but let me ask a question, is everyone as stupid as me? Very few people talk about the underlying reasons why all this is happening. I have said quite a while ago what would happen if oil suddenly became scarce. Our western so-called civilisation has continually ignored the basic rules of supply and demand and how it is coupled to the basic availability of raw materials like oil, gas and other commodities. As we can easily see today, the oil price, diesel and petrol have hit the roof and are likely to go beyond that. This obviously will reverberate through to increased transport prices. You don’t need to be an economics graduate to see that! Increased transport prices will also increase commodity prices. 

As it stands today I cannot understand eminent people burbling on about how they are going to change all of that by government intervention. The only thing governments can do is the usual, either print more money and give that to whoever they want to give it to, like they did with the Covid lock-downs. Or increase taxes. People like me, do not count in the great scheme of things. Make no mistake, it has always been like that. Let’s not pretend we matter because nature sees no difference in humans and any other living thing! Simply this, if the food supply runs out, you starve, you can talk as much as you want, it will not make one jot of difference. Obviously as humans with some grey matter in our heads we can help by moving the available foods and other commodities around the world to initially stave off starvation in affected areas but that is very much depending on governmental resolve. 

Wars such as the Ukrainian-Russian conflagration will always be used as a way to disrupt the movement of goods across the world. The grain stored in Ukraine, millions of tonnes is held almost certainly as a bargaining chip by Russia. The oil and gas also supplied by Russia will also be used in that manner even though Europe has taken steps to diminish its dependence on Russian oil and gas. All these things are just the basis on which prices increase. Finally, the other big reason is the number of people in the world and increasing rapidly resulting in increased demand of almost everything. I cannot see the West having a predominant call on commodities anymore, the competition will drive up prices come what may. All in all we will have to get used to less and that at higher cost. Furthermore, it might not be such a bad thing! Pointing back at a previous post where I mentioned my visit to a local hospital, I have never seen so many overweight people! No wonder we suffer so many ailments, heart problems, strokes, cancer and that’s just for starters! So, less will be much better. Goodbye to McDonalds, KFC, Deliveroo et al!