Thursday, 27 February 2020

Coronavirus and life expectancy....

It is rather interesting to read, hear and see the hundreds of reports about the coronavirus outbreak. But I got the point, it is a media frenzy. As a matter of fact the annual flu (epidemics not reported) kill vastly more people. Or more so, make vastly more people sick. We are talking millions. But that doesn't sell newspapers. Of course nobody wants to be ill but unfortunately we live on a planet together with a vast number of viruses , microbes and bacteria. As I have said before, if we reduce the number of species on the planet, the remainder have no choice but to look for alternative hosts. The one most prolific happens to be us, humans. I think it would be fair to say that we can look forward to many such occurrences in the future. I am surprised that we have not heard the ultra-left loonies say it is the fault of those dastardly Tories and Boris in particular. Let’s not hold our breath they might just be a bit late. Probably drunk and couldn’t get up early enough.

The various clubs and other venues where drink (alcohol mostly) is on sale do a roaring trade. With a pint about £3.00 they roll out of the clubs and pubs high on 10 pints, plus the little smoke in the toilets and if you can still walk, the cocaine is freely available.
That might have something to do with the life expectancy perhaps? But I am a uneducated twiddler who doesn’t know anything about those things. I would however agree with those who say that our working arrangements are not brilliant. Zero hour contracts should be banned. Drink taxed more than double it is today. A strict limit on buying alcohol, in pubs and clubs you should be able to buy tickets, no more than four and these can be interchanged for a drink.
An indelible mark on the hand will prohibit the purchase of more tickets. Well, just an idea.

One last opinion – does anyone think self-isolation will work? Didn’t think so! So, I am just waiting for those who have been to Italy and Spain and possibly the Middle-East to come back to the Rhondda. I'll see 'm in the club then and shake their hands for having escaped. Don't call me for the next 4 weeks, I'll be in bed.

Edit 23/3/2020
A couple of weeks later now and the virus is becoming rampant. A lot to do with the population's unwillingness or incapability to do the correct thing(s). Hopefully self-isolation coupled with the measures now forced upon us by the government will at least stem the ever steeper curve of infections and deaths.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Solar panels and all....

Just bought myself a smart tablet like thingie called a solar panel! About 13 inches by 9 inches it charges up at 2.4 Amp and at 12 volts. It is basically a battery charger for vehicles, like my diesel car. Oh yes, I have a diesel but one with a host of filters. But in this inclement weather the battery goes down a bit too fast. So, looking at various websites I noticed solar chargers and wondered if there was one for cars. Yes, there are! 3 types at 3 different amps. I simply put the cable in the cigarette thingymajick (the cigarette lighter holder) and it charges the battery up for free. Even if there is no direct sunlight! When not driving I just put it on the dash and leave it all day. There is one proviso, the cigarette lighter will have to be ‘live’ even if the engine is switched off. If your car is not of that type the equipment comes with cables that clip to the battery. Or you can buy (about £10) a special cable.
It made me think though if such a small thing can do that (and it works!) how about much bigger ones? Put them on the roof of the shed. Charge up batteries and change your house lights to 12 volt ones. Free illumination. It means a bit of work but well worth it. You can even buy solar mats. Flexible so these can go onto almost any surface. This summer I will have a look at that and cost it. Will let you know how I’ll fare! But this is just the top of the iceberg, if we all were prepared to spend a bit of money we could make quite an impact on the environment. OK we might have to climb onto the shed roof and if we cannot do that get the kids to do it and write a school report for their science class! In my local area they are now building houses and flats (two and three stories high) that as is said can be heated with just one candle. Interestingly, they probably have forgotten we need fresh air coming in as well. Humans breathe out a solid quantity of CO2 and water in every exhalation. Hopefully designers have not let that fall by the wayside.

Funny times we live in....

We live in a very funny world, don’t we? At least a very funny Britain that is. For years we are moaning about immigration, the price of petrol and diesel. Of not having enough planes to take us to Spain and complain about the stinking railways. Do the railway carriage toilets still have outlets to outside onto the track? Might be true! Anyway, complaining for twenty years or more and now a lot of us are complaining that the government is FINALLY doing something! We are going to have a points system for immigration. Brilliant. Not before time. Africans are chomping at the bit to get to Britain as fast as possible. And not just Africans either, most of Asia wants to come as well. Companies have benefited greatly from low-quality immigration. Driving down wages and having scant regard for safety and accommodation for their cheap labour. It might halt the awful state of affairs when hundreds of immigrants are cooped up in stinking hovels all over London and the Eastern agricultural fields.Then there are the reports that fuel (petrol/diesel) tax might be increased. Another GOOD idea! Why? Well, it will curtail some from driving helping the environment but mostly it will give money available to the government to pay for some of the promises, mainly the northern infrastructure, they made during the election. We desperately need to update the British infrastructure. So, in my view, for whatever it is worth, well done Boris. Carry on REGARDLESS of all the moaning liberal ultra lefties. At least we have started on the way to recovery. Now get our armed forces sorted out. Build up the navy, it will not do when Italy has more frigates than us! In a war even the Belgians would beat us. Bring the army back up to at least half a million, times are going to be tough in future. The RAF has newer jets so that will do for a while. Do not nationalise the railways but put proper management in place and simplify ticketing. Oh yes and if the Scottish virago opens her mouth again about independence, tell her there is a rock west of the Scottish coast called Rockall and we will pay for a fast boat. The ticket will be one way only.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

Trains, planes, and PC

As you will know by now, I have a continental background. I know about the differences between this country, Wales in particular and Germany as well as Holland and Belgium. I forgot to mention France, I admire France, the country is one of the most beautiful. However, forget its idea about how to govern, it’s a complete disaster. But take the different systems, like rail for instance. In this country we have one of the most expensive, unreliable disasters called trains. From being a world leader in the past to a laughable half-baked service that barely deserves the name ‘service’. A ticket from Cardiff to London will cost an arm and a leg, a distance of barely 180 miles. A ticket from Amsterdam to Paris will be £70 or thereabouts, double the distance. You might have a look at the Bundesbahn (Germany) where everyone sits down and the trains get you there on time. Obviously outside influences could scupper that but in the main it works! This is why I voted Conservative, along with thousands of other voters. Simply because we believed, believe still, that Boris will do what he said he will do and so far it looks good. I am not a Conservative, this is basically the first time I did so. Our politicians have for far too long taken their eyes off the ball! We have been spending an inordinate time on arguing about issues like ‘Are we gay? Should we be transgender? Can we say Black?’ Then the insidious actions of various MPs about expenses and money in general. Can we say the word corruption maybe? In any case, we are not well served and as Boris has indicated ‘It has to CHANGE’! 
All this has nothing to do with Brexit, it is just common sense. Governments are for the people not for themselves. It is about services. Services that will make our ordinary lives easier. We also should not take our eyes of the environment. It is imperative that we do make the hard decisions and stop moaning if they affect us. Buses, trains should be supported, electrification an absolute must. Almost all of the rail infrastructure in the countries I mentioned are electric. There are trams in the cities, electric buses becoming more and more widespread. Again also we need to remember we are not the only life on the planet, we need to plan bearing in mind that an elephant or a mouse, even a rat have the same call on here.
Hard decisions, hard work but that is called responsibility.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

Change the world? Start at the beginning...

I have begun to wonder whether I am a royalist. Frankly, yes I am. I prefer the royal family as figurehead of what is still a great country. We have problems, who hasn't but at least we have a calming influence - the royals. Until recently. It is not so calming now, the waves are rolling in. I am not sure though why we are singling out Andrew, the Duke of Northern climes (York in the vernacular). There are thousands of people all over the world who do worse. Sure it doesn't make it right. But let's be very honest, how culpable were the various ladies who are now coming out of the woodwork? I don't know about you but I would be hesitant to throw accusations about. Let's be fair too, Hollywood was a sin bin. A cesspit where hundreds or even thousands flocked to and were used as bed fodder in the hope of getting a part in some fourth rate film. Directors as was reported in several papers had couches in their offices just in case they had a headache. I have a headache three times a week. Impresarios as well they all had the same problem - girls hanging on every word they uttered.
But OK, it may be that the Duke had stars in his eyes as well, blinded by the glitz and glamour.
There is but one thing you can say to the ultra liberal lefties - get real about what goes on in the world. If you want to change it, start at the beginning and not have a big go at the end result!
And finally remember this - despite all rumours, innuendos and whatever else - you're not guilty until proven guilty.

Edit - 15/2/2020
Yes, I think the word 'royalist' needs a bit of further thought. Bearing in mind that the royals are just as human as we all are, they will suffer the same ills. So, it does not really seem plausible to point our collective fingers and slovenly drool over the daily newspapers. It just needs to be remembered. But I do think the royal family takes the whole thing of being 'royal' a bit too far. If you project yourself as standing on a pedestal, there will always be those who will take a potshot. It would be a lot better if the lesser family is 'demoted' to just Mr and Mrs and simply work for a living. No Dukes, Duchesses, Earls, Barons and equivalent female titles. No Lords, do away with 'privilege'. Wow, it is possibly heresy but this is 2020 after all!

A very dim projection of a possible future...

It is quite something to be able to speak, write and understand other languages. Something the Dutch are good at. Oh yes, and possibly the Belgians. Well, they were Dutch once. I do receive a number of Dutch language websites and one is Quora. It comes in English as well but the subjects written about are completely different. So, the Dutch site had a question which was well answered including a graphic representation. The question asked - What will happen with the world if the temperature increases by 5 degrees? The answer gave the graphic representation from a temperature increase of 4 degrees Celsius. Well, you will not be surprised to know as I have said before, Africa will be uninhabitable except for workers who maintain the solar panels! Only if that is still a possibility. It gets worse, Spain, most of France, the whole region all the way the China, all of the USA and all but a very small part of the southern Patagonia of South America will be very difficult to live in, if at all!
A big part of Antarctica will be suitable for growing crops. Well, there it is; goodbye to more than 70% of the land-area we live in today! Except for very high mountains on Pacific islands, most of Polynesia will have disappeared under water. The Japanese will be gone up Mount Fuji, one of the mountains sticking out of the sea. Lowland New-Guinea is now a complete underwater reef. 
Don’t you think us humans have done a brilliant job? And don’t think this will be reversed. We cannot do it. We could but we won’t stop using plastic, we won’t stop driving or flying, we will not stop having sex. Simple? Yes, it is very simple. Overpopulation is without doubt one of the major reasons we are in the position we find ourselves in. We will be the only species that ever lived who will have managed to virtually exterminate itself and everything else. We have used the planet as our own possession, to do whatever we wanted to do and get without thought for the repercussions. 
Pretty unambiguous isn’t it? Even if we curtail driving and flying, it will be too late. It will only delay the inevitable. Humans will survive, as they do today in the desert. There will be small groups clustered around oases. The habitable zones might support a few millions, so what we will see are wars to obtain the best living spaces left, water and food. Obviously I don’t think this will happen overnight, so think of the ever-increasing pressures. Africans will not stop trying to come to the north, because if they want to live they need, and must do so. What about 2 billion Chinese? Yeah, what about them? They too will have to move north or to the bit of Antarctica which will be habitable. And all that is supposing the oceans and seas will have recovered from the abominable plastic pollution we have hoisted onto it. The water itself would not worry, it is the billions of creatures who have ingested plastic. There you have it, a future look at a world which will get only just a bit warmer. Just 4 degrees but it is the last four nails in the collective coffin!

Edit 19/2/2020
Just one of the other things noticeable in the world is the occurrence of viruses. The latest one the Snake virus, the one in which two cruise ships have a 'nice' holiday, that is just a foretaste of what is to come. I am not a lugubrious, moaning. negative guy, I am talking sense. If I was a virus I would rejoice at 8 billion people living jowl by jowl! And in very challenging situations as well. Cairo alone, a hotbed of disease. Tokyo, more health conscious but still nearly 40 million people? Greater Tokyo is the most populous city in the world. But yes, us coughing and spluttering in the trams, buses, taxis, you name it, a virus will be the happiest thing around!
It might be OK this time, it will run a short course but even so, viruses mutate very fast!

Friday, 7 February 2020


As mentioned before, it seems that young people no longer have an idea about history. At least long term history. They might know that there was a war or two and some bombs were thrown but that probably is as far as it goes. When you look at politician's influence in education generally, you will see a woeful picture. There is just an insistence on increasing results probably because that makes politicians look they are doing something but nothing else. It all is just talk. In Wales we have an august body called 'Estyn' only God knows how it operates but apparently they 'judge' performance. You might ask whose performance? Teachers, the good, the bad and the ugly, are in the forefront and yes some are not particularly good. As a father of a secondary Head of Science, from what I hear the performance of headmasters needs urgently looking at. You hear about heads who are mere cookery teachers, have a degree in home economics, or if you have a reasonable one, he or she might have a degree in History. There you have it, that is one reason why young people know zilch about who Stalin was and what he did, or how Peter the Great came to Europe to see the naval organisations so he could build up Russia's navy. But they can boil an egg. I am an avid watcher of some question and answer programmes, like 'Pointless', no it is not pointless only in that the game is to score as few points as you can. But it shows the deplorable standards of education in quite a lot of people. General knowledge, however trivial it might be, is completely absent. 'What is the capital of Belgium'? Belgium? Where is that? Isn't that an element?'. Etc etc etc.
But as a result when you talk to young people on the doorstep, in particular at election time and they want to know who you will vote for and I say the opposite to the party they represent, we get into a how and why. Then it becomes quickly apparent that they have little idea of political failures, broken promises and above all national economics. They merely point out the good old mantra of all socialists, we help people. Yes, to an early grave. Be that as it may, the lack of history, in particular recent history of the last 50 or so years, is a worrying failure of all political parties. We have had failure after failure, and from my standpoint it was mostly attributable to not having learned from the failures that history presented us with. Politicians make the same mistakes time and time again. Question then is - What do our Universities and schools  teach? Well, don't wake up people, drown your sorrows in French cognac before the borders close.  

Thursday, 6 February 2020

To be electric or not to be

Ah yes, I remembered I wrote a line about political ideas some time ago, you know the ones, a quick line in a newspaper about some important subject. A subject like ‘How to reduce carbon dioxide in the atmosphere’. And lo and behold the Conservatives have come up with a beauty.

The government has decided or intends to decide (You never know what is true and what is not, nowadays) to ban the sale of petrol and diesel powered cars. Great, we all agree. Or do we? Let’s think what it would entail. First of all the people employed in the manufacture of engines and their hundreds of parts. Secondly, the infrastructure needed to service electric vehicles. Battery capabilities. Even more, how to power up the batteries. I am living in an area of Wales where there are possibly no more than 10 charging stations. Ikea in Cardiff is the only one I know with two, yes TWO charging points. Possibly a few more at the motorway service stations, but I haven’t seen them. However, if we are all now required to drive electric cars by 2035, yes in fifteen years; we can safely state, work to the infrastructure is already too late! There would have to be thousands if not millions of charging points, at home and at places of employment. Cables sneaking over pavements because most people have to park in the main roads outside their houses. And how are we to deal with multiple car ownership? Also following, is the question of our electricity generating capability enough to cope with 20 or more million cars all charging at the same time?
Ah yes, I know I am asking stupid questions, but perhaps it is yet again time to point out, DO NOT OPEN MOUTH BEFORE ENGAGING BRAIN, please. 
Of course it is a good idea, but it is no more than that, the reality is a heck of a lot different. I think it is time to start seriously working at workable ideas. Yes, it would mean we might have to give up things we have become used to. Driving cars can no longer be commonplace. We might need permits to drive at certain times. This could mean car sharing going to work. Cars will have to be reduced in size, both in body and engine power. Choice will have to be curtailed for everyone, rich or poor. Flying will also have to be curtailed heavily. If you do not believe me, have a look at a website like – – and see how many planes are in the sky 24-7! I have heard that most are not even full. So, it will probably mean curtailing commercialism or dismantling society as we know it and start again. Wow, some prospect that would be.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Where's the earthquake then?

What a disappointment! So, yesterday 31 January 2020 I was waiting for the inevitable ‘aardbeving’ or in English ‘earthquake’ or even in Welsh ‘daeargryn’. I am still waiting. No flashes in the sky, in fact at 23.00 hrs it was pretty quiet in town. Nothing stirred. What am I talking about? I am talking about the UK having left the EU (European Union). Oh yes, we are cast adrift, the island that comprises three distinct groupings, England, Wales and Scotland will now float away at the mercy of the wild waves of the Atlantic Ocean. We are the new Atlantis. But will we sink under the ‘woelige baren’? The wild waves? No Siree, we will not! In fact, I believe this is the very beginning of the collapse of the idea to make a superstate like the US of A! It will not be long before other countries begin to look at how the situation now developing will ’pan’ out. France is on tenterhooks, it has plenty on social unrest, high unemployment, high prices for household commodities. It is a wonderful country France is, except for the French as they say. I am an avid watcher of a TV prog called ‘Escape to the Chateau’. In that a past British lieutenant-colonel Richard ‘Dick’ Strawbridge and family bought a derelict chateau somewhere in the Loire district. Sometime about five years ago and now busily decorating and repairing the whole edifice including moat. It turns out that quite a number of British couples are buying up these derelict castles. So, yes sorry Frenchies, we are buying up France and there will be a great place for you to move to, Scotland! Just joking. But as you will note reader friends, a bit of dare, money and a plucky attitude you can renovate anything if you like it enough. Why leave a history such as French history and leave these edifices to rot away? Yes, they are costly to main, ask ‘Dick’. In fact this argument will resound in almost every country on this planet. We should be proud of our collective history, learn from past mistakes. Anyway, we left the EU now, so Monsieur Dick will have a problem. To become a French national or a difficult Brit not really wanted. But you know, money talks and his and his family’s business operating out of the castle is already quite a money spinner benefitting local businesses. Yes, that is the old British shopkeepers attitude!

In the meantime, we will have a year, probably more, to negotiate the proper deal. We have left but we still do not know the details. Let’s get on with it and do a deal which will fit all sides.
I’ll drink to that! Yep, French cognac, that’s my baby!