Sunday, 27 September 2020

Extinction event, again?


It is rather strange that everyone I talk to (corona virus rules abided by) says the national lock-down benefitted nature, birds have been singing quieter as there were very few cars on the road, no planes in the sky except for some cargo ones and cleaner air. But now everyone is talking about getting back to ‘normal’! Whatever normal really means. I take it to be taking the car for shopping even to the shop a few metres away, to take Spanish holidays for a drink or twenty on the beach and a fumble if you can remember what your equipment is for, just for a start. There is a saying in the Dutch language ‘Na mij de zondvloed’. Freely translated ‘After me, the deluge’. But what is the meaning? Simply this ‘Do whatever I want, devil may care’. It is attributed to Madame de Pompadour, the lover of King Louis XV of France.

The meaning is quite clear, I am OK, you can worry about it when I’m gone. I do what I want to do, thank you and goodbye. Or words to that effect.

This ‘devil-may-care’ attitude was shown beautifully on a window placard ‘We need help, we need beer’ shown on a university campus (BBC News report). You may wonder about the standard of today’s students. You might now begin to believe that the human race is pretty well doomed. I am not joking, just observing the trends. Watching an excellent programme on Freesat Channel 175 (Smithsonian) about the extinctions that have occurred on the planet and the reasons for these happening you would have picked up that carbon-dioxide and sulphuric acid rain were the main culprits. The Permian one (250+ million years ago) was possibly caused by enormous volcanic activity in Siberia. The Cretaceous one that killed off the dinosaurs around 66 million years ago had similar results but was caused by an enormous asteroid impact in today’s Mexico. The programme finished by stating that the rise today in the levels of carbon-dioxide due to human activity is beginning to look like another extinction event. 

The problem with the gas is that it ‘binds’ oxygen which then becomes unusable for breathing. As a result CO2 is poisonous to human beings. However it is needed by plant growth, trees and such. Another rising gas level is that of nitrous oxide. The internal combustion engines and jet engines produce this gas, it now makes up some 8% of greenhouse gas emission. Compared with 86% for CO2 is seems tiny but overall it makes a severe impact. Methane as well, produced by cattle and rotting vegetation brings some 10% to the greenhouse gas emissions. Not a pretty picture then and surely it is most important to start looking at ways to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases coupled with how we can and should work with nature to bring a proper balance that will benefit all life. Rather than thinking it will be for others to do, just bring me beer!

Saturday, 26 September 2020

A nice new app to check for a virus?

 What does anyone think about the NHS’ attempt to trace people that have been in contact or the neighbourhood with Covid-19? This is the much hyped app now promoted heavily in newspapers and about everywhere else. Sounds good? In principle – yes. Anything that helps combating a virus must be good. But as with so many other things to the good side there is a possible bad side. The app apparently works with Bluetooth. I don’t want to be the bad guy here but Bluetooth is NOT a particularly safe bit of technology. It basically works with a signal that can be picked up with comparable equipment like other mobile phones. I use Bluetooth to enable my mobile to work with an electronic church organ playing hymns from a list stored on the phone. It works great. Afterwards I switch off Bluetooth as the signal could be picked up by other phones. Just like this Covid app works. Because for the Covid app to be effective the Bluetooth signal has to be on at all times. Anyone with the right scanning equipment can then interfere with the phone. Now this will all be denied, no, it will not do this or that and so on and on but the facts are that Bluetooth works with a signal that is detectable. That’s how it works and that is how this app will have to work. So, will I use this app? Please guess?

Tuesday, 22 September 2020

More Whitty doom, die,die,die!

Blimey Dr Doom (aka Prof Whitty) and a sidekick Sir Patrick were at it again last night. We are all going to die, die, die. Covid will get us all, 50,000 infections a day. The world will explode. Fish too will get it. Don’t get stung by a wasp people, you will get the virus and turn into a queen bee.

It is about time we are having to really look at this. First of all get rid of these advisers. I have said before, advisers to government, in fact all advisers, only have one track, their own. If Dr Doom gets out of bed on the wrong foot, we are all going to die, die, die! By the look on his face he might be already dead. He's not a zombie, is he? 

I have to say there are other programs I have seen that sound a more realistic note. Something of the order of that the virus is here to stay for the long run. That there is really no point in locking down everything because yes, it will slow the transmission but the virus is just still around. Like flu it will adapt, it will mutate. So, the answer is multi-varied. First of all, it is just to take care. Don’t meet people at the drop of a hat. Keep some distance. Wash your hands often. Use a handkerchief or preferable, use tissues. Dispose of properly. Personal hygiene is pretty important, even in more normal times. Then if you want to go out to a pub don’t all huddle together like a herd of buffalo. Keep some distance, sit down if at all possible. Same for restaurants. The thing is that one way or another we have to acquire resistance, herd immunity is impossible as the virus will change like flu. So, development of a vaccine will need to be done, perhaps every year. 

All in all, we will have to learn to live with this virus, and possibly others in the future. But what will not help is to lock-down everything as soon as the infection rate goes up, and it will go up, it is inevitable. So, government people get your thinking caps on and get something done that makes sense. Stop listening to doomsday advisers and get some sound strategy going.Most of all take this opportunity to have a good look at how society needs to change because as said this disease is not going anytime soon and possibly more to come in the future. It seems we are leaving ourselves open because of lifestyles, the way we use the planet. This is a good time to look at it and make some plans. Perhaps someone like Boris might ask Dr Doom to begin to think!

Edit 27/9/2020

In one of my more lucid moments and in hindsight I must give some, if not a lot, of credit to Dr Doom (Dr Whitty). Why? Because basically I have been on the same track! He is talking about the impact of the corona virus on behalf of a government that has no clue what needs to be done and me talking about the impact of human beings on the planet. Funny though it may be, these are intertwined really. OK, so the good Doctor does not really get on with the good looks but at least he needs listening to. Because as he indicates (if you are listening properly) if we do not abide by simple rules the punishment is a possible swipe from the virus. In other words we might be ill or worse, die.

So I think I should put the record straight because he is right.

Monday, 21 September 2020

Whitty(less) comparisons...


There is a lot of talk about Sweden and their approach to the Covid calamity. As a matter of fact over there they seem to have just said 'Covid? What Covid'. Well, that might be a bit flippant but yes, they have taken a softly, softly approach. But it is all very well to compare ourselves with Sweden and with their approach to lockdown.

Their population numbers just below 11 million! With our 66 million strong pretty overcrowded nation we stand a far greater chance to spread a virus, any virus, far more quickly than ice-cold Sweden would. Besides the country is mostly trees. From that 11 million most live in the southern part, the rest is virtually empty. So, it makes one think whether we are on the right track with these comparisons and scare tactics of the likes of prof. Whitty. If this virus is not going to go away, in fact like flu will stay as an unwelcome guest forever, we should get working fast and produce the vaccines needed. Never mind the political messages about which country has the only working one, let's do it properly.

Friday, 18 September 2020

How can we stop the clock?

It is quite remarkable but that most people still have not gathered that life as we knew it has basically finished. To me it seems that a line has been crossed. That is to say, humans have outlived their welcome. Sounds a bit on the dark side isn’t it? But just look around at what is happening. Our nest fouling continues unabated, despite some minor alterations like producing more natural electrical power and reducing plastic bags for use in the weekly shopping, plastic is still the scourge of our seas and oceans.

Our western lifestyles also, thousands of people huddled together in poorly maintained cities, working 24/7 and we are amazed that a simple disease like Covid has had such an impact?

Humans have had and still are making such an impact on the natural environment no other animal ever did or even managed to get close to. Looking at populations generally it shows that when a certain number has been reached the available food gets less and that will weaken the population of the animal resulting in disease and collapse of the genus. This might not yet be the standard at which humans have arrived but we certainly are close to it.

It is somewhat laughable to read and see the contortions of us trying to get back to what we term ‘normal’. Normal life that is to say, driving billions of cars belching out the very gases that in the end will kill us all. Flying to far flung lands just to sit on a bit of sand, drinking enough alcohol to forget why we are there in the first place but not forgetting our basest instincts. Even to the point it is performed in public. Sun, sand, sea and sex but not necessarily in that order. Building over ever more arable land to house those that are escaping the sun baked waste lands to the south.

Indeed, life has changed. The clock has reached 5 seconds before midnight. The question is can we stop the clock?

Edited: same day

And now to make matters more interesting we are on a lockdown – again. It seems there are still people who do not care a sh*t. Having a nice time when others cannot even get out of the house. Why is the government trying so hard to please everyone? You cannot, it can never work, you cannot please everyone. If you want to get rid of this crummy virus and that seems impossible then we will have to get used to much more stringent measures. Watch this!

Edited:  20/9/20

The TV report programme 'Countryfile' had an interesting bit about diseases. Moreover diseases that could jump over from animals to humans. Not mentioned in a medical way but as part of the reduction of testing centres in the UK. Diseases like BSE, Bovid TB and others like Covid, swine flu etc that also can target humans are becoming more prevalent. BSE has again reared its ugly head in Scotland and presumably in other places as well. The facts are simple as I have mentioned before, if you give a disease the opportunity to spread and resistance is low or worse the disease itself has become immune to antibiotics or such then we will be in the front of the firing line. As Covid-19 has shown.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Is the BBC wasting your licence money? No, really?


According to the daily newspaper(s) the BBC has re-instated the licence fee for the over-75’s and today it was revealed how much the ‘stars’ receive in salaries. It is quite astounding to learn they have had increases in many cases. So, let’s get a bit real here. Take Zoe Ball. Who is she? A lady with a mouth. Not particularly a classic beauty but OK. She now will earn nearly 1million pounds net. But for what? For being a mediocre Radio 2 host/DJ. Good Lord no wonder the over-75’s have to pay up. On top of all that it is not a particularly good Radio show either. Then we have Graham Norton, not a bad sort of guy, he thinks he is a bit of a comedian mind but there you go, earns also close to a million. There are more just read today’s Sun newspaper. Frankly I despair, working out the wage bill of the BBC which is nearly impossible but I think it has to be close to a billion! Gary Lineker, you would not believe this, earns close to £2million! Yes, for an hour once a week! That’s about £39,000 per hour. I am sure he makes the taxman pretty happy. But this is ludicrous? That sort of stuff he talks you can hear in my local pub for free! Get real BBC and re-instate the free licences for the over-75’s pronto! And have a look at your pay centre BBC, there must be something wrong with your computers.

Is our youth concerned? Hmmm...

It is funny really when you read the UK newspapers. Most have a responsible political view but some seem to be more concerned with how well one performs in bed. Or have an excessive view on the young people. In the Sun newspaper you get the idea that the youngsters are only interested in getting drunk as quick as possible or are dance mad. Well, yes I like a party too but that tends to be sitting on a sofa, talking about the latest Covid spike whilst holding a glass of lukewarm lager. I can’t stand ale believing it to be akin to liquid emanations from horses. Even so there are some pressing world problems that need solving quickly, very quickly. One of them is the human pressures on nature, wildlife in particular. You don’t have to be a beer-bellied pub crawler with a brain the size of an ant to know that wildlife in the UKand the world is under severe pressure due to housebuilding, traffic and general human interferences. There are plenty reports to show what’s going on but does the general population, in particular our young people, care? I’m not so sure. Most of us are just about concerned with the weekly groceries and how to get to work in the car as quickly as possible. It is simple people, there are too many humans. There are people who believe all this is the result of the Chinese being guilty of trying to curtail the number of humans on the planet. There was no accident, this Covid is all just engineered and ‘accidentally’ released. Oei, oh dear that might put the cat amongst the pigeons. Just wondering what good ‘ol American pres thinks about it. Whatever, but the problem is still around. Just in the UK there are over 66million people, you can work out how that equates with the number of persons per square mile. You’ll be astounded. Bearing in mind also that humans do not really live equally over the land. Therefore there are areas grossly over-populated and others are just hosting sheep. We need to re-think our raison-de-être, and that pretty quickly. So, less getting plastered young people and start thinking about how you want to live with nature uppermost in mind. The world, come what may, will be yours in twenty years time. You might hopefully make a better job of it than the 'oldies' of today have done.

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

How to multiply? Make your mind up...

From an educational point of view I have wondered many times why so-called ‘experts’ keep changing either the curriculum or ways of working. For instance in my time multiplications were simple, you put the multiplicand up top and the multiplier below. Like this: 1234x64. Simple? 
Of course it is. Working from right to left, take 4x4=16, put the 6 under the last column and remember the 1 to carried over. Next multiply 4 by 3=12, put the 2 to the left of the 6 but there was a carry so 2 becomes 3. Next, multiply 4 by 2=8, put the 9 left of the 3, (don’t forget there was a carry (1)). Next multiply 4 by 1=4. Put the 4 to the left of the 9. So now the first row shows 4936. Do the same for the next row, but before that as you are working in the order of tens (10) you have to put a zero under the 6 first of all. Then 6x4=24 put the 4 under the 3 and carry 2. Now 6x3=18 plus the carry is 20 put the zero under the 9 and carry is again 2. Now 6x2=12 plus carry of 2=14 put the 4 under the 4 and carry is 1. Lastly 6x1=6 plus carry=7. Put the 7. 
So the answer is after adding up: 4,936+74,040=  78,976.

 Obviously you will have to know your tables. Fortunately some schools still teach them. Try it. 
But now there is a wonderful method called Napier. Multiplying a two-digit number with another two-digit number would require a 2 by 2 by grid if you wanted to multiply 26 x 15 or a 3 by 2 grid if you wanted to use 658 x 46. 
So a 2x2 grid is simply 4 boxes - 2 under another 2. The second step is to draw a diagonal in each box from top-right to bottom-left. The diagonal line separates the tens and the units. Always write the tens above the diagonal line in each box. Now by multiplying 26x15 you would start with the tens values so 2x1, you would put a zero in the top left box upper diagonal and a 2 in the same box bottom diagonal. You have to put a zero because there are no tens values to carry by multiplying 2x1. Now multiply 6x1 to fill the right top box. That would be 6 so a 0 in the top right box upper diagonal ( no tens value) and a 6 in the bottom diagonal. Now do the same way to fill the bottom boxes. That would be 2x5 and 6x5. After you have completed the grid, add the columns along the diagonals, starting at the bottom-right diagonal. You might have to carry over a value if over ten, from one diagonal to the next. So you start with 0 then 0+3+6 =9 and lastly 1+2+0=3, and the last diagonal is a zero, so can be dismissed. Therefore the answer is 390. Interesting method but in my opinion slow and easy to make mistakes if you get the sequence wrong. But to be fair it works. For me multiplication is knowing your tables. Not forgetting 'carries' and working from right to left as shown in the first example.  

Covid yet again a thorn in our sides...

Well, the government is coming up yet with another rule - you must wear a mask in every shop you visit. Sounds easy isn't it? Yet in my local area and the shop next door no-one wore a mask. And as of this morning getting my newspapers some still did not and a marshal was as elusive as the Yeti in the Himalayas. Obviously the rule came first and then everyone will start thinking about how it has to be enforced. Besides all of that would you want to be a marshal, a local one? I don’t. I can hear it now, this bl**dy idiot fined me £1000 I’m going get him. Watch me! 

It should be quite obvious by now that rules are made up on the hoof. In one way I can understand it because it is not just about getting the virus, it is the results to jobs and the economy. So I suppose it was always going to be like walking a tightrope. But even so one should expecta government to know what it is doing, and that with one mind. Not hear a dozen or so different opinions on what needs to be done and the loudest voice wins. So Boris get a grip and start wearing the iron gloves.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Where are the aliens?


The question and Answer software called ‘Quora’ had some quite interesting debate about aliens. I am bowled over by how many, and some are quite educated, believe in aliens. Particularly that they have been here and not just that, are still here and doing great intelligent things like making crop circles. I have to be honest here and say that yes there are aliens except we will never see or hear them. As probability will tell you that with trillions of galaxies, having billions of stars the likelihood of other life is near to 100%. The problem is that life such as ours on Earth needs to move but in such a way as is possible on Earth. That is to say, a gravity of 1, oxygen to breathe and food of a kind that is digestible. The next thing to consider is movement, meaning star travel. It is pretty clear that life such as on Earth is not really around in our solar system. We might find some microbes but that’s about it. The distances between the star systems even in our local space area, are so vast and would take hundreds of years to get somewhere. There is no return. Even contact via radio, laser or whatever radiological type will be hampered by these distances. Besides we, humanity that is, have only sent out signals since about the latter part of the 19th century. These signals have not travelled far yet. So any 'local' aliens have not heard of us yet. Then again someone will say, what about alien visits because they probably have technology far in advance of ours. Humanity is not very advanced on the scale of intelligent life. But forgetting that, why would an alien super techno race visit us? Literally no reason at all, we have absolutely nothing to excite such super beings. The only thing I could comprehend they would need to replenish is ‘water’. Yes, water because all life seems to need that first and foremost. So, there you go, no aliens, no visits, we are alone in our solar system. But keep looking, at least there is some employment for Prof Brian Cox.

Wednesday, 2 September 2020

It is a funny world...


Whatever you might think about the Covid virus scourge. It is not that it is a particularly deadly one, except if we are weak and have underlying medical problems. As a result most young people and that is those between 20 and 35, think that they are not bothered. Have a song and a dance, take some drug or other, chat unintelligible words, have a swig of one or two alcoholic drinks. Yes, it is a great time. Except grandma and grandpa are either dead or dying or in the best scenario lay in a hospital bed trying to catch their breath. It is a funny world. Then we have a brilliant government with their finger on the pulse, knowing exactly what needs to be done. We don’t hear or see the PM unless we read something in the national newspapers about what he said. And what he says is mostly ’Get the kids to school’.

He hailed Britain’s big return to work and school. Ah well, he had to say something, wouldn’t you say? Then poor Rishi is turning over in bed during all these sleepless nights thinking up solutions about how to pay back two trillion pounds of debt. Anyone thought how much interest we pay on that debt? Yep, at 1% that would be £20billion annually, wasted money. Only making the bankers and investors richer. I am assuming of course that the interest is lower, at least I hope so! But the annual interest is quite a whopping amount. Even at 0.1% it would still be billions.

There is a lot of rumbling in the papers about increasing taxes. 5p a litre on petrol, more on diesel, then 9% NIC for the self-employed to be 12%, and I think VAT might rise to 24%. But I say this, how do you think these extraordinary costs that we have incurred thanks to Covid are going to be repaid? Have a guess! Yes, you Tom, your neighbour Dick and me, Harry.

In the meantime the richer echelon in our great (!) Britain are getting richer and government including local government fat-cats stay fat. As I said, it is a funny world.