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A helpful Finnish instructional video from 1979

Dear all,

As we wind down for Christmas, it is important to ensure that we keep ourselves safe, and I have found this wonderful but short instructional video, purportedly from Finland c. 1979, helpfully showing how to open a door correctly. I would recommend turning on the English subtitles for most of us, but other subtitles are available for those of us unable to understand the wonderful Finnish language.

I have a nagging feeling that this might have been a parody of ‘health and safety’ instructional videos, but if that was its aim, it has failed miserably to stem the tide.

The Queen indirectly honours Dr Shipman

HM The Queen today presented the George Cross, the UK’s highest award for bravery not in the face of the enemy, to the National Health Service, (for the response to the covid pandemic etc.), surely making the NHS Eisenstein’s ‘mass hero’ of our age. This is the third ‘collective’ award (one not to a real person – living or dead) in the history of this medal, founded by her father in 1940; the other recipients being the island of Malta for the bravery of the populace in what seems to me to have been ‘in the face of the enemy‘ as being bombed for years by the Regia Aeronautica and Luftwaffe wasn’t just that, what was it?; and the other was the Royal Ulster Constabulary, which was scrapped and given the George Cross as a consolation. However, one of the Palace bureaucrats celebrating the award is quoted as below:
Lt Col Michael Vernon, comptroller of the Lord Chamberlain’s office with responsibility for organising ceremonial events, said: “This award recognises all NHS staff, past and present, across all disciplines and all four nations.
So being snarky, that includes perhaps the most prolific individual murderer in British history, Dr Harold Shipman, a GP fond of polishing off his elderly patients, for free. And of course, this gushing tribute necessarily covers former nurse and convicted murderer Beverley Allitt, who also did not charge her victims. But of course, there have been systemic issues, like the Mid-Staffordshire Hospital scandal. But looking at it in the balance, it seems that the NHS deserves its honour, despite being a bureaucratic abstraction, and an expensive and ineffective one at that. I seem to recall the Army being drafted in during the coronavirus pandemic to (give the impression that the government could) do something about the appalling logistics in the NHS. And now the token medal is going on tour, a holy relic, as if a modern-day equivalent to the bones of a saint:
NHS England chief executive Amanda Pritchard paid tribute to those who worked on the front line and said the vaccine programme saved hundreds of thousands of lives. She told the Queen that the medal will go on a tour of the NHS before a permanent home is found.
Is it heresy to say that honours don’t really exist? That an honour is just a piece of cloth and metal, with a document relating to it? That veneration of medals is simply absurd, it is simply reflective of the opinion of a committee, the absurdity of it made evident here for all to see. And, if you are to think of honours, not deeds, as somehow noteworthy, let us not forget that the first time that the Queen awarded a George Cross, it was to the widow of Flight-Lieutenant John Quinton, who gave away his only parachute after a mid-air collision. If you wish to measure the decline of this nation under (but not, I say, due to) Elizabeth II of England, I of Scotland, compare the two awards and all that happened in-between. Can we please stop pretending that the State can make things not what they really are?

Turkey – circling the drain with a gold grab

Little noticed in the UK media, reports from a financial vlogger Joe Blogs (that is his handle) on Turkey tells us that the government is ‘asking’ citizens to hand over their gold and foreign currency, at a time of 50% inflation, but citizens will get Lira in return.  There are 30,000 gold shops in Turkey and five major refineries. Do not worry that Erdogan is a (not so) covert Islamist, he is first and foremost a Keynesian.

The Turkish government is not simply standing by and watching as the Lira inflates away, the government has cut tax on food from 8% to 1%, and this in the context of a currency crisis, the lira falling 44% in 2021 against foreign currencies. So they know that cutting taxes eases burdens on people. Unfortunately, Atatürk’s doctrine of ‘statism‘ lingers, with lots of Turks employed by the State.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Finance Minister has been in the UK and reported had a ‘fantastic‘ meeting with potential investors. And the goverment is determined to keep on down this path, telling the private banks to step up their efforts to help by handing over foreign currency deposits. (Doubtless this is all voluntary).

Here is a graph of recent Turkish inflation rates. Are we going to be seeing a ‘crack-up boom’ in real time any week now? Turkey is reportedly informally dollarising, with over 50% of transactions in Turkey in dollars (Why not the Euro?).

I can’t help thinking that in the UK, the government is looking at Turkey with envious eyes, dreaming of taking steps to inflate away what remains of our prosperity and to seize our assets.

And it is not all bad from the Turkish government, they have changed the name of the country in a re-branding exercise, changing it from ‘Turkey’ to ‘Türkiye’, apparently to avoid confusion with the bird of the same name.

Joe Blogs also has some interesting coverage on the Chinese property conglomerate Evergrande, and the efforts of a US Hedge Fund to take ownership of collateral in Hong Kong.

The future works, just as it is being stolen from us, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang is now real

The future of the flying car is finally arriving, a flying car, the AirCar, has completed a test flight between two airports in Slovakia, reports the BBC.

This wonderful development brought to us by Professor Stefan Klein (the article has a short video showing the car flying etc.) is not yet licensed to fly, and given the caution around aviation, such approval may be a long way off, but it is technically possible now, almost a century after the English Electric Wren which was seen as a rival to the emergent motor car. To think that within around 31 years, English Electric would build the Lightning is simply mind-boggling.

However, this fantastic development runs on a petrol engine, has an airborne range of c. 1,000 km (625 miles) and can cruise at 170km/h (c.106 mph), at 8,200 feet (pressurisation not an option at the moment it seems). Imagine the liberty of flight, in your garage, the horror of unrestricted travel, no speed cameras, the Left’s (and the State’s) hatred of mobility and autonomy will shine like the fiery pits of Hell.

Two passengers, provided that they don’t weigh more than 31 stone. Let physics limit your weight, not the government.

Dr Stephen Wright, senior research fellow in avionics and aircraft, at the University of the West of England, described the AirCar as “the lovechild of a Bugatti Veyron and a Cesna 172”.

but there is obviously a cautionary note:

“I have to admit that this looks really cool – but I’ve got a hundred questions about certification,” Dr Wright said.
“Anyone can make an aeroplane but the trick is making one that flies and flies and flies for the thick end of a million hours, with a person on board, without having an incident.
“I can’t wait to see the piece of paper that says this is safe to fly and safe to sell.”

With a 600 mile range, a self-fly/drive break on the Continent would be a breeze. Short-haul aviation is pointless in such a world, as are inflexible trains (HS2 etc.), even car hire. Bring it on.

NatWest hints at its own bankruptcy? Saying it might have to exit the stage in the Scottish play

The bank formerly known as RBS, now called NatWest Bank PLC, has announced that if Scotland votes to leave the UK, it will move to London

Britain’s NatWest would move its headquarters out of Scotland in the event of a vote in favour of independence, its CEO Alison Rose said, only days before parliamentary elections there. State-backed NatWest (NWG.L), which until last year was called Royal Bank of Scotland, has been based for 294 years in the Scottish capital Edinburgh.
The reason, something to do with a anti-business culture in an independent Scotland?
“In the event that there was independence for Scotland our balance sheet would be too big for an independent Scottish economy. And so we would move our registered headquarters, in the event of independence, to London,” Rose told reporters.
This is presumably not meant to be a threat from the majority (c.59%) State-owned bank or playing politics. For a bit of context, the RBS Group changed its name recently to NatWest Group plc with a view to (I presume) burying the RBS brand and plunging a stake through its heart after its unfortunate recent history. NatWest was an English bank acquired by RBS as it ballooned before bursting

I have no doubt that the Chief Executive did not say, and did not mean to say

our balance sheet would be too big for an independent Scottish economy if we go bust again.‘.

But the latter is what I am hearing. An implicit admission that the bank risks insolvency, and would expect to be bailed out by the UK government at taxpayers’ expense again. The assumption that the bank is at risk of bankruptcy runs through this announcement like letters in a stick of rock.

So England, Wales and Northern Ireland will be the lucky recipient of all these (theoretical) liabilities.

No true Scotsman should fear independence if it means the departure of this fiscal UXB and its liabilities, a chilly modern-day Darién scheme without the disease and bugs.

But why on Earth should anyone in any country want to receive such a cuckoo in the financial nest? It sounds to me that if the bank were utterly worthless, that would be an improvement. Do we need any more evidence of the perils of fractional reserve banking?

Judicial quotes of the year – Justice Neil Gorsuch

“…we may not shelter in place when the Constitution is under attack. Things never go well when we do.”

Justice Gorsuch in ROMAN CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF BROOKLYN, NEW YORK v. ANDREW M. CUOMO, GOVERNOR OF NEW YORK. The Supreme Court has injuncted pending trial Cuomo’s executive order restricting religious observance in New York, noting that although the original order had been changed since the proceedings started (a device to make the litigation moot), that actually made it more important, as a defence against arbitrary state power.

Now, just as this Court was preparing to act on their applications, the Governor loosened his restrictions, all while continuing to assert the power to tighten them again anytime as conditions warrant. So if we dismissed this case, nothing would prevent the Governor from reinstating the challenged restrictions tomorrow. And by the time a new challenge might work its way to us, he could just change them again. The Governor has fought this case at every step of the way. To turn away religious leaders bringing meritorious claims just because the Governor decided to hit the “off ” switch in the shadow of our review would be, in my view, just another sacrifice of fundamental rights in the name of judicial modesty.

The judgment of Gorsuch is full of robust language, such as:

It is time—past time—to make plain that, while the pandemic poses many grave challenges, there is no world in which the Constitution tolerates color-coded executive edicts that reopen liquor stores and bike shops but shutter churches, synagogues, and mosques.

Bear in mind that here, the Keep Britain Free judicial review was thrown out at the English High Court partly on the basis that by the time the court heard it, the restrictions had changed (whilst the power to impose them remained). This is now under (leisurely) appeal in the English Court of Appeal. How nice it would be to have an appellate court in the country that could produce such robust defences of liberty and the rule of law, e.g.

Even if the Constitution has taken a holiday during this pandemic, it cannot become a sabbatical.

And a splendid dig:

Even if judges may impose emergency restrictions on rights that some of them have found hiding in the Constitution’s penumbras, it does not follow that the same fate should befall the textually explicit right to religious exercise.

And this:

Nothing in Jacobson purported to address, let alone approve, such serious and long-lasting intrusions into settled constitutional rights. In fact, Jacobson explained that the challenged law survived only because it did not “contravene the Constitution of the United States” or “infringe any right granted or secured by that instrument.” Id., at 25.
Tellingly no Justice now disputes any of these points. Nor does any Justice seek to explain why anything other than our usual constitutional standards should apply during the current pandemic.

Whilst the United States Supreme Court is so constituted, there is hope for the Republic, even though this was a 5-4 victory. Meanwhile in the UK, any hope of help from the courts is a deranged fantasy. But the courts may serve a purpose in demonstrating that point.

MacAtlas shrugs

The well-known entrepreneur Mr Duncan Bannatyne has said – reports The Daily Telegraph – that he will never open another business in Scotland again. The Telegraph reports him thus:

The Scottish entrepreneur said he would “never again” open a business north of the Border, adding: “I don’t know if many people would.”

Further:

Mr Bannatyne said his health clubs in Scotland have enough funding to stay solvent until the end of August, as they are cross-subsidised by his English gyms, but he could not provide any guarantees for September.

His outspoken attack was echoed by the PureGym chain, which said it was “truly extraordinary” that the First Minister had “not ascribed any real priority to working with us and our sector” during the pandemic.

The article points out that Ms Sturgeon announced her latest review of her lockdown exit plan for Scotland, which will see bingo halls, casinos and funfairs reopen on Aug 24.

Snooker and pool halls, bowling alleys and driving lessons can also resume on that date, but indoor gyms and swimming pools were only provided with an “indicative” date of Sept 14.

So that’s a ‘maybe’ plan for re-opening.

Surely it isn’t a surprise to a businessman that a government doesn’t care about his enterprise? I can’t personally find a logical path to the suggestion in the article that the reason for the Scottish government’s indifference is something to do with independence:

He said: “It’s unbelievable. There has to be another agenda. I don’t believe she has advice saying stadiums and bowling alleys are safer than gyms.”

Asked about her “hidden agenda”, he said: “Independence is king. ‘We don’t care about anything as long as we get independence.'”

How about it is simple disdain for business, that you find in pretty much any socialist? After all, offices are closed too:

Business leaders also attacked her decision to push back the date of offices reopening until Sept 14 “at the earliest”, with the Scottish Chambers of Commerce (SCC) warning: “Further delays may result in permanent job losses and business closures.”

And frankly, given the antics of the UK government giving every impression of targeting ethnic minority areas for ‘local lockdowns‘, why would you open a business in any other part of the UK either?

The State’s lament: ‘A substantial number of people still do not feel sufficiently personally threatened;’

Thus went the UK government’s discussion paper on increasing social distancing on 22nd March 2020.

The perceived level of personal threat needs to be increased among those who are complacent, using hard-hitting emotional messaging. To be effective this must also empower people by making clear the actions they can take to reduce the threat.

There were other considerations:

Hong Kong’s experience:

Having a good understanding of the risk has been found to be positively associated with adoption of COVID-19 social distancing measures in Hong Kong

And carrots:

Incentivisation
6. Social approval: Social approval can be a powerful source of reward. Not only can this be provided directly by highlighting examples of good practice and providing strong social encouragement and approval in communications; members of the community can be encouraged to provide it to each other. This can have a beneficial spill-over effect of promoting social cohesion. Communication strategies should provide social approval for desired behaviours and promote social approval within the community.

And of course, coercion, along with ‘social disapproval’:

Coercion
7. Compulsion: Experience with UK enforcement legislation such as compulsory seat belt use suggests that, with adequate preparation, rapid change can be achieved (16). Some other countries have introduced mandatory self-isolation on a wide scale without evidence of major public unrest and a large majority of the UK’s population appear to be supportive of more coercive measures. For example, 64% adults in Great Britain said they would support putting London under a ‘lock down’ (17). However, data from Italy and South Korea suggest that for aggressive protective measures to be effective, special attention should be devoted to those population groups that are more at risk (18). In addition, communities need to be engaged to minimise risk of negative effects. Consideration should be given to enacting legislation, with community involvement, to compel key social distancing measures.

8. Social disapproval: Social disapproval from one’s community can play an important role in preventing anti-social behaviour or discouraging failure to enact pro-social behaviour (15). However, this needs to be carefully managed to avoid victimisation, scapegoating and misdirected criticism. It needs to be accompanied by clear messaging and promotion of strong collective identity. Consideration should be given to use of social disapproval but with a strong caveat around unwanted negative consequences.

So, for us rats in the lab, we can see the experimental parameters. I can’t find the words ‘rights‘, ‘freedom‘, ‘free‘ or ‘liberty‘ anywhere in this document. I can see this, my emphasis in bold, with the lie about people being ‘asked’:

9. Community resourcing: People are being asked to give up valued activities and access to resources for an extended period. These need to be compensated for by ensuring that people have access to opportunities for social contact and rewarding activities that can be undertaken in the home, and to resources such as food. Adequately resourced community infrastructure and mobilisation needs to be developed rapidly and with coverage across all communities (6, 15).

10. Reducing inequity: Adherence to these measures is likely to be undermined by perceived inequity in their impact on different sections of the population, especially those who are already disadvantaged, e.g. those in rented accommodation and those working in precarious employment. Reducing costs of phone calls, data downloads etc. by ‘responsibility deals’ or government subsidies should be considered.

Just in case you don’t think that this is an experiment, there is a reference to methodology including this, but read the whole thing:

The criteria go under the acronym, APEASE (Acceptability, Practicability, Effectiveness, Affordability, Spill-over effects, Equity)

Edit: Just after Paul’s comment, a bit more has just come out, from 25th February 2020, about the risk of disorder, foreseeing a risk of PPE shortage on 25th February 2020, so they knew that they could be short long before they did anything about it:
The last paragraph says it all:

Promote a sense of collectivism: All messaging should reinforce a sense of community, that “we are all in this together.” This will avoid increasing tensions between different groups (including between responding agencies and the public); promote social norms around behaviours; and lead to self-policing within communities around important behaviours.

The signs of the times, they are a-changing…

England may soon have new road signs for pedestrians. We have some new signs coming out, to remind us about ‘social distancing’. Here are the samples taken from the .gov.uk website.

What are these signs for? The UK government’s Department of Transport is clearly playing the long game in short order in the war on freedom and against the private motor vehicle, er.., Covid-19 in England. On Saturday 9th May 2020, guidance came out for local councils (who manage most of the road space) to make changes to road use to facilitate the use of ‘roadspace’ by cyclists and pedestrians. This has been done by providing new ‘guidance’ to local councils on under The Traffic Management Act 2004. So the response to this epidemic is clearly going to be rather more ‘permanent’ than temporary, the government is engaged in not just a reaction to widespread respiratory tract infections and the inability of the NHS to provide health care. Take a look at some of the wording:

“The government therefore expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians. Such changes will help embed altered behaviours and demonstrate the positive effects of active travel.”

“When the country gets back to work, we need them to carry on cycling, and to be joined by millions more. With public transport capacity reduced, the roads in our largest cities, in particular, may not be able to cope without it. We also know that in the new world, pedestrians will need more space. Indications are that there is a significant link between COVID-19 recovery and fitness. Active travel can help us become more resilient.”

A new world, are we on Mars? It goes on:

“We recognise this moment for what it is: a once in a generation opportunity to deliver a lasting transformative change in how we make short journeys in our towns and cities. According to the National Travel Survey, in 2017-18 over 40% of urban journeys were under 2 miles – perfectly suited to walking and cycling.”

Never let a crisis go to waste.

“Active travel is affordable, delivers significant health benefits, has been shown to improve wellbeing, mitigates congestion, improves air quality and has no carbon emissions at the point of use. Towns and cities based around active travel will have happier and healthier citizens as well as lasting local economic benefits.”

Will those citizens be happier and healthier cycling to work in the cold November rain? Sorry, I assumed that there will be any meaningful jobs left by then. Why haven’t they been cycling already? ‘…no carbon emissions at the point of use…’, really? I think it means ‘carbon dioxide’ of course. But if anyone rides a pushbike and doesn’t emit carbon dioxide, whether immediately or via lactic acid metabolism, they will be dead.‘…lasting local economic benefits…’: Never mind the bigger picture. The bull is big on this and they know it and don’t care.

So all this is what the Secretary of State for Transport, Mr Grant Shapps, a sort of Bruce Foxton lookalike, has in mind. He seems to be there to make the rest of the Cabinet look good, and who has a very trustworthy past.

Is, in this ‘new world’, (their words) HS2 going to be viable as this virus will still be deemed a threat in 2030 or whenever it is ready, and the train will be ‘socially-distanced’? Don’t hold your breath, unless you want to reduce carbon emissions.

Whatever the UK Prime Minister says tonight, the UK government is clearly using this situation as an opportunity to regulate ever more closely every aspect of our lives. This is Mr Johnson’s green agenda bursting out into the open, the Khmer Vert with Covid-1984.

Identifying the socially-undistanced elements…

I read (iirc in one of Viktor Suvorov’s books) that in the Ukraine of the 1930s, a peasant who was not starving and thin automatically came under suspicion of food hoarding. Whereas, in besieged WW2 Leningrad, the populace were starving, and I read somewhere that there was a sub-stratum of the population who had unusually rosy cheeks and an almost healthy glow compared to their starving fellow citizens, they were not under suspicion by the Party. These were not privileged Party members, but cannibals, who had resorted to devouring the abundant supplies of human flesh.

Grim as that was, and we are nowhere near anything like that yet, I can’t help but noticing that the impact of the CCP-Covid-19-Terror is beginning to show in people. This is a country where, whilst not illegal per se, getting a haircut other than from a member of your household (and how many live alone or with those unable to help) necessarily involves leaving your home (or someone else leaving there’s) without ‘reasonable excuse’ under the (not quite limited) excuses, so if your hair is now neat and short, or dyed or coloured in your usual fashion for those so inclined, you might come under suspicion of having failed to have followed ‘social distancing rules’ or having patronised a business operating illegally. Will we see a ‘haircut hotline’ open up for us to denounce a neighbour whose thatch is well-trimmed?

Will we have Ministers of the Crown denouncing professional haircutting at the daily 5pm press conference, a ‘Two Minute Hate’ against the ‘Socially Undistanced’ (or should be the ‘Unsocially distanced’)?

What else might be a give-away in this new culture of conformity? Looking unconcerned as the economy collapses, or not clapping the sky when the time comes to applaud the NHS?

There is more to be done. Perhaps to deter breaching of ‘social distancing’ in those elements of the populace who pay for ‘personal services’, the Queen could grant a Royal Charter to a new organisation “RASEL – The Royal Anti-Sex League“, that might give the Duke of York, who currently seems to be at a loose end, a useful role as its Patron should he seek a new role and a spot of image polishing, there’s not much use for his Airmiles at the moment, and even if there were, he might wish to avoid countries with US extradition treaties, just in case he is unjustly accused.

Nigel Farage says ‘Say No to House Arrest’ – and a perspective on Red China

A video blog from Nigel, asking questions in his usual style about the lockdown and what it is for, police behaviour, and posing some questions about the UK’s relations with China. Then a China Uncensored video giving a view on the Red China ‘cure’ for coronavirus. He also has a good word for Stephen Kinnock going to see his Dad on his Old Man’s birthday.

A British politician calling for liberty, there is one.

And from China Uncensored, (a Taiwanese-backed channel I believe), a contrast on the American media’s soft touch on China with what has been going on.

Is Italy heading for a (Terror-)Famine? Spanish press report

The ‘conservative’ Spanish newspaper/site abc.es. has a report about the food situation in Italy (in Spanish) which indicates the following, something our media seems to ignore, per my translation:

‘Increasing woe in Italy due to the coronavirus: almost 3,000,000 people need food aid’

There’s a 10% uplift there, as the report gives a breakdown with more details.

In Campania more than 530,000 people need food, almost 9% of the region’s population. More than 364,000 in Sicily, almost 283,000 in Calabria. Even Lazio has more than 263,000 people in need. One analysis says around 2,700,000 people need food aid.

There is much discussion of raids on pharmacies and supermarkets, with police guarding them. This might be Southern politicians screaming for ‘pork’. Or perhaps the economy collapses when the State imposes lockdowns.

The Italian State has responded (to the problem it created)

Urgent response of the government

On Saturday night, the government responded urgently to this cry of alarm from the whole South of Italy, where there is a grave risk which some have called a ‘Social Bomb’ or ‘A Social Powderkeg’ which could explode if urgent solutions aren’t found.

The Prime Minister announced on Saturday night aid of 4,300,000,000 euros for families (Mr Ed. What type of family?) and another 400,000,000 euros in vouchers “to help the citizenry who have no money to buy basic necessities”

Or is this about something else? This paragraph caught my eye:

The challenge of the black economy

The ex-president of the National Anticorruption Authority, Raffaele Cantone, a prestigious Napolitan magistrate, has indicated that the true challenge is the black economy, with thousands of people who are now helpless: «It’s about the existence –says Cantone– of a parallel economy which everyone knows about, which some, and not only Southerners, exploit and many others tolerate, hypocritically pretending that they can’t see it.»

And how long here before our food supply chains might disintegrate, when people have to laboriously shop 2 meters apart, queueing to get in, queueing to pay, as the capacity of the shops to serve customers is throttled, whether or not the products are limited or in short supply. Is there any modelling of how long this can go on, never mind if it should at all?