Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Candles for the NHS & Army

Hay was bought one of these expensive, scented candles for her birthday by a work colleague - the ones that come in a glass tumbler with a metal lid and the whole thing is intended to be thrown away when the candle is finished. It was presented in a very expensive, company emblazoned paper shopping bag. Must have cost at least £15 of thereabouts for something you can buy in IKEA for a quid, sans the tumbler. It exemplifies the scandalous waste that's prevalent in our throw-away culture. The tumbler will be reused once the candle has expired, but in the aftermath of Christmas I saw so many of these objects in the recycling (our neighbours all put their recycling outside our house, as the lorries don't have to negotiate a tight bend in the lane behind us). Damned thing sets off my asthma too,

We were chatting about how society has become obsessed with the self over the years and community spirit is not as prevalent as it once was. To me, this seems to correlate with the rise of the welfare state, whereby we shifted the responsibility for looking after the less fortunate (and indeed our own) to a faceless 3rd party. That's not to say the welfare state is a bad thing, but it's a trade off - many that would have fallen through the net of community spirit are now cared for, but we've become meaner spirited as a result. Or have we? Is it possible that those lacking community spirit now would still have lacked community spirit 100 years ago, which is why so many died in poverty or of hideous diseases?

We were watching some TV programme about incredible operations in the NHS. A doctor commented that he is doing operations today which would not have been contemplated a decade ago, let alone 20 or 30 years ago. The NHS is under financial pressure, and it's hardly surprising when you consider the medical advances made - and the consequent rise in costs coupled with the fact funding per person has levelled off.

I saw the BBC news item last night about a hospital in the NE and its stretched staff. Not an immigrant in sight, except as hospital staff. The patients were all, with the exception of one child, elderly.

A senior general has said we need to spend more money on the armed services to maintain our capability. Well, that's what senior armed forces personnel say all the time - it's in their interests. However, in this case I agree. Excellent argument for an EU Army, if you ask me. NATO comprises 29 countries, or which several are not in Europe (that includes Turkey). Any one of those countries can veto a NATO action. The veto problem could similarly affect an EU Army, but that could be addressed in its formation by use of majority voting. Additionally, the EU has greater ability to ensure member countries hand over budget than NATO does.

Monday, 22 January 2018

Poinsettia Death for Speeding Wallander

Overheard while watching Wallander:

Chairman: Isn't that Wossisface?"

Hay: "Kenneth Brannagh."

Chairman: "Wasn't he married to thingie?"

Hay: "Emma Thompson, but he left her for Helena Bonham-Carter."

Chairman: "Thought she was married to Tim Wetherpoon."

Hay: "Burton."

Chairman: "Thought he married Liz Taylor?"

Hay: "That was Richard Burton - it's like living in an old people's home."

I do it on purpose...

I see Ukip's Henry Bolton won't accept a 100%/0% vote - unfinished business. Can't really complain then about a 52%/48% vote being challenged then, can he? Seems he's an Arch-Remoaner - suck it up, snowflake.

Why is it everyone gets a birthday cake and not a birthday pie? I've told Hay I want a birthday pie for my 63rd in March and start a new trend.

Everyone thrown out their Christmas poinsettias yet? Miraculously, ours has survived this far. Normally, according to the universal law of poinsettias, they die within a few weeks of Christmas having passed. 

Even the coconut palm that I was convinced I'd killed when repotting it has managed to cling on to life with just one shoot that should sprout into a leaf this year. Not sure I'll keep it though as it doesn't look very aesthetically pleasing at present. 

Forgot to mention - when I posted about being flashed for speeding in Bristol and thought I'd got away with just doing the police speeding course, I hadn't banked on the fact I'd been flashed twice within a few minutes. Asked for another course in the hope the two applications would get mixed up, but I think I'm in for 3 points and a £100 fine. That'll teach me to not have Waze on silent...

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Golden Rule for Streetights

Joining the Euro, not joining the Euro, the Euro being evil personified, the value of sterling against the Dollar or the Euro. I really don't know what people have against a currency union. We all used a common currency for millennia - gold and silver. How the hell did we manage for so long and so well in a global (or near as dammit, except for the odd cowrie shell and wampum belt) currency union?

If we were to switch back to gold and silver then we'd have to engage in honest trade with another party that already has some gold in their possession. People wouldn’t be able to just sit there and push a button to create new money based on vapourware and 'confidence' and Forex traders wouldn't be able to create a run on country's currency.

It would discourage inflation and government budget deficits and debt, which can't exceed the supply of gold. Governments, however, would no longer be able to reduce the money supply by raising interest rates in times of inflation. Nor could it increase the money supply by lowering rates in times of recession. In fact, this is why many advocate a return to the gold standard - it would enforce fiscal discipline, balance the budget and limit government intervention - as Greece learned to its cost. Several states in the USA already use gold for a number of transactions.

The weirdest thing happened as I was driving into the village for my Sunday paper - as I drove along one street, five streetlights went out in succession just as I drove past. Another did it on my return. It was like something out of The Omen...

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Small Englanders

The result of a YouGov pol yesterday - Fog in the Channel - Continent Isolated...

Surprisingly, 55% overall thought it a bad idea and only 26% thought it a good idea. Younger people thought it a good idea and the older the cohort became the more they thought it a bad idea.

Given an added route for holidays and trade is undoubtedly a good idea - even if only because of the jobs it creates, one wonders why so many think it a bad idea, unless it's the Boris effect - they're making a judgement on a Boris idea as opposed to the idea itself.

The Kipper result I can understand though - they're not noted for rational thought.

Friday, 19 January 2018

The Chairman's Admin Service

Last February we invested a large sum in a start-up using a government SEED scheme which guarantees 50% of your investment back in the tax year following the investment. The paperwork that enabled me to claim the 50% was allegedly sent in the summer of last year, but neither Hayley nor myself could recall receiving the certificate. We've spent an entire week persuading my accountant to lodge the claim without the actual certificate, which he was reluctant to do - and we were fast approaching the end of January deadline for self-assessment. Getting another certificate could take months. I'd actually forgotten about the tax relief - I'd already submitted my self-assessment in November, so it was a case of a retrospective application on having my memory jogged.

Given we were assured by the MD of said company that the certificate was sent by post, rather than via email (as was our assumption), Hay persuaded me to look through my important paperwork file rather than concentrating on my email archive. Hey presto! It was languishing in a little-used section of the filing system, heavily disguised as an HMRC tax certificate for SEED investment. My accountant was happy, Hayley was happy and I was happy and the revised self-assessment was duly resubmitted on Wednesday - enough, near as dammit, for a year's frugal living expenses. It was a close call.

Hay has now suggested I set up a business administration firm.....

Thursday, 18 January 2018

The Sartorial Elegance of Free Speech

I do believe I've reached the age where I can't care less about what I'm wearing - fashion holds no attraction for me whatsoever and stains on clothing (especially biological ones ones) are a badge of honour. Sure, I'll make an effort for business meetings, but in all other aspects of life comfort takes precedence over style. I call it the manopause.

Hay spotted these nifty items in a shop yesterday and suggested they'd be perfect for me as both day and evening wear. Practical, is what I'd call them...

Talking of the manopause, Being 8 years into it with no end in sight, Hay has been following a series of items on Woman's Hour about the menopause. One bloke rang in to the show to ask how he can best support his wife during the menopause. Hay shouted at the radio; "Leave for a few years, take the kids with you and lock up all the kitchen knives."

I note the government has banned a prominent American Holocaust denier, Mark Webber. I wonder how they reconcile this with government calls for free speech in UK universities? Methinks they just want an enforced platform for their views among the young, where their views are not well received. Mind you, Conservative views are not being that well received throughout the country at this present time, although the hedge funds have done well from Carillion's collapse by selling short. Rees-Mogg and his Somerset Capital Management missed an opportunity there, although the Conservatives allegedly accepted a £50k donation from one of the short selling firms.

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Absolute Strength Carillion Candles

When checking the performance of Sterling I'm constantly annoyed at having to check it against several currencies and keeping a mental note of what's happening in each pairing. This led me to think about tracking currencies against something more absolute than just another currency, such as gold, but even gold suffers from the effects of supply and demand.

This induced me to do a bit of research and I came across the concept of Absolute Currency Strength, which is the strength of a currency against a basket of currencies. This is the chart for yesterday morning:

The chart can be found here. The meter takes readings from every forex pair over the last 24 hours, and applies calculations to each. It then bundles together each the associated pairs to an individual currency (eg, EUR/USD, EUR/JPY, EUR/GBP etc) and finds the current strength. The only problem is that it spans just 24 hours, which is not long enough for my purposes - a week or a month would be better. With 24 hours the results go up and down like the proverbial whore's drawers.

This problem got me searching Google Play and I came up with Currency Strength Indicator, where you can set the time frame from anything between 1 minute and 1 month and a sample of between 10 to 100 points in that time.

Don't know why, but I detest coloured candles, especially the ones that are dipped to achieve the colour. Hay had a couple of left-overs from her dad, so my OCD getting the better of me I peeled them with the potato peeler to remove the red wax dip. Feel much happier now...

Could someone explain how, if the government has existing contacts with Carillion and was paying for them, taking control of those contracts through existing Carillion staff and paying them, is going to cost more? Surely, with the profit element gone and the staff being paid the same, it will cost less than under the liquidated regime? The only answer that makes sense is if the government has paid up-front and the money has already gone, although I can't believe anyone would be so stupid. If the company is in liquidation, then I suppose the creditors would have first dibs on any assets, so there is that to factor in - and assets would need to be bought back from the liquidator by the government. However, assets would be going for a song in a fire sale.

Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Flashing Onion Cats

Oops - I made two posts yesterday by mistake. One was meant for today.

I'm a criminal - got flashed by a traffic camera in Bristol at 5am last week while on the way to the airport. I was doing 50 in a 40 zone - that'll teach me to have Waze on silent! Rather than pay the £100 fine and obligatory 3 points on my licence, I've opted to go on a re-education programme. Evidence shows that people who choose these programmes are less likely to offend again, but I wonder if they just don't think; "That'll teach me not to have Waze on silent again."?

Last night there was a lot of squeaking taking place in the kitchen, meaning one of the cats had brought in a mouse. It being about midnight, I wasn't in a mind to go downstairs and rescue it - not that I could have. I'm not making any accusations - it could have been Kitty, Blackie or Gingy - but it was either eaten in its entirety (a rare occurrence, as one particular item of mouse viscera is usually left for me to clean up - invariably the stomach), or a dismembered mouse has been deposited under an item of furniture again.

Lots of media attention to supermarket packaging and then Lidl goes and starts selling pre-peeled onions in plastic. Not a good PR move - however, I don't like peeling onions either. Until such time as supermarkets stop selling pre-prepared (not only peeled, but diced) vegetables, it's a bit unfair to single out just one vendor. Look in any Iceland store and every vegetable is pre-peeled and diced, or mashed - and in plastic. Anyone ever peeled a pea, or do you prefer the podded, frozen variety?

Monday, 15 January 2018

Neanderthal Racism on a DM Bike

Is it racist to have a go at races that no longer exist? Can you poke fun at neanderthals with no consequences?

There again, neanderthal genes still exist in the population - in some more than others (or is that a racist comment?).

Talking of neanderthal genes, Branson has reversed his decision not to stock the Daily Mail and some are hailing it as a move against censorship. Virgin trains doesn't stock the Jewish Chronicle - I wonder why? It has been said that passengers on Virgin Trains prefer the on-line version of the DM as it provides great sport by being able to read the comments sections and baiting the fascists. No self-respecting Libtard Snowflake, like myself, would be seen dead with a paper copy.

Libtard - a favoured put-down by the right. It's an oxymoron to start with, but the users don't realise this. There are literally hundreds of academic studies showing that liberals are more intelligent that conservatives. Then there's Political Correctness - a useful club deployed by the right to beat out any dissent as they rampage about the place saying unacceptable things. Freedom of speech has legal limitations but also confines that are judged by the broader consensus of society.

On another favourite DM topic; I was listening to an item on immigration on Radio 4 yesterday morning and the argument about its effect on local jobs was mentioned. This stirred a memory of one Norman Tebbitt a few decades ago calling on the jobless to get on their bikes. I wonder how people felt about immigrants from Liverpool or Sheffield coming in and taking their jobs. Then again, remember the phenomenally successful Auf Wiedersehen, Pet?

A Carillion for Recycled Wellingtons

So Carillion has gone bust - a familiar story of an obsession with size, takeovers driven by boardroom egos, the lure of the City and good old government incompetence. That's just how British manufacturing declined and now it's spreading to the construction / services industry. It's yet another kick in the backside for privatisation where a service has to be provided with a profit element. The British taxpayer will now step in to save the bits it relies on - another familiar story. I wonder how many MPs have shares in Carillion.

I resurrected my kefir grains over the weekend; they'd been frozen for at least 4 months, if not more, and produced an excellent batch of kefir 1st time - so freezing definitely works as a means of preservation. They're back in the freezer again now and probably won't brought out again for at least 6 months.

Why do socks come off when you wear wellingtons? Perhaps I need to invest in some long socks - could be why you see farmers with their socks rolled over the tops of the wellies?

Old people and recycling - what is it about recycling that they don't get? Open Hay's dad's bin and it's crammed with stuff that should go into the recycling bins, but no. It's the same with our elderly neighbours. Having lived though the war you'd think they'd gravitate to recycling quite easily, but it's almost as if they're saying; " I've done my bit."