Sunday, 6 October 2019

Climate Change

I’ve paid scant attention to the problems associated with climate change, regarding this as a topic outside our control. That was until I watched the TV program called ‘Decoding the Climate Machine’. It ran over two nights on the PBS channel.
     To say that I am horror-struck would be an understatement. In summary, the finger of blame points at us human beings for our impending, dire fate.
     The program started by asking if the recent spate of mega-storms, raging fires, sustained droughts, and severe earthquakes are flukes or trends? It concluded by affirming that it is a long-term trend, as we face a major impact on the relationships between the air we breathe, the land we live on, the seas we pollute, and the ice caps melting.
     The root cause of all of this lies with the greenhouse gases we generate, primarily carbon dioxide. Think long and hard about the meaning of that innocuous word ‘greenhouse’ and its connotations of heat.
     Did you know that 80% of our energy supplies are sourced from fossil fuels? These generate gases as byproducts that contain carbon dioxide; vast quantities are belched into the atmosphere from industrial chimneys.
     In Antarctica, scientists have drilled through the ice to a depth of 2 miles, to extract samples containing air bubbles trapped for up to 800,000 years. They have measured the carbon dioxide in each period against the current level and found an inexorable upward trend that is peaking. Whatever the causes of the torments that the earth faced previously, we are causing them now.
     Scientists have also dredged seashells from mud deposited on the ocean floors at varying depths. They have established that, whilst the seas absorb 98% of the gases we are responsible for emitting, the remaining 2% is also steadily rising This is sufficient to cause coral reefs that absorb carbon dioxide to die, and ice caps to melt at an ever-increasing rate.
     Another group of scientists, in New Jersey, have created a computer model of our planet, slotting its surface into grid blocks so that the rate of change can be predicted under varying scenarios. One likely outcome is that, by 2100, major changes will occur that render many low-lying cities uninhabitable.
     Optimistically, the PBS program is emphatic that we can use our intelligence to take counter-measures to prevent this scenario happening. Some authorities are already building sea defenses to mitigate potential damage. However, we need to take positive action to reverse the damage we are inflicting on ourselves.
     Fracking? Don’t! It generates the use of fossil fuels at its ultimate destination. As far as I can see, the petroleum industry has outlived its usefulness and must be replaced with modern, more costly alternatives that do not produce harmful side-effects. Plastics? Ban them!
     Ways are already being found to replace silicon-based solar cells with a much cheaper and abundant product called perovskite.
     Battery technology is progressing in leaps and bound, to give us zero-emission vehicles. Wind farms are increasing in number, complemented by new generations of solar panels.
     Without a rapid decline in carbon dioxide, we are doomed. Am I optimistic? I would be if the PSB program had not skirted around two major problems. One is the unsustainable number of people inhabiting this planet with its finite resources. Unless we agree voluntarily to significantly reduce from 7+ billion something will happen that may be accidental or ruthlessly induced.
     The second factor is the increasing level of volcanic activity. Our efforts will be puny compared with the volume of gases these monsters can exude, as all of us should appreciate.

Monday, 30 September 2019

Brexit - Seeking legal redemption

Probably the most famous feature of the Old Bailey is the gold statue of Justice atop its dome. She is helmeted but not, as widespread belief has it, blindfolded. The misconception of Justice as always blind is common. Whether the judges at the Supreme Court of appeal are even-handed in their rulings remains to be seen.
     The sword the statue carries is an instrument of justice. The Remainers, in their parochial ignorance, need to be reminded that it is a two-edged weapon. Now is the time to use it against those who decry the wishes of the majority of the population, whose wishes to leave the EU are being denied.
Starting with the Speaker, John Bercow, legal action needs to be taken because he openly believes himself to be unassailably above the law. This needs to be challenged lest he commits any more biased actions against the present government. Hence, it should be swiftly followed by legal action against the who are brazenly trying to assume the role of the current government and intervening to tie the hands of its elected officials by preventing the scenario where a no-deal emerges as the last resort. We have opposition parties denying the present government the chance to hold its own conference, without molestation, to pass new laws in their short absence. The illegality of this is surely undeniable, even by the 11 appeal judges.
     Either way, the Remainers too should swiftly answer for their activities, using their own, chosen paths to judgment.
What’s sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, with all the trimmings, served on top.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

A bleak political outlook

It is surely blinkered for anyone who is impartial to want another referendum when delivery is lacking on the first?
     I suspect that Boris 's refusal to go cap in hand to the EU to ask for another extension is simply to force the creation of a replacement government by those who oppose him. Else, no-deal comes into force on the 31st October.
     I wouldn't be surprised if the endless defeats by the government are being engineered to this end. The chance is high that the EU will see the writing on the wall and offer a belated deal on the backstop. Too late for us and to their financial benefit. The EU is cash-strapped and badly coordinated.
     That leaves Boris with the rump of badly-brokered Olly Robbins and Theresa May deal. It also leaves Remain MPs looking stupid for their premature actions, and the need anyway for an election in the UK as Winter approaches. Corbyn may get into Downing Street by default, as the SNP MPs grow in numbers at Westminster, and the LibDems and Labour benefit from the collapse of the Tories as the Brexit party splits the vote of core Tory voters.
     I hope that Cummings is as clever as some think him to be and some devilishly clever scheme is being hatched. Or is this it?
     Britain could well be getting a parliament that it does not really want. The inmates are taking over the asylum.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

Just how facile can you get?

The UK Ambassador to the USA is a died-in-the-wool EU supporter, who represented the UK in the EU for several years. He was due to retire anyway from his posting to Washington, but it looks like he and his chums at the Foreign Office decided it would be a golden opportunity to thwart the much hated Boris at the hustings, to get his rival Jeremy over the line.
     So what did they do? They resurrected a bile-filled, inflammatory report released much earlier, deriding Trump. It was supposed to be confidential, but said nothing beyond the type of thing that was already being said in public at that time.
     Boris said that he would decide on the ambassador's fate if and when appointed PM. This gave Sir Kim Darroch the ideal opportunity to resign, under the pretext that Boris had failed to support him in public and therefore broken with protocol.
     A previous, knighted Foreign Minister, a mandarin himself, then gleefully launched a tirade against Boris as the first step in a campaign of vilification.
     to my way of thinking the British Foreign Office is anything but impartial, and this sequence of orchestrated events proves just how much a clearout of this institution is needed, along with the House of Lords, unelected as they all are, like the bigwigs in the EU at Brussels.
     If Jeremy gets elected, it will signal the end of the Tory party. I believe. Time will tell.

Saturday, 6 July 2019

Apocalypse Soon

     By apocalypse, I mean that a very serious event resulting in great destruction is likely to occur within my lifetime.
     Normally, I would regard climate change as a naturally recurring event that is outside the influence of mankind.
     My attitude changed profoundly when I saw a game-changing program about NASA’s GRACE Project. One of the NASA Earth Science Enterprise’s focus areas is Earth Surface and Interior studies, which includes studying the gravity field.
     The Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE), launched by NASA on March 17, 2002, is revealing more detail about the gravity field than has ever been available before.
     Data provided by GRACE are substantially improving our knowledge of Earth’s gravity and of a number of important aspects of global change.
     NASA and German scientists now have access to data, using satellites and other tools that identify two regions of the Earth that are causing our planet to alter its poles and rotation. It seems that atmospheric changes, not so subtly or deliberately induced, are causing rapidly increasing changes in weather patterns.
     The finger of blame points at India and its neighboring countries, for changing the flow of water at source on a monumental scale.
     Another finger of blame points at China, for its massive use of cement. It has consumed in three years more than the USA did on the whole of the 20th century.
     These two countries, with their burgeoning populations, are claimed to be the source of the current changes in climate. I am not the author of these accusations.
     The consequences are escalating, although the Trump administration insists that the problem does not exist. Yet, its NASA agency insists that it does.
     The fantastical consequences were then revealed. The USA will become a totally devastated desert, with the mighty Mississippi reduced to a trickle.
     In that eventuality, Trump had better start being nice to his near neighbors, sooner rather than later.
     Europe, on the other hand, will also become uninhabitable because of its thick covering of ice and snow.
     This was its situation 10,000 years ago, when cannibalism was rife and skulls were used as drinking vessels.
     No doubt, those enterprises that were created to evade privacy laws in the USA are aware of what is happening in the Asian continents, due to over population.
     When the ‘dime drops’ with Trump, does anyone think he will hesitate to remedy the impending cataclysm without delay? His own country put at existential risk by other profligates, one with teeming slums, who are at the heart of the problem?
     No doubt those new kids on the block at the Bilderbergers think tanks are also aware of what the Earth faces, hence Bill Gates widely publicized opinion that the worldwide population needs to be reduced to less than 750 million people.
     There is no time to be wasted in getting the numbers reduced, so get ready folks for a dystopian future. It is too late for the mass, painless sterilization for which I hoped.

Initial source: NASA’s Unexplained Files, Series 4, Episode 6, final 15 minutes.

Sunday, 2 June 2019

Design of book covers

Recently, I began to focus on designing book covers. Microsoft Publisher was my initial choice, but it has a severe design flaw that resulted in one of their technical staff being allowed access to my PC to seek a solution. The effort did not succeed, so I abandoned the software package and chose another. It is a rival to Adobe Photoshop but only has a one-off fee and lots of tutorials to support it. The problem? Publisher cannot correctly edit unwanted picture backgrounds on export for printing in PDF format. They show as square, white backgrounds surrounding the main image, even though they are invisible within the original publisher picture.
     I have now completed four books in the Snippets series, as per These are approx. 30,000 words long, self-contained extracts of full-length books and are intended for busy readers who want something shorter to evaluate. The cost to me of handing out these 'snippets' is just over 2 euros each for a paperback.
     I have also completed a rewrite of a full paperback, which is three times as long, with the redesigned cover going through the publishing routine without a hitch, the first time, using Amazon. The ISBN to uniquely identify it in the publishing world is Amazon's own and cost me nothing.
     The software is Affinity Photo, but is not for the faint-hearted. For my specific needs as a cover designer, it is in a vastly superior league to MS Publisher and well worth the €54 I paid. I needed a half-day to get up to speed by finding and viewing online tutorials, plus reading the free, in-depth guide.
     It will save me a bundle in fees paid to professional designers, who typically charge $120. These know all about bleeds, gutters, odd and even pages, margins and the like. So do I.
If anyone reading this needs advice, I can be contacted directly at

Sunday, 12 May 2019

The death of parliamentary democracy

It is a case of too little, too late. The 1922 committee has failed to act in a coordinated way to tackle the impending disaster. It clearly lacks a shared vision and is riven with dissent.
     Now the whole party must fear for its future, which is bleak. Serves its right, for electing a dogged, perverse PM to continue unchecked, acting as a dictator.
     A true, gutsy, leader can only hope to salvage something from this self-imposed failure to honour its basic commitment and do what the electorate wanted.
     After the clearout of the weasels and stoats from parliament, we can start afresh. Let's continue to have and abide by referendums whatever the MPs insist is best for voters.
A new style of participative democracy is coming, but not with the current lot at the helm.

Friday, 3 May 2019

As many as 16 other countries want to quit the EU

EU on BRINK: Eurosceptics assemble in Warsaw to demand exit from bloc – 'We want out'

Thousands of anti-European Union voters marched down the city centre of Poland's capital Warsaw to demand Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki take the country out of the bloc.
     Wednesday 2nd May, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki hosted a one-day summit with the leaders of the newest 13 EU member states after which he urged Brussels to relinquish more power to national governments.
     Mr Morawiecki said: "Where it doesn't have to, the European Union should leave member countries to their own competences.
"We say this with a single Central European voice."

Britain on its own is it, really? Can’t make it as a small country?
Get these countries on board and set up a new currency, the Beuro. Then we can start to compete on level terms with that powerhouse, Germany, which is now in recession.

I’ll never understand why anyone should want to stay in this undemocratic block. It is run like a dining club at exorbitant cost by effete bureaucrats.

Friday, 5 April 2019

Hacking on the web

Gauging from a reply to my raising a query with Amazon, this is the first time that this behemoth admits to having put security restrictions in place on accounting information. This is a big thing, since they have been raiding accounts for ages in order to track friendship and family links. This is done to delete favourable reviews that may or may not be impartial. It is not permissible under Data Protection legislation and an odd way for a major book publisher to behave.
     This suggests that the Data Protection laws are beginning to stop Amazon’s illegal searches to establish links between people.
     Likewise, Google is deleting most accumulated Contacts. This will obliterate the records of those authors who build them up in order to get their Books promoted. Now, I only have three contacts in my list, and some have entirely disappeared from both the Correo Outlook accounts on my personal PC as well as those held online, elsewhere (On the Cloud etc).
    This indicates that the central intelligence agencies are at work, to prevent hacking and hostile governments from abusing the web to manipulate its users’ records. One update from Microsoft (version 1809) rid my Chinese-built Lenovo PC of the personal data; the HP PC it left untouched.
     The same thing happened when, to restore the seriously diminished WiFi internet speed of the affected PC, I downloaded driver software that cleared the problem. My data again disappeared.
     I expect WhatsApp to have to change the way it operates, since my Family group has been cut back without any intervention from those in it.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

False claims about what leaving the EU entails

SWITZERLAND has been extremely successful outside the EU at negotiating trade deals. The Alpine country managed to open markets of more than £26 trillion, an economist claimed in a book.

     In 2016 book "Myth and Paradox of the Single Market: How the Trade Benefits of EU Membership Have Been Mis-sold", leading economist Michael Burrage argues that the free trade agreements concluded by the EU are not comparable to the ones of independent countries such as Switzerland.
     Mr Burrage claims the Alpine country has none of the “heft” or “clout” or “negotiating leverage that the CBI and many businesses consider essential in trade negotiations”, but has performed considerably better outside the bloc.
     The author explained: “In terms of the absolute size of the markets opened, in some unknown manner and degree, to freer trade in services, the EU agreements total $4.8tn.
     “Whereas Swiss FTAs have opened markets of $35.8tn (£26tn) to their services exporters, which is more than seven times larger than those opened by EU negotiators.”
     Mr Burrage also noted how the GDP of the countries with an EU agreement in force differed from independent countries.
     He said: “Since 1970, the EC has concluded 37 agreements, most of them with small economies, some multi-country.
     "The aggregate GDP in 2015 of the 55 countries with an EU agreement in force in January 2014 is $7.7tn."

Saturday, 9 March 2019

A Moral Dilemma

Recently, Jacob Rees Mogg said he would be inclined to allow the wife of an ISIS fighter back into Britain, where she was born.
     The wife in question was hiding in a refugee camp in Syria, amongst the people ISIS had subjected to acts of terrorism too horrible to mention.
     Let us take this situation to a higher level. Imagine the choice was not made in isolation, but with one of her victims standing alongside her. The victim is a Yazidi, whose race has been subjected to genocide. ISIS has murdered, raped and tortured many like her.
     Who would you choose, the Yazidi or the ISIS terrorist’s wife, who has shown no remorse? The displaced, innocent Yazidi girl or the ISIS bride who regards seeing a decapitated victim’s head in a trash can as a normal event?
     I suspect that those currently calling Sajid Javid a hard-hearted monster for not having permitted her and her sadly deceased baby back into the country are not seeing events in perspective.
     Which one would you choose to house as a refugee? Who is the most deserving between them?
     My choice would be neither, since they both need the utmost help in rebuilding lives where the devastation occurred.

Saturday, 23 February 2019

Wizen up – numero 1 in an ongoing series

Get streetwise, somewhat belatedly, like I tend to do.

This is the first in an ongoing series recounting real life experiences in Spain.

It happened when my son-in-law, my ‘yerno’ passed on a tip that one of his buddies gave him.
     He said, “Buy a cheap 5 litre plastic container of red wine from the supermarket Mercadona, decant it twice and enjoy the flavour. It’s not bad! Here, try it yourself.” It was okay good, so I took the plunge.
     Following his suggestion, I didn’t buy the cheapest. I duly decanted it twice, using an existing, empty bodega plastic container also of 5 litre capacity. Much to my surprise, the bodega container was marginally smaller. I had a generous glass of wine left over!
     I asked myself, “This couldn’t be a mistake, could it? Have I been short-changed all these years of innocent loyalty? Where’s my 1 litre Pyrex jar measure?
     I duly used a 6 litre plastic container of drinking water and poured it into an empty, sterilised bodega plastic container, 1 litre at a time. There again, was a shortfall when I reached the fifth litre. To this can be added the regular failure by staff in the bodega to fill the 5 litre bodega container because of the froth on the poured wine.
     Who would you trust for veracity, Mercadona or the bodega? It may be that the bodega itself is unaware of the dodgy supplier, but I have seen many a restauranteur wheel out a trolley full of these containers, unaware of the discrepancy.
     The next day, our freshly decanted bottle of Dominio de Borgia tinto 13.5ยบ wine at €1.20 per litre, IVA incluiso, genuinely tasted better than the more expensive version from the bodega.

Do you ever feel you’ve been suckered?

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

An opportunity presents itself

In any situation, it pays to take a step back and review a dilemma at arm’s length.
In this instance, I have in mind a major problem with which Chris Grayling, Minister for Transport, is undoubtedly grappling.
     It is called HS2, the High Speed rail link that is rapidly spiraling in projected cost and is in danger of being cancelled.
     I ask the fundamental question: is rail travel the only way forward? My arm’s length view is that it is fast becoming obsolete, in comparison with road travel. Its infrastructure is costly, its dependence on schedules is unnecessary, and it is a noisy intrusion for those who dwell on its borders and have to be compensated to move elsewhere. Andy Burnham, now Mayor of Manchester, believes that other rail routes in the north are much more needed and less costly than a link to London that ultimately only really benefits the latter city.
      The question is: will Chris Grayling press on regardless with what increasingly looks like becoming a white elephant?
     As suggested before, apparently without the notion being investigated for its feasibility, the government should ditch the current approach, whilst it is in its virginity, and compare the total cost with that of a special type of road. On its surface, in both directions, would run an endless, high-speed stream of self-drive vehicles, with stations en-route feeding people and cargoes into feeder lanes. At each terminal station, the incoming vehicles would loop back to an outgoing, low kerbside platform for completion of the loop.
     It would be entirely automated and driverless, with no schedules, no empty seats, and stockyards nearby for temporary storage of the rolling stock.
     The vehicles would be self-charging, guided along the roadways by the equivalent of cats’ eyes, to replenish and guide them on their way, using the same technology as developed for unconventional railways, like maglev; see
This uses two sets of magnets, one set to repel and push the train up off the track, then another set to move the 'floating train' ahead at great speed taking advantage of the lack of friction. Along certain "medium range" routes (usually 200–400 miles) maglev propelled vehicles could compete favorably against high speed trains and airplanes. Thus, a maglev propelled vehicle could silently transport passengers and goods, the latter at separate and less busy times of the day and night, along dedicated routes at far lower cost than that of railways.
     The beauty of the revised HS2 project is that it would lend itself to development of a project that would not have built-in obsolescence, would be a showcase for British engineering in the same mould as engineering projects by Isambard Brunel, and is not so revolutionary as to strike fear in the heart of a timid Minister of Transport (not necessarily the present incumbent).
     In addition, an interim version of this system could rapidly be adopted to address the severe overcrowding and delays on commuter rail services into some parts of London.

At the start of this article, I stated that, “An opportunity presents itself”. What better opportunity could there be than for the government to assume responsibility for the Honda plant being vacated in Swindon? They could then invite tenders to supply self-drive electric vehicles for the new style of transport on special routes.
   A triple whammy if ever I saw one.

Sunday, 17 February 2019

How many dimensions are there in real life?

I give you a quote by Jenni Young:
"Pause and Remember: Every situation in life is temporary. So, when life is good, make sure you enjoy and receive it fully. And when life is not so good, remember that it will not last forever and better days are on the way." – Jenni Young
Then I ask the question how many dimensions are there in real life?
To my way of thinking, there is more to life than the simple choices that this quote presumes.
I give you another quote from the same font of wisdom:
“Pause and remember— No one is coming to rescue you from yourself; your inner demons, your lack of confidence, your dissatisfaction with yourself and life. Only self-love and good decisions will rescue you.” – Jenni Young 2014
To my pragmatical way of thinking, these two quotes embody a parochial attitude that is unreal and two-dimensional. There are those who may say the equivalent of ‘amen’ to such sentiments. They are, in my not so humble view, either expressing sorrow for those who repeat the quotes mindlessly, or who swallow them hook line and sinker whilst peeling veg at the village trough, metaphorically speaking.
I retort, using key points strategy,
- If a loved one dies, is that physically temporary?
- If a bayonet is being shoved into and twisted in your belly, for target practise, is that physically temporary?
- After death, do we really have a comforting expectation that we will reunite in a place we could regard as heavenly?
Life itself is surely temporary, not just the episodes in it, so how can anyone be assured that better days are on the way? One might as well pronounce that when life is good you’d better make the most of it because it won’t last forever. It’s the same thing, isn’t it? Amen to that too!
     Now in case any of you think that I am being morbid, rest assured that I have no inner demons, nor do I lack confidence, and my satisfaction with life is relatively high, given the fact that with longer life comes the normal wear and tear. I equate self-love with egoism, and have learnt to live with my decisions, good and bad.
     ‘Each to his own!’ as one sour recipient of my pearls of counter-wisdom riposted, when I had the temerity to question her lofty, self-deluding preachings, in Jenni Young’s vein, from a false pulpit.
     I consider myself lucky not to be living in a settled country, where scorched earth policies are not practiced against minorities, where starvation and poverty is not the rule of life, and the likes of me can scorn at the shallow quotes of sheltered, harmless nonces like Jenni Young without fear of retribution. Or can I? there are militant vegans around who are increasingly strident in their demands that I adopt a diet that meets with their approval.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

The power of the human brain

There are those who are convinced, beyond all reasonable logic, that the power of the human brain can be harnessed to overcome physical ailments.
     This may be true, if the advocate of alternative treatments and their small army of believers are in robust good health, but what if they aren't? Self-belief is one thing, achievement another. I commented about this recently on Facebook to one adherent of this belief, to receive a comment by someone else, a lady , stating that her husband was told by his doctor that he would die soon. Yet, he was still alive and with his family umpteen years later. Medical misdiagnosis? Possibly yes, but blind faith expressing a miracle is one thing, malpractice another. There are too many cases I’ve read of desperate people who are terminally and irrefutably ill, but who invariably die as forecast.
     I will always do my utmost to be positive if similarly afflicted, but why is it I come across people in robust good health who are inclined to give false hope to others who may be at death’s door?
     In contrast, I have come across one person whose healing powers seem to be legendary. What I saw on TV convinced me that he is a genuine healer, not yet another charlatan preaching to the converted from a false pulpit. His name is Chrissie Goldsmith. See
     On the other hand, I have met someone else who firmly believes that the brain has the ability to overcome health problems, based on his own experiences, like cataracts evaporating of their own accord.
      This person, in his eighties, suffers badly from the shakes. It is a spectacle to observe him reading a tract from a sheet of paper. I have a theory on how he copes with this disability so well. It goes like this:
     A gun synchronizer, sometimes rather less accurately called an interrupter, is attached to the armament of a single-propeller aircraft so it can fire through the arc of its spinning propeller without bullets striking the blades.
    The man I am referring to has clearly used his brain to achieve this synchronization, and thus continues to read without stuttering or spluttering. It is a sight to behold. I only hope I don’t have to adapt my brain to use my withering body in a similar way.