rashbre central: April 2020

Wednesday 22 April 2020

fake truth

I suppose it is important to be patriotic during the current crisis. To ignore the doubletalk of some of the politicians who say one thing one day and then contradict it the next. To not notice when a politician studiously avoids answering a questioner. After all, the questions are only from a mere journalist, not an expert. And wait, we've also been told not to listen to experts or read their reports in any case.

It would be entirely wrong to bring out fact-checking at this time, to indicate that the NHS has been underinvested for the last ten years.

Nor to look at any fat-cat monetisation of the catastrophe. The Americans are fast to begin to sue China, with aggressive lawyers pursuing billions oops - trillions - of dollars of claims against Beijing. No-one in Europe thought of that when America tragically exported the Spanish flu from Kansas on troopships.

It pushes the shorting of crashing equities for profit in UK markets into the shade. Then there's the squabble over PPE warehousing, a UK example of which was outsourced to the Americans, who now, during the crisis, are in the middle of selling the site to the French.

We shouldn't blame anyone either. Not for the decline in funding, nor reduced staffing number in the NHS. Not for the removal of protections suggested after the last epidemic hit to Britain which was WBM (within blogging memory).

I looked back to the H1N1 epidemic and noticed that there were various committees and papers produced, some of which seemed to make good sense. They are tricky to find because some of the key links have broken, so the material isn't where you'd expect to find it. For example, all of the papers and findings from the last wave were stored in a tidy grouping.

Unfortunately, the link to the helpfully named www.dh.gov.uk/en/Publichealth/Flu is now a 'link not found'. Still, with a little persistence, it is possible to trawl around the National Archives to find some of the original papers and lessons learned. However, not everyone has a Doctorate in Information Science, so the searches may prove rather difficult.

Thank goodness then, for the alternative link, which still works here:

Tuesday 21 April 2020

Permafree Ed Adams Archangel

I seem to have got that book up on Kindle now with a zero pricetag. It's part of Kindle Unlimited, which means it can be downloaded like a library book and then checked back in after reading. Or, I'm told, it can be purchased outright for 2.99.

I'll let it run for a few days, at least until the other copy of the Kindle comes on-stream, which is mid May, I think.

My theory about the race to the bottom doesn't quite pan out though. It appears that plenty of people are using Kindle Unlimited to have a sample book available for Permafree. It's just taken me a while to cotton on to how it all works.

I suppose plan B is to provide offers for books 'free', although I don't think Amazon would approve of that.

My mailing list for Ed Adams is click here

Monday 20 April 2020


Author's Note on extract from novel

This book is an attempt to piece together the story of Christina Nott, variously known by a multiplicity of other names in her past.
She's changed identity again now, so there's no direct way to pin her to this and I've been asked by lawyers to describe the whole thing as a work of fiction, which gets around several matters, which will be resolved as the story unfolds

Agnes Örnólfsdóttir

We are in Iceland at the start. Agnes was born to the Örnólfs and gained the name Agnes Örnólfsdóttir. On Iceland, the last names of everyone reflect their family and so Örnólfsdóttir literally means Örnólf's daughter.
Christina continues:
I was not an immigrant in Iceland. It is where I'm from, but I've moved so many times I feel like an immigrant everywhere now. At least I do not feel of the place. More like an outside observer.

I can only remember a few events from my time in Iceland. We lived on a smallholding with a selection of sheep and horses. If it sounds in any way glamorous, it was not. My Pabbi worked the land and managed the animals. The horses were the typical Icelandic type, which sometimes people mistake for ponies. They taught me to ride from an early age and have memories of being on a horse, helping Pabbi bring in the sheep.

I am sure that's what has toughened me to the elements too, Iceland was cold and very snowy. When the winds blew it could be icy, yet the overall climate was well-tempered. Mamma used to put me outside when I was a little elskan, in all weathers. I have since heard that this was considered cruel by some people, but the culture in Iceland is to do this and ensure the baby gets fresh air.

Our place was about three hours outside of Reykjavík on the F35, sandwiched between two glaciers. There was always a view out towards ice both to the east and to the west, although Pabbi said that the eastern ice was melting quickly.

It meant that in my early years I learned from the land. How to read the skies, of animals and their ways and their tracks. We had a small local school, but I was told that I would need, at some point, to go to a big city for my education.

In the evening, indoors, we would sing songs, and I learned to play the piano, except I could not reach down to the pedals on the old upright piano that we had.

I discovered that my other source of learning was television. The Americans had an Air Force base at Keflavik, and they'd installed a huge aerial that transmitted American television to the whole of Iceland. I think it was to make the Americans feel at home when they transferred to Iceland, but it also meant that most of Iceland learned English from the broadcasts. We also learned about a lot of American products which we could not get in Iceland, but that the Americans had flown in on their transport planes.

I could play many of the jingles from the television on the piano. At one time, as children, we even formed a small band who practiced together in one of the bedrooms of the farm-house. I think it was a subtle way that Mamma ensure we had music lessons.

I had not accounted for Pabbi's other job. As well as his business as a smallholder, unknown to me he was paid to watch the sky. One of our farm sheds was off-limits to me. When I had friends around to play, we were told never to go into the Ullarverslun - the wool store. I was told I was allergic and that it would make me ill.

The threat of illness was enough to keep me away until one day when we were playing some kind of hide-and-seek game. Hekla - my best friend - had run towards the Ullarverslun and made as if she was going to hide somewhere near it. We were past the window weather and into the warm summer months with bright sunshine.

There was a sudden crack, and a piece of timber fell from the store. It turned out Hekla was trying to climb over the top of the door to a flat area of roof, where she could both hide and catch some sunlight.

Instead, she fell through the roof and into the building. It wasn't much of a drop, maybe two metres in total, and she knew to lower herself through the gap so she'd only need to drop about a metre. No problem for a nine-year-old.

Then she came back to the door and opened it. I was expecting to see wool piled up from floor to ceiling. I'd never really thought about it being any different.

Sure, we had sheep. Proper Icelandic sheep which did get woolly in the winter months. They were sheared by Pabbi and Kristján, who used to come up from the town to help. I'd never really thought about where the wool went, except that it was in the wool store.

So, it was a surprise to finally see inside the store. It looked electrical. There were several boxes with lights flashing, a desk and a computer terminal.

There was also what looked like a huge satellite dish, pointing upwards, although there was a roof above it.

Hekla was as surprised as me.

Sunday 19 April 2020

experimental Archangel

I've just completed Archangel.

I know it seems excessive to have written this one so closely on the heels of the last one, Edge. However, I want to test the 'free-giveaways' aspect of publishing.

Most authors I've met seem to reckon that a freebie is a good way to encourage readership, and they also say that the free books are likely to get around 10 times as many 'sales' as the paid-for ones. I was sceptical of this approach, given that a novel takes x hours to write and a further y hours to get ready for publication. If all we do is train people to expect free product then I'm not sure we are doing it right.

Anyway, I designed this novel to a specification. Less than 150 pages, so that it looks slim and not too off-putting. A similar cover style to the other novels and also that this one would be a lead into some of the other novels.

I've also tried publishing this one directly through Amazon, which I assumed would be a way to be able to manage the pricing.

I was wrong about that. Amazon wants me to minimum price it at 99p and then to put it through Kindle Direct Publishing. I've gone along with this at the moment, but it means I'd have to resort to tricks to get the price reset to 'free'.

Apparently, I need to put it onto another platform, price it low and then tell Kindle that there's the lower price. Of course, KDP interferes with this, saying that I can't do it, because I've given exclusivity to KDP.

I presume Amazon are trying to avoid a race to the bottom, where everyone is trying to undercut everyone else resulting in a West Texas Crude Oil pricing scenario for novels. The race to the bottom results in cutthroat competition and consumer expectations of lower prices may mean any eventual victors find profit margins permanently squeezed.

Meh, I'll leave it to rumble through the system now, which seems to take another 72 hours before it will hit the store. I have doubts about whether it will automatically link it with my other published books at that point.

It seems complicated, when all I want to do is have Amazon list it as 'permafree'. KDP won't allow that in any case and wants me to have a total of 10 days on special offer as free.

At this rate, this story of Christina Nott won't get read at all. I'm going to leave it to simmer for a few days and then decide whether it is worth republishing it through firstelement, with a different ISBN.

Wednesday 15 April 2020


Like many, we're in a world of Zoom calls now, with most people able to use it. I suppose we could be worried by the security concerns around the package, alongside everything else, but in the scheme of things it seems a less significant concern that the need to communicate. And 'X popular software has security concerns' is always a winning clickbait.

We've not been beset with problems, although one meeting I was in did allow a suspicious uninvited person as far as the waiting room. We worked out that it was an AI system and soon ejected it. Then there's the little situation of whether Zoom shares any data with, say, Facebook.

That leads towards the number of scams observed in the new world. The more obvious involve simple overcharging for products and services, but there's also a few new "Free Tesco Coupons" style scams too - which seem to me to emanate from Facebook.

Other, broader scams ask us to send all details to a friendly site in Beijing. Then there's the scams directly associated with the virus itself. Phishing and smishing social engineering.

Fake lockdown fines, HMRC goodwill payments, Free school meals... The list of scams goes on, mostly using the old techniques of FUD - Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt, to attempt to put one on the hook.

These are small-time compared with the market gamblers, who are stockpiling their cash and waiting to scoop up cheap shares. No wonder they are all asking the incessant 'are we nearly there yet?' style questions, so that they can line up their bets.

As Government minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg’s investment firm tells their clients it provides a chance to make “super-normal returns”. Somerset Capital Management (SCM), which manages investments in emerging markets, told clients that the dive in stock market valuations around the world since the pandemic took hold had made “excellent entry points for investors”

And now there's the debate about a V-shaped or a U-shaped rebound in markets. Hint: The U-shaped one is a much slower recovery than a V.

And then there's the weirdness from the USA. Now the so-called President is deflecting causality from himself by blaming the World Health Organisation, and simultaneously slowing welfare payments to hard-up Americans by insisting his name is featured on all of the cheques being issued. Electioneering or what?

'Never let a good crisis go to waste,' as Niccolo Machiavelli might have said.

Friday 3 April 2020


Today's post is a guest post from family member Geraldine, an NHS Professional. She's written this in her own Facebook and asked us to share it:

Just so I NEVER forget..... 3rd April 2020
Petrol at Sainsbury's was £1.05
School cancelled
GCSEs cancelled
A-Levels cancelled

Self-distancing measures on the rise.
Tape on the floors at shops to help distance shoppers (2m) from each other.
Limited number of people inside shops, therefore, lineups outside the doors.
Non-essential shops and businesses mandated closed.

Pubs, theatres, restaurants are closed.
Entire sports seasons cancelled.
Concerts, tours, festivals, entertainment events - cancelled.
Weddings, family celebrations, holiday gatherings - cancelled.
Churches are closed. Graveyards are shut.

Don't socialise with anyone outside of your home.
Children's outdoor play parks are closed.
We are to distance from each other.

Shortage of masks, gowns, gloves for our front-line workers.
Shortage of ventilators for the critically ill.
Panic buying sets in and we have no toilet paper, no disinfecting supplies, no paper towel, no laundry soap, no hand sanitiser.

Bread, pasta, flour, chicken and chopped tomatoes are sold out everywhere or in limited supply and purchases are controlled.
Manufacturers, distilleries and other businesses switch their lines to help make visors, masks, hand sanitiser and PPE.
All non-essential travel banned.

Fines are established for breaking the rules.
Police patrolling the streets of many cities.

Arenas open up for the overflow of Covid-19 patients.
NHS nightingale is opening in London to look after 4000 patients.

Press conferences daily from the government.
Decisions about our daily restricted life is reviewed every three weeks.
The government throws money at businesses to try to keep the economy from imploding. Grants and loans. The government to pay 80% of employees wages where businesses cannot continue to do so.
Daily updates on new cases and deaths.

The dead are denied wakes or funerals and barely anyone is allowed at the graveside. Max 10 at a funeral, possibly going to be further restricted.
Barely anyone on the roads.

People increasing wear masks and gloves outside.
Essential key workers are worried to go to work.
Medical field workers are worried about going home to their families.
Thursday nights at 8pm nationwide people go to their doorsteps to clap to say thank you to NHS and key-workers.

Children paint rainbows 🌈 on the pavements and hang posters in their windows. Toy bears are placed in windows to entertain children going on a bear hunt as their controlled once-a-day outdoor activity.

This is the Novel Coronavirus (Covid-19) Pandemic, declared March 11th, 2020.

Why, you ask, do I write this status?
One day it will show up in my memory feed, and it will be a yearly reminder that life is precious and not to take the things we dearly love for granted.

We have so much!
Be thankful. Be grateful.
Be kind to each other - love one another - support everyone.
Copy and share.