rashbre central: December 2020

Monday 14 December 2020

Hancock's flights of misdirection #Covid #Covid-G #Covid-GR #COVID-GH #COVID-V #COVID-S #COVID-L #COVID-O


If I hadn't been writing my recent novel, I doubt whether I would have stumbled across this recent set of science. It is from Daniele Mercatelli and Federico M. Giorgi and was written up in Daily Science last August. 

They looked at a wide bunch of COVID cases and sequenced the genomes. And guess what? They found seven variants of COVID. There was the original Wuhan one and six others, including the three G clades with are referred to as G, GH and GR and create around 75% of the COVID infections in Europe. Check out the graphs below to see the distribution of the COVID variants. Now Matt Hancock has chosen today to release information about 'a new COVID Type' which he implies is ravaging the south east of England. He claims it has just been found by UK's world leading scientists. 

I can't help thinking he is telling fibs to get off detention. Why not tell everyone about the various types - back up his findings with some science? Because the variants have all been around since the first UK lockdown. Some of the variations are unable to create the spike proteins. The Wuhan variant isn't even the main one in play now. It all changed in February.

Analysis of 48,635 SARS-CoV-2 genomic sequences. Think of it like a mag tape reader reading blocks of data, delimited with tape headers, block headers and then chains of actual data. Then squirt some oil and iron filings into the heads to create some distortions.

A load of fairly predictable transcription errors occur. Sometimes a block gets skipped or accidentally misread. Then in the world of Messenger RNA (like a mag tape) the genomic sequence can be messed up. 

Genomes have 4 neucleotides: U C A G. It only takes a few Cs to be converted to Ts (Terminators) or As to Gs and it all starts to look different. Fortunately there are only a few common mistranslates, as follows:

or, graphically, by region.
In particular, clade G, prevalent in Europe, carries a D614G mutation in the Spike protein, which is responsible for the initial interaction of the virus with the host human cell.  Other interesting variants are clade V (variant of the ORF3a coding protein NS3-G251), and clade S (variant ORF8-L84S)
The G clade has three variants G, GH, GR and that makes up 75% of the population of the virus. (See the Europe chart at top)
Within a 10% variation, there is a massive prevalence of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) over short insertion/deletion events (indels) worldwide and in every continent. 
Ignoring the crud, you get SNP and SNP_silent as by far the biggest variable affecting the chain and creating the majority of the common variations. So look, Matt, even within the current pandemic, your NHS is handling the seven variants, but with G as the strident one and ironically the Case Zero 'S' type almost at zero now. Mid Feb was when the two extra Gs split out GH and GR. GR is now the largest and G the second, In Europe, all the Gs account for around 75-80% of cases. Then L and V.

So I'm worried now that you are running spin. Announcing the 'new variant' on the same day as London Tier 3 to run some deflection? My questions are whether you know about this stuff and are doing it deliberately? - not good - or whether you don't know or understand this stuff and are doing it unwittingly? - not good also. There was something in the manifesto about taking back control. I'm not convinced.

Sunday 13 December 2020

Robber Baron alert

We all forgot that Boris doesn’t function off-shore. Someone else compared him to one of those supermarket trollies along Cromwell Road which refuse to go past the boundary of  Waitrose. But I suppose the supermarket trollies have some utility value.


Boris tried his usual gimmicks. Attempting to get around the chief negotiator with sly off-camera phone calls didn’t work. Neither does it help to slag off the head of another major EU stakeholder. 


Then he brings back a selection of half-truths about the real negotiated position, ably supported by the Daily Mail which is talking about the UK having to crawl over broken glass. Pah. A Bojo invention if ever I heard one. Oh yes, and don’t get me started on the gun-boats.


I’m reminded of the equally underwhelming David Davis negotiation, when he could not be bothered to turn up for the first 18 months. It was as if he had been let into the secret that all the smart Tories would just short everything to make a lot of money.


Let’s see: £4.6 billion of aggregate short positions on a no deal Brexit, taken out by hedge funds that bankrolled Johnson’s leadership campaign. Maybe £8.3 billion of aggregate shorts taken by the Vote Leave campaign representatives.  


I know, maybe maxing the shorts at £12 billion doesn’t sound a lot, compared with the amount that Boris has been shelling out in all directions recently, but the profits from a UK pound collapse go into individual oily pockets rather than to State initiatives. 


It is somewhat reminiscent of the build-up to the collapse of the Russian state a few years ago, when robber barons were able to buy banks, lend themselves money and sell off the state at knock-down prices. I wrote about it in Play On, Christina Nott.


And Boris is being economical with the truth, too. The current EU offer to the UK is a deal in which if we align, we get full access. Then, if in future, we diverge they limit access or put up tariffs on the areas of variance. Maybe its his last-minute salvation move?


But it would be too simple to go for that, when No deal and all that fat cat profit-taking is the other option. 


Johnson really is useless and hand-wave histrionics across a fish supper with Ursula don’t show off his Etonian manners in a good light. He is simply out-classed and out-manoeuvred. So what if Johnson negotiated in bad faith throughout? Rees-Mogg and the Understains from the ERG had told him that No Deal was the target outcome. I’ve not checked the new version of the 600-pager, but I have a big suspicion that it doesn’t look much different from the one that Theresa May produced. None of the Cabinet have spoken up though. It shows the reach of his tidy little Whatsapp group, whipped by the Quad.


The devastation created from a no-deal exit will spray out across the entire country. We will all be punished, through an economic downturn. Struggling areas will be hit the worst. Ex red-wall communities will be levelled down. 

 But what about sovereignty? The ability to make our own decisions. It’s another lie. We had so much influence from the inside of the EU that we could make our sovereign decisions count. Except when that annoying frog-eyed man tried to sabotage everything.


Johnson keeps doing TV straight to camera with an eye for the History Books in 20 years time. It should all be seen for what it is, the posturing of Mr ‘Oven-Ready’ the Liar, unable to handle statecraft on behalf of a nation. 

Friday 11 December 2020

The Australia Effect

When not digging a hole for himelf, Boris has told everyone that his new (not a No) Deal - will be like Australia. I think he probably means it will be like a World Trade Organisation Tarrif-based arrangement. 

We can expect the oelaginous Mr Gove to spread treacle over that soon in one of his clear explanations. 

 Boris is trying now to organise a hole through the earth to provide a short cut for the trading route. I decided to take a peek at Australian Trade with the UK. I was going to compare it with the EU trade. But I decided not to bother after I'd looked at the first couple of charts. Here's Australia imports from the UK
And here's Australia exports to the UK
I decided to compare it with firstly France
Alone, the Australian figures were one-third of the French ones, but it is not so obvious on the de-origined graphs. So, I thought I'd build my own. I decided to do UK exports to Australia, France and Germany. Just to see what it looked like.
It needs to be enlarged to see the detail. Suffice to say that Australia is Blue and the other two countries are much longer lines. 

Maybe the hustler has forgotten to follow the science on his last (non) decision? Here's Australia as a line against France and Germany. That's 2 of the 27 EY countries.
Face palm unbelievable.

Thursday 10 December 2020

boris unspooled.

The final stages of Boris are unspooling today. 

He's done what we all expected. Been such a buffon that he frittered away the entire negotiating time to leave Britain with a Jacob Rees-Mogg-friendly No Deal.
who's laughing now?  

During the great fire of London, some of the wealthy had time to bury their wine in pits. Samual Pepys even buried his parmesan cheese. The ERG crowd will have secured their futures, some of which will be off-shore.

Everyone was expecting this no deal situation so it has been baked into the FTSE and FX numbers for months. Even a deal now will really be a lightly flambéed no deal.

It's about the only part of the 'easy-peasy' deal that could be considered oven-ready. 

I'll be interested to see how the Pomps bluster their way through explanations over the next few weeks and which of the inappropriate idiots will start to position themselves to boot hapless Boris out. 

 Usually in Project Management there are three dimensions from which you can have two but may have to sacrifice the third: for example Scope/Time/Cost. 

The clown has managed to have three things but been unable to achieve any of them. Sovreignty/level playing field/fishing waters. Not only that, he has mixed up the dimensions in a 'Power Station and the Bike Sheds' manner. 


Wednesday 9 December 2020


Arriving in his comfortable EU-manufactured Merc, Bozza eats a long oven-ready fish supper. Not sure which EU country caught the turbot though.
Then the photo-op. 

Instead of BoJo waving his hands around we see Ursula's gesture on the front pages.

 'Je suis désolé'

or not.


Sunday 6 December 2020


It's a whole week since the Govester gave stuttery oozy conflicting advice about whether Scotch Eggs were a substantial meal on the telly. 

Three interviews and two completely oppositional positions. 

I can remember when Scotch Eggs were a part of the London scene. Extended after hours drinking was available from some hostelries if they had a food and drink licence. 

These were not the finest of clubs, let me add. 

The condition for ordering, say, a beer was that you had to have some food. Roll on the Scotch Egg. Not a whole one; maybe a quarter egg? Insubstantial, but it served its purpose. 

And the stats? 260 kcalories for a whole Scotch Egg (thats slightly more than a Mars Bar) - listed on the main courses menu, compared with 774 kcalories for a pasty. or 1,440 kcalories for pasty with chips. 

West Country substantial.

We should ask Gove and the other blusterer about waffle. 

Wednesday 2 December 2020

Novel Chapter Heading Inspiration from PHP8

Big Sur wasn't the only system change over the last few days. The Ed Adams website also received notification of changes to PHP (Personal Home Page). I fastidiously implemented the latest version for several of my sites, but then had to revert to the prior version, when I discovered that a few of my sites simply disappeared. 

So I'm running on PHP7.4, instead of the very latest - released today - PHP 8.0.

However, I looked through the system descriptions for the PHP 8 changes, I realise that they will make some cracking chapter headings in my next novel. It has a working title of "Corrupt" and a plot-line that, I think, is almost imaginable, especially with some of the latest Gove denials about passporting.

Anyway - Inheritance with Private Methods - has got to be a chapter about some ways that my fictitious characters pass on their property to others. 

Then there is Constructor Property Promotion. This can be a chapter featuring dodgy property deals, agreed over a handshake and a wink. Then there is Allowing Class on Objects. This can be transformed into a riff about the wrong school tie, or similar. Phew, I'll leave this one to the imagination for the moment, but it could make a whip-smart chapter title about Belgravia townhouses.