rashbre central: 2022

Sunday 25 December 2022

Seasonal Analogue Games . A slight return.

Survivors of rashbre central's previous seasonal festivities will know that there's a certain point when the silly hats and party games make an appearance.

Not the tv-gaming variety, but analogue games involving old wrapping paper, sticky tape, fruit and the like. For the convenience of others, here's a few sure fire winners, which can be played at everything from amateur through to full Pro standard.

Required items: Wrapping paper, sticky tape, magazines, newspapers, highlighter pen, pins

1) Guess the name : Yes - simply providing the guests with paper hats or pin on labels which they can't see with the name of a sleb (celebrity) on it. They have to guess with the Yes/No answers. Classed as an icebreaker. Marilyn Monroe, Ed Sheeran, Frankenstein, Albert Einstein, Jason Bourne, A.Royal, 007, Mickey Mouse, Madonna, Lady Gaga, Billie Eilish, Ronaldo. You get the idea.
2) Dress the person : Kinetic Game, two teams: 2-5 minutes. Select someone to be dressed using either old wrapping paper or a couple of recent magazines or newspapers.
3) Kipper racing : multiple teams. needs a long clear indoor space. cut or tear a largish fish shape from a sheet of wrapping paper or anything similar to hand. Add detail such as a hole for the eye, maybe a dorsal fin. Lie them flat on the floor and give other team members further sheets of paper/magazines to use to create air currents to propel the fish from a start line to a distant improvised finishing line.
4) Tell a tale : Pre select some groups of 7 unusual words from a magazine or newspaper article. Hand them to each team and and ask each team member in turn to tell a story using the seven words. Other teams have to try to guess the words.
(Example words from random article : luckier; heterosexual; chevrolet; banana; promoted; quitter; eggs. and from another page: emissions; cruise; leisurely; overcome; scoop; howling; endurance...you get the idea.)
5) Pass the orange : Why wait until after the dinner has finished to play this game? goes great with coffee.
6) Pictionary: drawing fast pictures based upon words. The boxed set is best for this one.
7) GrEEn GlaSS dOOr : The person in charge suggests playing this and that everyone else can try to be selected to go through the green glass door by suggesting appropriate pairs of things. Things that get in are a pOOl but no water; glaSS but no picture; MiRRor but no reflection (ie the first thing needs a double letter in it.. Play till last person gets it)
8) GGD variants : Play GGD (7) where instead of double letters, each sentence said by the next person has to start with a vowel "...and blah blah bla; ...or blah blah blah ...obviously" and another variant vowel/then consonant and another variant is start with next letter of alphabet.
9) Alphabet Game : Choose topic (Animals, Cars, Candy Bars, Popstars, Drinks). Start at A and round robin through to Z.
10) Stirring the Mush : Announce you are stirring the mush and (eg stand up, sit down, scratch your ear etc). Then start stirring the mush by any hand/body gesture you like. The invite someone to copy. the trick is thay have to do what you did BEFORE you started stirring the mush (eg scratch ear etc). Tell them whether they have passed or not then select next 'victim'. Repeat until all have worked it out.
11) Erect-a-pup : More newspaper for this two in -oner. Part one. Teams. who can make the longest tube in 2 minutes from rolled up paper? Sounds easy. Just watch what happens. Part Two. Now, in another three minutes make a model life sized puppy out of tubes of newspaper. Warning that some puppies will have 3, 5 legs at the end of this.

I think that's enough to get started. No animals harmed in the testing of these entertainments. You'll have to email me for the (ahem) rules of the frying pan and wooden spoon game...and don't forget charades!

*this post first appeared in 2008 and although it has had minor changes, I have left in the technorati tags.

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Saturday 24 December 2022

Santa Calculations 2022

santa claus

Time to republish the Santa Calculations, which I first published back in 2006 and then updated in 2010. Then I was using 7 billion as the world population. Now its 8 billion.

Firstly, here's the link to the Santa tracking system created by NORAD.

For those of you who are more interested in the technology of Santa, NORAD's FAQs provide the following:
NORAD Sleigh technical data
I've again used the Joel Potischman and Bruce Handy calculations as the basis for the speed calculations, with my own adaptations:

The most notable corrections to be applied are:

- Santa delivers no gifts to naughty children (not even coal)
- Naughty to nice ratio is 1:9
- As confirmed by NORAD, one Santa distributes all of the gifts.
- There is only one family per household.
- Santa bypasses non Santa belief system houses.
- Reindeer have recently eaten fresh magic acorns.

Santa passes Big Ben
Calculation Assumptions (2022):

- World population = 8.06 billion
- Children under 18 = 2.689 billion (Hmm may be higher)
- Global Santa based belief systems: 33%
- Max children requiring delivery therefore 887 million
- Children per household: 3.5 (may seem high?)
- Number of households requiring distribution 253 million
- Naughty to nice factor applied but not many all naughty households
- Remove all naughty households (25% 0f 10%) = 6.3 million
- Eastern orthodox using Jan 5 instead of Dec 25 = 18.2 Million
- Target Households = 234.8 million on Dec 25
- Estimated child bed time 21:00 (9pm) with 7 hours sleep.

(child sleep duration on Dec 24 may also require revision)

Gives circa 31 hours (24+7) for all deliveries
Time is 1860 mins or 111,600 seconds

The average number of homes to visit per second = circa 2096.
So average delivery per household is circa 500 milliseconds, which is why Santa normally appears a bit blurry (I previously thought it was the sherry)

Land surface minus Antarctica is around 79 million square miles. Distribute destinations evenly = 0.7 miles between households creating a total distance of circa 110 million miles.

So 110 million miles in 31 hours = 3.6 million miles an hour or circa 1000 miles per second or Mach 4770 at a linear speed.

This explains Rudolph's red nose because of air resistance creating around 20 quintillion Joules of energy per second, which would convert a non-reindeer nose to charcoal at such energy levels. I think the acceleration and deceleration per household may also need some examination.

Luckily Santa has lots of special powers so these mere physics facts are no problem to such a superhero.

Wednesday 21 December 2022

It's almost Christmas. Time for a Central Heating failure F1.

Almost Christmas. The ideal time for the central heating to go wrong. we were getting an F1 error on the boiler. It means insufficient pressure. 

I did the usual things with a radiator key and that 'U' connector to refill the pipes and it worked again for a bit, but then failed again with the same error.

 I worked out it must be more than a simple DIY problem. Except when I contacted various plumbers no one was available. 

 I had to turn to physics.
The inside of our boiler is like something from NASA. But I realised that there must be an expansion tank inside for the radiator water. Check out the right hand side tank. It can't be simply a reserve tank, because it needs to maintain a certain pressure. 

 That's how I worked out that the expansion tank inside the boiler is cleverer than it looks. And why it has a bicycle tyre valve on it. Check out the middle of the steel tank.  

The water must go into a bladder where it can expand but gets pressurised from surrounding air in the tank. Compress air not water etc. (real physics)  

The expansion tank air, if insufficiently pressurised, won't create the starting pressure for the boiler. 

 So what to do? Don't try this at home etc. I thought it was a case for Joe Blow. I found my bike tyre pump, conneted it to the pressure vessel valve and pumped it to just under 1 bar. It only took about three pump fulls to do this. The boiler pressure was restored and hasn't given any more F1s since. 

An odd repair, strangely satisfying.

Tuesday 20 December 2022

christmas cars

I've been doing some of that pre-Christmas driving recently. Many miles, Congestion Charge zones, ULEZ etc, yet - now - because I've gone electric, I don't have to pay. Well, okay £5 for 300 miles worth of fu-u-el.

I'd semi forgotten about London Traffic though. I was on the road by 06:00 but already stuck in a huge tail back on the M25. Meh. I remembered my old commute by car would mean leaving home by 06:20 to get on the M3 before half past and that way I'd miss the rush.

And coming home in the evening, I could land at Heathrow, be out of the airport by 20:00 and then drive along the M25 and onto the M3 in - yep - a traffic jam. Maybe I didn't get back to LHR until 9pm. Traffic jam. From Norway, I'd be one of the last out of T4. M3. Tailbacks. Pah.

Now I've moved to the Wild West, we have a traffic jam in the morning from about 8:45 until maybe 09:00. I try to avoid it, but don't get me started on tractors. Of course I understand that CLAAS 660 drivers are up before dawn and want to be putting their lovelies away by daybreak. And they do beat any SUV for the school run.

Monday 19 December 2022

also fun going backwards

The thing about a blog is it goes backwards as well as forward 2022
2019 2018 2015 2014 2013 2011 2009 2008 2007 2006 1999

Wednesday 14 December 2022

Tesla: worth a punt?

I'm wondering about EV car stocks and shares. Some will say it is a fool's mission to play the stock market [INSERT SCARY WARNING HERE], but I can't help wonder whether here's a unique situation at the moment because of the state that Tesla's shares are in. 

They have dropped to about half of their start the year position and therefore could be seen as a bit of a bargain. The drop is consequential on the twitter shenanigans and various short-sellers throwing out rumours about the share price. 

But consider: the company has a gross margin of around 25%, which is ridiculously high for the automotive sector. VW is 6.2% and BMW and Ford are about 15%-16%. Additionally, it had a suite of Gigafactories just to produce EVs. A couple of these (Berlin and Austin) are only ramping up production at present, from around 60k/Qtr compared with the Shanghai Giga factory at 250k/Qtr. 

Other manufacturers are repurposing their gasoline vehicles to electric, leaving the transmission tunnel in place and making a few cosmetic changes to the exterior. They say it is so they won't scare the client base.  A client base buying a legacy adaptation. I followed an electric beemer along the road the other day and it even had the two cutouts for the dual twin tailpipes.  They surely miss the point about a paradigm shift (I know, extra consultant bingo points for that mention).

The predictions are for Tesla to ship around 500,000 cars in 4Q22, which makes a total of around 1.4 million vehicles. Consider that BMW produces 2.2 million or 2.5 if we include the Rollers and Minis. Conceivably Tesla could be bigger than BMW in another year. 

Assuming that there will also be a Tesla share buyback during 2023, the share price could rise, in line with both the results and the effect of the buyback.

But I also look for ideas and the rumoured Tesla Model 2, or whatever, is of immense interest. It reminds me of our Alfa Guilietta. If a denuded Model 2 comes in close to $25,000 then it could be a real challenge to the lower end, knowing it will come with the same chipset and operating system as the high end vehicles. 

Now factor in the truck and the improved so called self driving, and we have a string of interesting enhancements. 

But let us not forget Tesla is down 51% year to date. Rivian is on life support at down 74%, Nio has dropped 61%, and even Ford is down 36% over the same period. 

The difference is that Tesla is kitted out with Gigafactories ready for pure EV production.

No recommendation here, just an observation.

Friday 9 December 2022

Thursday 8 December 2022

Strange Games : Slow Horses S1 and start of S2

I should have posted about Slow Horses sooner, but the second series (aka Dead Lions) has just popped up on Apple TV. 

It's been sympahetically redrafted for television and has some cracking actors including a shapeshifting Gary Oldman and ice-cold calculating Kirsten Scott Thomas. There's a London atmosphere often in close so the exact setting isn't immediately obvious unless you've been there. 

Plenty of the action takes place at night or in dimly-lit bars or cellars, yet the filming of the series is like the olden days of film noir when they knew how to put haloes around people and brighten up the pieces where there was action. Even an out of focus baby alarm is dramatically filmed. I really appreciate that they've taken some care over making the dark parts watchable. It is the same with the narrative jump edits. Something as simple as going up some stairs will have two 'up closes' and a flicker of a long view between them. Nice and almost non-linear - they didn't have to, but they did anyway and all the better for it. 

 Then there's the blend of dialogue between serious spy talk and bits of ribbing banter and occasionally daft scenes that just get sprung - like the jammed car CD playing Coldplay.

I can see the setup of the Slough House department with its manilla civil service folders is similar to the way the off-the-books setup is played in Killing Eve, and I wonder whether there were any inspirational points borrowed between them? 

 Gary Oldman, who has also played Le Carre's George Smiley, seems to take a delight in this world turned upside down view of espionage. Put all the slow horses (presumed failures) together and rain down often un-PC abuse upon them. A sure fire formula, but I'm not sure for what, exactly. 
I'm enjoying this series: 
  1. Because it forced me to go back to the first series and watch it all over again. 
  2. Because we are now only on book 2, and I'm eagerly waiting for episode 3 to drop. 
  3. Because I know there are at least five more books in the Mick Herron series. Oh yes, and Mick Jagger wrote and performs the theme. 

Wednesday 7 December 2022


 I'll be off to my Stammtisch later for Weihnachtsfeier und Geschwätz. Sad to see that actions of rogue right populism have now leached into the German system, creating an attempt to storm the German goverment buildings. 

 These far right protestors are using the ant-vax capaign to drive support for their wider goals. They previously used Merkel's acceptance of migration and fears of islamisation. 

The AfD (Alternative for Germany) uses its legitmised position to cultivate dissent and even includes 83 members in the German Parliament. Infiltration is part of their modus operandi. 

A German military KSK (Kommando Spezialkräfte) special forces unit was disbanded recently because it contained many extremists. Discovered buried in the garden by police, a Sergeant-Major's house had two kilograms of plastic explosives, a detonator, a fuse, an AK-47, a silencer, two knives, a crossbow and thousands of rounds of ammunition, much of it believed to have been stolen from the German military. 

Some 48,000 rounds of ammunition and 62 kilograms of explosives have also 'disappeared'.

Tuesday 6 December 2022

art of the dodge

Remarkable that the dodgy ex-president has now been found guilty on 17 counts of financial crime including tax fraud. How remarkable that he can bounce free from this with a mere $1.62 million fine, which I expect he will contest. 

Plenty rests on a Mr. Weisselberg, who struck a plea deal with prosecutors. Weisselberg admitted that he had reaped about $1.8 million (ie more than Trumps fine) in indirect and hidden compensation, allowing him to evade hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes. The benefits included a rent-free apartment in a Trump building overlooking the Hudson River; leased cars for him and his wife; and Trump-paid private school tuition for their grandchildren.

The above 2018 art installation inside a Trump hotel hinted at what was to come. I wonder how many others are hoping to avoid the searchlight?

Trump is naturally calling it all a witch hunt.

Friday 2 December 2022

enemy of the state? A supermarket hack, man

It has become slightly annoying visiting a wall-known supermarket and innocently setting off the theft alarms when I leave. I decided to ask the security guard what was happening and we experimented with my jacket, then phone and then wallet.

I was convinced it was the phone and had even seen other people complaining about similar effects, but in the end it turned out to be my wallet.

Apparently a single RFID card won't cause it, but put several together and their combined signal is enough to trigger 'modernised' supermarket systems. 

The security guard was quite helpful and suggested I needed an RFID-proof wallet. A truly first world problem?  I could remember enough schoolboy physics such that I could line my wallet with aluminium foil and it should block the signals like a Faraday cage.

It would work like the one that Gene Hackman used in The Conversation and then reprised in Enemy of the State, only much smaller. They are like those mesh bags they give out at some concerts to put one's phone in. 

I also discovered that there are credit card sized anti-RFID cards which can be placed dierctly in the wallet. They are also triggered by the same scanner frequencies but then send out jammer signals. Now that is worth trying, although I expect I'll be tapped on the shoulder again.

Sunday 27 November 2022

Our Tragic Universe

I originally trialled mastodon back in 2018. It was much more of a DIY project back in those days and I even tried setting up a home made decentralised server. I did my usual thing of setting up a test userid, but now I can't find it. Like those bitcoins I left on a server that I eventually scrapped. 

C'est la vie. 

This time I followed a message from Scarlett Thomas, which took me into the world of Mastodon. Thomas has been a positive influence on my attempts at novel writing and also the appreciation of the artifact of a book. A couple of her marvellous black-edged paper novels continue to inspire - The End of Mr Y and Our Tragic Universe. 

Mr Y freaked me out with ideas of homeopathy in a parallel univese and Tragic Universe plays big with these ideas, blending cosmology, physics, tarot and foxy narrative theory, Our heroine(s) in both books wend their way through asking many questions including whether they are a superbeing. I realise that my own novel The Watcher must have been subconsciously influenced by these ideas. 

And at the prosaic end of fun, Tragic Universe also - even after ten years -  has a particular new-book inky-aroma from the pages, which works well if you open it slightly and dive in nose first. 

Penhaligons, take note:  'He's got his nose in a good book' etc. 

And back to Mastodon, and its 7 million subscribers. A subtlety is its distributed nature. Instead of big central servers, the architecture of Mastoden requires the servers to be spread around. Add to that the inconsistencies of the User Experience, different on a web browser from within a smartphone App. 

I can't help think there will be a tipping point when the Signal to Noise tragically increases to the level of other well-known social platforms. I'm following an experimentally curated set of users to see the way that things change. 

Or not.

Thursday 24 November 2022

#LTN: watching and waiting

Twitter has become the news in its own right, a little like some journalists who stumble into the story. I'll bide my time to see how it plays out. After all, many well-known names have been around on the system for a long time. I guess I'm also a #ltn (low twitter number) 

Anyone can find out this stuff.

Despite all the naysayers, I suspect Musk will weed most of the pile-on-noise-merchants out of the system.

But then, I'm holding economically priced Tesla shares as well, since they temporarily became discounted.

Wednesday 23 November 2022

tout va bien - A Book of Days - Patti Smith

I've been reading Patti Smith's new book - A Book of Days. It proto-blogs years of her experiences across art, music, photography, poems and features many great moments from a life. Every day of the year features a picture and a short text. 

It's a work of loving art.

I first obtained her music - Horses, - with that Robert Mapplethorpe photo of her emulation of Rimbaud, back when I had a red Ford Escort and worked in Germany.
The cassette - long since gone - accompanied my trips from Ostende to Stuttgart.

Then later - Just Kids - a slim memoire of her relationship with Mapplethorpe all the time continuing music and art. 

In the new book she features many: Murakami, Camus, Kurosawa, Lou Reed and Martin Luther King. Hendrix and the Electric Ladyland Studio where she made Horses and argued with producer John Cale. There's Virginia Woolf’s bed with its embroidered bedspread, Georgia O’Keeffe’s with a more humble covering ; Frida Kahlo’s with a spooky black skeleton above it; John Keats’s, which 'seems to contain the luminous dust of his consumptive nights'.

She holds a Polaroid Land Camera 250 on the cover of the book, which she used in earlier times to take the photos. Later, on her daughter Jesse's advice, she took to Instagram, where she now has many followers.

It's a book to dip into as well as read. There are so many inspirations, given and personal.
8 January
‘As a young girl, I admired the skater’s attire, eventually adopting the look as my own. The plate belonged to my mother who always tried to make me wear bright colours. The skater won out. He dwells beside my copy of Ariel, given to me by Robert Mapplethorpe in 1968.’

Tuesday 22 November 2022


I'm not watching that football thing. Even as many others are queueing up to see it.

They are staying at the ritziest of hotels, where the sponsor's beer costs $29 a bottle. And fine dining on sliders, which are complementary if you buy 5 bottles of beer.
I suppose if you want to get away from it all, the 60,000 berths of budget priced guest accommodation in shipping containers at £200 per night, might suit.
Surely FIFA is having a laugh?

Friday 18 November 2022

let the alpha birds sing?

I heard from a little bird that there's been a resurgence in interest in Friends Reunited (2000-2016) over the last few days. I wonder why? 

I'm reminded just how many social media systems have been out there and flopped, including Google+, Vine, Friendster, Periscope, Meerkat, Buzz, Friendfeed and (almost unbelievably) still hanging in there, MySpace. 

Useful characteristics of winners are that they must be simple, work on phones and make it easy to copy information to appear to be smart. Photos- especially selfies - help, too. 

Some consumer insights are useful. According to the graphs, I'm a Boomer, although my interests span far wider. Now look at the Generation Alpha (2010-2024) influences.
The incoming and outgoing technology makes for interesting reading. As does the 2.2 billion Generation Alphas by 2023, now we have a planet with over 8 billion people.

Thursday 17 November 2022

Deeply unfashionable

Blaming Boris might be unfashionable. So might blaming Brexit, which I'm told has been expunged from the Conservative lexicon.  Only the con part remains.

Thus I know I'm deeply unfashionable, because I can still consider these six-year aberrations as a starting point for the mess we are in. The 'long, unpleasant journey' as some Middle Englanders may call it.

Monday 7 November 2022

twitter as a metaphor for life on mars?


I was a low serial number twitterer. I watched it grow and the signal to noise ratio worsen. Then the sheer dumping of extra spam into my twitter feed as the SEO businesses muscled in. No, I don't want your protein pills and my shirts are fine, whatever label they bear. Now we can watch as the whole noisy and increasingly self-referencing platform gets dis-assembled. We can wonder if it will ever have its original promise again. Mars colonisation ?

Thursday 3 November 2022

round trip with sound

They say it is indistinguishable from magic. Advanced technology. There I was, on my 430 mile round trip, and I'd asked the car to play some music. 

"Play Regina Spektor," I said and it had selected "What we saw from the cheap seats." 

I let it run and then noticed that in with the album were mixed a few other tracks, which eventually took over the play list. I could understand if they were 'curated commercial tunes' but this was "Neutral Milk Hotel' and 'The Magnetic Fields'. Even a track by Nico and several by bands I'd never heard of, but all (with a few exceptions) good to listen to. 

 I compare this new car with the sounds played on my prior one, which were mainly from a connected iPod which had 160Gb of tracks I'd downloaded from iTunes/Music. 

This car is permanently connected to the Internet and so has a few more tricks up its sleeve. But the music. It really is excellent.

Wednesday 26 October 2022

gyre and gimbal

Oh well. A few weeks ago I was away in Greece and we changed Monarch.This time, away for a few days and we seem to have changed Prime Minister...again.

It seems that there is a limited talent pool, because I gather that the contenders included the has-been slug from the Premiership-minus-one and the runner-up from the recent selection, voted upon by the finest brains of the membership.

This time, a panic to prevent a further vote, after the frabjous and blatant lies from the slug who pretended to have enough Parliamentarian votes. Vorpal sword time. Snicker snack. Ironically, if his bluff had worked and he had got through to the next round, we'd have probably had him back in power.

Rishi Sunak has his work cut out. I still blame Johnson the most. He was partying hard at the pole wheel, in between his copious vacations, including during term-time. There are no words. 

Truss was the unconsciously incompetent replacement and now we have Sunak as the consciously competent one, although perhaps about to be dragged into the mire by some of his so-called associates. 

Hasta la próxima.

Thursday 6 October 2022

Movin' on down

Johnson didn't set the controls on the plane so that it would crash into a cliff face. He was much too busy squandering political capital to think about steering. 

Truss picks up the plane when its front view is all of that rapidly approaching cliff face. A new leader so new political capital? Not this time. Walking on stage to Heather Small singing the M People anthem - "Moving on up" - shame no one vetted the lyrics.

"You’ve done me wrong, your time is up

You took a sip from the devil’s cup

You broke my heart, there’s no way back

Move right out of here, baby, go on pack your bags"

Insta-squander. She lives in a bubble of unselfawareness. Her attempt to unite her party has become, instead, one to ignite her party. Crash, Crash, Crash.

She talks about growth yet is now 38 points behind Labour in national polls. A highlight of her speech was the interruption by Greenpeace, which gave her a chance to adlib over the perfectly valid point raised by Greenpeace that nobody voted for her ideas. 

t was telling that she chose to aim at an “anti-growth coalition” whose members include a nameless elite who “taxi from North London town houses to the BBC studio". She looked pleased with herself to pull this off although it's all London-speak, no doubt been prepped by a speech writer. It also sailed clumsily close to the 'elite from North London' - a phrase usually eschewed nowadays.

The subverters are lining up: 'worst (conference) since the 1970s', 'It feels like we've already lost', (accusations of) 'organising a coup', 'get a grip', no mandate to reverse the 2019 manifesto (Gove), 'if we don't want to deliver on the deal, we need a fresh mandate' (Dorries). And I have;t even got around to Mordant, Shapps or the dislikable Rees-Mogg.

Still, she can recover discipline wth hard line tactics, credit piracy and blame avoidance. 50 MPs of the 357 Conservative MPs backed her in the first round. She can tell the rest they must back her or they are sacked, or at least tarnished with reputation damaging innuendo. Some would call it cutting her way to glory. Some one should tell her it doesn't work. 

Let us consider:

  • a cost of living crisis
  • stretched public services
  • interest rate rises
  • a big jump in mortgage payments
  • escalating cost of fuel
  • the market's fiscal uncertainty
  • decline of the GBP
  • losses on the stock market

These are not the traditional signs of growth. Although maybe she wants to start from a low place?

Wednesday 5 October 2022

a different kind of arm waving

I can't see this Growth, Growth, Growth thing that Truss is talking about. 

She copied the Blair 'Education, Education, Education' triplet of 1996, but having just seen that TV show about 'Would you like to be a Prime Minister', it all came across as, well, a bit like something from The Apprentice.

I checked a number. The FTSE. Share prices aggregation, from when Truss took over to now. Its about a 3.39% drop, drop, drop. We're scraping along just over 7,000. No wonder there's a new tranche of US Funds being launched.
Then I tried the GBP to USD. Without the forceful intervention of the Bank of England the GBP would be tanking now. Tank, Tank, Tank. The problem that it creates is that interest rates have moved up and thus the price or mortgages, which has caused almost 1,000 products to be pulled.  Fall, Fall, Fall. The one thing that is growing is the cost of mortgages. Fail, Fail, Fail.

Then there's the trashing of the environmental pledges. The levelling down of the cabinet. The threats to her own party if they don't stay loyal.
Truss can still remember the chants and how to read the autocue. Shame she can't read the numbers.

Tuesday 4 October 2022

competence is a long road

I remember that management thing about 'consciously incompetent' and 'unconsciously incompetent' etc. I think I worked out the prior Prime Minister on the scale, and I think I've a clue about the current one. 

The thing is, I thought that the previous mendacious buffoon would only last a short time, but I was wrong. Three years to steer the plane towards the solid rock face and then to abandon the controls. Whoever haplessly picks up the stick after this was probably on a hiding to nothing. I want a large proportion of the blame to stay with the last person though. 

But a new pilot who imagines she is great and wakes up every morning thinking, 'what would a Prime Minister do today?' could be significantly dangerous. Ten year gilts up 4.3%. Emergency bond buy-back totalling £65 billion. Sinking pound until bale outs. Mortgaging tomorrow. Sorry kids, you'll have to pay for it. 

I suppose the 81,326 shamelessly unaccountable party members who made the unconsciously incompetent decision that we get the current leadership can dig in and say its for the best. 

We have an unmandated leader who hasn't even noticed the manifesto. Her answers to questions are like Thatcher's. A broken record of 'select track and play'. I know they are trying to backpedal now, but the situation illustrates how they have no depth at all in the hollowed-out remains of the Conservative Party. 

If that oh-so-loyal Rees-Mogg and his cronies have their way then there is much elite hay to be made at the expense of everyone else. The encouragement to champagne-fuelled hedge-fund managers to bet against the GBP shows how we are being manipulated by the people who are building the UK Freeport and Casino.

And what's the point of giving anyone else a say in any of it? Not colleagues, not the cabinet, not even the press. Just bankers shorting the pound. Let's add in threats to dissenters with their removal from the Party. Loyalty or bust.

Levelling up? I don't think so when seven times as much of the revised funding goes to London as to the north. Rees-Moggs' levelling up is to flatten large swathes of the north and make it into fracking sites.

I can already hear the slithering into position of others who believe themselves to be heir or heiress apparent. Trouble is, they are as unconsciously incompetent as the ones in power.

Wednesday 28 September 2022


I used to advise some energy sector clients and this inevitably means hanging around in corporate entrance lobbies waiting to see individuals. One that particularly struck me was a lobby showcasing fracking and the extraction of oil from sand. I seem to remember it was a Canadian story and the walls of the room had a few pictures. 

Recently, I've seen Jacob Rees-Mogg break cover to smooth over the fracking story with oleaginous contempt for any challenges.  I remember being dismayed by those original lobby pictures I saw, so I wondered what 'levelling up' stories would now be applied to the UK. I see one right wing newspaper is saying how great it is that the north of England has so many fracking opportunities. The potential appeals to  'Red Wall' country?

The Cuadrilla maps don't quite tell the whole story though. By looking at a geo-survey of aquifers and shale it is possible to see that the target zones could drop right into the rich Tory heartlands of the south-east. One of those red squares appears to land on Guildford. Hold that thought.

I remembered the lobby depicted activity around Alberta, so I thought I'd take a look at how things are going. Here's a picture of the effect around an oil sands bitumen recovery site.

An example mine would produce 260,000 barrels per day of bitumen at its peak, cover 24,000 thousand hectares and — during its 41-year lifespan — tap into reserves in the neighbourhood of 3.2 billion barrels. 

The bitumen requires processing to turn into oil, although some places directly burn the bitumen to generate power. It is all a messy business. 

I haven't mentioned the shale gas yet, which is a euphemism for methane/methanol and is the other main target of the frackers. Hydraulic fracturing – commonly known as fracking – is the process used to extract shale gas. 

Deep holes are drilled down into the shale rock, followed by horizontal drilling to access more of the gas, as shale reserves are typically distributed horizontally rather than vertically. Fracking fluids containing sand, water and chemicals are then pumped at high pressure into the drilled holes to open up fractures in the rock, enabling the trapped gas to flow into collection wells. The drillers explain that it entirely safe, aside from the occasional accidental fire.

From there it is piped away for commercial use. Methane is 25 times more toxic to the environment that carbon dioxide, so we don't want any of it to escape.  

This is another messy business and incorporates a few extra pipes and gadgets.

If all goes well, then there's money in that there Red Wall. 

If it goes wrong, we could see a few earth tremors or even some light flooding of the landscape - just like in Alberta.

A steady flow of oil leaking from the ground across four well sites includes the latest covering up to 40 hectares, according to the Alberta Energy Regulator. No one knows how to stop the leaks, which are ongoing.
Above ground the search for sites continues...

But Rees-Mogg insists it is all okay.  Is this what was meant by levelling?