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Just wow

So, let's see if I've go this right...

Cruella got reprimanded for mishandling documents, but not people, and somehow managed to reclassify modern slavery as "illegal immigration" which, of course, she wants to cut.

Kwasi-what's-his-name had a champagne dinner with hedge-fund managers that made billions on the financial fallout...
...caused by his "mini-budget" that blew a mere £300 billion off of the value of British assets...
...not to mention the glaring £70 billion hole in the budget's economics...
...leading to utter chaos, with the Bank of England spaffing £65 billion up the wall in order to prevent a complete meltdown...
...though some people have made billions and others may find their pension pots are empty.
Try to imagine the scale of the losses. A tweet put it in the context of "£3,600 per hour, every single hour for 9512 years" (£300B) plus "£3,600 per hour for another 2219 years" (£65B).
In other words, it's about a fifth of the annual wage of a teaching assistant, every single hour, until the year 13,753. Well, 13,754 as it's almost the end of the year, but with a figure like that, a few months are neither here nor there.
Bankers have described the UK as "uninvestable". Even Sir Keir Starmer is acknowledging that if Labour should win the next election, they're going to have a ridiculous shitshow of a failed economy to try to contend with. Not his exact words, but the intent was pretty clear.

The IMF rebuked the government, twice, for causing "material damage" to the UK economy. Meanwhile Truss herself is saying she won't do a U-turn right before doing a U-turn. So many U-turns that nobody knows what way she's facing any more. Hopefully the god-dammed exit. Though I'm sure there would be quite a queue of people willing to dig a large hole to push her into. Anybody with a mortgage, for example...

A bunch of political scientists (The Chapel Hill expert survey) that estimates political positioning of major parties has taken the recent seismic shift of the Tories from '7' (moderately right wing; 0 is Cuban Communists and US Democrats/UK Labour rank as a smidgen under 4) to a simply unbelievable 9.4. This is to the right of US Republicans (with or without Trump). Jair Bolsonaro, Italian fascists...
In fact, it's the most right of 275 parties in 61 countries.
So if you're wondering why the markets are melting down even though Truss is U-turning on just about everything... it's partly because of this.

So as much as we over this side of the ocean might like to think that Republicans are completely batshit crazy, Truss's government's approach was simply "Hold my beer".

Meanwhile Truss threw Kwa-whatever-the-hell under the bus. Yup, she fired her own Chancellor for delivering a central part of her own leadership bid. He's gone. She's on life support, but like Johnson, clinging on like a reanimated corpse trying to crawl its way out of the burial plot.

During her last month as Foreign Secretary, Truss spent almost £2,000,000 on personal travel. In a month. She clearly has no sense of scale or proportion when it's somebody else's money. (context: the previous FS spent £67,000 in six months)

Elsewhere, the Port Of Dover said that they don't have a solution that is going to work for when the next round of Brexit-related border checks start in May. Lord Frost is saying that they should rebuild ties with the EU after many years of being a poster child for how great Brexit was going to be. The only person that still seems to believe in the holy sanctity of Brexit is Rees-Mogg, but he's not a real person, more a half-arsed caricature of a Dickensian evil overlord who is only in Parliament because he can't be placed in a secure ward because the carers are on strike and, well, he's less likely to do any damage there than out roaming in the real world.

Talking of strikes, the Royal College of Nursing held their first ballot in their entire 130 year history. Deadline for ballot papers is noon on the 2nd of November.
Meanwhile going on strike are railway workers, bus drivers, postal workers, and BT (telecoms) staff... with firefighters, 999 handlers, and paramedics currently being balloted, alongside teachers and nurses and... take a ticket and stand in line.

Because of the fuel crisis, the National Grid said there may be a risk of 3 hour rolling power cuts in the winter and that the government should put out messages of how people can help to save energy. The energy minister said that they're not sending that message out to people. Truss agreed, as she is notoriously ideologically opposed to helping anybody except herself...only to... yup, you guessed it, U-turn. Are you keeping count? Is anybody keeping count? Dozy bint U-turns so fast so frequently she might actually drill her way down through all seven rings of hell. We're surely on about the fourth or fifth one now (how many PMs have we had since the "Advisory" Referendum?).
Greg Hands actually said "The best way to prevent energy blackouts is to vote Conservative", despite that fact that it's the bloody Tories that got everybody into this mess and there's no election for people to vote for. Is this the result of the traces of cocaine found in minister's hotel rooms following the Party Conference (and that wasn't even the worst of it!)?

Meanwhile, Yay fracking! Go fracking! But not in the back garden of any seniour Tory. Just some shitty arse end of the country that nobody likes. Which presumably means "somewhere north of Cambridge".

The next PM may be Grant Shapps, Rishi Sunak, or - god help us - Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, again. Even though he's under investigation and left the Ministrial Code in such disarray that nobody's sure what the hell to do about the current situation. There probably isn't precedent for trashing an entire country on purpose.


It hasn't even been a month and a half (and you can discount two weeks for The Queen's funeral, and another two weeks for Party Conferences). So she's effectively been running things for about two weeks of actual governing... and it's gone from Broken Britain, breezed right through Buggered Britain, and is somewhere around Screwed Beyond Belief Britain. Alternative words to "screwed" are available and may be more appropriate.

There are even more stories which, once upon a time, might have made the front page of the papers (Senior Tory gropes...) but these days are so trivial as not to even warrant more than a few column inches in between stories about the best things to eat to avoid the menopause (actual Daily Mail story today) and some twaddle pushing products on Amazon (actual Daily Mail story today).

A General Election cannot come fast enough.


Well done Xiaomi

Update notification fail
Update notification fail.
So, does this mean everything needs an update, or that nothing does?

In case you're wondering why I don't like updating, most apps come with no update notifications. If you're lucky, you get "Bug fixes and enhancements" as the description. This sort of crap should be banned and an actual list of fixes pointed at.
Anyway, an update to the wallpaper carousel added - and I kid you not - the ability to swipe-right on the lockscreen to enter the wallpaper changer. Yup, you can mess with somebody's locked phone. Oh, and you can't turn this crap off. Whoever thought that was a good idea needs to be taken out back and shot.
You can defeat it. Go to the app permissions and block it from being shown on the lock screen. A person can still swipe-right, but all they'll get now is a blank grey screen.
Update two days ago mentions they've added a button to the lock screen for more wallpaper information. Idiots.


Connected scales

I wanted to buy myself some scales, as in weighing myself. Basic swing-dial ones came in at around €16 in the supermarket. Digital ones were about €25. Then they had a special offer on a "connected" model. €19,99.

Weight with clothing and a coat
Weight with clothing and a coat.

There is an associated app, of course there is. These things can't just work to any sort of open standard can they?
The app, which is actually pretty simple to use, requires an account. Name, date of birth, email address (a spamdrop one), and my height.
Communicating with the app was relatively painless with the exception of the requirement for GPS location. A pop-up on the app explained that they neither want nor need this information, but Android's data fettish overload requires GPS to be enabled in order to scan for/pair with certain classes of WiFi and Bluetooth devices. Allowing location allowed my scales right next to me to be recognised. Bloody Google.
Location off, I quickly whipped my clothes off and got a butt-naked weight of 74.2kg. Which puts my BMI at 26.3 (verging into lardarse territory). But I'm not overly concerned. In fourteen months I'll have to start pooping into a bottle every so often to screen for bowel cancer. So, given a choice between The Big C and a few Mars bars too many, I know which I'd be worried about. I know how C goes and it doesn't go nicely. Usually it's you that goes. Or, if you're lucky, just bits of you.

But I wasn't going to let Terrallion, or whoever runs their data service, get away without some trolling.
So, yesterday's dinner... 2,487g of cooked pasta, mixed with 800g of cheddar. That was washed down by a dessert of 900g (or twenty) Mars bars, all providing a nice 10,377Kcal of nutrition. 654% of my daily protein intake, 624% of fats, 464% of carbs, 189% of fiber (or fibre over here), and 283% of sodium. It, probably wisely, didn't display the sugar intake. But we can work this out from the back of the pack - one 45g Mars is 28g of sugars (31%) so multiplied by twenty would be 560g of sugar, representing 620% of daily intake.
Actually, to be honest, I find a Mars bar useful for averting headaches. Might be some sort of mild diabetes, but as far as I'm concerned, it's a quick easy solution that doesn't involve medication. Just... keeps my built-in shock absorber inflated. Well, can't win 'em all.
And... oh boy... since there's a pack of Mars bars on the table beside the keyboard... look, it's just one, okay? I mean, it's not like I'm eating fast food burgers any more these days...


Damn. Feel better already. ☺


I know what I'm like. Excuse me while I put the pack back in the kitchen and pop the kettle on for s'more tea.


Another coloniser

A couple of years ago, I got a little plant of a pretty looking daisy-like thing. Erigeron karvinskianus, also known as Mexican fleabane.

In 2000 (or 2001?) mom brough over a hanging planter with wild strawberry. You can now find little strawberry plants all over the place, the result of twenty-odd years of slow but determined colonisation. And the original planter is still going, I hide it from the summer heat and keep it watered.

Now? Those little pinkish daisies are starting to spread. I don't mind this, I'd rather have something pleasant (and fairly flat) than more brambles. They seem to like the same sorts of places as the strawberry. Competition, or companions?



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Anon, 15th October 2022, 19:44
Ah yes. May's Buggered Britain, pre-Boris. (I think the problem is they had May and Hammond in office without Clarkson, but there you go.) 
The mortgage situation. I'm counting myself fortunate. Not that my nearly-99-year-old grandmother finally checked out (she was losing it anyway, I think she couldn't wait to go!), cos, well, she was my last remaining grandparent. However, the eccentric old dear had stashed away a fair bit in investment bonds. With explicit instructions to use them to clear my mortgage. 
They matured at the beginning of September. I'm now mortgage-free. And had enough left to install a 4.5kVA solar PV setup on the roof. 
(1VA - Volt-Amp - is 1 watt with a power factor of 1. It's complicated. Rick - if you've done anything with AC electrical installations and reactive / inductive loads you're probably familiar with power factor.) 
Back to the point. I was fortunate enough to come into some money just before the financial brown smelly stuff found its way into the ventilation system. I sympathise with those that aren't that fortunate. My mortgage repayments would have gone from £499 up to £650, and £700 with the latest increase. Another £200 a month for basically nothing. 
The solar PV is covering around 80% of my electricity usage, and this is in mid-October, after the autumn equinox, with days that are often overcast. The other day when it was sunny all day the system generated 20kWh of electricity between sunrise and sunset. My daily use is around 14kWh. This means when summer comes I may actually be able to afford to run the air con. 
Now there's just the issue of sky-high fuel prices. Petrol has dropped back to around £1.60/litre, but diesel is still at about £1.85. My car runs on diesel. Maybe I should just fill it up with chip fat?
Rick , 15th October 2022, 20:28
Apparently you can use chip fat in your car, but you have to record how much so you can pay fuel duty on it. It's ridiculous, but there was a case regarding this in, if I recall, Cardiff last year. 
Rick, 15th October 2022, 20:40
Oh, and you can't pour veg oil into a diesel unless it's an ancient unsophisticated engine, viscosity is completely wrong. 
It can be transformed into biofuel, but it's not exactly the sort of process to do in your garage (or your inner pyro might get more than it was expecting). 
The price of fuel is one of the reasons that I'm not bothering getting a driving licence. Every 10-12 days I drop around €18-20 into my car (I fill when it's about half empty). The prices showing on the pumps nowadays are simply scary... some women with an Audi. Nearly €110 (about 55 litres, IIRC). WTactualF?!
Anon, 15th October 2022, 22:45
Understandable. (Mine is an Audi too, with a diesel engine as mentioned.) It's certainly not "unsophisticated", it has a whopping great turbocharger bolted on to it and a computer to control the whole thing. Full drive-by-wire. 
The fuel tank is 65 litres. A couple of months back I let it run right down to the red (had to run the tank nearly to empty as I'd put some Redex cleaner through it - it's a 2007 model, not a brand new one). So I pulled up at the pump, started filling up... the pump then shut off at £99. I then had to reset the pump and go again to put the last almost-third of a tank in to fill it right up. 
£130 for a full tank of fuel. This is the Quattro model (not a Q-series SUV, it's the A4, a regular 4-door saloon) with the 65-litre tank. The front-wheel drive version has a 70-litre fuel tank (no prop shaft or rear diff so the tank can be slightly larger). 
On the upside, it will go over 600 miles on that before it needs more diesel. If I'm careful it'll do over 700 between fill-ups. 
Something tells me if I actually did pour chip fat into the tank the computer might throw a hissy fit. There's actually a sticker on the inside of the filler cap that says "no bio-diesel" in German. Apparently it'll eat all the valve seals and cause the engine to emit large quantities of smoke from places other than the exhaust.
David Pilling, 16th October 2022, 01:37
"The central bank had earmarked £65bn to be sent buying up the bonds, but by close of play Thursday it had purchased just £17.8bn, with the highest daily total at £4.7bn." 
I don't understand, but I guess the BoE is buying back its own debts. Like paying back a loan early. Maybe at a price no one else wants to pay, but since some of them are 30 years, it might turn a profit if interest rates in the long run are not as high as the markets expect. 
UK pension funds hold of the order of 800 billion pounds of gilts. 
Anon, 16th October 2022, 02:00
Even more powers against protesters and measures against strikes are about to be announced as well.
Rick, 16th October 2022, 07:31
Oh my... My tank is 16 litres. I can get about 30km/l, which means I have a capacity of around 480km per tank. Twice that is roughly your 600 miles. Which would cost anything between €50/£44 (€1.64/l) to €62/£54 (€1.96/l) to do the same distance you're talking about. 
Granted, you could do it in 8½h at ~70mph as opposed to my... cough... twenty hours. ;) 
Anon, 16th October 2022, 09:56
(The poster at 2am was a different Anon!) 
If I stick to 70mph on motorways in 6th gear I'd probably get 750+ miles out of a tank. Still, ~50mpg is pretty good for a fairly large saloon car with all-wheel drive. (The front-wheel drive diesel will do 60mpg+, but at the expense of eating a set of front tyres every 6,000 miles. All that torque plus a massive anvil sat on top of the front axle.) 
I believe the type of car you have was featured on a James May "Car Years" type programme. If memory serves you can drive a "micro-car" in France without needing a licence. To prove this, May sat a 15-year-old girl in the driving seat and set her off around town, pointing out that this was perfectly legal and legit in France. Then asked "why don't we have these in the UK?" 
Apparently you can buy an Axiam-type car over here, but you still need a full licence to drive it on the road. And insurance. And road tax. 
Am I right in thinking they have a 2-stroke engine, or am I thinking of the Peel P50?
Rick, 16th October 2022, 13:17
My "new" car: 
Going for a drive: 
And the last time I drove my first car, including an under the bonnet camera to watch the mechanism. 
Rick, 16th October 2022, 13:29
You can actually drive cars like mine from the age of 14, but you need to do eight hours of lessons if you were born after... 1981? Something like that. 
Here's a teenage girl talking about it in English: 
And the exact same thing, only this time in French:
Anon, 17th October 2022, 00:27
2-cylinder, not 2-stroke. (The dipstick gives it away.) 
On the one hand if presented with one of those my first response would be "nice, have you got one for the other foot?" However, on the other hand, if you live in a country where micro-cars like that are actually road-legal without needing a full licence (eg France) and just 8 hours of driver training without the need to take a test (a bit like the CBT here for motorcycles), they're a bloody good idea. 
Unfortunately the British government never cottoned on to the idea, so it was kinda dead in the water. 
Just watching that video of the girl with the car (in English), I noticed the speedo went up past 80. Thought that was being a bit optimistic then realised it was kph not mph! 
As an aside though, having had the chance to drive a vehicle with a 79-litre diesel engine that was pushing out 2,500hp I kind of lost interest in the whole fast cars thing. Comfort is more important.
J.G.Harston, 17th October 2022, 19:15
I'#m in despair because I've now done THREE Parliamentary boundary reviews and we were all relieved that phew at last *this* one will get implemented, next June is in sight. And then the government engages in competative circular firing squads with the country in the middle, and we'll end up with *another* early election and *another* cancelled review. 
J.G.Harston, 17th October 2022, 19:19
All you different Anons, can you pick different pseudonyms so you don't all use the same handle. ;)
Rick, 17th October 2022, 19:43
Why do you need to keep redoing them? Can't you just change the date and print it out? I mean, it's not as if the boundaries are going to suddenly change when nobody is looking...
J.G.Harston, 17th October 2022, 21:09
Because people keep moving around, and keep breeding, damn them. Internal passports would sort this. Plus breeding licences. 
The 2013 review was abandoned because, well, basically too many MPs were upset with their seats vanishing. More practically, it was a dog's breakfast trying to both reduce the number of seats *and* improve electoral equality at the same time. They should have done one or the other, not both at once. 
The 2018 review was abandoned because Theresa May went for a walk in the country, and had the great idea of calling an election. 
The 2023 review finally got under way after the Commissioners insisted that the review be automatically implemented by presenting it to Parliament next June, removing the power of MPs to amend or delay it. 
Current constituencies were first used in 2010, having been drawn up in 2005, with elector numbers from 2000. We're close to running on boundaries that are 25 years out of date. 
J.G.Harston, 17th October 2022, 21:14
My mistake, the 2018 review got all the way to being presented to Parliament, and then Boris sat on it and refused to implement it, then called an election and abandonded it. One thing I can't blame May for. ;) 
That was one of the reasons the Commissioners insisted the current review automatically goes straight into force by simple act of handing it in.
David Pilling, 13th January 2023, 12:44
Visitor from the future here. That David Pilling above does not know what he is talking about Treasury and Bank of England are different. Anyway here's a headline from today "Bank of England's unprecedented bond market intervention yields £3.8bn profit 
The Bank of England was forced to intervene after then chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng's mini-budget sent markets spiralling." 

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