Well here we are at the end of May 2020 and still under ‘house arrest’ here in our home in Wales because of a virus that has an infection fatality rate similar to flu.
Admittedly it’s not a bad place to be ‘holed up’ as you can see from the photo I took yesterday when we got up at 4.30 to walk up the otherside of the valley to watch the sunrise at 5.08 a.m. I’m sure many reading this will look at the photo and say ‘what is he complaining about?‘.
I can’t really imagine what it must be like to be trapped in a small flat or an H.M.O. with an abusive partner or to be struggling with mental health issues or a million and one other things whilst being unable to leave home.
The freedom to leave your house when you wish to and go where you will is not a civil liberty or a political liberty. It is part of being a free man or woman. Those who do not have it, who fear being scolded like a child, fined and disgraced for being out on the street without government approval, are like serfs tied to the land they work. So sorry, officer. I won’t do it again. Only it is worse. Those who willingly accepted this subjection were previously free, thanks not to themselves but to forebears who first won and then repeatedly preserved their liberty from threats within and without.
Then this generation of morons came, and undid the work of a thousand years in a few weeks. Worse, in a way—they gave away something they had a duty to pass on undamaged to their children. They did not even raise a word of protest. And they did not trade in their birthrights because soldiers cut them down in the fields, or foreign soldiers lounged in the streets with machine pistols, or secret police threatened them with death or labour camps. They did it because they could not be bothered to think or argue or object. They did it because ignorance is the new normal.
Here in Wales the Welsh government are particularly barking mad wanting to be seen as ‘stronger and better than England’ in the crisis. I’ve tried writing to engage my Welsh Assembly Member or as they now call themselves – Member of the Senedd. So far my democratic representative Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price has ignored one letter and two emails from me since March. Quite how I’m meant to engage with our ‘democracy’ is a mystery to me when the bloke whose wages I’m partly paying won’t talk to me I don’t know.
Again I did try writing to my MP, again Plaid Cymru, Mr Jonathan Edwards. I sent him a detailed email with a number of links to scientific papers. He wrote back to tell me that he didn’t believe in ‘herd immunity’ and that Consultants had told him that 600,000 people in Wales were at risk of becoming seriously ill. As I write this several weeks later a grand total of 13,913 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in Wales (not seriously ill by the way) and 1,331 have died (mostly elderly with comorbidities) – seems your consultants were way off the mark there Jonathan (just as I told you)
Anyway it’s great to know that he knows way more than the Nobel prize winning scientist Professor Michael Levitt
I really should start taking my MP Jonathan Edwards more seriously since he managed to get arrested last week as well. What a busy boy.
England has started to ease restrictions but here in Wales that has changed very slightly. The latest measures here in Wales which tells us that we’re allowed to leave our homes to meet friends outside, but have to stay local and within five miles. Yes you are seriously at risk of transmitting a magical (and fairly normal) virus whilst driving around in your car.
However the scary part when this was announced was that Mark Drakeford, the First Minister of Wales and Leader of the Welsh Labour Party, said “we are offering people permission…” Sorry? I thought this was a free country? I understand we have emergency powers in place, but shouldn’t the politicians be talking about “we are returning some of the civil liberties we have withdrawn” instead?
I should of course write to my democratic representatives to point this out. But the one won’t reply to me at all and the other might be too busy involved in discussions with his solicitor.
Meanwhile to cheer myself up here is a great video that is both funny and very scary when you observe how compliant people are.
“All our wisdom is stored in the trees.” ― Santosh Kalwar
If anyone has read my last few posts (links on the menu on the lower right) you will know that I have become very disillusioned with our world and the lack of people thinking critically about Covid-19. This excellent interview with Professor Sucharit Bhakdi sums up where we are now.
But in a rare spurt of positivity during Covid-19 ‘lockdown’ as it is euphemistically known I decided that I should do something to celebrate how lucky we are to live through this ‘house arrest’ in such a beautiful environment. To this end I thought I should take a photo that represented our current situation. Liz even modelled her bum for you (probably a first and last for this blog).
We went to talk to the ancient oak trees that are at the top of our field behind the house. Liz walks up here most mornings to have a conversation with them. Possibly to tell them what a ‘stupid twat’ I am and probably because they are much more likely to give a sensible reply than your average human being at present.
Walking back down I still can’t believe how lucky we are to live here in these current times. Indeed I can’t believe how lucky I am to have known Liz for nearly fifty years and how she is still my best friend.
Trees are magical in so many ways and a week or two ago our ancient wood was resplendent with bluebells as you can see below.
The rest of the valley where we live is a very special place. I can’t imagine the day we have to leave here because we have become too old, as one day we will if something else doesn’t get us before then.
A year or two after we moved here we decided to plant several more acres of trees. You can read about that and see some photos in an early blog post here. Since then Ash ‘die back disease’ has killed many of the Ash trees we planted. Most of the others are doing alright and we fill in gaps and carry out some maintenance where we can. But overall a new wood is starting to emerge that will become home for wildlife and perhaps another human will come and talk to those trees when they are old and wise. Even the bluebells are slowly starting to naturally spread here. Perhaps the trees will tell them of the stupidity of humans in 2020.
Meanwhile down on the river Cothi which runs very close to our house the trees were a delight in their new spring green colours. This is a favourite picnic spoke sat on a rocky island that appears when the river is low. Just us watching the ‘pond skaters’ skating across the surface.
So that was Monday the 18th May 2020 when I decided to tell the handful of people in the world who might read this (in the midst of a man made disaster that will kill millions around the world, crash the world economy and herald in the ‘new normal’ of state surveillance, traumatised school children and enforced vaccination) that there is a chink where the light can can get in – but you will need to listen to the wisdom of trees to understand how to let it in.
I am struggling very hard to understand how the whole world became ‘taken in’ by Covid-19. How a simple Coronavirus, that causes a disease with a fatality rate similar to severe flu, managed to change our world for ever. How the whole world scarpered headlong, without thinking, in one direction like a herd of Wildebeest. There are a number of theories for this but I won’t dwell on those here. However, because of a new virus, for reasons of safety, security or health, the State of Emergency has been instigated, and continues to be used, to build a form of totalitarianism that, under new and renewed crisis events, has become the norm.
The so-called ‘War on Terror’ that followed the attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001 ushered in what the US calls the ‘Security State’ in which we have all lived for the past two decades. In France, the State of Emergency declared in November 2015 in response to terrorist attacks in Paris didn’t expire, after five extensions, until November 2017, two years later, when it was replaced by a raft of repressive measures embedded into ordinary law. And as we are seeing now in the response of the UK Government to the so-called threat of COVID-19, this surveillance state, which is transnational and therefore transcends the nation state of our parliamentary politics, is built around the total surveillance and control of the population through the use of tracking, location and monitoring devices in our phones and other communication technologies, and implemented with new police powers to enforce so-called health and safety regulations that have had neither parliamentary scrutiny nor legislative approval.
So I wish to ask a question as asked by the Italian philosopher, Giorgio Agamben and I have translated and rephrased his question (as best I can) for a British audience – as I don’t speak Italian I’m sure the original is much better; but I hope that you get the gist of it.
‘The plague marked the beginning of corruption for the city. No one was willing to persevere any longer in what he had previously considered to be good, because he believed that he would perhaps die before achieving it.’
— Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War
I would like to share with whoever would like to hear it a question on which, for over a month now, I have not stopped reflecting. How could it happen that an entire country, without realising it, has collapsed politically and ethically in the face of an illness? The words I have used to formulate this question have been carefully weighed one by one. The measure of abdication of our own ethical and political principles is, in fact, very simple: it is a question of asking ourselves what is the limit beyond which we are not willing to renounce them. I believe that the reader who takes the trouble to consider the following points cannot fail to agree that — without realising it, or by pretending not to notice it — the threshold that separates humanity from barbarism has been crossed.
1) The first point, perhaps the most serious, concerns older citizens and the bodies of the dead. How could we have accepted, solely in the name of a risk that could not be specified, that individuals dear to us and human beings in general should not only be discarded from hospitals to nursing homes to die alone, but — something that had never happened before in history, from Antigone to today — that their corpses should be buried without friends at their funeral?
2) We then accepted, without too many reservations, solely in the name of a risk that could not be specified, limiting, to an extent that had never happened before in the history of the country, not even during the Second World War, our freedom of movement. We consequently accepted, solely in the name of a risk that could not be specified, de facto suspension of our relationships of friendship and love, because proximity to our neighbour had become a possible source of contagion.
3) This was only possible — and here we touch on the root of the phenomenon — because we have split the unity of our lived experience, which is always inseparably made up of body and spirit, into a purely biological entity on the one hand, and an affective and cultural life on the other. Ivan Illich has shown us, and David Cayley has written about the responsibility of modern medicine in this regard, which is taken for granted but is, in reality, the greatest of abstractions. We know very well that this abstraction was created by modern science through resuscitation devices, which can keep a body ‘alive’ in a vegetative state. But if this situation is extended beyond the spatial and temporal confines that are proper to it, as we are trying to do today, and becomes a sort of principle of social behaviour, we fall into contradictions from which there is no way out
I know that someone will rush to respond that we are dealing with a situation that is limited in time, after which everything will return to how it was. It is truly strange that we could repeat such a statement other than in bad faith, since the same authorities that proclaimed the emergency do not cease reminding us that, when the emergency has been overcome, we will have to continue to observe the same directives, and that ‘social distancing’ — as it has been called with a significant euphemism — will be the new organising principle of society. And, in every case, what we have accepted submitting to, whether in good faith or in bad, cannot be reversed.
At this point, since I have declared the responsibility of each of us, I cannot fail to mention the even more serious responsibilities of those who would have had the duty of keeping watch over human dignity. First of all, the Church, which in making itself the handmaiden of science, which has now become the true religion of our time, has radically repudiated its most essential principles. The Church, under a Pope who calls himself Francis, has forgotten that Francis embraced lepers. It has forgotten that one of the works of mercy is to visit the sick. It has forgotten that the martyrs teach that we must be prepared to sacrifice our life rather than our faith, and that renouncing our neighbour means renouncing our faith.
Another category or persons that has failed in their duties is that of lawyers. For some time now we have been accustomed to the reckless use of emergency decrees through which executive power is effectively substituted for that of the legislature, abolishing that principle of the separation of powers that defines democracy. But in this case, every limit has been exceeded, and one gets the impression that the words of the Prime Minister, as was once said of those of the Führer, have the immediate force of law. And it is not clear how, once the temporal validity of the emergency decrees have been exhausted, the limitations on our freedoms could, as is asserted, be maintained. With what legal arrangements? With a permanent State of Exception? It is the duty of lawyers to ensure that our freedoms are maintained; but the lawyers are silent.
I know that there will inevitably be someone who will answer that the sacrifice, which is serious, has been made in the name of moral principles. To them I would like to recall that Adolf Eichmann, apparently in good faith, never tired of repeating that he had done what he had done according to his conscience, to obey what he believed to be the precepts of Kantian morality. A rule which states that good must be renounced in order to save the good is just as false and contradictory as that which, in order to protect freedom, orders us to renounce freedom.
Following on from yesterday’s post about Covid-19 ‘The Illogical Nonsense of Fear‘ I was so impressed by this recent Facebook post (below) allegedly from a doctor at Broadgreen Hospital, Liverpool that I have reposted most of it below. As it neatly answers the question “Why is the lockdown continuing as we were told it was to ‘flatten the curve’ meanwhile the NHS is currently running on empty.
“What was the aim of lock down? What did every single health “expert” say was the reason to justify a lockdown? And why do we have a Flu season at all? And why have we continued to have a steady incidence rate despite being in lockdown? And why are thousands of elderly people dying in nursing homes?
The reason we had lockdown was to “flatten the curve” or buy time to increase ITU/critical care beds. Well with 4 nightingale hospitals mothballed and 50% of hospital beds lying empty, I think we have achieved that.
Not one “expert” worth his salt will tell you that we can stop a respiratory virus, and if they did they would be lying or I am deluded and we have no common cold or Flu cases every winter. So with a fifth of the country likely to have already had the virus and a health service with a massive amount of level 2 and level 3 beds, we are more than ready for a second spike, as it stands. Remember we cannot lock down forever and we need to come out, which brings me on to the Flu season.
Why do we have a flu season? The main reason we have a Flu season is because as it gets cooler people coop up and spend more time in close proximity, the population becomes denser and therefor it’s easier for a virus to travel, also people tend to eat less fruit and veg and see less sunlight and our natural defences are slightly depleted, sound familiar?
The longer we stay locked down, the closer we will be to the next Flu season, so essentially you will be hitting a second spike as people begin to mix, late summer early Autumn which will be just as the next Flu seasons hits, so a second spike will lead nicely into a third and if you want to overwhelm the NHS then this is the exact way to do it.
Lastly why are so many elderly people dying of COVID, well it’s largely down to the paranoia that people are displaying on platforms like facebook. GP’s are not assessing elderly patients face to face, they are not being taken to hospital or they are terrified to go to hospital incase they get COVID, so they stay at home until it’s too late.
Strokes are down up to 70%, where have these patient gone? MI’s down 50%, Hospital attendances down 90%, where are all the falls?? But why do they all have COVID signs?
Well anyone who has worked with elderly patients, and I suspect lots of you have, will know there are multiple reasons an elderly person can develop a pneumonia (COVID symptoms). They might fall and be in pain therefore not fully expand their lungs and develop atelectasis and then pneumonia.
They may have reduced mobility, due to quarantine, and become constipated and this may push up on the diaphragm and cause atelectasis or cause them to vomit and aspirate leading to pneumonia.They may develop urinary retention and UTI, secondary to constipation, and become bed bound, causing more time in a prone position and develop a basal collapse of the lungs and again atelectasis and pneumonia. The fact that they have reduced mobility may even mean they spend more time in bed or just sitting, which again is enough to cause chest infection/pneumonia.
Strokes may not present (they aren’t) and develop swallow issues and aspirate leading to pneumonia, MIs may present late and develop pulmonary oedema with a secondary infection again leading to pneumonia, and many may have a cold or a Flu (which is down 95%) and go on to develop a pneumonia.
All of the above reasons would cause a patient to have COVID symptoms and will kill elderly patients if not treated, and all of them are enough to be classed as a COVID death currently. And this is why so many nursing homes are being decimated, it’s as much through fear as it is through COVID.
Before you campaign and sign petitions to lock yourselves and your family away, remember also that lock down has consequences.
The first 2 reasons are clear above, the elderly will become frail, not be treated and die in their thousands, and thousands of people will not attend A&E at all, or until it’s too late and again will die. This is before you factor in the 60 thousand cancer patients that will lose their lives because of missed screening or delayed operations. And then there is the burden on mental health services and the deaths caused by domestic abuse or suicide. And that’s before the biggest killer by far which will be austerity.
We are heading for the biggest recession in 300 years, the last one has cost an estimated 500000 lives, why will this one be any different? And even with the lock down measures prolonged, will we have saved any lives any way, as our frail residents face a second and third spike in quick succession.
I understand that you my be scared and its overwhelming being constantly bombarded with negativity and fear, but before you completely isolate yourselves and fall out with loved ones and friends, ask yourself is lockdown still working, and what are the potential benefits of staying locked down versus, carrying on with some semblance of a normal life?”
So here we are mid way through May still under house arrest because of a pathogen that is now proven to be about as deadly as severe flu. This fact has been clear for a long time and I wrote about that at the end of March. Thousands are dying now because of the collateral damage not the disease. It is simply complete and utter madness.
I just cannot believe how society has fallen for it. I’m particularly depressed at how the ‘Left’ in the UK have fallen for it ‘hook, line and sinker’. I had associated those on the left as being capable of more critical thought but in the main it has been left to the likes of Peter Hitchins in the Daily Mail to be pointing out how flawed the whole thing is. Never in my life did I think I’d be linking to a Daily Mail article.
The ONS also released data yesterday about registered deaths in England and Wales in Week 18 (April 25th – May 1st). All deaths are down, including those involving COVID-19. You can see the year-to-date trend lines in the ONS graph below:
The total number of deaths in Week 18 – 17,953 – is lower that the previous week but still 8,012 more than the five-year average. 6,035 of the deaths mentioned “novel coronavirus”, meaning 1,977 excess deaths in that week weren’t from COVID-19, at least not according to the doctors who signed the death certificates – and, remember, they don’t even need a positive test result to write down “novel coronavirus” as the cause of death.
So why did these people die? When he appeared on Marr on May 3rd, Sir Bob Diamond, the head of the ONS, said the ONS had looked into the cause of non-Covid excess deaths since the beginning of the year and would publish its findings “in the next few days”. Evidently, he was nobbled because that piece of work has yet to see the light of day. Here’s a transcript of what he said on Marr:
The last week we had records for the excess was approaching 12,000 deaths of which, I would suggest, between eight and 9,000 were Covid and the rest were what we call indirect deaths. Those could be for example people who would normally have gone into hospital for some reason but the beds were not available. Just give you an example: in my late mother’s last couple of years of her life she went into hospital and back out again a few times. Had she not been able to go in one of those times she may well have died a little earlier than she did. So I think it’s important to recognise there are indirect deaths as well as the Covid-related deaths. We have a piece from the Office of National Statistics that we’ve done jointly with the Government Actuaries Department, the Home Office and Department of Health coming out in the next few days which will show also a third group which will come out over the next few years where changes in the prioritisation of the Health Service, for example, reductions in cancer screening, will lead to deaths over the next few years.
So ask yourself why has this data has been delayed ? – may be because the Government doesn’t want to face the enquiry that might be needed?
All this hysteria and panic is made even more alarming by Joe Public’s inability to assess risk. Even if you accept that at the time of writing there have been around 33,000 deaths associated with Covid 19 (there have probably been less as anecdotal evidence is that Covid 19 is being put on death certificates without supporting evidence) this is not serious. At this stage the frightened rabbits will poke their heads out of their burrows and tell you how ‘every life is precious’. Well if it is so fecking precious love why the feck have you been driving your car everywhere and contributing to the culling of at least 40,000 (more recent studies say 64,000) people every year from air pollution? The Royal College of Physicians’ report ‘Every Breath We Take‘ points out that ‘Each year in the UK, around 40,000 deaths are attributable to exposure to outdoor air pollution which plays a role in many of the major health challenges of our day’.
If your life is really so precious (and we know that Covid19 particularly affects those with conditions like obesity and diabetes etc.) why the feck have you been stuffing yourself with junk food and clearing the supermarket shelves of booze for your incarceration rather than taking the opportunity to lose weight and get super fit to fight this ‘scary killer’? In reality no one will bother to take the opportunity to reduce their risk factors; the ‘fat feckers’ will still be stuffing their faces with high fat foods whilst ‘snitching’ on their neighbours (who take more than the permitted exercise) whilst waiting for the government to protect them.
If anyone can explain the logic of an ‘off licence’ in Wales being essential and a walk in the Brecon Beacons being illegal please do so.
As for this whole phenomenon of ‘snitching on your neighbours’ I have been thinking how this behaviour is very familiar elsewhere.
It’s a basic and dirty part of human nature, that when we are scared and hurting, we look for someone to blame. And it is far, far easier to turn our attention towards people who are as weak as us for answers. Then the problem is right there in front of us, it’s tangible, it’s far easier to solve. You see it time and time again throughout history, in all kinds of people, in all kinds of situations. It’s posting about Belinda three doors down who had a barbecue with too many people. It’s narrowing your eyes at a disabled person getting out of their wheelchair and walking at a pace you deem too fast. It’s keeping your community safe from ‘People Who Don’t Belong’.
It’s much nicer to feel a sense of pride and accomplishment when you put a stop to those people, those people who you think are causing all your problems.
It’s much more enjoyable to have a real tangible person to take out all that pent up rage on, someone you think deserves it, someone you think is making your world unsafe. You’ve been oppressed for too long, and you’re scared and lost and angry, and it’s so, so nice to take all that frustration and put it to good use, to take all that righteous fury and focus it on ‘The Enemy’, the solid and tangible creature who is the source of your problems. That’s a fight you can win.
But it’s not a fight, not really. All it really is is a power trip at the expense of vulnerable people. Vulnerable people just like you. And you’re doing exactly what those in power want you to do. You’re not a hero. You’re a victim of brainwashing and the sense of power you feel is just an illusion.
The reality is that Covid 19, almost exclusively, is a disease that affects the elderly – especially those with other health conditions. In many cases these are the elderly in nursing homes who are cycled in and out of hospital for stabilisation before being returned to their nursing homes. Back in early April, to free up as much hospital space as possible, the care home beds were being filled up with elderly COVID positive patients. Because of the crisis they were not sent back to hospital when they then deteriorated. We have just been harvesting the elderly who are normally kept alive by this merry go round. Don’t believe me? Well here is a doctor in the UK telling it like it is and saying just this. Two members of my family work in the NHS and tell me that the general wards are very quite indeed.
“Our policy was to let the virus rip and then ‘cocoon the elderly’,” he wrote. “You don’t know whether to laugh or cry when you contrast that with what we actually did. We discharged known, suspected, and unknown cases into care homes which were unprepared, with no formal warning that the patients were infected, no testing available, and no PPE to prevent transmission. We actively seeded this into the very population that was most vulnerable.
“We let these people die without palliation. The official policy was not to visit care homes – and they didn’t (and still don’t). So, after infecting them with a disease that causes an unpleasant ending, we denied our elders access to a doctor – denied GP visits – and denied admission to hospital. Simple things like fluids, withheld. Effective palliation like syringe drivers, withheld.”
I am fairly confident that the excess death curve you see above will fall eventually to below the five year average and that the overall deaths for 2020 will not be very far away from the previous five year average.
When you ask people why they are running around hysterically panicking, or why they are posting on Facebook about how they don’t want their children to go back to school yet (despite the fact that as of yesterday only 10 people under 19 had ‘possibly’ died of Covid-19) they look at you as if you are mad. It’s mass hysteria, like when Princess Diana died and mountains of flowers and teddy bears were being piled up because some vacuous, rich clothes horse had died.
The economy has been trashed, driven over a cliff. You and your children and their children will be paying for the biggest economic disaster ever. Remember that without an economy there is no health care, education or infrastructure.
At the time of writing the ‘rich’ world is in a state of panic because a Coronavirus threatens the way of life of billions. Many countries are in ‘lockdown’ and here in the UK extreme emergency legislation has been enacted to confine people to their homes to restrict the virus transmission. At the time of writing this 39,014 deaths world wide are reported, since it was first discovered towards the end of 2019, by the John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Centre.
The above sounds fairly serious and indeed it is for those that have died and their relatives. However, the figures do not distinguish between those whose deaths were caused by the virus and those who happened to have the virus when they died of something else. In the vast majority of cases those that died are likely to have been elderly or suffering from some other conditions. They are also more likely to be smokers or have other risk factors.
In any event around 25,000 people will die of hunger or poverty today and I’ve not seen any wall to wall 24/7 hysterical news coverage about that anywhere. Why? Because it affects ‘non people’ in poor countries- people who are viewed as being of low value to those of us in the west. Incidentally around 100,000+ people die in the UK every year from (mostly preventable) coronary heart disease. No one has closed down McDonald’s or brought in emergency legislation requiring people to take mandatory exercise.
6.—(1) During the emergency period, no person may leave the place where they are living without reasonable excuse.
What is really scary how people have happily given up their freedoms. This has been exacerbated by various Police forces in the UK operating outside of the law.
And whilst isolating and reducing transmission rates, where this can be done, are clearly a good thing the legislation is draconian. There are various exemptions such as being able to leave the house to exercise (mysteriously once a day in the case of Wales) but many Police forces such as Dyfed Powys Police here in Wales and Derbyshire Police in England are operating Ultra Vires and we are now in a ‘police state’ it would seem .
But it’s an emergency I hear the hysterical, fearful masses shouting – which is of course exactly the time authoritarian regimes and dictators throughout history have implemented such measures.
Facebook groups are awash with people hysterically shaming anyone who dares to object to what is happening and who might be speaking contrary to the herd narrative whilst the state is making it’s people fearful and removing freedoms at a stroke. Hysteria and fear is running amok.
Hence it was with some surprise that I heard that former Supreme Court Judge, Lord Sumption, has now just said exactly the same as me (only more eloquently).
Here is the transcript of an interview Lord Sumption gave to the BBC on the 30th March 2020. Lord Sumption, is a former member of the Supreme Court and last year’s Reith Lecturer. The transcript is from BBC Radio 4’s World at One.
The real problem is that when human societies lose their freedom, it’s not usually because tyrants have taken it away. It’s usually because people willingly surrender their freedom in return for protection against some external threat. And the threat is usually a real threat but usually exaggerated. That’s what I fear we are seeing now. The pressure on politicians has come from the public. They want action. They don’t pause to ask whether the action will work. They don’t ask themselves whether the cost will be worth paying. They want action anyway. And anyone who has studied history will recognise here the classic symptoms of collective hysteria.
Hysteria is infectious. We are working ourselves up into a lather in which we exaggerate the threat and stop asking ourselves whether the cure may be worse than the disease.
Q At a time like this as you acknowledge , citizens do look to the state for protection, for assistance, we shouldn’t be surprised then if the state takes on new powers, that is what it has been asked to do, almost demanded of it.
A Yes that is absolutely true. We should not be surprised. But we have to recognise that this is how societies become despotisms. And we also have to recognise this is a process which leads naturally to exaggeration. The symptoms of coronavirus are clearly serious for those with other significant medical conditions especially if they’re old. There are exceptional cases in which young people have been struck down, which have had a lot of publicity, but the numbers are pretty small. The Italian evidence for instance suggests that only 12% of deaths is it possible to say coronavirus was the main cause of death. So yes this is serious and yes it’s understandable that people cry out to the government. But the real question is : Is this serious enough to warrant putting most of our population into house imprisonment, wrecking our economy for an indefinite period, destroying businesses that honest and hardworking people have taken years to build up , saddling future generations with debt, depression, stress, heart attacks, suicides and unbelievable distress inflicted on millions of people who are not especially vulnerable and will suffer only mild symptoms or none at all, like the Health Secretary and the Prime Minister.
Q The executive, the government, is all of a sudden really rather powerful and really rather unscrutinised. Parliament is in recess, it’s due to come back in late April, we’re not quite sure whether it will or not, the Prime Minister is closeted away, communicating via his phone, there is not a lot in the way of scrutiny is there?
A No. Certainly there’s not a lot in the way of institutional scrutiny. The Press has engaged in a fair amount of scrutiny, there has been some good and challenging journalism, but mostly the Press has, I think, echoed and indeed amplified the general panic.
Q The restrictions in movement have also changed the relationship between the police and those whose, in name, they serve. The police are naming and shaming citizens for travelling at what they see as the wrong time or driving to the wrong place. Does that set alarm bells ringing for you, as a former senior member of the judiciary?
A Well, I have to say, it does. I mean, the tradition of policing in this country is that policemen are citizens in uniform. They are not members of a disciplined hierarchy operating just at the government’s command. Yet in some parts of the country the police have been trying to stop people from doing things like travelling to take exercise in the open country which are not contrary to the regulations, simply because ministers have said that they would prefer us not to. The police have no power to enforce ministers’ preferences, but only legal regulations which don’t go anything like as far as the government’s guidance. I have to say that the behaviour of the Derbyshire police in trying to shame people into using their undoubted right to take exercise in the country and wrecking beauty spots in the Fells so that people don’t want to go there, is frankly disgraceful.
This is what a police state is like. It’s a state in which the government can issue orders or express preferences with no legal authority and the police will enforce ministers’ wishes. I have to say that most police forces have behaved in a thoroughly sensible and moderate fashion. Derbyshire Police have shamed our policing traditions. There is a natural tendency of course, and a strong temptation for the police to lose sight of their real functions and turn themselves from citizens in uniform into glorified school prefects. I think it’s really sad that the Derbyshire Police have failed to resist that.
Q There will be people listening who admire your legal wisdom but will also say, well, he’s not an epidemiologist, he doesn’t know how disease spreads, he doesn’t understand the risks to the health service if this thing gets out of control. What do you say to them?
A What I say to them is I am not a scientist but it is the right and duty of every citizen to look and see what the scientists have said and to analyse it for themselves and to draw common sense conclusions. We are all perfectly capable of doing that and there’s no particular reason why the scientific nature of the problem should mean we have to resign our liberty into the hands of scientists. We all have critical faculties and it’s rather important, in a moment of national panic, that we should maintain them.
Q Lord Sumption, former Justice of the Supreme Court, speaking to me earlier.
Now if that isn’t bad enough governments around the world, including the UK, have just driven the modern economy off a cliff and we are in ‘freefall’, heading to the bottom of the cliff, for probably no rational reason at all.
“But there’s another, potentially even more serious problem: the way that deaths are recorded. If someone dies of a respiratory infection in the UK, the specific cause of the infection is not usually recorded, unless the illness is a rare ‘notifiable disease’. So the vast majority of respiratory deaths in the UK are recorded as bronchopneumonia, pneumonia, old age or a similar designation. We don’t really test for flu, or other seasonal infections. If the patient has, say, cancer, motor neurone disease or another serious disease, this will be recorded as the cause of death, even if the final illness was a respiratory infection. This means UK certifications normally under-record deaths due to respiratory infections.
Now look at what has happened since the emergence of Covid-19. The list of notifiable diseases has been updated. This list — as well as containing smallpox (which has been extinct for many years) and conditions such as anthrax, brucellosis, plague and rabies (which most UK doctors will never see in their entire careers) — has now been amended to include Covid-19. But not flu. That means every positive test for Covid-19 must be notified, in a way that it just would not be for flu or most other infections.
In the current climate, anyone with a positive test for Covid-19 will certainly be known to clinical staff looking after them: if any of these patients dies, staff will have to record the Covid-19 designation on the death certificate — contrary to usual practice for most infections of this kind. There is a big difference between Covid-19 causing death, and Covid-19 being found in someone who died of other causes. Making Covid-19 notifiable might give the appearance of it causing increasing numbers of deaths, whether this is true or not. It might appear far more of a killer than flu, simply because of the way deaths are recorded.
If we take drastic measures to reduce the incidence of Covid-19, it follows that the deaths will also go down. We risk being convinced that we have averted something that was never really going to be as severe as we feared. This unusual way of reporting Covid-19 deaths explains the clear finding that most of its victims have underlying conditions — and would normally be susceptible to other seasonal viruses, which are virtually never recorded as a specific cause of death.“
But it gets worse. On the 19th March 2020 the UK’s Advisory Committee on Dangerous Pathogens downgraded the status of Covid 19 saying that COVID-19 is no longer considered to be a high consequence infectious disease (HCID) in the UK and that the mortality rate is low overall.
Read that again – the UK’s expert advisory body on pathogens has said that ‘the mortality rate is low’. We have more than likely just crashed the world economy, and make no mistake a massive recession and years of hardship will follow, whilst hundreds of thousands if not millions of people in the poorest countries will die as a direct result of this potential massive mistake.
The above change from the UK advisory body probably came about with the publication of this important French paper (on the 19th March) Sars-CoV2:Fear versus Data which states: “Under these conditions, there does not seem to be a significant difference between the mortality rate of SARS-CoV-2 in OECD countries and that of common coronaviruses (χ2 test, P=0.11). Of course, the major flaw in this study is that the percentage of deaths attributable to the virus is not determined, but this is the case for all studies reporting respiratory virus infections, including SARS-CoV-2. Indeed, viral infections are ecosystem infections where the outcome depends on the inoculums and the surrounding microbiota . Thus, certain bacteria seem to be associated with symptomatic manifestations, such as Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae and Staphylococcus aureus, which are known to cause an excess of mortality due to secondary infection. Finally, seasonality, geographic location, heat and humidity are co-factors, as are age, gender and underlying pathologies. Under these conditions, and all other things being equal, SARS-CoV-2 infection cannot be described as being statistically more severe than infection with other coronaviruses in common circulation.
Finally, in OECD countries, SARS-CoV-2 does not seem to be deadlier than other circulating viruses. In addition to coronaviruses, there are 16 endemic viruses in common circulation in developed countries (adenovirus, bocavirus, cytomegalovirus, enterovirus, influenza A H1N1 virus, influenza A H3N2 virus, influenza B virus, metapneumovirus, parainfluenzae virus 1, parainfluenzae virus 2, parainfluenzae virus 3, parainfluenzae virus 4, parechovirus, picornavirus, rhinovirus, syncytial respiratory virus), and 2.6 million deaths from respiratory infections (excluding tuberculosis) per year have been noted in recent years worldwide . There is little chance that the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 could change this statistic significantly. Fear could have a larger impact than the virus itself; a case of suicide motivated by the fear of SARS-COV-2 has been reported in India”
I’ll leave you with two highly qualified people who think similarly.
Secondly Dr. Sucharit Bhakdi, Professor Emeritus of Medical Microbiology at the Johannes Gutenberg University who has thoughts in a similar vein.
So folks there you have my prediction. A dreadful mistake has been made, a massive recession or even depression is on the way because we’ve just driven the economy over a cliff. All we needed to have done was isolate the vulnerable and to have invested properly in the NHS in the preceding years (rather than try and dismantle it for political reasons) so that it was equipped to deal with the crisis when it arose. It would have been way cheaper. The financial costs of this fiasco will be felt for a generation in the UK and many in the developing world who ‘live on the edge’ will die as a result.
If we decide to jump off the cliff, we need some data to inform us about the rationale of such an action and the chances of landing somewhere safe.
More lives have probably been turned upside down through all of this and futures stunted than any lives that might have been saved otherwise.
Edit : More thoughts from some academics on the same points:
“What’s infuriating about manipulations by the Non Profit Industrial Complex is that they harvest the goodwill of the people, especially young people. They target those who were not given the skills and knowledge to truly think for themselves by institutions which are designed to serve the ruling class. Capitalism operates systematically and structurally like a cage to raise domesticated animals. Those organizations and their projects which operate under false slogans of humanity in order to prop up the hierarchy of money and violence are fast becoming some of the most crucial elements of the invisible cage of corporatism, colonialism and militarism.” – Hiroyuki Hamada
Recently my Facebook page and mainstream media both seem to be full of articles and praise for the young Swedish activist Greta Thunberg. Now I’ll start by saying that I’m sure her intentions are honourable, I’m sure that she is one hundred percent genuine and indeed that the effects of climate change are real – although the cause of climate change is not necessarily clear as the conclusion in this excellent recent research paper shows: Propagation of Error and the Reliability of Global Air Temperature Projections concluding as it does with the sentance ‘ The unavoidable conclusion is that a temperature signal from anthropogenic CO2 emissions (if any) cannot have been, nor presently can be, evidenced in climate observables. ‘ Although personally I do believe that we have to accept the 97% climate scientist consensus that global warming is caused by human activity.
The claim by her mother that ‘She can see carbon dioxide with the naked eye. She sees how it flows out of chimneys and changes the atmosphere in a landfill‘ should ring a few alarm bells. Incidentally her mother is Swedish opera singer and celebrity Malena Ernman who has apparently made 10 albums and had two hit singles and appeared in the Eurovision contest. Her father is actor Svante Thunberg, while her grandfather is actor and director Olof Thunberg.
However, she is being manipulated by the world’s financial elites, via vehicles like large environmental NGOs, to serve a pre-existing agenda having more to do with expanding capitalism than reversing or mitigating climate change. Basically she and most of the public (including possibly you dear reader) are being ‘played’.
Much of this is detailed in very great depth by independent reporter Cory Morningstar. This is published here, unfortunately it is a very dense and detailed read; but for anyone wishing to examine what is really going on I would suggest ‘sticking with it’.
Since writing this I’ve found a series of podcasts where these (well the first ones anyway) are read
As an aside I can find very little, anywhere on the internet, on how much money is actually funding this 15/16 year old’s well orchestrated publicity jaunt around the world. Update (26.09.19) Cory Morningstar has done another excellent piece examining the government organisations, companies and non profit organisations who are involved. It can be read here.
I never actually thought I’d find myself agreeing with Jeremy Clarkson who wrote; Anyway, this means that Miss Thingamajig will have to go to New York, and obviously she can’t use a plane, because she’ll be called a hypocrite. So this, then, is her opportunity to show the world that there are practical, sensible alternatives to a quick seven-hour flight on a Boeing 747. And she’s done just that, saying that she will make the trip on a 60ft racing yacht.
Naturally, this has made all her disciples very happy, but hang on a minute. What’s the message? That the half a million people who fly every day from Europe to America should use a £15m yacht instead? It gets worse, because if you examine the yacht she’s using, it’s not as green as you might imagine. First of all, it is equipped with a diesel engine. Ha. You didn’t know that I knew that, but I do. And second, it’s made mostly from carbon fibre, which cannot be recycled effectively and which uses 14 times more energy to produce than steel. Which can be recycled very easily indeed.
Some good points Jeremy even if I do think you are part of the problem.
For anyone who doesn’t have the time to read all the articles I linked to I would suggest that you listen the interview with Cory Morningstar starting at about 8.20
There is no point me repeating much of what Cory has already published; if you are truly interested you will read it, assess it and formulate your own opinions. If you can’t be arsed well stick to the Daily Mail and the other main stream establishment propaganda and keep your head in the sand.
But Greta Thunberg is being strategically exploited by the World Bank, the UN, and the non-profit industrial complex that serves the ruling classes. They are using her to advance their own self-interests and objectives – that are in direct opposition to everything this young woman articulates. This is being presented as a “leaderless movement” – very much the “New Power” methodology and religion for the capitalists – theorized by Jeremy Heimans (Avaaz/Purpose) for mass movement building – that serves the most powerful and destructive forces on the planet.
The manipulation of young, malleable minds is at the foundation of Western indoctrination in order to insulate a failing system and mask the market solutions being designed to address it. Market “solutions” that benefit the rich at the expense of the environment. Hence, the youth are always the sacrificial lambs of the profit and non-profit industrial complex.
One must question anything applauded by the Royal families of Europe, or by billionaires in general. Those billionaires will not betray their class, rest assured. The billionaires and corporate interests behind Greta Thunberg are not looking to help the poor and working class; they are looking for massive land grabs and further raids on pensions, social security, and what’s left of working class and socialist movements. Big money orchestrating the Thunberg phenomenon. The ruling class stick together.
Conspiracy theory used to be reserved for invisible helicopters and such, now it’s simply any class analysis. Anytime someone points out who is funding a project there are cries of conspiracy theory.
Why would any rational person look at the Greta phenomenon and not grasp that it is manufactured? There is a lot of money behind this girl. But the non-profit industrial complex, the UN, the World Bank and IMF — they don’t do things altruistically. Capitalism is investment, not virtue. Capitalism created the crisis, it won’t solve it.
Greta is not anti-capitalist. She may say a few things that suggest, vaguely, an anti-capitalist sensibility, but the reality (which is what Morningstar provides) is that she works for big money, corporations and FOR capitalism.
Ok so if, like us, you live down a remote valley in Wales you may not have access to a decent broadband connection. In fact it is highly likely that you don’t as the whole roll out of fibre broadband in Wales has been a complete and utter fiasco, a cockup of monumental proportions and a financial scandal that no one seems to be investigating. We have promises in writing from a Welsh minister that we would be connected to fibre by 2016. Three years later there is still no sign of it!
We’ve done our bit in trying to improve things including contacting our local AM and MP, the Welsh Government, the BBC and setting up a Facebook Group to try to bring fellow ‘sufferers’ in Wales together. My neighbours and I even featured in a BBC ‘news’ article; in true BBC style they investigated none of the issues and posted some dumbed down nonsense masquerading as news.
A much better read about some of the issues can be found here.
Accordingly it was time for some practical action to see if we could improve things for ourselves. We did and here’s how you can if you are lucky enough to live where you can get a 4G phone signal outside your property. Most of my neighbours are not as fortunate as me in this respect.
I will stress that I’m no expert and am just giving you the benefit of what worked for me. If it doesn’t work for you or you fall off a ladder that’s not my problem (because you should not rely on this as being from someone with expert knowledge). So big disclaimer: do this at your own risk, if it doesn’t work, dont blame me, you are advised to seek professional assistance from someone who knows what they are talking about.
Firstly establish if you can get 4G. We can’t get a signal in our house but a 4G phone can just get a signal outside the front of the house. You need to check if you can. First check the various mobile companies coverage maps online to see which provider might cover your area.
The coverage map for Three is shown below for example. In our case it says we can’t get a signal.
In fact the postcade location isn’t quite accurate and we are just on the edge of the shaded area up and to the left of the location pin. So our theoretical reception is marginal.
Then get/borrow/ask a friend with mobile phone on that network to check if you can get a 4G signal at your location. If you can check at each (open) upstairs window around the house or even put a ladder up and try (without falling off). If you can get some sort of signal outside the building you are probably in luck.
Once you have established that you are in with a chance you’ll need; a 4G router, a phone SIM card (with data), and external 4G aerial and an aerial mast.
Just for the sake of completion I’ll mention that EE offer an ‘all in one’ 4G install service and ongoing contract – but it’s expensive.
You need an unlocked 4G router that will accept a phone Sim phone/data card. I bought a secondhand Huawei E5186s off Ebay for around £55. This is an old model and I believe that they were ‘badged’ for European Telecom companies and were being sold off as surplus.
Your router should have 2 aerial sockets on the back where you can either screw two (supplied) indoor aerials or the two leads from an external aerial.
Back of router
You need to securely fix a mast and a 4G aerial on the outside of your house. Location is important; it generally wants to be at the highest point on your house you can get it and be orientated towards the phone mast transmitting your signal. If you are in a rural area like me it is likely that there is only one phone mast serving your property. Ours is 8 miles away. However, the lead to the aerial should not, ideally, be longer than 5m because of signal loss; so you will need to think carefully about location of the aerial and router into which you plug the aerial leads. The router also needs a power supply (so you’ll need a power outlet nearby) and you will need to distribute it around your house via wi-fi or ethernet cable (a solution for the latter might be to use Powerline adapters).
You can find the location of local telecoms masts using the Mastdata website (sign up is free for 30 days).
Our aerial is a Poynting Xpol-2 this is a directional aerial as we know there is only one phone mast serving our property. I lined the aerial up by plotting our house and the phone mast on Google Maps and drawing a line between the two. I then tweaked it by watching the signal strength bars. The Poynting website has some good information on installing an aerial. There are also some good videos at the bottom of the page explaining things like cable loss.
An onmi directional aerial may be more appropriate where there are several masts in range. In extreme range situations a twin Yagi aerial may be better; so you may need to seek out more information on this from a specialist supplier (told you I’m no expert). There is some good background on aerials here.
The Xpol – 2 has fixed 5m leads that terminate with standard connectors that screw straight into the aerial sockets on the router. So now all you have to do is fix your aerial mast to your house, secure the aerial to the mast (I got my mast and fittings from Toolstation), secure the twin cables and run them into the house, probably by drilling through the wall, or through a window frame or via some other means and connect the leads into the back of the router. You can then plug your computer in via ethernet or use the wifi facility.
You will of course need a phone card/data sim for your chosen provider. I initially bought a 2Gb PAYG data card just to check all was working. This is just inserted into a spring loaded slot on the side of the router. In my case it is Micro sim (so be aware of Sim sizes if you are thinking of switching for a phone Sim as many phone Sims are smaller nano size).
Mobile phone companies sell both data Sims and phone Sims. The former are just for tablets etc. and just for data. They tend to be more expensive and until recently you could only use a data card in a wi-fi router. Since an Ofcom decision (I think) in 2018 it has been possible to use an ordinary phone Sim with a data allowance (often unlimited) in a data only device. These tend to be cheaper and my Three Network phone card on a 24 month contract with unlimited data is £20 a month (these deals can fluctate). I’ve had no issues using a phone card with unlimited data. Perhaps just buy a cheap PAYG one with a small amount of data for testing first before you sign up to a contract? Don’t forget that once you ditch your landline broadband you are entitled to a saving on the line rental charges as well. I shall wait until I’m out of contract before giving BT the ‘two fingered salute’. I still intend to keep a landline for now just in case fibre does come along in the future but I may well experiment with Voice Over Internet (VOIP) calls in due course.
Basically that’s it. Turn your router on and hope that the signal bars light up, we get between two and three bars eight miles from the transmitter. If they do light up you are ‘in business’. Tweak the aerial orientation if necessary. It normally takes a while (15 minutes?) until your new Sim card is registered on the network.
If you need to access the router settings for the Huawei just type 192.168.8. into the browser bar; the default username and password is usually ‘admin’ for both.
So before this I had internet speeds of around 1.4Mbps down and 0.3Mbps up (for urban readers, shaking their heads in disbelief, that is better than many others in rural areas). Now the speed varies depending on load on the phone mast etc but this is what I just measured (It can be less it can be more) as I wrote this. 50 Mbps is an excellent result.
As I say, if you’re in the same situation, and know that there is some sort of 4G signal available to you this may be worth trying (but as I keep repeating don’t blame me if it doesn’t!). Good luck.
A few people might get offended here. Good, because the British public needs a fecking big ‘wake up’ call as we head towards another Remembrance Day.
The red poppy was once a symbol to remind us of the senseless massacre of millions upon millions of people in muddy fields far away from home. The poppy was supposed to say never again to the horrors of a spat between politicians murdering a generation. In Britain it has been turned into a symbol of militarism It is being used as jingoistic propaganda and is now being hijacked by the right wing and the message is no longer ‘remember the senseless slaughter‘ but ‘support our brave lads‘.
We stopped wearing the red poppy quite a few years ago as we realised what was actually happening. The ‘poppy mafia’ certainly seems to have grown stronger in recent years.
Policing of wearing the poppy has grown absurd: public figures face attacks, all the way up to death threats, for not wearing one. There are fucking poppies all over everything, including buses, police cars and ambulances.
Meanwhile, opinion pieces glorifying the deaths in the First World War seem to be on the rise. Should you raise your head to say ‘actually this all wrong‘ you’ll be berated by the mob (which is I seem to recall what happened to those resisting facism before the Second World War in Germany).
They want us to forget what happened and pretend, as they did a hundred years ago, as though wars are nothing more than a jolly good lark. They brainwash children: not to mourn, but to strive to emulate. They want us to think that having a military (to invade god knows where next) is actually a ‘good thing’ and necessary. It is only necessary for the Military Industrial Complex where it means huge profits for the arms dealers just as it did back in the First World War.
This is what war and ultimately the red poppy is about MONEY. They want a guillable, jingoistic public who will swallow the next war and deaths of young people so that they can still make MONEY.
That is why these children are being indoctrinated (note the ‘Future Soldier’ T Shirts) in the UK and yet in a few years’ time, if they follow the naive dream they are being steered towards, we could be seeing them shipped back in coffins. With a symbol, it is all too easy to simply radicalise children into militarism (sound familiar?).
More about how the poppy has been compromised through its collaboration with some of the world’s most controversial arms dealers, its increasingly militarised presentation of Remembrance, and its commercialised and trivialising corporatisation of the poppy “brand” can be found in an excellent download here
Aortic heart valve replacement and aorta repair on the horizon and I (John) am guessing that open heart surgery is not a bundle of laughs.
It’s a strange thing to realise that things may end sooner than you thought . Thinking about your mortality is of those things you ignore. The days tick by and you just expect they will keep on coming; until the unexpected happens.
Anyone who has read this blog will know that Liz is a retired doctor. Just before she retired, about 8 years ago, we were watching television one evening when she put her head on my chest. ‘I think you’ve got a heart murmur’ she said.
Thus started a chain of events which led to me having a CT scan and echocardiograms every 9 to 12 months to keep an ‘eye on things’. Apparently I have bicuspid aortic valve and an aortic aneurysm.
After 8 years of monitoring things have got to the point that complex open heart surgery is going to be required. I was only told this earlier this week so it’s kind of weird to be faced with the knowledge that you need serious and risky surgery to carry on living.
To be honest I’m not looking forward to this and it’s obviously a tad scary. On the other hand I’m fortunate enough to live in a country where this surgery is routinely carried out about 7,500 times a year and is free within our wonderful National Healt Service that slime ball politicians on the right are trying to dismantle.
I have no choice; but I can write some words about the process that may help someone else in the future. So despite being the world’s worst blogger I will try and keep this updated to the end (not the best choice of words, John).
The next step is being called for another scan and some further tests so that the surgeons have a clear idea of what they are facing.
So as I get called for tests and then surgery I’ll give you a patient’s eye view of things.
Now hopefully, with the skills of those who work in the NHS and the support of Liz, I’ll come through this ok.
It’s a cliche but ‘live every day as if it is your last, for one day it will be’.