Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Abortion, law and liberty

From Sackerson's 'Now and Next' on Substack:

Friday’s US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruling on abortion has split the people, as though America did not have enough causes of internal strife already.

In the USA the law is complicated by the interaction of the Federal Constitution and the law-making bodies of its fifty member states, each of which has its own Constitution and body of laws. Several States prepared for SCOTUS’s judgment in advance and treated it as a starter’s gun, so that they could immediately set about modifying their own abortion laws.

State legislators run the risk of framing simplistic rules for ethically complex cases. For example, in Ohio, by sometime next year the only exception to a total ban on abortion may be if the mother’s life is at risk; rape cases may not be exempted. The Senate President has said:

A baby is a baby even if it came through some terrible awful thing like rape. The answer can’t be let’s just kill the baby.

In the UK there was a legal test case on just that, long before the 1967 Abortion Act. As journalist Peter Hitchens relates, in 1938 a Dr Aleck Bourne performed an abortion on a 14-year-old girl who had been gang-raped. He reported himself to the authorities for a trial that could have earned him a life sentence but was acquitted because, the judge said, the pregnancy would likely have made the girl ‘a physical and mental wreck’ and the doctor was ‘operating for the purpose of preserving the life of the mother.’

Yet Dr Bourne opposed the call for abortion on demand, saying it would be a ‘calamity’ and would lead to ‘the greatest holocaust in history'. Asked by other women for an abortion, thinking he would sympathise, he refused and later recalled,

I have never known a woman who, when the baby was born, was not overjoyed that I had not killed it.

In the US the Supreme Court tried to mediate the conflicting laws of the States on abortion with its 1973 Roe v Wade ruling, based on the implicit Constitutional entitlement to ‘privacy’ (the right to make personal decisions principally affecting oneself.)

SCOTUS went into further detail, laying out what States could rule on during each of the three trimesters of the pregnancy; this judgment was extensively modified by another, 1992, Supreme Court case, Planned Parenthood v. Casey (1992.)

The latest SCOTUS has now overruled both those cases in Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization, saying that there was no reference to abortion in the Constitution, because the Founding Fathers drew it up nearly 250 years ago.

That is what is known as an ‘originalist’ interpretation and raises questions about whether the Constitution needs updating. Thomas Jefferson himself suggested (July 12, 1816) that each generation should be able to revise it for their own needs:

By the European tables of mortality, of the adults living at any one moment of time, a majority will be dead in about nineteen years. At the end of that period, then, a new majority is come into place; or, in other words, a new generation. Each generation is as independent as the one preceding, as that was of all which had gone before. It has then, like them, a right to choose for itself the form of government it believes most promotive of its own happiness; consequently, to accommodate to the circumstances in which it finds itself, that received from its predecessors; and it is for the peace and good of mankind, that a solemn opportunity of doing this every nineteen or twenty years, should be provided by the constitution; so that it may be handed on, with periodical repairs, from generation to generation, to the end of time, if anything human can so long endure.

Jefferson saw the Constitution as founded on the will of living people, and assumed the possibility of communal assent. But what if the law is highly controversial and the authorities are felt to be promoting a one-sided political agenda? How can citizens influence their State?

Many people feel the system is rigged: some States gerrymander constituencies and also make it harder for typical Democrat supporters to get to polling stations. In any case, the periodic choice between two party policy menus is a crude form of control.

Worse still, the parties may agree on some issues, so there is no real choice anyway. For example, the Republicans have long had trimming social security benefits in their sights, but Biden the Democrat has just appointed Andrew Biggs to the government’s Social Security Advisory Board; Biggs may help steer a changeover from the State-guaranteed pension to an investment-related product that stands to make a fortune for Wall Street while exposing the citizen to market risks.

In relation to abortions, Biden can’t countermand SCOTUS but made reassuring noises about individual rights implicit in the Constitution he is sworn to uphold, relating them to the chance to vote for his party in November’s elections:

The right to privacy, liberty, equality -- they're all on the ballot. Until then, I will do all in my power to protect a woman's right in states where they will face the consequences of today's decision.

In this case, a key right is freedom of movement. Some legislatures are already seeking to criminalise those trying to go out-of-State for an abortion, and anyone who helps them. Ironically, US Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, whom a man allegedly planned to assassinate because of the leaked draft judgment, has already indicated that he would rule against the attempt to impose travel restrictions.

The people are impatient, so much so that one wonders if the slow and complex machinery of institutional democracy can work. Initial reactions include calling SCOTUS ‘illegitimate’, mass screaming and twerking, shouting ‘f—- you, Supreme Court!’ at an LA awards ceremony and personal threats against the Justices.

One can understand the frustration and sense of powerlessness. The State has become over-mighty; the Constitutions of the USA and of Britain (who led the way) were designed to limit the power and influence of the Executive. Yet the modern technocratic State (and its Silicon Valley friends) now intrudes far into our privacy, supplying information to the policymakers, the behavioural ‘nudgers’, law enforcement agencies.

Maybe there is too much law. In 2019 the US Code listed over 5,000 different criminal offences; and that’s just federal law. The more laws that are created and the more we call on the police, FBI etc., the closer we get to a police state.

If we value the liberty of the individual, we must learn not involve the authorities in every matter. Instead of framing and enforcing criminal laws on one another, in some cases we should revive the practice of moral suasion; argue and listen, prepare to modify our opinions, sometimes agree to disagree; but refrain from blowing the whistle.

Sunday, June 26, 2022


This was first posted at Nourishing Obscurity on November 24th, 2010 but was lost along with a lot of other posts when James had his WordPress 'crash' It followed on from one of his posts titled The Mathematical Precision of the Universe and was also a clarification of a BBC programme which is still available on their iPlayer.

I am prompted to continue the theme after watching a programme on BBC4 last week about Leonardo da Vinci’s drawing of Vitruvian Man.

I found the programme to be dumbed down and, in parts, risible. Most unsatisfactory and it wasn’t clear what point they were trying to make.

So allow me to make it for them.

The BBC described this as a puzzle. It is not a puzzle and never has been. The relevant passage in Vitruvius is very clear.

Leonardo abstracts it on the drawing in mirror writing and it is here -

Although this passage is in the section on Architecture it is really about the proportions of the human body and then it continues to show how architectural design should follow the same rules.

Leonardo drew a man in the correct proportions (and his notebooks carry several anatomical drawings to illustrate the proportionality of and within the body) inside a square.

Then, in accordance with the description in Vitruvius, he placed a compass point on the navel and drew a circle around the figure. Following which he placed the two additional arms and two legs fitting within that circle.

This is why the square and the circle are offset.

The navel is indeed the centre of the circle but it is not the centre of the square. Look very carefully and you will see that the navel bisects the square at a point 0.618++ between the top and the bottom of the square. Thus, the human figure is divided at the navel by the Ø ratio (Phi) otherwise known as the Golden Section. And here we begin to see the importance of this Golden Proportion. It occurs naturally in the human figure.

This is shown in the next drawing, an analysis of Leonardo’s.

If we take the side of the square and thus the height of the man and divide it into 144 parts then it can be seen that the distance from the feet to the navel is 89 and the distance from the navel to the top of the head is 55 and the distance between the top of the square and the top of the circle is 34. These are all numbers arising in the sequence of Fibonacci numbers and, just as these numbers are related to the Phi ratio, so the body is defined by this same ratio.

Why use 144 as a base measurement? The answer is, again, in the book by Vitruvius. He states that the ideal figure is 6 foot tall; which divides into 72 inches or 144 half-inches. Leonardo, in his notebooks, made further study of the human frame and always with reference to Vitruvius because that book contained the necessary clues. He found that the body was perfectly proportioned in terms of the ratio expressed by the Golden Section.

For example; the finger joints are related to each other and to the hand and arm in exactly this Ø ratio. Leonardo concluded that this ratio is the one which expresses growth in the human form. This is confirmed by the place of the navel at the precise Ø point between the head and the foot. The navel, of course, is the point at which we all commence our lives. We all begin as a germinated seed in the womb, connected to our mothers by the umbilical cord. Growth begins at this central point, the navel.

All of nature grows in exactly the same way. Everything from a human embryo to the spiralling galaxies in the universe follows the invisible rules of the Ø ratio.

As James said, this points to the mathematical precision of the universe.

Marcus Vitruvius Pollo knew it, Leonardo da Vinci knew it and the poet John Dryden knew it-

'From harmony, from heavenly harmony
This universal frame began:
From harmony to harmony
Through all the compass of the notes it ran
The diapason closing full in Man.'

John Dryden (1631-1700)

……….to be continued…………….

Saturday, June 25, 2022

WEEKENDER: More on the failing NHS, by Wiggia

There is a certain inevitability about getting old: we need more help on the medical front than of yore, none of us like to admit it but there it is. The argument about whether certain treatments that extend life are really worth the cost in monetary terms or personal life quality is a separate argument.
Still, by its nature the state of our health service does take a very elevated position in our thoughts in everyday life for obvious reasons, so inadequacies in that health service have a serious impact on our lives.

There seem to be endless stories in the press about the NHS on an almost daily basis. None of them put the organisation in a flattering light, which is hardly surprising considering the state it is in,

Nonetheless one would like to think that they were trying to right the wrongs and at least try to serve the public they are there to supposedly look after in times of medical need and not add fuel a fire that just keeps burning.

An example was this week when my wife had to go to the reception at our ‘Medical Centre’ to correct a prescription that had on two occasions been issued with the wrong medication; no good phoning unless you have an afternoon to spare.

On the receptionist's desk was a notice telling those who approached that they had been receiving abuse and threats and anyone who persisted would be de-listed.

Now no one can condone threatening behaviour, yet one would think that the surgery, sorry, Medical Centre would readily admit that people's frustration at not being able to even speak to a doctor (especially if you work for a living) is becoming ever more intolerable and that the centre's policy of working two days a week with ever fewer staff while taking on more paying customers, just might have something to do with it. Tthe threat of de-listing, not that it would make much difference currently, is not a solution; it is a pound shop solution to a problem not of the patient's making, and at surgeries like ours there appears to be no visible effort being made to correct things or redeem the patient's faith in the service, such as it is.

They even shut down routine testing a short while ago, already months behind schedule as the ‘staff’ were busy outside the surgery giving Covid jabs for which they are paid extra. Not bad, working two days a week and then being able to junk even that and go elsewhere to earn more all at the public's expense both in monetary and medical terms.

And now along with much of the public sector they are talking of taking strike action. Much of this comes from a basis that all were heroes during the pandemic and we should just cough up. There is nothing wrong with people wanting a pay rise, but consider two things: the bulk of the NHS was on holiday during the pandemic, so it hardly warrants the hero status; and secondly, the drop in earnings since 2010 of 22 % affects everyone, they fail to realise it is not about ‘cuts’ but a general drop in wages and living standards for many, most without the comfort of public service blanketing. We cannot assume all wages will just go on rising because we want it; economics comes into it and the private sector workers have suffered a lot more than the public sector and they of course provide the funds for the public sector to exist on.

The NHS consumes an awful lot of wonga. They can argue it is not enough but we can say much is badly spent and the figures can be made to show almost anything that is needed either way. When comparing international health spending I see we measure up very badly: infrastructure - poor, beds available - worst, doctor-patient ratio - very poor and many clinical outcomes - poor. Not all of that is because of lack of funds.

There is no way we can claim to be grossly underfunded in health care. Many countries that spend less better outcomes,  better patient to doctor ratios and more hospital beds, as well as better outcomes in the treatment of cancers for instance. Yet many use the US model as the reason not to change; I can only assume they have a socialist agenda and defend their baby regardless of current failings.

Our GPs are the best paid in Europe apart from Germany yet have the worst ratio of doctors to patients and still get paid for not seeing anyone; there is something seriously wrong there for a start.

We have fewer hospital beds per thousand population by a mile, far less than almost any Western country. Fewer beds means fewer patients in care so fewer medical staff needed, yet somehow we are always needing more. I repeat, how can the biggest employer outside the Chinese army be short-staffed? Answers on a postcard please, though I think we know the answer to that.

The chart below shows the decline in available beds, during a period when the population has increased by at least ten million. If anyone can explain the logic of that vis-a-vis other countries I will be astounded.

The NHS trusts should not be personal fiefdoms; all should be under the same umbrella on strategy on spending and structure. Many areas of the NHS still manage to provide decent services; how come others have been allowed to throw the towel in and be unfit for purpose and remain so?

Those who always say we are better off rather than following the US model are not comparing like with like. Why they always bring the US health service into the discussion is strange as there are so many others that have better results than us with similar expenditure. Again, the insurance portion of the cost gives patients the right to choose, something drastically missing here. This is the Danish model: see PT2 for patients' rights and tell me it is not better than our system.

It seems that no matter how many people put forward proposals for improving our NHS nothing of consequence changes. The current waiting lists are so long many will give up and many will die; not a lot of applauding in that sector.

You could almost do a weekly piece on the NHS failings, it just goes on and on. I shall cease for a while. What we see of and get from that organisation stays the same, however much we protest; sometimes it feels as though only a nuclear strike could change it.

Friday, June 24, 2022

FRIDAY MUSIC: Claire Pommet, by JD

Claire Pommet known professionally as Pomme is a French singer, songwriter and musician.

This is her YT channel with lots more excellent music 'pour votre plaisir':

Monday, June 20, 2022

'Now and Next': did you miss these?

Keep up with a FREE email subscription on Substack !

June 8 - 14:

Quiz Night
A fun evening at the pub

Our money is rotting
... and has been doing so for over 100 years

Ukraine: a doomed neocon cattle-raid
The robbery of a poor country with rich resources

Baron Munchausen 2
A translation of the earliest (tall) stories

'You will own nothing...'
... being happy, that's another story

Ukraine is finished - Lira
But what happens next?

Saturday, June 18, 2022

WEEKENDER: We Approach Midnight, by Wiggia

We suffer the recent transport problems where no one it seems can leave the country by air, the railways are to expensive and on strike anyway and the price of petrol is prohibiting much car travel, but there is an answer…

So staying at home takes on a whole new meaning, not that different from the imposed lockdown conditions.

Several government statements were issued this week in the hope one or another will bolster Bojo’s decline; they won't, and they are no more than statements. One about the ‘houses for everyone’ will soon dispel any illusion that this is anything other than an ill-thought-out idea or simply a piece of propaganda being issued on the premise ‘we are doing something.'

The original ’right to buy’ scheme under Margaret Thatcher was at the time seen as a great way to get people on the housing ladder. This was achieved by discounting the council properties the buyers lived in and impoverishing the councils who had little in return to replace those same lost council properties built with taxpayers' money. Replace them they didn’t, resulting today in waiting lists for social housing that only the NHS can compete with.

Only desperation would make anyone want to buy the smallest housing builds in Europe and they are getting smaller: average houses in the Twenties were roughly twice the size, plus a real garden.

The only people to gain, and why not, were those offered their council properties at the bargain discount prices who then sold on later at market rates and made a killing. Once again the taxpayer and the council lost out.

This time, being a scheme under Boris’s reign the facts are far from clear - 'mud' is too kind a word - and maybe that is the point: it is just a statement boosting (he hopes) his kerbside appeal in times of strife.

Before looking at it, one has to ask why are we building so many rabbit hutches in the first place. 'Not enough and too slow' is the cry that goes up, yet the indigenous demographic is static, so any demand is being caused by the fact we have 7 million extra people in the land since 2010; and who created that problem?

One's first reaction is to ask how do people on benefits qualify for a mortgage? If they have enough for a deposit they don’t qualify for benefits; or are we missing something?

Secondly, this applies not just to council properties but housing associations and, if the wording is correct, privately owned properties in the letting market. The latter can’t be true as the government is discounting these properties, and how is the private sector going to take a discounted hit on the selling price? This has to be nonsense.

However, critics have pointed out that Universal Credit is only available to families with less than £16,000 in investments and savings, meaning they would have very limited access to mortgages, or in the real world, none at all.

Most lenders ask a minimum of 10 per cent deposit. Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove indicated the government was looking at creating a savings vehicle that would not count toward the benefits limit, but it is unclear how that would work or how banks would be made to accept the handouts in their calculations.

The housing association position is more serious. With so little social housing being built by councils, housing associations have been taking up some of the slack; to hit them with this scheme would be a disincentive to build any more new units - what would be the point?

In fact the more one looks into it the more it becomes fantasy…

Above all it would require those who have worked hard and saved for their own homes to be subsidising a scheme for those on benefits to reap the rewards of a cheap home they cash in on later.

“Downing Street said there will be a 'mortgage review' looking at how low-deposit mortgages could be extended.“

There are already many ways mortgages are propped up by assistance to those on benefits, all explained here in this handy editorial:

I never thought I would see the day when a government would promote sub-prime mortgages after what happened not that long ago; for that, dressed up in a different way, is what this is.

The banks have already said they are not going with this as it stands.

This parody is spot on…

So what are we to make of it? Is it a serious effort to get people on the housing ladder, or just hot air? Judging by other government statements this last week the latter seems more probable. At this rate, future governments will make mortgages redundant and all new homes will be given to those who cannot afford them and thereby save all the paperwork involved in current schemes. 

Bearing in mind warnings that our hallowed housing sector is due for a fall, all this will become tomorrows fish and chip wrapping, and we will move on to Bojo’s next wheeze.

Friday, June 17, 2022

FRIDAY MUSIC: Albert Ketèlbey, by JD

Albert Ketèlbey (1875 - 1959) was an English composer, conductor & pianist born in Birmingham. He became famous for composing popular light music, much of which was used as accompaniments to silent films, and as mood music at tea dances.

You can read a full biography here -

This third video is Ronnie Ronalde whistling over the melody. He was never off the radio in the fifties and was popular with my parents' generation; maybe not popular but certainly different!

Monday, June 13, 2022

New Substack articles !

See what you missed on 'Now and Next' - subscribe and share if you like!

June 1 - 7:

Boris Johnson's mock-Imperialism
He waves the flag but he's a chancer

Private Eye: from satire to propaganda
The magazine has lost its balance over Ukraine

Ukraine is a distraction from service to the people
The US needs a bogeyman to disguise domestic failure

Monarchy and national integration
Never mind the miserygutses, the Jubilee helps unite us

Baron Munchausen 1
The first of the original tales, in a new translation

Pounds and ounces: power to the people
Why the old measures actually work better

Zelenskyy's kill list
He didn't start it, but he's not stopping it

Sunday, June 12, 2022


There was last week an article on the web site TCW - Defending Freedom about the restoration of our traditional pounds and ounce which had been made illegal by dint of our membership of the European Union.

"BORIS Johnson’s proposal to restore pounds and ounces and the crown mark on pint beer glasses may be opportunist populism from a cynical chancer, but much of the imperial system of weights and measures worked better than metric.

"That’s because it was rooted in what people found useful. By contrast, the rule of ten was imposed from above in the French Revolution, a politically-driven programme to cut us off from our past and begin afresh; progressivism is about centralised power versus the populace."

Let's hope this is the beginning of the restoration of all of our ancient and customary units of measurement which are indeed rooted in what people found to be useful and practical (politicians and academics are invariably lost in their own little world which is governed by theories and are woefully unfamiliar with anything practical).

The next step surely is to restore the inch/foot basis of our built environment; something which never really went away if truth be told.

The following is the text of an article written in October 1995 for 'Perspectives on Architecture', a magazine dedicated to traditional architecture and to the craftsmanship required for the preservation and maintenance of our built environment. 

The article was timed to coincide with the British Government's compulsory use of metric measurement for all goods and services in the UK, a legal requirement which is widely ignored and disliked by the majority of people. The article is a reflection of the merits or otherwise of its use in the building industry where it has been compulsory for 30 years. 

For reasons best known to the editors, the article was never published. It would seem that their commitment to traditional values does not include that most fundamental of requirements in the construction industry; i.e. the practical use of measurements to transcribe drawings into real life buildings.


In 1965 the building industry decided to change to the use of French Decimal measurement, commonly known as the Metric system. Thirty years on and with the rest of industry now obliged to follow suit, perhaps it is time for a progress report. No one seems to have asked yet; has it worked? Is everyone happy with it? Is it easier, as the metricators claim, or is it harder? Is it better than the traditional system, or worse?

Working in the industry, I went along with this idea at the time without giving it much thought. In those days people still had faith in politicians and business leaders and believed that they knew what they were doing. (The events of these last two years, 2020 - 2022, has definitely shattered that particular illusion!) Now that I have spent a number of years studying the history of architecture and of building, I have discovered how and why we arrive at the measurements we have always used.

The first and most striking thing about the 1965 change is that there has been no change. The industry carried on using and continues to use the same materials in the same sizes but with different unit values. Thus a brick is still 9" long but is now designated as 225mm. The standard door size remains at 6'6" x 2'6" but now has what appears to be a code number of 1981x762mm. Why is this? Where are the materials/components which are whole units of 1 or 2 metres or natural multiples/divisions such as 250mm or 500mm? There seems little point in adopting a system of measurement whose basic unit is incompatible with the building process in terms of sizes required to build a house, for example, which is correctly proportioned relative to the size of the people who live in that house. After 30 years, it is apparent that the metric unit of 1 metre is too large and 1 centimetre is too small to be used comfortably in the building process. This is relevant in the rest of Europe too, by the way. Did you know that in Spain they still build brick walls one foot thick (ladrillo de un pie)?

Those who know their history will know that the metre was invented in France in 1790 and is, allegedly, one ten-millionth of the distance from the North Pole to the Equator. The invention of the metre was part of the Revolutionaries' rational and scientific response to what they regarded as the superstitions of the past. 

By contrast, the British Imperial system (as used by the Greeks and the Romans as well as in pre-revolutionary France) is anthropometric which means it is based on the human frame. From time immemorial units of measure have been derived from the human figure: palm, hand, foot, cubit etc. Some fall out of use and become archaic but those which remain do so for the very good reason that they are convenient, practical, easy to understand and, above all, easy to visualise which is a necessary part of translating working drawings into a built structure. 

This was clearly demonstrated to me when I recently had a garage built. The workmen, all of whom were under 30 years of age were thinking and working in feet and inches - 18" deep foundations, 4" step etc. When any change such as that wrought in 1965 is mooted, nobody ever consults the real experts, the people who actually do the work. Where theory and practice do not coincide then theory is wrong and practice is right. Or to put it another way - in theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is. Remember that according to aerodynamic theory it is impossible for a bee to fly!

It must be obvious to anyone who cares to think about it that an anthropometric unit such as the foot is preferable to a theoretical unit such as the metre. The metre, in fact, has had its official length changed no less than three times since 1790 (the latest being in 1965) and is currently deemed to be 1/299,792,458th of the distance light travels in one second. That's a real handy reference next time you are measuring a room for carpets or wallpaper.

The second aspect of the metric system is that it is based on the number 10 rather than 12. The superiority of duodecimals over decimals involves some esoteric reasoning which is too complicated to go into here but you may wish to refer to Plato's ideal cities of Magnesia (duodecimal) and Atlantis (decimal) and we all know what happened to Atlantis... Suffice to say that 12 can be easily divided into thirds and quarters whereas 10 cannot. (Ref 1. below)

The reasons put forward in support of metric are far from compelling. They range from the feeble ('everyone else uses it') to the dimwitted ('we have ten fingers for counting on' - which also demonstrates the general misconception that counting and measuring are the same; they are not!). There has never been, to my knowledge, a logical demonstration of metric's superiority in use over traditional measurement. One of the most famous architects of the Modern Movement, Le Corbusier, used feet and inches to calculate his twin modular system of design after struggling and failing to work it out in metres and centimetres.

Everyone I talk to is in agreement with the Prince of Wales when he calls for our towns and cities to be built on a human scale. This will never happen until we revert to a human scale of measurement.


Ref.1 -

See also -

: All Done With Mirrors by John Neal

: The Dimensions of Paradise by John Michell

Saturday, June 11, 2022

WEEKENDER: Isle of Man TT Races, by Wiggia

The TT races are a reminder of days gone by, an anomaly in today's motorsport calender that survives because people want it to. The TT races were the most prestigious in the GP calendar: it was the one race all wanted to win, to have on their CV.

All the greats have been there, won and been remembered for some truly epic performances over the 37.73 mile course. Its landmarks are etched into the history of the races: the Bungalow, Union Mills, Kirk Michael, Quarter Bridge, Snaefell mountain road, and many more, the aficionados can quote them all. There are roughly two hundred corners on this circuit and sixty of them are named, no circuit in motor sport comes anywhere near. It is unique; the only competitor to its fame is the legendary Nürburgring in Germany which is a fourteen-mile motor racing circuit as opposed to the road racing one that is the TT course.

The race lost its status as part of the GP calendar after the 1976 event. This was largely because of a protest after the death of a rider in 1972. In many ways it was inevitable that safety concerns would eventually mean top riders and manufacturers would start to question the validity of this one race; the cost for the manufacturers of a race that was in length with practice almost a Grand Prix season on its own and the special technical provisos for this one race started to add up to a deficit against any gains for a win.

The changes on safety grounds to the course over the years have been continuous but you can never make a road course ‘safe’, it is just not possible, so the TT had to revert to a different formula to carry on. Remarkably it still has this magic appeal to the fans in its comparatively watered-down state, if you can call 133-mph laps watered down! What the lap times would be with full-blown Moto GP bikes is frightening but that is not going to happen.

The TT has seen the greatest of racing motorcyclists and the same with machinery. Many of today's manufacturers cut their teeth at the TT, none more so than Honda who came saw and conquered in a manner that few could have envisaged.

This one two-week race fest was the shop window to the world for the Honda manufacturers, and the new (to Europe) trade teams made full use of a moribund British motorcycle indusrty and cashed in, in spades. 1959 was their first appearance at the races in the 125cc and 250cc classes; they didn’t win individually but won the team prize. That sort of reliability was remarkable for an outfit on its first appearance. The advancement of their technology going forward was nothing short of amazing, finishing when they pulled out, temporarily, of GP racing with the ‘greatest’ racing motorcycle of all time, or certainly the equal of anything before or since: the six cylinder 250cc and the 305cc model that was capable of beating the current front runners in the 500cc class.

For the petrol heads the sound of the Honda Six can be sampled here - as someone once said, it’s like an air raid siren:

And the two works Hondas of Hailwood and Redman:

Since those heady days when the greatest riders competed on some of the greatest machinery on the world's most challenging circuit, the TT has clung on as an anachronism supported mainly by generations that remember the history and many riders whose holy grail is to ride the greatest circuit on earth. There is some truth in the latter: there is simply nowhere in motor racing that has a circuit anywhere near it in length and complexity and that of course has led to its downfall.

It is true you would have a job today to get the best of the world's riders to race there: they no longer do road circuits. For reasons of safety even the more interesting older circuits of some length such as the Nürburgring have been demoted from F1 and MotoGP partly on safety grounds and partly on TV viewing - those long circuits are difficult to cover and expensive, only Le Mans survives.

Will it continue? There seems to be no end to the number of riders who come from all over the world to test themselves against the mountain course, and it brings in a lot of bikers and others for the two weeks who in turn bring in a lot of revenue to the Isle Of Man.

No one needs reminding that all motor sport can be dangerous. Safety in track design and riders' equipment has made racing much safer in recent years, but at a cost: the circuits today have that sameness of character to such a degree that many are interchangeable and quite frankly boring. Silverstone, now for some reason our premier circuit despite having millions spent on it, is still an airfield at heart, a featureless bloody place - I know, I raced there - but money talks and better race tracks such as Brands Hatch and Donnington have been passed over.

The TT though goes on, for how long is anyone's guess. The sights and sounds of motorcycles going past your front door at 200 mph is a unique sight but an increasingly dangerous one. One cannot but think in this day and age, whatever one's leanings towards this two week jamboree on the greatest circuit on earth, that eventually someone or something will step in and say 'enough'. That will be a sad day but it has to be weighed against the death toll mounting year by year to what is now the population of a small village. Many riders it has to be said should probably not be racing there: too old, too inexperienced in this type of racing and in some cases just not good enough to take on on such a demanding course with all its dangers. The number who start in these races is much higher than a circuit race simply because they start in two’s at intervals so the size of the field is determined by the number who enter, not as elesewhere limited to the fastest 24 who qualify.

It may well be the ultimate challenge to race there but the question today is, is it worth it?

Since its conception the IOM races including the Manx Grand Prix later in the year has now claimed over 250 riders, three more this year as I write in the first week of racing. However much the adage ‘he died doing what he wanted to do’ is trotted out there is a limit when it becomes acceptable for so many to die. Yes it will be a very sad day when the plug is eventually pulled on this event, and there is no sign at the moment that is going to happen, but I think eventually it will; the memorials are running out of road, Better to remember what it was when it was the greatest motor cycle race in the world with the greatest riders all wanting to win and the manufacturers wanting the prestige. Despite the bravery of all who ride there today it is no longer the greatest and perhaps it should be let go before it is pushed.

That is only my opinion; the many who still go there and race there would tell me to 'do one' and I would accept that as I am aware where they are coming from; but time will tell, this carnage can’t go on. Nostalgia should not be enough for its survival.

Friday, June 10, 2022

FRIDAY MUSIC: Steeleye Span, by JD

Back on home ground this week with music from the incomparable Steeleye Span who, after more than 50 years of music making, sound as good as ever!

And they are still going strong - 

Monday, June 06, 2022

'Now and Next' - what you may have missed in May

Here are links to the inaugural pieces on Substack

There is a FREE email subscription service...

IQ - a right-wing issue? (May 15)
Academic ability is not always the biggest factor in employability; sometimes, a drawback!
IQ and racism (May 16)
Some right-wingers seize on IQ as a mark of racial superiority; the research and reasoning may well be flawed

Education and the crab bucket (May 17)
Stupidity is not the greatest barrier to achievement in schools

Did Russia engineer the 2014 Maidan protests 
to secure her gas exports? (May 19)
Something I mooted at the time...

Chinese real estate and superstition (May 20)
Why millions of Chinese apartments remain uncompleted

The Beach Master (May 23)
A fat rogue seal's search for love

Azov - it's only the start (May 24)
Russia's territorial objectives, and global warming

Double crisis: Ukraine and US leadership (May 25)
60 years on from the Cuban missile crisis, a repeat - but without a strong US President or stand-ins

The Tobacco Tin (May 31)
A visit to a tiny Cornish fishing village, and its artist

Sunday, June 05, 2022

SUNDAY SUPPLEMENT: Abstract Artwork by JD

"There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality." - Picasso

For no particular reason I thought I would post a few abstract paintings. They all began as something but rather than removing any trace of reality they just sort of evolved into something else.

... and an alternative quote from the maestro which is appropriate for this 21st century - "The world today doesn't make sense, so why should I paint pictures that do?"

Saturday, June 04, 2022

WEEKENDER: God Save the Queen and Us, by Wiggia

World Government

It is interesting, in a macabre way, to listen to people's anguish and fears over what is currently going on and the inevitable consequences for the future.

While it has to be said most of what I hear in conversation comes from those in a similar age group, that is natural as that group have lived through all the previous threats, events and disasters of the past and have a yardstick by which to compare today's multi-faceted attacks on our freedoms, wealth and health.
So much is published every day that would have been headlines twenty years ago or even later that now doesn’t even get on the first six pages, never mind the front one; it is an endless churn of doom-laden statements and facts - I say facts but much is government disinformation; you know, those facts that only they have the answer for.

My old neighbour is typical. When this daily ‘stuff’ is regurgitated in the MSM he says to me “I no longer know what to believe as everything is contradicted by the same MSM“ and he prefers not to listen to or view the news any more. My wife takes a similar position, saying with some regret “there is nothing we can do anyway” and at our time of life it is up to the younger generation to get off their backsides, stop spending all their time on smart phones and do something. Wishful thinking I’m afraid but I think most of us know where she is coming from and those like her, we are getting old and have little left to give outside talking about it all.

The Jubilee will be with us when this goes up, a little light relief in the scheme of things but really just a short pause. I like many remember the coronation of Elizabeth, that and Churchill's funeral: no one puts on pageant as we did then, the last hurrah for a declining nation and Empire, both events with the war still a fresh memory had meaning and both were carried out in a way that at the time only we could do. Now it is like a look back in history to a forgotten time. Many would have it that way on a permanent basis, to all be replaced by a Republic and a President who would be chosen from the dross that infests our parliament these days, not much of a choice; yet the new generation of royals are making it easier for that change to come about.

The weekly blood-letting of the NHS continues with NHS Wales now declaring that it will take at least seven years to get waiting lists back to normal. Such a statement has no real meaning other than that the whole shebang is not fit for purpose. It’s a figure plucked from the sky: they have no idea how long it will really take and to many they will be dead long before the letter arrives with the good news that the NHS is ready to receive you.

Whatever happened to the long forgotten drive towards preventative practises that would give early warnings on health issues and save lives time and money when brought in. Disappeared down the memory hole along with other statements of intent like ‘you will all have a choice of GP and hospital’; how we laugh.

Partygate continues. In itself it should in normal circumstances be something to move on from as not important as long as those involved were doing good work for the country which is what we pay them for; but no, they do a lousy job for the country, have piss-ups when the rest can’t see dying relatives and talk about ‘within the rules’ as though that makes the numerous events in Downing Street insignificant. The latest leak that a couple were ‘at it’ at one of these events says it all regards any respect for those they serve and the rules they enforced. We will have to wait till after the Jubilee to see if any action will be forthcoming as to getting rid of Boris and replacing him with another waste of space.

"We hang petty thieves and appoint the great ones to public office"
- Aesop, Greek slave & fable author

Elsewhere the NI protocol problem has no end. Can anyone imagine France standing for Corsica to have a customs line in the Med and be annexed? Yet we, or Boris, thought this was a good way to get the job done despite many in the province warning about the result, and now Sinn Fein have their hands on the tiller because of the failure to sort the problem.

Minority groups grow ever more strident in their demands, whether it is trans people whose numbers grow like immigration every week to such a degree one asks are their any straight white males left; maybe not.

More and more black people want reparations for past grievances in the colonies, though the truth is the amount of money pumped into these places over decades has all disappeared into the ether and is or should not be followed by any reparations for the simple reason no one alive has suffered any hardships that are not of their own volition or those that govern them. We can’t wet nurse the world for ever; we can’t afford to look after our own any more - see the state of nursing homes.

With a million migrants coming to our shores last year it won't be long before there will be no one left in these countries to pay reparations to anyway, they will all be here.

You will note these migration figures are never discussed when government talks about the problems of housing the NHS and financial costs. It is always in the abstract as though they just arrive and mysteriously support themselves.

This is a response to the online petition against signing the WHO treaty that would bind countries to any mandate the WHO comes up with for any medical ‘emergency’; not that if we did not sign we would go along with it for the wrong reasons anyway. After the fiasco in many areas and the actual proof that the majority route had no advantage over the likes of Sweden and several USA states we seem to prefer ruining the country.

The problem is not treaties in themselves but treaties with organisations that have no mandate from this country and the people who can legislate mandates that impose restrictions and procedures on the individual that are contrary to the sovereign state. The WHO has many faults including its leader, see pieces passim, so why the rush to join up?

Government responded:

To protect lives, the economy and future generations from future pandemics, the UK government supports a new legally-binding instrument to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

COVID-19 has demonstrated that no-one is safe until we are all safe, and that effective global cooperation is needed to better protect the UK and other countries around the world from the detrimental health, social and economic impacts of pandemics and other health threats. The UK supports a new international legally-binding instrument as part of a cooperative and comprehensive approach to pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. 

At a World Health Assembly Special Session in late 2021, the 194 countries of the World Health Organization (WHO) agreed to launch a process to draft and negotiate a new instrument, through the auspices of WHO, to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. The negotiating process will be led by member states, including the UK. 

The instrument aims to improve how the world prevents, better prepares for, and responds to future disease outbreaks of pandemic potential at national, regional and global level. It would complement the existing international instruments which the UK has already agreed, such as the International Health Regulations. It would promote greater collective action and accountability. 

A treaty is an international agreement concluded between States or with international organisations in written form and governed by international law. The UK is party to a large number of multilateral treaties, including many through the United Nations (UN) and its specialised agencies such as the WHO. These instruments reflect obligations states have agreed to enter into to further common goals. 

The current target date for agreeing the text of the new instrument is at the World Health Assembly in May 2024. Over the next two years the UK aims to work towards building a consensus on how the global community can better prevent, prepare for, and respond to future pandemics and will actively shape, develop and negotiate the text. The new instrument would only be adopted by the World Health Assembly if the text achieves a two-thirds vote of the Health Assembly (Article 19 of the WHO Constitution). The Health Assembly is made up of representatives of WHO Member States. 

Once adopted, the instrument would only become binding on the UK if and when the UK accepts (ratifies) it in accordance with its constitutional process. In the UK this requires the treaty to be laid before Parliament for a period of 21 sitting days before the Government can ratify it on behalf of the UK. 

The Government always carefully considers whether domestic legislation will be required to implement the UK’s international obligations when negotiating a treaty. Not every treaty requires implementing legislation and it is too early to say if that would apply here. However, in all circumstances, the UK’s ability to exercise its sovereignty would remain unchanged and the UK would remain in control of any future domestic decisions about national restrictions or other measures.

If changes to UK law were considered necessary or appropriate to reflect obligations under the treaty, proposals for domestic legislation would go through the usual Parliamentary process and the UK would not ratify the treaty until domestic measures, agreed by Parliament, were in place. 

This process of ratification allows scrutiny by elected representatives of both the treaty and any appropriate domestic legislation in accordance with the UK’s constitutional arrangements. The Government does not consider a referendum is necessary, appropriate or in keeping with precedent for such an agreement.

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office

Petitions are a complete waste of time, they are a sticking plaster for supposed democracy but how many have been enacted upon or even listened to?

This is the list from the WHO of the promoted, not elected, board members of that organisation. Not a single nation objected to China being on that list; as Bill Gates largely funds the same it is wonder he is not there in his own right, and we want to sign up?

In Waitrose this week I picked up a copy of the Waitrose magazine Weekender, mainly because I wanted to check on the column by Anna Shepard - you may remember I commented on it a short time ago, called ‘My year living sustainably.’ This week was not so much fun as the earlier one and concentrated on growing your own. She doesn’t seem all that keen on GYO as slugs and snails come into the equation and dealing with them is time-consuming; she suggests that leaving the slugs to 50% of the produce is the answer, though real life experience shows slugs have no demarcation lines and perhaps she should forget that one.

The Weekender had a Jubilee wrapper round it and claims the regular edition is inside! This edition I assumed would be full of Jubilee hints on having a good time and what to eat and drink, but no, the front page doesn’t have 70 years on the throne, it has 50 years of Pride and an old B&W photo of  gays in dresses from that period long ago, turning over two pages of Pride milestones; over again and a black man thinks it is time to honour and celebrate lost friends to AIDS; honour? Turn again and seven questions for the frontman of The Feeling, whoever they are, who, you guessed it, is gay and he/she declares his mum is gay his uncle is gay and so is he, good for him, it’s all so complicated…

Turn again and that old Thespian gay Sir Ian McKellen has an article and a full page photo of himself looking very gay and turning another page we are told his story describing his fight for gay equality, though I have no recognition of his being gay holding back his career; perhaps I missed something.

Ah, the next page is the start of food and drink; good, some Jubilee nosh... no, oh what? It is rainbow biscuits from Edd (two D’s) Kimber, Bake Off gay chef, who talks about being gay alongside a recipe for rainbow biscuits.

At last, in the middle a Weekend special with a small mention of the Queen on the page in very small print beneath a large trifle; inside, another small photo of the Queen and then a series of quick dishes for the weekend and suitable drinks. Very little mention of what they are for i.e. Jubilee but we get the message.

Well one thing we got from all that is one sort of Queen has been superimposed on the real thing and in spades.

The week or day would not be complete without an offended group getting something cancelled, sacked or removed. This one comes from the permanently offended who always get their way regardless: a Canadian University puts out a poster showing among others two lesbian Muslim women in hijabs. The reaction was most conciliatory as they acknowledged this type of Muslim exists but have no desire for any depiction or discussion of it to be allowed so the poster was pulled; no surprise there then.

You see they do consider themselves to not only be a superior group but they also want you to know that and be quiet about it.

John D Wood the upmarket estate agents claim property prices have dropped, the beginning of a slump. Not according to them; in estate agent speak it is just a ‘repositioning’ in the market: large numbers have discovered escaping from the cities to larger houses with larger gardens is just what they need. They obviously have not seen the miniscule properties on the smallest footprints in Europe they are throwing up everywhere. If the footprint gets any smaller those already three-storied properties will become four/five stories like a layer cake.

Despite all this I shall be raising a glass to the old girl. Anyone who can put up with the crap she has seen and had to deal with over all those years and remain sane in the job deserves all the plaudits. Cheers!

Our hallowed and grossly overpriced property market kept up by a decade or more of artificially low interest rates and unnecessary incentives which simply push the price higher, has seen the first signs of a reduction in prices and a cooling market. This before the s*** really hits the fan in the autumn. People want properties with bigger gardens and larger houses outside of cities, says John D Woods, regional director; this when the Conservative party's biggest donors are building the smallest houses on the smallest plots in Europe. Something not right there!

Energy companies reap benefits from Direct Debit payments by hoisting monthly payments beyond what will be used in energy. Nothing new in that but now they are really going to town. Of course the answer is to bill monthly what you have used and that can be demanded as the energy watchdog has stated.

Our government is still writing cheques for billions as opposed to millions only 24 months ago. Will the magic money tree die of lack of funds or will it be propped up by the printing presses? There is only one answer to that and it is not a good one: the hard pressed taxpayer will start to run out of funds to pay for all this and resentment at being fleeced grows; endless interviews with obese mothers who can’t afford to feed their children but can afford cosmetic surgery, I-phones and strange hair colours start to look more than a bit dodgy in their utterances.

Boris gives even bigger cheques and armaments to Ukraine so he can at least in one area appear to lead the world, though again spending huge sums of money on a corrupt regime must feel similar to awarding PPE contracts to people who know people who know politicians. It all ends up disappearing into the clear blue sky and unlike the virus there is no end in sight; keep those presses going!

Carrie Johnson, the PM's wife is patron to many green and animal charities. This one is almost funny but shows how these small groups gain traction and make things more expensive and difficult for others:

The Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation (foundation is the new charity) is complaining about salmon farming and the use of ‘cleaner fish' which remove lice from the salmon. Their concern is that these cleaner fish are being killed and discarded and treated as a disposable resource to tackle lice infestation; they are the invisible victims of the salmon industry and it should be banned from using them unless their welfare can be guaranteed. Strange that salmon escape their scrutiny, but oh well, it is a first step I suppose. Chemicals were used before but the lice developed resistance so the greener natural way was used instead; as always nothing satisfies the green lobby other than banning everything.

Drug driving is rapidly catching up with drink driving as the latest figures show. What to do about it? Simples: put back traffic police that are now as rare as a GP's appointment. The police in response said they doing more kerbside drug tests; when did you last see a stop and test site by the road? No, me neither; the reality is there is no point in prosecuting them as if jailed there is nowhere to put them, hence with so many crimes they are no longer prosecuted, making life easier for the culprits and of course the police. The figures on convictions now are so poor that like GP surgeries in many cases it would be easier and cheaper to do without them.

A city the size of Birmingham is needed every year now to house immigrants. This was announced as Pritti Patel the hapless minister says the flights to Rwanda will start on the 14th June. The legal opposition has just started on these removals and again public money is found in large amounts for people who have never contributed to the system whereas we the public have had legal aid virtually removed in its entirety.

On the other hand overpaid footballers can hose money at their wives in a legal case that should have finished the day one came home and said 'I am going to sue the other' over something so trivial that millions of hubby's cash can be wasted putting things right. There was an answer but still, it's their money.

And then we are warned of power cuts this autumn because of Russia's invasion of Ukraine; that is what the Times said. Not true of course as the real problem that has been pointed out for many many years is our total failure to replace infrastructure and cut corners. No matter whether it is pot holes, or nuclear power stations and a myriad other items, we don’t replace, build or even maintain, so a nation sitting on coal gas and oil is going to ration energy. It's all your fault for wanting to live comfortably of course, and again certain minority groups will be wetting themselves in excitement at the thought of the proles not only not being able to afford to fill their cars but also not being able to charge their EVs, two goals for the price of one, with air travel becoming a bun fight from which you end up going nowhere but back home and the railways going on strike we will be back where we were in lockdown.

And a question to finish: what are they doing with all those dinghies they have collected in Dover and the south coast? Are they recyclable, for sale to the taxpayer at a discount to offset his funding of the migrants, or joined together to form a giant pontoon bridge across the Channel so as to save the bother of collecting the migrants in the first place? I feel we should be told.

Friday, June 03, 2022

New Substack post: 'Ukraine is a distraction from service to the people'


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FRIDAY MUSIC: Kate Wolf, by JD

Kate Wolf (1942 - 1986)

“There was a humanity in her singing, a generosity of spirit that never failed to move me. With Kate, the message was always — always — love. I never met a warmer-hearted person than Kate Wolf — ever.”
— Tom Paxton