Japanese commuters

The triumph of good sense

Ray E.

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Paying for blood: a good thing?

Only countries that pay for plasma are self-sufficient in it. (Italy where donors are given time off work, is close to self-sufficiency.) Half of America’s plasma is shipped to Europe- 20M contributions worth. Canada imports 80% of its plasma products from America. Australia imports 40% of its plasma products too. (see graph)

Pay and get security of supply



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Who Will Succeed Theresa May? A Guide

Margaret Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister in 1990 leaving the Conservative party bereft. Six leaders in the intervening twenty-eight years hasn’t reduced the grief. All six were mediocre.1 The Conservative Associations are dominated by the elderly who are the electorate choosing the next leader. They choose from a shortlist of two after a vote by Conservative MPs. Leaders must win two elections. Firstly, MPs vote for a shortlist then Associations have the decisive vote. Candidates must win a political vote and a beauty contest. In August 2018 there are five viable candidates.2

The odds offered by Paddy Power are in a very narrow range. Effectively the ante-post betting says, “It’s an open race”. Candidates must appeal to colleagues in parliament and that’s the first and most important job. The imperative is to be on the shortlist for the Associations’ consideration. Although speculative in the extreme the incentive is that ante-post betting offers the juiciest odds.

Jacob Rees-Mogg 5-1: He’s very well known as the Voice of Brexit. His media persona is that of an intellectual, which is surprising considering his 2nd class degree (70% of Oxford students get this). After eight years of Conservative government he hasn’t even been Minister for Paper-clips. This inexperience is a negative in the MP vote. Rees-Mogg is a one-trick pony and who’d be toxic in a General Election campaign. But he has a substantial following amongst Brexiters The Associations might well go with their heart rather than their brain.

Boris Johnson 5-1. Former Foreign Secretary, serial adulterer, buffoon, bone idle and betrayed long-term friend David Cameron in 2016. Was seen as lovable and, falsely, believed to be bright (2nd class degree, Oxford) but has been found out. Works hard at being controversial and repulsive but wont get on the shortlist. And if, astonishingly he did, could be too sleazy for Association voters despite their love of a face off the telly.

Michael Gove 6-1: A senior government minister for eight years with a track record. Four years as Education secretary were driven by ideological certainties some of which now look flaky, especially Free Schools. Principal negative was his betrayal of Johnson, his friend of thirty years, in 2016. Gove’s own 2016 leadership campaign was farcical and flared out. He acts as if he’s an intellectual (2nd class, Oxford) with numerous media appearances on high-brow shows.

Sajid Javid 6-1: A total outlier, he’s a working-class British-Asian politician. Went to Exeter University unlike the other four (Oxford) and is intellectually committed to Conservativism. Became a multi-millionaire as a senior banker. Appointed Home Secretary in 2018, by Theresa May, and immediately disowned her signature anti-immigration policy (hostile environment). Recently offered up two ISIS British prisoners to the USA knowing they’d probably be executed if found guilty. This will appeal to the ‘hangers and floggers’ in the Associations. If the Associations want to revisit the Thatcher years, they need to break the mould and a British-Asian, working-class multi-millionaire could be just the job.

Jeremy Hunt 10-1: Hunt has held senior office since 2010 with six years at Health. He’s had a torrid time trying to implement the Conservative Austerity programme in the face of rising demand and massive public support for the NHS.3 Nonetheless with good manners and calm assurance he held his position. He forced step-change increases in wages and funding for the NHS. Hunt got a first class Oxford degree and he’s rich, which are positives for MPs and the Associations. Johnson imploded over Brexit and Hunt was promoted to Foreign Secretary in 2018.

The shallowness of the gene pool is shown by four of the candidates. Hunt is the best of the Oxford clones and Javid is the clear outlier. Are the Conservatives looking for a new Thatcher? If they are they should go for Javid who’d break the mould as she did in 1975.

1 John Major, William Hague, Michael Howard, Ian Duncan Smith, David Cameron and Theresa May. Three have been Prime Minister- Major, Cameron and May (still PM in August 2018). The best was Major a decent humane man, unlike the extremist Theresa (hostile environment) May, and run-for-cover Cameron.

2 The list and odds are from Paddy Power a British bookmaker on 4th August 2018. Go to https://www.paddypower.com/politics?tab=uk-politics for a complete list of odds, which includes Nigel Farage who is neither a Conservative or an M P.

3 National Health Service


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Appointing a new deputy sheriff

The local sheriff was looking for a deputy, so Gomer – who was not exactly the sharpest nail in the bucket went in to try out for the job.

“Okay,” the sheriff drawled, “Gomer, what is 1 and 1?”

“11” he replied.

The sheriff thought to himself, “That’s not what I meant, but he’s right.”

“What two days of the week start with the letter ‘T’?”

“Today and tomorrow.”

He was again surprised that Gomer supplied a correct answer that he had never thought of himself.

“Now Gomer, listen carefully: Who killed Abraham Lincoln?”

Gomer looked a little surprised himself, then thought really hard for a minute and finally admitted, “I don’t know.”

“Well, why don’t you go home and work on that one for a while?”

So, Gomer wandered over to the pool hall where his pals were waiting to hear the results of the interview. Gomer was exultant. “It went great! First day on the job and I’m already working on a murder case!”


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Book Review: Omar El Akkad ~ American War

Omar was born in Egypt, lived in Qatar and is now a Canadian. This matters, American War is a dystopian novel set in the late 21st century. America is engaged in a vicious civil war. Climate change has caused havoc and the majority, in the North, have passed laws making fossil fuel use illegal. The southern states have resisted and are under a siege. There is only one end.

Sarat Chestnut lives in Louisiana a rebel state. The privations of being on the wrong end of conflict are many. Her father is killed by suicide bombers while waiting for a permit to work in the North. The family then move to the relative safety of Camp Patience. Once there there life is a bleakly nihilistic. Sarat grows up with the routines of oppression shaping her psychological DNA.

Recruiters groom suicide bombers who usually achieve nothing. Sarat is also recruited but resists the empty glamour of suicide bombing. She become a sniper. Smugglers not only smuggle commodities they also smuggle information. Sarat’s greatest success is the assassination of a general. This unleashes a whirlwind. Sarat and her family are forced to live on the coast. Once there she’s kidnapped and placed into a detention centre where interrogation escalates into torture when she resists. She’s finally broken. Her final act of resistance is breath-taking.

Why you should read this book: It’s a brilliant dystopian metaphor for the conflict in the middle-east with roles reversed.

Why you shouldn’t read this book: You’re a climate change denier and believe American power is permanent.

Buy it at https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_12?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=american+war+omar+el+akkad&sprefix=american+war%2Caps%2C181&crid=3EF5SV0N85RYU


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Trump’s gigantic wall is a medieval response to a non-problem

1 The USA has a population of 326.8 million (Britain has a population of 65.6 million people)


2 The USA has a landmass of 3.797 million sq. miles (Britain is 80.823 sq. miles)


3 Therefore the USA needs a gigantic wall to stop it from being swamped.


If the USA had Britain’s population density they’d have a population of 15,453,600,000 people, which is just about twice the world population. 


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Begging and Beggars: London Borough of Havering, August 2018

Just the other day*, my wife and I went to Sainsbury’s in Hornchurch High Street. We passed three beggars sitting near the entrance – none actually saying anything, each looking pathetic. I suppose the older woman seemed more needful, but I stolidly refused to put my hand in my pocket, even though I had lots of loose change.

Whilst my wife was in Sainsbury’s I went to the pub next door. Seated by a window inside, I absently minded noticed yet another beggar across the road. He had a cardboard plaque with some message that was too far away to see properly. Then, blow me down if yet another younger man this time sat just the other side of the window I was looking through. I didn’t see anyone give money to either of the two that I could see, but I did see a gaunt man I suppose to be about mid-forties approach the beggar on the other side of the street and some money was paid by the beggar. The man then immediately approach the other on outside my window. More money was paid over, I think in coins as I didn’t see any paper notes.

Later, when I told my wife what I had seen we both speculated, what it might have been! Was the gaunt man renting pitches for beggars? Was he perhaps running a protection racket? Could I have seen money given for drugs being paid around mid-day on the open busy high street with hundreds of people innocently shopping or just gossiping while pushing babies in prams? Whatever it was I couldn’t help thinking how desperate must life get to make them beg openly on the street?

Or, are they not begging for enough money to buy food I expect we have all heard stories about beggars who choose to live that life and make a tidy sum each day out of it. I have heard a most fantastic story of some beggars or was it some buskers making £500 a day.

As it so happened on that very day when we got back to the estate where we live. I learned about David. He lived with his Step Mum all his life, but she sadly died earlier this year. When the Council were notified, their records show that she’d inherited the two-bed flat when her husband died. As there’s a strict rule on tenancies only to be inherited once, David was ineligible to inherit.

David is working as a pump attendant in an all night garage in Hornchurch earning the minimum wage. I think Mum used to subsidise his poor wage by dipping into her Old Age Pension. It was therefore a huge shock for David to learn how expensive food was. It came as an even bigger shock to learn that the Council had no single bed flats to rent to him and that he would have to seek a private let tenancy on the open market.

David is in his mid-fifties now and currently can show total financial assets of £28,000. (I think his Mum had some life insurance.) However, at an interview with the Council he was informed that he can only receive income support once his assets are reduced down to £16,000. That shouldn’t take too long given the eye watering high rents private landlords charge for the most meagre accommodation these days. As David explained, he can’t get a better paid job as he has no skills. His assets have got to last at least ten years until he’s eligible for old age pension, or if the pension age is  increased possibly for the rest of his life!

I can easily see David living rough on the streets in just a couple of years from now, if he doesn’t receive some good advice on his future.

*August 2018



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