Blog Archive

Friday, December 1, 2023

Government Debt, Sainsbury's Security, From AS400 to Chromebook, UK Immigration again, NL Votes Far Right, Has Rishi Lost His Marbles?

Government Debt and Reducing Inflation

In this financial year, the government is planning to spend £116bn on debt interest - almost as much as will be spent on education and more than we spend on Defence, Public Order, Housing and many other things. Why so much? Because they / the Bank of England have increased interest rates and because we owe so much money.

I still believe in my comments in an earlier blog about the Bank of England's policy to raise interest rates to reduce inflation being flawed. At last we have seen in November, inflation falling to 4.6%, less than half where it was in October 2022 at 11.2%. The reason for the fall is a reduction in global gas, electricity and oil prices;  Nothing that the UK government has done or influenced. 

Higher interest rates have led to wage prices increases above the rate of inflation, driven in part by higher mortgage rates and higher property rental prices. So instead of reducing inflation, our Bank and our Government have actually been helping to increase it! And then you have the huge increase in lending costs of government debt meaning taxes will have to go up even higher! Incompetence? 

Or perhaps I have just got it all wrong.

Sainsbury's Security

We recently bought a bottle of Martini at Sainsbury's and when we got home found that their security device was still attached making it impossible to open the bottle. 

I rang the store (took forever to get through) and was told that it required a special magnetic device to open it and that I would need to go back to a store to have it removed. This seemed like a good challenge and I certainly didn't want to waste 30 minutes and some fuel to return to the store.

I searched online and couldn't find any answers for such a device (there was plenty for other device types). I tried to prize out the tabs that prevented it from being removed but each time I pulled one out another one appeared below it! Time for my little hacksaw and 3 minutes later it was off and time to drink Martini!


Security device on Martini bottle finally removed

From AS400 to Chromebook via Windows - a 35 year journey

My schooling started in the early age of computers. I remember programming with punch cards. For one of my projects I got our school computer to compose a piece of music using random notes. Then I got together with two friends to play the music as a triple quartet (Piano, Violin, Trombone). It was no worse than Stockhausen! Arriving at Grass Roots in the mid 1980's the company  used an AS400. For all programming and also for secretarial work using these green dumb terminals:

AS400 Green Display Screen

I used to get extremely frustrated trying to type letters to my clients (yes, we sent letters!) as it was almost impossible to get any columns to align for quotations.I remember one letter with a column of figures that I sent back to the secretary about 4 times until she was about to cry as it wouldn't align. I gave up and sent it poorly presented.

Shortly afterwards, a consultant who was working with us showed me his new computer that was running an early version of Windows. He showed me the print button icon that he clicked with his mouse to get the letter to print on his little printer on his desk. Perfectly aligned! This was a revelation and a game-changer for me. I campaigned to have Windows computers for staff and was hugely disappointed when dozens of new dumb terminals were delivered and given to us so we could write our own letters and more. It was only a matter of time until they were binned and we switched to Windows PCs.


Then we moved to the era when everyone knew which processor and how much RAM was in their computer. I even had a T shirt with a 32MB RAM! Now of course most people don't have a clue what powers their machine.

Next I moved to Digital Fibre in 2014 and everyone was a devoted Mac expert, except for me. I remember going in for work in April 2014 and a brand new MacBook had been setup and was waiting for me on my desk. I still use the same MacBook almost 10 years later. That's quality for you!

However, I am writing this on my brand new Chromebook.  I bought it for several reasons:
1. My Macbook battery no longer holds a long charge - replacement price £250 - the same cost as the new Acer Chromebook
2. I want to discipline myself to save everything in the cloud and I believe the Chromebook will force me to do that
3. It weighs a fraction of the MacBook and my back is already saying thank you. (From carrying the MacBook around in my rucksack).

So I have gone 360 degrees - from a dumb terminal with everything saved centrally to a 21st century internet device that saved everything centrally in the cloud!

Migration rises since Brexit

I believe that many people who voted for Brexit in the 2016 referendum did so as they believed the lying politicians who said immigration would reduce as Britain took back control. In fact, as the graph below from the BBC and the ONS shows, it is higher than ever. Only a severe pandemic and lockdown can temporarily reduce it.

Another European Country Moves Far Right

Following Viktor Orban's re-election in Hungary and Giorgia Meloni in Italy another EU country has voted in the Far Rights: Geert Wilders in the Netherlands. 

Ss Leonie de Jonge, professor of European Politics at Groningen University, points out, his party programme is anything but moderate.

"The PVV is an archetypical populist radical right party, characterised by nativism, authoritarianism and populism," she said.  Mr Wilders wants to cancel the overseas aid budget, cut EU funding and reduce the number of foreign students coming in.

Wilders, Orban, Meloni

He promises to have 14 year-olds treated the same as adults in criminal cases, cut taxes, provide 10,000 more police officers, show zero tolerance for "street scum" and bring back the controversial Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) character.

His manifesto ends with a promise of a government that will "put the Dutch back at number one!"

BBC News 25/11/2023

My previous article on migration into Europe is the main reason for the far lurch right. Until more moderate politicians and the EU do something more substantial about this, it will continue.  Along with the huge rise in antisemitism, things haven't looked this bad for many years.

Has Rishi Lost His Marbles?

One of the beautiful Parthanon Marbles, currently in the British Museuam

It seems surprising that the UK Prime Minister is prepared to snub the Greek Prime Minister, a close ally, over some old artefacts. If this causes a diplomatic incident, how on earth can he be expected to work with less friendly countries?

Statues and a stunning frieze

"Parthenon marbles row raises fresh fears over fraught UK-EU relations"

"War of words between Athens and London escalates after Rishi Sunak’s snub to Greek prime minister
William Hague, a former foreign secretary who is sometimes regarded as a mentor to Sunak, also weighed in, describing the affair as “not a great advert for diplomacy all round actually”.
He added that it “shouldn’t be impossible” to come to an agreement on the Parthenon marbles, but also told Times Radio that Mitsotakis could have “approached things a bit better” and that Sunak would not have cancelled without good reason."

The Guardian 28th November 2023

Quote for the Month 

"In Israel, Arabs can vote. In Gaza, Jews are either hostages or dead." 

Adam Sidbury, 1st December 2023

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