Rants and Observations

Oct. 9, 2019

Mostly, school was awful-

Our teachers beat us. We rebels were chastised the most. 

The French teacher whacked us with a sports shoe. For every mistake in homework, he deducted a half point from ten. Minus scores, like mine, resulted in a visit to our sadistic headmaster for a caning. Result-I Loathed French and was caned weekly.

When you retire to a foreign country. You have choices. You can mix solely with English speakers and attempt to transform your area into little Florida or Texas. You can socialise with the like minded and eat, play games and live as you did back home.

We decided to learn Spanish.  I am slow at learning languages, especially when the teacher is interesting and or attractive. However, we have discovered the joy of sharing cultures, intelligent conversation and friendship.

We take invididual classes, not wanting to learn the mistakes and grating mispronunciation of others. We have no desire to hear the same political views and moans we heard in the USA. 

Over the years, we had 5 different, local teachers. We are good friends with 4. We socialise with their families.  This has opened insights into a new world. We feel at home.


Oct. 2, 2019

First the good news about small businesses- They are definately more nimble. They have to be because there are no or very few layers of management between them and their customers, employers, creditors and suppliers. This means that they react faster to recoveries and recessions. Hiring and firing. Keeping the economy going.

All the economic research I have read over the years indicates small businesses are the main job creators. Big corporations buy up others and consolidate, downsize, offshore and introduce mechanization. This destroys jobs.

Now for some bad news. Not all but most small businesses I have observed sail close to the wind on laws, taxes, employee safety and benefits. Owners often put themselves and their families first. They can be like dictators, some benevolent, many not. Many have entitled and not very effective second or third generation family management and ownership. This limits promotion prospects and leads to innefficient managers rather than meritocracy and innovators.

A few small entrepreneurs drive their enterprises into high growth and eventually slower growth, huge corporations like the tech giants. Most are not that ambitious, that clever, ot that lucky. They take risks to start, but avoid them to limit downside and protect family incomes. Their cost of borrowing and limits on borrowing by their banks re inforce risk aversion.

The myth of the small guy and the local store as universally benign is nonsense. They are as likely to be good or bad as any corporate manager. They are humans and include sociopaths, paranoids and all the rest.

Lastly, the only businesses that the large socialist economies in Cuba, the former Comecon countries and the rest allowed were small businesses. There are reasons for that. The central bureucrats' attempts to destroy markets failed. This led to shortages, black markets, queues and price instability. Allowing small businesses helped ameliorate these problems.


Oct. 2, 2019


Scientists often disagree. The number and eminence of those on either side does not ultimately decide the final acceptance or otherwise of a proposition.

There are inumerable cases of scientists getting things wrong. Newton and Einstein were were both corrected later, despite their genius.

Scientists are humans with all the failings of our species popping up, especially at higher levels, pride, greed, avarice, lust and sociopathy. These failings muddy the waters.

The other sides to this discussion include:

1. The impact of meat production on the environment
2. The way humans feel about the cruelty of meat production and processing

Non experts and maybe even scientists in this specific field tend to follow their prejudices.

Jul. 27, 2019

Relying on electricity, green or not, does not save us from the dangers of increased temperatures. 
In the UK.

We have just had record temperatures. This has caused electric power for trains to crash and set fire to parts of the network. Diesel trains are still running.

Major supermarkets have lost refrigeration. There are multiple other failures in infrastructure, partly due to related lightening storms.

The true costs of global warming are likely to be higher than anticipated, if the electricity infrastructure is insecure.

One activist complained that the BBC made it seem like a competition between areas for the hottest, instead of a climate crisis.

Another claims we should be saying that this might be the coolest temperature in the next 125 years,

Whatever, it was bloody unpleasant!


Jul. 13, 2019

In agreement with Samuel Johnson’s, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life.”, sign me up for euthanasia.

We struggled there for a few days, suffering from nasty bronchitis, gasping and croaking around Mayfair. Ivy went shopping and meeting her friends around Oxford Street. It was thronged with people from all over the world.

Visiting the area around Carnaby Street, I had wandered into some future dimension. My apparent invisibility saved me. There had obviously been a cull of all people over 55. The young were into expensive fashions, eating tofu and speaking into their coms-devices. They had lost the power of speaking to each other. Other escapees from the cull were to be found in art galleries and Fortnum and Mason.

Wandering around Old Bond Street and the Burlington Arcade, revealed the depths of decadence and unnecessary consumption of modern Londoners. Jewellery for multi-millionaires and fashions for the uber rich were everywhere. No wonder the people in the North and Scotland have nothing in common with those here.

The workers, from Eastern Europe, are rebuilding the west end. They eat their sandwiches in the grand squares. Doorways host beggars. Romanians and North Africans have replaced the traditional ex-servicemen and mentally ill. The contrast with the parades of throbbing gold-plated Ferraris, Lamborghinis and McLarens is disgusting.

Friends dined with me in a vast eatery owned by a well-known Russian oligarch. It was opposite our hotel. At night, there were hundreds of tough looking Russians around the street outside. Why is anyone worried about the threat of Putin? His hard men are already here.

Our London friends all want to remain in Europe. They are champagne socialists with pricey houses and fat pensions. My view is that a wall should be built round London. It should be seceded to the highest bidder. The EU, Saudi Arabia, Russia, China and the US might all bid.

The money could be spent on the cash starved, newly independent countries of the former UK. Unfortunately, the Saudis, the EU and oligarchs already seem to own the place.