Thursday 26 November 2020

Lady in Waiting

The review, in my least favourite magazine in a very crowded field, the London Review of Books, of a new memoir of Princess Margaret, contains some gems.

To the reviewer, Mrs. Christopher Logue, I wish to say: the authoress is Lady Glenconner, not Glenconner.

"Glenconner was one of the queen’s maids of honour, attending rehearsals in Westminster Abbey – where it became apparent that the Lord Great Chamberlain, the Marquess of Cholmondeley, was not up to the job. The job was to help the queen change into her various ceremonial robes. The marquess, who had probably never had to ‘dress himself, let alone anybody else’, was completely flummoxed by the hooks and eyes, which had to be replaced with poppers, and the queen reported afterwards that the violent way he pushed her every time he did one up was ‘tiresome’."

"Having Margaret to stay at Glenconner’s own house in Norfolk was like entertaining a well-meaning but impulsive child. Margaret’s attempt to be helpful by making her own morning tea stalled when she couldn’t work the kettle, and ‘more than once’ she was found to have dismantled the chandelier and to be washing it in the bath."

I used to think the 1950s colourless and drably modern, but that was not true. Certainly they were not, and nor were the 1960s, 1970s or 1980s, in what were once called the best circles. It all makes me feel terribly sad to think how England has changed. The intellectuals, many of whom are certifiable, have done so much harm. 

A spectre is haunting Europe

A spectre is haunting Europe — the spectre of communism. So begins the Communist Manifesto and Marx was right - Communism was a spectre, in the sense of being non existent but causing fear. I stole this idea from AJP Taylor.

Now the spectre that hunts the developed world is Nazism, which is an even less real danger than Communism was in 1848.

Yet this fear is being like the Nazis, in some way or another, is remaking the world.

Of course nonexistent dangers can become real one day - as happened in Russia almost 70 years after Marx wrote, thanks to the cunning of Lenin. Mussolini's fascism or Nazism won't come back, but some extremist ideology might somehow rise from the dead. The liberals of all parties who rule the developed world seem to be doing everything they can to make this possible.

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Knut M. Wittkowski said this on LinkedIn yesterday

Never again? — When I grew up in Germany, I understood that "never again" should people die because others were "just following rules". Now in the US, I'm facing the same dilemma Germans faced during the 3rd Reich.
As a virus disease with R0=2, SARS-CoV-2 will spread until 50% of the population are immune. About 25% have immunity from previous CoV infections, 25% need to develop immunity de novo. Of course, vulnerable people should be able to protect themselves by wearing a mask. Then the virus will spread predominantly among low-risk people who will become immune until, within a few weeks, the 25% is reached and the vulnerable can „unmask“.
I'm not obese, don't smoke or have diabetes, COPD, ... , so I'd like to act responsibly and give the more vulnerable an advantage from wearing a mask. Unfortunately, I‘m often forced to wear a mask, too. Hence, if I'm "just following the rules", I'm increasing the risk that somebody vulnerable will become infected and die. Even worse, those who die don't count toward the 25% threshold, so more of the vulnerable will die. (This is one way "mitigation" causes more deaths in an epidemic.)
I'm now facing the same dilemma as my grandparents: as a professional, I need to "just follow the rules" and accept that this will cause deaths.

Yes another Nazi analogy - I wish people would stop making them - but I wonder if he is right. 

Sunday 15 November 2020

Three quotations from today's Sunday Times

“I don’t think he [Donald Trump] has a master plan here,” said Charlie Sykes, a conservative radio host. “You see this with the stumbling and bumbling but generally he realises he needs to position himself not as a loser but as a victim. Being a loser is off-brand for him. But being the victim and a leader of a grievance movement? That has political and commercial benefits.”

David Axelrod, Obama’s former strategist, on CNN during the election campaign: “Biden ... is kind of Mr Magoo-ing his way through. You keep worrying that he’s going to hit a wall, but he’s moving forward.”

“He’s the only person who could have beaten Donald Trump,” a former Obama official said. “Anyone to the left would have completely lost the election, and there is no one further to the right.”

Thursday 12 November 2020

Important clause in small print in the armistice in Nagorno Karabakh

I considered visiting the Azeri exclave of Nakhchivan last year when I went to Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan. Azeris are Turks or at any rate very close cousins to the Turks. As a result of the peace deal Nakhchivan will now be linked by road as well as air to the the rest of Azerbaijan. This is important because it means Turkey, which has a very short border with Nakhchivan, will be connected by road now to Baku. This is a huge victory for Erdogan.

He also puts Turkish peacekeepers alongside Russian ones in Nagorno Karabakh.

I had hoped to visit Nagorno Karabakh this autumn. In the long forgotten pre-pandemic era it was reachable from Bucharest by a cheap flight at 00.40 to Yerevan and a picturesque 5 or 6 hour drive. lt is much more my sort of peace than this delightful mass market tourist village where I write this- but with only a few people and they mostly Turks I love it. I shall blog about it.

Stefan Voloseniuc and disappearing Romania

Romania-Insider has the story of Stefan Voloseniuc, an impressive man who came to England as a navvy speaking no English and now has a company with a 30 million GBP turnover. He is standing to be representative of the Diaspora in the Romanian Parliament.

What a good idea that is - if the Diaspora should have a vote let them have their own MP.

The article informed me that over 600,000 Romanians living in the UK have applied for the EU Settlement Scheme, which allows them to stay in the country after Brexit. Meanwhile, the total number of Romanians living abroad is somewhere between 4 and 6 million, according to various sources, compared to a resident population of just over 19 million in Romania.

This is a catastrophe for Romania. The same catastrophe that afflicts all the former Communist European Union member states.

Tuesday 10 November 2020

The Knut thinks Covid-19 is gone, lockdowns have bred Covid-20A and will breed Covid-21

I was very hopeful that Covid-19 was fading away fast in August, though certainly not in Romania. Now the word is overjoyed that there might be normality by the spring because of the Pfizer vaccine.

Were I (and many others) far too optimistic or have the epidemiologists who advise governments got things badly wrong? 

Knut Wittkowski, until 2018 Head of Biostatistics, Epidemiology, and Research Design at Rockefeller university, is sure that they got things badly wrong. he said on Linkedin on Sunday:

The original virus is not spreading anymore in most of Europe and the Northeast. It's an epidemic, not an endemic. It is gone like Influenza-B-19 and Influenza-A-20. What is beginning to spread now in Europe is not the same virus as before, it is 20A.EU1/2 with six evasive mutations to resist natural and vaccine immunity and cause COVID-20. If we don't "mitigate", it will be gone in two months, with lockdowns it will take another 9 months, enough to breed a new strain for COVID-21.

Friday 6 November 2020

Why Trump lost - he did not appeal to white men enough

My instinct was that Trump could win. The polls, which I came round to believing only on the eve of the election, were utterly wrong. Many, many Republicans do not trust pollsters. They think they are part of the Blob. 

I should have trusted my instinct. You always should. In 2016 my instinct told me Trump would win but I let a very intelligent American Democrat pal persuade me he knew better than me. This time, Biden had had a lead in the polls over Trump since September last year but while votes were counted Trump for some time seemed the winner. 

Women didn't lose the election for Trump nor did Hispanics or black voters whose votes swung to him. It was white males who lost it for him. BLM riots should have made them flock to him. His Democrat son in law is to blame. Or to be congratulated, depending on your politics. 

Thankfully, in my opinion, Biden will not seek a second term and the Senate's Republican. The Supreme Court is no longer the judicial wing of the Democratic Party. It will interpret the law objectively, not treat the Constitution as a living document. 

Will Trump win in 2024 or will a new right winger emerge? Whatever happens I hope the Republican Party of the Bushes is dead forever.

Thursday 5 November 2020

No colonial guilt in the 3rd century BC

'So now, in the first place, I shall recount the ancient ordeals of our ancestors, drawing remembrance thereof from their renown. For they also are events which all men ought to remember, glorifying them in their songs, and describing them in the sage sayings of worthy minds; honouring them on such occasions as this, and finding in the achievements of the dead so many lessons for the living.' 

Lysias, one of the ten Attic orators included in the "Alexandrian Canon" in the 3rd century BC. 

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Are vegans pro-life?

The first line of this post on Reddit is: "I got super offended reading through a vegan board saying human life also falls under veganism." Readers add comments to reassure the offended person that pro-life vegans are, in fact, very rare.

The offended person said she had become pregnant as a result of rape and had an abortion. I am very sympathetic to her.

The late Sir John Mortimer, author of Rumpole, used to say it was a shame that people tended to have political views in packages and that to be opposed to hunting foxes meant being in favour of abortion.

He was a socialist who hunted. I think it is odd that many people who think killing foxes is wrong don't think abortion is. But there you are.