Saturday, 30 January 2021

2020 did not see an unprecedentedly high number of deaths in England and Wales

The Office of National Statistics (ONS) reported that the number of deaths in 2020 in England and Wales was 77,161 higher than the number registered in 2019. This was the biggest year-on-year increase since 1940.


You can only die once. The flu season in 2019 was very mild, which meant more people than normal survived to die in 2020.


The ONS reported that the total number of deaths in England and Wales was 506,790 in 2013, 501,424 in 2014, 529,655 in 2015, 525,048 in 2016, 533,253 in 2017, 541,589 in 2018, 530,841 in 2019 and 608,00 in 2020.


Much more important than these numbers is the fact that the 'age-standardised mortality rate' (adjusted for changes in both the size and structure of the population) in 2020 was the highest since 2008.


It was no higher than any of the years before 2008. The death rate in England and Wales in 2020 was lower than in the early 2000s.

Without lockdown another 97,000 would have died from Covid-19 this winter alone, according to a government estimate, but that is of course a guess. It can't be known what would have happened has looser restrictions been tried.

Estimates and modelling are one thing but there should be evidence by now after ten months of the pandemic - there should be an obvious reduction in deaths in places with lockdowns compared to places without a lockdown, but there isn't.


Peru has had the harshest, longest lockdown and has the highest death rate per capita in Latin America.


Romania had no lockdown after May and Covid deaths have been falling to the extent that they have reopened restaurants.


Belarus lied about the number of deaths and the real numbers were three times what the government said. Still, despite no restrictions of any sort, the number of deaths per capita in Belarus is no worse than with a bad flu season.


The report also says that more than 100,000 people are likely to die from non-coronavirus causes because of the pandemic. 40,000 may die over the coming years because of the economic consequences of the lockdowns. Again it's a guess.


I know don't know the figures for all of Europe but Swedish deaths in 2020 were about the same as in 2000-2003 and about 2.5% higher than 2018, despite not having a lockdown.


Two thirds of Covid-related deaths in Sweden three or four months ago had occurred in old people's homes and the average age of death was 84. Three quarters of Covid-related deaths, where Covid was mentioned on the death certificate, in old people's homes in one Swedish province were not in fact deaths from Covid.

Landor, amaranth and daffodils

It’s Walter Savage Landor’s 246th birthday. 

I came across him first quoted in the enchanting play and book 84 Charing Cross Road. My favourite sentence in English literature is still this. 

"There are no fields of amaranth on this side of the grave: there are no voices, O Rhodope ! that are not soon mute, however tuneful : there is no name, with whatever emphasis of passionate love repeated, of which the echo is not faint at last."
It made me read the Imaginary Conversations or some of them. 

I was sorry when I went up to Cambridge to find nobody had heard of Landor, he who threw his cook out of a first floor window into the garden below and then said,

"Oh God I forgot the daffodils."

The strange case of Ursula von der Leyen and the AstraZeneca vaccines

Deaths from other illnesses are just sad facts but for every death from Covid-19 a politician is held to blame.

I suppose it's what the 1970s hard left feminists meant by 'The personal is political'.

On Wednesday Boris Johnson was blamed for 100,000 deaths, but today he is praised for the UK having five vaccines available or close to being available. And what looks like a watertight contract to get AstraZeneca vaccines ahead of Europe.


The UK paid money down months before the EU finished haggling over the price of a drug being sold at no profit by the manufacturer. When cabinet ministers saw a "best endeavours" clause in the AstraZeneca contract like the one in the EU contract with AZ, Alok Sharma and "Matt" Hancock "insisted on a legally binding promise to serve Britain first". Mr. Hancock is not the complete ass I had thought.


Had Brexit not happened, the UK like any other member state in the EU could have opted to buy the vaccine on her own. The UK was invited to join in the EU purchasing arrangements despite Brexit. The British chose not to, knowing how slow and bad the EU would be at making decisions. 

However, in an interview in the Daily Telegraph Miss Bingham, chairwoman of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, said she "voted Remain but recognises that Brexit allowed the UK to go it alone in purchasing, well in advance, the vaccines most likely to succeed."

Countless people on Facebook and Twitter have asked for years what concrete benefit Brexit would provide. 

Even a week ago my friend Tony did so. He was emotional because French customs officers had confiscated an English lorry driver's ham sandwich.

Friday, 29 January 2021

Good Housekeeping



Did you guess that (at least the US edition of ) Good Housekeeping magazine now believes in Critical Theory?

I did.

From this week's edition. 

"Diet culture has long been institutionalized and is part of an oppressive system that’s intrinsically tied in with racism and patriarchy. “Whenever we create standards about how we all should live, these norms always benefit those individuals who are already in power,” says Sabrina Strings, Ph.D., associate professor of sociology at the University of California at Irvine and the author of Fearing the Black Body: The Racial Origins of Fat Phobia."

Good Housekeeping was never just about housekeeping but always kept au courant with up-to-date political ideas. In 1921 Vice-President Calvin Coolidge spoke to the magazine about restricting immigration to white people and said:

“There are racial considerations too grave to be brushed aside for any sentimental reasons. Biological laws tell us that certain divergent people will not mix or blend. The Nordics propagate themselves successfully. With other races, the outcome shows deterioration on both sides.”

In a century, if it survives which I suppose is not very likely (who reads it now?) I wonder what political ideas the magazine will express.

Thursday, 28 January 2021

Please repeat after me: we do not start life as blank sheets of paper



I find it very mysterious that one cannot say middle class children are on the whole more intelligent than working class ones for genetic reasons.

If this mystery were solved so many fallacies could be exploded.

Well-known British political blogger Guido Fawkes, who sometimes links to my articles, quoted an anonymous well known Tory educationalist who told him, “You can’t say it, that’s a third rail it’s inadvisable to touch in this debate”.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Why people love or hate Trump - it's abortion, stupid



'...25 per cent of American voters say that abortion is the most important issue for them; that equates to tens of millions of people who will have put an X by Trump’s name because on that one issue he was aligned with them.

 

'This is the key to understanding the Trump phenomenon and also the hostility of the media; because the US media elite, like our own media class, overwhelmingly supports the pro-choice position, itself a central tenet of intersectional feminism. Trump’s other attributes – his uncouthness, his flagrant narcissism, his erratic outbursts – were certainly irritants but it was Trump as an obstacle to the final triumph of progressive thinking which made him such a hate-figure for American journalists.

 

'This will have long-term consequences, for while many Americans will be yearning today for normal politics to resume, many others will be harbouring a dark resentment against a media which stacked the deck against their man. Trump’s charge that the election was ‘stolen’ has not been substantiated in any legal sense but in another way the charge has force. When a media campaign is so one-sided, when the media coverage is so very partisan, those on the losing side are bound to feel it was unfair. And that bodes ill for the future because, for America to recover its equilibrium, it will need a media that is trusted to be fair; and we’re a million miles from that point right now.'
Robin Aitken in today's Daily Telegraph

Mrs Cleveland was 21 and 27 years younger than Grover Cleveland when they married

With a few hours to go before the most unusual U.S. President since Abraham Lincoln leaves office, I stumbled by chance on the story of Frank or Francis Folsom, who became Mrs Grover Cleveland.

She was 21 when she became the youngest ever First Lady of the United States in 1886 and is the only woman to have become First Lady a second time, when in 1893 her husband returned to the White House for his second term six and a half years later. She was christened Frank after her uncle, but chose to be called Francis because it was more feminine. 

She met her future husband when she was a baby and he was 27. He became her guardian when her father died when she had just turned 11 and paid for her education. 

Grover Cleveland, with Woodrow Wilson, was one of the only two Democrat presidents to serve between 1861 and 1933. Along with the previous Democrat president, James Buchanan, he was one of the only two bachelors to be elected US President. He was then aged 47 and when he married in the Blue Room of the White House he was 49. 

The couple had five children. The age gap did not matter to the public.

Although a bachelor when he became President, Cleveland was a father, giving rise to the famous chant in the 1884 election campaign of “Ma, ma, where's my Pa?" After he won, Democrats replied, "In the White House, ha ha ha!”

Tuesday, 19 January 2021

The last heir to the Ottoman throne died last night

"Dündar Abdülkerim Osmanoğlu, the last heir to the throne of the now-defunct Ottoman Empire, passed away late Monday at the age of 90, the family said in a statement." (The Daily Sabah this morning.)

His great uncle was the last Sultan and Caliph. Had Turkey been on England's rather than Germany's side in the Great War she would still rule the Middle East and the world would be more peaceful.

Monday, 18 January 2021

America is the biggest threat to the West but also the last redoubt of freedom of speech

For more than thirty years America has been the biggest threat to the West by exporting political correctness but also the one country in the world that has freedom of speech.

By contrast free speech in England is a memory. It is the same on the Continent, though Eastern Europe is much freer than the West. Who would have imagined it in 1989?

Amber Rudd, the Conservative Home Secretary in England, wanted to make it an offence punishable by up to 15 years in the clink to visit an extremist site on the Internet. Just think about that.

Sunday, 17 January 2021

How Covid spreads - it's very rarely from contaminated surfaces

There have been only two known possible cases in the world of outbreaks of infection with Covid-19 via contaminated surfaces. Hand washing is therefore not so important as you think, though useful. Droplets sprayed by someone, usually but not always indoors, are the main way the virus is transmitted. It's not known how far particles travel through the air. Airborne transmission (aerosol) might be possible, in which case they could travel a distance well beyond two metres or it might not. Keeping windows open is strongly advisable where two people meet indoors. Source: Stuart Ritchie, a psychologist and a Lecturer in the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at King’s College London, writing in Unherd.

Wednesday, 13 January 2021

Mortality rate in England in 2020 highest since 2008

I always prefer anecdotal evidence to statistics and both show that Covid cases have risen dramatically in England. Hospitals are under enormous stress. 

Anyone who thinks Covid-19 a hoax is deluded. 

Still, that does not mean that the numbers of Covid-related hospitalisations and deaths are not exaggerated. They must be, because when a dying person's immune system breaks down he catches every infection going around and since Covid-19 is going around he catches that. Covid is mentioned on the death certificate. His is recorded as a Covid death, although he has really died of old age.


Sarah Caul, head of mortality analysis at the British Office of National Statistics, said yesterday that the "age-standardised mortality rate" last year, which takes into account total deaths, population size and age distribution, was the highest in England and Wales since 2008. 

This is important, more informative than the startling news that deaths last year were 15% higher than in 2018 and the accurate headline in The Times:

Coronavirus: Largest yearly increase in deaths since 1940



The English language media are largely suppressing "lockdown sceptics'', like climate change sceptics and mass immigration sceptics, but the exception are sceptical Members of the British Parliament. Their words are reported. Sometimes. 

I suspect people pay less attention to speeches in Parliament since the place was televised, but they get attention. It's what makes hard left ex-BBC journalist Paul Mason demand Boris Johnson show 'real leadership' by getting his backbenchers to keep quiet on the subject.


These words are from the website of David Warburton, Conservative Member of Parliament for the delightful Somerset seat of Somerton and Frome (Frome rhymes with hmmm).

"Every death, for whatever reason, is tragic and shocking. Even to write about it — and especially to do so in terms of data and numbers — belittles and minimises the personal loss which we all feel. It is important to see, I think though, that excess deaths over the past year have not been statistically higher than the average for previous years. And the ONS reveals that, in terms of deaths per 100,000 of population, since 1993 ten previous years have had higher rates than 2020. But I also understand that, given the infection rates and the new strains, it is the predictions of future mortality which concerns the Government. They do not know what may come.

 

"I will not dwell on the historic predictions of SAGE, but I must draw attention to the missing component in this thought process. At the end of the regulations before us yesterday was the bald admission that “No impact assessment has been prepared for these Regulations.”

 

"That means that we were asked to vote, again, on restrictions which will have unknown effects, both positive and negative. We are not provided with evidence for the efficacy of the lockdown, other than our experience of the mixed results of previous lockdowns, and — crucially — we do not know what is the nature or the extent of the detrimental effects.

 

"As I’ve said before, the ONS have estimated that the restrictions across 2020 will have resulted in 200,000 non-Covid excess deaths. Bristol University put the figure far higher. Whether or not these predictions have any more accuracy than SAGE’s own Covid predictions, these numbers are many times higher than those who tragically will have been lost to the virus."

Saturday, 9 January 2021

Some quotations from Richard Nixon

“Never forget, the press is the enemy. The establishment is the enemy. The professors are the enemy. Professors are the enemy. Write that on a blackboard 100 times and never forget it.”

“The worst thing a politician can be is dull. At least I'm interesting.”

“Yet we can maintain a free society only if we recognize that in a free society no one can win all the time. No one can have his own way all the time, and no one is right all the time.”

“Television is to news as bumper stickers are to philosophy.”

''I don't think a woman should be in any government job whatever. I mean, I really don't. The reason why I do is mainly because they are erratic. And emotional. Men are erratic and emotional, too, but the point is a woman is more likely to be.''

(I stole the first four from the Politically Incorrect Australian.)

After his resignation in disgrace, former President Nixon used to sit in the park and give out valuable advice about life to people who shared his bench. 

Thursday, 7 January 2021

The popular uprising in Washington DC and a lot of hysteria and humbug from TV presenters and their guests

The Sky News woman at 1.00 this morning (I couldn't sleep) was told this was the first time the Capitol in Washington D.C. had been invaded since the British did it in 1814. She clearly had never heard of the War of 1812. These people who tell us what to think are inhumanly stupid.

A crowd of Trump supporters broke into the Capitol to protest what they think, I imagine mistakenly, is a rigged election. Unlike the riots across America last year in the name of Black Lives Matter, which the media pretended were mostly peaceful, this protest is a grave threat to the Republic.

And it is, because it will forever and justifiably damage Donald Trump's reputation and enable the Democrats to cement their power over the public imagination.

His legacy is this and the election of two Democrat senators for Georgia by a small number of votes in each case, caused by Republicans who stayed at home because they believed President Trump when he said the elections were going to be rigged. This means the left control both Houses of Congress and hold the presidency.

I didn't mean the comparison of the protestors with BLM rioters as a compliment to either. Readers should either be in favour of both or opposed to both, as I am. I support riots only in undemocratic places like Hong Kong and only with a lot of caution there. Revolutions and riots usually do much more harm than good - the Boston Tea Party being an example.

Why did Vice-president Pence say violence never succeeds? Violence usually succeeds. Like at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was illegal violence that created the USA.

It reminds me of of people who say that terrorist bombers are cowards, when the reverse is true.

President Trump knows the power of images. When he said he was going to build a wall he used a vivid, simple image. The scenes of mayhem in the Capitol are images that will be remembered when his achievements are forgotten.

His achievements will be soon forgotten and most were almost ignored anyway. Think of peace between the Sunnis and Israel.

What are important and absolutely awful are the deaths of four people on the Capitol. The only one I know something about is the poor woman killed by the police. The New York Times said she believed in the QAnon conspiracy theories and many of its readers will think her death is no loss.

Had Donald Trump behaved as he should she would be alive.

Tuesday, 5 January 2021

For now we see Covid through a glass, darkly

"Politicians must know that lockdowns are incubating new epidemics and are causing more deaths each time" - Knut Wittkowski.

Swedish deaths in 2020 were about the same as 2000-2003, about 2.5% higher than 2018 when there was an unusually mild flu season. Nevertheless you have read lots of articles telling you that the Swedish response to Covid-19 has been a failure. 

Now we read that Swedish hospitals are in danger of being overwhelmed.

English hospitals are in danger of being overwhelmed but, as one journalist said, they are every year. 

Three winters ago flu patients were lying on mattresses on the floors of hospitals in Lombardy.

We don't yet have the total number of deaths in the UK for 2020 but it looks like it might be the highest since 1985. But the population then was 56 million and now it is 68 million.

The Great Barrington Declaration was signed by some of the most distinguished epidemiologists in the world, who thought lockdowns do not work and that governments should make herd immunity their goal. It is hard to find information about it on Google and what there is is mostly very condemnatory. The Daily Telegraph almost alone reported it in a balanced way but you have to type 'Telegraph' into the Google browser to find their reports.

Meanwhile in the USA and in much of the world this winter there are almost no cases of influenza. How can this be?

Knut Witkowski, Senior Research Associate of the Rockefeller University, New York, says flu has been renamed Covid. That seems the obvious explanation.

"Influenza has been renamed COVID in large part. There may be quite a number of influenza cases included in the 'presumed COVID' category of people who have COVID symptoms (which Influenza symptoms can be mistaken for), but are not tested for SARS RNA."

"They may also may have some SARS RNA sitting in their nose while being infected with Influenza, in which case the influenza would be 'confirmed' to be COVID."