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BallaDoc

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Everything posted by BallaDoc

  1. I think the Climate Change Bill will go the same way as the Ramsey Marina project, to that great compost heap of never-to-be-implemented good ideas. It's a long Bill but here are my thoughts in brief: The target is net zero carbon emissions by 2050, which is a reasonable objective given that (a) we need to do it to reduce the impact of climate change and (b) we will be forced to do it anyway at some point by the laws of physics, whether we want to or not, because there is only a limited amount of carbon on the planet available to burn. However, I think few if any of the provisions of the bill will be implemented voluntarily because the sacrifices needed, and the resulting political unpopularity, would be too great. For example: almost all air, sea and road transport, manufacturing and agriculture are dependent on the ongoing use of massive quantities of carbon fuels. To meet that net zero target we would have to cease air transport completely, cease shipping transport except by sail-powered ships, and take all petrol and diesel vehicles off the road and replace them by a (very) much smaller fleet of electric vehicles. We would have to own up to the fact that most of the emissions generated in China by manufacturing our goods over there and shipping them over here, are actually our emissions, and massively reduce production and consumption of consumer goods. I could go on but you get my point. Politicians can talk the talk, but I can't see any politicians having the guts to actually push through what's needed. And we see this in the Bill, which is shot through with loopholes like: "Emissions of a greenhouse gas are attributable to the Isle of Man if — (a) they are emitted from a source in the Isle of Man; or (b) regulations specify that they are attributable to the Isle of Man." (translation: by default, emissions in China are not counted as our emissions) "Except as provided for in regulations made under section 13(2), emissions from international aviation and international shipping are not attributable to the Isle of Man" (well that's self explanatory isn't it) "(1) A person who installs a fossil fuel heating system or after 1 January 2025 — (a) in a new building; or (b) for use in a new building, commits an offence. Maximum penalty — (a) (on information) — a fine; (b) (summary) — a fine of level 5 on the standard scale. (2) The Council of Ministers may by regulations — (a) amend the date in subsection (1); ..." (translation: if the going gets tough, the CoMin has power to scrap this proposal). And so on, for all 55 pages of the Bill. Sorry to sound cynical, but I think at some point, good intentions and political reality are going to collide head on and I think political reality will win. We will just keep burning fossil fuels until we can't, and then we won't.
  2. Only £10,000, which is a bargain https://www.gov.im/categories/working-in-the-isle-of-man/public-appointments/ oh wait, that's just the relocation package
  3. http://www.iomtoday.co.im/article.cfm?id=56295&headline=Wanted: Someone to lead health and care transformation in the Isle of Man&sectionIs=NEWS&searchyear=2020#readComments "Now recruitment has begun for an independent non-executive chair for Manx Care. He or she will be responsible for ensuring transformed health and social care services are delivered for the people of the island." Well, actually, no. I grappled with this paragraph at some length while trying to figure out what was wrong with this picture. The whole point of being a non-executive chair is that you are not responsible for delivering anything. That job falls to the executive members of the organisation, or specifically in this case, the executive members of the Board and the Chief Executive Officer of Manx Care. I'm not clear who if anyone has been appointed to this post - maybe it has not been filled yet - but the Chief Executive Officer of Manx Care should not of course be confused with the Chief Executive Officer of the Department of Health and Social Care, who is Kathryn Magson who lives in Hertfordshire. The responsibility of the non-executive chair is to chair the Board and persuade them to do stuff, not to actually do anything yourself. Here is the job description, closing date 12 July 2020: https://www.gov.im/media/1369448/non-executive-chair-manx-care-applicant-pack-v11.pdf The successful applicant needs to have many outstanding qualities, including "Have a keen focus on the future, encouraging innovation and support change...Ability to think strategically, understand complex issues and make decisions...Experienced in challenging behaviours, attitudes and culture which present a barrier to improvement of services in a collaborative manner...Analytical, critical thinking and pragmatic approach to addressing complex financial issues and strategic business delivery." Yep, that sounds like me. I might just bung in an application.
  4. I once played "There'll Be Bluebirds Over The White Cliffs Of Dover" on my accordion to a packed audience in a long stay geriatric ward on the Isle of Wight. That was possibly my best ever gig, but unfortunately my musical career went downhill after that, and I ended up here.
  5. He was evidently a wise old git as well as a nice old git
  6. Speaking with my gardening hat on, the "last frost date" is very important because frost can wipe out tender seedlings, but whether frost occurs, and on what date, varies a lot depending which part of the island you are in (even for such a small island). For example, as far as I recall we had no frost in Ramsey this year, but that is probably because in town, a lot of the daytime heat is soaked up by buildings, roads and pavements and then radiated out again at night, evening out the temperature. However, at my allotment 2 miles outside Ramsey, we had a whopper of a frost on 14th May this year, so hard that it froze the water in my hosepipe and wiped out a row of French beans which I had foolishly left uncovered.
  7. Almost but not quite right there, because there are shades of difference between the various sectors of the finance industry. I concede that the insurance industry produces an important and useful product (people need to insure their houses and cars) and to a limited extent the stock market does too (enables price discovery and sends market signals indicating which businesses are doing well and which need to go to the wall). But "high frequency trading", where computers buy and sell stocks in nanoseconds based mainly on whether other computers are buying or selling the same stocks, is a typical example of a financial activity of no value: it does not create any useful market signals, it causes instability in the markets and it simply rewards those with the fastest computers and the cleverest algorithms.
  8. It seems to me that the e-gaming industry is qualitatively different from other activities in a rather fundamental way. For example, fishermen produce a catch of fish. Farmers produce crops. Dandara produces homes. The tourism industry produces racing events like the TT, and fills hotels and restaurants with people. Entertainers put on performances at the Gaiety and the Villa Marina. In all of those cases you can point to something being created, even if it is somewhat intangible like a race or a piece of performance art. But what is produced by the e-gaming industry is so intangible that I am having difficulty seeing it. It seems, as I said, to consist mainly of moving money from one bank account to another, with little or nothing of value being created in the process.
  9. http://www.iomtoday.co.im/article.cfm?id=55924&headline=Gambler took his own life&sectionIs=NEWS&searchyear=2020 OK, those in support of the e-gaming industry will say (and have said) "We sincerely apologise and take full responsibility for the regulatory breaches identified by the Gambling Commission... PTES’s actions fell significantly short of the high standards we set ourselves as a group....The failings occurred in a business that is now closed... We have since invested significantly in making sure these types of breaches do not happen again...the lessons from this tragic case must be learned by all operators." And so on, and so forth. However, all of that looks rather like putting lipstick on a pig. Underneath, it's still a pig. Do we really want a big chunk of the island's economy to be dependent on this type of activity, which, as far as I can see, doesn't involve making anything of value, just shunting money around from one bank account to another?
  10. Hopefully, despite the downsizing, they will continue to maintain their existing satellites. My understanding is that satellites in orbit have to be continually monitored and periodically nudged back into position, otherwise they start to go off course and lose functionality, and worst case scenario, start crashing into other satellites (the Kessler syndrome). So if they can do that with the slimmed down staff, I wonder whether the staff they let go were actually necessary in the first place?
  11. As a society I think that over the last few generations we have lost sight of the importance of work-life balance. I remember as a kid in the 1960s hearing a lot of talk about how were were going to be a "leisure society" because a lot of the manual drudgery was going to be done for us in the future by machines. All of that talk had evaporated by the 1970s and we just ended up working harder and harder. Yes, I understand that some people on low incomes are struggling to make ends meet and feel they need to work all the hours God sends, and I'm not minimising how difficult that must be. But on the other hand, there are a lot of people who are maybe middle aged or nearing retirement, feeling the need to slow down, would like to go part time but are forced to continue working full time because there aren't the part time jobs available and there isn't a culture of allowing people to work part time. This is where the Govt should step in and provide incentives and encouragement for part time working, which might as an additional bonus free up some jobs for those made unemployed because of the pandemic.
  12. I'm not surprised. That Co-op car park has been an accident waiting to happen for years. You've got cars in there, not just stationary cars, but cars moving in through the entrance and out through the exit. That's why the locals all call it the "Co-op car park". And then sometimes you even get the same cars coming back again the next day. And people loading shopping. Really, it's a death trap. They should cordon the whole thing off before someone gets hurt.
  13. That doesn't help me. I've been putting all the burnable recycling in the wheelie bin for the last few weeks, just saving the non-burnable glass bottles and cans, which they say they are still not going to accept, and I compost all my green waste apart from the woody material like branches, which they say they are also still not going to accept.
  14. Possibly true - that thought had occurred to me too. However, the would be plunderers would have three problems to contend with: 1. Most of the "food" is inside my head, i.e. it's the skill and knowledge of how to grow food, not the actual food itself 2. There is only a small amount of actual food available for plunder at any one time, because it becomes ripe at different times of the year (assuming you are not growing a monocrop, which would be a bit silly) 3. If they plunder too often, they increase their risk of being arrested, or shot, or both.
  15. I am glad the Powers That Be are at last thinking seriously about food security. I've been thinking about this for years which is why I now rent an allotment and practise growing my own food. There are food shortages coming, independently of the current pandemic, because most of our food is made with, or from, fossil fuels, and those are finite. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a new age hippy, back to the land, survivalist type. Call it more of an insurance policy. The best time to get insurance is before you need it, not after your house catches fire.
  16. Yes, point taken about the suburban sprawl, but the nice thing about Peel (and Castletown) is they have both managed to keep the suburban sprawl on the periphery and retained the historical core more or less intact. Contrast this with the redevelopment of South Ramsey in the 1960s, when what used to be the historical core was flattened and replaced with hideous 1960s style buildings like the St Paul's shopping arcade and the Costa Del Ramsey tower block. The collateral damage from this included the Queen's Pier, which used to go into the heart of the old town, but is now a stranded asset on the edge of town.
  17. Yes, keep the Victorian heritage stuff, it's unique and there's a danger in throwing the baby out with the bathwater, as they did when they flattened large areas of Douglas and Ramsey and rebuilt them with drab modern buildings of no interest. Think of the contrast between those areas and Peel, which managed to retain its 18th/19th century character and is now a cultural hotspot.
  18. BallaDoc

    UK Budget

    Going back to the original question, "discuss the UK budget", I have to say that my initial reaction was heartsink. It's a large and complex budget, so it's difficult to do it justice in a few sentences, but the main points I took away from it were: It's supposed to be paid for by an enormous amount of borrowing which my kids are expected to pay back. Alternatively, maybe the borrowing will never be paid back, just defaulted on, covertly or overtly. There are projections about how the UK economy will grow in the coming years, and presumably the Chancellor is expecting this growth to provide the means to pay back the debt, but if the growth doesn't occur, then the interest on the debt will become a headwind on the economy. Or maybe the Chancellor subscribes to "Modern Monetary Theory" in which debts by countries never have to be paid back because we can just print our way out of trouble (for further details see Weimar Republic, Zimbabwe, Venezuela etc) 27 billion pounds to be spent on motorways, when we should be trying to get cars and trucks off the roads in order to meet our carbon emission and climate targets
  19. It's an extraordinary result, and I'm going to make a note of the name of his lawyer in case I ever need to use him.
  20. I agree that there is no dishonesty in the IOM Government scheme, so probably "Ponzi" scheme is not the best description, but I think "pyramid" scheme would be fair. That is where people at the top receive benefits, but these benefits are paid by a much larger number of people at the bottom. As the people at the bottom move further up the pyramid and start to claim benefits themselves, more people have to be recruited to pay in at the bottom end to keep the scheme going. There are always more people at the bottom than the top. Isn't that a reasonably accurate description of the island's strategy to grow the working population?
  21. As I pointed out in a previous post, we are basically all f****d, and this pension deficit is just one of many symptoms of that. We think of pensions as being a permanent part of the human condition, but in fact they are relatively recent, having been invented in Germany in 1889 and then rapidly adopted by the rest of Europe. Before that, people were looked after in their old age by their children. Pensions are basically a Ponzi scheme which require continuous economic growth to fund them. Take away the perpetual growth, and the pensions can no longer be paid. And you can't have perpetual growth because it's physically and mathematically impossible. It's no coincidence that pensions were invented just as the Industrial Revolution and the British Empire were getting into full swing, because those conditions created the biggest boom in economic growth that the world has ever seen. But unfortunately, it couldn't and didn't last.
  22. BallaDoc

    HS2

    What the UK needs isn't a fancy high speed rail link between Birmingham/Manchester and London, but more normal local trains running at normal speed along normal tracks, on time. Also land use / planning policies so that people can live closer to where they work and don't have to commute.
  23. I've been at the cutting edge of this drug switching operation for several months now. Here's how it works: doctors are too busy treating people to have the time to research comparative costs and efficacies of different drugs and do the switching themselves, so the DHSC sends a pharmacist into the surgery to work there full time for several months looking at all aspects of prescribing: cost, clinical appropriateness, potential drug interactions with unsafe combinations etc and they make the recommendations for switching, basically asking the doctors "is it OK if we make this switch?". The reply from the doctor is nearly always "yes, go ahead" (we don't have the time to research the pros and cons of it, see above) so the switch gets made. After the switch is made, we get a small number of patients, maybe less than 5% who say "the new drug doesn't work for me, can you switch it back again?" which I nearly always do. The overall effect is considerable cost savings, and if a few people have side effects and are switched back, this doesn't significantly affect the cost savings provided relatively few people do this. Most people don't seem to experience any difference with the switch, or anyway, they don't complain about it, which I realise may not necessarily be the same thing. One thing which makes me a bit uneasy is that one drug (say Metformin) is being switched to another drug (say Sukkarto) which is supposed to be as effective but cheaper. But suppose next month, the manufacturers of Sukkarto raise their price and the manufacturers of Metformin drop theirs, so that Metformin becomes cheaper. Will we have to change all the patients back again? I asked the pharmacist this but didn't really get a straight answer. Wrighty is righty (sorry, couldn't resist) about the psychological or placebo effect in some patients. A particular case in point is Vitamin B12 injections (which are red, making them doubly effective). I get lots of patients saying "I always know when my next Vitamin B12 injection is due because I feel tired all the time, but then I feel much better after the injection" but if you measure their B12 levels before and after the injection, they are normal in both cases.
  24. I've been reading around the history of the British Raj (British direct rule) in India (1858-1947) and grappling with the question "Why did it last so long before the Indians got independence?". And I've come up with two principal reasons: 1. The British saturated India with hundreds of regiments of soldiers who were there for the express purpose of kicking the sh*te out of any natives who dared to express resistance; and 2. A lot of the Indians preferred British rule to the alternative which was rule by the maharajahs (the indigenous Indian aristocracy) as in the former Mogul empire, when they had the power of life and death over their subjects and it was basically a mosaic of corrupt dictatorships and warlords without any real rule of law. At least under the British you were oppressed in a consistent way instead of an arbitrary and corrupt way.
  25. You can't have infinite growth on a finite planet (or island).
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