The South Downs Way – Happy walks in Natural England

We (my wife Lisa and I) have finally completed the South Downs Way on Friday 16th July having originally commenced it on 25th May 2019! My knees may never recover as The Seven Sisters took their toll.

The map and elevation guides above show the route from Winchester in Hampshire, England through to Eastbourne in Sussex. During the walk we gained one dog, several pounds in weight and two years in age including one with a zero for me. We lost the year of planning to complete the route in 2020 due to the global pandemic.

Many will do the walk faster or complete tougher/longer walks. We have done tougher individual climbs Helvellyn in the Lake District a notable previous trip.

I’ve created a full gallery page which you can find here with all the photos and more than are in this blog. The scenery is stunning, the natural world and wildlife is wonderful. It’s not as exotic as Borneo or Costa Ricabut a lot closer to home. For the quintessential England of rolling hills, and patchwork colours, it’s hard to beat.

We used the excellent pocket guide, South Downs Way by Jim Manthorpe & Daniel McCrohan which helpfully splits the route into legs travelling West to East. The reverse is also available for those wanting to travel East to West.

Start
Only 100 to go!

We started off in May 2019 with the aim to complete that summer but as usual life got in the way and we had only completed 70 of the 100 miles from Winchester by the end of November 2019. We drove away from Pyecombe on a bright but cold early winter’s day when the short daylight hours limited further attempts. We stopped for the winter expecting to restart in Spring 2020. Well nothing restarted until July 2021. We managed to book some accommodation for now two dogs and two adults. Not easy at best of times as few hotels, B&Bs or cottages are available that take dogs and cottages. (They wanted a lot of money and a week’s booking too.)

The walk is full of stunning views and panoramas:

Panorama
Clear day

In November 2019, we had managed two days in a row with calm weather even if cold and despite arriving in the dark. Going downhill at dusk can be fun – not. We split two days walking with a stay in the South Downs Way B&B Poynings (Very Good). The B&B lies in the valley off of the walk and therefore not at a start or end point.

B&B Poynings

Previous days we had driven to the day’s end point then taken a taxi (dogs allowed booking) back to the start point. On one day, for Leg 4, we had taken the train from Amberley Station to Chichester, and then a bus to a start point in the lay by ending from Leg 3. These were new experiences for Merlot our then 9 year old lone tricolour border collie, since joined by his great nephew Malbec. Both MastaMariners

Merlot Bus
A bus and a train all in one day – woof!

Leaving the car in a lay bys or car parks to be reclaimed with tired and muddy walkers and one dog at that time, is fine if the journey back home is about an hour. As we ventured further east the trip out and back increased, traffic and weary bones starts limiting the enjoyment so more planning for overnight stays and therefore hopes of good weather.

We were lucky on nearly every occasion. On only one day did we have heavy rain at any point and that was on Leg 2 when despite a reasonable forecast our luck did not hold.

Then again there were days with glorious weather, too warm to walk and the problem of water. The heat of summer did lead to some spectacular sights.

Sunflowers

There were occasional unexpected stops

Fishing River
Fishing river but a cafe too!
Cafe
Welcome break

Finally in July 2021 we were able to re-start and complete the walk. Two nights staying in the centre of Lewes (pronounced Lew-is) at The White Hart (Needs some TLC). This covered Leg 7 – which was a long leg. Some great views but one very long concrete paved track down hill into Southease followed by a train back into Lewes. Even Malbec making his debut was not impressed.

COncrete and Puppy
Down and down to Southease

We ate local meals in the centre with an accompanying local beverage. The beer had to travel across the road!

Beer Lewes
Harvey Beer from Bills

This was followed by two nights in Eastbourne at the York Hotel on the sea front (nice with a pool and a sea view in a large room!). The legs had fabulous scenery and increasing temperatures.

There is a choice for walkers for the last leg, inland or down to the coast. We chose the coastal route. The leg was tough going covering the walk to the coast from Alfriston, past the Litlington White Horse (across the valley) through to Seven Sisters Country Park and then the Seven Sisters themselves and Beachy Head. A lot of up and down in a roller coaster path, for which the ticket entry was painful knees and more blisters.

Chalk Horse
Litlington White Horse
River mouth
River Cuckmere
Seven Sisters
Belle Tout Lighthouse in the distance
Lighthouse
It finally was closer
Eastbourne
One more hill
The end
The end

Finally a suitable toast with my beautiful wife to complete the walk

Toast

Legs

Leg 1 – Winchester (elevation 20 feet at Riverside) to Exton – 25th May 2019 – 12 Miles / 19.5 km – two main climbs Cheesefoot Hill 577ft and Beacon Hill 659ft

Leg 2 – Exton to Buriton (Queen Elizabeth Country Park) – 15th June 2019 -12.5 miles / 20 km – Butser Hill 886 ft

Leg 3 – Buriton to Cocking – 16th July 2019 10.5 miles / 17 km – Beacon Hill 794 ft

Leg 4 – Cocking to Amberley – 3rd August 2019 – 11.5 miles / 18.5 km – Bignor Hill 738 ft

Leg 5 – Amberley to Steyning – 28th November 2019 – 10 miles / 16 km – Chanctonbury Ring 771 ft

Leg 6 – Steyning to Pyecombe – 29th November 2019 – 10 miles / 16 km – Devils Dyke 673 ft

A long break….

Leg 7 – Pyecombe to Southease – 14th July 2021 – 14.5 miles / 23.5 km – Ditchling Beacon 814 ft

Leg 8 – Southease to Alfriston – 15th July 2021 – 7.75 miles/ 12.5 km – Firle Beacon 712 ft

Leg 9 – Alfriston to Eastbourne (Meads) Coastal route – 16th July 2021 – 10.5 miles / 17 km – Beachy Head 538 ft

Government Snooping Chains

The NSA and GCHQ Programs provide insight into government snooping chains. This blog also provides a forward to my book Sail Chains. The current focus on surveillance and privacy is based on the actions of Facebook, Amazon and google. The allied western intelligence agencies do much more. Previous blogs

Secure communications, tracking, and other jargon is used within this tale. The descriptions are based on real techniques used in Information Technology and Intelligence Surveillance. Some are described below to avoid lengthy passages of explanation in the narrative of the book and here in this blog for public edification.

Five-Eyes

Five-Eyes is an intelligence alliance comprising Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. These countries are parties to a multilateral agreement which is a treaty for joint cooperation in signals intelligence. It is a wide ranging agreement and includes facilities in each country including the Government Communication Headquarters, GCHQ, in Cheltenham, UK, and the National Security Agency, NSA, with its HQ at Fort Meade in the USA. Both organisations also carry out their own operations and programmes. Many of these programmes were known in small parts to the media and hence general public; however the extent of these programmes was not well known until the revelations leaked or stolen by Edward Snowden.

GCHQ

GCHQ
NSA Signpost
NSA Sign post

Legal restrictions in all Five Eyes countries are supposed to restrict or prevent gathering of information on citizens. Secret courts, FISA (Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act) in USA and CMPs (Closed Material Procedures) in UK provide legal cover. Parliamentary or Congressional scrutiny is very limited. In many cases the elected representatives or their advisors do not have sufficient levels of security clearance to see the material about the programmes let alone the technical understanding of the implications.

The NSA is not supposed to spy on US citizens without a warrant but they can collect data about US citizens whilst spying on foreigners. In one example 90% of the data collected in one sweep was about US citizens (>9,500 citizens out of 11,000 contacts). In this way GCHQ can spy on US Citizens and vice versa and each can pass data to the other through the Five Eyes and not be subject to any scrutiny. It is clear from multiple sources that this spying is not just on threats but also on journalists, whistleblowers and multiple other targets that the security services have decided are legitimate targets.

Snowden

The main details were leaked by Edward Snowden to two reporters Barton Gellman who published via the Washington Post and Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian. A film maker, Laura Poitras conducted interviews and also acted as a go-between, especially between Snowden and Gellman during the initial contacts when source VERAX was making contact. Many of the electronic copies of papers and programme details remain unreleased by the journalists. The NSA and GCHQ continue to deny many of the details, see here


STELLARWIND

was the code name of a warrant less surveillance program begun under the George W. Bush administration’s President’s Surveillance Program. The National Security Agency (NSA) program was approved by President Bush shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks and was revealed by Thomas Tamm to The New York Times in 2004. STELLARWIND’s output is fed into the MAINWAY database

PRISM

PRISM is a code name for a program under which the NSA collects internet communications from various US internet companies. The NSA had placed collection systems directly in the data centres of the large tech companies including Microsoft, Google, Apple, Facebook and others. Due to the nature of Internet routing many non-US connections route or partially route via the data centres. Thus privacy campaigners use Virtual Private Networks, VPNs, and other techniques to mask their messages. These techniques are also used by enemies including terrorists.

MAINWAY

MAINWAY is a database maintained by the NSA (and Five Eyes partners) containing metadata for hundreds of billions of telephone calls made through the four largest telephone carriers in the United States: AT&T, SBC, BellSouth (all three now called AT&T) and Verizon. The existence of this database and the NSA program that compiled it was unknown to the general public until USA Today broke the story on May 10, 2006. It is estimated that the database contains over 1.9 trillion call-detail records. The records include detailed call information (caller, receiver, date/time of call, length of call, etc.) for use in traffic analysis and social network analysis, but do not include audio information or transcripts of the content of the phone calls.

Contact Chaining

Contact Chaining is a method of querying data held in MAINWAY to produce contact maps and then using associated algorithms of contacts of a target several levels away e.g. secondary, tertiary and beyond contact of contacts of contacts. Because MAINWAY holds historical data, officially 5 years worth for US citizens but with many caveats, previous contacts can be traced. Exceptions to deletion are any link to on-going or security investigations. This gives rise to an exponential increase in potential contacts. If the first contact has ten contacts and each has ten more and these in turn have ten more at 3rd degree of separation there are now 10x10x10 = 1,000. Most humans have far more than 10 contacts thus chains become very large very quickly. The game 6 Degrees of Kevin Bacon, the US Actor, demonstrates this is more humorous ways.

Algorithms are used to reduce the numbers or combine them into groups. This data is then combined with other communications data, for example, social medial posts and email, to build up a contact map. The seed in this case is the initial target or intercept which by correlating with another seed B. Contact C is thus linked in the chain.

Or a real one shown by the US news programme 60 Minutes

NBC Real Chain

Any one of these contacts or nodes could be the enemy that is sought or allow movements, locations and activity patterns to be tracked thus enabling potential targeting for surveillance or more direct action. Sometimes the enemy is unknown. The node shown is a phone, email address, social media handle, website, which the technique attempts to link to an individual or organisation. A phone number of a head office could be used by hundreds of contacts. How the data is processed into MAINWAY with other named systems mentioned is shown below:

Mainway Dataflow showing Government Snooping Chains

Enemies attempt to hide this activity by changing contact methods, encryption of the content of messages and other evasion techniques. For the NSA and GCHQ they are also tasked with creating method of protecting data from such intercepts by foreign powers or bad actors. Other techniques such as operating cell techniques can founder with just a single contact under the chain. Thus operational security measures are overcome. For example two terrorist cells with a leadership planning a coordinated attack can be linked.

CO-TRAVELER

A system called CO-TRAVELER is designed to track who meets with whom and covers everyone who carries a mobile/cell phone, all around the world. CO-TRAVELER collects billions of records daily of phone user location information. It maps the relationships of mobile/cell phone users across global mobile network cables, gathering data about who you are physically with, and how often your movements intersect with other phone users. The program even tracks when your phone is turned on or off.

TOR – Protects from government snooping or does it?

Tor is free and open-source software for enabling anonymous communication by directing Internet traffic through a worldwide overlay network. It consists of more than seven thousand relays designed to conceal a user’s location and usage from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis. Using Tor makes it more difficult to trace the Internet activity to the user: this includes “visits to Web sites, online posts, instant messages, and other communication forms”. Tor’s intended use is to protect the personal privacy of its users, as well as their freedom and ability to conduct confidential communication by keeping their Internet activities unmonitored. It was created by the Office of Naval Research and DARPA as a security protection project and the papers from Snowden demonstrated that the NSA had managed to set up infiltration into the network.

VPNs – Encrypt channels of communication thus protecting chains but not that a connection exists

Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) are encrypted channels between one or more network points. They normally use some form of shared encryption key between the end points thus preventing interception of the communication content; however, the metadata (data about data) can still be traced including locations, of end points, times of transmission, etc. Therefore, STELLARWIND can collect this data and deposit into MAINWAY for use in Contact Chaining. If a phone is used as the data connection CO-TRAVELER can match locations and obtain more metadata in addition to location and other data sources nearby.

GCHQ

GCHQ has a different set of names achieving the same ends see here. This shows the applications CARPART, PRIMETIME, SNAPDRAGON, MoaG, SORTING FRIENDS sending data into a system called CHART BREAKER, and onwards into CONTACT LENS which is the Contact Chaining output from MAINWAY and CHART BREAKER

One Morning In The Office Take 12

Aside

One Morning in the office is a thread on Goodreads

No longer @realDonaldTrump

Goodreads full comments
“This way Mr. President”
“I know the way, I was Vice-President for eight years you know.”
“Yes, Sir, Sorry Sir”
“Why are all these ramps here?”
“Disability access ramps, Sir”
“I know what they are why are they here?”
“Your predecessor stated you may need them given your advancing years and so on.”
“What?”
Spoken louder “YOUR PREDECESSOR..”
“Why are you shouting?”
“Your predecesso…”
“You mean Trump.”
“We’re not allowed to say his name Sir, we had instructions from Vice President, I mean former Vice President Pence, to not allow his name to be mentioned.”
“Why were you shouting?”
“We were told you may be hard of hearing due to your ….”
“I’m not hard of hearing and I’m not in a wheelchair”
“But you are older than…”
“Enough!” They enter the famous room. “At last the Oval office.”
“We decorated as you wished Sir, the busts and pictures have been changed – caused quite some commotion with your prede..”
Scowl from new President
“… I mean President Trump as he had some other busts he wanted to keep.”
“Best we don’t go into that.”
“No Sir, his letter is on the desk.”
“The one with the postmark from Moscow.”
“Yes Sir, special delivery.”

The President sits behind the desk and surveys the Oval Office. He scans the room with a small smile of satisfaction on his face, before his vision alights on a board on one wall.

“What’s that?”
“For you Sir to help.”
“Isn’t that a picture of my wife?”
“Yes Sir, in case you forget.”
How dare you! I know who my wife is”
“At the moment Sir, this is in case it gets worse.”
“What gets worse?”
“Your dementia, Sir”
“What dementia?”
“Have you forgotten already?”
“I do not have Dementia!”
“Your predece…”
“Damn my predecessor!” Takes deep breath. “Who’s the Black Lady in the photo’s”
“Your VP Sir.”
“I have a black female VP?”
“Yes Sir, don’t you remember you were elected with her.”
“The one on the capital steps?”
“Yes Sir at the inauguration.”
“Didn’t recognise her without her mask. Where is she?”
“Managing the Senate and drawing up your first executive orders. They should be here later this morning. She sent instructions to make sure you have your afternoon nap and I have to disconnect the hot line.”
“The Moscow hot line?”
“No, Sir the Deliveroo and MacDonald fast order hotline. We missed it during your prede… Mr Trumps departure. It’s that one next to the pictures of all your staff.”
The President attempts to change the TV Channel”What’s wrong with this TV I can’t change the channel from Fox?”
“All the other channels were disabled Sir.”
“Change it.”
“Yes Sir”
“And get rid of this” He pulls a book from a drawer
“What is it?”
“The Dummies Guide to Tweeting….”

One Morning In The Office Take 11

Aside

One Morning in the Office @realDonaldTrump Goodreads full comments

“Mr President, Mr President?”
Silence
“Mr President, where are you?”
Muffled, “Under the desk.”
“Sir, why are you under the desk?”
“I’m not leaving.”
“No, Sir you have until January.”
“I’m not leaving ever!”
“Sir, I have your Big Mac extra large, you can eat it at your desk.” With a huff of compliance the 45th President of the United States of America take his seat behind the Oval Office desk. “Sir, FLOTUS says, that you can’t come back to the private apartments until you have a shower.”
“I’m not leaving the Office of President. The election was stolen I tell you stolen.”
“Yes Sir, we know Sir, Mr. Giuliani has told us all that it was stolen and to make sure we say it too.”
Through munching of Big Mac “Good man Rudi, Great Man, Greatest lawyer ever just great.”
“Yes SIr, I’m sure Sir. Just One thing on the Councillor….”
“What? Not that movie again?”
“No Sir, Mr Cohen, is not involved.”
“Who’s Cohen not my old lawyer? He’s in jail isn’t he?”
“No Sir, he’s out, that’s Michael Cohen the movie is Mr Sasha Baron Cohen
“He’s a Baron?”
“No, that’s his name?”
“I thought it was Borat”
“That’s his character Sir, we are somewhat off the point.”
“I’ll get Boris to lock him up. worked for Hilary!”
“It didn’t… never mind. The Prime Minister cannot lock him up.”
“We got Assange locked up.”
“Not quite but back to the point?”
“You’re spoiling my Big Mac going to need another one of these.”
“Yes Sir, the third one this morning will, be here shortly. Where was I?”
“Told you we should have put a franchise in the Rose Garden who needs a rose garden anyway?”
“Sir. Mr. Giuliani is being sued by a Porn emporium.”
“I wasn’t there, I never touched her, she signed an NDA, she…”
“Sir not you!”
“Told you., told you, where’s my burger?
“You’ve eaten it,” sigh, “the next one will be here in,” checking phone, ” five minutes according to Deliveroo. Shall I continue?”
“Has Vlad or XI called?”
“No Sir.” Sound of sobbing.
“I miss them.”
“Yes Sir, Mr. Giuliani is being sued for defamation.”
“What? In the car lot even I didn’t get the…”
“Sir defamation not defaca… I mean Sir, The Porn store not star are upset about being called a video shop. Video shops are dead Sir. They feel their sales will be affected so they are suing. The Four Seasons….”
“Lousy hotel chain not like Trump hotels, greatest hotels ever great just great…”
“The Four Seasons Landscape Gardeners are also suing for failing to get a permit for a press conference on their parking lot.
“Is that it?”
“Not quite Sir. Defence Sir.”
“Have they got my barbed wire?”
“About that SIr?”
“I fired that idiot Esper for not getting it. I’m good at firing and tweeting and firing and…”
“Sir, Mr Esper left because as he told you you are not permitted to surround the Oval Office with barbed wire and mines ”
“Why not I’m the President I can do what I want. I can fire Congress if I want, send in troops launch the nuclear thingies…”
Sound of door knocking, mumbled “Thank God,” More loudly, “Sir your next Big Mac.”
“Oh great just great the greatest burgers in the world for the greatest President…”
“Sir, Ivanka says that you can have her lollipop if you do the Warp Speed Press Conference.”
“It’s a deal as soon as I’ve finished this Big Mac I like talking about Star Trek.”
“Yes Sir. Whilst you eat that these two men are just going to take some carpet measurements.”
“Are we getting new carpets?”
“No Sir the next President is.”

One Morning In The Office Take 10

Aside

One Morning in The Office @realDonaldTrump Goodreads full comments

Zoom Video Conference – hacked recording…
Vlad: “Are we all here?”
Xi: “Yes Comrade Chairman, I mean friend.”
Assad: “Where’s Kim?”
Xi: “He’s on mute again”
Vlad: “Permanently?”
Xi: “No one knows.”
Don: “Hey Xi, like the hat and full protective face mask – I thought the fake virus was over in China?”
Xi: “It is but I like wearing it Don, I see you have your usual baseball cap.”
Don: “It’s a great hat for a great…”
Vlad: “Stop the crap about hats everyone. This is serious.”
Group: “Sorry Vlad…”
Assad: “But Vlad you told us to get hew hats.”
Vlad: “Assad you numbskull I said a new hard hat for the air raids next week.”
Assad: “What air raids?”
Vlad: “The ones Erdogan is arranging .”
Assad: “But we are all friends now.”
Vlad: “We have to keep COVID off the news.”
Don: “Fake news.”
Vlad: “Not now Don.”
Don: “Sorry Vlad.”
Vlad: “Agenda gentlemen agenda and don’t all speak at once like last time. Don, what’s the progress with Biden.”
Don: “He hasn’t got it.”
Vlad:”Why not?”
Don: “He’s taking precautions.”
Vlad: “But you’ve lifted the lock down like I told you.”
Don: “Yes of course.”
Vlad: “Why didn’t he drink the bleach, Kim did claimed he was testing the theory.”
Xi: “Numbskull”
Vlad: “No need for insults Xi.”
Xi: “Sorry Vlad.”
Vlad “Don?”
Don: “I’m not allowed to mention bleach again.”
V;ad: “By whom?”
Don: “Ivanka, she is upset that there is no toilet cleaner left in the White House.”
Xi: (laughing) “Another shortage in USA?”
Don: “Yes, but since we stopped Rudi writing confessions on Toilet paper that situation has improved.”
Vlad: “Small victories.”
“Yes Vlad, I am planning on mentioning at today’s TV briefing.”
All: “No more briefings!!!!!”
After 30 mins of ring tones and 12 menu options the Whitehouse switchboard puts a call through….
“Twitter help desk, how can I help?”
“Stop deleting my Tweets”
“I’m sorry sir, i just need to ask some security questions before we can look into any technical issues for you. Can i get your name and Twitter ID?”
“The real Donald Trump” sound of lines being transferred….
“Twitter help desk how may I help you please answer in a clear voice after I run through the selections you are two thousand and eighty four in the queue, if your call is about Vladamir Putin please press 1 or say yes after the tone.” Beep
“Vald? Why Vlad?”
“You are now 3465 in the queue, if your call is about Vladamir Putin please press 1 or say yes after the tone.” Beep
“No, I mean 2”
“You’re through to President Xi’s hotline chat support queue there are 7 million 419 thousand ahead in the line from Honk Kong wishing to verbally pass on Twitter congratulations to President Xi”
“I mean one I meant one”
“Vlad’s line how can I help?”
“Someone is deleting my tweets.”
“and”
“I need my tweets”
“Sir are your tweets in favour of or against our great leader Vladamir Putin?/”
“Neither, look I’m the President of the United States and i will ban you if you don’t help.”
“Sir if you ban us you won’t be able to tweet.”
“OK I won’t ban you I’ll just tweet that I will.”
“SIr, we will fact check that tweet and delete as needed.”
“Is there someone else I can talk to like a supervisor or someone?”
“One moment Sir I’ll transfer you.”
“You’re through to President Xi’s hotline chat support queue there are 7 million 419 thousand ahead in the line wishing to verbally pass on Twitter congratulations to President Xi”
Dial tone….
“Mr. President, Sir?”
“Yes what is it? Where are you?”
“Down here Sir. Your latest internal memo to staff.”
“What about it?”
“Er, I’m….”
“Get on with it I have tweets to write and former advisors to sue.”
“About the new policy, SIr?”
“Yes, yes, the greatest, bestest, biggest, policy ever, I will make America great again.”
“Yes, Sir, but can I just check a few things.”
“Of course my door is always open except whet its not and no telling anyone what we talked about. By the way where’s my coffee?”
“That’s the problem Sir.”
:What! We’ve run out of coffee? I though I ordered 500 cases at the start of the lockdown.”
“You did Sir, they are in the Situation Room for safe keeping.”
“So where’s my coffee.”
“Sir, it’s the memo.”
“What about it.”
“You’ve explicitly told the staff they cannot report what they talk about with you.”
“Of course, great policy , great country we’re great and I’m going to make…”
“Sir! No one can get you a coffee because no one is allowed to discuss with anyone what you said.”
“So you want me to change the policy. I don’t backtrack ever.”
“I know Sir, but its not just the discussions its the requirement to crawl in and out on our knees.”
“Great idea don’t you think?”
“The staff want knee pads Sir but they can’t have them we’re using them all as improvised face masks.”
“For what?”
“You wanted to stop all the kneeling protests so we requisitioned the nation’s supply.”
“See I knew I could stop that protest.”
“If that’s all Sir I’ll go and not get you your coffee now and nothing else I won’t get neither nor discuss write down or record any item of our conversation on pain of a week with John Bolton.”
“Great great I’ll make it all great….”

Statistics and COVID

I have been struggling to decide whether to blog on this subject of statistics and COVID since January. Now that much of the globe is in some type of lock down, quarantine or ignorance, it seems more necessary. Not that my viewpoint is any better than many other posts. There has been an extensive misinformation, or misunderstanding of statistics, not helped by the media. There attitude at last seems to be changing to better reporting, rather than the fear they like to envisage.

Lets start with some basic facts:

World Population as at 2015 (census dependent) 7.35 Billion that is 7,350,000,000 with forecast to be over 7.7 by 2020

Actual confirmed deaths 18:35 on 20th March 2020 due to virus according to WHO as listed on https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/ 11,188

Actual confirmed mortality rate is therefore 11,200 divided by 7.35 billion which is

0.00015238%

Because the population is likely to be higher than last full statistics the rate is actually lower on confirmed death cases.

So where the scare stories of 1% or 20% and any number in between come from is unclear. As a comparison TB caused 3 million deaths in 2016. Clearly this horrible virus spreads and kills and the deaths are tragic but dying from TB is still dying.

The 1% or higher numbers are actually an infected mortality rate. i.e. this requires a confirmed case and death assigned to COVID-19. Both numbers used for this are equally dodgy. The number of deaths is probably an underestimate e.g. deaths that are caused by it but not medically linked. However, the likely cases are a massive underestimate. Now we need to look at subsets of subsets of data, none of which are without error.

We start with World’s population 7.5 billion and work down from same source

  • immune not a carrier – unknown
  • carrier no symptoms – unknown
  • carrier minimal symptoms 166,000
  • Carrier medium symptoms – hospital 159,000
  • Carrier serious/critical – ICU – hospital 8,000
  • Death 11,200

As a comparator the UK has 660,000 deaths each year in population of 65 million and UK has had 177 deaths assigned to COVID-19 although all are reported as with underlying conditions

A sense of perspective is needed

One Morning In The Office Take 9

One Morning In The Office – a satire @realDonaldTrump

"Vlad, how are you? We haven't chatted in ages. Why are you laughing?"
"Ha, Ha, Ha, Oh Don, Don, Don my friend you are so funny."
"Why? What have I done?"
"Your Tweets of course. Your ability to spread disbelief and confusion are second to none. Even Xi is impressed.
Bashar is getting one of his universities to start teaching it. And Erdoğan is especially impressed."
"He wanted me to withdraw."
"So, did I."
"Well I have."
"Yes a huge success for us."
"I'm protecting American lives."
"Of course you are. Anyway about your impeachment."
"Fake news!"
"This is me Vlad, not some journalist.'
"Sorry."
"A word of advice?"
"What?"
"Cut down the number of people listening to your phone calls."
"Why?"
"They take records."
"Wrong records."
"We have the tapes."
"I dispute them."
"Good that's the right approach. Now, have you seen the new list."
"Which list? You send so many?"
"The list for National Security Advisor and Secretary of State."
"I haven't sacked them yet."
"Not this month. Anyway keep the Ukraine angle going as long as possible and ignore all those security briefings."
"I am. How are the election plans going."
"You don't need to know but our advertising budget is doing well. We've ben actively supporting some Democrats."
"Why?"
"So you can claim interference once they finally decide which id... which candidate to stand against you."
"But won't that help them."
"Only to get Hilary back in the game, I thought you wanted that?"
"Biden may be bigger issue."
"Don't worry about him, we have some more Son stories to leak."
"Good."
"Do you have the interview answers for your next UK interview."
"Why another UK one?"
"They are having another election."
"I thought that was Israel, Bennie asked for my support."
"We may have to let Ben go."
"Why?"
"Haven't you seen the news. He may get locked up."
"But I haven't asked for that."
"Has anyone you wanted to be locked up actually been locked up?"
"No."
"Has anyone you didn't want locked up been locked up?"
"Yes."
"You really need to get a grip on the legal system there. I thought Ruddi was working on that."
"He's got bogged down in Ukraine."
"I know how he feels."

We Won’t Be Asked To Vote On…

Some things that we won’t be promised or asked to vote on, by the main parties in the election

  1. Reduction in MPs from 650 to 500 with attendant boundary changes
  2. MPs deselected that do not take up seats e.g. NI parties that don’t
  3. Proportional representation introduction outside NI – mentioned in Lib Dems last time but not by main parties
  4. Lords reform – to voted for chamber (power away from House of Commons)
  5. Fixed term limits for Prime Minister or MPs e.g. See Costa Rica 4 years for President 8 years for MP equivalent
  6. Tax take must equal or be more than government spend and borrowing cost – no deficit increase
  7. Any hope that any manifesto might get implemented with thought for unintended consequences – see 6 for spending commitments
  8. Understanding by any MP of unintended consequences see 6 and 7
  9. Understanding by any political party that it takes years to train doctors, nurses, teachers therefore you cannot magic more in a couple of years unless imported from abroad thus denying other countries’ their health/teaching
  10. That Donald Trump has no vote in UK Election, nor does any other foreign politician (including EU). Their opinions are irrelevant, and should be ignored especially tweets
  11. If you don’t vote for who you want to represent you do not complain when someone else is elected – introduce compulsory voting
  12. Challenge those who are asking for your vote how they will vote on the issues. Sue them for breach of contract if they don’t!

Fake or Real News and Headlines

Fake or real news is seldom out of the headlines. The never-ending debate on Brexit continues to polarise opinion with now the new PM adding to the fray. His request to the Queen to prorogue the UK Parliament has been treated with varying degrees of support or hostility based entirely on the already dived opinion line of Remain or leave. I wish the Remain camp would stop arguing their opposition is against no deal when they voted against a deal negotiated with 27 other countries. At least the Lib Dems are honest enough to admit that.

My concern is in the so called impartiality of figures who should know better and yet claim precedent or lack of it. But I’ll start with the BBC coverage and one headline in particular.
Yesterday BBC news and web site reported the following

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-49493885

“Pound Falls” is the less of a headline than BBC news which headlined at 18:00 “Pound crashes” on news. The web sites now has volatile rather than crashes. So what has happened to the pound this month – think I may have mentioned this before

No headline at all about the pound’s rise against the dollar. In particular, since the 6th August but a half cent drop on one day is a crash. What happened on the 6th? Not a lot as far as I can tell. Personally, it looks great as I’ve just had to buy some dollars for a forthcoming trip and I’ve had a better rate this week than last. When I heard crash I was worried my next purchase would be harder, but the headline means it must be not that. I’m better buying this week than I was at the start of the month – a real transaction by the way.

Really BBC – must do better

Now to the meat of the subject – sorry vegans the main point then… The word unprecedented.(dict’ definition never having happened or existed in the past

As in the Prorogation of Parliament is unprecedented or sometimes with the caveat of in recent history with no definition of recent which given nearly 1,000 years of Parliament is hard to judge.

Prorogue of parliament

https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/occasions/prorogation/

The longest parliamentary sessions since 1945.

This is the amount of time for a parliamentary session i.e. the current session being prorogued is quite long, and the longest since the World War II

The next use of unprecedented refers to the length of time Parliament is Prorogued in this case 23 days. If we caveat with recent. Then the longest most recent was 1997 for 19 days. There have been much longer periods in history. Elizabeth 1st the first had no sitting parliament for over 3 years. 23 days is not unprecedented. Many governments even since universal adult suffrage from 1928 (after the equalisation of the voting ages for men and women) have used various tricks to get their plans through. This has included doing the opposite of now i.e. Prorogation and adding an additional session to prevent House of Lords interference (Labour 1948 to allow nationalisation of Iron and Steel without Lords amendment), or as in the case of 1997, to prevent difficult questions in the House of Commons – The cash For Question Scandal. In both cases, the government did not resign, nor was there an election. After the break, there was a new Queen’s Speech and a new Parliamentary session. As is proposed to start on 13th October, which I believe is still before 31st October and therefore, MPs still have time to pass or amend legislation.

the lack of historical context, despite our long history, continues to be troubling. The NOW generation infects our media reporting. We see this is numerous ways from sports results ignoring decades of previous results just because a competition name changed, to the use of the word democracy, but only when applied to the speaker’s narrow definition of the vote they mean. I.e Johnson is undemocratic because he replace May, whereas Brown replacing Blair, was democratic neither were unprecedented or undemocratic. They are the rules we have lived by for centuries.

In the case of Brexit, the UK Sovereign Parliament voted to leave the EU (without a deal) on 1st Feb 2017 as the European Union Bill. It was supported by the Labour leadership, by 498 votes to 114. This remains the default legal position. Since then the same Parliament has rejected 3 times the negotiated deal, and merely passed a delaying law now to 31st Oct or rather a delay requesting the EU to grant an extension.

But let’s not let facts get in the way of a good story