I Don’t Mean To Ruin The Party

I don’t mean to be the asshole even though I am probably being that person. I have been super impressed with the scientific breakthroughs and vaccines that have been made for the SARS-Cov-2 virus. The whole effort by governments and private enterprise to secure a hopeful future for the world is certainly worth celebrating. I also do not mean to slag off the NHS. I have never cared more abut the state of this country’s health service than now but I have always been a defender of the public health system we have in the UK. I don’t mean to have a moan at the BBC and while there are many communications in these pages which moan about news and headlines from the BBC I chose to moan about them because they hold the highest standards of journalism in this country [just look at how shit the print media are].

NHS Delivering 140 Jabs
But What Does This Really Mean?

This was the headline yesterday. The NHS is delivering 140 part one vaccines a minute which sounds very fucking impressive. As a mild aside, who the fuck calls these things “jabs”? They are inoculations or at least the first part of it, can’t we use grown up language to describe the things that matter? FFS. Back to the numbers because that’s what we should be looking at and bear in mind that I will defend the NHS and science – I am not having a moan about them.

140 Vaccinations [part 1] per minute.

Assuming there are twenty million people who really need to have vaccinations before we can get back to something that resembles normal and feel safe again that is going to require:

2,380 hours of constant vaccinations or just about 100 days -that’s THREE months – assuming twenty four hour access and every appointment filled.

Even if we manage to keep the centres open for 18 hours a day it will require 132 days to vaccinate twenty million people.

There are 66 million people in this country.

Here’s to another three months of lockdown.

Nothing

Not much to say. Just kinda don’t feel anything this morning. Happens quite often I think. I look at the news and I think – nothing surprising there, same old same old. People dying, infection ruining the NHS, govt useless and full of liars. Sometimes I wish I was more obsessive about sports things or bands or any other drama type thing, but mostly I just take what I enjoy from those things and ignore the rest. Who cares if a drummer argues with the rest of the band? I struggle to see the healthy response in being so emotionally attached to a band or TV show or similar. I think that’s why I don’t really enjoy soap operas. It’s all incredibly boring. They need drama and so more things happen to those characters than would in real life and it’s just boring. They aren’t real.

My google app likes to give me news items based on things I search for. This is weird because I searched for best Metallica songs as rated by fans and, apart from the fact I disagreed with the list almost entirely, I now get loads of news feed items about Metallica and I couldn’t give less of a shit about them. I even get things like “What Mustaine thought about Kill ‘Em All”. I mean, I don’t care what Mustaine thought about that album. I know I like it and so who gives a crap? I was asked recently what my favourite Metallica song was and in the pressure of the moment I said Creeping Death. I think that still stands as once when I saw Metallica they opened with that song and it was great.

Also, the google app likes to send me news items based on emails I receive. So I have ordered food to be delivered and I now get news items covering the hygiene ratings of restaurants in Kent. Yes, I live in Kent but I don’t care about those ratings. They are unlikely to include the restaurants I use. These articles come from some local newspaper websites and the headlines are too click-baity. Like: “This Restaurant Has A Zero Hygiene Rating”. Just fucking tell me. I’m not going to your shitty website with all its adverts and more clickbait articles. They also like headlines such as “These Areas In Kent Have Reducing Infection Rates”. Quite clearly this is about getting clicks on sites and advertising revenue rather than actually being a news platform and informing the public.

A while back when I met Penguin we chatted about the media and he reminded me that newspapers and news media are companies and therefore their main priority is to make money. Their primary aim isn’t to publish the news and inform the public. Their aim is to make money. That is why you need to have a funded but fully independent news service. The issue with that is, in our country, that the BBC are funded but those in the company-media and those in power don’t like the BBC telling the truth or existing and so they either slag off the BBC at every opportunity [The Daily Mail – a shit piece of media] or continuously call for funding changes – the politicians. Funding changes sound like they benefit the taxpayer but really politicians just don’t want their wankish attempts at organising anything to be broadcast impartially.

The weather isn’t even real snow here. I live in one of the milder areas of this country but I would like to see snow now and then. I can’t even travel anywhere to see snow at the moment. I also can’t get to Istanbul to see Smith.

Even The Weather Is Meh
Even The Weather Is Meh

Week One – Completed

Well, it’s all been rather busy hasn’t it? On Monday we were at work preparing for teaching in school and rolling out a testing programme, which doesn’t really work. Then, that evening, BJ told us that wasn’t happening. Such a shame that he didn’t do this three, or more, weeks ago and we mightn’t have had 1300 deaths yesterday. I do understand that this is all about balance. Keeping everyone sane and the money working while doing what you can for the ill. I mean, all of society is about the balance. How much are you willing to pay to help others is what it comes down to as far as I can see from over here on the left. “But it must be hard for anyone in that position” I hear mentioned – well, yes, but the indecision has caused so many deaths and another national lockdown. It’s like we elected a muppet to the most powerful position in this country and expected him to not behave like a muppet. On second thoughts that is exactly what we did, no simile needed.

You might be thinking why aren’t people as angry as me? Good question but we need to work out where you are getting your information about the angriness of the country. If it’s the print media and their online editions then remember that they are companies who push particular views because it suits their owners. Interesting that the Daily Mail moaned about Lewis Hamilton receiving a knighthood because he lives in Monaco for tax reasons and possibly the weather, when the owner of the DM is a non-domiciled Lord who runs his companies through various tax havens. By and large the print media love the easy going regulations that tories tend to put into place and so their messages follow that course. Just have a look at Brexit coverage or anything else to do with finance and try to look for biases. Along with natural pro-business anti-the-little-person these media also try to distract us from the horror of this country by creating outrage when there isn’t really any [Lewis Hamilton] or giving us a glimpse of side-boob. The honours system is a communication for another day, I’m not pro.

This week I’ve been working. I’ve been teaching live lessons online. It’s not the best way of teaching [no evidence for this] but it’s the best we can do in these situations [it didn’t have to be this bad, remember]. My back hurts from laptop work all day and my headaches have been low-level but constant. Such are the consequences of online learning etc. I’ll manage. I genuinely want the best for my pupils. In the many years I’ve had this site I haven’t written about work really. It’s been one of my “rules”. Things are strange enough now that I feel justified to do so, even if it’s only a little bit. My thoughts and views on my work place will remain that, mine. I’m happy to moan about national issues but there are limits to what people should write online about themselves. That, is almost comical given the stuff I put on here and twitter and my secret FB page and YouTube – but I suppose that’s all filtered to an extent as is this site.

If you are wondering where the album reviews are then they will return. It’s just the next few require a decent amount of writing because they are monster albums and I do that while listening to the album so I need the space and time to be able to do that. I’m looking forward to completing the album reviews because then I can go back and talk through the EBM and Aggrotech I’ve not written about. I’ve enlargened my music tastes and industrial electronic figures large in my choices at the moment. Metal is still there though I saw Slipknot about a year ago. Earlier today I paid for the latest single by Aesthetic Perfection it’s called S E X. On first listening it’s really good. Very AP. I suspect that over time I will still enjoy the song but the love for it will lessen as I think more complex songs that require a few listens to learn the patterns make the best long term songs.

The Wrong Way Round

It’s just into the new year and I have tried to stay away from writing about this sort of this for most of last year but I need somewhere to let this stuff out and you are the people who I tell. I’ve mentioned before, many times, that this is a place for me to form my ideas and arguments. I’m not very good at that. I know what I think and I am quite convicted with those ideals, however I will change my mind once I see evidence that means I should. I don’t want to say I’m right about everything, I know I’m not, but I try to see things from a “do no harm” point of view. Right, disclaimers completed so here we go.

There is a lot of talk this morning about children’s education being affected by school closures. I want to consider that first. Yes, during the last national lockdown a lot of children struggled to keep up with the school work and a lot of children suffered mental health issues. If we look at the keeping up with the school work issue first there seems to be this idea that we have a fixed amount of things to teach pupils in schools. That’s not true. The reason people think like that is that they consider taking examinations, which by definition have a fixed content, to be the measure of schooling. This is bullshit. I can teach as much or as little as is required. We should look at the qualifications and change those. If we have teacher assessed grades for the next two years then it doesn’t matter if I fail to teach geometrical applications of vectors to my class. If an employed accepts someone who has a grade 8 in mathematics does the employer use that as a measure of that person’s ability to prove geometrical results using vectors or solving quadratic equations by completing the square? No, they do not. Employers use examination grades to give a measure of ability overall. Is that person good at mathematics? A teacher or centre assessed grade will still give that measure to employers, college or university.

STOP thinking that education is 200 things that pupils have to know before they leave school and start thinking about education as a process. Missing school for a few months doesn’t make kids any more stupid. It protects those in society from getting a dangerous virus that is KILLING 500 people a fucking day in this country.

Right, so I’ve fixed this concept of a fixed amount of education and we can use teachers to give grades so that society has a measure of the pupils we released to the wild. The next issue spoken about is that pupils need to be in school. The best place for young people is in school and I have some things to say about this.

Firstly, being in a supportive social environment is incredibly important to young people and mixing with others around their age is important. But the issue at stake here is that schools are where we force the rules of society onto people. It’s where we create the lifelong rules that people follow so that they fit into this current society. Late for school? Get punished. Mess around? Get punished. Swear at a teacher? Get punished. This societal requirement for school means that teachers and school staff do far more than educate children in the academic requirements of the world. We support the growth of young people and allow them to see different views and practice arguing and learning about how the world works. Schools are more than examination factories, we are places for creating future society because we don’t trust other people or families to do that well.

The mental health of our young people is incredibly important and schools form a massive part of giving meaning and a belonging to young people. Schools give structure to lives and help people develop. Having faced episodes of mental health issues in my life I am fully aware of how important good mental health and a supportive structure is to an individual. Rather than forcing society to rely on schools as a place of mental health support there should be much more of a support structure outside of school. The government admitting that we need pupils in schools for mental health reasons means that we have failed as a society to support our young people. If we require schools to do all these things then we are doing the bare minimum as a country. Pupils struggle without the support of school and I know children in supportive families who are having problems. The issue isn’t that schools are closed. The real issue is a lack of funding for support services outside of school and constant cuts over the last twelve years or more.

What sort of society do we live in where we are at the point of forcing schools to be open to support the economic activity of parents? Another reason being spouted for schools staying open is that parents can’t work if their kids are home. What sort of society have we created where the “family” unit can’t operate as a family and has to rely on state sponsored childcare? This is the government admitting that without teachers and schools taking your children off your hands for six hours a day then we can’t run economically as a country and that horrifies me. It would be nice to have the recognition that these are the things that schools perform for society. But recognition rarely comes.

So, to turn things around we need to do the following:

  1. Change how our qualifications work to support real learning in schools rather than examination results being the result of children need to know these 200 things.
  2. Pump money into bespoke services to look after the mental health of all people.
  3. Pump money into creating a society that can cope economically without aspects of education always being open.

Now you can see the issues. Everything I have said, except removing public examination, will cost money. It’s a political choice.

Oh, by the way. I’m angry and have been for four years. But it’s getting worse. I’ve been shrugging all governmental responses off over the last year or so but I’m going through a phase of not being able to do that.

Testing The ‘Rona

I have spent the last few days angry and I expect it will continue. This government was, until yesterday, insisting that schools return for education and school stuff in the new year. This is while this country is ravaged by Covid-19. The numbers do not look good. The virus is rampant and the spike after christmas jolities will occur in a week when, once again, the government will act as though they don’t understand a two week delay to everything they introduce. They are incompetent and have been. They lack the balls and empathy to do the right thing. I hear people say it must be difficult for people in charge and while I agree with that sentiment I feel those people are largely trying to find an excuse to forgive the tories from their utter ineptitude. The current bunch of politicians in charge of this country – and voted for by most of the country – are selfish pricks who don’t care about anything other than themselves.

There has been an insistence that schools must stay open whatever is happening and that education is really important. Wow. Given the lack of investment in schools and education over the last twelve years I’m surprised at this attitude. Maybe tories just don’t like their children and do everything they can to get them out of the house. I haven’t had a real term pay rise for over twelve years. Education has been underfunded for over twelve years. Just like the NHS the tories haven’t invested because of their policy of austerity over the last fucking decade.

So we should keep schools open but we don’t get the funding to do so. It’s like there is a belief that we should teach a fixed amount to the children and then test that “learning” or the whole system will fail. I don’t understand this rigid thought process. I can solve this now. Let teachers grade their pupils over the next two years. Cancel public examinations. Remove all forms of accountability by exam results. Let teachers give realistic grades to their students as a measure of how they have progressed and learnt over the last while. This removes the need for examinations, removes the need for all pupils to have learnt the same things and removes the need for keeping schools “open”. To be clear, when schools are closed the education is still happening. Teachers have upskilled immensely over the last year to do their best to deliver their passions and subjects online. Pupils motivation and parental support are always the biggest inhibitors to education – not what the schools or teachers do.

So, I’ve “fixed” education for you. Now you can put in policy to maintain the health of the nation and ensure that we work together to end this pandemic and get the disease under control. It is criminal that the number of deaths is as high as it is. The sheer ineptitude of the government should be enough to cause a revolution but that won’t happen in this country and that makes me sad. I don’t think there will be any accountability of this government for the deaths and illness. I think in four years when we have the next election there will be enough selfish people in this country to vote the tories back in. I am largely ashamed to live in such a selfish and racist country.

So, to testing. That is the point of this communication. I’ve read about testing for covid and I’ve decided to write this to get some handle on what it all means. This writing in my way of processing the information. So, some things to say first. There are different types of test and they aren’t all the same. If you test and get a positive it is likely you have the disease. If you test negative though it does not mean you are clear. Let’s see why. Testing relies on the virus replicating in your body enough so that there is lots of it in your saliva or snot. When you breathe or cough you expel tiny droplets and these are then absorbed by someone else, this is how this virus transmits. Also, we could leave virus particles on surfaces and other people then touch those surfaces and their mucus membranes. The current tests rely on either swabbing to see if your viral load is high or blood tests to see if you have developed blood cells that fight the disease.

The PCR test is the most accurate but takes time and money. They are almost 100% accurate if you have the disease. The false negative rate is low as long as you have some symptoms. It could be that you are infected but in the early stages and we know that it can take UP TO fourteen days for symptoms to first show. Therefore any negative doesn’t mean you are clear. All other types of Covid test are compared to PCR testing as it is highly accurate.

The Lateral Flow quick test has been hailed by the government and I suspect is the one being rolled out to schools for some fucking reason. Let’s look at the numbers involved with this test. Because it all comes down to probability and getting the numbers correct. The sensitivity [detecting the virus if you have it] ranges from 79% to 49% when those administering the tests range from laboratory scientists to tests performed by self-administration. We will use these numbers shortly.

The specificity of the lateral flow test [telling you that you are infected when you aren’t] runs at 0.4%. More accurately the specificity of the lateral flow test is 99.6%, it is a measure of how accurate the test is at being doubly wrong. So, if you aren’t infected there is a very good chance that you will get a negative result and only 0.4% of people who aren’t infected will be told they have the disease.

However, if you do have the ‘rona then the probabilities look far worse. The lateral flow test will miss around 50% of those people and declare them negative. This quite clearly shows that a negative result doesn’t mean you are negative. It doesn’t mean you can go visit grandma and it doesn’t mean you can go out. I’ve just read from UCL that up to 86% of carriers of SARS-Cov-2 virus might be asymptomatic. You need to have symptoms for the lateral flow test to work (ish), the lateral flow test will miss half of those infected and the rate is even worse if they are self-administered. This is not good news.

I’ve done some number crunching and it looks as though the probability of you testing negative even though you have the ‘rona could be as high as 25% [50% in some cases]. Oddly, maybe, this is an example of probability I teach sixth formers although I have to say I normally use the concept of a “terrorist detector” to show how immigration policies are bullshit. So, this all means that the government policy of using Lateral FLow Tests in large scale population preemptive testing is bollocks and won’t work. Just like everything else they have done this virus reaction won’t do what they think it will and be a waste of time and money and lives. If only they had paid attention to the Italians, Koreans and such like in the early days.

We all have a right to be very angry about the government’s response to this pandemic. We can acknowledge that it must be tough at the top but we can also acknowledge that they are doing an amazingly shit job of it. We are suffering and people are dying [500 a day] because the British public voted in a bunch of self-obsessed selfish losers who think it is their right to govern when, in reality, they are the worst possible group of people to lead us through this crisis. Fuck them.

I read a few articles to get this information but these were the main ones. Horizon Magazine of the EU research centre and also this one from UK Patient Site along with this one from the BMJ.

Make Decisions Now

All throughout this Covid crisis there doesn’t seem to have been much appreciation by the government that every decision they make will have a two to three week delay in any action that then occurs. This disease isn’t a quick-show-er, it takes a while to simmer and then it fucks your face. For the last month we have been experiencing five hundred deaths a day. The latest figures show a drop in that purely because it was Xmas and the paperwork will take a short while to fill out.

Graph
UK Deaths

We also have news of the new variants of Covid going around and this isn’t that surprising. If you have a lot of genetic replication you get a lot of mutations and the ones that survive are those that manage to pass on more quickly. Not a surprise. More evidence for evolution you religious bigots.

It’s time for the government to make the choice and close schools for the next month. We had headlines in December about the biggest growth in the virus was secondary school age children, that wasn’t a surprise really. Schools have done everything they can to try to make their sites “covid-safe”. I would like to point out that much like “natural” in food advertising “covid-safe” doesn’t mean anything. All it does mean is that schools are trying to do their best to follow the rules set by the government [I do understand that some schools will be worse than others and there’s not a lot I can do about that]. You might be thinking that I would obviously want schools closed for the next month, but I am going to disappoint you. I would rather be in school, I recognise it’s the best place for kids, it’s where they get the best learning experience, it’s best for them mentally. Working at home is MUCH harder than being in school. Many of my colleagues suffered bad backs and necks from working online. I had nerve issues in my legs. Everyday I spent eight hours staring at a screen while trying to do the best I can to educate and look after the welfare of pupils. There comes a time when the government needs to recognise that schools are a hub of transmission vectors and they need to close for a while.

A NEGATIVE test doesn’t mean you are NEGATIVE.

The government publishes data regularly on it’s Coronavirus Site.

So, I Did A Thing And Learnt Some Stuff

Early on in this pandemic that is fucking the world I started playing Minecraft pretty much so I could engage in conversations with my kids and understand a little about the world they were obsessed with. I still don’t know everything but I know what I like and enjoy and so I’ve been building. It gave me purpose. I hated it at times, having to head off to the farm to get wool or go and get supplies so I can make concrete. I considered making a squid farm at one point, but just changed my design to have less black concrete. I quite liked the process of building a thing and then changing my mind about what I wanted to to look like or how to complete a particular section. I would often think about what to do while I was running or working.

I haven’t done everything I want. There are things I kept thinking about that I could make to increase the complexity of the build and make it look even better. I wanted exhaust tubes to be built heading from the base of the launchpad up to the ground level around 100 blocks away and these would have smoke constantly pouring out of them to look as though the rocket was taking off. I wanted to build a launch control centre like the one at Kennedy for the Apollo launches but I only have so much time and there are other things I like doing. I’m not a complete obsessive!

Once I had done enough – I don’t think I should say finished – I tried to figure out the best way to save this build for posterity. I have the world save files backed up and stored on a NAS and in the cloud. But I wanted to be able to show this off I guess so I looked into making a YouTube walkthrough. Now, I have some rules about this website and I decided I should have rules about the videos. I wasn’t going to feature my ugly face, but I decided I would in the end. I have an opening title card – ha ha, created in MS Paint – yes it looks cheap but these are my first videos. Not sure what I’ll do next. I’ve been really impressed with the video recording software and I found it very intuitive. So, here is the first in the series, Episode 1 of Megaship 3000.

It turns out I can talk much better if I have wine and it amuses me how stilted and staccato my opening words are. I think I relax a little once I get going and know what to talk about. Many, many thanks to Penguin for giving me feedback on the first few attempts at a video and I would also like to thank the penguin chicks for their advice which, as seasoned YouTube watchers, was really good. I guess it’s now time to publicise my efforts and think about a release schedule! There are eight episodes in all and I guess, one day, I might do this again.

Plenty Of Shrugging

Over the last year I have found that the only way to get through is to shrug a lot and act as though nothing is really surprise. I think I’m managing to do this well. I am not mad, yet. I haven’t sat in the corner and cried. I’ve been largely quite positive about the whole thing. Let’s see what has happened so far this year.

The UK left the EU and is now following the rules of the EU without any say in those rules. This was to give the government time to get a trade deal organised added on to the three years they had previously had to get a deal sorted. As we march on to the 1st Jan 2021 this country still has no deal and could be plunged into utter chaos. The thing is no-one knows if there will be chaos. That’s the scary thing. If we knew it was going to be chaos we could plan for it. But we can’t because we don’t know. The government don’t want to say there will be chaos because that fucks up all their plans. They don’t want it all going to shit. Let’s say for now I am on the pessimistic side of reality on this matter. There are 10,000 trucks a day that cross the channel. On the 1st of January 2021 they will ALL have to be inspected if there is no free movement of goods. Those are the RULES. Trucks will need the correct paperwork and be ready for this. You would imagine that we had increased our Border Force, but I suspect we haven’t. When my son’s school sends home a Risk Assessment listing poor air quality (due to traffic) and shortage of food as potential outcomes you should realise you are fucked. This country voted “out” based on misinformation and Russian influence – fact.

We have been in pandemic conditions for most of 2020. The current crop of ineffective leaders seem to not understand that there is a two week delay to anything that they do. They haven’t managed this process at all. They are incompetent and my current fear is that in three years as we approach the next general election people will have forgotten the sheer ineptitude of the current government and vote them back in to continue destroying the NHS and everything I value about this country. If you start from the golden rule of “do no harm” and do everything you can to reach the best outcomes for all then you don’t end up with the racists and liars we currently have in power. I almost beg Johnson to try and sue me for calling him out as a racist and liar. He is.

I worked in the education industry. In fact it’s not an industry. It’s a service to the future. As a society we invest in the youth and educate them in the hope that they will contribute to society and keep the cycle going. We hope they will have the right ideals to do the best they can for themselves and those around them. I have seen my sector demoralised over the last twelve years with no real-terms pay rises as the tory government pushes through a policy of “austerity” and they constantly underinvest in our society and health. If you want to know how you get out of a massive depression then look at the 1930 and the New Deal. It is clear you have to spend your way out of a recession. You have to invest in society to improve the quality of life and in the long term these things will return and pay back. But long term is further than politicians can think.

This year the education sector has done everything that has been asked of it. We have placed ourselves at risk by looking after the vulnerable and children of key workers. We have tried our best to educate and keep looking out for those we care about. We have sacrificed our own health and well-being to ensure that we do a good job and try to keep going. Sure, there will be some who are shit at what they do, just as there is detritus in every part of society but the vast majority have done all they can to keep doing their jobs and what they believe is right. How do we get rewarded for this? No pay rise. Rules and policy sent out at the last minute. No money for schools. The response of the government has been a shambles and for the first time in my career I have looked thought about finding a way out.

If I tried to think about things too much, which is my default position, then I would be utterly depressed and horrified at everything that happened this year and how the so-called “leaders” of this country have acted. It’s almost as if a degree in PPE doesn’t equip you to be a decent leader and manager. I am surviving at the moment because my little world is OK. I’ve got a little house with things that I can spend time playing and doing. I’ve got lovely countryside around me and I’m fortunate to be able to run and exercise. I’m a lucky one. I really feel for all those struggling at the moment and life must be shit for so many. I hope we manage to do good in the end. But, I don’t hold out hope for that. This country seems to be filled with low level selfishness and racism and if I could live somewhere else I think I would.

The Rules

It’s such an interesting time to be alive and hopefully we won’t catch the disease causing this pandemic and die. I have found the last year quite fascinating in terms of planning, managing and governing. I might eventually get to the point of this communication but I think I want to start with the initial response from the UK government in February and March.

The very nature of disease communication means that once a communicable disease is in your country you are very unlikely to be able to stop the transmission – more so if the disease has a gestation period of a few days and then lasts for a couple of weeks. A deadly disease such as Ebola or Marburg is actually quite difficult to catch, I mean, once you’ve got it you are fucked, but it’s still hard to catch. Something that can travel in little airbourne particles or remain on surfaces is going to be much harder to stop. The current SARS-Cov-2 virus is a little bitch with 1/3 infected people being asymptomatic and many others getting just a mild version. Currently in the UK the death rate is 500 people a day. People are fucking dying and it’s sad.

Back in early March I can remember telling friends, family and colleagues that we needed to close borders even before we had our first case in the UK. In fact it was likely the first case was already in the UK and probably from Italy but you can’t wait for the first case. You have to be pre-emptive and shut the borders. This, is, of course, terrible for the economy, but good for lives. Our government seemed as though they were rabbits stuck staring at the headlights as the truck thundered towards them to kill them. No-one in government had the guts to make the call until it was too late. I suspect that these fuckers were just hoping for a nice quiet five years of “governing” so that they could then collect and use all the power they wanted. It’s what the current brand of inarticulate and intellectually challenged group do.

We missed the chance to shut down and minimise the effects of the pandemic across the country for many reasons, but mostly because our “leaders” are not leaders. The first wave of the pandemic resulted in a complete country shut down with education moving online and a massive hit to the economy which will be paid off over the next few generations. I’d like to tell you that the pandemic and the planning required was a surprise but it wasn’t. The government had commissioned a report into threats to the UK back in 2017 and a pandemic was there. It’s always been just a matter of when in time and not if. The problem is that humans and society are terrible at planning for things with a low probability of happening or if the threat is too distant.

If we have a look at the threat to society from anthropogenic climate change then we can see that life is going to be utterly shit for most humans in around two generations time. Now some people are bothered by this and are trying to get things moving politically so that the human race can cope. But for most people this event is too abstract, too far away, and doesn’t concern them. Any efforts we put in place would mean massive changes to the way our current society works and that is too much for most people to think about and definitely not anything for the short-termism of national politics to act on. So, planning for rare but deadly events isn’t something we are good at. We know it’s something we aren’t good at and so you would hope that people in government would put policies in place to ensure that we are prepared. There are people paid to think about how we cope in these situations.

What I have found socially interesting over this year is the reliance on “The Rules”. Early on the government came out with rules for society to work and maintain the health as best we could for people. We had briefings from senior ministers, all of whom I wouldn’t even leave in charge of cooking and egg if I knew them personally. The current government were voted in on the back of racist ideologies left over from the Brexit bullshit along with a perpetuating fear of “communism” in the guise of a socialist leader of the main opposition party. Having discussed some issues with a friend who votes differently to me it seemed clear that he was soaking up Facebook headlines rather than what was actually Labour policy and when I cleared up the actual truth about “renationalisation of the railways” he didn’t believe me because five minutes later he mentioned the same headline. The current “leaders” of this country are liars, bullies and racists (even the ones with darker skin than traditionally associated with “England”).

[As an aside I’m reading “How To Argue With A Racist” by Adam Rutherford – I highly recommend it for anyone to read. I don’t think the arguments are new to me, but it’s nice to have a source of information where the truth is clearly set out]

Early on the government set out the “rules” for society and also changed the LAW so that these rules could be enforced. The “rules” changed many times over the last nine months but everyone followed the rules as best they could because we Brits are a rule loving society and while some people obviously don’t give a fuck about the rules most people did their best because they were following the rules. I went to work in the weeks of early March because I was following the rules. I personally thought it was fucking bonkers that schools were still open but we were waiting for the government to tell us what to do. The problem is that the government weren’t doing the right thing. I’m not saying that with hindsight, I said it at the time. We should have shut the schools much earlier than we did. But even though everyone I spoke to knew what we should do we followed the rules because that is what we do. Even, it seems, when we know the rules are wrong.

I know that when we moved to online teaching everyone at my school worked their asses off. Every day I would end with headaches after staring at the PC screen for so long. The “administration” of running online lessons was immense. Everyone wanted to do the best for their pupils and we still do. That is why we are teachers. We love our subjects and we want to pass that knowledge on, we want to give young people the skills to be good people in the future. Yes, there are some teachers who seem to hate their job, or worse, be terrible at it, but that is expected. The vast majority are excellent people who want the best for young people.

So, we followed the “rules”. We did as we were told. We had the school open for key-worker children and some of us volunteered to go in and supervise those children. We worked remarkably hard to come up with grades for our examination groups. We know the pupils and we had the evidence so we set up grades. We followed the rules because that is what we do. We opened the schools back in September because that is the rules. We have done everything that has been asked of us, because those are the rules set in place by the “leaders” of this country.

The problem is THE RULES ARE BULLSHIT.

What do you do when you know the rules are a misguided attempt to maintain everything working the way is always has. What do you do when you are threatened to be taken to court when you know that infection rates are high enough that it would make more sense to move all your teaching online for the last week of term. We know what is best and works for our local societies but we have been fucked over by the government bullying schools and local areas into submission because when they went to their private school everyone was there to serve their needs.

The absolute privilege and self-righteousness of those “in-charge” of our country is huge. They believe they were born to lead and run this country. They believe they know what is best for the country. The current crop of senior conservative politicians are the worst possible collection of humans I have seen in power in this country in my short time on this earth. They are hopelessly lost. Had this country not been going through TWO massive problems right now we could have possibly survived five years of these wankers. But, the problems of Brexit along with this current pandemic [500 PEOPLE A DAY ARE DYING] is too much for the feeble twats we voted in charge. So what do we do?

We follow the rules set out by those idiots. We have a strange relationship with the rules. We need rules there so we can work out how to run things in a “moral” way. I thin the rules are there to try to make things seem fair. They don’t make things actually fair because the rules are written by entitled idiots. But the rules at least attempt to make things fair and clear for people to follow so that we can exist together and not kill granny. A lot of rules seem self evident, along the lines of the golden rule of “do no harm” or “be nice”. We don’t all walk around murdering people because we intrinsically know that is wrong, we also know there are rules against it, but I don’t think we need those rules there. We know rape is wrong, we know racism is wrong. If we follow the “do no harm” ideals then it’s reasonably easy to figure out what we should do.

We try to codify the rules so that we all have the correct basis for what we do. If you are powerful enough then you can bend those rules to your advantage but for the most of us we follow the rules. The problem still is that the current rules for running this country are terrible. Who is pressuring you to make sure that you can go visit your grandma and kill her over xmas? Who is it making the current “leaders” relax the rules for some mid-winter celebration. For fuck’s sake, virus transmission is quite easy to understand and yet we are allowing people to have some more “freedom”. Many won’t understand or listen to the rules. Many will travel. There will be a spike in January. It’s fucking obvious. It’s a bit like forcing schools to stay open. Headlines two weeks ago covered that teenagers were the fastest growing group of positive cases. But we are told to keep the schools open and so we do.

What do we do when we have finally had enough of the “rules”. Most other countries would have a revolution. People would rise up and tell those in charge that we want change. Not this pathetic country. We are so controlled to think that our leaders want the best for us that we don’t get onto the streets. Even then, when we do in overwhelming numbers the government do jack shit about it. A million people marched against the illegal Iraq war. But we went and killed over 100,000 people. A million people marched against Brexit but those fuckers still didn’t have the balls to say – “hold on chaps”. It’s almost as if we are conditioned to think that those in charge are benevolent and selfless when the absolute opposite is true. There isn’t a perfect form of government but our current crop of leaders are stupid assholes.

Early on in this pandemic the politicians were attempting to explain that they were “following the science”. This was their excuse for doing the things they did. Let me just clear something up here. Science can give you information. In the early days of new science that information is sketchy and likely to improve over time. Science can give you facts to the best of our knowledge at that time and the more evidence we get the better and more reliable that information can become. Science is a tool for understanding the universe. Scientists as individuals are prone to bias as much as anyone else and so we have systems to try and filter that bias out. All science can do is give the government the best filtered information we have at that moment. Science doesn’t have the answers to “what should we do”. All science can do is inform you what might work. It is politicians who make the decisions based on what they have been told. Science can inform the politicians. The politicians make the decisions. They are the ones who own the rules we have been following. If they are too thick to understand the science or if they just choose to do their own thing then it is the politicians we should blame.

All the information we have been given in this country has come from politicians. They have done a terrible job. Yes, it must be particularly hard to do those jobs at the moment. Yes, anyone would find it hard. But we can blame the current crop for being utterly useless. We can blame them for being unable to comprehend the consequences of their decisions and we can blame them for doing things wrong.

FIVE HUNDRED PEOPLE A DAY ARE DYING.

Ray Tracing

So, Bedrock edition just got updated to include Ray Tracing in the standard edition. This meant I had to update the server as well and the results are bloody gorgeous. I’m using the most basic texture pack but it still looks absolutely amazing.

Minecraft With Ray Tracing
Minecraft With Ray Tracing

It’s a shame this won’t be on the PS4 but it works on the PC and that is where I am going to record the tour videos of this build. One thing is that glowstones don’t shine as bright and all the lighting I had sorted out to look lovely has been adjusted. But it looks bloody lovely.

Megabuild With Ray Tracing
Megabuild With Ray Tracing

Keep an eye open for the tour, coming soon.