Freedom Day

Yesterday was the so-called ‘Freedom day’ here. The ending of all formal and legal restrictions in England relating to the pandemic. The country has now ‘Opened Up’.

No more legal requirement to wear face coverings or masks.
No more compulsory soocial distancing.
Theatres, Cinemas, Bars, Nightclubs, Restaurants, all fully open with no more restrictions on numbers.
Outside and inside events allowed without any limit on numbers attending.
Families allowed to visit loved ones in hospitals and care homes after such a long time.

Not everyone was happy about that.

Those with health conditions that give them reduced immunity. Staff at care homes being told masks were still compulsory for them, as well as vaccinations being mandatory. People attending hospitals, health clinics, and doctor’s appointments becoming angry that masks are still compulsory in those places. Despite the high statistics surrounding the vaccination programme, infections are still increasing, especially among those who have refused vaccination, or are in the younger age groups.

To confuse the issue even more, our buffoon of a Prime Minister then announced that from September, anyone attending an enclosed nightclub will have to show proof of vaccination, or will not be allowed in. I can understand their anger. Yesterday, they could go to a nightclub with no vaccination, and no mask. In September, that will not be allowed if they are not vaccinated. It is crazy. Why not wait until September to open them?

Because of money. It’s always about money. Pressure from the entertainment industry, and drinks manufacturers, the need to open during the peak holiday season, and get in as much money as possible before new restrictions apply at the end of that season, in September. The holiday market is equally confused. You can travel to some countries with no need to self-isolate on return, as long as you have had both vaccinations. If not, you will have to self-isolate for 10-14 days on return from your holiday. That means a 2-week holiday requires up to 4 weeks off work, so is not possible for the majority of the population.

Travel on public transport was left to the discretion of the carrier. So in London, the Mayor has made mask-wearing compulsory on all London Transport for the foreseeable future. But in other cities, it is to be left up to the traveller to decide whether ot not to wear a mask.

It’s a complete mess, and full of contradictions. The government has shown itself to be both decisive and indecisive in the same sentence. Many are confused, and that’s understandable.

No other European country facing a steady increase in infections attached to a new variant has taken the chance to open up fully. England has become an ‘experiment’.

An experiment with the lives of its people at stake.

Canada Day 2021

I would like to wish all my Canadian friends, blog followers, and readers a very Happy Canada Day!

Here’s hoping you all have a wonderful (and safe) celebration.

Et pour ces francophones là-bas, mes meilleurs vœux à vous aussi.

Best wishes to you all over there, Pete. 🙂 X

The British Army and Misinformation: The 77th Brigade

There are lots of conspiracy theories surrounding the pandemic, the lockdowns, and the vaccination programmes. Some are more plausible than others, and a few are actually interesting enough to possibly be true.

One of the latter concerns the activities of the British Army’s Information and Technology unit, the 77th Brigade. Did any of us know that our own army had a skilled brigade that is targeting social media? Until recently, I had no idea. Add the resources of the government listening centre, GCHQ, and you have a powerful propaganda unit that can be deployed by the government to spread rumours, counter other rumours, and even manipulate message feeds, emails, and online videos.

This is from the Army website.

WHO WE ARE
77th Brigade is an agent of change; through targeted Information Activity and Outreach we contribute to the success of military objectives in support of Commanders, whilst reducing the cost in casualties and resources.
Our outputs are a fundamental part of the Army’s Integrated Action model.
Aside from the delivery and support of Information Activities and Outreach we have a role in planning and advising across the Army and wider Defence.

SOME OF THE WAYS WE HELP
Conducting timely and appropriate audience, actor and adversary analysis
Planning and integrating information activity and outreach (IA&O)
Supporting and delivering IA&O within pre-designated boundaries
Supporting counter-adversarial information activity
Support to partners across Government upstream and post-conflict institutional development/reform
Collecting, creating and disseminating digital and wider media content in support of designated tasks
Monitoring and evaluating the information environment within boundaries or operational area

WHAT WE DO
Audience, Actor and Adversary Analysis
Information Activity and Outreach
Counter-adversarial Information Activity
Support to Partners Across Government
Collecting media content
Disseminating Media
Monitoring the information environment
Evaluating the information environment
Advising and training on Human Security and providing support to current operations.

This is online for anyone to read, so they are not a secret unit. If anything, they seem to be very proud of their role.

I also found this article, by a journalist who visited the unit’s headquarters. It is long, but eye-opening.
https://www.wired.co.uk/article/inside-the-77th-brigade-britains-information-warfare-military

Well, I have just written about them online, so let’s see if they alter my social media profile, or ‘cyber-attack’ me in other ways.

It was nice knowing you… 🙂

India and Covid-19: The Harsh Reality

Thanks to Australian blogger, Lloyd Marken, I have been following his reports about the pandemic all around the world.
https://backtothedrawingboardproductions.com/2021/06/26/covid-19-diary-one-in-three/

His latest post features a You Tube video clip from the news programme, ‘India Today’. This 4-minute clip shows the devastating effect of Covid-19 deaths in that country. Poverty is so severe that many cannot afford the wood to use to cremate the bodies of their loved ones. As a result, many corpses are simpy floated into the River Ganges instead.

On the sandy banks of the same river, thousands are being buried in shallow graves in the sand, covered by prices of cloth. Unknown, and unmarked, these graves are increasing daily, and when the river floods after expected heavy rains, most of the bodies will simply be washed away into the river.

This is not the sort of thing we see on nightly news bulletins in the west. But it is exactly what we should be seeing, when we still have so many people convinced that C-19 is a conspiracy, and are refusing to get innoculations. This is the reality of life in a poverty-stricken country, facing an explosion in numbers of deaths from the virus.

Exploring London’s Pubs: A Video Guide

Robert Lordan is a licenced London Black Taxi driver, and a great blogger and writer too. He has a love of London, and wonderful knowledge about the history of that city too.

He has produced a 13-minute video on You Tube, looking at ten famous London pubs. In his London accent, he describes the buildings, the history, and the often quirky details concerning each pub.

I am pleased to report that in my 60 years in London, I have had a drink in nine of the ten pubs featured. Only the one in Brixton escaped my patronage.

He covers a wide variety, all over the capital, and some of them were also featured in my own blog post about historic London pubs.

If you live in or near London, or are thinking of visiting the city as a tourist, this is an essential guide to some fascinating places to have a drink in while you are there.

Exploring London’s Pubs

Pygmy Music: A Video

My good friend Antony sent me this fascinating clip. Cameroonian musician Francis Bebey is playing a one-note flute, explaining how it served as both entertainment and a form of musical communication for pigmy tribes in Africa.

To bring it up to date, he is accompanied by another musician using a modern drum and bass machine.

It is a magical sound, full of history and culture.

Video: Another London Walk

My friend Antony has sent me another very interesting video from Joolz, the London tour guide. This time, he walks around Fitzrovia, delving into the fascinating history of the area, and some of the quirky shops and buildings too. I often walked through those streets to get to work, and as I lived close to the Post Office Tower which is seen in the film, it brought back a lot of memories for me.

If you ever visit London, you might never see this district, but it is so close to some of the traditional tourist sights, it is worth a short diversion.

The clip is just over twenty minutes long.

Bags For Life Or Bag For The Week?

I found this interesting article online about supermarket shopping bags.

https://getpocket.com/explore/item/reusable-plastic-shopping-bags-are-actually-making-the-problem-worse-not-better?utm_source=pocket-newtab-global-en-GB

When compulsory charges for plastic carrier bags were introduced, most large retailers offered the option of the more expensive ‘Bag For Life’. The cost for these can range from 20p, to over £1, depending on the shop, and the size of the bags. The idea was to cut plastic waste, as the shop would replace your ‘Bag for life’ once it had split, or the handles had broken. The replacement was free, and the shop would arrange for proper recycling of the damaged bag.

The bigger, thicker bags use much more plastic in their manufacture, and it seems shoppers are not deterred by having to pay for them after all. Very few are taken back to the shops for replacement, and many shoppers regularly fail to reuse them when buying more groceries on the next shopping trip. They just buy more new ones instead. So most bags for life last little longer than one week, often dumped into the household rubbish where they once again become a problem.

I have a woven basket, and three heavy shopping bags that I have used for almost 10 years. I never forget to take them when I go shopping, and never have to buy any replacements until they literally fall to bits.

It seems we still have a long way to go when it comes to plastic bags in this country.

Unconscious Errors

Looking back on old posts as I reblog them, I noticed some consistent spelling errors. That led me to check on some recent comments I have left and posts published this year.

Words including the letter ‘W’ are easily explained, as my keyboard has an issue with that letter, and I have to hit it very hard (or twice) for a ‘W’ to register. That is why you will often see my usual ‘Best wishes’, appearing as ‘Best ishes’. I could change the keyboard, but it was a gift from Julie, so will hang onto it a bit longer. I have tried to ‘fiddle’ with the ‘W’ key, but it doesn’t appear to want to budge.

However, other mistakes are less easy to explain. I contantly mis-type the word ‘Remember’, leaving out the second ‘M’, and ending up with ‘Remeber’. I do this so often, it seems I have a blind spot of some kind when it comes to the word.

‘Because’ is another one. I seem to type ‘Becuase’ as frequently as the correct spelling.

When you consider how carefully I check text before posting, I wonder why I miss those errors on a daily basis.

Is this a sign of some kind of mental degeneration, I wonder? Anyone else experiencing something similar, or is it just me?