It's usually bad weather or some other 'act of god' that triggers my writing a newsletter, beyond obvious reports of holidays, major projects, and family events. This time it's rather different in that after three years of dodging it, the dreaded Covid caught up with me. Obviously even gods can have bad days...remember the flood?
Consequently I’ve been out of the loop for a few days. Should be properly back in a few more. I'd probably not have caught it but forgot my nappy cream and went to a village meeting.
Perhaps I'd better explain that an old friend and engineer recommended a cheap and harmless barrier normally sold as nappy rash cream. Essentially Zinc based (zinc oxide and castor oil) The idea is you smear some of it in your nose. (That's in not on). Now I have no idea what constitutes nappy rash, beyond inflammation, but presumably the emulsion provides some kind of viral barrier, irrespective of the suppression of irritation or inflammation. No guarantee comes with the suggestion but you’ll notice I only got Covid after 3 years when I went into a crowd without it. I have the same relevant history as Fiona apart from that. I use it too, but not this time. She eventually caught it as I would have expected, probably from my sneezing etc. The ointment is available from chemists and supermarkets as nappy cream and you get the the added advantage of not getting nappy rash in your nose (no need to put it on your bum) and it isn’t visible from the outside. Dead cheap too. Masks seem to be out of favour at the moment, which I think is a pity as numbers are still 2% around here. I wear one with shopping malls and most crowds. I'm fairly sure a villager was covid positive and unmasked, at a small 'do' on the 20th and symptoms started late on the 22nd some 5 days ago. Having had a proper dose of the wild covid I should hope I'll have some natural immunity, but I'll be going back to both barriers for a while.

Symptoms started a short while after my (over 70) shingles immunisation jag which I thought at first was the cause, fortunately I had just finished re-sealing the shower in our house and the tiled wall by the bath/shower in the rental so they weren't a problem and the other imminent tasks can wait. Hopefully I will dodge 'long covid' as there is plenty to do once the weather improves. We are currently getting the March thing with lots of seasons at random. Come May5th there's a new roof to go on and soon some ash trees to come down. There are about four to drop in the woodland and a couple of logged larch from the garden to split, so that should top up the firewood situation. I’ll have to decide what to plant in their places. In health terms I still feel slightly hard done by, having had three anti covid jags, but  the ash trees will probably be feeling worse.

    I notice much chat on the internet about AI and the idea that they will quite rapidly get so smart that we'll be outclassed. Frankly, we are making such a mess of things I doubt they would do any worse. The chances are they'll just stand back and wait for us to go quiet.

 Who is in charge now?
    He may be a figurehead but I would say that the title belongs to the artist previously known as The Prince of Wales, who I assume will shortly take the title of King Charles the third. (Like pharaohs occasionally they chose different names) Governments come and go, but the public concept of 'King' / 'Sovereign / Queen etc is consistent even if it doesn't actually do anything. I say we should keep the crown for the moment as the government seems less than stable.  David Icke thought the late Queen was a seven foot lizard although I don't really see what that would change.  Our paths never crossed so I couldn't say.

So, bearing in mind the amazing mess we seem to be in, who is in charge? I don't think we can blame it all on the king and I know it's supposed to be the rich, but I'm not sure. I’d say it was what we call shareholders. The rich, if a bit shy, are obvious enough but I think the ordinary shareholder should be regarded as the most dangerous, often ignorant and careless of their impact and temporally short sighted, they run the big corporations although they don't individually know it, and vaguely assume the board of directors obeys the directives. Rather like the owners of big dogs. Not so much bad as careless and short sighted. Nobody seems to take responsibility so the buck gets pushed upstairs until it reaches the 'emperor' or 'chairman' who then drops it back onto the population on the grounds that it's too complicated for a 'simple man who just wanted to grow roses'. Just like the Japanese emperor when the grounds for war in the Pacific was pointed out.  To be fair everybody else from the Normans to the Mormons do the same. So I guess it falls to those of us who don't know where our money / pension / savings are and what the algorithms are doing with it.

So where does the buck stop? (whatever that actually means).
    I think it comes down to expecting to make a profit on savings, so usury is the core to it, but can we expect the rich to restrict their own activity? Artificial intelligence could track money, but it would have to be able to apply sanctions. Certainly the humans seem inevitably compromised.

    We have some 'rulers' that are fair and some that are not. Until now they have been human, so risking it all on AI means if it goes wrong we may not be able to change our minds, that will be too late. 
So we should think carefully, especially where the 'weaponization' of autonomous devices is concerned. Will artificial intelligence be a better thing than our home grown natural stupidity?

 I know of many humans who wants power, it might be a basic animal drive to lead the pack, but they eventually fail in that they lose power because of their actions. Some cause the demise of their children and friends which they often describe as their greatest asset, so I deduce that first the 'rich and powerful' are often lacking in real, general intelligence. Second it seems that the ability to rule successfully is not hereditary, and despite many historical lessons human rulers have consistently reverted to tyranny, violence, oppression and genocide to maintain their status. 

So I'll take my chances with the robots, led by an hereditary but weakened King. That may seem a bit risky but bear in mind that in the 21st century we are still letting the poor starve, war machines develop and freedom wane.

There is a possible 3rd option where the robots ignore us and leave this  mess to us.

So back to here and now, or maybe next week when I'm feeling a bit perkier.

    Various projects loom. There's a spin-dryer, a replacement battery inverter which seems to be working, checking to see if the re-tiling in the rental bathroom worked (I've not heard otherwise) The reason the house is getting a new roof,is that the builders that put the last one on took idiocy to a whole new level so I'm hoping this next one will last a bit longer. The rental house sun-room (or porch as I call it). needs a bit more insulation The odd domestic repair and finishing the bigger newer trampoline. Hopefully the weather will cooperate.

Sadly Ash die-back has claimed a few more of the garden and woodland trees so there will be some log splitting to do and we’ll have to decide what to plant in their stead. 

Well, back to work. Momentarily delayed there because a charming and apparently well educated lady spent some 30 minutes of my life-span trying to sell me fine art investments over the phone. I always have trouble with the polite ones, but in the end they are going to a certain amount of trouble to present the offer. What is in it for them?
 At 8 this morning an oriental lady told me that there was something wrong with my Microsoft computer and when I explained that I didn’t have one, became quite abusive. It’s easier to tell them to push off, and since that was the phrase I used you can recognise that I was still being reasonably polite. Fiona has a better technique and just lets them chatter on into the silence until they give up and go away. I think I shall let the answer phone deal with the 8 o’ clock ones from now.

Mask wearing seems to be going out of fashion, I'm not convinced either way, so I'll continue on the basis that in crowds it's not likely to do any harm. I did the shopping on Thursday, (Fiona not feeling too well) I managed and wore a mask but noticed I was in the minority. Nobody suggested I shouldn't be wearing one. I was rather more inconvenienced by the shortage of fresh vegetables, and was only allowed 2 capiscum and a small cauliflower. There was a huge number of rather small bananas, not many potatoes and I forgot the courgettes. I blame Brexit.
    Speaking of irrational behaviour, praying to the sun looked like a good idea when we didn't know if it (he, she, they) was listening. Now we know better, although a bit of extra vitamin D is probably a good if unintentional side effect. So I guess they were right even if it was for the wrong reason.
    We have to work with the facts we know, and sometimes we are fed 'facts' that are found later to be not true. Most medicine was initially based on 'facts' that were not and we will probably find many of our current facts are still are wrong. We have to remember that scientific papers and their facts have a fairly short half life, and we should consider that when encountering every new fact, especially when there are vested interests. This is why I strongly support the rights of the individual to choose their own 'facts' if that choice doesn't harm anybody else. I may or may not continue to wear a mask depending on the situation as it doesn't harm anyone else. If for instance visitors to a given venue like a school or dentist are asked by the establishment to wear a mask then I shall. I have the option to not visit, and I know it isn't likely to harm me or others if I comply.

    B Johnson, idiot or criminal? I think in the end that idiocy shouldn't be punishable. Johnson should not therefore be punished for being an idiot. However I have no difficulty with the idea of punishing him for 'wilful carelessness'. A savage dog will be put down, it isn't because it is wicked or evil. It's because it is a danger to the innocent and must be removed from society, so I suggest we simply put him in prison and tell him it's a luxury hotel. If he works out that it is a prison then he isn't an idiot and the incarceration becomes a prison. If he doesn't work out that it's a prison then he is an idiot and the incarceration is just a public safety measure.

​On the matter of other famous personalities, although rather higher up the food chain, Scotland, sooner or later will have to decide whether to keep the royal family. There is a general feeling for both answers so here's my thought.

    In spite of my family history I'm not too bothered by the monarchy. I worry about what we'd do with all those damn great houses. I wouldn't want one and I certainly wouldn't want the job (king, pope, whatever). The advantage of having a 'Royal Family' or at least a few of them, is that the top seat is taken. With the royal bum in situ you keep power hungry 'wanna be' presidents out and the tourists in. If the 'elected head of state was Sir David Attenborough I'd be happy, but what if the yellow clown, or the orange one stood for the post when he died? I think the Canadians and the Australians have the answer. It doesn't cost much more than the maintenance of the buildings, keeps the horses busy and finds somebody for the front of the parade who has been trained from birth. (Granted there are a few iffy ones). It took us a long time to weaken the church, crown, army and barons to the point where they were restricted, and the public, including those that have deleted their rulers have always had a tendency to fold at the knee, so you end up with vacancies like Pope, Tzar, President, Pharaoh, Great Leader, Messiah, prophet, etc that are difficult to dislodge if they go bad. I'd rather have a small family line with deep roots who can't be bribed, cares about the environment, and who in the end has very little practical power. They have technically lots of money, but usually prefer horses to tanks. Now look at the various presidents. The royal family already has everything it wants, but can't abscond with it, won't risk civil war to maintain power and tends to dispose of the occasional weird one quietly.
And you can always take the top off any awkward ones. An important point, I think is that they rarely retire, but stay in post until death, so they can't slip out with a small mountain of cash for their retirement.

    Now as some may have heard, I am pro independence for Scotland (and Ukraine, Taiwan, Basque etc) in fact when I googled the concept the list was overwhelming. Most of the larger, and some of the smaller countries seem to be imprisoning sections of their population, especially if they are a different religion, colour or tribe to the majority. That's why I favour EU membership of some sort. Everybody wants to avoid being pushed around by bigger or stronger countries but we all have to cooperate, so what I actually support is a left of centre bloc, big enough to stand up to China, India, the US and what might be left of Russia and flexible enough to let individual people follow their own path, and permeable enough to let people find their own niche (or nitch or whatever)
​   So that's me done rambling for a while. I was interrupted by covid so there may be repetitions, deviations and hesitations.
Stay well

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