with a sting in the tail

Photo about Concept of bureaucracy with man paddling in a sea of sheets. Image of overworked, heap, difficult
Photo about Concept of bureaucracy with man paddling in a sea of sheets. Image of overworked, heap, difficult
https://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-navigate-bureaucracy-concept-man-paddling-sea-sheets-image79139583 by Alphaspirit

It was always going to be a difficult negotiation. Leaving a club you have been a member of for 50 years. You still want access to the benefits of club membership, but you want to set your own rules and not pay any membership fees.

The United Kingdom(UK) have now left the European Union(EU) and have negotiated a trade deal, one which has had mixed reactions. I’ll try to summarise the main points here. For those who are interested, the full 1255 page document is available here.

Generally, the three main aims of the negotiations have been achieved; these are retention of sovereignty, trading with the European Union tariff and quota free and National Security. …


Where is King Solomon when you need him?

couple-s-hand-divorce-agreement-hands-wife-husband-divorce-document-wedding-ring-ce
couple-s-hand-divorce-agreement-hands-wife-husband-divorce-document-wedding-ring-ce
Andrey Popov www.dreamstime.com

December 2020 looks like being the year the UK left the European Union(EU) without any trade deal whatsoever. The EU referendum took place in 2016, four years ago. Now with only weeks to go before the UK is finally out of the EU, we don’t know whether we are trading with them or not, or on what basis.

Gerard Batten, a former leader of the United Kingdom Independence Party(UKIP) thought that in February 2017, trade relations with the EU could be sorted out in an afternoon over a cup of tea. They would have needed a cup of tea as big as the North Sea. Were these politicians naïve; we are English so they will do as we say. …


Flying solo they will need to be

The Union Jack minus the Scottish Saltire gives an unknown flag
The Union Jack minus the Scottish Saltire gives an unknown flag

Scottish independence has always been at the forefront of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and in recent years it has campaigned to become an independent state within the European Union (EU). An independence referendum in 2014 produced a narrow-margin defeat for independence; 55% voting no, 45% voting yes.

With the implementation of Brexit, this has awakened the independence debate. …


Rust, restore and repeat

Iron Fuel Cycle
Iron Fuel Cycle
The iron fuel cycle used to generate C02-free energy

The Swinkel Family Brewers of the Netherlands, in conjunction with the Metal Power consortium are using an innovative way of burning iron powder as fuel. If you grind iron powder very fine, much like flour, it burns very easily at high temperatures (1800° C, 3272° F). This produces a tremendous amount of energy which can then be used to drive steam turbines and produce electricity. The process is carbon dioxide free and the only waste product is iron oxide or rust. This can easily be converted back into iron powder using what they call reduction by using a sustainably produced source of hydrogen ie; generated via solar or wind power. …


Can I have some more?

A child asking for something
A child asking for something
Photo 147398103 © Mikhail Bulanov Dreamstime.com

A row has erupted in the UK over the provision of free school meals during the school holidays. This service was provided during the summer holidays to help parents who were self isolating and unable to work. The service, admittedly, was administered under pressure from Marcus Rashford, a premier league football player for Manchester United, after the government initially refused to do it.

Marcus Rashford is now pressurizing the government to extend the scheme until at least Easter 2021. The government have refused, not purely on cost but fear it would increase state dependency.

The cost, compared to other expenditure, would be very modest, about £20 million ($26 million). Compare this with the government’s ‘eat out to help out’ scheme which has estimated to have cost £500 million ($645 million). This scheme subsidized people visiting restaurants and other eat-out food outlets to the tune of half price or £10.00 ($13)per meal. Under normal circumstances, schools are allocated to spend £2.30 ($3) for each free school meal. During the summer holidays a voucher scheme was used and parents were given £15.00 ($19) per child to use in supermarkets to buy food. …


Disguise may be your best option

A crowd of people standing in a searchlight
A crowd of people standing in a searchlight
www.dreamstime.com/goodstudiominsk_info" itemprop=”author”>Ernest Akayeu

Let’s assume that you are window shopping and you stop at the camera shop and look at a particular camera. Interesting, you think and you move on. How would you feel if every shop you passed by, somebody sprang out from the doorway, waving a picture of that self same camera and advising you that you had only 24 hours to buy at this ridiculously low price. Intimidating, to say the least, but completely reflects the on-line experience, especially with Amazon.

It’s called surveillance and is looking for a way of getting you to spend. …


Are Care Homes a necessary evil?

Elderly couple in their room
Elderly couple in their room
Photo by Elien Dumon on Unsplash

The United Kingdom (UK) has had legislation implicit in the Equality Act against age discrimination since 2010. Sadly COVID-19 completely ignored this and wrought devastation in our ageing population. Care Homes were particularly vulnerable; 30 per cent of the deaths in Care Homes between March and June 2020 were caused by COVID-19.

By their very nature, Care Homes care for elderly people and these have been found to be particularly vulnerable to COVID-19. Social distancing would have been difficult and carers working in these homes were generally inadequately supplied with personal protective equipment (PPE). Would as many of these elderly people died had they been self-isolating at home, being cared for by their families? This is when the conversation gets awkward. Your mother gave birth to you, your parents raised and cared for you and made sacrifices for you. They were always there when you needed them. …


According to the UK anyway.

Newspaper heading — Get ready for Brexit
Newspaper heading — Get ready for Brexit

The United Kingdom(UK) government signed a withdrawal agreement with the European Union(EU) in January 2020. The UK has now introduced legislation to overule parts of that agreement, specifically the parts relating to the island of Ireland. Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland (Eire) is part of the EU. In order to understand the significance of this here is a brief history of Irish partition.

In 1921, the British parliament officially divided Ireland into north and south. The intention was that both sides should remain in the United Kingdom but following the Irish war of independence, the south in 1922 became a separate country. The reason for the separation, which still exist today is a concentration of Irish unionists in the north and the nationalists to the south. The nationalists wanted independence, the unionists want to stay with the UK. …


Why society needs to rethink and reset its priorities.

Father and daughter
Father and daughter
Photo by Humphrey Muleba on Unsplash

Every morning thousands of parents hand their preschool children over to childminders, nurseries and preschool establishments, then go off to work, ironically in a lot of cases, to help pay for childcare. 50 years ago a family could be raised comfortably on one decent wage.

There’s no denying that nowadays both parents need to work to pay the bills. Why? Is it because they need a bigger house, a better house, own a house, a car each, private education, cultural holidays abroad (how many people know the history of the Acropolis in Greece but not of their local medieval town hall) or rising energy bills, commuter costs, rising rents, or financial charges. …


Academic or vocational?

Passion led us here, Educational quotation
Passion led us here, Educational quotation
Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

Students in the UK have just received their A level results(USA High School Diploma). These results will govern whether or not they go to university, or the university of their choice. Because of COVID-19, no exams were sat and the results were based on the assessments of their teachers and their mock exam results. Initially the assessments were then fed into a computer algorithm and their grades were based on the school’s previous exam results record. This was also supposed to eliminate as far as possible any teacher bias. 39% of the teacher-assessed grades were downgraded by at least one grade by the algorithm. …

About

Gary Neal

Retired taxi driver, creative writer, experimental poet, computer enthusiast, web design and learning to program

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