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Is this country crazy?

13 Mar

proxy.duckduckgo.comI can be a little slow sometimes, so let me try and understand where we are.

A couple of years back we voted – by the slenderest of majorities – to leave the European Union. Despite the fact that those who voted to leave represented a minority of all the people actually in the country, and certainly a minority of those affected by the decision, such was the process of democracy and accordingly, despite the fact that it was a gnat’s whisker of a result, the cry went up that ‘the people have spoken’ and so the process began to separate ourselves from the European Union. All the while forgetting – or ignoring – the fact that Great Britain helped create the European Union in the first place, and have been key in making it what it is. So we’re actually separating ourselves from what we created. Did we get it so badly wrong that we want to wash our hands of our own creation?

We also seem to have forgotten in all the rhetoric that it isn’t a case of ‘Europe vs the UK’. We ARE European. We might be on a tiny island off the mainland, but sheer geography means we are, actually and inescapably, in Europe.

In order to manage this feat of political chicanery, the government decided that they would select someone who apparently didn’t want this to happen to manage the process. This was necessary because the prime minister who had thought the whole idea up realised what a shit storm he was bringing on himself and resigned. However, the new prime minister went to work to try and work out the best possible way of implementing ‘the will of the people’ despite the fact that she didn’t want it to happen in the first place. In fact, the majority of the people who had been (democratically) elected to steer the country actually thought it was a bad idea too. But: ‘the will of the people’.

Polls seem to suggest that the majority for remaining in the EU is now three times as large as the original majority to leave was: perhaps something like 56% of voters now want to remain in the EU. Add to that the fact that, simply due to mortality rates amongst the older voters (who voted by a greater proportion to leave), the percentage voting to remain is likely to continue to rise as time goes on. YouGov produced a survey back in January which suggested that the margin for remaining in the European Union is now over 12% – 56% for remain, 44% to stay.

It rapidly became clear that most of the promises of the people who wanted us to leave were outright lies, and all manner of experts spoke up to voice their professional and considered opinion that, rather than being in a better position after leaving the EU, Britain would actually be worse off. Much worse off. It was likely that businesses would leave Britain for bases elsewhere in the EU. It was likely that trade would become more difficult. It was likely to lead to supply issues hurting the common man in the street. And it was likely that rather than being ‘free’ from the European Union, Britain was going to become a lone voice losing influence in the world but still subject to many of the constraints and limitations of being a small nation trading with larger ones.

As time has gone on, we have begun to see that much of what the experts have said is in fact correct. What’s more, it seems to me that it is likely to actually lead to the breakup of the United Kingdom: Scotland feel betrayed in their own referendum for independence, as one of the reasons for voting to remain in the UK was their continued membership of the EU. Northern Island feel betrayed because the simple solution to the border with the Republic is threatened, and we face a possible return to ‘The Troubles’.

What’s more, it is becoming apparent that those who voted to leave are actually expecting things to go on as they are, apart from those things they didn’t want, with no reflection of the fact that leaving the European Union has, well, implications. Which is reflected in the fact that no-one seems able to work out an arrangement on leaving that will not cripple the United Kingdom for years to come.

As the practical outcome of an exit from the European Union became clearer and clearer, more and more people have realised that perhaps they were over hasty with their vote to leave. So it seems now that ‘the will of the people’ has changed from being a majority for leaving to being a majority for staying. In particular, the young people who have the most to gain or lose are increasingly of the opinion that we should stay.

And our government can’t even come up with a proposal that is acceptable and workable.

But apparently ‘the will of the people’ cannot change because ‘that’s not democratic’. Apparently the government is afraid of riots should there be a decision to cancel the process. but are prepared for riots should there be food shortages. Apparently a democracy is not allowed to change its mind, although it is built into the law of this country that we must have a vote on the government of the country every four or five years, and that it is OK to change our minds as to who we want governing us.

Some of my friends are definitely in favour of an exit from the European Union. I respect their opinion, even if I feel that it is not the right answer for this country. A far greater number (as far as I can see) are certain that they want us to stay. Those with relationships and marriages and partnerships that cross national borders are 100 % certain that they want things to remain as they are. If I talk to those that I consider to be the great thinkers in my circle of friends, then with one or two exceptions, whose opinions I do honour, they want to stay part of this great European community. My sons – and let’s face it, they are going to have to live with this for far longer than I am – are absolutely seething with rage that this is being forced upon them.

So… the government knows it is on to a loser – that whatever they manage to negotiate with the EU, it will leave the country – and its people – worse off financially, with less freedom of movement and with less influence in the world. It may even lead to an upsurge in violence both in Northern Ireland and elsewhere in the UK.

The people are coming to the conclusion that they may indeed have collectively made a mistake now that they know the true reality of the situation and are gloomily looking forward to many years wandering in the wilderness. They are starting to recognise that the reason why the powerful and mighty want to leave Europe is because, free from EU control, it gives them a better chance of screwing over the average UK citizen. They are increasingly realising that they were lied to, deceived, misled and hoodwinked.

Businesses are looking at the uncertainty of the next few decades and deciding, in a world where location is flexible and globalisation is the trend, that they would rather be based somewhere – anywhere – else, without all the uncertainty and projected difficulties of trading in the UK.

And yet it seems no-one in government is prepared to face the simple truth: "This Is Stupid". When asked, even the proponents of a departure from the EU cannot point to a coherent set of benefits beyond ‘sovereignty’ and ‘making our own rules’. Neither of which are actually threatened by our membership of the EU. I’ve written repeatedly to my MP about this, and still receive nothing that resembles anything than a set of myths.

Meanwhile, the issues that face us are no longer national issues. They are no longer issues that can be dealt with in isolation. The issues that face us are not issues of profit and loss or even sovereignty. The increasingly important issues are whether or not humanity has a place on this planet. Whether we can return from the brink. Whether we can roll back from the increasing escalation of military might. Whether we can feed and clothe and provide healthcare for the citizens of the world. America seems to have staked its claim on ‘America First and screw the rest of you’. Britain seems to want to hide in a corner and sulk.

We have bigger things to worry about than this political spat. No, really, we have. We need to wake up, realise where we are and work together as a planet to solve some of these things. Global warming. World hunger. World peace. International crime. Racism and xenophobia. The rise of automation and AI. The increasing threat of technology to undermine our democracy, our financial systems, our infrastructure. And we in the UK are busy playing so damn small, when we used to be great at thinking big.

All of which causes me to ask a simple question: "WHAT THE FUCK ARE WE DOING?"

As far as I can see . .

– increasingly, the majority of the people don’t want it to happen

– with a few bloody minded exceptions, UK businesses don’t want it to happen

– global businesses definitely don’t want it to happen

– financial experts don’t want it to happen

– the majority of the government ministers don’t want it to happen

– our EU partners don’t want it to happen

– the rest of the world think it’s the stupidest thing we have ever done

– we are jeopardising the future of our country and our planet with this attitude of separation and thinly veiled xenophobia

– and we can’t even work out how to make it happen anyway.

So, again… why on earth are we continuing to pursue this suicidal path?

Lemmings don’t actually all follow each other over a cliff – that’s a myth. But it looks like we are going to do exactly that.

Let’s not be fucking stupid.

PS if you agree, then sign the petition here:


It’s OK to get it wrong

9 Jul


Politics is not my specialist subject. So. Let me try and get this straight.

The population of the UK are now on a bus hurtling down a road to uncertainty and chaos. Most of the people on the bus don’t want to go where they are going. The people who sold the ticket to their destination have now been proven to be liars, and the ticket price is continually escalating. The brochure shows that not only are the hotels not finished, but they are not even at the planning stage. Even the people who wrote the brochure now say that carrying on down the road is a big mistake. The people in charge of the bus don’t know where they are going, or have a clue how to drive the bus, and most of them didn’t want to go there anyway. Lots of the people in charge of the bus have got off and don’t want to have anything to do with the bus anymore. The destination for the bus is gloomy, desolate and lonely.

And no-one plans on turning the bus round?

Last year, a squeaky margin of British people voted to leave the European Union, against all the advice of the sensible expertise on the planet.

Since then it has been revealed that we were sold a lie. There is no £350 million a week for the NHS and in fact leaving the EU will mean that even less is available for public services. Leaving the EU will not leave us with more money, but less. Trade will be harder, not easier. We weren’t being regulated into hardship, but helped into increased freedom and well being.

It is clear that there is no prospect of a straightforward exit from the European Union, and that leaving the club will lead to huge and permanent consequences for us as a nation, for us as individuals, as businesses and as a society.

And it looks like the only people to possibly profit from departure from the EU are (guess who) those who are already wealthy and in power.

We can see the possibility of erosion of individual rights and liberties that we fought long and hard to secure.

Even the most generous predictions show that leaving the EU will cost this country and its people many billions, and result in a state of chaos that will take decades to recover from – if we ever do.

Our government are busy negotiating a future for us that results in the citizens of this country being worse off, and no ‘freer’ – that sets aside decades of progress. Is this what we want our government to do for us? Is this what a government should be planning?

If we went to the polls today, would we see the same result? Absolutely not. A significant number who voted to Leave now see how shortsighted a decision that was – and that they were not voting against the EU at all, but rather against the state of politics in this country. A significant number who didn’t vote – particularly the young – have now found their voice and are determined to make sure that we stay in the EU. We have seen that the route we have taken is not likely to end in economic prosperity, in increased freedom or in a better quality of life. Quite the reverse.

So why are we gambling the future of this country on something that even a straw poll of voters would show isn’t the future that we want. In Parliament, the majority know that they face a brutal future and a thankless task.

It’s OK to admit that we made a mistake.

It’s OK for the leadership of the governing political party to admit that the referendum was a mistake, and that continuing down the road that led us on is economic and social suicide.

It’s OK to admit that we don’t have a plan – not even the concept of a plan.

It’s OK to admit that we were naïve, lacking in foresight.

It’s OK to admit that we made mistakes before, during and after the referendum vote.

That’s not called ‘failing’. That’s called ‘learning’. And if this country has learned from its mistakes in the last year, then it will have been worth it. If this nation has realised that it is better for all to stand together rather than apart, then it will have been worth it.

Are we mature enough as a country, as a nation, as a government, as individuals, as political leaders, to admit that we were wrong? That we can recognise where we made mistakes, and then act to get it right in future?

There still seems to be a glimmer of light that shows there is a way back from the edge of madness.

So who is going to help turn the bus around?


Find out more at

PS Lord knows I’ve got it wrong more times than I can count. Just ask my two sons. Or anyone that’s close to me. But hopefully I have learned enough and become secure enough to admit that I was wrong. Goofed. Screwed up. And hopefully I’ve tried to fix what I failed to get right first time round.

Maybe our government could try that?

Only for geniuses

13 Dec

An algebra lesson from Timmy. Because I love you. And I want to stay your friend.

2016 has been a year of shocks and surprises, and I for one will be glad to see it over. I am hoping and praying that one trend will disappear next year – the horseshoe/burger/beer mathematics puzzle. Because every time I see one of these I am drawn to look at it and dismayed to find out… you’re still damn well getting it wrong!

Now, first off.

If you title your post "only for genius’s" then I will find you. I will hunt you down. And I will take away your apostrophe key until you can use it properly.

There. That’s that out of the way.


I hear a lot of people complain that they never use the algebra they were taught at school. This is very clear, looking at the answers we’re getting…but in fact you are using algebra, and you’re doing it in your head. Go you!

(Now, a caveat. I am not a mathematician. I have however got a degree in physics and electronics, including semiconductor physics, nuclear physics and particle theory. I have therefore done more algebra and arithmetic than you can shake an abacus at.)

If you apply the mathematical rules correctly, you will always arrive at one consistent answer. This answer will, in fact, be wrong. But we will look at that in a minute. Let’s try and find the answer you’re ‘supposed’ to get if you are a ‘genius’.

These puzzles always seem to take a similar form.

Line One:

Line one is something like

horse + horse + horse = 30.

This is like writing [a+a+a=x] or [3a=x]. Or [a=x/3]. Where x=30. So a=30/3. Which we all manage to solve to get ‘horse’ = 10.

So far so good. Your algebra is working. Awesome!

Line Two:

The next line is probably something like

horse + horseshoes + horseshoes = 18

This is writing [a + b + b = y], or [a+2b=y], where y=18 and a = 10 (from line one)

So [2b=y-a], so [b=(y-a) / 2] , or [b=(18-10)/2]

Which would make ‘horseshoes’ = 4

So far so good. Your algebra is holding up nicely, even if you’re actually solving this in your head. It’s still algebra.

Line three

Same again. Something like

Horseshoes – boots = 2

We used b to represent the horseshoes, and a to represent the horse. If c represents the boots then…

[b-c=z], or [c=z-b] – which for us is [4-c=2], which makes c (boots, remember) = 2

You probably did that in your head too..

Line four

This is where it all goes to hell in a handbasket. There are two little tricks in here that mean you’ll probably get it wrong. Line four is something like

Boot + Horse x horseshoe = ?

Trick one. The first thing you might miss is that there’s only one boot, and only one horseshoe. So when boots=2, boot (singular) must be 1. If horseshoes = 4, then horseshoe (singular) must be 2.

So that line becomes

1 + 10 x 2 = ?

Trick two. Now, the evil blighters want you to forget that you don’t do arithmetic from left to right. There’s a reason for this, and we will talk about it in a minute.

There’s an order to do these in. First off deal with the brackets. There aren’t any here.. and we’ll talk about that in a minute too.

Then do the division and the multiplication from left to right.

So that’s 10 x 2 = 20.

Now do the addition and subtraction from left to right.

So that’s 1+20=21.

Always. The absolute values may vary from puzzle to puzzle, and the horses might get replaced by hamburgers, but the rules are still the same.


Horse = 10
Horseshoe pair = 4
Boot pair = 2
=> Horseshoe =2
=> Boot = 1
1 + 10 × 2 = 21
(Calculated as 1 = (10 x 2) because you have to do things in the right order according to the rules of arithmetic.)

Now. Here’s the thing. If you were a REAL genius you’d have remembered that mathematics is a way of representing the real world in numbers and symbols. Which is why the rules exist and you do multiplication first.

And real geniuses want to make sure that there’s no room for getting things wrong, so we throw brackets in like there’s a sale at the bracket store.

So, in the real world, this puzzle might at the end mean

"Multiply the number of horseshoes per horse by the number of horses and you’ll get the number of horseshoes to buy…

Then add on the number of boots to buy and you’ll have the total number of things to bring home from the chandlery. "

We obviously have a large number of two legged horses and a peg legged cowboy, but who cares.

What you can’t meaningfully do is add the number of boots and the number of horses and multiply by a number of horseshoes. That’s craziness, unless you are in the habit of putting horseshoes on your boots.

AND… we’ve assumed that a picture of two horseshoes is equal to twice as many as a picture of one horseshoe. But that’s only an assumption. In reality we worked out what the value of the symbol ‘horseshoes’ meant but not what the symbol ‘horseshoe’ meant. It might be different. (While a ‘W’ looks like two ‘V’s together, it’s a different symbol, remember. This is no different)

So the only real and true answer to these puzzles is ‘it’s meaningless’ until we know what things represent and what the symbols mean. If they mean anything.

Can we stop posting these now? Please?

I surrender

18 Mar

surrenderOK, I’ve taken a great and momentous decision. From now on I will NOT be commenting on anyone who reposts stupid stuff on line without researching it first. When I was younger we used to have to spend hours in something called a ‘library’ to check whether something was true or not. Nowadays it’s simple to check on Google.

Now, you’ll notice a parallel with an earlier announcement that said that I’m going to ignore grammatical disasters and misplaced apostrophes. While it will still make me twitch, you’re on your own, grammar wise.

Yet, as someone who used to run big email and networking services, it irks me to see so much crap filling up my newsfeed and going everywhere and back again when there’s so much really great stuff that I DO want to see. I want to hear people’s news. I want to be inspired. I want to laugh. There’s some amazing stuff out there.

What I don’t want to be is to be buried under posts that have their origin in fear. ‘Your food isn’t what you think’ (OK the horsemeat issue was true – but I feel sorrier for the pork found in halal meat, to be honest). ‘There are scarier critters out there than science ever guessed’. ‘Facebook is trying to steal your data.’

But, honestly, I haven’t got time any more to write back to everyone that reposts stupid things without checking. I want to spend more of my time creating great stuff, writing blog posts, recording programmes and sharing some of the awesome things that are going on in the world. And dancing. And keeping fit. And having fun. And spending time with my friends. And falling in love. And splashing in puddles. And creating wealth. And listening to my heart and its resonance with the Universe. And being happy.

So here’s some things you’re going to have to work out for yourselves….

1) Anything that asks you to do something complicated for someone else to protect their privacy. Just bonkers. Privacy is actually pretty simple. Contrary to popular opinion, Facebook are not stupid and they do have controls in place to protect your privacy. Set it to ‘Friends Only’. Simples.

2) Photographs of ridiculously sized animals are probably fake. This includes very big spiders/snakes/creepy crawlies. Just think whether these things would actually function under Earth gravity. The same goes for pictures of very small animals. If it looks like a normal sized cat made very small by Photoshop, it probably is.

3) Crazy offers for stuff from web pages that have only existed for two days yet promise to give away hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of kit are almost certainly false. (If you just tell them what colour you want. Oh, and fill in a ridiculous questionnaire to give away your personal data so they can spam you or steal your identity.)

4) Ridiculous claims about margarine/ onions/ chicken nuggets are actually patently untrue – if we just checked.

5) Denzel Washington/ Lady Gaga/ Jon Bon Jovi are not dead. Just check before writing that tearful obituary…

6) Posts claiming that Facebook/Microsoft/IBM/Amazon/The Red Cross will donate money if you like a post are complete tosh. That heartwrenching photo of some poorly child got used without their permission… so don’t perpetuate the misery.

7) Did you see what she did in public? video clips really ARE there to steal your data.

8) Pictures that ask you to like them or comment to ‘see what happens’ will, in fact, shock and stun you by REMAINING EXACTLY THE SAME.

9) Comments that this month is special because of the number of Mondays/Fridays/ Saturdays and won’t occur for another 823 years can be easily debunked by consulting a calendar.. where you will (surprise surprise) find that they occur every couple of months.

While I’m here, and I don’t see why I shouldn’t loop off on a tangent, I’m also personally irritated by ‘share to win’ offers that clutter up my newsfeed. I want to see interesting stuff, not find out that someone wants to win an ipod/corset/holiday. Do we really want to do people’s marketing for them? I don’t want to see these and I bet you don’t either. Give me some stuff that’s interesting.

Heretical moment: I also get a bit frustrated with the constant petitions for Starbucks/Amazon/Tesco/ whoever to give some of their money back in taxes because they are paying it somewhere else. We should complain to a government who allows this sort of tax loophole, not try and shame companies who are trying to make a profit and keep people in jobs – and, believe it or not – actually trying to follow the rules and then wake up to find the world has turned against them because they (shock horror) tried to maximise their profit. Because – and be honest now – if you could save tax by doing it… you’d do it too. OK, rant off.

Oh. And posts that trade on other people’s misery. Just cause they are in a video doesn’t mean they’re not real people with real feelings… just cause they’re overweight or lack ‘normal’ dress sense doesn’t mean we can just photograph them in Walmart and laugh? Does it?

So here’s a couple of sites that you’ll need, in my absence.





Do what I do. Assume it’s crap first and then challenge the internet to prove me wrong. Especially if it sounds as if it’s based on fear. If you’re going to repost it, for heaven’s sake check it out first. Surely?

So what DO I want to see? Well, if we can get rid of all that junk then I have loads of time for you to tell me what you had for breakfast or the fact that you’ve just had coffee. Really. Make it funny and I actually AM interested!

But especially send me

1) Pictures of cats doing funny things. Big cats or small cats, I don’t really mind. Or dogs. Or monkeys. I’m not speciesist.

2) Heartwarming stuff. Photos that make my heart sing.

3) Inspirational stuff. Videos that make me think. Quotes that make me ponder a bit. Stuff that interrupts my thought patterns. Beautiful pictures of amazing places.

4) News. I like to know what you’re doing, if you think it’s important enough to want to share it with me.

5) Interesting ‘oh my god that’s amazing’ stuff. Clever ideas. Science that takes my breath away.

6) Things that make me laugh. Or cry. Or both at once.

7) Witty pictures involving coffee. Or cake. Or both.

I’ll look forward to seeing your good stuff. The rest.. well, just think before you post it. Check before you post it. Please!

And let’s use this amazing, incredible technology to spread a little love and happiness.


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