Category Archives: Horse racing

Trying to make phone calls on my calculator

Not the Casio calculator I was so proud to get for my 10th birthday you understand – that is long since lost – but mistakenly trying to call someone using the calculator function on my     smart phone…

Is my phone smarter than me?  Not yet, as I am the one that has to eventually notice my error.  You’d think that any self-respecting phone of today could figure that what I really want to do is call someone…

What’s more worrying, however, is that it is an error I have made more than once.


That preamble is because I am still thinking about the role time plays in the human experience.  Is it a concept, an experience, a reality, or (as I suspect) just a bunch of numbers that do not help us to understand our subjective experience any better at all?


Is this a mid-life crisis?




Totting up and tottering by

No-one in my particular echo chamber has much good to say about 2016.

Glad to see the back of it seems to the general sentiment.

It being a number, two thousand and sixteen, this one-off number that we humans have chosen to overarch this particular span of time, a stretch we like to call a year.

I’m not sure how I feel about this.

Gonna sleep on it.


An Economic Nightmare: Keynesian Growth v Hayekian Austerity

I wrote this post 5 years ago. It’s a long post, but I think it was prescient. In it I demanded radical responses to the problems created by the failed capitalist model and the binary thinking of economists. Since then we’ve had some new thinking, but the responses of electorates have been to make sure the ‘selfish’ element of our experience is allowed to take precedence.

By the closing paragraph of this, the rise of the right and Donald Trump looks, if not inevitable, then less surprising at least.

On wishes and horses

I am no economist, as the state of my bank deficit can testify, nonetheless I have taken some time to try and understand what the hell has gone on with the global economy in the last few years. I lived through the boom and bust of the late 1980s and early 90s and my experience with credit then, gave me a good grounding in how fragile life becomes when we live on a play now, pay tomorrow basis.

On the other hand I still live in a Western capitalist economy, some people live without debt, but they are probably the minority. I learned from the 1980s but I could not entirely mend my ways. I did learn one thing though. Don’t buy a buy now, pay later sofa – that’s just stupid.

And that’s where Friedrich August Hayek comes in. His economic theory can be loosely applied to DFS, MFI…

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Why we should talk more about mental health in farming

This article is all about mental health in the farming community. Please help in breaking the stigma by tweeting in support of farmers who suffer from mental health, using the hashtag #FarmerMental…

Source: Why we should talk more about mental health in farming

So Trump

So Brexit

So Democracy

So America

So Britain

So…  I could go on.

It’s a new grammatical unconvention isn’t it, to start a sentence with so.  Your purist grammarian would be all up in arms about it, but I reckon, after a week that delivered the world the Donald as President-Elect for the not-so United States of America on a harried shallow in breath, and released Leonard Cohen on the exhale, it will stand.

On June 24th 2016 my brain had to do some heavy cognitive lifting, and quick, to rearrange some neural networks so all this shifting had a place to go.  The world as I thought I knew it had altered radically.  In my mind, Britain was a beacon of multiculturalism and tolerance, compassion and solidarity with people in need.  I was wrong.  Britain had ignored the needs of too many citizens outside the metropoleis for too long.  Beyond our mixed and multicultural cities, people felt ignored, left behind, slighted even.  Despite efforts (I will not write best) the political party (Labour) that purported to represent their views was not just part of the disconnect, it had driven some of it along over the years.

The internet, the media: you find the same disconnect between various realities, but also increased identification and connection with people like you.  These days, if you hold a view, it is not hard to find someone, somewhere who will reinforce it.  If you should happen upon someone or something that might challenge your feelings about how your part of the world is going along, the easiest thing to do is simply click away.  Quickly.  Thus we have the world divided, as was described this week into red feed / blue feed.  Thus we have a world where an appeal to the facts of the matter simply bounce off a set of existing feelings and beliefs like hailstones on a tin roof.  We have, my friends, arrived at the Post-Truth staging post.

So Trump.  So Trump can say whatever he likes; whatever he likes about African Americans, whatever he likes about women, whatever he likes about Mexicans, whatever he likes about Hillary Clinton, or Obama.  He can say whatever hateful things he likes because the people who voted for him say* they aren’t motivated by any of those things – they are interested in his main, simplistic, nostalgic and essentially undeliverable election slogan:


It’s the same ploy the Brexiteers used in Britain to good effect:


Both campaigns were notable for their policy vacuum, and real-world strategies to deliver meaningless soundbytes (beyond the immediate appeal to the emotions).  Sufficient numbers of both British and US electorates liked not just the sound of the slogans, but the feel of them too.  The overt racism, sexism, divisiveness?  Well, that just wasn’t the line in the sand those of us who study history and have hope for the future of the planet and humankind hoped it would have been.

The hurt this experience engenders in the ‘losing’ side has been likened to a bereavement.  The population that voted to Remain, or for Hillary, instead wake up to a country that is not what they thought, or hoped it was.  First we find someone to blame: those who voted for Trump or to Leave, those who did not vote at all.  We look at the numbers.  Hillary won on the popular vote; Brexit was not voted for by the majority of the nations that make up the United Kingdom.  Those facts comfort somewhat yet highlight that the system is messy, inconclusive.  In the UK, the question was wrong.  In the US, the candidate was wrong, the electoral college is an anachronism.  Those on the ‘losing’ side are told not to frustrate the will of the people.  Those in power like to quote that a lot.  We end up in the ridiculous situation where the will of a minority of the people is treated like holy writ and the law of the land is berated for being as it is, not as this group of people want to be.

With victory in the back pocket of the rich (posturing to care about the poor) the facts of the matter, the rule of law, the mechanics of the thing are mere inconvenience.  Post-truth, post-fact, we and they simply change the channel.


I fear backwards.  I hope I am wrong.

I hope that these swings to the right, that seem destined to continue to play out across Europe in the coming year, are simply the sting in the tail of the death throes of the 20th century.  That they are the last chance saloon of angry white people who whilst still in the majority feel they are not, and also feel that their rights are somehow more than their fellow beings due to accidents of birth.

The alternative is ugly and dangerous and it’s already here.

So Trump.

*I’m afraid I don’t believe them




A few weekends ago I realised that although I have spent much of the year writing and writing, it has been all the wrong kind of writing.

I thought I might have gotten away with it though: day after day, tapping away, all wrong.

Just this once, I thought, I would be earning enough to make giving up my days to the wrongness right.

It was a fallacy of thinking.  I am what I am.  My writing is not simply a knowledge product.  It is what I think, and what I do.  If the writing is too much wrong, too often, then so is the thinking and so becomes the doing, in the end.  As I said: I am what I am.  And I must make the time to do that righter than wronger.

Which makes me feel a bit like a cross between Winnie the Pooh (existential bear philosopher) and Russell Ackoff (organizational theorist and systems god).

But that’s good.

Life in Snarly Corners

I do not like a corner.  I find myself in them, often.

A Snarly Corner life is that back against the wall, stomach-churning sensation that suddenly comes upon one, without forewarning.

The way out of such Snarly Corners is present but somehow not a route easily, or obviously taken.  The thing is to not worry about that, the route that is; not to worry if it is scenic, or direct.    The thing is to get moving.

Get moving and think about it later.  After all, reflecting on action is probably less cognitively demanding than reflecting in action when there is no-one else to reason with except oneself and the Snarly Corner.

So that’s my advice.  Take a step out into the wide yonder and think  about it all another time.

Alternatively, live in a round house.

I am considering that.

Brexit and consequences…

Paul Bernal's Blog

Yesterday morning I tweeted about Brexit (as I’ve done a fair number of times), and it went just a little bit viral. Here’s the tweet:


It was an off-the-cuff Tweet, and I had no idea that people would RT it so much, nor that it would provoke quite as many reactions as it has. I’ve replied to a few, but, frankly, it’s not possible to reply to all. The responses, however, have been quite revealing in many ways. As usual, people read Tweets in different ways, and of course this particular Tweet is far from unambiguous. I was asked many times what is the ‘this’ that I’m saying is the fault of the ‘Brexit people’. And who I meant by ‘Brexit people’. I was told I was wrong to lump all Brexit people together. And that we should be looking for unity, not stoking the fires of division.

Some thought…

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Game of Thrones star launches brilliant new Estuary festival


“The sea-reach of the Thames stretched before us like the beginning of an interminable waterway. In the offing the sea and the sky were welded together without a joint, and in the luminous space the tanned sails of the barges drifting up with the tide seemed to stand still in red clusters of canvas sharply peaked, with gleams of varnished spirits…”

dillane-5294 Stephen Dillane reads from Heart Of Darkness

The inaugural Estuary festival was launched in dramatic style at Tilbury Cruise Terminal last night as Game Of Thrones actor Stephen Dillane read the opening scenes of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness to a hushed audience.

It heralded the beginning of three weeks of brilliant literature, art, music, film and performance inspired by the Thames Estuary that have been organised by cultural organisation Metal, based at Chalkwell Park, in what will be a biennial event.

Starting this weekend (September 16-17) are the…

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A somewhat reluctant political post

Oh how the arguments have raged within the Labour Party for over a year now.

Last summer I vocalised my support for Jeremy Corbyn round an enormous dinner table, with rather high stools, in the middle of Wallonia, Belgium.  I had been drawn on the topic, evidently, as I do not discuss politics at the dinner table, if I can help it.

The argument raged across the empty plates and dirty cutlery and quietly people slipped away from the table.  I don’t blame them; my support for Corbyn has always come with caveats, the primary one being until there is someone better.  Better how, I could not quite articulate last summer, other than to say that I had worked in his constituency in the 1990s and I recall some of his positions in those days made me uneasy.

Now, after nearly a full year, I do have a clearer picture of what better might entail.  The ability to get the PLP functioning might be a place to start.  Another might be to get off the back foot with the media all the damn time.  Or to find more than the inner circle (McDonnell & Abbott) to get on message in the media – this last point leads me to the first and second points again which rather go to somewhat illustrate the problem of the last year.

However all this does not automatically translate into a vote for Mr Owen Smith.  In fact, I look at those good people, who probably know far more than I, who support him and urge others to do the same, and wonder why they think we can turn the clock back a year and pick up where we left off, which was basically a thumping by UKIP  that let the Tories in.

Labour is, to my mind, too far down the road now in terms of the division over a shift to the left.  The cracks cannot be papered over with Owen Smith, or indeed anyone better than Corbyn.  We are on the road we are on, and, rather like Brexit, we must make the best of it. As things stand, no-one who knows anything thinks that Labour are likely to win a general election in 2020 or anytime before that point with Corbyn in charge.  Funnily enough, I never thought that he would last summer either – what I thought back then was that something interesting was going on: a recalibration of the party, something I wanted to see.

So those who know more than me, gnash their teeth about getting into power to turn back the Tory tide, and I look at that argument and think it’s a right one.  Then I look at the Party I am a member of and think – really?  If Labour cannot move left a little without eating itself from the tail up, it does not bode well for being a party of government any time soon.  Britain, England particularly, is a conservative country with a small c.  Socialism is a risky business as far as the electorate are concerned.

The best hope for Labour is that the Lib Dems resurge somewhat and that a left of centre alliance can be formed with the Greens and the SNP, but I don’t even see that, not really.  It’s almost like the country like to be purged on a regular and prolonged basis by the Tories.  Perhaps it’s ingrained in the class system, perhaps it’s an epigenetic inheritance from Puritan times.  Who knows.

I haven’t voted in the Labour leadership election yet.  Maybe I won’t. I can’t vote for Smith because he wants to openly learn on the job and I may not be able to vote for Corbyn because he is somewhat worse than I thought.  Maybe next summer (when the leadership election has become the annual summer event) someone who really is a bit better than Corbyn will come along.