2,862 comments posted · 236 followers · following 5

5 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Interview: Goodhart sa... · 0 replies · +1 points

I agree, but up to a point. On one hand, STEM degrees (I have one myself, in Physics, but I have worked all my life as an Engineer) are rigorous, but some of them suffer from two faults: the lack of appreciation of context, inclusing social context, which is critical in engineering if you want to make products that not just work but also sell. The other fault is that the qualitative aspects of a problem are often neglected to concentrate only on what can be measured. That i also a problem with contemporary politics - concentrating too much on targets, for example. New Labour governments did that quite a bit.

On the other hand, *some* humanities degrees are anything but soft. Languages, for example, if they require understanding the culture which is the basis for a foreign language. Diplomats and businessmen can benefit from that, if done well - and languages are definitely NOT easy. History is another example: understanding the past is difficult, it requires getting the culture, the economics, the literature, the language, so many things which we can now only glimpse through documents and artifacts. Hardly easy - and again, I think useful, especially for politicians. Ignorance off the history of ne's own country isn't conducive to good policies.

5 days ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Interview: Goodhart sa... · 0 replies · +1 points

It is like asking a man if he is a feminist. Meaning what? One has to be specific - are you in favour of this or that policy or bill, of this or that *spcific* development? The word on its own is fluff or, worse, is a way of signalling the belonging to a tribe. Worse than useless.

1 week ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Sweden. Once the outli... · 0 replies · +1 points

Thanks for your comment. I don't follow the BBC much, their notion of balance is becoming increasingly strange from what I see on the web. The press coverage of the Swedish experience has been at times mendacious (in the Italian press), tendentious (in the British press, or some of it), or plainly stereotypical. I am lucky to have a good friend in Stockholm who, although a bit biased as after all most of us are, gives me a good idea of what actually happens, as opposed to what people think should happen. So far, their second wave seems more or less under control, unlike here.

1 week ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Sweden. Once the outli... · 0 replies · +1 points

Thanks. I have friends living in Sweden, and it was interesting to contrast their views with those in the press... with the Italian press being particularly bad. Let's hope that this surge can be controlled... it doesn't look good. I hope it isn't too bad where you are; here, so far, not too bad - fingers very crossed.

1 week ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Germany enters a criti... · 0 replies · +1 points

I am in Seville too and it isn't clear to me why we have much fewer infections. The warm weather, allowing people to socialise outdoors, may be part of the reason - but some municipalities in the province are not doing so well.

1 week ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Sweden. Once the outli... · 7 replies · +1 points

Lessons from othr countries are always useful; however, it is unwise to isolate a single elemnt of what a country does from the cultural, economic and political context. It is said that one of the components of the relative success of Sweden's approach is that its society is more consensual and that public authorities, including health authorities, are trusted more. In the case of Germany, its flexibl, fragmented and non monolithic health care system has also been praised. What is notalways stressed is that these factors have taken decades and decades to develop, and cannot be transferred easily from one country to another. Another thing that is not mentioned so often are the resources available - for example, in the case of Germany, the number of ICU beds per head. Some parts of the German health system, it is said, have been largely idle over the last twenty years or so - this would have been regarded as wasteful in the UK. I could go on - but before learning a specific lesson from any country, we should consider that country as a whle, society, economy, taxation, welfare system and, not least, culture.

1 week ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Sweden. Once the outli... · 0 replies · +1 points

Very good points. Leaning from other countries' experiences will help. And the local factors influencing the strength of local outbreaks are still far from clear, besides the now acknowledged difference between outdoors and indoors, everything else being equal.

2 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - WATCH: Jenrick claims ... · 0 replies · +1 points

My reaction to the Barrington declaration is mixed. It states some non controversial things, but I think it has two weak points: it underestimates the difficulty of identifying and protecting the vulnerable; and it assumes that those who have been infected have some kind of immunity.

Of course, it is not up to scientists to suggest how in practice could vulnerable people be identified and shielded: this is the job of politicians and health administrators and practitioners working together. However, since the declaration is against certain policies on practical grounds, it should have addressed the alternative on similarly practical grounds.

As regards immunity, on one hand, we have no evidence that people who have caught the virus have immunity, andif so how long it lasts; in this respect, the declaration is too cavalier in not even addressing this point.

However, I think that Gupta's long-held opinion that rather more people have caught the virus than most scientists think has some merit. An increasing number of scientists believe that the virus was circulating in the West in November, and possibly as early as October. If this is right, and the virus has not mutated at some point in January by becoming more contagious, it is very likely that more people caught it without showing any symptoms. Since antibodies die down after a few months, there is no way to test this assumption unless the presence of specific T cells can be linked to this specific coronavirus. Gupta's suggestion, in this respect, cannot be tested direcly; but if the virus can be shown to have been present in October or November, that would, I think, give some support to her views.

Anecdotal evidence has very little value; however, I should add (partly to explain my rather cautious view of Gupta's assumption) that my wife is now regarded as almost certainly have caught this virus in early December, having shown all significant symptoms (including fatigue, fever, loss of taste and smell, cough, breathing difficultieseye inflammation...) for five weeks, from early December to mid January. She seems to have fully recovered (touching wood). Sh didn't isolate herself from me. I didn't show any symptoms at the time, but in March I abruptly developed double vision. I have now been seen by an ophtalmologist and in his view this is the result of a blood clot having lodged itself in the part of my brain that controls vision - he was more specific but that doesn't matter here. This is consistent with a very mild form of long covid. If my wife and I caught the virus, it was already in Seville in the first week of December, and more likely to have been there in November.

In the following article, the bit by Prof. Naismith gives, I think, a balanced critique of the Barrington declaration:

2 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - Alex Game: Students ar... · 0 replies · +1 points

Politics is tribal. No Labour MP will ever acknowledge having been wrong in voting in a certain way, while his/her opponents were right in voting the other way - and no Conservative MP would do that either. Friend of my friend is my friend, enemy of my enemy is my friend, friend of my enemy is my enemy, eemy of my friend is my enemy. This simple rule explains a lot of political opinions and alliances.

2 weeks ago @ http://www.conservativ... - John Bald: Closing the... · 0 replies · +1 points

People believe what they want to believe. Besides, his jailors - the Fascists - were behind an attempted reform of schooling that was in the direction of the kind of stuff that we have seen here in the 60's and 70's. It was possibly the leftwing side of fascism - which did exist.