Wednesday 30 June 2021

Day 471 of self-isolation - Electricity


My electricity contract (with EDF) runs out on June 30, so it was time to look at the market again. I have an email from EDF, offering me a rate of 17.76p per kwh if I take a three year contract (which I prefer, because prices tend to rise) but I thought I'd have a look around.

I also had a phone call from "Bionic Services Ltd" offering to find me a supplier. That came about because a few years ago, I contacted one of the comparison sites (I forget the name), and there's been various mergers and transfers within the comparison site industry ... anyway, I brushed off that phone call because it felt to me like a cold call.

So I had a look at other suppliers besides EDF, and there seemed to be either no difference (or more expensive). Hmm.

So I called Bionic back, to see what they could offer. They offered me 17.7p per kwh, which is a tidge less than EDF, and that was for a contract that is also with EDF.

Wait, what? I pay slightly less if I don't go directly with EDF?

So I dug into how Bionic get paid - by asking them. They get between £50 and £600 per meter per year, if I sign up to EDF via them instead of directly.

 They also offered an automatic service whereby seven months before the contract ends, they check all the suppliers to see if I ought to switch. This can be opted out, provided I do so before that seven months, but as a general rule, I don't like contracts that last for ever until I opt out. It's too much of a temptation for whoever the contract is with, to treat me as a "locked-in" customer, and maybe I'd not get the best deal. So I declined that.

But the renewal with EDF looked like a no-brainer, so I've gone with that.

Electricity prices, at 17.7p, are 29% higher than when I first went with EDF - I was paying 13.7p.

I get a 7% discount for paying via direct debit (it's less work for EDF), but then I add 0.775p per kwh for the CCL (climate change levy), and another 20% for VAT.

So I signed the contract using Docusign (they already have a slightly wobbly version of my signature on file).

Which leaves me slightly puzzled. Since EDF are paying Bionic to sign me up, wouldn't it make sense for EDF to offer a slightly lower price if I simply renew the contract? 


Tuesday 29 June 2021

Day 470 of self-isolation - Cases up

Cases up

The number of infections is rising fast. It's looking like Autumn 2020, which brought a dreadful number of deaths. The latest figure on the number of cases, is 22868, and it's still rising exponentially.

I've been asked, "Does this mean that the vaccine has failed?" No, it doesn't, because of this.

The vaccine is working. To understand this, you need to remember the purpose of a vaccine.

The purpose of a vaccine, is to boost the immune system against that virus. We shouldn't expect a vaccine to prevent infection - it isn't a magic plastic barrier. The vaccine is intended to help us fight off the virus faster, and more efficiently, than without it. The vaccine prevents serious illness. The vaccine is preventing hospitalisations. The vaccine is preventing deaths.

So, the fact that the latest number of new cases is 22868, doesn't matter if nearly all of those cases do not end up in hospital.

Monday 28 June 2021

Day 469 of self-isolation - Hancock's snogging video

Hancock's snogging video

Question - where did it come from? Obviously, Downing street must have recording cameras all over the place, and obviously it came from one of those. But how did it leak?

Again, I think it's obvious, but I'm guessing. The records from those cameras must be stored for a while, and presumably reviewed from time to time. And one of the reviewers, seeing that snogging session, and having listened to Hancock repeat endlessly that we must not do that, was angry enough to send it to the newspaper.

So it broke in a similar way to the Parliamentary expenses scandal.

Which means that not only did Hancock break the Covid rules, not only is he "fucking useless" according to our dear Prime Minister, not only does he use public money for "jobs for the totty", but also he was stupid enough to fail to realise that he'd be caught by the cameras while snogging the totty.


Sunday 27 June 2021

Day 468 of self-isolation - Hancock resigned

Hancock resigned

Quite right too. 

It isn't that a married man was having an affair with a married woman - that's for the families to sort out. 

It's only partly that he used taxpayer money to hire his mistress to work for him as an advisor.

It's mostly that he was snogging her at a time when the Covid regulations made that illegal. There was fury as all the people who obeyed the rules and didn't hug their parents or children, and so were sticking to the rules, were angry at the "One fule for us" hypocrisy.

Saturday 26 June 2021

Day 467 of self-isolation - One rule for us

One rule for us

One rule for us, another rule for them.

They just don't care. It isn't just Dominic Cummings. Now Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, has been caught IN a "kiss and don't tell", which happened on May 6th, when people were still not allowed to meet or hug indoors.

He said: “I accept that I breached the social distancing guidance in these circumstances."

“I have let people down and am very sorry."

“I remain focused on working to get the country out of this pandemic, and would be grateful for privacy for my family on this personal matter.”

No. It isn't just a personal matter. There are people all over this country who were told that they could not hug their parents, children or other loved ones. He spent MONTHS telling us about the importance of the social distancing rules, but has shown by his behaviour that the rules didn't matter to him.

Also - he hired Gina Colangelo last year with MY (taxpayer's) money. An abuse of power and a conflict of interest.

Consequences? Don't laugh. There are no consequences. He broke the rules, and apologised, and thinks that's the end of it. It's Barnard's Castle again.

He should resign, or be sacked. How can THEY tell 63 million of US what to do, but "THEY" can ignore the rules?


Friday 25 June 2021

Day 466 of self-isolation - Get jabbed

Get jabbed

Anyone over 18 can get vaccinated now. And if you've already had your first dose, you might be able to get your second dose soon.

Because the delta variant is spreading, and a second jab gives us a lot more protection than a single jab.

Thursday 24 June 2021

Day 465 of self-isolation - McAfee dead

McAfee dead

John McAfee, one of the early anti-virus promoters, has been found dead by hanging in his cell in Barcelona. Apparently, it's suicide.

McAfee was one of our biggest competitors, in terms of volume (but not quality), and John was a larger-than-life figure. I was at a talk he gave, sitting at the back of the hall with Patty Hoffman, and we were giggling over each of the howlers that he spoke. He was very much a marketing guy.

After getting out of the anti-virus business, he led a very colourful life; at one point, he was a "person of interest" in a murder case.

Most recently, he was arrested for possible tax evasion, and on the day that he dies, his extradition to the USA was approved. The chickens (and there were a lot of them) were about to come home to roost.

The product is still for sale; for the last 25 years, it has used the engine that I designed and wrote.

Delta plus

It's early days, but this has been found in India and the UK - but only in small numbers.

It's thought to be more infectious that the Delta variant, which is twice as infectious as the original Covid.

16135 new cases UK on Tuesday, that's 50% higher than previously this month. We're in the fourth wave, and we're all getting fed up with this. No wonder our oven-ready government is authorising 60,000 sized gatherings - presumably they're using a secret magic spell to prevent the virus from spreading at football matches. If only that magic could be used more widely.

Wednesday 23 June 2021

Day 464 of self-isolation - Still rising

Still rising

Yesterday's deaths were 27, new infections 11625. So things are still rising.

It makes me wonder how come a 60,000 gathering of people is going to be allowed at Wembley. Have I missed something about the importance of football to people's health, mental health or to the state of the economy? Why not golf, or quiddich?

And how come, when a member of the Scotland football team tested positive, the members of England's team were quarantined - but not the Scots?

Have I missed something about how football makes you immune to Covid?

It must be magic.


Tuesday 22 June 2021

Day 463 of self-isolation - TomTom update

TomTom update

On the way back from Beaverbrook, my TomTom kept shutting down, low battery, even though it was plugged into power from the car. No big deal, once I was on the M25, I can find my way home.

Even rechargeable batteries have a limited life. My TomTom XXL battery seems to have almost no life left, so I had a rummage round the internet.

I can take the device apart by peeling off the label at the bottom and removing two screws. Then it prises apart, and the battery can be replaced. The battery costs £4.99 on eBay.

I also updated the mapping, via the TomTom web site.

Monday 21 June 2021

Day 462 of self-isolation - The longest day

The longest day

So here we are, the second midsummer of the Covid years. I thought Covid would go for several months, I didn't expect eighteen. Yet, here we are.

June 21, 2020 saw 1104 cases, 34 deaths. Today, we see 9284 cases, 6 deaths. The vaccine is working well at preventing hospitalisations and deaths.

A study by Public Health England, says that the Pfizer vaccine is 96% effective at preventing serious disease from the delta variant; AstraZeneca is 92%, but those numbers are only true for a double vaccination. If you've had only one, get the other one ASAP.

Brazil is currently seeing 14000 deaths per week and rising; USA is seeing 2100 per week and falling. If this continues, then a couple of months from now, Brazil will overtake the USA for the most Covid deaths.

How did this happen? The president belittled the threat, refused to take the necessary measures. Brazil is now in the fourth wave, and that's without to delta variant. Only 11% of the population have been fully vaccinated.

Sunday 20 June 2021

Day 461 of self-isolation - Beaverbrook


We spent the weekend at the Beaverbrook Hotel, which was where Lord Beaverbrook used to live.

Max Aitken (Lord Beaverbrook) was made the Minister of Aircraft Production in May 1940. This was just before the Battle of Britain started, and it was clearly very important to have lots of Spitfires. Beaverbrook cut through many obstacles to increase aircraft production, and during the Battle if Britain, there was never a shortage of aircraft - the limiting constraint was pilots.

 This was where he lived, and now it's a hotel.

Friday 18 June 2021

Day 460 of self-isolation - Landslide


Chesham and Amersham has been a safe seat for the Tories for 100 years. Not now it isn't. The libdems (who I voted for) won by 8000 votes, a huge margin.


Because we don't like the way that the Tories have been running the country. The combination of the pandemic disasters  and the Brexit bodges have not been eclipsed by the success of the vaccination deployment (which is down to the NHS, not our oven-ready government).

We're frazzled with the fraud, wearied by the waste of money and  enraged by the incompetence. So we've sent a strong message to the Tories, which they will, of course, ignore.

But come 2024 ... ?

 I'm posting this early, because we're going off on a jolly today. Someone is about to be 40 years old!


Day 459 of self-isolation - Delta variant

Delta variant

First, a refresher on how vaccines work. A vaccine "looks a bit like" the virus, and your immune system works out how to deal with it, a bit like getting ready for the fight by knowing your enemy and practicing for the real event. That practice, is why you have a sore arm, or even a bit of a fever.

Then when the actual virus is in your body ... that's right. the vaccine doesn't stop you from getting infected, it just gives your immune system a head start in fighting off the virus.

You'll still get infected, but you'll probably not even notice that this happened, because your symptoms will be little or none. Of all the people dying in hostpital of Covid, none of them have been double vaccinated. Likewise, people in the ICU.

So we've had some experience now of how well the vaccine helps you against the delta variant. If you've had one jab of AstraZeneca or Pfizer, that's 33% effective. Really not much. If you've had both jabs of AstraZeneca, that's 60% effective. If you've had two shots of Pfizer (like I have) then that's 88% effective. Conclusion - get that second dose!

In the UK, about 42%  of us are double-jabbed. 

And that's why today, we saw 11 thousand new cases. Deaths are also up now, at 19.


And today we had the by-election for Amersham and Chesham. In the afternoon, we had three canvassers knocking at the door - two for Libdem and one for Tory. We wound them up somewhat, of course. Then we went and voted.

We both regard the Tory government as incompetent, so we both voted Libdem, since that's that the Tory leaflet recommended.

I'm hoping we'll hear the results tomorrow. A narrow win for the Libdems would be nice.

Thursday 17 June 2021

Day 458 of self-isolation - Compulsory vaccination in care homes

Compulsory vaccination in care homes

80% of care home workers are already vaccinated. Now the other 20% will be vaccinated, or will need to find another job.

I think that's a good idea. We all know that care home residents are the most vulnerable. This measure is in the same area as requiring kitchen workers to wash their hands and surgeons to be vaccinatiedf against Hepatitis.

The delta variant is more than twice as infectious as the original Covid - that's what evolution does. But evolution hasn't ended, and if a new variant becomes common, it will be because it is even more infectious than delta.

There has been 180 million cases of Covid worldwide that we know of - probably several times as many that we don't know of. Each of those produced billions of copies of the virus - many of them imperfect copies. It's not surprising that some of these imperfect copies would be better at infecting than the original - and many more would be worse. But the worse ones don't matter, they don't become common. It's only the imperfect copies that are better at infecting, become common.

Survival of those best suited to their environment. The environment is human society. It's evolution in action, and anyone who doesn't believe that evolution happens, has their eyes firmly shut.

Also, the latest number of new infections is up, at 9055.


Wednesday 16 June 2021

Day 457 of self-isolation - eye test

Eye test

I had an in-depth eye test today. The result was as I expected - cataracts in both eyes, the left somewhat worse than the right. I discussed it with the eye doctor - he said that I could have an operation if I wanted, but we agreed to leave it for now, and he'll have another look in a year.

It isn't that I can't see out of that eye, it's that it's more blurred than the right eye,  and less light gets through.

I asked him if there was any way I could stop it getting worse. "Yes," he said, "stop ageing."

Tuesday 15 June 2021

Day 456 of self-isolation - Doubling


We're at a point where the number of cases is doubling every ten days. So, with the current number at 8000, that would get to 64,000 by 12 July. And that's back in the dark  days of last winter.

Easing the lockdown, would obviously make that worse. That's why we aren't easing the lockdown.

It's like driving a car - you have to anticipate. If you see brake lights flaring half a mile down the road, you know that this isn't the time to put your foot on the accelerator.

Delaying the lockdown-easing will be hard on the hospitality industry, and the events industry, and on many others. But that delay will mean that we can substantially increase the percentage of us that have been vaccinated. And if we didn't delay, ,the case numbers would rise faster, and then what would we do? No-one wants to go back to the full lockdown of last year.

So what's the cause of this, after things were going so well? The delta variant, which is 60% more infectious than the alpha, which was 30% more infectious than the original.

The guilty party is evolution.

Monday 14 June 2021

Day 455 of self-isolation - A visitation

A visitation

Brother-in-law and sister-in law visited today.  We had lunch.

The significance of the day was that we took no Covid precautions. All four of us are double-vaccinated, so we didn't mask, and we ate indoors.

Meanwhile, it looks like June 21 isn't going to bring a change to the lockdown.


Sunday 13 June 2021

Day 454 of self-isolation - June 17

June 17

We're having a by-election on June 17, and we're getting flooded with leaflets. The latest is shown below.

I was thinking of voting for the "Rejoin EU" party, even though they aren't going to win. Just as a protest vote. But this leaflet has convinced me otherwise.

The Conservatives think that the Lib Dems can win. So this Tory leaflet has persuaded me to vote Lib Dem.

Saturday 12 June 2021

Day 453 of self-isolation - Going up

Going up

Throughout Europe and the USA, the numbers are going down, both new cases and new deaths. But in the UK, they're going up.

The latest number for new cases, is 8125, and we're on an uptrend. The latest new deaths number is 17, which isn't as low as it's been for the last few weeks. Hospitalisations are still low, but the delta variant is sweeping through the country.

The vaccination program is still going well in the UK, but in the USA, it has slowed down a lot. That's vaccine hesitancy.

On June 21, we're due to have another reduction of the lockdown. I think that will have to be deferred. But the government will leave the decision to the last minute.

I downloaded and installed the NHS app. It shows my Covid vaccination history, and I can make a QR code if anyone needs to see it. It also claims that I can order repeat prescriptions, but that's not working for me.

One of the more interesting capabilities, is that I can look at my medical records, which are mostly INR blood tests, but also include various other tests.

I've changed the fonts on my main workstation, to make them one point size bigger. Because I think my eyes have got weaker, especially the left eye. It's like a translucent curtain is in front of that eye. Things that I can see fairly clearly out of the right eye, are just a blur with my left. I think it's the cornea, a cataract. It isn't bad enough to warrant an operation, but it is deteriorating.

Friday 11 June 2021

Day 452 of self-isolation - Rejoin EU?

Rejoin EU?

We have a by-election coming up in our constituency, so I'm getting lots of flyers. One of them claims that he has the solution to all the problems that leaving the EU caused.

Rejoin the EU.

This will give a huge boost to our fishing industry, will remove the problems that many of our farmers face, allow freedom of travel, freedom to work anywhere in the EU, freedom to sell goods and services anywhere in the EU (thus rescuing our financial sector) and solve the problem of Northern Ireland being in the single market while the rest of the UK isn't.

The party is called "Rejoin EU", and I think it's a brilliant solution to all the problems that leaving has caused.

They'll have my vote!

Although their web site needs work.

By contrast, there's a "Freedom alliance" which is going to oppose vaccine passports (which will mean that we can't travel outside the UK). They are against Covid vaccination. They are against "unnecessary vaccines for children", which is a bit like being against "unnecessary cakes for children". They claim that there were over three quarters of a million adverse reactions to the Covid vaccine, and I was one of those, because I had a sore arm for a few hours.


Also - this is the time of year for my hayfever.

Thursday 10 June 2021

Day 451 of self-isolation - Covid passports

Covid passports

It's called the EU Digital Covid Certificate. It can be digital or paper - it's a QR code. The official launch date is July 1, but people are signing up already.You'll need it if you plan to travel to or within the EU.

Currently, it's only available to EU citizens, but that's sure to open up.

No-one is forced to get one, unless you plan to travel, in shich case you'll also be carrying your ordinary passport too. Is this an invasion of privacy? Of course it is, and so are ordinary passports.

What is stored is: recent recovery from Covid-19, and negative test results -- including lateral flow, as well as PCR. It also records how many vaccinations you've had, and which vaccine.

It's free.

Wednesday 9 June 2021

Day 450 of self-isolation - 100 per 100

100 per 100

We've reached 100 jabs per 100 people.

 This isn't quite as good as it sounds, because many people have been double-vaccinate. And it's better than that because up till now, we haven[t been vaccinating under-18s (but I think that will change soon).

 I had another book-avalanche. The problem is, I have a lot of books, and they are piled up on top of each other against the walls of my bedrook, up to more than two meters tall. But books aren't quite flat, so the piles lean a bit, like the tower at Pisa. So, occasionally, I get a book avalanche.

The one today was minor, only a few dozen books fell, so it was fairly quick to re-pile. The one before that was major, three entire piles toppled, and it took ages to sort out.

The real problem is, I find it hard to part with books.

Also, today I found out that I can avoid many hours of programming - Barclays ePDQ assured me that I fall outside of their new security "3DS" system. That's good because I'm sure that my own security system, based on a couple of decades of experience and data, is way better than theirs.

Tuesday 8 June 2021

Day 449 of self-isolation - Project S

Project S

In the town of Serrana, Brazil, the entire town has been vaccinated.

Brazil as a whole, is doing very badly. But Serrana is doing very well. This spring, researchers gave the full two doses of the vaccine Coronavac to 27,160 adults -- about 95% of the city's adult population. Coronavac has an efficacy of 51%.

According to preliminary results released on June 1, the study showed an 80% reduction in the number of symptomatic cases. Covid-related hospitalizations have fallen by 86% and mortality by 95%

Monday 7 June 2021

Day 448 of self-isolation - Dido, NHS chief?

Dido, NHS chief?

Dido Harding is expect to apply for the role of next NHS chief.

Please, no. She has overseen a stream of disasters, from the huge TalkTalk data breach to the Track and Trace system that was one disaster after another.

Surely there is someone in this country who is able to run a whelk stall?

Sunday 6 June 2021

Day 447 of self-isolation - Low hospitalisations

Low hospitalisations

The number of people in hospital for Covid, is under 1000, and staying low. That's very good.

In Bolton, people in hospital with Covid were "a lot younger" than patients in earlier stages of the pandemic. And there were very, very few people in hospital who had had both doses of a Covid vaccine.

There are two conclusions. Young people aren't as safe from the Delta (Indian) variant as they were from the original Covid. Secondly -get vaccinated.



Saturday 5 June 2021

Day 446 of self-isolation - Alpha and Delta

Alpha and Delta

The original Covid-19 has an R number of 3. The alpha (Kent) variant is 70% more infectious (R number = 5). The delta (India) variant is 30 to 100% more infectious than the alpha variant. So the R number is 8. This means that for people who are not immune, each person will infect about eight people, if no-one is taking precautions.

So it's not too surprising that in the last three days, the number oof new cases has been 4330, 5274, 6238. It's starting to look exponential. We've been here before.

With an R number of 8, you need 1 - 1/R = 88% of the population to be immune to have herd immunity. This probably means the we'll never get there.

Back when the R number was 3, we needed 66% to be immune, and that would likely to be reached with vaccination. Even when the R number was 5, it was maybe possible to reach the 80% needed for herd immunity. But 88%? I don't think so.

Why is 88% immunity not possible? Because there are simply too many people who are not willing to take a proven safe jab, and prefer the risk of getting the disease.

And why aren't they willing? Because to understand pandemics and how to deal with them, you need to understand maths, statistics, physics, chemistry, biochemistry, genetics and how to do research (hint, watching youtube videos isn't research). And most people don't have all these understandings. Many people don't have any of them. So all they can do, is find someone to trust who does know this stuff, and trust them.

In the UK, we're lucky; a lot of people trust the NHS. In America, and many other countries, there's nothing like the NHS, and they don't trust their own governments.

But far too many people trust Tilly on Twitter or Fred on Facebook, because Tilly has lots of people repeating what she says, and Fred has a loud voice and a confident demeanour. 

And there's people like Andrew Wakefield, the struck-off doctor, telling people that vaccines are bad. There's people claiming that vaccines are untested, or that no-one knows what's in them, or that they include a microchip.

So the outlook is bad. We beat polio, because people knew how terrible the disease was, and everyone was keen to eradicate it. We beat smallpox.  We beat mumps, rubella, pertussis. 

So what changed? People are unwilling to believe people who know stuff, and think that Wally from Whatsapp is a better source of good advice.

Friday 4 June 2021

Day 445 of self-isolation - Half


Just over 50% of adults have had their second vaccination, including me and Bojo. And 75% have had their first jab.

But the number of new cases just hit 5274, on an upward trend, three times as high as the number in early May. Our death numbers are still low; less than 10 on a 7 day average.

This upward trend in new cases is concerning - if it continues, it will postpose the expected June 21 reopening. Bedford, Blackburn and Bolton are hotspots, so if you live in a town that starts with a B, get yourself vaccinated. Hospital admissions are rising again, mostly with unvaccinated people.

I think that the June 21 easing will be postponed; we need to get more of our people vaccinated.

In America, they're offering incentives to people to get vaccinated. That makes no sense to me. What better incentive could there be than "you won't get hospitalised"? Budweiser are offering a beer to people who get vaccinate; "a shot and a beer". But, as we all know, financial incentives do work.

Thursday 3 June 2021

Day 444 of self-isolation - Peru


Peru has revised the death numbers, they are now about three times as high as the previous estimate. Peru is now the worst country in the world, if you look at deaths per million population. 5526, compared with the UK's 1873, Peru is three times as high as the awful UK number.

This is a clear demonstration of how difficult it is to collect statistics, and it makes me wonder how many other countries are200% out in their numbers.

Wednesday 2 June 2021

Day 443 of self-isolation - Vaccines and variants

Vaccines and variants

B.1.1.7 is the UK variant

B.1.351 is the Soutnh Africa variant

P.1 is the Brazil variant

B.1.617 is the India variant

The boxes in colour are estimates based on modelling.

This information comes from

But another source gives 88% efficacy against the India variant for Pfizer and 60% for AstraZeneca

And it says that one dose gives only 33% against the India variant, 50% against the UK variant.

In the UK, the India variant is responsible for 75% of new cases.

WHO has assigned new names for the variants. The UK, South Africa, Brazil and India variants are called Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta.

WHO is following the naming system that we devised for computer viruses, and for much the same reason.

Tuesday 1 June 2021

Day 442 of self-isolation - Twickers


On Monday, Twickenham Stadium was converted into a mass vaccination centre; come one, come all. Anyone over 18 could get the Covid jab. 15,000 people got the Pfizer vaccine.

The weekend numbers were, as usual, very good. Only one death from Covid.