REFLECTIONS ON THE COVID PANDEMIC IN THE U.K. (29th April 2020)
Retired Bayesian Statistician
A logistic model
An exponential model
If a pandemic is well-controlled e.g. by safe spacing, then the total numbers of deaths, and the total numbers of cases, will hopefully increase in time according to a logistic curve, in which case the curve will eventually flatten out. However, if the pandemic is badly controlled, then the numbers of deaths, and the numbers of cases, can instead follow an exponential curve, in which case vast swathes of the population will perish.
Despite the bad start in Britain (because of the herd mentality and parsimonious attitudes of our crass political advisors) there is some hope that the numbers of deaths in hospitals (excluding mental hospitals) will follow a logistic curve, and eventually flatten out. However, for the spiralling deaths in nursing homes, an exponential curve at the moment seems to be more appropriate. Moreover, extra, non-covid deaths in nursing homes are likely to be enormous. I am also very concerned about covid and extra non-covid deaths in our mental hospitals and prisons.
If we start moving more elderly covid-patients from nursing homes into hospitals, then that could well prevent the curve for hospital patients from flattening out. If we don't then we will face mass disaster in our nursing homes, with many patients left abandoned and dying.
Finally, the continuation of the lock-down, which seems absolutely necessary, is likely to lead to numerous extra deaths in our vulnerable and impoverished populations, for a whole variety of reasons,
I find it hard to believe that less than 200000 extra UK residents will perish during the course of this pandemic (the rate is currently about 12000 a week), and it is possible that 200000 could die from the coronavirus alone (including at least 50000 in hospitals). While it is impossible, given the quality of the data, to make valid quantitative conclusions at this moment, the number 500000 does come fearfully into my mind.
This could all lead to even worse civilian disaster scenarios e.g. in deprived, shopping, or downtown areas. If the people come onto the streets, then the reaction of the authorities is unpredictable. If there is a partial press blackout, then we might not know how many thousands have died,
Today (30th April) our crass Prime Minister painted a totally more optimistic picture. I think that Bojo's trying, as always, to brainwash his electorate. The U.K. is ranked worst per capita in the world.
Wednesday, 29 April 2020
Sunday, 26 April 2020
I met Jo Clifford at the Candlelight vigil for trans people outside the Scottish Parliament during December 2019. I talked to her e.g. about the Gender Recognition Act, and she then gave an inspiring speech. She has since been pro-active in Brazil.
Jo Clifford was born in North Staffordshire in 1951 where she was raised as a boy.
This entailed an enforced separation from her mother at the age of 7 when she was sent to boarding school; the resulting trauma was intensified at the sudden death of her mother when she was 12.
She discovered her vocation for theatre when she played women’s roles in school plays. That was when it became clear to her she was not male. The terror, shame and confusion of this realisation in a completely ignorant, hostile, and prejudiced environment unfortunately became associated with the theatre. It took her twenty years to recover enough to find her voice as a theatre writer (with “Losing Venice” in 1985) and another twenty years after that to re-discover her vocation as an actress and performer (with “The Gospel According To Jesus Queen of Heaven” in 2009)
Jo has written over 70 performed scripts which encompass every dramatic form, and her work has been performed all over the world.
Jo loves running writer’s workshops, and is hugely experienced at doing it. She has led writer’s workshops with the Traverse, the Festival Hub, Playwrights’ Workshop, in secondary schools; in Valencia, in Singapore, in Mumbai, and has designed and led Masters’ courses in Playwriting at Queen Margaret University. Besides playwriting, she can teach workshops that focus on radio writing, on gender, on bereavement. In fact, on anything you care to mention
Jo is a writer, performer, poet and teacher based in Edinburgh.
She is the author of about 80 plays, many of which have been translated into various languages and performed all over the world.
Her original plays include: Losing Venice, Lucy’s Play, Playing With Fire, Ines de Castro, Light In The Village, War in America, The Tree Of Life, The Tree of Knowledge, God’s New Frock, The Gospel According to Jesus Queen of Heaven, An Apple a Day, Sex, Chips and the Holy Ghost and Every One.
Plays based on other sources include: Heaven Bent, Hell Bound, Great Expectations, La Vie de Boheme, Tchaikovsky and The Queen of Spades, Wuthering Heights, Anna Karenina, Don Duardos, The Force Of Destiny, Faust Parts One and Two.
Translations include: The House With Two Doors, The Doctor of Honour, Schism in England, Life Is A Dream, Celestina.
Radio Plays include: Desert Places, Ending Time, Writing Home to Mother, The Leopard, Torquemada, Ain’t It Grand To Be Bloomin’ Well Dead, Spam Fritters, La Princesse de Cleves.
Libretti include: Ines de Castro (music: James McMillan), Anna (music: Craig Armstrong), The Magic Flute (adapted from Mozart), Hansel and Gretel (adapted from Humperdinck).
She is an Associate Artist of Chris Goode and Company.
Her transition from John to Jo has enabled her to become an actor and performer. Performances include “God’s New Frock”, “Sex, Chips and the Holy Ghost”, “The Gospel According to Jesus Queen of Heaven”, “High Heels Aren’t Compulsory”.
Work in 2015 includes the opening of a new dramatisation of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” (Sell A Door theatre Company); revivals of “Great Expectations” (Studio Life, Tokyo, and Dundee Rep); “Anna Karenina” (Manchester Royal Exchange and West Yorkshire Playhouse), “Ines de Castro The Opera” (Scottish Opera), and “The Gospel According To Jesus, Queen Of Heaven” (Edinburgh festival fringe at Summerhall).
In 2016 Jo will be performing a new play she has co-written with Chris Goode for the National Theatre of Scotland. She will be perfuming her “Jesus Queen of Heaven” at Queer Contact in Manchester and Outburst Arts Festival in Belfast.
Chris Goode and Company are mounting a new production of "Every One" in March 2016 in Battersea Arts Centre.
OUR ARMIES ARE RISING AND WE ARE GETTING STRONGER
Monday, 13 April 2020
Many of the recent cataclysmic events can be blamed on Capitalism. While we're looking for something different, it would be a good idea to consider Marx's Das Kapital again.
VOLUME 1: PDF
Das Kapital, (German: Capital) one of the major works of the 19th-century economist and philosopher Karl Marx (1818–83), in which he expounded his theory of the capitalist system, its dynamism, and its tendencies toward self-destruction. He described his purpose as to lay bare “the economic law of motion of modern society.” The first volume was published in Berlin in 1867; the second and third volumes, edited by his collaborator Friedrich Engels (1820–95), were published posthumously in 1885 and 1894, respectively.
Karl Marx (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Karl Marx (1818–1883) is best known not as a philosopher but as a revolutionary, whose works inspired the foundation of many communist regimes in the twentieth century. It is hard to think of many who have had as much influence in the creation of the modern world. Trained as a philosopher, Marx turned away from philosophy in his mid-twenties, towards economics and politics. However, in addition to his overtly philosophical early work, his later writings have many points of contact with contemporary philosophical debates, especially in the philosophy of history and the social sciences, and in moral and political philosophy. Historical materialism — Marx’s theory of history — is centered around the idea that forms of society rise and fall as they further and then impede the development of human productive power. Marx sees the historical process as proceeding through a necessary series of modes of production, characterized by class struggle, culminating in communism. Marx’s economic analysis of capitalism is based on his version of the labour theory of value, and includes the analysis of capitalist profit as the extraction of surplus value from the exploited proletariat. The analysis of history and economics come together in Marx’s prediction of the inevitable economic breakdown of capitalism, to be replaced by communism. However Marx refused to speculate in detail about the nature of communism, arguing that it would arise through historical processes, and was not the realisation of a pre-determined moral ideal.
KARL MARX : Wikipedia
DAS KAPITAL: Wikipedia
Das Kapital, also called Capital. A Critique of Political Economy (German: Das Kapital. Kritik der politischen Ökonomie, pronounced [das kapiˈtaːl kʁɪˈtiːk deːɐ poˈliːtɪʃən økonomˈiː]; 1867–1883), is a foundational theoretical text in materialist philosophy, economics and politics by Karl Marx. Marx aimed to reveal the economic patterns underpinning the capitalist mode of production in contrast to classical political economists such as Adam Smith, Jean-Baptiste Say, David Ricardo and John Stuart Mill. While Marx did not live to publish the planned second and third parts, they were both completed from his notes and published after his death by his colleague Friedrich Engels. Das Kapital is the most cited book in the social sciences published before 1950.
In Das Kapital (1867), Marx proposes that the motivating force of capitalism is in the exploitation of labor, whose unpaid work is the ultimate source of surplus value. The owner of the means of production is able to claim the right to this surplus value because he or she is legally protected by the ruling regime through property rights and the legally established distribution of shares which are by law only to be distributed to company owners and their board members. The historical section shows how these rights were acquired in the first place chiefly through plunder and conquest and the activity of the merchant and "middle-man". In producing capital (produced goods), the workers continually reproduce the economic conditions by which they labour. Das Kapital proposes an explanation of the "laws of motion" of the capitalist economic system from its origins to its future by describing the dynamics of the accumulation of capital, the growth of wage labour, the transformation of the workplace, the concentration of capital, commercial competition, the banking system, the decline of the profit rate, land-rents, et cetera. The critique of the political economy of capitalism proposes:
- Wage-labour is the basic "cell-form" (trade unit) of a capitalist society. Moreover, because commerce as a human activity implied no morality beyond that required to buy and sell goods and services, the growth of the market system made discrete entities of the economic, the moral and the legal spheres of human activity in society; hence, subjective moral value is separate from objective economic value. Subsequently, political economy—the just distribution of wealth and "political arithmetick" about taxes—became three discrete fields of human activity, namely economics, law and ethics, politics and economics divorced.
- "The economic formation of society [is] a process of natural history". Thus, it is possible for a political economist to objectively study the scientific laws of capitalism, given that its expansion of the market system of commerce had objectified human economic relations. The use of money (cash nexus) voided religious and political illusions about its economic value and replaced them with commodity fetishism, the belief that an object (commodity) has inherent economic value. Because societal economic formation is a historical process, no one person could control or direct it, thereby creating a global complex of social connections among capitalists. The economic formation (individual commerce) of a society thus precedes the human administration of an economy (organised commerce).
- The structural contradictions of a capitalist economy (German: gegensätzliche Bewegung) describe the contradictory movement originating from the two-fold character of labour and so the class struggle between labour and capital, the wage labourer and the owner of the means of production. These capitalist economic contradictions operate "behind the backs" of the capitalists and the workers as a result of their activities and yet remain beyond their immediate perceptions as men and women and as social classes.
- The economic crises (recession, depression, et cetera) that are rooted in the contradictory character of the economic value of the commodity (cell-unit) of a capitalist society are the conditions that propitiate proletarian revolution—which The Communist Manifesto (1848) collectively identified as a weapon forged by the capitalists which the working class "turned against the bourgeoisie itself".
- In a capitalist economy, technological improvement and its consequent increased production augment the amount of material wealth (use value) in society while simultaneously diminishing the economic value of the same wealth, thereby diminishing the rate of profit—a paradox characteristic of economic crisis in a capitalist economy. "Poverty in the midst of plenty" consequent to over-production and under-consumption
Monday, 6 April 2020
The seven Prime Ministers who died in office
|Name||Year||Country||Title||Cause of death|
|Spencer Compton, Earl of Wilmington||1743||Great Britain||Prime Minister|
|Henry Pelham||1754||Great Britain||Prime Minister|
|Charles Watson-Wentworth, Marquess of Rockingham||1782||Great Britain||Prime Minister||Illness – influenza|
|William Pitt the Younger||1806||United Kingdom||Prime Minister||Illness|
|Spencer Perceval||1812||United Kingdom||Prime Minister||Assassination – shooting|
|George Canning||1827||United Kingdom||Prime Minister||Illness|
At 5:15 pm, on the evening of 11 May 1812, Perceval was on his way to attend the inquiry into the Orders in Council. As he entered the lobby of the House of Commons, a man stepped forward, drew a pistol and shot him in the chest. Perceval fell to the floor, after uttering something that was variously heard as "murder" and "oh my God". They were his last words. By the time he had been carried into an adjoining room and propped up on a table with his feet on two chairs, he was senseless, although there was still a faint pulse. When a surgeon arrived a few minutes later, the pulse had stopped, and Perceval was declared dead.
At first it was feared that the shot might signal the start of an uprising, but it soon became apparent that the assassin – who had made no attempt to escape – was a man with an obsessive grievance against the Government and had acted alone. The assassin, John Bellingham, was a merchant who believed he had been unjustly imprisoned in Russia and was entitled to compensation from the government, but all his petitions had been rejected. Perceval's body was laid on a sofa in the speaker's drawing room and removed to Number 10 in the early hours of 12 May. That same morning an inquest was held at the Cat and Bagpipes public house on the corner of Downing Street and a verdict of wilful murder was returned.
One of Perceval's most noted critics, especially on the question of Catholic emancipation, was the cleric Sydney Smith. In Peter Plymley's Letters Smith writes:
If I lived at Hampstead upon stewed meats and claret; if I walked to church every Sunday before eleven young gentlemen of my own begetting, with their faces washed, and their hair pleasingly combed; if the Almighty had blessed me with every earthly comfort–how awfully would I pause before I sent forth the flame and the sword over the cabins of the poor, brave, generous, open-hearted peasants of Ireland
John Bellingham was tried on Friday 15 May 1812 at the Old Bailey, where he argued that he would have preferred to shoot the British Ambassador to Russia, but insisted as a wronged man he was justified in killing the representative of his oppressors.
He made a formal statement to the court, saying:
Recollect, Gentlemen, what was my situation. Recollect that my family was ruined and myself destroyed, merely because it was Mr Perceval's pleasure that justice should not be granted; sheltering himself behind the imagined security of his station, and trampling upon law and right in the belief that no retribution could reach him. I demand only my right, and not a favour; I demand what is the birthright and privilege of every Englishman.Gentlemen, when a minister sets himself above the laws, as Mr Perceval did, he does it as his own personal risk. If this were not so, the mere will of the minister would become the law, and what would then become of your liberties?I trust that this serious lesson will operate as a warning to all future ministers, and that they will henceforth do the thing that is right, for if the upper ranks of society are permitted to act wrong with impunity, the inferior ramifications will soon become wholly corrupted.Gentlemen, my life is in your hands, I rely confidently in your justice.
Evidence was presented that Bellingham was insane, but it was discounted by the trial judge, Sir James Mansfield. Bellingham was found guilty, and was sentenced to death.
Bellingham was hanged in public three days later. René Martin Pillet, a Frenchman who wrote an account of his ten years in England, described the sentiment of the crowd at the execution:
Farewell poor man, you owe satisfaction to the offended laws of your country, but God bless you! you have rendered an important service to your country, you have taught ministers that they should do justice, and grant audience when it is asked of them.
A subscription was raised for the widow and children of Bellingham, and "their fortune was ten times greater than they could ever have expected in any other circumstances". His widow remarried the following year.