Category Archives: Issues

Covid-19 Politics

Domingão, SIC, Setúbal, Lisboa, Sintra, Belmonte, Luz de TAvira, Algarve
Domigão - que virus? 😀

Since moving to Portugal I haven’t been active politically. Mainly due to being busy with things and having become resigned as to the futility of having a political rant. All those protest marches in England. against student debt and illegal wars. In the end the political classes do what their paymasters want. Only rarely do you see a politician with genuine conviction, passion and spine.

My nephew who has moved to the USA understands the workings of politics. He has only recently started earning but contributes financially to his favoured political party. In the USA the politics and policies are controlled by those with wealth and financial clout. It is a sad state of affairs but this is what it is.

The Covid-19 virus circus looks like it is set to continue. In the UK, PM Boris Johnson wants a 1 month total lockdown. In Portugal there is mention of a ‘soft’ lockdown.

You cannot keep going into lockdown as this is not effective. Lockdown has - and will - destroy economies and therefore societies. People need to go about their business for society to function. Portugal which is heavily dependent on tourists and the money they bring in, has been hard hit with the UK putting Portugal on the ‘black list’.

PM Boris Johnson talks the talk but can’t walk the walk. He, President Donald Trump and President Jair Trump, Republicans, mexicans Bolsonaro, PM , Brazil,

Bolsonaro of Brazil all had the virus. Their reaction to having contracted it has been very different. Boris wants to be wrapped in cotton wool and be hugged, while Trump and Bolsonaro know we have to get on with it or the future will be even worse with total economic chaos. Prince William, Duke of Cambridge

Prince William got on with it

and I, had the virus. We are just getting on with it.

What needs to be done is isolate only very vulnerable groups like the elderly to minimize their exposure to virus. The rest of us should go about our business and not hide from the virus. If you are in reasonable health you will survive it and then become immune. It is like a bad case of the flu. What the health departments of our countries should be doing is teaching people breathing techniques to deal with the virus when you contract it. It is the slow asphyxiation that finishes a person off over a period of a few days. Of’course carry on with wearing masks and the disinfection processes in closed spaces. But wearing masks on public roads and open public spaces is silly. I don’t get any pleasure seeing the dançarinas on the ‘Somos Portugal’ program in face masks , better SIC's Domigão 🙂

Images credited to: links

A Handful of Coins

BitCoinThe 2014 Mtgox saga has re-emerged after a lull of several years.

The Japanese administrators of Mtgox Exchange have invited customers to submit claims for BitCoins, other cyptocurrencies and fiat currency (money) lost.

Claims must be submitted either offline or online and reach the the Mtgox administrators no later than the 22nd of October 2018.

I think it pretty decent of the Japanese government to try and make reparations to customers of the Mtgox Exchange which was setup and run by a french national, Mr Karpeles.

This is in contrast to the american government which periodically undermines alternative currencies by using law enforcement instruments to grab hold of BitCoins. A good example of this is the BTC-e exchange. The US government (Government of the United States of America) claimed the owner of the BTC-e exchanged was involved in handling stolen BitCoins and money laundering among other crimes. While all of these maybe be true the US Government made no attempt to verify whether customers of the exchange had obtained their BitCoins legally and has made to attempt to return any of the impounded BitCoins or fiat currency to genuine customers of the BTC-e exchange. This as far as I am concerned is robbery by the State.

After having read this article →

some of us night be returned BitCoins we already owned and then bought again. It's alleged that stolen Mtgox were traded on the BTC-e exchange. It maybe be wishful thinking but just maybe the US Government will give the Japanese government the impounded BitCoins so that the Mtgox clients get their BitCoins back , BitCoins for which they have paid twice 😀

Back to the Mtgox saga, the Japanese administrators are offering to refund customers either BitCoins or fiat currency when this becomes possible, however customers maybe not be able to dictate preference and ultimately will have to accept what is offered. It is interesting to note that the fiat currency (money) being offered is about a tenth of the current value of BitCoin but as they say - it is better than a poke in the eye with a proverbial sharp stick 🙂

BitCoin, BitCoin Exchanges and MtGox


Protest at MtGox, Tokyo, 14th February 2014

Protest at MtGox, Tokyo, 14th February 2014

By now many of you must have heard of the demise of the Mtgox BitCoin exchange.

This exchange was the biggest BitCoin exchange until a few months back. Was not known by many including myself was that it was being run almost single-handedly by a single person, but Frenchman less. Despite being based in Japan.



As it was the largest BitCoin exchange at the time, it is quite shocking that this large exchange was being run by a single individual, Mark Karpeles. He took it upon himself to do all backend implementation and security. He was lax in implementing security patches for known system vulnerabilities and had no I.T Security Officer let alone team. All this was hidden from the users by a well presented and very professional user interface as well as the information on how to secure the online wallets using private key s/ public key encryption. What this did was give the MtGox users a false sense of security, and who then left their BitCoins in an online wallet. Mark Karpeles was unable to explain what had happened and where the BitCoins had disappeared to. Later, some 200,000 BitCoins, were miraculously found in an old style wallet (BBC, 2014).



What is sad about it, is that it does reek of being an inside job. This 'model' where transfers stop going through and BitCoins then disappearing mysteriously, followed finally by the company filing for bankruptcy has been done before. Over the last 2-3 years but by smaller exchanges like the ( exchange, 2014). After this the clients who had BitCoins are just happy to receive whatever crumbs can be gleaned from the sale of the 'recovered BitCoins' . Meanwhile the bulk of the BitCoins disappear forever, untraceable due to BitCoin's excellence as an crpto-currency.


My personal feeling is that Mark Karparales did not take the responsibility of running the largest BitCoin exchange seriously. And as a result either by willful theft or sheer negligence has managed to harm BitCoin users and well as BitCoin. I had a few BitCoins on the MtGox exchange which I was gutted to have stolen. Fortunately, BitCoin has proved by it's recovery in value that it is a very good cryptocurrency in it's own right.



The lesson from this is to do due diligence checks on any exchanges that you are planning to use and not to leave your BitCoins online. Store them in an encrypted offline wallet. I have certainly learnt my lesson.



BBC, 2014, '200,000 missing BitCoins'

Link Verified 07/06/2014

Protest at MtGox, Tokyo, 14th February 2014

Link Verified 07/06/2014 exchange, 2014

Link Verified 07/06/2014


Britain’s Energy crisis.

Britain at night on

Here we are with the lights in the UK about to either go out or to become very expensive to keep on. I first had an inkling that all was not well back in 1993 when the then Tory government began endorsing and actively encouraging the of gas turbines to generate electricity in place of existing coal fired powered electricity generating plants.


This was accelerated by the creation of new European Union (EU) which passed legislation that compelled the governments of member states to comply with new quotas for carbon dioxide and other noxious gaseous emissions namely sulphur dioxide. Trading 'Carbon Quotas' made the european governments, including ours feel good about themselves and so the Carbon Quota business was born. It has been quite useless in terms of real national productivity and only a few people in a narrow section of real industry have benefited from it.

I didn't see anyone from this Carbon Quota club step forward with a solution to offset the CO2 and other gases that were ejected from the erruption of Eyjafjallajökull in Iceland,Eyjafjallajökull, icelandic volcano on back in 2010.


Rather than challenging these rulings made by an undemocratically elected EU body the UK government slavishly rushed to implement it. It made sense to them at the time as they were on a roll, filling the coffers of the exchequer by privatizing all publicly owned assets such as energy utility companies.  Being able to bring gas turbines online made perfect sense to them as companies that wanted to get into the business of electricity supply could bring these gas powered turbines online quickly and much more cheaply than other alternatives such as either coal fired power or nuclear power stations. It did nothing to address carbon dioxide emissions. You get water and carbon dioxide when you burn methane (gas). What this DID DO - was deplete our gas reserves and put the price of gas up due to the increased demand.



lunacy of closing down UK coal fired stationsAnd the lunacy continues, Coal-fired Didcot A power station in Oxfordshire and the oil-fired Fawley plant in Hampshire will be shut down early next year to comply with the EU Large Combustion Plant Directive leaving us to pay for the much more expensively generated gas turbine produced electricity. Really, the Governments in office knew about this for years and could have invested in cleaner coal burning technology so you have to wonder what they have been doing?

The Germans have been very erratic with their energy policies as well. Their ill thought out policy of having all their electricity generated from renewable sources have had a rude awakening. By shutting down their nuclear power stations they found that they were unable to meet the energy needs by solely renewable sources. They have in the last 2-3 years quietly been building coal fired power stations which they are now labeling as clean technology. See this Forbes article.


Another classic example the Germans not able to think long term is their idea of storing carbon dioxide in underground caverns in its gaseous state.. Obviously potential subsidence, earthquakes and ensuing rock fractures occurring in the future, thus releasing the gas back in to the atmosphere seems to be an unreasonable concept to them.


Coming back to us in the UK, I think the British government instead of expending it's energies on the Gay Marriage Bill and meddling with dubious foreign interventions should serve us citizens better by emulating the Germans in building cleaner coal fired power plants to run our homes and industries.

Visiting the Department of Energy and Climate Change I see they are still living in LaLa land and have not woken up to the fact of our serious energy deficit. Indeed the name says it all – Energy and Climate Change. The two don't sit side by side comfortably. I think the governments of both shades have over the past couple of decades spent far more money on tackling CO2 emissions instead of focusing on providing the country with affordable energy. On the department's website they proudly announce

“ Reducing the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050”

. I am all for reducing carbon dioxide and other 'greenhouse gas' emissions. However this should be done in a sensible way and not in a rush simply to meet targets set up by organisations that don't represent the real people on the street. Where is the sense in forcing the majority of the population into fuel poverty by shutting down our existing coal fired or power stations and not replacing them with modern clean burning ones? We have plenty of coal and I do not see how we can afford to completely ignore this fact. This would give us Energy Security in the short and medium term while renewable forms of electrical power generation are brought online.
The ministry's website also proudly proclaims -

“Through international relations and supporting the energy industry, the government will ensure a continuous supply of energy for the UK. “

If by this they mean more foreign interventions and brown nosing leaders of nations which are intolerant and undemocratic I'll take our coal fire generated electricity any day.


Projects such as the Severn barrage which utilise tidal power should be brought forward and projects like the 'high speed rail link' which will consume even more energy and produce even more carbon dioxide should be dropped. Let's hope some people with real vision get into government and make government work for the people and not for the corporations. There are just too many manequins at the helm.

Stuff made in Britain


I have decided to compose a list of companies which actually make stuff here in the UK to help raise the profile of British manufacturers. My aim is to get people to think more about supporting local home grown businesses which are creating real sustainable jobs in the UK. I think  buying things manufactured in the UK will also help reduce the throw away culture we have become accustomed to in the last couple of decades.  Buying a slightly more expensive quality garment and wearing it for several years will hopefully become fashionable again. I'll add to it in a couple of weeks.


Jewellery and Accessories


fine jewellery and artwork saleVicky Davies

All her work is made in the UK and Vicky feels passionate about

supporting local industries.  Visit fine art and jewellery saleVicky Davies to see her latest collections and a list of stockists where you can purchase her delightful jewellery.

Cabinet  fine jewellery for salefine jewellery and artwork for sale

Zara and Gemma of Cabinet make beautiful jewellery, little pieces of luxury with intrinsic value as they so aptly put it. You can view samples of their work here as well as find out where to buy.

Matilda and Quinn fine jewellery and artwork for sale

have a fine selection of British made jewellery too.


Lingerie and Luxuries


Kinky Knickers beautiful lingerie and clothing for sale

Kinky Knickers by Mary Portas. Working tirelessly for British industry, Mary Portas  has launched her fabulous range of laced knickers.  beautiful lingerie, clothing for sale

Visit the Liberty Store to view her creations which are elegant with a dash of sauciness.


Heyland & Whittle scents, fragrances and skincare products for sale

A husband and wife team who creating a range of wonderful summery fragrances, soaps and other such luxuries all made to evoke the glory of a hot English summer's day in your person and home. Visit their website or find them at John Lewis and other stockists.


ILA luxury skin care and spa products for sale

ILA are a UK manufacturer who create Luxury Organic Skincare, spa products and treatments using ingredients sources form remote untainted regions of the globe.




Happy Sofa sofas for sale, fabric sofa, leather sofa

Happy Sofa are a local manufacturer of quality sofas based in London . Their mission is quite simply - to make the living spaces of Britain happier places!


Villager Stoves villager stoves, wood burners and multi fuel stoves for sale

British built stoves, keeping the nation warm. I can't recommend them highly enough as I have one of their double door multi-fuel stoves. It has being going for years and the front glass stays very clean using their excellent air wash design. Excellent quality – if you are thinking of getting a stove, get a Villager!


Lumley Designs lumley designs ironwork, cast iron and wrought ironwork for sale

Lumley Designs is a family run business established in 1998 specializing in stunning authentic best of British designs to suit everyone's requirements. Headed by designer and founder Robin Lumley, they create stunning designs in ironwork.


John Lewis  Cutlery for sale

John Lewis are doing a range of British made products. They do fitted kitchens, sofas and beds, office furniture, Arthur Price cutlery, lampshades and more.




Dr Martens 

shoes for sale, Doc Martens shoes for sale

Aka Doc Martens are doing a certain number of shoes and boots manufactured in the UK including the very elegant looking Steed Shoe.


New Balance new balance UK range of shoes for sale

New Balance are doing a UK manufactured range of sports shoes in their UK Collections. Check their website for a list of stockists or to order online.




Turtle Doves turtle doves hand warmers and other fashionable knitware for sale

Kate, founder of Turtles doves is recycling old jumpers and other unwanted clothing to make turtle doves, scarves, blankets, shawls and much more. They also give old jumpers a new lease of life where possible. I am sure her store will grow in appeal to those of us who are keen or recycling and who want to reduce our environmental footprint whilst wearing something stylish at the same time.


Matilda and Quinn matilda and quinn apparel, dresses, skirts, jackets  for sale

They produce all their work in England supporting British craftsmanship. Visit their apparel boutique to see and by their elegant range of women's clothes. They manufacture some wonderful jewellery and accessories too.


Private White V.C – Mens Clothings private white vc designer mens clothing for sale

Inspired by clothing worn by Private White V.C this Manchester based manufacturer

produces a range of quality men's clothing.


Made in Britain.

The BBC are following a British couple, Emily and Guy, who are going to spend an entire year during which they will only buy, use and consume goods and produce made and grown entirely in Britain.

Click here see this on the BBC site



I am sure many of you upon reading this, will like me wonder if this is really practical or even possible today and not simply a stunt to make a TV program and some money in the process. This is further reinforced by Guy thinking that he can make a mobile phone from scratch after he had fun building valve radio. While I whole heartedly applaud Guy's efforts in making a working radio he will find that it is impossible to source the parts required for a mobile phone that are actually made in the UK, namely semiconductors and other electronic components such as the touch screens.

We used to make a lot of clothes in the UK as recently as three decades ago. St. Michael being a famous British made clothing brand launched by none other than Marks and Spencers was world famous. But as Emily herself says, it is very difficult to find clothes made in Britain today. She highlights the difficulty in identifying the country of manufacture, which the suppliers/importers of these foreign garments seem to go to great lengths to obfuscate from the consumer.


This is at the crux of economic woes of Europe today. That we are making so little of stuff that we could easily make in the Europe or even Britain.


Even the bastion of european manufacturing like Germany is not immune to the phenomena of importing a lot stuff from outside Europe such as clothes. But an even more worrying trend is that some Germany companies like Osram actually manufacture light bulbs in China! Have we really got to a stage where we in europe can no longer make our own light bulbs cost effectively? I don't think this is the case. It is simply the deregulation by european governments which has allowed companies to close factories in europe and move manufacturing to China and elsewhere. What this means is loss of real jobs in Europe especially for the younger generation. The only beneficiaries are the Corporate shareholders and direct importers/retailers of these goods which are sold to us, Joe Public in europe at grossly inflated prices for immense profits.


While in many cases Joe Public in europe would appear to benefit from cheaply Chinese manufactured goods for example, by the fact that is more choice. However, I argue that there is a cost. Namely, creation of a throw away society which has lost the ability to be creative and and use existing goods and technologies in innovative ways. One can argue that by that having all of these of foreign manufactured goods literally dumped on us has led to demise of imagination of children and limits their curiosity of our world, and their desire to make/invent stuff for themselves.


If we want to have creative children and support the economy of Europe and Britain in real terms,

we need to approach the problem from two different directions. First of all, we the need to nuture our children to reuse stuff in meaningful and problem solving ways, encouraging them to invent stuff.


Secondly, we as consumers need to ask ourselves each time we make a purchase a couple of simple questions – who is benefiting from our purchase and how is our purchase benefiting them. Only then maybe will there be some hope of having a real manufacturing base flourish again in Britain. I don't think we can manufacture all that we need but I am sure we can make a lot more stuff in the UK for close to the prices that we are paying to have them made in China. A lot of Chinese made products are dumped in the USA and Europe due the surplus quantities created in China due to both a lack regulation and unsustainable/environmentally disastrous manufacturing processes.


I think many British people like Emily, Guy and myself would not mind paying a bit extra for quality British made goods because we know it is creating real and sustainable jobs here. Just for the record, I am happy buying American manufactured goods as well. Love my Schott jacket 🙂 Let's hope more consumers with ask these two questions when they spend their money.


And to conclude, I'll leave you will an link to an interesting read about why all is not well with the status quo.



Mad about BitCoin!

BitCoin User

Bitcoin is the virtual currency that has now been around for a few years. BitCoin cryptographic money which only exists within the internet as binary code and allows for the valid monetary transactions between organisations and individuals without any central control. These Bitcoin transactions are beyond the reach of the existing banking cartel who has a stranglehold on the world economy.

While I can't see Bitcoin replacing fiat currencies (i.e currencies backed by governments), as BitCoin is not something tangible in the real world. This because BitCoin is not backed up by high value physical assets such as gold or property (currency your classic bricks and mortar). Rather the replacing them, I see Bitcoin working alongside these fiat currencies for the foreseeable future. What Bitcoin can certainly do, is provide an alternative replacement currency to money that's already in circulation.
One thing that concerns me, is what will happen if existing fiat currencies were to collapse tomorrow. This is because the value of Bitcoin is linked to the existing real world fiat currencies namely the Euro and the US dollar. While the Bitcoins system caps the total number of potential Bitcoins at 21 million, to guard against inflation and ensure a rising currency value, this value is ultimately linked to the value of existing fiat currencies when you redeem your Bitcoins into these currencies to do business or or move it into a what could be considered a more secure, central bank type of account. Which brings me neatly, to my second concern with using Bitcoin, namely security.

BitCoin theftsOver the last couple of years, several Bitcoins exchanges have been hacked and the clients' Bitcoins stolen. Such attacks and thefts will only increase as the popularity of Bitcoins becomes more widespread. Unlike the Central Bank there is no guarantee that you will get all or even some of your money back.
What is needed now is for businesses to implement Bitcoin as a means of their handling business of sales transactions. This is entirely feasible today. Businesses can make huge savings by bypassing bank charges and transaction charges as imposed by payment processing organisations such as PayPal, who charge exorbitant transaction fees. Bitcoin gets rid of these skimmers. The European Central Bank (ECB) recently, produced the first official central bank study of the decentralized cryptographic money known as Bitcoin. They obviously see BitCoin potential to undermine manipulation of the ecomomy.
Here are a couple of links to learn more about Bitcoin,
to MTGOX, a BitCoin exchange that hosts online BitCoin wallets as well
and to BitMit where you can buy stuff with you Bitcoins.

External Filter pumps and the economy.

One of the reasons that the German economy is doing well and is inherently sound is because they are actually make things that we need -  from electric toothbrushes to aquarium filter systems. I bought a Eheim Classic 250 canister extermal filter to replace the original french Fluval 230 canister filter.

My Fluval became terminally noisy after 3 years. Replacing the impeller unit only solved the problem for about year before it finally completely packed up.

Eheim make really good pumps and filters at very reasonable prices. They are cheaper than the Chinese made units they try to flog you at aquatic stores in the UK. It's very sad, just to increase profit margins retailers here don't support UK manufacturing or even european manufactured goods. Remember that when you buy Chinese goods the gold is effectively leaving the country. I am not saying don't by Chinese goods per se, but we should first check if there is an alternative. Eheim provides real alternatives,  Eheim pumps and filters are very competitively priced and I wager, longer lasting than the Chinese equivalents. Fluval are manufacturing most of their stuff in China now.. .

You can buy Eheim pumps and filters from AquacaDabra , a good British company run by two sterling gents in Bexleyheath.  Don't go to Ebay, as Ebay adds it's own commission on top. Go to AquacaDabra directly where you can order online.

Here is a recent pic of my aquarium.  Angel is a bit lonely after the Slender Australian Rainbow fish - Randy,  passed away. He was a lively character. I had him for 7 odd years.

The EU and the Euro – my take on an Guardian writer’s interview with RT

The EU and the Euro

I watched this interesting interview of the Guardian Newspaper writer, Aditya Chakraborrty by RT on the futures of the EU and the EU. Note my use of the pural – furtures. This is because like Aditya, I do not think that the future of the Euro and the future of the EU are the same thing.

Please watch this interesting interview and see if you concur of disagree with my conclusion which is broadly the the same as that of Aditya's.

The problem we have is that very many pro EU politicians  turned the EU into the mess that it is, (a financial and political union, incomplete and flawed) from what was then EEC – (which was a trading block bound together by trade treaties). These people are completely opposed to seeing anything threaten their vision of a United States of Europe.

The problem lies in the fact that Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor and others at the helm of the EU see any backtracking on the Euro as a threat to the United States of Europe dream.

As Aditya strongly suggests in the interview - if Greece, Spain, Italy and Portugal stay in the Euro, in it's current form, their economies will not be able to grow and will be be slowly strangled to death on two fronts–

1.firstly, because of their goods being uncompetitively priced under the single currency of the Euro.
2.and secondly, lack and deterioration of essential public services due to lack of investment caused by very severe austerity cuts.

What Chancellor Merkel and fellow proponents of the EU project have to realise and which is quite salient to myself, is that the Euro currency is not the European Union. The sooner they accept that the the flawed concept for United States of Europe project is now badly damaged and that bold decisions to be taken in order to solve the economic problems. These problems dog not only Greece but threaten all European economies including countries not in the Euro zone.

My own opinion, it hat the Euro should be split into two tiers, and countries whose economies need to devalue should move to the lower value euro. It will not be pretty. But simply pretending that Greece is the only problem economy in the EU will not solve the problem. And I for one want us to tackle our own problems in Europe and not have our countries owned by the Chinese and intolerant Islamic states by being bailed out by them. There is no such think as a free lunch.

Education – Whose Responsibility?

I found myself agreeing with the Senator of Oklahoma who on a television interview said this week, that education, law and order, national security are some the key things that a Government should be responsible for. Tom Coburn thinks proper funding in the US for education should be provided by the government and that  funding education via a lottery undermines virtue. I agree, as I can think of girls turning to lap dancing and such to pay their university fees.


Funding the arts and saving failing banks should not the responsibility of  Government. I completely agree with Senator Tom Corburn when he said  what should have been done was  was a social safety net put in place by the governments in the US and Europe  and to have allowed the casino bankers to have gone bust. Now what

our hapless – or complicit governments, who did not think the whole thing through have done, is create a huge debt for us and for future generations.


So in order to generate income they want to run the education system like a business and saddle students with huge debts like they have currently under the US education system. American university students leave university with a debt of a staggering $120,000 (dollars) on average! This is what our UK and other EU governments now want to follow.

Lisbon Student Protest


Education is not a business. It is an investment in the future of a country. A well educated population will generate economic wealth as well as create social harmony. So it the responsibility of a government to educate it's population.




While Education is not a Business,  I understand that a Government's budget is not infinite.

Education is not a Business


Have a look at this poster below from the London 2010 protests. The placard say 'Defend Every Course, Job an Service'.

London 2010 Student Protest

This is nonsense. While I want University education to be broadly free, I do think we have to wean out some worthless degrees like degrees in 'Media Studies' and 'Rock Stars'.


Today, in the UK many organizations cannot find graduates with the relevant science based degrees. At the risk of sounding like I am calling for the re-introduction of Salazar's elitist policies, I think degrees that provide students with real skills in the work place and for doing cutting edge scientific research should be promoted and be free of charge to students with capability. If someone wants a degree in 'Media Studies' let them pay for it themselves or do something else like a diploma that an employer would want. It was a mistake getting rid of our polytechnics..