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Comments on the world around us
The Coronavirus epidemic
Exceptionally, we have been providing a Weekly update on Coronavirus for Malvern Seniors relating how the COVID-19 epidemic is affecting the elderly and vulnerable in the Malvern Hills district.
This section of the website has been our place to reflect on life from a retired person's point of view, and comment on what we read in the press, and hear on the radio and television (TV). The reality is we haven't posted much here as we have often hesitated from commenting on issues of the day - mainly from fear of showing our ignorance and partly from fear of upsetting someone!
We often listen to Radio 5 and BBC 24 hour news, as it's easier and more immediate than reading a newspaper; but it has seemed to us that in recent years while the BBC has been good at pumping out headlines, it has been weaker on analysis and explanation of the issues. Or to put it another way, we don't sometimes understand what is actually going on, and would welcome the BBC's insight. An example has been the distressing wars in Syria and the Yemen where the situation has been very confused and it is the civilians, especially children, who seem to suffer most.
The British public's view of current affairs is probably to a large extent formed from what is heard on the radio, watched on TV and read in the newspapers reinforced by social media, and who knows if people are being told the truth, given a biased view, or being presented with fake news. It seems also that possibly homo sapiens is more easily brainwashed than we had previously thought, as evidenced by many cases of individuals being influenced by extremists to blow up themselves and innocent members of the public too.
On balance it appears that Britain is a more physically comfortable place to live in than it was in the 1950s. Many people have warmer homes, a better welfare system, better medical care, and there is less racism. On the other hand there seems to be less freedom of speech, and people, especially politicians, are hesitant to say anything that might be thought politically incorrect or unpopular. Poverty and drugs remain an issue and there are still sections of the community who live in difficult circumstances
We wonder how many modern families are able to benefit from the support an extended family can bring; for example when brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and grandparents are sufficiently near to provide a mutually supportive network.
The Scottish Referendum
The referendum on Scottish Independence in 2016 was a close run thing, and we felt the quality of the debate was poor. We wondered why Prime Minister David Cameron held it.
We thought all was done and dusted but the subsequent vote to leave the EU has reopened the matter, as it has the Northern Ireland issue.
The quality of the EU referendum debate was little better than that of the Scottish Referendum; Prime Minister David Cameron said bad things would happen if we left the EU, so why on earth did he hold it?
Seemingly the EU Referendum was held solely for short-term Conservative party political purposes, not for the good of the country but to deflate the UK Independence Party (UKIP) vote; it did this but leaving politicians with the problem of dealing with the vote in favour of leaving the EU.
Immediately after the vote we expected the majority of politicians who had been largely in favour of 'remain' would in one way or another vote not to leave the EU, despite the referendum outcome.
However most seem more concerned about not upsetting the public, and retaining their seats in parliament, and so the bitter argument continued in 2018 with no clear view as to whether we would leave or eventually remain.
In our opinion, it was partly the EU, by stubbornly rejecting David Cameron's request for more flexibility over immigration, that precipitated the British EU Referendum, and the vote in favour of BREXIT.
The EU appear just as inflexible in BREXIT negotiations, so perhaps it is a good idea we leave.
Postscript: we wondered if Kier Starmer won the election in December 2019 he would negotiate to rejoin the EU, but the Conservatives won led by Boris Johnson, so we are definitely out of the EU and will have to make the best of it.
The war in Syria and the surge of refugees from Africa and Asia attempting to enter the EU has become a major problem on a scale that European politicians have never before experienced in their lifetime, and they do not know how to deal with. It's worrying that universities and best brains in Europe have not, so far, been able to point the way to go.
Did David Cameron make matters worse by bringing down the Gadaafi government leading to instability in Libya? Foreign Secretary William Hague initially seemed to support the rebels in Syria fighting President Assad. Both men have now gone and who knows, in a fast moving world, whether their interventions made matters better or worse; perhaps universities will study these events and deliberate about them in 100 years time. Russia has since filled the vacuum, supporting Assad, bringing the conflict to a bloody end.
The TV coverage of the British Olympics in 2012, EU Football, Wimbledon, Grand Prix events, and the 2016 Rio Olympics has been marvellous. Well done to everyone involved. Some sixty years ago we thought that black and white TV with 405 line resolution and two channels was pretty good. We are spoilt now!
The remakes of Goodnight Sweetheart and Hancock were really funny. Perhaps we could have some more?
The Russian Invasion of Ukraine
Despite troops massing on the borders of Belarus and Russia no-one thought President Putin would invade Ukraine yet on 24th February 2022 he did. The British media and opposition MPs were more concerned with Partygate and whether the PM held gatherings two years ago which might have broken lockdown rules, and were blind to what was going on. Pundits expected Ukraine to be smashed by Putin's Heavy Armour if they did not surrender and that is what has happened - towns and cities have been seriously damaged if not destroyed. Yet the Ukrainians have put up a heroic resistance slowed the advance of Russian forces.
President Zelensky of Ukraine has asked for NATO help, but President Biden is scared of Putin and NATO has said it will not become directly involved despite thousands of dead on both sides and millions of people being displaced. So we will just have to wait and see what happens. Meanwhile we have started a simple war diary:
Here are links to other Blogs.
Observations on some apps that didn't work, but do now.
In 2021 Microsoft started rolling out Windows 11.
Many older computers can't be updated to Windows 11, but don't worry as Windows 10 should be supported to 2025.
Our experience of BT Broadband and upgrading to BT Infinity.
We are only getting 11 Mb/s from BT Fibre to the Cabinet, whilst Airband is installing faster Fibre to the Premises in rural areas such as Guarlford. It's a mixed picture.
The SWDP has been delayed by the Coronavirus Pandemic.
Last updated 16th March 2022