Morning everybody, a little damp this morning. I had a surprise when I was eating my breakfast, there appeared to be a policeman in the kitchen. However, it turned out to be Bozzie dressed up for a trip to Liverpool where he was going to accompany the police on a drugs raid. At least his police beanie hat kept his hair under control.
Yesterday evening I heard a lot of noise coming from the general office so I popped in to see what was happening. They had the Grand Prix on the big screen TV and what a crazy race it was two red flags, 3 safety cars, numerous crashes and now the leading contenders on the same number of points as each other with Verstapen as number one as he has won one more race with one race to go. If Verstapen was to “accidentally” take Hamilton out he would be champion. Am I a cynical old cat for thinking that?
I read that the 16 Regiment Royal Artillery has started to replace its Rapier air defence missiles with the new Sky Sabre. It is said that it will be able to hit a tennis ball-sized object travelling at the speed of sound. Each launcher carries 8 missiles which have 3 times the range of the Rapier and can travel up to 2,300 mph so should be able to hit most things, even laser-guided smart bombs. Apparently, the system comprises 3 elements, the launcher, the radar and the computer control unit which can be located 15 km apart. The controls unit can track and attack 24 targets at the same time so it is a huge advance on the 1970’s Rapier. I only hope it is better technology than the Russians.
The USAF bomber force is said to be down to just 44 aircraft, a mixture of B52, B1 and B2s. The main reason appears to be a planned rundown has coincided with delays in long term maintenance and upgrades as well as delays in the B21 Spirit program. No wonder the USAF is desperate to re-engine its B52s. But in the meantime, I hear they are looking at modifying cargo planes such as the Hercules, so that bombs on pallets could be dropped from cargo ramps or to parachute launch cruise missiles. However, I understand that Boeing has looked at ways of converting many of the unused 747s into cruise missile carriers. The US Government put the programme on hold (along with many other things) but Boeing had plans for a 747 to be able to carry and launch up to 72 air-launched cruise missiles. Maybe now is the time to rekindle the project.
I have read an interesting article about a man who has bought an electric car but has not been able to get a cheap electricity tariff for charging it. The problem appears to be that the electric supply companies have decided that to benefit from the cheapest tariff the householder must have a smart meter. However, this particular householder lives fairly close to RAF Fylingdales and it has been established that smart meters interfere with the RAF station’s early warning radar hence no supplier can supply a smart meter. Consequently, the man is stuck with having to charge his car at the premium rate of 16.76p per kWh instead of the cheap overnight rate of 5p per kWh. What is really surprising about this tale is that the home in question is not right next to Fylingdales, but some 20 miles away. Were smart meters not tested properly?
Richard E Grant, the actor, has been having a bit of a moan about being quarantined in a 4 star Holiday Inn near Gatwick Airport. It was not the fact that he was quarantined that upset him but the quality of the food that he got for £228 a day. His main complaint was that a similar 4 star Holiday Inn charged £89 a night for bed and full English breakfast so he was in effect paying £139 for lunch and dinner. I somehow suspect that if you had a look at the hotel’s normal menu you could have bought lunch and dinner for a lot less than that and have included a couple of drinks.
It appears that the animatronic T.rex at the Natural History Museum has been fitted with a giant Christmas jumper especially made for it by a company in Leicester. I hear the jumper is 12 times the size of a normal jumper and took over 100 hours to make. I quite like seeing people in Christmas Jumpers, but if anyone tries to get me into one I will put up one hell of a fight I will not be humiliated.
It’s looking a bit nasty out there today, rain, wind and not very warm. I shall be spending as much time as possible indoors today, I have a comfy chair near a radiator picked out and once I have been on patrol I shall be taking up residence.
I see the High Court has thrown out the attempt by the FDA union to get a judicial review of Bozzie’s decision not to sanction Pretty Petal over the union’s bullying accusations. The judges said Bozzie had acted entirely within the ministerial rules. Well, Bozzie is happy and the union unhappy, I wonder if they will appeal?
The MoD is looking to procure a small ship to support development of an autonomous ship. They have issued a specification for a new vessel of around 500 tons. It should be of steel construction with a draught of 3.5m, top speed of 20 knots, a range of 2500 nautical miles, a crew of 6 and with the ability to tow small boats such as RHIBs. The idea is that it is expected to cost around £9 million, it will be able to dock and undock unaided and have a digital autopilot. Its main functions such as propulsion, steering and gearbox will all be controlled digitally. The idea is that the ship will eventually be able to be operated unmanned. Is this the way the Royal Navy is going in the future, unmanned warships?
The USAF is, I hear, having second thoughts on the F35 stealth fighter aircraft. In practice it has proved to be a remarkable aircraft when operating at a standoff distance. Its sensors, digital links to other aircraft and drones and stealth abilities are a huge plus. However, it appears to be a bit down on speed and manoeuvrability. The USAF is considering whether it should look into a small, lightweight, highly manoeuvrable, very fast fighter that has some of the F35s digital ability but without the expensive bits like stealth so would be much cheaper. The new jet would be at the point of attack while the F35 remained out of sight, over the horizon and controlled the air battle. It sounds like a job for a supersonic drone to me.
Researchers at Newcastle University have discovered that if you are over 85 and drink more than 5 cups of tea a day you have better brain function and focus than those who drink less. The survey also revealed that those tea drinkers also, on average, lived an extra 18 months, had half the risk of a stroke and a fatal heart attack. The research also suggested making the tea by pouring boiling water onto a teabag and then popping it in a microwave for a minute to extract the full range of ‘catechins’ from the teabag. If drinking tea stops you getting stroked I shall not be drinking it.
Today I heard that Canada has a serious problem in that it has a major shortage of major syrup. Not a problem that I expect bothers Britons that greatly as we are not major users, but if you are American and want it on your breakfast pancakes then I guess you might not be happy. It seems that a surge in demand for maple syrup has forced The Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers (QMSP) to use their strategic reserve. They have released approximately 22 million kilograms of maple syrup to the market. Canada produces 75% of the worlds maple syrup. The trees it comes from can only be tapped when the tree’s temperature falls below 0°C overnight and rises above freezing during the day. Apparently the shortage has of syrup has been caused by the weather not reaching this criteria.
The band ABBA have announced that they are suing the tribute band ABBA MANIA for trademark infringement. Apparently the original ABBA object to the tribute band using phrases like “original” and “official”, claim they confuse the fans. ABBA are said to have not wanted to take legal action and suggested that the tribute act could change their name or use the phrase “tribute act” on their advertising but they didn’t accept those suggestions. I will be keeping an eye open for the result of the case.
I hate these mornings when it doesn’t get light very early, I want to stay snuggled down in my cat basket but know I have to get up when Bozzie is moving about as my breakfast will be out. If I leave it too long the Mutt will try to scoff it! Bozzie was not very happy this morning, in fact I would go as far as to say he was livid. He was moaning about “that bloody woman”, who I gather was seen giggling on a video, and swearing he would be shooting the person who leaked the video.
I hear that a major report says the most congested city in the world is London and the main reason is the introduction of so many cycle lanes. Where have all these cycle lanes come from? Well, it seems it is the policy of Sad Dick and Transport for London. The idea is to get people onto bikes, “for the good of their health” and improving air pollution. What the cycle lanes have actually done is increase pollution by reducing the road space available to motor vehicles and making traffic run more slowly and pump out more NOx. Another recent report pointed out that if buses could run just 1mph quicker on average TfL would save £200 million a year in operating costs. In converse, I wonder how much the cycle lanes have slowed down buses and cost TfL money?
So Pfizer say that two doses of vaccine are less effective against the new Omicron Covid variant than against the existing Delta variant. However, a third dose restores its effectiveness to the same level as against Delta. I find this very interesting as over 35% of people in the UK have already had a third dose, a number that is increasing by around 350,000 people a day. Could it simply be that Pfizer is trying to push its overseas sales to new levels? It can’t be the case in the UK as we have already got the doses in stock and we have already ordered two more years’ supply. Mind, I do read that Pfizer say they can have the vaccine reformulated to be more effective against Omicron by March.
Talking of Covid vaccine, I hear that the two Chinese vaccines, CoronaVac and Sinopharm, are rapidly waning in their effectiveness against the Delta variant, I have not heard anything about their effectiveness against Omicron. The Chinese vaccine has been used in billions of doses in the likes of China and Brazil because it is cheap. I did hear that the Chinese spies had attempted to obtain the formula of both the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines and had failed. It would seem that what they have managed to manufacture internally is inferior.
I understand that the opposition has come up with a new tacit today of delaying votes in the Commons by deliberately blocking a lobby and obstructing the tellers. The deputy Speaker got most upset mainly with the SNP who apparently also hid in the toilets to delay votes. One of the SNP MPs continually tried to raise points of order and was told if he did not sit down he would be thrown out. Pity he wasn’t, but the deputy Speaker refused to allow numerous SNP interruptions which was lovely.
I was delighted to read that OneWeb are to move the production of its satellites from the US to the UK. In a huge boost to the UK’s aerospace industry, the company will be spending £2.2 billion. What is not clear yet is where exactly the satellites will be built and by whom. They are currently being built in Florida by a manufacturing joint venture with Airbus. The 588 planned satellites should all be in orbit by the end of next year and the satellites to be designed and built in Britain will be the replacements for these when they need replacement in 6 or 7 years time.
The Israelis are believed to have been responsible for attacking numerous containers in the Syrian port of Latakia in the early hours of this morning. The port is on the Mediterranean in the small section of coastline that is Syrian between Lebanon and Turkey. The containers exploded in a spectacular fashion and were said to be packed with armaments bound for the Syrian military from the Iranians. As usual, the Israelis have been silent on the events but they are not averse to attacking military targets in Syria and the Syrians claim it was an Israeli Airforce attack.
Still not so warm, but that awful wind has at least gone away, so I was able to stroll down the garden this morning without having to rush. Bozzie was still not a happy bunny when I last saw him last night, he said he had been badly let down by No 10 staff who misled him. Austin Allegra resigned yesterday, but according to what I hear she won’t be the last to go.
I now know why Bozzie has been so grumpy these last few days, he has been waiting for the call to rush to hospital as the Little Otter was about to sprog. The news this morning is that he is now the father of a baby girl. I can only see a little princess in the image of the Little Otter. Another step down the No. 10 pecking order for your intrepid cat reporter. The Little Otter even puts the Mutt ahead of me, but Bozzie and I both know that is wrong, the Mutt is under me.
I told you on Monday that actor Richard E Grant was making a fuss about the food in his quarantine hotel. Perhaps he should have kept quiet as all his shouting has alerted the underworld to the fact that he is out of circulation and thieves have taken his 4×4 and used it in a robbery. I hear he was woken up by a call from the police at 4 am informing him that the car had been used in a ram raid on a Tesco Express. I hope all the alarms on his home are working as advertising you are not at home like that is an open invitation to crooks.
I read that the US military is looking for a method of launching hypersonic missiles and has turned to the good old B52. I find it strange that once again the US has turned to this aged plane in its time of need. I can hardly believe that the last of the 58 B52H’s still on the active list rolled off the production line in 1962. Yes, I know it has been well maintained and regularly upgraded but the airframes are at least 60 years old! The US is playing catch up with the Russians and Chinese and has so far spent $480 million on the hypersonic AGM-183A programme with only limited success. In its first test, the missile refused to separate from its underwing point. The second test went a bit better when the missile successfully undertook a test to check that its systems could be programmed over a digital link from the ground. The latest test had the missile successfully detach from under the B52’s wing but it engine failed to ignite. Things can only get better!
Back in 2012, the pilots of US F35s complained that their helmets gave off a distracting green glow when in night vision mode. In other planes the night vision cameras transmitted their pictures onto a screen, however the USAF had opted for an all singing all dancing helmet for F35 pilots that projected the camera’s view onto the inside of their visors. It seems that this green glow can be most distracting and has nearly led to an accident on several occasions. It’s not as if the helmets are cheap, they cost in the region of $400,000 each. Collins, the manufacturers, are now on the mark 3 helmet and are apparently switching from an LCD display to an OLED display in the hope that the situation improves for the 302 USAF pilots flying these planes. I wonder if we are using the same specification helmet for our F35 pilots?
Scottishland fishermen are not happy with the Scottishland Parliament. The government want to build a new wind farm off Shetland in the middle of one of the richest fishing grounds. The fisherman have been tearing holes in a government report that says that not much fishing goes on in the area. The fishermen say that the report was restricted to bottom fishing only, while ignoring all other sorts of fishing. Not only that the report only looked at Scottishland boats and totally ignored boats from other parts of the UK, the EU, Norway, and the Faroe Islands. The Scottishland Government say this is part of a bold scheme to tackle climate change. I can see this one landing up in the Scottishland courts.
I bet my scribe was delighted to read that Totteringham Hotspurts (also known as the Spuds) have a huge outbreak of Covid. On Wednesday 9 first team players and 5 backroom staff had tested positive and it is reported that more tested positive later in the day. Consequently their match against Rennes from France tonight has been postponed. This has left the Spuds with a big problem. All the UEFA Europa Conference League fixtures are supposed to be played by December 22nd, when most European teams go on their winter breaks, but the Spuds have got 2 matches a week scheduled in that period. Looks like they are going to have at least one very busy 3 games week coming up.
Another sunny and cold morning, I understand that it is forecast to get a bit warmer in London on Sunday. I can’t say I will be sorry, despite my permanent fur coat I hate the cold. The very thought of having to struggle through snow makes me shiver.
Do you remember London’s “bendy buses”? I saw an article about what happened to them and it seems they are now spread far and wide. In some places they have been successful but in other parts they have been out and out failures. The over 400 that were running in London when Bozzie became mayor and scrapped them, have landed up as far away as Malta where they have been a failure. The good thing about them was their huge capacity, being able to carry 150 passengers, around double other buses. But this means they need to operate on high density routes in areas where their great length can manoeuvre. This was the problem in Malta, where 81 buses went. Not enough busy routes and lots of difficult city streets, that and a number busting into flames! In Britain they have been seen in Birmingham, Manchester and Brighton. The Brighton contingent have operated mainly on routes 25 and 25X which carry large numbers of students from the dormitory areas to the university using main roads. Consequently they have been a success here. It seems a case of horses for courses.
I understand that the latest version of the Renault Zoe has a safety rating of zero. The previous model rated Five. Why the big drop I hear you ask? It seems that the reason is that Renault has left out some of the safety features that were included in the previous model. The testers particularly commented in the omission of side impact air bags and in one of their standard tests indicated that by not having them the driver would have been seriously injured or killed. Why did they leave out these airbags, was it to save money and maximise profits, or as claimed “because the customer didn’t want them”?
We are all aware of the so called “supply chain” problems, so I was interested to read today of the Costamare Shipping Company placing an order for 6 large container ships and acquiring 6 bulk carriers. Although it will take a few years for the ships to be built it is obvious that there is a lot of demand out there for increased shipping availability. This order will take the Costamare container fleet to well over 80 ships.
I was a little surprised when I learnt that spam is growing quickly in popularity. Its sales have actually increased for seven years running. I thought that spam was an old product that became famous when tins of it were imported during the Second World War, but it seems I was wrong and world wide sales of spam reached $3.5 billion in the three months to October. Apparently it is still very popular in the US and in parts of Asia, particularly South Korea where spam, eggs and rice is a common breakfast dish. Apparently, spam was introduced to South Korea by US forces during the Korean War and is now a such a staple in the Korean diet that tins are given as Lunar New Year gifts. I would prefer a gift of either Felix Chicken or cat treats.
You may remember that I told you about the Italian dentist who tried to get his Covid jab in an artificial arm. Well, I hear that he has now had the jab so he can carry on working as all medical workers in Italy have to be jabbed. On a TV talk show on Wednesday, the dentist claimed that he wasn’t trying to dupe anyone because the silicone arm was so obvious, what he was doing was making a complaint at enforced vaccination. If you believe that you will believe anything!
It seems that for some unknown reason the population of many African countries have a huge reluctance to take the Covid vaccine. Some say it is the cost of the vaccine but this can’t be true as many of the doses have cost nothing, coming from western nations or via Covax. For example only 24% of South Africans are fully vaccinated and South Africa have cancelled orders for both Pfizer and Moderna vaccine saying there is no demand. But the worst African nation by far is Nigeria where only 3% of the population is double jabbed. They received 700,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine from the UK in August, and 800,000 from Canada in September, with a further 500,000 coming from France in October. They also got four million doses of the Moderna vaccine and 3.6m Pfizer doses from the US. Now I hear that over a million doses in Nigeria have been allowed to go out of date.
Well, I think it’s a tiny bit warmer this morning, maybe that’s because it’s cloudy today. I was a bit disappointed, but not surprised, when I entered the main office on my post-breakfast patrol to discover that we lost the test match. I did hope to get a bit more than 20 runs ahead. I hear the next test is a day/night match played with a pink ball. I hope we play some decent bowlers this time.
It all change on the trains this weekend with the winter timetable starting tomorrow. I hear things are a bit weird this year with some operators running a reduced service in the run up to Christmas, then there are all sorts of cuts due to engineering work in the period between Christmas and the New Year before the real winter timetable starts after the New Year bank holiday. Mind you if Covid kicks in again it will probably be all change again.
I hear that the Birmingham trams are going to return to service on Monday. In the month that the service has been suspended around half the cars have been repaired so services may well be somewhat limited but they should be slowly getting more normal as more cars are returned to service. In addition, they have also received several new trams from the manufacturers but these need to be tested before they go into use.
Word leaks down to me that the MoD is about to order a second tranche of F35s. We have currently received 24 of the first lot of 48 we ordered, but of course are down to 23 after one was lost in the Mediterranean after a failed take off, which has subsequently been recovered. The second tranche is rumoured to be for a further 12 aircraft. We originally intended to order 138 aircraft but this could well be cut back. The word I hear is that 80 would allow us to have 4 operational squadrons. The first 48 (well 47) are all supposed to be in service by 2025.
You might remember I told you that the Lockheed F35 was to be the winner of the competition to replace the Finnish fleet of F18s. Well, your cat reporter was right again. Finland today announced an order for 64 F35’s, various armaments and maintenance until 2035 all in a single $9.4 billion bundle. It comes to something when Finland has more F35s on order than the UK.
I hear that the Treasury has blocked the Whitehall plan to electrify Britain’s railways by 2050 on the grounds of cost. The plan is all to do with “climate change” and going “green” but at £30 billion was a step too far for the money men at the Treasury. The plan involved 12,500 km of track being electrified, 1,400 km being operated by hydrogen-powered trains and a final 1,000 km being battery powered. I wonder how many AAA batteries that will need? It’s all a bit difficult for the government who have already promised to remove all diesel powered trains by 2040. What is going to drive the trains when diesel is banned and the lines aren’t electrified, something is going to have to give? Oh, another thought, where is the electricity going to come from and if it is wind turbines and solar, do the trains all stop on windless days and at night?
My final story this week is for you adrenaline junkies. I hear that Thorpe Park has announced plans to build Britain’s tallest rollercoaster. The, as yet unnamed, ride would be 72 metres tall, that is taller than the current UK record holder, Blackpool’s “The Big One”, which is 65 metres high. If it goes ahead the aim is to start construction next year with it opening for business in 2024. I don’t think I’d be allowed to try it, I’m not tall enough.
That’s me done for this week. As usual I’m looking forward to my day off and it is supposed to get warmer tomorrow, once this rain has gone away. Chat to you all again on Monday.
© WorthingGooner 2021