Jamie's Notes


London Protests

More protests in London today. Sold as a peaceful protest against lockdown measures, but in reality just a bunch of cranks, racists and fascists wittering on about vaccines, masks, 5G and global cabals of sex traffickers.

Here are some quotes from the website belonging to the organisers:

ID2020 is an implantable digital chip being developed by the Bill & Melinda Gates foundation, proposed for all 7 billion humans to have, in collaboration with Gavi, the Gates Foundation Vaccine Alliance.

We are living in a state of authoritarian control.

5G is necessary for the infrastructure of 24/7 Surveillance Tracking & Implantable Microchips.

Fact check: none of this is true.

Interestingly, most of the ’sources’ used to support their alternative narrative are videos on YouTube – which is clearly doing a phenomenal job in preventing the spread of disinformation.

Yesterday, mixed in with the crowds, was a smaller group calling themselves ‘Freedom for the Children UK’. They carried signs emblazoned with ‘SAVE THE CHILDREN’ and ‘WHERE ARE ALL THE CHILDREN?’ – which sounds innocent enough until one of them opens their mouth:

Friends of mine have been on about the new world order for years, but I was asleep. It’s lockdown that woke me up. There are thousands of children being held in tunnels. A lot of them are underneath London. We have Trump to thank for everything that is coming out.

Mentalist, UK

This is the message of QAnon – the most batshit-crazy conspiracy of them all – that Donald Trump is leading a secret war against a network of satan worshipping child trafficking rings. Donald Trump, of all people. Give me strength.

Anti-vax and 5G conspiracy theories are not new to the UK. Andrew Wakefield became the father of the anti-vaccine movement when he wrote a paper suggesting links, which were later shown to be fraudulent, between the MMR vaccine and autism. The rise of QAnon in the UK is new, and it’s very worrying. It comes from the same line of anti-logic used in the middle-ages to justify tying up innocent women, throwing them into ponds and then burning them if they floated.

Years ago this crazy talk would have been limited to the local pub, or the crazy uncle at your annual Christmas gathering. Now it plays out to millions online, and pulls people in. Not just the gullible and the stupid, but also people who are scared – people who want to believe that there are simple solutions to complex problems.

Logic, reasoning & science once gave us herd immunity against stupid ideas, but our immunity is being eroded by social media, and now the stupidity is spreading faster than coronavirus.

Driving in Japan

James van Dyne explains how driving licences work in Japan:

There’s 3 different levels of license in Japan, green, blue, and gold. You get a gold license by renewing twice without (any?) infractions or accidents. Having a gold license will also entail you to a 10% discount on your auto-insurance. But if you get tickets with a gold license, they’ll move you down to blue on your next renewal. Even though I’ve been driving for over 15 years, my driving history in Japan is only 3 years, so I was on a green and am now blue.

James Van Dyne

That’s a neat system. We have a similar way of doing things in the UK. Infractions of the Highway Code will get you ‘points’ on your licence, which in turn result in higher insurance premiums. Minor infractions might get you three points, more severe ones up to twelve points and they take away your licence if you get twelve points in a three year period.

It’s nice that you are rewarded for good driving in Japan.

He explains a bit more about the process in his post, which appears to be as well organised as you would expect.

Jon Worth’s Brexit Diagram V5

Jon Worth is at it again, and has produced a flowchart of the messy possibilities and probabilities that may or may not result from recent government shenanigans. Spoiler: it doesn’t look good.

I’ve given any hope of being able to rely on predictions, but I’m pleased that Jon still has some faith in quantitive analysis.

Jon updates the diagrams as events progress, so worth bookmarking the page and watching for updates as things move along. His Brexit commentary is as good as his chart making skills.

R = 1.2

Kings College London and ZOE are performing large-scale research on COVID-19 symptoms among the general population. I’ve been taking part for a couple of months. It’s not that hard, you just answer a few questions each day, the boffins do clever stuff with the data, and in return they send you updates on what’s going on.

They estimate that R is now at 1.2, which is.. bad news.


It means that the virus is beginning to spread exponentially again. What that actually translates to is something I don’t clearly understand. We already know that an increase in infections doesn’t necessarily mean more hospitalisations & deaths. That’s probably because we know how to treat it better, and social distancing measures mean that people aren’t getting huge doses of the virus – but with kids returning to school and young people heading off to university, we might well be in a bad place in a couple of weeks time.

You can participate in the Kings College study by downloading their app: https://covid.joinzoe.com

By the coast

Ana, on tech-savvy privilege

Ana Rodrigues has written a lovely monologue on the problems that consumers of the internet face, and of how tech-savvy people, like you and me, are reaching the wrong conclusions on how we can fix it – if we can fix it at all.

…the “rage quit social media” is a privilege. I tried it once for three months and we were miserable. The moment we don’t have the same apps to communicate, things like MMS don’t seem to work well between different operating systems of phones. They just want to communicate with me like… everyone else is communicating with everyone else. They are not going to be involved in a discussion about ethics and privacy of social media. I can’t blame them. Why would they?

Having a blog is tech-privilege. I can make one. You can probably make one too. We are a tech-savvy minority. Sure, you could say that anyone can go and get one from WordPress. Easy, right? It’s not. I’ve watched people at work struggle to insert pictures in a word document. It involves knowing about WordPress, learning how to navigate through the sign-up, setting themes, post titles – the list is endless. Why do that when you can sign-up to Facebook, quick as a flash, and all your mates are there. Owning your content is hard. We do it because we can. Most people can’t.

I don’t have a Facebook account because I think they are a treacherous bunch of scumbags. It’s a moral stance, and arguably the right one – but in the grand scheme of things it makes fuck all difference to Facebook, and makes it harder for people to contact me who don’t even have the choice.

..when my parents bought that phone and were forced into a Google account, apps like Facebook and whatsapp were already installed. The majority of the people who didn’t grow up with the internet, especially those who don’t speak english, don’t know about browsers. To most people it is: “Look up on the internet”. And the internet is this thing and no app on their phone is called “internet”.

The problem is more complex than we think, and the solutions not what we think they are.

..things won’t be fixed by only creating your own blog and sending your RSS feed to your parents. Things won’t be fixed either by burning all the evil websites. The problem is much deeper as it isn’t just websites: it’s operating systems, it’s protocols, it’s hardware, it’s software, it’s design, it’s internationalisation and more.

Ana, you are so right.

Read the entire thing. It’s wonderful.

Incy Winsy Spider

There is a massive spider living outside our kitchen window. It has been there for about three weeks, busily building an enormous web. I’m glad it’s outside, because otherwise I would have to sign the house over to it and move out.

More in the archives.