I hope someone remembered to wake up Green Day. September has ended, and colder days are settling in. Welcome to the Meerkat Muse.
What awaits us in October?
She’s been Prime Minister for little more than a month, yet Liz Truss seems determined to eclipse even Boris Johnson for ineptitude. The mini-budget from Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng (which has been backed by the PM) benefits the billionaires and millionaires (many of whom have ties to the Tories, co-incidence?), and will not benefit millions of hard-working Britons, at a time when our energy bills are (needlessly) soaring. The Pound has crashed hard, at one point sinking to its lowest level against the Dollar in history. As of the end of September, the Pound was equal to 1.12 Dollars, and this small increase from £1.04 to $1 was being paraded as evidence of strength! There was a point, prior to the Tory shit-show of the last twelve years, when you could get two Dollars to a Pound. We’re a long way from that now.
Why is this bad for Britain? I’ll quote from this post in the Guardian, by Phillip Inman:
A weaker pound means the cost of goods and services that are imported to the UK are more expensive. That means price rises for UK consumers who buy foreign goods, and it means your money won’t go as far if you travel, in this case to countries that use the US dollar.
Oil is one of the key goods Britain imports and it is priced on international commodity markets in dollars. A weak pound will make filling up your car with diesel or petrol more expensive. Gas is also priced in dollars.
The UK also imports more than 50% of its food, so the cost of everything from courgettes to bananas goes up. There will also be pressure on companies that sell electrical goods such as iPhones to increase the retail price. The headline rate of consumer price inflation, which recently dipped slightly to 9.9%, would start to go back up again.
There you have it. On top of the other reasons for our prices increasing, the Tory mini-budget has wrecked our currency. It has further imperilled our pension and mortgage systems. It will equate to real-term pay cuts for many, even as the Tories allow bankers to rake in greater bonuses.
Ms Truss is a big advocate for the historically disastrous ‘trickle down’ theory. It’s the long-discredited idea that high-earners will inevitably spend more, and that spending will benefit the people lower down the ladder. In reality, this does not work. I’ve read many colourful takes on this idea, including the notion of putting £50 through a rich person’s letterbox, in order to help the homeless person nearby, and giving a rich person the money for a lavish meal, in the hopes you can lick their plate later on. Both examples very much sum up what Ms Truss and the Tories are doing.
What’s remarkable (stupid, insane) is that the Tories are bent on sticking to their ridiculous plan, even though as of the 29th of September, polls from YouGov placed Labour on a 33-point lead. In other words, if there was a General Election tomorrow, the seat count could look something like this:
Labour would have one of the largest majorities ever seen in UK politics. The Scottish National Party, despite only contesting seats in Scotland, would emerge as a bigger party than the Tories (well, it’s possible, though it’s also a fluid situation).
What’s pretty incredulous is how some Tories have tried to blame the falling Pound on the threat of a Labour government. The reason the Pound is falling, and therefore why so many might be ready to kick the Tories to the kerb, is because they’re crashing the economy, hurting the working class, and treating the British public with contempt! Labour’s predicted success is a consequence of Tory failure, not the cause! We’re not due an election until 2024, but enough public pressure might force the government’s hand.
It seems the weather has definitely nose-dived. The rain is back, and it’s making up for lost time. It’s that horrible wet rain, the kind that soaks right into your bones. Great. It hasn’t rained all the time, but I hate it when it does.
The other Sunday, my parents came down to see us, and they took my wife, daughter and I to a pub for Sunday lunch. This pub is great. It’s got an old-fashioned look to it, the atmosphere is always pleasant, and the food is always sublime. On this occasion, there was an added surprise, namely a magician! We’re talking tricks that I guess are fairly standard, yet nonetheless, always absolutely amazing to see up close. First, he had me pick a card, place a sticker on the card, write my name on the front of the card, and initial the sticker on the back. All pretty straight-forward, except when it came to peeling the sticker off the card, suddenly the sticker was part of the card, or so I thought. The back of the card itself was now the sticker!
Next, he had my wife, mum and daughter roll dice. We arrived at the number 14, and he counted out 14 cards, with the final card faced down. My memory is fuzzy, but in short, a card was predicted, and that proved to be the card.
His third trick involved my mother and I. We each had to think (but not say out loud) of a queen. The magician had two decks of cards, a red deck and a blue deck, and he not only guessed our cards, but when he revealed them, their colours on the back had changed.
Finally, he dazzled us with a Rubik’s cube trick. He had my daughter twist and turn the cube up at random, and then he hid it from his view. He’d earlier placed a cloth bag on the table, and he pulled from the bag a Rubik’s cube with the exact same arrangement! There are 43 quintillion possible combinations on a Rubik’s cube, so how he pulled off that trick, I have no idea, and it got weirder. He slid his sleeve up, and on his arm was a tattoo. A genuine tattoo as well, from what I could tell. It was of a Rubik’s cube, and sure enough, the faces we could see, matched the cube in his hand.
I am not easily impressed by magic tricks, but these were great, and I have no idea how he did it.
Climate and Carbon
I recently took part in a study about the climate. I can’t go into too much detail, but the study involved Zoom chats, and group projects, and it was pretty interesting. However, the study did show that some people are determined to see things through a deeply ideological lens. One guy repeatedly talked about a communist, Marxist agenda. He spoke of green energy was a con to tax us more, and to aid profits of energy companies (does he not see what they are doing now?). He even suggested that reducing carbon emissions would kill the planet, for it would apparently mean plants would not get carbon, and therefore die off.
For the record, the cycle of carbon dioxide/oxygen between animals and plants has been doing on long before humans existed, and reducing the emissions of all the carbon we’ve dumped into the atmosphere will not affect that cycle in any way, shape, or form.
My book is nearly here. My publisher has been in touch, advising that everything is set, and The Awakening will go into pre-sale soon, with the hope being an early November release.
Am I excited? You bet! This is the culmination of a journey that started back in 2019. I never thought I’d reach the stage where I’d be a traditionally published author, but here we are. I plan on getting a bottle of something special, to open on the 1st of November!
I am already working on the follow-up to The Awakening. I’ve written over 14,000 words, and alongside this, I’m working on something new. My dystopian story has taken a backseat, and will be revisited eventually, but this other project is a bit more quirky, and asks some (hopefully) entertaining questions.
It’s a Mario!
Waaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in 1993, Nintendo permitted a film studio to release a film based on the Super Mario Bros franchise. This film was a critical and commercial failure, and led to Nintendo buying back all the rights to their products. No one was going to tarnish their reputation.
Flash forward to a few years ago, and tentative conversations between Nintendo, and Illumination (the studio behind Despicable Me). Those conversations bloomed into something more, and for the first time in decades, Nintendo were willing to let someone make a movie out of Mario. The result is this:
This is beautiful. This is exactly what a Super Mario Bros film should look like. Yes, it’s only a teaser, and there is still so much that goes unknown here, but this film looks like it can live up to the expectations set by Detective Pikachu, and the Sonic movies.
Wouldn’t it be great to get some form of crossover?! Not gonna happen, but I can dream…
To the Max
Amidst confusion over points awarded, and a time penalty at the death, Max Verstappen confirmed the inevitable at the weekend. His victory at a rain-soaked, shortened Japanese Grand Prix (his 12th win of the 2022 F1 season) sealed his second World Championship. His performances this year have ben surreal. At some races, he started well down the grid, and still won comfortably. In Hungary he started 10th and won. In Belgium, he started 14th and won. In Italy, he started 7th, and won. Granted, Verstappen has had the best car, and granted, factors like safety cars need to be considered, but nonetheless, these performances (and more) have cemented Verstappen’s place as one of the best there is.
There will be doubters, who insist his success is down to having the best car. To that, I would say that historically, very few drivers have been competitive (much less winning races and titles) with anything less than the best (or nearly the best) machinery. It is also the case that the best drivers and best cars tend to be attracted to one another (unless you’re Fernando Alonso, who seems to repel good cars). The likes of Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna would have been the first choice drivers for any team, but they weren’t going to drive for the likes of Minardi, there is a reason they wanted to race for McLaren, and a reason McLaren wanted them. So it is with Verstappen. His patience with Red Bull has yielded dividends.
Speaking as a Lewis Hamilton fan, it has been a frustrating season. If I were a Charles Leclerc/Ferrari fan, I’d be super-annoyed with how Ferrari have repeatedly squandered winning opportunities this season. Yes, in the end, the Red Bull was a superior car, but several strategic blunders, along with mechanical woes and the odd driver error, scuppered what might have been a much better season. Instead, with four races still to go, there is a very real chance Leclerc won’t even end up second in the standings! Verstappen’s Red Bull teammate, Sergio Perez, is a point ahead of Leclerc, and looks up for it.
One thing is for sure, everyone will need to up their game, if they are to catch Verstappen next year.