A Brit in South-East Asia

Contributed by a British ex-patriot living in South-East Asia, and covering world news, news about British politics and news about Taiwan.

The views expressed are those of the contributor.

7th July 2024     Sell By Dates, email privacy, etc.

Sell-by dates. A good thing or a bad thing? In practice or in principle?

I’d rate them as a good idea, in principle, for meat, fish and dairy products. In practice: based on guesswork, at best (sometimes, evidently, on carelessness or plain lies ;indeed, ‘unfresh’ products that are within date range {= lest mildew covered} now seem to predominate). So, they’re about as trustworthy as a badly-stinking public toilet.

For fruit & veg? Would seem to be a good idea but, oddly, ‘missing’. Ditto bread and the like. Wonder why? Anyway, that’s here – and, naturally enough. Street markets and stalls are all excluded from any declaration. Progress marches slowly, so slowly. Well, all that is Taiwan. And locally, for you?

For pretty much everything else: a thoroughly bad notion, since most other things keep very well, if packed in an air-tight enclosure (and kept at a sensible temperature), even more so when vacuum packed … approaching forever. However, such consideration seems negative to yer average shopper. At a minimum, I’m inclined to think that manufactured/packaged dates would adequately suffice for such.

‘Freshness’. What does that mean, really? Is it good? Is it desirable or necessary? A chimera? What, on earth, does ‘fresh’ mean?

For Anita, ‘freshness’ has become some strange quality of water. (Like most other folk, we filter, then boil all water for drinking, even for doggies; it’s seemingly a necessary precaution here.) So much so that, for her, water for drinking must have been boiled ‘today’, though strangely that condition appears to slip away for bought-in bottled water. Water – well as they say in London, if you drink a glass of water there, it’s likely that at least one or two molecules from within that glass also passed through Dickens. And here, if you live in an apartment: all our water is stored initially in roof-top tanks, so some of it will have been there for many years, some of it for just a few hours. But it’s … ‘fresh’? Let alone if previously trapped in the water table for decades.

To me, ‘fresh water’ means drinking bubbling water (hence aeriated, oxygenated) from a point in a stream that’s high enough to ensure that’s its unlikely to have been a sheep’s toilet. But there’s no certainty, so just spit out what you don’t like, bits ‘n all! But that’s all long ago.

From email to incarceration and more

I have an American friend who always sends emails to me from his Apple (= iCloud) account. Hopefully he has other email accounts since I’ve just asked him to write to me from other accounts. Why? Well, two things that Apple refuses to reveal publicly but which have long been widely known here:

  1. All data that flows into/out of the iCloud via China are open to CCP snooping from one of Apple’s two data centres in China, which handle all China -originating and -destined transactions in/out of the iCloud, since the encryption keys are available to Chinese employees, and thus to security vetting by the CCP; and
  2. Since the CCP lays claim to Taiwan, then the scope of ‘China’ as Apple defines it for the CCP includes Taiwan (i.e., the Republic of China, as opposed to the PRC) though it's completely clear from UN Resolution 2758 (dating back to 1971) that the PRC has no sway whatsoever over Taiwan. As if Apple cares!

What’s different now? Well, recent Chinese legislation means that someone holding views such as mine could easily be detained in Hong Kong (for most international flights, Chep Lap Kok airport is the habitual transfer location) and deported to China, for long-term incarceration. That’s also been de facto true for quite a while; but AI means that messages sent via the iCloud could far more easily be intercepted and used against one, even historic ones. Of course, should China invade Taiwan one day and I’m still around then my future would perhaps be, er, rather limited.

And you think I like Apple? HaHa! For the reason above, as well as very many others. That’s America. Although China is far, far worse. I was tempted to include the text of an article in today’s (US-based, CCP-hating) Epoch Times here but, since its lengthy, here instead is a copy of it in translation:

The CCP’s practice of cynically concealing all info about disasters that impact the Chinese population – whether more or less naturally occurring or entirely as a result of murderous-intent/dreadful-workmanship – is a well-known, notorious habit, something that goes way, way beyond any ordinary political/diplomatic need for being economic with the truth.

The Taiwanese ‘bellow’

I’ve forgotten what it’s like in the UK, being around other people, that is. Here, it grates on me – frequently - when outdoors or in a shop and somebody speaks abnormally loudly. It happens often, far too often. Men, and especially but not only younger men, seem to shout in a horrible grating tone, a sound that eats into your hearing; and so many women, well they’re no better, speak as if their voice naturally cuts through concrete – at all ages. I loathe such behaviour. And yet … there remain some who speak sensibly and fairly quietly, just not enough of them.

The April earthquake in Taiwan

It was bad, as you may just recall. It was centred close to Hualien, off the east coast. Taroko Gorge is unquestionably Taiwan’s premier tourist destination - and a source of delight to many. The earthquake caused much damage there (it’s within a few km of Hualien), as per < https://www.taiwannews.com.tw/news/5894605 >, requiring several years to restore in places.

Mouse jiggling

On the one hand, I’ve absolutely no need for a mouse jiggler but on the other hand, at $11 from Amazon, then it’s a very tempting ‘must-buy’ 😊 to support mankind in faking productivity benefits to prying employers.

Local scooter riders – a menace on wheels

On the one hand, there’s younger folk who race down the local ‘high street’ at crazy speeds; then there’s the older set who pootle around as if they’re in a deserted wonderland where anything/everything goes as long as it ‘goes for them’. Sure, it’s only, say, 40% who are outright nutters but that’s way beyond any other country in which I’ve been.

A couple of weeks back, I was walking along a nearby narrow road, on the left, on the green-painted pedestrian ‘lane’; when an elderly, indigent woman on a scooter breezed past, literally brushing past me, wrong side of the road (they should drive on the right here), then continued on, thru the red traffic light, and into the main road, still on the wrong side of the road though keeping close to the edge of the road, then she parked, easing her scooter backwards (so pointing out into the road); and, as I walked in front of her (there’s no pavement there … pavement? Wotsdat?) she went to drive off out, i.e. thru me. I yelled at her, really loudly. She stopped, sort-of apologised.

And thus, from an article about traffic safety today:

“The study found that 84 percent of elderly people in Tainan [another Taiwanese city, on the west coast] rely on a scooter as their main mode of transportation, and 80 percent of use a scooter three days or more in a week.

Chen said that 6 percent of the monitored subjects had a known decline in cognitive skills, 8 percent had balance problems, 24 percent had vision conditions leading to attention lapses and were unable to control or reduce their vehicle speed in time, and 24 percent admitted to not having a scooter license, or it was already expired.

The research team said that Taiwan must face up to issues associated with having a super-aged society, recommending that the government create education programs to train elderly people about road safety.”

Train? The idiot who nearly rode into me required, at best, a full lobotomy – and that’s by far the politest diagnosis I could ever suggest. Quite simply, they’ve all ‘learned’ that if you’re on 2-wheels then it’s exactly equivalent to being on 2 feet, e.g. why stop, park and walk over to an ATM when you can ride up the pavement and never get off yer scooter? Am I kidding? Nope. Traffic cops? They’re about as useful as a dog turd in aspic.

Reading ‘material’

Sad to say, I’ve been binge reading Apple free books for the past few months; my ageing iPad makes it very simple to find free books, unlike my rather later iPhone where the same app is focused 150% on making the user spend money on salacious drivel. For 99/100 of such books, the literary quality of such stuff (mostly detective and paranormal stories) is hopelessly beyond abysmal. The detective stories nearly all follow the same, dreary, always-American plot about serial killers and childhood-abused girls who’ve become FBI agents; it’s truly appalling. As for paranormal, it’s sadly only a tad better – yet I’d long championed sci-fi (a parallel story-line) because, much like paranormal tales, they potentially offer some new variations on otherwise old themes. ‘Romance Paranormal’ stories are absolutely out of court since they’re simply soft-porn and, as I’ve learned recently, Apple’s category of ‘Paranormal Romance’ is, er, also very typically based on, would you believe, super-human, engorged slabs of human meat. All this vile - invariably highly detailed - repetitive crap is clearly targeted at teenage girls. Who on earth buys it? Hmm! Almost certainly American teenagers … I can’t believe it’s legal to distribute such endless obscene crap. And, it’s become ever increasingly clearer that Apple uses freebies to attempt to lock in readers to a seemingly never-ending series of paid-for smut. It’s more than high time I gave up and returned to Amazon’s paid-for-but-not-yet-out-of- copyright novels. Next is, maybe: The Golden Gate by Vikram Seth. Pity that the impressionable American teenagers almost certainly won’t, won’t be able, to follow suit.

Online translation

I’ve just seen this in today’s FT summary:

“AI industry races to adapt chatbots to India’s many languages.

Microsoft, Google and local start-ups aim to open up lucrative new markets in world’s most populous country.”

Do you have, really, any idea just how badly Google translates Chinese text? I well understand that it’s not easy. A few words, a phrase: yep, Google typically does it quite well. But … a block of text … well, Google usually renders it wholly incomprehensible – there’s maybe an exception if it was originally written in English. In short, much of the FT remains as ever … a pile of precocious, stinking pooh 😊.

And finally, I feel the need to be positive … and so …

…maybe, just maybe, Screaming Lord Sutch might be reincarnated and win the upcoming British general election … Hmm 😊.

3rd June 2024     Germany: The Problem With Europe

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2nd June 2024     I Want AI To ...

What I Want From AI

20th February 2024     America is driving Germany’s de-industrialisation

The USA's failure to keep their promises and support their allies is pushing Germany (once the powerhouse of the EU), and the rest of Europe, into recession (here on Unherd).

22nd June 2023     ID

I'd failed to realise just how far behind the times I've been getting ... s'pose that should be no surprise. To which end, I found this article about digital identity fascinating, also a little, hmm, troubling.


But such an approach does raise one niggling concern in my tiny. A phone can (does) fail: it can be broken, lost, stolen, run out of juice or, worse still, fail. Then what? Aagh. If it's used to validate any/every transaction that you do then its integrity becomes so much more important than any of the so-called Id documents that it's supposed to validate. And if you neither have, nor can readily access (e.g. if abroad), a recent backup (as well as a replacement mobile phone, which you probably wouldn't be able to buy when you really needed it because you couldn't validate a credit card) then, once again: you'd be totally screwed.

Indeed ... it could (would) make a mobile phone a very valuable item to steal and the hold out for ransom. Or have I just postulated an outline business model for a new, low risk (low penalty) criminal act?

Guess we'll simply have to wait for some sort of capability that's irretrievably embedded in the body ... sounds like another imperfect solution ...

22nd June 2023     Big G

The creativity of impertinent Chinese in ‘adapting’ their language for mischievous purposes rarely fails to impress …


8th June 2023     Remember 'the incident' at Tiananmen Square?

… well, it’s getting ever harder to read about it in Hong Kong, China too. Sure, it was a long time ago, -ish, back in 1989. In mainland China, most young folk have never heard of it: it’s been expunged from pretty much anything that they might conceivably come across unless they can manage to access the worldwide web – and their parents, etc., prefer never to talk about it thanks mainly to the risks of doing so.


[The CDT is a US publication carrying news that’s censored in China, in Chinese and targeting the Chinese diaspora.]

16th May 2023     Merely 'minor' felons .. so, what's new?

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Video was shared online earlier this week on Thursday (April 20) of a shooting outside a pawnshop in New Taipei’s Tucheng District which led to the arrest of a 17-year-old suspect.

During their investigation, police learned the Thursday incident was not the first shooting to target the pawnshop in recent days. Ten days previously, a separate shooting was carried out by another minor, who fired three shots from a handgun into the store. On Saturday (April 22), a 15-year-old suspect, surnamed Chu (朱), was taken into custody by New Taipei police as a suspect in the earlier shooting. Two accomplices, also minors [if under age 18 then they receive, Surprise!, much reduced sentences], were also arrested for their connection to the crime, reported here.

According to UDN, police suspect the shootings are related to gang activity and a turf dispute between a faction of the Bamboo Union and a gang identified as the Huashan group. In video of the first shooting, the young suspect, presumably acting on behalf of the Bamboo Union faction, is heard referring to the Huashan group as “trash.”

The young age of the suspects in both shootings leads officers to believe that older gang members orchestrated the attacks. Law enforcement officers will continue to investigate to determine the relevant facts of the situation. [Oh, Really?].

[And … ‘law enforcement officers will continue to investigate [diddly pooh] blah blah to … [>>> , ‘do the bidding of their superior officers to … determine] which junkie dared to make a mess in the public toilets … so, yet again, what's new? … Oh, so you think that 'Your rules' (i.e., of Right and Wrong) should apply? Ha Ha!.]

16th May 2023     Video shows woman bash Chinese hospital robot


I laughed myself silly when I read this, subsequently noting that …

  1. ‘The hospital was cited by the newspaper as stating that their initial assessment was that the woman was suffering from mental illness’ [face-saving lies are remarkably typical of slithery Chinese officials] and,
  2. a ‘Twitter user … pointed out that robots are increasingly being used to make doctor and medical appointments in China, leaving very few nurses to aid patients. "Many find it a frustrating process," wrote the author…’

24th April 2023     A pilgrimage

I thought that you might just be interested in this article: 'Annual Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage kicks off'.

Mazu (commonly translated as Matsu) is the name of a small group of islands – controlled by Taiwan but very close to the Fujian coastline and to the city of Fuzhou (Fujian is a province of the mainland); and the mainland is easily visible from the islands.

Moreover … Matsu is also the name of the country’s most revered sea goddess, the goddess of seafarers – and whose followers are spread across SE Asia, especially from the mainland. There is a huge statue to her on the main island of Nangan, dedicated to the legendary shamaness who lived in the 10C, although she was apparently born on an island that’s relatively close (about 100 miles) to present-day Matsu (where she reputedly died). There are many, many temples dedicated to the goddess Matsu, both in Taiwan and elsewhere; those temples are mostly registered as Taoist / Buddhist, some dedicated to her, others just featuring shrines to her. Worship of Matsu is effectively a cult within Taoism – and whether you consider that to be a religious commitment or simply a superstitious one, it’s very widely held here.

The English language article [here] is about the annual pilgrimage that takes place starting out from the Dajia Temple in Taichung (on the west coast of Taiwan). Evidently, the initial celebrations at the temple are a noisy and highly colourful affair.

The article includes a link to a lengthy video – I’d suggest that much of the first 20 minutes is worth watching, as a spectacle that's, er, rather different to anything western.

You might see that the final short paragraph of the article refers to 'Chang An-le' (aka The White Wolf) and the Bamboo Union. Chang is (formerly) a convicted criminal. And the Bamboo Union is not exactly ‘a union’ but … the country’s largest organised crime gang, a Triad if you prefer the term. Organised crime and temples, etc., all tend to 'go together'. Chang – a radical pro-China nationalist – is presumably one of the country's influential figures, with plenty of fingers into the world of politics and government. I'll conclude by suggesting that the small army of 'marshals' supervising the celebrations are all likely to be gang members. 'S a different world!

24th April 2023     Sun Moon Lake ...

Frog Statue Sun Moon Lake

… one of Taiwan’s premier tourism destinations – rather a lovely, inland lake (well, usually) surrounded by hills and the occasional, impressive temple looking down / out across the lake.

I've been there a few times, saw the top one or two frogs on a couple of occasions … but never the whole statue – a stack of nine frogs - revealed as a result of the drought that’s affecting much of the southern part of the country. Such a natty way to indicate depth.

20th April 2023     What the British say ... is not exactly what the British mean

What The British Say ...

14th April 2023     Xi Jinping: Grim Sentences For Civil Rights Lawyers: Xu Zhiyong and Ding Jiaxi

So, You can say more or less what you want to say, more or less anywhere you go. That’s something that You – and I – have long since taken for granted.

But … the largest country on earth does not permit such a ‘luxury’, even when what’s said falls within the rules of what one is ‘allowed to say’ in private.

Here, on the China Digital Times.

1st March 2023     Xi Jinping: "With Me in Charge, Failure is Guaranteed"

[This article explains it all:]

And, in Chinese … it is absolutely second nature to read such material from right to left.

As the article says “Many Chinese people’s real feelings towards Xi remain a mystery, due to heavy censorship and the threat of arrest.” Although undoubtedly true, there’s plenty of confidentially-disclosed testimony that very many citizens abhor both Xi and the CCP.

For transgressing the party line, ‘arrest’ customarily means languishing in prison for a few years without charge, with little or no visitation rights or even basic information re if/where incarcerated, without medical support even for life-threatening conditions, real possibilities of torture as well as significant harassment of family members – followed by a trial-in-name-only and a substantial prison sentence.

So … ‘schtum’ it is.

1st March 2023     Would you wanna live in China today?


China Digital Times (CDT) is an independent, bilingual media organization that brings uncensored news and online voices from China to the world. We introduce the perspectives of Chinese netizens; archive content that has been or is in danger of being censored in China [or that has already been almost-instantly deleted 😊]; and, through translation, make these voices accessible to the world. CDT’s companion site, China Digital Space, is a comprehensive, bilingual guide to online political discourse, state censorship practices, news events, and public opinion in Chinese cyberspace.

CDT is based in Berkeley, CA, but our team contributes to the site from across the globe …

Barbed Wire Mask

As you may see, it’s got nothing to do with American anti-Chinese propaganda (c/o CDS) - and which, on occasion (most, actually IMHO), may well be deserved - … … but it does indeed provide a valuable window via the internet onto CCP ‘instructions’ to local cadres and which, curiously, it seems the CCP does not encrypt (s’pose that may well be too taxing for many of the intended recipients).

In this particular case [and like so very many others >> 😊], of relaxing CoVID controls (thanks to very widespread condemnation and street-level protests), there’s absolutely no question that the CCP screwed-up royally; even the a***-l***ing WHO has more or less followed that line.

So, the real message behind this ‘instruction’ is fundamentally targeted at the intellectually-challenged part of Chinese society, merely a good few several hundred million. But … it does zilch to persuade then slightly more educated, more realistic and cynical members of Chinese society. But … do they count? Hmm …

15th September 2022     The Weakness of Xi Jinping: How Hubris and Paranoia Threaten China's Future

This article about Xi Jinping is quite a long one but ... in my view, truly fascinating, providing a good insight into his behaviour/regime.

Given the National Congress scheduled for next month in Beijing, then the timing of the article – and certain others of late - is certainly no coincidence


15th September 2022     Chartbook #150: Why "cheap Russian gas" was a strategic snare but not the secret to German export success.

You might find the article below interesting.

Seems to me that its focus on prices/costs conveniently tends to overlook the risk of over-dependence … still, perhaps that's simply encapsulated within the title. But … could they be related? Hmm.

Right now German grand strategy is in the crosshairs of criticism. Germany is faulted for having appeased Putin. It is faulted for having neglected the Bundeswehr and on top of that, the Federal Republic is facing an energy crisis like none other in its history. Gas deliveries from Russia have been severely curtailed if not halted altogether, exposing the dependence of German energy consumers - both households and industry - on pipelined gas from the East. Critics of German strategy point out that the risks of dependence on Putin should have been obvious at least since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. And despite that, the share of Russian gas in German consumption continued to increase not decrease. At the same time, Germany phased out its nuclear reactors and failed to accelerate the energy transition, leaving itself even more vulnerable.

As the cold weather of the autumn and winter approaches, Berlin faces not just an acute functional problem, but something akin to a legitimation crisis, a situation which I analyse at some length in the speech I was honored to give in memory of Willy Brandt in Berlin last week [the video (in German) is here].

It is easy, and not just with hindsight, to find fault with German strategy in recent years - (whether Germany’s failings are really more egregious than those of neighbors like France and the UK, is a matter for another post). But if you really want to land a knock out blow on the German success story you do not simply argue that they got things wrong with Nord Stream 2. You argue that the entire image of German economic success that has overshadowed Europe in the last twenty years, is a mirage sustained by reliance on cheap Russian gas.

If the recent success of Germany Inc and the social market economy that rests on it, are, in fact, owed to naive [sic] deals with Putin, it would force us to rewrite the history of Europe in the last quarter century.

The idea that cheap Russian gas is the secret sauce behind German export success circulates widely in forums like twitter often in explicitly anti-German form. It can also be found in casual throwaway lines, such as the comment by Zoltan Pozsar quoted recently by Rana Foroohar of the FT:

“war means industry”, be it hot war or economic war, and growing industry means inflation. This is the exact opposite of the paradigm we've experienced for the last half century, during which “China got very rich making cheap stuff . . . Russia got very rich selling cheap gas to Europe, and Germany got very rich selling expensive stuff produced with cheap gas.”

Natural Gas Prices

Schadenfreude aside, there is an obvious appeal to such a narrative. Hubris gets its comeuppance. The unctuous narrative of German superiority through hard work, clean government and frugal living, is turned on its head.

But, is it true? When you start digging, it is striking how little evidence is offered for the “cheap Russian gas” thesis. Of course, high gas prices are currently crushing German businesses and BASF is screaming that the survival of the chemical industry in Germany is in question. Talk of deindustrialization stalks the land.

But it shouldn’t be surprising that BASF is talking its book. And the fact that a historic spike in energy prices causes problems for energy-intensive industries in Germany does not prove that low energy costs obtained by backroom deals with the Kremlin are responsible for the existence of the industry in the first place, or its competitive success in recent year [sic]. The influence of the industry and its short-sighted cost-cutting no doubt helped to create an infrastructural dependency, but that tells us little or nothing about sources of competitive advantage before 2022.

As Daniel Gros pointed out in August, if cheap gas from Russia had been a major factor in Germany’s recent economic development you would expect the country to have a high level of gas-intensity in GDP. The opposite is the case. Germany’s gas-intensity of economic activity is about half the global average.

It is less surprising to find that the German economy was quite efficient in its use of gas when you realize that since 2008 gas costs in Germany have been far above those in the US and marginally above the European average. Thank you to André Kühnlenz for this handy graphic [right].

You can pull the European data from Eurostat here.

It is true that German gas prices are “cheap” compared to what businesses pay in Japan, where all gas has to be imported in the form of LNG. But compared to the bonanza in the United States, German gas prices have never been anything other than expensive.

Admittedly, the aggregate data compiled by Eurostat will not capture the kind of premium deal that a customer like BASF can command from its favored collaborator GAZPROM. So, let us allow that German industry may on average achieve somewhat better prices than the European average, how much difference could this possibly make to the competitive position of its exporters?


First of all let us remind ourselves of the structure of German exports [right].

Unsurprisingly, German comparative advantage is not generally in sectors where cost is the dominant factor. But, cost is always one element in a deal. However high the quality of German goods, the price matters. So, how big an issue are energy costs for Germany’s industries, not in an extreme year when gas prices have gone through the roof, but in the normal times before 2020 when Germany racked up its triumphs as the export champion of the world?

Figures for energy intensity are very revealing [below].


For German manufacturing industry as a whole, energy costs amounted to 5.8 percent of gross value added. In the leading export sectors like motor vehicles and engineering the share was 3 percent. Though gas and electricity are indispensable and you cannot operate industrial processes without them, like other essential inputs such as protein and calories, greater and greater efficiency mean that energy accounts for a small and diminishing share of industrial costs.

Nonferrous metals was the most energy-intensive sector in Germany. It accounted for about 6 percent of exports. Chemicals, where energy costs accounted for 14-19 percent of gross value added, was responsible for roughly 10 percent of exports.


Obviously, with current energy prices at their shocking levels, both those sectors, along with the paper industry are under intense pressure. The situation of the chemicals industry, where gas is used not only for energy production but also as a feedstock, is particularly difficult. But in more normal times, even if we allow that Germany benefited from discounts on Russian gas, how much difference is that likely to have made to sectoral competitiveness on global markets, let alone German industrial export performance overall. What are in play are at most a few percentage points of value added.

Interestingly, in 2015 the well-respected Frauenhofer Institute did a series of in-depth studies on the sensitivity of production and employment in German industry to energy prices. At the time the question that concerned them was the impact of removing the privileges provided to export-exposed industrial companies in Germany’s electricity pricing system. This is interesting not because it directly addresses the question of Russian gas, but because it allows us to gauge the amount of support provided to Germany’s most favored industrial sectors by exemption from electricity levies. The result of the Frauenhofer study was surprising mainly because the estimated impact was so small. All told the economists suggested that raising industrial electricity prices to the level paid by household and small businesses might cost 4 billion in exports and 15,000-45,000 jobs, of which at most 35,000 would be in manufacturing industry. In light of that fully worked out macroeconomic assessment, how large would we expect the effect of a putative “cheap Russian gas”-subsidy to be.

Taking energy costs as a whole in relation to gross value added across the entire economy, Germany before the crisis was certainly in a somewhat favorable position relative to its European neighbors, but by no means in a league of its own. And it enjoyed that position not because of lower energy costs but because of greater efficiency in the use of energy.

Try one last thought experiment. In light of the chart [right], do low energy costs help explain the success of UK manufacturing in recent years? Or, if you prefer the comparison, does Italy’s heavy reliance on Russian gas, second only to that of Germany, explain the performance of its exports since the early 2000s? Neither question suggests a plausible narrative and we should avoid drawing simplistic conclusions in the German case as well.

In the genre of Fin-fiction, the story of German exporters suffering their comeuppance at the hands of bad king Putin, is more a morality tale than convincing economic analysis.

German energy policy has been a disaster. There is no reason to pile on with exaggerated claims about the economic significance of cheap Russian energy imports.

15th September 2022     Even Chang'e, the Moon Goddess, and her ultimate quarantine is not enough for China's Big Whites ... she too must submit to a PCR test


The Mid-Autumn Festival fell last Saturday, aka the Moon Festival (held on 15th day of 8th month of the lunar calendar), it’s marked by a full moon … and ‘moon cakes’, delicious small cakes that pack one helluva calorie punch. Everyone gives/eats moon cakes. Anyway …

In Chinese mythology, a woman named Chang'e stole the elixir of immortality in order to maintain her youth and beauty and took refuge on the moon, where she stays to this day.

In recent months, China has gone to extraordinary lengths to maintain its ‘zero-Covid’ policy, locking down vast cities such as Chengdu, Shanghai and Shenzhen, submitting tens of millions to quarantine and mass testing. So extreme are these measures, that videos of ‘Big Whites’ – co-opted workers attired in hazmat suits - have emerged showing them swabbing a wide variety of animals and inanimate objects highly unlikely to transmit Covid, e.g., fish, pigs, vegetables and rocks.


28th July 2022     It'd be funny if it wasn't so true

The Working Class Pay Taxes ...

7th July 2022     Taiwan ... an updated view on where we are.

The world's media, not unreasonably, is largely focused on the appalling war in Ukraine. Still, the political, diplomatic, trade and military implications of possible war in the Taiwan Strait are, IMHO and sadly, even more worrying. This is my current 'take' on where we are at present.

China’s 'interest' in Taiwan is:

  • first & foremost military (although strangely this seems to be very significantly down-played in the international media, perhaps it just gets too complicated to shoehorn into a short (but worthless) article) to help existentially in removing US influence and trade opportunities from the western Pacific, also thereby exposing Japan, South Korea and the Philippines to enhanced Chinese aggression - and, in all likelihood, territorial theft in subsequent years – as well as growing Chinese dominance across the Pacific, further threatening democratic economies such as Australia, New Zealand and various groups of Pacific Islands;
  • driven by a popular crusade of nationalism for 'reunification’', a drive that was artificially generated ‘as nationally important’ by the CCP and for which the CCP is now 'on the hook' to deliver;
  • in part to remove the reputational threat to the totalitarian CCP of a thriving, relatively successful democracy within what is essentially a Chinese culture, as well as being a de-facto independent state, just a hundred miles off the mainland coast;
  • and as mentioned below, being 'talked up' by CCP officials to distract the domestic population from multiple, severe national problems, especially at a time when Xi is politicking for an unprecedented third term, possibly also as head-honcho-for-life.

To which end, PRC Defense Minister Wei Fenghe raised the tone of diplomatic dialogue during his address to the Shangri-La Security Dialogue in Singapore on 12-June. (Wei’s position as defense minister places him in a largely ceremonial role focused on military diplomacy, and the practical function of his office is to act as the mouthpiece of the PLA: the CCP army.) He said:

"Taiwan is first and foremost China’s Taiwan. It’s an internal affair of China's [… and] China's reunification is a great cause of the Chinese nation, and it is a historical trend that no one and no force can stop […] The Taiwan question […] is a legacy of China's civil war and will surely be resolved as the Chinese nation achieves its rejuvenation. Those who pursue Taiwan independence in an attempt to split China will definitely come to no good end. […] [China] will resolutely crush any attempt to pursue Taiwan independence. Let me make this clear. If anyone dares to secede Taiwan from China, we will not hesitate to fight. We will fight at all costs and we will fight to the very end. This is the only choice for China."

23rd June 2022     History Being Repeated - Punch Magazine ... 1904.

Punch Magazine - History Repeated

Despite the passing of a Century plus, a couple of World Wars, a bunch of regional wars, riddance of dictators and despots, dictator comebacks, a lot of boundary/border changes and more, not much has changed, has it?

23rd June 2022     Being Squeezed.

One thing that became ever more evident, I believe, clearly emerged into the limelight at the recent Shangri-La Dialogue conference in Singapore: that China and the USA are doggedly heading towards confrontation, and that 'Taiwan' will most likely provide the excuse for the rhetoric & lies to slide into war, essentially a proxy war between the two main protagonists.

During a weekend speech at the Shangri-la Dialogue in Singapore, US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said that China was unilaterally attempting to change the "status quo" regarding Taiwan. China’s Defence Minister Wei Fenghe said "China vows to 'crush' any attempt by Taiwan to pursue independence."

So was the Chinese Defence Minister simply parroting a message handed to him by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs or is he a dangerous hawk? Does it matter?

Additionally, a new Chinese taunt: China's declaration that the Taiwan Strait isn't international waters [i.e. the Strait falls within China’s exclusive economic zone]; the US is likely to ignore this outrageous nonsense and continue to sail navy ships through the Strait, observers said. The question is more how Beijing responds. The US conducts freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea to challenge Chinese territorial claims around disputed land features. "The United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, and that includes transiting through the Taiwan Strait," the Pentagon spokesman said.

There’s only 4 months to go until the 20th Party Congress (of the CCP); unless something 'falls apart' between now and then, Xi will most likely get elected to an unprecedented 3rd term - albeit with concessions being handed out to his political foes by way of Politburo seats to compensate for the recent economic debacle – which will not be good for Taiwan’s future. Hopefully, in the meantime, the new Covid outbreak in Beijing will destroy his credibility – but that currently seems far too much like wishful-thinking.

14th May 2022     the blue tears of Matsu or Kinmen … like you’ve never seen before!

The Blue Tears Of Matsu

Noctiluca scintillans - the main bioluminescent dinoflagellate in the archipelagos around here … and this is about 100x better than anything we ever saw around Matsu – bioluminescence-wise, that is.

7th March 2022     A book, a conversation between old men, a perspective on American geopolitics.

For all sorts of reasons, I invariably feel somewhat reserved about recommending articles/podcasts to a wider audience.

Nonetheless, here is one that I suspect some of you will indeed be interested to hear: a CSIS-led book review (of "Principles for Dealing with the Changing World Order: Why Nations Succeed and Fail") featuring three renowned scholars/former diplomats, one of whom is Henry Kissinger: here.

As a Taiwan resident, I’m not at all sure that I feel entirely ‘comfortable’ with all of the issues discussed/implied. But at least I/we are fortunate enough not to live in the Ukraine.

27th February 2022     Confused Americans!

29th January 2022     Electric Scooters .

Fascinating how this innovation has taken off.

I guess it was some 4- 5 years back when Gogoro launched its electric scooters in Taipei. Taipei, of course, is an ideal place in which to pilot electric scooters, given the enormous number of scooters here – as evidenced by the growing number of Gogoro electric scooters and more recent introductions by other brands. Indeed, although not mentioned in the article, Yamaha has just signed a deal with Gogoro for launching a model in Taiwan based on Gogoro’s battery swapping (charging/re-charging) infrastructure; and Foxconn (or Hon Hai) the Taiwanese MNC that assembles iPhones (mostly in China) has just announced that it will back Gogoro substantially.

I’m aware that there’s a Chinese electric car manufacturer whose approach is based on a comparable infrastructure; however, it’s a dog. The driver needs to position his/her car over a pit so that the depleted battery can be removed/dropped out, presumably by robot arm, and replaced with a fully charged battery; just imagine the design/maintenance/re-stocking effort required to install such pits, let alone the costs, both once-off and ongoing.

Gogoro’s infrastructure has blossomed here in recent years, although it was far from a given thing just a few years back. And even now, you’ll not find too many (= any) electric scooters in mountainous areas away from the cities and larger towns, let alone battery swapping infrastructure, albeit that there’s more than 2,000 such stations in Taiwan alone. Indeed, there’s one mounted on the pavement some 60m from the entrance to our apartment block. Each scooter takes 2 battery packs.

23rd January 2022     Gettin' old: rigid, stoopid and forgetful ... as if.

I rather like this article. I never much liked the author when she was an FT journalist writing ‘Agony-Aunt-in-the-Office-for-Officeworkers’ articles – less because of what she wrote and more because I never regarded such content as suitable for the FT as-it-had-long-been – it all changed (= went even further downhill) after the Japanese bought out Pearson.

Anyway, she left the FT a few years back and became a school teacher somewhere in East London, albeit that she still writes occasionally for the FT, which was the origin of this article. https://dailyuknews.com/business/why-is-it-still-considered-ok-to-be-ageist/

Why? Well, it’s not just that it hits a personal bugbear, it’s also that it serves to emphasize just how much talent/experience/capability/energy/whatever is so hopelessly wasted in western, working society. Same here too!

I’m well aware that it’s long been the case that, in large US corporations, senior staff in their mid-late 40s/early 50s are so often pushed out to grass, replaced by folk some 20-30 years younger – simply because the younger ones are nearly-ish as capable and … a great deal cheaper salary-wise. Still, that seems to me to be more a matter of demographics rather than innate capability to do-the-job, and well!

23rd January 2022     Brussels has just saved Europe - ha ha!!!

Brussels proposes green label for nuclear and natural gas … the Exploding Plastic Inevitable for European energy economics and investment https://dailyuknews.com/business/brussels-proposes-green-label-for-nuclear-and-natural-gas/ .

… not that the German ‘Greens’ seem over the moon about the EU proposal.

Like it or not, Renewables in the form of solar or wind power are more or less a passing fashion, one that will never contribute much to the overall generation mix for the vast majority of countries, and for which anyway a very roughly equal and opposite commitment to generation from rotating machines is de rigeur (combining baseload as well as dispatchable supply) - hence, with coal and oil viewed these days as nasty “no-no’s” then gas and nukes are in the ascendancy – and we can but hope that better (and cheaper?) nuclear power generation technologies will come to market sooner rather than later, largely alleviating the appalling and dangerous waste storage problems that so many countries have rushed into, heedless and apparently uncaring.

23rd January 2022     Referendums .. or is that 'referenda'? Who cares, really? or 'WHO CARES?'

Here in Taiwan, four initiatives challenging the government’s policies (effectively, a vote of no confidence orchestrated by the opposition party, the KMT) on energy, food safety, environmental protection and regulations governing referendums failed to pass yesterday in a national referendum characterised by a relatively low turnout (some 40%) and nearly identical vote margins on all four issues.

Do you care, really? Is that important over in western Europe? Strangely enough, I suspect it could become so … more of which below.

Since the early 1990s, there has been one clear distinction between the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) and the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), now the party of government: The KMT views Taiwan as part of China [whatever that may mean], and the DPP doesn’t. However, the KMT has belatedly recognised that being chummy with China doesn’t garner votes these days, let alone resolve the underlying issue that they have absolutely no clear-cut policy on the sole dividing issue (i.e., whaddya we do about China? That’s quite amazing because some 6 - 7 years ago then pretty-much the whole country here was China-leaning), And, much as the DPP would love to declare independence (i.e., from China, based primarily on the constitution, although in reality the country is already wholly independent, except for trade purposes), it has refrained from on so, largely entirely because so doing would give the other great hegemon, the USA, a superb get-out clause! So … stalemate reigns!

The KMT appears to be in its death throes: with a sinking level of support, mainly from/by the older clique, which gets ever older, further characterised by poor educational attainment (widespread amongst the post middle-aged generations) and/or gratitude for a good-pension-paying former civil service, or military, role. The DPP, formed in the late ‘80s’ by then young political activists, is almost as sclerotic these days, focused on greed and supported by rotting incompetence. Sounds familiar? [My wife]: hmm, Yep, a true-blue KMT supporter. Why? Dunno! Guess’s it’s in the blood’ … ??.

As for the referenda issues then I’d love to go on at great length but suspect that I’d soon lose your interest! Reasonably enough.

The referenda issues of food safety and environmental protection were originally introduced, in my opinion - as well as treated abysmally by the DPP who thus deserved a truly, and thoroughly, evil kicking – extraordinarily poorly, with about as much preparation as a *****. As for ‘energy’ then, to my mind, the issues were ‘politics’ with absolutely nothing to do with the safety of several million people, economics & ‘reality’ or with the multi-party failings over many years to deal with nuclear waste disposal (in the UK, then just think ‘Sellafield’). Btw, I’m pretty much in favour of nuclear generation, as an interim technology until ‘better alternatives’ can support decent societal needs. So … I genuinely regard the DPP as the party of total s***s, wholly aligned with their colleagues in the KMT. There was, and remains, only one good reason (that needs to be offset against some very good reasons to ‘can’ it forever) to even consider re-starting a project to commission the 4th nuclear generating station: that Taiwan is very exposed to the CCP mounting a maritime blockade that would, inter alia, prevent the inwards receipt of oil, gas and coal, i.e., of all other primary forms of energy and which could thus eviscerate the economy, lives too, within just a few weeks. Creating a good, sensible, flexible, energy policy here is far more complex than in many other island countries/economies – and, there are plenty of fabulously competent people here – yet: there remains a basket load of politicians here that need, hmm, let’s just say ‘early (and very permanent) retirement’.

So … Do you care, really? Is that important over in western Europe?

If this all leads to an, albeit potentially limited, America-China war then … ‘Yes’, I guess so. Given respective domains of influence and support, then the political fall-out would almost certain become global: business, trade, politics and miliary interventions .. all unhealthily combined.

23rd January 2022     Global Taiwan Institute - Taiwan/Germany relations.

Some of you may find the article below (‘Changing of the Guard: The Politics of German-Taiwanese Relations in a Post-Merkel Era’) of some interest.

Changing of the Guard: The Politics of German-Taiwanese Relations in a Post-Merkel Era

By: Dominika Remžová

Dominika Remžová completed her master’s degree in Taiwan Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London and was a summer 2021 intern at the Global Taiwan Institute.

Angela Merkel, the German chancellor who has been one of the staunchest supporters of engaging China through a so-called “change through trade” (“Wandel durch Handel”) policy, has stepped down. Under the new chancellor Olaf Scholz, whose Social Democratic Party (SPD) defeated Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) in the September election, there are both internal and external drivers that could lead to a potential shift in Germany’s China policy. This could then create new opportunities for Taiwan, especially considering that both of the SPD’s coalition partners—the center-left Greens and the center-right Free Democratic Party (FDP)—expressed support for Taiwan in their election manifestos. Regardless of whether the policy shift is substantive or rhetorical, the new governing coalition is unlikely to follow Merkel’s business-oriented approach—at least not in its previous form. 

Germany’s Evolving China Policy: Continuity or Change? 

Germany’s relations with Taiwan are conditioned by the “One-China Policy” as defined by the PRC. [1] However, in an era of China’s increasing assertiveness in both domestic and foreign affairs, Merkel’s China policy—which was based on the well-established practice of compartmentalization, or separating economic ties from security and human rights concerns—started drawing criticism from both outside and inside her own party. 

The China policy divisions within the Christian Democratic Union were best captured by the debate over whether Huawei (華為) should be allowed to participate in building Germany’s 5G infrastructure. Whereas the former Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier defended inclusion of Huawei on economic grounds, Norbert Röttgen, who chairs the outgoing German federal parliament’s (Bundestag) Committee on Foreign Affairs, opposed it due to security concerns. Others within the previous coalition government of center-right Christian Democrats and center-left Social Democrats took a more critical stance on China—at least on certain occasions. Among these was the former Minister of Defense Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, who was a driving force behind the proposal to deploy a German frigate to the South China Sea in August 2021, which was seen as a step by Germany to take a tougher stance against China. However, Merkel’s office agreed to the freedom of navigation exercise only on the condition that the frigate would not sail through the Taiwan Strait. The plan was additionally modified to include a stopover in Shanghai, which prompted critics to argue that the deployment may strengthen, rather than challenge, China’s territorial claims, although the stopover was later denied by Beijing.

Merkel’s emphasis on cooperation over rivalry with China was rooted in the CDU’s pro-business orientation. Big corporations, especially in the automotive industry, have long been criticized for their overreliance on the Chinese market, with Volkswagen and BMW generating one-third or more of their profits in China. At the same time however, the voices opposing Merkel’s approach gained prominence in 2016, when the Chinese Midea Group (美的集團) acquired German robotics manufacturer Kuka. This triggered a significant pushback against China at both a national and EU level, with the federal government tightening its own investment rules while simultaneously pushing for an EU-wide investment screening mechanism. Another wake-up call came in 2019, when the Federation of German Industries (BDI) published a report describing China as a “systemic competitor.” The report was pushed through by German small-and-medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), overriding the concerns of big corporations, and followed by the European Commission’s three-layered description of China as a “negotiating partner,” “economic competitor,” and a “systemic rival.” The BDI’s 2021 report further reiterated the federation’s China-critical stance, calling the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, formerly known as “One Belt, One Road,” 一帶一路) a “hegemonic policy” and proposing a way of connecting business with values-based politics.

Merkel’s successor will therefore face a variety of internal and external pressures, including increasingly China-critical positions across party lines, business sectors, and among the German public, as well as among leading political figures in the United States and other like-minded countries. These pressures will curtail—at least to some extent—attempts to continue Merkel’s engagement-first approach in Germany’s relations with China. After all, German-China relations in 2021 are in a profoundly different state compared to when Merkel took office in 2005.

The Traffic Light Coalition and Prospects for an Independent German Policy on Taiwan

Following the CDU’s defeat, a “traffic light” coalition (so called due to the colors of the three parties) was established between the Social Democrats, Greens, and Free Democrats. Nevertheless, it was not until about a month prior to the election that the SPD’s Olaf Scholz overtook the CDU’s Armin Laschet as the main contender for the post of chancellor. Laschet, a former Minister-President of North Rhine-Westphalia—where the city of Duisburg serves as a European end point to China’s BRI—was believed to strongly subscribe to a Merkelian China policy. Scholz—the former Mayor of Hamburg—may find himself in a similar predicament, as Hamburg is another example of structural constraints the new government will face when trying to diversify Germany’s supply chains away from China. Indeed, Scholz cautioned against economic decoupling throughout his election campaign. Although the SPD’s manifesto condemned China’s human rights violations in Xinjiang and Hong Kong, it did not voice support for Taiwan—mentioning only the party’s concern about China’s increasing military pressure. While Nils Schmid, the SPD’s Bundestag spokesperson on foreign affairs, repeatedly criticized Merkel’s “change through trade” approach, a recent analysis by MERICS shows that the Bundestag members, irrespective of their party affiliations, have always been more critical of China than cabinet ministers. Indeed, the Bundestag’s criticism of China’s human rights record had limited influence on the previous government’s day-to-day dealings with China, and it is unclear to what extent this will differ under the new coalition. 

Advocating for the centrality of human rights, the Greens have long been the fiercest critics of Merkel’s approach. Indeed, it was the possibility of a Greens-led coalition that has been most frequently associated with prospects for a substantive shift in Germany’s China policy. As the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait relations and support for Taiwan’s participation in international organizations are supported—at least implicitly—across party lines, it was the inclusion of Taiwan among Germany’s Indo-Pacific partners and the call for deeper political ties that made the Greens’ manifesto stand apart. The European Parliament has provided an additional platform for the Greens to push for stronger ties between Taiwan and Europe. Reinhard Bütikofer, who chairs the Delegation for Relations with the PRC, co-authored an op-ed in September 2020 calling for a re-evaluation of the EU’s "One-China Policy." Citing China’s disruption of the status quo, the op-ed calls for greater EU support for Taiwan, ranging from upgrading economic relations to opening dialogue with Taiwan’s political figures. As a rapporteur, Bütikofer advocated for the inclusion of Taiwan in the EU-Asia Connectivity Strategy—especially when it comes to digital and health infrastructures—and the start of negotiations for an EU-Taiwan Bilateral Investment Agreement (BIA). The parliament’s recent resolutions on a new EU-China strategy and EU-Taiwan political relations and cooperation provide further support for the BIA, the latter being the parliament’s first ever standalone report on Taiwan, which was followed by an unprecedented visit to Taiwan by delegates from the Special Committee on Foreign Interference and Disinformation.

Similar to the Greens, the Free Democrats (FDP) took a more assertive stance on China within their manifesto—in fact, a tougher line in Germany’s China policy is one of the few things the two parties agree on. The FDP juxtaposed Taiwan’s democratic system of governance with China’s authoritarian system, while supporting the development of a joint strategy between Germany and its allies to prevent China from invading Taiwan. The party even went a step further by removing the “One-China Policy” clause from its election program. However, what is particularly noteworthy about the FDP is the fact that despite being a pro-business party like the CDU, its manifesto was arguably the most critical of China and supportive of Taiwan. Indeed, when asked about this discrepancy, the FDP’s Gyde Jensen, who chairs the outgoing Bundestag’s Committee on Human Rights and Humanitarian Aid, emphasized the fact that industry itself is becoming more critical of China, as seen in the case of the BDI’s reports.

According to MERICS Senior Analyst Roderick Kefferpütz, the main question going forward is whether Germany’s China policy remains the chancellor’s policy. The chancellery has, under Merkel, seized control of all important aspects of Germany’s foreign policy, including the country’s relations with China. If this trend persists under chancellor Scholz, the fact that the Greens are now in charge of the Foreign Office will not matter, as the new course in the country’s China policy will be decided by the chancellor—who preached continuity in foreign policy throughout his election campaign. In this case, a shift in Germany’s China policy could still occur, but it would be predominantly rhetorical in nature. On the other hand, returning some of the decision-making powers—if not all of them—to the Foreign Office could help develop a less reactive, more strategic thinking in Germany’s foreign policy, which could enhance the country’s role in international affairs. As Scholz will most likely be a less powerful chancellor than Merkel, and with the Greens’ Annalena Baerbock becoming the new foreign minister, a more substantive shift in Germany’s China policy may indeed occur. However, the structural constraint of German dependence on the Chinese market will limit its extent. 

What Comes Next?

Whether the inclusion of the Greens and the FDP in the new government amounts to a substantive shift towards a values-based China policy or becomes limited to cosmetic adjustments will depend on which office decides the country’s foreign policy. A foreign ministry held by the Greens is likely to produce a genuine shift in Germany’s China policy. On the other hand, if the decision-making powers remain within the chancellery, changes to the country’s China policy will be more subtle, as Scholz may be more inclined to insist on business as usual. Nevertheless, the shift will still occur—albeit to a smaller extent—as Scholz is unlikely to withstand the multitude of internal and external pressures Germany faces. The increasing criticism of China and support for Taiwan by both political elites and the German public is one such pressure. What is more, the SPD’s powers will be limited by its junior partners, neither of whom is keen to continue a Merkelian China policy. The administration of President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) should therefore seize this window of opportunity to promote German-Taiwanese cooperation, especially in areas that are of relevance to both countries, such as semiconductors, renewable energy, and SMEs

The main point: Germany’s new coalition is set to rethink the country’s China policy, although we have yet to see whether this will take the form of a more substantive or rhetorical change. Even if the decision-making powers about the country’s foreign policy remain within the chancellery, Scholz will be unable to continue Merkel’s China policy in its previous form due to both internal and external pressures.

[1] Gunter Schubert, “The European Dimension of German-Taiwanese Relations - A Critical Assessment,” Conference paper presented at Hong Kong Baptist University, June 22-23, 2001, p. 1-23.

23rd January 2022     Beyond climate: where energy meets ESG.

And to my mind this article is no exception – it’s basically a fairly savvy introduction to the supply side of those things that drive markets – so well worth perusing, if you have an interest in the subject matter that is. It is, of course, slanted to the factors that impinge in particular on the UK market and the recent price hikes, although the issues are more or less universally relevant.

Beyond climate: where energy meets ESG

28th November 2021     Toilet Signs.

Toilet Signs

Signs to the toilets in a park in Taoyuan [in Taiwan] have recently led to some local controversy.

It is a real, if minor, issue for the relevant department of the Taoyuan City Government.

In case you’re not aware, Taiwanese people are, in general, very enthusiastic and highly creative across the spectrum of visual arts, from classical all the way through to pop.

24th November 2021     Crypto Currency explained.

How Crypto Currency works ... an analogy in Layman’s terms.

Not long ago a merchant found a lot of monkeys that lived near a certain Village.

One day he came to the Village saying he wanted to buy these monkeys!

He announced that he would buy the monkeys at $100 each.

The Villagers thought that this man must be crazy - How can somebody buy Stray Monkeys at $100 each?

Still some People caught some monkeys and gave it to this merchant and he gave $100 for each monkey.

This News spread like wildfire and People caught monkeys and sold them to the merchant.

After a few days, the merchant announced that he will buy monkeys at $200 each.

The lazy villagers also ran around to catch the remaining monkeys!

They sold the remaining monkeys at $200 each.

The merchant then announced that he will buy monkeys for $500 each!

The villagers start to lose sleep!.....They caught six or seven monkeys, which was all that was left and got $500 each.

The Villagers were waiting anxiously for the next announcement.

Then the merchant announced that he is going on Holiday for a week, but when he returns, he will buy monkeys at $1000 each!

He also said that his employee will be in charge, and would take care of the monkeys he bought pending his return.

The Merchant went on holiday!

The Villagers were frantic and very sad as there were no more monkeys left for them to sell it at $1000 each as was promised by the Merchant.

Then the Merchant’s Employee contacted them and told them that he would secretly sell them some monkeys at $700 each.

The news spread like wildfire. As the Merchant promised on his return that he would buy monkeys at $1000 each, they would achieve a $300 profit for each monkey.

The next day The Villagers queued up near the Monkey Cage.

The Employee sold all the monkeys at $700 each. The Rich bought monkeys in large lots. The poor borrowed money from money lenders and bought the rest of the monkeys!

The Villagers took care of their monkeys & waited for the Merchant to return!

However nobody came ! ..... Then they ran to Find the Employee ....However he was not to be found!

The Villagers then realized that they have been duped buying the useless Stray monkeys at $700each, and were now unable to sell them!

This Monkey Business is now known as Bitcoin!

It will make a-lot of People bankrupt and a very few People filthy rich in this kind of Monkey Business.

19th November 2021     Car Emissions.

Climate change? Er, why? It’s not so bad here … Well, guess it’s a tad different where you are ...

Copied from today's FT:


Interesting. Very! Well, almost. At last (IMHO), the big companies are getting together to say something like ‘It ain’t gonna happen’: at least nowhere near in the in the timeframe that you’re, erm, been rabbitin’ on about. It never was, it never could be [that’s just my opinion]. So … get at least half-way REAL, the enemy is not us (the large car manufacturers), unusually, but YOU, the gimme-everything-for-nothing-delivered-but-gobshite politicians and their worthless friends.

It’s late, so late, already way past twelve!

To my mind it must have been clear to the major motor manufacturers for at least several years that the political agenda, let’s say across much of Western Europe as well as in the USA, has been a pile of truly gigantic pooh in this miserable respect – which is not to say that it [the ‘goal’, like some sort of latter-day Netflix series] isn’t a laudable – if naively risible - objective.

So ... who pays the bills? Who should be paying the bills? Who should be benefiting from those payments-in?

31st October 2021     Glasgow ... with added emissions.

COP26 Diesel Generators

27th October 2021     Real Economics 101.

This takes around 45 minutes to watch but is, to say the least, thought provoking …